Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Me

(Reposted from the Schlock Mercenary front page)

I’m glad to see that a Federal Judge has ruled against teaching “Intelligent Design” in Pennsylvania biology classes. Intelligent Design is not science – not even BAD science – but it is bad religion. After all, any religion that has to lie about what it is in order to sneak into the building needs to take a long hard look at some of its own tenets regarding morality and integrity.

Now, before my religious friends lynch me… I believe that God created Heaven and Earth, and that His explanation of HOW he did it, as revealed to prophets throughout the ages, is about as complete as He needs it to be. More divine revelation as to His Methods and Means would not make any of us mortals more faithful. After all, most of us pay little enough attention to the revelations that have already been given.

So here I am, devoutly religious, and I detest “Intelligent Design.” The ONLY bit about it with which I agree is some of the disclaimer text which the creationists (let’s call them what they are, shall we?) want to apply to Evolution: It’s a theory, not a fact.

Facts are directly observable and measurable. Fact: we have found fossils. Fact: we have observed the chemical processes by which fossils can be created. Fact: we have observed changes in the genetic makeup of certain populations of animals. Fact: we have observed and demonstrated the mechanics by which genes are expressed, and how they can be damaged through natural events.

We have a very long list of similar facts, and right now the only theory that unifies these into a consistent description of the world in which we live is evolution through random mutation and natural selection. That is not the same as saying that the theory is itself a fact. Sure, we’ve “proven” that evolution explains things better than competing theories, but that is still not the same thing as saying “Evolution is a fact.” Are there holes in the current theories? Absolutely. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

I’m not casting aspersions on science. Evolution is some darn good science. It’s tricky, you know, examining the fossil record and the living world and coming up with a description for what happened during the last half a billion years. It’s a little bit like feeding a dictionary into a wood-chipper, and then attempting to re-create the book by observing just one piece out of every 1000 and extrapolating from there. A LOT of things happened on this planet during its history, and the vast majority of them left no discernable trace that we can read today. Scientists work HARD to fill in the gaps, and to make our lives better by theorizing, testing their theories through experimentation, and then refining their theories.

But for all their strengths, the scientific methods we use don’t work well when applied to the description or improvement of the moral codes by which we live. Religion (and by religion I do NOT mean “orthodox heirarchical power structures” — I mean “community and individual spirituality”) DOES work well in this way. Sure, lots of people disagree with the concept of moral absolutes, but it’s hard to argue with somebody who has found happiness through adherence to a spiritual and moral code. It can be argued, after all, that the purpose of life is to learn to live happily.

Is there some paradox here? Mightn’t Evolution suggest that God was lying, or that Moses was lying, or that religion is a sham? Well, certainly it COULD suggest that, but I don’t treat it that way. I believe that eventually our science will be good enough that we can explain to God how we think He did it, and He’ll say “Great job! You get an A! It would have been an A+, but you left ‘Dark Energy’ in place as a fudge factor. Now here’s a nebula full of hydrogen. Show Me what you can build.” Until then, however, I’m not going to use the book of Genesis as a template for a scientific theory. The answers may be in The Book, but we’re expected to show our work. That’s the only way that we can enjoy the fruits of DOING the work.

Let me explain it more simply: My faith enables me to live happily. Science and technology enable me to live LONGER. I don’t want to see science used to discredit religion, because that will make people live LESS happily, and I don’t want to see religion used to discredit science, because that will further delay the delivery of my flying car. If this simple dichotomy can be honestly and openly explained to our children, they can embrace the apparent paradox, and get on with the important things in life: being happy, and figuring out how to build me a jetpack. It’s 2005, for heaven’s sake. I was supposed to have a silica farm on the moon twenty years ago, and I can’t even get my replicator-bots onto the roof of the house.

–Howard


NOTE: Big E, Little e, What Begins With “E”? By way of clarification in the essay above. Big ‘E’ Evolution is the theory that life evolved gradually from self-replicating protein chains. Little ‘e’ evolution is the observable process by which (for instance) strains of bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. I can’t remember where I first got this particular nomenclature, but it works pretty well for essays. It works astoundingly poorly in conversation, because the statement “Evolution is only a theory” is indistinguishable from the statement “evolution is only a theory,” and one of those two statements is patently false. I suppose you can make the capitalization heard by shouting, but that’s what I’m hoping we’ll avoid.


ANOTHER NOTE: The number of comments, and the complexity of the threads they’ve spawned preclude me reading everything you say, or doing much in the way of moderation. Mercy! You people are talkative! Now be nice down there.


A FINAL NOTE: I’ve had a lot of requests for the rights to reproduce, forward, copy, or otherwise redistribute this essay. I have some simple and generous terms:

1) Linking to this page is 100% okay. Link it as an LJ memory, as a bookmark, as a link in an email message, whatever.

2) If you’re quoting me in an essay of your own, or in a sig file, don’t change my words. You can bracket them in your own, but don’t change mine.

3) Provide attribution. “Howard Tayler says” will work for snippets. For sigs, you can just do the cited text followed by “– Howard Tayler”. If you’re copying most of the essay, you can link back to this page with text like “click here for the complete essay.”

4) If you want to print it for handouts, I require that you place the following copyright text at the bottom of the page:

Essay Copyright (C)2005 The Tayler Corporation, All Rights Reserved. www.schlockmercenary.com. Reproduced with permission for non-profit use only.

5) If you want to print it for publication, contact me and we’ll work something out. My email address is [firstname].[lastname] at gmail.com.

–Howard Tayler

326 thoughts on “Evolution, Intelligent Design, and Me”

  1. Thank You, Howard

    Excellent explanation. I’m a Catholic, and I always struggle to explain my support of evolution. You couldn’t have said it better.

  2. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I thoroughly respect you both because you have a great faith and because you are sensible about it. If I had a hat on, I’d take it off for you. Or maybe tip it.

  3. When I had faith, I was miserable. It wasn’t until I abadonded faith and embraced reason and rationality fully that I became happy. In my experience and observation of my friends and those around me, faith will make people LESS happy.

    I’m curious; why is my observation wrong?

    1. It’s a fairly individual thing. I know many people who would be absolutely miserable if forced into religion, and others that would be absolutely miserable if forced away from religion.

      You need to find your own way to happiness and it is not the same for every person.

      Like with Politics, I wasn’t really happy with my former purely republican views until I started laying them out side by side and looking at every one of them logically. I thought them through and reintegrated them into something I thought was more consistant, rational, and Libertarian-republican. I was overall much happier with myself than when I blindly followed the party line. I’m sure others would just hate my viewpoints and would come up with something completely different that made them happy.

      1. Yeah, but the difference is, politics is about policy. Religion is about the unknowable. Policy is a matter of opinion, the unknowable is – unknowable, and noone can ever be right about it in any useable sense. And that’s why many people I know who had faith, who held that they knew something unknowable, were unhappy, and became happier when they gave it up. And this goes for me too; I have trouble being happy when people buy that they know something unknowable, therefore the existence of religious people make me unhappy, kind of like the existence of really destitute people does – and being religious made me more unhappy still, like being destitute would as well.

        And I am curious as to why this is wrong?

        1. Wow. Okay, that’s pretty sad. The fact that I’m religious makes you unhappy?

          You have my pity. I mean, I’m not about to give up religion so you can be happy. That would be silly.

          The fact that you’re NOT religious makes me a little bit sad, and I’d feel better about it if you were having spiritual experiences of your own, but I’m not going to go so far as to say that your non-religious state makes me unhappy. Because I’m NOT unhappy.

          A couple of notes:
          1) Religion is not about the unknowable. It’s about the only-personally-demonstrable. I can’t prove my religion to YOU, but I can prove it to ME. From outside the personal perspective it’s the same as unknowable, of course, but from where I stand I know all KINDS of things.
          2) I CAN be “right” about this in a useable sense. I have proven to myself that a certain set of behaviors on my part will bring me and my family even greater joy than we currently have, and I’ve demonstrated that to be true on numerous occasions in the past. It’s EMINENTLY useable information — for ME. Not for you. If you want that kind of proof, you have to go get it yourself. I can share methodologies, and you’re welcome to lean on me for a while as you search, but neither I nor anyone else can be your Authoritative Source on matters of religion and personal spirituality.

          It’s charitable of you to worry about other people, really it is, but I think you’ve got that hat on backwards. 😉

          –Howard

          1. No need for pity; I tried to explain in what sense it affects me. I would, truly, be happier if the world was less religious, but that is not intended as a personal attack on anyone. And it most certainly doesn’t mean I am not happy now. It’s just affecting me kind of like the lack of ubiquitous healthcare does. It’s something I would like to make better, but lack the capability to do much about.

            And I am also aware of that not everyone agrees with me it would be better – and that is what I am trying to understand here.

            As to your notes;
            1) sounds like it is made up. I honestly can’t see the difference between what you are saying and someone saying “I made this up to feel better”. What is the difference?
            2) doesn’t mean it is the religion or the faith doing the work; sounds more to me like you’re a most reasonable fellow (and I happen to know you are), and therefore you figure good things out, for yourself and your family, and you would do that whether religious, areligious, of faith or of no faith.

            I’m not intending any disrespect – and no matter what I say about religion, or what you respond, you have my respect. I’m hoping to learn something here, you seem to be very together, and you do provide thoughtful answers. I appreciate that. Me hammering on them is not intended as insult, but as inquiry.

          2. re: #1, the difference between me telling you “I have had a spiritual experience” and “I made something up that makes me happy” is probably indistinguishable to you. Either way, I’m happy, and you can’t tell why. You can guess, you can theorize, you can postulate, but you can’t KNOW.

            I, on the other hand, can tell the difference. I’ve misled myself from time to time in the past, but the spirituality I feel is orders of magnitude more powerful, more lasting, and more effective than the stuff I’ve made up myself.

            My method for gaining this spirituality is simple. I studied scriptures, and then prayed to know whether they were true. My prayers were answered – not with lights in the sky or a thunderous voice, but with an overwhelming sense of rightness and peace that I’ve been unable to duplicate in any other way.

          3. Yes, the difference between someone merely telling me those things is pretty much indistinguishable to me, but your explanation makes more sense. Thank you, that is enlightening. I’ve had spiritual experiences too, but when I learned to duplicate them through meditation, and then through various other techniques, I started having a hard time seeing them as anything but self induced. I wonder what makes people different in these respects.

          4. Here’s something I have NEVER been able to understand myself. Why do you care? If I’m trying to push my faith on you, or trying something idiotic like the Intelligent Design nonsense, or using my religion to be bigoted and prejudiced, then sure, I can see why you’d want me to stop believing in my religion.

            But I’m not, and I don’t, and I never have. My faith makes me happy, but I don’t believe in shoving it on others in any way, nor do I believe that those who don’t share it are in any way lesser than I am.

            So why? Why do you care? Why does it bother so many of the athiests I know that everyone doesn’t agree with them? It doesn’t bother me at all that you don’t agree with me, so why are you so bugged when I don’t agree with you?

            I don’t get the logic. If you’re right and I’m wrong, my being wrong is hurting nobody. If I’m right and you’re wrong, your being wrong hurts nobody but, perhaps, you. So why should it matter?

          5. But WHY does it hurt you? What is it about religion in others that hurts you? I’m not trying to attack here, or anything, I just… am having a total lack of comprehension. It just makes no sense to me. My believing in God hurts you? You don’t even know me. So why?

          6. Purely from a psychological stand point here – you do realize that expecting others to be responsible for your happiness is not exactly healthy emotional hygene, don’t you?

            I’m sorry if it does pain you to know people are religious, but it’s very illogical to expect everyone to conform to your worldview and discount their own experiences.

          7. Hmmm.

            I’m sorry I misunderstood, but the comment “Isn’t it enough that it hurts me,” suggested that this was the case. Especially when in context of people being religious being the cause of that hurt. I only made the comment based on the observations and studies of the counseling profession dealing with people expecting others to change their beliefs to make one feel better.

          8. Apologies if that last answer seemed terse; was not my intent. It’s late here, and I’m getting ready for giftmas travels early in the morning. Wasn’t intending to be terse and/or harsh.

          9. IT’s CALLED CHRI— actually, with the spike in Christmas Commercialization, it would be prudent to call it ‘giftmas’ if we’re gonna drop the religious implications.

          10. What faith or lack of faith in Christ ultimately comes down to is belief in love.

            Being bothered by someone else’s faith just means the upset person does not believe they are loved, but is annoyed (and I’d say jealous is a more appropriate word) that someone else belives it of themselves.

          11. No, to YOU faith in Christ=belief in love. Please try to remember that their are people who are not Christians, and who love their families, their friends, their neighbors, and themselves.

            I can’t speak for why religion bothers the other poster, but frankly, a lot of religious people frighten me. They seem able to think that nonbelievers are less human than they are (like, oh say “unable to believe in love”), and they can’t imagine a moral code that isn’t based on belief in a god. It’s a short step from thinking of someone else as less human than you (and/or immoral by definition) to thinking that it’s okay to deny them the right to their own beliefs…or worse.

          12. You may wish to reread what I wrote. You are claiming I wrote the exact opposite of what I did.

            And yes, you have every right to believe whatever you want. That does not make it true.

          13. Well, I am very glad to hear that I misunderstood you. But rereading what you wrote, I still don’t see another interpretation.

            If “faith or lack of faith in Christ ultimately comes down to…belief in love”, then it sounds like you’re saying that a lack of faith in Christ is caused by not believing in love.

            I would appreciate it if you would explain your intended meaning, since you say that you “wrote the exact opposite.”

            I also believe that there are explanations for why someone might be bothered by someone else’s faith, other than that they “do not believe they are (themselves) loved,” and are “annoyed” or even “jealous.” I believe I provided one such explanation.

          14. What faith or lack of faith in Christ ultimately comes down to is belief in love.

            Being bothered by someone else’s faith just means the upset person does not believe they are loved, but is annoyed (and I’d say jealous is a more appropriate word) that someone else belives it of themselves.

          15. Quick q:

            Why can’t the more vocal proponents of all faiths follow this simple principle? You know; “My faith, not yours. If you really don’t want to know, I’ll keep it to myself.”

          16. Quick q:

            Why can’t the more vocal proponents of all faiths follow this simple principle? You know; “My faith, not yours. If you really don’t want to know, I’ll keep it to myself.”

    2. It’s not. It’s YOUR observation, after all. Your conclusion is what’s wrong, (and I say so because it cannot be universally applied). Your experiment is probably skewed in one of the following ways:

      1) misinterpretation of “faith.” Church membership and attendance is not the same thing as faith.
      2) Confusion of “happiness” with “pleasure.” If money can buy it, it’s not happiness. It’s possible that you are “happier than you’ve ever been,” but still far LESS happy than you COULD be.
      3) Samle size is too small and too narrow. Your family and friends are likely to have a very similar set of experiences, skewing the results.
      4) Failure of the sample to adhere to the moral codes of their sect. Faith is supposed to change your behavior. People who have a problem with it are typically unwilling to change those behaviors, and spend their Church time feeling guilty and miserable.

      I’m not trying to tell you that you need to go back to Church, mind you. Faith is something that can only be proven or disproven on an individual level. I can’t prove it to you, and you can’t prove it to me. True faith is intensely personal, and is SUPPOSED to be that way. If you can’t or won’t have a spiritual experience of your own that demonstrates to you the validity of your Faith, then no amount of church-going will make you happy.

      1. I have the utmost respect for you, and for your writing, but I feel you misstated my position a bit here.

        1) I am aware of this. I was referring to “faith in god”.
        2) I am aware of this. I was referring to “being happy”, as in a non-negative, non-self destructive thought pattern, with mostly a positive outlook and view of the world. Money is secondary, materialism is secondary, my point is that I have never before seen everything in a positive light, but now I do. Once I abandoned faith (specifically in a personal god).
        3) Sample size is pretty much my country.
        4) My moral code also improved when I worked out what *I* think instead of what the sect I belonged to told me. That is part of why I feel happier – I am now acting in a good manner to people because I *want* to, not because I am told to do so.

        I understand where you are coming from, to some extent. But I find it very interesting that you come to such opposite conclusions as I do. It seems I can’t find the positive things in faith that you do; to me it is an abandoning of sense, and I understand that to you it is the opposite. I am trying to understand this, but I’m having a hard time with it. It’s been a long time since I had faith, and it only ever made me miserable.

        1. Sorry about the misstatement. You asked how you could have come to an incorrect conclusion, and I did my best to enumerate where you went wrong.

          Rest assured, even if you’re not 100% wrong, you’re nowhere near 100% RIGHT, as I’m sure lots of religious people on this forum and others can attest.

          –Howard

          1. I am well aware I am not 100% right, and very seldom is even about the things I have dedicated my life work to (and even then only in very small matters), but I am very curious about these things. To me, faith holds a very negative connotation based primarily on observation of what it has done in others. I’m trying to understand the other side of it, and it *is* hard for me to remain objective on the matter, but I am trying.

        2. How can you measure the happiness of everyone in your country? How do you know what percentage are happy, and what are not? How do you know that religion is the cause of the unhappiness? Can you prove that the percentage who are happy are the percentage who have rejected religion? Can you prove that the percentage that are unhappy are the ones who still follow it?

          1. Considering noone can prove anything outside of formal systems, of course I cannot. I was, as stated, making a generalized statement based on personal observation and basic (admittedly vague) statistical data. I live in a mostly secular nation, and reportedly social studies have suggested religion and unhappiness go hand in hand here. Of course, that could easily be backwards; that unhappy people seek out religion, for example, would easily skew the studies, and I have also had trouble locating a peer reviewed publication of the data, so it may very well be entirely off.

            But it is my observation, and as far as anecdotal evidence goes, it pretty much fits the bill.

          2. That’s the thing. Personal experiential and anecdotal experience do not a theory make.

            I’m not saying that your experience is invalid, but to make a pretty bad analogy, my personal experiential and anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that all Mormons rock the casbah, because I’ve never met a Mormon I didn’t like.

            Granted, that Mormon is , but still…

          3. By that logic, religion is right out the window as viable theory.

            Just making an observation. That is, after all, the most common defense of religion – that it is personal experience and anecdotal. Why can’t I use that, then?

          4. You have. Atheism works for you. It doesn’t work for because it makes him unhappy. It doesn’t work for me because being Muslim feels like the ground state of being for me.

            So, atheism works for you. The defense works; I don’t question what atheism does for you. I do, however, question that it would work with everyone 🙂

          5. Yep. And yeah, it’s already a sad world for so many reasons.

            Mind you, if someone told me that the only supreme being in my life was me, I’d look at them and say, “So you’re telling me that every misfortune in my life is in essence caused by me?

