Sunday, May 14, 2006

On Evolution and Intelligent Design

I am in the middle of reading a great book, Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

I challenge all you evolutionists and anti-ID people to make your case. Explain to me how it is more reasonable to believe that non-living matter naturally morphed into living matter, and that living matter evolved into all the species.

I have several scientific objections to this.

1. The Second Law of Thermodynamics - Natural processes tend to cause an increase of entropy (or disorder for the lay person). In fact, the entropy of the entire universe is forever increasing.

2. My sources tell me that there are all kinds of gaps in the fossil record. Apparently, this was true during Darwin's time, but he optimistically guessed that over time, archaeological discoveries would fill in the gaps. It has been over a century, and it appears that the gaps will never be filled in. While there have been some adaptive changes within species (microevolution), the fossils do not show a gradual process of one species evolving into another species (macroevolution). Also, if macroevolution was true, then it would seem that there would be hundreds of millions of animals that were somewhere half way (or quarter way or three-quarters way) between our supposed ancestors and human beings. As it is, the species all seem to be very unique. Sure there are similarities between apes, chimpanzees, and humans. But there are still very distinctive differences between those species. Where are the ape-men?

3. The principle of irreducible complexity. Apparently, Darwin believed that cells were fairly simple - little blobs of goo. Since then, the field of celluar microbiology has taken off. Today we know that each living cell is like a factory. There are thousands of functions going on all the time. Enzymes are utilized to time everything. Cells are incredibly complex. So, the principle of irreducible complexity says this: A mousetrap does not work without all of its key components assembled together in the proper way. Merely having most of the key components will not enable you to catch mice. You need all the key components, and they all have to be assembled in place. Then the mousetrap will work. So it must be with cells. The functions of a cell can not be performed, unless all the key chemicals are present and assembled in the proper way. Remember, cells are like factories; much more complex than mousetraps.

4. DNA - No one denies that there is all kinds of information stored in the DNA of living cells. DNA is as complicated, if not more complicated, as computers.

Now, evolutionists would have us believe that all of this came about by chance. But common sense seems to say something different.

If you go to the beach and you see complex sand castles, you don't infer, "Wow. The wind and the waves made that?!" No. You infer that a person was there who put those sand castles together.

If you have the game of Scrabble, a pet dog, and a few children, and you discover the Scrabble board with all kinds of legitimate words assembled on the board in a way that was obviously according to the rules of a Scrabble game, you don't infer that the dog must have got into the Scrabble game. You infer that the kids were playing Scrabble.

If you are a detective, and you discover that someone died because of poison rather than natural causes, you infer that he was murdered or perhaps committed suicide (design).

If you are an archaeologist, and you discover writing on cave walls, you don't infer that the weather must have been pretty peculiar in that place, but that people were there.

So, then, common sense seems to say, given the incredible ordered complexity of life, that we didn't happen (by chance), but that we were designed by an Intelligence.

However, millions of evolutionists find this ridiculous and even abhorrent. This has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with philosophical commitments. These evolutionists have determined that there must be a natural explanation for all of life. The universe must be a closed-system. The supernatural is impossible. Indeed, science has been defined to marginalize the supernatural. But these ideas (there must be a natural explanation / the supernatural is impossible / the universe is a closed system), are not scientific. They are expressions of philosophical and, dare I say religious, beliefs. Science has been defined by some as applied naturalism. They have presupposed philosophically that there must be a natural explanation for everything. They are so committed to this, that they will disregard the common sense of honest inductive science. We see ordered complexity; we see life in all of its wonder and beauty, and we come to the inductive conclusion that we are the result of Intelligent Design.

But this is not permitted to be taught in public school biology classes, because the secular fundamentalists fear theocracy. This is utterly crazy, but they actually do have some rational fears. ID suggests that there is a God. If there is a God, and we have been designed by God, then the rest of the Christian gospel and theology might follow. Simply put, many people hate the gospel. So, even without substantial scientific evidence to support the hypothesis of evolution, and even with substantial scientific evidence that seems to support the hypothesis of ID, due to secular humanistic naturalistic philosophical commitments and presuppositions, evolution continues to be taught as truth in public schools, and ID is not. This is not objective scientific inquiry. This is politics at its worst.

50 Comments:

Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

As a former biologist and since my whole work wouldn't have been possible without using the principles of evolution, I feel uniquely "called" to reply to this post. :)

Evolution is a scientific fact in this sense: IF you give us lifeforms, and if you let those lifeforms loose, they WILL start to evolve into things.

