Faith in atheism
First off let me start off by apologizing. It was hard for me to not start off with a smart remark so per request I’ll tone down the humor.
“As an aside regarding your example, humans are scientifically classified as apes.” So we are apes? I don’t think so, at least not in the sense I was using.
“you can give me a specific example of what you mean.” Memory would be a good example. I don’t find this part of the discussion as important as the others so I’ll skip it as you also would like.
“why do you feel that something unchanging must exist? Also, are you agreeing that if God, by your definition, is natural that God exists within time?” I believe God is unchanging in a sense for he is always good and that never will change. God would also exist in time if he is omniscient. But to be clear I think it could be said (assuming God exists of course) that this world is built on the eternal world or dimension or whatever it is, God.
As for the supernatural I’ll try to abandon any supernatural talk since it seems that you refuse to believe in it.
As to what you say about supernatural and natural theories I believe God is perfectly natural and more natural than we are to ourselves. And as natural theories agreeing with evidence I would have to ask what evidence? That there is no evidence for the supernatural that is what I’ve already said. But whether it is true or not is a philosophical question, whether or not it is more than likely that a supernatural being exists.
“Is that the kind of thing you are referring to when you disagree with the statement ‘if evolution is wrong, all of biology is wrong’?” I was more referring to the Darwinian theory of what is macro evolution, if biology stands on this than it doesn’t stand on much I would say. I think micro evolution explains a lot.
“Let me ask first what reading you have already done regarding evolution.” To be honest I haven’t done much. Sad, I took a whole semester of biology and they didn’t have us read primary sources like the “Origin of Species” or really anything else, for the most part they just told us that it is obviously true and showed us how much sense evolution makes. I did pick up a few things though. Oddly enough I learned more about evolution in Philosophy. Also the same with intelligent design except in philosophy we seemed to have made fun of it. But now that I think about it, it really is another solid theory, I’ll explain later. (btw my bio professors tried to show that religion doesn’t fully explain anything and then basically said that Christians weren’t that smart for being Christian, oh well)
“Any group of propositions that accounts for the evidence is a theory to a scientist.” I’ll remember this definition; I would also assume some are better than others.
I think the theory of gravity is much different then the theory of evolution. And even here scientists consider gravity a “scientific law” or a “natural law” but not in regards to evolution. But I suppose I could be wrong. The difference I think is that evolution, if there was enough evidence, then they would be considered facts and not theory or even “scientific law”, since there should be physical evidence as oppose to gravity. None the less I understand what you mean about theory but evolution is way different then gravity.
“It’s true that some of the animals in this evolutionary chain were land animals and some were sea creatures, but this doesn’t mean that scientists can’t make up their minds (as it sounds like you imply).” What I’m implying is that they can’t make up their minds on which ones were which. Look at all the portraits of the animals they are speculating about.
“Modern whales have some skeletal features that don’t make much sense except in an evolutionary context (such as vestigial leg bones “floating” in the bodies of some species). I think you might be looking to much into these “vestigial bones” or not enough. And you’re definitely going out on a limb calling them “leg bones”, I honestly do not see any leg bones in any whales or dolphins for that matter. I think it is more reasonable to believe another idea that says these bones help balance out or anchor the body of the whale and also help with movement of the their reproductive muscles.
“As an aside, occasionally modern whales and dolphins are born with miniature legs, and this makes complete sense in an evolutionary context.” You don’t believe in my giants but you want to believe in dolphins with legs. This is what you would say “sorely wanting” is if I’ve ever seen it. To call an extra pair of fins legs is to jump to conclusions. Unless you know of any dolphins that were born with hooves, human feet, or bear claws I will have to disagree. I believe I would have seen something of this in my biology class if it they truly have legs. You stated to me that I broadened the definition of religion to encompass atheism; I think your doing a similar thing here. Every little thing it seems whether we can explain it or not points at evolution just as “something I don’t know” means God so we are both guilty of this. Let us pretend we heard it for the first time, “dolphins are found to have legs”. Your first reaction would be “evolution” mine would be “really”. So let us forget our backgrounds if we saw this dolphin would the hind “legs” look more like fins or well like “legs”? If you like you can email me images just to show me these pictures you’re talking about.
