New York is experiencing a faith revival

The proposed mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero is in the news again. Word is that differences between the … Continued

The proposed mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero is in the news again. Word is that differences between the project’s co-founders led to the diminished role of Imam Abdul Rauf – long the public face of the project. Rauf will no longer be allowed to raise money for or publicly represent the project. New York has gotten a lot of press in recent months over the center controversy, but what’s been hidden amidst all the invective is that New York is exploding with religious fervor.

I know it’s hard for many folks outside the Big Apple – who write off the country’s largest city as hopelessly secularized – to grasp this. But Tony Carnes, president of Values Research Institute in Manhattan and a senior writer for Christianity Today, has had a vision since 1989 to chart religion in New York. What he wanted to do was a census of who worships what in this immense city.

In 2009, he and several research associates started researching Manhattan’s religious sites, going road by road down 5,000 miles of New York City streets. The local papers were offering minimal religion coverage in the five boroughs, which was “a huge gap there considering the amount of activity going on,” he told me. “We’ve gotten these incredible discoveries. Like on West Jamaica Avenue in Queens, there’s Blessed Barbershop, a group of Ecuadoran brothers who started going to church and wanted to stay accountable to each other. They are very successful.” And not far away, he added, there’s a Buddhist barbershop and yet a third barbershop that houses an African church.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” he said.

On July 9, he founded “A Journey Through New York Religions,” a Web magazine that ambitiously catalogs everything done in the name of God in and around New York. The launch came at about the same time that news of the proposed 9/11 mosque and Islamic center broke nationally. Talk about timing.

The site quickly ran several articles on New York’s Muslims. While other media were reporting that New York has 99 mosques, Carnes’ researchers had visited at 178 mosques in person and had interviewed mosque leaders at about 40 of them.

The webzine’s home page posts everything from a video of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to a report on a West African Muslim group. In the last six months it has published 78 articles, 30 videos, 35 maps, 170 briefs about faith-based organizations and 76 feature photos.

“A Journey Through New York Religions” is finishing up a 12-part series on New York’s evangelical churches, which are popping up all over, they report. Central Manhattan alone has 197 evangelical churches, most of them founded since 1988, and 40 percent since 2000.

Islam and evangelical Protestants are the fastest growing groups in the city, he said. He and his team have had no problems gathering this information as everyone from Buddhists to Baptists seemed anxious for coverage.

“After 60 years of extreme secularism, the city is having an unpredicted, widely hailed as unlikely, revival of religious faith,” Carnes said. “Political scientists had predicted that religion would not play any future important role in city politics. Journalists and intellectuals beat the secular drum harder than any street musician. It’s time to change our thinking; it’s time to get a new tune.”

One of the respondents who posted on the site wondered why New York is so blessed. “If this is a case of religiously starved people,” he wrote, “why has nothing like this started happening in Europe?”

Maybe because starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s, New York benefited from a combination of factors: The appointment of a strong Catholic prelate, Cardinal John O’Connor; the migration of evangelicals into the city and the start-ups of several now-prominent evangelical churches; the high birth rates of the city’s Orthodox Jewish population plus a wave of Russian Jewish immigrants.

Evangelicals were growing at 5 percent to 8 percent a year and by the 2005 Greater New York Billy Graham crusade near Shea Stadium (tellingly held in the more devout suburbs than in more liberal Manhattan), it seemed clear that New York no longer deserved to be called godless. And even the secular West Side has been infiltrated by evangelicals, whose works include everything from helping the homeless to affirming the arts.

With traditional media outlets eliminating religion reporters, Carnes’ site may be the new face of religion reporting; an independent nonprofit doing quality journalism on a contract basis for the mainstream media. The site, which has gotten 390,000 page views to date, is modeled after Pro Publica, a public interest journalism site that produced a Pulitzer this year.

“I saw how ProPublica came into being because so many news organizations couldn’t afford to have an investigative journalism unit,” Carnes said. “I wondered if something could be done like that in the religion sector. Religion reporters are being laid off, religion reporting cut down so it seemed like there was a need.”

Does it surprise you that New Yorkers are so religious? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

About

  • eezmamata

    North Korea is an extremely religious state, they worship that ronery guy Kim But Whole or whatever his name is.Worship is a fundamental part of any religion, whether you worship fantasy sky daddies or horribly evil monsters like this guy in North Korea.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    The differential explanations for the growth in the various “faith communities” in New York, along with the special emphasis on Islam and Christianity speak volumes to the political agenda of this article. This is not to mention some of the glaring omissions, among them the Hindu community, the silence on which also speaks loudly to the politics of this peace.A disappointing and entirely predictable column for this blog and for WaPo.Farnaz

  • eezmamata

    It’s always interesting when Christians and other religious busybodies appeal to numbers to help them validate their delusions.Let’s talk about evidence, because that’s what the author is doing here, she’s using some ‘perceived’ increase in the numbers of faithers of various kinds as evidence that faith itself is a valid thing, a virtue, rather than the reason-suppressing, mind-numbing, species-destroying insidious social infection that it really is.Most people believe in a god, or gods. I’ve heard quotes as high as 90% of humanity does this.That means 5 billion humans believe in the wrong gods. This is evidence that people believe in gods that don’t exist.Thousands upon thousand of gods throughout human history, this is further evidence that people make them up.People claim they’ve been ‘touched by jesus’, that their god talks to them, that people are healed by this jesus character … all sorts of claims about this jesus guys, also made by primitive humans about their gods, and other non-jesus believers about their gods.They can’t all be right, can they?No, if you want to use as evidence that people claim your jesusgod talks to them as evidence that it exists, then we have to also include as evidence the greater majority of humanity that your jesusgod does NOT talk to as evidence it doesn’t exist.Really now, this is how evidence works. You should leave the logic and proof and evidence and numbers to people who know what they’re talking about.

