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Thread: Is atheism dying?

  1. #1 Is atheism dying? 
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    Is atheism a dying non-religion?

    Coming soon to your newstand is the next issue of Newsweek which the following report sums up. The survey is pertenant only to the U.S.

    March 30, 2007 - A belief in God and an identification with an organized religion are widespread throughout the country, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Nine in 10 (91 percent) of American adults say they believe in God and almost as many (87 percent) say they identify with a specific religion. Christians far outnumber members of any other faith in the country, with 82 percent of the poll’s respondents identifying themselves as such. Another 5 percent say they follow a non-Christian faith, such as Judaism or Islam. Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.

    Although one in ten (10 percent) of Americans identify themselves as having "no religion," only six percent said they don’t believe in a God at all. Just 3 percent of the public self-identifies as atheist, suggesting that the term may carry some stigma. Still, the poll suggests that the public’s tolerance of this small minority has increased in recent years. Nearly half (47 percent) of the respondents felt the country is more accepting of atheists today that it used to be and slightly more (49 percent) reported personally knowing an atheist. Those numbers are higher among respondents under 30 years old, 62 percent of whom report knowing an atheist (compared to just 43 percent of those 50 and older). Sixty-one percent of the under-30 cohort view society as more accepting of atheists (compared to 40 percent of the Americans 50 and older).


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    The news did not say whether the number of atheists in the country is increasing or decreasing. It just said that there are a lot of religous people than non-religious one.

    It is also a fact that there are a lot more non-PhD graduates than the PhD graduates in the country.


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    My recollection is that the last poll of this sort which I saw showed only 85 percent of people in the U.S.believing in God and approximately 5 percent claiming to be atheists.

    I agree with your observation concerning those without doctorates outnumbering those with doctorates. Sooooo? With the cost of education today, I am surprized anyone can afford a bachelor's degree.
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    of the 91%, you can easily say that at least two fifth's said they believed, just so they are accepted by their peers.
    and as for atheism dying, well that will only be, if the education levels drop severely. and the american society becomes an idiocracy.
    which with the likes of G W and his gang, it ain't far off now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    The news did not say whether the number of atheists in the country is increasing or decreasing. It just said that there are a lot of religous people than non-religious one.

    It is also a fact that there are a lot more non-PhD graduates than the PhD graduates in the country.
    Great observation.

    The majority also once thought the world was flat.
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    daytonturner wrote:
    My recollection is that the last poll of this sort which I saw showed only 85 percent of people in the U.S.believing in God and approximately 5 percent claiming to be atheists.
    Your recollection is not established as a good reference. It would be better if you can refer to a source. However, if your recollection is correct, the latest news shows that atheists have increased from five percent to six percent. And if you count the non-religion is atheist (a logical assumption), then it is 10 percent. It does not look like a dying breed.
    And let's not forget that while the name of this thread does not indicate any location, we are talking about USA only.

    I agree with your observation concerning those without doctorates outnumbering those with doctorates. Sooooo?
    It is just an indirect way of pointing out that the majority may not be wiser than the minority.
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    Why not just look at the Census figures for 1991 & 2001 -

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religio..._United_States

    The second tables shows the change in religion...

    And at the bottom for completeness, atheism & the agnostics...
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    All those numbers indicate is that the U.S. public on a whole is incredibly stupid, extremely gullible, and overwhelmingly relient on other people to do their thinking for them.

    Oh, and I think geezer is right about people pretending to believe. It's like going to Alabama to do a racism survey and the results show that most of them are not racist. You just know most of them must be lying :wink:.




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    Quote Originally Posted by prasit
    It is also a fact that there are a lot more non-PhD graduates than the PhD graduates in the country.
    You're implying that people who believe in God are generally not as smart as atheists. Let me point out that saying correlation implies causation is a fundamental logical fallacy. There are many reasons people don't get their PhD; that includes, as I believe someone has already pointed out, financial problems. Furthermore, who is to say the majority of PhD graduates are atheist? What if a majority of the atheists fall under the non-PhD group (though I'm not saying this is the case)?
    -----------
    And I don't agree that atheism is dying out. If anything, it's increasing. Many persons who I come across are atheist. In fact, my AP Lit class is full uv 'em. Though I would say that there are way more agnostic people than there are atheists (and some of them identify themselves as atheists, out of pure ignorance).

    EDIT: Yup, sum uv ems folks is lyin'...they ain't no believers...they's lyin'
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    According to US Census data - which I would like to hope is more accurate than a Newsweek survey - the percentage of the population that is atheist is growing faster than the percentage that is any given religion. The percentage that is Christian is shrinking.

    Additionally, only about 50% of the people who claim to be Christian actually go to church regularly. I’m guessing that a large fraction of people who call themselves Christian on a survey are simply doing it out of habit, and rarely/never actually think about religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    The majority also once thought the world was flat.
    Thats a myth.

    ------

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution.
    Isn't that embarrassing ?

    Part of the problem with surveys is that they can be manipulated. Using the right words and asking the right people can get you any answer you want. Using the latest US census would probably get you a more rounded and fairer idea of the true numbers, saying that in the last British census 3% put themselves down as Jedi.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    The majority also once thought the world was flat.
    Thats a myth.
    It's a myth that you think it a myth. Chinese texts display the cosmos as a flat turtle shell. Until post 1st millenium times, the majority of the world's population lived in the river valleys of China and surrounding areas. The majority of humans once thought the world was flat and it didn't make the world flat. I'd be surprised if anymore than a fraction of inhabitants of other civilizations (including Europe) until the last couple centuries also thought the world wasn't flat...a fraction ever travelled more than a few miles from there homes and literacy was rare as WMDs in Iraq.

    The properties of matter and energy are what they are regardless of man's acceptance or understanding of them. Atoms don't act the way they do because man now understands that such particles exists. The belief in a god, leprechauns or the Easter Bunny doesn't make them any more real in a universe of matter and energy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    It's a myth that you think it a myth. Chinese texts display the cosmos as a flat turtle shell. Until post 1st millenium times, the majority of the world's population lived in the river valleys of China and surrounding areas. The majority of humans once thought the world was flat and it didn't make the world flat.
    Thank you, i didn't know that. Just done some quick googling and your right.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    I'd be surprised if anymore than a fraction of inhabitants of other civilizations (including Europe) until the last couple centuries also thought the world wasn't flat...a fraction ever travelled more than a few miles from there homes and literacy was rare as WMDs in Iraq.
    This i will disagree with though. Many people in such times lived by rivers and oceans. Those that did live by the sea would have been able to see the curvature of the earth, and the scholars of Europe and the middle east clearly wrote that the earth was round and in some cases (Erasthenes 600bc) even managed to calculate the circumference of the earth very closely to the true distance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jellyologist
    The properties of matter and energy are what they are regardless of man's acceptance or understanding of them. Atoms don't act the way they do because man now understands that such particles exists. The belief in a god, leprechauns or the Easter Bunny doesn't make them any more real in a universe of matter and energy.
    Or in other words, 'The truth is always the truth, whether you believe it or not'.
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    cat claimed

    daytonturner wrote:
    Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution.
    Isn't that embarrassing ?
    Actually, I did not write that. It was written in the article which I pasted into the open message. That particular aspect of the survey I also found somewhat surprising.

    It would seem to show that a large percentage of people who say they believe in God also believe in Evolution.

    So I am not sure who should be embarresed the most.

    Scifor said:

    According to US Census data - which I would like to hope is more accurate than a Newsweek survey - the percentage of the population that is atheist is growing faster than the percentage that is any given religion. The percentage that is Christian is shrinking.
    You do, of course, have some link or some documentation for this claim. The last census in the US was taken in they year 2000. A google check of surveys since then show varying results at different times. Although when virtually every poll since 2000 has shown about 90 percent of the people believe in God, it seems like spitting into the wind to argue with that statistic. This should not be equated to the idea of how many of these people are Christian or Muslim or some other religion that believes in diety.

    I do not put a lot of faith in polls for the very reason someone has already stated. Loaded questions can determine the outcome of the poll.
    For example:

    1. Do you think it is better to murder babies or torture them?

    The reported result from that question could say that 57 percent of those polled felt it was OK to murder babies while 43 percent felt it was OK to torture them.

    So it is difficult to tell for sure just how much significance to give to a poll. I'm not very convinced that people who do not believe in God would lie and say they do.

    I know of no group more proud of and outspoken about their beliefs than atheists.
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    The majority of layman who I have spoken with, who have heard of evolution say something about us not coming from monkeys. But, Darwin did not state this. He said that we could have come from a common ancestor.

    My point? They haven't any real knowledge of evolution. How might the majority of a census ever impose what really could be? To me, a census on this subject is entirely pointless, due to a lack of knowledge of the layman. The results mean nothing. Throw them in the trash.
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    Actually, I think Darwinism would have predicted such a linear process of evolution. Darwinism, however, has fallen into disfavor among most modern students of evolution. What nanobrain suggests -- the idea of common ancestry rather than lineal ancestry -- is a more recent approach.

    There are today several schools of thought on the topic which are vying to become the dominant theory. About the only thing they agree upon is that evolution has taken place. When and how remain elusive and unagreed upon.
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    daytonturner wrote:
    About the only thing they agree upon is that evolution has taken place. When and how remain elusive and unagreed upon.
    But I think the major mechanism is well agreed upon. When has evolution taken place? All the time.
    How? Through replication and natural selection.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution.
    Isn't that embarrassing ?
    It is rather scary actually.

    Daytonturner thinks the that a dominant percentage of the US being Christian and a decline in atheisim is a sign of hope. But despite my being Christian, I do not. I fear it is a sign of doom. The hope of mankind and the strength of the US lies in diversity not uniformity. This increase in anti-science sentiments reveals a fast growing mob mentality and tendency towards the extreme right that leads to facism. I kid you not. I am deadly serious. I have encountered members of the Christian right that want to dismantle the justice system of this country - tear apart everything our ancestors have fought and died for. When the right becomes this extreme, thinking that any change that pops into their head must be a good change, it is no longer conservatism but indistinguishable from the extreme left. This is why the extreme right, facism, and the extreme left, communism, behaved so similarly in the past, starting world war 2 with a non-agression pact. The right-left spectrum is a circle where freedom resides in the balance between them and the extremes of both come together on the opposite side of the circle in tyranny.

    A united world dominated by a single ideology represents the dark ages of mankind, both in the Christian history (or myth) of the world before the flood, the medeival tyrrany of the Catholic church and the more recent time of the communist block which plunged half the world into darkness. The hope of the world lies in the individuals (or crackpots) like Noah, and not in the mob which pats each other on the back while enshrining idiocy by electing people like George Bush. All it will take for the Anti-Christ to rule the world is for him to claim to be a born-again Christian, because this new idiotic Christian right blindly think that this is all that matters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution.
    Isn't that embarrassing ?
    It is rather scary actually.