“I meant that it isn’t controversial in scientific circles any more than “the earth is more than 6,000 years old” or “humans have walked on the moon” are controversial in scientific circles.” Well the world used to be flat.
“They generally either misstate the case for evolution or agree with the bulk of it, up to the point that it disagrees with their religious viewpoint, at which time they throw Occam out the window.” I have yet to see this. I don’t think I would be guilty of this, but you might think I am. As for “intelligent design”, let us give it another name since I don’t like the one being used. I would propose “natural intelligence” or “intelligent causation” that way people don’t think of it necessarily pertaining to religion or God. The way I would like to explain this is that there is some sort of intelligence that exists in nature naturally even in a microscopic cell. The cells carry out their job, which is very complex, and they do it naturally. This would be a good example I believe.
“Referring to Expelled — I was very disappointed by it.” For some reason this doesn’t surprise me.
“The movie also spent a lot of time poking fun and showing silly pictures instead of actually making arguments. I had honestly been hoping for something with a lot more meat to it.” I don’t remember the silly cartoons but I do remember them saying that the complexity of the cell is something Darwin never took in to account. He believed that the cell was very simple. So this is the first problem with macro evolution. There is nothing in this theory that can explain the complexity of the cell. Another thing is the theory of mutation which has, I believe, been proven to not go along with macro evolution at all. For example mutations don’t occur with new dna information but from old dna information this explains micro but not macro.
“I’m talking about the theory of evolution in biology.” Ok macro or micro?
“That’s possible, but since Darwinism has to be pretty seriously abused to support genocide” You have a point but what about eugenics?
“and it allows others to think in a similar way” What about purpose and meaning?
“but then I wouldn’t be dying because I refused to lie about my beliefs, I’d be dying for a greater good.” So there is a greater good, what is it? Also I thought there wasn’t anything after life so why would you willingly die for any purpose if life was all you had?
“For example, if someone wanted to kill anyone related to your mother, would you consider that trivial?” I don’t know what you mean, this is kind of vague but I’ll say that I would die defending my mother if that is what you’re saying. I think I don’t value my life as much as you do yours in a sense. I hope I’d have the courage to die at any given moment whether it be up to me or not.
“That’s why I say it would be virtuous to save the trapped person, but not morally required.” Good point, I finally see what your saying. Sorry, I don’t catch on that quick. I have to ask, what do you think heroism is?
“Can you explain to me why denying God with words in this context would be a sin?” To tell you the truth I don’t know, I think to deny God as Peter did is wrong and in turn to ever deny Him is wrong. I don’t know whether or not He would say it is wrong in this context that is why I would ask for guidance and for forgiveness because I feel guilty just thinking about denying Him, if that is what I truly believe why should I deny it.
“but rather God sent Jesus to be tortured and die” then rise. But I’ll stop talking about Jesus since I understand what you say about ambiguity in this context.
“So, dialing this way back, if a child is the only Christian in a class of Muslim children and will be shunned or otherwise hurt if it is known she is not Muslim, should the child’s parent make sure everyone knows the child’s religion if the subject does not come up?” This is an interesting question. I, for one, don’t walk around telling everyone I’m a Christian (I don’t think that would be normal), maybe I should. Instead I try living a lifestyle that many would admire and respect. This way people can see that Christianity is a good thing. I don’t find it necessary to go around and tell everyone that my child is Christian that is their business. But I think that if someone was making me wear some sort of mark to signify my beliefs I would wear it.
“You say that God exists within a dimension and that this dimension is not outside our universe. Doesn’t this imply that this dimension, which is part of our universe, has always existed?” Yes it does imply that, I don’t see the problem. What it doesn’t imply is that the world has always existed. This eternal dimension very well could be the basis on which our world sits on.
“You want to talk about silliness and then misstate a number of scientific theories for the origin of life in mocking terms. Do I want to add to the list? Sure: Maybe a magic guy spent six days making everything and then took a nap” I don’t believe I misstated anything if I did go ahead and explain them to me. As for the magic guy, yup that is what I believe, and I never mentioned that it wasn’t crazy just true, now what do you believe in? (it sounds like you have something against this magic guy though he never did anything to you, also I was poking fun at you and myself but I suppose you can’t take yourself lightly) As for drinking the blood I don’t think you can add much to it that doesn’t already make it sound funny.
