Henry Neufeld posted Entry 1350 on August 15, 2005 09:32 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1348

Note: The purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of intelligent design on theological, rather than scientific, grounds. It is not intended to provoke arguments over the validity of Christianity or theism in general because that is not the concern of this blog. Hence, we would ask that any comments be restricted to the subject of the theological validity of ID and its relation to science education rather than the rational validity of Christianity. Such discussions are fascinating, but are best left for other fora.

In a recent contribution I suggested the possibility of a designer who made such a perfect design that intervention would never be necessary. This is not something that could be demonstrated, nor is it something that I assert as a fact, but it is a design possibility. The point here is that a deist or theist can quite easily both believe that the universe is designed, and yet not believe that the “design” is going to be detectible. Since the whole is designed, there is no necessity that some portions of it look more designed than others.

The question is whether this hypothetical theist can allow any kind of intervention in the universe, without also assuming that such intervention can be detected and measured? I am frequently asked how I can oppose intelligent design, and yet see any kind of interaction of God with the universe.

There are many possible forms of intervention that could not be measured or detected. I’ll get to the issue of miracles soon, but first, if God intervenes in such a way as to duplicate a natural process, there would be no evidence that would necessarily point to divine intervention. Prophetic inspiration is one example of such intervention from religious literature that would not necessarily provide any way of measurement. If I think a creative thought, or if I am divinely inspired with a creative thought, all that occurs is that I have such a creative thought. I would like to think that the presence of a creative thought in my brain is not impossible, and that its presence would not be seen as evidence that there must be a creator who inputs thoughts, any more than my brain as a whole would be evidence for such a creator.

I go into some detail on this type of intervention in my essay The Hand of God: Miracles, in which I suggest first that if all the miracle claims of all the worlds religion were to be accepted, there would nonetheless be a remarkably small impact on the whole of human history. Further, the majority of those miracles would simply be miracles of communication, providing information to certain people. In this sense, the fact that certain people believe that there has been a miracle has almost as great an impact on history as does the miracle in itself.

Let’s look at the resurrection of Jesus as a good example miracle. I do not intend to attempt to prove the resurrection, nor do I intend to ridicule anyone’s view of it. I’m simply using it as an example of a miracle claim so as to ask what one must believe about the universe in order to believe in some form of resurrection.

1) There are those Christian who believe that the resurrection was a totally psychological event, i.e. that Jesus lived on in the hearts of his followers, and because he had much more impact than the average person that he lived on much more powerfully in their hearts. In this sense, there isn’t any real claim of divine intervention, except for a special spiritual presence in the person of Jesus, which would be quite similar to the issue of prophetic inspiration I noted above: How can one tell the difference between a very special person, and a very special person because God made him special? If one believes under these circumstances that God had something to do with the process that belief is completely outside the realm of physical verification. It is certainly not necessary to have such a hypothesis to explain the observable facts. In this scenario, stories of sightings of the risen Jesus grew up over time to explain people’s conviction that Jesus was present.

2) There are those who believe that, using the words of Paul, Jesus was raised with a “spiritual body.” Now nobody knows precisely what a spiritual body may be, but this view tends to take the stories of physical sightings seriously. Unfortunately, there were no video cameras, so we can’t be sure, though it’s possible one could suggest photographic evidence could be obtained. Nonetheless, according to the stories, Jesus appeared to people, he was not generally seen, and he was not always recognized. If this claim is true, it is quite possible we would have physical evidence. I will tie this point to intelligent design once I’ve looked at the third scenario.

3) There are those, possibly the majority, who believe that the physical corpse of Jesus returned to life. Ah! Finally! Some solid ground. Here we would certainly have evidence. If the scientific facilities had been available, one could have proven to a reasonable degree of certainty that the corpse was a corpse, that it came back to life, and that the living person shared identical DNA. The miracle has a measurable impact on the physical world.

But having said all that, I would suggest that the miracle is nothing like intelligent design. Let me express intelligent design as I hear it theologically. God creates the universe, and creates a number of processes that we generally express as laws to make it function. It is possible for some things to occur according to these processes. (Indeed, many intelligent design advocates say they can accept common descent.) At some point, however, there are elements of life that are too complex for these processes to manage, and thus we have evidence of an added “divine factor” in the process at that point.

To be fair, I must point out that the claim is not precisely that God intervenes at those points, but rather that evidence that certain complexe elements of the process would be impossible without intelligent guidance points to an intelligent guide of the entire process. But in reality that distinction points right back to my starting point. Intelligent design is no more than the old “watchmaker” in new clothes.

So how does intelligent design differ, as a claimed intervention, from the resurrection? First, intelligent design claims regular tinkering, detectable in the nature of the things done. Second, intelligent design claims tinkering that is essential to the functioning of the overall process (in this case biological evolution). Third, intelligent design claims that by putting a label on something unknown (Behe’s “black box”), that we have somehow scientifically identified that unknown element as a divine intervention.

In the case of the claim of a physical resurrection, even if it happened, it was either singular or rare. The resulting body would be indistinguishable from any other living body, and it had negligible impact on the physical universe. The fact that the first two theories I mentioned exist, and have considerable support amongst Christians, indicates that the physical fact of resurrection itself may have less impact than the simple belief that the resurrection took place.

Intelligent design suggest a constant, measurable intervention in part of the process. Most miracle claims suggest a singular intervention. One could not produce a “theory of miracles” because they are not supposed to happen with regularity. Miracles are not going to have much impact on science simply because even the claims of miracles are rather rare. We tend to notice miracle claims because they are the exception. Ordinary historical events don’t get noticed. Nobody puts a story on the news when they notice a water stain that looks like a water stain. But if it looks like the Virgin Mary, it will be all over. Claims that things are going normally just don’t make the news.

That may also explain some of the excitement for many about intelligent design. A claim that we have found yet another explanation for how certain physical structures or biological processes have been produced through variation and natural selection is pretty ordinary to most people. A claim that we’ve found God’s fingerprint on some process is much more exciting. Boring people like me ask whether it’s really a fingerprint, or just a reflection of our own wishful thinking.

I would like to put in my prediction on another point. One of the favorite theistic claims that I do not accept is the idea that life could not occur without intervention of God. I expect this barrier to be broken as well. I believe that scientists will be able to be confident within a few years as to the basic processes by which life is formed. Those who are waiting for a barrier here, who believe that there will be proof that God is needed at the point of formation of life (in a way other than he is needed for existence itself) will be disappointed as we learn the natural processes involved in the emergence of life.

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Comment #43058

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 15, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

Thanks for the thoughtful essay. My sentiment is also that ID is simply distasteful theology, quite independent of being scientifically vacuous. A problem that ID faces theologically comes from the claim that one can detect special instances of the Designer’s action (i.e. “too complex not to have been ID-ed”). Besides being a dubious claim in the first place, if it were true observable phenomena would then be divided into two classes: those special enough that the Designer must have tweaked it and the not-so-special, mundane remainder of observable phenomena. The theological problem is that this claim makes much (most?) of the world we experience unworthy of reverence or appreciation. IMO, a theologically preferable posture is precisely the opposite, i.e. one in which the whole of what we experience - perhaps in particular the mundane - is a vehicle in, with and under which one is graciously sustained by God. Dividing the universe into “designed” and “not special enough to consider designed” implicity denies (theologically) the all-source, all-sustaining acknowledgement of the Creator.

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #43062

Posted by Chance on August 15, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

This is a weak argument. Interesting read but a weak argument.

[quote]In the case of the claim of a physical resurrection, even if it happened, it was either singular or rare.[/quote]

Lazarus was a physical body. So where many of the other ‘God men’ who as recorded as being resurrected. So I don’t think the singular works well as an argument, the rare, well yes it is rare for dead people to get up and walk around.

[quote]The resulting body would be indistinguishable from any other living body, and it had negligible impact on the physical universe.[/quote]

How could one know this. I could be mistaken but doesn’t the bible describe Jesus as having abit of a glow? And doesn’t it also have him ascend to heaven? I would say a body that does these things has a substantial impact on the physical universe.

[quote]The fact that the first two theories I mentioned exist, and have considerable support amongst Christians, indicates that the physical fact of resurrection itself may have less impact than the simple belief that the resurrection took place.[/quote]

Well of course. If you ask 100 people if dead people rise and walk and talk, 100–well lets say 99 of the 100– would say no. But ask them about the religion they were raised with and the responses will differ. Doesn’t make it any more true.

[quote]Intelligent design suggest a constant, measurable intervention in part of the process. Most miracle claims suggest a singular intervention. One could not produce a “theory of miracles” because they are not supposed to happen with regularity. Miracles are not going to have much impact on science simply because even the claims of miracles are rather rare. We tend to notice miracle claims because they are the exception. Ordinary historical events don’t get noticed. Nobody puts a story on the news when they notice a water stain that looks like a water stain. But if it looks like the Virgin Mary, it will be all over. Claims that things are going normally just don’t make the news.[/quote]

I don’t know what planet you currently inhabit. Supposed miracles make the news quite frequently, even daily. It’s the quality of such claims that precludes their impact on science, not their abundance.

Comment #43067

Posted by Frank Schmidt on August 15, 2005 10:56 AM (e)

As Father Hesburgh, former Pres. of Notre Dame, said

“Biology does not study miracles.”

Comment #43072

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 11:23 AM (e)

It is not intended to provoke arguments over the validity of Christianity or theism in general because that is not the concern of this blog. Hence, we would ask that any comments be restricted to the subject of the theological validity of ID and its relation to science education rather than the rational validity of Christianity.

How is the theological validity of ID the concern of this blog? Doesn’t this open the door to a claim that the theological validity of science, evolution, materialism, etc. is fair game in a science class, if it’s appropriate at an evolutionary science blog?

It’s interesting that some people here have been screaming up and down that discussing religion here is terrible and will lose the culture war, and yet one after the other of the articles posted to PT have been focused on religion, which virtually guarantees that religion will be discussed and debated.

Comment #43073

Posted by Greg Peterson on August 15, 2005 11:25 AM (e)

Of course, one of the key sticking points in the resurrection myth is that the authors seem to have wanted to have it both ways: the disciples handle Jesus’ flesh (remember Thomas putting his fingers into the wounds?), and Jesus eats some fish in a flashy display meant to assure the reader that this was no mere ghost–and then Jesus walks through walls!

Paul, writing before the Gospel accounts were completed, describes Jesus as having a spirit body, as noted, that is not flesh and blood…which hardly sounds indistinguishable from a regular old body, as the essay implies. Of course, Paul never actually met Jesus “in the flesh,” so perhaps his oxymoronic phrase is excusable. Are Paul’s encounters with Jesus mystical and visionary rather than material, face-to-face meetings, on the basis of Paul’s phrasing of the kind of Jesus he met? It’s not possible to know. Just as it is not possible to know that a god did not set the evolutionary sequence in motion or does not act “behind the scenes” in ways not detectable or distinct from natural processes. What we can state with some confidence is that while nothing in science can ever rule out all possible theisms, science has gone some distance in showing that nothing in observed reality requires, in principle, the kind of miraculous interventions recorded in revealed religions.

Comment #43075

Posted by harold on August 15, 2005 11:29 AM (e)

Henry -

I think it’s clear that ID is, in addition to its scientific vacuity, incompatible with Christianity of almost any form as well.

Although many Christians believe in miracles (I don’t, in the usual sense of the term), Christian teaching makes it clear miracles, or other “proofs” of God, are NOT to be expected.

ID essentially claims that God has studded the universe with physical proof of intervention, visible to geniuses like Dembski. The primary goal of this claim is actually, in my view, to discredit the views of political opponents of one particular party and undermine democracy (by falsely labelling all opposition “atheist”). This is mere informed conjecture on my part, however. If this is true, then ID is incompatible with Christianity on this ground (even if it were “accidentally true”, acting on such a devious motivation would be unethical), but we can “never know for sure”, unless an ID advocate eventually confesses that this was his motivation.

But a secondary goal, one that is inherent in the arguments of ID regardless of the motives of its authors, is to “reassure” believers that they don’t need to make any effort or struggle with any doubt, because Dembski and Behe have shown that God had to “design” the human blood clotting system (unless it was “superintelligent aliens”, wink, wink, chuckle, chuckle). The implicit message is that ID believers should behave like Christians only because they have physical proof that it will pay off for them; otherwise, why would a desperate search for “proof” be needed? I don’t know of any Christian theology that endorses that attitude. It’s intensely cynical. “Okay, I’ll stop mistreating other people if you can PROVE that I’ll get to heaven for it”.

A naive well-meaning Christian might believe in ID out of ignorance, assuming that DI “scientists” knew what they were talking about. A sincere Christian with adequate education and time to evaluate the arguments would eventually have to conclude that ID is NOT compatible with Christianity.

Many people would like to equate ID with Christianity. For one thing, ID advocates and certain political groups that label themselves as “Christian” (incorrectly, in my view) promote the idea that ID IS somehow valuable to Christianity. But the fact is that the two aren’t really compatible.

On this site, and perhaps elsewhere, opponents of the general concept of Christianity (seldom carefully defined) in all its forms may be tempted to equate ID with Christianity as well. However, it should be understood that they are not the same thing. You can certainly disagree with them both, but that does not make them the same.

Comment #43077

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 11:37 AM (e)

science has gone some distance in showing that nothing in observed reality requires, in principle, the kind of miraculous interventions recorded in revealed religions.

Indeed, science has gone some distance in showing that we have no need for theological critiques of ID.

Comment #43078

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 11:43 AM (e)

I think it’s clear that ID is, in addition to its scientific vacuity, incompatible with Christianity of almost any form as well.

Although many Christians believe in miracles (I don’t, in the usual sense of the term), Christian teaching makes it clear miracles, or other “proofs” of God, are NOT to be expected.

Well, it’s quite obvious that Christian IDists subscribe to a form of Christianity that doesn’t accept that little bit of dogma, so this argument of yours is vacuous, like virtually all theological argument, because in theology anything goes – absolutely any proposition whatsoever can be accepted on “faith”.

Comment #43081

Posted by Greg Peterson on August 15, 2005 11:48 AM (e)

Harold:

The situation is worse than miracles not being expected; they should be positively abhored. Not only do miracles not aid faith, but according to several Bible passages, they simply make things worse for faith:

God’s great miracles through Moses filled Egypt with undeniable evidence for the God of Israel (Ex. 9:27). Yet neither the Bible nor history records Egyptian repentance, only good riddance (Ps. 105:38; Ex. 12:35-36; 14:25). Further and more dramatic, consider the effect of those tremendous miracles on Israel. God followed the 10 plagues (Ex. 7:14-12:30) done on behalf of Israel with the parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:21-22) and the drowning of the Egyptian army (Ex. 14:26-28). Then daily for 40 years God appeared to the entire nation as a column of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex. 13:21-22; Num. 14:14; Neh. 9:12; Ps. 105:39). The Lord kept their clothes from wearing out (Deut. 8:4), produced water out of the Rock (Ex. 17:2-6), fed the people with food from heaven (Ex. 16:4-7) and brought meat on demand, literally filling their camp with quail (Num. 11:31-32; Ps. 105:40).

Yet with all this, virtually the entire nation rejected God:

For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? … Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? Heb. 3:16-17

…and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation… was gone. Num. 32:13

Pretty much the last thing any theist should want is miraculous intervention. It appears to foster the worse kind of unbelief.

Comment #43087

Posted by Louis on August 15, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

TS,

I’m half with you half not with you. I would heartily agree that “science has gone some distance in showing that we have no need for theological critiques of ID.”. Just as I would heartily agree that “science has gone some distance in showing that nothing in observed reality requires, in principle, the kind of miraculous interventions recorded in revealed religions.”.

However, theological critiques of ID and standard creationism are useful, but not from a scientific perspective. The purpose of this blog expressedly includes critiques of the claims of the antievolution movement. Some of those claims are theological in nature. Thus it is well within the remit of this blog to discuss not only the scientific ramifications of the scientific claims, but also the theological ramifications of the theological claims. Add to that the simple fact that it may be possible to persuade some ID/creationism converts of the vacuosity of their claims by using a theological critique, and really don’t see any problem. There is more than one way to skin a cat, just as there is more than one basis to criticise ID creationism, and more than one way to pursue an argument

Now to me personally, as an atheist, I think theological critiques are useless. TO ME. They may, however not be useless TO SOMEONE ELSE. I don’t expect that a) everyone has to think like I do, b) come to the same conclusions I have come to by precisely the same route, or c) like/dislike the same things I like/dislike.

The fact of the matter is that whilst I would strongly assert that reason (and thus the scientific) method is the only reliable lens we have to examine the universe through (and I could back this up too!), not everyone thinks this way. Sadly they are wrong. Not because they disagree with me, but because the evidence is against them. Sometimes you have to reach other people on their terms, no matter how daft. That way, they might actually grow to understand things on your terms, rather than just react.

This is why I am half with you, half agin you on this one. Henry has presented an interesting article that may be of use to someone, even if it isn’t useful to me or you (it was interesting to me). Simply because it is a religious article does automatically make it totally useless or worthy of scorn.

Comment #43090

Posted by frank schmidt on August 15, 2005 12:18 PM (e)

ts (not Tim S), me boyo, take a deep breath. Have a sip of camomile. Think happy thoughts. Better? I thought so.

Now, let’t get to the heart of the matter. As Genie Scott and Glen Branch have pointed out, creationists since Bryan repeat three mantras: (1) Evolution isn’t real science. (2)Evolution is incompatible with religion. (3)It’s only fair to teach both sides. That these statements are bold-faced lies does not obviate the fact that they are useful to the fundies. It is important to counter all these directly and indirectly, and in a way that does not alienate the polity we are trying to win over. The success of science (not just evolution) depends on it.

(1) We have a natural advantage here. Why do you think the YEC’ers have to show Adam and Eve with a (hebivorous) dinosaur? They recognize the power of the image for science, and the way in which it resonates with kids. On the other hand, we all need to do a much better job of showing what science is, and how that definition fits evolution. Think Mr. Wizard. Or Beekman. Or local science museums.

(2) The only way that the creationists can defend this statement is by defining all evolution-believers as “non-Christian” and non-Christian as “irreligious,” thereby winning their internal war against Catholics, Orthodox, mainstream Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Quakers, Unitarians, etc., etc. This is our wedge, and we need to hammer it in at every opportunity. Your and others’ personal opinions about definitions, validity, logical consistency, etc., of (a)theism are irrelevant to this effort.

Religious people are not religious because of a supreme act of willful irrationality; they are religious because they see evidence of God, whether it’s evidence of design, beauty, family love, or something else. Anti-creationists cannot allow themselves to be sucked into the trap you are so artfully laying out. If your purpose is not to defend evolution but to rant on atheism, please go to the many sites that are devoted to this topic.

(3) Again, if the debate is over theism vs. atheism, then it will be necessary to teach both sides, and we will be on an endless loop. If we are able to recast it into science vs. non-science, then we can win. Not everyone but enough so that we can get back to the important stuff: education and discovery.

Comment #43091

Posted by harold on August 15, 2005 12:24 PM (e)

ts -

“Well, it’s quite obvious that Christian IDists subscribe to a form of Christianity that doesn’t accept that little bit of dogma, so this argument of yours is vacuous, like virtually all theological argument”

As usual, you take a small snippet out of context, and ignore the overall message.

The point is that Christianity, even as defined by ID advocates, is incompatible with ID.

While in theory someone might exist who would say “my interpretation of Christianity allows me to lie about science, especially to school children and naive lay people, in an effort to trick others into believing that the existence of my particular God has been ‘proven’, and therefore I support ID”, in practice, virtually no-one would agree with that position. Even if some ID advocate did advance such a statement, which is most unlikely, it would not be accepted as a valid interpretation of Christianity by theologians or the public at large.

Although Christianity is admittedly diverse, certain behaviors are so clearly in violation of Christian ethics that a “theological” claim to the contrary would be nonsensical. Killing a stranger on the street for the existential thrill of it, for example. At a less eggregious level, the claim that lying about testable, measurable physical reality in order to trick people is “Christian” is nonsensical.

Some people do claim to be Christian, but behave in ways that make a mockery of a claim, and this happens a good deal at the DI. It has happened in far more serious ways throughout history. But an example of someone hypocritically claiming to be Christian is not the same thing as someone holding a theologic view. If someone claims to be a secular humanist, but then violates the rights and dignity of another human being, this does not mean that doing so is a valid interpretation of secular humanism. It means that the claim to be a secular humanist in the first place was false.

It is true that ID can be dismissed scientifically, without reference to theology or ethics. However, the fact that it is incompatible with Christianity is valid as well. Why should its false claim to being “Christian” go unchallenged.

Comment #43098

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on August 15, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

I rather like it that critiques such as this appear in PT. When it is shown that ID is ridiculous both scientifically and theologically, it’s that much easier to convince misguided school boards (who are, after all, the ID proponent’s major target) that ID is bogus.

I’ve been wondering for many years how creationists (of any self-label) can continue to call themselves Christian and adhere to a religion which demands faith, while at the same time seeking to undermine the need for faith itself. After all, if you can prove your claims scientifically, haven’t you just made faith superfluous?

Comment #43099

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on August 15, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

Despite some picky quibbles above, we have here a good distinction between what might be called religious miracles, communicating some point to certain people, and behind the scenes engineering because natural processes aren’t quite good enough.

Other theological problems:
That chemist Behe discovering God in his own image. Is it blasphemy?
The Designer of life on earth and unspecified features of the universe isn’t God? Is the Designer a previously unknown and un Biblical entity between God and creation? Or is the Designer above God?

But we know who they really mean. They think their Designer is the Christian God. Really? Nothing in the Bible about flagella. The God of the DI is God of the gaps, based on what we allegedly don’t know, not on revelation.

Comment #43103

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 1:23 PM (e)

As usual, you take a small snippet out of context, and ignore the overall message.

As usual you display your offsensive arrogance. I am not obliged to respond to every word you write, or to restrict myself to what you think is important.

The point is that Christianity, even as defined by ID advocates, is incompatible with ID.

That’s absurd; there is no such thing as “Christianity as defined by ID advocates”.

While in theory someone might exist who would say “my interpretation of Christianity allows me to lie about science,

It is your assumption that all IDists think it’s a lie, but you’re almost certainly wrong. IDists are not restricted to the staff of DI, much as many folks at PT like to indulge in such fantasies. But none of that is relevant, because the behavior of IDists has absolutely no bearing on whether ID is incompatible with Christianity, any more than the behavior of scientists has any bearing on whether evolution is compatible with the scientific method. Conflating the behavior of IDists with the proposition of ID is quite conceptually confused.

However, the fact that it is incompatible with Christianity is valid as well.

No, it isn’t. Christianity isn’t limited to what you consider to be Christianity. And besides your arguments are full of holes. And even if they weren’t they wouldn’t sway anyone from a position they already hold.

Comment #43105

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 1:27 PM (e)

When it is shown that ID is ridiculous both scientifically and theologically, it’s that much easier to convince misguided school boards (who are, after all, the ID proponent’s major target) that ID is bogus.

What misguided school board is going to buy any of the theological arguments presented here? And who is going to present them to these school boards? Theistic evolutionists? Really really really bad idea.

Comment #43109

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 1:44 PM (e)

Louis wrote:

Simply because it is a religious article does automatically make it totally useless or worthy of scorn.

Ahem. Please respond to my second sentence in #43072 instead of worrying about “scorn”. The whole point of ID and the wedge is to displace secular science from its authoritative position and introduce “alternative” forms of argumentation. And here folks are, playing right into that. A science/evolution blog criticizing ID on theological grounds not only opens up the door to theological criticism of science and evolution on “fair play” grounds, it validates the DI position that science shouldn’t be limited to naturalistic explanation.

frank schmidt wrote:

ts (not Tim S), me boyo, take a deep breath. Have a sip of camomile. Think happy thoughts. Better? I thought so.

Sorry, “me boyo”, but such patronizing comments don’t make me receptive to what you have to say.

Comment #43112

Posted by Dan S. on August 15, 2005 1:54 PM (e)

Frank and Greg - very nice comments; and a interesting essay! Everyone familar with Ken Miller’s argument? - God got in right the first time;

“[if] a string of constant miracles were needed for each turn of the cell cycle or each flicker of a cilium, the hand of God would be written directly into every living thing - his presence at the edge of the human sandbox would be unmistakable. Such findings might confirm our faith, but they would also undermine our independence. How could we fairly choose between God and man when the presence and the power of the divine so obviously and so literally controlled our every breath? … In biological terms, evolution is the only way a Creator could have made us the creatures we are - free beings in a world of authentic and meaningful moral and spiritual choices.

Ironically, this link is from the Weisberg article - just click on “Darwinists who call themselves Christians”! That would be (2) in Frank’s post, I think …

It’s very odd (or perhaps not) how you get mirror-image arguments here, as a post on Telic Thoughts gleefully points out, from Weisberg’s dependence on the evolution-destroyed-Darwin’s-faith meme, to the claims - echoing Cardinal Schonborn - that evolution insists on *metaphysical* claims about guidedness in any form. A nagging cough on both their houses!

Comment #43114

Posted by frank schmidt on August 15, 2005 1:56 PM (e)

ts (not..):

such patronizing comments don’t make me receptive to what you have to say.

As if I were expecting it. Are you sure you’re not a troll?

Comment #43119

Posted by Hiero5ant on August 15, 2005 2:09 PM (e)

Might I suggest that there would be considerably less bilious acrimony in the comment section in threads such as have been posted in the last few days if people would kindly knock it off with the amphiboly already? This is really freshman intro to logic stuff.

“ID is theologically incompatible with Christianity.”

True AND False.

“ID is theologically incompatible with SOME Christianity.”

True.

“ID is theologically incompatible with ALL Christianity.”

False.

“Evolution is incompatible with Christianity.”

True AND false.

“Evolution is incompatible with SOME Christianity.”

True.

“Evolution is incompatible with ALL Christianity.”

False.

Is ID interventionism “bad” theology? I would suggest that this is another meaningless and hopelessly unanswerable question. While I appreciate the rhetorical and political utility of using this as a “reverse wedge”, the plain fact is that ID is only “bad” theology for SOME sects of theism, and I don’t see how any intellectual struggle can be won by calling it “bad” to people according to whose theology it is a logical necessity – unfortunately, such people appear to comprise the bulk of the ID movement.

Comment #43120

Posted by Chance on August 15, 2005 2:16 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #43132

Posted by Chance on August 15, 2005 2:36 PM (e)

Miller gets lost on theology, really lost when making the leap from existence of God to the Christian God he was raised with but this has been enumerated in many forums.

He says:
‘his presence at the edge of the human sandbox would be unmistakable. Such findings might confirm our faith, but they would also undermine our independence. How could we fairly choose between God and man when the presence and the power of the divine so obviously and so literally controlled our every breath? ‘

How would it undermine our independence? You would have hard evidence that God exists. It would provide for an informed choice. And then he sets up a false dicotomy, choosing between God and man? If you had God standing before you it would make the choice at least evidential. As it is all you are really doing is choosing man or man. what this man says about God or that man says about God. You simply don’t have enough evidence to make the other choice real.

then he says:
‘evolution is the only way a Creator could have made us the creatures we are - free beings in a world of authentic and meaningful moral and spiritual choices.’

Why? Why would an all powerful creator HAVE to do it this way. Again it’s a logical fallacy. And needless to say what one religion considers moral another doesn’t so your right back at square one with this baloney.

Comment #43136

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 15, 2005 2:46 PM (e)

such patronizing comments don’t make me receptive to what you have to say.

As if I were expecting it. Are you sure you’re not a troll?

Your comment was addressed to me and their surface content was about me relaxing and, it seemed, being receptive to whast followed; thus, it appeared as though you might be expecting receptivity. As for your question, yes, I’m sure I’m not a troll, OTOH, patronization and asking whether I’m a troll certainly seem trollish.

Comment #43139

Posted by L.T. Paladin on August 15, 2005 2:57 PM (e)

This is an interesting twist to say the least. Generally I have heard skeptics of evolution critisized for having a religious problem with it, yet who is using religion as a weapon here?

Comment #43141

Posted by Henry Neufeld on August 15, 2005 3:09 PM (e)

L. T. Paladin wrote:

This is an interesting twist to say the least. Generally I have heard skeptics of evolution critisized for having a religious problem with it, yet who is using religion as a weapon here?

I would suggest that when theological arguments are brought against evolution, it is quite appropriate to examine them as theological arguments. I am not the one who brought theology into the debate. Creationists and advocates of ID did. As a Christian, I’m then frequently “drafted” into a general group who must, as Christians be opposed to the teaching of evolution when people use the argument that “the majority of the community is Christian, so we should teach creationism.”

Because of this I think it is important to point out that not all Christians accept a young earth, or the ID arguments.

Comment #43142

Posted by GH on August 15, 2005 3:10 PM (e)

L.T. Paladin,

Visited your website. Alot of incoherent thought over there and I’m a Christian. Your reference of the nutty JP Holding and his halfbaked articles will be your undoing. I can’t even believe I wrote that nuts name on this distinguished website.

Particuarlly about the survival of the religion. You could just as easily place any religion into that article.

Comment #43143

Posted by Henry Neufeld on August 15, 2005 3:16 PM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

Despite some picky quibbles above, we have here a good distinction between what might be called religious miracles, communicating some point to certain people, and behind the scenes engineering because natural processes aren’t quite good enough.

That was the key issue.

I’m not going to repond to each one of the quibbles. It appears I could be writing all day. But let me point out here that my interest in PT is specifically the defense of science teaching in the classroom. That issue will get one involed in political issues. It will also involve theological issues. I know many Christians who accept evolution, but simply don’t know enough to debate the issue, or are afraid to make the claim. I hope to get some of them to come out of the woodwork. I have no desire here (and really not much anywhere else) to convince someone that my theology is correct.

(That wasn’t all really addressed to you, but I’m not going to be able to comment on everything that has been posted very quickly, so I added a couple of points here.

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

Other theological problems:
That chemist Behe discovering God in his own image. Is it blasphemy?

