Carl Sagan Took My Faith — and Gave Me Awe

A research coordinator for the new “Cosmos” recounts his Sagan-inspired journey away from religion.

I was not always an atheist.

I was once a devout and sincere believer in the Christian faith. I am the son and grandson of pastors and missionaries. My family founded one of the country’s largest Bible colleges, Christ for the Nations, from which I earned a theology degree. For years, I contemplated, and began strategizing, a run for national political office under the banner of Christian reform.

I did not begin to question, nor finally abandon, my faith…until I discovered science. And Carl Sagan.

The longer a belief system—any belief system—remains in place, the more likely it is to become an unmovable fixture of that person’s identity. In my experience, most persons of faith who undergo a deconversion experience do so during their middle or high school years. But that is not my story. I did not begin to question, nor finally abandon, my faith until my mid-30s.

That was when I discovered science. And Carl Sagan.

*

Carl Sagan was an astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author who became a household name in the early 1980s when his television series “Cosmos: A Personal Journey” became the most watched program in PBS history. Before his untimely death in 1996, Sagan was the nation’s leading science communicator, a regular guest on both the nightly news and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

But in my childhood home, Carl Sagan was a fundamentalist caricature of science. He was a figure of scorn and mockery, conjured in conversation only when one needed a large and easy target for pillorying evolution.

“Billions and billions of years” was a “Cosmos”-inspired quote my family and friends would mimic in Sagan’s telltale nasal inflection, always earning animated laugher. Not because it was fun to imitate so singular a personality, but because anyone who believed, much less preached, such nonsense deserved nothing more than sarcastic contempt. And so it was for most of my life.

As the product of a mostly terrific private school education, I never had to worry about encountering something like Sagan’s “Cosmos” in my school science classes. A literal reading of the book of Genesis, including a six-day creation, 6,000-year-old Earth, and a historic Noah and Tower of Babel, constituted our learning of cosmic and human origins. Evolution was a dreadful ploy spat up from the pit of hell, with which the world’s scientists were in complete collusion.

His mission was to build up, not tear down.

The closest I came to Sagan was in my mid-20s, when the film Contact, based on Sagan’s only novel, appeared in theaters. The story centered on a mysterious alien signal and the manner in which the globe’s many cultures processed the realization that they were not alone in the vast universe. I, like many people who saw the film, found it awe-inspiring. I can still remember returning home from the theater on a euphoric cloud, opening my Bible, and reading with wonder the majesty of God’s creative prowess.

A year or so later, I decided to read the novel, and while it entertained a certain ambiguity where matters of faith were concerned, the book initiated my first-ever crisis of faith. Contact raised and inspired questions that neither I nor anyone I knew could satisfactorily answer. I resolved that crisis of faith not by reconciling those quandaries, but rather by listening to those who told me that the questions themselves were either wrong to ponder or not even worthy of my time. I decided to ignore the questions, telling myself my faith was as strong as ever.

But the questions festered, continuing to grow and feeding off my neglect, until they were too large to ignore. I could not be intellectually honest and continue to ignore them. They demanded a verdict. And when I finally turned to face them down a decade or so later, I found that all my years in church and all my academic training was not enough to halt their advance.

I did not abandon my faith because I was hurt or angry or disillusioned. I did not abandon my faith because I wanted to rebel, or live a life of sin, or refuse god’s authority. I left because I could no longer believe. I left because I felt there simply was no convincing evidence for my belief. I left because my faith insulted reason one too many times. I left because once I applied the same level of skepticism and incredulity to Christianity that I always had to all other faiths, it likewise imploded. Once I accepted that the Bible’s account of cosmic and human origins could not possibly be true, I began to realize that it was just the first in an interminably long line of things the Bible was wrong about.

Science killed my faith. Not “science,” the perverse parody invented by some Christians—a nefarious, liberal, secular agenda whose sole purpose is to turn people from god—but rather science, an objective, methodological tool that uses reason and evidence to systematical study the world around us, and which is willing, unlike faith, to change direction with the accumulation of that evidence. Science is a humble and humbling exercise. Science is the impossibly dense core of curiosity—always asking, always seeking, always yearning to know more, never satisfied.

My newfound appreciation of science came, in no small part, from the writings of my old nemesis, Carl Sagan. What I discovered in Sagan’s elevated verse—particularly in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark and within the baker’s dozen of the series “Cosmos”—was one of the most transcendent experiences of my life. Here was a man who could stir both body and, if you will allow me a bit of poetic license, soul.

While Sagan’s personal views set him safely in the camp of atheism, he was more comfortable claiming the title of agnostic. He certainly never made it his mission to destroy anyone’s faith. His sights were always set on something far higher. His mission was to build up, not tear down.

As I read, I began to wonder—why had Sagan been so reviled? His manner was so meek, his words so respectful, his position so evenhanded. He was compassionate and affable, even when he quarreled. Certainly, he was nothing like the thought leaders of modern unbelief, such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, who take pride in their public disdain for religion. Sure, Sagan was staking a position against mythology, irrationality and pseudoscience, but he was so, well, kind about it.

Perhaps it was this very gentleness, warmth and humanity that made him so much more menacing than his ideological peers, then and now. He did not attack so much as elevate. He spent only as much time as was necessary dismantling those things that posed a significant threat to rational living, instead focusing most of our attention on the wonders science had revealed.

So it was with my own deconversion process. I had a mentor in the final years of my faith—a name with which everyone reading this is familiar—who never took my spiritual tumult as an opportunity to hack at the foundations of my religion, but who also didn’t turn his back when I came to him with my quandaries. He never attacked or belittled my faith. He merely redirected my gaze to the wonders that can be found within a scientific framework and let everything else take care of it itself. He simply showed me something unspeakably beautiful and inarguably true and then stepped back, trusting in a process he knew would ignite my brain and consume my body. Whether he knew it or not, he was walking in Carl Sagan’s footsteps.

This, for me, is Sagan’s most enduring legacy—this realization that science is the most emotional journey imaginable. Science does not castrate awe or inhibit transcendence—science unleashes it.

Though I am no longer a person of faith, I retain an understanding that there is something vastly and, at times, unfathomably larger than myself. And while this thing does not have intent or agency, so far as the evidence shows, that in no way modifies the wonder and majesty that washes over me when I contemplate it. Having removed a god from the equation, I counter-intuitively possess a greater sense of awe now than I ever felt in faith.

This immersion in something both utilitarian and grandiose was the definitive purpose of Sagan’s work. He does not inform; he immerses. He does not teach; he transports.

Science—that minuscule word saddled with the burden of representing the entirety of the colossal human enterprise of decoding the world around us and how we fit into it—is the greatest endeavor humans have ever undertaken. Routinely taught as a dull set of facts and figures, science is the most sweeping adventure we can know. With it, hairless apes build great cities, do miraculous medicine, see the unseeable, stir the dust of other planets, and peer back into space and time. While faith purports to have all the answers, science thrives on the questions.

Carl Sagan did not invent this wondrous tool, but he was one of its most eloquent advocates. His voice, like a clarion call in a dense miasma of irrationality, can still be heard, clear and true.

Brandon Fibbs
Written by

  • bm

    Ditto most of the above.

    • bm

      Referring to the topic.

  • http://www.samuelmahaffy.com/ Samuel Mahaffy

    Thank you for sharing your journey and deep reflection. For me, faith and awe have become one and the same. It has been a long journey, but I have found a way forward beyond a dichotomy between faith and reason.

  • allinthistogether

    Thanks. Religion is human-created and thus always limited in its understanding. Science is also limited, but to the degree that it strives to accurately reveal the universe, it is always expanding, more awe-inspiring and provides more reason to live with senses wide open. If there is a god that “created” the universe, the unhindered study of the universe is the best way to discover the facts of it.

    • Silas

      Amazing! “… more awe-inspiring and provides more reason to live with senses wide open.”

      So you think that to live withing this “eternal” universe for only 15, 35, 52, 78, 90, 120 years “provides more reason to live” then to have an eternal life or soul? Whether its true or not.

      • Andy

        Obviously, the knowledge that this is your one chance to experience life, rather than just a prelude, gives you more reason to live. To enjoy this life. To experience everything you can and to leave a positive mark on the future. The only reason anyone would waste this opportunity is to believe that there is something else afterwards.

        • Silas

          One does not necessarily exclude the other, my friend. I believe in God. And people who are close to me know that I do all I can to live this life to the fullest. And if you look up my CV, you will note that I have done a lot in my own field and in the community around me and elsewhere. How many Christians have left and are leaving their “mark” in this world?

          • Michael Oakley

            My friend, I don’t meant to offend
            you, but, you are a walking contradiction… we usually call this “sitting
            on the fence.” Science teaches us that it’s okay not to know the answers,
            that it’s the journey of discovery that matters. The only thing we know of for
            certain is this life, and no other. Anyone who believes in an afterlife will
            never be able to truly live… live in the moment… live like every day may be
            your last, and to enjoy it, contribute to it, be a positive influence on it and
            the people we love.

            The concept of any god hold us back. We
            ware it on our sleeves as an excuse to not push ourselves to be better, better
            as a species, better as a society. We need to expand beyond our fears and
            childhood fantasies. A healthy mind can discern the difference between fantasy
            and reality. As adults we know that there is no tooth fairy or Santa Claus, so
            why the disconnect with something as easily recognizable as religion. There is
            no good argument to believing in a god.

            What astounds me is that people choose to
            believe in a god without even taking the time to know what it is they are
            believing in. “God” is Yahweh (pronounced ēī or ee eye) and is
            depicted as one of many gods. He was not mono-deity, rather, defined by his
            cult followers as “The One God,” meaning the most important or the greatest
            in power, or the god who rules other gods… this is no different than every
            other culture predating it… The Egyptians had Ra, the Greeks had Zeus, and
            the Romans had Jupiter. You dismiss each of these gods as foolish and abandon
            them, why? And how does this not apply to your god Yahweh?

            Myself, I was like many, brought up
            Christian (Methodist). As I grew up and started asking the big questions we all
            (should) ask ourselves, “who am I,” “why are we here,”
            “where is my place in the universe,” I read the bible (several times
            cover to cover) trying to answer these questions. And, like many, became
            confused by the meaning of its passages. I turned to three other Christian
            denominations, each with their own translation. It seemed that everyone I spoke
            to had a different understanding and interpretation. Then it dawned on me…
            how is it that a book that is supposed to give clarity to one’s faith be so…
            unclear. It seemed that the more I read the bible the less sense it made. I was
            confused by how a book that is supposed to be a guide to morals could be so…
            immoral; it condones slavery, rape, jealousy, murder, brutality, human
            sacrifice, and intolerance. Women are portrayed as property and people stoned
            to death over accusations with no proof. How is this a good book? And what
            makes this “The Book” over all other religions?

            When I started asking questions to the
            leader in my faith, I was told it was blasphemous to question God, and that I
            needed to pray to God for forgiveness. What kind of crackpot answer is that? So
            it’s wrong to think and ask questions? It was that moment I realized that
            religion is a fraud. It has no ability to stand up to scrutiny or critical
            thinking. So, I turned to the one thing that is built upon asking questions,
            applying scrutiny and using critical thinking… Science. It doesn’t have all
            the answers, but pushes us to discover and challenge what we know, ever
            adapting, ever expanding our understanding of the things around us. It teaches
            tolerance through understanding, making us aware that as different as we are
            from each other, we are all the same, that all life on this planet has the same
            origin. We only need to open our eyes to see how alike we all really are.

            Religion only teaches to segregate, to
            point out differences and perpetuate intolerance to any other way of thinking.
            It is a construct of survival, when people lived in clans and warred against
            other clans. Where raiding and plundering resources was necessary for a clans
            survival. And it is depicted as such in the bible.

            Science is about discovery, pushing past
            boundaries and opening your mind to the universe around you. It requires
            collaboration with others that perpetuates tolerance and comradery. It
            allows us to create technology. It will be technology that saves the human race
            from the next big impact, or some other catastrophic event.

            Religion and Science are incomparable with
            each other and to sit on a fence between them seems counterproductive. If you
            want good morals, apply the Golden Rule, something established hundreds of
            years before there was ever a bible.

            On a closing note, I do not refute the
            existence of a god, it simply lacks any proof (Using a source, such as the
            Bible, as proof of its authenticity is rhetoric, not proof). What I can say for
            certain is that if there is a god(s), it is not anything like what man-made
            religion depicts. And, assuming for a moment that there is one, it would be
            unlikely that they are even aware of our existence, considering the vastness of
            the universe. To even speculate that such a being exists and that they somehow
            consider you important is egotistical and problematic at best.

            There are “Billions and billions” of
            reasons to rely on Science, and less than one for religion.

            —MikeO

          • Silas

            All is good.
            (1) “you are a walking contradiction” . Please let me know where and how.
            (2) “Science teaches us that it’s okay not to know the answers,” So does experience, feelings, observation, history, research, etc.
            (3) “Anyone who believes in an afterlife will never be able to truly live” That’s interesting. Jesus said something about that. The center of Christianity and all that it is about, is Love, and this pushes us to be better people, accomplish more towards the common good, and on and on. Authentic Christians strive to do their best, accomplish more, contribute to the overall well being, trough their actions, work ethics, discoveries and so on. How many theist scientists are there? How many inventions and human progress (in the physical as well as in the philosophical realm) came about through theists?. I really and sincerely don’t get how people can claim what you are claiming. Your beliefs seem to spin from evidence, reality, facts, science. Is your claim scientific? What proofs do you have of that? What evidences do you have that Christians and theists don’t live to their fullest?
            (4) “A healthy mind can discern the difference between fantasy and reality.” Evolution. So we, as a species evolved trillions of years to become delusional? 90% of our species? And still accomplish what we have in a spec of years?So all that we see out there is not reality?
            (5) “As adults we know that there is no tooth fairy or Santa Claus, so why
            the disconnect with something as easily recognizable as religion.” You are mixing things up. I’m not sure at this point that you fully understand what religion really is and what it does to people who really embrace it as their life style. There are religious people and religious people…like there are scientists and scientists, journalists, and journalists…and so forth. Believing in Jesus and God is not the same as believing in tooth fairies or Santa Claus. If I may, you might want to do some reading what Jesus and God mean to some people. Educated and non-educated people.
            (6) “There is no good argument to believing in a god” If you are really interested in finding out, again, I recommend you do some reading about atheists who became theists (the works by John Polkenhorn…a renowned British theoretical and quantum physicist, among many others. Find him in Wikipedia…just to get started). Read also my other comments in this blog. It might help a little.

            I’ll stop here, for now. But I will get back to you soon…so we can continue our good discussion. I’m a monotheist, right. But I’m not 100% sure I know exactly how this God is like. However, before we go on, I always wondered why practically 100% of civilizations have or had some belief in a god or gods. Science can’t explain it, can it? (Philosophy or sociology…or psychology…try. Are they really correct in their assumptions about the human mind and spirit?

            Good talking to you, Michael. I will continue. Very important aspects and questions you make as I read on. Really good. (And please, I don’t claim that I have all the answers or know everything.)

          • Silas

            Why do I, Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in one God (monotheism) and not in the plurality of Gods? The difference is called – Revelation.

            Those other religions are based on nature…what they see in nature and around them. The three religions mentioned above are based on the Old Testament…same story line. This is what the Bible is about – Creation – Conflict – Covenant (a savior).

          • Silas

            The Bible is there to tell a story…good and bad. Aren’t you amazed how coherent it is taking in consideration that it was written by around 50 different authors in a 2000 year life span, and its a book that talks just about everything, from creation, geology, universe, thus a bit of science, to history, genealogy, geography, cultures, travels, human anguish, dilemma and reality, moral principles, poetry, life-style, sound advise ad admonitions, prophecy, salvation, good people, bad people, believers, unbelievers, hope, love, and on and on? How many lives have been influenced positively by this book throughout the centuries? Aren’t you impressed? I am. I realize though that there are tough things to swallow, accept and hard to answer. We need to understand that we live in a Great Universal Controversy. At least, that’s my take on it.

            Interesting Mike. I can’t see myself believing in the existence of a god without being created by him or her. Funny.

          • Maxximiliann

            “My doubts about evolution began when I was studying synapses. I was deeply impressed by the amazing complexity of these supposedly simple connections between nerve cells. ‘How,’ I wondered, ‘could synapses and the genetic programs underlying them be products of mere blind chance?’ It really made no sense.

            Then, in the early 1970’s, I attended a lecture by a famous Russian scientist and professor. He stated that living organisms cannot be a result of random mutations and natural selection. Someone in the audience then asked where the answer lay. The professor took a small Russian Bible from his jacket, held it up, and said, “Read the Bible—the creation story in Genesis in particular.”

            Later, in the lobby, I asked the professor if he was serious about the Bible. In essence, he replied: “Simple bacteria can divide about every 20 minutes and have many hundreds of different proteins, each containing 20 types of amino acids arranged in chains that might be several hundred long. For bacteria to evolve by beneficial mutations one at a time would take much, much longer than three or four billion years, the time that many scientists believe life has existed on earth.” The Bible book of Genesis, he felt, made much more sense.

            Every good scientist, regardless of his beliefs, must be as objective as possible. But my faith has changed me. For one thing, instead of being overly self-confident, highly competitive, and unduly proud of my scientific skills, I am now grateful to God for any abilities I may have. Also, instead of unfairly attributing the amazing designs manifest in creation to blind chance, I and not a few other scientists ask ourselves, ‘How did God design this?’” – Professor František Vyskočil – Former Atheist (http://bit. ly/K8lEip)

          • Silas

            Very interesting, professor. Write this to JT Rager also. He constantly gives me the impression that he feels that only atheist scientists know what they are doing.

      • JT Rager

        Absolutely. If I only have a limited amount of time to live, then I have to make the most of it. This is the only shot I get, so I should strive to make this the best life I can make it. If my life is eternal, then it really doesn’t matter what I do now, or tomorrow, or the next day. In the scope of eternity anything anyone does is pointless.

