Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A response to WCG/GCI's position on Creation and Evolution

This is an edited version of three responses by "Leonardo," one of AW's most prolific commentators, a former member who now espouses an atheistic worldview, to an article by Rex Morgan in the New Zealand WCG magazine Inside Life. You can read the full, somewhat more disputatious text in the comments to the previous post. Replies are invited, but they need to be courteous and address the issues - either raised by Leo or in the article he reviews - rather than vacuous polemic.

I just carefully read through Rex Morgan’s article “Creation, Evolution or both?” – and while I applaud it in general, in terms of it being written by a GCI minister, still, there are many areas where the author’s knowledge is seriously lacking.

The general theme of the article attempts to produce a seamless integration of the mystical worldview of faith-based Christianity with the empirical fact-based methods of science. This is nothing new – fundamentalist creationist writers of every stripe and color try to do this all the time.


Morgan writes:
“Christians and scientists haven't always been in conflict. In fact the Christian faith was instrumental in the early development of scientific observation from the 1200s onward, particularly in mediaeval Europe. People like Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Bacon, Pasteur and many other leading early scientists were men of deep Christian faith and conviction. Galileo believed that he was revealing the laws of God in his work.”

Well, not quite. This is a complex subject that cannot be candy-coated so easily. Let me just say that it involves considerably more cultural factors than most are willing to consider. In reality, the many experimental procedures summarized under the umbrella term “scientific method” represented an extremely foundational and serious DEPARTURE from supernatural revelation as a means of gaining accurate knowledge of the natural world, which Christian faith had promoted up until that time, and still promotes to this day.


And the clear effects such supernatural methods had upon the societies it influenced when it had both widespread and powerful influence are a matter of history. Historians call it the Dark Ages for a reason, as it represented extremely serious declines in human well-being and progress in general.


The fact that many of the early forerunners of what eventually became known as modern science had theological beliefs doesn’t necessarily lead to the foregone conclusion that such beliefs actually inspired their research methodology. In some cases it no doubt did, but on the whole this is a myth heavily promoted by Christianity.
Christianity and Islam both claim credit for practical real-world advances that benefit man’s life (in other words, the fruits of science) that they could have NEVER originated themselves within the stifling context of their supernatural ideologies. The Medieval Dark Ages, the period in which both Christianity and Islam grew and spread rapidly, and thus enjoyed significant cultural impact within, represented a time period of major cultural and academic decline, especially in Christian Europe.

Christianity and Islam, far from inspiring methods like science, often did all they could to suppress them, with few notable exceptions. St. Augustine was asked the question: “What was God doing before He created the world?” he answered, “Preparing hell for those who asked unnecessary questions!”


Augustine further wrote: “There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity…It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing, and which man should not wish to learn.”


And yet Christianity wants to champion Augustine's writings ALONG SIDE the highly successful enterprise of science, and actually claim that the former actually inspired, promoted and served as a philosophical foundation leading to the latter?! This is not warranted by the actual historical record.

Morgan further writes:
“Darwin himself presented his theory of evolution as a concept compatible with belief in God.”

Well again, sort of, at least at first, simply because he did not want to cause a public stir in general by directly confronting the religious sentiments of the time, nor offend the feelings of his dear and devout Christian wife specifically, because they shared a wonderfully close and intimate relationship together. The historical record is indisputable on this.


Darwin’s book (Origins) published in November of 1859 did not broach the subject of evolution as it pertained to human beings. This is perfectly true. Darwin was bright enough to fully realize the devastating body-blow his theory, if true, was going to deal to popular supernatural religious beliefs pertaining to the origins question.


However, by his 1871 book “The Descent of Man” Darwin WAS applying evolutionary thinking to man’s origins. So Morgan is not informing his readers of the ENTIRE historical story.


Morgan further states:
“In the frontispiece to the first edition of The Origin of Species, he included a quote from the Anglican clergyman and philosopher William Whewell proclaiming that God doesn’t act by constant miracles but ‘by the establishment of general laws’. This was followed by a quote from Sir Francis Bacon stating that true understanding must be sought both ‘in the book of God’s word and in the book of God’s works’, referring to scripture and nature. The Origin of Species itself contains several references to the Creator, and the final sentence states ‘There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one…’ ”

Morgan continues:
“In the sermon at Darwin’s funeral, in Westminster Abbey, the Reverend Frederick Farrar said that Darwin’s theory posed no threat to belief in God, and that Darwin had enabled people to read “many hitherto undeciphered lines in God’s great epic of the universe.’ ’’

Again, technically true, however, Morgan fails to inform his readers about “the rest of the story”: the fact that a great stir arose among the clergy upon Darwin’s death over whether his body be interred at Westminster Abbey.


Morgan mentions the Clergy Letter Project. I know Dr. Michael Zimmerman, the man who started this project. But what the letter actually says - even though to date Zimmerman has accumulated over 12,000 clergymen signatures - is not what the vast majority of Christians believe (and most certainly not the COG ministry):


“We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.”


We’ve barely begun to analyze just the first few paragraphs of Morgan’s article and we observe that, while not totally false, it is nonetheless extremely incomplete in it’s initial assertions, ignoring many other facts that give the overall account an entirely different meaning.


Anybody can do this with an article if they are highly-selective in the facts they are willing to use. But the ENTIRE ARRAY of facts we have access to presents a very different, a more accurate, and a considerably more interesting story.


The bottom line is this: one can no more synthesize supernatural faith and empirical reason together any more than one can permanently bring oil and water together. The two represent diametrically opposite methods of knowledge acquisition.

One is mystical — the other is rational. One is based upon subjective feelings, pre-scientific ancient tradition and dogmatic rigidity — the other on tangible facts, empirical evidence, rigorous rationality and always willing to refine itself based upon further information. One has an extremely violent historical track record — the other has greatly alleviated the pain of the human condition. One is oriented toward death in this world — the other toward the promotion of life. Each is as alien to the other as war is to peace.


Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Fides et Ratio, could say lofty things like: “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth….” — but the everyday reality of this conceptual integration is another thing entirely.

97 comments:

Leonardo said...

Gavin, if I may, Sir, I’d like to humbly correct an assertion you made that doesn’t quite accurately reflect my current metaphysical view.

It’s one I’m often accused of by fundamentalists, I think primarily because of their black or white, either/or way of conceptualizing or framing issues. And I can fully understand why it happens because I speak out so forthrightly against standard supernatural religious claims, etc. I realize I’m no friend of the many supernaturalists who blog here on AW, that’s for sure!

But to clarify.

You wrote:
“…’Leonardo’…a former member who now espouses an atheistic worldview….”

May I just say that I would not philosophically label myself as a strict atheist, certainly in the connotative sense that the word is commonly (though incorrectly) understood and used by most folks. I see the importance of always being open to new empirical evidence as crucial to an ever-growing accurate understanding of reality, and not painting oneself into a corner (much like the fundamentalists often do) and stubbornly refusing to budge. I could expand upon this further (and may at another time) but I don’t think it’s required in this specific context.

Perhaps citing something I recently wrote in response to a fellow blogger might further correct or clarify, at least to some degree, any misunderstandings in this regard.

I (Leonardo) wrote:

“An ultimate Power or Force or Supreme Being MAY truly exist — an incredibly powerful organizing Cosmic Intelligence responsible for it all — but such would be FAR BEYOND man’s historical conception of a supernatural God or gods, such as Yahweh or Allah, for instance.

“But if or when such a discovery is made, I suspect such a One (or Ones) will be light-years BEYOND the infantile concepts of ancient men, and truly worthy of our respect.

“In this connection I’m reminded of an interesting discussion that took place several years ago now between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins, originally published in Time Magazine (11/5/2006) under the heading “God vs. Science.” It reflects much of where I’m currently at with respect to things metaphysical.

“The very final paragraph of the article ends with a comment by Dawkins to Collins…

‘DAWKINS: My mind is not closed, as you have occasionally suggested, Francis. My mind is open to the most wonderful range of future possibilities, which I cannot even dream about, nor can you, nor can anybody else. What I am skeptical about is the idea that whatever wonderful revelation does come in the science of the future, it will turn out to be one of the particular historical religions that people happen to have dreamed up. When we started out and we were talking about the origins of the universe and the physical constants, I provided what I thought were cogent arguments against a supernatural intelligent designer. But it does seem to me to be a worthy idea. Refutable - but nevertheless grand and big enough to be worthy of respect. I don't see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial. If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.’

“That final sentence represents, in very broad strokes, my present state of thought on the subject.”

Anonymous said...

Good posting Gavin. I'm glad to see Leonardo's position being given such exposure.

My bottom line is I prefer a rational approach to the mystical / supernatural. But, I'm happy to support those who believe in a supernatural belief (such as creationism) as long as they are honest about that approach and admit it requires faith far more than evidence.

Whereas the rational approach leans on evidence far more than faith. There is still an element of faith, but it is faith in the process and approach, not faith in ancient writings.

Leonardo said...

Just a little side-story here: I've never met Rex Morgan, but I recall meeting someone I think was his younger brother, Neville, one time in Pasadena during the 1979 receivership.

Neville and I were recruited as unpaid security guards (another freebie given to the WCG) and over the course of several hours, as we were keeping vigilant watch over the old Mail Processing Center building (MPC), keeping it free from unwanted government agents unknowingly acting as pawns of a wiley Satan, we shared a delightful conversation together. He and his wife by chance happened to be visiting Pasadena just at the time of the receivership, and so we found ourselves together at that particular time and place, and for that particular reason.

I never saw him again after that - but this thought-provoking conversation took place over 30 years ago now, and I still remember it quite vividly, almost as if it took place just yesterday afternoon!

Anyway, I do believe that Neville mentioned he had an older brother named Rex who was in the ministry in New Zealand.

Jethro said...

Human experience cannot be reduced solely to the scientific and the rational. To do so ignores the spiritual and mystical yearnings and experiences of millions of human beings through the ages. In reading Leonardo's post, I am reminded of the movie "Contact", based on the book by Carl Sagan. At one point Ellie Arroway is asked if she loved her late father. She replies that she loved him very much, and she is then challenged to prove it. The point of the exchange is that there is no way to prove that you love someone. Whatever you do to prove your love can always be redefined as being solely in your self-interest. Therefore, what exactly is love? The Bible says God is love. Perhaps you don't like that that definition and you have one of your own. That's fine, but love as a concept goes beyond science. All that Leonardo says about science is true, but science is concerned solely with what man can perceive with his five senses, aided the technological marvels developed mostly in the past 400 years or so. Whatever flaws religion may have --- and I would agree in many cases they are legion --- it repesents man's attempt to answer the most profound questions of human existence. One may counter that perhaps someday science will draw back the curtain and answer those same questions, but they are essentially beyond the scope of science. Many Christians like to quote the Bible and say that scientists don't want to "retain God in their knowledge", but scientists are not sinful rebels who wake up every morning trying to figure out how to keep God out of their lives. Science is simply not equipped to deal with spiritual issues.

Dennis said...

"The main reason for insisting on the universal Flood as a fact of history and as the primary vehicle for geological interpretation is that God's Word plainly teaches it! No geological difficulties, real or imagined, can be allowed to take precedence over the clear statements and necessary inferences of Scripture."

Henry Morris 1970
Co-Author of The Genesis Flood
Witcomb and Morris

Or better:

"Sit down before a fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."

Thomas Henry Huxley

Anonymous said...

"I see the importance of always being open to new empirical evidence as crucial to an ever-growing accurate understanding of reality, and not painting oneself into a corner (much like the fundamentalists often do) and stubbornly refusing to budge..."

So do I- and many other people who identify themselves as atheists. Once again, this is the difference between the believer (any believer, not just the "fundamentalists") and many, if not all, atheists:

I have no choice but to accept the existence of god if there is credible evidence. I have no choice but to shift my worldview in that instance- to deny the existence of god in this situation would be intellectual dishonesty. I may not like the god, or agree with his or her polices, but I, as a rational human being cannot and will not deny the existence of this god if there is evidence. In contrast, the believer will not change their view based on new evidence because their view isn't based on evidence in the first place! Evidence, facts, are meaningless to them. Not one has based their belief on a rational analysis of the "evidence."

