The Bathroom Wall

| 210 Comments

With any tavern, one can expect that certain things that get said are out-of-place. But there is one place where almost any saying or scribble can find a home: the bathroom wall. This is where random thoughts and oddments that don’t follow the other entries at the Panda’s Thumb wind up. As with most bathroom walls, expect to sort through a lot of oyster guts before you locate any pearls of wisdom.

The previous wall got a little cluttered, so we’ve splashed a coat of paint on it.

210 Comments

Inaugural post:

Creationists suck

Now Steve, sucking belongs in the van out in the parking lot. And don’t forget to wash!

Fyi

Joe Carter just put a post up at the Evangelical Outpost, critiquing three arguments against ID (specifically, “ID is a form of “stealth creationism,” “ID is an argument from ignorance,” and ID is a “God-of-the-gaps” explanation”).

http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/a[…]66.html#more

He states that “There are many other philosophical objections, but rather than build strawmen to knock down, I’ll simply ask the critics of ID to present their objections themselves.”

So we don’t need to crash the party. We’re invited. ;)

Love his appeals to authority- Behe and Plantinga. And he never addresses the main argument: “It ain’t science.”

Love his appeals to authority- Behe and Plantinga. And he never addresses the main argument: “It ain’t science.”

Eh, just to be nitpicky, the creation myth of the Egyptians begins with a sacred mound, the Nun, rising up out of the waters.…Geb and Nut are much later in the cosmology… Before I was a cashier, I was an Egyptologist:)

Bob: Thanks for your concern for my son. Surgery tomorrow… He’s taking it better than my wife and I! Sorry to hear about your pipes. That can be a mess! Hope insurance covers it!

Something I’m noticing as I interact with you, Wayne and even Steve when he can bring himself to communicate with me, is you all seem to ascribe only negative characteristics to “god”. I find that interesting.

Admittedly, I’m a believer so you’d expect my comments to be naturally positive when describing my concept of “God”, but I wonder why is your concept of “god” overwhelmingly negative?

Steve is an atheist, which as far as I understand it simply says: there is no god.

I don’t believe in elves, but I don’t have a particularly hostile concept of what they might be if they existed.

Bob… well, I take it you’re an atheist too?

And Wayne is agnostic which, if I understand correctly says: I just don’t know if there’s a god or not. Again, I wouldn’t expect to hear a significant amount of comments like:

Bob: “a fickle and insecure (and capricious) Cosmic Trickster”

or: “diseases and viruses He so thoughtfully provided”

or “Didn’t your loving God command the angel-sheltering believer to send his wife (or daughter?) out to be gang-raped to death by the horny mob?”

or from Wayne: “Fear god because if you don’t respect god you’ll face eternal damnation.”

or: “God Dammning man and 3 more generations”

or “I don’t think god would be a older man with a great white bushy beard.”

Frankly, if God is as you describe him, I don’t like him either! I mean, you’ve described a cosmic scumbag! The interesting thing to me is you all seem to be not simply opposed to his existance; but convinced he’s evil if he does exist.

You ignore the positive characteristics ascribed to God in the Bible, but are quick to latch onto anything in the Bible you see as negative. Why is that?

You are all obviously familiar with the Bible… so why do you read it contrary to the message of God’s love? It’s almost like you’re angry with God… is that it?

If God exists, could you imagine him possessing ANY positive characteristics?

I’m just curious, as it’s something that has really stood out to me.

Bob: I want to go back to one comment you made and admit something… okay? Confession time from the Creationist! You said: “Didn’t your loving God command the angel-sheltering believer to send his wife (or daughter?) out to be gang-raped to death by the horny mob?”

Actually you are referring to the story of Lot (Abraham’s nephew) in Genesis. Here’s my confession, right up front: This is one of the few stories in the Bible I really have a hard time with. You’re right, it doesn’t square with what I think is right.

In defense of God, however, you DO have your facts mixed up though.

God NEVER commands Lot to offer his daughters to the mob. That was Lot’s idea (which never comes to fruition, by the way, as the “angels” intervene). I think there are two factors at play here… 1. That culture was COMPLETELY different from our own and I believe some, if not many, of their values would shock us. 2. Lot himself is never presented in the Bible as a shining example of virtue, in fact we have indications in other verses that he was selfish at best. The bottom line is, he was spared because he was Abraham’s nephew.

But again, I admit, I don’t like the details of this story. I think it’s an example of God getting a bad wrap, though, simply because the Bible accurately reports what happened rather than glossing over the unpleasant facts.

Changing the subject a bit, Wayne says: “It doesn’t make sense. A “God” that is alone and creates with life with no partner is asexual. Unless, here is where I get struck down by lighting, god’s penis is a vestigial organ.”

Wayne, you’re ascribing human features to God. John 4:24 has Jesus claiming that God (the Father) is a “spirit”. And let’s face it, if he really is omnipotent (all powerful) then creating life is no big deal. He wouldn’t need any help.

Your next comments are very candid. Speaking about “free will” you say: “I guess I do this with my son. I give him choices and let him know the consequences of his choices. The difference is I’m not all knowing and I don’t claim to be perfect and all good.

Most loving parents do attempt to communicate the consequences of certain choices to our children while still offering them a free choice when we believe it is appropriate. You seem to be saying you can’t grant God that same freedom because he knows more than you do about any given outcome. Have you ever let your child make a “bad” decision so they will learn? Not only can it teach them far better as they remember the consequences they went through, but it also helps them trust you in the future… they remember that Dad knows what he’s talking about after all. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids.

You continue: “Other difference is my punishment doesn’t wipe my son out of existence like will happen to me by Jesus and God if the bible is right.”

This is probably the biggest complaint people have about Christianity. The idea of hell, eternal damnation, etc. I have to admit (I’m admitting too much in this post!: ) it seems pretty harsh to me too.

Here’s what it comes down to, for me. I believe the Bible says Jesus will be our ultimate judge. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery even though he didn’t have to and there’s no indication she asked for forgiveness. When he healed the paraletic (sp?) he said: “Your sins are forgiven.” There’s no indication the guy even asked for his sins to be forgiven. The religious leaders had a fit over that statement, by the way! He forgave the thief on the cross beside him when all he said was “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He said “today you will be with me in paradise.” There’s many more examples of this. There’s every indication to me as I read the Bible that Jesus is an extremely compassionate judge.

Ironically, the people Jesus came down hard on were the religious leaders! They were the people who should have recognized him and didn’t. Jesus saw them as hippocrites using their positions of authority to gain power and riches and he accused them of such to their face! He condemned this in no uncertain terms, which is part of the reason they hated him and eventually had him crucified.

So how does that relate to eternal damnation? Only that Jesus is the ultimate judge and I don’t believe he’ll send anyone to hell who doesn’t deserve to be there. Of course, you and I may have our own concept of what “deserve” means. Ultimately, if Jesus is God, he’ll decide.

By the way, I think it was Bob who said that God created hell to prompt us to worship him. I don’t agree. The Bible says hell was created for the devil and his (fallen) angels. But, alas, I suppose if you have a hard time envisioning the possible existance of a god, you’ll have any even more difficult time with the concept of a devil!

Guys, I’m more than happy to keep posting, but there may come a time when you get tired of hearing my views. If so, let me know and I’ll lay off. I enjoy hearing your perspective… I always learn something, and it’s been good “getting to know you” so to speak through cyber space.

