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 #25  (isolation #0)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 12:14 pm

Of course, Stoofer.

Oh, unless you're talking about countries that aren't theocracies. Then no (although I find it hilarious that Vatican City endorses evolution).

Seriously, people need to learn more before they proclaim themselves super-clever goddamn scientists who are capable of dismissing hundreds of years of evidence simply because they think the idea that humans are related to other animals is weird.

Evolution is a fact. It's really that simple. I'm sorry, IH, but you're simply ignorant if you think otherwise. I'm not saying that as an insult, but simply as a statement of fact that you clearly do not know enough about biology to make an educated judgment.
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Post Post #30  (isolation #1)  » Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:34 pm

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.
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Post Post #43  (isolation #2)  » Wed Sep 26, 2007 12:08 am

GRAVITY IS A MYTH! It's only a theory! I choose not to believe that we are bound to the earth like mere apes! We have airplanes, ergo gravity is not real. I DON'T BELIEVE IN SCIENCE BECAUSE I DON'T FEEL LIKE IT. I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE THAT HUNDREDS OF YEARS OF EVIDENCE PLUS COMMON SENSE IS COMPLETELY WRONG, AS I CONSIDER MYSELF AMONG THE PREMIER PHYSICISTS IN THE WORLD! RAWR!
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Post Post #61  (isolation #3)  » Wed Sep 26, 2007 9:45 pm

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).

Francis Collins may be a smart biologist, and I'm sure he does a great job of sticking to the scientific method in his research, but he's clearly decided that he doesn't actually need reason in the rest of his life, because his religious views are just as nonsensical and based on wishful thinking and blind faith as anyone's. What the hell does he mean by "revelation", by the way? Last time I checked, that was not a logical term.

Faith is nothing more than believing in something simply because you want it to be true, or because for some other reason you are unwilling to admit that you don't actually have any good reason to believe it. Why have faith in a particular brand of Christianity, out of all the ones that are out there? Why not have faith in Islam or Judaism or Hinduism or Shinto or Zoroastrianism or Pastafarianism or the Invisble Pink Unicorn or a goddamn teapot rotating around the sun? None of these beliefs are based on any sort of reason - they're all equally nonsensical. People are taught to believe and/or they desperately want to believe them, so they tone out all evidence against them or even the simple question of "What reason do I have to believe this?", instead bullheadedly insisting that they are true against all odds. Isn't it a bit odd that people tend to believe in the same religion as their parents and the other people in their community? I guess it's just a lucky coincidence that you were born into the correct religion, or at least the correct country. But then, I'm sure if you had been born in India or Saudi Arabia, you'd be just as devout a Christian, right?

The supernatural does not exist, but if you want to believe in it, I don't care. I just really hate that quote, because every time I see it I'm reminded of how irrational people are, to the point where they're willing to assert blatantly untrue things in order to lie to themselves that their beliefs make sense. It's a lie and an insult to science and reason.

I don't really have a problem with the other quote, though. :wink:

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.
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Post Post #64  (isolation #4)  » Wed Sep 26, 2007 10:09 pm

I know the definition of "revelation", I just don't really understand how it makes any sense in the context of that quote. How can revelation be added to reason to make faith? It's complete nonsense.
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Post Post #67  (isolation #5)  » Wed Sep 26, 2007 11:19 pm

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote: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).

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.


Sorry, but that's a different definition of faith from the one I'm used to. I'm using a definition along the lines of "firm belief in something for which there is no proof", of which the Christian God or any other supernatural being is a great example. There's plenty of reason to believe that the supernatural does not exist, and none that it does. To me, that makes faith pretty irrational.

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

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.


I think there's a clear difference between the generic use of the word "revelation" and the religious use, even if they're obviously related. The religious use of revelation is unscientific - it doesn't depend upon reason but upon subjective experience. If I see a burning bush that isn't consumed by the fire, yes, I might be tempted to draw a lot of conclusions from that, and I wouldn't want to discard it entirely. But should I theoretically discard it entirely? If I can't repeat it, and if the evidence shows me that it's impossible that such a thing could happen, then yes, I should. One cannot base one's understanding of the world on a unconfirmable miracle.

Of course, that nicely avoids the more important point, which is that miracles never have and never will happen (using the traditional "impossible happening" definition, not the lame "everything kind of nice" definition). Now, I obviously can't prove that they've never happened, but the burden of proof is on you and our entire understanding of the world is pretty good evidence against you, so I suppose that's where faith comes in.

