RSS 2.0 Feed

» Welcome Guest Log In :: Register

Pages: (12) < [1] 2 3 4 5 6 ... >   
  Topic: Intellectually Honest Christians?, Is it possible?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,21:39   

As per Scary's suggestion, I thought I'd give it a go, but I remember a poll long ago that tells me there aren't too many christians on this site so I don't expect this to go far.

As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.

It could all come down to semantics.  YECs, it would seem, should have serious difficulties with most modern science and have to exercise a fair amount of denial.  As per the poll, these represent the vast minority with, I think, only one active poster and that's Dave.

Just the concept of reading the bible literally is debatable when there arises question of translation, context and historical accuracy.  So I would expect a large variety of view points just from the christians not too mention the remaining majority.  The unfortunate consequence will be the abuse from this majority that will probably keep many from posting or at least posting honestly.  That is to be expected.

I would suggest, in keeping with the theme of the site, we limit the analysis to science associated with evolution or biology and possibly including cosmology and the origin of life.  This should be sufficiently broad without straying to far.

Anyway, as a christian and a scientist, I would be happy to comment upon any science that some might consider a problem for my faith.  Please, Scary, join me and we'll see how far this goes.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,21:53   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,22:39)
As per Scary's suggestion, I thought I'd give it a go, but I remember a poll long ago that tells me there aren't too many christians on this site so I don't expect this to go far.

As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.

It could all come down to semantics.  YECs, it would seem, should have serious difficulties with most modern science and have to exercise a fair amount of denial.  As per the poll, these represent the vast minority with, I think, only one active poster and that's Dave.

Just the concept of reading the bible literally is debatable when there arises question of translation, context and historical accuracy.  So I would expect a large variety of view points just from the christians not too mention the remaining majority.  The unfortunate consequence will be the abuse from this majority that will probably keep many from posting or at least posting honestly.  That is to be expected.

I would suggest, in keeping with the theme of the site, we limit the analysis to science associated with evolution or biology and possibly including cosmology and the origin of life.  This should be sufficiently broad without straying to far.

Anyway, as a christian and a scientist, I would be happy to comment upon any science that some might consider a problem for my faith.  Please, Scary, join me and we'll see how far this goes.

Thanks Skeptic,

I'll post some stuff tomorrow--it's beyond my ability to think critically tonight.  I may post some stupid stuff on other threads, but I want to post something substantial here.

   
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,22:01   

I appreciate that Scary.  I wager that we may be the only two here that will take this seriously.

  
stevestory



Posts: 13407
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,22:03   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,23:01)
I appreciate that Scary.  I wager that we may be the only two here that will take this seriously.

There's probably at least 5-6 christians around here who would like the thread. Heddle's a christian. Wesley's a christian. probably some more I don't know about.

   
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2007,22:23   

Quote
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.


well, then, you started and finished in one sentence.

congratulations, shortest debate in history.

paint yourself as a theistic evolutionist and move on.

--------------
"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,00:09   

There's intellectually honest Christians, but like lots of things, they're rare. I tend to apply Sturgeon's Law ( or "Sturgeon's Revelation" ..see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_law ) to questions that intimately involve humans --  "Ninety percent of it is crud." Yeah, you can find exceptions and argue it back and forth, but the key to me is that the remaining ten percent (or whatever figure) represent something exemplifying the quality/thing in question. Because humans build identity with the ideas they adopt, it's hard to separate oneself FROM the ideas and examine them critically. It causes fear not unlike the fear of death, because it may mean seeing a cherished part of oneself "die."

So...people like AFDave and other intellectually DISHONEST people fling up endless barricades against this threat. I pointed out to Dave, for instance, that it is possible to create infinite justifications and excuses for decidedly "un-Christian" behavior just as it is possible to behave like a complete a$$hole while proclaiming oneself a "humanist" or atheist or agnostic or whatever.

Religion is a Swiss-Army knife of "memes" -- I don't know that there's a limit or exhaustive list of things it touches and affects and can assert power over...THAT'S what makes it scary to wield and scary to lose and scary to see in others and in ourselves.

This depth and breadth and all-encompassing power can only ALSO be approached only by one other cognitive construct: Science. This is why I keep the two separate and don't let them touch...to me, they're matter and anti-matter, but that's just MY view.

There's Christians and Buddhists and Agnostics and Atheists and Muslims and Mormons that would give their lives to save a kid from burning alive in a fire, and I'm not going to deny them the basic decency and humanity this reflects. And on the other hand, most PEOPLE are still largely unreflective and non-self-analytic and selfish and lazy and often capricious, delusional and cruel. I'm no exception, and my ideology doesn't neccessarily change a bit of that, apparently.

Oh, and I'm still not sure what to make of this universe and existence in it. It's all very weird to me.

Edit:
I'll add that I have yet to find any reason to make my "religious" views known to ANYONE, save myself. This has the tendency to disassociate it from the innate human drive towards power -- the desire to get other beings to think and do what you want them to -- and I think this is an acceptable position for me to hold.

--------------
AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
shadowcatdancing



Posts: 7
Joined: Dec. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,01:58   

I am a Christian; I believe myself to be intellectually honest, and I have not found intellectually honest Christians to be any rarer than intellectually honest atheists (or Muslims, or Jews, or anything else).  I have never had a problem reconciling faith and religion. My father was both an ordained minister and a high school science teacher who did indeed teach evolution in his biology classes, and was politically active opposing the "Creation Science" of the '80s.  Evolution is a problem primarily for those who believe in Biblical inerrancy, but I was not raised in a tradition that preaches Bilblical inerrancy.  Most mainstream denominations do not, but the evangelical fundamentalists who do are noisy enough that they get the attention, and many nonChristians get the impression that they are all there is, especially since they are often happy to make that claim.  
It is a major frustration to those of us who are not evangelical fundamentalists.  We often find it easier to simply not indentify ourselves as Christians in this kind of setting to avoid being asumed to be people like AFDave.  
I'm not sure what this thread will wind up discussing, but it will be interesting to find out.

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,03:05   

Skeptic,

Of course there are intellectually honest christians, there are intellectually honest everyones! Being a christian does not preclude one from being a scientist or vice versa, I know many scientists christian or otherwise who simply never consider the issues on which conflict would arise, or even consider them important.

Even Davey is to an extent intellectually honest, given the set of unspoken axioms from which he is working. I perhaps better elaborate on that a little. I don't think that Dave is intellectually honest full stop, very far from it, but he is attempting to reason from a position that is untenable. That reasoning is the same sort of thing that everyone does, Davey's problem is not that he is incapable of reason or intellectual honesty, but that he has tied so many psychological facets of himself to a specific set of axioms that he cannot allow himself to reason honestly outside of the very limited room those axioms give him. This is a common and well understood phenomenon from passionate advocates of specific political models (for example Stalin) to passionate advocates of specific religious ideologies (any fundamentalist of your choice). The "problem" isn't only religion, religion is but one aspect of the "problem".

If you really see no conflict between religion and science then you deliberately ain't looking, to be blunt. Granted the science/religion clash is not the whole deal, rather one sliver of a larger epistemological conflict between different human mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe. The TRAGIC thing is that thus far, the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.

{awaits howls of outrage}

Well guess what, denial ain't just a river in Africa. When you can explain why your faith in an otherwise undemonstrated proposition is valid evidence for said proposition, I'll be extremely interested to see why you think other people's faith in further otherwise undemonstrated propositions is invalid. Satires like the FSM may appear childish, but the reason they are so often dismissed is because they really are like the child who notices the emperor has no clothes on. They blow the whistle on something we mostly don't want the whistle blown on. Sadly they are devastatingly accurate in what they are satirising. And I really do mean sadly.