This brings up an issue someone else mentioned in a comment. Not all Christian theology is identical. There are certainly plenty of people to claim what I say is blasphemous. I think the main difficult with Behe is that he is hanging onto precious evidence for God, and that evidence is almost certain to disappear as more is learned about the contents of the black boxes, as you noted in your next comment–the god of the gaps. The gaps are likely to keep right on disappearing.

Comment #43180

Posted by Jaime Headden on August 15, 2005 5:22 PM (e)

If a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to see it, did God push it over?

If for example Jesus was resurrected, the act itself, however singular and miraculous, would be meaningless to the world if no one knew. The nature of the resurrection was indeed only of relevance because it was said that Jesus appeared to people after he “was risen”, and thus the communication of an appearance or knowledge of his existence post-death was the “miracle”. In this manner, it is the perception, without much criterion for evaluation, that determines the miraculous nature of an event. Application of the miracle was applied afterward, but not from Jesus it seems but his followers: It was said not by Jesus but by Johns the Baptist and the Evangelist that Jesus was the Son of God, of miraculous birth, so that his mere existence and acts were miraculous. This provides that communication, not action, becomes the conveyer of a miracle.

Comment #43202

Posted by carol clouser on August 15, 2005 8:43 PM (e)

Perhaps someone here can help me find the flaw in the following logical progression.

If God intervened in the course of evolution, as ID advocates claim, does it not follow that in the absence of the interventions nature would have taken a different course? Otherwise, why the interventions? That being the case, does it not follow that said interventions must constitute a break or discontinuity in the laws of nature? As such, should not these interventions be scientifically detectable?

Perhaps our knowledge and understanding of the laws of nature or of the conditions at the time are too incomplete or deficient to achieve this detection. But then the claim of ID folks to have scientifically ascertained Godly intervention leads to a real bind. If there were interventions and they did detect them, they must have detected violations of the laws of nature (as embodied by science). What laws were violated? Can they tell us? If there were interventions and they cannot identify them, that must be based on ignorance of science, so they cannot claim to have discovered them scientifically. And if the laws of nature were not violated, there was no real intervention.

The example of a God- inspired thought not being detectable as Godly intervention because people have imaginative thoughts all the time, is not very impressive. The brain is a complicated electrochemical apparatus subject to the laws of nature. We still have a lot to learn about its operation but in principle, given enough data about the conditions inside a brain, the laws of nature should predict what thoughts will occur. Again, our inability to detect God’s intervention is based only on our ignorance, something that is decreasing with every passing day.

Another example that comes to mind is the problematic evolution of sexual reproduction. How did male and female genders evolve parallel to each other if partially developed sexual organs are of no use until both types are fully functional? (I recall reading about this from an evolutionary point of view, but don’t remember the details. If anyone here can help refresh my memory would be appreciated.) So this area is ripe for Godly intervention. According to some translations of the story of Adam and Eve in the original Hebrew version of the Bible, God provides the necessary intervention. Not by taking a “rib” (that is just another mistranslation of the Hebrew “tzela” which almost always means “side of” or “characteristic of”) but by creating XY and XX pairs of chromosomes for males and females, respectively, so that it appears as if a “side” of one of these chromosomes has been removed from the male. Of course, if this is the real intent of the Bible it MUST be the word of God since none of this was known thousands of years ago. (For further reading on this I recommend Judah Landa’s IN THE BEGINNING OF and, oh, before I forget, I did work as editor on this book). Are there enough gaps in our knowledge to make room for such intervention?

Finally, why not just propose that the universe and the laws of nature were originally designed intelligently so that no further interventions were necessary? Is an ominipotent creator incapble of doing so?

Comment #43207

Posted by harold on August 15, 2005 10:50 PM (e)

I strongly request that poster ts be banned from further contributions.

Although he has only once crossed the line into frank “dirty language”, as far as I know, his comments are mainly non-contributory. As there is no valid content to balance their obsessively hostile, emotionally immature, and uncivil nature, I suggest that he be banned. Behavior has consequences, even on the internet.

Comment #43214

Posted by Adam on August 15, 2005 11:55 PM (e)

Carol, your conception of God is a god of the gaps. You are finding room for God in the gaps in scientific knowledge. That is a very bad strategy, as such gaps tend to be filled.

Comment #43220

Posted by Louis on August 16, 2005 3:14 AM (e)

TS,

Ahem right back atcha! Reading for comprehension not your strong suit TS? Try reading my post again, and then try reading the blog description on the main page.

Here, I’ll lay out the relevant bit:

“The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

Note the comma between the words “movement” and “defend”. Also note that a) some of the claims of the antievolution movement are theological in nature (read any Gish, Morris or Hovind), b) that the disclaimer does not exclude discussion of the theological claims of the antievolution movement.

While you and I agree that ONE (the main one I would guess) of the points of ID and the wedge is to displace secular science, it’s certainly not its ONLY point. One of the other points of these (pseudo)creationist movements (including ID) is to establish a specific theological interpretation of specific religious works. The Wedge document is fairly explicit on precisely what it wishes to acheive. To claim that SOME of what ID/Wedge wishes to acheive is not based on a specific theology is counter to the available evidence.

Also, ID is not the only antievolution movement, nor are the claims of ID the only antievolution claims. This is how it is relevant to the conversations in this blog, and when raised in a seperate thread, it is up to contributors whether or not they participate. If you dislike theological debates, then don’t participate. I personally won’t particpate to any great extent in a theological debate because, like you, I find them vacuous and useless, and I have nothing particualrly insightful to contribute. But it isn’t for me to decide what other people wish to discuss within the express remit of this site.

Criticising ID on theological grounds does not equate to (or even logically allow by “fair play”) theological criticism of science. If ID were science (which it is demonstrably not) then this might be a valid point. ID is, to partly quote Dembski, “the Logos theology of John the Bapist…”. In this and many other ways the theological underpinnings of ID are plain for all to see. It is possible therefore to critique ID on the grounds of how and why it is espoused, i.e. theology. Like I have said several times, this is not a useful intellectual way to critique ID, but it may serve to allow certain people who are not yet capable of, or open to, scientific reasoning to understand that ID (and its ilk) are actually damaging to their religion as well as to a wider variety of social and intellectual things.

It is only to someone who considers ID scientific that theological criticism of ID promotes the idea that science shouldn’t be limited to naturalistic explanation. Since the people that think ID scientific are either its proponents, or those people who are ignorant of the facts, and they already think that science shouldn’t be limited to naturalistic explanation, your argument fails. These people already assume (wrongly) that science should admit non-naturalistic explanations.

Comment #43225

Posted by Alan on August 16, 2005 6:10 AM (e)

ts

Did you miss this?

Comment #43231

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

Ahem right back atcha! Reading for comprehension not your strong suit TS?

It is, actually. You wrote “Simply because it is a religious article does automatically make it totally useless or worthy of scorn.”
My “ahem” was to draw your attention to the fact that I had not claimed that it was “automatically” useless or worth of scorn; I gave my reasons for why I thought this was a bad approach.

Comment #43233

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on August 16, 2005 8:04 AM (e)

The scientific and technical aspects of ID are assessable without considering religion. The political aspects of ID are only understandable in the light of religion (are there any other groups – have there ever been any other groups – pressing for exposure in schools for purely scientific reasons?). The religious aspects of ID are probably incompatible with mainstream Christian dogma, but then so many strands of Christianity are mutually incompatible I doubt this is significant. People will pick and choose which aspects of Christianty they want to believe, just as they always have done, and the day someone invents a mathematical filter for determining which bits of theology are sufficiently unlikely to have evolved by chance, I’ll eat the Pope’s tiara.

R

Comment #43235

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 8:23 AM (e)

Did you miss this?

I did miss that, Alan. Thanks for pointing it out; I’ve responded to you over there.

Comment #43236

Posted by Louis on August 16, 2005 8:23 AM (e)

TS,

You did not claim it was worthy of scorn, you actually scorned the argument and the approach. I was, and indeed am, disagreeing with you on that basis. You don’t need to claim that it’s worthy of scorn if what you do is scorn it. Not only that, but quoting me sans context STILL doesn’t prove your point. Neither does quoting one tiny part of a longer argument.

You did indeed give your reasons for why you thought the approach was poor, and I and others have disagreed with some of them. Would you care to address the substance of those disagreements?

Comment #43240

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 8:45 AM (e)

I think Neufeld’s post is exactly what is needed on PT. Otherwise, PT becomes merely another atheist echo chamber, in which the steady chant of “naturalistic explanation” loses all perspective. If science is so weak that a “fair play” attack on it will have devastating cultural impact then, I say, it’s about time we engaged in the theological message of good science. Personally, after recent encounters with some of the regular atheist kibizters, I have little faith in atheists being capable of sustaining a defense of science by themselves.

Comment #43254

Posted by Chance on August 16, 2005 10:09 AM (e)

in which the steady chant of “naturalistic explanation” loses all perspective>

See this is what is silly. Givesomething that is provably supernatural and not just some idea you pull out of your rear end and we can then discuss non naturalistic alternatives. But until that time you are just blowing smoke.

Or alternatively once religion comes to an agreement on exactly what religion believes it’s place in this discussion is pointless.

Comment #43255

Posted by Rob on August 16, 2005 10:18 AM (e)

There are millions of educated people of religious faith in the U.S. that are just as disgusted with creationism and intelligent design as the some of the more vocal atheistic supporters of evolutionary biology; it would be foolish to cast aside their support. In my opinion, it will be these people of faith who end up winning this debate for us in the public arena; as they are the ones who are capable of demonstrating that faith and evolution are compatible to the 90% of people in America that are religious, and are not about to change their minds.

The negative theological implications of ID are definitely worth listening to for this reason alone.

Comment #43258

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 10:36 AM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

Finally, why not just propose that the universe and the laws of nature were originally designed intelligently so that no further interventions were necessary?

You can propose anything you want. But how do you go about proving this? I can propose that the Great Spaghetti Noodle did the same thing…at least we have a picture of this entity!

carol clouser wrote:

Is an ominipotent creator incapble of doing so?

What is failed to be realized is that no creator is needed to make it happen.

Here is a great explaination of what I mean:

Michael Wong of www.creationtheory.org wrote:

This is the logical principle of parsimony, known in this context as Occam’s Razor. The basic idea is that if theory A is just as accurate as theory B but requires more terms, then those extra terms must be redundant. This will be a familiar concept to any mathematician; if you have two equations for a curve-fit and both are equally accurate, then the one which accomplishes this task with the least number of terms is superior. For example, since God is inscrutable, the inclusion of God cannot give a scientific theory any predictive capabilities that it didn’t have before. Therefore, God is a redundant term, and that’s why it is never found in any legitimate scientific theory.

I assume it ok to substitute Omnipotient Creator or even Intelligent Designer for the word God in the above quote, and you get the same results.

Comment #43259

Posted by Chance on August 16, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

‘In my opinion, it will be these people of faith who end up winning this debate for us in the public arena; as they are the ones who are capable of demonstrating that faith and evolution are compatible to the 90% of people in America that are religious’

90%(debatable stat) of Americans are religious, thats how many profess a God belief. Being religious and having a God belief are two entirely different things.

I’m a theist and a Christian, but honestly evolution gives me trouble if I’m honest about it.

Comment #43260

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 10:49 AM (e)

Louis wrote:

TS,

You did not claim it was worthy of scorn, you actually scorned the argument and the approach. I was, and indeed am, disagreeing with you on that basis. You don’t need to claim that it’s worthy of scorn if what you do is scorn it. Not only that, but quoting me sans context STILL doesn’t prove your point. Neither does quoting one tiny part of a longer argument.

Let me reword what I wrote:

You wrote “Simply because it is a religious article does automatically make it totally useless or worthy of scorn.”
My “ahem” was to draw your attention to the fact that I had not claimed that it was “automatically” useless nor did I “automatically” scorn it; I gave my reasons for why I thought this was a bad approach.

Would you care to address the substance of those disagreements?

With you quibbling and throwing around words like “automatically” and with Harold calling for me to be banned, it’s really not profitable for me to do so. You can take that as capitulating to your arguments, if you like. I do hope that the efforts that people are making here to craft theological arguments against ID will prove beneficial, but I would be surprised by that outcome.

Comment #43261

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 10:55 AM (e)

Louis, one additional comment:

Lurker wrote:

I think Neufeld’s post is exactly what is needed on PT. Otherwise, PT becomes merely another atheist echo chamber, in which the steady chant of “naturalistic explanation” loses all perspective. If science is so weak that a “fair play” attack on it will have devastating cultural impact then, I say, it’s about time we engaged in the theological message of good science.

I think this highlights some of what I am concerned about, but I’ll leave you to form your own judgment.

Comment #43263

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 10:57 AM (e)

“provably supernatural”?

Why must the supernatural be provable when science is understood to be unprovable? Or are you under the notion that only things which are provable can either exist or have meaning?

“not just some idea you pull out of your rear end”

So do you agree that all theistic evolutionists are defective thinkers for subscribing to a religion that they pulled out of their rear end? Why do you want the support of TEists in evolution or evolutionary research if they are such defective thinkers?

“we can then discuss non naturalistic alternatives”

Do you only discuss things that you can prove and has not been pulled out of a rear end? More to the point, what is the point of discussing what is proven?

“Or alternatively once religion comes to an agreement on exactly what religion believes it’s place in this discussion is pointless.”

This is absurd, coming from one of the atheists who cannot, most of the time, agree whether they are strong, weak, or agnostic. Whether they are objective moralists, subjective moralists, or amoralists. Whether they subscribe to spiritualism, materialism, or nihilism.

Comment #43264

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 11:00 AM (e)

I retract my accusation that Chance was an atheist. I failed to read his post before posting mine. My apologies.

Comment #43265

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on August 16, 2005 11:09 AM (e)

No, Lurker, it is you who have no idea what you are talking about when discussing atheism with an atheist.

But since you’ve displayed all the signs of being an agent provocateur (French for “despicable troll”), from now on I’ll simply ignore your dishonest baiting.

Comment #43266

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 11:25 AM (e)

Lurker wrote:

More to the point, what is the point of discussing what is proven?

Ask any creationist or ID’er, or YEC’er the same question.

Lurker wrote:

Why must the supernatural be provable when science is understood to be unprovable?

It is my understanding that science attempts to define or explain the world around us using logic, rules, tests, and predictions. It is not understood to me that science in unprovable. That doesn’t make any sense. But this is just my interpretation. Science was created (IMHO) to do away with the notions of myths, legends, fairy tails, and etc. So by it’s own right, anything once considerd supernatural that can be explained by rational thought (e.g. lightning and thunder) only benefits mankind.

Comment #43267

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 11:28 AM (e)

Hmm, I am reviled by atheists on a theological thread. I must be in the right place.

Aureola Nominee, let me ask you, is Henry Neufeld lying about his reconciliation with evolution (evidence of absence of his God) and God? Or is he merely a defective thinker?

Comment #43268

Posted by harold on August 16, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

Oh, and by the way…

“As usual you display your offsensive arrogance. I am not obliged to respond to every word you write, or to restrict myself to what you think is important”

Translation - I will quote mine whatever you write, taking snippets out of context that I find easy to superficially contradict, rather than addressing the point.

What an irrational, illogical cop-out! Of course you are obliged to address the actual point someone is making, not a snipped out quote distorted into irrelevance, if you want your posts to have any meaning.

And I don’t know if there’s a term in logic for “the pot calling the kettle stainless steel”, but if there is, this royally qualifies.

At any rate, I strongly urge that this poster be banned, on the grounds that his contributions are persistently non-contributory, disruptive, obsessively voluminous, and exceptionally uncivil.

Comment #43269

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 11:38 AM (e)

“It is not understood to me that science in unprovable. That doesn’t make any sense. But this is just my interpretation.”

A scientific theory cannot logically preclude the possibility of a falsifying example that overturns it. That is what I mean when I say that “science is unprovable”. What do you think it means that science is provable, Miah?

Comment #43274

Posted by harold on August 16, 2005 11:54 AM (e)

I must say, I have been startled by need many atheists feel to defend the rational nature of their position, and the apparent need many of them feel to argue that it is the only possible rational position.

Most of my friends are either overt atheists, or so disinterested in religion of any type that they don’t even stop to consider themselves atheists. It never occurred to me, until the last few weeks, that anyone would be defensive about the perfectly rational nature of this particular philosophic view. Previously, the only people I ever saw railing about the “necessity” of believing in God were creationists, and I was astounded that anyone would ever suggest that it was or should be “necessary to believe in God” (or bother to implicitly defend against this nonsense assertion).

I don’t agree that atheism is the “only rational” view, but that’s a long convoluted philosophical discussion, best suited for other venues. Atheism, by any reasonable definition, is a rational viewpoint, no-one is denying that.

There are two points related to religion that ARE relevant to this forum. ONE is that many religious leaders state that their religious views are not threatened by science, and that they endorse good science education.

http://www.mindandlife.org/hhdl.science_section.html

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/5025_statements_from_religious_orga_12_19_2002.asp

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0504505.htm

Relevant point number TWO is that ID advocates always claim to be defenders of Christianity, sometimes in a sneaky rather than overt way, and all promoters of ID in science education claim to be acting in defense of Christianity, but ID is INCOMPATIBLE with Christianity, even broadly defined, on two grounds - A) It is, in essence, a cynical demand for physical “proof” of God, something that Christianity almost never endorses and B) It is fundamentally dishonest - it is not true - the claims that magic is required for the evolution of the bacterial flagellum or the human blood clotting system, that statistics or information theory somehow argue against biological evolution, etc, are false claims - telling someone that these are valid scientific views is false.

This may be most relevant to Christians, but it is relevant to all opponents of ID as well. ID is being forced into schools, on the explicit or implicit grounds that it is more compatible with Christianity than mainstream science. Yet the opposite is the case. It is INCOMPATIBLE with almost all interpretations of Christianity (even Biblical literalism argues against dishonesty and demands for “proof”), whereas mainstream science is perfectly compatible with many mainstream Christian traditions, according to Christian theologians, as linked above.

Comment #43276

Posted by Louis on August 16, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

TS,

Ok, I’ll withdraw the “automatically”. I was in error, my bad, mea culpa.

As for what Harold wants, let’s just say I don’t agree with him and leave that there. Certainly don’t appear to capitulate for fear of my joining that chorus. I’m more than capable of dealing with dissent and ideas I don’t like.

I think you forget that we’re probably singing from the same hymn sheet (joke intended) viz the utility of theological arguments to you, me and people like us. And even with dear old Lurker sticking in a very poorly thought out oar, the point still remains. Of course some people will think precisely as you described, I never disagreed that some people would think this way, just that all would.

Like many people have mentioned here several times, the majority of people in the majority if nations on this planet claim to be (or at least think of themselves as) religious. Whether that “religiousness” is doctrinaire, dogmatic, rational or simply wishful thinking is irrelevant. The simple fact is that large numbers of people self-identify with religions of various depths and types. Calling them all benighted idiots for believing poppycock (no matter how true or untrue that might be) and dealing with them as if that were the case will alienate the vast majority. Not only that, but a large number of people either aren’t interested in or capable of the level of reasoning required for some scientific discourse. I wish it were the case that everyone was capable and interested, but it simply isn’t.

A multifaceted debunking of various creationist proposals will serve to mop up those people for whom a single pronged attack would fail. For some the theological arguments (perhaps simply comparing and contrasting the implications of ID/creationism and their professed faith) will work, for some it will not. For some it will encourage them to further depths of irrational nonsense (see Lurker). The point being that no one strategy is 100% effective. I think an honest reading (by you) of this thread will show you that, whilst there are the Lurkers of this world, there are also the Henrys, i.e. people who can appreciate and follow both a scientific and a theological argument and distinguish between them. The evidence is there for you to read.

By the way, the inner snark in me couldn’t help but be aware that you STILL haven’t addressed the substance of the points made by me or indeed anyone else. Accusations of quibbling are best directed at those people who focus on one word to the illogical extent that the meaning of a sentence is lost, see “automatic”.

Comment #43278

Posted by Louis on August 16, 2005 12:18 PM (e)

Harold,

Without wishing to cause undue distress: what other rational (in the technical, philosophical sense, not the colloquial sense) viewpoints are there than ones based on the available, reliable, reproducible evidence?

The only one I can think of is weak atheism (surprise surprise!). Deism is a faith position, as indeed are all stripes of pantheism, panentheism, theism, and agnosticism. Strong atheism is also ostensibly a faith position, but it has better support. N.B. Strong atheism as a bare claim is, on the face of it, as irrational (technical sense) as theism. Both are claims based on very incomplete/non-existant evidence. The one thing strong atheism has got going for it is that there is a world of evidence that points away from any of the deities described by humanity thus far. All the evidence we have shows us a universe exactly as would be expected without a deity or deities. But as Bacon showed us, just because all you have seen are white swans, this doesn’t preclude a black swan being around the next corner. However, in this case, my guess would be that there isn’t a black swan around the next corner….but I’ve been wrong before!

Comment #43282

Posted by Alan on August 16, 2005 12:31 PM (e)

harold wrote:

At any rate, I strongly urge that this poster be banned, on the grounds that his contributions are persistently non-contributory, disruptive, obsessively voluminous, and exceptionally uncivil.

Voluminous? Pots, kettles, harold? You could always adopt the “ignoring” strategy, apparently already being done by others.

Seriously, doesn’t banning bring us down to the level of Dembski et al? What about a separate thread for theist vs. atheist wrangling, along the lines of Davison’s Soapbox? And I think we should unban JAD as well, things are a bit duller here without him.

And is that bathroom free yet?
Et Carthago delenda est.

Comment #43284

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 12:33 PM (e)

Lurker wrote:

A scientific theory cannot logically preclude the possibility of a falsifying example that overturns it.That is what I mean when I say that “science is unprovable”. What do you think it means that science is provable, Miah?

Right…the example is falsified. Even then that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the example (model, theory, hypothesis) is modified to fit new information or evidence. And yes, sometimes a new example takes place of an old one [I.E. Bible says earth is flat (old example) Man says earth is a sphere (new example)].

I have no idea what it means by science is provable. I regard such definitions to be relative or perceptual. I wouldn’t say science is provable or disprovable. Only the ideas/hypothesis/theories are provable or unprovable.

I already indicated what (IMHO) science is.

Comment #43290

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 12:53 PM (e)

Yes, I wrote hastily. I referred to science when I meant its ideas/hypothesis/theories. My general point was that it is special pleading to demand different standards for equally rational epistemologies.

“I already indicated what (IMHO) science is.”

You mean by this?

“Science was created (IMHO) to do away with the notions of myths, legends, fairy tails, and etc. So by it’s own right, anything once considerd supernatural that can be explained by rational thought (e.g. lightning and thunder) only benefits mankind.”

Well, I am already in the doghouse with a lot of atheists, so I hope you’re not another one, Miah. But, I disagee with the notion that succesful scientific explanations necessarily displaces the supernatural, nor that it was “created” for that purpose. Yes, as a mode of thinking successful scientific theories certainly do not require supernatural hypotheses. And yes, certain natural hypotheses proposed by religious dogma can be falsified scientifically. But as you mention, models can be modified to fit new information or evidence. There is absolutely no reason why a religious (supernatural) understanding of the world cannot be so modified to make room for naturalistic explanations. (Note: I am not arguing whether such a model is preferable.) Is Neufeld’s post, after all, not an example?

Comment #43299

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 1:25 PM (e)

Lurker wrote:

Well, I am already in the doghouse with a lot of atheists, so I hope you’re not another one, Miah.

I am an dislexic agnostic insomniac. I stay up all night wondering weather there really is a doG.

:o)

Seriously, I was once a Bible Thumping creationist, until I decided to search on my own. In light of new evidences I am not really sure where I stand now. I am leaning more towards an atheistic approach because I see no need for a supernatural being based on logic and rational thought.

Lurker wrote:

There is absolutely no reason why a religious (supernatural) understanding of the world cannot be so modified to make room for naturalistic explanations.

Ahhh, but each time this has happened it has been overturned by a non-religious (non-supernatural) understanding. I must disagree wholeheartedly with that in the fact that when there was nothing but religious (supernatural) understandings of the natrualistic world it did everything BUT progress human kind. The religious (supernatural) understanding had it’s time for 1500 years…Do you know what that time in humanity was called???

The Dark Ages

After the dark ages and since then man without religious (supernatural) understandings have made leaps and bounds in our progression. Would you think it better than we bring back the witch doctors and “healers” whereas it was their religious (supernatural) belief that sickness was caused by demons and evil spirits? MAN has proven without religious (supernatural) understandings that sickness is caused by pathogens, harmful bacteria, and viruses.

I think all the doctors of the world would object to your idea of seeing no reason why we can have religious (supernatural) understanding of the natrualistic world!

Comment #43309

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 2:06 PM (e)

“I am an dislexic agnostic insomniac.”
Oh good, a fellow agnostic. Whew. Well, give me a chance. I may piss you off yet.

Miah, I will defer on the role of religion in impeding or advancing mankind to the historians. Here, for instance is a debate (on an atheist site) on this subject: http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=92865 I reserve judgment.

Nevertheless, historical role of religion on science was not really my point. The relationship between science and religion since the “dark ages” has evolved. Consider, for instance, the oft cited position of the Catholic Church on evolution. My point thus is that a religious outlook need not be static with respect to increasing knowledge.

“I think all the doctors of the world would object to your idea of seeing no reason why we can have religious (supernatural) understanding of the natrualistic world!”

Well, you may be disappointed to read about this survey then: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/5/31/225740.shtml

Then there’s alternative medicine, and wholistic medicine, and prayer… I do not agree with these approaches, but I bring them up, because doctors (like many other groups in modern society) do still struggle with a materialist-only outlook. Not only that, in a world where extension of life expectancy brings all sorts of end-of-life issues, which often involve difficult ethical dilemmas, doctors cannot rely solely on materialistic paradigms.

But I digress. You may be right that religion has hindered science. Granting that, however, does not obligate religious people to insist that their religion necessarily continue to inhibit science. Some do. But it is not necessary. And I further believe that

Comment #43317

Posted by Chance on August 16, 2005 2:42 PM (e)

As mentioned previously and with much labor any discussion of the supernatural is just superflous.

In many ways it is meaningless, it has no standing at all in any avenue of proof. So bringing it into any discussion other than the mainly political tool mentioned above is unproductive.

‘But, I disagee with the notion that succesful scientific explanations necessarily displaces the supernatural’

You can disagree all you want, until you prove the supernatural even exists, you might as well be arguing for Santa Claus and fairies.

‘Henry Neufeld lying about his reconciliation with evolution (evidence of absence of his God) and God? Or is he merely a defective thinker?’

Lying no, defective thinker? Who can say.

Comment #43319

Posted by carol clouser on August 16, 2005 2:54 PM (e)

I am opposed to banning anyone, unless they become totally disruptive. TS has not achieved that status yet. He is all bark and no bite, sniping on the sidelines in an ignorable manner.

King David in Psalms pleads “may sins disappear from the earth”. The sages of the Talmud notice that he does not plead for “sinners” to disappear, but for “sins” to disappear. The lesson to be drawn, say they, is that our goal should be to get sinners to improve their behavior and not that they be eliminated or defeated.

This is not to compare TS to a sinner, God forbid. I am not implying that AT ALL. But let us hope he will improve his demeanor here.

Comment #43320

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

Lurker wrote:

Nevertheless, historical role of religion on science was not really my point. The relationship between science and religion since the “dark ages” has evolved. Consider, for instance, the oft cited position of the Catholic Church on evolution. My point thus is that a religious outlook need not be static with respect to increasing knowledge.

I can’t believe you even brought this up…HAHA Ok, so you want me to think that just because the Catholic Church is finally accepting evolution is an indication that the relationship between science and religion since the “dark ages” has evolved??? WOW this time it only took 150 years to see that “GOD” was wrong!

I agree that the religious outlook need not be static. But often times it is. Or else there wouldn’t be any debate!

Also, religion is in no way qualified to partake in science. Expecially when that religion is trying to push itself on those who see harm in its implications as a science. If anything religion can be discussed along side philosophy. But NOT science. The two are not compatable.

Lurker wrote:

Well, you may be disappointed to read about this survey then: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/5/31/225740.shtml…

No, this doesn’t dissapoint me at all, nor does it surprise me in the least. This does not rebut what I said. This is an anti-evolution propaganda aimed at the layperson. They keep spitting out the same arguments refuted decades ago. In fact the eyeball example was refuted by Darwin himself. You gave me a link to components against evolution.

My argument was that “all” doctors would object to the idea of going back to the practices of old where they have to rely on the casting out of demons and that all illnesses could be cured through prayer.

If you are going to quote me, please do so in the context it was written.

Comment #43321

Posted by GH on August 16, 2005 2:55 PM (e)

‘Then there’s alternative medicine, and wholistic medicine, and prayer… I do not agree with these approaches, but I bring them up, because doctors (like many other groups in modern society) do still struggle with a materialist-only outlook.’

You are confusing personal wishful thinking with treatments that actually work. Doctors don’t struggle with a ‘materialist-only outlook’ whatever that is, not the good ones anyway. The good ones search for treatments and cures that work. The goofy ones and frauds, who I wouldn’t take my dog to, attempt such quackery as alternative medicine and holistic alternatives which have zero credibility. All decent doctors seek to comfort their patients.

‘Not only that, in a world where extension of life expectancy brings all sorts of end-of-life issues, which often involve difficult ethical dilemmas, doctors cannot rely solely on materialistic paradigms’

Really? Why? What is a ‘materialistic paradigm’? Is it that a patient may die?

Comment #43322

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 3:03 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

King David in Psalms pleads “may sins disappear from the earth”. The sages of the Talmud notice that he does not plead for “sinners” to disappear, but for “sins” to disappear. The lesson to be drawn, say they, is that our goal should be to get sinners to improve their behavior and not that they be eliminated or defeated.

