A Short Blurb on Theism vs Atheism

February 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm 142 comments

Balanced ScaleI have come to the conclusion that there is little difference, for better or for worst, between a theist and an atheist – specifically in the way we act, talk, and generally live our lives.

Morality: It doesn’t matter whether conservative theists cannot understand where a non-believer receives their morals, the fact is we share a common thread of ethical decency. Even in cases that their are tangible radical differences, such as sexual license, et al., an unbeliever is no more likely to engage in orgies, sexual crimes, divorce, and/or promiscuity than theists. Non-theists are simply more likely to admit it (it takes less than a semester at a conservative Bible college to figure this out).

Intellectualism: Atheists are not smarter than theists. Theists, likewise, are not smarter than atheists. While I do believe that fundamentalists suffer in the realm of academic integrity, the majority of sophisticated mainstream Christian scholars are exceptional scholars. The belief or non-belief in God is an issue of whether one can accept the value of faith or not.

Happiness/Joy/Peace: There was little joy when Jesus died on the cross, or even when he, according to the Bible, resurrected – unless you want to read into something that isn’t there. However, today’s Evangelicals often use anecdotes of happiness and peace and evidence of their spiritual truthfulness. Atheists, on the other hand, while being accused of Epicurean lifestyles, often speak of the peace they have with the letting go of religious guilt and a belief in hell.

The above are my simplified, and perhaps simple, observations and opinions – nothing more. I am under the impression that an individual, whether theist or atheist, will be immoral, ignorant, and/or unhappy regardless of their belief or unbelief in God. God cannot make you be moral nor are you more moral because you believe in God. Your lack of belief in God is not going to make you smarter nor do you hold your unbelief because you are intellectually apt. The only constant I see is that change from an unhealthy lifestyle, whether it was a theistic or atheistic one, is good. Those who felt that Jesus saved them from alcoholism are as credible and should be praised as much as the atheist who escaped the clutches of permanently excruciating existential guilt.

An individual prone to do unethical deeds will do them regardless of their belief or unbelief in the supernatural.

An individual prone to ignorance will be ignorant despite their belief or unbelief in the supernatural.

An individual prone to depression and despair will be unhappy in spite of their religious adherence, or lack thereof.

-The Apostate

Entry filed under: TheApostate. Tags: , , , , .

Atheist or Anti-Theist? For The One Life We Have

142 Comments Add your own

  • 1. karen  |  February 6, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    An individual prone to do unethical deeds will do them regardless of their belief or unbelief in the supernatural.

    An individual prone to ignorance will be ignorant despite their belief or unbelief in the supernatural.

    An individual prone to depression and despair will be unhappy in spite of their religious adherence, or lack thereof.

    Exactly so. This is one of those elemental truths that we deconverts need to get into the public consciousness. I’ve seen people become “saved” by jesus and reform a lot of self-destructive, unhealthy behavior. I’ve also seen people go through completely secular rehabilitation programs achieve the same success – just through self-awareness, better acceptance and love in their social circles, etc.

    There’s no magic bullet – whether that be Christianity, or anything else. In the end, we have this life to live and we’re ultimately responsible only to ourselves for how we live it. That’s honesty.

  • 2. Brad  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Hmmm…. I’m going to have to chew in this for a while… I know that for me personally, having tried EVERYTHING (or pretty damn close) apart from my faith in Jesus, it was only Christianity that was able to pull my head out of my ass (which is not to say that everyone suffers from this problem, but I did).

    Reformed Christianity’s doctrine of Common Grace sounds a lot like what you are explaining here: God sends rain on the just and the unjust, etc. In the same way, God gifts all people with varying degrees of talent, intellect, and ethical standards. So to that degree, I would definitely agree with you….

    Yet I would still hold that there is a supernatural working that goes on in the mind/heart/life of the believer that equips them in a way totally unique to Christianity (Sanctifying Grace).

    It’s good for us Christians to chew on stuff like this because we need to remember (some more than others) that God works in many ways and putting Him in a box with expectations uninformed by scripture is both ignorant and arrogant. You are very right to say that it is not so black and white. Both sides are guilty of false dichotomies.

  • 3. carriedthecross  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    I have come to the conclusion that there is little difference, for better or for worst, between a theist and an atheist – specifically in the way we act, talk, and generally live our lives.

    I think perhaps the most interesting thing to me upon reading this is that I was just itching to disagree, but it just wasn’t coming to me during the first read through. I couldn’t really offer much in the way of insight to dispute your claims.

    True, Christians and non-Christians are happy, and sad, and angry, and good, and bad. Much of our psychological predispositions and ethical behaviors seem to be independent of our religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

    But there seems to me to be some missing variable. Perhaps it is progress, cheesy as that may sound. Human history seems to me to be a long process of ideas. Some are good and some are bad. We tend to embrace both with little discernment. But progress comes as we shed our bad ides. Maybe I am oversimplifying things. I probably am. But it seems that every time we remove an incorrect filter from our decision making, things will get a little ‘better.’

    *shrug*

  • 4. Thinking Ape  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Brad,
    I think you’ve been around this blog enough to know that I am well aware of various past and present Christian theologies. There is little doubt in my mind concerning what is being taught in Christianity is opposed to what I just said in my blurb. Whether the teachings match up with reality, however, is another story.
    I went to Bible college with hopes of being a reformer, not to carry on a watered-down faith. I was disgusted with the hypocrisy I saw in Christians and hoped that through careful study and investigation of the Biblical text, devotional lifestyle, and a humble attitude I could not only save myself from being a hypocrite, but that I could lead others to do the same.

    CTC,
    A missing variable, eh. Well, I did say it was a short blurb, and I really did mean it. I’m not too sure how much society progresses. I fall more into the neutral cyclical camp of social evolution – history going in cycles of progression and depression.

  • 5. orDover  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Since I have deconverted from Christianity nothing about my life has changed. I am the same person I always was in regard to morality and happiness. The only difference is that I don’t feel the need to justify my moral decisions. I can’t even remember how many times I had to explain to someone at my Christian school why I thought it was okay to be a homosexual. Christianity made no powerful impact on my life. It didn’t help me get through a severe bout of depression, it didn’t even teach me right and wrong. And likewise, when I became an atheist, I was unchanged. I’m just me, for better or worse, and my belief system is just a boring analysis of information.

  • 6. evanescent  |  February 6, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    ThinkingApe, this is a very shrewd and intelligent article – thank you for posting it!

    You are right, indeed. There is no necessary difference between a theist or an atheist.

    The big difference in ANY philosophical matter at all, not just religion – is rationality vs irrationality.

    Irrationality is not limited to theists! There are many atheists who think they’ve got it all sussed since they deconverted, and don’t realise how much other nonsense they believe. In fact, I wrote about this myself recently, and here is the link http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2008/02/02/the-problem-with-atheists/
    I was going to write it here as an article, but, ah well!

    Reason is the most important value a human being can have, and rationality our most important virtue in attaining it. If you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter what you call yourself.

    Nice little post, Ape. ;)

  • 7. Asymptosis  |  February 6, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Thinking Ape,

    Nice post. I agree with everything you said, and think it is good to try to find common ground between nominally opposed world-views.

  • 8. HeIsSailing  |  February 6, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    How is it that two people who are just as moral, just as intellectual and educated, and just as happy and fulfilled in life will be convinced of two opposing views on God? It may be that both theists and non-thesists can be just as moral, intellectual, etc – but something about the two must be different if one believes in God and the other does not.

    All else being equal, what is it that makes one believe in God and the other not?

  • 9. HeIsSailing  |  February 6, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    By the way, Jesus mentions in John 3:19ff would have me believe that the non-theist does not believe in God as an act of will, simply because he loves darkness rather than light. As a blanket statement, I think this is absurd. However, I would like to know the Christians’ perspective on this. Do atheists really know the truth – that there is a God, yet reject that truth because they love darkness rather than light and perhaps use reason as an excuse to hide their own willfull lifestyle of sin?

    This is not an invitation to debate – I am really interested in reading honest responses and opinions to this and my other comment #7. Type away – I will just sit back and read.

  • 10. HeIsSailing  |  February 6, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    whhooops – comment #8, I mean

  • 11. TheNorEaster  |  February 6, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    “I’ve seen people become “saved” by jesus and reform a lot of self-destructive, unhealthy behavior. I’ve also seen people go through completely secular rehabilitation programs achieve the same success – just through self-awareness, better acceptance and love in their social circles, etc.”

    Karen (from Comment #1):

    I agree. But I have also seen the other side. Some people go through rehabilitation programs and are still a mess; some people find Christ and are still a mess. And in some cases, people end up worse off than they were before because their intentions–either in Christianity or in rehab–were not sincere (for lack of a better term). So when it comes down, they crash. Hard. Their faith in Christ gets shattered or their faith–again, for lack of a better term) in a rehab program gets shattered.

    I’ve seen it, but I don’t have any answers as to why it happens in Christianity or rehab. Or, sometimes, both. I think that it’s far, far too personal to the individual to anyone to discuss accurately with any generalizations.

  • 12. Michelle  |  February 7, 2008 at 12:45 am

    HIS: I’ll take the bait ;)

    How is it that two people who are just as moral, just as intellectual and educated, and just as happy and fulfilled in life will be convinced of two opposing views on God? It may be that both theists and non-thesists can be just as moral, intellectual, etc – but something about the two must be different if one believes in God and the other does not.

    Some people believe reason is the most important value a human being can have. I believe it is important, but it doesn’t trump faith.

    Observation tells me there is a God and I want to know Him. Did I want to know Him first, or did He come after me? Huge questions theologians and philosophers have tried to answer, insufficiently, if I do say so. My answer will be insufficient also, we can only know in part. As Paul said, “we look through a mirror darkly” but some day we will know as we are fully known.

    Jesus put out the call, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you peace.” I heard it and I came. I want to know Him – my heart’s desire is to be in fellowship with God. I want to worship Him. Did I conjur up the desire or was it put within me? I don’t know – I think He put it in me. I take it by faith that these “experiences” I’ve had with God are real. It is completely personal and it is internal. Hopefully I have become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, and self-controlled. Those who have known my life say I have changed. I think I have. I read this and it makes sense to me:

    Seek the LORD while he may be found;
    Call upon Him while He is near.
    Let the wicked forsake his way
    And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    And let him return to the LORD,
    And He will have compassion on him,
    And to our God,
    For He will abundantly pardon.
    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways,
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

    -Isaiah 55:6-9

    That is reasonable to me and I put my faith in Him, alone.

    Sorry, if it is “preachy” – I don’t know how to explain it any other way. It’s totally personal.

    Blessings to you ~Michelle ;)

  • 13. Michelle  |  February 7, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Why can’t I make the bold thing work?

    Sorry – I wasn’t yelling :)

  • 14. HeIsSailing  |  February 7, 2008 at 1:05 am

    Michelle says:
    “Sorry, if it is “preachy” – I don’t know how to explain it any other way. It’s totally personal.”

    I listened to over 40 years worth of preaching – I think I can handle a little bit more. Thanks for your reply.

    I was thinking about this today on my drive home – I left Christianity because my reasoning processes led me to the conclusion that the Bible and the Christian Religion were untrustworthy and not true. But I came to that by a particular process – a process of skepticism – a process which included asking ‘why is this *not* true?’ and investigation.

    But that is a *process* that I followed that I am not so sure is obvious to everyone. Was this a process that was invented at some point in our history? After all, the scientific process of theorizing and experimentation, a process that is obvious to me now, was all but unknown before Galileo. Are there other Truths that critical thinking does not reveal?

    Is Faith another such process for determining truth, albeit, an alternate process to reason? If so, what are the rules? The scientific, skeptical method has definite rules that must be followed – does Faith have any such rules for determining truth?

    That is the main thing that stops me cold when applying Faith to these kinds of issues – the rules seem wholly arbitrary. In fact, are there any rules for determing truth via Faith at all?

    Michelle, or anyone else for that matter, why do you consider Faith to be a greater process for determining truth than reasoned skepticism?

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  February 7, 2008 at 1:15 am

    Michelle puzzles:
    “Why can’t I make the bold thing work?”

    I don’t know, but for the last few days, my html coding has not been working at all on this blogsite. Blast if I know.

  • 16. TheNorEaster  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:16 am

    “The scientific, skeptical method has definite rules that must be followed”

    Sailing:

    Exactly what rules in this method are you referring to? The rules that defined “normal” in a world as diverse as snowflakes? The rules that condemned deaf people to spend their entire lives in mental institutions? The rules that made a hepatitis treatment that results in heart attacks and strokes and depression and suicide? The rules that defenestrated sign language as the primary means of deaf education and demanded oralism? The rules that created a cancer treatment that kills? The rules that made a multi-trilliion dollar health care industry…? Because unless I missed something, that is exactly what science has done. There is no objectivity in science.

  • 17. Jersey  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:27 am

    When a Christian, I was self-righteous, keep my head in the sand, and was a prosyltist.

    As a humanist, I am more humble, realistic, altruistic, and cool about everything.

    In short, as a “Christian” I wasn’t one, but as a humanist I act more like what Jesus wanted of us — think the be-attitudes.

  • 18. Thinking Ape  |  February 7, 2008 at 4:11 am

    HIS quizzes,

    It may be that both theists and non-theists can be just as moral, intellectual, etc – but something about the two must be different if one believes in God and the other does not.

    I agree – there is a difference, but I believe that difference is limited to what/who we attribute to the goings on in our lives. For example, Jersey above gives anecdotal evidence of being humbler post-Christianity. Jersey attributes a greater degree of humility to the lack of religion. Likewise, but in opposition, Brad states that God gives a certain uniqueness to Christians.
    But this is the way I see it: Person (T) has a glow about them that others recognize. Person (T) is a Christian. Person (A) is very humble – and is an atheist. Person (B) is a Mahayana Buddhist and is extremely compassionate. What differentiates these people is what their philosophy or religion prioritizes, and hence what they strive to accomplish. Person (T) is taught to be unique, and so he/she is. Person (A) came to the conclusion that humility is a virtue, and so he/she is. Person (B) has only one moral absolute, and so he/she follows that way of life.

