Reasons to Believe (that Creationists are Crazy)

By Sean Carroll | October 9, 2008 9:12 am

So the Origins Conference sponsored by the Skeptics Society was held last Saturday, and a good time was had by all. Or, at least, a good time was had by most. Or, maybe the right thing to say was that a good time was had much of the time by many of the people.

More specifically: the morning session, devoted to science, was fun. The evening entertainment, by Mr. Deity and his crew, was fantastic. In between, there was some debate/discussion on science vs. religion. Ken Miller is a biologist who believes strongly that science should be taught in science classrooms — he was an important witness in the Dover trial — and who happens also to be a Catholic. He gave an apologia for his belief that was frustrating and ultimately (if you ask me) wrong-headed, but at least qualified as reasonable academic discussion. He was followed by Nancey Murphy, a theologian who was much worse; she defended her belief in the efficacy of prayer by relating an anecdote in which she prayed to God to get a job, and the phone immediately rang with a job offer. (I am not, as Dave Barry says, making this up.) And Michael Shermer and Vic Stenger represented the atheist side, although both talks were also frustrating in their own ways.

But all of that just fades into the background when put into the same room as the sheer unadulterated looniness of the remaining speaker, Hugh Ross. Despite warnings, I didn’t really know anything about the guy before the conference began. The taxonomy of crackpots is not especially interesting to me; there are too many of them, and I’d rather engage with the best arguments for positions I disagree with than spend time mocking the worst arguments (although I’m not above a bit of mockery now and then).

So I was unprepared. For those of you fortunate enough to be blissfully unaware of Ross’s special brand of lunacy, feel free to stop reading now if you so choose. For the rest of you: man, this guy is nuts. And he’s not even the most nuts it’s possible to be — he’s an “old-earth” creationist, willing to accept that the universe is 14 billion years old and that the conventional scientific interpretation of the fossil record is generally right. Still: totally nuts.

Ross’ talk took two tacks. First, he explained to us how the Bible predicted that: (1) the universe started from an initial singularity; (2) it is now expanding; and (3) it is cooling down at it expands. The evidence for these remarkable claims? A long list of Bible verses! Well, not the verses themselves. Just the citations. So we couldn’t really tell what the verses themselves said. Except for poor Ken Miller, who was trying to salvage some last shred of dignity for his side of the debate, and had the perspicacity to look up one of the verses on his iPhone. (Praise be to technology!) I’m not sure which verse it was, but that’s okay, because they all say precisely the same thing. Here is Isaiah 45:12, in the New International Version:

It is I who made the earth
and created mankind upon it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.

What’s that? You don’t see the bold prediction of Hubble’s Law, practically ready for peer review? It’s right there, in the bit about “stretched out the heavens.” To the mind of a non-crazy person, this is a poetic way of expressing the fact that the dome of the sky reaches from one horizon to the other. To Hugh Ross, though, it’s a straightforward scientific prediction of the expansion of the universe.

Here is Ross in person, going through some of these same arguments:

(Yes, that video is embedded from “GodTube.com.”)

His second tack was to explain how our universe is finely-tuned for the existence of life. We’ve all heard this kind of claim, from real scientists as well as crackpots. But Ross and his clan take it to grotesque extremes, as detailed in the website for his Reasons to Believe ministry. Where, by the way, they don’t believe the LHC will destroy the world! Rather, it will “provide even new reasons to trust the validity of Scripture.” It would be nice if they would tell us what those reasons are ahead of time. Does Scripture predict low-energy supersymmetry? Large extra dimensions?

According to Reasons to Believe, the chance of life arising on a planet within the observable universe is only 1 in 10282 — or it would have been, if it weren’t for divine miracles. (Don’t tell them about there are 10500 vacua in string theory, it would ruin everything.) They get this number by writing down a long list of criteria that are purportedly necessary for the existence of life (“star’s space velocity relative to Local Standard of Rest”; “molybdenum quantity in crust”; “mass distribution of Oort Cloud objects”), then they assign probabilities to each, and cheerfully multiply them together. To the non-crackpot eye, most have little if any connection to the existence of life, and let’s not even mention that many of these are highly non-independent quantities. (You cannot calculate the fraction of “Sean Carroll”s in the world by multiplying the fraction of “Sean”s by the fraction of “Carroll’s. As good Irish names, they are strongly correlated.) It’s the worst kind of flim-flam, because it tries to cover the stench of nonsense by squirting liberal doses of scientific-smelling perfume. If someone didn’t know anything about the science, and already believed in an active God who made the universe just for us, they could come away convinced that modern science had vindicated all of their beliefs. And that’s not something any of us should sit still for.

There is a reason why all this is worth rehashing, as distasteful as it may be and as feeble as the arguments are. Namely: there is no reason whatsoever to invite such a person to speak at a conference that aspires to any degree of seriousness. You can invite religious speakers, and you can have a debate on the existence of God; all that is fine, so long as it is clearly labeled and not presented as science. But there’s never any reason to invite crackpots. The crackpot mindset has no legitimate interest in an open-minded discussion, held in good faith; their game is to take any set of facts or arguments and twist them to fit their pre-determined conclusions. It’s the opposite of the academic ideal. And it’s an insult to religious believers to have their point of view represented by crackpots.

Which, if you want to be excessively conspiratorial, might have been the point. Perhaps the conference organizers wanted to ridicule belief in God by having it defended by Hugh Ross, or perhaps they wanted to energize the skeptical base by exposing them to some of the horrors that are really out there. Still, it was inappropriate. If we non-believers are confident in our positions, we should engage with the most intelligent and open-minded exemplars of the other side. Shooting fish in a barrel is not a sport that holds anyone’s attention for very long.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Religion
  • Garth A Barber

    And it’s an insult to religious believers to have their point of view represented by crackpots.

    Thank you Sean for such a reasonable post, a change from the ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ rant that we often hear.

    Garth

  • hatcher

    I’m curious – what was Ken Miller apologetic about?
    Catholics accept evolution, accept physics-based explanations of the universe, have their own astronomy labs, etc…
    The new pope is a bit of an old school loon (which is an utter tragedy), but the dogma itself is still science friendly.
    If you view the very belief in a deity as something a scientist *must* de facto be apologetic for, your view rapidly spins into the realm of intolerance – which I highly doubt is the case, and hence why I’m asking.

  • John Farrell

    Man I wish I’d been there with my Sony VX2000. This could have made for a great video….
    :)

  • http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/ David McMahon

    Hugh Ross is an interesting case because he holds a PhD in astronomy from the University of Toronto. That shows the power of belief. Ross knows what the universe is like and is coming up with any connection no matter how ridiculous to tie astronomy to the Bible and make it all work out. Because he wants so strongly to believe in the literal truth of the bible. But when it comes down to it, non-believers are a very small minority. Even among scientists. What people in academia don’t often realize is that they are in an insulated world. Most scientists that work in corporations or in the national labs are not non-believers. To the contrary- you would be surprised to find out how many scientists are strong believers and even religious fanatics. I think Ross represents a minority view too, Ken Miller is more of a mainstream position.

  • Matt

    Before I go into flamebait territory, let me make it clear that I agree with Sean 100%.

    That said, now let me try to make the argument that there is an important place for people like Hugh Ross in our nation, at the current moment in our history.

    You may not be surprised to hear that Christian culture has a lot of built-in skepticism towards science, evolution and cosmology in particular. I would argue that Ross, crackpot that he is, is a necessary evil in that he acts as a sort of gateway drug to scientific thought. His arguments help a certain type of christian get out of their dogmatic worldview and accept the possibility that their holy book *may* actually allow for some of the current scientific consensus. It’s certainly the spectrum I followed from my evangelical “don’t make a monkey out of me” childhood into a rational, passionate about science adulthood. I’m not sure I would have gotten here without Ross’s particular form of argument.

    That said, the Origins Conference is absolutely not the forum for someone like Ross. But the more people like him that infect the culture of christianity, the better for all of us, says I.

  • Big Vlad

    David McMahon, that might be true in America, but it’s certainly not true here in Europe. A religious scientist here is in an extreme minority.

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  • RationalZen

    Not arguing for one side or the other.

    Many great thinkers were thought of as crackpots in their own times.

    Maybe they should stop putting lipstick on the pig (to borrow a popular phrase) for the conferences though, that might be nicer.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/sunclipse/ Blake Stacey

    Hmmm. That verse from Isaiah is clearly in the past tense (“I who made the Earth / and created mankind upon it”), so according to Hugh Ross, the expansion of the Universe should have stopped.

    To the mind of a non-crazy person, this is a poetic way of expressing the fact that the dome of the sky reaches from one horizon to the other.

    An apt choice of phrase, considering that Genesis 1:6 describes the sky as a dome made of beaten metal sheets (raqiya, translated as “firmament”), in line with Near Eastern thinking when the P document was written. No doubt Hugh Ross will tell us that raqiya really refers to the Friedmann-Robertson-Walker metric. Surely he’d be willing to incur the wrath of the Young-Earth Creationists who need the “waters above the firmament” for their “vapor canopy” idea!

  • Remigiusz

    To RationalZen:

    Just the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
    —Carl Sagan

  • http://www.math.brown.edu/~lubinj Jonathan Lubin

    Several years back I went to a talk by Hugh Ross at some fundamentalist church in Monrovia, ten miles east of Pasadena. I found the whole thing unutterably sad. The questions from the audience made it clear that these people were desperate to have the literal truth of their Bible authenticated with the cultural seal of approval given by Modern Science. I thought that Ross was most reprehensibly living off these people’s naive needs.

  • brad

    I found Miller somewhat hypocritical too. He tried to make the case that he could accept a notion
    of God that existed entirely outside/beyond nature and was therefore not subject to examination or disproof by scientific methods. Yet he then happily endorsed religions whose cornerstone is some kind of “revealed truth”. So he would suspend the distinction between God and nature for a couple of shepherds that existed a few thousand years ago, so that God could briefly communicate “his word”, but after that, the wall comes down again. Really, not a whole lot more sensible than Mr Ross (who has mailed me his books before, so I was informed and skipped out beforehand!)

    The science talks were good indeed, although I found Koch’s assertions about consciousness being something “more” or “beyond” a little sketchy.

  • Tbird49er

    Thanks for an entertaining piece! It is always fun to see “crackpots” outed, and discover the polar netherlands of personal opinion (from my perspective, of course!). I have come to suppose that it is, perhaps, the rare person who is comfortable in a bicameral mind vis a vis science and religion. I do not “need” science to “prove” religion, nor do I try to limit or manipulate science through religion (thinking of religion as a set of beliefs, not the organized practice of dogmatic ritual). This is similar to the postulations in a collection of writings edited by Ken Wilber in “Quantum Questions” so long ago.

    If science can advance, develop, indeed evolve through direct observation and experiment, I find no irony in the advancement and evolution of religion. That there have been/are “fixed” points or fundamental foundations of either, whereupon we have taken the next step, seems only logical for human-kind. Is it just me, or does it seem there are those who expect religion to be fully developed/fully “morphed” (with all questions and issues answered)? Taking inflexible positions, on either side of the asile, can limit the horizons of our knowledge (or beliefs and faith). Science might have “established” the age of the universe at about 14.5 Billion years, but I choose to include the descriptive of “observable universe” and remain open to both the possibility of a “big bounce” (implying possibly infinite iterations of big bang type event) and that there may be other (infinite or not) “unobservable” universe(s)(particularly given the limiting state of development in our measurement tools/instruments/theory).

    I do not find that any aspect of science either “proves” or “disproves” a “creator” (spoiler alert! in case it has not become obvious…I choose to believe in God through my faith). Then again, as I said earlier, I am not out to marry the domain of science and the domain of religion. I am so convinced they rightly do not impinge (or should not impinge) each on the other.

    I am consumed with a burning desire to know “how” things work, “how” things came to be, “how” to predict the outcome of events, etc., perhaps just because I am “wired” that way or learned my passion from my environment. I am also consumed, in a sort of parallel desire to know what all the science we could ever evolve or accumulate will never be able to answer for me. “Why?”

    Good luck with your crackpots, wherever you find them!

  • Luke

    If “Sean” and “Carroll” are good Irish names, what are some examples of bad Irish names?

  • Michael T.

    There were several large numbers bandied about regarding the probabilities of us even being here. My recollection is a bit fuzzy so if anyone attended please feel free to clarify. Dr. Donald Prothero spoke of the origins of life and and he mentioned that the chemical probability of leading to homo sapiens was something like 10^4100000. I also remember something about Susskind saying the vacua was now 10^1000. Somebody please set me straight!

    The second half of the conference on god and science was IMHO pointless and lead to the forgone conclusion of religious folks being nut cases. It suffered from what I will call an “Abrahamic bias” in that the discussion was focused in particular on Christian theology. It would have been most interesting to get other religious points of view from either the Dharmic and/or the Taoist traditions. They both have a very different take on matters and the discussion would have been far more productive since many of the points of contention simply don’t exist.

  • http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/ David McMahon

    Hi Big Vlad, yes I am sure that is true. I am referring to the United States in particular.

  • Ambitwistor

    hatcher,

    “Apologia” is a theological term, coming from Greek, meaning “to speak in defense of”. In a theological context it’s not usually interpreted to mean “apologizing for”, with an implication of regret or embarrassment. Rather, it is explaining one’s justifications for belief.

  • Sad

    Ross stood there and gave a formal presentation? I’m sorry, I thought I read in the scheduled events that Ross was just going to debate Vic Stenger, which is why I minimized the effect of his presence. I just assumed the debate would be a side show where Stenger mopped up the floor with Ross in just another science vs. religion debate. If I had known he was going to stand up and give a formal presentation I would have had different feelings about it.

  • http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/ David McMahon

    Hi Brad, I don’t know if Miller is really hypocritical so much as trying to do something that really can’t be done. Miller has a much more rational view than Ross, but he is still trying to fit the Bible with the science he knows. The bottom line is that trying to fit the Bible together with science is trying to put a square peg in a round hole. In my view the only tenable view of Christianity that fits in with science is to state you believe God exists and take the Bible as a moral/ethical guide. And,the Bible is allegorical with regard to things such as creation and other scientific matters.

    THAT BEING SAID, I think a categorical statement that God does not exist is as irrational as creationism. I think “non-believers” can defend being agnostic but atheism in my opinion is as much of a religion as right-wing Christian fundamentalism. Its based on belief and nothing more.

  • Otis

    Sean’s blog is one long ad hominem attack. He attacks the man and his beliefs (Christian) more than he attacks his arguments. So instead of logical argumentation, Sean’s blog article contains “crazy, unadulterated looniness, nonsense, crackpot (times 7), lunacy, this guy is nuts, totally nuts.” I must say, Sean does not provide much in the way of logical rigor.

    Even Sean’s paltry two counter points fail. Consider Ross’s estimate of the 1 in 10282 chance of life arising on a planet within the observable universe. Sean claims that Ross’ estimate does not include correlation effects among the factors. But Hugh did include an estimate of dependency factors; look at the bottom his table.

    Next, Sean throws out string theory’s 10500 vacua as a counter to fine-tuning arguments, as if each of those vacua actually, physically exist somewhere.

    My guess is that Sean’s blog entry is merely a reaction to the effectiveness of Hugh Ross’s presentation at the conference. I have received independent reports that Ross’s message was well received. Hugh Ross is a competent scientist and the Reasons to Believe organization is an avid promoter of good science in all disciplines.

    Reasons to Believe is an ally of science and should not be summarily opposed just because they are a Christian organization. Many participants in these blog discussions have expressed concern that the Christian faith opposes science. Here we have a group of Christian scientists who avidly support science and they are irresponsibly attacked. Why is that?

    Otis

  • mk

    If “Sean” and “Carroll” are good Irish names, what are some examples of bad Irish names?

    John McCain? ;^}

  • http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/ David McMahon

    When Dr. Prothero was tossing out numbers regarding the probability of homo sapiens existing, was he talking about specifically homo sapiens or just complex life in general? These are two very different questions.

    I think the existence of homo sapiens specifically has no real relevance to anything. If that is what he is talking about, a better question to consider is the likelihood of complex life in general. My guess is that if you looked at that question then the probability of complex life evolving somewhere in the universe at some given time has to be actually pretty high. Given the laws of chemistry the universe is endowed with I would say its a virtual certainty. All you need is a complex organism capable of processing information, doesn’t need to be homo sapiens. We could also say well cats are extremely unlikely to have formed, so the universe must have been purposefully tweaked to create cats.

    Talking about the “cosmic landscape” or any other speculation about how many variations on the universe there are or could have been has no relevance to the question. We don’t know, scienfically, if there is any cosmic landscape at all or whether any different kind of universe could have formed at this point. All we know scientifically is that there is the one universe we find ourselves in and can observe and the fundamental constants and strengths of different forces are what they are. You have to start there and ask how likely is it that complex life formed in the universe, rather than saying, well the charge on the electron could have varied by some value and life would not have formed, now isn’t that amazing! Honestly I’ve never thought that kind of argument held much weight so I haven’t been impressed by pleas by people like Paul Davies that its just so remarkable we live in a universe that can support life.

  • tacitus

    Reasons to Believe is an ally of science…

    Patently untrue. No organization that requires all of science to be in 100% harmony with a religious text written thousands of years ago by a bunch of nomads has the right to be called an ally. What they practice is the antithesis of science, no matter how much they attempt to dress it up.

    The only difference between RtB and ICR or AiG is the lengths to which they will go to harmonize the “inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God” with science. They all still declare that under no circumstances can the Bible be wrong, no matter what science tells us about the Universe.

  • Matt

    Reasons to Believe is an ally of science…

    Patently untrue. No organization that requires all of science to be in 100% harmony with a religious text written thousands of years ago by a bunch of nomads has the right to be called an ally. What they practice is the antithesis of science, no matter how much they attempt to dress it up.

    You know, this crowd rivals only the bush administration in terms of lack of diplomatic skills. This argument may be tiresome for you, but the fact is that Hugh Ross is preaching science to the unconverted in far, far more effective terms than any of you.

  • http://www.myspace.com/lorarichardson Lora

    Congratulations to Sean on all points! All extremely well said, brilliantly observed and thoroughly entertaining. I couldn’t agree more with every word of this exceptional post.

  • Michael T.

    David:

    Thanks for the post. I think you’re right, Dr. Prothero was more likely speaking of complex life not homo sapiens. Though I still would like to know what this 10^4100000 probability was all about. Much of the conference was indeed speculation culminating in the god thing. I frankly do not see much of a distinction between the Landscape and the existence of god but heh I’m just a lowly engineer.

  • tacitus

    but the fact is that Hugh Ross is preaching science to the unconverted in far, far more effective terms than any of you.

    Eh, what? I’m not even sure what “preaching science to the unconverted” is supposed to mean. If you’re saying that he’s convincing YECs to become OECs, then I will grant that’s a step in the right direction, but Ross also preaches that nothing in science is contradictory to the “inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God” as interpreted literally, just a little less literally than YECs.

    This sort of thinking is an anathema to what the scientific method calls for.

    As for diplomacy — this is a blog, so what do you expect? In real life, I have never been as blunt to the creationists I know, mainly because I value their friendship. Such an approach would be counterproductive for all of us. But they are also not the head of an organization which attempts to obfuscate practicing their beliefs with practicing science. Sure, they dress it up as such, but when push comes to shove, they are always required to interpret their results in the light of a literal interpretation of Scripture, and you cannot do that and be called a real scientist.

  • maninalift

    @David McMahon The trouble is that it is not necessary to have a balanced and clear scientific understanding to get a PhD, or even in some cases a chair (professorship) , it is only necessary to be able to publish some papers on something quite specific.

    These people are so infuriating, whether deluded or cynically misleading the successful amongst them have the ability to spout bollocks at such a rate that it is impossible for any rational debater to deflate all of their arguments. Even the semi-scientifically literate observer can come away with the notion that there was some substance to the crank’s arguments.

  • Otis

    tacitus #23

    RTB never “requires all of science to be in 100% harmony with a religious text”. How could they possibly do that? Your assertion is a straw man, something you made up.

