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Creation Wars -- the result

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William Crawley | 18:56 UK time, Sunday, 10 December 2006

darwinasmonkeysmall.jpgIt's hard to know what the result was. Andy McIntosh, from the creationist group Truth in Science, proved to be more evasive in our interview than I'd expected. At times, it seemed like he didn't want to any answer questions directly, if at all. Then Richard Dawkins launched a pretty personal attack on his credibility by saying -- essentially -- that it was a disgrace that a great British university should employ as a professor someone with Andy McIntosh's views. McIntosh is professor of chemical engineering at Leeds University's school of engineering and technology, so one would expect that his personal views on evolutionary biology never make an appearance in his teaching.

But at one point Dawkins challenged him on the Second Law of Thermodynamics and McIntosh appeared to argue that the Second Law ("The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium") contradicts evolution. Some creationists have been arguing this for years, but -- Dawkins exclaimed -- here was a professor of Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory now making the claim. Some members of the audience came to McIntosh's defence -- not so much to defend his views as to express impatience with Dawkins for personalising the debate. In Dawkins's defence, I suppose, it's fair to point out that his name was regularly invoked as a bogeyman by commentators before he even had a chance to speak in the debate. To say the least, there was a lot of rhetorical blood on the carpet by the end of the programme.

A couple of other contributions are worth noting. First, Steve Fuller -- a very clever sociologist of knowledge from Warwick University -- entered the debate to make an argument for teaching intelligent design in science classrooms, even though he is a "secular humanist" (his preferred term over "atheist") and actually disputes ID theory. His argument is that science is a contested business and, throughout history, there has always been space for religious ideas in the teaching of science. Then came Dr Bob Keay, a biblical scholar from Belfast Bible College, who argued that creationists are mis-reading the Bible -- a document which, in fact, does not even address questions of science as we know it. Thus, we had a humanist defending creationism in the schools, and an evangelical theologican arguing that creationism is bad theology. All of which serves to illustrate how unpredictable this debate can get. What did you make of it?

You can listen again to the Creation Wars special here.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 07:40 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Dennis Cooley wrote:

Result: 1-0 to Dawkins. Andy McIntosh fell to pieces under questioning. I laughed out loud when Will just kept asking him how old the earth was! Even the good professor mcintosh had the wit to seem embarassed by his own answer. 6000 years!!!! What planet is he living on? Dawkins was absolutely right to raise a question mark about the standard of education being offered to students in leeds university by a professor who has clearly lost the plot. 2nd law of thermodynamics? Give me a break.

Check out the link in my name for a statement from the university of leeds distancing themsleves from andy mcintosh. It reads:

Professor Andrew McIntosh's directorship of Truth in Science, and his promotion of that organisation's views, are unconnected to his teaching or research at the University of Leeds in his role as a professor of thermodynamics. As an academic institution, the University wishes to distance itself publicly from theories of creationism and so-called intelligent design which cannot be verified by evidence.

  • 3.
  • At 08:27 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • JK wrote:

Hi. This is my first time posting on your blog.

I am a 2nd year Physics Student at Queen's and would class myself as a "Young Earther", which will probably induce some ridicule from other contributors to this blog!

While I very much enjoyed your programme this morning one thing, in my opinion, detracted from the debate; the large number of people featured. At times I got frustrated when someone made a good argument/point and people’s whose opinion I would have liked to have heard were not asked to contribute. This is not a criticism of your hosting in any way – you gave all the participants an equal chance to talk; I just found myself wishing there was less of them to give a chance to speak!

As you will realize from my degree course, I am not in any way qualified to enter into a technical debate about Evolution, even after the many articles etc. I have read on it. Where I can contribute, however, is in the area of things such as the “Big Bang” – a subject I am currently studying, and an area which is very important in the Creation/Evolution debate.

I am not going to go into an exhaustive argument here, but what I will do is make a few points and bring to your attention a few quotes.

My atheist (I think – certainly not a believer in the Christian God) lecturer for this subject started off with the statement, “The big bang is just one of several theories of the Universe. There are others including the steady state theory.” He went on to explain the steady state theory, which I’ll not do here, then said, “Now you make think that that sounds silly. But it is no more silly than the Big Bang model. It’s all a bit silly when you think about it.”

Another small problem with the Big Bang is as follows. If one assumes a massless universe (A silly assumption – bear with me) the Hubble Constant (Related to the expansion of the universe) will give an age for the Universe. This age turns out to be 1.6 x 10^10 years. Now, when you introduce mass to your Universe you bring in gravity. This will affect the model, and after some math, it turns out that the age is about 1.0 x 10^10 years. What’s the problem? Well the problem is that some stars have been calculated to be older than 1.0 x 10^10 years!!

My final thing on the Big Bang comes form the magazine “Physics World” (A “secular” magazine) Vol. 19 No. 11. An article on possible evidence of the Theoretical Particle, the axion: I quote, “In short, if a particle with the kind of properties that the PVLAS experiment implies – namely a small neutrino-like mass and a large photon coupling constant – really was present in the universe, this would be drastically at odds with our current understanding of astro-physics. For example, it would mean that stars such as the Sun would lose energy so quickly that they would burn out within a few thousand years.”
And, “When facing the cold hard fact that modern cosmologists unanimously hail the Big Bang theory as the definitive answer to our origin, yet at the same time recognizing that it only provides an acceptable explanation for about 4% of the accessible universe, we need all the help we can get. Axions could provide us with such a clue.”

Sorry if I have wandered way off topic here, but I may as well try to bring it back a bit with a quote from the same Physics World about Richard Dawkins, made by Physicist Stephen Unwin, criticizing Dawkins for being too certain in his dismissal of the existence of God – “Physicists tend to show greater humility than their colleagues in the less fundamental sciences on the question of completeness of a wholly materialistic world view.”

Again, apologies if this is way off topic; I just felt the need to share it.

JK

  • 4.
  • At 08:43 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Andrew Davidson wrote:

Thought I'd listen in this morning - Sorry I missed Ken Ham. Andy McIntosh didn't say anything incorrect, and wasn't given the time to agrue his point (Although it may have taken a while!), but not much of an orator. Mainly listened to hear Dawkins - not impressed - seemed to be 'preaching' and saying unsubstantiated general statements - had Andy made statements like this he wouldn't have gotten away with it. Dawkins also came across as vindictive (didn't he accuse God of something like that?). Nothing said about the fossil record pointing to a Global flood etc.? Dawkins said words like the earth is 'exactly' 4.6 bil years old, then later says probably 4 bil years - what is it - does't he know? The bible says; Romans 1v18 'For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:' You don't need to be a scientist to see clearly the divine hand in the world around - just open your eyes!!
PS I have a degree and a Masters in engineering so I don't think I'm the bluntest knife in the drawer - nor am I embarrassed in saying the world is likely only around 6000 years old!! The Anwers in Genesis website has some food for thought on this for those with open minds.

  • 5.
  • At 08:47 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

William asks: What did you make of it?

1) The piece on what was being taught about ‘light’ and the ‘sun’ in the Free Presbyterian schools was personally very disturbing given these children are going to have to compete in the modern world. I felt that I was listening to the equivalent of a Pakistani Madrassa. My thoughts then wandered to the moderator of the Free Presbyterian church and the realization that he is about to become First Minister in the political arena. I’ve said this before in an earlier blog - I wonder if NI isn’t moving towards a fundamentalist theocracy.

2) I’m surprised that the question of the “regularity of order” arising out of chaos and "matter and energy leading to information” is still so misunderstood by the creationist side. I mentioned before in these blogs Conway’s Game of Life computer simulation (do a Google search or look on Wikipedia.org for details) which shows that in the presence of ‘rules’, order comes out of chaos. This is not ‘unexpected’ it is the ‘expected’ outcome.

Let me give a simple example:

Imagine a very large playground with 1000 children playing happily half of which are boys . The scene is chaotic. Now imagine that we give each child a ‘rule’ which is that every boy must take the hand of a girl and each girl must take the hand of a boy and once the link is made they must not let go. After a while we will find that we have 1000 children linked hand to hand alternating boy and girl. A ‘pattern’ has developed from the chaos.

Now change the rule to be that each boy must link with a boy on one hand and a girl on the other and the same rule applies for the girls. After much chaotic behavior the playground will eventually come to a different stable pattern.

The pattern depends on the rule.

In this last case now introduce an additional rule that once hand contact has been made the child can not let go if a mistake has been made. Thus if one boy accidentally grabs the hands of two boys instead of one boy and one girl we get a similar pattern as before but it has a single ‘mutation’.

All of the above can take place in a matter of minutes. The universe has numerous physical rules and so over long times extremely complex order will develop.

Which gets us to the basic question which Dawkins punched at in the program. If one states that God created the rules of the universe, one is still left with the question how was God created?

In my view this is the fundamental universal question and it is both a scientific and a philosophical one. Both approaches are valid in tackling it. Scientists must tackle it with the use of models (a term that I have discussed many times in these blogs - Dawkins used the phrase ‘model building’ in the program) and philosophers must tackle it with use of metaphors/myths.

I can’t see with this approach what all the dispute could then be about.

Cordially,
Michael

JK - welcome to the blog
Don't you think you are on the wrong course?
I would suggest that the big bang or any of the other universe origin theories are today in something like the same position as the rainbow was a few centuries ago, as mentioned in the debate.
The view was that it was a reassurrance from god that the storm was over and everything would now be all OK. But science eventually provided an elegant and much more interesting expanation of the beauty of the rainbow, accepted by all. Give me one dissentor and we'll get him certified.
Science has also provided another similiar elegant expanation for the diversity of life, and will - eventually do the same for the origins of life - and indeed your 'big bang' - hopefully with your help.

  • 7.
  • At 09:32 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Voluntary Simpleton wrote:

I was actually in the audience for today's programme and found it an intriguing experience. Being a Buddhist I find the creation/evolution debate somewhat bizarre coming from a tradition with no creation myth and which sees no spiritual benefit in answering the question of our ultimate origins (BTW how come no Buddhists were interviewed for the "other faiths" report of the prog, William?).

I, and I think several other audience members near me, were exasperated by the "fundamentalist" thinking of both the Christian apologists of creationism and the Humanist supporters of Darwinism. The emotional investment that people on both sides of the argument have seems unwarranted from where I stand.

I accept evolutionary theory as being correct - as do most Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and pretty much everyone else. This argument seems to be between a small number of literal minded religious people and an equally small group of vehement holders of anti-religious sentiment. I think the real bogey here is not creationism or darwinism but the apparently insatiable desire of both groups to claim ultimate authority.

Those who detest religion because of the hate that fundamentalism breeds had better be careful that they don't fall into the same trap (Cf. Dawkins unecessarily bitchy attack on McIntosh). And as for those who feel they must prosletyse their bizarre religuous beliefs, they should remember that although everyone has a right to believe what they want, no one has the right to be taken seriously.

  • 8.
  • At 10:48 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Mary Madely wrote:

JK ...

You are raising physical problems with Big Bang theory, yet you have no trouble believing the universe is only 6,000 years old?! Astonishing.

Quite honestly, this is the kind of reasoning Andy McIntosh was trying in this morning's programme. It's ludicrous and should be embarassing to any sensible person.

This from a student of physics? I can only hope you are not planning to become a teacher. If I discovered that my daughter's science teacher believed the earth was 6,000 years old, I would seek to have my child removed from that class and placed in another class with a teacher whose scientific judgement I could trust.

I know that may sound harsh, but it's my honest view.

  • 9.
  • At 10:56 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • JK wrote:

At 09:22 PM on 10 Dec 2006, alan watson wrote:
JK - welcome to the blog
Don't you think you are on the wrong course?

No, I don’t. But you obviously do. Just because I disagree with something that the majority of people
believe to be true? I LOVE physics. I read stuff on it way past the remit of my course. It fascinates me. And I appreciate so much because it gives me a glimpse into the nature of God.


alan watson wrote:
I would suggest that the big bang or any of the other universe origin theories are today in something like the same position as the rainbow was a few centuries ago, as mentioned in the debate.
The view was that it was a reassurrance from god that the storm was over and everything would now be all OK. But science eventually provided an elegant and much more interesting expanation of the beauty of the rainbow, accepted by all. Give me one dissentor and we'll get him certified.

I feel you are missing the point on this one. The rainbow as a reassurance from God – this is why the rainbow is there. What science explains, in the case of the rainbow, is HOW it is here, not why. This is not a suitable metaphor to explain our current debate.


alan watson wrote:
Science has also provided another similiar elegant expanation for the diversity of life, and will - eventually do the same for the origins of life - and indeed your 'big bang' - hopefully with your help.

I see you have a link to a humanist website. Can I ask you a question? Do you ever consider the possibility that you might be wrong?
Before you ask, I do. Almost every day in life I ask myself, “Am I crazy? Have I got this all completely wrong?” Do you?

  • 10.
  • At 10:57 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • kenny G wrote:

What is the Buddhist view of creation and evolution?

  • 11.
  • At 11:08 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Hellenica wrote:

The Sunday Sequence CREATION WARS programme is now being offered on Richard Dawkins' personal website (check the link). Looks like Richard Dawkins is pleased with his performance on the show!!

  • 12.
  • At 11:19 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • JK wrote:

At 10:48 PM on 10 Dec 2006, Mary Madely wrote:
JK ...
You are raising physical problems with Big Bang theory, yet you have no trouble believing the universe is only 6,000 years old?! Astonishing.

I’m glad I’ve astonished you. Maybe you should read up on some recent research about, for example, the non-constancy of the speed of light (and other physical constants such as G) over time and then think about the consequences that this has on current thinking.

Mary Madely wrote:
Quite honestly, this is the kind of reasoning Andy McIntosh was trying in this morning's programme. It's ludicrous and should be embarassing to any sensible person.

Your opinion, which you are entitled to. I disagree.

Which part of my argument is ludicrous?

Mary Madely wrote:
This from a student of physics? I can only hope you are not planning to become a teacher. If I discovered that my daughter's science teacher believed the earth was 6,000 years old, I would seek to have my child removed from that class and placed in another class with a teacher whose scientific judgement I could trust.

Would you rather have a teacher who, when at University, believed blindly everything that they were told, or who thought for themselves and would encourage your child to do the same?

  • 13.
  • At 11:25 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Mary Madely wrote:

JK -

Here's whats ludicrous about your reasonging. You point to an academic debate amongst cosmologists about various available cosmological theories (big bang, steady state, etc.). You then use the fact of this debate to underwrite the credibility of your view (a universe that's only 6,000 years old). Science by its very nature is a debate about various theories, but it doesn't follow because there's a debate that ANY other theory is equally credible. You can be sure that your young earth theory is not on the table when cosmologists evaluate competing theories.

Your reasoning is similar to this: The police are considering three possible suspects in a crime investigation (the butler, the baker, and the butcher). THEREFORE, it makes just as much sense for me to believe the victim died as a result of spontaneous combustion. Notice any problems in the logic of that move?

  • 14.
  • At 11:35 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • JK wrote:

At 11:25 PM on 10 Dec 2006, Mary Madely wrote:
JK -
Here's whats ludicrous about your reasonging. You point to an academic debate amongst cosmologists about various available cosmological theories (big bang, steady state, etc.). You then use the fact of this
debate to underwrite the credibility of your view (a universe that's only 6,000 years old).

You maybe misunderstood me. I was only pointing out the massive flaws in the current best non-God model for the universe’s origins. I was not using this as evidence for my beliefs.


Mary Madely wrote:
Your reasoning is similar to this: The police are considering three possible suspects in a crime investigation (the butler, the baker, and the butcher). THEREFORE, it makes just as much sense for me to believe the victim died as a result of spontaneous combustion. Notice any problems in the logic of that move?