    Michelle,
    While reason may be an important value to humankind, I doubt many would say it is the most significant, or else the value of life would be equated to those who are most reasonable. Juxtaposing reason and faith, however, causes a false dichotomy, as they have little to do with each other. One is a process of making judgments ultimately leading to knowledge, the other has more to do with trust and commitment than it has to do with anything else. There is little difference between the loyal dog who trusts its master will feed him the next morning, whether he was beaten the night before or not, and the knight of faith who wields a slaughtering knife above his only son. Neither relies on truth, only hope – whether false or not.

  • 19. Mathew Paul  |  February 7, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I must say that I am enjoying the open discussion going on here. Great.

    I think you can see a difference between an atheist a theist at least in a cancer ward or a similar place. It is tragic that the theists in ‘post-Christian culutres’ do not show any difference in other areas, especially in the area of morality for they say they have a norm while atheists don’t have an external norm other than the culture that they are living in. what does any one else think?

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  February 7, 2008 at 10:55 am

    TA:

    Good post. Just one statement that didn’t ring right.

    An individual prone to do unethical deeds will do them regardless of their belief or unbelief in the supernatural.

    We all must know many people who converted to Christianity and stopped doing drugs, being promiscuous, committing crimes, drinking excessively. As far as I could ever tell, these people all stopped doing unethical deeds because they came to believe in a supernatural deity.

    Just FTR, I’m one such person. I know that my motivation was due to believing there was a God.

  • 21. LeoPardus  |  February 7, 2008 at 11:05 am

    NoEaster:

    Just answering some of your questions.

    “The scientific, skeptical method has definite rules that must be followed”

    The rules that defined “normal” in a world as diverse as snowflakes?

    Often, yes.

    The rules that condemned deaf people to spend their entire lives in mental institutions?

    No.

    The rules that made a hepatitis treatment that results in heart attacks and strokes and depression and suicide?

    Following the rules allowed us to make that connection and thus recommend stopping the treatment, or pretreating for the problems. Or did you think nonscientists, following no rules at all, just stepped in and intuited it?

    The rules that defenestrated sign language as the primary means of deaf education and demanded oralism?

    No.

    The rules that created a cancer treatment that kills?

    Which one are you talking about? Many cancer treatments are toxins. It is however, the rules that let us investigate potential treatments. Or did you think we’ve hugely improved cancer survival rates by random guesswork?

    The rules that made a multi-trilliion dollar health care industry…?

    No.

    Because unless I missed something, that is exactly what science has done.

    You miss your guess.

    There is no objectivity in science.

    Spoken as a true and stereotypical nonscientist and scientific ignoramus.

    You have no flaming idea what you are talking about. Instead of attempting sweeping and authoritative condemnations from the standpoint of ignorance, why not try learning?

    If your questions were honest ones, and not rhetorical attempts at condemnation of science, I’ll type a retraction.

  • 22. societyvs  |  February 7, 2008 at 11:26 am

    “However, I would like to know the Christians’ perspective on this. Do atheists really know the truth – that there is a God, yet reject that truth because they love darkness rather than light and perhaps use reason as an excuse to hide their own willfull lifestyle of sin?” (HIS)

    You’ve hit upon something that is very key to the scriptures views on believer and un-believer – the idea of morality and immorality being the dividing card between the 2 – and not faith and non-faith as we see it used as today.

    I have been discussing this very idea with a Jewish lady and some other people – mostly in casual convo – but we all are noticing that from Genesis to th Gospels/letters the idea that divides someone from the faith is immorality and not non-faith.

    Find any parable, Psalm, or even that Isaiah passage from Michelle – the true line in the sand between God and us is our actions – not our weird belief systems or ideas (unless those things cause in us immoral actions – so we see how close believing something is tied with action).Someone immoral is not acting godly – someone being moral is acting godly – plain and simple (at least that’s what I am seeing in many passages).

    Now what I write is not mainstream theology by any stretch in Christianity – but it is there in the passages themselves. One just needs to think back to the whole Jewish community – they were whole communities of people with various jobs in life yet they were all part of the ‘community of God’ – only few were priests to be totally honest. Yet they were all ‘Israel’ and all welcome to the ‘temple’ – all subject to the same laws – it was a community of acceptance – since they were all One’s community. This idea is absolutely lost on Christianity and is non-existent.

    Now I look around at society and see many people doing many various things – but what is important still – law and order and freedom to live our lives. Some people are religous and many are not – I say ‘big deal’ – does your life reflect the caring for the community you are in irregardless of faith or not? Cause that’s the key – do you hurt others in society for your own gain?

    Immorality is a problem no matter who is involved – cause neither an atheist or Christian likes to be robbed at gun-point or have their homes broken into or a loved one murdered – for both of them they can clearly see the line between morality and immorality at that point and how society is wrecked by these type of things. Faith is not the dividing line between humans and God – our actions are – and these same actions are also the obvious doviding line between working relationships and not working one’s.

    HIS, not sure if I answered your question but I think I am pointing you in the right direction. Basically, to me, a lot of atheists will be in heaven (if there is one) because they are just as nice as most Christians I know.

  • 23. Michelle  |  February 7, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Thanks to the blog-god who fixed my attempt with HTML – if it doesn’t work again, will you please work your mystery once more?

    HIS asks:

    Michelle, or anyone else for that matter, why do you consider Faith to be a greater process for determining truth than reasoned skepticism?

    Most people see me as a reasonable skeptic – and I can be quite cynical. ;)

    My reason only takes me so far. I cannot see the beginning, but I can place a theory out there – Big Bang, string theory, whatever – but I can’t observe the Truth of it. It takes a “leap of faith” to believe any theory is Truth.

    My faith leads me to God – your faith leads you to scientific theory.
    Either way it seems to be built upon an inward desire to have our beliefs validated = faith.

    I observe and see God – you observe and see Science. It’s totally personal.

    If it could be completely understood then it wouldn’t be faith. I cannot get my mind around God – His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts – I am just a tiny ant in the whole scheme of things, so I put my trust in something greater than myself.

    I get that this is offensive to you – it’s just my lame attempt to explain our differences, since you asked.

  • 24. Godamn  |  February 7, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Michelle-
    If observation tells you there is a god, isn’t that reasoning and not faith? You are making logical connections between what you see and know to rationalize the existence of god. But faith is believing without any evidence or logic. If you use reason to justify your belief, then reason trumps faith. Unfortunately if you choose faith instead, then you are being irrational and impervious to any logic. You believe because you believe and nothing can convince you otherwise. So, if you chose to believe that the sun is a hot snowball, nothing in the world can get you to change your mind. You also need to decide whether you want to interpret the world with reason or faith. You cannot mix and match to suit your presuppositions. So, do you believe in god due to reason or faith?

  • 25. Godamn  |  February 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    NorEaster-
    You obviously don’t have a clue as to what science is. Science is Latin for knowledge. Thats all it is, just knowledge about the objective world. The methods of science adhere to certain guidelines for validating this knowledge, to eliminate errors. This involves -
    1. Independent confirmation of facts.
    2.Debate with other knowledgeable scientists over the alternative solutions and defects in the one being presented.
    3.Numerical verification whenever possible.
    4.Chain of argument must be linked without any breaks.
    5.Experiment to determine the ability of the theory to consistently and accurately predict results.
    I dont know how you could think the methods of science are responisble for all the things you said.

  • 26. Godamn  |  February 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    You seem to think science is a bad thing because some medications have dangerous side effects. What about the lives it has saved? For every death there are a 100 saved. The avg. Life expectancy of a human being remained well below 40 until the advent of modern medical science. Cancer treatments have added years to the time a patient can survive. The treatment of radiation and chemotherapy is the only way we have to fight cancer. It has serious side effects but it keeps a patient alive. It does not kill him. Do you think that killing the patient is the intention behind the treament? Thats the way it seems. Would you prefer no healthcare at all rather than a commercial industry? Do you know how many people around the world die when some rudimentary medical aid could save their lives? And where did you get that bull about science defenestrating sign language and demanding oralism? That is a stupid thing to say. Your knowledge and understanding of science is awful (if not nonexistent).

  • 27. karen  |  February 7, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    All else being equal, what is it that makes one believe in God and the other not?

    From what I’ve been able to gather in the last few years (and I’ve been paying quite a bit of attention to this question), the difference is one’s depth of commitment to research, questioning and brutal honesty. Those who believe in god attach more importance to an emotional commitment to faith than to following the facts wherever they lead, despite the possible negative emotional repercussions.

  • 28. karen  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I agree. But I have also seen the other side. Some people go through rehabilitation programs and are still a mess; some people find Christ and are still a mess.

    Absolutely true, NorEaster. That’s definitely the down side of the story.

    The crucial difference, for me, is this: Secular solutions don’t ever claim to be 100% effective. Indeed, most of them will readily admit that their ability to be helpful is very limited and depends on a lot of other factors that can’t be controlled.

    Christianity claims to have a 1000% success rate. If someone comes to Christ and their life doesn’t change, that doesn’t reflect a failure of Christ’s redemptive ability because that’s impossible under the theology. Instead, the failure is placed squarely on the “saved” person: Either they didn’t wholly commit their lives to Jesus, or they are still battling demons and need to surrender more fully, or they joined a “false” Christian movement, or they “fell away” etc etc etc

    Any number of blame-the-victim strategies must be employed at this point, because Christianity claims that the Holy Spirit is involved in radical transformation of believers’ lives. When that doesn’t happen it introduces real cognitive dissonance into the believers’ world view and that can’t be tolerated.

  • 29. karen  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I get that this is offensive to you – it’s just my lame attempt to explain our differences, since you asked.

    Michelle, your Christian beliefs are not offensive to any of us here. We all shared them at some point, and we understand where you are coming from. I doubt any decon here would say they find your beliefs “offensive” – how could we?! Our parents and spouses and children and best friends still share those beliefs. If we’re not offended by them, we’re not offended by you.

    The point here is that you see “gaps” in our knowledge (like what happened before the Big Bang) and you decide to believe in something (god created it all) that can’t be discerned by evidence like that used in the scientific method.

    All we’re doing is looking at those same gaps and saying, “We don’t know.” We don’t know what happened before the Big Bang, but we’re not willing to believe god did it – let alone the Christian version of god – without better evidence than what is currently out there.

    You’re trusting some personal spiritual experiences, and an ancient sacred text (the bible), and perhaps what authority figures like pastors have told you. That’s good enough for you to make that leap into faith. That’s not good enough for us, because we’ve investigated where that kind of information comes from and found it not to be trustworthy.

    For instance, people of all religious faiths have spiritual experiences. New Agers have spiritual experiences. If we believe everyone’s spiritual experience is valid – and how can we discern which ones are not? – how can we decide which god is true? All gods must be equally true, or equally unproven.

    The ancient sacred texts like the bible are internally inconsistent and not otherwise reliable historically. They are full of mythology and outdated moral values that we would easily reject today (slavery, second-class status for women, stoning as punishment for adultery). They aren’t good evidence for any gods.

    Likewise, we don’t rely on authoritative pronouncements from religious leaders, because they are just men and not privvy to any special knowledge that we don’t have. Do you understand where we are coming from?

  • 30. orDover  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    For the life of me, I will never understand why faith is held in higher esteem than reason. In my opinion, the only things that are safe to “believe” in (or worthy of my belief) are those that can be tested and proven (for this reason I am technically agnostic, although I prefer to identify myself with the atheist camp). I don’t trust in anything unless that trust has been duly earned. For example, I don’t trust that my husband loves me because he tells me so, I trust that he loves me because he comes home to me every night, treats me with kindness and is completely unselfish in our relationship.

  • 31. Thinking Ape  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Leopardus,

    We all must know many people who converted to Christianity and stopped doing drugs, being promiscuous, committing crimes, drinking excessively. As far as I could ever tell, these people all stopped doing unethical deeds because they came to believe in a supernatural deity.

    But if you add what I said about change from an unhealthy to a healthy lifestyle, then you get the gist of my post. I do indeed know people who need a heavenly policeman. But I also know people who turn to drugs, abortions, and divorce because of Christianity (surely you know that the highest divorce rate is among conservative Christians and their abortion rate is soon to be the national leader).

    As for promiscuity, you have no data to defend that. From my own observation I have only witnessed that conservative Christians engage in just as much premarital sex as do “unbelievers” – they only lie about it longer. Likewise, the crime rate among those who hold to be strictly atheists is no more higher than that of professed Christians. The vast majority of crimes, as you may or may not know, are crimes of passion – an individual’s religion usually has very little say in such heated moments.

    We must also take into account the difference between “immorality” and “unethical.” Christians are more likely to follow the moral conventions they deem necessary for their beliefs, but those conventions are not always universalized ethics, nor do they have any more tendency to follow one of the grandest of ethics that was commanded to them: do unto others as you would have them do to you. I, for one, do not consider doing crack-cocaine an ethical issue. I consider it a health issue. However, if your religion makes health issues morality (my body is a temple), then that is what it becomes. However, that same person who believes doing drugs is immoral has likely not understood how they damage their body everyday. Studies have shown that marijuana and certain brands of cigarettes do less damage to us than drinking a can of some diet pops once a day due to the high aspartame content.

    But like I said, I am under the impression that people desire to be better than they are (the majority of us anyway). We do this by change. Some people feel they must change religions or convert to a religion. This, of course, still has little bearing on the truth of it all. I simply believe that a Christian will justify the way they act, whether unethical or not, through means of their religion – just as an atheist will justify the way they act by means of whatever philosophy they have chosen to live by.

  • 32. Thinking Ape  |  February 7, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    One more thing. I would like to use societyvs’ example of robbery at gunpoint. We look at that person as a criminal and someone who is obviously crossing an ethical threshold. What we normally don’t know is why they are doing it. I think this is more critical to our discussion that the act itself. Is it for vengeance? Is it to feed a family? Is it because of a mental instability? What does theism and atheism have to answer for the reasons? I know people who can both oppose and defend acts in the name of vengeance using the Bible. While the man obviously isn’t thinking about someone elses family, does he really mean to shoot someone or does he simply need the cash? If he does shoot someone is it because his brain wasn’t capable of rationalizing the consequences? If it is because of a mental instability, who can we blame? His caretakers? His parents? The “system”? God?

