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What Is the Difference Between Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design?

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What's the difference between creation, evolution, and intelligent design?


 
Creationism, Evolutionism, and Intelligent Design are three of the major positions on the question of how we got here.

What’s the difference between these positions?

That seemingly straightforward question proves surprisingly controversial.

Let’s take a look at it . . .

 

The Basic Question

The basic question at issue in the contemporary origins debate is whether or not the world was created.

It could be tempting to simply put participants in the discussion into two groups—creationists and evolutionists—and leave it at that.

Some on both sides of the issue would like to do exactly that.

In fact, some of the people who most readily identify themselves as creationists or evolutionists often speak as if these are the only two options.

 

Name Calling

Some creationists dismiss everyone who doesn’t hold their view as an “evolutionist” (using this term in a negative sense).

Some evolutionists dismiss everyone who thinks that the world was created as a “creationist” (using this term in a negative sense).

When this happens, the two camps are using prejudicial language. They’re calling each other names, and that doesn’t advance the discussion.

They’re also distorting the issue, because there are clearly middle positions on this question. In fact, there’s a spectrum of them.

 

The Spectrum

It’s possible to divide up that spectrum in different ways. In fact, it’s possible to divide it into a mind-numbing array of fine-tuned categories.

That gets unwieldy, though, and it seems that, today, most participants in the origins discussion would say that they advocate one of four major positions:

  • Creationism
  • Intelligent Design
  • Theistic Evolution
  • Atheistic Evolution

How can we describe these positions?

 

Creationism

The people most likely to identify themselves as “creationists” seem usually to endorse some or all of the following claims:

  • There is a God.
  • The world was made in a period of six, twenty-four hour days.
  • The world is only a few thousand years old.
  • God specially intervened to create the life forms on earth, without using prior, extinct life forms to do so.
  • The majority viewpoint in the natural sciences on the age of the world and the origin of present-day life forms is mistaken.

 

Intelligent Design

The people most likely to identify themselves as advocates of “intelligent design” seem usually to make the following claim:

  • The world (either the whole cosmos or just the life on earth) shows evidence of a scientific nature that suggests it was intelligently designed.

Most advocates also seem to hold the following proposition:

  • God exists and is the intelligent designer of the world.

This view, however, is not essential to their position.

 

Theistic Evolution

The people most likely to identify themselves as “theistic evolutionists” seem usually to endorse some or all of the following claims:

  • There is a God.
  • The world developed over a longer period of time than six, twenty-four hour days.
  • The world is much more than a few thousand years old.
  • God used prior, extinct life forms to produce the life forms we see today.
  • The majority viewpoint in the natural sciences on the age of the world and the origin of present-day life forms is correct.

 

Atheistic Evolution

The people most likely to identify themselves as “atheistic evolutionists” seem usually to endorse some or all of the following claims:

  • There is no God or, at least, we do not have good reason to believe that there is a God.
  • The world developed over a longer period of time than six, twenty-four hour days.
  • The world is much more than a few thousand years old.
  • The life forms we see today arose from prior, extinct life forms.
  • The majority viewpoint in the natural sciences on the age of the world and the origin of present-day life forms is correct.

 

Additional Positions

It is possible to carve out additional positions as well.

As with any spectrum, it’s hard to draw exact lines between them (e.g., where, exactly, on the color spectrum does red become orange?).

For example, some who would describe themselves as creationists (i.e., “old earth creationists”) would hold that the earth is much more than a few thousand years old but otherwise agree with much or all of the creationist viewpoint described above.

And there are other positions yet, but most people in the present discussion seem to advocate a variant on one of the basic four described above.

 

What Bugs Me

What bugs me is the way that advocates of these different positions often dump on each other:

  • Creationists often dump on the other three positions as lacking a sufficient appreciation of the Bible and as being either compromised by or completely sold-out to faithless, atheistic evolutionism.
  • Atheistic evolutionists often dump on the other three positions as lacking a sufficient appreciation of modern science and as being either compromised by or completely sold-out to anti-intellectual creationism.
  • Atheistic evolutionists and theistic evolutionists sometimes dump on intelligent design as being just a shill for creationism.
  • Advocates of intelligent design and theistic evolution, not wanting to be identified with creationism, sometimes dump on advocates of that view.
  • Creationists and advocates of intelligent design sometimes dump on theistic and atheistic evolution as ignoring scientific evidence that they believe undermines the idea that the world and life forms arose without outside intervention.

Of course, each of these schools of thought is different from the others, and people who hold different views inevitably have lapses in charity when discussing each other.

But it seems that there is a huge amount of heat that is brought to this discussion, and at times the origins debate seems to degenerate into a mutual snarkfest.

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Of course, people coming from different viewpoints will not agree with each other. That’s why their viewpoints are different.

It’s also natural and healthy for advocates of the different views to make their case and to cross-examine the positions of others.

That’s how we get at the truth.

But we can treat each other with respect and charity as we do so.

What would that mean in practice?

 

Recognizing the Differences

A first step is recognizing that there are, in fact, more than just two views here.

Talking as if there are only two views—creationism and evolutionism—and then using the name of the position that isn’t yours as a swear-word does not help the discussion.

It also does not respect the people you’re talking about.

It fails to recognize differences in their positions and it lumps them under a single, pejorative label.

That’s true whether it’s a creationist calling everyone else evolutionists or an atheistic evolutionist calling everyone else creationists.

 

No Shoehorning

A related step is not shoehorning everybody into one of these four categories.

If an old-earth creationist were to say, “Please don’t lump me in with the young earth creationists,” I would say, “No problem! The categories I have proposed here are purely for purposes of convenience. We can easily add new categories, based on who is participating in the discussion. Tell me what you believe and why and let’s talk about it.”

Similarly, if someone came from an entirely different religious perspective and said, “I don’t believe in any of the four views articulated here. I think that the universe was produced in a giant conflict between Apsu and Tiamat and Marduk,” my response would be the same.

The questions of how, when, why, and by whom (if anyone) the world came to be are all separate questions and can be answered different ways.

There are, in fact, a vast number of possible views, and I want to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their position.

The four positions articulated above are just four positions that happen to be common in modern American culture. They are by no means the only possible positions.

 

Good Will

Another step in treating each other with respect is presupposing each other’s good will.

It’s easy for people of different perspectives to suspect each other of having bad motives.

That’s a tendency that we have to check—and check sharply.

It is inconsistent with the Golden Rule, because if we want others to presume our good will, in spite of our disagreements, then we should presume their good will as well.

 

We’re All Human Beings

Something that may help us treat others with respect as we discuss the question of origins is recognizing the fact that we are all human beings.

None of us are members of a master race because of our view of the origins question.

There have been both geniuses and simpletons who have held each of the positions we’ve looked at in this piece. Holding a particular position does not make us innately superior or inferior to others.

Keeping that fact in mind can help us counter the tendency to look down on others because their views are different.

 

We’re All Fallible

Of course, we also all make mistakes, and that’s going to happen in the origins discussion as well.

We will, at times, use bad arguments, accept bad data, and have lapses of charity toward one another.

That’s par for the course.

But if we want others to treat us with respect and charity in spite of our lapses then we should strive to do the same for them.

What do you think?

 

What Now?

If you like the information I've presented here, you should join my Secret Information Club.

If you're not familiar with it, the Secret Information Club is a free service that I operate by email.

I send out information on a variety of fascinating topics connected with the Catholic faith.

In fact, the very first thing you’ll get if you sign up is information about what Pope Benedict said about the book of Revelation.

He has a lot of interesting things to say!

If you’d like to find out what they are, just sign up at www.SecretInfoClub.com or use this handy sign-up form:

Just email me at jimmy@secretinfoclub.com if you have any difficulty.

In the meantime, what do you think?

Jimmy Akin

Written by

Jimmy Akin is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a member on the Catholic Answers Speakers Bureau, a weekly guest on the global radio program, Catholic Answers LIVE, and a contributing editor for Catholic Answers Magazine. He's the author of numerous publications, including the books The Fathers Know Best (Catholic Answers, 2010); The Salvation Controversy (Catholic Answers, 2001); and Mass Confusion: The Do's & Don'ts of Catholic Worship (Catholic Answers, 1999). Many of Jimmy's books are also integrated into the Logos software. Follow Jimmy's writing at JimmyAkin.com.

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  • Rationalist1

    Puzzling as to why Jimmy Akin would deal with this. I thought the Catholic position on evolution was basically in line with the atheist one except that at some point human souls were placed in our ancestors. I remember reading a papal reference at some point to that effect.

    In honour of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species a series of books were published on evolution. One of the best ones, and I would highly recommend it is from the Catholic biologist Kenneth Miller. His book "Only a Theory" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Only_A_Theory) deals with evolution in the context of the Kitzmiller v. Dover case of a few years ago.

    • Rationalist, it's important to deal with these definitions because it's important to understand what (most) Catholics and (most) atheists believe when dialoguing about evolution and/or creation. For example, though some people see "Intelligent Design" and "Theistic Evolution" at odds, most Catholics happily embrace both without issue.

      • Rationalist1

        But I thought the Catholic Church accepted evolution. Why the fuss?

        • Serious question: What do you mean by "accept"? The Catholic Church typically doesn't officially accept or deny scientific theories.

          However she has taught, most clearly through the writings of John Paul II, that a Catholic can legitimately hold evolutionary beliefs so long as they don't preclude God.

          • Rationalist1

            The Church is cautious now as it got burned by the Galileo incident. It embraced the Big Band hypothesis quite early (actually over the misgivings of Fr. Lemaitre who originally proposed it). Did the Pope "slap down" a Cardinal a few years back when he was promoting an ore ID viewpoint (about 2005)?

          • stanz2reason

            Rationalist... the Big Band hypothesis? Is this the theory that Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington created the universe? ;)

          • severalspeciesof

            You beat me to it... ;-)

          • stanz2reason

            I couldn't resist.

          • "[The Church] embraced the Big Bang hypothesis quite early "

            This is not correct. Though most Catholics embrace the Big Bang, because it's good science and all the available evidence supports Fr. Lemaitre's theory, the Catholic Church has never officially embraced (or rejected) it. It simply doesn't definitively rule whether a scientific theory is valid--that's outside of its purview.

          • Rationalist1

            While you say the Church hasn't endorsed it, the pope emeritus said God was behind the big bang ( http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2011/01/07/god-was-behind-big-bang-universe-no-accident-pope/ )

          • Rationalist, first of all, nowhere in that article does the Pope mention or refer to the "Big Bang." The headline is misleading and thus so is your comment.

            Second, even if Pope Benedict *did* claim God was behind the Big Bang in the context of a particular sermon, that doesn't make it official Catholic teaching. I'm not sure whether you understand what qualifies as "Church teaching," since you've made this same insinuation twice now in the comment thread. The personal opinions or theological writings of an individual Catholic--whether layperson, priest, or even pope--don't necessarily qualify as "official Church teaching."

          • tedseeber

            Never trust the main stream media to either get faith or reason correct!

          • GreatSilence

            The threat comes in (among others) with the first domino of original sin, which has an impact on the need for redemption, which impacts on Jesus and his meaning, and in that manner certainly argues in the direction of "precluding God".

        • Rationalist1

          Fr. George Coyne, issued a statement on 18 November 2005 saying that "Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science." ( http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/2005-11-18-vaticanastronomer_x.htm)

          • Two things should be noted:

            1) It's not clear what Fr. Coyne means when he says "Intelligent Design."

            2) Fr. Coyne does not speak for the Catholic Church. His opinion is personal.

          • Rationalist1

            I realize that Fr. Coyne is only a priest and not part of the Episcopacy and therefore, like lay Catholics, cannot speak for the Church and at least one publication say he was sacked over this pronouncement ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-401950/Pope-sacks-astronomer-evolution-debate.html )

          • cathques

            http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0605165.htm

            Vatican Observatory head rebuts suggestions that he was fired

          • Greek Boy

            Yes but he's right.

          • Joe Ser

            I propose only teaching empirical science in science class, that is observable, repeatable and predictable. ID and evo would be taught in a mandatory philosophy class.

            Now onto ID the science:

            Is intelligent design a scientific theory?

            Yes. The scientific method is commonly described
            as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion. Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI).
            Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of
            their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed.

            http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php

          • Jesuitical

            Joe, many have employed scientific methods using your 4 step proposal, but have been proven wrong. When wrong scientists admit the error. Intelligentt design is the teaching of religion, not science, and thus does not belong in a science class. None of this obviates whether God employed evolution or not. What it does do is state ID is not science.

          • Greek Boy

            Listing Joe trying to talk about science is depressing. It would be like my claiming to be an Old Testament scholar because I read the KJV once. I won't bother to rebut him point by point, but he has no understanding of the mechanisms of evolution and his "factual" data largely wrong, half wrong, or out of date. For example scientists have observed de novo traits developing in organisms at the molecular level if they are placed under selective pressure. This did not adversely affect their overall fitness either ( the subject, I don't know about the scientists).

          • Joe Ser

            SInce we now know life has 500 or so conserved genes that does not surprise me.

        • Erick Chastain

          The best Catholic theologians back to Augustine accept evolution with no supernatural intervention as a means for every material thing in the universe to be created. Some Catholics want to copy protestants in their home countries, and be "tolerant" of different views. Ignore them. They are not fully rational citizens of the 21st or even 4th century AD.

          • Erick, you say:

            "The best Catholic theologians back to Augustine accept evolution with no supernatural intervention as a means for every material thing in the universe to be created."

            I disagree. In fact, I don't know of *one* notable Catholic theologian who claims evolution, without supernatural intervention, can explain how every material thing was created.

            In fact I know very few *atheist* scientists who would argue that evolution explains how all material things were created.

          • Erick Chastain

            perhaps I'm not communicating well. The Literal Interpretation of Genesis by Saint Augustine proposes this. Note that I don't mean evolution by natural selection for non-biological things, I mean material things producing other material things. Let's stick to natural selection and biological organisms though in this response. By divine intervention I mean that God intervening in the production of material things by other material things. It is clear that God must will anything that exists into being, including whatever formal properties of biological organisms that give rise to natural selection, but this is different than saying that God interferes with natural selection. In fact, the latter would seem to be inconsistent with God's omniscient and perfectly rational nature, as pointed out by Aquinas. Now per Aquinas' psychology, the human soul needs to have some kind of infusion of the spirit, and this requires an intervention at the level of the formal causes and final causes of humans, but not at the level of material causes.

            Let me know if you still disagree, but I think we are on the same side in this, so any disagreement must be due to semantic differences. Finding out what we mean by the different terms used should clear it up.

          • Joe Ser

            I direct you to:

            Interview WIth Lynn Margulis - http://idvolution.blogspot.com/2011/09/interview-with-lynn-margulis-natural.html

            And you don’t believe natural selection is the answer?

            This is the problem I have with neo-Darwinists: They teach that what is generating novelty is the accumulation of random mutations in DNA, in a direction set by natural selection. If you want bigger eggs you keep selecting the hens that are laying the bigger eggs, and you get bigger and bigger eggs. But you also get hens with defective
            feathers and wobbly eggs. Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create.

            and…

            I was taught over and over again that the accumulation of random mutations led to evolutionary change — led to new species. I believed it until I looked for evidence. …

            There is no gradualism in the fossil record… ‘Punctuated equilibrium’ was invented to describe the discontinuity. …

            The critics, including the creationist critics, are right about their criticism. It’s just that they’ve got nothing to offer but intelligent design or ‘God did it.’ They have no alternatives that are scientific.

            The evolutionary biologists believe the evolutionary pattern is a tree. It’s not. The evolutionary pattern is a web…

          • Erick Chastain

            whether it's neo-darwinism or some other variety of darwinism that is correct, there will be no need for instantaneous creation/design de novo of species.

          • Joe Ser

            Self organization? That is what is being proposed to replace the "modern synthesis".

            The question then has to be asked - who is behind the organization? God or the god of BUC? I don't think the god of BUC can lift a rock heavier than himself.

          • Max Driffill

            Joe,

            My goodness where do you get your information?

            That you have quoted Lynn Marguilis demonstrates to me that you are grasping at straws.

            "This is the problem I have with neo-Darwinists: They teach that what is generating novelty is the accumulation of random mutations in DNA, in a direction set by natural selection. If you want bigger eggs you keep selecting the hens that are laying the bigger eggs, and you get bigger and bigger eggs. But you also get hens with defective

            feathers and wobbly eggs. Natural selection eliminates and maybe maintains, but it doesn’t create."

            This simply isn't true. A breeder, selecting for larger egg size is not perfectly analogous to natural selection. Its called artificial selection for a reason. A breeder can control their breeding population absolutely and remove any penalties nature would impose on individuals. There are, in a breeder's packed farmhouse no other selective pressures imposed. This is not the case in the wild at all.

            To see how this is so, lets look at Anders Moller's classic work on Long Tailed Widow Birds. Males of this species have extravagant and costly long tails. Females tend to choose males with the longest tails.

            Moller et al wondered why these tails were so long, and what drove the evolution of this costly tails. Why should females prefer males with a costly tail? So Moller and his researchers caught males and either shortened, lengthened, or cut the tail but repaired so that it was the length it was before the manipulation. Females preferred males with the longer tails to males of tails with the normal average length and to males with artificially shortened tails. Females clearly preferred males with longer tails. If this was so, why weren't male Long-Tailed Widow birds possessed of longer average tail lengths.

            The answer is that female choice isn't the only selective pressure beating down on male Long-tailed Widow Birds. Longer tails, while conferring greater reproductive success, were also noted to having much greater difficulty flying. And in strong adverse weather had to land. Long tails have costs, and longer tails are more costly still. They require more calories to build, they make the bearer more vulnerable to the elements, and predation. It isn't just one selective pressure that shapes the phenotype, but a suite of pressures. Selective pressure optimizes species, and shapes them in a variety of ways.

            "and…

            I was taught over and over again that the accumulation of random mutations led to evolutionary change — led to new species. I believed it until I looked for evidence. …"

            You haven't looked very hard.

            "There is no gradualism in the fossil record… ‘Punctuated equilibrium’ was invented to describe the discontinuity. …"

            Punctuated equilibrium was indeed a fascinating hypothesis. It was created in time in which the fossil record was not what it currently is. The idea itself was also never very rigiorously defined by its developers and changed over the years. In any event, the fossil record is much more robust now than it was then, and its trends much smoother and finer grain.

            "The critics, including the creationist critics, are right about their criticism. It’s just that they’ve got nothing to offer but intelligent design or ‘God did it.’ They have no alternatives that are scientific."
            They aren't right because most of them aren't trained in biology. Nor are luminaries in creationist thought terribly honest.

            "The evolutionary biologists believe the evolutionary pattern is a tree. It’s not."

            No we don't, and haven't for decades.

          • Joe Ser

            You are demonstrating adaptation, which no one argues.

            So the fossil record showing the Cambrian explosion is incorrect?

            Well one of your fellow teammates claimed the tree of life still stands. Now it is more bush like. Agreed?

          • Max Driffill

            Adaptive changes can lead to speciation. As it has with the swallows.

            Say we have population A. over time assume some natural barrier separates a small number of population A giving us population A and B. Let us completely eliminate geneflow between the two populations. Our isolated populations diverge genetically via natural and sexual selection, and if given enough time,real behavioral and genetic barriers will form and what was once one population of potentially interbreeding members has become different species. When their populations expand they will not interbreed, or not successfully.

            We have done this in the lab, and we have seen speciation in the field.

            Here is what I think of the Cambrian "explosion." I think Gould wrote a lot of over-heated prose about it and made some erroneous assumptions about evolutionary processes at the time of the cambrian. Gould's gift as a writer, and popularity as a science popularizer tinted, in the popular press, how the Cambrian fossils were discussed.

            What do you think is significant about the Cambrian fossils?

            Yes phylogenies present more bush-like. But bushes and trees are just metaphors. What is crucial is the branching pattern of evolutionary relationships.

          • Joe Ser

            Right - OOL is most difficult and most evo's are very clear to keep evolution and OOL separate.

          • Max Driffill

            Joe,

            "Right - OOL is most difficult and most evo's are very clear to keep evolution and OOL separate.

            Its because they are separate, though related, problems. We understand the processes by which biodiversity arises quite well. We are not entirely sure about the origin of life. Its something we may never be completely sure about. It happened in the deep past, most of the clues have been erased by geology.

            We have several promising hypotheses, and know of no properties of chemistry or physics that would prevent the origin of replicating molecules (the barest minimum of a first stage required). In any event, it is something with which we may always have to accept some considerable ambiguity. All that said, there is absolutely no reason to insert religious certainty into what is an open area of scientific enquiry.

          • Joe Ser

            We understand adaptation better. The inference is macroevolution. But it is just that an inference.

            This is also the problem with evolution. Fossils are very rare. We are trying to figure out what a thousand piece puzzle looks like with half a dozen pieces. We have to admit there is a lot of guessing and we can be way off. How will we know?

            Molecules is one thing. Information and what drives it is quite another. We have to get to proteins. A good link -

            Essential reading.....a trillion trillion years or more
            http://idvolution.blogspot.com/2011/10/essential-reading.html

          • Max Driffill

            Joe,

            "We have to get to proteins?"

            Seriously?

            Are you simply unfamiliar with molecular claddistics? With genetic claddistics?

            Also the fossil record is spectacularly fleshed out and it conforms to evolutionary prediction.

          • Jesuitical

            Brandon, not true. Catholic theologians know what evolution is. They may not accept it as such, but they know what evolution is. Again, evolution is random and unguided. Anything else is conjecture or postulating an added belief.

          • Erick Chastain

            Catholic theologians do accept evolution as such. Don't misunderstand Brandon.

          • Jesuitical

            Eric, did I miss something...Brandon stated 'without supernatural intervention' that is their opinion and belief. Catholic theologians, indeed, know what evolution is, but do not subscribe to it as the theory of science states; random and unguided.

          • Catholic theologians, indeed, know what evolution is, but do not subscribe to it as the theory of science states; random and unguided.

            There is no person or body that speaks for Catholic theologians. You can, however, read a document produced by the International Theological Commission titled Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God. Anyone interested will probably want to skip directly to numbered sections 63-64 (and possibly a few sections following). It is interesting to note that there is not a hint of the idea of "first parents" in the document's description of the scientific account of the origin of humans.

            Interpreting Catholic documents is tricky sometimes, and it would be my reading of this that Catholic theologians have considerable leeway even if this document is considered binding (which it is not). Obviously a Catholic theologian will not subscribe to the concept of materialism in such a way that there is no room for God. But I don't think the document (which, again, is not binding) completely eliminates the possibility that a Catholic theologian can reconcile the existence of God as creator of the universe with the idea that evolution works by random mutation and natural selection.

          • Erick Chastain

            Well regardless of how you understand what Brandon wrote, Catholic theologians such as Aquinas and Augustine have no problem with material generation of material things. In fact, protestants accuse Thomas Aquinas of being a crypto-materialist at times because his view of natural laws can sometimes look like a Deist picture. I hold that at least these two theologians know the kind of thing evolution is, and have no problem in principle with it. As for contemporary theology, John Paul II says " the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously" and also "Today ..., some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis." This seems pretty unambiguously to point towards full acceptance of unguided evolution as the origin of the human species.

          • Joe Ser

            You might want too look at St Augustine's idea of Prime Matter. Chapter 9

            AUGUSTINE AND EVOLUTION - A STUDY IN THE SAINT’S DE GENESI AD LITTERAM AND DE TRINITATE BY HENRY WOODS, S. J. - https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B6fGBPFm16A2ZTI1MTQ4ZmQtZWE3Ny00OTQ1LTlmMjAtNDhkOWM2ZDRhMjhk&hl=en_US

          • Erick Chastain

            Material causes and efficient causes aren't enough to explain living things, certainly (how do these living things move themselves rather than being moved by external forces?). But this doesn't mean that efficient causes of species formation have to make reference to anything non-material. If in doubt that Augustine's position is congruous with this, consider that an Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel, first worked out the efficient causes of species formation without any reference to non-material things.

          • Joe Ser
      • Max Driffill

        Does it bother you that there is no evidence for either ID or theistic evolution? Both are deeply unscientific approaches to the problem of the origins of biodiversity.

        Its important to remember that for most people ID is simply code for Creationism. For a limited few others it may be some thing like alien intelligence that created biodiversity.

        Theistic evolution leaves us with, at the very least, a deeply callous and perhaps incompetent god as designer. Again the amount of death and waste at the heart of evolutionary processes as well as the problem poor and cobbled together design can really lead us to no other conclusion about the designer.

        Of course if it is just nature then there is nothing to explain. Evolutionary adaptation becomes about differential reproductive success.

        • Rationalist1

          "What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering low and horridly cruel works of nature!" Charles Darwin

          • Erick Chastain

            As a rational citizen of the 21st century it is impossible to be a creationist, ID proponent, or Theistic evolutionist (as defined above).

            Jimmy Akin I think gets it all wrong. Another position that Catholics can believe (going back to Augustine) is that evolution of all material bodies proceeds completely without supernatural intervention (so mutation + natural selection for biology). In fact, a God that is omniscient and rational would never intervene, because that would mean a change of mind (akin to Aquinas' view).

          • msmischief

            But it's Tuesday.

            Really, that's as good a reason as "21st century", and anyone who cites the time as an argument is not rational.

          • Erick Chastain

            The argument presumes one has accurate knowledge of contemporary evolutionary biology. And then applies basic reasoning to come up with their position.

          • Ian Bibby

            Maybe they can believe that evolution proceeded without divine "intervention" narrowly defined, but not that it proceeded without divine plan. In other words, an orthodox Christian must hold that God intended humans and deliberately created them, so our existence is every bit as much the result of specific divine intent as if it were accomplished by direct intervention..

          • Erick Chastain

            Note that the above statement says nothing about the material mechanisms used to construct material bodies. Science is only concerned with the material things. For St. Augustine and Aquinas, in Biology, God may only be necessary to explain spiritual properties related to humans.

        • Joe Ser

          One has to deny design exists. Since we all know it does exists we should investigate it. (personally I do not believe Theistic Evolution is a tenable position).

          Catholics are creationists by definition. We all believe God creates out of nothing and is the uncaused cause.

          For one to claim a bad design they have to know the mind of the designer as to what he hopes to accomplish.

          We are left with two views. God did do it or the god of BUC (blind unguided chance) did it. Both require faith.

          Pope Benedict - "Jacques Monod, who rejects as unscientific every kind of faith in God and who thinks that the world originated out of an interplay of chance and necessity, tells in the very work in which he attempts summarily to portray and justify his view of the world that, after attending the lectures which afterward appeared in book form, François Mauriac is supposed to have said: "What this professor wants to afflict on us is far more unbelievable than what we poor Christians were ever expected to believe."

          • Erick Chastain

            I am a Catholic. I am not a creationist as Jimmy Akins defines it above. Moreover, Thomas Aquinas was not a Jimmy Akins creationist. God creating the universe out of nothing in literally six days is inconsistent with Truth as discovered by Science, and the true interpretation of scripture can never be inconsistent with Truth (according to Augustine in the Literal interpretation of Genesis). In fact, here is a relevant quote from that text:

            Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

            I am trying to take up the work Augustine did, so as to prevent a Christian from talking non-sense on evolution.

          • Max Driffill

            Joe,

            I'm not sure that there is much in this that is even worth responding to but I will try to at least help you understand the position with which you seem to disagree, namely the unguided evolution of biodiverisity.

            "One has to deny design exists. Since we all know it does exists we should investigate it. (personally I do not believe Theistic Evolution is a tenable position)."

            Design exists some places true (in human architecture for instance). But in biology it is only the illusion of design, if by design we mean a conscious intelligence directing a building process (and for the case of the universe, the situation doesn't look designed at all). There is no designer, but an algorithmic process that results in the differential survival of genes. I agree completely that we should ask why things look so well designed. We have only been doing this well since 1859.

            "Catholics are creationists by definition. We all believe God creates out of nothing and is the uncaused cause."

            I suppose if such an unsupported duo of beliefs sits well with your mind (and the minds of all Catholics as you claim), you are quite welcome to it. This view, or course, has no place in science classrooms. Creationism is roundly refuted by the evidence. There is also no evidence for any gods, and the uncaused cause argument is a conceptual mess. But again, if you like it, its all yours.

            "For one to claim a bad design they have to know the mind of the designer as to what he hopes to accomplish."

            Not really. What we note is that organisms look very like what we would expect from evolutionary processes. That is to say that it all looks like jury-rigged structure built on top of and out of old jury-rigged structure. Why should a designer be so callous? Since evolutionary processes only maximize reproductive success and does not maximize health or longevity we see organisms more or less loaded with built in misery. These all look like accidents of evolutionary processes and make sense in that light. If there is a divine designer, he has not done well by his creations. As a long time Judo/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu player, I would love to discuss with the designer why my hands aren't every going to properly heal. But from an evolutionary perspective certain failures of my body's ability to recover make perfect sense. I am an animal whose average life span for most of its existence was around 3 or 4 decades (if extremely lucky). If gods did design us, I think we are entitled (all organisms) to ask for a refund, or at the very least, upgrades.

            "We are left with two views. God did do it or the god of BUC (blind unguided chance) did it. Both require faith."

            This is false in at least two ways. To start is is the offer, so common among creationists, of a false dichotomy. There are numerous views between your two options.

            Secondly views don't matter at all. What does the evidence support is what we need to focus on. It is also important to note evolutionary processes are not BUC. The only random element of evolution is mutation. Survival is non-random and based on selective pressures imposed by the local environment. Environmental changes can vary randomly, and change local selective pressures, so I suppose that is an element of randomness too, but that really doesn't affect the general picture of evolutionary processes, which the non-random survival of randomly varying individuals. It is unguided certainly. It is certainly a blind process.

          • Joe Ser

            How do you know it is only an illusion in biology? Is that an a priori position you take or based on evidence? How do you know the process was not designed? Do you know the purpose of the design? How do you know did not design a lifespan in? You don't.

            We are back to design exists. We know it when we see it. You believe it to be an illusion in biology, I don't. We both agree it worthy of investigation. Atheist challenge - if you are really only interested in the truth start a fund for design research instead of being hostile to it. It might be money well spent.

            The uncaused cause is well understood in philosophical circles, along with other support for a creator.

            Aren't you contradicting yourself? One one-hand biology has the illusion of design but in the next sentence it is cobbled together? Which is it?

            I can build a lot of thing with lego blocks. And yes some may look cobbled together to you. You may well have a paradigm shift when I share with you the purpose.

            Yeah, I wish Adam would have asked to replay that sad event which introduced corruption into the genome.

            You have a middle ground? I am all ears. Please share.

            We have no argument over adaptation. We all agree organisms adapt to their environment. Conserved core process make us superbly adaptable? Design or Luck?

          • Max Driffill

            Joe,
            I understand your familiarity with modern evolutionary biology must be pretty minimal. But I will try one more time.

            "How do you know it is only an illusion in biology? Is that an a priori position you take or based on evidence? How do you know the process was not designed? Do you know the purpose of the design? How do you know did not design a lifespan in? You don't."

            You are correct, I don't know with 100% certainty that there wasn't a conscious design plan. What I can say, is that looking only at the evidence of biology, I am quite certain, say 99.9999999999 % certain design (as I defined it in my last post) didn't occur. For one, because there is no need to posit a designer, and no evidence that would lead us to assume there was one beyond the blind processes we find in nature. That is to say, our explanation from evolutionary biology work fine without the assumption of CONSCIOUS design.
            If there is a conscious designer, it has chosen to look exactly like there was not one.

            "We are back to design exists. We know it when we see it."
            No. We have no reason to assume CONSCIOUS design at all. The evidence of biology indicates exactly the opposite.

            " You believe it to be an illusion in biology, I don't."
            I think, based on the evidence, that it is extremely unlikely that biological diversity was consciously designed. You will have to explain why you think there is a designer, but more than that, you will have to explain why there is no evidence of one. WHy should our models work perfectly well without that assumption?

            "We both agree it worthy of investigation. Atheist challenge - if you are really only interested in the truth start a fund for design research instead of being hostile to it. It might be money well spent."
            To fund ID, we would first need some evidence there was such thing to investigate. Your suggestion is very like telling me I should start a fund to study the population ecology of Sasquatch. There is no reason to believe any such research program amounts to the study of any real phenomena in nature. The situation for ID, is no better, and in some ways very much worse, than it is for Sasquatches.

            We already do study why biodiversity is the way it is, the why of animal morphology and behavior. That study is called evolutionary biology.

            "The uncaused cause is well understood in philosophical circles, along with other support for a creator." Well, understood? I'm not so sure. It is certainly exhaustively discussed. In any event its assumptions are not supported by any evidence in nature.

            "Aren't you contradicting yourself? One one-hand biology has the illusion of design but in the next sentence it is cobbled together? Which is it?"
            Not at all. The forms of organisms appear to be built by a design-like process. There appears to be no foresight in this, it is just that nature selects what variants succeeds. Let me unpack that. Variation exists in all populations and at all times. This variation is random. Some variants will do better in a given environment than others and tend to leave more offspring than other variants. If this variation is genetic it will be passed on to those offspring. If the environment is stable over a long period of time this successful variation will become common in the population. Over time a species can become quite well adapted to its local environment in this way. (For a real time view of this process in an oscillating environment, I would urge you to review the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant and their groundbreaking work on Darwin's Finches.)

            Hopefully you can see what I mean now by the illusion of design.

            "I can build a lot of thing with lego blocks. And yes some may look cobbled together to you. You may well have a paradigm shift when I share with you the purpose."

            Uh...yeah. Biology just doesn't look this way. Your analogy simply doesn't work.

            "Yeah, I wish Adam would have asked to replay that sad event which introduced corruption into the genome."
            Also, there is no evidence that there was ever any Adam and Eve, and mountains of evidence that this is mythology.

            "You have a middle ground? I am all ears. Please share."
            I"m not sure what you are referring to.

            "We have no argument over adaptation. We all agree organisms adapt to their environment. Conserved core process make us superbly adaptable? Design or Luck?"

            Evolutionary processes.

          • Joe Ser

            Good - back your 99.999999% claims with some empirical evidence.

            If we agree that design, even conscious design exists, then we should be able to agree it is possible in biology. If we see it other places, why be so adamant why not in biology. We already know the answer to that though, so you won't go there.

            Are you admitting evolutionary biology is a model? Subject to change? We agree there.

            You are aware the finches beaks returned to where they were? This is adaptation.

            Intelligent design does exist. You admitted it. Why not research it?

            The lego analogy does work. With a few simple basic building blocks, I can build multitudes of things.

            There is historical evidence of an Adam and Eve, our first parents.

            Look at your post. Do you support a middle ground?

            You chose luck.

          • Max Driffill

            Joe

            "Good - back your 99.999999% claims with some empirical evidence."

            I'm don't think I have to back my degree of certainty with empirical evidence. All I can do is tell you is the degree to which I am certain, and why.

            If you look at the history of life on earth coupled our understanding of evolutionary biology (that is to say the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis) there is no reason to posit more than natural causes for the evolution of life on earth. At no point in the history of life, or in our current studies do we see anything other than natural processes. And there is nothing that occurs that cries out for a conscious designer. If you are like Ken Miller, or Franscis Collins you can add one if you like. BUt if you do so, you are doing so without evidence. Our explanation works well enough with out any god assumptions.

            "If we agree that design, even conscious design exists, then we should be able to agree it is possible in biology. If we see it other places, why be so adamant why not in biology. We already know the answer to that though, so you won't go there."

            Its entirely possible that some being could tinker with the evolution of life on a planet, and guide the evolution of biodiversity. I am not adamant except in the following way. There is no evidence for such tinkering. So we can not reject the null hypothesis. Since we have no evidence for such tinkering there is nothing to talk about with respect to it.
            I am curious about where you think I will not go though.

            "Are you admitting evolutionary biology is a model? Subject to change? We agree there."

            Evolution is a fact. The Neo-darwinian Synthesis is the successful model (the mark of its success is its designation as scientific theory) for explaining that fact of nature. Like all of science is subject to change with new information.

            "You are aware the finches beaks returned to where they were? This is adaptation."

            I am quite familiar with their work. If however the environment had not oscillated the changes might have become more permanent.

            "Intelligent design does exist. You admitted it. Why not research it?"
            I admitted that humans designed things. I did not admit of ID, That I cannot do because there is no compelling evidence for it.

            "The lego analogy does work. With a few simple basic building blocks, I can build multitudes of things."
            It was not an accurate analogy the way you used it initially.

            "There is historical evidence of an Adam and Eve, our first parents."
            Such as?

            "Look at your post. Do you support a middle ground?"
            No. Not as yet. There is no evidence to support a middle ground. If by middle ground you mean between evolution and intelligent designer.

            "You chose luck."

            I'm actually not choosing anything. I'm compelled by the evidence to reject the idea of conscious designer in evolutionary processes or the origin of biodiversity.

          • Joe Ser

            I can conclude then if evidence is properly presented you are open to evaluating it. What evidence of design would you consider?

          • Max Driffill

            Joe,

            "I can conclude then if evidence is properly presented you are open to evaluating it. What evidence of design would you consider?"

            Quite so. I am quite open to being wrong and to evaluating new evidence.

            Demonstrating intelligent design in living creatures will require the demonstration of structures, behaviors, etc that could not have formed by the gradual piecemeal process of evolutionary change.

            I would also predict that a world in which there was massive tinkering with biological forms would present a very unique fossil record. There is no reason to assume that the fossil record of a tinkerers world should look like a fossil record produced naturally. Any proponent of ID should probably explain why the fossil record looks as if it was produced by the wasteful lengthy processes of evolution.

            Also, establishing ID is not the same thing as establishing a Christian god. In fact it would not help at all in this. There are numerous other gods for one. There is also the possibility that advanced aliens are responsible for the design and origin of biodiversity, and that they, the designers themselves, are the product of Darwinian processes on their home world (in fact, given the waste and inefficiency of nature, it is this latter proposition that would seem more likely to me). In any event, I think even if you could demonstrate ID in biological systems all of your work would still be ahead of you in demonstrating that the designer (designers?) was the god of Judeo/Christian traditions.

            Also, before going further, I have posed to questions for you.
            1. What evidence would you offer for Adam and Eve?

            2. You seemed to accuse me, in an earlier post of being unwilling to go somewhere intellectually. This seems very like accusing me of being intellectually dishonest (by way of cowardice I presume). You are going to have to spell out this charge directly.

          • Joe Ser

            Adaptations can leave much of the same record. The leap of faith macro evolution requires is well beyond that. What the fossil record shows is sudden appearance, stasis with limited variation. Living fossils showing ups everyday that look exactly as the fossils. (yeah I know these achieved max efficiency LOL) Then we have convergent evolution, the same trait evolving over and over again.

            Now front loadingg would also explain it. Pump the information into life. Program in instructions for different kinds of creatures and let her rip. This fits the fossil record real well.

            Your posts get convoluted so let's try to limit them so we can not get lost. We can tackle them one by one.

            Right, you are. The designers could be terraformers ala Star Trek.

            The lego analogy is a much better explanation.

          • epeeist

            Good - back your 99.999999% claims with some empirical evidence.

            Let's switch it around shall we. You claim that there is a designer, in the spirit of "he who avers must prove" then provide some evidence for it.

            Let's take a scientific theory, it doesn't matter what it is, call it T. This provides an explanation (in the sense of one of Hempel's covering laws) for a set of phenomena. If you want to claim that the theory requires an additional entity, say E then it is down to you to provide reasoning to show why it is necessary and how it improves the explanation. If it doesn't provide any additional explanatory power then why should it be included? This isn't a new idea, it is usually credited to the good friar William of Ockham.

            The lego analogy does work. With a few simple basic building blocks, I can build multitudes of things.

            The thing about Lego is that the bricks were designed by whole teams of designers, all of whom are mortal. They were also made of the same material as the universe they live in. Given the failure of the Lego Universe game it would seem that they are not omnipotent or omniscient either.

            If you are going to make an argument from analogy it really does behove you to choose one that has more similarities than differences between your two cases.

            There is historical evidence of an Adam and Eve, our first parents.

            But given you haven't provided a reference then how can we evaluate this evidence?

          • Joe Ser

            I am being swarmed with challenges from all directions. The time I can give is limited, so be patient, I will tackle these one at a time.

      • sheila0405

        I'm a Catholic convert, & I happily embrace Theistic Evolution & Evolution a la natural selection. For me, Intelligent Design isn't specific enough: I see the hand of God, through faith, in the construction of our earth.

        • Michael Murray

          So would the hand of your god be in the earthquakes and the tsunamis and the Loa-Loa worm? Not to forget cancer. The found a Neanderthal bone from 100,000 years ago that had had a tumour in it. I found that strange as I thought all the bad things where down to free will.

          • sheila0405

            Ummm....yes. I don't believe that natural disasters precludes the existence of God. Our natural world is very complex, and, at times, via earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes, seeks to balance itself. The plates under the earth are always moving, and the occasional lurches that cause earthquakes relieves the stresses along those shifting plates. Hurricanes bring water across continents, often serving as drought busters. Tornadoes and superstorms are the result of the earth trying to balance the extremes of hot and cold air. There is no reason to doubt that God made the earth so complex. So, again, yes, the hand of God is seen even in situations that cause immense human suffering. Sometimes you are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't see God as micro-managing that specificity. Sometimes things just happen, because of the laws of physics and how the earth works. But I also believe that God can use these terrible things to move the hearts of people to respond to fellow humans in their sufferings.

          • Michael Murray

            So your god is not omnipotent? They can't design an ecosystem with sufficient rain but no storms?

            Loa-Loa worm ?

          • Erick Chastain

            the view that God directly causes things that do us harm would imply that God is at least partially evil if he is omnipotent. This is actually what muslims believe, not Catholics.

          • Michael Murray

            Yep. You need to look up theodicy. The most common reason people don't believe in gods.

          • Erick Chastain

            thanks for the reference. Putting a name on these issues is useful. I used to agonize over this question of theodicy a lot, especially when I was an atheist for 10 years.

          • Sample1

            As an atheist you agonized over theodicy? I don't understand why you would. Can you elaborate?

            I used to agonize over this question of theodicy a lot, especially when I was an atheist for 10 years (Erick Chastain).

            Mike

          • Erick Chastain

            Hi Mike,

            I struggled with the question of how God could have been both loving and be the apparent cause of evil, and concluded that such a God was logically inconsistent. This is why I say I struggled with theodicy back then.

          • Sample1

            Hi Erick,

            English is my native language and yet I am still struggling to understand the picture you have formed in your original post.

            Is this a communication problem or did you really mean to say that when you were a non-believer, you "agonized" "a lot" over the problem of evil from a faith perspective?

            Forgive me, but that's like saying, because you are an ice hockey player you were extremely concerned about your dog's bowel obstruction. In other words, the conclusion doesn't follow the premise.

            Care to elaborate a little more? I really want to understand you.

            Mike

          • Erick Chastain

            Hi Mike,

            I don't think it is actually accurate to say that during that period of time I agonized over theodicy from a faith perspective. The agonizing was done before I became an atheist, but after that I still was bothered by how much evil there was in the world. Because I still was really pained by how much evil there was in the world--and for me at the time the world was my "God" in a manner of speaking--I say that I still agonized over the "the problem of evil."

          • severalspeciesof

            "the view that God directly causes things that do us harm would imply that God is at least partially evil if he is omnipotent."

            So exactly what caused the killing of the male first born of the Egyptians during Moses' time?

          • sheila0405

            There is another worm, whose name I forget, that resides inside humans, and comes out through people's legs. I don't see why you keep throwing worms at me. We also have Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, malaria, etc.. You are probably misidentifying my own concept of God. I reject the notion that God is omnipotent. But my reasons for doing so would take up too much time here. I am not what you perceive as a "typical" Christian, or even Catholic.

          • Michael Murray

            You did say you were a Catholic convert. How did you get away with God not being omnipotent. I'm sure that's dogma.

            You sound more like a Deist maybe?

          • sheila0405

            God can't create a rock too heavy for him to lift. That's one of the scenarios that atheists use to try to disprove omnipotence. God is subject to human free will, which he ceded to us willingly. The reason I am a Christian is that I believe God came to earth in the form of a human being, Jesus. Omnipotence is not a simple concept. I do not believe I am contradicting Catholic dogma with my views, because my reasons are a matter of theology, meant to be discussed with those who believe in God, not with atheists. There has to be a starting point of agreement (the existence of God) before I get into my own theological beliefs.

          • Michael Murray

            You are on a website devoted to dialogue between atheists and theists? Oh well I look forward to watching from the sidelines. Time to sleep anyway.

          • sheila0405

            This isn't what this website is all about. This is a Catholic apologetics site. Sleep well.

          • Michael Murray

            This isn't what this website is all about. This is a Catholic apologetics site.

            While I agree that is the reality of it the about page of this site
            says

            StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists.

          • Sample1

            The dilemma ebbs and flows. You can't explain that. :-j

            Mike

          • Erick Chastain

            God's hand isn't in those things.

            The bad things aren't just down to human free will. In the Catholic system, there are spiritual beings that have free will and can affect things like cancer, the weather etc....

            God can allow them to happen though, for preservation of free will, and bring the maximal possible good out of the bad consequences of allowing freedom.

          • Michael Murray

            Why does your god care about demons having free will?

            Can someone remind me want century I'm in?

          • Erick Chastain

            All spiritual beings are created with free will, including us. If spiritual beings didn't have free will then it would be impossible for God to know who truly loved him or not. God wishes to have a loving relationship with spiritual beings, not make us robots programmed to maximize order.

          • Erick Chastain

            As for mugglenet and why you may feel like you are on there.

            typically muggles don't understand magic. That's why they are muggles.

          • Michael Murray

            lol. So everytime I see god some catholic wizard hits me with a confundus charm. That's not very nice!

          • Erick Chastain

            lol. Just got an image of the ministry of magic as the vatican.

          • sheila0405

            I see God's hands in natural disasters, parasites, even disease. There are laws of physics that affect all of us, and sometimes it is just a random event that we are caught up in.

          • Marc M

            I apologize if this posts twice, Disquis is weird.

            Sheila, I don't think your theology as presented is at odds with Catholic teaching, because the examples you listed are not incompatible with God's omnipotence. For example, God cannot create a rock so heavy He can't lift it, because "a rock too heavy for God to lift" is ultimately an illogical idea, like a triangle with four sides, or a statement like "2+2 = banana." God is omnipotent, but we believe He is also logical. Indeed, if we did not, we would have no reason to think we could ever begin to answer any of these questions and theology would be pointless. The issue is the same for human free will and natural disasters, when it comes down to it. These questions only appear to interfere with God's omnipotence.

          • Rob VH

            Define "bad things". What we may subjectively label "bad" because it involves pain may have a very good purpose and end result. This is easier to understand when your perspective isn't limited to the temporal and merely physical.

            Let us not forget that Jesus was falsely accused, tortured and crucified. One can scarcely imagine anything "worse" and yet the outcome was the most important event in all of history.

            Anyone who thinks that pain or suffering somehow runs contrary to or even disproves the idea of a loving God should pick up a copy of C.S. Lewis' famous treatment of the subject called "The Problem of Pain".

            Take care.

          • Michael Murray

            Define "bad things".

            Children dying of cancer.

            This is easier to understand when your perspective isn't limited to the temporal and merely physical.

            Seriously ?

            One can scarcely imagine anything "worse" and yet the outcome was the most important event in all of history.

            An interesting point. I was raised believing this as well. But then I grew up and discovered some of the things that happen in the real world that make what happened to Jesus pretty mild by comparison.

            C.S. Lewis' famous treatment of the subject called "The Problem of Pain".

            You seriously think I haven't heard all these excuses before?

            Aristotle, Aquinas and Lewis ? Is that it ?

          • Susan

            >Define "bad things".

            You first.

            > What we may subjectively label "bad" because it involves pain may have a very good purpose and end result.

            There are cases of that, but if we can't see the good beyond the bad....

            For instance, if your baby has cancer and she is in and out of the hospital for treatment, subjected to unpleasant testing and miserable treatments in an effort to find the best balance that you and your doctors and your finances can find between longevity and happiness, then a case can be made that there are "good" purposes that are weighed against the "bad".

            Or we could go the other way and say that asking a teenager to clean his room, while not immediately pleasant for him, leads to "good" skills and "good" habits that will contribute to making his life "better".
            In both cases, we can point to potential "good" that lies in around- the- corner statistics.

            But to say that "maybe" babies dying of cancer is part of a "good" plan without being able to point to anything that might be "good" about it without making stuff up....
            That's not good.
            So, you go first. Define "good" and "bad". No examples. Definitions.

