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A couple of questions to any scientific creationist or ID advocate out there.

Why do you think the universe is so immense and ancient?

If it were some day conclusively demonstrated that life was created and evolved solely via natural processes, would that seriously challenge your faith in God?
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"If it were some day conclusively demonstrated that life was created and evolved solely via natural processes, would that seriously challenge your faith in God?"

Main Entry: 1cre·ate
Pronunciation: krE-'At, 'krE-"
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): cre·at·ed; cre·at·ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin creatus, past participle of creare; akin to Latin crescere to grow -- more at CRESCENT
transitive senses
1 : to bring into existence


You might want to refrase your question. To create, automatically assumes a creator.
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Just to be fair, here is a question or two to any materialist neo-Darwinian out there.

Aside from Divine revelation or miracle, is there any empirical finding that would convince you of intelligent design for either the universe or life?

When you are tanning in Hell, will you be willing to email bdhinton that he was right?
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Just to be fair, here is a question or two to any materialist neo-Darwinian out there.

Aside from Divine revelation or miracle, is there any empirical finding that would convince you of intelligent design for either the universe or life?

When you are tanning in Hell, will you be willing to email bdhinton that he was right?


1. Yes.
2. Stupid question. (No offense.)
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Just to be fair, here is a question or two to any materialist neo-Darwinian out there.

Thanks for the inclusion. :o)

Aside from Divine revelation or miracle, is there any empirical finding that would convince you of intelligent design for either the universe or life?

Aside from divine revelation, one need consider the current trend of such a being. There is no question about the fact that, if there is a supreme being, he hides on purpose. If he is all I've been told he is, then he would be very good at whatever he decided to do. If he wants to hide, then he will hide well forever.

When you are tanning in Hell, will you be willing to email bdhinton that he was right?

About what? The existence of a hell? Just because there might be a hell doesn't mean that intelligence was used to create the universe.

k
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Aside from Divine revelation or miracle, is there any empirical finding that would convince you of intelligent design for either the universe or life?

Why the "aside from miracle ? Frequent occurance of miracles, visible to ALL people on earth (including James Randi) , would be just the thing that would convince me (and probably others as well) of the existence of a supernatural power.

T.

Example of miracle : politician's nose growing 2 cm and roaring laughter rolling out of the sky each time said politician tells a lie.
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Why do you think the universe is so immense and ancient?

It's been expanding for 13 billion years or so.


If it were some day conclusively demonstrated that life was created and evolved solely via natural processes, would that seriously challenge your faith in God?


It would mean I'm seriously wrong about the way God did things, but that's about it.

Bryan
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Why the "aside from miracle ? Frequent occurance of miracles, visible to ALL people on earth (including James Randi) , would be just the thing that would convince me (and probably others as well) of the existence of a supernatural power.

It was a poorly worded question. I left out miracles because that would be the obvious answer. It is more a case of what, if any, empirical finding about the physical universe would lead you to the notion of an intelligent designer.

For Behe it was apparently flagella. For Dembski the information content of DNA. For Flew and Tipler it was the anthropic universe. For others it may be evidence of direction in evolution. Perhaps it would be the failure to derive a materialist explanation for consciousness or self-awareness.

Is there anything short of a direct experience with the supernatural that would lead you to intelligent design?
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When you are tanning in Hell, will you be willing to email bdhinton that he was right?


If I'm still junk mail after I die, it won't be heaven, that's for darn sure.
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If I'm still junk mail after I die


No wisecracks about the quality of my postings . . . I meant of course "getting junk mail"

(not that I'm OCD like the rest of you)

:-Þ
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It's been expanding for 13 billion years or so.

But aren't you curious why it was designed that way? If an intelligent God created the universe then there should be a reason why the universe is the way it is. To those who advocate the theistic anthropic universe model, that the universe was designed to be able to produce intelligent life, the reason is obvious. It is only by having a universe so large and old that the highly improbable events required to create life and evolve intelligence become probable.

To someone who advocates special creation, the issue is less clear. If one believes God routinely suspends the laws of nature to make improbable biological structures then there doesn't seem to be any need for so much time or space. Afterall, from what your young earth compadres say it seems that if God worked efficiently only a few thousand years and a star cluster or two would suffice. So why are there billions of years and star clusters? Obviously you can simply say "God works in mysterious ways" and that would be the end of it. But I was wondering if the scientific creationists had come up with other rationalizations.
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Heck, I'll answer my own question.

Suppose it turns out that the multi-verse model of reality is shown to be correct, that there are a near infinite number universes with different characteristics popping in an out of existence all the time. Then I would think it highly probable that there will be at least one universe where an intelligence would evolve to the point where it can control the whole process.

And at that point, It may decide that creating a universe to produce an intelligence in It's own image may not be a bad idea.
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But I was wondering if the scientific creationists had come up with other rationalizations.

You might be taken more seriously if you didn't indicate right from the start that you think any answer you'd get is nonsense.
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You might be taken more seriously if you didn't indicate right from the start that you think any answer you'd get is nonsense.

Oops. My sincere apologies as I wasn't intending to be derogatory.

Creationists believe God created the universe, so for them the reason the universe is the way it is is because God willed it. That is a faith-based reason. I'm asking whether creationist have also come up with a "rational" reason, one not based on faith. That is what I mean by "rationalization".

If my explanation is still derogatory, I apologize again and withdraw the question.
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B: You might be taken more seriously if you didn't indicate right from the start that you think any answer you'd get is nonsense.

C: Oops. My sincere apologies as I wasn't intending to be derogatory.


No, it wasn't that, Bryan was just calling the kettle black.

- Joe
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Oops. My sincere apologies as I wasn't intending to be derogatory.


You said nothing wrong . . . I just took it the wrong way.

Creationists believe God created the universe, so for them the reason the universe is the way it is is because God willed it. That is a faith-based reason. I'm asking whether creationist have also come up with a "rational" reason, one not based on faith.

I've heard Hugh Ross, old-earth creationist, give some possible reasons why God did things the way he did, but none ultimately can be considered THE reason, since God did not reveal it.

But getting back to your question, which I find interesting:

But aren't you curious why it was designed that way? If an intelligent God created the universe then there should be a reason why the universe is the way it is. To those who advocate the theistic anthropic universe model, that the universe was designed to be able to produce intelligent life, the reason is obvious. It is only by having a universe so large and old that the highly improbable events required to create life and evolve intelligence become probable.

Let me ask a few clarification questions. I don't know how to phrase such questions in a way that doesn't seem antagonistic, but here goes:

Did God then, knowing that he wasn't omnipotent enough to create everything in an instant, and wouldn't be around to tinker, but was just powerful enough to create the laws of physics and the raw material of the universe, knew ahead of time that he'd need to create a system that would expand long enough so that he'd have a running chance of seeing sentient creatures evolve by natural processes, in time before the universe expired?

Actually, I need more info on your "anthropic universe model" (if that is what you hold). What exactly did God do in relation to the universe we live in? Does God interact with his creation, and in what ways?

You seem to think that God wouldn't do things like tinker with the universe after the Big Bang . . . how do you know this?