Evolution is happening around us. HIV and the Common Cold and the Flu would not be possible without evolution-- we can make a cure for any one strain of the virus, but we can never eradice them, because they evolve so quickly that they can adapt to whatever we try to do to kill them off. If evolution isn't possible, what accounts for the new strains of virus that keep popping up year after year after year-- is God creating them spontaneously as we speak out of nothing before our very eyes? Surely not-- the viruses are evolving.

This is why you absolutely have to finish all your penicillin. If you don't take every last drop of it, some bacteria could survive, and they could evolve a resistance to the antibiotic.

So, if you want to call that Mircoevolution, that's fine. but it's critical that we understand that microevolution IS occuring all around us. Without that, nothing in medicine or ecology makes sense.

--

I also think it's important to realize that IF we created lifeforms and put them on Earth and allowed them to sit there for six billion years without anyone interfering with them, they WOULD evolve into completely different things over time, just through the process of microevolution we see all around us. A thousand tiny changes add up to large changes, and over 4,000,000,000 years, you would see some very large huge changes.

Now, all that said:

1. I can't prove to you that the earth has existed for four billion years if it's a matter of faith to you that it hasn't. I can show you lots of good reasons that scientists think that's the right amount of time, but maybe God made the earth six thousand years ago, and just made it "look old".

2. Remember-- science has no clue how life first formed here. Evolution does not explain that yet. We just don't know. If you want to believe God made the first single-celled organisms, well.. we don't have any good evidence to argue with you. Not really.

--

BUT, despite those philosophical asides-- despite the fact that I can't prove you wrong if you consider it an article of faith that God created us from nothing six thousand year ago-- despite all that, I have to tell you honestly. Man.. there's a LOT of really good evidence that evolution is real.

Everything fits perfectly to look like evolution happened. It really clicks. We find fossils of dinosaurs with feathers-- the first steps between reptiles and birds. We find fossils of australopithicuses-- these half monkey-half human looking things. The radioactive dating ALWAYS matches up perfectly with what we would expect. time and time and time and time again, we find exactly what evolution would predict. If God DIDN't use evolution as part of the creation, he certainly created a world that looked like it had evolved.
----

You say: "Explain to me how it is more reasonable to believe that non-living matter naturally morphed into living matter"

I really can't. Any scientists who claims to have this one figured out is lying. I can say, on general philosophcal grounds: If there is no God, then of course life had to evolve from non-living matter. If there is a God, it seems to me that he has a very grand scale and seems to do very complex things. Looking around, he doesn't seem to like to use miracles very often-- most things is life, from the movement of the planets to the motion of the stars to the changing of the seasons are done not through spontaneous miracles, but through the simple laws of physics. God seems to like to work through the laws of physics. I can say that I truly believe that any intelligent force behind the universe we see around us would almost certainly have preferred to create a universe in which live was created THROUGH the laws of physics, rather than through a miraculous violation of the laws of physics. It just seems the "most godly" way of doing things, and it seems to be how he's accomplished everything else. He could have made the sun just a magic miraculous fireball-- instead he made it shine because of nuclear fusion. If he accomplished all of his other miracles by writing them INTO the laws of physics, it makes sense to me that he would create live through the same method. It's certainly within his power to do so if he so chose.

But that's just my opinion. Until someone in a laboratory does an experiment where they start with nonliving matter and finish with newly created living things, we're all just guessing.

-------

On The Second Law of Thermodynamics: "In a closed system, entropy always increases". The critical part of the second law of thermodynamics is that "in a close system". That means "without some external power source". But the earth DOES have an external power source, the Sun. It has allowed the entropy on our planet to DECREASE, while the sun's entropy INCREASES. When you add them together, overall the entropy of the whole universe is increasing-- but in isolated parts (like the Earth) it is decreasing.

It's kinda like if I said "On Average, American Incomes are Increasing"-- that doesn't mean that SOME Americans haven't had decreases in their income. There could be many people whose income decreased, but OVERALL the average income went up.

Using the second law of thermodynamics to disprove evolution is like using the second law of thermodynamics to prove that it's impossible to make an automobile or a refrigerator. Making either device is an example of taking disordered raw matter (like iron ore) and turning it into a highly ordered machine. Entropy can decrease and it does so all the time-- but OVERALL in increases.

If the second law meant that raw materials could never turn into life, it would also mean that raw materials could never turn into computers. But.. I HAVE a computer. :)

--

"My sources tell me that there are all kinds of gaps in the fossil record."

Of course there are gaps in the fossil record.

But, you must understand that fossilation is a VERY rare event. For every fossil we find, there had to be hundreds of millions of animals that lived and died without leaving behind a fossil. So, when we find ONE dinosaur fossil, we must know that there were millions of the things roaming around.

