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Discussion > Off-Topic > The Aye of Faith

The Aye of Faith

Ben (August 24th, 2002, 2:25 am)

Bug alert, Cruise! Semirrahge's title (I assume it's the quotation marks) makes it impossible to reply to his thread. Nevertheless, I have a great post written up, and I don't feel like waiting for it to be corrected, so I'll copy and paste his post before mine.

Semi's post

Ben (August 24th, 2002, 2:25 am)

Ok. Lam3n3z alert! :)

I'm pretty interested in hearing this discussion play out - It's been a Long, LONG time since I've heard religion discussed logically. On the DA forums any time religion is brought up it's taken for granted that this give the atheists permission to bash the fundamentalists and anything else they want too. And I'm sorry about the vicious tone here... But try and understand it from my point of view.

I agree with Cruise - for a group that has varied views of religion/faith/God which also happens to be a Sci-Fi/Artist group - we are doing very well. :)

And Ben/Narain - you also have to understand that for those who do believe in faith, a non-faith based mindset is just as hard to understand for them as a faith-based mindset is for you.

One last thing before I shut up: Though I join the ranks with at least one other professing Christian - I am Protestant, and furthermore my beliefs are fairly unique among even other protestants. What these are and why they are unique I will save for later. First I want to see if you guys can do this without blasting me to atoms.

You fool!

Ben (August 24th, 2002, 2:26 am)

Hehe, j/k. :)

I'll try to make this as brief as possible (probably making it completely impenetrable in the process).

Here is the traditional argument for faith: how do know that you'll be able to walk next time you try to? You don't. You just have to assume, to take it on faith. And when you talk to god, how do you know he's actually there? How do you know he isn't just a part of your mind? You just have to take it on faith. When you make that leap, you'll find, through the course of events, that god really did answer, through whatever means, but only if you believe.

Here's the traditional counterargument: How do I know I can walk? Why, from prior experience, of course. From observation. From trial and error.

Here's the countercounterargument that I've never actually heard told but suddenly realized one day: Why is prior experience any indication at all of what will happen in the future? The only reason for believing that it is is prior experience, and that's obviously circular reasoning. There is no reason to believe that the fridge won't explode next time you open it, that the laws of physics won't suddenly change, or, for that matter, that they haven't been continuously been changing, but in such a way as to mask their changes in experiments, or that the experiments have actually been taking place and aren't all just a part of the Matrix, or that the universe wasn't created a millisecond ago, with all your memories intact, and will be destroyed a millisecond hence. There's no reason to believe that not eating will cause you to starve to death, or even that it will make you feel hungry. Yet you continue to eat. You do so on faith, and it's common sense, common sense that the world is as it seems. So if God seems to be talking to me, there's no more reason to believe that he's only a figment of my imagination than to believe that the computer screen in front of me is. Anyone who says otherwise and then goes down to eat a sandwich is a hypocrite.

The countercountercounterargument: he may be a hypocrite, but that doesn't make him wrong. There may be absolutely zero reason to believe the world exists, but that doesn't change the fact that there's still absolutely zero reason to believe that god exists. And, if you put all aside but what is conveyed to you by your senses, then you can conduct statistical analyses that show that god does not intervene through coincidence in the way people think he does, that those are just signals our brain invents out of noise.

aye...

Narainsbrain (August 24th, 2002, 5:43 am)

whoa, ben's far far ahead of me on this. okay, i'll let semi come up with a countercountercountercounterargument(!) before going off on my views.

there is one thing i would like to get clarified, though: which god are we talking about? a God the Creator who originally made the universe, or a God the Benevolent who interferes helping people out in their hour of need? because the watchmaker argument pertains /only/ to a creator god, so let's not bring that up when discussing the validity of praying.

as for the "vicious tone", i think we're all trying to avoid being mean here, but it's not easy, so i guess some reasonable viciousness should be allowed for. i'll try not to mind, so don't worry, you manic fundamentalist bastard. ;D kidding!

k

cruise (August 24th, 2002, 8:24 am)

I'll fix the bug too...this thread will end up being useful in several ways :P

Ben: I agree with pretty much everything you've said :P

There is no such thing as "blind" faith...that's just stupidity, really. Faith is based on, as you say, prior experience.

I believe in a God because of my experience with the world around us. Because of the glaring problems still unsummounted by evolution. Effectively, if evolution isn't true, there isn't much of a choice left.

I know I'm discussing the "watchmaker" God here, but that's because it's the logical first step. This is why I believe there is a God of some kind. After that, we can discuss what kind of God he is...

I believe in the existance of a God, because I don't believe evolution is a satisfactory explanation for the existence of life as it exists on this planet. That is my "evidence" if you will.

As Ben also said, however, all bets are off if we cannot trust our senses to be accurate. But then, nothing else is believable either, and we end up with a degenerate mess pretty quickly. It's also unprovable one way or the other. For the discussion to have any kind of rational basis, or even a point, we need to assume that prior experience is genuine and trustworthy.

In that case, it's clear that God does not exist :)

Ben (August 24th, 2002, 4:42 pm)

Well, that's an overstatement. But I do think there isn't sufficient evidence.

1. Even if the odds of life arising on a planet and evolving into intelligent beings are miniscule, even if there are glaring problems with evolution as currently presented, the universe is infinite (or very, very large). Intelligent life has to arise somewhere, just on the basis of pure chance.

2. Speaking as a born-and-bred evolutionist, I don't think there are glaring problems with current theory. Evolution is a very modern, informationally complex theory that can seem counterintuitive at first, but I think it holds together well and explains things adequately.

Of course, even if evolution is correct, there's nothing to stop you from believing in a watchmaker god (though I can think of several non-inclusive counterarguments; for example, we would most likely need to be living in the best of all possible worlds -- which is possible, I'm not saying it's not).

Incidentally, you guys might be interested in an idea I posted on the Halfbakery, the debate engine. Soon as I learn javascript (I already know Python, but not quite well enough to program the web with it) I'm going to make it and it's going to be cool as hell. :)

Well.

Semirrahge (August 24th, 2002, 9:14 pm)

I had a nearly perfect (and huge) reply written up... But then my connection went and died on me and somehow IE blew my data away... Grr.

I'm too mad now to do this all again, so I'll be brief. You'll all hear it eventually anyhow. :)

Narain, I appreciate that - I somehow figured that in spite of your close-minded athiestic mindset you'd understand. :)

Ben, you are absolutely correct. If God created the world, it'd be perfect. Everyone knows the Adam/Eve/Sin thing, so I won't go into it all here. But my point is that God has to be Creator and Father for it to work.

This is where Christianity fails to sync with evolution. It seems fairly obvious that Entropy rules, not Evolution. Crudely put, evolution states that if you put a lump of dirt outside it will eventually become a diamond. Excuse me, but that seems a bit close to getting something for nothing. The only time you get that is when dealing with humans, not science. There's not room for expansion. The universe only has room for what matter is contained within it, nothing more. You all understand this, even better, I'm sure, than I do. It reeks of Perpetual Motion.

If Occam's Razor it true, then Evolution is wrong because it's far to complex. In order for it to fit perfectly, you must go through all sorts of mental gymnastics and fancy reasoning that often borders on insanity. I remember reading somewhere that one theory on the origin of life was that an alien spacecraft visited prehistoric earth, and while it was here, some trash fell out and remained, from which life arose. So it's not enough that we are descended (and that's also funny. Shouldn't it be ASCENDED?), from primordial ooze, but now we are descended from galactic litter?

Ok. My first draft was not mean in any way... Sorry.

As I was saying, Creation fits perfectly and requires no stretches - except for the fact that it's too simple. And, too, people don't want to talk about God because He's so big and huge and everything that it requires something from you in order to admit His existence.

Granted, not everyone belives in a literal, seven 24-hour day creation (I'm not sure I do, because I think that at some point time did not exist, but this is primarily semantic pedantry.), and I'd not be suprised if Cruise was of the belief (not uncommon in more liberal circles) that God used a form of pseudo-evolution, where He built the world and flipped a switch. This leads to all kinds of strange arguments - but I'll hold off until I hear from him. :)

I think I rambled a lot more in this one, but... Man. I'm still frustrated with this stupid computer. :)

I'd like to also ask if there is anything that I do that any of you think does not fit with your idea of what "christians" should or should not do... It's something I've always been curious about. Oh, and I actually resent the term "fundamentalist" because that generally infers that I'm close-minded and so old fashioned that I believe women should walk around wearing total-body veils.

And I think most of you should agree that I'm not like that. Right? :)

Right.

Ben (August 25th, 2002, 12:40 am)

I try not to stereotype christians; there are so many, with so many different beliefs. I still disagree, though. :)

It seems fairly obvious that Entropy rules, not Evolution.

Evolution and entropy are not in contradiction, for two reasons. Here is the commonly quoted 2nd law of thermodynamics:

In a closed system, for any process entropy must increase or remain the same.

First: The earth is not a closed system -- energy enters it, and energy can reverse entropy in some areas (while increasing it in others).

Second: Entropy is not totally synonimous with disorder, nor is it the enemy of information, of content, of life and intelligence and complexity. I'll copy and paste something I posted awhile back in one of Narain's rough draft threads:

Pretend you have one of those "Store of Knowledge" type gizmos consisting of a bit of water and multicolored sand between two thin sheets of glass, placed in a framework that allows it to be turned upside down. The sand is all together, neatly arranged in perfectly straight bands of decreasing luminosity, with the water above it (and perhpaps a thin layer of air above that). It's okay to look at, but nothing special. It's also a very low entropy system.

Now turn it upside down. The sand floats from what is now the top through the water, with the different colors (which, you see now, are also different sizes of grain) falling at slightly different speeds. Entropy! The patterns traced by the sand are complex, beautiful. The finishing swirls as the final grains settle are cool-looking. The perfectly straight lines are replaced with intreaging, complex, non-random patterns generated by the interacting particles as they fell. Complexity has increased.

If you shake the gizmo enough, perhaps the sand will mix together completely, leaving a uniform sludge: entropy's maximum destroys complexity--but so does entropy's minimum; there wasn't much that was interesting in the set of parallel sand bands.

States of very high and very low entropy often have much in common. In the beginning, the universe (under current theories) was in a state of total non-entropy, an ultadense, completely uniform pinprick in which all mass and energy were concentrated. The big bang occured, the turning upside down of the gizmo, and the matter and energy (the universe itself, to be more precise) exploded outward, degrading entropically but at the same time increasing in complexity. In the end, trillions of years hence, the universe will approach the uniform sludge of the overshaken gizmo; in the meantime, there are beautiful sand patters: atoms, galaxies, stars, planets, Earth, life, and people.

Complexity arises all the time from random processes; it's not perpetual motion, it's simply how the universe works, by virtue of the fact that patterns that survive and reproduce themselves are naturally more present, and complex patterns have, at times, quite a tendancy to survive and reproduce themselves. One need only play around with the game of "Life" (the one where dots on a grid are influenced by surrounding dots in consecutive generations) to see complex patterns conveying complex information arise out of random static, to see diamonds coalesce from coal.

If Occam's Razor it true, then Evolution is wrong because it's far to complex.

Occam's Razor states that if two theories cannot be distinguished form one another in terms of empirical predictions, the one that requires the fewest assumptions is probably correct. Evolution requires that we assume only what we can see: physical laws and their effects, playing out over long scales of time. Creationism requires the assumption of a supreme being.

To put it another way, it's quite simple to say that God makes it rain and much more complex to talk about how the very top layer of ocean water evaporates (nonsense! everyone knows only boiling water becomes vapor! :) and travels over to the land in the form of clouds and then turns back into liquid water and falls down. Nevertheless, occam's razor states that the second explanation is better.

In order for it to fit perfectly, you must go through all sorts of mental gymnastics and fancy reasoning that often borders on insanity.

Not in my opinion. It's quite logical and straightforward once you wrap your brain around it.

And, too, people don't want to talk about God because He's so big and huge and everything that it requires something from you in order to admit His existence.

Not just that -- science has a long tradition of assuming that if god exists, he doesn't interfere with nature in any way. 200 years ago, it was common to say that God causes birds to fly; know we know how they work, and, in fact, can duplicate those workings to a certain extent, creating flying machines of our own.

IE blew my data away

Egads, I hate it when that happens. (Make sure you have your cache settings on "automatic"; sometimes it helps.)

Juicy stuff :D

cruise (August 25th, 2002, 4:15 pm)

I see Semi's already fallen into the entropy trap :P

It is very true that the Earth is not a closed system. And that randomness can create complex patterns and effects. However, complexity is not life. Or more specifically, is not /information/.

One need only play around with the game of "Life" (the one where dots on a grid are influenced by surrounding dots in consecutive generations) to see complex patterns conveying complex information arise out of random static, to see diamonds coalesce from coal.

Indeed, it's very complex and fascinating. But it's only information when something that understands the complexity is looking at it. It isn't information in and of itself.

A book written in French /could/ be information. But not to me, because I don't understand French. If I hit keys randomly on my keyboard, it's likely I will generate with reasonable regularity a genuine word of some language somewhere (assuming a Roman alphabet, obviously). But without knowing that language, it's meaningless.

Amino acids and proteins have been shown to form under naturally occuring conditions. They tend not to be very stable (lifespan of seconds) under the conditions thought to have existed on pre-life earth, but we'll ignore that for now. Even given the outstandingly miniscule chance of everything forming together into a valid strain of RNA (currently hypothesised to have been used before DNA was evolved), you're still lacking anything that /understands/ it.

This brings in the next part of my argument. "Irreducible Complexity". In other words, no system can be reduced below a minimum number of components and still function. Having one or two is no good. Everything needs to be in the same place at the same time.

The minimum number of components needed for a functioning /and/ self-replicating (no good if just dies out) living cell is very large. The chemistry required to produce the various parts is disperate, and the lifespans very short outside of a cell. It is not a matter of simple chance, chucking a die lots of times until you get the number you want. There is simply no way under the known laws of physics and chemistry you could have all the parts of even the simplest living organism being spontaneously generated at the same point in time and space.

I'll say that again. It is not a matter of just randomness. This is a damn big universe, and if it was purely fluke and co-incidence required, it would happen eventually, I admit. But it isn't.

As a smaller example of that point, if you study the chemistry of a cell, you'll find all it's molecules (like amino acids) are left-handed. By that, I mean you'll only ever find one side of the possible mirror image pair. Any natural chemical reaction, however, produces both types of molecule equally. If it was down to chance, we'd be using a mixture of amino acids "handedness".

There's more, but that will do for now :P

Religion, indeed.. :-þ

Hellkeepa (August 25th, 2002, 7:03 pm)

HELLo!

Well, it seems as what started as a discussion about religion has, strangely enough, evolved into a discussion about science.

Well done! ;-þ

So why don't I bring it back on topic, with something I've been thinking about saying since I saw this thread. ;-) But first let me answer on some of the things that have been said here, and that I feel is a bit "blurry".

Ben has a lot of good arguments, but the bit about why we eat is a bit wrong: We eat because we get hungry, not because we know that we will. A small, but important difference. We know that we need to eat because it's coded in our genes, as it's coded in the genes of every living thing, and the bodys method of letting us know that we need to stock up on energy and building materials is to get hungry. (I'm sure you know, but just forgot it for a second while thinking.)

What also seem to be in the center of your thoughts when it comes to this is "faith" and "God", and what "faith" is. As far as I can understand faith is simply the ability to believe in something without solid evidence for it, such as faith in love or one's ability to do something new.

Walking is not faith, it's experience as you said Ben, and experience has little to do with faith except when the experience is a result from the faith. (I know it sounds complex, but bear with me.) However, experience is a totally personal definition, so what one does claim to be experice (and therefore) proof of something another person may disregard. Based upon his/hers personal perception.

What it buils down to is that faith is something extremely personal, and is not (easily) undertandable for those who doesn't share the same perception.

A good example to this would be the sentence "God have to exist, becauase he speaks to me." As you see, very personal, but understandable and "true" to one that shares the same perception.

Thus what is "God" is also a personal definition; A definition not shared by those who don't share the faith in him, but can be discussed between those who do.

I think I'll stop here, before I wander totally off the topic and/or loose you guys & gal. ;-)

Before I stop I'd like to comment a bit on what Semirrahge said about us, and how "mellow" we are considering the huge variation that we represent. I think it is because we are quite sentient persons, and we have respect for what others believe. Thus we are not afraid of difference, but as we're different from the mold ourself we've grown to accept that difference is imporant, and that we should be proud of both our own, and other people's, differences.

We do not preach to one and another either, we openly discuss what we believe and want to learn what the others does, without trying to enforce our vision upon them.

In short, we could make very good Buddists. ;-)

You may wonder about my position in religion and such, and it's pretty simple really:

I can't say that I believe in God, or any other gods/divine entities. But I can't rule it out either, since there has been no proof of one or the other. We have neither all the answers, or even a fraction of them, on how the world exists and why there is life. In fact I'm pretty sure that the knowledge we do think we have is so flawed that it can't really be used, our minds are simply too inferior to comprehend the mystery of this universe.

The summary would be that I don't believe in anything, and that I percieve the reason for why we exists (as individuals as well) as pure chance, or good/bad luck if you'd like. I have no purpose with my life, other that what my genes and what my brain has convinced me to. However, that doesn't mean I should just lie down and die, that would be a waste of such good luck. ;-D

Feel free to comment upon anything you like. ;-)

Happy fraggin'!

Well...

Semirrahge (August 26th, 2002, 2:02 am)

First, Evolution:

This is what happens when I discuss things from my non-scientist point of view with people who think like scientists. The earth is not closed, yes - but the universe is likely to be. The earth is PART of a closed system. Like a brain in the body. I think it's the conservation of energy thing. You can only have as much of one thing as you started out with. TANSTAAFL.

And the definition I used for Entropy was the tendency for everything to eventually decay into a uniform state of chaos. This is what Cruise was trying to say, I think, though I could not follow it very well. :) The point is while it does become complex, just because it's complex does not mean it's more sophisticated. Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" is arguably more complex than Handel's "Water Music", but anyone can write chaos.

If you take 256 colors, select a few and distribute them a certain way, you come up a certain way. However, if you pour all them in together, the level of chaos rises to where the level of complexity actually drops - because all you have is white. One bit.

I am having trouble explaining this... Your point is that chaos creates patterns randomly, but you can't get a more complex pattern than what you already had to start with, only different. Complexity arises from interference with the natural flow of things.

Take A.I. for another example. The program cannot "evolve" any more than can a fish in a fish tank. The closed system prevents it not only from knowing that it's missing things, but it also prevents it from thinking along those lines, as well. It does not have the ablility to think outside itself.

Granted, evolution is supposed to be a purely genetic endeavor... But, I don't want to get into all that ATM.

Religion... I knew at least one of you HAD to be all existential... It's more fun talking with you types than with athiests - you'll at least listen. Athiests just call you names. :) Anyhow... And suddenly my brain stopped working and I forgot everything I was going to say. Oh well.

Maybe I'll point out that the Biblical definition of faith is "The substance of things hoped for; The evidence of things not seen." Which, incidentally, is quite poetic if you think about it. :)

And I'll also mention, since you've all been so nice (I'm going to see how far I can push you :P), that I believe in a literal Heaven and Hell, as well as spiritual beings aside from God. And I have all kinds of fun logic about that, but it's getting into metaphysical theology and that's rather more off-topic.

One last thing I'd like to say, which a friend pointed out; Ben, is not wrapping yourself around something part of gymnastics? I said you had to perform mental gymnastics to accept evolution, and you said that you could understand it once you've worked at understanding it. I think you agreed with me. :)

Well...

Seabhag (August 26th, 2002, 2:58 am)

Well hello,

Cannot say that I have read much else what is around here and cannot say that I know many of you. However, Semirrahge pointed me in the direction of this forum and I thought I should post a few thoughts/comments. But Semi also thought that I should post a little about who I am first since in his words you all are a pretty "close-knit group. They might not like you just jumping in cold." I met Semirrahge IRL about a year ago and have kept in contact with him ever since. And from time to time have even perused his stories for him before he posts them. I'm 22 and a Print shop Foreman's Assistant. I also have 3 years training as an Electrical apprentice, 2 years a Bindery Foreman, and studied law shortly. I've also been a computer geek for about 15 years now since my parents got their first computer. So that's just a little about me and my background (oh yeah.. should probably include that I used to be a real bookworm, finally got wheels again so I can start going back to the library hehe there goes my weekends..)

First of all it seems that this did indeed descend into a discussion of science. Well, if there is a God (I am somewhat biased in that I do believe that there is one but I'll try to be as empirical as I can be) and He did create the Universe then He also created science. Not science as we think of it. But, "Science," that is... The way that everything works together with all of what we think of as quarks and anomalies (by the way, please pardon my spelling, I am a technological geek, not an english major) in what used to be a smoothly working system. Sorry... I think I kinda got sidetracked there but I think what I should say to wrap up point one is that in a discussion regarding the existence or none existence of God that we will need to look for as many evidences as we can one way or the other to attempt to "prove" or "disprove" His existence.

Second, Ah… Entropy that much quoted much more misunderstood concept.. Many people mistakenly think that Entropy is the “simple” descent of order into chaos. Ah, but the snowflake will prove them wrong. The snowflake is MUCH more complex then the water droplet. But what IS entropy then? It is the acquisition or loss of Energy. More energy does not always make more complex. Let us take the snowflake for our example. Millions upon Millions of these have occurred over human history (however long that actually may be) and it is said (though never proven) that no one snowflake is alike because unique conditions effect the creation of each snowflake. These are increadably complex specimens of the lowest stage of water. Steam, Liquid, Ice. Steam has more Energy (in the form of heat) then Liquid does. And in turn Liquid has more Energy then Ice does. Unfortunatly many people quote the Second Law of Thermodynamics but do not quote the first which I believe sets the definition for the Second Law. The First Law (or Rule as some say not wanting to set something down as definite till they know everything) says “The Total Energy of the System plus the Surroundings is Constant. To break it down it means that you can’t get any more energy out of a system then you put into it. Okay I cheated at this next point. I wanted to make sure that I had the definition of the First and Second Laws down pat… But in doing so I came across a very interesting “Introduction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics” ( www.cchem.berkeley.edu/~chem130a/sauer/outline/secondlaw.html ) I’m gonna use a bit of what the outline says right here. The Second Law is concerned with Entropy (S), which is a measure of disorder. The second law says that the Entropy of the Universe increases. An increase in disorder (overall) is therefore spontaneous. If the Volume and energy of a system are constant (my note here: which I’ll discuss shortly), then every change to the system increases the entropy. If volume or energy change, then the entropy of the system can actually decrease. However, the entropy of the universe does not decrease. The molecules in one’s body exist in great order; this only happens because of the entropy of the rest of the universe is increased to a greater amount then the entropy of the body is decreased. (end copy here). So, here we have the Energy is concerved. That is it is not created or destroyed by natural means (we know of know way of doing so at this time at least). So, is the Universe a closed system? Well yes. No matter which viewpoint that has been given so far. From the God does exist side we have “God has created everything and fixed limits.” From the God doesn’t exist side (actually don’t know that that’s what you are really saying but I wanted to make up two sides and it’s getting late and I’m having a hard time being creative.) we have “at least one idea that was thrown out that says that at one point in time all matter/energy that makes up the universe was at a unique point in “Space/Time.” Both agree here that there are set amounts of energy within the system that we call the “Universe.” Therefore the Universe that we live in is a “Closed System.” That means that the Earth though an open system in and of itself it is part of a larger system that is closed. So all the laws that apply to a closed system will apply to the Earth. Okay, anyways… Back to our Snowflake. This snowflake has higher amounts of Energy (heat) at the Steam stage. Lower amounts at the Liquid stage, and even less at the Ice stage. The First Law says that Energy is conserved, and the Second says that the Order of the system tends to decrease (or tends towards Entropy). So the Heat (energy in the snowflake) cannot have been destroyed but must rather go to another place (why we use heatsinks on CPU’s because they pull the heat off working under both the first and second laws.) So the Heat has gone, the amount of Energy in the “system” (water molecule) has decreased. And the water has gone from Steam to Liquid. Then we hit the next stage, the water looses even more heat, and goes to the Ice stage, so the water has lost almost as much energy as we can perceive at this point in time and is at it’s lowest point in the Entropy scale, without energy being injected back into the system the water will stay at that point for an indeterminate length of time.

Um… Okay, I have a 8 to 10 hour drive ahead of me and I’m up about an hour later then I should be to drive safely so I’ll leave the rest of my points till a time that I’m not so tired, and don’t have to drive safe the next day. In the mean time keep your mind open give God a chance and hehe… Drive Safe.

whoa, seabhag!

Narainsbrain (August 26th, 2002, 12:33 pm)

you've gone into more scientific detail than i do... wow, i didn't think that was possible. phew, saves me a lot of trouble. =D

HK: buddhists! *grin* i like that. zen is deeply cool. and when i get a crew cut, i look a lot like a monk myself. heh heh...

as for the deeper phlosophical discussion i see going on here, this is what i've picked up: according to cruise and semi, random processes like evolution can't create sophisticated systems like life and consciousness (two completely unrelated things, by the way) because all they produce is 'white noise', if you will, that carries no information whatsoever. hence the need for a creator god. did i read you right?

to an extent, that's true, but (in my opinion) not the whole truth... first off, granted a truly random process can't draw anything better than a mess of points. but... evolution isn't a truly random process, it's an optimising process. once something good comes out of the random meat generator (heh!), it multiplies like the plague. literally. and soon you have lots more of it overrunning the planet mutating like mad and hopefully getting better at this whole crazy circus of Life.

okay, i got a little carried away over there (when don't i? ;) and now that i think of it, that argument has one fatal flaw - evolution should only produce things that breed fast, not things that build tools, play with fire and post forum threads. but i've got something for that too.

unfortunately, a deeper discussion on this would involve complicated issues of intelligence, knowledge, and worst of all, meaning.

*shudders*

right then, let's get started. i'm not trying to establish that god didn't create life, but that less inspiring things like evolution /could have/, then i'll use occam's razor to pick the theory with the fewer external daemons. so the question is whether random, or 'stupid', things can generate information, or rather 'knowledge'. let's not use the term 'information', since that has a specific meaning in information theory, one in which a random string of bits /does/ constitute information. but it's not organised information, which is what i think cruise meant. you need organisation as well as complexity for, um, coolness. (vocab suggestions welcome. =) so can a stupid program or blind evolution create something, uh, cool? it depends. i can't convince you of this with real evidence, since i don't know of any ai program, evolved or otherwise, with an undisputably significant level of intelligence.

but, i wanted to say, if cool things like us could be produced by blind evolution, then unless you want to be extremely anthropocentric it's evident that things as smart as, or smarter than, us could evolve too. but that doesn't work since evolution itself is in dispute. so what terra firma do i actually have to stand on?

oh yeah, chaos theory. to take a famous example, the mandelbrot set. the mandelbrot set can be drawn by a very low-information program. it is completely defined by a single equation: z -> z2 + c. it is, in this uncompressed ascii form, seven bytes. fifty-six bits of information. less, if you compress it. yet the set itself is fantastically complex. to describe it would exhaust the proverbial thousand words a thousand times over. and it never really repeats itself - to be sure, it does contain miniature replicas of itself strung out on its hair-thin strands, but none of them are exactly like the original, nor is any one like another. they are mathematical snowflakes. there you have it, a prime example of a rich and complex system arising from quite a 'stupid' process. i fear there are quite a few arguments against this conclusion of mine, but i haven't the mental energy to think of and subsequently answer any of them right now. there's one i can touch upon though: cruise's notion of data not being information without someone to 'look at it' and judge it complex. in my opinion, presumably different observers should find the same information equally meaningful, and if so, why not let it be information in itself? i see a parallel between saying that a thing is not there unless you're looking at it, but the connection's tenuous so i won't pursue it.

oh, and about your views, seabhag, i can't say i can refute your idea that god created the universe and the laws of physics. (by the way, the proper term is physics, not science. science is the human endeavour to uncover and understand the laws of physics.) however, if there is a god and he did create the universe, of what significance is it /now/? the only reason we care that there is a god is that we believe (or on the contrary, we do not) that he can affect the present. if god doesn't do anything to the universe any more, it makes no difference whether god made it or it willed itself into existence. the question is academic.

now if he can do anything to the universe now, /that/ is what matters. and /that/ is what, to me, the question of the existence of god is really about.