My point is that most atheists share your view. Declaring yourself an atheist doesn't mean that you are close minded at all. It's a declaration that you are a rational human being who has chosen to live his or her life in a rational manner (which all believers do in all aspects of their life except their belief). When you get down to it, we are all agnostics to a degree. I don't disbelieve in gods with 100% certainty- in fact, when it comes to the existence of leprechauns I am also somewhat of an agnostic because I can't be 100% sure that there are no leprechauns. But to identify myself as an agnostic towards leprechauns because I am afraid of being seen as "close minded" is to me to be a bit afraid of the opinions of others- "I'm afraid of stating the obvious, that unicorns don't exist at all as far as we can tell"- and that is something I won't do in regards to gods. There is no evidence for god, and until there is I won't believe in his or her existence. I'm not ashamed of that.

The Apostate Paul

Dennis said...

“An ultimate Power or Force or Supreme Being MAY truly exist — an incredibly powerful organizing Cosmic Intelligence responsible for it all — but such would be FAR BEYOND man’s historical conception of a supernatural God or gods, such as Yahweh or Allah, for instance."

Nicely put Leonardo. I would have to say that is where I find myself as well. "The God most know may not be the God that is" seems appropriate.

My problem has become the Hebrew version and what is called "the Greatest Book ever written." It clearly is not. It is cultic and violent, bigoted and contradictory in it's presentations.

A god that says "You shall not bring any other gods into my presence, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God..." is petty, insecure and cultic to say the least.

I guess I shall always have a problem with not viewing the most amazing sacrifice in history as a mere weekend inconvenience for all concerned. Jesus is the only Bible sacrifice that does not stay dead long, so in what sense was it a sacrifice at all? I spare you...off topic here.

Anyway, nice posting Leonardo

Anonymous said...

"Human experience cannot be reduced solely to the scientific and the rational. To do so ignores the spiritual and mystical yearnings and experiences of millions of human beings through the ages."

Spiritual and mystical "yearning" does not constitute existence. I really wish I had a lightsaber- doesn't make it so.

Experiences? What experiences? And how are these experiences proof of the supernatural? What proof do you have that there is something beyond reality?


The Apostate Paul

He ain't my brother...he's heavy said...

"What proof do you have that there is something beyond reality?"

Would not the explanations of how everything is and where everyone fits in his world, given by a certain righteous gentleman in England be proof of this? :)

PurpleHymnal said...

"Would not the explanations of how everything is and where everyone fits in his world, given by a certain righteous gentleman in England be proof of this? :)"

Eh? What's the lost tribe of Ephraim gone and gotten itself up to now?

Russell Miller said...

I was an atheist. I am no longer because I was given evidence. It's just evidence for me and not for anyone else. That's kind of the nature of it.

Anonymous said...

Purple Hymnal, you must have been in a different WCG to the one I was in. I remember telecasts where Garner Ted showed the angler fish and mocked the evolutionists.

larry said...

Good to see a post from Leonardo that is not drivel. Evolution MAY partially explain the differentiation of species. It does NOT explain the origin of life.

Neither does it explain human consciousness, which at this point, is a total mystery to those who subscribe strictly to the philosophy of materialism.

Sargent said...

All I can say to Leonardo is "Amen brother.

Leonardo said...

Jethro wrote:
“Human experience cannot be reduced solely to the scientific and the rational.”


Why not?

And besides, when I argue against the fundamentalist version of origins, how can that be construed as a reductionist view of reality?

Jethro continues:
“To do so ignores the spiritual and mystical yearnings and experiences of millions of human beings through the ages.”


Just because man has “mystical yearnings” proves nothing.

I’m sure many a child-molester has similar “yearnings” that they could monstrously torture, violently rape, then brutally murder as many innocent little children as they could get their hands on without being caught and punished by the societies they live within, but that doesn’t legitimize such yearnings. Please explain the difference between “mystical” yearnings and the vicious fantasies of a child molester?

For most of it’s history mankind conceived as planet earth as being flat, but the widespread popularity or ubiquity of a belief, fantasy or “yearning” doesn’t make it true in objective reality.

Jethro further wrote:
“The point of the exchange is that there is no way to prove that you love someone.”


Bovine excrement! My wife may say she loves me in words, and that’s fine, but in reality, and what means considerably more to me on a practical level, is that she provides me with hard, tangible, empirical EVIDENCE by the way she treats me and the many kind things she does for me on a daily basis – and I hope I do the same for her. That’s were the irrefutable proof and demonstrable evidence lays.

You demonstrate your love for someone by CONCRETE ACTIONS they clearly perceive and appreciate, not empty metaphysical assertions.

Your assertion that “there is no way to prove that you love someone” is utter nonsense if you would just take a few milliseconds to think it through before publically expressing such an absurdity.

Jethro continues:
“Whatever flaws religion may have --- and I would agree in many cases they are legion --- it repesents man's attempt to answer the most profound questions of human existence. One may counter that perhaps someday science will draw back the curtain and answer those same questions, but they are essentially beyond the scope of science.”


Medieval alchemy represented man’s initial attempts to understand chemistry, but it doesn’t remotely compare to his current modern understanding of it based upon atomic theory.

Further, it’s not a matter of “perhaps someday” - I would argue that science ALREADY HAS pulled back the mystical curtain you refer to, though not completely, of course. Just look at the historical record of the past 400 years. If this doesn’t greatly impress you, especially when compared to what we had to deal with during the faith-saturated Dark Ages, then I don’t know what more can be said.

And secondly, I could cite many quotes from folks making all kinds of statements to the effect that this, that or the other phenomenon is “beyond the scope of science” – only to be able to cite how science was able to eventually uncover its mysteries and explain it in intelligible terms without reference to supernatural “explanations.” Just refer back to my quote from Augustine. Following his faith-based and limited understanding, mankind would STILL be wallowing around in as much ignorance today as they were during the Middle Ages, and currently DO in faith-dominated Islamic countries around the globe.

Jethro concludes:
“ Science is simply not equipped to deal with spiritual issues.”


Jethro, I have a question to ask you: what is the difference between what your refer to as “spiritual issues” and the many documented cases of severe mental illness, where folks genuinely and sincerely believe, all within the fantasy world of their own minds, that they are being communicated with by advanced aliens from outer space, etc?

Why could such cases not be considered equally valid “spiritual issues?”

How would you answer this question?

Anonymous said...

"It's just evidence for me and not for anyone else. That's kind of the nature of it."

Then it's not evidence in the sense of tangible proof that other humans can verify. It's sort of a half-assed subjective experience, at best.

It's special evidence, only experienced by the believer, interpreted by the believer according to the believer's own special standards.

Once again, the believer has two standards of evidence- one for 99% of his or her daily life and another standard for their belief system(s). It's a bit hypocritical. Why can' they apply their special evidence to the rest of their lives?

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

larry said...
Good to see a post from Leonardo that is not drivel.

Which may indicate what you call drivel in the past was not, but just rather someone who did subscribe to your own drivel.

Is this how you discuss science with your scientific peers within whose circle you claim to discuss science with?

Leonardo said...

Russell Miller wrote:
"I was an atheist. I am no longer because I was given evidence. It's just evidence for me and not for anyone else. That's kind of the nature of it."


Russ, if you can’t explain your philosophical position with any greater clarity than this, then I'm afraid you fall into that pathetic category we see here on AW all too often - the "preach & run" blogger, which is someone who just makes a short little enigmatic statement, never extrapolates on it or explains in greater detail so it will be intelligible or meaningful to the rest of us, never provides any evidence to support such a statement, and then just passively leaves it at that, never to make another comprehensible comment until they do the exact same thing on the NEXT blog topic.

But all this does for the cause of supernatural belief is to mightily reinforce the all-too-real stereotype of the uneducated, inarticulate and shallow-thinking fundamentalist.

Seriously, Russ, think about it.

kiwi said...

Apostate Paul said: There is no evidence for god, and until there is I won't believe in his or her existence.
One of the reasons why believers cannot persuade unbelievers of the existence of God is that the experience of belief takes place within the mind. The calling of God, the conviction of the need for reconciliation to God, repentance, the indwelling of faith and the gift of the holy spirit is experienced internally.
When the Apostle Paul spoke of the "power of gospel" he spoke of these things. For those who believe, the glory of God is then evident in the physical, material world.
It is pointless for the unbeliever to deny the experience of the believer and likewise it is pointless for the believer to expect the unbeliever to accept subjective personal experience as the sort of objective evidence that the unbeliever is seeking.
What I am saying is that from a human perspective, it is not possible to "win" these sorts of arguments because the subjective experience of the believer has led to God becoming the object of that person's life.
If one's religious experience was/is hijacked by bullying denominationalism - where men set themselves up in place of God - then skepticism can be healthily protective. However, from a believer's perspective, no skeptic/atheist/agnostic is "safe" from God subsequently choosing to draw that person close to him in the future.

Corky said...

When it comes to religion, people just believe what they want to regardless of evidence.

Any other claims made in their daily lives have to be proved before they will believe them.

Well, mostly anyway. People will believe all kinds of superstitious stuff without proof or evidence. If you don't believe me, it's probably because I'm not drinking from my lucky cup. No, really, it's either that or my lucky coin is not in my pocket.

Believers should never walk under any ladders and should always return home if a black cat crosses the road. No, that's for real - I had a personal experience for me alone and that's how I know.

Mark said...

"A god that says "You shall not bring any other gods into my presence, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God..." is petty, insecure and cultic to say the least."

Yeah, sleep with a couple of different women and then use that line on your wife or girlfriend. "You are just being petty, insecure and cultic!"

Right, I thought so.

Mark said...

I can just sense how frustrating it is for those on the outside looking in, knocking their heads trying to understand the spiritual. Always searching for more evidence, but not able to see.

It reminds me of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke: "And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."

Those seeking need not more information, but intervention.

PurpleHymnal said...

"Purple Hymnal, you must have been in a different WCG to the one I was in. I remember telecasts where Garner Ted showed the angler fish and mocked the evolutionists."

You're right, anon, I was in a different WCG than you were; we were told that GTA was nothing short of the Antichrist, when I was growing up.

PurpleHymnal said...

"Good to see a post from Leonardo that is not drivel. Evolution MAY partially explain the differentiation of species. It does NOT explain the origin of life."

Still no answer on your "world-class" university degree, Larry?

Even money says the GCI shill went to AC, and is trying to parlay its brief accreditation (before it was sold) off as a real "world-class" education.

Then again, in Larry's mind, I'm sure it was......

XCGMouse said...

'...it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.’

In other words,God is so completely trancendent he is beyond our grasp, here, in the world.

Isn't this barth-tillich: Death to human religion, letting go of God, getting beyond our (human) concept of God?

Anonymous said...

"I can just sense how frustrating it is for those on the outside looking in, knocking their heads trying to understand the spiritual. Always searching for more evidence, but not able to see."

Frustrating? Not in the least. Understand? Understand what?

You and other believers assert that there is the "spiritual," yet provide zero evidence to support this claim. If you could kindly provide any evidence that there is a spiritual realm, then, and only then, can I try to understand it. Until then, it just doesn't exist.

I like your last statement. More whimsical mumbo-jumbo...if I had only the eyes to see. The problem here is that the god of the Bible has, according to the Bible, manifested herself in physical form, and conducted supernatural occurrences that were all visible to the human eye, the ear, the touch. Physical evidence. So take your "beyond the scope of science" and stuff it in haggis. Your god can provide proof of herself. She just chooses not to. How mysterious.

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"...sleep with a couple of different women and then use that line on your wife or girlfriend. "You are just being petty, insecure and cultic!""

Difference being is that said wife or girlfriend won't slay us by the sword, or our family, or children, or the entire world for such cuckoldry. Which your genocidal freak-god does.

What is the difference between god and an abortionist? One uses a world wide flood, the other a scapel.

The Apostate Paul

Mark said...

The One who gives life can take it. We are His creation.

Evidence? Again, that's just it. You have plenty all around you. More information won't help prove it to you. Only intervention. That's my point.

And, yes, I can sense your frustration.

Anonymous said...

Purple Hymnal: I think I may have just a few short years on you. I remember when GTA was still being billed at the next great thing and the heir apparent. I was still a boy at the time, but armstrongism being what it is, the next thing you knew he was disfellowshipped, marked, and we were told not to have anything to do with him or his new organization.

FWISW: I remember drawing on the back of one of GTA's posters (That blabbed about an upcoming speaking event) during the very brief time the WCG had 'Sabbath School' way back when in Mt. Pocono.

Doubtless someone got their ass handed to them for holding on to the posters.


Corky, Paul, and others: You shouldn't mock someone for personal experiences, they are just that; personal. If Russell had some sort of experience that removed doubt, that is his business and quite likely if he were to explain himself here, no one would believe him, probably including myself.