Hi Roger,

Keep us posted on your son’s progress. Repair on the leaking pipe cost $212, but is fully recompensable through the Class Action Fund, which, as far as I know at this point will also provide a whole-house replumb and reimbursement for incurred damages (carpets, walls, etc). The coverage window for our particular type of installation is 16 years from closing, which ends in less than a month. So if God was punishing me, at least he limited it to a relatively minor inconvenience - more of a warning? :>)

As to my (can’t speak for Wayne or Steve) ascribing only negative characteristics to God, it’s pretty much in direct counterpoint to your ascribing only glowingly positive characteristics to Him. Got to maintain a context here. I don’t think I’d call myself an atheist though - how about on the atheistic side of agnosticism?

If you’re going to credit God with creating the universe; us; butterfly wings; sunsets; and every other pleasant or good thing, you’ve also got to hold him accountable for Ebola and HIV, bubonic plague, and all the rest of the less than pleasant stuff. No cherrypicking allowed.

Blunt questions - “Yes” or “No” answers? Do you consider the Bible inerrant? Do you take the Bible literally?

Actually, a lot of people who don’t believe in God are rather fond of him (Him?) as a liteerary figure and resent the tendency of some folks to bad mouth him.

You gotta say this for the Yahweh of the Old Testament. He isn’t an insipid goody two shoes. As Trekies know, there’s a great deal of Q in J.

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Bob, Wayne & Friends:

Well we took my son in for surgery today but the Dr called in sick! So we had to reschedule for Wed. The good news was they hadn’t started the IV yet.

Bob, I guess your pipe thing might even be a “blessing” in disguise? Bob Writes: So if God was punishing me, at least he limited it to a relatively minor inconvenience - more of a warning? :>)” Hmmm, Bob… I think you might be on to something! : )

Bob, you make a good point about God creating good and bad… not sure how to answer right off, so that’s my indication that it’s a good point.… my inclination is to argue that God created things in a “good” state but sin corrupted things. In fact that could be the answer, but that might be too simplistic… how ‘bout if I get back to ya?

You also ask: “Blunt questions - “Yes” or “No” answers? Do you consider the Bible inerrant? Do you take the Bible literally?”

Actually I think I’ve pretty well answered this already, but to sum up… A. in it’s current form “no”, but remarkably close; I also believe God uses the imperfect to communicate his message; B. as much as possible except when it is obvious allegory or metaphor. I’m not opposed to someone interpreting the “difficult to understand” stories as allegory. (Guess that wasn’t yes or no… sorry!)

Wayne: You bring up the concept that God will hold 3 or 4 generations responsible for the sins of their fathers several times. Two things, 1. could you tell me where to find this? 2. As far as I know this idea was done away with, but I’m fuzzy on the details.

I see that most of your responses to my last questions basically add up to: I don’t believe the “God” of the Bible is the creator of the universe. The Bible, you believe was created by man. So you are not opposed to the idea of a “god”, but you don’t beleive it’s the god of the Bible, which you describe as bushy-haired old man.

I agree (with the bushy-haired part). But I notice most of your comments seem to apply to the God of the Old Testament. You also argue that the words of Jesus have been embellished and even fabricated.

Do you believe Jesus claimed to be God?

You also quote John 5:22-23 and comment that: “Not this isn’t Jesus saying this and I do not believe this is what Jesus would have meant by what he is reported to have said.”

So you believe this has been added? Because, according to the way it is written it IS part of a long, direct quote from Jesus which begins in verse 19.

This quote, to me, seems consistent with the rest of Jesus’ teachings.

You also make the same point with John 3:18. Again, the author presents this as Jesus speaking directly to Nichodemus. So I can only conclude that you simply do not accept the account as it’s presented. Right?

Roger Wrote:

Wayne: You bring up the concept that God will hold 3 or 4 generations responsible for the sins of their fathers several times. Two things, 1. could you tell me where to find this? 2. As far as I know this idea was done away with, but I’m fuzzy on the details.

Done away with because it is in the old testimate? I find the change in doctrine strange. When I look at it I see it used for a struggle of power.

Deut 5:9-10 Wrote:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

I don’t accept much of the gospils as the word of Jesus directly and even if I don’t really believe he is who you believe him to be. I’ll leave it at that.

Roger Wrote:

Frankly, if God is as you describe him, I don’t like him either! I mean, you’ve described a cosmic scumbag! The interesting thing to me is you all seem to be not simply opposed to his existence; but convinced he’s evil if he does exist.

Remember me? I’m the one who has no problem with God, and who asked you to pick which of the alternative positions you find most convincing. Since you are more interested in theology than science, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are genuinely unsure as opposed to being obviously strategic like professional IDers. The fact that OECs exist in the first place should make you as little suspicious of YEC, though.

Since you mention caricatures of God that you wouldn’t like, you must read “Finding Darwin’s God” by Kenneth Miller. Dr. Miller is a cell biologist, a Christian, and one of the most prominent opponents of the anti-evolution strategies. In addition to refuting the “mutually contradictory” anti-evolution positions he also criticizes their unwarranted caricatures of God as a “charlatan,” “magician” and “mechanic.”

Evolution does not explain everything, nor does it claim to, but Miller represents the consensus of mainstream science-literate Christians, which is that creationism and ID are not only bad science, but also bad theology. I am of course not asking you to blindly agree, but come to your own decision.

PS: Hope your son gets well soon.

Roger,

Somewhere on this thread I believe you were asked (by Frank J?) what type of Creation (ism) you subscribed to, and you answered “Biblical.” Everything from the Universe to us in 6 days, and Noah’s Flood thrown in for good measure?

Bob Maurus Wrote:

Roger,

Somewhere on this thread I believe you were asked (by Frank J?) what type of Creation (ism) you subscribed to, and you answered “Biblical.” Everything from the Universe to us in 6 days, and Noah’s Flood thrown in for good measure?

Twas I who asked, then remarked that “Biblical” according to minstream Christianity includes a 4.5 billion year old earth and evolution. Of course “Biblical” has also been claimed to mean a flat earth.

Hi Frank,

Mainstream Christianity aside, I would point out that “Biblical” creation is a six day affair that leaves no room for evolution.

And once we get into Biblical literalism we’re dealing with such assorted goodies as Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt; the plagues of Egypt; Moses’ staff into a serpent; the Red/Reed sea parting; Noah’s Flood; and Jesus crucified, dead, and resurrected.

This site is not about validating or alibiing (an invented word that looks kinda weird) the Bible, it’s about demonstrable supports for naturalistic predictions. I’m waiting for Roger to provide some sort of a framework for evaluating Divine Creation. Absent that, it’s a non-starter. In point of fact, I’m waiting for anyone to provide said framework.

Roger, Are you telling me you’ve never considered the downside of “God the Creator”? I’ll see your sunset and raise you an Ebola outbreak. One of my dearest friends is a born-again Christian conservative Republican. A few years ago we got into an EvC debate, and at one point he said, “Every time I see a sunset or a butterfly’s wings I’m reminded of the glory of God’s handiwork.” I responded, “Do you also see the glory of God’s handiwork in the Ebola virus?” and he replied, “I don’t understand what you’re getting at.” We’re still dear friends, but it has been difficult. I have a problem with you’re having to decide how to respond. He either did it or He didn’t, unless you’re suggesting several co-creators - altough that would be a new and startling addition to the Christian cosmology. Do me the courtesy here of not running the “sin corrupted things” riff on me. This site is dedicated to providing support for, and engaging dissents from, evolution, not to engaging in theological debates.

You indicated that you take the Bible literally, except when it’s obvious allegory or metaphor. Who makes that final distinction? Suppose I claim that the WHOLE THING is allegory and metaphor? Can you dispute that with evidence? I would suggest that your “yes or no” answer is “No.”