    Daytonturner thinks the that a dominant percentage of the US being Christian and a decline in atheisim is a sign of hope. But despite my being Christian, I do not. I fear it is a sign of doom. The hope of mankind and the strength of the US lies in diversity not uniformity. This increase in anti-science sentiments reveals a fast growing mob mentality and tendency towards the extreme right that leads to facism. I kid you not. I am deadly serious. I have encountered members of the Christian right that want to dismantle the justice system of this country - tear apart everything our ancestors have fought and died for. When the right becomes this extreme, thinking that any change that pops into their head must be a good change, it is no longer conservatism but indistinguishable from the extreme left. This is why the extreme right, facism, and the extreme left, communism, behaved so similarly in the past, starting world war 2 with a non-agression pact. The right-left spectrum is a circle where freedom resides in the balance between them and the extremes of both come together on the opposite side of the circle in tyranny.

    A united world dominated by a single ideology represents the dark ages of mankind, both in the Christian history (or myth) of the world before the flood, the medeival tyrrany of the Catholic church and the more recent time of the communist block which plunged half the world into darkness. The hope of the world lies in the individuals (or crackpots) like Noah, and not in the mob which pats each other on the back while enshrining idiocy by electing people like George Bush. All it will take for the Anti-Christ to rule the world is for him to claim to be a born-again Christian, because this new idiotic Christian right blindly think that this all that matters.
    I agree. And to add to that, many Christians tend to reject scientific theory. There are few Christian scientists--myself included--out there. This may mark a decline in scientific revelations.
    --------
    Regardless, I don't think the world is gearing more towards a completely Christian and/or theist society.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    I am not sure what I said that suggested I favored or disfavored the results of the Newsweek poll. To be sure, there are many questions which such polls raise.

    I believe, I did point out that it remained in line with most of the similar polls taken in the last several years although there have been a few polls which showed a lower percentage of people who believe in God which I would attribute to poll skewing questions. Not because I disagree with them, but because they are anomolies in the sea of "God believing" polls.

    OK, maybe my intent was to gloat a little. But I think the most important revelation from this kind of poll is that it shows there are an awful lot of people who believe in God but it does little to impact their way of living or thinking.

    I would share Mitchell's concern that if a segment of any religion seized absolute and permanent political dominance, it could be problematic. In fact, we can see the results of religion run politics in Islamic Republics. However, I do not believe a world devoid of religion would be any better than the one already attempted by the Soviet Union.

    So, we have the classic examples of government ruled by religion in the Islamic nations and we have the classic example of a government which totally rejects religion as in the Soviet Union. Neither of these societies is one I would want to live under.

    In American, one of our stengths is that politics and religion interact and influence each other, but neither is allowed to dominate the other.
    Another is the implementation and understanding of the idea of checks and balances which not only helps regulate our politics but also permeates the way our society deals with differences. Social movements have a way of coming into favor and then falling out of favor.

    I am a little concerned that Mitchell seems to be worried about the danger that some splinter group of neo Nazis disguising themselves as Christians could dismantle our system of government. The chances of their success is so deminimus, it hardly seems worth mentioning. I do not recall these people committing suicide murders or driving airplanes into skyscrapers.

    Mitchell rants:

    The hope of the world lies in the individuals (or crackpots) like Noah, and not in the mob which pats each other on the back while enshrining idiocy by electing people like George Bush. All it will take for the Anti-Christ to rule the world is for him to claim to be a born-again Christian, because this new idiotic Christian right blindly think that this all that matters.
    This surely sounds like the tirade of a liberal who is upset that conservatives are currently in power. I assure you Mitchell, this too shall pass. But are you prepared for Hillary???

    Our society would be no better off if liberals perennially ruled than it would be if conservatives perennially ruled. Our strength and growth is in the swinging of the pendulum not in stopping it in the middle.

    While many join Mitchell in castigating Bush, let us not forget that the lowest approval rating ever accorded a president was the 22 percent experienced by Harry Truman during his time in office. He is now considered one of the best presidents we ever had. I am reminded of an old saying: The evening knows what the morning never suspected.
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    Not to turn this into a political discussion or anything...buuut...I'm personally conservative but believe that the Democrats should win this one...just to clean up the Republican party a little. :wink:
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    sciphithe said:

    And to add to that, many Christians tend to reject scientific theory.
    Other than the theory of evolution, I defy you to find a scientific theory which Christians generally reject.

    I would not consider a Godless Big Bang or Godless beginnings of life as scientific theories. They are, rather, unscientific speculations which have no more weight than unscientific rejections of them.

    You would also have to say which schools of science you think are involved. Do Christians categorically deny chemistry or physics or biology or what other school of science?
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I would share Mitchell's concern that if a segment of any religion seized absolute and permanent political dominance, it could be problematic. In fact, we can see the results of religion run politics in Islamic Republics. However, I do not believe a world devoid of religion would be any better than the one already attempted by the Soviet Union.

    So, we have the classic examples of government ruled by religion in the Islamic nations and we have the classic example of a government which totally rejects religion as in the Soviet Union. Neither of these societies is one I would want to live under.
    Precisely my sentiment and very well said. You make me wish I thought to make the same comparison myself first.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I am a little concerned that Mitchell seems to be worried about the danger that some splinter group of neo Nazis disguising themselves as Christians could dismantle our system of government. The chances of their success is so deminimus, it hardly seems worth mentioning. I do not recall these people committing suicide murders or driving airplanes into skyscrapers.
    The people I was talking about were not neo-nazis! These were anti-science pro-life extremists. Some were even somewhat rational in theology discussions (some were not). The problem here is not nazis disguising themselves. The problem is human nature exhibited in mob mentality which encourages a self-righteous attitude that makes it believe that their cause justifies anything.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Mitchell rants:

    The hope of the world lies in the individuals (or crackpots) like Noah, and not in the mob which pats each other on the back while enshrining idiocy by electing people like George Bush. All it will take for the Anti-Christ to rule the world is for him to claim to be a born-again Christian, because this new idiotic Christian right blindly think that this all that matters.
    This surely sounds like the tirade of a liberal who is upset that conservatives are currently in power. I assure you Mitchell, this too shall pass. But are you prepared for Hillary???
    I don't like Bush but I think the forces which brought Him to power are scary ones. What make people ignore the obvious flaws in people like Hitler and Bush? (Granted Bush is not the maniac that Hitler was. He is mostly just a greedy bumbler who makes a mess of things.) It is my clear impression that when people elected Bush they were not electing Him on the basis of His capabilities. I got the clear impression that His claim to be a born again Christian was all that matters. Now we have a good Republican candidate who will never be elected just because he is LDS. AS IF THAT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT! (I cannot even believe it!) The Christian right has become a barreling train without a track.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Our society would be no better off if liberals perennially ruled than it would be if conservatives perennially ruled. Our strength and growth is in the swinging of the pendulum not in stopping it in the middle.
    But this pointing at the other guys and exaggerating the dangers of that side gaining power is EXACTLY the sort of thing got Hitler in power!!!!! Yes we are sick and tired of decades of liberal excesses, but the worst of these excesses are not cause for pushing to the other extreme. This kind of reactionary rocking to extremes is the real danger which can shake our system apart.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    While many join Mitchell in castigating Bush, let us not forget that the lowest approval rating ever accorded a president was the 22 percent experienced by Harry Truman during his time in office. He is now considered one of the best presidents we ever had. I am reminded of an old saying: The evening knows what the morning never suspected.
    Despite what you seem to imagine, the sentiments I have expressed have NOTHING to do with the current disfavor of Bush. (In fact a swing to the opposite extreme is the worse thing that can happen.) It is the forces which brought him to power that gives me the greatest cause for concern. The whim of the public is stupid. If anything my approval for Bush has only increased since he took office and not decreased at all. He has at least played his hand better than I feared.

    Besides I think this so called disfavor is mostly a Democratic Party created media non-event.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    You do, of course, have some link or some documentation for this claim.
    Google "2000 Census religion" and brows around.
    The last census in the US was taken in they year 2000. A google check of surveys since then show varying results at different times. Although when virtually every poll since 2000 has shown about 90 percent of the people believe in God, it seems like spitting into the wind to argue with that statistic.
    90% believing in god sounds about right. In the 2000 census 14% of people marked "no religion/atheist". I wouldn't be surprised if some fraction of the people who marked that would claim to believe in god even though they had "no religion".

    The point, however, is that in 1990 only 8.4% marked "atheist/no religion". So it appears that atheism (or at least "having no religion") is increasing.
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    Actually, I do not mind the political bend which this thread has taken. The scientificos here sometimes have a hard time seeing how all these things relate in someway – politics, religion, science – they are all part of the big picture and we cannot really resolve the problems of the world by ignoring any of these things and how they interrelate.

    I am having a little trouble with Scifor’s math because it is not exactly clear which set of statistics he is referring to in which instance. The recent Newsweek poll showed three percent listing themselves as atheists whereas the study he cited does not separate atheist out of the no-religion group. In the 2000 census information he used it was 14 percent aligning themselves with no religion; in the Newsweek poll, it was only 10 percent who chose no religion. The problem is that this group in both instances would include people who say, “I believe in God but it will be a cold day in hell before you will find me in a church.”

    The thread title was meant only to be an attention grabber. My look at the statistics overall is that the percentages of believers and non-believers has remained quite constant, at least over the past couple of decades. The studies do not always identify what percentage claim to be atheists.

    I always enjoy Mitchell’s congenial comments even where we disagree by several miles.

    I do not find the national swings of mood and lemming mentality either surprising or especially “dangerous.” (Despite their self destructive manic dash to death, lemmings somehow manage to survive.) We see these mood swings going back and forth throughout the history of the U.S. and I suspect other countries which have open and free elections share these swings from liberal to conservative. Nor is religion the only factor in these mood swings. Somewhat less religious Europe experiences these same undulations.

    I was most perplexed by the phrase: “These were anti-science pro-life extremists,” coupled with the lament that a Mormon has little chance to get elected. It seems to me that the largest vocally pro-life religious group is the Mormons. Granted there are many other conservative religious groups which are vehemently pro-life and they might vote for a Mormon on that one issue alone. But I just don't think this bloc of voters is large enough to, all by itself, determine an election.

    I do not understand the anti-science aspect of the statement. I am unaware of a scientific position on abortion. And I must reiterate my objection to the picture that Christians are generally and categorically anti-science. At church, I hardly ever hear any science topic discussed, and then only evolution is discussed in a negative manner.

    As to Bush: I cannot agree he was elected mostly because of his claim to being a born again Christian. No president has worn his Christianity on his sleeve more than Jimmy Carter and it did not help him get reelected. I think the most dominant arrow in Bush’s quiver was his anti-terrorism stand. We had not forgotten 9-11 in 2004 as we seem to be forgetting it now.

    What I see as the greatest danger is not honest to goodness, God respecting, believing Christians, rather those who claim Christianity but remain self-serving, dishonest and corrupt in the power halls of politics and economics. While it appears Mitchell would place Bush into such a group, I would not.

