Do you believe in evolution?

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Do you believe in Evolution?

Yes, it is how we got to where we are now
125
78%
No, there is no chance of evolution
12
8%
In theory yes, but we didn't come from primates
17
11%
Unsure
6
4%
 
Total votes : 160

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Post Post #7  (isolation #0)  » Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:05 pm

I object to the question itself. "Believe"?

This isn't the sort of thing that requires "belief" in the sense of "Do you believe in god/pixies/unicorns/etc.?"

There is plenty of evidence to support evolution (ie. haemoglobin splits, viral development, ring species, and so on) so I really don't think it is a matter of "belief" so much as it is a matter of being persuaded by the existing evidence. I might as well say "I believe I am sitting on my chair at my computer."

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Post Post #16  (isolation #1)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:16 am

IH wrote:eh I personally think that the evidence is too inconclusive to prove evolution thoroughly and scientifically myself.


Well, it depends on what you mean by "prove". It is not the sort of thing you can sit down in a lab and do, except for with things like bacteria which have a very short (by our standard) generation gap.

Evidence in the sense of our knowledge of when certain phenotypes branched off, etc. is amply available to effectively prove it.

IH wrote:Where did the original spark of life come from?


Not entirely relevant but the two theories I most like are the organic primordial soup model or the inorganic model of Graham Cairns-Smith (look it up if you are interested).

IH wrote:Are these organisms ever mutating, or just repeating itself?


I don't quite know exactly what you mean here, but I will answer what I think you are referring to.

Evolutionary mutations occur when the DNA is miscopied across generations. As in a small mutation in the DNA of Parent X may lead to Child Y having some tiny advantage which gives it a higher possibility of surviving to breed and pass that mutation on.

IH wrote:Etc etc. Not to mention, there are some arguments about the 'fossil layer' which I don't agree with.


The so-called Cambrian Explosion is probably the most popular example of this rather weak attempt to question evolution. The 'fossil record' arguments rest on the assumption that all species leave fossils which are as resilient as other species.

I mean, it may be the case that prior to the Cambrian Explosion period many species were very soft and, therefore, did not leave many, if any, fossils.

Combine this with the possibility of natural disasters destroying fossils, etc and there really is no argument against evolution raised by the fossil record.

Stewie wrote:A good example of evolution is antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains. Without evolution, once we found an antibiotic, it should be good forever. However, somehow bacteria develop resistance to them.


Yeah. That's one of the easiest ways to explain it to people without having to overwhelm them with science.

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Post Post #18  (isolation #2)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:23 am

Foolster wrote:If you mean evolution as a system for adaption and change, then yes.
If you mean the big bang, or that one species can change ot a completely differnet species, then no.


Evolution is the process by which one species changes into another over many generations by small mutational changes. It is technically possible for one animal to give birth to a completely different species, but very unlikely and then there is the matter of the new species being unable to survive.

However, evolution does cause new species over long stretches of time due to many small mutations.

What don't you like about the big bang?

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Post Post #21  (isolation #3)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:43 am

IH wrote:But if there's inconclusive proof, then it's a belief that it's right. The theory of evolution is usually used as an argument against things such as creationism as the origin of life. I feel that explaining the spark of life coming from somewhere is a very important part to the correctness of evolution.


Yes, and there are explanations for the origins.

The most common is the primordial soup theory. To put this very simply, in the rather more chaotic and different atmospheric conditions of early earth organic molecules (ie. carbon-containing) form amino acids, form proteins, form building blocks of life.

The Cairns-Smith inorganic theory is basically that certain clay crystals survive longer in the prescence of certain organic molecules. Over time, the clay crystals may evolve (ie. not be destroyed) so that large deposits form with particular replications of the organic molecules. Eventually, the clay scaffolding is no longer needed and organic life arises.

Of course, this is really simplified, but the point is that there is no "spark" of life. In both of these theories, "life" arises simply by chemicals developing over time.

IH wrote:Adaptation does not=evolution though I think. The organism may change slightly to adapt, but it's never mutating into an entirely different virus or such. Just a different strain, right?


Right, but that is the beauty of evolution.

We forget that evolutionary change occurs over VERY large numbers of generations. Hence, these slight adaptations build up over generations (for bacteria, this is very short, for us quite long) and new species form.

1 tiny change may not mean much, but 100 million small changes in many different gene areas is going to have a hell of an impact.

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Post Post #33  (isolation #4)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:11 pm

IH wrote: If chemicals produced it in the first place, why isn't it being reproduced today? Why can't we reproduce it?


As Yosarian and others have said, Stanley Miller and others have created organic materials. They haven't been able to produce life and, think about it, it would be very odd if they did.

It is exceptionally improbable that all of the chemicals will manage to be sequenced in precisely the right way to form a replicator like DNA or RNA. Hence, even if the basic units like amino acids etc. can be produced, it requires tremendous amounts of time and space (as in lots of the chemicals) for it to even be possible and even then it is still highly improbable.

We haven't found life on any other planets thus far, which indicates that the process for life forming (at least for DNA/RNA lifeforms) is exceptionally improbable. The primordial soup theory meets this improbability.

Basically, it is not the case that you simply add chemicals and stir the beaker and that makes life.

IH wrote:Not only that, but alot of evidence points that the earth is not that old. Like the degeneration of the magnetic fields. Etc Etc.


You'll find that every one of these arguments is by some lunatic religious group pushing their insane agenda. Just read further and they are all inevitably wrong or telling half-truths.

Yosarian has already pointed to the evidence for the earth being "old". I want to rebut the magnetic fields thing.

The magnetic polarity reverses at points in time (one reversal is predicted in the next few thousand years). The creationists who use the magnetic fields as an "argument" use data from the last 150 years to extrapolate backwards, ignoring the fact that the fields reverse over time.

IH wrote:Which brings me back to the main point of this thread, which is talking about teaching it in schools, right? The spin thats getting put on it is that Evolution is right, you're stupid, shut up, at least from my viewpoint, when Evolution is a highly inconclusive theory, and needs to be taught objectively if they insist on teaching it.


The more you read in this area, the more you will see the evidence for evolution. Creationism and intelligence design (IDiocy) have no place whatsoever in a science classroom, other than as exemplars of "How not to think".

No scientist claims evolution is the "definite" truth, as in, that evolution is unassailably correct. However, there is no evidence against the theory and an overwhelming amount in support of it. Evolution should be taught with the same certainty as anything else in science is taught.

My problem with this apparent "Evolution v Creationism/IDiocy" is that it actually implies there is a debate, which legitimises the competition.

IH wrote:I don't believe it myself, but if they insist on teaching it, then thats how I believe things should go about.


Why don't you "believe" it? As in, is it due to apparent conflicting evidence or an apparent lack of evidence?

Sarcastro wrote:Just for the record, wolves becoming dogs is artificial selection, not natural selection. We have still observed natural selection, of course, that's just not the best example.