Bob brings up a good point. The whole “sin corrupted everything” doesn’t make sense to me.

God created a perfect world but some how it broke when Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Or was the Garden of Eden the only perfect place and the land of Nod was not so perfect.

Why would God make a perfect world but not a perfect being?

I actually like a hindu interpretation of Genesis 3 where it was not fruit of a sacred tree that they ate but the “fruit” represented intercourse and that upon Eve discovering the pleasures of sex for herself tempted Adam. Thus they where thrown out of the Garden of Eden for doing that which only the creator wanted to do, create life. I don’t believe it but its symbolism makes more sense in my eyes of how early civilised man would try to describe origins.

As far as the whole bible being allegory and metaphor. I think if we look at the O.T. I would say much of this is true. With the N.T. I would say it is more political manipulation personally. The gospals where not written to be anything but fact even revolations.

Agian these are my views and don’t expect to have anyone agree with me.

On an interesting side note I just got an email from a woman, via a match making site, who is interested in catching up…she’s a born again Christian studying to become a teach in science. I emailed her my openness to all religions and briefly explained that I like learning about religions, biology, geology, cosmology etc and reitterated the fact that I’m agnostic. Any bets on if she’ll continue on trying to meet me?

Bob Maurus Wrote:

Mainstream Christianity aside, I would point out that “Biblical” creation is a six day affair that leaves no room for evolution.

But even OECs (classic OECs, not the ID strategists) claim that their various scenarios, day-age and gap, in particular, are “Biblical.” Same for YE geocentrists. IOW the the word is ambiguous to the point of being meaningless. I am still trying to find out what Roger’s intended definition was.

Hi Frank,

Guess Roger’s up to his eyeballs with family things, or taking a weekend break.

Don’t forget about Lilith - the first feminist. She took one look at the setup and said, “I’m outta here.”

Absent individual specifics from Roger, I’m assuming a pretty literal Biblical line: Me: “Do you consider the Bible inerrant? Do you take the Bible literally?” Roger ; “A. in it’s current form “no”, but remarkably close; I also believe God uses the imperfect to communicate his message; B. as much as possible except when it is obvious allegory or metaphor. I’m not opposed to someone interpreting the “difficult to understand” stories as allegory.”

Hey Friends:

I WAS quite busy… too many details to explain, and then when I tried the page wouldn’t download… anyway, since I have limited time (gotta get to church tomorrow! : ) I’ll get right into it…

Wayne: the passage you quoted doesn’t say anything about “damning” anyone. Is this the only verse you are talking about are are there others?

Frank: Thanks for the benefit, and yes, I am genuinely unsure. Bottom line: if I haven’t made up my mind, I flat out admit it. And if someone can show me I’m wrong, I’ll change my views. My goal is to get to the truth, not win an argument. I’m certainly not a professional IDer. (I’m sure the REAL ones would be offended at the thought! : ) No, the truth is, in the end, my opinion doesn’t mean a whole lot… I’m not much of a “threat” or “benefit” to either side! Thanks for the book recommend, I’ll see if I can find it.

Shoot! I don’t even know what all the acronyms you guys are using stand for! I’m guessing Young Earth Creationist; Old Earth Creationist… but then you start to loose me. Here’s the way I see it:

If you read the Bible literally, you read it that a day is 24 hours, hence 6 days. On the other hand “day” has been used in other locations to mean “years”. So, I suppose that’s where all the debate comes in. Again, a lot of people on both sides of the debate disagree. That’s why, for me, the jury’s still out. I just don’t know, but either way works under my world view, because I believe in an all-powerful creator who could have done it either way and who is well above my IQ, or Wayne’s son, or even Bob… (I don’t know about Steve!) (Kidding!)

Sure, I realize that’s not “verifiable” so I suppose that ends the discussion and I can come back to class when I have some concrete evidence for the existance of God. Fine! I’ve said from the beginning you have to accept MY position on FAITH. My only point, in that regard, is that you all accept YOUR positions by FAITH as well.

Bob writes: “I have a problem with you’re having to decide how to respond. He either did it or He didn’t, unless you’re suggesting several co-creators - altough that would be a new and startling addition to the Christian cosmology.”

Why do you have a problem with my indecision? I’m not claiming to be God. For me, Bob, God IS the creator of all things. And you’re absolutely right in pointing out that not all things are “good.” So that makes me stop and think. What are the possible explanations?

You continue: “Do me the courtesy here of not running the “sin corrupted things” riff on me. This site is dedicated to providing support for, and engaging dissents from, evolution, not to engaging in theological debates.”

Here you go again, asking me a question, knowing full well that I am, in fact, a believer in the Bible, but then telling me the Biblical explanation is off limits. Bob, if you ask a “theological” question such as: “Do you also see the glory of God’s handiwork in the Ebola virus?”; you might have to settle for a “theological” answer. You can’t have it both ways. Besides, last I checked we are, after all, still in the bathroom here!

That said, I think the “sin” argument is valid. You may not believe it, and that’s fine, but I certainly see it as a valid position from my perspective. However, you’ll notice in my previous comment that I admitted that may be too simplistic. For example: Under my world view, is it possible that both options are true? Ie: God created a perfect world which sin did indeed corrupt, but then God created “imperfect” or even “negative” as a possible consequence of sin? I will have to give that some more thought, but, right off, it strikes me as a good possibility.

Bob writes: “You indicated that you take the Bible literally, except when it’s obvious allegory or metaphor. Who makes that final distinction? Suppose I claim that the WHOLE THING is allegory and metaphor? Can you dispute that with evidence? I would suggest that your “yes or no” answer is “No.””

I knew this question was coming! Who makes the final destinction? Everyone is free to make up their own mind. Can I dispute that the whole thing is allegory? Sure. Will you accept it? Probably not. Without going into a huge amount of research and evidence, however, hopefully you’ll at least grant me that much (if not most) of the verifiable data given in the Bible such as geographic locations, names of kings, civilizations, structures built, battles fought, etc, etc have been verified archeologically and through outside historical documents. Names like “David” and “Solomon”, the “Hittites”, etc, once thought to be nothing more than the stuff of legend have been verified. On such matters, we can conclude that the Bible is accurate, even remarkably so given the fact that it is a collection of books by many different authors covering thousands of years.

Is Job, for example, allegory or fact or even a little of both? Either way is possible and quite acceptable. For me personally, however, it all comes down to Jesus Christ. To me, if Jesus was just a man and not who he claimed to be, then I’d throw the whole thing out and start getting my philosophy from you guys.

Wayne writes: “Bob brings up a good point. The whole “sin corrupted everything” doesn’t make sense to me.

God created a perfect world but some how it broke when Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Or was the Garden of Eden the only perfect place and the land of Nod was not so perfect.”

I think the “sin corrupted” argument does make sense. But there’s a lot of things underlying that concept that you, as an agnostic, don’t agree with. For example, you write:

“Why would God make a perfect world but not a perfect being?” Several possibilities, but I suggest that a “perfect” being would be a robot, not capable of truly and freely loving (or rejecting) God. I suggest, this is not what God wanted. Who’s to say he didn’t already try that somewhere else anyway?

Bottom line: If God did indeed create us as the center-piece of this creation, with a free-will and everything else as the backdrop, it means we’re quite “special”. Therefore, our actions could indeed impact our environment either directly (as we see in play today as our technology impacts our environment)or indirectly through God’s (or some other) actions in response to sin.

Wayne: “Any bets on if she’ll continue on trying to meet me?”