As I recall he was a pretty staunch atheist as well.

Good luck Russell.

I believe something is there, just not anything that I have read about.

Speakerbox said...

How, when and where life originated on earth cannot be scientifically proven, at least not in the strictest sense of the word. Anyone who takes a basic research methods course (I teach them) learns that “pure” science requires direct observation; not that we can’t learn a tremendous amount of information through inferential analysis and what not, but the point is that we cannot go back in time and observe the past, therefore we can not say with absolute certainty exactly what happened billions of years ago.

With that said, it seems that the atheistic crowd has a problem that is very similar to the “preach and run” crowd’s problem: the atheistic crowd will use scientific evidence to refute a world view supposedly based on faith, but at the same time, will use faith to support a world view supposedly based on science.

I think everyone should really take a long look at the biblical definition of faith: faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (observed). Everything ultimately comes down to faith in something: faith in science, faith in intellectual ability, faith in revealed knowledge. The starting, and ending, point of the origin question will always be faith-based (or at least until someone invents a time machine)!

Leonardo said...

Kiwi wrote:
"It is pointless for the unbeliever to deny the experience of the believer and likewise it is pointless for the believer to expect the unbeliever to accept subjective personal experience as the sort of objective evidence that the unbeliever is seeking."


But the problem, Kiwi, is that you are assuming the very point in contention, the very point you continually fail to demonstrate.

I (and I'm sure I speak for Apostate Paul and many others on this issue) don't
deny at all that "an experience" takes place within the subjective imagination of the believer.

What we question is how do you KNOW it's caused by the objective and outside intervention of an invisible deity, and not just the delusional inner workings of the human mind as guided by culturally accepted religious ideology?

Leonardo said...

Corky wrote:
"When it comes to religion, people just believe what they want to regardless of evidence."


And that succinctly sums it all up – “To hell with evidence, facts, experience, the lessons of history, etc. – I’m GOING to believe what I WANT to believe and NOTHING will convince to believe otherwise!”

A formula that can only lead to ultimate disaster.

Those who continue to stubbornly resist the light of reason can expect no other fate than to perish in the darkness of error.

Leonardo said...

Mark:
"I can just sense how frustrating it is for those on the outside looking in, knocking their heads trying to understand the spiritual. Always searching for more evidence, but not able to see."


Well then, Mark, all I can say is your “sense” is nonsense!

I WAS on the inside, for over three decades! I am intimately familiar with the great "spiritual truths" folks like you claim to possess, and which you assert the unbelievers long to understand.

But your assessment is extremely mistaken - I would NEVER want to step back into the stagnant swamp of revealed religion again, now that I‘ve tasted of the clear and expansive ocean of rationality. I envy NOTHING of your fundamentalist way of life, any more than I would be jealous of a mental patient who claims to be the reincarnation of Napoleon!

This is yet another “defense” fundamentalists use as a cheap substitute in lieu of being able to clearly articulate their beliefs in an intelligible way. They fail repeatedly at this, and so they virtually always resort to the schoolyard tactic of imputing false motivations.

bear_track said...

I was watching BookTV one afternoon recently and happened to see Christopher Hitchens speaking about his atheism. Hitchens stated, and this is a paraphrase, that he could not believe in an eternal God because, after all, where did God come from? Yet Hitchens would have us believe that the physical universe is eternal and has always existed. We might apply Hitchen’s own logic to his own belief and ask where this alleged eternal, uncreated universe came from?

The argument between evolution and creationism (which seems to ignore creationists that believe in some form of evolution) may be reduced to the idea that there is a creator of the universe or there is not. If there is a creator, we might well refer to this being as god. If there is no creator, then the universe has always existed and was never created.

But the argument that the universe is uncreated is based on a concept of time that is flawed. The assumption is that time extends infinitely into the past (after all, time, too, is uncreated) from the present and infinitely forward into the future from the present. But when one begins applying the concept of infinity to the physical realm, things go wrong.

So the concept of time that underpins the notion of an uncreated universe does not work. (This argument was developed by Dr. William Lane Craig.) The modus tollens for this is:

1) Time extends infinitely into the past (actually both directions, past and future).

2) That progressing point known as the present will never reach our location on the timeline because the present is lost in the infinite depths of the past. (By geometric analogy, the moment known as “the present” must traverse an infinite distance along the timeline in order to reach our location so that our experience may become the present.)

3) But the present is here and we are experiencing it.

4) Therefore, the concept that time extends infinitely into the past is invalid. Thus, the requisite logical model of time required for an uncreated universe is illogical.

But the idea that time was created at some point in the past does not lead to this same paradox. But this means that the universe came into existence at some point in time and is not eternal and is not uncreated. This means that there is a point of origin and necessarily a creator.

Note that this is not an argument for Christian Theism. That is a separate study. This is just an argument for creator who transcends time. And since physicists have demonstrated that time and space or intimately connected, the creator also transcends space. This is not an assertion concerning the attributes of the creator. The transcendent creator may be engaged with you or may be utterly indifferent to you and your conditions of life. Maybe the transcendent creator who made everything just wound it all up and you just happened. This argument does not address any of those issues. It only re-states in equivalent terms what Hitchens said on BookTV: I don’t believe in an eternal universe because where did it come from?

The Bear

Leonardo said...

As I re-read through sections of the Morgan article some further thoughts occurred.

Morgan states:
“Theologians have challenging questions for evolutionists….”


Careless readers would just naturally assume that would be true, wouldn’t they?

But that’s not really the case at all.

I’ve read a lot in this area, and I’ve learned, to my great disappointment, that all the way from the serious writings of professional theologians to quack fundamentalist apologists like Ham and Hovind, anti-evolutionary arguers really don’t raise challenging questions at all to scientists.

And such inquiries that they DO raise may SEEM challenging to religious believers, but that’s only because such folks typically are so poorly-read in these areas.

As I’ve said many times before, True Believers are very good at answering their own questions. They are in such a habit of lobbing easily-hit intellectual soft-balls to one another, that when they bring up their “challenging questions” to scientists they presume them to be such, when in reality they are, and have been, easily answered.

But in fact, after having spent much time reading through these many “challenges” to scientists and evolutionists I’m actually stunned how small-minded most of their questions can actually be.

Notice that although Morgan raises this issue of “challenging questions” asked of evolutionists by theologians, he NEVER actually states a specific example of one. Do we find this a bit odd?

Believers are constantly touting the “many evidences that disconfirm and totally refute evolution” – and yet have you ever noticed that they never get around to pointing out what such “powerful refutations” actually consist of?

Morgan goes on to write:
“Christians benefit from scientific discoveries and research helping them better understand the awesome creation God has designed. Scientists benefit from the spiritual aspects of purpose, ethics and values that Christians can bring to the table.”


Again, I would profoundly disagree.

Aside from the fact that the author just assumes that “God” designed and created the universe, and just carelessly smuggles “Him” into the argument, scientists don’t really benefit at all from what Christians bring to the table.

In fact, Christians really don’t bring anything but supernaturally-based assumptions and assertions to the table that never really contribute to the improvement of man’s life in earth. This is historically demonstrated by how poverty-stricken, disease-ridden and intellectually ignorant the general population was during the Age of Faith (the Dark Ages), and how such things were seriously turned around upon commencement of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Age of Science.

Plus, who says that purpose, ethics and values are exclusively the domain of religionists?

How can this questionable assertion be demonstrated?

Anonymous said...

"Evidence? Again, that's just it. You have plenty all around you. More information won't help prove it to you. Only intervention. That's my point."

So there is evidence for the existence of a supernatural being, specifically, your god. This is a very important claim, one of the most important in human history. You could win a Nobel prize for proving the existence of god. And instead of pointing out this evidence, so that we can observe it, you tell me that it's really pointless to even try.

Amazing. I'm going to start my own line of research. I'll submit to the journal Nature that I have created a time machine and have gone back in time. When they ask me for evidence, I'll refuse on the grounds that it really won't change their minds. They'll just have to believe me.

I know you won't answer, but I can't help but ask again, specifically, what is this evidence?

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"Corky, Paul, and others: You shouldn't mock someone for personal experiences, they are just that; personal."

It's not mockery. It's demonstrating how personal experience, in lieu of evidence, is not evidence itself for an incredible claim.

Why wouldn't you believe him?

The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

"One of the reasons why believers cannot persuade unbelievers of the existence of God is that the experience of belief takes place within the mind."

According to the Bible, god doesn't exist in your mind. He walked, talked, and ate with humans. He was physical. He also performed incredible miracles that simply can't be explained as anything other than supernatural. God's existence can be easily proven. He just has to show himself. Your "experience of belief" is totally irrelevant here.

But it is interesting- are you saying your belief in god comes not from observation, but an experience in your mind?


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"...the point is that we cannot go back in time and observe the past, therefore we can not say with absolute certainty exactly what happened billions of years ago."


Yes, but remember, the exact same principle applies to fundamentalist believers as well. And yet that fact doesn’t keep them from acting as if they have all the answers to life’s origins.

Speakerbox further wrote:
“…the atheistic crowd will use scientific evidence to refute a world view supposedly based on faith, but at the same time, will use faith to support a world view supposedly based on science.


I’ve explained in some detail during past posts why your above assertion is simply NOT the case, Speakerbox, and a complete misrepresentation of the scientific enterprise. Science is not based on any kind of faith, certainly not as the term is commonly used within the supernatural community. This is a blatant and completely misleading falsehood you are potentially spreading here.

And I don’t care what you teach or how many degrees you have after your name, if you actually believe this basic assertion (at least without providing further clarification) then you are dead WRONG – and I’ll debate you in great detail anytime, anyplace on this crucial issue, because I feel it’s THAT important.

Speakerbox concludes:
“Everything ultimately comes down to faith in something: faith in science, faith in intellectual ability, faith in revealed knowledge. The starting, and ending, point of the origin question will always be faith-based....”


Speakerbox, you couldn’t be more in error.

A very crucial factor that you conveniently leave out of your argument is the practical real-world RESULTS of the various knowledge-acquisition systems you refer to as being dependant on faith of one sort or another.

Past history (and current world affairs) presents us with many of the DISASTROUS results of truly faith-based supernatural ideologies. It also shows us how the life of man has been radically IMPROVED and extended as a result of the “faith-based” system of science. In reality, science is an EVIDENCE-based enterprise, not faith-based, in spite of what you may claim.

Under the faith-based systems of the Middle Ages the average lifespan was short and, in the main, very unpleasant. Ignorance was rampant among the common folk. But since the age of science has dawned, especially in the Western world, man’s average lifespan has slowly yet steadily been increasing, as has his typical knowledge base – well, OK, except that of most fundamentalists!

But just look at the difference in what the average life span was in 1900 in contrast to what it is now in 2009 – almost 40 years longer on average in the United States, and even longer in other countries.

Speakerbox, I sincerely am not trying to be difficult here, but if you truly DO teach courses in basic research methods, then you need to do some more serious reading on the subject. And you’ll have to excuse me if I doubt your claim here, being that we’ve had a spate of folks (Larry and Bob Thiel most recently) make claims to academic qualifications that are highly questionable, and in my view, non-existent.

I would be more than willing to carry on a respectful, civilized yet vigorous discussion along these lines, because perhaps we both (as well as our readers) have something to gain from it.

Leonardo said...

Bear_track, you'd be advised to drop the oft-refuted religiously-based reasonings of apologists like William Lane Craig (and by the way, in case you didn’t know, his modus tollens has been seriously refuted by real scientists debating him for some years now) and start reading some real cutting-edge books by real astrophysicists, like Victor Stenger, for instance, someone who has debated Craig and left him in the dust. (Yet Craig continues to use the same refuted and discredited arguments repeatedly with his religious audiences.)

Your misunderstandings of Big Bang cosmology and misconceptions of time are so many that it would take a book to thoroughly refute them all point by point. I’m not a physicist, this is not the place for such a discussion, and I realize how easily-offended you are by point-by-point refutations of your apologetics (as witnessed in our last discussion in a previous blog on the same subject of evolution), so I’ll keep this short.

But fortunately there are MANY popular books now out in the marketplace of ideas that can help folks understand these complex issues. I would recommend those by Stenger (who’s brother, by the way, was a WCG member and AC Registrar for many years out at the Pasadena campus).

Why not try reading a few?

Leonardo said...

Larry, many times in the past I've taken the time and effort to have responded to you in detail, as the blog record clearly shows, and you just ignore them.

For example, just recently I asked some serious questions of you, and what do you do: you simply EVADE, only to show up once again on a different blog topic.