Speaking of intellectual honesty Skeptic, aren't you the one who, speaking as a scientist of course {cough splutter}, thinks that evolutionary biology is false based on...... Oh wait, I remember now. The "God of the gaps" argument is not an intellectually honest one in whatever form it takes. Colour me sceptical about all this.

Louis

--------------
Bye.

  
heddle



Posts: 124
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,05:56   

In principle this thread is not a bad idea--but I suspect it will end up just like all other threads here--a series of insults, guffaws, and backslaps. Like Louis's closing paragraph:

Quote
Speaking of intellectual honesty Skeptic, aren't you the one who, speaking as a scientist of course {cough splutter}, thinks that evolutionary biology is false based on...... Oh wait, I remember now. The "God of the gaps" argument is not an intellectually honest one in whatever form it takes. Colour me sceptical about all this


Not a call for discusion--just the same-old same-old M.O.

--------------
Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought, and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reason for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. --Sam Harris

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,06:09   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,22:39)
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.


Based on what I have seen among Christian boards as well as my own experience, there is a tremendous tension between Christianity and science.

In the US a brand of evangelical Christianity is the norm.  As such there is a ton of popular media directed toward Christians.  On a regular basis this media puts out comforting words to sincere Christians saying things like:  “You know the things you’ve been hearing about evolution?  Well it turns out real scientists aren’t even sure about it.  Plus it can be mathematically proven that we were designed.”

Most Christians—even educated ones—are ignorant of the real biological sciences so this type of thing is easy to accept.  In addition they are often taught a false dichotomy of “if evolution is true there is no God.”

But in some cases (like mine) people decide to look just a little deeper.

When they do they see the lies being propagated in the name of Christ, it does provide a challenge to one’s Christian faith.  Those without a basis for their faith outside of literalism and popularism truly struggle.

I’m hoping a thread like this one will genuinely discuss how to resolve some of those issues (and acknowledge some are never going to be resolved.)

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)

This depth and breadth and all-encompassing power can only ALSO be approached only by one other cognitive construct: Science. This is why I keep the two separate and don't let them touch...to me, they're matter and anti-matter, but that's just MY view.


At some point for me the cognitive dissonance between the two was just too loud to ignore.  I had based my entire life since I was 17 on the truth of Christianity.  Gave up a full ride to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to pay my way through Bible college, took my family to live in the poverty of Appalachia.  (I don’t mean to make it sound like these were awful things—we’ve had a great life—but the stakes were pretty high for me.

Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)
I'll add that I have yet to find any reason to make my "religious" views known to ANYONE, save myself. This has the tendency to disassociate it from the innate human drive towards power -- the desire to get other beings to think and do what you want them to -- and I think this is an acceptable position for me to hold.


This is pretty much my stance.  One of the things I hated about ministry was being the morals instructor/enforcer.  The way evangelicals practice their faith today the minister is trying to impose Christian behavior from the outside.

I always had the opinion if you are a Christian you ought to know not to treat your wife like crap—you shouldn’t need someone to tell you.

Now that I am out of ministry I enjoy being responsible for my own faith and not everyone else’s.  I’m OK with God whether someone else agrees, disagrees or doesn’t even think about me.

And power—even in small congregations—is a real issue in Christianity.  I’ve often said if you’re a nobody in life you can always find fame as a pastor.  It’s the easiest gig to get.

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,04:05)
If you really see no conflict between religion and science then you deliberately ain't looking, to be blunt. Granted the science/religion clash is not the whole deal, rather one sliver of a larger epistemological conflict between different human mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe. The TRAGIC thing is that thus far, the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.


If God exists—and I believe He does (note the caps)—then His existence is consistent with accurate science, at least in my view.  I don’t believe He set up a lying universe.

I don’t expect to ever understand all of God nor of science, but denial is not an alternative.  I am willing to say I have my own reasons for maintaining my faith, but I do try to integrate scientific reality with it as well.  Denial is intellectually lazy and cannot, by its very nature, lead to deeper “faith.”

Heddle:

As I was about to post I caught you comment.  Yes, it is possible this will end up being about insults.  But what I have found on this board is that, in the main, if you treat people with respect they give it back.

I think the title of this thread is somewhat unfortunate--I don't think we need to debate whether there are intellectually honest anybodys, of course there are.  If we approach this thread from the idea of "we don't know everything about our faith but are trying to see how we can combine faith and science into a consistent whole"  I believe it will be helpful to everyone.

Sure maybe Louis, Lenny et al will put in some jibes, but then again, maybe sometimes we deserve them.

You have to admit framing the debate as "are there intellectually honest Christians" maybe wasn't the smartest way to label this thread.

   
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,06:41   

It's pretty clear that "Christianity" means very different things to different people who claim to subscribe to it. For that matter, words like "religion", "faith", "God", etc. are so fuzzily defined that discussions like this never really get anywhere.

Science thrives on precision - both in the narrow sense of measurements and in the broader conceptual sense of framing questions. I've never had the impression that was much of a priority in religion. In fact, to be frank, it seems to me usually the opposite: that religion thrives on never being pinned down, on always being able to say to any logical contradiction: "but that's not what I mean".

Well, I gotta go now, so I hope I haven't accidentally disrespected anyone. I'll be back.

--------------
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,07:21   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,06:09)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,22:39)
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.


Based on what I have seen among Christian boards as well as my own experience, there is a tremendous tension between Christianity and science.

In the US a brand of evangelical Christianity is the norm.  As such there is a ton of popular media directed toward Christians.  On a regular basis this media puts out comforting words to sincere Christians saying things like:  “You know the things you’ve been hearing about evolution?  Well it turns out real scientists aren’t even sure about it.  Plus it can be mathematically proven that we were designed.”

Most Christians—even educated ones—are ignorant of the real biological sciences so this type of thing is easy to accept.  In addition they are often taught a false dichotomy of “if evolution is true there is no God.”

But in some cases (like mine) people decide to look just a little deeper.

When they do they see the lies being propagated in the name of Christ, it does provide a challenge to one’s Christian faith.  Those without a basis for their faith outside of literalism and popularism truly struggle.

I’m hoping a thread like this one will genuinely discuss how to resolve some of those issues (and acknowledge some are never going to be resolved.)

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)

This depth and breadth and all-encompassing power can only ALSO be approached only by one other cognitive construct: Science. This is why I keep the two separate and don't let them touch...to me, they're matter and anti-matter, but that's just MY view.


At some point for me the cognitive dissonance between the two was just too loud to ignore.  I had based my entire life since I was 17 on the truth of Christianity.  Gave up a full ride to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to pay my way through Bible college, took my family to live in the poverty of Appalachia.  (I don’t mean to make it sound like these were awful things—we’ve had a great life—but the stakes were pretty high for me.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Jan. 04 2007,01:09)
I'll add that I have yet to find any reason to make my "religious" views known to ANYONE, save myself. This has the tendency to disassociate it from the innate human drive towards power -- the desire to get other beings to think and do what you want them to -- and I think this is an acceptable position for me to hold.


This is pretty much my stance.  One of the things I hated about ministry was being the morals instructor/enforcer.  The way evangelicals practice their faith today the minister is trying to impose Christian behavior from the outside.