            Okay.

            ::slits wrists::”

          6. Now, that I don’t understand. You hold they key to your own life, to your happiness and welfare, you have every opportunity in the world and there are literally no limitations to what you can do.

            And your response is “::slits wrists::”!!?!?

            What’s with people? Where’s the backbone in people? What happened to taking care of our own lives, for no other reason that it is ours, and ours alone?

            I simply do not understand. And I am now, despite all the explanations (thanks Howard!) sadly understanding *less*!

            Why on earth would you, given the ultimate freedom, commit suicide???

          7. Sigh. Okay, you know, that was a bad analogy. Just so you note, no, I’m nowhere near suicidal, and I retract my previous statement.

            Most of it. I’ll retort to your last sentence with this reply.

            Because ultimate freedom means ultimate responsibility. Not everyone is ready for that, because not everyone has the same kind of mental strength needed to rip themselves away from something they consider integral in their lives.

          8. Funny, I don’t see it that way.

            Just because you can rip foam with your bare hands apart doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for, say, ship-building. Not everything must be made of buckminsterfullerine.

          9. Hmm. I’ve never really been described as callous and cold, so this comes as a little bit of a surprise to me. Also, people are not foam!

            What I meant by the previous statement, actually, is that an effective unit (say, a starship, or, in this case, humanity in general) consists of material (or people) of differing strengths and weaknesses. People are strong in different ways, much as they have weaknesses in different ways. But, you know, they reinforce each other? Because hard things bump into each other and cause friction? But hard thing can be cushioned by soft things, and soft things are reinforced by soft things and so on and so forth? No?

            I thought it was clear. Okay, metaphor needs work.

          10. See, I disagree with that. Belief in God doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for yourself. You still are, wether God is there or not.

            But if there is no God, then there’s nothing else. There’s no point! We live hard, difficult lives full of loss and sorrow and pain. Happiness too, but not really all that much of it. And then it’s over, and that’s it. You might as well just go ahead and end it now then.

            But if there is a God… if there’s more, if all the horrible things in this life have a purpose, ah, now there’s something! If I know that the horrible griefs I’ve suffered in my life are building and preparing me for something better, then it’s all worth it. Otherwise you’re better off finding oblivion.

            Because happy or not, life is HARD.

          11. I’ve got to jump into the discussion here…

            No offense to anyone’s views, beliefs or person intended, but…

            I’m a bit uncomfortable with your statement here. You’re basically saying that, for you, your faith is a type of escapism? I find it hard to put into words, but I suppose my issue with this is that, in my view of the world, you should believe in something because… well… because you *believe* it, in other words, because it makes sense to you, because it strikes you as being the truth. Now, I’m pretty sure your faith *does* make sense to you, but the fact that you single out “moral support” (as it were) as a reason for believing seems strange to me.
            For me, as it happens, I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that makes sense to me is atheism (so yeah, I’m one of *them*). And as I see it, it’s not a choice. I can’t make myself believe in God, in Nirvana or in the FSM because it’d make me happier. I have to accept the fact that, to my mind, there is no deity. I don’t always like that fact – I find some aspects of Pagan faiths and traditions quite appealing (couldn’t care less about Christianity though) – but I *can’t* believe in them, and have to deal with that. And it’s up to me to give my life purpose – which, for now, is to find happiness for myself and try to help bring it to others, and to create and spread knowledge (i.e., I’m a scientist).

          12. Scuse the odd style of quoting, I’m usually on newsgroups for this sort of thing :\

            > See, I disagree with that. Belief in God doesn’t mean you’re not
            > responsible for yourself. You still are, wether God is there or not.

            While you are still responsible, you are less so, because God will punish you for being wrong, whilst with no belief in a god, the only punishment worth anything comes from you.

            > But if there is no God, then there’s nothing else. There’s no point! We
            > live hard, difficult lives full of loss and sorrow and pain. Happiness
            > too, but not really all that much of it. And then it’s over, and that’s
            > it. You might as well just go ahead and end it now then.

            > But if there is a God… if there’s more, if all the horrible things in
            > this life have a purpose, ah, now there’s something! If I know that the
            > horrible griefs I’ve suffered in my life are building and preparing me
            > for something better, then it’s all worth it. Otherwise you’re better off
            > finding oblivion.

            I find this particular argument against Atheism and Agnosticism wrong and slightly annoying. Just because there’s no deity doesn’t mean there’s no afterlife. And even so, as a Christian I found the most pain; as an Atheist I found less pain. As an Agnostic, I find only pain in my choice when people try to convince me that it’s wrong. And then only because I don’t just smile, nod and wave them on.

            Besides, I’d like to think that I leave some sort of mark on the world besides a mound of freshly-turned earth over my sorry rotting carcas.

            > Because happy or not, life is HARD.

            Agreed. But I love a challenge, and what better challenge than every new day?

          13. Scuse the odd style of quoting, I’m usually on newsgroups for this sort of thing :\

            > See, I disagree with that. Belief in God doesn’t mean you’re not
            > responsible for yourself. You still are, wether God is there or not.

            While you are still responsible, you are less so, because God will punish you for being wrong, whilst with no belief in a god, the only punishment worth anything comes from you.

            > But if there is no God, then there’s nothing else. There’s no point! We
            > live hard, difficult lives full of loss and sorrow and pain. Happiness
            > too, but not really all that much of it. And then it’s over, and that’s
            > it. You might as well just go ahead and end it now then.

            > But if there is a God… if there’s more, if all the horrible things in
            > this life have a purpose, ah, now there’s something! If I know that the
            > horrible griefs I’ve suffered in my life are building and preparing me
            > for something better, then it’s all worth it. Otherwise you’re better off
            > finding oblivion.

            I find this particular argument against Atheism and Agnosticism wrong and slightly annoying. Just because there’s no deity doesn’t mean there’s no afterlife. And even so, as a Christian I found the most pain; as an Atheist I found less pain. As an Agnostic, I find only pain in my choice when people try to convince me that it’s wrong. And then only because I don’t just smile, nod and wave them on.

            Besides, I’d like to think that I leave some sort of mark on the world besides a mound of freshly-turned earth over my sorry rotting carcas.

            > Because happy or not, life is HARD.

            Agreed. But I love a challenge, and what better challenge than every new day?

          14. Religion doesn’t require that you are not the supreme being in your own life. The one I follow is really heavy on you being your own master and improving the world through your own actions. I have the power over myself. God can only make small tweaks here and there in the universe as part of his grand experiment. It’s up to me to make my part of the universe good for me and those I care about. Who knows, god could be assisting me in unseen ways, but I’m still in the pilots seat. 😉

            I sure have loopy religious ideas, eh? That’s what being Libertarian will do to ya.

          15. I’ll take your word for it that Satanism has some connection with Deism. (While privately thinking you’re even more wacko than I am. 😉

          16. Actually, Satanism has nothing to do with Satan, as your stock-standard Christian faith believes in him.

            One version of “The Church of Satan” is simply a witchcraft deviation of Paganism. Another was created to serve a purpose; annoying the living hoo-haa out of the Catholic Church. That one involves serving yourself before others.

            I think was refering to that.

            As an aside, are you a deist in the sense of a personal god, or in the sense of a universal god who generally doesn’t pay much attention to you personally, even if he spends a lot of effort on humanity in general?

          17. “Serving yourself before others” isn’t what I was referring to, so he was off his rocker. 😉

            Probably a universal god who doesn’t particularly pay attention to any one person. He’s more interested in the grand experiment of the whole universe, eh? That’s why humans create universes, for fun and to learn from them. Thought experiments, theories, etc. Also a bit like the Tierra experiments. Setting up virtual worlds with certain rules then seeing what happens.

            Certainly not all powerful or all knowing. Why else generate an entire universe if not to learn from it and have fun? He would have to be powerful in order to make the universe, but would need to work within the rules of the universe once it is set up. I’d think such a scientist god would be interested in the current universe. Managed to create some very interesting patterns that are generating even more tiny universes themselves. 🙂

          18. Almost.

            I was thinking more of the idea that an omnipotent, or at the very least extremely powerful, being has the time to waste on everyone. I find that hard to take.

          19. “Serving yourself before others” isn’t what I was referring to, so he was off his rocker. 😉

            Probably a universal god who doesn’t particularly pay attention to any one person. He’s more interested in the grand experiment of the whole universe, eh? That’s why humans create universes, for fun and to learn from them. Thought experiments, theories, etc. Also a bit like the Tierra experiments. Setting up virtual worlds with certain rules then seeing what happens.

            Certainly not all powerful or all knowing. Why else generate an entire universe if not to learn from it and have fun? He would have to be powerful in order to make the universe, but would need to work within the rules of the universe once it is set up. I’d think such a scientist god would be interested in the current universe. Managed to create some very interesting patterns that are generating even more tiny universes themselves. 🙂

          20. Actually, Satanism has nothing to do with Satan, as your stock-standard Christian faith believes in him.

            One version of “The Church of Satan” is simply a witchcraft deviation of Paganism. Another was created to serve a purpose; annoying the living hoo-haa out of the Catholic Church. That one involves serving yourself before others.

            I think was refering to that.

            As an aside, are you a deist in the sense of a personal god, or in the sense of a universal god who generally doesn’t pay much attention to you personally, even if he spends a lot of effort on humanity in general?

          21. actually this is a common mistake satanism is a religion wich teaches that ones own desires and wants are above all others. what was said is that u are the boss of your life. what you chose to do is your choice but there are consiquences for your actions. most religions teach ways to have a good outcome from your actions. this is what is being said. you are your own master.and therefore you suffer for your mistakes. God shows you direction he does notwalk you down the road of life making you do what he wants. the lord shows us the path in wich we should travel. we are the ones who must walk that road

          22. Yep.

            Mind you, my sample size includes possibly close to two hundred people of at least half a dozen religions and ideologies, in combination you could possibly imagine. And I’ve never the religion that’s the only problem with that person’s life—there always was something else.

          23. Re: Yep.

            Well, was it the religion that turns one off it, or the fact that it was hammered down in a way that forced one to either conform, you know, or suffer the consequences? Repeatedly?

          24. Re: Yep.

            That’s the rub, see: experience.

            My experience, noting that of course that it isn’t universal in any way whatsoever and only reflects the way I was raised, the way I reacted and acted to specific events in my life, is that there’s a difference between the religious ideal and those old bastards who keep insisting that we toe some kind of imaginary line that their own experience has drawn for them.

          25. Re: Yep.

            True, the stated old bastards harm their faith more than they help it. The unfortunate reality is that most of the people I’ve known to be Atheist or Agnostic are so because their perception of most religions is coloured by those old bastards.

            Also, if I may venture an opinion; most religious ideals are the same inasfar as the universe is the same no matter which direction you look. The directions and ideals differ only in the finer details.

          26. Re: Yep.

            Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it; there’s always the unfortunate reality. But then again, nothing is so easily clear-cut. The maniacs in Islam, for example, tend to be distressingly young…

            If you mean that religions carry ideas that often reappear in other religions, yes. That’s what makes the study of religions so rewarding. But to say that religious ideals are the same the way the universe uniform… no. Not really.

            Again, it’s a matter of experience and upbringing.

          27. Re: Yep.

            Inasfar as most every religion prescribes peace, helping your neighbour, not killing or stealing etc. they are the same.

            When it comes to “how to worship” or “who is my neighbour” etc., they start differing.

          28. Re: Yep.

            True, the stated old bastards harm their faith more than they help it. The unfortunate reality is that most of the people I’ve known to be Atheist or Agnostic are so because their perception of most religions is coloured by those old bastards.

            Also, if I may venture an opinion; most religious ideals are the same inasfar as the universe is the same no matter which direction you look. The directions and ideals differ only in the finer details.

          29. Re: Yep.

            That’s the rub, see: experience.

            My experience, noting that of course that it isn’t universal in any way whatsoever and only reflects the way I was raised, the way I reacted and acted to specific events in my life, is that there’s a difference between the religious ideal and those old bastards who keep insisting that we toe some kind of imaginary line that their own experience has drawn for them.

          30. Re: Yep.

            Well, was it the religion that turns one off it, or the fact that it was hammered down in a way that forced one to either conform, you know, or suffer the consequences? Repeatedly?

        3. 3) Sample size is pretty much my country.

          I’m not getting into this discussion at large, but since it’s my country too – no, that’s not your sample size.

    3. I don’t know. I think faith without reason, faith that doesn’t make sense. Blind faith hurts a person, since they are conforming to a role that makes no sense to them.

      Faith in something that makes sense, faith in something that you see as positive and understand, that can make you happy. Everything takes faith to some degree. The belief that we are capable of observing the world around us accurately takes a bit of faith, less than believing someone loaded a bunch of animals on a boat for forty days and forty nights while the world flooded, granted, but it does take faith in one’s own ability to percieve and objectivity in trying to understand what they have observed.

      If you found faith made you miserable, perhaps you had faith in the wrong thing?

      I do find that faith without reason or rationality leads to very odd outcomes, and many of them I do not find beneficial.

      My two cents.

      ~

      1. But if I use reason and rationality, I don’t need faith. (If you are curious about my stance on the so called faith in ones own senses, go to convert_me and read my challenge there). So … where does that leave faith? To me, its left with the notion that evil spirits cause disease rather than germs and virii. An outdated concept.

        1. Reason and rationality alone can get you no futher than where your original postulates could take you anyway. Everything takes faith; you ‘knowing’ that you’re not delusional right now takes faith.

          You start from the postulate that you can sense accurately, and another that your brain isn’t misfiring. You work on your input from there.

          1. Incorrect. Even simple truist logic can take me a lot further than my original postulates placed me. I do not “know” I am not delusional, thus I require no such faith.

            I do not start from these postulates. Please do not presume that everyone have the same basis as you do. I, for one, do not.

          2. If you don’t start from postulates, you don’t get to anywhere.
            Ever.

            If nothing else, using logic on your current state postulates that you are human. There are observable cases of people postulating that they are something else entirely. These people are usually or always psychotic, but that’s not the point. Logic is the path that takes you from your postulates to your conclusions. Nothing more.

          3. I never claimed I do not start from postulates. I claimed I do not start from the postulates you set up.

            Logic is a tool by which you can build comprehensive conclusions from simple postulates. While the conclusions are truisms, they can nevertheless be much more than the postulates they were built from makes intuitively obvious.

          4. so… wait.

            You question every input you ever have? To do otherwise indicates that you have the postulate that you’re not delusional. Then again, to do this would be indicative of psychosis, I think. IANAP.

          5. Ok, so I wasn’t far off. You have the postulate that everything you observe can be treated as if it were real, even if it’s not.

            I take it you’ve never had a psychotic experience, nor psycadelic experimentation, then. Or if you have, then what happened in your mind can still be treated as real and the objects that you may have halucinated were interactable.

          6. Go back and re-read it, and try to figure out what my answer to your second paragraph question would be. Maybe if you do, you’ll actually *learn* how I think, and not just think you do.

          7. Actually, I still have no idea if you have or have not. I have an idea that you would, in fact, just be happy existing even if you were psychotic. Or at least you believe you would be, at this point. Doesn’t answer my question though.

          8. Your question is based on a misunderstanding of my views. If you understood my views, you wouldn’t even have to ask that question. And really, I explained it plainly in my convert_me challenge; I didn’t even beat around the bush about it.

            And you are back at asking about epistemology, which you have been from the start, yet you act surprised when I identify that you do. Do you frequently engage in philosophical debate?

          9. Feel free to enlighten me, as it’s obvious from my questioning that you weren’t as clear as you thought you were.

            Philosophical debate, often. Philosophical debate where I have to run to the dictionary every five minutes, not often. To be honest, I had no idea what epistemology was before your post, and when I looked it up the first time, I must have been reasonably tired; it didn’t sink in.

          10. My view is very clear on demarkation between what is to be considered real (or rather; knowledge, what is “real” is immaterial, as clearly stated) and not. My postulate is not, as you state, that we can treat everything we experience as real. My postulate is what is stated, and any inference which encompasses more or less is not my postulate. Therefore, psychotic and hallucinogenic experiences change nothing, unless they are repeatable.

            Epistemology is the basis of our understanding of the world. It’s the single most important personal philosophical point. I’m amazed you never ran into it before, but that does explain a few of your strange paths of inquiry.

          11. If you don’t start from postulates, you don’t get to anywhere.
            Ever.

            If nothing else, using logic on your current state postulates that you are human. There are observable cases of people postulating that they are something else entirely. These people are usually or always psychotic, but that’s not the point. Logic is the path that takes you from your postulates to your conclusions. Nothing more.

          12. Incorrect. Even simple truist logic can take me a lot further than my original postulates placed me. I do not “know” I am not delusional, thus I require no such faith.

            I do not start from these postulates. Please do not presume that everyone have the same basis as you do. I, for one, do not.

        2. Reason and rationality alone can get you no futher than where your original postulates could take you anyway. Everything takes faith; you ‘knowing’ that you’re not delusional right now takes faith.

          You start from the postulate that you can sense accurately, and another that your brain isn’t misfiring. You work on your input from there.

        3. In that regard, yes. But faith is not just those examples of ignorance. You believe you have no need of faith, and I’m not one to try to convert others. I would hazard the comment that your view of faith is somewhat more narrow than the view I hold.

          ~Jera

      2. But if I use reason and rationality, I don’t need faith. (If you are curious about my stance on the so called faith in ones own senses, go to convert_me and read my challenge there). So … where does that leave faith? To me, its left with the notion that evil spirits cause disease rather than germs and virii. An outdated concept.

  4. A friend of mine is a hardcore athesit and she cannot understand how as an intelligent person, I can believe in God. To her, Relgion is unessacary. I’ve described it as more of a teddy bear. Something to hang on to when it gets dark.

    She says that for my first apartment, she’s gonna get me a Teddy bear wearing a T-shirt with the word God on it.

    Anyways, the other night, it popped up again (we don’t normally discuss it for obvious reasons) and I argued that while science has a longer “paper trail” than religion, there is still a point where the paper trail stops and from there, scientists must rely on belief and faith that they’re right.

    Science, in effect, is a sort of religion.

    At that point, she was ready to blow up, so I changed topics to the marvelous amount of batsh8%% that is the Enterprise Mission website and Richard C. Hoagland.

    http://www.enterprisemission.com/

    1. Well, I wouldn’t say that Science is a religion or faith per se, but Atheism definitely is. Science really cannot prove one way or another that god exists, so an atheist must take on faith that the lack of proof of god is enough to say that he doesn’t exist. Proving a negative is rather difficult.