    A-morality is a grave danger to society whether it is found in professing Christians or heathen atheists.
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    daytonturner wrote:
    So, we have the classic examples of government ruled by religion in the Islamic nations and we have the classic example of a government which totally rejects religion as in the Soviet Union. Neither of these societies is one I would want to live under.
    Not sufficient data to make conclusion. There are more things than religions that shape a country. We don't even know whether the religion is one the key factors.

    in the Newsweek poll, it was only 10 percent who chose no religion. The problem is that this group in both instances would include people who say, “I believe in God but it will be a cold day in hell before you will find me in a church.”
    It is interesting to further analyze what these people think. Do they think the Church has no link to their God? Do they think God has no business with them, so that they do not have to subscribe to any religions?
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    prasit wrote:

    daytonturner wrote:
    So, we have the classic examples of government ruled by religion in the Islamic nations and we have the classic example of a government which totally rejects religion as in the Soviet Union. Neither of these societies is one I would want to live under.
    Not sufficient data to make conclusion. There are more things than religions that shape a country. We don't even know whether the religion is one the key factors.
    I would agree with prasit to the extent that he can show me that he has seriously considered emmigrating to either a communist nation or an Islamic republic.

    I cannot suggest that lack of religion is the only negative aspect of communism. Their economic structure of state control is also debilitating. I would say, however, that religion is the most significant factor in what is wrong with Muslim countries.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    I don't believe atheism is dying. I look at a lot of religious thinking adopting stances unheard of not to long ago. Take the argument for bible authenticity for instance. Once accepted as gospel the OT is now under constant bombardment from science. Instead of allowing science to tear religion down, certain segments of religion are using science in an attempt to prove their case. Take a look at the creationist websites if you think I'm nuts. They're full of scientific references. God doesn't just snap his fingers anymore, there are enormous processes taking place, unheard of at the turn of the last century.

    Creationists may have realized that God magic doesn't cut it. People need scientific proof. They're trying to beat science at their own game, except it's not a game. Atheists are doing their part to keep science seperate from religion but religion is now embracing science to try and counter them. To me it's not a good sign for religion. Hopefully it's the beginning of the end for religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I do not find the national swings of mood and lemming mentality either surprising or especially “dangerous.” (Despite their self destructive manic dash to death, lemmings somehow manage to survive.) We see these mood swings going back and forth throughout the history of the U.S. and I suspect other countries which have open and free elections share these swings from liberal to conservative. Nor is religion the only factor in these mood swings. Somewhat less religious Europe experiences these same undulations.
    But this country was built on compromise. If we lose the art of compromise, then instead of finding our balance we only continue to swing farther and farther towards the other side of the circle which is tyranny. Would your metaphor of the lemmings somehow surviving be exemplified in the American Civil war perhaps? For that is what happens when compromise fails. How many Americans died in that war? Nothing to worry about did you say?



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I was most perplexed by the phrase: “These were anti-science pro-life extremists,” coupled with the lament that a Mormon has little chance to get elected. It seems to me that the largest vocally pro-life religious group is the Mormons. Granted there are many other conservative religious groups which are vehemently pro-life and they might vote for a Mormon on that one issue alone. But I just don't think this bloc of voters is large enough to, all by itself, determine an election.

    I do not understand the anti-science aspect of the statement. I am unaware of a scientific position on abortion. And I must reiterate my objection to the picture that Christians are generally and categorically anti-science. At church, I hardly ever hear any science topic discussed, and then only evolution is discussed in a negative manner.
    The anti-science phrase refers to Christians who have so confused the difference between science and rhetoric that they claim that their is such a thing as atheistic science and think that there should naturally be such a thing as Christian science to oppose it. I sympathize with their rejection of the idea of common decent that comes from the theory of evolution that reduces the identity of humanity to 98.3% primate. I do after all reject this idea myself. But, whatever their confusion, it is still plain fact that the theory of evolution is a scientific theory and ID is pseudo-scientific rhetoric, for the simple reason that God is not objectively observable and so "Goddidit" is utterly useless to the pursuit of scientific discovery.

    It is the character of fascism that it allows no middle ground. And to the extremists of which I speak, you are either for ID or you are an atheistic scientist. Likewise on the other issue, you are either for the execution of doctors who have performed abortions or you are an accomplis to murder.

    You would certainly think that a Mormon republican would be welcomed for his stance on conservative issues but they make it apparent that all they do care about is that he is Mormon rather than what they would call a proper Christian which proves my claim about Bush being elected just because of his religious affiliation.



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    As to Bush: I cannot agree he was elected mostly because of his claim to being a born again Christian. No president has worn his Christianity on his sleeve more than Jimmy Carter and it did not help him get reelected. I think the most dominant arrow in Bush’s quiver was his anti-terrorism stand. We had not forgotten 9-11 in 2004 as we seem to be forgetting it now.
    What exactly are you saying about Jimmy Carter as opposed to Ronald Reagan???? Besides we were talking about what got Bush elected the first time, when he had a decent opponent and the help of his brother in Florida, before he had the chance to engineer this 9/11 thing?



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    A-morality is a grave danger to society whether it is found in professing Christians or heathen atheists.
    Sure but what the deuce does amorality have to do with politics??? You want the government involved in the problem of morality??? You want to pass a law or something??? Are you supporting a theocracy like they have in Islam or not?????
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    Whoa, here!

    Zingy, zingy, zingy. What are you saying? You seem to be saying that because religious people are resorting to science in an attempt to prove what they believe, that is proof that atheism is growing? Are you saying that use of science is an atheistic only practice? Religious people, especially Christians, should not resort to science in an effort to show the validity of their beliefs?

    I don’t know that any Christian has said God used magic to do anything. I think the prevailing position would be that God has a process and a reason behind everything He has done, but that we have not been able to qualify and quantify it. I think it is atheists who resort to calling this belief a belief in magic.

    Christians see nothing as being magical.

    And Mitchell also picks up on this theme of atheistic or religious science. I thought science was about knowledge which has no atheistic or religious bounds. That which we know is known to all. There may be some dispute over what it is that we actually know. And some of those lines may be drawn by whether one believes in a supernatural active agent in the universe.

    I do not see the reply Godidit but we don’t know how any different from the reply Godidn’tdoit but we can’t figure it out yet.

    But knowledge is not the exclusive purview of any specific segment of society.

    I agree with Mitchell that another of the strengths of Western civilization is the art of compromise. But compromise does not mean that each side gets exactly 50 percent of what it is asking. There are also times when compromise is not workable. The Brits’ attempt to compromise with Hitler turned out to be foolish. Hitler was not prone to compromise. It takes two to compromise.

    And while, as Mitchell points out, there are people at the extremes in American politics and social issues, the reality is that the huge majority of us dwell in the middle ground.

    To be honest, this entire post by Mitchell seemed out of character for him. Nuff said.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    daytonturner wrote:
    daytonturner wrote:

    So, we have the classic examples of government ruled by religion in the Islamic nations and we have the classic example of a government which totally rejects religion as in the Soviet Union. Neither of these societies is one I would want to live under.
    Not sufficient data to make conclusion. There are more things than religions that shape a country. We don't even know whether the religion is one the key factors.
    I would agree with prasit to the extent that he can show me that he has seriously considered emmigrating to either a communist nation or an Islamic republic.
    Would you like to reconsider your response? It is illogical.


    I cannot suggest that lack of religion is the only negative aspect of communism. Their economic structure of state control is also debilitating. I would say, however, that religion is the most significant factor in what is wrong with Muslim countries.
    Do you have any reference to support your statement? I used to see the comparison between countries with democracy and communism, capitalism and protectionism, but not Christianism and Islam. Beware of the difference between coexistence and causal effect.
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    prasit asks:

    Would you like to reconsider your response? It is illogical.

    Yes, I would like to change emmigrating to immigrating.


    You, of course, are free to offer other examples of repressive countries and regimes which are dominated by some other governmental format or religious basis or to present communist countries or Islamic countries which are not oppressive. It is not up to me to defeat my own contention.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    daytonturner says: Country A is bad because it has R.
    Prasits says: It is also has S, T, U, V, W. We can not conclude which causes the bad thing to Country A.
    daytonturner says: I would agree if you seriously considered emmigrating to Country A.
    Prasit says: I don't want to go to Country A, it is bad. It is not the point of the argument whether Country A is bad or not.

    I would like to be a shiek in Dubai.
    Malaysia is OK.
    England in the old days had witch hunts.
    Singapore has no official religions. It is governed by law.
    Antartic has no religion. The researchers live peacefully there.
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    Without comparison (which prasit gets down to at the end of his post) it may be difficult to tell, by looking at one isolated country, which factor out of many may be the most influential. Or it may be easy to see which factor is the dominant factor of that society.

    It is difficult to apply prasit's inclusion of several unnamed factors to actual cases. It is also difficult to determine in which way the unnamed factors are influenced by others.

    It was not my contention that if you eliminate Islam from Muslim nations, everything would be hunky dory. Or that when you eliminate communism, the former communist countries will immediately become thriving democracies.

    Still, it is not difficult to suggest that religion is the most dominant social determinant in Islamic nations while communism is the most dominant factor in communist nations.

    Would the world be more peaceful if it was entirely Muslim? I would think so. Would the world be more peaceful if it was entirely communist? I would think so.

    Still, I don't think anyone in the free world would want to live in one of those socieities unless he could be start out at the top as a Sheik or in the Sheik's family or high government official.

    prasit admits he would not mind being a Sheik in Dubai. I have no idea what prasit does for a living, but would he want to be that in Dubai? Or a woman there?

    I think the desirability of a way of life is demonstrated by the number of people who want to go live and work there. There are far more people trying to get out of Islmaic and communist countries and their destinations are toward those countries in Europe and North America and South America which have been heavily influenced by Christianity.

    I can agree that not all third world coutries are Islamic or communist. And, at least one communist country, China, is now a thriving. However, it has undergone changes which permit a free market economy and a modicum of freedom of religion.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

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    Have a look at this "Incarceration and Religious Preference"

    http://www.adherents.com/misc/adh_prison.html
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Christians see nothing as being magical.
    I don't see anything as being magical in the sense you mean (while you could also say that I see everything as being "magical" or miraculous in some sense). Perhaps you do not think of things as magical either, BUT there are a lot of Christians that insist on interpreting Genesis to mean that God used some sort of medieval necromancy to create a golem of dust called Adam and a reanimation of someones body part called Eve. They are also a large number of Christians who effectively think of Christianity as some sort of magical formula: say these words and/or perform these rituals and poof God is on your side.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    And Mitchell also picks up on this theme of atheistic or religious science. I thought science was about knowledge which has no atheistic or religious bounds. That which we know is known to all. There may be some dispute over what it is that we actually know. And some of those lines may be drawn by whether one believes in a supernatural active agent in the universe.

    I do not see the reply Godidit but we don’t know how any different from the reply Godidn’tdoit but we can’t figure it out yet.
    I was talking about those "anti-science pro-life extremists" you were asking about. They would call me an atheist and baby killer just because I refuse to lobotomize myself and tow the line. No there are none of these currently in the science forum probably because they equate the word science with satanic, but I very much lack your confidence that these are just a few crackpots. It seems to me that they are a considerable political force.

    Reactionary behavior is a fundamental human characteristic. It is a primary motivation of all the atheists on this forum. But this reactionary behavior in the Christian right as a political force spells "fascism". The danger of recognizing this too late is one of the undeniable lessons of history.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    But knowledge is not the exclusive purview of any specific segment of society.