I always had the opinion if you are a Christian you ought to know not to treat your wife like crap—you shouldn’t need someone to tell you.

Now that I am out of ministry I enjoy being responsible for my own faith and not everyone else’s.  I’m OK with God whether someone else agrees, disagrees or doesn’t even think about me.

And power—even in small congregations—is a real issue in Christianity.  I’ve often said if you’re a nobody in life you can always find fame as a pastor.  It’s the easiest gig to get.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,04:05)
If you really see no conflict between religion and science then you deliberately ain't looking, to be blunt. Granted the science/religion clash is not the whole deal, rather one sliver of a larger epistemological conflict between different human mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe. The TRAGIC thing is that thus far, the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.


If God exists—and I believe He does (note the caps)—then His existence is consistent with accurate science, at least in my view.  I don’t believe He set up a lying universe.

I don’t expect to ever understand all of God nor of science, but denial is not an alternative.  I am willing to say I have my own reasons for maintaining my faith, but I do try to integrate scientific reality with it as well.  Denial is intellectually lazy and cannot, by its very nature, lead to deeper “faith.”

Heddle:

As I was about to post I caught you comment.  Yes, it is possible this will end up being about insults.  But what I have found on this board is that, in the main, if you treat people with respect they give it back.

I think the title of this thread is somewhat unfortunate--I don't think we need to debate whether there are intellectually honest anybodys, of course there are.  If we approach this thread from the idea of "we don't know everything about our faith but are trying to see how we can combine faith and science into a consistent whole"  I believe it will be helpful to everyone.

Sure maybe Louis, Lenny et al will put in some jibes, but then again, maybe sometimes we deserve them.

You have to admit framing the debate as "are there intellectually honest Christians" maybe wasn't the smartest way to label this thread.

I am not a Christian, or religous.  But I am not a Dawkinist either.  I know and have worked with many Christians who are scientists, and they are just like the rest of us - some good and some bad.  I think that someone can be a good scientist and have "Faith" in the religous sense, and still believe in his or her own version of a superior being.

And I have seen some of the good that religion can do when I lived in Africa.  I have seen the doctor's in a mission hospital working for days to save lives after an accident when the local hospital had given up.  I have seen missions trying to help the local populations generate income and food (works before faith).  So there is a lot of good out there, as well as bad.

Please don't judge all religions by what you see in the United States.  The US is different to most other western countries.

--------------
If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
BWE



Posts: 1902
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,07:26   

I happen to squeeze a fair amount of joy and happiness out of "spiritual feelings"? My wife and I are in a downside at the moment but usually we are active members of the downtown Unitarian Church here. I learned to meditate maybe 40 years ago or so and have been to dozens of meditation retreats since then. I have tried to practice zen consistently since a few years after my sister and her husband adopted a vietnamese child in 1967. Her strength of will (the child, now a grown woman) ended up pulling a lot of relatives who happened to be buddists here to America in the early 70's. I developed a close friendship with one of them, her older brother by 22 years. He helped open a monestary in seattle which got him seriously rich so he closed the monestary and opened up a meditation retreat just outside of vancouver b.c. He caters to the very rich and puts the money into an endowment, most of which goes back to vietnam as direct financial support of several monestaries there. The monestaries ihe supports are primarily involved in food distribution and, greusomely enough, buying prosthetic limbs. There is apperently still quite a need although I haven't been there to verify that. I do know that he doesn't own anything to speak of other than a Prius and quite a few pairs of shoes. That was a lot of background that might seem unimportant until I lay this next one on you.

I was in college before I found out christians were real. I thought they were sort of contemporaries with the Carolingians in their heyday and, after martin luther they had just become sort of 12 step program for sheer bonkersness only it's designed to keep you there rather than get you out. Maybe they are friends of Llib. . I thought, honestly, that when I walked out in the forest ( I lived on a mountain in the North Cascades) and saw and felt god that that is what everybody meant when they said god. When Nik taught me to meditate, I assumed that was what religion was. It was my way of reconciling the fact that a long time ago there were religious people who weren't crazy like dafyy duck like they are nowadays. (Maybe it's genetic) I used christian the way davey uses it. Having nothing whatsoever to do with jesus. In fact, I remember which church my mom told me to write in the school form so as not to upset the nutty ones who still did the jesus act. I have never even been down the road that church is on. Having lots of books, lots of rain and professors for parents (Botany and History) I read the old testament, the new testament, the bagavad gita and who the heck knows how many more holy books and I put them right next to Swiss Family Robinson and Hans Christiaan Anderson where they so obviously belonged.

So, that all said, my perspective on whether you can have an intellectually honest christian/muslim/pagan/hindu/whatever depends on their take on the belief. If they believe the stories in theor books then I have to say no, you can't. Have you ever heard the old saying, "give us the child till he's 7 and we'll give you the man"? It's a catholic school saying. I say give the books to a reasonably bright kid and let him read them before you talk about it and you get someone who has been innoculated against the evolutionarily advantagous trait of our species to use hate and fear to galvanize small bands of semi helpless animals together to fight the competitors for whatever niche or child labor force they happen to be exploiting. I have never gotten over my shock when I learned that a girl I wanted to , er, take to the movies or a malt shop, was xian. Really xian! She actually believed! In all outward ways she appeared normal. In fact in some areas, she was above average. But scratch the surface and bizzarro world lay out before you. She offered to take me to her church but i never went. The first time I ever attended a church was with my wife. She dragged me. Insisted. I might have been 25 or so? It turned out to be evangelical and the pastors very first words were "No amount of good deeds could have saved Ghandi from ####."

My suspicions were confirmed and so far, it's 100%. Those who appear normal yet profess faith, it's a code word. It means something on the continuum between "I Like to hang out with other people and do things in my community" and I" like this stuff. What did you say it was again?"

Wow, this staying up all night thing makes me goofy. Well, it's bedtime g'Night all.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,08:04   

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 04 2007,08:26)
So, that all said, my perspective on whether you can have an intellectually honest christian/muslim/pagan/hindu/whatever depends on their take on the belief. If they believe the stories in theor books then I have to say no, you can't.


I respectfully disagree.  Or at least I think I do.  I am not a literalist, but I do believe the Bible to be reliable.  I am not immune to considering positions that seem to be the opposite of what I believe the Bible is saying.  If you are saying literalists cannot be intellectually honest, then I agree.  If you’re saying one must accept the Bible as total mythology to be intellectually honest, then I disagree.

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 04 2007,08:26)

My suspicions were confirmed and so far, it's 100%. Those who appear normal yet profess faith, it's a code word. It means something on the continuum between "I Like to hang out with other people and do things in my community" and I" like this stuff. What did you say it was again?"


I don’t believe I fit into either of those camps.  First, I don’t attend a church.  I don’t believe organized religion is the way to go—it involves too many power and money issues.  I hang out with some Christians (many of them pastors) on an informal basis, and  I discuss with them the same types of things I discuss here.

Second, I have a pretty good grasp on my own belief system which I am constantly refining in the light of new experiences/information/study.  I don’t really depend on others to define my belief system.

I guess over time it will become obvious if these two things are actually true for me or if I am just deluded.

Quote (BWE @ Jan. 04 2007,08:26)

Wow, this staying up all night thing makes me goofy. Well, it's bedtime g'Night all.


I’ve been up most of the last two days—I can emphathize.