    RTB takes scientific information that is published in journal articles, books, etc.; compares the science to a Christian worldview, and shows where there is agreement and where there is disagreement, and why.

    By the way, science is not the exclusive domain of atheists. Theists also participate and make marvelous contributions. I don’t think that tacitus is authorized to determine who can be called a “real scientist.”

    Otis

  • Matt

    If you’re saying that he’s convincing YECs to become OECs, then I will grant that’s a step in the right direction

    That’s part of what I mean, yes. More than that, he’s getting biblical literalists to shed some of their knee jerk resistance to ideas backed “only” by science. The reality is that, crackpot that he is, he has far more credibility with that crowd than you or I would. Again, I think we need him. And more like him.

  • maninalift

    Talking about the “cosmic landscape” or any other speculation about how many variations on the universe there are or could have been has no relevance to the question

    It is very much relevant, whether or not we can measure it. We may wish to perform calculations within the constraints of what we know but that should not mean that they don’t carry caveats.

  • tacitus

    Otis: #29

    First I should state for the record that I do not argue that you cannot be a scientist if you are a Christian. I accept there are many, many thousands of such people.

    But here are some examples of what I mean about Hugh Ross’s organization requiring science to be in harmony with Scripture:

    1) From a “Creation” timeline in their FAQ we get this statement:

    The following creation timeline reflects an integrative approach to biblical interpretation known as “concordism”, belief that the facts of nature, as discovered by scientific investigation, will be discernibly consistent with Scriptural statements about the natural realm. This interpretive approach, like any other, invovles certain assumptions about both science and Scripture, and is (like any other human endeavor) subject to imperfection and imprecision.

    2) His answer for who is Cain’s wife is right down the line assuming that the Bible is 100% a historical record (http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/cainswife.shtml), to the point of arguing that Adam lived to be 800 years old and was the first human being on Earth. In fact, the whole answer is no different from anything a YEC site would put out, directly contradicting just about everything archaeology and paleontology tells us about early human beings.

    3) More nonsense about how science supposedly leads us to the conclusion that early man lived hundreds of years (http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/new_clues_to_a_genesis_mystery.shtml). Again, pure YEC.

    4) And here’s the clincher:

    We deny that extrabiblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.

    In other words any scientific theory that directly contradicts the Bible is, by definition, wrong.

    from: http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/inerrancy.shtml

    Yes, their statement on inerrancy is buried a little deeper than most creationist sites, but it’s there and in full force.

  • tacitus

    Expanding on my comment about Christian scientists (small ‘s’), the Christians I am talking about are Christians who do not adhere to the inerrancy doctrine. In other words, they are quite comfortable with assuming that many of the tales told in Genesis are part of the Christian creation myth and are not to be interpreted as literal events in any way.

    Many such Christians value Genesis as an allegorical depiction of the nature of the relationship between God and Man. That’s fine by me.

    While I am an atheist, I accept and agree that the question of whether there is a supernatural being who is responsible for the creation of the Universe and everything is unanswered and may well always be so. I just don’t think it’s very likely there is one.

    Such metaphysical questions are untestable and outside the realm of science (not something Ross would agree with, apparently).

  • RationalZen

    Carl Sagan:

    So how do you know whether this guy is Columbus or Bozo the Clown, or more accurately from my school of thought, who cares whether he’s Bozo the Clown or not? I think for myself, and expect others to do the same. If this guy presents a viewpoint and I don’t like it, that doesn’t mean it’s crazy or that he’s a crackpot. Just means that I believe he’s inaccurate right?

    Wouldn’t the first time ever that both scientists, theists, or both have struggled with inaccuracy.

    Sean said:

    The crackpot mindset has no legitimate interest in an open-minded discussion, held in good faith; their game is to take any set of facts or arguments and twist them to fit their pre-determined conclusions.

    Isn’t the mangling of facts, statistics, and context until it fits a pre-conceived conclusion generally the scheme amongst all non-provable topics?

    A theist cannot prove there is a God to an atheist. An atheist cannot prove there is no God to a theist.

    What is there to be open minded about when a staunch atheist and a staunch theist have a discussion about the existence of God?

    All that is left to talk about is A) What you believe and B) why you believe it. Fully knowing beforehand of course that you won’t be convincing the other of anything they don’t already believe.

  • http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/ David McMahon

    Hi maninalift,
    Yes I agree with your comment

    “trouble is that it is not necessary to have a balanced and clear scientific understanding to get a PhD, or even in some cases a chair (professorship) , it is only necessary to be able to publish some papers on something quite specific.”

    I have met plenty of people, creationists and not, that had that problem. In fact I would say the problem is rampant. But you seem to imply that a “balanced and clear scientific understanding” leads to atheism. I don’t think that is the case. I would propose that large numbers of educated people with a clear and balanced understanding of science, disagree with atheism.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    The thing which gives the Bible such literary “power” is that it has a multiple, indeed almost innumerable, set of interpretations. It is silly to read Isaiah and read inflationary cosmology into it. Yet poetry which we consider great, and much of the Bible such as Isaiah is poetry, is that which continues to have some interpretative or aliterative impact through time.

    Christians think that the coming Messiah written down by Isaiah is the “Christos,” when really it was not, and Hugh Ross is reading a whole lot of tea leaves as well. This is after all why all of this is called religion.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • GRRRR!!!

    GRRRR!!! My browser asked do I want a cookie from GodTube.com as soon as I went to cosmicvariance.com. I didn’t even know what was going on until I saw this post. So what’s up? Why is your site automatically sending me cookies from things you link to that I haven’t even clicked on?

    I don’t want my computer getting brainwashed.

  • Janus

    It’s an insult to religious believers to have their point of view represented by crackpots? Sean, religious beliefs are crackpottery by definition. The question that should be asked is, why should the viewpoint of religious believers be represented at all? The only reason I can see is that their viewpoint is very popular, as popular as it is ridiculous. But if a belief’s popularity is a good reason to grant it the right to be represented at a conference, I have to ask, what’s your problem with Ross? Creationism is certainly very popular in your country. 42% of your citizens are young earth creationists, so I imagine that an even greater fraction fall under the label ‘creationist’.

    So, it seems to me that you can’t have it both ways. Either popular viewpoints have the right to be represented at scientific conferences by virtue of their popularity, or they don’t. If they do, creationism should be represented. If they don’t, only justified viewpoints should be represented, in which case scientists like Ken Miller should speak as if they were atheists at any such conference.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    To GRRRR!, I got a cookie as well. They are easy enough to delete at least.

    L. C.

  • james washburn

    One poster said that the verse stated was in the past tense and the universe shouldnt be growing if it were created..but we as people create a baby and it continues to ‘grow’ most non believers think they can read the bible and understand they can not..the bible is for believers only. It would be like me reading a high level math book and then teaching at MIT..cant be done..look at it this way we are all but a very very tiny speck in all of creation, we are given but a slight view of this creation to argue who is right and wrong misses the point..lets all enjoy what we see lets all look for more things to wonder at and to learn..believers we can rejoice that our GOD made all of this, nonbelievers enjoy this its wonderful..find out more the wonders of the universe..to ague is a waste of our time we wont change each others view will we?

  • http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/ Lab Lemming

    There is a much more serious point here, which is the damage this type of quackery does to real science.

    Let’s all pretend for a moment that religion never evolved thus was unable to influence scientific debate.

    The prevalence or rarity of life in the universe is a scientifically interesting question.
    Specifically, the probability of a terrestrial planet containing detectable life is very important for exoplanetology. How to interpret measurements from a limited sample of planets depends greatly on whether or not the expectation for life is 1 in 10, or one in 10^9.

    There are a lot of clues in various disparate, traditionally unrelated sciences (physics, organic chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy) that yield vastly different estimates for the probability of life. Many of these constraints will be convoluted, and require significant in-deph background knowledge of that field. In our perfect, religion-free world, scientists from different disciplines sit down with each other and explain, with infinite patience, where all these different constraints come from and how they can be combined to generate testable hypotheses.

    Back to reality. If Woomongers use bullshit arguments that are superficially similar to real scientific arguments, then scientists in unrelated fields can be turned off, so that their patience is eroded to the point where they don’t bother learning the background necessary to distinguish between the genuine constraints from another science and the antiscientific crap.

    Giving the antiscientists exposure at high profile conferences only exacerbates this problem.

    As an example, conference members were subjected to nutjob arguments about how the crustal molybdenum content (Mo/Si ratio) can drop the probability of life by 200 orders of magnitude.

    As a result of this, conference attendees may be less receptive to real geochemical arguments to drop the probability by 2 orders of magnitude based on Mg/Si ratios.

    Incidentally, did the scientific part of the conference feature a rare Earth presentation, or was this hypothesis represented only by nut jobs?

  • King Cynic

    I told you so, Sean.

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. But I *DID* try to warn you about what was coming.

    I was first exposed to Hugh Ross on public access TV when I was an undergraduate. Even before I went on to an academic career in physics I could tell that his understanding of science was utterly crackpot.

    On the other hand, when he presented essentially religious arguments (from the New Testament!) for the correctness of string theory, it didn’t seem so different from some arguments I’ve heard from string theorists!

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B. ?

    I suppose you folks realize that if the universe is really huge, or indeed infinite (how weird, considering then the infinities of all events however unlikely), then formation of life may actually be extremely improbable. For example, one chance in about 10^100 cubic light-years and we’re it for a region of about that size, and so on. Really, we have AFAIK very little idea of the probability of molecules coming together in the right way in various natural environments, so speculation to this point has been very much a case of guesswork. In that case, considering the boundary issues (how big the universe, how many “universes” (rightly defined as contiguous domains of space-time, as one “rubber sheet” versus another, true?) there are, etc. BTW please check my question in about space since I am bothered by spaces floating around inside another space, as it were.

    Like I’ve said before, the big deal is why the world is the way it is, why one way for things to be would be blessed by “existing” (can you define that in a non-circular, non-mathematical type way?) and others not, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard good answers to that here or anywhere. That doesn’t prove that “Someone” Did It, but may suspect some “Great Idea” is at work to get things off the ground at the very least. That Idea could well be about what sorts of things would be encouraged to happen (like life) not just to titillate scientists as with “elegance”, “symmetry”, “beauty” (in the conceptual sense) etc. Why not?

  • http://tyrannogenius.blogspot.com Neil B. ?

    [My question in "Does Space Expand?"]

  • tacitus

    Like I’ve said before, the big deal is why the world is the way it is, why one way for things to be would be blessed by “existing” (can you define that in a non-circular, non-mathematical type way?) and others not, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever really heard good answers to that here or anywhere.

    But if that’s what you want from science, then you are doomed to be disappointed. Science is in the business of asking “How?” not “Why?”. Why we are here, why we exist is not within the realm of science to answer. Frankly, given the odds against us even existing (just think about the number of variables just in your parents’ lives that went into the “encounter” that resulted in your conception), then the only answer that seems to fit is…

    “Dumb luck!”

    Seriously, though, questions as to why the Universe is the way it is will likely ever be answered by science. Even if we discover the presence of an infinite number of parallel universes and can one day explain how a singularity became our universe, that still doesn’t explain why we exist, or anything exists, for that matter.

    Religion doesn’t really answer those questions either. If you ask “Why does God exist?” you just get answers like “he just does” or (what seems to be the current favorite) “that question is a category mistake.”

    Ho hum. “Dumb luck” works for me :-)

  • http://quasar9.blogspot.com/ Quasar9

    Well Sean, I guess I really don’t know what to believe anymore.
    Will there be any ‘evidence’ that this blog existed, in 2000 years time?
    Will Elvis still be King? – will there be any evidence that Elvis ‘actually’ existed in 2000 years time?
    I guess we sort of take it for granted that a recording of his voice & songs in one form or another will still exist in 2000 years time.
    Notwithstanding that really there is little that is actually relevant or prove-able to us, beyond our own very short lifespan.

    I mean will anyone remember in however many billions of years time, when and if the universe ends – who was the first to predict accurately if, how and/or when it would end sometime in the second millennium anno domini – terran time?
    Mind you after our own Sun burns out – will anyone remember terran time and/or earthlings? will the ‘human race’ or ‘species’ have developed and achieved interstellar or intergalactic travel – maybe surfing on dark matter?

  • Michael T.

    Recommended reading in the LA Times a few days ago on “Asking the Right God Question”. Something the Origin conference failed to do.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/letters/la-oe-rodriguez6-2008oct06,0,5631711.column

  • http://www.nutcase.org H.M. Amir al-Mumenin al-Mutawakkil ‘Ala Allah Rab ul-Alamin Imam Yahya bin al-Mansur Bi’llah Muhammad Hamidaddin, Imam and Commander of the Faithful, and King of the Yemen.

    It’s a bit sad that Sean feels compelled to report on the least interesting talk at this conference. Did Susskind have anything thought-provoking to say?

  • Carl F. Dunbar

    Among all the differences between Science and whatever label one wants to put on the various interpretations and observations of “belief”, there are two that stand out more than others to me. One, the unseemly desperation by those on one side or another to appear to “know” the truth actually precludes the most important truth…. no one, I repeat NO ONE has even a grunion of proof either way! That’s offensive to the “intellectual” crowd, I understand. And offers no validation to the “sheep”.
    Two, when it comes to trying to find out, only one side says, “I want to know”. Only Science tries to disprove it’s observations. Creation theory would be a lot more worthy of discussion if it weren’t for the absurdity of the claim that a single eternal entity was here before anything existed and instead admitted creation may well have happened as a classroom experiment by other far advanced life. It becomes even less worthy of recognition when all the “Holiness” is attached. I’d be more likely to believe a cow actually jumped over the moon, though to me I see no difference between either fairy tale.

  • GRRRR

    Lawrence B. Crowell on Oct 9th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    To GRRRR!, I got a cookie as well. They are easy enough to delete at least.

    L. C.

    ————————————————-

    My point was that if that could happen, then I could just as easily have gotten a virus from this site. And that could be impossible to delete.

  • tacitus

    You can’t get a virus from a site just because you can get a cookie from it. Really, there’s no need no worry about anything like that, unless you turn off all the security in your browser, and even then it’s highly unlikely at a site like the one hosting the video.

  • John Shen

    Ross’s specific arguments are terrible. (1) The Bible is not a science textbook. (2) Poor numerical estimates on nigh-irrelevant geological/astronomical quantities is a terrible idea.

    As you described it, and as I watched in the clip, I think his presentation combines the worst elements of both science and religion; misleading and shallow conceptions of current ‘evidence’ and the scientific method, and a literal, narrow, twisted reading of the Bible. Both are distortions of scientific and religious tradition.

    But despite that fault, he is one of few spokespeople trying to reconcile faith and science. If as people here say, there are many believing scientists (of which I am a young’un), either they haven’t explored both ideas long enough to hit cognitive dissonance or they just don’t look for a resolution, suppressing one or the other as needed. I think they are reconcilable and even complementary, but not the way Ross works. His approach is wrong, but what he’s trying to do – make science and religion make sense simultaneously, is crucial.

    Is it bad to invite Ross? Don’t listen to his evidence, but his mission. Do you think science and spiritual faith are completely incompatible? That’s a matter of philosophy, and that’s the place to start. Too bad Origins is a scientific conference.

  • The Mighty Biff

    Many posters here seem to be equating Faith with Christianity. It seems fairly obvious to me that is not a reasonable thing to do.

    Professing that the origins of life, the universe and everything are due to a higher power / super being / alien robot is one thing. Science is having a stab at explaining these questions, but it is some way from an answer at the moment. I expect it will find those answers, but I’m not (yet) going to ridicule people who think that some kind of spooky weirdness was involved.

    However, belief in the Christian God (or any other contemporary deity) is clearly silly. You don’t need particle accelerators and Darwinism to seriously doubt the existence of the Christian god – such atheistic philosophy has been around for hundreds of years.

    The religious beliefs that one holds are hugely influenced by geography (where you were born) and history (when you were born). Any 21st centrury, US Christians (scientists or otherwise) would not have been so had they been born in another country or an earlier era.

    I’m afraid that I can’t see how such simple facts aren’t impassable stumbling blocks for anyone that isn’t a real fundamentalist (i.e. our religion is right. All the others are completely wrong).

    My advice is to drop the Faith word when discussing Christian issues and call em Christians. If you are going to involve religion in such discussions, do it properly and get representatives from a wide range of faiths to attend. If nothing else it would be polite to do so and the juxtaposition of so many different views on the origins of the world would only highlight the inherent bonkerness of each.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    Read Hebrews Ch 11, vs 1 about faith. Faith is the cornerstone of Christianity. The whole belief is that some guy who got into trouble and got nailed on a cross is the foundation of the world, as pointed out by Paul in Corinthians. It takes a lot of faith to believe this. It further takes faith to think that scripture is somehow commensurate with modern physics and cosmology.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • The Almighty Bob

    mk: “McCain” is a Scottish surname, and “John” is English (“Sean” is the Irish for John, actually). A very bad Irish name,then, as it contains no Irish whatsoever. “,)

  • Henry Wilton

    It’s vital that scientists of all bents deign to engage with the likes of Ross and explain exactly what’s wrong with their ideas. Newspapers and TV shows love to present these debates as conflicts between people with different, but equally valid, opinions.

    Unfortunately, many scientists are strangely unwilling to engage in this sort of conversation – witness the recent furore leading to the resignation of Michael Reiss from the Royal Society. But the public don’t want to take science on trust from white-coated high priests – they want clear explanations and would probably accept them, if only they were offered.

  • tacitus

    It’s vital that scientists of all bents deign to engage with the likes of Ross and explain exactly what’s wrong with their ideas.

    Henry, it won’t work. Ross will never repudiate the doctrine of (literal) inerrancy because it is the very foundation of his faith, and since he won’t do that then he’s not open to persuasion.

    Ross might be saner than YECs when it comes to cosmology in that he accepts an old Universe, there are severe limits to what he will accept. Once you get to Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, 800 year lifespans, etc, then Ross is as anti-science as the rest of them.

    It is the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy that separates people like Ross from the rest of the scientific community. That is the demarcation point between Christians who believe science informs them about reality and those Christians (like Ross) who believe science informs them about what the Bible teaches about reality.

  • Henry Wilton

    Tacitus,

    I’m not suggesting that Ross is open to persuasion – I’m saying that the public would benefit from a genuine debate.

    It now seems to be commonplace in the scientific community to assert that it’s impossible to communicate with people who don’t wholeheartedly accept the scientific method. But where does that leave the vast majority of people, who aren’t particularly interested in science and to whom science, religion and pseudo-science all seem equally plausible? Spending their money on ineffective homeopathic remedies, that’s where.

    Patient, careful rebuttals of faulty arguments, straightforward enough that journalists might even be willing to repeat them, are potentially really valuable here. And yet scientists seem as intent on polarizing the debate as their religious counterparts, by refusing to have a genuine conversation!

    The point is that the validity of the scientific method is completely uncontroversial… within the scientific community. But where does that leave everyone else?

  • tacitus

    Okay, I see your point. I don’t know if what you suggest will work — people tend to be very hard to persuade once their minds are made up — but I’m all for more rebuttal of pseudoscience and (especially) more science education in schools.

  • John R Ramsden

    Sean wrote “Does Scripture predict low-energy supersymmetry? Large extra dimensions?

    Yup, that’s taken care of, in a manner of speaking: As the Man Himself said (John ch 14 v 2) “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (quoted with no intent to mock the New Testament or Christ’s teachings BTW; in fact I’ve always found that rather an intriguing saying.)

    I never thought fundies had much of a foothold in the UK any more; but in a junk shop in Cardiff, Wales, last week I was shocked to hear a sad old man berating the shop assistant because the shop had in the window a book on biology which (shock horror) featured the theory of evolution! Oh well, as they say, science advances funeral by funeral ..

  • Morris

    I enjoy this site immensely. But I do not understand the preoccupation with bashing believers (I am not one); it sems without sufficient reason to me. It is neither persuasive nor courteous to ridicule others. Reasoning with “believres” is useless by definition. What then is the point? Can someone please explain?