      1. Which was my point exactly. Once the paper trail ends, you gotta rely on faith.

        Personally, I look at it this way. If I’m right, and God is real. Fine. If I’m wrong and God is not real and life is a one in a billion combo of luck and biology, I’ll never know it.

        Either way, no harm, no foul.

          1. Granted, but its not a wager. I do believe God is real. It’s the bible I don’t believe in.

            My point is, my friend argues that I’m wasting my time and cheating myself. She might be right. She might not be. I’m saying that my beliefs cost me nothing, and if they’re wrong, they’re wrong.

        1. I’m calling it a Faith. A religion is just one form of Faith. Atheism is essentially in the same category as all other religions regardless. It is the faith without direct proof in the lack of a god.

          If it was merely the lack of belief in god, then it’d be Agnosticism. Atheism says there is none.

          1. Agnosticism is a stance on knowledge, not on belief. In common incorrect use, it often stands for “undecided on existence of god”. It is possible to be an agnostic atheist, for example; then one is undecided but nonbelieving.

            Atheism = lack of belief in god. Nothing more, nothing less.

          2. Mmm…

            I always thought of atheism as either a state of mind or ideology, really, depending on the reasons why you subscribe to it.

            You can either be an atheist because there’s no over-riding reason for you to believe in a religious faith (note how I didn’t say “God”, since I understand that some faiths do not believe in the existence of God the way the Three do), or you have an over-riding reason to not believe in God, because of personal experience or some kind of ideology.

            I won’t go as far as saying that at one point there will be faith at the end, but I’m pretty sure that there’ll come a point when anyone will just stop and say, “Shut up and stop arguing with me, you’re not getting it!”

          3. Re: Mmm…

            And strong atheism can be seen in a continuum between into the relaxed (“I don’t think God exists.”) and twerpy (“zOMG YOU STUPID FUDNAMETNALISTS!!!1”).

          4. The way it is taught however is Atheism = the belief in the lack of god. This is the message that the person who was referred to above is pushing HARD.

            This is the destructive message that is protested against when evolution is taught in schools. When you get an atheist teaching in school about evolution it’s really easy for them to start preaching the belief in the lack of god which violates the seperation of church and state. Neither atheism nor religion nor any other faith should be taught in a science class.

          5. Now that we’re down to nitpicking, look at pandoras_closet’s original message in this thread. The fanatic atheist is the one “teaching” this message to him, and I’ve seen the same thing in web boards, blogs, forums, and many other mediums as well as in my experience dealing directly with atheists. They aren’t pushing the idea of atheism as the lack of belief. They’re on the attack teaching it as the belief in lack… It’s constantly out there as attacking the faith existence of god as being foolish, immature, stupid, etc.

            As someone who is not a christian nor a follower of any established religions, it still seems blindingly obvious that this is what atheism stands for as practiced by a majority of its vocal adherents, even if it is not what the dictionary definition says. The intolerance is almost as bad as the minority of religious people who force their views on everyone else.

          6. No, because you’re a disorganized lot by choice. If there were an official SCHOOL of Atheism that could state policies, etc, then we’d know more about minority vs. majority opinions.

            But then it really WOULD be a religion, tax-exempt and everything. 😉

          7. You could technically say the same thing about Islam, actually.

            Yes! You didn’t realize that the suicide-bombing lunatics are a militant fringe in Islam, and are a very vocal and crazy minority of a religion that spans approximately one billion people?

            Mind you, I’m not too hot about centralized religion. Organized religion, okay, but never centralized. I don’t mind my religious leaders dispensing advice, Take It As You Will, For Dire Things Will Happen To You If You Disobey, but not policy.

          8. They are a lunatic fringe. But they have mainstream support and the sheer number of believers in Islam makes even a fraction of a percentage of the whole a very dangerous group.

            Before I continue – I am a Christian, and have spent many years in academic and hobby level study of many different religions. I have plenty of friends who are Muslim – my statements are not intended as an indictment of your faith or you as a person.

            There are some problems with Islam in the world today, especially as it relates to the lunatic fringe.

            1) Islamic leaders (both governmental and theological) do not take a strong stance against acts of violence perpetrated by Muslims against non-Muslims. Their voices are essentialy silent in condemnation of a murderous minority. Even assuming .001 percent of a billon people are part of the lunatic fringe – that means you’ve got 100,000 people out there that are not being called to account for their actions by their religious leaders, governments, or communities. Other religons have their lunatics, but they don’t murder innocents by the thousands every year.

            2) Islamic government sponsored publications advocating violence, intolerance for other belief systems, and overthrow of governnments (mostly paid for by Saudi Arabia) fill mosques around the world. The local imams and worshippers let this hate-filled propaganda circulate among their worshippers. It is the equivilant of a church passing out Nazi propaganda. (CAUTION – LARGE LINK http://freedomhouse.org/religion/pdfdocs/FINAL%20FINAL.pdf)

            3) Islamic governments are openly advocating violence against other nations based upon the faith of the majority of the inhabitants (mostly Iran against Isreal), denying that major historical events ever took place, and other Islamic governments are silent.

            4) According to Freedom House (http://freedomhouse.org/religion/publications/rfiw/map.htm – links to the study used to produce the map are available on the page), an organization devoted to Freedom of Religion, not just any particular religion, the places rated as “Not Free” are either communist countries or Islamic states. This indicates an unwillingness of the religious community to tolerate divergent religions.

            I’m not trying to be critical, just pointing out facts, in an attempt to understand why Islam is so different.

          9. Off-topic! Like whoa!

            Mmm, long comment. But yes, one of the problems is that “mainstream” Islam (which is a slippery concept in itself) has difficulty asserting that it is against the actions of its suicidal militant fringe.

            Liberal and moderate muslims (to generalize) avoid thinking about it, because they don’t associate themselves with the crazy fundamentalist side (and, in some extreme cases, do not even engage it in dialogue… which is silly in itself), and thus most outsiders just see the lunatic fringe and associate it with the religion itself.

            Most Muslim governments, instead of facing up to the problem that they have, prefer to shut it out, because nothing hurts more than to realize that there are at least 100,000 or more fellow brothers in Islam out there who are out to destroy the West (a rather belligerent trading partner at best, and you-know-what at worst), and don’t care whether they kill innocent civilians on their quest.

            But on the matter of not tolerating divergent religions… you know, that’s a relatively recent phenomenon. Historically, the world’s most tolerant governments tended to be Muslim (in comparison to, say, their Christian neighbours during that period). It really was the onset of the industrial revolution that caused Muslim governments to become insular and intolerant.

            No, it’s not the West’s fault—but the essence of all this intolerance and just outright stupidity is that many Muslims, for reasons they aren’t exactly clear about, suddenly find themselves in the losing side of a race they don’t exactly understand. And they hate it, and they wonder where they’ve gone wrong, since the religion was supposed to grant them victory in all endeavours.

            There are several ways to respond to a situation like this—some massive soul-searching, ignoring the problem and getting on with life, or expressing frustration and hate to an Other by engaging it in a hostile fashion. I’m not saying that doing the first two is right (or desirable), but soul-searching is hard.

            Oh, and we’ve diverged from the original conversation. Not that it isn’t interesting, but I don’t really want to particularly continue this thread, ’cause 1) it’s ‘s LJ post, and this whole chat really belongs somewhere else, 2) I’ve got a headache and it makes the thinking hard and 3) I expect to be busy the rest of this week (I’m getting engaged! I’m getting engaged! Hee!), so you’re not going to get my response any time soon.

          10. Try joining an atheist community or mailing list for a bit. Notice that a very few, very vocal people post the vast majority of the vehement posts. Posit the theory that their opinion is not the majority. Correlate this with posting data to confirm.

            I did it. Several times. But no need to take my word for it, just go check any decently sized atheist community or mailing list.

            And no, a tax excempt organization is not inherently a religion. Lack of belief is not belief.

          11. And?

            They’re the ones setting the tone of the discussion. They’re the ones that people see. If you don’t want to be associated with them and think their views on atheism aren’t really atheism, then come up with a new word for them and find an equivalent public forum to distance them from your atheism. That’s what they did when they claimed the title of Atheist and pushed all lesser Atheism off into Agnosticism. Until those who don’t believe in a lack of god come forward and reclaim the title of atheist, it’s going to continue to be in the minds of the public: Agnostic = lack of faith in any religion, Atheism = belief in lack of any god or other religious deity.

          12. And?

            They are still a minority, and therefore your definitions are wrong.

            Just read the word. A-theist. A meaning “non”. Thus, non-theist. Non-believer. Check the etymology. Check the dictionaries. Check the majority use. That you are swayed by emotional arguments doesn’t impress me in the least. That you use them against me impresses me less.

            You ask me to reclaim the title. I am now. Why are you fighting me? Are you one of those vocal minority atheists you appear to dislike so?

          13. You certainly are reclaiming the title on a very small scale. Think grander!

            In the US, I am following the majority use. When the majority of people say atheist, they think of someone that believes that god does not exist. As for dictionaries and etymology, see my comment on grammarians vs. real world usage below. It doesn’t matter if my definitions are wrong according to the dictionary. They are the definitions used by a majority of people speaking American English.

            I more believe in the idea of a Clockwork, Tinkerer, or scientist type god. I guess that puts me in the same group as 1700’s Deists.

          14. In any case, the reason the debate is still going on is that you managed to derail it in semantics and jokes before the point was really made. 😉

            The fact is that the “Belief in a lack of god” is a faith and should fall under the same separation of church and state as all other faiths. This is the point that you keep deflecting on the technicality that this isn’t atheism.

          15. See this

            You’re again derailing it. Whether atheist = whatever is not central to the point. The point is those who belief in the non-existence of god are taking this on faith. See the above link. That is all.

          16. IOW, so called “strong atheists”. I’m not derailing anything; I am stating that I am an atheist, and that I am not in any reasonable sense religious. Others are their own problems, not mine.

          17. And I’m no longer talking about you nor atheism. I’m talking about what you’re calling “strong atheism” which I’m sure someone else will object to, so I’ll refer to it as not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism, is the sole thing I’m referring to. Agglutination of that word would be so much nicer in Esperanto. 😉 Enough with the derailing of this into atheism when I’m clearly talking about not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism.

            In any case, not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism is a faith and is a faith that should not be taught in science class, just like any other thing that relies on the faith of something that is not provable universally, such as intelligent design, or religion. Besides, lack-of-belief-in-god-atheism isn’t really teachable in science class either. About all you can say is “I don’t believe in that religion.” Once you go past that and tell them god doesn’t exist because of X, you’re into not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism.

          18. And still, I wonder what kind of substandard school system would teach metaphysics in science class to begin with. Nowhere in a single western world country would that even be as much as a spark of a thought.

            Well, it seems with one exception, which I shoulda thunk, which is why I didn’t get your point. Stupid country. Fix it! 😉

          19. It’s not an official part of the curriculum. It’s just something that expresses itself when a not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ist teaches a class in evolution. Because of scattered examples of these not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ists, evolution is now seen as just a wedge to push not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism into the schools.

            And yes, I’m going to keep pasting not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism everywhere I used to use atheism.

          20. I’m really having a lot of trouble imagining how one would teach not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism in a science class. Can you give some sort of example? I just don’t see it.

            I need it explained to me, see, because otherwise I am led, with very good reason based on precedent (not personal precedent from you yourself, kazriko, but other such discissions I have taken part in) that you are playing one of those ‘it is impossible to teach evolution without denying god therefore we should just avoid the whole issue and not teach it at all’ arguments.

          21. No, it’s quite possible to teach evolution without that as long as you don’t have a nynbitlog-ist zealot teaching it. It more depends on how they answer questions if they stick to the curriculum. A Nynbitlog-ist zealot will throw things back that reflect their faith unconsciously, and tend to mock people who believe in anything else and try to convert them. I’ve seen it in almost every conversation about evolution with non-teachers I’ve ever been involved in, and to a lesser degree with teachers I’ve talked to. I’ve had a few teachers that quietly scoff at students who bring the point up and quickly deflect it in the most expedient way possible, usually by saying that they don’t believe in one. The best way to handle it is to simply say “Science doesn’t say anything about the existence of god.” and go back to scientific discussions. I personally have never brought up the topic in a science class because I recognized it as not being a science question, but I lived in a fairly religious place with at least 2 science teachers who were mildly nynbitlog-ists.

          22. And if you are such a nynbitlogist (heh “NINN-bit-log-ist”), you could say “while I personally don’t believe in a god, many Christians I know balance their faith and understanding of Evolution by saying that while nothing happens without God, God is smart and made the building blocks, and taught them how to be better.”
            Essentially “God-directed Evolution”, as it were.

            Personally, I’d use a similar statement if I were teaching Evolution and was asked a religious question. I might replace “while I personally don’t believe in a god” with “while this is a question of faith and not particularly pertinent, I’ll try to answer anyway. Although faith isn’t that important to me I’d be surprised if it wasn’t to some of you.”

            What really confuses the buggery out of me is when people say “God-directed Evolution isn’t the same as Darwinian Evolution!” What, you mean that because the guiding factor was a being who tweaked a few genes once in a while rather than wait for random mutations to happen that it’s not the same? Sounds (for observable purposes) the same to me!

          23. And if you are such a nynbitlogist (heh “NINN-bit-log-ist”), you could say “while I personally don’t believe in a god, many Christians I know balance their faith and understanding of Evolution by saying that while nothing happens without God, God is smart and made the building blocks, and taught them how to be better.”
            Essentially “God-directed Evolution”, as it were.

            Personally, I’d use a similar statement if I were teaching Evolution and was asked a religious question. I might replace “while I personally don’t believe in a god” with “while this is a question of faith and not particularly pertinent, I’ll try to answer anyway. Although faith isn’t that important to me I’d be surprised if it wasn’t to some of you.”

            What really confuses the buggery out of me is when people say “God-directed Evolution isn’t the same as Darwinian Evolution!” What, you mean that because the guiding factor was a being who tweaked a few genes once in a while rather than wait for random mutations to happen that it’s not the same? Sounds (for observable purposes) the same to me!

          24. No, it’s quite possible to teach evolution without that as long as you don’t have a nynbitlog-ist zealot teaching it. It more depends on how they answer questions if they stick to the curriculum. A Nynbitlog-ist zealot will throw things back that reflect their faith unconsciously, and tend to mock people who believe in anything else and try to convert them. I’ve seen it in almost every conversation about evolution with non-teachers I’ve ever been involved in, and to a lesser degree with teachers I’ve talked to. I’ve had a few teachers that quietly scoff at students who bring the point up and quickly deflect it in the most expedient way possible, usually by saying that they don’t believe in one. The best way to handle it is to simply say “Science doesn’t say anything about the existence of god.” and go back to scientific discussions. I personally have never brought up the topic in a science class because I recognized it as not being a science question, but I lived in a fairly religious place with at least 2 science teachers who were mildly nynbitlog-ists.

          25. I’m really having a lot of trouble imagining how one would teach not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism in a science class. Can you give some sort of example? I just don’t see it.

            I need it explained to me, see, because otherwise I am led, with very good reason based on precedent (not personal precedent from you yourself, kazriko, but other such discissions I have taken part in) that you are playing one of those ‘it is impossible to teach evolution without denying god therefore we should just avoid the whole issue and not teach it at all’ arguments.

          26. This argument is bunk. “Atheist” devolves into not-god-believing.

            Similarly, “Agnostic”, although it’s pronounced “AG-nos-tick” is actually made of the words “A” and “Gnostic”. You’ve already defined “A”, let’s go for “Gnostic” now: “Gnosticism” (n); following knowledge, or professing to have esoteric knowledge.

            By your simple etymology, Agnostics know nothing, or at least know nothing beyond your usual cookie-cutter stuff from state schools. Being one myself, I find this incorrect. The other (more usual) definition holds more true, but isn’t quite a description of me: Agnostic in the sense of spiritual knowledge means that it is held by an Agnostic that it is impossible to hold spiritual knowledge.

            English is a living language, you can’t just expect it to sit there…

          27. Not quite. I did miss out that “gnostic” comes from the latin “gnosis” meaning knowledge. According to the simple etymology, agnostic is “without knowledge”. Truely something only an infant can obtain (and one may question whether we all wouldn’t be better off as agnostic in this sense :P).

            However, the living use is as stated in your post.

          28. Not quite. I did miss out that “gnostic” comes from the latin “gnosis” meaning knowledge. According to the simple etymology, agnostic is “without knowledge”. Truely something only an infant can obtain (and one may question whether we all wouldn’t be better off as agnostic in this sense :P).

            However, the living use is as stated in your post.

          29. This argument is bunk. “Atheist” devolves into not-god-believing.

            Similarly, “Agnostic”, although it’s pronounced “AG-nos-tick” is actually made of the words “A” and “Gnostic”. You’ve already defined “A”, let’s go for “Gnostic” now: “Gnosticism” (n); following knowledge, or professing to have esoteric knowledge.

            By your simple etymology, Agnostics know nothing, or at least know nothing beyond your usual cookie-cutter stuff from state schools. Being one myself, I find this incorrect. The other (more usual) definition holds more true, but isn’t quite a description of me: Agnostic in the sense of spiritual knowledge means that it is held by an Agnostic that it is impossible to hold spiritual knowledge.

            English is a living language, you can’t just expect it to sit there…

          30. I’ve got to agree with Swede on this, and as a Christian. Why? Because “Christian” is defined as “follower of Christ and His teachings,” which is something too many of the vocal so-called Christians frequently fail to do. But if someone told me those people were the true Christians now and I was something else, just because they were being noisy about their beliefs, you’d better believe I’d argue the point.

            The ones who went off and started ignoring Christ in favor of their own egos, THEY can pick a new term for themselves. I don’t care what public opinion says about which group defines Christianity; I know I’m Christian (“by our love, by our love” ;D ), and I’ll continue to call myself that.

          31. That’s fine. Just be prepared to catch the backlash of their actions as well as yours because of your common shared title, just as some muslims catch the backlash from their extremist cousins and “lack of belief in god” atheists catch flak for the opinions of “belief in lack of god” atheists. It’s not at all fair, but it happens.

        2. In Torcaso v. Watkins SCOTUS decided that a religion didn’t need a belief in a diety, supreme power, etc., to be called a religion. They explicitly stated that “secular humanism” was in fact a religion. The 7th Circuit Court recently ruled that Atheism was a religion. Like it or not, but standing around and professing what you believe to be truth while possessing no evidence to back up your claims, that is to say while not conducting scientific inquiry and presenting objective findings, is at best mere opinion, and if it pertains to the absolutes of the universe Religion.