  • letitbe

    EEeeeeeeeeee HAaaaaaaaaaaaa!new/N E W – Y O R K – IS – G O N N A – R i S E – A G E E N! NOt The South!

  • Carstonio

    By using terms like “godless” as a synonym for secularism, Duin perpetuates the falsehood that secularism is some variety of atheism or the absence of religion. It’s not – it’s a neutral position among religions.”I know it’s hard for many folks outside the Big Apple – who write off the country’s largest city as hopelessly secularized – to grasp this.”Huh? Whenever I’ve heard anyone talk about New York City in religious terms, they’re usually anti-Semites bashing the city’s sizable Jewish minority. The Carnes quote about “journalists and intellectuals beating the secular drum” is problematic. Those are two of the groups long identified with secular Jews by the religious right, which often uses euphemisms like “cultural elite.” In fact, if many of the evangelicals focusing on NYC are fundamentalists, I would urge the Jews there to be wary, since groups like the Southern Baptist Convention still have an official policy of targeting Jews for conversion. And even if they don’t distinguish between Jews and other non-Christians in their conversion efforts, the groups still reject the concept of a multi-religious society, insisting that society and culture should reflect Christian teachings for no other reason than these are Christian.

  • Counterww

    This article really got the atheist crowd’s mouths foaming.Truth is , people intrinsically seek God because most know He exists. It sticks in the craw of those that can’t open their eyes.

  • Rongoklunk

    What a shame. Religion was slowly dying out in most western countries when Islam suddenly arrived on the scene with the biggest bang of the twenty-first century. And now we’re stuck with it, and all other irrational – supernatural religions are now having a field day.Still, common sense is also on the rise, and there are more nonbelievers now than there ever was before. If we stopped brainwashing our children into belief in a supernatural world of gods and angels and heaven and hell – they would be so grateful to arrive in the adult world without the burden of a screwed-up brain which csn’t tell the real from the imagined.Shame on you America for continuing to dumb down our kids. The future’s looking grim. Someday soon some religious nut will get his hand on The Bomb, and it’ll be curtains for all of us. Religion is totally silly but extremely dangerous.

  • detroitblkmale30

    @rongoklunk: sigh, another anti-religious biased and ignorant ranting. In case you hadnt noticed, the world is on its way to hell in a handbasket even in the most unreligious areas. Some of the most egregious acts of humanity have been conducted by non-religious people as well. Last time I checked, the most pressing fear of the A-bomb or nuclear war comes from North Korea, an opressively anti-religious country. Please spare me the sky is falling because of the religious whining.its not based in reality

  • detroitblkmale30

    rgoklunk: I dont need darwin’s “THEORY” to tell me why I am here I already know. Science will one day tell us why we are here?? How many generations and centuries have passed waiting for science to tell us why we are here? LOL How many more before they tell us? I’m sorry even devout scientist agree, science can never tell us WHY we are here. That is not science’s role. It can shed light on HOW we got here.Not why. My God is real, always has been, Ive heard from him as have millions from the beginning of time. You can choose not to believe that is fine. However, you cannot definitvely say he is mythical. You can only offer your opinion and non-analgous comparisons to other mythical “gods” Not true, I know of many people who became believers as adults, once again an incorrect assumption on your part. It seems you are stringing together loose odds and ends and attempting to turn them into definitive answers using your “common sense”. Well of course they do, why would Muslims raise Jews or Christians raise Hindus, that would be silly. Atheists raise atheists, secularists raise secularists. Its called family and shared values. It does not mean however that God doesnt exist. Your same common sense would tell me, based on that premise that the non-religious are comforted in their non-belief and that that has nothing to do with reality either.

  • stevie7

    “I dont need darwin’s “THEORY” to tell me why I am here I already know.”————-Gravity is a “THEORY” to, but I bet you don’t have any doubts that if you drop something, it won’t fall upwards.And how convenient that you dismiss science while posting from your computer. The same scientific processes that brought about the development of that computer, also teach us about evolution.You have no evidence for God – you have belief and faith. An atheist cannot prove that god does not exist. I also cannot prove that the tooth fairy or the flying spaghetti monster does not exist, but logic and common sense tells me that he/she/it does not. Atheists apply the same logic and common sense – there is absolutely no objective evidence that god exists. The logical, objective conclusion is that there is no god.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Stevie: Wrong gravity is a natural phenonmenon and one of the four fundamental interactions of nature.We can see its actions everyday. Darwinists meanwhile are still searching for that “missing link”. Not dismissing science. My computer is real,evolution is still just an unproven theory. No contradiction in that. You seem to suggest science and faith can exist. Speaking of gravity, and faithful scientists, why dont you refer to Sir Isaac Newton?? The gravity you discuss was so eloquently and scientifically described in his law of gravity. Yet and still, he was a passionate man of faith, hmm go figure. You said it best, you cannot prove that God does not exist. So you have your opinion, which has no bearing on my faith. Santa claus does not exist we can show its not physically possible for a man to fly over the world and into everyhome in one night.No one can show however that it isnt logically possible for God to exist. Your suggestion that logical people can only conclude that God does not exist is also false. Some logical people choose not to believe. Other logical people, scientists included logically conclude even through all of their scientific data, that the only logically conclusion is that we are not here out of our own creation and all of our scientific discoveries cannot arrive at WHY we are here.

