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Are You Religious?

Are you religious?  

33 members have voted

  1. 1. Are you religious?

    • Yes
      18
    • No
      15


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So, I guess it was tikme to make a thread about it. Do you follow Religion? I currently do not, but I've met a few at my University.

 

What about you?

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Although I'll participate in the discussion, I can't vote, because I really don't know. Ask me if I believe in God and I'll say "yes," but I don't know if that's because I was taught since birth to believe that there was a God, or because I actually believe it.

 

I'd like to be religious, but I can't.

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Whether they admit it or not, everyone is religious. Religion is separate from Faith. Faith is what you believe; atheism, christianity, buddhism, shintoism, hinduism, islam, ... On the other hand, Religion is what you do because of your Faith. Whether it is works of charity, or strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing up children.

 

In this sense, the christian new testament mentions religion in only one passage; James 1:26,27 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

 

ian

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Honestly, it depends on what somebody means by "religion" that could influence my answer. Christianity is not defined as a religion at all by numbers of its most passionate adherents, as it does not require any man-made constructs to practice; salvation in Christianity is not meritable by any good deeds, but is a gift entirely provided by God through the atoning sacrifice for sin offered by Christ, and this exclusive focus on God's effort to reach man, rather than the opposite, is the main difference between my faith and all others. Many historical critics and theologians argue that Christ came to make religion unnecessary (it certainly wouldn't be necessary in the Christian heaven), and that is why the excessively pious, upright Jews of the time hated Him so much and ultimately sought to kill Him, because they paranoidly persuaded themselves that Christ was challenging their authority and power. I believe modern Christianity is a religion to a degree, because it does follow particular manners of organization and other man-made guidelines, and it always will be as long as we live on this imperfect Earth, but the pure form in which God intended it to be, direct fellowship with Him without any barriers as shown in the Garden of Eden story, is not. (This is certainly a possible point of contention.) I couldn't say I'm capable of explaining this concept perfectly or in complete detail, so I would recommend further research, especially for the non-religious here.

 

Though my personal relationship with God the Creator is the number one priority, I still consider myself religious to a degree, as I attend church every Sunday and practice customs of the church. Although religiosity can certainly be of assistance to many adherents of any faith, a wholehearted belief that Jesus' death paid for your sins to enable you to inherit eternal life (John 3:16, basically) equals Christianity, regardless of degree of religiosity. That thought actually formed a new perspective in my head recently (so many profound thoughts have started appearing ex nihilo recently...it's odd, and it certainly makes me think I'm not inventing them), and it might clear up BitBuster's confusion: "You don’t have to be Christian to be religious, but neither do you have to be religious to be Christian." I hope this small piece is at least somewhat informative and/or provocative of further thought.

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I really don't know to be honest. There's a difference between being religious and believing in a religion. I myself am Christian.

 

I believe in God but I don't go to church and I don't really pray that often. I'm happy with the life I have right now, which is why I don't pray as much as a normal believer.

 

You should add a I don't know option Tom for these reasons, as well as some of the previous posters ^^

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I too consider myself a Christian and agree with much of what Andrew wrote above, particularly with what differentiates true Christianity from other religions and the politically-charged version of the faith that seems to be prevalent in American culture today.

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I know a lot of people who no longer consider themselves "religious" because they disagreed with the manner in which their church was being run. While I entirely sympathize with those who felt disenchanted by the whole Catholic priests scandal, I also think that it's not the best reason for rejecting a certain faith/denomination. But anyway.

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I am 100% atheist, and proud to be. I believe the laws of physics govern our universe, that time is just an illusion of changing energy, and that "time" and space as we know them extend infinitely in every dimension we know of and possibly some others we don't know of. When one dies, their energy is transferred to the world around them; what then allows it to transfer to "heaven" or some other parallel universe? This is one reason why I really want to go to space before I die.

 

My mother is Buddhist, and thus she believes in hundreds of gods as well as karma. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me, as I don't see how there could possibly be a higher power for everyone which jinxes one for sinning or makes good things happen for good actions. What this really is is reputation, when doing bad things causes people naturally to realize you are a bad person, but it doesn't mean killing someone will cause a meteor to land on and set fire to your house. Thank goodness Buddhism isn't like Judaism which transfers down from family.

 

While I may seem to bash religion, I have full tolerance for those who choose to believe as that's their choice and I have no reason to try and change that. Feel free to disagree with me, just don't flame me.

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You have every right to believe (or not believe) whatever you want. That's SUPPOSED to be one of the freedoms guaranteed in this country. I know that what I believe is a combination of upbringing and experience.

 

Am I religious? That really depends on your definition (as mentioned above.) I attend church semi-regularly and I have a couple habits I find useful. But that does not describe my belief system at all.

 

And I don't really care if the atheists are right. That's just Pascal's gambit. Now, if the Muslims are right, I'm in big trouble....

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I hope we can all agree on that Islam ≠ Terrorist. I actually think quite a lot of beliefs from all religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, are correct, but no one totally nails it (all of the religions have gods or a God which I don't believe, obviously). For example, Muslims usually say that once a sin is forgiven, it's done for (which I totally agree with), whereas often in Christianity everyone starts out with original sin from mistakes made by the first humans which makes absolutely no sense.

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Basically, I'm with Andrew and J.B. here. I kind of gave up trying to do things on my own about week ago, and that has really helped. And now, I can't, and won't believe that God doesn't exist, because I know he does, and I've seen first hand things he's done, and it's been a blessing. But I'm not going to bash any of you for believing anything else.

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And now, I can't, and won't believe that God doesn't exist, because I know he does, and I've seen first hand things he's done, and it's been a blessing.