To someone who advocates special creation, the issue is less clear. If one believes God routinely suspends the laws of nature to make improbable biological structures then there doesn't seem to be any need for so much time or space. Afterall, from what your young earth compadres say it seems that if God worked efficiently only a few thousand years and a star cluster or two would suffice. So why are there billions of years and star clusters? Obviously you can simply say "God works in mysterious ways" and that would be the end of it. But I was wondering if the scientific creationists had come up with other rationalizations.

I would not characterize God's activity in biology as "suspending the laws of nature". Why would he have to suspend anything in order to interact with it?

Why would God take time to create? The best partial guess that I've heard is that by doing so, he leaves behind evidences of his activity. And he leaves a chronology that can be discovered by humans, which can be seen to fit with what he's revealed in Genesis, confirming it's essential supernatural origin.

Bryan

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centromere : Why do you think the universe is so immense and ancient?

bdhinton : It's been expanding for 13 billion years or so.

Here is something I don't understand. It's clear that creationists and ID'ers find the scientific data for evolution unconvincing. Fossil record shows gaps, no one ever "saw" a species change into another, "historical" sciences are limited in what they can discover etc... etc... So how come they believe that a quark plasma could form a universe like ours in 13 billion years, based on some indirect data like red shift of radiation spectra or a microwave background ? Did anyone ever see the creation of a universe ? Nope. Are there "gaps" in our theories and data on the early universe ? Sure. Has anyone ever been able to go to a distant star, look at a black hole or witness cosmic events directly ? Nope. Can anyone detail, at subatomic level, the complete life-cycle of a celestial body ? Nope. Seems odd that someone applying ID or creationist's criteria of science could be willing to accept the mainstream cosmological theories any more than the theories of biological evolution.

T.
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No, it wasn't that, Bryan was just calling the kettle black.


The pot supposedly shouldn't complain about the sins of the kettle, since that would be hypocritical. And they both have done wrong.

But actually I think Joe meant this to be a compliment to you, centromere. It means he agrees with your position, and doesn't like mine. He just has a funny way of expressing it.

Bryan
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So how come they believe that a quark plasma could form a universe like ours in 13 billion years, based on some indirect data like red shift of radiation spectra or a microwave background ?

It's the math dude. When your evolutionary equations for the flagellum are as accurate at predicting biological change as our ability to mathematically model the universe and make predictions based on them, then you can compare the two.

B
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It's the math dude. When your evolutionary equations for the flagellum are as accurate at predicting biological change as our ability to mathematically model the universe and make predictions based on them, then you can compare the two.

Call me a cynic dude, but somehow I think that the Behe's et al. of this world would snuff at a mathematical model of evolution that is similar to the mish-mash of theories of cosmology, where gravity and quantum mechanics clash, where there is a Grand Unified Theory with numerous gaps (like where's the Higg's boson?) existing alongside numerous variants of string and superstringtheory, M-theory and so on, which may be mathematically interesting but at this moment thoroughly untestable.
Are you saying that the existence of a superstring rest on more solid, proven ground than the "possible pathways" that biology scientists proposed for the evolution of the flagellum ?

Don't get me wrong, I 'm happy with this dynamic and exciting panoply of ideas and theories of cosmology. GUT has predicted lots of things that have been corroborated by experiment afterwards (the quark families, the unification of forces etc...). I'm pretty positive that the predicted Higgs boson will be found when the new accelerators are operating at cruise speed. But evolution theory also has predicted many things, like the existence of hereditary information at cell-level which is passed on to offspring, the sequence of fossils and its match with the spatial variation of DNA, the region where early humans originated etc... and ID'ers set the bar definitely at a much higher level for evolution than cosmology when they insist on a gapless fossil record or an accurate and experimentally proven pathway at the microbiology level for the flagellum.


T.

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But aren't you curious why it was designed that way? If an intelligent God created the universe then there should be a reason why the universe is the way it is. To those who advocate the theistic anthropic universe model, that the universe was designed to be able to produce intelligent life, the reason is obvious. It is only by having a universe so large and old that the highly improbable events required to create life and evolve intelligence become probable.

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

Let me ask a few clarification questions. I don't know how to phrase such questions in a way that doesn't seem antagonistic, but here goes:

Did God then, knowing that he wasn't omnipotent enough to create everything in an instant, and wouldn't be around to tinker, but was just powerful enough to create the laws of physics and the raw material of the universe, knew ahead of time that he'd need to create a system that would expand long enough so that he'd have a running chance of seeing sentient creatures evolve by natural processes, in time before the universe expired?


Something I've said before on the boards....

Consider ants.

Ants do stuff like build underground chambers for different things. They work together to gather food, protect their domain, repair damaged structures, and reproduce more ants. Some of them search for food and ring the dinner bell when they find it- leaving a trail to the source for others to follow.

If some human passer-by unwittingly steps on their world, they scurry about in a fury of activity to rebuild and to perhaps fight off some enemy. There is no way they could possibly understand that the human that stepped on their world didn't even know he did it. Nor could they understand human children's intentions when a firecracker suddenly goes off in their world- or the intense heat given off by a magnifying glass in these human children's hands.

Now, imagine a human has set up an ant farm in their den.

This human is very interested in them. He watches as they struggle daily in their chores. He likes them and makes sure they always have water and food enough to do well. The ants recognize that there is something there that pours drops of water and chunks of sugar into their world every now and then, but aren't smart enough to understand what that something might be.

Now, taking into consideration all of the things that this human thinks about and does during the course of his life, an ant couldn't POSSIBLY have ANY CLUE about the human. Not one single hint. Even if the human could speak ant, there just isn't enough brain power there to interpret what the human mind wants to convey. The ants may feebly understand "friend" as opposed to "foe". They may even get that the human has absolute power over the ants. But they will never, ever, be able to understand much of anything about the human.

If there is such a thing as a creator God, then the difference between human intellect and the creator God would be infinitely many times over and above the difference between an ant and a human -after all- we are both animals and humans didn't create ants. :o)

Now to the point I want to make...

The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing.

You know what's crazy?

Anyone who thinks they do know. :o)

k


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Call me a cynic dude, but somehow I think that the Behe's et al. of this world would snuff at a mathematical model of evolution that is similar to the mish-mash of theories of cosmology,

Whoa, stop right there. I'm not talking about the mish-mash of cosmologies competing for attention, I'm talking about our understanding of the physics of the universe that allow us to put a lander on Mars a bazillion miles away, or send an orbiter to Pluto.

I'm talking about General Relativity, which has been proven accurate by repeated TESTING.

I don't think your tests for evolution come anywhere close to the kinds of tests GR has passed.

Bryan
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The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing.

You know what's crazy?

Anyone who thinks they do know. :o)


Preach it brother khalou !
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Did God then, knowing that he wasn't omnipotent enough to create everything in an instant, and wouldn't be around to tinker, but was just powerful enough to create the laws of physics and the raw material of the universe, knew ahead of time that he'd need to create a system that would expand long enough so that he'd have a running chance of seeing sentient creatures evolve by natural processes, in time before the universe expired?

