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Are You Religious?

Are you religious?  

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  1. 1. Are you religious?

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Well, since I was asked, I don't believe creativity proves there is a God. It was just an aside about the difference in the Christian mindset between the forces of good and evil.


And MOST PEOPLE do not choose a religion -- they just pretty much stick to the one they are born into. I admire those who explore other options are being brave.


Also, I've read a lot over the years about ancient mysteries (one of my favorite subjects) and it's entirely possible that the religious history of many religions is misinterpreted. If you doubt this, try explaining Ezekiel.

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I believe that you are correct, Dave. Most (emphasis on most) people don't choose their religious beliefs (including atheism), they fall into them culturally, most commonly via their immediate family. The interesting scenarios come where people take up a different faith, sometimes at severe cost to themselves. They can lose friends, family and even their lives. (Note the blasphemy provisions of many muslim countries that practice sharia laws.)

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Yeah, I tend to listen more charitably to people who made a conscious choice regarding their faith (or lack thereof). I respect them a lot more than people who just run with what they were taught, without applying any critical thinking whatsoever.

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Sorry for not replying earlier, but I wanted to make a complete response to everything that has been posted since my last reply. Warning: this post is VERY long. So long that the board is forcing me to do it in multiple posts.


In response to PB_guy and information, impossibility, dogma, eye evolution, worldviews:



I stand by what I said about the difference between micro- and macro-evolution. There is no mechanism to add genetic information to the cell. I repeat; there is NO mechanism that adds genetic information to the cell. If you think you have found one, then post the link. Natural selection (microevolution) decreases genetic information, it cannot add genetic information. So to say that natural selection over time is creative does not make sense.


See final spoiler.


For those with a mathematical bent, I believe that the definition of impossibility was calculated to be anything that surpasses 10^50 : 1. Where that figure approximates the number of atoms in our universe. Would you like to take a guess on which side of the line that the probability of evolution of a single vertebrate organism lies? (let alone a few thousand) But even that assumes perfect conditions. In the end, the first "supposed" steps comes down to protein synthesis. You need energy to assemble proteins, but energy breaks down proteins faster than they can be created. It is supposed that proteins are assembled in some kind of primordial soup, but water hydrolyzes proteins, and if a single water molecule grabs the end of a protein chain, it is game over for protein synthesis. And that is not even considering left-handed versus right-handed amino acids


An impossible event is one that can never happen. Even if we are to accept some absurd probability such as 10^50:1, that would still not represent impossibility. But, that is just a game of semantics, since we are not dealing with probabilities on that order at all.


First, we need to separate evolution and abiogenesis, since evolution could still be correct even if all evidence for abiogenesis was proven incorrect.


Evolution is a non-random process that operates using a couple "random" mechanics (viz. mutations and genetic drift, although the process would work even if these weren't random). I have done plenty of debates on this subject in the past, and statements to the effect of "evolution has ridiciulously high probability X of happening" have without exception been made out of a misunderstanding of what evolution truly is. Obviously this does not have to be the case here, but it would help this discussion immensely if you could post a brief explanation of what you think the theory of evolution posits.


Abiogenesis + the precise series of events that led to this exact form of life were both profoundly-chance based, but the Anthropic Principle is a very majestic explanation, IMO. I say "this exact form of life" as we as a species often take the pathetically anthropocentric view that life = what we know now it to be. Look at "aliens" in science fiction; they almost always resemble us in most ways. The life found on Earth is but an extraordinarily minute fraction of all the different possible forms that could be designated living. To extend the puddle analogy given in the second paragraph of that wiki page, consider the gigantic # of possible formations that the puddle's "hole" could take.


I use "random" in quotes above because DNA alterations are not truly random, they are only effectively random. Flipping a coin is similar; if you knew all the relevant data (velocity/spin of flip, air pressure, dimensions of coin, etc.) you could predict exactly what side would land up, but we still consider the flip random.


News flash! Dogma prevails in science. You just don't know that it happens because no-one is going to tell you, unless they want their career to be over.


Obviously I don't raise my hands in the air every time I see a science article and scream "A scientist said it, it must be true!" with a gigantic grin on my face. But again, the definition of dogma is "A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true". There is no such "authority" in science, and the nature of scientific inquiry means there cannot be.


Conspiracy theories about science have always amused me. Can you explain, or at least provide some motive, for why there would be hundreds of thousands of peer-reviewed articles, mountains of (claimed) evidence, and an overwhelming scientific consensus for evolution if it was such a nonsense theory? Is the evidence 100% fabricated? Are the articles all intentionally dishonest?


