West of Eden

By Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D.Faith Project Director, National Center for Science Education John West recently asked, “Is evolution compatible … Continued

By Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D.
Faith Project Director, National Center for Science Education

John West recently asked, “Is evolution compatible with God?” West, a senior fellow at the creationist Discovery Institute, concluded that religious belief and scientific inquiry are mutually exclusive. He is wrong.

West sets up a simplistic dichotomy–either you believe in God or you believe in evolution. This black or white view ignores the fact that for many scientists, science deepens their religious faith, and for many people of faith, scientific insight complements their belief. West’s goal here is not to examine the shared history and complex interconnections between science and faith, but rather, to promote a creationist agenda.

While West’s question is valid, his dichotomy is a sham. Consider the humble grapefruit. You can says it’s yellow and it’s roughly spherical. Asking, “Is this fruit yellow or spherical?” has no meaning. Yellowness and sphericity are not contradictory; likewise, “religion” and “evolution” can be complementary ways of looking at the same universe.

West would also have you believe that a truly wide-ranging debate about the compatibility of faith and evolution is only now finally taking place, thanks to the Discovery Institute’s new Web site. But serious theologians and scientists have been debating this issue for nearly 30 years. Organizations such as the Vatican Observatory, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, and the International Society for Science and Religion have thoroughly addressed the issues surrounding this debate. West and the Discovery Institute simply object to the conclusion these organizations have reached, namely, that evolution and religion can be compatible.

As the International Society for Science and Religion put it in a 2008 statement, “Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels.”

West’s views are a skewed Cliff Notes version of the serious academic work surrounding faith and evolution–mostly wrong, mostly missing the important points, a repackaging of old ideas and a parroting of discredited arguments. I have taught graduate classes in theology, and if a student turned in something like West’s essay on the issue of faith and evolution, it would merit him a D-.

Too often, debates over the public perception of evolution are dominated by the fringes, by fundamentalist Christians and others who reject basic science due to their literal reading of the Bible and by ardent atheists who reject religion because they’ve embraced metaphysical naturalism ― that nature is all that exists. But the silent majority ― that spans the spectrum from theism to atheism ― have no problem reconciling their religious beliefs with established sciences such as evolution, or with new sciences such as stem cell research. My work at the National Center for Science Education brings me into contact with voices across that spectrum and I’ve found that honest, open, and inclusive dialog is not only possible, but vital for our children’s education, for the credibility of religious traditions, and for the continued role of the United States as a scientific and moral leader in our increasingly interconnected world.

Evolution can certainly be compatible with religious faith. Because the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, we must consider it to be a truth about the natural world–the world which we as people of faith believe was created by God, and the world made understandable by the reason and natural senses given to us by God. Denying science is a profoundly unsound theological position. Science and faith are but two ways of searching for the same truths.

Peter M. J. Hess, Ph.D., is a Roman Catholic theologian, Faith Project Director with the National Center for Science Education and co-author of “Catholicism and Science” (Greenwood Press).

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  • justillthen

    Science and religions may be mutually exclusive, if only for the reason that religions are generally exclusive themselves and not open to competing versions of the explaining and defining of life. Science is not adverse to an explanation of life if it is rooted in sound and verifiable reason. Science is not the problem in this equation. On the other hand, science and spirituality, the presumed realm of religion, are not and can not be mutually exclusive. If a Supernatural Creator conceived and caused to be this Universe then it all does fit together, like any other organic and congruent organization. Religions, conceived and explained and written on by human minds seeking comprehension of the whole, are bound by the limits of those minds. The Universe that exists is far too complex to be wrapped up in the package of any Scriptures that have been written. They are not only full of holes and voids, they are rife with metaphor and illusion, if not outright fabrication. How might these be expected to hold up to the scrutiny of generations of microscopes and probing, intelligent minds and hearts? The explanations of orthodox religions will fail, and fall, because they are a false ruler. Spirituality and the realm of soul will not, as it is truth. It awaits further validation, but is not at risk for invalidation. It is truth. Orthodox religion, as a literal explanation of Causality, is not.

  • Paganplace

    It’s definitely a facet of modern Paganism I take great delight in, JustTillThen, the fact that there’s no conflict for us between what we can know, or try to know about the world, and Spirit. I occasionally wonder what all this brainpower could be doing if it weren’t spent on trying to defend untenable notions of natural history. Not that I credit most Creationists with much capacity for real reason as they are trying to order their minds, but I think there’s a lot of fear there, something which left true wonder and the spirit of inquiry quite un-nurtured. Instead they’re all wound up trying to prove what they already want to think in spite of evidence… doubtless afraid of what they might find. From some points of view we’re quite limited creatures… And we can be that. Also, from our own point of view, we don’t *know* our limits, and I find that an engaging challenge. :)

  • hsnkhwj

    Does one believe that the earth is flat or is it at the center of the universe?The medieval view that the earth was the unmoving center of the universe, known as geocentrism, was inherited from the ancient Greeks and systematized in the second century AD by the pagan astronomer Ptolemy.Although the Ptolemaic system was not actually taught in the Bible, it was easy for the medieval Christian world to read the idea into various biblical texts. The Scripture most commonly cited to prove the geocentric position was Joshua 10:13, which states that in answer to Joshua’s prayer “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.”The belief that the earth stood at the center of the universe with all heavenly bodies moving around the earth was correlated with the Christian doctrine that human beings were uniquely related to God as his representatives in the material universe. It seemed so sensible, so obvious, that the most important creatures in the universe would live at its center.This theological perspective, more typically assumed than stated, combined with the obvious fact that the earth feels stationary and the heavenly bodies look like they are revolving around the earth, made any suggestion to the contrary seem both irreverent and foolish.All this does not negate the value of religion in human societies. Religion and science are two separate domains of the human experience. Religion performs important functions in human societies. Religion gives us a code of conduct.The world is not random. The natural phenomena are never a hit and miss propositions. God created a process by which the universe functions.The days and nights and the seasons are part of that process. Similarly, God also created a process of evolution. This takes place through natural selection, mutations, genetic drift and gene flow.The mitochondrial DNA found in the cells of females has helped scientists to trace it back to a single woman. They named her ‘Eve’.

  • ThomasBaum

    PAGANPLACEWhen you speak of “Creationists” do you include all who believe that God is the Creator?If so, then you have to know that that includes many different ways of looking at the world and the rest of creation.Even if someone would say those that take the bible literally, there are still many different ways of taking the bible literally.I, for one, take the six days of creation very literally except I do NOT think of them as 24 hr days but as God days or period of time of which I do not have a clue how long each one lasted nor do I have a need to know how each one lasted.As it says on the seventh day, “God Rested, Blest and made Holy” and Jesus said, “My Father has been busy even until now”. This seventh day has not arrived yet but it will and with it, the new heavens and the new earth, God’s Kingdom.See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • zebra4

    ThomasBaum:”God Rested, Blest and made Holy” and Jesus said, “My Father has been busy even until now”.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++You are confused. God does not get “tired.”There are no human qualities in God. He is neither “busy” nor is He “idle”. These are “human” qualities.God is not anthropomorphic. God was not created by anybody nor does He procreate.God does not need us. We need Him. This means that it is in our own interest to obey Him. If we obey Him we will create a healthy social order. Treat other humans with dignity, take care of the needy, neighbors. Respect all life. Do not kill animals or cut down trees without reason.Do not wage wars on innocent people. Go to war only in self defense etc. etc.

  • PSolus

    There is nothing more entertaining than reading posts and comments about the theory of evolution, written by people who have absolutely no concept of what the theory of evolution is all about.Keep up the good work.Don’t worry, be happy.

  • liveandlove

    Mr. P.M.J. HESS:The Jealousy & the Fear of the Christian World (especially the Roman Catholics & the Evil-evangelicals etc..) to “Word Merchants” their way out of REALITY (not Wiongy Talking flying wingythingy’s…) by comparing a REAL Scientist with a Theologian Scientist is a fool Hearted & Mental “SELF DECEPTION”!You “Jesus” Freaks are still at it again: [Jealously] Comparing OUR Science as if be Your Diety’s Science too!Note: Your oldtime Religious Christi-anity excuses; Jewish excuses ; Islamic excuses; Hindu excuses & Buddha excuses via man-made SYSTEMS etc..] also known as , “Not for Prophet/Profit?” INSTITUTION(s) is Inferior, like an “inferior Court.”S-E-C-U-L-A-Rist FAiTH; is like the G-D Of AMERICA!Remember the O.U.R.! Not Your Mommy & Daddy’s , Mind Blogging, old time ancient dumb [man-made] Religion(systems).The “Religion Of Everything before, the science Of everything” is here to stay Untill The End of OUR Earth’s Solor/SUN!Pleazzzza; Do not be in denial to self nor loved-ones nor others!

  • Paganplace

    “PAGANPLACE”When you speak of “Creationists” do you include all who believe that God is the Creator?”Hardly, Thomas. The term refers to those who believe Biblical Creation accounts are a substitute for science and reality. I even refer to the manifest Universe as ‘Creation’ though I have a very different view of what that *means,* (notably, as I often say, that the Universe isn’t an *artifact* designed and engineered and built by a human-like intelligence )…and there’s absolutely no conflict in my world between knowing what we can about the form and nature and history of that Universe and that Universe *being* a living manifestation of the Goddess. Creationists tend to believe the universe is unacceptably ‘soulless’ if it’s *not* a machine made by some supernatural artifice…’ I think that’s a false dichotomy. What we *see* as the manifest universe is *alive with Spirit.* That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work as it works, or that you need to ‘literally’ believe a book for this to be the case. ‘Creationists’ as the name of the ‘theory’ goes, are descibing a view that limits and tries to confine perceptions of both ‘God’ and the cosmos to very limited and contradictory notions. Of course, this is a means by which some religions can tell people to ignore inconvenient *facts* whenever they choose.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    hsnkhwj,anybody who bothered to think about it knew the universe is shaped like a snow globe. earth is an island in the flat, round (or square, with “corners”) “waters,”these verses are not all specifically about geology and astronomy, but they all reveal the prevailing snow globe assumptions. in matthew 4:8, the devil takes jesus to a “very high mountain” where he could see “all the kingdoms of the world.” this is can’t happen on a spherical earth.daniel 4:11 is a prophetic vision of a tree that grew so large “its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.” though this is “just” a vision, it reveals that daniel thought it was possible, albeit with god’s help, for a tree to be tall enough to be seen from everywhere on earth – like the earth is flat (or concave).there was no need to say “the earth is flat” – everybody already “knew” that. the ancients thought that a tree that tall would hit the firmament – a dome which job 37:18 describes as “hard as a mirror of cast bronze.”this conception of the cosmos was captured and canonized in scripture, and persisted largely intact through the dark ages. it has taken scientists many centuries to convince theologians that the ancient mesopotamian cosmology described in genesis – revelation is wrong. even most, but not all, judeochrislamic fundamentalists now reject flat-earth/firmament theory.