Yeah, there are 3 types of selection (that I know of and I may well be missing some):
1) Natural selection - Most of us know what I mean here.
2) Artificial selection - Dogs
3) Sexual selection - This is based not on survivability but on the favouring of certain traits for breeding. It is this one which has given rise to the different "races" of people. Over time, certain cultures favoured certain appearance traits which led to those traits being reproduced more. Hence, there is actually no basis for "Social Darwinism" or any of that other racist garbage that was once associated with evolution.

Interestingly, there is more genetic difference within populations of the same "race" than there is between races, showing how stupid the concept is.

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Post Post #42  (isolation #5)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:22 pm

Thesp wrote:
Nightson wrote:Evolution has been repeatedly tested to the point that the chance of the core concept of evolution (common ancestry, speciation, natural selection) being wrong is effectively zero.

I'm very uncertain that you can assert this.


Actually, I would "assert" it. There is no actual scientific evidence rebutting to "core concepts" of evolution. Any disagreement is primarily over minor subsidiary things (ie. whether or not genes are mere book-keepers or whether they are causative).

No respectable scientific doubt remains about the fact of evolution itself.

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Post Post #50  (isolation #6)  » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:32 am

joost wrote:Theology is a science and I think that is where the evolution vs Creationism/ID should take place, in a theology classroom.


Theology is only a in the sense that astrology and leprechology are "sciences". That said, they should definitely be subjected to the rigors of the scientific method, if only to bring about their demise.

I do agree, though, that this "debate" only has a place in study of religion classes; not in science. Even in the context of religious classes, it should not be taught as "Well this is the science view and this is creationist/ID view and both are valid", because that effectively undermines the whole point of not teaching it as science.

joost wrote: The problem with this debate is that if there is God, anything's possible. God could have made the earth look like it was older than it actually is to fool poor biologists and geologists and physicists. A scientist however should not be bothered with this possibility. He should accept that what he sees is the truth and if he does not believe it he should find another job.


Occam's Razor. Entities should not be multiplied unless necessary.

By invoking a god, you immediately raise the spectre of who created god, thereby creating an endless procession of things. Usually theists and deists will then say either A: "God is a mystery" or B: "God always existed"

A is basically just an admission of complete bewilderment.
B is mildly more interesting. If you can accept a god always existing, why not the universe? The logic is self-defeating.

Anyway, if you say god did it, you are going to allow for absolutely anything. The whole ID thing is basically a backtracking from creationism to make things sit somewhat more easily with scientific developments, although ID is a load of s*** and its "science" is ludicrously wrong.

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Post Post #63  (isolation #7)  » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:05 pm

Maz wrote:PEG, vollkan, I was about to rumble in here righteously, but I see it's not necessary. :godlesssalute:


:returngodlesssalute:

Joost wrote:Because science has proven that the universe has not always existed?


Well, no, there is still a relatively strong opinion that it may have always existed.

My point is that if you say "Universe needs cause, ergo God" then why not "God needs cause, ergo SuperGod" or something to that effect? Invoking an entity to explain the existence of another immediately raises the question of the origins of the creative entity. It is not an answer because it simply replaces one question with another.

joost wrote:Also I'd like to not that theology is a real science as it studies, besides the nature of God, religion which is definitely real.


Yes, but is no different to studying astrology or anything like that. The astrology subculture is definitely real (regrettably). That doesn't make their new age bulls*** a science. As Maz says, it is a sociology.

That said, the God theory should be treated as a scientific hypothesis for the purposes of scrutiny and rejection.

Thesp wrote:Saying that "the Bible is the word of God" is vague on so many levels. To see evolution and Genesis as mutually exclusive requires a very narrow understanding of what the Bible is in order to believe that the creation story in Genesis 1 must be literally correct, lest we be unable to trust the sacred texts at all. (There are far too many that do share that narrow understanding, much to the chagrin of textual and literary criticism which has greatly advanced our understanding of Biblical texts in the last few decades.) It's particularly difficult to maintain a strict literal reading of both creation stories in Genesis, as there are "timing issues" with them. Wink (You won't see them if you read the NIV translation, as the translators there have worked that problem out with some "creative" translating of a verb tense.)

It's not terribly important if the world was created in precisely seven days (despite what some will tell you). What is important is that we were deliberately created by a God who was intimately involved with the creation of this world.


Ah, the wonders of cherry-picking contextualism.

I suppose that it is not terribly important that Genesis is right, but it is terribly important that Jesus was resurrected?

This whole "taking the Bible as symbolic" thing is just back-pedalling from the bits that modern science has disproved.

Thesp wrote:This is a very narrow tailoring of each science and theology. Good theology and good science use the same epistemological principles, only one doesn't have as much control over its subject as the other.


In the same way I can make a really thorough epistemological study of different beliefs regarding leprechauns.

Thesp wrote:I don't agree with your conclusion of "B" here, it is fairly difficult to imagine matter as infinite on the timeline. I must say that an infinite ground of being makes a lot more sense, whether I follow Martin Buber and Paul Tillich the whole way on that or not.


But the God model is completely unnecessary except to achieve an answer in the absence of a clear one from science.

Let's suppose that, tomorrow, science proves that matter can arise from nothingness by some fantastic new process.

What then? The origin of the universe has a clear explanation and god is unnecessary. The religious response will be to say that god "designed this process to occur" or something equally as superfluous.

God is not an explanation, it is an answer to one question that immediately invokes more questions. There is no scientific basis for asserting god other than the current lack of any definitive alternative.

Sarcastro wrote:You know, Thesp, I've always wanted to point out that that (first) quote in your signature is absolutely ridiculous. Faith has nothing to do with reason - while I'm not sure one could define it as reason's "opposite", it certainly does not rely on reason in any meaningful way. Faith is certainly opposed to reason in the sense that one needs to abandon reason to have faith in anything that there is any evidence against (such as the existence of supernatural beings, which your quote is presumably referring to).


Kyuu-Eff-Tee

Sarcastro wrote:What the hell does he mean by "revelation", by the way? Last time I checked, that was not a logical term.


"revelation" usually either means truth through the Bible or that warm and fuzzy "personal experience" palaver.

Sarcastro wrote:Also, I realise this is a bit off-topic and that it should probably have gone in that religion thread that was all the rage a while ago. Better late than never, though.


It's the inevitable result of any thread on evolution.

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Post Post #68  (isolation #8)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 12:26 am

Thesp wrote:This is a terrible misconception, which is seeded by Soren Kierkegaard and promulgated by fundamentalists who wrongly fight to subjugate rationality to their limited understanding of religious revelation. If you believe in something contra rationality, it's not "faith", it's lunacy. Faith is, in some real sense, acknowledging you don't have total control of the phenomena you have experienced and believe.


No, faith is belief despite or in spite of evidence. Acknowledging that you don't have total control over the phenoma has nothing to do with anything.