  • 33. Asymptosis  |  February 7, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I would like to say that I think to a certain extent, faith and reason are false dichotomies.

    What does faith really mean? At the top of the list in my dictionary are the meanings that we normally attribute to the word in a religious debate: unreasoning loyalty to some doctrine. Further down, there are other meanings. To have “good faith” means to be honest and sincere; “faithful” means “remaining true.”

    So, faith only becomes unreasonable if you interpret God as literally some bearded white-robed sky-daddy modelled after the Roman Jove, complete with lightning bolts. If on the other hand, you interpret God as the Logos – the logical principle, the idea that reality operates according to rules that can be discerned by reason – then to have faith is simply to be true to your experience of reality, to not put doctrines before reason.

    Indeed, to bring this back to the point of Thinking Ape’s post, it might be said that the main difference between a theist and an atheist is that the atheist does not anthropomorphise the logical principle, which in poetic language is called Logos.

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  February 7, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    TA:

    You response to me ran into the realm of non sequitur because of confusion between plural and singular examples.

    In your original post you said, “An individual prone to do unethical deeds will do them regardless of their belief or unbelief in the supernatural.”

    I countered by pointing out that “individuals” did indeed stop doing unethical things because of their belief. You then countered me with population-based examples. [e.g. “surely you know that the highest divorce rate is among conservative Christians and their abortion rate is soon to be the national leader” …. “As for promiscuity, you have no data to defend that. From my own observation I have only witnessed that conservative Christians engage in just as much premarital sex as do unbelievers”

    So to return to where I was, and what you first stated, individuals – at least some individuals – do change their behavior because of their theistic beliefs. In other words, some people actually DO what their faith says they should. …… The behavior of the masses not withstanding.

  • 35. LeoPardus  |  February 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    societyvs:

    Right on. As has been pointed out not a few times, in Matt 25 the sheep and the goats were separated based on what they did or did not do.

  • 36. Justin  |  February 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    thinking ape,
    best post so far. Your simplified analysis is often what people of all beliefs need to bring them back to reality.

    God Bless,

    Justin

  • 37. societyvs  |  February 7, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Thinking Ape, I will address your concerns with ‘held up at gun point’ analogy.

    The point I am simply making is no matter who it is in that robbery (atheist or not) – everyone feels the person holding the gun crossed an ethical line that was not supposed to be crossed – because no one likes (a) a gun pointed at them, (b) the threat of being shot, and (c) having there stuff stolen from their person. I don’t care who you are – you don’t like it and you know the person who did this to you – was wrong.

    We can debate on the mental faculties of someone, revenge factors, or even empathy factors (need to feed his family) but the fact still stands – the way you will personally feel betrayed in the simple action of someone stepping over your peronsal (and I would say ethical) line – and all the feelings that overwhelm you after an incident like that help to prove this point.

    “who can we blame?” (ThinkingApe)

    You missed one person on that list – the person themselves. I do believe we all have been endowed with choices to make – so we can blame others for someone’s messed up life – but the person holding the gun is guilty of holding the gun and the robbery and this much is clearly evident.

    I do get where you are going with this though – what made the person into someone that had to do such an action? That differs quite a bit from person to person but usually we can find that somehow most of this relates back to their childhood experiences, problems with family, or even teen pressures.

    That being said, that is not a good enough excuse (for me) to even come close to justifying someone’s behavior of brandishing a gun and robbing someone else (causing hurt in society and to another/their peer). Cause if we start there then we justify some things that have no justification and should never have justification. The actions is simply no good and the person needs to face up to that and deal with their actions – then make them right (if they can).

  • 38. TheNorEaster  |  February 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Ladies & Gentlemen:

    Several years ago–and I emphasize the word “several”–I was sitting in a doctor’s office listening to him tell me what I already knew: that my bilateral sensorineural progressive hearing loss is genetic. I had already told him that my grandfather, my great uncle, my mother, and my brother all had a hearing loss, but for some reason he had to draw six vials of my blood and insisted that I get a CT scan and an MRI–in that order–to come to the same conclusion. Turns out, the CT scan showed that my inner ear never fully developed so the MRI wasn’t even necessary.

    That he needed so many redundant tests to come to the same conclusion as me certainly came as no surprise. But I just wanted to know the extent of my hearing loss and what kind of hearing aids I could use. And whether or not my hearing loss would affect my balance–which has happened. But in that same office on that same afternoon, that same doctor–an “objective” scientist–told me not to have children because he did not want me passing along my “inferior” genes. Because, from his point of view, I was not “normal.”

    Six months before that conversation, I lost my daughter.

    But you’re absolutely right–”science” is Latin for knowledge. And “anger” is Old Norse for “grief.” So however “angry” my words came across, I think it’s probably a pretty safe bet to say that I do have some idea of what I am talking about when I say that science is not objective.

    Granted, science SHOULD be objective, just like Christians SHOULD be compassionate. But since human beings will always be human beings neither of those ideals will ever be achieved accurately or authentically. This site has challenged me in ways I never thought possible, not the least of which is to NOT dismiss the atrocies of the church throughout history. Quite the contrary, I am developing a great self-vigilance as a result because I simply do not want to make a greater mess of things.

    But if I have learned exactly that much about my faith among a group of de-converts–and, believe me, each of you have presented me with some enormous challenges–then why, precisely, should those of you who believe in the objectivity of science dismiss the essential flaws of a system that should be, ideally, objective but suffers from the same essential flaw as religion–humanity. Whatever system or belief ones holds, human beings will always be human beings–flawed, imperfect, and capable of committing some extraordinairily disastrous atrociies.

    By the way, if the biopsy I had at 29 had shown that I did have cancer and I had started on the traditional medical treatments of radiation and chemotherapy but had only lived to be 34, then “science” would have considered me a cancer “survivor.” Because the “survival” rate for cancer patients is currently five years, which means if one is diagnosed at just 3 years of age with leukemia and lives to be 8 years of age then that patient is statistically considered a “survivor” by “objective” science. Turns out, my biopsy was negative and I was told that didn’t have cancer after all.

    But, oddly enough, the same thing had happened to my uncle when he was that age. 35 years later, however, my uncle discovered that he did, indeed, have cancer. He passed away when he was 62 (a year ago this month) which, by the way, was over 5 years after he was diagnosed so he, too, is considered to be a cancer “survivor” by objective “science.” The cancer didn’t kill him; the chemo did.

    But if you still chose not to take my word for it, may I suggest you read “The Cancer Industry” by Ralph Moss.

    And for those of you still think that science has had no role whatsoever in the societal subjection of Deaf people, let me suggest “Damned for Their Difference: The Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled” by Branson & Miller.

    So, yes. My questions, however “angry” they came across initially, were indeed honest ones, I can assure you. I have no wish whatsoever to condemn authentic science because I too find it absolutely fascinating–from brains to ticks to stars, I am enthralled at what science can teach me. It is only when science surrenders its ideal of objectivity to human preconceptions and prejudices in a given culture at a given time in a given place in history under the guise of, say, 5-year survival rates, that I do get rather irate.

  • 39. Michelle  |  February 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Karen:

    Do you understand where we are coming from?

    I’m not sure, but I’m trying – I was only attempting to share with HIS about my thought process. I took it on “good faith” that He wanted honest responses to his query. (comment 8 & 9) ;)

  • 40. Michelle  |  February 7, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    NorEaster:

    Do your storms ever cease? You’re in my prayers.

  • 41. karen  |  February 7, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    NorEaster, I’m very sorry about your health problems. Yes, it makes sense now why that anger came through in your earlier post.

    If I may, however, let me suggest that you are allowing your personal, negative experience with doctors to color your understanding of and appreciation for the scientific method.

    Of course the medications and treatments deemed necessary by medical professionals are often flawed if not downright wrong. This is because medicine is administered by human beings, and we are error-prone. We make mistakes because we insert our preconceived notions and cultural assumptions into the process far too often. Other times, we just plain screw up.

    But may I suggest that what your doctor was doing by running myriad tests to confirm your hearing loss was trying to take OUT that preconceived notion and cultural bias (from your family history) and make sure that the diagnosis was correct? This is the wonder of the scientific method: It is designed to account for typical human error and assumption and weed it out.

    In your case, all the tests proved that your initial assumption was right. But what if it had been wrong, and your hearing loss was not related to your family history but to something that could easily have been repaired? If the doctor hadn’t done extra tests to rule out that remote – but very real – possibility, he would have been negligent.

  • 42. orDover  |  February 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    NorEaster,

    No one in their right mind, and I’m sure no one here, thinks or claims that science is flawless, not subjected to error and human interference. When I say “science is objective” I mean that “science” is objective, not “scienTISTS.” By this I mean that science tells me that the temperature outside is 56 degrees F, that a south magnetic pole is attracted to a north magnetic pole, that the speed of sound is 5 miles per hour, and that Down Syndrome is caused by an extra 21st chromosome. Science cannot lie, because all of these things can be repeated tested with the same conclusion. You can come to my house and feel the temperature, hundreds of different people can test how magnets work, thousands of different people can look at the DNA of people with Down Syndrome. All of these different people will come up with the same results, no matter their individual bias, because the truth of the matter is immutable.

    Science does rely on scienTIST, who are not objective and subject to error, and that is exactly why the concepts of reproducibility and peer review are so incredibly important. I won’t believe it if one scientist says that the found out that Down Syndrome is caused by trisomy 21, or if one published study by a group of doctors finds out the same thing. I only believe when the tests can be reproduced with the same results, over and over and over and over and over and over again ad infinitum. Test being reproducible completely ELIMINATES bias and subjectivity, thus rendering science objective.

  • 43. notabarbie  |  February 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I just need to chime in here. My sister in law (not a Christian) was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer two years ago. The cancer had spread to her lungs and has since spread to her bones. She is still very lively and has had two great years to enjoy many things and people and we have had the opportunity to enjoy her. Did God give her those years and who knows how many more? The answer is no, modern medical science did and I am very thankful for that. The chemo has been difficult at times, but without it I know she would not be with us now. Just my two cents….

  • 44. TheNorEaster  |  February 7, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Michelle:

    Like you had said, Mine is a knowledge only learned in pain.

    Karen:

    With all due respect, I don’t need to know the exact temperature to put on a coat before I leave the house.

    Dover:

    Good point. But can one ever remove the scientist from science? Christianity could easily make the same the claim–that it relies on the perfect Christ and not the imperfect Christians.

  • 45. orDover  |  February 7, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    But what is the perfect Christ? Is that knowable or definable?

    Science is knowable and definable. You can observe it, I can observe it, and it is always the same. It is tangible in that sense, something that God/Christ/religion is not. Science can become divorced from scientists through the cumulation of data, like I said before.

  • 46. TheNorEaster  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:29 am

    Dover:

    If science can become divorced from scientists, then of what use is the cumulation of data if there is no one to observe it?

    If science is always the same, then how come Pluto–which has been around for billions of years–was a planet for thousands of years of recorded history and yet in recently science has suddenly said that it is not a planet? Did Pluto change or did science change?

    But do not misunderstand. PURE science I absolutely love. Like I said before, it fascinates me.

    However, the point I have been trying to make–and I will admit that I have not made this point very well–is that science is not objective because it is simply another system that has become tainted by human flaws–like religion–because human beings will always be human beings and as a species we are flawed.

    And, yes, I do believe in God, but God, to me, is not knowable or definable. My faith simply allows me an occasional glimpse, in the same way I could easily imagine the highest number but I do not know the highest number.

  • 47. Thinking Ape  |  February 8, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Leopardus,

    In other words, some people actually DO what their faith says they should. …… The behavior of the masses not withstanding.

    Whether we like it or not the masses consist of individuals. My hypothetical individual is a representative of one of the individuals of this society. As much as we don’t care to think of it this way, you and I are another dot. We are all “special”… yet we are not.
    Now on the point of those who follow their faith… who might you say that is? And what faith is worth being followed in its entirety? There are superb ethical commandments in many faiths, Christianity and Buddhism included. But there are also gross shortcomings in all philosophies and religions. In the case of Christianity in particular, what Christianity are we talking about? American prudishness and anti-intellectualism? Medieval theology? Christian mysticism? Jewish Christianity?

  • 48. Thinking Ape  |  February 8, 2008 at 2:42 am

    societyvs,

    You missed one person on that list – the person themselves.

    Okay, you said you knew where I was going with my response, and I believe you, but I must strongly reiterate that I thoroughly agree with you. I, in no way, meant to justify the actions of the person who crossed that ethical threshold. My entire point – and I think you recognized this – was that there is something outside of spiritual misguidance going on inside that person. Whether someone wronged him, or he is desperate for food, he still makes the choice. I simply believe that it will be justified to that person regardless of religious persuasion.

  • 49. artisticmisfit  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Hold on there, why is divorce categorized under immorality?

  • 50. Thinking Ape  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:33 am

    artistic,

    Hold on there, why is divorce categorized under immorality?

    Why is anything classified under immorality?

    If coming from a Jewish perspective, you might be inclined to quote various passages in Deuteronomy. If you were a Christian, you might quote Matthew. A Muslim might cite that of all the permissible acts, divorce is the least desired. A secularist might give examples or statistics of the damage divorce does to children.

    Personally I don’t care much for morals that are simply handed down for tradition’s sake. However, divorce is not one of those. I believe that divorce is an unethical breaking of contract, although there are definitely situations that it is more acceptable than the alternative (eg. mentally and/or physically abusive partnerships).

    I’m not here to argue, however, for or against the ethics of marriage and divorce. The fact is that many have held and some continue to hold divorce to be an immoral act.

  • 51. Asymptosis  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:52 am

    “I believe that divorce is an unethical breaking of contract, although there are definitely situations that it is more acceptable than the alternative”

    Yes, I agree. When you get married, you make a set of vows. Going against your own word signals that you do not believe in yourself. To practice keeping your word cultivates trust and self-discipline.

    Immoral practices are often understandable and forgiveable – that doesn’t mean that they are not immoral.