Honestly, I find myself thinking I’m crazy for what I believe from time to time but I think if everyone spent a couple days thinking they would too come to that conclusion. What about you? I think everyone has to be a little crazy or else they just aren’t sane. The truly insane people are the ones that don’t bother to think about these things. Magic guys are very crazy but so are every other scientific theories that explain the origin of life, and just because they are called “scientific” that doesn’t make them less crazy.
“That statement seems in conflict with your definition of “know” which includes truth.” I don’t think so because truth can be known without knowing any arguments for it or against it.
“What if some of these people only think they know but are wrong? In that case, they wouldn’t want to know, right?” As for this I wish everyone would spend more time on the most important topic of all time and learn how it makes sense, I call this truly believing. But they don’t so I can’t help them nor you so let them be this is amongst the willing few who want to discuss.
“If you really want to compare man to the animals you’ll see that we are way more different then we are alike.” By what measure? We are almost genetically identical to chimpanzees, for example.” Well that we have similar dna with chimps so far as I’m concrered supports more “natural intelligence” than evolution but that’s a different story. I also didn’t say man wasn’t an animal, though it does look like I implied it. But let us start the general comparison. We wear clothes no other animals do. Why would any animal start wearing clothes? We paint and draw, no other animal does this, unless we’ve trained them to do so. We speak with an incredibly wide vocabulary they don’t. This list goes on and on. I’ll wait to here your response here.
“I don’t see why, as we progress with our discussion, you are coming across as more and more of an ass. I’m glad you agree with my point, no matter how rudely.” I didn’t agree I was being sarcastic. Let me add it doesn’t surprise me that an evolutionary biologist doesn’t have humor.
“I have no problem with you positing that thought might be supernatural; I have a problem with you insisting that it must be.” Understood.
“I am not taking this on faith, but rather consider it to be the most likely explanation given my knowledge of the current state of research in the area.” So thoughts can be scientifically explained, is it that we don’t have wills but rather it is our nature and we can not control what we think?
“To help me get a better grasp on your point of view, can you tell me what you think the brain does?” I think our brain does a lot of things like it helps us survive but the one thing it allows overall is choice. You might say animals can choose but do they know it, are they self aware? And from the sounds of it you’d like to disagree that we can choose.
“We use evidence to form theories, and those theories are refined over time as new evidence arises.” Or thrown out like, the theory for macro evolution should be since there is no evidence for it.
“do you think that a story about God creating languages is in some sense a better explanation than the scientific theory that languages change and separate over time?” No but I hold it to be truth. Now how God works can be perfectly natural and explained in natural ways. Just as you say the Catholic Church does this very well with the theory of evolution. As for the Catholic Church and the poetical Genesis I don’t think your stating this correctly I believe they use words such as metaphors and allegories to explain it, there is a huge difference. If I wanted to agree with the Catholic Church and not think I suuppose it would make sense but I look at the evidence and there is nothing to support Macro evolution. You mention Punctuated equilibrium this sounds like a more reasonable theory but I don’t think there is proof for it either. You can try to show some proof here if you wish.
“If, for example, the Bible is God’s word, then would you agree that Genesis is a straight-forward telling of how the world was made?” I don’t claim to interpret the bible literally then you might assume that I think “God is a rock”, and I think rock worship to be incredibly close minded. I am simply stating that it is truth.
“God did it because I don’t understand it” then what about Darwinism, you revert to the theory a lot when you can’t explain something (like fins) or to science in general but you don’t understand either, so you do it more then I. For exp. “it is still being researched” that is your cop out just as “God is great and these things happen” is mine. (though I don’t know if mine really is)
“The gap this ‘evidence’ bridging together is oddly enough in the shape of God, who would have thought.” Evolution doesn’t seem to assert anything yet it seems to explain away everything any religion would teach, how?
“Your statement seems to also assume God exists.” You agree that good exists and the Bible gives great reasons as why one should be good this is what I mean and it does look like evidence to me.
“Indeed, a number of possible evolutionary pathways for the flagellum have been identified” Then what exactly was the first organism had it any complexity to it?