Thesp wrote:Revelation is a crucial part of epistemology (including science), as it is the experience of phenomena - in the context Collins speaks of, religious phenomena. (After all, "revelation" carries a context of something being "revealed" to us.) Suppose God speaks to me in a burning bush which is not consumed by the fire. I now have the "revelation", an experience of phenomena which I am not able to reproduce and test. What do I do with this information? I would be a poor scientist to discard it entirely, just as I would be a poor scientist to immediately and wholly believe that the bush is God.


Sarcastro has said everything I would say, but I would like to know what you actually think the appropriate use of revelation is. You have stated what would be poor, but what do you see as "correct"?

Thesp wrote:I'm not looking to study the beliefs - I'm looking to study the subject (in this case, God), as any good scientist would.[/strawman dodge]


Yes, in the same way I could conduct a really good scientific study of anything . Being able to study theories of something has no bearing on its existence.

Thesp wrote:I agree, though with the "...and rejection" you've added at the end, I suspect you've come to your conclusion before examining evidence. That's not very scientifically or epistemically virtuous of you.


No. By "..and rejection" I meant that if we are to study god with science, then we are able to reject god with science. I was referring to that school of thought of "God is beyond scientific explanation". I realise you don't consider yourself part of that group, though, so this was not a strawman against you.

Thesp wrote:I disagree with you here on the "God model" being "completely unnecessary...". There are numerous phenomena which have been experienced throughout history (and for me, personally in my life) which point to a being who has created and is still involved with His creation. And I'm not talking about, "oh, I believe in God, and good stuff happened, so God must be blessing me!" stuff. I'm talking honest-to-goodness phenomenal experience of God.


Care to give any examples of these phenomena?

Also, I don't think your personal experience can be used to argue anything. The human mind is a wonderful and very powerful thing.

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Post Post #74  (isolation #9)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 6:36 pm

Great post Adele. Well done on putting a simple explanation out there.

I just have some thoughts on this bit:
[quote="Adele":2l04fpaz]
So, the most popular ways of dealing with evolution by religious folk:
1. Evolution is a lie propagated by Satan / Evil Scientists / Well-meaning but wrong scientists, and the Bible is the true, 100%-accurate Word Of God
2. God guided evolution, and the Story of the Garden of Eden was never meant to be taken so literally
3. God guided evolution, and the Bible, while inspired by well-intentioned and holy men, contains some errors
4. God’s not like people. It’s a force, a fundamental spirit throughout the universe. Jesus was a good man who presented good morals to live by; by observing the good bits of the bible and ignoring the bad, one may assemble a worthwhile ethic to live by. Best not to get hung up on what exactly is “true” and all that, but humankind evolved within the Universe (kind of pantheism)
5. Evolution just happened; doesn’t need a mastermind, it’s self-sustaining and don’t multiply entities without necessities please. God didn’t decide it. While the Bible contains some truth, so does “The Time Traveller’s Wife” – it’s essentially a work of fiction, a result of the delusions, fantasies and lies of “Holy Men” through the ages. There is no God.

In case you’re curious, I come down in box 5. If you’ve been raised a creationist, I’d expect you to be most comfortable with box 2, possibly box 3. You must understand, I grew up not even hearing of creationism. Where I come from, if you’re religious you pretty much believe 2 or 3 (or both, you know). If you’re spiritual you believe 4 and if you’re an atheist, strong or weak, you’d tick box 5 if you had to pick any (because these boxes are crude descriptors).
[/quote:2l04fpaz]

I notice that you raised this bit to show evolution only contradicts fundamentalism, but I disagree and would argue that it can be used to contradict positions 2-4 of the above.

1. is pretty much the most lunatic fundamentalists; that much is clear. Most religious people I know are at odds with this group.
5. is where I sit.

It is 2-4 that I think are interesting.
2. The real beauty of evolution is that despite its simplicity as a concept, it is responsible for the diversity of life. The idea that evolution was "guided" destroys the beauty of evolution in my opinion and it undermines the notion that evolution is the result of random mutations being inherited over generations and naturally selected. This view is "less wrong" than 1, but I think it ignores the most wonderful aspects of evolution.

3. Again, same thing with the guiding. I call this sort of view "cherry-picking theism" because it is effectively just taking the bits of religious belief which are either fundamental to the faith (ie. Jesus being resurrected) and leaving behind the rest of it. The argument that the Bible needs to be taken in "historical context" is nonsense and equates to "The Bible has a lot of things which aren't right for us now, so let's just ignore them".

4. Yes; this one is pantheism. When a person uses "God" as a synonym for "universe", they are pretty much an atheist.

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Post Post #76  (isolation #10)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 7:50 pm

Well, it's not necessary to think that God specifically guided evolution; one could just as easily say that God knew when he created the Universe that we would evolve.


So a perfect being creates a universe where life develops based on the brutal struggle of natural selection? It doesn't make sense at all. But I suppose "God works in mysterious ways"

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Post Post #78  (isolation #11)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:17 pm

Yosarian wrote:(shrug) Would you prefer to live in a universe where everything was created flawless and nothing ever changed? Sounds kind of boring to me. Life is change; that's what makes it so interesting.


Absolutely I agree with you. Are you actually suggesting that the entire universe was made to be so wonderful just to please tiny lifeforms such as ourselves that appreciate diversity? That's very anthropocentric.

I personally find the idea that there is no creator and that our universe came about by some fantastic scientific process we don't yet know about to be far more exciting, interesting and beautiful than the notion that it was created by some invisible hand.

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Post Post #82  (isolation #12)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:35 pm

Yosarian wrote:Your whole objection was antropocentric, or at least Earth-life-centric; you were suggesting that a perfect God wouldn't have made a universe where life on Earth developed through natural means like natural selection and such because you think that's "brutal". So, I disagree with your objection, and now you're trying to say that our preference about such things shouldn't matter? You are contradicting yourself.


*blink* If God is perfect, God would not rely on natural selection anywhere . Natural selection is the brutal struggle of death and survival. There is nothing anthropocentric about this at all.

Yosarian wrote:Ok. What does your aesthetic preference have to do with anything, though?


You were talking about how awful it would be to live in a static universe. I agreed with you and elaborated by talking about the beauty and wonder which I find in godless science. You raised the issue of a boring universe, I was merely pointing out that science is anything but boring.

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Post Post #84  (isolation #13)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 9:01 pm

Sarcastro wrote:Option two is not incorrect because it leaves out "wonderful aspects of evolution", but simply because it is factually incorrect. Whether things are favourable or unfavourable has absolutely no place in objective science, and it makes you look hypocritical to talk about how beautiful evolution is. To do so is to sink to the religious level of "God is real because the universe is better that way".


I was definitely not making this a debate about personal favorableness. What I meant was that the most fascinating thing about evolution is that it works without any guidance as a fact. In that regard, I see the idea of it being guided as factually incorrect and ignoring one of the most interesting things about evolution.

I realise that what I said could be mis-read, so thanks for making me clarify.