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,09:36   

Actually Russell makes an excellent point, one I should have made myself. {smacks self in head}

What do you mean by "god" and "religion"? I would argue that science has shown that many definitions of "god" have no basis in fact. Note the word MANY not the word ALL. It is possible to imagine a god concept which is consistent with what we currently know about science for example.

"Religion" based on faith or revelation alone falls into that category of epistemological methods that are anathema to reason and thus science. That conflict exists. Does this mean it's impossible to be "religious" and a "scientist"? No it doesn't because as Russell correctly notes it really depends on what you mean by "religion".

Are we going to see the Dennettian "faith in faith" brought out? I hope so, it solves so many problems.

Louis

P.S. Heddle, if someone behaves in a specific manner damned near all the time do you have any qualms "judging them by their works"? No. So when we have people with known posting habits and known, shall we say, less than 100% unblemished intellectual honesty records, is it wrong for us to "judge them by their works" also? Only when it conflicts with the Almighty Heddle 'twould appear! I note you are not averse to leaping to the conclusion that this discussion will be futile based on your experiences, just like I am. Hypocrisy much?

I am MORE than happy to grant anyone, even Skeptic or you or (and it pains me to say it) GoP the benefit of the doubt, but when we've all been here before many times, shouldn't you faith boys be willing to demonstrate just a touch of what you ask for yourselves? Tell you what, I'll restrain my inital skepticism, hold fire on being annoyed that yet again we go around the same merry-go-round of theist double standards and optimistically look forward to an interesting discussion. Heck, I'll go one better, I'll sincerely apologise for my initial skepticism and any insult or offense I may have caused:

Skeptic, and any other religious person reading, I apologise for my initial cynical skepticism, it was entirely unwarranted. It won't happen again.

Now can I hope and dammit even pray that the usual suspects will demonstrate a modicum of intellectual honesty and demonstrate that my initial statement (that intellectually honest christians exist, I notiuce you missed that) is true? By your works shall ye be judged Heddle. You boys play honestly and I'll keep my temper. Sound fair?

--------------
Bye.

  
afdave



Posts: 1621
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,09:56   

Contrary to the majority viewpoint here, I consider myself to be an intellectually honest Christian and, since I have been lumped in with the AiG people (rightly so) I would be interested in hearing why Scary Facts thinks I am not (and they are not) ... maybe start with ONE of your biggest specific gripes.  (I already have heard your speel, Deadman)

It is particularly interesting to hear that SF says he used to be a Biblical literalist, but is no longer since coming to AtBC.  I would be interested in what key items he found at ATBC changed his mind.

--------------
A DILEMMA FOR THE COMMITTED NATURALIST
A Hi-tech alien spaceship lands on earth ... DESIGNED.
A Hi-tech alien rotary motor found in a cell ... NOT DESIGNED.
http://afdave.wordpress.com/....ess.com

  
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,09:58   

ScaryFacts,

Quote
If God exists—and I believe He does (note the caps)—then His existence is consistent with accurate science, at least in my view.  I don’t believe He set up a lying universe.

I don’t expect to ever understand all of God nor of science, but denial is not an alternative.  I am willing to say I have my own reasons for maintaining my faith, but I do try to integrate scientific reality with it as well.  Denial is intellectually lazy and cannot, by its very nature, lead to deeper “faith.”


There are several things I could say to this. Firstly I'd say that to an extent I agree that it is possible to form a god hypothesis consistent with current science. Secondly, I'd say that this is really going to come down to what your definition of your god is. If your definition of god is that he is an 8 foot black geezer stood on the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower shouting Dutch obscenities at German tourists (which I don't for a second suspect it is, it's a silly example with a serious point) then we can pretty much rule your god as non-existant. The point being that if your god hypothesis is open to falsification on the basis of available evidence, you might already be in trouble (like the AFDaves of this world). If however your god hypothesis is not open to falsification on current evidence then there's a different discussion we can have. If your god hypothesis is not open to falsification at all, then that's yet another conversation. It all depends on what you mean by "god" (capital letters or otherwise).

Also, just what do you mean by denial? I don't and never have "denied" that a god is a possible thing that might exist. I do deny that anyone has demonstrably proven any god hypothesis reliably (because AFAIK they haven't). Please prove me wrong on that. I also deny that faith and revelation are reliable methods for acquiring knowledge about the universe because there is no way to reliably distinguish between two equally unsuported faith claims. But that's all bog standard basic epistemology. I'd say all of the above for fairies at the bottom of my garden, Santa Claus and the Loch Ness Monster. The burden of proof doesn't rest with me, but with the person proposing the validity of their positive claim (in this case, you). As I've pointed out to GoP any number of times, I don't care one way or the other what reality IS, whether or not it contains a god, many or none. I have nothing personally invested in the question. What I DO care about is that, if we are going to claim that X is part of reality, we have some reasoned, evidenciary basis for doing so. There are many, hopefully obvious reasons, for why that is. And no, it really isn;t because I am prejudiced against god, a philosophical materialist, or any number of asinine straw objects I know a decent bloke like you won't resort to!

If you are claiming that your god is something we don't/can't fully understand then sorry chum but that's really not cutting any mustard. It's the argument from personal incredulity and the argument from mystery added together. It proves, demonstrates and illuminates nothing. Saying something is mysterious or unkowable by fiat is the end of inquiry not the beginning. Perhaps your not saying that, perhaps you mean something different by "denial", enquiring minds want to know!

Wasn't there some bod who mentioned the two books of revelation, one of scripture one of nature? Where is your god to be found in the book of nature? Appeals to mystery, personal (in)credulity and the like don't work for all the standard reasons.

Yours in hopeful anticipation of a genuinely excellent discussion with a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-) *

Louis

*And no I am not being sarcastic.

--------------
Bye.

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,10:16   

I'm back. Fortunately it looks like no one took umbrage at my remarks so far.

As I said, owing to lack of definition of terms, I expect this discussion to go nowhere. That said, I have to admit the subject of religion has always fascinated me; so I'm following the discussion anyway.

Here's an example of why it's interesting. Nutcases like afdave illustrate the (obvious) point that religion can be just plain flat-out wrong. There's a notion that questions of "right" or "wrong", "correct" or "incorrect" are just not applicable to anything under the umbrella of "religion". Platitudes promulgated by mass media and politicians, appealers to common denominators, cultivate mushy notions like "all religions are beautiful, true, valid, (etc.)". So sometimes the just plain flat-out wrongness of an afdave comes as a bit of a shock. What's interesting to me is that someone so (apparently, at least) reasonable and rational as "Scary Facts" could have, until quite recently, been a co-religionist with afdave. The transition between flat-out wrong and fully open to the light of reason and the discipline of science (two different, though related, things, by the way) seems so radical, it's hard to fathom.

(Likewise, incidentally, the reverse transition: from sensible, rational, reality-based community member to flat-out fundamentalist. I wonder, for instance, about afdave's new boyfriend, Sanford. Maybe he wasn't much of a scientist, as opposed to technical tinkerer, before his conversion. Either that, or I have to ascribe it to a radical psychological or neurological breakdown. Generally, I'm pretty skeptical of the story you see over and over in fundamentalist literature: "I was a convinced atheist/secular humanist/evolutionist/whatever until one day...")

Like just about everyone, I consider myself a tolerant person. But, then, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards have protested they're not racist; Jews and blacks might beg to differ. The point is that whether someone is tolerant or intolerant is best judged by disinterested third parties. I'm tolerant of any religion insofar as it makes no difference to me what anyone believes, just what he/she does. I don't care if afdave believes that the earth is 6000 years old, or in special creation, or whatever. But I do care if he tells lies to kids about what science is and what scientists say.