Again, I am NOT saying it is true because there is an overwhelming consensus. But if you are to claim that evolution is incorrect and that there is considerable dogma and conspiracy in this area, it is necessary that you explain why such an overwhelming consensus exists. Are all the scientists so stupid that they don't see the obvious flaws in evolutionary theory? Are they all secretly working towards brainwashing the public so that the Super Marxist Nazi Darwinist Communist Fascist Socialist Atheist New World Order™ can eventually take over the world?


Just as acceptance of an idea held by consensus does not demonstrate critical thought, neither does the rejectance of the same idea. It is all about the motives behind the acceptance/rejectance. It is not enough to claim that certain scientific ideas are poisoned by dogma; that is a position not only with no supporting evidence, but no supporting rational arguments save for those which are manufactured by those solely out of a need to come up with such an argument to hold their pre-existing worldview together.


The article on the evolution of the eye explains nothing, but it makes a strange claim, namely, "They also explain why the eye, far from being a perfectly engineered piece of machinery, exhibits a number of major flaws—these flaws are the scars of evolution." I beg to differ. The eye was created in perfection. Now, if you want to read a good article on the design of the eye, and why it had to be designed that way in order to work, I recommend: http://www.answersin...1/retina-design


The posting of the eye article was not my doing, but I will respond (somewhat) anyway. I am not nearly versed enough in the biology of the eye to be able to directly target the contents of that AIG article, especially considering how I have access to practically none of their sources. It does appear to me, though, that AIG didn't address the point of the arguments in favour of evolution that they quoted.


The arguments (from Dawkins, Dennett, Williams, et al.) mostly talk about how the design of the eye is not what you would expect from an intelligent designer. The rebuttal from AIG talks about how the eye functions extraordinarily well despite apparent "misdesigns".


But this is not the point that those quoted scientists were trying to make! They know the eye functions well. A couple quotes from the AIG page: "Williams admits that the vertebrate eye still functions very well..." + "[the distortion is] probably not much, but it is the principle of the thing!" (Dawkins)


AIG just says "this design works well". AIG doesn't do an adequate job of rebutting the scientists' arguments that the bizarre design of the eye deductively points to an evolutionary origin. The bizarre design points of the eye (the "scars of evolution" that Markus' article mentioned) make perfect sense under evolutionary theory, but make little sense from a creationist standpoint. Additionally, even


An excellent 4-minute video explaining another "scar of evolution", especially the animation at the end (wouldn't advise watching if squeamish...):



Like I said, this is a huge topic. Take Note: It will not convince anyone to change their worldview. I am perfectly willing to demonstrate the logical consistency of young earth creationism (universe created over a six day period only a few thousand years ago.). But not instantly. I have a life to live too.


I disagree, but of course we are only just getting started. I would be interested to see such a demonstration of logical consistency, whenever you have the time.





In response to Geodave on "suspicious" genomes, age of the earth, social Darwinism:


While it's possible that all primates derived from one primate, there are some very "suspicious" things in the human genome, which make it unlikely (but still possible) that we evolved from apes unaided.


Such as?


The age of the earth is pretty much undetermined. However, since there are 11000 years of history in the Ulduvai gorge alone, it's hard for me to swallow 6000 as the age of the earth. If we are to believe the Sumerian record, earth is hundreds of thousand of years old (at least). Also, the remnants of the last ice age (12000 years ago) are pretty hard to ignore.


Now when you start talking billions of years, the science is much more sketchy. There's no way to know for sure if those dating methods are valid -- it's all theory. It's certainly possible, but it's not FACT.


The science is just as valid when you get to larger time periods. Do you have any specific criticisms? And nothing can ever be called a fact, if you want to get semantical. How do you know you didn't just marry a gigantic unicorn 5 minutes ago, and then the unicorn wiped your memory and removed all related evidence? You can't prove that didn't happen. Your state of not-marrying-a-unicorn-5-minutes-ago cannot be considered sure, and therefore not a fact.


Do you know why we had "jungle gyms" in elementary school? Something called "social Darwinism". Since kids are evolved from monkeys, they must be something like monkeys -- the child goes from monkey to human as he grows up. We all know this is pretty much bunk (and jungle gyms over concrete are stupid), but you see how dangerous and insidious a belief system can be. What if we found out tomorrow that tater tots caused cancer -- could we all sue the school lunch program?


dafuq? I literally understand none of this. Can you, uh, elaborate? :P



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In response to PB_guy's "rebuttal" of the "29+ evidences" article:


Note that even the evolutionist accepts that abiogenesis is statistically impossible, therfore it is assumed (taken on faith): "it is taken as axiomatic that an original self-replicating life form existed in the distant past"


The article does not state that abiogenesis is statistically impossible, it states that "abiogenesis is not considered in this discussion of macroevolution: abiogenesis is an independent hypothesis".