As with an earlier post this is another bad metaphor. Your situation implies that I have no evidence for my belief, but that it is a blind leap of faith. Far from it. There are many evidences which can be interpreted to a young earth viewpoint. It all depends on the interpreter and their bias, which both Creationists and Evolutionists have.

I notice you didn’t answer my final question; Would you rather have a teacher who, when at University, believed blindly everything that they were told, or who thought for themselves and would encourage your child to do the same?

  • 15.
  • At 11:56 PM on 10 Dec 2006,
  • Jonathan Gibson wrote:

Here's my view, for what it's worth. Maybe someone will agree with me.

Today's programme was knockabout stuff. Hilarious in places. Astonishing in other places.

It confirmed my attitude to this issue. We only get one life and we have to decide how to spend our limitied time. I am not going to waste a second of that precious limited time having an argument with someone who seriously believes the earth is flat, or that the moon is made out of green cheese. Life is too short. SO I won't waste my time trying to dissage someone who believes the earth is only six thousand years old, unless that person is a child. In the case of allegedly grown-up adults, I am happy to allow them to continue spouting their nonsense in someone elses face. I walk away ... in the direction of rationality.

If those people actually propose to come into my children's school and tell my kids in a science classroom, "Here's another way to look at this - maybe the universe is only six thousand years old; and, you know, some very sensible people believe that," then I remove my child or I the teacher who is damaging my child's education (and mental health). Let's start labelling this nonsense for what it is.

  • 16.
  • At 01:21 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

I am no longer surprised when in the dead of night, grown men and women who seem perfectly rational, educated, capable, reasoning, critical, and logical in the sunshine revert to frightened children in the darkness contemplating death and the unknown beyond. Nor that they cling tenaciously to any fairy tale which gives them comfort and respite from facing what they know to be true, the finality and eternal blackness of non-existance in inevitable death and the meaninglessness and purposelessness of life and existance itself. It seems to be a truth most humans are genetically unprepared to accept no matter how compelling the evidence for it.

Andrew Davidson #4, you must have slept through the lecture on radioactive decay and carbon dating. It's nice to know that your particular brand of selective knowledge and reasoning is not peculiar to my side of the pond. You won't be hired by any paleontologists, you can be certain of that.

JK#3, you might do well to contemplate the difference between the unknown and the unknowable. It will be your job if you become a physicist to sort out which is which and to explore the unknown to its fullest, leaving the unknowable for those of lesser reasoning powers.

Voluntary Simpleton #7, you are right, the theory of evolution is the only model which fits the evidence at all even if in its current state of development it isn't perfect yet. Like all models, when new evidence does not exactly correlate, either the model needs adjustment or the evidence needs to be better understood. Throwing the model away as the theists would so dearly love leaves the problem that there are no other theories which come even remotely close to being consistant with ALL of the facts no matter how hard they try to twist their own to confrom.

If I hate religion, it's because it rejects observation and logic the methods of science and rational thought, relegating to itself exclusivity in supplying existential answers which are unchallengable, and untestable. As for those who practice it, well I look upon them exactly as they look upon primitive aboriginals. I see no difference except that they had the opportunity to gain knowledge by using their minds by taking advantage of what was available to them and rejected it. It's easier to remain ignorant. Memorizing a book of fairy tales is a lot less challenging than figuring out how to calculate the age of a dinosaur bone.

  • 17.
  • At 01:44 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


JK

Welcome to the blog and congratulations for standing up for yourself and thinking for yourself.

Andrew Davidson, I think I used to play table tennis with you on Fridays many moons ago...? Dont blow my cover please if it is you..


My views on the show;-

1) I was astonished at how Dawkins was unable to answer Professor McIntosh's repeated questions and instead launched into personal attacks. Doesnt say much for his ability in science.

2) Dawkins acknowledges that science has no answer as to where the universe came from or how life began and yet he is giving anti-RE lessons.
Did nobody else find it astonishing he has reached such definitive conclusions without any evidence for or against God when he admits the jury is out on these two key points.

3) Dawkins' bitter attacks on McIntosh and God confirm he has emotional prejudice leading him to these conclusions. Not very scientific.

4) On RTE on Friday night Dawkins nearly fell of his chair when someone read out a passage from his book which said he believed in aliens. He admitted there was no evidence for it but under pressure, he said it was probable, though speculation. How can his judgement as a sound scientist be taken seriously with such double standards for evidence when it suits his purpose?

5) While my faith does not depend on creationism being correct I am highly suspect about evolution. I have repeatedly thrown down the gauntlet on this blog for someone to find me a true missing link which shows man evolved from apes and nobody has yet been able to do it.

6) I also think it is very interesting that secular history and geography both agree with creationism that human civilisation only began around 6000 years ago in the locale of the cradle of civilisation. How much of a coincidence is that? I mean, think of all the locales on the globe and all the epochs in the old earth viewpoint, billions of years, and yet secular geography and history still roughly concur with biblical creationism.


As Andrew says, anyone with an open mind will find over 200 phd or above scientists explaining why they believe in creationism, here;-

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/bios/

PB

  • 18.
  • At 02:14 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Mark

ref post #16 I think you owe Andrew Davidson an apology. Here are six paleontologists who would obviously be quite happy to work with him. You said he could be certain none would ever hire him.

Sort of leaves all the rest of your certainties a little open to question too methinks...

I count six Creationist palentologists on this website;-

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/bios/


Any apology forthcoming Mark?

PB

  • 19.
  • At 03:02 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

The Inquisition knew instinctively it was fighting a rear guard battle over its monopoly on truth which would ultimatley end in the Catholic Church's defeat when it labeled Galileo a heretic. The problem Galileo presented them with was that anyone any time could build a telescope and watch the four largest moons of Jupiter whirl around it and know that the Earth was not the center of the universe and therefore their contention that the creation of man was the ultimate purpose of God in creating the universe itself was suddenly thrown into serious doubt. From a universe which took only six days to create and human existance which counted only 6000 years as they saw it, we now find ourselves having a part in existance so insignificant in time and space without end that it is difficult to demonstrate any purpose to life whatsoever. Twelve and a half billion years of existance, one million years or more of which human life lived on this planet, a trillion galaxies with a trillion stars each, the tiniest grain of sand on the vastest beach has more prominence than our entire world and everything ever in it has in the true scheme of things. The only thing the universe doesn't seem to have room for is God. Where is he now when you need him to perform a miracle or two to prove himself?

The real proof of evolution will not come from comparative anatomy looking at changes in the shape of fossilized bones or the morphology of animals and plants but from tracing the changes in DNA molecules which make up the genetic structure which defines and differentiates one specie from another. And ultimately the chemical reaction which created organic life out of inert matter in the primordial earth will be demonstrated in a laboratory where it will be duplicated at will. And if we do discover that modern humans span different levels of evolutionary development, I am certain that Creationists and ID advocates will be found on the lowermost rungs of that ladder.

  • 20.
  • At 03:04 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb #18, anyone who thinks the world is only 6000 years old isn't paleo enough to be called a paleontologist. They should more appropriately be called..."novelists."

  • 21.
  • At 08:51 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Mark
ref post 20

I doubt you could ever have a clearer example of an evolutionist shifting the goal posts in order to dismiss evidence to cling to his ideology.

First of all you say it is certain that no paleontologist would ever hire andrew davidson and when presented with six you refuse to accept them.

There is no doubts lots of atrocities have been done in the name of God, including violations to science, but that does not in itself disprove creationism.

Perhaps you could advise what are the chances in the trillions of galaxies you mention, how unique is earth in its climate and ability to support the life it does?

Also, I note a few people have been raising the issue of mental health of children; it was my understanding that faith in God is generally accepted to go hand in hand with better mental health.

And if you are seriously going to say creationism per se causes mental disorder you had better show some proper evidence, because I have never seen a serious suggestion of this anywhere.

Otherwise you are engaged in irrational sectarian discrimination when you suggest children's mental health is at stake.

PB

PS Gareth Greer - I notice Leeds university was equally unable to say the Prof's views were wrong. Many people know full well that science has its own accepted high priests and dogmas, and any questioning of them will bring down the axe in this manner, without any fair analysis of the facts. This is a new inquisation.

  • 22.
  • At 10:52 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Voluntary Simpleton wrote:

In reply to Kenny G's question about a Buddhist take on creationism and evolution.

Buddhism is non-theistic and the Buddha famously rejected any notion that knowledge of our ultimate origins would prove useful in alleviating the real spiritual problem that Buddhism seeks to solve - that of suffering in the present. He likened the desire to know how the universe started to a man shot with an arrow refusing to pull it out until he was told who fired it. For Buddhists the important thing is to overcome suffering here and now - when that's done we can start worrying about how we got here.

Buddhism is not a revealed religion like the Middle Eastern faiths and so does not need to defend any divine pronouncements or source text. Indeed, the Buddha's last words were an exhortation to his followers to find out the truth of his teachings for themselves and not to simply take his word for it.

Knowing how the universe came into being is of no relevance to our daily lives - it will not make us any better off on a day-to-day basis. Knowledge of how we developed as a species is of course useful from the point of medical research and I'm sure in other fields. But knowing that god created the world does not make it automatically follow that a literal interpretation of the Bible (or Torah or Koran) is valid. Irrefutable proof of the truth of evolutionary theory would do nothing to overcome the problem of human suffering.

Creationist attempts to debunk science are intellectually dishonest - an attempt to drag science down to the level of belief since biblical accounts cannot themselves be substantiated as fact. It is also from my point of view, and I think many Christians would agree, a waste of time from a true spiritual perspective. True spirituality is not about which religion's tenets are true but living faith in the world - the spirit rather than the word of the law.

I think that Dawkins and co are right to oppose creationism. My worry is that they run the risk of misrepresenting religous belief and thus weakening their own argument. How could they account for someone like me who is both atheist and religious?

  • 23.
  • At 11:21 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb#21; they may be paleontologists in your book but they are frauds in mine. I also had a scientific education and I would not deem to have them associated with anyone even remotely connected with my profession and that's without knowing anything else about them than what has been said here. We have a sect in the US which calls itself "Christian Scientists" who do not believe in modern medicine. Sometimes the government has to force transfusions on their injured children by court order to keep them from bleeding to death. Then another nut case named L.Ron Hubbard formed a cult called "Scientology." Ever hear of them? They practice various rituals which we now call biofeedback in which they are able to contol the electrical resistance of their skin. For this training they turn over their life savings. Our garbage collectors call themselves "sanitary engineers." What's in a name? Apparantly in some cases nothing, nothing at all.

I don't know whether or not there are other planets where conditions have permitted life to evolve, nobody does because our science is still far too primitive to know that yet. But that is what science is about, a process of discovery of knowledge through observation and deductive reasoning. Perhaps one day we will have an answer instead of mere speculation. What little evidence we have and admittedly it is very scant strongly suggests that the process which created earth and the evolution of life is not uncommon in the universe but the truth remains to be seen. That's a difference between science and religion, science is a search for the truth and its conclusiona are always tentative and always open to challenge of new evidence and revised logic while religion already has all the answers and isn't open to debate. The attempt is called "heresy."

Did I say that religion and belief in God causes mental illness in children? I don't see where I said that but it's an interesting idea. I thought the Church said it was masturbation which was supposed to cause blindness in children. Perhaps religion and belief in God is a form of mental masterbation. Think of how soothing it is to know that a "loving father" smiles down on us, rewards us for our good deeds, punishes the wicked." Cursed is he who is without God for he shall not find peace and redemption. You can see that while so many people around the world believe in God yet most of them are perfectly sane. After all, how many times a day do you have to go to prayers to become a suicide bomber, five? How many novenas, hail Marys, to become an IRA terrorist? How long does it take a religious school to fill a child with a lifetime of hatred for "the other?" I've often wondered if amoebae and bacteria could converse, would they argue which of them was made in God's image? I see no difference in men?

  • 24.
  • At 11:27 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Keith Shelton wrote:

The interesting discussion on Sunday Sequence Radio Ulster this morning re the teaching of how we came to be alive had Richard Dawkins saying in effect that so many scientists now believe in evolutionary atheism that it can be taken as a fact. This neatly avoids that the same argument can be applied to religious belief.

There is a fourth explanation that doesn’t conflict with Genesis (or the teachings of Jesus) which may have been written 6,000 years ago but before then knowledge of God was handed down by word of mouth. The fact that scientists say some human remains are 2 million years old doesn’t deny biblical creation, merely shows that we have been here long before we thought.

Some years ago I was inspired to write an ‘Original Thought’ account about creation. I think it was ‘original’ in view of the mockery I get from many scientists and Christians and other religions. Yet no one has given a reasoned account in rejection. In it I write that the ‘Big Bang’ happened not at Creation but at The Fall.

We were in God’s Eternity but we were expelled into time because Adam allowed sin into Creation which was perfect and thus a part of God. God created Adam to control our Creation. Nothing can contaminate God who is Love alone so everything was expelled. This accounts for natural disasters and why innocents suffer and why God had to come to earth to save us. Satan and his cohorts had previously been expelled so we and our environment now exist in Satan’s kingdom not Gods’.

There is a current thread I started on the Science Board named ‘The ‘Big Bang’ and Christianity.’ So far it has generated 216 replies and demonstrates the argument for and against what I say. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio4/MP4862651

Dogmatic statements of atheist scientists that their theories are fact ignores that ‘science’ means ‘knowledge’ and they are contemptuously throwing away the knowledge accumulated in the history of mankind’s relationship with God written in the bible.

‘The Fall’ of mankind was devolution from God - from timelessness into time. From the ethereal into the physical. This catastrophic fall and transmutation caused a dislocation of the Natural Laws of God and caused aberrations in reproduction as cross mating took place. Because millions of time years is but the blink of an eye in timelessness it appears in Genesis as if God instantaneously called out to Adam “Where art thou.”

The reality was that God had to exert His power in time where He does not rule to bring about some order to Creation so that He could once more speak to Adam. This took eons of time but was instantaneous in Heaven.

Thus ‘evolution’ has been developing back to God after the ‘devolution’ of The Fall. Thus what scientists call ‘evolution’ is the elimination of these abnormalities.

God could solve our problem immediately but He wishes to save all of His children. As we are all contaminated by evil not until everyone worthy of being saved has been will He shine His Light of Love and take unto Himself All that is of Him.

He will then cut the Holy Escape Cord He created for us by coming to earth and returning to Heaven. He will then no longer be able to influence the earth via His servants and creation will then be in freefall in time-space which will ignite the flames of Hellfire for evermore to consume the immortal souls of the unsaved.

Thus science is easily reconciled with religion once the difference between Eternity where God is and time where we are has been understood. This will initially require soul-sensing just as soul interpretation of Scripture determines that Truth.

Keith

  • 25.
  • At 11:27 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Jen Erik wrote:

Mark, I didn't hear all of the discussion, but William did at one point address the question of Dawkins' antagonism to religion - so it's interesting to see you bring that up.
I should say I'm religious myself, but have naturally considered whether my belief is the type of internal support system you suggest, or - for instance - a myth perpetuated because it provides social order and cohesion. What I don't quite understand is why those explanations - can't quite think how to express this - but if you thought that an explanation like that was true, why would it make you hate religion?
Accepting your premise that religion is an irrational and untrue belief that enables people to cope with the inevitability of death - isn't that useful? And therefore good? Or, going beyond that - and I did hear Dawkins say you oughtn't to develop morality from Darwinism, but ignoring that for the moment - if you consider people just as evolved animals - then if man has evolved into a religious animal because there is or was some survival value in religion - isn't that just a thing like people having two legs? To be observed, not hated?

  • 26.
  • At 11:34 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Voluntary Simpleton#22; "...the real spiritual problem that Bhuddism seeks to solve-that of suffering in the present."