  • Carstonio

    “Common sense cant explain why we are here, or for that matter how definitively we got there. Common sense offers no ‘big’ answers for our purpose here. “”Why” doesn’t belong in this context because it implies a deliberately created reason, and we have no basis for assuming the existence of such a reason. The intellectually responsible approach is to ask “How did we get here.” It leaves open the possibility of deliberate creation without blindly assuming it or blindly rejecting it. The lack of a definite answer on how life and the universe came to be is no reason to declare as fact that a creator god was responsible. There’s no point in attaching “why” to the question unless we know for a fact that a sentient agency was responsible, because “why” in that context is about motives.”YOu can have common sense and its limitations. I will utilize common sense AND my faith. no one is asking you to embrace faith, clearly you choose not to. “This isn’t about common sense OR faith. This is about making observations and forming hypothesis that attempt to explain what we observe. Common sense would have held onto the geocentric model of the solar system after the retrograde motion of the planets showed the model to be flawed. One of the two declarations of fact “A god exists” and “Gods do not exist” could be true. But since both are unfalsifiable they don’t deserve any status other than speculation. There’s no point in deeming a purported fact about objects or phenomena to be true or false if the assertion rejects even the possibility of evidence proving it false, and both believers and atheists make such assertions.

  • stevie7

    There will always be a missing link because fossil records are points and not lines. If I have a gap between A and B and I fill that gap in with C, then I now have gaps between A and C and B and C – which is exactly what evolution deniers use when referring to a ‘missing link’. It’s a sound theory.And gravity is most definitely a theory – far and away the least understood of the fundamental forces. Newtonian gravitational theory is clearly incomplete. General relativity goes further, but still falls well short of explaining everything. The holy grail of fundamental physics is a unified theory – one that will match gravity with the other three forces. No one’s even come close. If you actually claim its not a theory, then you don’t understand how science works.

  • Carstonio

    “Atheists apply the same logic and common sense – there is absolutely no objective evidence that god exists. The logical, objective conclusion is that there is no god.”No, one should need positive evidence to form a conclusion either way. Otherwise, that “logical, objective conclusion” rejects even the possibility that one may be mistaken about no gods existing. Without the objective evidence, why not simply deem the existence of gods as unlikely while acknowledging their possibility? By not forming a firm, unalterable conclusion, one avoids the risk of being mistaken.

  • stevie7

    No, one should need positive evidence to form a conclusion either way. Otherwise, that “logical, objective conclusion” rejects even the possibility that one may be mistaken about no gods existing. Without the objective evidence, why not simply deem the existence of gods as unlikely while acknowledging their possibility? By not forming a firm, unalterable conclusion, one avoids the risk of being mistaken.—-But using that logic then we must necessarily leave open the possibility of the flying spaghetti monster, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny, etc. Reaching a conclusion based upon the evidence at hand is different from saying something on the order of “I know for a fact and without question that god does not exist”. One reaches a conclusion about natural phenomenon via the scientific method, but that same method also teaches us that those conclusions are always subject to debate.

  • Carstonio

    “But using that logic then we must necessarily leave open the possibility of the flying spaghetti monster, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny, etc.”In the technical sense, yes, because we have to leave open the possibility of anything. We don’t have the knowledge to say that something is flatly impossible. But we can deem the likelihood of those to be so remote that they’re not worth serious consideration. It’s the difference between placing a file in a computer’s Recycle Bin and deleting the file once it’s in the bin.”Reaching a conclusion based upon the evidence at hand is different from saying something on the order of ‘I know for a fact and without question that god does not exist’.”While I agree, many (not all) atheists do in fact make statements like that. My point is that any statement of fact about the existence of gods, either way, is not a position reached through the scientific method/

  • detroitblkmale30

    Carstonio : why absoulutely belongs in this discussion as it speaks to the ultimate question of existence.The inability to answer why suggests a flaw in the logical approach to all things. Identifying how, but not why is an incomplete. It is akin to explaining where, but not when or vice versa. All of these answers, in the absence of a divine source, must exist then in the logical common sense realm. If so, then what are they? Why are we here? When will science answer this question??? I do agree with your later point, there is no real point in debating this as neither side can offer definitive proof that alters the debate, not yet anyway.

  • stevie7

    I would argue that religion doesn’t to much to answer the ‘why’ either. Was god bored? lonely? And for that matter, why does god exist? To simply say that god made us as an answer to why are we here does no more to fully answer the question than science does – just replace god with the Big Bang.

  • detroitblkmale30

    stevie7: So then no matter what semantics are used, the two are clearly NOT analogous. One is universally accepted by ALL, to be categorized by many as not a theory. The other,waits on the scientific tarmac awaiting an opportunity to take off(be proven.)Granted it is science’s best and most likely explanation, it is not taken as fact. On the other hand people dont walk around saying the “theory of gravity.” There is no missing link in gravity. All things can be better understood, but we arent awaiting a major discovery to say, ah yes, gravity actually does exist.to suggest these two are similar implies a lack of understanding of science.

  • stevie7

    If you doubt evolution as good science, then you don’t know much about science. It is fully and completely accepted by the scientific community and, according to your definition of gravity, is proven.And SCIENTISTS do talk about the theory of gravity, because there are many holes in it. It’s one of the main focuses of theoretical physics. There are tons that we don’t know about gravity! General relativity is probably the prevailing theory, but falls far short in completely explaining gravity. Newtonian gravity might govern what you can see, but we’ve known for decades that it’s highly flawed.

  • detroitblkmale30

    I would argue that religion doesn’t to much to answer the ‘why’ either. Was god bored? lonely? And for that matter, why does god exist? To simply say that god made us as an answer to why are we here does no more to fully answer the question than science does – just replace god with the Big Bang.

  • Carstonio

    Detroit, what exactly do you believe to be “the ultimate question of existence”? Why do you see “identifying how without why” incomplete? When one drags “why” into the discussion, one is essentially claiming to know for a fact that everything has a *designated* purpose, as if we were all characters in The Sims. While that could be true, starting out with that set of assumptions imposes an unnecessary limitation on the answers one might consider.The argument you offer seems to be a restatement of “There has to be a god, otherwise life would have no meaning.” That leads to rhetorical questions such as why would life have to have meaning, or what if a god exists but life still lacks meaning.