“You’re the one saying you can know.” Yes I am. Are you claiming that we can’t? If we can’t then what is the point of this discussion.
“That is the kind of skeptic I’m talking about. I say that I am awake because the theory that I’m awake is preferable by Occam’s razor. I can’t prove it’s true.” Well is this conversation real? Are you real? Do you really exist? This will be more difficult then I thought since you don’t even know whether you’re awake or not.
Regarding the Gospels: I never said they were inconsistent on the terms you mentioned, I said that they relied on their memory and this might explain the chronological order of them.
“Gospels were intended not as history but as arguments for Christianity” I think this is far off since I don’t see a single argument presented I see instead them presenting what they are saying is truth; they are making claims and giving laws not arguments. And if people agree or not it doesn’t matter that is there point.
Haven’t gotten around to researching Mathew 21:5 but when I get the time I will. But how do “know” that the Bible is more preferable than anything you’ve thought of, Occam razor can’t bail out a true skeptic.
I understand that God is unchanging (in the sense you mentioned), and I don’t have a problem with that. What I was asking was why you think that something unchanging must necessarily exist.
You say that God would exist in time, and that God is the dimension/world on which our world was built. If God exists in time and had no beginning, then there must be an infinite stretch of time, yes? And if God is the space on which our world was built, then that space must be infinitely old (even if our universe is not), right? I just want to be completely sure I am understanding you on these points because they are very important to my understanding your world view.
“As for the supernatural I’ll try to abandon any supernatural talk since it seems that you refuse to believe in it.” I don’t refuse to believe in the supernatural, I just don’t see sufficient evidence for it, and I try to avoid believing in things for which there is insufficient evidence. However, we appear unable to agree on a working definition of “supernatural,” so that might be a good reason for us to put the subject aside.
You mention macro and micro evolution. Can you define those terms for me so I’m sure we’re on the same page?
Regarding theories, you said you assume that some theories are better than others. That’s definitely true. Some scientific theories (e.g., that light is a wave in the aether) can be shown to be false.
Referring to which animals were land creatures and which were sea creatures in the evolution of whales, you say, “What I’m implying is that they can’t make up their minds on which ones were which. Look at all the portraits of the animals they are speculating about.” Have you got an example you can point me toward? The sources I’ve seen seem pretty clear. In any case, I will agree that there is a significant amount of speculation involved when reconstructing how an extinct creature looked and behaved, but the results of this speculation are not (in my limited experience) considered part of the evidence for an evolutionary series.
I don’t feel that I’m going out on a limb calling vestigial bones in some whales “leg bones,” in that they have characteristics of leg bones and, when you follow the evolutionary sequence, are the descendents of what we might call “true” leg bones. It’s certainly possible that these bones may have a use, but I’ve not seen a compelling explanation, and one of the intelligent design proponents whose podcast I listen to listed it as something he couldn’t explain.
Dolphins with legs: looking back at what I wrote, I did indeed get sloppy here. Embryonic dolphins begin to develop hind legs, but they are reabsorbed during development. I got this mixed in my head with reports of dolphins with extra fins, and proved that I need to brush up on the subject.
Even so, I disagree when you say, “Every little thing it seems whether we can explain it or not points at evolution just as ‘something I don’t know’ means God so we are both guilty of this.” If I have a piece of information that fits into an evolutionary explanation (like the beginning of leg development in embryonic dolphins), I think it’s legitimate to say that it is evidence for evolution. If I have a piece of information that doesn’t fit into an evolutionary explanation, I won’t call it evidence for evolution. This is very different from someone (I’m not talking about you here) who claims a piece of information as evidence for God’s handiwork because science has not investigated or reached a conclusion about it. The difference is that evolution could be disproved by evidence that contradicts it, but there is no possible evidence of any kind that could not be attributed to God.
Talking about whether evolution is controversial, you say, “Well the world used to be flat.” Sure, and if you’re looking at a small piece of the world, it pretty much is flat for all practical purposes. But the more we looked, the more evidence we found, and the more we were able to modify the “Earth is flat” theory. At this point, we are still refining our understanding of the planet’s shape, but the refinement is in small details, and the fact that we are still learning does not imply that there is a significant chance we might discover we are completely wrong.