          • Marc M

            Might I just point out that you are both presupposing that this world is all there is to existence in your question. Obviously if this is it, there is no way to imagine something objectively good coming from a baby with cancer. But you cannot use that as a premise if we disagree about the nature and extent of existence and reality. It's like arguing about data from the LHC when one person doesn't believe in quantum physics. There's no possible resolution unless you first deal with the premises.

            If death is not the end, and God is good and loving, and--importantly--we believe this is true while accepting that the details are beyond our ability to conceive, then it's rational to accept that God can both allow tragedy because we live in a rational but broken universe, and that He can still bring good out of that tragedy in ways that we can't imagine. Christians don't look at cancer and say, "ah, God must exist!" We believe God exists, and the fact of cancer does not conflict with that belief.

          • Phil Rimmer

            So, working to cure baby cancer....good or bad? Can't we reasonably and readily argue it is bad? He has a plan or he doesn't. What level of acceptance is correct? What's the etiquette?

          • Marc M

            Of course it's bad. This does not minimize the fact that tragedy is tragedy. Jesus spent his ministry healing the sick and feeding the hungry. The Catholic Church does the same today, more than any government or any other organization. This is simply to say that there is still more to life than what we can see--again, just as Jesus taught. He raised Lazarus from the dead, but Lazarus eventually got old and died again.

            Do you think it contradictory to work for peace and justice and care for the sick and poor today, and also believe that God has a future in store for us where we will finally see peace and justice and there will be no more sickness or poverty? The real lack of these things today motivates us to strive towards and desire these good goals. Exhibit #1 of a good outcome from God allowing bad things to happen.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "He can still bring good out of that tragedy in ways that we can't imagine."

            Try.

          • Marc M

            Phil, I don't know you, so of course there's nothing I can say about your personal tragedy that won't sound trite. I am sorry to hear that that happened. I have an 8-month-old son and I would lose my mind if anything happened to him.

            When you're all done fist-bumping, though, can someone address my question? You're arguing not only that it's contradictory to believe in a good God in light of evil, but as if it's contradictory to believe that God exists and that we should seek and work to make the world a better place. I suppose that's logical if you think Christians believe in a puppetmaster-God, like the comment that called me cold-hearted and despicable for saying that God gives kids cancer because it's good. But that's not the Christian position, nor is it what I said.

            What I do believe, and what I actually argued, is that the evidence suggests that God exists, and neither human evil nor natural disasters and diseases conflict with the concept of a good God.

            How's this. Natural evils are a consequence of physical and biological processes. For God to prevent tornadoes and cancer would be to make the world a magical place where actions don't have consequences and things don't make sense. That's bad. If children die from tornadoes and cancer, that's also bad. But if death is not the end and God is ultimately making things right, then we can have free will, and a rational universe, and we can still trust that things will be okay, even when we can't see it.

          • Phil Rimmer

            First apologies for that particular posting if it felt uncalled for. It was not a tragedy of mine, nor Carol's, but it was for her religious parents. (Not Catholic but C of E.)

            Tell me what you make of Eden? In your account of a (now?) broken universe, how does that figure? Was it a magical place where innocent actions had innocent consequences? And what is original sin? Or does none of this figure with you?

            Your nicely nicely account of nasty world and Good God and kisses at the end seems fit for an eight year old scared of what life's giving her.

            Life's not that precious it says, which is what Aunt Elsie and Uncle Frank took to be the case and just stopped.

            But it still amazes me how the religious seem soothed not one bit more than atheists over dying.

          • Marc M

            "Tell me what you make of Eden? In your account of a (now?) broken
            universe, how does that figure? Was it a magical place where innocent
            actions had innocent consequences? And what is original sin?"

            I personally find it hard to believe that the first few chapters of Genesis are any sort of literal history. Not just the 6-day-creation part, but the garden, all of it. In that point of view, I find that I'm in line with a long history of Catholics going back at least to Origen in the early 3rd century and Augustine not long after that. Let me steal a quote here:

            "Think about the story of Adam and Eve. Adam's name means "man." Eve's name means "life." So Man and Life lived in a garden where snakes talk and where sin is eating of a tree that is called "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Next to it is a tree that is called "the tree of life," and if you eat its fruit you'll live forever. Does that sound like the story was meant to be literal to you?" (from http://www.proof-of-evolution.com/evolution-and-the-bible.html)

            Genesis 1-3 is poetry. It's how God who created the universe chose to describe creation to shepherds on the side of a mountain, something like 3000 years ago. That doesn't mean it's not true, but it also doesn't mean it was ever meant to be taken literally.

            All of Judeo-Christian theology is based on the idea that God is Good. Not in the sense of "a good thing" but "goodness itself." It seems to me that the story of the garden and the Fall are meant to tell us (among other things) that God's intent is for His children (us) to be good as He is good, or in other words, to be perfectly conformed to His will. But since we also have free will, because free will is good, we fail. Any failure to be good in any way is literally separation from God, if God is goodness. Original sin is how we describe our situation of being born into a state of inability to be what we ought to be.

            Sort of. I'm no theologian. Anyway. Beyond that is speculation. Is it possible that we have a single pair of ancestors, who really were born into perfection, and chose to throw it away, and that's why we're all screwed up? Sure. I don't know, I wasn't there. Would that rejection of God's perfect goodness have shattered the perfection of the entire universe throughout time? Sure, maybe. Maybe entropy wasn't in the original plan. Again, I don't know, but it doesn't matter to my belief in God in general or the teaching of the Catholic Church in specific. The Genesis story can still tell us true things either way.

            As for this meaning I don't think life is that precious, all I can say is I don't see it that way. I myself can't imagine atheism leading to any logical conclusions other than the idea that life is meaningless. If there's nothing when we die, who cares what happens on the way? Who cares how long or short or tragic your life is? So what if you get cancer? You won't remember it any more than if you lived to 100. The end result is the same not only objectively, but subjectively. My faith is what convinces me that my instinctive rejection of nihilism is reasonable.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Thank you for your full answer, Marc. I am grateful for the time you have invested in it. The impression I get is of a pleasant if fuzzy niceness, the sort of hippy Love as God from my youth but with a respectable day job to keep up appearances. :) I can see the attractions of holding such views in a loose way, but this lack of intellectual coherence would irk me.

            It is your last paragraph that most fascinates me though as you might imagine. It seems to me that your image of what a life without gods could be, is a perfect looking glass world of what it often, and increasingly, is in a modern secular society.

            Let me start with my father's death. Protracted and painful, he wiped away my fear of it once and for all. My dad, an atheist, though I had only recognised the fact a year or two before, told me this story many times through my life and in different ways- how we are on an adventure into the unknown; how we all contribute to this adventure finding things out, explaining and exploring, helping others to understand themselves and each other, bringing soup to those at knowledge's coal face. All contribute, and those who realise they are part of this are the luckiest, because they understand that we have been gifted the best seat in the house so far by all those that lived before us.

            He died a happy man knowing like him that I saw this way too, that he'd done his bit to move things along. No scientist, no great intellect, (he worked in an office) he'd had the luck to be taught in the RAF during the war by Professor Fred Soddy (discoverer of isotopes) and fell in love with the world in all its stunning detail.

            Passionate about the arts. What great windows they are into our own minds! How we understand ourselves the more for the experience! What gifts!

            Atheists have a struggle to emerge from under the dismal dogma of religion. There is a huge oppressive weight laid upon the religious, which we wrongly assume is for us too. The universe is not broken, not some failed heaven (I note your partial demur), in need of consolation and solace. The prospect of death is not so debilitating. In fact, I argue, it makes things the sweeter, the hours precious and to be filled.

            Besides, the greatest poetry is inaccessible to those that have no expectation of absolute loss.

            My dad explained that that my best seat in the house was only possible through death. Only by making way for those that follow can life and understanding evolve and the grand adventure move forward.

          • Marc M

            Thank you as well for your reply. If I presented a fuzzy, anti-intellectual hippie love-in picture of God, then I did a poor job of explaining myself, for which I apologize. Can you be more specific about what is not intellectually coherent? Rather than a new age "God is super nice so do what you want" philosophy, or worse, a "He's got the whole world in His hands, so don't bother studying medicine" kind of thing, I was trying to present an orthodox answer to your question, and the kind of answer that the greatest minds in history have developed over centuries of struggling with these questions.

            Maybe I misunderstand, but you seem to be saying with the rest of your response that only atheism can lead people to science, understanding, arts, poetry, etc.? I think the history of science and the arts disproves that. Am I missing something?

            As for the idea that atheism makes the hours more precious and to be filled, or gives one the best seat in the house, I still find that irrational. What is precious about an hour I know I won't remember? Why care how good your seat is if you know you eventually will have no knowledge that you attended the show? Why bother becoming an oncologist? So you can give people 70 years that they won't be aware of instead of 50 years they won't be aware of? What's the point?

          • Phil Rimmer

            Just a quicky. V. tired.

            I'll get back to your first paragraph later.

            " you seem to be saying with the rest of your response that only atheism can lead people to science, understanding, arts, poetry, etc."

            No. Why would you say that?

            "All contribute, and those who realise they are part of this are the
            luckiest, because they understand that we have been gifted the best seat
            in the house so far by all those that lived before us."

            All contribute, all who lived before.

            "Am I missing something?"

            The potential fulness of atheist lives when they engage with our collective adventure.

            Being born now gives you the best seat in the house to date. Tomorrow will be better yet.

            " What is precious about an hour I know I won't remember?"

            Well start paying attention! Ah, a memory is meaningless if it isn't eternal?

            It isn't accessible, is it?

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Can you be more specific about what is not intellectually coherent?"

            Well you start and finish with a disclaimer. Its a poem and an its all speculation after paragraph 5. This I have no problem with at all, though it does inform my view of it all being rather fuzzy in areas that seem important to other Catholics. No, it is the nugget of paragraph 5, the usual Catch 22 of enchained freedom where the incoherence lies. You have free will which is good so long as it is not exercised, lest it not conform with the will of God (also good). (Catholicism eagerly conforms to this dirigiste mode, pointing every which way on what to think.) This creates a shallow sham of moral responsibility.

          • Marc M

            "No. Why would you say that?"

            I say that because I'm not sure what the point of your story is, then. You explained how your dad was an atheist, and you are an atheist, and he taught you all about appreciating life and science and knowledge and art. That's great, but so what? I'm a theist and was raised by theists and I also love the adventure and appreciate these same things.

            I never said that atheists can't appreciate life, I just think it's philosophically contradictory. Sort of like the other commenters here telling me I'm being contradictory for not killing myself or becoming a serial killer, without the rancor. It's based on what I think is a willful misunderstanding of theism, but we're ostensibly all here to try to understand each other, so at least there's that.

            "Ah, a memory is meaningless if it isn't eternal?"

            Well, no, perhaps my statement was too strong. There is meaning in the moment for its own sake. But ultimately, I can't see the sense in your argument that the grand adventure is somehow given greater meaning if we're all just atoms trying desperately to cling together with no hope of success. We can move the story forward and bequeath a "better seat" to the next generation only for so long.

            And as for this... "Besides, the greatest poetry is inaccessible to those that have no expectation of absolute loss."

            You do realize, of course, that argument could be rephrased, "baby cancer is okay because I really like tragic poetry."

            "Well you start and finish with a disclaimer. Its a poem and then its all
            speculation after paragraph 5. This I have no problem with at all,
            though it does inform my view of it all being rather fuzzy in areas that
            seem important to other Catholics."

            I don't think that's quite fair. There are areas of what we know to be true, and there are areas of speculation. Pointing out the areas of speculation does not lead to it "all being rather fuzzy." That would be like reading about string theory and concluding that physics is "all fuzzy." If Catholicism is true, why would you expect it to look different from other things (like physics) that are true? You're just failing to distinguish between the fuzzy parts and the solid parts that any true description of existence will necessarily exhibit.

            "No, it is the nugget of paragraph 5, the usual Catch 22 of enchained
            freedom where the incoherence lies. You have free will which is good so
            long as it is not exercised, lest it not conform with the will of God
            (also good). (Catholicism eagerly conforms to this dirigiste mode,
            pointing every which way on what to think.) This creates a shallow sham
            of moral responsibility."

            You've approached this point several times, and you're right, this is at the heart of the debate. I disagree because your argument rests on a misunderstanding of freedom. That's a longer topic than I have time to do justice right now. Have you looked into how the Catholic Church defines freedom and free will?

            In any case, this has digressed far from where we started; I think my original point was that none of these questions are a proof for or against God's existence or goodness. As for myself, as I said much earlier, I believe in the existence of God because I believe the evidence supports that better than any other position. That's my starting point. From there, I have come to believe that the Catholic Church teaches the fullness of truth and that none of these issues are truly in conflict with that.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Indeed, let's focus..

            "I myself can't imagine atheism leading to any logical conclusions other than the idea that life is meaningless. If there's nothing when we die, who cares what happens on the way?"

            Having a purpose and being given a purpose and are quite distinct. The former is a doddle for any evolved sentient being it would seem. Purpose bubbles up from the first itch scratching, and our evolved values continue this on into the intellectual, aesthetic and social. (More detail on request.) Building meaning personally is hugely rewarding. Getting to share it the more so.

            Being given a purpose is being given a job.

          • Marc M

            You're describing the difference between an objective purpose and a subjective one.

            A subjective purpose is, as you say, built personally. "My purpose is whatever I say it is." It may or may not have any meaning outside one's own head. It's correlated to the moral relativism rampant among secular humanists.

            An objective purpose is one that actually exists in reality. It's there whether you acknowledge it or not. I would argue that's inherently more meaningful.

            That said, now that we've both described differences between the two, none of this has any bearing on whether one or the other situation is true. You've stated that you really like creating your own meaning, but your preference for it is not an argument for it being an accurate description of reality.

            Tell me something. You and others seem to make the jump from "there is an afterlife" to "this life doesn't matter." Hence, consoling your cousin amounted to telling your aunt & uncle "life's not that precious," in your words. Can you explain that jump? That's certainly not what the Church (or any mainstream Christian denomination) teaches, nor is it how any theist I've ever known feels. Given that fact, is it not more likely that those who think that way abandon their faith because they misunderstood it?

          • Phil Rimmer

            So Elliott at his allotted bankers desk bleakly shuffling his papers and wandering his wasteland in his head is a sorry fantasist?

            "none of this has any bearing on whether one or the other situation is true"

            What on earth can you mean by "true" here? Our actions and interests, our feelings, desires, intentions.....are. They need no shackling prescription to exist.

            "Tell me something. You and others seem to make the jump from "there is an afterlife" to "this life doesn't matter.""...like my aunt and uncle.

            Human nature and the cake and eating it fallacy. And why the newly rich soon lose that rich feeling, and the born rich don't even notice it.

            Tell me is heaven (state of grace, whatever) so rewarding that it can make up for the short bitter agony of a life some have suffered? Is it a prospect to make you feel spiritually rich?

            "And as for this... "Besides, the greatest poetry is inaccessible to those that have no expectation of absolute loss."

            You do realize, of course, that argument could be rephrased, "baby cancer is okay because I really like tragic poetry.""

            Only by you it would seem. Only a very few face that repellent fate of an untimely or uniquely horrible death. I can only see pain in that and not the least poetry. No it is our common fate, 84 +/-10 that is our joint expectation and common understanding. No ghouls here. Just a quiet agreement with Mervyn Peake's headstone, "To have lived at all is miracle enough."

          • Marc M

            Oh come now, you're not even trying. Are we going to argue over what "truth" is? Epistemology is down the hall, you're on the wrong website if that's your quibble.

            "What on earth can you mean by "true" here? Our actions and interests,
            our feelings, desires, intentions.....are. They need no shackling
            prescription to exist."

            Yes, our actions, interests, etc. exist... but we were discussing what they *mean*, and if we assign that meaning ourselves or if there is objective meaning outside of what we make up.

            If you're arguing that meaning is self-generated by the feelings and intentions and such, that comes perilously close to saying that the meaning does objectively exist outside of one's head. But if that's the case, then purpose and meaning is still thrust upon us from outside, which you find so objectionable.

            If that's not what you are arguing, then the only alternative is my starting point, that you're saying "purpose" and "meaning" are simply made up by each person for himself. That's not to say there is no meaning at all; but, I think we would all agree on the principle that a thing which exists concretely in the world is arguably more real than a thing which only exists abstractly in my mind.

            "I believe my aunt and uncle felt that way because of human nature and
            the cake and eating it fallacy. And why the newly rich soon lose that
            rich feeling, and the born rich don't even notice it."

            I don't follow this. Can you give more detail? I'm still missing whatever justifies the leap from "God exists" to "Life's not that precious," especially when Christianity explicitly teaches that every life is sacred. Thou shalt not kill, and all.

            "Tell me is heaven (state of grace, whatever) so rewarding that it can
            make up for the short bitter agony of a life some have suffered? Is it a
            prospect to make you feel spiritually rich?"

            Yes, of course! Why else would I be doing this?

            I was explicitly agnostic for around ten years--God probably exists, I thought (based on the mind-brain problem and the argument from contingency), but I don't think we can know anything about him. That was an easy place to live. Christianity (and certainly Catholicism) is not the path of least resistance for me. But pursuit of understanding led me here. The teaching of the Catholic Church is the most annoyingly self-consistent philosophy I've found. The arguments of, say, Dawkins were useless to me on their face.

            "Only by you it would seem..."

            Rhetoric for me but not for thee? You present perspective on tragedy which presupposes no God, and it's allowed nuance and depth. I present perspective on tragedy which acknowledges the existence of God--and the response is that I must not care about children with cancer...

          • Phil Rimmer

            The religious do love to turn reasonable ideas like "giving meaning" or "having a purpose" into stuff, some kind of essence that is reassuringly palpable, when in fact they are variously a process and an intention like other processes and intentions.

            Have I sold them short? No, processes and intentions can be and often are, vital.

            Processes and intentions can also be shared or not. There aren't so many that with a little approximation there isn't some chance of overlap, one with another.

            "I think we would all agree on the principle that a thing which exists concretely in the world is arguably more real than a thing which only exists abstractly in my mind."

            An unexecuted process an un-actioned intention are of little value, I agree. This, this is when meaning and purpose are truly concrete. Anything else is still just a projection from minds or minds imagining minds.

            My aunt and uncle believed as you do but they didn't feel rich because of it though they were commanded to. We have no ability to scale the wonderfulness of earth and the wonderfulness of heaven. If heaven is super wowie insanely brilliantly everlastingly wonderful and earth is wonderful but randomly a bit of a disaster soon over, then the big risk is a scaling error of importance like kids not eating their meat and two veg because of the promised desert too come. Its simply human.

            As for baby cancer I know full well you care and probably no different from me. The brute fact of tears won't tell us apart.

            But there are Christians with far more dogma than you are comfortable with, who I know see things with a remarkable coldness, eyes fixed on their just desert. They will let a woman die rather than abort an ancephalic foetus. They will choose no path rather than the better path for fear of spoiling their chances. The here and now always gets the shorter shrift.

          • Marc M

            "The religious do love to turn reasonable ideas like "giving meaning" or
            "having a purpose" into stuff, some kind of essence that is reassuringly
            palpable, when in fact they are variously a process and an intention
            like other processes and intentions... Anything else is still just a projection from minds or minds imagining minds."

            This is all fine, but you're asserting rather than arguing. If you want to convince me, present a case for why you believe this. Overcome the fact that absolute materialism is irrational.

            "If heaven is super wowie insanely brilliantly everlastingly wonderful and earth is wonderful but randomly a bit of a disaster soon over, then the big risk is a scaling error of importance like kids not eating their meat and two veg because of the promised desert too come. Its simply human."

            Okay, granted. But you even describe this in your own words as an error. Are you arguing that theism is wrong because you see inconsistencies in theism, or are you arguing that theism is wrong because sometimes theists make mistakes? One is a valid argument, the other is not.

            The particular error here, by the way, is that the difference between heaven and earth is qualitative rather than quantitative, so "scale" isn't a meaningful term anyway.

            "But there are Christians with far more dogma than you are comfortable with..."

            There are atheists with dumb ideas too. Same response. Those people are wrong. People can and will make mistakes. But the existence of Christians that believe some untrue things is not an argument against Christianity. Copernicus described circular orbits. Should that mistake have led us to reject heliocentrism?

            I'm not arguing in favor of some sort of vague, hand-waving "truth" like "God exists, so you'd better believe in him so that you can go to heaven!" I believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. I have no problem with the idea that one can believe in God and still be wrong about plenty of things.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Observing a process or an enacted intention is profoundly material and Is entirely my way of demonstrating our mutual agreement-

            "... that a thing which exists concretely in the world is arguably more real than a thing which only exists abstractly in my mind."

            Seeing people find meaning (they talk, write, paint, sing and joke about it), engaging fiercely with the world and others...and coming back for more, is the most concrete proof you can have that purpose and meaning abound sans gods. Bluntly I see it more and more richly manifested amongst the thoughtful newly irreligious than I do amongst their former colleagues.

            "The particular error here, by the way, is that the difference between heaven and earth is qualitative rather than quantitative, so "scale" isn't a meaningful term anyway."

            This is irrelevant. Choosing between gooseberries (:() and strawberries ( :)) and knowing I'm only getting one gooseberry when others get three but am promised this shortfall will be remedied with strawberries, means there is an exchange rate. Quantity or quality makes no difference to the merely human.

            ""But there are Christians with far more dogma than you are comfortable with..."

            There are atheists with dumb ideas too."

            There surely are but there is no atheist dogma. Lacking a belief in gods is all it takes. There is, though, Catholic dogma to which you do not seem to take a shine to, yet you are a Catholic. Should the woman with the encephalic foetus have been saved by an abortion? Is it really right that living breathing sentient people should die for an idea in a Catholic's mind?

          • Marc M

            "Observing a process or an enacted intention is profoundly material..."

            How so? The process itself, the action, this may be material. But we're not talking about the action, we're talking about the purpose, the meaning. The meaning you attach to it is still simply an opinion; you're conflating opinion with fact.

            This is not the same as the distinction between concrete and abstract. A basketball in my imagination is abstract, one on the floor next to me is concrete. But "smoking is gross" is an opinion, while "smoking raises your risk of developing cancer" is a fact, though both are abstract statements.

            So painting a picture is a concrete action, changing the world around you in a real way. But the meaning you attach to it is still an opinion, in your head.

            "Bluntly I see it more and more richly manifested amongst the thoughtful
            newly irreligious than I do amongst their former colleagues."

            Here we see how many people make these sorts of decisions. "I know a bunch of [atheists/Catholics/Methodists/liberals/conservatives/vegetarians] and they're great people, really fun, really smart. And the [group ideologically opposed] are boring, dumb jerks in my experience. So [atheism/Catholicism/Methodism/liberalism/conservatism/vegetarianism] must be right."

            I hope it's apparent that, while common, this process is driven by emotion rather than logic, and is not an argument for or against the truth of any statement held by the people involved.

            "Gooseberries, strawberries..."

            I did a poor job of presenting that argument. Let me elaborate. (...at great length. I apologize.)

            First off, the fact that between heaven and earth there are not simply quantitative differences (earth is 50 awesome and heaven is 5,000,000,000 awesome!!!) does matter. This is a childish and shallow view of religion.

            Let's look at what Catholicism really teaches. Heaven and earth are both intrinsically good. God did not create anything that was not good. Earth is not a poor waiting room before we get to the good stuff God really wants to give us, and heaven is not the perfect state where finally everything will be good and we will have escaped this broken world. Earth is simply the physical realm, and heaven is the spiritual realm, but both have a purpose and both are good.

            Evil is not a thing. People that wonder why God created evil misunderstand the concept. Evil does not exist. Evil is a lack. We see this in physical reality. Dark does not exist, even though you can point to it. Dark is just a lack of light. Cold does not exist, though you feel it. Cold is a lack of heat. Heat and light and goodness are real things, cold and dark and evil are the concepts we use to describe the lack of those things.

            So our fallen world and all its evils are due to a lack of Goodness--a Christian would say, a lack of God in the world.

            So we believe that, in heaven, there is no lack of goodness--but heaven is not a consolation prize, it's simply the way things are meant to be. We also believe that this world is being made new, and in the end, Goodness will reign once more, and things here on earth will also be the way they are meant to be.

            That being the case, the most sane and proper and meaningful thing to do in this life is to work to increase the goodness in this world, however possible. Far from a theology that says this life is less meaningful or real than some prize in the sky, Catholicism teaches that we were *made* for THIS world.

            These things we believe based on natural philosophy and God's direct revelation to us. Here I can only imagine we will run into trouble, but suffice to say, I believe that, as a rational person, after studying the evidence, there are sufficient rational reasons to accept the truth of the Bible and the reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

            Now, this is important. The existence of Catholics and other Christians out there that believe the sorts of things you present; ideas like "the point of life is to escape this crappy world, because heaven is waiting for us," or that Christianity means we should "attend less to the here and now"? These people are not an obstacle to the truth of Catholic teaching. If one misunderstands and misrepresents a philosophy, that is not an argument against the validity of that philosophy.

            Think back to the original article. If I say I believe in evolution and start talking about how birds evolved flight because their ancestors saw predators and started trying to fly, and this made them produce offspring with wings... I would be wrong, but you would also be wrong to hear me and dismiss evolutionary biology. The proper approach would instead be for you to find out what evolutionary biologists actually say. So please, if you're going to argue against Catholicism, argue against accurate Catholicism.

            Wow. Did I wander off? Where was I? Oh...

            "There surely are but there is no atheist dogma. Lacking a belief in gods
            is all it takes. There is, though, some Catholic dogma to which you do
            not seem to take a shine to, yet you are a Catholic. Should the woman
            with the anencephalic foetus have been saved by an abortion?"

            I would take issue with the statement that "there is no atheist dogma," but that's neither here nor there. I wonder if you're clear on Catholic dogma in this area? Why is the woman dying? Why would an abortion save her? Terminology has to be precise here. Are we doing a D&C of dead fetal tissue to prevent sepsis? There's no problem there. If the fetus is still alive, what's the danger to the mother? Does the woman have cancer? Catholic dogma does not tell her she cannot receive treatment. The Catholic moral position is only and always that every human life ought to be protected--in the case of a pregnant woman, every effort must always be made to protect and save both mother and child. So a mother might be urged to hold off on the chemotherapy until after the baby can be viably delivered, but the choice will ultimately be hers, and the cancer's progression and timing are all valid issues to weigh when she decides. This is sort of what I meant when I referred to the Church's frankly shocking level of consistency. Everything fits, and every time I thought I found some clear ethical problem or inconsistency, I found that the Church's teaching was not in fact what I had imagined it to be.

            Finally, let me come back to this:

            "Seeing people find meaning (they talk, write, paint, sing and joke about
            it), engaging fiercely with the world and others...and coming back for
            more, is the most concrete proof you can have that purpose and meaning
            abound sans gods."

            You're describing something that is patently unrelated to the question of God's existence. I assert that life does have meaning and that people naturally respond to that truth. Their belief or non-belief in God is beside the point. I can reject a belief in gravity, but I will still fall, because gravity is true. You can reject a belief in God, but you will still find meaning in life, because meaning exists. If this is the most concrete proof you have, I'm disappointed.

          • Marc M

            Ah, now I'm not sure my reply showed up, I can't see it. Though half the conversation appears to be missing at this point. I understand you don't believe in the supernatural... but surely you would agree that Disqus is evidence of demonic forces at work.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Whole heartedly. I've coined the term disqust as a descriptor of my feelings.

            I saw a posting a day or so ago then when coming back to reply, couldn't find it again. I just presumed you'd taken it back....Though when I've deleted a post of mine it wouldn't die but just transmuted into a guest post to haunt me from the aether.

          • Marc M

            Heh. I will try to re-post it, as it still shows up in my profile, just not in the actual thread. But that will have to wait until I get home later, as the only thing worse than navigating Disqus on a computer is navigating Disqus on a tablet.

          • Marc M

            Let's see if it sticks this time. Maybe it's too long? Here goes:

            "Observing a process or an enacted intention is profoundly material..."

            How so? The process itself, the action, this may be material. But we're not talking about the action, we're talking about the purpose, the meaning. The meaning you attach to it is still simply an opinion; you're conflating opinion with fact.

            This is not the same as the distinction between concrete and abstract. A basketball in my imagination is abstract, one on the floor next to me is concrete. But "smoking is gross" is an opinion, while "smoking raises your risk of developing cancer" is a fact, though both are abstract statements.

            So painting a picture is a concrete action, changing the world around you in a real way. But the meaning you attach to it is still an opinion, in your head.

            "Bluntly I see it more and more richly manifested amongst the thoughtful newly irreligious than I do amongst their former colleagues."

            Here we see how many people make these sorts of decisions. "I know a bunch of
            [atheists/Catholics/Methodists/liberals/conservatives/vegetarians] and they're great people, really fun, really smart. And the [group ideologically opposed] are boring, dumb jerks in my experience. So [atheism/Catholicism/Methodism/liberalism/conservatism/vegetarianism] must be right."

            I hope it's apparent that, while common, this process is driven by emotion rather than logic, and is not an argument for or against the truth of any statement held by the people involved.

            "Gooseberries, strawberries..."

            I did a poor job of presenting that argument. Let me elaborate. (...at great length. I apologize.)

            First off, the fact that between heaven and earth there are not simply quantitative differences (earth is 50 awesome and heaven is 5,000,000,000 awesome!!!) does matter. This is a childish and shallow view of religion.

            Let's look at what Catholicism really teaches. Heaven and earth are both intrinsically good. God did not create anything that was not good. Earth is not a poor waiting room before we get to the good stuff God really wants to give us, and heaven is not the perfect state where finally everything will be good and we will have escaped this broken world. Earth is simply the physical realm, and heaven is the spiritual realm, but both have a purpose and both are good.

            Evil is not a thing. People that wonder why God created evil misunderstand the concept. Evil does not exist. Evil is a lack. We see this in physical reality. Dark does not exist, even though you can point to it. Dark is just a lack of light. Cold does not exist, though you feel it. Cold is a lack of heat. Heat and light and goodness are real things, cold and dark and evil are the concepts we use to describe the lack of those things.

            So our fallen world and all its evils are due to a lack of Goodness--a Christian would say, a lack of God in the world.

            So we believe that, in heaven, there is no lack of goodness--but heaven is not a consolation prize, it's simply the way things are meant to be. We also believe that this world is being made new, and in the end, Goodness will reign once more, and things here on earth will also be the way they are meant to be.

            That being the case, the most sane and proper and meaningful thing to do in this life is to work to increase the goodness in this world, however possible. Far from a theology that says this life is less meaningful or real than some prize in the sky, Catholicism teaches that we were *made* for THIS world.

            These things we believe based on natural philosophy and God's direct revelation to us. Here I can only imagine we will run into trouble, but suffice to say, I believe that, as a rational person, after studying the evidence, there are sufficient rational reasons to accept the truth of the Bible and the reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

            Now, this is important. The existence of Catholics and other Christians out there that believe the sorts of things you present; ideas like "the point of life is to escape this crappy world, because heaven is waiting for us," or that Christianity means we should "attend less to the here and now"? These people are not an obstacle to the truth of Catholic teaching. If one misunderstands and misrepresents a philosophy, that is not an argument against the validity of that philosophy.

            Think back to the original article. If I say I believe in evolution and start talking about how birds evolved flight because their ancestors saw predators and started trying to fly, and this made them produce offspring with wings... I would be wrong, but you would also be wrong to hear me and dismiss evolutionary biology. The proper approach would instead be for you to find out what evolutionary biologists actually say. So please, if you're going to argue against Catholicism, argue against accurate Catholicism.

            Wow. Did I wander off? Where was I? Oh...

            "There surely are but there is no atheist dogma. Lacking a belief in gods is all it takes. There is, though, some Catholic dogma to which you do not seem to take a shine to, yet you are a Catholic. Should the woman with the anencephalic foetus have been saved by an abortion?"

            I would take issue with the statement that "there is no atheist dogma," but that's neither here nor there. I wonder if you're clear on Catholic dogma in this area? Why is the woman dying? Why would an abortion save her? Terminology has to be precise here. Are we doing a D&C of dead fetal tissue to prevent sepsis? There's no problem there. If the fetus is still alive, what's the danger to the mother? Does the woman have cancer? Catholic dogma does not tell her she cannot receive treatment. The Catholic moral position is only and always that every human life ought to be protected--in the case of a pregnant woman, every effort must always be made to protect and save both mother and child. So a mother might be urged to hold off on the chemotherapy until after the baby can be viably delivered, but the choice will ultimately be hers, and the cancer's progression and timing are all valid issues to weigh when she decides. This is sort of what I meant when I referred to the Church's frankly shocking level of consistency. Everything fits, and every time I thought I found some clear ethical problem or inconsistency, I found that the Church's teaching was not in fact what I had imagined it to be.

            Finally, let me come back to this:

            "Seeing people find meaning (they talk, write, paint, sing and joke about it), engaging fiercely with the world and others...and coming back for more, is the most concrete proof you can have that purpose and meaning abound sans gods."

            You're describing something that is patently unrelated to the question of God's existence. I assert that life does have meaning and that people naturally respond to that truth. Their belief or non-belief in God is beside the point. I can reject a belief in gravity, but I will still fall, because gravity is true. You can reject a belief in God, but you will still find meaning in life, because meaning exists. If this is the most concrete proof you have, I'm disappointed.

          • Marc M

            Still can't see it. Maybe too long. I'll break it up and continuity be damned...

            "Observing a process or an enacted intention is profoundly material..."

            How so? The process itself, the action, this may be material. But we're not talking about the action, we're talking about the purpose, the meaning. The meaning you attach to it is still simply an opinion; you're conflating opinion with fact.

            This is not the same as the distinction between concrete and abstract. A basketball in my imagination is abstract, one on the floor next to me is concrete. But "smoking is gross" is an opinion, while "smoking raises your risk of developing cancer" is a fact, though both are abstract statements.

            So painting a picture is a concrete action, changing the world around you in a real way. But the meaning you attach to it is still an opinion, in your head.

            "Bluntly I see it more and more richly manifested
            amongst the thoughtful newly irreligious than I do amongst their former colleagues."

            Here we see how many people make these sorts of decisions. "I know a bunch of [atheists/Catholics/Methodists/liberals/conservatives/vegetarians] and they're great people, really fun, really smart. And the [group ideologically opposed] are boring, dumb jerks in my experience. So [atheism/Catholicism/Methodism/liberalism/conservatism/vegetarianism] must be right."

            I hope it's apparent that, while common, this process is driven by emotion rather than logic, and is not an argument
            for or against the truth of any statement held by the people involved.

            "Gooseberries, strawberries..."

            I did a poor job of presenting that argument. Let me elaborate. (...at great length. I apologize.)

            First off, the fact that between heaven and earth there are not simply quantitative differences (earth is 50 awesome and heaven is 5,000,000,000 awesome!!!) does matter. This is a childish and shallow view of religion.

            Let's look at what Catholicism really teaches. Heaven and earth are both intrinsically good. God did not create anything that was not good. Earth is not a poor waiting room before we get to the good stuff God really wants to give us, and heaven is not the perfect state where finally everything will be good and we will have escaped this broken world. Earth is simply the physical realm, and heaven is the spiritual realm, but both have a purpose and both are good.

            Evil is not a thing. People that wonder why God created evil misunderstand the concept. Evil does not exist. Evil is a lack. We see this in physical reality. Dark does not exist, even though you can point to it. Dark is just a lack of light. Cold does not exist, though you feel it. Cold is a lack of heat. Heat and light and goodness are real things, cold and dark and evil are the concepts we use to describe the lack of those things.

            So our fallen world and all its evils are due to a lack of Goodness--a Christian would say, a lack of God in the world.

            So we believe that, in heaven, there is no lack of goodness--but heaven is not a consolation prize, it's simply the way things are meant to be. We also believe that this world is being made new, and in the end, Goodness will reign once more, and things here on earth will also be the way they are meant to be.

            That being the case, the most sane and proper and meaningful thing to do in this life is to work to increase the goodness in this world, however possible. Far from a theology that says this life is less meaningful or real than some prize in the sky, Catholicism teaches that we were *made* for THIS world.

            These things we believe based on natural philosophy and God's direct revelation to us. Here I can only imagine we will run into trouble, but suffice to say, I believe that, as a rational person, after studying the evidence, there are sufficient rational reasons to accept the truth of the Bible and the reality of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

            Now, this is important. The existence of Catholics and other Christians out there that believe the sorts of things you present; ideas like "the point of life is to escape this crappy world, because heaven is waiting for us," or that Christianity means we should "attend less to the here and now"? These people are not an obstacle to the truth of Catholic teaching. If one misunderstands and misrepresents a philosophy, that is not an argument against the validity of that philosophy.

            Think back to the original article. If I say I believe in evolution and start talking about how birds evolved flight because their ancestors saw predators and started trying to fly, and this made them produce offspring with wings... I would be wrong, but you would also be wrong to hear me and dismiss evolutionary biology. The proper approach would instead be for you to find out what evolutionary biologists actually say. So please, if you're going to argue against Catholicism, argue against accurate Catholicism.

            To be continued below...

          • Marc M

            "There surely are but there is no atheist dogma. Lacking a belief in gods is all it takes. There is, though, some Catholic dogma to which you do not seem to take a shine to, yet you are a Catholic. Should the woman with the anencephalic foetus have been saved by an abortion?"

            I would take issue with the statement that "there is no atheist dogma," but that's neither here nor there. I wonder if you're clear on Catholic dogma in this area? Why is the woman dying? Why would an abortion save her? Terminology has to be precise here. Are we doing a D&C of dead fetal tissue to prevent sepsis? There's no problem there. If the fetus is still alive, what's the danger to the mother? Does the woman have cancer? Catholic dogma does not tell her she cannot receive treatment. The Catholic moral position is only and always that every human life ought to be protected--in the case of a pregnant woman, every effort must always be made to protect and save both mother and child. So a mother might be urged to hold off on the chemotherapy until after the baby can be viably delivered, but the choice will ultimately be hers, and the cancer's progression and timing are all valid issues to weigh when she decides. This is sort of what I meant when I referred to the Church's frankly shocking level of consistency. Everything fits, and every time I thought I found some clear ethical problem or inconsistency, I found that the Church's teaching was not in fact what I had imagined it to be.

            Finally, let me come back to this:

            "Seeing people find meaning (they talk, write, paint, sing and joke about it), engaging fiercely with the world and others...and coming back for more, is the most concrete proof you can have that purpose and meaning abound sans gods."

            You're describing something that is patently unrelated to the question of God's existence. I assert that life does have meaning and that people naturally respond to that truth. Their belief or non-belief in God is beside the point. I can reject a belief in gravity, but I will still fall, because gravity is true. You can reject a belief in God, but you will still find meaning in life, because meaning exists. If this is the most concrete proof you have, I'm disappointed.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "You're describing something that is patently unrelated to the question of God's existence."

            Exactly. We are not debating the existence or non existence of God. You asserted a superiority for a thing called objective purpose, and claimed it superior to lesser, (personal, collective?, at least, non God-given) purposes. We can test that assertion by looking at the strong indicators of an otherwise unmeasurable intangible, what creative, or co-operative things do people do? How engaged are they in discussion and debate? What kind of societies do they create? We can ask them what they think and feel.

            And now you say this is all God given too and meaning is stuff, rather than a state of mind. So is my purpose then an objective one after all. if it is part of Gods creation?

            This following is brave, and I thank you for saying it-

            "This is sort of what I meant when I referred to the Church's frankly shocking level of consistency. Everything fits, and every time I thought I found some clear ethical problem or inconsistency, I found that the Church's teaching was not in fact what I had imagined it to be."

            In morality, change is always needed as we uncover yet more conflicts in our guiding principles and come to understand newly revealed harms..

            Is the current Pope a move forward for you?

          • Marc M

            "We are not debating the existence or non existence of God. You asserted a
            superiority for a thing called objective purpose, and claimed it
            superior..."

            Well, yes. But you have also been presenting your idea--that purpose is simply created by each individual, or by society, or whatever--as if it were evidence for the nonexistence of God. Otherwise, what's the point of even bringing it up here?

            "In morality, change is always needed as we uncover yet more conflicts
            in our guiding principles, tested under novel circumstance, and come to
            understand newly revealed harms.."

            I challenge you to back that up with examples, because I wonder if you really believe it. Nobody actually thinks that morality changes over time. Our understanding can change, yes--but everybody, whether they admit it or not, lives and argues as though there is such a thing as fundamental, unchangeable, objective moral truth. Otherwise there is no foundation from which to present an argument, everything is individual whim.

            A common example. Slavery was pretty much universally accepted by governments worldwide until around the 17th century. By the end of the 19th, it had been (at least ostensibly) outlawed in virtually every part of the world. But we don't look at that and say that morality changed during that time! Slavery was immoral and unacceptable in the 16th century, too.

            Incidentally, the Church has always condemned "unjust slavery," while making distinctions at some times in the Middle Ages to accept "just slavery," such as, disturbingly, sometimes enslavement of people captured in a "just war," or the allowance of a debtor to sell himself into slavery. The critical point is the distinction. Doctrine did not change; unjust slavery was always unacceptable. But the Church existed in a world which had always accepted slavery, so it took centuries to work out what constitutes "just" vs "unjust" slavery, eventually coming to the conclusion that "just slavery" does not exist. But I reiterate; doctrine did not change, understanding deepened.

            I note you sidestepped the abortion questions above, but as another example of such distinctions, the Catholic Church has no moral issue with ending an ectopic pregnancy, but such a procedure is not an abortion as defined by the Church.

            So I do love Francis so far, to answer your question, but as I have read more of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, I have come to love them as well.

            I ask this not to make any sort of rhetorical statement but because I genuinely don't know--you only responded to, and I only see, the 2nd part of my last post. Did the first half show up?

          • Phil Rimmer

            "But you have also been presenting your idea--that purpose is simply created by each individual, or by society, or whatever--as if it were evidence for the nonexistence of God."

            I don't think it was ever my intention (certainly not my original intention) to do so. But I do get cheesed off by assertions that my life, my emotional life and the meaning I have invested it with, is the lesser.

            If I rewrite as-

            "In the exercise of morality, change is always needed as we uncover yet more conflicts..."

            we may then perhaps agree up to this point. This is actually semantics for me. Morality (for me) is the totality of moral values and the interpretation of those values in relation to situations and the actions that may or may not flow from them. My moral values seem as substantial a part of me as anything I can discern. I have to accept though that my innate values aren't the end of the story.

            For me as an inherently lefty sort of chap my moral values are different than for right wingers. I believe Jonathan Haidt is spot on in identifying this difference as a simple concern for harms and fairness for left leaners whilst those on the right tone this down a bit to add in concerns for authority, loyalty and purity. The less anxious left are out to progress society and build new social capital. The more anxious right wingers wish to guard existing social capital against loss. This is the very stuff of morality. Both are utterly reasonable positions divided as much by a differing perception of risk. I may have to accept that a cold calculus, pushing my own inclinations back somewhat, may be called for on occasions and may demand a broader moral consideration.

            For simplicity, a blameless comet strike to central Europe produces chaos. Looting and civil disorder is rampant. Any one individual may be themselves blameless struggling to survive and help their friends and families do so, but sociopaths will flourish relatively. Right wing values and sensibilities are probably the more moral. Their simple judgmental algorithms will, for a while, net the least overall harm. I will have more moral problems sustaining this than my conservative/republican colleague.

            As you can see no objective moral truth for me...

            I have to stop for lack of time at present and also a growing concern that we are so off topic (enjoyably so.) Back later

            What did the first part of your post say?

          • Marc M

            "I don't think it was ever my intention (certainly not my original
            intention) to do so. But I do get cheesed off by assertions that my
            life, my emotional life and the meaning I have invested it with, is the
            lesser."

            This I appreciate, but it does not get us closer to the truth. A schizophrenic believes he's a firefighter and every day rescues a doll from his closet, believing he's actually risking his life and rescuing a baby. He would be upset by claims that his actions are not real or that it's more meaningful when "real" firefighters rescue "real" babies. But the truth is still there, there's still an objective reality to the situation, whether he sees it or not.

            That example is more aggressive than my actual point, I apologize. I'm not claiming you're crazy or that meaning you find is not real, I just can't think of a better analogy at the moment. Because I do agree that your life and the meaning you have invested in it are objectively real, as real as mine--I just think that means something different that you say.

            On objective moral truth--I think you're arguing both sides of this. Sure, there can be different priorities depending on the situation. Virtually every choice comes down to picking the lesser of two evils to some degree (especially if you're going to bring up politics!). But "moral truth" such as, every human has the right to life, to protect himself and his property, etc... these do not change. It's wrong to kill someone and take their things, before or after the comet strike. Objective truth always enters in; you use terms like "least overall harm," but who defines that? You assume there is an objective meaning to it.

            The first post was an unnecessarily long explanation of Catholic teaching on the nature of reality and why this world and this life is inherently good. I wish it wasn't being troublesome, because I enjoyed writing it.

            This is an enjoyable conversation, thank you--I'm happy to pick back up anytime.

          • Marc M

            Odd. Part two now appears above part one. I wonder who can see what. What awful software.

          • Phil Rimmer

            Missed this, sorry....

            "Are you arguing that theism is wrong because you see inconsistencies in theism, or are you arguing that theism is wrong because sometimes theists make mistakes? One is a valid argument, the other is not."

            I am suggesting that the Catholic faith amongst others (some of which I freely admit are worse) is constructed and promoted in such a manner as to lead many adherents to to attend less to the here and now than would otherwise be the case.

            This (I know you will agree) is sad...

          • articulett

            This makes no sense-- are you saying that nothing matters to you unless you believe the memory of it will last forever and ever and ever? Why live not takeup sky diving and other risky things so that you might die young and go to your "happily ever after" in the sky? Isn't it risky to stay alive-- you might become hellbound. I would think that early death should be a goal of all Christians so that they can start their joyous eternity. Why wait? Pray that god takes you in your sleep!

          • BenS

            Isn't it risky to stay alive-- you might become hellbound. I would think that early death should be a goal of all Christians so that they can start their joyous eternity.

            This is the bit that always jars with me with the whole 'nothing matters if there's no afterlife' position. If this life doesn't matter, why not just end it? Of course, the church quickly got its act together to make suicide a sin so it wouldn't lose its cash cows / loyal subjects... but this brings in another problem.

            Surely the most moral and self-sacrificing thing to do is to go around killing babies? You, personally, will probably be going to hell for murder - but think of all the souls you'll save! None of those babies can ever grow up gay or atheist or any other kind of sinner; in their innocence, they'll be going straight to heaven for eternal bliss!

            I wonder why Catholics don't tend to do this. Is it because this life does matter and that argument is a sham? Or are they just selfish and put their own salvation above all the souls they could save?

          • articulett

            Exactly. I always wonder why the Catholic church is against abortion-- the bible isn't, and wouldn't those little souls go straight to happy land in the sky-- they could bypass the pass/fail test! Or why are they against euthanasia and why did they want to keep that brain-dead woman (Terry Shiavo) alive? Why not let these people start their "happily ever after"?
            Nothing about Catholicism makes any sense.

            But if religion makes people come to "need" their gods in order for them to feel this life is worthwhile... then maybe we should encourage them to hang onto their beliefs. It sounds to me like Marc is saying that he would rather keep believing... even if it's not true. I think a lot of religious people are like that.He's telling us that HE would feel freaked out and like life wasn't worth living if HE lost his faith.

            Also, this idea that something needs to last forever to be worth something seems so backwards. I don't think I'd enjoy a steak if it was just going to be more and more and more steak. Or a movie... or an evening with friends. It would be weird to think... "I shouldn't be rescuing this kitten because I can't remember it for all eternity!" Or "Why am I enjoying this music-- it will mean nothing 100 years from now!" Bizarre. Backwards. And yet I've heard this sort of "argument" before. It's a common religious meme.

          • Michael Murray

            What is precious about an hour I know I won't remember?

            Ever heard of live in the moment? Life should be lived as well as looked backed upon.

          • BenS

            Ever heard of live in the moment? Life should be lived as well as looked backed upon.

            All you need is a beer and a Welsh gymnast...

          • Michael Murray

            lol. So not Zen Buddhism I guess. Maybe yoga it's a bit like gymnastics.

          • Susan

            >If there's nothing when we die, who cares what happens on the way? Who cares how long or short or tragic your life is?

            I don't understand the question.

          • Erick Chastain

            A good question for you is this:

            Is it more ethical to help the only force in this world that could save us all from death, suffering etc, or to throw your hands up in the air in resignation?

            Is Carol better served by you trying to help her by calling on the enemy of death and disease for help, or by you giving up after the doctors said they could do nothing more?

            My mother died of cancer when I was young. It actually led me back to the Catholic church because I was frustrated with the world. The cancer was due to the sins of my father. I figured that I was on the wrong team and needed to stop trusting in the goodness of the world and instead trust the only being that claims it is itself identical with the Good.