  • 52. Godamn  |  February 8, 2008 at 6:03 am

    But doesn’t the reason for the divorce have some say in its morality? If a woman wants to leave a man who abuses her, is what she is doing immoral? Generally we consider something to be immoral when the a person is unjustly imposed upon by another and perceived negative effects outweigh the positive (which IMHO makes morality subjective). Is that the case with an abused woman? And what about the children. A mother has a resposibility towards her kids. It can be devastating for kids to see their mother abused. There are also severe long term psychological effects. In this case, can you consider divorce as immoral in any way? Wouldnt it be immoral for the woman to continue to let her children be exposed to psychological harm or even letting them be abused?

  • 53. Godamn  |  February 8, 2008 at 6:04 am

    NorEaster-
    You need to understand, science is knowledge of the way the world is. The laws of nature. It has nothing to do with humans. We interpret our observations in an attempt to gain that knowledge. If we fail to be objective, that doe not make that body of knowledge different. It remains exactly as it was. The methods of science are designed to detect and eliminate errors because scientists do realize that we make mistakes in our understanding of nature and we cannot know anything for certain and so the accumulation of data is the only way for verifying whether we are right. That data helps us make statistical correlations to determine whether we are right. What scientific objectivity means is that anyone would have the same results. It has absolutely no bearing on morality. Science is concerned with whether something is true or false, it does not have anything to do with morals or ethics and whether a thing is good or bad. That is human created and subjective. Facts are not.

  • 54. TheNorEaster  |  February 8, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I still can’t believe the backlash I got over science. I just assumed that since so many of you are so familiar with the history of the church that you’d have made the same thorough examinations of the history of science. Namely, that as various sciences came to prominence only certain adherents grew in prestige by keeping power with The Establishment, which is precisely why one school of scientific thought is considered legitimate and another is condemned as quackery (in the same way that one sect of religion is considered true while another is condemned as false). And yet the competition between science and religion for control of the populace by The Establishment remains today, especially in American election year, with each side claiming to know the truth while condemning the other side to falsehoods. I swear, I really thought you guys knew this stuff. And maybe some of you do. (Well, except for the Deaf history part. Hearing people usually know as much about Deaf history as they do “GA to SK.” So I expected that.) But the backlash I got from some of you was so fanatcial that some of you sound like you never left fundamentalism; you just changed a few nouns. Seriously. It was that bad. I mean, geez.

  • 55. Godamn  |  February 8, 2008 at 11:56 am

    NorEaster,
    Take a look around you. Virtually everything you see is a result of science. There is a big difference between science and religon. Science works. You dont need to believe in it. The proof is all around you. Planes dont fly on faith. Your computer, mobile and TV dont work on faith. Its science. If the science were wrong, none of these things would work. Why do they work? Its because we have understood the laws of physics and applied that knowlege to develop these things. They arent flukes. They always work, whether you believe the laws of science or not. I simply cannot understand why you think science and religon are equals. What has religon given us, that
    is tangible. Something that works irrespective of beliefs? This has nothing to do with fundamentalism. Science is not dogmatic. If something is proven true, science accepts it. Then, a new theory must be superior to the already proved one and with sufficient evidence to disprove it. Until that happens, the older theory is considered true. The biggest difference between science and religon is that science is always willing to change theories, but it requires solid evidence for that to happen. Religon begins with a premise that it considers to be true and then tries to fit it with the world they observe and reject anything that disagrees, irrespective of how much proof there is. By the way, could you elaborate on what a fundamentalist of science is? What exactly would a fundamentalist be like? Science works and we can see it around. No faith is needed.

  • 56. orDover  |  February 8, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    How are we being fanatical? We are simply explaining the scientific process, something which most people don’t have a strong grasp on. You can find our words in any remedial science text book. I think maybe you are confusing what we mean when we say “objective,” so I’ll actually give you a quote from an Archaeology textbook I have:

    “Science is empirical, or objective. Science is concerned with the observable, measurable world. Questions are scientific (1) if they are concerned with detectable properties of things and (2) if the result of observations designed to answer the question cannot be predetermined by the bias of the observer.”

    When we say that science is objective, we mean that it is a neutral, measurable thing. And if something can be measure repeatedly then it can be known. Regardless of any scientist’s personal preference, the speed of sound is 5 miles per hour. They can whine and scream and beg to differ all they want, but it doesn’t matter because everyone on earth could go out and measure the speed of sound and prove what is true.

    As Godamn mentioned, science is self-correcting. If science was dogma it would always stay the same, but it isn’t, and so it doesn’t. It is always adding, correcting, revising it’s statements. In this vein, it is important to understand that when paradigm shifts take place (which they do) that they generally build upon old hypotheses with new evidence provided by technology. For instance, there was a paradigm shift from Newtonian thought to Einsteinian thought. Newton’s theories weren’t wrong, they’re still true today, but with Einstein’s principles of relativity we are better able to explain the “whys” behind the phenomena that Newton quantified. You mentioned Pluto. Pluto is an objective, neutral thing. It’s sitting out in space, not changing very much. But our technology is ALWAYS changing. Scientists do their best with the equipment they have. At first scientists didn’t know Pluto existed (but it did), then they found it and called it a planet, then as technology progressed further and they were able to OBSERVE more things about Pluto, they changed its classification to a planetoid. During these shifts, Pluto never changed. It has always been the same, just sitting out there in space waiting to be measured.

    Science has made plenty of mistakes. It turns out it wasn’t a good idea to bleed people when they were sick! Imagine how many lives may have been lost from this errant procedure. But science science is self-correcting, it was able to ask questions and figure out what was going on. Why do we bleed people? What is it supposed to do? What does it really do? Science complied its research and realized, “OHMYGOD! Bleeding people is not a good idea!” and it stopped that practice in the light of its new knowledge, in favor of practices that were actually helpful. Science makes mistakes, but it learns from those mistakes and doesn’t make them again.

    Where does religion self-correct? The ills that the church has committed are the same ones they are still committing today: hate towards others, fanatic desire to convert, intolerance. It can’t correct because it is based off of ONE book, that book stays the same. If science were just like religion then we’d still be bleeding people and giving lobotomies.

    I appreciate science and I believe, as Carl Sagan said, “the method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it’s just the best we have.”

  • 57. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    NorEaster:

    First off, thanks for the perspective on your perspective. And you’re certainly right that most people know zip about the world of the deaf. Sort of odd, given that most folks seem to have some knowledge about other handicaps, that they know so little of the deaf.

    Some comments on your take on science. I can tell that you know the distinction I’m about to mention, but you often blur it or forget it. I’m speaking of the distinction between science and people that work with science. You’ve said that science isn’t objective, but then to demonstrate, you use examples of what people do with science. That’s flawed thinking.

    Example: “Granted, science SHOULD be objective, just like Christians SHOULD be compassionate.”

    You see here you use “science” (a method/tool) and juxtapose it with “Christians” (people).

    Science – the method or tool for investigating natural phenomena – is objective. But people are not objective, so they do things with science that are just wrong. Things like lying about data, misinterpreting data, or misapplying data. Science isn’t at fault there. People are.

    More anon.

  • 58. Michelle  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Pure science is objective because it falls under the Laws of God.

    The theories the scientific community declare as fact, have not been proven by the scientific method.

    theory defined by Webster’s:
    1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
    2: abstract thought : speculation
    3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
    4 a: a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b: an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory
    5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
    6 a: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b: an unproved assumption : conjecture c: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject
    synonyms see hypothesis

    So the problem comes when a theory is conjectured as fact. Evolution has not been scientifically proven – where is the missing link?

    We’re both accepting things on faith.

    Just some thoughts, not entering the debate ;)

  • 59. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    NorEaster:

    Had to address this too:

    if the biopsy I had at 29 had shown that I did have cancer and I had started on the traditional medical treatments of radiation and chemotherapy but had only lived to be 34, then “science” would have considered me a cancer “survivor.” Because the “survival” rate for cancer patients is currently five years, which means if one is diagnosed at just 3 years of age with leukemia and lives to be 8 years of age then that patient is statistically considered a “survivor” by “objective” science.

    Common, but completely incorrect misunderstandings.

    If you were diagnosed at 29, you’d have further tests to determine the extent of the cancer and the best treatment. Then you start treatment. After treatment was done, you’d be tested again to see if any cancer remained. If the tests showed you were totally free of cancer, then you would begin the 5 year countdown. If you went all 5 years, you would be declared free of the initial cancer. I.e. any cancer arising after that 5 years would be regarded as unrelated to the previous cancer. (Note you’d be more than 34 by then too.)

    If you only lived 5 years, but were not cancer-free all that time, you would not be a cancer survivor.

    Also, the survival time (not ‘rate’) for cancer patients is not 5 years. Survival ‘times’ (and ‘rates’) vary greatly depending on the type of cancer and what stage (i.e. how advanced) it is. Example: Almost all stage 1 breast cancer patients are completely cured, and live normal life spans. Almost all advanced-stage pancreatic cancer patients die within 1-2 years.

    The 5 year figure you use refers ONLY to the time from a complete cure (i.e. no cancer can be detected in the patient) until that patient is declared completely free of that specific cancer. The proper medical term for that would be “cancer free”, or “specific cancer free”.

    Lastly, the term “cancer survivor” is not a medical/scientific term. It’s a colloquial term. It has no defined meaning in the oncology field, even though it does get tossed around.

    Oh, one more thing. A little hobby-horse of mine. **Doctors (MDs) are NOT scientists. They are highly trained, medical technicians. They analyze and try to repair human bodies. It’s a bit more complicated, but essentially the same as what machine mechanics, computer repairmen, and the like do.

    Most MDs would require considerable additional training to be able to do science. Mind you, they are often smart folks, and many of them do become scientists, but an “MD” after one’s name does NOT mean you’re dealing with a scientist.

  • 60. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Michelle:

    You are using the terms “theory” and “fact” interchangeably. Since you found the definition of “theory”, go find the definition of “fact”. After that, you many, in all due humility, come back and post an “OOPS” retraction.

  • 61. orDover  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Wow…you obviously have NO idea what a “theory” means in regard to science. Try looking it up in a scientific dictionary.

    I’m going to bust out my Archaeology textbook again here, because it’s chapter on the scientific process is geared toward people who have never encountered it before.

    “Now it’s time to address the notion of theory, a common term used in several different ways. In the more casual, popular usage, a theory is simply an idea. Some times the word theory is used as a put-down, referring to an untested explanation that the speaker believes clearly to be false…A theory may also be a set of untested principles of propositions…Although both usages are common, neither has much to do with scientific theories, which are statements that to explain observed, empirical phenomena.”

    Wikipedia says, “In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation. It follows from this that for scientists “theory” and “fact” do not necessarily stand in opposition.”

    Here’s another: ” A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers.”

    In scientific terms, evolution is indeed a fact. Scientists do not “believe” or “not believe” in evolution. They either accept it as a proven theory (aka “fact”) or they deny it.

    People commonly get a scientific theory confused with a scientific law, so it will be helpful to define exactly what a law is, “This is a statement of fact meant to explain, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and univseral, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true.”

    Evolution will never become a scientific law because it DOES need complex external proofs, which it does have, by the way.

  • 62. Thinking Ape  |  February 8, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Michelle,
    What missing link?
    Everytime an assumed “missing link” is found, say between A and B, two new “missing links” for you are created – one between the new A and AB and another between AB and B. And then when a “missing link” is found between A and AB, then another two are created, and so on.
    So, I ask you, despite your supposed “missing links” – what does a skull of homo erectus mean to you? How do you explain a skull that is so similar to that of our own, yet is not our own.

  • 63. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Allow me to chime in at this point:

    Michelle said:

    Pure science is objective because it falls under the Laws of God.

    No, science is objective because it studies objective reality – a reality that we axiomatically presuppose exists. To deny it is to contradict oneself.

    Since existence exists, any object in existence will behave like itself and only itself, and act accordingly. Existence is identity, and this rule is called LOGIC. Science studies the self-ordering nature of the universe.

    The theories the scientific community declare as fact, have not been proven by the scientific method.

    I suggest you look up the difference between theory and fact in terms of science.

    theory defined by Webster’s:
    1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
    2: abstract thought : speculation
    3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art
    4 a: a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action b: an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances —often used in the phrase in theory
    5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena
    6 a: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b: an unproved assumption : conjecture c: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject
    synonyms see hypothesis

    Ok.

    So the problem comes when a theory is conjectured as fact. Evolution has not been scientifically proven – where is the missing link?

    The very fact that you asked that question shows the you don’t really know what you’re talking about Michelle. No offence.

    Species have changed from one species to another over 4 billion years. FACT. It is impossible to deny it because the evidence is overwhelming. There is just as much evidence for evolution as there is for gravity.

    Now, how we EXPLAIN gravity is with a THEORY. How we explain evolution is with a THEORY. The theory is an explanatory tool to explain some empirical FACT. Evolution is a fact, it is also a theory. Gravity is a fact, it is also a theory. Evolution is a better understand fact that gravity – did you know that?

    In answer to your question – we should not expect to find intermediate fossils for EVERY living species. We have already found them for thousands of species! Every single lifeform is in some way a LINK! Changes happen slowly over eons, so no ONE SINGLE creature is a missing link. No ape ever gave birth to a human – but both chimps and humans have a common ancestor if you go back for enough.

    We’re both accepting things on faith.

    If this was true, why don’t you accept evolution on faith then?? Wouldn’t that be the good thing to do?

    Or is your non-evolution faith better? Why? What’s your standard for comparing between faiths? Do you have some logical rational tool for doing so? Well, scientists do. It’s called Evidence. Faith is belief without evidence. Believing in god is an act of faith. Believing evolution is an act of intelligence.

  • 64. Asymptosis  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Godamn,

    “But doesn’t the reason for the divorce have some say in its morality? If a woman wants to leave a man who abuses her, is what she is doing immoral? Generally we consider something to be immoral when the a person is unjustly imposed upon by another and perceived negative effects outweigh the positive (which IMHO makes morality subjective). Is that the case with an abused woman? And what about the children. A mother has a resposibility towards her kids. It can be devastating for kids to see their mother abused. There are also severe long term psychological effects. In this case, can you consider divorce as immoral in any way? Wouldnt it be immoral for the woman to continue to let her children be exposed to psychological harm or even letting them be abused?”