In science, a similar situation is true for evolution. Scientists are investigating the details of evolution (mechanisms, evolutionary paths, etc.), but that doesn’t imply that there is any question about whether evolution occurred.
I don’t mind using “natural intelligence” to refer to your beliefs on biology, particularly if you disagree with the Intelligent Design movement. You say that you think, “there is some sort of intelligence that exists in nature naturally even in a microscopic cell.” That seems to fit nicely with your previous statements about the universe being built on or within God. Wouldn’t it also fit with an intelligently directed form of evolution?
You say that you aren’t surprised that I was disappointed by Expelled. Then we agree that it wasn’t as good a film as it could have been, yes?
I don’t know what you mean when you say you, “don’t remember the silly cartoons” in expelled. Do you recall the film showing images for humorous effect (such as a fortune teller with a crystal ball)? That’s the kind of thing I found disappointing — they seemed to be using humor instead of intelligent counterpoint. I still wish that someone would put together a really solid ID film; Ben Stein and company really blew an opportunity.
That Darwin didn’t know how complex cells are is an argument against Darwin’s theory of evolution, not against the modern theory of evolution. It turns out that Darwin was wrong about a number of things and there were many things he didn’t know — that’s why evolutionary theory has developed over the years.
I’m not completely sure what you mean when you say, “mutations don’t occur with new dna information but from old dna information this explains micro but not macro.” Do you mean that new information can’t arise through mutation? If that’s what you mean, then could you elaborate?
After I pointed out that Darwin has to be twisted to support genocide, you ask, “what about eugenics?” I’d say Darwin doesn’t support that, either.
Regarding my statement that Nazis would condemn others who reason in the same way they do, you ask, “What about purpose and meaning?” I don’t understand the question.
You ask, “So there is a greater good, what is it?” I’d say there is no universal greater good, but there can be greater goods based on an individual’s values. You ask why I would willingly die for any purpose if life was all I had. It’s true that I don’t think there’s an afterlife, but I consider some things more valuable than my life (my child’s life, for example).
You ask what I think heroism is. I haven’t thought about that one too much, but I’d say that heroism is accepting risk for the benefit of others when you are not morally required to accept that risk.
I liked your answer about why denying God would be a sin. Just thought I’d mention it.
Regarding whether you would “advertise” your Christianity to a group that you knew would give your child a hard time, I completely understand your answer, and I agree with it. This brings us back to our original point: if you don’t advertise your Christianity knowing that Muslim children would abuse your child if you did, are you to blame for hiding your beliefs, are the Muslim children to blame for making your feel threatened, or is nobody to blame?
You ask what I believe about the origin of life. I believe that there are a number of competing theories (including God and other deities), but that we don’t yet have enough information to draw a firm conclusion.
Regarding whether people want knowledge and some people thinking that they know the truth but are wrong, you say, “As for this I wish everyone would spend more time on the most important topic of all time and learn how it makes sense, I call this truly believing. But they don’t so I can’t help them nor you so let them be this is amongst the willing few who want to discuss.” But if the default position is a willingness to know, how can there only be a willing few who want to know the truth?
Discussing the differences between humans and other animals, you list a number of things that humans do that other animals do not do (wear clothing, create art, have a large vocabulary). All of these are, it seems to me, byproducts of human intelligence. (I could quibble that hermit crabs wear clothes and spiders make webs that are “artistic,” but that would be avoiding your point — I understand what you mean.) I agree that humans are more intelligent than other animals, but I disagree that this makes us separate from animals unless we include “less than a certain amount of intelligence” in the definition of “animal.” I don’t see any reason to do that, and I can see reasons not to do it.
You ask, “So thoughts can be scientifically explained, is it that we don’t have wills but rather it is our nature and we can not control what we think?” This is a hairy subject because our vocabulary is so full of the assumption that the human mind of a separate thing. For example, the question “we cannot control what we think” assumes that there is a “we” separate from what we think. Given this, I’ll do my best to explain my position. In a nutshell, I think it likely that free will is an illusion that that, at our root, we are deterministic beings. We can get deeper into this if you like.