  • detroitblkmale30

    stevie7: Actually no I dont doubt evolution as good science at all. I think it is science’s number one draft pick as to why we are here. MOST, not all scientists accept it has true, however that mere fact alones means it is NOT universally accepted even in the scientific community as gravity is.Once again not analagous.I already said we dont know all there is to know even about gravity, but NO ONE questions gravity’s existence or operation so to speak

  • Carstonio

    Also, the use of “random” and “accident” to describe the alternative to a creative process are loaded straw-man terms. They carry the assumption that order is impossible without agency, and “random” amounts to a synonym for “uncaused.”

  • stevie7

    “which hmm strangely we cant seem find anywhere else. “—————-We’re finding new planets all of the time. The technology is still in its infancy.It’s typically narcissistic of the religious to assume we’re the only life forms in the universe. Even the Catholic Church leaves open that possibility. If there isn’t any other life and if there is a god, then it seems like an awful waste of space. And why can’t we just be an accident? I see no reason why we’re not just the natural result of some long-ago physical process. It’s also a perfectly good reason for answering why we are here.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Carstonio: Not really, does anyone beleive the gases and factors that supposedly brought about the Big Bang acted with intentionality? That is what I mean by random and accidental. In that theory the right cominations of atmospheric events occurred to bring about the development of the universe. I might not be the best in the field of science, but not even Darwin himself would assign intelligence or intentionality to gases and atmospheric pressures. Primordial soup maybe but not in the role of the Big Bang.

  • stevie7

    There are plenty of scientists that question gravity’s operation. It’s the underpinning for a lot of string theory research. Einstein constantly grappled with the mechanism of gravity.

  • detroitblkmale30

    We’re finding new planets all of the time. The technology is still in its infancy.

  • detroitblkmale30

    There are plenty of scientists that question gravity’s operation. It’s the underpinning for a lot of string theory research. Einstein constantly grappled with the mechanism of gravity

  • stevie7

    There is no evidence of god or gods. There is evidence of other planets. There’s even a probability model that exists to suggest life elsewhere in the universe – the Drake equation.By your thinking, it is perfectly logical to believe in anything for which there is no evidence. Do you, then, also think it is logical to believe in the tooth fairy? Or the flying spaghetti monster?

  • detroitblkmale30

    stevie7: you can design a probability model for anything. There is no evidence to suggest life on other planets. I’m not using my logic, I am using yours.Besides, you conveniently missed the point, if one can in the face of a lack of evidence, logically conclude that life exists on other planets mainly because we exist, then it is quite logical to assume that God can exist since many believe we are created in his image.Never heard of a flying spaghetti monster, but the point is so many confuse possible, probable and logical. It is possible life exists on other planets, it isnt however logical in the absence of evidence. By the same token, it is possible that God exists, even though it is not logical. Nor should it be, thats why we deem God and extraterrestials to be supernatural, they supercede our understanding of the natural universe. Is it logical that the tooth fairy exists no.

  • stevie7

    Life arose on this planet because conditions (for life as we know it) were optimal. We can study these processes in laboratories. We can define them with mathematical models. We can say, therefore, that, given the right conditions, the process could repeat itself. There may not be DIRECT evidence of life elsewhere in the universe, but there is PLENTY of evidence that it is wholly possible. Just because ET hasn’t called us, doesn’t mean its illogical to propose that ET exists.There is zero evidence to suggest, directly or otherwise, that some supreme being exists.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Carstonio : I never said there has to be a WHY. I said these scientific theories are limited in their abilities to answer WHY. I do believe there is a purpose to our existence, and we are not here by accident.But from a logical perspective I also would wonder how a field of inquiry and study such as science, could not be concerned with a question such as why, whether that final answer concludes with purpose or randomness.

  • detroitblkmale30

    stevie7: That is the THEORY once again. That has not been PROVEN.So scientists are proposing such a evolution, could in theory have ocurred somewhere else. There really is no difference when you boil it all down. There is no definitive identification of how EXACTLY we arrived at life as we know it today. Therefore all science can say is it is possible for life to exist on other planets given what we know. We cannot conclude that God does not exist or that it is impossible for him to exist. Ergo, we can conclude, it is possible for him to exist as it is possible for life to exist on other planets.

  • stevie7

    By your thinking, Einstein was not a scientist and was illogical. In fact, by that thinking, all theoreticians are illogical. Relativity wasn’t proven until well after Einstein came up with the theory. And again, gravity has not been “proven”. Newtonian gravity is lacking. So is relativistic gravity. Science does not uncover “Truth” – it gives us a better understanding of the universe. Proofs are left to the mathematicians.

  • detroitblkmale30

    stevie: Well disagree with you on Einstein etc. Ok well in that case why are we even having this discussion? I believe in truth, which is what my faith teaches me. Life is too short and eternity is too precious to waste it on figuring out theories that may or may not be true 1,000 years from now. Gravity has been demonstrated (read proven) well enough so that we can see it in action on a daily basis, evolution, not so much.

  • stevie7

    “Life is too short and eternity is too precious to waste it on figuring out theories that may or may not be true 1,000 years from now. “I’m guessing you’re missing the irony of that statement while posting from your computer. A computer which would not be at all possible without basic, fundamental science theory that you wouldn’t “waste” your time on.