          • Phil Rimmer

            First, I don't believe I am insulting anything.

            Second, Carol is dead, a memory and photographs and a stimulus as Marc suggests to do something substantial and meaningful about such unduly hurtful deaths. Science saves as does the work of good people. Voting for universal healthcare, supporting research, better still train as a biochemist or oncologist. Do something useful.

            The hurt was to her parents who found it incomprehensible, and chose to stop their lives and wait for their own death with that forlorn hope of theirs (never a joyous prospect).

            I am dismayed to hear of your mother's early death, and about your own hurt from it. But I am puzzled by the role your father played in this. How metaphorically do you intend this? How was the cancer due to him? Passive smoking? Did he know of the harm he might have been doing?

          • Erick Chastain

            I look at a baby with cancer, or my mother with cancer and I see evil at work. If it is claimed, why does God allow evil, then you are assuming evil exists. Since evil exists, therefore there must be good. I prefer to support good wholly rather than fighting evil on my own or trusting in corrupt human authorities like governments who claim to be helping us but instead sell us out to insurance companies.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "If it is claimed, why does God allow evil, then you are assuming evil exists."

            I am working with your (Christians') suppositions. I lack a belief in gods and have shaken off any feeling that the noun "evil" has any meaning. If I call people or their acts evil I could have as well said wicked or some such. Natural misfortune demands no blame, just the question of "how can we mitigate these things in future?". (Coming as you do from a notably unequal society your mistrust is to be expected. Things are different in Scandiwegia.)

            Hateful, harmful and brutal, callous acts demand visible punishment, remediation and the same question "how can we mitigate these things in future?" .

            It is critically important to understand that there never was a better age though all religions try to sell this. They are undone by the march forward of health and kindness. They work to hide the The Better Angels of Our Nature-

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_sjosc0r1w

            Can you explain that mysterious phrase about your father? If it is not pertinent, don't feel obliged to answer though.

          • Erick Chastain

            Well if evil doesn't exist, then why are you so bothered about it? Why do anything at all to improve this world if there is no evil in it? If not evil, then what does wicked mean? If misfortune is what these terms mean then doesn't that just mean that the people were unlucky and this can't be changed? In Scandiwegia, because of "progress," people seem pretty miserable honestly, with all the suicides, terrorism, and black metal related murders / arsons in recent years. As the Beatles say, "Money can't buy me love." A better socialism is in Bolivia, which is a socialism integrated with a clear vision of what is right and wrong (via the Catholicism of the president).

            As for the comment about my father, some of his actions that church considers sinful gave my mother cancer in a very direct way. In particular, adultery on his part led to her having HPV and later oral cancer.

          • Phil Rimmer

            My point is that bad things happen, some have an agent and some don't. It is meaningless to think this is the same stuff. Further, for me, the idea of evil as some sort of stuff is
            incoherent. As stated "evil" makes a good adjective describing any bad, harmful outcomes that result from malicious intent. How does this not make me want to do everything to fight the roots of malicious (and neglectful) behaviours or want to prevent and mitigate the harms of random happenstance?

            Currently Sweden's suicide rate sits under that of the US, so too Norway and Denmark.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

            Your gut-feels about the world don't make for reliable discussion.

            I am deeply sorry to hear about the harms done to your family by your father. If he had somehow been granted the necessary foresight for the consequences of his actions, do you think he would have changed his ways? In your terms is he evil or is he redeemable?

            Will you join with me in applauding the advent of an injection against HPV? Or is the threat of death from oral sex a necessary "evil"?

          • Phil Rimmer

            A manufacturer of an easily breakable universe, with no careful training of its childlike occupants (made in his image but flawed), with a single warning (no explanation) inflicts a test, no incites the act that unleashes, the hidden horrors, the unseen deaths, the un-therapeutic suffering of billions, so that some of this suffering, at least, may be experienced by the remainder, to get them to try and fix the crappy product? Yes?

            Sorry. I'm too angry to proceed. I expect deletion.

          • severalspeciesof

            Brilliant Phil...

          • Susan

            >Brilliant Phil...
            Yes. Thank you Phil.

          • severalspeciesof

            Good grief... There isn't a single atheist that I know of that has said that theists look at a baby with cancer and say "ah, God must exist!"

            IMO, The very idea that a baby that has cancer might be a way to bring about good in ways we can't imagine is devoid of an empathetic mindset towards that child... it's cold hearted and despicable to that child and the child's parents and loved ones...

          • Nairb

            "If death is not the end, and God is good and loving,..then it's rational to accept that God can both allow tragedy "

            Perhaps, Perhaps not. Syllogisms are not always true even if they are logical, as Aristotle noted. It depends on the truth of the premise.
            Such ideas are mere conjecture since they make reference to attributes of an intangible world.
            Such an nihilistic attitude to life and suffeirng is sad to hear as it denies the importance of life.

          • Michael Murray

            So baby cancer is OK because the Big Boss has his reasons. Nice.

            He can still bring good out of that tragedy in ways that we can't imagine.

            But the question is why did he allow the tragedy in the first place ? So he could bring good out of it ? Some sort of global Munchausen by proxy syndrome ?

            Surely it is simpler to face the facts. No gods. No dilemmas. Then we can all concentrate on removing the suffering that we can.

    • Ian Bibby

      Any Christian using Kenneth Miller as an authority, however, should be aware that he's not really a theist properly speaking, and that this even extends to him having a materialist view of the human person: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/06/naturalism-in-news.html

      • Ian Bibby
      • articulett

        He defines himself as a Catholic. I'm willing to label him however he wants to label himself. Christians are not able to agree on who the "true Christians" are-- and I don't really care any more than I care who the "True Mormons" are. I think it's bizarre that someone should look to someone else to decide what they can and can't believe

    • Jeff Olson

      "The Evolution Hoax Exposed" by A.N. Field (on Amazon.com) is quite an interesting read.

  • AshleyWB

    Does anyone actually "identify" as an “atheistic evolutionist”, as you claim? That's not a term I usually hear except perhaps from creationists when referring to non-creationists.

    In any case, you present a very naive view of intelligent design, which more than anything is a political movement. Sorry if that's not "charitable", but it's true. The roots of ID are indeed in creationism, and the primary goal of the movement is not to uncover truth but to assault scientific materialism. Two good sources of information on this are the "Wedge" document leaked from the Discovery Institute and the transcript of the Dover trial. Among other things, the transcript reveals that the supposed ID book "Of Pandas and People" which the Dover school board wanted to distribute to students was a creationist text with the words "intelligent design" globally substituted for "creation".

    Not everyone in this game is an honest player. The idea that we treat everyone kindly and with respect is soothing but unworkable, because people whose interest is ideology rather than truth exploit that approach to control the conversation and steer it in the directions they choose. That is the entire point of the ID movement's attempt to get their ideas into science classes. Some people have to be ignored to allow breathing room for the truth.

    • Rationalist1

      I think only people who want to disparage evolution use the adjective atheistic. Many religious people hold the same view of evolution as I do except for the detail of creating human souls.

      The ruling of Judge Jones ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_E._Jones_III ), a Bush appointed, practicing Lutheran totally eviscerates the ID side and exposes it for their disingenuous tactics (at least in the Dover case). His ruling in this case is worth the read and restored my faith in the impartiality of the judicial system,

      • Dcn Harbey Santiago

        Ashley, R1,
        What term would you suggest instead of "atheistic evolutionist"?
        "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
        Deacon Harbey Santiago

        • BenS

          I don't think it needs one in the same way that people who don't disagree with the scientific consensus on chemistry aren't called 'atheistic chemistryists' or people who think 'intelligent falling' is silly aren't called 'atheistic gravityists'. A name is only needed because the 'opposing' camp have one.

        • Octavo

          Biologist.

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            I'm afraid some Biologists are theists, so that will not do.

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            Deacon Harbey Santiago

          • Octavo

            Some chemists are theists too, but we don't seem to need to refer to them as "theistic chemists."

            Then again, that's probably because we don't have an issue with "theistic chemists" theorizing that that chemical bonds are caused by angels pulling atoms together.

        • Rationalist1

          Evolution. We have the atomic theory of atoms without needing to preface it with atheistic. We have the germ theory of disease without having to preface it with atheistic. Why is evolution different?

          • Dcn Harbey Santiago

            R1,

            Certainly, you are not suggesting that "evolution" and "evolutionist" are the same thing, right?

            Ashley said>>"Does anyone actually "identify" as an “atheistic evolutionist”

            "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
            Deacon Harbey Santiago

          • Rationalist1

            Deacon - But in the same way you don't need to preface evolutionist with atheistic, you don't have to preface evolution with atheistic.

        • Max Driffill

          Well there are some biologists who accept evolutionary theory and are practicing christians. Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, come immediately to mind. I think Don Prothero was also one of the these but the more I hear him talk of late, the more I think his little ichthys fish has gotten away. To understand evolution as a fact, and to hold that The Neo-Darwinian synthesis best explains that fact is not necessarily to be an atheist. Though when I was more regularly a professional biologist it was hard not to notice the preponderance of atheists like myself. In any event, people pair the terms in an effort to discredit evolutionary biology by implying that one has to be an atheist to find evolutionary biology compelling.

          Also to call someone an evolutionist is to assume they have a rigid position that could not change with new evidence.

          May be better way to describe someone would be to say they find evolutionary theory so overwhelmingly supported by the evidence it would be perverse to reject it.

    • Ashley, thanks for the comment. It's true that *some* proponents of Intelligent Design have hijacked the term for nefarious purposes. But that doesn't make it untrue or not worth discussing. It seems you've fallen into the very error Jimmy write against, namely grouping *all* believers in an intelligent designer into one category, smearing that group with the actions of a small few, and then generally dismissing the category of belief.

      • Rationalist1

        I think the nefarious aspect of the Dover case was that the ID proponents were coy is trying to say that they weren't promoting a specific source of design (it could even be aliens) but in fact "knew" all along where the design came from (at least in their minds).

      • Andrew G.

        "belief in an intelligent designer" isn't what marks out the ID movement as distinct from theistic evolutionists. In that sense, most people who are "believers in an intelligent designer" are, if they're sufficiently informed about biological facts, theistic evolutionists.

        What sets the ID movement (such as it is) apart from theistic evolution is the idea of irreducible complexity, the position that some biological structures are such that they cannot have evolved gradually but could only have appeared in a single act of creative intervention by the "designer". This reflects the ID movement's origin as a political wedge for full-on creationism.

        For a more detailed look at the differences, consider Ken Miller's Only A Theory, which is a dismantling of the ID-movement position from the point of view of a (Catholic) theistic evolutionist.

      • AshleyWB

        No, Brandon, I did not group all believers of an "intelligent designer" into one category. That's a position you are reading into my post. Please re-read it more carefully. I spoke of the ID movement without any mention of general belief in an intelligent designer.

        • Ashley, I did read your comment carefully and forgive me if I've misinterpreted it. But when you said:

          "intelligent design, which more than anything is a political movement"

          I took this to mean that being politically motivated was fundamental to believing in Intelligent Design. The rest of your comment, which focused exclusively on politically motivated IDers, seemed to suggest as much.

          To clarify, would you agree that it's possible for someone to believe in an intelligent designer of the cosmos *without* being politcally motivated, attempting to smuggle in Young Earth Creationism under a different name, or denying evolution?

          • Andrew G.

            Someone with those beliefs would not be considered part of the ID movement (by those forming the core of that movement). For all practical purposes they would be theistic evolutionists.

          • flippertie

            The modern Intelligent Design movement was deliberately started as a way to introduce creationist ideas into US Public Schools after teaching Creationism and Creation Science were ruled unconstitutional.

            The main 'think tank' promoting ID is the discovery Institute. They claim publicly, as a matter of political expediency, not to be religiously motivated, but the Dover trial, the Wedge document, and the makeup of the fellows and sponsors of the DI give the lie to that.

            The fact that some members of the public accept the DI's publicity and spin does not change the fact that at it's core the ID movement is a fundamentalist christian grouping with a political agenda.

    • Christian Stillings

      Regarding your first paragraph, I agree that one doesn't usually include one's theological perspectives when describing their work in science. Both Kenneth Miller and Richard Dawkins would identify as "biologists", but their theological views are decidedly different. However, in a discussion involving the intersection of theology and science, terms are necessary for distinguishing God(s)-believing evolution-believers from non-God(s)-believing evolution-believers. I wouldn't normally describe Dawkins as an "atheistic evolutionist", but if someone asked me how his scientific and theological perspectives interact, I might use the term.

      • But if both of those people are truly discovering what actually happens in the natural world, they should get the same answer, right? What is true is true in the natural world, whether you have faith or not.

        I'm curious what you mean about "how his scientific and theological perspectives interact"? I know what a Catholic would say (about interactions), but I'm not sure why that should matter to an atheist. There should be no interaction, right? (I know there sometimes is, but there should not be.)

    • tedseeber

      I have one in my personal blog right now, though rightly speaking, he has abandoned that position in favor of Intelligent Design. I'm trying to bring him back to theistic evolution based on the idea that a random God would yeild a random Physics.

    • Ian Bibby

      The only reason someone would object to "atheistic evolutionist" in this sort of discussion is if they're deliberately trying to paper over logical distinctions to muddy the intellectual waters.

  • Rationalist1

    I know Jimmy Akins is trying to present four different views of evolution and charitably mentions young earth creationism as a viewpoint and then cautions tolerance towards differing viewpoints. But young earth creationism, even if it is the defacto position of 40% of the American people is as wrong as astrology, geocentric theory of the solar system and believing the moon landing was a hoax. In this case the most charitable action is not to be tolerant but to say that position is totally wrong.

    • Most Catholics would agree. We stand with St. Thomas Aquinas who argues that the most charitable act is leading someone to the Truth.

      (But note: It's possible to do that without belittling someone. You can be intolerant of their beliefs while tolerating of the person. I'm not accusing you of this, but I am suggesting that in general most people online do a poor job of presenting the truth charitably--"charitably" in the colloquial sense.)

      • Rationalist1

        I agree on not being intolerant to the person, but in all charity, a belief that is demonstrably untrue, such as the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago should be treated as ridiculous.

        • If by "ridiculous" you mean "deserving of scorn or ridicule", then I guess I just wouldn't agree. I think a far more effective way of winning someone to the truth is by treating their belief respectfully, and then calmly and reasonably showing why it's flawed, without resorting to humiliation.

          • Rationalist1

            Take another example. A group of individuals recently rented a boat from Russians to go to the North Pole to look for an entrance to an underground world (I kid you not). If someone were to advocate that idea in your presence what would your response be. Mine would be that that idea is totally ridiculous and then explain why.

          • I'd probably just explain why they've been misled rather than call them or their idea "ridiculous." I just find the latter to be unnecessary and unproductive. Most times, if someone describes your deeply held belief as "ridiculous" you shut down and tune out whatever arguments follow.

          • articulett

            You can do that with people who think they are saved for believing certain stories and damned if the don't. If your method worked, I don't think we would have many believers-- certainly not Muslim or Christian fundamentalists.

            When people have been lead to believe that Satan will try to tempt them out of their faith, then they feel like heroes if they are able to hang on to it no matter what.

            Respecting such beliefs gives the illusioin that such belief are worthy of respect. They aren't. They should be treated like every other superstition or myth until or unless they can show they are more than that.

          • Rob VH

            articulett, maybe the reason the approach didn't work because "calmly and reasonably showing why it's flawed" simply doesn't work when what you're trying to counter is actually the truth.

          • articulett

            And maybe children being killed in Africa for being "witches" really are witches.

          • Rob VH

            Source? I'd like to read up on that.

            As for persecuting "witches", that is a practice denounced by the Catholic Church throughout its history. During the time of the "witch hunts", the Pope officially denounced the practice stating that belief in witches was superstition and hence forbidden for Catholics. Unfortunately, Protestants don't obey the Catholic Church and wrongly convicted and killed many innocent people during that time.

            There are some ludicrous claims that keep getting parroted by uncritical thinkers about the Catholic Church's crimes. The reality is -- as proven by reliable historians -- that even the dreaded Inquisitions killed less than 3000 people over a period spanning centuries (and the Church tried to stop the capital punishment doled out by the State). That's downright mild for that period of human history where governments routinely doled out punishments of torture and execution.

            The Church is not blameless by any means but many accusations against it are patently false or have been blown out of all proportion. But I digress.

        • davidulmer

          It is completely rational to believe that something created in a mature state of function would appear with age when created. For example, if God created Adam in a moment, he would appear or measure perhaps 33 years old one day after he existed. It seems to me that most "creationists" don't articulate this point very well, nor do most opposed to a literal 7 day creation allow for it in regarding the measured age of a mature universe, earth, ocean, etc.

    • Ian Bibby

      YEC is way off, but materialist atheism is even worse that astrology or geocentrism, since it's not even logically coherent, and conflicts with the most basic observable facts and even the very existence of objective truth. And yet, I don't advocate ridiculing people simply for holding that view.

      • severalspeciesof

        I'm curious, what makes 'materialistic atheism' incoherent (besides the term itself, since atheism isn't materialistic)?

  • stanz2reason

    The differences between ID & theistic evolution seem like semantic distinctions. It seems they say the same thing, only the ID camp seems convinced their position is supported by science and the theistic evolution camp isn't so sure. Maybe I'm missing something here of what warrants a distinction.

    I don't see any reason that creationists are included in a serious discussion. Their views, which they proudly and readily admit make their inclusion in a reasonable discussion pointless. If we can't settle on their universe being 6000 years old vs. 14 billion or so years old what's the point in proceeding?

    While currently lacking a firm answer to questions of biogenesis, gradual evolution by natural selection doesn't seem to require a divine hand to work. Adding one is currently superfluous. It seems like creationists are ascientists, ID folk are scientific charlatans, theistic evolution folk are scientific agnostics, and atheistic evolutionists are the real believers.

    • ID pretends that they are not, necessarily, Theistic. As others have pointed out, it is a kind of wink, wink, attempt at getting around U.S. laws about not teaching religion in science class. Didn't work.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      ID and theistic evolution are clearly distinct. ID thinks God steps into his creation at various times and makes things directly. Theistic evolutionists think God endows the universe with adequate resources to do what it does on its own.

      • Theistic evolutionists think God endows the universe with adequate resources to do what it does on its own.

        What about saving the odd baby from a plane crash?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Off topic, QQ.

          • My question is if theistic evolutionists are taking a "hands off" position that includes all the "miracle" working as well? If not, then how would the Universe have "adequate resources" to account for all that happens? Or is it, as Christopher Hitchens used to wonder, that a deity or deities does nothing but watch, for billions of years till humans evolve, and then also waits hundreds of thousands of years of human suffering, before any interaction?

            Seems on topic to me.

          • severalspeciesof

            Yes, just where does the 'theistic' come in, in 'theistic evolution? If it's at the very beginning, then why call it theistic while astronomy isn't called 'theistic astronomy'?

      • stanz2reason

        Would a theist evolutionist subscribe to instances of god directly iterfering in other ways than creation, or to other common supernatural christan claims like those of jesus, or are they more along the lines ofgod got everything started and then sits silently on the sideli e and watches??

      • flippertie

        "God endows the universe with adequate resources to do what it does on its own" - Those would be Deists. Theistic Evolution, as I understand it, is the position that evolution proceeds largely on it's own but was nudged, or guided by a god to produce us, its ultimate goal.

    • ... and atheistic evolutionists are the real believers.

      I would have said, "and atheistic evolutionists are believers in the real."

      The thing that distinguishes the ID folk is that they claim intervention by (he who they must not name, for school board legal reasons) to make physical structures in biological systems that are impossible to make by natural evolution.

  • severalspeciesof

    "Creationism, Evolutionism, and Intelligent Design are three of the major positions on the question of how we got here."

    They may be major positions (though I would argue that NASIntelligent Design* falls under the umbrella of creationism. Indeed, the term "cdesign proponentsists" proves it (if one doesn't understand google that term). So right away this article is not off to a good start.

    Plus, just because the positions may be 'major' doesn't give them equal weight. There are a vast number of people that believe in astrology, but that doesn't mean we need to give their ideas equal weight, time or...( dare I say it?) equal respect... to the knowledge of the cosmos...

    • Rationalist1

      Agreed. And while there may be many answers to certain questions there are some that should nt be seriously entertained and young earth creationism is one of them. To use Wolfgang Pauli's expression "It is not only not right, it is not even wrong,"

  • I'd suggest that the biggest hurdle for the theistic (and particularly Catholic) view of human origins is being able to reconcile specific dogmas seemingly directly tied to "monogenism" with emerging evidence and theories associated with polygenism. Catholics must adhere to belief in the fall of our "first parents" and the belief that this "original sin" of "Adam" is transmitted from him to all the human race. Can we do so without living in fear of the evidence of polygenism (the human race arising from more than one pair of "first parents")???
    I'd certainly say yes.

    • Rationalist1

      That certainly is an issue and the Catholic Church is quite clear on the mongenism point.

      Genetically it can be shown that all humans are descended patrilineally from a
      "Y-chromosomal Adam" and on the matrilineal side from "Mitochondrial Eve". These two individuals did not live at the same time.

      • Well, the Catholic Church is quite clear that the dogmatic teachings it proclaims adhere particular to a "first couple"--Adam and Eve.
        But it also makes clear that we Catholics may believe that our physical, bodily forms "evolved" from pre-existing sources, as long as we hold that God immediately creates each human soul and that souls certainly do not "evolve.
        Further, I'd suggest there is a way to reconcile the demands of these dogmas with the evidence regarding the emergence of our species from polygenism. There's a fairly simple way of reconciling the Adam-Eve-Eden-Fall story of Genesis with polygenism. And it has to do with the "immediacy" with which God creates the human soul...

        • stanz2reason

          So we'll back away from reasonable scientific evidence against the 'Adam & Eve' myth and downshift into god conjuring up souls at some point and calling that reconciliation.

          At some point it might be worth considering whether you're letting the data of the world dictate your conclusions or vice versa.

          • Well, since science can really have nothing at all to say about the existence or non-existence of souls, it really cannot be used to prove or disprove the Catholic view of human nature, human origin, and the fall and original sin, relative to souls...

          • David Egan

            Not true. The fact that the soul is completely undetectable and does not fit it with what we know about the way the world works is pretty conclusive proof that it doesn't exist. See the Sean Carroll talk about this topic that has been posted on this site several times.

          • A bit of a self-fulfilling statement, isn't it? The soul's not "real" because "our" view of the way the world works proves it's not "real"?
            Trying to use "science" to determine whether the soul exists is kind of like trying to use a *hearing aid* to determine whether the color red exists...

          • David Egan
          • It seems clear that the common thread regarding both atheism at large and the soul question in specific is that, if one were to admit the possibility that something non-materially human exists, then that would lend credibility to the existence of a non-material deity. From the *theist* view, the reverse is true--namely, that the existence of a God Who is Spirit makes it easy to believe humans created in the image and likeness of God are *also* spirit (as well as matter).
            And David's link, above, seems to argue for that view as well.
            But that remains my point--God, the soul, anything "spiritual"--is not the "stuff" of science to begin with. But that fact does *not* negate the truth of what is spiritual anymore than the fact that, for example, the discipline of literature does not consider mathematical equations to be its "stuff" either....rather, we need to use the right tools for the right job...

          • BenS

            But that remains my point--God, the soul, anything "spiritual"--is not the "stuff" of science to begin with. But that fact does *not* negate the truth of what is spiritual anymore than the fact that, for example, the discipline of literature does not consider mathematical equations to be its "stuff" either....rather, we need to use the right tools for the right job..

            Actually, science IS the right tool for the job.

            There comes a point when you have to accept that the tool is perfect for the job and the reason it can't help you is because the soul simply doesn't exist.

            If it can't be measured in any way, shape or form, if it can't be detected or its actions observed, if there is - in fact - absolutely no evidence that such a thing exists or does anything at all then you finally have to grudgingly admit that it just... isn't... there...

          • articulett

            Don't you think real things should be distinguishable from illusions of such when subject to scientific testing? How can anyone know anything about something if we cannot establish that it exists? Shall we assume gypsy curses are real since we can't prove they aren't? Shall we assume that Mohummed flew on a horse because we can't prove he didn't?

          • Max Driffill

            Again that is not the case. IF theists posit a soul that has effects on human bodies it is, at least in principle a testable entity. I would contend that for a soul to be a useful concept at all it would have to do this.

            But rejecting soul on the grounds David has laid out is not self-fulfilling. No more than rejecting bigfoot is self-fulfilling or rejecting the hypothesis that Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers still have extant populations in the deep south are self-fulfilling. There is no evidence for them, they, like souls can be rejected until new evidence causes us to revisit the concept.
            The problem is that we cannot reject the null hypothesis (there is no soul). This is simply good evidentiary reasoning.

          • Rationalist1

            Max - But it's like prayer. There's no evidence it affects the human body so theists can say it brings about spiritual healing, which they add, is much more important.

          • Max Driffill

            That is the thing about untethering one's perspective from reality I guess, it can be rescued, at least to the satisfaction of the believer, by any old ad hoc reasoning. Well, special pleading gets you no where in science.

          • Susan

            >Trying to use "science" to determine whether the soul exists is kind of like trying to use a *hearing aid* to determine whether the color red exists...

            1 )Why?

            2) What method do YOU use to determine that a "soul" exists?

          • tedseeber

            But it does fit in with what we know about the way the world works.

          • Max Driffill

            I have to agree with David.

            But science has things to say about human nature and its development that depart radically from the Catholic conception of that nature.

            Souls do not matter to science, because there is no reason to take the claim of souls seriously. There is no evidence for them, they add nothing at all to our understanding of human nature, decision making. They don't help us understand a single about the lives of human beings. In fact positing them (unnecessarily, because no evidence for them exists) only serves to massively confuse any such explanatory endeavor.

          • primenumbers

            Souls are an un-evidenced ad-hoc theory. We can invent all manner of such theories, but the soul is a theory that is not just un-evidenced and ad-hoc but utterly un-testable.

          • cowalker

            This idea that there was a first couple distinguished from everyone else in their tribe(s)--parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins--by having souls is fascinating. I guess we would assume that they grew up with souls, raised by parents who did not have souls. The mind boggles. At least mine does. Did they really have a fair shot at developing the moral sense needed to fairly determine the fate of the entire ensouled human race? And after the separation from God, was it all incest for several generations or did God randomly ensoul previously soul-lacking humans for their children to take as mates? Potential plotlines wilder than "Dallas" for sure. I can't think why Christian writers have ignored this end of the Bible in favor of the End of Days.

          • Susan

            >Well, since science can really have nothing at all to say about the existence or non-existence of souls, it really cannot be used to prove or disprove the Catholic view of human nature, human origin, and the fall and original sin, relative to souls...

            Not one iota of evidence, then?

          • articulett

            Can science say anything about the existence or non-existence of fairies? demons? Zeus?

          • tedseeber

            Any good reasonable and rational religion WILL let the data of the world have at least some input into its conclusions.

        • Max Driffill

          Well then it also reveals the arbitrary nature of God's choice. Did Neanderthals have souls? They were not so very different from anatomically modern humans. In fact it appears that non-african humans have about 1-4% Neanderthal DNA ridding around in the their genome. If they don't have souls why don't they have souls?

          What about Homo floresiensis? Why should they not get a soul? Or H. heidlebergensis? These species were not all that different from H. sapiens.

          But there I go getting a bit ahead of myself. How would you demonstrate that the soul is a thing in the first place?

          • The distinctive of the human soul is that it is a *rational* soul, and thus the Catholic view of human nature would include the idea that no creature--hominid or otherwise--possesses a rational soul except for our species. What does that mean for Neanderthals? Don't know. Is it "arbitrary"? Yes, in the sense that God can do what He wills in this regard.

          • Susan

            >The distinctive of the human soul is that it is a *rational* soul, and thus the Catholic view of human nature would include the idea that no creature--hominid or otherwise--possesses a rational soul except for our species.

            What does that mean? "Rational" soul?

          • Max Driffill

            There is really not an delicate way to say this. But your response seems to have precisely no content. It makes a great many un-demonstrated assumptions, but it explains nothing, and adds nothing to our understanding of human nature.

            1. The Catholic view of human nature seems to assume that it resides in the soul, or that the soul affects that nature. There is no evidence of this, there is in fact no evidence of the soul. It is a useless concept. Our nature seems to reside in our biology and in the effects of our environment on that biology. There is no reason to posit anything else. Until someone demonstrates an adequate body of evidence for this entity it is best to treat it like unicorns and bigfoots.
            As non-existent.

            2. What is a rational soul? How does it affect human nature? Why should H. sapiens get this reward of eternal life, and H. neanderthalensis, whose mental lives were probably just as rich at the time of the first "ensoulment" be denied this? Why did they have to be cursed with Hobbesian lives and get no reward? The thing about being arbitrary is that it is often coupled with injustice. I can do wither I will with my children. I am big and strong and they would be powerless stop me. However that in no means every thing I do would then be just, kind or correct. The situation is the same with gods.

            Your admission that it would be arbitrary if the Christian god behaved in this way, at least has the merit of being consistent with a god that would pick a chosen people, and allow billions to burn for something so understandable as disbelief in a preposterous proposition.

      • That certainly is an issue and the Catholic Church is quite clear on the mongenism point.

        The existence of Mitrochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam in no way equates with the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

        I would argue that the Catholic Church does not require belief that the human race descended from two "first parents." You may be able to find support for the "first parents" view in some fairly authoritative documents, but I don't think you will find anything that binds Catholics to believing it. It is a position that is dying or already dead.

        • Actually, David--it remains an imperative of the Catholic faith to believe in a first Adam and a first Eve as first human couple. This position is far from dying or dead.

          • David Egan

            How do you deal with the fact that something that is required to believe is definitely not true?

          • In this case, you have to get the definition of human nature correct before drawing a conclusion about the scientific evidence as it presents itself today. For the Catholic, the definition of human nature obviously and necessarily includes the human soul, which science can really say nothing about. So it is erroneous to say that Catholic teaching on our first parents is "definitely not true", if you are a priori dismissing the Catholic teaching on the existence of the human soul...

          • [I]t remains an imperative of the Catholic faith to believe in a first Adam and a first Eve as first human couple.

            Jim, I hope (and believe) for the sake of the Catholic Church that that is incorrect, because we know that the human race did not descend solely from one man and one woman.

          • No, David, what we "know" (that is, what science seems to indicate to us today, here and now) is that the human race did not descend solely from the DNA of one hominid male and one hominid female, correct?

          • Rationalist1

            Jim - Requiring an Adam and Eve puts you in trouble scientifically.

          • Not if there is another means of reconciling the physical and *spiritual* origins of the human race....and I'd propose that there is...

          • severalspeciesof

            "Not if there is another means of reconciling the physical and
            *spiritual* origins of the human race....and I'd propose that there
            is..."

            So what is your proposal for doing this, and is it more than just a guess?

      • tedseeber

        These two individuals *likely* did not live at the same time. I have my doubts about the method used to date Y-chromosomal Adam, though if early proto-humanoids had the same genetic predisposition as gorillas to eliminate the offspring of rivals to the alpha male, it might explain that without necessarily leading to polygenism (the Y-chromosomal Adam would be just the most recent alpha male of the only surviving tribe from his time).

    • Thankfully, Pope Pius XII left just enough "wiggle room" in Humani Generis to permit belief in polygenism. Although there are remnants of monogenism in the Catechism, I think the Catholic Church has quietly abandoned the idea that two real, historical human individuals (whose pseudonyms are Adam and Eve) are the parents of the human race.

      It should be noted that monogenism and polygenism do not mean the same thing in Humani Generis as they do in other discussions of human origins. Monogenism in Humani Generis means that one man and one woman began the human race, and we are all their descendants. Polygenism means that the human race descended from more than a single couple. The words are usually used to mean that all human beings share a common ancestry (monogenism), which is the current belief, with polygenism meaning that different races had different origins, so that members of two different races do not share common ancestors. That second belief is repudiated by science.

    • GreatSilence

      Have a look at Jack Mahoney's "Christianity in Evolution", where Mahoney (a Catholic) tries to reconcile some of these dogmas with science. He (and several others) end up jettisoning the traditional concepts of original sin and even the need for the traditional redemption.It's not a pretty sight.

      • Yes, that would be both very un-pretty and very un-necessary! JR

    • Christian Stillings

      Mike Flynn offers the best commentary I've yet found on this question. I wouldn't go out on a limb and say that it's definitely what happened, but I think it harmonizes the dual theories nicely.

      http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

      • Andrew G.

        That argument is untenable for several reasons, but probably the most important is that it relies on the unfounded proposition that "sapience" is an either-or condition, that there is some sort of discontinuous difference between human intelligence and that of other primates.

        • Christian Stillings

          Not to get into it at length, but I don't think he was trying to demonstrate such a conditional difference. He simply proffered that it would cause the harmonization to work smoothly. If the proposition is "unfounded", so be it- the post isn't trying to prove anything. If it could be demonstrated false, the harmonization would be in trouble, but I'm not sure how such a demonstration would occur.

          Pray tell, what are the other reasons?

          • Andrew G.

            The idea that there is a "first" sapient human in a population of non-sapient humans requires such a discontinuous difference; you can't handwave it away.

            You also don't get to invent arbitrary speculative propositions in order to "harmonize" an improbable, unevidenced assertion with the known historical facts. (This is a variant of the cognitive error of "privileging the hypothesis" - you need to have sufficient evidence pointing towards your hypothesis before bringing it into salience.)

            The same error appears in his misrepresentation of speciation. He says, "Darwin tells us that at some point an ape that was not quite a man gave birth to a man that was no longer quite an ape". The true story is rather, "separate populations of hominin apes, divided by habitat boundaries or migrations, evolved in separate directions, and one such population is ancestral to modern man and others are not". Notice that the latter story is not about individuals but about populations.

            And again we see a false discontinuity in the argument about morals. There is no reason to believe that "this recognition [of good and evil] must have happened for the first time". Instead, we know that the emotional basis for our morality is common to a greater or lesser extent with other animals.

          • Christian Stillings

            I agree that it constitutes a discontinuous difference. I was saying that Flynn's point was not to demonstrate that such a difference had occurred, per se. Rather, he was examining the soundness of a theory which would necessarily incorporate such a difference.

            One is certainly able to speculate as to possible occurrences which would fit well within the framework of a pre-existing theory. I agree that he doesn't have sufficient evidence to go to an anthropology conference and say "everyone needs to believe this because of my overwhelming body of evidence!". I don't think he was trying to convince anyone that the occurrence was an actual, historical occurrence. He was proffering it as a hypothetical component of a sound theory. If someone is (for whatever reason) strongly inclined to accept other major components of that theory, such an occurrence could be something which they accept in order to believe in a sound theory.

            I don't think it would be problematic for a person to accept such an un-proveable belief based on prior beliefs which may essentially require it. It would be a problem if they tried to argue it in a scientific journal without sufficient evidence, but not as a personal conviction.

            Flynn isn't disagreeing with sound biological speciation, and I think you're misreading him if you think that he is. When he speaks of "ape giving birth to man", he's talking metaphysically about their cognitive capabilities, not about a substantial biological difference per se.

  • The big question, it seems to me, is whether or not theistic evolution is a kind of oxymoron. If evolution is defined as natural selection working on random mutations, then it is difficult to know what how that process can be guided. If "God used prior, extinct life forms to produce the life forms we see today," how can it be said that they occurred by random mutation? I don't think evolution and "theistic evolution" are necessarily impossible to reconcile, but I have never seen it done.

    • Rationalist1

      I think science and religion will find that theistic evolution, like theistic involvement with the world in other ways, occurs so subtly that it is impossible to measure using the methods of science. Perhaps some Aristotelian metaphysical explanations of causes will eventually be employed to show how God causes evolution to occur. Theologians may be advancing that viewpoint already.

      • If evolution is guided, no matter how subtly, it is not evolution. It is very slow creation. If mutations are not random, then the theory of evolution is not true. If God somehow intervenes to guarantee the mutations he needs to guide evolution along a specific path, or if he overrides natural selection to get some desired result, then the theory of evolution is false and, one might argue, God is deceiving scientists.

        • stanz2reason

          False is a little excessive. It might only change the mechanism for mutation (randomness vs. deliberate) and says nothing about the results are as intended (perhaps god figures his stuff out by trial and error like we often do). Natural selection still follows, leaving the theory largely intact.

          • primenumbers

            A God that performs a slow creation is obviously a lesser God than that which can perform an immediate creation with no need for tinkering afterwards. I hope theistic evolutionists don't try to use ontological arguments based on God's greatness or else they'll find their particular deity isn't God at all...

          • Rationalist1

            That type of God would become the Cheshire cat of Gods. Even now the smile is very faint.

          • primenumbers

            Yahweh takes 6 days and has to rest afterwards. The God I'm imagining can do all that instantaneously and not need to put his legs up afterwards! He can even do it with a much greater handicap (making him even greater still) than Yaweh because the God I'm imagining doesn't even exist. Just think of that power - he can do all that yet not even have to exist. Amazing.

          • Christian Stillings

            What do you mean by "lesser"? Can't God be omniscient/omnipotent/omnipresent/etcetera and choose to bring things about by whatever means God pleases? I'm not sure how utilizing a means of non-immediate creation would somehow make God "lesser".

          • primenumbers

            Well if we can't determine what "lesser" means, "greater" also lacks meaning too, which doesn't bode well for such definitions of God. It also means that if God is neither greater or lesser depending on evidences the theist suggests for their God, we cannot ever distinguish between a God and a lesser but still powerful (more powerful than us) being.

            You've basically taken omnipotence meaning able to do anything down to the level of able, but not willing to do anything. Unfortunately one of the parts of the definition of God is perfection, so perhaps your God is perfectly lazy while the one I'm thinking of is more industrious? But really, a slow creation with the need for a rest afterwards cannot be the result of a perfect omni-God, but it does sound like a very anthropomorphic God, the kind of which man has invented and told stories about for millennia.

          • Christian Stillings

            Well if we can't determine what "lesser" means, "greater" also lacks meaning too, which doesn't bode well for such definitions of God.

            I wasn't saying "we can't determine what 'lesser' means". I was saying that you hadn't produced any intelligible definition of "lesser" and yet were calling an evolution-compatible God necessarily "lesser" than a Young-Earth Creationist-type God. Again, what did you mean by "lesser"?

            I was defining "lesser/greater" in terms of capability. If greater capability equals "greater", an omniscient/omnipotent/omnipresent God is by definition "greater/greatest", there's no reason that an evolution-compatible God could not be "greater/greatest". The burden is on you to demonstrate a necessary conflict.

          • primenumbers

            Well, in general use, if I take a week to build a house and have to rest afterwards, yet another builder takes a day (for the same quality of house) and doesn't need to rest, I'd say that I'm the lesser house builder. If lesser / greater has to have any meaning with regards to creation, the slower builder is the lesser builder. The builder that needs to rest (surely an anthropamorphization as "God resting" is purely nonsensical) is the lesser creator compared to the creator that doesn't.

            Ontological arguments don't just talk about lesser / greater in terms of capability, but in a much more generalized sense. See above that in general use, the greater builder is the the faster one, so the greater creator would be the faster one.

            But capability ties into the notion of perfection that is attached to God in that a God operating below their capability cannot be said to be perfect.

          • Christian Stillings

            ... if I take a week to build a house and have to rest afterwards, yet another builder takes a day (for the same quality of house) and doesn't need to rest, I'd say that I'm the lesser house builder.

            First, I would point out that the structure of Genesis 1 was meant to be in some sense liturgical- God "resting" on the seventh day was to be paralleled in the Israelites' resting on the Sabbath. It's not a matter of God over-exerting Godself and needing to take a breather, or anything like that :-P

            You took a week to build a house. Your statements suggest that you couldn't have completed it sooner. However, even if you had been able to build it in one day, could you not have chosen to build it in a week anyways? When you say "the greater builder is the faster one", I think you assume that each being, in order to be "great", must operate at its maximum capacity. However, I don't think that's the case. Can't something have a high capability and choose not to exercise that capability as it chooses? If not, why not?

          • primenumbers

            Yes, it's a story. I don't think that a God rested either, but that it's written with such an anthropomorphic God suggests the origins of the story are similarly human.

            Perfection puts limits on God (to be always perfect) or else to say God is perfect has no meaning.

            We can certainly not have to always operate to the best of our abilities and to the maximum of our capacities, but we are not perfect and don't possess unlimited power. We have other things drawing our attention that would be meaningless for a God.

          • Christian Stillings

            If the text is indeed Divinely Inspired, there's no reason that God could not present Godself anthropomorphically as to best best understood by those beings with whom God was communicating. Plus, if the passage is supposed to be liturgical in reference to the Israelite week-and-Sabbath, wouldn't it make more sense for it to be anthropomorphic than to be non-anthropomorphic?

            For the record, I agree that the anthropomorphism would also suit an entirely human literary creation. I don't think we'll have any particular insight into the Divine Relationship (or lack thereof) with the text through this kind of parsing either way.

            With definitions of God's perfection, I think we have to have some inkling of what we mean by "perfect" before we can make any progress at all. I haven't studied it that much myself, so I don't intend to go into it much more personally at this point.

            Would "other things drawing our attention" be the only valid reason why a person might choose to operate at less than his or her maximum capacity? Could there not be other valid reasons why I might choose to accomplish a thing over more time than is strictly necessary?

          • primenumbers

            If we have no inkling of what perfect may mean for a deity (or "greater" for that matter) then why use the word? It seems that a lot of attributes are placed on God, yet those attributes don't either mean what they normally mean when that word is normally used, or when a contradiction is found by using what those words mean, we get back to the point of us not having an inkling of what those words may mean for a deity...

            There could be all number of valid reasons for me not to work at my full capacity, and I'm sure you could invent a bunch of reasons for a deity not to either, but that would be an ad-hoc rationalization, of which we can always (being reasonably intelligent people) think of many for practically anything.

          • severalspeciesof

            "Plus, if the passage is supposed to be liturgical in reference to the
            Israelite week-and-Sabbath, wouldn't it make more sense for it to be
            anthropomorphic than to be non-anthropomorphic?"

            That's pretty interesting, but IMO wouldn't it be better just to say 'Hey, That's a good idea to take a break every seven or so days, else you'll wear yourself out. Oh, and by the way, just make sure you worship me fervently on that day off. I'll get pretty angry at you if you don't. That's just the way I roll."

            That lays it out concisely I think... ;-)

          • Oh, and by the way, just make sure you worship me fervently on that day off.

            Look at it as a short term memory refresher. (And a way to be sure the priesthood gets regular pay.)

          • It might only change the mechanism for mutation (randomness vs. deliberate) . . .

            If mutations are not random, then the process is not evolution. Someone who believes that the mutations that resulted in, say, human beings (and the natural selection that selected for those mutations) were purposeful, with the desired end of producing human beings, has a religious belief that is not consistent with the theory of evolution. Theistically guided evolution is not a scientific theory. It's a religious belief. It's fine if that is what people want to believe, but it is not evolution, and it is not science.

          • stanz2reason

            I believe that's incorrect. Evolution is change over time. With respect to biological life it's the change of inherited characteristics of the populations over time. This says nothing to the driving mechanism of genetic mutation. There is room, however slight, for a deity to play a role through actions so subtle as to appear random. Don't get me wrong though, I don't buy it and have considerable issue with invoking the supernatural to explain something with an already likely natural explanation.

          • To clarify, when I say "evolution," I mean the currently held theory by scientists—Darwinian evolution, the new synthesis, the modern evolutionary synthesis, or whatever you want to call it—random mutation and natural selection. There were many theories of gradual change or evolution prior to Darwin, but I think it is reasonable today to use "evolution" to mean "the modern evolutionary synthesis."

          • Max Driffill

            Stanz2reason,
            Except of course there is really no reason to assume such a thing. We do know the kinds of mechanisms that cause genetic mutation, and it all looks pretty naturalistic, and random. Also, the burden of proof would be on anyone who said what you have said (I know you don't buy it):

            "This says nothing to the driving mechanism of genetic mutation. There is room, however slight, for a deity to play a role through actions so subtle as to appear random."

            If something like that can be asserted without evidence, it can be rejected until someone is willing to posit evidence that supports it. A person is free to believe this assertion I suppose. They have no good reason to do so.

          • stanz2reason

            Max, I agree fully that there is no reason to assume such a thing. Perhaps I've been unclear here, but I represent an atheist position (and have done so for quite sometime). I think, as I've said elsewhere, that invoking a supernatural mechanism in an instance where you have a sound natural mechanism is a poor idea. And yes, the burden of proof for all supernatural claims lies with those making the claims. Extraordinary claims & extraordinary evidence and all that.

            My point here, if I might play devils advocate (or perhaps 'gods advocate' is more appropriate in this instance) is that were someone to assert that the observed randomness in genetic mutation was really the subtle acts of a divine being of sorts, I don't think I'd have as solid a ground to stand on in refuting that claim as I would of, say, refuting a claim for an age of the earth in the 6000 year range. Say god has power, perhaps not omnipotent power, but enough so to affect genetic mutation in a subtle, as of yet distinguishable way, like a sailor using a hand paddle to move a cruise ship. Say god also lacks foresight and that these changes are then tested in the real world through the mechanism of natural selection and this process continues ad infinitum. So far as I can tell, this model, so to speak, is supported by the evidence.

            Randomness is inherently uncertain, which seems obvious enough. In that uncertainty, I feel, there is some wiggle room for the believer so that were you to wish to invoke a god of sorts, you could still do so. Of course I'd attack such a proposition as making things needlessly more complex by invoking the supernatural, that such an invocation is consistent with invoking the keebler elves to explain keebler cookies, that were you to sway me that a god acted in such a fashion (and good luck with that) that there's still no reason to attribute the creation of life or the universe to such a god nor does it speak to this gods intents & purposes (benevolence, forgiveness, etc.) though were we to judge the character of a deity through the lens of natural selection, we'd be remiss not to do so without using words like ruthless or cruel.

          • Or, keep random mutation but insert Theistic Selection. Darwin came up with Natural Selection by looking at conventional Human Selection done by likes of dog or pigeon breeders.

            You still end up with a question of how any deity interacts to do either Theistic Mutation and/or Theistic Selection. As neither has been shown necessary over natural processes, Ockham comes along and razors them off.

          • stanz2reason

            I have no problem using Ockhams razor (which is something I've alluded to elsewhere on this page without stating it outright) in my reasoning. Still, I feel there currently is just enough uncertainty for the believers to hide behind.

          • severalspeciesof

            Uncertainty, though, isn't a good place to hide behind... ;-)

          • stanz2reason

            Of course not. It's a miserable place to hide. It's also a place that gets smaller everytime we learn something new. But that seems like their problem.

          • Still, I feel there currently is just enough uncertainty for the believers to hide behind.

            Aka: "a shrinking gap"

  • I don't see any reason why we all can't just get along, provided proponents of creationism and intelligent design don't maintain that evolution is "just a theory," and that other theories should be taught in science classes. For those why buy the idea of science and religion having non-overlapping magisteria, creationism and intelligent design are examples of the religious magisterium illegitimately trying to invade the territory of the scientific magisterium. So I would have no problem being friendly toward a young-earth creationist who was friendly to me, but if he or she was campaigning to have creationism taught in science class along with evolution, I would have to oppose that.

    • Rationalist1

      Agreed. Teach YEC in your churches if you must. At one level it does a tremendous disservice to young people but people do have freedom of religion. But try to sneak it into public schools or refuse to teach evolution in religious schools and I object. You can teach creationism in religion classes in schools but the if the state has evolution as part of the curriculum it must be taught in all schools.

      • Andrew G.

        There's another issue with the effect on education that results from the kind of controversy which we have now in the US, and that's the pressure on teachers to treat evolution as a side-topic in biology and minimize the attention paid to it, rather than making it the central topic.

        • Rationalist1

          Agreed. It's like teaching physics without teaching conservation of energy.

        • The resistance to teaching it as the central pillar of biology hurts our national effort to advance in that science, and use that knowledge in areas such as medical technology.

          • Rationalist1

            It's work comparing the non teaching of evolution now to the teaching of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union for 30 years. Ideology should never determine science. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysenkoism )

  • 42Oolon

    Evolution deals with the diversity of life, not the origins. Origins is an area of inquiry called abiogenesis.

    I guess you are looking at this from a perspective of the question of whether there is a deity, but your label of "atheistic evolution" rubs me the wrong way. I think the discourse would benefit from a category of "scientific evolution". I would define as "the well-established, evidence-based theory that the diversity of life on this planet is best explained by a process of evolution by way of natural selection, irrespective of whether or not a deity or deities exists".

    Scientific Evolution does not exclude deism or theism, but it may place some limits on the nature of the deity. It also does not have a position on whether or not a deity exists.