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Post Post #88  (isolation #14)  » Fri Sep 28, 2007 5:31 am

Yosarian wrote:His whole argument was about HIS preference; he was arguing that a perfect God couldn't exist, because he thinks a perfect God wouldn't want to rely on natural selction, because he feels natural selection is brutal. In other words, he questions the existance of God simply because he feels the universe would be "better" if it wasn't for natural selection. That's an interesting argument, I suppose, but it's entierly based on his own personal preference for a less "brutal" way to create advanced life.


I see what you meant by my "preference" now, but I was never once talking about my own opinion of what God should or should not do. Furthermore, the bolded bit is completely untrue of me.

Let me reiterate more clearly:
I reject the idea that God guided evolution on the grounds that evolution is inherently dependent on randomness and survival. The most fundamental thing to evolution is that it is the result of unguided random mutations. Evolution occurs at the genetic level through replication and mutation of DNA and RNA. Now, in terms of how DNA and RNA replicating lifeforms formed initially, I favour either the primordial soup model or the Cairns-Smith inorganic model, though they aren't mutually incompatible. I won't detail them here, but the latter of these actually relies on a form of inorganic evolution.

All of this sounds terribly improbable, but remember this is a very large universe. Even something immensely improbable is very likely given the sheer number of opportunities this universe provides.

So then, where does God "guiding" evolution come into it? We have a system which is inherently dependent on the natural selection of purely random mutations. Therefore, the notion that God guided evolution makes no sense whatsoever. I mean, you are saying "God could have done it by evolution", but evolution by its very nature doesn't require God to do anything . There is absolutely no room here for God to "guide" evolution.

This is what I was trying to say when I was talking about it being "brutal". My point is that this is a process which occurs purely by the brutal struggle of nature. It requires no divine hand, so therefore there is no point invoking one.

Suppose science determines precisely how the universe is created without any divine intervention. Extending the logic of "guiding evolution" argument would then equate to "God allowed the universe to come into being without his involvement."

Yosarian wrote:Why wouldn't God create a universe that would then continue based on natural principles such as natural selection? Why would you assume that God wouldn't want to create a universe where life would develop on it's own? Didn't you just agree with me that that kind of universe is simply more interesting then a universe where everything is unchanging?


Well, first up, if this is God "creating" a universe then we are moving beyond God "guiding" evolution. In fact, this is a deist position you are presenting in this question. But whatever, I love discussing this stuff.

I see no reason why God should make a universe with evolution just because it is more interesting to our primitive little minds.

There is no reason why a God could not make an evolutionary universe, but there are things that go against this idea. I find it impossible to fathom a divine being choosing to create a universe where life has to develop by death and struggle for survival. A God is entirely capable of creating a perfect universe where there is no need for natural selection, which is such a wasteful and destructive process.

The God model in this regard is simply an unproveable and undisprovable answer for how the universe came to be. It is immediately rendered false by Occam's Razor and fails to provide any evidence for its truth. Since it is an invokation beyond science, it bears the onus of proof. Until it presents such proof, it is only as valid as the tooth fairy. (Though this is a matter for another thread which seems to be overlapping with this one).

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Post Post #91  (isolation #15)  » Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:14 pm

Thesp wrote:The a-religious use of revelation depends on subjective experience as well. It is also incorrect to say that reason and subjective experience are mutually exclusive, whether in a religious context or not.


By subjective experience in the a-religious sense, what are you referring to specifically?

If you mean the scientific experience of results and data, then I must disagree with you. The difference is that the experiences of individuals, even if they are "similar" are not verifiable and can more readily be explained by the extraordinary ability of the mind to trick itself.

Why is it that religious "experiences" are confined to large numbers of individuals rather than large groups of people? Why is it that no large groups of people ever hear God speaking to them all at once?

Of course, any field of study depends on you encountering and experiencing data or research, but that experience can be replicated by anyone else who conducts the same study. If I want to, I can devote years of my life to studying the human genome to prove to myself that it can be done. However, the religious "experience" is not something that can be replicated in that regard and is far more sensibly explained by a combination of natural phenomena and the brain tricking itself.

Of course, a lot of people then give the trite response "God doesn't reveal himself unless you open yourself". That stems from the same thinking as the "God is a mystery" argument.

Thesp wrote:I disagree that you should discard it, especially when there are other reports of experiences which point towards the existence of God. Does that mean that such an experience is accurate? I couldn't tell you for sure - but it is certainly prudent to examine and compare this experience with others. (After all, some (most, I'd say) people who claim to be possessed by demons are having a mental malfunction, rather than actual possession.)


I fail to see why all alleged "possessions" cannot be attributed to mental phenomena. Indeed, attributing it to demons is utterly medieval and has been so harmful to the mentally ill for so long that this notion should not be even entertained.

As I have already said, the experiences of individuals cannot be taken as evidence of anything beyond mental phenomena where there is nothing which can be perceived by another person at the same time and which cannot be replicated.

Thesp wrote:What is this traditional "impossible happening" definition? I am unfamiliar with it.


A "miracle" in the religious sense is something which defies the laws of nature. We may consider it a miracle if we win the lottery twice in a row and get struck by lightning after winning each time. However, that is still statistically possible . It does not point to divine intervention.

The fact that many people have subjective religious experiences does not point to the existence of god, so much as it does the ubiquity of mental illusions.

Thesp wrote:This is what I don't understand. I agree that irrationality is far from a virtue - it's scary! However, a full, robust faith does not involve irrationality and a Kierkegaardian leap of faith against reason - quite the opposite - it goes hand and hand with reason! Why try to pigeonhole all religious people as irrational?


But faith in itself depends on taking a belief despite or in spite of evidence. Even if you base it on some scientific basis like "complexity" (which is not evidence for God, as you probably well know) faith requires a belief to be taken without evidence.

There is no point in a reasoning process where you can reasonably conclude a supernatural phenomena. You may not have an answer, but bewilderment is not evidence for god.

Thesp wrote:Sorry, I missed it. Here's where I'm thoroughly Methodist. I believe, because of personal experiences and encounters I have had with God, combined with similar experiences I have seen from people in my community, and from similar experiences shared by people throughout history, combined with rational, contemplative introspection and examination of the universe I am situated in, I believe God not only exists, but has significant interaction with the world we all live in. I know that's brief, I could go into greater detail at some other time if you like. I hope that helps.


Similar experiences by many individuals throughout history and individual contemplation following your experience. The "experience" is what I see as the skyhook of the reasoning process. That is the problem with faith.

Thesp wrote:I'll give you a couple - I thought very hard about sharing this - so please understand this is a moment of vulnerability here in some real respect. I have heard God speak to me on a number of occasions, especially in prayer - let me refer specifically to one instance. The language was particularly clear, obtrusive and unmistakable, and it was giving me direct guidance in my life. I have thought long and hard about such instances, as it very well could be that I have some sort of mental imbalance (or even just occasional malfunctions), and that indeed I have not heard (or perhaps more accurately, perceived) God's voice at all. Yet my mental faculties otherwise function perfectly normally and I have no reason to doubt that I am fully sane. My overall experience of God is remarkably consistent with those of my fellow Christian community, both contemporary and throughout history. (The Bible speaks of people's encounters of God thoughout history (i.e. the burning bush in Exodus), and is not the only record of people's experiences of God.)