I see cruise has fallen into the "irreducable complexity" trap. :)

Ben (August 27th, 2002, 2:40 am)

Argh, I don't have enough time to type this up now. Tomorrow, perhaps. Basically, "irreducable complexity" is always reducable to a different function, if that makes sense.

Differnt "Function"?

cruise (August 27th, 2002, 4:39 pm)

So what would be the lesser "function" with respect to a replicating living organism?

There is a minimum set of requirements that /must/ be filled to achieve this goal. And achieving that goal, the way it has been reached currently, has no known chemical or physical solution.

NB: My argument is not that it produces "white noise", but that any kind of complexity requires an observer to give it any kind of meaning. Yes, a fractal is an excellent example of producing complexity from something simple. But it still remains just a string of values without an entity to attach it meaning.

Because of this, I am not arguing /intelligence/ cannot arise spontaneously. Naturally, to believe in the existance of a God, I have to accept the fact that intelligence can exist with no precursor. However, and this is arguably in line with current thinking, nothing can have a meaning without an observer.

The choice becomes, effectively, whether intelligence arose first, and guided everything else (the process is irrelevant, to be honest), or intelligence and information were the end product, breaking several known physical laws to get there.

Doesn't seem much of a choice, y'know?

what is this 'meaning' you speak of, brother?

Narainsbrain (August 28th, 2002, 6:15 am)

i don't have much time, but it seems to me 'meaning', and similarly 'purpose', are concepts /we/ attach to the things we're trying to 'understand'. so it's a tautology that nothing can have meaning without an intelligence to observe it and give it that meaning...

now what i think you've been getting at is that it's easy for stupid processes to create complex information, but not to create intelligent entities to understand the meaning of the information.

i'll take that up later, but one thing i'd like to ask before i go is that why we're now discussing science and philosophy while we were supposed to be discussing religion?

It's all connected -- you can't really discuss one without discussing the others -- at least, not if you're going to have some sort of debate. (Incidentally, I wonder what the limit is for this title box.) Anyway, to post that post I posted about...

Ben (August 28th, 2002, 2:57 pm)

Cruise, it seems like you're making 2 different arguments: 1. It is impossible for consciousness to evolve from purely natural processes, and 2. it is impossible for life to evolve from purely natural consequences. I'll address the second one first, because it's much easier (if a bit less interesting).

Even given the outstandingly miniscule chance of everything forming together into a valid strain of RNA (currently hypothesised to have been used before DNA was evolved), you're still lacking anything that /understands/ it.

Nobody's arguing that a modern cell spontaneously coalesced in the primordial soup -- modern Procariotes (not even mentioning Eucariotes) are highly complex pieces of machienary finely evolved to, well, evolve, with lots of error-correcting mechanisms. What is more likely is an extremely simple organism, probably not worthy of the name "cell", that did not operate using any sort of modern cell-copying mechanism, and was only able to make rough, crude sort of copies of itself (and, in fact, that may be the wrong way to think about it entirely; let's just say, "a weakly-holding-together material that can grow by turning floating material into its own type of material").

(In any case, in an infinite universe, somewhere an entire civilization, let alone a single cell, will come together randomly from atoms - that's undebatable. But, IMHO, life luckily doesn't require those kinds of odds.)

This is a damn big universe, and if it was purely fluke and co-incidence required, it would happen eventually, I admit. But it isn't.

Eh? Why not?

"Irreducible Complexity".

At some point I'll look up some examples in The Blind Watchmaker (I really should buy that book sometime, just so I can quote it easily:) but systems that seem irreducable at first glance can be shown to in fact be reducable. A certain species of tiger, for example, is incapable of catching its prey without the scent of a plant in its habitat to having lured that prey in; the plant, in turn, has no natural defense against herbivores and depends on the tiger to protect it. It seems like an irreducable system, but in fact is not, due to a long and convoluted explanation I'll go into when I'm not at work. :)

Onward to the much more interesting point, with a quick but necessary digression along the way:

The only thing you know about consciousness is that you are conscious. Everybody else, for all you know, could be the equivalent of zombies, with no interior life, no thoughts, biological machines that act exactly like they have intelligence and consciousness (as, of course, they would) but don't actually have it. There is no way to go inside someone else's mind; you can only extrapolate from your own experience and assume (with no evidence at all, as we assume so many things, like the trustworthiness of past experience) that when they act as you would act, they feel as you would feel.

In 50 years time, it's quite possible we'll have a comprehensive theory of how the brain works, how the mind is formed from the base neural arithmatic (which brings up questions of free will, etc., but that's another topic) -- that won't make you any less conscious, and therefore it won't make sense to think of others as machines, though you know that "it's all just mimicry, just arithmetic".

If that sounds a bit circular, it's because it is. :) Nevertheless, I think it gets across the point.

Indeed, it's very complex and fascinating. But it's only information when something that understands the complexity is looking at it. It isn't information in and of itself.

I disagree -- or rather, I agree with the caveat that I think the Life board reads itself; each consecutive generation reads the previous generation. There is no way to draw a line between consciousness and non-consciosness, no way to determine which animals, exactly, have some sort of inner life and which, when processing data are not, under your definition, treating it as information but rather just being a part of the system. Therefore, it makes sense to treat all information processing, by any entity up to and including games of Life as, in fact, information processing, and everything that influences its surroundings in any way as information. When the sun goes Nova, the Earth will read it (following the grammar of Newton) and change its orbit accordingly.

A few more miscellaneous points...

Ben (August 28th, 2002, 3:04 pm)

We eat because we get hungry, not because we know that we will.

How do you know that eating will cause your hunger to abate?

The earth is not closed, yes - but the universe is likely to be. The earth is PART of a closed system. Like a brain in the body. I think it's the conservation of energy thing. You can only have as much of one thing as you started out with. TANSTAAFL.

But lots of natural processes decrease entropy. Overall entropy always increases, since, as you point out, the universe is closed, but locally entropy can and does decrease quite often.

Your point is that chaos creates patterns randomly, but you can't get a more complex pattern than what you already had to start with, only different. Complexity arises from interference with the natural flow of things.

Demonstrably untrue. :) Again, see Life -- start with a very simple pattern, just a couple of bits, and watch it evolve into something very complex -- not in the way a uniform sludge of color is complex (which is to say, not in a non-complex way:) but truly, actually complex. Information has an uncanny way of popping into existence from the void.

Semantics...

Semirrahge (August 29th, 2002, 4:14 am)

Is what this is becoming, I think...

Ben, all of your arguments are twice to three times as complex as mine. You also seem the think that because I think God made the ecosystem that I also think that God makes rain, not precipitation. That is stupid, medieval logic. Christianity does not exclude science. Rather, it welcomes it with open arms.

Science is the search for truth. But how are we to know what is and is not true? Open-minded, non-paranoid (yes, I admit, not all Christians think logically. We are still human, after all) Christians know that nothing is really true unless you have a solid baseline of fact. Without something to compare it to, knowledge is just information. It can't be fact. I mean, if I tell you "air" you are going to wonder what I'm talking about. "Air" by itself means nothing.

What I'm getting at is this. Without a standard basis for thinking, then you will never arrive at the truth except by random accident. I've been hesitant to bring this up, because I feel that it will start a whole new argument, but I think I have to now.

The Bible IS the infallible word of God. Now, you may say, how can it be? It's written by men, it's thousands of years old - all kinds of errors can creep in. Again, this is where faith comes in, as well as logic and some pretty deep theology.

The Bible, in printed form, is just another book. Really. The Word of God, however, is living and eternal in an ineffable and spiritual (that's metaphysical, for you anti-Godders) way. Of course the physical book is not the Word. How can it? Anything physical is by definition imperfect.

Besides, when you take a book that is thousands of years old and trace it back to the roots and find that it is THE SAME - is that not just a little amazing? Granted, maybe not REALLY special, but interesting.

Another thing, because I'm sure someone will bring up the subject of "versions"... The KJV translation is the most accurate "version" of the Bible. Other versions change key phrasing, delete key defining terms, and even remove whole verses. The NIV is so brazen about this that they did not even bother to re-number the verses. Although, it helps to hide the fact. People willingly make up all kinds of rationalizations to explain away obvious error (like when it goes from verse 16 to 18).

Also, the wise Christian does not make his theology from what he was taught. That was the whole focus of Protestantism. The Catholic Church controlled the information, and the people could not check for themselves whether they were being taught the truth. Not only that, but the Church took the place of God (Jesus, actually, if you want to be exact) as mediator.

Rather, the wise and discerning Christian researches, through prayer and through studying the original languages, learns for his or her self the truth.

The problem you people have with the Bible is the fact that you can't proove an absolute. There's nothing to compare it to. It's like 2+2=4. Why? Because it does. Because 4-2=2. Scientists cheerfully accept circular logic paradoxes in math, but when it comes to the Bible, circular logic is wrong. Which, incidentally, circular logic in and of itself is circular. And, granted it is NORMALLY wrong - non-absolutes cannot be proven circularily. Ok, maybe that's a bit strong, but I think you know what I mean.

The Bible cannot contradict itself. If it seems to, it's that you merely misunderstand it. And, you cannot understand the Bible with your mind. It's discerned spiritually. I know what this is like. It happens.

And bear with me guys - you read this sort of thing in fantasy, and to a lesser extent in Sci-Fi, and you never bat an eyebrow. You'll even give other religions a chance. But when it comes to MY religion, everyone is out to get us. No one cares that the moslems abuse their women, making them wear whole-body veils and such to avoid being immodest... Everyone screams and wails about "pro-choice" and saying "God" in the Pledge of Alliegance.

Thousands of Christian missionaries die every year because of unjust persecution that breaks treaties across the board, yet everyone screams about the AIDS epidemic in Africa - which could be stopped by the acceptance of Biblical morals.

What damage does Christianity do to society as a whole? Really? I mean... HONESTLY think about this! In... India, I think, maybe Pakistan, where they are, um... Heh, whatever they are - you can't eat an animal. You can't even kill a fly. Some of the most extreme believers wear veils to avoid the risk of breathing in a gnat. I hear it's filthy, and everyone is starving over there, all because they won't eat the food God has provided. If you feel it's best not to eat meat, then fine - but don't go thinking that it's WRONG morally.

Ok, Hang on... I'm trying to stay focused. :)

One last thing and then I'll go to bed.

People also seem to think that Christians do not care for the environment. This is not true! It is just that we understand that human life is more important than trees or fish or any other thing. God did not create the world so that we could lay waste to it - rampant pollution and unchecked deforestation hurts me as much as it does you. The solution is balance, not a total 180 in opinion. Cut what you need, and plant in the open space. Put your trash where it won't hurt anything. etc. There is much for discussion here, I know, and I'm rambling really badly, But I'm trying to get done here.

Evolution cannot happen. It is totally illogical for life to have risen to the level of complexity that it has. How can you say that one little proto-brain cell that is so dinky that it can't even distinguish light from dark will add a reproductive bonus to the life form in which the mutation ocurred? It doesn't. It's like the fact that hardly anyone needs all five senses. So why do we have them? You don't REALLY need taste - at least, not to the point that many humans have it. It's for "color". Touch, Sight, Smell, Sound, all are needful in mating, but evolution does not give room for wanton senses. Which ones do you HAVE to have to survive and ensure you have kids? Not all five, surely.

And, does it not make sense to think that if much of life evolved separately, then you would find more animals with less than five senses? I mean, there are not many animals that lack one, much less more than one of those senses - yet logically not all of them are needed.

Take a Hammerhead shark. It navigates by using a sensory organ that can detect the magnetic fields of the undersea floor (a generalisation, yes - but I am tired). It, like all sharks, has a tremendous sense of smell. It also has touch, and taste, and sight. Would not it make more sense to have a sense of smell that can tell if the food is poisonous? If you can taste it, you can surely smell it. And sight. Why have eyes when your nose works 1000x better? Oh! and hearing!

Can't you see? There's too much complexity for life to evolved by chance! Evolution cannot have redundancy. It's not efficient.

Man. I am tired, and I'm sure you are tired of reading this. Good night.

Semi, it looks like we may have to agree to disagree

Ben (August 29th, 2002, 7:54 am)

Still, I am compelled to debate some of your points. :) Incidentally, I hope I'm not causing any offense -- I admit it's something of a cheap trick to make rather severe statements and try to lighten them with smileys. I'm starting to think that perhaps we should keep politics and religion off this site completely, just because we seem to be getting so frustrated with each others views (on the other hand, such Deep Ideas form the basis of a fair amount of science fiction; perhaps we'll just have to be very careful not to tread on each other's toes). *sigh* Such is life.

Semantics

As far as I can tell, though, we haven't yet entered that particularly mind-numbing ream.:)

You also seem the think that because I think God made the ecosystem that I also think that God makes rain, not precipitation.

No, no, you misunderstand me. I was just making an analogy, saying that if we had just turned to the "god answer", so to speak, when confronted with the mystery of rain, we would never have discovered the water cycle, and that, whether god exists or not, we should, when doing science, look for answers that leave him out of the picture.

Without a standard basis for thinking, then you will never arrive at the truth except by random accident.

I agree, I think, and I respect your decision to make the bible your point of reference. Nevertheless, I don't consider the bible to be any sort of universal truth (and I do think it contradicts itself when looked at in certain ways, and that any great work of art -- something the bible undebatably is -- can be looked at in such a way as to make its contradictions seem to disappear), and even if it is internally consistent, that doesn't make it true. Scientists use math, but they recognise that there is no way to prove its "truth", if you will, in a vacuum.

You'll even give other religions a chance.

I disagree with some religions more than others (and christianity is near the "neat but untrue" end of the spectrum in my mind, not the "horrifyingly false" end), but I don't give any of them a chance in the sense of believing in them.

But when it comes to MY religion, everyone is out to get us.

I'm not going to give the 'ol "christians have a persecution complex" argument as I used to because I've seen far too many atheists with persecution complexes; I think every group likes to see itself as the underdog. Nevertheless, I do think that christians get more respect than any other ideology, by far, at least in the U.S. and quite possibly worldwide. In polls, 85% of americans say they would never vote for an atheist president, no matter what his other views were; the president of turkey called judaism a "dirty religion" last year and anti-semites burned synogogues in france; lots of innocent muslims were killed in hate crimes following 9-11. Yes, missionaries are persecuted, and I think that's a bad thing, but it certainly doesn't compare to AIDS, which is killing an entire african generation.

No one cares that the muslims abuse their women, making them wear whole-body veils and such to avoid being immodest

"Muslims" don't do this any more than "christians" torture dissidents as they did in the spanish inquisition. What we need to fight againnst is fanatacism, not any religion in particular.

(And I do care about that. I think we should set out a far bolder role in fighting for human rights abroad, and that american society is too cloistered and concerned with small domestic issues. On that point, at least, we seem to be in agreement.)

the AIDS epidemic in Africa - which could be stopped by the acceptance of Biblical morals

But it could also be stopped by condom use, which is much easier to put into place than a new set of moral guidelines.

I hear it's filthy, and everyone is starving over there, all because they won't eat the food God has provided.

That is incorrect. Vegitarianism, whether or not it is intrinsically moral (I believe it is) is more efficient in producing large amounts of food than meat-eating because the energy in the food isn't being used to power cows. Every pound of beef takes several pounds of grain to produce; India is far better off vegitarian than it would be otherwise. (As for the fly-killing thing, only the most extreme believers take their views to that extent, a tiny minority.)

As for the senses -- anybody lacking one of them would be at quite a disadvantage, survival-wise. Smell and taste allow us to determine when food has gone bad (a greater issue before the days of refrigerators) and to unconsciously correlate the taste of food with its nutritional content (I have my own theories about this, but I won't go into them here because I want to go (back) to bed:)

How can you say that one little proto-brain cell that is so dinky that it can't even distinguish light from dark will add a reproductive bonus to the life form in which the mutation ocurred? It doesn't.

To tell the truth, I'm a bit tired of arguing about evolution. I hate it when people tell me to read books instead of making counter-arguments, and perhaps its unfair of me to suggest this without having read much of the bible, but you really should read a good book on evolution like "The Blind Watchmaker" (which is, to be fair, much shorter than the bible:); it addresses a lot of these points.

The Aye of Faith

cruise (August 29th, 2002, 11:16 am)

each consecutive generation reads the previous generation.

So what reads the first?

Information has an uncanny way of popping into existence from the void.

I would hardly call a carefully designed and written computer program, with a specifically chosen starting state, "from the void".

Nobody's arguing that a modern cell spontaneously coalesced in the primordial soup

Indeed. Including myself. If you read my sentence you qquoted, I mention solely RNA :P

Eh? Why not?

Because, as I stated at leats twice (:P), there is no known chemistry that could produce the necessary molecules in the same place at the same time.

but systems that seem irreducable at first glance can be shown to in fact be reducable

Some, no doubt. But not all. You cannot write a computer program in one byte. No matter how good a coder you are. You can only reduce things so far. Beyond that, you have nothing. Not "a partial solution", but nothing except a random collection of bytes (in this example).

whether god exists or not, we should, when doing science, look for answers that leave him out of the picture.

If he isn't relevant, then yes, obviously. But because God isn't directly involved in the water cycle, doesn't mean he isn't involved in something. As an interesting aside, did you know that the Bible actually describes the water cycle? Like, correctly? Don't blame religion because some people have poor comprehension skills...

you really should read a good book on evolution like "The Blind Watchmaker"

I'll check it out. I really should have done so long ago anyway.

To tell the truth, I'm a bit tired of arguing about evolution.

Sorry 'bout that. But really, ifyou ask me why I have faith in God, my answer has to be, "because I can't see any other valid way for us to exist". Therefore, I have to explain my reasons for disagreeing with evolution, because they /are/ my reasons for believing in God.

Hey relax, Semi!

Narainsbrain (August 29th, 2002, 11:42 am)

Um - why are you going all defensive on us, Semi? As far as I recall, we haven't really attacked "YOUR" religion much - or any religion for that matter - we've been pretty much busy arguing for evolution all this time. Okay, so I called you a manic fundamentalist once =) Sorry 'bout that...

Anyway, it's clear neither side is going to convince the other if we go on like this. You find evolution about as distasteful as I find the idea of heaven and hell. But I don't want to attack your religion, and I don't want you to attack my athiesm, because that will lead us nowhere. And much as I would love to convince you of my own philosophy, I see that I cannot - should not, to be fair, because I don't want to be convinced by you either.

So what /do/ I want?

I merely want to understand you. I want to know why you believe in a God, why do you /want/ to believe in a God. Okay, maybe I'm not getting my point across well. Let me explain. Every one of us here is a logical and reasoning person. We have beliefs that are not blind faiths but that we have formed from well-reasoned thoughts. They are all self-consistent and perfectly valid. In a way, then, none of us is 'wrong'. Yet, why do we disagree? Here, let me quote from Asimov: "You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason - if you pick the proper postulates. We have ours and [he] has his. ...That's where everything falls down. Postulates are based on assumption and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them." This is from a beautifully crisp parable on religion and logic called 'Reason' that I'd love to talk more about if I hadn't other things to say.

The postulates - axioms, self-evident truths, call them as you wish - are what I want to get at. Logic bases everything on the axioms; it can't help you pick the axioms themselves. So let's leave reason aside for a moment and talk about /why/ we believe what we believe.

Okay, let me go first: Why don't I believe in a God?

One: Because I see no reason for a God to be here. All that I have seen of the world needs no God to function. Rain would still fall if there was no God. The Earth would still rotate. Life would still go on. The world is rich enough without bringing a God in to make it work. Richer, in fact, because the world does it all by itself, and to me that is a thing of wonder and beauty.

Two: Because I don't want there to be an Entity hiding somewhere we can't see and meddling in the works of the world. I want the world to make sense by itself. And if something (be it though a good thing) could be made to occur by fervent prayer without actually going out and making it happen, there's something in that situation that doesn't seem right. For what then is the value of real action, of actually doing something for change?

I hope my words make sense. 'Tis strange, I think I'm writing in a more poetic style than I usually do. Maybe it's the fact that I'm finally using the Shift key. =)

Well, maybe now you can explain to me what it is that makes you want to believe in a God. Then maybe we'd understand each other without getting into the logical crusades we're embroiled in right now.

Postscript: I composed this offline before I read Cruise's post, so sorry Cruise, I haven't the time to go back and edit this. Do you have any other non-logical (maybe something to do with how you believe the world /should/ work) reasons for believing in a God?

I'm sorry...

Semirrahge (August 29th, 2002, 1:52 pm)

I KNEW I got carried awy there... And I apologise. For someone who likes to be accurate, I have a terrible weakness for broad generalisations. It's wrong, I know... But I have excuses. :)

The first is that I was falling asleep as I wrote that. Second, and more valid, is the fact that I failed to mention that I was using "you" to refer to non-christians globally, not you guys of TSFE. I must say that I am rather proud to associate with such understanding people for a change, and maybe even (without stretching it really really far) call you friends. :P

Now I don't have time right now to write another re-re-rebuttal, so I'll touch on a few things.

Narain: I understand what you are saying. I think. You are trying to come at my way of thinking from my side, right? Because it's so opposite of yours you are curious as to how an obviously logical person can think like this, and believe in it so strongly. I think we can do that. :)

Evolution is not distasteful to me, I merely see it as illogical. That's all. The rest of your points need a whole new post - prayer and divine intervention and all that.

Ben: I know there were large holes in my post - well, rant, really - but most of my points still hold a core of truth. Skipping all the "persecution complex" stuff, I still say that your answers are still more complex than mine. Just because it's fresh on our minds, let me return to the AIDS dilemma. Yes, we could distribute condoms, diaphragms(SIC), spermacidals, etc - but that's fixing the symptom, not the problem. The problem is not rampant unprotected sex - AIDS is very new, and before promiscuity was as common as it is today, AIDS was relatively unknown. Again, that's a generalisation because I am trying to be brief.

When sex occurs ONLY between married partners, you will not get STDs. And, actually, it really is only the mercy of God that we do not all catch AIDS or Hepatitis C or something every time we use a public restroom or walk through a crowd. I mean, think about it. It comes through body-fluid transmission, which can mean anything, including sneezes, coughs, urine, tears, saliva, feces - anything that is wet from a human body. A sneeze spray jillions of little droplets into the air, even if you sneeze into your hand. And if you do that, then it's on your skin. Even AIDS, which is relatively weak, can live a whole business day on your hand.

And also, no one REALLY knows for sure how either of these diseases is transmitted. We only know that one way to get them is through direct fluid transfer.

How can you say that it is pure chance and luck that we don't catch AIDS or Hep C? It does not make sense. I mean, is your luck NORMALLY that good? Mine sure isn't.

Anyhow, I seem to have gotten off on a long rant anyhow, and I'm sorry. Also, I want to say that thus far y'all have been really good, and I'm the only one who has been mean. Not good for my side.

Oh, and one more thing. Please do not compare Christianity with Catholicism. It is very, very different - sorry Eldritch, but it's true. The Inquisition, the Crusades, all those atrocities committed in the name of God are not Christian acts, any more than a man taking the Lord's name in vain is praying.

Another reason that I was defensive is that past experience has shown that so long as a keep a mellow tone and restrain myself from sounding religious, people listen to me. When I open up and say what I really think in accurate terms, people get derisive and angry... So I was nervous about coming on so strong, I guess. Call it a drawback from conditioned reflex.

I have a lot to say, but I'd better quit now. I'll try and work on my tone, I promise.

Ok...this is a little different :P

cruise (August 29th, 2002, 5:46 pm)

One: Because I see no reason for a God to be here. All that I have seen of the world needs no God to function. Rain would still fall if there was no God. The Earth would still rotate. Life would still go on. The world is rich enough without bringing a God in to make it work. Richer, in fact, because the world does it all by itself, and to me that is a thing of wonder and beauty.

I agree, it's incredible that the world does rotate by itself, that rain is continually self-replenishing. But believing in a God doesn't detract from that. He designed this entire complex universe, with all its little rules and laws /just so/ to make it "maintainence free". And then /gave/ it to us and said, "Here, enjoy". That is truly wonderful. A toy, work of art and an education, all in one, awe inspiring package.

Have you played either of the Diablo games? All the levels are randomly generated each time. It's amazing the number of people that have commented how that lessens the enjoyment, compared to fully hand-crafted worlds. Given realistic bots, or real-life players, which do you prefer in a game? Again, almost all prefer the people.

The "personal touch" often makes all the difference to something. Looking at this wonderful universe and thinking it "just happened" would destroy a noticable part of its magic for me.

Two: Because I don't want there to be an Entity hiding somewhere we can't see and meddling in the works of the world. I want the world to make sense by itself. And if something (be it though a good thing) could be made to occur by fervent prayer without actually going out and making it happen, there's something in that situation that doesn't seem right. For what then is the value of real action, of actually doing something for change?

This isn't so much a problem with religion, as some religions teachings. I too dislike that view of a God. However, between looking at what he's given us, and reading what he's told us (the Bible), it is possible to get to know him incredibly well. Several humans are spoken of in the Bible as being God's /friend/. Hardly a mysterious man-behind-the-curtain, shiftingly arranging things.

Everything he's done or will do he tells us. God most certainly does /not/ work in mysterious ways.

Neither does he just give to those who pray. Sure, the Bible mentions a number of miraculous events in response to believer's prayers, and there are similar, if not quite so dramatic, occurences to day. It is hardly a soemthing-for-nothing deal, however.

An example will make this easiest. Suppose a friend of yours is doing some DIY, and rings you up, and asks if you could pop over and give him a hand. Do you tell him no, and explain to him the value of experience, and doing things for oneself? I hope not :P You know that your friend is likely working as hard as he can, but that some things are still beyond him. So you help.

God doesn't do things for us. If we try as much as we can, however, he supplies what is required to finsih. Nothing more, nothing less. Just as a friend would.

Perhaps now you're thinking of the tale of Adam and Eve, where God plonked them down in the middle of a paradisaic garden, that supplied for their every material need. True enough. But that isn't all he gave them. He gave them work. Two main tasks, in fact. Name all the animals (not exactly an afternoon job), and extend the Garden of Eden round the entireity of the globe, again something that would not be incredibly easy. The paradise was not a freebie. It was there to simply provide for their material needs, so they could concentrate on the tasks assigned.

Summing up that rather lengthy aside (seems to be a trend here at TSFE), God does not just provide if you pray hard enough. He provides if you /do/ hard enough.

Ok...this is a little different :P

Eldritch (August 29th, 2002, 11:21 pm)

I might be a Christian, but I find a certain absurdity to the whole Adam/Eve tale. How can 6 BILLION peopleappear from such a TINY gene pooL?

Ah...

Narainsbrain (August 30th, 2002, 4:13 am)

See, now we're finally talking and not arguing so much. =) Hmm, you've got some pretty valid points there, Cruise. Some more thinking about them on my part seems in order. So forgive me for not replying to them right away.

By the way, I wasn't thinking of the Adam-and-Eve tale at all. I know very little in depth about Christianity - compared to you Westerners who've grown up with it all around you, I know next to nil. Everything I say in this forum isn't directed to Christianity in particular (how could I talk about something I know nothing about?) but to religions and god-faiths in general. Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier.

And Semi: Yeah, you did get me right, that's exactly what I was trying to say. Cool. "Evolution is not distasteful to me, I merely see it as illogical." Okay, wrong choice of words. I see the idea of heaven and hell as illogical too. There. =)

"I'm the only one who has been mean"? Nonsense! Don't put yourself down like that again or I'll whoop your godfearing white-boy ass. ;p

And another thing, I think you're being way too paranoid about AIDS. If you'll just check out www.aegis.org/topics/FAQ.html#5, I think it might clear most of your misconceptions (and trust me, you seem to have a lot of those). I'll quote from the Yahoo! Health page on AIDS for your convenience:

Transmission of the virus occurs: (1) through sexual contact -- including oral, vaginal, and anal sex; (2) through blood -- via blood transfusions or needle sharing; (3) from mother to child -- a pregnant woman can passively transmit the virus to her fetus, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby.