In any case, I'm still not sure where Collins' use of the world "revelation" fits in here. Is he saying that to have faith, one must have seen a miracle? I assume not, but I don't really see a better way of interpreting it, if he thinks that revelation is a necessary component of faith.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:Faith is nothing more than believing in something simply because you want it to be true, or because for some other reason you are unwilling to admit that you don't actually have any good reason to believe it.

I'm not entirely sure why you think it's important to construe faith this way. I sense much anger in you, young Skywalker.


I think it's important to make it clear that that's all faith is. People like to talk about it as if it's some admirable thing to "have faith", but I don't understand why irrationality is considered a virtue. To me, the concept of faith sums up pretty well a lot of what is wrong with people in general. There are just so many horrible things in the world that come from this sort of blind belief (not just in religion, but in other things people blindly believe).

And yeah, I was a bit angry, because I tend to get angry when I talk about religion. I admit that parts of my post were kind of rude, but I'm glad you responded civilly, which is a lot better than most people would do. I did notice that you completely avoided my questions about why you have faith in the things you have faith in, though.
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Post Post #83  (isolation #6)  » Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:51 pm

vollkan wrote: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.


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".
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Post Post #94  (isolation #7)  » Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:04 pm

Thesp wrote:
Sarcatro wrote:Sorry, but that's a different definition of faith from the one I'm used to. I'm using a definition along the lines of "firm belief in something for which there is no proof", of which the Christian God or any other supernatural being is a great example.

I'm intrigued by what you mean by "proof". There is evidence that suggests God exists - while it might not rise to your standards of "proof", I am uncertain that any such experience would.


Well, I'm not sure I want to get into specific arguments for the existence or non-existence of God. There really is no scientific evidence for God's existence, though, and Occam's Razor and the burden of proof both point towards assuming that God doesn't exist.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:The religious use of revelation is unscientific - it doesn't depend upon reason but upon subjective experience.

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.


The generic meaning of revelation is just "the act of revealing" or "something that is revealed". While I suppose it's true to say that it's not necessarily scientific, neither is it expressly un-scientific the way that accepting a subjective experience as proof of God is.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:If I see a burning bush that isn't consumed by the fire, yes, I might be tempted to draw a lot of conclusions from that, and I wouldn't want to discard it entirely. But should I theoretically discard it entirely? If I can't repeat it, and if the evidence shows me that it's impossible that such a thing could happen, then yes, I should. One cannot base one's understanding of the world on a unconfirmable miracle.

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.)


Well if you're making the argument that there are lots of experiences so God is real, that's pretty different from just taking your experience as proof, which is how I originally understood your use of the word "revelation". However, now you're just getting into taking lots of anecdotal evidence. I personally haven't heard of many of these other "experiences", but what exactly is there to separate them from stories of ghosts or aliens or any other phenomenon in which many people believe without any solid proof?

You're right, it is prudent to examine and compare the experience, and I won't lie: if something like that happened to me, I'd be likely be tempted to create a supernatural explanation for it. I certainly hope, however, that my rational mind would prevail: if these experiences can't even be satisfactorally documented, let alone repeated and tested, how can I possibly accept them as evidence for the supernatural?

That's not even getting to the issue of why a burning bush would cause me to specifically believe in God - a more likely explanation in my mind is that I've stumbled across a really awesome magic bush.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:Of course, that nicely avoids the more important point, which is that miracles never have and never will happen (using the traditional "impossible happening" definition, not the lame "everything kind of nice" definition).

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


My understanding of the concept of miracles is that they're supposed to be an impossible event caused through some kind of divine intervention - your burning bush example, water into wine, parting the Red Sea, etc. This is simply opposed to the casual "childbirth is a miracle" kind of usage that some people like to use. My contention is simply that no miracle of the former sort has ever happened, on account of them being impossible and all.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:Now, I obviously can't prove that they've never happened, but the burden of proof is on you and our entire understanding of the world is pretty good evidence against you, so I suppose that's where faith comes in.

I agree the burden of proof is on me. I disagree strongly that "our entire understand of the world is pretty good evidence against [me]", and I'm not sure where it comes from.


I'm not sure how you could disagree that our entire understanding of the world is against miracles happening. That's almost what they are by definition. It certainly wouldn't be impressive if God set a bush on fire, only to have it actually burn, would it? If you're going to claim that things that by definition go against our whole scientific understanding of the world, you need proof.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:In any case, I'm still not sure where Collins' use of the world "revelation" fits in here. Is he saying that to have faith, one must have seen a miracle?