I make no comment about the nature of God, but I don't see why you seem to think that having to make such things as flagella is evidence of omnipotence. Suppose you have two engineers (A and B). Each builds a robot. Robot-A is completely self-contained. It can repair and maintain itself. Engineer-A never has to tinker with Robot-A. In contrast, Robot-B requires periodic maintenance and tinkering from engineer-B.

Who is the better engineer?

Actually, I need more info on your "anthropic universe model" (if that is what you hold).

I am agnostic on most of these issues.

What exactly did God do in relation to the universe we live in? Does God interact with his creation, and in what ways?

Beats me, I try not to fit God into some preconceived package. I just go where the data leads. Science has done a pretty good job explaining natural phenomena without recourse to magic, so I suspect that if God exists he is not acting like a magician, creating flagella here and DNA there. Quantum mechanics suggests that the universe is largely indeterminate and that there is a limit to what we can know, so there seems to be a method for divine interaction without physical footprints. Use your own experience. As a Christian I'm sure you believe you've experienced interactions with God. Any physical footprints?

You seem to think that God wouldn't do things like tinker with the universe after the Big Bang . . . how do you know this?

I'm not sure why you think that. I just don't assume the tinkering occurs. The fact is that the universe seems to have all the properties required to occasionally produce the right kind of star with a planet of the right size and with the right elements and with molecules that have just enough self-organizing properties to eventually produce this TMF discussion board without recourse to magic. So why assume the need for magic?

Why would he have to suspend anything in order to interact with it?

Well that's your argument isn't it? Irreducible complexity means that it is impossible to go from A to B by natural processes, therefore requiring intelligent design. I think you're the one who needs to justify why God would have to suspend the laws of nature to interact with nature.

And he leaves a chronology that can be discovered by humans, which can be seen to fit with what he's revealed in Genesis, confirming it's essential supernatural origin.

And here I thought it was all about faith...
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Expanding on my last post..

The footprint of the human that unwittingly stepped on the world of the ants has a pattern that ants just can't make out. They also can't possibly understand that that pattern was come up with by a shoe designer working for Nike, and that it was made in a factory in China, and assembled in a plant in North Carolina. The ants weren't the focus of any of these people, let alone the transgressing human that stepped on their world.

There is no comparison to this scenario and the relationship that Christians experience with their God except that, and I can't stress this point enough, the difference between a human mind and the mind of a God would be infinitely more than the difference between an ant's and a human's.

People read the Bible and come up with the answer to every question, confident that they know the mind of their God. They completely miss the point that the Bible shows Jesus telling everyone that they will never measure up, and have no idea how to live righteously. "You must have the faith of a child"- and what do children know?

It just seems to me that the less you profess to "know", the better off you might be if there really is a creator God.

Ant #1: "Hmm. There are rings in the pattern of the offender. Rings are to be seen as a sacred symbol. God wants us to use more rings. Let's make rings out of our dung and wear them."

Ant #khalou: "How can you possibly know something like that?"

k
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The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing.

The difference between ants and humans is that the latter keeps trying to understand. That's why Eve bit the apple afterall.

And frankly, in the wake of 9/11, asking "why?" even when it comes to God is not such a crazy thing.
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The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing.

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

The difference between ants and humans is that the latter keeps trying to understand. That's why Eve bit the apple afterall.


Ants don't try to understand things? I beg to differ.

And frankly, in the wake of 9/11, asking "why?" even when it comes to God is not such a crazy thing.

How so?

k


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Ant #khalou: "How can you possibly know something like that?"


as per usual .... Ant#k strikes us as overly polite


(>: b

..... didn't know Nike has plants in N.Carolina
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as per usual .... Ant#k strikes us as overly polite

The hub, m'man. It isn't popular, but it's defendable. :o)


..... didn't know Nike has plants in N.Carolina

How can we know the doings of Nike?

k
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The fact is that the universe seems to have all the properties required . . .

Where, in your opinion, did the universe get these essential properties?

without recourse to magic

How do you know the universe can operate without "magic", as you put it? What has science figured out and described about the beginning of our universe that gives you confidence that no supernatural agency is needed to make sense of it?

I think you're the one who needs to justify why God would have to suspend the laws of nature to interact with nature.


That's my point . . . he doesn't suspend anything. It was your assertion that he did.

Bryan
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People read the Bible and come up with the answer to every question, confident that they know the mind of their God. They completely miss the point that the Bible shows Jesus telling everyone that they will never measure up, and have no idea how to live righteously. "You must have the faith of a child"- and what do children know?


k, Jesus didn't leave it at "You don't measure up". He talked a bit about how to fix the problem as well.

Interesting that you brought up faith as of a child. I've been pondering this comment in recent weeks. Email me if you want to. Or maybe I'l bring it up on CF.

It just seems to me that the less you profess to "know", the better off you might be if there really is a creator God.


Just to be clear, there is little I discuss here that I "know". Some things with more confidence than others anyway

Bryan

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as per usual .... Ant#k strikes us as overly polite

The hub, m'man. It isn't popular, but it's defendable. :o)


the hub, bub?



..... didn't know Nike has plants in N.Carolina

How can we know the doings of Nike?


true. "Nike works in Mysterious ways."


-b
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I'm talking about General Relativity, which has been proven accurate by repeated TESTING.

I don't think your tests for evolution come anywhere close to the kinds of tests GR has passed.

I'm happy to see GR being mentioned as the yardstick of scientific testing. I even read somewhere it 's the most thorougly tested scientific theory. So yes, I agree it's a good goal for evolutionary science to strive for.

Perhaps someone who follows the literature quite closely could make a tally of predictions and tests of evolution on the one hand and ID on the other, to see which of the two approaches the state of GR the closest. After 5, 10, 20 years of tallying the trend should become clear. I have a pretty good idea in my mind about which of the two theories will win.

I think there's another reason why bringing up GR is relevant to the ID-evolution debate. As mentioned, GR is proven very accurate on the cosmic scale. It does not seem applicable at subatomic level though. Therefore it does not pass the requirements Behe desires of evolution. The fossil record clearly shows sequences that strongly support the theory that macro-evolution occurred. The recent study of the feline family shows that the fossil record and an independently established DNA tree, match significantly. So, at that large-scale level predictions and tests support evolution. Yet Behe ,and yourself also ( if I interpret your messages correctly ) require not only to see the detailed process of change at molecular level, but also exactly how external environmental pressure on the creature provoke changes at molecular level within the cell.
Yet you're willing to accept the validity of GR without even knowing how it works on a small scale. Even worse, some aspects of relativity theory seem contradictory to quantum physics, (check for instance the Einstein-Podorovski-Rosen paradox and Bell's inequalities )
I also can't help but think of the cosmological constant which Einstein introduced to make his equations fit a steady universe and which was later removed when it turned out the universe expanded. I think that the ID'ers would never accept something like that from evolution theory, (though that last claim is just a guess of course.)

T.
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Ants don't try to understand things? I beg to differ.

Ants can certainly learn. But understand? Does an ant know why something happens?

How so?