    I would also say that if there are criticisms of scientific evolutionary theory, these need to respect the high standards of evidence required by science. Presenting criticisms which base conclusions on an absence of evidence or theory are properly ignored in science, as arguments from evidence may be ignored in the context of faith.

    • stanz2reason

      I think the differentiation between 'atheistic evolution' vs. 'theistic evolution' comes down to attributing the observed genetic mutation driving natural selection to either randomness (atheistic) or subtle acts of divinity (theistic). I think in this sense, atheistic evolution leaves open the possibility for a deity of sorts, just that he/she is not involved in evolution. Still, I disagree with a theistic evolution sense as it's really just a god of the gaps again and invokes the supernatural in a case that a natural explanation appears to suffice.

      • 42Oolon

        I think that evolution is not concerned with the question of the existence of deities. Rather, certain religious people are concerned that evolution challenges their beliefs. It actually just ignores their beliefs and describes what we observe.

        • stanz2reason

          True, evolutionary theory (like all scientific theories) is mum on the specific question of the existence of a deity, though as you noted they do places limits on at the very least how said deity performed his/her magic. However in this case differentiating between evolution as guided (or at least prompted) by a deity vs. evolution as the result of only random mutation & subsequent natural selection goes to the heart of this overall discussion. There is a meta-physical element being discussed here that warrants a distinction.

  • BenS

    I've always considered 'theistic evolution' to be massively redundant. If evolution can be shown to produce this diversity of life through random mutation and natural selection (and it has) then where, exactly, does a god need to enter the process? It seems akin to proposing 'theistic baking' where the ingredients, a bit of mixing, some heat... and a god! ... produce a cake.

    As for creationism, I know it's not considered 'nice' to call someone's belief ridiculous but any theory involving a 'young Earth' absolutely is. There are mountains and mountains of evidence for an old Earth... including mountains! You have to be well on the delusion train and leaving Barking station to believe in a young Earth in this day and age.

    • Andrew G.

      I recommend reading Jason Rosenhouse's book Among The Creationists -- Jason is a mathematics professor (and an atheist) who picked up the unusual hobby of attending creationist conferences and studying the culture.

      • BenS

        Added to my reading list, thanks. :)

        Edit: Thanks to Amazon Prime I'll have it on Wednesday. I opted to decline the helpful suggestion to post "I just bought 'Among the Creationists'!" to Facebook...

    • Fr.Sean

      Hi Ben,
      If you don't mind let me take a shot at your question. But i must admit this is only a guess. anyone who acknowledges evolution recognizes evolution as a theory in the sense that there is still a lot we don't know and still a great deal to learn. Perhaps like finding a partial jigsaw puzzle one still has to make estimates to imagine what the rest of the puzzle will look like when completed. An Atheistic Evolutionists would posit that the rest of the puzzle could be filled in without a God while a Theistic Evolutionist would simply recognize the rest of the puzzle could be filled in with or without a God but is not trying to "force" or not "force" God into the puzzle. Perhaps in that sense the Theistic Evolutionist would have a more objective view because he or she would not be making pronouncements on things that can't be proven.

      • Rationalist1

        To use the puzzle analogy, if you've put together a good number of pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle and every piece has been made out of cardboard, there's no reason to speculate that one piece has to be made of gold.

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Rationalist1,
          I'm not appealing to "God of the gaps" theory. i tend to think the laws of nature of physics were formed by a creator, thus the creator is the source of every piece. I remember reading that there were three possibilities of how things came about; 1. Pure Mathematical chance 2. Guided Mathematical Chance. 3. Pure Design. I tend to believe number 2 appears to be the most accurate and seems to line up with our world and universe. I think what Newton discovered is perhaps a good analogy. Gravity was always a part of human life, yet no one was aware of it's existence until Newton discovered it. the Laws of physics and Nature can be assumed in a similar way. I suppose the important point is that an Evolutionist whether Atheistic or Theistic needs to put that question aside and study the pieces of the puzzle and estimates of the other pieces together without getting tied up in trying to figure out if one or a couple are made of gold.

          • I remember reading that there were three possibilities of how things came about; 1. Pure Mathematical chance 2. Guided Mathematical Chance. 3. Pure Design.

            You have posted this several times on these threads, and have been asked what these terms mean. As far as I know, you have not answered those questions. What do those mean? Where did you read that? What other ways are there?

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Quine,
            I just replied to BenS. i tried to explain it a little more thoroughly. sorry i wasn't more descriptive in the past!

      • BenS

        I think, despite your comment below, you really are appealing to 'god of the gaps'. The actual framework of how evolution through random mutation and natural selection works is well fleshed out. There isn't any need for a god anywhere in the process so... where do you propose he would go?

        By saying 'guided chance' you're adding an additional layer of complexity that isn't required and you would then have to show where this occurs. If it isn't needed and can't be shown to occur then we can just Occam it away.

        Perhaps in that sense the Theistic Evolutionist would have a more
        objective view because he or she would not be making pronouncements on
        things that can't be proven.

        Sorry, this doesn't follow. A god's involvement cannot not be proven ergo putting forward the idea one might have been involved is more 'objective'? In which case Ponyist Theistic Evolutionists are even more objective because they put forward that evolution could have been guided by both god AND space ponies. No, that makes no sense, I'm afraid.

        Surely the most objective view is not to try and shoehorn things that aren't needed into a theory just because you want to see them in there?

        • BenS, I have a question about this comment:

          "The actual framework of how evolution through random mutation and natural selection works is well fleshed out. There isn't any need for a god anywhere in the process so...where do you propose he would go?"

          First, how about at the beginning? I'm not aware of any rational explanation of how evolution by natural selection began--and especially how living beings evolved from non-living beings. Perhaps one exists, and if so I'd love to learn about it.

          Second, suppose a little kid walked on a train with his father and the train shuttled them from New York to Philadelphia. When they arrive at Philadelphia, the father asks the child, "Do you know how we got here?"

          "Well, of course," the child answers, "The train took us."

          The child would be correct, in a sense. The trip *could* be explained in terms of the train alone. However, unknown to the child, there may be (and in this case, is) some imperceptible being driving the train to which the trip owes its ultimate explanation. In other words, the train trip may be contingent on an unobservable conductor.

          Could not the same be said for evolution by natural selection? Could it be that science can wonderfully illuminate the material cause of evolution without reference to God but not the efficient or final causes?

          (Note: this isn't to say that evolution *proves* God--I'm not making a "god of the gaps" argument. I'm only suggesting that there is no conflict between a theistic worldview and belief in evolution, that neither proves or disproves the other.)

          • First, how about at the beginning?

            The Theory of Evolution is about how species come to exist from prior life. Abiogenesis is about the search for how life got started.

            I think the theological impact of humans coming from non-humans is much greater than that of proto-cells coming from autocatalytic molecules.

          • Could not the same be said for evolution by natural selection?

            I think you would first have to let the child grow up, get an education, and then research everything known about trains, and transportation theory, in general.

          • severalspeciesof

            "I'm only suggesting that there is no conflict between a theistic
            worldview and belief in evolution--neither proves or disproves the
            other."

            Theistically speaking, yes... but evolution presents a huge problem (proof wise) for your particular god, the god of Adam and Eve, (figuratively or not)...

          • BenS

            First, how about at the beginning? I'm not aware of any rational explanation of how evolution by natural selection began--and especially how living beings evolved from non-living beings. Perhaps one exists, and if so I'd love to learn about it.

            This is abiogenesis which is currently under study. It shouldn't be lumped in with evolution which takes, as a pre-requisite, that life exists and then explains it from there. A rough analogy I've used in the past is that one doesn't demand seismologists explain where the Earth came from. They start with the assumption that the Earth is there and then work from that point on. (If anyone has a better one, do please share.)

            The trip *could* be explained in terms of the train alone.

            But it would be a very sketchy explanation that scientists wouldn't be satisfied with. They would want to know how this 'train' process worked and would start examining the vehicle, the tracks etc.

            To use your example, we've determined that the vehicle is DNA, the tracks are random mutation and the driver is natural selection. There's no need for The Fat Controller.

            Could not the same be said for evolution by natural selection?

            It could be, but you've missed out a very important part of the title. It's evolution through random mutation and natural selection. That random mutation part is VERY important as it's THAT part that excludes god from the theory. If the mutation is random then there is no guiding hand. And all the evidence shows that it IS random and there is no guidance going on at all.

            Could it be that science can wonderfully illuminate the material cause of evolution without reference to God but not the efficient or final causes?

            I'm afraid I have absolutely no idea what this means.

            I'm only suggesting that there is no conflict between a theistic worldview and belief in evolution, that neither proves or disproves the other.

            Well, there's no conflict between a belief in space ponies and a guided evolution - but this doesn't really contribute anything given that the scientific theory is of an unguided process.

          • ... but not the efficient or final causes?

            Do you mean the teleology?

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Ben,

          I suppose i need to clarify. Perhaps my understanding of the "god of the gaps" theory is incorrect, but i thought it was something along the lines of; An atheist scientist would point out that a Theist would believe that when science can't explain something almost phenomenally amazing that a "theist" would say something like; "see there it is, science can't address it, that's where God came into adjust things therefore there's your proof that God exists". the atheist scientists would respond by saying something to the effect of; "look we don't understand this yet but we still have to look at it from a scientific point of view, just because we don't understand it yet does not inherently prove there is a God and we should let that particular question rest."

          This type of thinking was not what i meant. Rather if you look at all of the variables in the universe. and in our world there are a lot of things that are breathtakingly amazing. i'm sure your familiar with the various fine tuning aspects of the universe. Eg; the original expansion of the big bang, the energy needed by neutrons to keep portons together as it corresponds to the pull of gravity necessary for stars and planets to form. As well as the thousands of variables of our planet, all just happened to be perfect. Now, does any one of those vairables prove God's existence, no it is just chance that they were perfect, but when you put them together it becomes a little difficult to imagine it was all just chance. For example; if i got a job at the lottery and said, "hey ben i got a job at the lottery, why don't you go play, the megaball (chance of winning is roughly 1- 175,000,000). Now lets say you won. you might think, "wow, Sean told me to go play the megaball lottery and i won, i wonder if he did something to tweak it for me? you might certainly imagine that it was just a coincidence. but if you then one ever megaball lottery for an entire year it would become an almost certainty that i was cheating for you. Would you have any empirical proof? no, there's still chance. but the odds would be so astronomically high that you could almost guarantee i was cheating for you.
          I would imagine that the god of the gaps theory would more apply to an individual lottery drawing which is not what i'm doing. when you look at the whole picture it seems to become an almost certainly things were tweaked. i know there is the multiverse theory, and certainly when you combine that with the anthropomorphic principle one might imagine that it was just chance. But then you end up making a leap of faith in the other direction; i.e. believing there are 10 to the billionth power of other universes to which we do not have any evidence that they exist.

          By the way, perhaps i should have been more clear or perhaps i was wrong about the theistic evolutionist being more objective. I was really just trying to say when studying physics and science it might be important to just look at the evidence and study it objectively without saying anything about the creator. leave the interpretation of those events to another realm. in other words an authentic scientist is not going to use his or her evidence to say; "look there is no God, or look there is a God". Just look at the evidence as it is and apply the scientific method to study science.

          • BenS

            I'm sorry, but I've read all this and I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be responding to.

            It seems like you've wandered from saying "We don't know everything about evolution therefore a god 'might' be in there.' (Which I took as 'god of the gaps) to personal incredulity as just how cool everything is - the fine tuning argument.

            The fine tuning argument has been beaten to death long before and this topic is about evolution anyway. Maybe there'll be a post on fine tuning we can engage each other on in the future but for now, let's stick on topic lest Brandon spank us both like errant children.

            I was really just trying to say when studying physics and science it might be important to just look at the evidence and study it objectively without saying anything about the creator.

            But this is exactly what science does and you do not. Science, like it does for everything, does not hold that something exists unless it is demonstrated. You, by your wording, clearly do.

            in other words an authentic scientist is not going to use his or her evidence to say; "look there is no God, or look there is a God"

            And none have said that, to my knowledge, when describing the theory of evolution. What we CAN say, and with extreme confidence, is that there is no need to insert a god in the theory of evolution as it holds together just fine without one. You can use this theory to show that certain things are untrue (like humanity being 6000 years old and popping into place as is) but that's not what the theory was put forward for and isn't the purpose of it.

            The theory was put forward to best describe the evidence we see. And it does just that.

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Ben,
            I apologize, i've got so much to do today i'm trying to respond with limited time and find myself not adequately conveying what i am trying to say.

            1. some atheistic scientists appear to want to use science as a tool to disprove God's existence. however i realize i may have made a misjudgement.
            2. while there may not be a "god of the gaps" observation to prove God's existence, i am not supporting a God of the gaps type of mentality.
            3. i have not read any realistic refutation of the fine tuning argument only a modification of the numbers. I have also heard various atheistic physicists acknowledge that the universe appears to be fine tuned. those observations are not subjective, there just basically mathematical observations. the "subjective" part simply falls into how fine tuned they are. the fine tuning argument supports the notions of a theistic evolutionist as well as a designer in some respects. While no individual observation (or individual lottery) proves there is a God, if you put them all together the "evidence of fine tuning is overwhelming" and which may be compared to the analogy i used of you winning the lottery every time for a year.

          • BenS

            I apologize, i've got so much to do today i'm trying to respond with limited time and find myself not adequately conveying what i am trying to say.

            So many souls to save, heretics to burn... *

            some atheistic scientists appear to want to use science as a tool to disprove God's existence. however i realize i may have made a misjudgement.

            Well, like I said, some people can go right ahead and do that but that's not what the tool was designed for and that's not what evolution was put forward for. Science is a tool we use to get the most accurate understanding we can of the evidence we find whilst fooling ourselves the least. That so far science has uncovered no evidence at all pointing to the existence of a god is something theists will have to come to terms with in their own time.

            while there may not be a "god of the gaps" observation to prove God's existence, i am not supporting a God of the gaps type of mentality.

            I'll take that a face value, but it really did sound to me like you were. Let's move on. :)

            i have not read any realistic refutation of the fine tuning argument only a modification of the numbers.

            I'm sure QQ (The Keeper of the Links) will furnish you with many when the subject comes up for discussion. I believe he's indexed the entire internet.

            I have also heard various atheistic physicists acknowledge that the universe appears to be fine tuned.

            They, also, would have to suffer me pointing out that it doesn't matter a monkey's what it 'appears' like to them. It's what they can show using the scientific method. They're not exempt just because they claim they're atheists.

            ---

            * Humour. I'm funny.

          • Rather if you look at all of the variables in the universe. and in our world there are a lot of things that are breathtakingly amazing. i'm sure your familiar with the various fine tuning aspects of the universe.

            I am familiar with it as a logical canard, and have written about that. If you think that is true, please present the evidence. Remember, the fact that physicists have critical parameters in their models of the Universe does not mean that the Universe is necessarily "fine tuned." Without the "necessity" part of the argument, the rest falls. If you want to use that argument, bring the evidence and I will take it apart for you.

          • Fr.Sean

            hi Quin,
            i had to run, so i will attempt to address ur question later on in the week. but just a few. if the energy needed by neutrons to keep protons together as that corresponds to the energy of gravity was just a little different, would stars and planets have formed? 2 Hawkings evaluation of the original expansion and rate of entropy, if he is correct and they were just a little different, would stars and planets have formed? those r just 2 but i'm sure you get the idea, unless u can prove that Hawkings, and the neutron to gravity ratio was calculated incorrectly/

          • if the energy needed by neutrons to keep protons together as that corresponds to the energy of gravity was just a little different, would stars and planets have formed?

            There is no way to know. You have proposed a counter-factual that we cannot experimentally test. We can't even test it in principle because we don't know what else would have to change for that energy ratio to be any different from what we measure. And, of course, we don't know if it ever can be any different.

            Hawkings evaluation of the original expansion and rate of entropy, if he is correct and they were just a little different, would stars and planets have formed?

            Same answer, for the same reason.

            those r just 2 but i'm sure you get the idea, ..

            And they have the same answer, and so will all non-falsifiable counter-factuals. It always boils down to, "If the Universe were different, then it would not be the same." Okay, that's true, so what? Postulating a different Universe, with different behavior, from the one (and only one) we can test, loses all inference from what we can test.

          • cowalker

            Why assume that the formation of stars and planets was intentional? A universe with compatible physical laws coheres and exists. A universe with incompatible physical laws does not cohere and exist. What would be truly remarkable would be if we were creatures surviving in an environment that was not compatible with our survival. In other words, if our existence with a body temp of 98.6 F was clearly maintained from microsecond to microsecond on the sun, by inexplicable, supernatural means. That we exist in an environment compatible with our particular physiology, which evolved in that environment, is no more remarkable than ice cubes turning out consistently to be shaped like the depressions in the ice cube tray.

      • Max Driffill

        Theory in science doesn't really mean that. There may be more to figure out about evolution, but there is nothing in what we do know to indicate that we need anything supernatural. What we do know about evolutionary biology is actually quite al lot. The difference between the scientific approach and one who assumes "theistic evolution is simply this. One will be guided by evidence, the other will not.
        Rationalist1 makes a good point about the nature of induction. What the theologist does is violate the rules of induction in an attempt to rescue doctrines we simply don't need would be better discarded.

        Look again at the puzzle analogy, because it is really quite apt. We can see the shape of he missing pieces, we even know what the picture in those missing pieces will detail. Why does the believer feel justified in ignoring this?

      • An Atheistic Evolutionists would posit that the rest of the puzzle could be filled in without a God ...

        More like noting that, so far, natural processes do the explaining, and that there is no need to look to the supernatural until that is no longer the case.

        Also keep in mind that evolution of species is an observed fact, and common ancestry of all species is well supported by observed fact. The Theory, is about the mechanism of how that happens, and is also well supported by evidence. The large parts of the puzzle have been filled in, and those pieces left to find are not ones that will make a significant difference to the population outside of the community of biologists who are working them out.

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Quine,
          I do hope scientists or more specifically biologists will continue to uncover a great deal more of evolution. but i do think you're almost falling into an "atheist of the gaps" mentality in the sense of proposing that science will have all the answers on how things came about therefore we don't need God. i think it's perfectly logical to look at natural science and recognize it from a scientific perspective while acknowledging that there was originally a creator who set things in motion. if the idea is that science can eventually disprove God's existence i think you may find that pursuit will never come to fruition. Would it really be that bad if God existed? Can't one just enjoy and observe the universe and world without seeing as a tool to disprove the existence of God? would it really be that bad of an idea to take logic and reason to the question of God's existence and look at it from an objective point of view? Would it really be such a horrible thing if there was a God who created you, loved you, wanted to be a part of your life and wanted your company forever?

          • Rationalist1

            But actulayy Quine said " no need to look to the supernatural until that is no longer the case." There has been no need of evoking God to explain evolution but it may happen. Until then evoking God to explain evolution is like evoking God to explain atomic theory.

          • ... but i do think you're almost falling into an "atheist of the gaps" mentality in the sense of proposing that science will have all the answers on how things came about ...

            I did not make that statement (Scientism). If you think I did, please show me where.

          • cowalker

            ". . . but i do think you're almost falling into an "atheist of the gaps" mentality in the sense of proposing that science will have all the answers on how things came about therefore we don't need God."
            I understand what you're saying here, but it is important to remember that one could prove neither proposition--1) that science will never have all the answers, or that 2) there is no God. Of course we will never disprove God's existence, since the concept of God can be defined in a way to make that logically impossible. And no matter how many thousands of years scientists devote to unsuccessfully trying to explain everything, there is always the chance that all will be known in another hundred years.
            Would it be such a horrible thing to say, "There might be a being that set things in motion. Let's continue to examine the evidence and form theories about how the universe works and test them rather than building on an untestable assumption."

          • Would it really be that bad if God existed? Can't one just enjoy and observe the universe and world without seeing as a tool to disprove the existence of God?

            The assumption here seems to be that atheists don't want God to exist. I suppose that may be true of some atheists. It is a human tendency sometimes to want the positions we take to turn out to be right even if it would be better if they didn't. People say, "I hope I'm wrong, but I think such-and-such is going to happen." But it's often difficult to actually want to be wrong, even if we're predicting some kind of disaster. But I presume many atheists are former theists who were brought up to believe in God and concluded, often reluctantly and sadly, that they were misled. I wouldn't describe myself as an atheist, but as someone who was raised Catholic, I do feel somewhat betrayed by what I was taught in Catholic school. If it wasn't downright false, it was at minimum vastly oversimplified.

            In any case, I think an atheist approaches human origins and evolutions exactly the same way a professional, on-the-job scientist does, not anticipating any point when science reaches a dead end and scientists have to throw up their hands and say, "We can't figure out any more. We have to attribute the rest to God." It would be fatal to scientific endeavors if every time a scientist ran into a roadblock, he or she said, "This is it. This is the point past which science can't go. No use in doing any more research. Time to hand the whole thing over to religious people." On-the-job scientists simply can't think that way, and it seems to me that this is very much the way an atheist would think, as well.

          • Michael Murray

            Nice post David.

          • articulett

            It's not that science can disprove gods any more than it can disprove invisible penguins-- it's that there is no reason to believe that it's good to believe in a god that wants us to believe in him --or else! We don't have to pretend that the story of a 3-in-1 god who became his own son to save those who believe this story from the hell he created is a good story-- a "higher truth".

            God belief becomes necessary if you believe in demons, curses, Satan, hell, and so forth... religion creates this magical invisible evil things... and then give you their god as a solution. Sure magical beliefs can be comforting or useful-- but they aren't true and many of us of us think it's time for humanity to move beyond its myths and superstition.

            Why should any real gods want to manipulate people into faith when they could use their omnipotence to be clear? If they existed, of course.

          • articulett

            When science doesn't have an answer, is there really any reason to think some guru, myth, holy book, self-proclaimed prophet, or priest does? Has this ever been the case through out history? What I see happening is that humans invent gods and supernatural beings to explain that which they don't understand (Zeus and lightening) and then those interested in the truth find a much better natural explanation through evidence.

          • severalspeciesof

            All this reminds me of this:

          • articulett

            linky?

          • severalspeciesof

            I just Googled "then a miracle occurs" because I had remembered that phrase in this cartoon I saw a while back. I just dragged the image then to the comment box...

          • Google, greatest meme propagator since Gutenberg.

          • severalspeciesof

            And to think that it was Gutenberg that allowed Tyndale to have thousands of bibles translated, then a BIG no no because of fears that his version was too 'Protestant', you know, somehow giving wrong ideas to the people, for which he was killed (hanged I believe) and burned... So does Google allow information to get out to the people, but fortunately hanging isn't in vogue ATM...

          • I like to think it would be a bit harder for Joseph Smith to start a cult, today, when a quick web search would have brought up his court history. However, anyone can Google "Scientology" yet they still get people.

            Promises of magic seem to have a way to get our brains to want them to be true, so much, that we will actively prevent ourselves from looking too closely.

          • severalspeciesof

            There's one born every minute... that can include myself...

          • primenumbers

            Just like there are so many scams out there (like Nigerian letters) that you've got to think that everyone knows about, but people still fall for them. It's because these things work on emotions - greed, fear, compassion etc. and people just don't engage in good epistemology to know if they're going to get scammed or not. People will then let their confirmation bias lead them into being scammed.

            I brought this up in the Naysayer thread because it's wrong to think that even practically perfect disconfirming evidence would have stopped Christianity in it's tracks when practically perfect disconfirming evidence didn't stop Mormonism, and the internet+google hasn't stopped Scientology. That being the case, the problem again comes back to people's cognitive biases, poor epistemology (faith) not evidence.

          • Good point.

          • A meme having both strong pattern integrity and fecundity. :-)

          • AshleyWB

            You're not representing atheists very accurately, Sean. It's not about disproving, it's about lack of evidence. We don't see the universe as a "tool to disprove" gods. We do enjoy and observe it, though, without reference to a god.

            "Would it really be that bad if God existed?"

            That depends entirely on the characteristics of the god. A chill god who punishes people who hurt others and is pretty cool with the rest of it? Pending details I have no particular objection, though I would want to ball punch it for confusing the hell out of everyone.

            A god that is the author of all human behavior, which it then tells us to suppress or celebrate in arbitrary ways for arbitrary reasons and condemns people to eternal agony and torment because they weren't in some particular state the moment they died? That would be terrible, and even the people rewarded with paradise under such a system should be horrified.

            I'm not saying you believe anything like that, BTW.

          • Michael Murray

            Can't one just enjoy and observe the universe and world without seeing everything as an excuse to justify some gods existence ?

          • Michael Murray

            Would it really be such a horrible thing if there was a God who created you, loved you, wanted to be a part of your life and wanted your company forever?

            Would it really be such a horrible thing if there really were wizards alive in the world today and Harry Potter was a real story. Why are you so opposed to this? Why don't you just believe !!

          • severalspeciesof

            He must be an aPotterist... ;-)

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Quine,

          I had promised to respond to your earlier post about the article you posted as well as the one you referred to; http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Cosmo/FineTune.pdf But i can't find the original post where you cited the article so i just figured i would repost the website. Also, thanks so much for the insightful article on fine tuning and various implications of what fine tuning may mean. I was looking for an article previously that would suggest the universe was not fine-tuned so I felt yours as well as
          stinger’s attempt to contest the argument was very helpful. Now, while the universe may nor may not be fine-tuned, and the various implications involved in such an assertion I feel it would be irrelevant to discuss what those implications may mean if the physical observations didn’t indicate a
          fine-tuned universe? Or in other words, discussing whether terms like “fine-tuned” are appropriately characterized if
          the physics don’t’ support what fine-tuned may imply? So I would like to focus on Stingers article and review a few of his assessments of the fine-tuning argument. I realize you don’t like to use the term “fine-tuned” and I respect your opinion, but I would rather just use it in this address since we both know what it implies. If you like we can discuss whether “fine-tuned” is the appropriate term
          at another time.

          1. On page 3 Stenger first faces an observation in dealing with what Weyl discovered about the relationship between the gravitational and electromagnetic force of electrons. He observes that the electromagnetic force is greater by 39 orders of magnitude and marveled at how pure the numbers are. Eggington further goes on to estimate the number of particles in the world as the Eggington number of N= 10 to the 79 power. He then observes N is not too far from the square of N- 1. Now, Stenger then says that if one looks at enough numbers that you are bound to find some that appear connected and that most physicists do not regard this seriously. But the point of the observation is what Weyl and Eggington discovered? Stenger attempts to reduce an amazing coincidental number by saying “most physicists recognize there are going to be some coincidences” but reduces the implications of what that number may mean? The coincidental number perhaps is an indication of fine-tuning and shouldn’t just be reduced to a mere chance that most physicists gloss over. This is one number that appears to be quite coincidental? Moreover what Weyl discovered was a disparity that was rather pin point precision in the sense that the variables are so far apart. A balance in gravitational force with magnetic force of 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 would be rather an easy odds number to reach. But what he discovered was a much greater disparity which would require much more precision. 1 to 2 has an odds ratio of 50% one to a million has an odds ratio of that needs to be precision tuned in order for atoms to work the way they do that would translate into planets, stars life, etc. Stenger seems to gloss over those variables quite easily but they are one variable that one cannot simply allow to be swept under the rug.

          2. On Page 10 Stenger reviews how some of the theists interpret that data that reveals some of the coincidences and physical properties that appear to be fine-tuned
          for life on our planet. Those properties first allow for stars and planets, then they also allow for biological life. he seems to concede that there is a unique structure, or delicate balance that allows life to form but then correctly acknowledges there is a possibility of other forms of life that
          aren’t carbon based. It’s important to first note that Stenger doesn’t even attempt to address how delicate all of the
          physical properties are for planets and stars that would support potential life, and then for life to be on our planet, he again just glosses over it. But then he goes on to create a hypothetical situation of how life could have formed in other ways but does not have any scientific data to support his theory? One might imagine he’s moving off the topic once again into science fiction by creating a “potential life” situation to avoid the obvious implications of how fine-tuned everything in our world, universe and solar system truly
          is? If one ponders what stenger’s saying it’s obvious what he’s not saying. He’s NOT saying our universe and world isn’t precision tuned for carbon based life, what he is doing is delving into science fiction to avoid the implications of
          our own universe, and world that afforded life. In “has Science Buried God” by John Lennox, Lennox quotes Astrophysicist Huge Ross, “he lists many such parameters that have to be fine-tuned for life to be possible., and makes a rough but conservative calculation that the chance
          of one such planet existing in the universe is about 1 in 10 to the 30th power.” Thus hypothesizing that it is
          possible for other life forms that aren’t carbon based in our universe seem to simply be a bit of a distraction for how perfect our world and universe is.

          3. On Page 13 Stenger hypothesizes that perhaps the universe isn’t so fine-tuned. He uses an example of the variables involved with electromagnetic and nuclear interactions. As well as the masses of the electron and proton. Naturally, the constants of those four variables appear to be fine-tuned for stars, planets and life on our
          planet. Stenger attempts to convey that it isn’t so fine tuned in that he hypothesizes that “if we take the electron and proton masses to be equal to their values in our universe, an electromagnetic force strength having any value greater than its value in our universe will give a stellar lifetime of more than 680 million years. The strong interaction strength does not enter into this calculation. If we had an electron mass 1000,000 times lower, the proton mass could be as much as 1,000 times lower to achieve the same minimum stellar lifetime. This is hardly fine tuning.” The
          first obvious indication of what he’s saying is that first the electron mass of 100,000 times as it equates to the mass of a proton being 1,000 is still a rather tight variable. 100 to 1 or one percent chance the proton would be within the correct mass size. Now, while 1% may not be “fine-tuning” it’s still a bit of a long shot. Nevertheless, I think there are other problems in his assessment. Earlier he said it would take billions of years for large stars to become supernova’s that would eventually burn out to form the materials that would form other stars and planets. 680 million years as compared to billions may only be a fraction of what time is truly needed for smaller stars and planets to form. Moreover the changes in mass of protons and neutrons would drastically effect how smaller stars, and planets
          could form? It’s one thing to posit you may modify some variables to have another potential star, but it’s something
          entirely different when you equate how those differences would effect the possibility of smaller stars, planets and the gravitational pull of those stars planets which would then effect the possibility of life? if he could hypothesize how other stars could form, would those stars be large enough and live long enough to create the necessary elements for life? would they be able to form other atoms necessary from the periodic table to have the possibility for carbon based life or life of other elements? It would seem that the mass of electrons, and protons would need to be a specific weight in order to fill the periodic table as well as effect the physics necessary for planets and the possibility of life?

          4. On Page 14 Stenger refers back to the gravitational and electromagnetic force of electrons. He refers back to what Weyl and Eggington discovered and tells us that that coincidence that those forces are close to equal is “not very rare” but he does not tell us why they are not very
          rare? He makes an assumption and then builds upon it. but if we don’t know why they are not very rare than the rest of his assumptions may not hold much weight? Further, he goes on to tell us, “I cannot prove that some other form of life is feasible with a different set of constants. But anyone who insists that our form of life is the only one conceivable is making a claim based on no evidence and no theory.” Now, within his hypothesis he’s simply saying if some of the variables of mass weight of protons and neutrons or perhaps the gravitational and electromagnetic force
          electrons were a little different we’re back to the theory of certain stars and thus other matter could still form? He
          then makes an incorrect leap. He says that he acknowledge that if those variables were a little different than he
          recognizes life on our planet would not be able to survive but life in other situations may be able to exist. But
          again, if we do modify some of those variables we automatically have an incomplete periodic table. If some of
          the atoms were not able to form that would almost eliminate any chance of life on any other planet being able to form.
          Not to mention how that may affect gravity and the effects of certain atoms or even how those elements may react to a different physics model. I think Stenger needs to show that modifying other variables mentioned above would not only show stars could form, but also planets as well, along with how those elements would react with those planets. And finally, perhaps most importantly he needs to show how modifying those variables could still create an almost compatible periodic table? In other words, half the periodic table would almost guarantee that no life of any form could exist. I would imagine his last sentence could in fact be reversed; his claim is “based on no evidence and no theory.”

          5. On page 17 Senger reflects on the Cosmological constant problem and how physicists have observed the necessary energy of dark energy. He further points out that physicists have purposed a theoretical model in which “dark energy is not identified with the energy of curved space-time but rather a dynamical, material energy field called a quintessence.” In this model the cosmological constant is exactly 0. Thus in this model dark energy is more fluid if I understand him correctly. Now, to be honest I might need your expertise on this. But it would seem to be that if one is creating a hypothesis to do away with one of
          the observable phenomenon’s within our universe than the only way one can authentically use the hypothesis to address physical aspects of our universe is if it works? If the model can be used to address certain questions of physics within our universe just as the present theories work than I think he has a good point? But can it? Furthermore if it can than they need to explain what affects the “dynamical material energy field”. My guess if the model worked, then they would have to come up with a potential theory to explain how the dynamical material energy works which might just lead back to the original question? If dark energy is dynamic, the way it changes or modifies somehow would appear to be fine-tuned? It seems to create a model that only pushes the “fine tuned” fluctuation of dark energy back one step. The question would still need to be answered, and I suspect as I’m sure you do we would discover that whatever effected dynamic dark energy did so in a way that it appears fine-tuned?

          I have several more critiques of Stenger’s article but don’t
          want to take up all your time trying to address them at one time. I would just like to say that I’m sure you’ve heard Bill O’Reiley use the phrase, “the spin stops here”. Now, while I don’t want to appeal to conservative or liberal ideology I do think his phrase conveys something in society and in discussing issues. If the media, conservative or liberal doesn’t like the way a certain event occurred, or rather doesn’t like the way that event will reflect in the public eye than they spin the truth. The intention, naturally is that one is attempting change the way people evaluate truth or current events such that they will vote or think in a certain way that my benefit their ideology, or for some apparent “greater good”. But it’s still an attempt to keep people from
          the truth. I was interested in reading a refutation on the fine tuning and I was glad I was able to read stengers. Not to be critical but I feel if this is the best he can do, with creating certain potential theories that can’t be tested, or modifying variables to address partial truths than I think Stenger has done us a wonderful service. in being unable to address some of the Fine-tuning arguments in a concrete way he has only conveyed how authentic the fine tuning of the universe truly is.

          If you find time to address my critiques I have a few more
          but don’t want to inundate you. Thanks for your time Quine! By the way, I really do enjoy reading and learning about
          physics and our universe.

          • Hi Sean, I am working on this and will get back to you. I see you put a lot into it, and I hope you got a lot out of the effort re new understanding.

          • Fr.Sean

            hi Quin,
            i do find it fascinating regardless of what the science reveals. by the way, if fine-tuning turns out to be false would there still be a need for the multiverse theory?

  • primenumbers

    "Can’t We All Just Get Along?" - appeasement has a nasty habit of not actually working. In this case we have the testable scientific theory of evolution which continues to show strong success, and ID which isn't even a testable theory, and creationism for which our archeological record proves false. Theistic evolution cannot be said to be testable to distinguish it from normal evolution. All four "theories" are therefore not even in the same class.

    As for respect - we can respect people's rights to have opinions and beliefs even when those beliefs are demonstrably wrong. We cannot respect the beliefs themselves, especially when those beliefs derive from knowingly poor epistemology.

    • Christian Stillings

      Theistic evolution cannot be said to be testable to distinguish it from normal evolution.

      Sure. The reason I personally hold this kind of view relies on different factors theologically and scientifically. I accept evolutionary theory because of scientific evidence. I believe that God had some investment in the process for entirely different reasons. I'm not sure how the "class" or "testability" of a theory is relevant here- if it has the capacity to be true, it may be believed. I'm just not sure of what your point was with this.

      • primenumbers

        So theistic evolution is not a theory in the sense that evolution is a theory then? It is therefore a rationalization to deal with the dissonance of what science has discovered and bronze age religious texts being in direct contradiction.

        • Christian Stillings

          I think the term "theory" is being used in different senses here. A scientific theory is evaluated according to its fidelity to the mutually observable, factual data. The theological proposition that "the necessary parts of a Catholic theology of origins are compatible with evolutionary theory" is a thing of a different kind. I'm not saying that the "theistic evolution" hypothesis can be tested in the same way as the evolutionary theory can. I'm simply saying that it works and is perfectly compatible with both the requirements of Catholic theology and the evidence of evolutionary theory.

          You're unfoundedly proposing a "direct contradiction" which hasn't been demonstrated. I don't think my "bronze age religious texts" require dissonance with demonstrable scientific theories. I'm not sure what you were trying to get at with your second sentence.

          • primenumbers

            Plenty of Christians do find dissonance between the Bible stories and evolution (hence the mention of creationism above). Catholics have (officially at least) rationalized that dissonance, but that doesn't mean that the contradiction isn't there, but that there is an ad-hoc theory that has been put in place to "explain" it away.

            If we cannot determine the difference (through observation or experiment etc.) between evolution and theistic evolution, what then is the point of theistic evolution as any prediction made by evolution would therefore be also be made by the theistic evolutionary theory. To me, it seem the only point is the rationalization I mention above.

          • Christian Stillings

            "Rationalizing a dissonance" implies that a dissonance exists. I'm denying your premise. Plenty of Christians may find dissonance with evolutionary theory, but official Catholic teaching doesn't require it, nor has it ever required it. It's simply unfair to hold me accountable to standards of, say, Baptist theology and then say "you should be feeling more dissonance right now!" Until you can demonstrate why I should feel dissonance or see contradiction, all your statements about "rationalizing dissonances" and "contradictions" and "ad-hoc theories" are doing nothing.

            Theistic evolution isn't meant to make specific predictions of its own, and I'm not sure where you're getting that idea from. In fact as far as I'm aware, Christian theology doesn't make any specific predictions about things that will happen in precise points in the future. Catholic/Orthodox(/some Anglican/some Lutheran) sacraments would be an exception, but the accessibility-to-the-senses issue sort of makes testing of any kind moot.

          • primenumbers

            I understand that you are not feeling dissonance as the rationalizing explanations and official Catholic position have either dissolved the dissonance, or it was never even there for you in the first place. That doesn't mean that there isn't a contradiction though, and I'm saying that the theistic evolution rationalization is in response to that contradiction. It's hard to see TE being proposed without either evolution or the general theistic reaction to evolution occurring.

            If TE makes no predictions on it's own, then what is it's point? I'm suggesting the point is one of rationalizing a contradiction to reduce or eliminate dissonance.

          • Christian Stillings

            That doesn't mean that there isn't a contradiction[,] though...

            Doesn't it, though? There may be a contradiction between a particular doctrine and a finding of science, but if Catholics have never been bound to that doctrine, there hasn't ever been a contradiction. To continue talking about the existence of a contradiction is then silly.

            It's hard to see TE being proposed without either evolution or the general theistic reaction to evolution occurring.

            I agree that modern TE wouldn't have made sense prior to "The Origin of Species", because it would've proposed science unknown to us (though Aquinas may have had a most-of-a-millenium head start).

            In the same way that evolutionary theory is a fitting-together of lots of data from natural history, TE is a fitting together of data from natural history and theology. It need not make specific theological predictions in order to thus serve as a theory.

          • primenumbers

            If there's no contradiction, why the need for theistic evolution theory then?

            TE does indeed add theology to science, but it doesn't advance things because TE makes no predictions beyond E. In that case, we go back to my question as why the need for TE at all?

          • articulett

            I think it's a way to still think of oneself as a Christian or believer AND accept evolution. It's evolution PLUS certain supernatural elements tossed in. It may have to do with Pascal's wager.

            I don't believe in supernatural agents, so I don't try to work them into my understanding of evolution-- but supernaturalists need to weave their supernatural beliefs in with the science in order to feel like their faith is rational.

          • primenumbers

            I think that's pretty much what I'm saying. I'm just not getting that if theistic evolution adds no predictions beyond evolution, then it's only purpose is to bolster belief, not to bolster evolution.

          • severalspeciesof

            I use to think it odd that evolution has been 'tainted' with theism to 'help' explain it, yet the theory of gravity is not 'tainted' (as others have pointed out). But then I asked the question, "What is different, fundamentally different between evolution and gravity besides the obvious?" One answer is that evolution 'talks' about us in a way that gravity can't. Gravity isn't personal like evolution can be. Theists (many, if not all) seem to want an idea of us as being special, not just different from other animals...

            Though I do take gravity personally when I hit the ground in a fall... ;-)

          • Sounds like you need an aura adjustment. ;-)

          • articulett

            Or maybe a good Scientology clearing!

          • articulett

            It's not a scientific theory, as a scientific theory is, not only the best explanation for a broad body of evidence, but it also allows us to predict new evidence (see atomism, cell theory, gravitation, germ theory, heliocentrism). From a naturalistic perspective you are just glomming supernatural beliefs onto naturalism... just like those with conflicting supernatural beliefs could do. Occams razor negates unnecessary explanations such as supernatural explanations as they do not have explanatory power-- they raise more conundrums than they explain.

          • ... and is perfectly compatible ...

            How can you keep the word "perfectly" in there in the face of the A&E problem?

          • Christian Stillings

            I don't find the A&E problem to really be much of a problem; nor does Mike Flynn: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

          • Christian Stillings

            Done, and responded.

  • staircaseghost

    Did the author of this piece know what a "cdesign proponentsist" was before writing? Yes or no.

    "Yes" would mean he was being dishonest, so I really, really really hope the answer was "no" and he "merely" does not know what he's talking about.

    When can I expect the article to be emended to take this into account?

  • Rationalist1

    Is it fair to ask if Catholics want it both ways? Evolution has to be accepted as it has overwhelming evidence yet beyond God subtly directly evolution (so subtly that it's indistinguishable from naturalistic evolution) they also have to somehow fit in an Adam and Eve. Can't the Adam and Even story be treated allegorically? Souls, which are undetectable physically, you can just have God inserting into all pre-humans at one point (I guess) but do you really still hold to Adam and Eve if not in the Garden of Eden but as two real actual persons?

    • David Egan

      Adam and Eve have to exist and "the fall" had to have happened or else what's the point of Jesus? The church has a problem in that the foundation of their religion is two stories which are impossible and didn't happen - Adam and Eve and the resurrection of Jesus.

      • Rationalist1

        Then you're in real trouble as there was no couple Adam and Eve that were the progenitors of everyone alive today.

        • David Egan

          I'm not in trouble at all. In fact, I'm delighted by this problem as it exposes a huge flaw in Christianity and, hopefully, enough people will recognize it and leave religion behind. I'm one who would strongly prefer that religion not exist at all so anything that moves the ball closer to that goal is a very good thing in my mind.

          • Rationalist1

            Sorry. I misinterpreted your post. I agree it's a huge problem for Christians. Don't know how they can solve it.

          • Susan

            >Don't know how they can solve it.

            Like they always solve it. With word salad and by making things up that "science can say nothing about".

            They're never very clear on why it can't, except that they call the things they're making up "immaterial" and inexplicably think that explains everything.

          • Rationalist1

            I like that expression "word salad" It's now part of my lexicon.

          • I like that expression "word salad" It's now part of my lexicon.

            It is easier to type than "unsubstantiated epistemology" or several other debating sins that it also covers.

          • Susan

            I've heard it used for a long time now. .

            And yes, Q. Quine. It's less wear and tear on the keyboard.

          • David Egan

            Their saving grace is that they are convinced there is virtue in faith. So, they can plug in any solution necessary, claim it exists outside of time and space, have faith it exists, and problem solved. Once a believer begins to question this overwhelming need for faith, it's just a matter of time until he's done with religion.

          • Rationalist1

            With me it was reading Daniel C Dennett's Breaking the Spell that pushed me over the edge. I had "faith in faith", not in the substance of my faith at the time. To Prof. Dennet I won't be eternally grateful, but I will be for the rest of my life.

          • stanz2reason

            ...I won't be eternally grateful, but I will be for the rest of my life.

            Never heard that before, but that is a most excellent sentiment. I plan on stealing that for future use. :)

          • Here is a short video in which Dennett explains "belief in belief"

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrW24dsoCaw

          • Susan

            >Their saving grace is that they are convinced there is virtue in faith.

            Yes. It's a strange thing to equate faith with goodness.

            Not only does it confuse me that they believe this stuff, but I'm more confused that they WANT to believe in it so badly.

            Faith in faith is the best explanation so far.

            But I'm here to learn. Maybe there's a better one.

          • articulett

            Though many won't admit it, I think they fear that there could be a hell for lack of faith (Pascal's wager) and they hope there might be "salvation" for those who have faith-- they've been told it's what their god (who died for them) wants most of all.

            This keeps them from thinking too deeply on the subject.

            The most virulent religions all have some version of these memes. It reminds me of a chain letter where you are promised great rewards for sharing the "good news" and told that bad luck comes to those who break the chain. Only with religion-- the stakes are ETERNITY!

          • This keeps them from thinking too deeply on the subject.

            It is misguided, it seems to me, to assume that atheists are somehow heroic because they allow themselves to see the real truth, while theists are cowards who cling to religion out of fear. Both theists and atheists may hold their positions because they actually believe them, and both may also have "ulterior motives" for adopting their positions. Some atheists, for example, might convince themselves there is no God because they are disturbed by the possibility that hell may be real, and it frightens them so much that they disbelieve everything they were taught about religion. Or some atheists raised in religious families might find the practice or religious too burdensome and reject it more for that reason than because they don't believe in it. Almost all of us are perfectly capable of fooling ourselves about what we believe and why. Nonreligious people who believe themselves to be superior in some way to religious people are just as suspect in my book as religious people who believe themselves to be superior to nonreligious people.

          • articulett

            I don't think atheists are heroic... any more than I think not believing in demons is heroic, but religions do cause people to have a vested interest in maintaining faith-- rather than exploring rather they might be as wrong as they think believers in myths past were. Atheists who were indoctrinated (whether Muslim Christian) have to overcome this fear that they might go to hell for non-belief as well as giving up the security blanket of faith-- and many have to deal with shunning and other sorts of mistreatment from faith-promoting people.

            I know religionists think their faith is true-- otherwise they wouldn't believe it. But clearly most are wrong if ANY are true... so each religionist is arrogantly assuming they've found a method to determine the real immaterial beings from the fake ones-- even though scientists cannot even establish that ANY such beings exist. Catholics are assuming that they can't be wrong like the Mormons or Muslims or believers in myths past or the reincarnationists or all the other people who believe in different gods or supernatural things that conflict with their faith.

            I couldn't believe-- even though I tried... a 3-in-1 god made no sense at all-- neither did the crucifixion story (it's creepy). So what ulterior motive do I have for non-belief? What ulterior motive would anyone have that was interested in the truth? Why do you imagine so many scientists-- like Stephen Hawking-- don't believe? Don't you think that if there was ANY evidence for souls-- that scientists would be doing all sorts of experiments to learn more? And the same goes for all other purported immaterial beings-- or purported disembodied forms of consciousness (gods, demons, Thetans, immaterial aliens, sprites, Saints, angels, gremlins, devils, succubi, etc.) When can we say that these are all mythological beings created in the minds of humans?

          • ... and many have to deal with shunning and other sorts of mistreatment from faith-promoting people.

            Can still get you killed.

        • Then you're in real trouble as there was no couple Adam and Eve that were the progenitors of everyone alive today.

          Makes me wonder how many millions of Catholics and other Christians are also in real trouble, but just don't know about it? What if that realization become widespread?

          • Rationalist1

            Jerry Coyne talks about this.

            http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/adam-and-eve-the-ultimate-standoff-between-science-and-faith-and-a-contest/

            and poses the question "What is the best way to reconcile the Biblical story of Adam and Eve with the genetic facts?"

          • articulett

            The way most theistic evolutionists do it is by not thinking about it very deeply-- at least that's what I did as a Catholic girl. They maintain a purposeful ignorance about the genetics that they fear might threaten their salvation. They just chalk it up to mystery beyond human understanding lest they "bite from the tree of knowledge" by mistake.

          • Christian Stillings
          • Susan

            >Makes me wonder how many millions of Catholics and other Christians are also in real trouble, but just don't know about it? What if that realization become widespread
            In my experience (anecdotal, I know) they never bothered to mention that Adam and Eve weren't real. They didn't deal with it at all until someone brought it up to them.
            You'd think they'd make it clear off the bat when talking to the laity that Adam and Eve did not exist in any literal sense.
            I have a feeling that I'm not the only one who encountered this in my catholic upbringing. I've seen too many comments from catholics here that seem to indicate that they think of Adam and Eve as a real couple, from whom we have all descended.

          • articulett

            I was raised Catholic and I got the idea from my parents that Adam and Eve and Noah's Ark were metaphorical-- they were vague... sort of like when I was figuring out Santa Claus. (My first hypothesis was that Santa and God were the same beings-- ha!) I had Catholic friends who thought these were real. I grew up to be an atheist; they grew up to be Evangelical Christians.