        Of course, the lack of evidence that an eternal life exists should be a wake-up call that you shouldn’t be living like you’ve got an eternity to go.

        • Silas

          I never met a Christian who takes that approach and attitude towards life, never! It never even crossed my mind. I live my life, and think that most Christians do it also, as if today was my last day.

          • JT Rager

            My apologies if I implied that Christians think that way. It’s my opinion that if life is eternal, then it doesn’t matter what you do from day to day. Life is much more precious if you have a limited amount

            However, it’s not really the last day you live for, correct? As a Christian, do you not believe that you’ll go to Heaven after you die for all of eternity? That’s the real life. If you will be there for eternity, then time on Earth becomes insignificantly small, to the point of not mattering. It’s almost as if time on Earth is just a place to wipe your feet on the door before you get to the real life.

          • Silas

            I think I fully understand where you are coming from, JT. Both lives are real to me. However, it is “small” in terms of time, compared to eternity, of course. Both are extremely precious and most Christians, I think , know that life in heaven is not a given. You have to accept Christ as your Savior. (I don’t know about the other religions). If this is the only life we have, where does our moral precepts come from? How about the notion of right and wrong? …evolution?…and why should it matter anyways?

          • JT Rager

            The time on Earth is small compared to Heaven? In terms of scale, it’s practically nothing! It’s infinitesimal. As to your other point I don’t understand how you could possibly go from the starting position of “we only have a finite time to live” to “there’s no morals”. Morals are about increasing well-being and decreasing harm. We want to do this based on actions and their consequences. When we do bad things, bad things happen. When we do good things, good things happen. We have come to realized that everyone is happier when we behave morally. I cannot at the moment see how you can derive morals from heaven, or a god for that manner. If the reason people do good things is to go to heaven, I wouldn’t call that moral at all.

          • Silas

            Good points JT, good points. What I was trying to say is that its very hard for me to believe that moral concepts, and for that matter, right and wrong are evolutionary processes…by chance. It’s easier for me to think that there is something higher then me out there that installed (created) in me moral judgments, although they do differ from culture to culture and civilization to civilization. The connection with time? LOVE! Love one another as you love yourself. Where do we get this notion from? To me it makes sense. (Not trying to convert you :)).

            As you know, this is Christianity’s claim in a nutshell. God is love. He created beings due to love,… to love and to love one another in an open relationship. Men decided otherwise. They sinned and broke apart this relationship. Jesus came to restore this relationship and offer who ever accepts it, and opportunity to all of us to get back to the original plan…life eternal reigned by love.

            So, with this world view in mind, where this world is a war zone between good and evil, I strive to make a difference, loving my neighbor…etc.Thus, it has nothing to do with eternal life…heaven…and the sort. What reason do I have to love my neighbor if I’m here by chance? If it’s evolution, and because it makes sense, …every one will have a better life (somehow we figured that out, right?), why are there so many killings, hatred, egoism, and you name it? Why do we destroy each other? If I’m a natural consequence of nature, why aren’t everybody doing only good? Why are some so determined in destroying others and living in extreme selfishness? Does anyone know how many scams are out there? How about injustice…even among professed Christians?

          • JT Rager

            It’s a common misconception that evolution is run by chance. Certainly a large part of it is run by chance, being the random mutation. But arguably the more important part is the “selection” part of natural selection. The environment selects against things that are not “fit” for the environment. If a herd of herbivores with a variety of fur colors (the chance part) migrate to a new area the ones that survive are the ones that have fur that matches the area (the non-random part). The ones that stick out will be “chosen” as food, since they’re easier pickings. Saying evolution is just due to chance is like pouring a barrel of 20-sided die on the floor and picking up everything that isn’t a 12, and saying they’re only there due to chance. Technically yes, but it was pretty likely that there would be some number of dice that had a 12 on the floor.

            Either way, I can certainly see how evolution leads to morality. Primates like ourselves tend to be social species. Isn’t it fairly easy to think that animals that look out for each other in a group will be more likely to pass on their genes to a new generation? By working in groups they can defend young and each other more easily from predation. By enhancing the well-being of everyone in the group, the group becomes stronger as a whole.

            As for “evil”, I think evolution better explains that too. There is a limit to those we can care about. Look up Dunbar’s number, which is a sort of limit of the number of people we can truly care about. Once you get to know more than about 200 people, your brain simply lacks the capacity to empathize with more. After that, that person on the street is more or less an animate body, and it’s not that hard to kill him and take his money. The people in other countries don’t really “seem” like people, just a concept, so it doesn’t bother us that much to bomb them. We must act rationally and overcome our instincts, and realize once we treat all of these entities called “people” with respect, then our “tribe” can be stronger as a whole (our tribe being all the people on Earth). I know that I care about people, and that all our lives are enhanced when we treat each other with love and respect. What other reason do I need beyond that?

            I am very familiar with the story of Christianity through frequent readings of the Bible, I believed it for about 20 years of my life. Don’t worry about qualifying that you’re trying to convert me, I’m quite enjoying the conversation :) But I find the ideas behind it inconsistent. “God is love” is quite a common phrase, but according to Christianity they are not synonymous, the Christian God is far more than love. He created the universe, and gave us instructions on how he thinks we should behave, and led early Israelite tribes into battle, and sent his son who was also himself down to Earth to die for sins, and he currently oversees all in Heaven, Earth, and Hell. People say he is all-loving and omnipotent, and man’s sin due to free will is what caused evil on earth. But if he was omnipotent he would able to create man with free will and without evil. If he doesn’t do that he cannot omnipotent by definition. I don’t see how a god who is all-loving and all-powerful can get away with allowing suffering in the world.

          • Silas

            How can one defend natural selection if elements of the same tribe are consistently and constantly killing and eliminating each other? These elements are affected by the same variables of the environment, basically (with some regional/geographical differences, of course). Homo sapiens are destroying themselves by destroying their environment. How can this be evolution?…and the other species aren’t rebelling against us in order to avoid their own destruction. How come several species have been extincted from the face of the earth? Shouldn’t they have adapted to deal with the changing environment? I guess they were weaker then…and trough natural selection they completely perished.

            But if its evolution, why didn’t they evolve also…adapted…changed? Didn’t the other species also have to adapt and evolve?…and that’s exactly why they are alive today?

            I could be wrong. But didn’t we evolve from primates? (Apes…Lucy). The only reason to evolve is to survive in an changing environment. (Natural selection) IF this is so, how come we still have apes? Shouldn’t they have died long ago?

            I’ll leave it that for now. But I will discuss the theological aspect you so well mentioned. I defend that ONE of the main reasons people lose their faith in a God or become atheists is because, very comprehensibly they can’t “see how a god who is all-loving and all-powerful can get away with allowing suffering in the world”.

          • JT Rager

            How can one defend natural selection if elements of the same tribe are consistently and constantly killing and eliminating each other? These elements are affected by the same variables of the environment, basically (with some regional/geographical differences, of course). Homo sapiens are destroying themselves by destroying their environment. How can this be evolution?

            We haven’t been selected against, if anything. You have to realize that humans haven’t been around for very long. Civilization is incredibly recent on the biological time scale. Perhaps we will learn to overcome our natural fear-based instincts and develop a moral system to help better the Earth, in which case we are a “fit” species. We may also end up destroying ourselves. In that case, we wouldn’t be the “fittest” species. Either way, neither really has anything to say about Evolution.

            As to the species who have disappeared from the Earth, either they weren’t fit for the environment or they continued their genes into new species. The dinosaurs passed their genes to modern birds, the small rodents of their time passed genes on to modern mammals, etc. There is no “requirement” for species to change. If their genetic changes are such that they fit well into the environment, then they survive long enough to pass on their genes. If a shift in the environment occurs, then a species that is not well adapted to the change may not survive well, and the species may not have enough “beneficial” traits to overshadow the other traits to pass on.

            We evolved from primates, and because of that we are primates. We are also a type of ape. That is how the classification works. Both us and the apes we know today evolved from a common ancestor. The genetics of that ancestor species are similar to both us and the apes, but still different. The genetic information is in both of us. Birds are also technically dinosaurs as well because of how this classification works.

            The only reason to evolve is to survive in an changing environment. (Natural selection) IF this is so, how come we still have apes? Shouldn’t they have died long ago?

            Not necessarily. Say an ape species expanded its territory outside jungle into a savannah as well. In the savannah there is no need to climb trees, and it’s more beneficial to walk in an upright gait. The ones who stand up will survive better in the savannah, while the ones who climb trees stay in the jungle. As you may imagine, the jungle primates’ genes and the savannah primates’ genes would become more and more dissimilar over time until they could no longer breed fertile offspring with each other, which is the definition of different species. Such may have been the case with us and other primates, and I think you can easily see how in that situation, there’s no real reason that either primate group necessarily has to die off.

            I acknowledged that an all-loving and all-powerful god was impossible even when I was a Christian, so I just came to the conclusion that the god in the Bible was either not all-loving or all-powerful, even though everyone else seemed to agree that those were aspects of their god. I figured when I was older and could investigate it better that I would try and see how this god truly worked. It wasn’t until years later that I investigated the Bible, and found that I had no real reason to look at a god in the first place. I should say, though, that I have always loved science and up until that point I believed in evolution and Christianity. Acknowledging science and being religious is quite possible, I know many people who are. I simply now have issues with the latter.

          • Silas

            Thank; you for the clarification. Just to understand better your point.
            So you’re saying that there is no reason why evolution occurs? I thought
            it occurred in order for a species to survive (survival of the
            fittest….natural selection…however, in order to survive). If NOT,
            then we (or a species) can change to aberrations and die. And I’m not
            totally clear (I realize I need to read more…sorry) about the logic of
            all of this. To me (logically speaking), its one or the other.

            That
            is – survival of the fittest (e.g. Dinosaurs (large ones) didn’t
            survive from what ever happened in their environment, but simpler forms
            of life did. It’s not that they couldn’t adapt, because if a species can
            adapt, then “they” would have found ways to continue on. How could
            their genes have passed on to whatever that later became smaller birds
            if they all died? (as far as I know…I could be wrong though).

            I
            don’t know enough to see both happening. It’s either survival of the
            fittest = natural selection, OR evolution = “improved” changes in order
            to survive. However, if you claim that there is no reason for evolution
            (genetically speaking), then we could (every single species) end up all
            dead.

            I think evolution claims that we came from Lucy. An Ape.
            Are you saying that Lucy ended up in a savannah and after going through
            different “phases” here we are and the apes who stayed in the woods
            continue to be the apes we have today? Getting out of the woods seems to
            have been a suicide effort. If the instinct is to survive (how can one
            negate this?), why would a species move out of their environment where
            they strive (even after billions of years) and risk their lives in a
            totally different and inappropriate environment, specially if the
            environment where they lived and thrived did not present any threat to
            them? Its suicide…and not evolution, to me. (I got to be missing
            something here).

            So now we have a third situation here. (I had
            never thought about that). (1) species trying to adapt to survive; (2)
            species continuing on due because they are better fit; (3) species
            having to adapt due to their own choices as they move to a totally
            inhospitable environment.

            This is too long. I hear you loud and
            clear regarding the theological points you bring. I use to have the same
            questions even as a teenager. Exactly the same ones. Its interesting.
            You, my son, and at least 20 cousins went one way. I, and others, chose
            and choose another direction…and became Open Theists.

            I do
            want to talk about that with you soon…trying to shed light (not answer
            completely) on a different possibility and alternative to the conundrum
            (God is love + God is all powerful, then why He allows evil?

            Interesting.
            Someone here (maybe you…I’m not sure) said that they found peace when
            he finally left Christianity all together. I can say the same thing
            when I turned to Open Theism as an alternative.

          • JT Rager

            Ok I’ll go a bit slow here for clarity, bear with me here. Let’s recall that evolution requires two phenomena: random change (mutation) and selection. Mutation will occur regardless of the environment, it is always occurring. It happens even in species today, even in “fit” species. Most mutations are imperceptible changes to us, they are only around a billionth of the entire genetic code.

            It is then the selection portion that is important. The environment selects against genes that are harmful. Some changes are detrimental to the organism, and it doesn’t get to pass on its genes, since it dies before it can reproduce. Everything else gets to live, more or less. It’s important to remember that selection doesn’t pick the best genes, only the ones that are good enough for individuals to pass on its genes.

            Cosmos explains it much better than I (check out last night’s episode if you can). In the show they gave the example of brown bears in a polar environment. Bears with brown fur were very capable of living in icy places (much like our hypothetical apes who were also able to live in the savannah). However, one bear was fortunate enough to have white fur. It was much more likely to live to reproduce than its brown brethren. When competing over a limited food supply and limited territory, you can imagine that the white bear “won out” more often than not, and its children were able to win out too, and over time the white-furred bears increased proportion among the population. In this case it wasn’t so much a change in the environment, the environment stayed the same. One small change simply happened to have an advantage. Your 3rd suggestion as to why evolution happens isn’t really a reason. “Completely inhospitable” as an environment wouldn’t be really useful. However, if our apes were able to live in the savannah “well enough”, then there’s nothing really stopping them from expanding territory.

            Other times there may already be variations in a population, and none of them may hold a distinct advantage at the time. You may know about the peppered moth, which can be white or black, the population contains both. Both may be equally viable in one environment. However, when the industrial evolution in England hit and soot covered the forests, the black ones had better camouflage, while the white ones stuck out like a sore thumb. Predators were more likely to eat the white ones, while the black ones took over. In this example, as opposed to the last one, the environment did change, and it was the variations that were more “fit” to the new environment and more adaptable that won out. Perhaps the small dinosaurs like archaeopteryx had a distinct advantage over the T. Rex when a meteor hit, causing it to pass on its genes to future reptiles that would eventually become the birds we know today.

            So in a nutshell it’s your numbers (1) and (2).

            We don’t have to talk about theology. Whether you want to discuss it or not is fine by me.

          • Silas

            “Most mutations are imperceptible changes to us” JT, I’m not sure that we can actually call these evolutionary processes. I have a strong feeling that this is highly debatable.

            Given your examples, so don’t we still have to decide IF its the survival of the fittest or is it mutations in order to survive? If its survival of the fittest, then why change…mutate…in order to survive? (Maybe its both…I wonder). AND DON’T FORGET MY THIRD POSSIBILITY. Because if evolutionists are going to claim that the mutations are simply random, …that is, without any purpose, then all species can all change…by chance…at random, and declare their death. Why not?

          • JT Rager

            “Most mutations are imperceptible changes to us” JT, I’m not sure that we can actually call these evolutionary processes. I have a strong feeling that this is highly debatable.

            No, they are definitely evolutionary processes. In fact, that’s pretty much the entire point. I think you need to forget your preconceptions of what these changes in the context of evolution really are. It isn’t a fish giving birth to an amphibian so it can walk on land. It isn’t a monkey giving birth to a hairless ape. It’s one wolf giving birth to several slightly different wolves, and the ones who can run slightly faster survive longer than the ones that run slightly slower. The entire species changes over a period of tens of thousands of years, where the difference between one canine and its offspring are practically imperceptible, but the difference of thousands of generations will show you a wolf at the beginning and a dog at the end.

            Given your examples, so don’t we still have to decide IF its the survival of the fittest or is it mutations in order to survive? If its survival of the fittest, then why change…mutate…in order to survive?

            We don’t decide, both occur whether we like it or not. Mutations are always occurring. They happen inside you and me all the time. It’s these mutations that lead to birth defects and cancer. Species don’t decide to mutate because of environmental pressures, it simply happens spontaneously.

            Because if evolutionists are going to claim that the mutations are simply random, …that is, without any purpose, then all species can all change…by chance…at random, and declare their death. Why not?

            Like I said above, all species do change, all the time. They do this in very small amounts (billionths of a code), that accumulate over many, many generations over long periods of time. If one particular animal is born with a harmful mutation, it’s probably not going to live long enough to reproduce, and as such it’s not going to affect the population as a whole. The population from one generation to the next is going to have practically the same genetic information between the two, there is not going to be any radical change to kill off the population. Any radical detrimental change would likely kill off the individual but not the population as a whole, since the mutation only affects one individual.

            As to your third possibility, I suppose it’s possible, but not very likely. You said it was the result of some animals moving to a totally inhospitable environment. By definition of totally inhospitable, those animals are going to die. What I suggested was a species expanding its territory into a slightly different territory. The apes were able to live in both environments. However, each environment will welcome different mutations, and both groups will change over time, until both groups become entirely different species not only from each other, but from the ancestors that they both shared.

          • saneandreasonable

            And that is the crux of it. You want free will and a being that cannot disobey God’s edicts or strong suggestions as to how to live , at the same time. And you think you are logical? Without choice in life we cannot be truly free, and God gives omnipotency up in time(He is outside time , a God construct) so that man may choose God freely. You seem truly lost and are attempting to play a chess game with God’s logic. When you die, then what?

          • JT Rager

            I never said that. I said an omnipotent god could create a universe without suffering while also allowing free will. I never even mentioned disobeying a god’s orders. Your god still seems to have limits, though. If she can’t do something, then she is hardly omniscient, is she?

            To quote Cosmos, “Your god is too small!”

          • Silas

            Need to define omniscient. The one most people and Christians adopt comes from the greek Hellenism. That’s the problem right there. If you define omniscience as knowing everything that there is to be known, a much better and appropriate definition, then we get a completely different perspective about God.

          • JT Rager

            Ugh, sorry. I didn’t really mean to say omniscient there, I meant “omnipotent”. TBH I really don’t care about omniscience near as much as omnipotence, because as far as I can tell omnibenevolence, omnipotence, and the current universe we live in are mutually incompatible.