    Immorality is a strong word. In hindsight, I could and should have phrased it better. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to continue using the language from Thinking Ape’s post, to which I was responding.

    Now, I did say that most immorality is understandable and forgiveable – for exactly the kinds of reasons you gave. Never-the-less, as Thinking Ape said, marriage is a breach of contract. More importantly (to me), to break your word signals that you don’t believe in yourself. Strong self-belief is necessary for happiness and success.

    And after all, what does moral mean? IIRC, it comes from a Latin word for “code”. In other words, it is a code that you follow – a disciplined way of doing things. It does not strike me as terribly disciplined to break up a marriage.

    Of course, discipline is not the be-all and end-all of life. I don’t begrudge anyone if they have a bad marriage and need to end it. I just don’t think it is too strong to consider ending a marriage a bad thing, given that you vowed at some point to uphold that marriage.

  • 65. artisticmisfit  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Asymptosis, some marriages are abusive, and the church does not require women to stay in abusive marriages. Period.

  • 66. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    artisticmisfit:

    Some churches have, and do, require just that. Appalling but true.

  • 67. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    artisticmisfit, can you find me the passage from the bible that supports that view?

    According to Jesus, anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery? And the only grounds for divorce the bible gives are adultery.

    So is the church contradicting the bible, or is there some bible passage that I’m not aware of?

  • 68. artisticmisfit  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    evanescent, the only church I can speak about is my local church which I am not willing to name out in public. I can tell you in personal confidence in private message in the forum, but that’s it. I will repeat, a woman is not required to stay in an abusive marriage. The leader of the church supports that view, in fact, that is that person’s view. And I will not name that leader because I do not want to so don’t ask who said that. I don’t need to find a passage from the bible to support that view. I am not a Sola Scriptura Christian. Since the leader of my church states that point of view, then that is all I need to adopt it. Divorce is a personal matter between the person divorcing and the leader of the church, in terms of guidance, not a public affair, and certainly not an immoral affair in instances of abuse. And please be aware when I say church I do not mean parish. Also, sexual promiscuity is not immoral for people outside the church, since we are on that subject.

  • 69. artisticmisfit  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Leo, the definition of the church is determined by the leader. This is not a subject I am willing to discuss out in public, but I would be willing to discuss it in private messaging in the forum, if you are interested. I don’t want to bring any more controversy upon myself.

  • 70. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    So on whose authority does the leader of your church operate? Is he guided by the bible or not? Who appoints him as leader? Is his foundation the bible, or his own personal opinion?

  • 71. Godamn  |  February 8, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Asymptosis,
    Hi. A marriage is in many ways, comparable to a business contract, in that both sides agree to certain terms and conditions(love, honour, respect etc.). If the husband has violated his vows by abusing his wife, then those vows she made are not applicable since the agreement has been breached and nullified. We cannot expect one side to continue to keep the vows while the other ignores it. You wouldnt let that happen in a business deal and there would be nothing immoral about it. So why should it be wrong in the case of a marriage? When you make a conditional promise to someone and that person fails to meet the conditions agreed to, would you feel you are still obligated to uphold your end of the bargain and it would be wrong to do otherwise?

  • 72. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    I agree with Godamn.

    A marriage is a trade of emotional and physical values based on love – it must be an equal trade, otherwise it would be immoral.

    Divorce is not necessarily immoral – it depends on the circumstances.

    Cheating on your spouse is immoral, because cheating itself is immoral.

  • 73. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    artisticmisfit:

    You were using the word “church” then to refer to your church. That’s the EOC as you’ve said here before. In which case, you’re right. i was going on the broader definition of “church” which includes all denominations.

  • 74. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    evanescent:

    Assuming that artisticmisfit is referring to the EOC, the authority is Apostolic Succession. EOC leaders are appointed by the EOC, and their foundation/authority is rooted in the church (EOC) through the ages.

    That’s all a very hard concept to understand. Especially if you come from a Protestant background. It took me quite a while to “get it”. Once I did, it made a hell of a lot more sense than Sola Scriptura or any other kind of authority.

    That’s just all FYI.

  • 75. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    evanescent:

    Why is cheating immoral (marital or gambling or whatever)? From whence do you get your definitions and delineations of what is moral or not?

  • 76. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I’m an Objectivist, LeoPardus – the moral is the rational. A rational person acts morally by acting consistently with their values.

    A person who cheats, just like someone who steals or lies, defies reality – they lie to themselves in doing so. A person who cheats or lies or steals make himself a parasite on others – he only survives in a particular course of action by sheer luck, or by living off the ignorance / stupidity/ innocent / hard work / property of others. He cannot wish that he lived consistently like this (because eventually he would fail / be caught out) – so he does whatever he wants when he feels like it, with no reference to moral principles. He does whatever he can get away with. Now, the rational person does not leave his success in the caprice of others, and he does not seek the unearned.

    The rational person knows that he cannot always foresee the outcome of his actions, and that he cannot live a contradiction – because to do so is to defy reality. Therefore, the rational personal lives by moral principles that dictate the best course of action over a lifetime. One of these principles is be honest. A person who lies or cheats or steals attempts to put any short time gain or momentary pleasure over the rational principles that guide his life over a lifetime – he gets his priorities completely the wrong way around, and in violating his values and acting irrationally, he is being immoral.

    I don’t necessarily expect that to make total sense to you, but I can’t explain everything in just one comment. I welcome you to read my article on morality here: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/12/08/what-is-morality-and-what-are-%e2%80%98rights%e2%80%99/

  • 77. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I should add, that the Objectivist ethics is objective and totally grounded metaphysically and epistemologically on reality. Objectivity is necessary to make any judgment, apart from “I think” or “I feel”.

    We all have feelings and opinions. So what. In order to be right and call someone else wrong ON ANY MATTER IN THE WORLD, you need objectivity, not subjectivity. Remember, all subjectivism reduces to the capricious, the inane, the nonsensical, the irrelevant, the nihilistic, the self-refuting. I say again: it is impossible to make any statement of fact with subjectivism.

  • 78. evanescent  |  February 8, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Leo, I’m going out now and won’t be able to reply until tomorrow. If you want to continue the discussion then I’ll be happy to. Until then, have a nice day with whatever you do. ;)

  • 79. karen  |  February 8, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    NorEaster:

    With all due respect, I don’t need to know the exact temperature to put on a coat before I leave the house.

    Sorry, I don’t understand this response.

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    evanescent:

    When you get back, let me know if you are an Objectivist in the general sense, or in the Ayn Rand mold. I know they’re related, but there are differences which I’m sure you’re aware of.

  • 81. artisticmisfit  |  February 8, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Evanescent, the leader of my church was consecrated by the laying of hands by His Grace’s equals. That should give you a clue. His Grace is guided by the apostolic tradition. And I said I was not comfortable discussing this stuff publicly, nor even calling attention to the fact I am not comfortable discussing this stuff publicly. His Grace was appointed the leader of the church by vote. If you want to discuss this, use private messaging in the forum, please.

  • 82. artisticmisfit  |  February 8, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Leo, I was using the word church to refer to my diocese, if you must know, and I am not comfortable talking about this in public! Please stop. Please use private messaging on the forum for further questions.

  • 83. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    NorEaster:

    I took some time to look into Ralph Moss. Do yourself a big favor. Never read pop stars for science. The amount of outright lies being propagated these days about cancer, vaccines, medicine, technology, and a host of other matters is staggering.

    Moss is one of a large number of individuals who is getting rich by lying to thousands (milliions?). He has no science training, or practical experience. But worse, he tells demonstrable lies. Simple example: He says hCG is in most cancers and is thus good for a general cancer marker. Bogus. It’s only been found in about 3-4 types. All fairly uncommon. It is used as a marker for only one type. (Of course, I did run down the references he mentioned.)

    If you want to know about cancer, you need to study it. Get a degree, read real research literature, learn how the industries (not just one notice) that are involved in cancer research and treatment work. (How they really work, not how an opportunist who’s making a cheap buck off people and counting on their ignorance.)

    Mind you, it will take years to do all this.

    Or you could think about this. Does it really make sense that all the people who study, work, investigate cancer are ALL buffoons? That they are all duped? That they are all just greedy liars? That the only honest ones are some untrained non-scientists who only publish in pop books marketed to people who aren’t educated in the field?

    I could go on, but I’d like to think you’re seeing the absurdity of it already.

  • 84. Michelle  |  February 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I went to bed with a migraine – I may need to return…

    Leo declares:
    You are using the terms “theory” and “fact” interchangeably. Since you found the definition of “theory”, go find the definition of “fact”.

    I said:
    The theories the scientific community declare as fact, have not been proven by the scientific method….So the problem comes when a theory is conjectured as fact.

    in all due humility…aren’t we saying the same thing? I said the scientific community uses theory and fact interchangeably, and therein lies the danger.

    orDover states:
    Wow…you obviously have NO idea what a “theory” means in regard to science. Try looking it up in a scientific dictionary.

    I respond:
    I read the Wikipedia source also. I chose Webster’s for its ability to concisely say the same thing, believing we could all read critically. I bolded my favorite, but understood all the others.

    Wikipedia:
    Although both usages are common, neither has much to do with scientific theories, which are statements that explain observed, empirical phenomena.”

    Webster’s definition #5:
    5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena

    Thinking Ape inquires:
    So, I ask you, despite your supposed “missing links” – what does a skull of homo erectus mean to you? How do you explain a skull that is so similar to that of our own, yet is not our own.

    I make an attempt:
    An ape. Homo erectus? Give it a latin name and all the sudden we have a link! ;)

    Evanescent quips: (re:where’s the missing link?)
    The very fact that you asked that question shows you don’t really know what you’re talking about Michelle. No offence.

    I respond:
    None taken . . . well, maybe a little . . . the ego is tender, as stated previously.

    Evanescent pontificates:
    In answer to your question – we should not expect to find intermediate fossils for EVERY living species. We have already found them for thousands of species! Every single lifeform is in some way a LINK! Changes happen slowly over eons, so no ONE SINGLE creature is a missing link. No ape ever gave birth to a human – but both chimps and humans have a common ancestor if you go back for enough.

    I respond:
    How did you go back far enough – I sure can’t? As far as I know a time machine has not yet been invented to find the EVIDENCE. How do you know your theory holds true? I think it’s called faith.

    Evanescent again:
    Or is your non-evolution faith better? Why? What’s your standard for comparing between faiths? Do you have some logical rational tool for doing so? Well, scientists do. It’s called Evidence. Faith is belief without evidence. Believing in god is an act of faith. Believing evolution is an act of intelligence.

    I pout:
    OK, now I’m offended.

    A resource y’all may not have read:
    Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael J. Behe, Ph.D., I plead my case from this reference, ‘cuz I ain’t got no Ph.D. in bio-chemistry. How about you? ;)

  • 85. orDover  |  February 8, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    Michael Behe has made a fool of himself repeatedly. Every argument that he has ever brought up has been completely shot down by true scholars. Most noticeably in the Dover trial he failed utterly to make his case in front of a judge. He was the main witness on the “intelligent design” side, peddling his lies of “irreducible complexity” which were duly dismantled by actual scientists. Even an impartial, Bible believing judge didn’t buy Behe’s bullshit.

  • 86. orDover  |  February 8, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    PS – Michelle, If you really want to understand evolution instead of just repeating the propaganda you heard at church, I recommend taking a few hours to read http://www.talkorigins.org/

    Particularly these pages-

    Evolution is a Fact and a Theory: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

    Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html

  • 87. Michelle  |  February 8, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I thought a Ph.D. in Bio-chemistry was considered actual Science. The University of Pennsylvania may need to take back his degree, since you say he’s not a true scholar.

    Thanks for the sites, I’ll look at them – but, orDover, you do assume too much. I rarely even make it to church due to a chronic illness.

  • 88. orDover  |  February 8, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Just because someone has a degree doesn’t automatically make them an expert, let alone a real scholar, believe it or not. Remember those biases we were talking about before? This is where they rear their heads.

    I’m sorry if I made an incorrect assumption, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you say the exact same thing that all other Christians do when confronting evolution: “Missing link, it’s just a theory, irreducible complexity.” Frankly, the argument is tiresome. I don’t know how many times it has to be proven wrong before it will die.

  • 89. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Michelle:

    I’m not out to offend you, but you may take it anyway. I’m having a very hard time believing that you are not being deliberately obtuse.

    You quote something from Wikipedia (a source which should be used guardedly) that I assume you mean to imply is from their page about “theory”. But try as I may, I can’t find the quote in Wikipedia anywhere.

    Here is the Wikipedia page on “Theory” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory
    Here is the Wikipedia page on “Fact” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact

    Frankly, that any adult should not know the difference between a theory and fact is a bit stunning. But then we do have an abysmal education system.

    aren’t we saying the same thing?

    Not even remotely.

    I said the scientific community uses theory and fact interchangeably, and therein lies the danger.

    Therein lies the error….. No. The scientific community (of which you are entirely ignorant) uses ‘fact’ for something that is established beyond any reasonable doubt. They use ‘theory’ for the best current understanding of something given the present state of knowledge.

    A resource y’all may not have read:
    Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael J. Behe, Ph.D.

    At least 5 people on this blog have read it that I’m sure of. I’d bet most of them have.

    I plead my case from this reference,

    As do many people. Like most pop literature, it sounds good to those who know nothing of the sciences.

    ‘cuz I ain’t got no Ph.D. in bio-chemistry. How about you?

    Undergrad= Microbiology
    Grad = Immunology/Cancer biology
    Over 20 years doing research
    Currently writing educational materials to provide further education to doctors, nurses, and other med/pharm personnel
    Thesis was in comparative immunology

    When I read Behe I was thinking, “This doesn’t ring right. Once I finish the book, I’ll have to read in the research literature to see if what he says is true. If it’s true, I’ll have to change some of my opinions.”
    Then I got to his chapter where he talked about antibodies. (See thesis topic above.) I didn’t have to go read the literature. I knew it very well. I published in it. Not only did Behe have it wrong, he also lied.

