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Author Topic: Theory of Evolution Primer
Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
Mucus, the Bible employs common human manners of speaking. So do we today, when we speak of "the four corners of the earth," or "sunrise" or "sunset," etc. We know it is the earth that moves, yet we still speak this way. Everyone understands what is meant, which is the important thing.

Clearly not. I refer you to the previous letter by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine in which he references, "And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe."

There is no room for an allegorical interpretation. Indeed the letter goes on to say, "one may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers. I add that the words ' the sun also riseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteneth to the place where he ariseth, etc.' were those of Solomon, who not only spoke by divine inspiration but was a man wise above all others and most learned in human sciences and in the knowledge of all created things, and his wisdom was from God. Thus it is not too likely that he would affirm something which was contrary to a truth either already demonstrated, or likely to be demonstrated."

I would also refer you to:

quote:


"There are many such passages in the Bible, outstanding among them being, of course, the one relating how Joshua commanded, "Move not, O sun, toward Gabaon, nor thou, O moon, toward the valley of Ajalon," whereupon, "the sun and the moon stood still, till the people revenged themselves of their enemies" (Jos.10:12-13). And again, as St. Robert Bellarmine pointed out, the Preacher says," The sun riseth and goeth down and returneth to his place: and there rising again, maketh his round by the south and turneth again to the north" (Eccles. 1:5-6)

"Scripture also specifies that the Earth is immovable in the face of these solar and lunar peregrinations, Psalm 92 stating flatly that God "hath established the world which shall not be moved." Psalm 103 says He has"founded the earth upon its own bases ; it shall not be moved forever and ever," Psalm 95 telling us God has "corrected the world, which shall not be moved." Again, in I Paralipomenon 16:30, "He hath founded the earth immovable," and according to Job 26:7, God by His power"stretched out the north over the empty space and hangeth the earth upon nothing." No less an authority than the Catechism of the Council of Trent, in its commentary on the Creed, states furthermore, "The earth also God commanded to stand in the midst of the world, rooted in its own foundation."


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Dagonee
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quote:
Dragonee, what is your problem?
My problem is that you're being quite rude.

You flat out said that anyone who sees contradictions is "[un]willing to figure out what is really being said." In other words, if we disagree with you, it's because we're not willing to - that is, are intentionally choosing not to - try to understand Scripture.

You also state that a particular interpretation is not only unfair, but so obviously unfair that "most people" would see it as such. Besides being pretty much unsupportable - far fewer people agree with your interpretations of the Bible than disagree with them - it again questions motive.

BTW, there's no "r" in my screenname.

quote:
Those statements are entirely true--this is what I have observed, that you can approach Scripture in the manner of a scholar, careful to be fair about what it actually says, or jumping to conclusions and reading into it private assumptions.
You have also stated something else: that those who disagree with your interpretation can only have done so by virtue of their unwillingness to look at the Bible fairly.

quote:
If you find anything objectionable with such statements, then you have a serious problem that is not of my making. I am talking about proper methodology in interpretation of Scripture.
Actually, you're talking about your method of interpreting Scripture. Beyond that, you have judged the motives of everyone who doesn't use your method and reach the same conclusions you do. It's arrogant. It's also fairly laughable.

quote:
Furthermore, those statements were not aimed at any specific person, but were stated generally. Why on earth did you take personal offence? Perhaps you are inferring things where nothing was implied.
I didn't take personal offense. I decided to publicly call you out on your rudeness and your inability to grant that people of good faith can disagree with you about how Scripture should be interpreted.
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Ron Lambert
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Mucus, God has not placed Himself on trial in the human language of the Bible. He inspired its writers with ideas, but did not dictate to them word for word. The writers of the Bible were His penmen, not His pen. The only things in this world God wrote Himself, personally, were the ten commandments which He inscribed with His own finger on tables of stone, and the handwriting on the wall at Balshazzar's feast.

I do not recognize commentators, even be they cardinals, as having authority equal to the Bible. If you want to convict the Bible, you have to convict the Bible on its own testimony, not on what others say it says.

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Ron Lambert
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Dragonee, you persist in mischaracterizing what I say. There is no rudeness in what I said. You are just being insulting, totally without cause. If that is the only way you have of arguing, then you are not very good at it.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
Dragonee, you persist in mischaracterizing what I say. There is no rudeness in what I said. You are just being insulting, totally without cause.

I agree with Dags' reading of your post. And there is still no "r" in Dagonee's SN, On.
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Dagonee
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Again, there is no "r" in my screenname.

I note that I gave specifics, using your own words, to support my conclusions. You have simply categorically stated that I am mischaracterizing what you have said. You haven't even bothered to explain how what I said isn't true.

I don't expect you to actually do so at this point - I've seen you operate this way before - but I'd like to make it crystal clear to those reading this that you are actively avoiding the issue.

So, do you think that one who is willing to figure what is really being said in the Bible can see contradictions therein?

Do you think it's possible for someone who is not just trying to seize upon something they can claim is a contradiction can see contradictions in the Bible?

If the answer to either question is "no," then please explain how my characterization is inaccurate.

If the answer to both questions is "yes," you need to retract your statement.