Nor is abiogenesis even said to be accepted (never mind due to faith) by the article's author; not only is he assuming a self-replicating life form existed for sake of argument, he says the origin of that life form is irrelevant! (i.e. abiogenesis does not have to even be correct; a deity could have created this life form and it would not affect the validity of anything in the paper!)


I am very tempted to bring up your thoughts on worldviews here. We are not even out of the paper's abstract and many words have been put in the author's mouth which he did not say or even attempt to say.


Section: Introduction to phylogenetics. Evolutionary phylogenetic trees are common. ie. "a method for determining phylogenetic trees based on morphology" But classification of organisms based on morphology was invented by Linnaeus, a creationist who believed that God is a God of order, and not chaos. A major problem with phylogenetic trees and other related models is the lack of evidence that supports the links between known organisms and their supposed fossil relatives. An alternate to the phylogenetic tree is the phylogenetic orchard, where each tree in the orchard is the original created "kind", approximated by family, and the branches of the tree going down to species and sub-species. see: http://www.answersin...lassifying-life


There is an absolute ton of evidence for common descent (and by extension, the phylogenetic trees that common descent is so often modeled by). The genetic evidence is certainly the most overwhelming; the 29+ evidences page does cover them in section 4, but the profoundness of the evidence is unfortunately not conveyed. Even if no other evidence existed, the genetic evidence alone would still be enough to support evolution.


An excellent page which explains not only the genetic evidence, but additionally why it is so overwhelming: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/molgen/ .Unfortunately, this article is very long. I wouldn't mind it if you skipped over this article entirely; in fact, that's what I expect you to do, as reading it all would take time that you probably don't have. It is a good read, though; so far every creationist that I've shown this page to that has taken the time to read the whole thing has dropped their "creationist" label entirely (a small sample size of 2, but still noteworthy).


AIG is infuriatingly vague. What constitutes a "kind", why can one "kind" never change into another "kind" by evolutionary processes, what does classifying by "kind" achieve, etc.? Straight answers to these questions seem hard to come by, which is unfortunate because those answers are absolutely necessary if we want to dissect the relevant claims. It's almost like the claims are designed with the intention of being unfalsifiable...


Since everything was created by a single Creator, could not the same thing be said about common design? That God would only need a single code for DNA? The argument proves nothing.


That is an unfalsifiable statement that contributes nothing and could be altered to "explain" almost anything. Such claims are essentially just ways of ensuring "victory" no matter how true the claim actually is (if the animal kingdom does not have a lot of similarities, then evolution is wrong, but if the animal kingdom does have a lot of similarities, then it's obviously just common design by God, and evolution is wrong! Q.E.D.)


While "common design, common designer" cannot be disproven, my best argument against it lies in the overwhelming evidence for evolution (and specifically the genetic evidence as posted above in that unfortunately long article). In my eyes, if an intellectually honest person accepts said evidence, they must necessarily conclude via Bayesian thinking that common descent via natural selection is a profoundly more logical explanation than "special creation" is. Of course, all bets are off if the evidence for evolution is rejected.


I found this statement astounding because it is so true, and so rare.

Now for some problems with the assumptions.

Problems with Chemical Homology: http://www.answersin...ion-been-proven


"We have to realize that the entire line of reasoning by evolutionists is based upon a single assumption: that the degree of similarity between organisms indicates the degree of supposed relationship of the said organisms. In other words, it is argued that if animals look alike, then they must be closely related (from an evolutionary point of view)"


I stopped reading right there. I literally facepalmed. That is not at all what evolutionary theory is based on; if it were based on such an assumption, it would be a pathetic theory worthy of ridicule.



I have literally no idea what this article is trying to claim. I did notice, though, that it claims some stuff about a man named "Richard Dickerson" and his tests that he did that showed surprising results: "In this test, it turned out that humans are more closely related to the chicken than to any living mammal tested!", which AIG immediately pounces upon as clear evidence for a falsification of evolution.


However, doing a search for information about this study yields literally 0 results. There aren't even any mentions of this on other creationist websites. Funny how there exists this profoundly powerful piece of information which so obviously proves evolutionary theory incorrect and could revolutionize our understanding of the world as we know it, and yet it's literally only known to one specific creationist organization with considerable bias.