          I’ll grant that the SCOTUS mention was in a footnote and not the body of the decision, thus granting no legal stature to the statement (as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out in Peloza v. Capistrano).

          (I hope I remembered which court did what, right. :p)

          1. You are, in all seriousness, telling me that if I go to the US, my lack of belief in god is considered a religion!?

            Next you’re going to tell me you guys will go to war to make democracy or something! 😉

          2. Heh.

            Like what has been said before, in the minds of the public and apparently those judges, the lack of belief in god is not what atheism means. Dictionaries can only do so much and they frequently fail to keep up with the use of a word in the real world.

            But then, we’re now getting in the debate of if grammarians or real world dictates the actual correct usage of a language which is a whole other can of worms. (IMO, the grammarians usually come around in time to the real usage, and if they don’t it just forks off into another language entirely which spawns new grammarians who again lag behind the real usage of the new language.)

          3. as a friend minister once said to me
            atheists are not people who dont believe in god all men believe that there is a supreeme been of some sort weither or not it is god does not matter. thae fact that an atheists know what god means, means that that person has some belief in god weither the follow him or not

          4. actually the man is not wrong being that he once had the chance to be on the council of churches.
            also one must not distinguish wrong from a persons experiences.

          5. Your argument from authority supports my thesis that people who accept faith have an easier time bowing to authority. It is a fallacy you would do much better giving up.

            It doesn’t matter what the man was offered or not; he is still completely wrong, as can be trivially shown by that I do not hold there exists any kind of supreme entity of any kind. None what so ever. Therefore, he either lies or is ignorant of how people think. I would recommend you find a more informed source of opinion in these matters, and seriously reconsider trusting what he tells you in the future.

            Of course, I suspect you won’t, and you’ll maintain that I am somehow wrong about how I think, and he is right. Your answers so far suggest this. Please prove me wrong!

          6. OK then forget the tilte religion it is a beleif like religion is

            Please look past my typos. It’s late and of course I type bad some times.First let me make sure I understand you. I really want to. This is paramount if I am to be able to declare my comments valid to you. I don’t try to prove myself right or wrong, but in fact look for truth. You’re comment “Prove me wrong” suggest arrogance and pride. Am I wrong? It is possible, but your writing does not suggest this. I submit my knowlege of what I beleive to be truth. Let us compare notes and find this out.
            Now you can called a beleif in god what you want.. give it any title. Religion… creed… oppinion. fact of the matter both a beleif in god or lack of it is is fact. Both are in fact beleifs in reality. ok lets forget about a stupid title and focus on the unarguable fact that a belief in god or a lack of beleif is in fact a view of reality. An oppinion on reality based on your information you think to be fact. Either way this applies to both sides. Now both can not coexcist. God can not be both theer and not there. Now forcing religion… or if aethism is not religion then forcing a beleif in reality on another is in fact wrong. Now I calssify aetheism as a religion because religion to me is a beleif in the truth of the reality of existence. Now if you have a different defintion then thats fine. Call it what you want. it’s still just as wrong to expect people to follow that then it is to expect a person who does not understand the information of a religion to accept a god they do not understand. To my knowlege god judges us on what our actions reflect. If an aethist thnks he’s doing right then god understands this. He judges the motivation of the action more than the action. So we would be wrong telling him he has to see it my way! Let this guy think what he wants and don’t force your view of reality on him(AKA religion to my definition of it). In turn let’s not be forced or told to take this reality void of god as valid if we really can’t see the details to beleive so.

            TO me the reason I follow the leaders of my church has very little to do with faith. It has to do with a knowlege of purity and goodness. It has to do with knowing clearly what choices in life will bring me what I want. Purity in my relations. Better family relations. A noble character of sacrifice for others. A love of truth. the thing is that being a good person or following what I beleive to be the teaching of god does not put me under a tyrant. I’ve never been asked to do something against my will. We all have choices. We can love bad thinsg ro good things. in the end we choose our fate of who and what we become. That in reality is the larger goal. I don’t really see the point for this entire thread. I normally don’t comment on these things, but I felt I had valid information.

            My view of god is this. We will be what we want to be and where our hearts are. My loyalty lies with good and purity and I would not follow a god that did not teach this. I am not forced to follow authorty. I make my choices to walk with them. A leader is nothing more than a glorified servant to those who he leads. Anything else is a tyrant. So.. umm I think my points are that.. no matter the name you give any beleife in god or lack of beleif… it is in fact a beleif of what reality is and no two beleifs can be truth. thats were the problem is. forcing a people not have god in their lives is forcing a view of how reality is and so is forcing a beleif he exists. Now instead of trying to argue what each is… does anyone have ideas how both can co-exist? How does aperson demand god to be part of society and another demand it not to be without being forceful of the other’s views. to me both can not exist together.

          7. OK then forget the tilte religion it is a beleif like religion is

            Please look past my typos. It’s late and of course I type bad some times.First let me make sure I understand you. I really want to. This is paramount if I am to be able to declare my comments valid to you. I don’t try to prove myself right or wrong, but in fact look for truth. You’re comment “Prove me wrong” suggest arrogance and pride. Am I wrong? It is possible, but your writing does not suggest this. I submit my knowlege of what I beleive to be truth. Let us compare notes and find this out.
            Now you can called a beleif in god what you want.. give it any title. Religion… creed… oppinion. fact of the matter both a beleif in god or lack of it is is fact. Both are in fact beleifs in reality. ok lets forget about a stupid title and focus on the unarguable fact that a belief in god or a lack of beleif is in fact a view of reality. An oppinion on reality based on your information you think to be fact. Either way this applies to both sides. Now both can not coexcist. God can not be both theer and not there. Now forcing religion… or if aethism is not religion then forcing a beleif in reality on another is in fact wrong. Now I calssify aetheism as a religion because religion to me is a beleif in the truth of the reality of existence. Now if you have a different defintion then thats fine. Call it what you want. it’s still just as wrong to expect people to follow that then it is to expect a person who does not understand the information of a religion to accept a god they do not understand. To my knowlege god judges us on what our actions reflect. If an aethist thnks he’s doing right then god understands this. He judges the motivation of the action more than the action. So we would be wrong telling him he has to see it my way! Let this guy think what he wants and don’t force your view of reality on him(AKA religion to my definition of it). In turn let’s not be forced or told to take this reality void of god as valid if we really can’t see the details to beleive so.

            TO me the reason I follow the leaders of my church has very little to do with faith. It has to do with a knowlege of purity and goodness. It has to do with knowing clearly what choices in life will bring me what I want. Purity in my relations. Better family relations. A noble character of sacrifice for others. A love of truth. the thing is that being a good person or following what I beleive to be the teaching of god does not put me under a tyrant. I’ve never been asked to do something against my will. We all have choices. We can love bad thinsg ro good things. in the end we choose our fate of who and what we become. That in reality is the larger goal. I don’t really see the point for this entire thread. I normally don’t comment on these things, but I felt I had valid information.

            My view of god is this. We will be what we want to be and where our hearts are. My loyalty lies with good and purity and I would not follow a god that did not teach this. I am not forced to follow authorty. I make my choices to walk with them. A leader is nothing more than a glorified servant to those who he leads. Anything else is a tyrant. So.. umm I think my points are that.. no matter the name you give any beleife in god or lack of beleif… it is in fact a beleif of what reality is and no two beleifs can be truth. thats were the problem is. forcing a people not have god in their lives is forcing a view of how reality is and so is forcing a beleif he exists. Now instead of trying to argue what each is… does anyone have ideas how both can co-exist? How does aperson demand god to be part of society and another demand it not to be without being forceful of the other’s views. to me both can not exist together.

          8. You do realize your blantly ignorant right?

            My view of god is this. We will be what we want to be and where our hearts are. My loyalty lies with good and purity and I would not follow a god that did not teach this. I am not forced to follow authorty. I make my choices to walk with them. A leader is nothing more than a glorified servant to those who he leads. Anything else is a tyrant. So.. umm I think my points are that.. no matter the name you give any beleife in god or lack of beleif… it is in fact a beleif of what reality is and no two beleifs can be truth. thats were the problem is. forcing a people not have god in their lives is forcing a view of how reality is and so is forcing a beleif he exists. Now instead of trying to argue what each is… does anyone have ideas how both can co-exist? How does aperson demand god to be part of society and another demand it not to be without being forceful of the other’s views. to me both can not exist together.

            So it brings us to a fight for power or if we do not fight for power to keep our beleif in reality then we have betrayed our beleif and let it die or be subserviant to a beleif not our own… a beleif we think is not true. So to fellow religion follows (I AM MORMON) how do we keep religion in society and not force it on those who do not want it… and equally how do we keep it in our lives if they choose a polical war to remove our views? Thanks everyone. I don’t think I proved anyone wrong, but merely defined this thread that faith and lack of it are in fact views of reality that can not both coexist. A view of reality that god does not exist is not different than a view of reality that god exists. both are beleifs both are faith in a view point. I have found though that generally those who do not like religion like to think they can do what they want without accountability or that the laws or purity bring them to shame so instead of taking in the truth and changing they simply deny the existence of god all together. Also one can convince themselves of just about anything if they want to. To my view of reality: I feel that those who don’t beleive in god are arrogant and in fact they will one day have to answer for this view that they are a lone power greater in knowlege than any one else. the authority in my church (I can not speak for ll, but only mormons) is not a person who is above us, but merely a person to aid us in our chosen loyalty or purity and good. They never ask us to do wrong. All things asked help defend and define our characters and our lives tobe what we would like them to be. I walk beside my god and he is my companion. A man does not fear or hate the god he trusts. And to conditions… well Conditions are never bad unless we feel shamed by them and unwilling to change for the better. A condition that we agree with is never bad.. those who do not agree with the conditions of god and of purity and truth are simply showing where their loyalty lays. You have every right not to agree. It is for you to choose whom you will serve and what you will seek after. It only shows to me that if a person doe snot agree with god, with love, forgiveness and truth… then his heart is set on a love of greed… deception and all things I deem unholy. Unholy or not… you have that right and it is my beleif this is why we are here. to gain experience and choose what we will follow, what we enjoy, where our hearts will rest and who we will become. We will be with the people and the principles that make us who we are. We are our own judges by this reality. A person who does not like purity, who maybe enjoys a good drink will not want to be with people who do not drink. A liar will not wnt to be ith those who tell teh truth.an adulter will not want loyal people around to give shame or hinder his habbit. an aeithiest will not want to be with anyone who sys god exists. We will all be with those ho make us happy… as for me.. I will be happy with god.

            So again how does good and evil or maybe opposing views not labeled good or evil, but opposing coexist. I do not think they can. So if one tries to force oppinion on me… I’ll fight to defend myself, but only in as much as he is a real threat. If he stays away and has no plans to attack… he may stay there without my intereferance.

          9. You do realize your blantly ignorant right?

            My view of god is this. We will be what we want to be and where our hearts are. My loyalty lies with good and purity and I would not follow a god that did not teach this. I am not forced to follow authorty. I make my choices to walk with them. A leader is nothing more than a glorified servant to those who he leads. Anything else is a tyrant. So.. umm I think my points are that.. no matter the name you give any beleife in god or lack of beleif… it is in fact a beleif of what reality is and no two beleifs can be truth. thats were the problem is. forcing a people not have god in their lives is forcing a view of how reality is and so is forcing a beleif he exists. Now instead of trying to argue what each is… does anyone have ideas how both can co-exist? How does aperson demand god to be part of society and another demand it not to be without being forceful of the other’s views. to me both can not exist together.

            So it brings us to a fight for power or if we do not fight for power to keep our beleif in reality then we have betrayed our beleif and let it die or be subserviant to a beleif not our own… a beleif we think is not true. So to fellow religion follows (I AM MORMON) how do we keep religion in society and not force it on those who do not want it… and equally how do we keep it in our lives if they choose a polical war to remove our views? Thanks everyone. I don’t think I proved anyone wrong, but merely defined this thread that faith and lack of it are in fact views of reality that can not both coexist. A view of reality that god does not exist is not different than a view of reality that god exists. both are beleifs both are faith in a view point. I have found though that generally those who do not like religion like to think they can do what they want without accountability or that the laws or purity bring them to shame so instead of taking in the truth and changing they simply deny the existence of god all together. Also one can convince themselves of just about anything if they want to. To my view of reality: I feel that those who don’t beleive in god are arrogant and in fact they will one day have to answer for this view that they are a lone power greater in knowlege than any one else. the authority in my church (I can not speak for ll, but only mormons) is not a person who is above us, but merely a person to aid us in our chosen loyalty or purity and good. They never ask us to do wrong. All things asked help defend and define our characters and our lives tobe what we would like them to be. I walk beside my god and he is my companion. A man does not fear or hate the god he trusts. And to conditions… well Conditions are never bad unless we feel shamed by them and unwilling to change for the better. A condition that we agree with is never bad.. those who do not agree with the conditions of god and of purity and truth are simply showing where their loyalty lays. You have every right not to agree. It is for you to choose whom you will serve and what you will seek after. It only shows to me that if a person doe snot agree with god, with love, forgiveness and truth… then his heart is set on a love of greed… deception and all things I deem unholy. Unholy or not… you have that right and it is my beleif this is why we are here. to gain experience and choose what we will follow, what we enjoy, where our hearts will rest and who we will become. We will be with the people and the principles that make us who we are. We are our own judges by this reality. A person who does not like purity, who maybe enjoys a good drink will not want to be with people who do not drink. A liar will not wnt to be ith those who tell teh truth.an adulter will not want loyal people around to give shame or hinder his habbit. an aeithiest will not want to be with anyone who sys god exists. We will all be with those ho make us happy… as for me.. I will be happy with god.

            So again how does good and evil or maybe opposing views not labeled good or evil, but opposing coexist. I do not think they can. So if one tries to force oppinion on me… I’ll fight to defend myself, but only in as much as he is a real threat. If he stays away and has no plans to attack… he may stay there without my intereferance.

          10. Your argument from authority supports my thesis that people who accept faith have an easier time bowing to authority. It is a fallacy you would do much better giving up.

            It doesn’t matter what the man was offered or not; he is still completely wrong, as can be trivially shown by that I do not hold there exists any kind of supreme entity of any kind. None what so ever. Therefore, he either lies or is ignorant of how people think. I would recommend you find a more informed source of opinion in these matters, and seriously reconsider trusting what he tells you in the future.

            Of course, I suspect you won’t, and you’ll maintain that I am somehow wrong about how I think, and he is right. Your answers so far suggest this. Please prove me wrong!

          1. For a broader definition of religion, yes. Although this particular example is more useful for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for an us and them scenario.

            More that “lack of faith in any spiritualism so far experienced” is as much a religion as “faith in a particular spiritualism”.

          2. More like categorical of me. If you claim to belong to no group under a specific category, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be categorised in that manner. It just means that your category is “none”, “N/A” or “Atheist”.

            Or are you saying that categorising you as an Atheist is controlling your mind? I don’t see where you’re comming from here.

          3. You are categorizing my whole life philosophy on the question of god, which is very doublespeak. To me, god is not important enough to base my life philosophy on; therefore, to make the claim that my religion is based on how I view god is at best disingenious, at worst deceptive.

            I have what some people would (erroneously, but still) call a religion. It has nothing what so ever to do with god, and it does not make my outlook on the concept of god yet another religion. Absence of belief does not a religion make. In this case, I don’t care enough about god for it to be anything but asinine to call my stance on it a religion.

            And a categorization of “N/A” is not a religion. Your own argument refutes your claim.

          4. Whoa. Forgetting the Pagans and polytheists are we? (notice how I capitalise Atheist, whilst lowercasing monotheist and polytheist? It’s significant…)

            And since when was religion the sole guiding philosophy in one’s life? Truely there are those who’s every action is guided by their belifs, but there are also Christian theives and murderers. Obviously they aren’t solely guided by their religion.

            And besides: I assume you don’t put down “N/A” on a form (say a census) that asks for your religion, you’d list yourself “Atheist”. Probably the few who do list “N/A” get thrown in with those who list “Atheist”. “Other” is still a categorisation for “hair colour”, as is “none” or “bald”.

          5. Christian thieves and murderers follow the bible. They are acting their religion more honestly than most. If you doubt me, please read the bible. I did.

            Assumptions make an ass of u. This time as well. I put N/A when someone asks me about religion. You are most presuming and assuming in this discussion, and it reflects poorly on your ability to understand the viewpoints of others. It seems you feel my stance must conform to your assumptions of it, which I admit I find rather arrogant of you. Especially considering your very basic mistakes on epistemology and what christianity actually encompasses.

            “Bald” is not a hair color. Your newspeak is most astonishing.

          6. Miss the whole “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covert” bit, huh? Just because the people acted that way is not to say that the religion is supposed to go that way. Anyway, as a nice little propaganda effort, I think you’d find that most of the theivery is performed by Jews.

            Assumptions are all I have to go on when you don’t describe your viewpoint all that well. You can only understand as much as you’ve been told. That you find my lack of knowledge of you arrogant leaves me thinking you’re egocentrist still, or egotistical. Also, what does epistemology have to do with this? Etymology, yes. Epistemology, no.

            Bald is a hair color in as far as it’s a description of no hair colour due to no hair.

          7. And you missed the whole “if you don’t have a sword, buy one” bit, and the “when you are about to get fired, use your employer for your own gain” bit, huh? Just because people act one way doesn’t mean that is how the basis for the religion teaches.

            My point is; you try to explain things, and as basis state how I am. That is presumptious and arrogant, and my objecting to it is not egocentrist nor egotistical. If I were to start claiming how you are on no basis, I’d be surprised if you didn’t respond the same way.

            Bald is not a hair color. I have a hair color, and I am also bald. They are different things.

          8. Actually, I did. But that could be seen as “don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.”

            I explain things as I see them and ask clarification. If this wasn’t clear, I apologise. That you do try to debase and dismiss before setting straight is… very conducive to agression.

            It’s a trivial point, but still, those without hair at all have no hair colour and may indicate this by saying that they are bald.

          9. For a broader definition of religion, yes. Although this particular example is more useful for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for an us and them scenario.

            More that “lack of faith in any spiritualism so far experienced” is as much a religion as “faith in a particular spiritualism”.

      2. To head off any further dozens of posts on the definition of Atheism, The one used above is the “Belief in the lack of God” which is not the official dictionary definition of Atheism.

        The lack of belief in god = the a lack of faith = Common usage Agnostics = Dictionary Atheism
        The belief in lack of god = A faith in itself = Common usage Atheism = Who knows what when try and match it up to Dictionary Atheism

        That is all.