            It took me until adulthood to understand how devastating a metaphorical Adam and Eve were for Christianity (founded on original sin)... and it was those fundies who were afraid of evolution who made me realize the conundrum. Before that, I was only aware that there was some sort of conflict but I never really thought that deeply about it. Now it's obvious-- if Adam and Eve were a metaphor, what did Jesus die for? How do we know that Jesus isn't a metaphor too?

          • Christian Stillings

            It's not an impossibility. May I recommend Mike Flynn's harmonization? I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

          • Flynn says:

            Darwin tells us that at some point an ape that was not quite a man gave birth to a man that was no longer quite an ape. He was H. sapiens - or at least he likes to call himself that. He had the capacity for rational thought; that is, to reflect on sensory perceptions and abstract universal concepts. He could not only perceive this bison and that bison, but could conceive of "bison" -- an abstraction with no material existence of its own. Poetically, we might say that a God "breathed" a rational soul into a being that had previously been little more than "red clay."

            Here we have, again, the idea that there had to be a "first man" according to the theory of evolution. It is simply not the case that one day, homo sapiens came into being. And suppose something like this happened. How would a creature without the capacity for abstract thought raise offspring with the capacity for abstract thought in such a way that the capacity for abstract thought would be utilized?

            How do you conceive of the abstract concept of "bison" if you don't have a word for bison?

            The idea of "sapient" humans interbreeding with non-sapient almost-humans is grotesque. Humans with the capacity for abstract thought mating with almost-humans who do not have the capacity for abstract thought (or language, or any other human characteristic) is like humans mating with gorillas.

            I have seen blog commenters discuss this theory, but I have never seen a mainstream publication (book, journal, magazine) touch it with a ten-foot pole.

          • Indeed.

          • Christian Stillings

            I don't see why reproduction between Flynn's "metaphysical humans" and "biological but non-metaphysical humans" would be necessarily grotesque- they'd be extremely biologically similar/compatible, wouldn't they? Your proffered parallel of "humans mating with gorillas" isn't a good parallel, given the substantial biological differences present between modern humans and modern gorillas.

            How do you conceive of the abstract concept of "bison" if you don't have a word for bison?

            Platonic forms, duh! :-P More seriously, it's difficult for those of us with developed linguistic capacities to imagine holding a concept without an equivalent or near-equivalent term to suit it. However, one interesting example might be human infant cognition- we can probably assume that babies have abstract understandings of their mothers and fathers, even before they have a suitable linguistic association for "mama" or "dada".

            I don't see this as the kind of thing that most "mainstream publications" would normally cover anyways- it's a matter that seems to primarily be of obscure theological interest. For what it's worth, First Things could be convinced to run something, haha.

          • . . . . they'd be extremely biologically similar/compatible, wouldn't they?

            By his theory, there's no reason that an almost-human and an ensouled human would differ in physical appearance at all. But also by his theory, the mental and emotional gap between the two would be greater than the gap between a human being today and, say, chimps. (He believes the soul confers the capacity for abstract thought. I personally think the more intelligent nonhuman animals today have some capacity for abstract thought.) So there might be no physical differences at all, but the almost-human would have the intellectual and emotional capacity of a chimp or a baboon. Imagine being married to a chimp! Imagine your wife is a chimp and you want to raise children with her! Imagine a human woman marrying something that looked like a man but had the intelligence and emotional capacity of a chimp. Imagine having a chimp for a mother. Actually, a creature without the capacity for abstract thought couldn't know the meaning of marriage and consequently couldn't give consent to be married.

          • Michael Murray

            Darwin tells us that at some point an ape that was not quite a man gave birth to a man that was no longer quite an ape.

            This is a misunderstanding. One day an apelike creature gave birth to a child that differed from it a bit as all children do. Some years later that child gave birth to another child that differed from it a bit. Skip forward a million years ...

            There isn't going to be a sudden change from ape like to human like.

          • Christian Stillings

            If we assume a few things, namely:

            1. that sufficiently complex organisms with certain neural organs also experience mental qualia in the same way that we do
            2. that property "1." was true of the earliest homo sapiens and their recent biological ancestors
            3. there is such a thing as "mental comprehension of abstract ideas"
            4. that a highly complex mental capacity, facilitated by highly-developed neural organs, is required to comprehend "abstract ideas"

            I think it logically follows that one organism in the line of development leading to homo sapiens experienced the first mental qualia of "comprehending abstract ideas". At some point, an organism in the particular line of development was the first to have neural organs which were sufficiently complex to facilitate "abstract thought".

            It's late, so my logical process might not be stellar. Let me know if you spot any holes in my reasoning here!

            There isn't going to be a sudden change from ape like to human like.

            Biologically, this is true. However, if my above reasoning regarding mental qualia holds up, there must have been some specific point at which a first organism in the line of development leading to homo sapiens was capable of abstract thought in a way which wasn't possible for prior organisms which were part of that line. I think this is what Flynn was trying to get at.

          • Susan

            >one organism in the line of development leading to homo sapiens experienced the first mental qualia of "comprehending abstract ideas".

            Which specific abstract ideas, why do you think they would show up all at once like that and where is your evidence for it?

            How much have you read about neuroscience and the extent to which it can inform our (mis?)conceptions about "consciousness"?

            >However, if my above reasoning regarding mental qualia holds up,

            That's a big if unless you can imagine how to test it or if it's even worth bothering to test. You've got to address the evidence and base your reasoning on that.

            Check the links on the subject that Q. Quine and Michael Murray provided on your last bout of reasoning.

            Otherwise, you're In danger of just making stuff up.

          • Christian Stillings

            I'm thinking of abstract ideas as a category of qualia experiences, not in terms of specific things or concepts which are being abstracted. I don't have any means of proving that organisms with insufficiently-developed neural faculties don't have qualia experiences of abstract thought; I also don't have any means of proving that my chair doesn't have qualia experiences. The nature of qualia experiences unfortunately makes them impervious to direct observation, which is why we must resort to directly observable phenomenon such as behavior and, with sufficiently sentient beings (like other humans), linguistic communication.

            Testing with regard to qualia experiences is impossible, so we make the best guesses we can based on external factors (such as behavior and communication) which we think relate to qualia experiences. We're able to observe the relationship of our own qualia, behaviors, and neural capacities. With other organisms, we're only able to measure the latter two. If we assume the non-Solipsist perspective (namely, that other qualia exist), we can try to make reasonable inferences about other organisms' qualia experiences based primarily on their behavior. We can then try to make observations about the relationship between neural faculties and behavior.

            I think it's evident that, among the species observed upon our planet, humans have an unparalleled behavioral capacity which very certainly involves "abstract thought". This capacity expresses itself in a stunning variety of ways, from philosophical treatises to mathematical theorems to orchestral symphonies to complex architectural feats. G.K. Chesterton points out in The Everlasting Man that cave paintings, our first record of human accomplishment, indicate a capability of comprehensive mental abstraction which is otherwise observed among species on our planet.

            I think we probably agree that there's a relationship between behavior, mental faculties, and qualia experiences. We can probably also agree that modern humans have very highly-developed neural faculties and unparalleled behaviors among the organisms of the planet. If these are both true, I think it's reasonable to believe that modern humans have some kind of qualia experience which is not shared by other organisms.

            You've got to address the evidence and base your reasoning on that.

            I'm not familiar with much in the way of professional philosophical literature regarding the mind. I'm also not really familiar with any material regarding the psychology of non-human organisms. However, I do think that everything I've said in this comment derives from my best attempt to put together my observations and to reason from them. Susan, you can let me know if you've spotted any major flaws so far. I assure you that I'm not trying to make anything up. :-)

          • Michael Murray

            However, I do think that everything I've said in this comment derives from my best attempt to put together my observations and to reason from them.

            But shouldn't you be addressing all the evidence not just the bits you have personally observed ?

          • Christian Stillings

            How would I know of evidence that I haven't observed? Epistemic methodology prevents us from reasoning based on evidence with which we're unacquainted. The only thing I can think of is for me to have heard about a pertinent body of content and not yet become familiar with it. If you see any part of the comment which you think should be changed/refined according to evidence I'm apparently not familiar with, I'm certainly open to your input.

            Just to use a silly example, I said that humans alone have composed orchestral symphonies. If you were able to give me sufficient evidence that a kangaroo composed an orchestral symphony, I'd have to retract my observation about symphony-composing as a uniquely human accomplishment. Without such evidence, though, I think my assertion stands. Unless you or someone else can provide evidential reason(s) demonstrating the falsity of something in my comment, I don't think that accusing me of "not addressing all the evidence" goes very far. I've made an argument based on observation and reason; the burden is on the dissenter here to provide reason for his or her dissent, and I haven't seen anything yet.

          • Susan

            >How would I know of evidence that I haven't observed? Epistemic methodology prevents us from reasoning based on evidence with which we're unacquainted.

            There's lots of evidence out there, Christian. Scads of it. Go observe it. Start with some of those links, for instance.

          • Christian Stillings

            Out of curiosity, do you think "the evidence" poses any particular challenge to the arguments in my comment? If so, what specific points of mine are in contest? If not, what's the particular intention behind instructing me to "go observe it"?

          • Michael Murray

            How would I know of evidence that I haven't observed?

            By reading the literature which is available on consciousness, qualia, animal minds etc.

          • Susan

            >I'm not familiar with much in the way of professional philosophical literature regarding the mind. I'm also not really familiar with any material regarding the psychology of non-human organisms.

            Then, get familiar.

            This was recommended to you last night and it's a very good place to start. I think you will enjoy it.

            http://www.amazon.ca/Consciousness-A-Very-Short-Introduction/dp/0192805851

            >I assure you that I'm not trying to make anything up.

            I didn't say you were trying to. I said you were in danger of doing it. Try the book or the other links you were provided.
            I honestly think you will find the subject fascinating if you learn more about it. Then, you can say sincerely that you have given it your best attempt.

          • Christian Stillings

            I'll try to get to the literature when I have time for it. In the meantime, are you personally acquainted with any content in "the literature" which you think poses any problem to the content of my comment? If not, does the charge that "I should be more familiar with {x]" pose any particular issue to my arguments? I'm not calling "Courtier's Reply" here- I'm sincerely interested in becoming familiar with pertinent literature. However, if "the literature" doesn't (in our knowledge) pose any issue to my argument, what's the particular intention behind saying I should be more familiar with it?

          • Michael Murray

            In the meantime, are you personally acquainted with any content in "the literature" which you think poses any problem to the content of my comment?

            Well you could start here.

            http://www.amazon.com/Kinds-Minds-Understanding-Consciousness-Science/dp/0465073514

            Combining ideas from philosophy, artificial intelligence, and neurobiology, Daniel Dennett leads the reader on a fascinating journey of inquiry, exploring such intriguing possibilities as: Can any of us really know what is going on in someone else’s mind? What distinguishes the human mind from the minds of animals, especially those capable of complex behavior? If such animals, for instance, were magically given the power of language, would their communities evolve an intelligence as subtly discriminating as ours? Will robots, once they have been endowed with sensory systems like those that provide us with experience, ever exhibit the particular traits long thought to distinguish the human mind, including the ability to think about thinking? Dennett addresses these questions from an evolutionary perspective. Beginning with the macromolecules of DNA and RNA, the author shows how, step-by-step, animal life moved from the simple ability to respond to frequently recurring environmental conditions to much more powerful ways of beating the odds, ways of using patterns of past experience to predict the future in never-before-encountered situations. Whether talking about robots whose video-camera ”eyes” give us the powerful illusion that ”there is somebody in there” or asking us to consider whether spiders are just tiny robots mindlessly spinning their webs of elegant design, Dennett is a master at finding and posing questions sure to stimulate and even disturb.

          • articulett
          • Christian Stillings

            Hey Articulett, I appreciate the link! I'd read about the Cambridge Declaration before, but it was interesting to brush up again.

            I'm not sure what your specific intention was behind posting the link, and you didn't really say. If your intention was to indicate that research has contested a part of my argument in the comment starting with "I'm thinking of abstract...", I don't think you've fulfilled the burden. If I'd said "I don't believe that nonhuman organisms with highly-developed neural faculties have qualia experiences," the research behind the Cambridge Declaration would certainly be a challenge. However, I don't think I said anything of the sort.

            Rather, my cumulative argument thus far is as follows:

            1. We can connect qualia experiences, neural faculties, and behavior in our own cases.
            2. We can inferentially reason about other organisms' qualia states by assessing their behavior and neural faculties. (I think this agrees with the Cambridge Declaration.)
            3. We can observe a qualitative difference between the behavior and neural faculties of humans and the behavior and neural faculties of other seemingly-sentient organisms.
            4. Point "3." suggests that humans experience some kind of qualia experience(s) which are unknown to non-human organisms.
            5. Point "4." suggests that there is a category/are categories of qualia experiences (if they can be categorized) which are experienced only by humans.
            6. If point "5." is true, there must have been some point at which an organism in the line of evolutionary development which has led to homo sapiens, unlike any prior organisms in its species or its ancestor species, first had the kind(s) of qualia experience(s) which is/are unique to humans.
            7. If point "6." is true, and if the category of qualia experiences referenced in point "6." is best referred to as "abstract thought," there was a point at which an organism in the line of evolutionary development which has led to homo sapiens first experienced "abstract thought". Thus, Mike Flynn's argument is (in some capacity) demonstrated to be true.

          • Michael Murray

            I don't see anything in what you are suggesting that shows there is some mental property that is either on or off which is what you need to make your claim. Why can there not be degrees of qualia? As someone who teaches and researches abstract mathematics I can tell you there are definitely degrees of capability in abstract thought even amongst the current homo sapien population.

            If you really want to explore this have a look at research on consciousness amongst other animals besides homo sapiens.

          • Christian Stillings

            Given the nature of qualia experiences as purely individual experiences, it's effectively impossible for multiple parties to critique the same particular qualia experience. Behaviors and neural faculties, on the other hand, can be "objectively" observed by multiple parties.

            I'm suggesting that there's a particular capacity to the qualia experience of "abstract thought" whose can be deduced externally through behavior. For example, most people can be shown a picture of a flower, have the picture removed from their sight, and in some capacity reproduce the picture through a visual artistic medium. This indicates an ability to "hold onto a mental picture" of the flower, to crudely describe the qualia experience. We don't see the behavior of, say, kangaroos, indicating such a qualia experience.

            I don't know how I could be expected to demonstrate that the qualia property of "experiencing abstract thought" is "either on or off". I'd describe my own present qualia experiences as containing "abstract thought". I have no present knowledge of "what it would be like" to not experience "abstract thought", nor do I have any present recollection of any time in my life when I didn't. As I'm without personal experience and have no access to other beings' qualia experiences, the best thing I can go from is inferential reason based on behavior. In my observation, behavior which indicates "abstract thought" is present in some beings and is not present in others.

            In short, I don't have any way of demonstrating that the qualia experience of "having abstract thoughts" is "either on or off" or that there aren't "degrees" of a qualia experience (though I don't think anyone has any idea of how they'd be measured). However, I think that assessing beings' behavior indicates that any individual being either has the capacity to "abstract thought" or it doesn't. Thus, I think that the best evidence available to us supports my assertions, or at least it certainly doesn't prohibit them.

            I'm certainly interested in research on consciousness/behavior/etcetera in non-human organisms. However, for the sake of this particular conversation, is there any content in such research which challenges any part of the arguments I've produced so far in this conversation?

          • Michael Murray

            However, I think that assessing beings' behavior indicates that any individual being either has the capacity to "abstract thought" or it doesn't. Thus, I think that the best evidence available to us supports my assertions, or at least it certainly doesn't prohibit them.

            When you say "assessing" I don't understand what you mean because you also say you don't know much about the area ?
            You haven't read the literature on animal consciousness and abstract thought for example. Or looked at theories of how abtract thought could have evolved progressively.

            I'm certainly interested in research on
            consciousness/behavior/etcetera in non-human organisms. However, for the sake of this particular conversation, is there any content in such research which challenges any part of the arguments I've produced so far in this conversation?

            It's not my area of expertise. But my understanding of what Dennet does in that book "Kinds of Consciousness" (which I posted the Amazon blurb for before) is to give a rationale for how consciousness could have evolved progressively rather than just turned on. So that would seem to be at odds with your suggestion.

          • Christian, how would you know if you actually have qualia, v. just thinking that you do?

          • Christian Stillings

            I'd classify all thinking as qualia. Q., do you believe that you have qualia? If not, do you believe that you think? If you believe that you think, how do you classify thinking if not as qualia?

          • Michael Murray

            Quine's a p-zombie.

          • No, Christian. I am a p-Zombie. I think I have qualia, but I really don't.

      • Rationalist1

        Can't you just employ Aristotelian metaphysics and say the the material cause of all people living may have been the scientific view of evolution but that Adam and Eve represent the formal cause of humanity. Just an idea.

        • clod

          If the soul is immaterial how could it reside in a material body?

          • clod

            Sorry..I'm not specifically asking you R1.

          • Rationalist1

            Beats me.

          • clod

            My God! DISQUS is a dog's breakfast. Why aren't you all dead?

          • My God! DISQUS is a dog's breakfast. Why aren't you all dead?

            Local Javascript helper apps.

          • If the soul is immaterial how could it reside in a material body?

            As an idea.

          • clod

            Ideas change. If the soul is permanent, what about it changes when it goes from a 'pure soul' to a 'fallen soul'?

          • Ideas change. If the soul is permanent, what about it changes when it goes from a 'pure soul' to a 'fallen soul'?

            Being talked into it.

          • clod

            That would imply God could change his mind. That's good!

          • That would imply God could change his mind. That's good!

            Humans have historically changed the minds of their deities, as needed.

      • Christian Stillings

        Mike Flynn offers the best harmonization I've found regarding the first issue: http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2011/09/adam-and-eve-and-ted-and-alice.html

        Regarding the Resurrection:

        ... which are impossible and didn't happen.

        Not to be the redundant believer in these online discussions, but epistemic modesty would befit you here. "The resurrection hypothesis is impossible"- how would you ever go about demonstrating that? Even in the absence of any other such occurrences, the Problem of Induction will get you here. Epistemic modesty would also befit the latter part- you can't know with certainty that it didn't happen. Heck, there are very few things that we can know with certainty to have not happened. A phrase better befitting one's available scope of knowledge would be "there's no good reason to believe it." However, did not happen is a stronger claim than I think you can justify here.

  • This is a refreshing article. We all need to remind ourselves occasionally to understand where exactly people are coming from, and to treat them respectfully even when we totally disagree.

    In that spirit, this civil, thoughtful conversation between Richard Dawkins (atheistic evolution) and Fr. George Coyne (theistic evolution) on this subject is inspiring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=po0ZMfkSNxc

    • Yes, Matthew, I really like that one. :-)

    • Rationalist1

      That is perhaps the epitome of discussions between a believer and an non believer, and two scientists to boot.

    • Dcn Harbey Santiago

      An example to be emulated here at SN.

      "Viva Cristo Rey!!"
      Deacon Harbey Santiago

      • Rationalist1

        I think, that in the most part, it occurs. While not quite as civil or intellectual as the Coyne/Dawkins discussion, it may be that few (none) of us are up to their level.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          One reason I am spending time on this website (in addition to the fact that the subject interests me) is to learn how to express myself more mildly on the internet. This is one of the few sites I can expect to get voted down and that's good for me.

    • Fr.Sean

      I watched the first three. that made a lot of murky water much more clear.

    • Sample1

      treat them respectfully

      Absolutely. But bad ideas, on the other hand, exist to be destroyed!

      I don't know the author of this quote, but if followed, most TOU agreements on discussions sites can be reduced to this: "Attacking people is a feature of barbarism, attacking ideas is a feature of civilization."

      Mike

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I've been watching the full interview. Very interesting in terms of the lack of conflict between science and faith if both are properly understood.

      • Rationalist1

        But then Fr. Coyne was asked to step down because of his evolution viewa ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-401950/Pope-sacks-astronomer-evolution-debate.html )

        • But Fr. Coyne himself says it is not true that he was replaced because of his views on evolution. Coyne made a statement

          explaining that he had for several years been requesting a replacement as head of the observatory.

          "For some years I have, upon realizing that a scientific research institute such as ours requires a continuous input of new initiatives, suggested to Jesuit superiors that they search for a new director of this work," Father Coyne wrote. "In May of this year upon my repeated request, they finally agreed to begin a search for a new director, resulting, rather rapidly to my delight, in the appointment of Jose Funes.

          Of course, it is doubtful that Fr. Coyne would say, "Yes, the pope disagreed with me, and he fired me!" But I think we at least have to suspend judgment, if not take Fr. Coyne's statement at face value.

          • Rationalist1

            Agreed.

  • Rationalist1

    The Friend;y Atheist has a column today on this very same topic ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/10/how-i-lost-my-christian-faith-while-writing-a-book-on-evolution/ ), It's a guest post by Ed Suominen, the co-author of Evolving out of Eden: Christian Responses to Evolution (Tellectual Press, March 2013)

    • articulett

      Good article.

      • Very good. I just bought the book.

  • clod

    I'm puzzled: how can an immaterial soul have 'reason'? It must be the wrong word. What would be the mechanism whereby something immaterial processed data? If it could, what would it's conclusions imply?

    • Rationalist1

      Why do you ask? Surely whatever it's conclusions imply are immaterial? :->

    • severalspeciesof

      Isn't it immaterial, whether or not souls exist, to the essence of this article? ;-)

      • clod

        Probably. But someone used the phrase 'rational soul' in the thread already and I'm trying to understand what that means.

        • Michael Murray

          Dude it all started in this little club in Luisiana called "The Rational".

  • Sample1

    Isn't the difference obvious? Evolution is a fact, creationism and ID are not facts.

    Mike

  • articulett

    Ken Miller is a Catholic theistic evolutionist.. He does not insert any supernaturalism into his explanaton of life origins. I don't know how he reconciles his faith with the facts, but he is bothered when fundamentalists call him an atheist.

    Michael Behe is an intelligent design proponent... or "cdesign propenentsist" (for those in the know)-- He's Catholic and accepts evolution (though his supporters don't seem to realize thlis)-- he thinks god poked his finger in every once in a while and poofed things into existence (like the flagella and other stuff that he thinks science doesn't explan sufficiently. He was found to be dishonest in the Dover Trial and Intelligent Design was found to be creationism repackaged to sound sciencey.

    There's also young earth creationists like Rick Delano-- they count up teh begats in the bible and conclude the earth is 6000 - 10,000 years old.. I think most believe in Noah's Ark and the idea that god just poofed creatures into existence as as they are today or maybe they evolved really fast after the supposed flood.. Some think there were dinosaurs on Noah's ark, that dinosaurs might still be alive (they are-- as birds), and that humans lived with dinosaurs (they'd be right if they understood that birds are what one branch of dinosaurs became.). They, of course, are the most scientificaly ignorant-- but this allows them to keep themselves from questioning anything that goes against their faith-- particularly genesis.

    • At least Francis Collins is telling his follow Evangelicals that rejecting the Theory of Evolution is not going to get anywhere. I read his book, and it was very good on the science. Half way through it shifts to theology, and at that point, stops making sense, to me.

      • articulett

        Yeah... a waterfall frozen in 3 streams...

        and the tragedy of his daughters rape suddenly made sense to him...

        • Indeed, I was reading along, and everything was fine, and then ... boom.

        • Max Driffill

          Please tell me that last bit was a joke...ugh.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    None of the four views Akin identifies is scientific. Each is philosophical or religious.

    Both theistic and atheistic evolutionism (obviously) embrace evolution, but neither one is a consequence of modern science. Empirical science cannot say anything about God.

    • Michael Murray

      Empirical science cannot say anything about God.

      That's just not true. Empirical science cannot prove there are no gods. It cannot prove anything. But it can provide evidence for or against gods existence. There isn't any. The universe looks exactly like you would expect it to look if there where no gods. Purposeless and full of suffering. Empirical science can tell you if prayer works -- it doesn't. Empirical science can test your miracles -- they aren't miraculous.

      • Sample1

        Reminds me of something, what you just wrote about science not being in the business of proving anything.

        I know someone who recently had a paternity test done. It said that he was the father to an accuracy of 99.99%. He is not disputing the evidence.

        If he behaved as some people of faith do, he would live in that 0.01% and claim it to be reality. This is exactly what people must accept if they are going to trot out the claim that science can't prove anything as some sort of defense in order to live in a gap that they wouldn't accept in any other realm of their existence.

        Mike

        • Kevin Aldrich

          His identical twin brother could be the father.

          Other than that, you are philosophizing while claiming to be scientific.

          • severalspeciesof

            Where is Sample1 philosophizing? I don't see it...

          • Sample1

            I think it was my analogy?

          • severalspeciesof

            *Shrugs shoulders*

          • Sample1

            True. If he had one.

            Mike

      • articulett

        Science can also point out that there is no more scientific evidence for gods than there are for gremlins. In fact, there is not even a good definitioin of a god... or what it means to exist but have no measurable properties at all.

        • Max Driffill

          I'm put in mind of Sagan and the Dragon in the Garage.

          • articulett

            Exactly-- experts on gods or souls are akin to experts on garage dragons as far as I'm concerned.

      • Marcus

        If the universe just is what it is, then to say the universe is full of suffering is no different than saying the universe is full of, say, Hydrogen, right (and I know the universe isn't technically full of anything, suffering or hydrogen)? Suffering is just part of life, yet for some reason human intellect has evolved in a way that views suffering as something unnatural. If what we call suffering is natural, why did our minds evolve to view it as unnatural? Oh, and be nice. I don't know jack about evolution, geology, theology, logic, etc, but I did graduate Magna Cum Laude in Mechanical Engineering, so I'm a proponent of science while also being a recent Catholic convert.

        • Michael Murray

          I don't view it as unnatural. I view it as something I would rather avoid. I view the fact that it is intrinsic to the universe as a serous problem for the idea the there is a god out there. I'm not the only person to thinks this way.

          Where was I not nice ?

          • Marcus

            Yeah, that is definitely a hard thing to reconcile. I still have to wonder why our human minds evolved in such a way to come up with the concept of suffering. For example, I know animals feel pain and even grief, but not all do. We have ducks in my neighborhood. One day I watched a mother duck with ducklings following. One fell off the curb and couldn't get back up. She stopped and assessed the situation, then just turned and left him! In this instance it would seem that ducks would not consider the loss of a "child" as suffering. It just kind of seemed like a fact of life for a duck. Anyway, I have to wonder why we evolved to view the same thing as suffering while to a duck, it's just the way things go. I imagine it has something to do with us only having one offspring at a time due to our large heads and such and how the gene that caused our ancestors to feel empathy got passed down because the kids of the empathetic parents had a tendency to survive more than the kids of the parents who viewed kids the way ducks do. Still, wouldn't that just mean that suffering isn't really a thing, but just our brains' reaction to some chemicals and stuff we have evolved to release in order to ensure the survival of the species?
            For the record I have no idea if the behavior I observed is normal for ducks, or if I just happened to observe a psychopathic duck. Also, of course, I helped the baby duck and he quickly joined back with his cold-hearted mother :)
            Lastly, I didn't mean to imply you or anyone else weren't nice, but just that I am pretty ignorant on the topic at hand and therefore my posts could be easy targets for mockery.

          • Michael Murray

            Lastly, I didn't mean to imply you or anyone else weren't nice, but just that I am pretty ignorant on the topic at hand and therefore my posts could be easy targets for mockery.

            Sorry my mistake. I read your "be nice" the wrong way. The internet is a pain without the nuance of speech and body language!

            Interesting story about the ducks. I've no idea either if that is normal behaviour. Maybe someone else here can say.

          • Sample1

            After reading your cool observation and recognizing many ways to respond, I think I'll just leave you with this:

            The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. (Einstein)

            Mike

    • Sample1

      Empirical science cannot say anything about God.

      I don't believe this anymore. I used to, it was a great defense to shut me up, but consider:

      Any attribute you assign to your God either has a justifiable back up for the assertion or it doesn't. Those assertions are investigated using the skills of critical thinking. The more attributes you define your God as having, the more you need to justify each claim. The fewer attributes you assign to your God, the less you have to justify, though some faiths assign so few attributes to their deity that such a being has hardly any resemblance to anything other than a concept.

      Mike

      • Kevin Aldrich

        I think you are giving natural science a scope it simply does not have.

        Empirical science is a form of critical thinking. Critical thinking does not belong to science. Critical thinking is above science and depends on it.

        • severalspeciesof

          Science depends on critical thinking, without it science would only be a guessing game...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Sorry, that's what I meant to say. Science depends on critical thinking.

          • severalspeciesof

            Glad that's sorted ;-). It could also be re-said as 'it was critical thinking that helped give birth to science'

          • Sample1

            deleted by author...

            Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I agree.

        • Sample1

          How does your objection change my observation?

          Mike

        • articulett

          If your god is said to effect the physical world then we can ask what we'd expect to see if that god did so and what we'd expect to see if that god is but a figment of your imagination.

          Anything that is posited to be real, is subject to scientific investigation. And real things should be distinguishable from imaginary things (or beings) when subject to the scientific method.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That is what I was getting at: You give natural science a scope it does not have. Truths arrived at by deduction are real but they are not subject to the scientific method.

          • Max Driffill

            What truths has theology arrived at? I'm not being flippant. But I seriously cannot think of a single truth that theology has discovered.

            I can think very critically about what motivates Batman to do what he does. I can come up with (and have!) a great deal of insightful stuff to say about the psychology of Bruce Wayne, I can have long, very critical discussions about whether or not Bruce Wayne's one rule (that he will not kill) is in fact moral. Will any of it be true? It seems unlikely that we could say that however useful the exercise of thinking about the moral conundrums of Gotham might be. We can have such discussions about numerous figures in mythology as well, including quasi-historical figures like Jesus.

            Critical thinking is excellent, and you are correct doesn't belong to science alone. But unless you can test your critical thinking against evidence it is very easy to critically think one's self into deep and profound error. If you are going to make claims about the world, and about entities that can produce real and tangible effects in the real world then you a proposing ideas that can be tested by scientific means.

          • articulett

            What is real that science can't study? If it's real, we can define it, test it, and hone our understanding of it.We deduce who committed a crime via scientific evidence. We can also deduce that no crime was committed.

            Of course there's a problem with things that cannot be substantiated to exist... you want that to be off limits to science... and then pretend that religions can know about this"off limits" something that can't even bee shown to exist.

            But this is like saying that religions can know about immaterial flowers but it's beyond the scope of science. It doesn't mean anything if the thing you are talking about has no properties that we associate with real things. The supernatural is only off limits to science because there is nothing which distinguishes it from the imaginary. But that's not a valid reason to think that there is some other method for knowing about such things.

            Prayer has been scientifically tested; it fails. But if prayers did perform better than say, wishing on a star-- then scientists could refine that knowledge and figure out what kind of prayers work best-- Catholic prayers or Hindu prayers... prayers for other or imprecatory prayers... memorized prayers or spur of the moment prayers... prayers from kids or prayers from adults... prayers said aloud or prayers in one's head, etc.

          • Also, science can study why (in terms of brain functions) we believe what we believe.

          • What is real that science can't study? If it's real, we can define it, test it, and hone our understanding of it.

            I am reading Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction by Samir Okasha currently, and science can't answer any of the major questions raised in it. Science can't answer, "What is the meaning of life?" Science can't tell me how much, if any, of my income I should give to charity, or which charity I should give to. It can't answer the question of whether Edward Snowden is a hero or a villain. It can't answer the question of whether the NSA collecting metadata on all of our phone calls is part of a justifiable effort to keep Americans safe from terrorists or an unconstitutional intrusion into privacy.

            The list of things that science can't study, and the list of questions that science can't answer, are both endless.

          • severalspeciesof

            Articulett said 'study'. You said 'answer'. Answer and studying are different concepts (well, duh ;-) ), I find that interesting... I'll have to think about this...

          • Susan

            >The list of things that science can't study, and the list of questions that science can't answer, are both endless.

            I agree with you there, David. But science can certainly provide us with evidence that we can use to inform those decisions.

            Now, religion WILL tell you the answers to these questions that science CAN'T although it has no more authority than science. And it often does that freely, making claims about reality for which it has no evidence. Science can't give you the right answer to those questions and in its disciplined form, it doesn't try to.

            Religion shows no such restraint.

          • Science can't give you the right answer to those questions and in its disciplined form, it doesn't try to.
            Religion shows no such restraint.

            You imply that there can be a disciplined form of science, but not of religion. Not all religious people or religions are fundamentalists who claim certainty and insist on imposing their views on everyone else.

            If you count social sciences as science, I see a fair amount of ideological battling going on over such issues as same-sex marriage and gay adoption. There are dueling studies about how poorly or well children raised by same-sex couples fare. I think many people considered eugenics to be a scientific endeavor. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was science. There are many scientific experiments that might yield valuable knowledge that are not performed for ethical reasons. The ethical considerations that govern what science should and should not do are not science, but would you really want science to be free to carry out any experiment or study scientists thought would advance human knowledge?

            I usually am put off by people who quote certain authors, and G. K. Chesterton is one, but I would have to say there is truth to this:

            The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. He is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

            I have read several accounts of at least one person who, because of brain damage, was left emotionless. He could not make the smallest decision. Choosing a restaurant would involve hours of weighing all the pros and cons. Human beings don't function well on pure reason, and science at its best is pure reason.

          • articulett

            Science can't tell you what you are "supposed to" believe to live happily ever after-- of course, neither can religion, but that doesn't stop them from pretending they can.

            Theists have a particularly hard time distinguishing objective facts from everything else-- mottoes, opinions, ideals, feelings, beliefs, conjecture, philosophy, etc. I think religion purposefully blurs the issue so that in the confusion people might presume that religion is giving real answers. Sure, Mormonism can tell you to give 10% of your income to charity (the Mormon church) and Catholics can tell you that you have to believe in transubstantiation to be saved-- but that doesn't mean these are real answers.

            If you want to know about real things-- like where a missing child is or what the climate is like on Venus or whether an airplane can fly or what is wrong with your cell phone-- you go with science every time.

            By the way, what IS the meaning of life? How much income should you give to charity, and why not give all your possessions to charity as Jesus commanded in the bible? And is Edward Snowden a hero or a villian?

          • Science can't tell you what you are "supposed to" believe to live happily ever after-- of course, neither can religion, but that doesn't stop them from pretending they can.

            You speak as if all that existed were science and religion.

            Theists have a particularly hard time distinguishing objective facts from everything else-- mottoes, opinions, ideals, feelings, beliefs, conjecture, philosophy, etc. I think religion purposefully blurs the issue so that in the confusion people might presume that religion is giving real answers.

            Are you implying that religion is some huge conspiracy? And that everyone who believes in God, or believes in any kind of religion is duped?

            It seems to me that virtually everything you write implies the superiority not just of atheism over theism, but of atheists over theists, and nonreligious people over religious people. What about a non-theistic religion like Buddhism?

          • Prayer has been scientifically tested; it fails.

            There is really no way to scientifically test prayer.

          • Susan

            It depends, doesn't it, on the claims that are made about prayer?

          • Sure. If someone were to claim praying for people in hospital A and not praying for people in hospital B would automatically make people in hospital A healthier than people in hospital B, that could be tested scientifically. But that is a very naive view of prayer.

            I would have to say it is impossible in principle to do a double-blind study involving and omniscient God!

            Prayer is actually a very difficult concept, because I don't think anyone who has looked at it in depth thinks intercessory prayer works by convincing God to do something he would not otherwise have done. What can you say to an omniscient and omnipotent being to get him to change his mind?

          • Rationalist1

            David - Would you say the same if studies showed prayer as effective?

          • Max Driffill

            David,
            I would urge you to look at the STEP I and STEP II experiments. They do test prayer, and their experimental design was quite good. It was performed by people who really expected to see prayer be effective, but they were good scientists and published their negative findings.

          • severalspeciesof

            Are you not aware of the Templeton Prayer study? Or are you considering a different definition of prayer than the study uses? http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/31/health/31pray.html?pagewanted=all

          • articulett

            That's what you say when it fails. http://www.templeton.org/pdfs/articles/060331Reuters.pdf

            But people believe that prayer works better than wishing on a star, right? So when we test this, we should see it working better than wishing on a star. It doesn't. http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/video.htm

            Had the results shown opposite results, theists would be claiming that prayers have been proven to work-- even if there was no statistical significance to the data.

            Although science doesn't prove that prayer doesn't work-- it does show that it works no better than wishing on a star when subject to scientific testing. Any positive effects from prayer are indistinguishable from placebo effects.

    • Empirical science cannot say anything about God.

      I would agree with most of what Mike just wrote, and add that when people assert attributes for a deity that conflict with objectively observed fact, it is the simpler theory that said deity is mythical and only exists in their imagination. This is especially favored given the prior evidence of the thousands of deities already assigned to mythology. It is the observed natural progress of human religious culture that the resident deities in the theology department make it down the hall to the mythology department of the future.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Very clever.

        How is the attribute omniscient in conflict with objectively observed fact?

        • How is the attribute omniscient in conflict with objectively observed fact?

          Well, if you combine that with being "immaterial" we have the objective observation that all minds that know anything are made of mater and require the flow of energy to use that knowledge. When you consider knowing everything is so much larger than knowing anything, that would be a conflict, right there. Also, if a deity knew everything, that would include all subsets of everything, but would the knowledge of the knowledge of those subsets be in that set of knowledge?

          The "omnis" as attributes have all kinds of logical problems. The problems mostly come from "omni" being a label that includes things you don't know about, and because of that you are not naming those things with specificity. We can talk logically about what we know, but when we use labels that extend that to "everything" or "everywhere" or "everywhen" we can easily get into trouble.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You are philosophizing. I don't have a problem with that, but let's not call it empirical science.

          • The second part was more philosophical, but discussing what is or is not empirical science, is in itself, Philosophy of Science.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Right! It's philosophy!

          • Glad we agree about something.

    • None of the four views Akin identifies is scientific. Each is philosophical or religious.

      ?? Atheistic Evolution sounds like science to me. It is the study of the mechanism of biological evolution without consideration of actions by deities. Atheistic geology would also qualify as science. I am sure you can think of quite a few more.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Nooooo!

        Science studies natural phenomena using the scientific method. When you use science--either its method or findings--to posit something about God or not-god you are now doing philosophy, not natural science.

        How could you ever get God or no-god to be a variable in an experiment?

        • Sample1

          How could you ever get God or no-god to be a variable in an experiment?

          By asking people who claim to be gods to submit to scientific testing. There are people alive today who claim to be Jesus. Are you suggesting that there is no way to discount their claims?

          Mike

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You can't get God to show up at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday to account for himself.

          • severalspeciesof

            And that's a shame... I'd really much like to meet this god...

          • Sample1

            How do you know such a request is an impossibility?

            Mike

          • articulett

            How do you know? Wouldn't a real god who wanted to be "believed in" make himself distinguishable from a mythological god?

          • BenS

            Then we'll try him in absentia.

        • When you use science--either its method or findings--to posit something about God or not-god you are now doing philosophy, not natural science.

          Which is why Atheistic Evolution makes no such posit.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If atheists did not attempt to use natural science as a sledge hammer to whomp on belief in God, we could leave the term "atheist" off and simply call it evolution. But you guys don't.

          • But you guys don't.

            I think J. Akin had a part in the article about name calling. He seemed to use the term Atheist Evolution to differentiate from Theistic Evolution and other ideas of deities taking actions. If there is someone out there making the claim that the success of the Theory of Evolution proves that deities do not exist, that is not logically justified, and I certainly don't do that.

            It is true that many people over the centuries have used the example of all the living forms around us to argue for theological positions. It has, also, often been observed that Darwin did not get rid of the deities held to be the source of all those forms, but rather, he simply made those deities unnecessary as an explanation.

          • "If there is someone out there making the claim that the success of the Theory of Evolution proves that deities do not exist"

            Qu, I'm glad you don't but this inference is rampant among non-believers, especially online.

          • articulett

            I doubt it. I think that's what you may hear when atheists are actually saying that Theory of Evolution makes gods superfluous-- they aren't needed to explain creatures seemingly designed for their environment.

          • severalspeciesof

            You might be confusing 'to whomp on belief in god' to 'whomping on characteristics/behaviors of god'... But I could be wrong...

            *Edit: 'attributes' would be a better term...

          • articulett

            I think it's the fundamentalists who associate acceptance of evolution with atheism more than atheists. Atheists are usually well aware that most evolutionists are theists of some sort. It's just when they start telling us that atheists think we came from nothing or some other sort of straw man, we will enlighten them. Also the most famous evolutionists tend to be atheistic. And evolution does call that whole "original sin" thing into question.

          • Michael Murray

            Funny I thought the whole point of this article was to avoid saying "you guys".

            The point of evolution by natural selection is that it shows we don't need a designer. It shows there is no purpose in the actual evolution. It shows that suffering is endemic to the natural world at all levels amplifying the problem of pain.

          • Susan

            >So three more hits against any sensible idea of god.
            I'm not sure what a sensible idea of god would look like. I really have tried.

            But it certainly is three more hits against the sort of character that is asserted by catholics.

            How much less evidence could there be for a designer who has made humans the apple of its eye? And how much more evidence could there be against the idea that it is benevolent?

          • Max Driffill

            I don't want either atheism or theistic brought up as terms in evolutionary biology. A person may become an atheist after contemplating the history of life on earth and its processes. Or they may not. If they do not they may fall back on some theistic idea that they combine with what they know about evolutionary biology. But that really ought to be something for the student to figure out for themselves.

            I dislike the idea of putting theistic evolution in their head because it is muddy concept sure to encourage really sloppy thinking about biological processes in evolution. This begins with the very notion of theistic evolution itself. There is no evidence for such a thing. It is making up a step that adds nothing to what we know, and what have evidence for and needlessly complicates matters.

            Does God (whatever one it happens to be) tinker, yearly, with flu viruses? Where was god intervening in the evolution of canids? Or is it only human evolution that God tinkers with? If that is the case then why does human evolution appear to imitate the random course through history as other lineages? Why would God so ineptly create a defense against malaria sickle cell shape in hemoglobin that, when a child born homozygous recessive for the trait of sickle cells, can expect an early death? I suppose I could go on but I won't .

            If a student wants to think theistic evolution possess some merit that is fine as far as it goes. I don't think it is something that should be encouraged by science teachers. It simply teaches poor thinking habits.

        • primenumbers

          Science can doesn't just study natural phenomena. The problem being that things that used to be super-natural, once they are studied become "natural phenomena" if they're real (like lightning) and those that have no real effect on us stay super-natural (like psychics).

        • severalspeciesof

          Atheistic evolution is the belief that god is not needed in evolution as it adds an unnecessary and untestable element, not a 'there is no-god so therefore'...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I agree with you!

            Belief in God is not necessary to do science.

            However, if you move from "Belief in God is not necessary to do science" to the conclusion, "Therefore, God does not exist" you have left science for scientism, an atheistic philosophy.

          • severalspeciesof

            This is true, but it does leave god impotent...

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin:

            "However, if you move from "Belief in God is not necessary to do science" to the conclusion, "Therefore, God does not exist" you have left science for scientism, an atheistic philosophy."

            Who makes this leap? Scientists tend to not believe in gods because there is simply no evidence for such beings.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I see this "leap" being made over and over on this website.

            While the number of people who believe something does not make that belief true or false, about 50% of scientists do believe in God.

            http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Scientists-and-Belief.aspx

          • Michael Murray

            Not in God with a capital G that's 33%.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin, Kevin, Kevin

            "I see this "leap" being made over and over on this website."

            -I'm not making any leap. Seriously.

            "While the number of people who believe something does not make that belief true or false, about 50% of scientists do believe in God."

            What research also shows is that as one advances in science belief plummets. If you look at the National Academy of Science the number of believers is between 5-7%. That ought to trouble believers a great deal. This trend holds generally for education. The more education, the less religious one tends to become, and certainly the less prone toward literalist belief and traditional religious ideas.

          • Michael Murray

            Yep I was just digging that one out

            http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

            and 72% disbelieve.

            Also the Royal Society in the UK gets 3.3% belief in God.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Glad you are not leaping.

            The National Academy of Science only has about 2000 members and they nominate and elect new members. There could be a little self-organization going on there.

            In higher education in the humanities, atheists definitely dominate. That has nothing to do with them being smarter or better educated.

            So a question that has not been discussed is how is it that a scientist does believe in God, Revelation, miracles, and so on.

          • BenS

            So a question that has not been discussed is how is it that a scientist does believe in God, Revelation, miracles, and so on.

            That's easy. They have to leave science at the door when considering those aspects. It's virtually a truism that scientists do not insert their god into their field of study - and this is because they understand their field and see there's no room for god in it. They can, however, like everyone else, insert their god into fields of study they're not familiar with.

            The number of scientists in relevant fields (evolutionary biology, geology etc) who believe in a god created young earth are vanishingly small. A tiny fraction of a percent. Because they understand the field. Outside their area of expertise, it's fine to insert god.

            "Young earth? Don't be daft, look at those rock formations. Millions of years old. Big bang? Could have been god, sure. I don't understand how the universe could have come about otherwise."

            To summarise: The number of scientists who insert a god into their OWN field of study is vanishingly small. They're often more than happy, though, to insert it in fields they don't understand.

          • Michael Murray

            There sure is self-organisation they pick out the smartest. Similarly in the Royal Society which used to contain many religious like Newton. It's just the modern ones who are atheists.

          • severalspeciesof

            "So a question that has not been discussed is how is it that a scientist does believe in God, Revelation, miracles, and so on."

            That's a good question with answers probably as varied as the number of scientists that believe in god etc.. One overriding reason may be our ability to compartmentalize.

            Now as I seem to think a lot in 'sideways' manners, this particular question reminded me of John Nash ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr. ) the mathematician who suffered from schizophrenia. (Now I'm not saying that scientists who believe in god are schizophrenics, so bear with me, it's my 'sideways thinking) he was apparently able to recognize his episodes so that he could then "intelectually reject" his delusions. In effect he was able to 'compartmentalize' on purpose...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            My own answer to my own question based on Catholic scientists I know (for some reason, I know lots of doctoral-level physicists and electrical engineers (if they count as scientists)) is that they don't see any conflict between their religious faith and their scientific work. Science is one thing and their Catholic faith is another.

            This does not mean they don't affect each other. For example, it stands to reason that if a Catholic scientist takes religion seriously he will be an ethical scientist since he considers it a sin make up or distort data. His science would also affect his faith. For example, his sense of wonder constantly aroused from his work would be a motive for admiration and gratitude toward God. So rather than the two not being in conflict, they complement each other.

          • BenS

            My own answer to my own question based on Catholic scientists I know (for some reason, I know lots of doctoral-level physicists and electrical engineers (if they count as scientists)) is that they don't see any conflict between their religious faith and their scientific work.

            How many of those Catholic electrical engineers believe in 'theistic electron flow' where a god guides the charges around according to his own plan?

            If you suggested such a thing, they'd probably look at you funny - because they understand how it really works and it doens't need a god. And yet, sticking a god's guidance in a subject they don't understand, like evolution, would probably be quite acceptable to them.

            THAT's how scientists reconcile their religion with their science.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think that is a big assumption.

          • Max Driffill

            Kevin,

            "The National Academy of Science only has about 2000 members and they nominate and elect new members. There could be a little self-organization going on there."

            That is actually unlikely. Religious belief would not be a subject that came up. What would come up would be the research of the selectee.

            "In higher education in the humanities, atheists definitely dominate. That has nothing to do with them being smarter or better educated."
            Atheists, and non-traditional religious types also dominate in the sciences. You are certainly correct that in general it has nothing to do with atheists/freethinkers/agnostics being smarter. But you are probably wrong that it doesn't have any to do with higher education. How could it not? New information cannot help but to alter one's perceptions of the world.
            Jerry Coyne has an interesting paper up at the journal Evolution (that I don't think was behind a paywall) that you should look at that, at least tangentially, touches on this.

            "So a question that has not been discussed is how is it that a scientist does believe in God, Revelation, miracles, and so on."

            That is by not thinking scientifically about "God, revelation, miracles and so on."
            EDIT: Here is Coyne discussing his paper:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ekc2Nn03IVM

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'll check out the paper and video.

            It may be that some Christian scientists do not think scientifically about religion but it is just as true that some atheist scientists do not think philosophically about religion.

          • Michael Murray

            Agreed. Atheist scientists also hardly ever think about the correct treatment of unicorn hoof rot.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Scientists like Hawking claim that "something comes from nothing" while not noticing that time, space, and all the laws of nature are are not nothing.

          • Max Driffill

            I'm sorry, why should that help the case for religion?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I just answered this question for someone else but it's not showing up for some reason.

