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Thread: Should Atheism be Part of the Education Curriculum?

  1. #1 Should Atheism be Part of the Education Curriculum? 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Or at least given a chance to refute everything religion has to offer. We're supposedly a forward thinking society, why not give students a chance to at least hear the counter arguments to religion at a young age? If educational institutions insist on preaching or teaching religion within their walls then why isn't the atheistic viewpoint allowed equal time.

    When I went to university I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of my professors were of the atheistic persuasion. Many during their lectures, seminars and labs would expound on a society without a god. To a young kid out of high school, being allowed to voice an atheistic opinion without fear of ending up in the principal's office or of being expelled was something I never expected. I had the opinion that people of intellect were a lot smarter than I figured they'd be. If university students can talk openly about atheism then why is it so damn hard to do so in the elementary and secondary grades?

    It has to be the school system's fear of parents that prevents atheism from being part of the pre-college curriculum. College kids cross that magic age barrier into adulthood and the parents back off. At least that's how I see it. I feel sorry for young kids because the message is clearly to have them indoctrinated without negative interference before they reach an adult status (i'e. college kid). Its wrong.


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    I agree


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  4. #3 Re: Should Atheism be Part of the Education Curriculum? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    If university students can talk openly about atheism then why is it so damn hard to do so in the elementary and secondary grades?
    Well, what do you know. It is not only the religious who want their religious opinions taught in public schools.

    The reason you can't teach it in elementary and secondary school is because it is a public school and no parent wants their kids to be force fed somebody else's beliefs. In the university, they have a choice of where to send their kids, so it is not the same.
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  5. #4 Re: Should Atheism be Part of the Education Curriculum? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    If university students can talk openly about atheism then why is it so damn hard to do so in the elementary and secondary grades?
    Well, what do you know. It is not only the religious who want their religious opinions taught in public schools.

    The reason you can't teach it in elementary and secondary school is because it is a public school and no parent wants their kids to be force fed somebody else's beliefs. In the university, they have a choice of where to send their kids, so it is not the same.
    but there quite happy to force feed there beliefs on their children and have the pastor/preacher/priest do the same.
    children should be allowed to grow without being forced to follow anything and when they reach an age (around 10-12) then and only then should they be taught religion and alternate religions, anti religion etc, to discern for themselves what is truth.
    it is child abuse to put fear in a childs heart, "do this or you will go to hell and burn forever" "be good or the devil will get you" "god is watching you" child abuse no doubt about it.

    and to the OP you cant teach atheism, it is what you are naturally, what need to be done is religion taken out of schools entirely, or at least taught as mythology, we all love mythological stories, Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, Jesus, Moses, etc...
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense - Buddha"
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    So the parants solution is to "shield" them from further knowledge on different views upon the universe and such. I don't understand why atheism is supposedly so "dangerous" to teach at a young age. Children should know what choices are out there, other than their parants, and learn about them. (Atheism isn't a belief btw)

    (My #200 post btw )
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    what do you mean by "atheism is not a belief"? It is a specific claim about the universe, that no entity that you could rationally call god exists and as such counts as a belief about the universe in my books.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    in this comparison
    belief = sausages.
    sausages comes in different flavors. you have grill sausages, bacon, cheese,
    wiener, and even chicken sausages.
    lets say each flavor represents a different religion.
    you're saying atheism is a different sausage flavour.
    while obviously says atheism is when there is no sausage.

    lets make another comparison.

    lets say christianity weights 10kg.
    islam weights 12kg, hinduism weights 14kg etc.

    by this definition, agnostiscism weights about 2kg,
    and atheism weights 0kg.
    it can also be written as "atheism has no weight".
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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    Sorry, i'm not buying that analogy for longer then one bockwurst. No not having an opinion on the matter would count as a 0kg sausage in your story but atheism does have a position on the matter (else what would you have to talk about or teach?). It makes a claim, one that should be defended.

    If you say god exists, you must prove it. If you say god does not exist, you must prove that. If you say the question of gods existence is meaningless then that requires proof. The only position that does not require proof is the one which claims that you don't have a clue.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    You can't prove nonexistence.......... Or, well, you can prove it by proving there is no evidence for existence.

    dejawolf's analogy makes perfect sence.
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    you can in this case though, as a gods existence is usually claimed to be necessary and that is a logical claim which is open to contradiction. There is a reason that the philosophy of religion is still an active area of philosophical research and thought.