  • detroitblkmale30

    gimpi:My main point regardless of whether its theory or natural phenonemon or proven or demonstration all scientific nomenclature which the average person is not necessarily familiar with is simple. Gravity is universally accepted in science and the non-scientific world. Evolution, is clearly not. Therefore they are not an analagous comparison. With insects some of those insects already had the ability to withstand a strain of the insecticide and simply passed it on to the next generation of insects. They didnt evolve. They survived. Where are the new species? Your virus analogies can be more accurately referred to as lateral mutations rather than vertical evolutions and advancements and they highlight an ability to withstand chemicals etc not evolve into a higher or different life form. Fossils are assumed? Thats not a very scientific procedure.How about scientists who claim such a “slam dunk” of a theory get their ducks in a row before so definitively saying that everything was created in said manner.Afterall if we going to assume then we can assume there is a God.You shouldnt be perplexed. You are arguing a scientific approach to faith. However faith by definition is the belief in the unseen, so that approach to faith is not the proper one to take.I dont believe there is a need for the more scientific or logical among us not to be people of faith. Afterall Newton and Einstein were extremely religious and acknowledged existence of God, respectively.As to your question. Belief is a personal experience a journey for me a relationship. Its supernatural. Its not in contrary to evidence as there is not evidence against the existence of God, there simply isnt evidence to confirm his existence.So one can choose to say well, I see no logical reason for a god and therefore I choose not to believe in something I cant see or touch or feel. Or one can say even though I cant see of feel anything tangible,I choose to believe either through personal experience, or through an overarching belief that God did create all of this. As popularly stated something can’t come from nothing, it has to come from something and somewhere. Perhaps Newton’s quote below sums it up best. I post it not as an affront to atheists I respect their right not to believe, but simply as an example as how one so scientific can arrive at a conclusion so seemingly illogical. It really is logical in the biggest and origin of it all concept, its the only other possible explanation of where the gases etc came from prior to the Big Bang.The quote in context: “Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance. The motions of the planets require a Divine arm to impress them.” Sir Isaac Newton, Inventor, Scientist and teacher Isaac Newton, John Hudson Tiner, page 21 Mott Media, 1975

  • Carstonio

    “I never said there has to be a WHY. I said these scientific theories are limited in their abilities to answer WHY.”How so? That sounds like science should be required to treat as certain the existence of deliberately created purpose, or at least to treat it as likely.”I do believe there is a purpose to our existence, and we are not here by accident.”What is your basis for making that claim of fact, and why should anyone else treat that claim as factual?”whether that final answer concludes with purpose or randomness”Again, “accident” and “randomness” are misleading because they wrongly impose emotional value onto events that aren’t deliberately caused. We have no basis for saying that events are “random.” If that were true, one object could strike another 10 times the exact same way and 10 times the other object would go flying in a different direction. We should avoid the binarist trap of assuming that without agency there can be only chaos.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Rongoklunk:

  • detroitblkmale30

    eezmamata: your point might be true if this was a scientific study where mere contact is proof of existence. However in the real world of free will and choice, religion contrary to popular belief is not a numbers game. One can not use numbers to prove one’s God exists or does not exist. Numbers really are only helpful to show global influence and to indicate that one’s religion isnt a tiny small cult. Your premise that because millions of people may not believe in a religion, that God does not exist is primitive at best. Religion or faith as its name implies is indeed a personal experience and choice. Millions of atheists, secularists and nonbelievers choose not to believe and therefore have not opened themselves to receive that “touch”. That however doesnt mean it doesnt exist. If I lived in a remote village in the Amazon and someone came and told me of the internet and computers but I never put myself in a place to get tapped into the flow of information technology, would that mean that it didn’t exist? No it would simply mean i chose not to believe it or choose not to put myself in a position to take advantage of it. So no, thats not how evidence works as you so claim. Evidence is proof, not a poll with the largest majority offering definitive proof.And since there is actual non-biblical evidence that Jesus did walk this earth as a human(not saying proves his divinity) being and teacher, and no evidence of his corpse; I my friend will go with Jesus. No other deity can say that, so no to you and ronklunk, he is not in the same boat as Zeus and all the other nonexistent Gods.

  • Rongoklunk

    detroitblkmale30;Common sense – and of course the scientific method (which is just common sense in its ultimate practice) will one day tell us how come we are here. In fact through Darwin, Dawkins and Hawking – we are close to understanding it already. We evolved over eons of time, as did everything else in our world, which is more than 4.6 billion years old.Later civilizations like the Greeks and Romans had dozens of gods from Zeus to Apollo, all now known to be mythical, but believed at the time to be actual and real.In India they invented hundreds of Gods from Vishnu, Hanuman and Rama. Again all mythical. Gods it seems are mythical by definition.Your god is just as much a myth as all the others. He’s never been seen or heard from, because he isn’t real – just an idea, a pipe-dream, a hope, a desire. It seems that only by being raised to believe in a god – do people believe. Unless you indoctrinate them as children – they will rarely become believers. Which is why Mormons raise liitle Mormons, Muslims raise little Muslims, Catholics raise little Catholics, Evangelicals raise little Evangelicals, Vishnu believers raise little Vishnu believers, Anglicans raise little Anglicans. Jains raise little Jains, Sikhs raise little Sikhs, and so on. The religion is handed down the ages from one generation to the next. Common sense tells me gods are made up by people who are comforted by such a belief, and passed on down the ages, and has nothing to do with reality.