This post seems a little bit odd. If you mean sinners as defined by the morals of the Bible, then I shake my head in disbelief. I seriously think it is detramental to bring scripture into this discussion thread. Especially when it is used as an attack on a personality.

Comment #43325

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 3:11 PM (e)

“I am an dislexic agnostic insomniac.”
Oh good, a fellow agnostic. Whew. Well, give me a chance. I may piss you off yet.

Miah, I will defer on the role of religion in impeding or advancing mankind to the historians. Here, for instance is a debate (on an atheist site) on this subject: http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=92865 I reserve judgment.

Nevertheless, historical role of religion on science was not really my point. The relationship between science and religion since the “dark ages” has evolved. Consider, for instance, the oft cited position of the Catholic Church on evolution. My point thus is that a religious outlook need not be static with respect to increasing knowledge.

“I think all the doctors of the world would object to your idea of seeing no reason why we can have religious (supernatural) understanding of the natrualistic world!”

Well, you may be disappointed to read about this survey then: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2005/5/31/225740.shtml

Then there’s alternative medicine, and wholistic medicine, and prayer… I do not agree with these approaches (nor that the survey is the final say), but I bring them up, because doctors (like many other groups in modern society) do supplement a materialist program with religious/spiritual elements. Consider for instance that in a world where extension of life expectancy brings all sorts of end-of-life issues, which often involve difficult ethical dilemmas, doctors cannot rely solely on materialist paradigms in dealing with dying patients. Even when potential treatments or clinical trials are available, doctors are often faced with issues of whether they should continue to offer and pursue a materialistic protocol. Is withdrawal of treatment scientifically valid? Then there are all the scientific research problems that ethicists are debating: human cloning,

You may be right that religion has hindered science. Granting that, however, does not obligate religious people to insist that their religion necessarily continue to inhibit science. Some do. But it is perhaps more important to support those who think such conflict is not necessary. I see Nefueld’s post as evidence of this.

Comment #43326

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

I apologize for duplicate post… I didn’t realize my previous post as I was editing got sent.

Comment #43330

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 3:26 PM (e)

“I can’t believe you even brought this up…HAHA Ok, so you want me to think that just because the Catholic Church is finally accepting evolution is an indication that the relationship between science and religion since the “dark ages” has evolved??? WOW this time it only took 150 years to see that “GOD” was wrong!”

Whoever said evolution, whether cultural or biological, was a quick process??

“Also, religion is in no way qualified to partake in science. Expecially when that religion is trying to push itself on those who see harm in its implications as a science. If anything religion can be discussed along side philosophy. But NOT science. The two are not compatable.”

I am not what gives you leave to make such sweeping generalizations here. Nor do I understand. Are you saying all religions push itself on others to see science as harmful? You have provided not much in terms of evidence of this.

“Really? Why? What is a ‘materialistic paradigm’? Is it that a patient may die?”

I was editing this section before I accidentally submitted. My point is that a materialistic treatment program at some point runs its course. But in modern medicine, even before all options are exhausted, a decision is sometimes made not to continue with the program. How does one scientifically validate that decision?

Comment #43335

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 3:41 PM (e)

“Doctors don’t struggle with a ‘materialist-only outlook’ whatever that is, not the good ones anyway.”

This is most definitely a matter of opinion. Doctors are uniquely in the position to understand that it is not all about the drugs and therapeutic protocols. For instance, patients with religious outlooks definitely report a preference dealing with doctors whom they can openly share their spirituality with. Consider: http://www.annfammed.org/cgi/content/full/2/4/356 What should an atheist doctor say to such a patient?

“The goofy ones and frauds, who I wouldn’t take my dog to, attempt such quackery as alternative medicine and holistic alternatives which have zero credibility.”

Which explains this, of course: http://unisci.com/stories/20013/0821016.htm

You definitely have a choice of doctor, I do not deny you that. I am merely claiming that your preference need not be shared by all.

Comment #43336

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 3:43 PM (e)

Lurker wrote:

Then there are all the scientific research problems that ethicists are debating: human cloning,

There are only problems if one looks at it through the idea that it is wrong to play “God”.

Think about all the people dying in Africa of AIDS. Humanist are advocating the use of contraception while religion is advocating the use of restraint. And religion is winning! There are millions of countless deaths because these religious people are portraying that these people are sinning and they “get what they deserve” to die from being immoral. When will these religious zealouts be held accoutable? When will religion step out of thier own ignorance and let PROVEN scientific methods take over. Face it…people are gonna f&ck! Why not teach them what the disease is and how to prevent it, instead of attributing it to the wrath of “GOD”.

It is immoral to purposfully with hold preventative measures of diseases.

Sorry I broke off on that tangent, but that has been bothering me for a long time.

Lurker wrote:

You may be right that religion has hindered science. Granting that, however, does not obligate religious people to insist that their religion necessarily continue to inhibit science. Some do.

I am right, and it is still going on today! I see that we agree. Again I apologize for my temper tantrum there.

Lurker wrote:

But it is perhaps more important to support those who think such conflict is not necessary. I see Nefueld’s post as evidence of this.

Once there is proof of the supernatural as Chance put it, then and only then will your first statement in the above quote be accurate.

Comment #43347

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 4:10 PM (e)

Lurker wrote:

Whoever said evolution, whether cultural or biological, was a quick process??

culture = religion, I like that one.

Lurker wrote:

I am not what gives you leave to make such sweeping generalizations here. Nor do I understand. Are you saying all religions push itself on others to see science as harmful? You have provided not much in terms of evidence of this.

Ok, I’ll expound on this for you.

IMO I am saying that any religion that uses the supernatural to explain what is natrualistic is not compatable with science. Furthermore I said that any religion that pushes itself on others and claims scientific credibility is harmless.

I see no point in providing evidence sinc these are MY opinons. But I think that by my earlier post you will see why I feel the way I do regarding the compatability of religion and science.

Comment #43351

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 4:23 PM (e)

Well, Miah, I honestly I tried my best to piss you off. Unfortunately, with so much agreement, I see I have failed miserably.

Thanks for the replies.

Comment #43357

Posted by Miah on August 16, 2005 4:59 PM (e)

Furthermore I said that any religion that pushes itself on others and claims scientific credibility is harmless.

Sorry, that last word should have been harmfull.

Lurker wrote:

Well, Miah, I honestly I tried my best to piss you off. Unfortunately, with so much agreement, I see I have failed miserably.

Thanks for the replies.

No, you didn’t piss me off in the least. If you would have said something to the affect that you agree to the literal moral standards in the Christian BIBLE and that you advocate them, then I probably would have been pissed.

As a side note, you are more than welcome to keep trying… :o) HAHA

Comment #43388

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 8:00 PM (e)

Louis wrote:

Of course some people will think precisely as you described, I never disagreed that some people would think this way, just that all would.

That seems to imply that you are disagreeing with a claim that all would think in a certain way, but I don’t believe I ever made such a claim; if I did, it certainly was a foolish one. But I’m talking about the politics involved, and I think that both Lurker and Harold provide some clue of that. Lurker wants us to provide theological arguments for evolution because science’s naturalist arguments have failed, he claims. And Harold, like Lenny before him, seems to blame the arguments that have broken out here about science vs. religion on “ideological atheists”, ignoring the fact that, in the last week especially, there have been a string of articles here on religion and specifically on that very argument. Atheists are repeatedly told to toe the line and don’t speak up about the clash they see between religion and science, and when they do, one of the arguments, as put forth by Harold, is that not all religion is incompatible with science. Even if he’s right, the thrust of the point isn’t about all religion but about religion as it manifests in the public consciousness and as it relates to ID, science education, and public opinion – which, according to the Harris poll has only 22% of American adults believing in evolution, and 64% believing that man was made from scratch. Part of what is lacking in the public awareness is the efficacy of science as a manifestation of methodological naturalism, which is a method that eschews God in the gaps or any other causal involvement of God. Since that is how science works, I think it muddies the waters for defenders of evolution, even theistic defenders, to do so on theological grounds, or to start getting into arguments, as Harold does, as to what is or is not good theology. There are consensus standards in science by which we can judge what is or is not good science, good theory, good methodology, but I’m not aware of any such consensus standards in theology. And if we start introducing such non-scientific forms of justification for evolution, I believe that weakens the integrity of the scientific stance. What other scientific theory should be, or ever has been, defended on theological grounds? My position is completely the opposite of Lurker’s; defend the theory of evolution only scientifically because in the end that’s the only effective way to do so, and to do otherwise not only suggests that science isn’t up to it, but suggests that scientists think that theological arguments are appropriate tools for challenging or supporting scientific theories.

By the way, the inner snark in me couldn’t help but be aware that you STILL haven’t addressed the substance of the points made by me or indeed anyone else. Accusations of quibbling are best directed at those people who focus on one word to the illogical extent that the meaning of a sentence is lost, see “automatic”.

This simply isn’t true, and as I pointed out to Harold, I have no obligation to answer each and every point that someone makes; perhaps I simply agree with the ones I don’t address or don’t think they’re worth commenting on. And “automatic”, was an ad hominem slap. If we omit that, “Simply because it is a religious article does [not] make it totally useless or worthy of scorn.” reduces to a not-as-offensive strawman, and I pointed out that it was a strawman with my “ahem”. That I also noted the slap does not equate to quibbling.

Comment #43390

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 8:14 PM (e)

Harold wrote:

At any rate, I strongly urge that this poster be banned, on the grounds that his contributions are persistently non-contributory, disruptive, obsessively voluminous, and exceptionally uncivil.

Lenny took a similar line, then blew a gasket, stormed off, and his behavior was reflected in this comment at pharyngula:

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/get_out_of_the_quicksand_pandas_thumb/#c35452


I’m especially dismayed at the implication by one PT poster (whom I once admired) that “ideological atheists” should be kicked out (from what?) because their views run contrary to some percieved strategy. (And what, exactly, is an “ideological atheist”?)

So you might want to consider, um, biting your tongue on that suggestion.

Comment #43391

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 16, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

Alan wrote:

harold wrote:

At any rate, I strongly urge that this poster be banned, on the grounds that his contributions are persistently non-contributory, disruptive, obsessively voluminous, and exceptionally uncivil.

Voluminous? Pots, kettles, harold?

I think Harold meant “posts a lot”, rather than “long winded”. I plead guilty, and am cutting back, but neither posting a lot nor being long winded should be grounds for banning someone. OTOH, about “exceptionally uncivil”, I think Harold’s comments here to and about me have a certain pot-like quality.

Comment #43396

Posted by Luxorien on August 16, 2005 8:59 PM (e)

Great article. Reminds me of some of the essays from Is God a Creationist? I think this sort of discussion is great because it exposes the falseness of the science/faith dichotomy that Creationists and IDers try to foist on us.

Comment #43416

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 11:38 PM (e)

Well, I just can’t allow someone to put words in my mouth. So, let me describe my position on this matter.

I do think “naturalist arguments” have failed politically. The survey citing low numbers of adults believing evolution rather supports the point. I do, however, advocate ramping up the religious message regarding reconciliation between science and certain religions. My feeling is that the present tension is in fact so high that when religious people are faced with the false dichotomy of choosing science or religion, they choose religion as the easy way out. The reason, I think, is that not all forms of knowledge has equal weight for all people, at any given time. The details of evolution are simply irrelevant for most people… just like the details of thermodynamics, algebraic topology, or astrophysics. To believe that a straightforward scientific defense of evolution is not going to tune people out would simply be naive. If it were possible, however, to reduce the tension, I think we reduce the need (however irrational) to feel threatened by science. That does not mean that I expect a sudden flood of converts to evolutionary theory. But, I would expect less attacks on science. For those people already apathetic to science, I imagine they will likely continue to ignore the scientific data about evolution. This notion is consistent with data from pop quizzes of adults, where many can’t tell how long a solar year approximately is, or whether the earth orbits the sun (incidentally, once subjects of religious contention). Despite this, few are currently mobilizing around geocentrism. We can’t solve scientific illiteracy given a growing public (and very Christian) distrust of science as a hidden materialist/naturalist agenda. But deal with the latter, and we may have a better chance of addressing the former. There is not an order of precedence here. We can do both at the same time. But I do not think we can afford to wait longer on addressing the distrust.

If we are truly concerned about confusing the public with a theological argument for peaceful coexistence with science, we should be equally concerned about confusing the public with blatant atheistic scientism. An atheist cannot have his cake and eat it too. I am not advocating that theologians now be included in peer review of scientific evidence, or that they put on lab coats. I do however like to see theists play a greater role in publicizing science. For every Dawkins, Gould, Shermer, and Dennett, why don’t we expect a proportionate number of Ken Millers, reflecting current demographics? My solution also would encourage knowledgeable and fair-minded theists to oppose strenuously the conclusion that science necessitates scientism and materialism. This means sometimes having to address arguments that faith in God in the absence of scientific evidence is automatically incoherent, or that is a sign of defective thinking and lack of intellectual integrity. I hear evangelical Christians (for instance the IDists) do these things quite well. Unfortunately, most of them don’t get the science. Thus, somehow, such apologetics are inappropriately linked with anti-science arguments, when they need not be. Failure to put out a balanced message puts a severe credibility problem on theistic scientists in controversial subjects.

I understand the atheist wants to promote his view that science and religion are incompatible and to express indignation at being told to bite their lips. But at the same time, he would really prefer that theologians stay silent about religious compatibility with or support of science. To the atheist, it is intolerable to have to see science and religion so juxtaposed. Quite conveniently, the fundamentalists would also like to think science and religion are incompatible. They are outraged that they are being told to bite their lips in public, secular forums. And they would really prefer those theologians not say anything at all about science, much less the possibility of its reconciliation with religion. With so much agreement, why does it surprise anyone that our target audience seems to care nothing about their mutual disagreement – namely the scientific facts?

Comment #43417

Posted by Lurker on August 16, 2005 11:44 PM (e)

Ah, I forgot to correct a possible misconception, which really should go without saying – I am not arguing that we swap scientific arguments completely with theological ones. Not at all. I am merely proposing that we augment the current pro-science defense to deal with the politics. It really is just a proposal, and I do not claim to have the only answer or the right one.

Comment #43427

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 2:10 AM (e)

I do however like to see theists play a greater role in publicizing science. For every Dawkins, Gould, Shermer, and Dennett, why don’t we expect a proportionate number of Ken Millers, reflecting current demographics?

I agree. All scientists should be publicizing and championing science – scientifically, not theologically. I would be happy if Ken Miller and every other theistic evolutionist stated loudly that they support evolution and gave their scientific reasons for doing so and said, by the way, we’re not atheists. And I have no problem with them going beyond that and saying that they see science as a gift from God or that their belief in God motivates them to do science, and so on. But I think it’s a problem if they start arguing the merits of specific scientific theories on theological grounds.

But at the same time, he would really prefer that theologians stay silent about religious compatibility with or support of science. To the atheist, it is intolerable to have to see science and religion so juxtaposed.

You’re not one who can speak for atheists. I imagine that most atheists were happy to see Pope John Paul II announce that evolution is compatible with Catholicism, whether they think it’s true or not, but the Pope was not a representative of or speaking for the scientific community. OTOH, atheists (among others) were not at all happy to see Cardinal Schönberg offering his theological views on evolution and “design”. I, as one atheist, have no problem with theologicians speaking in favor of evolution, because evolution should be favored, not because I think that their theological arguments have any validity – I don’t think any theological arguments have any validity, but then one should expect an atheist to think that. But if scientists start saying that ID isn’t a valid scientific theory and shouldn’t be taught in science classes because it’s bad theology, don’t be surprised if non-theists question that strategy or if it comes back to bite you.

Comment #43431

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 3:55 AM (e)

Harold wrote:

As usual, you take a small snippet out of context, and ignore the overall message.

Then I will address each element in context as well as the overall message:

The point is that Christianity, even as defined by ID advocates, is incompatible with ID.

I’ve noted before that there is no such thing as Christianity as defined by ID advocates; there are a lot of them and they don’t all define Christianity the same way if they bother to define it at all.

Also, ID a proposition that asserts that certain observed phenomena cannot be accounted for without recourse to an intelligent designer. So for it to be incompatible with Christianity, it would have to contradict some claim of Christianity. Henry made an argument to that effect, regarding the frequency of miracles, but surely if ID implies frequent miracles (which isn’t clear from the definition), Christianity as defined by ID advocates allows for that.

However, in the subsequent text, Harold makes it clear that he’s not talking about ID, but rather the behavior of certain of its advocates. So the point isn’t really that Christianity is incompatible with ID, but that some advocates act in a way that is incompatible with Christianity, as defined by Harold (and perhaps others). This in and of itself is, of course, no reason to disbelieve the ID proposition, so it can hardly serve as an argument against ID.

While in theory someone might exist who would say “my interpretation of Christianity allows me to lie about science, especially to school children and naive lay people, in an effort to trick others into believing that the existence of my particular God has been ‘proven’, and therefore I support ID”, in practice, virtually no-one would agree with that position. Even if some ID advocate did advance such a statement, which is most unlikely, it would not be accepted as a valid interpretation of Christianity by theologians or the public at large.

Even if we grant that some advocates of ID act that way, surely not all do – we haven’t even identified all ID advocates, let alone examined their minds to determine whether they believe themselves to be lying. It has been observed repeatedly that many people who believe in creationism or ID do so sincerely, and some of them even show up here – not people who work for DI, just individuals who are misinformed.

Also, the statement goes too far. While the sort of folks working for DI seem to do much of what Harold says, the tricking seems only to go so far as to make people think that the existence of God has been proven, without tricking them into thinking that the existence of a particular one has been proven. If they were to go that far, they would lose some of their important supporters who don’t necessarily believe in the particular God that the DI folks do (if one can even identify a single particular God that they all share).

Even if the behavior of ID advocates is as noted and it is true that this would not be accepted as something allowed by Christianity, it must be noted that Christians constantly act in ways that aren’t allowed – Christianity holds that everyone is a sinner, after all. So even if ID advocates are acting in un-Christian ways, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t Christian. Nor, of course, does it mean that ID, as a thesis, is false, or is somehow incompatible with Christianity.

Although Christianity is admittedly diverse, certain behaviors are so clearly in violation of Christian ethics that a “theological” claim to the contrary would be nonsensical. Killing a stranger on the street for the existential thrill of it, for example. At a less eggregious level, the claim that lying about testable, measurable physical reality in order to trick people is “Christian” is nonsensical.

Indeed it would be nonsensical to claim that this is “Christian” behavior, but not nonsensical to claim that this is the behavior of Christians, or that someone who acts this way is not a Christian – Christians aren’t Christ.

Some people do claim to be Christian, but behave in ways that make a mockery of a claim, and this happens a good deal at the DI.

Being a Christian is generally considered to have something to do with believing in Christ’s divinity, not with being without sin. The fundamentalists like to claim that Catholics, among others, aren’t Christians even though they believe in the divinity of Christ. Apparently they aren’t the only ones. But I think most sensible people would agree that the folks at DI are Christians – Christians acting badly.

It has happened in far more serious ways throughout history. But an example of someone hypocritically claiming to be Christian is not the same thing as someone holding a theologic view.

This confuses the claim to be a Christian with the claim to be acting in accordance with Christ’s teachings or the teachings of the church – which themselves have often not been in accord with Christ’s teachings. But it seems that it would be a mistake to say, for instance, that a pedophile priest is not a Christian.

If someone claims to be a secular humanist, but then violates the rights and dignity of another human being, this does not mean that doing so is a valid interpretation of secular humanism.

Indeed, it doesn’t mean that.

It means that the claim to be a secular humanist in the first place was false.

No, it doesn’t mean that either. It only means that people do not always act in accord with their professed principles. This is the fundamental mistake of Harold’s “complete message”, a message that is flawed at its core and throughout.

It is true that ID can be dismissed scientifically, without reference to theology or ethics.

Indeed, it can be, without making an argument that is riddled with errors.

However, the fact that it is incompatible with Christianity is valid as well.

Not by the argument you have given.

Why should its false claim to being “Christian” go unchallenged.

Because it doesn’t make that claim. The ID claim is about some observable phenomena not being explainable without recourse to an intelligent designer. If you want to argue that the folks at DI lie and connive and so on, that’s not a theological argument, and that argument has been made repeatedly, with supporting evidence, here and many other places. And once you convince people that that’s true, there is no need for a theological argument, because that sort of behavior is clearly vile to a Christian or an atheist or any other decent person.

Comment #43442

Posted by Louis on August 17, 2005 7:29 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quot'

Comment #43445

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 8:16 AM (e)

Lurker wrote:

…or whether the earth orbits the sun (incidentally, once subjects of religious contention). Despite this, few are currently mobilizing around geocentrism.

This is my whole point exactly. These “few” as you put it, are “mobilizing around geocentrism” simply because “the Bible says so”. Same with the flat earth society. They are so far gone in doctrine that to argue with the “fundamentalist” of these religions (that are promoting the ID “theory”) regarding evolution and it’s theological arguments is pointless. They won’t hear it. You might be able to convince the others that are not so indoctrinated that some of your arguments are valid. But to me its a worthless endeavor.

Why should scientist come to “thier” level? Why should scientist be asked to compromise what they have verified about the universe and all things in it, just to satisfy a religion? It’s stupid.

ts (not Tim Sandefur) wrote:

All scientists should be publicizing and championing science — scientifically, not theologically.

I totally agree with you. I think it would be a great idea for scientist to come together and create literature, whereas it explains the latest and most current views of the evolutionary process. But it needs to be done in such a way so that the “layperson” may understand it.

I even think it would be good to start a campaign to the Churches, so that they’ll stop arguing the same bullshit that has been defeated DECADES ago.

Comment #43448

Posted by Lurker on August 17, 2005 8:32 AM (e)

“You’re not one who can speak for atheists.”

I don’t speak for atheists. I speak about atheists, and so, I report what I have been told in the past few days. I was told that atheists think people who reject disbelief in the absence of evidence are defective thinkers, or display a loss of intellectual integrity – with specific references to those who hold to evolution as an absence of God’s intervention in nature. I was told that atheists think that theists who decline (or fail) atheist inquisitions on evidences of God display a lack of understanding how intellectual inquiry works. If this is not what atheists actually think about theists, then let us hear atheists repudiate these statements. Let’s not mince words.

“I imagine that most atheists were happy to see Pope John Paul II announce that evolution is compatible with Catholicism, whether they think it’s true or not, but the Pope was not a representative of or speaking for the scientific community. OTOH, atheists (among others) were not at all happy to see Cardinal Schönberg offering his theological views on evolution and “design”.”

This is a great example, because it illustrates my strategy potentially works. After Schönberg’s message came out, guess what happened: a few theologians challenged him on theological grounds. A lot of scientists challenged him on scientific grounds. And they did do both quite successfully without mixing either, as the Cardinal did. The problem, as I see it, is that the fundamentalist version drowned the voices of reason by sheer volume. Most theologians sat back wringing their hands, reluctant to speak out against the Cardinal. If ever you want the message that the Church is not representative or speaking for the scientific community, you really do need to hear it from both sides, with an amp’d up message. Especially on issues of deeply religious nature, this inherently negative message of the Church surrendering jurisidiction on scientific matters can be poorly interpreted by the faithful. But it need not be. Theologians are supremely qualified to explain why. Not scientists.

“I, as one atheist, have no problem with theologicians speaking in favor of evolution, because evolution should be favored, not because I think that their theological arguments have any validity — I don’t think any theological arguments have any validity, but then one should expect an atheist to think that.”

At the same time, one should also not find an atheist credible when making policies on religious issues, just as atheists find theists not ncredible when declaring what are Truths. Unfortunately, for the atheist, the reality is that, except on various Internet forums such as this, atheists are decidedly in the minority. For the majority of the theists, atheist scientists lack credibility on theological grounds, causing them to tune out. But the solution is not to continue to exacerbate the differences by harping on how atheists perceive science and how theists perceive science.

“But if scientists start saying that ID isn’t a valid scientific theory and shouldn’t be taught in science classes because it’s bad theology, don’t be surprised if non-theists question that strategy or if it comes back to bite you.”

I don’t see where this is happening. Even in Neufeld’s opening disclaimer: “The purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of intelligent design on theological, rather than scientific, grounds.” He even goes on to say, “Hence, we would ask that any comments be restricted to the subject of the theological validity of ID and its relation to science education rather than the rational validity of Christianity.” I see a conjunction of topics relating to ID. I do not see an inference from “theological validity of ID” to “its relation to science education.” Neufeld’s point, as I read it, is that ID presents partly as a theological viewpoint on science. I agree with him that he challenge it on theological grounds precisely because it is equally detrimental to science-religion compatibility to bash theology with scientism. In other words, the answer to “God could not have done it this way” is not to say “God is wrong because science shows us this is the way.” This places science directly in challenge with theology. And when faced with such a false dichotomy, uninformed people will make easy irrational decisions.

As for policies coming back to bite us, it is always a risk. Once again, I do not have the answers. I have proposals. But as far as I can see, it is not one that really has been tried. Whereas, I think yours is most definitely status quo, and it does not seem to be going anywhere.

Comment #43449

Posted by Lurker on August 17, 2005 8:40 AM (e)

“Why should scientist come to “thier” level? Why should scientist be asked to compromise what they have verified about the universe and all things in it, just to satisfy a religion? It’s stupid.”

My point is that scientists do not have to come down to geocentrist levels because geocentrists are not mobilizing. For most people, there is just not the same amount of tension between the heliocentric model and religion as between evolution and religion. Not anymore. But, as some surveys show, adults still do get the facts wrong (granted, not in nearly the same numbers as evolution). There are people out there who don’t know that the earth goes around the sun. So, I am suspicious that mere indoctrination of scientific facts is sufficient to reduce religious tension.

BTW. Believe it or not, dealing with stupidity is sometimes part of the job description for the scientist. Just ask all those academics having to grade finals every year, while getting paid with 5 digit figures.

“You might be able to convince the others that are not so indoctrinated that some of your arguments are valid. But to me its a worthless endeavor.”

I have more faith in human reason, I suppose. But as I argued, my proposals really have not been tried on a consistent basis. It is often easier to naysay and give up in doubt.

Comment #43451

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 9:03 AM (e)

Lurker wrote:

My point is that scientists do not have to come down to geocentrist levels because geocentrists are not mobilizing.

My fault, you misunderstood my ranting when you said this. I wasn’t trying to imply that scientist need to come down to the geocentrist levels…I was saying that science/scientist should not have to come down to “any” level. (Was more speaking on the “mobilized” areas such as anti-evolution.)

I do agree that some of these people are just lacking the schooling, but I could pretty much guarantee you that there are some as indicated that are religious zealouts and are saying that the Bible is the truth in all matters. So if it contradicts the Bible, then it’s from Satan and it’s WRONG.

Lurker wrote:

I have more faith in human reason,…

If you mean rational thought and logic…you have more “faith” than I. IMO any society that is dominated by religious plauges of supernatural subjectiveness will not agree with reason. They see reason as a threat. Because it undermines and contradicts their beliefs.

America needs to win back it’s people away from the religious “education”. It’ll be the Dark Ages all over again. Unless IMO the scientific comunity really does some scientific PR work so that the masses can be better informed.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Comment #43458

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

Lurker wrote:

“You’re not one who can speak for atheists.”

I don’t speak for atheists.

The statement that my comment referred to was “But at the same time, he would really prefer that theologians stay silent about religious compatibility with or support of science. To the atheist, it is intolerable to have to see science and religion so juxtaposed.”

That is plainly and clearly you speaking for atheists. In so doing, you spoke falsehoods about what atheists prefer and tolerate, and then you spoke a falsehood about whether you spoke for atheists. Plain as day.

Comment #43460

Posted by Dan S. on August 17, 2005 10:18 AM (e)

“My feeling is that the present tension is in fact so high that when religious people are faced with the false dichotomy of choosing science or religion, they choose religion as the easy way out. The reason, I think, is that not all forms of knowledge has equal weight for all people, at any given time. The details of evolution are simply irrelevant for most people… just like the details of thermodynamics, algebraic topology, or astrophysics. To believe that a straightforward scientific defense of evolution is not going to tune people out would simply be naive. If it were possible, however, to reduce the tension, I think we reduce the need (however irrational) to feel threatened by science. “

Forgive me for the quote-block, but Lurker, this is an excellent point (harold’s too). The multi-post/multi-blog evolution/”religion” discussion that’s been going on sometimes seems to have only a tenuous link to reality. It reminds me a bit of what happens on lefty (and presumably righty) political blogs - sometimes people forget a little that their level of political involvement, awareness, and specific views are not the usual, and that no, just because they *want* the world to be a certain way doesn’t mean that it has any obligation to listen. Likewise, “them” is not a single category, nor are “they” all mindless morons for not agreeing with everything one thinks!
Most people do not have a particularly large interest in science, although that varies, “religion” just meaning US Christianity still covers a very, very wide range of practices, beliefs, attitudes, etc. This is new? We have to go over this?

I do *think* we should try to make clear the distinction between methodological and metaphysical naturalism - the very distinction that ID rejects (and there was some letter in the paper yesterday about how “Darwinian evolution is not a science that can be proved but a philosophical materialism that is assumed … you dodge the philosophical underpinnings of Darwinian evolution,” following several earlier Darwinism-is-just-based-on-faith, etc. letters) Not that tons of people are just waiting to hear about philosophical distinctions either, but the basic fact that evolution *is* based on assumptions, the very same assumptions as the rest of science, the same assumptions that we use to to launch spaceships and fight diseases - and that like the rest of science, it doesn’t mean you can’t believe in God.
But I could be wrong about the importance of this particular approach.

“. If this is not what atheists actually think about theists, then let us hear atheists repudiate these statements. “
*raises hand* I repudiate them! I don’t believe in God, but man, I am not so … let’s call it self-confident … too insist that anyone who doesn’t agree with me must be not only wrong but soft in the head as well! I suspect part of this …rather strict …brand of atheism is growing up in a more-or-less (very relatively) hostile society, and partly temperment - if they were only religious, they’d be the very kind of believer they describe . .