The simple answer in the east is opium....and in the west, in vino veritas.

"How could they account for someone like me who is both athiest and religious?"

Simple, they'd dismiss you as a kook. There are more lunacies in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  • 27.
  • At 11:38 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • JK wrote:

At 03:02 AM on 11 Dec 2006, Mark wrote:

The real proof of evolution will not come from comparative anatomy looking at changes in the shape of fossilized bones or the morphology of animals and plants but from tracing the changes in DNA molecules which make up the genetic structure which defines and differentiates one specie from another. And ultimately the chemical reaction which created organic life out of inert matter in the primordial earth will be demonstrated in a laboratory where it will be duplicated at will.

You have just confirmed what I was saying earlier. You have started with a bias; a belief. You have decided the outcome of the experiment before it has happened.


Mark wrote:
And if we do discover that modern humans span different levels of evolutionary development, I am certain that Creationists and ID advocates will be found on the lowermost rungs of that ladder.

Statements like that undermine your argument. Why must you reduce this debate to personal insults? Is it to distract people’s attention away from your shaky reasoning?

  • 28.
  • At 11:50 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Jen Erik#24; "I should say I am religious myself." You have my sympathies. Did you come to your beliefs on your own or were you indoctrinated...by your parents and their "community?" Whatever clarity of thought I have, I owe in part to my own parents who did not saddle me with that burden.

"If you thought that an explanation like that was true, why would it make you hate religion?" It wouldn't. First of all, why would I think it was true? In my entire life, I haven't seen one shred of credible evidence that it is, have you? All I get even from discussions with those trained in these black arts is that they have a spiritual feeling or they can find no other explanation for existance. I don't have any such feelings and I don't accept their logic that because nobody else has all the answers, theirs must be true. But even if I did belive in God, I'd find another very good reason to hate religion and that is that it is a tyranny which places some men over others. It arbitrarily hands down truth which cannot be challenged under penalty of ostracism if nothing else.

"...cope with the inevitability of death-isn't that useful?"

About as much as any other opiate. Life and the life of the mind are painful states. Somnambulance is more pleasurable. It's not just the pain of eternal death that religion copes with, it's the pain of finding out that everything which happens is predetermined, that there is no such thing as free will. That all of the atoms in your body and brain were programmed to respond the way they do twelve and a half billion years ago and that no matter what you think, no matter how hard you try to delude yourself, you have absolutely no control over your own existance and the fact that you think you do is in itself part of that inevitability. It also helps cope with the fear and truth that life is meaningless and purposeless. Where's that bottle of Chateau Laffitte I've been celaring, I could use some in vino veritas right now.

  • 29.
  • At 11:55 AM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

JK #27; you sir have no sense of humor.

  • 30.
  • At 01:05 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Here we go again!

It seems like we are back to where I came in several blogs ago with the previous ‘Creation Wars’, ‘Creationism 101’, and the ‘Dawkins in Lynchburg’ blogs.

Let me start with Keat’s poem ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’.

We have one side railing that Keat’s statement:

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter”

is scientific nonsense while the other rails that there is scientific evidence to support the ‘fact’ that Grecian Urns do indeed make music.

Why are you mixing the worlds of ‘Inner’ and ‘Outer’ Realities – the worlds of “Metaphor/Myth’ & ‘Model’?

I’ll start my comment from my scientific background by saying that the brain has three components - Intellectual – Instinctual – Emotional. It operates intellectually when it adds 2 and 2 to get 4. It acts instinctually when it raises our blood pressure under fear or when it causes us to sneeze involuntarily. It acts emotionally when we experience love, hate, compassion etc. It is the instinctual and emotional parts of our brains which drives us into sectarian conflicts (protection of territory and revenge, for example).

The brain exhibits its intellectual component when it creates pictures and symbols. We became ‘humans’ when we first made ‘art’. From this symbol making ability we developed language. With language and symbols we began to think about outer and inner realities.

We developed ‘Models’ to describe outer realities and ‘Metaphors/Myths’ to describe inner realities.

Inner reality is ‘subjective’; Outer reality is ‘objective’. Inner reality seeks ‘intrinsic’ truths while Outer reality seeks ‘factual’ truths.

Examples of Outer Reality are physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, pain, reason, linear time, gravity, history etc.

Examples of Inner Reality are suffering, intuition, eternal time, love, art, poetry, bible, music.

In the realm of science we deal with models while in the realm of religion and spiritual experience we deal with metaphors/myths. Models and metaphors are the only two ways symbol-making humans describe their scientific and spiritual realities. One is not better or greater than the other. Physics, chemistry, biology, medicine etc. are all understood with models. Love, anger, suffering etc. are all understood with metaphors. 'Suffering' (as our Buddhist participant might attest to) can only be conceptualized with the use of 'metaphor' while 'pain' can be modeled in terms of neurons firing etc. and hence is amenable to study by the science of medicine.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is a model, as are mathematical equations, and Newton’s Principia Mathematica.

Shakespeare’s plays are metaphor, as are novels, & the poetry of Keats.

What is the definition of ‘Metaphor/Myth’? It is the use of symbols or imagery in the inner world to understand metaphysical phenomenon such as the nature of love or the joy of laughter. ‘Myth’ in the common vernacular is unfortunately wrongly understood as something that ‘can’t happen’ or isn’t ‘true’ in contrast to the word ‘model’ which in the common vernacular is often understood as something that ‘can happen’ or is ‘true’. However, use of the word ‘myth’ by scholars does not imply that the narrative is either true or false.

A myth is a description of the way things never were, but always are. (Attributed to Thomas Mann)

An example of ‘Metaphor’ in the Inner Reality is the story of The Boy Who Cried “Wolf”. You all remember it - a boy was asked to guard sheep against the wolves and to call “wolf” to summon the villagers if the sheep were threatened. We don’t know the historical ‘truth’ of this story i.e. did it physically happen at some place and at some time? That is of no consequence because we have an intrinsic truth in the story of how trust can be lost by acting dishonestly.

What is the definition of ‘Model’ in the Outer Reality? It is the use of symbols or imagery in the outer world to understand physical, chemical, biological phenomena etc. such as the nature of gravity, or the nature of atomic fusion. Use of the word ‘model’ by scientists does not imply that the concept is either true or false. A model is a description of the way things might be, but never are.

An example of a ‘Model’ in the Outer Reality is how we as scientists might represent the hydrogen atom. It is modeled as a point in the center of a circle to symbolize a proton with another point on the circle’s circumference to represent an electron. We use language (in this case mathematical language) to deepen this model’s utility by writing equations to describe things protons and electrons ‘do’. With the use of the model we have an understanding of how a ‘hydrogen atom’ manifests itself but we still do not know what a hydrogen atom ‘is’.

Our Models and Metaphors have both real and imaginary components. In mathematics, real and imaginary numbers are essential for describing outer world reality using models. Imaginary numbers have essential applications in areas such as signal processing, control theory, electro magnetism, quantum mechanics etc. Without imaginary numbers modern science would be paralyzed.

Likewise real and imaginary situations and persons are essential for describing inner world reality using metaphors. "Metaphor" does not imply that a story is either objectively false or true, it rather refers to a spiritual, psychological or symbolical notion of truth unrelated to materialist or objectivist notions.

In the inner reality we have free will while in the outer reality we do not. In the inner reality the prevailing paradigm is “I choose”. In the outer reality the prevailing paradigm is “I accept”.

Humans exercise free will using the part of the brain that operates intellectually. There is no free will when the brain operates instinctually or emotionally. We can experience hatred in our inner reality but we can not exercise free will over this feeling unless we use the intellectual part of our consciousness.

Humans can not exercise free will with Outer Reality – the paradigm is “I must accept”. When we experience the sun’s heat on our face, hear the wind rustling the trees or suffer the consequences of an earthquake, we have no control over these observations. We can only experience them through our perception.

Pain is an outer reality. The outer reality experience regardless of how joyous or how painful can only be ‘accepted’.

But with matters of Inner Reality the paradigm is “I must choose”. When we experience anger at someone we are not trapped with the single option of ‘acceptance’ - we can ‘choose’ to let anger go. Suffering is an inner reality. Pain, an outer reality, is not what makes us suffer. It is how we choose to deal with pain in the inner reality that determines the extent of one’s suffering.

Finally, some thoughts on the concept of God and Creation. The concept of ‘God’ can not be modeled – there is no physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics that can be applied to the concept. God can only be metaphorized.

Creationism is not a scientific model, it is a metaphor historicized.

Evolution is not a metaphor historicized, it is a scientific model.

Both of these Models and Metaphors can be deemed to be ‘sacred’. The definition of sacred is - From Latin sacer, ‘untouchable’ - deserving of veneration, of utmost importance.

Thus the bible can be said to be sacred, as can the poetry of Keats, Newton’s Principia Mathematica and the model of the DNA double helix. ‘Sacred’ models and metaphors help us to understand and move towards ultimate truths where truth is defined as something that is the same for everyone, everywhere, and for all eternity.

“We live and we die, We know not why, But I’ll be with you when the deal goes down.” Bob Dylan – Modern Times Album

  • 31.
  • At 01:28 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. Hull #30;
"Both of these Models and Metaphors can deemed to be sacred"

Why?

I think that was your first mistake from which all the rest flow.

  • 32.
  • At 01:52 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • David H wrote:

Re: 'Creation Wars' Broadcast

All participants on Sunday Sequence's programme essentially adopted the SAME intellectual position - yes, that's correct - the SAME position. That is to say, all participants exhibited FAITH in their respective positions. This should not be surprising, as FAITH comprises: knowledge, belief & trust. It is here, that Dawkins' et al find their achilles' heel. Dawkins & his peers responses to questions of human dignity, virtue, morality & most importantly, RATIONALITY were dramatically (& significantly) unsatisfactory. Dawkins exhibits a similar 'leap of faith'in his fundementalist-like adherence to macro-evolution. In brief, he is as 'religious', if not more so, than his adversaries. All assertions are - in the final analysis - philosophical propositions. Dawkins complements his fact-base with a generous helping of this faith - claiming categorically, that 'this & that' is true - pretending that he can paint himself out of any research-hypothesis-postulation equation. Impossible!
Dawkins' particular 'garden-variety' of science is actually thinly-veiled reductionist-materialism. Consequently & ironically, Dawkins et al inhabit a very 'small' universe, where no metaphysics are allowed & any suggestion of such is ridiculed. He is entrenched in a faith position that scoffs at those who do similarly. Hopefully, Dawkins will address this 'speck' in his own eye ....

  • 33.
  • At 02:12 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

David H #32; If the scientific mind has any faith at all, it's in its power to observe and draw rational conclusions, that is the only tangeable contact it has with reality. If that supposition is rejected, then there are only two other possible conclusions. One is the existentialist's explanation that the mind is the universe unto itself and operates by its own set of rules. This leads to the conclusion that nothing exists outside the mind and all attempts at rational thought are pointless. The other is that the the universe is ruled by a capricious god who is unknown and unknowable and can alter the universe in any unpredictable way at will. This also leads to the conclusion that rational thought is pointless because any predictions about our environment are subject to error when the rules change. Religion subjects us to the tyranny of the self apppointed interpretators of the almighty one's rules and wrath and their directives for us to avoid it. So there are only three basic choices. And when I'm asleep, I couldn't care less which one is right. You'd better be careful, if you exist only in my mind, I might just will you into non existance.

  • 34.
  • At 02:19 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. wrote:

At 01:28 PM on 11 Dec 2006, Mark wrote:

"Michael N. Hull #30; Both of these Models and Metaphors can be deemed to be sacred. Why? I 'think' that was your first mistake from which all the rest flow."

Mark: I can't answer you given this demonstation of vacuousness in your 'thinking'.

But hang in there!

Regards,
Michael


I'm interested in putting together a list of guest bloggers, and some of the comments here gave me a thought: why not invite some of the regular contributors to blog on the main page from time to time. Mark's comments are hilarious -- he'd bring some intelligent humour to the site for sure. John and Stephen have a fully worked out libertarian worldview. Pb has a considered view on everything (be nice, pb, that was vaguely complimentary!). We've a Buddist blogger, Christians, humanists like Alan Watson (and even his son is blogging here I think), and lovers of debate on both sides of the Atlantic. If you'd like a change to blog on the main page, get in touch with me: william.crawley@bbc.co.uk

  • 36.
  • At 02:49 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. #34; then perhaps you will find this a little less vacuous;

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

--From Macbeth (V, v, 19)

  • 37.
  • At 03:47 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • bebop_a_loola wrote:

Here’s the “small p” politics of the creationist argument. The bible is the literal word of God; if the first chapter can be disproved by the ability that God gave us to think for ourselves, then it follows that the rest of the bible is decidedly not the literal word of God. This is the fist line in the war – loose that and the war is lost.

Therefore we have almost hysterical – often patronising – defence of Genesis which all too often receives an almost hysterical – often patronising – defence of Darwin. What saddens me (and amuses me) is that there are people who would attempt to force us to think what they think. Sure, why should we think for ourselves when there are plenty of volunteers to do that for us?

I blame the printing press and the use of the vernacular. Bring back Latin as the word of God.

  • 38.
  • At 04:07 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 02:49 PM on 11 Dec 2006, Mark wrote:

""Michael N. #34; then perhaps you will find this a little less vacuous;

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

--From Macbeth (V, v, 19)"

Excellent, Mark! A beautiful example of metaphorical narrative. Keep up the improvement in tone and there will come a time when I will be able to say ....

I would not wish
Any companion in the world but you,
Nor can imagination form a shape,
Besides yourself, to like of.

The Tempest: Act 3 Scene 1

Cordially,
Michael


  • 39.
  • At 04:23 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • David H wrote:

Mark @ #33

This sounds clever Mark, but I'm not sure what you mean! By caricaturing science as only having 'faith' in,"in its power to observe and draw rational conclusions" in itself highlights its limitations as a mode of inquiry. The truth behind science lies in its rhetoric. It is "not speculative, but social; the result not of revelation, but of persuasion" (Gross, 2003). It holds no truth beyond that which society it willing to give it. Rather, science is nothing more than a good approximation of what may possibly be. Science is but one mode of inquiry Mark, try not to make it THE ONLY mode of inquiry. With regard to existentialism & 'the pointlessness of rational thought' - neither are by necessity, mutually exclusive. However, on what do you base your entrusting reliance upon your own rationality? Why are you rational - is this a nett result of random evolutionary process?

  • 40.
  • At 05:24 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

David H. #39
Actually the truth in science doesn't lie in its rhetoric but in its repeatability and its ability to predict what will happen in a given set of circumstances. That's also its only practical value. If it held no truth beyond that which society will give it as you say, it would have died with the inquisition. But even the Pope didn't have the power to stop those damned Jovian moons from revolving around Jupiter instead of the Vatican. Science may be but one mode of inquiry but it is the only rational one because it is always made to fit with all that has been observed, it is infinitely flexible, the others are not. What do I base my own reliance on trusting rationality? Consciousness...and the fact that so far it works for me.

"Why are you rational-is this a result of random evolutionary process?"

Interesting question, let's explore. First of all, species which were not rational, could not observe and predict, were likely less successful at survival and so became extinct through natural selection. So my rational mind is the product of the evolution which lead to the human species. Then there is that wonderful word "random" which I am so glad you brought up. To the rational scientific mind, there is no such thing as random, it is strictly a human concept expressing our inability to keep track of things which appear to us identical. But they aren't, each one is an individual entity with its own existance. Take a substance like a gas in a bottle above absolute zero degrees. Its molecules appear to move randomly, each looks like every other one to humans and their motions seem to travel in all different directions at once. But each one has a history which can be traced back to its creation at the beginning of the universe and its precise trajectory is the result of the physical laws which control its motion.