Other transmission methods are rare and include accidental needle injury, artificial insemination through donated semen, and through a donated organ.

HIV infection is NOT spread by casual contact such as hugging and touching, by touching dishes, doorknobs, or toilet seats, during participation in sports, or by mosquitoes. It is NOT transmitted to a person who donates blood or organs. However, it can be transmitted to the person receiving blood or organs from an infected donor. This is why blood banks and organ donor programs screen donors, blood, and tissues thoroughly.

There's a lot more in-depth information at the Aegis site, so I recommend you check it out too. I truly, sincerely hope you don't avoid shaking hands with a person who has AIDS, and that you don't believe it's your faith in God that has kept you from being affected by this horrific disease. Your ignorance about this really does scare me, Semi.

Uh, on a lighter note, I think it shouldn't be too much of a mean atheistic-attack-on-your-religion statement to say that I consider the story of Adam and Eve in the same league as Indra the Rain God Hindus believe in here in India. It's a nice tale to tell, but as an explanation of the real world, it doesn't really work.

Bob and Mary

cruise (August 30th, 2002, 9:32 am)

Heh.

This one is gonna take a little background explaining.

The way we work now (biologically) is hardly ideal. We get sick, we age, and we die. Scientists are strill struggling to work out the full explanation for the last one, because in theory, there's no necessity for it.

Anyway, this seems a pretty sorry state of affairs for a God to have left his creation in. And you'd be right. Originally, we were created "perfect", immune system able to resist any invaders, and no prospect of ageing or death.

In that state, inbreeding would not carry the genetic risks it does today. Considering the number of human genes that seem to "code for nothing", or servee no purpose we can tell, and the apparently incredible amount of genetic information that has been gradually lost from the 'Y' chromosone, I don't think it's a stretch at all to assume one human pair as the originators. Indeed, modern genetic research has traced our lineage back to one original human female.

Nice to see

Hellkeepa (August 30th, 2002, 12:56 pm)

HELLo!

Nice to see that the discussion has gotten back on track again, and that we (you) want to learn how to understand eachother.

Unfortunately I don't have much time to be online now, on dial-up and it costs per minute, but I'm going to post more in this in a bit.

Just now I wanted to (try to) fix the little problem that arose after Cruise's post, the one with the margin. :-þ

Happy fraggin'!

Ah, civility :)

Ben (August 30th, 2002, 8:29 pm)

Yes, like Narain, the purpose of this for me is understanding. (In theory, at least; sometimes I get a bit carried away. :) And like Narain, I don't find religion distasteful, just illogical. To answer some of the points:

Cruise -- the evolutionary explanation normally given for aging is that 'in the wild', so to speak, before civilization, most people probably didn't live past their mid 20s; therefore the ability to live many decades longer without various things starting to break down was never selected for. For example, the benefits of eradicating the Telomerase limit (which allows a cell and its decsendents to reproduce only a limited number of timesa) would have been outweighed by the increased cancer risk.

extend the Garden of Eden round the entireity of the globe

Not that I'm terribly knowledgable in christian theology, but I haven't heard that particular interpretation before. Which passage does it come from?

So what reads the first [generation in the life game]?

One of the mysteries of the universe. :) I suppose my point was that the first generation could be something very simple. If you have an infinite area filled with slightly fluctuating principals ('physical laws' is perhaps too specific a term), then somewhere will be a little area that acts as a Life grid (actually, another very similar thingy that I can't remember the name of; I don't think Life is quite capable of the full extent of these types of patterns) with a simple startig point capable of creating complexity (e.g. atoms, stars, life).

I would hardly call [information popping from] a carefully designed and written computer program, with a specifically chosen starting state, "[information popping] from the void".

There isn't much information contained in the starting state, only a few bits. Later, after many generations, the amount of information has dramatically increased.

there is no known chemistry that could produce the necessary molecules in the same place at the same time.

With quantum effects, there has to be. Even without quantum effects, I see no reason a veryveryvery simple organism (i.e. non-DNA-using) could coalesce given a couple billion years and the oceans of an entire planet, then gradually evolve into what we think of today as a "simple cell".

But not all [systems are reducable]. You cannot write a computer program in one byte. No matter how good a coder you are. You can only reduce things so far. Beyond that, you have nothing. Not "a partial solution", but nothing except a random collection of bytes.

A large enough random collection of bytes will usually contain a partial solution. An infinite collection will always contain a partial solution (not to mention a computer to run it on:).

Also, to bring up a point that's almost never mentioned in these types of discussions: if there is a design, why does that imply a designer? God, after all, is said to have always existed; couldn't the universe, in all its clockwork glory, have always existed as well? (Hmm. Maybe I watch too much experimental theater.:)

Please do not compare Christianity with Catholicism.

Speaking as an outsider, when confronted with the varying definitions of christianity christians give, I've had to come up with a definition of my own: a christian is someone who believes Jesus Christ was the messiah -- a convenient definition for me, because it includes just about everyone who considers themself christian. (It's worth remembering that protestants did some bad things, too, like witch burnings and anti-semitism. I don't blame protestantism itself for these things, just as I don't blame modern catholicism for the inquisition; I blame fanatical fundamentalism, which was all over Europe, even after the reformation.)

Transmission of the virus occurs: (1) through sexual contact -- including oral, vaginal, and anal sex

Actaully, a recent study found that it's next to impossible to get HIV from oral sex, unless you have open sores all over the inside of your mouth, or something, though, of course, plenty of other STDs are transmittable that way. (Sorry to be so explicit; I just thought that was a point worth correcting.)

Ah, civility :)

Eldritch (August 30th, 2002, 9:42 pm)

*EHem* I'm a Catholic. We are christians. There is a branching. Three branches: Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant. Three kinds of Christians. The Protestants, of course, are VERY sub-divided.So, if you might, the Orthodox and Catholic churches started lng before ANY protestant church.

Civility? If only...

Semirrahge (August 31st, 2002, 4:22 am)

WE are getting really close to nerve points here, I think...

Eldritch, I'm sorry but I must disagree. The New Testament Church was MUCH different than any of the "branches" of Christianity that exist today. Incidentally, "Catholic" merely means "worldwide" or "universal" - Giving a specific theology that name is really a misnomer.

I won't discuss the differences I refer to here and now, though. It would start a fight no matter how polite you or I tried to be. I've seen the arguments that come from people that are even closer to my beliefs than you, and on less important issues.

Narain: I'm not being paranoid - I'm just overstating again. Also, I don't trust the government or anything that comes from liberal information sources. I've read too much Orwellian fiction for that. :) But seriously, Level-4 diseases are a research hobby of mine. Yes, I really do have such macabre hobbies. :)

And, I was talking more of Hep-C than AIDS. In fact, I merely picked AIDS because it's so popular these days to talk about it. I could have picked Ebola, E. Coli O:157 H:7 or any other terminially life-threatening illness that is kept hush-hush. No, I'm not a conspiracy nut, either. I hate conspiracy theorists. :)

I may be gone from the forum for a few days, or maybe only post small and inconclusive things... My family is going through some difficult times, and I have a feeling that I'm really going to have to cut back on the stuff I do.

Good night.

Civility? If only...

Eldritch (August 31st, 2002, 10:24 am)

Erm...E.Coli can be treated, since it's a bacteria. Not deadly :D. I'm not in any mood nor do I desire to argue... And I think the name Catholic came because it WAS once universal... Until the Orthodox (Greek) and Roman Catholic(Latin)(Yeah, go figure, language difference :P) broke apart. Then with the appearance of Luther's 95 Thesis(spelling, I took this in Spanish), Calvinism and Anglicanism, Christianity pretty much got fragmented.

The Aye of Faith

cruise (August 31st, 2002, 8:22 pm)

the evolutionary explanation normally given for aging is that 'in the wild'...

I'm well aware of the evolutiuonary reasons. I was simply saying there's no theoretical reason why we shouldn't, and that the processes that cause it aren't fully understood. :P

Not that I'm terribly knowledgable in christian theology, but I haven't heard that particular interpretation before. Which passage does it come from?

A combination of Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 2:15. It's certainly clear that the Garden of Eden was a distinct geographical location, and it makes sense that they would have to extend the paradise if they were going to "fill the earth".

One of the mysteries of the universe. :)

Need I comment? :P

God, after all, is said to have always existed; couldn't the universe, in all its clockwork glory, have always existed as well?

Technically, yeah, but why go to such lengths (as that leaves gaping questions about the expanding universe, for example) to avoid having a creator?

A large enough random collection of bytes will usually contain a partial solution.

My point was that there wasn't a partial solution. Even one byte short of the full program is a non-functioning program. Not a just-functioning program.

------------

Often, I think, the two sides of this debate are seen by the other as choosing the position that suits them. The believers are seen as needy and dependant, the atheists as people trying to avoid the responsibilty of reporting to a higher power.

If I could find a reason to not believe in a Creator, I would. That may sound strange, but bear me out. I hate being told what to do. I hate feeling obligated. I'm a very "independent" person, I'd like to feel free to try whatever I wanted on a whim, and not worry about anyone looking over my shoulder disapprovingly.

I can't do that with a God, and certainly not the God I've come to believe in. Yet the evidence for his existance, for me, is inexcapable. I see no other choice. Therefore, I follow his advice and suggestions for life. I've found them to work wonderfully. I still feel the urge to say "to hell with it all" sometimes, but fortunately, I'm not quite that stupid :P

Basically, I believe what I believe, not because I want to, but because it is the pure, unavoidable truth. :P

Correction.

Semirrahge (September 1st, 2002, 3:06 am)

Actually, You did not pay attention to what I said, Eldritch. E. Coli 0:157 H:7 is a VERY toxic and VERY deadly form. It rips your bowels into sponge and you rot. From the inside out.

Not fun.

Yes, it is treatable - but the period during which you can be saved is very small, and even then very expensive and time consuming. Pretty much they have to totally change your blood supply, more than once. Look it up if you don't believe me. :)

Cruise... I was just thinking along those same lines today. While I want to be seen as understanding and open-minded, I can't really say, "I believe this is wrong." of "Well, according to my belief..." - If I did that then my opinion would be just that - Opinion. I have to know, or at least have access to, the truth (no one human can totally know truth - being human, we cannot do, or even think, anything perfect while in fleshly form).

I believe in the truth of God and His Eternal existence. There's more, but bear with me - and that is fact. Unchangeable.

The difference between non-Christians (and, yes - maybe other religions as well, I don't pay much attention to their core beliefs. Not because I'm afraid of contamination, but because I'm not studying for the ministry. I have more important things to do.) and me is the non-Christians merely say they have a valid opinion. The Christians have (or, as I said earlier, have access to) the truth. There are many opinions, but only one right one. And that right one has to be God.

Yes, I do think is is lame that we make these firm statements and try to ease the impact by silly emoticons. I just hope we (I) can stay civil - Talking theology with Christians can get pretty messy by itself. Humans are insane things, the way we have to get personal about our faith.

Incidentally, there are no non-religious people in the world. Everyone has faith in something for their "god". Maybe not in the literal sense, but people have faith in their science to give them all the answers, even if they are complex.

People have faith that their job will stay their's and will continue to give them money... ETC.

All humans have "faith", so to speak, but not everyone has true faith, if that makes any sense.

Yes, I believe in God. But it is not because it is "fun" or because life is good for Christians, or any of those silly reasons. I believe in God because... Because He is my Father, and I love Him. How can a child not love his Father? Life as a Christian is not fun - in many cases our lives are harder than non-christians'.

But I digress, and type longer still. :) I know you see this as sappy, illogical and paranoid, perhaps even signs of serious schizophrenia and a persecution complex.

Anyhow, Narain - I'm not terrified of anyone or anything. So long as God has need of my life, I will live. I live to serve Him, as hard as that is to remind myself of every moment of every day, and I know so long as I am bringing glory, or will bring glory to His name, then I cannot die. And if my time is over, or if my death will bring Him greater glory, then so be it.

I'd better stop before you guys think I've totally lost it. Suffice to say that I look down on no one - or, ok. I TRY VERY HARD not to, because everyone is just as bad, or good, as I am.

And I really had better stop. Man I talk way too much. /me shuts up.

Now I'm confused...

Narainsbrain (September 1st, 2002, 8:19 am)

"I believe what I believe, not because I want to, but because it is the pure, unavoidable truth." "There are many opinions, but only one right one. And that right one has to be [our version of] God."

Okay, it's really hard to reply to statements like that.

It's true, all humans have 'faith' in some way or another. I admit I have faith in science, and that's all it is, faith. Science IS a belief system (it's just one that's grounded in experience alone). But if you're completely convinced that /your/ religion is greater than all the others, is greater than science, is more than a belief system and is the Truth itself, well...

I guess there's nothing more I need to understand about you.

By the way, that bit about living to serve Him, of not fearing death, and all that uplifting stuff is nice, I liked it. If you strip it of mysticism and replace 'serving God' by 'being a better person', you'll have my philosophy. See, about things that actually make a difference (i.e. living life in the Real World), we agree. I think that's a good thing. =)

Almost...

cruise (September 1st, 2002, 3:28 pm)

convinced that /your/ religion is...is greater than science

Not /greater/, just explaining the spiritual instead of the physical. Both are just as important for understanding the world, and both should, and do for me, complement each other.

Science gives me the reason in to believe in God. Religion gives me the faith and relationship wih God. Religion by itself would npt convince me of his existence, no more than science by itself could tell me how to worship him.

Okay, my fault

Narainsbrain (September 2nd, 2002, 3:01 am)

I'm really sorry about my previous posts, I think I got a little too hostile there... Seems my nerves were closer to the surface than I'd thought. Besides, I think you misunderstood what I'd meant in my post a few days back. I have this terrible habit of jumping to the conclusion of a convoluted and intricate thought process, making it next to impossible for people listening to get the whole of what I'm trying to say. I'd like to explain, if I may.

You seem to have taken it that my talk of "wanting to believe" implies weakness or need on your part. I meant nothing of the sort. An unfortunate choice of words, it was - I meant something more like this:

"Well, (A) could be true, or (B) could be. With my humanly incomplete knowledge, I really can't be sure. But I've got to believe one or the other, so I choose (A) because I want to: because it seems more likely / it makes more sense to me / it's a more elegant solution / it says so in the Bible / whatever. I could be wrong, of course, but I have to believe /something/, so I pick (A), and it fits with what I know now. If, later, I observe something new that (A) doesn't fit with, I'd have to change my belief. But it'll do for now."

Is that better? I hope it clarifies things. Later when I'm back from college and have more time, I'll post the huge thing I've got worked up in my head, and hopefully take up the issue Cruise has just posted too.

"the huge thing... worked up in my head"

Narainsbrain (September 2nd, 2002, 10:15 am)

The main purpose of this post is so you understand where I'm coming from with my objections, and, if things turn out well, to attempt to set down some commmon ground for discussing belief systems. What follows are not my beliefs about anything but my thoughts on the logic of belief systems in general, if you'll allow me the possibility of applying logic to belief.

By the way, by belief systems I mean not only religion but science and philosophies like solipsism as well. This is a very general argument, guys, I hope you don't take it as an attack on religion or anything like that.

Axiom 1: All belief systems are fallible.

I think we established this is the beginning of this thread. Almost everything we know is a belief, and by its very nature (or rather, /our/ nature as imperfect beings with incomplete knowledge) it could be wrong. The Ancients were wrong in their belief that the Earth is the center of the Universe, Newton was wrong in his non-relativistic laws of motion, and, dare I say it, the Bible was wrong in saying it was a snake that offered Eve the forbidden fruit. And unless one wants to be very egoistic indeed, one must admit that one's beliefs are not likely to be the complete Truth about the Universe and everything beyond. But if every belief is fallible, does that mean any darned belief that one can think up is as good or as bad as the next? Of course not, and that's what the next axiom is all about.

Axiom 2: The only test of the truth of a belief is the observable world.

How else do you know if it's true, if you can't check it with something you can observe? Well yes, you can't be completely certain of it, but surely anything that /doesn't/ agree with the real world must be wrong! You can't prove beliefs, but you can disprove them. You've got to have some criterion for throwing out beliefs that don't work at all, otherwise you could go believe in any pile of balderdash one can think up. And the observable world is the one thing we can mostly (if not completely) agree upon. Well, what I observe is not necessarily the same as what you observe, but compared to any other criterion you can think of, the discrepancy is probably the least in this case.

As an example of this axiom, the belief "Narainsbrain is a hippopotamus" is not valid, precisely because you can look at Narainsbrain (that would be me) and verify that he is not a hippopotamus. The belief "Nothing is real; I'm hallucinating it all" or its equivalent "I'm trapped in the Matrix," on the other hand, is a perfectly valid belief. You just can't disprove it. And I can't disprove the belief that there exist Heaven and Hell. So what is to be done?

Corollary 1: It is meaningless to talk of the 'truth' of any belief that has no observable effect on the real world.

That might sound like a very strong statement indeed, but bear with me. I can easily make the statement "There are unicorns somewhere in the world." Can you prove me wrong? You can take me on a world-wide tour and prove to me that there are no unicorns, no unicorn droppings, and no unicorn skeletons to be found anywhere in the world. But you haven't proved that there are no unicorns; all you have proved is that we haven't seen any unicorns. The unicorns may be invisible, or they may just be very good at hiding. Either way, you haven't proved me wrong. And you really can't, not as long as I can keep thinking up unicorns that are harder and harder to find. So what do you do? The proper retort in this case is "Well, if we can't see them, and can't hear them, and they don't do anything we can observe, if they don't affect the world at all (if they did, there would be changes we could abserve), then what #@$%ing difference does it make whether they exist or not??"

That's the moral of the story. The moral is /not/ that you ought to apply your common sense to a belief you can't disprove. Oh yeah, it's easy to say "Bah, unicorns don't exist; the whole idea is silly," but common sense isn't always the perfect judge. An example of this follows after the next corollary.

Corollary 2: Any belief system that is consistent with the observable world could be true.

The idea that the Earth is flat is a belief. The idea that the earth is round, but is so big that we don't notice its curvature, is also a belief. And back in the time of the ancients, there was no conclusive evidence to contradict either belief. (Remember, you can't prove beliefs, only disprove them by exhibiting something of the real world that one belief says is impossible.) Now, since neither belief had been disproved, either one could have been true. But the Ancients could plainly see by virtue of their common sense that the Earth is flat, and the idea of it being round is plainly ridiculous. =) Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Okay, these are my beliefs about belief systems ;) This is the basis of my question "Why do you want to believe in God?".

Two belief systems that are consistent with the world we know are both equally valid. Either could be true, and we can't know which is, unless we find something that contradicts one of them. Until we can do that, which system you believe in is entirely a matter of choice. And you have to pick either one or the other. You have to believe in /something/, after all, unless the matter which the beliefs tell you about is a very insignificant one. And it's entirely possible for the belief systems to be consistent with the observable world but inconsistent with each other, in which case you can't get away with choosing both. If you want to rotate 3d meshes, you can either do Euler rotations or quaternions, but you can't do both. Okay, bad analogy. =)

Right, chew on this for a while, and then maybe you can answer these questions of mine:

1. Are the principles I've put forth in this post okay, or is there something wrong with them that makes them unacceptable? And if they are unacceptable, do you have any better ideas about belief systems that don't involve the principle of "our belief is Truth because we believe in it"?

2. If you find science unsatisfactory (it doesn't explain the "spiritual" side of the world), you must know something I don't, something that science can't explain. Aside from the evolution-vs-creationism issue which I suggest we set aside as disputed and undecidable for the time being, is there something in the present tense that I could possibly go check out to convince myself that science isn't enough?

3. What is this "spiritual" side of the world you talk of, anyway?

4. If there isn't anything observable that contradicts science, what is the reason that you give religion precedence over science? Assuming nothing contradicts religion either, as I said, you have a choice: it's up to you which you want to believe. I've told you why I prefer atheism (I have more, but it's your turn to explain now =)

5. If you're sure religion and science don't contradict each other, how do you reconcile determinism, which is one of the basic tenets of science, with the idea of a miracle-working God interfering with the deterministic workings of the Universe?

ooooh....organised :P

cruise (September 2nd, 2002, 3:00 pm)

OK, let's go through these in order.

Axiom 1: All belief systems are fallible.

Absolutely. Everything is always a hypothesis. It can only be assumed true while no evidence exists to contradict it.

Axiom 2: The only test of the truth of a belief is the observable world.

Quite a few people would debate even this, but for any discussion of this kind to have any point, we'll have to assume it's true. Until someone breaks us out of the Matrix, obviously.... :P

Corollary 1: It is meaningless to talk of the 'truth' of any belief that has no observable effect on the real world.

Naturally. By the same measure, if someone wants to believe such a thing, then it doesn't really matter, either. Assuming, of course, their belief in it has no observable effect on their behaviour. Which is arguably an observable effect on the real world :P

Corollary 2: Any belief system that is consistent with the observable world could be true.

Again, I don't think many people would dispute this.

So, no, I don't have a problem with any of your principles. They're exactly how I view things too.

If you find science unsatisfactory

No. Not at all. I don't have /any/ problem with science. It's wonderful at the job it does. However, you cannot use science alone for everything and anything, not would you expect to. That doesn't make science "unsatisfactory", as it isn't intended to serve that purpose.

Can science fully teach you how to bring up a child? Who to choose as the perfect partner? Perhaps a better term instead of spiritual in this context would be "moral". It is arguable that theoretically science could, given a sufficiently detailed description of human biology, psychology and sociology, but until that time, what else can you base moral or ethical decisions on?

what is the reason that you give religion precedence over science?

I re-iterate: I do not give religion precedence over science. They are equal and complementary. The Bible says God created the universe. Science describes the Big Bang and subsequent development. If you like, religion is "Why?", and science is the "How?"

how do you reconcile determinism

How do you define determinism? Quantam theory tends to steer current views away from classical Newtonian determinism. considering the size of the cell structures that control neuron activity, there are a number of convincing arguments to say that our thinking is at least in part, a quantam process.

with the idea of a miracle-working God interfering with the deterministic workings of the Universe

Again, depends on your view of God. Besides, considering he built it, I can't think of a better person to be making modifications, if he were to do so. What miracles were you thinking of, exactly, that were so disruptive to the grand scheme of things?

---------

Two belief systems that are consistent with the world we know are both equally valid.

Correct. But, from the evidence I have seen, atheism (with it's necessity for evolution), isn't consistent with this world we know, therefore isn't a valid belief system.

That, therefore, is my reason for faith in God. There is no valid alternative that I can see; one that fits the facts available to us at the current time.

the Bible was wrong in saying it was a snake that offered Eve the forbidden fruit.

Sorry, can't let this one pass :P

How do you know it isn't true? Were you there? Presumably you're basing your comment on the fact that snakes cannot speak (amongst other things). Correct.

However, it's also fair to say that a block of wood cannot speak, yet I've seen lots of ventriloquist dummies that damn well looked and sounded like they were.

Of course the /snake/ itself didn't offer Eve the fruit. Doesn't mean something/someone else couldn't do so while giving the impression of a snake.

Wow, Narain!

Semirrahge (September 2nd, 2002, 8:33 pm)

I'm impressed! Very nice, very logical very well thought out.

"Narain's Laws of Belief Systems" :P

A few things I have to pick at, in random order (like everything else I do):

The snake offering the apple to Adam and Eve. Ok, this may sound like semantics, but in this sort of discussion terminology is very important. The snake did not really offer them anything. He merely got them to question the validity of God's word. "Yea, Hath God Said...?" And in doing so, also appealed to their pride "...Ye shall be as gods..." Technically it was not the act of eating that condemned them, it was the fact that they disobeyed.

I agree with your laws and corrollaries. However, I think that they are misapplied. The difference here is that you cannot disprove the Bible. You can challenge it, yes, but it is fact. :) Sorry to bring that bit up again.

Response to question 1. First of all, the following statement : "our belief is Truth because we believe in it"? Does not apply. Believing in God does not create Him. God would still be God whether or not I even considered thinking about His existence.

We believe in God because He is TRUTH, not the other way around.

Response to question 2. Again, Science is not "unsatisfactory". Science does what it is supposed to do, which is to decipher the world into understandable and thus manipulatable chunks. Science can take anything into its scope, including the spiritual realm - it just requires a little change of focus. See below:

Response to question 3. The spiritual side of the world refers to things that cannot be explained or understood directly from the physically observable world. I will give an example here, if you promise not to sneer at it. It is well known that there are certain types of epilepsy that are incurable, or as modern medicinal logic would put it, that 'there is no currently known cure' for it. However, among educated ministers and other Christians, it is known that some types of epilepsy are caused from the spiritual end. I won't go into this unless asked, you may infer what you like. :) When you correct the spiritual problem, then the epilepsy leaves. This is not to say that modern medicine is useless, it is merely to point out that some things are not physically part of the seen world. No logical Christian will blow away the validity of the scientific process. He merely balances with what he knows to be true in the spiritual realm as well.

Response to questions 4 and 5. I'm not really sure what "determinism" is, and #4 has been answered fairly well, I think - several times. :) Anyhow, let me just address the subject of a miracle-working God. First, the miracles that happen on a day-to-day basis are generally not the kind that totally warp the very fabric of time and space. As Cruise said earlier, God will not (He can, but doesn't) reach down from heaven and strike down the ungodly with His Holy Fire, so to speak. Also, God does not "speak" as such with humans today. This did happen in the past, but since He has given us His Word now, He does not need to do that anymore. I think I'm getting sidetracked. Anyhow, God does not change our lives against our will. This is subject to very complex debate, of course, because of the nature of His Omniscience and suchlike, but true for the most part. The things that happen in the world happen by and large because of the actions of men. God merely assists, and only when it will bring Him glory. Very self-centered, yes - but would not you feel the same if you were the only thing in the universe that really counted? :) Ok, maybe that's not entirely true. He also helps just because He loves his children, but that's a side note - and I'm still getting sidetracked.

Cruise holds a very valid point. If God created the universe, don't you think He could make a slight and temporary modification and then put it back the way it was? And the other thing I was trying to say (in 1000 words or more. :P) is that most miracles occur in relation to humans and their behaviour, not in direct modification of the universe. God seems to prefer subtlety over an earthquake.

Anyhow, I think I'm becoming obtuse, as well as using up too much time.

Wow, Narain!

Ben (September 2nd, 2002, 9:49 pm)

Yes, I'll second that Wow; very nice post. I disagree, too, but not in remotely the same ways as Cruise and Semi. :) First, to answer some of their points:

When you correct the spiritual problem, then the epilepsy leaves.

Honestly, I'm skeptical. Still, even if that's true, I can think of possible scientific explanations -- after all, if, as I believe, the mechanics of the brain are the mechanics of the mind, then changing the way the mind works (i.e. "correcting the spiritual problem"; from a non-religious standpoint I doubt exorcisms would have much of an effect on the mind of epilleptic, but it's possible, and there may be other aspects to said correction of problems) could, in turn, change the way the brain works.

you cannot disprove the Bible. You can challenge it, yes, but it is fact. :)

Well, that's one of the things we're debating. :) The bible is certainly a tautology, I won't disupute that, but I'm skeptical of many of the usual arguments given for its validity. I'm not sure it would be productive to go into them directly, but this is, after all, a SF forum, so here's a link to a story that addresses some of them by analogy: Oceanic, by Greg Egan. =) I don't agree with it entirely, but I think it makes some good points. (That said, I would still be interested in hearing your personal reasons for faith in the bible.)

Also: I agree, to an extent with Cruise's point that about quantum mechanims and the brain; however, I don't see how free will fares any better under the randomness indicated by modern physics than under newtonian determinism.

Now, on to the weird stuff. :)

Corollary 1: It is meaningless to talk of the 'truth' of any belief that has no observable effect on the real world.