  • Mike Schuler

    I enjoy this site immensely. But I do not understand the preoccupation with bashing believers (I am not one); it sems without sufficient reason to me. It is neither persuasive nor courteous to ridicule others. Reasoning with “believres” is useless by definition. What then is the point? Can someone please explain?

    I think that it’s just the atheists futile attempt to persuade people to their way of thought. Sometimes it seems as if the true goal of some scientists is to prove that there is no God, and not just finding ways to solve problems through advancing knowledge.

  • Janus

    Morris,

    I think you’ve answered your own question. As you said, reasoning with religious believers about their beliefs is pointless. With a few rare exceptions, our attempts to persuade them are doomed to fail no matter what we do or how we do it. Since we won’t convince anyone anyway, we might as well dispense with ‘courtesy’ and state the truth in a forthright manner, regardless of whom it may offend.

  • Mike Schuler

    I will consider any ‘reason’ presented. So far, I have never seen a reasonable explanation for why atheists believe there is no God. All I see is religion bashing and ad hominen ridicule. This has no bearing on the question of whether or not there is a God.

    I don’t think Morris answered his own question, but I do think Janus did. You dispense with ‘courtesy’ because you can’t find a ‘reason.’ Please do ‘state the truth in a forthright manner.’ I won’t be offended.

  • Otis

    From Sean’s post: “most [of Ross' criteria] have little if any connection to the existence of life, and let’s not even mention that many of these are highly non-independent quantities.”

    Sean’s assertion is incorrect. Each of the criteria has a connection to the possibility of life on a planet. Ross’s estimates rely on published scientific data. As you can see on his link, Ross has provided hundreds of references.

    As I pointed out in my response #20, Ross did account for dependencies among the criteria. But suppose Ross’ dependency estimate is not sufficient and we change his number 10282 to 10100. Considering that there are 1080 protons and neutrons in the observable universe, he still as a strong case for fine-tuning that is has not been explained by natural mechanisms, other than by appealing to infinities.

    Otis

  • Otis

    Sorry. The HTML tag does not seem to work. The numbers that I meant to write are 10^282 and 10^100.

  • Travis

    Otis,
    I only see some estimates at the bottom about dependency factors and longevity requirements and other values. I don’t see any reason I should simply accept his estimates especially without any sort of explanation of where they come from. Also, he has listed references, yes, but they are pretty useless to me. I do not have the time to go through each to try to figure out how they relate to the above list. As there are no references within the above document to indicate where the claims come from as well as how the estimate of probability were made, unless there is some full paper somewhere that is well referenced that I have just not seen, I remain unimpressed and unconvinced. I see no way to verify any of the values he has or the relevance of each.

  • Otis

    Travis,

    You make a valid point. The documentation could be improved and it is not unreasonable that you remain unconvinced. While being unconvinced may be reasonable in this case, Sean’s over-the-top name-calling is not reasonable.

    If you follow the scientific literature, evidence of unexpected fine-tunnig is proliferating month by month. We have heard much about “Rare Earth,” now we have “Rare Solar System.”

    The researchers report, “We now better understand the process of planet formation and can explain the properties of the strange exoplanets we’ve observed. We also know that the solar system is special and understand at some level what makes it special.”

    There are many more recent examples. My favorite is the set of intricate contingencies (fine-tuning or chance?) that allows the long lasting 4BY plate tectonics on Earth, without which there would be NO complex life on Earth.

    Otis

  • http://dorigo.wordpress.com a quantum diaries survivor

    Sean, thanks for the account, but… Are you not disturbed by having participated in such a meeting ? I honestly would not broadcast it if I were you.

    This is all a huge misunderstanding. The fact that there exist people who will try to find in the bible explanations for observed scientific phenomena does not have to mean that scientist must sit and listen to such unmitigated b******t. First of all, scientists have better occupations, unlike their lecturers. Second, it just can’t happen that science and religion can find a common ground. Believing that is possible is a big blunder.

    I am really sorry for all honest scientists who also are believers. But theirs is the fault.

    Cheers,
    T.

  • chemicalscum

    I am an atheist but I would like to point out that any religious believer who places biblical inerrancy above scientific knowledge is by any reasonable theology a blasphemer.

    If God created the Universe then study of His creation is the only real route to knowledge about God. To deny scientific results about the natural world on the basis of what ever ancient text you hold sacred is to deny God’s creation and you then become a blasphemer.

    So on this basis any YEC is a blasphemer and once he moves onto palaeontology and geology so too is Hugh Ross.

    Just to clear up some of the ongoing confusion among some of the posters here, an atheist is some one who does not believe in a personal God. That is defined by the Greek root of the word atheist. Where ‘a’ means not and theism refers to belief in a personal God as in contrast in the modern linguistic and theological use of the Latin root term deist to refer to a person who believes in an impersonal God. An atheist is a person who sees no reason to believe in a personal God, theism is then just one hypothesis to be tested against the real world. There is no real distinction between atheism and agnosticism, maybe some people feel it is a little less disturbing to religious people to describe themselves as agnostics rather than atheists.

    Dr. Gregory Graffin (the lead singer of the punk band Bad Religion) during his research at Stanford conducted a detailed questionnaire based survey of the religious views of a statistically significant number of prominent biologists. He carried out a multi-dimensional ranking of their views. Interestingly he found that while there was only a negligible tendency towards theism there were a number whose view could be described at least in part as deistic.

    http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/evolution-religion-and-free-will

  • http://biblical-understanding.org David Douglass

    As a person who has come from the center of the bibllical-philosophic-theological-producing universe of conflicting diversity in the name of the Christian biblical God, I am weary of such attempts to merge science into the Jewish scriptures.

    The Old Testament writers never based their information in a scientific context — which was very prevalent during that day. From Job to Malachi there is not one sentence written for the purposes that so called, “scientific biblicists” boast of discovering within the pages of a collection of Jewish and radical Jewish writings.

    In fact, the writers specifically state the most arrogant of claims — Their inspirational being was/is the Creator, who can’t be challenged, nor approached, and His “ways” are past finding out, but can be appreciated by the observer resulting in a very limited comprehension at best.

    All one has to read is the book of Job from chapters 38 to 42 to see exactly my point. From that writer to the last O.T. writer, there is not one who breaks from that arrogant apologetic.

    If a Bible reader can’t take the time and energy to develop a sensible, reasonable, cohesive hermeneutic, then he should be exposed under the light of his own source. But since this is not usually provided, those who are at the very least responsible in creating a scientific language with the most “righteous” of intentions, should be thanked for exposing the fraud that other Bible readers failed to expose.

    For the sake of this discusion, let’s allow the following:

    1. The Jewish Bible God is the Creator.
    2. That Creator chose from the earth’s people one person to create a nation.
    3. After 1000 years, a murderer is chosen to lead the people to become a nation.
    4. That family/nation provided written records and preserved them reliably.
    5. The context of all writings was national, not personally applied by the people individually, but for citizenship and allegiance. As with all Kingdoms, the King decrees general laws that generally provide beneficial parameters that limit. Note: All biblical authors present in their writings a common parameter — You the people are ONLY free “In The Lord God Who Brought You Out of Egypt.” Read the writing of Joshua for the most famous case.

    Now, with those five points allowed for the sake of reason, should it not be said that a true Bible believer should never attempt to use the Bible to refute science by attempting to be scientific?

    A true Bible believer really has only one thing to say to the scientist.

    “Wow, that’s great work, nice research there, thank you for that amazing creation of factual knowledge and new language, however, even though I find what you have provided to be reasonable, I must remain — what will seem to you — most arrogant and say that I have chosen to believe the Jewish version of God, who the writers claimed created your understanding of “Time” on the third day of His creation event, and used a clear definition of the word “day” as a morning and evening as Moses understood and used those words– 24 hours.

    I realize it’s a Jewish national religious writing, and doesn’t belong in a discussion of science, and that is why it seems so disrespectful to those of science to address their intelligent findings along side of a foreign Jewish King’s decree.

    All that said, keep up the good work of exposing biblical fools who fraudulently offer ignorant Bible readers a false hope that will be totally rejected when they are judged by the King of the writing they say they understand.

    If I was a scientist, I would certainly not dignify the fraud of a foreign King’s decrees, afterall what is the point — the King is not yours, nor is His writings written for you, NOR is the fool your debating any more of an accurate representation of his claimed source than a total fool counting to three represents you.

  • tacitus

    Sometimes it seems as if the true goal of some scientists is to prove that there is no God, and not just finding ways to solve problems through advancing knowledge.

    Please don’t buy into the religious right’s caricature of scientists. Even Richard Dawkins, probably the best know militant atheist scientist around today, says that science cannot prove there is no God.

    A test for the existence of “God”, as defined by Christianity, Islam, or any of the major world religious is outside the bounds of what science can accomplish. Sure, we can test certain claims of some who adhere to those religions — that the Earth was created less than 10,000 years ago, but even if we have proved those claims to be false, it doesn’t prove that some form of supernatural creator does not exist.

    I became an atheist after a lengthy struggle to come to terms with what is taught in the Bible. I was actually quite happy as a “liberal” Christian back in the UK where they don’t, as a rule, teach the dogma of Biblical inerrancy, but once I was exposed to the American strain of fundamentalist Christianity — which basically demands that you either accept the teachings in the *whole* Bible, or you are not a true believer — then it became clear to me that when you dig a little deeper, many of the claims of Christianity just don’t hold water.

    Sure science, in the form of cosmology, archaeology, geology, etc. had a little to do with my decision to reject Christianity as my religion, but it was much more to do with my examining the veracity of the claims made by Christianity based on Biblical teachings — e.g. salvation, eternal damnation, original sin, universal atonement.

    Now that’s just a fact — about me, no one else. I’m not saying that to offend Christians who read this blog. It’s what I believe. Can I prove without a doubt that the Bible isn’t stating the truth about a personal, triune God who condemns people to eternal damnation if they don’t become born again? No, I can’t. Neither can science since it is outside the realm of what’s testable by the scientific method, and you be hard pressed to find a scientist who would say otherwise.

    So, please stop conflating a rejection of Hugh Ross’s claims to be practicing science as an attack on all Christianity. The very fact that Ross’s organization. Reasons to Believe, is not about doing science, but an apologetics outfit makes it plain where his priorities lie. He does appear to have a more reasonable stance on the age of the Earth, cosmology, geology, etc. than young Earth creationists, but he still, first and foremost, would reject any scientific finding that cannot be reconciled with his belief that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. That’s why, contrary to all the scientific evidence found so far, he claims that we are all descended from one couple — Adam and Eve — who were created there, on the spot, separate from the hominids who lived at that time and who lived for hundreds of years.

    Hugh Ross is entitled to those beliefs, but he is not entitled to claim that he is following the scientific method when coming to those types of conclusion without being challenged. That is the issue at hand in this thread, not a full broadside on the whole of Christianity.

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  • Mike Schuler

    [...] That is the issue at hand in this thread, not a full broadside on the whole of Christianity.

    I never mentioned Christianity, and I don’t believe in it myself. I just get the impression sometimes, that some scientists and others are on a quest to free mankind from the hindrances of religion,… and so they think they can break religion’s back by loudly proclaiming that there is no God.

    I’ve noticed that just about all of the mainstream media news stories I read about the two Mars Rovers concern the search for evidence of running, liquid water having existed on the Martian surface in some past epoch. We never hear about anything else. What interesting minerals did they find? What differences and similarities are there between Earth and Mars? There are all kinds of stories that they could release, but all they seem to be interested in is running water, and the stories always end with “If Mars once had liquid water, then maybe it had life, because life needs water.”

    When I look at the stories they release, I ask why is it so darn important to try to prove there is life on other bodies in the Solar System? It should stand to reason that there has never been so much as a single gene anywhere in the Solar System outside of the Earth, unless Mankind carried it there.

    If you can prove there is life on other bodies in the Solar System, even just one, you could claim that as proof that there is no God. So far, the only thing that can create DNA from scratch is DNA.

    It’s funny how some people find the idea of our reality possibly being a creation, to be way too implausible, but at the same time they have no problem with DNA assembling itself and beginning reproduction all because of just the right random collisions between random molecules.

  • Charlie

    QUOTE; “If you can prove there is life on other bodies in the Solar System, even just one, you could claim that as proof that there is no God.”

    God never said earth was the only planet He breathed life into? As a “real” believer in God, I happened to believe He may very well have many planes of life, perhaps even some where he physically partakes in the wonderful things He creates.
    I find it very interesting, as “scientists” you’re all very quick to NOT answer any of the yet unanswered questions pertaining to just “how” life began. If there is a “beginning” then you have to have a “beginner.” I hope were not still clinging to the little ball of dense particulates exploding and creating everything? Or perhaps the mysterious unexplained magic “goo” that just so happened to have everything in it to spur off and generate all life?

    You should know, those who truly read and study the Bible, and have a direct relationship with God, do not ascribe to the lunacy of the catholic church or the cults of Mormonism and Islam. “They,” in fact are why we have so many of you who do not believe. See, I looked to science to answer what I now call miracles that happened to me personally, and they not only refused to answer how, why and what, but in fact were only willing to say, I was crazy, or something to that effect. The fact these things actually happened, and I now personally know they did, whether anyone believes me or not is unimportant. But the more you deny they happened, the more my faith in God increases. You all do yourself and your purpose a massive disservice when all you can do is end your argument with something like, “Can God create a rock so big He can’t lift it?” If that’s the extent of your surmising, then I suggest your not very good scientists at all, and anyone looking for real answers would have to write off anything else you have to say for that very reason? You know, its, like this, “we are full of supreme answers to the universe, we just can’t answer the “unexplained” things?

    I claim to be a devout “Christian” and not a fake one such as Pelosi or Obama, but one who really does believe in God. I was wondering if there was a place here where all you experts might be willing to answer some questions I have for you? Thanks for your time folks, I enjoyed this humor.

  • Lawrence B. Crowell

    Hugh Ross is engaging in various intellectual contortions to show some connection between science and scripture. It is curiously complementary to what might be called the the “classical” creationsists who invent all sort of quasi-science to argue why the scientific community has it all wrong. In either case these arguments tend to be highly convoluted.

    This is not to argue for atheism, but that theistic arguments do appear highly ineffective at understanding the world. People are still of course free to believe as they choose and science will never be able to provide any strong evidence that God does not exist. On the other hand science does consistently point to a universe which exists according to principles which are orthogonal to religious ideals. Science tells us certain things based on reason and evidence, while religion tells us other things based almost entirely on faith.

    Whether one elects to think according to reason and evidence or according to faith is a choice. Religious people will cite faith as the highest ideal, and of course the Christian Gospels are filled with instances of Jesus admonishing against those looking for “signs.” The faith of a mustard seed will move a mountain. Of course I am not sure what is meant by the faith equivalent to a mustard seed. Nobody so far has moved a mountain on this basis. A person who thinks according to reason will then of course say these things are simply ridiculous.

    To depart slightly, the origin of life is not understood. If we manage to find life on other planets that might support the hypothesis that life emerges naturally. Of course life on Mars might be a case of cross planetary contamination due to meteoroid impacts showering materal between the planets. Life on Europa and other Jovian or Saturnian moons is pretty conjectural at this point.

    I did some work years ago on how it is that other solar systems with G-class stars and Jovian planets would perturb the orbit of any putative earth-like planet. It does turn out that our solar system is pretty well tuned to support a stable orbit of a biologically active planet. Jovian planets much closer to the parent star than Jupiter might perturb the planet too much.

    Lawrence B. Crowell

  • tacitus

    I’ve noticed that just about all of the mainstream media news stories I read about the two Mars Rovers concern the search for evidence of running, liquid water having existed on the Martian surface in some past epoch. We never hear about anything else. What interesting minerals did they find? What differences and similarities are there between Earth and Mars? There are all kinds of stories that they could release, but all they seem to be interested in is running water, and the stories always end with “If Mars once had liquid water, then maybe it had life, because life needs water.”

    I really don’t think there is much of an ulterior motive behind the types of press stories published about Mars. First, if you look at the overall science output from the Mars missions, I suspect you will find a ton of papers on mineralogy, weather systems, geology, etc., but none of that is particularly appealing to the masses being fed by the media. It is one of NASA stated goals for studying the other planets in the solar system that we will understand more about Earth’s past by examining the history of all the planets but, again, it’s not an especially sexy subject.

    So, yes, you will get a focus in the media on stories about whether there is life on Mars (or the precursors for life), and it is a stated long term goal of NASA. It is a genuinely interesting scientific issue, and there are just enough tantalizing signs to keep the results in doubt. But I really don’t see any evidence of an anti-religious undercurrent driving the mission, and I am pretty sure that the enthusiasm scientists like Steve Squyres has for their work is genuinely driven by his love for the subject and of his job, nothing more.

  • tacitus

    You should know, those who truly read and study the Bible, and have a direct relationship with God, do not ascribe to the lunacy of the catholic church or the cults of Mormonism and Islam.

    The usual “it’s a relationship, not a religion” nonsense spouted by many Christian fundamentalists who believe they have the answers and no one else. The arrogance of that belief does you no favors.

    I claim to be a devout “Christian” and not a fake one such as Pelosi or Obama, but one who really does believe in God. I was wondering if there was a place here where all you experts might be willing to answer some questions I have for you?

    So now you can read minds now? Amazing. As for giving answers, there are plenty of venues on the web for that, but I suspect you’re not really interested in listening anyway. Your comment is dripping with arrogance and condescension (a fine example of a Christian temperament… not), and your objective is all too transparent. As with many in the religious right, your politics appears to be more important than your faith.

  • Pingback: The Origins - Big Questions conference | Relax and Have Fun

  • Interested

    To: Michael T. on Oct 9th, 2008 at 11:59 am
    ( The second half of the conference on god and science was IMHO pointless and lead to the forgone conclusion of religious folks being nut cases. It suffered from what I will call an “Abrahamic bias” in that the discussion was focused in particular on Christian theology. It would have been most interesting to get other religious points of view from either the Dharmic and/or the Taoist traditions. They both have a very different take on matters and the discussion would have been far more productive since many of the points of contention simply don’t exist.)

    One of the four Dharmic religions is Buddhism, and there are 3 branches of Buddhism. I am from Theravada Buddhism. From this link, http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books2/Dhammananda_What_Buddhists_Believe.htm one can get an overview of the Theravada Buddhist beliefs and their beliefs about God idea. In brief “For more than 2,500 years, all over the world, Buddhists have practised and introduced Buddhism very peacefully without the necessity of sustaining the concept of a creator of God.” The key headings are -
    The Development of the God-idea ;
    The God-idea and Creation ; Human Weakness and the Concept of God

    The attitude by Dalai Lama, from another branch of Buddhism, is that when science shows any part of the Buddhist scriptures is wrong ( In Theravada Buddhism, its scriptures are about 11 times the length of the Bible), then that part of the Buddhist scripture should be revised. He has collaborated with Emory University in Atlanta to bring science to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.
    Arising from an initial perception that Catholics view the Big Bang as a point of time in creation, as that God created the world at a point in time, I once wrote a Catholic scientist-priest and enquired if there were any big bangs before the current one? He wrote-

    “I now have a few minutes to answer your questions about cosmology and about multiple Big Bangs. We really do not know if there were other Big Bangs before the one that took place about 15 billion years ago. The reason we do not know, is because there is absolute no possibility of detecting any signals which would give us information about times earlier than the Big Bang from which our observable universe issued. All information about other Big Bangs earlier (if indeed there were any) was wiped out before our Big Bang, and information about possible Big Bangs elsewhere in reality — outside our universe — is simply not accessible.

    Most cosmologists and specialists in this area of science, however, do now feel that it is somewhat unlikely that our observable universe suffered Big Bangs before the one we know happened. This because the entropy density, or measure of disorder, in our observable universe would probably be higher than it actually is, if other Big Bangs had been part of our history; and even more because it now seems that our universe will expand for ever and not collapse. Evidence is emerging that it does not possess enough matter to slow the expansion rate and induce collapse… in fact the expansion may be gently accelerating! That means it is very hard to imagine how there could have been enough matter and energy have earlier Big Bangs and collapses, if there is not enough now. Finally, we really do not know how the Big Bang itself was initiated — it could not have been just a single explosion as we normally think of that, and it could not have occurred within a pre-existing space. It itself generated space and time — and in a sense was a manifold of many events taking place simultaneously.