 

Something worth diving into, as it's immediately applicable and opens up further doors; this assuredly happened to me during the struggles I described in my introduction thread. I saw too many incidences of perfect timing, an inner and outward spiritual presence, and sheer jaw-dropping coincidence to entertain any doubts; the equivalent opposite moment is the concept defined in the Bible as permanent rejection of God. The difference in my life after this happened and I entirely committed my life to God, I would say, was the coming of complete peace, becoming worlds more patient, outgoing and optimistic, attaining a much clearer perception of reality and especially my understanding of events in a spiritual context (such as why X event happened, what I am supposed to take away from Y, etc.), and as Ben said, there was a certain moment where God's non-existence became incomprehensible to my mind; I even find further reasons to thusly believe each day.

 

Such conviction towards any type of belief is commonly detectable by mannerisms, attitude and depth of language; there is even a biblical guideline for this: "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2:12) I have witnessed this in action on multiple occasions. When I was interviewed for an autistics discussion group about who or what I have for support, Dr. Adams could have been blind and still detected that I meant it when I said I was never alone; Christian friends of all walks of life think I'm rather "special" among them for possessing such understanding (which I certainly hope I do, but then again, I really know so little of what can be known); even an atheist friend (and a reasonably strong one at that, but still a nice guy) was puzzled that, in the face of what he felt was the better judgment of reason, I possessed a conviction that was "apparently unshakeable." I believe this happens only when somebody is a true born-again Christian, and thus it is comforting to know that all religious categories alike recognize I truly mean mine.

 

This is certainly something worthy of objective study, as many of us, wherever we stand, have met people who seem firm in their beliefs, and perhaps the firmest category is religious belief. There exist unconvincable Christians and unconvincable atheists alike, and there could be multiple scientific, spiritual or psychological reasons why this is the case; as a Christian, I hold that the cause is inwardly spiritual. I definitely hope for an agnostic/atheist perspective on this, as they're generally the minority in most locations (though not in France, Sweden and other European countries in particular).

 

Ultimately, it should be said that I am heartily enjoying this discussion; thanks for starting it, Tom. My plan for opening up religion was a small thread where anybody could explain their choice of belief in 100 words or less, then discuss later on after some time; that would also work, but I'm happy to witness this one taking off. Fire away!

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I generally find that actions don't necessarily reflect on the veracity of beliefs or philosophies, whatever else people may claim. There are atheists who do wonderful things for other people, just as there are people of every denomination who do wonderful things for other people. The converse is true; people of all faiths commit horrible acts. This is pretty self-evident, but I mention it because I have never, based on someone's actions, been able to infer anything about their beliefs. I liken it to being unable to know someone's favorite colour or style of music just by the way they talk or act...there are stereotypes, but they're, of course, limited.

 

I'm an agnostic in more than just the realm of faith; there's nothing that I'm entirely sure of. I used to think that the only thing I was sure of was that there was nothing I was sure of, but I like to think that if I had a religious experience it would change my views.

 

For example, if I saw Jesus on the Sunday after the crucifixion, nail holes in his hands and all, I'm pretty sure I'd devote the rest of my life to his teachings (provided I was sure that it wasn't just a fancy magic trick). But this isn't the kind of experience you're talking about...

 

As an agnostic, I'm somewhat suspicious of people who claim to be absolutely certain about things. Maybe it does just come down to temperament (i.e. the ability to commit to either accepting or rejecting a certain idea). Maybe the ability to have faith is biological, like being born with a certain skin colour, or being born with other innate abilities or talents. I really don't know.

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Well, I'm a skeptic, but not in the way most people think of skepticism. Like many other words, this has been obscured from its true meaning. Most people, when they hear "skeptic" they are really thinking "cynic". I am not a cynic. I believe that things (including supernatural things) can happen. I believe some things are true and some things are false. I just don't need to know if EVERYTHING is true or false. In fact, it has been proven logically that you cannot prove or disprove EVERYTHING with logic. This was a landmark proof that most people have never heard of. If you want your brain to hurt, read Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid.

 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but not having to know the truth about EVERYTHING allows me to believe in SOMETHING.

 

Tangential opinion: The "Skeptic" column in Scientific American is somewhere between skepticism and cynicism.

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I'm both a skeptic and a cynic, leaning more towards skeptic.

 

How does the lack of truth about everything help you believe in something?

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^THIS. If I don't need a complete, overarching set of rules for EVERYTHING, then I can figure out which things are important, and decide what I believe about them. The rest doesn't really matter. Like evolution or global warming.

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The rest doesn't really matter. Like evolution or global warming.

 

Those two things are among the most important ^_^

 

Also, I'd prefer to learn the truth (or at least as much of the truth as we can, or learn what is not the truth, or learn what is more likely to be true than not, etc.) than comfort myself with any falsehoods. For topics where we can't ascertain the truth, I would rather just acknowledge that fact rather than try to put substitute some random claim in because we want to. Knowledge is a reward in and of itself. But maybe that's just me.

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How is evolution important? How does it impact your life right now? Forget about the religious people who say it does matter -- why does it matter to you?

 

Also, global warming may have an impact on the world, but does it really matter whether we caused it or not? We should be worried about what to do ABOUT it. BTW, global warming is an 8000 year phenomenon -- it's not just because of the industrial revolution.

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How is evolution important? How does it impact your life right now? Forget about the religious people who say it does matter -- why does it matter to you?

 

Evolution is only the cornerstone theory that unifies all biology, and the knowledge that has powered some of mankind's most beneficial medical advances, and an amazingly useful piece of insight into our history and psychology...but it's not important. (Y)

 

Also, even if it weren't important, I'd still find it interesting, and even if it weren't interesting, I'd still not substitute some random claim in...

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Sorry to burst your bubble, but the theory of evolution has not added a single important piece of scientific information yet.