Thankyou for that; it's good to debate with someone who is honest about this.

As you say yourself, it could just be a mental malfunction. Let's take that possibility and compare it with the experience of God one. Now, why is God more likely than your brain contemporaneously malfunctioning?

Why is God more likely than those people throughout history having their brains malfunctioning?

Remember, the proportion of people who have these experiences is still relatively small. I see no reason why you can conclude it is God.

Vollkan wrote:This is a particularly unique stance you are taking. After all, I'd like to see how you could tell the volume of a chemical in an experiment you are performing if you are unwilling to allow for personal experience.


Reproducability and verifiability. If I want, I can call every other person in the lab over to look at the test tube with me. I can take photographs of the tube. It is wholly different from me individually hearing voices/believing I am abducted by aliens/seeing santa.

Vollkan wrote:Beyond that, why shouldn't personal experience be a factor in things? Why must we throw out all of such evidence simply because it has the potential for fault? That doesn't seem wise at all. Won't you risk excluding a great number of things you might not otherwise be able to account for? That seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


No. I am not dismissing this at all. I am simply saying that the only sensible explanation is mental malfunction. I fail to see why these experiences point to a divine being. Here's a thought: Is it possible that our brain may have the capacity for this hearing voices thing as an evolutionary product, given how frequently people have these experiences in times of despair? My point is simple: Where there is a logical, natural explanation, it is wrong to invoke the supernatural.

Thesp wrote:Why shouldn't we take the Bible in historical context? It would be absurd not to! (I suspect what you're driving at is that a number of people who insist that the Bible is strictly the inerrant words of God spoken once and for all time also try to give it historical context, which creates a large number of interpretation problems.)


I attended a Catholic school where they adopted this contextualist approach very rigorously.

My problem with the contextualist approach is this: At some level all Christians assert that some element of the Bible is true (ie. Jesus's resurrection, or even Jesus's historical existence). Now, most Christians also reject other elements as historical anachronisms or purely symbolic (ie. Adam and Eve).

My problem is that I can see no basis for asserting that some parts can be disregarded other than centrality to faith. Why should Adam and Eve be purely symbolic but not Jesus, other than for modern convenience?

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Post Post #93  (isolation #16)  » Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:23 pm

pickem wrote:keep the dumb ass god shit in the god thread. both of you.


Amen *pun* to that.

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Post Post #96  (isolation #17)  » Sat Sep 29, 2007 12:52 am

Thesp wrote:You've needlessly precluded a lot of potentially useful data (as well as a lot of crap). That's not scientifically rigorous/epistemologically virtuous at all.


Thesp wrote:It seems we're stuck, then. I disagree that this is the assessment we must take, and I'm a little uncertain as to how you could be convinced if this is how God presents God's self, if you're throwing away data willy-nilly because it has the potential to be wrong. The bit about "not being in control of the subject" is significant, because replication is indeed more difficult, but it cannot invalidate the possibility. (It sure does make it harder to "prove", though.)


Thesp wrote:I'm asserting that because of the evidence I've experience, belief in God is not only warranted, it is proper. You keep asserting that I must be believing in God despite of or in spite of evidence. There is clearly some contradiction going on here.


Right. These three points are relate to the one issue: Is subjective experience evidence? You clearly think that it should not be ignored as evidence, and I disagree.

My point is that they are not evidence for God. They are evidence for the ubiquity of such mental illusions. What I mean by that is this:
The fact that many people have these experiences does not in any way suggest God's existence any more than if one person has the experiences. These experiences have a rational explanation as tricks of the mind. The very fact that people have these experiences attests to the fact that they are not such a freak occurence. You might call that God speaking to them, I just take it as evidence that our minds commonly mess up.

In other words, it is not that I am dismissing these things, I am simply taking them as evidence of a natural phenomena, which is the most correct conclusion given Occam's Razor.

You say that this experience makes it "proper" for you to believe in God. I think what we have here is the case that the experience has deeply affected you in an emotional way, in the sense that the experience means more to you than it would to a hypothetical objective bystander.

The proper scientific way to approach this is evidence is to view it objectively. Clearly, there is a mental phenomena akin to a form of hallucination which is occurring. That is all the evidence suggests. Nothing about these experiences points to God more than it does to a mental phenomena.

Thesp wrote:I'm not certain this proportion is as small as you think it is. In fact, there are Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, etc. that have perceived God, and continue to perceive God on a daily basis, contemporaneously and throughout history. I'm really not certain why I ought to conclude this is widespread mental defect. It seems terribly consistent with what I see, read, and hear. I've genuinely considered the alternatives, and I don't find them compelling.


An excellent point and I am glad you raise it.
All religions have an experiential dimension, some ritualised activity which seeks to invoke an experience. Buddhism's is meditation obviously. I would argue that such activities, which deliberately seek to invoke certain feelings in the brain, are the cause of perceived experiences. Once a person encounters this phenomena enough subjectively, I think it very likely that would imagine they "perceive" God far more often owing to a subjective emotional "feeling" (not the best word, but I am sure you understand).

Thesp wrote:I suspect you will have trouble fitting Jesus on the Xerox.


I assume this little foray with Biblical infallibality is a joke from you.

Thesp wrote:I'm still having trouble as to why I must adopt your conclusion as "the only sensible explanation [is mental malfunction]". You seem to have concluded there is no God already, then interpreted the data in light of this conclusion.


No. My assumption is that if there is a natural explanation, that should be taken. Why? If there is a natural explanation then it is not a miracle and Occam's Razor and all that jazz.

I approach it with no conclusion other than "What is the logical explanation for this?" I don't conclude God because I find a natural one that satisfies me.

In the case of the universe's origins, I know science cannot explain that yet, but that still does not make it any more justified to reach for a religious one.

Thesp wrote:Excellent question! I think it revolves centrally upon the misconception (spread largely by Christians) that the Bible is a dingle, unified unit. I'm sure you've seen examples of how Revelations has been taken quite literally, when it's literary style would never have been taken literally by the original reader. Imagine you read a text, and it begins, "Once upon a time...". You will understand it in a different way than a piece which begins "Houston, Texas (AP) - A fire began...", and rightly so. There are some things which are absolutely critical as literal to the Christian faith, which includes the literal existence, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus the Christ as God. There are other things which are perceived as such, but really aren't.


But this is just my point. Why is it only the fundamental stuff which is not symbolic? Is it not possible that, for instance, you have it completely the wrong way round. That Jesus's death and resurrection were purely symbolic whilst the prediction of the world burning at Armageddon is meant to be literal?

I realise the style of writing is different, but that in and of itself doesn't prove anything.

I know of professed Christians, Bishop John Spong of the Episcopalian Church, for instance, who take this contextual approach to the total extent, rather than cherry-picking the fundamental stuff.