Let me be crystal clear about something else: I interpret the Bible quite differently than you . I see some things in there as contradictions if interpreted literally. I have spent many hours studying these things. According to your statement which I originally quoted, I am unwilling to figure out what is really said in the Bible and I am only looking for things I can claim are contradictions.

This is wrong. It is not "something you have observed" because, to the best of my knowledge, you have neither met me nor read my mind from afar. You utterly lack the knowledge necessary to support your contention. You have made a statement which is in error.

If you persist in doing so after having been informed of your error, you will be lying.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you want to convict the Bible, you have to convict the Bible on its own testimony, not on what others say it says.
Or, apparently, what it says. Because it appears that its "testimony" is not necessarily dependent on its text.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:

I do not recognize commentators, even be they cardinals, as having authority equal to the Bible. If you want to convict the Bible, you have to convict the Bible on its own testimony, not on what others say it says.

Of course the "commentators" in this case are quoting directly from the Bible.
Go ahead and deal specifically with their examples.

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Ron Lambert
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Sorry about adding the "r" to Dagonee.

Dagonee, I suspect that the reason for your overwrought and way out of proportion response to the reasonable things I have written is that you may be resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and you are just taking it out on me. I feel honored and thankful if the Lord can use what I write to bring conviction to people.

I do not submit to the kind of bullying manipulation you, and to a lesser extent, Mucus, are attempting. I do not have to answer anything on your terms. You do not get to frame the debate and set out any list of what I must say or respond to. I have already said all I need to say to be fully and completely responsive to the points being debated. Why don't you respond point-by-point to my substantive, Scripture-based arguments? All you have done is be insulting and feign offense at my definite arguments and citing of evidence that contradict your absolute statements of what the Bible teaches, etc.

As one who personally knows the God of the Bible, and has studied the Bible for six decades of life, I believe I am justified in having some confidence in what I say about the Bible and what it teaches. One of the things a sincere student of God's Word must learn, is the necessity to accept correction when he is wrong so he can become correct. I have six decades of being corrected by the Lord. This entitles me to more strength of conviction than those who may not be in the habit of admitting to a need for correction at all, especially where spiritual things are concerned.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
If there are some more specific examples of "mutually exclusive" statements, please state them, and I will show you why they are not mutually exclusive.

For the record, in regards to my statements specifically directed to you, I was just taking you up on this challenge. I'm not sure how this would be classified as "bullying manipulation."
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Dagonee
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quote:
Dagonee, I suspect that the reason for your overwrought and way out of proportion response to the reasonable things I have written is that you may be resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and you are just taking it out on me. I feel honored and thankful if the Lord can use what I write to bring conviction to people.
More motive guessing. Let's see if I can engage in some of my own:

you actually realize that my characterization of what you said is just and accurate. You cannot, however, admit in public that you are wrong. Therefore, you have siezed this new theory - that I am being "convicted" by the Holy Spirit - because you are incapable of actually framing a response to what I have said.

quote:
I do not submit to the kind of bullying manipulation you
Funny, that's pretty much the reason I posted about those two comments - because your bullying style has gotten quite tiresome on this topic.

quote:
You do not get to frame the debate and set out any list of what I must say or respond to.
And you do not get to define why others believe what they believe about biblical interpretation.

quote:
I have already said all I need to say to be fully and completely responsive to the points being debated.
No. You have yet to address the point being debated - which is whether or not it is possible to disagree with your conclusions for reasons other than those you have assigned to the billions of people who disagree with you.

quote:
Why don't you respond point-by-point to my substantive, Scripture-based arguments?
Because I haven't made an argument concerning those. I have my own beliefs - beliefs I've both developed on my own and by incorporating the thoughts of far more learned Bible scholars than you. I probably agree with more of what your saying than all but a very few people here.

quote:
All you have done is be insulting and feign offense at my definite arguments and citing of evidence that contradict your absolute statements of what the Bible teaches, etc.
I haven't made any absolute statements about what the Bible teaches. In fact, I haven't made any statements about what the Bible teaches. I pointed out a place where the Bible seems to contradict itself, in response to your request, mainly because I was actually interested in your response. Now, though, it's clear you have no interest in teaching or engaging in dialog.

You have told me that I am unwilling to discern the true meaning of scripture and that I interpret it unfairly. I have characterized those statements - and you have yet to actually respond to those characterizations and the reasons for them with anything other than a "na-uh!"

And then you have the gaul to take pride in the fact that you're helping the Spirit convict me?

Get over yourself. Better yet, start engaging in discussion and stop telling people who disagree with you that they are intellectually dishonest.

quote:
As one who personally knows the God of the Bible, and has studied the Bible for six decades of life, I believe I am justified in having some confidence in what I say about the Bible and what it teaches.
Where does your confidence in your mind-reading abilities come from?

quote:
This entitles me to more strength of conviction than those who may not be in the habit of admitting to a need for correction at all, especially where spiritual things are concerned.
More arrogant hogwash based on an ability - mental telepathy - that you don't possess.

You are the expert on what you know, what you believe, and why you believe it. You are an utter novice who has shouted his ignorance to the world about what I know, what I believe, and why I believe it.

Face it: you are making bold pronouncements about things you don't and can't know. (And I'm not talking about Bible interpretation here.)