          • Silas

            I used to have the same questions you pose. However, when I started studying omniscience…the possibility that the future is open to God, my soul rested. You pose the question “But ifhe was ominipotent he would be able to create man with free will and without evil. If he doesn’t do that he cannot be omnipotent by definition. i don’t see how a god who is all-loving and all-powerful can get away with allowing suffering in the world.” .

            The short version of the answer would be, to me, at least, – exactly… because of love. For us, God is a relational being. he created other beings out of love. (Because that’s what he is). Genuine love entails freedom and choice, and spontaneity. Otherwise it isn’t love, is it? You get where I’m heading, right? (and by the way, the concept of “allowing” needs to be explained further….and so does God’s limitations).

            Freedom requires options, right? Moral freedom required moral options. God himself is morally free and he created us in His image with moral freedom. God placed in the garden the tree of knowledge of good and evil, according to the Bible and practically every ancient civilization. (Interesting…the word women in Chinese – its a women, a tree branch and a mouth). Where did they get that from? The bible?

            Most philosophers would say that omnipotence, or perfect power, does not mean ” the power to do anything…” just fill in the blank. Instead, it refers to power to do what is logically possible. is it possible to create beings who are genuinely free, but free only to do good? I would say NO, ans so would many others. Here’s a quotation from a renowned and respectable philosopher Alvin Plantinga:

            “A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right.” (Of course , logically, one would exclude the other). but continuing…”For if he does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so… The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.”

            The answers will never be complete…because it is not scientific. Its philosophical, logical, and spiritual.

          • JT Rager

            The short version of the answer would be, to me, at least, – exactly… because of love. For us, God is a relational being. he created other beings out of love. (Because that’s what he is). Genuine love entails freedom and choice, and spontaneity. Otherwise it isn’t love, is it? You get where I’m heading, right? (and by the way, the concept of “allowing” needs to be explained further….and so does God’s limitations)

            Then explain. Because if you’re just going to redefine “omniscient” such that there are things this god can’t do, then you’ve essentially changed the conversation, and he doesn’t have the same properties he is previously understood to have. It’s an entirely different conversation.

            Freedom requires options, right? Moral freedom required moral options. God himself is morally free and he created us in His image with moral freedom. God placed in the garden the tree of knowledge of good and evil, according to the Bible and practically every ancient civilization.

            No. This is ludicrously incorrect. You need to look up other ancient civilizations before you make claims about the Abrahamic god and book to go with it.

            is it possible to create beings who are genuinely free, but free only to do good?

            I would say that I don’t know, and I don’t think it’s sufficiently justified in your quote. Platinga simply places a value on more free things than others without justification.

            and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so

            Except that he could do so (give creatures freedom) if he wanted without causing suffering in others. Free will is the mental “resolve” or “willingness” or “determination” that one decides to do something, it doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not an entity actually ends up carrying out that action. An omnipotent being who is also all-loving could give free will to a child rapist, and create some sort of force field around the child once the perpetrator tries to touch him. This would not violate either person’s free will, but it would eliminate suffering. An omnipotent god could also give the perpetrator the illusion that he is doing something evil when really he doesn’t do it at all. There are many possibilities that an omnipotent god could perform without violating either person’s free will.

            Furthermore, I, unlike Platinga, place more value in a child not being raped and not suffering than either party being “free”. If you disagree, you should probably look hard at why you think it’s ok for a child to be raped.

            The answers will never be complete…because it is not scientific. Its philosophical, logical, and spiritual.

            What is your justification for that? If this is a god who interacts with the universe, then his effects should be measurable and therefore subject to science. Once you put it in a realm outside of science, then it can apply to things that don’t exist, subject only to the imagination. Philosophy and logic can be useful, but for it to help us out in the real world you have to input things based on the real world.

          • Silas

            What is this, TJ? A dissertation?

            You say: “Then explain. Because if you’re just going to redefine “omniscient” such
            that there are things this god can’t do, then you’ve essentially
            changed the conversation, and he doesn’t have the same properties he is
            previously understood to have. It’s an entirely different conversation” .

            You actually mean omnipresence…of course, and not omniscient. Omnipresence = all powerful; Omniscience = all knowable (?). Omniscience means “to know all that there is to be known”. Do you expect a god to be in a place that doesn’t exist? (Omnipresence). Most people won’t, because it lacks logic, so why charge a god for something that doesn’t exist? Would that make him less omnipresent if he can be everywhere there is to be? Same thing goes for omnipotent and omniscience. So the answer is Yes! A god can’t do stuff that doesn’t exist to be done. For instance. The old quarrel: Is God capable of creating a rock so heavy that he can’t lift? Or so hard that he can’t break? Its a lose lose situation for god. It doesn’t apply to him, it’s not logic. It seems to me that your trying to do the same thing with some of your questions.

            Through a different angle or perspective. When you, me, doctors, scientists, and god decide to paint a room blue, we automatically excluded all other billion colors. YOU NEED TO ANSWER THIS TO ME SO I CAN UNDERSTAND YOU BETTER, IF YOU WILL: Do you expect a god or God to paint a room with every single color since he wanted a blue color? And I’m going to spare both of us here and simply say that this concept applies to practically everything we do in life, and in our case, in relation to God, with much more limitations. (note that I used the concept “limitation” for God also….a concept foreign to most Christians). Bringing this to our discussion, When God decided to create humans with free will, He probably excluded many other possibilities. He probably had one reason for this – Love. Because that is what He is. (I know… I know.. you’re probably thinking….”now this Silas fellow is going to try to tell me that suffering is part of love”. No…far from that…but the question still remains, right? How to reconcile love and suffering, right?

            I’m just trying to give some perspectives in omnipotence, at this point, that’s all. What would you choose. Would you rather live in love with the risk of suffering also or would you rather live a life without love, but also without any suffering, Or even no suffering and no spontaneous love, if we can call this love at all. Example. Sometimes I can be very practical. How do I know that my wife loves me? (1) If she never yells at me (2) If never never cheats on me (3) If she never serves cucumbers and egg-plant; (4) If she kisses me every time I come home from work. So let’s say that I had the power to make her do that from day 1 of our marriage. I have the technology to build a software and install it in her brains with all of those directions and instructions. It will never fail. She would act like that every single time and day and never do what I don’t like. An all loving robot, completely obligated and without choice. Would you want that type of love? Would it be love at all?

            If you protect the child from the raper, evil will never be known as evil and we wouldn’t learn from it. No moral consequences. Robots, automates …and the like. Mummies. (Don’t get me wrong here. II’m not saying that suffering is necessary or good. Nothing good about it.)

            To be continued.

          • saneandreasonable

            You sound like a person too “smart” to believe. At some point the greatest attributes in life should be faith, hope and love. Logic , which in this life is limited, is not one of them.

          • JT Rager

            I have never for a second tried to imply that I’m smarter than anyone on this thread. As far as “love”, you are not showing much of it, and you would rather be condescending. As far as faith, I see no reason why it’s a good thing. As far as hope, I’m happy to have it as long as I have a good reason.

            Logic has been one of the attributes that you listed that has shown me the most benefit during my experience in life. It has allowed me to learn about the world around me and make good decisions. Logic help with moral decisions as well, so it’s not exclusive to love.

            I’m not about to post a condescending comment about what you should “think about” either.

          • Silas

            What do you mean, you don’t know? :) Then it might be possible, (as far as you’re concerned) “for god to create free beings only to do good”, right? In order to maintain a level of coherence, then you also can’t be certain that it is possible to create beings with free will but hold..prevent them from acting upon their will and still maintain their freedom, right? So they would be free to want and chose but not to execute their desires if it meant hurting others, right? How certain are you that this is even possible? When you chose, you also exclude. Its simple logic. (okay…I don’t know, but it seems that you see God as an non-logical being, beyond and above logic. That’s okay with me…because it would be your impression or vision of gods or God.

            We all live by faith in certain situations in life. There’s no way out of it. Not every thing can be explained and when talking about God out of Revelation, we start to have some type of faith to go on further. And this could well be one of those cases. I rely on what I believe right now about God’s omniscience and omnipotence (you mix them up here and there…its okay…no problem) to figure this suffering thing amongst creatures He loves. Can’t explain either (1) The Big Bang Theory (It shouldn’t be called a theory because it can’t be proven, observable, and much less replicated in a lab); (2) Why is it that there are more species in lower and earlier geographical layers then in the most recent ones? In the first case, the best explanation for the origin of all of us is flawed, because it’s not scientific. In the second case, it defies the evolutionary theory in its core. (And I’m not even going to mention the Pre-Cambrian Explosion). What I’m trying to to say that there needs to be a lot of faith involved in order to believe in both possibilities – Evolution or Intelligent Design.

          • JT Rager

            I don’t know because I don’t know what the properties of a god are. I don’t even see reason for the existence of one, much less the properties of one. It could be anything from some Greek gods that had some supernatural powers to omnipotent beings such as Allah or Yahweh. That is why it’s the theist’s job to tell me what the properties of their god are. Many of them posit a god that created the universe that could have had completely different properties. I don’t see that as possible, but they seem to. You seem to say that a god is omnipotent but he can’t possibly be beyond logic. I see no reason why that’s more of an impossible property as changing the laws of nature. You also give all these properties like “love” to your god, and that’s ok too, but I have no reason to believe you. You have to motivate that for me. You say he is very powerful and very loving, and I surmise that I could be more loving than it if I had such power by stopping children from being raped. Therefore, I don’t believe you when you say there is a powerful loving god. You then back that up by giving your god other properties, but then you don’t give evidence for those either. From my perspective, all I see are arbitrary god properties without justification.

            We all live by faith in certain situations in life. There’s no way out of it.

            No.
            I don’t live by faith. I work to make my beliefs justified. Faith is the belief in things even when there is no good reason for it.

            The Big Bang Theory (It shouldn’t be called a theory because it can’t be proven, observable, and much less replicated in a lab)

            Wrong again. No scientific facts are proven absolutely, but there are mounds of evidence for things that are very likely true. The Big Bang is observable due to background radiation from space, scientists observe its effects all the time! As for the lab, we can work out the properties of it through particle accelerators. Perhaps you should look up the Higgs potential in your free time.

            (2) Why is it that there are more species in lower and earlier geographical layers then in the most recent ones?

            I’m not sure this is true, could you provide a citation? Either way this can easily be explained with:
            1. Some eras and locations are better for preserving fossils.
            2. Mass extinctions have happened multiple times throughout geologic history.
            It doesn’t defy evolution because evolution doesn’t say species can’t die out.

            You shouldn’t bring up the Cambrian explosion, because it’s also not evidence against evolution. All that happened was the rate of new species increased for about 10 million years by about an order of magnitude. It does nothing to defy evolution.

          • Silas

            JT …how do you put that bar before the sentence? That’s a neat way of answering.

            You say: “I don’t know because I don’t know what the properties of a god are”

            But you talk about omniscience and omnipresence, and love, and free will….those are properties…right? And of course, for Christians, the Bible is were we learn about God’s properties…essence.

            You say: “I don’t even see reason for the existence of one” Do you see a reason for life…for living?
            Interesting. Evolution claims that everything came from the same source…origin. (the bottom-up theory..or something like that). Since there are no leaps, and if the environment were stable, naturally then earlier/older the geological layer, the less number species existed. Where are the earlier ones before the Cambrian explosion? Where are the billions then after the Cambrian explosion? But that’s not what we find in reality, is it ? So in order for the theory to hold water, we need to come up with possibilities, non-scientific explanations, …probabilities, not only to explain what happened before but also what might have happened afterwards. I wonder how evolutionists explain that in the earth’s historical time frame, evolutionary life happened in a few minutes.
            Obviously I can’t or no one else, PROVE the existence of God. But neither can scientists PROVE evolution or how the universe begun. They are “theories” that with one tiny new evidence can change everything. The Bible is the source of what I believe PLUS many other aspects of life besides science. Science is a big part, but not the only one. Take love, for instance. What’s scientific about that. Explain to me scientifically why you love….., explain how it comes about, why you care…Explain to me experiences that only you had. and on and on. I also don’t believe you JT, that you don’t live by faith. All of us do…all the time in many different situations. No matter how anyone tries to say its hope…this and that…at the end of the day, we do a lot of things based on faith…trusting that it will work and that it will be alright. Based on experience, knowledge. evidences even.
            Obviously we have a HUGE problem here with this discussion. We come from different perspectives and assumptions. Hardly anything happens without the foundation of assumptions. Every single research is based on a-priori assumptions.
            The Big Bang. So as the tiny dot of highly concentrated energy (matter?) exploded, there was a big light that until now is roving the universe. Read Genesis 1:1-2…and see how the Universe begun. So what’s different? I say that in order to be scientific, it needs to be observable and replicated. Now “evidences” based on reverse engineering all of the sudden is okay to determine how the universe begun and it’s call scientific. What can I say?
            You chose to believe in scientists (biologist, micro-biologists, geologists, astro-physicists…) who defend evolution as the origin of life from a renown University but refuse to accept what their colleagues have to say against it. I do the same thing. I find what these say to make more sense to me (more consistent with my other experiences) then what the others say. And of course, it seems, you tend to rely totally on what evolutionist scientists present and ignore what Christian scientists have to say, even when they also present contrary evidences.
            What can we do? Not much, I guess. And there is more. Tens, (if not hundreds), as you know, of “conditions” have to be in place in the astro-physical realm (natural laws, etc.) in order for this planet to sustain complex life as we know it. One tiny difference in any of these conditions would make life impossible here, right? (Proof of this is that we haven’t found life as we know it in any other planet. (I watched a TV documentary several years ago, where this renowned astro-physicist was saying that he would be greatly surprised if there is life in any other place in the universe, such are the probabilities of all of “this” coming together. Even if it started somewhere, what are the chances of not being interrupted by some unfavorable conditions, ESPECIALLY when it takes billions of years for it to happen in a specific sequence).
            Well, I look at all of these necessary conditions (astro-physical…laws) and say: It just cant happen by coincidence. One little shift or change in any one of these conditions (gravity, for instance) and we wouldn’t be here. However, you seem to look at the same “things” and say: Wow, this is why we have life here…because all of these conditions came together in this perfect way. Wow, what a coincidence. You choose then to be fascinated by a coincidence (quite a coincidence) …and I choose to believe in a creator (also…quite a creator). How did that energy come together, exploded, and the universe was formed? Who knows? How did a God, all powerful and with creative power came about? Who knows? The knowing of a Creator comes from the heart…the Bible is full of that. The other option is science, I guess. If that’s what you rely on to live your life, fine. Nothing against it. You have free will to choose what appeals more strongly to your intellect and heat…and we couldn’t have it any other way, could we?

          • Silas

            It can’t be that complicated JT.
            1. I have found (and my greatest doubts also comes from this) the evil and suffering are at the crux of the matter (and with it, free will). The questions you pose regarding this are poignant. I’ve read many books on theodicy. You most certainly know the main explanation for evil…devil…and the like..not possible to have real genuine freedom without choices. I only came to peace with this when I learned about open theism and understood better what love really means. That satisfied my soul, hunger, and quest. Problem solved completely? Absolutely not.

            2. Spiritual & faith based evidences. To me, there are plenty out there. To me, life is much larger then science. Science is an important piece of it. There is also the Bible. We need to find out what it is really about, what is its intention, and is it trust worthy. Got to figure that out. Its an extraordinary book. Again, is it true? Is Jesus a savior? Did he resurrected? Did this Jesus even exist? I have in my hands two huge books on Christ’s resurrection. A lot of documentation from early christian historians…well accepted in the modern world. However, I haven’t found one atheist who is willing to sit down, take the time, and read them. And these are only two of the many I know of.

            3. Scientific evidences for evolution and the origin of the universe. Are they really scientific? What are the ..lets say…the 5 main scientific evidences for evolution? Do they really hold water? What do non-evolutionist scientists have to say about them? As far as I know, even Darwin had doubts about his theory before he died.

            4. World views and what appeals most to different people.

          • JT Rager

            To make blockquotes just do ” text ” but remove the apostrophes.

            1. You probably have problems with theodicy. You are the one who is proposing a god that loves us. You are the one with the presupposition that a god exist. I don’t have such a problem, because I don’t presuppose anything. You are the one proposing to me that such a god exists, and I don’t accept it. You assign it properties that I don’t see evidence for, and then when I point it out you just seem to assign more properties to it that I also don’t have evidence for. It’s all arbitrary. Theodicy is your problem, when theologians figure it out then they might have more sway.

            2.

            Spiritual & faith based evidences. To me, there are plenty out there.

            Then name some! Saying you have “spiritual & faith based evidences” is as unsatisfying as if I just said “scientific evidence and left it at that. Be specific. If you want evidence for the big bang I’ll point out background radiation that we still observe constantly and the expansion of the universe.

            3. They are scientific because they are demonstrable and testable. 5 main scientific evidences for evolution? They all have these properties, because otherwise they wouldn’t be scientific by definition. What about them do you not think is scientific? Non-evolutionist scientists are probably not biologists, which rely on evolutionary theory to do their work. The vast majority of scientists accept evolution, and an even overwhelmingly larger ratio of biologists believe in evolution. And there is no evidence for an aternative. Evolution is a done deal. It’s an accepted theory. It doesn’t matter what Darwin’s doubts were, because science progresses and many things have changed about evolution in the past century and a half. His opinions are completely moot, the theory is valuable because it is correct, not because Darwin said it.

            4. I don’t know why you said this. It’s practically a non-sequitur.

            As to your other comment which I don’t even want to begin to respond to everything, because you’ve got an entire essay here. You don’t believe me that I don’t live on faith. Tough. I believe in scientists because what they say tends to be true and I can observe the evidence for them. I can look at fossils. I can read books that detail the mechanisms of evolution and everything (by the way, we understand the mechanisms and properties of evolution better than gravity). I see no evidence for an alternative to evolution, as opposed to every single other piece applying to evolution. The overwhelming majority of scientists accept evolution. It would have to be an incredible conspiracy amongst scientists to not accept even the slightest shred of evidence against it and only publish something dogmatically. That seems just as incredible and improbable as some cosmic entity simply willing the universe into existence all at once.