"Gladly like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the spendor of the firmament;
Thus brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero goes to conquest.

You millions I embrace you!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers, beyond the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World do you know your Creator?
Seek Him beyond the heavens!
Above the stars must He dwell."

Fredrich Schiller.... Ode to Joy

If there is a God and He wants me to believe in Him, He knows that the only way He can convince me is directly by His own voice and He always knows where to find me, I'm not planning on going anywhere any time soon. After all, by your reckoning, He made me so He'd know. So far...no sign yet at all, I'm still waiting...and I'm not holding my breath.

  • 41.
  • At 06:47 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • david h wrote:

Mark,

Delighted to hear that you are open to the idea of a self-existent, transcendent, omnipotent being 'communicating' with you the reality of his being. Obviously, 'general revelation' (i.e. Creation) hasn't convinced you - as yet, at any rate.
So many macro-evolutionists peddle the time-honoured (though by now very tired) ploy, of building a 'strawman' argument; claiming 'decisive' victory after 'demolishing' what their own construct of their opponent's argument. Let me put this one out there for all you sophisticated, non-religious commentators who exercise TREMENDOUS faith in matters incredulous:
1)There is no scientific law that allows something to evolve from nothing. If there was nothing in the universe to begin with, obviously nothing could happen to cause anything to appear. This is an irreducible problem for non-theists. Pre-existent matter? The problem for you guys is that matter has a mater! Evolutionists often try to duck this problem by saying that evolution is not concerned with the origin of life, only how life progressed after it appeared. But if you can't get something from nothing, it's pointless thinking you can accurately explain the next step. Juggle the figures any way you like, but without a Creator you are not going to get anything, let alone everything; NEXT:
2)Abiogenesis (the theory that contends organisms originated from nonliving material) - No scientific law can account for non-living things’ coming to life. The soil in your garden didn't turn into the trees and flowers. They came from seeds, cuttings, or grafts from other trees and flowers. Atheistic evolutionists have long believed that at some time in the distant past, life arose from non-living substances. British biologist T.H. Huxley in 1869 and physicist John Tyndall in 1874 were early promoters of the idea that life could be generated from inorganic chemicals. But biology has found no law to support this idea, and much against it. The invariable observation is that only living things give rise to other living things. Life could not begin if supernature took no part! And lastly, for now:
3)The theory of evolution teaches that simple life-forms evolved into more complex life-forms, such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. There is no natural law known that could allow this to happen. The best that evolutionists can come up with to try to explain how this might have happened is to propose that it happened by mutations and natural selection. Patently, mutations overwhelmingly destroy genetic information and produce creatures more handicapped than their parents (see Behee). And natural selection simply weeds out unfit creatures. Natural selection may explain why light-colored moths in England decreased and dark moths proliferated (because during the industrial revolution the light moths on dark tree trunks were more easily seen and eaten by birds), but it cannot show that moths could ever turn into effective, totally different, non-moth creatures. Moths do not have the genetic information to evolve into something that is not a moth, no matter how much time you give them. Some 'science' of observation! And then to say that assertions made are rational as well - give me a break!
*If anyone out there can point us ALL to a h-link that shows a clear transitional form (afterall, there must be billions)many of us would be grateful - we could do with a laugh! Still, with SO many skeletons in the closet, why should evolution worry about a lack of evidence here or elsewhere?
By the way evolutionists - please explain your take on homosexual behaviour with the human 'species' - what natural purpose does it serve in the evolutionary order of things. Thanks. PS - don't be PC, be honest!

  • 42.
  • At 06:50 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

At 11:50 AM on 11 Dec 2006, Mark wrote:

“It's not just the pain of eternal death that religion copes with, it's the pain of finding out that everything which happens is predetermined, that there is no such thing as free will.”

Mark: There is no 'pain' in contemplating death. Are you confusing the word ‘pain’ with the word ‘suffering’?

I went over the difference in post 30 before you decided to take up Shakespearean arms against me.

Pain is an outer reality, a physical thing, something that can be modeled by science. We have no free will in the outer reality experiences regardless of what they are. Such experiences can only be ‘accepted’ and so to this extent we agree.

But with matters of Inner Reality the paradigm is “I choose”. When we experience frustration at someone we are not trapped with the single option of ‘acceptance’ - we can ‘choose’ to let frustration go.

Suffering is an inner reality. Pain is not what makes us suffer. It is how we choose to deal with pain in the inner reality that determines the extent of our suffering. In these matters we have free will.

Now I believe you can exercise your inner free will by choosing how you will reply. You can choose to let go of your sarcasm or continue with it. You can choose to stop trying to impress us with your knowledge of Literature or send me some more Shakespeare. It’s all great fun and if it keeps you happy, I may choose to oblige.

But I have chosen to let my frustration with you go and to wait with humility for your reasoned response.

As Ever,
Michael

  • 43.
  • At 07:12 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

William

I dont think I've ever had a vague compliment before. Thanks very much
;-)

PB

  • 44.
  • At 07:20 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Mark

ref post 23

I think you have confirmed yourself a true Dawkinsite;-

1) You totally dismiss six palentologists of phd and above level without giving any reason; just like Dawkins dismisses God before the jury is in on what caused the universe and life.

2) You maintain a very open mind about aliens but are hostile to the possible existence of God, just like Dawkins - no double standards there then.

3)You display open hostility to God and faith in an irrational manner.

Mark it isnt very consistent is it?

PB

  • 45.
  • At 07:36 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. Hull #41. The problem is obvious Mr. Hull, it's quite plain to me. They say that America and England are two nations divided by the same language. Well it's not quite the same language is it. Samuel Johnson wrote his dictionary of the English language for you on your side of the pond and Noah Webster wrote his dictionary of the American language for us on our side. Now in dictionary.com which ultimately reverts back more closely to Noah Webster's I believe, the very first definition of pain is; 1. physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc. and the definition for suffer is; 1. to undergo or feel pain or distress. And here I was going to suggest that you throw your dictionary away. You wouldn't be making up your own definitions on me now would you? (That's a trick BBC reserves to itself for its political agendas.) Now I've already explained why inner or outer or any free will is an illusion. You could be skating on thin ice because if I do inhabit an existential universe, then as Ebenezer Scrooge said to the ghost of Jacob Marley; "You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!'"

One Bah humbug from me and poof, you're history. BTW, this time it's Dickens, not Shakespeare (just in case you're keeping score.)

I think we've got to try and deal with this claim that if one abandons reading Genesis literally, then the rest of the bible -- or even the rest of Genesis -- must be read in the same way.

The bible is a compilation of 66 different books, all written for different reasons to different people for different purposes. PB once told me he reads the bible "as a whole". I told him I thought that was his problem. It wasn't writtem "as a whole"; it wasn't even written to him! And that is the center of this whole debate for me; that the hermenutical process of many evangelicals is seriously flawed. It approaches the bible without (much) concern for historical context, authorship, authenticity, identifying genre, or any other factors which would make up the correct apparatus by which to begin to read the text. Instead, Genesis is picked up as one would pick up a newspaper article, and turned into colourful children's books instead of interpreted.

Once one learns how to interpret ancient texts, the creation/evolution debate largely disappears.

  • 47.
  • At 08:19 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • david h wrote:

For those who are deluded (to use one of Dawkin's favourite words, ah hem!), & think that ALL serious-minded scientists sing with one voice re evolution: check out the following link (copy & paste & search):

http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=660

PS - Dawkins is NOT the only show in town folks. There are many of his peers who have grave reservations about his present course & recent spat of pulp-publishing.

Merry Christmas to all men. "Christ came to seek & to save that which was lost"

  • 48.
  • At 10:25 PM on 11 Dec 2006,
  • Bernard Picton wrote:

If you were shocked by McIntosh try this. This is the new revised Religious Education curriculum for Northern Ireland, drawn up by the four main churches and approved by the minister. Our children have compulsory RE at school and this is what they will be taught.

http://www.deni.gov.uk/final_proposals_document-2.pdf

This is supposed to be an improvement on what they get at the moment - more inclusive, etc. Note it contradicts what Michelle Marken claimed on the Crawley debate (last 5 minutes).

  • 49.
  • At 12:09 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb#44,
1. I said exactly why I dismissed those so called paleontologists and I'll say it again, by saying the earth is only six thousand years old, they not only demonstrate that they reject a mountain of evidence, they reject the very method of radioisotope decay dating used to gather it, in other words, they are incompetent to be called scientists. At that point AFAIAC, it's no longer open for dispute.

2. I don't have any double standard, the possibility of life evolving on other planets is plausible if far from proven, the possibility of God is not plausible, at least not to me.

3. My hostility to the notion of God and the reality of religion is hardly irrational, I've given clear logical reasons for them. "I refer my right honorable friend to the reply I gave some moments ago."

We not only live on opposite sides of the pond, we live on opposite sides of the looking glass. My view of the world must seem as strange to you as yours does to me. Image an entire life with no god, no devil, no angels, no commandments, no soul, no good or evil, no sins, no heaven or hell, no guilt, no being told by a minister or priest what I must or must not do or why what I have already done is wrong and sinful, repentance, no reason to repent, no life after death, no religious rituals, no truths which are beyond challenge. None. Ever. I see other people who believe as you do all around me...and I'm glad not to be one of them. You probably feel pity for me in my Godless plight. Why is it that people who have a religion always seem to want to convert you to their point of view to save your soul? I don't want to be saved, I don't need to be saved. There is nothing for me to be saved from.

I don't know who this Dawkins fellow is or anything about him or what he says. I just happened to land on this cyber planet yesterday by accident while traveling to a distant galaxy to blast Nick Robinson for making a jackass out of himself at President Bush's press conference last week. I've only stopped here to study the local flora and fauna for awhile and its been amusing so far.

Bernard- The proposal you linked to is a horrendous syllabus for any RE class. The point of an RE class is not to instill any belief in the Christian religion; the point of an RE class is to learn about world religions and what they believe and why. It could, in fact, be part of a wider philosophy class; I still find it astonishing that most of our schools do not teach -- and that the national cirriculum does not require -- philosophy in high school. Any school my child goes to will teach philosophy... and it sure as hell won't be a public school in any case.

  • 51.
  • At 01:07 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 45 Mark wrote:

“One Bah humbug from me and poof, you're history. BTW, this time it's Dickens, not Shakespeare”

Mark:

Sadly I have to agree with your analysis in which you explained “why inner or outer or any free will is an illusion” for you.

You have proved that you are unable to extend your mind beyond the flippancy of literary metaphor and so we can leave the free will debate at this point.

Having come through the British educational system myself with its debating societies I will understand your need to have a last word so please feel free (sorry bad pun!)

As to the bit about the ‘pond’ and which dictionary I should consult, I am quite happy to use either. You provided the following and I quote:

"The very first definition of pain is; 1. physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc. and the definition for suffer is; 1. to undergo or feel pain or distress."

I know given your intelligence (this is a compliment! – accept if for what it is as you have no choice in the matter) that you are aware what Noah Webster said when he was in his 80's and his wife caught him in the arms of their chambermaid.

Sharing that feeling I will note that I have no problem with those definitions. In my post #30 I said:

“Suffering is an inner reality. Pain, an outer reality, is not what makes us suffer. It is how we choose to deal with pain in the inner reality that determines the extent of one’s suffering.”

Pain is always ‘physical’ while suffering is usually ‘spiritual’.

I want now to put the shool boy behavior behind us (confessing my contributions to it) and speak to you and the rest of the blog readers in all seriousness.

In cancer palliative care, about which I am personally experienced, one always distinguishes between a patient’s pain and a patient’s suffering. And we both know from the excellent education we received that the derivative of the word patient is 'paschein,' which means 'to suffer’. A most important part of cancer care deals with the patient as one who suffers.

Some patients have terrible pain yet do not suffer, others have no pain and yet their suffering is great, and of course there are cases when there is both pain and suffering.

Some of these latter patients can be given pain control yet their suffering remains great. Some who are in pain but are not suffering begin to show signs of suffering when the pain has been removed.

Noah Webster or Samuel Johnson will never be a source of help in the above situations. What I know is pain can be controlled medically but suffering must be controlled by a patient’s inner choice coupled with their caregiver’s love and compassionate spirit.

Sincerely,
Michael

  • 52.
  • At 02:49 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. Hull #51

You win. I was never much when it came to battling over semantics. In fact as far as I can glean, I think what you are trying to tell me is that pain is physical while suffering is emotional but I'm not even sure if that's close to what you mean. Foolish me trying to debate with an experienced debater and thinking I could win, I feel like a sucker whose been had by a shark at the local pool hall. I don't yet even see the relevance of the distinction in the arguement over free will. While you were practicing your debating skills at university, I was struggling with physics and chemistry. The only debate in my dorm room was whether we'd take a break and go for pizza or sub sandwiches. I usually lost those debates too.

If I can't extend my mind beyond flippancy here, it's because I don't take any of this seriously. You see to me the whole god damned thing doesn't make one bit of difference.

BTW, if having the last word floats your boat, be my guest. That doesn't matter to me either.

  • 53.
  • At 06:23 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Attn John Wright

I mean this respectfully, but perhaps half your problem with the bible is that you dont read it enough and cant appreciate it for what it is.

We have discussed at length before how you are totally unfamiliar with major themes and issues in the bible that are not at all controversial.

It appears to me that you spend far more time reading books about the bible than the bible.

You describe yourself as a post evangelical, but need that also mean post biblicist?

I respect the fact that you decline to discuss why you departed from your previous position, but I find in these cases it is often, but not always, because of emotional hurt by the Church.

Your clarification on this might explain why you moved and perhaps help you understand yourself better too, if that does not sound too patronising. I have no right to ask you to disclose your innermost thoughts, but perhaps it is worth reflecting on privately.

It 'appears' to me that one of your central beliefs is that biblical certainty is not possible, very zeigeist, very post-modern but also far from original in the current climate; ergo, are you really thinking for yourself on this or just soaking up your environment?

However, I find that most people making this argument are largely incapable of even beginning a counter-argument from the bible on the traditional teaching issue they are opposing.

To me that usually suggests a prejudiced position due to undeclared [unconscious?] motives.

My understanding of the bible is that it contains the highest moral teaching of any book in the world. It is the best selling book in history, which has provided the legal and cultural foundations for the most successful, desireable societies that exist today.
Its teachings are amazingly consistent from book to book, speaking as it were, with one voice, through different mouthpieces.

It contains the eye-witness accounts of the life of Christ, a joiner, who split history down the middle on account of the fact that he was God. ie it is 2006 years since what?

He said: "I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes unto the father but by me."

Now John, you may say it is simply a collection of old dusty manuscripts. I say you are entitled to your opinion, and let the world continue, as it has done for centuries, to make up its own mind on that.

PB

  • 54.
  • At 06:39 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


John

ref post 46.

"Once you learn how to interpret ancient texts the evolution/creation debate largely dissappears...."

That is a big say John.

Prove it!


PB

  • 55.
  • At 06:45 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Mr Bernard Picton

How shocking indeed that a largelt Muslim country might teaching Islan in its schools....

How shocking indeed that a largely Christian country (NI) might teach that faith in its school also.

I could undertsand you would have an argument if the majority of NI was secular, but the Christian faith is still very much part of the culture.

And John, what if I took offence at you wanting to "ram philsophy down the throat" of my children?

What objective standards are we using here?

PB

  • 56.
  • At 06:56 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Mark

ref post 49

Is it true that there is no such thing as an athiest during bad turbulence on an airplane?

I dont dispute that some people in the name of Christ lord it over his flock.

But I think you are making several unbiblical assumptions about what it means to be a Christian.