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King of Men
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This kind of arrogant conviction is precisely why only measurable evidence which can be shown to others should be admitted into any debate. There is clearly no way to convince Ron that he's wrong short of some weeks in a re-education camp. Real evidence can be appealed to neutral observers; it can be used to make working technologies; it convinces without the need for browbeating or charisma. This is why the experience of theists, however real it seems to them, is just not acceptable as an argument, and should not be accepted even by themselves: If you permit that kind of evidence, then the only way to resolve any conflict is the old way with bullets and swords. It's been tried; it's nasty. I can see that Ron is beyond hope, but please, BlackBlade, Dagonee, don't go there. Find some evidence for your respective positions that will convince someone neutral, or give up arguing for them. If indeed Ron is sixty, he is a problem to be outlived rather than solved; don't be the next generation of the problem.
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Shigosei
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<booming voice> Dagonee, this is God. Have you stopped misinterpreting the Bible yet? </booming voice>
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Dagonee
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<whiny Kent voice>No...I mean yes.</whiny Kent voice>
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Reshpeckobiggle
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Ron, I commend you for your effort. Trust me, I've been there. It's pretty much like banging your head a gainst a brick wall. I don't do what I do here to convince, because we all know that's not gonna happen (at least not with the couple of yahoos who keep popping up with the same old refusal to engage and rather just look for hole in your argument to exploit.) I just look at it like it's training, or practice.

Mucas, KoM, I never attested to what I think was the actual process of Creation. I entertain notions of theistic evolution. I also entertain the young earth model. I find that it is an acceptable explantion if you throw out certain premises that aren't rock solid anyway, though not necessarily untrue. I don't know what happened. I don't think naturalistic evolution did. But the point that I keep trying to make that none of you wish to input into your brains is that it is not reasonable to throw out all other theories simply because the one you are sticking with appears to you to be infallible, especially when the evidence of history shows that there is a significant possibility that the theory is in fact a brilliant construct that fits the evidence as well as it does and yet still is untrue.

(p.s,KoM. Catharsis is what happens to the hero guilty of hubris. Oedipus, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, Tartuffe, Joe Kellar from All my Sons, etc.)

I can try to argue the individual points of evoultion and will probably lose, as has happened, because I don't have the expertise or the rhetorical skills of my opponents. But that is only because I can only engage the arguments within the paradigm in which they and their proponents exist. And in that paradigm, evolution is rock solid and unassailable.

Earlier I tried making the point that it is an unfalsifiable theory in an attempt to express why I could recognize the strength of the theory while still not accepting it, but that wasn't getting my idea across. After sleeping on it, I came away with my current understanding of the different paradigms. I'm not in that paradigm, and neither is Ron, apparently. We're not going to convince each other of our respective sides because of this. The "real evidence" you refer to KoM, that is what I'm talking about. Only what is within your paradigm can be called real. Ron must leave everything that is real to him at the door.

What I am trying to establish is the existence of these paradigms, and maybe even the usefulness of trying to enter each other's world of perception in order to debate fairly. I know that when I enter your world, I find it hard to argue effectively. But I don't see any of you coming over here. If you did, maybe you would see why we think your world looks so small to us.

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Shigosei
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I lived in that paradigm, in that world. I understand it. Having lived in both worlds, I think the one where I am free to draw conclusions about reality based on new evidence is the better one. I'm not saying anyone else does or has done this, but for a time I avoided evidence that the Bible was wrong. I shut my mind to the possibilities that there might be contradictions in the literal interpretations. It's nice to no longer be so attached to any one idea that I have to protect myself by shutting down my mind. I'm glad that I don't have to worry about the state of my soul because I can't make sense of the varying statements about what one must do to be saved.

Another thought: there's no way the ancient Hebrews had the concepts or even the language necessary to communicate the Big Bang or evolution. What if Genesis is just an approximation or allegorical tale for the people who lived then and didn't have the knowledge necessary to grasp the concepts involved?

God: Hey, Moses, write this down: "In the beginning, the universe underwent rapid expansion, with space-time itself growing rapidly. Space was full of a highly energetic quark-gluon plasma, which cooled as the universe expanded. Eventually, hydrogen and helium atoms formed--"
Moses: What are you talking about?
God: Oh, forget it. Just put down "Let there be light" and leave it at that.

On the other hand, God could have impressed a lot of people by saying that Adam was made out of stardust instead of the dust of the earth. That would have definitely anticipated the discovery that heavier elements are created in supernovas.

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pfresh85
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quote:
Originally posted by Shigosei:
Another thought: there's no way the ancient Hebrews had the concepts or even the language necessary to communicate the Big Bang or evolution. What if Genesis is just an approximation or allegorical tale for the people who lived then and didn't have the knowledge necessary to grasp the concepts involved?

God: Hey, Moses, write this down: "In the beginning, the universe underwent rapid expansion, with space-time itself growing rapidly. Space was full of a highly energetic quark-gluon plasma, which cooled as the universe expanded. Eventually, hydrogen and helium atoms formed--"
Moses: What are you talking about?
God: Oh, forget it. Just put down "Let there be light" and leave it at that.