Elsewhere in this forum I have described a position I call "insomesensism". I like to think that for religious people who are open to any and all science, or for that matter for religious people who just don't care about science, but do humanitarian work, their religion is "in some sense" true. Frankly, I can't figure out how some of what I think are the basic tenets of Christianity can be true. But who cares? I'm not trying to convince or unconvince anyone. I like to think it's a good exercise in philosophy and humility for me to remind myself that I may be wrong, and believers may be right, about Christianity "in some sense" that I just completely don't get. That's "insomesensism" from the perspective of the nonbeliever; that's how a nonbeliever can view a believer with not just tolerance, but respect. The other side of "insomesensism" is on the part of the believer: without trying to figure out how a nonphysical god could sire a human son, or other such seemingly scientifically dubious propositions, a believer might just note that he/she is a product of a culture that is organized around this religion, that culture is - thus far anyway - viable and valuable and productive of all sorts of wonderful things, and so that religion must "in some sense" be true. Or, again from the believer's perspective, perhaps he/she might just have a strong religious "feeling", and - knowing that the feeling is real, just as love of another human can undoubtedly be real without having anything to do with correct/incorrect, accurate/inaccurate, right/wrong - he/she might conclude that there must be something to it; it must "in some sense" be true.

So what's the difference, you ask, between the mushy, politically and commercially expedient, "all religions are beautiful" platitudes - which nauseate me - and "insomesensism" - of which I approve? It can be a tricky distinction. But one criterion is that some religions make claims about the physical world, and stake their credibility on those claims. That right there is probably enough to warn potential shoppers in the market for a religion that they should keep looking. (When they not only make those claims, but refuse to accept the judgment to which they have submitted themselves, then they have joined the ranks of what I bluntly call "stupid" religions. Does that make me intolerant?) Such religions can't be true "in some sense"; they're either right or wrong about their truth claims.

Finally, there's a possibility that, frankly, I find disturbing. Various people, of various religions, have made the argument that religion has been an important part of all successful large-scale societies (nations, empires, groups of nations, etc.). Christians, in particular, have argued that Christianity, in particular, is a foundation upon which all of western civilization is built, and that without its core, it's just a matter of time before western civilization collapses. Never mind whether it's "true" or not, or whether that question even makes any sense. I understand - without pretending to be an expert on these things - that that's a central tenet of Straussian NeoConservativism. I hope they're wrong. I don't think we have enough data to say that this view is accurate with respect to past societies, and I'm not convinced that, even if it is, that it still applies in the rather different circumstances of the 21st century. But I certainly don't know that they're wrong.

--------------
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,11:40   

Let me clarify something several of you asked about.  When I said coming to AtBC was the final nail in the coffin of literalism for me, I wasn’t meaning to indicate I was a complete literalist until I came here in August.  Twenty years ago, after getting out of Fundy U I was certainly a hard-core literalist in the “Day-Age” tradition.  College students typically see things as black/white so I fit into that nicely.

Then I got out into the “real” world working with “real” people and I began to see more possible variety of interpretation for many things.

When you are a pastor and you truly care about the people you are ministering to, debates about literalism, homosexuality, creation v. evolution really don’t come up very often.  You spend much more time helping a guy repair his marriage after an affair or helping the truly poor or getting a prostitute off drugs.

Ten years ago when Darwin’s Black Box came out I didn’t have much interest in reading the book, but I read several detailed reviews in Christian periodicals and they seemed to make sense.  Without doing the research myself, it seemed Behe had reconciled creation with science.

By this time I also began to see how some passages fundies taught were literal were likely allegorical—which wasn’t a big deal for me since the Bible uses allegory on a regular basis.  I began to see the first three chapters of Genesis as obvious allegory, though I don’t recall ever discussing it with anyone.  Again, it just didn’t seem that important compared with the other things I was doing.

I think AFDave refers to this as “comfortable oblivion”—I figured Behe et al had done the hard work of reconciling science with an evangelical view of the Bible so I didn’t worry about it.

This past summer I read a book on the evolution of conscious thought and I first began to understand how RM+NS worked (at a very basic level) and that’s what brought me to AtBC.  The big change for me when I got here was realizing how baseless and overtly dishonest many of the leaders in the creationist movement truly are.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,07:41)
It's pretty clear that "Christianity" means very different things to different people who claim to subscribe to it. For that matter, words like "religion", "faith", "God", etc. are so fuzzily defined that discussions like this never really get anywhere.


You may be right, but I tend to think the discourse can be positive for anyone wishing to explore new areas of the spiritual.  You guys and gals tend to be logical and methodical and will tell me an idea is crap if it is.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,07:41)
Science thrives on precision - both in the narrow sense of measurements and in the broader conceptual sense of framing questions. I've never had the impression that was much of a priority in religion. In fact, to be frank, it seems to me usually the opposite: that religion thrives on never being pinned down, on always being able to say to any logical contradiction: "but that's not what I mean".


One of the things I am trying to do in my life know is to present (mostly for my own benefit) the reasons why I believe the things I do.  While they may not be precise in the quantitative sense, they do fall, I believe, more into the realm of “investigative proof” where one can say their faith is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:36)
What do you mean by "god" and "religion"? I would argue that science has shown that many definitions of "god" have no basis in fact. Note the word MANY not the word ALL. It is possible to imagine a god concept which is consistent with what we currently know about science for example.


My understanding of God is based on the traditional Judeo/Christian deity as pictured in the Old and New Testaments.  While there will always be some debate on every specific characteristic of this god, the broad strokes a pretty well agreed upon:  Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:36)
"Religion" based on faith or revelation alone falls into that category of epistemological methods that are anathema to reason and thus science.


If the Bible is reliable (as I believe it is) Christians should not only have the revelation (Bible) but also consistent objective evidence of God working in real ways in their midst.  I will write more on this, but if you go here you can see the type of things I am talking about:

http://whorechurch.blogspot.com/2006/12/miracle-of-ice-cream-cake.html

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:36)
Skeptic, and any other religious person reading, I apologise for my initial cynical skepticism, it was entirely unwarranted. It won't happen again.


For the record, I was no way offended.  And skepticism is good—faith without question isn’t very strong faith.

 
Quote (afdave @ Jan. 04 2007,10:56)
Contrary to the majority viewpoint here, I consider myself to be an intellectually honest Christian and, since I have been lumped in with the AiG people (rightly so) I would be interested in hearing why Scary Facts thinks I am not (and they are not) ... maybe start with ONE of your biggest specific gripes.  (I already have heard your speel, Deadman)

It is particularly interesting to hear that SF says he used to be a Biblical literalist, but is no longer since coming to AtBC.  I would be interested in what key items he found at ATBC changed his mind.

David I was not trying to single you out as intellectually dishonest.  I think those who take a literalist view of scripture are either:

1. Ignorant – In the real sense of the word:  They just don’t know how many impossible to reconcile ideas are in the Bible
2. Intellectually Dishonest/Deluded – Because of their world view they cannot grasp the inconsistencies produced by literalism
3. Lying – They know the things they are saying aren’t true, but they continue to say them for sake of money, ego, power, etc.

I’m not going to place you, as an individual, into any of these three because I just don’t know which you would fit into.  If there is a fourth option I would be happy to entertain it.