People of faith have done some terrible things in the name of God. So when a religious authority orders something terrible, the question every moral theist has to ask is whether what is being demanded really is the will of God. You can't address this question without having some understanding of the nature and character of God. That's why the "why?" question is important.

When someone says that God wants you to fly a plane into a building full of people, or to kill an abortion doctor, or even something more prosaic like vote for Bush, I think it useful to ask why and whether it makes any moral or logical sense.

I think even the discussions here are useful in that regard. For those whose conception of God is focused on a literal reading of the OT, with all the divinely inspired massacres from Sodom to the flood to Egypt's first born, it is a pretty short step to justify flying an airplane into the building of your enemy or believing in divinely induced strokes. But recognize the shear immensity of God's creation and the notion that God intervenes in regional politics borders on the absurd.

Or so it seems to me.
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I'm talking about General Relativity, which has been proven accurate by repeated TESTING.

I believe in microGR, when used within the confines of our solar system. But macroGR is just an untested hypothesis. No one has actually left our solar system to confirm that the laws of physics still hold true everywhere. When someone goes to Alpha Centari and measures the speed of light there, let me know.
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Where, in your opinion, did the universe get these essential properties?

Well that's a whole separate thread. There could still be some theory of everything that will explain why our universe is the only one that could be. Or it could be that this universe is only one of a near infinite number of universes, all with different properties. Or it could be that ours is the only universe and it was just dumb luck. Or it could be God.

I'll let you know my opinion when I figure it out.

How do you know the universe can operate without "magic", as you put it? What has science figured out and described about the beginning of our universe that gives you confidence that no supernatural agency is needed to make sense of it?

I am a believer in Occam's razor, which means that I don't posit something new and unexplained (like magic) unless I see a need for it. So far, I don't see any compelling evidence that there is a need for anything more than the laws and properties of nature to explain the universe. Therefore, I don't presume there is anything more than that at work.

That's my point . . . he doesn't suspend anything. It was your assertion that he did.

What I assert is that ID creationism requires that God circumvent (or suspend) natural laws. Behe argues that flagella cannot be produced by nature, that's why you need an intelligent designer. And the implicit assumption is that that designer could also not arise from natural processes. Therefore the creation of flagella requires a suspension of nature...something naturally impossible has to happen.
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If there is such a thing as a creator God, then the difference between human intellect and the creator God would be infinitely many times over and above the difference between an ant and a human

Why?

There is a qualitative difference between an ant and human brain. A human brain can think of things that an ant cannot.

Why is there necessarily a qualitative difference between human intellect and God? I certainly agree that God can do things better than humans, so there is a clear quantitative difference. But is it necessarily the case that God thinks in a completely different way, one we would find incomprehensible?

If God created the universe and the universe is comprehensible to humans, then it would seem that at least a part of God is comprehensible. Seems like humans should put a high priority to exploring that part.

The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing. You know what's crazy? Anyone who thinks they do know.

Who I think is crazy is any non-atheist who doesn't try. Could there be a more interesting or important question?
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Ants don't try to understand things? I beg to differ.

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

Ants can certainly learn. But understand? Does an ant know why something happens?


The operative word here is "try". When you step on their house, many come running out and dart around just in case there's something to be done. They desperately want to understand what they need to do. If they see a large animal around, depending on what kind of ants they are, they might attack. (maybe "understand" is a bit misleading. :o))

How so?

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

People of faith have done some terrible things in the name of God. So when a religious authority orders something terrible, the question every moral theist has to ask is whether what is being demanded really is the will of God. You can't address this question without having some understanding of the nature and character of God. That's why the "why?" question is important.

When someone says that God wants you to fly a plane into a building full of people, or to kill an abortion doctor, or even something more prosaic like vote for Bush, I think it useful to ask why and whether it makes any moral or logical sense.

I think even the discussions here are useful in that regard. For those whose conception of God is focused on a literal reading of the OT, with all the divinely inspired massacres from Sodom to the flood to Egypt's first born, it is a pretty short step to justify flying an airplane into the building of your enemy or believing in divinely induced strokes. But recognize the shear immensity of God's creation and the notion that God intervenes in regional politics borders on the absurd.

Or so it seems to me.


Within the Christian view, it seems that the words of Christ would be the final say in any matter. He didn't say things like "you know why God wants you to love your enemies? Because.." He just said to do it. The reason may be so outside a human mind's ability to understand that God just asked for obedience, not understanding. Matter of fact, Jesus quite specifically said that people can't understand the why of God. Now, we see through a glass darkly.

Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, offer your cloak also, love others as you love yourself, don't return evil with evil, don't take credit for your good acts, die for your brother, forgive all, the list goes on. None of these things come with an explanation except that God thinks they're the best thing to do. Interestingly enough, Jesus also said that no human is capable of this stuff (except Him). Peter said he was above a particular sin and Jesus said that, this day, he would succumb to that very sin.

It seems (and I could be wrong) that no one can understand the mind of God because, if they did, they would act as God would have them act because of their understanding- not because the Bible says so. It's said the those who are born again become new creatures in Christ and that the Holy Spirit enters them and illuminates the word (their conscience) so that they no longer crave the things their sinful nature places so much value on. But even these can't live the life of Christ.

Or so it seems to me. :o)

k

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If there is such a thing as a creator God, then the difference between human intellect and the creator God would be infinitely many times over and above the difference between an ant and a human

Why?

There is a qualitative difference between an ant and human brain. A human brain can think of things that an ant cannot.

Why is there necessarily a qualitative difference between human intellect and God? I certainly agree that God can do things better than humans, so there is a clear quantitative difference. But is it necessarily the case that God thinks in a completely different way, one we would find incomprehensible?

If God created the universe and the universe is comprehensible to humans, then it would seem that at least a part of God is comprehensible. Seems like humans should put a high priority to exploring that part.

If I remove your frontal lobes, you will cease to understand anything at all. If every cell in your body decided not to accept the docking of peptides from your brain, you would experience no emotions. I'm thinking that a God wouldn't work like that.

By the way, not only does God understand the ultimate unifying theory of everything, but he invented it! :o)

The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing. You know what's crazy? Anyone who thinks they do know.

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

Who I think is crazy is any non-atheist who doesn't try. Could there be a more interesting or important question?


Oh, absolutely! I agree with you on that. But to take the gaps in a scientific theory and push the idea that God must reside there might be pushing it a bit, dontcha think? :o)

k
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I believe in microGR, when used within the confines of our solar system. But macroGR is just an untested hypothesis. No one has actually left our solar system to confirm that the laws of physics still hold true everywhere. When someone goes to Alpha Centari and measures the speed of light there, let me know.


Nice try. We know GR works in other solar systems because we can verify it through observation and TESTING.

At least I can see a difference between degree of verification of the two, and I have a lot more confidence in one.

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People read the Bible and come up with the answer to every question, confident that they know the mind of their God. They completely miss the point that the Bible shows Jesus telling everyone that they will never measure up, and have no idea how to live righteously. "You must have the faith of a child"- and what do children know?

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k, Jesus didn't leave it at "You don't measure up". He talked a bit about how to fix the problem as well.