        1. you are correct atheism is a religion the only majior difference between atheists and normal religions is that an atheist believes that he is a supreem being and he gides and directs hsi own life. even if they dont admit to it.

      3. “If atheism is a religion, then health is a disease”
        –Arthur C. Clarke

        Just being logically precise here.

        -some person you have never met

        1. That would be a useful quote if we were actually talking about atheism, but by the post above yours we’re actually talking about not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism, and also I was calling it a Faith, not a religion. Religions are a subtype of faiths. Science does not operate on faith so not-yet-named-belief-in-the-lack-of-god-ism should not be taught in a science class.

  5. I hate ID for the reasons you stated. I also have a feeling that it is being used to prove there is a God and with proof there is no need for faith, and faith is what the whole thing is about. The only thing ID proves is that a mash-up of observable facts with half-baked ideas is a Bad Thing.

  6. I sort of agree with you and yet I sort of don’t. Hardly surprising.

    The thing is, I believe that organisms can adapt and that there is some natural selection in life. I just don’t think that everything here evolved from the “ground up”, so to speak. Just because we can see it happening, doesn’t mean it did and we really don’t have enough proof to completely support that.

    For the sake of clarification, let’s pretend the “space ark” scenario. It’s tens of thousands of years from now and Humanity has figured out interstellar flight and matter transmission. We have also got the environment systems all figured out. We’ve decided to go to another galaxy, but we need a base. We find one planet with proteins on it and leave it alone. But nearby, we find a suitable hunk of rock, terraform it and add life to it. Of course, we need to build up a decent and sustainable atmosphere and water cycle first. Our little genetically engineered microbes are sent to work. We have to give it some time. Perhaps we even have the technology to mess with gravity and time. Perhaps we had to mess with the carbon isotopes to make things work. Then we carefully add our animals and plant life. We might have to work out some kinks in our weather dynamics.

    Anyway, for whatever reason, we have to abandon the project. Perhaps the political climate has changed back home and the people demand we spend our funds mining black holes or something. The thing is, our little project is left to itself for eons. Then we send another expedition to this other galaxy. We look for our original planet. Our records was scrambled a little during the Great Hacker War of 67851 AD, so exact directions are not available.

    We find two possible planets. Now, we had matter transportors, there would be no technological artifacts left. It’s possible that we could track with DNA, but after so many eons, would that really work – and what if both planets have very similar DNA structures? (This is a hypothetical situation, after all.) By checking the fossil records, would we really be able to tell on which planet the life evolved all from the same single cell organisms and which we had started?

    I think we would find evidence on both planets of natural selection and adaptation. But on our planet, there would be gaps in the evolutionary records.

    Bottom line, I’m an Evolutionary Agnostic/Creationist. I recently had to write a philosophoy of life paper for school and in the middle of putting my material together, I realized that my view of God as a Creator was not dependent on how the Universe came into being.

    Excerpt:
    The Hebrew Bible uses tohu (without form, chaotic, unorganized) and bohu (empty, without purpose and meaning) for “void and without form” in Genesis. This fits very well with my understanding and beliefs of the Creation. I believe that God organized the Earth and the heavens. How He got the materials to do it, I honestly don’t know. If I make a piece of art, I am still its creator, even if I didn’t make the materials I used in its creation. If I make a cake, I have created it, even if I didn’t grind the flour or made the eggs. If I write a song, I am only recreating vibrations and words in a different pattern. I didn’t create my own vocal cords or the materials to makes the instruments I used. I didn’t even create the tonic scales. I have only reorganized elements to create something new.

    Keeping this view in mind, how the matter and energy of the Universe originally came into being is a moot point in my philosophy of life. I could argue that the current mathematical models of the Universe most supported by observed data point to a beginning singularity and that most of the newer theories that have been proposed to eliminate the possibility for a singularity still have yet to be supported by new observations findings. I could do that. I might even be able to do it in a very compelling manner. However, it neither weakens nor strengthens my particular views on God as a Creator.

    1. James P. Hogan has a story on that exact subject.

      God creates a universe with Intelligent Beings. The activists override Intelligent Beings in court, because it will screw up the “natural balance.” With that out of the way, the predators will run roughshod, and the EPA orders them stricken. Then someone notices the lack of control on herbivores. Eventually, he’s authorized an entirely empty universe.

      BANG!

      “Oh, it’s all in there. It’ll just take a while to show up.”

    2. Yes, you could absolutely tell which one was yours. Proteins aren’t just random chains of peptides- even two proteins which serve very similar purposes will have dramatically different sequences if they aren’t related evolutionarily. Sequencing proteins and comparing primary sequence homology would give an inarguable answer quite easily, even with the technology we have today. The planet which contains proteins that are conserved in both function and sequence is the one that we “seeded.”

    3. Yes, you could absolutely tell which one was yours. Proteins aren’t just random chains of peptides- even two proteins which serve very similar purposes will have dramatically different sequences if they aren’t related evolutionarily. Sequencing proteins and comparing primary sequence homology would give an inarguable answer quite easily, even with the technology we have today. The planet which contains proteins that are conserved in both function and sequence is the one that we “seeded.”

  7. A very well-written explanation of your viewpoint. Thank you for taking the time to put it all down. Although I am an agnostic atheist, I have numerous friends with varying degrees of religiosity, and I always seek to understand their beliefs, just as I hope they seek to understand mine. We respect each others’ beliefs, even when we think they’re incorrect, and do not try to convert each other either way, but just look for understanding and communication.

    I just wanted to point out one item of terminology. The word “fact” is not generally used by scientists due to the confusion in the term in general English. From what I’ve experience, we are more likely to refer to things as data (“there is a rock in the side of the cliff,” “the rock’s ratio of Carbon-14 to Carbon-13 is X”), interpretations (“the rock is a fossil bone from Y animal,” “the rock is Z-many years old”), and theories (evolution). It is impossible to 100% completely prove anything but data “true.” If we call something a theory, it is as close to being “true” as a scientist will ever admit. If we actually are still uncertain about it, we won’t call it a theory, but a hypothesis instead.

    That said, the next time someone tells me “evolution is only a theory,” I’ll bite their head off with “well, gravity isn’t even that – Einstein replaced it with general relativity – and yet no one ever debates teaching that in schools!”

    1. Of course Gravity has the distinction of being something that we can actually test, poke, prod, and reproduce effects of in a laboratory.

      And Einstein replaced Newtonian Gravitation with a covariant theory of gravity. Still, Newtonian gravitation is the weak field limit of general relativity and thus still approximately valid as long as we’re not dealing with collapsed objects such as black holes or neutron stars.

      Heck, Newtonian gravitation even does a fair job of describing the cosmology of our universe.

      So, to sum up: Unless someone manages to completely speciate a population of fruit flies from a base population (as opposed to producing freak populations of fruit flies that are still in the same species), Evolution will have only indirect and inferred proof to back it up, while Gravity, whichever theory you like, can be tested by picking up a weight and timing how long it takes to hit the ground.

      1. Gravity actually enters into discussions of evolution. I’m not a mechanical engineer, but I’ve read a number of studies where they say, in effect, that Dinosaurs are too big to have walked on this earth. Obviously their FOSSILS are there, nobody disputes that, but they raise the question of whether or not Gravity could have been a variable rather than a constant.

        This doesn’t disprove evolution — it demonstrates that the existing theory is imperfect, because it does not yet account for all of the data.

        1. they raise the question of whether or not Gravity could have been a variable rather than a constant

          As I understand it, in order for gravity to vary enough to allow giant dinosaurs we wouldn’t be able to have planets, stars, galaxies, and other useful things like that. A more elegant solution that I’ve heard is simply that they spent large amounts of time in the water, supported by buoyancy, like hippos today.

        2. Actually, one of the professors that used to be here at UT-Knoxville was involved with a project that would measure a change in the gravitational constant to one part in a billion or so. It was a pretty nifty satellite that had two satellites inside of it and tracked their motion… It also used Gauss’s law applied to gravity to shield the inner satellites from noticing the mass of the outer satellite.

          But the fact remains that if I pick something up and let it go near an object with mass, it will be attracted to it. I can watch it happen.

          I can also observe gravitational redshifts of distant galaxies and find that general relativity/standard model of cosmology predicts things which closely mirror what is observed. That’s looking back a few billion years.

          Whereas Evolution acts over a time-scale somewhere in between cosmology and humanity. An area which basically can’t be probed in a single person’s lifetime save for looking at fossils. And the evidence is quite numerous and convincing, save for the fact that unlike pointing a telescope in the sky, or dropping an apple, you can’t *watch* it happen over the same kinds of time-scales that we can observe gravity over (very short term and very long term).

          It’ll be interesting a few years from now when we start looking at redshift 7 and 8 objects because there should be evidence starting from around there that the expansion of the universe at one point was slowing down (during its matter dominated era instead of its present vacuum energy dominated era).

      2. Unless someone manages to completely speciate a population of fruit flies from a base population (as opposed to producing freak populations of fruit flies that are still in the same species), Evolution will have only indirect and inferred proof to back it up

        Micro evolution of things such as freak populations of fruit flies and antibiotic resistant bacteria is easily observed. As I understand it, it is only macro evolution of whole species that is contested. And yes, it only has “indirect and inferred proof to back it up,” but you can say the same thing about the whole field of astronomy, everything we know about atomic structure, and much of what we know about the properties of materials, the latter of which has led to the invention of things such as batteries, computers, and cell phones.

        1. No, not Astronomy. I can go and take a picture of a planet. Calculate where it will be. And then take a picture of it in its new home. That is *direct* observation.

          With Neutron Diffraction techniques and the new neutron machines coming on-line, such as the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge, we can directly map electron orbitals around atoms.

          Properties of materials? Those are all things I can go and hook up to something, flip a switch, and make a direct measurement on.

          I’ll grant that existence of Quarks, the Higg’s Boson, and Gluons are all inferred from observation or things in the standard model of particle physics. But for the three things you listed, direct measurements are completely possible to make except for some of the most esoteric ones (say if you wanted to map the Landau levels – magnetic eigenstates – of electrons in a given material. You’d really be measuring currents as you change the magnetic field. Still, this is something you can do in a lab, over the course of a day or two, as opposed to speciating a population which should take ten thousand or so years at a minimum. Which is my point – you can observe these other processes occuring. There is no direct observation of speciation in process to really hammer evolution’s point home. And this is one long paranthetical note.)

          1. Astronomy is my field of expertise (while you appear to be more well-versed in particle physics than I). It’s going to be tough convincing me that the majority of astronomical concepts are the result of direct evidence.

            For example, we cannot directly observe the life cycle of a star. We can observe stars in various stages of life and create a road map of how we think they’re connected for different mass stars. We can create computer models that try to simulate what we think is happening, but they always have woeful inadequacies. And yet, ever since Chandrasekhar we’ve had an accepted theory of how stars evolve. We take a few data points in time, and connect them to come up with an overall picture. This is the same thing that is done with the theory of evolution.

            Direct evidence is NOT required in order for something to be a solidly accepted theory. Perhaps we are now developing technology to map orbitals, however ever since Bohr we have accepted the existence of orbitals without that information, but instead using indirect methods and mathematical models. Similarly, scientists accept the theory of evolution without directly sitting there and watching the animals evolve.

            Furthermore, I would like to request a definition from you of “direct evidence.” I feel that “direct evidence” is anything sensed by a human using his or her five senses (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell), and therefore the vast majority of scientific results do not use direct evidence. For example, when I am boiling a pot of water, and it boils over, my direct evidence is that the water boiled over the pot. I infer from this that the burner was turned up too hot. These steps of inference are present in our daily lives all the time, and it is merely a chain of these that compromise all theories in science.

      3. We have speciated Drosophila Melanogaster in the lab in not too many generations. That is, it’s a new species that can’t interbreed with the old species.

        Meanwhile, horses and donkeys breed sport, horses and zebras breed true, while ALL of the great cats (lions, leopards, tigers, panthers, jaguars, cheetahs) can breed true. All look different, cheetahs are hella fast, lions have different paw structures from the rest, tigers are outrageously strong, and a “liger” is so large and strong it can barely survive in the wild–it needs hundreds of pounds of meat a day to feed its up to 800 lb bulk.

        So, it should be fairly obvious that the cats are not quite speciated through drift, horses/zebra ditto, horses/donkeys much more so, and those Drosophila we’ve bred prove the concept.

        Now, you can argue the concept doesn’t scale up properly…though it’s not a bet I’d take. That’s a theory in dispute. But it IS an obervable fact that species diverge and separate to new species with new characteristics.

        We call that, “Evolution.”

        1. It occurs to me in rereading that that sounds condescending. That wasn’t my intent. I was going through step by step for other readers and got into lecture mode. Sorry.

          Still, to argue that a new species is still “just” a fruit fly begs the question…just how far do we have to take it to “prove” the case?

          As another LDS writer commented (Orson Scott Card), “What some people want is a ten million year interval where everyone lay down on top of his daddy to die. And even then they’d say they were ‘just cousins.'”

          No one has EVER seen a black hole. But we deduce they exist and have “proof” of it. No one is entirely sure what a quasar is. Neither invalidates astronomy.

          1. No one has EVER seen a black hole.

            Which is part of why it took so long for even astronomers to finally accept the theory. Amusingly, laypeople jumped on the bandwagon a lot sooner than astronomers, as when I was taught about them the astronomers were all busy being skeptics. Really massive things that aren’t black holes were thought to be a lot more likely for the longest time.

          2. And Black Holes are still massively (no pun intended) obscure. There are numerous different theories on the whats and wherefores of their makeup, eventual decay and effects.

            But if anyone doubts common ancestry with other primates, I have a 4 year old to show you:-D

          3. Actually, we’ve observed an object too massive and too small in some binary system (crud, I wish I remembered where I read this so I could cite it) not too long ago that could not be anything other than a blackhole.

            So yeah, we haven’t taken a photo of one, but we’ve seen one wrestling its brother.

        2. Have a paper citation on the Drosophila speciation? I’m not big into biology (astrophysics ahoy!) but I’m always interested in learning new things, and this I did not know.

          1. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html about 50 links can be found here.

            Here’s that site’s FAQ:

            http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html

            Interestingly, when I challenged a creationist site on a species (Archaeopteryx), they refused to refute me and threw a lot of insulting theogogy at me instead (Apparently, any answers from non-Christians can’t be trusted because non-Christians “lack a moral compass”). However, Talk Origins refuted me FOR them, with hard facts, even though it reduced their argument on that item. (And THAT is the mark of a SCIENTIST. Science is not based on faith. It is based on facts. Anyone who says otherwise is confused or doing bad science.) So if anyone tries to attack them for a bias, I have the exchange on file.

      1. Unfortunately the term “law” is also used at times for disproven hypotheses that can be stated very succinctly, such as Bode’s Law, which incorrectly concluded that the distances of the planets from the sun were of mathematically predetermined values. I tend to not use the word “law” with my students, or I explain that to be a theory there needs to be a physical explanation, while a law appears to require only a consise description.

        To further beat a dead horse to death, an example of a law would be “the sky is blue” or “grass is green,” while a theory would explain atmospheric (dust) scattering of the sun’s white light spectrum and lines of sight, and why chlorophyll selectively reflects green wavelengths and absorbs all others, respectively. (I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation of why chlorophyll is GREEN rather than some other color, but that’s a different topic.)

        1. Because there is less energy contained in the green wavelengths than in the others. Lots of molecules COULD have been used, but using one that reflected greens and absorbed everything else provided chlorophyll-using plants with a metabolic advantage over their purple-ophyll or red-ophyll neighbors.

          This is why plants whose leaves are variegated with streaks of silver and white seldom do well in the wild. They’re throwing energy away.

          –Howard

          1. In terms of energy, from lowest to highest it goes ROYGBV. Red-ophyll plants would’ve been absorbing all but the lowest energy wavelengths, so based upon your argument I’d expect most plants to be red. Perhaps there’s another competing advantage, such as that chlorophyll is easier to make than red-ophyll.

          2. It’s not just the energy contained in those wavelengths — it’s the amount of them that happens to be present in the sunlight we get. We get LOTS of infrared and red energy, and lots more Orange and Yellow. Green we don’t get so much of. Blue and Violet are also kind of scarce, but they’re pretty energetic, so they’re worth absorbing.

            –Howard

          3. Oh duh, the atmospheric window. *smacks head* My head was above the clouds again. Thanks.

            Hm, it appears difficult to find a chart online of the detailed visible-light atmospheric window, and my textbooks are all in my office.

            Meanwhile, another little thing to point out is that while plants and instruments on the Earth do receive a lot of IR light, depending upon the wavelength most of it is not directly from the sun, but from the surroundings and the atmosphere itself. IR telescopes’ detectors have to be cooled ridiculously so that they’re not just seeing their own glow, and then in order to see anything in the sky you always have to take two pictures, one of the object and sky, and one of some nearby “blank” sky, and subtract the bright sky image from the slightly more bright object-and-sky image. This works well enough in the near IR around the 2-micron range, but much further and you need to get into space, as did the Spitzer Space Telescope.

        2. “Theorem” has a definite meaning in mathematics, but that didn’t stop centuries of mathematicians from incorrectly referring to “Fermat’s Last Theorem”.

  8. When I read this on your Schlock Mercenary, I smiled. You perfectly described how religion and science should be orthogonal. They attempt to answer different questions, and I can’t understand why people think either is attempting to invalidate the other.

  9. I really liked what a professor I had for physics said once (and amazingly, this wasn’t at BYU, but at WSU). Science is about the how of things. Religion is about the why. They’re complementary, not two world views fighting with each other. I don’t know why so many people have a hard time getting that…

  10. If you ever need additional income, I could see a regular column by you regarding religion. Your rants on the subject are extremely readable and well-thought-out. You could bill yourself Mr. Logically Faithful Person.

  11. Point of information: evolution is both a fact and a theory. The fact of evolution is that, well, things evolve. It’s been observed. If it hadn’t been observed then a friend of mine wouldn’t be getting a PhD very soon on genes in fruit flies, because they would all be the same.

    The theory of evolution is the explanation of the fact of evolution. Without this, none of modern biology would make sense! We would have no idea about things like antibiotic resistance and how different species came to exist. It isn’t perfect, but it’s important to note that nothing is.

    There was a poster above who disputed the idea of ‘macro’-evolution existing… but that is merely ‘micro’-evolution which lasts a little bit longer. What’s the problem with getting to the top of a building by taking small steps? Really this isn’t an issue for evolution and hasn’t ever been.

    As far as the religion is concerned, I’m a pretty hardcore atheist and happy with it. I’m glad you are happy with your beliefs and that you can reconcile science and faith; you’re not one of the crazies the world has to worry about!