Since I'm not really sure what your definition of miracle is, I can't answer you precisely. I do indeed say that informed faith involves revelation of God to a person - whether direct experience or indirect experience.


I don't have much to say about this - I'm not really in a position to give an alternate opinion of what "informed faith" requires, seeing as how it's a nonsensical concept to me.

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:I think it's important to make it clear that that's all faith is. People like to talk about it as if it's some admirable thing to "have faith", but I don't understand why irrationality is considered a virtue.

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?


How can faith not involve irrationality? Do you have another definition of irrationality? As far as I can see, choosing to believe something against all scientific evidence - even if you think you've seen a miracle - is irrational. To say it goes hand-in-hand with reason, well, I'm not even sure how to respond to that. Do you think the scientific method leads us to believe that God exists? Do you have a different method that you believe is more rational than the scientific method?

I'm not trying to pigeonhole people as anything. I simply have never been given an example of rational religious belief, and I contend that it is by definition impossible. You really haven't done anything to change my mind; as intelligently as you argue, you've haven't really given me a good, rational reason for your beliefs. Why do you believe in God?

Thesp wrote:
Sarcastro wrote:I did notice that you completely avoided my questions about why you have faith in the things you have faith in, though.

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.


Well, I suppose that's something of an answer to that last question. (though not really what my original question was asking for - I'll get to that in a second). Obviously I can't say much about any encounters with God, though I'd defy you to show me how believing in subjective experience over scientific knowledge is rational. As for the similar experiences - well, people lie, people are crazy, and, most commonly, people are inclined to interpret things to mean what they want them to mean. Again, I don't really know what sorts of experiences we're talking about here, but I strongly doubt that they lack scientific explanations. As for your contemplative introspection, I don't really see any reason to take your word for it when you say that it's rational. Your conclusions are your own, but unless you give me a good reason to accept them, I don't know why I should believe that they're rational conclusions.

In any case, all this doesn't quite address my original question, which I can rephrase now that I know exactly what denomination you are. Why are you a Methodist as opposed to, say, a Baptist? An Anglican? A Catholic? A Muslim? A Jew? A Buddhist? A Hindu? A Zoroastrian? A Norse Pagan? A Shintoist? A Rastafarian? A Pastafarian? And so on and so forth. Further, I'm assuming that you were born into a Methodist family and/or community. If I'm correct in assuming that, don't you think it's a bit of a coincidence that you happened to born where you were, rather than, say, India? If you were born in India, do you think you would have still become a Methodist? I'm assuming that you think being born in India would not actually have changed the reality of the world, so if you'd been born in India, Methodism would still have been the correct religion, right? Do you believe that you are favoured by God, and that is why you were born into a place where Methodism is frequently practiced? In any of your encounters with God, did he explicitly say that you were to be a Methodist? Do you know for sure that they were encounters with a Methodist/Christian/Monotheistic god and not, say, Shiva or Loki or Ra or Sun Wukong or Veles or Belobog or Athena or Amaterasu or Anansi? I apologise if any of these questions sound stupid or patronising, but I'm seriously just trying to understand exactly why you believe what you believe and not something else. I've never gotten a straight answer out of a Christian with these sorts of questions ("It's just faith" being the most popular), so I'd appreciate it if I finally got one now.
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Post Post #244  (isolation #8)  » Fri Oct 19, 2007 2:40 pm

Earth is not a closed system, and you're completely misunderstanding the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Then again, you're probably doing so intentionally. It's hard to tell with you.
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Post Post #295  (isolation #9)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:15 pm

Eh, that article said some weird things. How can you blame Stalin's atheism for anything? He never even claimed to be motivated by atheism, he was just totally ruthless. If you want to say that that was because of his atheism, well, okay (though I don't think there's any evidence for that besides the idea that atheists are evil), but the purges still weren't motivated by atheism by any stretch of the imagination. Stalin did what he did because he was ruthless, not because he was crazy (like, say, Hitler). So no, I don't think it's equivalent to people saying that you can't say there's something wrong with religion because all the genocidal maniacs weren't "true Christians/Muslims/whatever".