-Look, if you think “religion” and evolution are completely incompatible, I would never tell you to pretend they are for strategic reasons - that is deeply dishonest - and I won’t tell you to stop talking, which is just horrendous, but perhaps examine your beliefs, read up on what “religion” is like and what roles it plays here (some of the folks I’ve heard sound like they just got dropped in from some Vulcan colony somewhere - and don’t expect to help protect science education *using those views* (there may be other ways you can).

Talking about masses or especially sheeple is also tricky, not so much in terms of alienating people, but how it shapes views. C’mon, all of us here aren’t all that.

That’s what I think.

Comment #43465

Posted by Lurker on August 17, 2005 10:30 AM (e)

ts, I apologize for appearing to speak for atheists when it was not my intent. Let that be for the record.

My point has always been that theologians speak about science-religion compatibility, not about science by itself. Further, you did write, “Since that is how science works, I think it muddies the waters for defenders of evolution, even theistic defenders, to do so on theological grounds, or to start getting into arguments, as Harold does, as to what is or is not good theology.” If evolution-religion compatibility is not a defence of evolution on theological grounds, then I am afraid I do not see what you mean by defenders of evolution “[doing] so on theological grounds.” We have to get this straight, is a theological discussion of compatibility between evolution and religion a theological defense of evolution? I reject the notion that only scientists can be defenders of evolution or good science. If so, then a lot of the kibitzers on this blog really have no point being here.

Comment #43468

Posted by Lurker on August 17, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

“*raises hand* I repudiate them! I don’t believe in God, but man, I am not so … let’s call it self-confident … too insist that anyone who doesn’t agree with me must be not only wrong but soft in the head as well!”

My goodness, another voice in the dark that does not hate me with all his guts. Now I know I really do suck at trolling PT…

Ok, time to retire for a bit. I do hope the (civil) discussion continues, however.

Comment #43471

Posted by Chance on August 17, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

Lurker,

Your confusing politics with actual results.

you said:
‘Which explains this, of course: http://unisci.com/stories/20013/0821016.htm

You definitely have a choice of doctor, I do not deny you that. I am merely claiming that your preference need not be shared by all.’

That wasn’t my point. People in need often seek services out of hope. Just because such services exist doesn’t make them any less quacky. It’s the results that matter, alternative medicines often suck up dolars and precious time patients should be putting into legit medical practices.

‘I do however like to see theists play a greater role in publicizing science. For every Dawkins, Gould, Shermer, and Dennett, why don’t we expect a proportionate number of Ken Millers, reflecting current demographics’

Whats wrong with Dawkins, Gould, Shermer, and Dennett? It seems to me your just looking to court public opinion rather than actually engage in an intellectual exercise. The aforementioned men present a strong case. Miller does to when it comes to science, then pulls all kinds of stuff out his rear with his theology. But it’s his right to do so.

I just don’t see how that makes him more palatable than the others. If the others present their case well why should their superstitious views preent or not matter?

Comment #43472

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 10:47 AM (e)

self-confident … too insist that anyone who doesn’t agree with me must be not only wrong but soft in the head as well!

Repeating this misrepresentation over and over doesn’t make it any more true. The idea is that believing things for no reason is not rational – certainly not in the sense that we use the term when we are doing science. This creates an obvious tension between religion and science. People are able to keep these modes of thinking separated to some degree, but there’s some debate as to the “cost to intellectual integrity”, as Timothy Sandefur put it. Reducing this to “soft in the head” misrepresents the debate in a way that increases the tension, fans the flames, and makes the gulf between atheists and theists all the wider.

if they were only religious, they’d be the very kind of believer they describe . .

And on you go with this slander, fanning fanning fanning.

but perhaps examine your beliefs, read up on what “religion” is like and what roles it plays here

And perhaps you should drop the smug self confident patronizing BS.

Comment #43474

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 11:05 AM (e)

If evolution-religion compatibility is not a defence of evolution on theological grounds, then I am afraid I do not see what you mean by defenders of evolution “[doing] so on theological grounds.”

Then perhaps you should reread Henry’s article.

We have to get this straight, is a theological discussion of compatibility between evolution and religion a theological defense of evolution?

Saying that believers can accept evolution doesn’t defend evolution because it doesn’t say they have to accept in it. But, as I’ve already said, if people start talking about accepting evolution being preferable, the only valid way to do that is scientifically. When the Pope said that “evolution is more than a hypothesis”, he didn’t mean a theological hypothesis, he said that its the consequence of science, and scientific arguments, not theological arguments; he did not give a theological argument for evolution. But when Cardinal Schönberg talked about it, he gave a theological argument for an intelligent designer. And that’s the thing about theology – any statement can be taken on faith, and theological arguments need not follow the rules of logic, so a theological argument can argue for any conclusion, not just the ones we prefer.

I reject the notion that only scientists can be defenders of evolution or good science.

Anyone can be a defender of evolution or good science, on scientific grounds. But a theological justification for an empirical theory or conclusion can’t possibly be “good science”.

Comment #43475

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 11:07 AM (e)

Dan S. wrote:

but perhaps examine your beliefs, read up on what “religion” is like and what roles it plays here…

What, pray tell Dan, “religion” are you specifying here?

It seems that there are a very few “religions” that fit the implication in this whole topic. The most common one I see is the Judeao-Christian sect, particularly of the Fundamentalist era.

DI, AiG, and many more “scientific” institues if ID are nothing more than Fundies on a conversion scheme. They don’t want the TRUTH. And they profess the Judeao-Christian BIBLE. I think it’s high time we stop tip-toeing around the “name-calling” for what religion we are really talking about.

I also read on this site that those who practice Islamism are also having a problem with the whole evolution idea. Surprise, surprise!

How many other religions are there that propagandise the anti-evolutionist movement?

I really would like to know!

Comment #43477

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 11:13 AM (e)

Miah, I think you’re misreading Dan. He’s talking about religion in all its forms, including the religious beliefs of theistic evolutionists such as Henry, Harold, Ken Miller, and thousands of other scientists. He’s specifically not talking about the religion of anti-evolutionists.

Comment #43478

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 11:15 AM (e)

ts (not Tim Sandefur) wrote:

But a theological justification for an empirical theory or conclusion can’t possibly be “good science”.

Nor is it needed or wanted by anyone except those who have to justify its [science] apparent contradictions to their belief.

Comment #43482

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 11:28 AM (e)

ts (not Tim Sandefur) wrote:

Miah, I think you’re misreading Dan. He’s talking about religion in all its forms, including the religious beliefs of theistic evolutionists such as Henry, Harold, Ken Miller, and thousands of other scientists. He’s specifically not talking about the religion of anti-evolutionists.

But even the religious beliefs of some theistic evolutionist is in some form based on the same “God” of Judeao-Christianity. Some have to bend their beliefs to fit science so it doesn’t contradict too much that belief. Again this is my opinion based on what I have observed.

Please correct me when I am wrong…I don’t mind. I will be the first to apologize.

They are making ammends to appease science and religion when there is no need to. Why do people continually need a supernatural being to make sense of things around them? It serves no purpose other than to show that mankind is returning to ignorance. Why do people need to be promise of an afterlife filled in a utopian setting, when WE as humans are fully capable of doing it ourselves, here on earth?

I see no point in religion or God. Other than the fact it can be used to controll people so that they “think” what you think.

Comment #43485

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 11:41 AM (e)

I see no point in religion or God.

Yes, well, we’ve had that discussion and Henry expressly requested that we not have it here in his thread. The fact is that, whether or not you or I see any point to it, others do see a point to it and have these beliefs. That’s what Dan meant by “read up on what “religion” is like and what roles it plays here”, and now you’re giving him every reason to say “See! See!”

Comment #43488

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 11:50 AM (e)

How can you have a theological discussion or evaluation about evolution without GOD?

www.dictionary.com wrote:

the·ol·o·gy
The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.
A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions: Protestant theology; Jewish theology.
A course of specialized religious study usually at a college or seminary.

Comment #43493

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

King David in Psalms pleads “may sins disappear from the earth”. The sages of the Talmud notice that he does not plead for “sinners” to disappear, but for “sins” to disappear. The lesson to be drawn, say they, is that our goal should be to get sinners to improve their behavior and not that they be eliminated or defeated.

Carol, I got to thinking about this post and I was wondering if this was the scripture you were referring to?

Psalm 79:9 (KJV)
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.

I await your answer.

Comment #43503

Posted by ts (not Tim Sandefur) on August 17, 2005 12:37 PM (e)

How can you have a theological discussion or evaluation about evolution without GOD?

Miah, from the article at the top:

Note: The purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of intelligent design on theological, rather than scientific, grounds. It is not intended to provoke arguments over the validity of Christianity or theism in general because that is not the concern of this blog. Hence, we would ask that any comments be restricted to the subject of the theological validity of ID and its relation to science education rather than the rational validity of Christianity. Such discussions are fascinating, but are best left for other fora.

Comment #43506

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 12:46 PM (e)

The purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of intelligent design on theological, rather than scientific, grounds.

Again I ask, how is it possible to do that without God, when the very definition of theology includes God at it’s core?

Hence, we would ask that any comments be restricted to the subject of the theological validity of ID and its relation to science education rather than the rational validity of Christianity.

Ok, I then formally apologize for divulging into that area.

Comment #43507

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 17, 2005 12:49 PM (e)

Thanks to Henry and commenters for a helpful conversation. I am grateful for what I can learn from such a healthy, if occasionally bit abrasive, dialogue.

FWIW, I think it is entirely valid to raise theological objections, if one holds such, to ID precisely because it is on theological appeal that ID continues to be an issue in the public discouse. That it is scientifically vacuous has been demonstrated repeatedly, yet it continues to curry favor as religious/social issue.

Two theological objections to ID seem prominent to me: 1) ID is a fundamentally “god of the gaps” argument - certainly not a theologically wise position to take, and 2) making the claim of ID seems to be minimally hubristic and arguably blasphemous at its core. We are all somehow supposed to be grateful to Behe et al. for their great technocratic prowess to have been able to derive God’s existence/action. Talk about scientists elevating themselves to the role of cultural priesthood, what more blatant example is there than a biochemist who assures us that his special knowledge of the complexity of the cell demonstrates God in a way those of us not so specially knowledged have here-to-fore failed to detect?

Given the preponderance of Judeo-Christian affinities within the ID movement, it is telling, IMHO, to recall that the biblical account of the fall of humanity came from a temptation that was all about trying to acquire special knowledge of God. To me, ID looks theologically like a big shiny apple.

Comment #43510

Posted by Dan S. on August 17, 2005 1:09 PM (e)

“The idea is that believing things for no reason is not rational — certainly not in the sense that we use the term when we are doing science. “

Part of the problem is the need to so carefully specify terms. And as you point out, we’re talking about different modes of thinking - indeed, most people don’t do science in the narrow sense, with the possible and partial exception of a course or three in high school. There is a debate as to the intellectual integrity cost, but I think it’s one that might be best settled by reference to real world examples. In most cases, I would suspect any cost would be very low because it won’t be something that comes up too often.

“And perhaps you should drop the smug self confident patronizing BS.”
Perhaps, but I’m entirely serious. I don’t imagine I understand more than the very tiniest bit about the range, roles and implications of religious expression, just - say - restricting it to a single faith in my neighborhood. Forget about the U.S!

Ok, I won’t go See! Se … oh, darn, I said it …..

Comment #43511

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

Shaggy Maniac wrote:

…the biblical account of the fall of humanity came from a temptation…

A temptation that came from God himself!

Genesis 2:8-9 & 15-17

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Comment #43518

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 17, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

1) ID is a fundamentally “god of the gaps” argument - certainly not a theologically wise position to take

But the ID claim is that this gap can’t be closed because you can see God in it. So it really isn’t a God of the gaps argument. A God of the gaps is a God that escapes empirical observation – it fits into the holes of our knowledge, and can’t possibly contradict any scientific theory. That is why it’s theologically unwise – as science advances, the gaps close. ID is a different beast.

2) making the claim of ID seems to be minimally hubristic and arguably blasphemous at its core

This is why I think that this approach is so dangerous – who’s to say that evolution isn’t blasphemous and that scientists aren’t hubristic for meddling in genes, cloning, and all that? Of course people do say that, and you are legitimizing such arguments. To deny your arguments to the enemies of science is special pleading. What could be clearer? You’ve made my case.

Comment #43521

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 1:40 PM (e)

I thought his referral to the “gap” argument was in reference to the Biblical “Gap Theory”. The idea proposed by theologians that there is an unspecified time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 that could allow for the possibility of evolution.

Supposedly this is to account for the fall of Lucifer and his angelic followers to earth and where they messed everything up.

This is a very loose translation of the theory.

Comment #43531

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 17, 2005 2:25 PM (e)

Thanks, ts, for the comments.

On the God of the gaps point, I disagree. The ID argument contains no positive criterion for detecting God(designer), rather it is a negative conclusion from ignorance; i.e. “it’s (a flagellum, say) so darned complex that we can’t explain its origins mechanistically, therefore we conclude (from ignorance) that it was designed.” When the mechanistic explanation is discovered, poof the gap closes and takes with it the (negative) inference of a designer (God, of course).

I respect that you may find my description of ID as hubristic and blasphemous as distasteful, but keep in mind those are theological claims applied to a fundamentally theological argument (ID). IDists have shown us no science, so I maintain it is a legitimate response. I don’t see how it in anyway gives legitimacy to theological arguments applied to science. It’s not science.

Miah - my use of the term Gaps is in the sense that ts has read it. I’d also add that if you read further in the Genesis narrative, it is the serpent (Satan) that profers the temptation to be like God. Prior to the serpent’s prodding, there is no indication that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil posed a temptation.

Comment #43541

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 17, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

The ID argument contains no positive criterion for detecting God(designer), rather it is a negative conclusion from ignorance

I understand that; ID is crap, argumentum ad ignorantiam and affirmation of the consequent. But it isn’t presented as a God of the gaps argument, so the theological complaint has no bite. Rather, there’s a scientific argument, that irreducible complexity doesn’t contradict evolution and we’re bound to come up with analyses for all the stuff they say we can’t.

I respect that you may find my description of ID as hubristic and blasphemous as distasteful

I didn’t say that or anything like that. What I said what that, if you can use the argument against ID, then they can use the same argument against evolution. To claim otherwise is special pleading – it’s a basic principle of honest rhetoric. You say “IDists have shown us no science”, but that’s a scientific argument, not a theological one.

Comment #43552

Posted by Miah on August 17, 2005 3:40 PM (e)

Shaggy Maniac wrote:

I’d also add that if you read further in the Genesis narrative, it is the serpent (Satan) that profers the temptation to be like God. Prior to the serpent’s prodding, there is no indication that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil posed a temptation.

Oh boy…So if I set a lollipop in front of my child and tell him that he cannot eat it, that is not temptation? Get real.

Satan was challenging God. God LIED to Adam. Satan told Eve that they will be like God and know good and evil. Satan said, …thou shalt not surely die… And you know what…Satan was right. They didn’t die…therefore God lied.

The temptation was already there. The only thing Satan did was confirm their questioning of God’s word. The fruit was there and very tempting, but they didn’t eat of it because God told them that they would die. Once Satan told Eve that God was lying, she took chance and ate the fruit.

Which makes me wonder also, that if there was no death before the “fall of humanity” how would Adam and Eve understand the concept that they would die? Something I’ve always wondered.

Comment #43561

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 17, 2005 4:09 PM (e)

Thanks, again, for your comments, ts.

Regardless of whether IDists acknowledge it or not, it is a legitimate theological observation (if you allow that there is such a thing) that IDism essentially is a God-of-the-gaps argument; you seem to agree with me (if I read you correctly) in this analysis. The legitimacy of that theological analysis derives from what the IDist claim is, not from whatever the IDists acknowledge. We may simply disagree about whether it is helpful to make that legitimate theological observation, of course. You claim that doing so legitimizes theological objections to science; I don’t see how you have demonstrated this to be the case other than to assert it.

Same goes for the science claim by IDists. Simply because an IDist claims that ID is scientific in no way obligates us to do science to disprove their case. Simply pointing out the methodologically non-scientific approach of ID ends the the scientific argument. Once we identify/demonstrate that ID is categorically not science, there is nothing scientific left to say about it one way or the other. If that were enough to counteract the ID movement, then why hasn’t it gone away?

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #43564

Posted by SEF on August 17, 2005 4:18 PM (e)

Shaggy Maniac wrote:

To me, ID looks theologically like a big shiny apple.

I like that metaphor. You are using their own religious fables against them. However, I see another parallel: the relatively innocent but gullible Snow-Whites among the Christian community don’t realise that the evil DI witch (dressed up as a harmless old scientist) is handing them a poisoned apple …

Comment #43566

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 17, 2005 4:25 PM (e)

Miah:

Please don’t mistake me as an apologist for a literal interpretation of the Garden of Eden narrative. While I am interested in the theological message symbolized in the narrative, I am not particularly interested in a straw-man deconstruction of the narrative predicated on an assumed literalist reading of the same.

You are welcome to engage me via email if the former is of interest to you, but I don’t really think it is appropriate to continue to do so in this thread. In retrospect, my reference to the Genesis narrative would have been better left off my previous comment altogether.

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #43570

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 17, 2005 4:39 PM (e)

To judge by its innumerable interpretations, the myth of the fall in Genesis isn’t so much an allegory with definable message as a machine for generating an infinite number of messages.

Comment #43592

Posted by Jeff Guinn on August 17, 2005 5:57 PM (e)

I don’t have much time, so I will have to be brief.

ID theologically pegs the irony meter, by raising the Theodicy problem to a whole new level. (Theodicy: An attempt to explain or defend the perfect benevolence of god despite the apparent presence of evil in the world.)

Theodicy with respect to humans asserts evil is inevitable given human free will. With respect to nature (say last year’s tsunami), a functioning earth requires natural disasters.

However, taken at face value, ID absolutely requires that God be evil, stupid, or unconcious. This isn’t because of the miracles God has wrought, but rather the ones God DIDN’T bother with.

IF God can engineer a flagellum, then certainly God can dispense with wisdom teeth, or the appendix, or hemorrhoids, or the horrific mortality attending childbirth pre-modern medicine, among many design flaws laughable except for their consequences.

Each of those miracles God neglected entailed, pre-modernity, random agony and, all too frequently, early death. No amount of proper belief, or proper actions, could affect one’s likelihood of succumbing to such avoidable suffering.

Therefore, ID, in the quest to re-assert Christian supremacy, has invented the weapon to kill the Christian God.

For if we take ID as stipulated, God could have implemented design changes glaringly obvious to any first year engineering student.

But the God of ID would rather revel in widespread, meanginless suffering.

I doubt that will go over well in most congregations.

Comment #43629

Posted by carol clouser on August 17, 2005 10:14 PM (e)

Miah,

Regarding your question in post #43493, No, I was referring to Psalms 104:35 as does the Talmud I quoted. I know the King James version translates that verse as “The sinners will be consumed” but the original Hebrew clearly says “may sins be ended (or eliminated)”. This is just another example of the grotesque and sloppy distortions of the original Hebrew that the popular translations are guilty of. I have been harping about this over here for some time now. It is why I again highly urge all to read IN THE BEGINNING OF by Judah Landa. The widespread perception of conflict between the Bible and Science (not God and science!) is just plain simply NOT TRUE when you translate accurately and correctly.

Regarding your posting #43482, in which you see no reason for God or religion. I cannot believe you mean that. Can you not see that some people insist that their lives be more meaningful than eating, defecating fornicating and then dying? Can you not see that some people have a problem with this awesome universe being here for no real purpose? It just happens to be here? Can you not see that some people have a problem with human beings as merely the latest creature to evolve like all the beasts of the field? How are they supposed to reconcile that with the obvious huge gulf that exists between humans and all other species in terms of self awareness, ability to do calculus, create music, speak languages, have a concience, feel shame, and on and on? If we are mere animals why not allow the strong to devour the weak, the agile to consume (figuratively speaking) the slow, the smart to kill the stupid? Is that not the way almost all species behave? Is that not then the “way of the world”, evolution in particular?

I can go on, but I think you get the point. Try to understand the other point of view. Life is complicated and neither you nor anyone else has a monopoly on wisdom. A LITTLE HUMILITY, PLEASE.

Comment #43630

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 17, 2005 10:25 PM (e)

“How are they supposed to reconcile that with the obvious huge gulf that exists between humans and all other species in terms of self awareness, ability to do calculus, create music, speak languages, have a concience, feel shame, and on and on?”

there are lots of ways to do this without relying on the idea of God to provide meaning to that.

for example, it has been suggested that the current homo-sapiens evolved from some pretty violent stock, that was selected to eliminate any competition for the niche claimed by intellignet tool users.

the current discovery of “hobbits” (pardon the common name :) ) suggests that there were intellgent other species that existed for long periods when in isolation, which tends to provide support for the above generalization.

in other words, in part the reason there are no other intelligent humanoids apparently extant is that they were wiped out by… us.

a little humility indeed!

to think there is ONLY one possible explanation for our existence is pretty limited, don’t you think?

Comment #43631

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 17, 2005 10:31 PM (e)

“If we are mere animals why not allow the strong to devour the weak, the agile to consume (figuratively speaking) the slow, the smart to kill the stupid? Is that not the way almost all species behave? Is that not then the “way of the world”, evolution in particular?”

that just reflects an extremely poor understanding of the theory of evolution to begin with. evolution theory does not now, nor ever really did, simply say that the strong survive over the weak..

indeed, i can give you numerous examples where this is not the case. fitness does not always relate to absolute strength, you know.

every hear the term inclusive fitness?

I think you would be well served by checking out some of the archives at talk.origins (links are well presented on the front of this very site), to get a better idea of exactly how evolutionary theory works and is presented, before making such broad accusations of the conclusions it makes, Carol.

Comment #43632

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 17, 2005 10:32 PM (e)

“If we are mere animals why not allow the strong to devour the weak, the agile to consume (figuratively speaking) the slow, the smart to kill the stupid? Is that not the way almost all species behave? Is that not then the “way of the world”, evolution in particular?”

that just reflects an extremely poor understanding of the theory of evolution to begin with. evolution theory does not now, nor ever really did, simply say that the strong survive over the weak..

indeed, i can give you numerous examples where this is not the case. fitness does not always relate to absolute strength, you know.

ever hear the term inclusive fitness?

I think you would be well served by checking out some of the archives at talk.origins (links are well presented on the front of this very site), to get a better idea of exactly how evolutionary theory works and is presented, before making such broad accusations of the conclusions it makes, Carol.

Comment #43638

Posted by carol clouser on August 17, 2005 11:54 PM (e)

Folks,

If you read my previous post carefully you will discover that I was presenting reasons to Miah for why SOME PEOPLE see reason for the God hypothesis. So spare me the lessons on evolution, which does not provide satisfactory solutions to all the mysteries of the universe (irrespective of which which website you consult).

Does the God hypothesis provide satisfactory answers? It certainly raises a host of new questions. There is room here for reasonable people to disagree. What I don’t care for is the “smarter than thou” attitude of some secularists, just as much as I don’t care for the “holier than thou” attitude of some religionists.

Comment #43650

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 18, 2005 12:55 AM (e)

Can you not see that some people insist that their lives be more meaningful than eating, defecating fornicating and then dying?

Indeed, some people would prefer to be like a can opener, which has a purpose, or a sentence, which has a meaning, than an autonomous being.

Can you not see that some people have a problem with this awesome universe being here for no real purpose? It just happens to be here?

Indeed, some people can’t even imagine that someone who wins a lottery just happens to.

Can you not see that some people have a problem with human beings as merely the latest creature to evolve like all the beasts of the field? How are they supposed to reconcile that with the obvious huge gulf that exists between humans and all other species in terms of self awareness, ability to do calculus, create music, speak languages, have a concience, feel shame, and on and on?

Uh, brain size and complexity, and culture? Since you asked, are you saying that it’s irreconcilable? And how does God come into play here?

If we are mere animals why not allow the strong to devour the weak, the agile to consume (figuratively speaking) the slow, the smart to kill the stupid?

Don’t these folks follow the news? As for “If … why not allow”, the question makes no sense. Being animals doesn’t determine what we should allow.

Is that not the way almost all species behave?

No, almost no species works that way.

Is that not then the “way of the world”, evolution in particular?

Well, if it is, what does that have to do with whether God exists? If God exists, that’s the way of the world, and if God doesn’t exist, that’s the way of the world.

There are all kinds of reasons that people believe in God, but not a single one of them is based on having accurate information and reasoning logically with it. All the reasons offered here are profoundly irrational and ill-informed.

We really weren’t supposed to talk about this stuff here, but it seems it just won’t stay suppressed.

Comment #43652

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 18, 2005 1:05 AM (e)

If you read my previous post carefully you will discover that I was presenting reasons to Miah for why SOME PEOPLE see reason for the God hypothesis.

Both you and Miah seem to have missed that the original context was about the religious beliefs of theistic evolutionists and other scientists, not evolution deniers. Ah well, due to Lurker and Miah paying no attention to what the thread was about, it seems that the original participants have gone away. My original argument was that coming up with theological arguments for or against evolution (a theological argument against ID amounts to a theological argument for evolution) is a bad idea, so perhaps I should be happy about that, but this really isn’t the way I would have hoped for it to happen.

Comment #43659

Posted by Lurker on August 18, 2005 2:50 AM (e)

“Saying that believers can accept evolution doesn’t defend evolution because it doesn’t say they have to accept in it. But, as I’ve already said, if people start talking about accepting evolution being preferable, the only valid way to do that is scientifically.”

I do not believe in forcing people to accept any person’s Truths. Surely, as an atheist, you would appreciate my position? I do, however, prefer people tolerate my Truths. Sometimes, to achieve tolerance I need to explain that my Truths do not in any way threaten their Truths. That is my notion of a defense as applied to religion and science. It does not require acceptance. I can defend flag-burning as free speech, but that does not mean I have to accept flag-burning. Likewise, I can defend theism and atheism as rational worldviews, but that does not mean I have to accept both simultaneously. So, I can see the Church defending evolution theologically, but not require its adherents to accept it. A most effective defense is to do what Neufeld has done: which is to point out that a poorly conceived attack on evolution threatens Christian doctrines. To reject an attack does not require acceptance, but it certainly goes a long way towards lessening tensions.

BTW, there is tremendous irony in your complaint that people do not speak of preferences scientifically. What exactly is the scientific evidence that preferences be scientifically based?

“When the Pope said that “evolution is more than a hypothesis”, he didn’t mean a theological hypothesis, he said that its the consequence of science, and scientific arguments, not theological arguments; he did not give a theological argument for evolution.”

He did say that truths cannot contradict truths. He also said that there were materialist, reductionist, and spiritualist interpretations. Finally, he reiterated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith, given certain conditions (which are not matters of science but rather of faith). I grant these are not active arguments for a science, but they are rather a defense of compatibility between a science and religion. That is about as much as I can expect from the Pope. After all, consider the falsifiability of science. Why would the Church commit itself to scientific theories, which may be sometime in the future determined to be wrong, as though they were gospel Truths? The best the Church can do is to reaffirm theological doctrines (yes, they are likely not to be scientifically falsfied), and note that evolution and other scientific theories remain consonant with those doctrines.

“And that’s the thing about theology — any statement can be taken on faith, and theological arguments need not follow the rules of logic, so a theological argument can argue for any conclusion, not just the ones we prefer.”

I am not a theologian. And so, I will reserve judgment on theological commentary given by an atheist. I will note, however, that first principles, (be they axioms, assumptions, whatever) need not follow rules of formal logic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom#Non-logical_axioms
To accept an assumption or axiom, is to accept it on the basis of intuition and its perceived fruitfulness in generating knowledge and producing understanding. As such it is self-evident, and taken on “faith”.

“Anyone can be a defender of evolution or good science, on scientific grounds. But a theological justification for an empirical theory or conclusion can’t possibly be “good science”.”

By that same token, if one is not a scientist and not versed with the scientific data, the best defense amounts to a mere appeal to authority. That is also not “good science.” Then there are those who are so politically vested in the Creation-Evolution struggle, that they only defend evolution from a secularist perspective, namely wielding evolution as anti-church and state. Their defense is also not “good science.” Finally, there are the philosophers of science, who study evolution only in relation to the progression of sciences through history. They are interested in finding those features of evolution in common with other accepted sciences which makes it possible to defend evolution as a “good science.” But, when has philosophy and metaphysics become a “good science?”

Well, it goes without saying that I reject the notion that the a defense of evolution can only be achieved at a scientific level. I do believe, however, that acceptance is best achieved at a scientific level. But, as I have noted in other posts, I am striving for much less than acceptance, given the cultural norms. I am striving for tolerance, because without that I don’t see acceptance happening.

Comment #43662

Posted by Lurker on August 18, 2005 3:17 AM (e)

Is Chance the same poster as GH? I thought I was writing to the latter…

“That wasn’t my point. People in need often seek services out of hope. Just because such services exist doesn’t make them any less quacky. It’s the results that matter, alternative medicines often suck up dolars and precious time patients should be putting into legit medical practices.”

What is “legit” medical practice is never that black and white. Though this would be severely out of the scope of this thread, I will point out that your “legit” doctors suck up millions of dollar and precious patient times too, sometimes through unintentional or intentional malpractice. So the ends hardly justifies the label that alternative medicine is “quack.” You’ve got the point, though: it is partly about hope. Clinical trials of research anti-cancer medicine, for instance, is often no more sound medicine than recommending someone try acupuncture. They both provide hope, even if they are both only intermittently successful. At least, acupuncture isn’t prone to killing the patient in an attempt to treat him. And, guess what, they are both subject to scientific research at major medical institutions. To tie this diversion back to the thread, though, I will point out the other component of hope in medicine, however, is often spiritual, and thus it is not readily accessible by science. Medicine is currently very murky… “dark ages” type stuff, I am sure, when looked back many years from now.