            I should have said, "some atheist scientists do not think philosophically about science as it relates to origins." For example, Hawking says "something comes from nothing" when a subatomic particle appears in a quantum field, and so the whole universe can come from nothing and does not need God to create it. Hawking does not notice that a quantum field, or the laws of nature, or space and time are not nothing. That is a really basic philosophical mistake.

          • This is getting very deep for me! But I suppose a certain amount of this debate depends on what is meant by nothing. As I recall, Lawrence Krauss in A Universe from Nothing acknowledges that for us, empty space or "the vacuum" is not nothing. But for someone like Aquinas, it may have been his idea of nothing.

            Also, I think the whole "proof" here assumes that before there was the universe, there was nothing. I just watched the Sean Carroll video on the arrow of time, and he cautions us not to believe the notion that at the big bang, "everything" (space, time, matter, energy) came into existence. He notes that our current physics only accounts for these things a fraction of a second after the big bang, but it's not that nothing existed prior to the big bang. It's that our current equations just don't work for the big bang itself. That is not to say physics will never be able to grapple with the big bang. And it doesn't mean the big bang was the point at which God created the universe from nothing.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I think there is a sense in which theology drives the science of cosmology, or rather, anti-theology drives atheist cosmologists.

            When it became clear that the Big Bang theory was probably true, and that it implied an absolute beginning of the universe, and that could imply something appearing where before there was nothing, and that could mean (God-forbid) a Creator; and when the evidence emerged that our universe is so fine-tuned for the emergence of human life that the chances of those variables being the way they were by chance was infinitesimally small, which again (God-forbid) implied an Intelligent Designer; that is when hypotheses like the multiverse and parallel universes were conceived.

          • I'd recommend checking out a post over on First Things titled The Large Hadron Collider, the Multiverse, and Me (and my friends). It's by Stephen M. Barr, author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. In the post, he says the following:

            Scientists are beginning to get very worried—that an idea proposed by me and three collaborators in 1997 may turn out to be right. If it is right, then (a) we live in a “multiverse” (an idea that most physicists hate) and (b) there is a good chance that certain discoveries people were hoping would be made by the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) won’t be made.

            One of the commenters raised a question that touches on something you are mentioning here. Isn't the idea of the multiverse viewed by some as an invention of atheists to explain away the alleged fine-tuning of the universe? Here''s a partial answer he wrote to one of the commenters:

            You are right that many theists see the multiverse idea as a “desperate invention” of atheists. But that is indeed, as you imply, an oversimplification of the situation. Attitudes about the multiverse cut across religious-atheist lines. Most physicists (including most of those who are atheists) dislike the multiverse idea for several reasons: (1) It is probably untestable, and thus dismissed as “not science.” (2) If correct, then some numbers we thought were “constants of nature,” and thus perhaps calculable from a fundamental theory, may be just descriptions of conditions in our part of the universe.

            True, some physicists who are atheists do welcome the multiverse idea as explaining some “anthropic fine-tunings” without invoking a God who tunes the universe for life.

            The paper that my friends and I wrote in 1997 is one of the most well-known (among physicists) papers proposing the multiverse as a solution to a theoretical puzzle. The authors include an atheist and two Catholics (including me).

            The multiverse idea has real physics arguments in support of it. To the extent that physicists are beginning to take it seriously, it is in spite of the strongly held feelings of most of them, including most atheists.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I've recommended that Coyne's paper be posted on Strange Notions. It is very clever.

          • Michael Murray

            Have you got a link for the paper ? Google failed me. Thanks.

          • Kevin Aldrich
          • Michael Murray

            Thanks

        • Max Driffill

          Kevin,
          This simply isn't the case. For one thing there are numerous definitions of god out there that can be ruled out because we understand nature much more completely now.
          An scientist could never say, as a scientist they found God a compelling idea. I know there are some who do, they are wrong to do so. There is simply no compelling evidence for the assertion. There is in fact very little reason to even consider (any longer) the hypothesis of gods.

          An honest scientist is required, by the evidence to take the following stance on interventionist gods. She should say, "While we cannot say with absolute certainty there are no gods, there probably are none. There is simply no evidence of them, or their action on the world. The universe behaves pretty much as it ought to behave given our understanding of the laws that govern it."

      • Susan

        >?? Atheistic Evolution sounds like science to me. It is the study of the mechanism of biological evolution without consideration of actions by deities. Atheistic geology would also qualify as science. I am sure you can think of quite a few more.

        I think it's back to "atheistic" as an insistence that there are no gods.

        I wonder what it would be like if people who studied the behaviour of avalanches were accused of being "afairyist" if they saw no evidence of immaterial snow flake fairies hand carving each perfect, tiny snowflake until there was such a lot of them that they would take out a skier if they so pleased or a herd of caribou as an ultimate plan to save humans from whatever traps fairies set that they must ultimately set humans free from.

        I guess it would be OK if there were snowfairyists who insisted that you couldn't prove this wasn't the case and they could offer feasts to the snowflake fairies when they were at home with their families or in community with other snowfairyists.

        But really, the enterprise would have nothing to do with snowflake fairies. Nothing about avalanches requires them and even if you were curious about their beliefs and wanted to test them, they would insist that snowflake faires are beyond evidence.

        "All right." I would think. "Back to work then."

        • Yes, I think Kevin took it as meaning that while you did the science, you had to hold up a flashing sign stating that what you are doing proves that there are no gods, deities, faeries, etc. That would be very distracting to getting the job done.

          • Susan

            >That would be very distracting to getting the job done.
            It would.

            This has been explained so many times that I wonder why we still have such a failure of communication.

          • This has been explained so many times that I wonder why we still have such a failure of communication.

            That does not mean that repetition is not still needed. Maybe we can program it into hotkeys for easy posting.

          • Susan

            >That does not mean that repetition is not still needed. Maybe we can program it into hotkeys for easy posting

            Or maybe a catchy jingle.

            Oh, right. This is an internet discussion.

            Hotkeys, then.

          • Or maybe a catchy jingle.

            Audio can be posted, perhaps something catchy to the tune of "Spam."

          • Susan

            >Audio can be posted, perhaps something catchy to the tune of "Spam."
            What could be catchier?

          • BenS

            This has been explained so many times that I wonder why we still have such a failure of communication.

            And it's not like we haven't tried. You used the example of snow flake fairies above, I've used space ponies elsewhere, we've tried metaphor and analogy by the bucketful to try and explain the issue and still it gets misrepresented.

            I know it's uncharitable of me but sometimes, just sometimes, I can't shake the feeling that some people are being deliberately dishonest. It saddens me the people are so invested in a position that's so untenable that they are willing to knowingly lie to others to disguise this.

          • Susan

            >I've used space ponies elsewhere

            But that's just crazy, Ben. Space ponies don't explain anything.

            Immaterial snowflake fairies are an entirely different matter.
            How do you explain love If there are no immaterial snowflake fairies? How do you explain morality?

            Where's your evidence for space ponies? Anyway, can you disprove my snowflake fairies? How do you explain avalanches?

          • The dragon in Carl Sagan's garage has those beat.

          • Susan

            >The dragon in Carl Sagan's garage has those beat.

            True. I'm no Carl Sagan. :-)

            If they are looking for an article at Strange Notions that stimulates discussion between catholics and atheists, that would be a very good one to post.

          • Indeed, I'd like to see articles about Theodicy, then A&E, then the dragon as the call card. (That assumes we are through the Evolution part.)

          • Susan

            >Indeed, I'd like to see articles about Theodicy, then A&E, then the dragon as the call card. (That assumes we are through the Evolution part.)

            That would be perfect.

            You should contact the site moderators and suggest that.

          • Michael Murray

            Agreed. Excellent idea. Though where I come from A&E means Accident and Emergency. I think what you guys call ER.

          • BenS

            Are we through the Evolution part? I've not seen anywhere where anyone's reconciled the 'guided' part of theistic evolution with the 'random mutation and natural selection' of evolution (I'm not calling it atheistic evolution; I refuse to play that game).

            Granted, I might not have seen it because Disqus makes following these discussions nigh on impossible.

            If not then 'theistic evolution' is a non-starter which leaves us with three options (I think):

            Evolution through random mutation and natural selection.
            OEC with evolution through random mutation and natural selection
            YEC with species appearing in current form

            That sound about right?

          • Susan

            >>Are we through the Evolution part? I've not seen anywhere where anyone's reconciled the 'guided' part of theistic evolution with the 'random mutation and natural selection' of evolution (I'm not calling it atheistic evolution; I refuse to play that game).

            Same here, on both counts.

            >Granted, I might not have seen it because Disqus makes following these discussions nigh on impossible

            I can't argue there.

            I'd like to think that one of the things catholics and atheists can agree on here is that disqus is the dog's breakfast and it's a "miracle" we keep attempting discussions no matter how impossible disqus makes that activity.

          • BenS

            Yeah? Ever seen a space pony trample through a garden of immaterial snowflake fairies? Immaterial wings and immaterial beaks everywhere!

            I regularly get this question from aspaceponyists - but morality is simple. Without an external guide, who is leading you by the nose? And without externally applied blinkers what's to stop you looking at all kinds of things you shouldn't be? Like naked fillies and science text books!

            Now come on, be serious, how can snow flake fairies be on the same level as space ponies? I dislike being put in the same camp as people who believe in snow flake fairies and Santa Claus. You just have to listen to the whinny of the ponies, let them nuzzle you and feel their love. And they do love you; they love you so very much.

            And if you don't pet them and return their love they'll trample the sugar cubes out of you for all eternity!

          • Susan

            >Now come on, be serious, how can snow flake fairies be on the same level as space ponies?

            Space ponies are by their very nature contingent. They are "space" ponies, after all and subject to time and space.
            Snowflake fairies are immaterial and therefore beyond time and space. Do I have to talk more slowly or are you just close-minded?

            The fact that you even asked that question means that you have to rely on reason and how do you explain reason?
            (Hint: Snowflake Fairies)

          • BenS

            Oh, I see. 'Space' ponies are contingent but 'snowflake' fairies are not? Special pleading much? The only space I see is between your ears!*

            One doesn't need to explain reasons, they're just there. Always have been and always will be. If they weren't, how can you make proper Christmas pudding?

            Zing! Game, set, match and after tournament shower to me!

            ---

            * Mods: We are playing. :)

          • Susan

            >'Space' ponies are contingent but 'snowflake' fairies are not?

            Snowflake fairies are necessary beings. The existence of your space ponies is contingent on the snowmound of being.

            Stamped it. Cracked it. Double-locked it. Ollie, Ollie Oxen free. You're dead. I'm not.

            >* Mods: We are playing. :)

            Yes. We are. And we will stop now.

          • Michael Murray

            And how do you account for the intricate pattern of the snowflakes if there are no snowfairies to put them together.

          • Susan

            >And how do you account for the intricate pattern of the snowflakes if there are no snowfairies to put them together?

            Thank you Michael. Clearly Ben hasn't read a very important great big book that explains all the details about snowflake fairies. He is arguing with a straw fairy.

            Bloody new afairysists. If they don't believe in fairies, why do they waste so much energy talking about it?

            I'll bet they are just mad at fairies. I've read some pamphlets somewhere I can't quite remember or provide a reference for that said that that sort of thing happens all the time.

          • Susan, your comments in this thread seem little more than mockery at the expense of theists.They add nothing to the conversation. If you're primarily interested in mocking other people's views, there are plenty of sites around the Internet to entertain that desire. But this is not one; your comments have been removed.

          • Susan

            > your comments have been removed.

            If you want to remove the silliness Ben and I got into in our exchanges, we both said that we were playing and we stopped. Remove all that. Fair enough. I'll bet Ben would agree although I shouldn't speak for him.

            My initial post about the snow fairies was a sincere and reasonable effort at an analogy for "atheistic science".
            Do you honestly think that the original comment was "mockery"?

            I was trying to use a fair analogy to demonstrate an important point about accusations of "atheist science".
            If you think it was an unfair analogy, it would be better for your position if you explained why.

          • BenS

            If you want to remove the silliness Ben and I got into in our exchanges, we both said that we were playing and we stopped. Remove all that. Fair enough. I'll bet Ben would agree although I shouldn't speak for him.

            I concur; if you wish to remove the exchange then by all means do so, it's your site after all - but we *were* only playing. It's also unfair to target Susan exclusively, I was just as culpable.

            There was, however, an undercurrent of satire to the posts where I claimed that I didn't like my belief in space ponies to be compared to santa claus. It was so any theists seeing that would consider the umbrage taken by space ponyists at how atheists view their beliefs and try to map it onto how their own umbrage looks to others. I'm not sure if that came across as a point for consideration but it certainly wasn't just plain old mockery. It was far more subtle than that.

          • Max Driffill

            Brandon,
            How was she mocking?
            She was using absurdity to point out a problem in theological reasoning. That isn't necessarily mocking, but it can help to underscore a point.

          • Michael Murray

            You could try "reductio ad absurdum". Aristotle did it so it must be good.

  • NDaniels

    Nothing is added to or subtracted from the DNA of a son or daughter of a human person once conception has occurred, thus from the moment of conception, we are brought into being, wholly human.

    • Michael Murray

      So no soul then ?

    • BenS

      Then nothing's added to or subtracted from my DNA when I shed my hair and skin cells. Am I dropping humans all over the show?

  • clod

    How is the question of origins handled now in catholic schools? In my day (I am old), it was wall to wall biblical literalism. Doctrine was rote learned and any hint of dissent brutally crushed. I do hope it has changed. Any additional descriptors before evolution are not helpful: it's just evolution. No need to add baggage.

    • Rationalist1

      I didn't go to Catholic School but Catechism class taught by the priest was basically "Could God do it that way? .... Then he did." No nuance, no allegory. Adam and Eve were real people and they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree and therefore sin entered the world.

      • clod

        I went to both catholic primary and grammar. I regret that my use of the word brutal to describe my treatment by the nuns and priest is not hyperbole. Not getting into that here.

        • I am sorry to hear that is the case, but I, my older sister, and my younger brother and sister all went to Catholic school—12 years for my older sister and me, 8 years for my younger brother and sister, and there was never anything that I would describe as brutal treatment. Brutality is not an integral part of Catholic education. I have plenty of complaints, but brutality is not one of them. I got quite a fine education, too, and back in those days (1950s to early 1960s) it was very affordable to get a good education in Catholic school. The cheap labor of nuns, brothers, and priests, most of whom were dedicated teachers (and not just of religion) has unfortunately dwindled drastically.

          • clod

            I'm glad your experience was considerably happier than mine David.

    • clod, thanks for the comment. After reading Jimmy's article, though, can you see how there *is* an important distinction within evolutionary theories between God-driven and completely-natural alternatives? In other words, between "theistic" evolution and "atheistic" evolution?

      Contrary to your comment I do think these descriptors are helpful.

      • BenS

        Brandon,

        Perhaps, when you get a moment, you could address some of the comments (mine or others') which address the problem with 'theistic' evolution that doesn't apply to evolution through random mutation and natural selection.

        That being that random mutation is explained and natural selection is explained and all the evidence shows that these alone are sufficient. That also being that there is no evidence to show either mutation or the selection aspects were guided.

        I'd love to point out where those posts / discussion threads are on this article but the workings of Disgust are beyond me...

        • BenS, thanks for the comments! And thanks for the invitation to dialogue. A couple thoughts in reply to your comment:

          "[R}andom mutation is explained and natural selection is explained and all the evidence shows that these alone are sufficient."

          I'd agree with that if all you mean is that "random mutation" and "natural selection" explain the *material* cause of evolution. But I disagree with the last suggestion that *material* explanations are sufficient. I stand with Aristotle in maintaining that each act has Four Causes, "material" being just one of them. Thus evolution has other causes that cannot be sufficiently explained by itself or other natural theories. "Theistic evolution" does offer a sufficient explanation for evolution because, in addition to evolution's material causes, it explains the other three as well.

          "That also being that there is no evidence to show either mutation or the selection aspects were guided."

          I'm curious what sort of natural evidence or experimentation could settle the question of whether evolution is guided. How could you verify or deny a supernatural influence using empirical methods? Instead, we must examine the possibility through other avenues like reason, philosophy, and metaphysics.

          • BenS

            BenS, thanks for the comments! And thanks for the invitation to dialogue. A couple thoughts in reply to your comment:

            Quite welcome.

            I'd agree with that if all you mean is that "random mutation" and "natural selection" explain the *material* cause of evolution. But I disagree with the last suggestion that *material* explanations are sufficient. I stand with Aristotle in maintaining that each act has Four Causes, "material" being just one of them.

            Well, I'm not all up on philosophy so I had to go and look up his four causes and, I have to say, they're a load of crap. I don't think there's any place, anywhere I'd have to resort to sorting those four things out. It sounds like a good way to obfuscate issues though but I'm not really interested in playing that game.

            The theory of evolution by random mutation and natural selection sets forward an explanation of how the diversity of species came about and then presents the evidence for it. You appear to be saying that this is inadequate because it cannot answer 'But WHY a wombat!?!'. That's looking at it the wrong way. A wombat is a product of the process, it doesn't necessarily have a 'why' beyond 'that was the form that managed to survive the most successfully'.

            I'm curious what sort of natural evidence or experimentation could settle the question of whether evolution is guided.

            So am I, pal. So am I. And if there's no evidence that can possibly show it was guided and if it's therefore indistinguishable from an unguided process then why bother putting forward that it was guided. Just Occam the 'guidance' away like you would for everything else.

            Inserting a guider in there when there's no evidence for one is just wishful thinking and trying to justify it is simply word games.

          • severalspeciesof

            "How could you verify or deny a supernatural influence using empirical methods?"

            You can't...

            And therein lies the problem. How could anyone know then whether any single action, even when it could be explained by natural causes (and everyone agrees with it), wasn't at that particular time caused by the supernatural, or better yet that when every single time a particular action occurred that it wasn't via supernatural means?

            How would you tell whether or not gravity was supernatural all the time? Supernatural gets you really nowhere as an answer...

        • BenS, thanks for the comment! And thanks for inviting my response. A couple thoughts in reply:

          "[R}andom mutation is explained and natural selection is explained and all the evidence shows that these alone are sufficient."

          I'd agree with that if all you mean is that "random mutation" and "natural selection" explain the *material* cause of evolution. But I disagree with the last suggestion that *material* explanations are sufficient. I stand with Aristotle in maintaining that each act has Four Causes, "material" being just one of them. Thus evolution has other causes that cannot be sufficiently explained by itself or other natural theories. "Theistic evolution" offers a sufficient explanation for evolution because, in addition to evolution's material causes, it explains the other three as well.

          "That also being that there is no evidence to show either mutation or the selection aspects were guided."

          I'm curious what sort of natural evidence or experimentation could settle the question of whether evolution is guided. How could you verify or deny a supernatural influence using empirical methods? Instead, we must examine the possibility through other avenues like reason, philosophy, and metaphysics.

      • clod

        Yes, I see the distinction. What constitutes evidence for God driven evolution?

        • First, I'd point out that so-called "atheistic explanation" does not sufficiently explain evolution. It explains evolution's *material* cause but not it's efficient or final cause, to use Aristotle's terms.

          Second, I'd point you to today's article on Thomas Aquinas' classic explanation of why God is the First Cause of every act, and thus evolution:

          https://strangenotions.com/unpacking-first-cause/

          • clod

            Efficient and Final causation would be acceptable if agency could be demonstrated. So far, it has not been. I will read the article you link, thanks. I seem to recall Aquinas had the unfortunate tendency to hide conclusions within premises and thus make many errors of logic.

  • NDaniels

    The Catholic Church has always taught that a human being exists as a unity of body and soul.

  • Somewhere below, commenters express interest in a proposed reconciliation of the Catholic view of human origins with the current scientific view of the same. A simplified version, one respecting the gist of the Genesis creation account, the demands of Catholic teaching on human nature and original sin, and the current science, would go like this:
    Let evolution and "speciation" run the course such that the population of "modern" "humans" has taken *physical* form, but are as yet fully human from a theistic perspective because they lack the human soul.
    A la Genesis, God takes an individual from this population (the "Adam") and sets the individual apart (Eden), "breathing" the first human soul into existence and making this "Adam" the first human person. God also creates from this Adam's own now-full human nature the second human person, the woman (Eve).
    These two are apart from the rest of creation (they are in Eden, intimate union with God), and are at this point destined to be father and mother of the fully human family, destined to live as family in this "Eden", walking with the Lord (per Genesis).
    Through the fall and the loss of grace intended for this fully human family (which was given to Adam in store for all humanity), this first couple are *banished* from Eden, back into the rest of creation, including the previous population of "humans".
    But the key is this: God recognizes that "it is not good" for this first human couple to be "alone", banished from Eden, and so, just as God did with Eve herself, when she was created not through natural generation but through an exceptional act by God, God chooses to "breathe" human souls into the existing human population from which the first "Adam" had been taken. But because of the fall, *these* newly formed human persons, though not arising from procreation (again, just like Eve), come into existence as "children" of fallen Adam, with souls wounded by original sin and separated from God just as *Eve* loses the gift of grace held in store personally by *Adam* (per Catholic teaching) even though Eve is not a biological "child" of Adam.
    This could also explain how the "biblical" human family could arise without recourse to anything considered "incestuous" by today's standards--Adam and Eve are the literal "prototypes" for ensouled man and woman, yet after the fall God returns them from Eden as part of a fully human, though fallen, population of first members of the human race, from which we all descend naturally.
    I cannot see how this scenario would compromise either Bible, science, or Catholic teaching.
    But I offer it up here for thorough critique by all. Reminder--it's purely *speculative*, but might yield something of interest...

    • Rationalist1

      Rather convoluted. I'm just wondering if there any point where you say this it too convoluted and cannot be reconciled or does the Genesis story always demand acceptance?

      • Rationalist, surely we'd agree that "too convoluted" is no good reason to dismiss a valid explanation. Otherwise, we'd half to throw most of our greatest philosophers and scientists out the window.

      • The randomness of evolution itself is, one would easily say, abundantly more convoluted than this scenario....
        But I hope to have an equal chance of upsetting fellow Catholics, biblical fundamentalists, and atheists, with the proposal! :-) (kidding of course)
        Answering your question, Genesis, as Scripture, is seeking to convey *some* actual truth about human origins, and what I've focused upon above are those truths that seem to be asserted as fixed points of Catholic teaching....

        • severalspeciesof

          I'm with Micheal... there's a lot of, indeed most of it, Post-hoc patching... Genesis has nothing to say about other humans when Adam and Eve were formed. Yes, I hear the objections "It's only figurative" in the background here, but had the idea of pointing out that other humans were alive (when the story was conceived) when Adam and Eve were around wouldn't destroy any 'figurativeness' of the story...

          • "Genesis has nothing to say about other humans when Adam and Eve were formed."
            Weelll, not so fast--the *first* story of Creation in Genesis already establishes that "male and female He created *them*." Don't forget that part of the Genesis fun is dealing with *two* creation stories....

          • severalspeciesof

            Sorry, but a single male and a single female together is also regarded as *them*...

          • True enough. But it's clear that the first story does not agree in every detail with the second. They can be reconciled, but in truth there is nothing directly in the first story that requires us to limit the "them" to two and only two...again, just an observation...

      • sheila0405

        The Genesis narrative is only a starting point for believers. We cannot ignore the science about our planet, while maintaining our belief in a Creator. Many denominations have different views on the Genesis narrative, as Jimmy points out.

    • Michael Murray

      Post-hoc patch up job.

      • Well, then it's a perfectly "Catholic" perspective, as our Redemption by Jesus Christ was also, more or less, a "post-hoc patch up job." :-)

    • BenS

      That's the SIMPLIFIED version? Yeesh.

      That's the most complicated and convoluted way of trying to fit a myth into science I've ever seen.

      So it's basically... evolution... then Eden, then soul (Adam), then soul (Eve), then loss of grace, then banishment then evolution again?

      Or, evolution, then magic, then magic, then magic, then magic, then magic, then evolution?

      Just to simply this further, ala Occam, if we were to strip out all the bits with no evidence at all we would have:

      Evolution, then evolution.

      Which we can further condense to:

      Evolution.

      Hope that helped!

      • Ben, no need for the sarcasm. Cut it out, or we'll be deleting your comments.

        • BenS

          You're welcome to delete them any time and I'll simply leave the site, but that's not sarcasm. I'm applying Occam's razor to the situation to simplify an extremely complicated and sloppy position into something that makes more rational sense.

          I'll replace the word 'magic' with 'miracle' or 'event with no supporting evidence' if it makes it more palatable for you.

          • sheila0405

            No need for that from me, As you'll see from my first reply. I can see how atheists see religion as magic. And, with all due respect to the one who threatens to delete your comments, we need an open forum to discuss all points of view. No censorship needed, at least not from me!

          • BenS, there's no problem with your Occam's razor proposal, but with your constant references to "magic."

            Describing the theistic position as "evolution, then magic, then magic, then magic, then magic, then magic, then evolution" is not only unfair and unrepresentative, it comes across as intentionally perjorative.

            Also, your last line, "Hope that helped!" may not have meant to be sarcastic, but it comes across that way.

            I thought your Occam's razor allusion was helpful and interesting but your dense sarcasm clouds your otherwise insightful points.

          • BenS

            I have edited my post accordingly. You must understand, though, that positing things that not only have no evidence but have no basis in science (souls etc) is, to me, no different from saying 'and then magic happens'.

            The simplest way to avoid this is to provide proper evidence for them. By evidence, I should be clear, I do not mean word games. I mean evidence that fits in with the scientific method. :)

          • Ben--does all "evidence" "fit" the scientific method?

          • BenS

            Jim, nope - but I'm not really interested in the stuff that doesn't when discussing scientific theories. The only evidence to me that is of value to supporting or rejecting a scientific theory is that which fits in with the scientific method.

          • But you *do* understand that my proposal was certainly not intended to be purely scientific--rather, it addresses the problem raised by those who assert that the *science* theorized here automatically and absolutely precludes the claims of faith--particularly the claims of the Catholic view of human creation and the fall.
            There are reasonable alternatives that do not resort to "magic" to resolve the tensions of faith and science. I don't think my speculation involves anything un-reasonable, based on evidence not only from science but from other sources....

          • BenS

            There are reasonable alternatives that do not resort to "magic" to resolve the tensions of faith and science. I don't think my speculation involves anything un-reasonable, based on evidence not only from science but from other sources....

            But the problem is that your 'speculation' is, without supporting evidence, guesswork. I could insert ANYTHING in that middle bit and it would be just as valid as yours. You have to understand that citing evidence from 'other sources' (namely word games, gut feelings and the bible) holds no truck with proper scientists. Muslims, Scientologists, Greek Pantheist and whatever all have their 'other sources' which are equally as unreliable.

            How then, would we determine which of these other sources are valid? What method could we use to determine which sources are reliable and which aren't? Well, that's what the scientific method is for...

          • Evidence from "other sources" does indeed include philosophy, theology, and, in the case of Catholics, Scripture and Magisterial teaching, particularly because Catholics make the choice to trust in the authority promised by Christ to the Church and protected by the Holy Spirit. And, truth be told, the scientific method is not "for" determining which philosophy or theology or religious "authority" is reliable. For these, one may indeed engage the use of reason *apart* from considering how the scientific method might impact one's thinking or conclusions.
            And yes, it's true, you could suggest any number of "speculations" regarding how to reconcile Scripture, Catholic teaching, and science--e.g., space aliens "rigged" everything--and, yes, we'd all need to weigh the reasonability of the claims. But the scientific method does not always get the last word on what is reasonable and what is not, and what evidence should be considered and what evidence should not.
            My speculation, I think, succeeds in proposing something potentially "reasonable" to consider regarding how God might have acted as Creator of man. It's offered to at least demonstrate that faith is not really at odds with the science on this question, and that we need not live in fear of what science may discover regarding the truth of God's plan for us.

          • BenS

            But the scientific method does not always get the last word on what is reasonable and what is not, and what evidence should be considered and what evidence should not.

            Well, I'm not aware of any other method that more reliably strips the bias, bluster and bullshit from 'evidence' than the scientific one.

            Every other method I've heard proposed seems to exist solely so that someone can put forward some evidence that, if submitted by anyone else against their position, they would reject as unsuitable.

            If you know of a better method, I'm all ears.

          • Ben--please explain to me how "random" evolution is somehow more "elegant" than the "extremely complicated and sloppy" proposal above?

          • BenS

            I would be happy to. :)

            It's more elegant in that it doesn't require ANY of the additional stuff you mentioned. If you're already saying that random mutation and natural selection occurred to provide the 'human form' - and then a god took two of these hominids out and did stuff with ribs and souls and banishments and suchlike before putting then back - and then random mutation and natural selection kicked in again... then cutting out all that middle bit is clearly more elegant.

            If you don't think it is then I'm going to have to ask you for your definition of elegant because it would seem to differ from mine.

          • I'm saying God provided the human form and may well have used random mutation and natural selection to arrive at the point in history at which time He created human persons. And I'm not trying to be overly literalistic about the Genesis texts, but rather I'm trying to give due acknowledgment to the texts as the basis for some of what the Church teaches on human origins and original sin...
            I am not asserting a post-Genesis random mutation and natural selection, but rather establishing the baseline from which the contemporary human species could arise, seeking to reconcile the evidence of faith and science in my speculation...

          • severalspeciesof

            I'm glad you used the word 'speculation'. What you've written about regarding A&E is just that...

          • From what perspective do you say this, out of curiosity--honestly, my "speculation" runs the risk of not passing the smell test of both atheists and theists, so I'm curious...

          • severalspeciesof

            BenS says it well: "your setting the stage for pre-history consists literally of just
            inserting a load of unevidenced things into a scientific theory."

            'Unevidenced things' is speculative...

          • BenS

            I am not asserting a post-Genesis random mutation and natural selection, but rather establishing the baseline from which the contemporary human species could arise, seeking to reconcile the evidence of faith and
            science in my speculation...

            Well, I'm sorry, but - and I say this with no ill will, sarcasm, snarkiness or nastiness - but you're failing. And this is why:

            The theory of evolution specifically includes random mutation. The evidence for the random mutation is comprehensive, we can see it occuring. These random mutations are then selected for or against naturally. This is also well evidenced.

            If your reconciliation does not include random mutation and natural selection then you haven't reconciled the current scientific theory with your faith; you've invented your own hypothesis and you would then need to set about demonstrating it.

          • I probably could have been clearer in what I meant by that--what I'm saying is that my concern is reconciling how the stage is set for "pre-history" so to speak. That is, I wasn't making any claims regarding how random mutation and natural selection may (or may not be) playing out with us humans in this, the historic, period. This doesn't mean I'm denying (or supporting) any claims regarding what is happening to the human species biologically after the "fall", just that I wasn't attempting to address that. I tried to make this clarification because your description of my effort included a post-fall mention of "evolution", which I hadn't really addressed.

          • BenS

            I tried to make this clarification because your description of my effort included a post-fall mention of "evolution", which I hadn't really addressed.

            Your earlier post said that we all descended naturally from A&E which I took as involving random mutation.

            Even so, your setting the stage for pre-history consists literally of just inserting a load of unevidenced things into a scientific theory. As absolutely none of that can be shown to have happened we can, as always, Occam it away.

            The problem is that all this hasn't really contributed anything. There's no evidence here for theistic evolution (you don't appear to have made a claim for it, which is fine) and there's no evidence here for anything other than evolution through random mutation and natural selection.

            So there's nothing really apart from "Ok, so maybe evolution... but also Adam & Eve and miracles!" which is exactly as valid as "Ok, so maybe evolution.... but also space ponies!". But both are huge, unevidenced leaps.

            And, yes, when we're discussing a scientific theory I DO mean scientific evidence. If you're trying to reconcile your faith with science then you need to follow the rules of science otherwise... it's not science. If you don't want to follow the rules of science, that's fine, I'm not going to force you to - but you then lose the ability to say your beliefs are compatible with science.

            Either's good with me, people can believe whatever they like as far as I'm concerned - but if they claim their faith is compatible with science and it isn't... I reserve the right to point that out.

      • sheila0405

        Pretty good. What I would expect from an atheist. That's why this is such a dicey subject among people who believe in "magic" (God) and those who do not. There will never be agreement. Believers get involved with theology as they try to work out their beliefs about our origins, while atheists use only science. Of course, science has its limitations, too. The real problem is that we weren't around to observe the actual beginnings of our universe, so we can only rely on clues (fossil records, astronomy). Neither side can disprove the other. So, as much as I respect Jimmy, I don't see these discussions as being helpful at all. It's in the area of what and how we teach our children in the public schools, paid by taxpayers, where we have to reach a conclusion about what's in the science texts. I think parents can teach their children about theological explanations at home. Science is not a threat to faith. For me personally, science reinforces my faith.

        • BenS

          Pretty good. What I would expect from an atheist.

          Thank you. I shall take that in the manner I think it was intended rather than the manner in which it came across. :)

          That's why this is such a dicey subject among people who believe in "magic" (God) and those who do not. There will never be agreement.

          Well, there can be agreement. Usually when a god or magic is left out of the equation. The scientific method is the best method we currently have to determine the way things are and the way things work. One of the key concepts is not to insert things into an hypothesis that aren't needed.

          When building an hypothesis about how weight applied to one end of a lever causes the other end to raise, one does not need to stipulate an invisible dragon doing the lifting.

          Same, in this case, with evolution. When the theory explains quite clearly how random mutation and natural selection can produce the things we see around us (and the evidence supports it) there is no benefit at all to introducing a guiding force whose actions cannot be seen and effects cannot be measured.

          Science is not a threat to faith. For me personally, science reinforces my faith.

          Science can be a threat to faith for some. For some, if the theory of evolution is true then it means no Adam and Eve, no Adam and Eve, no fall, no fall, no need for Jesus, no need for Jesus, no need for faith. You might not be one of those who follow that reasoning but they do exist and thus will do everything in their power to deny or subvert the theory of evolution because they view it as a threat. :)

          • sheila0405

            Excellent clarification. Thanks.

    • Hrafn

      Assuming this line of reasoning, why didn't God simply zap Adam and Eve with a lightning bolt after they 'fell', and try again with another couple, and keep trying until he got a couple that didn't 'fall', and use them as His basis for (soulful) humanity?

      The whole convoluted procedure doesn't seem to make any sense unless a 'fallen' human population is the desired outcome.

      • ZenDruid

        God couldn't do it again if he tried, because when he "breathed the soul into Adam", he transferred his soul force into Adam, and he never got it back.

  • sheila0405

    I was raised a young earth fundamentalist, but when exposed to rational science and evidence that the earth is, in fact, much older than I was taught, came to the conclusion that Darwin's natural selection made sense. It took years for me to do so. I am now a Catholic. Nothing in the science affects my belief that God was behind it all. For theists like myself, faith plays a large part of why I approach the theory of evolution the way I do. No one theory can absolutely prove how the universe in general, and earth in particular, came into existence. After all, no human being was present when it all started, and we have to rely on the clues (fossil records) left behind. I truly don't see what the fuss is all about. As Jimmy states, we are all human beings, and our existence is what we can see and touch in the present. How we got here is a fascinating endeavor, but what is most important is how we can make our human existence better while we inhabit this planet.

  • Paul K. Sulkowski

    Somewhere below, someone made the comment about not believing in the existence of the soul. I would present to you that there is evidence for a soul which can be accepted through observation.

    Often times people ask "what does it mean that God made us in His image?" I believe the answer is He gave us the ability to make decisions and self awareness. There are branches of Psychology which study these exact issues (and being a theist is not a requirement). While there are those who would dispute the existence of God, no one would dispute that as a species we have those attributes.

    The soul is that part of us where we exercise our self awareness. The debate on the existence of the soul could more accurately be phrased "does that self awareness continue after death?"

    I also fully believe in Jim Russell's posting trying to reconcile Catholic teaching with Evolution theory. I just would describe it as God actively co-ordinating evolution every step of the way towards the creation of humans. I had just wondered if I was holding a belief contrary to Catholic teachings.

    • BenS

      Paul, thanks for chipping in.

      While there are those who would dispute the existence of God, no one would dispute that as a species we have those attributes.

      The soul is that part of us where we exercise our self awareness.

      The evidence shows that some dolphins, apes and corvids appear to have self-awareness and demonstrate decision making skills too. But, apparently, thse don't have souls.

      I just would describe it as God actively co-ordinating evolution every step of the way towards the creation of humans.

      I have no problem with you describing it as such. The problem is when you try to show it. Evolution shows absolutely no sign of any active co-ordination at all, let alone towards a specific goal.

      I would present to you that there is evidence for a soul which can be accepted through observation.

      Apologies for quoting out of sequence but I was saving this until last because this is where I bang my little drum about evidence being scientific. You have not shown anywhere how one can 'observe' this soul or test for it, merely that some species have some attributes. This does not demonstrate a soul, nor that existence continues beyond death.

      You're welcome to pick up where Jim left off, if you wish. :)

      • Paul K. Sulkowski

        Do you have a different theory to explain our self awareness? What part of the human being controls this attribute? The reason I ask this is sometimes people have negative reactions because the word carries an unwanted connotation. For the purposes of this discussion I would see the terms "soul" and "consciousness" as synonyms. If you have reason to see my rephrasing of the debate concerning the consciousness/ self awareness extending after death, I would be more than happy to entertain how you define that debate.

        Thank you for bringing up other animals. I would wonder what evidence there is that dolphins are making their decisions on something greater than instincts. Instincts which give them actions which are option "A" or option "B" are still instincts. In your comment "appear to have self awareness" the word "appear" is the key. Just because they appear does not make it true.

        If we cannot have evidence that there is such a thing as a soul (i.e. "indirect" evidence such as decision making and self awareness)

        • articulett

          There is no evidence that consciousness of any sort can exist absent a material brain; if there was any such evidence, scientists would be testing, refining, and honing that evidence so that we could all learn more.

          As far as animals are concerned:

          http://io9.com/5937356/prominent-scientists-sign-declaration-that-animals-have-conscious-awareness-just-like-us

          There is no evidence that the immaterial beings you believe in are any more real than the ones you dismiss as myths.

        • BenS

          Do you have a different theory to explain our self awareness? What part of the human being controls this attribute?

          This is far outside my field of expertise (which is hookers and blackjack) and therefore I would await the commenting of someone more knowledgeable than I. Personally, I would say the brain. Regardless, we're not discussing self-awareness, we're discussing the 'soul'. If they were the same thing, we wouldn't need two names for them.

          For the purposes of this discussion I would see the terms "soul" and "consciousness" as synonyms.

          I probably would not. Were you to be hit very hard on the head*, would you be rendered unsouled?

          I would wonder what evidence there is that dolphins are making their decisions on something greater than instincts. Instincts which give them actions which are option "A" or option "B" are still instincts.

          The same also applies to us. Whatever method you're using to determine how we're making our decisions, we should probably apply to other animals. Given that we can't ask them (as we can another human being) it needs to be more sophisticated than that.

          In your comment "appear to have self awareness" the word "appear" is the key. Just because they appear does not make it true.

          Indeed. That's why I used it. I'm not leaping to conclusions based on a handful of studies. I want to see more experiments and more evidence. I hold myself to the same standards I hold everyone else and I endeavour not to imply certainty where it doesn't exist.

          If we cannot have evidence that there is such a thing as a soul (i.e. "indirect" evidence such as decision making and self awareness)

          I'm sorry, Disgust appears to have eaten the rest of this sentence. I'll try to answer what I think you might have asked anyway. If we cannot have scientific evidence that a soul exists then, to all intents and purposes, it does not exist. Decision making and self-awareness would be just that, decision making and self-awareness. Applying a new word adds nothing, especially when it implies or invokes other, unevidenced, connotations (like life after death).

          ---

          Edit: Amended this sentence to make it less confrontational.

          • Paul K. Sulkowski

            "If I were to punch you in face..."

            I could have a few comments on that one, but I'll stay on topic. Does something have to be fully operating for it to be recognized as "still there."

            If I were to "black out" do to a hit, this does not mean that I was "de-souled." No, just as a broken leg does not mean the person was "de-legged."

            Appealing to the exception to the rule does not disprove the normal situation.

          • BenS

            "If I were to punch you in face..."

            I could have a few comments on that one, but I'll stay on topic.

            I amended it almost immediately after I wrote it because my usual confrontational writing style is frowned upon here and I wish to play by the rules. It appears I did not moderate myself fast enough.

            Rest assured, it was not a threat, nor an attempt at intimidation, merely my usual provocative use of language to try and encourage people to think (by placing themselves in the given situation).

            Appealing to the exception to the rule does not disprove the normal situation.

            You said you were using soul as a synonym for consciousness. If you weren't, then don't claim you are as it just muddies the water. If you mean consciousness, use the word consciousness. If you mean soul, use soul - but define the word properly so we know what you're talking about. Saying soul means consciousness except for the times when it doesn't really goes nowhere towards advancing the discussion.

            Would you like to readdress my post with that in mind, please? :)

          • Paul K. Sulkowski

            Say "soul" when I mean "soul".... "consciousness" mean "consciousness"

            What if I believe that they refer to the exact same thing just with or without a religious bend to it... what word should I use then?

          • BenS

            What if I believe that they refer to the exact same thing just with or without a religious context to it... what word should I use then?

            The only difference is "soul" implies continuation after death. Consciousness does not have the same implication.

            You've just answered your own question. You can't believe they are the same thing when one implies life after death and the other doesn't. That's why we have two words. Use one or the other and get to the point.

    • Corylus

      The soul is that part of us where we exercise our self awareness.

      Good try, but I am afraid that this does not work. There are several reasons for this, one trivial one is that we do not tend to think of souls disappearing under anaesthesia, one fundamental one is that “self awareness” and “soul” are not synonyms as the unfortunate dualist can attest.

      Now you can counter that this is not your argument – and instead that both our 'souls' and our 'self awareness' have a common locale. (I saw what you did with the use of the word 'part' :))

      However, if you do this you not only open yourself to all of the traditional objections to dualism (i.e. where exactly this 'locale' is situated and how the 'stuff' in this locale effects the 'different stuff' outside of it) you also do something really rather grim to your idea of a soul. You make it secondary; you make it transitory; you make it a light that flickers instead of a light that burns.

      The debate on the existence of the soul could more accurately be phrased "does that self awareness continue after death?"

      I wonder whether you have just answered your own question on that one: in the negative.

      • Paul K. Sulkowski

        "You make it secondary"

        I don't see how I made it secondary. The body needs the soul and the soul needs the body. What tells my body what keys to type in answering your post "my mind/ my consciousness." Could my consciousness do it without the body?

        So, my consciousness could do nothing without my body. It could not go anywhere. OTOH, could my body could not do anything without my consciousness. WIthout my consciousness, where would my body receive its instructions?

        Some people would argue that the consciousness is in the brain. I personally think it is a non-sequator. It is within my body giving directions. That is the point.

        "have you just answered your own question.... in the negative"

        For those who believe in Heaven and Hell, then no, I did not answer my question is not answered in the negative. For those who don't believe in Heaven and Hell, it is answered in the negative.

        • Corylus

          "You make it secondary"

          I don't see how I made it secondary.

          You made it seemingly secondary when you defined a soul as "that part of us where we exercise our self awareness". I questioned you on that you now expand your notion of a soul to not just that, but to consciousness itself.

          Do you not see what you doing? In order to both keep your notion of a soul, and to convince others, you shift your definitions in response to prodding: changing what commonly accepted term onto to which you now wish to bolt your notion of the ethereal.

          It is rather like those that talk of god as the basis of all good in one breath and the source of energy another. Should I worship my gas cooker? Is it a source of 'good'?*

          What tells my body what keys to type in answering your post "my mind/ my consciousness."

          Your brain, interacting with the rest of your body, feeding back to muscles and tendons: recording actions, taking in external stimuli, filtering, evaluating, assessing, secreting. It is a marvellous thing. It is not magic, but it is wonderful :)

          So, my consciousness could do nothing without my body. It could not go anywhere.

          Here we agree.

          WIthout my consciousness, where would my body receive its instructions?

          Please consider the possibility that is a bit more complex that that. The 'instructions' that our bodies receive are part of a range that we can experience more or less consciously. When we think about how our attention varies we can see that it is not an either or thing. Some examples: an non-conscious reaction would be a deep tendon reflex (i.e. knee jerk) a more conscious reaction would be touch typing, an even more conscious reaction would be trying to hang a spoon off one's nose. Where does the soul kick in - with the typing or with the spoon?

          Some people would argue that the consciousness is in the brain. I personally think it is a non-sequator. It is within my body giving directions. That is the point.

          I must disagree. That is not the point, that is begging the question.

          For those who believe in Heaven and Hell, then no, I did not answer my question is not answered in the negative. For those who don't believe in Heaven and Hell, it is answered in the negative.

          I was trying to show you a possible consequence of your argument there. Of course, if you wish to believe in heaven and hell then the question itself can become an irrelevance.

          -=-=-
          * Well it is actually the source of good pies, as I like to bake, but I digress here :)

          • Paul K. Sulkowski

            "Do you not see what you doing? In order to both keep your notion of a soul, and to convince others, you shift your definitions"

            No. I didn't shift my definitions. I always had the same definition (remember when I said those words could be synonyms?). I kept the same definition, it is only now that you see what I meant by that. There is a difference.

          • Corylus

            (remember when I said those words could be synonyms?).

            [Goes back to check] Arh a comment to someone else I missed due to the accursed Disqus.

            OK, what you actually said was:

            For the purposes of this discussion I would see the terms "soul" and "consciousness" as synonyms.

            This is a prime example of what I was talking about earlier.*

            ... again,

            'For the purposes of this discussion' - why did you feel the need to bring in the word 'consciousness when you had the perfectly serviceable term 'soul' at your disposal? Please consider the possibility that you do this as you have noticed that eyes glaze over rather less when you add a non supernatural term to the mix.

            Let me be clear, I am in absolutely no way accusing you of dishonesty. What I am saying is that we stick with our habits that are reinforced by success. This does not mean that our habitual arguments are valid.

            You have a word: soul, in this type of discussion why not try to use it more in the context in which you wish to discuss it? Explain what it is; how it works; how it instructs a body; how it 'survives' both brain injury and death; how it endures, and how it gets born into another body.

            OK, maybe not that last one ;)

            N.B. Note to moderator(s) I do understand I am going a bit off topic here: apologies.

            -=-=
            *Setting aside the immediate question of whether words can be redefined as synonyms in one context but not another ....

          • Paul K. Sulkowski

            "I felt the need to bring in the term consciousness when I had the perfectly serviceable..."

            Simple, the term "soul" has a religious connotation to it. Consciousness does not. It is easy for those who do not believe in the supernatural to say "no" with an almost knee-jerk reaction. However, everyone will be more willing to accept consciousness as something which exists.

          • Corylus

            Oh Paul, you have just admitted that your word usage is a deliberate rhetorical ploy. I love words also, and use them to persuade where I can. I stop short however at using them to confuse.

            Let me show you:

            Simple, the term "soul" leprechaun has a religious magical connotation to it. Consciousness A red-headed chap in a green suit does not. It is easy for those who do not believe in the supernatural the magical to say "no" with an almost knee-jerk reaction. However, everyone will be more willing to accept consciousness a red-headed chap in a green suit as something which exists.

            Now do you see?

      • BenS

        You know, I've only just realised this morning that you were having pretty much the same conversation with Paul that I was... except you were utterly invisible to me due to the bizarre way Disqus works.

        • Corylus

          Yep - Disqus is tricky. It seems to assume that those using it cannot recall any long conversation made by other people - and helpfully blocks it all out for them.

          It is the ADHD of commenting systems!

  • Joe Ser

    I would like to submit another view - IDvolution.org Where faith and science intersect - God “breathed” the super language of DNA into the “kinds” in the creative act.

    This accounts
    for the diversity of life we see. The core makeup shared by all living
    things have the necessary complex information built in that facilitates
    rapid and responsive adaptation of features and variation while being
    able to preserve the “kind” that they began as. Life has been created
    with the creativity built in ready to respond to triggering events.

    Since
    it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on Earth have the
    same core, it is virtually certain that living organisms have been
    thought of AT ONCE by the One and the same Creator endowed with the
    super language we know as DNA that switched on the formation of the
    various kinds, the cattle, the swimming creatures, the flying creatures,
    etc.. in a pristine harmonious state and superb adaptability and
    responsiveness to their environment for the purpose of populating the
    earth that became subject to the ravages of corruption by the sin of one
    man (deleterious mutations).

    IDvolution considers the latest science and is consistent with the continuous teaching of the Church.

    • Hrafn

      I can see at least a few problems with your "view".

      1) A lack of any robust and scientifically-meaningful definition of "kind". The concept of kinds comes from Biblically-literalist Young Earth Creationism and has no scientifically-established meaning.