If you think it has, then fine, but in 30 years of research in forestry and fisheries, I never ran across a single example.

ian

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It's not my bubble your bursting. I don't really care if evolution is true or not. As long as we all agree it's a theory and not a fact (which is what Carl Sagan called it.) I think it's reasonable that species can become new species through random changes over long periods of time. I have a lot harder time explaining humans this way.

 

My favorite theory (which is also just a theory) is that our evolution was "enhanced" or "interfered with" by some other intelligence. But it's just as likely that we were created exactly as we are from scratch. The important thing is, none of these theories impacts my belief system. It just isn't that important to me.

 

If you insist that the world was created LITERALLY as in Genesis, I have a little more trouble believing that (I'm skeptical), but it's POSSIBLE.

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What you want to believe is up to you. With a science background, I like to separate theory from facts. A lot of what we presume to be facts are only the currently prevailing theory. I like to research my material with a skeptical bent, knowing that God will always get it right, because that is His nature.

Ian

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INDEED.

 

My beliefs about God are pretty set, and my ability to separate things like evolution from them makes it unnecessary to worry about how one affects the other.

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Evolution is both a fact and a theory. It is a fact in stating what happens; it is a theory in stating why it happens. A more detailed explanation here: click. While we're at it, on the same site is an amazing page about the evidence for evolution: click. (warning: absolutely mammoth document...but then again, that's the point ;)). There's also a ton of other interesting information on that site unrelated to evolution (such as the age of the Earth).

 

@Dave: "Just as likely" implies that we can assign probabilities to those events, which we can't.

 

 

I haven't had a decent debate about this kind of stuff in a long time...sleeping giant awaking in T-10, 9...

 

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Ah, well, I guess I could have worded that differently. Since we don't KNOW what actually happened, all possibilities are available. But probably not equally likely.

 

If you start this I may not be the best one to take the bait, since I don't believe strongly in any viewpoint. (Although young earth is pretty hard for me to swallow.)

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I was actually about to weigh in myself, and even though I know very little about evolutionary science, to take a slightly different approach, but James' input was useful in pointing me in another direction. I'm not likely to contribute much to this phase of the discussion, but nevertheless, I have found this thread thoroughly productive, and I always wondered how a religious thread would proceed amongst the CC community. This is the sort of thread which demonstrates why I vastly prefer "discussion between people who disagree" over debate.

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This is the sort of thread which demonstrates why I vastly prefer "discussion between people who disagree" over debate.

 

True. When I used "debate" in my spoiler, I meant it more as an unleashing of effort, resources, time, etc. to the discussion rather than a heated rage-inducing nuclear explosion type thread. I think how that type of discussion was unwanted was talked about in another thread.

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...debates are also too regulated, imo. Discussions are free to adapt to the backgrounds and temperaments of those who care to participate, making for a more organic and interesting dialogue.

 

Re: evolution, I confess that I sometimes fall into the "How does an eye evolve?" camp. I also confess that science is not my bag, and that I am in no position to evaluate any theory in any regard. While I recognize that it is an important issue (whether it's "true" or "false"), it's also something that doesn't really directly affect my life. Global warming, on the other hand...that'll affect my life if half the eastern seaboard is underwater in twenty years.

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I think people that deny evolution usually accept the validity of genetics, given how important and useful it is to modern science. They also accept the validity of the notion that traits are heritable, and that over time traits that give improved fitness become dominant due to natural selection, and possibly even that mutations can create entirely new phenotype, and that separated populations will diverge genetically due to genetic drift.

 

What they deny is the "long-term" effect that these things have, that over a large enough timespan, these changes can cause new species to form, and that the billions of years that life has been known to exist on Earth is a long enough time for the complexity of modern lifeforms and their equally complex interrelationships to have formed from very simplistic organisms, themselves formed from a stew of chemicals in the ancient oceans. Why they express disbelief of this when they accept so much else of modern science, despite the fact that evolution is a central tenet of biology underpinning so much of what we know, seems to me to come from a tendency to see humanity as singled out, and apart from the rest of life on Earth. This hubris is at least partly due to religion, and can be seen as part of a general mistrust of science which has been shown to have grown significantly over the last 30 years amongst conservatives, particularly the religious.

 

The worst effect that this could have with regards to evolution is that fewer people get involved in biology and the state of science suffers in the countries where these beliefs are common, whereas with climate change it could prevent concerted global action before the point that we can no longer prevent the worst disaster of the coming decades from happening. This point will probably occur before the effects of climate change are no longer able to be ignored.

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How could an eye evolve? Well, there are various levels of "eyes" in current animals, including multi-faceted insect eyes, independent vs. bifocal eyes, and eyes that don't work anymore. It may seem like a jump happened somewhere, but you should google "punctuated equilibrium" to see more on this.

 

And it doesn't matter WHY there is climate change, it matters IF there is climate change. Because if what we are seeing is not cyclical but truly is a trend, then Al Gore may be right -- and therefore we may be seeing the Pacific Coast in Colorado in the near future.

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I'll have to trust you guys on this; I have absolutely no hope of understanding that stuff (and even if I did, I lack the background to truly analyze whether it's plausible or not). :(

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This is a huge topic, not a small one. My degree is in biology, and so was my field of work, so I am not turning my back on "science".

 

Creationists fully accept natural selection. But, natural selection cannot create new information, which is what evolution demands. Natural selection actually decreases genetic information by eradicating certain alleles in favor of others. Mutations also do not create new information, they rearrange existing information, or remove sections of existing information.

 

That article James referred to uses what we call "bait and switch"

Its strict biological definition is "a change in allele frequencies over time."

this is what is referred to as "micro-evolution". It has nothing at all to do with "changing fish to philosopher". So, having shown that micro-evolution is accepted (which everyone agrees on anyways) and calling THAT evolution, they switch the meaning of evolution midstream to macro-evolution. So when they go on to say:

Evolution is supported by a wide range of observations throughout the fields of genetics, anatomy, ecology, animal behavior, paleontology, and others.

they are blowing smoke rings. Not a single piece of evidence was presented. This is a logical fallacy known as "elephant hurling".