It is just as meaningless to talk about the 'truth' of any belief that does -- after all, there's no objective evidence for belief in the physical world itself. Of course, I too will set aside that point out of consideration for actually advancing the discussion, but that's not a real reason considering that there's no reason to believe a discussion is even taking place (for example, we could all be talking in completely different languages that have, coincidentally, sentances and paragraphs that happen to coalesce in other languages to mean completely different things=). There's no logical reason whatsoever to discard any belief except a blatently self-contradictory one.

Fun fun fun fun fun :P

cruise (September 2nd, 2002, 10:12 pm)

Honestly, I'm skeptical. Still, even if that's true, I can think of possible scientific explanations

Actually, so am I :P And yes, it will also have a perfectly good scientific explanation. That's the point :P Science and religion are /not/ two competing ideals. They simply approach the universe from two different viewpoints, thereby giving us a more complete picture. Naturally, anything taught within religion needs to be scientifically sound (or at least possible).

---------

As for my reasons for trusting the Bible, there are a few. One of the most compelling for me, and likely others in this group, is its scientific accuracy.

On the few occasions where the Bible refers to subjects where science is also concerned, the harmony is impressive. I mentioned the Bible's description of the water cycle earlier, for example. The Bible describes the earth as a "globe", which is "hung upon nothing"; pretty accurate comment considering those words were written several thousand years ago.

Consider the medical advice contained within the Mosaic law. The Isrealites were instructed to bury excrement well outside the camp, and that corpses were unclean and to be avoided. Any other possible risks of infection (in the time before antibiotics, remember) were treated with either thorough washing and/or quarantine. Considering the medical theory of the Egyptians at the time involved using human excrement for the treatment of wounds, and that Moses was brought up and educated by them, it seems remarkable that he could come up with such beneficial advice by himself. It wasn't until the last few hundred years that we have truly understood disease and infection.

Fun fun fun fun fun :P

Eldritch (September 3rd, 2002, 12:30 am)

Saint Thomas of Aquino*Don't know the name of the city in English* Actually stated long ago that Science and Faith don't go against each other. Instead, they compliment each other. Maybe you should check some of his writings too.

To get this going again

cruise (September 4th, 2002, 10:30 pm)

Here's a philosophical problem I have with atheism. It wouldn't stop me being an atheist, but it makes me dislike it...

In any kind of measuring system, there has to be a baseline measure, a definitive reference for what it is you're mearsuring.

In a moral situation, without a God, what is the baseline for right and wrong? Which human can really claim sufficient superioty above any others, to lay down a definitive distinction?

There can be no basis for giving such a definition. No matter how well thought out, balanced or just the laws, no one really has the right to impose those on someone else. Because they are, by definition, personal opinion.

Only a God, or superior being, can have the position and authority to say definitively what is right and wrong. Without a God, the logical progression is to a completely anarchic society in which there are no laws or rules. Most people intellectually reject that viewpoint, but without a God, there is no actual basis for anything else.

Depends.

Hellkeepa (September 5th, 2002, 11:40 am)

HELLo!

Well, that depends on how you view it: Morals are thought to us by our parents and other people around us, as they have been thought by their parents and society. Thus the baseline measure is the previous generations.

Granted, it's not a stable baseline, and that is displayed in the fluctuating definitions of what "morally acceptable". However, in the end it's a compromise between choice and upbringing. Which brings me back to religion, and anything associated with it, being a totally personal experience. ;-)

Take me for example: I do not believe in anything (although I agree with Narainsbrain that people have to believe in something), but I still adhere the most of the rules for morality that's found in the new testament. Why? Simply because I'd like others to do right by me, and then I have to do right by others.

This is how the society works, by helping others and being the best person you can think about being. I don't "care" about wether there is a god or not, or if our science has all the answers. Simply because I know there there is no way to (dis)prove his existance, yet, and that our science is so flawed that's it's next to impossible to use in some cases. Science is only humans attempt to understand the world, to find a reason for us living and dying.

My belief is love, if anything, simply by choice and nothing else. :-)

Happy fraggin'!

Thank you, thank you [bows to cheering crowd] ;D

Narainsbrain (September 8th, 2002, 7:03 am)

Okay, so I guess most of my axioms are all right. Cool. So now I can start using these against you :p You know, it's funny, now that I've formalised my thoughts, sometimes I stop myself when I'm coming up with objections to religion and think, 'Hey, I can't say that, I'm violating Corollary 2,' or something like that, heh... A good thing it is, too.

So anyway, I've been away for a while, so let me take up the replies in chronological order.

Cruise:

"I don't have /any/ problem with science." You're right, you're right, I didn't mean science. I meant atheism in most of my questions where I said 'science'... Being a scientific athiest myself, I often wrongly equate the two. Dang it, I feel biased. Anyway, to improve my question, 'Is there something for which atheism isn't good enough?' But I already know your answers to that: 1. creation, and 2. morality. I'll try to adress these in turn.

Creation. Which creation are you talking about? If you mean 'Where did the Universe come from?', then I'll give you that. I have no idea what the cause was that brought the Universe into being. The door is wide open for a God to step in. But the point I think you're missing is that /it doesn't matter/ what created the Universe. What matters is what it is doing /now/. Even if there is a Creator, that doesn't necessarily imply that He does make any modifications at all. To use your analogy - which, by the way, is a very good one - the fact that some guy made the mod or expansion level doesn't mean he's going to sneak into your computer and tweak the code, especially not /while you're playing/. ;) Sorry, I'm using my insidious-meddler view of God again, but the point remains that a Creator isn't necessarily an Interferer. He could be, for sure, but then again he might not be. And if he isn't, he's as good as a unicorn. So the view that a Universe needs a Creator doesn't show that God /must/ exist.

Evolution. Now there's something that's as close to being impossible to demonstrate as a theory can be. If only the blasted thing didn't take millions of years =) Okay, mode switch: You don't accept Game-of-Life simulators as valid examples of complexity from chaos, so I'm going to turn the tables on you and ask for an alternative to the theory.

Actually, before you feed me the Genesis-in-seven-days story, I'd like to know just how much of the Bible you fully believe in. Every word of it, from Genesis to the Deluge to the parting of the Red Sea? I'll let you answer that before I let loose all the questions I have about them.

Morality has been taken up more recently, so I'll save my views for the end of this huge post.

Semi:

"...you cannot disprove the Bible. You can challenge it, yes, but it is fact." Sigh... Axiom One, anyone? Besides, science has this little convention that any theory which cannot be disproved is a bad theory, because it carries no information at all. In fact, I like this idea so much I think I'll make it an axiom:

Axiom 3: To be useful, a belief must predict something about the real world.

What good is a belief, anyway? It's just a mental construct that we use to base our decisions on. And you can't base your decisions on a belief that doesn't predict anything at all. You may think I'm diverging from what I said in the previous paragraph, but it'll all come together soon. What's a belief that makes no predictions? Well, as opposed to 'An apple will fall down if you drop it', you can say 'An apple will usually fall down if you drop it, but it may fall up instead if it so feels like it.' Now this is impossible to disprove, because no matter how many apples you've seen fall down when dropped, the ready excuse is 'So what? They just didn't feel like falling up, that's all.' It's also a pretty bad belief, because it tells you nothing about what an apple will actually do.

Corollary: A belief that doesn't say anything is impossible is a bad belief.

In general, any belief that can't be disproved is one that doesn't label anything as impossible. For if it did, you could try to make that happen, and if it did happen, the belief would conclusively be out the window. Note that there's a fundamental difference between saying something is possible (which can't be disproved) and saying something is impossible (which can, and is therefore more useful).

By the way, I'm not claiming these axioms to be the perfect sieve for 'good' belief systems. They're just seemingly reasonable assumptions I use as a basis for logical argument. Besides, I'm just making them up as I go along, and I could make a big gaffe somewhere that brings the whole thing down. Feel free to suggest more, or contest any of the existing ones.

So, coming back to the Bible, you say you can't disprove it. Presuming you're talking about the historical aspect of it, that retells the lives, travels and actions of certain significant characters like Moses and Jesus, then you're right, I can't disprove it. But how does it matter? I don't care if Moses did or did not actually see a burning bush. I don't want to disprove that tale, for it makes no difference: apparently God doesn't do things like that anymore, so it is irrelevant. So tell me what the Bible tells us about the present world, and then we can talk. By the way, why /doesn't/ He part seas and turn water to wine anymore?

Ben:

"there's no objective evidence for belief in the physical world itself." Heh, that is true, but then what do we do about it? If we can't get out of the Matrix, heck, we might as well live in it. =)

Gah, I gotta go now. And I so wanted to talk about athiestic morals. Well, I'll tell you the basis right now and expand on it later. The first moral is the creation and preservation of life, information, and complexity; something that takes care of 'Thou shalt not kill' as well as a lot of other things. The second moral is 'Do unto others...', which, by the way, you don't need a Holy Book to tell you to follow; you can figure it out yourself with a little humility and some common sense.

The Star of the County Down

Semirrahge (September 9th, 2002, 12:10 am)

"No pipe I'll smoke, no horse I'll yoke, and my plow will rust and brown; 'Till a smiling bride by my own fireside sits the star of the County Down."

Sorry, but I like this song. :)

Ok, then... Man, it's been a while since I've been here - I feel almost rusty. :)

I'm going to skip the God/Creator & Universe/Evolution bits for now... It's getting rather pointless, at least for what I'm thinking currently.

"...just how much of the Bible you fully believe in." Well. This is a tricky question. Those of you here in the U.S. probably know about the "Monkey Trial" (Tennessee vs. John Scopes) wherin Clarence Darrow (Atheist) tore William Jennings Bryan (Christian) into small shreds and stomped on them. :P If not, you can read about it HERE. Ok, I hope that works - I just copied the code used from Ben's "Fundamentals" post.

Anyhow, the problem arises when you say you believe the Bible, and then present caveats. But the second problem is that the majority of the Bible is written in metaphor, and sometimes pretty complex metaphor, at that. So I think you see what my problem is. If I say that "I believe the Bible, literally." then you can go and say, well, what about THIS? (I can't think of any metaphor like that off the top of my head.)

So, I have to say that you have to take the Bible differently from other books. Each verse, chapter, book can carry a different message, depending on how you apply it. That said, Yes, I believe the Bible literally. I believe in a literal 7 day creation, the flood (or, deluge, as you called it), and the parting of the Red Sea.

Axiom 3: It fits the Bible, or vice versa. The Bible has lots of predictions, or "prophecies" as it tends to get called in theological discussions. And not just the prediction of physical events. The Bible has more information on the hows and whys of life than anyone, or even a group of people, can learn in their combined lifetimes.

However, that does not answer my admittedly shakey point that you can't disprove the Bible - so I'll skip it, too. It'll all come out in the wash, anyhow. :)

"Corollary: A belief that doesn't say anything is impossible is a bad belief." Ok, but this strikes me as being a supreme example of bad grammar screwing up what you meant to say. I think I understand what it says, but I think it's that negative passive verb thing... Say it positively, or something. :)

"why /doesn't/ He part seas and turn water to wine anymore?" Because faith is not sustained by miracles. It's easy to believe in something you can touch, feel, taste - but what if what you believe is something more subtle? Also, you have to understand the difference between the OT God and the NT God. In the OT, the sacrifices were merely stop-gap measures. They never actually took care of the sin. God forgave, yes - but... It's hard to explain. I've never discussed this with a non-Christian before.

Let me try again... God created humans perfect, so that there was none of this sin business. However, after the fall, with sin in the world and little to no guiding morals to limit the almost-perfect offspring of Adam and Eve, God caused the flood. This killed 99% of all human and animal life, as well as totally changing the surface of Earth and radically altering the environment.

From then on, there was a consistent Godly strain that went down through history. God gave promises to the family that was passed down through the generations that He would guide them, as well as setting up a method for eliminating sin from life.

Fast-forward about 1000 years. God decides that this is the perfect time to show His love for the world, so He sent His Son to die (perfect being = perfect sacrifice = perfect payment for sin) and cleanse the world from sin once and for all.

Once this took place, Christianity was established. Jesus Christ is now set up as a mediator for human-God relations, and changed the way God interacts with us and vice versa. Instead of a punishing, wrathful, impersonal judge, the Trinity (God, Son, Holy Ghost) is a personal and loving father. He now interacts on a more individual basis. This makes it both easier and harder to follow Him. Easier, because there is less symbolic ritual (none, basically) involved in worship, and, 2, because we interact directly with God. No atonement sacrifices, no peace offerings, no priest caste that controls the human side of religion. But it is exactly this that makes it harder. Everything is now on a personal and internal level of accountability. This is the whole point of the Matthew 5-6-7 sermon (The Beatitudes). It shows that it's no longer "good enough" to stay holy on the outside, towards men. Now we must concentrate on being pure in the eyes of God.

Ok. I think I got lost somewhere in there. My point is that external stimuli do not cause permanent internal changes. That requires an act of will on your part. So, now miracles are kept for emergency situations. :)

I think I'd better stop and see what you have to say about this. Oh, and Cruise - can we try and keep doctrinal issues out of this? It's hairy enough without having to get complex. :)

Oh, yeah - one last thing. About your bias, Narain? Everyone has a bias. Show me someone who says he's not biased and I'll prove him a liar. :)

The age of the universe (and other stuff)

Ben (September 9th, 2002, 2:25 am)

Clarence Darrow (Atheist)

IIRC, Darrow was agnostic.

the second problem is that the majority of the Bible is written in metaphor...I believe in a literal 7 day creation, the flood (or, deluge, as you called it), and the parting of the Red Sea...the flood

If much of the bible is metaphor, what's wrong with 6-day creation as a metaphor? Putting aside thoughts about the validity of unguided evolution (assuming he exists, God could have helped out there), how do you discount all the evidence for an old universe? If I was religious, it would upset the beauty of existence for a God to have created a young universe that looks old.

What about me?

Hellkeepa (September 9th, 2002, 2:35 am)

HELLo!

What about me, in this case, am I biased or what..?

Personally I don't think I'm biased, as I really don't believe in one or the other, but has all options "open" (so to say).

I'd also just like to point out that even if I haven't shown it yet, I do have a good deal of knowledge on christianity and christian faith. On that account I would also like to "correct" a part of Jesus sacrifise: It was not only as a "payment" for the sins of man, but also so that God would know and understand the pain we live with. For only then was he able to forgive our sins, and give us eternal love (despite us not giving it back in some cases). ;-)

if I believe in the bible, well... This is complex...

I believe in it as a book of history, and a guide to human relations (NT mostly), but as a book of faith I have not decided one way or the other: I simply don't know enough to do that, but I do know that a great amount of wisdom is hidden within it. So in that manner you could very well say that I don't believe in it, but that I leave up to each of you to decide for yourself.

After all, faith is personal. ;-)

Happy fraggin'!

Gomen

Semirrahge (September 9th, 2002, 3:30 pm)

You're right, and I knew that. I was not thinking. Sorry. Darrow was an agnostic.

Anyhow, this is my point exactly. But, how do you know the earth is millions of years old? To me, the earth is only a few thousand years old. The oldest trees are only about 3000 or so years old (I'm not sure exactly, this is not my strong point), and the methods used for dating the earth older than that are arbitrary and (by Creationists) proven innacurate.

And Hellkeepa, my point with the bias was not exclusive to this discussion. You may or may not have a bias for/against this issue, but there will come an issue that you DO have a bias on. And, depending on how deep you get involved with this, you may find that you actually do have a bias.

But, I failed to mention that my point was broadly spoken and I failed to mention that.

:D

cruise (September 9th, 2002, 6:06 pm)

I don't believe in the literal seven-day creation theory. Days can be indeterminate periods of time, and we use them as such in our language...no one assumes "In my father's day" refers to a literal 24-hour period. It's just seven seperated time-periods.

But, really, it makes little difference. Like Narainsbrain said, it's why, not how, that really counts.

Which, as I mentioned before, is why we need religion. Science cannot, and does not, claim to cover that :P

God created us for a reason. A very simple reason. To live. To enjoy conciousness. So he built this entire universe for us. Gave us the Bible to guide us, show us the best way of living. Worship isn't for him. He needs nothing from us. Worship should be for /us/...because it helps and benfits us.

As such, I believe in the entire Bible. Picking bits out to suit yourself defats the object. Not all literal, certainly, the language used is often poetical, but the events recorded within are accurate. There is an increasing amount of evidence for a global flood, for instance :P

My point about morals wasn't that we couldn't come up with any...most countries agree on the generals, but that we have no real way or right to enforce them. What if I don't agree with your morals? Can you prove that you are right? Is there a right? What's the baseline by which you judge? Without a higher ruling, there can be no ultimate right and wrong, and therefore is only /ever/ a personal right and wrong. At which point all hell breaks loose, as no one can tell anyone else not to do anything...

Well, maybe in theory

Ben (September 9th, 2002, 8:00 pm)

But in practice I think humans tend to have hardwired values to some degree that are surprisingly constant across cultures (which is to say, not all that constant, but not totally inconstant).

Gomen 2

Hellkeepa (September 9th, 2002, 10:44 pm)

HELLo!

Semirrahge: That's why I included "..in this case.." in the middle of the first sentence, to safe guard me. ;-)

You're probably right that at some level in this I am biased, after all I am claiming to biased: I only think I'm not.

I know I am biased in other cases, but I do try and keep my mind open to new stuff and keep the same level of sceptisism/disbelief to everything I hear/read: After all, most the things we take for granted is really only beliefs.

As for dating a pre-historic object, I reckon it's C-14 dating you're thinking about: How can you claim it's "innacurate"? Have anyone tested something which they can, with absolute certainty, say is precicely 1.245.200 years old and tested it wrongfully? I very much doubt so, unless someone has secretly invented a time-machine (which I believe even less). ;-þ

However, when that is said I also should say that there are a number off variables that is easily changed due to "outside" influence, and which can cause the C-14 date to decrease (the item appears younger).

On the last note though, if I'm going to take into accordance my own observation about science it'd mean that the c-14 reduction might be "decrypted" wrongfully, and the entire method fails...

So back to square 1 again... :rolleyes:

As for morale: What about the animals in the wilderness, that does not know about religion or gods. Why do they, quite often, display behavior that can only be explained with some degree of morals..?

IE: Honoring the elder ones, and grieving those who have recently passed away..

Happy fraggin'!

Oh jeez, I don't know...

Narainsbrain (September 10th, 2002, 8:31 am)

Right, Semi, your literal belief in the Bible is something really hard for me to understand. Besides which, your God is now a really subtle entity who only talks to Christians and doesn't do anything much else. At least, not anything that would conclusively convince a non-believer...

And it seems to me you're conveniently ignoring all the non-Christians, not only the present ones, but throughout history: "[After the Flood] there was a consistent Godly strain that went down through history." Um, what about all the Hindus and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists ans Zoroastrians who don't believe in your God, and never did? I can't help thinking that if Christianty is the true Word of God, then God would want everyone to believe it, and wouldn't be averse to a little sea-parting across the Bay of Bengal and show all those unbelievers the True Faith.

Rest of the post later, I'm at the college computer lab and I'm supposed to be programming SML. =)

Well...

Semirrahge (September 10th, 2002, 12:54 pm)

Oh, and it should be "Gomenasai". "Gomen" is accurate, I think, but "Gomenasai" is more accurate. :) This Anime-watching is going to my head.

Anyhow, on to the grindstone. :)

This is actually good for me. Most of this stuff I'm talking about is pretty much taken for granted with most Christians - at least the ones I know. SO. It's hard to explain, yes - but it's good that I get the practice. I just wish there was someone else who could help back me up, besides Cruise, I mean. I am worried I might slip and say something wrong.

So.

That said, I'm not "ignoring" the rest of the world, Narain. Why God did not send missionaries to all the lost peoples, I have no idea. I never said that the things God does make sense. :) And actually, this kinda brings up a new issue.

I suppose that for me, and others like me - excluding Cruise - our religion is somewhat illogical. Very illogical, in places where it's illegal. And, the belief, I guess, is based on faith.

I did not weigh all the options and decide that this one is the most accurate among a multitude of paths. It's... Well. Frankly, I was ashamed of my sin, and I wanted to have God forgive me and... I don't know how to describe it. How does one describe such an intensely personal experience? Gah. Convicted of my hopeless condition, I knew the only hope lay with God.

Um... Christianity is not very logically sound. I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I can't find a lot of reasons to believe like I do. Like Cruise, yes, but not to the point I follow. I mean, consider this:

God created the Universe, Solar System, Earth, Ecosystem and the food chain - just for us. Just for Humans. Then, he created us. Knowing that we would fall away from his perfect ideal. Knowing that 90% (or however much of the population it actually is) would hate Him and fight His Will, etc... Knowing that He would send His Son...

If it grieves God to see us sin, and more than that, to hurt in general, to live in the darkness of despair and decay - why on earth did He create us in the first place? And what about this time junk?

We can't even begin to comprehend the mind of God. Something that exists out of time is impossible for our minds to grasp properly. We have a thing we say when we don't know the answer; "We'll just have to ask God when we get to Heaven." We don't knowm, and we're very likely to never know. We just have to accept it on faith.

Maybe this is getting closer to a definor of "faith". Trust. I trust the Word of God so much that I'll believe something from Him that I can't proove. Truthfulness is gaining future trust by accurately reporting past facts, and God has shown Himself truthful. He's been right in the past, and so therefore he'll be right in the future.

Now, can I give an example of how he's been right? Not really, and if I could it would be coincidence, or something that would be considered by you guys to be something else than God. Let me think about it some more. I'll try and find some way to explain it.

Cruise: Yes, I know what you mean. And I do not think that each day in the creation has to be 24 hours long. I can't proove that, and the Sun and other stars were not created until day 4, anyhow. However, it does say "And the evening and the morning were the first day." and that tells me that time seems to have existed at that point.

My Strongs says: "#3117 - yome; from an unused root mean. to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether lit. (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or fig. (a space of time defined by an associated term)..." and there follows all the words it is translated as. That really does not shed much light on the subject, I'm afraid. :)

Hellkeepa: I remember reading somewhere (and I'm going to have to try and find out where, now), that a man left his hat in the - oh, wait. That's a different thing. Heh. Well, I can use that to illustrate my point. Anyhow, he left his hat in a "living" cave - i.e. it's still growing Stalagtites and Stalagmites - and came back many years later. Again, I forget the exact details, but it was more than 20 years and less than 50 years later. Anyhow, the hat was totally fossilized. Now, I think a mineral growth is supposed to grow a few micro millimeters a year, or something - heh, I REALLY need to find that book - and this was encased WAY too fast according to current theory.

So. I shall remain silent on this issue until I can find my documentation. :)

Convincing

cruise (September 10th, 2002, 2:07 pm)

Why should they need miracles? All the necessary evidence is there, if they'd choose to accept it.

It's like being friends with someone just because they're rich. If someone only believe in God because of some miraculous event, it rather cheapens the relationship.

The evidence that large numbers of unbelievers are regularly becoming convinced shows that God is hardly ignoring the rest of the world. The Bible tells us he wants /all/ mankind to follow his direction (because it's better for us), but only if they want to. Forcing them to defeats the object. You can't make anyone love you.

God is actively directing those who listen, and those who listen are actively trying to tell the rest of the world. As we have been doing in this thread, for example :P

It's your choice to listen, or not. But just because people feel that the miracle of our existance is insufficient evidence for God's existance, why should he then provide more?

Regarding morals. Again, everybody points out "but everyone has them. Most people agree on them." but none of you stop to think, why? And even then, so what? If I find a hundred people that think a foot is 11-inches long, will that make us right? A thousand? A million? No. Never. Because there is a defined baseline for the length of a foot, and it doesn't change. No matter how people think it's 11-inches, someone can point to the reference and say, "No, you're wrong."

Where do you look for moral reference? In the early forties, several entire nations (effectively) decided that Jews shouldn't exist. Sure, the majority now say that was wrong, but all of us here should acknowledge that having a majority proves nothing. What can you point to, apart from statistics, that says what happened was definitively wrong? Germany was generally happy and prosperous under Nazi rule. We weren't there. Who are we to argue?

-----

Ooop...Semi posted while I was composing mine... :P

Maybe this is getting closer to a definor of "faith". Trust. I trust the Word of God so much that I'll believe something from Him that I can't proove. Truthfulness is gaining future trust by accurately reporting past facts, and God has shown Himself truthful. He's been right in the past, and so therefore he'll be right in the future.

Precisely. As a quick example of trust, I'd say the moral code outlined in the Bible. Following it's advice has consistently shown to be the best course of action. Therefore, I trust it's advice on life.

Regarding Morals

Ben (September 10th, 2002, 11:25 pm)

Again, everybody points out "but everyone has them. Most people agree on them." but none of you stop to think, why?

Why we have them? I've certainly thought about it; I just didn't think it was completely relevant and was pressed for time, so I didn't post about it. IMHO, we have ingrained morals (to oversimplify) because society would have difficulty existing without them.

And even then, so what?

I think there are really 2 different arguments packed in there, so I'll address them seperately.

1. The world would be a not-good place without people using a universal standard to judge their behavior.

I think this is manifestly untrue: most of the Nazis, and the population that supported them, believed in God; most of the modern Europe doesn't and the crime rate there is far lower than in america, where religion is more prevalent. Holding to a universal standard is all very well, but there are lots of people who only think they hold to a universal standard. The 9/11 bombers considered their actions moral; they thought they were doing God's work.

2. There is a unviersal standard, and therefore people should follow it.

I'm a utilitarian, personally, and I think that that belief is capital-T True, but I've come to realize I don't have any evidence to back that up, and I don't think anybody who believes in universal morality does.

Hrrmph...

Narainsbrain (September 16th, 2002, 12:11 pm)

I'm having tremendous difficulty figuring out the point of your post, Semi... I get the impression your aren't sure of what you really want to say. But I have to say that one thing - apparently a basic tenet of your worldview - is something I find very, um, disreputable: "God created the Universe, Solar System, Earth, Ecosystem and the food chain - just for us. Just for Humans." So strong an anthropocentric statement I haven't heard since Ptolemy-vs-Copernicus. Well, at least now I know the basis behind most of your beliefs, and though I'd like to argue strongly against it, let's not get started on trying to convince each other again.

Trust, that's something I /can/ wrap my mind around. Don't rack your brain too much trying to explain it, just tell me if I've got this right: You were raised to believe the Christian faith; you haven't seen anything that goes against it, nor anything that's gone wrong on following its advice; so you see no reason to give it your faith in it. Is that it? Or is there more, a 'spiritual' experience, a direct message from God or something?

By the way, I still have no idea how your God operates. Apparently He doesn't manipulate the dross physical world 'anymore'. So what /does/ He do? That's not a rhetorical question, and I apologise for it sounding mean. I'm just trying to say as little as possible so you'll explain it more completely from your side. If there are any acts of, or messages from, God, how do they appear? What form do they take?

And Cruise, I think your analogy really isn't valid. I'm not asking for miracles so I can get God, as a 'rich friend', to provide for me the things I want. I'm looking for miracles so I can know that your God can actually do what you claim He can. I wouldn't believe a man who claimed to be a magician if he only showed me a certificate but refused to demonstrate any magic.

"Large numbers of unbelievers are regularly becoming convinced..." Are they? I didn't know that. Funny, I was under the impression that the numbers of athiests and agnostics were increasing. Say, do you know any site carrying the views of an athiest-turned-believer? At the very least, it would be a pretty interesting read for me.

"All the necessary evidence is there, if they'd choose to accept it." Well, all the necessary evidence for evolution is there too, if only /you'd/ choose to accept it! My point is, it's very easy to make a statement like that, but it doesn't mean anything to someone who doesn't alread agree with you.

"Just because people feel that the miracle of our existance is insufficient evidence for God's existence, why should he then provide more?" Why /shouldn't/ he, if they're not convinced? Here, let me turn this statement around too so you can see how it sounds. Just because you feel the fossil record is insufficient evidence for evolution, why should I then provide more? Because if a reasonably rational person isn't convinced by it, the evidence may not be that conclusive at all. You don't have to be Omniscient to figure out that if the only way God can show Himself to unbelievers is by the word of fellow mortals, it's not a very efficient strategy.