    From this you can see that there is not likely to be an evidence any time soon for earlier Big Bangs. If there is, it would create a real revolution in cosmology. At present it is very difficult to imagine what evidence would demonstrate this — what to look for.

    From a theoretical point of view, it is easy to see that Big Bangs in completely different observable universes could occur. However, it is clear that if they did, there is no scientific possibility — as we presently understand that — of every detecting them, or detecting the universes in which they occurred.

    What I have given you here is the standard answer most in the cosmological community would give you. I hope it helps a little bit!”
    :-)

  • Charlie

    I’ll leave you to your universe after this, I didn’t know you folks would be so easily offended by a simple question, but please realize the prior quote proves ALL of what we stand for, believe and confess. .

    QUOTE: “The usual “it’s a relationship, not a religion” nonsense spouted by many Christian fundamentalists who believe they have the answers and no one else. The arrogance of that belief does you no favors.”

    This is where all of you are highly confused. In fact just the opposite is true. We who DO have this relationship with God, have no answers at all but that which is given us by our Creator. I know, that always energizes you to say, “we can’t think for ourselves,” and “we blame God for all our problems,” and “hypocritically go about living our lives.” You see, if we tell you the truth, since you don’t have the sprit of God within you, you mock us, thus, I will give you that opportunity.
    We know nothing, we are pathetically helpless, we severely miss the mark God wants of us, and we couldn’t go one nano-second without the direct help of God, and for this help and comfort, we gratefully thank Him for. When the end arrives, the difference between us and atheists is simple and ugly. We will have a long time friend to take us out, while they will be looking for a hiding place on some distant planet or some remote cave.
    As for the “reading minds” innuendo, as I said, we only know what God told us, and with that, we know, its impossible Pelosi and Obama are Christians, as they have lived their every waking moment subverting God’s will and dragging others with them, just as the apostate hell bound gay church has done.
    And I really didn’t expect you to want to answer anything, because scientists can’t even agree with theories, let alone science. Nor do they know the difference between the two.
    Sir, I really hope one day you give the Lord a taste, you’ll find all the answers and comfort you ever wanted in Him.

  • Kevembuangga

    WTF does “supernatural” means?
    Please explain this before arguing pro or con.
    It seems Americans (mostly) are a loony bunch to pay attention to such balderdash when they (supposedly) are scientists.
    There is no need to “disprove” plain nonsense, atheism is not a “belief” anymore than OFF is a TV channel.

  • Ronnie

    Sean’s account is corroborated by another attendee, who reviewed the speakers more comprehensively: http://whohastimeforthis.blogspot.com/2008/10/skeptics-sellout-to-christians.html

  • tacitus

    …just as the apostate hell bound gay church has done.

    Yikes! Who let the Fred Phelps acolyte in?

    Have a nice life elsewhere, Charlie. No one here will miss you one bit.

  • David Douglass

    Simply stated – The biblical writiings were never written as a scientific writing. Instead the purpose and context of each writer was to provide the information and policy of a people who chose to “stand on” (the meaning of the word faith) the writer’s work.

    Jehovah of Israel who created Himself as Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of the Jew, provided and caused a collection of writings stictly designed to inspired the readers/hearers to become citizens of His nation called “Israel”.

    As it always was from the first writer to the last, anyone, Jew or non-Jew can believe and wait on the final formation of Jehovah/Jesus’ Kingdom.

    To compare science to the Bible is futile, and incorrect useage of the writings of the God of Israel.

    Science is really just the work of mankind looking back into time, attempting to figure it out. There is nothing in the biblical writings which will ulimately absolutely prove there is a God and that He was The Creator.

    For me personally, I believe Jehovah created the universe and the world as an aged physical creation billions of years old within six of our solar days as we understand those days to be today. I stand on the pages of the biblical writers and thank scientist for attempting to explain the works of a non physical creator.

  • Mike Schuler

    “We who DO have this relationship with God, have no answers at all but that which is given us by our Creator.”

    Charlie just proved the cause for atheism. What do mean by saying that if you have a relationship with God you are deprived of answers? I’m not going to link to your Bible because I know you have a copy and are quit familiar with it, but didn’t Jesus say “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Did you ever ask for answers? So why can’t you just ask Jesus for the answers? Why would he have said what he said if he didn’t mean to back it up?

    Dark ages dogma doesn’t help one bit. All that people like Hugh Ross are trying to do is show that the Bible doesn’t necessarily contradict scientific findings. I’m sure he knows that he is walking on the edge of the abyss, but his “faith” and “relationship” tell him that he is protected in some way, so he forges on.

    The atheists are right in wanting all religions and superstitions to be bulldozed right into the nearest landfill, but that does not eliminate the chance that there really might be an intelligent entity that created our reality as we perceive it. People like Charlie aren’t helping the cause for the search for truth.

    “There is no need to “disprove” plain nonsense, atheism is not a “belief” anymore than OFF is a TV channel.

    I’ll agree with the first half of your sentence because you said it yourself. Yes, I’ve heard it before. Atheism is not a ‘belief’ because in reality, it is a ‘lack of belief’. Yah,…. right. As the great Geddy Lee once said “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

  • http://www.users.bigpond.com/pmurray Paul Murray

    God never said earth was the only planet He breathed life into? As a “real” believer in God, I happened to believe He may very well have many planes of life,

    I rather like C.S.Lewis’ idea: that this eath is the “lost sheep” which, out of all the worlds in existence, fell and whom the good shepherd went out of his way to save.

    Religion has a long history of adapting itself to any fact.

    (and is it realy true that you cannot use subscripts?)

  • Interested

    George Coyne S.J. :

    It is unfortunate that, at least in America, creationism has come to mean some fundamentalistic, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis. Judaic-Christian faith is radically creationist, but in a totally different sense. It is rooted in a belief that everything depends upon God, or better, all is a gift from God. The universe is not God and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true.

    But if we confront what we know of origins scientifically with religious faith in God the Creator, in the senses described above, what results? I would claim that the detailed scientific understanding of origins has no bearing whatsoever on whether God exists or not. It has a great deal to do with my knowledge of God, should I happen to believe he exists. Let me explain.

    Take two rather extreme scientific views of origins: that of Stephen Gould of an episodic, totally contingent and, therefore, non-repeatable evolutionary process as contrasted to a convergent evolutionary process such as that of Christian de Duve, in which the interplay of chance, necessity and opportunity leads inevitably to life and intelligence. In either case, it is scientifically tenable to maintain an autonomy and self-sufficiency of the natural processes in a natural world, so that recourse to God to explain the origins of all that exists, is not required. It is not a question of chance in nature, excludes God; destiny in nature requires God. In neither case is God required.

    If, however, I believe in God then what nature tells me about God in one case is very different from what nature tells me about God in the other. Please note that I am not calling upon faith to adjudicate between contrasting scientific viewpoints. I do think that convergent evolution is more consistent with God’s revelation of himself in the Book of Scripture, so that, as Galileo was fond of stating, the Book of Scripture and the Book of Nature speak of the same God.
    If we take the results of modern science seriously, it is difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of the scholastic philosophers. Science tells us of a God who must be very different from God as seen by the medieval philosophers and theologians. Let us ask the hard question. Could, for instance, God after a billion years in a fourteen billion year old universe have predicted that human life would come to be? Let us suppose that God possessed the theory of everything, knew all the laws of physics, all the fundamental forces. Even then could God know with certainty that human life would come to be? If we truly accept the scientific view that, in addition to necessary processes and the immense opportunities offered by the universe, there are also chance processes, then it would appear that not even God could know the outcome with certainty. God cannot know what is not knowable. The theologian, of course, would have a different answer. God is transcendent, outside of space and time. All events are simultaneous to him. But I have wished to stress God’s immanence in a universe where the origins of life are a challenge to our knowledge.

    This stress on God’s immanence is not to place a limitation upon God. Far from it. It reveals a God who made a universe that has within it a certain dynamism and thus participates in the very creativity of God. Such a view of creation can be found in early Christian writings, especially in those of St. Augustine in his comments on Genesis. If they respect the results of modern science, religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly. Perhaps God should be seen more as a parent or as one who speaks encouraging and sustaining words. Scripture is very rich in these thoughts. It presents, indeed anthropomorphically, a God who gets angry, who disciplines, a God who nurtures the universe. Theologians already possess the concept of God’s continuous creation. I think to explore modern science with this notion of continuous creation would be a very enriching experience for theologians and religious believers. God is working with the universe. The universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does. It has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement. You discipline a child but you try to preserve and enrich the individual character of the child and its own passion for life. A parent must allow the child to grow into adulthood, to come to make its own choices, to go on its own way in life. Words which give life are richer than mere commands or information. In such wise does God deal with the universe.
    These are very weak images, but how else do we talk about God. We can only come to know God by analogy. The universe as we know it today through science is one way to derive analogical knowledge of God. For those who believe modern science does say something to us about God. It provides a challenge, an enriching challenge, to traditional beliefs about God. God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world which reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity. God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution. He does not intervene, but rather allows, participates, loves. Is such thinking adequate to preserve the special character attributed by religious thought to the emergence not only of life but also of spirit, while avoiding a crude creationism? Only a protracted dialogue will tell.”

    Extracted from a 17 page article by George Coyne S.J. – Destiny of Life and Religious Attitudes, 2005, in Life as We Know It, ed. J. Seckbach (Dordrecht: Springer Science 2005) with 61 paragraphs, 683 lines and 8,533 words, ….

  • andyo

    “There is no need to “disprove” plain nonsense, atheism is not a “belief” anymore than OFF is a TV channel.

    I’ll agree with the first half of your sentence because you said it yourself. Yes, I’ve heard it before. Atheism is not a ‘belief’ because in reality, it is a ‘lack of belief’. Yah,…. right. As the great Geddy Lee once said “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

    That sounds more like the wishy-washy agnostics.

    “Yah,…. right”? Yeah, right. Are you agnostic about other unprovable, unobserved, unneeded things? Need I mention a-fairyism and a-unicornism… how about inastrology? The reason you’ve fallen for the “atheism is a belief” tripe is because it’s a word religious people use to describe us. Some of us (not me) just took it and went with it. But there’s no reason whatsoever that an “atheist” should be calling herself/himself that. There is no atheism as there is no a-unicornism.

  • andyo

    Otis (from several posts)

    The rarity or unlikelihood of life in the universe should not be taken as if there’s a purpose to it (or something supernatural). Knowledge progresses, and doing that just stops progress (as with any god invocation). We don’t know anything, but we do know a lot, and tomorrow we’ll know more than today. We will be less likely to make the same mistakes. The history of science and the HUGE progress it brought always point at natural causes for things, and the more explanations we have, the more that way it follows.

    Darwin did away beautifully with the problem of the complexity of life on earth, and it is perfectly conceivable that something like that is responsible for life in the universe. The god explanations are just so mundane, so presumptuous, but most of all, so unnecessary and unhelpful.

  • andyo

    Holy cow, I don’t even know where to start with Charlie. Scientists don’t answer definitively the question of abiogenesis, because… it’s hard. And they look for something called “evidence”. Look it up, it’s a fun word. And to do that, there’s these things called experiments and stuff.

    I would like to know how you replicated god creating living things, by the way, if you’re so sure that happened.

  • Mike Schuler

    “Yah,…. right”? Yeah, right. Are you agnostic about other unprovable, unobserved, unneeded things? Need I mention a-fairyism and a-unicornism… how about inastrology?

    Wow,… I offended an atheist. One of the definitions of the word ‘religion’ is: ” A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
    Your so called “lack of belief” is itself a belief, and arguing that it is not seems just as ridiculous as one of Charlie’s statements. Outspoken atheists are actually practicing evangelism.

  • andyo

    How exactly is my “belief” different than your “belief” that there are no fairies? I wasn’t offended, I wasn’t trying to offend you back. It is a legitimate question, ridiculous as it seems.

  • Mike Schuler

    Darwin did away beautifully with the problem of the complexity of life on earth, and it is perfectly conceivable that something like that is responsible for life in the universe.

    There have been some new discoveries since the time of Darwin. How does Darwin do away with the problem that apes have 24 chromosome pairs and humans only have 23? According to Darwin, apes and humans have a common ancestor. Presumably, this ancestor had 24 chromosome pairs. Darwin couldn’t look at chromosomes, but we can, and we find that the ape’s 9th and 14th chromosome pairs, if joined together and reversed like a palindrome, look just like the human 12th chromosome.

    So here we have evidence of one species begatting another. Darwin says that genetic mutations are random, with detrimental ones dying off and beneficial mutations being passed along.

    In order for a new species to arise, this random mutation that causes 2 chromosome pairs to just randomly join together and reverse themselves, would have to occur twice, identically and simultaneously, in a single male, and a single female offspring, that are available to each other, in order to form a breeding pair. If the mutation only occurred once, that organism would be unable to breed. The mutation could only be reproduced if it happens twice.

    The only inescapable conclusion that Darwin could ever possibly lead us to, is the absolute fact, that for almost every separate species on Earth, there had to be an original, beginning, pair of breeders (excluding species that are capable of asexual reproduction). The idea that the diversity of life on Earth all came about through the guidance of random chance, I find a little too far fetched to believe.

  • tacitus

    It should be pointed out that many Christians call atheism a religion because they believe that atheists worship themselves, or “man”, or science. They are obviously wrong — usually because what their own religious leaders teach about atheism is steeped in their own Biblical worldview (i.e. also dead wrong).

    Look at the definitions of “religion” from dictionary.com:

    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

    4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

    5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

    6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

    Applying these definitions to atheism, you can only apply the first definition in the loosest possible way — the “esp.” qualification clarifies the widely accepted definition of the term, and atheism recognizes no supernatural agency, has no devotional or ritual observances, and is silent on moral codes.

    Atheism is not a religion.

  • andyo

    Mike, are you an “Intelligent Design” advocate/believer? If so, then it’s another whole conversation. About your question on the chromosomes, I’m not a biologist, but I’m almost certain that you’ve got it fundamentally wrong. 2 chromosome pairs did not randomly joined together and “reversed”. Given the difference in number of chromosomes with the other great apes, evolution predicted one pair of chromosomes fused by mutation, and that’s exactly what biologists found. Ken Miller, that filthy, filthy catholic, gave a great talk on this subject after the Dover trial. Excerpt here.

    But the thing is that even if there were such a problem, the god “answer” does not answer anything. We have learned in these past few hundred years, that if you look deep enough, you’ll find an explanation, and every time there’s a thoroughly verified explanation, guess what, it’s perfectly natural. The god hypothesis is utterly useless for knowledge. Even if not for knowledge’s sake, it’s not useful for practical reasons either. It just stops you from looking further. What if scientists just threw their hands at the chromosome problem and said “god did it”?

  • Mike Schuler

    andyo: “About your question on the chromosomes, I’m not a biologist, but I’m almost certain that you’ve got it fundamentally wrong.”

    I wasn’t asking a question, I was pointing out the obvious,… which you missed. If the two ape chromosome pairs, at any point in the process of reproduction or of living, joined together to become a single chromosme pair, it would have had to have happened twice, at the same time, in two separate oraganisms, one male and one female, in order for the new chromosome to be reproduced.

    Darwin’s theory is slow and gradual change over time. Chromosomes prove that the change has to happen in one instance of reproduction. This directly contradicts Darwin.

    So how do these genetic changes occur. They call it a ‘genetic code’ or ‘genetic information’ or ‘genetic instructions.’ All life has the same 4 molecules arrainged in certain particular orders, just like a base 4 number system. The genetic code is software.

    Don’t try to stick any labels on me, like your “Intelligent Design” advocate/believer crack. Let’s just say that I’m not an atheist. Where do you get ‘software’ without a “software engineer?” And if you have evidence of changes being made to the files, why would you automatically rule out any possibility of an unseen programer being responsible for the changes? Wouldn’t you need some kind of ‘evidence’ to make that ruling?

  • andyo

    OK, so you don’t wanna call yourself an advocate of ID, but what you say is the same they say. You don’t accept evolution as it is accepted even by postitively-theist Ken Miller (and the vast majority of biologists and scientists in general all over the world), which is it doesn’t need any intervention of a designer at all. Do you believe in Intelligent Design or not? If not, what’s your “alternative” to evolution?

    But in any case, two pairs weren’t fused. Only one pair fused. There’s no super-coincidence. No one says two pairs fused. I didn’t miss what you said, I just thought you probably meant something else, so I didn’t mention it. Only one pair fused. I think what you’re getting at is that two chromosomes (one pair) fused, and that is too much of a coincidence to you.

    Human reproductive cells only have 23 chromosomes, to be joined by the other 23 when fertilization is achieved. This is different from the other cells, which have 23 pairs (46 total). So it could only take that one fusion, and once that mutated fused chromosome spread enough in the population, until it met another fused chromosome, and there you have your pair. A biologist could explain this to you with further detail, I’m sure.

    But you’re still missing the point, that is even if such problems arise, the god explanation doesn’t solve anything, it just stops progress. We have learned that. Knowledge is progressive.

  • Interested

    “…..Where do you get ’software’ without a “software engineer?” And if you have evidence of changes being made to the files, why would you automatically rule out any possibility of an unseen programer being responsible for the changes? Wouldn’t you need some kind of ‘evidence’ to make that ruling?”

    George Coyne S.J. :

    “…. 3. Origins of Intelligent Life

    How did we humans come to be in this evolving universe? It is quite clear that we do not know everything about this process. But it would be scientifically absurd to deny that the human brain is a result of a process of chemical complexification in an evolving universe. After the universe became rich in certain basic chemicals, those chemicals got together in successive steps to make ever more complex molecules.

    Finally in some extraordinary chemical process the human brain came to be, the most complicated machine that we know. I should make it clear that, when I speak about the human brain as a machine, I am not excluding the spiritual dimension of the human being. I am simply prescinding from it and talking about the human brain as a biological, chemical mechanism, evolving out of the universe.

    Did this happen by chance or by necessity in this evolving universe? Was it destined to happen? The first thing to be said is that the problem is not formulated correctly. It is not just a question of chance or necessity because, first of all, it is both. Furthermore, there is a third element here that is very important. It is what I call “opportunity.” What this means is that the universe is so prolific in offering the opportunity for the success of both chance and necessary processes that such a character of the universe must be included in the discussion. The universe is 13.7 billion years old, it contains about 100 billion galaxies each of which contains 100 billion stars of an immense variety.
    We might illustrate what opportunity means in the following way. Einstein said that God does not play at dice. He was referring specifically to quantum mechanics, but it can be applied in general to his view of the universe. For him God made a universe to work according to established laws. This is referred to as a Newtonian Universe. It is like a clock that just keeps ticking away once you supply it energy. Today we might be permitted to challenge this point of view. We could claim that God does play at dice because he is certain to win. The point being made is that God made a universe that is so prolific with the possibilities for these processes to have success that we have to take the nature of the universe into consideration when we talk about how we came to be.

    For 13.7 billion years the universe has been playing at the lottery. What do I mean by the lottery? When we speak about chance we mean that it is very unlikely that a certain event would happen. The “very unlikely” can be calculated in mathematical terms. Such a calculation takes into account how big the universe is, how many stars there are, how many stars would have developed planets, etc. In other words, it is not just guesswork. There is a foundation in fact for making each successive calculation.

    A good example of a chance event would be two very simple molecules wandering about in the universe. They happen to meet one another and, when they do, they would love to make a more complex molecule because that is the nature of these molecules. But the temperature and pressure conditions are such that the chemical bonding to make a more complex molecule cannot happen. So they wander off, but they or identical molecules meet billions and billions of times, trillions if you wish, in this universe, and finally they meet and the temperature and pressure conditions are correct. This could happen more easily around certain types of stars than other types of stars, so we can throw in all kinds of other factors.