“Whats wrong with Dawkins, Gould, Shermer, and Dennett? It seems to me your just looking to court public opinion rather than actually engage in an intellectual exercise. The aforementioned men present a strong case. Miller does to when it comes to science, then pulls all kinds of stuff out his rear with his theology. But it’s his right to do so.”

Yes, I am looking to court public opinion. How to court public opinion is an intellectual exercise. I agree Miller has the right to talk about his theology.

“I just don’t see how that makes him more palatable than the others. If the others present their case well why should their superstitious views preent or not matter?”

I don’t really know. I think people tend to choose lowest-energy states. Consequently, they really need to be energized to want to maintain a state of perpetual strife. I am hoping that a message that switches off the source of energy driving the tremendous levels of conflict will reduce all the useless heat being generated.

Comment #43679

Posted by Lurker on August 18, 2005 3:21 AM (e)

“Ah well, due to Lurker and Miah paying no attention to what the thread was about, it seems that the original participants have gone away.”

I have a different theory: ts’s continued participation on this thread, despite harold’s repeated calls for banning ts, is what drove the original participants away.

Comment #43681

Posted by carol clouser on August 18, 2005 3:59 AM (e)

TS,

To be brief about the points you make, let me say the following:

The brain size issue does not satisfy MANY PEOPLE because the gap in skills and abilities between humans and ALL other species is totally out of proportion to the ratios involved. And science cannot offer a satisfactory explanation due to our still very much incomplete understanding of how the brain operates. (By the way, don’t elephants have large brains? How does their thinking compare to human?)

It is a fact that most organisms survive by preying upon and consuming other organisms. (I can’t imagine you would dispute this.) This is usually accomplished by the predator having some advantage over the prey. If we apply this to humans, we come to the conclusion that laws prohibiting such activities go against the “laws of nature”. The ethical and moral basis for punishing violators is thus cast into doubt. I recall an interview with a member of the Gambino crime family in which he argued, and I paraphrase here, “It’s a dog eat dog world. All animals take advantage of weaker animals when they are hungry. That’s life. There is nothing wrong about what I did. I was hungry. It’s the way of nature.”

The MANY PEOPLE the God hypothesis combined with theological considerations offers some relief here. God created uniquely endowed humans in His image. The “dog eat dog” world is therefore not applicable. And that’s why the gap in ability with all other species is so enormous. God created the universe for a purpose and humans play a huge role in that scheme of things (which I will not get into right now).

You may not agree. It raises other questions and objections. But it is based on logic and it satisfies its adherents.

Comment #43683

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 18, 2005 4:17 AM (e)

I have a different theory: ts’s continued participation on this thread, despite harold’s repeated calls for banning ts, is what drove the original participants away.

Since Louis explicitly invited me back and disclaimed Harold’s call which was a manifestation of his own evident psychosis, your theory is full of crap, and you are full of crap.

Comment #43689

Posted by SEF on August 18, 2005 6:16 AM (e)

totally out of proportion to the ratios involved

We already know from comparison with other existing animals and from variation between humans that using simplistic ratios isn’t a good enough guide.

The brain size issue does not satisfy MANY PEOPLE because the gap in skills and abilities between humans

… is so wide that those particular people are too stupid, ignorant, dishonest or insane to be capable of being satisfied by evidence which exists but which they don’t understand, don’t know about, don’t dare/care to look at or won’t admit.

Comment #43703

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 18, 2005 9:26 AM (e)

Carol,

Two words…naturalistic fallacy.

As for respecting the value of religious expression in the lives of many people, I agree, but apparently for very different reasons.

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #43709

Posted by Dan S. on August 18, 2005 10:28 AM (e)

“because the gap in skills and abilities between humans and ALL other species is totally out of proportion to the ratios involved… (By the way, don’t elephants have large brains? How does their thinking compare to human?)

One important thing to take into account is body mass. Given that, we are way, way out there; our *brain* is way out of proportion to what it should be. Elephants do have large brains (and pretty complex behavior, and some form of communication, though *not* language). They’re also a whole lot bigger than us.

Wikipedia page: Brain to body mass ratio,
nifty graph
Although how brains are arranged is also important!

“It is a fact that most organisms survive by preying upon and consuming other organisms…. If we apply this to humans …”

Um - I don’t mean to be rude, but what did you have for dinner last night?

Anyway, science isn’t a guide to morality - you have to get that elsewhere. This is arguably one of the basic confusions that cause this whole mess. (Personally, I don’t believe that religion is necessary for morality, nor, I fear, is it sufficient - generally it seems that co-religionists may get better treatment, but often people of other religions/sects can be enslaved, ignored, mistreated or slaughtered - but that has to do with matters beyond religion, and I’m getting off track here, so ignore me). But yes, many people feel belief in God i necessary to avoid a worse dog-eat-dog world. Evolution doesn’t contradict that.

“My original argument was that coming up with theological arguments for or against evolution … is a bad idea,”
But ts, carol raises an important point here. While part of the reason for the low acceptance of evolution is lack of awareness (it needs a p.r. firm!), a big part is ~more or less theological in nature. Additionally, the two combine, resulting, for some, in a barrier to 1) seeking to learn about evolution, 2)being receptive to any information presented about it, and 3) supporting it being taught in school.

I have to admit, though, whatever our differences that can-opener post was a thing of terse beauty.

Of course, the big question is: electric or manual?

“Can you not see that some people insist that their lives be more meaningful than eating, defecating fornicating and then dying?”
I never did understand this whole issue - it seems self-evident that peoples’ lives can be more meaningful than that, in a whole number of ways, with or without God; indeed, it would seem that human experience testifies to that - presumably love for others, response to beauty, striving for goals are not dependent on a belief in God, although theycould conceivably be different ….but I’m babbling again, someone stop me …

Lurker - nice post re: the pope, etc. Interesting point about appeal to authority … (although I’ve seen arguments that it’s not a big problem unless the authority is inappropriate in some way - dunno …)

You can’t bring a stack of burgers to a hot-dog eating contest and expect to win. That’s what it comes down to.

Comment #43715

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 11:20 AM (e)

Hi everyone,

I know I am joining in rather late, but I just would like to start out by saying that I’ve found the discussion on this thread very interesting, and it has helped me to come some distance toward forming a position that most of us can agree on, and that I can be personally satisfied with. I am not saying what that is yet, but I’m working on it. (and please don’t, “good luck with that, Katarina” with sarcasm, please!)

I think ts and other atheists have made the excellent point (to paraphrase them) that it is almost impossible to tell what “good” theology is, since there are no certain criteria from which to decide. It complicates the matter even more that proponents of ID don’t have an actual theological position, we can only infer what their position is, as was also pointed out by ts and others.

But I disagree with them that this is enough reason to give up on the discussion. As other commentators have pointed out, the discussion is of great importance in raising public awareness of the vacuity of ID.

For different denominations of Christianity, at least, the theological basis of their disagreements usually go back to scripture (the Judeo-Christian Bible). There are some scriptures that suggest we are justified in looking for evidence of God’s creation in nature.

Romans 1:18-21

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Psalm 19:1-6

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard. [a]

4 Their voice [b] goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

So whatever criteria we have for debating the theological correctness of pursuing such a thing as Intelligent Design theory, the Bible is certainly considered authoratative on theological questions, and these scriptures seem to support the notion that the world should have evidence of God’s design, authority, and power. I’m just taking a stab at this, correct me if you see another interpretation.

In comment #43075, harold said:

Christian teaching makes it clear miracles, or other “proofs” of God, are NOT to be expected.

I would like to accept that. Can you give me some reference for your assertion?

Comment #43716

Posted by steve on August 18, 2005 11:29 AM (e)

That’s some pretty naive neurology from Carol.

Comment #43720

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

Also besides the theological questions, I would like to ask anyone who has an idea, what evidence actually means. In science, I think we can verify evidence because it is reproducible. If you tell me how you did your experiment (methods), I should be able to get the same results when I do it in my lab. The conclusions can be agreed or disagreed upon, which prompts further hypotheses.

But what about evidence that cannot readily be reproduced, nor are we supposed to expect it to? Such as miracles, for example. There are many sides to my faith, but one is rational, which means it must be based on evidence. But the evidence I experienced can neither be reproduced, or shown to prove beyond doubt that it was God at work. Two people can witness what happened to me, and one can attribute it to chance but the other can see devine action in it. It’s a choice. For me, the evidence was reinforced because I felt God’s presence around me. But that is not proof for anyone else, because as ts pointed out earlier, it can all be attributed to psychology. While I allow that this is a possibility, I choose to think it was real and not an illusion, since I’m not prone to illusions in general. But it is still possible to make an argument to the contrary, so in the end it is simply my choice to believe.

So my question is this: is there a difference between evidence that may be reproduced, and that which cannot? Or is only evidence that can be reproduced considered valid? Are there different ways to be valid, or only one way? I tend to think my evidence is personal, and that God meant to show himself to me personally, not to endow me with reason to convince others of his existance.

But as has been pointed out here, we are to take Jesus’ ressurection as evidence because there were wittnesses. They can’t reproduce what happened, but it is written that they saw it. Are there different categories of evidence, and if so, which does this fall into?

Comment #43722

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 12:05 PM (e)

I ask that you please respond to the essence of my question, instead of merely ridiculing my experience or pointing out minor flaws. I am in my 7th month of pregnancy and tend to get especially emotional with personal attacks.

Comment #43723

Posted by qetzal on August 18, 2005 12:10 PM (e)

I think ts is making an important and valid point.

If one wishes to criticize ID as bad theology, or argue that it’s incompatible with “accepted” Christian principles, that’s one thing.

But Henry Neufeld’s original note explicitly mentions the relationship of that argument to science education. ts argues that it’s dangerous and inappropriate to “defend” evolution by attacking ID theologically, and I agree.

True, many people’s animosity to evolution might be reduced if they were convinced that it doesn’t really conflict with their religion. So there could well be large practical benefits of that approach.

The problem is in seeming to argue that it’s OK to teach evolution because it doesn’t really conflict with most Christians’ beliefs. Even if that’s not really the argument being made, there’s a high likelihood of it being viewed that way. In other words, making this argument seems to establish that agreement between science and religion is a valid consideration in deciding what to teach as science. That’s very wrong, and IMO it’s exceptionally dangerous.

The defense for teaching evolution (or anything else) as accepted science is simply that it’s well supported by empirical evidence. The defense for rejecting ID as science is that it is not supported by empirical evidence. In fact, if ID could generate adequate empirical evidence, I would support teaching it as science, whether or not it is bad theology. (I don’t think ID will generate such evidence, but I don’t thinks it’s necessarily impossible.)

I have no problem with Christian leaders showing how their faith doesn’t conflict with any given body of science. And I can certainly see that such arguments may have an impact on people’s receptiveness to science. But I think we should draw the line at characterizing such arguments as a defense of science.

Comment #43726

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 12:20 PM (e)

quetzal,

Science is definitely the most important defense of evolution, but as a side-note, why does it hurt to add that evolution has nothing to say about the supernatural, so that students can proceed to learn without fear that their faith is being threatened. The theological question is central to why people reject evolution, so it doesn’t do to just simply ignore it, at least in a public teaching context, and especially when directly asked the question by students.

I myself would like to be armed with a solid philosophical argument that I can reply with, and then get on with teaching the science.

Comment #43732

Posted by Miah on August 18, 2005 12:37 PM (e)

Shaggy Maniac wrote:

Please don’t mistake me as an apologist for a literal interpretation of the Garden of Eden narrative.You are welcome to engage me via email if the former is of interest to you, but I don’t really think it is appropriate to continue to do so in this thread.

I wasn’t thinking that at all, but just so you know, I engage in conversations that deal with those who take the bible as literal and as inerrant, so that is why I enganged that topic as I did. I think I would like a friendly discussion to get another point of view regarding it. I do agree that we shouldn’t continue that topic in this thread.

carol clouser wrote:

This is just another example of the grotesque and sloppy distortions of the original Hebrew that the popular translations are guilty of.

If the whole Bible has been translated wrong from the beginning, then why doesn’t the scribes and scholars FIX it? Because they would have to say that for the past 2000 years they were preaching the wrong or incorrect message. This would play much havoc on those who regard the KJV as the one, only, and true gospel.

carol clouser wrote:

Can you not see that some people insist that their lives be more meaningful than eating, defecating fornicating and then dying?

Are you implying that just because I see no point for God or religion that I don’t have a purpose in life? I object to that insinuation. You know NOTHING of these people or me, or what we feel towards life’s meaning.

carol clouser wrote:

Can you not see that some people have a problem with this awesome universe being here for no real purpose?

Who said anything like that??? Purpose is left for debate with philosophers. The whole point that seems to be missed is that the UNIVERSE is here. Scientist attempt to explain HOW and WHEN and WHERE, NOT WHY.

carol clouser wrote:

Can you not see that some people have a problem with human beings as merely the latest creature to evolve like all the beasts of the field?

The only problem I see is the idea that they don’t want to be anything but special. It is no different that when the earth was thought to be the center of the solar system. They believed that the earth was so special and set aside for man, that God put it as the Center of the solar system.

You can’t believe that I see no point/reason for a God or religion. God (of the Christian Bible) is a self indulging, racist, ego maniacle, genocidal, homicidal, self-centered, abusive asshole. To which he created the universe an all in it to praise and worship HIM and marvel at his works…how much more egotistic can you get? Which goes against EVERYTHING that I claim to be. So NO, I do not see a point in God or a religion that justifies this behaviour.

ts wrote:

Both you and Miah seem to have missed that the original context was about the religious beliefs of theistic evolutionists and other scientists, not evolution deniers.

Ok, ts…let me try this again.

Henry Neufeld wrote:

In a recent contribution I suggested the possibility of a designer who made such a perfect design that intervention would never be necessary. This is not something that could be demonstrated, nor is it something that I assert as a fact, but it is a design possibility. The point here is that a deist or theist can quite easily both believe that the universe is designed, and yet not believe that the “design” is going to be detectible. Since the whole is designed, there is no necessity that some portions of it look more designed than others.

The question is whether this hypothetical theist can allow any kind of intervention in the universe, without also assuming that such intervention can be detected and measured? I am frequently asked how I can oppose intelligent design, and yet see any kind of interaction of God with the universe.

In his first sentence alone I see that since there is a perfect design that requires no intervention so (IMHO) it precludes theistic evolution all together. Am I wrong to think that a “perfect” design would not require any modification over time?

Unless it’s argued that the designer knew there would be the need for modification and adaptation and “installed” (I beg a pardon for lack of a better word) the mechanisms of evolution so that life could become that perfect design.

Then one could argue that the design was not perfect to begin with.

But this is highly speculative.

Katarina wrote:

For different denominations of Christianity, at least, the theological basis of their disagreements usually go back to scripture (the Judeo-Christian Bible). There are some scriptures that suggest we are justified in looking for evidence of God’s creation in nature.

Very well said. That is what I was trying to convey to “ts” when I asked the question of how can you theologically argue a critique of ID without referring to God?

This is in response to Harold’s claim for proofs or miracles to not be expected as taught from the Bible.

I would like to accept that. Can you give me some reference for your assertion?

There are two times in The book of Matthew where I this is said:

Matthew 12:

38Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

39But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

and

Matthew 16:

1The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.

2He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.

3And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

4A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

Now keep in mind that it is taught that Christians are not to look for signs and wonders. Also keep in mind that the Parisees and Sadducees are regarded as modern day Right-Wing Fundamentalist.

They were trying to trick Jesus into blasphemy.

But for some reason it is taught (as Harold described) that No One should be looking for sighn and wonders (or proofs).

Except that thruought the whole Bible, God, Jesus, and the Apostles did signs and miracles to convince the unbeliever that there is indeed a God.

Confused??? I sure am.

Comment #43734

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 12:50 PM (e)

Miah,

Thank you for providing those scriptures. I am always told by people who study scripture that Jesus responded to everyone a little differently. Not that his message was different, but he spoke to their hearts and true intentions, rather than engaging in a debate with them or answering their specific questions. If the people who ask for proof of god with a hostile attitude, that could be the reason Jesus said they would be denied evidence.

These quotes are useful in that they may say God can be selective about whom he shows evidence to. Am I correct? That goes back to my question of subjective (personal) evidence, vs. reproducible evidence.

Comment #43736

Posted by Lurker on August 18, 2005 1:05 PM (e)

qetzal, unfortunately for us, the policymakers do not give a whit about a scientific defense of science. If they were, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. A “proper defense” of evolution in the sense you and ts are using is great. In principle I would completely agree. But a defense of evolution is not equivalent to a defense of evolution teaching. In an ideal world, I guess we would mandate atheist-naturalist scientists sitting on the school board to act as scientific gatekeepers… and oh nevermind, I am dreaming.

I guess there is a point of disagreement on the semantics involved. I have been a bit careless about using “defenses” of evolution and science as though they were meant to be in principle defenses of science. In principle, yes, I agree, the strict notion of a scientific defense of a science lies in its emprical support. In practice, however, especially when dealing with people who are not versed in science, the defense of science may mean the total support given all other considerations. It does not have to be this way. Nor should it be this way. But meanings of words are context dependent, and culture plays a large part in defining the context.

Consider, the scientist writing a proposal to get funded for a research program. He may scream all he wants in defense of his ideas, citing how his research meets the scientific principles of good science. But in the end, his defense will fall short if it does not also meet a slew of political considerations (such as the ethics of his program, the priorities of the grant giver, the theological implications, etc.) As in science curricula, a good scientific defense of science for a grant review is the not the same thing as a good overall defense of a science grant.

Comment #43749

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 18, 2005 1:27 PM (e)

Henry wrote: “Note: The purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of intelligent design on theological, rather than scientific, grounds.”

Why do we digress into alleged theological support for or arguments against evolution? That may or may not be a useful topic of discussion, but it seems beside the clearly stated purpose of the original post to this discussion which is to consider a theological critique of ID.

Comment #43756

Posted by Jeff Guinn on August 18, 2005 1:51 PM (e)

See my comment above, #43592.

I critiqued ID on theological grounds, noting that, contrary to its founders’ aims, ID absolutely demolishes Christian theology.

That fundamentalist Christians are the primary supporters of ID has convinced me that the primary motivating force of the universe is irony.

Comment #43770

Posted by Miah on August 18, 2005 2:42 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

Thank you for providing those scriptures.

You are quite welcome Katarina. (BTW contratulations on the preganancy…Children are such wonderful things.)

Katarina wrote:

I am always told by people who study scripture that Jesus responded to everyone a little differently. Not that his message was different, but he spoke to their hearts and true intentions, rather than engaging in a debate with them or answering their specific questions. If the people who ask for proof of god with a hostile attitude, that could be the reason Jesus said they would be denied evidence.

I would reccomend NOT going by what other people say. Read and study the scriptures for yourself so that you can have your own understanding.

Personally, I noticed that Jesus spoke to everyone pretty much the same. Very vauge in his answers, often spoke in parables…to me it was as if he was trying to get whomever he was conversing with to provide their own answer to the question posed. And notice it was the unbeliever and his followers that were not pre-indoctrinated that benefited the most.

IMHO Jesus was basically saying the answer is in yourself.

Notice too, that the only people he refused to debate, or answer specific questions were those that were so indoctrinated into the Old Testament belief system that they wouldn’t have listened to him anyway. He very much despised these people, calling them snakes, vipers, and all such foul verbalities of the day. Pretty much the same way Fundamentalist, KKK, and other “right-wing” extremest organizations are treated today by those who use a little more intuition and intellegence.

Furthermore, these type of people, when shown evidence wouldn’t have believed it anyway…so it would do no good to give them evidence in the first place. Jesus or even God is not denying them the evidence…they are denying themselves the evidence.

Katarina wrote:

These quotes are useful in that they may say God can be selective about whom he shows evidence to. Am I correct? That goes back to my question of subjective (personal) evidence, vs. reproducible evidence.

I don’t agree with this logic. The idea that any supreme being would choose who sees “it” and who doesn’t would only cause people to doubt what they saw because it impresses upon them that someone else that doesn’t see “it” isn’t worthy. It would seem benefitial to a supreme being that if he did indeed exist to show us all, point blank and without prejudice.

If you agree with me on the points I made then it would only seem evident that the atheist would be first targeted for miracles and signs and wonders by God. The ones that wouldn’t see it would be right-wing extremest.

Also too remember that usually when God did a miracle, is was for his self edification, and usually resulted in a mass murder. When Jesus did a miracle in fell in line with more…humanistic views. The fair and just treatment of humanity. With that being said, it is also noteworthy that Jesus was a bigot and his doctrine supported these views, as with his disciples. So really he wasn’t a full blown humanitarian. And that is how it was in that day…so it is no surprise to see this. (Please note, I am not advocating bigotry…just making a note of it!) There is a huge debate as to Jesus’ supposed racism, but I have not found scriptural evidence to support this.

With your questions regarding the subjective evidence vs. reproducible evidence.

As I have noted before, subjective evidence can be dismissed by natural causes, or understanding the complexities of our brain.

Case in point:

I read, either online or heard on news that there was a study done on a goup of people. Both sets of people receiving same treatment, except one group was being prayed for. Supposedly the doctors were in shock and awe to notice that the people that were getting prayed for were far better than those who weren’t. The doctors “admited” something was going on, but wouldn’t say for sure it was God.

First of all, this is an unfair experiment. There are more theories out there that need to be tested alongside.

One person I spoke to about this dismissed this as the Placebo effect, and said you can get the same results with a dog.

Now I don’t know this for sure, but I would LOVE to do the following experiment:

One group of people receiving regular treatment.
One group of people receiving treatment & prayer.
One group of people receiving treatment, being told that they are being prayed for but not.
One group of people receiving treatment & dog visitations.

Alas, I do not have the resources. Nor the time, Nor the money.

Maybe AiG would fund something like this…or perhaps DI?

Course what would happen to the myth of miracles if all three receiving “more” than just treatments reacted in majority the same way?

Comment #43777

Posted by qetzal on August 18, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

[W]hy does it hurt to add that evolution has nothing to say about the supernatural, so that students can proceed to learn without fear that their faith is being threatened[?]

I don’t object to that at all. I think it’s a good way of handling the issue. I especially like that it doesn’t require reference to any particular religion.

My only concern is that this point shouldn’t appear to be evolution-specific. It’s applicable to every part of science. I’d like students to be reminded of it at the beginning of each class year. It could certainly be reinforced periodically during the year, including (but not only) at the start of a unit on evolution.

Lurker wrote:

I guess there is a point of disagreement on the semantics involved.

I think that’s been a frequent source of confusion on PT lately. Not to mention more than a few unnecessarily heated exchanges.

In any case, I recognize and generally agree with your points about the politics involved here. I don’t think it’s wrong to address the theological problems with ID, or to discuss the compatibility of evolution and “mainstream” Christianity. Those are absolutely legitimate topics for discussion in most contexts.

But, I stand by my contention that such topics do not belong in a discussion of whether evolution and/or ID should be taught in science class.

Shaggy Maniac wrote:

Henry wrote: “Note: The purpose of this essay is to offer a critique of intelligent design on theological, rather than scientific, grounds.”

Why do we digress into alleged theological support for or arguments against evolution? That may or may not be a useful topic of discussion, but it seems beside the clearly stated purpose of the original post to this discussion which is to consider a theological critique of ID.

Yes, but Henry Neufeld’s note continues:

[W]e would ask that any comments be restricted to the subject of the theological validity of ID and its relation to science education….

I don’t pretend to have any insight on the theological validity of ID per se, but I do hold the above-proffered opinion on its relation to science education. Of course, I may still be outside the bounds that the author intended. If so, my apologies to all.

Comment #43786

Posted by SEF on August 18, 2005 3:42 PM (e)

why does it hurt to add that evolution has nothing to say about the supernatural, so that students can proceed to learn without fear that their faith is being threatened

The problem is that religious people tend not to all stick to only making supernatural claims for their faith. Whenever they stray into the area of material claims they inevitably conflict with reality, ie that means all sciences not just evolution.

The theists who are content to stick with faith being faith already don’t have a serious problem with evolution et al. For example, that’s the direction the Unitarians have increasingly taken. Although these theists may still find being animals and related to animals distasteful at first thought (which is where evolution does have more impact than physical chemistry say), they tend to be capable of getting over that. Just like most people don’t develop extreme phobias and can cope with seeing blood or whatever else they find distasteful without insisting it be taken away or trying to pretend it isn’t there.

So you wouldn’t really be addressing many people who aren’t already capable of coping with reality. That is, of course, were many of them not being kept deliberately ignorant of the true nature of reality by the more rabid and dishonest minority who are effectively phobic but don’t want to be helped out of it.

Comment #43788

Posted by SEF on August 18, 2005 3:48 PM (e)

A largish prayer study has already been done in the US (around the time of the twin tower attack because events after that interfered with the end of it). It failed to find any significant results for prayer. The ones who wanted to believe wriggled a lot about things nearly being significant but the fact is that they failed to meet the statistical standard. A documentary about it has been aired in the UK at least twice (though I can’t be precise about when or remember whether they were exactly the same one).

Comment #43843

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 18, 2005 6:58 PM (e)

Carol wrote:

The brain size issue does not satisfy MANY PEOPLE because the gap in skills and abilities between humans and ALL other species is totally out of proportion to the ratios involved. And science cannot offer a satisfactory explanation due to our still very much incomplete understanding of how the brain operates.

Carol, you’re talking through your hat; you have no idea of the state of the science involved. “brain size” was just shorthand. brain to body mass ratio (have you noticed that elephants are bigger than us?) and brain complexity, with substructures in the human brain that don’t exist in other species, is relevant. Most important are physiological differences in the brain and elsewhere that make speech possible. We have language and foreplanning, which are adequate to explain all the perceived differences. Certainly more adequate than supposing that we have ethereal souls with capabilities beyond those of material brains, especially in these days of MRIs and CAT and PET scans, where every cognitive act can be correlated to specific brain activity. We indeed don’t understand many of the details of how the brain does what it does, but we have an ever increasing idea of what parts of the brain do what, and of what parts and abilities simply aren’t there in most other species. Of course there are always surprises, such as the recent discovery that birds can create new tools, the only animals other than man known to be able to do so (see http://www.sciencemag.org/feature/data/crow/ – includes cool video). And the observations of bird behavior led to added interest in the brains of birds, and led to the discovery of interesting features that may well explain the unusual behavioral capacities. This is a far more plausible and satisfying explanation than that God is a bird fancier.

Miah wrote:

Both you and Miah seem to have missed that the original context was about the religious beliefs of theistic evolutionists and other scientists, not evolution deniers.

In his first sentence alone I see that since there is a perfect design that requires no intervention so (IMHO) it precludes theistic evolution all together. Am I wrong to think that a ³perfect´ design would not require any modification over time?

Sigh. Perhaps it would be easier in loglan than in English. I didn’t say anything about theistic evolution, I referred to theistic evolutionists – evolutionists who are theists. Perhaps I should have said theist evolutionists. Of course Henry doesn’t think the design requires any (Godly) modification over time – that was the whole point of his article!

qetzal wrote:

I think ts is making an important and valid point.

Well, you seem to be the only one who gets it.

In fact, if ID could generate adequate empirical evidence, I would support teaching it as science, whether or not it is bad theology.

Yes!! From the POV of science, theological grounds are the wrong grounds to accept or reject an empirical claim, and when scientists employ such grounds they legitimate that approach and undermine science. If we complain that ID is hubristic and blasphemous, then what position are we in when someone uses the same charge against valid science? It is sad and disturbing that so few people seem able to grasp such a simple and basic point.

Katarina wrote:

why does it hurt to add that evolution has nothing to say about the supernatural, so that students can proceed to learn without fear that their faith is being threatened

It doesn’t hurt, but this is not a theological argument for or against evolution, it is entirely neutral – and it isn’t a theological argument. And, as someone noted, it should stated in regard to all of science, not just evolution. But note that you can state it until you’re blue in the face, and many people will still feel threatened, because it isn’t really true – science tells us that much of what is held to be supernatural can be explained, so that the basis for belief in the supernatural is undermined. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible to reformulate one’s theological beliefs as the sort of abstraction that Henry discusses in his article, but most people don’t want to reformulate their beliefs, and don’t find comfort in Henry’s theology; they want a God who hears and acts upon their prayers and punishes their enemies and ensures that the politicians they prefer win elections and so on and so on. But science says “we have no need for that hypothesis”.

I ask that you please respond to the essence of my question, instead of merely ridiculing my experience or pointing out minor flaws.

Katarina, I did not ridicule your experience, I pointed out that science can explain it, that there’s no need to invoke the supernatural. You said that such a claim is unwarranted – a profoundly anti-scientific position. The fact is that, while you may not find evolution to threaten your beliefs, you do find psychology and cognitive science to threaten them, because according to that science you are misattributing your experiences, and coming to mistaken conclusions as to their implications, via well understood human psychological mechanisms such as selective perception. Science says that there is a natural explanation for the origin of species, and there is a natural explanation for your prayers appearing to be answered.

Comment #43847

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 7:16 PM (e)

Miah,

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

I don’t agree with this logic. The idea that any supreme being would choose who sees “it” and who doesn’t would only cause people to doubt what they saw because it impresses upon them that someone else that doesn’t see “it” isn’t worthy. It would seem benefitial to a supreme being that if he did indeed exist to show us all, point blank and without prejudice.

I don’t know that it has to do with worthiness. Whatever God’s reason for revealing himself to me as (I believe) he did, it didn’t have much to do with what kind of person I am, or was then. I was pretty self-centered and conceited, as I recall, in high school. In my mind, and I can’t really know this, it had more to do with whatever purpose he intends for me, which I have yet to understand.

Furthermore, these type of people, when shown evidence wouldn’t have believed it anyway…so it would do no good to give them evidence in the first place. Jesus or even God is not denying them the evidence…they are denying themselves the evidence.

If you agree with me on the points I made then it would only seem evident that the atheist would be first targeted for miracles and signs and wonders by God. The ones that wouldn’t see it would be right-wing extremest.