And as far as referring to my posts as “drivel” – all I can say is why don’t we allow OTHER READERS decide that, eh?

All you and your fellow fundamentalists can manage to throw up in terms of your counter-arguments to evolution is “God of the gaps” type non-reasoning. In other words, because science can’t explain everything in total detail right now, therefore your supernatural assertions as to origins automatically wins by default.

This is pretty basic stuff here that you just can’t seem to quite wrap your mind around.

And your comment about human consciousness being a “total mystery to those who subscribe strictly to the philosophy of materialism” – only serves as further proof of your out-and-out ignorance of the subject. Many books have been written on the subject of human consciousness by materialists. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with some of them, and then you’d realize how completely off-base you are on your belief that it’s a complete “mystery” to them.

Actually, it seems there is a whole world of knowledge out there that is a total mystery to YOU, as is more than apparent in your typical comments.

And just so our fellow bloggers will know, this will be my FINAL response to you – unless or until you are able to post comments with the kind of depth, seriousness and intelligibility that is commensurate to the important subject matters often discussed here on AW.

As it is, your kind of quick and easy responses to some of the most vital topics the human mind can ponder only makes a mockery of them.

kiwi said...

Hi Leonardo, you said: What we question is how do you KNOW it's caused by the objective and outside intervention of an invisible deity, and not just the delusional inner workings of the human mind as guided by culturally accepted religious ideology?
This is where we may indeed hit a brick wall regarding communication because I can only give an answer that I suspect you will regard as unsatisfactory. And that is that God draws a person into a position where that person has to make a decision regarding issues that previously were never on that person’s horizon, namely, recognition that the personal state of sinfulness has caused separation from God that can only be rectified through the salvation offered by God. Salvation, not previously desired (perhaps even once derided), becomes the person’s greatest desire, along with the desire to conform to God's will through a long walk of many ups and downs.
This hub, this crux, of the issue has nothing to do with ‘culture’ (though many people’s presuppositions regarding “god” are determined by culture) as it is experienced by people of widely differing cultures.
Many people, I am sure, do worship a culturally defined ‘god’, and are still awaiting a personal encounter with the god of salvation.
I realise this is probably unsatisfactory to you.
Let’s be thankful that our western societies in the past have had so much conflict caused by attempts to enforce cultural religion that we now (mostly) recognise the need for freedom of religion, regardless of our personal opinions of one another’s beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Apostate Paul,

I would of course, listen to his story but I probably wouldn't believe him for the simple reason that I find a lot of conversion tales to be fantastic.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "In order for something to be believable it must first be reasonable." (Or something like that)

I have applied that little gem to much since my exit from armstrongism and it has served me well.

kiwi said...

Apostate Paul, see my response to Leonardo. I realize of course that God may manifest himself in any way he chooses in the physical material world – theophanies, miracles, whatever, including the incarnation. Sometimes the preaching of the gospel is/has been accompanied by miracles. However, the power of the gospel for salvation results first in a changed mind which is then evidenced in a changed life. The breaking of the enmity of the mind towards God is perhaps the greatest miracle (and explains much of the ‘conquering’ language of the Bible).
I am explaining my standpoint here. I realize you do not subscribe to these views.

Questeruk said...

Morgan’s article implies that a belief in a creator and a belief in evolution are entirely compatible.

Is there any substance to such an assertion?

Anyone with a belief in a creator needs to understand something about evolutionary science.

While on the one hand evolutionary science will not state that God doesn’t exist, on the other hand evolutionary science will not, cannot, allow for some God participating in the development of life.

It follows that at no point in the development of life can something to the effect of ‘God did this’ be allowable. Such an assertion cannot be allowed to enter the equation.

So yes, believe in a god if you want, but you cannot allow that god to have any part in the development of life.

Such a restraint would apply to other scientific areas too. Yes, believe in a god if you want, but this can have no effect as to how the universe got here, be it ‘big bang’ or some other means.

Yes, believe in a god if you like – but this can have no effect on how life originally started.

In other words, yes believe in a god if you like, as long as you don’t try to imply that this god has any part in the origin of the physical universe, the origin of life, or the complexity of life that we find here on earth.

Believe in a god if you like, but don’t dare think that this god is capable of actually DOING anything.

PurpleHymnal said...

"getting beyond our (human) concept of God?"

Um. That's the only concept of God that exists. You can't "get beyond it" unless and until you realize it for what is is: A purely human construct, born out of the imperfect self-awareness of the human mind.

PurpleHymnal said...

"But the argument that the universe is uncreated is based on a concept of time that is flawed."

String theory (and its successor, E8 theory), posits that linear time is nothing more than a delusion of the human mind, and that the past, present, and future that we perceive as humans, has absolutely no bearing on actual reality in and of itself. We could be in a small pocket of a corner of a hydra-headed multiverse, that "exists" for only a cosmic second, and then we are wiped out, only to begin anew. Or we could be incapable of scientifically "solving" quantum mechanics, because our brains are unable to comprehend a truly uncertain quantum reality.

It's really brain-bending once you set your mind to it. And no god, gods, goddesses, or supernatural entities are required. Those are just stories our ancient ancestors made up, to try and explain what they did not have the mathematics or comprehension of, at the time.

PurpleHymnal said...

"One of the reasons why believers cannot persuade unbelievers of the existence of God is that the experience of belief takes place within the mind."

Very good, now bridge the next logical gap: Your god itself, is within your own mind. And so is every other believer's god.

"Men create gods. That is the way it is in the world. Men create gods, and worship their creations. It would be far better for the gods to worship men!" Gospel of Philip

Anonymous said...

"How, when and where life originated on earth cannot be scientifically proven, at least not in the strictest sense of the word."

Not yet, anyway. But you are referring to abiogenesis, and not evolution.
Evolution has been scientifically proven in the strictest sense of the word- it happened. This is a fact.


"Anyone who takes a basic research methods course (I teach them) learns that “pure” science requires direct observation; not that we can’t learn a tremendous amount of information through inferential analysis and what not..."

In regards to making scientific observations for the purpose of gathering data to support (or abolish) a hypothesis, there is no such thing as a "pure" science of direct observation, and some second hand, lesser science of indirect observation. Both work in tandem, complementing each other, backing each other up, and supporting (or disproving) the hypothesis. If your erroneous view of science were true, then we wouldn't know many things that are true, in many areas of science. You should know this.

"...but the point is that we cannot go back in time and observe the past, therefore we can not say with absolute certainty exactly what happened billions of years ago."

We don't need direct observations from the door of a time machine in order to know that something occurred, just as we don't need to fly in a spaceship to measure the distance between stars, or scoop up a bit of planetary atmosphere to know which gases are present. This is where indirect observations come in.

But your real thrust here is "absolute certainty" and "strictest sense." You are implying that if something isn't 150% verified, then it's not true and therefore we should reject it, unless it is our belief in God and then we can just pull out the "faith card" and it's covered and acceptable.

"With that said, it seems that the atheistic crowd has a problem that is very similar to the “preach and run” crowd’s problem: the atheistic crowd will use scientific evidence to refute a world view supposedly based on faith, but at the same time, will use faith to support a world view supposedly based on science."

What world view? Name it.

Abiogenesis? No, because I don't believe or accept it due to insufficient evidence.

Evolution? No, because it is a fact that evolution occurred. There is no faith necessary just as I need no faith to accept gravity.


"Everything ultimately comes down to faith in something: faith in science, faith in intellectual ability, faith in revealed knowledge."

No. Molecular biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, all these things take no faith, and that's because science is built on observation and testing.
I think we've had this conversation before.

I don't have faith in my ability to reason, or to write a sentence. I have the ability. It's fact.

Revealed knowledge? What's that?


"The starting, and ending, point of the origin question will always be faith-based (or at least until someone invents a time machine)!"

Origin as in abiogenesis or as in evolution?
That man came from more primitive organisms isn't a faith based question any longer. Hasn't been for quite a while, except for the religious.

I think it's better to say that the "point of origin" will always be faith based for the religious. It's not for me, and I am sure that one day, science will find out how it all started, and publish it in a concise book with pictures and the religious will ignore it.

And as far as the time machine- it wouldn't change a thing for the religious, who base their worldview on faith, not evidence.


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

But Kiwi, you just have to ASSUME the whole "salvation is needed" cosmic scenario as a given axiom without any rational evidence whatsoever in order to arrive where you are at philosophically.

You can’t prove it in any way meaningful. There’s no evidence for it, except your literal understanding of it coming to us by means of the ancient writings of men, who have proven themselves wrong on many other issues science has since corrected us on - the spherical shape of the earth, for instance. So why should they be trusted in other more important ethical, spiritual or “salvation” issues if their God couldn’t even get it right with respect to the shape of the planet they lived on? After all, this Deity was said to have created it in the beginning, right? So He ought to have known what shape he created it in!

(And please don’t use the “He who sits above the circle of the earth” argument based on that passage in Isaiah 40, as the Hebrew word for circle means just that, a circular flat disk, rather than a spherical ball, another word that was available in ancient Hebrew, and that is used earlier in the same book, yet NOT here in Isaiah 40.)

What if I were to say to you, "God told me last night to murder Kiwi because of a larger purpose that you won't possibly be able to presently understand. So just do it."

Why would my "spiritual experience" be any different in essentials that yours?

And you are right, your explanation is extremely unsatisfactory to me, as it would be to any other man or woman of reason and plain common sense. But I do appreciate your effort because I truly sense a genuineness of spirit behind it, which is quite refreshing when compared to the undignified schoolyard banter we so often see here on AW from the fundamentalist camp.

The Western concept of separation between church and state that you express gratitude for did not arise out of the supernatural fundamentalist mindset or worldview – it arose out of Enlightenment rationality, which represented a major DEPARTURE from the faith-based thinking that dominated the greatest part of man’s history.

Think about this, Kiwi.

So yes, you and I both can be grateful we live in such a world of religious freedom – but also realize that it’s due IN SPITE OF, rather than BECAUSE of, the supernatural view of reality.

Anonymous said...

"However, the power of the gospel for salvation results first in a changed mind which is then evidenced in a changed life."

Kiwi, more nice sentiments, but totally irrelevant.

You said:

"One of the reasons why believers cannot persuade unbelievers of the existence of God is that the experience of belief takes place within the mind."

Again, believers can easily persuade unbelievers, and that is by pointing out evidence (for god can be observed if the Bible is true) for the existence of god. There is no need for "experience of belief" and "changed mind." Unbelievers need proof, and your insular, internal and unobservable subjective experiences count for nothing.

This is the main reason why believers fail; there is no evidence to point to.


The Apostate Paul

Jethro said...

Leonardo wrote:
Jethro wrote:
“Human experience cannot be reduced solely to the scientific and the rational.”

Why not?
Because there is a spiritual component to human existence. The spiritual component cannot be seen, just as electricity under normal conditions cannot be seen. But even though it cannot be seen, you know the electricity is there because the light comes on when you flip the switch. Likewise, human behavior is the result of spiritual power. Strife and conflict are indicative of a certain spirit as surely as love and peace are.

Jethro said...

THUS SAITH LEONARDO:
Jethro continues:
“To do so ignores the spiritual and mystical yearnings and experiences of millions of human beings through the ages.”

Just because man has “mystical yearnings” proves nothing.

I’m sure many a child-molester has similar “yearnings” that they could monstrously torture, violently rape, then brutally murder as many innocent little children as they could get their hands on without being caught and punished by the societies they live within, but that doesn’t legitimize such yearnings. Please explain the difference between “mystical” yearnings and the vicious fantasies of a child molester?

For most of it’s history mankind conceived as planet earth as being flat, but the widespread popularity or ubiquity of a belief, fantasy or “yearning” doesn’t make it true in objective reality.

AND THEN JETHRO, LIFTING HIS HANDS TO HEAVEN, REPLIED:
Spiritual yearnings have nothing to do with the shape of the earth, and it is illogical to cite one when referring to the other. Furthermore, you seem to be equating man’s search for the nature of God with the perverted desires of a child molester. One has nothing to do with the other.

Anonymous said...

"It follows that at no point in the development of life can something to the effect of ‘God did this’ be allowable. Such an assertion cannot be allowed to enter the equation. "

My own own opinion- I don't think it is a matter of god not being allowed, but that 1) there is no evidence for a god in the first place and 2) there is no evidence to point that a god had a hand in it.

Jethro said...

AND THEN LEONARDO SAID:

Jethro further wrote:
“The point of the exchange is that there is no way to prove that you love someone.”