    The point is that from a strictly mathematical analysis of this, called the mathematics of nonlinear dynamics, one can say that as this process goes on and more complex molecules develop, there is more and more direction to this process. As the complexity increases, the future complexity becomes more and more predetermined. In such wise did the human brain come to be and it is still evolving. Can we call this process “destiny?”.

    Let us pause for a moment to review the degree of certainty which we can place in the above scenario. We certainly do not have the scientific knowledge to say how each living creature came to be in detail. We do not know precisely how each more complex chemical system came to contribute to the process of self organization which brought about the diversity of life forms as we know them today. Most importantly, we do not know with scientific accuracy the sufficient elements in nature to have brought about the unbroken genealogical continuity in evolution that we propose actually happened. There are, in brief, epistemological gaps which prevent natural science from saying that a detailed theory of biotic evolution has been proven. What we have presented is the most adequate account conceivable at this time considering the available empirical data. And that empirical data, with respect to biotic evolution, comes from various independent scientific enterprises, including molecular biology, paleontology and comparative anatomy.

    How do we know we are on the path to the truth in the scenario of life’s origins just described? In other words how do we judge what is the best way to explain life’s origins. In the natural sciences there are a number of criterion whereby an explanation is judged to be best. I would list the principal criteria as the following: (1) verifiability, i.e., there is, at least in principle, a way of judging whether the explanation fits the data; (2) predictability, i.e., from data on past or present events it is possible to predict future events and then observe to see that the future events actually occur; (3) simplicity or economy, i.e., the least assumptions are made to get the greatest explanatory power; (4) beauty, i.e., the explanation has an aesthetic quality about it. Although, especially for the natural sciences, this may appear to be a very subjective criterion, almost all great scientific discoveries have benefited from its application. (5) unifying explanatory power; i.e. not only are the observations at hand explained but the attempt to understand is also in harmony with all else that we know, even with that which we know outside of the natural sciences.

    It is this last criterion which I would like to discuss, since it appears to me to extend the epistemological nature of the natural sciences towards the realm of other disciplines, such as religious thought. Put in very simple terms this criterion is nothing else than a call for the unification of our knowledge. One could hardly be opposed to that. The problem arises with the application of this criterion. When is the unification not truly unifying but rather an adulteration of knowledge obtained by one discipline with the presuppositions inherent in another discipline. History is full of examples of such adulterations. It is for this reason that scientists have always hesitated to make use of this criterion. And yet, if applied cautiously, it appears to me to be a most creative one for the advancement of our knowledge.

    The supposition is that there is a universal basis for our understanding and, since that basis cannot be self-contradictory, the understanding we have from one discipline should complement that which we have from all other disciplines. One is most faithful to one’s own discipline, be it the natural sciences, the social sciences, philosophy, literature, religious thought etc., if one accepts this universal basis. This means in practice that, while remaining faithful to the strict truth criteria of one’s own discipline, we are open to accept the truth value of the conclusions of other disciplines. And this acceptance must not only be passive, in the sense that we do not deny those conclusions, but also active, in the sense that we integrate those conclusions into the conclusions derived from one’s own proper discipline. This, of course, does not mean that there will be no conflict, even contradictions, between conclusions reached by various disciplines. But if one truly accepts the universal basis I have spoken of above, then those conflicts and contradictions must be seen as temporary and apparent. They themselves can serve as a spur to further knowledge, since the attempt to resolve the differences will undoubtedly bring us to a richer unified understanding.

    The above discussion particularly applies when we are addressing fundamental and ultimate questions such as life’s origins and meaning. Does the existence of intelligent beings in the Universe have a significance for understanding the Universe as a whole? Does our knowledge of God depend on our understanding of the Universe? In fact, a very strong piece of evidence that there is a universal basis for understanding is the very clear drive of the human being for meaning. This is seen clearly from the very dawn of human history where, with even a very primitive collection of data, our ancestors sought for the meaning of life in the physical universe, as well as in the events of their personal lives and those of society in general.

    In summary, we note that the scientific and the religious approaches to the search for the meaning of life have for the most part been pursued in isolation from one another. In the past when they have met it has been mostly as antagonists. In recent times, however, there has been an increasing awareness of the need for dialogue in the quest for life’s meaning. The common criteria of what is true in this search would be that the explanation be simple, aesthetically appealing, verifiable and that it have a unifying explanatory power. In practice these requirements for a good theory will not always agree among themselves and differing emphasis will be given to one or other criteria in the different disciplines.

    Scientists are usually well aware of the limitations of their knowledge. Religious thinking also has its limitations. The excessively dogmatic approach which sometimes characterizes theology would do well to recognize this. I am not here referring to the faith dimension in religion. In fact, for the purposes of this discussion I am excluding that dimension which is transcendental and, if you will, a-rational (goes beyond reason) and I limit myself to a discussion of theology as a rational science. Theology must deal with the linguistic interpretation of written documents; it must interpret oral traditions; it must reconstruct history. It must establish a rational basis for accepting witnesses to historical events and it must determine when authority alone can be the source of certain truths. Above all there are the serious epistemological problems that arise from the relationship of theology to faith. Although theology is a science, a rational way of knowing in its own right, it is said to proceed from faith and to lead to an understanding of the faith (fides quaerens intellectum). This makes it subject to all of the false illusions that can arise from purely subjective behavior, and it must always struggle to separate those illusions from what is objectively true.

    If we were to pursue the dialogue which I have outlined in this paper, we might soon come to see that a teleology and design in the universe, derived from a religious point of view, are not incompatible with cosmological models, derived from the scientific point of view. Or we would come to realize that inevitable tendency in the physical universe towards more complex structures is not incompatible with, for instance, human free will. In fact, as a deeper synthesis of the understanding of the whole unfolded through dialogue among the various disciplines it is very likely that the questions peculiar to each discipline would receive a more satisfactory answer. The important thing to realize is that in both the scientific and the religious approaches to understanding we are searching for the truth, which we do not yet possess. But it is clear that evolution is an intrinsic and proper characteristic of the universe. Neither the universe as a whole nor any of its ingredients can be understood except in terms of evolution. And evolution is a daily happening. We, for instance, are constantly exchanging atoms with the total reservoir of atoms in the universe. Each year 98% of the atoms in our bodies are renewed. Each time we breath we take in billions and billions of atoms recycled by the rest of breathing organisms during the past few weeks. Nothing in my genes was present a year ago. It is all new, regenerated from the available energy and matter in the universe. My skin is renewed each month and my liver each six weeks. In brief, human beings are among the most recycled beings in the universe.”

    Extracted from a 17 page article by George Coyne S.J. – Destiny of Life and Religious Attitudes, 2005, in Life as We Know It, ed. J. Seckbach (Dordrecht: Springer Science 2005) with 61 paragraphs, 683 lines and 8,533 words, ….

  • http://hook.sirus.com/users/mjake/QMfromlogic.htm Michael John

    Actually, there may already be scientific theories that explain many a religious claim. The holographic principle might explain life.

    The holographic principle asserts that the entropy inside a region of space is limited to the entropy calculated for the surface of a black hole whose event horizon would encompass that region. And there are some who calculate the entropy of the cosmological horizon, the distance at which space is expanding faster than the speed of light.

    If the entropy in the observable universe is limited by the cosmological event horizon surrounding it, then if space begins to accelerate in its expansion, then the cosmological event horizon will begin to shrink – since the distance at which space is receding at the speed of light will get closer. A shrinking cosmological event horizon means that the entropy of the event horizon will decrease and the entropy of the space within must also decrease. The complexity of life may have risen as a result the accelerated expansion of space. It is curious to note that life began to develop at about the same time that the expansion began to accelerate.

    It might be possible that this limit on entropy might also be responsible for claims such as the resurrection (of Christ), for the mass resurrection predicted to come, and for the coming of the New Heaven and Earth. For the resurrection of Christ came after much suffering. The mass resurrection comes at a time of great climatic destruction and judgment. And the New Heaven and Earth come as the old heaven and earth disappear in flames, etc. If entropy is limited, then complete instant destruction is not possible and may force construction of new structures.

  • Kevembuangga

    Where do you get ’software’ without a “software engineer?”

    Heck! Who said that life is “software”?
    Faulty approaches to a problem necessarily lead to nonsensical answers.
    Just projecting our “engineer mindset” onto nature is of course bound to raise silly paradoxes.
    I would like to point to 3 overlooked facts about life, complexity and other such topics.

    1) ANY living thing grows from inside out, not by “mechanically” bringing parts together in an outside-in fashion, so may be the logic which drives it is somewhat different from the “engineer view” of analysing the “purposes” of each piece and cog.

    2) Complexity buildup doesn’t require any “design”, any iterated function system does creates more and more intricate structures whithout any “purpose” or “plan”.
    An iterated function system isn’t a computer artifact, ANY repeated process, i.e. any process which rehash all or part of its output as the input of the next iteration, is an iterated function system.
    So whatever “properties” the reshuffled stuff has which metrics (of any kind!) are altered by the iterated process, these properties begin to show patterns (without any “purpose”) just because they are caught in attractor basins, see also Barnsley’s Fractals Everywhere for an introduction.
    No plans, no purposes, nogods!

    3) Last but not least, don’t forget that if we are the ones asking “questions” while we are ourselves a tiny part of the whole it is no wonder that we run into self referential paradoxes and capacity limits (a part willing to hold a full model of the whole) but any other kind of “entity” would meet the same constraints.

  • Interested

    “Where do you get ’software’ without a “software engineer?”

    I read that the Buddhist approach, is to maintain (noble) silence, in the face of question whether there is God. Reason being Buddha taught in a time period where Hinduism had many understanding of God, and Buddha told his disciples that whatever answers he gave, people would misunderstand. Thus he taught the path. He thought it was more meaningful to remain silent than attempt to deliver discourses on them (like do we exist after death or do we not exist) given the paucity of human vocabulary. He taught a method of verifying reality through meditation and asked his followers to lead a good life and spend time doing self verification than imagine the truth. Given that science was not developed 2500 years ago, and given that science came in the 16th/ 17th century, or some may say a bit earlier, this seems pragmatic, for that time, capitalizing on the centuries wealth of meditation skills generated in the Indus Valley in India, and maintaining silence on issues such as- is the universe finite or infinite, do we exist after death or do we not exist? Dalai Lama from one of the three branches of Buddhism has realized there is catch up for monastics in science and he has sought to bring science to the monastics.

    While there is value in preserving ancient modes of verifying reality as preserved by (Buddhist) monastics through 2500 years, there is also value in acquiring scientific mode of verifying objective reality of the universe. Each serve their purpose and one does not exclude the other, though on this front, the Catholic Church has the opportunity of launching its priests in the science direction that other world religions have yet to. There is much thus to learn from the Catholic Church science scholars especially when issues like creation science and ID hover on many genuine Christian minds.

    The Protestant or Evangelical approach of personally reading their own Bible compared to the Catholic Church’s mode of leaving it to Catholic scholar priests to read them and teach them, has each its own positive points. When early Christian settlers came to this country, it is said many left to avoid persecution and one can assume they would read their own Bible and interpret it themselves. These early Christians lived their lifes according to their faith, and made this nation what it is today. Today they still live and if they have focused on some important things to keep faith and live productive lifes, like say Buddhist monks who live in forest and focus on meditation, and teach it, then we cannot pooh pooh their understanding of life and measure them by our yardstick of science. We must find common ground, to connect and bridge the gap to move forward as a civilization to enrich our lifes and that of our future generations. Amen.

  • Kevembuangga

    These early Christians lived their lifes according to their faith, and made this nation what it is today.

    LOL…
    Given the current “state of the Onion” are you sure that this is a good point in support of your “cause”?

    Today they still live and if they have focused on some important things to keep faith and live productive lifes, like say Buddhist monks who live in forest and focus on meditation, and teach it, then we cannot pooh pooh their understanding of life and measure them by our yardstick of science.

    So, faith has to be “kept”? Against what?
    Also, what do you mean by “understanding of life”?
    Aren’t you confusing pleasant fantasies with knowledge about “how things actually work”? (which is what science strives to improve)
    Folk psychology even with a good dose of “holy” make up give rise to disastrous opinions and decisions, see the conundrums exposed in Breakdown of Will (more details in the précis).

    We must find common ground, to connect and bridge the gap to move forward as a civilization to enrich our lifes and that of our future generations.

    There is NO way that there could be any common ground between science and any religion, for a very simple reason: Evidence!
    Science relies only on evidence, i.e. something that anyone can check for himself and which has intersubjective validity (in the long run and in spite of any “conflict of theories”), whereas every religion (including Buddhism) rejects evidence and always foster whimsical fantasies which are bound to clash with each other since they are not based on any facts outside the feverish minds of the religionists.
    It’s a mild form of schizophrenia!
    I have no doubts that actual true schizophrenics are not lying about the hallucinations they hear and see, unfortunately these have no relationship whatsoever to the real world except for weird quirks in the schizophrenics own brains and neurophysiological states.
    It is the same for the religionists “spiritual feelings”!

    Amen

    In other words: be submissive!
    Beware, Islam beats all others at that, it is even the very definition of the word Islam.

  • Interested

    WOW!!!
    1) It is your view that science and religion cannot go hand in hand. OK that’s your view. There are priests who are full time scientists who would not agree with you. I too do not agree with you.
    2) It is your view that religion is a mild form of schizophrenia. That’s a radical view, un-medical (thus unscientific too) too by general standard of medicine. Yet many people have their religion.
    3) The only point I would make is, that, if you choose to go on a free ten days course on meditation [According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are run solely on a donation basis.] http://www.dhamma.org/en/docs/core/code-en.pdf , then there is A starting point for discourse. Otherwise, by analogy it may be like a nomad discounting science because he lived in a pre science era. Likewise modern era man MAY discount ancient skills because such skills are not academic curriculum and there is no GPA for that. Drop me a note when you return after ten days. IF after 10 days you found the EVIDENCE that meditation is a mild form of schizophrenia you would have the ADDITIONAL and ballistic ammunition to deep six meditation the ancient technique of some religions :-)
    4) Amen!

  • tacitus

    What is the so-called “common ground” between science and religion anyway? Sure religious people can be good scientists, particularly in fields where there is no conflict of ideas between faith and reason, but even where they might clash — as in cosmology or evolution, many religious scientists are capable of putting their beliefs aside and going where the science takes them.

    But that’s not really common ground. In more liberal Christian circles, new scientific findings are accommodated by religion by modify the established religious beliefs. Thus when the Earth is discovered not to be at the center of the Universe and that it is not only 6,000 years old, mainstream Christianity gave ground to science, it did not share it.

    On the other hand, fundamentalist Christians simply wall themselves into their ever shrinking playpen and willfully ignore anything that refutes their petrified belief system. They cede no ground, but adamantly refuse to share any common ground either.

    From the other side, general claims about deities, creators, supernatural beings, and miracles will always be outside the remit of science. There is no common ground here either. Sure, you can test specific claims, but again the answer will fall on one side of the fence or the other. There is nothing to share.

  • Interested

    Yes, science and religion are different disciplines or rather science and theology. The common ground advocated by Father George Coyne S. J. is the unification of our knowledge from science and from theology, on the tendered supposition that there is a universal basis for our understanding, in different disciplines. That where there are conflicts and contradictions obtained through different disciplines, they are seen as temporary and apparent, and serve as spur to further knowledge to a richer unified understanding.

    Quote-
    ” It is this last criterion which I would like to discuss, since it appears to me to extend the epistemological nature of the natural sciences towards the realm of other disciplines, such as religious thought. Put in very simple terms this criterion is nothing else than a call for the unification of our knowledge. One could hardly be opposed to that. The problem arises with the application of this criterion. When is the unification not truly unifying but rather an adulteration of knowledge obtained by one discipline with the presuppositions inherent in another discipline. History is full of examples of such adulterations. It is for this reason that scientists have always hesitated to make use of this criterion. And yet, if applied cautiously, it appears to me to be a most creative one for the advancement of our knowledge.

    The supposition is that there is a universal basis for our understanding and, since that basis cannot be self-contradictory, the understanding we have from one discipline should complement that which we have from all other disciplines. One is most faithful to one’s own discipline, be it the natural sciences, the social sciences, philosophy, literature, religious thought etc., if one accepts this universal basis. This means in practice that, while remaining faithful to the strict truth criteria of one’s own discipline, we are open to accept the truth value of the conclusions of other disciplines. And this acceptance must not only be passive, in the sense that we do not deny those conclusions, but also active, in the sense that we integrate those conclusions into the conclusions derived from one’s own proper discipline. This, of course, does not mean that there will be no conflict, even contradictions, between conclusions reached by various disciplines. But if one truly accepts the universal basis I have spoken of above, then those conflicts and contradictions must be seen as temporary and apparent. They themselves can serve as a spur to further knowledge, since the attempt to resolve the differences will undoubtedly bring us to a richer unified understanding.”

    I cannot offer an example of what Father George Coyne sj means, but I would on my own give such examples to flesh out those points. The perception of a solid chair would contradict the perception at deep molecular level. The perception of a person would contradict the perception at a deeper level that there is no one (or no one at home- the core of Theravada Buddhism). These contradictions are apparent and temporary and serve as a spur to richer unified understanding. Maybe these would not be the type of examples of Father George a renowned astrophysicist would have in mind http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/vo/R1024/GCoyne2.html One would have to ask him Director Emeritus of the Vatican Observatory
    Tel: (520) 795-1918 in Tucson or 39-06-698 85266 in Rome
    E-Mail: gcoyne@as.arizona.edu

    But what I had in mind, when I mentioned common ground, then, was a knee jerk reaction to the battle between ID proponents and critical atheists, who see ID as death of science education among this nation’s youth. .. the future scientists and future Noble Prize winners. There is cause for their concern as apart from the Dover case, there are a string of legal cases in the different states in this country, where the school science syllabus is being challenged along those lines whether elements of ID is science and should be part of the science syllabus or not. I think the common ground, is the recognize the contribution that Christianity has made and the beneficial impact it has on its sincere and genuine adherents, while slowly leading them to understand that the God that Christianity teaches is elevated by an understanding of God according to the likes of Father George than of ID proponents. The common ground is not to dismiss Christianity altogether merely because they are playing catch up on science.

  • andyo

    What you don’t understand is that there’s no actual knowledge coming from theology. Religion and science don’t compete for knowledge. Science has won hands-down there. What “knowledge” exactly have you gotten by faith? Or even meditation?

    Religion nowadays is only good for comfort/social bonding. Even maybe some (misguided, but that’s my opinion) philosophy. But whenever it even goes near a claim about actual reality, it doesn’t hold a candle to science.

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  • Interested

    If a person has not seen a brain scan and MRI it is hard to explain. Likewise, without meditation experience, it is difficult to explain. Nonetheless, here goes – to meet your curiosity of what [IF ANY, and your ASSUMPTION, there can be NONE ( no knowledge) save for and from SCIENCE]

    I could not find the link and so have to type them out-

    quote -

    The mind is then riveted on the object of its attention, the act of mindfulness becoming almost simultaneous with the object of its attention such as the rising and the falling of the abdomen. (In other words the rising of the abdomen becomes concurrent with the act of noting it, and similarly with the falling of the abdomen.)

    The physical object of attention and mental act of noting are occurring as a pair. There is in this occurrence no person or individual involved , only this physical object of attention and the mental act of noting occurring as a pair. The yogi will in time actually and personally experience these occurrences. While noting the rising and falling of the abdomen he will come to distinguish the rising of the abdomen as physical phenomenon and the mental act of noting of it as psychical phenomenon; …… Thus the yogi will distinctly come to realize the simultaneous occurrence in pair of these psycho-physical phenomena.
    Thus with every act of noting, the yogi will come to know for himself clearly that there are only this material quality which is the object of awareness or attention and the mental quality that makes a note of it. This discriminating knowledge is called ( pali word ) the beginning of the (another pali word) . It is important to gain this knowledge correctly. This will be succeeded as the yogi goes on by the knowledge that distinguishes between the cause and its effect, which knowledge is called (another pali word).