  • 90. LeoPardus  |  February 8, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I thought a Ph.D. in Bio-chemistry was considered actual Science. The University of Pennsylvania may need to take back his degree, since you say he’s not a true scholar.

    Behe is a good researcher. I’ve read some of his peer-reviewed research publications. They are fine work. But when it comes to his ID writings, he’s off base. He is personally invested in it, and for some reason he’s not wiling to back down when he is shown to be wrong. Probably insecurity.

  • 91. Michelle  |  February 8, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    orDover:
    I’m sorry if I made an incorrect assumption, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you say the exact same thing that all other Christians do when confronting evolution: “Missing link, it’s just a theory, irreducible complexity.”

    I learned the terms at university in biology class, a christian evolutionist came in for a lecture series. Sorry about the argument being tiresome, it is what many of us have a hard time reconciling.

    Leopardus:
    Therein lies the error….. No. The scientific community(of which you are entirely ignorant) uses ‘fact’ for something that is established beyond any reasonable doubt. They use ‘theory’ for the best current understanding of something given the present state of knowledge.

    How rude?! How about looking up the definitions of offend and diplomacy? ;) (I’m just kidding)

    I believe I have a “reasonable doubt” and so do many scientists, they are not ALL on board with the theory of evolution.

    You say, ” they use ‘theory’ for the best current understanding of something given the present state of knowledge.” But, you see, I believe in an omniscient God – One who has all the answers. In His present state He is knowledge. In my world-view God created science.

    The Wikipedia reference – I was quoting from orDover but I gave the wrong reference, I think she said she got that quote from an archeological text. (So much for critical reading skills ;) )

    And hey! I made very good grades in science – thank you very much! My science prof was quite upset he had to give me an A, in his 20 years of teaching at that time, he had never had a girl make an A. (His wife relayed his feelings) – but I never claimed to “know it all,” I just believe in the One who does. ;)

    Deliberately obtuse? No, I come by it naturally – I am very slow, dull and stupid. Thanks for trying not to offend. :)

    Leo: Thanks for giving Behe his due. I understand he is not well received in all circles – but who is?

  • 92. TheNorEaster  |  February 8, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    Right. Well. You know what? My faith has been challenged in my perusal of this site. And yet, at NO TIME did I ever dismiss anyone’s personal experience or educated perception about religion OR religious fundamentalism on here by saying “You obviously don’t know what you’re talking!”

    But when I had–albeit INADVERTANTLY–challenged some perceptions of science, that is precisely what I got, specifically Comments #21 and #25 (and a few others).

    I had hoped that…well, that at least SOME of you would be a bit more open-minded. Instead, I am still reeling from the whole “you have no flaming idea what you’re talking about!”

    Uh huh. And how many so-called “Christians” have said the same thing how many times to each of you?

    I’m too old for this shit.

  • 93. orDover  |  February 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    If one of us were to come along a say something completely wrong about Christianity, I’m sure a Christian would be quick to correct us. If I said that the New Testament teaches that God was wrathful and hated the world, so he sent his son Jesus to destroy the Roman empire, then you would tell me I was wrong and show me what the New Testament really says.

    In religion people accept other views and experiences (for the most part) because they are open to ideas of supernaturalism in general. If I told you I saw an angel, you might believe me. If I told you that I believed in god because of the quiet murmuring of my heart, you would accept that as a good reason.

    When you are talking about science, there are different rules. Your own experiences don’t mean anything, because we’re attempting to work within the limits of facts, which are falsifiable, testable, and repeatable. If someone had a bad experience with a doctor that does not negate science, or the scientific process. In a scientific conversation, if someone said that they saw an angel, no one would believe them. No one would just take that person’s word for it. That isn’t valid scientific proof.

    If you make a statement that is factually wrong, based on personal experience or anything else, be ready for it to be corrected. Sorry if that is too hard to swallow. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. 2+2 doesn’t equal 5, even if you really really want it to.

  • 94. TheNorEaster  |  February 8, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    Even on a rainy day, the sky is blue.

  • 95. Michelle  |  February 8, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    HIS asks:
    All else being equal, what is it that makes one believe in God and the other not?…This is not an invitation to debate – I am really interested in reading honest responses and opinions to this and my other comment #7. Type away – I will just sit back and read.

    I’m asking you:
    So, are you still out there? Would you consider these honest responses and opinions? I havent had much luck trying to inject humor into the conversation. Do you think maybe we all take ourselves way too seriously? ;)

  • 96. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2008 at 12:55 am

    NorEaster:

    The reason you got the response, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” is because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    If you started going on about something you’re not trained, educated, experienced, etc in, then you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I don’t go on at length about the history of modern art. Guess why. I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about. That’s because I haven’t studied, trained, worked, etc in modern art. If you told me I was an ignoramus in that topic, I really should just admit it’s true. To try to show that I was not would just prove that I was to anyone who did know modern art.

    So why get offended and huffy? Just be honest. There’s no real shame in being ignorant about something.

    On the other hand, if you want to be offended by not being omniscient, good luck with life.

  • 97. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Michelle:

    Have you grasped the meaning and uses of the terms “theory” and “fact”?

  • 98. Michelle  |  February 9, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Please tell me how the theory of evolution is considered a fact, when many scientists have reasonable doubts? I am totally serious.

    When the debate is still going on within the scientific community – one group accepting the theory, yet another not. How then can it be declared a fact? Scientists don’t seem to agree. Did you see the New York Times article listing all the scientists who do not agree it is fact, and want the record set straight? They are tired of it being taught in the schools as fact when they have not come to an agreement. The debate is still raging – we’re not going to settle it here.

    I hear you saying you are in the group that accepts evolution as fact. I am still waiting for the proof.

    I don’t know if I am using the terms in the way you have stated – but through my discussions I see that not all scientists see it as you do.

  • 99. Thinking Ape  |  February 9, 2008 at 2:02 am

    I make an attempt:
    An ape. Homo erectus? Give it a latin name and all the sudden we have a link!

    Yes, that is exactly it, there is a worldwide conspiracy of scientists giving fancy names to make it sound more human or to fill a link. I’m sorry, but that must sound backwards even to you. The fact is, however, that when a skull is found it, through a lengthy process, is fit into place based on the same criteria that scientists place modern animals and plants. The name comes afterwards.

    And please tell me if this looks like an ape.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_erectus
    or this
    http://anthropology.si.edu/humanorigins/ha/images/15000.jpg

    Or how about this theological nugget:
    Do you think that if there was a God, that he/she would care what sort of animals his pride and joy would look like? Does it matter that he would have used evolution to get our bodies to the point of some hairless ape? Would it matter if instead our consciousness/souls/divine spark was infused into some highly evolved chicken?

  • 100. Michelle  |  February 9, 2008 at 2:12 am

    “There has almost always been a great deal of discussion concerning the taxonomy of Homo erectus (see the 1984 and 1994 volumes of Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg), and it relates to the question whether or not H. erectus is a geographically widespread species (found in Africa, Europe, and Asia), or is it a classic Asian lineage that evolved from less cranially derived African H. ergaster.

    While some have argued (and insisted) that Ernst Mayr’s biological species definition cannot be used here to test the above hypotheses, we can, however, examine the amount of morphological (cranial) variation within known H. erectus / H. ergaster specimens, and compare it to what we see in different extant primate groups with similar geographical distribution or close evolutionary relationship. Thus, if the amount of variation between H. erectus and H. ergaster is greater than what we see within a species of, say, macaques, then H. erectus and H. ergaster should be considered as two different species. Of course, the extant model (of comparison) is very important and choosing the right one(s) can be difficult.”

    If I’m reading this correctly, it seems to be saying the classification is still questioned.

  • 101. Godamn  |  February 9, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Michelle,
    Evolution is based not on faith, but DNA. Do you know that we are 99% identical to chimps? That would explain why people behave like monkeys. Even educated scientists. We are more closely related to chimps than rats are to mice. Evolution is accepted by the vast majority of scientists. If a few dont agree, they need to bring evidence to support their claims. Much of modern medicine relies on evolutionary knowledge. How does it work if evolution is false?
    WRT theory and fact, a theory in science requires evidence to back it up. There must be logical links connected through out. If there are equally good theories, occams razor is used. If this doesnt solve the problem, then both theories are possibilities but not confirmed. This ofcourse, is provided the theories survive attempts to disprove it,
    An example to illustrate what is and isnt a theory-
    Nothing can escape the event horizon of a black hole. Consequently, the conclusion is that we can never know what happens inside it. This is not something that has proof. Consequently, it is conjecture. And that is exactly what it is called by the science community- The Cosmic Censorship Conjecture. It is not called a theory because it has no evidence to support its claim even though it is seemingy obvious.

  • 102. TheNorEaster  |  February 9, 2008 at 7:13 am

    #96 by Leo:

    Spoken like a true science fundamentalist.

  • 103. Godamn  |  February 9, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Science only accepts what can be perceived because we dont know whether something that cannot be perceived exists or not. If we cannot perceive it, how can anyone make authoritative pronouncements about the nature of such a thing. A group therapist uses the following story in discussions about god-
    Suppose I come to you oned day and say, ” Theres a fire breathing dragon in my garage”. You would obviously want to check it out.
    “Show me”, you say. I take you to my garage but its empty.
    You ask “Where is the dragon?”
    Oh, she’s right here, I say, waving my hand around. I forgot to tell you, she’s an invisible dragon.
    Ok, you say, lets spread flour on the floor so we can see the footprints being formed.

  • 104. Godamn  |  February 9, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Excellent idea, I reply, except that this dragon floats in the air.
    How about spraying some paint on her to outline her body?
    Well, I say, unfortunately this dragon is incorporeal and the paint wont stick.
    Then lets use an infra red sensor to detect the heat from the fire.
    Oh no, I say, this dragons fire is heatless, so that wont work.
    So, you keep proposing tests and I keep giving you special reasons why they wont work. Would you believe me? Whats the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating fragon that spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? Wouldnt you wonder what convinced me of the dragon when it is beyond my ability to perceive it?

  • 105. Godamn  |  February 9, 2008 at 9:05 am

    So, how exactly is the existence of god more believable than the existence of the dragon? And if I said you cannot disprove the dragons existence, would that make me right about the dragon?
    Facts are objective by definition, because they are universally perceived as the same. People may have differing interpretaions of the facts, but the fact itself is agreed upon by everyone. For example, the earth goes around the sun. Nobody can disagree with it logically in the face of the overwhelming evidence there is. The earth is not flat- thats another fact. It is objective. People are often confusing the meaning of a fact and its interpretation. Where I see water, anyone will also see water. If that isnt objective, Id like to know what is.

  • 106. evanescent  |  February 9, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Kudos to Godamn. Short but sweet – excellent comments. Once again we see that without objectivity, no definite statement is possible.

    Godamn points out that the claims of theists are absurd and not worthy of consideration. They cannot be compared to objective facts which science discovers because there is no evidence to support them. (Of course without reference to objective reality, any statement you make is just as much a matter of faith like the theists! – Godamn recognises this.)

    Godamn is also right that nonsense in biology makes sense without evolution. From breeding difference species of dogs to resistant bacteria, without an understanding of evolution, biology cannot be fully understood.

    And Leo, yes, objectivist in the Ayn Rand sense.

  • 107. evanescent  |  February 9, 2008 at 9:12 am

    ^ “that nonsense” should be “that nothing”*

  • 108. TheNorEaster  |  February 9, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Leo:

    If you really want to learn about the Ralph Moss that I was talking about, go to cancerdecisions.com

    That’s his website. In the column on the left part of the home page, you’ll find a selection of links including one titled “About Ralph Moss” and another very interesting read which I believe is called “Letter From Ralph Moss.”

    You say it will “take years” to study cancer? Well, Moss has been doing it for 30.

    I really don’t know where you ever got the idea that he was some sort of “celebrity,” but I do know that he has won a few awards for his work and his research.

    So…see for yourself. Maybe you’ll think twice before lynching me because I challenged your sci-fundyism.

  • 109. Thinking Ape  |  February 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Michelle,

    If I’m reading this correctly, it seems to be saying the classification is still questioned.

    Read that passage your quoted again.
    Despite what you might think, there are no definite line to say “here, this is where one species begins and where one ends.” We have remnants of giraffe-like animals with shorter necks, giving evidence something between horse-like mammals and modern giraffes – where along the horse-giraffe lineage we classify that animal will definitely be up for dispute, but that doesn’t defeat the fact that it is between a horse-like mammal and a modern giraffe. Likewise, there is no dispute that homo erectus is between homo ergaster and homo sapiens – it is whether ergaster is too similar to erectus to have its own classification.

  • 110. evanescent  |  February 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    ThinkingApe has explained it nicely. This is a common misunderstanding with regard to the “missing link”. There is no “half human” out there. In fact, there is no “half anything” out there. There are only creatures, which used to be previous species, which might become other species in the future. The fossil record undeniably confirms this.

  • 111. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    #102 TheNorEaster:

    Spoken as a true ignoramus who loves his happy little world of ignorance better than reality.

    I read a fair bit in Moss’ web site. He has never done cancer research. None. Ever. He got a degree (the PhD he loves to flash) in Classics. Then he went to work writing. And lying. He has only misrepresented the research and told outright lies about it. He’s making a fine living off telling those lies to ignorant people who want to feel like they’ve “got one over” on those scientists.

    Here, you want me to read Moss’ stuff and I’ve read some. Now you try.

    http://saulgreen.blogspot.com/ is one to try. Dr Green was a researcher at Sloan Kettering. He actually went to the department of Public Affairs there and asked them if Ralph Moss had ever been the assistant director of the department as he claims. They checked their records and found that Ralph Moss never held that position. He was only a “medical writer” there.

    You can try QuackWatch if you like too.

  • 112. LeoPardus  |  February 9, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Michelle:

    Have you grasped the meaning and uses of the terms “theory” and “fact”?

    I’m repeating the question verbatim because you aren’t dealing with it. I am not talking about evolution, or flat earth-ism, or jackalopes. I’m trying to see if you can grasp the difference in use and meaning of two English words.