As for my understanding of genetics, I went to class under Dr. Suzuki when he was at UBC (University of British Columbia), including lab studies in gene mapping of fruit flies through induced mutations. There is a lot that scientists are only beginning to understand in the field of genetics.

 

Regarding the "billions of years that life has been known to exist". This is an interpretation of the evidence and not the evidence itself. The interpretation arises from the worldview. (remember worldviews?) It may be the prevailing worldview, but it is not necessarily the correct one. Truth is not a matter of who gets the most votes.

 

Changing topics midstream. As part of my job, I maintained a rural weather observer station for Environment Canada for 30 years. Having seen the unvarnished daily data back to the 1940's, and seeing the deliberate falsification of data by the AGW crowd (the East Anglia scandal among others), I came to reject the Al Gores of the world. If you want to know what is really happening about the global warming thing, then I suggest you follow the money.

Two good sites for the unvarnished truth:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/ and http://www.climatedepot.com/

 

ian

 

Scepticism of prevailing dogma is not a bad thing. It is good practice for developing your thinking skills.

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There is no difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution + time = macroevolution. "Changing fish to philosopher" is a straw-man. Thought experiment: assume, for sake of argument, evolutionary theory as we know it is currently true. If you had immortality and used a time machine to go back to the moment of abiogenesis (or the moment where theistic-driven evolution began, or whatever), and just started observing life for 3.8 billion years until the present, at no point would you notice any changes at all. For every day X that you woke up, you would notice literally no changes in morphology compared to days X-1, X-2...X-10...X-100...yet if you could view the various morphologies in discrete large chunks, you would certainly notice profound differences.

 

It's like having a child. When your child is 1 day old, it looks the same as it did when they were just born. When they are 2 days old, they look the same as they did when they were 1 day old....When they are 4 years old, they look the same as they did when they were 3 years 364 days old...When they are 14 years old, they look the same as they did when they were 13 years 364 days old...When they are 22 years old and getting married, they still look the same as they did the previous day, and then you look at a baby picture and go "Wow, kids grow up so fast" as you realize how all the incredibly small changes have added up quite massively. (not intending to say that child development is like evolution [although it is, just in a different meaning], just providing an analogy for "micro" vs "macro").

 

5:19 to 5:54 of

video demonstrates this quite well, IMO (ignore the title and certain other things, by the way, as the uploader's opinions have nothing to do with the concept). The contents of the video were created with an evolutionary algorithm.

 

In any case, your definition of "macroevolution" determines where this part of the discussion goes next. Also, can you elaborate your point on information? That argument is extraordinarily common among creationists, but each creationist defines "information" differently and has different reasons why "information" cannot be created.

 

@ Age of the Earth, how do you interpret the evidence? Well, we obviously know your conclusions, but what specifically leads you to reject the scientific consensus of a ~4.5 billion year old Earth? Also, your thoughts on "worldviews" seem to imply that if a person has viewpoint X, they will never relinquish viewpoint X and will always interpret things as supporting X and will always reject things that go against X and will never even think about questioning X and so on. While people obviously do view the world in different ways, I think you may underestimate the people who try to be objective and open-minded about their views, as well as the amount of people that gladly welcome challenges to their views. (It's also quite possible, and I fear quite likely in this case, that I have misinterpreted and/or misapplied and/or misremembered something you said, but I'm having difficulties searching for your previous posts on the subject...apologies if any one of those three is true).

 

Dogma: A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true

 

That hardly applies to science. If science operated on dogmatic principles, it would fail profoundly; in fact, its lack of dogma and its openness to change is its fundamental strength. One need only look at all the points in time when prevailing scientific thought has been completely turned on its head...by no other than science itself.

 

Skepticism of prevailing thought is more a sign of the existence of thinking skills rather than a way to practice them. If one does not have thinking skills, one will not be capable of questioning the prevailing thought in the first place. And you are quite right that truth is not a popularity contest, but at the same time one must be able to account for the reasons why current thought became so prevalent in the first place. Also, one who accepts claims contrary to prevailing thought is not necessarily more open-minded, or skeptical, or intelligent, or <insert similar quality here>, as 0:54 to 1:23 of

conveys nicely.

 

Not going to comment on the climate change bits, as I don't have enough knowledge on the subject to put up a decent discussion.

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To be honest, as someone who calls himself a Christian, I don't really have any problem with the idea of an eons-old universe or some degree of evolutionary theory. The book of Genesis was not meant to be a scientific treatise in any way, particularly since it was written for an audience that - at the time - had not made any significant scientific discoveries, at least to our knowledge. If anything, the language in the creation account is heavily vague - why, even Christians debate it amongst themselves. While I don't believe that science and human observation are perfect by any stretch, I do believe in a God who's not deceptive. So if some rock appears to be billions of years old by multiple measuring standards, it probably is that old. If God decided to use natural processes across a long period of time, I don't see why that's an issue. But then again, I haven't really looked into this too much.

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So when they go on to say:

 

they are blowing smoke rings. Not a single piece of evidence was presented.

 

I forgot to mention in my last reply, the actual evidence itself to back up that claim was presented in my second link (here).

 

Also, on the subject of micro vs. macro, 5:12 to 6:06 of this video is another good example, although it's pretty much just rehashing the concepts from earlier. I'm mainly bringing up this video for the people that feel they aren't versed enough in evolutionary theory. It's 10 minutes long and explains the fundamental tenets and debunks some common misconceptions, well worth a watch.

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.answersingenesis.org/articles/arj/v4/n1/retina-design

 

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.