    As the yogi goes on noting he will see for himself that what arises passes away after a short while . Ordinary people assume that both the material and mental phenomena go on lasting throughout life. In fact that is not so. There is no phenomena that lasts for forever. All phenomena arise and pass away so rapidly that they do not even last for the twinkling of an eye. The yogi will come to know this for himself as he goes on noting. He will then become convinced of the impermanency of all such phenomena . Such conviction is called [ another pali word].

    This knowledge will be succeeded by [ another pali word] which realizes that …… …. Next the yogi will become convinced that all these psycho physical phenomena are occurring of their own accord , following nobody’s will and subject to nobody’s control. They constitute no individual or ego entity. This realization is [ another pali word] .

  • Interested

    For the first time it dawned on me, you want to treat the bible like a science book, and thus only would you conclude that science wins hands down on knowledge as compared to faith. So while the creationist and ID proponents want to treat the Bible like a science book, even though it was written before the advent of science. You also want to treat the Bible like a science book and thus on that level playing field, the Christian faith/Bible fails to deliver the knowledge that science has delivered. WOW!!!

    If Christians are told not to treat the Bible as a science text book, the antagonist camp should also be told not to treat the Bible / Christian faith as a reservoir of science knowledge.

    For example, faith could bring about INSIGHT , with it , life goes well, for no matter how intelligent and full of science knowledge, a person without insight might take his life, might consider murdering another or embezzle. Is knowledge the domain of science? Can science alone claim to provide insight. These are questions you should consider, when you make comparisons on basis of knowledge and what is the definition of knowledge.

  • andyo

    I don’t know what you’re babbling about. Why would I treat the bible like a scientific book when I’m saying it’s not even in the league of reality-based books, let alone science?

    Andy how does what you quoted qualify as knowledge? That’s just individual experience put in some vague “spiritual” rhetoric. What I’m saying is simple. Faith (or “spirituality”) does not tell you anything reliably real about the universe. I’m talking about real knowledge. Why do I even have to qualify this knowledge as “real”? You keep quoting “Father” Coyne, but why do you think that’s true, what he says? Appeal to authority?

  • Interested

    If parties antagonistic to the Christian faith/Bible do not treat the Bible as a reservoir of science knowledge, then, they could grant it a latitude that it could possibly be a reservoir of other forms of knowledge for many people, over the ages. What this knowledge might be, would be for adherents and practitioners of the faith to say. If there is NO expectation that Christianity should contain scientific knowledge, then there is no need to indicate that science wins hand down, for it could also be said of Christianity that it wins hand down over science in other areas ( like number of adherents to the faith) to number of scientists or people with keen scientific mind but not in the profession of science careers.

    What is reality depends on what is ‘real’. A chair looks solid and real, but a microscopic or deeper level, it is all molecules or ??? So if one describes the chair as made of real wood, and thus a real chair, that is one reality. If we bring in the scientist and ask him to put it together into electrons etc, that is also real. Insight meditation or vipassana is about unraveling the reality comparable to the molecular level by the human of the human using the human himself /herself. That is also real knowledge. Just as knowledge of a carpenter making the chair is real knowledge. Just a different understanding of real and reality.

    Father Coyne sj is a Jesuit priest, and one of the many orders of Catholic priesthood, the Jesuits. From early Church history, Jesuits have been scholars of the Catholic Church and today too. There are many other orders, some serve the poor, some teach in school, etc. To be a Jesuit they need to have at least 2 undergraduate degrees, one of which is theology and other of their choice. Many go on to have PhD or more than one PhD. They serve God through their scholasticism. Compared to other world religions, there is no other world religion that has such an organized demanding religious & secular scholastic training for their priests/monks. They certainly set the high point. The Supreme Court case some 30 years ago Anguillard v Edwards was a case where creation science was shown to be not science. Nonetheless today the battle is still on, with ID. Thus the issue of Christians understanding of God and science is an important issue here, a real issue for Christians. The advantage that Catholic Church can offer fellow Christians have not be availed because of the divisions between Catholic and Evangelical. If there was ecumenism not just in worship, but also in acquired scholastic learning undertaken by religious Catholic/ Christians of all stripes, then the cutting edge views of Father Coyne could benefit the ID debate, to show that God does not need ID. It actually belittles God to make God the “God of the Great Gaps”.

    I trust this reply finds you well.

  • Mike Schuler

    The Industrial Revolution could have happened just as easily 2,000 years ago, rather than 200 hundred years ago.

    Question: Then why didn’t the Industrial Revolution happen 2,000 years ago? Why did it take so long to happen?

    Answer: Because mainstream science insisted that the Earth was a motionless object at the center of the Universe, and anybody who dissented from that belief was ridiculed and ostracized and had detrimental things done to them by the educational community, the civil authority, and the religious leaders.

    __________________________________________________________________

    Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler put cracks in the wall which allowed Newton to come up and finish knocking the wall down. It wasn’t religion that held up that wall for so long. It was mainstream science in the beings of Aristotle and Ptolemy that held Mankind back for almost 2,000 years.

    Once Newton knocked the wall down with his Mechanical Universe, men and women everywhere were free to think, postulate, and experiment, and distribute their findings freely. This lead to breakthroughs in technology which enabled the Industrial Revolution. It wasn’t that way when Aristotle and Ptolemy ruled the science universe. Before Galileo, mathematics was thought to be unimportant. Scientific experiments were unheard of. Don’t blame that on God, blame it on the people who were responsible.

    You atheists can criticize religion all you want, but nothing you have said so far can be used to rule out the existence of God.

    Not ruling out the possibility of God,… is no different than not ruling out the possibility that the Earth is moving. When Aristotle and Ptolemy ruled out the possibility of a moving Earth just because their stomachs couldn’t feel the Earth moving, they actually doomed the Human Race to living through the Dark Ages. They blinded themselves, and they set up an authority that made certain that everybody else who wanted to eat and not get burned up while tied to a post, remained silent and went with the status quo.

    If you don’t rule out God, that doesn’t stop you from continuing to ask questions about how things in the Universe work. Not ruling out the possibility that our world was created does not mean that you have to give up the quest for factual truth and accept magic as an answer. Throw all of those scriptures and religions in the garbage can where they belong. Do not rule out any possibility as to how the Universe and physical reality as we perceive it came to be, unless you are ready to prove how it happened.

  • andyo

    You don’t need to rule out something for which there is no evidence, nor reason to exist at all. It goes back to the unicorns question. God, in the 21st century, is unnecessary. You can believe in it if you want, but not because you need it to be real.

    If you don’t rule out God, that doesn’t stop you from continuing to ask questions about how things in the Universe work.

    It depends on where you put god. Did he create “man”? Nope, evolution explains that. Move god farther back. Does he make the planets go? Nope, Newton and Einstein explained that. Move god farther… You will always move him to accommodate what we have actual evidence for (i.e. scientific knowledge). If you’re willing to move him further and further, then of course you can say it doesn’t stop you from asking questions. But then in what sense can you say god is god? Either you are willing to cede to science, or you’ll just stop asking questions. Either you say at some point “God did it” and stop, or you never say it and god never did anything in the first place.

    And about the history of science, you’re wrong. That the precursors of science, no matter how huge they were, had their faults just means they were human. In any case, the cases you mentioned were more based on philosophy, evidence was hard to come by, and the concept wasn’t even well defined. And Aristotle and Ptolemy in no way paved the way to the Dark Ages, what are you even talking about? That was dogma (a.k.a. religion). I don’t even think most religious people dare to blame it on “science”.

    Science is just a method, not a set of beliefs. It doesn’t dictate what you should do or think, it just lays out the facts and you do whatever your feeble human mind tells you it’s right, given that knowledge.And also, science has evolved. It has progressed. It tends strongly to not make the same mistakes.

  • Interested

    “But then in what sense can you say god is god?”

    I may not do justice to Father Coyne sj’s explanation so I shall attempt a summary of it and leave you with the detailed explanation for comparison.

    I think Father Coyne sj says god is god, when science yields observational data [ of precise empirically measured value with only a slight difference, of one part in a million, it would have been impossible for human beings to have emerged.] that general physical theory has no theory for. In statistics, pure chance has to be ruled out. The theory of simultaneous universes cannot be scientifically verified. Based on that, Father Coyne sj, invites one to return to an examination of the religious concept of the creation of the universe by God against the background of modern cosmology. He says one is free to accept the invitation or not, and one “can stay firmly put within one’s own discipline and continue to seek the answer there, uncontaminated by possible solutions arising elsewhere.”

    Quote – # 6. An Invitation to Think of Life as Destined

    A much discussed question among cosmologists over the past two decades is the one arising from the so-called anthropic principle. Many distinctions are made concerning its true meaning; they range from the so-called “weak” principle, which essentially states that, as observers in the universe, we see the universe as related to us, to the “strong” principle, which requires a certain teleology intrinsic to the universe. For our purposes it is necessary to state only the following well-established cosmological facts: (1) the existence of the human being has required a fine-tuning of the physical constants and the laws of nature which we find empirically by scientific investigation in the universe; (2) there is no general cosmological theory which explains why those constants should have the precise values they do and the laws should be as they are.
    Many examples of the fine-tuning I have referred to have been discussed. The argument is essentially the following one: of the many constants of nature, e.g., the velocity of expansion of the universe, the mass and charge of the electron as compared to the proton, the gravity constant, etc., the empirically measured value is so precise that had it been only slightly different (in general, one part in one million) it would have been impossible for human beings to have emerged. Why, therefore, are the values of all the constants so precisely what they are?

    Let me give just a few examples. In expanding, since its beginning in a Big Bang, the universe has cooled to the current temperature of about three degrees Kelvin (absolute zero scale). In so doing it has followed the normal, well-known law for gases: as a given volume of gas collapses it heats up; as it expands it cools down. If the current temperature of the universe were much different than it is, the Earth would not be able to dissipate its energy and it would continuously heat up. Life on the surface of the Earth would not be possible beyond a certain temperature. Why is it that the temperature of the universe is just the value that it is, after having begun at millions of degrees? Examples of this kind could be multiplied many times over. For instance, if the energy levels in helium, carbon, and nitrogen were not precisely the values they are, the thermonuclear fusion processes which have given us the heavier elements could not have taken place. Without those heavier elements we would not be here. In fact, in order to have the right proportion of elements in the universe to form the human organism, three generations of stars were required. As we have seen in Sec. 2, the only way known to scientists to manufacture the heavier elements is in the thermonuclear furnaces of stars. As a star lives out its life it converts the lighter elements (hydrogen, helium, etc.) into the heavier elements (carbon, silicon, oxygen, etc.). When it dies, it regurgitates this heavier material to the universe. The next generation of stars, born from this material, goes through the same life cycle, so that the universe is being constantly supplied with the heavier elements. To arrive at the chemical abundances required for the human organism three generations of stars had to perform in this way.

    The cosmologist, of course, first seeks the answer in a general physical theory that will explain all of the values. No such theory exists. Next, we seek to explain the fine-tuning by statistics. Pure chance is ruled out because the probability that it could have happened by chance is unacceptable scientifically. The statistical argument then moves to the possibility that there are many universes, existing either simultaneously or successively. Each of these universes would have its own set of physical constants and of the laws of nature. If we have enough such universes, even an infinite number, then the probability that one such universe like ours would come to be is quite acceptable. However, none of these many universe proposals succeeds very well, either because data is lacking or they are not verifiable. Verifiability is an important and indispensable criterion of scientific validity. In the many-simultaneous-universes theory the universes are separated by distances greater than the light travel time for the total age of the universe, and, therefore, in principle non-verifiable because non-communicating. In the successive-universes hypothesis it is difficult to see how there could be any possible data which could verify the existence of a universe before the last Big Bang.

    The inability to provide thus far a strictly scientific explanation to what is a strictly scientific problem, i.e., the anthropic principle, may be, according to the discussion above of the criterion of unifying explanatory power, an invitation to think that the explanation lies in a teleological consideration. It is important here to emphasis the word “invitation”, so as to preserve the epistemological independence of the various disciplines. One is perfectly free to accept the invitation or not. One can stay firmly put within one’s own discipline and continue to seek the answer there, uncontaminated by possible solutions arising elsewhere. But it seems to me that the invitation is a very real one and well-founded; it, therefore, also seems to me that it requires serious reasons to reject it. Those serious reasons must confront the long history of religious thought that there is a person at the source of the existence of the universe and that said person had a purpose or a design in “creating” the universe, a design which included, perhaps even centered upon, our existence.

    What is being proposed, of course, is an invitation to return to an examination of the religious concept of the creation of the universe by God against the background of modern cosmologies. One of the most productive areas of research in modern cosmology is the application of quantum mechanics to an analysis of the origins and very earliest stages of the universe. It is important to note that our observational knowledge of the origins and early stages of the universe is very limited, we might say non-existent. But we can argue back quite rigorously to the physical conditions which characterized those stages by applying physics and mathematics to what we observe in the universe today. Amidst the myriads of such observational data there are three principal observations which emerge and which allow us to reconstruct the early universe: (1) from the measurements of distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies we know that the universe is expanding with very precise conditions; (2) from the measurement of the abundances of helium, lithium, deuterium and other light elements, we know that much of that material had to be created under extremely high temperature and density conditions in the early universe; (3) from a measurement of the current temperature of the universe, the so-called cosmic background radiation, we can establish the temperature conditions of the early universe. When we combine all of this and other observations we can determine the age of the universe, its approximate mass and its mean density.

    This summary of the results of modern cosmology represents an amazing feat in the combination of our knowledge of elementary particle physics and observational astrophysics. But the nagging questions remain: how did it all begin? when it began were there not certain initial conditions which determined how it would evolve? Did the universe really come to be in all its specificity from quantum fluctuations at its origin. Such considerations also suffer from problems of verifiability. The question also arises as to whether they really provide ultimate explanations.

    It is precisely here, I believe, that religious thought can play a role in cosmology. Many of the concepts which are essential ingredients in the cosmological models have important implications in religious thought and those implications must also enrich cosmological thinking, so that the latter may have the greatest unifying explanatory power, a criterion for its veracity. In exploring these implications, however, it is essential that the fundamental significance of the concepts in the various disciplines not be confused. On the other hand the precise thrust of interdisciplinary dialogue is that a wider perspective will be gained on the fundamental reality by inter-relating the concepts arising from the diverse disciplines.

  • Mike Schuler

    “You don’t need to rule out something for which there is no evidence, nor reason to exist at all.”

    For over 1,800 years, mainstream science ruled out the possibility that the Earth moves. Aristarchus of Samos was known for his heliocentric view in the 3rd century B.C.E. Mainstream science didn’t accept it until about 3 hundred years ago. A moving Earth was ruled out despite the evidence, not because there was ‘no evidence’ of a moving Earth.

    “It depends on where you put god. Did he create “man”? Nope, evolution explains that.”

    Darwin’s evolution explains the existence of life the same way Ptolemy explains the apparent retrograde motions of the planets. Your claim that a mutation fusing 2 chromosomes into 1 need only happen once, doesn’t hold water. If a human/ape ancestor gestated an offspring with a normal 24 chromosome arrangement on one side, and a mutated 23 chromosome arrangement on the other side, that organism would suffer from a monosomy condition and would not likely live long enough to be born, much less reproduce and start a new species. Cells have a hard time surviving with monosomy conditions. We know this because of what we observe in reality. Monosomy conditions do not cause new species to arise.

    But wait. You and many others will say that their must be some mechanism that we just haven’t figured out yet. Isn’t that just leaving something up to ‘faith’ and avoiding reexamining your conclusions? Isn’t that exactly what you accuse religion of doing?

    “Science is just a method, not a set of beliefs.”

    Faced with completely contradicting evidence in the fossil record, evolutionists make up a ‘fudge-factor’ called “punctuated equilibrium.” There is absolutely no evidence of a “punctuated equilibrium” mechanism. It’s just a belief. Just like the ‘belief’ that there is no God.

    “How did the Universe get here?” To answer that question using the scientific method, you cannot rule out the possibility that the Universe is a creation made by an unknown intelligence of some kind,… because you just don’t know, and you just don’t have any evidence otherwise.

  • Kevembuangga

    you cannot rule out the possibility that the Universe is a creation made by an unknown intelligence of some kind,… because you just don’t know, and you just don’t have any evidence otherwise.

    Oooooh! THAT’s an “explanation”!
    But…
    Where did the “unknown intelligence of some kind” came from?
    This is a classic “virtus dormitiva” fallacy.

  • andyo

    Faced with completely contradicting evidence in the fossil record, evolutionists make up a ‘fudge-factor’ called “punctuated equilibrium.”

    Somehow I think you’re getting your science facts from the Discovery Institute.

    And, there hasn’t been a “mainstream science” for more than a few hundred years, and as I said, it progresses. Somehow religious people think science is another, equal, absolutist form of knowledge. It isn’t.

  • andyo

    By the way, if you’re really interested in learning how the chromosome non-problem is solved, you’d read this carefully. And then this. Whatever your feelings for/against (I’m betting on “against”) PZ Myers are, he does know his biology. If we dirty “atheists” don’t have a problem, or even admire (like me), Ken Miller when he talks science, then you shouldn’t have a problem with PZ when he does as well.

    There is no aneuploidy (had to look up that word). The genes remain, there is no lost chromosome, just two fused. If you still wanna pursue that there’s a problem there, then there’s your god stopping you from further knowledge.

  • Kevembuangga

    Strange…
    I got a perfectly sensible comment in response to Interested ignored, moderated? spam blocked?
    I try this as test with a different browser: a picture is worth a thousand words

  • Interested

    Kevembuangga : “a picture is worth a thousand words”

    Love is worth 13.7 billion pictures ( not 12 billion, not 15 billion, but 13.7 bi)

  • Interested

    Mike Schuler: “Darwin’s evolution explains the existence of life the same way Ptolemy explains the apparent retrograde motions of the planets. Your claim that a mutation fusing 2 chromosomes into 1 need only happen once, doesn’t hold water. If a human/ape ancestor gestated an offspring with a normal 24 chromosome arrangement on one side, and a mutated 23 chromosome arrangement on the other side, that organism would suffer from a monosomy condition and would not likely live long enough to be born, much less reproduce and start a new species. Cells have a hard time surviving with monosomy conditions. We know this because of what we observe in reality. Monosomy conditions do not cause new species to arise.”

    Mike,

    Are you saying that if an animal with 24 pairs is mated with another with 23 pairs, that monosomy results and the offspring cannot survive. Is this your case for the point that since apes have 24 pairs and humans 23 pairs, that, apes and humans could not have the common ancestor, and thus, man cannot have evolved from some other animal but is a special creation ?

    Andyo: “By the way, if you’re really interested in learning how the chromosome non-problem is solved, you’d read this carefully. And then this. Whatever your feelings for/against (I’m betting on “against”) PZ Myers are, he does know his biology. If we dirty “atheists” don’t have a problem, or even admire (like me), Ken Miller when he talks science, then you shouldn’t have a problem with PZ when he does as well.”

    Andyo,

    Are you saying that common ancestor could have 23 pairs, and from there descended humans with 23 pairs, and by value neutral error in copying, a descendant could have 24 pairs (like say the apes)? Is this your case for the point that, number of chromosomes do not matter, as there can be duplication or deduction of numbers and biotic animal evolution continues, and thus, evolution is proved, and that man evolved from some other earlier animals, whatever that be, whether 23 pairs or 20 pairs or 24 pairs, so that accordingly to reach our 23 pairs, there would be no change, increase of 3 pairs, reduction of 1 pair?

    Quote – [Destiny of Life and Religious Attitudes, 2005, in Life as We Know It, ed. J. Seckbach (Dordrecht: Springer Science 2005) ] Father Coyne sj -

    “…We certainly do not have the scientific knowledge to say how each living creature came to be in detail. We do not know precisely how each more complex chemical system came to contribute to the process of self organization which brought about the diversity of life forms as we know them today. Most importantly, we do not know with scientific accuracy the sufficient elements in nature to have brought about the unbroken genealogical continuity in evolution that we propose actually happened. There are, in brief, epistemological gaps which prevent natural science from saying that a detailed theory of biotic evolution has been proven. What we have presented is the most adequate account conceivable at this time considering the available empirical data. And that empirical data, with respect to biotic evolution, comes from various independent scientific enterprises, including molecular biology, paleontology and comparative anatomy……

    On 1/30/2006 http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=18504 Father Coyne sj said

    ” Nonetheless, in 1996 in a message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Pope John Paul II declared that: “New scientific knowledge has led us to the conclusion that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis.” The new scientific knowledge has also led to what is now called neo-Darwinian evolution, for the most part in continuity with Darwin but obviously progressing beyond his science.