Ha. Awesomest explanation ever. [Big Grin]
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mr_porteiro_head
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There's actually a short story about that. Moses is trying to explain the big bang to Aaron, but he keeps telling Moses that he doesn't have enough parchment for all of that, so he has to trim it down to "let there be light".
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
But the point that I keep trying to make that none of you wish to input into your brains is that it is not reasonable to throw out all other theories simply because the one you are sticking with appears to you to be infallible, especially when the evidence of history shows that there is a significant possibility that the theory is in fact a brilliant construct that fits the evidence as well as it does and yet still is untrue.

I recently read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It was fascinating. I highly recommend it.

One thing that I walked away with, in spite of the author's (perceived by me) intention was how short of a time we've believed so many of the things that we presently do. It really made me wonder how quaint our current theories will look to the next generation.

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Jim-Me
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*high fives for the "Real Genius" references*

Shigosei... I honestly believe something like that actually happened.

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King of Men
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I'm not even going to bother arguing evolution with Resh anymore, as it's clear he does not wish to do so honestly, but I will point out that he's wrong about catharsis. From the Wiki:

quote:
Using the term 'Catharsis' to refer to a form of emotional cleansing was first done by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his work Poetics. It refers to the sensation, or literary effect, that would ideally overcome an audience upon finishing watching a tragedy.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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Thanks, mph. My point exactly.

And thank you Shigosei. That would be theistic evolution on the cosmic scale, and something I think is perfectly feasible.

As for the paradigm you are talking about, that's not what I'm talking about. I don't take the Bible to be ultimate truth. I believe/have faith that it is a reflection of the ultimate truth and one of many guides to take you there. I think philosophy and perhaps most other religions are as well.

I think science is also a path toward truth, but it has a serious flaw, in that it allows for no supernatural causes and effects, which, by it's very nature, science cannot prove or disprove. Maybe there is no supernature, and if that is the case, it may turn out that science is the best path, and perhaps the only path. But if supernature does exist, if anything outside the realm of science exists (such as, what happened before the big bang,) then science is fundamentally limited. And since these ifs are outside the paradigm of proof/disproof, I don't think we can ever know on way or the other. Therefore, I find value in skepticism and humility, and counterintuitivly, faith. And this is also why I warn against the arrogance, elitism, and yes, hubris, exhibited by KoM and Tom Davidson.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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The greek words hubris and catharsis have no translation, and that is why we use them. The moment of catharsis that "overcomes and audience" is a result of what happens to the hero. There is a vaguery there that is definitelt lost in translation. But rather than get caught up in semantics, lets stay on point. I got band practice, I'll check back in a few hours.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
One thing that I walked away with, in spite of the author's (perceived by me) intention was how short of a time we've believed so many of the things that we presently do. It really made me wonder how quaint our current theories will look to the next generation.

Computers are even newer than the theory of evolution, yet you don't seem to have any difficulty using those.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
[Science] allows for no supernatural causes and effects, which, by it's very nature, science cannot prove or disprove.
Close, but not quite. It's not "supernaturalness" which bars science from religious matters -- it's the fact that most of our religious/spiritual matters depend on the beliefs of the experimenter.

quote:
Computers are even newer than the theory of evolution, yet you don't seem to have any difficulty using those.
A) I said nothing about the theory of evolution. I'd bet money that you don't know what I think about evolution.

B) There's a difference between technology and science. Computers, especially my personal use of them, are much closer to the technology side of things.

C) There's also a big difference between something being useful and being True. Newtonian physics are incredibly useful, but it still seems silly and quaint to us today when we read of people who, based on their Newtonian knowledge of celestial bodies, thought that they really starting to fully understand how the universe works.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Reshpeckobiggle:
... is that it is not reasonable to throw out all other theories simply because the one you are sticking with appears to you to be infallible, especially when the evidence of history shows that there is a significant possibility that the theory is in fact a brilliant construct that fits the evidence as well as it does and yet still is untrue.

As an observation, your choice of the term "infallible" is an odd one. The term is usually used to describe Christian teachings within the Church. At various points in history, indeed even within certain denominations in existence right now, one (or all) of the doctrines, scriptures, or papal figures have each been described as infallible.
Christians *have* made the declaration that any of the three is infallible.

As a contrast, the whole of the scientific method is based on hypothesis, experimental evidence, and verification. It never claims to be infallible, hence the need for review committees, third party verification of experimental results, new theories, etc.

It is true that science cannot *disprove* theories such as God created the universe. However, that does not mean they are suddenly on an equal footing. The celestial teapot or IPU are good examples of why this is.

Reading through the posts in this thread, I also noticed on strange paragraph of yours that no one (as far as I can tell) commented on:
quote:
... Again, I am not saying evolution didn't happen. My argument is against atheism. The only way that evolution could have occurred is for God or some higher power to have been the guiding force. And so we might as well stick with what people have believed consistently throughout history, and that God did all this.
Belief in God (*singular*) is not at all consistent throughout history. First, it is not even consistent among current religions. Hinduism believes in god*s* and Bhuddism does not even have a creator god.
Historically, Judaism only started the concept of "God" in the 13th century BC which is a fraction of the 200 *thousand* year history of humankind. One can even note the existence of Taoism and Confucianism, which is partially responsible for the lack of religion in China till the modern day (the religious only comprise about 15% of the Chinese population).
So consistent belief in "God"? Hardly

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Tarrsk:

Edit (again, sorry): I should add that the majority of scientists are, in fact, religious. My current supervisor, at the NIH lab in which I work, is an observant Catholic who wore the cross on his forehead for Ash Wednesday today, and he is a PhD whose work relies heavily on how genetic homology (which decreases over time as species diverge) allows us to make predictions of functional homology.