Not to meddle in your personal affairs, but keep in mind the scriptures teach her not to be “unequally yoked” to unbelievers. That’s not meant to be a slam on you, but it could definitely be a limiting factor. I realize you probably see that as a control mechanism, but, that’s probably where she’ll be coming from.

Thanks for your comments! G’nite!

Roger Wrote:

Bottom line: if I haven’t made up my mind, I flat out admit it. And if someone can show me I’m wrong, I’ll change my views. My goal is to get to the truth, not win an argument. I’m certainly not a professional IDer. (I’m sure the REAL ones would be offended at the thought! : )

Actually you are exactly the victim that professional IDers want. They discourage YEC-OEC debates, and their goal is not to get to the truth, but to misrepresent the parts of the truth that are known, down to the definition of every term, including their favorite, “Darwinism.”

If your goal is to get to the truth, why not just browse the Talk Origins archive, and read books like “Finding Darwin’s God”? No one can “show you that you are wrong” if you don’t at least tell us which of the mutually contradictory origins models you find more convincing than the others.

Trying to interpret the Bible will not help in settling the YEC-OEC debate. You need to look at the evidence, and pay close attention how some groups take it out of context to fit a pre-held conclusion. The fact that you didn’t know (but guessed correctly) what YEC and OEC stood for, means that you have a lot to catch up on. So did I as recently as 7 years ago, even though I thought I knew the “Creation/Evolution debate” for 30 years prior. I was as excited to find where I was wrong as where I was right. The newfound knowledge even strengthened my belief in God; to paraphrase Kenneth Miller, not because evolution was wrong, but because it was right.

This may not help you resolve the YEC-OEC question (other than to conclude that they are both wrong), but I also recommend “God After Darwin” by John Haught. I haven’t read it yet, but I have read several of Haught’s articles. His thesis is that evolution (as science defines it, if not how its misrepresenters do) is just how the Christian God is expected to operate.

My goal too is not to win an argument, I’m not good at that at anyway. My goal is to alert well-meaning people that “snake oil salesman” are exploiting them, in God’s name no less.

roger Wrote:

Admittedly, I’m a believer so you’d expect my comments to be naturally positive when describing my concept of “God”, but I wonder why is your concept of “god” overwhelmingly negative?

Steve is an atheist, which as far as I understand it simply says: there is no god.

I don’t believe in elves, but I don’t have a particularly hostile concept of what they might be if they existed.

I’m an erstwhile Neo-Pagan, (and ethnic Jew) and I *do* have a moderately hostile view of what elves might be like, if they existed according to the original myths describing them. (Hint: Tolkien created a more-or-less new concept of elves.)

The Celtic version is perhaps most sympathetic, describing elves as basically another race of humans, inhabiting a world which was partly identified with the afterlife. The German version, however, has faeries as nature spirits/demigods, who if not properly apeased, could be very nasty indeed. Think of the back-story for Grimm’s “Hawthorn Rose”, (later corrupted as “Sleeping Beauty”) where the uninvited “thirteenth guest” curses the princess. The Greek equivalent to “elves” would be the dryads, nymphs, etc, also known for screwing people over. Shakespeare gives a similar riff in _Midsummer Night’s Dream_.

The point here is that such mythic entities are defined by their stories, and accordingly can be judged by those stories. The connection to the JCM God is that, despite the drastic fragmentation of the tradition, each believer continues to define (their) God by the stories s/he chooses to tell about their God. If your idea of God is represented by such stories as Ezekiel siccing bears on little children, or the Israelites being commanded to commit genocide, well that’s not a very nice God at all. If you instead choose to tell about the forgiveness of sinners, healing of the sick, etc. – well, that’s another story entirely. ;-)

The problem in a modern context is that the early Christian leaders made a number of compromises over the centuries, selecting those stories which allowed them to “make deals” with local rulers – notably, retaining the pagan idea that a king was also the representative of God (“divine right”). As the Church grew, it also started to select stories that directly reinforced its own power (i.e., no path to Heaven except through Jesus). The result of these selections was to progressively tilt the individualistic (Promethean) faith seen in the original mythology, eventually converting it back into an authoritarian (Jovian) religion. (Note that Prometheus himself retained his role as the eternal rebel, but was cast into Hell, under his Roman name of Lucifer.)

Anyone who tried to argue with this was of course declared a heretic, subject to the full retaliation of the Church. Unfortunately for the Church, they didn’t (and still don’t) actually have the power to slay all unbelievers and heretics. This is why they’ve suffered a steady stream of schisms, as the original Promethean strain keeps re-emerging despite the best efforts of the Church rulership. Of course, many of the splinter religions later modified themselves toward Jovian form, in the interest of taking and holding secular power.

Interestingly, Jesus himself was rebelling against the authority of the Jewish priests, a classic Jovian authority. But the destruction of the Jewish Temples, as the Christians continued the Roman oppression of the Jews, wound up converting Judaism into a mostly Promethean faith! And despite the efforts of modern Israeli authorities, it remains so – which is why American Jews (or Israeli Jews, for that matter) are *not* lined up behind the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, despite much effort from such religious authorities as they still recognize. Some Jews support it, some don’t, but I think almost all Jews still recognize the issue as a matter for individual choice.

Roger Wrote:

Wayne: the passage you quoted doesn’t say anything about “damning” anyone. Is this the only verse you are talking about are are there others?

Here you maybe able to shed some light on this verse as no one, as of yet, has been able to. I’m working out the problem as I see it.

John 3:18, and many other verses, says if you do not believe then you are condemed. The bible reads out that if you do not worship then you are damned. If you interpret it differently then that is your choice. I actually interpret it as not being what god would mean.

So if you are damned and given what Deut 5:9-10 says…well I’m just putting 2 and 2 together. Perhaps I’m miss interpretating Deut 5:9-10 and god will give out candy to 4 generations, sorry sarcastic humour. I just don’t know how else to take it given the context.

Roger Wrote:

Not to meddle in your personal affairs…

Seems the Born Again Christians here in Australia are a little less bible thumping then in the US. She sent me her phone number and pointed out we think alike in that we like talking about our beliefs but don’t like to force them on others. So we’ll see what happens next. Oh and it isn’t meddling …I layed it out for comments :)

David: Actually I was thinking about Santa’s elves! : ) Then again, maybe they’re sneaky, little nymphs too!

Question for you… something I’ve been curious about for quite some time… what is an “ethnic Jew”. How is that defined?

Wayne writes: “John 3:18, and many other verses, says if you do not believe then you are condemed.” Maybe it would help to back up a bit… the way I understand the Biblical teaching is that everyone is “condemned” because everyone is guilty of sin. That means everyone, even Mother Teresa. But just 1 verse prior to the one you are quoting has Jesus saying: “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

In other words, we’re already condemned, compliments of our sin. Jesus is saying “I came to save the world, not condemn it.” Again, I point out that Jesus is a merciful and compassionate judge.

You continue: “The bible reads out that if you do not worship then you are damned. If you interpret it differently then that is your choice.”

Where does it say that? My concept of worship, in order for it to be genuine, would have to flow freely out of a greatful heart. Someone who is truly thankful to God for his free gift would willingly “worship”. The idea that God demands worship goes against my understanding of the Biblical God. What’s the point of creating beings with a free choice if you demand worship of them?

I also don’t think you’ll find a verse that teaches lack of “worship” will damn you. It’s sin that damns us. But again, the Bible says we’re all in the same boat with regard to sin, not just those who don’t “worship”, and Jesus says, “I’m not here to condemn the world, I’m here to save it.”