    On morality, perhaps science isn’t very good about telling us how to live, but there are massive branches of philosophy which deal with moral codes without the need for deities. Everyone tries to live according to some principles, whether they are religious or not.

    One final note: I love your comic, it’s the highlight of my morning. 🙂

      1. Both. Not only do I not think there are any gods, I strongly believe that there aren’t. I’m not certain, of course; but my belief is based on taking observable reality as a resonable working hypothesis! There’s just no need for any deities or oher supernatural beings.

        1. So that’s a “Yes, er, no, er, maybe.. I mean somewhere in between, but It’s not faith for me!” right? Sigh, I can see if I’m going to get any straight answers I’ll have to make it a multiple choice poll. (Marks it down for “Belief in lack of any god”)

          1. Then I’m going to really confuse you…

            Mark me down for a lack of belief in any god, as well as a total belief in all gods, simultaneously. Even the ones who are claimed to be unable to be believed in simultaneously with other gods.

          2. Then I’m going to really confuse you…

            Mark me down for a lack of belief in any god, as well as a total belief in all gods, simultaneously. Even the ones who are claimed to be unable to be believed in simultaneously with other gods.

    1. No, I doubted that it was tested. This is the same as saying, “Well, I know I can make electrons move in a circuit if I put a battery in there” and going from that to Ohm’s Law without bothering to actually go measure and see if V=IR.

      And I see from another poster there’s been some work on the intermediate step. Which makes me smile.

      1. I can’t find your post so I’m going to assume it was you who was talking about the micro/macro dichotomy. Thing is: it’s a false dichotomy. Everything got where it is today by small steps, and this has certainly been tested. There’s plenty of work been done, believe me. It’s not so much an intermediate step as it is a continuum, or a series of intermediate steps.

        It’s only when you have the luxury of looking at the products of descent by modification and natural selection that you realise how wildly different they look. But this large ‘macro’ difference has come about by a combination of lots of ‘micro’ steps.

    2. I just took physical anthropology and at no time did they say evolution was fact. They did point out creationism was not science. Facts POINT to evolution, but that doesn’t make evolution a fact. I could give you quotes from the book, but it would probably bore the snot out of you (like it did me).

      1. A scientific fact is different to the normal, everyday definition. For example, there is much evidence for the Earth orbiting the Sun – so much that this is accepted as a scientific fact. As for how this happens, well, that’s where you need a theory – the Theory of Gravity in this case (or General Relativity).

        Facts deal with the what, theories deal with the how.

        For more information, there’s a great article here.

  12. Actually, I believe in equal time for Aaragon, Abenaki, Acoma, Ainu, Aleut, Amunge, Angevin, Anishinabek, Anvik-Shageluk, Apache, Arapaho, Ararapivka, Arikara, Armenian, Arrernte, Ashkenazim, Assiniboine, Athabascan, Athena, Aztec, Babylonian, Balinese, Bannock, Bantu, Basque, Blackfoot, Blood, Bosnian, Breton, Brul, Bundjalung, Burns Paiute, Caddo, Cahuilla, Catalan, Cayuga, Cayuse, Celt, Chehalis, Chelan, Cherokee, Chewella, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Chinook, Chippewa, Chirachaua, Choctaw, Chukchi, Coeur d’Alene, Columbia River, Colville, Comanche, Congolese, Concow, Coquille, Cow Creek, Cowlitz, Cree, Creek, Croat, Crow, Crow Creek, Cumbres, Curonian, Cushite, Cut Head, Da’an, Devon, Dihai-Kutchin, Diyari, Dogon, Duwamish, Egyptian, Elwha, Eritrean, Eskimo, Esrolvuli, Eta, Even, Evenk, Flathead, Fijian, Fox, Fuegan, Gaul, Gooniyandi, Gond, Govi Basin Mongolian, Grand Ronde, Gros Ventre, Haida, Han, Haranding, Havasupai, Hendriki, Heortling, Hidatsa, Hindi, Hmong, HoChunk, Hoh, Hoopa, Hopi, Hunkpapa, Hutu, Ik-kil-lin, Inca, Innu, Intsi Dindjich, Inuit, Iroquois, Isleta, Itchali, Itelemen, It-ka-lya-ruin, Itkpe’lit, Itku’dlin, Jicarilla Apache, Jotvingian, Kaiyuhkhotana, Kalapuya, Kalispel, Kamchandal, Kansa, Karuk, Katshikotin, Kaurna, Kaw, Kazahk, Ketschetnaer, Khanti, Khoi-San, Khymer, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Kirghiz, Kitchin-Kutchin, Klamath, Knaiakhotana, K’nyaw, Koch-Rajbongshi, Kolshina, Kono, Kootenai, Koyukukhotana, !Kung, Kurd, La Jolla, Lac Courte D’Oreille, Lac Du Flambeau, Laguna, Lake, Lakota, Lao, Latgalian, Leech Lake Chippewa, Lemmi, Lower Brul, Lower Yanktonai, Lowland Lummi, Lummi, Malawi, Makah, Mandan, Maori, Maricopan, Martinez, Mayan, Mazatec, Mednofski, Menominee, Meryam Mir, Mesa Grande, Mescalero Apache, Metlakatla, Miniconjou, Mission, Moallalla, Modoc, Mohawk, Mojave, Morongo, Muckleshoot, Murrinh-Patha, Nadruvian, Nagorno-Karabakh, Na-Kotchpo-tschig-Kouttchin, Nambe, Namib, Natche’-Kutehin, Navajo, Nes Pelem, Neyetse-kutchi, Nez Perce, Ngiyampaa, Nisqualli, Nnatsit-Kutchin, Nomelackie, Nooksack, Norman, Norse, Northern Cheyenne, Nyungar, Oglala, Ogorvalte, Ojibway, Okanagon, Okinawan, Olmec, Omaha, Oneida, Onondaga, Ordovices, Orlanthi, Osage, Osetto, O-til’-tin, Otoe, Paakantyi, Paiute, Pala Mission, Papago, Pawnee, Pazyryk, Pechango, Penan, Piegan, Pima, Pitt River, Ponca, Potowatomie, Prussian, Pueblo, Puyallup, Qiang, Quileute, Quinault, Red Cliff Chippewa, Red Lake Chippewa, Redwood, Rincon, Sac, Saisiyat, Sakuddeis, Salish, Salt River, Samish, Samoan, Samogitian, San Carlos Apache, San Idlefonso, San Juan, San Poil, Santa Clara, Sartar, Sauk-Suiattle, Selonian, Semigolian, Seminole, Senecan, Sephardim, Serano, Serb, Shasta, Shawnee, Shiite, Shinnecock, Shoalwater Bay, Shoshone, Sikh, Siletz, Silures, Sinhalese, Sioux, Siskiyou, Sisseton, Siuslaw, Skalvian, S’Klallam, Skokomish, Skyomish, Slovene, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Soboba, Southern Cheyenne, Spokane, Squaxin Island, Steilacoom, Stillaquamish, Stockbridge, Sunni, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tadjik, Takhayuna, Tala, Talastari, Tamil, Tanaina, Taos, Tarim, Tasman, Tatar, Tesuque, Tlingit, Tohono O’Odom, Toltec, Tpe-ttckie-dhidie-Kouttchin, Tranjik-Kutchin, Truk, Tukkutih-Kutchin, Tulalip, Tungus, Turtle Mountain, Tuscarora, Turk, Turkmen, Tutsi, Ugalakmiut, Uintah, Umatilla, Umpqua, Uncompagre, U-nung’un, Upper Skagit, Ute, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Viking, Vunta-Kutchin, Wahpeton, Walla Walla, Wasco, Wembawemba, White Mountain Apache, Wichita, Wik-ungkan, Winnebago, Wiradjuri, Wylackie, Xhosa, Yahi, Yakama, Yakima, Yakut, Yanamamo, Yankton Sioux, Yellowknife, Yindjibarnd, Youkon Louchioux, Yukaghir, Yukonikhotana, Yullit, Yuma, Zjen-ta-Kouttchin, and Zulu Creationism.

    They’re all equally valid.

  13. This weak athiest (i.e. I don’t believe in a diety, but would believe given sufficient evidence – some call me an agnostic, others call me an athiest) tips his hat to you. A beautiful post.

  14. Howard, I’m curious — do you distinguish between faith and religion? You call yourself devoutly religious; the only comparable term I can think of is “devoutly spiritual,” since “faithful” has a (to me) rather different meaning. Was the choice of wording intentional on your part?

    You’ve defined religion as “community and individual spirituality,” but you speak of your faith — does that mean that you view the two as inseparable or interdependent?

    (I admit, I haven’t read all 134 comments on this thread, so please just point me in the right direction if this has already been covered)

    1. We may have some overburdened terms here. Faith can mean “creed” or “sect,” and faithful can mean “adherent” or “disciple.” Religion can ALSO mean “creed” or “sect,” and often carries a lot of emotional baggage as a word.

      So I simplify. I have lots of faith, in that I believe in things that outward evidences cannot prove. I hold beliefs when the only evidences I have for them are personal experiences, some of which are too sacred for me to share with others. This faith, these beliefs, are part of the “spirituality” that I described. Anyone who has had these kinds of revelatory experiences will understand what I’m talking about. Anyone who hasn’t will marvel, doubt, and may even be tempted to cast aspersions and/or call me crazy.

      The sect I belong to (sect is a fairly specific word, right?) is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This organization encourages personal spirituality, and would fail in its absence. The Church also encourages the SHARING of spiritual experiences among the congregation — we teach and testify to one another.

      So yes, in MY case Religion (sect) and Faith (spirituality) are inseperable. I know people, however, who have not found a Religion (sect) that resonates with their Faith (spirituality.)

      Clear as mud?

      –Howard

      1. Yes and no. Excellent explanation but, like all good explanations, it births more questions.

        Does that mean that had you not been a member of the LDS (I hope you don’t mind the acronym use), your faith would have driven you to find a group with which to share your spiritual experiences?

        Disclosure: I’m not an atheist, and I’ve more faith than any agnostic is allowed by the rules. But I’ve not found any sect with which I agree fully, so I’m stuck figuring this out on my own 🙂

        Some people hold the view that one does not choose a religion (sect) based on agreement, but *despite* disagreements. I, not unexpectedly, disagree with that position 🙂 If one was born into a sect, I could see how leaving it for more palatable circles could be viewed as a surrender. But what of those who have not started out in a religion? What do we have to base our decisions on if not the spiritual experiences you refer to?

        (I realize you haven’t said a word to contradict this, but I wanted to state my position fully for clarity’s sake. This seemed like an… appropriate place)

  15. almost ALL science… at one time or another… is BAD science. It is only fact until it is replaced with new science from what I’ve observed in science class.

    1. Well, no. Bad science is what happens when you ignore data because you want to prove your pet hypothesis. A drug company that shuffles reports of dangerous side-effects under the rug during trials is promulgating Bad Science.

      But good science is never really “fact.” Facts are the observed data. Science is the process by which the data is examined and explained. These explanations allow us to predict future outcome, often with certainty that comes as close to 100% as makes no difference… but those predictions are not facts.

      Consider gravity. We know WHAT it does. Here on earth, if you jump off the roof you fall to the ground at 9.8 meters/sec^2. We have devised enough experiments regarding gravity that we can predict not only that you WILL fall to the ground if you jump off the roof, but we can tell you exactly how long you will fall before you hit.

      But “you will fall off the roof” is a prediction, not a fact. Not until you fall.

      I use this example because you kids are supposed to be working on my jetpack. I’m not going to strap a rocket onto my precious hide — you need to work out anti-gravity, and a complete understanding of pro-gravity is required before you’ll be able to make me fly without accidentally turning gravity off planet-wide. I don’t need to tell you what a mess THAT would make. Just you wait until your father gets home…

    2. Then your science teachers were bad

      and you haven’t understood science at all.

      Howardtayler’s reply to your post makes some good points. There’s one thing I’d like to add: Good science (in fact, let me pull out the dreaded t-word here: a good theory) never really gets replaced with “new science”. Well, it does, but that doesn’t suddenly make the old one “bad science” by any means.

      Confused? Maybe I should use an example. Newton’s theory of gravity, a very impressive intellectual achievement. It has been “replaced” by Einstein’s theory of relativity. That doesn’t mean it’s suddenly invalid though – for the vast majority of situations (to oversimplify a bit, all those that Newton could imagine), Newton’s theory is still valid. For a few extreme situations (black holes, travelling at nearly the speed of light, etc.), Einstein’s theory gives us better predictions than Newton’s; for all other situations, the two theories give identical results. Einstein’s theory *extends* Newton’s theory, rather than invalidating it. Neither has ever been or will ever be “fact” (so if you were taught those as “fact” in science class, you weren’t taught well*) and neither has ever been or will EVER be bad science.

      * arguably, the distinctions between and definitions of concepts like hypothesis, theory, model, fact etc. are something that should be taught in philosophy, as “philosophy of science”, but especially when science is under attack from creationism, I think it’s important that people learn what the scientific method and the thinking behind it actually IS.

      1. Re: Then your science teachers were bad

        I don’t think science is under attack from creationism – I think science is under attack for not considering it a valid theory, when they have loads of other theories just as unprovable.

        When someone goes into remission from AIDS, Cancer or beats the odds in some ‘unscientific’ way – science tosses the spiritual aspect aside – even if it might be a very valid and a very significant part of the remission. I think this is the problem I have with tossing out the ‘divine intervention’ theory in science. After all, shouldn’t scientists be the first to say, just because you can’t see it, can’t prove it, doesn’t mean it might have happened this way?

        1. That’s exactly what I mean by “under attack”.

          I shouldn’t really bother arguing this with you. I won’t call you stupid – that’d be arrogant and closed-minded of me. But I do suspect that we view the world in such fundamentally different ways that we’re not going to get very far.

          Anyway, science doesn’t consider creationism (or Intelligend Design, or Creation Science, or whatever you want to call it) a valid theory BECAUSE IT ISN’T. You’ve just shown that, like so many creationists, you have NO IDEA what a theory is. A theory is a framework for “explaining” and quanitfying a phenomenon or set of phenomena, such as gravity or life/evolution. It’s NOT the same as the colloquial sense of “I have a theory…” meaning “I think this is what happened”. In science, the closest to that meaning is a “hypothesis”. Intelligent Design *is* arguably a hypothesis. However, it’s one that’s not falsifiable (you can’t disprove it), therefore it’s basically useless to science. Evolution as such isn’t really falsifiable either, BUT many of its implications and logical consequences are. You can’t ever *prove* anything in science, but you can build up huge amounts of evidence supporting something. Evolution has this evidence. ID/creationism does not really have any specific implications or make any predictions that we could test and try to either falsify or find supporting evidence (and in those cases where it does, they have been disproven, AFAIK).

          What “loads of unprovable theories” are you talking about? Bearing in mind, of course, that a scientific theory is by definition unprovable – assuming that by “unprovable” you mean “we *can’t* perform experiments to disprove or support the theory”. I would like specific examples, otherwise you’re sounding a bit like a closed-minded “scientist are godless lying manipulative satanists and are just making everything up” type of fundie wacko.

          As for the second paragraph… science tosses the spiritual aspects aside. Yes, it does. Not because it denies or claims to disprove spirituality, but because it’s outside of the scope of science. If someone miraculously beats AIDS or cancer, saying “God cured him/her” (or even “God *might have* cured…”) is unscientific for several reasons.
          Firstly, we can’t prove or disprove it. We can’t even find evidence for or against it. As such, we don’t say anything about it.
          Secondly, even if we could, it’s not very useful to us. If a patient beats AIDS, we will examine them to see what happened biologically, biochemically. How would you think God would miraculously cure someone? By just – *poof* – making all the viruses vanish from their bloodstream, or by gently manipulating their immune system so that it can effectively fight AIDS? If the second one happens in a patient, scientists don’t care whether God, the flying spaghetti monster’d noodly appendage, or evolution *caused* the change. We care that the change happened, we want to find out what the change is, and we want to isolate their AIDS-resistant immune cells to help other people beat AIDS.

          So yeah, I’ll admit we toss out the “divine intervention” theory. I’d say that we don’t rule it out as such, but we assume that if God does intervene, he’ll do it subtly, within the framework of the laws of physics. If so, we can try to understand the effects of the intervention and maybe derive some new knowledge from it that will help mankind at large (and the fact that God did it is irrelevant to that knowledge). If the intervention is done by *poof*-type magic, there’s no useful knowledge to be had there, so we may as well ignore it.

          I’ve got lots of other ideas about all this floating around my head – the interaction of science & religion is absolutely fascinating – but I can’t really make a coherent point right now, and I’ve got to go. Hope what I’ve written here gives you something to think about. Oh, and could you clarify your last sentence? I can’t quite make sense of it, sorry.

          1. Re: That’s exactly what I mean by “under attack”.

            Nope. Absolutely not, and if you think so, your teachers were bad.

            You argued in your sentence that, “You can’t disprove it, therefore it might be possible.” I can’t argue that. I have a friend who is, or claims to be, a solipsist. The universe exists because she wants it to, and began with her and will end when she dies. Any memories or experiences I have are merely part of the construct for her benefit.

            Obviously, I cannot disprove this.

            Therefore, she is correct, yes?

            Um…

            At some point, the universe WAS created. This is axiomatic–it exists. We can explain with varying degrees of confidence* how it has developed since inception. The closer we get to that magic moment, the less accurate our predictions due to less available data. I’ve heard mention of theories as to origin, but I don’t know enough to comment.

            The standard ID/creationist argument is, “Science fails to explain/was wrong about X, therefore it proves God exists because no other explanation works.”

            This is not science.

            There is a possibility that every atom in your body might suddenly destroy itself. It would take several huge chips to hold enough zeros to express the probability of this happening, but it could. Therefore, your continued existence is a theory. Want to take the bet? $5 says it doesn’t happen to you in the next day. Take the bet, and you pay me $5 if it does.

            Science is based (roughly) on:
            Observation.
            Hypothesis as to what or how.
            Experiments or accumulation of data.
            Testing of hypothesis.
            Cross-testing by others to find flaws or confirm.
            Theory.
            Revision of theory and fine tuning.

            Faith enters into it nowhere. It was faith, from Aristotle and then the Church that said that heavy objects fall faster than small objects. Logical within a certain context. Easy enough to test.

            Galileo tested it. They were wrong.

            For denying faith (Among other political issues) he was censured, arrested and excommunicated.

            *Now, consider the following “bad” science:

            The Earth is flat and the center of the universe.