          • Silas

            (1) You are the one who mentioned theodicy – suffering. I have no problems with that. Two others atheists on this board mentioned human suffering as a reason for not believing in a god…loving god. I have no problems with that..and why should atheists? Where do their morals come from?

            (2) Talking about majority? Is the majority always right? 99% of the population believes in some type of deity. Why is that? It has to be a big evolutionary hoax, right? As well as the notion of right and wrong “F” (sorry) evolution – I want to do what I feel like (go out with my good looking neighbor’s wife) but something inside me, set up by the evolutionary process, tells me that I shouldn’t, …that this isn’t right, and in the society we live in, it’s not acceptable. I really ask you then. Is this sentiment, notion that we have is something learned or is it something inherent of us as human beings? This goes for steeling, and all other sorts of things we consider being wrong and immoral.

            (3) I hope you do realize that the fact that there is no evidence for an alternative does not make it right and true, right? And talking about evidences, that are plenty of evidences out there for people’s faith. You do need faith to believe that the scientific method is the best we can do…and that it REALLY proves what it sets to prove, right? How certain are you of that? And in doing this, your god is evidence…thus, science. Don’t gt me wrong here…I’m not insulting you, okay? However, most atheists I know, completely disregard, as I have pointed out in this board, all other facets of human life and experience.

            Alternatives: (1) The Big Band brought about a huge light. We have it until today, right? Read Genesis 1:1-2. (2) Why is there a DNA? Where did it come from? (3) Like I asked already, where did all that matter and energy come from? How was it formed? What did we have before that? Same questions can be made about God. Where did she come from?

            (4) In order for you to say that the majority of scientists are correct, you would have to read what theist scientists say about evolutionary scientists claim, …and not only that, you would have to read what ex-atheists say about their experiences…and not only what ex-Christians say and tell you. That would only be fair, right…even more so, considering that you seem to be a very pragmatic person and since faith is not part of your life and experience. Of course, you shouldn’t simply believe me…then you would have to read what I’ve been reading and thousands of readings out there. To be fair, TJ.

            (4) Evolution = Science? Let’s see: (a) No leaps, however, life came about in an extremely small fraction of the existence of the universe. It seems to me that that was a huge leap. (b) To say that it is not by leaps, we would have to find the missing links; (c) Why is it that we don’t find different mutations within our population. Even if it happened very slowly, shouldn’t we have people in different stages of mutation? (2) No purpose brought about purpose (3) geological layers: almost nothing there, then a bunch there, and then, almost nothing there again. (4) Where are the links? So it must be leaps. A few bones here and there, scattered all over the world, makes it scientific? Have we found at least two of the same and in the same period? (5) Carbon 14 is extremely questionable; (6) The fact that humans have similar genetic codes as other species doesn’t prove that we came from them. It only really proves that we are different from them in someways. Why does the reasoning have to be the other way around?

          • JT Rager

            1.

            Where do their morals come from?

            What does that have to do with a god at all? That’s a complete non-sequitur. My morals come from my observations of the world and how my actions have consequences. I don’t want harm to come to myself or others, and moral actions lead to good consequences. No gods required.

            2.

            Talking about majority? Is the majority always right?

            No, but scientists are the people who are actively looking to find out how the world works. If I’m going to ask someone how the universe works, I’m not going to ask a layperson (or a theologian). I’m going to ask a physicist, because they probably have the firmest grasp of anyone.

            99% of the population believes in some type of deity.

            Incorrect. Wikipedia lists it as at least 2.01%, and that’s only the people who self-identify as atheists. The “nones” is a much larger group and includes many non-believers. Furthermore, this number is much higher in the developed nations.

            As well as the notion of right and wrong “F” (sorry) evolution – I want to do what I feel like (go out with my good looking neighbor’s wife) but something inside me, set up by the evolutionary process, tells me that I shouldn’t, …that this isn’t right, and in the society we live in, it’s not acceptable. I really ask you then. Is this sentiment, notion that we have is something learned or is it something inherent of us as human beings?

            Our instincts have given us these urges, like the ones you listed. We’ve only lived in modern society for a very short period of time, evolutionarily speaking, so those instincts haven’t had the time to “catch up” to our values. But it is also our ability to reason and think about consequences that tells us that when we go out with our neighbor’s wife that bad things happen.

            3.

            I hope you do realize that the fact that there is no evidence for an alternative does not make it right and true, right?

            When we only have one possibility and no evidence for anything else, it means that it’s our best explanation at the moment. Even more so when we have an overwhelming amount of evidence for it.

            And talking about evidences, that are plenty of evidences out there for people’s faith. You do need faith to believe that the scientific method is the best we can do…and that it REALLY proves what it sets to prove, right?

            I’m not saying that I don’t have evidence that people have faith, I am saying that faith is defined as belief in something even with an absence of good evidence. I have no faith in the scientific method, because I have evidence that it works and I can see the results of it. That is good evidence.

            Alternatives: (1) The Big Band brought about a huge light. We have it until today, right? Read Genesis 1:1-2. (2) Why is there a DNA? Where did it come from? (3) Like I asked already, where did all that matter and energy come from? How was it formed? What did we have before that? Same questions can be made about God. Where did she come from?

            (1)Genesis 1:1-2 isn’t a model for anything. It just says something and that’s it. The Big Bang theory includes equations, field mechanisms, particle interactions, and a million other things. It’s not simplty a statement that everything expanded from a singularity. The Genesis account is just a couple sentences and that’s it. It explains pitifully little, and there’s no reason I should believe anything in it.

            (2) Scientists are still working on abiogenesis, and have found certain ways to synthesize DNA and proteins spontaneously. Look up the Miller-Urey experiment for one such experiment.

            (3) These are very hard questions that physicists still struggle with. One large hypothesis is that with matter and antimatter formation, as well as momenta that cancel out, the total energy and matter of the universe is exactly zero. It didn’t really just “come from” anywhere. The Higgs mechanism broke symmetry, causing the Higgs field to spontaneously cause massive interactions. If this sounds like technobabble, that’s cause it is. It’s not easy to understand, and I’m not sure if I’m even explaining it right. But it’s passed peer review, and other scientists have scrutinized the hell out these models and predictions, so you can be certain that their methodologies are accurate. With gods there is no such rigor.

            4.

            In order for you to say that the majority of scientists are correct, you would have to read what theist scientists say about evolutionary scientists claim, …and not only that, you would have to read what ex-atheists say about their experiences…and not only what ex-Christians say and tell you.

            No. There are studies that are published. Look at the Wikipedia page for “Level of Support for Evolution” and look at the citations for the statistics. Wikipedia doesn’t have quite the same peer-review strength as is justifiable, but they cite their sources. Look at those and then get back to me. One guess puts the scientific consensus at 99.9%!!! By the way, evolution has nothing to do with being a theist or an atheist. There are many Christian scientists who agree that evolution occurs. There is also a (incredibly small) amount of atheists who don’t accept evolution.

            5. These arguments have been refuted a thousand times over. The fact that you are sharing them with me, and the other things you claim that have been absolutely wrong leads me to believe that you have no clue what you are talking about and that you don’t care how science works and what their discoveries actually say. I’ll humor you and run through them for you.
            (a) What does “no leaps” mean? Also, life has been around for an estimated 25% of the universe, definitely not a small fraction
            (b) What do you mean no leaps? We don’t need to find missing links because we see effects and can view different species evolve before our eyes anyway.
            (c) We do find mutations all the time. Cancer and birth defects.
            (2) Non-sequitur, and as far as I can tell says nothing about science.
            (3) So? What’s your point?
            (4) Again with the leaps. What do you mean? We have lots of fossils, and they all go in an order that makes sense. We don’t have to have every single fossil in order to connect the dots. Look up horse evolution, and you’ll see a fairly complete evolutionary timeline.
            (5) C-14 is reliable when you use it within a certain time scale. We have wayyyyyyyyyyy more than just C-14 if we want to date outside those time scales.
            (6) We share over 90% of DNA with Chimpanzees. That’s an incredible amount! We share 25% of our DNA with rice. That seems to indicate a commonality, doesn’t it? The fact that their different doesn’t discount evolution at all, since evolution would predict that to happen anyways.

            Based on your scientific arguments, I really don’t think you know at all what you’re talking about. It looks like you pulled your arguments off an apologetics website and posted them here. I don’t mean to be insulting, but you have a lot to learn about science before you start thinking you have any good arguments.

          • Silas

            1. How sure can you be of that? So you make up the notion of morals and right and wrong as you go along. Evolution brought this notion about? Where does this notion come from? Something in the brain or heart (they are finding out that the heart really thinks…like the Bible says. I heard a lecture about this last year. Very scientific…I was really amazed.).

            2. 99% just a way of saying. and “But it is also our ability to reason and think about consequences that
            tells us that when we go out with our neighbor’s wife that bad things
            happen.” We are not going no where with this. Because of course, what I’m going to say is…where does this instinct come from? It seems to me that scientists are hundreds of lights years away of actually, scientifically, explaining this, although I do see some movements towards that. I’ve read, in the past, something about the “spiritual brain…where faith is in our brain…etc. Hmm…so there is such a thing as faith.

            3. You are right. With god/God/deities…and the like…there is no scientific rigor. Can’t apply it. That’s why I keep saying that if “your thing” is evidence, and science…scientific method, and if that the only thing or most important thing that you rely on and regulates your life, then, of course, forget gods/Gods/deity. Of course.

            The Bible is not a scientific compendium, although there is a lot of science in there. Why can’t you acknowledge what Genesis 1 says about the beginning as being practically the same that science claims? “In the beginning, God created light”.

            “I have no faith in the scientific method, because I have evidence that it works and I can see the results of it. That is good evidence.” Science has been wrong in the past. Could it be now also?

            “…and there’s no reason I should believe anything in it.” Wow…that’s
            quite a bold statement. Historical facts, archeological findings,
            people, prophecies, geography, poetry. Apostle Paul was the greatest
            Christian persecutor. He details how he became a Christian and follower
            of Jesus.

            “Miller-Urey” – I’ll look it up. I worked at an University (back in Brasil) where micro-biologists “created” bacterias (I think) that enriched the soil with minerals and stuff. Another would even “create” more methanol from sugar-cane waste, increasing the level of production.

            4. I agree…and that much I know. Then we’ve been going in circles. We might want then to narrow and focus our conversation on theism vs atheism. Right? (I’ve been trying to defend intelligent design theism.

            I don’t claim to know it all. My arguments are not taken from any
            specific source. Readings, etc. Of course LIFE or living “beings”
            should share many “things”. It’s only natural. But to say that one
            evolved from the other,…from a common stem and that is the explanation
            for their similarities is a totally different thing.

          • JT Rager

            1.

            So you make up the notion of morals and right and wrong as you go along.

            Read my post again. I make up nothing. You can’t be farther from the truth.

            they are finding out that the heart really thinks…

            Calling major bullshit on this. I’m sorry, at this point your arguments are just ludicrous. This honestly seems like trolling. I don’t want to offend you, but this is ridiculous.

            2.

            where does this instinct come from?

            If you had read my post you would have seen it’s not an instinct. Are you even reading my posts at this point?

            3.

            The Bible is not a scientific compendium, although there is a lot of science in there. Why can’t you acknowledge what Genesis 1 says about the beginning as being practically the same that science claims? “In the beginning, God created light”.

            There is no science in the Bible if there is no:

            1. Hypothesis

            2. Testing/experiments

            3. Repeatability

            4. Peer review

            Science is a methodology. If it doesn’t have these things, then the Bible has no science.

            Genesis 1 is not practically the same at all. Again, I say, did you read my post? I said:

            “The Big Bang theory includes equations, field mechanisms, particle interactions, and a million other things. It’s not simply a statement that everything expanded from a singularity.”

            Genesis 1 is nothing like that. Stop claiming it’s practically the same.

            Science has been wrong in the past. Could it be now also?

            Science has shown to get more accurate over time. As of now it has the best explanation, not necessarily being absolutely right. Thomson’s atomic model superseded Dalton’s model, Rutherford’s overwrote Thomson’s, Bohr overwrote Rutherford’s, and Schrödinger helped get it to close to how we use it today. Technically speaking, these were all wrong, but notably, science didn’t stop and people didn’t say “We have the answer, we can stop studying it now!”. Scientists looked for the issues in the model and improved the model. And they were all important in developing our knowledge of the universe, regardless of their accuracy!

            Wow…that’s quite a bold statement. Historical facts, archeological findings,
            people, prophecies, geography, poetry. Apostle Paul was the greatest
            Christian persecutor. He details how he became a Christian and follower
            of Jesus.

            Name some specifics. Most historians won’t count the Bible as a historically accurate document anyway, so I would suggest not starting there. Also, using poetry as “evidence” is absolutely ridiculous.

            You don’t seem to be responding to anything I’ve said half the time. Please do so.

          • Silas

            You don’t respond to a lot of what I’m saying either. It’s just natural in this type of geopolitics. Too much “stuff” going on at the same time. Sorry.

            I’ll try to retrieve the lecture about how the heart thinks. I went in the lecture very skeptical…but it make sense to me.

            I never said the Bible was a science compendium. I said, in other words, that the Bible contain scientific statements…and there are evidences, through archaeology, historical documents by well accepted historians, like Josephus and others. Poetry? Just mentioned to show you how complete and comprehensive this mighty Book is. It changes people’s lives, like no other book. YOU WOULD HAVE to admit that…and if it’s all about evolution, something happened in the brains of our species to want to acknowledge or attribute changes in their lives or feel the need for a superior being. Call it what you want…evolution did that to us. Why? I don’t know…a survival mechanism? (Not being ironic here…never am…you can bet on that. I respect the people I engage in conversations with). If this is so, then then it was the result of some mutation that occurred in practically 100% of or species from who knows when. What happened then to atheists who don’t feel the need to reverence a superior being?

            Or are atheists an evolution from theists of all sorts? Or maybe theists are in the middle of this “chain”…I don’t know. Before it wasn’t, then we mutated (natural selection to survive…but …from what?) and then either (a) there were those who never mutated from atheists to theists, or (b) some are mutating from theist to atheists because there is no need for a belief in a superior being. How else can I understand this?

            I hope you are not going to claim that thought processes in the brain has nothing to do with evolution. Its all about cells, neurons, chemistry, electrical charges, …DNA (?) in the brain and how its configured, isn’t it? (Could I be wrong on this?). Its a physiological process, isn’t it?

          • Silas

            I didn’t mean to say “geopolitics”. I don’t how that got in there. The word I remembered using was apologetic”.

          • Silas

            “My morals come from my observations of the world and how my actions have consequences..”

            (1) It doesn’t explain why you have morals at all. Why feel morality or amoral?

            (2) Viewing morality this way is vary dangerous to our society. Each one can have his/her own set of morality and who is to determine which set should prevail and which are not acceptable? What would make the “judges” right or wrong? Denying one of his/her set of morals would be extremely immortal, wouldn’t you think? At the end of the days, it’s a wash, if you will, and there is no place for morality.
            (3) Why does one even care about consequences of their actions? Where does the concern for well being come from?

            Frankly, to put a human being, (and all of complex life) together is we know it, through the evolutionary process, wouldn’t we need trillions and trillions of years instead of only …hmmm…1.8-2.5 billion? (???) (I guess I could easily look that up…but I’m sure you know.

          • JT Rager

            Morality isn’t something you “feel”. Morality is the promotion of well-being and the reduction of harm. I have morals because I’ve noticed what helps and what harms people, and I along with most of the human race have noticed how much better life is when everyone acts in a morally strong manner. That’s a pretty strong motivation for me. This addresses your point (3). People care about consequences because our consequences affect us and others. When you’re a dick to people, people treat you like a dick right back. When you are nice to people, everyone is happier. That is why we should value well-being. EVERYONE is better off. How is that a bad motivation?

            How is it dangerous? Most people agree on some very basic premises, that pleasure is generally preferable to pain, that life is generally preferable to death. Based on these basic agreements, we can find what is harmful and what is helpful. Many times what hurts and what helps people and what hurts people can come into conflict. This is where we have discussions and use our thoughts to determine the best possible outcome. I don’t see how this is dangerous, because as far as I can tell it’s what we’ve been doing all along, since I see no reason to see how it’s been anything else. The “morality” that people propose that a god gave to us isn’t a morality at all. It’s a list of rules, some of which are actually harmful and therefore immoral. Such commandments cause people to prevent the rights of gays, treat women like objects, fly planes into buildings, prevent women’s health care, cause thought crimes for not believing in a god, etc. I don’t see why people say a god gave us “morality” when these things come as a result of religious thought.

            Frankly, to put a human being, (and all of complex life) together is we know it, through the evolutionary process, wouldn’t we need trillions and trillions of years instead of only …hmmm…1.8-2.5 billion? (???) (I guess I could easily look that up…but I’m sure you know.

            How did you calculate that?

          • Silas

            Kind of an average….encyclopedia…Wikipidedia … 2 billion years – complex cells; 1 billion years – multicellular life; 600 million = simple animals;

            60 million – primates; 200 thousand – modern humans.

            Where does the notion and perception that hurting others is bad…etc. etc. comes from? Where does the notion and perception of what is good or bad comes from? I can’t even fathom how a cell (?) to a point to be able to connect to other cells and think…and more…judge. Its not “only” a gene with information about the color of someone’s eye…which is complex enough, it’s endowed with the capability of reflecting on its own actions and about it self.