As far as “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” …I’m not a theologian, but it reads to me that God will “punish” those who hate him (or his chosen nation of Isreal) in THIS life. In effect he’s saying: You mess with Isreal, you mess with me and you’ll pay for 3 or 4 generations, but if you love me and keep my commandments (even if you’re not a part of the nation of Isreal)I’ll show compassion on you for a thousand generations (verse 10). To me, the point of the passage is the contrast: Look, the God of the Jews is the only God and he’s not to be taken lightly. BUT he’s also compassionate. In fact his compassion FAR outweighs his anger.

Wayne: You better be careful! I’ve been praying that God would send someone in your life to show you he exists! : )

Couple questions on evolution.…

What would you say is the BEST evidence in support of evolution?

If you don’t mind answering this one… what is the best argument or evidence you’ve ever heard in favor of creationism?

Take care!

David: Your thoughts are very provocative! You write: “The problem in a modern context is that the early Christian leaders made a number of compromises over the centuries, selecting those stories which allowed them to “make deals” with local rulers — notably, retaining the pagan idea that a king was also the representative of God (“divine right”).”

Are you suggesting that the Bible itself was edited, altered or censored through the centuries to bring it in line with certain political power centers or merely that church doctrine, protocol, liturgy, etc. was?

roger Wrote:

what is an “ethnic Jew”. How is that defined?

“Judaism” is usually thought of as a religion, but it is also a cluster of ethnic groups, which have maintained fairly good cohesion over many centuries of dispersal and oppression. My own family are Ashkenazi Jews, (the Eastern-European branch) but we’re fairly assimilated – my grandparents stopped following the kosher laws, and the trend has continued to where I don’t even go to Yom Kippur services anymore. (My last time was the year after my father’s death, when I went to participate in the “Mourner’s Kaddish”.) I’ve explored Neo-Paganism, but I’m most comfortable with a naturalistic worldview, and don’t practice any of the religious aspects of Judaism.

But… those practices don’t define “what is a Jew”, they are just things that (by faith and tradition) a Jew “ought” to be doing. The official rule is that if your mother is a Jew, then so are you, whether or not you believe, practice, or even know your heritage. Someone who converts away from Judaism is considered to have “left the tribe”, but they can always come back – there is no excommunication. (Converting to Judaism is possible, but purposely difficult, and we do not proselytize.) So, not going to temple, keeping kosher, etc. means that I’m not a “good Jew”, but I am still a Jew.

I did grow up in a community where there were a lot of other Jews, and so I still identify with the ethnicity and parts of the culture. Notably, I’m big on the education ethic, and I never got infected with the Christian concept of “sin”. I hope that if/when I have children of my own, I will give them at least that much of my own cultural heritage. And so, I call myself an “ethnic Jew”, as distinguished from an “observant Jew” who follows the various rituals and commandments.

roger Wrote:

Are you suggesting that the Bible itself was edited, altered or censored through the centuries to bring it in line with certain political power centers or merely that church doctrine, protocol, liturgy, etc. was?

Both! I will admit that the history of Christianity is very much not my field, but even I know about the Council of Nice, where the bishops of the time, in cooperation with the Emperor Constantine determined which of the many scriptures of the time would be considered “books of the Bible”, and relegated the others to the status of “Apocrypha”. A bit of Googling indicates this is properly called the First Council of Nicea. The lengthy material at BrainyEncyclopedia includes this comment:

The first Council of Nicaea is conspicuous as the starting point for the great doctrinal controversies of the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries. Here a union between the ecclesiastical potency of the councils and the State was effected, vesting the deliberations of this body with imperial power. Earlier synods had been contented with protection against heretical doctrines; but the Council of Nice is characterized by the further step from a defensive position to positive decisions and minutely elaborated articles of faith.

In the centuries since then, there have been many other occasions when secular rulers have forced the Catholic and other Christian churches to the negotiation table; the most troublesome case I know if is the “doctrine of papal infallibility” (DPI). As I originally heard the story, DPI was motivated by the desire of secular rulers to have a stable religious canon that couldn’t be undercut by dissension within the ranks of the Church. Even at the time, some of the bishops argued that DPI was unwise, because the Church might be saddled with doctrines that would conflict with future developments in world society. (As it turned out, the policy on contraception fits that description!)

I Wrote:

… even I know about the Council of Nice, where the bishops of the time, in cooperation with the Emperor Constantine determined which of the many scriptures of the time would be considered “books of the Bible”, and relegated the others to the status of “Apocrypha”.

Whoops! On reading further in the BrainyEncyclopedia entry, I find that I have apparently been caught by a fairly old, but false, legend. I find that I do not in fact know *when* the various denominations chose which of the scriptures would be considered canonical, apocryphal, etc. The point remains that at various times, such choices were made by the denominations, and on general principles, I have little doubt that there were political implications to the choices.

Roger Wrote:

Couple questions on evolution . … What would you say is the BEST evidence in support of evolution? If you don’t mind answering this one … what is the best argument or evidence you’ve ever heard in favor of creationism?

Roger, I am still giving you the benefit of the doubt, but you must understand that most people who frequent these forums, avoid simple questions, yet phrase their own questions in the way you have, are deliberate anti-evolution strategists.

In previous posts I recommended some books and links where you can decide for yourself what the best evidence for evolution is. If you want my opinion, it is no one piece of evidence, but the “convergence, neither sought nor fabricated” of multiple lines of independent evidence. Incidentally, and ironically to some, the phrase in quotes is from Pope John Paul II’s acceptance of evolution. Keep in mind that “evolution” has several definitions, including some that science does NOT use, such as “microevolution only” or “excludes a creator.” Not that it alone should influence you, but the Pope clearly accepts “macroevolution,” an old earth, and of course, God.

The evidence for “macroevolution” is overwhelming, and to date no one, repeat no one, has satisfied even one Dr. Theobald’s dozens of potential falsifiers:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

The claims that are made against evolution, which do not falsify it but merely misrepresent it, are answered here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html

Now to my opinion on “the best argument in favor of creationism”: It depends on which of the mutually contradictory creationisms you mean. I have never heard a reasonable one for YEC, which misrepresents not only biology, but geology and cosmology too. But there are arguments for OEC-independent origins that at least attempt to be scientific:

http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/korthof56.htm http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/korthof58.htm

They are not well supported by the evidence, however, and since they don’t employ the false dichotomy of “creation/evolution” they are technically not “creationisms.” So the best one for me is that of “evolutionary creationism,” which accepts evolution as science defines it, and adds that a Creator is responsible. I find the argument to be valid as long as it does not pretend that the Creator (or designer) part has been scientifically concluded. Efforts to do that have resulted in both false positives and false negatives. Apparently God still will not be outsmarted by mere humans, and thus needs to be taken on faith.

Fiona, Thanks for the links. Although I never get it about how “those” people feel, when I attend the services in these new super sized born again churchs, it is easy to understand why so many are attracted to it. The energy is as intense as at a rock concert, but the chemicals are internal. The people are friendly and apparantly interested in you with lots of intense eye contact and touching (hand shakes, shoulder holding, hugging). There is a giant screen on which are projected the lyrics for all the songs sung (lots). There are groups of girls signing the songs for the deaf (choreographed yet). The sermons are very animated. Although the few I have attended were in the heart of white areas, the flock contained many who were not. As a college student I had lived near a black Baptist church and their service seems a prototype for these I see now, the later on a much larger scale. How different this seems from the services I see when my catholic grandson graduates and the priest drones on and everyone seems so required to be there rather than glad (yes, another son married a catholic, so we get to see that side too). Enough rambling. There is no sorrow here, life is too short to worry about each path through it. Logic vs Faith, irreconcilable.