Did he really? Do you walk by faith, not by sight? Is there no way to save yourself except to depend on the saving grace of the crucifixion of Christ? Can you really live according to Christ's teachings because you understand why you should? Or is it because you understand that it has been asked of you to do so?

If someone hits you, you are to forgive them. Do you know why? Is it because He forgave us? Why did he forgive us? Is it because He loves us? Why does He love us? Is it because we are worthy of His love? No? Then why?

Answer that, and then return to the statement "If someone hits you, you are to forgive them". The reason for doing so should be the same.

k

k
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The hub, m'man. It isn't popular, but it's defendable. :o)

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the hub, bub?


The hub is shorthand for khalouism. I believe I've mentioned that before. :o)

k
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Matter of fact, Jesus quite specifically said that people can't understand the why of God. Now, we see through a glass darkly.

But there was also the promise of future enlightenment, so the potential is there.

Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, offer your cloak also, love others as you love yourself, don't return evil with evil, don't take credit for your good acts, die for your brother, forgive all, the list goes on. None of these things come with an explanation except that God thinks they're the best thing to do.

It's not whether God gives and explanation, but whether we can derive an explanation. We can certainly experience love, so God isn't basing morality on something we can't fathom. And certainly there are many philosophers who by logic and reasoning derive moralities where altruism is an essential component. So I think Christ describes a morality that is well within human understanding. Now where you might have an argument is if Christ had identified sins that seem arbitrary, like "thou shalt not wear pants".

Now I will admit that many theists have derived moral laws that seem rationally indefensible, all that stuff about homosexuality for example. If they're right then perhaps you are correct, we cannot understand the mind of God.

Interestingly enough, Jesus also said that no human is capable of this stuff (except Him).

We can't love as selflessly or resist temptation as well as Jesus. those are quantitative, not qualitative differences. There may be qualitative differences, but I am ignorant of them. Afterall, according to Christianity, Jesus while on earth was human. So it stands to reason that whatever he understood was something within the realm of human comprehension.

It seems (and I could be wrong) that no one can understand the mind of God because, if they did, they would act as God would have them act because of their understanding- not because the Bible says so.

But we are not completely rational creatures. And differences that are quantitative can still be very significant. A three year old might understand why knives are dangerous, but I still wouldn't keep the cutlery nearby.
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the hub, bub?

The hub is shorthand for khalouism. I believe I've mentioned that before. :o)


not that i recall.

don't even recall seeing "treatise on khalouism"


(>: h
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It's not whether God gives and explanation, but whether we can derive an explanation. We can certainly experience love, so God isn't basing morality on something we can't fathom. And certainly there are many philosophers who by logic and reasoning derive moralities where altruism is an essential component. So I think Christ describes a morality that is well within human understanding. Now where you might have an argument is if Christ had identified sins that seem arbitrary, like "thou shalt not wear pants".


You love is triggered by mechanical means. It could be extinguished by the physical removal of the internal components that make it a part of you. You love according to what makes sense to you, according to the capacity of love that you, a human, posses.

Your reaction to the pain of a slap in the face is bio-chemically produced. The first reaction is not forgiveness or love. It may be fight or flight, embarrassment, or tears. It certainly is not love for the one who slapped you.

Yet the essence of God is said to be unconditional love. Jesus forgave those who beat Him, tortured Him, and killed Him. Never once did He even think "That hurts, you son of a bitch!" He died for that person instead.

Why?

k (as far as I'm concerned, that sort of thing far exceeds the senselessness of "thou shalt not wear pants")
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Yet the essence of God is said to be unconditional love. Jesus forgave those who beat Him, tortured Him, and killed Him. Never once did He even think "That hurts, you son of a bitch!" He died for that person instead.

Why?


Do you admire Jesus? I suspect you do. If so then that means there is something in his behavior or words that you comprehend as being good and exemplary, even if it runs contrary to your biological instincts.

as far as I'm concerned, that sort of thing far exceeds the senselessness of "thou shalt not wear pants"

If you truly felt it was senseless you would simply dismiss Jesus as insane. Afterall, there is no shortage of crazed martyrs in the history of man who have disappeared from view. But Jesus made an impact that still resonates. That doesn't happen if the message is incomprehensible.

So here is your brain, a purely material organ and the end product of eons of ruthless competition between purely selfish genes, admiring a message of selfless altruism and unconditional love. Go figure.
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Yet the essence of God is said to be unconditional love. Jesus forgave those who beat Him, tortured Him, and killed Him. Never once did He even think "That hurts, you son of a bitch!" He died for that person instead.

Why?

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

Do you admire Jesus? I suspect you do. If so then that means there is something in his behavior or words that you comprehend as being good and exemplary, even if it runs contrary to your biological instincts.


My point was that no one lives the life that Jesus describes.

as far as I'm concerned, that sort of thing far exceeds the senselessness of "thou shalt not wear pants"

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

If you truly felt it was senseless you would simply dismiss Jesus as insane. Afterall, there is no shortage of crazed martyrs in the history of man who have disappeared from view. But Jesus made an impact that still resonates. That doesn't happen if the message is incomprehensible.


It isn't supposed to be senseless, it's supposed to be transcendental to human wisdom. The things that Jesus supposedly said were, much of what Christians say about Christianity is not.

So here is your brain, a purely material organ and the end product of eons of ruthless competition between purely selfish genes, admiring a message of selfless altruism and unconditional love. Go figure.

I've never understood this supposed paradox. What does the survival of genes that aid in a species' overall survival have to do with how members of that species relate to each other?

k

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My point was that no one lives the life that Jesus describes.

okay.

It isn't supposed to be senseless, it's supposed to be transcendental to human wisdom.

okay.

The things that Jesus supposedly said were, much of what Christians say about Christianity is not.

??

I've never understood this supposed paradox. What does the survival of genes that aid in a species' overall survival have to do with how members of that species relate to each other?

Natural selection leaves unanswered the question of why we admire unconditional love and selfless altruism.
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Natural selection leaves unanswered the question of why we admire unconditional love and selfless altruism.

I've never had a problem with the consistency of these facts. Perhaps you could explain?

k
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Natural selection leaves unanswered the question of why we admire unconditional love and selfless altruism.

Actually there's been a lot of thought and research since the 1960's which shows that it doesn't. A reading of Robert Wright, E.O. Wilson or Robert Trivers on the topics of evolutionary psychology and kin selection would certainly be an improvement over any summation I can provide, but the (extremely) basic gist is that altruism throughout the animal kingdom tends to be directed towards those whose genes are closest to one's own, as a mechanism for better propagation of one's genetic lineage.

Studies have shown that by and large, deeds seen as altruistic are done in highest proportion to those most closely related, decreasing regularly as the level of relatedness decreases. It helps explain why, for instance, stepchildren are more likely to be killed by a step-parent statistically than a parent is likely to kill their biological offsprint, and why one is statistically more likely to help a sibling than a friend, and to a greater extent.