 

ian

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Okay. It appears that both sides are being argued quite well. This I like.

 

I must point out a couple of things though. For example, while the creation of many species from one over time is completely reasonable to most people, the sticking point for some people is the creation of ALL species from one. (This is one thing I'm holding in "suspension".)

 

There IS a mechanism to increase genetic information. You have to be careful when arguing anything about "the second law of thermodynamics" or "entropy". Not only is information NOT energy, but also the earth is not a closed system. Energy is constantly added by the sun, and lost by heat radiation. The earth has the ability to keep some of that energy, which means the earth is anti-entropic. Yes, the universe is total is entropic, but you can still have anti-entropic "pockets".

 

And, believe it or not, information can come from non-information. This was demonstrated 30 years ago as part of chaos theory. Unless you've seen it in action, it's hard to believe, but it is true. In the midst of a very chaotic system, order can appear spontaneously. All that's required is sufficient amounts of energy.

 

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.

 

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.

 

And if you tie your religious beliefs to a certain scientific interpretation, you are bound to be disappointed. We know in part, and we understand in part.

 

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?

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I apologize in advance for this extremely lengthy response to James posting of the 29+ evidences for evolution. But it demonstrates just how huge a problem arises if we engage in "elephant hurling" I only post some responses to the number one point. Since it leads to a falsification of the theory of evolution, there is no need to continue to the next one. No-one will take the time to read an entire treatise and respond because evaluation of the paper is just not that important to them. And it won't change their worldview anyway.

 

Referring to the article pointed to by James here: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

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"

 

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.answersingenesis.org/articles/ee/classifying-life

From the paper, Prediction 1.1 the fundamental unity of life

According to the theory of common descent, modern living organisms, with all their incredible differences, are the progeny of one single species in the distant past.
From this you can know for sure that abiogenesis is so statistically impossible that the evolutionist assumes it could only have occurred once.
If every living species descended from an original species that had these four obligate functions, then all living species today should necessarily have these functions (a somewhat trivial conclusion). Most importantly, however, all modern species should have inherited the structures that perform these functions. Thus, a basic prediction of the genealogical relatedness of all life, combined with the constraint of gradualism, is that organisms should be very similar in the particular mechanisms and structures that execute these four basic life processes.
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.

 

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

Independent empirical testability is the hallmark of science—in science, an explanation must not only be compatible with the observed data, it must also be testable. By "testable" we mean that the hypothesis makes predictions about what observable evidence would be consistent and what would be incompatible with the hypothesis. Simple compatibility, in itself, is insufficient as scientific evidence, because all physical observations are consistent with an infinite number of unscientific conjectures. Furthermore, a scientific explanation must make risky predictions— the predictions should be necessary if the theory is correct, and few other theories should make the same necessary predictions.

Now for some problems with the assumptions.

Problems with Chemical Homology: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/hasnt-evolution-been-proven

Many evolutionists readily admit that they have failed to find evidence of the evolution of large structures such as bones and muscles, so instead they argue that they have found homology among the complex organic molecules that are found in living systems. One of these is hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Although this protein is found in nearly all vertebrates, it is also found in some invertebrates (worms, starfish, clams, and insects) and also in some bacteria. Yet there is no evidence of the evolution of this chemical—in all cases, the same kind of molecule is complete and fully functional. If evolution has occurred, it should be possible to map out how hemoglobin evolved, but this cannot be done. To the creationist, however, hemoglobin crops up complete and fully functional wherever the Creator deems it fitting in His plan.

 

Problems with Homology: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cfl/similarities-homology

Consider hemoglobin, for example, the protein that carries oxygen in red blood cells. Dickerson says that hemoglobins pose “. . . a puzzling problem. Hemoglobins occur sporadically among the invertebrate phyla [the animals without backbones], in no obvious pattern.” That is, they don’t occur in an evolutionary branching pattern. I would suggest that they do occur in a creationist mosaic or modular pattern ...

...

By comparing lysozyme and lactalbumin, Dickerson was hoping to “pin down with great precision” where human beings branched off the mammal line. The results are surprising. In this test, it turned out that humans are more closely related to the chicken than to any living mammal tested! Every evolutionist knows that can’t be true, but how can he get around the objective evidence?

...

In fact, when it comes to many of the similarities among molecules, the theory of evolution is not only weak, it has been falsified. ... Finally, Patterson said with dismay, he was forced to conclude that evolution is an “anti-theory” that generates “anti-knowledge”—a concept full of explanatory vocabulary that actually explains nothing and that even generates a false impression of what the facts are.

...

Michael Denton independently reached the same kind of conclusion regarding homology and the so-called “molecular clock.” After documenting the misfit of molecular data with both of two competing evolutionary views, he writes this summary (p. 306):

The difficulties associated with attempting to explain how a family of homologous proteins could have evolved at constant rates has created chaos in evolutionary thought. The evolutionary community has divided into two camps—those still adhering to the selectionist position, and those rejecting it in favor of the neutralist. The devastating aspect of this controversy is that neither side can adequately account for the constancy of the rate of molecular evolution; yet each side fatally weakens the other. The selectionists wound the neutralists’ position by pointing to the disparity in the rates of mutation per unit time, while the neutralists destroy the selectionists’ position by showing how ludicrous it is to believe that selection would have caused equal rates of divergence in “junk” proteins or along phylogenetic lines so dissimilar as those of man and carp. Both sides win valid points, but in the process the credibility of the molecular clock hypothesis is severely strained and with it the whole paradigm of evolution itself is endangered.

As you can see, to present a critique of any paper will take a lot of space and a lot of time. That is why I referred to it as the logical fallacy of "elephant hurling". All points in this treatise can also be explained by the existence of a common designer.