Bovine excrement! My wife may say she loves me in words, and that’s fine, but in reality, and what means considerably more to me on a practical level, is that she provides me with hard, tangible, empirical EVIDENCE by the way she treats me and the many kind things she does for me on a daily basis – and I hope I do the same for her. That’s were the irrefutable proof and demonstrable evidence lays.

You demonstrate your love for someone by CONCRETE ACTIONS they clearly perceive and appreciate, not empty metaphysical assertions.

Your assertion that “there is no way to prove that you love someone” is utter nonsense if you would just take a few milliseconds to think it through before publically expressing such an absurdity.

TO WHICH JETHRO REPLIED:
Please calm down. Your spirit is one of anger. And you might want to take a few milliseconds to think things through before you publicly misspell publicly.
The love of which you speak is a spiritual principal which requires faith --- another spiritual principle --- to be fully whole. Our love for others or their love for us can always be redefined as being in our own self-interest. Consider the love that a dog has for his master. Is that love purely altruistic, or is it based on the food and the water and the affection and the companionship that the dog receives from the master? Who knows? We don’t know enough about how dogs think to really answer that question, and perhaps it varies from one dog to the next, but most people would contend that a dog’s affection mimics human love and that the dog is essentially acting in the dog’s best interest. What about human love? Do we do what we do for others because of purely altruistic motives, or is our love based on our own self-interest? Who knows? Perhaps we don’t know enough about how we think to really answer the question, and perhaps it varies from one person to the next. But when we have faith that we are acting on higher motives and that the other person is acting on higher motives then our love for each other reaches a higher level.

Retired Prof said...

Jethro, as part of your ongoing explanation of why you reject a purely materialistic world view, you mention the invisible power of electricity and its results. Then you make this comparison: "Likewise, human behavior is the result of spiritual power. Strife and conflict are indicative of a certain spirit as surely as love and peace are."

Later on you compare the love of a dog for its master to love between human beings, noting that we can't see into the dog's psyche to know for sure how close the comparison is.

Okay, my two dogs share love and peace most of the time, but when the pup gets too rowdy, the old bitch growls and nips him. Are these interludes of peace and bouts of strife and conflict "indicative of a certain spirit," or do you attribute dog behavior purely to material causes? If electrons manifest their power invisibly, yet are unquestionably material phenomena, isn't it possible that deeply felt human emotions might somehow be traced to invisible material causes rather than invisible spiritual ones?

Mark said...

The creation is enough evidence. "For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification]." Romans 1.

Our mere existence points us to a higher power.

Corky said...

Mark said...
"Romans 1"

Hah! Evolution sure blew that out of the water, didn't it?

Anonymous said...

"The creation is enough evidence."

How do you know everything was "created?" Just because something exists is not proof that it was magically created by a supernatural being named Jehovah.

Does the existence of a maple tree, to you, constitute evidence for the existence of Allah of the Koran? If not, then why?

"Our mere existence points us to a higher power."

I agree. I am, therefore Odin truly exists. Don't you agree?


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Jehtro wrote:
"Because there is a spiritual component to human existence. The spiritual component cannot be seen, just as electricity under normal conditions cannot be seen. But even though it cannot be seen, you know the electricity is there because the light comes on when you flip the switch. Likewise, human behavior is the result of spiritual power. Strife and conflict are indicative of a certain spirit as surely as love and peace are."


As GTA used to say when frustrated, "Balderdash!"

Jethro, you have smuggled into your above assertion so many carelessly assumed and unproven propositions for which there exists no evidence whatsoever that I honestly don't know where to begin!!

But let me give it a brief attempt.

Your analogy of “spirit” to electricity is essentially a poor one. Electricity may not be able to be immediately detectable by unaided sight, as you point out, but it can be felt (which I know from personal experience because I once stuck my finger in a live lamp socket when I was five-years-old!), smelled and heard, plus easily detected by devices amplifying human sense (a result of science, by the way) - so therefore its existence is clearly demonstrable, empirical and beyond reasonable dispute, even BEFORE the light turns on.

However, your speculative supposition about a non-detectable spiritual “power” or “component” is just that: mere speculation based upon your faith-based acceptance of ancient writings. It begs considerably more questions than it attempts to answer.

And Jethro, I noticed my response to your earlier blog was completely ignored again. Is this because you just don’t have any answers to the questions your previous assertions raised in my mind? Readers do notice these things, you know. You may be able to evade within fundamentalists circles, but not here.

And you’re not going to magically get yourself off the hook because of your imagined “Leonardo is in a spirit of anger” defense. This "response" is truly a COG classic – “My opponent is in a spirit of anger, bitterness and resentment, therefore I don’t have to intellectually engage with him in any serious way.” It’s just a way to AVOID having to logically and coherently deal with the specifics of the subject under discussion, very common among fundamentalists when they are intellectually “on the run.”

Actually, I’m not angry at all – just vigorously engaging you in an intellectual discussion. Can’t you True Believers come up with any better excuses to avoid answering the hard questions than that old worm-eaten chestnut?!

Leonardo said...

Mark writes:
“The creation is enough evidence…Our mere existence points us to a higher power.”


Mark, you seem like a well-meaning fellow, and that’s why I’m willing to engage you here.

But you’re just going to have to explain and be able to extrapolate upon in greater detail in order for your points to be more intelligible to the rest of us. The simplistic “preach & run” kind of dogmatic comment just gets you nowhere in the real world outside of Christian fundamentalism.

The reason fundamentalists such as yourself are forced to weakly resort to the “Well, God’s existence is just obvious” argument (actually an indemonstrable assertion based on appeal to dogmatic authority more than a technical argument) is because you can produce no hard evidence or rational lines of thought to offer in support of your assertion for an invisible supernatural God, in your case, Yahweh, at least evidence and reasons that can withstand serious scrutiny.

Yes, I realize that in your mind “the creation” constitutes more than enough evidence to clearly and beyond dispute establish God’s existence for you personally, and thus the matter is settled once and for all time, and that’s that.

But the real world does not function that way. And thankfully our courts of law in the Western world, although far from perfect, are not based on this overly-simplistic and completely unrealistic method. I don’t think you would like to be accused of a serious crime that you know you didn’t commit, only to have the jury proclaim “Well, in spite of the fact that we can produce no real evidence, nonetheless we still assert that the defendant is GUILTY as charged.”

And consider the fact that a Muslim can offer the same exact line of argument for the existence of Allah as you do for Yahweh – to a believer in Islam Allah’s existence is just as “obvious.” An ancient Persian from the 4th century B.C.E. could claim that the creation is evidence for the literal existence of Ahura Mazda, the One and Only Lord of all Truth. Hindu’s could make the same claims for the existence of their many thousands of various gods and goddesses.

But making such conflicting claims based on the “evidence of creation” doesn’t make them true in actual objective reality.

Even an atheistic evolutionist could adopt and make the same exact ungrounded assertion: “Well, it’s just obvious that everything has evolved from lower life forms, and we need no further prove than that!” But instead scientists have painstakingly accumulated empirical evidences of many kinds from many different fields of pursuit through the years to back up their claims. And such claims have withstood very rigorous attempts to deconstruct them, now for well over 150 years. And yet the evidence in support of evolution has only gotten stronger. The fact that religious fundamentalists refuse to acknowledge these facts does not make them magically evaporate away.

Please have the humility to be willing to consider at least some of the things I’ve mentioned here.

Speakerbox said...

Response to Leonardo Points 1-3.

Hi Leonardo, you’ve addressed a lot of issues and I must admit (and apologize for) not having read all of your previous posts (I visit this site only occasionally). So forgive me if you’ve covered some of this ground before. I would, however, like to address the points you brought up in your last posting addressed to me.

1. I did my undergraduate work at Kent State University and my graduate work at Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University; and I’ll be the first to admit that none of these are “world class” institutions.

2. I agree with you that Fundamentalist assertions are just that: assertions. Sometimes I think those assertions may do more harm than good when it comes to “recruiting” new members. Case in point: the “Compendium of World History,” a “document” even the author later denounced!

3. I stand by my statement, however, that everything (including science) begins and ends with faith. Faith is the substance of things not observed. Faith is everywhere: faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, faith that the wife isn’t cheating on you, faith that your paycheck (or direct deposit) will arrive next week, faith in your research methods, faith in the accuracy of your observations etc. No matter how sure you are that the sun will come up tomorrow, no matter how much astronomical data you accumulate, there is always a very very slim chance that it won’t rise tomorrow (the earth’s rotation gets screwed up by an asteroid or something).

The nature of science is such that uncertainty enters into the equation whenever direct observation exits the equation and, from a scientific perspective, we can only be 100% certain if we observe an event first hand. This is not my idea. I would encourage you to check out Karl Popper and his work on the principle of falsification, which stands as one of the pillars of modern science. Like many bloggers here, he argued that evolution is an un-testable (therefore un-provable) theory, but unlike many bloggers here, Popper posited that evolution is an extremely powerful and valuable “metaphysical research program” that has benefitted humanity immensely (an idea I subscribe too as well).

If Popper is correct, in order for a theory to be valid, it must first be subject to the possibility of falsification. Since we cannot go back in time to observe what actually happened, we cannot scientifically prove or disprove that life boiled up out of some primordial soup. We may of course have evidence that it could have happened in the distant past, or even that is does happen in the lab (which I understand is debatable, but since I’m not a microbiologist or biochemist, I can’t address that argument), but there is always an element of uncertainty in everything, even if it is miniscule.

Speakerbox said...

Response to Leonardo Points 4-7.

4. Leonardo, what irritates me with both the “believers” and “non believers” is that they criticize the scientific evidence offered-up by the opposing faction, but deny the fact that research on their own position is incomplete. The extreme “believer” and the extreme “non believer” can’t even communicate with each other because they refuse to even consider that the opposing group may have even a sliver of truth.

5. I think the current debate on this blog is not one of science versus faith, but one of “a lot of faith” versus “a little faith.” For the average “believer” today, it requires more faith to believe in the creation account, because they are bombarded with so much scientific evidence to the contrary, regardless of how valid that evidence truly is. To the average “non-believer” today, it requires less faith to believe in evolution: but faith IS required because technically we cannot observe exactly what happened billions of years ago.

6. I guess one of the things that interests me the most is that both sides of the evolution/creation debate want to prove their position to the point that faith is not required. This is interesting, especially for believers, because the bible tends to applaud people who had great faith; faith in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

7. I don’t disagree that religion has caused great suffering, but there were a lot of other issue going on during the dark ages (war, decline of empire, disease, famine, climate change etc) and it is an oversimplification to attribute it just to the catholic church. I would say that religious idealism/fanaticism has caused a lot of suffering, but idealism and fanaticism can be inherent in any system (communism, fascism etc.) not just religious systems. Plus one could make the argument that values such as love, mercy, compassion etc that the Bible teaches have prevented suffering: just look at the world before Christianity “took hold.” The Gladiatorial games and what not caused tremendous suffering.

Speakerbox said...

Apostate Paul… I’m certainly not arguing that we reject theory unless we have 150% positive proof based on observation (see Karl Popper and the problem with induction). All I’m saying is that the beauty (and value) of science is that it is an open system that progresses as a function of evidence. When BOTH sides of the creation/evolution debate claim that their position is already 100%proven, 100% certain, 100% validated, 100% accurate, that it is a “done deal,” then it stops being an open system subject to change as a function of evidence. Instead, it becomes a closed system and scientific debate becomes a debate subject to reification and circular reasoning. My whole point in this post, and the one addressed to Leonardo, is that BOTH sides must be open to new evidence if the debate is to be termed scientific.

For the record, I believe that life is far too complex and varied to have arisen spontaneously, but I also recognize that natural science cannot, by definition, take into account supernatural explanations. But I’m OK with that, because I realize that natural science doesn’t have all the answers, and even though I am a scientist, I am not so dogmatic to claim that it does have all the answers.

I would encourage everyone to read “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. I don’t agree with everything he says, but once again, that is OK – I don’t have to agree 100% with a particular author or a particular position to find it enlightening and useful: a form of tolerance that many folks here seem reluctant to embrace.

Leonardo said...

I’ll attempt to put my comment on the most recent creation/evolution posted by Gavin here as it appears a glitch has occurred and it doesn’t allow for comments to be posted there.

On the whole I found Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase’s article very refreshing, and, as always, thank Gavin for bringing it to our attention.

But a few thoughts have been triggered by my reading of it.