If you claim a conspiracy/dogma explanation for how that information is not widespread, you must first explain why that data would be released in the first place, as both the AIG page and external research on Mr. Dickerson show without a doubt that he was adamantly in favour of evolutionary theory and was even an expert witness on certain trials challenging the imposition of creationism into science curriculum. If he did an experiment that generated such anti-evolutionary evidence, and there really was a conspiracy involved, why wouldn't he just destroy, or alter, or otherwise be dishonest with the evidence?


I'm going a bit off-topic, but I thought that was worth writing.




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To ManipulatorGeneral, on the subject of the Christian God being expected to create life:


I could suggest attributes of God's nature that could explain why, with all knowable information at hand, He would decide to create rather than (as I sometimes joke) lounge around and mentally solve Sudoku puzzles for all eternity. The biblical understanding of God, as I'm reading it, is creative and personal, such that it gives Him pleasure to create and to share Himself with sentient beings; it's just in God's nature, so we would expect creative action when presented with this scenario. (Dave might have more input, as he commented on a similar status of mine; ask him.) The parents here could also relate this to why they decided to have children: not because they needed kids, but because having children pleased them. To gauge somewhat what I'm posing, you can test this thought experiment: what might you decide to do in God's position, with all knowledge and capability thereof? We can perhaps divert this thread to this thought now; I would argue that we all have ideas of what a god or gods should be and do, regardless of whether we even believe in any. I never had truly considered your query before, BitBuster, so thank you for asking it. :)


An omniscient being capable of choice is a paradox. A perfect being that feels emotion (such as pleasure) is also a paradox, depending on your definition of perfection. Additionally, one of the mandates of your God is that he must be worshipped; why, exactly, does this please him? Why does it please him to have people love him? Why would he create people and intentionally withhold information about his existence such that they end up burning in Hell for eternity as a result of using their God-given logic; does this please him?


But I digress...assuming that I could do anything I wanted, I would do nothing even remotely like what God purportedly did in the Bible. I cannot overstate how pathetic that book is, not least regarding its anthropocentricity. This extends to all human religions as well; if there IS a supernatural force that is responsible for our being here, human religions are the most ultimate insult to this force imaginable.


I also agree with BitBuster: "I guess I have questions about the utility that an omnipotent being could derive from lesser beings that are wholly his/her/its creation."





To Geodave, on the origin of creativity:


I think this is probably a better argument than evolution to make people thing about God -- if there is no God, then where did we get creativity from?

What, exactly, prevents creativity from being formed through natural processes (i.e. evolution)?


Also, it's definitely worth noting that acknowledging a natural origin of human qualities such as love and creativity does not have to diminish our appreciation of these qualities. In fact, a natural formation of these qualities (and even life itself) is far more beautiful an explanation than religion could ever offer.





A comment on BitBuster's remark on the Bible:


I think part of the issue is that even if you accept that there's a God, it brings up the issue of "which God?" Even Christianity has plenty of different sects, most of whom interpret the Bible in a different way (and within those denominations, individual people often interpret it a different way...).


Mm. One must wonder why, exactly, God would create a book that can be used to justify so many points of view that in fact it ends up justifing no point of view at all. You would think a being with infinite capabilities would be able to create some clarity, especially around points that are crucially important. Or, y'know, he could just come down and clarify things for us, but then he's no longer testing us by requiring faith, or something...


Of course, the inevitable response to this is that the book has gone through so many re-writings and so many re-translations and so on. But whose fault is that? You have a being of infinite capability that chooses to:


*reveal himself arbitrarily to a "chosen group" (lol) of people in ancient Palestine

*instruct fallible scribes to write down his will in a book

*leave the book for thousands of years to be altered by anybody with dishonest motives

*let the book be copied and recopied, translated and retranslated, by humans who are guaranteed to make errors at every step along the way

*let the contents of the book be voted on by humans in various councils

*etc. (see Documentary Hypothesis, Authorship of the Pauline epistles, Synoptic problem, how the NT canon was formed...)


...does that make any sense? (coincidentally, I can provide a viewpoint where all of this information makes perfect sense...)



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To ManipulatorGeneral, on historical evidence and the argument from inconsistent revelations:


Certainly a valid question; there are a few approaches by which I determine this. I find no historical evidence supporting religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism...(a lot more after this cut for space reasons)

What historical evidence for Christianity can you find? Genuinely curious. I think we've talked a bit about this before...