Regarding the brain, you say, “I think our brain does a lot of things like it helps us survive but the one thing it allows overall is choice.” I’m not understanding where you draw the line between the brain’s biological processes and thought. This sounds like you think that some kinds of thought (making choices) are a function of the brain. What parts of thinking would you say are not brain functions?
You ask whether animals are self aware. This is difficult to test, but it appears that some animals do have a degree of self awareness. For example, an elephant knows that the elephant in a mirror is itself, not another elephant.
You say that you hold as truth that God created languages (in the Biblical sense) as opposed to languages changing and separating over time. Do you disagree that there is evidence that languages change and separate over time? Or am I misunderstanding your point?
You again bring up the possibility that I use science to fill gaps, saying, “then what about Darwinism, you revert to the theory a lot when you can’t explain something (like fins) or to science in general but you don’t understand either, so you do it more then I. For exp. ‘it is still being researched’ that is your cop out just as ‘God is great and these things happen’ is mine.” (To begin with a small correction, I am not a Darwinist, and the modern theory of evolution disagrees with Darwin on many points.) As stated above, I do not use evolution as an explanation in and of itself. That is, I do not believe that “fins evolved” is a sufficient explanation for fins in the same sense that “God created fins” is a sufficient explanation for fins. The statement “fins evolved” is only meaningful if there is evidence to back it up.
The phrase “it is still being researched” is not a conclusion or a statement of faith. It is a statement of ignorance and potential to learn, nothing more. After research has progressed sufficiently, is it possible that the most likely explanation will be God? Sure. To put it another way, “It is being researched” is a desire for more knowledge, while “God did it” sounds like a final conclusion.
You ask, “Evolution doesn’t seem to assert anything yet it seems to explain away everything any religion would teach, how?” You are misstating the case for evolution. Among other things, evolution doesn’t explain how the universe came into being, how the continents move, why the stars shine, or any of a host of philosophical topics (what beauty is, what is moral, does God exist, etc.). Also, evolution asserts many things — that species descend with modification, that complex systems can come into existence though natural processes, etc.
Regarding good, you say, “You agree that good exists and the Bible gives great reasons as why one should be good this is what I mean and it does look like evidence to me.” I agree that good exists in the sense that some things can be labeled “good.” This is different from agreeing that “good” has any existence in and of itself (as an aspect of God or metaphysical truth, for example). I think that this is where we disagree on this subject.
Regarding the bacterial flagellum and my statement that a number of possible evolutionary pathways have been identified, you ask, “Then what exactly was the first organism had it any complexity to it?” Are you asking what the first organism was that had any complexity? I don’t know, and it may not be possible to know if insufficient evidence was left behind. If you are asking what organism has a less-complex flagellum, there are bacteria that have a structure very similar to a flagellum that they use to inject toxins into other cells. Such a structure may have evolved into the motive flagellum, since they are structurally very similar, even though they have very different functions. More research needs to be done in this area, but statements about there being no conceivable way for a flagellum to have evolved appear to be false.
You ask, “Well is this conversation real? Are you real? Do you really exist? This will be more difficult then I thought since you don’t even know whether you’re awake or not.” This conversation is real in the sense that it exists in some sense. I know that I really exist in the sense that I know that my thoughts exist. I can’t prove that I’m awake. I can’t prove that you physically exist. However, I take these things as given because I have no way to test their veracity and assuming them makes things less complicated.
I say that the Gospels are arguments for Christianity, and you respond, “I think this is far off since I don’t see a single argument presented I see instead them presenting what they are saying is truth; they are making claims and giving laws not arguments.” We may be disagreeing about what “argument” means in this context. When the Gospels say that, for example, Jesus fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament, I’d say that’s an argument for Jesus being the Messiah. Similarly, I’d say that Jesus’ many miracles are supposed to be evidence of his divine nature. It’s also fairly well accepted that the Gospels were written with the conversion of particular audiences in mind — Matthew, for example, was aimed at Jews, which is why it emphasizes Hebrew prophecy.
You close by saying, “But how do ‘know’ that the Bible is more preferable than anything you’ve thought of, Occam razor can’t bail out a true skeptic.” A true skeptic doesn’t need bailing out because a true skeptic is looking for the truth, not defending a particular conclusion.
In: Bible, Defining god, Discussion, Evolution, Morality, Theology