Ben's said it right about morals. I was thinking the very same thing. A person who believes in God doesn't necessarily have a high morality, nor to have a sense of right and wrong does one have to believe in a higher power who set the reference. In mathematical terms, there is no implication either way. And don't try to get away by saying the 9/11 bombers weren't believers of the True Faith, because there have been equally horrific acts committed by Christians as well.

It occurs to me that most of the justifications of God's existence are negative arguments: such-and-such-a-thing couldn't be possible without God, hence God must exist. And the event in question is necessarily something we don't (yet) understand or can't be sure of, otherwise evidently the argument doesn't work. The creation of the Universe, the rise of life on Earth, the existence of consciousness and morality... You know, I see this tendency as a contination the tradition of religion in conjecturing the existence of a supernatural entity to explain the things we can't understand. Hindus have their Rain God for the unpredictable monsoons, Christians have their God for the rise of life. I don't really like that kind of thinking, for it says we just can't understand such-and-such, because it's in the hands of a higher power. But after much science we find that we can understand it, and then the argument for God conveniently shifts to something else we don't yet understand.

Uh, now that I think about it, I must have hit a nerve with that paragraph. I'd better stop, please don't stake me for this.

*looks around anxiously*

Narainsbrain (September 21st, 2002, 4:50 am)

So is this thread officially dead now - what gives? Where's Semi? Where's Ben? Where's Cruise? Hellooo...?? Am I not in Kansas anymore?

*looks around anxiously*

Eldritch (September 21st, 2002, 11:19 am)

ME! My turn! I repeat, I am Christian, and I hold the impossibility of Creationism. Adam and Eve are just a myth, not even a JEWISH one! So, why should we believe god made the world in 6(7th was a rest day) days and that a whole race of 6 billion people of different sizes, skin colors and faces actually appeared from 2 people? And then there's the evolutionary evidence of man's gradual change. If Homo sapiens was just created, then where did the other hominids come from?!

Still here...

cruise (September 23rd, 2002, 12:16 pm)

Obviously missed a flurry of updates :P

Ben's said it right about morals. I was thinking the very same thing. A person who believes in God doesn't necessarily have a high morality, nor to have a sense of right and wrong does one have to believe in a higher power who set the reference.

Just because a person chooses not to follow the moral code provided doesn't invalidate the code itself, or the reasons for it.

And you can have a moral code without God, indeed. But you have can have no basis for saying it is /right/ without a higher power to set the reference.

The standard I see most widely quoted is "You may do anything that doesn't affect another person." Which sounds great. So I commit murder. I've definitively broken that moral guideline. But what can you do? Any punishment dealt is also breaking that guideline. What gives anyone else the right to break the rule that I am being punished for breaking?

So strong an anthropocentric statement I haven't heard since Ptolemy-vs-Copernicus.

What's your point? :P

No seriously...so what? What reasons do you have for saying that anthropocentricism is inherently wrong? Yes, it can and has been abused and misapplied. Like /that's/ never happened before :P

You were raised to believe the Christian faith; you haven't seen anything that goes against it, nor anything that's gone wrong on following its advice; so you see no reason to give up your faith in it.

Basically. Everything I've seen, done and experienced has only confirmed the quality of the Bible's advice, and the truth of its statements. Twenty-five years of answering questions that humanity in general has puzzled, confused and ignored gives me a heck of a lot of reasons for trust.

But after much science we find that we can understand it, and then the argument for God conveniently shifts to something else we don't yet understand.

Did you know it was commonly thought until only a few hundred years ago that sacks of grain could spontaneously generate rats?

There are many examples, and they're being added to with increasing frequency, where science is making it harder to accept evolution, not easier.

I believe the scientific method goes something like this: Observe a phenomenon. Generate several hypotheses to explain the phenonmenon. Carry out experiments and see which hypothesis fits the observed data.

Currently, only the existance of a God fits the evidence I have seen. Therefore it currently the hypothesis I hold to. If evidence is found that contradicts it, then my views /will/ change.

All hypotheses are judged on their ability to explain something that another couldn't. Is quantam theory wrong simply because classical theory couldn't explain wave/partical duality? Should we have stuck with Newton's theory of gravity over relativity despite it not predicting Mecury's orbit correctly? (Mecury orbits so close to the sun, and therefore so fast, it actually exhibits small relativistic behaviours).

Do you see my point? Once science explains all that religion does, then yes, religion will not be necessary. Until that point, religion gives the best explantion for many things. Believing science will eventually explain everything, is fair enough, but is just that. A belief. A faith.

Why / shouldn't/ he, if they're not convinced? Here, let me turn this statement around too so you can see how it sounds. Just because you feel the fossil record is insufficient evidence for evolution, why should I then provide more? Because if a reasonably rational person isn't convinced by it, the evidence may not be that conclusive at all. You don't have to be Omniscient to figure out that if the only way God can show Himself to unbelievers is by the word of fellow mortals, it's not a very efficient strategy.

Hence my illustration about the rich friend. I do not mean someone wants miracles to increase your personal luxury, I'm using the situation to demonstarte the mindset. There is a quote, "Show me a man with everything, and I'll show you a man who wants even more."

There are many things in nature I would consider "miraculous", in that we cannot explain or replicate them with all the science at our disposal. If those are unacceptable, then so are any other miracle.

/I/ cannot convince you that the evidence already existing is sufficient. I can only point to it, say this is why I find it sufficient, and leave you be, the same as you for me. You claim the fossil record is excellent evidence for evolution. I say it's excellent evidence /against/ evolution. Time will tell which is the correct explantion.

By the way, I still have no idea how your God operates. Apparently He doesn't manipulate the dross physical world 'anymore'. So what /does/ He do?

Guides and advise, the same as he has always done. If there is a God, and the universe is his handiwork, then he's a very organised being, yes? That extends to us. He's always had some kind of organisation, be it small or large, composed of those who accept his counsel. They in turn, extend that counsel to others who wish it. It may seem inefficient, but God can make sure it works as well as it needs to.

He doesn't do it for himself. As you say, he could do it many thousands of other ways, but it is a privledge he has granted us.

Also Here

Ben (September 23rd, 2002, 1:32 pm)

Heh -- I've been a bit busy with school lately (plus, I felt like I'd responded to my satisfaction, etc., etc.). I guess the debate comes down to A. whether or not evolution is a good theory and B. whether or not there is evidence for God's presence being felt by the religious in various ways.

Hence my illustration about the rich friend.

Speaking personally, I haven't seen any evidence for God's existence (you're free to disagree, of course).

You claim the fossil record is excellent evidence for evolution. I say it's excellent evidence /against/ evolution.

You mean transitional forms, etc? Evolution is not directional; it moves from steady state to steady state (it is, after all, guided by survival of the fittest, so you probably won't see a fish with a useless leg appendage) -- which isn't to say that transitional forms don't exist, just that they tend not to look particularly transitional. I'll have to get around to quoting those examples I promised several weeks ago. :) Also Douglas Adams. :D

Good summary :P

cruise (September 23rd, 2002, 9:06 pm)

Basically.

Speaking personally, I haven't seen any evidence for God's existence

Basically my point. If nothing I've shown you so far could be considered evidence, then nothing else would either :P

Of course, that's my viewpoint, with which you are free to (and do :P) disagree.

I AM still here...

Semirrahge (September 23rd, 2002, 10:01 pm)

...believe it or not. It's just that my life has gone down the tubes since my system crashed last week. Well, it did not crash, exactly... The I/O controller (USB, Serial, KB, Mouse, Parallel) died. So, the blasted thing boots ok, and windows loads fine, but I can't type anything. n0+ h4pp4y.

So. I DO have internet access via my grandmothers' system, but I strongly dislike visiting any log-in sites from other computers, Esp. TSFE, because it thinks that tons of stuff is new that isn't and other junk that annoys me. What this means is that I probably won't be posting anything for a while - and I'm putting this here because no-one reads my journal entries. :P

My time is not totally wasted - I finished Lain, and I'm workiong (blast this keyboard) on Evangelion - Gork! I just got through with episode 18 and I'm confident that any writer that could do THAT to his audience will have no qualms about writing the most buggered-up ending known to mankind. Also, I found out about Hellsing, and I'm reading a lot.

No writing, I'm afraid - I think I have writers block.

Let me just make a few, VERY brief points here:

1) For info on Creationism and the Young Earth Theory, see www.creationevidence.org (sorry, I don't have time to work out complex HTML :)) This museum is based about 40 miles from my home, and I know most of the people who work there. The following is from the website intro: "The Museum's team, led by its Founder and Director, Carl Baugh, Ph.D., has excavated eleven dinosaurs (Acrocanthosaurus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, etc.), 475 dinosaur tracks, 86 human footprints, 7 cat prints, and other fossil remains - all in Cretaceous limestone. These excavations were professionally documented along the Paluxy River and various other international locations."

2) For all practical purposes, I suppose that you COULD say that I'm a Christian simply because it's convenient for me to believe that way. This will develop into a complex explanation, so let me just say that I am currently in a "questing" phase of my life. Although I am learning of new belief systems and ways of thinking, there is something inside me, so far down that I can't figure out what it is, that knows, beyond all shadows and questions, that God EXISTS, and that HE loves me. Sorry to be so short, on to my next point...

3) This thing of a universal societal moral code is outrageous. I don't mean to sound harsh here, but you peace-mongering, "save-the-whales" leftists are rather contradictory. You forget the essential element in government and leadership is power. The goverments of the world rule because the populace either lets them. I can't go into mor detail.

But my point is this. In some societies it is appropriate to kill your wife if she does not cook your food right. In some societies it's not only appropriate, but mandatory, to regularily have human sacrifices and eat the dead. There are other examples, but I think you get my point.

The only way you can get the people of the world to agree on basic moral principles is to tell them, "Look, you have to believe like this because we are bigger than you".

And, as Cruise said, if one of your morals is that you can't ever kill any living thing, then how are you going to "make" them? Erect walls around the Texas borders and put all "immoral" people inside? And who decides the morals, anyhow? Who organises it? And, WHO GIVES THEM THAT RIGHT TO DECIDE WHAT IS RIGHT/WRONG FOR ME?

What astounding arrogance! Not even my GOD will MAKE me do anything, and aside from a few, set-in-stone principles (the virgin birth, 10 commandments, etc), basic morality is left up to the family and individual. What kind of music is appropriate, whate kind of clothes to wear, etc.

I know, we could argue about dividing the world into some kind of elaborate Venn diagram, putting YOU here since you thing like this, and YOU there since you think like that... But can't you see my point? How can a mere human know what is best for my life? How can you decide for me what I should do, eat, wear, think? You don't know me any better than I do - which is not very well at all.

Wow. I've really spent too much time here already.

a few thingies

Ben (September 24th, 2002, 1:49 am)

Argh; sorry to hear about your computer; that sucks. I've been fairly lucky thus far, non-upgrader that I am, but I do have a couple (thankfully non-debilitating) RAM problems.

No seriously...so what? What reasons do you have for saying that anthropocentricism is inherently wrong?

I think Narain's assertion was more of a rhetorical counterpoint to the particular argument you made -- that the entire, unimaginably huge universe exists solely for the benefit of one unimaginably tiny planet -- than a general philosophical statement. That being the case, I agree with him: as Carl Sagan once said, it would certainly be a waste of space.

The standard I see most widely quoted is "You may do anything that doesn't affect another person."

I agree that that statement becomes paradoxical if you try to enforce it literally, but it serves as a fair guide for making society's laws as long as you rely on it as a component of a larger, more complete theory (if you will) rather than a whole Thing in itself.

If nothing I've shown you so far could be considered evidence, then nothing else would either :P

I beg to differ: if God appeared before me and talked to me about his existence, or if astronomers discovered "Jehova was here" spelled out in galaxies, I would start believing forthwith. :)

The only way you can get the people of the world to agree on basic moral principles is to tell them, "Look, you have to believe like this because we are bigger than you".

There's something to be said for debate and leadership by example. Obviously it won't suffice in the most extreme of circumstances, but almost everybody supports military force at some point; you won't find many liberals decrying our involvemnet in WWII. (I have a sneaking suspicion I'm missing you're point; if so, I'm happy to be corrected.)

Carl Baugh, Ph.D.

Not a real degree, I'm afraid.

eleven dinosaurs (Acrocanthosaurus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, etc.), 475 dinosaur tracks, 86 human footprints, 7 cat prints, and other fossil remains - all in Cretaceous limestone. These excavations were professionally documented along the Paluxy River and various other international locations.

I've seen reports discrediting the evidence (here, for example); I'd sooner trust professional archaelogists on this than theologists (especially considering that the website is full of scientific errors).

neverendingstory :P

cruise (September 24th, 2002, 1:00 pm)

That being the case, I agree with him: as Carl Sagan once said, it would certainly be a waste of space.

Can you waste something that is infinite? :P Besides, it's only a waste if we stay on earth...there's no reason for supposing we will never acheive inter-stellar or inter-galactic flight at some point.

I beg to differ: if God appeared before me and talked to me about his existence, or if astronomers discovered "Jehova was here" spelled out in galaxies, I would start believing forthwith. :)

What I said was obviously intended as somewhat of a generalisation anyway, but let me turn this around...what is the /minimum/ amount of evidence required to convince you of God's existence? Does it need to be so incredibly unavoidable?

For me, Jehovah's existence is spelled out pretty clearly by creation as it stands, without it having to be forced :P

And just as a side note, because we haven't covered it and I'm curious...what part of christianity do we have represented here? My use of God's name above should have just given mine away :P

more thingies

Ben (September 25th, 2002, 4:24 am)

For me, the Sagan quote is a nifty piece of rhetoric layed across an unstated argument: that space being as big as it is, it is mostrously improbable that we're the only life. (And if the universe is infinite, then there are almost certainly many -- indeed infinitely many -- others out there.)

As for God's existence, I don't really think I'd believe in him as such unless it was unavoidable, but if I thought the preponderance of evidence was in favor, I'd certainly think he exists. (Yes, semantics. :) I suppose I'd have to see evidence that the universe couldn't be this way without an intelligent creator (even design could just exist, without a designer, but I don't see evidence for design, either), or evidence of people's interaction with him that can't be easily explained as misplaced pattern recognition (no offense). Putting all my cards on the table, I'd give the chances of me being convinced in a debate like this somewhere in the neighborhood of 0%; maybe that's breaking one of the rules of debate (be willing to be convinced) but I usually enjoy debate for its own sake.

Besides, it's only a waste if we stay on earth...there's no reason for supposing we will never acheive inter-stellar or inter-galactic flight at some point.

Argh; I can't believe I didn't think of that (I've been reading too little science fiction:). Still, only the observable universe (about 28 billion light years "across", so to speak) is open to us, which may be a only a tiny portion of the total universe.

cruise (September 26th, 2002, 2:07 pm)

even design could just exist, without a designer

With statements like that, we're never gonna agree :P Do you have reasons for that? Logical arguments or examples? I'm genuinely curious how you define "design", if it doesn't require a designer...

I don't see evidence for design, either

Admittedly, most everything I could point to as design /could/ just be incredible good chance. But there is a lot of those. That's one awful lot of luck :P

Either our existence is one incomprehensible forunate fluke, or it was made for us.

Perhaps it comes down to which idea disquiets you less. For me, the former makes pretty much everything rather empty. A designer implies reason, and purpose, intellectually and emotionally, for me, that is more satisfying.

-----

In the interests of fair play, let me quote an article from the latest New Scientist...

A protein, called Hsp90, is used within the body to keep mutations and malformed proteins under control. It binds to them, and forces them to behave.

However, given certain conditions, notably stress, its control breaks down, and /all/ mutations that have built up come into play, giving a sudden burst of change just when the organism is likely to be struggling. After a few generations (should the result survive that long), the new mutations become "accepted", and remain even once hsp90 regains control.

The researchers do offer this cautionary advice, however:

"For actual long-term evolution to occur, first of all one of the phenotypes that's uncovered needs to be beneficial. Then it has to hang around long enugh to shed its dependency on hsp and become abundant in the population. That means the organism expressing it must find a mate whose genes allow this trait to appear. While not impossible, these events are fairly improbable."

The article also adds, "Then too, fruit flies [what the research was performed on] are hardly typical of most species in the wild...these became geneticists' favourites partly because of their unusually short life cycles, which means they accumalte mutations more quickly than other plants or animals. 'It's possible that the role of heat shock proteins [HSP] may be overestimated in organisms that reproduce fast,' says [one of the researches]."

Ben (September 26th, 2002, 6:28 pm)

That's one awful lot of luck

There we disagree. Again, in an infinite (or very large) universe, luck is not necessary. (Even if the universe wasn't all that large, the values I plug into the drake equation give me lots of aliens. :)

On design without a designer: you believe (correct me if I'm wrong) the universe is too complex to have come into being without a designer -- yet under christianity, that designer is even more complex than the universe. How could he have come about without a designer? The answer given is that God just is; he wasn't created. Why, then, couldn't the universe just is?

Incidentally, there's a great paper on a semi-similar subject here.

cruise (September 27th, 2002, 10:51 am)

There we disagree. Again, in an infinite (or very large) universe, luck is not necessary.

The universe isn't infinite, yet. It has quite a definite age, and probably size. Unimaginably big, yes, but if you think it's sufficient for a decent chance of life to spontaneously appear, then you have a poor grasp of combinatorial probabilities :P

Do you have a reference for these Drake equations? I've not heard of them before, and in the way you used them, they would appear to be very clever...

the universe is too complex to have come into being without a designer

Many of the things /within/ the universe are too complex to appear spontaneously under this universe's laws. Outside of those laws, we couldn't hope to comment what is possible and what isn't.

The universe itself, could just is, but the conditions and contents seem too well arranged. I'm sure all here have seen Hubble telescope pictures. The "space art". Beautiful, isn't it? Exactly why should we find something so incredibly alien so beautiful? It seems part of us to appreciate everything in this universe.

That's a /very/ subjective comment, certainly, and equally as a big a generalisation. But it still carries some merit, I think.

aliens and cosmology

Ben (September 27th, 2002, 1:09 pm)

The universe isn't infinite, yet. It has quite a definite age, and probably size.

Incorrect: scientists simplify things by talking about the universe around the time of the big bang as being small, but they are either making reference to only the observable universe or to the increase in density (the two concepts go hand in hand). Currently there is no concensus as to whether the universe is spacially infinite; if it is, it began that way (smaller and denser than it is now by the same factor as if it was and is finite).

(Image stolen from SETI server :)

The Drake equation is a simple way of expressing the calculations necessary to find the number of intelligent races in (say) a galaxy. R* is the number of suitable stars formed per year; Fp is the fraction of those stars with planets (i.e. the ratio of solar systems to lone stars); Ne is the average number of habitable planets per solar system; Fl is the fraction of those planets that develop life; Fi is the fraction of life-bearing planets where intelligence develops; Fc is the fraction of intelligent races that develop a technological civilization; and L is the average lifetime of said civilizations. N, therefore, is the number of currently active civilizations capable of communicating with us. (Variations to the equation add other variables; the nice thing about the format is that you can add as many as you want without messing things up.) There's a auto-calculator here; entering fairly conservative values (which many, I assume, would consider outrageously conservative and many would consider outrageously optimistic :), my N is on the order of 10 (and even if the universe is finite, this galaxy is only 1 of thousands.)

The "space art". Beautiful, isn't it? Exactly why should we find something so incredibly alien so beautiful?

There are lots of alien things that we don't find beautiful; we take pictures of the few that we do (and heavily image-correct them in photoshop, I might add).

The universe itself, could just is, but the conditions and contents seem too well arranged.

I disagree (but we've been over that argument a few times now, so I won't bring it up unless you mention something specific), but even if that's true, why is the existence, out of nothing, of a cool and complex creator less improbable than the existence, out of nothing, of a cool and complex universe?

cruise (September 27th, 2002, 4:35 pm)

why is the existence, out of nothing, of a cool and complex creator more improbable than the existence, out of nothing, of a cool and complex universe?

Exactly my question :P I suspect you meant "isn't"...but I prefer it this way round...

Each aspect of this universe, taken in isolation, could conceivably have arisen by chance. But taken together, it's too much to expect to all have arrived within the current age of our inhabitable universe.

to only the observable universe or to the increase in density

Semantics. The bit of the universe where things happen / The area affected by the laws of physics as we know them / Area enclosed by the energy and matter produced in the Big Bang.

Ben (September 27th, 2002, 6:59 pm)

why is the existence, out of nothing, of a cool and complex creator more improbable than the existence, out of nothing, of a cool and complex universe?

Whoops =) Now corrected. (Still, the point remains: they should be equally probable, no? And if they are equally probable why not pick the one with fewer assumptions: that there isn't a God.)

Each aspect of this universe, taken in isolation, could conceivably have arisen by chance. But taken together, it's too much

Nono, you miss my point. I'm making 2 different arguments: 1st, I don't think it's improbable for all the apects of the universe that we see to have arisen by chance (for reasons we've been over, and, I think, agreed to disagree about, unless you disagree:). 2nd, even if it was too improbable, there's no reason it couldn't have happened anyway. Consider the hypothetical universe consisting of nothing but a chair and table and 2 people sitting at them, discussing existentialism. There is no concievable process (in the example) by which the furniture and people could have arisen though the laws of physics; nevertheless, they could simply always have existed, or could simply have sprung into existence for no reason. If you're going to assume something that just exists -- god, for example -- you might as well assume that the universe just exists, in all its (hypothetical) wildly improbable glory, and shorten the chain of cause and effect.

The Observable Universe

Ben (September 27th, 2002, 7:04 pm)

The bit of the universe where things happen / The area affected by the laws of physics as we know them / Area enclosed by the energy and matter produced in the Big Bang.

Incorrect. Relativity, with its limitations on the speed at which information can travel and thus the time that must pass for one region to influence another, has the side effect of segmenting the universe into pockets incapable of interacting with each other; our pocket is called the observable universe, but there is every reason to believe that it is only a small portion (perhaps an infinitely small portion) of the whole. (The pockets are expanding with light as it travels outward, but the the matter in the universe is expanding faster; in several billion years, our galaxy (and the small and large Magellanic Clouds) will be the only thing in the observable universe.)

Semirrahge (October 10th, 2002, 12:33 am)

Meanwhile,

Semirrahge (October 10th, 2002, 1:45 am)

...Back at the ranch:

I have a little bit of time to waste, so I came here. :P

Going back over the recent (10, is it?) posts, it seems that this place has died a bit with my (and Narain's) exodus. Unfortunatley, I don't have the mental energy to put down any good arguments, so.

Narain: Yeah, you pretty much hit the nail on the head there. I'm not really sure how to "say" what I "know". Does that make sense? My theology is not blind faith - I make sure of that - but explaning something that I've known to be fact for all my life to someone who's never thought of things from this point of view is proving to be extremely difficult.

As I've said before. My "literal" interpretation of the Bible is not total. The Bible must be taken in context with itself as a whole. You could take this to mean that single parts of the Bible cannot stand by themselves, but I'm not sure if that holds true for the ALL texts contained therein.

The Bible cannot contradict itself. This is the primary excuse for removing the credibility of the bible - there is a website somewhere that lists 101 contradictions in the Bible, I think it's the Islam site - But this is simply grabbing at straws. I'm not afraid of someone challenging the Word, because I know that you can prove it to be fact. Besides, what do I have to lose if the Bible is proven false? All it means is that I'm freed from a tremendously confining and complex system of rules. Why would I not want to live a life that is less rigid and constrictive? Does it honestly make sense that I would defend my beliefs if I only have chains and shackles to lose were it proven wrong?

Righteousness for righteousness' sake is bull. There's no "beauty" in self-flagellation and a moral code that destroys all sense of self esteem and individual importance, is there? If, at the end of life, I die and find there's no God, no Heaven, no Hell... Who loses more, me, or some non-Christian? (Of course, this is assuming that there is some kind of self awareness after death, but I'm referring to the life we had led before death.)

That said, align my belief with my psychology. Ego-stroking aside, I'm not a stupid or mentally inept person. I may not be the near-genius that I've been told I am, but I don't think I'm the type of person to be given over to delusions of this scope. I mean... Does it make sense to YOU that someone like me - who can think logically, has such deep interests in all kinds of sciences, and who is intensely aware of the interrelationship of truth with observational bias - would blindly belive something so irrational, never bothering to prove anything?

There is obviously something to my beliefs, correct? Something that can't be proven by factual, so-called "scientific" basis - at least, not at the moment. I've never managed to figure out how to explain the existence of a supernatural to someone who refuses to accept anything as fact unless proven by equations. Or, as Ben put it, proven to not be wrong at this present time.

Ben: Yeah, you misunderstand me. I can't remember why ATM, but one thing I can point out is the fact that in both World Wars, the Allies were not the aggressors. There is something in the human psyche that tells us that if we are acting in defense then it's not our fault.

And again, the U.S. was involved in those wars precisely because they did not want some distant government dictating mandatory political, moral, and religous policy over otherwise independantly free citizens. Perhaps that is my point: one cannot demand that the whole of society follow a personal moral code. Again, this is hard to explain.

You will probably say that my usage of God's moral code as presented in the Bible ("It's not my rules or decisions - I'm simply following instructions") is simply a convenient way of exempting myself from breaking my own rule, reminiscent of the scared child projecting her fears onto her toy bear: "Mommy, Teddy's scared!".

This is not correct. :)

I have to run, my sister wants to watch Trigun. I'll come back and finish up later.

Ok.

Semirrahge (October 10th, 2002, 3:53 am)

I left off talking about how God's morality is more than a mere projection of personal moral codes. This is, I am afraid, another of those things what are not easily explained, so let me move onto my next bit and try to explain that.

Cruise: I should have guessed that you were a Jehovah's Witness. I thought some of your theology sounded a bit odd. :) I am a conservative Christian (Protestant - different from Catholic. And, I think I may have mentioned before, "catholic" originally meant "universal", whereas now it refers to a theological system). I would style myself Fundamentalist, but I dislike that label because Fundamentalists are generally so intolerant.

I don't believe in "races" - the term itself is racist. The Bible never refers to "races", only peoples and nations. I could go on about this, but it's a little off-topic.

Perhaps my exact theology could be explaned by the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Amen.

*The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many people have accused me of simply stating rote and dead text. Somehow if you can't say things in your own words, the information contained therein becomes invalid. However, what happens when someone says it better or more concisely than you can?

The above Creed states the basic and essential tenents of the Christian faith. Every aspect of my interaction with society - Support of the Government, belief in Capital Punishment, knowledge of the individual right to personal freedom, etc - is based upon the Word of God.

I also believe - and this is my next, and, hopefully, last, point - that men are something other than what they do. Nothing a man does is permanent, and this also includes what he (and his circumstances) makes himself.

No man is one set person all his life. Let me see if I can elaborate upon this.

Everything about you can be changed to some extent. Understanding of one's self and others can affect the way our thoughts are processed; Knowledge of physics leads to innumerable changes in the way we view the world... etc.

However, more to my point are the subtle bits of morality: A man who tells a lie, or a bunch of lies, is not necessarily a "liar". Granted, the more lies a man tells (or, more accurately, the more craven and self absorbed he becomes through not facing up to life - but that's too deep to get into right now), the more likely he will be to lie in the future. But it does not mean that he can't do anything BUT lie.

By extending this principle further, we can see that just because a man is a Christian or Buddist or Jew or Moslem or Catholic does not exempt them from performing acts of evil, for whatever reasons.

Just because I have intensly personal moral standards does not mean that I am immune from breaking laws and even my own standards. There is no way to prove that I will never kill, or even murder (yes, there IS a difference) someone.

This is the basic tenent of Christianity, though, sadly, it's perhaps the hardest to understand. Most Christians forget that we are to "Love the Sinner and Hate the Sin". I freely admit that Christians (at least in America) can be and often are the meanest people you could ever meet. This is what happens when you absorb a moral code without understanding it. The Bible explains that knowledge without temperance leads to pride.

Incidentally, these things I'm saying can be found in the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament, namely Romans, 1st Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians.