Has anyone ever deeply reflected upon the question as to WHY there is such a push among the guardians of certain religions to arrive at a peaceful coexistence between the teachings of their sacred scriptures and the findings of modern science – what in my view amounts to an extremely unnatural intermingling of what many among them would still frame in terms of the sacred and the profane?

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but many religious communities didn’t exactly start out this way. The past historical record of virtually all Christian denominations, with few exceptions, is one of unvarnished hostility against Darwinism. And this hostility remains in many of them, including the WCG-splinter COG’s.

I submit that this desire for rapprochement is because smart religionists realize they’d better stop arguing against the plain and indisputable findings of science or they’re going to have another embarrassing Galileo case on their hands, which in the present climate, they just cannot philosophically afford.

After all, supernaturalistic religion has found itself on the losing side of many battles with science before. As I tirelessly point out, the clergy fought against Ben Franklin’s lightening rod, which saved many a house in the Colonial Period of America from disastrous lightening strikes and the subsequently resulting fire. They did this on the grounds that a lightening strike was a punishment from an angry God as a result of the secret sins of the homeowners.

The clergy fought against anesthetics when they first were used to relieve human suffering in dental and medical contexts – after all, God meant for mankind to feel pain. The list goes on indefinitely.

Fundamentalist Muslims are completely dependant upon technology, virtually all of which has originated in the West simply because their backward faith-based cultures could not have produced such wonders. Western technology not only discovered the oil in the sands of the Middle East, but provided the know-how to bring it up, refine it and turn it into black gold, making many Arabs wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, a status they could have never reached without Western technological development and knowledge.

Fundamentalists are particularly hypocritical in this area, and they openly contend against many of the methods and findings of science, and yet enjoy everyday of their lives the practical consequences of such methodologies like electricity, automobiles, CD players, telephone, computers, medical technologies and procedures, etc.

These kinds of articles are often written by scientists, but often by those having academic qualifications in fields outside of astronomy, physics, geology, biology, paleontology, etc. Although in this case Grace Wolf-Chase is a legitimate astronomer. But surveys always confirm that among scientists in these above fields no more than 7%, and often less, of them consider themselves as theists. And frequently this is accomplished by erecting huge philosophical walls that artificially separate the various compartments of their lives. But that’s a whole other topic.

Leonardo said...

And as I wrote to a recent fundamentalist blogger some weeks ago, sure, many of the comments of those who in defense of reason and science may sound arrogant and disputatious to those grown accustomed to sugar-coated explanations of things. But that’s because undisguised clarity is easily mistaken for arrogance by those of undiscriminating minds who are willing to compromise in order to achieve peace at any cost. But this issue is too important, and has too many potential implications for us all, to give ground away unjustifiably in behalf opf peaceful coexistence.

Bottom line, and to repeat once again: supernatural religious belief is FAITH-based, science is EVIDENCE-based. Short of major scientific finding that has the potential to upturn and knock over virtually every working scientific theory discovered up to the present time, there IS, always HAS been, and always WILL be a major chasm between these two competing worldviews. The historical fruits of both are plain for all to see if we be but willing to face up to the historical FACTS.

Ask yourself which culture would you rather live and raise a family within: Medieval Europe or modern day Islamic countries dominated by religious, supernaturally grounded faith-based fervor – or in those dominated by secular scientific and political institutions?

Make your choice, because in reality you do indeed make such a decision every single time you argue either FOR or AGAINST the findings of the modern scientific enterprise, evolutionary theory being just one of them.

The author of this article takes a halfway position between faith and science no different than Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Genome Project. I’m currently reading Dr. Collins’ 2006 book “The Language of God” and am finding his arguments very commonplace, easily rebutted and basically based upon the writings of the late C. S. Lewis, a former atheist and popular Christian apologist whose arguments I’ve never found particularly convincing at all. Although at the behest of Dr. Collins, I’m more than willing to give Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” another reading at this stage of my life.

I will say that I very much appreciate the author’s clarification of the word “theory” in her article. Of course, I and many others have made this basic clarification many times previously on this web site, and perhaps her words will sink in, because ours certainly haven’t.

larry said...

It takes a great amount of FAITH to accept the idea that sentient life, with consciousness and free will, came into existence BY ACCIDENT.

When you boil all the arguments (for and against evolution, ID, etc.) down to the basics, it always comes down that. Accident of nature or design??

The more important question is not how?...but why?

Mark said...

"Yes, I realize that in your mind “the creation” constitutes more than enough evidence to clearly and beyond dispute establish God’s existence for you personally, and thus the matter is settled once and for all time, and that’s that."

Yep, pretty much, and good catch. I think you are under the misguided assumption that I am somehow trying to convert you or convince you that God exists. I am not. I am also not frustrated or frantic because you assert that Christians are naive and fail miserably because we don't offer you proof. I can't convince you of anything. You know the arguments for God and you also have your arguments against the existence of God. You have chosen a side. Posting long replies to strut your spiritual independence may feel good, but it doesn't bother me in the least. I believe that the origin of everything is God and you either don't or don't have an answer to that. I don't know why you get offended at my faith because I don't get offended that you put your faith in science.

I also won't debate your references to other gods because that is a red herring. Debating the nature of God isn't the same as whether God exists. Surely you are aware of your own logical fallacies.

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox, I agree with you on points 1 and 2, but I’m afraid we’ll have to part company on 3.

you wrote:
“Faith is everywhere: faith that the sun will rise tomorrow…faith that your paycheck (or direct deposit) will arrive next week…”


I’m sorry, Speakerbox, but these are not examples of faith, certainly as understood and used by religious believers. They are rather very evidence-based and rational predictions or extrapolations based upon plenty of past EMPIRICAL occurrences of the same. Can you ever cite a day where the sun in the past DIDN’T rise? Or where your check didn’t arrive, which isn’t the best example because this is one illustrated by a transitory human reality rather than a metaphysically-given reality like the sunrise. But you get my point.

You also mention:
“faith that the wife isn’t cheating on you….”


This too is based upon past experience or observation, but again this is more a matter of trust rather than blind religious faith based upon no empirical evidence whatsoever.

Speakerbox, I’m sensing, based upon the rather weak examples you offer to prove your point, that our differences here are more semantic in nature, a quibbling about word definition, involving the specific definitions of words such as “faith” etc. “Faith,” like “love” can mean many different things to many different people.

And yes, I’ve read Karl Popper and am very familiar with his work.

You continue:
“If Popper is correct, in order for a theory to be valid, it must first be subject to the possibility of falsification.”


But evolutionary theory can easily be falsified in any number of ways – and, as you well know, a Noble Prize and more scientific accolades that can possibly be imagined awaits the scientist or team of scientists that can provide the peer-reviwed evidence that can do it.

Finding a mammal in the Cambrian strata, for example. Finding human footprints along side of T-Rex footprints that are radiometrically dated to the same or relatively close geological epochs.

(And for all you fundamentalists out there, don’t bother citing your infamous Paluxy River “findings,” still trotted out by believers, even though they have been proven hoaxes years ago. Fairly recently I had a UCG guy try that one on me. Imagine that, decades after proven false, creationists still insist on using these obsolete and easily-refuted examples to deny evolution!)

There’s probably few scientific theories that have stood up over time to more attempts to deconstruct it than evolutionary theory. Yet it still stands, and grows more powerful each year. Would you question these assertions?

You conclude:
“there is always an element of uncertainty in everything….”


Agreed. But then we get into the area of probabilities. Just because we can’t make any assertion with 100% philosophical certainty doesn’t mean that we can’t arrive very close to certainty, PRACTICAL certainty for all intents and purposes. Your perspective and examples here seem very much influenced by post-modern thought – i.e., that science is nothing more than a cultural construct, and therefore no more valid than any other so-called knowledge acquisition system (like religious faith, Medieval alchemy, New Age crystal gazing, etc.).

I could explain this point in greater detail if you’d like, because it is important.

And again let me remind everybody that simply finding gaps of knowledge in evolutionary theory in no way provides positive evidence that fundamentalist supernatural suppositions as to origins therefore automatically win by default. I’ve tried to explain this until I’m blue in the face in past posts here, but our fundamentalists bloggers just can’t seem to quite understand that important point.

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"When BOTH sides of the creation/evolution debate claim that their position is already 100%proven, 100% certain, 100% validated, 100% accurate, that it is a “done deal"...."


But you can’t cite an example of this being the case.

Certainly not from the scientific side of the argument. Science has NEVER done this - it's findings are always provisional and tentative in nature, and therefore open to further evidence and thus disconfirmation.

Yet fundamentalist religion does it all the time - it's 100% proven because it’s revealed by God and is therefore not wrong!

Just go back an re-read some of the recent creation/evolution debates that have taken place here on AW for clear and irrefutable evidence of my above assertions.

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"even though I am a scientist, I am not so dogmatic to claim that it does have all the answers."


But can you provide just ONE example of a scientist (or science as a methodology) who HAS claimed that he (or it) has ALL the answers?

You are putting science and religion on equal ground here by acting as if science is routinely guilty of the things fundamentalist religion does all the time, indeed is grounded in.

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox writes:
"I would say that religious idealism/fanaticism has caused a lot of suffering, but idealism and fanaticism can be inherent in any system (communism, fascism etc.) not just religious systems."


Yes, indeed, as I've stated MANY times before here on AW. IRRATIONALITY comes in numerous guises - religious, secular, or whatever. But it is irrationality nonetheless no matter what ideology it is ultimately rooted in.

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox writes:
"I would say that religious idealism/fanaticism has caused a lot of suffering, but idealism and fanaticism can be inherent in any system (communism, fascism etc.) not just religious systems."


Yes, indeed, as I've stated MANY times before here on AW. IRRATIONALITY comes in numerous guises - religious, secular, or whatever. But it is irrationality nonetheless no matter what ideology it is ultimately rooted in.


Speakerbox wrote:
“Plus one could make the argument that values such as love, mercy, compassion etc that the Bible teaches have prevented suffering: just look at the world before Christianity “took hold.” The Gladiatorial games and what not caused tremendous suffering.”


Well, I could argue very powerfully against that statement. But let it suffice to say that Christianity does not have a corner on the values and ethics of love, mercy and compassion. Surely you know this.

Speakerbox, I do not deny your academic credentials as a scientist. I can tell that by how you express yourself.

However, you seem rather poorly-read in both philosophy as well as history.

What a religion TEACHES is often very different from what is has historically PRACTICED. Would you call the Spanish Inquisition “loving, merciful or compassionate?” Or would you honestly call all the hurt and pain caused to innocent people in the heyday of the WCG the same?

The famed British historian of the period of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon said that the first and second century A.D. under the rule of the Roman Emperors was perhaps the happiest time of all human history when taken on the whole and compared with other human cultures he had knowledge of up this his day when he wrote his great work, about the mid 1770’s to mid 1780’s. Gibbon’s work is still read today, it was so thoroughly documented, well-researched and wonderfully written.

Yes, there were terrible examples of violence from that period.

But to imply that Christianity suddenly brought love, mercy, compassion and peace into the world after it’s spread in post-Roman times would be nonsense. In actual fact, it’s acceptance by large masses of people lead up to one of the most horrific periods of human history ever recorded: the Dark Ages, where faith-based religion, while, as you wisely pointed out, was not the ONLY factor of the time that lead to suffering, nonetheless certainly was a very foundational one, and without question the most widespread of all other factors.

Anonymous said...

"I’m certainly not arguing that we reject theory unless we have 150% positive proof based on observation (see Karl Popper and the problem with induction). All I’m saying is that the beauty (and value) of science is that it is an open system that progresses as a function of evidence."


Here's what you said:

“pure” science requires direct observation... but the point is that we cannot go back in time and observe the past, therefore we can not say with absolute certainty exactly what happened billions of years ago."

There's nothing open and progressive here. You give lip service to indirect observation (not being there to see it) but you exclude it from the table. According to your special science, geologists don't really know how old a certain rock is and an astronomer certainly doesn't know how far away a star is. You don't understand science if you really believe this, and I think you do- when it comes to evolution, that is.

And you are saying if we don't have direct observation, then we can't accept the theory. Read your own words again.



And Karl Popper? Quote Mine Time!

Yes, in 1976 Popper did not believe that natural selection as a mechanism of evolution was testable- not evolution itself which he accepted. Of course, he recanted in 1985 and admitted that yes, natural selection is testable.

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA211_1.html

Were you too lazy to do an internet search?

But anyway, evolution is testable, and easily falsifiable. You could have found this out by a simple internet search, too.