  • 113. TheNorEaster  |  February 9, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    #111 by Leo:

    Did I not say that some science is considered “legitimate” and yet that same branch validates it’s own dominant position by labelling other science as “quackery,” in the same way one sect of Christianity is considered “legitimate” while that same branch validates its own dominant position by labeling another branch as “heresy?”

    By the way, Moss was fired from Memorial Sloan-Ketting for refusing to publicly lie about laetrile in the 70s, which had been proven to prohibit metastasis in scientifiic tests on mice at a rate of 80%–which is proven scientific fact, not a theory. Laetrile is found in over 1,200 plants, including brown rice. But The Establishment found “no pleasure where no profit is taken.” So although this scientifically proven test challenged conventional thinking in such a way that the scientific Establishment would have lost huge profits, The Powers That Be at Sloan-Kettering told Moss to lie about it. He refused. And lost his job. Since then, he has been gathering and evaluating and discussing data on cancer treatments, especially “unconventional” treatments, some of which were around in Eastern cultures thousands of years before Science, as we know it today, even existed.

    You can certainly insult me for having a different a point of view than your own on this subject, but, with all due respect, the more responses of yours that I read the more I am convinced that you really are, indeed, a sci-fundy.

    So, by all means, feel free to insult me once again. I’ll be happy to be called an “ignoranamus” who “doesn’t have a flaming idea what he’s talking about.”

  • 114. Michelle  |  February 9, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Leo asks:
    Have you grasped the meaning and uses of the terms “theory” and “fact”?

    I’m repeating the question verbatim because you aren’t dealing with it. I am not talking about evolution, or flat earth-ism, or jackalopes. I’m trying to see if you can grasp the difference in use and meaning of two English words.

    My response:
    I guess not. I have tried, I will keep trying. I admit, I am dense, but we can use your term again and just call me obtuse or an ignoramus – it seems to be your way. I’m OK with that. ;)

  • 115. Iris  |  February 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I haven’t seen this much anger in a thread on this site…well, ever. Lots of insolence! Noreaster, I don’t know who this Moss dude is, but I think that the scientific establishment is inhibited, warped and molded by the profit motive. This may be most apparent to the layperson (like myself) in the medical industry. Paradigms that we operate in also effect scientific discovery, theory development, etc. Scientists, professors and researchers are fired for dissenting opinions. I think your anger with the health care industry, the uneven progress of science, and some horrible medical practices–past and present–is justifiable. It should be placed on the fact that health care/research grants are part of an ‘industry’ in the first place.
    I have to agree with Leopardus, however, that the economics, culture and human behavior that make up the science ‘industry’ or the institution of science–they are a whole other barrel of fish when compared to the scientific method in and of itself.

    Of course, because there is competition for grants and prestige in the ‘industry’, there is corruption, plagiarism, suppression, theft, distortion and promotion of untruths (regardless of how many patients are dying, or what have you) to suit the whoever is holding the cash. There are a lot of fetters on human creativity, and health care is definitely very ugly in the U.S. Capitalism hinders research and discovery. The scientific method is unchanging, like math, I think.

  • 116. Thinking Ape  |  February 10, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Some of these recent comments, I believe, are getting mixed up between the scientists and their corporate employers. Please try to remember that the United States’ unbridled capitalism and barbaric health practices are not representative of the entire world.

  • 117. LeoPardus  |  February 10, 2008 at 1:00 am

    NorEaster:

    Laetrile didn’t do anything when tried in humans. Many compounds that work in mice don’t work in humans.

    Even Moss no longer includes Laetrile in his list of alternative treatments for cancer.

    He does still claims he was assistant director of public affairs for Sloan Kettering. But he was not.

    Now if you think some science is legitimate, do you think some is illegitimate? If so, how would you be able to tell the difference?

  • 118. LeoPardus  |  February 10, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Michelle:

    If you think you understand the terms “fact” and “theory”, then provide definitions in your own words showing the difference between them.

  • 119. LeoPardus  |  February 10, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Anger. Yes. That would be the word. I admit it. I am absolutely furious.

    I invested my life in understanding disease and how to fight it. My education, my career have been dedicated to finding cures. And pardon me a moment while I toot my horn.

    It is because I did what I did (and several others who I worked with) that AIDS victims are no longer under a death sentence. It was the lab I was in that first found that combinations of drugs could drive the virus down so far that we couldn’t detect it anymore. And within a few years, we saw the death rate drop off.

    It wasn’t Ralph Moss, or any other lying opportunist bastard with their naturopathic super cures, who stopped those people from DYING. It was me and dozens of others who spent years educating ourselves, and more years doing the hard, tedious work, and gathering the volumes of data, … in short doing the science.. who found the cure.

    And it won’t be dolts with no knowledge in their heads, or lying leeches, or snake oil sellers, or critics, or malcontents, who find cures for MS, or SLE, or any cancer, or anything else. Just as it wasn’t those sorts of scum who found cures for leukemia, or gangrene, or anything else.

    No. It will be me, and the thousands of others who know what they are doing and talking about, because we invested the time to learn, and did the work.

    So everyone can just bloody well pardon me if I do get bloody pissed at people who have no more knowledge in their heads than a doorstop, who have the arrogant gall to tell me I don’t know what I’m about.

    And you know what though? If I ever find Ralph Moss (the lying bastard who is hurting and even killing people by deceiving them into not getting proper care) in an accident, I’ll patch him up and get him to a hospital. And the professionals at the hospital do what they can to fix him. Even if they know who and what he is. Why will we do that? Because we are better than him. And we always will be because we don’t lie and kill and act irresponsibly.

    But sometimes we do get thoroughly pissed.

  • 120. TheNorEaster  |  February 10, 2008 at 1:35 am

    On Leo #1117:

    In response to your question, “Now if you think some science is legitimate, do you think some is illegitimate? If so, how would you be able to tell the difference?”

    I think that Iris answered that pretty accurately in Comment #115. And, as someone pointed out, 2 + 2 will always equal 4.

    But I suppose the point that I have been trying to make is that you can always pay someone to say that 2 + 2 = 5.

    When that happens, I start asking questions about “science.”

  • 121. Godamn  |  February 10, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Boy, this is the biggest war of words Ive been involved in. Going a little off topic to lighten the mood a little and also in view of the rash of recent shootings, I felt this song is appropriate.
    Republicans close your eyes. You may not like it.

    Bush & Cheney Theme Song
    We didn’t want to fire
    (sung to tune of “We didnt start the fire”)

    GOP says guns are really healthy,
    You want proof just look at Cheney.
    Ol’ Dick has been showing the way,
    he’s been shooting all his aides,
    Soon he will be done with them
    Then Virginia’s in for hell!

    Chorus ( by Pres. Bushed)
    We dint want fire,
    but that Mad man Sad-Damn,
    He hid his anthrax.
    How could we have known that
    the only gas he had
    was the one that smelled bad?

    Hope you guys like it.

  • 122. orDover  |  February 10, 2008 at 4:51 am

    I know I’m getting here a little bit late to be responding, but Michelle said:

    “Did you see the New York Times article listing all the scientists who do not agree it is fact, and want the record set straight?…The debate is still raging”

    On February 8, 2007, the Discovery Institute said that they had a list of over 700 scientists who supported intelligent design. 700? Is that a big number? It’s pretty significant, right?

    In response to these sorts of lists, the National Center for Science Education started their own, but with a bit of a twist: the only people who could sign the list were scientists with the name Steve (or any similar variant, like Steven, Stephen). They have over 860 names so far. That’s 860 scientists named Steve who accept evolution.

    Abut 1% of the people in the United States are named Steve (or a close variant of) so if you assume that all scientists with any name were allowed to sign the list the number is expected to increase by 100 for every one Steve, so that approximately 86,000 scientists. Compare that to 700. This Steve list indicates that about 98% of scientists (JUST in the US alone) accept evolution.

    Also it’s interesting to note, “The list of Steves is far more prestigious than any list of living scientists the creationists have ever produced. It includes Nobel Prize winners, members of the National Academy of Sciences, and influential authors such as Stephen Hawking. It is telling that creationist lists tend to be lean on practicing research biologists. In contrast, about two-thirds of the scientists on NCSE’s list are biologists, who are the most qualified to evaluate whether the evidence favors evolution. Another point is that the NCSE’s list includes the information on where the Steves got their degrees and their current position. By not doing so, the creationist lists do not make it obvious how many of the people listed are not practicing scientists.” Ouch.

    To recap, there are more scientists name Steve who support evolution than ALL of the scientists who support creationism put together! Double ouch.

  • 123. evanescent  |  February 10, 2008 at 7:25 am

    LeoPardus’ last comment is excellent – he has every right to be damned angry! Well said.

    Oh, and Iris, Capitalism is most definitely not responsible for the state of American healthcare of any other healthcare. Capitalism actually offers the SOLUTION to the healthcare problems in any country, and the opposite, the socialistist welfare state with government meddling is what artificially inflates prices and raises the cost of healthcare and messes up the economy. If you viewed healthcare like a service to be paid for, like any other, your misunderstandings on this would quickly evaporate. This isn’t the thread to discuss this, but I wanted to defend capitalism for any readers.

    And kudos again to LeoPardus for making such a fulfilling career for himself. It is people like this who the creators, the producers, that any society needs. They should be paid for their hard work and intelligence and allowed to flourish and express their creativity to the maximum (which is exactly what Capitalism demands).

  • 124. Thinking Ape  |  February 10, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    evansecent,
    There is a huge difference between capitalism and extreme libretarianism. The United States swings between both. Ask any European or Canadian if they would give up their tax system for an American-style health care system and you will find a resounding “NO.”
    But you are right, this is not the place for this discussion. Just be careful if you are going to state things like “the socialistist welfare state with government meddling is what artificially inflates prices.” No one is talking about overbloated extremist socialism, just basic human decency. What you say about artificially inflated prices is fallacious and anyone outside of the United States can vouch for that.

  • 125. evanescent  |  February 10, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Thinking Ape, I live in England and I would most certainly give up the NHS and welfare state for a free society where healthcare is a service to be paid for like any other. No one demands that restaurants work for free or give money to beggars, so why should doctors? No one has the right to the property of others – no one. Not you, not me, not government. As for human decency, that is what charity is for. The wealthier people are, the more they can and do give to charity – the US proves this by being the most generous country on earth.

    As you say this isn’t the place but I stand by the comments: you will find that a welfare state artificially decreases competition and service and drives up the cost of healthcare. I would like the chance to discuss this further, but before we do, I STRONGLY suggest anyone read this http://theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-winter/moral-vs-universal-health-care.asp
    …before trying to defend socialism.

    Ape, I’m not a Libertarian, I’m an Objectivist – which means I suppose laissez-faire capitalism.

  • 126. evanescent  |  February 10, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Additionally, I invite you to read my article on this matter here: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/abolish-the-welfare-state/

  • 127. Thinking Ape  |  February 10, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    evanescent,
    This discussion, as we have both mentioned, is not suited for this place and is not likely to be resolved. I will only close that for the majority of my life I supported the Reform/Canadian Alliance party in Canada which is comparable to the Republican party of the United States. My switch to moderate “socialism”, or at least left-wing politics, was, ironically enough, originally a religious decision based on the Sermon on the Mount.

    I do not know how the health care system works on Britain, but I do know that the country has headed towards totalitarianism in many avenues. In Canada the government does not control our health system – it gives government subsidies and grants and has no rights to “meddle.”

    The wealthier people are, the more they can and do give to charity – the US proves this by being the most generous country on earth.

    This is the only issue I think is worth addressing since it is the only one that won’t draw into a long socialist vs capitalist debate. The United States is not the most generous country on the earth. I am sure you are referring to a relatively recent report on contributions to charities. I would then like you to check out http://chraitynavigator.org and take a look around. The reason that Americans give more to charities than any other nation in the world is because of religious organizations. A church is a charity. A parachurch organization is a charity. A camp that people send their kids off to get brainwashed into fundamentalism is a charity. The majority of the money donated by Americans goes to faith-based charities. Many of those charities have horrendous administration to program expense ratios, meaning that a high percentage majority of the money you give to charities goes to the CEOs and staff of the charity rather than the people that actually need it.

    As for whether you think that the average middle-class American is wealthier (and hence more generous) than that of someone from England – I’ll continue to let you do your own research, I’m not going to convince you of anything.

  • 128. karen  |  February 10, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Congratulations, LeoPardus, on your stellar and lifesaving work. You and others like you are owed a huge debt of gratitude from all of us who benefit from your hard work, intellect and innovation.

    As for the quacks who criticize and snark and throw mud at the accomplishments of science and medicine, I don’t blame you for being furious. Furious and sad, probably, at the same time.

    I join you in your frustration, and I hope that I and others can do a little bit, somehow, to set the record straight. It’s a tough road and I really don’t understand why, for the life of me.

  • 129. HeIsSailing  |  February 10, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    Michelle asks:
    “I’m asking you:
    So, are you still out there? Would you consider these honest responses and opinions? I havent had much luck trying to inject humor into the conversation. Do you think maybe we all take ourselves way too seriously? ”

    Well – I guess so. But my original question has not been commented on – the comment trail sort of morphed into the evils of science then the validity of evolution via natural selection. I confess, I sort of lost interest and stopped reading the comments around that point. I instead turned off the computer and went for a hike in the hills. Much more edifying.

    Let me repeat my question from comment #14:

    Michelle, or anyone else for that matter, why do you consider Faith to be a greater process for determining truth than reasoned skepticism?

    Let me also add this question: what is the process of faith for determinng truth, as opposed to something like the scientific method of determining truth – that of hypothesis, experimentation, theorizing, rinse and repeat?

  • 130. TheNorEaster  |  February 10, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Leo:

    If Moss’s work bothers an accomplished man of science such as yourself so much, might I suggest that you contact him directly? (You probably already know that his hard mailing address can be found on his website.)