Fiona Wrote:

Eventually, neuroscientists will confirm that one of our neurotransmitters causes people to “believe” or feel the “need to believe.”

What else has your crystal ball revealed to you?

Robert O'Brien Wrote:

What else has your crystal ball revealed to you?

You might not believe it but there maybe a gene that effects just such a trait in you. But then agian even if they do find a gene that influenses an individuals likelyhood to accept religion blindly you would not believe it even if the numbers matched up 99.9%

They’ve found the gene that makes microtus ochrogaster a monogamy animal. Dopamine, vasopressin and oxytocin already are known to effect social aspects of humans such as bonding and love. Doctors really could give you drugs to make it easier for you to fall in love. Now oxytocin is the same hormone is produced by the prarie voles and many other mammals when involved in bonding exersises.

In voles the vomeronasal organ is used to detect genetic differences in each other, humans have this organ too and from test it seems it might not be vestigial (more on this later). When they smell an unrelated vole of the opposite sex their adrenal medulla releases norepinephrine into their system, the same thing happens in humans especially in sexual encounters with a new partner. After this intense meeting their cortisol levels drop. This effect will hense forth happen every time the two voles are around eachother. Humans actually have a similiar reaction to social contact with eachother, a hug really is good for you. Oxytocin is released into the system further building upon the euphoria experienced along with dopamine. Dopamine is the wonderful stuff in our brains that not only helps transmit nerve signals from one nerve cell to another but its a bit of and upper as well. So the next time you are intimate with your significant other and you hit that height of pleasure know that your brain is being flooded with dopamine, I believe this is one reason we seem to be at a heighten state of sensativity after the act of making love, all our nerves in our brain are supercharged and pass on the slightest signal they recieve.

Back to our voles. The combination of dopamine and oxytocin and the receptors for oxytocin the the voles brain make the vole basically addicted to their partner. Vasopressin also is a third actor in this whole situation of love addiction. But even as they are monogomous socially they are not monogomous sexually. Both male and female will still be unfaithful to eachother but will live with eachother for life. Hmmm alot like humans

Now the gene found has to do with the production of receptors for oxytocin and vasopressin. The more receptors the easier it is to become addicted becuase the release of these hormones into your system will effect you more. How long do you think it will be before they track down what is exactly going on in us when we bond. We already know that autism is associated with an inability to bond with others socially.…should it be any suprise that the genes that effect receptors of these 3 hormones are also the genes that we have identified as being responsible for/contributing to autism, A.D.D., manic depression and others?

All this doesn’t make love any less in my eyes. It does explain to me why some people fall in love easier then others and helps me deal with my own relationships.

Oooops sorry I didn’t proof read that. 1am, I should be in bed. Night all

But then agian even if they do find a gene that influenses an individuals likelyhood to accept religion blindly

Note the slanter.

They’ve found the gene that makes microtus ochrogaster a monogamy animal. Dopamine, vasopressin and oxytocin already are known to effect social aspects of humans such as bonding and love. Doctors really could give you drugs to make it easier for you to fall in love.

That’s nice, but I consider research done on the interface of biology and behavioral “sciences” to be about as credible as divinations using a magic 8-ball.

I consider research done on the interface of biology and behavioral “sciences” to be about as credible as divinations using a magic 8-ball.

Cool. Then you’ll be very understanding when your psychotic neighbor, who feels the same way, refuses to take his prescribed medication, breaks into your house some night, and urinates on your face.

GWW Wrote:

Cool. Then you’ll be very understanding when your psychotic neighbor, who feels the same way, refuses to take his prescribed medication, breaks into your house some night, and urinates on your face.

Please, leave me out of your scatological fantasies.

Please, leave me out of your scatological fantasies.

Huh??? I am typically a participant in my scatalogical fantasies, not an observer. And dumbass creationists aren’t allowed to join in the fun.

I was just trying to let you see how transparently fake your anti-science comments are, Bob. I’m guessing you can do better, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. Good luck.

Question:

If there really is something to what Dembski has to say about detecting design, then shouldn’t some version of his math be able to distinguish a coded message from random gibberish? (NOTE: I don’t know if it can or can’t)

I’d think it would be simple enough to test this, if we could encode a couple of chapters of some famous works (there are several available through the Gutenberg project) and encode some random nonsense, and turn this data loose on some computer running stuff through his equations.

This may have already been proposed or tried, but if so I haven’t heard of it yet.

I’d think it would be simple enough to test this, if we could encode a couple of chapters of some famous works (there are several available through the Gutenberg project) and encode some random nonsense, and turn this data loose on some computer running stuff through his equations.

Or how about this: generate a hundred pages of random characters. Then pick out a string of characters. Say, the following string:

iviscedscklsdfdfsjmklssdlkmosdlfsmdsdfmsll ciglixlxlcclxls.

Then write a code which will allow this string of characters to stand for the phrase, “Dembksi is a dork. Love, Great White Wonder.”

Then stick the characters back into the hundred pages of randomly generated characters and ask Dembski to find the secret message.

Seriously, though, it’s not “design” that Dembski wants to empircally detect, it’s “intelligence.” And no one doubts that intelligent design can be detected under certain circumstances. But there are also circumstances where intelligent design CAN’T be detected unless you have knowledge of the designer. For example, I can take a tree and break a couple of its branches so it functions as a clothes line for drying my clothes. But so can an animal trying to climb the tree. After the fact, given only a picture of the tree, there is no way to tell if it was “intelligently designed” or if it’s appearance is just the result of fate.

In some ways what Dembksi is doing is what Duchamp did when he signed the name “R. Mutt” to a urinal. Dembski wants to sign God’s name to every living thing on the planet. The profound difference between Duchamp and Dembski, however, is their motivation: Duchamp encourages us to think but Dembski encourages us to stop thinking (and start worshipping).

Detecting intelligent design is all fine and dandy when it comes to detecting the handiwork (or paw-work, or beak-work) of humans or animals because we are all familiar with the ways in which the intelligence of these beings can be expressed. But detecting the handiwork of entities whose existence is purely a matter of faith and whose “intelligence” is entirely uncharacterized and arguing that this information isn’t necessary?

It’s Dembski’s failure to appreciate this gaping hole in his theory which marks him for all time as one of the world’s greatest idiots.

Plenty of mathematician philosophers have tried to prove the existence of god. They’ve all failed. Dembski has tried and failed. And claims he’ll soon succeed. Do you think he’ll be remembered like Descartes?

I’m not fond of Dembski at all, actually. I was just wondering if this particular test had been tried (I have the same leanings here as Great White Wonder).

Thanks for the input!

Robert O'Brien Wrote:

That’s nice, but I consider research done on the interface of biology and behavioral “sciences” to be about as credible as divinations using a magic 8-ball.

Hmm you will not accept hard facts when there are links between biology and psychology that challenge your views. But when someone like Dembski comes along and throws some formula’s up into the air and says “See I came up with these formulas that prove evolution is false” when they don’t do any such thing you praise him for his genius when there is nothing really being shown.

You have to wonder why people believe a man that says something like “I’ve got this vague idea of something but I can’t prove it. I’ll leave that up to other people to fill in the details. When no one does, even among his supporters. We get promised the details when he gets around to it.

That’s kind of like going to buy a painting and the painter gives you a almost blank canvas and says “I imagine this to be a mountain scene with a creek running through the forest in the foreground. I’ll leave you to finish it off ok. Oh by the way the canvas will cost you $10,000 because I’m so great and have this vague idea of what I want other people to do to prove I’m great”

Robert O'Brien Wrote:

Well, your posts lead me to believe you lack the native intelligence.