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Post Post #118  (isolation #18)  » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:36 am

Alasdair wrote:why the shit are you guys wandering onto talking about the Bible

I thought it was on the scientific theory of evolution for the biodiversity of life on this planet and the origin of species

if you disagree with that then you're as silly as not agreeing with the theory of gravity, the theory of atoms, or the theory of germs

As somebody who has enough faith to believe in God while still accepting science, I challenge an evolution denier (I'd call them creationists but really that'd imply they had a belief system that made sense, that'd be like calling holocaust-deniers their own special name for their wacky belief system)


I'm curious, how do you reconcile science with your faith? How do you consider your religious belief scientific in light of the fact that faith is wholly irrational (see the now defunct God Thread, which I think this may prompt a resurrection of)?

Aisar wrote:No you're wrong evolution is real but we didn't come from STINKING MONKEYS !


We did not come from monkeys. Monkeys are a contemporary evolved species. We came from, and still are, apes.

Cool, knowledge is refined and improved over time, thanks for the input!

Watch me do this too

Do you believe in Odin? Zeus? Thor? No? They fell out of favour huh.

I'm going to toss this silly Bible out, who believes in that shit, could be gone tomorrow


*blink* I thought you said you believed in god?

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Post Post #121  (isolation #19)  » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:40 am

Alasdair if you believe in evolution, how do you explain the FACT that the earth is only 6000 years old?


I don't need to explain that "FACT" because it is a complete falsehood. The very fact you are raising it undermines your credibility from the get-go.

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Post Post #127  (isolation #20)  » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:45 am

Alasdair wrote:
Adele wrote:You are dogmatic in your approach to this matter, and condescending besides. It makes me think that your understanding of the subject is limited to the first - or perhaps second - round of "lies to children" you got fed. Newsflash: Reality is more complex and elegant than is dreamed of in your philosophy.


I didn't fucking bring up dogs stop changing the subject


*sigh* Isn't there a bridge you should be hiding under?

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Post Post #131  (isolation #21)  » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:46 am

Aisar wrote:I don't know what your talking about I know my teacher said we came from monkeys are you a teacher I DON'T THINK SO


BZZT! Argument from authority.

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Post Post #135  (isolation #22)  » Thu Oct 18, 2007 10:49 am

Ninth wrote:Why would God make the universe first and then make the Earth like 100 million years later. Did you even read the bible?


This is drifting into the God thread...but you actually need to prove that God did make the universe before this is even a legitimate question.

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Post Post #245  (isolation #23)  » Fri Oct 19, 2007 6:35 pm

Earth a closed system that needs a huge energy source? Hint: Look up at the big bright thing in the sky....

This argument just reflects your lack of understanding about both evolution and themodynamics.

With evolution we have minute changes over generations based on reproductivity of organisms. In no way does it violate any law of physics to say that a giraffe with a slightly longer neck (not at the expense of energy for muscle growth and maintenence though) will have a better chance of surviving than a giraffe with a slightly shorter neck. The genes for the long neck are more likely to be passed on. There is nothing strange about this whatsoever, and it certainly does not violate the laws of physics.

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Post Post #253  (isolation #24)  » Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:59 pm

Yosarian2 is completely correct.

The overall entropy of any closed system (ie. the universe) is always increasing, but the entropy of any localised open system (ie. earth) can decrease if there is an external energy supply (ie. the big yellow thing)

It's a ridiculous argument to anyone who has even the slightest comprehension of the science, but it sounds impressive to those who don't, because it relies on (and abuses) scientific terminology (much like the crack-pot alternative therapists who talk about "quantum crystal energy" and the like).

We can't really blame the creationists: Their brains are closed systems which are therefore continually getting more and more disordered :)

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Post Post #255  (isolation #25)  » Sun Oct 28, 2007 12:06 am

Foolster41 wrote:Volkien: Just because some Intelligent Desaigners use faulty logic doesn't mean their wrong. Just how just because your mom and dad lied about santa claus means that God/Jesus doesn't exist. This doesn't mean he does exitst, but it is not suficent evidence to say he doesn't.


Intelligent design is bad science, plain and simple; creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

Evolution requires no design and no designer. There is nothing found yet which is irreducibly complex such that it could not possibly have come about via evolutionary means, which is the root of the ID movement's claims.

No, they are not necessarily "wrong", if you mean that in the sense of "proven incorrect", but their ideas do not deserve to be taken seriously until they can establish a positive case for their arguments over that of evolution.

Goodf sceince is about looking at the world and trying to figure out how it works making no asumptions. There are pleanty of things that bother me about evolution that have no been answered to completly trust it. I don't beleive science proves God, but I don't belive it rules him out either.


Please, tell me what bothers you about evolution. I really want to explain whatever it is that you don't like about it.

We've been over the "it doesn't rule God out" thing already in the appropriate thread. All I will say on it here is remind you that absence of negative proof is no cause for assertion of existence.

Foolster wrote:1.)The sheer chance of life happening, and everything happening perfectly, The odds are I beleive 10 to the 100th power. That's a big number. We have a moon that rotates around our planet, keeping it perfectly in orbit, we have solar eclipses which doesn't happen on other planets. We have good supplies of carbon and water, t he materials needed for life.


The odds of life developing appear to be very small, judging by the fact we have not yet been contacted by an extraterrestrial species.

I will use a chapter from the Dawkins book "The Blind Watchmaker" for this; it is on this precise issue of probability of life's generation.

Let's see: Self-replicating molecules (life) can be produced by chemical reactions but it requires a large amount of time, on the human scale of things. On earth, it took about a billion years. If there are a billion billion planets in the universe, at a likely conservative guess, and each lasts as long as earth on average, then we are looking at a billion billion billion planet-years to play with.

To put it a different way: If there are a billion billion planets and the odds are a billion to one, we would still expect life on a billion planets.

The point: The exceptionally low probability of life generating randomly via chemical processes is actually very very high. Now, it is less likely that life will evolve to reach the point of intelligence, but still hardly so unlikely that we should really be bemused and astounded.

You say the odds are 10 to the hundredth power. I disagree. The odds of life chemically forming appear (DNA as a specific example) appear to be significantly lower than that (it simply requires enough chemical reactions to form something like DNA). We've already seen the formation of amino acids by Urey-Miller-eqsue experiments.

Once natural selection takes hold, life evolves and becomes more complex.

As for the orbit and sun and stuff, you are saying that earth is in the "Goldilocks zone" - not too hot, not too cold but just right.

Now the "design" argument says god made the universal porridge around earth that way.

There are is another better way to look at this.
1) The anthropic principle - If life arises on one billion earth-like planets, then it makes sense that life would evolve on earth because earth, funnily enough, is especially earth-like.
2) Moreover, life itself has evolved to thrive in the conditions on this planet, complementing the former.

Foolster wrote:2.)The Flagellem, a microscopic engine that has over 30 intrequite parts. Take away one peice and it doesn't work. only 2 parts can be found anywhere else.