I question everything I hear in church and in my view if you are not going to a church which is open to discuss errors in what has been taught, in a humble manner, then that is not a church I would attend.

Paul himself commended the Bereans for doing this with him.

There is plenty of room for free thought in the Christian church and you are in sympathy with Christ if you object to exploitation of his flock by wolves.

Paul warned of such people in the book of acts, and remember, he refused to even take a salary from the church.

PB

  • 57.
  • At 08:52 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Bernard Picton wrote:

PB,

I think we know where you are coming from, your initials appear very regularly on these bulletin boards. I've not posted here before but I have lived in NI since 1975 and I do have children in an NI state school.

I can't quite understand your first sentence, do you mean Islam (Islan?) I think in this day and age we need to understand how dangerous blind religious faith can be, John Wright is correct, education should involve teaching world religions and the moral lessons which can be derived from religion. Religion clearly has had both good and bad results for humanity in the past and we need our children to understand this. Teaching them that, to quote the syllabus:

· God is the creator of all things – Gen 1 and 2.
· Creation is good.
· God cares for the universe, people and animals.

is not consistent with modern science. I was brought up as an anglican and educated in England. My education equipped me to read, assess the evidence, look for inconsistencies and compare hypotheses. I gradually came to the conclusion that there was no personal god looking after human beings, watching my mother die from Motor Neurone Disease after she had attended church faithfully for many years was alone sufficient to prove that to me. As a biologist I read and understood the Selfish Gene and found that to be a convincing and awe-inspiring explanation of the diversity and perfection of life on earth.

Morally this understanding tells us some important things. One of these is that it is up to us humans, as the only species ever to have developed self-awareness and the ability to destroy life on this planet, to do what we can to care for the planet, other people and animals (oh, and lets not leave out the plants). GOD won't do it for us - it's up to us and we're making an awful mess of it.

  • 58.
  • At 09:27 AM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Jen Erik wrote:

Mark, I'm touched by your sympathy for my plight. [#28]

Perhaps who could sell atheism a bit better though - you make being delusional sound the more enjoyable option. Enjoy the Chateau Lafite.

  • 59.
  • At 12:21 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb#56
The way I heard the expression, "there are no athiests in foxholes." In 1990 I had an experience which put that theory to the test. I was in a very bad car accident. I was driving to work on one of our interstate highways on a rainy morning, I was in the center lane of a limited access divided interstate highway going at about 55 mph. My car was struck sideways on its left rear fender by a driver in the left lane who fell asleep at the wheel of his car. My car spun out of control, hydroplaning on the wet pavement in a long slow counterclockwise spin. A tractor trailer (semi rig) in the right lane jacknifed to avoid hitting me. I tried everything I could think of to regain control and slow the car down by steering into the swerve, out of it, jamming the antilock brakes, pumping them but to no use, I knew I was going to hit the concrete center divider head on at high speed. I was certain that the crash would be fatal, and even if I survived the initial impact, I expected to go through the winshield or that the car would sail over the divider and hit oncoming traffic on the other side head on. Well obviously I survived, the car was destroyed, all of its engineered energy absorbing crumple zones worked, and the seat belt and shoulder harness restrained me exactly the way it was supposed to, I never even came in contact with the interior of the car during the crash. My injuries were severe whiplash (X-rays showed my spine was twisted like a pretzel), a concussion, lots of injured muscles. It took about a year and a half to heal. The reason I'm telling you this is that my reaction to expecting to die imminently during the 10 seconds or so between the time my car was hit and the time I hit the concrete wall was very surprising even to me. It seemed much longer, it was amazing how fast my mind was racing. I wasn't the least bit frightened. I was very sad and felt very alone. I also felt I was being cheated out of half of my life. I had no thoughts of God or anything else. Ever since that happened, I've had no fear of death...and no fear of life either. It was an epiphany :>)

Do I object to exploitation of Christ's flock by wolves? Hahahaha, as I see it....they ARE the wolves!

As for making unwarranted assumptions of what it means to be a Christian, I don't listen to what people who call themselves Christians say they are or should be, I watch what they do. What do they do? Crusades, Inquisitions, IRA terrorism, colonial imperialism and exploitation, slavery, and every one of the seven deadly sins. They go to church once a week on Sunday morning. Hearing soothing words from the man in the funny suit and hat makes them feel better about it. It's OK with me, their counterparts in Islam are even worse, they need five sessions every single day to get the same result.

  • 60.
  • At 12:38 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Jen Erik #58
I'm not selling anything. People of my unfaith have no reason to. We don't send around collection plates in churches to collect money, we don't have any collection plates or churches. Some of us even make our money by earning an honest living :>)

  • 61.
  • At 01:01 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

Fellow bloggers:

Mark, PB, JW, Jen, Bernard etc.

My impression is that you are all very intelligent people and I would be pleased to spend an evening with anyone on this blog and share a bottle of the aforementioned wine.

I also have a belief that you are all very honest and moral people each in your own way trying to do the best for those around you.

My own worldview is that we are all 'one'. Some of you will say 'under God', others will say 'as humans' etc. But it doesn't change my 'opinion' that we are indeed 'one'.

Given this I try to avoid judgmental reasoning - i.e. relating ideas in terms of absolutes, either/or, superior versus inferior. I don't always succeed as many of you know. I try to use non-judgmental reasoning as this forces me to relate ideas in terms of inclusiveness, both/and, and equality.

I look forward to more discussion in which we respect our mutual 'oneness' while expressing our worldviews in a non judgmental fashion.

As Ever,
Michael

  • 62.
  • At 01:28 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

GROUNDHOG DAY.

PB -

post 61 already, and the 200 Phd's havnt charged over the ridge from answersingenesis?????

Goodness me you are slacking!

I have yet to read any scientific proof of God/Creation/Young earth. Therefore it cannot be said to be fact - any of it. It's not fact, it's (at best) a theory with more holes than a swiss cheese. At worst it's a lie. It's one of the two, or a mixture of both.

Do I hear the creationist cavalry??

Err no.

PB- To answer your post 53.

You say: "Perhaps half your problem with the bible is that you dont read it enough and cant appreciate it for what it is. We have discussed at length before how you are totally unfamiliar with major themes and issues in the bible that are not at all controversial. It appears to me that you spend far more time reading books about the bible than the bible."

You are wrong, and are making a lot of baseless assumptions. I've read most of the bible. I was involved heavily in church life, several times per week, for almost 20 years - much of which involved bible study. This is not the first time you've alleged that I don't know "major themes" - TEST ME! For the love of God, PB, I don't even know what point you're trying to make. Which major themes am I unfamiliar with? Ask me about them and I'll tell you what I know or don't know! You want to talk about covenant theology, or historical narrative, or Christology? How about we talk about your bibliolatry instead? ;-)


You say: "You describe yourself as a post evangelical, but need that also mean post biblicist?"

If by "biblicist" you mean someone who interprets the bible literally, then yes, I mean that I am post-biblicist. Moreover, my being post-biblicist is a large and important part of my post-evangelicalism.


You say: "I respect the fact that you decline to discuss why you departed from your previous position ... are you really thinking for yourself on this or just soaking up your environment?"

As long as I've been thinking about theological issues PB, I've found that my opinions have changed dramatically on those issues. Far from soaking up my environment, my own thoughts have caused me to leave 3 churches because of disagreement. (And I don't know, personally, any other libertarians except for my friend and fellow blogger Stephen Graham.) In short, I'm one of the most independent thinkers I know - the last person you could accuse of "soaking up" my environment. You want to search for a reason that I changed from my prior position - there really isn't one. Free thought is the reason. I concluded that those in my churches were wrong about the issues, and so in fact I did the opposite of soak up my environment... I rejected it.


You say: "Now John, you may say it is simply a collection of old dusty manuscripts."

I never said that, and you misunderstand me. The bible is a hugely important collection of ancient texts; of priceless value to the world and to Christianity in particular. But it needs to be interpreted correctly, which I don't believe you are doing.

(NB. I just want to reiterate that I hold nothing against you PB and enjoy our conversations more and more here as time goes on.)

  • 64.
  • At 05:35 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

A good movie to watch apropos to this topic is the 1960 film "Inherit the Wind" which is a fictionalized account of what came to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial held in Tennessee in 1925.

"The play's title comes from Proverbs 11:29, which in the King James Bible reads:

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind:
and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart"

In the actual trial, a high school science teacher Scopes was prosecuted and found guilty of teaching evolution instead of creationism as mandated by law. The part of the prosecuting attorney loosely based on William Jennings Brian was played by Hal March and the part of the defense attorney loosely based on Clarence Darrow was played by Spencer Tracey. It was an excellently made movie and I'm sure anyone posting here on either side would enjoy seeing it.

Here's a link to Wikipedia's web page about it;

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

  • 65.
  • At 09:24 PM on 12 Dec 2006,
  • Bernard Picton wrote:

PB, post #17 point 5)

I think you should go on a biology course and learn a little about molecular genetics. This is the 21st century now, not the 19th. When Darwin's ideas were proposed they were revolutionary as he didn't know how heredity worked. Scientists have now sequenced the entire human genome, the instructions that make you or me. We don't understand what all of it does, but either God used the same instructions to do the same things in each species, modifying them a bit in an ad hoc sort of way as he went along, OR all life on this planet shares a common ancestor about 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. Now strangely this also matches up in timescale with the fossil evidence, dated using a variety of independent radioactive dating techniques. The whole point of science is that you can propose a theory, then look for new facts and see if they fit what the theory predicts. The facts all fit, where they didn't seem to fit more careful work has usually shown that there was something missing in the detail. Different scientists such as Gould and Dawkins may put the emphasis slightly differently as to the mechanisms by which new species appear, but they all agree on the basics.

You cannot seriously believe that we are not cousins of the apes, and more distant cousins of any other creature you like to name that is alive today. If we are not, how can modern medicines be tested on apes or mice and then produce the same effects in humans. All of modern medicine hinges on our relatedness to other creatures. We are not descended from these creatures, as all of us are alive at this point in time, but we share a common ancestor at some time in the past, as evidenced by the same code sequences in our DNA.

  • 66.
  • At 12:59 AM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

So Bernard Picton, it was sort of like God was playing with his biomolecular chemistry set, each time refining his experiment until man came out if I understand you correctly. I wonder what he does for an encore. Now I'm really beginning to feel like I'm in an alien world having landed from the planet Science where as I said, I had no religous training whatsover and was taught to questoin everything. So I feel espcially lucky to have not one but two religions to study and to pick the brains of by asking questions. Who knows, one of you might get me to see the light yet. I'll start off with an easy one. From what I understand God is perfect, God created man, man is imperfect. Isn't that an unsolvable paradox? How is it possible for a perfect God to create an imperfect man?

  • 67.
  • At 01:27 AM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Hellenica wrote:

It's official: Richard Dawkins is a fan of William Crawley!

Here it is from the horse's mouth (on dawkins own blog - the links in the live link above) ... Dawkins is taking part here in a discussion of the Sunday Sequence creation wars programme -

RICHARD DAWKINS
Several people have suggested that I would have done better to answer McIntosh's specific question about thermodynamics. But the answer to his question is so well known (energy has to be supplied -- and is supplied -- from outside the system under discussion), it has become almost a cliché, and it is obviously known to McIntosh himself, who was therefore palpably dishonest in even asking it. I thought it FAR more important to draw attention to the fact that here was a professor of THERMODYNAMICS publicly stating that evolution violated the Second Law (NOTHING violates the Second Law: to do so is tantamount to a perpetual motion machine). My choice of tactics was additionally justified given the defence of McIntosh just offered by one of the other panellists, namely that his views on evolution would not interfere with his own teaching of a completely different subject. McIntosh's amazing admission about the Second Law completely gave the lie to that defence. It also gives the lie to the University of Leeds' attempt to use the same defence to soften its public disowning of him (See Comment 12153 by Nardo).

Right at the end of the whole program, I was eventually allowed to answer McIntosh's specific question, but the recording stops abruptly after an hour and three quarters (with the woman teacher in mid sentence) so we can't hear my answer. I said, of course, that the chemical bonds in DNA were maintained by energy supplied via the respiratory processes of the cell. McIntosh furiously shouted that that was no answer because there had to be some 'machinery'. I said OF COURSE there is machinery, the cell is riddled with machinery and it has all evolved by natural selection. McIntosh said the existence of machinery implies a designer (which, of course, begs the whole question of what we are arguing about). Then the chairman brought proceedings to a proper conclusion.

I do not know whether it is just this particular recording that is cut short. I presume the original radio listeners heard it through to the end. Can anyone in Northern Ireland confirm that? And does a complete recording exist somewhere? If so, please send it to Josh, so we can have a complete version posted. Thanks.

As to the general point about whether barmy views like McIntosh's should debar somebody from teaching a subject which is not directly connected to that particular nonsense, it is a difficult question. Would you like your child to be taught, say, chemistry or German, by a teacher who believes in the Flat Earth theory? It doesn't matter, you might say, because chemistry and German would be the same on a flat Earth. But wouldn't you lose CONFIDENCE in that teacher's qualification to teach ANYTHING? Would you entrust your child's education in any subject to a man whose perception of reality was so demonstrably unreal?

Unlike some contributors to this thread, I don't feel that I was hard done by. I thought the chairman, William Crawley, was rather good. It was he who ruthlessly forced McIntosh to stop his cowardly evasion and admit that he believed the world was only 6000 years old. That meant that I didn't have to use up any of my precious time cross-questioning him on it, and could go straight for the jugular. And, while it is true that the nutters were given lots of airtime, they only showed themselves up -- better than I could have shown them up if I had been invited to join in. I mean, think off that surreal argument about Romans 5,11, or whatever it was. I couldn't have produced a better script if I had been writing a satire for the Onion. The main fault of the program was, as almost always on such occasions, that they invited too many people on. They are terrified of running out of talk, but really there is not the smallest risk of that with such a topic, and in any case you can always take questions from the audience (as, indeed William Crawley did).

Congratulations to Rasco Heldall (Comment 12174) on his letter to McIntosh and especially for copying it to Heads of Science at Leeds University.

Richard

  • 68.
  • At 02:21 AM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Dawkins was of course 100% correct about the reaction not violating the second law of thermodynamics. It doesn't matter whether the reaction is endothermic or exothermic and it doesn't matter whether or not initiating it requires high energy of activation either. Either way, once outside energy is pumped in to get it going, it will go to equalibrium. Where I disagree with both of them is that I don't think it's necessary to continue to "pump in energy" to maintain DNA bonds, they are likely at least to be metastable meaning they will not spontaneously break down unless presented with an enzyme (DNAase), some other reactant, or sufficient heat. The proof of this is the viability of DNA samples in specimens long removed from a living organism and therefore no respiratory machinery present. If it were not true, DNA could not be used forensically because it would rapidly degrade yet it is common knowledge that it is still stable and viable enough for detailed analysis and differentiation after extended periods not in vitro, and even after many thousands of years in fossils. Also if it were not true, cells would be expending much of their energy constantly repairing DNA as it broke down and the rate of DNA mutation would be enormous, probably much too fast for life to survive. IMO, one reason DNA based life is so viable is because DNA is inherently stable. I'm not an expert on it but that would be my best guess without further detailed study.

Had I been McIntosh's student, I'd have demanded my tuition money back. He is either a liar or a fraud. Who knows what other elementary blunders he consistantly makes. BTW, what I said above is Freshman college chemistry where I went to school and even though it's been over 40 years, even I remember it very well.

  • 69.
  • At 12:20 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • jill wrote:

So Richard Dawkin's is praising our Will for being a ruthless radio interviewer! Is that a compliment? Richard Dawkins likes me?

  • 70.
  • At 02:42 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

I think that Dawkins is absolutely right in his ‘scientific’ beliefs about God.