    The most recent episode in the relationship of the Catholic Church to science, a tragic one as I see it, is the affirmation by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in his article in the New York Times, 7 July 2005, that neo-Darwinian evolution is not compatible with Catholic doctrine and he opts for Intelligent Design. To my estimation, the cardinal is in error on at least five fundamental issues, among others: (1) the scientific theory of evolution, as all scientific theories, is completely neutral with respect to religious thinking; (2) the message of John Paul II, which I have just referred to and which is dismissed by the cardinal as “rather vague and unimportant,” is a fundamental church teaching which significantly advances the evolution debate; (3) neo-Darwinian evolution is not in the words of the cardinal: “an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection;” (4) the apparent directionality seen by science in the evolutionary process does not require a designer; (5) Intelligent Design is not science despite the cardinal’s statement that “neo-Darwinism and the multi-verse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science. “

  • Mike Schuler

    Mike,

    Are you saying that if an animal with 24 pairs is mated with another with 23 pairs, that monosomy results and the offspring cannot survive. Is this your case for the point that since apes have 24 pairs and humans 23 pairs, that, apes and humans could not have the common ancestor, and thus, man cannot have evolved from some other animal but is a special creation ?

    No! Interested. You miss the point completely. According to Darwin’s theory of evolution, all life on Earth evolved from a common ancestor. That means that Apes, and Chimpanzees (assumed to be the closest biological relative of Humans) have a common ancestor with the Human Race (that means you and me).

    Apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. If Apes and Humans have a common ancestor as Darwin’s theory holds, we now have a mathematical problem. How do you get from 24 pairs of chromosomes to 23 pairs of chromosomes over a long, gradual, period of time? You either have 24, or you have 23. Which is it? 24 or 23?

    Darwin knew that organisms passed on their heriditary traits to their offspring. He just didn’t know how that was accomplished (mechanically). His only goal was to try to debunk religion. He didn’t know about chromosomes or genes, or the fact that traits are passed on with “software.” That is, information stored on an infromation storage device (i.e. the chromosome).

    If it is true that us Humans (with 23 pairs of chromosomes) are a species that evolved from a common ancester of Humans and the Great Apes (Gorillas, Chimpanzees, etc. with 24 pairs of chormosomes) it had to happen all at once, and it had to happen at least twice and at the same time.

    You can’t ditch arithmetic. I’m sorry, but you can’t stand there and claim to be a scientist at the same time as you are scooting things under the rug with your foot.

    117 Kevembuangga on Oct 16th, 2008 at 11:07 am
    Oooooh! THAT’s an “explanation”!

    Oooooh! You knocked down your own straw man. I’ll repeat:

    You cannot rule out the possibility that the Universe is a creation made by an unknown intelligence of some kind,… because you just don’t know, and you just don’t have any evidence otherwise.

    That was a “statement.” It was not an “explanation.”

    Oooooh! THAT’s an “explanation”!
    But…
    Where did the “unknown intelligence of some kind” came from?

    WTF? Where did the Universe come from? I hope I’m not sitting here debating with dumbass college kids that never had a job.

    Oh sh*t. Maybe I am debating with dumbasses that never had a job. That seems like a more logical explanation for this thread, considering the fact that I’m one of the few people on this site that can use their real name.

  • andyo

    Well, Mike since you clearly don’t even want to accept the possibility that you’re wrong, and are just saying the same things over and over again I’ll probably just leave it at that. You have been provided with an explanation which came from both PREDICTION and EVIDENCE. Either you still don’t understand it, or you don’t want to understand it. God has stopped you from further knowledge. What’s next, the complexity of the eye? The bacterial flagellum?

    The conclusion is not a matter of simple arithmetic, because your premise is wrong. It did NOT have to happen twice at the same time. Read the link. Watch Ken Miller’s video. There you go, from a staunch atheist to a staunch theist, both get the science the same.

    You remind me of what happened with Behe at the Dover trial. He kept on insisting on the eye, the flagellum and other “irreducible complexity” examples, despite biologists demonstrating and explaining each of those things are pretty reducible after all. Even when presented with mounts of papers and books explaining exactly what he claimed was unexplainable, and admitting he’d not read them, he still kept insisting on the same things over and over. That’s how god gets you to stop asking, hopefully you’ll see it.

  • andyo

    Interested,

    You’d find the explanation given by PZ Myers in both links I provided before answer exactly your question. By the way, it is not just “what I’m saying”, it is an explanation that was both predicted, and when tested, evidence was provided. The links also have links to the papers, I think. Also, you might wanna check out the video of Ken Miller explaining these things I also linked above.

    And about father Coyne, I really don’t see what’s the big deal with what he’s saying. It is nothing but (I’m sorry, you seem to be a fan) poor philosophical ramblings of a priest. Let me ask you this, if the catholic church didn’t accept evolution, would you? What credibility exactly does the catholic church have over any layperson on matters of knowledge of the universe (hint: none), let alone a scientist?

  • Mike Schuler

    *Re-reads the thread and shakes his head in wonderment*

    “Where did the “unknown intelligence of some kind” came from?”

    If we knew where it came from, it wouldn’t be an “unknown intelligence of some kind.”

    Seriously. You atheists are going to have to come up with some better stuff.

  • Kevembuangga

    If we knew where it came from, it wouldn’t be an “unknown intelligence of some kind.”

    Excerpt from the virtus dormitiva link that you obviously didn’t bother to read:

    from the 1673 Moliére play Le Malade Imaginaire (The Hypochondriac), wherein a doctor explains that opium is a soporific “quiat est in eo / virtus dormitiva / cujus est natura / sensus assoupire” (“because there is a dormitive virtue in it whose nature is to cause the senses to become drowsy”). Explanations along these lines answer questions truthfully but vacuously.

    Thus, “unknown intelligence of some kind” is neither a “statement” nor an “explanation”, just empty blather devoid of any meaning.

  • Mike Schuler

    Okay,… now I know that you’re just pulling my leg: “Thus, “unknown intelligence of some kind” is neither a “statement” nor an “explanation”, just empty blather devoid of any meaning.

    “unknown intelligence of some kind”= Five simple words.

    Excerpt from the virtus dormitiva link that you obviously didn’t bother to read:

    from the 1673 Moliére play Le Malade Imaginaire (The Hypochondriac), wherein a doctor explains that opium is a soporific “quiat est in eo / virtus dormitiva / cujus est natura / sensus assoupire” (“because there is a dormitive virtue in it whose nature is to cause the senses to become drowsy”). Explanations along these lines answer questions truthfully but vacuously. = “just empty blather devoid of any meaning.

  • andyo

    Andy it seems that you ID people are experts at avoiding direct, simple, honest discussion. At least other theists are honest enough to propose ludicrous claims and stand by them openly with the “faith” excuse. You cannot even do that.

  • andyo

    Of course I meant, “and”, not “Andy”. (That’s me!)

  • Mike Schuler

    “Andy it seems that you ID people are experts at avoiding direct, simple, honest discussion.”

    I don’t know who or what the heck you mean by “you ID people,” but, are you reading what you are writing?

    “…avoiding direct, simple, honest discussion.”

    Your discussion has been anything but direct, simple, and honest. Explain again how one instance of a genetic mutation results in a new branch-off species with a different number chromosomes from the original species.

  • Interested

    Mike: Apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. If Apes and Humans have a common ancestor as Darwin’s theory holds, we now have a mathematical problem. How do you get from 24 pairs of chromosomes to 23 pairs of chromosomes over a long, gradual, period of time? You either have 24, or you have 23. Which is it? 24 or 23?

    I am trying to understand what or where is the mathematical problem. Is it,

    a) Common ancestor has 24 pairs and over time apes remain at 24 pairs while humans reduce to 23 pairs?

    b) Common ancestor has 23 pairs and over time, apes increase to 24 pairs while humans remain at 23 pairs?

    Is it a mathematical problem to have scenario (a) or (b). Please explain to me what and where the problem is. And also why you call it a mathematical problem.

    Mike: If it is true that us Humans (with 23 pairs of chromosomes) are a species that evolved from a common ancester of Humans and the Great Apes (Gorillas, Chimpanzees, etc. with 24 pairs of chormosomes) it had to happen all at once, and it had to happen at least twice and at the same time.

    Under what scenario(s) do you envisage that “it had to happen all at once, and it had to happen at least twice and at the same time.”

    Mike: You can’t ditch arithmetic. I’m sorry, but you can’t stand there and claim to be a scientist at the same time as you are scooting things under the rug with your foot.

    I do not understand why it is an arithmetic problem, and I never claim to be a scientist. I am trying to understand what is the point of contention between you and Andyo on this issue. The discussion between both of you fly over my head and so I read your points and try to paraphrase them back to you to see if it is correctly paraphrased. With Andyo, he seems to think I did paraphrase it correctly ( of course he is at liberty to tell me otherwise if I have read his comment wrongly). With you it seems I fell way off the mark, and this is my further attempt to understand your point of view. Thank you for your patience to try to explain to me your point of view.

  • andyo

    Mike, did you even read the links? It is explained right there. What exactly and specifically do you find there that doesn’t answer this “problem”? Yet you are still claiming the same thing. You are clearly an Intelligent Design believer. You can’t even accept that? Man up and tell us what you really think.

  • Kevembuangga

    Oh sh*t. Maybe I am debating with dumbasses that never had a job.

    Not the good explanation, as for myself I am 61, retired and have an IQ of about 135 (been at Mensa).

    It rather think this is the just the opposite reason, from a Cornell Study from 1999 called “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”.

    It’s a depressing study, with depressing findings:

    - People tend to overestimate their own smarts.
    - Stupid people tend to overestimate their smarts more than the truly smart do.
    - Smart people tend to assume that everyone else is as smart as they are; they honestly can’t understand why dumber people just don’t “get it”, because it doesn’t occur to them that those people actually are dumb.
    - Stupid people, in contrast, tend to not only regard themselves as smarter than everyone else, they tend to regard truly smart people as especially stupid. This holds true even when these people are shown empirical proof that they are less competent than those they deride.

    This is an excerpt of God Is In The Wattles, please ignore the political arguments irrelevant to the discussion here, I only mean to refer to this about religiosity v/s stupidity.

  • Kevembuangga

    Love is worth 13.7 billion pictures ( not 12 billion, not 15 billion, but 13.7 bi)

    Sounds more like a Mormon saying than a Buddhist one (all people ever born on earth?)

    Good point anyway!

    Love of whom for whom?
    Love is a social emotion between people and even more specifically between people who share some form of group bonding, kinship, tribalism, nationalism, all *isms which appeal to union “against the enemy”.
    Not only “love” isn’t always beneficial to the lovers nor the loved but it is always perverted by religions which appeal to “Love for God” or “Love from God” or even saints and gurus, pilgrimages and darshans.
    This is emotional masturbation, i.e. eliciting an emotional response outside of proper context, just as ridiculous as fetishists who cum when handling a woman shoe.

  • andyo

    Interested,

    Again, these two links will answer exactly your questions.

    Read the links, but I’ll quote here the part that goes right to your concerns (from the second link):

    In Miller’s testimony, he talked about a basic fact of biology: most apes have 24 pairs chromosomes for a total of 48, while we have 23, for a total of 46. We are familiar with the fact that errors in chromosome number, called aneuploidies, within the human species are devastating and have dramatic effects; the most familiar aneuploidy is Down syndrome, but there are others, which all lead to very short lifespans and extremely disabling phenotypes. Most aneuploidies are embryonically lethal and lead to spontaneous abortions. If evolution is valid, we should be able to see how that occurred historically, in a way that requires no mysterious interventions and only natural, observable mechanisms. Miller summarized it quite well.

    Now, there’s no possibility that that common ancestry which would have had 48 chromosomes because the other three species have 48, there’s no possibility the chromosome could have just got lost or thrown away. Chromosome has so much genetic information on it that the loss of a whole chromosome would probably be fatal. So that’s not a hypothesis.

    Therefore, evolution makes a testable prediction, and that is, somewhere in the human genome we’ve got to be able to find a human chromosome that actually shows the point at which two of these common ancestors were pasted together. We ought to be able to find a piece of Scotch tape holding together two chromosomes so that our 24 pairs — one of them was pasted together to form just 23. And if we can’t find that, then the hypothesis of common ancestry is wrong and evolution is mistaken.

    The answer is, of course, that the evolutionary prediction holds true: we do find the homologs of two genes fused together in our chromosome 2. We have the human and chimpanzee sequences, and we can see the same genes in our chromosome 2 that are found on two other chimpanzee chromosomes; we can see the structure of two centromeres in our one chromosome, and also the relics of telomeres (normally at the ends of chromosomes) imbedded in the middle. It is an open-and-shut case.

    Read the whole thing, it also answers the ID proponents “problems” with evolution. The first link goes into number of chromosomes vary between species.

    By the way, if humans are special for having 23 chromosomes, while the other apes have 24, then we are not so special after all, since many other species which have a different number of chromosomes than its cousins would also be special. And what makes “23″ so special after all? The Jim Carrey movie?

  • Interested

    Kevembuangga – “Not the good explanation, as for myself I am 61, retired and have an IQ of about 135 (been at Mensa).”

    I never sat for MENSA and if I did, might probably score just average. Retired, that gives you lot of time. Regarding your picture, would you consider reading a book I have never read but been referred to “The Golden Bough”. I think it deals with myths of the world from ancient times to ? but it seems to be from all over the world.

    I guess you see yourself as Plato’s “Guardians of society”, and thus you keep this watchful eye over the debate and you want it to bear fruit in the direction you have traversed. You might want to ask yourself how many people can read “Folk psychology even with a good dose of “holy” make up give rise to disastrous opinions and decisions, see the conundrums exposed in Breakdown of Will (more details in the précis).” I saw one look at it and said silently to myself, “That’s heavy … too much for my mind. I do not wish to read and absorb or try to fathom that out”. You might want to revisit Plato and see what he expects of his guardians.

    Personally, I traversed a tough road to understand my own meaning, and still work in progress and realize how precious that commodity is, and how faith and modern world can bring challenges that seem un-surmountable. I am 12 years your junior. That still makes me 1 shy of half a century.

    As a society that started with early Christian settlers and their independent streak of reading the Bible on their own, than taught to them by the Catholic priests, the continued trend of that independence and seeking God on their own, marches on. Thus the across the nation, school boards debate and attempt to change the curriculum to include vestiges of ID. The sheer numbers and the mode of faith, requires a sensible and rational mode of converging faith and science in a way that respects both disciplines, for while there are those who swing to science and jettison faith, there are also those who seek to preserve both, and the mode of achieving that has to be mapped out, not the ID mode, but some mode.

    What this mode is, is what this debate is all about. That is the common ground of this thread. To do that, one has to understand what exactly is this ID mode, and why ID mode is not science mode while recognizing ID adherents’ faith, for onto that is pegged their meaning of life.

    As it is ( or appears to be) your meaning to devote your retirement years to serve as Plato’s Guardian, unpaid, save that, you know this will pave the way for the better future you see possible, for each and many and the nation, it is also the meaning of others to live out the commitment to their faith.

    I once read M Scott Peck who illustrated that Christian faith is surrender, a heart approach. I think that makes sense, that those who do invite and accept God to their life, open a new window and live in those grounds. For those of us who have not opened that window and lived in those grounds, but as spectators, how can we understand what is the commitment and meaning, for we can only understand our commitment and own self designated meaning.

  • Dave

    Like Riemann math’s 10 or 11 dimensions (i only refer to it’s mention in the book by Kaku, not my own understanding of it!) faith, humanly speaking, exists in a separate dimension from scientific inquiry/knowledge. References in the Bible which may or may not be construed to apply to accepted science should be treated carefully. Lack of this realization is what causes stupid things like the book in a Sunday school library promoting the idea that T-Rex lived in the Garden with Adam, Eve, and the Man Upstairs and ate fruit. I actually saw that, it is not a figment!
    UGH! bad pun not previously noticed!
    That said, here’s mine. The disclaimer/spoiler is that I am passionate about both the present state of “wood and marble” as it is propagated on Science Channel and blogs, etc, and my faith which I totally recognize as foundational to my views. What I find delicious is that the two, to me, agree(!)
    I would only say two things to explain:
    1. Christians believe fairly well, but don’t perceive well very often at all. They tend to ASS/U/ME so many things based on biblical ref’s that aren’t really said in the bible,or even by the verses they quote. IOW, they are right about There is a GOD and He loves me, but wrong in nearly every other thing they say.
    2. OK, it’s a Bible verse, read it:

    The meaning I refer to is calling things that didn’t exist into being. By the act of calling things; that is how the creation came into being. To me, this plainly is the big bang. I don’t even think I’m being simplistic. I just think it is elegant, both on the science side, and on the spiritual side. YMMV, dudes and dudettes.

  • Dave

    Missed plugging in the verse:

    As it is written, “I have appointed you a father of many nations” in the sight of God whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls the things not being as being.
    Romans 6:4

  • Malcolm

    I always like it when people make the old “life is too statistically unlikely” argument. It tells you straight away that they have absolutely no clue about probabilities and how they work.
    Ross even provides numbers. Without even bothering to look at whether they make sense, or were just pulled out of a bodily orifice, victory can be immediately declared.
    If life has a non-zero probability, no matter how small that probability may be, the probability of life occurring at some point somewhere in the universe is 1.

  • Interested

    Andyo, “Again, these two links will answer exactly your questions.”

    1) It is one link, the one you had furnished and I have glanced through and attempted a paraphrase. Based on the paraphrase and understanding gathered then, I have on Friday sent an email to a Catholic Jesuit priest astrophysicist, as below.

    2) On Fri, 17 Oct 2008, I sent an email out -

    Can you ask someone to help answer this question, what is the position of
    Science on the chromosome count of the common ancestor, and how scientifically ( process) one descendant the apes have 24 pairs and the other man has 23 pairs.

    Is there any evidence that the common ancestor had 24 pairs, with the
    number stepping down for man, and remaining the same for apes? Or is it the common ancestor had 23 pairs and man’s remained the same while ape’s increased by 1 pair.

    Or is it, it was 20 pairs for common ancestor and man had 3 more pairs
    while apes had 4 more pairs.

    Is the state of science, on this question, at theory level or is there
    evidence for it?

    What is the current magisterium’s view on it?

    What is the current scientific view on it?

    What is the current scientific view on it among clergical scientists?

    Thanks.
    Sincerely,

    __________________________________________________________

    3) Today I am pleased to have a response as such-

    This is just to confirm that I have received your
    interesting questions and am pursuing a local (to Tucson) expert to
    answer you. You might receive this directly rather than via me, since
    he has your original message.

    Kind regards,
    Chris Corbally S.J.

  • Interested

    This is the reply I obtained on Monday Oct 24th evening. This is the best I can do. Father Corbally can be reached at http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/vo/R1024/CCorbally.html Father Stoeger can be reached at http://clavius.as.arizona.edu/vo/R1024/WStoeger.html

    Dear Bella,

    Your inquiry about the ape and human chromosome number was kindly forwarded to me by Dr. Lindell (via Dr. Stoeger and Father Corbally).

    Specifically, you asked if the common ancestor of apes and humans had 23 or 24 pairs of chromosomes–a very reasonable scientific question. It is generally
    accepted among geneticists that the human count of 23 is the result of the
    fusion of two ape medium-sized chromosomes to form our chromosome number 2–the second biggest of our chromosomes. All the great apes (chimps, orangs, gorillas) have 24 pairs, suggesting by rule of parsimony that we humans are the exception in having a reduced number (rather than all the apes having gained a chromosome). This conclusion is consistent with detailed study of the banding patterns of the respective ape chromosomes that are preserved on the fused human chromosome. Lastly, scientists are agreed that humans and chimpanzees last shared a common ancestor 6-8 million years ago, so the chromosomal fusion happened sometime after the separation of the human lineage from the common ancestor.