One other observation I make about the differing gods is the often-cited argument from inconsistent revelations: that all theists experience God, so why should one be any more credible than the other? It is obvious that not everybody can be correct, so the solution is, again, which god makes most sense. I find that positing the Christian God as true, or at least one of the Abrahamic ones, sorts out this problem:


I think you may have missed the elegance behind the argument from inconsistent revelations. People believe or have believed in Allah, the Jewish version of the Judeo-Christian god, the various Hindu gods, the Sikh god, East Asian gods, African gods, pagan gods, Ancient Greek gods, Ancient Norse gods, Ancient Egyptian gods, the Zoroastrian god, etc. - people believe or have believed in these deities just as fervently as you believe in Jesus Christ. People have profound personal experiences with every religion. How can you claim your personal experiences to be valid while simultaneously rejecting the exact same personal experiences that others claim? (My answer to this is hubris, by the way.) The argument from inconsistent revelations shows how extraordinarily easy it is for people to delude themselves with falsehoods. It raises not the question "which personal experiences are correct?" but rather "given what we know about personal experiences, how can we justify labeling ANY personal experiences as correct?".





To Geodave and PB_guy on the subject of "choosing" a religion:


And MOST PEOPLE do not choose a religion -- they just pretty much stick to the one they are born into.

I believe that you are correct, Dave. Most (emphasis on most) people don't choose their religious beliefs (including atheism), they fall into them culturally, most commonly via their immediate family.


I would argue this is more evidence against religion (specifically, personal experiences). Why, if personal experiences are actually true, can one determine the nature of that personal experience (i.e. which God) by looking at where the experiencer lives on a map?


My parents are atheistic, but they never instructed me one way or the other. They taught me how to think, not what to think. I wish more parents did this. I ended up going from the "null state" of atheism to deism to atheism again to Christianity to atheism a third time(or something like that :P). I'm pretty comfortable not only with what my thoughts on the issue are, but the process by which I came to those thoughts. I find it interesting that, what with this being one of the most important issues facing not only humanity as a whole but each individual human as well, that it is one of the least thought about. Critical thought, valued in every other area of life, is discouraged when it comes to religious issues. Perhaps it is the fear of not wanting to insult or disobey God by even considering the possibility that he doesn't exist. Perhaps it is because faith (the belief in something without evidence) by definition cannot be supported by critical thought. Perhaps it is because it makes people uncomfortable to think that they could be wrong about their view of the world. Perhaps it is because people have never even considered the possibility that they could be wrong about an issue such as this. I'd argue it's all of the above, but whatever the reason it's cool that at least some decent discussion can be had on the issue here.





Excerpt from Richard Dawkins' book "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution", Chapter "Before Our Very Eyes", section "Forty-five thousand generations of evolution in the lab", describing in detail an experiment which quite literally shows evolution in action, including the "addition" of "information":


I'm not typing the whole thing out :P Here's a .pdf of the book, the excerpt starts at page 56: http://www.tocorre.c...192.7509.lg.pdf (note: it may take a while to load)



To myself:


Goodbye, 8 hours of my life.

Wasn't wasted, though.

Also, PB_guy, I meant the spoiler above this one. :P




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Re: the Bible (or any religious text), I always thought of it this way (assume for the moment that the book is, at the very least, divinely inspired):



Scenario 1: The original meaning has been corrupted by human error. Why then trust the book?


Scenario 2: The book is the literal word of God (or whoever/whatever). Why then is it so damn confusing and ambiguous?



I think the Bible even quotes Jesus as saying something along the lines of "Most people won't believe in what I'm telling you." Could it be the way he was telling it (or not telling it, as the case may be?).



I also question the idea of pure faith. Think of it this way: if I was around in 33 AD, and I saw Jesus die on the cross and then I saw him walking around a few days later, nail holes in his hands, you know what? I'd probably accept anything he told me. Heck, even if I just saw him raise Lazarus from the dead, or perform any other sort of miracle (that I could be reasonably certain was not merely a fancy parlor trick), I'd be inclined to believe. In 2012, though, all I have are several variations of a book, and the testimonials of millions of people who each see the matter in a slightly (and sometimes radically) different way.



I really don't mean to focus on Christianity. I really have similar questions about other religions. But being raised Catholic, and living my whole life in two towns in which Christianity is by far the dominant religion, it's the one I tend to be the most familiar with. Plus, it seems to be the one everyone here is generally focusing on, so...





(BTW, James, those 8 hours of your life were well spent, imo. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments; actually, this whole thread is quite interesting, for various reasons...)