  • ThomasBaum

    zebra4You wrote, “You are confused. God does not get “tired.”It we speak of God at all, we do have to use human speech, do we not?When it refers to “God Resting”, it refers to God being finished with His Creating not with what we may think of “resting”.You then wrote, “There are no human qualities in God. He is neither “busy” nor is He “idle”. These are “human” qualities.”So are you saying that God has absolutely nothing to do with His Creation sort of like what some Deists seem to think?You then wrote, “God does not need us. We need Him. This means that it is in our own interest to obey Him.”Are you saying that we should “obey” God for such a selfish reason that it is “in our interest”?Do you think that it is possible to obey God out of Love rather than obligation?You then wrote, “If we obey Him we will create a healthy social order.”Don’t forget, other people have free will also and just because one follows God, Who is a Being of Pure Love, does not mean that others will follow God. A “healthy social order” could be nothing more than some forcing themselves upon others, don’t you think?You then wrote, “When there was nothing, God was there. When there will be nothing, He will still be there.”Are you saying that God created the entire universe for no reason whatsoever except to maybe “entertain” Himself?God has a reason for Creation, you could call it God’s Plan for Creation and it is unfolding before our very eyes and God’s Plan will come to Fruition.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    PAGANPLACEI find it rather interesting that the bible states that one of the first things, if not the first thing, that God created was Wisdom.Whether or not anyone believes this, it is still something that is worth thinking about.You wrote, “‘Creationists’ as the name of the ‘theory’ goes, are descibing a view that limits and tries to confine perceptions of both ‘God’ and the cosmos to very limited and contradictory notions.”I guess it is hard for some to think “outside of the box” when they put God in a “box” but whether it is in this limited lifespan on earth or not, ALL will realize one day that God will not fit into any “box” that any human tries to confine God to.God Is Love, so simple, so beyond human comprehension.Thank You God for Your Plan.See you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • PSolus

    Thomas Paul Moses Baum,Please, tell us more about your imaginary friend.Thank you.Don’t worry, be happy.Insincerely, Peregrine Bartleby Rumpelstiltskin Solus

  • zebra4

    ThomasBaum wrote:”It we speak of God at all, we do have to use human speech, do we not?Using human speech in talking about God is not the same thing as attributing human qualities in God.What is wrong about your ideas is that you again think God is not omnipotent, otherwise you wouldn’t say “God finished creating”. An omnipotent entity could just order things to happen rather than like a carpenter “finished” making a table.By attributing human qualities in God, you are putting “limits” on what He could do or not do. That is not omnipotence.You seem to play with semantics. You can not comprehend God without thinking of Him as Human.Boy, YOU ARE CONFUSED.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    ThomasBaum, you said,well, that’s a nice approach, but evidence disagrees not only with the lengths of time given in genesis, but also the ORDER or events.for instance, on the third day, god creates the first life: he gets started with “grass, herbs with seeds, and trees that bear fruit” – as if to furnish the house before the animals arrived. agriculture was very important in the life of ancient man, but crops were not the first life on earth. scientists are pretty sure plants and animals evolved concurrently, in the “waters,” with forms so small the ancients didn’t even know they existed. the “dry land” remained barren for nearly 3,000,000,000 years while life flourished in the waters.flowering plants (including fruit trees) are a recent development, even among terrestrial plants, and scientists also tell us that all plants, being dependent on photosynthesis, came AFTER the “greater light that rules the day.”then on day 4,also!? never mind that it is the fourth DAY before the sun is created; this is a fundamental, but understandable, misunderstanding about stars. in the next verse, the stars are “set in the firmament,” like jewels. the authors thought 99.999999% of the mass of the visible universe are tiny lights adorning our protective dome – for signs and seasons. they egocentrically think the universe was created for them.later, jesus warns that stars will “fall” from the sky during his second coming (mt24:39, mk13:25). in revelation 6:13, john has a vision: “the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.” yahweh, jesus and john were obviously wrong about the fig nature of stars.my point is that the authors of genesis (who adapted the even-more-ancient sumerian and babylonian creation myths) were wrong about the time scales AND the SEQUENCE of events.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    some say genesis is so astounding and awesome that no one could have made it up. but it turns out it was made up – lots of times. starting locally, in mesopotamia, the sumerian myth has the earth created from a watery abyss by separating the waters on earth from the waters in heaven with a firmament. two gods, enki (male), and ninhursag (female) live in dilmun, a lush garden paradise with a spring feeding the rivers.in dilmun, there is no death or sickness until enki ate some sacred plants and is cursed by ninhursag. one curse affects his rib. to cure him, his rib is removed, from which a woman is made. she is called “ninti” – the mother of life. later, enki makes the first mortal humans by kneading clay to give it form.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    the biblical days of creation closely parallel the old babylonian creation story, “enuma elish”. the first generation of gods makes the earth and its waters. the second generation separates the waters on earth from the waters in heaven with a firmament (obviously the preferred method in ancient mesopotamia). the next generation creates dry land, then the sky, then the plants and animals (by speaking them into existence), and so on until, finally, the sixth generation creates man – as slaves, so the gods can rest. it is a “logical” step-by-step creation of the world the ancients saw around them.these myths predate the israelite myth by 1000 years. every culture has a (false) creation story that goes more or less like this. genesis has the advantage of being the only creation myth most people know, and many still believe.

  • Carstonio

    “ardent atheists who reject religion because they’ve embraced metaphysical naturalism ― that nature is all that exists.”That’s not quite accurate. The skeptical position (as opposed to the hard atheist position) is that the concepts of metaphysics and supernatural are false ones because they’re grounded in assumptions that have no basis in evidence. They assume that things like gods or “miracles” inherently violate the laws of physics as though those laws had actual existence, instead of being human-created codifications for the order observed in the universe. Gods may very well exist, and if that is the case, their existence would have a “naturalistic” explanation like anything else. Any assertion about gods should be treated like any other hypothesis about the universe. There’s no basis for creating a separate “supernatural” category exempt from scientific scrutiny.”Because the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, we must consider it to be a truth about the natural world”Hess makes the same mistake that some religious people make, using “truth” to mean both objective fact that exists apart from the human mind and subjective meaning that exists inside the human mind. Evolution has no inherent meaning about existence. We have no evidence that inherent meaning exists about anything. So it’s a mistake to treat any human-created meaning about something like evolution as though the meaning was inherent in the idea. Hess doesn’t acknowledge that the core problem with some (not all) religion is that it makes assertions about the universe that have no basis in evidence, for the purpose of bolstering ideas about human meaning. Whatever the facts are about the universe, they do not depend on any concept of meaning about existence.

  • Paganplace

    I think part of the issue, Carstonio, is that we are in fact, in much of our experience, actually quite subjective creatures. This is why the discipline of science is important for knowing about the physical world… And why when religions start trying to make science-like statements about the world, they often want to *override* what can be known about the world in a scientific way, even if in the process they attempt to corrupt science in order to ‘prove’ their ‘truth’ is in fact ‘scientific…’Or ‘better at science than science,’ But that simply doesn’t fly. Certainly, one can say there is more to reality than can be known with the means and methods of science, but that doesn’t mean science can’t do what it can do.

  • zebra4

    Science is based on empirical verification of natural phenomena, while religion is based on faith. Faith is not based on emprical vaerification.The nature of science is that the answers are rarely final. One answer in science may lead us to more questions must be answered. This quest for answers continues.Two mysteries of science seem impossible to resolve:(1) what are the edges (or borders) of the universe? It appears there are none.(2)How did matter come about?Religion answers both questions by invoking faith: THE CREATORThe question then arises: WHO CREATED THE CREATOR?Religion provides an answer: No one created the Creator. The creator (God) was neither born out of any one nor does he procreate. HE IS OMNIPRESENT, OMNISCIENT, AND OMNIPOTENT. These are the prevalent paradigms in monotheism.The buck stops at the Creator!

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    zebra4,this thinking grinds all scientific progress to a halt. it is the way “intelligent design” (G.O.D. – God Our Designer) “theory” works, and what makes it unscientific.

  • LarryFafarman

    –Because the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, we must consider it to be a truth about the natural world–There is a lot of evidence for an old earth and some evidence for common descent, but the evidence for an evolutionary process that was driven solely by natural genetic variation and natural selection is virtually nil. Geocentrism, like creationism, is supported by the bible, but the fundies accept heliocentrisn but not evolution because they find the scientific evidence to be persuasive for heliocentrism but not for evolution. Dr. Hess’s ideas are suspect because he works for a dogmatic Darwinist organization, the National Center for Science Education. As the saying goes, one cannot serve two masters.

  • zebra4

    walter-in-fallschurchReligion does not mean rejection of science. Nor does science asks for rejection of religion. Science is amoral.Historically, humans have been trying to answer questions through scientific method. But scientists realize that there are no final answers. Answers found at a given moment can change through further research.The earth rotates on its axis and gives us days and nights. It also revolves around the sun and gives us seasons. But why does it rotate on its axis? What (or who) controls its rotation? And why does it revolve around the sun and not vice versa?How did these and perhaps zillions of other planets come about? Humans learn from childhood that matter is indestructible. It simply changes in form (solid, liquid, gas). We also learn from childhood that nothing gets created on its own. Nothing moves on its own. There must be some force behind these phenomena.If science can not answer these questions, then I have a right to believe in a SUPREME BEING–the CREATOR.The Creator did not make the world to be random. The CREATOR created the order in the universe through a process. It is not a hit and miss thing. Is it?Evolution takes place through natural selection, mutation, genetic drift and gene flow. The Creator these mechanisms.

  • Carstonio

    Paganplace, good point about science. “one can say there is more to reality than can be known with the means and methods of science.”No, that would be claiming to know something that one doesn’t and cannot know. Instead, one can say that there MAY be more to reality that can be known through science. That goes to my next point…”There must be some force behind these phenomena…If science can not answer these questions, then I have a right to believe in a SUPREME BEING–the CREATOR.”This issue isn’t about rights, since anyone can hold any sort of belief he or she chooses. This is about intellectual responsibility, about acknowledging and respecting the limits of our knowledge while striving to expand those limits. The concept of belief goes against that responsibility since a belief is a claim of knowledge. “There must be some force” amounts to making an assumption that is not backed up by evidence. Respecting the limits of knowledge means avoiding speculation and assumption as much as possible. We have no evidence for any sort of belief regarding the unanswered questions about the universe. The only responsible position on those questions is “I don’t know.” I don’t understand why many people insist on trying to fill the gap in human knowledge with belief.

  • Paganplace

    See, what I’m saying is, there’s a false dichotomy, between some *kinds* of religions which are threatened by observation of the manifest world, and ….the discipline of science, which is there to help us determine, as as best that capacity allows, what *is* the natural world. You can’t ‘prove a negative’ with science, but you also can’t use that fact to claim, ‘Science isn’t the real deal and may as well be wrong, so, here, have my cherry-picked ‘science’ along with my cherry-picked pseudo-rational book-lieralism.’ People treating ‘science’ and ‘religion’ as *competing authorities* tend to end up with neither full science nor full spirituality. Which, of course, doesn’t mean that science can be contradicted or manipulated at will in the name of religion and then called ‘Scientific proof of book religion,’ …the idea, ‘Yep, sure looks like there’s more,’ doesn’t change the age of the universe or how long it takes to erode a river valley.