    As the old maxim goes, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. Unless you are supporting a weakened form of atheism that claims that there is no evidence of gods existence? However, most atheists claim something stronger - and every claim is open to the request for proof.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    Logical claim? It is logical to assume somthing immensly complex as the beginning of everyhting? God is an fallacious and illogical explanation.
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    Um necessary existence is a logical claim. You do know what that means right or must i cover some logic 101 stuff here?
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    If religion and atheism are expressed relative and in absolute terms to each other, you could make the claim for atheism to not be a valid subject as a counter to religion, since it is the lack of belief. But as part of a greater philosophy of life, the universe and our place in it, then they are on equal footing.

    So to clarify, if a class in school is named "Life Philosophy", then they could be taught as different aspects of possible life philosophies. Then, no favouritism. Children can make up their own minds.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    Um necessary existence is a logical claim. You do know what that means right or must i cover some logic 101 stuff here?
    You mean wishful thinking. No, it is not logical. Complexity comes from simplicity. If you assume something more complex to create something less complex, you would have an infinite loop of more and more complex explanations. It's called a logical fallacy.
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    Complexity comes from simplicity
    Nice catch phrase, now can you prove that? All i am seeing is a lot of circular reasoning here.

    So you have no idea what it means for something's existence to be necessary? Ignorance is not something to be ashamed of, but being determined to stay ignorant through arrogance really gets up my nose Obviously.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    Complexity comes from simplicity
    Nice catch phrase, now can you prove that? All i am seeing is a lot of circular reasoning here.

    So you have no idea what it means for something's existence to be necessary? Ignorance is not something to be ashamed of, but being determined to stay ignorant through arrogance really gets up my nose Obviously.
    Evolution.
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    Um, so evolution gives proof that all complexity comes from simplicity (or how ever you put it). The proof of fermat's last theorem is complex, what does evolution show there?

    Remember, biological evolution tends to be limited to the biological realm.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    Um, so evolution gives proof that all complexity comes from simplicity (or how ever you put it). The proof of fermat's last theorem is complex, what does evolution show there?

    Remember, biological evolution tends to be limited to the biological realm.
    Simplicity evolves to complexity, complexity evolves to more complexity etc. Why is fermat's last theorem relevant here?
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    When I speak to groups I present creation and evolution, I also speak on each religion (including non-religion) so that my audience has opposing viewpoints to choose from. I let people know what I beleive but I don't criticise (ususally, I'm not perfect) those who disagree with me. So at least when I'm in classrooms I do speak not just my religion but the alternatives as well.

    You can't force someone to believe something. They have to choose it and believe for themselves.
    If we disagree then you must be right...
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    Point 1. What is more complex, an amoeba or a person according to your thesis?

    Point 2. Nothing in evolution drives anything to complexity, if anything it limits complexity. This is the reason you do not find animals with wheels for example.

    Point 3. You are making a grand sweeping statement about all things complex and simple. I presented you with something complex and your statement fell short, which suggests your statement is mistaken.

    Point 4. What does evolution and the existence of a god have to do with anything? Are you trying to imply that a god must be biological or what?

    Point 5. You still haven't answered my earlier questions.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    Point 1. What is more complex, an amoeba or a person according to your thesis?

    A person

    Point 2. Nothing in evolution drives anything to complexity, if anything it limits complexity. This is the reason you do not find animals with wheels for example.

    I didn't mean complexity as an encumbrance. I meant complexity as in a more complex build. As one organism evolves to be a more complex organism or more adaptive/better.

    Point 3. You are making a grand sweeping statement about all things complex and simple. I presented you with something complex and your statement fell short, which suggests your statement is mistaken.

    If you mean fermat's last theorem, which you brought up, I must honestly say this is the first time I've heard of it. That's why I didn't understand why it was relevant to your argument. If you could please elaborate or explain what it signifies?

    Point 4. What does evolution and the existence of a god have to do with anything? Are you trying to imply that a god must be biological or what?

    Well, consciousness isn't as far as we know something separate from the brain. It would be most logical to assume that consciousness is a product of our brain, and without the brain, consciousness ceases to exist.

    Point 5. You still haven't answered my earlier questions.

    I'm sorry if I missed something. Could you please point out what question I missed?
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    1. Then you would be contradicting almost every evolutionary biologist i have met. We are on the same "complexity" step of the ladder according to evolution. This is because we are both around now, which puts us at the same level of the tree.

    2. But becoming better adapted is not the same as becoming complex. These are different ideas entirely.

    3. What fermat's last theorem states is not important. I used it to point out that your idea of evolution and complexity being linked is severely flawed as the two have nothing to do with one another.

    4. You are putting the cart before the horse here. Lets suppose our conciousness is linked to our brains (which is not a given but lets not argue over the philosophy of the mind) this does not imply that if you do not have a biological brain you cannot be concious. Do you believe a computer could not be concious for example? You are reversing the implication "I have a brain => I have a mind" which is a logical fallacy.