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Wow. I simply do not have the time to comment on all this.


I do have opinions on most of this. Let me just recommend what I think is the BEST explanation I've read of why a rational person might decided to believe in God. It's a small (but challenging) book by C.S. Lewis called "Miracles". The man died when I was a month old, and it's still the best thing I've ever read on the subject.


It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that there is no God, or for that matter, that there is no one else but me -- I think Sarte and his ilk covered all this long ago. If you really want your head to hurt, read DeCartes.


Anyway, my feelings about the human genome and human history are not mainstream and I don't have the facts here with me to argue them -- I was just sharing that I personally doubt that we evolved to what we are now without some sort of intervention.


I'm currently finishing up the book that the movie 2012 was based on. Now, that movie was mostly silly, but the book covers something that simply is unexplainable -- giant monolithic structures that are simply too old for us to have made them. These include the pyramids, as well as Macchu Piccu and sites in Mexico. We STILL don't have the technology that was required to build these things. And they are at LEAST 5000 years old. So what gives?


And the Bible is no help -- with it's references to demi-gods and genetic engineering. The fact is STUFF HAPPENED a long time ago and we don't know what it was.

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I don't think a rational person can ever be convinced of anything*. And as Forrest Gump said, that's all I have to say about that.





*Ok, this statement is probably paradoxical. But treat it as a mystical statement, and suddenly its contradictions become its beauty. Or something like that.

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Wow James. You are right. There goes 8 hours of your life. You have put a lot of commendable work and effort into this. I am overwhelmed.

Just a short (wow) summary of your postings re questions:


question: "What does evolution posit?" I would rather answer, what does evolution require in order to be valid? Statistical tests require a probability of 95% or greater to "prove" something. In addition, the theory of evolution requires chance occurring over time to add a massive amount of information.


question: "Is the evidence 100% fabricated? Are the articles all intentionally dishonest? ..."


Statement: I would be interested to see such a demonstration of logical consistency.


Question: What constitutes a "kind", why can one "kind" never change into another "kind" by evolutionary processes, what does classifying by "kind" achieve, etc.?


This is an example of the "any true scotsman" logical fallacy: "if an intellectually honest person accepts said evidence, they must necessarily conclude via Bayesian thinking that common descent via natural selection is a profoundly more logical explanation than "special creation" is."


Now, in response, if you think that it took 8 hours to assemble, it would take me far longer to respond to all points, and in the end it wouldn't change your mind on any of it. It isn't worthwhile. However, I suggest that we just take a single point and chew on that for a while. Do you want to start with information theory, natural selection, the impossibility of macroevolution, why we have journals on evolution, why creationists are not published in them, what is a "kind", how old is the earth, what about radioactive decomposition and assigned ages to rock, what about carbon14, what about geological formations, what about the geologic column, the big bang ...


To save a lot of time. I suggest you find the topic that is the most iron-clad, best wrapped up, most solidly fact-based item ever found. Something that if falsified from the evidence available would cause you to question your worldview. This is not a challenge, just an attempt to make things possible.

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Admittedly, I didn't watch that video, but I'm wondering how you can argue that it's impossible for an omnipotent being to create/cause something. Seems like a contradiction in terms.

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Admittedly, I didn't watch that video, but I'm wondering how you can argue that it's impossible for an omnipotent being to create/cause something. Seems like a contradiction in terms.


There was no time before the big bang. It couldn't be created/caused by anything since there was no time for it to be created in.

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What is "time"? Isn't it just something we measure using clocks and atomic particles?


Couldn't it also be possible that, whatever our conception of "existence," it is limited in comparison to the true scope of whatever it is that God/whoever is in charge of?


BTW (and this has always bothered me, and I know I'm not alone), is it really any more unreasonable to suppose that there's a God than there is to assume that this matter simply came from nowhere?

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There is no time before the beginning of time (at least in our universe). That does not mean that there isn't a bigger reality.


Personally, I don't think God is bound by time.

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There is no time before the beginning of time (at least in our universe). That does not mean that there isn't a bigger reality.


Personally, I don't think God is bound by time.

To elaborate: if God was bound by time, then He could not have existed eternally and thus would not be God by definition. On the other hand, I don't see how the universe could have been bound by time. We are currently diving into waters both sides of this discussion have seen much of, and thus I wanted to explain this somewhat, even though I would have liked to initially respond to some points in the response that required James to steal someone's American keyboard to type out. Maybe I'll get there later.

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OK. How about the Big Bang Theory. What is the current state of affairs?