It is no surprise therefore that a genetic impulse would become a cultural meme, and that we would come to admire such behavior.
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Khalou: I've never had a problem with the consistency of these facts. Perhaps you could explain? and see also cnaylor's subsequent post.

There are several theories for the evolution of altruism. All are based on the assertion that the individual's altruistic act benefits the group to which the individual identifies, so these acts are not truly "selfless" and can be selected for. Jesus goes beyond this to propose that love should include one's enemies, i.e, to be truly selfless. To not discriminate on who should benefit from one's acts of altruism would seem to eliminate any fitness advantage to one's group. In the absence of a personal or group fitness advantage, why does Jesus's morality seem admirable rather than insane?

The theistic argument would be that we are able to understand enough of the mind and intent of God to feel the "goodness" of that morality.

Khalou, I have to say that I don't grasp the point you are trying to make, so let me reiterate mine. In your ant analogy you were asserting that the mind and will of God was incomprehensible to man. That would make impossible the use of reason to evaluate one's faith, a dangerous POV in a time of violent religioius fanaticism. I argue that faith, even while ultimately having a subjective basis, should still make sense. A rational God should be accessible to a rational approach, or what's a brain for?
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Jesus goes beyond this to propose that love should include one's enemies, i.e, to be truly selfless. To not discriminate on who should benefit from one's acts of altruism would seem to eliminate any fitness advantage to one's group. In the absence of a personal or group fitness advantage, why does Jesus's morality seem admirable rather than insane?

People may claim to admire it, but thought doesn't seem to translate into action. Based on people's behavior, the kind of selflessness you describe remains an ideal, not the real. From a statistical perspective, generosity and help seems to be directed towards those to whom one is more closely genetically related.
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Nice try. We know GR works in other solar systems because we can verify it through observation and TESTING.

Many of our observations do not match the math. Scientists invent 'dark matter' and 'dark energy, objects we cannot detect, to make the math work.

We cannot explain the Pioneer Anomaly, where a small, unknown force is measured. Similar forces have been measured on the Galileo and Ulysses probes. This is in our outer solar system. We can detect this force only because of the measuring devices on the probe. We can barely detect planets in other systems. Observing the effects of small forces is way beyond our abilities.

Almost all of our GR obervations and testing have been done right here on the surface of earth (microGR). We don't even know if time flows the same in other locations. There's a new theory (below) that says that time has a geometry. The 'arrow of time' may point differently in another solar system (macroGR).


http://www.stanford.edu/~afmayer/
It explains and correlates anomalies found in the GPS with those found for the Pioneer Spacecraft radio Doppler data, and so addresses important practical issues rather than some obscure theoretical astrophysical speculation.

The lectures are based on a single underlying idea that drove the insights they contain: that time is not a single dimension of spacetime but rather a local geometric distinction in spacetime.
[clip]
Imagine that 'the arrow of time' in the Universe, like gravity on Earth, is pretty much the same everywhere, yet also different everywhere relative to everywhere else. That means that the 'arrow of time' points in different directions in spacetime depending on where you are, so time has a geometry just like space has a geometry. The novel idea that there are an infinite number of time dimensions in the Universe revolutionizes gravitational theory and much of modern science with it. A number of outstanding scientific mysteries are definitively solved, including observations that lead to the concepts of 'dark energy' and 'dark matter'.
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Many of our observations do not match the math. Scientists invent 'dark matter' and 'dark energy, objects we cannot detect, to make the math work.


I don't know if I can take all your science-bashing <g>

This is all true. But GR has been confirmed by numerous test over the past decades, many of them by observing light from distant stars. Can GR ultimately prove inadequate, and be abandoned by science as "The" explanation? Sure, just like neo-Darwinism could for biological variation.

I kind of like the dark matter concept. You can see it too in evolutionary theory, where you have "dark natural selection", the kind that gets you from micro to macro changes. <G>

Bryan
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This is all true. But GR has been confirmed by numerous test over the past decades, many of them by observing light from distant stars. Can GR ultimately prove inadequate, and be abandoned by science as "The" explanation? Sure, just like neo-Darwinism could for biological variation.

Yes, Scientific Theories can be falsified. An Intelligent Designer can't be falsified. It is impossible to prove that ID is an inadequate explanation.
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I kind of like the dark matter concept. You can see it too in evolutionary theory, where you have "dark natural selection", the kind that gets you from micro to macro changes.

Unlike dark matter, though, we have fossil samples of macro changes; whales, for example.
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Unlike dark matter, though, we have fossil samples of macro changes; whales, for example.


<Must concentrate on work . . . must not think of smartass reply like "I've got your dark matter . . . " ; not flattering anyway>

Yes, you have whales. Can't argue with that.

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Based on people's behavior, the kind of selflessness you describe remains an ideal, not the real. From a statistical perspective, generosity and help seems to be directed towards those to whom one is more closely genetically related.

That makes my point. If people do not perceive any benefit from behaving like Jesus, then why is that behavior considered an ideal?
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That makes my point. If people do not perceive any benefit from behaving like Jesus, then why is that behavior considered an ideal?

Because I like it when people act selflessly and give me all their stuff.
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That makes my point. If people do not perceive any benefit from behaving like Jesus, then why is that behavior considered an ideal?

/////
Because I like it when people act selflessly and give me all their stuff.


exactly. the Jesus-meme is GREAT for the other guy.


=
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That makes my point. If people do not perceive any benefit from behaving like Jesus, then why is that behavior considered an ideal?

I don't honestly see that it does make your point. Where it comes to answering the question of whether or not evolution can account for behavior, I would argue that the actual behavior is more important than the idealized behavior. I would also argue that the consideration of altruism as an ideal is more the result of lip service, than a true belief that it is truly an ideal. In groups and societies, one's survival chances are enhanced if you can get your neighbor to give you a greater portion of their labor than you give them of yours.

And yet, we also have "fairness" meters built in that detect when one party to a social compact is not behaving equitably. What is 'equitable' is determined by a complicated interplay of factors, including various means of persuasion (that is, non-forceful communication). So you can 'convince' others to give you the fruits of their labors, but it is generally observed that those who seem to be more successful at this are the ones who best appear to believe their own persuasive arguments (even if at some level they know such arguments to be false, they are able to shut that part out and seem to genuinely believe what they say is true). This offers an explanation for why people might give lip service to such seemingly magnanimous and equitable principles as altruism but fail to 'walk the walk'.

There's been a fair deal of research on the subject. Again, I recommend Robert Wright (The Moral Animal - a very interesting read analyzing Darwin's own personality in evolutionary terms), Edward O. Wilson, or Robert Trivers.
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exactly. the Jesus-meme is GREAT for the other guy.

Especially if "the other guy" is "the church". It's great for business. Tell everyone that God wants you to be selfless, and then tell them that it's very selfless to give a significant chunk of your money to us. Those cathedrals don't build themselves, you know.
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Where it comes to answering the question of whether or not evolution can account for behavior, I would argue that the actual behavior is more important than the idealized behavior.

The question was more whether evolution can account for the ideal.

I would also argue that the consideration of altruism as an ideal is more the result of lip service, than a true belief that it is truly an ideal. In groups and societies, one's survival chances are enhanced if you can get your neighbor to give you a greater portion of their labor than you give them of yours.