            The Earth is a sphere 7850 miles across and the center of the universe. (Eratosthenes)

            The Earth is a sphere 7926 and not the center of the universe.

            The Earth is an oblate spheroid with a polar diameter of 7900 miles and an equatorial diameter of 7926 miles.

            The Earth is an oblate spheroid with a polar diameter of 7900 miles and an equatorial diameter of 7926 miles and a sub-equatorial bulge south of the equator…

            Every one of these is wrong. Therefore, science is wrong, yes?

            But each estimate is CLOSER to what will eventually be an exact description (mountains have to be accounted for at some point).

            Nope. GOOD science is never based on faith. Only bad science.

            As a friend of mine–a very devout Catholic and gravitational physicist–puts it, “Genesis was the attempt of people at the time to explain God’s universe as they saw it. Physics is my attempt to explain God’s universe as I see it. We’re both wrong, of course, but I’m closer to an answer than they are.”

            And here’s an “hypothesis” for your amusement. Should it be given credit and seriously considered?
            http://www.expanding-earth.org/

          2. Re: That’s exactly what I mean by “under attack”.

            I’m not a zealot, I’m just as interested in science as I am in religion, I think – maybe biased toward religion but certainly I read MORE books on science than on religion (aside from my anthropology book the last book I read was ‘Red Queen’ – about the Red Queen theory in genetics). I do know what a theory is, that was one of the first questions on my final. But when it comes to creation, especially in anthropology – which IS a science – how you can totally negate anything so old and vital as the ‘divine’? In my opinion scientists have manipulated the word theory to squeeze out whatever they don’t want to include. Theory changes depending where you apply it. It can be art, it can be philosophy and it can be science. I find it odd that science doesn’t mind the bending of theory to fit art into science (as in evolution and how art /use of tools impact evolution) but not religion. You can not PROOVE the impact of art on man, but you can proove the impact of man on art. You can’t proove the impact of Man on God – but you CAN proove the impact of (the belief of)God on man. There is my niggle. The impact of a belief of the divine is insurmountable. All of the oldest religions have the divine in their creation myth. What was asked in the introduction of the ‘intelligent design’ wasn’t to study the story in the bible, but to note that some people (which is a joke, it’s MOST people) believe that the earth was created by an intelligent being. How is that not important? If we were in Japan, we’d learn their myth of creation – if we were in China, we’d learn theirs. Our nation is 75% christian – and 95% of us celebrate Christmas – why we think it’s better to be ignorant of the impact of the divine on man and it’s impact on evolution or creation is BIZARRE to me – that’s all I mean. I hope my words got through to you and that you will be as open minded on it as you hope I will. And I do hope you won’t think I’m ignorant or unworthy of your debate.

          3. Just a note to say I’ll reply later.

            I’m in GMT+1, so it’s bedtime for me. Will reply properly in the morning, 10 hours or so from now. Just to let you know I’m not quitting (yet). 🙂

          4. OK, I have time now.

            First of all, paragraphs? Please? Makes things easier to digest.

            Anyway, when you first claim to know about science, and “know” what a theory is, and then claim that creationism is a theory, my first instinct is to shout “NO! STUPID! You have NO CLUE what a theory is!”. However, reading on, it seems to me that my previous impression was right – our ways of viewing the world are too different. You seem to muddle up science, philosphy and religion into one big “understanding of the world” or whatever. I’m not saying that’s wrong, it’s just completely different from how I see things.

            Generally – and I don’t blame you, I find it hard to keep things tidy and separate in my mind – you seem to mix things together a lot.
            Some examples (or other quotes I take issue with):

            But when it comes to creation, especially in anthropology – which IS a science – how you can totally negate anything so old and vital as the ‘divine’?

            I don’t think science does. I’m really not versed in anthropology, but I’m pretty sure an anthropologist wouldn’t go “we’ll assume none of these people ever believed in God and study them from that premise”. Belief in God is an important factor, yes. But that doesn’t mean that, in studying it, we have to accept God’s existence as true. I get the impression that you’re not distinguishing between “the existence of a belief in God” and “the existence of God” here, or something.

            In my opinion scientists have manipulated the word theory to squeeze out whatever they don’t want to include.
            Well, in *my* opinion, you (and others, especially ID proponents and fundamentalists) are manipulating the word ‘theory’ to squeeze *in* whatever you want to include. So who’s right? Well, I’m with the scientists, but I don’t think there needs to be a conflict. It’s already true that there is a discrepancy between the colloquial meaning of theory and the scientific jargon meaning. One reason is that, being colloquial, the former is used by whoever to mean whatever they want it to mean.

          5. Continued (got too long)

            but you CAN proove the impact of (the belief of)God on man
            True. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept God as true, only the fact that people believe. This is what I said – you’re not really distinguishing between believing in God and God really existing. Psychology, anthropology etc. *can* study the impact of the belief in God. They can’t even *begin* to study God himself, whether he exists, what influence he’s had etc.

            What was asked in the introduction of the ‘intelligent design’ wasn’t to study the story in the bible, but to note that some people (which is a joke, it’s MOST people) believe that the earth was created by an intelligent being
            I have no problem with that. Just don’t do it in *science* class. Do it in religious studies, or philosophy, or something. (Both things that, I think, should be taught at any school, by the way.)

            But this brings me back to the point that you’re not distinguishing between science and religion and philosophy. I view science from a utilitarian point of view – the framework of modern biology, which includes things like evolutionary biology, genetics, molecular biology, gives us the tools to analyse the processes of life in great detail, and to intervene and manipulate, and we’re constantly getting better. This causes advances in medicine – knowing the molecular processes inside the cell allows us to design better medicines for such things as cancer, AIDS, even ones against aging. Knowing genetics allows us to understand and, to some extent treat, hereditary diseases. It’s not obvious that these fields are related to evolution – but the findings and conclusions of genetics match those of evolution perfectly. Evolution theory does not tell us directly how to make a better cancer medicine, but it does provide inputs.

            Various creation myths, on the other hand. Oh, I don’t disagree that they’re interesting (and potentially useful) to study. But they’re not going to help us find a cure for cancer. The creation myths aren’t science, even if their study is. As such, I don’t disagree that it should be taught in school. Just not in science class.

            Do you see why I’m saying that creationism, in ANY form, is NOT a scientific theory?

            As for your statement that you’d learn different cultures’ creation myths depending on where you are – I don’t fundamentally disagree. Though, again, they should be taught in religion/philosophy classes. And while we’re at it, why not study *other* cultures’ creation myths, to widen our horizons? And at the same time, in SCIENCE class, we study the “myth” or “story” of creation that’s useful, that gets stuff done, that might help us cure cancer and such.

            As for your “75% christian” argument. First of all, be aware that your nation is not my nation. (I’m not even sure what *my* nation is, but it’s almost certainly on the other side of the atlantic.) Let’s take the UK. While over 50% (I don’t know exact numbers) are technically Christian, far fewer are truly practising, devout Christians. Many rarely think about it, or believe in God out of habit. Celebrating Christmas? Not much of an argument. Most celebrate it as a secular festival, that involves having lots of food, alcohol and family arguments to bring some light into the dark and gloomy winter. It’s based on (and named after) Christian traditions and influences, sure, but it also draws massively from various pagan traditions. Even those pagan traditions are, of course, religious in nature – but (I believe) the ultimate reason for celebrating the solstice (to put it in neutral-ish terms) is that people need some light and merriment in the middle of winter. And they just like finding a spiritual excuse for getting drunk 🙂

            Still too long, one more to come.

          6. Final part (sorry bout this)

            why we think it’s better to be ignorant of the impact of the divine on man and it’s impact on evolution or creation is BIZARRE to me – that’s all I mean
            As I’ve said several times by now, I’m not claiming (and neither is mainstream science, IMO) that it’s “better to be ignorant” of these things. It’s just that it’s not science. Studying people’s beliefs about such things may be part of science – anthropology or what have you. But the hypothesis “God made it happen” is not one that’s in any way accessible or useful to science. As such, anyone is free to believe that God/Eris/Allah did it, but to SCIENCE, that’s irrelevant.

            I hope my words got through to you and that you will be as open minded on it as you hope I will. And I do hope you won’t think I’m ignorant or unworthy of your debate.
            First of all, please don’t try to guilt-trip me. It sounds like you’re trying to subtly suggest that, being the atheist scientist, I’m likely to be dogmatic and closed-minded and consider you stupid. Anyway, I’m trying to be open-minded, but it’s fairly clear to me that our worldviews are incompatible enough that we’re probably not really getting through to each other. I’m trying to understand your thoughts, but I simply cannot agree with them, and I expect it’s the same way for you (not that I’m saying we shouldn’t continue this discussion – it’s still interesting). So no, I don’t think you’re ignorant. I did think so when you first said “creationism is a theory”, but it now turns out that you *know* the widely accepted scientific definition – you just don’t accept it. That’s your choice, but don’t expect to cure cancer or solve the energy crisis with that approach 🙂

          7. Re: OK, I have time now.

            Well thank you for at least debating with me and not calling me a complete moron 😀

            I think it’s interesting to note that once religion feared and oppressed science, and now I think science now fears and oppresses religion.

            I honestly think the two can coexist nicely – and I wish there was a nice nobel winning scientist that was advocating some sort of truce between the two sides.

            I have no problem believing in evolution and I have no problem believing in the big bang. It co-exists nicely with my view that God very rarely does things impractically.

          8. I agree (mostly)

            I do disagree with your statement that “science fears and oppresses religion” – would you like to elaborate on that?

            Apart from that, as I see it, science and religion *are* coexisting nicely. A lot of people – including probably most of those that are both scientists and religious, and there are lots of those – would subscribe to your last paragraph without reservations, and I think it represents the only sensible way to reconcile faith and science. (Not that I’m personally concerned, not having faith, but that’s besides the point here.) It’s also something completely different than creationism – maybe we’ve got a problem with definitions here? To clarify, when I say “creationism” I mean biblical-literalist creationism, i.e. believing the Genesis is true as written.

            So in a way, I must also take issue now with your wish for a “truce” between the two sides. A truce would be something like scientists “believing” in evolution, religious people believing in creationism, and the two groups agreeing not to beat each other up over their beliefs. There shouldn’t even have to be two sides – I’m not one of them, but there are LOTS of scientists that are religious, in other words, that belong to *both* sides! As I said, many of them will believe (as you appear to do) that God *created* the Earth and life on earth *using* evolution – in other words, both are true (but the Genesis – and any other religion’s creation myth – is not, at least not in a literal sense).

          9. Re: I agree (mostly)

            No, I’d not like to elaborate on it, I think I’ve rambled on about the subject enough. It’s not one of my ’causes’ generally, but if you want to talk about child actors, I can accomadate you there. Or… if you want to talk about ‘survival of the prettiest’ – I can get into that.

            I’m kinda done with this debate and will agree to disagree and even bow to your superiority in the argument.

            I used to be a glutton for punishment! But I have teenagers who punish me enough now! xD

          10. Heh.

            One more long post from you and I’d have bowed out and conceded – I’m not really good at these either.

            But anyway, I think in your previous post, for the most part we’re agreeing, so there’s no real need to “agree to disagree”.

            Survival of the prettiest sounds like you’d have some interesting opinions on that, but not for now, thanks 🙂

  16. You say: it’s hard to argue with somebody who has found happiness through adherence to a spiritual and moral code

    I know what you meant, but I do want to point out that many people don’t find it hard at all, IF that spiritual and moral code is not Christianity. I am sometimes amused and sometimes appalled by the number of people who are perfectly willing to tell me that not being a Christian means that I have no moral code — or worse, that I worship Satan — by definition.

    I am annoyed by people who insist that not being a Christian means I can’t REALLY be happy — that I only think I’m happy, but if I would just embrace the One True Way (and it seems to be a different flavor of One True Way every time), then I would find REAL happiness. This, to me, is nothing but a cop-out; it’s like changing the rules of a chess game to make your opponent’s legal move illegal in order to win. It’s CHEATING.

    I liked your essay overall, but that single point rather jumped out at me, since my experience is so much otherwise.

    1. Let me rephrase it, then. It’s hard to argue with somebody who has found happiness, regardless of how they’ve found it, unless you feel like the validity of your own happiness is somehow threatened by their experiences.

      Better?

    2. Faith should be a personal experience. It’s a relationship between you and God. Anyone who tells you their brand of Christianity is the TRUE PRODUCT ™ doesn’t understand the love of God. God doesn’t love everyone because they follow the rules, or because they have the right membership card.

      He loves every one of us as individuals. He loves us each infinitely, but with as many variations as there are and have been people. All that he asks is that you have faith in him, believe that Jesus died for your sins and because of that you can be forgiven, and that you keep your heart open for him to speak to you. He’ll show you how to live and how to love others.

      Everything else isn’t nearly as important.

      1. As Ix knows, I’m very much an agnostic.

        I received, and replied, to the following from a friend:

        > Finally, I have decided what I want to do when I grow up. I will be
        > going to school to learn the bible and taking classes from a school in
        > Texas over the next couple of years to prepare me as an evangelist. I
        > will be going around America, offering to preach at small churches that
        > can’t afford a full time minister. I hope to get started on this in the
        > next couple of years.

        None of us here are Christian, but it’s just awesome that you’ve found a
        true belief and a calling. Most people never achieve that, no matter
        the faith they try for.

        Good luck and may your God bless you.

        ~~~~

        That’s what it’s all about. His faith is not mine, but his faith has inspired him to do something he feels important, from which he will derive satisfaction in life, rather than just existing.

        Religious differences aside, I have a lot in common with Howard. I stay home with my family, and my work IS my play. I get paid to do exactly what I’ve always dreamed of doing in life, and the financial rollercoaster aside, it’s great. There is NOTHING I would rather have than what I do. For some it takes faith, for others pursuit and drive, for some a combination. But that is what it’s all about.

        My only problem with religion is when someone tries to push theirs on me. When they try to impugn science, or impersonate it, or both, I get outraged.

        If they won’t demand to teach Creation in my schools, I won’t demand to teach evolution in their churches.

      2. I’ve got to take issue with this.

        Your second paragraph seems to contradict your first, to me. As I interpret it, it describes a particular brand (or group of brands) of Christianity, with an implication that it’s the TRUE(tm) one. “All he asks is that you have faith…” and “Everything else isn’t as important” are statements that, just for starters, any Catholic would have to strongly disagree with.

        (FYI: Personally, I’m an atheist, but with a Catholic background, so in discussions about Christianity I often take a sort of Pope’s Advocate position, if you will 🙂

        Your first sentence is one I can’t disagree with: Faith should be a personal experience. That’s the important part.

        1. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

          First off – I’m not a Catholic Christian and don’t associate myself with any particular denomination.

          Second – I’ve got a fair amount of religous and historical study under my belt that amounts to more than being raised Catholic.

          aised Presbyterian in a house with an Evangelical Baptist, attended a Jesuit run Catholic high school while attending a Lutheran church in my free time, history undergrad specializing in late antiquity/early medieval (which means the spread of Christianity), hundreds of hours of personal study on comparative religion in addition to numerous hours of academic study —

          1) If the sacraments are important to being Christian and being saved, death bed conversions to Christianity (I’m referring to the sincere ones – don’t sidetrack the conversation) lack the same grace bestowed upon those who follow ‘the rules’.

          2) If following a certain set of rules was important, then all the people throughout history who only had brief contact with representatives of organized Christianity, or no contact with it at all, have lived true to their beliefs in vain because they weren’t worshipping in the right way. The implication is that the rites and rituals are more important than the faith. This is NOT so.

          3) To assume that God cannot guide his faithful by speaking to their hearts is to deny His power. If you accept God, have faith, then He will speak to you and change your heart. The Bible says so in numerous places that God speaks to the heart of man and changes it.

          By placing limits on God’s love for individuals and his power by implementing limits on how someone lives denies His ability to guide by speaking to the heart, by telling someone what the right rules for living are by providing an internal moral compass. In an ideal world, with ideal people, this would lead to living a perfect life and knowing all the “rules” we should live by. But it is precisely because people are flawed that His son had to come to Earth and die for us. The various churchs and denominations (Including the Catholic Church and the Pope), and the Bible provide a roadmap to happiness and to living a virtuous life, but they are not required to be Faithful and Saved.

          Only God is.

          1. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

            > 3) To assume that God cannot guide his faithful by speaking to their hearts
            > is to deny His power. If you accept God, have faith, then He will speak to
            > you and change your heart. The Bible says so in numerous places that God
            > speaks to the heart of man and changes it.

            Something I find helps me greatly in my life is the belief that whatever deity there may be, or whatever combination, if there is a deity they are speaking to me through my conscience.

            What worries me about this, however, is what about the Charles Mansons out there? The people who have no conscience?

          2. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

            Charles Manson revels in his depravity. He knows what he is doing is wrong and does it for that reason. If you’ve got the fortitude, read what he has to say. People have a conscience, they just choose to ignore it.

            Case after case after case of pedophiles, rapists, serial killers – they know what they are doing is wrong, they just do it anyway. When they say that the ‘devil made me do it’, or something like that, they implicitly acknowledge that it isn’t the voice of rightness and goodness.

            There are people out there who need professional help, medication, committment to a dedicated care facility, etc. But it’s not because they don’t know the difference between right and wrong, but because they can’t control themselves due to whatever factors to do what they know is right.

          3. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

            Well that sets me greatly at ease.

            But there are people who have no conscience. Paranoid schizophrenics, for instance, might be amoung your group of people who have a conscience but don’t listen. The more usual reason for paranoid schozophrenics not listening is that the voices that they hear (auditory halucinations) usually override their conscience. There are, so I’ve been told, people who have no sense of guilt. I perceive this to be very similar in concept to having no conscience. While a person with no guilt is still warned by their conscience that they are doing wrong, they don’t get the punishment for it, regardless of being caught in the act.

          4. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

            Ummm, this may be a Pandoras Box here… I think that everyone has a conscience. Not everyone listens to it. I further believe that a conscience is a societal implanting.

            Now comes Pandoras Box. I am a Christian, and I believe that the Spirit is there to update our human conscience, since it has gotten out of wack. Therefore, while you still have people who don’t listen to it it is there.

            Evidence of this is that psycopaths sociopaths and various other groups of issues exhibit other problems, and so i think that this is evidence of a conscience. I think that the Spirit simply enhances it.

            so im done rambling now

          5. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

            Checking the dates next time will be helpful… You’ve replied to two of my posts, and I’m the only one who’s likely to see the replies. Most of this thread was wrapped up two years ago.