    I agree with Mitchell that another of the strengths of Western civilization is the art of compromise. But compromise does not mean that each side gets exactly 50 percent of what it is asking. There are also times when compromise is not workable. The Brits’ attempt to compromise with Hitler turned out to be foolish. Hitler was not prone to compromise. It takes two to compromise.
    Compromise is something no one is happy with but everyone can live with. Compromise is not simply expecting your opposition to simply drop dead and cease to exist because they don't conform to your expectations of what is proper. Today's politics with two parties representing the utter extremes on issues is more like the latter and less like the former.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    And while, as Mitchell points out, there are people at the extremes in American politics and social issues, the reality is that the huge majority of us dwell in the middle ground.
    It would be comforting to believe that. But I have my doubts.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    To be honest, this entire post by Mitchell seemed out of character for him. Nuff said.
    Well, it is about time that I puncture your illusions then. Just because we agree on some theological issues doesn't mean we see eye to eye on a great many important issues. You want to us all to all relax while the extreme right gets its way. LOL But in meantime why don't you answer the questions I put to you?

    Sure but what the deuce does amorality have to do with politics???

    You want the government involved in the problem of morality???

    You want to pass a law or something???

    Are you supporting a theocracy like they have in Islam or not?????
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    Mitchell asks:

    Sure but what the deuce does amorality have to do with politics???

    You want the government involved in the problem of morality???
    Ummm. You are looking at this from a different angle than I meant it. I am talking about the people involved in government and business.

    I would like to think of them as honest people who study the issues and do that which is correct. What we are seeing, however, is more and more legislators who are "for sale" to big business. This knows no party line and hardly any right-left orientation.

    The drive among the hierarchy of power to gain more power and wealth is what alarms me. This is not because I have been left out, but because their power and wealth comes at the expense of many of the poor and unfortunate in our country and around the world.

    It is insane that corporate heads should make salaries into seven figures and pay no taxes while others starve, live on the streets. It should be criminal for legislators to vote for legislation that benefits a company or economic sector and then go to work for that company at huge salaries.

    It seems that you are more tolerant of those who disagree with you on religious matters than you are on those who disagree with you on political matters.

    I have seen our country headed for ruin many times because of the leadership of one president or another and we have survived far worse than Bush from the tyrant LBJ to the paranoid egotistical Nixon, to the what-the-hell-did-he-do Carter, to the trickle down Reagan, and the unzippered Clinton.

    It is possible that we are seeing the same phenomenon of a self interested, power hungry element whose involvement in politics and business is tending to erode the middle class and change us into a nation of extreme haves and have nots such as we see in Muslim and communist countries. Assuredly, this is a possible outcome of facist control.

    I just don't see Bush as a figure head of that motivation. I see him as a person who strongly believes we are being threatened by radical, terrorist Muslims and who is using his influence and power to combat that threat. Whether it is real or imagined only history will tell. Historically, some of our best presidents have had bad press while in office. On the other hand Franklin Pierce was widely hated and, apparently, properly so. History is the only true gauge of a leader's legacy.

    I feel confident that the political leanings of the people of the U.S. are the same as the population of the world. Most of the people live closer to the equater. The further you get from the equater and the closer to the poles, the fewer people there are.

    I looked at the site megabrain linked to. It seemed to me the bottom line of the article was that the data collectors have done so in such a way as to prove their preconceived conclusions. And, as a result, the available data cannot be used to come to any unbiased conclusions.

    I realize that I started this thread with a statistical poll, but I must confess that I put little stock in statistical compilations whether I agree with them or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Whoa, here!

    Zingy, zingy, zingy. What are you saying? You seem to be saying that because religious people are resorting to science in an attempt to prove what they believe, that is proof that atheism is growing? Are you saying that use of science is an atheistic only practice? Religious people, especially Christians, should not resort to science in an effort to show the validity of their beliefs?
    Not quite, my overzealous friend. I did single out the creationists. Use all the science you want, perfect. Science has attained a status that can't be ignored and isn't going away. Science isn't infiltrating accepted religious beliefs.... it's the other way around. I never said atheism is growing but I was inferring religion is slowly eroding.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Mitchell asks:

    Sure but what the deuce does amorality have to do with politics???

    You want the government involved in the problem of morality???
    Ummm. You are looking at this from a different angle than I meant it. I am talking about the people involved in government and business.

    I would like to think of them as honest people who study the issues and do that which is correct. What we are seeing, however, is more and more legislators who are "for sale" to big business. This knows no party line and hardly any right-left orientation.

    The drive among the hierarchy of power to gain more power and wealth is what alarms me. This is not because I have been left out, but because their power and wealth comes at the expense of many of the poor and unfortunate in our country and around the world.
    Yes this is indeed what drives politics and other issues are just tools of manipulation. We should be wise and fully aware of this to avoid being taken in and to use these driving forces to manipulate them instead.

    Frankly as long as we keep going for extreme positions on issue like abortion and gay marriage the easier we are to manipulate with both side tossing us back and forth between them like a ball, blinding us to what is really going on.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    It is insane that corporate heads should make salaries into seven figures and pay no taxes while others starve, live on the streets. It should be criminal for legislators to vote for legislation that benefits a company or economic sector and then go to work for that company at huge salaries.
    I would not know. I make a point of never looking at other people's money. Clearly there does need to be some regulation to avoid things like ERON, where people are abusing their power to cheat all the people of the company and its customers.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    It seems that you are more tolerant of those who disagree with you on religious matters than you are on those who disagree with you on political matters.
    You could be right. As long as religion stays out of the use of power in government, ultimately it is God who backs it up, so why should we worry about mishandling? But government is the controled use of violence, and therefore abuse in this is terrifying. Clearly, more so than religion, government is in the hands of men. It may be less important but it is more immediate.

    On the on the other hand, if I am fanatical and intolerant in political matters it is in defense of moderation and human liberty. Even in religion you can say that I am intolerant of intolerance. I don't think we can dictate to others how to rule their country, but yes I think I am very intolerant of ideas of changing how to rule the country I am living in.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I just don't see Bush as a figure head of that motivation.
    Oh of course not! I never said Bush was a fascist and in fact I denied this explicitly. It is the forces that brought Bush to power that worry me not Bush himself. Bush is not the first President serving out of greed, and I doubt he will be the last.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I see him as a person who strongly believes we are being threatened by radical, terrorist Muslims and who is using his influence and power to combat that threat. Whether it is real or imagined only history will tell. Historically, some of our best presidents have had bad press while in office. On the other hand Franklin Pierce was widely hated and, apparently, properly so. History is the only true gauge of a leader's legacy.
    I am not so confident in history either. This is mostly a story we make up to comfort and justify ourselves.
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    zingy said:

    Science has attained a status that can't be ignored and isn't going away. Science isn't infiltrating accepted religious beliefs.... it's the other way around.
    I would respond to the first thought that it appears religion has attained a status that can't be ignored and is not going away.

    I think you changed thoughts in the middle of typing your second statement. I think you actually meant to say that science IS infiltrating religion but that religion is not infiltrating science.

    By implication, it appears you are talking about Christianity more than other religions. What we are actually seeing is that higher and higher percentages of Christians are highly educated people who hold advanced degrees in fields such as medicine, law, engineering, chemistry, professors at universities. These people are not stupid.

    So I think there is some natural reciprocity in the infiltration (I actually read that influence) factor.

    I continue to see this erroneous idea floating through the pages of this forum that scientists are rational thinking atheists and all Christians are stupid and anti-science. It is my contention and no one has yet offered a challenge to my contention that evolution provides a huge portion of what argument there is between religion and science and beyond that, there is not much ground of argument.

    Intelligent Design is pooh-poohed not so much by scientists who realize we have no idea how this stuff got here, but by atheists who are intent in convincing that ID has no science involved. Actually, we are all observing the same material and explaining it differently.

    As it turns out, the explanation that it just happened by some inexplicable accident is considered scientific while the explanation that there was some causitive agent is considered religious.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I continue to see this erroneous idea floating through the pages of this forum that scientists are rational thinking atheists and all Christians are stupid and anti-science. It is my contention and no one has yet offered a challenge to my contention that evolution provides a huge portion of what argument there is between religion and science and beyond that, there is not much ground of argument.

    Intelligent Design is pooh-poohed not so much by scientists who realize we have no idea how this stuff got here, but by atheists who are intent in convincing that ID has no science involved. Actually, we are all observing the same material and explaining it differently.

    As it turns out, the explanation that it just happened by some inexplicable accident is considered scientific while the explanation that there was some causitive agent is considered religious.
    I share the same views. Apparently it's assumed (not only on this forum, but in society as a whole) that religious folk can't be rational or be scientists. I take great insult when someone states that scientists can't be religious, or that religious people are unintelligent. It makes me especially angry when religious people agree with these atrocious ideas. In fact, it makes me cling to my religion and profession even more: to prove them wrong (not to say this is the only reason).

    And I agree with your last statement. It is ironic, isn't it? And the funny thing is that whenever I assert this, people tend to ignore it. And to me silence suggests agreement.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Intelligent Design is pooh-poohed not so much by scientists who realize we have no idea how this stuff got here, but by atheists who are intent in convincing that ID has no science involved. Actually, we are all observing the same material and explaining it differently.
    Baloney! So you calling me an atheist because I won't go along with your pseudo-science hogwash, too? ID is thinly veiled rhetoric and not a valid scientific hypothesis at all. I pooh-pooh it up and down and every which way in every forum I post in, as it is by any decent scientist. People are not doing science just because they use the tools of science. Yes ID makes some valid criticisms of the theory of evolution in regards to irreducibility. Yes people with the training in the use of the tools of science have made some interesting discoveries. But it is still not science. It is still basically rhetoric in support of foregone conclusions little different than what lawyers and salesmen do when they search for evidence to support their claims and that is not what science does at all.

    This is anti-science pure and simple. It is the wrong way to fight for the Christians world view. Besides that, ID is just plain wrong. Living things are not designed. Design is contrary to their nature. Not being designed is part of what it means to be alive. Living is necessarily a participation in ones own creation. The only way that living things are EVER created is through participatory process like that of the farmer, shepherd, teacher and parent - NOT BY DESIGN! That which is designed is only what it is designed to be, EVER. That which is alive is in a neverending process of learning and becoming something more than it was. This is the essence of consciousness, responsibility and free will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Christians see nothing as being magical.
    Are you serious? The vast, overwhelming majority of Christians believe that praying to God will help them get what they want/need.

    In other words, Christians believe that by saying certain words they can influence a supernatural force to cause something to happen that wouldn't otherwise have happened. That's the very definition of magic.
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    daytonturner wrote:
    By implication, it appears you are talking about Christianity more than other religions. What we are actually seeing is that higher and higher percentages of Christians are highly educated people who hold advanced degrees in fields such as medicine, law, engineering, chemistry, professors at universities. These people are not stupid.
    Any reference? I just read it somewhere that the proportion of religious people get lower when the education level get higher. For example: Nobel Laureates have less proportion of Christians than the PhD.
    Typically most people have been indoctrinated on their parent's religions since they were young. At that age they can be taught to believe in anything and it is hard to change their beliefs when they grow up. Fortunately most of them don't let it interfere with their academic goal.
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    Mitchell reacts:
    So you calling me an atheist because I won't go along with your pseudo-science hogwash, too?
    If the shoe fits. . .