  • Carstonio

    “You just can’t claim to ‘know’ these things *scientifically.* “How else would one know them?”Insight and subjectivity are important parts of our experience”Those can often suggest avenues for investigation of things outside our minds. But they do not by themselves constitute evidence for such things, and I suspect you agree. The larger point is that the universe and the mental landscape are separate realms. Our goal here is to investigate and determine the exact properties of the universe, those things that would exist if humans didn’t exist. We’re not as concerned about codifying the experience of being human because of the subjective nature of that experience. “sometimes the ‘extraordinary’ is extraordinary, because it’s not *repeatable,* at least yet, …some stuff is actually bigger than us.”Would you explain? What do you mean by “the extraordinary”? “How we deal with this reality, as subjective creatures, is no different from how we deal with *any* reality.”I don’t understand that either. You seem to be suggesting that there is a reality other than what we experience with our senses. The only other “reality” we can detect is the mental landscape, which has no connection to sensory reality except through one’s actions. If a person sat in a windowless room and thought of a purple elephant, no one outside the room would know this unless the person came out and described his or her thoughts.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    LarryFafarman, you say,there really is lots of evidence for genetic variation and natural selection. we all know of flus and medication-resistant bacterias evolving. people quibble about “micro” and “macro” evolution. macro-evolution is just a LOT of micro-evolution. fossil and genetic evidence are two of evolution’s strongest lines of evidence.now, the question becomes, “is this the way god chose to do it?” or maybe, “is god manipulating the genetic mutations that result in evolution?” perhaps god is the “random” in random chance.these are valid (but possibly unaswerable) questions about evolution, and ways to reconcile god and evolution. so, evolution does not rule out the possibility of god, but as someone once said, “the theory works without that assumption.”

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    zebra4,

  • Carstonio

    “the idea, ‘Yep, sure looks like there’s more,’ doesn’t change the age of the universe or how long it takes to erode a river valley.”What do you mean by “looks like there’s more”? What is the person looking at that would demonstrate there is more to reality than what can be scientifically known? I stress that I’m not arguing that reality is solely what science can know, but merely questioning the opposite assumption. I’ve read the claim that many philosophers regard cogitation itself as a form of perception.

  • ThomasBaum

    PSolusYou wrote, “Please, tell us more about your imaginary friend.”I suppose you are speaking of God.First, He is not imaginary and one day you will know that.Second, He is a Trinity and a Being of Pure Love.Third, God-Incarnate is Jesus.You also wrote, “Insincerely, Peregrine Bartleby Rumpelstiltskin Solus”.Is this your real name? Thomas Paul Moses Baum is my real name.Just trying to do what God chose for me to do.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    zebra4 You wrote, “What is wrong about your ideas is that you again think God is not omnipotent, otherwise you wouldn’t say “God finished creating”.”Two things:First off, you don’t even seem to see what I write, much less know what I think.Second, when I referred to: God Blest, Rested and Made Holy, I, specifically, said that this referred to the seventh day and that the seventh day has not yet arrived but with the dawning of the seventh day will come the new heavens and the new earth.You then wrote, “An omnipotent entity could just order things to happen rather than like a carpenter “finished” making a table.”However God wishes to create is fine with me, God is God, I’m not.You then wrote, “By attributing human qualities in God, you are putting “limits” on what He could do or not do. That is not omnipotence.”By speaking of or thinking about God in human language, I believe, is pleasing to God, it in no way puts “limits” on God except maybe in your mind.You then wrote, “You seem to play with semantics. You can not comprehend God without thinking of Him as Human.”As I have said, I have met God and as I have also said, I cannot conceive of a Being that is Love as opposed to a Being that Love is an attribute of and yet God is LOVE.You then wrote, “Boy, YOU ARE CONFUSED.”Why would you say this?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Paganplace

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, Carstonio: It’s probably my biggest problem with ‘book religion’ as some try to get people to decide on, not that it’s ‘religion,’ but that it’s trying to take up the *same brainspace* that we’re supposed to be reasoning with.

  • zebra4

    NATURAL vs. (SUPER)NATURALWhat may be supernatural at one time could become natural at another time.What may be supernatural in one culture may be natural in another culture.The line between natural and supernatural can be very thin sometimes.”Garlic prevents heart attack” is a good example here.If someone wears a garland of garlic cloves and hopes that it will prevent heart attack, most of us in our culture will classify this to be supernatural idea.But it has been established today that garlic has blood thinning compounds in them. In cultures where people eat garlic regularly in significant amounts the blood is thinner than in cultures where people eat eat large quantities of red meat etc. It is no longer a supernatural thing.To some people UFOs are real but to others, they are figments of imagination (supernatural).

  • ThomasBaum

    And a Hi to you PaganplaceThank you for your comments and I definitely enjoy chatting with you.You mentioned “Obedience”, sometime in the last few years or so, I found out that the word “obedience” basically means “to listen”.I find this very interesting because it implies that we should also use our God-given ability to “reason” which is to think and make decisions which in turn makes us responsible for how we use our “free will”.There are many in the world that want others to direct their steps and there are many in the world who want to be the ones to direct other’s steps. I do not think that the “true” meaning of obedience applies to either category, do you?Unless one listens, one can not hear.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, “well, that’s a nice approach, but evidence disagrees not only with the lengths of time given in genesis, but also the ORDER or events.”I guess I am not as particular as you and I also don’t look at the bible as a scientific treastie, if that is the right word.What it basically says is that God created everything, does it not?It also says on the seventh day: “God Blest, Rested and made Holy”.Jesus said: “My Father has been busy, even until now”.Apparently, the seventh day has not yet arrived.The dawning of the seventh day, the new heavens and the new earth, see you there.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    ThomasBaum, you said,that’s past tense. it already happened.

  • zebra4

    CORRECTION: I wrote:”In my view, we have been fighting for our identities with often hidden socio-cultural, socio-religious and socio-religious AGENDAS”It should read: In my view, we have been fighting for our identities with often hidden socio-cultural, socio-religious and socio-ECONOMIC AGENDAS”.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch In response to zebra4 you wrote, “religion can answer ANY question by invoking faith. why does it rain? god made it rain. why does the sun shine? god made it shine. why do we get sick? god amkes us sick. and so on.”and “this thinking grinds all scientific progress to a halt.”This is “pure hogwash” and you should know it. The hydrosphere works the way it does because God created it that way, the sun shines because God created stars of different sizes and placement in the universe.Science is the study of God’s creation and it’s awesomeness. Many people are led to God thru the awesomeness of His Creation.You also wrote, “it is the way “intelligent design” (G.O.D. – God Our Designer) “theory” works, and what makes it unscientific.”I don’t think of God at all as a designer but as a Creator. To be a designer, one has to have something to start with and design. To be a Creator as opposed to creative should be self-explanatory.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Paganplace

    Daniel:(on people claiming ‘God sez’ about everything and attributing everything to piety or lack thereof:)”This is “pure hogwash” and you should know it. “You can’t *possibly* claim this doesn’t happen, Daniel. In fact, far more people claim such things about ‘God’s will’ wherever convenient than there are of people who think and speak as you do.You must know that, I should think?

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, “ThomasBaum, you said,Could be God’s Way of letting us know that it definitely will happen, considering that Jesus, as I pointed out, said: “My Father has been busy even untill now”.I look at the bible as one book, I may not understand all of it but I still look at it as one.Many people “slice and dice” the bible, some seem to do it to cram God down other people’s throats while others seem to do it to “prove” that it is “scientifically” wrong, while others do it for other reasons.This kind of reminds me of dissecting a frog, which I have never done, where one starts out with a live frog and ends up with a bloody dead mess and this is just what it seems that some of the “slice and dicers” of the bible end up with.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • zebra4

    ThomasBaum:One thing I like about you is CIVILITY. You must be a real mild mannered person in real life.I contest your ideas simply because I feel you have been led to not so logical things about God. That is probably my ethnocentrism. You have a right to believe whatever you were led to believe.I use religion and science as two different domains of the human experience. My education in science has helped me to seperate from what I was led to believe from what knowledge I acquired from my education.I still feel I know so little. It is a very humbling feeling.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    colinnicholas:Good post; however, ccnl “believes” in God. It is a matter of definition. For instance, for R. Waskow, God is the old bag lady in the subway, the heavens, you giving money to the poor, an old man in the sky, a young woman reading to a blind child, etc.There are varieties of religious experience. I’m not certain that we must write them all off. James was not an idiot, and neither was Tillich.

  • zebra4

    The conflict between religion and science (and by extension evolution) is based on the mistaken belief (fear) that science erodes the belief in God which ultimately affects the church, synagogue or mosque. Attendance goes down and therefore revenues go down.The people of faith have been making a big mistake in opposing evolution and science. When young men and women go to College, they often find incongruence between what they learned in college and what they learned from their parents and clergy.I will give two examples from Islamic faith.The Quran addresses humans, “we created you from clay”. The kid who studied biology and chemistry will say that is not what I learned in science. But if one explains that all living things are recycled. When humans die, they are either buried in the ground or are cremated. The ashes after cremation become part of the dust.When the dead are buried their bodies eventually become part of the earth. The seeds that fall grow, give flowers, fruits etc. The cycle gets repeated.If we explain this way, it will make sense and not lead to incongruence mentioned earlier.The Quran also says: “All living things will taste death.”The biologists say: THE SEEDS OF DEATH ARE SOWN AT CONCEPTION.The native Americans believe in THE GREAT SPIRIT. To them, living and non-living things are part of one. Again, there is so much truth if you apply the concept of recycling to it.The Quran says: All praise to the Creator of the universes (plural). Today, we know that there are so many planatory systems. All Muslims in their daily prayers recite this verse.A continuation of this verse is “O’ God lead me to the right (righteous) path.” This means humans recognize that they are vulnerable and ask for guidance from God.The Quran sddresses humans “You were created from tiny particles”(approximate translation). Today, we know about sperms, eggs, genes, DNA etc.No, I am not claiming that religion is science. They are not. What I am saying is that religious people by opposing science and evolution are harming religion.A war waged by religious people against science is a loosing proposition.I am not trying to preach here. All religions have good things to say.

  • ThomasBaum

    zebra4 You wrote, “I contest your ideas simply because I feel you have been led to not so logical things about God.”Since God is God and we’re not, we can tend to put God in the box of “logic”.I have mentioned that I have met God and that God is a Being of Pure Love, as in Love not being an attribute of God but is God’s Very Being. There is a big, to put it mildly, difference between Love being an attribute of God and Love being God, God being Love.To me “logic”, at least in this case, is trying to figure out God, all I can say to this is “good luck”.It seems to me that some people may think that I think that I am a “know-it-all” since I, point-blank, mention that I have met God, well I am far from being a “know-it-all”.And for that matter, I do not need to be a “know-it-all” nor do I have any desire to be a “know-it-all”.However, I am counting on God to let me know what I need to know to do what God has chosen for me to do and also to see me thru, so to speak.If God’s Plan, which I have spoken of, is not for absolutely everyone to be with God in the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, then it would not be worth didly.You also wrote, ” You have a right to believe whatever you were led to believe.”I was led to believe that “God is Love” but I had no idea that it was and is literal until I actually met God.You also wrote, “I use religion and science as two different domains of the human experience.”I don’t look at it as “religion” but as a relationship. But as far as you saying, “religion and science”, I would say that one is looking at the Creator and the other is looking at His Creation and how His Creation “works”.Isn’t it something how God has given everyone opportunities to do “good” no matter what there “station” in life is?You also wrote, “I still feel I know so little. It is a very humbling feeling.”It seems to me that anyone in any kind of scientific field should feel the same way and it is somewhat amazing to me when some don’t.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • colinnicholas

    Hi Farnaz;Thanks for your comment. No James was no idiot. But he WAS a man of his time and culture. Although post-Darwin, those days were still weirdly superstitious, with Wm J. and Conan Doyle and others searching for fairies in Bluebell wood, as well as at the bottom of everybody’s gardens. Spiritualism and seances and ESP too, were popular even among people like them.Probably a superficial dismissal of the great man – and I rest assured that you’ll straighten me out if it is. Cheers.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Hi Colin Nick,Ach, you are a hard Voltairian case, but, still, I wonder if much hinges on what any individual means by “God.” Is Maimonides’ God the same as that of Yunus Emre, Sufi mytic? Then, one thinks of the religious experiences of Buddhists, which do not depend on God.What of practicing scientists who do “believe”? “Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, and his visionary leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP), is the former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Dr. Collins, served as NHGRI’s director since April 1993. Beside leading the Human Genome Project to completion, he initiated a wide range of research projects that built upon the foundation laid by the sequencing of the human genetic blueprint.”Source: On Franics’ faith:

  • Carstonio

    “That subjective part is *important,* and there’s no need for it to be *either* sterile, or messed up by lazy thought about things science can learn and teach.”What do you mean by sterile? I’m not arguing that the subjective part is unimportant, but merely that it’s distinct from the objective part. The subjective part doesn’t need to be codified precisely because it is subjective. It’s the distinction between the fact of the nuclear fusion in the Sun and the emotional experience of watching a sunrise. “The insistence that there is and must be a ‘singular authority’ as ‘final arbiter of what is and is not’ is something that Western science kind of inherits from dogmatic monotheism, even if the ‘final arbiter’ is a humanlike construct of thought.”I’m not sure what that has to do with my point. Would you explain? Part of my point is that the facts of the universe exist separately from the meanings that humans assign to them. Those facts would continue to exist even if humans didn’t exist.”I would agree. It is. But perception of *what,* being the question.”Would you explain? I’m arguing against the assumption that cogitation is perception of things outside the mind. One can perceive one’s own thoughts, but the thoughts have no existence outside the brain.”As someone who unexpectedly turned out to be a mystic, in some ways, it only matters *that* people perceive things, and my job has been to help them deal with it, not ‘prove’ something.”What things and perceptions are you talking about? How would you explain those concepts to someone from Mars?