    You have obviously accomplished much, and for that I congratulate you. Sincerely. I could, of course, point out what I have accomplished because of my convictions and my faith, but it has become very clear to me that doing so would be futile now. And I will admit that it does sadden me to see that I have been tried, convicted, and lynched in the comments for having a different point of view on science. As I have said, I had thought that more of the people here would be more open-minded, in the same way that when someone challenges or questions my particular faith I often see an opportunity to learn.

    Perhaps it would help to explain my own point of view if I explained that when my doctor said, “It’s might be cancer,” I chose to examine every possible option, even those which are deemed quackery. And I did this, in part, because the same doctor who said, “It might be cancer” also told me the story that same afternoon about twin brothers who had developed the same cancer and had received the same treatment (chemotherapy, in this case). One survived. One died. And yet that doctor also said, and this is a direct quote, “To this day, I can’t tell you why one survived and one didn’t.”

  • 131. HeIsSailing  |  February 10, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Michelle says regarding evolution via natural selection:

    “When the debate is still going on within the scientific community – one group accepting the theory, yet another not. How then can it be declared a fact?”

    Michelle, I am another scientist. Granted, I am not in micro-biology like LeoPardus. My field is optical physics. I am published and I have been doing active research for about 15 years. I prefer not to toot my own horn. The point is that I know first hand that there is no debate among scientists regarding evolution. None. Zero. Just like there is no debate among scientists regarding a universe of roughly 13.7 billion years old. I go to physics symposiums every week, and I have yet to hear a physicist give any evidence of a universe of 6000 years old. There are a very small number of scientists who disagree to these theories, but their stands are based on religious, not scientific objections. They are so small in number as to be insignificant.

    To say that there is an ongoing debate among scientists regarding the validity of evolution is like saying there is a debate raging concerning the validity of water dousing. Just because some credentialed scientists promote it does not mean there is any kind of debate.

    Mind you, there are a number of religious and Christian scientists who do not find research that validates evolution to be mutually exclusive to their faith. As a Christian, I was one of them. Accepting or rejecting Darwinism had no bearing on my leaving Christianity. But it is what it is.

  • 132. Michelle  |  February 11, 2008 at 1:26 am

    HIS:

    This was my original answer to your question from comment 12:

    SOME people believe reason is the most important value a human being can have. I believe it is important, but it doesn’t trump faith.

    Your next quesstion came:
    Michelle, or anyone else for that matter, why do you consider Faith to be a greater process for determining truth than reasoned skepticism?

    I tried to answer with what I understand – it was inadequate due to my knowledge and lack of communication skills. I said:

    I observe and see God – you observe and see Science. It’s totally personal.

    If it could be completely understood then it wouldn’t be faith. I cannot get my mind around God – His ways are not my ways, and His thoughts are not my thoughts – I am just a tiny ant in the whole scheme of things, so I put my trust in something greater than myself.

    This seemed to be the point of contention. SOME scientists speak as though they are all-knowing. I contend no one knows everything. I know many scientists and am amazed at their level of cognition, but I don’t bow the knee to Science. At some point we are putting our “trust” or “faith” in an unknown.

    I choose to believe God is in the unknown. Not everything can be proved through the scientific process. I cannot give you a process for Love, Faith, Hope, or God. It won’t fit in a test tube. Some things are metaphysical and some things are philosophical – some things you just “feel.”

    I don’t really have any other way to explain it. Please forgive my inabilities in communicating. I am trying to be honest and humble, I’m sorry it did not come off that way.

    Blessings to everyone, ~Michelle ;)

  • 133. HeIsSailing  |  February 11, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Michelle, sorry I missed your original response. It got lost in the mix of comments. Don’t worry – you communicate just find, and I know you are doing your best to be honest and straightforward in your opinions.

    You said,
    “some things you just “feel.””

    and that is why I cannot be a Christian any longer. Because people can and do feel *anything* regarding the unknowable. There are no rules. There is no process other than haphazard chance of where and when you are born and what religious culture you happen to be immersed in. Yet, when we are told that somehow we must develop the correct Faith by a random, haphazard process of feeling, and that we are held eternally responsible for which Faith we develop… well I am sorry, but I just cannot buy that. I bought it for over forty years, but I have read too much of the wrong material – and I am past the point of no return to Christianity as I knew it. There may be a God, Higher Power, all-knowing Creator, or whatever out there – what do I know? But there is no way that my “feeling” is going to be able to discern if that Being(s) exists, what that Being(s) is like, and what, if anything that Being(s) wants from me. Theologians have wrestled with these problems for centuries, their ideas change as society and cultures change, and if they have not yet reached a stable and solid agreement or understanding on these problems, I sure am not going to by just feeling it. If the Christian God wants to be known, I am sure he is powerful enough to make himself known to us poor human slobs. But face it – God is a terrible communicator.

  • 134. HeIsSailing  |  February 11, 2008 at 8:02 am

    Michelle says:
    “This seemed to be the point of contention. SOME scientists speak as though they are all-knowing.”

    who? Seriously.. .who? There may be one or two unstable, megalomanical scientists out there who think they are all-knowing, but I have never met them. Scientific and technological marvels have so permeated our culture that we are not even aware of their influence on even the smallest details of our lives. It has a tremendous track record. Speaking as a physicist, the more you learn about how this world works, the more humble you become. Almost every scientist I know speaks the same way regarding this – the more we know, the more we realize we do not know. The mad scientist who thinks they know everything are charicatures that exist only in the movies and Jack Chick tracts.

    Michelle:
    ” I contend no one knows everything.”

    So does everyone else.

  • 135. Iris  |  February 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I just wanted to jump in and say I do not have scientists who do good work (props to Leopardus, your anger is legit); I was just saying in my post that the scientific method and the profit motive that tied into research and the results it puts out are two completely seperate things. Thats all.

  • 136. Iris  |  February 11, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    First sentence should read “do not have scientists and corporate employers mixed up”. Sorry.

  • 137. empy  |  February 17, 2008 at 4:50 am

    HIS & Michelle,

    Why can’t you see it in this light? The Bible and science deal with two totally different areas of human life. Science deals with the physical world and the Bible is about the moral world. One without the other is simply incomplete.

    There is no need to find any contradiction between creation and evolution as the Bible clearly says that earth appeared first, then came plant life and it was followed by animal life. Man came to the scene only at the last stage. We see general agreement between the two. I believe that God was behind that evolutionary process which I call creation.

    I say that the Bible has nothing to say about the age of the universe at all. In fact it is only logical for a Bible believer to think that the universe is indeed millions of years old. The word ‘day’ in Genesis could never be understood as twenty four hour day. We say that a day is twenty four hours on earth based on earth’s relation to our Sun. We know that day is not twenty four hours in Mars, for example. According to the Bible the Sun and the moon came to the picture only on the forth stage of creation. How could the day then be twenty four hours before that? Day in Genesis is ‘geological day’ and it could be millions of years in duration.

    That our universe is guided by immutable laws is unquestionable. That every action has its equal and opposite reaction is a universal law of science. This is true both in the physical and in the moral realm. Since every man failed miserably in the moral realm, God in His love has made a provision in Christ which if any one accepts would be beneficial for that individual. If some one does not want that provision, that individual is wholly responsible for his/her actions.

    God to me is not a mere feeling. I transact business with Him on a daily basis. As for me I handed over my case to Christ and He is now responsible for me. My past is forgiven and as I continue to take advice from Him daily, I am strengthened for day to day living. This I did just as I hand over a civil case to an advocate because I can not handle it alone. If some other person can handle it alone, let him/her do it alone.

    Christ to day is my advocate and I know that He is going to be my judge tomorrow. I think it is very wise on my part to hand over my case to today’s advocate who is going to be tomorrow’s judge. What do you think?

  • 138. nifty  |  February 27, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Well said empy.
    Some interesting reading in this blog.
    I don’t believe I am any more or less moral than others. I am simply a Christian.
    So I surrender to the fact that I am failed morally. I make Jesus Christ Lord of my life. I can only do that through repentance.
    Does that mean that I simply bust my gut to not be immoral?
    or does it mean metanoia?
    My thinking has changed from one that was under condemnation of sin to one that has freedom in grace.
    So where is the room for guilt? there is none.
    Does that mean there is room for immorality? not at all.
    Does it mean that my beliefs are compromised if I fail morally? No.

    Is a Christian incapable of reason? No, but the religous can be.

    I do not understand how an athiest can reason that there is no God. How can one determine such a thing with the limited experience that all of us have?
    I would not declare that there is no God without first searching my entire life… just in case.. I was wrong.
    What if my reasoning was flawed? pretty big error in judgement. I would suggest that ones reasoning is too limited to determine there is no God.

    I grew up in a religous home and thought it was all a load of crap. I came to the point where I had that thought… If I was to determine there was no God, I would go beyond reason and exhaust all possibilities.
    That path lead me to God. I chose to put my faith (hope in the unseen) in Christ. Once I did that, I came into a relationship with Christ where I now know that God does indeed exist.
    I do not reason that he exists. It is something undeniable. If I was to determine in my mind that He was not real, I know deep inside that I would be lying to myself.
    No matter the weight of doubt or reasoning of others, I cannot accept there is no God anymore.

    I do see that many can experience religiosity without having a true connection with God. I would expect that the dissapointment of such an experience would encourage atheistic rationale. That is certainly what I experienced.

    Now at the end of my post it is time for athiests to determine where my thinking is wrong, and that I have the wrong reasoning.
    Precisely.
    For some, faith is too unreasonable.

    Is there reason to believe?

  • 139. evanescent  |  March 4, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I don’t believe I am any more or less moral than others. I am simply a Christian.

    So being a christian doesn’t make you any more or less moral? What’s the point then?

    I do not understand how an athiest can reason that there is no God. How can one determine such a thing with the limited experience that all of us have?
    I would not declare that there is no God without first searching my entire life… just in case.. I was wrong.

    For the same reason that square circles are impossible. I don’t need to explore the entire world to know that I’ll never find a square circle. For the same reason, I know that “god” doesn’t exist – asking me to search the entire universe to make sure is an appeal to omniscience and an argument from ignorance.

    I chose to put my faith (hope in the unseen) in Christ. Once I did that, I came into a relationship with Christ where I now know that God does indeed exist.

    So you abandoned reason and followed your emotions? You went with what you felt instead of what reality dictated.

    I do not reason that he exists. It is something undeniable. If I was to determine in my mind that He was not real, I know deep inside that I would be lying to myself.

    There’s only one alternative to reason: emotionalism. Reason describes reality, emotions don’t. All the feelings in the world don’t make your opinion true.

    No matter the weight of doubt or reasoning of others, I cannot accept there is no God anymore.

    Your choice – but don’t ask anyone else to believe your imagination. This includes telling people they’re going to hell for not believing.

    Now at the end of my post it is time for athiests to determine where my thinking is wrong, and that I have the wrong reasoning.

    You haven’t presented a rational argument for me to fault. You’ve merely stated how you feel about something. I can’t deny your feelings. I can only deny that they are based on reality.

  • 140. empy  |  March 8, 2008 at 10:39 am

    evanescnt,

    You said,”So being a christian doesn’t make you any more or less moral? What’s the point then?”

    If for nothing else, I have an advocate to plead my case (1Jn.2:1). That makes me safer than being all alone. My advocate has already paid the price for me,… and if you wish to take it, he paid yours too (1Jn.2:2).

    You said, “For the same reason that square circles are impossible. I don’t need to explore the entire world to know that I’ll never find a square circle. For the same reason, I know that “god” doesn’t exist – asking me to search the entire universe to make sure is an appeal to omniscience and an argument from ignorance.”

    How dare you compare God with square circles? Any knowledgeable person will tell you that being an atheist is no more logical than being a theist. Logically both positions have the same value. Both can NOT be proved. What does the de-conversion wager say? If there is indeed a god…! I say, no one can be absolutely sure and say that there is no god.

    But to me it is more logical to think that life emergerd from life thn to think that life emerged from matter and that matter emerged from ‘nowhere’.

    You said, “So you abandoned reason and followed your emotions? You went with what you felt i ”

    By no means! I have sufficient reson to believe that Jesus lived, died and that He rose again. I do not need any more reason to believe in God. It stands or falls with Jesus and His resurrection.

    My feelings came later to support my reason. I do indeed feel His presence every day as I pray and get downright results. No one can question it. My faith is based on reason. My feelings just substantiate my faith. It is surely not based on feelings at all.The Bible axiom is ‘know and believe’(1Jn.4:16).
    NOT ‘feel and believe’.

    You said, “You haven’t presented a rational argument for me to fault. You’ve merely stated how you feel about something.nstead of what reality dictated.”

    No one ever spoke like Jesus did. He said, “heaven and earth will pass away, but words will not”. Could you find a such quotation in any ancient or modern writing at all? I ‘d love to read it. He not only said that, He proved it in His life. He said He would die and rise again, and He did indeed rose again from the grave. To me the greatest evidence for the resurrection is not merely the empty tomb, but the martrydom of ten of His disciples in ten different parts of the world. Could you think of some one dying for a lie which they themselves made-up? They were all mature men, not a few brain-washed teen-agers like today’s suicide bombers!

    Jesus also said, “The words I speak to you will judge you in the last day”. Be sure, a day of reckoning is coming any one who is wise will be prepared for the same.

  • 141. Thinking Ape  |  March 8, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    empy, I will let evansecent continue the discussion, but what do you mean by

    it is more logical to think that life emergerd from life thn to think that life emerged from matter

    ?

    As far as I am concerned, and I hoped you learned this in Science 8, our bodies, like it or not, are made of… matter. Just like the air we breathe and the gold we wear, we are atoms. Whether you want to add a spiritual element to that, that is a different matter (no pun intended). Life was able to emerge from “non-life” exactly because of that. I hope you do not stake your entire faith on such arbitrary terms, or else you may find yourself in the same position as the Catholic church did during the Copernican revolution.

  • 142. Kabibe  |  June 23, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Hello everyone. It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race. Help me! It has to find sites on the: Topamax for obesity. I found only this – what is topamax. From april sixteen reports of severe side effects from lamisil were received by the fda. Lamisil cream otc no prescription lamisil cream anti fungal cream terbinafine hydrochloride. With best wishes :confused:, Kabibe from Congo.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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