The Big Bang theory is not without some difficulties. Proponents have to ignore the real measurable evidence in favor of holding onto the theory. What evidence? 1. Missing magnets ... monopoles (north or south only). Particle physicists say they should have been created in the high temperatures of the 'big bang', and, being stable, should still exist, but none have been found. 2. The problem of flatness, or 'infinitely fine tuning'. The rate of expansion of the universe is very finely balanced with universal density of matter, such that the universe neither collapses, nor rapidly flys apart. As time goes by, any deviation from 'flatness' greatly increases, so it had to be even more finely 'flat' at the time of creation. There is no restriction of the initial value of either factor, so this is an impossible co-incidence. 2a. The invention of 'inflation'. Because flatness is a problem, the story of 'inflation' was developed, wherein the universe went through a temporary period of accelerated expansion. This is accepted without evidence, but there is no information on how it started, and how it ended smoothly. 3. Missing antimatter. Big bang conditions must produce an exact amount of antimatter as there is matter. However, only trace amounts of antimatter exist. 4. Missing Pop III stars. Big Bang accounts for only H, He and Li but can't account for the heavier elements which are assumed to have been produced by stars via nuclear fusion "in the core", then supernovas would "re-distribute" the heavier elements into space. Second and third generation stars (PopII, PopI) would be 'contaminated' with small amts of these heavier elements. If so, then the 'first' formed stars would only contain the original 3 elements. Although searched for, only PopI and PopII stars have been found.


So, physicists and astronomers are now realizing that the big bang model isn't a realistic explanation of how the universe began. In the May 22, 2004, issue of New Scientist, (8 years ago, guys) there appeared an open letter to the scientific community written primarily by secular scientists who challenge the big bang. These scientists pointed out that the copious arbitrary assumptions and the lack of successful big-bang predictions challenge the legitimacy of the model. Among other things, they state:


"The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed—inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory."

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Well, and my inability to fully grasp particle physics may show here, it there's no big bang, then what is your theory for the doppler shifts of EVERY SINGLE STAR AND GALAXY? Either it's an illusion (www.wittywizard.com), or they are moving away. If they are, we need some model to explain why. The logical conclusion is that they were closer before, and at some point were all on top of each other. (This is similar to the conclusion that South America used to be next to Africa -- the pieces fit.)


The big bang is just one model, but I haven't seen a better one yet. Surely inflation and dark energy are weird "patches" to the theory, but they could be true. (I don't really have a problem with dark matter -- it's not really all that dark, it's just not bright enough to be seen. In fact, there may be "dark galaxies", which are lit, but are darker to us than the background brightness, so we can't see them. I remember reading about this years ago in Scientific American.)


I've heard that the probability of detecting a magnetic monopole is something like 1 per year over the entire earth. So, yeah, if we put out detectors for 10000 years, we might get a good sample size to hypothesize whether they exist or not.


I also heard (perhaps incorrectly) that all first generation (PopIII) stars would have blown up by now.


The missing antimatter is in the anti-universe. Where time moves backwards.


As for "flatness", that one is new to me. Just because two numbers are similar, it does not mean they are dependent. I'm 48 years old. The daily paper cost $0.50. These numbers are not dependent on each other in any meaningful way.


As for God being outside time, you can envision the entire "bubble" of our four-dimensional universe being two-dimensional on a tabletop, and God standing over the table, able to tweak whatever he wants, whereever he wants, WHENever he wants. This model is perfectly valid for a big enough God.


And I must say that there are too many things about humans for me to believe they were created "from scratch". We are too much like other animals. Why do we like to be elevated when we sleep? Why do we have tailbones? Why do fetuses have gill slits? Why do some people have a cranial ridge? The list goes on. We are clearly animals, yet there is a ghost in the machine. What happened? And who did it?


(Look up the HAR1 gene to really get your mind going.)

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I think of it this way: everything we believe about science could turn out to be absolutely wrong. That does not prove the existence of God.


Everything anyone believes about higher beings could turn out to be absolutely wrong. That does not prove any given scientific theory.



BTW, given that science has provided measurable results (such as advances in medicine), I tend to side with the scientists, even as they admit that their field is, by definition, filled with uncertainties and theories rather than "facts."

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Dave, I believe you are referring to redshift in general, rather than doppler shift which is inconsequential.

a cosmological redshift measures the expansion of space between light source and observer while the light is in


transit; fundamentally it has nothing to do with velocity. If the expansion is smooth in time, such a redshift is proportional


to velocity; individual galaxy motions (e.g. due to orbiting in the gravitational field of a group of galaxies) will add a


positive or negative Doppler shift.