I also believe that one can not create a model of ‘God’ as the creator of the universe, nor do I understand that we have a model for the universe prior to the big bang. Thus as a scientist (First class honours degree in Chemistry, PhD in Electrochemistry) I agree that God does not presently exist nor does there exist something prior to the big bang. As a scientist, however, I am open to these opinions being changed.

As a person raised in the Christian culture, however, I believe that one can attempt to create a ‘metaphor’ of God just as we could attempt to create a model for what preceded the big bang. We create metaphors in many aspects of life for which we can not make a model or write an equation etc. We dispute these metaphors just as we dispute our scientific models.

Hamlet to me, for example, is a metaphorical description of the life of Edward De Vere (17th Earl of Oxford) and Polonius a description of Queen Elilzabeth’s adviser Lord Burghley. For those of you not familiar with the Shakespeare authorship studies, the historical research on the authorship question has moved me from having a 100% belief that the Stratford man wrote the plays, to a 70% belief that De Vere wrote them.

If you look at the biographies on the “Shakespeare of Stratford” you find that they are riddled with statements such as: ‘he probably went to school at...”, ‘it is likely that he travelled to....”, “it is thought that he .....”. What has happened with the Stratford man is that the mythologies surrounding his life have been historicized. When I was educated in the UK, the Stratford Shakespeare’s life was not taught to me as ‘myth’, it was (and I believe still is) taught as factual historical truth.

Dawkins does religion a great service by forcing those who believe in ‘God’ to think about why they continue to ‘factualize’ their metaphors. My journey in the study of the person, Jesus, what we know about him as historical fact (a couple of very small references) and what I was taught about him as ‘fact’, parallels my studies on Shakespeare the man.

It was in looking with a different perspective at the plays, their characters, their intrinsic truths, that led me to a greater understanding of the character of the person ‘Shakespeare’. My vision of him has been able to move with historical research away from a vision of a businessman in Stratford to an Earl in the Elizabethan court.

Now I don’t wish to get into a discussion here on the Shakespeare authorship question. The point that I am trying to make (badly perhaps) is that that our concepts about God, Jesus etc should not be defended as factual models, they need to remain in a state of ‘mystery’ (to use Helen-ann’s term in the Angelology blog) and that it is OK to change our metaphorical understanding of God as biblical research and scientific studies guide us.

I see ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Jesus' as persons differently today than I did 30 years ago and I may see both of them differently in the future.

That is for me growth in understanding.

Cordially,
Michael


  • 71.
  • At 02:54 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Come on you creationist chaps - tell us the one about the 6,000 year old earth - thats my favourite.

Billy tell us how old the diamond on your wife's engagement ring is. Give us all a laugh.

  • 72.
  • At 04:00 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Dennis Golden wrote:

Summarizing an excellent programme and expanding on it:

The apparent contradiction between the Theory of Evolution based
on scientific observation, and Creationism or the Theory of
Intelligent Design based on the literal interpretation of Genesis
and the assumption of the existence of a God, is a problem only
for the adherents of the fundamentalist Scripturanity branch of
Christianity. Other Christians have no problem with this, nor do
adherents of other religions, including Jews and Muslims whose
faiths too are derived from the Old Testament. Other faiths are
less concerned with where we came from than, like Jesus, with the
here and now and where we should go from here.

If Archbishop Usher's calculation of the date of Creation at about
4000 B.C.E. based on the number of generations recorded in the
Old Testament is valid, so too is a similar calculation on the
genealogy of Joseph given in the first chapter of Matthew's Gospel
which puts Jesus' date of birth at about 475 B.C.E. in the era of
Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tze (the three wise men from the east).

Despite the teachings attributed to Jesus (and to Buddha,
Confucius and Lao Tze) being woven into the fabric of Paul's
Christianity (a political movement disguised as a religion) via
the subsequent 1st century C.E. gospel story created around him,
Jesus, if he ever existed, was not a Christian and, had he lived
to see it, would probably have been horrified to find himself
Christified. Nor did he leave any scripture for misinterpretation.

  • 73.
  • At 07:36 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

So dennis is saying (sort of) that the earth might be 4000 years old (of course it might not be ;) ..).

Dennis is a little temerous here - there must be an uber creationist out there who thinks the world is no older than the roquefort in his fridge. Uhhh lets say 3000 years - anyone for any younger???

This is super - it's like a reverse auction - by next sundays sequence perhaps the world wont even have been created yet. (a handy explanantion for the lack of eveidence...)


SNAKE OIL MERCHANTS...

  • 74.
  • At 10:03 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Dennis

the world is 6000 years old is it?

Billy has had a laughable attempt to explain why we can see stars which are further away than 6000 light years.

PB just refused to answer the question saying he wasn't a Physicist.

Nonetheless -SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS tells us that on this basis (and others) the world cannot be 6000 years old. Explain this to me please - omitting if you can the words; Bible, Scripture, Lord, magic, Harry potter, midsummer fairy.

Yours in anticipation.

Gee son of Dubyah.

  • 75.
  • At 11:32 PM on 13 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. Hull, I was going to let you have the last word BUT; I couldn't help noticing that as an experienced debater, your biggest challenge seems to be debating yourself. So is Dawkins right, is there no God? Is God reduced to a metaphor? Does that make God real or unreal in or beyond the physical universe? I was thinking about the fact that you were raised in a Christian culture which so strongly influenced your thinking. I couldn't find the quote but I think it was Saint Thomas Aquinas who said words to the effect, "give me a five year old child and I'll return to you a good Christian for life. I started reading what Aquinas had to say and it was quite interesting.

Here's what he had to say about women;
“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active power of the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of a woman comes from defect in the active power”

Here's what he had to say about Jews;
“Since the Jews are the slaves of the Church, she can dispose of their possessions”

You think you escaped because you are not a woman or a Jew? Guess again, here's what he said about heretics;
“If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy”

And here's where I found it;
http://thinkexist.com/quotes/st._thomas_aquinas/4.html

Following a few links I started reading his Summa Theologica. It's very difficult for me to understand what he means given his arcane and archaic style of writing but I'm beginning to glean it. Fascinating what mideval men had to say about existance before any modern scientific knowledge. Wow did they ever get it wrong. But it's as hard as reading Aristotle and I confess I rarely even got his gist.

So as an expert chemist do you agree with Dawkins that the creation of DNA does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and assuming that I read it right, McIntosh got it dead wrong? What's your opinion of the relative stability of DNA as I should have said not in vivo (last night I mistakenly said in vitro). What I've read so far from them doesn't seem nearly so arcane as Aquinas and Aristotle.

BTW, where are the rest of the Christian soldiers around here marching as to war to defend the faith? I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me the answer to my simplest question about the paradox of a perfect God creating imperfect man. C'mon, this heathen needs spiritual guidance...pronto!

  • 76.
  • At 01:57 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Hi Mark

All parents must allow their children to make their own mistakes and find out the hard way, if they are to grow up.

God gave us free will because he wanted friends who would choose him, not robots. That means people must have freedom to reject him too.

PB

  • 77.
  • At 02:53 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Would Dawkins' stated belief in aliens in any way undermine his ability to teach his subject I wonder?

Not very scientific is it?

And was his reticence to answer McIntosh perhaps more likely that he was afraid what he was getting into?

I dont find his explanation for avoiding the question until under considerable pressure to answer it so convincing.

Perhaps he was more afraid of being cross examined by a worthy rival than anything else?

I dont think it would look good in a murder trial!

PB

  • 78.
  • At 03:14 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


GW

ref post 74

I see on Answers in Genesis website that they admit they do not have an answer to your starlight question.

It seems to me that is equivalent to the evolutionists not having a missing link, or knowling how the universe or life began, which Dawkins admitted was the current position of science.

I understand it is possible to be a creationist while still believing in a relatively old earth, perhaps that could be part of your answer.

I think that for both of us the view we take will be down to our individual faiths. Mine does not depend on creationism or evolution, though I understand yours (athiesm) does.

Sorry, not a scientist, best I could do.

PB

  • 79.
  • At 03:31 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb #76
"God gave us free will because he wanted friends who would choose him, not robots. That means freedom to reject him too."

So God giveth and religion taketh away? What would Islamic clerics of today and Christian clerics of not so long ago have done with atheists and apostates? Just see my quote in entry #75 about what Saint Thomas Aquinas said should be done with heretics. I think that about sums up what religion has to say when its power is unchecked.

  • 80.
  • At 04:54 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 75 Mark wrote:

“Michael N. Hull, I was going to let you have the last word BUT; I couldn't help noticing that as an experienced debater, your biggest challenge seems to be debating yourself.”

Twenty seven lines later ........ ‘currente calamo’ .... he finally asks two questions:

“1) So as an expert chemist do you agree with Dawkins that the creation of DNA does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and assuming that I read it right, McIntosh got it dead wrong? 2) What's your opinion of the relative stability of DNA as I should have said not in vivo (last night I mistakenly said in vitro)."

To which the answers are: 1) Yes and 2) Stable.

And just when I thought my flabber had been completely gasted he enquires:

“BTW, where are the rest of the Christian soldiers around here marching as to war to defend the faith? I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me the answer to my simplest question about the paradox of a perfect God creating imperfect man. C'mon, this heathen needs spiritual guidance...pronto!”

Poor soul, the paradox would be resolved if he looked no further than himself. Ecce signum!

Oleum perdisti
Michael

  • 81.
  • At 08:31 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB there are myriad missing links - I have pointed you to some of them and you have blithley ignored them. As usual.

Do your own research - Transitional species...

Honestly - you are completely disingenuous on this point.

What does relatively old mean?

I do not have a faith - I subscribe to the Scientific Consensus - if a minority theory moves to a consensus position - I will accept it - You may or may not depending how it fits with your beliefs - THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE.

  • 82.
  • At 10:34 AM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • luther's barber wrote:

Re: Mark #75

God created man MUTABLY good. Nonetheless, man was created GOOD & perfect in every way. In other words, he had/has the facility to act in accordance with his own will/heart's desire.

Mark, perhaps this ostentatious deficiency in your understanding of basic Christianity highlights your inability to truly grapple with the substantive issues at hand.

It is well for you Mark, that unlike the embittered Prof. Dawkins' treatment of McIntosh, most Christians will try to engage with YOU in a meaningful & productive way inspite of these limitations on your part.

As for Gee, if the 'scientific consensus' states that you should end your mother's life (I do not intend to be offensive here, just make a point) will you follow it? How big does this 'consensus' have to be before it is accepted? Can a minority opinion ever be right/correct?

"As Prof Richard 'Pichard' Dawkins would say Gee, 'BEAM ME UP SCOTTY'! "

LB

  • 83.
  • At 01:59 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. Hull #80
Never took Latin 101. If "...look no further than himself. Ecce Signum ("behold the sign")" means what I think it does, the fact that I exist proves the existance of God because no other plausible explanation exists, that's one of the most common claimed proofs of God's existance I've heard and one of my favorite arguements. And it is easily defeated but I won't do it here and now, it takes too long and it's really a topic worthy of an entire discussion all by itself.

luther's barber #82;
"man was created good and perfect in every way"

Hmmm...how do you reconcile that with original sin? I exist therefore I am bad.

"He has the facility to act in accordance with his own will/heart's desire."

Refer to my rejection of the notion of "free will" in my postings above. The essence of the problem science creates for free will is that since all matter and energy must act in obeyance with natural law right down to every last atom and molecule in ourselves, the part of our brain which tells us what our heart's desire is, is not subject to any arbitrary avoidance of those laws, but exists and behaves in accordance with them as well and their action was therefore predermined at the beginning of the universe along with everything else. Often, once the subject of natural law comes up, someone is bound to say "if there is a law, then there must be a law giver" which has always struck me along with many other questions and answers about existance as absurd. But it brings up the intriguing question, why would God create man with free will? Was he getting bored by lonliness and wanted an unpredictable companion to amuse himself with? In order to do that, he'd have to endow man with the power to circumvent the very laws he created as I just pointed out. Or he would have to endow man with a power which lies beyond the physical universe and its laws, the entity Christians would call the "soul." Not only does no proof of a soul exist, but no proof can exist because it lies beyond what can be measured or sensed in any way, how very well crafted the notion is. But if man has free will, does that mean God does not know how he will exercise it? If he doesn't, he is not an omniscient God. And if he does, then it is pointless to punish man for any transgressions of his laws which he knows before hand are inevitable. By the way, if man is born good and perfect as you say, how can he and why does he inevitably act badly and imperfectly. Even Moses committed sin by striking the rock to obtain water. How odd, a God creates man to inevitably develop thirst and the need to quench it lest he die, and then punish him for taking the only action possible to avert death. Is death a punishment of God? Yes, as he told Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when he explained to them what would happen if they ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil....they would surely die. Is death inevitable? Someone on another chat board signs that he "intends to live forever. So far so good." :>)

  • 84.
  • At 02:56 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Wendy Sharpless wrote:

I have only just heard the broadcast on Listen Again.
It is a pity no one challenged Richard Dawkins to precisely name one of his 6 evidences that make evolution absolutely certain. He got away with that.

The truth is that any 'evidence' is in the present eg a fossil or cell structure or DNA. This is the evidence all scientists have in front of them. They then interpret that evidence. Both Creation scientists and evolutionary scientists think this same evidence fits their world view.

Proper science is about observations and testing by experiment. You cannot do this on the past. Evolution is not therefore a scientific fact. It is not 'science' but a scientific model or theory. It is just as much a belief system as creation is. The debate therefore is between evolutionism and creationism.

In the classroom therefore evolution should taught as a theory and NOT a fact. And the evidence discussed. This is what the teachers' notes on the Truth in Science website aims to help. It discusses the evidence from say the peppered moth or antibiotic resistance in bacteria. As an ex Biology teacher I have found these notes very helpful and interesting.

ID is based on the observation that living things as so amazingly complex and efficient for their function that this suggests DESIGN and suggests there may be an INTELLIGENCE behind this. Even Dawkins admits that living things looked as if they are designed! But of course because he is an atheist he says they are not 'designed' but 'designoid'.
Truth in Science IS NOT ADVOCATING the teaching of CREATIONISM IN SCHOOLS.

  • 85.
  • At 05:10 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 83 Mark wrote:

“Michael N. Hull #80 Never took Latin 101. If "...look no further than himself. Ecce Signum ("behold the sign")" means what I think it does”

Mark:
I apologise for my assumption about the breadth of your education but if you were indeed “struggling with physics and chemistry” as you said in post 52 then it was perhaps better that you were not required to add Latin to the struggle. ;-)

In post 80 when I said:

“Twenty seven lines later ........ currente calamo .... he finally asks two questions”

I had hoped that you would get the ‘sub rosa’ meaning which would have kept the thought between you and me.

The phrase ‘currente calamo’ means ‘with pen running on’. It may be said about one who doesn’t stop to reflect and so he keeps his pen dribbling across the page.

So what I thought about your 27 lines was .........

Incidently, bravo with Ecce signum!

Oleum perdisti means you have lost oil. That is the oil that was burnt in your lamp illumining the page while writing the 27 lines ‘currente calamo’ were misspent (in my opinion of course).

In future I will try to keep my comments within the boundaries of your knowledge but thank God (or the atoms if you wish) that I find you are indeed normal like the rest of us and still have something to learn.

Regards,
Michael

Ps: You do get ‘sub rosa’, don’t you? ;-)

  • 86.
  • At 05:43 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Dennis Golden wrote:

Sunday Sequence 10 December 2006

Summarizing an excellent programme and expanding on it:

The apparent contradiction between the Theory of Evolution based
on scientific observation, and Creationism or the Theory of
Intelligent Design based on the literal interpretation of Genesis
and the assumption of the existence of a God, is a problem only
for the adherents of the fundamentalist Scripturanity branch of
Christianity. Other Christians have no problem with this, nor do
adherents of other religions, including Jews and Muslims whose
faiths too are derived from the Old testament. Other faiths are
less concerned with where we came from than, like Jesus, with the
here and now and where we should go from here.