Mark Perakh Wrote:

Several Amiel Rossow’s essays as well as discussion letters have been posted to Talk Reason.

Quod erat demonstrandum

Robert lets put the point another way.

Mental illness is a contributing factor in about 1/3 of murders. This isn’t that surprising seeing ~1/5 people have had a mental illness at some point in there life.

Schizophrenia is a serious but often misunderstood metal illness. About 10% of schizophrenics end up committing suicide. About 2% of schizophrenics will become violent if left untreated. Schizophrenia is easily treatable by medication. One of these medications being thiothixene. The number of cases where you see violent crimes being committed by schizophrenics on medication compared to those that have lapsed it is quiet obvious that the biological treatment of the patients certainly does effect their psychological state.

So I guess if you, or anyone you know and love gets murdered or assaulted by a schizophrenic that is not taking the medication they should, not saying all schizophrenics need medication, then no big deal. The fact that the murder or assault could have been prevented in most medical practitioners eyes means nothing to you. Because what do they know. They are just doctors and psychologists that just make up these numbers to keep themselves employed.

It must be nice to live in a fantasy world where you can ignore the facts and when someone you do know is affected by some incident like I described above you can just say “God works in mysterious ways”

For me personally I’ll go for the having the chronic paranoid schizophrenic next door taking his medication rather then pray to god that I’ll be protected from him. Hmmm if you think prayer will help you do you not wear your seatbelt and just pray to god that if you are hit you’ll be miraculously thrown from the car safely? I mean if you can ignore the numbers in one place you surely could ignore/refuse to believe the statistics of seat belts, air bags and other safety equipment.

Our philosopher friend Pigliucci has some interesting things to say about Dembski. The great thing about IDiots publishing books, as opposed to just web pages is, when they say something like ‘a string of the first 100 prime numbers would unambiguously prove intelligence’, they can’t suddenly delete it a week later while everyone’s laughing.

http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/~massimo[…]-design.html

While I haven’t thought about it enough yet to agree or disagree, Massimo’s most interesting point is that Irreducible Complexity is what lets us separate man-made objects from natural ones–a Movado watch exhibits IC, while the dog chewing on it doesn’t.

With regard to the DDD V post, Pim wrote:

This posting was meant to share my surprise about the use of an intelligent design proponent as ‘opposing views’. Within the context of the issue, Keller’s position may indeed qualify as ‘an opposing view’.

Or not. I vehemently disagreed with this last statement and explained my reasons for disagreeing with this position in some detail. I apologize, Pim, if I “shocked” or “offended” you or anyone else with my prose. The writers I admire most are Burroughs, Celine and Crowley and I guess it shows.

I think it’s established at this point, Pim, that you and I disagree about the merits of addressing in great detail the “scientific and mathematical arguments presented by creationists,” versus addressing the motivations and deceptive tacks employed by these … er, “well-intentioned or just plain skeptical” folks.

Here’s a question for anyone who cares to defend Ms. Keller: why should we give Ms. Keller extra credit for not joining the most extreme fringe of anti-science creationists and refusing to recommend the teaching of intelligent design in schools (if, in fact, that is what she did?)???? That’s just common sense.

As Jack Krebs pointed out, Ms. Keller is on board with the following statement:

The public has been assured, most recently by spokespersons for PBS’s Evolution series, that “all known scientific evidence supports [Darwinian] evolution” as does “virtually every reputable scientist in the world.”

The following scientists dispute the first claim and stand as living testimony in contradiction to the second. There is scientific dissent to Darwinism. It deserves to be heard.

What is this “scientific” dissent that Ms. Keller is referring to? And why does it deserve to be heard by PBS’ viewing audience any more than the “scientific” view that we are all puppets engaged in a great play for God’s benefit? Or that ESP is real and we can communicate with the dead?

I’m dying to know.

Also, I thought I made some interesting points about “fairness” and the polarization of debate in the United States which (ironically) are now lost in cyberspace. Maybe, Pim, you can stick the post here on the wall, after you delete whatever comments you find most loathesome. Unfortunately I didn’t save a copy but I wish I had.

Per request of GW:

Comments:

I understand your passion and your convictions, but realize there are others as passionate and convinced of the correctness of their position. Polarization however popular lately in politics, does not seem to be the answer.

I am not sure what the “answer” is either, Pim.

But lamenting the “polarization” of the ID “debate” misses the point, in my opinion. The “debate” is “polarized” from the beginning because that is the way that the ID creationists have set the debate up: “Here are two theories. The big bad scientific community only wants you to hear their theory because our theory makes them look bad.”

A worthwhile producte debate about this “controversy” would be a debate over how rotten, how dishonest, and how sleazy these ID creationists and their attacks on scientists really are.

Your comment about polarization in politics is noted but my opinion (an easily justified one) is that the polarization you observe in U.S. politics is largely due to the fact that our media here, under awesome pressure from conservative groups, believes that the only way to be “objective” is to allow each “side” to present its “views” relating to ANY issue, regardless of whether there is any truth or merit to those “views.” In other words, the media/journalists/reporters don’t do any investigating on their own anymore – they just report the two “opposing views.”

This is a disease state, obviously, especially when most people get their “news” from sources which are owned by one of a handful of mega-entities, all of whom place their own self-interest (profits) at the top of their list of concerns.

Returning back to the main topic, my “view” is that the entire DDS conference is a sham for a bunch of charlatans to sell their snake oil (and books) to an ignorant Christian public eager to believe that “reputable scientists” exist who are

The problem is that the only possible way that these scientists could be considered “reputable” is if **for some reason** their peers in the scientific community refuse to state publicly: “You know what? I think [insert X] is a charlatan who wants more than anything to have his religious views taught in schools and who should be ashamed to call himself a serious [insert discipline]”

Comments about Keller deleted

The question is just how damaging to the public discourse is this fake fairness? I submit to you that it is severely damaging, far worse than the situation where propoganda is spewed out by a universally recognized propoganda machine.

Any TRUE debate between a genuine reputable scientist and any of these fakers should begin with the statement that, “I’m flattered by the opportunity to debate [insert faker], but I want to state for the record that I think that [faker] is a True Believer who would dissemble at every opportunity before admitting that [faker’s] agenda is really to promote his religious beliefs at the expense of truth and reason.”

And the terms of the debate should never be allowed by the scientist to stray very far from that level because to the extent it goes anywhere else, the wrong subject is being debated and the discussion will become, as you stated above, “self-destructive.”

And just to clarify: my deleted comments about Ms. Keller were directed to her genuineness in view of the signed statement alluded to above and in view of her willingness to appear as a proponent of “the opposing view” at the DDD conference. It should go without saying, but of course I did not make any disparaging remarks which related to her gender or use any other irrelevant epithets.

And I apologize again to Pim for forcing him to spend his valuable time sanitizing his post (which was an interesting post, as usual).

I apologize for my strong opinions that the word liar or lying requires extraordinary evidence, evidence seldomly available to us. People may accuse me of lying and I can handle. Just something personal…

Two comments

1. We do not know if Keller is aware of how her contribution is represented by DDD V

2. Keller’s position may indeed be ‘opposing view’ depending on the view supported by the conference. If the view is that ID can and should be taught legally then her viewpoint indeed is opposing. However her position which as far as I can tell seems to be close to ‘teach the controversy’ may hardly be representative of the opposing view to the present day ID position.

What I have been able to gather on Keller’s position is that she strongly believes that ideology should stay outside of science. I can support such a viewpoint.

My surprise was not so much with Keller but rather with how the conference organizers seemed to represent her position.