Why do I say they must be intellectually dishonest?  The evidence for common descent, ancient earth, local (versus global) flood, etc. is overwhelming.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
If however your god hypothesis is not open to falsification on current evidence then there's a different discussion we can have. If your god hypothesis is not open to falsification at all, then that's yet another conversation. It all depends on what you mean by "god"


First, I don’t have a “god hypothesis” – I am just like everybody else, trying to figure some things out.  The definition of god is a moving target (as you noted) so coming up with a way to “falsify” god is not going to happen.  Man would just come up with a new god consistent with whatever falsified the old god.  Kinda like when Coke tried that new formula.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
Also, just what do you mean by denial?


Not you, Christians.  (see above)

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
What I DO care about is that, if we are going to claim that X is part of reality, we have some reasoned, evidenciary basis for doing so. There are many, hopefully obvious reasons, for why that is. And no, it really isn;t because I am prejudiced against god, a philosophical materialist, or any number of asinine straw objects I know a decent bloke like you won't resort to!


I agree completely.  I want to come up with a way of looking at spirituality consistent with the evidence I have—mostly personal—from my own life.  You can accept it or reject it, it matters little to me, but I want to see if I am just deluded or if the weight of the evidence produces a “reasonable” belief.

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
If you are claiming that your god is something we don't/can't fully understand then sorry chum but that's really not cutting any mustard. It's the argument from personal incredulity and the argument from mystery added together. It proves, demonstrates and illuminates nothing. Saying something is mysterious or unkowable by fiat is the end of inquiry not the beginning. Perhaps your not saying that, perhaps you mean something different by "denial", enquiring minds want to know!


A couple of things:

First, when I recommended we have a thread it was not to prove or disprove any hypothesis—I’m not sure I would be the one to define it and I don’t think we have yet looked enough at extra-Biblical evidence to make any predictions, etc.

Second, if the Judeo/Christian picture of God is substantially correct then we ought to be able to learn much about him.  What I mean when I say “I don’t expect to ever completely understand God” is more like “I know much about quantum mechanics, and I’m confident I can learn more, but I don’t think I’ll ever completely understand it.”

 
Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,10:58)
Yours in hopeful anticipation of a genuinely excellent discussion with a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-)


If I find one, I’ll let you know.  I don’t have any here with me today.

Edit: Just for clarity - I didn't mean there aren't any rational and intelligent human beings at AtBC, I was talking about "here" as in "my den"  i.e.:  I'm not a rational or intelligent human being.  Sorry I wasn't more clear the first time.
 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,11:16)
What's interesting to me is that someone so (apparently, at least) reasonable and rational as "Scary Facts" could have, until quite recently, been a co-religionist with afdave. The transition between flat-out wrong and fully open to the light of reason and the discipline of science (two different, though related, things, by the way) seems so radical, it's hard to fathom.


Which is why I wrote the above.

 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,11:16)
(Likewise, incidentally, the reverse transition: from sensible, rational, reality-based community member to flat-out fundamentalist. I wonder, for instance, about afdave's new boyfriend, Sanford. Maybe he wasn't much of a scientist, as opposed to technical tinkerer, before his conversion. Either that, or I have to ascribe it to a radical psychological or neurological breakdown. Generally, I'm pretty skeptical of the story you see over and over in fundamentalist literature: "I was a convinced atheist/secular humanist/evolutionist/whatever until one day...")


People adopt or reject a philosophy not because of reason but because of emotion.  Typically they have a deep seated need to have the psychological pay off that particular philosophy offers.  Maybe his mother died and on a sub conscious level he needed to believe she went to heaven.  Who knows.


 
Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,11:16)
Elsewhere in this forum I have described a position I call "insomesensism". I like to think that for religious people who are open to any and all science, or for that matter for religious people who just don't care about science, but do humanitarian work, their religion is "in some sense" true. Frankly, I can't figure out how some of what I think are the basic tenets of Christianity can be true. But who cares? I'm not trying to convince or unconvince anyone. I like to think it's a good exercise in philosophy and humility for me to remind myself that I may be wrong, and believers may be right, about Christianity "in some sense" that I just completely don't get. That's "insomesensism" from the perspective of the nonbeliever; that's how a nonbeliever can view a believer with not just tolerance, but respect. The other side of "insomesensism" is on the part of the believer: without trying to figure out how a nonphysical god could sire a human son, or other such seemingly scientifically dubious propositions, a believer might just note that he/she is a product of a culture that is organized around this religion, that culture is - thus far anyway - viable and valuable and productive of all sorts of wonderful things, and so that religion must "in some sense" be true. Or, again from the believer's perspective, perhaps he/she might just have a strong religious "feeling", and - knowing that the feeling is real, just as love of another human can undoubtedly be real without having anything to do with correct/incorrect, accurate/inaccurate, right/wrong - he/she might conclude that there must be something to it; it must "in some sense" be true.


As I have said elsewhere I had certain experiences while taking the Judeo/Christian path that lead me personally to believe the God of the Bible exists.  That doesn’t mean I’m write or that the experiences I’ve had were caused by a Christian deity.  Possibly I was mistaken, mislead or there is some other option—like a previously unknown common consciousness.

Just to be clear…

When I suggested a thread I wasn’t secretly trying to convert the atheists by my rapier wit logical argument.  I just wanted to have a place where we could discuss spiritual issues as related to science.  I am personally disgusted when a Christian says “Oh, I’m here just to learn” when in reality they are planning the whole time to convert those who haven’t asked for their religious input.

Edit:  That was supposed to be "right" not "write"

   
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,11:55   

Since you're so keen on mocking people like k.e who misspell once in a while, AFDave, you should know the word you wanted was "spiel" , not "speel," and you've shown yourself to be as UN-Christian a person as I ever want to see, so your overall claims have no weight with me.

--------------
AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
afdave



Posts: 1621
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,13:20   

For what it's worth, I consider my signature block to really sum up the "proof" for an Intelligent Designer quite decisively and succinctly.  Identifying the Designer is another matter, however, and in my opinion involves study in various disciplines including ancient historical documents, archaeological finds, and the mythology of various cultures, among other things.  We do not believe in the existence of George Washington because of any "scientific evidence" to my knowledge.  We believe he existed because of written eyewitness testimony which, for many reasons, we judge to be reliable.  It's the same with the God of the Bible for me.

********************************************

DM ... I doubt I ever "mocked" k.e about his spelling ... I recall poking fun at PuckSR's spelling once in response to him (or someone) doing that to me, but I quickly discarded that idea because some found it offensive and it served no purpose.  And I would guess that SF does not want you bringing you little personal gripes with me over to this thread.

--------------
A DILEMMA FOR THE COMMITTED NATURALIST
A Hi-tech alien spaceship lands on earth ... DESIGNED.
A Hi-tech alien rotary motor found in a cell ... NOT DESIGNED.
http://afdave.wordpress.com/....ess.com

  
Russell



Posts: 1082
Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,13:29   

Quote
Quote
...a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-)


If I find one, I’ll let you know.  I don’t have any here with me today.
Hmmm... I guess we nonchristians are not welcome on this thread. Oh well. Have an uplifting conversation among yourselves, Christians!

--------------
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
ScaryFacts



Posts: 337
Joined: Aug. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,13:51   

Quote (Russell @ Jan. 04 2007,14:29)
 
Quote
 
Quote
...a genuinely rational and intelligent human being ;-)


If I find one, I’ll let you know.  I don’t have any here with me today.
Hmmm... I guess we nonchristians are not welcome on this thread. Oh well. Have an uplifting conversation among yourselves, Christians!