If Archbishop Usher's calculation of the date of Creation at about
4000 B.C.E. based on the number of generations recorded in the
Old Testament is valid, so too is a similar calculation on the
genealogy of Joseph given in the first chapter of Matthew's Gospel
which puts Jesus' date of birth at about 475 B.C.E. in the era of
Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tze (the three wise men from the east).

Despite the teachings attributed to Jesus (and to Buddha,
Confucius and Lao Tze) being woven into the fabric of Paul's
Christianity (a political movement disguised as a religion) via
the subsequent 1st century C.E. gospel story created around him,
Jesus, if he ever existed, was not a Christian and, had he lived
to see it, would probably have been horrified to find himself
Christified. Nor did he leave any scripture for misinterpretation.

Dennis Golden

10 December 2006

  • 87.
  • At 09:31 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Michael N. Hull, #85; the motto of my school was "per aspera ad astra." If it hadn't been a struggle, they'd have felt their curriculum wasn't sufficiently challenging. They felt their job wasn't to design their courses to be as easy as possible to pass but exactly the opposite.

The more about the physical universe I learned, the more it occurred to me that physicists struggle with it as well. For in the final analysis, while they have countless thousands of equations which characterize the behavior of the physical universe, when you come right down to it and analyze what underlying aspects of it causes it to behave the way it does, it seems at least to me that in truth they haven't a clue. When I studied the Greeks, the instructor said (I think it was) Diogenes who went out into the world searching for an honest man with a lamp, to which a student quipped, when he got to New York City, someone stole his lamp.

  • 88.
  • At 10:50 PM on 14 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

87. At 09:31 PM on 14 Dec 2006, Mark wrote:

"When I studied the Greeks, the instructor said (I think it was) Diogenes who went out into the world searching for an honest man with a lamp, to which a student quipped, when he got to New York City, someone stole his lamp."

Mark:

How true! Living close to NY City I know the problem.

Though since 911 there has been quite a remarkable change. I think people are much more friendly. You can even ask a woman for directions on the subway and she doesn't stare at you with a semi-terrified expression. Mind you looking at me some might say they have good reason.

Cordially,
Michael

  • 89.
  • At 02:22 AM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • TGHO wrote:

I downloaded and listened to this show, following links on Richard Dawkin's site.

I must say that I am appalled at the level of sheer ignorance admitted to by a lecturer of advanced science at a leading English university. A professor of thermodynamics actually stating that evolution contradicts the second law of thermodynamics? The unmitigated stupidity of the man astounds.

On top of that, we had the other creationist (David McConagy) claiming that Stephen Gould once said that there was no evidence for evolution - this is an outright lie, a creationist canard which has been around since Dr Gould died, and it is absolutely shocking that Mr McConagy would say such a thing. I'm amazed he didn't try to slip in "Darwin recanted on this deathbed" as well!!

An overall good job by Prof. Dawkins to blow these two idiots out of the water and make them look like the complete fools they actually are. I would have preferred for Prof. Dawkins had more air time, as he was really the only one worth listening too.

Cheers,
TGHO

  • 90.
  • At 11:43 AM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Bernard

ref post 57
I am sorry to hear your mother finished her days in such an unpleasant manner.

My own mother had several strokes over a number of years, each disabling her a little more than the one previous.

It was a stroke which finally took her and it was not pleasant.

My take on it is that even of every one of us was in Eden we would all have eaten the fruit and introduced the sin into this work which causes illness and death. We all have this nature in us.

The positive point is that time is very fleeting where illness and evil reside.

In heaven sin will be exlcuded and bodies will be perfect for eternity.

BY the way Bernard, yes I did mean Islam, sorry; but what major dangers do you think creation science in schools would cause? Can you be specific and not vague, because I really think this view is a bit reactionary and hysteric.

PB

  • 91.
  • At 11:58 AM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

Mark

ref post 79

I strongly sympathise with your concerns about what has been done in the name of religion by apostates.

My view is that on judgement day on this particular issue I will be content to let those people explain to God what they thought they were doing, one by one, detail by detail.

Thankfully, on that particular issue I will not have to give an account of myself.

It may be worth remembering that Aquinas was elevated, as far as I am aware, in times when corrupt leaders had forbidden the common people from reading the bible for themselves.

So it is not surprising that his anti-biblical views were given credence at that time.

I think you may be too concerned with what man has said and not enought with the word of God.

PB

  • 92.
  • At 12:08 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

GW

ref post 81

I think you proposed that you had found missing links with outside of humans, which I have not examined and am not getting into here.

My narrow focus on this issue has always been, why has nobody yet found a convincing non-primate, non-human missing link between the two?

I dont recall you coming up with evidence on this and in fact a number of evolutionists on this site have admitted as such, with some saying they dont think any will every be found.

For the sake of argument, could the earth be millions of years old without evolution, ref starlight question? It has been suggested, I dont know. My faith does not depend on it, unlike yours.

Dawkins says we are always waiting for answers on;-

1) Where the universe came from
2) How life created itself out of mud

PB

  • 93.
  • At 12:09 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


TGHO

I would be much more convinced by your labelling McIntosh as guilty of sheer ignorance if you could explain why this is the case rather than lazily tossing a few insults, ref second law of thermodynamics.

Then we will all see what you are really made of...

Incidentally, would you say Dawkins is guilty of sheer ingnorance in saying he believes in aliens, as he states on the record while admitting it is speculation?

PB

  • 94.
  • At 12:39 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

TGHO, I did the same and had the same reaction. As I recall, what he said was that the formation of DNA tended to violate the second law of thermodynamics. Without plodding through the whole thing again or reading a transcript I can't be absolutely certain those were his exact words but that's how I remember them because it was a bit of a shock. And even though I knew from other postings he was going to say something like that, I found it distressing to hear him actually utter it. Not only did he get it dead wrong but by saying that "it tended to" he made it much worse. Of course it can't tend to, it either does or it doesn't. Why would he put it that way? Perhaps there is still part of his mind which knows it was wrong and kept him from being unequivocal about it. This is what I was talking about in the Miller thread in reference to reconciling what you know with what you want to believe. In McIntosh's case, it's possible he hasn't quite come to terms with this yet. It's hard to throw away the intellectual treasures accumulated over a lifetime of effort acquiring them to accomodate one's desire to hold to a cherished religious dogma. McIntosh disqualified himself as an instructor of anything in my opinion because he demonstrated that he is ruled by emotion, not intellect.

  • 95.
  • At 01:17 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb#91 you said; "I think you may be too concerned with what man has said and not enough with the word of god."

Well now there's a thought, "the word of god" by who's interpretation? It seems everyone has their own idea of what the word of God is. They read the bible or Koran and each seems to come away with a different conclusion of what was said. Even many of the most devout in their religion selectively choose which of the edicts and precepts to obey and believe and which to ignore. Does each have an imperfect understanding being an imperfect man created by a perfect god? And of course each one will tell you his is the only true way while all of the others however well meaning is wrong? (They're all going to hell for it anyway so what difference does it make :>) Some have even learned to tolerate each other's existance...on occasion. That of course may be a touchy subject here and I apologize if I've piqued anyone by mentioning it in light of the fact that this blog is based in Northern Ireland. Of course that is the usual arguement and it would be trite to leave it at that. Were I a believer, I would take the bible literally at its word. I'm a believer that people who want to convey an important thought should write or say exactly what is on their minds. Why would a bible which intends to explain all of existance and the demands made on man for eternal salvation to everyone including the often largely uneducated masses be made even the least bit cryptic? Not being Irish myself, I cannot accept the equivalent validity of scientifically based models and metaphors as some others can even though I enjoy poetry as much as anyone else. We take scientific books exactly at their word even if the full implications and ramifications of each idea has been omitted. Why does the bible get the luxury of the flexibility of poetic license? The only explanation I can think of is that its proponents must reconcile its teachings with known scientific fact which is why you heard on the Dawkins/McIntosh debate from theologians of many stripes that they now accept the theory of evolution as correct. They have successfully squeezed the full explanation of their theology into the remaining space left by what is still unknown and what is unknowable. It's the creationists and other literalists who won't and can't make that compromise. Therefore their only choice is to somehow persuasively discard the facts which inconveniently contradict their literal interpretation of "The Word."

  • 96.
  • At 01:22 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB

you aren't really interested in Science so why draw TGHO on this?

I think it is a common creationist tactic to maintain discourse on a superficial level. To cite unprovable supernatural interference when asked for hard evidence, and to disingenuously exploit peer review as schisms in theory, whilst refusing to acknowledge scientific consensus.

  • 97.
  • At 03:56 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB

Did you not read post 81 properly?

It clearly says that I do not have a faith, that I subscribe to a Scientific Consensus, and as that changes, so will my view. Yours will never change, it is rooted to dogma.

To show evolution at work in any species is to show evolution. Your "narrow focus" is convenient. And disingenuous. A charge you refuse to meet.

Scientific consensus accepts Homo floresiensis as a missing link - but I'm sure you wont, because you cant...

And no - I don't know if the earth could be millions of years old without evolution - but i would say yes. Carbon dating, geology all point to an ancient earth as does astronomy, it doesnt hinge on evolution. Whats your point?


What is your point on things we dont know - that we , err , dont know them yet?

Not news...

But we will.

We didn't know the earth was round, we didnt know why ice floated - we didnt know how to treat appendicitis - science has given us those answers. And it will continue to answer questions. Do you dispute this?

Be a man about it - dont pretend you wont answer questions about evoloution in other species because you cant be bothered. Cant be bothered to what? To think for yourself? To challenge what you hold dear?

If someone disproves evolution tomorrow to the satisfaction of a scientific consensus I will accept that. Can you say the same about your account? No you can not.

I am astounded you have the nerve to say I am entrenched.

What say you?

  • 98.
  • At 06:02 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 95, Mark wrote:

“Not being Irish myself, I cannot accept the equivalent validity of scientifically based models and metaphors as some others can”.

Mark:

I haven’t given up on you yet!

BTW once you check your haplogroup you will be able to say this with more certainty (See post 8 in 'Finding Darwin's God').

Incidentally what do others think of my position on models and metaphors – the rest of you are very quiet?

Why don’t some of you throw out a couple of comments or two on the subject. We all might learn something – I probably will.

I know what Mark thinks but the rest of you .....????

Mark also wrote:

“Well now there's a thought, "the word of god" by who's interpretation? It seems everyone has their own idea of what the word of God is.”

My position is that the bible consists of the "words of men" as they searched for the meaning of “God”. That’s why it is mostly a metaphorical document with some history behind it.

I would say the same thing about the Trojan war – we think there was actually such a war but later Greek writers historicized much of the mythology behind what occurred in the war and scholars are now quite uncertain about the historical facts.

Same thing happened with the bible – much of it is historicized metaphor – written by man about his ‘interactions’ with God.

Just my opinion!

Cordially,
Michael

ps: See, Mark, how much we seem to have in common ;-)

  • 99.
  • At 08:20 PM on 15 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

I must admit some prejudice based on personal experience in the matter of the esteem I hold those who value poetry in general and Irish poetry in particular in. It must have been over 30 years ago that the manufacturers of Paddy's and Murphy's Irish Whiskey advertised an Irish Poet's poetry contest in the Sunday New York Times. The entry had to in some way related to Paddy's and Murphy's Irish Whiskey. My sister and I entered one of the most hillarious and rediculous limericks I can ever remember (sadly long lost and forgotten now.) We did not win. The winning entrant was a misty dewy eyed pile of sentimental manure about some colleen that was hardly a worthy challenge to us. We got some foolish little certificate attesting that we were true Irish poets which we promptly tore up and threw away when we saw the published winner. You don't mind being beaten by something really good but this was rubbish. Ever since then.....

I haven't given up on you yet either. Your acknowledgement in 80 that McIntosh got it wrong about the second law of thermodynamics as it relates to entropy in the creation of DNA and that DNA is a relatively stable molecule on its own tells me that you are still among the rational even if we disagree on other matters. This means to me that a meaningful exchange of ideas between us is still possible.

I hope TGHO replies to PB's challenge in #93. If he doesn't, I will. I don't think the self impeachment of Andy McIntosh is something to be "tossed off as a few insults" and lightly dismissed at that. On the contrary, I view it as a terrible tragedy which goes to the heart of the matter where previously respected scientists reject what they know or should know to be true to lend their reputation to theories which aren't just bad science but anti-science. This in part is why people like Miller in the United States take the debate so seriously, the outcome could affect the future course of our entire society.

  • 100.
  • At 02:44 AM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Michael N. Hull wrote:

In post 99 Mark wrote:

"I must admit some prejudice based on personal experience in the matter of the esteem I hold those who value poetry in general and Irish poetry in particular. ... My sister and I entered one of the most hilarious and ridiculous limericks I can ever remember ..... We did not win. The winning entrant was a misty dewy eyed pile of sentimental manure about some colleen that was hardly a worthy challenge to us. We got some foolish little certificate attesting that we were true Irish poets which we promptly tore up and threw away when we saw the published winner. You don't mind being beaten by something really good but this was rubbish. Ever since then....."

Mark:

The following is a serious comment!

How about entering the Crawley 272 word challenge?

I think given your mastery of language and your clear articulation of your position you would have a very good shot at winning it.

And from what I understand Crawley has promised a bit better prize than a 'certificate' which should be an added inducement.

I'm not clear what happens on January 1 as to whether all the entries are to be published at once for discussion or whatever but presumably we will see how this unfolds in the New Year.

If I have the count right, John Wright, Billy, JK, and me have committed to the endeavor. PB are you in - I can't remember? Alan Watson and Gee what about both of you?

  • 101.
  • At 08:40 AM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

Michael,

I did start tapping a 272 word jaw dropper - but I'm not as silver tongued as some here - tending to the abrasive a little quickly perhaps.

Nonetheless you may see something from my pen in due course. I'm just a little conscious sometimes it looks like we debate here for debates' sake and the style of a stroke can offset the distance from it's intended target.

I havn't ignored your comments about models - I just don't really know what to offer on it. We can model away to our hearts content - I could bulid a cracking flat earth model - but whats the point? If the bible/creationism is a model then it's on the shelf by the flat earth model I think, interesting but fanciful, and no basis in science.

As regards metaphors for love etc ( I recall a frdge defrosting on a previous blog!:0 ) I think that these are marvellously complex states of consciousness reducible to a biological analogue of machinery - but not diminished by their humble origins (Chemistry, Biology etc). A metaphor such as Shakespeare may employ is valid, and even has an aesthetic in it's own right. I have no problem with that. But surely you arent saying the bible/creationism is a metaphor for a non-divine origin theory? Are you?

I'm on terra incognita here so thats my best stab at it...

  • 102.
  • At 02:03 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Mark

ref post 95

Sorry but this seemed well nigh impenetrable to me.

My point was not at all to sneak in an assumption about the divine inspiration of the bible under your radar.

My point was that if you want to critique the Christian tradition then in my view you would be most credible in doing it by showing where obviously off the rail comments like those of Aquinas contradict the bible.

So I strongly sympathise with all the lies, evil and corruption you cite which was done in the name of Christ.

But I would suggest none of this discredits Christ; there are lots of lunatics who wrap themselves in the American flag, but that does not discredit America.

To repeat, Paul commended the Berean Christians for testing everything he said by the bible. And he warned that wolves would attack the church after he left.
There are many warnings like this in scripture, in fact most of the News Testament is letters written to correct heresies and evil creeping into the church.