This argument goes back again, to my question of evidence. If you’re shown it once, but cannot reproduce it to others, that gives you the choice of dismissing it, especially as your memory of the event fades and you become less certain of the details, tending to tailor them to fit your most favorable interpretation more as time goes on. It could be true even if more than one person witnessed it. This would be personal evidence that is not reproducible, but gives each person to whom it is displayed enough to make a decision regarding faith. If it were undeniable (shown to all), the choice of faith would be diminished. I think I am making something like Ken Miller’s argument, with whom I agree.

it is also noteworthy that Jesus was a bigot and his doctrine supported these views, as with his disciples. So really he wasn’t a full blown humanitarian. And that is how it was in that day…so it is no surprise to see this. (Please note, I am not advocating bigotry…just making a note of it!) There is a huge debate as to Jesus’ supposed racism, but I have not found scriptural evidence to support this.

There is indeed scripture to support this. He speaks of Gentiles in an exclusionist way, and when a couple of Gentiles asked him to help them with miracles, he initially sounded like he was going to refuse them based on being Gentiles, but changed his mind to let it be “according to your faith.” It is an interesting theological debate, and both sides make good points, but it’s not relevant to this thread so I won’t go further into it.

I am more concerned at the moment with the main question of this thread. OK, deep breath, here it goes.

PROPOSAL: ID fails to support good theology because evidence of God, where it exists, is personal, not scientific (i.e. reproducible), and therefore science cannot be used to prove the existance of God.

I want to make sure this distinction I make between personal vs. reproducible evidence is a valid one, and that it stands up to logic. That is what I need help with, and also if possible, some scriptures to support either view, to complete the package of the argument.

Help from either side of the argument would be greatly appreciated.

(BTW contratulations on the preganancy…Children are such wonderful things.)

Thanks! It will be our third (what was I thinking!!) and this is another reason that I am trying to get my theology/philosophy on more solid grounds, before they start asking questions. My pre-schooler (the oldest) already surprises me with, “Is god scarier than all the monsters?” and, “How do you make water?” also, “Are snakes bad or good?” and “Why don’t T.Rexes eat vegetables instead of eating other dinosaurs?” In other words, theological, naturalistic, and good vs. bad questions. “What does it mean to be a good boy?”

TS,

I will have to take some time to think about your response. It isn’t always easy to understand or accept what you are saying. But your comments have been helpful in some ways, despite me being overly sensitive. I still don’t get why “choice” doesn’t make sense to you, it seems we are talking past each other. But let me think about it, K.
Thanks for the input.

Comment #43851

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 7:53 PM (e)

OK TS, I think I am ready for you. Be gentle. :)

It doesn’t hurt, but this is not a theological argument for or against evolution, it is entirely neutral – and it isn’t a theological argument.

Nope, it sure isn’t a theological argument, nor was it meant as such. It was meant as an introductory statement, a disqualifier if you will. However, having a well worked out theological argument to refer to upon further questioning, would help me stay honest. I’m not sure exactly what would be appropriate for which situation, but I can always be accessible to students and parents apart from class time. It will also allow people who are a personal part of my life in the community to be able to trust me with their children and help me make a trustworthy reputation to teach other children.

..science tells us that much of what is held to be supernatural can be explained, so that the basis for belief in the supernatural is undermined.

True. I have to think about that one some more. Yet, the extent of what science can explain is a bit overstated by you, in my opinion.

You said that such a claim is unwarranted – a profoundly anti-scientific position.

Why is it anti-scientific?

..according to that science you are misattributing your experiences, and coming to mistaken conclusions as to their implications, via well understood human psychological mechanisms such as selective perception. Science says there is a natural explanation for the origin of species, and there is a natural explanation for your prayers appearing to be answered.

I am not misattributing my experience according to that science, I am doing so according to YOU. You weren’t there, and for that matter, neither were any psychologists who investigate such questions.

Psychology, as I’ve admitted, does offer a possible natural explanation. However, it is my PERSONAL PREFERENCE, aka CHOICE, to accept the supernatural explanation. I already said that two people who witnessed what happened could have had two different perceptions, and they did. I mentioned that my dad remains unconvinced.

Perhaps our disagreement is more about which choice is more valid. That is why I need help deciding on whether evidence can be categorized as more or less valid according to its re-producability (is that a word??), or whether the distinction can be made at all, or is all evidence considered reproducible evidence. Your help is still welcome on this question, if you please.

Comment #43858

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 8:09 PM (e)

Miah,

Sorry, I forgot to address this:

As I have noted before, subjective evidence can be dismissed by natural causes, or understanding the complexities of our brain.

So, does that mean it’s less valid? Or only less valid in the scientific sense, but not in the sense that it could still be true?

Comment #43860

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 8:10 PM (e)

Is verifiable truth the only possible truth?

Comment #43862

Posted by SEF on August 18, 2005 8:22 PM (e)

It is sad and disturbing that so few people seem able to grasp such a simple and basic point.

That’s a rather outrageous and insulting assumption. Even limiting it to the people reading and contributing to this thread, you would have to be lumping the people who didn’t post on the matter at all in with those explicitly in disagreement with you or confused rather than permitting the possibility they might agree (eg didn’t feel it worth belabouring the point further than already was being done when there were other unaddressed points remaining). Where’s your evidence for those who get the point being few in number? The evidence that some people who disagree with you post about it can hardly be extrapolated to “all the rest disagree but don’t post” in preference to “all the rest agree and so don’t post”.

Comment #43865

Posted by SEF on August 18, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

Is verifiable truth the only possible truth?

Of course not. But if the other isn’t verifiable then you aren’t going to be able to separate it from the false.

Law and science have different standards of evidence. I’d say that of science is the higher.

In law, variable but potentially quite high credence is given to one-off witness statements. Even there though it helps to have corroboration, eg many witnesses, many separate observations and, ideally, physical evidence.

In contrast science rates personal observation as next to nothing - anecdote being a starting point rather than much in the way of valid evidence. An observation has to include some sort of objective measurement to be of much use and should be both repeatable and actually repeated by others, preferably at different times and places too (though note that a passage of Mercury has a limited observation window).

Comment #43877

Posted by Katarina on August 18, 2005 10:14 PM (e)

SEF,

Since science has the highest standard of evidence, does it follow that only scientific evidence can be relied on? Or would that depend on the nature of the question one is asking? Can science be applied to all questions?

I don’t think it’s as simple as distinguishing the “why” from the “what,” “when,” and “how.” Evolution explains why invasive species destroy their environment. The germ theory explains why one has certain symptoms after being invaded by a pathogenic bacteria. So the “why” questions aren’t exempt. But perhaps CERTAIN “why” questions are, I don’t know.

So what is exempt? I am trying to explore the possibility that subjective evidence may be exempt. While psychology has much to say about it, I don’t see how what it says confirms or denies whether God was involved in the experience. I still don’t see how psychology can determine the difference between a brain’s reaction to feeling the presence of God, and a brain’s illusion of the presence of God. Or is there a method that I don’t know about, by which this can be done? I really don’t think it’s that precise of a science, not that I blame it, the brain is a very complex organ.

Another category that may be exempt are simple chance events, as I’ve mentioned before. Things that are unpredictable to a high degree of certainty. A simple example is which part of the chromosome will get damaged by radiation, or mistakes in gene replication. All things that are beyond our predictive powers, and aren’t getting any more predictable with time. If God is behind those chance events, working in a hidden way to intervene but in a revealing way when he chooses to individuals or groups of individuals, that might not make for such a weak little god of the gaps. It is at least, a logical possibility. I am not making an argument for a benevolent god or an evil sadistic god, and this doesn’t help me. It is a much broader question.

Comment #43879

Posted by Dan S. on August 18, 2005 10:20 PM (e)

I don’t know about arguing that ID is theologically unsound, but let me just echo Lurker and repeat that the issue here isn’t *really* about the science for most people. This has to be addressed out in the public square, along (but perhaps separately) with the actual science, in some fashion, by somebody. It seems to me that to think we can get anywhere on this issue otherwise is extremely dubious. Do we all agree with this?

Comment #43905

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 2:29 AM (e)

It is sad and disturbing that so few people seem able to grasp such a simple and basic point.

That’s a rather outrageous and insulting assumption. Even limiting it to the people reading and contributing to this thread

The “universe” for my statement was actually the people who had commented on the matter, but framing my statement in that way was sloppy and careless; I should have said “that so many people seem unable to grasp such a simple and basic point”. Since my statement wasn’t meant to reference you, there’s no need for you to feel outraged or insulted.

Comment #43906

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 2:44 AM (e)

I don’t know about arguing that ID is theologically unsound, but let me just echo Lurker and repeat that the issue here isn’t *really* about the science for most people. This has to be addressed out in the public square, along (but perhaps separately) with the actual science, in some fashion, by somebody. It seems to me that to think we can get anywhere on this issue otherwise is extremely dubious. Do we all agree with this?

I think it should be addressed in the ways that it has been addressed: ID isn’t science, it’s a form of creationism, which was struck from science classes by the Supreme Court. The Discovery Institute is funded by people like Howard Ahmanson with a radical religious agenda contrary to American principles. The so-called scientists of DI aren’t, they haven’t been published in peer-reviewed journals and have no respect or standing in the scientific community. The U.S. needs educational high standards because we are being beaten by other countries that do. There’s a huge amount of future technology around genome sequencing, stem cell research, inherited diseases, drug resistant disease, etc. that all requires an understanding of evolution and genetics. School boards have been taken over by stealthy fundamentalists out to impose their religious views on the nation, inviolation of the separation of church and state and the religious freedom of those Americans who don’t subscribe to their views. etc. etc.

Comment #43910

Posted by SEF on August 19, 2005 4:52 AM (e)

Can science be applied to all questions?

It’s hard to say while you are being so vague. The simple answer is no but another answer could be yes if that includes reformulating a question or tackling another part of it, eg a faulty premise leading to it.

I still don’t see how psychology can determine the difference between a brain’s reaction to feeling the presence of God, and a brain’s illusion of the presence of God. Or is there a method that I don’t know about, by which this can be done?

Psychology on its own probably can’t under various circumstances. But psychology isn’t the only relevant approach. There’s neurology too.

It has already been shown that electricity and magnetism, when carefully applied(!), can produce the same effects as claimed by god and alien believers, both with and without invasive surgery. Various chemicals also make a difference but there, because of the non-localised effect, its easier for the believer to claim they’ve just been made more receptive to something real rather than having a fake experience which is pretty obviously controlled by the experimenter. This all follows observations of people with various types of brain damage which gave hints as to the important areas to then test in undamaged people.

However, that still wouldn’t work for turning a random sense of a supernatural event having occurred from a subjective experience into an objective one because people are not routinely monitored with massive amounts of equipment. Also the lack of precision on reading impulses (as opposed to creating sensations) means there would still be plenty of wriggle room for the believer to claim something was real.

which part of the chromosome will get damaged by radiation

Some theists are happy with a quantum god. Others aren’t. Pretending god tampers at that level doesn’t help them predict or distinguish anything in the slightest. So it’s not science.

Comment #43917

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 6:45 AM (e)

Pretending god tampers at that level doesn’t help them predict or distinguish anything in the slightest. So it’s not science.

Exactly. I am exploring the argument that religious views can be valid, while unscientific. I am looking for a way for us all (or at least most) to be able to say, with honesty and integrity, that religious validity is different than scientific validity, and therefore the two do not mix.

On the theological level, I am trying for the argument that we can reasonably expect the God described in the Bible, and not some whimpy god of the gaps, to hide himself from scientific scrutiny, but reveal himself in less certain types of evidence (personal/subjective evidence), thereby giving us a choice of whether or not to believe.

However, that still wouldn’t work for turning a random sense of a supernatural event having occurred from a subjective experience into an objective one

Right again. As explained above, that is not my aim.

Comment #43920

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 7:07 AM (e)

TS,

BTW, The problem you presented about science being able to explain long held supernatural beliefs is still in my mind. Maybe it can be solved if what I proposed actually works out as sound logic. That is, that there are areas not subject to scientific scrutiny at all, if they fall into these categories:

a) random events that cannot be predicted,
b) subjective events that cannot be probed either because
studying the brain cannot reveal whether or not God was present, or simply because people choose to perceive different things when presented with evidence which is not reproducible.

And furthermore, that those categories make enough room for God to do whatever the heck he pleases, and to resemble the God of the Bible.

I leave the possibility open that psychology and neurology working together may someday solve the problem, but I am not optimistic.

Comment #43927

Posted by Dan S. on August 19, 2005 8:04 AM (e)

“I think it should be addressed in the ways that it has been addressed: …”

That was a sweet little summary. I don’t know if it addresses many people’s main concerns? Of course, it’s possible, as more or less mentioned above, that anybody who would listen to any sort of theological-ish stuff* already is on our side …

* and thinking about it, I pretty much am thinking just - look, religion & science complementary, isn’t insisting on scientific *proof* ignoring faith, etc.

Comment #43933

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 19, 2005 9:29 AM (e)

Hi TS:

Since I have valued your perspective, please permit me to point you back to my comment #43561. If it is of interest to you to do so, I would appreciate your response.

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #43934

Posted by SEF on August 19, 2005 9:35 AM (e)

those categories make enough room for God to do whatever the heck he pleases, and to resemble the God of the Bible.

No, because claims are made of that version of god which go against physical evidence (eg the stuff in Genesis). The level of intervention then required to cover that up also requires an incredibly dishonest god. Something which many theists find distasteful because they like to pretend their imaginary friend is nice. So neither interpretation is permitted and that god concept is a loser whichever way you jump.

Comment #43937

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 9:46 AM (e)

ts wrote:

Sigh. Perhaps it would be easier in loglan than in English. I didn’t say anything about theistic evolution, I referred to theistic evolutionists — evolutionists who are theists. Perhaps I should have said theist evolutionists. Of course Henry doesn’t think the design requires any (Godly) modification over time — that was the whole point of his article!

I know that was his point. I was trying to figure out that if the design was indeed perfect as Henry indicated then what we see today and in the past (modifications of original perfect designs) could imply that the design was not perfect to begin with. I was trying to hit on that.

Your semantics are noted. I apologize for any confusion on my part. Was not my intention. I was thinking of theist who are evolutionist.

It is his (Henry) contention that the Designer (GOD) designed (created) all things…perfectly I might add, but will not allow himself to be detected or evidence found to prove that this ever happened. (This is what I’m understanding.)

Then he goes in to possiblities of how one “might” be able to detect or measure this Designer. Miracles is one of them.

If you read his essays they are pretty interresting. His take is that all the laws of the universe was set in motion by God and that God himself would not break those thereby effectively hiding his existence.

His references to God and Christianity and Jesus (even in his first post) contradict this topic. It is clear (or so it seems to me) that he is referencing the Judeao-Christian God of the Bible.

The point I have been trying to make here is that by his ideas of a “hidden Designer” totally contradicts WHO his is describing as that designer, based on the ONLY book we have of that designers habits and conduct (to whom he [Henry] is referring).

God, was ALWAYS showing himself. Showing his mighty hand. Always breaking those laws that he set out that orders the universe. (i.e. the sun and moon setting still for 1 full day so that the armies of Joshua could conquer whomever God felt was racially inept to be considered part of the human race at that time)

Joshua 10:11-14 (New King James Version)

11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.
12 Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

There are many, many examples in the Bible where God showed himself to man, and wildy interviened.

So basically my whole point is that whatever designer Henry is speaking about it is definately not the one of the Bible. He would have to totally reinvent a new God and then go from there.

Comment #43938

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 10:24 AM (e)

No, because claims are made of that version of god which go against physical evidence (eg the stuff in Genesis).

Not quite sure I follow. Do you mean that physical evidence disproves Genesis? It is obvious to me that Genesis can be true in a non-literal way, as many people believe. It doesn’t compromise the God of the Bible because his character and will is what is demonstrated, not the exact method. The message of the story is not meant to be scientific. If the Genesis account was concerned about being precise, it would at least be internally consistant.

The level of intervention then required to cover that up also requires an incredibly dishonest god.

Cover what up? Why dishonest? Does God have to disclose everything about himself and his intents and purposes? Is a parent obligated to tell children things that may be beyond their maturity level, just for the sake of bearing all? The God of the Bible is not easy to understand, but I still don’t see how my version contradicts him. I do see how Henry’s version would.

Comment #43939

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 10:29 AM (e)

Look, I cannot reconcile everything in the Bible with scientific findings. That is just too lofty of a goal, especially Noah’s flood. I have no idea what to make of that, some people say perhaps it was local. I don’t know everything, but it seems clear, at least, that the God of the Bible is an intervening God.

Comment #43942

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 11:01 AM (e)

Katarina wrote:

The God of the Bible is not easy to understand, but I still don’t see how my version contradicts him. I do see how Henry’s version would.

That is the whole problem. There is no One True God, because everybody has their own version of Him. There is no consistant model by which to judge or test because of this very fact.

Henry wrote:

The question is whether this hypothetical theist can allow any kind of intervention in the universe, without also assuming that such intervention can be detected and measured?

By the model which Henry is implicating (e.g. the God of the Bible), I believe the answer is a definate NO!

Now if Henry totally redefines a Designer that is NOT the God of the Bible, then I may be able to agree. But one still could not hypothesis theologically about this deity by simple definition I indicated in an earlier post that includes “…the nature of God”. IMHO, the term God indicates that of the Christian Bible!

So I believe Henry’s supposition/theory/idea/hypothesis is flawed from the get-go.

Past behaviour predicts future behavior.

Since we have only the Bible to go off of (“proof” of God’s almighty hand in the past), then it would seem evident that the God of the Bible would most definatly be measured and detected today because there would be massive miracles indicating his existance even today. And as I pointed out, it would even be MORE evident for those who deny the existence of such a God. Because as His past indicates, he wants the “unrighteous” to see that he exist even more!

Comment #43946

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 11:16 AM (e)

…the God of the Bible would most definatly be measured and detected today because there would be massive miracles indicating his existance even today.

This is one issue I have had for a while as well. What if he doesn’t WANT to be measured and detected, at least not in a way that would provide 100% certainty? What if he only wants to be detected in a way that leaves the choice open, because there isn’t 100% certianty?

It is also a possibility that after Jesus’s visit to our humble planet, the way God deals with the world changes, it is a new phase of his plan.

In addition, our standards of detecting and reproducing evidence are much stricter these days than they were in the times the Bible was written.

Or perhaps the proof was never meant to be absolute, now or in the past.

Comment #43947

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 11:19 AM (e)

it would even be MORE evident for those who deny the existence of such a God.

But you also said,

these type of people, when shown evidence wouldn’t have believed it anyway…so it would do no good to give them evidence in the first place.

Seems like you answered your own question, or am I confused?

Comment #43950

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 11:33 AM (e)

When I wrote that line:

These type of people, when shown evidence wouldn’t have believed it anyway…so it would do no good to give them evidence in the first place.

If you look in the context as it was written, I was strictly referring to the Fundamentalist as I parralled their behavior with that of the Saducees and Pharisees.

This is what I said:

Notice too, that the only people he refused to debate, or answer specific questions were those that were so indoctrinated into the Old Testament belief system that they wouldn’t have listened to him anyway. He very much despised these people, calling them snakes, vipers, and all such foul verbalities of the day. Pretty much the same way Fundamentalist, KKK, and other “right-wing” extremest organizations are treated today by those who use a little more intuition and intellegence.

Furthermore, these type of people, when shown evidence wouldn’t have believed it anyway…so it would do no good to give them evidence in the first place. Jesus or even God is not denying them the evidence…they are denying themselves the evidence.

“These type of people” I was referring to was the right-wing extremest groups that I implicated in the above paragraph.

Comment #43954

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 11:59 AM (e)

I understand.

But how can you be sure the atheists would be any more receptive than anyone else? Are atheists more receptive than fundamental Christians?

Can’t generalize, but it would seem to me less likely for someone who has rejected the idea of God on a rational basis to subsequently accept the idea of him once shown evidence that is anything but scientific (i.e. the highest standard of certainty, i.e. reproducible).

If God leaves some wiggle room for choice, instead of leaving the proof open to scientific scrutiny, the atheist would still be able to reason his way out of believing, as is his prerogative.

Comment #43956

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 12:00 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

What if he doesn’t WANT to be measured and detected, at least not in a way that would provide 100% certainty? What if he only wants to be detected in a way that leaves the choice open, because there isn’t 100% certianty?

It is also a possibility that after Jesus’s visit to our humble planet, the way God deals with the world changes, it is a new phase of his plan.

Again that would be a different God. If the Bible declares that He is everlasting and unchanging:

Malachi 3:6

For I am the LORD, I change not;

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Then it wouldn’t be the same God that you are trying to describe.

If indeed He does change, the He is a liar…therefore the comments regarding his dishonesty IMO.

Comment #43959

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

But how can you be sure the atheists would be any more receptive than anyone else? Are atheists more receptive than fundamental Christians?

If you refer to my logic of the earlier post (past behaviour predicts future behavior) then the answer to that IMHO would be yes.

The “athiest” of that day had different measurements of what they would accept as proof or evidence of “God”.

The “athiest” of this day have totally different criteria which would convince them as proof.

So far, anything that has been credited with a God, has been shown to be the result of nature without a God.

Take for instance the Flood example you provided:

TS might agree this point, but if the predictions that had been established that could account for a World Flood, or even a local flood, and there was found evidence to support this; AND it passed scientific scrutiny…then atheist would have no choice but to agree with it.

But that isn’t the case. There is NO evidence to support either a local or world flood.

Katarina wrote:

Can’t generalize, but it would seem to me less likely for someone who has rejected the idea of God on a rational basis to subsequently accept the idea of him once shown evidence that is anything but scientific (i.e. the highest standard of certainty, i.e. reproducible).

If an all knowing and all powerful God can’t provide the tiniest speck of proof of his existence that would convince an atheist of this day…then there is no reason to think that one exist at all.

Katarina wrote:

If God leaves some wiggle room for choice, instead of leaving the proof open to scientific scrutiny, the atheist would still be able to reason his way out of believing, as is his prerogative.

Again if it was the same God as the one in the Bible there would be NO wiggle room for choice at all. The God of the Bible declares that he is a VERY jealous God. Very rarely did God ever give anyone a choice. Not in the context that a just and righteous God could.

The choices that God seem to give are the same as a rapist who holds a gun to her head and says, “Do what I say, or you will die”.

Take the parallel example I provided to his FIRST human creation with the fruit of the tree of life, that was also briefly talked about earlier.

Is that really the kind of God you want to know?

Comment #43968

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 1:12 PM (e)

Miah,

Thanks for your consideration of my argument and your views. Much appreciated.

Still not sure that I suscribe to your vision of a hateful God of the Bible, but I will keep it in mind.

Comment #43971

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

Katarina,

You are very welcome, it has been an extreme pleasure to converse with you.

Keep in mind from my earlier post that I suggested for you to research on your own.

I didn’t subcribe to the visions of a hatefull God either.
It wasn’t untill I was reading “Bible Stories” to my childeren and my wife (bless her) said, “If I have to hear ONE more story of God killing somebody, I will scream”.

It wasn’t until that moment I decided to take off the blinders and begin reading and searching for myself.

1 Corinthians 13:4 (New International Version)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

God of the Bible isn’t any one of these. In fact he is quite the opposite.

Like I said, read for yourself.

Comment #43973

Posted by SEF on August 19, 2005 1:40 PM (e)

your vision of a hateful God of the Bible

It’s the god of the Bible, as written by the various authors. Anything else is your own personal fantasy - and it is then dishonest for you to pretend that the Bible supports your fantasy of a god. The dishonesty applies in some form or other whether or not you’ve read the thing because wilful ignorance of your own claimed religion is hardly a valid excuse for making stuff up and pretending it’s the same stuff!

Comment #43974

Posted by SEF on August 19, 2005 1:45 PM (e)

PS In case it isn’t clear: that isn’t to say that you can’t make up your own god. There’s world-wide precedent for that and nothing else after all! The only bits I seriously object to are the dishonest pretences that a given person’s god is the same as some other person’s god in defiance of the evidence and the evil things humans do using their (combined) gods as excuses. If humans want to be evil, I don’t think they should get away with blaming their imaginary friend for it; or re-label evil as good because they claim their imaginary friend is the biggest one.

Comment #43977

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 1:59 PM (e)

Anything else is your own personal fantasy - and it is then dishonest for you to pretend that the Bible supports your fantasy of a god.

I am trying to avoid just that! Of course I’ve read the thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s all committed to memory. At all costs I would avoid dishonesty! But the character of the God of the Bible seems a debatable issue. That is why I say people have different visions.

I’m really not qualified to debate whether the God of the Bible is good or bad, nor do I find it useful to my inquiry of the moment. I’m interested in whether he would be the type of god who wants his intervention to be subject to scientific inquiry, or not.

Comment #43978

Posted by Steviepinhead on August 19, 2005 2:16 PM (e)

SEF:

Anything else is your own personal fantasy - and it is then dishonest for you to pretend that the Bible supports your fantasy of a god.

Katarina:

But the character of the God of the Bible seems a debatable issue. That is why I say people have different visions.

Setting aside for the moment, the issues of rationality/irrationality, honesty/dishonesty, and validity/reproducibility of evidence, I think SEF is saying that each believer unavoidably construsts a personal fantasy of god/gods/God and I think Katarina is saying that each person is entitled to her own vision of God. I’m having a difficult time seeing a meaningful distinction between these two statements.

Yet Katarina appears to believe she is saying something different than SEF. Katarina, are you able to elucidate the distinction?

Comment #43980

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 2:31 PM (e)

Steviepinhead, good point. I am not sure that I would go as far as to say that each person is entitled to their own vision of the God of the Bible. I was just trying to leave the issue of the goodness/badness of God’s character aside for the moment, as I am not qualified to discuss it, nor have I come to a final decision about it.

The description of God’s dealings with people in the Old Testament can certainly be harsh, and cause us to draw negative conclusions about his character. However, the authors of the Bible claim he is still good. C.S. Lewis describes the character of God as being good, but untamed. I am just not qualified to speak on it, myself, but I know the issue is debated among theologans.

To repeat, I am more concerned about scriptures that would either support or reject the notion that the God of the Bible would want to be revealed with a scientific level of certainty. I would like to make the argument that his character goes against this, since the argument is for separating science from religious conviction, but I am not myself certain that this argument is in line with what the Bible says about God. I was hoping the folk at PT could help, but maybe it would be more fruitful to ask someone on a Christian blog.

Comment #43983

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 3:24 PM (e)

Shaggy Maniac wrote:

Regardless of whether IDists acknowledge it or not, it is a legitimate theological observation (if you allow that there is such a thing) that IDism essentially is a God-of-the-gaps argument; you seem to agree with me (if I read you correctly) in this analysis. The legitimacy of that theological analysis derives from what the IDist claim is, not from whatever the IDists acknowledge. We may simply disagree about whether it is helpful to make that legitimate theological observation, of course. You claim that doing so legitimizes theological objections to science; I don’t see how you have demonstrated this to be the case other than to assert it.

No, I didn’t (and don’t) claim that observing that ID is a God-of-the-gaps argument legitimizes theological objections to science; you’ve mixed up two things. First, the observation that something is a God-of-the-gaps argument is not “theological” – how could it be, those who make it are predominately atheists? It’s a simple empirical observation – that theists who argue for their faith on the basis of events that supposedly can’t be explained by science are forced to retreat to a smaller and smaller set of events or more and more tortured (see this thread recently) justifications for their belief as science advances. Theistic theoreticians and strategists like the prelates of the Catholic church have been forced by the God-of-the-gaps argument to retreat to a very abstract notion of god to protect their canon from science, but this is really a pragmatic consideration, not a theological one – they didn’t find the reasons to make such a retreat in their theological principles; rather, they recrafted their theological principles to fit pragmatic contingencies.

OTOH, there are theological arguments such as that ID is hubristic or blasphemous. I didn’t just assert that making such arguments legitimizes their application to science, though I think such assertion should be enough, like pointing out that this is August to someone who had forgotten. Rather, I pointed out – more than once – that it’s a case of special pleading. If you aren’t familiar with the term, google provides plenty of material, e.g.,
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/special-pleading.html

If you start arguing that this or that is hubristic and blasphemous, then you have, by your own behavior, declared that such arguments are valid – you have legitimized them. If they aren’t legitimate, why are you making them? If someone else starts arguing that, say, genetic recombination is hubristic and blasphemous, you are in no position to swat such arguments aside as invalid – that looks like blatant hypocrisy. Your opponent will come back and point out that you’ve been tossing these terms around, and you can hardly say that it’s ok for you do so and not ok for others to. It does no good to say, look, this is science and ID is not; aside from this begging the question, they can simply say yeah, hubristic and blasphemous science. If such theological arguments are good for the goose, they’re good for the gander (an aphorism that captures the concept of special pleading). Even if, somehow, you don’t think this goose/gander argument is valid, it will get used, and you’ll have heck of time convincing anyone that it isn’t valid. And thus it’s dangerous for scientists to make such arguments – not just because they have nothing to do with scientific reasoning, but because they will turn around and bite them.

I’ve made this argument several times now, so I won’t make it again. I think it’s persuasive, but if you aren’t persuaded, so be it.

I’m also not going to get into the details of the theological arguments here; I really do have better and more rewarding things to do. Of course people can choose to ignore fact and logic and to justify their beliefs with one “it may be that …” after another, but whether it is wise to do so and whether it is “unwarranted” for others to challenge their claims is another matter. As to the issue of “ways of knowing”, I suggest reading up on epistemology and trying to understand what it means to know something, as opposed to, say, believing it with all your heart, and how the scientific method and scientific reasoning makes it more likely (there are no guarantees) that our beliefs are actually knowledge and not merely beliefs.

Comment #43984

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 3:42 PM (e)

TS might agree this point, but if the predictions that had been established that could account for a World Flood, or even a local flood, and there was found evidence to support this; AND it passed scientific scrutiny…then atheist would have no choice but to agree with it.