"My whole point in this post, and the one addressed to Leonardo, is that BOTH sides must be open to new evidence if the debate is to be termed scientific."

It's not a scientific debate all around- it's a debate between proponents of science, backed by 150 years of solid scientific evidence, and people who believe in supernatural beings who have no evidence to support their claim of Goddidit, nor evidence to refute evolution. Nice misdirection, though. If I didn't know any better, you've completely forgotten what we were originally discussing.



"For the record, I believe that life is far too complex and varied to have arisen spontaneously..."

So, once again. Are we talking abiogenesis or evolution? Because the occurrence of the latter is a fact.

But, like all Intelligent Design/Creationists, you constantly try to merge the two in order to cast doubt on one.

I find it reprehensible that a scientist pretends- because I think you know better- to subscribe to the unscientific notion that if we can't travel back in time to witness an event, then we can't put any confidence in its occurrence.

I think you do know better- you just have a two versions of science. One for things that do not encroach on your religious beliefs, and a type of special science for things that threaten your beliefs.


The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

The nature of science is such that uncertainty enters into the equation whenever direct observation exits the equation and, from a scientific perspective, we can only be 100% certain if we observe an event first hand.

There is always a certain level of uncertainty in any observation or experiment. We expect it and adjust for it.
And 100% is not necessary to accept the fact that something exists, or occurred. I think that there are very few scientific theories or areas of science that are 100% certain. But once again, this is your slinking, weasel point- if we can't be 100% sure of a theory, then we reject it. And since we can't go back in time and make a direct observation, then we can't be 100% sure that evolution (or is it abiogenesis?) occurred, therefore....we can't trust it.

Like many bloggers here, he argued that evolution is an un-testable (therefore un-provable) theory

No he didn't. Do your homework next time.


we cannot scientifically prove or disprove that life boiled up out of some primordial soup.

Oh, so we are talking about abiogenesis. If it did happen, we can't prove it right now, not because we can't go back in time, but because there isn't sufficient scientific evidence (which you don't understand obviously) yet. But I'm not saying it happened. Did you, Leonardo? Corky?

If no one here has stated that abiogenesis occurred, then why keep focusing on it?

Because, it's excellent misdirection.

Do you accept evolution?



The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Oh, and by the way, Speakerbox, I just purchased Timothy Keller's book "The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism" and am starting to read it.

I must admit I not only like his style of writing, but his way of engaging those who are skeptical of fundamentalist claims, ideology and arguments.

However, so far I must say his arguments are not terribly convincing, at least to me they aren't. But I’m just in the early portions of the book.

Hey, let’s hear a round of applause here: Questeruk is reading a book arguing for the facts of evolution as shown in the geological column, and I’m reading two books (“The Language of God” and “The Reason for God”) - both of which argue for Christian belief. So perhaps people here are not as ossified in their ideological positions as many assume them to be!

Contrary to what many people here so wrongly believe about me, I know deep down in my heart of hearts that I'm NOT stubbornly closed to theistic arguments at all. I'm more than willing to seriously consider them. I seek and want the ultimate truth about reality. And I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to extend, deepen and expand my understanding of reality. It's just that I find the vast majority of theistic argument to be remarkably weak and unpersuasive, filled with circular reasoning and other logical fallacies, especially the fundamentalist kind, as often show up here on AW.

Perhaps having been an ardent fundamentalist believer for 30+ years of my adult life in the COG’s is the primary cause of this. I think many of these arguments may persuade those who haven't already had that experience. But I have, and was wholeheartedly immersed in it as I’ve never immersed myself in any other pursuit of my life.

And I know from dearly-bought experience that many of the promises and claims of Christianity just don’t pan out in everyday life "as advertised." But I don’t allow that experience to close my mind to further facts, evidences and lines of reasoning that may shed further light upon reality.

AW Reader said...

Leonardo-

I'm glad you are reading the Collins book. I've done so twice.

Be sure to highlight the honest statements by Collins on pages 78, 164 and 201 concerning the lack of logical proofs for God.

The author's story of his conversion is quite unconvincing as is his time as an atheist.

Speakerbox said...

Leonardo.
I too think we are mincing words and are closer on some of these issues than it appears at first glance. Yes, some of Keller’s arguments appear “weak,” but remember, he is trying to use natural science to explain a supernatural phenomenon, which is difficult, to say the least. If we could understand and explain God via science, then wouldn’t science be greater than God? :)

Apostate Paul:
You bring up a great point: evolution, natural selection or abiogenesis, and I apologize for using the terms interchangeably (many folks here do). And it is true that Popper later recanted, and admitted that there had been some successful tests of natural selection, but he still viewed it as a metaphysical research program. To Quote Popper: "All scientific theories are conjectures, even those that have successfully passed many severe and varied tests." My point is that no one can be 100% certain they are right, but the tone of many of the posts seem to be pretty black and white, cut and dried, and of the “I’m right, you’re wrong” variety.

I’m a social psychologist, so I readily admit that my training in philosophy and history is incomplete and has been limited to a few courses taken back in the 90’s. But, as a social psychologist, I am very familiar with the principles and processes of group polarization, which I definitely see here! Group polarization can reach a point where there is no common ground, not even enough for rudimentary discussion. At that point, it simply becomes a shouting match where people talk “at” each other, instead of “to” each other.

In psychology we know that some folks have a high need for “cognitive closure,” that some folks find uncertainty extremely aversive. I think that a lot of folks who are in the various COG’s (or was at some point in the past), have such a need for cognitive closure. After all, aren’t they the “only true church,” are the “special called-out ones,” and the “only group through which God is working;” and was there not a sense that COG members are privy to special information, that all the other religions are wrong and under the control of the devil and that only they possessed the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

I submit that many folks who may have left the various COG’s still have this need for cognitive closure: they may not find fulfillment of this need in religion, but instead try to fulfill it with science; this is sometimes problematic for them because uncertainty is built into the very process of science and we must recognize that fact.

All I’m saying is that everyone needs to keep an open mind if this discussion is to be deemed a scientific one. To paraphrase (and update) Shakespeare: “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in any philosophy (or science). “

Leonardo said...

OK, Mark then I guess we'll have to leave it at that.

But you did write:
"I also won't debate your references to other gods because that is a red herring. Debating the nature of God isn't the same as whether God exists. Surely you are aware of your own logical fallacies."


Just out of curiosity, what are my specific logical fallacies in your view. I'm not aware of any, but then it's always possible, and an outside perspective is always helpful.

Leonardo said...

Apostate Paul, I agree with your responses to Speakerbox. You say things more forcefully than I tend to because I've been accused of being mean-spirited, and am trying not to offend. Perhaps this is a mistake that I need to adjust.

However, with respect to Speakerbox's essential line of reasoning, I think, as I broached before in one of my responses to him, it really comes down to a philosophical issue here, or more precisely, an epistemological one.

As I’ve mentioned before, I very much subscribe to the fundamental essentials of Objectivism. And this whole issue being discussed between you, Speakerbox and I boils down to this single question: Can the mind of man achieve certainty – or is he doomed to perpetual doubt?

I think mankind potentially CAN arrive at much higher levels of certainty than Speakerbox currently gives us credit for. In certain areas mankind actually HAS.

But I profoundly take odds with, for example, Bertrand Russell’s nonsense that “…nobody can be certain of anything.” This is nothing more than a forerunner of post-modernist philosophy so widespread today, which I also intensely disagree with. The “nobody can be certain of anything” non-argument is in itself an expressed certainty, is it not? – which, if one accepts it as a valid certainty, then this constitutes a self-contradiction, since it’s claimer cannot be certain that his claim to certainty about nothing being certain is absolutely certain! Do you follow!!!

And I agree with you also that this issue, at least as currently expressed by Speakerbox, is intended to confuse rather than it is to clarify, whether he purposely intends it as such or not.

I know firsthand from dealing with boatloads of nutty fundamentalists (both here on AW and elsewhere), as well as more serious Christian apologists, that they are often highly-skilled at throwing up verbal “smoke and mirrors” in order to confuse what otherwise are fairly obvious and clear issues, because such issues present serious challenges to their cherished supernatural ideologies, and these “spiritually revealed truths” are to be protected at all costs, even to the point of having to resort to deception in order to preserve and perpetuate them.

Please understand, though, that I'm NOT accusing Speakerbox of being a fundamentalist, nor of these motives. Actually, on the contrary, I very much appreciate someone of his background to be willing to engage in serious back and forth discussion - which is such a delightfully refreshing change in contrast to dealing with the many "preach & run" bloggers who say nothing meaningful yet expect to still be taken seriously. You know, like those who claim to be scientists with doctorates from “world class universities” and yet who time and again have painfully demonstrated that they cannot logically defend their views if their lives depended on it!

Anyway, Gents, I very much appreciate the discussion.

Speakerbox said...

Yes...very refreshing discussion folks..and by the way, I'm not trying to be slippery or confuse any issues. Just trying to figure out the nature of existence, and the meaning of life. No hard feelings, all the way around. :)

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"...[Keller] is trying to use natural science to explain a supernatural phenomenon, which is difficult, to say the least. If we could understand and explain God via science, then wouldn’t science be greater than God?"


Yes, but I'll go on record as saying its way beyond difficult - it's impossible. Science deals with measurable entities - but how can you measure (and therefore meaningfully discuss) supernatural realms which by their very nature are said to be beyond the five natural senses?

With respect to your last sentence, perhaps science WILL eventually prove to be greater than God, especially if such a deity is only a figment of collective ancient human imagination.

As I say, I'm totally open to further discoveries, which may prove my current view to be incorrect at some point in time out into the future, but until then, I'll stick with the known and demonstrable facts of the situation rather than unsupported faith-based supernatural assertions.

Speakerbox further wrote:
"All I’m saying is that everyone needs to keep an open mind if this discussion is to be deemed a scientific one."


Agreed. But I ask you, which basic side is open to factual evidence, indeed is based upon empirical facts, and which one already has their minds made up because facts are completely irrelevant to their God-given supernatural perspective?

Speakerbox, be completely honest with yourself here. I think you know the answer.

As to your comment about group polarization: yes, but don’t fall into the postmodern pit that essentially states that all opinions or arguments are equally valid. This is total nonsense – just as nonsensical as giving equal time in modern classrooms to both medieval alchemy and modern atomic-based chemistry in the interests of fairness would be.

As to cognitive closure – I agree with you there too. I’ve often observed that fundamentalists have a tremendous personal aversion to uncertainty, of which there is plenty in the world. In trying to understand this mindset I’ve come to see that probably the most important question is, “What does faith deliver to such a mindset, what deep need does it attempt to satisfy?” In many cases I’ve come to see that faith often serves to sooth an underlying terror in such folks by providing them with a culturally acceptable excuse of long vintage to run away from factual realities - or stated another way, in the words of Nietzsche, "Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”

And though I’m not a professional in the field as you are, I know enough about the psychology of the human mind (I majored in psychology at AC) to understand that sound mental health can only come when an individual mind is willing to confront the known and justifiable facts of any given situation, rather than ignoring them in order to keep passively lingering around ancient “warm and fuzzy” fantasies.

Speakerbox concludes:
“…uncertainty is built into the very process of science and we must recognize that fact.”


Yes, to a degree, as it is in ALL human endeavors, but I would invite you to consider my assertion that it occupies a considerably smaller place in fact-based science than it does in supernaturally faith-based religion.

And I think all concerned here could at least agree to that.

I enjoy dialoging with both you and Apostate Paul.

Anonymous said...

No one has ever provided any credible evidence for the supernatural.

So it's not a matter of having a "materialistic worldview" and not allowing for anything outside of that worldview- there's no other alternative!

When someone can provide evidence that there is something other than reality as we know it, then we can include the possibility of the supernatural.

Even more so for the existence of god. When one can prove that there is a supernatural realm, then we can allow for the existence of god. Otherwise, it's an argument purely from imagination. To me, people arguing for the existence of god could just as well be arguing for the existence of creatures who dwell on the astral plane.

You give credibility to believers when you leave behind the notion of evidence and fact and allow for exhaustive philosophical gasbaggery- which comprises most of the believer's "evidence." Just words. The tawdry theological and philosophical debates between believers and non-believers is nothing more than mental masturbation which gives believers a loophole out of actually having to prove the existence of god.

You show me a book defending religious belief which is evidence-based, and I'll gladly read it. But I don't have the stomach for theological arguments which never, nor can they ever, prove a thing. It's a waste of time. Imagine a book supporting evolution, which contained nothing but philosophical arguments. A bit silly, and unecessary, don't you think?