That seems a bit cynical. When I contributed money to Somalia famine or Katrina relief I don't recall thinking about how it would increase my survival chances. I suppose you could argue that I was duped by someone more clever who effectively stole some of "my labor". But even after now being "enlightened" about my foolishness it still seems the right thing to have done.

So you can 'convince' others to give you the fruits of their labors, but it is generally observed that those who seem to be more successful at this are the ones who best appear to believe their own persuasive arguments (even if at some level they know such arguments to be false, they are able to shut that part out and seem to genuinely believe what they say is true).

There is not doubt some truth to this. But if you believe Wright and Wilson, then altruism is a benefit to society. It stands to reason then that those who would subvert altruistic tendencies for selfish reasons would have a net negative effect. Memes controlling such negative behaviors, like deleterious genes, should be selected against and therefore eventually marginalized in the population.

Again, I recommend Robert Wright (The Moral Animal - a very interesting read analyzing Darwin's own personality in evolutionary terms), Edward O. Wilson, or Robert Trivers.

Robert Wright has a more positive view of altruism than you've expressed and in fact argues that evolution is "directed" toward developing societies approaching the altruistic ideal. The notion that the evolution has an arrow with the end products being complexity and altruism is at least consistent with divine purpose, as even Wright allows in his recent book "NonZero, The logic of human destiny">
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Centromere: Why do you think the universe is so immense and ancient?

How do you know the age of the universe?

If the universe were billions of years old, then we would observe far more SNRs (SuperNova Remnants) such as the Crab Nebula. The percentage of SNRs is far lower than the number that should exist in an ancient universe. As far as the immensity, I don't understand how that is an argument against an omnipotent God.

Rob

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If there is such a thing as a creator God, then the difference between human intellect and the creator God would be infinitely many times over and above the difference between an ant and a human -after all- we are both animals and humans didn't create ants. :o)

The human in your analogy also did not create the ant. God did create the human in His own image though, and did create means of communication, most notibly prayer and the Bible.

The idea that we can't understand why a God would do something (if one exists) isn't such a crazy thing.

You know what's crazy?

Anyone who thinks they do know. :o)


It is also crazy to ignore what God tells us straight up and either try to reinterpret it or ignore it flat out.

Rob
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<i"You must have the faith of a child"- and what do children know?

It just seems to me that the less you profess to "know", the better off you might be if there really is a creator God.

I think you may be confusing faith and knowledge. The Bible does not promote ignorance, but describes wisdom and knowledge as great attributes. Knowledge by itself is not enough even for an atheist. One must have faith in science to believe something that cannot be directly observed by the human senses.

Rob
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I am a believer in Occam's razor, which means that I don't posit something new and unexplained (like magic) unless I see a need for it.


Or it could be that this universe is only one of a near infinite number of universes, all with different properties.

We have no evidence of multiple universes. Wouldn't this be something new and unexplained?

Rob
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Within the Christian view, it seems that the words of Christ would be the final say in any matter. He didn't say things like "you know why God wants you to love your enemies? Because.." He just said to do it. The reason may be so outside a human mind's ability to understand that God just asked for obedience, not understanding. Matter of fact, Jesus quite specifically said that people can't understand the why of God. Now, we see through a glass darkly.

Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, offer your cloak also, love others as you love yourself, don't return evil with evil, don't take credit for your good acts, die for your brother, forgive all, the list goes on. None of these things come with an explanation except that God thinks they're the best thing to do. Interestingly enough, Jesus also said that no human is capable of this stuff (except Him). Peter said he was above a particular sin and Jesus said that, this day, he would succumb to that very sin.

It seems (and I could be wrong) that no one can understand the mind of God because, if they did, they would act as God would have them act because of their understanding- not because the Bible says so. It's said the those who are born again become new creatures in Christ and that the Holy Spirit enters them and illuminates the word (their conscience) so that they no longer crave the things their sinful nature places so much value on. But even these can't live the life of Christ.

Or so it seems to me. :o)

k


Very impressive! I thought it beared repeating. (-:

Rob

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How do you know the age of the universe?

If the universe were billions of years old, then we would observe far more SNRs (SuperNova Remnants) such as the Crab Nebula.


Either that, or the SNRs have dispersed, which they do after 100,000 years or so.

On the other hand, we can see stars that are 10 billion years old.
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Especially if "the other guy" is "the church". It's great for business. Tell everyone that God wants you to be selfless, and then tell them that it's very selfless to give a significant chunk of your money to us. Those cathedrals don't build themselves, you know.

This is the "everyone but me is really gullible" theory, which in previous forms was "religion is the opiate of the masses". Convincing for those who need an ego stroke. The problem is that the gullibles won't last very long, they eventually figure out the scam or are absorbed by more efficient cultures that aren't based on deception. So I think a stronger argument can be made based on its persistence and distribution that the Jesus-meme was a net benefit to society.
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As far as the immensity, I don't understand how that is an argument against an omnipotent God.

It's not. It's more of an argument against a theology that asserts special creation on earth, which is one grain of sand in a gigantic beach. If special creation, then why all the other sand? On the other hand, if intelligent life requires improbable events to occur then an old, big universe is a statistical necessity.

But then, an ancient universe is also not an argument against God. Rather it is an argument against those who want to tell God his universe is only 10000 years old despite all the facts to the contrary.
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So I think a stronger argument can be made based on its persistence and distribution that the Jesus-meme was a net benefit to society.

Historically, religion-memes have provided benefits to society. Cultures that has strong religious laws were able to live together and prosper more, than those without strong laws. In the past, I think laws were more likely to be obeyed when they were "God's Laws".




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This is the "everyone but me is really gullible" theory

Not at all. This is the "everybody is really gullible, INCLUDING me" theory. I'm not claiming any special status for myself. History is full of people passionately believing things that most definitely are not true. Even really smart people, and even today.
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The question was more whether evolution can account for the ideal.

There are evolutionary explanations for that as well – in a simple society where interactions are limited to a small group, reciprocal altruism can explain 'selfless' behavior. If you are likely to have repeated interactions with someone and can foresee that you may sometimes need help and at other times be able to provide it, you will (as many animals have demonstrated) develop a sophisticated method for keeping track of how well others reciprocate your help. Studies among bats and monkeys have strongly demonstrated that this explanation is valid. If someone else helps you, you help them – if they don't help you, you stop helping them. (known as the tit-for-tat strategy – it is statistically the most effective technique for maximizing the benefits of social interaction to all individuals – see Dawkins “The Selfish Gene”)

However, in a complex society, where reciprocal interactions between the same people are not as common (i.e. where our circle of contacts is so large and culture structured so that we don't have the opportunity to engage in significant transactions regularly), evolutionary theory proposes that we have developed a sophisticated 'signaling' method for demonstrating to others that we are likely to help them if needed, thus making them more likely to help us (under a sort of modified tit-for-tat theory).