Ian

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As you can see, to present a critique of any paper will take a lot of space and a lot of time. That is why I referred to it as the logical fallacy of "elephant hurling". All points in this treatise can also be explained by the existence of a common designer.

Ian

Plus, the designer as defined by Christianity not only has the capability to create life, but would be expected to do so, while cold, unfeeling, unintelligent matter's ability to create life is wholly questionable and, even if possible, so entirely arbitrary that I cannot accept it as the most reasonable explanation for existence. Glad I could have reached this point, and James is free to respond.

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Plus, the designer as defined by Christianity not only has the capability to create life, but would be expected to do so

 

Expected by what/whom?

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Expected by what/whom?

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. :)

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There's a difference between feeling an urge to do something and being expected to do it, imo. Some people feel the urge to drink heavily, or smoke, or use drugs, or play CC, but I wouldn't say that any of them are expected to do so.

 

If it gives God pleasure to create, does that mean that we're not the only world? Would he stop with just one?

 

Do you believe God to be omnipotent? Depending on the definition of "omnipotent," wouldn't it be possible for God to change his nature (if he wanted to)?

 

I have class, so I'll ask about the "share Himself with sentient beings" part later, but in short, I guess I have questions about the utility that an omnipotent being could derive from lesser beings that are wholly his/her/its creation.

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This brings up a completely different topic -- the origin of creativity. For those of you who don't believe in angels and devils and such, you can probably skip this comment.

 

Anyway, it's my opinion that part of God's nature to be creative, and being "in his image" we are also creative. However, since demons (including Satan) are not created in his image, they didn't get this. As a result, Satan is not creative. So, he uses the same tricks over and over. Also, he co-opts OUR creativity to do his dirty work.

 

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?

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I don't see anywhere that it is argued that angels, including fallen ones like Satan, are not creative or created in God's image. And humans aren't the only animals which are creative.

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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...).

 

If it's in God's nature to be creative, and we're supposed to be creative too, does it offend God when we accept a job that involves menial, rote labour?

 

Sometimes it's not good to be creative (this coming from a person who believes strongly in romantic ideals and the value of novels, music, etc.). I mean, if you're killing a wooly mammoth, you probably want to use the "same tricks over and over" (assuming they've worked in the past). You don't want to say, "Hey, maybe we can capture the mammoth by using logs to trip him up, ala the Ewoks in Return Of The Jedi!" I mean, that's just a recipe for disaster.

 

I'm not sure creativity directly implies that there's a God. Why do you think that, Dave?

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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?"

 

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, and while I hold respect for the philosophies of these belief systems and find significant truths within them (some of their philosophies definitely influence my Christianity), I can't accept them as a true religion as opposed to a true philosophy. As a prominent world religion and an Abrahamic faith, Islam is reasonable to consider, but I find it lacking in how it describes human nature, and I find no compelling reason to believe its alternate historical account of major events in Christianity. Traditional Muslim explanations of Christ's crucifixion are that He was crucified, but ascended to heaven before dying, or that He asked someone else to double for him and suffer the crucifixion instead; not only have I found no historical corroboration of either event (except what the Qur'an says, and that was written six hundred years later, when skeptics question the reliability of the Gospels for only being a few decades late), but Jesus asking someone else to die in His place is out of step with His character as displayed by the rest of His life, of which Muslims would have to accept much of the biblical and extrabiblical sources of to have any support for their claim anyway. Perhaps I'm rambling somewhat, but I find the Muslim account of events simply doesn't make logical sense to my mind, nor do I see sufficient reason to think that, if one accepts that the Abrahamic God exists, the Muslim explanation is more credible than the Christian one. I independently studied some Islamic theology and concepts in the past, but I'm largely operating from my own understanding here.

 

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: His omnibenevolent nature explains why everybody senses Him and why He seems to bless everybody whatever their beliefs are, and the mess of incorrect gods is an attempt of the devil to imitate God and be like Him, the same trick as always. My basic belief is that if one posits a deity, there are only a few religions which have any notable apologetics at hand, and there is one which makes the most overall sense in the broad world context; I chose Christianity as that one, and Muslims follow the same path, though end with a different conclusion. Perhaps you can grasp my perspective somewhat by asking yourself another question: if you knew there was one true religion, which one would you pick and why? Maybe even answer this before rebutting my earlier points, which I, as always, anticipate with interest. I find you satisfyingly informed, BitBuster, and I've learned much from this discussion.

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People don't choose their religion based on fact or evidence, because no religion is supported by facts. They choose evidence and facts which support, or at least do not conflict with, their religion, because they have to justify that their faith is not blatantly contradictory to reality. I'm sure that many (most?) religious people live with a cognitive dissonance of knowing things that seem to contradict their religion while simultaneously having faith in that religion. The market for apologetics to try and create "scientific" narratives to fight this dissonance is probably only going to increase even as the evidence comes out more and more against faith.

 

The only thing I have faith in regarding God is that God's existence as a concept accepted by educated people is doomed. Nietzsche said that God was dead, I think he was just a few hundred years early in that prediction.

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Plus, the designer as defined by Christianity not only has the capability to create life, but would be expected to do so, while cold, unfeeling, unintelligent matter's ability to create life is wholly questionable and, even if possible, so entirely arbitrary that I cannot accept it as the most reasonable explanation for existence. Glad I could have reached this point, and James is free to respond.

I'm not James, but I feel like replying to the bolded statement since no one else has yet... Actually, could you elaborate on this a little bit first?

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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

 

cosmology.

 

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.

ian

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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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Well, those theories still hold the potential to be overturned at any point in time, should contradictory evidence come to light...that's what I was really referring to.

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Yep -- just reading Scientific American yesterday and about 1/4 of the articles say "this may change conventional thinking" on the topic.

 

That is the point -- science evolves, religious dogma (for the most part) does not. Truth, on the other hand, is a completely different subject.