    Actually what I said, bottom line, was that some people believe the universe is the result of some inexplicable accident. This is called science.

    Some people believe the universe is the result of some purposeful intelligent effort. This is called hogwash religion.

    It does seem a little incongruous that someone could claim to believe both in God and that the universe was an accident. Perhaps He was playing with His chemistry set?

    Prasit posted:

    Any reference? I just read it somewhere that the proportion of religious people get lower when the education level get higher. For example: Nobel Laureates have less proportion of Christians than the PhD.
    No, I don't have a reference other than my personal observation of people in the churches I have attended and the number of professionals I know who attend other churches or whom I have met at Christian conferences that I have attended.

    Prasit, by the way, does not provide any references for his claims either. The meaning of his example is not quite clear. Does this example mean that there are more PhDs who are Nobel Laureates than there are Christians who are Nobel Laureates? This is not a logical comparison. These are not two similar classes. PhD is a level of education which would include Christians and non-Christians. Christians is a group of people which would include PhDs and other levels of educational achievement. One might note that PhD is a doctorate degree in a specific field of study. There are many other fields which confer equivalent doctorate degrees in other fields of study.

    The church I now attend has approximately 100 or so regular male attendees. Of those, including myself, there are three who I know hold doctorate degrees. I contend that is a higher percentage than the male population in general. In the church I attended prior to that, because of its close affiliation with a college, I am sure the percentage of doctorate degrees would have been even higher. In addition, as I said before, I am personally acquainted with Christians who are medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, college professors, legislators and school teachers. (Just as a contrast, another regular attendee at my church is a Downs Syndrome man who is self supporting.)

    On Christians and magic.

    My dictionary defines magic as "the art of producing effect by seemingly superhuman control over the powers of nature; sorcery; enchantment; any power or influence that proves irresistible or extraordinary; the use of legerdemain to create illusions or perform tricks." Magic connotes trickery, deception and illusion.

    I can understand that non-believer would consider a supernatural occurrence to be magic. However if an occurrence is the result of a supernatural influence, then it is not trickery or deception or illusory. It is a real event with a real cause. If an occurrence is not the result of supernatural influence, it is a natural event. Thus, if there is an actual event, it cannot be the result of magic, but rather the result of a cause.

    The only aspect of the dictionary definition that could possibly be construed as applicable to Godly exercise is “any power or influence that proves irresistible or extraordinary.” However, it would be my contention that if some entity actually had that power, it would not be magic, but an actual supernatural power.

    From my perspective, a supernatural event would not be magic, but a supernatural event. I would not accept that any actual event could be the result of magic. If “it” really happened, “it” had a real cause.
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    daytonturner wrote:
    Prasit, by the way, does not provide any references for his claims either. The meaning of his example is not quite clear. Does this example mean that there are more PhDs who are Nobel Laureates than there are Christians who are Nobel Laureates?
    I mean the % of Christians in the group of Nobel Laureates is less than % of Christians in the group of PhDs, which is turn less than % of Christians the group of undergraduates, and so on.
    As I often see that you can make claim without good reference I think I can respond in kind.

    The church I now attend has approximately 100 or so regular male attendees. Of those, including myself, there are three who I know hold doctorate degrees. I contend that is a higher percentage than the male population in general. In the church I attended prior to that, because of its close affiliation with a college, I am sure the percentage of doctorate degrees would have been even higher.
    The means the poeple in the church is not a good representation of the population. Most likely it is attended by people with proportionately higher level of income people as well. So it is not a good sampling size to validate the claim.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    If the shoe fits. . .
    This is an eloquent example of how rigid ideologies lead to the kind of fascism that allows no middle ground between friend and foe.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Actually what I said, bottom line, was that some people believe the universe is the result of some inexplicable accident. This is called science.
    Only by atheists with no idea what science is or the difference between it and the rhetoric they have turned it into in their own minds.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Some people believe the universe is the result of some purposeful intelligent effort. This is called hogwash religion.
    People like me you mean? This is certainly not what I was calling hogwash. The universe is the result of purposeful intellegent effort. The living organisms in the universe, however, are not the products of design. The universe was designed to make life possible, to make it possible for living organisms to be nutured, raised, bred, guided and taught to realize an astounding diversity and complexity, some of it with purpose, some of it purely creative, but all of it without design (as in planned construction according to specific objectives). Things which are designed only do what they are designed to do, but living things are completely different. They do things for their own reasons and they learn and change and become different than they were. They are not limited like things which are designed because the process of their own creation is a process that is never finished and it is a process in which they participate.

    But that which can learn, can also be taught. And this is how living things are created, not by design, but by a process of participation in their lives, whether we call it cultivation, nurturing, raising, breeding, teaching or parenting. However what does science see when it looks at this process of creation by a creator that is not objectively observable? It only sees the learning, for it cannot see the teaching. It only sees one side of the relationship. It is like a sped up film of a growing plant from pictures taken once an hour. It misses the guy coming in between the frames to water the plant. So where is the hand of God in the creation of living things? Every Christian experiences it for himself in a personal relationship with God as a part of his own re-creation. Science cannot see the hand of God in this either.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    It does seem a little incongruous that someone could claim to believe both in God and that the universe was an accident. Perhaps He was playing with His chemistry set?
    How can you be so blind as to think that the first (that the universe is an accident) has anything to do with me? I defend science because despite its blindness - its extreme tunnel vision - it is still unparalleled in its ability to discover new and unexpected things about the world around us.

    :shake head: :sigh:

    Actually the issue that so many Christians have with the Theory of Evolution is not the ultimate origin of life, because the theory of evolution is not about the ultimate origin of life. It is about the origin of the species. Christians want to maintain that God is the Creator of life and all its variety. The problem is that this variety is always changing. The theory of evolution explains this process. So all the objections by these Christians hang on the precarious supposition that no new species comes into being. LOL :head shake: It is a preposterous position to be in.

    But you see I do believe that God is the Creator of life and all its variety, but not by childish images of medeival necromancy or by design and manufacture. He is the creator of the species in the same way that He is my creator. Am I the result of God mucking around in the mud like so much play doh or breathing life into a concatenation of dust? No. I am a creation of God because God plays a dominant role in the events of my life to shape my character and personality, not by any kind of design but by a personal relationship. YECs apparently believe that God only created Adam and Eve but that they themselves are creations of biology and natural law alone. It is I who truly believe that God is the creator of ALL life and ALL of its variety.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    On Christians and magic.

    My dictionary defines magic as "the art of producing effect by seemingly superhuman control over the powers of nature; sorcery; enchantment; any power or influence that proves irresistible or extraordinary; the use of legerdemain to create illusions or perform tricks." Magic connotes trickery, deception and illusion.

    I can understand that non-believer would consider a supernatural occurrence to be magic. However if an occurrence is the result of a supernatural influence, then it is not trickery or deception or illusory. It is a real event with a real cause. If an occurrence is not the result of supernatural influence, it is a natural event. Thus, if there is an actual event, it cannot be the result of magic, but rather the result of a cause.

    The only aspect of the dictionary definition that could possibly be construed as applicable to Godly exercise is “any power or influence that proves irresistible or extraordinary.” However, it would be my contention that if some entity actually had that power, it would not be magic, but an actual supernatural power.

    From my perspective, a supernatural event would not be magic, but a supernatural event. I would not accept that any actual event could be the result of magic. If “it” really happened, “it” had a real cause.
    "Magic" does not necessarily imply trickery.

    magic

    adj : possessing or using or characteristic of or appropriate to
    supernatural powers; "charming incantations"; "magic
    signs that protect against adverse influence"; "a
    magical spell"; "'tis now the very witching time of
    night"- Shakespeare; "wizard wands"; "wizardly powers"
    [syn: charming, magical, sorcerous, witching,
    wizard, wizardly]

    n 1: any art that invokes supernatural powers

    2: an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers
    [syn: magic trick, conjuring trick, trick, legerdemain,
    illusion, deception]
    If you say special words that influence a supernatural force in order to cause something, that's doing magic.


    magic spell
    n : a verbal formula believed to have magical force; "he
    whispered a spell as he moved his hands"; "inscribed
    around its base is a charm in Balinese"
    Today there is a strong connotation that if something is magic then it is probably trickery, but that's just because many people today take it for granted that there aren't any supernatural forces.
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    Mitchell, I have no doubt about your belief in God and your reliance on His direction in your life.

    I totally agree with Mitchell that the Theory of Evolution does not even address the question of the origin of life. However, my observation is that most people, whether they believe in evolution or reject evolution do not understand this.

    I think many, many people believe in evolution, not because they have any knowledge on the subject, but because they think it validates their rejection of God.

    Mitchell, we seem to diverge on two main points. 1. What was it that God created when He created life, and 2. What has been the role of evolution in developing the diversity and complexity of living plants and animals.

    As I see Mitchell's take on this, he would suggest that God provided the spark which ignited life and, once ignited, life expanded from that little spark into a conflagration of life forms (diverse in type and complexity) through different mechanisms of changes such as mutation, natural selection and adaptation. (This is a vast oversimplification of the Theory of Evolution which I do not even suspect represents the entirety of Mitchell's overall understanding. I reduce it to this only for sake of comparision.)

    I, on the other hand, tend to believe that God had a more complex role in the development of life forms in that He created many specific life forms that were capable of development and alteration within God's own defined perameters. (This is also a vast oversimplification of the totality of my understanding on this issue.)

    I do not reject the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection or adaptation. Rather I question the ability of these mechanisms to have brought forth the multitude of life forms and the complexities of life forms we have observed within the time frame we believe life has existed.

    No one has actually observed all of evolution and no one has actually experienced evolution. We sort through the same available data and make our claims based on those observations as filtered through the rest of our knowledge base, our life experiences and the amount of weight we grant to which pieces of data.
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    Since the topic of evolution and religious beliefs came up...

    I believe in a God-directed evolution. Yet I believe in the Bible (yes, including the creation story). Is this contradictory?
    I mean, if men did evolve from lesser primates, then at what point was man called Adam and at what point Eve? I believe it's at the point where man was able to reason. So if God created Adam before Eve, then was the first evolved rational human male?

    Idk, the whole creation story raises a lot of questions in my mind. It's probably the least-believable part of the Bible.

    Excuse my awkward tone; it's just that I'm trying to figure out the answers to all my questions about the Bible (on my own, because atheists and theists are going to give me biased results). I've answered all but this one...I'll have to resort to atheists and theists to see the various answers, and weigh which one is most likely.