      2) Such DNA-'front-loading' arguments have been made in the past (most commonly by ID advocates). They do however run into a number of problems. The one that comes immediately to mind is that DNA for features that are not currently "turned on" will not be conserved via Natural Selection, but will instead be subject to random mutation, which would rapidly (in terms of the millions of years involved) turn the DNA in question into 'junk'.

      3) It is a well-established fact that not all mutations are deleterious. Numerous mutations are neutral and a few are positive. In fact, as many of the deleterious mutations don't even survive gestation, neutral and positive ones will tend to predominate among those observed in viable lifeforms.

      • Joe Ser

        1. We now see the potential of the genome to be able to more precisely classify life.

        2. We now know of around 500 or so highly conserved genes. From these "immortal" genes by switching and regulation all types of features can be turned on. This is preserved through the mother. We also now know that DNA actively through several iterations fights any mutations.

        3. Very few are positive.

        Computational Evolution Experiments Reveal a Net Loss of Genetic Information Despite Selection Chase W. Nelson, John C. Sanford

        Abstract

        Computational evolution experiments using the population
        genetics simulation Mendel's Accountant have suggested that deleterious
        mutation accumulation may pose a threat to the long-term survival of
        many biological species. By contrast, experiments using the program
        Avida have suggested that purifying selection is extremely effective and
        that novel genetic information can arise via selection for high-impact
        beneficial mutations. The present study shows that these approaches
        yield seemingly contradictory results only because of disparate
        parameter settings. Both agree when similar settings are used, and both
        reveal a net loss of genetic information under biologically relevant
        conditions. Further, both approaches establish the existence of three
        potentially prohibitive barriers to the evolution of novel genetic
        information: (1) the selection threshold and resulting genetic decay;
        (2) the waiting time to beneficial mutation; and (3) the pressure of
        reductive evolution, i.e., the selective pressure to shrink the genome
        and disable unused functions. The adequacy of mutation and natural
        selection for producing and sustaining novel genetic information cannot
        be properly assessed without a careful study of these issues.

        Read More: http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814508728_0014

        • Hrafn

          1) Again, what "potential for the genome to be able to more precisely classify life" are you referring to, and how does it support the idea of Biblical "kinds", as opposed the the concept of Universal Common Descent?

          2) "Highly conserved genes" are ***NOT*** evidence of front-loading, as to be conserved by Natural Selection, they would already be "switched on". Please provide evidence of conservation of *inactive* genes that have yet to be "switched on".

          3) 'Biological Information New Perspectives' was simply a private gathering of ID Advocates. It had no formal association with Cornell University (beyond renting a room off it), and the papers presented at it have no particular scientific standing. Any claims made by such a paper should therefore be treated with considerable skepticism (particularly given that they seem to be solely based upon the results of a single computer model).

          • Joe Ser

            My post disappeared. ahhhhhh

            1. The Barcode of Life project is one way.

            2. Let's start here. We find that the first life was very complex.

            Shock: First Animal on Earth Was Surprisingly Complex - http://www.livescience.com/4880-shock-animal-earth-surprisingly-complex.html

            then--

            Two leading biologists, Marc W. Kirschner of Harvard Medical School and John C. Gerhart of the University of California, Berkeley, present a new theory in The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma (Yale University Press, $30). Drawing on discoveries of the last two decades, Kirschner and Gerhart propose a new mechanism, "facilitated variation," that is both more subtle and more refined than random genetic mutation. "The organism as a whole is not a blank slate but a poised response system," they write. "It responds to mutation by making changes it is largely prepared in advance to make."

            http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/marc-kirschner-and-john-gerhart

            2a. Yes that is the point. The conserved core processes were there right at the get go.

            3. So?? We should discuss the claims.

          • articulett

            What do you think this means and why do you imagine that your jumbled hypothesis involving invisible supermen explains it better than evolution?

            Are you, perhaps, confusing the first ANIMAL with the first life?

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=universal-common-ancestor

          • Hrafn

            1) You provide no information on this "Barcode of Life project", let alone evidence that it provides credible support for your assertion.

            2) This would appear to be evidence of exaptation, not frontloading.

            3) Until its claims have been subjected to scientific peer review (as opposed to mere presentation at an ID meeting), I see no point in giving them any credibility. The internet is chock full of unpublished papers making bizarre claims.

      • Joe Ser

        One more thing.

        DNA news - now 80% is coding - down goes "junk DNA "

        http://idvolution.blogspot.com/2012/11/dna-news-now-80-is-coding-down-goes.html

        • articulett

          Wrong. The majority of the genome is junk DNA... some of it is ERVs and some of it is old pseudogenes (did you know humans have a gene for making egg yolk from their egg laying ancestors?)

          • Joe Ser

            Just about every month now function is found for these "non-coding" area. It will be hard to go further with you if you are refusing to acknowledge this. I welcome you to provide a recent source though.

          • Hrafn

            Yes, but given the vast area that is "non-coding", even filling a few of them with functions still leaves a very large area that is still "junk".

        • Hrafn

          DNA ***SPIN***, not news. ENCODE only got the 80% figure by using a definition of "functional" that was such a low hurdle that practically anything (even a 'dead cat bounce') would pass it. This is like defining a brain-dead patient on a ventilator as "functional" -- yes you can do it, but it makes no sense whatsoever.

          Also boosters of the 'no Junk DNA' claim have failed to explain why some simple organisms (e.g. onions) have far more DNA than some more complex organisms.

    • BenS

      I don't think anyone, anywhere has given a proper definition of 'kind'. It seems be to akin to 'looks a bit the same'. It also doesn't help that people who support kinds (baraminology) or creationism cannot agree on whether certain fossils are human or not.

      Given that the concept of 'transitional forms' is rejected by these people they should be able to differentiate between apes and humans. Of course, those who accept evolution have no problem with this sliding scale because we acknowledge they are transitional forms from our apelike ancestors.

      • Hrafn

        TalkOrigins have a good writeup (including helpful 'Creationist Classifications of Hominid Fossils' chart) supporting BenS's point at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/compare.html

        The division of humans into a different 'kind' from the great apes has always been the most arbitrary in baraminology -- the reason for it has never gotten beyond 'because the Bible says so'.

        • BenS

          Thank you. That was what I remembered seeing some time ago but couldn't remember where just off the top of my head. :)

          • Hrafn

            Google is your friend (I couldn't remember either). :)

          • BenS

            Yes, but I do also have work to do. Correcting the religious is fun but making money is more rewarding. These hookers don't pay for themselves! ;)

          • Hrafn

            ape+human+creationism->Google=Bingo. Took all of about 10 seconds. If you can pay for hookers in that time, either you're really overpaid or employing really cheap hookers. ;P

          • BenS

            Actually both. But you're right, I have no excuse. In future, I shall pay hookers to google for me, rather than relying on the generosity of strangers on the internet to shore up my arguments. Consider me suitably chastised. :)

          • Michael Murray

            Doesn't it cost more if you want to be chastised ?

          • Hrafn

            I'm quite happy to shore up your arguments for you if you'd pass the hookers onto me (even the cheap ones). As to the chastisement, I'm sure we'll soon have you whipped into shape.

      • Joe Ser

        We are now seeing the potential for the genome to be able to more precisely classify life. The current system will most likely be no longer useful.

        • Hrafn

          Please ellucidate:

          1) What "potential for the genome to be able to more precisely classify life" are you referring to, and how does it support the idea of Biblical "kinds", as opposed the the concept of Universal Common Descent?

          2) What are you referring to as "the current system", and what evidence do you have that it "will most likely be no longer useful"?

          • Joe Ser

            The biblical kinds refer more to types or higher categories. Like flying creature, swimming creatures. We are finding these gene switches that "turn on" wings, or legs. We soon will be able to map this and find the common areas. The "tree of life" has fallen and is now a bush. It is further entangled with HGT blurring what descends from what.

            A new definition of species - http://idvolution.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-new-defninition-of-species.html

            The current system - Linnaeus

            Science is provisional and when we find better ways we adopt them.

          • articulett

            You are terribly mistaken, and this is why it's hard to take you seriously. If we have DNA, we can get super accurate relationships between life forms, and when we don't have DNA we can use derived features from fossils to determine relationships. Currently there is a web project which amasses the huge amount of information being uncovered daily as genome analysis are done all over the world: http://tolweb.org/tree/ The current system is called "modern synthesis" Linnaeus is an outdated system... for example, alligators are genetically shown to be more closely related to birds than lizards and hippos are more closely related to whales than they are to any land animals. Linnaus didn't know about DNA.

            If you want to challenge science, you need to understand it first. You don't even seem to have the basics in regards to evolution. Then your hypothesis must be testable so we can know it's wrong if it's wrong --and we can accumulate data if it is correct. Then it needs to be the best explanation for all the data we observe-- better than the current model... and then it needs to be able to predict new evidence better than the current model.

            You don't even understand the current model. Biologos is an organization that tries to reconcile religion with evolution... perhaps you should peddle your ideas there.

          • Joe Ser

            The "modern synthesis" is being replaced by self organization as we speak. Lewontin has spoken on this. Now the odds are even harder to reconcile.

            Are we in agreement we may gleen more information from DNA to further refine classification?

            Is your claim the "tree of life" still stands?

          • Hrafn

            1) Your definition of "kinds" would appear to be untenable, as it places birds, bats & flying insects in one kind, whales, fish, turtles, most crustaceans and mollusks in another.

            2) You have provided no evidence whatsoever in support of your bald assertion that "the 'tree of life' has fallen and is now a bush".

            3) A single (apparently unpublished) paper is hardly sufficient evidence (it is barely any evidence at all) that "the current system will most likely be no longer useful".

  • lou barreto

    “WHO IS THIS ALIEN?”

    This Higher Power In The Universe

    Creation and Intelligent Design are one and the same and Evolution is a concept developed by mankind via Darwin's research. It seems like many individuals in the world want nothing to do with the Creator of the Universe as if He is some sort of kill-joy, some sort of Tyrant, some sort of myth, or some sort of Alien, “This Higher Power in the Universe.” There is a book about this Supreme intelligent being titled, Who Is This Alien ? This Higher Power in the Universe, “This Supreme Intelligence.”

    The book's about Intelligent Design concepts that are based on scientific discoveries. Hence, it is science and logic blending together forever to support the existence of a Supreme intelligent being, somewhere in the heavens. It’s great reading. It's very informative, very enlightening, including the author's personal
    experiences and visitations with this Supreme Intelligent Being.

    The book’s author brings up the subject of evolution. Concerning evolution, scientists at the Genome project and other scientists have concluded that there is an element of design built into creation that cannot be explained by evolution. No life form, be it a single cell, multiple cells or even evolutionary cells can exist without DNA. Genome scientist and other scientists have concluded that every life form is a product of DNA and the DNA molecule is a product of an intelligent source, a Supreme intelligence. No one on earth can explain the creation of the DNA Molecule.

    Genome scientist, Professor Francis Crick, and other scientists have come to a conclusion that the DNA molecule originated from some alien source in
    the heavens, some extra-terrestrial source, not from evolution, according to History channel documentary, “The Universe.”

    In conclusion, there is an intelligent life form beyond our galaxy, the 3rd Heaven, the third Universe. The Apostle Paul spoke about this third Heaven (2 Corinthians, chapter 12 verse 2-7, NKJ Bible). Many scientists at NASA and individuals such as Astro-biologist Robert Papplard are searching the heavens for extra-terrestrial beings; believing by faith that something is out there in the heavens. They will not discover that extra terrestrial being since it's in the third heaven, the third universe. There is no earthly technology to penetrate the third heaven. They will be surprised when this Supreme intelligent being reveals its identity to every scientist at the same time from east to west, north to south, including every human being on this planet-yes at the same time……….It will not be a secret.

    Check out this new book, written in layman’s term, titled, "Who is this Alien? It’s all about this Intelligent being, this supreme intelligent being, creator of the DNA Molecule with all of its genetic instructions and intelligence “ to build you- a product
    of DNA, a product of the Creator.”

    Check it out on:
    Ingram, Amazon, Barnes or http://www.kingdomcomeforever.ecrater.com

  • Hrafn

    I would suggest that Jimmy actually learn about Creationism before he expounds on the subject (a good place to start would be reading Ronald Numbers' 'The Creationists').

    What he describes as "Creationism" is actually *Young Earth* Creationism. There is also Old Earth Creationism, which includes such positions as Gap Creationism, Day-Age Creationism and Progressive Creationism. About the only thing distinguishing Intelligent Design from Progressive Creationism is that ID obfuscates the identity of its 'Intelligent Designer' (while admitting in friendly theist forums that this designer is in fact God).

    For this reason (and due to the fact that ID is almost exclusively made up of retreads of older creationist anti-evolution arguments), ID is widely regarded as itself being a form of Creationism.

    • Hrafn

      Incidentally, Young Earth Creationism isn't even the most extreme creationist position -- there are also Geocentric Creationists (including The Bellarmine Report, formerly Catholic Apologetics International) and Flat Earth Creationists.

      • BenS

        At what point, I wonder, do we decide that someone is so utterly lost in their own world of delusion that there's no point engaging with them?

        • articulett

          When they're preaching and unable (unwilling) to respond to questions, --then it's more fund (and productive) to talk about them then to them.

        • Joe Ser

          A very good point.

    • Joe Ser

      The identity of the designer is left to the philosophers. Science is incompetent here. ID, the science is simply looking for evidence of design.

      Does design exist?

      An Ode to the Code: Evidence for Fine-Tuning in the Standard Codon Table
      The Standard Codon Table (SCT) records the correlation observed in nature between the complete set of 64 trinucleotide codons and the 20 amino acids plus 3 nonsense (i.e. stop or termination) signals. This table was called a frozen accident by Francis Crick, yet current evidence points to optimization that minimizes harmful effects of mutations and mistranslations while maximizing the encoding of multiple messages into a single sequence. For example, a recent article with the running title “The best of all possible codes?” concluded that “evidence is clear” for the optimized nature of the SCT, and another study found that difficult-to-encode secondary signals are minimized in the SCT. Additionally, the initiating amino acid methionine has been found to minimize the nascent peptide chain's barrier to exit the ribosome. Moreover, the symmetry in the SCT between 4- fold-synonymous and <4-fold synonymous codons has been explained in terms of minimizing mistranslation. In this paper, the hypothesis that the finely tuned optimization of the SCT originates in external intelligence is compared to the hypothesis that its fine tuning is due to the adaptive selection of earlier codes. It is concluded that, in the absence of metaphysical biases against this hypothesis, external intelligence better explains the origin of the SCT. Additionally, this hypothesis prompts lines of inquiry that, 50 years ago, would have accelerated the discovery of the now-known features of the SCT and that, today, can lead to new discoveries.

      Read More: http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814508728_0018

      • Hrafn

        1) These "philosophers" you allude to would appear to be fairly close to every single ID advocate, as it is hard to find any of them that don't equate their 'Intelligent Designer' with the Christian God -- either explicitly, or implicitly (e.g. by equating ID with "the Logos theology of John's Gospel") at some stage or another.

        2) In no other context that I know of is an attempt made to claim an object to be the product of intelligent creation, without making some working hypothesis as to the nature of the creator, and thus its capabilities and purpose. I would suggest that it is such an incomplete and malformed hypothesis that is "incompetent".

        3) I'm not sure what relevance is of a paper presented to a private gathering of ID Advocates, who hired a room at Cornell to have their meeting.

        • Joe Ser

          One has to take the evidence where it goes. Say the designer is an alien that seeded the earth with life, we must then ask where did he come from and so on. Catholic philosophers take the shortcut right to God. Perhaps a Catholic definition would be in order - from the Catechism -

          34
          The world, and man, attest that they contain within themselves neither their first principle nor their final end, but rather that they participate in Being itself, which alone is without origin or end. Thus, in different ways, man can come to know that there exists a reality which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality "that everyone calls God".10

          The rules of this forum is to dispute the evidence presented. (no ad hominems)

          • BenS

            One has to take the evidence where it goes.

            Well, the evidence all points towards evolution through random mutation and natural selection. Why, then, are you going somewhere different?

          • Joe Ser

            Because this "evidence" is being challenged.

            I have already given several sources that challenge both random mutation and natural selection.

            This may be much harder though than I thought. I thought posters of this level would be keeping up with current science.

          • articulett

            I am a scientist and I teach science. I keep up with current science. You are scientifically ignorant.

          • Joe Ser

            Then you would know about Junk DNA being disproved. This is a really big one. For you to not know it is shocking.

          • Octavo

            You must be talking about the Encode debacle. Their press release was a little overenthusiastic. Junk DNA was definitely not disproved. A little googling on your part would be a good idea.

          • articulett

            Here's a good summary of the whole thing... http://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/student-voices/the_designers_detritus_encode_junk

            Creationists got excited because their god doesn't make junk-- right? (I don't know how they overlook deformations, massive suffering, all the embryos that just end up as food for other life, the massive amount of waste (trillions of sperm produced for each offspring?)--

            Do they ever wonder why real scientists don't take them seriously?

          • Joe Ser

            We don't. It is a consequence of sin. We also are learning that epigenetics play a part. In the old days science taught that smoking, carousing, drinking etc.. was not inheritable. We also know the human genome is deteriorating. You have 200 or more mutations than your parents.

            You must be referring to materialistic scientists only.

          • Joe Ser

            Indeed Encode is one source. ID predicts as time goes on more uses for the so called "junk DNA" will be found. And as time goes on that is what we are finding. We can wait though for each new function to be published fulfilling this prediction. You must know where this is heading though.

          • articulett

            Let me guess where you think it's heading-- to an invisible 3-in-1 invisible man named Jesus?!

          • Joe Ser

            Can you see any multiverses out there? Hmmmm.

          • articulett

            No. Every time creotards hear that some junk DNA has some use, they think this disproves their being junk DNA and imagines that it means their god stuck the junk in there for a reason.
            DNA just copies what is there... and sometimes useles stuff gets in the genome or mistakes are made-- and they get copied too so long as they aren't harmful to the organism's survival/reproductive success.

          • Joe Ser

            Yes - each and every time a function is found is fulfills the ID prediction.

          • articulett

            What is the ID prediction? One day we'll find that god created ERVS for a reason? That god leaves old egg yolk genes in our genome for fun...?

            I know it was a horrible blow to your god that there was so much junk in DNA, but rational people don't actually find it evidence of any invisible designer if some use is found for some of that junk. And the way use was defined was very liberal... but you don't really want to know the science... you just want to sort of understand the stuff that helps you keep your faith-- just like every other believer in the supernatural.

          • Joe Ser

            Don't really need it, but it is really cool when science finds stuff that does support God.

            The science I want to know is truthfully and correctly reasoned by humans (who are flawed). If science of today overturns yesterday's claims than they both cannot be true now can they? How do we know which one is really correct?

          • Andrew

            What kind of science work are you in, articulett? If you don't mind my asking, of course.

          • BenS

            Because this "evidence" is being challenged.

            Not by anyone credible. A few people spouting off is not a scientific 'challenge'.

            I have already given several sources that challenge both random mutation and natural selection.

            Actually, best I can tell, you've merely repeatedly spammed a blog URL.

            This may be much harder though than I thought. I thought posters of this level would be keeping up with current science.

            From what I can see, they do. They may not, however, keep up with the latest pseudoscience....

          • Joe Ser

            Ahh back to the "they are not credible" routine. Or there are only a few of them. Is this an argument from popularity? How many men does it take to discover a truth?

            Argue the papers and specific points of the links. Dismissing them out of hand is irrational.

          • BenS

            It's neither an argument from popularity nor from authority, just a simple observation.

            Also, I don't need to argue 'the papers' or run around dismantling every blog link you post. There are people out there that do this for a living. They're called scientists. THEY are more than capable of accepting papers, peer reviewing them and then publishing them in the relevant journals for wider scrutiny.

            One thing I have noticed is that very seldom do fringe groups try using the accepted practice to get their work reviewed and integrated into the current scientific understanding. Rarely do they submit their work for peer review. This is normally because the methodology is so poor and the conclusion so full of non sequiturs that the paper will be laughed at.

            Of course, they claim it's because the global scientific conspiracy is keeping them under heel but whatever makes them feel good, you know?

          • Hrafn

            ***NO*** Joe Ser, it is perfectly "routine" to demand legitimately peer-reviewed scientific research to back up claims, *particularly* claims that the scientific consensus has in some way been overturned.

            The internet is chock-full of cranks making bizarre claims -- alien abductions, conspiracy theories, miraculous 'scientific' discoveries, etc, etc, etc.

            It is perfectly rational therefore to refuse to accept claims that have not achieved a degree of scientific scrutiny and acceptance. This is ***NOT*** an "argument from popularity", it is merely relying on expert opinion on issues that are generally beyond the expertise of most laymen.

            If you are claiming sufficient expertise to evaluate them, then I'd ask you to provide the University, year and thesis-topic of your doctorate.

            Additionally, given the shear bulk of these (frequently bizarre) claims on the internet, it would be "irrational" to be prepared to "argue" ... [the] specific points" of every one.

        • Joe Ser

          Here we have an atheist defending ID -

          An Atheist defends intelligent design-http://idvolution.blogspot.com/2011/05/atheist-defends-intellignet-design.html

          • articulett

            Why are we supposed to care if an atheist defends ID? I care about what is true-- that's why I get my science fro scientists and not those who imagine themselves saved for believing certain unbelievable stories. Scientologists and Raelians are often atheists... but they believe in space alien designers.

            I know way too much about the genome to say it was "intelligently designed". But if I had magical beliefs I wanted to support I'd go with real scientists like Ken Miller or Francis Collins and I'd suggest Catholics do the same.

          • Joe Ser

            If you do believe in the god of BUC than it is much more magical than the Catholic God. I care what is true too.

            Give me your best argument as to why you believe the genome was not "intelligently designed"?

          • Susan

            >Give me your best argument as to why you believe the genome was not "intelligently designed"?

            The burden is yours to show that it is.

          • Joe Ser

            Oh here we go again. The same MO. I take it you have none then.

          • Susan

            >Oh here we go again. The same MO.

            I'm not sure what that means. This is basic stuff. You are making a claim and the burden is yours.

          • articulett

            ERVs, pseudogenes, tay sachs disease, epidermis bullosa, GLO gene mutations making anthropoid primates unable to make vitamin C like other mammals, the accumulation of junk DNA-- th list goes on. What you see is the result of billions of years of natural selection-- these are the winners-- the flies-- the e.coli in your gut, cockroaches, and all the people-- the presidents and pedophiles-- the obese and the deformed-- the brilliant and the neurotic-- the delusional and the sane... these all come from the long line of organisms who lived long enough to pass on their genes.

            I don't believe in any gods-- and your first "than" should be "then".

            If you care about what is true, you need to have a valid epistemology for getting at the truth. Faith is not such an epistemology. The scientific method, however, is.

          • Joe Ser

            Let's start with Junk DNA. This one isn't even controversial anymore. I won't touch the other one's until this basic one is acknowledged. (but I can and will address each and every one) You have to agree though if I present sufficient evidence you will accede to it.

            The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project involving 442 scientists from 32 different labs across the world described an entirely new picture of the human genome, changing forever how we will view our DNA and ourselves.

            ENCODE explored this attic using new tools to walk base-by-base through our genomes. The bottom line: nearly 80% of the genome carries information that is read out or, as the ENCODE papers call it, transcribed. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2012/junk-no-more.shtml

            Genomics. ENCODE project writes eulogy for junk DNA. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22955811

            Question? Do you agree science is provisional and subject to change?

          • and certainly not whaat one would expect from an omnipotent, omnibenevolent being!

            Could you describe the universe or the world that an all-good, all-knowing Creator would have created? You seem to be saying that if there really were a God who had created the world, the world would have to be a much better place. It sounds like if God did exist, you would find him reprehensible.

          • Joe Ser

            We know it as heaven. God who is love itself loved man so much he gave Him free will. (otherwise he would be a robot and incapable of loving God or others back)

            Catholics understand the word was created good and after the fall it became corrupted.

          • articulett

            How do you know?

            Is it possible that your religion's creation story is as wrong as conflicting creation stories by other myths?

            Is it possible that your god is as imaginary as gods of yore?

          • Joe Ser

            You do know what a myth means right?

            Nope, there is only one God. Different religions may have a different view of Him. Catholics have the "fullness of truth" on this issue. How do we know? How could we know? Your question is right on. We know, because He revealed Himself to us. It is the tie breaker.

            The imaginary gods of yore have been clearly shown to be that, imaginary. Try as you may and many before you have tried (and convinced themselves) to dismiss God, He marches on. I love my God, you love yours, the god of BUC. You have as much faith in yours as I do in mine. You place much faith in provisional science to find the truth as if it is the only way. Science being so provisional it surely is puzzling.

            I do believe though that a certain % of the population has a somewhat defective receiving mechanism, in that you are unable to experience Him. But if you truly open your heart and mind to Him you may.

          • BenS

            I love my God, you love yours, the god of BUC.

            Whilst I accept that it's a noble and proud institution, I'm still a long way from worshipping the British Unicycle Convention...

          • articulett

            --and though I trust them implicitly because they've earned my trust, I wouldn't say I have faith in them. :p

          • Joe Ser

            LOL

          • articulett

            How do you know there's 1 god? How do you know it's not 3-in-1 or 3 or 1000 or none? How do you tell this 1 god from the mythological gods? What about the Mormons-- they claim that god told them personally that the Book of Mormon was true-- and that if you read the Book of Mormon and pray, he'll let you know too! How do you know they aren't right? Have you tried their method? Maybe you're the one with a defctivegod receptor? How do you know this god is male? What makes it male? What is it made of? The Muslims think it's blasphemous to believe that god impregnated a virgin and had a son-- you don't believe their that god, do you? --Because the Muslim god is sending Christians to hell for worshiping Jesus as a god.

            I don't know what BUC is-- but I most certainly don't believe in any invisible beings of any sort-- not gods nor fairies nor demons nor ghosts. I don't need faith, and I don't consider faith to be a virtue. I look for evidence, and when I don't know something I don't pretend I do (unlike you). I will not be manipulated into belief by people promising me goodies after I die or threatening hell --because there is no consciousness without a living material brain.

            I reject your magical beliefs as being as unbelievable as all the supernatural stories humans have come up with over the eons to explain that which they did not understand.

          • Joe Ser

            Let start here: Every single religion on this earth was founded by a man except one, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

            Catholics understand God to be neither male or female. (If you want learn more one why He is referred to as Father we can deeper)

            Muslims, Jews, and Christians all worship the very same God, that is the God of Abraham. (It is questionable if Mohammed even existed. By all accounts he was a warlord, a violent one at that) Right Muslims only accept Jesus as a prophet.

            The god of BUC is the god of blind unguided chance. You know him well, from which everything came from nothing.

            Your claim is that no other dimensions other than the one's we live in exist? How do you know this for sure? I don't believe in fairies either.

            Every living thing has a soul. It is the animating principle. The difference is the human soul which is immortal. I look for evidence too and you really have no clue about my own journey to get where I am.

            Like a little child parents have to physically keep their little child from putting his hand in the fire. As he grows older he begins to understand. Children are taught faith facts and the love of God and Jesus early on. And yes hell is included. Why? When we become mature enough we love God for the sake of loving Him, being in friendship with Him. We look to the 10 commandments (by the way they are love commandments) to guide us to live joyfully and in harmony with HIs love. Just like every relationship we have a choice. To grow the relationship or turn our back to it. God being perfectly just will honor your decision.

            “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." C.S. Lewis

          • articulett

            Let start here: Every single religion on this earth was founded by a
            man except one, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

            Why do you believe this? Why should anyone else? I heard that Hinduism was founded by God (and it has a 3-in-1 god too.) I know this may be hard for you to accept-- but saying something doesn't make it true-- if if you really really believe it does.

            <blockquoteThe god of BUC is the god of blind unguided chance. You know him well, from which everything came from nothing.

            It sounds to me like you learned about evolution from a creationists. Creationists are unable to understand the basics of natural selection (I think they might be afraid that they'll go to hell if they do.) Let me guess... your indoctrinators told you that evolutionists think that every thing came about by chance. Well, real scientists don't actually think that. The variety of life is an emergent property-- like cities, and languages, ant colonies, ecosystems, and the internet-- when living things do as they are programmed to do, complexity evolves from the bottom up-- no designer needed. Everybody who uses the internet is a designer of it but no one is in charge of it and no one could foresee it. It would be as wrong to say these came about by chance as it was to say that they were designed by some designer who had their present form in mind.

          • Joe Ser

            Who did the programming?

          • articulett

            People... but when you are typing you are evolving language and evolving what the internet becomes and all your google searches add to their algorhythm and no one is in charge... and when Darpa made the first internet-esque connection they didn't imagine this... and no one knows what it will be even 10 years from now... and no one really knows everything about it now-- There is no designer... or maybe every one is the designer-- but it's amazingly complex and your bible writers migiht have considered it god.

          • Hrafn

            No. Christians worship a God-that-is-a-Trinity (a sort of half-baked polytheism -- as Muslims like to point out), whereas Muslims and Jews worship a God-that-is-not-a-Trinity. Further complicating this is clear evidence sprinkled throughout the oldest parts of the Old Testament that Judaism originally believed that there are other gods.

            Incidentally, Christianity was in fact founded by men -- just a bunch of men who never met Jesus. Paul (and the author of the pseudonymous epistles written in Paul's name) and the anonymous (Greek-speaking and highly literate) authors of the Gospels and Acts.

          • Joe Ser

            Imagine a die. It has six sides. Each side presents a face to you with a different # of dots. However, the entire thing is still a die.

            Sure, they believed in animal worship. It is very difficult to convince an obstinate people.

            Source for founded by men who never met Jesus?

          • Hrafn

            I've seen dozens of metaphors for the Trinity, none of which make it any more convincing. I rather suspect that the die-face one may lead to a view of the Trinity that has already been rejected as heretical.

            Strictly speaking I should have said "are highly unlikely to have met Jesus". Paul certainly never mentions having done so (and given how central Christ was to his writings, you'd think he would mention it if it happened). That the other authors did not can be surmised from the date (long after Christi's death) and milieu (highly literate and more familiar with Greek than Aramaic) of their composition, and from their derivative nature (which indicates that they are reporting hearsay, not eye-witness accounts).

          • Joe Ser

            If one is going to argue Catholicism they should know Catholicism. Paul met Jesus on the road. Matthews Gospel was written before 44AD, Luke before 54AD, Before 54Ad a copy of Matthews gospel is taken to India, Between 54 and 64 Luke completes Acts and John writes the Acopalypse, Peter endorses Lukes gospel using it in a series of talks, Mark issues a transcript of Peter's talks, Peter approves it, Lukes gospel published, Act issued and Joh writes 20 chapters of his gospel. 65 Mark issues larger edition of Peters talks, 96 John add his final chapter, the first recorded use off the word katholikos is found in in the letter of St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written about the year 110

          • Hrafn

            1) According to the Bible Paul ***HAD A VISION*** of Christ on the road, he did not "meet" him in any normal sense of the word.

            2) Your datings of the gospels are ***LUDICROUSLY*** early, even for tradtional/conservative estimates (which are themselves earlier than the current consensus).

            3) None of your claims about the events of the writing of the gospels (India, endorsement, transcript-of-talks, etc) appear to have any basis in contemporaneous documentation. It may be a "tradition", but such traditions include all sorts of things that both lack documentary evidence or any ring of historical credibility -- as has been acknowledged on a number of occasions by the Catholic Church itself I believe (e.g. Saint Catherine).

          • Joe Ser

            Christ spoke to Him in this vision. Your sense of the word "meet" is very limited as Catholics who experience Christ all the time know.

            Source for your datings?

          • Michael Murray

            “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done."

            Can I get that on a fridge magnet ?

          • Joe Ser

            If you have more customers I will begin producing them. Assuming they are not already available. LOL

          • BenS

            “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." C.S. Lewis

            "There are only two kinds of people in the end. The atheists who die and whose existence ends at point of death... and the theists who die and whose existence ends at point of death." - BenS

          • GreatSilence

            A dear old Jewish friend of mine loves to tell Christians that "All your Jesus needed to do to convince us, HIS OWN PEOPLE, was to walk out that grave and up to the temple. A simple walk, he need not have said a word."

            It is an interesting way of looking at how Jesus revealed himself, and how he could have chosen to do so.

          • Joe Ser

            Let's see, the Temple Curtain was wrent at His death. He presented Himself over and over to the Jews. He appeared to thousands after His resurrection. Surely there were Jews among them (since they were in Judea). There are always a certain amount that will always reject the truth. The Jews who converted became Catholics. Those that didn't remained Jews. Then you have Messianic Jews. Thousands came out of their tombs and appeared. Yet a certain number were obstinate and still are. Some of the High Priests were also converted.

          • Michael Murray

            I do believe though that a certain % of the population has a somewhat defective receiving mechanism, in that you are unable to experience Him.

            And another % has a tendency to religious delusion.

            See we can all be rude about our opponents.

          • Sample1

            I'm not fluent in the language faith, but I can recognize some accents. I suspect Joe thinks s/he is being loving, patient and kind.

            Mike

          • Joe Ser

            Not trying to be rude at all. God is experienced.

          • Hrafn

            Joe Ser:

            Have you ever heard of the Argument from Contradictory Revelations ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_inconsistent_revelations )?

            Muslims likewise "know" that Islam is the "fullness of truth" because Allah revealed himself to Muhammad.Mormons likewise "know" that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the "fullness of truth" because God revealed it to Joseph Smith, etc, etc, etc.

            *You* only believe that *your* revelation is the "tie breaker" because it happens to be *your revelation*.

            Others will likewise see your revelation as being the result of "a somewhat defective receiving mechanism".

          • Joe Ser

            If you do comparisons side by side each has various truths. But in the end only one rises to the top. Revelation is there for all to see, it is not MY revelation.

          • Hrafn

            It is the revelation that *you* personally favor, therefore it is not unreasonable to label it "your revelation". If I asked a Muslim, they'd say that the Koran is the "only one [that] rises to the top", a Mormon, the Book of Mormon, etc.

            That you yourself think that Catholicism contains the best relevation *only* means that you yourself are a Catholic, it does not contain any wider or deeper meaning about which revelation is best.

          • Joe Ser

            How would you go about figuring out which one has more truth? Let's step through it.

          • Hrafn

            The question only becomes meaningful if you accept that revelations contain significant levels of truth (more than you'd expect from some random writings of a bronze-age/medieval/early-industrial-age/etc tribe/sect/etc).

            I would expect anybody who accepted this view to already have a favored revelation and thus be incapable of making an unbiased assessment.

            Therefore the answer is either "Mine!", or "Who cares?"

          • Joe Ser

            So your claim reduces to - none of the historical writings of the past have any truth?

          • Sample1

            Robot love is coming. Maybe not this century, but love is in the heir of current AI.
            Mike

          • articulett

            I'd expect a perfect world-- wouldn't you? If there is one thing you would do better with such super powers, then it's not a perfect world. I, for example, would make sure no one had sexual attraction to children; I'd get rid of cancer, epidermis bullosa, Tay Sachs Disease, PKU, and all other diseases that cause suffering. No child would starve in a perfect world. No one's child would die in a Tsunami either. And I'd land hijacked planes safely- or take away the desire to hijack... or poof hijackers out of existence. Heck, if I was perfectI I'd make sure it was perfectly perfect for all entities that ever llived-- all heaven all the time for all beings. I certainly wouldn't knowingly make imperfect people and then punish them for their imperfections!

            Now you describe the world you would expect if there was no designer.

            If you had omnipotence for 24 hourse, don't you think you'd do something to make the world better? Or are wars, dying children, rape, and suffering fine with you? Wouldn't you at least cure someone's cancer and find one missing child? Why not cure everyone's cancer and find all missing children?

          • I'd expect a perfect world-- wouldn't you?

            I can't even begin to imagine what a perfect world would be like. The concept makes no sense to me.

            Why not cure everyone's cancer and find all missing children?

            Everything along those lines that I can think of would surely have unintended consequences. First, if you cured everyone's cancer, sooner or later every cured person would die of something else. I have known at least two people that I can think of who were in their 90s and were quite ready to die. It would be no blessing to cure a very elderly person of cancer when they were prepared to die, and in fact wanted to die. If you cured everyone in the whole world of cancer on a single day, it would be catastrophic for the many excellent cancer hospitals, which would have to go into some kind of stand-by until cancer again began to strike in the population. What would happen to all of the pharmaceutical companies who make cancer drugs and do cancer research? Also, cancer is the second largest killer in the United States, whereas heart disease is the largest. Why cure cancer and not heart disease?

            I have often wished I were omnipotent (and not just omniscient!), but the more I have thought seriously about what I would do, the less inclined I am to think I would work grand miracles. It would be tempting to somehow stop all the wars in the world, but there are violent conflicts (wars) because there are conflicts that are immensely difficult to resolve. If you can't solve the conflict somehow, I am not sure it would be helpful in the long run to stop the wars.

          • Hrafn

            Here we have a malformed URL. But even if you can find a (very small) number of atheists who support ID, what does it prove? You can generally find a least a few people who will simultaneously subscribe to all sorts of beliefs, no matter how contradictory.

  • JDC

    Having a great relationship with God will give you the opportunity to experience his mercy and greatness. It is nonsense to look for answers in those areas that human being can only reach a blind theory due to conditioned and limited mind.

    • Sample1

      Do you think these attempts at proofs are blasphemous? After all, without faith isn't it impossible to please the Almighty (Hebrews 11:4-6)?

      Mike

      • Michael Murray

        You want to watch out. JDC could stand for Jesus David Christ.

        • Susan

          I mean it Michael.

          I'm down to my last keyboard.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      >It is nonsense to look for answers in those areas that human being can
      only reach a blind theory due to conditioned and limited mind.

      Come again?

  • Ben

    Last time a Catholic asked me to join his "secret club" I was in primary school.

  • Jesuitical

    Evolution; is random and unguided
    Intelligent design; is not science, rather, it is religion often used to side step debate.

    • Joe Ser

      Evolutionism is philosophy.

      ID the science is science. It is the search for evidence of design which we all know exists. Or are you a design denier?

      • Jesuitical

        Joe, thanks for the earnest reply. Intelligent design is a device of 'creationist' to circumvent teaching of evolution as science. It was an attempt to get 'intelligent design' taught in science classes. The courts have determined that intelligent design is religion.
        If one so desires to employ the methods of science in a quest for evidence of God in design, that is a quest, not a conclusion as is intelligent design.
        I am somewhat confused by the term; 'evolutionism' as a believer in evolution. My position is that evolution is a fact of science, as a well established, accepted theory...evolution is not philosophy.
        thanks for the response

        • Joe Ser

          Whether or not it is to try and circumvent the teaching of evolution in the classroom is irrelevant if true.

          I cannot see how evolution has wiggled in though. Would you agree that we should only teach empirical science in the science classroom, that is observable, repeatable and predictable? Neither ID or evolution qualify.

          • articulett

            You are incorrect-- evolution is as sound as gravitational theory, heliocentrism, germ theory, atomism, cell theory, and every other scientific theory.

            Intelligent Design would be on par with teaching med students that demons cause disease... or teaching astrology in astronomy class.

          • Joe Ser

            Do some predictions for me.

            Gravity - Now I can observe, repeat and predict what will happen when I drop a ball.

            Demons can be manifested through disease. Catholic xcorcists though are very thorough in going through the steps to determine whether or not an actual possession exists. It is fascinating.

            Now I agree with not teaching astrology in astronomy class. This agreement is a start.LOL

          • articulett

            There is no more evidence for demons than there are for invisible penguins.

          • Joe Ser

            We are eventually going to have to get around to defining evidence.

          • articulett

            Yes-- you seem really confused about scientificevidence. In your world Christmas presents under the tree are evidence of Santa and missing children is evidence that demons are eating them.

            In science we devise tests that would show us we were wrong if we were on the wrong track. Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=921GVc81RtM

            In religion, you just twist all the evidence so it supports your faith. Like this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk6ILZAaAMI

          • Joe Ser

            Both claims can be investigated.

          • Joe Ser

            Any evo predictions yet?

          • articulett

            Tiktaalik

            Naked mole Rat
            https://soundcloud.com/damn-interesting/the-mole-rat-prophecies

            Forensic Testing

            Flu shots

            Heck-- even DNA itself-- Darwin figured something was being passed on from parents which determined traits in offspring.

            In genetic counseling we use Mendel and the Hardy Weinberg Equation For Genetic Equilibrium to make preditions all the time.

            Moreover, all the evidence we gets fits perfectly-- we never find a feather on something that wasn't on the branch that evolved feathers or whatever other derived characteristics we look at... we don't find genes that evolved after a split on any of the descendents of a differentiating species but we find all the genes shared at the time of the split.

            And then there's this:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

            Meanwhile, creationists have to run around and explain why things don't look like they were designed very intelligently-- By the way, what is your explanation for the our chromosome 2 fusion that shows 2 ape chromosomes fused-- whimsy of the designer?

          • Joe Ser

            What predictions do they make?

          • articulett

            It all flew over your head, eh?

            Well, we can predict that we can tell how closely to organisms are related by looking at the DNA--

            Moreover, theey will share all the ERVS that came before speciation, and none that came after... in this way we can continue to construct an increasingly accurate tree of life.

            All of our DNA testing is based on evolution. When we do crime scene analysis we look at junk DNA because most of the genes ar the same-- mutations build up faster in useless DNA because they don't matter in noncoding DNA and this allows us to tell us who left DNA at a crime seen?

            Say, what can ID predict? Can it explain what evolution explains better than evolution? Why would an intelligent designer fuse two ape chromosomes while evolving humans do you suppose? Can you pray and find out whether Neandethal's shared this fusion?

          • mally el

            DNA is part of the design, and so is our ability to adapt and accommodate the changing environment. This does not mean that there is a change in kind.

          • articulett
          • Athanasius De Angelus

            Well, where are the evidences of the "transitional species"?

          • David Egan

            Look in the mirror. Look outside. Everything is a transitional species. Evolution is constant.

          • mally el

            Not really. I do agree that we grow, develop or degenerate. If this is your evidence of "transitional species", then you have none.

          • Susan

            >If this is your evidence of "transitional species", then you have none.

            What do you think evidence of a transitional species would look like?

            What do you think a transitional species is?

          • BenS

            Yes, really. Just denying it doesn't make it go away.

            If you're asking for 'transitional species' then the very question shows you do not understand evolution. Please, do yourself a massive favour and get a very simple introductory book on evolution. Once you've read that you will then understand why asking for transitional species makes little sense. Everything alive and everything that was ever alive is a transitional form. It's transitional between its ancestors and its descendents.

            If you do understand evolution and STILL reject the evidence then please, write a paper and submit it for peer review. Your Nobel prize awaits.

          • Michael Murray

            BenS is correct. Here is a simple thought experiment. Imagine all your female or male ancestors standing in a line behind you. They will stretch back to single-celled organisms which are enormously different to you. But each of them will not look that different to their parent or child or grand parent or grand child. All changes are very gradual.

          • articulett

            You will die the same species you were born as... and you were born to someone who is the same species as you... your offspring will be the same species as you too.

            Just like you speak the same language as your parents and your child speaks the same language as you-- but the English of 1000 years from now will have evolved... and your English is a transitional "species" between Old English and future English. It's the information that evolves-- not the organisms that transmit it.

          • Michael Murray

            Language. That's a nice example.

          • BenS

            That's an excellent example.

          • Michael Murray

            Except evolution has no direction of improvement whereas all languages improve until they become Strine:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strine

          • BenS

            C'mon mate. Don't come the raw prawn with me!

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            Your NEW theory is not what Darwin postulated. It is David Egan CLOWN theory, I must admit that it is a fun theory though! It is MAKING UP new theory to cover up for Darwin's stupid theory because the SEDIMENTATION AND FOSSILIZATION DID NOT REVEAL TRANSITIONAL ORGANISMS. However, David Egan's theory is A SUPER FUN THEORY!!!!!!!
            Tell me more, Master Yoda!

          • articulett

            Which 2 species are you looking for a transition between and what would you accept as evidence?

            Remember, species today did not evolve from other species alive to day-- they share common ancestry. with those species and the transitional species are between the common ancestor and the current species. Here's a recent example: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/may/29/early-bird-dawn-archaeopteryx-aurornis-xui

            As you may know, birds descended from a branch of dinosaurs-- this is a very nice transitional species fossil

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            Then do pray to your god of "random mutation" to reveal to us the locations of the transitional species. So where the hell are they?

          • Susan

            Hi Athanasius,

            Those links you were provided should help you get started on the subject.

            Looking into them would demonstrate that you're really interested in the facts about things, rather than in wagging your bum at something you have no grasp of.

            It would also mean that if you did come back with questions on the subject, those questions might make sense.

            Until then, there's not much to discuss.

          • mally el

            You are quite rude, aren't you?

          • Susan

            >You are quite rude, aren't you?

            I hope not. What did I do?

          • articulett

            You didn't defer to his/her beliefs??

            I don't think this is the forum for creationists anyhow-- most Catholics accept evolution.

            If they're asking about transitional species they are fundamentalists who think god poofed everything as is... they should have a Catholic explain to them why asking for a transitional species is creotard speak for "I don't understand evolution... and I believe my salvation depends on believing that god "poofed" creatures into existence as is."

          • Andrew G.

            About a third of US Catholics reject evolution.

          • articulett

            Completely? Or do they go for Behe's muddled understanding? This might be true for the US-- but surely not for Catholics around the world! http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/imagebuzz/terminal01/2009/3/13/16/acceptance-of-evolution-by-country-17573-1236974861-5.jpg

            Italy has a very high acceptance rate (The US hovers on the bottom next to Turkey which doesn't accept evolution due to Muslim fundamentalism. The countries which score the highest in math and science are at the top.)

            Where did you get your numbers? That's really sad if it's true.

          • Andrew G.

            I should perhaps have qualified it as human evolution - source is the Pew 2008 survey results quoted by Rosenhouse in Among The Creationists. But a matching number for evolution generally is found in the Harris 2009 poll, which has figures of 51% evolution / 37% creationism for Catholic respondents.

          • articulett

            I knew a Muslim Biology teacher like that-- he believed in evolution EXCEPT when it came to humans.

          • Andrew G.

            Incidentally in the Pew results, the rejection of evolution was lower in Catholics than in any other Christian sect; only Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics did better. (Muslims did not.)

            So I think rejection of evolution amongst US Catholics is more a matter of cultural pollution from the evangelical fundamentalists, rather than anything to do with Catholicism as such.

          • So I think rejection of evolution amongst US Catholics is more a matter of cultural pollution from the evangelical fundamentalists, rather than anything to do with Catholicism as such.

            I think so too. I did not expect that when we came here, where the religion accepts the Theory of Evolution, we would have to type in basic facts about evolution that are expected to be known by your average Catholic 12 year old going to school in France.

          • Michael Murray

            Interesting. Compare it to this graph

          • One hundred per cent of Catholics reject evolution, as the word is employed by atheists.

            Catholics are, mystifyingly, permitted to accept evolution just so long as God is understood to have intervened in the process at a certain point.

            This is a very strange thing, since it is unsatisfying as science, and grossly contrary to the Catholic world view which has nourished civilization since the fall of Rome.

            But there it is.

          • If they're asking about transitional species they are fundamentalists ...

            Usually so. I always ask what they think "transitional species" means, first time they mention it, so as to make sure they aren't thinking about a crocoduck.

          • articulett

            Yes, and wasn't it some guy here asking about the evolutionary path between a fly and a giraffe.

            I try to start them with horses and zebras... even creationists can tell they are related or dogs and wolves-- just so they can get the concept of what a species is. Most creationists think they understand evolution but they haven't got a clue... just a muddled mess dumped into their heads by the likes of Hovind or whatever-- I wonder what will happen to their faith if they ever understand evolution?

          • ... but they haven't got a clue..

            I think a South Park episode explained it to them.

          • articulett
          • mally el

            I have no problem with micro-evolution. If macro-evolution is ever scientifically proved I will accept it - no problem.

          • Michael Murray

            I have no problem with micro-evolution. If macro-evolution is ever scientifically proved I will accept it - no problem.

            Let me just quote from wikipedia:

            Contrary to claims by creationists, macro and microevolution describe fundamentally identical processes on different time scales.

            I suggest a visit to your local museum. Have a look at the fossils.

          • mally el

            Why poof? Just because there are no transitional species?

          • articulett

            I have come to the conclusion that you are a home-schooled 14 year old. I will not be engaging you any more. It's my summer vacation, and I'm not being paid to undo the damage your indoctrinators did to you. The information is all over the web should you ever decide to get a clue. And more is amassing daily. (Say, did you miss this fabulous transitional fossil I linked... http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/may/29/early-bird-dawn-archaeopteryx-aurornis-xui --did you see there are more mentioned on the bottom??)