            Wait a minute. I’m not sure that I said that God gave us morality. Maybe I did (??) or you are implying that I did. I’m not sure. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that God gave humans the capability and notion of right and wrong…and morality. God also endowed humans with free will…freedom to think or do…to decide how they want to act. True, the Bible explicit nearly 300 principles we should follow, in the New Testament alone. Jesus never condemned, gays, prostitutes, women…not even slave owners, criminals, robbers, and etc. He even eat with them. But true, He will leave out of His kingdom those that are without or chose to be against Him. It’s not the commandments that CAUSE anything. It’s how people choose to interpret them….placing themselves, …their selfish desires above His most powerful commandment – “Love each other as you love yourself”.

            Again, if there’s no parameter, who’s to condemn an yones’ actions? So we ourselves make up who’s good and who’s bad. You probably didn’t pay attention to a whole paragraph I wrote about this, right? The Bible states that we are all equal. But wait, you are saying the same thing, aren’t you? …gays, women….?

          • Silas

            The Big Bang Theory – I learned some today. A Christian astrophysicist here at my University basically agreed with you…and did state that the way scientists are “looking at” the Big Band is scientific. She explained me how this is done. According to her, what science can’t explain yet is the origin of the “concentrated energy” that exploded…etc. etc. Why not God…according to the Genesis account? Neither science no believers can explain…unless you trust the Bible.

          • JT Rager

            I’m not saying “there is no god”, you get that right? I’m not saying the universe absolutely couldn’t be created by a god. I’m saying we shouldn’t suppose there is one who created the universe until there is some evidence for it. Right now there isn’t any evidence that a god was there to create anything, so why start assuming so based on something an ancient tribal member wrote down a few thousand years ago?

            Neither science no believers can explain…unless you trust the Bible.

            Except the Bible doesn’t explain anything. It just says something happened, with no explanation. That’s it. It says “In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth”. And just because the book of Genesis says it means we should believe it? Sorry, I need evidence first.

          • Silas

            Good. I get it. And I apologize if I gave the impression of that. Obviously we are coming from different perspectives. You SEEM to consider scientific evidence is your only “lens”, if you will, in life. I, on the other hand, include other types of “evidences” (if there is such a thing) to shape my beliefs. Human experience, for one. I’ve talked about this plenty already. But for some reason, JT, you have avoided this conversation. its okay…it might not interest you at all, because, again, you give me the impression (or I misinterpret you) that only science “directs” your beliefs. (at least when it comes to origins).

            I’ve already laid down why I believe in the Bible. read the Pentateuch…the first five books of the Bible, most of which was written by the same person – Moses. Again, the Bible doesn’t explain anything…like you mentioned…it states for most part. And its a book about creation, conflict, covenant. That’s its basic story line. No other book has had, the impact in human life then it. No book comes close to its magnitude. The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by over 40 different authors from all walks of life: shepherds, farmers, tent-makers, physicians, fishermen, priests, philosophers and kings. Despite these differences in occupation and the span of years it took to
            write it, (1500 years) the Bible is an extremely cohesive and unified book.

          • JT Rager

            I have many lenses that I use throughout my life, to interact with people, to enjoy art, to find meaningful work that I enjoy, etc. However, we are talking about a universal phenomena that you claim occurs in nature, that you call a “god”. You believe it created everything and that it has impacts on people’s behavior. That is a natural phenomena. Because it is a natural phenomena it falls into the realm of science. If we’re talking about nature, we are going to study it through a natural lens, ie. through science. That is how we discover things about the universe, and it has proven to be the most reliable method for determining how nature works.

            I have read the first five books of the Bible. I’m currently reading through the Bible so I can know it better. Reading it more has only convinced me of how full of errors it is. You say it’s the book that has had the highest impact on humanity. Even if I grant you that, how does that make it true? You say it’s cohesive and unified, but there are so many contradictions and inconsistencies not only between it and scientific discoveries, but within itself. Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 start the creation stories in different ways right off the bat. How am I supposed to take it seriously as a historical reference when it isn’t even consistent with itself?

          • Maxximiliann

            If exceptional intellect is required to merely duplicate designs and systems present in nature ( Biomimetics ) then much more the original being replicated. Creation is thus proof, evidence of an Almighty Creator.

          • Maxximiliann

            It seems apparent that you misapprehend exactly how free will operates . To borrow from the brainchild of Harry Frankfurt , “so long as a person’s choice is causally undetermined, it is a free choice even if he is unable to choose the opposite of that choice.

            Imagine a man with electrodes secretly implanted in his brain who is presented with the choice of doing A or B. The electrodes are inactive so long as the man chooses A; but if he were going to choose B, then the electrodes would switch on and force him to choose A. If the electrodes fire, causing him to choose A, his choice of A is clearly not a free choice. But suppose that the man really wants to do A and chooses of his own volition. In that case his choosing A is entirely free, even though the man is literally unable to choose B, since the electrodes do not function at all and so have no effect on his choice of A. What makes his choice free is the absence of any causally determining factors of his choosing A.

            In other words, a limitation in the range of choices is not the same as having no choice at all. If A, B, and C are good choices, and D, E, and F are evil choices, one’s inability to choose D, E, or F does not negate the fact that he can choose A, B, or C.”

            If you happen to visit an Italian restaurant , for instance , they could only just serve 12 from 150 possible Italian delicacies . The fact that you are unable to pick 138 of these dishes fails to negate the reality that you can actually choose any of the 12 alternatives in front of you . In the same manner , God’s expectation that his human creation be godly is not to mean man does not have independence of will . This means that , God Almighty is justified in expecting mankind to do good as well as punishing those who abuse their modicum of free will to be evil , ungodly .

          • Maxximiliann

            “People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” -Proverbs 19:3

            More often than not, the reason for man’s suffering …. is man: http://bit. ly/11EyvgO

          • Michael Oakley

            I’m sorry, you don’t get to make statements about god as fact, and your averting the paradox here. To say god is omnipotent is to say god is omniscient as well (after all doesn’t he have a ‘divine’ plan?)… Lets suspend better reasoning for the moment assume your god exists… So god knowing created man with freewill knowing that he would sin, knowing that man would suffer for that sin and created a multitude of ways to torture man (plague, famine, war, pestilence, etc., etc.) because of the sin he created in man. And you think your god is good? Sounds sadistic to me. If your god was a person he’d be locked up with no chance of parole… at best. Personally, I’m for the death penalty on this one.

          • Silas

            ” So god knowing created man with freewill knowing that he would sin,
            knowing that man would suffer for that sin and created a multitude of
            ways to torture man (plague, famine, war, pestilence, etc., etc.)
            because of the sin he created in man.”

            God did not know that his creation would sin. He obviously knew that that would be a possibility. Because of love, men has the freedom to choose. Love is only valuable and meaningful if it is done by choice, right? (think of your kids…if at birth you plugged in them a loving chip.) But if you sin, you have an Advocate in Heaven. How do you explain people who go through terrible suffering and are okay? In general, people don’t kill themselves because they go through suffering, do they. They want to live, besides suffering…and they get over it, don’t they? How do you explain that? They take a spiritual dimension of life. Flight 370 – CNN interviewed this pilot who lost his arm recently on a stupid accident. Never seen such optimism. Thousands of examples all over the world. Two of my good friends are in terrible shape. Friend 1 got shot on the back and is quadriplegic for at least 20 years now. He lives 100% of his time in his bed, lying down. Never seen him complain.

            Friend 2 has an illness that once in a while bothers him quite a bit. His married, works, etc. etc….However, he never stops complaining about his life and situation. So I took him to see my friend 1, thinking that that would do hm some good. It had the opposite result. He hated being there, talking to my friend 1. Too much optimism for him. He was mad at me. He still rather complain about his life. Why? What’s the difference? They both suffer. God offers a way out of this mess. If you take a spiritual stance towards your life, you will see how feelings change.

            God did not create sin in men. That’s not what the Bible says.

          • Silas

            If you want, you can read what I just wrote JT Rager below to answer his question: “eople say he is all-loving and omnipotent, and man’s sin due to free
            will is what caused evil on earth. But if he was omnipotent he would
            able to create man with free will and without evil. If he doesn’t do that he cannot omnipotent by definition. I don’t see how a god who is all-loving and all-powerful can get away with allowing suffering in the world”

          • saneandreasonable

            That is the price of creating a being of true free will. You cannot out logic God with your little mind. No one can.

          • Maxximiliann

            But he didn’t know. Just because God can know everything doesn’t mean he can’t use this ability in discreet measures. And why would he do that? Because he gave all his sentient creation free will which would be meaningless if he chose to know everything we would do before we did it.

            I invite you, then, to approach your dilemma from a more elevated and adequate concept of God Almighty.

          • Silas

            It really boils down to your “world view” (or spiritual view…if you will). Most people think that we have free will in this matter. Maybe we really don’t. There’s no free will if you don’t have a choice. According to the Bible, and many ancient beliefs all over the globe, Adam and Eve had free will. They chose to sin (whether the “apple” thing is real or simply an allegory for sin). They exercised their free will. What’s next? The Bible says that because of their sin, we all sinned. We all inherited their sin. We are born sinful creatures. No choice there. I come to this world as a lost person, in need of a savior. (So Christ came and became the second Adam, according to the Bible, to set me free from the bondage of sin). One requirement only. That I accept His sacrifice for me and in my place. Now I don’t need to die (eternally) anymore. I can accept His grace and gift. But you see, this isn’t free will at all, because I don’t have two choices, only one. I’m already lost. If I do nothing, I maintain the state that I am – lost. I would have free choice if I was like Adam and Eve – living in a neutral state. They didn’t need a savior. But since they sinned, and therefore I’m born with a sinful nature, I need a savior. We don’t have free will to be lost or not, because we are already lost from the get go.

          • Maxximiliann

            Problem is , humanity doesn’t deal with acts such as pedophilia , the gunning down of helpless little children , brutality , genocide , gang rape , racism or even serial homicide as merely socially improper conduct , like , say , picking your nostrils at the dinner table . Much rather , these jolt , outrage as well as horrify . They’re dealt with as moral abominations – acts of evil . (This is why, since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, regardless of their metaphysical values, enforced laws and regulations against homicide and various other acts of evil.)

            On the flip side , love , equality or self-sacrifice are more than just socially useful acts , like , say , bringing a lady roses on a first date. Rather, these are regarded as conduct which is actually good .

            That being said , irrational beasts don’t possess **objective** morals . When ever a lion savagely kills some other it doesn’t believe it’s committing homicide . Any time a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn’t believe it’s stealing . Each time primates violently force themselves onto females as well as their little ones they’re not tried and convicted of rape or pedophilia . Needless to say, we undoubtedly did not “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from these .

            **Objective** morals are never derived from scientific research because science , by it’s very nature , is morally nihilistic . From where , then perhaps , do we obtain our **universal objective morals** from ?

            Consider the following:

            (1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

            (2) Evil exists.

            (3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.

            (4) Therefore, God exists.

            (5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.

            That is to say, as Dostoevsky once mused, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.”

          • Maxximiliann

            “Imagine a person who comes in here tonight and argues ‘no air exists’ but continues to breathe air while he argues. Now intellectually, atheists continue to breathe – they continue to use reason and draw scientific conclusions [which assumes an orderly universe], to make moral judgments [which assumes absolute values] – but the atheistic view of things would in theory make such ‘breathing’ impossible. They are breathing God’s air all the time they are arguing against him.”

            – Greg Bahnsen

          • JT Rager

            The difference being that we have evidence for air. We know its properties without having to see it. We breathe it. We feel it in the wind. We can capture it and measure pressure with it. We can use it for combustion reactions. There is far more to air than just “seeing” it. I can’t see your god, but I can’t do anything else with it either, since there’s no evidence for it.

            I’m not going to waste my time, by the way, arguing with all of your ridiculous claims that you commented on my comments.

          • Maxximiliann

            Btw, thank you for admitting how untenable your position actually is, albeit tacitly :)

          • Maxximiliann

            If exceptional intellect is required to merely duplicate designs and systems present in nature ( Biomimetics ) then much more the original being replicated. Creation is thus proof of an Almighty Creator.

          • JT Rager

            There are multiple counter examples, where molecular self-assembly will occur to create complex structures spontaneously within nanomaterials, polymers, and crystalline materials. If you argue that these phenomena occur naturally because a god created nature then you are begging the question.

            Also, copying and pasting this arguing and trying to taunt me like a teenager over how you think I have poor arguments isn’t exactly indicative of a tenable position of your own. Pretty much the opposite, actually, and it indicates someone who just discovered an argument they found incredibly strong and have decided to proudly trot around until they have had its flaws pointed out.

          • Maxximiliann

            Now, mind you, neither pattern nor order are of particular concern . It’s the arrangements of numerous interrelated constituent parts or elements in a string of steps adhered to in a consistent clear-cut order to effectuate a task , purpose , goal or operation ( ordered complexity ) which always betrays the existence of an intelligent mind . It’s what makes a specific signal, for instance, instantly recognizable from random white noise . (That’s why SETI scours the universe for radio signals.)

            So you see, trying to use “poof” ( amazing chance )% to explain the outrageously tiny compound probabilities of standalone events giving us a life sustaining universe is simply naked , illogical sophism .

            %“It is our contention that if ‘random’ [chance] is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws, physical, chemical and biological.” -“Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory”, Dr. Murray Eden, MIT

            “There is no chance (<10-1000) to see [evolution based on mutation and natural selection] appear spontaneously and, if it did, even less for it to remain. Thus, to conclude, we believe there is a considerable gap in the Neo-Darwinian Theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged within the current conception of biology.” -“Algorithms and the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution,” Marcel P. Schutzenberger, University of Paris (Bracket mine.)

            This multiplicity of probabilities atop probabilities atop probabilities atop probabilities properly illustrates the staggering probability of our universe winding up with the optimum blend and ratios of life permitting constants by pure chance .

            Your reasoning makes it acceptable for someone who stumbles upon a copy of “Hamlet” to believe it is really the product of an infinite group of monkeys in an infinite assortment of universes banging away duplicates of texts at an infinite group of typewriters generated by yet another infinite group of monkeys in some other group of infinite universes banging away at their infinite bunch of typewriters rather than just simply concluding “Shakespeare .”

            Concordantly,

            1. The fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe are due to either physical necessity, chance or deliberate design.

            2. It is not due to either physical necessity or chance.

            3. Therefore, it is due to deliberate design.

            If you hear hoof beats , why think unicorns ?

          • JT Rager

            1. Arguments from authority.

            2. The first guy is an electrical engineer, nothing to do with evolution.

            3. The second guy is also not a biologist and has admitted he is not a biology expert. He has met overwhelming criticism in the biology community.

            4. You give a chance, which: (A) is not a probability measurement, and (B) you have not justified such numbers with any calculations. I’m an engineering student and I love math, I assure you you won’t lose me with any equations.

            5. A rewording of the “watchmaker argument”, which also has been refuted a thousand times.
            -We don’t recognize that a copy of Hamlet was made by a human by its complexity. We recognize it because we are familiar with authors and playwrights who write and we have evidence that people write plays (just as we recognize watchmakers as a carrer).
            -If you see Hamlet (or a watch) in the middle of the woods, you are able to distinguish it from nature, which you also think is designed because you believe your god made everything. You are comparing a complex book to an entire area of complex things, yet you are able to distinguish the “designed” one from the nature surrounding it. Your basis of what design is is flawed.

            6. Even if due to chance, it’s well within expected probability. I don’t buy your second premise (or your first one entirely, you are being rather exclusive)

            I’m not going to take whatever an electrical engineer says. An ele

          • Maxximiliann

            Picture a sweepstakes wherein billions upon billions of white-colored ping pong balls were combined along with one single black ball . Now imagine you’re told that an arbitrary drawing is going to be made , and if the ball is black , you will be permitted to live . However if the ball is white , then you definitely shall be executed . Observe that in this particular sweepstakes , any specific ball that comes down the chute is every bit as improbable as any other . Even so , it is actually extremely more likely that which ever ball rolls down the chute , it’s going to be white as opposed to black . That is the comparison with the universe . Even when each and every particular ball is every bit as improbable , it is always overpoweringly even more probable that it will be a white ball and not a black ball .

            In a similar fashion , from every one of the universes that could exist , any one is equally impossible ; but it surely is extremely more probable that regardless of which one exists , it should be a life-prohibiting one, not a life-permitting universe . Which means that concerning the sweepstakes , if , to your great shock , the black colored ball comes down the chute and you are permitted to live , you ought to undoubtedly deduce that the game had been rigged . In case you still don’t appreciate the significance of this , then let’s sharpen the analogy and thus consider that the black colored ball needed to be selected five instances in a row if you want to live . That would not influence the probability greatly if the odds against picking out the black ball even single time were sufficiently great . Then again , I would say each and every one of us would certainly understand that if that takes place five times in a row , it’s only because the sweepstakes was rigged to enable you to live .

            In this proper analogy , we are not concerned with the reason why you obtained the distinct ball you did – every ball you get is every bit as astronomically impossible as the next . All that we have an interest in is the reason why you received a life-permitting ball and not a life-prohibiting ball . This is simply not sorted out by declaring , “Some ball was required to be present or selected , and so any ball is every bit as improbable as any other .” In precisely the same fashion , we are not focused on the reason why this specific universe exists . What we have an interest in is why a life-permitting universe exists . That dilemma is not resolved by pointing out that some universe must be present and every single universe is similarly improbable . We continue to require a justification for precisely why a universe with such finely tuned, life permitting constants is .

          • JT Rager

            You haven’t justified this probability at all though. You haven’t given any equations, any calculations. You have given no scientific justification. Do you know the the Gibb’s Free energy of DNA formation? Knowing that would definitely put a value on the probability of DNA formation.

            I also don’t think you understand multiverse theory. Not everything is equally improbable. It’s somewhat like quantum mechanics, where a particle can hypothetically be anywhere, and actually might occupy a probability coud that occupies all space. However, it is far more probable to be within a certain distribution depending on its momentum and the potential energy field. Similarly, any universe might exist, but some universes are much more probable than others, and there are probability distributions that determine which ones that we live in.