Golly, I take a break from writing to see what's going on and find I have offended Russell.

I understand there have been a lot of jabs on the AFDave thread, but that was not my intent.

Just for clarification I was making fun of myself--I meant, literally, "I don't have any genuinely rational and intelligent human beings here with me, in my den."

The group here at AtBC are some of the most rational and intelligent people I have ever seen.  I'll try to be more careful

   
Louis



Posts: 6436
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,16:48   

Scary,

Quote
Omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence


Ouch! That's quite a burden. Can god then create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it?*

(Hat tip to Descartes)

I think, on the issue of attempting to prove or disprove god, that it isn't necessary for you to do it, I'm certainly not interested in disproving your god. What I AM interested in is trying to get an accurate model of the universe. Or at least as accurate as possible. If that universe includes something that you might call god, then so be it, but please do us all the favour of providing us with something approaching evidence for your claims. See below....

Quote
First, I don’t have a “god hypothesis” – I am just like everybody else, trying to figure some things out.  The definition of god is a moving target (as you noted) so coming up with a way to “falsify” god is not going to happen.  Man would just come up with a new god consistent with whatever falsified the old god.  Kinda like when Coke tried that new formula.


So why should we treat such a malleable concept which has no explanatory power (by the very virtue of being so malleable) with any respect over and above a similarly malleable concept? Why is your faith in your god any more or less valid than my muslim chum's faith in his god?

If all your claim of god existing is based on is your faith in god and "seeing him work in your life" type anecdote, you have to admit that other people have similar faith and anecdote which is diametrically opposed, and mutually exclusive to your own. How does an independent observer distinguish between the two claims? By their results doesn't work because how "nice" or "nasty" something is, or how nice or nasty believing is it is doesn't have any reflection on whether or not it is representative of reality i.e. true.

Louis

* The point is not to stump you with this question but to demonstrate the logical incompatibility of such infinite concepts. If god is all powerful he can do anything. If god is all knowing he can conceive of anything. etc. The answers "why would he want to?", "god is not subject to mortal logic" etc are a total abrogation of the theist's responsibility to support their claims and an overt admission that they understand how ludicrous such combined concepts are.

P.S. You ARE a rational and intelligent person, not because on some things you agree with me but because it comes across in your posts. It's like how we all know that AFDave's an ego ridden arrogant arse, Skeptic's an occasional obliviot, Heddle is a bright bloke using his rectum as a snorkel and GoP is a revolting scumbag. Agreement is immaterial. My best friend is a christian and pretty much every bit as much an atheist as I am. I'm an atheist and pretty much every bit as christian as he is! Figure that one out ;-)

--------------
Bye.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,16:49   

As so often happens, I miss a day on these boards and so much content is posted that it becomes impossible to keep up, at least in the time available.  I'll just add my two cents where most pressing.

I made the comment that I see no conflict between science and religion not as a historical one (which would obviously be false) but as a personal one.  This goes to the heart of my second point which Louis and I have danced around before so I'll try to make it better this time.

The idea that science can disprove the existence of God is in question.  I use the big "G" in an effort to avoid the purple elephant or Effiel Tower lunatic analogies and just try to focus upon God as a supernatural concept.

Science is forever framed within human perspective and also confined by it.  We attempt to describe the universe in terms we can understand based upon reason and logic universal to all.  Anything beyond these limits is untestable by science, reason or logic.  This is not a statement about actual existence just the ability to evaluate existence in these terms.

Faith is not based upon reason in the same sense.  With a primary basis in introspection, meditation and revelation, a person makes a reasoned choice to believe based upon the impact and strength of these sources of knowledge.  Physical measurements are not taken and evidence of this nature is not gathered.  All knowledge gained is ultimately of a personal nature and not directly transferable to another.  It must be experienced.  As the saying goes, "Some things have to be believed to be seen."

It is for these reasons and distinctions that I have no conflict between science and religion.  They don't speak the same language, they don't live in the same town and they don't hang out together.  In short, they have nothing in common and do not belong in an opposing conversation (my opinion).  That is also why, I feel, that the statement as to the existence of God being assessed by science is foundationally wrong.  Science can not be used to evaluate God, to me, it's just that simple.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,17:58   

Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 03 2007,21:39)
As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion

Neither do most other Christians.  (shrug)

The ONLY ones who do, are the fundamentalist Biblical-literalists, and they are just a tiny (though very loud) lunatic fringe within Christianity.  Were it not for the enormous political power that the fundies have within the Republicrat Party, no one would pay any more attention to fundie creationist/IDers than they pay to geocentrists or flat earthers.

The vast majority of Christians, worldwide, don't have any gripe with evolution, cosmology, or any other area of modern science.  The vast majority of Christians, worldwide, view the fundies as a bunch of nutters who do nothing but cause harm to Christianity, by making it look silly, stupid, uneducated, medieval, backwards and pig-ignorant.

The fundies, of course, try very very hard to paint this as a "science v religion" fight.  It ain't.  It's a "tiny lunatic fringe of religious kooks v . . . well . . . everyone else" fight.

That, BTW, is why the evangelical-atheist campaign to stamp out religion is, besides being utterly futile and hopeless, simply shooting at the wrong target.  "Religion" is not the problem.  "Fundamentalism" is.  Some people, apparently, can't tell the difference.

--------------
Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:17   

but, Lenny, by you're earlier definition, I'm a fundamentalist.  :D

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Please excuse this jab as it was meant in good humor.

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:17   

Quote (Louis @ Jan. 04 2007,03:05)
the only mechanism humans have discovered that in any reliable sense does allow us to acquire even only provisional knowledge of the universe is that which is best typified by what we call science.

{awaits howls of outrage}

No argument there.

The thing is, though, that it's not just questions about "knowledge of the universe" that we humans want to answer.  We also want answers to metaphysical questions about ethics, morals, social relationships, etc etc etc.  And, alas, science simply cannot deal with those questions.  Science can tell us exactly how many cells a four-week-old embryo has, but science can't tell us whether it's OK to abort that embryo.  Science can tell us which precise amino acid changes produce blonde hair instead of brunette -- but science can't tell us whether blondes are cuter than brunettes.  Science can tell us precisely which chemical changes in the brain accompany which specific thoughts or opinions, but it can't tell us which of those thoughts or opinions is "correct".

Let me cut-and-paste a post I made at T.O. a few years back that talks about this very point:




> God does not contradict science, but a belief is God is not consistent
> with the scientific viewpoint (i.e. it is not a falsifiable
> hypothesis, there is no evidence etc.).

The same is true of the belief that blondes are cuter than brunettes, or that Shakespeare is a better writer than Chaucer, or that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate. These beliefs are also not consistent with the scientific viewpoint, since there is is no falsifiable hypothesis (how would you demonstrate that vanilla ice cream objectively tastes better than chocolate), no evidence, etc. Indeed, most of the things that human beings think are simply not consistent with science or the scientific method -- they are subjective opinions that simply can not be tested or scientifically justified in any way. And I see nothing wrong with that.

Science has a constrained area within which it can operate. It also has a huge area in which it can NOT operate. Science is not a philosophy, not a worldview, not a system of morals, and not a plan for life. Science can tell us about the biological process of conception, but can't tell us anything about the moral or ethical question of abortion. Science can tell us how to terraform Mars, but can't answer the moral or ethical question of whether it should be done. Science can tell us how global warming is occurring, but can't give us any answers to the political/economic questions of what to do about it.