            All those responses in regards to transitional species and they just flew right over your head-- all that wasted time for a person who asked a dishonest question because s/he thought that scientists don't have an answer and therefore the one that their indoctrinator dumped in their head must be the truth.

            Let's remind everyone here-- YOU don't even know what you mean by transitional species. You don't even know what a species is

          • mally el

            I have studied science. I do understand what is meant by transitional species, species and also kind.

          • articulett

            I think YOU are rude-- you ask questions you don't really want the answers to and you pretend to know things you don't actually know.

            Moreover, you are obnoxious to the people who would take the time to give you a clue. Doon't take my word-- here's a Catholic who is an expert on evolution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

            He writes biology textbooks and you would sound much smarter if you paid attention to them.

          • mally el

            Wrong. I do read the answers. Just because I find them to be inadequate does not mean that I di not read them. I have read quite a bit about evolution and would like to have real evidence provided.

          • mally el

            How do you judge that Athanasius is not interested in what you provide. What make you feel that he is wagging his bum.

          • articulett

            Years of dealing with creationists...

            I guess you guys are unable to see how transparent you are.

            Are you a young earth creationist? You write like you are in your early teens, are you? Try honesty-- it's one ofthe commandments, I hear.

          • BenS

            Not to be snarky, but you realise that when we say 'read about evolution' we don't mean 'read Answers in Genesis'? We mean read some science books on the subject...

          • articulett

            What have you read other than creationist literature. You don't seem to understand even the basics! And what would you consider to be evidence? Would any amount of evidence convince you that the biblical account of creation is not true?

          • mally el

            I do not need scientific evidence to be convinced of the biblical story of creation.

          • severalspeciesof

            Articulett, I think you mixed mally el with Athanasius regarding knowledge of evolution?

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            "Those links you were provided.." Please leave out the "were". Why don't you learn basic grammar rules before lecturing me. It should be: Those links YOU HAVE PROVIDED. Why don't you go back to school and take an English class! LOL!

            Oh, by the way, The 1980 Conference on Macroevolution held in Chicago was a historic event for their were notable scientists such as John Maynard Smith (Britian's foremost evolutionary biologist). There were also other paleontologists, evolutionary biologists, etc., at the conference. So instead of saying "who are these people" why don't you learn a little history yourself? So you think you're smart, not really!

          • "evolution is as sound as gravitational theory"

            Uh oh.

            I didn't know things had gotten that bad for the evolutionists.......

            since we are now reduced to adding in 99% of the mass/energy of the universe by hand, in order to bridge the otherwise-insuperable gap between theory and observation, concerning gravity on scales larger than a stellar cluster.......

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            He is, in fact, mistaken. Evolutionary theory is MUCH more sound than gravitational theory. And your comments about cosmology have nothing to do with gravitational theory.

            If you are going to discuss science, I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with the basics before writing. It will avoid the hundreds of posts of correcting you that will ensue.

          • I apologize for an insufficient exactitude in the above post- the most recent scientific experiment, Planck2013, reports that the percentage of the mass/energy of the universe that must be added in by hand in order to bridge the otherwise-insuperable gap between gravitational theory and observation is 95.1%.

            That is appreciably better than 99%.

            I apologize for the inexactitude.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            ID does not qualify. Evolutionary theory does.

      • articulett

        According to scientist, Carl Sagan, evolution is a fact: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvMoC1M-GYw

        According to Dover v. Kitzmiller Evolution is also Science, while ID is creationism (religion) desguised as science.

        • Joe Ser

          You have faith in a judge to rule this? He can rule whatever he wants, doesn't make it so.

          • articulett

            I don't need faith-- the only people who disagree are religious nutters who believe that they will be tortured forever if they don't believe a particularly crazy creation story (involving a talking snake).

            When you have evidence you don't need faith.

          • Joe Ser

            If I can show you dissenting atheists scientists what will you call them?

            I have an issue with the a priori positions your side takes.

          • BenS

            If I can show you dissenting atheists scientists what will you call them?

            Wrong.

          • articulett

            There are Raelians, Truthers, people who believe we are in a simulation (trans humanists), Scientologists, and others who are atheists but believe in some sort of alien design or panspermia or matrix type scenarios-- but I don't run across them much-- I stick with skeptics and scientific sorts.

          • BenS

            ...but I don't run across them much...

            Then stick it in reverse and try to get them on the way back. :p

            It's true that there are atheist scientists who disagree but they all seem to want to stuff something else in there - equally unevidenced - as well. If not god, then an undetectable computer simulation, an undetectable alien designer etc. Always something the theory has no need for, no space for and no evidence for. I don't give them a free pass if their science is faulty just because they're atheists.

            These days, I too tend to stick around skeptics and scientific sorts. It's all well and good delighting in the variety of views people have but when you've got someone across the dinner table from you flicking your 'bad auras' away it's time to reassess your circle of friends.

            That's why I like discussing the topics on forums like these. When I've had my fill, I can close the window and all these people just fade away...

          • Michael Murray

            If I can show you dissenting atheists scientists what will you call them?

            I think you don't understand how science works. It doesn't depend on every scientist agreeing to everything it depends on a consensus. The better the consensus the more we would regard the result as true. There will always be dissenters. Particularly in politically charged areas like id or agw.

            I have an issue with the a priori positions your side takes.

            Like what ? Mostly scientists don't take a priori positions they take positions based on either other scientists consensus or they do the experiment and examine the evidence.

          • BenS

            Mostly scientists don't take a priori positions they take positions based on either other scientists consensus or they do the experiment and examine the evidence.

            And just to add to this, if I may, the position based on other scientist's consensus isn't just 'going along with the popular opinion' because the scientific consensus is based on all the other scientists who've done the experiments and examined the evidence.

            It's experiments and evidence all the way down.

          • Michael Murray

            Good point. I guess the other point worth making in a place like this is that scientists want to disagree. The system is set up to reward those who challenge and test existing theories. Otherwise science won't work. So if you want a tenured high salary job at a top university or you want that Nobel Prize go and show something we thought was true is false or discover something new.

            Science isn't a conspiracy to protect existing knowledge from challenge as so many seem to think.

          • It is a conspiracy to keep from fooling ourselves.

          • Heh heh heh.

            We can reasonably expect we have been fooling ourselves for quite a while when we are confronted with a cosmology which requires that the universe be composed 99% of entities never observed, after having smoothed out all evidence of its alleged curvature by means of an inflaton whose particle-physics identity is completely unknowable, and which is expanding at a rate which is one hundred and twenty orders of magnitude off the predictions of the quantum theory.

            I love science, when it is actually science; that is, the method whereby we ceaselessly subject everything we think we know to crucial experimental test, *with the intention of possibly falsifying it*.

            The drastic contradictions which confront our physics at this moment are good news for scientists, but bad news for atheists.

            The scientists know that science is not a religion, or a body of knowledge, but instead a method which ceaselessly overturns bodies of knowledge.

            This is its most excellent characteristic.

            The atheist poignantly seeks to elevate science to a religion, which is a bad idea.

          • Joe Ser

            |The atheist poignantly seeks to elevate science to a religion, which is a bad idea.|

            They have, but won't admit it. Like I posted before - one can worship God or they can worship the god of BUC. Both have faith, only one admits it.

          • BenS

            Science isn't a conspiracy to protect existing knowledge from challenge as so many seem to think.

            Absolutely. If someone could substantially disprove evolution their name would be lauded and it would be Darwin's that fades away.

            What those who claim the 'scientific conspiracy' to protect evolution at all costs seem to forget is that evolution wasn't always the dominant theory on the subject...

          • Joe Ser

            But is is the current fad.

          • articulett

            Yes... if a theory is falsifiable (that is, evidence should show that it's wrong if it is wrong) and the evidence keeps piling in supporting the idea with none of the evidence contradicting it-- then you know you are on the right path. And a good theory leads to more and more evidence from which you can find out more.

          • Joe Ser

            If the research is always in the target area what hope is there you will find anything else?

          • Joe Ser

            Politics has invaded. You want grant money? don't stray.

            You want to keep your tenured job? Don't rock the boat.

            It isn't a purposeful. Most just go along for the ride.

            They have to eat. I want a grant? Go where the money is. So the target narrows and everyone is staying in the target area, so much research is just confirming what is already in the target area. We should admire those willing to go outside the target. And yes, be tough on them, but just don't dismiss them.

          • Michael Murray

            We should admire those willing to go outside the target. And yes, be tough on them, but just don't dismiss them.

            Sure. That's why we give tenure so people can stray. It's always going to be a balancing act. Do you want scientists spending all their time carefully studying ideas from crackpots or you do want them getting on with their own ideas? That's the other side of the coin.

          • Joe Ser

            We can name quit a few so called crack pots that made tremendous contributions.

          • Michael Murray

            We can name quit a few so called crack pots that made tremendous contributions.

            Yes. Yes. Yes. I agree completely. But the converse is not true. It is not true that just because X is a crackpot and challenging the status quo with radical ideas that X is a genius. Worse than that the statistics are skewed wildly towards X just being a nutter. So how do you find the geniuses ?

            In a field like physics everyone regularly gets long pdf files full of gibberish purporting to be the ultimate unified field theory. What do you want them to do ? Turn off the large hadron collider and read them all ? Most people use a rule of thumb like this one

            http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html

            I thought your previous comment

            be tough on them, but just don't dismiss them

            had it about right. But don't underestimate the very real lost opportunity cost to science of good scientists reading the "crackpot" papers and responding to them.

          • Joe Ser

            We are in basic agreement. I think that tough, fair and respectful debate is good.

          • Joe Ser

            Really? Take a survey of every scientist and ask them how many of the base experiments did they actually do?

          • BenS

            I'm starting to think you're just trolling now. Science is built on science. If an experiment has been done in the past, verified in the past and validated as being the current understanding then you don't have to redo it yourself personally just to check. You can, if you like, and some people do - it happens every day in school classrooms - but if it's already been accepted, peer reviewed and tested to death in the past then it doesn't need to be done by every scientist before they build on it.

            Otherwise, science would hit a point where it stalled - because every scientist is spending all their time rolling balls down inclined surfaces and slinging them off the Leaning Tower of Pisa rather than accepting that Galileo had done it quite some time ago and people have checked the findings since then.

          • Joe Ser

            Sure, for gravity. The only point I am making is knowledge is built upon knowledge. But when someone wants to go back and check some basics you would object? Or are you just willing to go along with it? Then you have to ask - are you really a skeptic?

          • BenS

            But when someone wants to go back and check some basics you would object?

            ...

            you don't have to redo it yourself personally just to check. You can, if you like, and some people do

            You know what would help? Reading my posts. Might stop you asking questions I've already answered in the very post you're replying to.

          • Joe Ser

            J Harlen Bretz was a lone voice for years. Ridiculed and ostracized. The consensus said he was wrong. 50 years later he is vindicated.

          • Joe Ser

            So science now is a voting proposition? And if one guy stumbles upon the truth he is out-voted? What kind of science is that?

            What if a particular consensus is based on one faulty assumption that everything else is built upon?

          • Michael Murray

            So science now is a voting proposition? And if one guy stumbles upon the truth he is out-voted? What kind of science is that?

            It's not out voting. It's demonstrating you are correct. If you are trying to over turn an existing well established field you have to show that you are correct and explain why all the other evidence is wrong.

            What if a particular consensus is based on one faulty assumption that everything else is built upon?

            Taken over the longer term the structures of science stop this happening. Even with the politics and the tenure system there are still enough rewards for being correct rather than just following the pack.

          • Joe Ser

            Good - so we should keep the pressure on and insist on science's due diligence.

            I am open to hearing though exactly what protections have been put in place.

          • Michael Murray

            I am open to hearing though exactly what protections have been put in place.

            The best thing remains tenure. Sure you will tenure some people who are a waste of space but the competition is pretty fierce so that mitigates against it. Tenure means people can take time to work on difficult and unusual things. (See my last paragraph though.)

            The next best thing is still the emphasis that scientists are rewarded for being correct and rewarded for challenging the system. Sure some follow along established paths which is fine but it is still a fact that the high flyers are expected not to do that. Promotion guidelines where I work still talk about someone establishing an area of research as their own.

            Against that is publish or perish and get grants or perish. The emphasis on publishing and getting grants is a lot higher now than when I started 30 years ago. So you get all the bad effects you cited before. Plus you get a lot more shonky journals just out to make money and lower quality refereeing. So the literature becomes less reliable and full of dross. But there is little "science" can do about this it's a political problem by which I mean government problem not internal scientific politics.

          • Joe Ser

            Tenure as far as I know only exists in academia. Can't we do research outside of academia?

            Indeed, notoriety brings in more money and prestige, but the money to pay the bills comes in the form of grants that are "safe".

            I submit that we may have a case of confirmation bias going on. I think it goes beyond just politics or government. Even peer review now had issues.

            A case of government imposing its will is the ID case as other posters have brought up. Now we have science being decided by a Judge? That cannot be good, but another poster used it as evidence. What if tomorrow another judge overturns the ruling. The same people will cry foul.

            I propose we fund more "independent" research. To really get to the truth all of it must be put in the pot and analyzed. A priori exclusions do not do science justice.

          • Michael Murray

            If someone really wants to make a disinterested grant to funding research that's great. In my area look at

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_Mathematics_Institute

            or

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Harris_Simons

            But often private research comes with an agenda like commercial profits or a political agenda like ID or the Templeton Foundation or cigarette companies. So it's often harder for those kinds of organisations to leave the scientists alone to pursue the truth.

            Universities are more likely to just leave scientists alone as they care less about what is discovered as long as something good is discovered. My University would kill for a Nobel Prize they wouldn't care what it proved or disproved.

            I'm staying out of the ID stuff as it's happening in some strange foreign country :-)

          • Joe Ser

            I got an idea. More research on the UPB. You think you could get grant money?

          • Michael Murray

            What's UPB ?

          • Joe Ser

            Universal Probability Bound

          • Joe Ser

            There is another challenge to tenure. That is peer pressure. There are a few recent examples when you want to go outside the current paradigm.

          • So far, tenure is the worst way to do it, except for all the others. Often the new work is held back waiting for the next funeral. I wonder if it will keep going when life extension makes getting tenure an even better deal for the old timers.

          • Joe Ser

            Call me skeptical.

          • mally el

            It is science according to his interpretation.

          • mally el

            People's experiences and revealed information is as good as evidence for many people.

          • BenS

            As evidence goes, 'revealed information' is absolutely terrible.

            If someone has it 'revealed' to them that flames will not burn them - then douses themselves in kerosene and lights a match - it's often a little late for their 'experience' to provide the evidence to the contrary they could really have done with earlier.

          • mally el

            But if it is revealed to them that flames do burn then they would - or should - be careful. It would be disastrous if they were to say that that this revealed information is a fairy tale.

          • BenS

            Right, then we need to come back to what YOU mean by 'revealed information' because my understanding is that 'revealed information' is information they believe is passed to them by their invisible friend.

            Which is an interesting diversion but doesn't change my comment one bit. If the information is just revealed to them by a friend that flames won't burn them, how do they go about assessing this to determine if it's true?

          • mally el

            Invisible and also visible. Jesus, we know, was visible, tangible and audible.

          • Michael Murray

            If he wasn't just a myth of course.

          • BenS

            How about you address the meat of my post rather than a single word, isolated word? You've managed to completely ignore everything of value and comment with something that contributes absolutely nothing.

            Go back and try again.

          • mally el

            I thought I responded to a very critical point in your response

          • BenS

            Then you thought wrong. Address the second paragraph.

          • Joe Ser

            There is not a real historian who denies the historical Jesus. He was not invisible.

          • articulett

            Yeah... it seems to be a glaring lack of judgment for an omnipotent being who wants to be "believed in" to be indistinguishable from a burning bush or a schizophrenic delusion: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/women/women_killers2/9.html

          • You seem to be quite confident that you would know how to run the universe if you were God.

          • Joe Ser

            Anytime I ask them to show me how it should be done they essentially describe heaven.

          • Joe Ser

            Everything you believe in has been revealed to you by someone else.

          • BenS

            *sigh*

            Which is an interesting diversion but doesn't change my comment one bit. If the information is just revealed to them by a friend that flames won't burn them, how do they go about assessing this to determine if it's true?

          • Joe Ser

            Authority and trustworthiness.

          • BenS

            Yeah, that worked out well for everyone in Jonestown....

          • Joe Ser

            Your claim is Jim Jones was trustworthy?

          • BenS

            Obviously... to the people who trusted him. Ergo, trusting someone is a poor way to determine whether something they suggest / command is going to hurt you.

          • Joe Ser

            Then you need to go back and redo every experiment for yourself. Authority and trustworthiness go hand in hand. It has been pointed out it has come from accumulated knowledge. The Catholic proposition comes with the authority and trustworthiness of accumulated knowledge, specifically human nature.

          • BenS

            You're absolutely wasting my time with your puerile disengenuity. Science is not built on authority and trustworthiness, it's built on repetition, verification and, finally, consensus based on collated results (meta-analysis, if you like).

            It doesn't matter whether one person is trustworthy or authoritative, the work is done by many hands, many minds and is parsed by many eyes and checked by many groups. You don't need to *trust* anyone, you don't need to believe anyone because of their perceived *authority*, you can read all the literature that marches on down the ages and read all the papers, detailing all the experiments and all the reviews and then decide, for yourself, if you want to do the experiment again, for yourself.

            As I have already said.

            If you don't understand how science works, go read a book on the scientific method. If you do understand and you're deliberately being dishonest then please hand yourself over to a moderator and ask to be banned.

            Either way, I have no further time for you. We're done here.

          • Joe Ser

            The usual - you don't know what you are talking about, you don't understand anything retort. I thought this forum would be better than this.

          • Score one for Joe Ser.

          • Please don't tell the Patent Office that. They only grant me patents that contain inventions that no one has revealed to me (or anyone else).

          • Joe Ser

            I know of very few patents that are not built on previous work.

          • The law requires some specific novelty, that can't be previously known. You said that everything believed was revealed by someone else. If that were really true there would be nothing to be believed because no one would have originated any beliefs, and we would still have living conditions and customs our ancestors had hundreds of thousands of years ago.

          • Joe Ser

            Yes, it has to be distinctive. Patent law though does not allow simple updates as you well know.

            I said everything we know (or the other poster) was revealed to him by someone else. (previous knowledge) That is how they learned what they know. They are not recreating the wheel so to speak.

          • Susan

            >He can rule whatever he wants, doesn't make it so.

            Are you familiar with the details of the trial? Do you understand the ruling?

          • Joe Ser

            Very. Are you familiar with the rebuttals?

          • Susan

            >Are you familiar with the rebuttals?

            Rebuttals that demonstrate that ID is really science? Were they post-trial? They had a great, big trial where they were given the opportunity to do that and failed.

            What rebuttals do you mean?

          • Susan

            Eugenie Scott on Dover vs. Kitzmiller

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnQv-86sWNk

          • articulett

            She's awesome!

          • Susan

            >She's awesome!
            She is. :-)

          • It makes it against the law to teach in science class in government supported schools.

          • Joe Ser

            For the sake of argument (you do not have to concede design) say ID is true. We want a judge to deprive our kids learning the truth?

          • Then, when they can show that it is true, they can move it into science class.

          • Joe Ser

            I agree. That is why I maintain evo and ID are to be taught in mandatory philosophy class. Only empirical, that is observable, repeatable and predictable in the science class.

          • Not a bad idea. You could teach about the validity of the approach in philosophy class because it would be covered under the epistemology of science. In that class, students could learn why it is that the Theory of Evolution belongs in the science classes and ID does not.

          • Joe Ser

            A student would not learn either in science class as neither is empirical. If you open the door to one, you have to then open the door to the other.

            If one wants to broaden science class to its real meaning "scientia," or knowledge, or a systematic way of gaining knowledge then both could be taught.

          • The difference is that the scientific community (and even the RCC) recognizes the Theory of Evolution as science (supported by empirical evidence) whereas the Courts have ruled ID to be religion. Now, you can file a legal action in which you assert that the ToE is not really science, and if you are successful, you would be able to stop it from being taught in science class, just as ID was.

          • Joe Ser

            Who care what a judge rules. They are incompetent in this regard. You cannot be claiming each contentious issue be submitted to an elected judge. How can you even use this in an argument? That is not what science is about.

            You might want to check who is on the Pontifical Science Commission. You will note is it mostly atheists? The Church per Humani Generis states that the Church will permit inquiry into evolution, but rejects polygenism and that the Church will weigh the evidence. There are no Magisterial documents that advocate evolution.

          • Who care what a judge rules.

            The schools.

            The Church per Humani Generis states that the Church will permit inquiry into evolution, ...

            So, the RCC does recognize the Theory of Evolution as science. Given that, and that the world wide scientific community does as well, why do you claim it isn't?

          • The Church per Humani Generis states that the Church will permit inquiry into evolution, but rejects polygenism and that the Church will weigh the evidence.

            Humani Generis is over sixty years old, and a lot has changed. The Catechism waffles on the story of Adam and Eve, but I think a Catholic theologian would not find himself or herself in trouble for accepting some form of "polygenism." I think the comments in Humani Generis are basically regarded as ancient history that in the 21st century it is best to forget about.

          • Joe Ser

            Then we have humans without original sin walking among us?

          • What, exactly, is original sin?

          • Joe Ser

            Let us start here:

            The Doctrine of Revelation Regarding Man or "Christian Anthropology"
            The first man was created by God. (De fide.)
            The whole human race stems from one single human pair. (Sent. certa.)
            Man consists of two essential parts--a material body and a spiritual soul. (De fide.)
            The rational soul is per se the essential form of the body. (De fide.)
            Every human being possesses an individual soul. (De fide.)
            Every individual soul was immediately created out of nothing by God. (Sent. Certa.)
            A creature has the capacity to receive supernatural gifts. (Sent. communis.)
            The Supernatural presupposes Nature. (Sent communis.)
            God has conferred on man a supernatural Destiny. (De fide.)
            Our first parents, before the Fall, were endowed with sanctifying grace. (De fide.)
            The donum rectitudinis or integritatis in the narrower sense, i.e., the freedom from irregular desire. (Sent. fidei proxima.)
            The donum immortalitatis, i.e.,bodily immortality. (De fide.)
            The donum impassibilitatis, i.e., the freedom from suffering. (Sent. communis.)
            The donum scientiae, i.e., a knowledge of natural and supernatural truths infused by God. (Sent. communis.)
            Adam received sanctifying grace not merely for himself, but for all his posterity. (Sent. certa.)
            Our first parents in paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment. (De fide.)
            Through the sin our first parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God. (De fide.)
            Our first parents became subject to death and to the dominion of the Devil. (De fide.) D788.
            Adam's sin is transmitted to his posterity, not by imitation, but by descent. (De fide.)
            Original Sin consists in the deprivation of grace caused by the free act of sin committed by the head of the race. (Sent. communis.)
            Original sin is transmitted by natural generation. (De fide.)
            In the state of original sin man is deprived of sanctifying grace and all that this implies, as well as of the preternatural gifts of integrity. (De fide in regard to Sanctifying Grace and the Donum Immortalitatus. D788 et seq.)

          • Max Driffill

            The court of law is important here, because it helps us understand who is, and who isn't doing real science.
            When IDers have a legitimate research program, and are doing actual science then they can say they are doing science.

            EDIT: A better question would be, who cares what the Church thinks about evolution?

          • Joe Ser

            I am interested in hearing the difference between what ID's claim they are doing and yours. Details please, not general hand waving.

          • Max Driffill

            The problem with creationists (I am going to lump IDers under that banner because almost all IDers are biblical creationists and attempt to deflect that with a vague creator/designer idea) is that they don't do science.

            There is no statistical analysis, there is no experimentation, there is no publication. They all start out, and often commit a priori to a suite of conclusions and then try to make data fit those conclusions. Most creationist orgs have a statement of faith that employees must adhere to, and sign off on.

            What they do in their think tanks is try to figure out ways to get creationism taken seriously, but without taking science seriously. Its some thing they seriously don't practice.

            On top of this there is a great deal of intellectual dishonesty in their entire approach. Quote-mining, dishonest presentation of material etc. They also tend to be completely ignorant of current research (Behe for instance made claims bacterial flagella that a simple literature research would have demonstrated were totally false, and was dismantled on the stand at Dover because of this).

          • Hi Max, I'm Catholic and, except for your polemics, I think I mostly agree with you. Go on. Listening in...

          • Joe Ser

            Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design can be found here: http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

          • Max Driffill

            Again,
            It begins with its conclusions. It isn't a journal that practices real science. It is theology masquerading as science.

          • Very nice link there, Joe. Thanks.

          • epeeist

            Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design can be found here

            No, these are merely criticisms of the theory of evolution.

            Let us acknowledge that all scientific theories are both contingent and corrigible. Let us also assume that that sufficient results come in to show that the modern synthesis is false. What would this mean?

            Simply that the modern synthesis is false, nothing more. It would say nothing about the validity of any alternate hypothesis. All hypotheses stand on their own merits, to claim that "problems" in one theory validate another is simply to commit the fallacy of bifurcation.

            Further, "intelligent design" meets none of the requirements normally considered to be necessary for a scientific theory. In order to keep this post relatively short I would point you at the paper The Virtues of a Good Theory by Ernan McMullin (I don't know how to address him since he was both a Catholic priest and a Professor of philosophy) which gives a good discussion of the attributes of scientific theories. Unfortunately I can't find it online, but it is available in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Alternately Kuhn's Objectivity, Value Judgement and Theory Choice provides a similar, but less structured list.

          • A very good post. I have concluded that both the Darwinian and the ID research programs are metaphysical in nature, after a very careful examination of the Darwinian program through the kind auspices of Per Ahlberg.

            Both are metaphysics.

            Both proceed along the lines of consilience; that is. both derive their content from a non-scientific method.

            The scientific method, as Popper (may God bless him) has demonstrated, consists in the ceaseless attempt to overturn that which we think we know by crucial experiment.

            Neither ID nor Darwinian evolution proceed according to the scientific method.

          • epeeist

            I have concluded that both the Darwinian and the ID research programs are metaphysical in nature

            With respect to the theory of evolution you would be taking the same line that Popper initially took, he regarded it as a metaphysical research programme. However he changed his mind, in Dialectica 32:339-355 he states:


            I have changed my mind about the testability and logical status of the theory of natural selection; and I am glad to have an opportunity to make a recantation.
            [345]

            And

            The theory of natural selection may be so formulated that it is far from tautological. In this case it is not only testable, but it turns out to be not strictly universally true. There seem to be exceptions, as with so many biological theories; and considering the random character of the variations on which natural selection operates, the occurrence of exceptions is not surprising. [p. 346]

            But as you also note, one of Popper's criteria for for good science is the ability for critical test and falsification. Now the theory of evolution has been subject to such testing it was first proposed and has continued to be tested in its two inter-theoretic reductions as the modern synthesis. As such it has huge evidential backing.

            "Intelligent design" however makes no predictions that can be falsified by singular existential statements, which adds to my claim in my previous post that it cannot be considered to be a scientific theory.

            Both proceed along the lines of consilience; that is. both derive their content from a non-scientific method.

            Consilience is part of scientific method . The concordance of results from independent, unrelated sources provides that degree of corroboration for theories that Popper calls "verisimilitude".

            Neither ID nor Darwinian evolution proceed according to the scientific method.

            I would contend that there is no such thing as the scientific method in the terms of a single flowchart that one follows when doing science, I wouldn't go as far as Feyerabend but I would claim that there are multiple ways of coming to a testable hypothesis.

          • epeeist:

            It appears your response to my post above has been Memoryholed.

            My posts are also being Memoryholed, and so I would like to invite you to examine this question with me on my blog, if you have the time and interest.

            First off, may I say that Popper's recantation is one of the marvels of intellectual subtlety I have ever read.

            He says natural selection can be formulated in such a way as to render it non-tautological.....and then gently and devastatingly points out that this reformulation also renders it not strictly true.

            What a terrific thinker :-)

            Anyway, here is why I do not believe Darwinism to be a scientific research program, on empirical grounds, based on evidence we did not have in hand when Popper was alive.

            Please feel free to respond on my blog.

            No Memoryholing.

            http://magisterialfundies.blogspot.com/2012/02/marys-bones-part-iii-is-evolution.html

          • Joe Ser

            The modern synthesis is being replaced by self-organization.

            Do we agree on this is the scientific method?

            Observation
            Hypothesis
            Experiment
            Conclusion

          • epeeist

            Do we agree this is the scientific method?

            No, far too simplistic. It would, for example, disallow Einstein's work since he got to the special and general theories essentially by thinking. It would disallow Kekule's dream of a snake eating its tail leading him to the structure of benzene, and many more examples.

            It also assumes that observation sentences and theory sentences can be separated, as the logical positivists postulated. But as we now know all observations are theory laden.

            It would also disallow disciplines that do not or cannot make experiments, such as epidemiology or palaeontology.

            Finally your "conclusion" seems to surmise that we have come to something that is true, i.e. universal, necessary and certain. This might have been thought to be so in the days of Francis Bacon (from whose Novum Organum this kind of flowchart is derived), but it is not accepted in modern philosophy of science.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            Epidemiology and paleontology can and do make experiments. Not all experiments involve Bunsen burners, pipettes, and q-water.

          • I said this somewhere else, perhaps even in this thread, but there are controlled experiments (the kind we usually think of when we think of the scientific method) and quasi-experiments (aka natural experiments). There is not much room in astronomy, paleontology, cosmology, and evolution for controlled experiments.

            I have to agree with eepeist that you can't sum up the scientific method by saying Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment, and Conclusion. That is vastly oversimplified. It seems to me it would rule out all of theoretical physics. Scientific discovery is much more complex than the standard description of the scientific method, and to try to shoehorn everything into that description doesn't do justice to science as it is actually practiced.

          • M. Solange O’Brien

            I don't actually see why that would rule out theoretical physics.

          • Because theoretical physicists don't do experiments.

          • epeeist

            Epidemiology and paleontology can and do make experiments.

            Well yes, perhaps my examplars were not of the best. I plead that my mind was on what I was going to teach my class of 12 year old foilists.

            The point still stands though, the flow chart would disallow any discipline that could not perform experiments to be considered as science.

          • Joe Ser

            They really need to stop teaching this is school then. I would like to see your flowchart.

          • epeeist

            They really need to stop teaching this is school then.

            Where are you based? As far as I am aware it isn't taught here in the UK. I will have to ask my wife, who helps to develop science specifications and syllabuses whether this is definitely so.

            I would like to see your flowchart.

            "There is no flowchart"

            You are probably best regard science as an "ongoing, multi-pass, self-correcting enterprise in which scientists cycle back to refine previous results with greater theoretical and experimental richness" (Thomas Nickles, Scientific Discovery).

            You can, broadly, break down science into two contexts, that of discovery and that of justification. As I have intimated there are numerous ways of coming up with hypotheses and different ways of dealing with justification, dependent on whether one is looking to produce an explanation based on a deductive-nomological covering law or an inductive-statistical one.

            In either case though, the list of virtues that I gave a reference to above would still apply. If you can't find the McMullin paper I am happy to attempt a précis of this.

          • Joe Ser

            Me thinks you are wading into the waters of philosophy.

          • epeeist

            Me thinks you are wading into the waters of philosophy.

            Well yes, though my doctorate might have been in molecular physics I did also manage to fit in courses on philosophy of science and logic while I was doing it.

          • Joe Ser

            I think we are on the same page. Most scientists though do not believe there is any way to get truth except science, and not the science of philosophy.

            So we return to the classroom. Your view may broaden the science curriculum to include philosophy? or to limit it to the accepted narrow definition of the scientific method with an additional philosophy course?

          • epeeist

            Most scientists though do not believe there is any way to get truth except science, and not the science of philosophy.

            Don't they? They would deny that logic and mathematics can lead to truth? They would deny that historians can produce descriptions and explanations that stand up to scrutiny?

            Your view may broaden the science curriculum to include philosophy?

            I would certainly include critical thinking in the curriculum, but it has a wider applicability than just science.or to limit it to the accepted narrow definition of the scientific method

            This is down to you in the States, we don't have the crude, flowchart based view of science here in the UK that you seem to have.

          • Joe Ser

            United States.

          • Only empirical, that is observable, repeatable and predictable in the science class

            If you insist that an area of inquiry cannot be taught as science because it is not "repeatable" and "predictable" (if I am correct about what you mean by those words), that rules out not only evolution, but geology and astronomy.

          • Joe Ser

            Certainly. See the grey area? So how does one go about permitting one over the other?

          • Certainly. See the grey area?

            It's not that there is a grey area. It's that science is being defined too narrowly. To be a science, an area of study does not have to come up with repeatable experiments or make predictions. How could anyone doubt that astronomy is a science? I cannot think of any repeatable astronomy experiments.

          • I cannot think of any repeatable astronomy experiments.

            Depends on how you think about them. The planet Neptune was predicted by observation of the orbital perturbations of other planets, and then an experiment was done to try to see it. That was then repeatable.

            One of the most famous experiments was to photograph the stars behind the Sun during an eclipse to test the theory of General Relativity. Also repeatable.

            Yesterday a huge experiment was reported in the publication, Nature, that used light from over a million galaxies and other light sources to look through wisps of hydrogen to identify the remains of sound waves imprinted in the hydrogen distribution shortly before the early Universe became transparent to photons. A truly impressive and mind blowing experiment.

          • I disagree that what you describe are experiments in the sense we usually speak of scientific experiments (controlled experiments). They are observations. Wikipedia says, "The term experiment usually implies a controlled experiment, but sometimes controlled experiments are prohibitively difficult or impossible. In this case researchers resort to natural experiments or quasi-experiments." The existence of Neptune was definitely a prediction, though, as was Einstein's calculation that a star near the sun during an eclipse would appear to be in a slightly different position. The calculation of the continued existence and frequency of the background radiation from the big bang was a prediction, but detecting the radiation wasn't an experiment but, as is well known, an accident.

          • The discovery of the background radiation was an accident, at first but it was turned into a controlled experiment when they concluded that the microwaves were not coming from the equipment because they controlled for that by several different methods.

            Controls are put in all the astronomical experimental work done today. It's now big science. Experiments are designed, predictions are made and tested.

          • Good thing science does not work that way. The objective evidence used to test and support a scientific theory needs to be observable and the experiments need to be repeatable. And a good theory makes testable predictions.

          • That is only true for certain branches of science where experiments can be devised and repeated. And "predictions" need not be of the type, "If we do X, then Y will happen." Astronomy and cosmology are largely based on observation, not experimentation and prediction. Astronomy and cosmology are sciences because they deal in explanation of empirical data.

          • See comment below.

          • Max Driffill

            Actually a judge cannot really rule on whatever they want. They are bound by professional ethics to make rulings based on evidence. Poor rulings are generally appealed and overturned. One thing that was noted about Dover v Kitzmiller was how robust a ruling it was, and how badly the ID contingent had been demolished in the case (caught lying, caught being badly, catastrophically ill-informed about the state of science--very much like you are ill informed, and exposed as not really doing any science).

          • Joe Ser

            You are kidding, right? Judge's are free of corruption and bad judgement? Have you been reading the news lately?

          • Max Driffill

            Perhaps you should read what I wrote, and not insert and then reply to what I did not write.

          • Joe Ser

            One good thing that came out of this is that ID is put to the test as it should. It also gave them a few areas they needed to resolve. As many famously claim "the gaps will be filled". As time goes on ID will either have staying power or it won't.

      • Hrafn

        So let me get this straight, Evolutionary Biology, which is supported by the vast majority of scientists, and has its own scientific field, is philosophy, whilst ID, which is rejected by the vast majority of scientists, and is supported mostly by philosophers (particularly philosophers of religion and theologians) is science.

        And I'm expected to accept this bald assertion *why* exactly?

        • Joe Ser

          Are you making an argument from popularity?

          Indeed, it does not meet the empirical test.

          Not exactly - Science, the pursuit of knowledge, tries to make observations. Evo biology and ID are scientific in trying to do so. They are both trying to get to "facts".

          Evo - do we know change exists? Yes

          do we see change? yes

          ID - do we know design exists?

          do we see design? yes

          Both are pursuing this scientifically.

          We gather the facts and then we try to reason them. Now we are crossing over to philosophy. Remember, science used to be called natural philosophy. It has been co-opted by a priori assumptions. Way to much credit is being granted to science, limited by its own definition.

          • Andrew G.

            To the extent that ID is scientific it has been falsified.

          • Joe Ser

            Design does not exist?

          • All proposed examples of Irreducible Complexity have been shown to have possible means of formation through conventional evolution (i.e. not irreducible).

          • Joe Ser

            ATP Synthase Motor? Please share the evolutionary pathway.

          • Do you have a link to an ID claim of irreducible complexity for that?

          • Joe Ser

            All you have to do is show the evolutionary pathway to the ATP synthase motor.

          • Is that a proposed example of irreducible complexity? Is there an ID article about it?

          • Joe Ser

            Again, evo's know about it. Show the evo pathways.

          • There is a vast amount of cell structures under study as the normal progress. The only ones that would count to establishing ID are ones for which an irreducibility argument has been made. Do you have a link to such an argument?

          • Hrafn
          • Joe Ser

            Since the ATP motor is the energy producer for all cells and all cells need energy which do you propose came first and why.

          • Hrafn

            1) No, I am not attempting to make a an argument from popularity, I am pointing out a rather glaring anomaly with your bald assertions.

            2) "Science" is considerably more than "tr[ying] to make observations" or "trying to get to facts". For one thing it generally involves making novel falsifiable predictions (which ID fails to do). For another it generally involves making detailed hypotheses of how things happen (which ID likewise fails to do).

            3) Science *grew out of* "natural philosophy", it is not still simply natural philosophy.

    • Erick Chastain

      correction: ID is bad/heretical christianty often used to side step debate.

      • Joe Ser

        Flesh that out a little more for me.

        • Erick Chastain

          ID requires a view that God is irrational or non-omniscient, because he would have to contravene natural law (established by him) in order to make something against natural law happen.

          • Joe Ser

            I don't agree. Catholics always have understood He sustains His creation and does intervene supernaturally. (ie Miracles) Phycist Paul Davies talks about the universe being "porous", a place where God can operate. I may take this a little further. Since we know the slit experiment outcome is set by the observer, can we bring in free-will and prayer as influencing the outcomes? Does God in some way allow us to participate?

          • Erick Chastain

            Miracles are consistent with natural law, but we don't know all of the natural laws yet (to paraphrase Augustine in City of God). Catholics typically believe in the omniscience or rationality of YHWH, unless they are Gnostics. How is self-contradiction possible for a perfectly informed rational agent?

          • Joe Ser

            Miracles though are supernatural by definition. I am not following......

            Yes, we believe He is omniscient. His rationality is exactly why modern science arose Catholics knew He was intelligible and could be studied. Not so for the pagans. They believed the world to be more random.

          • Erick Chastain

            By natural law I mean that the properties of things are set down in regular, law-abiding ways that could in principle be known by a rational being. Miracles like water changing into wine as caused by Jesus are based on the same natural law as water changing into wine due to the process used in vineyards (as described in the article you linked to me on Prime matter). It's just that when a vineyard does it the process is a more common special case of the natural law, and thus we are less astonished by it.

          • Joe Ser

            I think I am getting it. Catholics understand God can perform miracles through natural or supernatural means. I should have clarified that.

            Indeed, the laws of nature are intelligible and worthy of study.

          • articulett

            ??
            Water requires the fermentations of sugars over time to become wine.

      • articulett

        I think fundamentalist Muslims use it too. And Joe Ser is arguing that Junk DNA is not junk and therefore designed-- which is an argument of a prominent Moonie-- Jonathan Wells.

    • articulett

      I'd say it's "guided" by natural selection-- if genes build an organism that successfully reproduces in whatever environment it finds itself in, it passes on those genes that helped it do so.

      • BenS

        In the past, I've demonstrated the process by reaching into the bag by my feet, grabbing a handful of heavy wrenches, screaming 'PREDATOR ATTACK!' and throwing them randomly across the classroom.

        "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a predator! THAT'S natural selection!".

        My career in teaching was short.

        • articulett

          But still-- a clever idea... gets the point across.

        • articulett

          I'd try it, but-- being an atheist is risky enough-- I wouldn't want to throw wrench into the works.

          • BenS

            Please, no more wrench jokes. I can feel my nuts tightening....

          • articulett

            (>_<)

      • Jesuitical

        articulett, very close...those genes involved random mutations, which if giving an advantage to precreating and passing on its genes that is not 'guided'. Those random mutations which did not give an advantage were lossed.
        evolution is random and unguided.

        • articulett

          That's why I put "guided" in quotes-- it's a way of distinguish it from the creationist straw man of random chance (the tornado in a junkyard building a 747). Creationists understand the random part-- it's natural selection and how it relates to the appearance of design that their indoctrinators muddle their understanding of.

          • Joe Ser

            But now we are seeing NS to be a conservative process, not a creative one.

      • mally el

        it is guided by the laws designed in them.

        • Susan

          >it is guided by the laws designed in them.

          What "laws" would those be?

          • mally el

            The laws in nature.
            Just as the law that that binds reactions and interactions. If two elements come together to form a compound under certain conditions they will do so every time those conditions are satisfied. No ifs or buts. This applies to our genes and Dna as well.

          • BenS

            Ah, no. It's not a law that an organism who doesn't blend in quite as well as the one next to it gets eaten, it just has a higher probability.

            Beneficial mutations do not guarantee survival to procreate - they just give a higher chance of it.

            So there's a couple of ifs and buts for you.

          • mally el

            I do not believe that chance has anything to do with it. Chance is a cop out. It is simply an admission of our inability to truly appreciate all the factors and conditions involved and to predict outcomes. There are definitely no ifs and buts.

          • But that's determinism. Are you saying that, in principle, if we knew all the conditions on earth shortly before the first replicating molecules formed, we could predict everything that happened after that? Or that if we could wind the clock back, say, 3 billion years, what happened in the last 3 billions years would happen all over again?

          • mally el

            Unfortunately, our knowledge is very inadequate and this is why we assume that things happen by chance or randomly.

          • So everything that happens is determined from the outset? Let me press you on the question I asked but you did not answer: Are you saying that, in principle, if we knew all the conditions on earth shortly before the first replicating molecules formed, we could predict everything that happened after that? We could show the evolution of homo sapiens was inevitable. And we could now predict events for the next 3 billion years?

          • mally el

            If we knew how man would respond to situations the task would be easier. However, man has a free will and so his decisions do matter.

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            Charles Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. In what is known today as the "Cambrian explosion," 530 million years ago many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock. In Darwin's Doubt Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but also because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal.- from Darwin's Doubt

        • articulett

          Are you a child? Were you home schooled?

          • mally el

            I am a senior citizen. I was educated in private and government institutions. I also received good, valuable education at home.

          • Taylor Piotrzkowski

            Salaam.

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            No, but you are!

  • Vincent Torley

    Hi Jimmy,

    As an Intelligent Design proponent, I'd like to say: thank you very much for your balanced, fair-minded article. Much appreciated. Thanks again.

  • Thomism and ID do have agreement in that nature is intelligently designed (which is what makes science possible), but to the extent that ID says we do not and cannot explain natural processes, therefore God did it, they are divergent. A Thomist would say that a natural explanation exists, but we haven't discovered it. That is my current understanding anyway, as a student of Thomism myself.

    • M. Solange O’Brien

      No. It is not that nature is intelligently designed that makes science possible. It is that nature displays regularities that make science possible. We do not have evidence that nature is intelligently designed.

      • Depends on your point of view and how you define intelligence.

        • M. Solange O’Brien

          If your definition of 'intelligence' involves 'creation by a conscious entity', then we have no evidence that nature is the product of intelligent design.

          In addition, your logic failure remains: it is not because nature is DESIGNED that science is possible, it is because nature contains REGULARITIES that science is possible.

          You are not a scientist, I take it?

  • Carl Turner

    The basic question here is whether nature and the diversity of life is understandable. The atheist believes it to be understandable and if he must give up this belief to be a Christian he never will. For nature to be understandable unencumbered evolution is required. If God created instantly then nature is not understandable and God has blinded him to nature. If God secretly manipulates genes over time then man is tricked by God. Both of these images of God are similar to mythical Greek Gods of old who kept man blinded. However if God is a father, then he would want to put his children in charge of something they could understand. The big objection to evolution is requirement of chance processes. Most do not realize that nature is permeated by chance processes and could not exist without them. They also do not realize that chance processes are highly predictable. Pine trees are pollinated by chance processes yet as predicted there are new pine trees every year. Also the role of chance processes are greatly diminished by natural selection which is also highly predictable. God could create an universe with chance processes and natural selection and know the outcome. Thus God the father as is our Christian belief would be one who would give his children the ability to understand and would give them something understandable to take care of. Miracles are of course not understandable, but easily recognized as such,i.e. walking on water, and thus do not cloud our ability to understand nature.

    • andybbn

      "The atheist believes it to be understandable and if he must give up this belief to be a Christian he never will."

      No. Mainstream science believes this to be understandable. Currently there is no reason to introduce God. It has nothing to do with atheism per se. The origins of life is a scientific question.

  • In my opinion:
    Creationism, theism, and atheism belong in the theology classroom
    Intelligent design, theism, and atheism belong in the philosophy classroom
    Evolution belongs in the biology classroom

    • Carl Turner

      I agree completely. Only evolution belongs in the biology classroom. Creationism, intelligent design and theism all have one underlying message, and that is that nature makes no sense so you might as well close the biology class because only God knows why there are kangaroos in Australia and mammals that look like fish and he made nature so you can't find out and that is why you need to stop asking questions like that. That is their message and that should not he in a biology class were asking questions about nature is encouraged. Yes these belong in the theology and philosophy class where they can debate whether God is one who blinds us to nature or is he one who would give us an understandable nature to be under our care.

      • Athanasius De Angelus

        Charles Darwin knew that there was a significant event in the history of life that his theory did not explain. In what is known today as the "Cambrian explosion," 530 million years ago many animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without apparent ancestors in earlier layers of rock. In Darwin's Doubt Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but also because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal.- from Darwin's Doubt

        • Max Driffill

          Athanasius,

          Stephen Myer is not a paleontologist, not a scientist at all. He is an advocate of intelligent design. He is the Director of the Discovery Institute. He hasn't handled the Cambrian fossils in question, and he doesn't appear to understand evolutionary biology.

          This is merely wishful thinking on the part of Myers. For a real paleontologist's take on the fossil record and what it means, you might try Donald Prothero's book, Evolution: What the Fossils Say, and Why it Matters. Prothero is a believer, but he is also a damn good paleontologist who has actually worked with the fossils and dug in the rock.

          • Carl Turner

            I agree with Max. The reasons for the Cambrian explosion are slowly coming to light. These include evidence of divergent phyla before the explosion, the evolution of the Hox gene complex, new predator-prey relationship, rise of oxygen in atmosphere, etc. If you've seen some of these fossils there are some very, very unusual creatures there. For ID to say God instantly created these weird creatures in a way that is not understandable puts God along side the Greek gods of old who did weird things and kept man ignorant. This I think is the most serious mistake of ID in seeing god like this instead of a father who would want his children to understand the world they are in charge of.

          • Max Driffill

            Also,
            It is an explosion only when viewed against geological time. It still happened over the course of about 20-30 million years.

          • Carl Turner

            That is an excellent point that most people do not realize. A lot of people think it happened over night instead of 20 million years.

          • Athanasius De Angelus

            Dr. Myer's book - Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design.
            "Signature in the cell" Is a kick Darwin in the ass book, and it has been named one of the top books of 2009 by the Times Literary Supplement (London). He got so much positive reviews for his work, you Darwinists should weep because no body cares about your clown "theory" anymore!

          • Max Driffill

            It really isn't.
            Glenn Beck has also had best sellers. As had Deepak Chopra.
            So. What.

  • andybbn

    The author seems to have missed 'plain old evolution' which goes something like:

    - The world developed over a longer period of time than six, twenty-four hour days.
    - The world is much more than a few thousand years old.
    - The life forms we see today arose from prior, extinct life forms.
    - The majority viewpoint in the natural sciences on the age of the world and the origin of present-day life forms is correct.

    Why is the distinction between atheism/theism relevant here (excluding the more looney creationists of course)?

  • andybbn

    "Another step in treating each other with respect is presupposing each other’s good will."

    That is difficult to do with a certain class of very vocal creationists. I mean of course those trying to infect science education with intelligent design and other such nonsense. They are so vocal, dishonest, and manipulative - not to mention politically savy - that being nice to them is not the way to go. They need to be fought on all fronts. Respect is not a consideration here.

  • wfraser11

    Science has nothing to do with religion. This post is bogus religious trash suggesting that religious views have scientific validity. They have nothing to do with science.
    Pathetic .

  • James Hartic