From the program the reigning position seems to be

Why it is legal to teach the controversy: David DeWolf, J.D. Why it is illegal to suppress it: John Calvert, J.D.

I wonder if Keller would object to how they seem to present her view as opposing, in the context of the conference

The other is whether this fascinating subject is one that should be hidden from the view of rising young naturalists that are attending public schools. Should those institutions seek to inform students about this intellectually stimulating scientific controversy, or should they be provided only with a bland diet of information which supports a naturalistic world view that happens to support non-theistic religions and belief systems. A number of educators will discuss education models that will bring students into the discussion so that they will truly be informed rather than indoctrinated and two lawyers will address the legal issues. Consistent with objectivity, we will also hear the other side of the argument - why some think that science education should exclude critical analysis of evolution and limit its offering to ideas and theories embraced by recognized institutions of science.

It’s hard to imagine that given the rhetoric in the above paragraph that there is a serious intent to deal with the issues in an objective manner.

Interesting comments on cell biology by a chemist.

http://www.corante.com/pipeline/arc[…]ications.php

I saw a comment somewhere, which I have now lost (I am new to navigating this site). It pointed out quite rightly that the Mousetrap analogy is a very poor one, because mousetraps don’t reproduce- very true; but then also said that the parts do not interact with each other of their own accord: I think a Creationist (or anyone) might dispute that, and point out that they in fact do, and that Paley’s watch is an even better example of interacting parts. Might I suggest that the commentator should have phrased it that the parts do not interact at a biochemical level (which is the level at which life occurs),- but merely a coarse mechanical level?

New story about a case of a baby born with a tail. In this case, about 4” long.

http://www.news.com.au/common/story[…]3762,00.html

According to an ARNP ex-girlfriend, this is not as rare as you might think. In the US they’re snipped off at birth. A cute irony to think that statistically, there’s probably a rabid creationist out there who had a little monkey tail at birth.

Of course, you wouldn’t snip that particular one off, because there are vertebrae and a few muscles in it.

There are many people, including scientists, (as well as the Pope), who accept the validity of Evolution while still believing in the existence of God. They do this convenient piece of pidgeon-holing by not furthur developing the definitions of Evolution as well as the definition of God.It is assumed that “God” means Creator and Sustainer of life, because this is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition.I maintain that Evolutionary theory removes the vaildity of this type of God, and the God-concept can only be retained by demoting his attribute of Creator-Sustainer,- as this function is far better explained by Evolutionary theory. So it is only valid to believe in this reduced type of God if you wish to be considered an Evolutionist. The reason I maintain this idea is because I consider Evolution broadly, to be a completely random and non-teleological process, and I do not accept that a random process can be created or sustained.: it is a contradition; an oxymoron. We know that in local terms, natural selection builds complexity from mutations and variation generally. Unless you want to believe that God interferes regularly with each minute biochemical change, variation must be considered random and naturalistic. similarly Natural Selection occurs naturally, through random changes in ecological environment aspects, eg temperature, geological formations, and other habit changes,- unless of course you believe that God once again interferes minutely in every habitat change. The conclusion of this little thesis is that Evolution logically entails Atheism,- in terms of the traditional God of the Bible.

Oh, Wadsworth. Don’t you know Matthew 10:29? It is you, not evolution, who is trying to limit God’s part to “interfering”.

Wadsworth, you neglect to recognize a few things. I don’t see a problem with god and evolution. No more then I see myself as bad programmer when I develop/use an algorithm to come up with a solution to a problem quickly. The one I use in the current system I am developing randomly picks different locations on the solution landscape. The algorithm is a modified hill climber. Most of the solutions just try to climb but by default 20% will traverse down hill for a margin to see if there are adjacent hills. Very quickly I can come up with solutions that are within 90% of the optimal solution in very large fitness landscapes. This process can run without intervention or can be tweaked by the operator. Consistently the algorithm finds better solutions then the human operator came up with without the system.

Now I don’t see any reason God couldn’t work the same way. God knows the outcome god wants. God knows the rules by which the system operates, God did define the rules. God can at any point influence the system via parameters. Lastly if God is all knowing then really god is just setting in motion something that God knows the end result of. None of this makes God any lesser of a God. “Creator and Sustainer of life” is also not in conflict with this. It is you that is “pigeon-holing”,[spelling in quote corrected] God by saying that God can’t create and sustain the universe in any way that God chooses.

Personally I think we put ourselves to close to “God”. We assume that we are the pinnacle of God’s creation. Why is it not possible that purpose for the universe has little to do with us? Does that make God any less of a god? Even if we are the focus of God why is our current biological form the “teleological”. Heck when I read the bible it seems that God is more concerned with our spiritual development then biological development. That is something that is separate from biological evolution at this point. Even if scientists find a biochemical reason for the gravitation of people to concepts of religion does this have any impact on God? Not in my view. God could still have designed that in. I’m not saying this is the way it is. I’m saying is just one of probably and infinite number of answers. You seem to have a black and white view and think there is only 2 sides of this table. With the number of religions that are actively being practiced out there you have to admit that there is more then just the 2 sides.

STATEMENT OF JOHN KERRY, VIETNAM VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR (Jan 31, 1971)

“Mr. KERRY. Thank you very much, Senator Fulbright, Senator Javits, Senator Symington, Senator Pell. I would like say for the record, and also for the men behind me who are also wearing the uniforms and their medals, that my sitting here is really symbolic.. I am not here as John Kerry. I am here as one member of the group of 1,000, which is a small representation of a very much larger group of veterans in this country, and were it possible for all of them to sit at this table they would be here and have the same kind of testimony.

I would simply like to speak in very general terms. I apologize if my statement is general because I received notification yesterday you would hear me and I am afraid because of the injunction I was up most of the night and haven’t had a great deal of chance to prepare.

WINTER SOLDIER INVESTIGATION

I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the “Winter Soldier Investigation.”

(http://www.wintersoldier.com)

The term “Winter Soldier” is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.”

Creationists are often accused of “quote mining” and this demonstrates that Republicans are pretty good at it too. In their new ad, they conveniently take Mr. Kerry’s remarks out of context.

From:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/a[…]CLE_ID=40094 “What they have done (in this ad) is they’ve taken a piece of John Kerry’s testimony, left out the part that says he was reporting, repeating the testimony that was given in Detroit at the Winter Soldier hearings, and presented it as his. And that’s wrong.”

My predictions: 1. Kerry will be elected with 58% of the popular vote. 2. Nader will drop out and turn his people over to Kerry. 3. McCain will turn on Bush and come out for Kerry.

If you want to help, copy this information and post it on every newsgroup and on every weblog that you can

Also…

The Fourth Estate (the journalists) have let us down. The news media is controlled by powerful interests that control the agendas of reporting and investigative journalists. One has only to look at Fox News to see the truth. But it’s more insidious when it happens on CNN or NBC (see http://www.dailyhowler.com) But we have the internet and it belongs to us. No one can censor us or deceive us here. Let’s use this powerful tool to spread the truth. There are hundreds of newsgroups and blogs read by countless numbers of people. When you uncover a lie, or find an important truth, post it. Someone, somewhere will read it and maybe be informed. Post the URL’s of responsible journalistic websites like salon.com and others who don’t lie. It is not a time for timidity, but a time for action. We changed the course of history in Viet-Nam and we can do it again today. This is a turning point in history, whether you realize it or not. Make it go the right way. (And if you have any friends, relatives or even enemies in any battlegroud states, lean on them with the truth.)

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This page contains a single entry by Prof. Steve Steve published on July 21, 2004 11:36 AM.

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