Another addition for the record. Here we have to add a bit of a distinction, the majority of scientists may very well be religious. However, the majority of scientists do not believe in God (or gods for that matter).
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

Note that as of 1998, personal disbelief in a god was at 72.2%, agnosticism/doubt at 20.8%, and actual belief in a god at only 7.0%.

I recall a more recent survey with similar results but I cannot currently find it.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
I can try to argue the individual points of evoultion and will probably lose, as has happened, because I don't have the expertise or the rhetorical skills of my opponents.
Drop the false humility. Itís not about you or your lack of ďrhetorical skillsĒ. You will lose because the position you wish to support has zero evidence in its favor, and 150 years of evidence disproving it. Itís not about you, itís about the fact that Creationism is crap, and evolution is the best explanation for the evidence we see, and the case is so obvious that it is readily acknowledged by Christians, Jews, agnostics, Buddhists, Protestants, Hindus, Catholics, and members of every other faith under the sun.

Everyone on this board is perfectly aware of the fact that 150 years ago, every educated European was a Creationist. They had no reason to be otherwise, and they followed what the Bible said. Then, scientists started unearthing evidence. They realized that there was no flood. That organisms changed over time, and over many millions of years, they changed a whole lot. And after just a few decades, all educated people realized that YEC was totally at odds with the evidence. So they stopped believing it. It wasnít an atheist liberal conspiracy. These were people who started out as Creationists, and changed their minds due to the evidence. And the evidence has grown super-exponentially since then.

Itís not like the evidence in favor of Creationism has grown any in that time.

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Dagonee
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Mucus, you're badly misrepresenting that article. "personal disbelief in a god was at 72.2%, agnosticism/doubt at 20.8%, and actual belief in a god at only 7.0%" is only true for the so-called "greater" scientists.

From the article: "In 1996, we repeated Leuba's 1914 survey and reported our results in Nature [3]. We found little change from 1914 for American scientists generally, with 60.7% expressing disbelief or doubt. This year, we closely imitated the second phase of Leuba's 1914 survey to gauge belief among "greater" scientists, and find the rate of belief lower than ever ó a mere 7% of respondents."

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TomDavidson
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quote:
And this is also why I warn against the arrogance, elitism, and yes, hubris, exhibited by KoM and Tom Davidson.
I am not arrogant. I have a single premise: things which happen in the physical context have a physical cause.

If you disagree, show me the non-physical cause and I will gladly concede that argument.

Until then, that is my starting premise. Consequently, arguments which rely on the assumption of non-physical, supernatural invention are discarded as useless -- not because I think I'm "superior" to them, but because they literally have no utility.

There is no demonstrable benefit to a supernatural explanation. Within the context of the physical world, such an explanation answers nothing, predicts nothing, and explains nothing.

I am willing to grant the possibility that an imperceptible, unpredictable spiritual reality exists. I am even willing to grant the possibility that men can occasionally tap into this spiritual reality ineffectually and unreliably, occasionally but not always benefiting from this spiritual connection but mainly deferring any perceived spiritual consequences to a hypothetical afterlife.

At the same time, these possibilities are not only remote but ultimately irrelevant. There is no sane argument for them; there is no demonstrable merit to such a philosophy that cannot be derived from a philosophy of more sophistication and less superstition. I may be paying the price for my unbelief with bits of a soul I cannot detect and do not believe exists; then again, everyone who is not sacrificing men to Huitzilapochtli could well be damning themselves, too, and there's nothing they could -- or would -- do about it.

You use the word hubris unironically, speaking of atheists. And yet how hubristic would the Greeks find you or Ron, claiming to have found God, to -- in Ron's case -- having taken enough instruction directly from God that you are no longer willing to learn from men? My own position -- that no evidence for a God whose existence matters exists that meets my standards, and therefore I will conclude that no significant God exists -- is far, far less hubristic by the original definition than any Christian's claim to have touched the mind of the All-Father.

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Mucus
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Dag: Sorry, just googled the article and grabbed the figures. Reading it again, it does seem more confusing. The "greater scientists" are actually just members of the National Academy of Sciences.

Anyways, the whole point was just to add information to the assertion that the majority of scientists are religious by highlighting that "religion" is not necessary synonymous with a "God" (which seems to be the focus of this thread), and that the majority of scientists are not in fact in favour of a God even using the "60.7%" number among American scientists.

Additionally, reading the article more closely, I would bet that the number believing in God would be even lower if the survey had taken a global rather than an American sample of scientists.

In any case, I was just trying to add actual numbers to personal anecdotal statements [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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BTW, when I'm saying I'm not "arrogant," specifically what I'm saying is that I am not "arrogating" to myself the right to decide which premises I choose to accept.