That seems a bit cynical. When I contributed money to Somalia famine or Katrina relief I don't recall thinking about how it would increase my survival chances. I suppose you could argue that I was duped by someone more clever who effectively stole some of "my labor". But even after now being "enlightened" about my foolishness it still seems the right thing to have done.

Cynical or no, it is an explanation. Whether it is valid is a different question, but you can't say that evolution has no explanation for apparent selflessness.

Robert Wright has a more positive view of altruism than you've expressed and in fact argues that evolution is "directed" toward developing societies approaching the altruistic ideal. The notion that the evolution has an arrow with the end products being complexity and altruism is at least consistent with divine purpose, as even Wright allows in his recent book "NonZero, The logic of human destiny"

Actually, if you re-read my posts, I haven't expressed a negative view of altruism – I've only suggested that the motivations which lead to altruism may not be as selfless as is often claimed. And with Robert Wright, I would agree that altruism could be consistent with an externally driven purpose - though I see no reason to assume that an external purposer would have altruism or 'higher' morality as an aim – and I hardly think that altruism is 'proof' of an external purposer. It is generally agreed that one central characteristic of evolution is lack of an 'arrow' or direction towards a specific purpose – however I believe that the “apparent arrow” can be accounted for by natural, undirected processes.
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Whether it is valid is a different question, but you can't say that evolution has no explanation for apparent selflessness.


But can't you say that about whatever contradictory traits you may find, that "evolution has an explanation" ? You want to rape and pillage, evolution explains it. You want to be monogamous and altruistic, bingo!, evolution doesn't miss a beat.

I see this as no more than "God did it" with a lab coat.

Where am I wrong?

Bryan
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But can't you say that about whatever contradictory traits you may find, that "evolution has an explanation" ? You want to rape and pillage, evolution explains it. You want to be monogamous and altruistic, bingo!, evolution doesn't miss a beat.

I'm not pulling this out of my, ummm...hat, if that's what you mean. This is backed up by research designed to falsify. Sorry but life prevents digging it up and placing it before you. If you choose to disagree, such is your right - I will say that there is still a good deal more controversy among scientists about the meaning and origin of various behaviors than there is about the evolution of morphology.

Interesting that you rarely seem to allow for that same question to be turned towards any supposed designer. Can't you say that a supernatural designer can explain any contradictory traits you wish to? Only how could you ever test it?
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evolutionary theory proposes that we have developed a sophisticated 'signaling' method for demonstrating to others that we are likely to help them if needed, thus making them more likely to help us (under a sort of modified tit-for-tat theory).

Interesting. Any examples of this "signaling"?

...but you can't say that evolution has no explanation for apparent selflessness.

Hadn't meant to suggest that. My doubts have to do with whether evolution can explain the extent of altruism. I can understand why altruism would be selected for in a family, tribe, or even nation. Sacrificial behavior that enhances the survival of the population genetically similar to you will improve the likelihood that those genes will be passed on to future generations. I suppose one could similarly argue that altruistic behavior that enhances the survival of populations that share the same memes would also be selected for.

What I find less convincing are evolutionary arguments explaining why someone in Peoria would care about starvations in Mogadishu or massacres in Cambodia. In fact, it seems more logical for us to have evolved mechanisms to reduce empathy with people outside our group that do not share our genes or memes.

I've only suggested that the motivations which lead to altruism may not be as selfless as is often claimed.

Well the evolutionary reasons for altruism may not be selfless, but I see no reason why the feelings motivating altruism couldn't be. It certainly appears that our brains are wired in such a way to perceive altruism as both selfless and noble.

and I hardly think that altruism is 'proof' of an external purposer. It is generally agreed that one central characteristic of evolution is lack of an 'arrow' or direction towards a specific purpose – however I believe that the “apparent arrow” can be accounted for by natural, undirected processes.

An interesting question is whether intelligent life and complex social organizations could evolve without developing altruism.
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Interesting that you rarely seem to allow for that same question to be turned towards any supposed designer. Can't you say that a supernatural designer can explain any contradictory traits you wish to? Only how could you ever test it?


Members of this board have often pointed out that "God did it", because it explains everything, explains nothing. My point is merely that evolution seems to suffer the same objection.

This is backed up by research designed to falsify

I'm fascinated, seriously. How could you ever falsify the assertion that evolution produced some personality trait in humans?

Bryan

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An interesting question is whether intelligent life and complex social organizations could evolve without developing altruism.

I think it did for the most part.

I always look at the biggest picture I can in order to come to conclusions about things that have to be based on my own interpretation. How long have there been foundations for starving people in far off lands? If you'd gone to ancient Egypt and told of starving Somalians, do you suppose you could set up a fund to end that starving?

I think they'd run you out of town on a rail.

There are organizations nowadays that show children with flies landing on their eyes that make you think of your own children, or your own nieces and nephews, or you own neighborhood children and how much they have comparatively. You buy starbucks coffee every morning and these organizations tell you that for the price of that coffee, you could feed one of these children for a month. They don't say that if you bought a Kia instead of a Mercedes, you could feed twenty villages for a year because you probably wouldn't do that. Interestingly enough, that's probably true and according to Christianity as stated, Christians should probably all be driving Kia's.

But they don't.

Altruism is born of excess, empathy, and guilt.

k
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Interesting. Any examples of this "signaling"?

I suppose an example would be letting others know if we are involved in or have donated to causes. This could be intended to communicate that we have a sense of reciprocity and are more likely to deal fairly with others.

I'm sure I've expressed the idea poorly. A better, though not perfect, explanation for non-reciprocal altruism can be had at the following link by reading the second entry (by randywombat):

http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1267594

The following also contains some intriguing comments:

http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/~strone01/altruism.html
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I'm fascinated, seriously. How could you ever falsify the assertion that evolution produced some personality trait in humans?

Well, for example, if it was found through experiment that people (or animals) did not exhibit altruism towards close kin in greater proportion, that would cast serious doubt on an idea like kinship selection.

But in fact, studies among people and, of all things, ants, tends to show that there is a relationship between the degree of relatedness and the amount of help one gives to them. The closer genetic commonality, the greater the help (on average).
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How long have there been foundations for starving people in far off lands? If you'd gone to ancient Egypt and told of starving Somalians, do you suppose you could set up a fund to end that starving?

But I'll bet altruism within group was prevalent, e.g., Egyptians helping other Egyptians. We're evolving toward more universal charity.

Altruism is born of excess, empathy, and guilt.

Geez, you guys are cynical. People do good things because they feel better doing it. I think it a good thing brains are wired that way regardless of whether it is because of evolution or divine interaction.
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Members of this board have often pointed out that "God did it", because it explains everything, explains nothing. My point is merely that evolution seems to suffer the same objection.

It doesn't, because "God did it" and evolution answer two very different questions. They are not mutually exclusive.

Evolutionary theories attempt to answer how things happen.

"God did it" only answers the who question. Science doesn't even know if the who question is even relevant.

So propose a creationist or intelligent design theory that provides a description of how flagella was made, and then we might have something new to talk about.
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People do good things because they feel better doing it. I think it a good thing brains are wired that way regardless of whether it is because of evolution or divine interaction.

I'll agree with that.
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