    I hope this is of help to you.

    Best regards,

    Dieter

    H. Dieter Steklis, Ph.D.
    Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
    and Adjunct Professor of Psychology
    The University of Arizona South

    and

    Professor Emeritus of Primatology
    Rutgers University
    The State University of New Jersey

  • andyo

    Interested,

    It is pretty much the same of what the link I provided said.

    What bothers me is that you’re not only going to religious “authority” for your science information. What bothers me further is that you are also going to these religious “authorities” to confirm or reject information coming from scientists.

    As you can see here, they at least were honest enough to forward your question to a (presumably) scientist.

    You don’t need the acceptance of your religious “authorities” to get information about the world. If it’s about biology, ask a biologist directly. If you’re not satisfied, ask another one. If you see opposing conflicting views, ask again. Ask a third one. Think for yourself. Consider the evidence and arguments presented by them. Religious “authorities” have no more authority in matters of real world knowledge than any other layman, including you and me.

    You’re lucky that for catholics evolution is not a problem. That’s why they could give you a rather straight, non-controversial answer. The only ones raising “problems” with chromosome numbers (and the eye, and the bacterial flagellum) are Intelligent Design Creationists, of the school of Michael Behe and Dembski. But what if you asked about homosexuality, for example? They probably (in my experience, I don’t pretend to assume the honesty of your acquaintances) wouldn’t have been as straightforward with their answer.

  • Zodia

    I am too late already for this discussion, but I do have something for you Sean…

    “And it is We Who have constructed the heaven with might, and it is We Who are expanding it.”[Qur'an 51:47].

    Is this Hubble’s law at action?

    P.S. (In case you doubt it, find someone who understands Arabic, ask him to look this phrase up in the Qur’an and have it translated literally for you. The clarity of the statement is shocking)

  • andyo

    By the way, Interested, I just caught this,

    1) It is one link, the one you had furnished and I have glanced through and attempted a paraphrase.

    There were two links (one under “two” and one under “links”). Go up and read them, it’s not a very hard read, and it’s very interesting, at least for someone asking the kinds of questions you asked.

  • Benny

    “And it is We Who have constructed the heaven with might, and it is We Who are expanding it.”[Qur'an 51:47].

    Is this Hubble’s law at action?

    I love random quotes taken out of context, so here is some of me doing so.
    Note that these are Qu´ran 51:47 (or 51:46, seems theres some uncertainty).

    “With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of [s]pace.”
    - http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Holy_Qur%27an/Adh-Dhariyat

    -”We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof)”
    - http://quranexplorer.com/quran/

    -”With power and skill did We construct the Firmament: for it is We Who create the vastness of [s]pace.”
    - http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/QURAN/51.htm

    So we have a very old text which may or may not be translated into something which corresponds with a law of physics which has not been know at the time that book was written and a brain excelling at finding patterns even where they do not exist.

  • Mike Schuler

    Andyo, I did read your links. They are not “answers” as you claim. They are just arguments, and very flawed arguments at that because they require enormous leaps of faith. The following is quoted from my own post #94, so that you can see that your so-called answer links are not new arguments to me.

    There have been some new discoveries since the time of Darwin. How does Darwin do away with the problem that apes have 24 chromosome pairs and humans only have 23? According to Darwin, apes and humans have a common ancestor. Presumably, this ancestor had 24 chromosome pairs. Darwin couldn’t look at chromosomes, but we can, and we find that the ape’s 9th and 14th chromosome pairs, if joined together and reversed like a palindrome, look just like the human 12th chromosome.
    So here we have evidence of one species begatting another. Darwin says that genetic mutations are random, with detrimental ones dying off and beneficial mutations being passed along.

    My argument is that this beneficial fusion of two chromosomes into one would have to occur twice at the same time, in two separate offspring, one male and one female, and that these two offspring would have to form a mating pair, and be the individual first members of a new species line running the new chromosome configuration.

    Andyo’s argument is that the actual deformation of the chromosome need only happen once, and then will eventually spread through succeeding generations until it meets up with itself and begins the new species from multiple points of origination. I find this argument flawed because in every case where there is chromosome malformation in only one side of the pair, there is always a devastating if not fatal syndrome of some sort accompanying it. That is what we observe. We have never observed a new species arising from another over a long, slow, gradual period of time. From PZ Meyers:

    Let’s clear up a few irrelevant misconceptions first. Life probably started with no chromosomes — early replicators would have been grab bags of metabolites, proteins, and RNA that would have simply sloppily split in two, with no real sorting. DNA and chromosomes evolved as accounting and archiving tools…

    Life probably started with no chromosomes? That is one incredible leap of faith that I just can’t make. The oldest fossils of living things are 3 billion year old blue-green algae. Blue-green algae is still around today, and it has chromosomes. There is absolutely no evidence of any kind that shows that life could be possible without chromosomes. Meyers call this an “irrelevant misconception?” The idea that life requires chromosomes is a misconception? I don’t think so. The true fact of the matter is, chromosomes are so essential to life, that life just could not possibly begin or exist without them.

    The Darwinian evolutionist (i.e. atheist) has to make this ‘leap of faith’ and many others in order to maintain the illusion that life could spontaneously begin and develop into the vast diversity that we see today, all guided by nothing other than blind random, accidental chance. I find that a lot harder to believe than simply not ruling out as a scientific principle, the idea that the Universe was created for the purpose of supporting life. There is no evidence that rules out the possibility, but what we now know about chromosomes essentially disproves the Darwinian theory as to the full cause for how life originated.

    Arbitrarily ruling out the possibility that the Universe is a creation, is exactly the same as arbitrarily ruling out the possibility that the Earth is not a stationary object. When Aristotle and Ptolemy ruled out the possibility of a moving Earth, they blinded mankind and mainstream science for over 1,800 years. When you stubbornly refuse to look at the obvious evidence against Darwin, you are doing the same thing as Tycho Brahe when he tried to prove Ptolemy correct in the face of observable evidence in support of the Heliocentric model.

    Arguments making claims such that a creator is unnecessary all require enormous leaps of faith. The theory of infinite parallel universes to explain life still has the same problem as a one universe reality. How did this Universe begin? How did the infinite number of parallel universes begin? I have to mention here, that there is absolutely no evidence of any parallel universes, and belief is such would be more absurd than not ruling out the possibility of a creator when there is observable evidence to suggest that we might be a creation.

  • Kevembuangga

    They are not “answers” as you claim. etc, etc…

    This is the same silly argument for every point about “scientific” proofs for ID or God’s hand:
    “We are too stupid to figure out how it can be therefore God is at work”
    We know that you are too stupid, nothing new here, not having the “perfect” explanation at hand doesn’t mean that there could not be one.
    For a paleolithic or even medieval man a mobile phone would be God’s work too or may be the Devil’s?

  • Kevembuangga

    To compensate for the poor value of arguing with religious numbskulls I suggest having a look at some sensible conversation between intelligent people on Religion v/s Science The distinction is between the universe and our interpretation of the universe. (though it is in the context of a seemingly unrelated topic)

  • Mike Schuler

    For one thing, I have never mentioned religion other than to say that I don’t believe in it, so calling me a “religious numbskull” is rather idiotic. Knocking religion is a classic, (and at this point), juvenile example of the straw man argument.

    Not ruling out the possibility of a creator, especially when there is utterly no logical reason to rule it out, is not the same thing as throwing your hands up and giving up the search for the truth. It also has absolutely nothing to do with, in any way, shape, or form, religion or religious beliefs.

    Your last two posts are prime examples of how false beliefs distort the perceptions. Aristotle’s and Ptolemy’s belief in a stationary Earth caused them to believe in things that are easily disproved. Your belief in atheism does the same thing. Your false belief distorts your reality so badly that you don’t even recognize that atheism is a belief, and you will attempt to argue the opposite.

    Darwin didn’t know about chromosomes. The only thing that can create chromosomes are chromosomes. Now that we can map the actual numeric code on the gene sequences, it’s pretty difficult to try to claim that the first chromosome came into existence through random chance. So instead of searching all directions for a solution, the atheist/Darwinist has to make up an utterly unbelievable story about life originally not having chromosomes, and that chromosomes evolved. Even if it was possible for there to be life capable of reproducing without chromosomes, how did that first cell begin? Next you’ll say that the first life didn’t have a cell, and that cells evolved.

    The fossil record has completely failed to show any transitional forms or small gradual changes over a long period of time. The atheist/Darwinist has to cover this by patching together the idea of “punctuated equilibrium” which seems to say that Darwin doesn’t exactly work.

    Not having the “perfect” explanation at hand does not mean that you have to stick to beliefs that just couldn’t possibly be true. The only reason you refuse to question Darwin is because it would violate your own religious beliefs in atheism.

  • Kevembuangga

    Not ruling out the possibility of a creator, especially when there is utterly no logical reason to rule it out

    Yes there is: zero plausibility, let’s otherwise check for the “existence” of the tooth fairy, or if the hidden side of the moon is made of green cheese, why not?
    And how does this statement of yours squares with your previous one: I have never mentioned religion other than to say that I don’t believe in it?
    It also seem that you failed to grasp my previous criticism that the existence of a God isn’t an “explanation” for anything: where does God came from then?

    it’s pretty difficult to try to claim that the first chromosome came into existence through random chance.

    Another thing you failed to grasp (and probably didn’t even try to understand), I provided a detailed explanation of complexity buildup by iterated function systems without any plan or purpose and provided relevant links.

    The only reason you refuse to question Darwin

    Actually I don’t give a shit about Darwin, he provides only a tiny piece of the puzzle and he is obsolete with respect to recent developments of biology.
    Anyway I don’t need Darwin to reject schizophrenic mythologies.

    prime examples of how false beliefs … Your belief in atheism … you don’t even recognize that atheism is a belief … your own religious beliefs in atheism, etc….

    Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s an absence of belief in anything but everyday evidence that there are “various things” out there in front of our eyes, nothing more.
    And then you wonder that I call you a numbskull?

  • Interested

    Andyo : “What bothers me is that you’re not only going to religious “authority” for your science information. What bothers me further is that you are also going to these religious “authorities” to confirm or reject information coming from scientists.”

    Well I am not a scientist and do not have the time to check with various scientists and then figure it out. Just 2 days ago, I bought a second hand book “The Real Book about STARS” by Hal Goodwin illustrated by Paul Wenck, a clear simple introduction to the skies with many illustrations and charts. 1951 Garden City Books. I read the 170 pages and marked in many places in the book. For example, at page 29- I drew in the margin, the Empire State Building and on top right side, placed a dot, and I gathered that our galaxy is the building and the ant/dot, is our solar system. This way I can put it in my head an image of what difference in size the solar system is to our galaxy, within which our solar system is situated. This book is a book club probably for junior high school boys but they suffice for me. Its 1951 and much would have been known and the book could be obselete, but I learnt when Jupiter was discovered and how and which came next. That gives me mental pleasure. I am no where near the intellectual brilliance of Kevembuangga nor the commitment to scientific excellence of andyo, nor the single mindedness of Mike Schuler to reason God’s existence in life through science and thus secure a framework for life and reason for living and purpose of his existence.

    If as I know the Jesuit scientists will give me a scientific answer, and since the questions stem from issues related to God, I know they will favor me with a reply. They may also be keen to have the opportunity to have this question sorted out, even if not astrophysics, because of their commitment to discipline of science as well as to God. I like them, and is it not human, and ordinary when we have questions, we ask our friends, even if others think they are not experts, because we trust them.

    How much information do we need, that is necessary? We cherry pick. I enjoyed learning that Saturn (named after Greek god, is father of Jupiter). At the top of page 95, I wrote down Saturn (Father) / Cronos = Time —> Jupiter / Jove/ Zeus .

    Sure, I could have written back to the Prof and mentioned that, if the 2 pairs of chromosomes of our common ancestor of man and ape, fused and became one pair, so that, we have man, born of the common ancestor parents, with 23 pairs, and if this event occurred once, we have either a male or female offspring, with 23 pairs, and for this progeny to reproduce, it needs another mate with 23 pairs ( presumably) so as to create a line of descendants. On the other hand, it might be that such occurrences of common ancestors mating and reproducing off springs with 23 pairs had become a common feature, so that there are plenty of 23 pairs male and females so that they can freely mate and reproduce the tree of man with 23 pairs. Out of concern for the sensitivity of the question posed, and the way they have chosen to refer to a scientist in the field, I just wrote back a nice thank you and I have learnt a lot. I am sure they would behind doors, discuss this and see how they bring this across to the flock through the proper channels. That is their task. We have just given them a head start. They in the know would like such reform, for then hinges survival in the long term. But for me, suffice to read and remember a bit that Jupiter is coated with ice and colder than ice. 200 degrees below zero. Then I pause is this celcius or fahrenheit.

    So I am not in the big league in pursuit of science. Thus I am happy to accept the Jesuits confirmation of the answer than accept your link, andyo. Maybe if I had pursued a science career when young I might think differently.

    I know it sounds bad as you rightly pointed out to me, hoping I would improve, “What bothers me is that you’re not only going to religious “authority” for your science information. What bothers me further is that you are also going to these religious “authorities” to confirm or reject information coming from scientists.” # I appreciate your urging me to excellence, andyo, but this brain does not want to run marathon nor need to. It likes movies of stars in skies, and an ant perched on Empire State Building.

  • Interested

    Kevembuangga – “Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s an absence of belief in anything but everyday evidence that there are “various things” out there in front of our eyes, nothing more.
    And then you wonder that I call you a numbskull?”

    I think atheism is a belief. I just found out this year and last year there are some particles that pop out and are seen and then disappear and are not seen. It is as if they have moved through the sliding door to another world another reality another dimension. So there are things in front of our eyes and then not in front of our eyes. Further if some ancient thinkers think the world is an illusion, and retreat into religion, and pursue a path of meditation to penetrate the illusion, and see the real reality, then if they did succeed, and if they did see real reality, then what is our reality we see? Two realities, real realities and realities of the world. So your belief that the realities of the world is the only and sole reality is then a belief just as there belief that there are two realities.

  • Interested

    andyo- “There were two links (one under “two” and one under “links”). Go up and read them, it’s not a very hard read, and it’s very interesting, at least for someone asking the kinds of questions you asked.”

    Yes after I had punched the hit button, I realised you hid one link under one word, and there being two words, there were two links.
    I like to be excused from such extensive reading. I like to re read my star book and make notes like page 36- Copernicus liked the stars in the skies and he studied at the good universities of his time and became prof in 1499. After teaching earth was center of the universe for a few years, he realised it was wrong and resigned and became a priest and studied more for 30 years and then published his work that earth was not, and a few days later he died. What started him on the new track, was reading the work of ancient Greek scientists like Pythagoras. He also devised a new money system for his government. He found out the exact length of the year short of less than a minute.

  • Kevembuangga

    I think atheism is a belief.

    Are you also “thinking” that your thinking is an argument?
    LOL

    I just found out this year and last year there are some particles that pop out and are seen and then disappear and are not seen.

    Yeah, yeah, I had that happening to me too when I was drunk…

    Further if some ancient thinkers think the world is an illusion, and retreat into religion, and pursue a path of meditation to penetrate the illusion, and see the real reality, then if they did succeed, and if they did see real reality, then what is our reality we see?

    if, if, if, three strikes and you’re out!
    “our reality we see” is the one EVERYBODY sees (when not drunk or otherwise deranged) and this is the main property of “this” reality, that it can be shared and agreed upon.
    NONE of the so-called separate or different realities allows that, thus they are much more probably schizophrenic fantasies since they are NOT able to interact with everyday reality either.
    There are NO RELIABLY WITNESSED MIRACLES and where there have seem to be some they were later debunked as natural phenomenon or fabrications (ever heard of James Randi?)

    So your belief that the realities of the world is the only and sole reality is then a belief just as there belief that there are two realities.

    I am not at all “believing” in a sole and only reality but I have never seen any other.
    Show me some other and I will “believe”.
    Like evidence that baptizing the dead has any effect other than upsetting another group of morons.

  • Kevembuangga

    Likely due to silly CSS the links don’t show as links. http://exiledonline.com/mormon-baptism-of-the-dead/

  • Interested

    Kevembuangga Says: Show me some other and I will “believe”.

    I cannot show, but I can tell you the way they went about it to ‘see it’. Last time, we engaged on this, I suggested you take 10 days to attend a free meditation course. That will be the tip of the ice berg to the viewing. It is said the likes of the historical Gautama Buddha saw it through such approach. I have not walked the full path so I have to go with the “three strikes IF” but I would support the preservation of such ancient pathway for humanity. By the way it has nothing to do with miracles. It is direct perception of reality, versus conventional reality (realities of the world. Seeing is by the analytical mind, OR the intuitive mind. Discursive thought is use of the former and meditation is use of the latter. To use the latter, one has to for that period temporarily cease use of the analytical mind. I cannot show you that which only your intuitive mind can see for itself (subject to your three strikes IF disclaimer) when in use by yourself.

    me: “I just found out this year and last year there are some particles that pop out and are seen and then disappear and are not seen.”

    you: :”Yeah, yeah, I had that happening to me too when I was drunk…”

    me: That actually was a science observation, if you care to check it out seriously. I have not used the science words as I have forgotten them.

  • Vera

    Most of what is contained in this post is nothing but logical fallacy – appeal to ridicule, ad hominem, and poisoning the well. After that, you left out about 98 more parameters for their to be viable life on this earth. I noticed you aren’t threatened by other speakers but what a knee jerk reaction to Hugh Ross! Why is that? Why do you feel the need to attack him personally and call him a crackpot? I think you know why.

    Your post is as biased as mine is.

    Vera

  • scottb

    Vera wrote: blah, blah, blah… misuse of fallacies… blah, blah… Your post is as biased as mine is.

    You mean that bias against crackpot ideas is a bad thing?

  • Sean Baines

    Wow this Hugh Ross has you really rattled. Not bad going for what you call a cracpot.
    How about if he is right.
    JB

  • Kevembuangga

    Sean Baines
    How about if he is right.

    Sure, How about if the moon is made of green cheese?
    For more see Secular Right.

  • http://mccabism.blogspot.com/ Gordon McCabe

    British journalist Bryan Appleyard has written an article on Darwinian evolution for The Sunday Times which is straight out of the creationist textbook:

    http://mccabism.blogspot.com/2009/01/bryan-appleyard-and-creationism.html

    The article quotes appovingly from creationists, and reprises the familiar creationist arguments that evolution cannot explain the eye, that there aren’t enough genes to explain human complexity, and evolution caused Nazi eugenics and other social ills.

  • Pingback: The Grid of Disputation | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

  • Pingback: Sean Carroll’s Handy Grid - Science and Religion Today

  • Joe Dowdly

    Hugh Ross is exactly right about what he said. The author of this article has refuted 0% of Ross’s assertions. This article is just blather couched in a personal attack.

  • WASP

    Ross makes a perfectly reasonable argument. The problem isn’t that Ross takes an ancient manuscript and shares his attempts to qualify it publicly. The problem is the utter shamelessness with which evolutionists {e.g. those adhering to speciation [red and green algae into dinosaurs; whales into humans; etc...]) callously slam the door shut on their own peers, the many scientists and philosophers who find serious scientific and philosophical problems with the theory. Actively supporting institutional censureship in what is supposed to be a democratic independent media of opinions from some of the world’s leading scientists (as time goes on the list gets longer) in an effort to maintain a political strangehold on all serious inquiry of speciation theory is not scientific nor desirable to the scientific enterprise.

    These evolutionists operate in the 21st century like the Roman Catholic Church did in medieval Europe. I believe if they had the power to conduct formal inquisitions upon the populace to force recantations of non-evolutionary scientific dissent they would take up that “cross” with exactly the same fervor. As it is they are limited to censuring, persecuting, and ruining the careers of your own peers who find a scientific basis to question speciation theory.

    It’s maddening and unacceptable in a free modern society to see this situation but it exists because of people like the author of this article.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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