I have that right. It is mine. I will concede that right to no one else but God, and even God would have to assert His right before me before I'd grant it to Him.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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I just thought this would be fun:


quote:
originally posted by Tom Davidson:

There is no demonstrable benefit to a supernatural explanation. Within the context of the physical world, such an explanation answers nothing, predicts nothing, and explains nothing.

quote:
originally posted by MPH:


There's also a big difference between something being useful and being True. Newtonian physics are incredibly useful, but it still seems silly and quaint to us today when we read of people who, based on their Newtonian knowledge of celestial bodies, thought that they really starting to fully understand how the universe works.


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King of Men
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Usefulness is necessary but not sufficient. In any case, mph is wrong, Newtonian physics is True as long as you don't apply it outside its domain.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
And this is also why I warn against the arrogance, elitism, and yes, hubris, exhibited by KoM and Tom Davidson.
I am not arrogant. I have a single premise: things which happen in the physical context have a physical cause.

If you disagree, show me the non-physical cause and I will gladly concede that argument.

Until then, that is my starting premise. Consequently, arguments which rely on the assumption of non-physical, supernatural invention are discarded as useless -- not because I think I'm "superior" to them, but because they literally have no utility.



What does it matter if you don't find them useful? If god exists but you choose not to believe he exists, does that mean he does not exist? But you're not arrogant...

Your "single premise;" you should recognize that that premise may, may be wrong. But that isn't a part of your equation. It has no place within your world, because it simply cannot, is not true. Nothing further. But you're not hubristic...

Arguments that you say rely on the assumption of "non-physical, supernatural invention are discarded as useless..." Well, I'm not assuming those things. I'm allowing them their possibility. Because to do otherwise would be, elitist, maybe? Maybe not, that might be a stretch...

The rest of your post explains why, even if you did concede to some supernatural existence, you would find no use for it. What does it matter if it serves no purpose for you, or for anyone? Are you searching for truth, or for utility? If only utility, then what purpose that utility? Your own gain? The gain of humanity? How do you decide what is the best use for that utility? By being smart? How about by being ambitious, By being power hungry. Because historically that is what "utility" serves.

Am I getting sidetracked?

edit: I appreciate your post, by the way. You're not "trolling" anymore. I know you're a fixture here and don't qualify as a troll, it's just that I kept getting called one and when I finally asked for a definition, it seemed to describe what you were doing.

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Launchywiggin
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quote:
If god exists but you choose not to believe he exists, does that mean he does not exist?
Of course not. Did Tom say that?

quote:
Your "single premise;" you should recognize that that premise may, may be wrong.
He did recognize that he might be wrong, but until something substantial challenges that premise, why should he change it? I don't see how that makes him an elitist.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Your "single premise;" you should recognize that that premise may, may be wrong.
Of course I do. But my premise -- "effects have causes" -- is a whole order of magnitude less complex than yours seem to be. If your religious belief is hung on a premise of such simplicity, let's hear it.

quote:
But you're not hubristic...
Again, I maintain that it is far, far more hubristic to claim that you have personally been contacted by the creator of the universe than to say that you do not believe that a creator exists based on a lack of evidence.

quote:
Are you searching for truth, or for utility? If only utility, then what purpose that utility?
I very narrowly defined "useful" in my post, and further went on to define "utility." A theory with utility makes it possible to accurately model the observable world so that all observable effects can be predicted, even if this requires assumptions about non-observable causes. This can be more than a little difficult, and as MPH observes theories which appear to perfectly describe the operation of the observable world (like Newtonian physics) become imperfect once science becomes capable of observing -- directly or indirectly -- more of the world. It's entirely possible that we may someday become able to observe the hypothetical realm of the spirit and accurately model its behavior. At that point, it will no longer belong to the realm of the supernatural. But if the spirit realm cannot be modeled, then theories that rely on predicting its operations are by definition not useful.

They may be True. And they may even be usefully prescriptive in a world which is non-observable. But this is true of everything. It MAY be true that people who are left-handed should only wear green socks for fear of the Panda Who Lurks in the Night, which will eat their souls a bit at a time until they turn into accountants. You could point out that not all left-handed people turn into accountants by the end of their life, but believers in the Panda Who Lurks in the Night could easily assert that this simply proves that those people had more soul to start with, or perhaps wore green socks less often. Since we don't have good data on the latter and have no way to quantify "soulstuff," one explanation is as good as any other -- i.e. not very good at all.

Again, there MAY be a Panda Who Lurks in the Night. The entire claim hinges upon the existence of a non-observable, non-reproducible realm of inquiry, but that doesn't make it false. It does, however, make it "useless" for a very specific definition of "useless."

I just want to clarify, BTW: I believe religion as a social institution has many merits and many clear uses. Religious belief itself has observable effects that are universal to belief, and not specific to the belief in any given god(s). But neither of these effects is in any way dependent upon the truth of a given religious statement. My criticism of religion is focused primarily on religion as epistemology, for which it is woefully inadequate.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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"...for which it is woefully inaccurate."

Is this just your opinion, or do you think that anyone who disagrees is just flat wrong?

And did an accountant run off with your wife or something?

And I don't think it's Hubristic to say that I believe in God because He has revealed His presence to me. I'm just being honest. If it's hubristic to adjust your worldview based upon something that has happened to you, then maybe I don't know what hubris means after all.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
In any case, mph is wrong, Newtonian physics is True as long as you don't apply it outside its domain.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that pretty much any time two bodies have different velocities?