You are probably unaware of the research of secular scientist Halton Arp who has published 2 books on the subject:


"Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies (1987)" and "Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science (1999)"


There is a review on them from a creationist viewpoint: www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tj/v14/n3/universe


Some quotes from the review:

In these two books, Halton Arp elaborates his contention that since 1966,


observations have been accumulating which contradict the generally accepted big bang cosmology. The key issue is the


interpretation of redshift, the fractional increase in the wavelengths of lines in an astronomical spectrum when compared


with laboratory wavelengths. Arp puts together a substantial body of observations to produce a very different picture of


the universe from that envisaged in big bang cosmology.


quasars figure prominently in this book. These were first encountered in radio surveys in the early 1960s. Optically they


looked just like stars, but their spectra were unrecognizable until the Caltech astronomer Maarten Schmidt found that they


possessed enormous redshifts.


Arp notes that there is considerable evidence that not only quasars, but galaxies too, can violate the accepted


redshift-distance relation. This strengthens the case that the redshift-distance law can be broken.


For example, the disturbed galaxy NGC 4319 and the nearby quasar Markarian 205 have very different redshifts (cz =


1,700 km/s and 21,000 km/s respectively), yet anyone can see from the photographs that they are connected. Thus the


quasar is close to the galaxy in space, not at its redshift distance according to the Hubble law. Despite much criticism, this


result, which plainly contradicts conventional assumptions, has been confirmed by several independent lines of evidence.


Some galaxies (e.g. NGC 1097) are accompanied by lines of quasars pointing outwards from their nuclei. Furthermore, Arp


shows (chapter 5) that the distribution of a large number of bright quasars in space is very different from that expected on


conventional assumptions, and that many are associated with nearby galaxies.


Arp also shows plenty of examples of galaxies visibly connected to smaller companion galaxies with redshifts up to 36,000


km/s higher.


Members of the M31 (Local Group) and M81 galaxy groups are systematically redshifted with respect to the dominant


galaxies in a way that cannot be explained in terms of orbital velocities within the groups. Not only this, but the redshift


intervals are quantized in multiples of 72 km/s. Despite much ridicule, this result has been confirmed in other galaxy


groups but has been ignored by conventional astronomers because it cannot be explained in terms of big bang




This quote is very telling as to the reaction of those in power who have no desire to question their basic assumptions:

Arp summarises the problem of following up research of the kind he has described thus (p. 162):


‘Since the people who make these kinds of observations have now been excluded from regular observations on the


[Palomar 200-inch] telescope . . . how can one measure the magnitudes and redshifts [of new quasars] and obtain


complete area surveys which are so useful and necessary? . . . It is clear there is a vested political interest in suppressing


these kinds of observing projects.’


And in summary:

The main significance of these two books is that Arp presents a wealth of direct observational evidence that


contradicts the foundational assumption of big bang cosmology, viz. that extragalactic redshifts are due mainly to an


expanding universe.


Hence the observed universe is smaller than hitherto supposed by a factor of up to 100. Inferred masses and luminosities


are reduced by the square of this factor, i.e. 10,000. Arp finds little or no evidence for the existence of the ‘dark matter’


which is supposed to dominate the mass content of the universe.

regards, ian

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Well, I am open to new interpretations. (BTW, redshift vs. dopplershift is just semantics. I was indeed referring to the redshifting of all celestial objects.)


Your quotes do not solve the problem that things are moving away, it only questions how far away they are. That's a time issue more than an origin issue. It's still likely that things used to be closer together.


It's interesting that Quasars also don't fit Inflation theory very well, either. We still don't really know WHAT quasars are.


The disproof of the big bang wouldn't really PROVE anything anyway, would it?

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Big Bang as gospel truth falls in the dust. Response: Ho Hum. What next, perhaps geology? Dating methods? Ice cores? None of it will change your worldview, but there are alternate explanations for what you currently accept as gospel. Everyone has the same data in real time. How the data is interpreted depends on our worldview.


I may be not long in the fora for a couple of weeks. I have a bathroom renovation starting this weekend, tearing it down and creating new from the subfloor up.


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I'm mostly just reading rather than discussing, but I wanted to point something out.


I tend to side with the scientists, even as they admit that their field is, by definition, filled with uncertainties and theories rather than "facts."

Theories actually consist of collections of facts, laws, models and explain them as well as make predictions, so theories are actually the highest level of... I'll just call it "scientific truth", since I can't think of a good word.

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