            The difference between you and me, it seems, is that I understand science and statistics and you don’t. You make all these claims about the improbability of the universe without any justification. All I’m waiting is for some goddamn evidence.

          • Maxximiliann

            Even if veridical, your metaphysically extravagant Anthropic
            Philosophy, that is, “if the Universe contains an exhaustively random
            and infinite number of universes, then anything that can occur with
            non-vanishing probability will occur somewhere,” does nothing to answer
            the question why there is anything instead of just nothing. It just
            punts it further down the line.

            The existence of this supposed multiverse still cries out for an objective explanation.

            To borrow from an illustration by Philosopher Richard Taylor,
            “Imagine you are walking through the woods on a hike and you come across
            a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally
            wonder where that ball came from – what is the explanation of its
            existence? If your hiking buddy said to you, “Don’t worry about it – it
            just exists, inexplicably!,” you would think either that he was crazy or
            that he wanted you to keep on moving. But you wouldn’t take seriously
            the idea that this ball just exists without any explanation of its
            existence.

            Now suppose that the ball, instead of being the size of a basketball,
            were the size of an automobile. Merely increasing the size of the ball
            would not do anything to remove or satisfy the demand for an explanation
            of its existence, would it? Suppose it were the size of a house? Same
            problem! Suppose it were the size of a planet or a galaxy? Same problem!
            Suppose it were the size of the entire universe? Same problem! Merely
            increasing the size of the object does not do anything to remove or
            satisfy the demand for an explanation of its existence. And so I think
            it is very plausible to think that everything that exists has an
            explanation of why it exists.” (http://bit. ly/Pm4s92)

            “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out
            that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe
            and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark.
            Dark would be without meaning.” -C.S. Lewis

            That is to say, when compared to the metaphysically extravagant Anthropic Philosophy, Theism is by far much more modest. (

          • JT Rager

            You call my philosophy extravagant, but yours is more extravagant because it’s almost the same except you have an entire metaphysical being involved (and if its the Christian one, he cares about if I masturbate too, that’s ludicrous!). Also, I have no metaphysical considerations either, so you are characterizing my worldview inaccurately.

            If you want an answer to why there is nothing instead of something, ask a physicist. They seem to have determined that the presence of matter and energy are actually more stable than a state of “nothing”. I’d recommend Lawrence Krauss’s “A Universe From Nothing”.

            Taylor’s example is ludicrous! We don’t just accept that the universe exists! Scientists explore it! It is theists who just tack on some explanation handed down from Bronze Age scribes a few thousand years ago before exploration of nature was even a movement. The scientists would be the ones who investigated the ball. An analogous theist behavior would be to just say, “Oh, a bunch of gnomes created it to store their treasure. This pamphlet told me.”

            I don’t know what you mean by Anthropic Philosophy, since I don’t think the Universe is centered around humans. However, I think the theist’s universe is completely immodest. The idea that a 13.8 billion light-year radius of observable universe occupied by essentially empty vacuum and the fact that we have existed on Earth for a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the time that the universe has existed and thinking that some entity created it just for us? Not to mention, he cares about what I do with my genitals in my spare time. That’s self-centered thinking to the highest possible degree. Take the god out of your universe and you have something closer to mine. How can taking something away be less modest?

          • Maxximiliann

            Except we can´t experience “nothing”, simply because, there are no relations, potentialities, state of affairs, properties, or simply put, there is no “anything” to be experienced.

          • Maxximiliann

            Sure they do. They have no explanation as to why it exists. Their claims amount to the puerile declaration, “It just is.”

          • Maxximiliann

            As with any adoring parent, our Creator is certainly interested in our well being and anything that compromises it. Instead of resenting God Almighty for caring about you how about showing some gratitude?

          • Maxximiliann

            Because that inevitably leaves us with a universe from nothing by nothing for nothing which is absolutely preposterous!

          • JT Rager

            I don’t know your purpose for splitting up comments, but It’s rather annoying.

            1. Right, we haven’t experienced nothing, so how do you know if “nothing” is even possible? If it isn’t, then asking why there is something rather than nothing is meaningless.

            2.

            Sure they do. They have no explanation as to why it exists. Their claims amount to the puerile declaration, “It just is.”

            Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, entirely factually incorrect. They have explanations, using equations, experiments, and models. And they don’t stop. One phenomena explains another and they continue to find the origin of such phenomena each time they find a cause for the first one. If scientists said “it just is” then they would stop experimenting and testing, thus ending the scientific method. This assertion is ludicrous.

            3. I don’t resent any gods because I don’t believe any exist. You make these assertions that he cares yet you cannot even demonstrate his existence, much less his properties.

          • Maxximiliann

            1. Which makes Krauss’ book pure bunk.

            2. Really? Experiments, equations and models? You mean they’ve actually created a universe in the lab?

          • JT Rager

            1. Based on?

            2. They don’t have to make a universe to investigate its properties.

          • Maxximiliann

            i. Based on their mendacious pseudo-definition of “nothing.” ( “The Grand Design”/ ”A Universe From Nothing“ )

            ii. If they can’t make a universe then how do they know what caused the universe to come into existence in the first place?

          • JT Rager

            1. Why the hell do you insist on replying multiple comments at a time? Unless you’d rather me not reply to them all, rather like a Gish Gallop.

            2. Virtual particles do exist in reality, they account for Hawking radiation in black holes and the Casimir effect.

            3. On the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth theorem, do you follow William Lane Craig? It’s fairly obvious. That’s not what the theorem states. It states that for particular models that at some point in the past, it cannot mathematically be classically described, and the model breaks down the further back in time you go. Theists continue to misrepresent the theorem because it seems to be the best evidence that “the universe had a beginning”. Except it isn’t. I quote Alan Guth, “I don’t know whether the universe had a beginning. I suspect the universe didn’t have a beginning. It’s very likely eternal but nobody knows”.

            4. It’s not an infinite regress. It’s not a path from “somewhere”, its just an existence at one point.

            5. Moral obligations don’t require an “authority” to answer to. They could just exist as far as I can tell.

            6. If you’re dismissing Krauss simply based on the title of his book, then I don’t know what I can do to converse with you.

            7. You don’t need to isolate an electron to measure its mass. You don’t need to travel out to a star to assess its chemical makeup. You don’t need to create a universe to observe the big bang’s properties. Science has ways to study things without direct observation.

          • Maxximiliann

            Strawman. I’m dismissing Krauss because he’s a liar. Something cannot come from nothing.

          • Maxximiliann

            Then what is Science’s explanation for why there is anything rather than nothing at all?

          • Maxximiliann

            Sure they do otherwise they have no moral force whatsoever.

          • Maxximiliann

            The premise that all matter and energy began to exist 13.70 billion years ago is not a religious declaration nor a theological one. You can find this statement in any contemporary textbook on astrophysics or cosmology. And it is supported by the vast majority of cosmologists today.

            The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem, for instance, proves that any universe, that has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than one ** must ** have a ** finite beginning **. I’m not making this up. Read the paper in full or watch Vilenkin himself invalidate and impugn beginningless universe models like Eternal Inflation, Cyclic Evolution and Static Seed/Emergent Universe on youtube.

            As such, Vilenkin had this to say regarding the beginning of the universe, “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. *** There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning ***.(Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176) (Emphasis mine.)

            As Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking put it, “the final nail in the coffin of the Steady State theory came with the discovery of the microwave background radiation, in 1965.”

            Emphatically, then, your fervent belief that the universe is infinitely old, beginningless, or eternal has no basis in any respected mainstream scientific theories of the universe. It’s just more atheistic amphigory and wishful thinking.

          • JT Rager

            I don’t know why you aren’t interested in a discussion and would rather simply copy+paste the same arguments I’ve already responded to. It’s clear to me, though, since you’ve done this multiple times before, that you don’t even care what I have to say. You are sticking your fingers in your ears and only are interested in talking to me and not listening. This is not a discussion.

            If you’re interested in responding to what I said regarding the BVL Theorem, I’ll be happy to discuss it. Otherwise, I’m not interested in “conversing with” a brick wall. I predict that you’ll parade around taunting me about how you think you’ve “won” the discussion because my arguments have no merit. You don’t even care about my arguments though, so I think we both really know why I’m going to stop.

          • Maxximiliann

            Folks who claim that the Earth is flat also present rationales and justifications for their stance . All of them opt to turn a blind eye to the enormous and persuasive evidence for a spherical Earth . All the same , they’re invulnerable to hard facts together with logic . They cling to their view with such frenzied desperation and despair they won’t let go despite whatever anyone explains , regardless of the good reasons or arguments they’re presented with .

            Seems very clear to me you happen to be very much like those advocates of a Flat Earth . Sure , you showcase reasons and arguments for your view but the truth is you parrot the same exact defeated reasons and arguments while at the same time avoiding the most apparent facts and arguments that refute your position . I’m not going to kick a menhir then announce I’ve belied your amphigory no more than I’m keen on convincing a Flat Earth exponent that the planet is truly spherical .

            You are free to go your way desperately believing what benighted or moonstruck ideas you desire . All the best !

          • Maxximiliann

            Actually, it would be an infinite regress of Creators. Hence, the First Cause must necessarily be beginningless.

          • Maxximiliann

            “Ex nihilo nihil fit .” Put plainly , something can’t originate from absolutely nothing . ( Not Hawking’s as well as Krauss’ mendacious pseudo-definition of “nothing,” ( “The Grand Design”/ ”A Universe From Nothing“ ) however the notion that signifies no state of affairs , interactions , potentialities , qualities , that is, stated more forcefully , no “anything” . ) If it actually could , why don’t all kinds of things come from nothingness ? Just why aren’t dinosaurs , for example , popping out of thin air , devouring everybody in sight ? Why aren’t we terrified of elephants suddenly popping into being and crushing us while they rained down from the skies ? If nothing can in fact yield anything exactly why would it discriminate ? Conspicuously , then , this contravention of the laws of nature is exposed as misguided special pleading .

            Additionally , from the entirety of human experience , knowledge , wisdom , empiricism as well as findings we’ve distilled many other explicit , irrefragable realities including :

            – A posteriori causality

            – Being does not emerge from nonbeing

            – Whatsoever begins to exist has a cause

            – Information cannot spring from disarray

            – Fine-tuning does not emanate from randomness

            Presented with such unshakable abecedarian truths , the natural questions that follow are , “Where did the universe originate from 13 .70 billion years ago ?” or “What triggered it to come into existence to begin with ?” No matter the cause , it needs to possess a number of key characteristics .

            Which means that –

            ( 1 ) Whatsoever begins to exist has a cause .

            ( 2 ) The space-time universe began to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

            ( 3 ) Thus , the space-time universe has a cause .

            ( 4 ) The cause of the universe is a transcendent , beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent good personal being .

            ( 5 ) A transcendent , beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent good personal being is the definition of God Almighty.

            ( 6 ) Hence , God Almighty caused the universe to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

            Now , let’s take a more detailed look at each one of the premisses of this elegant syllogism . Foremost , this cause must per se be uncaused . Why ? Simply because an infinite regress of causes does not have any basis in reality ; it can’t be turtles all the way down . ( http://bit. ly/1dq935A )

            Next , this uncaused cause needs to transcend space-time since it itself created space-time . It is , as a result , spaceless .

            Third , considering the fact that this uncaused cause exists beyond space and time it is must be a non-physical or immaterial cause . Why ? Because physical stuff exists only in space – they possess dimension .

            Fourth , this uncaused cause must invariably also be timeless for the simple fact that it itself doesn’t exist in space-time .

            Fifth , it must likewise be changeless . As I’m sure you’re well aware , all of matter is present in a state of continuous flux . This is particularly observable at the atomic level . Given that this uncaused cause is immaterial it is not governed by the same forces that alter matter , and so , is unchanging .

            Sixth , this uncaused cause is without a doubt unimaginably powerful , if not omnipotent , for it produced matter , energy , space and time into existence entirely on its own .

            So , to sum up , whatever it is that brought about the universe to come into existence 13 .70 billion years ago it needs to be beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging and omnipotent .

            Still we’re not done for there are two more attributes of this uncaused cause that we are able to ascertain from what we perceive of the universe . Before we identify these , though , we first want to take a finer look at cause and effect . Here’s exactly what I mean : if a cause is sufficient to yield it’s effect then the effect also needs to be present . The pair are joined at the hip , so to speak ; you can’t have one without the other .

            Permit me to borrow from an illustration to help make this sharper . “Suppose that the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0°C . If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity . It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago . Once the cause is given , the effect must be given as well .” ( http ://bit .ly/WQtgZY )

            The problem is , if we have indeed a timeless , transcendent cause how come the effect isn’t permanent as well ? Stated another way , if this timeless , transcendent cause in fact brought the universe into being , why hasn’t the universe always been ? Just how can a cause be eternal yet its effect commence a finite time ago ? We are aware the universe is roughly about 13 .70 billion years old but as you see we’ve further deduced that whatsoever brought about the universe has to be transcendent as well as timeless .

            The one and only way that is feasible is if this timeless , transcendent , uncaused cause were at the same time a free agent – a being with free will who is able to operate of its own volition . Naturally we all know free will is the hallmark of personhood .

            Last but certainly not least , this beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent being must be unimaginably good . Why ? Suppose we admit for the sake of argument that he’s evil . As this being is evil , that suggests he fails to discharge his moral duties . But then exactly where do those originate from ? Just how can this evil being have obligations he is violating ? Who forbids him to do the immoral things he does ? Right away , we discover such an evil being simply cannot be supreme . There needs to be a being who is even greater , one who is absolute goodness himself and thus the source of the moral responsibilities this other prefers to shirk . Therefore , there must necessarily exist a supreme being who is all powerful , all good and all loving ; One who is the very paradigm of good .

            So here we arrive at this uncaused cause of the universe 13 .70 billion years ago that is beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent and personal being who is all good and all loving .

            This is to say – God Almighty.

            Q.E.D

          • JT Rager

            These truths aren’t as “unshakeable” or “abecedarian” as you would think. Look into quantum physics.

            Whatever begins to exist has a cause

            No. Virtual particles are uncaused and pop into and out of existence all the time.

            The space-time universe began to exist 13 .70 billion years ago .

            How do you know it began to exist then? Even physicists aren’t sure what happened “before” the Big Bang or even if there was a before.

            Fifth , it must likewise be changeless . As I’m sure you’re well aware , all of matter is present in a state of continuous flux . This is particularly observable at the atomic level . Given that this uncaused cause is immaterial it is not governed by the same forces that alter matter , and so , is unchanging .

            If it’s not governed by the same forces that we are familiar with, then we are unable to state anything about it. You have no justification for this.

            If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity . It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago .

            You could say this about any state of anything, and yet physicists don’t assume this. We also are hypothetically living in a spacially infinite universe, and yet we don’t have these issues with being somewhere in infinity. Why you make an exception for temporal infinities?

            There needs to be a being who is even greater , one who is absolute goodness himself and thus the source of the moral responsibilities this other prefers to shirk .

            No there doesn’t. We don’t need to have an authority to recognize harm and well-being.

            You also didn’t justify why the “good” one must be more powerful than the “evil” one.

            You can stop acting like a pompous philosophical ass and say QED. It makes you look immature, especially when you don’t respond to my responses to your arguments that are full of holes.

          • Maxximiliann

            Except that, like imaginary time, infinity, imaginary numbers, etc., etc., virtual particles don’t actually exist in reality. They are merely mathematical constructs.

          • Maxximiliann

            The premise that all matter and energy began to exist 13.70 billion years ago is not a religious declaration nor a theological one. You can find this statement in any contemporary textbook on astrophysics or cosmology. And it is supported by the vast majority of cosmologists today.

            The Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem, for instance, proves that any universe, that has, on average, a rate of expansion greater than one ** must ** have a ** finite beginning **. I’m not making this up. Read the paper in full or watch Vilenkin himself invalidate and impugn beginningless universe models like Eternal Inflation, Cyclic Evolution and Static Seed/Emergent Universe on youtube.

            As such, Vilenkin had this to say regarding the beginning of the universe, “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. *** There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning ***. (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176) (Emphasis mine.)

            As Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Stephen Hawking put it, “the final nail in the coffin of the Steady State theory came with the discovery of the microwave background radiation, in 1965.”

            Emphatically, then, your fervent belief that the universe is infinitely old, beginningless, or eternal has no basis in any respected mainstream scientific theories of the universe. It’s just more atheistic amphigory and wishful thinking.

            This creates the necessity for a first uncaused-cause. After all, something cannot come from nothing as I’ve already shared. I’ve also explained that this first uncaused efficient cause must also, by necessity, be transcendent, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, unchanging, omnipotent, personal and good. As it turns out, such is the very definition of God Almighty.

          • Maxximiliann

            Because an infinite regress of causes does not have any basis in reality ; it can’t be turtles all the way down . ( http://bit. ly/1dq935A )

          • Maxximiliann

            This beginningless , spaceless , immaterial , timeless , unchanging , omnipotent being must be unimaginably good . Why ? Suppose we admit for the sake of argument that he’s evil . As this being is evil , that suggests he fails to discharge his moral duties . But then exactly where do those originate from ? Just how can this evil being have obligations he is violating ? Who forbids him to do the immoral things he does ? Right away , we discover such an evil being simply cannot be supreme . There needs to be a being who is even greater , one who is absolute goodness himself and thus the source of the moral responsibilities this other prefers to shirk . Therefore , there must necessarily exist a supreme being who is all powerful , all good and all loving ; One who is the very paradigm of good .

          • Maxximiliann

            If exceptional intellect is required to merely duplicate designs and systems present in nature ( Biomimetics ) then much more the original being replicated. Creation is thus proof of an Almighty Creator.

          • JT Rager

            Argumentum ad nauseams aren’t going to help either.