By my understanding (and if my physics is wrong, please correct), there isn't really any such thing as relativistic speeds. There are speeds were relativistic effects are big enough to matter and speeds where they're too small to matter, but they're always there.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

Is this just your opinion, or do you think that anyone who disagrees is just flat wrong?

I think they're flat wrong. You are welcome to try to demonstrate to me ANY way in which a religious epistemology is demonstrably superior to a scientific or logical epistemology. Try not to use a logical epistemology while you do it, just for fun. [Wink]

quote:
I'm just being honest. If it's hubristic to adjust your worldview based upon something that has happened to you, then maybe I don't know what hubris means after all.
I strongly suspect that you don't. "Hubristic" does not mean "egotistical."
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Reshpeckobiggle
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I appreciate the welcome. But as I said before, I can only address an argument like that from within your pardigm. In there, I have no argument. I would ask you to step outside and debate me from where I am, but I don't think you know the way.

Where does egotistical come from? I really don't understand you, sometimes.

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Mucus
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Ok, physics is not my strong suit. However, my basic understanding is that Newtonian physics is good enough to predict anything that occurs in "everyday" life as in the speed of trains, airplanes, people, etc. The relativistic effects are there, but are so negligible as to be irrelevant (i.e. if you throw a sack of coins, its sufficient to use Newtonian physics since the relativistic effects may not only be small, but might actually be impossible to measure using our current instruments).

However, where they fall down and become noticeably inaccurate are when things go really fast, really big, really small, or other "boundary" cases. Planetary motion is getting close to a borderline case since the objects involved *are* very big. (I'm probably oversimplifying for clarity)

One example of the problem is Mercury ( link )

quote:
A long-standing problem in the study of the Solar System was that the orbit of Mercury did not behave as required by Newton's equations.

To understand what the problem is let me describe the way Mercury's orbit looks. As it orbits the Sun, this planet follows an ellipse This rotation of the orbit is called a precession.
...
The precession of the orbit is not peculiar to Mercury, all the planetary orbits precess. In fact, Newton's theory predicts these effects, as being produced by the pull of the planets on one another. The question is whether Newton's predictions agree with the amount an orbit precesses ... The precession of the orbits of all planets except for Mercury's can, in fact, be understood using Newton's equations. But Mercury seemed to be an exception.

As seen from Earth the precession of Mercury's orbit is measured to be 5600 seconds of arc per century (one second of arc=1/3600 degrees). Newton's equations, taking into account all the effects from the other planets (as well as a very slight deformation of the sun due to its rotation) and the fact that the Earth is not an inertial frame of reference, predicts a precession of 5557 seconds of arc per century. There is a discrepancy of 43 seconds of arc per century.

So addressing each of the posts:

quote:
MPH: There's also a big difference between something being useful and being True. Newtonian physics are incredibly useful, but it still seems silly and quaint to us today when we read of people who, based on their Newtonian knowledge of celestial bodies, thought that they really starting to fully understand how the universe works.
Correct, Newton's laws are not "true" in the sense that they proposed gravity as a force, rather then a warping of spacetime. They are useful in that they can predict the orbits of all planets except Mercury, for which there is an error of 0.8% (or so). Thus, I would hardly say silly and quaint, and I think they they are indeed a very good start as to understanding how the universe worked.
It would also be a pretty safe bet that a relatvistic model could never have been developed without devloping a Newtonian model first, so in some sense there is no "versus" relationship here.
Good historical summary

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I would ask you to step outside and debate me from where I am, but I don't think you know the way.
Describe your paradigm a bit.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by King of Men:
In any case, mph is wrong, Newtonian physics is True as long as you don't apply it outside its domain.

By my understanding (and if my physics is wrong, please correct), there isn't really any such thing as relativistic speeds. There are speeds were relativistic effects are big enough to matter and speeds where they're too small to matter, but they're always there.
Yes, but when the difference is so small that Heisenberg would prevent you from measuring it, it doesn't actually exist.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Correct, Newton's laws are not "true" in the sense that they proposed gravity as a force, rather then a warping of spacetime. They are useful in that they can predict the orbits of all planets except Mercury, for which there is an error of 0.8% (or so). Thus, I would hardly say silly and quaint, and I think they they are indeed a very good start as to understanding how the universe worked.
A good start yes. But almost finished? How quaint.
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MightyCow
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Resh: The problem with your paradigm is that it does not allow real discussion. Your paradigm presupposes that God exists, and is allowed to do anything at all, sometimes including logical paradoxes.

Discussion in the paradigm of science, the paradigm of non-supernatural, goes something like this:
-I wonder why X happens.
-Well, this and this seem to explain it.
-How about this?
-Oh, I see how that makes a different case, let's try another idea.

Discussion in your paradigm, if I understand it correctly, goes something like this:
-I wonder why X happens.
-God did it.

Really, what is there to discuss? Anything at all that you want to explain, you just say God is responsible. You don't learn anything about the process. You don't answer any questions. There's no room for debate or discussion. God did it, end of story. No need to look further, it was supernatural, we can't explain it.

It looks to me like your paradigm stands on willful ignorance and an intolerance for ambiguity or lack of knowledge. Why admit that we don't understand everything, but that we're trying to figure it out, when you can just toss out the "God did it" trump card and be done with it?