            Onto your post:

            There’s physical evidence, including MRI and CAT scans, to show that the area that lights up like a Christmas tree in people who are feeling guilt is always darker in psychopaths. Worse still, it never lights up to any significant level. No guilt, next to no conscience. This doesn’t mean that morals are removed, though. Just that there’s not much self-punishment for breaking them.

          6. Re: I’ve got to take issue with this.

            > 3) To assume that God cannot guide his faithful by speaking to their hearts
            > is to deny His power. If you accept God, have faith, then He will speak to
            > you and change your heart. The Bible says so in numerous places that God
            > speaks to the heart of man and changes it.

            Something I find helps me greatly in my life is the belief that whatever deity there may be, or whatever combination, if there is a deity they are speaking to me through my conscience.

            What worries me about this, however, is what about the Charles Mansons out there? The people who have no conscience?

  17. Evolution could *be* ID…

    Why can’t the ‘days’ of Genesis actually be more like ‘Ages’?

    Day/Age 1, Big Bang to Molten Earth – carefully blow up a mono-block to produce Stars and attendant planets. Let the universe settle out a bit, and pick a world to develop.

    Day/Age 2, Molten Earth to Barren Earth – spend a while messing with the chemistry of chosen world. Ideally, separate out the elements a bit, some gasses need to be in the atmosphere, some in the rocks. Doesn’t matter if the sky is clouded, it will be cleaned up later.

    Day/Age 3, Barren Earth to Veg Earth – bit more elemental chemistry. Complex life chemicals need producing, water need making in bulk, and hosing down of Barren earth. Fiddle with the primordial sludge to create the first single cell plants, kick-start evolution and sit back and watch.

    Day/Age 4, Veg Earth to Clear Skies – As the plants grow to cover the earth, they should start to clear up the sky, so spend some time making sure the other stars have settled alright, and provide for a moon.

    Day/Age 5, Clear Skies to Living Ocean – If evolution has been set up properly, just relax today. The seas should be full of animals of all kinds by the end of the day.

    Day/Age 6, Living Ocean to Living Earth – Allow evolution to carry on. If the sums were done right at the start all the ecological niches should be filled with abundant variety of plants and animals by the end of the day.

    Day/Age 7, Living Earth to Humans – They should achieve sentience late today, and have turned out in your image. If it has not worked exactly as you have planned, arrange a large meteor strike to reset the world to the Living Ocean stage.

    There we go. My personal theory.
    Genesis is true, but not literal. God made us with evolution, and it took 7 distinct ages. Hell, according to Genesis, the Lord didn’t even make night and day until the 4th Day, so how long exactly where the first three?

    The creation story in Genesis is just that, a simple story to get enough information out to the talking monkeys so they can get on with the important bits, like the Commandments.
    Enough of the rest of the bible is parable and simile.

    1. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

      That started out as an attempt at this;
      “If this simple dichotomy can be honestly and openly explained to our children, they can embrace the apparent paradox, and get on with the important things in life”

      Turned into a bit of a rant, for which, my apologies.

    2. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

      this is similar to my belief,
      only that I would never call it ID.

      I think the “days” in Genesis are only called “days” because a day is a timeframe the human mind can easily understand.
      I don’t think they were strict 24-hour days, but rather different periods or ages.

      may I copy your text? you said it better than I could.

      1. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

        You can copy it freely, but I have some terms:

        1) don’t change my words. You can bracket them in your own, but don’t change mine.

        2) Provide attribution. “Howard Tayler says” will work for snippets. If you’re copying most of the essay, you can link back to this page.

        3) if you want to print it for handouts, email me and I’ll send you copyright text with appropriate permissions.

        –Howard

      2. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

        “may I copy your text?”

        On the off-chance you were talking about my bit, yeah, with no terms. Except maybe a link to here.

        😀

      3. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

        Well, the work “day” in any of the modern English versions of the Bible are thought to have come from the Hebrew word “yom” (unsure of accents, etc). “Yom” is a utilitarian little word. A yom is a work period. Thus “how was your yom honey?” could be “how was work”, “how was the whole day” or “how was your week?”

        I personally take it to mean “God worked for a while until this bit was done. Then he looked at it and saw it was good. Then he buggered off for some beer and a nap. This could have taken a long time to do, and we have no idea. We weren’t there you see.”

      4. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

        Well, the work “day” in any of the modern English versions of the Bible are thought to have come from the Hebrew word “yom” (unsure of accents, etc). “Yom” is a utilitarian little word. A yom is a work period. Thus “how was your yom honey?” could be “how was work”, “how was the whole day” or “how was your week?”

        I personally take it to mean “God worked for a while until this bit was done. Then he looked at it and saw it was good. Then he buggered off for some beer and a nap. This could have taken a long time to do, and we have no idea. We weren’t there you see.”

    3. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

      Hi everyone.

      Honesty time, here. I think Genesis chapter 1 is a translation of an account that Moses wrote after seeing our world develop. I think chapter 2 and onward are based on records he got from his father-in-law, and I place somewhat less trust in the literality of everything up to Noah.

      (But, yes, I do think Adam and Eve were real people.)

      But, Genesis 1.

      Verse 1 covers the creation of the Universe.

      Verse 2 describes the original conditions of the matter that would become Earth. The first sentance – without form and void – are a nice description of the vacuum that Moses would experience in a close-up view. The second sentence seems to be refering to a farther view – far enough away that the nebula can be seen for _something_. Remember that Moses would not have a term for Gas. And if the Lord is fiddling with the gas somehow, Moses could easily see movement.

      Verses 3 and 4 I consider to be synonymous. God creates light – which is good (fusion reactions are stablizing nicely?), thus dividing light from dark. If Moses is allowed to ask questions (“Where did the light come from?” “IT WAS ALWAYS THERE, WITHIN THE MATTER ITSELF, WAITING TO BE RELEASED, MY SON.” “Oh, so you split up the light and dark.” “UM, YES, SORT OF.”) then this makes even more sense.

      And then the naming, and the end of Phase 1.

      And so on. The Waters Above become the other planets. Sun, Moon, and Stars aren’t revealed until the 4th day because that’s when the CO2 is broken up by greenery, and it’s not until then that animals start showing up.

      Really, it’s incredibly scientific, for a Creation Myth. No “I plucked out one eye to make the sun, and another to make the moon.” or “We lived in caves until a talking dog led us out into a light-less world, and then arranged for the Sun, Moon, and Stars to form.” to reference two that I stumbled across when I was younger. Also, no “The Great Mother gave birth to everything” crap, either. Rather, it’s more “I pulled the materials together, made it all work right, and created life with a proper genetic code.”

      -Albert

      1. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

        > (But, yes, I do think Adam and Eve were real people.)

        Quick question on this point: do you believe that they were the first humans, or something else?

        (For instance, the first Jews.)

        1. Re: Evolution could *be* ID…

          Okay real quick, cause this bothers me

          There was not really nothing, not if you think about it.

          There was nothing to be absent and so create nothing

          So no, i dont think there was a vacuum.

          Finally, we don’t even know if it took time or not for the first three. If we accept the premise that YHWH is omnipotent then we have to accept that we cannot, in this life, understand everything The Lord does.

  18. Good day.

    I came here from metaquotes.

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m do what I can to reconcile both as well.

    To that end, I like how you talked about it. It’s respectful yet gets the point across. I hope you would allow me to save this in my memories.

  19. Howard,

    You are, to put it bluntly, awesome–just for this piece of writing alone.

    I am not a religious person. But I am faithful to… well, to science. Most would call me a weak agnostic–I don’t believe in a Creator, but if there were hard evidence I’d have no problem with it, and if you have experiential evidence that you personally believe, hey, good on you if it makes you happy. But despite not believing in a Creator per se, I do believe that the Forces of the universe are constant. (Not “The Force”–that’s something entirely different). The Forces are, for me, absolute–and, while they don’t project a moral code, I like to believe that good-hearted people mostly follow the only moral code that seems to exist in all religions everywhere: “Act toward others as you would have them act toward you.”

    All that said, your post is awesome. I am always thoroughly impressed when a very religious person comes out and says that ID is ridiculous, but I’m even more impressed by your saying that not only is it bad science, it’s bad religion, and it’s hurting those who are truly faithful and not trying to shove “proof of God” down people’s throats.

    Though I am not one of the faithful, I’m always amazed that people have so little faith in their own beliefs that they can’t reconcile the mysteries of their faith with the mysteries of how the universe and, subsequently, life, came into being. Many Christians believe in a Trinity which even ministers and priests seem to have trouble describing, yet their faith allows them to believe it. But they can’t believe that if God’s works are mysterious there, that they might just have been mysterious at the beginning of the universe, or that perhaps evolution is simply part of the Plan.

    In short, though I’m not a religious person, I’m glad to see a religious person willing to stand up and proclaim his faith in a way that doesn’t deny science, doesn’t force it down people’s throats, and essentially allows for all to be happy. This’ll be the high point of my day; thank you for it.

  20. Disagreement, agreement, and a link

    In no particular order:

    First off – the website https://www.au.org has a link to the full text of the judge’s ruling on this. Worth a skim, even at ~130 pages of PDF goodness.

    Second – religion to me is a bad word. Religion is a system designed to concentrate power. Faith isn’t a bad word, nor is belief, but when they get tied to an organization of humans, they get coopted into the creation of ‘us and them’ power struggles.

    Finally – I’m very glad that this court has given ID the punt. I agree evolution has holes, but I would argue that you need something solid to perceive holes in. ID doesn’t have anything BUT holes – oh, and lies, and misstatements, and…

    -John B

  21. evolution v. Evolution

    I’ve personally associated “weak evolution” and “strong evolution” for roughly those concepts. (My usage was “weak evolution” := “natural selection, mutation, and migration occurs and can produce observable differences.”; “strong evolution” := “natural selection, mutation, and migration were sufficient to produce all the biodiversity of the planet”.)

    Have those phrases been used elsewhere?

  22. I’m here from .

    The January high school debate topic is about ID, actually. Your post and the comments on it have helped me a lot, thanks! The current ID research I have paints it out to be religion vs science topic; it’s nice to see that there’s a good majority of religious people who think ID is a bad theory.

    1. Ah, ID. It can’t decide how it wants the debate to be. On the on hand, some ID supporters claim that ID is not based in religion and the debate is entirely over science. On the other hand, some people contest evolution on purely religious grounds, and they say the debate is religion vs. religion. Fact is, ID is a shell game. Creationists see evolution as a threat to their religion. Having failed to persuade the courts to see it that way, they are trying to persuade people that evolution is bad science, and being very dishonest in doing so.

  23. I really hope you don’t mind- now that I’ve found this- I’m friending you (I love your open letters over on Schlock…) and linking this on my own journal (Providing I can figure it out… :))

    Your comments are well thought out and intelligent- and I appreciate that. Don’t always agree- but that’s what makes the world go ’round,- I think…

    1. Actually it’s probably gravity that makes the world go round. As the primordial cloud collapsed, you have conservation of energy, and all that kinetic energy ended up as heat, or as motion.

      But if gravity makes the world go round, different opinions help make the circular ride a little more interesting. 🙂

  24. it is not commonally stated in todays world that fact and scientific fact are different. fact means it is proven scientific fact means there is not evidence to prove it wrong but also no evidence to prove it right.

    as i have seen for a wile now most people dont want to understand morality who arnt activly religious. ive disscussed morality with many professors of psycology and discovered they believe it is better for most if they conside what brings hapiness right away than what brings happiness and allows it to stay. science and religion should work together. through the yrs when science and religion dont you can visibly see the decline of progression in the world.

    a good friend of mine who is currently of no religion but believes in god said to me. “though i am an ordained minister and have been excomunicated by the council of churches. i do know god exists. there is no fact any of us can create or find that can prove otherwise. though i do not know who he is that does not matter” he declines to join any church today being that he does not feel it right to join any. though his beliefs are very much simular to the the LDS church which i am part of.

    as it has been written in the last days good wil aprear as evil and evil will appear as good. this is slowly happening because of foolish thereoies that try there best to prove the non existance of god. lucifer works hard now and it is noticable even more today than in any day that came before us.

    in conclusion your flying car is built the man who built them is being fought by certain oil companies and other companies to keep his cars off the market. he has a show once a few yrs ago with at least 25 different models. one being the same as the jetsons car:D i do know i have seen many of scientiic idea created and vanish wich would help us in having our personal jetpac^^

    1. A fine summation.

      That said, fact and scientific fact are still both fact. They have been observed and proven. If there is any difference between the two, it would be that fact is self-evident whilst scientific fact has been proven through rigour and causal demonstration.

      Hypotheses are unproven (read: insufficient facts to back it up as a working model) scientific theories that have not yet been disproven. Nothing gets the label of ‘fact’ unless it can be solidly proved (or you happen to be a politician, but I digress).

      No slight to your post, Master Lupus, merely a note for others like myself who arrive 2 years in the future and look back on this.

      Though honestly, I’m inclined to believe the End Days might be a while off yet. I somehow doubt God will be finished with the universe for a while, no matter what people believe about His existence or non-existence.

  25. Nicely said

    I have to say, it’s writings like this that make me proud that I can point to Howard Tayler and say, “That guy is Mormon too.” Sharing my faith with people as articulate and well-reasoned as this gives me warm fuzzies.

  26. When “the other side” cheats, nobody ever really minds–they’re Them, we expect bad behavior. But when one’s own side does things unethically, it hurts a lot. “We” is supposed to be the good guys!

    This goes for politics, religion, war… whatever.

  27. Genesis 1 & 2 and Evolution

    I am coming to this a day late, so am assuming this is on the order of a “me,too,” but I have always been of the belief that Evolution and the creation accounts in Genesis are complimentary — one explains “how” and the other — very definitely — says “Who.”

    There is a whole lot of leeway for process in “and God said ‘Let there be…’ and it was.”

    The more science uncovers, the more awesome (in the truest sense) Creation becomes…

  28. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
    Arthur C. Clarke

    Not that I believe that this is the case, but theoretically, God could simply be a very, very advanced being who used technology to create the whole universe in 6 days. To us, it would seem like magic.

  29. I don’t know you at all, just got here through a friend of a friend’s list…I found your post fascinating.

    In my opinion, one of the main reasons for not using the Old Testament, in particular the early parts, as a basis for scientific conclusion is that within its own context it actively contradicts itself, from the creation of Adam to the fall of the Nephilim…evidence, I would conclude, of various mortal writers rather than one infallible one, of human myth in the shaping rather than divine science explained.

    But I think you are right about faith, science, and what they can bring to one’s quality of life. The point surely is to be happy and allow others to be.

    Thanks again for posting such a lucid and interesting view.

  30. Well, you’ve now managed to create a storm of comments in no less than three places: here, the Nighstar forum, and Websnark’s post quoting you. And I haven’t even looked at the Blank Label forum. You, Mr. Tayler, are an internet celebrity.

  31. There isn’t much I can add to this, or say, that hasn’t been said. But I’ll add it.

    I don’t accept evolution as the way we came about… yet. I don’t believe there is enough factual proof for it. I do believe in evolution, but I don’t accept it completely as the way we came to be.

    That being said.

    I do believe it’s highly likely it could be the way we came about. We gots lots of arguments for it. And if tomorrow, we found undeniable proof that it WAS the way we were created, came to be on this planet, that all life sprung from it. I wouldn’t be bothered. I’d nod and accept it.

    It wouldn’t change my religious beliefs in the slightest. I would still believe in, and serve the Christian and Jewish God, and the messiah they claimed walked the earth.

    Sometimes its not the details or the truth in a story that make the story valuable, it’s what you get from it, its the lesson the story brings. I can believe both in the myth of my religion, and accept that it did happen, while awknowledging the scientific process that actually took place. It is difficult to explain any better than that.

    ~

    1. A second thought (echoes from email)

      I read your post on Evolution. I responded. But basically, science doesn’t affect my faith. I don’t think even if they could disprove the existance of God and proved the entire story of Christ and so forth as complete bunk, it would affect my faith. The stories, the belief that such a man and God exists, have done more for me by improving me and making me rise to a higher standard, and understand the joy and importance of service to others, then any fact could. Facts are cold, hard, and they are. You can’t change them. But you can change your heart, you can change your perspective, and you can change your life. It is the story and the belief that these men existed that inspired and motivated me to make those changes. So by doing so, the truth in them is evidenced in the actions and choices I make in my life. See Big Fish, an excellent movie. The power of a story has nothing to do with the truth, it has to do with what people take from the story. You, as a fellow storyteller, probably already understand this.

      That’s not to say I don’t believe my God and Christ existed, it’s just to say, that their existance, or lack of, won’t change how the belief in them has affected me, nor change that belief as long as it continues being a source of motivation, inspiration, and postive change in my life.

      ~

  32. Strangely still feel compelled to throw in my fifty-cent’s worth…

    First of all, the best phrase in the article:
    “The answers may be in The Book, but we’re expected to show our work.”

    Second of all, my opinion on what is wrong with the article:
    It assumes that the only way to evaluate a belief system is by how it makes a person feel.

    or

    It might perhaps be true that one religion is true and all others are false or less true. And for those religions that fall under this category, people can prosletize without being insecure. (Which doesn’t keep them from prosletizing out of insecurity, too.)

    Still and all, good article.

  33. Evolution- Biology- Rate of Change

    There are moments throughout time where evolution pushes forward and different species are capable of evolving at a faster rate than usual. However, this accelerated rate of change takes anywhere from 10,000 years to a million years to occur. With the acceleration of technology in the past 50 years it may become impossible for human evolution to keep up with the pace of technology. What do we do when evolution can’t keep up with the rate of change in technology that humans are now forced to confront?

    1. Re: Evolution- Biology- Rate of Change

      What do we do when evolution can’t keep up with the rate of change in technology that humans are now forced to confront?

      Interesting concept, could you give an example of this?

  34. An example.. Humor

    This is probably a horrible example, but it’s what comes to mind and hopefully it’ll be funny.

    In the movie Jurassic Park, the scientist’s took knowledge they used for granted, and spliced dinosaur DNA. Those scientist’s didn’t earn the knowledge of bioengineering of genetic scientists before hand, they took something and didn’t even realize what they had before they used it. And then everyone was eaten by dinosaurs.

    And I suppose that’s the glory of science, to take all the research and confirmation learned by other scientists, to use that knowledge and conduct research that pushes science to the edge.

    I’m saying that when scientist’s try to make breakthrough’s in research(fringe Science), that’s when our evolution won’t be able to keep up with technology. Which will lead to self destruction.

    One mistake and ……. suddenly we got a problem that we don’t know how to fix, like say Global Warming. All we can do is try to not make it worse.

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