So I commend your approach of citing and exposing evil where it has taken on the mantle of Christ; this is a very biblical thing to do.

PB

  • 103.
  • At 02:22 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

GW

ref post 97, I would say you need a fair bit of faith to believe in evolution.

But you must also have a faith of sorts to disbelieve in God.

Therefore, if you came across evidence for creationism you would have to consider if you would reevalute your faith.

But my faith does not depend on whether creationism or evolution is true.

Correct me if I am wrong, but scientific models are only accepted as factual when their results can be replicated under controlled conditions in a lab and approved by peer review. Is this wrong?

And if it is not, shouldnt evolution remain a model until it can be demonstrated, because at the moment we are arguing over interpretations of data from fossils.

Surely you are being deliberatly obtuse when you refuse to see the significance of the fact that there is no scientific explanation for how the universe came into being, or how life formed itself out of mud?

You are reverting to the ridiculous as you have done before by advancing the idea that I dispute science will continue to make discoveries. It is more ridiculous to presume what they will be.

It just doesnt make sense to me that scientists would jump to solid conclusions about evolution or creationism one way or the other, until this is settled.

Any my view is not rooted to dogma, I merely think creationism seems more credible than evolution, no more than that.

My point about an old earth is that, say for argument it is as old as you think. That could explain how we have starlight. But that does not disprove that creationism could have happened in an old earth scenario.

I have significant domestic and professional demands on my time at present and am being honest when I say I dont have the time to gen up on evolution this week, maybe over Christmas, so dont assume a hidden motive from me.

I would say if evolution was absolutely proven I would accept it, I would have no option.

Give me half a dozen non-human, non-primate missing links frozen in ice and I think we would be getting somewhere.


PB


  • 104.
  • At 03:44 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

a quick fire response as i too am busy - there are half a dozen transitional species in the evolution of the horse - I told you that a few weeks ago. Go look. Evolution - QED.

Scientific fact must be replicated in a lab.

Which aspect of evolution isnt replicable? The mutation of genes? The survival of the fittest?

I concede we dont understand the origins of life. I never said otherwise - but smarter people than you or I (we both know how much you value a Phd in the right discipline!) have debated it and more people say chemistry has the answer than than say it needs a magic wand. So which is more credible?

  • 105.
  • At 07:49 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

pb#102; where do obviously off the rail quotations like aquinas contradict the bible?

Jesus Christ said: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto..." and:
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Aquinas; "since jews are the slaves of the chruch she can dispose of their possessions."

Jesus; "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone"

Aquinas; "If forgers and malefactors are put to death by the secular power, there is much more reason for excommunicating and even putting to death one convicted of heresy."

If the bible is right, Satin Thomas Aquinas will certainly spend eternity in hell.

  • 106.
  • At 09:31 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Mark

If you read through Romans and Hebrews you will see that biblical judiasm is the foundation of the New Testament church and has not replaced it. So could Aquinas condemn the Jews like that?

Also, there is nowhere in the New Testament that says heretics should be slain for their beliefs by other men.

Two of the disciplies at one point called on Jesus to call down death and destruction on a town that would not believe and Christ strongly rebuked them.

I am not certain of where you are coming from but I hope you find that relevant.

PB

PS GW, so from your posting it would appear you are accepting that evolution is not a fact as it has not been replicated in a lab?

And if you claim there are transitional species in ref the horse, can you name them and give me a solid explanation as to why they were not species that were created as is?

  • 107.
  • At 11:23 PM on 16 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

PB#106, it seems to me whatever point you are looking to make about almost anything, you can find something somewhere in the bible to back it up either explicitly or implicitly. With such a large book which contains so many stories which are so diverse, that would hardly be surprising but when you can then consider any and all of them to be metaphors to be twisted into whatever pretzel mold you like, well...in the words of George Tennet, "it's a slam dunk."

  • 108.
  • At 02:25 AM on 17 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Mark

You have set me the challenge of Aquinas and I have taken the trouble to answer it in a black and white fashion.

These are not interpretations, the New Testament is not that big a book, read it for yourself.

I have given you clear answers to what you proposed as sincere questions and you throw it back at me?

You are way off the mark here. It seems to me there are many people on this blog who are fighting with God and the best answer they can ever come up with when you take the trouble to show the passage that is relevant is "that is just your interpretation".

But I think such people are usually found out because when challenged they cannot even begin to offer another interpretation. It just appears to be a mask they hide behind.

And if you offered 20 answers to 20 questions you can be sure they would reject every one, even when the text is plain.

So Mark, I dont want to patronise you, but I wish you well. If you want to converse again sincerely I should be around.

Best

PB


PB

  • 109.
  • At 10:03 AM on 17 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB

No scientific theories can be proved incontrovertibly. They supply an explanation which is improved as science answers more questions. That was my point.
All of the processes contained in the theory of Evolution are known to exist - genetic mutation, natural selection etc. These things can be proven, but any thoery cannot. It can only be disproven. Gravitation, for instance cannot be proven - but we do not cringe in fear of spinning off the planet.

The evolution of the horse is well summarised in a number of places - I'm not going to sit here and type it out for you. Hedre are the species names:
Eocene and Oligocene: Early equids
2.1 Hyracotherium
2.2 Orohippus
2.3 Epihippus
2.4 Mesohippus
2.5 Miohippus
3 Miocene and Pliocene: True equines
3.1 Kalobatippus
3.2 Parahippus
3.3 Merychippus
3.4 Hipparion
3.5 Pliohippus
3.6 Dinohippus
3.7 Plesippus

If these species were all created on day one why are there no carbon dating and geology pointers to all species coexisting?

Is this not the objection you would posit on any future human/primate transitional species...

This just isnt a controversial theory PB - the only people who dispute it are creationists. Creationists demand evidence for scientific theories, yet require none other than the bible for god-stuff. It makes no sense to me. The fact that it makes sense to you tells me that our discussion is pointless. So I have answered your questions, again, and you have merely wriggled away from questions you've been asked. Which becomes boring.

I have had enough of this futile debate, no disrespect intended, but on the evidence available today neither of us are for changing.

  • 110.
  • At 01:46 PM on 18 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

GW

I am not wriggling away but I need time to study this and I have a very demanding domestic life at the moment on top of a full time job.

I dont for a second expect either of us to change our minds but I think we can still be gracious and learn from each other; it is perhaps not very easy to learn from people who think exactly as you do.

I will look into the horse thing over Christmas and come back on this blog...ok?

best

PB

  • 111.
  • At 04:07 PM on 18 Dec 2006,
  • Gee Dubyah wrote:

PB,

as a nod to the season, whilst saying neigh! to horses, don't forget the little donkey ;)

  • 112.
  • At 10:42 PM on 18 Dec 2006,
  • TGHO wrote:

Gidday pb,

Very simply, the argument that evolution contradicts the second law of thermodynamics is sheer stupidity because the Earth is not a closed system. There is energy being fed into the system from an outside source - the sun. Thus order can increase locally, with "locally" being the Earth.

For more, see here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CF/CF001.html

A professor of thermodynamics should know this. Trying to claim otherwise indicates that Dr. McIntosh is putting his religion before his duties as both a scientist and an educator. For such a horrific breach of standards, he should (must!) be removed from his teaching position.

I can't remember which commenter it was on the show, but one of the chaps said something along the lines of "I don't know why religion is trying to fight this, every time they have gone up against science they have lost. They lost the flat earth, they lost the earth-centric universe, they lost the historic jesus, they will lose this one as well". That's a comment I 100% agree with.

Cheers,
TGHO

  • 113.
  • At 12:08 AM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


Hi TGHO

I dont begin to see how your explanation contradicts creationism, I am not a scientist.

Please clarify.

PB

  • 114.
  • At 12:55 AM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

The second law of thermodynamics says that in any real process, the total entropy, a measure of chaos or disorder of the UNIVERSE increases. In the process of creating DNA, the entropy of the DNA molecule compared to that of the starting constituents goes down but the total entropy of the universe goes up because the directed energy expended to create the DNA molecule can never be recovered in breaking the DNA back down into those constituents and turned back into an equivalent amount of usable directed energy such as electricity. At least some will be lost forever as the chaotic energy of heat. Andy McIntosh knows this. He has taught it. It's as elementary to him as the alphabet is to someone who writes novels or newspaper articles for a living. This is what he has always taught to his students, this is what was taught to him and he has lived with this as an inviolable law of the natural universe. Then why would he make such an elementary mistake? Has he become mentally incompetent? Has he misspoken in the heat of an argument? Is he lying knowing his statements are false to lend credence and legitimacy to a belief which is more valuable to him than his mental discipline as a trained scientist? Has he managed somehow to convince himself? It doesn't matter, he has not recanted and his mistake is unacceptable and unforgivable. He will never have standing in the scientific or engineering community again as long as he lives and shouldn't be favored with the privelege that respect confers. TGHO is right and I think most other scientists and engineers would feel exactly the same way about it.

  • 115.
  • At 01:42 AM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

OOPS!, left half of my last post out. I must have had a senior moment. What I explained is why the entropy of the DNA is lower than its constituents. What I omitted and should have added explicitly is that in the process of forming DNA, other processes must occur which create a greater quantity of entropy than the DNA constituents are lowered by. This is what McIntosh denied. BTW, it doesn't matter if it happens in nature or in a laboratory, the same law holds true. There, now it makes sense and I can sleep easy.

  • 116.
  • At 06:00 AM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • TGHO wrote:

Gidday PB,

The common creationist argument is this:
1) The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy increases in any given system,
2) Evolution leads to increased order,
3) Thus evolution must be wrong!

This ignores the basic points of:
1) The Second Law only states that entropy will not decrease (NB: it can remain stable too) in closed systems - the Earth is not a closed system,
2) Evolution does not necessarily lead to overall increased order (see Mark's post #114),
3) Entropy and Disorder are not necessarily the same, it is quite possible to have both a high level of entropy and a high level of order in a localised area (such as the Earth).

The core point is, as Mark and Dr. Dawkins both said, it is unbelievable that a Professor of Thermodynamics at Leeds University would put forth such a view. It's totally insane. This man should lose his teaching position for espousing such views.

And you do not need to be a scientist to understand this stuff. It's basic high school physics mate.

Cheers,
TGHO

  • 117.
  • At 03:52 PM on 19 Dec 2006,
  • Dennis golden wrote:

Isn't it odd that creationists, in whatever guise, coming mainly
from the ranks of fundamentalist so-called Christians, should use
as their authoritative source of reference the archaic texts of a
pre-Christian religion.

The Book of Genesis was written, according to biblical scholars,
by or at the time of Moses, about 1250 BC, when Judaism was in its
very infancy, far removed from the level of development to which
Judaism had evolved by the time of the birth of Christianity, and
even further removed from present day Judaism.

Isn't it odd that Creationist so-called Christians should give
more credence to the pre-Christian Old Testament's theoretical
concept of "The Beginning" than to the Christian New Testament
concept.

The New Testament concept of "the beginning" of "all things" is
found in the Gospel of John, Chapter 1.

John says that "all things came to be". He does not say they were
created.

John says that "in the beginning was the Word". A word is an
expression of a concept. John wrote his gospel in Greek, and the
word he used (and which has been loosely translated into English
as "Word") was LOGOS.

"Logos" means not simply "word". It implies reason, structure,
wisdom; a process, development, evolution of thought. Hence we get
"logic", "logical", "-logy" as in geology, biology, theology,
mythology.

Thus "In the beginning was the Word (Logos)" means:-

"In a timeless pre-existence there was a formula, a potential, by
which all things came to be." (a sort of LOGICAL inevitability).

A formula is not designed, invented, or created. It is discovered.
It already exists.

"All things" are expressions, manifestations, evolutions of that
formula or potential. They were not created. They/we have a
LOGICAL right to be.

Christianity in general, prejudiced by the pre-Christian concept
of an act of creation by an anthropomorphic interventionist deity
(as defined in the Creed), has misinterpreted and failed to
appreciate the significance of John's New Testament concept of
"The Beginning".

John's concept is remarkably modern, non-dogmatic, and open to
ever-evolving understanding in the "light" of evolving knowledge
derived from intelligent observation and LOGICAL investigation, a
process known as science; "the light of Men, that enlightens all
Men" (except, apparently, fundamentalist creationists).

Dennis Golden 11 January 2004

  • 118.
  • At 12:08 AM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


So Mark and TGHO

If what you are saying is that the second law of thermodynamics states that in any given process total chaos increases.

eg My car eventually runs down and breaks. I can see an argument that evolution is exactly the opposite, that without any guidance or maintence, my car randomly repairs itself and evolves into a ferrari?

I know I am being provocative, but where do you guys take the argument from there?

PB

PS Denis Cooley, that is a rather naughty misrepsentation of the Gospel of John. It does not contractdict Genesis, which says "let us make man in our own image..." ie it is speaking of the trinity, right there at the very start of the Old Testament creating man. John simply elucidates on the role of Christ in the creation by the trinity, it is complimentary.

The NT also carries detailed geneologies of Christ right back to Adam and in Romans speaks of a literal Adam.


And John explicitly states that the logos is Christ, also stating he made all things.
Did you actually read John before you wrote that Denis or did you read someone else who claimed to have read John? Very strange.

  • 119.
  • At 03:21 AM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • TGHO wrote:

Gidday pb,

[Quote]
"If what you are saying is that the second law of thermodynamics states that in any given process total chaos increases."
[/Quote]

No.

Note that entropy does not necessarily equal chaos. Any given system can have a high level of entropy AND a high level of order.

Further note that "process" does not equal "system". A system can be made up of a myriad of processes, and some processes may increase entropy, others may decrease it. Overall, the system does not decrease in entropy - and that only if there is no outside influence on the system. If there are outside influences, such as a constant source of energy being input into the system, then the second law does not fully apply.

That's all the second law states.

Your example is spurious, in that you need to replace "guidance or maintenance" with energy. Also replace "car" with "camel". Now you'll have a clearer picture.

Cheers,
TGHO

  • 120.
  • At 07:47 AM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:

TGHO, Mark

So if I have got that right TSLO Thermodynamics means that my car eventually runs down and crumbles as chaos in it increases.

Does evolution then suggest that over billions of years it should actually be able to evolve into a ferrari instead?

I am seeing the key point of the debate that without intelligent guidance, chaos increases, as creationists presumably argue.

PB

  • 121.
  • At 10:51 AM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


TGHO

I hear what you say, but is my line of thinking in line with creationist argument regarding TSLOT?

PB

  • 122.
  • At 02:07 AM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • TGHO wrote:

Gidday pb,

Your line of thinking is pretty much 100% in agreement with the common creationist argument in this area.

However, let me clearly point out that common creationist argument in this area IS WRONG. Looking at your post #120, remember to exchange "car" with "camel", as evoution has no effect on non-organic objects. Furthermore, understand (please) that an external energy source is required (in Earth's case, this is the Sun).

Furthermore, remember that entropy does not necessarily equal disorder or chaos. And it does not have to increase, just not decrease.

Cheers,
TGHO

  • 123.
  • At 12:46 AM on 23 Dec 2006,
  • pb wrote:


TGHO

You are not really addressing the point head on are you?

Why is it that all natural processes degenerate of their own accord but that DNA does the opposite.

I dont contest any of the points in post 122 except for the one where you say I am wrong.

I think you should at least demonstrate your answer to my question first.

PB

  • 124.
  • At 02:13 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Balti wrote:


Re: Post20
pb #18, anyone who thinks the world is only 6000 years old isn't paleo enough to be called a paleontologist. They should more appropriately be called..."novelists

Got to say - this made me chuckle - do you mean that any young-earther is not old enough to be a scientist?

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