  • Carstonio

    “randomness implies a lack of predictability.”But the behavior of objects in our universe does have predictability. In fact, one can argue that it’s more difficult to predict the behavior of a human than the behavior of, say, a falling rock or a combination of chemicals. Intentionality implies a mind at work for events.”I am stating that according to the theory of evolution their is a causal effect on a species or organism’s adaption regarding its survival.”Would you provide a citation? That suggests that the change in conditions mutates DNA to cause a trait to appear, instead of some organisms already having the trait and the changing conditions result in those organisms more easily surviving to reproduce.”I beleive we are here for a purpose. An opinion. Not a statement of fact.”If you’re stating a belief as to what humans should do with their lives, that’s an opinion. If you’re claiming that some entity or entities assigned purpose to humans, that’s a statement of fact.”How differs from why as one speaks to a process and the latter speaks to the reason for the process.”Again, “reason” implies an intelligence that created the process, with the problem being the assumption that such intelligences exist.”Of course money could exist even if people didnt value it. It simply wouldnt be used, but it would exist, that actually highlights my above point.”You’re talking about currency as objects, not money as a concept. If humans disappeared, dollars and euros and yen would be simply scraps of paper and bits of metal, and any value these would have had would be gone.”Obviously not a statement of fact, as that would require evidence, which is the antithesis of faith.”But gods either exist or they don’t. It’s a question of fact only. While you’re right that the answer is unknown, it’s intellectually irresponsible to answer questions of fact with faith or belief, whether or not the answer can be known. The unknowable quality doesn’t automatically make the question of fact a matter of opinion. One might as well use faith or belief for questions where the answers can be known, such as answering “What is the capital of Florida” by making up a city name.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Carstonio: SOME objects in space etc have predictablity. Others move in random ways. However, I was not describing our universe. I was describing the events that supposedly brought about the Big Bang. Its much easier to predict most human behaviors than it is to predict the flow of deepspace gases or asteroids.”Would you provide a citation? That suggests that the change in conditions mutates DNA to cause a trait to appear, instead of some organisms already having the trait and the changing conditions result in those organisms more easily surviving to reproduce.”No, once again not what I have stated. Let me ask you then. Do you beleive that a horse’s(species) teeth adaption over time to better graze grass as a result of inherent traits is random? Or is there intentionality involved somewhere in the process? The need to better be able to graze afterall did not result in say an ability to fly for example. My point is that even in the theory of evolution there is a causal effect on this adaption. Regardless of how it occurs, the adaption is not random.”If you’re stating a belief as to what humans should do with their lives, that’s an opinion. If you’re claiming that some entity or entities assigned purpose to humans, that’s a statement of fact.”"Again, “reason” implies an intelligence that created the process, with the problem being the assumption that such intelligences exist.”Not so. We are talking about WHY as an area of inquiry in science in all things. We can ask why the ice caps are melting, but not why the universe was formed? What is the cause or reason for their melting differs from the how or manner in which they are melting. A “reason” does not always imply an intelligence that created the process. Also on they why did the galaxies form question. Assume no intelligence.The question why still applies. Even outside of issues or purpose and the like. The question would be why was it formed? If not intelligence, then why? Either there was a reason for its formation or there was not. If there was a reason, it related to a purpose and an order. If there is not reason or purpose, things did not occur out of any kind of design, structure or order but rather a random occurrence of the right kinds of conditions and combinations of chemicals and gasses.

  • detroitblkmale30

    “You’re talking about currency as objects, not money as a concept. If humans disappeared, dollars and euros and yen would be simply scraps of paper and bits of metal, and any value these would have had would be gone.”The inherent or for that matter written value wouldnt change, there simply wouldn’t be anyone to utilize their value. It however isnt analogous to the point I was making because as a statement of faith, one can have a purpose whether he or she identifies it or not. But gods either exist or they don’t. It’s a question of fact only. While you’re right that the answer is unknown, it’s intellectually irresponsible to answer questions of fact with faith or belief, whether or not the answer can be known. The unknowable quality doesn’t automatically make the question of fact a matter of opinion. One might as well use faith or belief for questions where the answers can be known, such as answering “What is the capital of Florida” by making up a city name.Whether God exists is only a question of fact? I beg to differ, it clearly, especially in the absence of facts, is a statement of faith as well. That by its definition is exactly what faith is. The indefinite nature of the question does indeed influence the nature of the question as well as the subject matter of the question. What is actually intellectually irresponsible is to attempt to confuse such a question and its characteristics with unrelated, non-faith-focused, definitively known factual questions like ‘What is the capital of Florida?” That merely is hyperbolic distraction.

  • Carstonio

    Also, the real problem with “accident” is that the word has meaning only in a context where events are deliberately planned. Accidents are not just deviations from plans, but also deviations that have negative consequences. If our existence was not caused by a sentient agency, then the outcome that produced us would be no more an “accident” than any other outcome.

  • Carstonio

    “Do you beleive that a horse’s(species) teeth adaption over time to better graze grass as a result of inherent traits is random? Or is there intentionality involved omewhere in the process?”According to the theory, neither is correct. We have no evidence for the idea that an intelligent entity caused the teeth of the horse species to adapt to grass. “We can ask why the ice caps are melting, but not why the universe was formed…Either there was a reason for its formation or there was not. “Why and reason are the wrong words to use for those because they presuppose an intellegence was involved. A better phrase would be “what is causing the ice caps to melt” or “what caused the universe to form” because they don’t include that presupposition.”If there was a reason, it related to a purpose and an order. If there is not reason or purpose, things did not occur out of any kind of design, structure or order but rather a random occurrence of the right kinds of conditions and combinations of chemicals and gasses.”Again, equating order and structure with design makes the assumption that the former can only be a deliberate creation. “The indefinite nature of the question does indeed influence the nature of the question as well as the subject matter of the question.”That implies that a when a question is indefinite, one is entitled to have any answer that one wishes. No, even an indefinite question of fact has a definite answer. If one asserts that gods exist, or if one asserts that one doesn’t, one could be mistaken and have no way of knowing it. So the prudent course is to not take any position on indefininte questions, whether they involve matters of fact or not.

  • detroitblkmale30

    Carstonio: Not really. Science is designed to arrive at causes and answers to questions about the causes and effects of certain natural phenomenons. Given that it should be quite logical to ascertain whether or not certain proceses occur ar random or with some sense of intentionality. There is no emotional slant to those words. If an organism adapts genetically as evolution suggests to stave off an external biological threat, one can logically assume that was an intentional biological response to the external threat to its existence. It was not random. There is nothing emotionally loaded about pursuing the answer to such questions. We can indeed determine in various instances whether certain natural occurrences are random or the result of intentionality. Actually What is your basis for making that claim of fact, and why should anyone else treat that claim as factual?