Back to my point. Whether or not you are a member of the true faith, you are never exempted from sin. And sin always has a punishment due. As I said before, the terrorists were wrong regardless of what they thought.

Another thing I think needs explaning is the fact that no one is any different from any criminal you could name. Jesus explains in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 that it's not the action we do that condemns us, but the thought.

I feel I'm outrunning myself, though... If this all makes sense, then by all means let me know - but I feel that I have not explained the nature of God fully enough for you to understand this.

I'm very very tired, so let me finish with this, and perhaps it will shed the needed light.

The "Ten Commandments" are absolutes. You will find that nearly everyone knows when they've broken one, regardless of whether they know of them or not. There are more than just those ten, of course, but contrary to modern psychology, feelings of guilt are not learned or projected societally.

Every human has a conscience, which happens to tell us that our natural inclinations are wrong. The proper roles of parents, church, government, and society is to teach us why those inclinations are wrong, and to train us so that we become less inclined towards them. I can't think of anyone who would say that theft, rape, or even simple selfishness is good. The ones who might would change their minds as soon as the tables were turned.

Backing up a bit, the Bible tells us that our conscience is God's Law "written on our hearts". This is one of those sections of obvious metaphor. You won't find words printed on the organ that pumps our blood, but I think you understand that. Another thing is the fact that in no way are we forced to obey these laws. Should we so desire, we can do what we wish, and eventually will sear our conscience in those areas.

The purpose of this law, and the training in the whys thereof, is to enable a certain uniformity in behaviour. Of course, no one will act the same as the next guy, and we are no supposed to emulate one another's behaviours. This inevitably leads to insecurity.

Rather, our behaviorial standard is an inhuman arbiter, God and His Word. Through this unbiased and impersonal (I use the term loosely - obviously the Word is intended for personal application) judge we are given the standards for our lives and our relationships with others.

I feel that exhaustion has robbed me of clarity. I will try and get back on next week and see whether I am understood clearly and to put up new thoughts.

And no - I still don't have my computer. :)

Heh

cruise (October 10th, 2002, 1:46 pm)

Welcome back :P

First, I'll reply to Ben:

why not pick the one with fewer assumptions: that there isn't a God

To me, that is the one with the most assumptions. Assuming there is a God is but one... :P

But yes, it looks like we will have to agree to disagree. We both see the same things, but each sees them differently. *shrug* Not much else can be done, really.

Semi: There's a quote I heard a long time ago, which is still one of my favourites. I believe it is my quote in my personal page here, in fact.

You can do whatever you want. You need only face the consequences.

This is the choice God has given us. In the Bible, is his instructions for the best way for us to live. We can choose to follow them, or not. But if we don't, it's likely that things will not go as nicely as they could.

I think that sums up most of what you were saying about morality, yes? :P

My my, is this thread still alive?

Narainsbrain (October 16th, 2002, 8:02 am)

I had come to the conclusion a few weeks ago that we weren't really going to get anywhere, thanks to the inexorable tendency of people to try to convince each other. Ah well.

So we agree to disagree. But hadn't we agreed (or ought to have had done so) since the beginning of the thread? What we were trying to do, I believe, is to find the source of the disagreements.

First, I thank Semi for that impassioned defense of his faith. Heh heh... I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I was trying to attack your religion (although, I admit, I've probably not been trying to avoid it as much as I should have). Shall I say again? I'm not trying to attack what your religion tells you to do. I'm sure it's very wise advice, and one would be foolish to act against it. All the world's major religions preach wisdom, at the level of human behavior. Don't kill, don't steal, love thy neighbour... absolutely. No dispute there.

Where the disagreement lies - not just between believers and athiests, but between believers of different religions - is what lies behind it, the mysticism of faith, God, heaven, souls and all that. And before you say that at least all religions say God exists, let it be known that Hindus have dozens of major gods (not to mention thousands of minor deities), while Buddhism doesn't even make a single mention of God whatsoever. Of course, I think you'll say now that all those religions are 'wrong', since they're not the true Word of God, and your faith is the only Truth.

Well, be that as it may... I'm hoping we can leave morality out of this from now. =) I've got more to say, but it'll wait till tomorrow.

Actually,

cruise (October 16th, 2002, 11:16 am)

Morality is good way of sorting this out :P

Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them."

Look at the actions of each group with differing beliefs. See how they behave. See how they treat others. Are they honest, non-violent, etc. ?

As groups, which beliefs have the most "moral" behaviour? That is another reason for my /specific/ faith.

I believe in God, because I cannot find any scientific rationale for evolution. I'm a Jehovah's Witness because as a group, their morality and attitude is unrivalled.

I'm not sure I agree with that

Ben (October 16th, 2002, 1:40 pm)

In practice, increasing your personal morality may be a good reason to join a religious group -- but it's never a logical reason to believe what that religous group teaches. Being Good doesn't make someone Right.

(That said, I'll point out as a side note that atheists tend to get slighted in this regard -- as individuals, they give as much to charity, etc., on average, as christians.)

cruise (October 18th, 2002, 9:48 am)

Being Good doesn't make someone Right

So what does? Admittedly it can depend on how you define "Good"...immediate good, individual good, good of society, etc.

Howver, "Good" capitalised suggest you mean something beyond that, and I'm curious under what circumstances you see that being the Wrong thing.

they give as much to charity, etc., on average, as christians.

Agreed. Which is why I gave it as a reason for my specific belief, rather than belief in God in general. Though please see my earlier comments about moral basis without a omniscient legislator :P

Cruise has a point, Ben...

Narainsbrain (October 18th, 2002, 11:10 am)

I suspect Ben just used capitals for Dramatic Effect ;) But anyway, I was just thinking that we unbelievers are prone to using arguments like that, but all it does is pretty much put a dead end to the discussion. I've done it myself, too, but now I'm beginning to realise it's not a good thing.

Okay, so being good doesn't make you Right, but since you can't be sure of what's Right anyway, I admit virtue does count to make you more likely to be Right in the eyes of a neutral observer. Ugh, a 'neutral observer' isn't a really elegant mental construction, but I hope you get my point. The Goodness it induces in its believers should give a belief system the upper hand.

Fine, all this is good. But are Christians really more Good than athiests, or believers of any other religion for that matter? Ben argued to the contrary, and I sure haven't seen any evidence to support Christianity in this matter. I once read that "Virtuous people will be good even if not legally bound to do so, while those with a criminal intent will find a way around the laws," (I'm paraphrasing because I don't remember the exact words) and I'd say the same goes for religion in the place of the legal system. Of course, I disregard Satanists in this context. ;)

In my view, athiests are just as Good as believers, so no religion is any better off than any other, or than athiesm.

As for evolution....

Narainsbrain (October 18th, 2002, 11:25 am)

"...why not pick the [theory/belief] with fewer assumptions: that there isn't a God."

"To me, that is the one with the most assumptions."

I've finally started to see what the believers mean when they say this. I suppose you're thinking that the athiestic answer to the question "Whence did this weird and wonderful world come from?" goes something like "Well, in the beginning, there was a big primordial soup stewing in the oceans of the young Earth, then by chance some molecules came together that could catalyse reactions producing more of them, thus forming the first reproducing entity, and then cells formed and unicellular organisms and then multicellular ones, and natural selection began producing more and more complex organisms from simple ones, and thence came insects and fish and dinosaurs and mammals and finally us!", and it looks very chancy and contrived, while the believer's answer is a wonderfully concise "That's easy. God made it."

Sure, that's a /much/ simpler answer. But the point is (1) the athiestic theory contains a /lot/ more information than the other, and (2) the true statement of Occam's razor is "entities should not be multiplied." Entities. Things we can't know about, like the Mind of God. That's an unknowable in the religious view, whereas the athiestic theory contains no such black holes.

/That's/ why evolution passes Occam's razor, and creationism does not. Of course, that's my view, for the application of Occam's razor is a very subjective thing.

One last thing:

Narainsbrain (October 18th, 2002, 4:29 pm)

If something sophisticated, meaningful and complex cannot arise without a creator, then the existence of the Universe implies the existence of God, but then doesn't the existence of God imply the existence of /His/ creator? And his creator's creator, and so on? What do you do with this endless (actually, beginningless) chain of creators, this hall of mirrors, so to speak? And if you're going to break the infinite regress somewhere, why not at the Universe itself?

Ahh...

Semirrahge (October 19th, 2002, 5:02 am)

Now THIS is a good argument. :)

But first, Narain, I was not under the impression that you (or Ben) were attacking my faith. I seem to be unable to get my thoughts across clearly in this forum. :(

I was trying to prove that without God, there is no reason for anything else, be it morals or even life.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, Eldritch, don't you think it's more reasonable for the genetic variances of humankind to have come from 2 genetically compatible life forms, as opposed to all animal life coming from one genetic type? Evolution requires too many explanations, caveats, and exeption clauses to be truly plausible. I know I'm going over old ground here, but I can't understand why it's unreasonable to assume that a simple object - say, a hollow wooden box - has formed naturally over (insert massive amount of time here), when it it reasonable to assume that something as massively complex as a hand can form by random chance - and that's not even bringing nerves into the picture. And a hand is by no means the most complex thing in the human body.

Take the Eye, or the Liver. You expect me to believe that Random Chance can do what 1000's of years of medical science (which has mapped the human genome, cloned animals, and can correct nearly all eye problems with laser surgery, driven by the greatest minds in history, can't do? And that does not even take to account reproductive and ecological challenges decreasing the chance of KEEPING this wonderful invention.

You can't cover all the holes in the theory. Evolution leaks credibility like a colander leaks water.

To me, God-The-Creator does not imply an easy, blithe, one-size-fits-all answer for life, the universe, and everything. Rather, it implies a beauty of design, a graceful combination of form and function into a single powerful unit. Look at the Tiger, or Lion, as they run across the plains or pad stealthly through the jungles.

Is it reasonable to say, "Look, son - that majestic creature is the result of 500 Million Eons of random chance! What a wonderful world we live in!"? Surely "Look son - God created that superb beast in order that we might see His loving and powerful hand." makes as much, if not more sense?

I'm sorry to go on like this... But it's frustrating that "education" has to mean "God need not apply". Just because God made it doesn't mean we have to accept our world on those terms! We are not forbidden, but encouraged to go and learn about the universe. "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?"

Ok... I can tell that dragging myself off of this rant will be impossible tonight, so.

Narain, I don't know how to "prove" God to you. How can He exist and not have a creator? How can He exist, period? The fact that He is triumvirate in essence and power also boggle the mind - not to mention that time and space do not apply to Him. Oh, yes, and be sure and remember that we still have a free will, even though He knows what we are going to do.

Who can tell God? Who can present to us a diagram of how He works? I don't know. I also don't know how to prove one of those self-proving math problems that I can never remember the name of.

Anyhow, I'd better go to bed.

Narainsbrain (October 20th, 2002, 6:35 am)

"I seem to be unable to get my thoughts across clearly in this forum."

Don't worry about it, everyone's having the same problem. =) "Communication across the... divide is inevitably partial." Thomas H. Kuhn, historian of science, quoted in James Gleick's Chaos. (The original had the word 'revolutionary' where I've put the ellipsis, since he was talking about scientific paradim shifts, but since the word indicates that one side is 'better' or the other 'obsolete', I decided to remove it in this context.)

"without God, there is no reason for anything else..." Really? I didn't catch that point in your last post. Wait, I'll go over it again.

[PgDn] *read read read* [PgUp]

Well, I think what you said is basically a detailed elaboration of your beliefs on morality and various other topics. And I can find nothing wrong with the moral views you've expressed: it's all good, especially the 'love the sinner and hate the sin' (which I have heard before, and which struck me the first time as very wise advice).

However, nowhere did I find that without God, all this doesn't make sense. So if you'd care to explain...

Okay, that's about all I have time to post right now, but it seems more and more likely that when I thought bringing evolution up again was a good idea, I was wrong. ;) I might get back to it, though, if you so wish me to.

By the way, you haven't answered the infinite-creators question: it looks like you've tried to sweep it under the rug, or maybe you didn't understand my point. I didn't say "If God exists, he must have a creator." I said, "Your argument for the existence of God rests on the belief that something complex cannot spontaneously arise from less complex things without a creator. But this very belief (your belief, not mine - I'm just following it to see where it leads) implies that God is at least as complex as the Universe He created, hence /He/ cannot arise without a creator at least as complex as Him, and the creator cannot arise without..." 'Complex' is admittedly a vague and ill-defined term, but whatever meaning it takes in the watchmaker belief is the same one being used here.

Edit: Whoops, I forgot to mention what the point of all that was. The point is that since the assumption that "something complex cannot spontaneously arise from less complex things without a creator" leads to an absurd result (it is, isn't it?), the assumption must be false, and hence cannot be used as an argument for God's existence. Meaning, the Universe doesn't /need/ a Creator. Of course, there may still /be/ a Creator, but you'll have to invoke some other arguments for that.

Semirrahge Edit: Fixed Narain's HTML... You missed your closing tag, dude. The whole forum was in Italic! Cruise, is this a bug? Oh, and bracket syntax does not work with the Italic tag. I edited this thing three times. :)

cruise (October 21st, 2002, 10:49 am)

If something sophisticated, meaningful and complex cannot arise without a creator, then the existence of the Universe implies the existence of God, but then doesn't the existence of God imply the existence of /His/ creator?

Spontaneous generation of information is impossible /within/ this universe and the laws that govern it (at the place in space and time we are currently measuring). All current theories suggest these laws are inviolate, certainly for the timespan over which life is hypothesised to have arisen. Hence, under current theories, I am forced to conclude this information came from outside our observable sphere of space-time, possibly outside of space-time entirely, where such laws may not hold true. Outside of time, there can be no beginning. God just was/is/will be.

But the point is (1) the athiestic theory contains a /lot/ more information than the other, and (2) the true statement of Occam's razor is "entities should not be multiplied." Entities. Things we can't know about, like the Mind of God.

1) There's a hell of a lot of information within the religious view too. God's creation of the universe as it stands tells us an awful lot about the sort of person he is, and his motivations.

2) You're claiming you know everything about the mechanisms of evolution? A completely unobserved, unrepeatable one-off event, that requires breaking a number of physical, chemical and biological behaviours and laws? There's one heck of a lot of "black holes" in evolution.

Virtuous people will be good even if not legally bound to do so, while those with a criminal intent will find a way around the laws

Agreed. However, certain laws produce greater gains when followed than others. The question isn't so much "how many people obey this rule?", but "how beneficial is it to obey this rule?"

No one would dispute the worth of obeying the law of gravity. People who ignore it tend not to fare so well. To me, moral laws are just as fundamental, even their effects not usually quite so dramatic.

Oh, and my comments about moral authority were waaaaaay down :P

Ben (October 21st, 2002, 5:12 pm)

Spontaneous generation of information is impossible /within/ this universe and the laws that govern it

Consider some of the simple patterns talked about in "A New Kind of Science" -- they're just dots that generate more dots via a ridiculously simple rule (I can't remember it exactly, but it can be expressed in less than a line of text). Similarly, iterative physical processes can produce great complexity through well-established methods. If you don't want to think of it as information puffing into existance, think of the universe at the time of the big bang as containing the current universe, very heavily encrypted.

A completely unobserved, unrepeatable one-off event

Evolution has been observed. Not macro-evolution, of course, any more than we see continents shifting around, but marco-evolution is just micro-evolution multiplied.

that requires breaking a number of physical, chemical and biological behaviours and laws? There's one heck of a lot of "black holes" in evolution.

If I thought evolution broke physical, chemical, or biological laws I wouldn't believe it. =)

cruise (October 21st, 2002, 9:29 pm)

think of the universe at the time of the big bang as containing the current universe, very heavily encrypted.

Information encrypted is still information. Unencrypting it doesn't magically produce it from nowhere.

macro-evolution is just micro-evolution multiplied

Not at all. Variations within existing forms is a world of difference from long-term additions to the information base, which macro-evolution requires.

If I thought evolution broke physical, chemical, or biological laws I wouldn't believe it.

That's the difference between us :P I just cannot see how evolution could be possible, you can't see why it wouldn't be...

Ah... crap.

Narainsbrain (October 22nd, 2002, 1:26 pm)

So we're right back where we started, aren't we? I should've known the infinite creators argument wouldn't finis the discussion so easily. Square One again: "Information cannot come out of nowhere." "Yes it can." "No it can't." "Can!" "Can't!" "Can too!" "Can not!"... Well, that's a bit of a trivialisation =) But, for all we've agreed upon, we might as well have been bickering like that.

A few questions, then, though they're mostly based on the same old arguments, and I'm not sure how long we can keep this up without getting altogether sick of the whole thing:

1. If life does not evolve, where did the half-reptile, half-bird Archaeopteryx (considered by those deluded evolutionists to be the link between dinosaurs and birds) come from? Why would it have existed at all? And where did it go? Oh wait, your argument is that life cannot arise spontaneously, but once it's here it can do whatever it likes, including evolve. Right? Dang. Well, at least, I don't see how Biblical-style creationism - in a general sense, considering the spirit if not the letter, where all creatures were created by God in a somewhat short span of time (well, maybe not, but that isn't important) and have stayed the same ever since - can make sense of it.

2. If information can't arise spontaneously, then what of... [I wrote a huge amount about chaos theory and deterministic but mathematically incompressible bit strings, and the post got really long, and I was afraid I was wandering off the topic, so I deleted it. This sentence stub is a reminder to me to come up with a less arcane example :) ]

cruise (October 22nd, 2002, 8:35 pm)

Information is like energy. It obeys the same conservation principles, vis: cannever be created nor destroyed, but simply moved from one form to another.

One of the thornier problems about blackholes is what they do with all the information lost inside...every particle that passes the event horizon is information...information which now appears lost, since one black hole is indistinguishable from another (more or less), and since information cannot be lost...it must go somewhere...yet nothing can escape a black hole...

I'd quote the New Scientist article again (I'm planning on subscribing to Scientific American too soon, so a least I'll have a little variety in my sources :P), but it's downstairs, and I'm upstairs...and I'm lazy :P

Ben (October 23rd, 2002, 4:25 am)

Information encrypted is still information. Unencrypting it doesn't magically produce it from nowhere.

True enough. But in this case, isn't it functionally equivalent?

A few points:

Semirrahge (October 23rd, 2002, 4:35 am)

I HAVE to get in bed, but this is SOOO interesting....

1) Life-forms CANNOT evolve. Only knowledge and technology can evolve. This does not include macroevolution and adaptation, of course, I'm strictly referring to genetic redesign. Random chance CANNOT EVER create new information forms, it can only- um. This will get too long. Suffice to say that any type of species change comes from pressure from some source or other, be it intellectual or ecological. It can't just "happen" - and even then cannot create a new genetic form, it can only ensure the survival/death of certain subtypes.

2) God does not exist, in a strict definition of the term. He just IS. Nothing exist outside of Him. In fact, even that is incorrect, because He is All there Is. Thus, He cannot have been created, and He cannot be understood or explained, because the points of reference we use for understanding do not exist for Him. Time, Space, Color, even Death or Good or Evil do not apply to Him. And, the "him" is simply anthopomorphism that He provided so that we could understand His primary role in our life.

3) The half-bird, half-dinosaur is just as inexplicable as the Coelecanth. Besides, man is in charge of the earth and everything on it. God has delegated the care of it's entirety to us. This gives us the power to to ANYTHING, be it good or ill - including destroying the ecosystem, ecological cycles, or ensuring that animals and forests are not wastefully destroyed by laziness and short-sighted greed.

Ok. Going to bed.

A few points:

Eldritch (October 24th, 2002, 1:23 am)

A litle other point.... CREATION IS IMPOSSIBLE. Can you create a fully diverse gene pool from TWO individuals. If you haven't bothered to check, the Creation story isn't even a Hebrew-created one. They picked it up(I believe from the Babylonians.) Another thing... What about Homo habilis,Homo erectus, and all the other hominids? I'm a Christian, yet I believe in evolution. Creation is not a correct theory to prove or disprove the existence of God... Only a way to create more conflict.

Evolution is proved in our own bodies. Some people(like me) have vestigial ear-moving muscles. We also carry the appendix, useless for us, but perfectly useful for digestion in certain animals. And we have tail-bones in our spine, suggesting humans might have once had tails.

I believe this discussion leaves us no closer or farther from knowing God's existence. For us Christians, he's there. For non-believers(I believe he still gives us all a hand), he doesn't exist. That's my way of seeing things, and I still have a Christian point of view for almost everything.

A few points:

Eldritch (October 24th, 2002, 1:33 am)

BTW, I only believe there was one way for creation to exist.... God put it all in motion, he started it, and created it in such a perfect manner that it would follow a pattern as to end in complex life-forms, cultures,societies, etc... So, in the end, he watches over, just to make sure nothing strays too far, considering, I believe that God gave us free will to do as we so desired. He waited for us to finally evolve and become his "masterpiece".

*sigh*

Semirrahge (October 24th, 2002, 2:29 pm)

I'm rather surprised to find that you are undermining your own position in your faith. It seems to me that you can't trust God, yet you say... Oh well.

I answered your genetic diversity question waay down:

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, Eldritch, don't you think it's more reasonable for the genetic variances of humankind to have come from 2 genetically compatible life forms, as opposed to all animal life coming from one genetic type?

And about your "proofs", have you ever thought to see if those "vestigial" things - Tailbone, ear muscles - had actual uses, rather than simply deciding that since education prooves that God can't create, then these things have to be proof of evolution? That's the same kind of reasoning that people did not like "Ocean Wild" for. You can't just jump to conclusions that fit your opinions. The scientific method is a lot like good storytelling: "Murder your darlings" - Your cool hero, fancy gun, beautiful world, etc - if they don't fit the story. If you don't, you end up with a hacky and incomplete tale.

Let me ask you this: If God lied about creation, and the Bible has that error in it, what else is a lie, then? How much can you trust Him? And aside from that, how can you even know He exists? The Bible is the primary source of the proofs of God, yet you have just stated that it lies, at least at one point.

It's like the "Faces of Death" video series. At first, I thought it was all real. Then I found out that some of the sequences were dramatized, and after that, I was never able to fully believe what I saw, unless it was obviously real - but even then, there was the nagging doubt in my mind: "what if they just did a REALLY bang-up job on this? how would I know?".

You see? Once a source of information is discredited, you can't trust ANY of it.

Anyhow, back on topic: The Appendix is functional for us. It is part of the, um... Endocrine/Lymph Node system, if my early morning memory serves me properly. And would not it seem logical that, since: if you eat properly, you never get appendicitis [sic]. It's only after you being eating in an unhealthy, western, high-fat, low fiber, high carbohydrate diet, combined with the standard lifestyle of an American that you get problems. Many, many people in third world countries do not get appendicitis. In fact, it's so rare that it can be life-threatening, because health workers don't know how to recognise it.

Anyhow, let me paste this little segment, and I'll go:

"What are the odds of 50 oranges falling by chance into ten rows of five oranges?

The declaration 'There is no God' is what is known as an absolute statement. For an absolute statement to be true, I must have absolute knowledge. Here is another absolute statement: 'There is no gold in China'.

what do I need to have for that statement to be true?

A) No knowledge of China.

B) Partial knowledge of China.

C) Absolute knowledge of China.

"C" is the correct answer. For the statement to be true, I must know that there is no gold in China, or the statement is incorrect. To say, 'There is no God', and be correct in the statement, I must be omniscient.

I must know how many hairs are upon every head, every thought of every human heart, every detail of history, every atom within every rock...nothing is hid from my eyes...I know the intimate details of the secret love-life of the fleas on the back of the black cat of Napoleon's great grandmother. To make the absolute statement, 'There is no God', I must have absolute knowledge that there isn't one."

Draw a circle. "Let's say this circle represents all the knowledge in the entire universe, and let's assume that you have an incredible 1% of all that knowledge. Is it possible, that in the knowledge you haven't yet come across, there is ample evidence to prove that God does indeed exist?

If you are reasonable, you will have to say, 'Having the limited knowledge I have at present, I believe there is no God'. In other words, you don't know if God exists, so you are not an 'athiest', you are what is commonly known as an 'agnostic'. You are like a man who looks at a building, and doesn't know if there was a builder.

The man who sees a building and does not know if there was a builder is:

A) Intelligent

B) A fool

C) Has an ulterior motive

Perhaps you have questions that hold you back from faith. First, almost every question you have about suffering humanity, etc., can be adaquately answered. Second, we have faith in plenty of things we don't understand. Did you understand the mechanics of television before you turned it on? Probably not. You took a step of faith, turned it on, and after it worked, understanding of how it worked wasn't that important. Was accept that there are unseen televison waves right in front of our eyes. We can't see them because they are invisible. For them to manifest, we need a reciever, then we can enjoy the experience of television.

God is not flesh and blood. He is an eternal Spirit- Immortal and invisible. Like the television waves, He cannot be experienced until the 'reciever' is switched on.

Here is something you will find hard to believe: Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21)

Either that is true or it isn't. Jesus Christ says He will manifest Himself to anyone who obeys Him. Approach the subject the same way you approached your first television set. Just take a small step of faith. If it works, enjoy it, if it doesn't, forget it.

Or have you an ulterior motive? Could it be that an 'atheist' can't find God, for the same reason a thief can't find a policeman? Could it be that your love of sin is clouding your good judgement? If the Bible is true, and Jesus Christ has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel", then you owe it to yourself to check it out."

cruise (October 24th, 2002, 5:44 pm)

Heh. Semi summed it up pretty well :P

Which is harder: Our current genetic diversity from one pair of humans, or every-single-species-that-has-ever-existed from a one primordial cell?

If creation is impossible for that reason, evolution is many times over for the same reason.

---

Ever considered other creation ideas, from many of the other races and tribes? Bizarre, ain't they? Not to mention often violent and/or lewd.

Then consider the Biblical account. God created each part of the universe in a realistic order, the universe, the earth, then the plants and afterwards animals "according to their kind."

Apart from the conflict with evolution, nothing contradicsts scientific knowledge. A marked contrast with the fantastic tales of anybody else.

POP!

Eldritch (October 24th, 2002, 9:28 pm)

AQnd there yo insert evolution. If we created a diverse ghene pool from two individuals, then some evolution HAS to have taken place so we'd up all like this... ANd I firmly believe in God, but I find Creation to be a myth. God might be all powerful, but as I mentioned before, you'd rule out the existence of beings ALMOST as smart as us(the hominids) because we're so important. Every human is a tiny piece of a huge puzzle. Think of this: You are a ssingle human in almost 6 billion, living in one county in one continent in one planet in one solar system in one galaxy, that floats along with other galaxies... We sudden;ly aren't as big as we used to be. God gave us the gift of knowledge and reason. So why shouldn't we reason our own faith? And as I said, ythere is no proof that Creation was God-revelated. How do you prove it? Moses( I believe he wrote it) was an old man by then! And I think a single cell has double the power of diversity and evolutin due to it's simplicity. it has less stuff to move around. Anyway, couldn't "Adam" and "Eve" be the two primordial cells with high evolutional stablty, able to divide and create and create diversity in adaptation and form. And anyway, back when the book of Genesis was written, there wasn't even a tenth of the knowledge we now have. What if God's revelation of "Creation" was a story more akin to actual theories, changed by someone unable to explain what he had been revealed, and turned it into something common people would understand. We'll never know, so you can't really prove creationism, or maybe(Though I think you can) you can't prove evolution. As big a mystery as trhe need for death(Though I believe that's a sign of God), the need for life forms to exist or why everything tastes a bit like something else.

What?

Semirrahge (October 25th, 2002, 2:43 am)

I'm not sure I follow everything you said, buddy...

Check your spelling and punctuation, and condense/rephrase.

This seems to be as good a time as any to bring this up:

My sister told me the other day that she heard on the radio (I don't listen to the radio or watch TV, so you guys confirm/deny this info as you wish), that scientists had located the gene in humans that allows us to talk. The plans are to plant that gene into currently dumb animals, thus allowing them to talk.