The Apostate Paul

Anonymous said...

Speakerbox:


I understand now, why you can't grasp how science, or at least the physical sciences, work. You're a psychologist. Not to knock psychology. And not that it's an excuse, either.

And I had a laugh at the rest of your post- I love it when people ignore the main issue and try to replace it with another issue. Once again, this isn't an scientific debate between two parties- it's a debate between the proponents of science and rationality and the proponents of anti-science and superstition. And it's irrelevant whether I, or you, think that this is a "valid" scientific debate. You can keep your Medal of Tolerance and Goodwill.

Once again, do you accept evolution?


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Again, I agree 100% with what you are saying, Apostate Paul – essentially that appeal to the “supernatural” is a cheap substitute for lack of evidence for the many unproven (and unprovable) assertions of fundamentalists.

Personally, I no longer conceptualize reality as being divided into “physical” and “spiritual.” And this is not something I’ve done only since leaving the fundamentalist belief system of the COG.

I’ve always somehow sensed that this artificial division reflects a huge ASSUMPTION smuggled in by mystical religionists. Instead I envision reality holistically, as one entire whole, and legitimate claims as to the nature of it as being based on one thing: it is actually and objectively TRUE, rather than dividing truths up as either physical (natural) or spiritual (supernatural) in nature. And if such an asserted claim is true, then there will be evidence or otherwise rational reasons in support of it.

I can offer some sound arguments to the effect that this unnecessary compartmentalization of reality causes more confusion than clarity.

Mystics down through history (and their modern-day counterparts, religious fundamentalists) – along with JFK conspiracy theorists - have often been caught fabricating factoids and documents in order to further spread and lend credence to their loony belief systems.

By appealing to some unknown and unknowable realm as “the supernatural” religionists do the same thing in principle. If you are unable to prove your extraordinary truth claims, the "solution" is quite simple: just make up in your own imagination another “dimension” to the reality with which we are all , and “poof” - any thing or claim then becomes possible!

But the vast majority of mystics are simply too blinded by their faith-based religious fervor and zeal to understand this.

Speakerbox said...

Apostate Paul

Of course I accept evolution. No credible scientist can deny it.

My beef with the whole discussion really boils down to the issue of uncertainty and the general unwillingness for either side to admit to the roles that uncertainty and faith play in their world view (although some, such as Leonardo, have left open the possibility of new evidence changing their views).

One can be a religious person and feel as if they have the whole truth, but they should be willing to admit that their view depends a great deal upon faith and be tolerant of others who may see things differently.

But those who claim science as the basis for their world view should never say they have all the facts and that uncertainty doesn't exist. There is always the posibility that new evidence can be presented which would somehow modify or change a theory (See Kuhn).

In regards to the supernatural..if you are waiting for the natural sciences to prove a supernatural event or Being, then you'll be waiting a long time because, by definition, they really are two different things: apples and oranges.

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"those who claim science as the basis for their world view should never say they have all the facts and that uncertainty doesn't exist."


But WHO has ever said this representing science?

Nobody!

And thus it's nothing more than an easily knocked down straw man argument.

Anonymous said...

"In regards to the supernatural..if you are waiting for the natural sciences to prove a supernatural event or Being, then you'll be waiting a long time because, by definition, they really are two different things: apples and oranges."

Another version of "science doesn't know everything" and "science can't measure God." Special pleading. No different than if I claimed to have a dragon under my bed- but so sorry, he can't be measured by "science."

Many of the gods who are worshipped, at least in their respective holy texts, supposedly have taken physical form and performed miracles in the sight of man- both measurable. Jehovah, at least before the last 2000 years, regularly made guest appearances here on planet earth for all to see.

Most other supernatural occurrences are reported by people- who saw/felt/heard something. The problem is they can never provide credible evidence to back their claims.

So please, you can believe in the supernatural, but don't try to justify the total lack of evidence by awarding it special status.

The Apostate Paul

Speakerbox said...

Leonardo, it's not what people say (or write), it is the tone of what they say or write; it implies that evolutionary theory and abiogenesis are done deals and they will never change or progress. I've probably read too much into the posts... and I do apologize for beating this into the ground, but I would encourage you (and Apostate Paul) to think about whether the same "Holier Than Thou" mentality that you may have had while in WCG is not manifesting itself in a "I'm Smarter Than Thou" attitude when it comes to other bloggers who are still in the COG culture.

I've been through this: early on, I was obsessed with religion and I later took that same obsessive nature and focused on psychology. The obsessive nature was the same, the only difference was the object of the obsession.

Apostate Paul Wrote: "Many of the gods who are worshipped, at least in their respective holy texts, supposedly have taken physical form and performed miracles in the sight of man- both measurable"

I submit if such a thing were to happen today, we could devise numerous scientific explanations...space aliens, advanced life-form etc. I agree with you that the natural sciences can not prove God exists.

Apostate Paul Wrote: "Most other supernatural occurrences are reported by people- who saw/felt/heard something. The problem is they can never provide credible evidence to back their claims."

To a very large degree, I agree with you here as well.

Apostate Paul Wrote: Another version of "science doesn't know everything" and "science can't measure God." Special pleading.

So are you saying that through science you can "know" all things?

If the answer is "yes," then you nullify the possibility than any thing better than the scientific method exists (wouldn't that make science a type of personal god then?)

If the answer is "no," then beware, mental masturbation lurks around the corner!

Anonymous said...

"....that evolutionary theory and abiogenesis are done deals and they will never change or progress..."

Helmsman! Correct course!

You're misdirecting again.

1) that evolution occurred is a done deal

2) no one here (and many other scientists) have ever said they accept abiogenesis as a done deal- I've said this over and over- can't you read??

3) Your new misdirection is yet another straw man- who here (and ANY scientist in the field) has said that evolution and abiogenesis aren't progressing? What is a done deal is that evolution occurred; exactly how it occurred is another matter. And abiogenesis is the very picture of a hypothesis that changes and progresses with new data.


"I submit if such a thing were to happen today, we could devise numerous scientific explanations..."

A man walking through a wall? Rising from the dead after three days? Calling fire down from the sky at a command? At a command, raining fire and brimstone on a specific city? Splitting the sea, and holding it apart for hours? Levitating into the clouds?

No, these are measurable events- we can observe and record them, and whether some people would construe them as non-supernatural events, it's irrelevant- these events are outside of our understanding. And you know this- you are only taking this position to cling to your mantra that god can't be measured.


"Apostate Paul Wrote: Another version of "science doesn't know everything" and "science can't measure God." Special pleading.

So are you saying that through science you can "know" all things? "

No, I'm not, and you know it. You are either dense, or being obtuse (I think the latter). What I am saying is that we can, through science (observe, measure, record) the supernatural, and the god of the bible.

The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"...I would encourage you (and Apostate Paul) to think about whether the same "Holier Than Thou" mentality that you may have had while in WCG is not manifesting itself in a "I'm Smarter Than Thou" attitude when it comes to other bloggers who are still in the COG culture."


It's NOT a matter of being smarter - I just barely made it out of high school, and the only reason I did well in college was because I was so incredibly motivated at AC.

However, it IS a matter of using to the fullest degree possible whatever natural intelligence one finds him or herself in possession of that makes the difference – plus arming that mind with better knowledge and methods of thinking, which is to say superior epistemology.

I’m not going to apologize for myself or Apostate Paul for this at all. It’s pretty plain to see when you go through and read the many blog issues that arise here on AW, especially those having to do with evolutionary science.

And actually, we are in agreement. As for myself, I’ve come to see that having a genuinely humble, child-like (as opposed to childish) openness to demonstrable FACTS is the ONLY way to get anywhere in life, especially in arriving at an accurate understanding of reality, which is my primary field of endeavor.

Self-righteousness, arrogance, assuming one knows more than what one actually does, claiming to have academic degrees one in fact does NOT possess, boasting, childish school yard banter, ad hominem attacks in place of sound arguments, etc., these have absolutely NO place whatsoever in the search for ultimate truth.

Yet we see such unflattering character traits and methods often in the many fundamentalist bloggers who post here. Just go back and re-read in their entirety some of the recent blogs on evolution for indisputable evidence of this.

Speakerbox said...

Apostate Paul and Leonardo:

I owe you both a sincere apology. As I mentioned before (and this by no means excuses me), I’m an infrequent visitor here. In response to Apostate Paul’s “can’t you read?” challenge,and Leonardo's heart-felt response in his previous post, I went back and read through the entire thread and found some statements you both had previously made that I had completely missed (the leprechaun example).

I think we can safely say that the three us are in agreement on the following issues:

1. Evolution has taken place.

2. The exact mechanisms,
processes etc. of evolution are currently understood, but are subject to change as a function of new scientific evidence

3. abiogenesis is a working theory, also subject to change as a function of evidence

4. You two are more comfortable with the evidence for (or maybe, better yet the “idea” or concept of) abiogenesis than I am, but I think none of us are qualified to debate the intricacies of microbial life (I’m certainly not).

We part company on some of the epistemological/philosophical issues associated with what can be known for certain.

I appreciate both of you taking time to discuss these issues, because it has forced me to clarify some of my own thoughts on the subjects we’ve broached. I wasn’t being dense (well, maybe a little bit obtuse on purpose), but I was arguing against what I perceived to be an “I know all things” mentality; a mentality that I came to find very distasteful in the COG’s.

Leonardo said...

Apostate Paul, I don’t know about you, but I'm out of here as far as this particular blog goes.

These folks are no longer being genuine, nor seeking out real answers and understanding here, and hence are now just wasting our time.

As you correctly point out, when they simply won't face the facts, they are left with no other choice but to endlessly misdirect the discussion – just another means of evasion.

This is what I mean when I refer to the common fundamentalists tactic of “verbal smoke and mirrors” – which usually is a sure sign they’ve exhausted their stock supply of arguments, are no longer able to sustain a meaningful conversation, and yet can’t admit to error.

It’s at that point that I just bow out.

Anonymous said...

"....but I was arguing against what I perceived to be an “I know all things” mentality; a mentality that I came to find very distasteful in the COG’s."


You were arguing to the choir, so to speak.


The Apostate Paul

Leonardo said...

Speakerbox wrote:
"...I was arguing against what I perceived to be an “I know all things” mentality; a mentality that I came to find very distasteful in the COG’s."


Yes, we most definitely agree on this, Speakerbox. I also found this character trait quite irritating as well, but very predictable within the COG’s – especially in folks who were as ignorant as they come.

Let me go on record as saying I know with 100% absolute certainty beyond all question that I most definitely do NOT know all things! In fact, compared to what there potentially is to know, I actually know very little – and hence, the humble attitude of a learner is always in order, no matter how much we know when compared to the average person.

However, unlike many fundamentalists, I am actually willing to gradually chip away at areas of ignorance in my life – rather than make my lack of knowledge into an art form.

As I’ve written many times before on this site, what I find shocking is how incredibly ignorant so many Church members have become these days (and, may I say, a rather large number of the ministry equally as ignorant), not only in the field of general knowledge, but especially with respect to some of the most basic issues of their theological beliefs.

And what stuns me even more is how many appear content to remain so, even to the point of actually trying to defend their appalling level of ignorance with the standard “It’s-not-a-salvation-issue” defense. Virtually every single Church member I’ve ever had this basic discussion with inevitably falls back on that old worn-eaten chestnut of an excuse sooner or later. Such bromides have been repeated so often they’ve become stale and threadbare.

I don’t think it’s their intent, but by arguing in this way, many members are actually exalting ignorance to the level of a virtue, and in some cases almost seem proud of their lack of “worldly” knowledge.

Many of them regularly blog here on AW.

Ex-Android said...

Leonardo said:

"...many members are actually exalting ignorance to the level of a virtue, and in some cases almost seem proud of the lack of "worldly"
knowledge..."

This reminds me of Bertrand Russell's observation that he didn't recall anyone in the Bible ever being praised for being intelligent. Expanded learning was never a WCG virtue.

After I exited, one of my friends said that I had obviously spent too much time with books. He was quite right. They set me free from Armstrongism, biblicism and religion.

Leonardo said...

Ex-android wrote:
"This reminds me of Bertrand Russell's observation that he didn't recall anyone in the Bible ever being praised for being intelligent."


Perhaps not intelligence, but what about learning – sort of related, huh? How about Paul in Acts 26:24…

“Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’ ”

As for me, I always took the following Proverb literally and at face value, and it has served me well:

“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15