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What's your take on truth? Does it exist? Etc.

 

Oh, I think so. But most of it is harder to find than both the ultimate answer (42) and the question it answers.

 

And, while trying to avoid a Star Wars reference, I should point out that most truth is based on condition. That is, most true statements are if-then statements: Does God exist? Very difficult to answer. If God exists, is he good? Easier to answer.

 

I happen to think the search for truth is a noble endeavor, however some of that truth has to do with dealing with life -- so I'm not much for monastic life.

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Well, those theories still hold the potential to be overturned at any point in time, should contradictory evidence come to light...that's what I was really referring to.

Right, I agree with you there. I was just clarifying the meaning of the word "theory" in science. ;)

I think it's very important that more people understand that, since most people I talk to outside of science don't realize the difference between a scientific theory and an ordinary explanation about something.

 

What's your take on truth? Does it exist? Etc.

Interesting question, but it seems... malformed/meaningless to me. I think a better question might be, can statements be shown to be true, in which I would answer, yes.

Maybe you meant something else?

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Is it really easier to answer? Why can't God be evil?

 

I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

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I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

 

My contribution to this discussion: there is literally no such thing as good or evil.

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IMO there is such a thing as good and evil, but it differs for every person. For example, I think the killing of a person is evil, but millions of people celebrated after Bin Laden died.

Why can't God be evil?

 

I'll bring up the old Epicurus quote for my opinion on this:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

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My contribution to this discussion: there is literally no such thing as good or evil.

 

Then I certainly want to trot out this response and see what you think: if there is no such thing as good or evil, then all God's policies and actions the New Atheist posse are so fond of demonizing cannot truly be wrong. I find that either objective morals must exist or objective condemnations of God are entirely baseless. I can also argue along the following lines: the conclusion "there is no God" following from "evil exists" suggests that evil does not exist, which is an irreconcilable self-contradiction unless there is a means by which objective evil can exist without God.

 

Markus: My view on Epicurus' questions is that God is able and willing to prevent evil, but allows it to occur for the time being to permit free choice between the two; eventually, evil will be eliminated. If God were to eliminate all possibility of evil in the world right now or whenever it happened, we would all be dead, and nobody really wants that; God mercifully waits and allows us to repent instead. In contrast to the opposing opinions about the nature of omnibenevolence, I do not find it reasonable that an omnibenevolent God would force humans to choose Him and live in His presence for eternity. James, Markus, tensorpudding, et al, is that something you would want God to do? The only logical alternative is to permit evil to exist.

 

I've had some decent debate over the last couple days, so I'm riding on that high...I quite liked writing this here.

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Interesting question, but it seems... malformed/meaningless to me. I think a better question might be, can statements be shown to be true, in which I would answer, yes.

Maybe you meant something else?

 

I purposely left it ambiguous, because I think that the very concept of "truth" lacks a rigid definition. A discussion on the concept of "truth" could go in a lot of interesting directions, and I didn't want to box it in by virtue of a question that made certain presuppositions that others might feel is unfair. ;)

 

Anyway, how can statements be shown to be true?

 

 

 

I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

 

Well, I think you could argue the "standalone concept" thing either way. More relevantly for this discussion, I think it's quite possible for "good" to exist and for God to be evil. I certainly don't think that it's as simple as "evil is the absence of good." It becomes particularly thorny when you begin to consider good-evil hybrids.

 

 

 

My contribution to this discussion: there is literally no such thing as good or evil.

 

There's no objective thing as "good" or "evil," but as constructs that are meaningful to us, they do exist, imo. It doesn't matter if something is inherently good (or not); what matters is that we consider it to be good (or evil).

 

 

 

I'll bring up the old Epicurus quote for my opinion on this:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

 

I always liked this quote. ;)

 

 

 

My view on Epicurus' questions is that God is able and willing to prevent evil, but allows it to occur for the time being to permit free choice between the two; eventually, evil will be eliminated.

 

Is free choice really that valuable? Do we even truly have free choice?

 

That brings up another question: God apparently gave us free will, but he expects us to use that free will to choose to become his slave and do anything and everything he tells us to. Is that really such a gift?

 

 

If God were to eliminate all possibility of evil in the world right now or whenever it happened, we would all be dead, and nobody really wants that; God mercifully waits and allows us to repent instead.

 

Why would we all be dead if God eliminated the possibility of murder, rape, etc?

 

 

 

In contrast to the opposing opinions about the nature of omnibenevolence, I do not find it reasonable that an omnibenevolent God would force humans to choose Him and live in His presence for eternity.

 

Because he created us, he essentially has forced us to face eternity in one form or another (presuming that you believe in heaven and hell as prescribed by most Christian denominations). The choice, as many present it, is between eternal bliss and eternal damnation. But what if you don't want either one?

 

People always compare God to a father figure, but I don't buy that for a second. A truly loving parent wouldn't let their child burn for eternity. Some people say that God offers us that choice...BS. A parent would drag their kid away from that fate, no matter how obnoxious the kid, no matter how much he/she professed to hate the parent. BTW, this brings up something else that troubles me: the whole "if you aren't with me, you're against me" thing that God seems to be into.

 

 

 

James, Markus, tensorpudding, et al, is that something you would want God to do? The only logical alternative is to permit evil to exist.

 

Like I said before, God has forced us to live in the first place. There are a lot of things he apparently does that I would not want him to do...

 

I can't answer for anyone else, but if it came down to the choice between eternal bliss and eternal suffering, I'd be more than happy if God pulled me into the realm of eternal bliss. BTW, why didn't he just place all of us into the "eternal bliss" state in the first place? Yes, yes, yes, you can go on about the garden of Eden, but I'm not sure if I'd call that a truly blissful place, given God's somewhat arbitrary rules:

 

 

God: You may not eat from that tree.