It was totally worth reading, though, for this:

Image
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Post Post #301  (isolation #10)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:17 pm

Social darwinism doesn't really have anything to do with atheism, first of all. One can obviously be an atheist without being a social darwinist, and one can be a social darwinist without being an atheist. Even then, though, exactly how many people have social darwinists killed? Even in the heyday of eugenics, sterilisation was the method they used. There has not, to my knowledge, ever been any genocide perpetrated because of someone's social darwinism. Yes, a certain amount of social darwinist justification might exist (in the sense of "this race is genetically inferior"), but the underlying causes completely separate, and I think it'd be difficult to find a genocide that wouldn't have happened had the perpetrators not espoused those sorts of ideas.

The thing about not viewing people as having intrinsic worth is that if you're killing them, you probably don't believe that anyway, regardless of any religious beliefs. Sure, Christians and Muslims are taught that all people have intrinsic worth, but those passages are right next to the ones telling you to stone the gays. Some religious people might believe that every life truly is sacred, but in general, religious people are just as capable of deciding that lives don't have any value. Further, the worst viewpoint possible from atheism is really just neutral - that it doesn't matter if you kill someone. I have trouble thinking of an atheist justification for believing that someone is intrisically bad, that is, that their lives actually have a negative intrinsic value. There are plenty of examples of this sort of thinking among the religious.

Hitler was a devout Catholic until his death. It's kind of difficult to hate the Jews if you believe that they're the same as everybody else. I'm not really sure where this idea that Hitler was an atheist came from, but it's pretty easy to see from Hitler's speeches and Mein Kampf that he believed the Holocaust was "the Lord's work".

Machiavelli was a Catholic, too, but I'm sure you knew that. And yes, some atheists do believe that monstrous selfishness is a good thing (*coughaynrandcough*), but even they don't generally go around promoting genocide.
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Post Post #311  (isolation #11)  » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:03 pm

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.

Seol, you're basically correct about religious conflict usually having other important factors, such as tribalism and inequity, but it's important to note that religion is one of the things that causes tribalism and inequity. It's easy to say, for example, that the religious conflict in Nothern Ireland is really a class issue, but that would ignore the fact that the whole reason the class issue exists is discrimination against Catholics.

And religion can exacerbate issues that would otherwise be smaller. Just look at Spanish history. Does the Reconquista happen if instead of the Moors you have other Christians? Probably not, considering just how long it took. That peninsula-wide split doesn't last that long if there aren't too opposing religions there.

You're right that one can't just point to say, the Crusades, and say "look what religion caused", because it's not always that simple. Neither, though, does that excuse religion from fault.
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Post Post #326  (isolation #12)  » Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:14 am

About Northern Ireland - yes, Seol, it's a very complicated situation with both political and religious causes. And yes, I'd even agree that it's more a political issue than a religious one. As for what caused what, well, you can go all the way back and say it was ultimately caused by the Pope not granting Henry VIII the divorce he wanted. The religious and political causes are clearly linked, and I think we both agree on this point.

The real issue when we're talking about these sorts of issues is what exactly is grounds for blaming something on religion. Ultimately, I think the issue is whether or not the concept of religion is helpful to humanity as a whole. At least, that's the basis I'm working from. So in, say, Northern Ireland, what would it be like without religion? Well, there wouldn't be such a huge divide between the pro-English and pro-Irish, for one thing, because those labels, as I touched on with my Reconquista comments, are maintained by the religious differences. The English are Protestant and the Irish are Catholic. We both agree that this isn't a coincidence. What I'm trying to point out is that the reason they divide themselves is because of religion. Yes, the political issue is the one that actually matters to most people, but without the religious difference, the political issue would be a lot tamer, because the Irish and English identities would be a lot less clearly defined.

The problem here, I think, is that you're looking at it exclusively from a "what does religious philosophy cause?" point of view (or at least it seems that way to me). That's fine, but we should make it clear if we're arguing about different things here. My point is simply that the labels and divisions religions create independent of their actual doctrines and philosophies are huge problems. Does it matter that Hezbollah is a Muslim organisation rather than a Christian one? Not in a philosophical sense, no. You could switch Christianity and Islam throughout the world and it would make no real difference overall. So you're right in that sense - Islamic fundamentalists are primarily an expression of political problems, like the fact that people in the Middle East aren't huge fans of Western nations for various reasons. But the fact that religion exists in general is what allows Muslim fundamentalists to exist. It exacerbates pre-existing problems greatly - there would still be problems without it, but the problems we have now could not exist without religion.
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