  • Carstonio

    “Given that it should be quite logical to ascertain whether or not certain proceses occur ar random or with some sense of intentionality. There is no emotional slant to those words.”Intentionality versus randomness is a false dichotomy, because it assumes that the only alternative to a consciously directed process is an orderless one. Or put another way, it assumes that order requires a mind or intelligence to create it. Randomness is not a lack of intentionality but a lack of order or causation.”If an organism adapts genetically as evolution suggests to stave off an external biological threat, one can logically assume that was an intentional biological response to the external threat to its existence. It was not random.”Are you suggesting that organisms can consciously change their DNA to respond to threats? Or are you suggesting that animals practice some form of conscious artificial selection, which humans already do when they selectively breed plants and animals to favor specific traits? Natural selection is simply conditions favoring certain traits over others. “Science cannot answer the why question. Whether you argue that it shouldn’t have to or not, it still doesnt. So in the universe of issues addressed, that simply isnt one science is designed to answer. “”Why” deserves scientific scrutiny because it’s really a claim of fact, usually a restatement of “how.” The claim that one or more god-beings created humans for specific purposes is a claim of fact. And taking gods out of the equation for a second, even claiming that humans have inherent purposes is a claim of fact, because that postulates that purposes exist like objects or phenomena. The latter is an even more extraordinary than the former, because it assumes that purposes can exist without sentient minds to create them. It would be like claiming that money as a concept can exist if sentient beings that valued money didn’t exist. “I said i believe which denotes an opinion. If I were making a statement of fact, I would have said, It is a fact that we are here for a purpose.”But you’re dealing with a question of fact, which is whether there is inherent purpose assigned to either individual humans or the human race as a whole. Deeming a position on that question as an opinion is like saying, “In my opinion, the capital of Florida is Tallahassee.” The same is true with gods, either they exist or they don’t. “I believe we are here for a purpose” only counts as an opinion if you’re talking about what humans *should* do with their lives – if you’re making a statement of value and not of fact.

  • detroitblkmale30

    carstonio: I dont see it as a false dichotomy at all. “Randomness is not a lack of intentionality but a lack of order or causation.” It indeed is a lack of order, that is precisely what makes it random. Closely connected, therefore, with the concepts of chance, probability, and information entropy, randomness implies a lack of predictability. Randomness is a concept of non-order or non-coherence in a sequence of symbols or steps, such that there is no intelligible pattern or combination.”Are you suggesting that organisms can consciously change their DNA to respond to threats? Or are you suggesting that animals practice some form of conscious artificial selection, which humans already do when they selectively breed plants and animals to favor specific traits? Natural selection is simply conditions favoring certain traits over others. “I think you have the point confused on that issue. My point was that sentence, and only that sentence was an opinion. I beleive we are here for a purpose. An opinion. Not a statement of fact.So clearly an opinion applies to that statement. I am not basing any factual arguments I have put forward on that opinion, rather my opinions are formed and fashioned from facts and or experiences.

  • detroitblkmale30

    “”Why” deserves scientific scrutiny because it’s really a claim of fact, usually a restatement of “how.” The claim that one or more god-beings created humans for specific purposes is a claim of fact. And taking gods out of the equation for a second, even claiming that humans have inherent purposes is a claim of fact, because that postulates that purposes exist like objects or phenomena. The latter is an even more extraordinary than the former, because it assumes that purposes can exist without sentient minds to create them. It would be like claiming that money as a concept can exist if sentient beings that valued money didn’t exist.”

  • Carstonio

    “I did not say there was an intelligence to the changing of the teeth on the horse species, simply that it was not a random occurrence.”But you used the word “intentionality” which implies intelligence or consciousness. And natural selection isn’t a “random” process, partly since a process by definition isn’t “random.”"In the same way that you cannot presuppose intelligence, you cannot eliminate it from the realm of possibility either.”True. My point is that the burden of proof is on the claim that such intelligences exist, because of the extraordinary nature of the claim.”No, when a question is indefinite, it leaves any answer which has not been scientifically eliminated within the realm of possible answers.”I was using “indefinite” to mean “the answer cannot be known,” which has nothing to do with eliminating possible answers. A question of fact has only one correct or defininte answer, even when we cannot know the answer. This is true of the question of whether gods exist. With such questions, we cannot know whether any answer anyone proposes is more than simply speculation. That’s why the prudent course is to avoid deeming any proposed answer to be the correct one.

  • detroitblkmale30

    “But you used the word “intentionality” which implies intelligence or consciousness. And natural selection isn’t a “random” process, partly since a process by definition isn’t “random.”That’s correct. At some level the species is adapting to its surroundings. This is not occuring haphazardly. I am saying that that process is ocurring for a reaason and not by accident. There is a there is a clear purpose for their teeth “Adapting” .At least we now agree the process isnt random. “True. My point is that the burden of proof is on the claim that such intelligences exist, because of the extraordinary nature of the claim.”I don’t see it that way. An intelligent design to the creation of the universe(even if that assumes that the Big Bang was divinely utilized) is no more extraordinary than the suggestion that the universe spontaneously combusted into something,(e.g. a perfectly hospitable planet/universe)from originally nothing.To suggest that superhot masses of gases etc and the “space” in which they occupied prior to the Big Bang created themselves is in itself and extraordinary claim, with no proof.”I was using “indefinite” to mean “the answer cannot be known,” which has nothing to do with eliminating possible answers. A question of fact has only one correct or defininte answer, even when we cannot know the answer. This is true of the question of whether gods exist. With such questions, we cannot know whether any answer anyone proposes is more than simply speculation. That’s why the prudent course is to avoid deeming any proposed answer to be the correct one.”I understand your point, I would see the answer as more undefined, than indefinite. Some scientists and people of faith alike believe that a conclusion on some aspects of the supernatural can one day be answered.They are simply unknown at this point. Which is why I would suggest that such answers cannot be eliminated from contention and can be considered until they are excluded. For example, I do not believe in extraterrestials, I however cannot say they do not exist. If such a spacecraft were to land visibly on Earth tommorrow, which however unlikely, is still possible, existing suppositions would be revised or eliminated. This would also be the case were there some universally witnessed or accepted divine intervention such as the Christian “rapture”. I don’t beleive we can say this or that can never be known, somethings are simply either scientifically or chronologically ahead of us.