    5. Are you supporting weak or strong atheism here? Do you understand what necessary existence entails? etc
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    1. Then you would be contradicting almost every evolutionary biologist i have met. We are on the same "complexity" step of the ladder according to evolution. This is because we are both around now, which puts us at the same level of the tree.

    Yes, then forgive my mistake. I was actually going to respond "it depends on the evolutionary tree", but I doubt you'll believe me But all the complex lifeforms came ultimately from simple lifeforms. I did mention furhter on what I meant by complex, as in better. Also our mind is highly evolved and very much more complex than other living beings for example.

    2. But becoming better adapted is not the same as becoming complex. These are different ideas entirely.

    I was a little unsure about that one, that's why I wrote it like this "adaptive/better."

    3. What fermat's last theorem states is not important. I used it to point out that your idea of evolution and complexity being linked is severely flawed as the two have nothing to do with one another.

    Don't they? The single celled organism evolved and became a more complex multicellular organism. Is this fallacious?

    4. You are putting the cart before the horse here. Lets suppose our conciousness is linked to our brains (which is not a given but lets not argue over the philosophy of the mind) this does not imply that if you do not have a biological brain you cannot be concious. Do you believe a computer could not be concious for example? You are reversing the implication "I have a brain => I have a mind" which is a logical fallacy.

    Computers can be conscious if we made them capable of learning and such. All it takes is for us is to make the computers respond like we do, simulate feelings, etc. That is a form of consciousness, right? Even though the computer might simulate feelings and such, who are we to say we don't?

    5. Are you supporting weak or strong atheism here? Do you understand what necessary existence entails? etc

    I would think I support strong atheism here. Existence entails (for me) something that's within our reality. Something observable or verifiable.
    I'm probably going to end up confusing myself...
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    The government shouldn't be teaching people about religion one way or the other. If the government teaches kids about christianity etc. in school, then they should teach atheism too - but it's best for them to leave it alone completely.
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    Okay, I'm going to side step the debate between River Rat and Obviously, to input my two cents.

    Now, I do feel that if relgious values are imparterd in public school, (which there is no escaping. Many teachers of religious orientation preach religious values to their pupils, wether or not they realize it.) atheism should recieve equal face time, it only makes sense.

    Part of the problem is the "Invisible Age Barrier" which was mentioned. On the whole, it is generally felt that teenagers are not mature enough to make mature decisions. Thus, many people don't think teenagers should question their religious beliefs. If atheism was discussed in school, that would lead to students questioning their religion, which, for most, is a big no-no.

    From my own personal experience, such things are clearly evident. I was an atheist, outed to my friends, by the time I was 13. (A 7th grade student in American schools.) It took me until I was 16 to out myself to just my parents. I'm now a junior in highschool, aged 17, and haven't told the rest of my family.

    Many students I talk to about religion in school have NEVER questioned their faith. Which is why so many of them become so distressed when I start asking them logical questions about the things they've blindly held faith in for so long.

    I've been kind of rambling, so I hope that makes sense. I will, however, say one thing about the debate between River Rat and Obviously. You seem to be debating the semantics, whether or not atheism is a religion. I think Sam Harris said it best:

    "There shouldn't even be a word for atheism. 'Atheism' is just the noise polite people make in the face of religion."
    "Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis." - As Laplace said when Napoleon wondered how the famous mathematician could write his book without mentioning God.
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    Should theism be part of the Education Curriculum?
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    All I'm asking is that atheism be regarded as the educational equal to anything connected with a religious philosophy where a god or gods is involved. Simply stated, the educational system should allow the atheist counter arguments to heard by every student. I not saying it will sway student opinion one way or the other, and it may not change anything, but we are talking education here. Just so all biases are removed, schools should allow every religion to be heard along with atheism. Nothing like a complete education.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    All I'm asking is that atheism be regarded as the educational equal to anything connected with a religious philosophy where a god or gods is involved. Simply stated, the educational system should allow the atheist counter arguments to heard by every student. I not saying it will sway student opinion one way or the other, and it may not change anything, but we are talking education here. Just so all biases are removed, schools should allow every religion to be heard along with atheism. Nothing like a complete education.
    I fail to understand what you're suggesting.

    So you're saying that they ought to teach theism and atheism in schools?
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    All I'm asking is that atheism be regarded as the educational equal to anything connected with a religious philosophy where a god or gods is involved. Simply stated, the educational system should allow the atheist counter arguments to heard by every student. I not saying it will sway student opinion one way or the other, and it may not change anything, but we are talking education here. Just so all biases are removed, schools should allow every religion to be heard along with atheism. Nothing like a complete education.
    I fail to understand what you're suggesting.