Religion/ethics, on the other hand, also has a constrained area within which it can operate. Religion/ethics can tell us whether I should or shouldn't drive my car on the wrong side of the road, but can't tell us how to fix the transmission on a '95 Chevy. Religion/ethics can tell us whether or not we should push the whooping crane into extinction, but can't tell us how long ago the American lion became extinct. Religion/ethics can tell us whether or not to produce genetically altered food plants, but can't tell us which nucleotide substitution produced this new genetic allele. Much of what humans want to know is not a matter of religion/ethics -- they are straightforward objective observations, which are best found using the scientific method. And again, I see nothing wrong with that.

Science and religion/ethics simply have nothing to do with each other. They are two completely different ways of looking at two completely different types of questions. Science simply can't deal with any questions of subjective judgement or ethical decision -- which means that science simply can't deal with a huge area of human activity. Religion/ethics, on the other hand, simply can't deal with any questions of objective measurement or observation -- which places large areas of human activity out of its sphere of competence.

Problems arise when, for whatever reason, one of these spheres of competence attempts to force itself into the other. Creationists attempt to force their religious/ethical view onto science, where it simply doesn't belong. Others attempt to force a scientific view into religion/ethics, where it simply doesn't work. Both are equally invalid.

At this point, perhaps I should point out that I do not think a belief in a supernatural god is necessary for a religious/ethical viewpoint -- I have long been a practictioner of Taoism, which does not posit the existence of any supernatural god or gods. I am simply attempting to point out that your chief criticism of belief in god -- that it cannot be tested using the scientific method--is equally true for ANY ethical or morality-based statement. "Murder is wrong" also cannot be tested or justified using the scientific method. Neither can "I deserve a raise at work". Neither can "that politician is an idiot". Neither can "blondes are cuter than brunettes". Indeed, NEARLY ALL of human beliefs and activity are inconsistent with the scientific method, not just a belief in God.

So to your question "why do people believe in god rather than atheism", you might as well be asking "why do people like chocolate ice cream better than vanilla". It all comes down to individual subjective judgement, and science simply has nothing to say about it. Some people choose to believe in a god, some don't. Some people choose to eat vanilla ice cream, some don't. Attempting to determine "why" just leads to a morass of subjective opinions, individual judgements, and lots of cultural and social factors whose effects may even be unconscious and unnoticed. The question itself simply cannot be answered using the scientific method.

And again, I see nothing wrong with that.

--------------
Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
"Rev Dr" Lenny Flank



Posts: 2560
Joined: Feb. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:41   

Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 04 2007,06:09)
In the US a brand of evangelical Christianity is the norm.  As such there is a ton of popular media directed toward Christians.  On a regular basis this media puts out comforting words to sincere Christians saying things like:  “You know the things you’ve been hearing about evolution?  Well it turns out real scientists aren’t even sure about it.  Plus it can be mathematically proven that we were designed.”

Most Christians—even educated ones—are ignorant of the real biological sciences so this type of thing is easy to accept.  In addition they are often taught a false dichotomy of “if evolution is true there is no God.”

But in some cases (like mine) people decide to look just a little deeper.

When they do they see the lies being propagated in the name of Christ, it does provide a challenge to one’s Christian faith.  Those without a basis for their faith outside of literalism and popularism truly struggle.

I think that's a great nutshell, and hits all the salient points.

(1) it's not just the fundies who want this to be all about "evolution proves there is no God".  The evangelical fundies want it every bit as much.  As I've often said, the evangelical fundies and the evangelical atheists simply aren't that different.  They both present the very same basic argument (they both want science to support their religious/philosophical opinions), and just choose different sides of the same coin.  

(2) when people learn about evolution and subsequently give up their fundamentalist religion, that is largely because THE FUNDIES HAVE TOLD THEM TO DO SO.  So the fundies have no right to bitch and complain when people simply accept at face value what the fundies themselves have told them -- "if evolution happens, then there is no God".

(3) those who do indeed have a faith that is based outside of literalism (or, as I like to put it, those who worship a God instead of a Book About God --and are smart enough to know the difference), don't have any gripes with science.  The only ones who DO have a gripe are those who DON'T have any basis for their faith outside of their literalism (or, as I call them, the ones who idol-worship a Book About God instead of a God, and are too stupid to tell the difference -- like, ya know, AFDave).

The literalists are, have always been, and very likely always will be, a tiny minority within Christianity.  The ONLY reason they are such a nuisance in the US is because of the political influence they have in the Republicrat Party.

But, as I've noted before, that is all about to change.  The fundies, like all extremist ideologues eventually do, have reached further than their grasp --- they have finally pushed their extremist agenda far beyond what anyone is willing to support, and have thus lost most of their influence.  Then there is the simple fact that the Republicrat Party is basically the "party of the angry white man", and as the US population grows, those same "angry white men" will themselves be a distinct minority within the US by the middle of this century.  Most voters will, then, be ethnics and women -- neither of which are very fond of the fundie/Republicrats (and vice versa).  So, within a few decades, the angry white man can stamp his foot all he wants --- he won't have the numbers to win at the voting booth, and his angry agenda will fall by the wayside.  (Paley, of course, won't like that --- I, of course, welcome it.)   That will essentially be the end of the fundies as any sort of effective political movement.  They'll go back to their churches and waste their lives waiting for their imminent Rapture.  (shrug)

What needs to be done is for the religious majority to take back their own religion.  For far too long, mainstream churches have allowed the fundies to piously wrap themselves in the mantle of holiness, and have allowed the fundie nutters to paint themselves as not only the MAJORITY of Christians (which they are not) but as the ONLY REAL CHRISTIANS™©.  It's time to show everyone that denying reality, as the fundies do, doesn't make you holy --- it only makes you STUPID.

Alas, though, that is a task for Christians themselves to accomplish.  Scientists can't do it, and CERTAINLY the evangelical atheists can't do it.  It is a matter of organizing, not a matter of science.  The fundies gained prominence within American religion by means of political power.  They can only be removed from prominence in the same manner.

So, my message to all the non-fundie Christians out there is simple;   don't preach -- ORGANIZE.

--------------
Editor, Red and Black Publishers
www.RedandBlackPublishers.com

  
stephenWells



Posts: 127
Joined: April 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 04 2007,18:52   

Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 04 2007,18:17)
> God does not contradict science, but a belief is God is not consistent
> with the scientific viewpoint (i.e. it is not a falsifiable
> hypothesis, there is no evidence etc.).

The same is true of the belief that blondes are cuter than brunettes, or that Shakespeare is a better writer than Chaucer, or that vanilla ice cream tastes better than chocolate.

I would strongly disagree. De gustibus et de coloribus non est disputandum, but that doesn't make statements of taste, or moral judgements incompatible with a scientific worldview, it just makes them not amenable to investigation by science. Belief in a god, however, involves proposing the _existence_ of a specific entity with specific properties.

Imagine if I said that my favourite hair colour was neither blonde nor brunette, but Flunge. Flunge is not on any spectrum or chart of hues, nor is it observable even in principle in any way, as you can only see it inside your head when your eyes are closed. No-one on earth currently has Flunge hair, but Helen of Troy did.

Are we going to bother discussing the importance of Flunge to hairstyling?

  
  335 replies since Jan. 03 2007,21:39 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Pages: (12) < [1] 2 3 4 5 6 ... >   


Track this topic Email this topic Print this topic

[ Read the Board Rules ] | [Useful Links] | [Evolving Designs]