    Edit: I guess the only answer to my question is that God created man similar to lesser primates; i.e. he skipped a few steps in the process science suggests, went directly from lesser primates to rational man (not to say modern man, because the Bible in no way suggests that Adam was a modern man; in fact, he didn't discover fire or the wheel as yet, seeing as he didn't need it in the "Garden").
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    spt wrote:
    I believe in a God-directed evolution.
    Again, you believe without supporting evidence.


    if men did evolve from lesser primates, then at what point was man called Adam and at what point Eve? I believe it's at the point where man was able to reason. So if God created Adam before Eve, then was the first evolved rational human male?
    Other species also have the ability to reason.

    daytonturner wrote:
    I think many, many people believe in evolution, not because they have any knowledge on the subject, but because they think it validates their rejection of God.
    How do you know which come first, belief in evolution and rejection of God?

    I do not reject the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection or adaptation. Rather I question the ability of these mechanisms to have brought forth the multitude of life forms and the complexities of life forms we have observed within the time frame we believe life has existed.
    In your estimate, what should the time frame be in order for evolution mechanisms to bring forth multitude and complexities of life forms we have observed? Kindly provide the basis of your estimation.
    No one has actually observed all of evolution and no one has actually experienced evolution.
    Do you mean, someone has to delivered a brand-new species from her womb before you believe it? Or, based on your understanding of evolution, what kind of experience should we expect to get?
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    When Prasit starts offering proof of any of his claims or beliefs, I might feel compelled to do likewise.

    Actually, I have written on this topic numerous times and I have presented my information which would address Prasit's questions on several occasions. A look through my previous posts would produce those writings.

    I am not disposed to rewrite them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    Mitchell, we seem to diverge on two main points. 1. What was it that God created when He created life, and 2. What has been the role of evolution in developing the diversity and complexity of living plants and animals.
    Yes indeed. We disagree on what life is. You seem to see no real difference between the living and the non-living. Both are simply paintings to be painted by a clever enough painter or machines to be constructed by a capable enough engineer.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    As I see Mitchell's take on this, he would suggest that God provided the spark which ignited life and, once ignited, life expanded from that little spark into a conflagration of life forms (diverse in type and complexity) through different mechanisms of changes such as mutation, natural selection and adaptation. (This is a vast oversimplification of the Theory of Evolution which I do not even suspect represents the entirety of Mitchell's overall understanding. I reduce it to this only for sake of comparision.)
    You are absolutely wrong. A conflagration from a spark is a deterministic process. Life is not. It can only be similar in adverse conditions where the greatest care and effort of the fire builder is required in getting the spark to catch and then to survive the wind and rain. But then when the fire is established the analogy fails, because the potential of life is infinite, the uncertainty on the path to realizing that potential never ends and so the need of someone to care for its fragility also never ends. To put it simply you have completely left out the role of God.

    Evolution is what you get when you look at the process with the peculiar kind of blindness which is characteristic of science, unable to see anything which is not objectively observable.

    I believe in the opposite of the Deist sort of God, who only gets things started. I beleive in a God with a role that is even more involved in the world than the traditional role given to him by Christianity. I believe in a God that does not simply spend seven days creating and then stop, but in a God who has always been creating continuously since the beginning of time.

    How about you? Are you a creation of God or only a creation of physics and biology? Did God stop at the creation of Adam and Eve, so that all the rest of humanity is the product of sin and accident and God merely sits back and observes the result of His little experiment?


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I, on the other hand, tend to believe that God had a more complex role in the development of life forms in that He created many specific life forms that were capable of development and alteration within God's own defined perameters. (This is also a vast oversimplification of the totality of my understanding on this issue.)
    On the other hand, I suggest that you believe that God had a less involved role in the creation of things than I do, and it is your idea of God that is more like that of the Deists.

    The real difficulty between our points of view lies in the distinction I make between the word "design" and the words "result of some purposeful intelligent effort". For you they are the same but for me they are literally the difference between death and life.

    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I do not reject the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection or adaptation. Rather I question the ability of these mechanisms to have brought forth the multitude of life forms and the complexities of life forms we have observed within the time frame we believe life has existed.
    I on the other hand have a great deal of objections with regards to how mutation and natural selection are understood. Studies of mutagenesis (how mutations occur) reveal something rather startling. The idea that DNA carries a blueprint that is modified by radiation and mutagens to produce genetic variation is so wrong as to be ludicrous. First of all the frequency of genetic damage to DNA is far too frequent an occurence to make this workable. With this consideration alone, DNA could not possibly carry any information, let alone for life to be possible at all. The reason why life is possible is because our cells repair this damage with marvelous efficiency. But now we come to the second problem, the efficiency of the mechnanisms by which our cells repair this damage is too great for mutation to ever occur. So why are their mutations? Studies of the effect of radiation on E-coli reveal that in addition to a mechanism to repair DNA it also has mechanisms for preventing that repair. They have a special molecule that attaches itself to damaged DNA in order to prevent the its own repair mechanism from repairing the damage.

    So what is the difference? The difference is that the production of mutation is under the control of the E-coli themselves. This way they can repair severe damage that disables the organism and only allow damage much more selectively in a manner that enhances the survival of the species. There is no evidence that such a mechanism exists in higher life forms and I strongly suspect that it does not, which only means that mutagenesis plays no role at all in the evolution of higher life forms.

    And herein are my biggest criticisms of orthodox evolutionary theory that sees the processes of variation and selection as mechanical processes, whereas I see them as anything but. I see them as intentional and creative rather than mechanical. Even without God in the picture, evolution is still something that is a result of the nature of living things themselves as they exhibit creativity and learning in the way they respond to things. Or to put it another way, evolution is not something that happens to living things but something which living things do.


    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    No one has actually observed all of evolution and no one has actually experienced evolution. We sort through the same available data and make our claims based on those observations as filtered through the rest of our knowledge base, our life experiences and the amount of weight we grant to which pieces of data.
    The funny thing is that all arguments regarding how unlikely it is for evolution to lead to the present state of afairs is not only evidence for your belief that that evolution is not the orgin of the species but also evidence for my view that only the active involvement of God in the process could have produced this result. The atheistic evolutionist would have to either argue that the development of the species was either inevitable or a phenomenal coincidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    I believe in a God-directed evolution. Yet I believe in the Bible (yes, including the creation story). Is this contradictory?
    I mean, if men did evolve from lesser primates, then at what point was man called Adam and at what point Eve? I believe it's at the point where man was able to reason. So if God created Adam before Eve, then was the first evolved rational human male?
    Since we seem to be in the same general category of theistic evolutionist or evolutionary creationsist that believe in an historical Adam and Eve, it is possible that I can be of some assistance.

    I believe that we evolved from lower primates only in terms of our biological inheritance (DNA) and this is why we are 98.3% primate. But that Adam and Eve (possibly orphaned) were adopted by God and raised by God Himself, and that it is what God taught them and what parents have taught children every since which gives birth to the human mind, which is another form of life entirely. Its inheritance, in place of DNA, is quite literaly the word of God (of which the Bible is only a written portion). It is in the way we think of ourselves as persons and treat our children as persons (to encourage them to think of themselves as persons too), wherein lies the nonwritten inheritance which give birth to the human mind.



    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Idk, the whole creation story raises a lot of questions in my mind. It's probably the least-believable part of the Bible.
    It has an undeniable mythical character and yet it plays a fundamental and undeniable theological role in the rest of the Bible. Regardless of its mythical character as part of Genesis its intent is clearly historical. But this does not mean that its intent is scientific or to explain in any detail at all how God accomplished the creation of things. Therefore, while manifestly historical, the mythical characteristics suggest that this is not to be taken literally in its details. Just as the snake is not a talking snake but an angel, so also are the trees with their fantastical names not actually trees and the means by which Adam and Eve are created are more homiletical than descriptive of any actual process.



    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    I'll have to resort to atheists and theists to see the various answers, and weigh which one is most likely.
    Precisely my own methodology, whereas "most likely" means that which is most consistent with my personal experience of life.



    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Edit: I guess the only answer to my question is that God created man similar to lesser primates; i.e. he skipped a few steps in the process science suggests, went directly from lesser primates to rational man (not to say modern man, because the Bible in no way suggests that Adam was a modern man; in fact, he didn't discover fire or the wheel as yet, seeing as he didn't need it in the "Garden").
    I tend to put Adam and Eve at between 6000 and 10000 years ago, just before the dates assigned to the earliest archeological evidence of cities. For in my case the biological evidence is irrelevant, because it is not our biological form which makes us who and what we are but our mental form, which I expect to have had an immediate and dramatic effect on the way people lived.
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    daytonturner wrote:
    When Prasit starts offering proof of any of his claims or beliefs, I might feel compelled to do likewise.

    Actually, I have written on this topic numerous times and I have presented my information which would address Prasit's questions on several occasions. A look through my previous posts would produce those writings.

    I am not disposed to rewrite them.
    I have not stated any claims or beliefs. But my beliefs are with the mainstream scientific theories such as evolution and Big Bang. So I do not feel the need to offer proof. Unless Daytonturner demands so.

    Daytonturner, on the other hand, makes some claims that contradicts the current scientifc theories, or claims that are derived from personal observation of limit samples. Prasit then feels the needs to ask for more evidence or proofs. However, if Daytonturner feels not disposed to write or rewrite them in this thread. Then Prasit feels that his own beliefs are undoubtedly confirmed.
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    Ah, I think I sort of now partially understand Mitchell's position -- that God's creative intervention into nature has taken place at every step of evolution and continues to take place even today.

    This idea I can grab on to and embrace as a reasonable explanation, if I have finally grasped Mitchell's overall picture of evolution.

    Without trying to put words in Mitchell's mouth, I sense that he is saying that each life form was individually designed and created by God. Thus, if God were, say, working on the cat family, He would not have been saying to himself, "Hmmm, I wonder what happens if I tweak this gene here and move this amino acid of DNA over here." Rather, he would have been saying, "Ok, if I take this gene and make this alteration, I will now have a spotted leopard."

    But even further, I think Mitchell may be suggesting that God even today individually crafts every living thing. This would make God a very personal God who has specifically designed each person.

    I find this to be an interesting explanation which has a tendency to provide some answers to questions that scientific evolution does not seem answer to the satisfaction of all.

    I can also see that God would have realized that He could not start off with all the animals at the same time. The "simpler" one-celled plants and animals would be necessary to prepare conditions for increasingly more complex plants and animals. God would also have known what plants and animals were appropriate for the living conditions on earth at different times, thus accounting for dinosaurs being here when the environment was most suitable to large reptiles.

    Also, allowing God the freedom to have creative spurts and slowdowns also would explain the fits and starts we find in the fossil records and the Cambrian layer. These show periods of time in which there were explosions of new life forms and other periods in which there were very few new life forms coming on to the scene.

    I think this position would overall agree with scientific evolution in the areas results and timing, but would disagree with scientific evolution in the causative.

    I am not sure quite how all this fits into Mitchell's apparent disdain for Intelligent Design, unless his position is that Intelligent Design may be correct, but that it is not science.