    So you're saying that they ought to teach theism and atheism in schools?
    Well, if so then I agree. I see no reason why theism should not be taught at school, but I do have a problem if it's being indoctrinated into children.
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    I thought that's exactly what happens in the UK. Our schools have RE (Religious Education) and atheism is part of that curriculum (as are a number of religions - not just the CofE as it started out).

    To be honest, I don't like the idea:

    1. What is 'equal time' in this context? Cannot every parent claim to have a unique religion that he/she is entitled also to lecture on?

    2. I don't see why religion should have a place in the curriculum at all. Teach the history of belief in history, and ideas about the world in philosophy. Anything else is just pandering to myths.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    I thought that's exactly what happens in the UK. Our schools have RE (Religious Education) and atheism is part of that curriculum (as are a number of religions - not just the CofE as it started out).
    It's similar in Jamaica... RE includes atheism and agnosticism; in fact, that's where I first learned the terms!

    It would be a good idea, coming to think of it.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    1. Then you would be contradicting almost every evolutionary biologist i have met. We are on the same "complexity" step of the ladder according to evolution. This is because we are both around now, which puts us at the same level of the tree.
    Then you need to get out more. Since humans have a variety of tissues, grouped into distinctive organs, one of which has produced a feature called consciousness, then humans are more complex than amoebas.
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    1. Then you would be contradicting almost every evolutionary biologist i have met. We are on the same "complexity" step of the ladder according to evolution. This is because we are both around now, which puts us at the same level of the tree.
    thats like saying 1 equals 1 billion.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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    1. Then you would be contradicting almost every evolutionary biologist i have met. We are on the same "complexity" step of the ladder according to evolution. This is because we are both around now, which puts us at the same level of the tree.
    thats like saying 1 equals 1 billion.
    sure the numbers are related to eachother, but they are not the same.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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    I believe that he meant to say that we are 'as evolved' as amoebas, a different thing entirely.

    There are arguments that bacteria are more evolved than humans (greater number of generations, streamlined nature of genome...). They are not more complex, of course. Developing complexity requires evolutionary time, but complexity is not the goal of evolution.
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    So my argument that complexity comes from simplicity remains valid.
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    So my argument that complexity comes from simplicity still has validity then.
    If complexity came from anything, it would be from simplicity, as they are opposites. But simplicity comes from complexity sometimes as well, a possible point in case being virusses. There are varying degrees of complexity that an organism can evolve to in both directions. So if by your statement you mean in the beginning of life, then of course. But it is to simplistic an argument for how life progressed in general.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    So if by your statement you mean in the beginning of life, then of course.
    This is what I was trying to point out. Since God is obviously complex, it would be fallacious to assume he was the first thing to ever be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    1. Then you would be contradicting almost every evolutionary biologist i have met. We are on the same "complexity" step of the ladder according to evolution. This is because we are both around now, which puts us at the same level of the tree.
    Then you need to get out more. Since humans have a variety of tissues, grouped into distinctive organs, one of which has produced a feature called consciousness, then humans are more complex than amoebas.
    It may help to read my remarks in totality here Ophiolite. Free radical got my point. We are talking evolution and not physiology.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    So if by your statement you mean in the beginning of life, then of course.
    This is what I was trying to point out. Since God is obviously complex, it would be fallacious to assume he was the first thing to ever be.
    Once again you are dragging biology into theology and philosophy- not all things complex come from things simple.

    Would you think of a random system as complex or simple?
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    This is what I was trying to point out. Since God is obviously complex, it would be fallacious to assume he was the first thing to ever be.
    Point taken and agreed with.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
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    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat
    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    So if by your statement you mean in the beginning of life, then of course.
    This is what I was trying to point out. Since God is obviously complex, it would be fallacious to assume he was the first thing to ever be.
    Once again you are dragging biology into theology and philosophy- not all things complex come from things simple.

    Would you think of a random system as complex or simple?
    I don't think you understand what I mean and you're therefore trying to twist it into meaning something else.

    If I said it like this:

    "Ultimately, complexity comes from simplicity"

    Would that be better? Or "it all started with simplicity and became more and more complex. And from that complexity that came from simplicity there also came simplicity."

    ?
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    No, that statement is still incorrect. There was a point to my question about complexity and random systems btw. Complex things can be "birthed" from things more complex as well as come of interactions of things less complex or come from things of the same complexity. You don't have this descending chain of less and less complex things - you are assuming something and i can't see on what grounds you are doing that.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    So if by your statement you mean in the beginning of life, then of course.
    This is what I was trying to point out. Since God is obviously complex, it would be fallacious to assume he was the first thing to ever be.
    That's a logical fallacy if I know one.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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