I personally am of the mind that they should do this, because it might prove some interesting things. First, animals, as far as I can tell, are not self-aware. This leads to the greatest difference between humans and animals, that of not being able to understand complex cause/effect relationships.

If animals were able to understand this, then the fear that animals get when injured (specifically, because of the pain - they don't know why they are hurting) would go away. Why are humans not afraid when they get hurt(pain)? Because they understand what happened and why. Understanding removes fear. What is the scariest kind of story/movie? The kind where the enemy is unseen or unknown. When you finally understand it, the horror of it goes away, and you merely have SUSPENSE as to whether or not it will be destroyed.

Anyhow, what other areas of animals are different from humans? Logical thought seems to require self-awareness, does it not? And what about the sense of right/wrong? In monkeys and dogs (monkeys I know from reading, dogs I know from experience), there is an obvious sense that they know when they've done wrong. But this seems to be a projected conscience (moral sense), coming from the human masters, rather than an internal sense of right and wrong.

For instance, if one trainer does not train his/her animal that a certain thing is bad, then when a second trainer punishes it for that act, it will probably not understand. Another way of looking at it is the fact that the moral sense is not internal. Therefore, depending on who they are with at the time, the same acts may or may not bring symptoms of "guilt". Granted, some (esp in dogs) reactions are ingrained so deeply that they will cringe in expectation of punishment even if no humans are around, but for the most part, animals will do what they please when by themselves.

This, interestingly enough, seems to have corollaries in relation to humans and the moral sense provided from God.

Anyhow, next point:

"And as I said, ythere is no proof that Creation was God-revelated. How do you prove it? Moses( I believe he wrote it) was an old man by then!"

Haven't you been Confirmed yet? Or do they no longer do Confirmation in the Catholic church? Or maybe you just don't use Luther's Catechism, is all. Whatever the reason, there are two particular verses that counter your point:

2 Peter 1:21 - "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;"

Moses didn't write the Genesis account; God did.

And, Adam and Eve CAN'T be cells, because God specifically said that they were humans, made in His likeness.

And you can't tell me that the Bible was authored in an attempt to allow common folk to understand it! There are many, many facts presented in the Bible that only recently have been proven true by scientific fact - some of them total paradigms in their historical significance. For instance, the trade currents (I can't remember the exact name ATM) are talked about in Psalms 8:8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas."; as well as Radio waves (or, some kind of electromagnetic radiation) in Psalms 19:1-4 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and knight unto knight sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun,".

In fact, that same passage might also be referring to the constellations in the stars. I don't know much about this sort of thing, but doesn't radio noise pick up when the sun rises? And how much information about many subjects have we gleaned from observing the night sky?

As my final point, the creation model provides a much more logical approach to conservationism. First, as masters of the planet, we are charged to take care of the earth and everything on it. Second, since God created everything for a special purpose, wouldn't respect for His superior wisdom and property inspire us to take care of it? Nothing is ours, we are merely caretakers for the short while that we live. We are to be judicious and loving as we work, so that the initial investment we are given is increased when the master calls us to account.

Animals are not as "valuable" as humans, in the sense that an animal life is worth less than that of a human, but ALL life is precious and not to be wasted or destroyed without reason. By the same token, the forests and other natural resources were put here for us to use - but not to waste. Waste destroys more than what you threw away, but, as in the case of the rainforest jungles, it destroys the ecosystem.

The earth is valuable because it is unique. The less there is of something, the less valuable it is.

Gah. I have to get in bed. More later - and yes, I will try to get off this creation/evolution tear.

Edit: For those of you who do not know, the funny usage of Italics in the scripture quotes delineates a word or section of words that are not directly translated, but implied. For the most part, the direct Hebrew translation is perfectly easy to follow, but when the grammar/sentence structure breaks down, they had to smooth it out so that it made sense. Each of these additions was marked so that the reader would understand that the Hebrew did not say exactly that - but I can state from personal experience that the original Hebrew is as close as you can get without getting verbose. This is why they make concordances and Hebrew/Greek dictionaries - so you can check it out for yourself. :)

Edit 2: Performed a Narain and missed my closing tag. :D

Edit 3: This thread is 100 posts old! Yay me! =D

What?

Eldritch (October 26th, 2002, 12:24 am)

One little thing...You yourself said God IS!!! Therefore, you counter your point by saying we look like him. His likeness refers to our abiility to be logical, to lova, to communicate, etc... And still, you haven't specified where the damn hominids came from.

Second, you must know, religion in English isn't my strongpoint. Believe me, I'm twice as good explaining in Spanish.

Third,I'll read those passages in the Bible and pass to my best ranslation, see if there is a difference.*note* seems the translation is the same. But I still don't believe in Creation.It's nearly absurd. It's a story... Were Jesus's parables(spelling? My brain is almost off) all true? NO, they were examples. The Creation's teaching lies in Man's disobedience, not the creation of the world. Besides, you're killing off my hominids( Yes, I like them :D).So then the hominids, proved to have had communication(the later ones) were some sort of damn error?Or maybe Adam and Eve were hominids, not Homo sapiens sapiens.

Fourth, Catholics don't believe in free interpretation of the Scriptures. That's why the Catholic Bible has explanations :D

One little thing: In Peter, it says the PROPHECY. Is the Genesis aaccount a prophecy? Yes, definitely God-inspired, but maybe mistranslated, misunderstood, etc, and not a prophecy.

And therefore, if you consider Allah to be the same God as the one we have, then the Muslim's Koran(Lots of splellings for that word) is also all correct, seeing as it is supposed to be also inspired by God?

a few things

Ben (October 26th, 2002, 4:15 am)

I've stepped out of this debate, and it's really late at night and I don't' have the energy to make a complete and thourough reply, but I'd still like to answer a few points (badly :)

If God lied about creation, and the Bible has that error in it, what else is a lie, then? How much can you trust Him?

I don't believe the bible to god-inspired, but if I did, that wouldn't preclude errors from being in it. Lots of people consider the bible to be the word of god filtered through people, heavily filtered; that doesn't make it completely false, just partially -- it means you have to use your judgement to determine which parts you think are true and which parts merely human error. Or perhaps, as Eldritch pointed out, it's a parable.

"What are the odds of 50 oranges falling by chance into ten rows of five oranges?

Not bad at all if 50000 oranges were dropped to begin with.

To make the absolute statement, 'There is no God', I must have absolute knowledge that there isn't one."

True enough, but by that logic, I'm agnostic with regard to absolutely everything (the existence of unicorns, for example). It's simpler just to call myself atheist.

The man who sees a building and does not know if there was a builder is:

A) Intelligent

B) A fool

C) Has an ulterior motive

A. :) This is where common sense fails -- as Einstein once put it, common sense is the collection of prejudices developed by the age of 18. You can't always generalize from everyday events to conclusions about the universe as a whole. Also, those who don't think the universe was created also generally, by extention, don't think that buildings were "created" in the sense that most christians would use that term.

You took a step of faith, turned it on, and after it worked, understanding of how it worked wasn't that important.

What about the placebo effect?

Which is harder: Our current genetic diversity from one pair of humans, or every-single-species-that-has-ever-existed from a one primordial cell?

The latter, assuming a million times as many years have passed between the first cell and now as the first human (by the bible's account) and now.

Apart from the conflict with evolution, nothing contradicsts scientific knowledge. A marked contrast with the fantastic tales of anybody else.

I recently read an interesting article on how the creation myths of hinduism align with string theory. I don't believe the connections are true, though; just as I don't believe the supposed scientific truths contained in the bible are really there. It's easy to find evidence for anything in a text if you look hard enough.

cruise (October 26th, 2002, 1:39 pm)

Yes, definitely God-inspired, but maybe mistranslated, misunderstood

Not much of a omnipotent God if he can't make sure his divine word doesn't stay un-adulterated. If God took the time and energy to give it to us, he'd take the time to make sure it stayed as given.

just as I don't believe the supposed scientific truths contained in the bible are really there.

I mentioned several of them earlier...but my points seem to have been ignored :P When Bible writers talk about a spherical earth, supported upon nothing several thousand years ago, I'd count that as a pretty accurate scientific truth. When the Mosaic Law includes numerous guidlines and rules dealing with dead bodies, excrement and other potential sources of infection at a time when such were used in medical treatments, I'd say they new their medicine pretty damn well.

Ben (October 26th, 2002, 8:42 pm)

If God took the time and energy to give it to us, he'd take the time to make sure it stayed as given.

I don't think it's a matter of time and energy -- God is, after all, omnipotent. From what I see about the way the world works, God (if he exists) follows some unwritten rules that I don't understand; I wouldn't be surprised if those rules precluded him from doing certain things to make sure his word wasn't misinterpreted, especially onsidering the things he has allowed to be carried out in his name (the inquisiton, for example). The argument that god wouldn't allow his word to be misinterpreted seems to me a bit like trial by fire -- God would never allow an innocent woman to burn to death, so if she burns, she's a witch.

I mentioned several of them earlier...but my points seem to have been ignored :P

Sorry about that. As I said, I didn't have time/energy to respond to anything in depth. But with regard to the earth being spherical, the bible never says that -- it's a bit ambiguous, since there's no greek or ancienty hebrew word for "spherical" but by my reading it says the is round in the two-dimensional sense, like a dinner plate, which is what people thought until the time of the greeks.

As for the second point, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't rub excrement on cuts even if the bible said it was a good idea. =) It's part of the built-in disease-controlling mechanisms humans have; if any cultures were really so dysfunctional as to perscribe that as a medical treatment they were the exception, even before bible, not the rule.

Hmmm...

Eldritch (October 27th, 2002, 12:56 am)

I'm startibng to second Ben in many of his views there... And one little thing, as Ben said, the prophets could have been "filters", as he put it. They could have changed what they didn't understand.

Second, the "purity" laws of the Hebrews were also applied in a sense that those who were sick or infected or anything of the sort were shunned. There lies a grest difference in Christ's teachings and the Old Testament: He loved those who were sick, marginated, mistreated, etc...

Third, I don't think God really needs to stay making sure his Word wasn't misinterpreted. Half the crimes committed in God's name were caused by misinterpretation of the Bible.

Fourth, they weren't that advanced medically anyway, considering they thought illnesses, deformities and such somatic problems were caused by either your parent's previous sins or yours.

Um...I'm seeepy and my brain isn't working properly, so that's as far as I'll go.

Well--

Semirrahge (October 28th, 2002, 2:03 am)

I was beginning to think that no one was going to bring up counter points... :)

I'm really tired after a long weekend of gun show, and also because I've just come off a day-long caffiene high without having eaten anything to speak of.

I intend to be terminally brief. :)

First, have you stopped to consider that maybe there is truth to the heridity of defects and spiritually/psychologically caused diseases? It's well-known that some types of epilepsy, for instance, are incurable outside of a lobotomy - has anyone cared to check up on the statements of Christian theologians, testing to see if perhaps SOME types of epilepsy are spiritually caused? And what about certain forbidden acts that cause transmittable genetic defects?

Second, OT law is no longer a mandate under NT teachings. The law is still in effect, but it's no longer... How to explain this? Agh. Not tonight.

Third, I point again to the verses about divine inspiration. And, what good is a rulebook that only means what you want it to? It's like a speeding law that says, "The residential speed limit is 30 MPH, unless you feel that speed is too slow.".

A corollary to this, countering the "free interpretation" point, is the verses that speak of hiding God's law/word in our hearts; His Word as a lamp to guide our way; His statutes/precepts being as "reigns" that guide our behaviour; and finally, that meditation upon the law will bring wisdom, and make us "wiser than all" our teachers.

It says nowhere that we are to follow the word of some spiritual leader over the Word of God! Why is one human better than another at deciding what God's word means? Besides, _IF_ the Word has errors in it, then how can a priest/pope/cardinal/preacher/student/etc arrive at a conclusion WITHOUT errors? It's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't"-sort-of-thing.

Fourth(a revisitation of point the Second), the NT makes it clear that it is up to US to make sure that we do the right thing. If the people had bothered to diligently search the scriptures, they would have found that the things they were doing were not only unsupported, but they were also forbidden! Nowhere in Scripture is torture EVER condoned. Death, yes - torture, no. AND - the death sentances in the OT were given DIRECTLY from God Himself. Through a Prophet, normally, yes - but the penalty for a false prophet was death, normally instant - and normally delivered straight from God, not by his servants. And, since the NT, prophets of that sort are extinct. God no longer presents new and modified rules to man through visions, etc. Everything we are to learn from God will come from His Word.

How can a fallible, imperfect human interpret the ineffable Word of God as it applies to my life?

Fifth, As I've said before (which seems to have been forgotten/ignored), God will never _MAKE_ us do anything. He may apply tremendous pressure upon us, but He will never MAKE us do anything against our will. If we read something in the scriptures to mean something totally opposite of what it means, then it's our fault if we go and spread the error, or even kill for it. The NT presents a new level of personal accountability with God. God is no longer the vengeful, smite-the-wicked-with-fire-from-heaven, wrathbringer of the OT. He is our Good Shepherd(applied to Jesus, yes, but the Triune God is one, after all), and our Father. The Greek refers to "Abba Father", which is an intensely personal prefix, meaning something along the lines of "daddy". This is not something you call a strict, domineering and overbearing stepfather, but something to call the father you love and adore, who likewise returns the affection.

You see? I guess not, you probably never will understand my points. So much for being "terminally brief"... I'm feeling a bit discouraged because not only do none of you understand where I'm coming from and misunderstand what I say, we keep going over the same old ground.

Besides, where's Narain? Maybe he didn't agree, but he tried to understand.

"The thread that would not DIE!" :p

Narainsbrain (October 28th, 2002, 3:32 pm)

Every time I'm away for a day or two, when I come back I feel this thread isn't going anywhere; then as soon as I get into the thick of the discussion, I want it to never stop. =)

Right, a lot has gone on in this thread in the couple of days I've been away, so let me go over what I've missed, one-by-one:

Cruise: On morality, yes, you're right, it was a bad argument I had raised. The virtue, or lack of it, of a belief's followers is not necessarily a true indicator of its intrinsic value. So then we need to consider the 'true' morality of a belief system, not the morality of its believers, which do not follow it perfectly. That CAN be done, but there are some deeper issues involved in it, and if I start talking about those, I'll go into Axiom Mode again. Let's save that for later, for the sake of the topics currently under debate.

"Information is like energy. It obeys the same conservation principles, vis: cannever be created nor destroyed, but simply moved from one form to another." Actually, information (by the mathematical definition) obeys no such conservation laws. It's easy to destroy information: just burn a book and then try to read it. ;) Creation, on the other hand, is tougher, but a little chaos theory + information theory shows that it is possible. I'd go deeper into that, but you'd claim that the process isn't 'really' 'creating' 'information' (any one of those words could be considered the operative one). Which is a justifiable claim; the trouble lies in the fact that what you mean when you say 'information' isn't what I mean by it, and then the debate deteriorates into one of semantics. So, for the sake of discussion, let's assume that there is SOMEthing (call it, um, coolness) which is conserved. Where does that get us?

Nowhere new, actually. For what we have now is an argument that goes something like this: coolness is conserved, and we can see a lot of coolness in the Universe, so since coolness cannot arise from nowhere, there must have been a Creator who PUT the coolness there. Interesting. But we could have said that of energy in the first place and sidestepped the whole evolution debate. After all, energy IS conserved (mass/energy, actually, if you want to be picky), and there IS energy in the Universe, so where did IT come from? And charge? And momentum?

Well, who cares where it came from? The role of a Creator seems to be only initialising the Universe with certain values of mass/energy, momentum, charge, and (if there actually is such a thing) coolness, after which it goes off and follows its own rules. And if the Creator doesn't add or take away energy from the Universe during run-time, what makes you say He does so with coolness? Besides, the first thing you said was that it's conserved, so the Creator can't interfere anyway.

Semi: "The half-bird, half-dinosaur is just as inexplicable as the Coelecanth. Besides, man is in charge of the earth and everything on it..." After this, you went off on a tangent about ecological awareness and whatnot. But, uh, isn't Archaeopteryx explicable as the transition state between birds and dinosaurs? As for the Coelecanth, its discovery was certainly surprising, but I don't know what inexplicable about it. At least, Archaeopteryx is inexplicable only from the creationism point of view.

Your analogies are cool too, but the problem with analogies is that you can come up with an analogy proving almost anything if you're inventive enough (and we Transferents certainly are! =). Here, a few counter-analogies:

1. "There are no unicorns in China." What do I need to have for that statement to be true? Okay, bad analogy. Rhetorically weighted. Forget it, I was just trying to show that a counter-analogy CAN be constructed =)

But anyway, you're right in saying that absolute statements require omniscience. And since we humans can by nature have only a finite amount of knowledge (mixed in liberally with misinformation :), we have no right to make absolute statements, and anything we claim must have some doubt, some possiblity of being wrong. Congratulations, you've just rediscovered my Axiom One. =p But I'm not even saying that God does not exist. I'm just saying that whether he does or does not is currently unknowable, but the assumption that he doesn't is an equally valid and in some ways preferable opinion. You, on the other hand, claim that God DOES exist and that's the TRUTH! Isn't THIS an absolute statement? Feel free to think it over. Yeah, I'll wait.

2. What are the odds of 50 oranges, which have fallen by chance all over a slope, to be found at the bottom of the slope?

3. The man who sees a perfectly symmetrical crystal and does not assume that there was a builder is what?

Order can arise without need of a sentient being to impose purpose or design onto it. Certainly, the examples I have given are very simple ones, but there are more complex process which occur naturally. There is a chemical reaction which, when poured into a petri dish, produces beautiful alternating spirals of red and blue that seem to appear spontaneously. I remember Cruise's protest that the complexity actually came from the experimenter's careful choice of the setup (he said it in the context of cellular automata, but it's clearly applicable here). But, as one can easily imagine, the person who discovered this reaction had no idea it would produce such spirals when he first happened upon it. He didn't deliberate choose the reagents with the intent that they would produce the regular oscillations in concentration that create the patterns. The complexity came from somewhere else: it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say it arose spontaneously from the favourable conditions in the reaction mixture.

Cruise again: "every-single-species-that-has-ever-existed from a one primordial cell?" Well, at first glance, that is a huge problem, so let's take the standard approach of dividing it into smaller subproblems. =) First, from one primordial cell, make many. Thousands. Millions. That's easy. Now make them diversify. A little harder, but not really impossible if they spread out and live in different environments. So you have a few different species of living thing. Lather, rinse, repeat until fade. ;)

The crucial point is that (and this may be something Ben hasn't stressed enough) evolution isn't blind chance! Randomness is just a trick used to explore possibilites. Natural selection is the driving force, or at least, one of the driving forces. But randomness isn't one, and the theory of evolution isn't merely an infinite-monkeys scenario. Evolution doesn't randomize blindly. Rather, it randomizes to get slightly different genotypes, and the actual evolution occurs when the fittest survive. The analogy of oranges scattered on a slope does apply, because as oranges have a natural tendency to roll downhill no matter where they are, so do living things have a natural tendency to evolve into more well-adapted species.

"...nothing [in the Biblical Creation] contradicts scientific knowledge..." I think this is a highly controversial statement, to say the least... As far as I know, the Bible is open to reinterpretation. The seven-days-of-creation idea already has been: originally, it WAS interpreted literally, wasn't it? I could be wrong. But if I'm not, then it has been reinterpreted as speaking of seven periods of creation, not literal 24-hour days. There may be more instances of such reinterpretation to bring (the accepted meaning of) the Bible in line with scientific knowledge. The line taken by Christians is usually that the Bible is, and always has been, Truth, and it's just that we read it wrong. But then, you can never be sure what the Bible really is talking about, for you might be reading it a little wrong right now too. And, by the definition of the concept of 'truth', you can't even consider whether some statement is true or not if you don't know what it means.

Okay, the remainder of the posts (mostly Semi's huge ones) to be taken up later. Not tomorrow though.

"The thread that would not DIE!" :p

Eldritch (October 29th, 2002, 12:39 am)

EXACTLY! I am currently applying a Christian's point of view. I consider myself a Christian. I believe in God, Christ, The Holy Ghost, etc... Seven days might just represent 7 periods. Not everything in the Bible is meant to be interpreted literally. If you take it by seven periods, it's actually pretty close to what is supposed to have happened....Not necessarily exact, but close enough. I ,personally, can't prove or disprove Creationism, but I do believe evolution is a much more viable way for life to be the way it is than Creationism...Because I don't like it when you kill my hominids =P.

Edit: I swear, I had edited this...My cnnection went dead when I re-posted.

"The thread that would not DIE!" :p

Eldritch (October 29th, 2002, 12:39 am)

HELLo!

Just snipped this one and posted the content above.

You know, Eldritch, that you have a "edit" button. ;-p

Happy fraggin'!

Whew...

cruise (October 29th, 2002, 11:31 pm)

OK...in no particualr order:

It's easy to destroy information: just burn a book and then try to read it.

No problem, providing I have all the necessary measurements to analyse every molecule given off in the burning process, and the essential knowledge to trace each one back to it's original position on the page. Given all that, I can reconstruct the original book.

The information is still there...just in a different (and less convenient form).

Well, who cares where it came from?

Me...because if it came from someone as opposed to something, then there was a reason for it. Also, that one must know the best way of living in their creation. It would seem sensible to try and find the "instruction manual" for life if there is one.

isn't Archaeopteryx explicable as the transition state between birds and dinosaurs?

No, it's just a funny looking creature that happens to now be existinct. Why is that a problem? Just because it can be shorhorned into the evolutionary tree guessed at by anthropologists doesn't affect creationism one bit.

First, from one primordial cell, make many. Thousands. Millions. That's easy. Now make them diversify.

*nod*. My point was if that is possible, then it's a damn site easier to do it from two people :P (Of course, getting that first cell is the fun bit...)

As far as I know, the Bible is open to reinterpretation.

What isn't? I remember from University our Mathematics lecturer proving that all horses had one leg using basic logic reasoning. Anything can sound convincing given enough time to construct a good enough argument. But, likewise, given enough time (and evidence), any false argument can be shown to be wrong.

The Bible refers to seven periods of time. If people wish to assume that it means literal 24-hour days, that's their choice, but it isn't specified in the Bible.

What is specified, is that God made the universe and everything in it, then constructed the earth in seven stages, each of which follows a logical (and scientifcally consistent) progression.

if any cultures were really so dysfunctional as to perscribe that as a medical treatment they were the exception

This was Egypt. Back when they were one of the biggest (of not the biggest) world power. And when they were doing all that fancy stuff with maths and astronomy to build the pyramids. Not what I'd call a dysfunctional exception :P

Oh, and the Hebrew word used can me sphere or circle. If it meant a flat circular shape, surely "disk" would have been a better word? And there can be no disputing it's accuracy in specifying the earth was "suspended upon nothing."

those who were sick or infected or anything of the sort were shunned.

I think the term you are looking for is quarantine. Should the disease leave them, they were more than welcome to associate with everyone again. But, if you're carrying a potentially infectious disease in the middle of several million people in a hot, dry climate, you would want to keep them at a safe distance.

considering they thought illnesses, deformities and such somatic problems were caused by either your parent's previous sins or yours.

Wrong. Nothing of the sort was ever taught in the Bible. The Pharisees of Jesus' day had adopted this idea as part of their oral additions to the law, but it is not part of any Biblical teaching.

The argument that god wouldn't allow his word to be misinterpreted seems to me a bit like trial by fire

I didn't say misinterpreted. Just that it would be transferred accurately. People still have free choice in how well they choose to apply their comprehension skills.

evolution isn't blind chance

Really? How much difference does one mutation make to a creature, on average?

How many changes in the DNA does it take for a creature to gain wings, for example? Considering the changes in bone structure, tail, physiology and brain wiring that needs to occur. Plus extraneous things like the oil glands required to keep the feathers airtight.

That's one big lot of changes. Yet, until you get all of them together, none of the others server any purpose. All they are is unnecessary developments diverting vital energy away from muscle/brainpower required for survivng. Hey, you've just traded your two front limbs for a couple appendages you can't even pick something up with. That's really going to give you an edge in natural selection.

Natural selection doesn't help with anything other than the tiniest changes. Anything else requires too many alterations in one go before conferring any advantage. Which means you're right back at random chance again.

Whew...

Eldritch (October 30th, 2002, 12:10 am)

Btw, I MEAN shunned. Lepers, for example. They quarantined people during menstruation! That's exagerating. And, did I ever say it was taught in the Bible? No, I referred to the Jews(if you take it after the separation of Samaritans), as a people, not at the book. And they did do that, sonce they believed what their leaders said . I know what I mean when I talk about the Bible. I have had religion class for about 4 years at school... And yes, I read the Bible on my own. And You still haven't explained my so loved hominids... Maybe they were part of the considered "seventh period"? Maybe that opens a chance for both Creation and Evolution to occur. Why would God create creatures that would die out on their own? Perhaps he put the base, the grounding, with primitive creatures and let them take their course, but making them so as for one to end being the "perfect" creature, humans?

Ben (October 30th, 2002, 3:28 pm)

If it meant a flat circular shape, surely "disk" would have been a better word?

As far as I know, there is no word for "disk" in ancient hebrew. It's a very limited language.

This was Egypt. Back when they were one of the biggest (of not the biggest) world power. And when they were doing all that fancy stuff with maths and astronomy to build the pyramids. Not what I'd call a dysfunctional exception

Well, they were certainly dysfunctional in some senses -- incest was tolerated (the norm, even) in ruling families, for example. Anyway, are you sure about that manure anecdote? What's your source?

That's one big lot of changes. Yet, until you get all of them together, none of the others server any purpose. All they are is unnecessary developments diverting vital energy away from muscle/brainpower required for survivng.

Every change made that survives natural selection must be either positive or neutral -- thus, wings were created in a series of small steps, each one of which was individually useful (or neutral). There are innumerable examples of this at work; the way the jaw bones of our distant ancestors became tiny ear bones, for example.

Ben (October 30th, 2002, 5:57 pm)

The crucial point is that (and this may be something Ben hasn't stressed enough) evolution isn't blind chance! Randomness is just a trick used to explore possibilites. Natural selection is the driving force, or at least, one of the driving forces. But randomness isn't one, and the theory of evolution isn't merely an infinite-monkeys scenario.

You're right -- your orange analogy is much better tailored to this than mine. Still, it doesn't hurt to point out that while a very large (or infinite) number of monkeys isn't necessary, we in any event have a very large (and possibly infinite) number of monkeys. =)

cruise (October 31st, 2002, 6:51 pm)

Every change made that survives natural selection must be either positive or neutral

If it's neutral, how is natural selection meant to pick it out over anything else? If natural selection doesn't pick it out, then it's going to get lost again amongst the background noise of minor genetic variation.

So you're back again relying on chance to keep that change safe until the myriads of others all come along and it becomes beneficial.

did I ever say it was taught in the Bible? No
Then what relavence is it to our discussion about the accuracy of the Bible?

They quarantined people during menstruation! That's exagerating.

Go look in a medical reference and see how mnay diseases can be transmitted through blood. Then consider how many disease spreading/carrying organisms are going to be flocking to that blood now it's left the body. Like I said, in a crowded camp of several million, it's wise to be careful.

And I'm not sure why you're arguing against this, Eldritch? As Semi has already said, if you attempting to prove the Bible wrong here, why do you believe anything in it? How can you pick and choose what bits to believe, and what not to? That's no better than making it up, for all the basis it has.

.

Ben (October 31st, 2002, 9:37 pm)

If it's neutral, how is natural selection meant to pick it out over anything else? If natural selection doesn't pick it out, then it's going to get lost again amongst the background noise of minor genetic variation.

Every time mitosis occurs, there are hundreds of genetic transcription errors. Most of these will be neutral; of these, about half will be passed on to the each individual child of the organism and about half will not; because most organisms have lots and lots of children, almost all of the neutral errors will be passed on. In this way genetic change and variation accumulate.

Cruise...

Eldritch (October 31st, 2002, 11:01 pm)

Guess what! There's a DIFFERENCE between the old and new testaments :D I Have full belief in the NT, but I have DEEP doubts on the Old one.I think soemtimes the Edit isn't working, btw... I could've sworn I edited my other post... Anyway, then moving on, they also quarantined people who ejaculated :P I don't think that's half the source of disease as blood, now is it?