  • Carstonio

    “it only matters *that* people perceive things, and my job has been to help them deal with it, not ‘prove’ something.”To expand on my point, it matters a great deal that some people claim to perceive objects and phenomena that cannot be detected empirically. It matters because that’s a claim of objective fact and not subjective “truth.” Objects and phenomena exists independent of the human mind, and any claim about the extrasensory perception of objects or phenomena deserves to be treated like any other hypothesis.I’m trying to avoid a “do-it-yourself” reality where people believe or don’t believe in the existence of things based on a philosophical agenda. (That would also apply to the hard atheists who believe that gods don’t exist.) That’s the whole problem with creationism and intelligent design – both start with the philosophical contention that humanity is of vital importance in the universe, and attempt to filter biology according to that contention. I’m saying that we can decide for ourselves that humanity is important no matter how humanity came to be, and the way we do that is to recognize that meaning is entirely a human creation with no inherent existence.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    ThomasBaum, you said to me,ha! you call it “hogwash”, then go on to prove my point. you say, “because god created it that way”…. until 100 years ago these weather questions were god’s domain. now that we’ve figured that out, the questions are, “how did flagella evolve?” michael behe’s (of “intelligent design” fame) answer is “god did it.” seriously, that’s what he says. he thinks there’s nothing left to learn about bacterial flagella. he even thinks the “impossibility” of their evolving on their own is evidence for god. behe’s god now presides over these tiny molecule-sized gaps.

  • PSolus

    Thomas Paul Moses Baum,You wrote:”I suppose you are speaking of God.”You are correct sir.”First, He is not imaginary and one day you will know that.”You don’t actually know that this is true; you are confusing knowledge and belief.”Second, He is a Trinity and a Being of Pure Love.”Again, this is something that you want to believe is true.”Third, God-Incarnate is Jesus.”What, he’s Hispanic? Just kidding; see above.”You also wrote, “Insincerely, Peregrine Bartleby Rumpelstiltskin Solus”.Try looking up insincerely in a dictionary.”Just trying to do what God chose for me to do.”I’m sure that you desperately want to believe that this is true.Don’t worry, be happy.Insincerely, Peregrine Bartleby Rumpelstiltskin Solus

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    zebra4, you said,that’s a very enlightened way of rationalizing what’s written in scripture, but do you really think that’s what the author meant? i think it’s much more likely the author meant “god scooped up some clay, sculpted it into a human shape, then “breathed life” into it.”now, it is certainly true that we are made of “recycled” material in the “you-are-what-you-eat” sort of way. also, the earth and solar system and atoms in our bodies were “made” in long-dead stars which exploded and have since been “recycled”.so, was god speaking to us in code?i’ve heard of people make similar rationalizations about genesis when they say the “firmament” mentioned there is our atmosphere. seems to me like if scripture were divine it would have corrected the prevailing misconceptions about “made from clay” and “rigid firmament domes”.

  • colinnicholas

    Farnaz;I checked the links, and Doc Collins is one impressive Christian.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    i’ve read collins’ book, “the language of god”. he makes a great case for evolution based on genetics. his explanation of DNA and mutations is excellent.on god, he makes the tired claim that he “used to be an atheist”, but now he sees DNA as “god’s instruction book.”really, his argument for the existence of god boils down to the “moral law” argument. he considers the existence of morals evidence for god. kind of disappointing for me as i was expecting some kind of scientific argument – but i suppose that kind of “proof for god” remains elusive.all that said, collins is a great example of how god and science can coexist. he has learned to take scripture so metaphorically that it allows him to follow the scientific evidence wherever it takes him.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter,You know all this Collins stuff sounds vaguely like Maimonides. He made an Aristotelian argument. He didn’t believe that what was contained in the Tanakh (OT) was fact. In fact, he discounted material we now believe was factual. He sort of saw it as the “truth” in a form that we could take in.Anyway, if “DNA is God’s instruction book,” aren’t we back to the same reconciliation theory? God ordained evolution, or something of the sort?

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    colinnicholas:I dunno. Call me a cynic, but I don’t believe you’re saved. :)I think “Doc Collins” compartmentalizes, no?Farnaz

  • colinnicholas

    Farnaz;You are a cynic.Take care. Be ready.

  • Paganplace

    I guess, Colin, there’s also a difference between retroactively-reconciling Bibles with what science knows, and claiming that obeying and believing some interpretation of that Bible would have led to the scientific knowing ‘all along.’ I suppose it’s a little better than claiming the world we can measure *is not how it can be measured to be,* though. Creationist arguments are bereft of intellectual honesty, and meant to *obfuscate* real science with *sciencey talk put up to a ‘popularity contest,’ to get people to want to obey what is counter to reason and sense.* It’s *about* ‘Stop looking, stop paying attention,’ …Let us control your sense of reality so we can use you to control others.’ Prime example that always comes up, ‘sciencey’ claims that gay people don’t exist because a single ‘gene’ isn’t isolated, so therefore obviously they must have ‘chosen to sin cause of the devil,’ …or that ‘It’s ridiculous, cause you don’t personally reproduce with gay sexuality,’ …completely ignoring the fact that we’re social creatures who share the vast majority of our DNA with our siblings, …to wit, passing on your DNA isn’t a breeding competition. It’s just trying to claim what is, isn’t. Confuse people by stopping thought and inquiry. It’s about preserving authority, whatever happens, for ‘ID’ people. Buying authority, by offering false ‘certainty,’ and taking as the price, reason and understanding.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz,you said,yes, but at least collins’ god “does no harm” to science, unlike the literal fundamentalist god.the problem theists is that, for many, the “god-who-manipulates-DNA-mutations” is not a very satisfying god. it’s just not enough. they want more from god. the DNA-manipulating god certainly not as easily-apparently awesome as the god who parts waters and makes the sun stand still (or even multiplies loaves). this intimately-involved cartoon god (who offers a way to cheat death) is more comforting.now, collins may believe some of that intimately-involved god stuff – especially the eternal life part – but it somehow doesn’t hamper his scientific inquiry.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    farnaz, you said,i, cynically, believe interpretive interpretations happened only after errors become apparent. i think the authors meant them literally. i think the author of exodus (whoever he actually was, writing long after the purported events) really thought the waters were literally parted for the israelites.what do you think?(p.s. – i understand that some verses, like in proverbs/psalms and so on are “poetry” and were obviously not meant to be taken literally.)

  • Paganplace

    “i, cynically, believe interpretive interpretations happened only after errors become apparent. i think the authors meant them literally. i think the author of exodus (whoever he actually was, writing long after the purported events) really thought the waters were literally parted for the israelites.”Well, Walter, I, for one think, the stories were meant *mythically* and the book-worship factor kind of confused the issue. That’s how *stories* can work, if we’re not careful. ‘Myth’ *isn’t* a dirty word. The problems come when myth is confused or substituted for science.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    Walter,You know, in the Tanakh, we are dealing with several different authors–the documentary hypotheses. They were following different traditions, too. So, for them, it probably meant nothing that there were two creation stories. They knew two, so they wrote two.Then, also, they had different perspectives, different objectives. The texts are internally interpretive, so it is very difficult to say who believed what. It does seem that the concept of the deity evolved.By the first century, interpretation was underway big time.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace,or, who knows, maybe the whole exodus/migration was mythical. i guess this kind of loosey-goosey interpretation principle lets one create a god that’s just right for one’s self. i suppose it’s also the kind of interpretive principle that drives fundamentalist bonkers (more bonkers than they already are).

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    There are problems still with sites that are unexcavated. Several pertain to Joshua.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace, you said,of course NOW it’s not simpler to assume it’s mythical. but that’s only in hindsight, with the benefit of archaeology, geology, biology, astronomy etc… but if we’re talking about the minds of the authors, they didn’t know anything about these things. when they wrote, it was “reasonable” to assume the earth was flat and protected from “the waters” by a rigid dome. it was reasonable, in fact self-evident that the sun, moon, planets and stars orbited earth.they didn’t even know about germs. with that in mind it was “simple” to say demonic possession or whatever curse cause leprosy. even as late as “the plague” people were sure someone had done something spiritually wrong that caused the plague.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace, you said,”Not actually, by the time even the Hebrew book was around in the present kind of form, or what’s assumed to be, it was possible, and *done,* to observe better.”i’m pretty sure that prior to copernicus, and certainly prior to his era, just about everyone “knew” the sun orbits the earth. there may have been an obscure ancient greek guy or something who proposed a heliocentric solar system, but i’ll bet you anything just about everyone thought the heavens were physically, gegraphically, centered around the earth.interestingly around 200 b.c., eratosthenes (i think) determined the earth was a globe and estimated its circumference to within a few percent. he used shadows cast at the same time on vertical shafts (wells) separated by a known distance. very clever.naturally this idea was discarded or lost for centuries. i think by the time of columbus people were realizing the earth was a globe. i think it’s a myth (ha, ha) that educated people thought he’d “fall off the edge”.it’s interesting also that we’re both trying to apply occam’s razor to scripture but come up with different conclusions.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace, you said,that’s kind of what i’m saying. nobody could read, everybody just trusted their senses and assumed, when they thought about it at all, the obvious – that the sun moves around us to make days and rises higher and lower to make seasons/years. without recent scientific knowledge this “truth” is obvious.many thought the sun was some kind of living being. like you said, we know better (without scare quotes) now. ;-)

  • Paganplace

    Err, the Sun *is* some kind of living being. Has to do with hydrogen shells and particle pressure and degenerate hydrogen, but living, nonetheless. The chariot of Helios still rides, if you will. Nothing changed, there. ‘Religion’ just got confused on the issue, is all. There are no privileged reference points, if you will. Still don’t see what all the fuss is about, apart from some making one of it.