To me, saying that God just did something is the most unsatisfactory answer possible. Saying, "I don't know." allows room for, and and even encourages an effort to learn more and discover an answer, or at least work towards an answer.

Invoking unknowable supernatural powers seems like a cop out.

In practice, how is saying, "God did it" any different from saying, "volcanoes erupt because the earth is mad at us" or "the sun is pulled through the sky by a fiery chariot" or "we get rain when we appease the gods with human sacrifices"?

All those examples of appeal to supernatural powers have been conclusively shown to be natural occurrences, which can be understood with a basic knowledge of scientific and mathematical ideas.

I suppose it's possible to say that it only LOOKS to us like the earth revolves around the sun, because our paradigm won't allow us to see that a fiery chariot pulls it through the arch of heaven, and we've only constructed a weak foundation of science to fit our observations.

I don't want to live in the paradigm that insists on the fiery chariot though, because frankly, it's stupid.

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King of Men
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And incidentally, how are you going to argue with the Moslem who has likewise experienced his god, and is convinced that he has only to kill you to achieve Heaven? He is in your paradigm, and yet you cannot possibly convince him. If evidence within a paradigm doesn't even convince those who believe in it, what good is it?
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Reshpeckobiggle
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I would ask you to step outside and debate me from where I am, but I don't think you know the way.
Describe your paradigm a bit.
Previous page, 14th from the bottom. Probably not an adequate explanation, but it's the best I can do... maybe not the best I can do, but I have a hard time expressing exactly what it is I am thinking. Just try not to misinterpret what I say, such as this: (next post)
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
A good start yes. But almost finished? How quaint.

Before going further, perhaps it would be best for you to exactly explain what you mean by your use of the word quaint. The definition allows for enough ambiguity that I do not want to guess at your meaning.

Additionally, it would also be useful for a reference to your original source for where a person using Newtonian physics claimed to be almost finished. I do not really doubt that someone might have wrongly claimed this, but it would be nice to have a concrete example to work off of.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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quote:
Originally posted by MightyCow:
Resh: The problem with your paradigm is that it does not allow real discussion. Your paradigm presupposes that God exists, and is allowed to do anything at all, sometimes including logical paradoxes.



This is absolutely correct, it is lamentable, and I said as much earlier.

edit: Exept it doesn't neccessarily presuppose that god exists, but it does allow for the possibility. The paradigm for naturalism does not, exept perhaps in the capacity that I expound upon in the following post. I am personally within a particular paradigm that has God as a likelihood and the Christian definition as being the most likely. But it's not so much that I'm arguing from that paradigm as it is that I am not arguing from the naturalistic one that you KoM, and Tom are.
quote:


Discussion in the paradigm of science, the paradigm of non-supernatural, goes something like this:
-I wonder why X happens.
-Well, this and this seem to explain it.
-How about this?
-Oh, I see how that makes a different case, let's try another idea.

Discussion in your paradigm, if I understand it correctly, goes something like this:
-I wonder why X happens.
-God did it.

Really, what is there to discuss? Anything at all that you want to explain, you just say God is responsible. You don't learn anything about the process. You don't answer any questions. There's no room for debate or discussion. God did it, end of story. No need to look further, it was supernatural, we can't explain it.

It looks to me like your paradigm stands on willful ignorance and an intolerance for ambiguity or lack of knowledge. Why admit that we don't understand everything, but that we're trying to figure it out, when you can just toss out the "God did it" trump card and be done with it?

To me, saying that God just did something is the most unsatisfactory answer possible. Saying, "I don't know." allows room for, and and even encourages an effort to learn more and discover an answer, or at least work towards an answer.

Invoking unknowable supernatural powers seems like a cop out.

In practice, how is saying, "God did it" any different from saying, "volcanoes erupt because the earth is mad at us" or "the sun is pulled through the sky by a fiery chariot" or "we get rain when we appease the gods with human sacrifices"?

All those examples of appeal to supernatural powers have been conclusively shown to be natural occurrences, which can be understood with a basic knowledge of scientific and mathematical ideas.

I suppose it's possible to say that it only LOOKS to us like the earth revolves around the sun, because our paradigm won't allow us to see that a fiery chariot pulls it through the arch of heaven, and we've only constructed a weak foundation of science to fit our observations.

I don't want to live in the paradigm that insists on the fiery chariot though, because frankly, it's stupid.

This, however, is a total misrepresentation of what I said. I have repeatedly said that I don't propse to "know" anything. I believe certain things, and I admit that many of those beliefs are based upon unprovable concepts and experiences. But if you go back and reread the things I wrote, you will see that I am careful to express that I am not discounting anything except a completely naturalistic explanation for existence. The farthest I will go is that some Creator, outside force, something, set the chain of events in motion with the Big Bang. But mostly what I am saying is that I am simply allowing for a range of possibilities that "scientific" minds, by way of inserting themselves into the paradigm of strict naturalism, do not allow. I find fault with this approach, because it closes off so many possibilites. My criticisms of those whom I've been calling arrogant, elitist, and hubristic is based solely on the fact that their closed-mindedness (the first time I've used this term in this thread yet) is causing them to be dismissive of any dissenting points of view.

[ February 24, 2007, 10:40 PM: Message edited by: Reshpeckobiggle ]

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