There are no circumstances whatsoever where science can compel an atheist to agree that God exists. Science provides us with natural explanations of phenomena; if science fails to provide such an explanation, then we are left with an unexplained phenomenon, not a demonstration of the existence of God. To conclude that God exists would be argumentum ad ignorantiam. To put it another way, from the atheistic standpoint, the term “God” – or, more generally, “the supernatural” – is a standin for “absence of explanation”.

Comment #43985

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 3:56 PM (e)

I was talking about the evidence of a flood as is written by Genesis. If say the ark was found. Fossils that spiral out from Mt. Aarat that would be consistant with the flood theory. And any fossil evidence dated that would be consistant with the flood theory.

I wasn’t trying to imply that it would convince an aethiest to agree that it was the work of God or anything supernatural.

Cause even then it wouldn’t prove anything other than a guy built a huge boat, loaded up some animals and crashed into a mountain.

Wether God told him to do it would be irrelevant.

Comment #43987

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 4:04 PM (e)

BTW ts, thank you for posting that link for fallacies.

I have seen many that I need to work on.

I really do appreciate it.

Reading them right now.

Comment #43988

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 4:07 PM (e)

Wether God told him to do it would be irrelevant.

That hardly makes sense in the context of the discussion here. You specifically referred to “measurements of what they would accept as proof or evidence of “God””. If we’re just talking about a historical claim about a guy building a big boat, I can’t see why anyone would care in the slightest. In any case, I’ve pretty much run out of reasons to care about the discussions here. Bye.

Comment #43993

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 4:47 PM (e)

“TS might agree this point, but if the predictions that had been established that could account for a World Flood, or even a local flood, and there was found evidence to support this; AND it passed scientific scrutiny…then atheist would have no choice but to agree with it.”

what ridiculous speculation. There has been for decades sufficient evidence in the geologic record to indicate that this speculation could never be supported, period.

talk about wishful thinking.

Comment #43994

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 4:50 PM (e)

er, clarifying, i am referring to a global flood, not a local one.

Comment #43996

Posted by carol clouser on August 19, 2005 5:00 PM (e)

Katerina, Miah, and others:

A couple of points, if I may.

First, you are working from the wrong book. The original, authentic and real Bible is, by the recognition of all knowledgable theologians of all faiths, the ancient Hebrew Bible. Other books are poor and distorted translations, some with add-ons written by virulent bigots with agendas of their own. And I must tell you I do not at all recognize your depiction of God in the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew Bible was the only Bible for thousands of years. It is only recently, in the last few centuries, that it has been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) and then into English and other languages. Then came the add-ons, the so called “new” testament.

You (Miah) asked why scholars have not fixed the translations. Well, some of them have been working in that direction. (I have repeatedly called attention here to Judah Landa’s IN THE BEGINNING OF, and Robert Alter’s THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES also comes to mind.) But who should do this? The Jews have the Hebrew Bible, which they rightfully consider to be their Bible, and see no reason to fix other people’s self-created problems. The Christian’s prefer not to be reminded of the true Jewish origins of their Bible. So that is where things stand.

A few tip-of-the-iceberg examples pertaining to some points made here. The Hebrew Bible does not anywhere refer to God as “jealous”. It is, with some notable exceptions, addressed to the Israelites, not the entire world. The Israelites willingly, after the exodus, declare “we shall listen and obey” without ANY threats to prompt them. The story of creation in Genesis does NOT, repeat NOT, contradict ANY tenet of science, EVEN IF INTERPRETED LITERALLY, so long as it is translated accurately and correctly. You may refuse to educate yourselves about this and endlessly repeat the mistaken assertions, but that changes not the facts on the ground, so to speak, one whit.

A point about God’s universe. May I try an example. I occassionally play chess with some friends. As we sit there racking our brains, now and then moving some piece off the board, my cat sits perched on a railing and stares at the chess board. Now, that cat has NOT AN IOTA of an idea as to what is really going on on that table, despite the fact that he continues to look intently at it for long periods of time. A key aspect of faith in God is that we are the created, He is the creator. We are like the cat looking at God’s universe and we have no idea what we are looking at. If you don’t have the humility to accept this notion, then the idea of God is just not for you.

As the prophet declares (Isaiah 55:8,9), and I am translating correctly here, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways, said the Lord. For as the heavens tower above the land, so do my ways and my toughts tower above your ways and your thoughts.”

There really is so much more to discuss, but this medium is not conducive, in my view, to in-depth discussions. Perhaps its my hunt-and-peck one finger typing that’s the problem.

Comment #43999

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

You may refuse to educate yourselves about this and endlessly repeat the mistaken assertions, but that changes not the facts on the ground, so to speak, one whit.

I do not refuse to educate myself. I’m busy, but if I think something is worth looking into, I can make time. I have never heard such a claim as you are making, but I am interested.

Will you elaborate on why you think my suggestions don’t jibe with the Hebrew Bible?

Comment #44001

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 5:44 PM (e)

TS Please do not leave on my ignorance.

You are 100% correct what I should have said is that my argument for the context in which it was written was wrong as to what an atheist might construe as proof of God’s existance.

I am very new at this, so please bear with me, as it will undoubtedly show that I am very apt to make an ass out of myself.

Comment #44008

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 6:01 PM (e)

Miah,

You give TS too much credit. It seems obvious to me he has little to contribute to this kind of discussion, as he objects to having it in the first place. He is good at arguing, and has a powerful mind, but it doesn’t mean he is always right, always ready to see another side of things, or that he needs to participate in every discussion. Let him go! Intelligence isn’t necessarily the highest virtue in a discussion.

Comment #44009

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 6:03 PM (e)

no carol, the problem lies in that scientists don’t take science as a philosophical worldview, regardless of the accusations of the right. In fact science is nothing more than a formula for generating PRACTICAL approaches to answering observational questions about the world. It has never and was never intended to address questions of the nature you propose (i.e., whether what we see is just a limited human version of god’s creation). It has nothing to do with humility, it has everything to do with understanding what the function of science IS.

If a person chooses to attempt to formulate the scientific method as a complete worldview, that is equivalent to someone taking a specific economic theory and applying it as a worldview. I cannot judge whether such a usage is appropriate, but i can say definitively that it was not intended.

this goes straight to the issue of theology vs. the scientific method. the two simply attempt to address questions in quite different ways. The fundamental difference being that the scientific method is only concerned with things that produce PRACTICAL application, not spiritual ones. if we abandon the scientific method in favor of a theological approach, we abandon hundreds of years of resultant practical application. thus the danger of confusing the two methods in young minds.

a personal belief in a creator should not defer someone from correct utilization of the scientific method, no more than a belief in aliens would preclude someone from balancing their checkbook.

However, attempting to do extrapolate and impose a personal worldview onto the scientific method simply isn’t appropriate, and has resulted in the mess we are seeing today. I keep wondering when those who so strongly feel that science somehow destroys their worldview will figure this out. It’s not like it hasn’t been pointed out before.

Comment #44010

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 6:03 PM (e)

If you really want TS back, perhaps that last sentance in my last comment will be too irrisistable for him not to take a jab.

Comment #44011

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam;

Did you bother to read the next sentence of that original post?

But that isn’t the case. There is NO evidence to support either a local or world flood.

I am not sure what you were getting at, but I hope this clarifies my position on the matter.

Comment #44013

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 6:07 PM (e)

actually, reading your last comment again, i think we fundamentally agree; just chose to express it from different directions :)

Comment #44014

Posted by Katarina on August 19, 2005 6:09 PM (e)

However, attempting to do extrapolate and impose a personal worldview onto the scientific method simply isn’t appropriate, and has resulted in the mess we are seeing today.

Is that what it seems to everyone I was trying to do?

Comment #44015

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 6:12 PM (e)

I wasn’t referring to anyone here specifically, more making a general point that seems to be at the root of the problem that spawns the whole debate to begin with.

Comment #44016

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 6:15 PM (e)

Katarina;

I attempted to correct ts by telling him how he replied to what I said, was out of context. By which he corrected me, because I was indeed wrong. I mistaken what I myself said. Something that does NOT work when arguing or debating.

Something I must, myself, endeavor to correct if I am going to be an any use on any forum.

Comment #44017

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 19, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

Carol writes:

“The Hebrew Bible was the only Bible for thousands of years. It is only recently, in the last few centuries, that it has been translated into Greek (the Septuagint) and then into English and other languages. Then came the add-ons, the so called “new” testament.”

For the record, Carol, the Septuagint was produced in Alexandria over 2200 years ago for the benefit of Jews for whom Greek was far more familiar than Hebrew. Many quotations from Jewish scripture in the New Testament are pretty obviously citations from the Septuagint. By the time of Christ, Hebrew was a learned language for many Jews. Even the Talmud is written in Aramaic.

By the way, many parts of Tanach are not particularly ancient–Daniel, famously, was written in Hellenistic times and the Priestly passages in Genesis probably date from the exile, which accounts for their distinctly Bablonian flavor. The Bible is old, but not that old.

2500 years ago is a long time, but the Jews were nevertheless newcomers in the civilization business relative to the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and even the West Semites of Ugarit whose poetry was plagiarized by the Psalmists.

Comment #44018

Posted by Miah on August 19, 2005 6:29 PM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

The story of creation in Genesis does NOT, repeat NOT, contradict ANY tenet of science, EVEN IF INTERPRETED LITERALLY, so long as it is translated accurately and correctly.

I assume you are talking about the Hebrew Bible?

Well, good for them. If that is indeed the case, then there is no problem with them. Of course the Hebrew Bible isn’t the one in dominance here in the US. The Hebrew Bible isn’t being quoted and requested entrance in our school system. The Hebrew Bible isn’t the preffered BOOK in the fundamentalist arguments.

So until the Christian Church adopts the original translation of the Hebrew Bible as the BOOK and returns to its origins (never gonna happen) I think it is irrelevent what the Hebrew Bible does say.

Comment #44022

Posted by SEF on August 19, 2005 6:44 PM (e)

Carol’s wrong anyway, Miah. We’ve had this discussion before in which she tries to push her idol’s/employer’s book and spouts faulty science and faulty biblical scholarship at us. Anyone got the link handy?

Comment #44032

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 19, 2005 9:32 PM (e)

TS Please do not leave on my ignorance.

I didn’t. It’s just that debates about bible versions and scripture and whether there was a flood and whether to choose to believe in the efficacy of prayer despite the evidence against it don’t much appeal to me.

Intelligence isn’t necessarily the highest virtue in a discussion.

Yes, ignorance, folly, and superstition are much more likely to produce good outcomes. That’s why Americans elected George W. Bush.

Carol’s wrong anyway, Miah. We’ve had this discussion before in which she tries to push her idol’s/employer’s book and spouts faulty science and faulty biblical scholarship at us. Anyone got the link handy?

google of “carol clouser” + “jay-el” leads right to it: http://www.pandasthumb.org/pt-archives/001161.html

As Linda Richman might say, “Talk amongst yourselves. I’ve give you a topic: intelligent design. It’s not intelligent, and it’s not design. Discuss!”

Comment #44034

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 19, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

I’m all verklempt…

Comment #44067

Posted by Katarina on August 20, 2005 7:55 AM (e)

I’m glad ts, at least, has managed to have the last word.

Meanwhile if anyone actually cares to honestly evaluate my suggestions, as Miah at least did, I welcome further insight.

I am especially interested in scriptures related to whether or not God’s character demonstrates he would be open to a scientific level of scrutiny. Because if not, then ID has zero theological value. When this thread closes, please feel free to e-mail me.

Comment #44068

Posted by Katarina on August 20, 2005 8:03 AM (e)

katarinaaram@yahoo.com

Sorry, I should have written, as Miah and SEF did.

Comment #44102

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 20, 2005 12:53 PM (e)

I’m glad ts, at least, has managed to have the last word.

How could I have had the last word if you wrote after me? Really, Katarina, do try to at least be honest about the trivia. Now perhaps this is the last word, or not – I can’t control whether others post after me – but it’s really juvenile to pay these “managed to have the last word” games.

I am especially interested in scriptures related to whether or not God’s character demonstrates he would be open to a scientific level of scrutiny. Because if not, then ID has zero theological value.

If there’s one thing for sure, it is that scripture is open to interpretation. Also, if God’s character demonstrates that he would not be open to a scientific level of scrutiny, then Ken Miller and a lot of other theist evolutionists who feel that they are exploring the wonders of God’s nature would be going against God’s will; folks like Einstein and Hawking, who have spoken of knowing God’s mind, would be balsphemers. This really isn’t a very, um, intelligent approach, but I guess that’s no cause for your concern.

Comment #44108

Posted by Katarina on August 20, 2005 1:21 PM (e)

ts,

Is there a reason you are baiting me? I refuse to play.

Comment #44111

Posted by Wayne Francis on August 20, 2005 1:47 PM (e)

[url=http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/intelligent_des_1.html#c43202]Comment # 43202[/url]
[QUOTE=carol clouser]Comment #43202
Posted by carol clouser on August 15, 2005 08:43 PM (e) (s)
Perhaps someone here can help me find the flaw in the following logical progression…..
Another example that comes to mind is the problematic evolution of sexual reproduction. How did male and female genders evolve parallel to each other if partially developed sexual organs are of no use until both types are fully functional? (I recall reading about this from an evolutionary point of view, but don’t remember the details. If anyone here can help refresh my memory would be appreciated.) So this area is ripe for Godly intervention. According to some translations of the story of Adam and Eve in the original Hebrew version of the Bible, God provides the necessary intervention. Not by taking a “rib” (that is just another mistranslation of the Hebrew “tzela” which almost always means “side of” or “characteristic of”) but by creating XY and XX pairs of chromosomes for males and females, respectively, so that it appears as if a “side” of one of these chromosomes has been removed from the male. Of course, if this is the real intent of the Bible it MUST be the word of God since none of this was known thousands of years ago. (For further reading on this I recommend Judah Landa’s IN THE BEGINNING OF and, oh, before I forget, I did work as editor on this book). Are there enough gaps in our knowledge to make room for such intervention?
Finally, why not just propose that the universe and the laws of nature were originally designed intelligently so that no further interventions were necessary? Is an ominipotent creator incapble of doing so?[/quote]

It is a false statement to say that just because someone is XY they are male and if they are xx they are female. We have know a bit about intersexual for a long time, doctors often elected a gender for the baby and performed the needed surgery without ever informing the parents many years ago.

We know sexuality is made up of 3 parts.
1) Gonad development
2) Sexual orientation
3) Sexual identity

This is why you can have one person that is a homosexual (sexual orientation) but happy with their sex (Sexual Identity)
You can have someone happy with their heterosexual (sexual orientation) but unhappy with there sex and want to be of the opposite sex. (yes this would then make them homosexuals after their transition)
You can have someone homosexual and unhappy with his or her sex, under go a sex change then they are heterosexual
You can have someone happy with his or her sexual identity, heterosexual but technical gender ambiguous.
I could go on and on.

“XY females” is a general term for someone with XY chromosomes but at least outwardly appears female. Most common is that at about week 6 the Gonads develop into testes but they don’t actually have receptors for testosterone which prevents the penis from forming, the testes from dropping etc. This leaves most outwardly appearing female with a normal vagina. Most often they do not have a uterus, ovaries etc. This is not always the case though and we are still learning the genetic pathways for the formation of female organs from the gonads.

There are situations where XY females do have receptors for testosterone but the level of testosterone is not sufficient to fully develop the male genitals. These people are born again appearing female. In these cases it is possible that puberty can actually transition them. IE when they hit puberty the levels of testosterone released by their testes is enough wake their sexual organs development up and they form a penis and their testes can drop.

We can also find situations of XX males. This is extensively studied in mice where the SRY gene normally located on the Y chromosome has been transcribed onto an X chromosome and this intern induces a cascade of gene expression in the person to actually form testes, penis etc.

There are other factors that also control how our brain is actually formed. “Male” and “Female” brains are fundamentally different. The typical “Male” brain has about 6 times the amount of grey matter as the typical “Female” brain. The typical “Female” brain has about 10 times the amount of white matter as the typical “male” brain. What gene expression controls this is still being investigated. But just as improper gene expression during development can alter the development of sexual organs we can expect that it can alter the development and therefore the structure of the brain. Being informed we can no longer say that some people are just confused if there sexual identity is not synced up with their gonad development

Biology doesn’t try to pigeonhole something into discrete categories. It recognises the full range of possibilities that we see in the world and explains them or asks the questions that will ultimately lead to explanations.

So … is “God” intervening when an intersex child is born? Just throwing that into the pot to make things up? Funny that science can explain quite well what is going on and with every day we learn more and more on what is happening.

Comment #44114

Posted by Wayne Francis on August 20, 2005 1:54 PM (e)

bah teaches me to post at 4am … sorry for the missing words here and there that would have made that post read properly….a few missing punctuations too. Don’t even want to think how many spelling errors…I’m off to bed.

Comment #44149

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 20, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

Hi TS:

Some (at least) theologians certainly are concerned with the notion of a “god of the gaps”; athiests may well find it an interesting concept as you assert, but that does not make it a non-theological concept. It seems to be an entirely theological analysis to criticise a god-concept as “god of the gaps”; it is certainly not a scientific argument/criticism. At any rate, I’m glad we can (I think) agree that the God/Creator/Designer implied by the ID argument can be correctly described as a “god of the gaps”. If you are not comfortable identifying that analysis as theological and need to tack on an atheist disclaimer, don’t let me presume to stand in your way. I see it as a theological criticism of a fundamentally theological idea (i.e. ID).

I’m not seeing how making a theological statement about a theological concept (ID) is a case of special pleading at all. If I am right (of course I could be wrong) that ID is a fundamentally theological proposition (we seem to agree, I think, that it is not science), theological criticism should be fair game (again, assuming there is such a thing as legitimate theological criticism). People who misapply theological criticism to science misunderstand science as having anything to do with God. What ID is to science is certainly not a goose and gander relationship.

You needn’t counsel me on epistemology. There is a quite clear distinction between what if anything I “believe” as a matter of faith and what I understand and know from science. Two very different ways of understanding the world in which one lives can be comfortably resident in one mind/brain. But thanks anyway for the friendly suggestion.

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #44166

Posted by carol clouser on August 20, 2005 8:58 PM (e)

Jim,

You are roughly correct about the date for the FIRST VERSION of the Septuagint, but that version of the Bible does not exist anymore. The King James version is a translation of a much later version of the Septuagint and to some extent the available Hebrew version. According to the Talmud, which I can read in its original Aramaic, the Septuagint was commissioned by King Ptolemy for his own purposes, not anything as lofty as the benefit of Greek speaking Jews. As a matter of fact, the Talmud relates how the 70 Jewish scholars were in fear for their lives if their translations were not to perfectly match.

In any event, ALL versions of the Bible in existance today are multi-generational translations of the original Hebrew. That is not disputed by any notable historian or scholar. Which leads to the next point,

Miah,

that if the issue of concern is the conflicts between the word of God as represented by the Bible and science, then obviously we ought to be looking at the original Bible not multi-generational translations of it. And this is even more of an issue when the claim has been made repeatedly by scholars that the translations are particularly poor, careless and sloppy. If all you are interested in is Christianity bashing, well then my point is irrelevant.

Comment #44200

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 3:08 AM (e)

Some (at least) theologians certainly are concerned with the notion of a “god of the gaps”; athiests may well find it an interesting concept as you assert, but that does not make it a non-theological concept.

Of course it does. When I point out that something is a g-o-t-g argument, I am not making a theological argument – it doesn’t depend upon any theological assumption or mode of thinking. I don’t make theological arguments; as I have noted, one can reach any conclusion via theological arguments, but that an argument is a g-o-t-g argument is not an arbitrary conclusion.

It seems to be an entirely theological analysis to criticise a god-concept as “god of the gaps”; it is certainly not a scientific argument/criticism.

I don’t think you understand what a theological analysis is. This is a straightforward conceptual analysis, the same sort of analysis as pointing out that, if you stick your finger in a vise and you close the vise until the jaws close, your finger will get smashed. God of gaps, finger in the gap, same thing in different contexts. g-o-t-g is no more a theological argument than f-i-t-v is a digital argument.

I see it as a theological criticism of a fundamentally theological idea (i.e. ID).

Theological criticisms aren’t logically valid; they depend upon theological assumptions. The g-o-t-g criticism is logically valid, and does not depend upon theological assumptions.

I’m not seeing how making a theological statement about a theological concept (ID) is a case of special pleading at all.

Where have I ever made such a claim? I never said that or anything like it. What I stated was
“if you can use the argument against ID, then they can use the same argument against evolution. To claim otherwise is special pleading” and “To deny your arguments to the enemies of science is special pleading.”

People who misapply theological criticism to science misunderstand science as having anything to do with God.

You appear to me to be conceptually confused. People who believe that evolution is blasphemous or stem cell research is hubristic most certainly do believe that it has something to do with God, and declaring otherwise is begging the question. You cannot introduce blasphemy and hubris as valid criticisms of what you disapprove of and then deny such criticisms to others in regard to what they disapprove of. At least, you can’t do so honestly, or successfully. But I’ve said this repeatedly, to no apparent effect, so there’s no point in continuing to debate it.

You needn’t counsel me on epistemology.

I wasn’t counseling you; if you go back and read that paragraph carefully, you’ll see that I was addressing someone else (who could use that and a lot more counseling, but isn’t likely to take it); sorry for not making that clearer.

Comment #44214

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 8:46 AM (e)

Theological criticisms aren’t logically valid; they depend upon theological assumptions. The g-o-t-g criticism is logically valid, and does not depend upon theological assumptions.

Very well put. That is why I was trying to explore the theological assumptions. I see why it is not going to be up to scientists to make that case, nor biology teachers. However, we can at least point to the theological possibilities, without committing to them.

Comment #44216

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 8:52 AM (e)

I was addressing someone else (who could use that and a lot more counseling, but isn’t likely to take it);

Ha ha ha

Comment #44245

Posted by carol clouser on August 21, 2005 5:31 PM (e)

Katarina,

A thought or two about science not detecting God “in the gaps”, if I may.

A few years ago there was a very talented performer named Uri Geller. He would perform such amazing feats as make a spoon bend, seemingly by just staring at it, and claim that he was endowed with supernatural powers. He developed quite a following. A physics professor of mine (with a great reputation in the field), with whom I used to have long chats about all kinds of things, was beside himself one day. He told me that he saw Uri Geller on the Johnny Carson show. Carson pulled a spoon out of his own pocket and never let go of it. Geller looked at it for a while until it started bending in carson’s hands as much as 45 degrees. My professor shouted, “There is no natural phenomena that could explain that!! How could he do that? Its driving me nuts!”

A few years later another great performer called Randi (I don’t recall his full name), to his great credit, made a career of performing many of Geller’s feats, then emphatically telling everyone that there are no supernatural things involved. “They all are just neat tricks”, he said, but he refused to divulge the tricks because it “would ruin his and other magicians’ livelihood.” Randi also claimed that scientists are the easiest of all audiences to fool. They look for simple and natural explanations and when they cannot find them they are totally lost and in awe. They never figure it out.

So, if there is a God/creator and he wants to hide, and I can think of quite a few good reasons for his wanting to do so, you think science and scientists will catch him in the act? If Geller can stump ‘em, pray tell, what could God do? How about, for starters, shifting the gaps around, drawing circles around our best efforts? Or think of it this way. If there is a God/creator ,then science is TOTALLY INCOMPETENT to detect the most salient feature of the universe! And there is no hope whatsoever that it will EVER be able to do so!

Now, the ID people claim to have finally caught God in the act by detecting “intelligent design”. But the gaps they are looking at are lost in the mists of history and most scientists remain unconvinced. After all, if a gap is truly a gap, then we don’t know what is going on and anything can be true. So it all comes back to one’s starting assumptions or axioms, as I have said in these posts many times before.

Comment #44251

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 21, 2005 6:06 PM (e)

For some reason Carol thinks that the extant Septuagint (Greek translation of Jewish scriptures, often abbreviated LXX) isn’t authentic even though a quick look at the notes to my edition mentions some pretty old manuscripts and the book was quoted frequently by many ancient authors and used by Chuch fathers such as Jerome and Origen. But maybe Carol is referring to another problem: the currently accepted Hebrew text of Tanach was only established after the LXX translation, which obviously was based on a somewhat different Hebrew text. Granted the normal variations one finds in manuscripts, it would be amazing if there were only one ne veritur version extant before the Masoretic text.

The story about how the 70 translators all came up with the same translations is pretty obviously folklore. I guess there are traditionalists who accept this sort of tale as historically accurate. I can’t recall having encountered one, though.

Comment #44252

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 6:24 PM (e)

As usual, Carol doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Notably, James Randi, among many others, including numerous scientists (some of whom are themselves magicians), did “figure it out”, and far from “refus[ing] to divulge the tricks”, Randi wrote a couple of books about it, for instance http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0879751991, in which, as one of the Amazon reviews notes, “Randi also gives in his book a detailed analysis of all of Geller’s psychic feats, and shows in detail how there isn’t *one* reliable case of Geller doing something that cannot be duplicated by any moderately-talented stage magician”.

He told me that he saw Uri Geller on the Johnny Carson show. Carson pulled a spoon out of his own pocket and never let go of it. Geller looked at it for a while until it started bending in carson’s hands as much as 45 degrees. My professor shouted, “There is no natural phenomena that could explain that!! How could he do that? Its driving me nuts!”

I’ve seen Geller on TV, and your professor friend is not accurately recounting his experience – or you are not accurately recounting yours. Such stories are generally told by people who already believe that Geller has or may have “supernatural” powers, and they embellish or fabricate scenarios that would be convincing if they were true – this behavior is well documented, and I have been on the receiving end of it myself, although never with physicists. (I even experienced it with someone who went with me to the Magic Castle in Hollywood and not only embellished what we had witnessed together to the point of physical impossibility, but refused to accept my informed explanation of how the tricks were done or the magician’s disclaimer that there was nothing “paranormal” involved). But in fact Geller always puts his hands on the spoon, and the bending never occurs in plain sight; rather, there’s a surreptitious switch between a straight and bent spoon, the latter being put into the hands of someone like Carson, who then opens his hand to reveal the “magically” bent spoon. Another case is Geller’s key bending, which I have watched him do on TV. He surreptitiously switches a straight key for a bent key (bent like a hockey stick, not curved). He then slowly extrudes the key from his hand while moving it in a rotating fashion and asserting that it is bending; I actually put my finger on the TV screen, tracking the key, and noted that the visible portion of the key was straight at all times. The only “bending” occurred when the “knee” of the bent key became visible. It’s all a matter of the power of suggestion, and how well it works depends on how ready one is to be fooled. There are of course gullible physicists, such Targ and Putoff, two very gullible fellows who already were promoters of “the paranormal” and “tested” Geller’s powers. Such people, however, make up a small percentage of physicists.

As for the connection between Geller and God, well, there really isn’t one. Geller was an unethical second-rate stage magician who figured out that he could make a lot more money trading on people’s gullibility. Nothing about Geller has any bearing on the raw logical possibility of supernatural tinkering with the universe. But even that raw logical possibility is dubious; analytical philosophers long ago rejected Cartesian dualism as logically possible due to the interaction problem, and the reasoning extends to the supernatural in general. Causation is a matter of temporal relationships among physical events; B happened because A preceded it. There is, thus, no logically coherent model of “supernatural” causation. The most we can say is that we don’t know why or how something happened. For some people such uncertainty is the endpoint and they make a “faith” declaration; for others it does, indeed, drive them nuts, and they make careers out of seeking explanations.

Comment #44253

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 6:47 PM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

if there is a God/creator and he wants to hide

I wouldn’t quite put it that way. My axiom is that He is simply choosy about showing himself, at what times, to whom, and in what circumstances. The purpose of this behavior would be to give US a choice of whether or not to believe, since no one has irrefutible proof. If we did have irrefutible proof, there would be little choice left but to believe, and then everyone would be a believer, and faith would be cheap. I think you understood that, but I like repeating myself, just to make sure, since some seem to deliberately misunderstand. Sorry if it’s getting on people’s nerves.

If there is a God/creator ,then science is TOTALLY INCOMPETENT to detect the most salient feature of the universe! And there is no hope whatsoever that it will EVER be able to do so!

I agree with you. The whole criticism of the god of the gap argument relies on the assumption that the gaps will shrink. But there are two types of gaps, the ones that will shrink, and the ones that won’t. As I argued earlier, the ones that won’t are wild chance events as well as soft proofs when He chooses to reveal himself to people, which later cannot be re-produced at our will. We simply cannot go back in time to test what really happened, and even if we could, how do you test His presence? If something is not testable, how do we know it exists? We don’t KNOW, but we can choose to believe. Listen for Him with our hearts, or deny him. That is what ts thinks is so foolish. But that is his choice.

Comment #44255

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 7:02 PM (e)

The g-o-t-g criticism is logically valid, and does not depend upon theological assumptions.

Actually, I’m beginning think it does depend on theological assumptions. The assumption for an unshrinking gap is the argument that I just made, that he can act in the gaps but without the wish to be detected. That would be easy enough with chance events, since chance events are what guide almost everything, though there are domino cause-effect relationships that result from them. So that leaves the god of the gaps criticism logically dependent upon theological assumtions, namely, how a God of the Bible would act.

Comment #44256

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 7:06 PM (e)

Sorry, repeating myself again. I just feel like people are not hearing my actual argument, but mistaking it for the typical god of the gaps. That is frustrating.

Comment #44262

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 21, 2005 7:57 PM (e)

Cops sometimes plant false evidence, not in order to convict the innocent but because they are afraid that there isn’t enough to get a conviction on somebody they know (or think they know) is the culprit. I think something like framing the guilty accounts for the well-known tendency of believers to engage in various deceptive practices like embellishing or simply inventing sacred narratives. If you are absolutely, positively sure you’re right, you find it easy to justify many actions that you wouldn’t dream of doing for a lesser purpose.