  • Carstonio

    Paganplace,”I’ve certainly tried to apply as much scientific rigor to things *I’ve* seen”What things would these be? My comment about extrasensory perception was not intended to refer to the public notion of “ESP.” I was using the term in the extreme generic sense – if I understand correctly, you and others say you are perceiving things that have nothing to do with your senses, and these things are not part of your own consciousness. This is not necessarily your fault, but “things I’ve seen” is too vague. What I’m trying to get at is what exactly you perceive, and why you conclude from it that there are objects and phenomena that cannot be perceived through the five senses. “a lot the idea that information is localized to isolated brains, for instance, presents real problems. “What problems would those be? The goal here is to distinguish between the data from our senses and the ideas and meanings that humans reach from those data. It appears to be very easy for humans to mistake those ideas for actual data.”I think what it is is that reality is deeper than mechanism”Would you explain? When I say “reality” I refer to the aspects of the universe that reside outside the human mind, objects and phenomena that would exist if humans didn’t exist. There is another type of “reality” that involves human-created ideas and concepts, and that reality is important and useful, but it’s not the topic under discussion. “I can hypothesize that information and consciousness are non-local, toward understanding some of my ‘evidence.’ “Again, would you say what your evidence is? You acknowledge that your hypothesis cannot be tested. I would argue that untestable and unfalsifiable hypotheses have no value except as intellectual exercises. I don’t know if your hypothesis is unfalsifiable. “To, say, start off learning that the world is *alive,* is a functional way to start learning what humans can learn about our world, of a lifetime.”Again, I’m not clear on what you mean. When you mean “alive,” are you saying that the world has a consciousness?”I think in a way, that is part of a false dichotomy, one inherited from certain monotheistic claims about ‘authority,’ and ‘reality:'”I’m not sure how you are deriving “authority” from my point about meaning being a human creation. Would you explain? Do you mean authority in the power sense or the knowledge sense?Part 2 to come…

  • Carstonio

    Also,”What’s simpler is to figure that it’s a founding myth, and like many other cultures dealt with just fine, it simply wasn’t taken to be the same thing as ordinary-world reality.”That very well may be how those cultures viewed the stories, as allegories and not as literal explanations. The problem is twofold… One, we don’t know for sure how those cultures viewed those stories. We don’t have the necessary data to make a conclusion either way. We can agree with Joseph Campbell that the stories should be viewed as allegories, and find our own allegorical meanings in the stories. But the relevant question here is the intentions of the stories’ authors.Two, and more importantly, there are people who in 2009 regard the stories as literal fact. For precisely that reason, the stories deserve to be dissected on the literal level like any other hypothesis. One can do this while acknowledging that many more people treat the stories as allegories.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace, you said,well, maybe that’s why i see your beliefs as so harmless to science. maybe that’s why your beliefs, as crazy as the seems to me, being totally compatible with science are so easy to to incorporate into modern society.:-)conversation was (is) a pleasure.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace, you said,this is what’s so charming about you silly (in the best possible way) pagans. i marvel at the beauty and conplexity of the sun, and you call it a “living being.”i think you’re crazy to call it a “living being”, but i marvel at the natural laws that make, in fact require, that the sun exist. so, we kind of worship the same thing, but from different angles…

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio,but i think our quibbles with paganplace are so trivial compared to the judeochrislamic horrors in in world today. i wish that all the…pardon me, pagan…”irational theists” out there were as enlightened as pagans…

  • Carstonio

    Walter, excellent point. Part of my quibble has to do with the concept of “religious experience.” That’s a vague notion at best, and when we’re investigating the properties of the universe, it’s important to be as concrete and specific as possible. The specific quibble is when people use religious experiences as indications or evidence for objects or phenomena that allegedly exist beyond the human senses or beyond empirical investigation. When it comes to the question of the existence of any object or phenomenon, we should insist on basic scientific standards such as testability and falsifiability. Anyone can make any sort of claim about things that humans cannot detect with their senses – those claims don’t allow for the possibility of evidence proving the claims wrong.

  • Paganplace

    Walter: “This is what’s so charming about you silly (in the best possible way) pagans. i marvel at the beauty and conplexity of the sun, and you call it a “living being.””We think it’s silly of you to assume the beauty and complexity of the universe and feeling the spirit in things is mutually-exclusive, or some kind of zero-sum competition. :) I think many atheists are just so used to *fighting dogma* that that’s all you see when you look at anything spiritual or religious, or mythic. Science doesn’t *remove* the ‘meaning’ from our experience of the natural world, in fact, it makes it all the more wondrous, (Just cause I like to know stellar types when gazing into the sky doesn’t mean they aren’t the ‘dust of Her feet,’ too. :) ) “i think you’re crazy to call it a “living being”, but i marvel at the natural laws that make, in fact require, that the sun exist. so, we kind of worship the same thing, but from different angles…”Very much so, .. I can look at things from different angles, my own self. I’ve found that it has often *helped me understand* a lot of science some find conceptually-difficult, actually. Of course, ‘natural laws’ aren’t like law-laws, written and imposed by some being or presumptive being, they’re just chartings of the shape of the slice of the universe where we dwell. :)

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, ” the questions are, “how did flagella evolve?” michael behe’s (of “intelligent design” fame) answer is “god did it.” seriously, that’s what he says. he thinks there’s nothing left to learn about bacterial flagella.”I don’t know Michael Behe and have never heard of him that I remember and I don’t know too much about “Intelligent Design” but from what you are saying here, it sounds like at least some of them think that God created a “static” rather than a “dynamic” creation.I most definitely believe that God gave us, humanity, the abilities that we have for us to use them and I also believe that it is important how we use our abilities for it should be very obvious, we can use these abilities for both good and bad, wouldn’t you say?Also, some times we can “get so full of ourselves” that we don’t give enough thought to what could be “cataclysmic” effects of doing something “just because we can”.You then wrote, “he even thinks the “impossibility” of their evolving on their own is evidence for god.”Sounds as if he wants to put God in the “box” that he has constructed for God.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Paganplace

    Hi, Thomas:”I don’t know Michael Behe and have never heard of him that I remember and I don’t know too much about “Intelligent Design” but from what you are saying here, it sounds like at least some of them think that God created a “static” rather than a “dynamic” creation.”Creationists: oh, wait, ID believers, basically thought that the evolution of flagella in microorganisms was simply impossible in terms of there being no possibility of ‘transitional forms,’ .. of course, like most ID fallacies, they were simply arguing, ‘This is too hard to understand, ‘God’ must have made it whole cloth.’ Only problem being that actually, it’s not that hard to understand. They came from spiny structures used for other purposes. “ID” is essentially, however you slice it, an argument from ignorance to justify an argument from authority. It’s not science, and it doesn’t mind lying about it. It also appeals to, flatters, really, misplaced intellectual pride: “If I can’t understand it, only God could.”Which is of course, BS.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Paganplace, Carstonio,:-)

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    ThomasBaum,

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurchYou wrote, “perhaps you should inform yourself (about michael behe et.al.). maybe you don’t care about the arguments “ID”ers (G.O.D. – God Our Designers) are making, but, as a theist, you should know them.”Anyone, theist or non-theist, that cannot get past their pre-conceived notions about the “physical universe” and their “study” of it, is neither a scientist nor a thinker.Awhile back on this site, there was discussions about having an “open mind”, sad to say, there are many, both theist and non-theist, that claim to have an open mind that wouldn’t know the meaning of an open mind if they tripped over it.It seems as if there are some theists that want to tell other people just how God created, using their pre-conceived conception of God to interpret, rather than just letting whatever the evidence is “speak for itself”.As I have said, God will not fit in any box that anyone tries to put Him in.You then wrote, ” they are the closest thing to a scientific (though they are NOT scientific) discusion there is about god.”I am not here to have a “scientific” discussion about God. I am neither a scientist nor a theologian. Science is the study of God’s Creation and theology is the study of God. There are many “theologians” that study and study and study about God and some may know every word of every different “scripture” that is out there and yet know absolutely NOTHING about God.Sometimes it seems as if some of those that know God’s Name, know even less about God than some others.People can discuss God all they want, I am here to tell people that I have met God, not studied God, and God’s Plan is for All even tho there seem to be not very many that believe this and sad to say, not very many that even seem to want this.I know God is a Being of Pure Love and that God is a Trinity and that Jesus is God-Incarnate since the Eucharist is Jesus, as I have said, I am just a messenger, not God and it is God’s Plan not mine.We are responsible for what we do and why we do it and whether or not we accept that responsibility is our choice.I am not here to “convince” but to speak, someone had to be me.See you and the rest of HUMANITY in the Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    PSolusYou wrote, “Can you please share with us the details of your meeting with god; when did you meet him, where did you meet him, what did you two talk about, are you two planning to meet again, do you think it would be possible for me or someone else to meet him, etc.”I met the First Person of the Trinity Who is referred to as God the Father on the 28th of January of 2000.I was driving my car when God the Father came into my heart.God the Father did not say a word, He did not have to.It was of God’s Doing coming into my heart and of course, I will meet Dad again but I do not know when.Don’t worry, you and absolutely everyone else will meet God.I met the Holy Spirit on the 29th of January of 2000 and the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus.By the way, I have either met God or am crazy, deluded or whatever other words that you are comfortable with, one or the other, see you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • PSolus

    Thomas Paul Moses Baum,You wrote:”By the way, I have either met God or am crazy, deluded or whatever other words that you are comfortable with, one or the other, see you and the rest of humanity in the Kingdom.”Are you sure that you’ll see me in the kingdom; from everything that I’ve read and heard, I have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to the kingdom.Wouldn’t it be ironic if I made it to the kingdom after everything that I’ve done here on earth?Don’t worry, be happy.Insincerely, Peregrine Bartleby Rumpelstiltskin Solus

  • ThomasBaum

    PSolus You wrote, “Are you sure that you’ll see me in the kingdom; from everything that I’ve read and heard, I have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to the kingdom.”I guess this means that you haven’t read what I have been writing.You also wrote, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if I made it to the kingdom after everything that I’ve done here on earth?”Why do you think that God has a Plan?As I have said, God wins, satan loses, a tie is unacceptable.God’s Plan is for ALL to be in the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, it is God’s Plan and God has had His Plan since before Creation and His Plan will come to Fruition.God becoming One of us is just part of God’s Plan which is unfolding before our very eyes.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • PSolus

    Thomas Paul Moses Baum,You wrote:”I guess this means that you haven’t read what I have been writing.”And then you wrote:”Why do you think that God has a Plan?”And then you wrote:”God’s Plan is for ALL to be in the Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, it is God’s Plan and God has had His Plan since before Creation and His Plan will come to Fruition.”And:”God becoming One of us is just part of God’s Plan which is unfolding before our very eyes.”If I think that god has a plan, it may be because I have been reading what you have been writing.So, are you doing god’s work, or are you just tickling our ears with false prophesies?Don’t worry, be happy.Insincerely, Peregrine Bartleby Rumpelstiltskin Solus

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    hi psolus and thomas,psolus,thomas,why the hell won’t he do that for me?you said he didn’t say a word, but that you know his plan. how? it’s not from the bible, i think, since you say you will “see” me in the “afterlife” (unless of course one can see hell from heaven). or do you mean to say that you will be in hell with us? as psolus said, according to THAT book he an i are doomed. are there biblical passages i don’t know about that abrogate jesus’ clear warnings?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thomas,i don’t know what that means. i have a heart and am able to feel things like love and angst and courage, but not something so complex as “we’ll all meet god in heaven(?) someday.” how did he communicate that?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thomas,