          • jfigdor

            You are just preaching, Silas. You aren’t engaging with his arguments at all.

          • Silas

            Thank you. I’ll try better then.

          • jfigdor

            “If this is the only life we have, where does our moral precepts come from?”

            Total non sequitur, here. If this life is the only life we have, our moral precepts come from that fact. Murder is wrong because this is the only life we have to live and it would be wrong to deprive someone of it.

          • Silas

            No it doesn’t. We kill ourselves and purposely hurt others and destroy our environment.

        • Silas

          I just posted an “article” I read about the Big Bang theory. Obviously, I can’t evaluate how accurate it is. But it does make you think.

    • Maxximiliann

      Except that while Science may explain how, it can’t explain why. For instance, why is there anything instead of just nothingness?

  • Doug Wilkening

    All this brings to mind a point made by psychologist and philosopher William James in his classic lecture series, “The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature.”

    James pointed out that science, the arts and the religions are all different and valid ways of knowing. Each of them yields certain kinds of truths about ourselves and about the universe in which we live. Each alone gives only a partial and incomplete picture of the world. If the scope of each is correctly understood, they are not opponents, but are complementary.

    • Carstonio

      While I haven’t read James, my disagreement with that point is that claims of fact deserve scrutiny. An assertion that gods exist is no different than an assertion that, say, Francis Bacon wrote Shakespere’s plays. If the former cannot be proven or disproven, then the problem is with how the assertion is structured or what assumptions went into the assertion. We shouldn’t be expected to simply accept the assertion as fact without skepticism.

      I’d like to see religions make no assertions about beings or phenomena, leaving the existence of things like gods as an open question. Instead, religions should address meaning as created individually by humans. “Why are we here” is a meaningless question because it assumes an inherent purpose, assigned like a Social Security number. Questions that are the proper realm for religion involve how we treat others, how we pursue happiness in ways that don’t interfere with others’ pursuit of their own happiness, how we relate to others and to the world around us. In other words, religion should be about questions of value.

      • Doug Wilkening

        You may want to start your reading with Bertrand Russell’s “Problems Of Philosophy.” Since Russell was a professed atheist, you may be more inclined to consider his views. Think about the conundrum of Bertrand Russell’s Table, which he describes in the first few chapters of his book. Russell proved, basically, that facts are unknowable until after you make a variety of assumptions about what they ought to be.

        Russell showed, among other things, that philosophical Idealism can not be disproved. Idealism, briefly, is the position that there’s nothing at all out there, it’s all in your mind. You can’t disprove that using logic, Russell showed, you just have to make certain assumptions and move on. Bottom line, we all start with assumptions about our world, and we accept a certain base set of facts arbitrarily, even if we don’t realize that’s what we’re doing.

        Russell’s proofs do not alter scientific conclusions once the scientific method has been presumed as axiomatic, but they do illustrate the rather severe limitations of that method as a way of understanding all of reality. In other words, there’s reality out there that science can’t show us.

        • Carstonio

          Don’t misread my original post as proclaiming materialism or atheism. A challenge to an assertion of fact that things exist beyond sensory perception doesn’t equate to a counterassertion of fact that no such things exist. I readily acknowledge that such things may exist, but may is the operative word. I make no assertion of fact about whether gods exist or don’t exist – I don’t have the knowledge to do so.

          Of course idealism or solipsism can’t be disproven. There’s no reason to either prove or disprove them since they are useless as hypotheses, being unfalsifiable by default. They don’t allow us to make predictions about what we observe. They’re fascinating philosophical constructs, but empirically they’re indistinguishable from speculation. The same is true about any assertion about the existence of gods.

          How would you or I or anyone else know that there’s a reality that science can’t show us? Again, that’s obviously possible, but if we can’t perceive such a reality, we would have no way of knowing whether it exists or not. There’s no observations from which to construct a falsifiable hypothesis, so anyone’s speculations are no more valid than anyone else’s. The most intellectually prudent course is to say that one doesn’t know whether such a reality exists.

          • Doug Wilkening

            Thank you for continuing a very interesting discussion.

            Based on case studies, William James concluded that “saints”, or spiritual savants, do in fact perceive “God”, or spiritual entities, with the same degree of apparent reality and certainty that you or I perceive a table or a chair. And who is to say their perceptions are wrong?

            The same is true of Wiccans who converse with their spirit guides, or certain Christians who have a “personal relationship with Jesus” that goes beyond just repeating platitudes that they heard in church. James noted, and I agree with him, that you will never convince such persons that a spiritual world does not exist, for the simple reason that they have seen and felt it just as surely as you see and feel the chair you now sit on.

            It may be more correct to say that some of us are capable of seeing through to the other side of Saint Paul’s “dark glass,” whilst others of us simply do not have that perceptive ability.

          • Carstonio

            I have no interest in convincing them that a spiritual world doesn’t exist, because I don’t know if it does or not. But yet they insist that everyone in the world accept their testimonies as irrefutable proof that a spiritual world exists as fact. I could suggest other possible explanations that don’t assume a spiritual world. But the real problem is that the accounts of the experiences are unverifiable. If I say I’m thinking of a purple elephant, you would have no way of knowing that I’m actually thinking of that animal. You would only know that I say I do. You and I don’t know that others have seen and felt a spiritual world, only that others say they do – there’s no way to independently verify this.

            Even if we could establish as fact that the experiences happened, attributing them to a spiritual world is still an assumption. And it would be an assumption to attribute them to purely “natural” causes. (A third possibility is that the two are the same world and the divide is merely an assumption in itself.) Determining what is factual should require more than simply accepting someone else’s word without question.

          • NStormRider

            Just a curiousity, but how does that allow any study of psychology? Do minds exist, then? Do other people’s unobserved experiences? Do scientific experiments we were not present for exist?

            Even if we repeat them, does that verify them? Would a consistency of spiritual experiences validate them?

            When should a person decide that they cannot trust the evidence of their senses and the integrity of their mind?

          • Carstonio

            While I don’t claim to be an expert in psychology, I suspect that whether the mind exists makes little difference in practice, since the results would be the same regardless of the assumption. A hypothesis isn’t necessarily a claim of fact – it’s a way of predicting observations.

            My point is limited to claims of communication with a spiritual realm, or of events in a spiritual realm causing events to happen in this realm. Those call for a higher standard of proof because of the extraordinary nature of the claims. I’m talking not about individual belief where the person may not even care if others have the same belief, but an assertion that is presented as purported fact where anyone who questions the assertion is wrong or even evil.

            When Pat Robertson claims that his god inflicts hurricanes and earthquakes as punishments, he’s essentially cheating. There’s no way to conclusively disprove his claims, and he essentially says that the claims can’t even be challenged because they come from a transcendent authority that can never be challenged.

          • Doug Wilkening

            Good point. During the mid-20th century, physicists and other “hard” scientists, fresh from their successes of relativity and quantum theory, accused the field of Psychology of being unscientific and therefore somehow invalid for that reason. Psychology, in order to be more “scientific”, as apparently was the fashion, responded with the behaviorism of B.F. Skinner, which can tell us, reliably and reproducibly, exactly how rats will behave under controlled circumstances. But behaviorism was a diversion now largely abandoned; its fruits in terms of understanding the human mind have been disappointing.

            Psychology is a discipline of its own, with its own valid methods of inquiry, which are not the scientific method of the physicist or the chemist, but nevertheless yield great truth and insight into the human condition. The same can be said of Sociology and History. Likewise poetry, the visual arts, etc. Definitely not scientific in any way at all, but extremely valuable for teaching important truths about the human condition that science and reason can never approach. Likewise faith and religion, even more so.

            Even though I am a scientist and engineer by trade, I don’t let my job dictate my world view. That would make me far too narrow a person for my own liking. I agree with Shakespeare (or Bacon, or whoever) that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene V).

          • NStormRider

            Thank you. As an engineering hopeful myself – and a very technical person at present – balancing both the outlook of faith and the outlook of reason is very important to me. I don’t feel that either invalidates the other.

          • Silas

            Extremely relevant to this discussion, NStormRider. Very good.

          • Silas

            ” You and I don’t know that others have seen and felt a spiritual world, only that others say they do – there’s no way to independently verify this.”

            I think there is. Just look at their lives, or better…how their lives changed. (I don’t want to commit the unforgivable and outrageous mistake to say that Christians or spiritual people are better then you or atheists). To “know” is something extremely powerful, and it’s not subject to the scientific method or empiricism to qualify it as being true or not. I do appreciate your views, Carstonio.

          • Carstonio

            That change in their lives doesn’t constitute proof of a spiritual world. That’s simply the assumption that an event that seems unexplainable must have a supernatural cause, what some folks call “God of the gaps.” Don’t confuse my stance with an assertion that spiritual worlds are nonexistent – instead I challenge the assertion that such worlds exist as irrefutable fact. Either such worlds exist or they don’t, and the answer would be true no matter what any human believes.

          • Silas

            I understand your point…I think. So, are you trying to say that you can’t proof either way?

          • Carstonio

            It would be more accuracy to say that I have no way of knowing either way.

            Elsewhere I’ve criticized anti-theists who slam believers as stupid and who wrongly condemn all religion as bad, and they’ve accused me of being an apologist for religion. And I’ve condemned fundamentalists who seek to feed the First Amendment into the shredder and have been called a Christian-hater. If someone wants me to accept as undisputed fact that a supernatural world exists, or as fact that no such world exists, then the person should present more than just his or her word for it. But if the person simply holds a belief and doesn’t care if anyone else shares that belief, that’s not my concern as long as the person doesn’t use the belief to justify others.

            The relevant difference between the two positions is that a supernatural world doesn’t work as a hypothesis, because the idea is unfalsifiable. Any possible observations are compatible with the idea. It’s so broad as to explain everything, which amounts to explaining nothing. I think of it as attempting to fill a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle with putty. A hypothesis that cannot be proven wrong isn’t inherently wrong, just useless for making predictions.

          • Silas

            I get you. I understand. Thank you.

          • moon_bucket

            False beliefs can have utility.

        • moon_bucket

          I’m willing to bet that Russell looked both ways before he crossed the street.

          • Doug Wilkening

            Yea, but Russell never believed in solipsism, he just proved that you can’t disprove it, then he moved on. He was a mathematician-philosopher who was interested in the properties of logic.

            There was, however, in the 1970’s, a popular form of functional solipsism called “Est”, the movement founded by Werner Erhard. Believers included John Denver, Valerie Harper and Yoko Ono. So if you’re wondering why Yoko never paid any attention to you, it’s because she always knew you weren’t there.

      • Silas

        I appreciate your thoughts. However, how do you know that there is no purpose for our existence? Can you be absolutely sure?

        • Carstonio

          I don’t claim that existence lacks inherent purpose, because I don’t know if it does or doesn’t. But the burden of proof is on any claim that such inherent purpose exists, and challenging the claim doesn’t constitute making the opposite claim.

          • Silas

            Agree!

  • Covenant45

    The universe and science is wonderful because of its creator. It is great that we study science an all that we can see – but in our great thinking we are like those blind men with the elephant. We are sitting around like philosophers behaving like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie – doing wonderful tricks for dogs and receiving our treats … Praise.
    Like Rinnie & Lassie we are limited by form – we cannot monitor or pass judgment on God because our minds and past knowledge is limited. It is in the spiritual realm where true enlightenment lies. When grains of sand or drops of water qualify judge the beach – we will understand fully the Most High God.

    Sons and Daughters of God must awaken to

  • Covenant45

    Carl Sagan was grate – I am not a poor speller … my point is was Sagan greater than Einstein who said ” imagination is better than knowledge”? The most high realm is referred to as imagination by metaphysics and those entities who somewhat understand the big picture of life in the flesh. Most books on religion would be long burned or cast in the dust if we expect an easy translation of words written in times where they could be stoned, crucified, or burned for those words; hence much is parables or stories meant to deliver a point.

  • Carstonio

    Great observations. My own theory as to why Sagan seemed more menacing? It wasn’t just his gentleness, it was also his eloquent refutation of the idea that the universe is all about us as a species. Too many religions, especially the Abrahamic ones, see humanity as the ultimate creation or see the universe as created for us. Copernicus, Darwin, Hubble and others have shown in different scientific fields that such attitudes have no basis. Sagan gave us the necessary perspective on the history of science. He didn’t necessarily argue against religion, but he did refute the idea of the universe being a mere conjurer’s trick. Creationists blame the existence of death and suffering on humans, and while religious folks who accept evolution are right to say that the creationist god is too small, ultimately the creationist visions of humanity, universe and even life are too small. Fibbs is right that science is the most sweeping adventure we can know, and I’m grateful that Sagan was around during my lifetime to express wonder at that adventure.

    • Maxximiliann

      And “if all you have is a hammer , everything looks like a nail .” -Maslow

      Stated more explicitly , your Scientism or just Radical Positivism is
      an awfully parochial or small-minded philosophy of knowledge . On this
      opinion there is certainly absolutely nothing good or evil , right or
      wrong , exquisite or hideous . Even so, can it be tenable to believe
      that experimental truth is the one and only truth that exists ? That
      simply no aesthetic , moral , metaphysical or otherwise putative facts
      obtain ?

      Abiding by this view , for starters , the Atheist who rapes a little
      kid to death ( or engages in this: http://bit. ly/1bu2CrY ) is doing
      absolutely nothing wrong . Exactly why ought we agree to such a
      conclusion resulting from an epistemological limit ? Isn’t this an
      indication that you ought to unlock the ambit of your beliefs and
      incorporate all the other different types of truth that abound?

      Withal , the basic principles of Gödel’s Second Incompleteness
      Theorem altogether gainsays Radical Positivism’s primary assumption . In
      fact , Science is suffused with assumptions that can never be
      scientifically verified . The epistemology of radical positivism , as a
      result , abrogates science itself . Take for instance , the concept of
      induction. It simply cannot scientifically defended . Attempting to
      render a conclusive inductive line of reasoning for radical positivism
      is ridiculous as this begs the question by presupposing the legitimacy
      of inductive reasoning to begin with !

      All the more devastating to your beliefs is the fact that radical
      positivism is self-refuting . At its heart , this pernicious conviction
      declares that we must not accept any concept that cannot be
      scientifically tested . Yet what about that very supposition ? It can’t
      per se be scientifically tested out much less corroborated . As a result
      we ought not believe it . Your trusty Radical Positivism, as a result,
      asphyxiates itself .

      Or alternatively , as Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem made evident ,
      ‘Whatsoever may be bounded cannot explicate itself without referring to
      that which is without itself – some postulate whose certainty is
      unobtainable .’

      This is just what famed Physicist and Mathematician James Clerk
      Maxwell alluded to when he came to the conclusion , “Science is
      incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing .
      We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have
      admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it
      must have been created .”

      Demonstrably , then , your current opposition to as well as distaste
      for the idea of God’s presence is not evidentiary, just philosophical .
      It is actually your ethos – and only your ethos – that occludes your
      path to your Creator’s truths .

      • Silas

        I should let you do all the talking. I just “babble here”. You talk with philosophical and scientific property. I would like to correspond with you…if you may or have time. (silasmarques@hotmail). I have a lot to learn from you.

        • Maxximiliann

          It would be my pleasure. Emailing you now :)

          • Silas

            Look at my recent posting on the Big Bang Theory…if you want.

          • Maxximiliann

            Sure. Can you give me a link to it?

  • Dissenting Citizen

    Great rendition of the stark contrast between Sagan and Dawkins-Hitchens. I would thank you if that could do justice to what you have said and how well you have said it. Thanks does even less for Sagan’s contribution to an entire generation. I watched Cosmos in the 80s but that did not shake my faith. It had already been shaken by a silly teenage thought upon looking at the sky: “Did God send messengers like Christ and Mohammad to all those stars? If yes, why no mention of it? If not, how would they know free sex is not on?” Of course, I assumed with insufficient evidence that “they” existed. Sagan with his billions and billions and the Pioneer 10 plaque made me almost certain that they do. What a hope, to meet them one day. Lovely, loving man. Thanks anyway for reminding us who he was. Good to know that not everyone believes in militant atheism.

  • http://vinimarques.com/ Vini Marques

    What a beautiful, thoughtful account of your story and newfound love for science. Some elements are all too similar to my own journey. Thank you.

  • http://www.techthoughts.net/ Daniel Bastian

    Thank you so much for sharing this, as it mirrors mine. Sagan holds a special place in my own intellectual journey, reviving a pulse which continues to reverberate in my life, something subliminal yet concrete. His books unshackled my imagination. His words spoke for me. He gave me a voice. A man of great passion and fierce intellect, he had the uncanny ability to ambush the heart with an equal measure of poetry and humble curiosity. His words can be understood by anyone who takes the time to read them. Carl synthesized my deepest thoughts and pointed me toward new horizons. He opened my eyes to a post-religious ethos and, more than anyone else, inspired me to abandon the intellectual celibacy of my youth and secure a personal relationship with reality and the cosmos.

    If Sagan communicated anything, it’s that science is a unification measure, something in which all of us can partake. It was also by reading The Demon-Haunted World that I was transported to a higher dimension of wonder I never thought possible.

    • saneandreasonable

      If there is one thing that I observed about the guy, is that he was very smart, and saw the awe of the universe, and the complexity of all of the matter and energy, even biological beings that are VERY complex, and he saw no creator in all of it. It boggles the mind that anyone could not think there is an intelligence behind it all.

      • gimpi1

        Why?

  • Silas

    Dear Brandon – Why would a universe (or multi-unverses) starting from “who knows what” or when be more awesome to you then this same universe and life have it’s origin through an eternal creator (intelligent design) since we can’t 100% know what’s really going on? Some of those astronomers you mentioned were men of faith and believed in the existence of God. Study a bit what knowing really means and entails, and then I suggest you re-evaluate your stand on this, if I may.

    • jfigdor

      Because it is based on empirical evidence and a realistic epistemology, instead of just cleaving to the ancient book of Jewish fairy tales?