Parts of the flagellum actually do serve a function as a toxin transporter. What we see here are parts not evolved for the purpose of being a "flagellum" coming to serve that purpose. It makes sense really. An organism which has parts which more closely resemble a flagellum gets more of an advantage and, thus, eventually those parts form the flagellum.

This really is a non-issue just raised by ID advocates who don't understand that a part does not have to specifically evolve on its on.

Foolster wrote:I find it quite sad that IDers are dimissed out of hand, even though there are perfectly good reasons to possibly question darwinist evolution.


No. They are dismissed once their arguments are proven to be poor. If they ever find real irreducible complexity, then we need to look at what is wrong with the theory of evolution is as we understand it. Even then, it is not positive proof for their argument, but it would require some re-examination of evolution.

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Post Post #258  (isolation #26)  » Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:59 am

I missed this point before, and Seol just brought it to my attention:
Foolster wrote:Also, evolution and adaption is most certainly not the same thing. It gets grouped together all the time. It appears the same, but just isn't.
change of slight variations over generations is repeatable and observable. changing of one species has not. I haven't heard any credible evidence of half-specifies (If the evolution mistakes died off, wouldn't we find all kinds of half-specie fossils?)


Evolution is not adaptation, and I don't know of any scientist who says that the two are equivalent. Evolution is a very specific scientific idea, whereas adaptation is a generic process.

Adaptation, specifically by natural and sexual selection, is the driver of evolution however. By a tremendous number of small adaptations, new species form.

The fallacy in your thinking, is that you are suggesting that a large accumulation of small gradual changes cannot result in a change of "species" (which is a hideous word in this context).

The key is not to think in terms of species. Think in terms of DNA. All we are talking about here is certain genetic combinations which are favoured over time, due to favourable phenotypes. Over time, the cumulative effect of continued favouring of particular traits (remember, we are talking about situations where a variety of phenotypes may be selected) dramatic changes will occur, such that we may say a "new species" has arisen.

If I still have not answered this aspect of your problem, could you word a specific question to voice your concern?

As for the half species thing, again, the trouble lies in the us eof the word "species". What do you mean by a "half-specie fossil"?

If you mean intermediatory links, we do have many fossils. Of course, the record is not complete, but it would be a bizarre phenomenon if it were. We should expect to have an incomplete fossil record because fossils are very rare things.

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Post Post #277  (isolation #27)  » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:26 pm

Foolster wrote:That is naterual selection you arer descirbing. I do beleive naterual slection exists. I have aboslutly no trouble with that at all. Unfortunitly you are making the leap that it COULD change things from one drasticly different species to another. How do you KNOW an ape can become a man eventualy? What i want is hard PROOF, not speculation.


Foolster, the problem with your thinking is that you are missing the fact that we are talking about many, very small adaptations over a very large number of generations.

Each step is minute, but the aggregated sum is enormous.

Remember, also, that "species" is a term used by us to form a mental construct. I mean, nature does not exist in discrete units called "species".
What sort of proof is it that you want? There is an overwhelming amount of evidence in favour of evolution.

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Post Post #282  (isolation #28)  » Sun Nov 04, 2007 9:23 pm

Foolster wrote:How do creatures when they evolve from one eviron to another (For example from underwater to on land). What i mean is, wouldn't there be multiple steps to surviving (Wouldn't they need land movment and lung power at the same time?)


Well, yeah, ampibians are proof of it, but if you mean the actual adaptive steps I shall try and give some explanation.

Fossils have actually been found of amphibious fish; fish with very primitive fin-arms. Now, the obvious reason for such a creature evolving is simple: There may be food in an isolated lake or something, or in a swamp. If you have ever been fishing, you will know that fish can jump around on land, but it is pretty ineffective.

The likely explanation for the transition from sea to land is food-gathering. Fish that are able to gather more effectively (ie. cross land) are more likely to survive if there is a shortage in one particular area.

How do we KNOW the world is old?


From talkorigins.org:

* Radiometric dating shows the earth to be 4.5 billion years old
* If the earth is old, then radioactive isotopes with short half-lives should have all decayed already. That is what we find. Isotopes with half-lives longer than eighty million years are found on earth; isotopes with shorter half-lives are not, the only exceptions being those that are generated by current natural processes
* Loess deposits (deposits of wind-blown silt) in China are 300 m thick. They give a continuous climate record for 7.2 million years. The record is consistent with magnetostratigraphy and habitat type inferred from fossils
* The abundance and distribution of helium change predictably as the sun ages, converting hydrogen to helium in its core. These parameters also affect how sound waves move through the sun. Thus one may estimate the sun's age from seismic solar data. Such an analysis puts the age of the sun at 4.66 billion years, plus or minus about 4 percent

Now, where is the "evidence" for a young earth?

Are there CREDIABLE cavemen you could point me to (Not Hoaxes, Donkeys or people with rickets)?


Well, Lucy immediately jumps to mind. As Yosarian said, there are many.

Where do the other parts in the flaggellem come from? From what I gather it is unexplianed where those extra (nessicery) parts come from, which defies evolutionary idea of "small steps.


To explain what Yosarian was saying in laymen's terms:
The parts needed to make a flagellum did not need to evolve specifically to "make a flagellum". Two parts may evolve separately for different purposes (there are a number of ideas on the purposes of the parts) and then synthesize for a new purpose via mutation.

It is easy to say "We're here, so we must have gotten lucky" But that is not a scientific method at all,


Even if it is like finding a needle in a haystack, the point is that we are sitting on the needle.

"What sort of proof is it that you want? There is an overwhelming amount of evidence in favour of evolution. "
Again, I havn't seen it if it is there. Maybe I simply missed something and would appreciate anything that could help me understand it.
What you've said so far is proof that evolution COULD happen. What i'd like is proof that it is true, since you claim it is so obvious,


Yosarian has dealt with this.

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Post Post #284  (isolation #29)  » Mon Nov 05, 2007 1:02 am

Foolster wrote:How do you know the half-life of radioactive isotopes. Since 80,000,000 is much longer than evne recorded history then how do we KNOW that it lasts that long? A measurjng tool is only useful if we know how long that tool is. So, where does these number come from?


Experimental half-life determination is relatively easy (for physicists). We touched on it last year in final year physics at high school, but I don't remember too well. Some other people may know this better than I do, but it is determinable experimentally.

People here keep saying "I have lots" and yet do not supply any examples. To be fair, this may just be there are o many you don't know where to begin, but specific examples would be appreciated.


Lots of what? If you mean remains of early hominids, even a basic wikipedia search will give you an ample number of specimens. Australopithecus alone gives:
* Laetoli footprints
* AL 129-1
* Lucy
* STS 5 (Mrs. Ples)
* STS 14
* STS 71
* Taung Child
* Selam

There are a few vonterversies with Lucy (And no I don't mean the knee bone thing with seems a false claim against it.). People like Dr. Charles Oxnard http://www.answersingenesis.org/creatio ... 3/lucy.asp


No. This is wrong and, given the URL you cite, I am not surprised. According to talkorigins.org (a website I highly recommend) Those statements have been widely discredited and Oxnard himself considers Australopithecus to be a human ancestor.