  • Carstonio

    “i’m really curious about what happened in your brain when you met god.”There are several questions here – did Thomas experience something, and if so, what was it and what caused it. For the first question, we have no evidence other than Thomas’ word for it. Not to impugn his character, but anyone can claim to have such an experience since such a claim cannot be verified. But the larger issue is the hypothesis that Thomas offers for the cause of the experience. Hypotheses involving gods aren’t testable or falsifiable, and for this reason they are indistinguishable from speculation. That doesn’t automatically mean these false. It means that these reject the possibility of evidence proving them false.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio,

  • Carstonio

    “The inherent ‘cruelty’ of the natural world. The nature of evil (both very traditional reasons for doubt recognised in theology.”David, while your post makes some good points, would you explain why both of those would be reasons for unbelief? Theology strikes me as a system of internal logic that holds together only when one grants the initial assumptions, which have no basis. We cannot assume that there’s only one god. (Using “God” as a name has the effect of biasing the discussion in favor of the Abrahamic religions.) And we cannot assume that gods would have anything to do with cruelty or evil – they may seek to deliberately create those things or they may be indifferent to them. Another possibility is that cruelty or evil are beyond the power of gods to a great degree, like in the Norse myths.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    where other religions posit gods with tragic, all-too-human flaws, judeochrislamics maintain, despite scripture, that yahweh/jesus/allah is perfect, omnipotent and benevolent. based on His behavior, there is no reason to think this is the case.for one thing, he tells us he “takes vengeance” and is “filled with wrath.” that’s not benevolent. justice is one thing, but vengeance and wrath are another. he “visits the iniquities” of the father upon the son. any kindergartener knows that’s not fair.and, what is it that enrages him so? it is people praying to other gods, which he claims don’t even exist. he admits, no, proclaims that he is jealous (which itself is an imperfection), then tells us not to “covet” – so he is also a hypocrite.he is a bit of a smart-a** too: in numbers 11, the israelites wish they had meat to eat, so yahweh said, “Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month – until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it.” you can almost hear the sinister “dr. evil” laugh, “NEEeeeYYAAAHahahaha…..” yahweh covered the camp in quail two cubits (three feet) deep for miles around. when the israelites began eating, He made them sick. earlier, in exodus, it is he who hardened pharaoh’s heart, so we can’t blame pharaoh for the plagues and the passover massacre. yahweh orchestrated the whole thing. those were his fault. again, he’s hardly benevolent.today, he still lets millions die for want of food and water, inflicts His children with a myriad of crippling, painful diseases (design flaws), and causes us to kill each other in his name.if he were omnipotent, he could do something about all this, but he chooses not to. so, he might be omnipotent OR he might be benevolent, but he can’t be both.you might say this or that person’s suffering is part of his larger plan, maybe it teaches us something, but if that is the case, then it’s a malevolent, at least callous, plan. it is better to think he is benevolent, but can’t do anything about the starving and diseases and earthquakes and car accidents.

  • Carstonio

    Walter, your point is essentially the same as Mark Twain’s. Are you saying that the state of the world disproves the existence of the Abrahamic deity, or that it simply disproves the definitions offered by the three religions? “you might say this or that person’s suffering is part of his larger plan, maybe it teaches us something, but if that is the case, then it’s a malevolent, at least callous, plan. it is better to think he is benevolent, but can’t do anything about the starving and diseases and earthquakes and car accidents.”How is “better” relevant to the overall question? The goal here is to determine whether gods exist, and if so, what natures and properties they have. The factualness of any object or phenomenon has nothing to do with what humans like. You’re right that the three religions often ascribe behavior to their god that would be morally repugnant if ascribed to a human. (I would add that parts of the theologies themselves are repugnant, such as the idea of deserved suffering.) But I would be leery of using that repugnance as evidence against gods or against gods having certain natures. That’s no different in principle from the argument I’ve heard from some believers, who claim that there has to be a god because otherwise life would have no meaning. The flaw becomes obvious if one replaces “god” in that sentence with “rock” or “planet” or “Jon Gosselin.”

  • slywilcox

    Dr. Hess is obfuscating Dr. West’s essay. It looked like Dr. Hess either did not read Dr. West’s essay or purposely spun it to meet NCSE’s view of ID. Dr. West is looking strictly at the Darwinian Theory that proposes a blind or undirected evolution which Hess really seems to agree with if he agrees with the International Society for Science and Faith’s (ISSR) statement.As the International Society for Science and Religion put it in a 2008 statement, “Darwinian natural history does preempt certain accounts of creation, leading, for example, to the contemporary creationist and ID controversies. However, in most instances, biology and religion operate at different and non-competing levels.”This is what West’s is creating as the dichotomy. If you hold to a “blind/undirected” view of evolution then you must pull away from an omnipotent creator. If you believe in a omnipotent creator then you must believe that there is some direction in how life has changed over the few billion years of earth history.The ISSR’s statement that biology and religion do not compete on most levels is correct. But, directed or undirected nature of change in lifeforms over time, evolution, is one area where there is competition.The problem for science is that it attempts to explain observations with natural causes. This works well for many things, but where there are not easy natural causes it has no where to turn.Once evolution has direction or the possibility of direction then the three largest monotheistic religions can complement more aspects of today’s evolutionary theory.

  • Carstonio

    “If you hold to a “blind/undirected” view of evolution then you must pull away from an omnipotent creator. If you believe in a omnipotent creator then you must believe that there is some direction in how life has changed over the few billion years of earth history.”Those assumptions are mistaken. It’s possible for an omnipotent creator to exist who chooses not to act in the forces of the universe. Many deists believe in a cosmic-watchmaker creator who fashioned the physical processes of the universe, including evolution and then let those processes proceed undirected.The concept of “direction” is the core of the disagreement. Religion insists on direction for philosophical reasons and not scientific ones, like the believers I mentioned earlier who insist that gods are necessary for life to have meaning. But direction is really a philosophical manging of the scientific concept of cause. If there is a creator causing events to happen, then this would be like any other cause for an event and should be investigated as such.” where there are not easy natural causes (science) has no where to turn…ID attempts to use probability and specified complexity to at least point to some degree of direction to evolution. I believe that ID has a point in this area, but many scientists have philosophical problems with this approach.”No, ID attempts to fill the gap in knowledge with the baseless assumption that order and complexity can only be designed. The “philosophical problem” is really a sensible objection to ID’s scientific and intellectual irresponsibility. “Nowhere to turn” implies that having a gap in knowledge is inherently bad. The responsible approach with such gaps, which is what science follows, is to say “we don’t know.” Direction is really a one-size-fits-all nonexplanation, like finishing a jigsaw puzzle by filling in the missing pieces with putty.

  • ThomasBaum

    PSolusYou wrote, “So, are you doing god’s work, or are you just tickling our ears with false prophesies?”Time will tell.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, “did you see him? i mean actually visually see him with your eyes? or was he invisible? “No. There were no “visuals” in meeting the Three Members of the Trinity.You then wrote, “i have always said that if any “une” of triune god(s) appeared to me, like jesus did to thomas (the doubting one, not you), i’d believe in that god. of course i’d have to consider whether it was a hallucination or something, but if i were convinced it were real, i’d believe.”Would you believe or would you know? Believe and know are two different words and they do not mean the same thing.You then wrote, “why the hell won’t he do that for me?”When you meet God, ask Him.You then wrote, “you said he didn’t say a word, but that you know his plan. how? it’s not from the bible,”Jesus did say that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide us into ALL TRUTH, did He not? As I have mentioned, my meeting of the Trinity happened over 9 years ago, it is not like I have lived in a vacumn since then.By the way, some would be rather surprized at what is in the bible if they had eyes to see.I have also met satan and I did not “see” him either. I firmly “believe” that God allowed satan to do what he did because I needed to “know” that satan is real also but I do not believe that this is the only reason.In case you haven’t noticed, even tho I “know” some things, there is much that I believe rather than know.You then wrote, “as psolus said, according to THAT book he an i are doomed. are there biblical passages i don’t know about that abrogate jesus’ clear warnings?”It is your choice, as I have said, if one were to die and wake up in hell, so to speak, they will come to the realization that they built it themself.Hell may last for eternity but it does not last forever. God created time, time does not end.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, “thomas,Seems as if you have answered it in your question, it was not a feeling but a Being.You then wrote, “but not something so complex as “we’ll all meet god in heaven(?) someday.” how did he communicate that?”Maybe you should not try to read more into what I write than what I write, I try to write it as simple as I can. When God the Father came into my heart, I actually said out loud but quietly, “It is all real”, before that I did not know that God was/is Real but I believed it.From God the Father coming into my heart, I realized that God is Real and realized that God is a Being of Pure Love. I met God the Holy Spirit the next day and the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the Catholic Eucharist is Jesus. At this time, considering that I had met the Trinity, I thought it was “over” but it was just beginning.As I have said, it has been over 9 years since meeting the Trinity, I can’t say how God has worked in other “messenger’s lives” but it seems to me that lots of people sure do have a “stereotypical” view.Jesus said, “I will send the Holy Spirit to …”, I have found in my life that the Holy Spirit speaks to me thru other people and many times it is unbeknowst to them and for that matter it does not matter if that person believes in God or not. One needs to “listen” to hear, how many people actually “listen”?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio You wrote, “But the larger issue is the hypothesis that Thomas offers for the cause of the experience.”What would you say is the “hypothesis” that I offered?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    CarstonioYou wrote, “Walter, your point is essentially the same as Mark Twain’s.”Are you speaking of where Mark Twain was reported to have said, “It isn’t the parts of the bible that I understand that bother me but the parts that I do not understand”?Take care be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Carstonio

    “What would you say is the “hypothesis” that I offered?”As I understood it, you explained your experience as an encounter with a god. “Are you speaking of where Mark Twain was reported to have said, “It isn’t the parts of the bible that I understand that bother me but the parts that I do not understand”?”No, I was referring to his quote, “If there is a God, he is a malign thug.” Twain was making assumptions that appeared to have no basis – that the only two options are a single god or no god, and such a god would not just have the power to create and act upon the universe but would actually be doing so.In my experience, too many theists AND atheists argue from Abrahamic precepts, both assuming that the only two options are the Judeo-Christian-Muslim god or no god at all. There’s no reason to give any religion’s claims about the universe any more credibility than any other religion’s, and that includes the atheist claim that there are no gods. I’m not an atheist myself – I see no reason to believe in gods, and I also see no reason to believe there aren’t, but the god-belief side bears the burden of proof because of the extraordinary nature of the claims.