 

Adam: Why not?

 

God: It contains knowledge.

 

Adam: I don't understand.

 

God (with a sigh): Just don't eat from that tree.

 

Adam: Why not?

 

God: Because then you will understand why you shouldn't eat from it.

 

Adam: I still don't see why I can't eat that apple. It looks so delicious!

 

God: I put it there to tempt you. I want you to remain ignorant. Just don't eat it.

 

Snake (whispering to God): If eating the apple is the only way he'll know not to eat it, what do you think is going to happen?

 

God (to Adam, ignoring the snake): Just don't eat the ----ing thing, ok?

 

 

I mean, you get the idea.

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Then I certainly want to trot out this response and see what you think: if there is no such thing as good or evil, then all God's policies and actions the New Atheist posse are so fond of demonizing cannot truly be wrong.

 

I agree! :) Those policies and actions are not objectively wrong, they just contradict the qualities that your God is supposed to have.

 

I find that either objective morals must exist or objective condemnations of God are entirely baseless. I can also argue along the following lines: the conclusion "there is no God" following from "evil exists" suggests that evil does not exist, which is an irreconcilable self-contradiction unless there is a means by which objective evil can exist without God.

 

Even if I don't think an objective morality is possible, I can still assume that it does for sake of argument. An implied piece of the argument you outlined is missing. It should be (italics mine): the conclusion "there is no God" follows from "what is called evil exists when it should not if God exists" (note that I do not necessarily agree with this atheistic argument, but I do disagree with what you have said)

 

God would force humans to choose Him and live in His presence for eternity. James, Markus, tensorpudding, et al, is that something you would want God to do?

 

Whether that's what I want him to do or not, that's what he IS doing. God gives the dichotomy of "come with me or suffer". If I hold a knife to your throat and demand you give me $200 or I'll kill you, is it your choice to give me the $200? Is that a "choice" that a benevolent God would offer to others? (also, the "good" choice in the God dichotomy is loving him...what kind of twisted being forces someone to love him by having the alternative be an infinite torture?)

 

(I don't really understand what you said before the section I quoted, so you might have your response in there somewhere, but I feel obligated to say that God created the rules of the universe, as well as the rules by which people get judged by, etc., so any response involving, say, sin is rebutted by how God could have just not created sin, God could have created sin differently, etc.)

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Whether that's what I want him to do or not, that's what he IS doing. God gives the dichotomy of "come with me or suffer". If I hold a knife to your throat and demand you give me $200 or I'll kill you, is it your choice to give me the $200? Is that a "choice" that a benevolent God would offer to others? (also, the "good" choice in the God dichotomy is loving him...what kind of twisted being forces someone to love him by having the alternative be an infinite torture?)

 

...

 

I feel obligated to say that God created the rules of the universe, as well as the rules by which people get judged by, etc., so any response involving, say, sin is rebutted by how God could have just not created sin, God could have created sin differently, etc.

 

Great post, James. Agree with this completely.

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I would open that by asking whether evil can exist as a standalone concept. I believe evil is the absence of good; would good be the absence of evil if there existed an evil god? I heard this hypothesis promoted in debate and found it odd, but nevertheless worth considering, unlike some who consider it absolutely ridiculous.

If evil was the absence of good, would that mean we had to classify all actions as good or evil? If so, would sitting idly be evil? If not, what exactly do you mean by evil being the absence of good, if not in the context of behavior?

 

I purposely left it ambiguous, because I think that the very concept of "truth" lacks a rigid definition. A discussion on the concept of "truth" could go in a lot of interesting directions, and I didn't want to box it in by virtue of a question that made certain presuppositions that others might feel is unfair. ;)

 

Anyway, how can statements be shown to be true?

Yeah, I agree with you here.

 

Anyway, I think statements can be shown to be consistent with observation and evidence, in which we may call them 'true', and statements can be shown to be consistent with a given some set of axioms, in which we could say they're true, given the axioms are true somehow.

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Wow. So many things to comment on.

 

First, it is possible to prove an "if-then" statement to be true, even if you don't know the truth of either part. That is, you can prove "a implies b" to be true or false, based on it's truth table, without actually knowing if a is true or false.

 

Second, I did a paper on an evil God in college. Basically, I said it was possible, but unlikely. It would be hard to call such a diety "Father" or put any faith in him. And it would be difficult to figure out why such a diety would create us in the first place.

 

As for Atheism being logically inconsistent, I contend that belief systems aren't logical anyway -- they're emotional. Every atheist I have met personally (or read) is ANGRY about something. The Church did something terrible, or their parents disappointed them, or SOMETHING. So, it doesn't have to be logically consistent, since that's not why people believe.

 

And things like Eden and Hell are not necessarily literal, in my personal view.

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Second, I did a paper on an evil God in college. Basically, I said it was possible, but unlikely. It would be hard to call such a diety "Father" or put any faith in him. And it would be difficult to figure out why such a diety would create us in the first place.

It may be hard to call an evil diety "Father" and put faith in him, but that wouldn't make one less likely to exist. It would be figure out why this diety would create us in the first place, yes, but this seems to me to be true whether or not the diety is evil. Would a good diety create us so that we could enjoy life? Why not an evil diety so we could suffer?

 

As for Atheism being logically inconsistent, I contend that belief systems aren't logical anyway -- they're emotional. Every atheist I have met personally (or read) is ANGRY about something. The Church did something terrible, or their parents disappointed them, or SOMETHING. So, it doesn't have to be logically consistent, since that's not why people believe.

Atheism itself isn't a belief system, though atheists could still have belief systems. It seems to me that most atheists consider a-theist to mean not-theist (not a believer in god(s)). In that case, atheism couldn't be logically inconsistent. Also, there are atheists out there who are angry at religion or something events in their lives related to religion, but definitely not all of them.