    Anyway, I do find Mitchell's approach to this topic (as well as other topics) far superior to those who come on and scorn the thoughts of others with criticism and contempt while offering no thoughts of their own.
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    But even further, I think Mitchell may be suggesting that God even today individually crafts every living thing. This would make God a very personal God who has specifically designed each person.
    I am not here to scorn your agreements, just to help toss the ball I guess. But, if God crafts every living being today, then the gene lines must have been setup initially to follow an inevitable path of hereditariness for each individual to be as He wishes. But, if this is true, is it provable? Wasn't this also a belief of long time past before the time of Darwin, except without the knowledge of genes(I do not recall the label for the belief)?

    Also, allowing God the freedom to have creative spurts and slowdowns also would explain the fits and starts we find in the fossil records and the Cambrian layer. These show periods of time in which there were explosions of new life forms and other periods in which there were very few new life forms coming on to the scene.
    Would the 'creative spurt' theory really explain anything? It is after all, just a complete and total assumption.

    I will not say there is no God. I will not agree to His inexistence until I die and nothing is there(in which case my conscious will not exist and I will have no logic or self being to make a statement to myself anymore), or He is proven inexistent beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just saying this to let you know that I do not challenge the above quotes to disprove God.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I am not sure quite how all this fits into Mitchell's apparent disdain for Intelligent Design, unless his position is that Intelligent Design may be correct, but that it is not science.

    Without trying to put words in Mitchell's mouth, I sense that he is saying that each life form was individually designed and created by God. Thus, if God were, say, working on the cat family, He would not have been saying to himself, "Hmmm, I wonder what happens if I tweak this gene here and move this amino acid of DNA over here." Rather, he would have been saying, "Ok, if I take this gene and make this alteration, I will now have a spotted leopard."
    Ok so your example would indeed be more like intellegent design than what I am talking about. So since we are trying out concrete examples let me try the same thing. On the biggest scale God's intervention might be something like, "ok this dinosaur trend is out of hand and going nowhere so let toss down a meteor and get them out of the way." On a smaller scale it might be, "this group of primates has potential, but no drive, so let encourage a lion into their midst to see if we can encourage the developement of some problem solving skills" (since those that fail to handle the problem no longer contribute to gene pool, we get a small shift in the gene pool, ergo evolution).

    The point is the God does not work inside of the creatures interfering with the operation of life but outside of them as part of their environment. This is the difference between God in the role of a designer and God in the role of a teacher (or even in the role of a shepherd culling the herd).



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    But even further, I think Mitchell may be suggesting that God even today individually crafts every living thing. This would make God a very personal God who has specifically designed each person.
    Ok let me ask if you would say that you designed your own children? Of course not, right? And therein lies my objection to the word "design". But even though our parents do not design us, nevertheless, how much of what we are comes from who they are and the time and love which they invested in us? I see the same kind of relationship between God and every living thing. And is this not exactly what we experience as Christians in a personal relationship with God? Furthermore I am claiming that this is the only way that living things can be created, because this is a part of what means to be alive.

    Of course this is likely to raise the inevitable question, among Christians, of what difference then does the personal relatioship with God that we experience in Christianity make? There is a big difference and that is awareness. A personal relationship that involves our own awarness of what is happening has a potential and effectiveness that far exceeds what we had before. Through the first (non-aware relationship), God may bring us to the point where we can make a choice for the closer, aware relationship with Him that is neccessary for our salvation. Some might call the first relationship the operation of Grace to bring us to repentance and justification, while the second relationship is the more cooperative work of sanctification.



    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I find this to be an interesting explanation which has a tendency to provide some answers to questions that scientific evolution does not seem answer to the satisfaction of all.

    I can also see that God would have realized that He could not start off with all the animals at the same time. The "simpler" one-celled plants and animals would be necessary to prepare conditions for increasingly more complex plants and animals. God would also have known what plants and animals were appropriate for the living conditions on earth at different times, thus accounting for dinosaurs being here when the environment was most suitable to large reptiles.

    Also, allowing God the freedom to have creative spurts and slowdowns also would explain the fits and starts we find in the fossil records and the Cambrian layer. These show periods of time in which there were explosions of new life forms and other periods in which there were very few new life forms coming on to the scene.

    I think this position would overall agree with scientific evolution in the areas results and timing, but would disagree with scientific evolution in the causative.
    Ok, now part of the point here, is that the hand of God in all this is no more visible than the hand of God in the life of a Christian. And in fact, my theory would NOT disagree with evolution according to the limited ideas of causation in physics. This is NOT a God of the gaps theory that I am putting forward here, instead you could say it is a God of "coincidence" and "happenstance" theory. Let us be perfectly clear, that unlike ID, I in no way claim that what I am putting forward here is anything like a valid scientific theory! But just because it isn't a valid scientific theory does not mean that it isn't true. It does however suggest that the history of evolution is very far from inevitable, and that the development of intellegent life in particular was very dependent on a series of many unlikely events.

    I believe the creative spurts you talk about are well explained, by two things. The first is the development of new techniques of genetic variation, such as the development of sexual reproduction. I think this or some modification of sexual reproduction that made it more effective, is behind the Cambrian explosion. The second is that large populations experience very little genetic drift. Therefore we would see the greatest and fastest evolutionary developments in very small populations on the brink of extinction. (This would also be where some of those unlikely events that I talked about above might be found). Just coincidentally this is also where we would expect a complete absense of fossil evidence.
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    Obviously, Mitchell has a good grasp of his well developed concept of how God has been involved the the process of evolution.

    I think my concepts are, unfortunately more like the atheists concepts in that I am far more aware of and directed by what I don't believe than I am by what I do believe.

    Nano's comments are well taken if he understands what I was saying was my attempt to understand what Mitchell was expressing and doing so in an effort to stimulate further elucidation on the topic.

    So, what I said was not necessarily anything that anyone believes and the subsequent post by Mitchell brings out further clarification on those points.

    My position is that while I might not buy, hook-line-and sinker, everything Mitchell as posted on this subject I am far from offended by his ability to meld evolution and God into a single concept of the development of life.

    I think the biggest difference I would notice (at this point) is that Mitchell tends to present the process as either one of trial and error or as being a developed-as-we-go process. My thinking would be that it whatever occurred, it was done from a blueprint that was drawn up prior to the beginning and has never needed to be revised nor deviated from.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    I think the biggest difference I would notice (at this point) is that Mitchell tends to present the process as either one of trial and error or as being a developed-as-we-go process. My thinking would be that it whatever occurred, it was done from a blueprint that was drawn up prior to the beginning and has never needed to be revised nor deviated from.
    That is correct. And while it does not bother me in the least that you have your own point of view, I would ask you to consider that my way is manifestly and demonstrably the way that God operates in the case of mankind, both in the Bible and in the lives of Christians. It is not a matter of doing things without knowing what you are doing, it is simply the way things are with children and other living things. No matter how well you know the way that they should do things, they often have their own (crazy) ideas. I guess the important question here is whether you buy into my own belief that free will is not exclusive to human being but a fundamental property of all living things. I am not denying that human being are different from the animals but as far as free will and being alive I am claiming that it is a quantitative rather than a qualitative difference.
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    Considering that the Buddha is thought by scholars to have been an atheist and certainly many Ancient Greek intellectuals were, it seems to me that there is no reason to even ask your question.

    Last century was the first in human history, as far as we know, in which a whole society was run by atheists---and still is: the East Asian Marxist powers. This is a so-called "secular religion", one of atheistm!

    Religions do not have to involve a god or even "spirits" at all in order to be an effective world-view and way of thinking---at least effetive enough to have survived in one form or another now, as a society, for 90 years.

    I'm betting on something better than Marxism to attach onto atheism and be the real "wave of the future."

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    I totally agree with Mitchell that the Theory of Evolution does not even address the question of the origin of life. However, my observation is that most people, whether they believe in evolution or reject evolution do not understand this.

    I think many, many people believe in evolution, not because they have any knowledge on the subject, but because they think it validates their rejection of God.
    Yes, evolution does not explain how life originated, it is a theory of speciation and adaptation. It certainly does not disprove the existence of God, but even if it does not disprove God's involvement in the inception of life it provides a sufficient (in the strong literal sense) explanation of how complex life arose. It is testable and despite the opinions of some ID proponents can and has been observed. Evolution by natural selection does not require divine intervention and so while not proof against God proves that his Hand is unnecessary so does in fact validate a person's rejection of His role in evolution.

    One of the most important aspects (I think) of evolution is that it is undirected. This is because mutations are random. It has direction as a result of natural selection which is not random, it is a strong function of the environment. But while long term trends do appear, the direction evolution takes at any one instance is purely based on the present situation. There is no foresight involved, no long term goal. I tend not to even view natural selection as a process as such but more of a consequence of the way inheritance, survival and reproduction work.

    As for the suggestion that evolution has *advanced* life from simple structures to more complexity consider that the earth is still dominated by very simple forms of life such as bacteria that are no more complex than those around in the early stages of life on earth. But still has there been an increase in complexity? Yes. This is because you have a random process of evolution that began with life at or very near to it's lower bound, the only way was up (in complexity), or to level off, or go up for a while then down again but there is a limit to how simple something can be and still be classed as life (think of viruses which straddle the boundary).

    Everybody who has posted seems at least to agree on the mechanisms of inheritance, mutation and natural selection so let's assume God is controlling things but He has to play by His own natural laws (I refuse to accept arguments on supernatural basis, if there is a God why would he not be as natural as the rest of the universe?). The only window He has, and this seems to have been suggested, is in hand tuning mutations. So how and where in the DNA replication process or germ cell production (mitosis and meiosis?) might God impose His will?

    The funny thing is that all arguments regarding how unlikely it is for evolution to lead to the present state of afairs is not only evidence for your belief that that evolution is not the orgin of the species but also evidence for my view that only the active involvement of God in the process could have produced this result. The atheistic evolutionist would have to either argue that the development of the species was either inevitable or a phenomenal coincidence.
    This is one of the most prevalent criticisms of evolutionary theory and is completely baseless. You can't reflect on an enormous number of causal events and say "wow, what were the odds, it could not have happened by chance". The odds of our current situation were just as good as any other eventuality, if you dealt out a deck of shuffled cards would you sit and gape in wonder at the sequence laying on the table and how unlikely it was to get *that exact sequence*? You need to break these things down. What are the chances that among a population of 1 billion photosynthesizing single celled organisms 100 will have a slightly different gene that codes for the production of a chemical that is 0.01% more efficient at photosynthesis and so have more energy and reproduce at a higher rate?. And given that the same rules apply over millions of millions of years and the effects are heritable from one generation to the next how unlikely is it that a distant descendant happens to be a walrus?
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    Everybody who has posted seems at least to agree on the mechanisms of inheritance, mutation and natural selection so let's assume God is controlling things but He has to play by His own natural laws (I refuse to accept arguments on supernatural basis, if there is a God why would he not be as natural as the rest of the universe?). The only window He has, and this seems to have been suggested, is in hand tuning mutations. So how and where in the DNA replication process or germ cell production (mitosis and meiosis?) might God impose His will?
    First of all, you should read more of the thread for your simplistic ideas of the role of mutation in evolution are mistaken.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I on the other hand have a great deal of objections with regards to how mutation and natural selection are understood. Studies of mutagenesis (how mutations occur) reveal something rather startling. The idea that DNA carries a blueprint that is modified by radiation and mutagens to produce genetic variation is so wrong as to be ludicrous. First of all the frequency of genetic damage to DNA is far too frequent an occurence to make this workable. With this consideration alone, DNA could not possibly carry any information, let alone for life to be possible at all. The reason why life is possible is because our cells repair this damage with marvelous efficiency. But now we come to the second problem, the efficiency of the mechnanisms by which our cells repair this damage is too great for mutation to ever occur. So why are their mutations? Studies of the effect of radiation on E-coli reveal that in addition to a mechanism to repair DNA it also has mechanisms for preventing that repair. They have a special molecule that attaches itself to damaged DNA in order to prevent the its own repair mechanism from repairing the damage.