      • Silas

        To believe in the existence of God (or Higher Power) is much more then simply believing in an “ancient book of Jewish fairy tales”..and there is much more then “fairy tales” in the Bible. Have you ever read it with an open mind? My belief that I’m here due to intelligent design has many other sources then simply the Bible. The Universe, for instance. What it takes (chemistry, bio-chemistry, physics, natural laws…etc.) to make complex life possible in this planet.

      • Silas

        Empirical evidence? Are you sure? I wonder if you are really willing to sit down and read (and maybe watch videos) that will challenge those “empirical evidences”.

    • Andy

      because then we truly are just apes living on a blue rock hurtling through space in a universe that has existed for billions of years before us and will exist for billions afterwards. That we are not pieces of a design or cogs in a wheel but are just results of the evolutionary process on this planet. We are not special, we have no purpose, but in the same way we are special because we are alive and we are here and for this brief part of time we are aware. To be here today, despite what may have been put in front of us, despite the odds, despite the billions and billions of things that had to happen to make what we have today, to be here today to ask these questions and to have the chance to discuss these things is truly awe inspiring.

      • Silas

        To me it’s amazing how sure you are, despite the odds. Its not only the “billions and billions of things” ..its what is NEEDED for only one thing out of that one billion that had to happen in that exact order so we can life as we know it today. Its truly awesome, but extremely unlikely. The chances of winning a huge jack pot in the lottery is infinitely more probable. So it makes me wonder why many people who believe in this highly improbable occurrence don’t believe enough that they can win the lottery, and play it.

        • Andy

          I think you’ll find that that is a false equivalency. People win the lottery jackpot all the time despite the odds. But choosing not to spend your money on a shot in the dark is not the same as not believing in evolution.
          It seems to me that you look at this as if billions of things had to happen for us to exist, and those odds are so impossible then there had to be a guiding hand – but the odds are only impossible if humans were your end goal.
          What I am saying is that there is no end goal. Humans are not the pinnacle, or the end, or the answer. We’re just a cosmic accident. We have no greater purpose, we are just the results of the random events that happened before us.
          So yes if you look at us going backwards the odds of everything happening in a certain way to result in us are astronomical, while if you look at it from an unplanned, undersigned way, there were really only two results – either humans exist or they don’t. There is no plan. There is no grand design. And the universe doesn’t know we exist and won’t mourn us when we are gone.

          • Silas

            (1) Belief (in the way we are talking) = certainty. You seem certain that we are here as a result of evolution. I know that we are here as a result of a master plan. You believe that we are here besides the highly improbability. But you don’t believe in a much smaller probability. But I can go along with you and admit that my example isn’t the best and can have its flaws.

            (2) No. However, if evolution is correct, we are only here because billions of things, in the exact order, happened, independently if this was the end goal or not.

            (3) I do think about that. If there is no purpose, one day there might not be history either. There will be nothing to be known, unless other forms of life are out there.

        • moon_bucket

          We don’t know the odds because we don’t have a fundamental theory of everything yet. And we don’t know how many times the game has been played. If a leprechaun spawns every time someone draws a royal flush then the leprechaun probably thinks it’s a miracle. But it happens every day somewhere and when it doesn’t happen he doesn’t know about it.

    • moon_bucket

      Many things are possible and it’s not 50/50. You could have multiple creators, sequential creators, ineffective demi-urge creators, evil platonic demi-urges, etc, etc. Or mindless energy performing essentially the same function without the milk and cookies at the end. Given the lack of evidence and obvious problems of the bible itself I don’t know why you’d want to jump to any conclusions.

      • Silas

        Again, the Bible isn’t my only source of belief in a Creator. I think most Christians will say that. (I’m not sure about the others). If you’re an agnostic, fine. I can take your argument. But if not, you’re no better off “jumping to any conclusion” either…whatever that might be.

        • moon_bucket

          I’m agnostic toward the ultimate cause. I’m atheistic toward a specific religion like Christianity. Way too many problems with it.

          • Silas

            I agree…”way too many problems with it”. However, is it with Christianity per se or is it with many of those who say they represent it? Its really interesting, because I find too many problems with the “evidences” scientists claim to have.

    • Vincent Vega

      I have made this thought circuit many times and always reach the same conclusion there is no god.

      • Silas

        Could it be because you don’t find satisfying explanations? Or is it because Science is all that matters for you withing the infinite gamut of human existence and experience? (Please…I’m not criticizing you at all. Just trying to understand…that’s all)

  • TheUnknownPundit

    Nicely put, sir. Like you, things I learned over several years made it impossible for me to believe in the existence of a deity. When I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist, I felt a piece of mind that I’d never felt as a Christian.

    • Silas

      This is very interesting to me and curious. Wow! A lot of people would say that they felt piece of mind when they finally had a spiritual encounter with Jesus. Doesn’t the Truth suppose to set you free? I wonder how Christianity was “sold” to you.

  • John Therrien Dale

    Dear Friends,

    In response to a comment below, IMO, we need to be careful in defending science
    by saying that (all) religions are human-created, for this is a statement that
    cannot be verified and thus is itself not sufficiently scientific in spirit. Let me spell
    out why:

    (1) For practical reasons, it is humanly impossible to examine every religion
    and to somehow ascertain and verify where it “really” originated: i.e., from a
    “human” or a “superhuman” source.

    (2) Even if one could somehow prove that at least one religion is totally
    “human-created” (whatever that may mean), one cannot validly deduce from this
    that all religions are therefore purely human-created.

    (3) What does the distinction of sources really mean? What are the criteria for distinguishing human-created from super-human created religions? Is there a necessary bright line demarcation? What would a superhumanly created religion necessarily look like?

    (4) Consider, on the contrary, the fact that light illuminates from whatever lamp it
    shines. Therefore, what matters is not the lamp but the light and its intensity. The question of the source, besides being unverifiable, is thus also somewhat irrelevant.

    The real question, IMO, is not the source but, again, the effect of its light
    on the recipient and the stability of the light. From where can we get consistent illumination?

    What matters is what we are doing with the light we’ve got in order to get
    more light.

    Science is a systematic way of getting more light on testable logical or
    factual truths. Ethical religion of logical necessity must support this effort
    in order for it to be consistent with its fundamental axioms and virtues (truthfulness,
    trustworthiness, etc.).

    The teachings underlying the Baha’i world community are very explicit on the
    underlying oneness of reality and the harmony of the analytic (scientific) and
    intuitive-emotional (“religious”) approaches to it.

    Here is ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of the founder, Baha’u’llah (a title
    meaning “Glory of te Lord”), speaking in London in 1912 and giving a synopsis
    of his father’s teachings on building what we could now rightly call Earth Community
    and the rule of good will on Earth in fulfillment of the civilizing mission of
    religion:

    “Firstly: He lays stress on the search for Truth. This is most important,
    because the people are too easily led by tradition. It is because of this that
    they are often antagonistic to each other, and dispute with one another.

    “But the manifesting of Truth discovers the darkness and becomes the cause
    of Oneness of faith and belief: because Truth cannot be two! That is not
    possible.

    “Secondly: Bahá’u’lláh taught the Oneness of humanity; that is to say, all
    the children of men are under the mercy of the Great God. They are the sons of
    one God; they are trained by God. He has placed the crown of humanity on the
    head of every one of the servants of God. Therefore all nations and peoples
    must consider themselves brethren. They are all descendants from Adam. They are
    the branches, leaves, flowers and fruits of One Tree. They are pearls from one
    shell. But the children of men are in need of education and civilization, and
    they require to be polished, till they become bright and shining. [The reference to Adam is, of course, poetic and metaphorical. JD]

    “Man and woman both should be educated equally and equally regarded.

    “It is racial, patriotic, religious and class prejudice, that has been the
    cause of the destruction of Humanity.

    “Thirdly: Bahá’u’lláh taught, that Religion is the chief foundation of
    Love and Unity and the cause of Oneness. If a religion become the cause of
    hatred and disharmony, it would be better that it should not exist. To be
    without such a religion is better than to be with it.

    “Fourthly: Religion and Science are inter-twined with each other and
    cannot be separated. These are the two wings with which humanity must fly. One
    wing is not enough. Every religion which does not concern itself with Science
    is mere tradition, and that is not the essential. Therefore science, education
    and civilization are most important necessities for the full religious life.

    “Fifthly: The Reality of the divine Religions is one, because the Reality
    is one and cannot be two. All the prophets are united in their message, and
    unshaken. They are like the sun; in different seasons they ascend from
    different rising points on the horizon. Therefore every ancient prophet gave
    the glad tidings of the future, and every future has accepted the past.

    “Sixthly: Equality and Brotherhood must be established among all members of mankind. This is according to Justice. The general rights of mankind must be guarded and preserved.”

    (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 27)

    Is there in fact what can be called “revelation” from a source other than
    human? The Baha’I writings say yes, but this doesn’t mean that such information is contrary to or “above” science or reason. To the contrary! Revelation represents a scientific approach to elevating and educating humanity that is also at the same time poetic and artistic. (God “knows what He’s doing.”)

    From Baha’u’llah’s own writings (translated into English from the original
    Arabic or Farsi), we read, for example:

    “O My servants! My holy, My divinely ordained Revelation may be likened unto an
    ocean in whose depths are concealed innumerable pearls of great price, of
    surpassing luster. It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive
    to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the
    eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been pre-ordained in God’s irrevocable and hidden Tablets. If no one be willing to direct his steps towards its shores, if every one should fail to arise and find Him, can such a failure be said to have robbed this ocean of its power or to have lessened, to any degree, its treasures? … O My servants! The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.”

    (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 325)

    Again while in London, ‘Abdu’l-Baha is summarized as having said:

    “If any religion rejected Science and knowledge, that religion was false.
    Science and Religion should go forward together; indeed, they should be like
    two fingers of one hand.

    (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 71)

    Finally, the Baha’i teachings distinguish between the light of God and the
    purity of the mirrors that reflect it. ‘Abdu’l-Baha says:

    “Lastly the perfect man, the Prophet, is one who is transfigured, one who
    has the purity and clearness of a perfect mirror — one who reflects the Sun of
    Truth. Of such a one — of such a Prophet and Messenger — we can say that the
    Light of Divinity with the heavenly Perfections dwells in him.

    “If we claim that the sun is seen in the mirror, we do not mean that the sun
    itself has descended from the holy heights of his heaven and entered into the
    mirror! This is impossible. The Divine Nature is seen in the Manifestations and
    its Light and Splendor are visible in extreme glory.

    “Therefore, men have always been taught and led by the Prophets of God. The
    Prophets of God are the Mediators of God. All the Prophets and Messengers have
    come from One Holy Spirit and bear the Message of God, fitted to the age in
    which they appear. The One Light is in them and they are One with each other.
    But the Eternal does not become phenomenal; neither can the phenomenal become
    Eternal.”

    (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 23)

    Thus, the Baha’i teachings reject a literal “incarnation” doctrine and any teaching that destroys the uniy of the Prophets.

    In conclusion, “religion,” which etymologically means “reconnection” and
    concerns the relation of the part to the whole, is fitted to humanity, but the
    light of, and truths about, universal reality do not originate in or depend on
    humanity and are not in a primary sense “human-created.” However, they are
    indeed necessarily reflected in the mirrors of human understandings, and,
    methodologically, scientific testing and a passionate search for reality such as magnificently exemplified by Carl Sagan are the best ways of polishing the cognitive and conative mirrors of our inner being.

    With all respect, when things are connectively understood, there is no reason to oppose religion and awe or to equate he word “religion” with the notion of blind faith or untestable dogma.

    Science and religion, knowledge and love, are complementarities, two wings of one bird. Knowledge without love, and love without knowledge, are both defective.

    Let the bird fly with both wings!

    Yours,

    John Dale

    • Silas

      Thank you fore sharing….

  • D Sims

    Brandon, you write, “That was when I discovered science. And Carl Sagan.”

    I too found a great love for science growing up. I was exactly the opposite of you though. I loved science and especially Astronomy so much that I constantly loved to read about our universe and on many summer nights go out in a field on our farm and lay on the ground and look at the vast universe for all its worth.

    I too loved to watch the documentaries, including Sagan’s great way of getting everyone so interested and excited over the wonders of the universe.

    But unlike you, I knew nothing of the Word of God, was not raised in any church environment and I had the same nagging questions that would come to me but different than yours.

    I saw Carl Sagan as still just a man like me. Matter of fact when he died that proved it.
    Something inside me kept saying there is something or someone much greater than me. The big bang did not satisfy my thirst for truth, nor did Carl’s excitement over the universe. Then the Hubble telescope gave us even more distant views into this wonder and glory.

    One day as I watched a Discovery channel special on the universe I heard several scientists say, “We today truly only understand 3-4% of the truth of the universe, the rest are just theories.” Then Someone found me, the Creator, who was revealed to me in the very things that I loved to learn about. The voice that the universe and all of creation cries out finally broke through and it became clear that we as humans are just one small part of a very large creation. The intelligence behind all of this is far beyond and unsearchable than any man could ever dream of knowing.
    We supposedly have evolved over million of years yet today we only can know for a fact 3-4% of the universe. Will it take another million years to know 3% more?

    Amazingly I discovered a small verse in the Bible that said, even creation speaks of the Glory of God. I heard that voice even before I knew this verse.
    So now my Fathers voice, like a clarion call in a dense miasma of irrationality, can still be heard, clear and true.
    I pray one day you will once again hear His voice again and really enjoy the beauty of science and all of creation!

    • Silas

      This really intriguing. I could say exactly the same thing (but I grew up reading the Bible). I wake up in the middle of the night and look out the window. If there are stars out there, I go out, even in the bitter Michigan winter and gaze awed at them. I can only see a creator. However, others do the same thing, …and see evolution and who knows why and how all OF THIS is out there. Why?

      • D Sims

        Silas, I think there are many reasons why some do not see something greater in those things that are so much greater than us.

        One primary reason is humans are naturally in love with themselves.
        To think of themselves as the ultimate reasonable and logical creature in all of creation feeds their already overblown opinion of themselves, so much so, that when they do accomplish even a small thing they love to give each other awards and accolades, esteeming themselves brilliant in whatever endeavor they are pursuing. Many even put letters before and after their name to represent their great wisdom and intellect while at the same time loving to compare themselves with themselves.

        So in essence they do not even consider if there is something greater than themselves because…..well….who could be more intelligent, logical and reasonable than they??

        At the same time the poor, weak, and the disenfranchised of society are rarely a thought in their minds and are even looked upon as a drain and a burden.

        When God the Father came down as God the Son, He came with a completely reverse agenda and showed how a man can become a servant to all and through His servant-hood demonstrated more wisdom and intelligence than any man before or since because Jesus openly claimed that there is no wisdom, logic or intelligence in following a man, but it is found in the One who is Logos, the intelligence of all creation.

        Simply put, this is why Jesus said, the prostitutes, poor and the lame will enter Zoe life long before those that are in love with themselves. Not everyone will believe and not everyone will accept Jesus as the Messiah. So, that is that, and all we can do is sow and water but God must give the increase.
        Blessings

  • Silas

    Life is fantastic…and huge. The Universe is fantastic…and huge. Was it the Universe and its wonders “who” created (gave origin) to life or was it LIFE who created the Universe?

    Forget about the Universe. Let’s concentrate on life. Life, as we know it, is made of science (hard sciences..biology, micro-biology, chemistry, bio-chemistry…bio-physics…and the like). But not only hard science, …soft sciences also. Not only science, but philosophy, history, poetry, language…and more…human experience, spirituality, religion, gut feeling, power and ability to discern and decide, think, introspection, emotions, feelings, impressions…belief, .and who knows what more?

    This is life! And now, Mr. Brandon Fibbs wants me to believe that only science (the scientific method) is equipped to determine how life began. I believe in God. Mr. Brandon believes in Science. Since Science is a above all other human endeavor, so he must have Science as his God. At the end of the day then, what’s the difference? Because Science is based on evidence…and so is Faith.

    Is evolution scientific? You see, what really matters, ultimately, is how it all begun. If the premise of how it all begun is false, or unverifiable, then the explanations and “evidences” of what comes next must be carefully scrutinized. The scientific method is totally dependent on replicable observation. The Big Bang Theory (although very INTERESTING), CANNOT be duplicated, and thus, it shouldn’t even be called a theory. Its outrageously wrong.

    Since the premise can be wrong, all the explanations that follow could easily be also. That’s Science.

    Why is the Big Bang Theory interesting (and for that matter, evolution) and the possibility of an eternal Creator who gave origin to the Universe and life not? I find it intriguing.

  • gimpi1

    Beautifully written. I feel the same way about Dr. Sagan. He helped many people see a much larger, more complex and elegant world than they had seen before.

  • Craig Dennis

    Fantastic read,

  • http://thehouseholdcat.tumblr.com Colin_in_Mexico

    I can relate to a lot of the things you mentioned in this article. While I do not come from a very religious family, I was still raised as a Christian, even though I could never relate to that.

    This is still something I am trying to get my head around. I started thinking about atheism about ten years ago, when I was a teenager, but it was a very long process. I never felt comfortable with that label either, so I can totally understand Carl Sagan’s reason for staying outside of “atheism”. I know that there are and were quite a lot of scientists who are neither religious nor atheists. Einstein was never an atheist…

    For a while, I thought not being religious but not tagging yourself as “atheist” was a lack of insight or intelligence or just about being too lazy to actively think about it. But then there are people who prove that this is wrong. If I had to choose between someone like Sagan or Einstein and someone like Dawkins, trust me… I would never choose Richard Dawkins. For a while, I thought Richard Dawkins was right about everything he said, but then there are many things about him that really bother me.

    I used to think “atheism” guarantees an open mind, but this is not true. You can exclude yourself from people with atheism just as much as with any religion.