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Post Post #286  (isolation #30)  » Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:42 am

This talkorigins article references Oxnard

Why is the site it not creditable? Because they have the preposition that they believe in creationism because of their observations?


Answers in Genesis is not credible because its they approach the matter, as you say, with a Creationist presupposition and then misuse science, such as Oxnard, to produce selective observations.

I'll need mro time to look at the rest. Thanks for the start.

Talkorigins is an excellent resource if you are interested in learning about evolution. It explains all the science very simply and scrutinises all of the arguments against evolution without becoming bogged down in jargon.

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Post Post #291  (isolation #31)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:31 am

When in doubt, Bill Hicks. :)

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Post Post #303  (isolation #32)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:22 pm

Sarc rightly pointed out that Stalin did not do what he did because he was an atheist. You might as well say that people with moustaches (eg. Stalin and Hitler) are capable of committing evil in the name of moustaches. It's that coincidental.

Hitler was a Social Darwinist, yes, but he believed he was doing God's will. As Sarc said, Hitler was a devout Christian. Hitler acted in the name of Christianity which, given the whole "Jews killing Jesus" thing, worked out rather conveniently for him.

When atheists do questionable things etc. it is not in the name of atheism. Stalin and Mao were atheists (though, I argue they simply implemented their own religions with themselves as figureheads) but that fact was largely coincidental. Their opposition to religion was pragmatically motivated simply in the fact that that they needed their own person to be the devotional centre.

As for amoralism etc. making sense for atheists, as Adele suggested, I disagree also. Some atheists are wonderful, some are amoral, some are absolutely callous. It's the same with religious people. The difference is that atheism cannot be used as a justification for evil behaviour, religion can and I don't need to bother to point out examples of where it is.

Religion can be used to argue, as Sarc said, that things are bad. All atheism "tells us" about morals is that we can do and think what we like.

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Post Post #305  (isolation #33)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:29 pm

Which part of my post is the *sigh* directed at?

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Post Post #307  (isolation #34)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:40 pm

I had the following points:
1) Stalin's and Mao's atheism was coincidental
2) Hitler was a devout Christian, and he used religion to his own means
3) Atheism is independent of one's morality and cannot be used as justification for things
4) Religion is independent of one's morality but can be used as justification for things

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Post Post #312  (isolation #35)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:39 pm

Sarcastro wrote:Vollkan, I think Thesp's point is just that we kind of ruined the whole point of the article, which was to try to look at how atheists and theists aren't completely different.


I gathered that.

Anyway, on Seol's post:

I agree with Sarc entirely. Religious disputes, in the sense of pure philosophical clashes, are rarely ever a cause of actual conflict (except, of course, for purges of heretics). However, religion provides a tribal label and a higher cause for what is usually politically-oriented issues, enflaming and "mutating" the problem.

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Post Post #314  (isolation #36)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:57 pm

Yosarian2 wrote:Eh...Stalin was pretty harsh on Orthadox Chritian believers because of his athiesm; or at least because he believed religion was anti-communist, which is almost the same thing. That's not the reason for most of the bad things he did though.


Hmm...it isn't the same thing.

Stalin suppressed religion because it didn't suit him politically. I admit that, had Stalin been an Orthodox Christian, he would not have suppressed the church (that should be obvious), but that doesn't change the coincidental nature of his atheism. If religion had worked to Stalin's advantage, I very much doubt he would have cracked down on it in the way that he did. Indeed, in the Nazi occupation of 1941, Stalin used the Orthodox Church as a means of rallying the Russian people.

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Post Post #317  (isolation #37)  » Wed Nov 07, 2007 12:02 am

Yes, what TSQ said.

Foolster, Stalin's atheism was coincidental, like him having a moustache. The things he did, he did because he wanted to secure his own dominance, not because he was an atheist. This is proved by the fact that Stalin aligned himself with the Russian Orthodox Church when it suited him.

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Post Post #320  (isolation #38)  » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:45 am

Yosarian2 wrote:No, it's not just because it didn't suit him personally, or politically; it's becaue, like any good communist, he believed religion was the opiate of the masses and something that had to go in order for society to advance. Religion being bad was a part of his belief system he acted on, just as much as non-believers being bad was part of the belief system the Spanish Inquisitors acted on.

But anyway, we're straying from the point here, I think we already had this thread, heh.


First up, I need to correct a very common misconception in your post. The "opiate of the masses" thing is a very commonly misused quote. It entirely ignores the context of what Marx was saying.

Karl Marx wrote:Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.
...
Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.


Moreover, in Marx's era, opium was not thought of in the manner it is today, as it was often a very important painkiller medicine. Thus, in truth, what Marx was really saying is that religion is a natural form of escapism from oppression (a "painkiller"), rather than the "dangerous drug" we associate opiate with. In context, Marx was talking about religion as a natural response to social inequality. Of course, Marx was an atheist, but his view was simply that religion is a symptom of human mentality; he wasn't actually calling for its violent suppression at all.

Now, the point of that long spiel was to show you that anti-religiosity is not intrinsic to communism. Stalin and Mao both, of course, violently suppressed religion but, as I have been said several times, it was neither due to their atheism or their communism but, rather, due to them being megalomaniac dictators, who needed their own personality cults to reign supreme.

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Post Post #327  (isolation #39)  » Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:29 am

To add to what Sarc said (I agree. Surprise, surprise):

Religion's power to exacerbate comes from two things:
1) It's a label. This is obvious and we agree on;
2) The fact that religion teaches that faith and devotion are good things. Religion, and all other worshipful ideologies, inherently lead to extremism because they teach that there is a direct correlation between one's level of commitment and one's level of virtue. How often do we hear the phrase "A person of deep faith" as a compliment?

Of course, the reasons people become extremist are diverse and varied, and is usually not the result of pure ideological commitment (eg. disgruntled and unemployed Muslim youth going to Iraq to fight). However, the fact that religion provides a higher cause makes it a uniquely potent "exacerbater".

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Post Post #330  (isolation #40)  » Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:36 pm

First up, Sangy gets a nice big QFT from me.

Yosarian2, you are correct that the social and political things are the root cause, and I don't think any of us would disagree with you.

Using Northern Ireland again,
You're correct in that it is social and political problems at the foundation, but they identified themselves as "Catholic" and "Protestant" and they have done so throughout the conflict. Hence, whilst the conflict is political in nature, it has become inextricably tied to the religious identity.

It is a moot point as to whether the conflict would have been as severe as it was had purely political labels been used. I mean, the labels "Republican" and "Unionist" are not quite so potent and, moreover, cannot be used to separate as much of the population. Children can be called "Catholic" (though they shouldn't be) but it makes less sense to call a child "Republican". The religious labels perpetuate it by driving a deeper wedge into the society and, moreover, carry the emotional baggage of religious persecution.


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