    So what is the difference? The difference is that the production of mutation is under the control of the E-coli themselves. This way they can repair severe damage that disables the organism and only allow damage much more selectively in a manner that enhances the survival of the species. There is no evidence that such a mechanism exists in higher life forms and I strongly suspect that it does not, which only means that mutagenesis plays no role at all in the evolution of higher life forms.

    And herein are my biggest criticisms of orthodox evolutionary theory that sees the processes of variation and selection as mechanical processes, whereas I see them as anything but. I see them as intentional and creative rather than mechanical. Even without God in the picture, evolution is still something that is a result of the nature of living things themselves as they exhibit creativity and learning in the way they respond to things. Or to put it another way, evolution is not something that happens to living things but something which living things do.

    I do not believe in God as a designer who interferes and controls the processes of life but who acts only as an environmental influence like a farmer, teacher or parent. So I don't believe in such a mechanical inferference by God but only as one who takes care to prevent favored organism from being extinguished by ill chance and to provides the necessarly environmental stimulus to encourage some living organisms to make the right choices.


    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    The funny thing is that all arguments regarding how unlikely it is for evolution to lead to the present state of afairs is not only evidence for your belief that that evolution is not the orgin of the species but also evidence for my view that only the active involvement of God in the process could have produced this result. The atheistic evolutionist would have to either argue that the development of the species was either inevitable or a phenomenal coincidence.
    This is one of the most prevalent criticisms of evolutionary theory and is completely baseless. You can't reflect on an enormous number of causal events and say "wow, what were the odds, it could not have happened by chance". The odds of our current situation were just as good as any other eventuality, if you dealt out a deck of shuffled cards would you sit and gape in wonder at the sequence laying on the table and how unlikely it was to get *that exact sequence*? You need to break these things down. What are the chances that among a population of 1 billion photosynthesizing single celled organisms 100 will have a slightly different gene that codes for the production of a chemical that is 0.01% more efficient at photosynthesis and so have more energy and reproduce at a higher rate?. And given that the same rules apply over millions of millions of years and the effects are heritable from one generation to the next how unlikely is it that a distant descendant happens to be a walrus?
    The only problem is that what I said was not intended as a criticism of evolution at all. The scientific theory is valid. But this is a discussion which exceeds the bounds of scientific theory, as any discussion which includes the idea of God must be, for God is not objectively observable. We have no idea where in the specrum of probability lies the development of higher forms of life on this planet between inevitability and the extremely unlikely (like 10^-100 which science would simple call impossible for all practical purposes). Atheists would favor something more towards inevitability while those who believe that all life on this planet is the result of the creative efforts of God would favor something more towards the extremely unlikely(inwhich case God plays the role of stacking the deck).
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    First of all, you should read more of the thread for your simplistic ideas of the role of mutation in evolution are mistaken.
    In asexual reproduction mutation in the DNA of germ-line cells is the only way for evolution to take place. In sexual reproduction the mix of genes inherited from the parents is obviously important to individual organisms but in order to add new genes to the gene pool mutation must still occur in germ-line cells. This may be simplistic and you may disagree but it is reasonably well informed and widely accepted.

    You clearly have a confused view of how mutations are inherited. The mutations caused by radiation etc in the somatic (not involved in reproduction) cells of an organism do not pass on to offspring and so the repair mechanisms you refer to have no effect on evolution except that they are helpful in keeping an organism alive and healthy long enough to reproduce.

    I do not believe in God as a designer who interferes and controls the processes of life but who acts only as an environmental influence like a farmer, teacher or parent. So I don't believe in such a mechanical inferference by God but only as one who takes care to prevent favored organism from being extinguished by ill chance and to provides the necessarly environmental stimulus to encourage some living organisms to make the right choices.
    So He doesn't interfere but just "influences" organisms decisions and gives His favourites a charmed life? Are our thoughts not emergent of mechanical processes in the brain?

    The only problem is that what I said was not intended as a criticism of evolution at all. The scientific theory is valid. But this is a discussion which exceeds the bounds of scientific theory, as any discussion which includes the idea of God must be, for God is not objectively observable. We have no idea where in the specrum of probability lies the development of higher forms of life on this planet between inevitability and the extremely unlikely (like 10^-100 which science would simple call impossible for all practical purposes). Atheists would favor something more towards inevitability while those who believe that all life on this planet is the result of the creative efforts of God would favor something more towards the extremely unlikely(inwhich case God plays the role of stacking the deck).
    I wasn't quite clear in that I meant the theory of evolution without divine intervention (or even influence) is not discredited by the seemingly enormous odds against it. I'm an atheist and I would favour very high odds over inevitability in the case of life emerging and reaching say the level of bacteria but then I would see the development from here to more complex forms as very likely.

    If you invoke God in terms of His influences that are objectively observable and use natural mechanisms then I don't see why a theory involving God must lie outside scientific boundaries. It's not your inclusion of God that I believe diminishes the credibility of your theory, it is your inability or disinclination to show that the conventional theory doesn't work without Him or to suggest specific, natural, observable ways in which he "teaches" and "guides" etc and also the fact that in order to make room for Him you bastardize evolutionary theory without good arguments against the parts you wish to change or omit. Your argument also reeks of old fashioned lineal evolutionary views in which we and perhaps a few other "higher forms" are a culmination of evolutionary trends towards some perfect blueprint.

    Maybe I'm wrong in my impression that you are trying to present a theory that is not strictly scientific but at least compatible with biology and evolutionary theory?
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    In asexual reproduction mutation in the DNA of germ-line cells is the only way for evolution to take place. In sexual reproduction the mix of genes inherited from the parents is obviously important to individual organisms but in order to add new genes to the gene pool mutation must still occur in germ-line cells. This may be simplistic and you may disagree but it is reasonably well informed and widely accepted.

    You clearly have a confused view of how mutations are inherited. The mutations caused by radiation etc in the somatic (not involved in reproduction) cells of an organism do not pass on to offspring and so the repair mechanisms you refer to have no effect on evolution except that they are helpful in keeping an organism alive and healthy long enough to reproduce.
    You just contradicted yourself showing that it is you who do not understand. Mutations are not inherited ONLY when we are talking about organisms with sexual reproduction, for they are the only ones with a separation between somatic and reproductive cells. I stated quite clearly that this mechanism for controlling the effects of radiation was found in E-coli that is a bacterium which multiplies by division and not by sexual reproduction.

    Tsk tsk and you looked so hard for a bit technobabble to make it sound like you knew what you were talking about. Anyway your failures to actually read and understand what I wrote while you go and make stupid claims that I do not understand what I am talking about is frankly a little tiresome so just forget the whole issue.



    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    So He doesn't interfere but just "influences" organisms decisions and gives His favourites a charmed life?
    no comment. You can paint what I said however you like, but doing so does not provides me with the slightest inclination to explain anything to you any further. If you really have any interest, I have numerous posts all over this forum and the internet that you can hunt down yourself and read.



    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    Are our thoughts not emergent of mechanical processes in the brain?
    Wow you are jumping around! You must be a rather divergent thinker.

    There is nothing mechanical about the processes of MY brain. MY thoughts, ideas, values and personality are dynamic structures of information flow in my brain, that have all the characteristics of a living organism in its own right. I think this is true of a lot of people and that is why they have a word for it. They it the mind. It is of course always possible that some human beings do not have a mind, so feel perfectly free not to believe you have any such thing.



    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    If you invoke God in terms of His influences that are objectively observable and use natural mechanisms then I don't see why a theory involving God must lie outside scientific boundaries.
    I already told you. Because God is not objectively observable. The fact that people say God is responsible for this or that doesn't make Him objectively observable if there is no way to demonstrate their claims objectively. No doubt you want to make this some sort of proof that they are delusional just as they want to make your denial of what is perfectly obvious to them into a proof that you are delusional. Well if you want to participate in such pointless rhetoric that is your problem. I am just not interested.



    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    It's not your inclusion of God that I believe diminishes the credibility of your theory, it is your inability or disinclination to show that the conventional theory doesn't work without Him or to suggest specific, natural, observable ways in which he "teaches" and "guides" etc and also the fact that in order to make room for Him you bastardize evolutionary theory without good arguments against the parts you wish to change or omit.
    Christians believe that God teaches them things all time. I am merely suggesting to other Christians that God can play the same role with all living things and that God is limited to such a role in the creation of living things, with the result that all that is objectively observable is exactly what is described in the scientific theory of evolution. Since this is my objective, I do no see why I would be inclined to "show that the conventional theory doesn't work". The only substantial objective difference is the matter of probabilities and I stated quite clearly that I do not see any way of calculating the probabilities involved.

    I also already stated quite clearly how predictable the opinion of an atheist regarding those probabilities would be. So why would your opinions on the matter be of significance except to confirm what I already said?



    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    Your argument also reeks of old fashioned lineal evolutionary views in which we and perhaps a few other "higher forms" are a culmination of evolutionary trends towards some perfect blueprint.
    I could say a lot of things about what your words reek of, but I will let you be the one to indulge your imaginary/metaphorical senses. Frankly your attempt to imagine that you somehow know what I believe smacks of some belief in psychic abilities or an incurable habit of jumping to ridiculous conclusions. I don't believe in any such nonsense and you haven't shown sufficient respect to make me even want to share my views on the matter. You seem to want to put me in one of your enemy categories so you can bring all your usual weapons to bear. Take your tired boring war somewhere else.



    Quote Originally Posted by wonkothesane
    Maybe I'm wrong in my impression that you are trying to present a theory that is not strictly scientific but at least compatible with biology and evolutionary theory?
    Maybe I am wrong in my impression that you are trolling around for your favorite quary and an excuse to trash them in order to boost your ego. Maybe I am wrong in my impression that you strut around convinced that the theory of evolution is your own personal badge of righteousness. See how obnoxiously insulting I am in response to something that was not even insulting but only insufferably condescending? I just wanted to make it crystal clear that I really could care less what you think of me. So you can answer your own question all by yourself and stick it.
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    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Wonkothesane's belief in an abstract diety that does not alter natural cause and effect does not in the least irritate me, a confirmed atheist, but it appears to be a big insult to you, Mitchel..! You fence with him as if you were wanted to kill him!

    What is important in this science forum, it seems to me, is that we all who are free thinkers have a common cause against those who would believe "God" alters cause and effect (such as to tempt us, punish us and/or respond to prayers)."

    charles, http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com
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