  • ThomasBaum

    CarstonioYou wrote, “”What would you say is the “hypothesis” that I offered?”Yes, I have met the Trinity and I have met satan and I have had a couple of dreams that I know are from God whether God or a representative, I don’t know, but definitely from God.You wrote, “No, I was referring to his quote, “If there is a God, he is a malign thug.” Twain was making assumptions that appeared to have no basis – that the only two options are a single god or no god, and such a god would not just have the power to create and act upon the universe but would actually be doing so.”Actually, God has been doing a lot as far as “acting upon the universe” considering that He became One of us but since God gave us “free will”, God cannot force Himself on us, this being a Self-Imposed limitation.You wrote, “In my experience, too many theists AND atheists argue from Abrahamic precepts,”I just state what has happened to me personally but it doesn’t matter if anyone believes that what I said, has happened in my life or not, my “job” is to speak, not to convince people that I have met God.You wrote, “but the god-belief side bears the burden of proof because of the extraordinary nature of the claims.”I can not and will not give “proof” but God, in His Time, Will.If there was “proof” than there could not be “belief”, I believed before I knew.I still have “beliefs” in some things that I do not know but I do know that God Is.You say “because of the extraordinary nature of the claims”, what an understatement, at least in my case.To say that I was “surprised”, “shocked”, “stunned” is very inadequate wording.God Is Love, three words beyond human comprehension.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • brenda6

    Why does Peter Hess, PhD, find conditions favorable for “evolving” John West into a doctoral student of his? I doubt if I will make any kind of impression on this person who so obviously prefers public laudation to quest. A D- because West doesn’t find his role to be one of linking science and religion favorably so “a better life can be had by all.” I thought West should have been addressed as one who inspired science. No mention of Ken Miller, no Francis Collins, no “media coverage” attempts at communication in reply. All become lame UNTIL “experiments with bacteria” takes control and all the population can marvel with the experimenters that the sequences are unstable and mind has to be applied: intelligence reigns where matter is finicky. But Hess’s linking to organizations, society, and public perception. . . . . Wow that needs to be thought of as brilliant. I did have some thoughts reading the comments. Mainly that 6 days of creation falls short in another way. Theosophy provides us with an evolving kingdom in this manner: 1st elemental essence, 2nd elemental essence, 3rd elemental essence, (or thought, emotion, and etheric form), mineral, plant, animal, and finally: the seventh: human. If those 6 (or 7) days are to refer to the order of evolving kingdoms, then why is God resting when it should be the day for the creation of man? Unless. . . . With a theosophical view, we have an entire round of 7 globes where life exists in a fiery state, then 7 in an airy state, 7 in watery, and 7 in earthy where we are now. 1st day, we have two from the one or day and night, light and dark, 2nd day of firmament creation, (but the whole time there is recognition of water and “Is it due to the third and last round being a watery condition?”), 3rd seeds are planted on DRY land (creation 4th round 4th globe), 4th lights in the firmament (sounds like fire again)(Well seeds had that spark in them), with 5th we encounter creatures in the water and fowl in the air, 6th creatures on land-a special group, and 7th rest. It’s puzzling, but it’s orderly. Why not consider man from clay as being creation during an earth-based round?

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio, you cautioned,i agree. that’s almost my point. we should not assume god is good or benevolent. we’d like that to be the case. many gods we’ve created are good and benevolent. but we really have no proof that’s the case. in fact, given all the suffering and so on, it’s not really reasonable to believe in an all-good and all-powerful god.i do not think the jealous, hypocritical, self-centered, vengeant god of abraham is “ruled out” as being true because it portrays “bad parts” of god. i would say the “god is all good” claims made in the bible are false.makes me wonder if god is sexist? i mean he clearly “favors” men in judeochrislamic scripture. of course i wouldn’t really say god is sexist, but that the MEN who wrote the bible thousands of years ago were.(i would say the false scientific and historical claims in the bible are pretty good evidence the book is false.)yeah, that’s a great mark twain quote about god’s bad side.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thomasbaum, you asked,i believe you have that exactly backwards. he said something like “it’s not the parts of the bible i don’t undertand that bother me, it’s the parts i DO understand.”

  • Carstonio

    Walter, good reply.”we’d like that to be the case.”I wouldn’t assume that everyone would like gods to be good or benevolent. Those terms are somewhat subjective – there are a few extreme believers who still see AIDS as a good and benevolent god punishing sexual sin. But my larger point is that what we like or don’t like shouldn’t even be part of this discussion. People continue to fight natural selection because they want to believe that humans are special. I stress that natural selection takes no position on whether humans are special – that’s merely a value judgment, an emotional interpretation that has nothing to do with natural selection itself.”given all the suffering and so on, it’s not really reasonable to believe in an all-good and all-powerful god.”While that’s a good point, it misses the larger issue, which is the concept of belief itself. I’m defining “belief” for this discussion as certainty regarding some aspect of the universe despite the lack of evidence, or even in the face of contrary evidence. I’m arguing for treating the question of gods in a scientific manner like any other question about the universe.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, “thomasbaum, you asked,Well, I suppose I stand corrected, I knew he said something.But who is to say that he understood it?And as far as the “parts” that he didn’t understand, there could very well be “more” there to be seen if given the “eyes” to see.One of the things that Jesus said was, “Come follow Me”, it was not, ‘come follow the bible’.There are many that ‘follow the bible’ or at least their interpretation thereof, but that it not the invitation that Jesus extended.Jesus also said that He would “send the Holy Spirit to guide… “, He did not say, ‘use the “bible” as your guide’.I am not “discounting” the bible, so to speak, but what I am trying to say is that many people “use the bible” to justify what, I would say, is unjustifiable actions.Since we are all unique individuals even tho I believe that others not only may help us on our journey but do help us, yet no human being can tell another exactly how to live their journey.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thomas, you said,i’ve certainly heard this and believers have accused me of “not being receptive” to the “truths” of whatever in the bible or maybe having a “hardened heart” and so on.i suppose that’s true in that i don’t believe miracles happen. i don’t believe jesus turned water to wine or fed 5000 etc… i don’t believe anything magic happens to your (imaginary) soul when you die.if you take all that away from jesus you’re left with “truths” like “do unto others” and “judge not” – which are truths you can find in almost any religion.”see” ya.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio, you said,absolutely. i think most (all?) religion is created according to what we want to be true – most crucially, a soul and afterlife.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio, you said,the problem, for theists, is that every such inquiry has come up empty.

  • brenda6

    Treating the subject of Gods:While some may find life on earth to be suffering, I ask what demands are being made on us? If we can find ourselves alone on earth, we may be unaware of the ticking of the clock that takes us down one side of the face into matter and through animal existence until our bodies are ready for us to occupy and then the animals are gone from the earth.The clock ticking may show that we are now progressing up the other side of the clock and that to accomplish the task in front of us, we need to become aware of a higher kingdom that is “descending” into us for the purpose of “ascending” us. By their presence, we either elect to know them and make the best use of them or deny them existence. If conditions require that we purify our lives in order to make them more comfortable on their descent, then it helps to know at what cost our relief from suffering is had. And it helps to consider the pain and indignity that the girasas must feel in comparison to our elation and higher ability (what feels to be our higher ability is really them acting in us.)

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    brenda6,

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch You wrote, “i’ve certainly heard this and believers have accused me of “not being receptive” to the “truths” of whatever in the bible or maybe having a “hardened heart” and so on.”There definitely seem to be some “believers” that have “hardened hearts” considering that if God was even remotely like what some think, who, with even a drop of decency flowing in their veins, would want to have anything to to with Him?You also wrote, “i don’t believe anything magic happens to your (imaginary) soul when you die.”I don’t either, it is not magic, but I also don’t think that we are just a body and brain.Do you think that there is a reason, beyond figuring out the physicality of the universe, that we have reason?You also wrote, “if you take all that away from jesus you’re left with “truths” like “do unto others” and “judge not” – which are truths you can find in almost any religion.”Jesus said a lot more than just that, if you remember He was accused of “blasphemy” and also that He was considered “crazy” for some of the things that He alluded to, wasn’t He?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch Carstonio, you said,I, personally, do not see this as a “problem” at all, it may just point to the fact that science will not prove one way or the other the “existence” of God.This is outside the province of science, is it not?As I have said before, God looks at the person, if a person has “beliefs”, what does that person do with those “beliefs”?Whether or not a person has “beliefs”, God looks at the person, as I have also said before: It is important what one does and why one does it and what one knows.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Carstonio

    “if God was even remotely like what some think, who, with even a drop of decency flowing in their veins, would want to have anything to to with Him?”Why would we even have a choice in the matter? That almost sounds like we can choose whether or not gods exist and what they would be like, as if theology was a Sims game.”I also don’t think that we are just a body and brain.”While that’s possible, we have no evidence or indications that there is anything more, so any ideas about anything more amount to speculation.”Do you think that there is a reason, beyond figuring out the physicality of the universe, that we have reason?”That sounds like the creationist argument applied to the human intellect, the assumption that the human capability of reasoning is so unique or fantastic that it could only have been consciously created. We have no evidence that any events in the universe that happen without human involvement happen for “a reason.” That idea is really a corruption of the scientific concept of causality. A hypothesis for the cause of any event should be open to scientific investigation, whether the hypothesis involves gods or humans or animals or natural forces. Hypothesizing “a reason” that has no definition accomplishes nothing in explaining the event.

  • Carstonio

    ” it may just point to the fact that science will not prove one way or the other the ‘existence’ of God…This is outside the province of science, is it not?”That merely stands the issue on its head. The concept of “outside the province of science” exists because people choose to define gods as being undetectable with the senses. While that’s probably not a deliberate attempt to evade scientific scrutiny, the effect is the same. There’s no reason to start with the assumption that gods would be beyond sensory detection. Any postulated object or phenomenon is within the province of science, and that includes postulations about gods. Obviously there may be objects that are forever beyond human detection – my point is that any ideas about such objects are merely speculation.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thomas, you said,no. humans have always been trying to figure out soemthing that makes us “unique” in the animal kindgom. it used to be “sentience” or “reason” or “tool-making” or “emotion” or “language” or “societies”.we’ve learned all animals have these to a greater or lesser degree. what makes mammals and especially humans special is the EXTENT to which we do these things. we’ve even learned to write things down to preserve them over time. this is all a function of our grotesquely large brain.that’s why we’re special. there’s no need posit a soul is “in charge” of this awesome brain we’ve evolved. the mind/body duality is false. consciousness and all that comes with it (god, science, love, art, computers, etc…) is because of our great brains.

  • ThomasBaum

    walter-in-fallschurch I wrote, “”Do you think that there is a reason, beyond figuring out the physicality of the universe, that we have reason?”You replied, “no.”Seems, whether anyone likes it or not, that there are many that give thought to things other that “how” things in existence work or may have come together.I have no idea how other “animals” think or use their brains and for that matter I don’t know how other human beings use their’s.I would say that this is another function of our “free will” and that is how we use our “brains” and our “body”.You wrote, ” the mind/body duality is false”.Does that also mean that the “hand/foot” duality is false? The brain is part of the body.Have you ever read/heard of people that have had experiences that would be referred to as “out of body” experiences? There have been many scientific studies done.There seem to be many that think that the “mind” is not just the “brain” and it’s chemical and electrical and whatever else, physically speaking, that make it “work”.Not only can no one build a “box” to contain God, so to speak, but there are also many things in the “physical” world that will not fit into the “box” of some people’s construction.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio You wrote, “Why would we even have a choice in the matter?”We do have “free will” even tho there are both “believers” and “non-believers” that seem to disagree with this.You also wrote, “While that’s possible, we have no evidence or indications that there is anything more, so any ideas about anything more amount to speculation.”I guess with some people it could be “speculation” but as I have said, I have met God and I have also met satan so it is not “speculation” on my part.You also wrote, “That sounds like the creationist argument applied to the human intellect,”It is a simple question, sometimes as simple as the difference between asking why instead of how.Then you wrote, ” We have no evidence that any events in the universe that happen without human involvement happen for “a reason.” “I am no scientist but it seems as if there are some in science that say if “this” happened just a little bit differently than “that” could not have happened.I suppose that some could think that it is just a “fluke” that “life” happened and will one day just cease.Not just “life” but that matter always was and somehow fell together in just the right way.While there are others that may “think”, this is quite awesome, the more that they check out things on both the micro and macro levels.You then wrote, “That idea is really a corruption of the scientific concept of causality”I do not know what the “scientific concept of causality” is, the interconnectiveness of absolutely everything both “organic” and “non-organic” to me is something that is quite extraordinaryYou also wrote, “Hypothesizing “a reason” that has no definition accomplishes nothing in explaining the event.”To allow one’s mind to be “chained” to only one way of thinking can be rather “wingless”.I suppose that your “a reason” refers to God, I did not “hypothesize” God but I did believe in God and God rewarded my belief with letting me know that God Is.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    CarstonioI wrote, “” it may just point to the fact that science will not prove one way or the other the ‘existence’ of God…This is outside the province of science, is it not?”You replied, “That merely stands the issue on its head. The concept of “outside the province of science” exists because people choose to define gods as being undetectable with the senses. While that’s probably not a deliberate attempt to evade scientific scrutiny, the effect is the same. There’s no reason to start with the assumption that gods would be beyond sensory detection. Any postulated object or phenomenon is within the province of science, and that includes postulations about gods. Obviously there may be objects that are forever beyond human detection – my point is that any ideas about such objects are merely speculation.”If you want to try to prove the existence of God scientifically, go right ahead.I am not a scientist but there do seem to be many reputable scientists that concur that “proof of God” is beyond the realm of science.Don’t worry, one day you will meet God and find out that many that speak of God even some that know His Name, know absolutely nothing else about God.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Carstonio