  • detroitblkmale30

    According to the theory, neither is correct. We have no evidence for the idea that an intelligent entity caused the teeth of the horse species to adapt to grass. I did not say there was an intelligence to the changing of the teeth on the horse species, simply that it was not a random occurrence.”Why and reason are the wrong words to use for those because they presuppose an intellegence was involved. A better phrase would be “what is causing the ice caps to melt” or “what caused the universe to form” because they don’t include that presupposition.”I dont believe they presuppose the existence of intelligence, they do however include the possibility of intelligence being involved. In the same way that you cannot presuppose intelligence, you cannot eliminate it from the realm of possibility either.”That implies that a when a question is indefinite, one is entitled to have any answer that one wishes. No, even an indefinite question of fact has a definite answer. If one asserts that gods exist, or if one asserts that one doesn’t, one could be mistaken and have no way of knowing it. So the prudent course is to not take any position on indefininte questions, whether they involve matters of fact or not.”

  • Carstonio

    “At some level the species is adapting to its surroundings. This is not occuring haphazardly. I am saying that that process is ocurring for a reaason and not by accident. “That is not how natural selection works. It helps to understand that “species” is largely a human-created classification. In some cases, there is disagreement as to whether two types of animals qualify as two separate species or as two subspecies. There is a great deal of genetic variation in what we dub a species, as anyone would guess by looking at Shaquille O’Neal and Danny DeVito together. There’s nothing “random” or “haphazard” about changing conditions favoring one variation in a species and not another. What you mistakenly call “adapting to its surroundings” is merely the members with one trait surviving and reproducing to pass on that trait, and members without that trait dying off and not reproducing. This process wouldn’t be intentional unless individual organisms have control over their DNA to grow new traits.”no more extraordinary than the suggestion that the universe spontaneously combusted into something,(e.g. a perfectly hospitable planet/universe)from originally nothing.”That’s because the Big Bang Theory does NOT assert “something from nothing.” That’s merely the popular misconception of the theory. Sort of how many people assume that pterodactyls were dinosaurs.”Which is why I would suggest that such answers cannot be eliminated from contention and can be considered until they are excluded.”I wasn’t arguing for dismissing them as possibilities. Unfalsifiable claims either way (gods or no gods) cannot be distinguished from speculation. That doesn’t mean we should deem to be impossible. It does mean we should deem the claims as useless. The example of extraterrestrials doesn’t fit because the theory that life exists on other plants is falsifiable in principle.

  • detroitblkmale30

    That is not how natural selection works. It helps to understand that “species” is largely a human-created classification. In some cases, there is disagreement as to whether two types of animals qualify as two separate species or as two subspecies. There is a great deal of genetic variation in what we dub a species, as anyone would guess by looking at Shaquille O’Neal and Danny DeVito together. There’s nothing “random” or “haphazard” about changing conditions favoring one variation in a species and not another. What you mistakenly call “adapting to its surroundings” is merely the members with one trait surviving and reproducing to pass on that trait, and members without that trait dying off and not reproducing. This process wouldn’t be intentional unless individual organisms have control over their DNA to grow new traits.So you are saying that their adaption is not in reaction to external forces or circumstances? That simply one lives and one diesThat’s because the Big Bang Theory does NOT assert “something from nothing.” That’s merely the popular misconception of the theory. Sort of how many people assume that pterodactyls were dinosaurs.There is no consensus even within those who propose the Big Bang on that issue. So depending on one’s particular “take” on the Big Bang it can easily be shown to be proposing something coming from nothing. Hawking however does suggest the universe always existed. That in an of itself seems odd, considering we know of nothing scientifically to have always have existed. If that is the case, how is it even possible short of some supernatural intervention considering nothing else has “always existed”? You see the problem with these theories is at some point they scientifically begin to contradict others as they try to arrive at a definition of how the universe was created.”It does mean we should deem the claims as useless. The example of extraterrestrials doesn’t fit because the theory that life exists on other plants is falsifiable in principle.”We will simply have to disagree. I do not view the claims as useless.One will be shown to be true eventually. The answer is simply unkown in the present, not permanently unanswerable.

  • Carstonio

    “So you are saying that their adaption is not in reaction to external forces or circumstances? That simply one lives and one dies”In large part, yes. That is the explanation for the warnings against the overuse of antibiotics. “So depending on one’s particular “take” on the Big Bang it can easily be shown to be proposing something coming from nothing. “”Nothing” is really a misinterpretation of the core problem that the Big Bang theory addresses in all its forms – our current understanding of physical laws breaks down at that moment in time. In my experience, the term is used most often to try to discredit any theory that disagrees with a literal reading of Genesis.

  • detroitblkmale30

    “Nothing” is really a misinterpretation of the core problem that the Big Bang theory addresses in all its forms – our current understanding of physical laws breaks down at that moment in time. In my experience, the term is used most often to try to discredit any theory that disagrees with a literal reading of Genesis.Well I dont see a specific explanation for the origin of the universe according to the Big Bang theory. If the answer is simply the results of the “bang” came from somewhere specifically we just aren’t capable of understanding where or what that “somewhere” is, then it sounds a kin to a divine viewpoint in that it is simply a something beyond our comprehension and ability to formulate a rationale for its existence.

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