Another thing...When you read a book, do you believe all it says? If one book is all poweful and orrefutable, why bother to read any other ones afer it or even put your mind to work and question what it says? Truth is ,I KNOW you question everything you read. After all, why bother to read if it can't make your mind produce?

Is (almost) everyone giving up writing post titles? =)

Narainsbrain (November 3rd, 2002, 6:45 am)

No problem, providing I have all the necessary measurements to analyse every molecule given off in the burning process, and the essential knowledge to trace each one back to it's original position on the page. Given all that, I can reconstruct the original book.

What, are we taking turns at playing Laplace? :D

Burning is a very chaotic process, in the chaos-theoretical meaning of the word. You're going to find it next to impossible to predict the products given the initial configuration, and equivalently to reconstruct the original book given the products of its burning. Sure, you can make general statements like 'it will give off smoke' (prediction) or 'it was a very thick book' (reconstruction), but you can't reconstruct a single letter on any page, any more than you could predict what the final position and velocity of a particular carbon atom would be after combustion.

Information is effectively destroyed, and the claim that it can be recovered seems somewhat hollow when the measurements required for any reasonable degree of accuracy are far beyond the capabilities of any imaginable observer. Chaotic systems are very good at both creating and destroying information, if you go by what information theory calls 'information'.

But that's not the point, I suppose. In theory, at least, the information could be recovered, perhaps by God himself (notwithstanding the fact that he Knows Everything, including what the original book was ;) What implications would that have? What implications does the conservation of energy have? I don't know, and I'm not even sure the two are as related as I make them out to be.

But the idea that the Universe as a whole could have some greater Purpose is something striking, something I haven't considered before. This is something I don't want to discuss without deeper consideration. I'll get back to you on this. (Though off the top of my head, one analogy seems too juicy to let go: A human brain certainly does have Purpose, but one does not urge its component neurons to attempt to comprehend, believe, or serve that Purpose, nor to know the best way of living in that piece of creation. =)

As for evolution, I do believe you've got the wrong end of the stick, no offence meant (I wonder if saying that has any effect :) It's not as if a species as a whole gets the same mutation en masse and multiplies/dies out accordingly. I don't believe that's the picture of evolution you have in your head, but I can't be sure what you DO.

So consider a large group of animals of one species in a certain environment - 'environment' denoting everything else, including all other animals. In the next generation, some mutations occur, and the current generation has somewhat more variation in its genotypes than the previous one did. Does natural selection jump in right then and kill off the animals with negative changes? Of course not! It can't, not until there's enough variation to make a significant difference in survivability. So things go on normally for many generations, and over each generation the gene pool spreads out over a wider variation of genoypes. But this also gives greater power to natural selection: a wider gene pool means a greater variation of characteristics, and consequently a greater difference in the survivability of its induviduals. To take the word's analogy too far, one end of the 'pool' is deeper than the other, and people begin to drown; eventually, those in the shallow end are the only ones left. ;)

Sorry I haven't replied to any of your posts, Eldritch, but I have no clue what's in either of the Testaments. Heh, I don't know anything about Christianity.

Whoops, I forgot about Semi's post...

Narainsbrain (November 3rd, 2002, 12:31 pm)

I had promised to take up Semi's huge post later, then I completely forgot about it. I'd better get to it before he comes back. =) I hope he's coming back soon, it was nice having an emotional voice from the other side.

And while I'm on the topic of things I forgot to say, Ben, you're right, we DO have a very large number of monkeys, but people don't like that argument. And not just because they don't like being compared to a monkey's output ;) To look at it from the other side, would you believe that, say, H. G. Wells simply picked up The War of the Worlds as the best from a pile of monkey-typed manuscripts, even if you knew he DID keep fifty thousand monkeys at fifty thousand typewriters? Even if it was possible, one doesn't LIKE the argument, at least if it stands by itself.

Anyway, to get to Semi's huge post (way, way down, just before MY huge post):

First, have you stopped to consider that maybe there is truth to the heridity of defects and spiritually/psychologically caused diseases?

To be honest, no. But then, I haven't seen any evidence indicating it. I don't know much about epilepsy, but if you could elaborate on what the theologians say, maybe I could form some views on the matter.

...what good is a rulebook that only means what you want it to? ...Why is one human better than another at deciding what God's word means?

No good at all; and no, he/she isn't; I agree. That takes care of about three paragraphs of yours =) But how do you know if you've got the RIGHT interpretation? How do you know if you have realised what the Word of God actually DOES mean? Anyone else is no better than you at knowing God's Word; equally, you are no better than anyone else!

How can a fallible, imperfect human interpret the ineffable Word of God as it applies to my life?

I have no idea how. I also have no idea what you wish to prove by that statement. :) Maybe you were talking to someone else, perhaps Eldritch.

I'm feeling a bit discouraged because not only do none of you understand where I'm coming from and misunderstand what I say, we keep going over the same old ground.

I've been there too, Semi =) Thankfully or not, I reverted back into the I'm-going-to-refute-your-points-and-shove-in-more-of-mine-for-good-measure behaviour soon enough. But then, I suppose I'm not as emotionally involved in the topic as you are. I can't decide if that's a good thing. *ponderous moment* But I really do want to understand what you want to say. And I have to say, this thread certainly has been somewhat mind-expanding for me: I've realised that some things I took for granted weren't really that obvious at all; never mind that I sometimes came to the conclusion that they were true after all :) it does give one a deeper understanding of the issue.

Whoops, I forgot about Semi's post...

Eldritch (November 3rd, 2002, 11:40 pm)

Don't worry Narain :D It's ok, I'd rather no one answered my posts, so this discussion would just stop....We're not going to EVER convince anyone of either theory.

And now, Time Once Again For...

Semirrahge (November 4th, 2002, 1:14 am)

The Eternally-Long Post! heheh

This is the first time that I've taken my new computer online! Yay! Feel happy for me! :) I'll post needful geek info in my journal.

Now, on to the real stuff:

First, Narain: I appreciate your openness, if perhaps not to my point of view then to at least listening to what I have to say, and giving it a seconds thought. :)

Second, Re: the "burnt book" analogy: A book is not information. It contains information. These are not always the same things. For example, if I was to memorize the entirety of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" (nothing meant by that, it's just that the entire Chronicles of Narnia are sitting just over my right shoulder), and then someone goes and destroys - in such a way as to make it totally irreversable - every copy in the entire world, I would still have that information in my head. (Incidentally, the information would not be forgotten soon, because once I found out that the book was gone, I would recognize the value of what I knew. But that's another of my famous tangents.)

Perhaps an analogy more appropriate to this group is to consider a book to be a data-storage medium of some kind, preferably magnetic. Every thing that accesses this data will copy some of it, in some form or other, to itself and assimilate that data into itself as a whole. (The Borg similarities are coincidental.) If I may be allowed to digress a moment, I'd like to point out that "information" is actually "virtual", like data in a computer. Granted, too much thought breaks down the analogy, because of the way computers are set up, but I think you get my point.

When you destroy a book, or a pamphlet, etc - you are actually destroying a transmission medium; the networking cables, so to speak. The language and format of the material in question is analagous to file types and transmission protocols. (Sorry about this analogy stuff, btw... It's just that I'm always having to break computers down into something that relates to the real world in order to explain it to non-techie folks. I do it so much that I think like that. :P)

It is, theoretically, at least, possible to destroy information, but for all practical intents and purposes, it's impossible.

Third, Re: the human brain/neuron analogy: Well, my first thought to this is that the neurons are not self-aware, free-thinking, sentient beings. The analogy has it's good points, more than any of you probably realise, but I won't go into those now - but humans can't be defined as automatons with a single purpose. Ok. Well... Heh.

They can, to a point, in that God has a specific purpose in mind for each and every one of us, but you have to understand that that purpose is unknown to every living human. This is due to us having a free will, or a "choice". However - well, ok, this gets REALLY complex, so let me cut to the end and say that even after I die, no one will be able to say "Semi was but here on earth for such-and-such specific purpose," because perhaps my purpose for living and dying has not arrived yet.

My real point in saying all that is that human interaction is SO complex that even such a thing as seemingly simple, and, perhaps, pointless as a single human life is really totally incomprehensible.

Let me know if I need to explain this some more.

Fourth, Re: Various Biblical Points:

1) Leprosy and Diseases: Leprosy is NOT contagious, never has been, never will be. In fact, it's not as rare as you folks might think, unless maybe you've read Stephen R. Donaldson's "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant", but that aside, the famous Texas Armadillo carries Leprosy species-wide, seemingly without side effect. Heh. And I've touched one. :D Anyhow, I say all that because I'd like you to know that I know at least a LITTLE about Leprosy.

My real point is that while Leprosy itself is not contagious, it's major byproduct, gangrene, creates all KINDS of problems for a pre-antibiotic culture. Other than that, I don't know why God had the bad on lepers. He probably had a good reason for it, though. :)

As for the spiritual/psycholigical diseases, the ones I'm thinking of in particular are Epilepsy and Asthma. Asthma, not always, but VERY often, is caused by a fear of abandonment. Once a person loses that fear, the asthma goes away. I am not saying that ALL asthma is caused by this, but I've read many, many reports proving this to be true.

On the side of Epilepsy, you can read in the Bible about spirits causing people to have fits, foaming at the mouth, etc - but these aren't ordinary fits because they have the uncanny ability to have the fit around fire or water or otherwise hazardous location. Anyhow, there are some types of Epilepsy that are caused by spiritual influence, i.e. possession. Now, I've never personally seen a possessed person, but I have read/heard first hand accounts (sometimes from people I know quite well) about it. There are cases where doctors are unable to find the cause, or cure - by ANY means - a case of Epilepsy. Again, let me stress that NOT ALL CASES ARE SPIRITUALLY CAUSED. But, in these cases where the doctor is a discerning Christian, they either call on a Pastor or exercise their right as an independent believer and free the possessed of the spirit, and the Epilepsy leaves. I could give you resources, but if you don't believe me, then you certainly won't believe my sources. :)

2) Definition of "day" in Genesis: I will agree, the term "day" is vague, meaning a specific amount of time, but with no particular length attached. However, it ALSO says "And the evening and the morning were the first day." Correct me if I am wrong, but does not a day/night cycle comprise ~24 hours? Unless you know for sure that a day/night cycle uses more than 24 hours an iteration, then how can you say that the Genesis "day" means a period of time other than the normal earth day?

Aside from that, once you start thinking like that you begin to undermine the validity of the Word. This was the problem William Jennings Bryan had in the Scopes trial. I posted a link to this ages ago... But, I think I've beat this horse enough.

Fifth, Final Randomness Because I Have Typed Long Enough:

The hominids are nothing but an attempt to fit information to the theory. This is perhaps my biggest complaint against Evolution, because so many of the "proofs" require caveats and disclamers, or, barring that, they require great assumptions to be made. It's entirely possible that the hominids are simply one of the following: Badly constructed skeletons, deformed humans, or deformed apes.

Remember that your beloved scientists are not infallible; there was that, um... Brontosaurus, was it, that was found to be simply a incorrectly constructed skeleton? Or what about the Iguanadon, back in the original Crystal Palace exhibits? The thumbs, I think, were placed wrongly... Grr, my memory for specifics fails me just when I need it! But you can find out about all of these in any decent dinasaur book.

As per the Archeoperyx, uh, doggonit, Archaeopteryx (thank heaven for CTRL-C; CTRL-V!), Cruise has a good point. We know next to nothing specific about the earth at that time, could not have that animal simply been an early Dodo? Surely you don't think that the human disregard for ecology is new, do you?

Or perhaps that's one that did not make it through the flood, and the others died out because after the flood, their previous habitats were destroyed - and they simply did not have the decency to die in a place where their remains could be fossilised *gasp*. Or maybe they were bred so intensly that they lost one side of their uniqueness? Ok, that's REALLY far-fetched, I admit, but it might be possible.

Lets see... Anything else pressing that needs to be covered? Well, yes and no. I would like to counter Ben's points, but I get buried under intensive scientific knowledge that my admittedly limited knowledge can't answer satisfactorily - even though I know he's wrong. :)

Let me ask a question though, and I'll go: Does it seem to any of you that I am brushing your points aside without giving them enough consideration? I'm curious about this, because the LAST major debate I had, I was put on a 24hr ban from the channel I was in because neither of us understood what the other was saying. I think. :) Anyhow... On the the rest of the fora!

The Eternally-Long Post Part Two: Narainsbrain Strikes Back

Narainsbrain (November 4th, 2002, 6:46 am)

Yay for your new computer, Semi!

Okay, *deep breath* here we go! :)

The 'burnt book' analogy:

I know a book isn't information, and that when you read a book, you get the information into your head. That wasn't what I was talking about. I was saying, when you burn a book, you destroy the information which is in the book. Whether the same information happens to be replicated somewhere else (such as in your head) is irrelevant; the point is that the information that used to be in the book isn't there anymore.

It's really hard to tell from inside a discussion whether we're getting embroiled in technicalities here. Information is as amorphous a thing as a cloud: Can you 'destroy' a cloud? And if the same water molecules come together into another shape, is it the 'same' cloud? When you look at it that way, it seems the discussion is inevitably doomed to semantics, no matter how hard we try to keep it away from that limbo.

Humans are not single-purpose:

That'll teach me to shoot off an analogy without due thought. =) Again, I didn't mean that. In fact, paging down reveals I never called humans automata with a Single Purpose. I said they have Purpose (collective noun or abstract noun, whatever, but definitely not singular noun :p), by which I meant they have free will and act according to their own choosing. To be precise, this is another touchy issue, but I don't expect any opposition from the religious camp at least :) And whatever aim the person wants to achieve ('aim' and 'achieve' make it sound like some great deed, but it could be so much as lifting a glass of water from the table to one's mouth), it certainly isn't called for to urge neurons to act in such a way that this Greater Aim is fulfilled. Similarly, it is not our place to worry our pathetically finite heads about what Greater Purpose God has in mind for the Universe we inhabit.

But then again, I'm not pushing this analogy forward as The Truth, or even A Pretty Good Analogy. It's just something that occurred to me once, that I thought would be an interesting idea. Of course, humans aren't neurons. But the staggering idea of a Consciousness composed of human-level intelligences as a human mind is composed of neurons has taken hold of my mind and won't let go. I won't be able to talk about God in this context ever again: my imagination will always be drawn to a concept perhaps even more incredible than a greater intelligence outside of us - a greater intelligence built of us.

Forgive me my digression, I am prone to such meaningless ideas.

Spiritual diseases:

Asthma?? Fear of abandonment? I'll have you know I'm an ex-asthmatic myself. Okay, the experience of one person doesn't hold any statistical validity, but still, dude... Wait, whatever I say doesn't mean a thing, because there's always the possibility that I'm in denial :p

Okay, knee-jerk paragraph over. ;) I'll try to be a little more rational now. Many reports, eh? Hmm. I really don't know how to react. I mean, I don't want to dismiss something outright, but the reports you would indicate are probably filled with much mystical stuff that I don't particulary enjoy. I'll probably either give it up after a few paragraphs, or if it sounds at least a little reasonable, I'll take in the essence of it and interpret it in a way that removes all indication of supernatural phenomena. It's always possible to retcon something like that, and that's probably why this debate will never end.

A 'day' of Genesis:

So you're saying the Bible is to be interpreted literally? Oh dear, we have a disagreement between you and Cruise. However, it does mean that there is only one interpretation to the Holy Book, and that events actually did happen EXACTLY as is told. That seems to be a good thing, at least for now. We'll see where we can go with that.

Hominids and other dead creatures:

"It's entirely possible that the hominids are simply one of the following: Badly constructed skeletons, deformed humans, or deformed apes." That WOULD be a possible explanation, Semi, if there weren't so many of them, and several weren't found together, and if they were around today too. After all, deformities can happen to humans or apes today as well. So why don't we see them today?

The funny thing is, if you look at the skulls of different hominids in the order they're proposed to have evolved, you see a nice regular progression from ape skull through hominid skull to human skull. Of course, this doesn't PROVE the theory, since the theory itself was constructed with this in mind, but it sure does make one wonder why deformities would happen in that manner. The skull of an 'early hominid' looks like a deformed ape, that of a 'late hominid' looks like a deformed human; the skull of a 'middle hominid' looks like what? And why would an ape skull be deformed in such a way as to look halfway like a human skull, or vice versa?

Cruise said the Archaeopteryx was "just a funny looking creature that happens to now be existinct. Why is that a problem?" I seem to have overlooked that, but since you refer back to it, I'll take it up: Why in heaven's name would God create a funny looking creature that looks half dinosaur and half bird? And why would it happen to now be extinct? There were no humans around at the time, by the way. Oh wait, humans have been around since the creation of the Earth, according to you. Then it's possible I suppose, though I find it impossibly hard to bend that picture into line with what I believe about the prehistoric earth, like the existence and extenction of dinosaurs...

Say, all of prehistory and paleontology is crock then, is it? I'd really like to know how to fit dinosaurs and fossils and everything else into Creationism, because for the life of me I can't imagine how it can be done.

point <> counter-point

cruise (November 5th, 2002, 9:49 pm)

That method seems to wrk pretty well :P

The funny thing is, if you look at the skulls of different hominids in the order they're proposed to have evolved, you see a nice regular progression from ape skull through hominid skull to human skull.

Actually, no they don't :P The more skulls found the more they appear way off the line. Again, strangely enough, there was a recent New Scientist article about this (I ought to bind that to a keyboard macro...).

So you're saying the Bible is to be interpreted literally

So am I, more or less :P

"In my father's day, things were so different."

How long is the day I refer to there? The Bible indicates a transition period of light and dark, yes, but since the sunlight doesn't show up for a few days, somehow I doubt that's meant to be your usual 24-hour nighttime/daytime...

*shrug* Not sure it matters anyway. The Bible tells us God created the earth in six steps. How long those steps were matters little, really...and the Bible doesn't say which.

you destroy the information which is in the book

No you don't. The information is not the medium on which it is transferred. The book is merely dye on pulped plant matter.

Why in heaven's name would God create a funny looking creature that looks half dinosaur and half bird?

Why in heavens name would he create a mammal with a birds bill that lays eggs? Lots of people say it proves God's sense of humour. Whatever. But just because we don't understand the reason doesn't mean anything :P

point <> counter-point

Eldritch (November 7th, 2002, 1:53 am)

Okay... This is getting weird... MAybe we should close this for sanity's sake.

Yes...

Narainsbrain (November 7th, 2002, 1:33 pm)

Maybe we should. I have an urge to post one last message full of counterpoints, ostensibly for old times sake ;) ...but that will only drag it on longer, because it's sure to incite a salvo of replies.

...And don't nobody say "Aha, so you give up, eh?", because I'll start again! :D

Still, I dunno, it doesn't seem right to get up and leave this thread just like that, especially since we do have some live issues being discussed... If we quit it, we ought to do so by consensus, like we started the thread.

So, Cruise and Semi, what do you say? Should we end this thread with the dim dissatisfaction of something well attempted but not achieved, or do you wish to hear my counterpoints? Because I do have counterpoints - and that makes it really hard for me to decide whether or not to post them ;)

Hey

cruise (November 7th, 2002, 6:52 pm)

I'll keep on psoting as long as people keep on replying :P

Sure, we're probably never going to get anywhere, but hey...if nothing else it may make write some code to split threads into pages somewhere down the line.... :P

Hey

Eldritch (November 7th, 2002, 9:17 pm)

Uhm...We should stop :D Pesonally, I think this has been the most brilliant debate I've ever heard(or read for that matter) in all my short life... So, before everyone gets all evil and defensive, let's close this forever.

well

Ben (November 7th, 2002, 10:12 pm)

I say keep going. Eventually we'll reproduce all of human knowledge. =)

As things stand, it's fun to push ctrl+F and search for random words in here, seeing how long it takes to find one by association. I tried "igloo", which didn't return anything, then "snow", which got a bunch of stuff. :)

Two to one; the thread stays

Narainsbrain (November 9th, 2002, 6:03 am)

Edit by Ben: This was a double post, sort of. It was distracting, so I'm getting rid of it.

Two to one; the thread stays

Narainsbrain (November 9th, 2002, 6:03 am)

Wow, triple post! =)

Two to one; the thread stays

Narainsbrain (November 9th, 2002, 6:06 am)

"All of human knowledge"! =D I'd like to be a part of that... :)

Sorry Eldritch, you're outnumbered by Ben and Cruise (I was ambivalent - no, 'ambivalent' has connotations of laziness. I was dilemma-ed. =)

Okay then, counterpoints!

"...a nice regular progression from ape skull through hominid skull to human skull. Actually, no they don't :P The more skulls found the more they appear way off the line."

Yeeks, I can't believe I said that. I got carried away in rallying for evolution and started bending facts for rhetorical purposes. Hate hate hate myself. Of course evolution can't give you a nice regular progression! How dare I claim it does?

This is what I should have said: There are pretty much a LOT of fossil skulls that look like intermediates between apes and humans. Sure, there are going to be skulls that go off the line, but that's inevitable by the random mechanism of evolution.

Evolution is a multi-threaded, weighted random walk. Imagine a colony of ants heading off in random directions from the anthill looking for food. Each ant goes in random directions and changes direction haphazardly. They know by the smell of food if they're getting close, but they can't tell which direction the smell is coming from. They only know to give up and turn around if the smell becomes much weaker than it was. With this situation, what will happen? It doesn't take a great suspension of disbelief to suppose that eventually, all the ants will reach food. Almost the same thing happens in evolution, if you substitute genotype for position, mutation for motion, survivability for the smell of food, and the condition that if survivability is low, the ant doesn't turn around, it simply dies. ;p

Now if you looked at the paths of all the ants, there's no way you'll see a straight line from anthill to food. What you'll see instead is a hairy graph that explores a large area of the region betwen the anthill and the food, and quite a good bit behind the anthill as well as beyond the food. Ants will have gone every which way. But what's wrong with that, as long as you get to the food in the end?

Fossil skulls are going to be off the line for just the same reason: random mutation that wasn't directly 'better' but wasn't terribly suicidal either, and managed to survive for some time, until it was eventually displaced by the species that became so good at surviving that it multiplied and overran the other hominids' territory (and eventually the entire planet. ;) But in a general trend, the majority of hominid skulls do look like intermediates between apes and humans. Not precisely on the metaphorical straight line, but in the general vicinity of it.

"*shrug* Not sure [the length of a Biblical 'day'] matters anyway."

Yeah, I just brought it up as an example... I wasn't really that interested in the exact chronological interval the Creation took :p I was just saying, the Bible is somewhat vague in its language, and so it's hard to claim that it's scientifically correct: if it were ever shown that it's physically impossible for the Universe to be created in six times twenty-four hours, it would naturally be said that the 'day' doesn't mean twenty-four hours. Conversely, to claim that the Bible correctly states the Earth to be spherical is suspect for the reason Ben brought up: the Bible probably meant 'round' as a dinner plate. Either way, any claims on the correctness/incorrectness of the Bible are tenuous.

"The information is NOT the medium"

Gaah, there we go again! I know it's not the medium, but is it really that far of an inconceivability to say that the medium CONTAINS information? And if it contained information before, and it doesn't anymore, have I not destroyed it?

My hard disk contains, among various other things, a copy of Winamp 2.80. I don't suppose anyone would argue against Winamp being information, or against it being stored in my hard disk. Now if you were to take my hard disk and mangle it irreversibly - here's an idea, take it to a foundry and MELT it (just for argument's sake!! ;) - would you destroy the Winamp that is in it? According to Semi (or what I've understood of what he said), no, because there still are copies of Winamp around in the world. But they're not the SAME Winamp... Mine had, for instance, lots of customization like settings in its Preferences, skins, output plugins, and best of all, my own AVS presets. Even if you get everything else off the Internet, you can't get my AVS's, especially not the most recent ones that I've neglected to mail to my friends, and consequently that no one else has seen. That's okay, you say, because the source code for those presets is still in my head, so THAT information is still present. But I don't really remember exactly what it was... But I could figure it out if I tried hard enough, right? Perhaps. But suppose, in the heat of argument, I suddenly kill myself! And in my dying moments, I stubbornly refuse to reveal to you, against your frantic queries, what my last AVS was made of... Where's the AVS after I'm dead, eh?

Oh wait, the inconvenient Christian concept of the immortal soul dashes that argument: "The information is in your soul, silly!" Sigh...

"just because we don't understand the reason doesn't mean anything."

Well, if one theory gives us a good reason, and another doesn't, which one would you prefer?

Two to one; the thread stays

Eldritch (November 9th, 2002, 10:45 am)

Soul... The soul, I believe, no longer needs this trivial knowledge. I don't really believe the soul really looks like you or anything :P And I really believe God had soemthing to do with Evolution. I mean, he HAS to have created perfect system so the first few organisms that appeared would eventually(if randomly) evolved into perfect, complex, fully functional , higher organisms. And I think humans need a soul, and something trascendental in life, because otherwise, wht's the point of living? Trying to follow the law so you won't mess up a downhill society. I say, Souls!!! We must have them. Except we don't know why. The soul probably doesn't remember. It's, if you put it like this, just the piece of you tha doesn't rally belong to you...

Aha! Finally I manage to be on the side of one :P

cruise (November 9th, 2002, 12:30 pm)

I'm gonna against everybody else with this post now :P

the Bible probably meant 'round' as a dinner plate.

Probably? Why probably? Do you have some knowledge about the writer's of the Bible that tells you what they were thinking?

You can say no more about the intentions of the writer from that excerpt thatn I can. However, looking at other passages in the Bible, (as already mentioned), which are scientifically accurate ahead of their time, I'd say it was more likely that it was meant as globe. The Bible got the rest right, I'd tend to assume it got the last right too.

And if it contained information before, and it doesn't anymore, have I not destroyed it?

If I have a hot cup of coffee, and put it in the fridge, it won't be hot very soon. Have I not destroyed that energy?

Remember, information obesy the same laws as energy. The information in your head affects the physical structure of your brain. Which in turn will affect the exact balance and position of chemicals of the soil (presuming you are buried after your death) where you are buried. Which may, down the line, affect the way a plant grows, or even whether a plant grows, or whatever. The point is, an inteliigence can still look at any of those situations, and extract information of some form, that depends on the information you had previously on your hard drive in the form on Winamp AVS presets.

Oh wait, the inconvenient Christian concept of the immortal soul

Yes, which strangely enough, isn't taught in the Bible :P

Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 - "For the living are concious that they will die; buts as for the dead, they are concious of nothing at all...All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave, the place to which you are going."

Doesn't sound much like an immortal soul to me... :P

Gr.

Semirrahge (November 10th, 2002, 4:54 am)

On one hand, It would have been nice for this thing to have died - it uses up way to much of my time.

However, it's far too much fun to kill it. :) I'm glad it's still here.

But, you guys will have to wait till later for a new megapost. I'm tired and far too busy.

Narain, what's with your weird post? Why is it in here three times?

Anyhow, I intend to post up a nice long discussion pointing out why evolution does not make sense. I hope. maybe. :)

information

Ben (November 10th, 2002, 4:59 am)

I would side with Cruise on this, but for quantum mechanics. There's fuzziness -- for example, an electron that has a 50% chance of being on one side of an atom after a particular situation, and if you reset the clock and run it again, exactly the same, it will appear on the opposite side. (Hmm -- it's pretty late; I hope that made sense. =) This scales up, of course, through chaos theory, schroedinger's cat, etc. Thus, you can't trace things back in time with accuracy, and information is lost forever.

information

Eldritch (November 10th, 2002, 12:30 pm)

I would like to inform that as of now I will no longer participate in this debate.Thank you.

cruise (November 10th, 2002, 10:04 pm)

Why?

:/

Erm...

Eldritch (November 10th, 2002, 10:52 pm)

Because I have better things to do than discuss soemthing that will not go anywhere... So, I'm stoppig, off to read Ender's Shadow.

Discussion > Off-Topic > The Aye of Faith

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