    Part 1…Thomas,”We do have “free will” even tho there are both “believers” and “non-believers” that seem to disagree with this.”My meaning may not have been clear. I was saying that whatever the reality of the universe, it exists independent of human desires. If gods exist, they wouldn’t automatically be the way someone may want them to be. I’m saying that if gods are malign or indifferent, we could not change that.”I have met God and I have also met satan so it is not “speculation” on my part.”I should stress that I’m really arguing against certainty, and that includes the certainty by atheists that gods do not exist. Still, the burden of proof is on anyone who claims to have had experiences that constitute meeting entities such as gods. Would you provide evidence for your claim?”It is a simple question, sometimes as simple as the difference between asking why instead of how.””Why” assumes an intelligence behind events that don’t have human causes. It corrupts the concept of “how” by assuming that some events absolutely require such an intelligence. We have no basis for starting with either assumption. While we can’t rule out the possibility of that intelligence, we need evidence for it to give the possibility any serious consideration.”I suppose that some could think that it is just a “fluke” that “life” happened and will one day just cease…Not just “life” but that matter always was and somehow fell together in just the right way.”That’s an example of the baseless assumption I was talking about – the idea that life could not have come into being without a guiding intelligence. I’m not arguing for the opposite assumption, I’m saying that we should address the question with no assumption at all.

  • Carstonio

    Part 2…”the interconnectiveness of absolutely everything both “organic” and “non-organic” to me is something that is quite extraordinary”I would deem it to be amazing, but in doing so I’m making a value judgment that comes only from my own mind. We cannot assume that such values are inherent in things. “To allow one’s mind to be “chained” to only one way of thinking can be rather “wingless”.”Making baseless assumptions is not “another way of thinking.” Either there are intelligences at work in events in the universe or there aren’t. If we don’t treat the question scientifically, we end up with “designer” pseudorealities where people believe that things exist or don’t exist based on whatever makes them feel good. We have no evidence that the universe is anything but indifferent to what humans think or feel. We have no evidence that meaning is anything but a creation of the human mind. “there do seem to be many reputable scientists that concur that “proof of God” is beyond the realm of science.”That may be the way that gods are defined by our culture – I suspect they’re starting with the same initial assumptions as many other people. I’m not arguing that the existence or non-existence of gods can be proven scientifically, I’m challenging the assumption that these cannot. What basis is there for claiming that gods are beyond the province of science? Why reject the possibility that there may be gods that could be perceived with the senses?What I’m trying to do is to start out with no assumptions about the question, as if I had just arrived from Mars. (I’m not claiming to be fully successful at this, either.) I’m not an atheist, which is someone who is certain that gods don’t exist. I’m not an agnostic, which is someone who is certain that humans cannot know gods or know anything but “material” phenomena. I challenge the assumption that a “natural/supernatural” divide exists – this appears to be a matter of initial assumptions that appear to have no basis.

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio You wrote, “If gods exist, they wouldn’t automatically be the way someone may want them to be. I’m saying that if gods are malign or indifferent, we could not change that.”I agree with you here but one of the things that I am trying to say is that it sure seems to me that there seem to be many that “project” themselves onto their “conception of God.Then, “I should stress that I’m really arguing against certainty, and that includes the certainty by atheists that gods do not exist.”I would like to point out that before I “met” God, I would never say that I know that God is real but I would say that I believe that God is real and there is a big difference between the two statements even tho some seem to interchange the words.I can understand your point about “certainty” and I admire the fact that you look at it from both perspectives whereas many don’t.I point out that I “met” God because it is an experience of my life.It was quite a while, after “meeting” God and a few hours later “meeting” satan, before I actually told anyone. I really thought that people would like to know that God is nothing like what some “conceive” of Him to be but not only was I naive in this thinking but wrong.Then “Still, the burden of proof is on anyone who claims to have had experiences that constitute meeting entities such as gods. Would you provide evidence for your claim?”I cannot provide any “evidence” but in due time, God’s Time, all will know. God chose me for a specific “job” and I am trying to do it and I am also counting on God to see me thru.There is no way, at least in my opinion, that I could even attempt to do the “job” that God chose me for if I only believed that God is real and did not know for sure that some of the things that have happened to me are from God and that other things that have happened to me, God allowed.Then, “While we can’t rule out the possibility of that intelligence, we need evidence for it to give the possibility any serious consideration.”Sometimes, just giving the “possibility” any “consideration” at all could be enlightening, I am not saying that it will be but this is what I think being “open-minded” is about.Then, “That’s an example of the baseless assumption I was talking about – the idea that life could not have come into being without a guiding intelligence. I’m not arguing for the opposite assumption, I’m saying that we should address the question with no assumption at all.”Sometimes, I need to “assume” something in my thinking to have something to build upon and one of the things that I assume is that besides there not being “life” there also was nothing, materially speaking, for “life” to come from.I will try to get to part 2.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    Carstonio You wrote, “I would deem it to be amazing, but in doing so I’m making a value judgment that comes only from my own mind. We cannot assume that such values are inherent in things.”What is wrong in using your mind to come to conclusions, what is wrong with having a “value judgment”?Then, “Making baseless assumptions is not “another way of thinking.”Being too tied to “structure” can also be rather stifling, don’t you think?Then, “Either there are intelligences at work in events in the universe or there aren’t.”Don’t you think that it could be rather “egotistical” to think that if there is an “intelligence” behind the “universe”, so to speak, that we are “smart enough” to figure it out?I will have to leave the rest of the reply until tomorrow, hopefully.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    thomas, you wrote,your “hand/foot duality” is just wordplay. it’s not a valid comparison. like you said the brain is part of the body. i say the “mind” is a product of the brain.you wrote,yes – they are always inconclusive. they are sometimes seemingly credible, as anecdotal evidence (which is scientifically unreliable), but everytime they are scientifically analyzed they become tenuous, iffy, and inconclusive. they either vanish or become explicable in simpler, mundane way.you said,who are the many who “think the mind is not just the brain”? are you thinking of theologians? philosophers? bank tellers? lawyers? are any of the “many” scientists?also, somewhere in the comments you guys talked about “why”. like “why we’re here” and/or if there’s a reason. science and religion answer “why” questions differently. someone once said something like (sorry i can’t be more specific…):ask a scientist why the pot of water boils and he’ll talk about heat transfer and vapor pressure, ask a theologian and he’ll say, “because i wanted some tea.”

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstino,i would like to quibble with that. i think of myself as atheist, but i would not say i am “certain” there’s no god. it’s just i haven’t seen any evidence for him/her/it. the very term “atheist” bothers me in that it makes the default assumption “theist”. we don’t say “a-bigfootist” or “a-astrologist” or “a-ufoist”. the default position, scientifically, is that there is no bigfoot – until there is, until we catch one or find REAL evidence of one.this is actually the gist of what you’re saying to thomas. you’re saying that until there’s evidence for god, the default position should be “no god”. mind you, i share your contention that we should not assume god is outside the realm of scientific inquiry – even though every such inquiry has come up empty.i don’t know latin too well, but maybe one who is “certain” there’s no god might be an “antheist” or antitheist”? this would of course would be a “religious” position in the sense that it must be taken on faith, with a degree of certainty well beyond what the evidence warrants.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Carstonio,i’d like to add that while god could be proved, he/she/it cannot be disproved, just as invisible green* angels pushing on things to cause “gravity” cannot be disproved.(the “greenness” of the invisible gravity angels must be taken on faith.)

  • Carstonio

    Part 1…Thomas,”one of the things that I am trying to say is that it sure seems to me that there seem to be many that “project” themselves onto their “conception of God.”Yes, and that’s part of my point.”Sometimes, just giving the “possibility” any “consideration” at all could be enlightening, I am not saying that it will be but this is what I think being “open-minded” is about.”My point is about the difference between possibility and probability. We cannot rule out the possibility of anything, not even the wildest piece of speculation. But we can at least make an attempt at evaluating the likelihood of such speculations. When it comes to claims of things that are allegedly beyond sensory detection, all such claims are equal regarding their untestability. That plus the lack of evidence means that they don’t merit serious consideration. “Sometimes, I need to “assume” something in my thinking to have something to build upon and one of the things that I assume is that besides there not being “life” there also was nothing, materially speaking, for “life” to come from.”What do you mean by “have something to build upon”? What are you trying to build? The goal here is to determine how life originated, not simply to make an assumption about it. If we don’t have a complete answer, why not simply acknowledge the gap in our knowledge and live it with instead of trying to fill it with assumptions?

  • Carstonio

    Part 2…”What is wrong in using your mind to come to conclusions”A better choice would be hypotheses instead of conclusions, where one can test the hypotheses against evidence. We shouldn’t make conclusions in the absense of evidence, particularly if the offered hypothesis doesn’t allow for even the possibility of testing. “what is wrong with having a “value judgment”?”Nothing, as long as we recognize that the judgments reside in our heads and not in the world outside our heads. We assign those judgments to our mental catalogues of things – they’re not inherent to the things themselves. I’m not saying that the judgments are less important or even more important than the bare facts, I’m simply emphasizing the distinction between the two.”Being too tied to “structure” can also be rather stifling, don’t you think?”Would you explain?”Don’t you think that it could be rather “egotistical” to think that if there is an “intelligence” behind the “universe”, so to speak, that we are “smart enough” to figure it out?”I’m not assuming that we would be smart enough. I’m arguing against the assumption that we aren’t. Claiming that an intelligence exists and then claiming that we cannot understand it sounds like a nonanswer masquerading as an answer, a way to deny a gap in human knowledge.

  • Carstonio

    Walter,Valid points about atheism. I would stay away from your “default position” because it appears to be a claim of knowledge. “this is actually the gist of what you’re saying to thomas. you’re saying that until there’s evidence for god, the default position should be “no “That’s not quite what I’m saying. I see a huge difference between “seeing no reason to believe that gods exist” and “believing that gods don’t exist.” I’m saying that claims of gods or other “supernatural” beings don’t deserve serious consideration because hypotheses about them aren’t testable, repeatable, or falsifiable. (They’re that way because they’re defined that way.) I think of such claims as belonging in a computer’s Recycle Bin, not deleted but out of the way as long as there’s no evidence for them. Part of the problem is that we don’t have a word that means treating gods hypotheses like any other hypotheses. Aside – from an evidentiary standpoint I avoid using the proper name “God” in these discussions, because that falsely implies that the Abrahamic deity is more likely than any other religions’ deities. There’s nothing to indicate that if god-life was possible, that it would amount to a single life form and not multiple life forms.