Comment #44263

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 8:03 PM (e)

The g-o-t-g criticism is that claims of God’s actions are retracted as science advances and contradicts those claims; no theological assumptions are needed. Any claim about God’s action in the world being detectable is unfalsiable, because each specific claimed detection is retracted as it comes under scrutiny. Saying “he can act in the gaps but without the wish to be detected” is simply confirmation of the g-o-t-g criticism. Talk about choosing to reveal himself to people etc. is quite clearly desparate talk to salvage an unsustainable position, just as people claim that Uri Geller’s powers are disrupted by the presence of skeptics. The position is deeply intellectually dishonest, a completely arbitrary application of principles and arguments in just those ways that support the desired conclusion and never in any way that challenges it. Such behavior plays no positive role within the social framework of humans as discursive reason givers that has led to our rich body of knowledge about the world around us.

Comment #44266

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2005 8:38 PM (e)

that’s an interesting analogy, Jim. Makes quite a lot of sense. I wonder if somebody has actually studied and published on the pyschology of this behavior yet?

Comment #44269

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

the well-known tendency of believers to engage in various deceptive practices like embellishing or simply inventing sacred narratives. If you are absolutely, positively sure you’re right, you find it easy to justify many actions that you wouldn’t dream of doing for a lesser purpose.

So religious people are inevitably dishonest? And non-religous people, by comparison, are more honest, in general? Really? I could make generalisations about atheists too, but I won’t do that.

TS, once again, no matter how I repeat it, it will just continue to sound like wind to you. You are making me doubt my abilities to put my thoughts into words. I wish I could just talk to you face to face and make you understand, and maybe then you would even bother with good manners.

For tonight at least, I give up.

Comment #44272

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 9:13 PM (e)

You are making me doubt my abilities to put my thoughts into words. I wish I could just talk to you face to face and make you understand,

I do understand. There is often a different explanation for disagreement than failure to understand.

and maybe then you would even bother with good manners.

Accusations like this, and many of your other comments, are quite ill-mannered.

Comment #44273

Posted by Katarina on August 21, 2005 9:27 PM (e)

Accusations like this, and many of your other comments, are quite ill-mannered.

Look in a mirror, dear. I must be masochistic to continue to engage you in conversation. And if you find me so dumb, dishonest, and ill-mannered, then why engage me? Either there is a thread of what I am saying that makes sense to you, or you are just enjoying the sport of… of I don’t know what. Yes I do need counseling after meeting you.

You did not even address my “wild chance” gap, only the “subjective experience” gap, the one that was easiest to ridicule and call pathetic, though you could not demolish it simply on that basis. Now you can see that you are getting to me, and I am sure it is very enjoyable. I am really turning off the computer this time, and not coming back until tomorrow.

Comment #44275

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 21, 2005 9:39 PM (e)

I guess you could conclude that I was being hostile to religious folks by writing about the well-known tendency of believers to engage in various deceptive practices,” but I was also providing them with an excuse. After all, anybody who is familiar with how sacred narratives evolve is well aware that each successive version “improves” on the last so that you can’t get the faithful off the hook by claiming that they were scrupulous about factual accuracy. They simply weren’t. Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sihks, Taoists, Buddhists, Shinotists, etc.–everybody fudges the data. (You are obviously free to think that your guys are the sole exception to the rule.)

Please notice that I’m not saying that religious people are simply dishonest. For example, when the author of the Gospel according to Matthew created varioius stories about Jesus (they called his name Emmanuel, etc.) so that it would appar that prophesy was being fulfilled, I expect he thought prophesy had been fulfilled since 1) He was sure Jesus was the Christ and 2) if Jesus were the Christ, then he came in fulfilment of prophesy and (therefore) 3) the mere fact that nobody remembered the particulars that fulfilled prophesy is not important. They must have happened.

The only research on the moral tendencies of believers and atheists that I’ve seen is an old study that claimed that atheists tend to lie less often in matter of fact situations such as commercial transactions. I’ve lost the reference, however; and, anyhow, I’m skeptical about the validity of social psychology experiments. Maybe somebody has seen something more recent about the topic. It would be interesting to know, for example, if people with a pronounced lack of self control are more likely to be attracted by sects that emphasize salvation by faith alone.

Comment #44276

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2005 9:42 PM (e)

sounds like someone is playing the victim…

Comment #44277

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2005 9:43 PM (e)

er, i was referring to someone other than yourself, jim, just to be clear.

Comment #44279

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2005 9:46 PM (e)

“ It would be interesting to know, for example, if people with a pronounced lack of self control are more likely to be attracted by sects that emphasize salvation by faith alone”

indeed it would.

are you aware of the studies posted here some time ago suggesting a genetic component to extreme religious behavior?

Comment #44285

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 10:27 PM (e)

Accusations like this, and many of your other comments, are quite ill-mannered.

Look in a mirror, dear.

I didn’t deny that I can be ill-mannered; it was your patent hypocrisy that I was pointing out.

And if you find me so dumb, dishonest, and ill-mannered, then why engage me?

It’s a public forum, and I address the claims you make.

You did not even address my “wild chance” gap, only the “subjective experience” gap, the one that was easiest to ridicule and call pathetic, though you could not demolish it simply on that basis.

That I address one thing but not the other doesn’t make the thing I address any less ridiculous or pathetic. But actually I addressed what a g-o-t-g argument is and the nature of the criticism, not one or the other specific form of intellectually dishonest argument.

sounds like someone is playing the victim…

She’s been working that one for quite a while now.

Comment #44287

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 21, 2005 10:43 PM (e)

are you aware of the studies posted here some time ago suggesting a genetic component to extreme religious behavior?

Shades of The Bell Curve. In the presence of massive cultural influence, such causal relationships are very difficult to establish, and such claims should be greeted with considerable skepticism, especially in light of many counterexamples, both individual and in populations. And it’s hard to define “extreme religious behavior” in a way that doesn’t include a number of characteristics that are independent of religion. You might want to look at Carl Zimmer’s take on the subject:
http://www.corante.com/loom/archives/026675.html

Comment #44289

Posted by Sir_Toejam on August 21, 2005 11:07 PM (e)

of course, but don’t you think you are extrapolating from my statement just a bit?

I didn’t see the need to go into a complete discussion of the methods and conclusions of the paper, i was merely inquiring as to whether the intended recipient of my question (Jim) had in fact, seen the article.

btw, you might actually want to check out the article yourself before you group it with standard sociobiological non-sense from so long ago. We actually had a rather lengthy discussion about the ramifications of it, methods used, conclusions reached, etc. IIRC, the discussion was sometime in May or early june, and the link to the article was posted a few weeks before that. You might want to check into researching current methods in cognitive psychology before commenting on the methods the paper uses, tho.

If you truly have an interest, I’ll dig up the link to the article (well, at least an abstract). You will have to go and check the archives for the discussion tho.

cheers

Comment #44294

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 22, 2005 12:40 AM (e)

I didn’t notice the article. I can easily imagine that certain genes conduce to extreme reliosity if only because they promote extreme, agressive behavior in general. A gene that leads to increased production of testosterone, for example, might function as a sort of general purpose exclamation mark gene.

Otherwise, I think it is an error to regard ordinary religiosity as any kind of departure from the norm. It is the norm. I suspect that there are certain wired-in cognitive illusions central to religious belief, including, crucially, the tendency to project an agent behind events. The cognitive anthropologist Scott Atran argues that the human propensity to postulate gods and spirits is a side effect of an adaptation to living in a world full of animals that can eat you. (c.f. his book, In Gods We Trust). Incidentally, Atran is skeptical about tracing to this in-built paranoia to particular genes. He treats it as an emergent property that depends on many genes. That sounds reasonable to me since being on the look out for signs of purpose in the world is so adaptive that you’d expect it to be a robust tendency not easily disrupted by a single mutation or developmental accident.

Comment #44295

Posted by carol clouser on August 22, 2005 1:04 AM (e)

Jim (re #44251),

I am not “assuming for some reason” the our present day Septuagint “isn’t authentic”. I do know, and you are invited to check into this, that the Septuagint has been repeatedly revised since the first version was forced upon the 70 Jewish scholars by Ptolemy. Additionally, the present day version of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which is what we are primarly concerned about here (Genesis in particular) and constitutes the core of the Hebrew Bible, traces back to Ezra who promulagated it about 400 years before Ptolemy and the Septuagint, contrary to your statement. These are universally accepted facts. And the Israelites have been guarding the accuracy of Ezra’s version with their lives ever since. Ezra, in turn, based his work on scrolls that dated back hundreds of years before him.

As to the story of the 70 Jewish scholars, it does not come to us from some gossiping grandmother’s tales bearers. I quoted the Talmud. Have you read the Talmud? CAN you read the Talmud? Do you know about whom you speaketh? The Talmudists were exceedingly careful, even painfully so, in recording their oral traditions accurately. If there was the slightest doubt about a detail they would jump on each other and debate the merits of all sides, much like scientists critique each others proposals. Ptolemy wanted to make sure he got an accurate, absolutely correct, translation (unlike many people today, particularly here, who don’t seem to care but wish to enjoy criticizing). His plan was to look for discrepencies, then challenge the scholars about those and get to the bottom of it.

TS,

I am not going to descend into your sewer to trade insults with you. Not because I cannot, but because I choose not to. It is certainly plausible that some scientist/magicians “figured it out”. Nowhere did I indicate anything to contradict that. But I myself heard Randi say that scientists are the easiest folks to fool. I did not see Geller perform, even on TV, but my physics professor was certainly no slouch when it came to observing and reporting precisely. (By the time he died he had over 150 papers published, most of them on magnetohydrodynamics). He saw no hands go over the spoon and Carson did not feel a spoon slide into and out of his hand. And Carson stated that he was not “in” on the trick, and I think we can trust him too. Obviously both he and the professor didn’t catch what was really happening. But the professor never remotely entertained supernatural explanations, he was too much of a scientist to do so, nor did I indicate that he did, despite your insinuation. Read carefully what I write - I mean exactly what I say and say exactly what I mean. If Randi eventually “spilled all the beans” in detail, I do not know and have no problem taking your word for it. It is not at all relevant. He certainly was “not talking” when I heard him, and for some time thereafter.

Comment #44300

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 22, 2005 2:15 AM (e)

Carol, I have no reason to fence with you. You are writing from the standpoint of faith Hence, for example, your reliance on the Talmuds, which date from hundred of years after Ptolemy II’s time and are hardly credible documentation. If you’re a believer, it’s all very well to claim, “The Talmudists were exceedingly careful, even painfully so, in recording their oral traditions accurately;” but there is no evidence credible to a nonbeliever that they were. Indeed, as I read ‘em, they appear to be full of all sorts of folkloric material. And not just me–Ginzberg, Neusner, etc.

My understanding of the legendary quality of the LXX story derives from various Jewish scholars, including the historian Eric Gruen who discusses the so-called Letter of Aristeas, the oldest version of the translation story, in the recent book Culture of the Jews: “The tale, of course, should not be confused with history.”

Once again, I have no quarrel with your faith. I just isn’t mine. You’re welcome to make the leap. You just can’t expect the rest of us to jump along with you.

Comment #44301

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 3:25 AM (e)

Carol Clouser wrote:

Nowhere did I indicate anything to contradict that.

You claimed that Randi “refused to divulge the tricks”; you were wrong, your strawmen notwithstanding.

my physics professor was certainly no slouch when it came to observing and reporting precisely

He obviously was if he claims to have seen a spoon bend in Carson’s hand with no intervention by Geller; no such thing ever happened. Go read Randi’s books if you doubt it (notably, you introduced him as an authority). Or check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_Geller

Stage magicians note several methods of creating an illusion of a spoon spontaneously bending. Most common is the practice of misdirection, an underlying principle of many stage magic tricks. In one or several brief moments of distraction, a “psychic”/magician can physically bend a spoon unseen by the audience, then gradually reveal the bend and thus create the illusion that the spoon is bending before the viewers’ eyes. The spoons usually bend at the point where the bowl met the handle, where bending would require the least force. Skeptics note Geller often turns his back on the audience, and further point to unusual conditions Geller at times sets for his performances, such as that the objects to be bent need to be moved in front of other metal objects for the psychic effect to work, or to be held underwater. They note these conditions would allow opportunities to divert the audience’s attention away from the item to be bent. Regarding sturdier objects like keys, they note Geller sometimes claims these items need to be in physical contact with other metal objects, which could allow surreptitious use of leverage between the two objects to achieve the bending.

It has also been suggested that he or a confederate prepares the spoons before television appearances by pre-bending them and thus reducing the amount of force later needed to be applied, and Geller at times has refused to bend spoons to which he has not been given prior access.

There is noticeably no mention of the sort of scenario you describe, which never happens.

Comment #44302

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 3:28 AM (e)

don’t you think you are extrapolating from my statement just a bit?

No, I’m extrapolating from a much wider framework.

Comment #44304

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 3:49 AM (e)

I should have read the Wikipedia article further:

Geller was unable to bend any cutlery during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson where the spoons he was to bend had been preselected by Carson. Earlier in his career, Carson had been an amateur stage magician, as had James Randi who advised Carson on how to thwart potential trickery. Many in the U.S. who had earlier accepted Uri’s claims of supernatural talents changed their opinions of him as a result of this event. Geller has at times cancelled performances or failed to produce the expected results, sometimes blaming his apparent lack of psychical power on some interference, exhaustion, or lack of cooperation by the subjects.

You can view a clip of Geller’s appearance on this program, and a presentation by James Randi here: http://www.darat.org/~dimossi/James.Randi.debunking.on.Tonight.Show.wmv

Another Annie Hall moment; so much for that steaming pile of b******t. Unfortunately, the video link appears to be bad.

Comment #44305

Posted by SEF on August 22, 2005 4:51 AM (e)

My axiom is that He is simply choosy about showing himself, at what times, to whom, and in what circumstances.

Note that, unlike ID’s deliberate vacuousness, you are making a specific claim about your god concept. That has consequences. For a start is notable that your god wasn’t supposed to be in the least shy about appearing to many people or participating in miracles back when: (a) there wasn’t any decent method of outing conmen; (b) people didn’t know much about mental disorders and drugs/poisons; © those appearances were only legendary anyway even to the people who wrote about them. They are not first-hand accounts but fables. If we pretend the stories are true though, it seems your god’s choices and motivations do not match the other claims you make about free will (either not important to him then or still existed anyway as when people disobeyed and irrelevant to him when overriding it, eg Pharoah).

The purpose of this behavior would be to give US a choice of whether or not to believe, since no one has irrefutible proof.

See above for untruth of that. Also the people who hear voices in their heads (commonly known as being a mental disorder by the rest of us) do believe they have irrefutible proof. They and others: (a) don’t understand what proof is; and (b) don’t care. Didn’t your god make them this way. They lack the intelligence and knowledge to feel that they do have any choice whether or not to believe.

If we did have irrefutible proof, there would be little choice left but to believe, and then everyone would be a believer, and faith would be cheap.

Faith already is cheap from many points of view (the ones who grant it all over the place and the ones who rate it as rubbish in comparison with better forms of knowledge, probabilities and truth evaluation). Also that’s hardly the only aspect in which people would or wouldn’t have faith. Suppose a god turns up. Lots of people still would doubt or disbelieve it was: (a) a real god; (b) their god. Believing the great big potential conman would still take faith. Also there’s the faith that this apparent god has the properties you’ve made up about it (similar to b above) - that it’s good and not evil, loving and not hateful or indifferent. Faith would still be necessary for both intent and promises of afterlife.

The whole criticism of the god of the gap argument relies on the assumption that the gaps will shrink.

No, it’s mostly based on the observation from much past evidence that the gaps do shrink and the religious folk go on wriggling wildly and desperately like something slippery caught in a puddle which is drying up all around in the light of reason.

But there are two types of gaps, the ones that will shrink, and the ones that won’t. As I argued earlier, the ones that won’t are wild chance events as well as soft proofs when He chooses to reveal himself to people, which later cannot be re-produced at our will.

The grasping at the straw of quantum effects is something which the religious only started once science had discovered quantum effects. The religious never knew about it before then despite their allegedly superior god-connection (which makes their position dishonest but I doubt they’d acknowledge that). They also tend to be clueless about the details. Quantum effects still fit a probability envelope. A significant deviation from that would show. An insignificant one is, by definition, insignificant as would your god’s ability then be. Also there’s still the little matter of how that interaction occurs (ie god being within or outside the universe is another claim which has consequences).

We simply cannot go back in time to test what really happened, and even if we could, how do you test His presence? If something is not testable, how do we know it exists? We don’t KNOW, but we can choose to believe.

Which is the other aspect of the god of the gaps argument. You are claiming to know better (your view of belief/faith) specifically because you are ignorant. You rely heavily on your ignorance to make your claimed “knowledge” look real. That’s a fundamentally flawed and dishonest position. It fails every time someone else comes up with the real knowledge/evidence you had thought you could declare away. Over and over again people who “think” like that have other people come up and point and laugh at them for being such an ignorant fool. Aquinas was aware of this. Not that his advocated strategy was really more honest - just a better way of not getting found out and laughed at quite so easily.

Actually, I’m beginning think it does depend on theological assumptions. The assumption for an unshrinking gap is the argument that I just made, that he can act in the gaps but without the wish to be detected. That would be easy enough with chance events, since chance events are what guide almost everything, though there are domino cause-effect relationships that result from them. So that leaves the god of the gaps criticism logically dependent upon theological assumtions, namely, how a God of the Bible would act.

Only from the side of the already religious, ie now that you’ve declared what your particular gaps are and how they have to fit your god (who may differ from someone else’s god). From the side of the non-religious, the general case of god-of-the-gaps argument is not really a theological one. It can apply to non-god situations, call it a biasedly-fill-in-the-gaps argument then or continue-to-make-up-everything-where-you-haven’t-already-been-caught-out-lying.

Comment #44313

Posted by Miah on August 22, 2005 8:59 AM (e)

WOW, looks like things really picked up over the weekend.

Ok, here are my initial thoughts…more to come.

carol clouser wrote:

Miah,

that if the issue of concern is the conflicts between the word of God as represented by the Bible and science, then obviously we ought to be looking at the original Bible not multi-generational translations of it. And this is even more of an issue when the claim has been made repeatedly by scholars that the translations are particularly poor, careless and sloppy. If all you are interested in is Christianity bashing, well then my point is irrelevant.

I said before carol, that the original Bible isn’t the one being used for all the arguments that we here today are refuting. So it isn’t a question of bashing anything.

In the context that Henry [the author that started this string] referenced Jesus (and the resurrection as described in the New Testament), God, Christianity and theological hypothesis, which then caused me to understand that he was talking about the God of the majority of Christians in the US and abroad as per the Judeo-Christian Bible…and many of which do not believe in anything BUT the KJV. (At least in the Southern Bible belt area).

The question (that I understood) from Henry is could it theologically be argued that God can create the world and all laws in it and thereby remain hidden as to not be detected.

I reasoned that if we are using the God as described by the Bible (the one that Henry is referencing) then the answer is an emphatic NO.

However, if Henry decided to leave out any reference to God, and tried say Allah or Zeus; then for Allah I would have to turn to the Koran for a glimpse of His character, and if for Zeus, I would have to learn about Greek(?) mythology and form a conclusion from there.

Comment #44314

Posted by Katarina on August 22, 2005 9:19 AM (e)

OK. I am sorry for appearing to “play the victim.” My emotional outburst was inappropriate.

I was not sure when I first made my theological suggestions in this thread, whether or not a God of the Bible would act that way. I’m still not. I asked people whether they thought so, and left the issue open. SEF, you’ve just made the point that you don’t think he would act that way. Thank you; every honest criticism is helpful.

However: Increasingly I am finding it difficult to sort through the insults to find the gold nuggets, and I don’t know if it’s really worth it. My task is beginning to look like converting atheists to agnostics, and that is not what I had in mind at all. Nothing so far though, has convinced me that my idea is worthless, unless you are a “strong atheist.”

Please just consider the reasons I am here: I am training (part time for the moment, though I am really itching to get back to school full time) to be a biology teacher, it is what I wanted since high school. My future carreer (though not glamorous) is what makes me so concerned about this issue. It will be important for me to be sensitive to people’s beliefs, wherever they may stem from. It will be part of my job, and my duty to my students to respect them. I live, and will probably teach in, a community that is not receptive to evolution, and I cannot afford to be on the extreme of philosophical naturalism, or no one will listen to me in the first place. I do not plan to make anything up, but merely to leave room for religious views. I cannot afford to simply be dismissive of such views, and nor would I want to be.

With that, I think I have enough criticism to think about for now, and I wish you all the best.

Comment #44315

Posted by Miah on August 22, 2005 9:33 AM (e)

carol clouser wrote:

(By the time he died he had over 150 papers published, most of them on magnetohydrodynamics).

MHD???!!!!!

Carol, religious differences aside…I am totally into MHD and have designed my own version. I tried to build a crude model, and failed misserably.

(I’m speaking of the plasma generation version.)

It is really hard to find anyone that will talk about it, or even understand it just enough so that I can test my theories against someone more versed with it.

Are you too knowledgeble about MHD?

Anybody you can referr me to will be greatly appreciated.

I apologize to all for this post as it has NO bearing or reference to this thread (Yeah…I know, ts, what else is new..right…haha).

Comment #44316

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 22, 2005 10:03 AM (e)

TS:

Thanks for your patience and for continuing to share your comments. I think I now understand your position about the use of theological criticism. I have claimed that theological criticism of ID is valid since ID is a fundamentally theological proposition. Your position seems to be that there is no such thing as a valid theological criticism regardless of the nature of its object. If that is your position, I can see how you would conclude that theological criticism of ID validates theological criticism of science. Basically, you are saying, I think, that since theological criticism is inherently irrational (as you claim), there is no way to reasonably agree on the limits of its purview; any use therefore validates all possible uses. Would you kindly let me know if you think I’ve got the gist of your objection to theological criticism of ID?

Thanks,

Shaggy

Comment #44317

Posted by Miah on August 22, 2005 10:45 AM (e)

Well Shaggy,

If that is indeed his position, then I understand more of his postings and where he comes from.

To argue the validity of criticising theologically ID, then you in turn validate theologicy and its aguments against science?

So me reasoning weather or not the Bible could allow a God, who’s intent was not to be seen or detected, to create the universe and all in it; (authough I have indicated the non-possibilities) would in fact authenticate (to religion) that there is a valid argument in the first place.

To which in your opinion, ts, there isn’t?

If this is so, then I completely understand your reasonings for not wanting to divulge in such topics.

But isn’t it the argument of the original poster in the thread (Henry) to request a hypothetical discussion of such?

Which in your opinion (maybe) is a fruitless endeavour? Because if we validate the need for such arguments, then they can in turn validate their theological arguments against science?

Comment #44329

Posted by carol clouser on August 22, 2005 2:20 PM (e)

Jim,

I was not arguing theology or my beliefs, but history and scholarship. And let us not personalize this, since you know very little about me or my beliefs and neither do I know of yours. The point I was making was that it is universally accepted among scholars and historians and theologians of ALL faiths that the original Bible is the Hebrew Bible. Taking everything I said and you said in these posting, that still remains the case. I think your point was to “muddy the waters” here a bit by claiming that after the Septuagint was constructed some of its features made their way back into Hebrew manuscripts. That may have happened to a limited and uncertain extent, but doesn’t change the prospects of the present Hebrew version as most reliably the closest version to the original Hebrew Bible. And there clearly was a period of about one thousand years when there was only one Bible around and it was not in Greek nor in English but in Hebrew.

By the way, this is why the Christian creationists, in their books, websites, etc., are always preocupied with the meaning of various Hebrew words. It means a lot to them to get the Hebrew Bible in line with their theology. Why do they care? Because they know the difference between the REAL Bible and a poor translation. If anything is to be a candidate for the word of God it is not the poor translation!

Miah,

First, kindly read the above, for the second paragraph is applicable also to you. Christians in the know know that it is the Hebrew Bible that matters. We don’t decide ideas and principles via a vote. Majority may rule, but is not usually correct. Jews learned long ago that the WHOLE WORLD may be wrong and they right when the blood libels were so widely believed for centuries, yet they intimately KNEW that they could not have a shred of truth to it. But the world just would not listen. By beating (literally) up on the Jews with their blood libels the dumb and evil christian mobs hardly realized that they were proving to the Jews that they could be on to the truth and yet the whole world sits in darkness.

Second, while I took some courses in MHD, my main interest eventually shifted to astrophysics. I am close to Princeton U. which has a rather large Plazma physics group. Why don’t you contact them and see what happens?

Comment #44333

Posted by Miah on August 22, 2005 2:41 PM (e)

carol,

Per your second paragraph that you pointed me to:

Why are they only concerned with a few words? IMO it is those few words that have dual meanings that doesn’t help either way. Our pastor was very animate about the innerrant authinticity of the KJV. Any pastor that I’ve conversed with denies ANY other interpretation…even today. To me it is pointless to validate any tribal book of myths, especially one so young! And quite frankly your the first that I’ve heard that claims a whole original translation (Genesis Account)that would NOT contradict science! Something that I will have to investigate on my own. If there is free documentation available on the web that I can access that validates your claim then I would greatly appreciate it. I cannot take your word for it.

What I am trying to convey is that I replied to this article in the context to which it was questioning. I.E the Holy Bible. I agree that the majority may rule, and that they not be right. But if the majority is fighting based on false pretenses, then you MUST indicate that thier pretenses are false as well as what they are useing is false as well.

If you care to provide a detailed theory as it aligns with the original Hebrew Bible that you are so fond of, then I would be happy to converse with you further on this.

As a side note: Do you have an email addy or web addy of this group so that I may contact them?

Comment #44335

Posted by Jim Harrison on August 22, 2005 2:48 PM (e)

As a matter of taste, I vastly prefer the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament; but in the final analysis a scripture is just an old book if, like me, you aren’t a believer. For that matter, lots of people who are believers nevertheless apply the methods of philology to textural criticism.

Perhaps I misunderstood what you trying to get at about the Hebrew Bible. You did misunderstand me. I wasn’t suggesting that the wording from the LXX led to alternations in some Hebrew texts of the Bible. I was suggesting–it’s a scholarly commonplace–that the translators were working from a Hebrew text that differs in a variety of ways from the currently accepted Hebrew version. Surely in the time between Ezra and the establishment of the ne veritur text, there were lots of versions floating around. That is, after all, the normal situation with manuscript traditions. One is at liberty to believe that a perfect copy somehow persisted unchanged for all those years, of course, as, I gather, the Bible code folks maintain; but that would be even harded to buy than the bit about the 70 translators agreeing about everything.

Comment #44354

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 5:59 PM (e)

Basically, you are saying, I think, that since theological criticism is inherently irrational (as you claim), there is no way to reasonably agree on the limits of its purview; any use therefore validates all possible uses. Would you kindly let me know if you think I’ve got the gist of your objection to theological criticism of ID?

No, that’s not my argument, and you’ve lifted what I said as an aside when noting that g-o-t-g is not a theological argument and are applying it to what I have said about realtheological arguments, about hubris and blasphemy. Such behavior does indeed strain patience to the breaking point.

As I’ve noted many times now, my objection is to special pleading. By making accusations of hubris and blasphemy, you legitimize such accusations – else you’re a hypocrite. I’ve said this repeatedly, it’s clear as day, you shouldn’t be having any trouble getting the “gist” of it, there should be no need for you to hypothesize about it or attempt to recast my words. Now, if you consider accusations of blasphemy against, say, teaching evolution, and accusations of hubris against, say, genetic recombination, to be ok then fine, make your own charges of blasphemy and hubris and expect similar charges in return, to which you have abandoned the grounds for rebuttal. But if you don’t, then it’s dishonest to make them, and if you try to tell others – and it is others, fence sitters, who are the targets of all our arguments – that we shouldn’t base public policy matters on such religious convictions, but insist that that should only apply to your opponents’ theological claims but not to your own, you won’t be credible. And your weaving and dodging to avoid this basic fact of fairness appears to me to be another example of clinging to a position independent of reasoning or evidence, or perhaps a moral compass so broken that such matters are beyond your comprehension (that sound you hear is patience snapped).

Comment #44369

Posted by Shaggy Maniac on August 22, 2005 7:05 PM (e)

TS:

You wrote: “And your weaving and dodging to avoid this basic fact of fairness appears to me to be another example of clinging to a position independent of reasoning or evidence, or perhaps a moral compass so broken that such matters are beyond your comprehension (that sound you hear is patience snapped).”

It strikes me as a bit odd that you feel you can deduce such an assessment of my character or any of my “positions” from the simple fact that I had some difficulty understanding your argument; maybe I’m just slow. I assure you that any questions I have addressed to you have been so addressed in good faith. I concede to you that you can make a “g.o.t.g” observation without incurring any stain of having said anything theological. My further questions about theological criticisms were precisely about the analysis of ID as hubristic and blasphemous that I had previously suggested. Forgive me if that wasn’t clear.

It does seem clear, special pleading as your objection notwithstanding, that you are dismissing the legitimacy of any “real” theological analysis. Is that or is it not the case?

Cheers,

Shaggy

Comment #44370

Posted by ts (not Tim) on August 22, 2005 7:12 PM (e)

you feel you can deduce such an assessment

I said “perhaps”.

maybe I’m just slow.

Maybe. Too slow for me. Bye.

Comment #44374

Posted by AV on August 22, 2005 7:41 PM (e)

(OFF TOPIC):

Australian talkback radio tackles ID:

Monday to Friday at 6pm (4pm in WA), repeated at 3am

Should Intelligent Design Be Taught In Our Schools
Tuesday 23 August 2005

The theory of intelligent design has reignited debate about evolution by challenging Darwin’s theory. US President George Bush wants it taught in schools. And here it’s won the qualified backing of education minister Dr Brendan Nelson. Should intelligent design be taught in our schools?

(http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/austback/stories/s1443378.htm)

For those of you interested in contributing, the contact details are:
Fax: 07-3377-5171
Toll-free phone: 1300 22 55 76 - 1300 CALL RN

(They’re Australian numbers, so you may need to add an area code or something.)