So when species are in the process of rapidly evolving, there have to be gaps in the fossil record. If there weren't any gaps whatsoever, then that would mean that evolution as we know it is wrong. The whole point of evolution is that things can rapidly change, and during those periods of rapid change, there SHOULD be very small populations of species that are rapidly changing-- so small we would NEVER expect to find a fossil of them. IF we had fossils of every single type of animal that had ever lived, with no gaps whatsoever, then it would in fact DISPROVE our current theory of evolution-- if there were know gaps, we would know something is wrong, because there SHOULD be gaps.

If you are running down the street, and I take pictures of you only once every 3 minutes, there should be GAPS in between those pictures. You were in motion (evolution) and I only made a record of you infrequently (fossilization is rare). The current theory of evolution INSISTS there should be some gaps in the fossil record that can never be filled.

For example-- humans leave behind bones when they die. ALWAYS. let's say that my grandfather died, and I know where he's buried. Let's say my father was killed in a war, and I do not know where he's buried. Just because I can't FIND any evidence of my father-- that doesn't mean i'm not descended from my grandfather. We would EXPECT that this sort of thing would happen from time to time.
---

"the fossils do not show a gradual process of one species evolving into another species"

Well, see this is one example where darwin was wrong. Evolution, it turns out, usually isn't gradual, like he thought it was. Modernly, biologists know about "Punctuated Equilibrium". Species tend to find a balance, an optimum form for the environment they're in. Take the dinosaurs. They stayed almost exactly the same for 160 million years. They left behind TONS of fossils. They didn't do a lot of evolving because they were so successful.

One day an asteroid hits (we presume). Something changes. Suddenly, in this new world, things start evolving rapidly. And eventually, species found a balance, an equilibrium, and they stayed that way for a long time again, until the next change in the environment spurred a huge burst of evolution again.

During the equilibriums, species are optimal for their environment, they stay the same for a long time, and so we find lots of fossils from them. During the bursts of evolution, things change rapid, and we find gaps in the fossils because things are changing so fast.

"Sure there are similarities between apes, chimpanzees, and humans. But there are still very distinctive differences between those species."

If there weren't distinct differences, we would have interbred. The whole concept of a species is defined as "being so different that you can no longer interbreed". Chimpanzees are PRETTY darn close to us. 99.7% close, in fact, when you look at the DNA.

"Where are the ape-men?"

Chimpanzees ARE the ape-men. They can use and make tools, they can learn language. They kiss and hug and fight and even laugh. Sure-- none of that is proof evolution happened, but the point is, the lack of anything closer to use than chimps doesn't disprove evolution. If Neanderthals were still alive, you would look at the differences between us and them and ask me "Where are the creatures that are halfway between neanderthals and us? where are the neanderthal-men."

Some species HAVE to go extinct-- that's what evolutions all about. We found fossils of 21 species that were closer to use than chimps that DIDN'T survive, but the chimps DID survive, and they're quite close, when you consider all the trillions of species that are out there.

"The principle of irreducible complexity"

This is a good argument. If it turns out to be true that there is nothing SIMPLER than a cell that could have functioned, then that would disprove the idea of life evolving from non-life.

We can only guess (and we are guessing) that there are, in fact, forms of life which are much simpler than a cell which CAN exist. One clue to this is viruses-- they're not quite alive, but they're VERY simple. They're so simple that scientists have now charted the blueprint for how to make a particular type of virus, learned how it works, started with raw materials (starting with just molecules of nonliving things) and then MANUFACTURED working copies of viruses. As soons as the synthetic copies of the virus emerged from the machine and were injected into a colony of host cells, they started replicating exactly as if they were "natural" copies of the virus rather than "synthetic", laboratory-made versions of the virus.

Viruses are very simple. We can imagine how they could have evolved from nonliving matter. But since virus can't exist without host cells having first evolved, that doesn't explain how life evolved.

But, presumably, there are many virus-like forms of half-life out there that are much simpler than cells. Forms of life that COULD evolve from nonliving matter, and COULD evolve into cells.

But, we defintely don't know that such things DO exist. if it's ever proven that there are no such things and that the very idea is impossible, well, then.. bingo, there's your 100% scientific proof of God you've been waiting on.

"millions of evolutionists find this ridiculous and even abhorrent. This has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with philosophical commitments."

MOST evolutionists in america are christians. It's a simple fact. When you say people believe in evolution because they have a philosophical opposition to God, it's just wrong. Most people who believe in evolution DO believe in God, and they believe he's responsible for the whole thing.

Do you know Darwin studied at Cambridge? Theology. He wanted to be a clergyman in the church of england. THroughout his whole life , he quoted the bible regularly.

People don't turn to evolution because of some deep hatred of God or the idea that there could be a God. They look at the evidence and they see good reasons to believe in evolution.

VERY FEW evolutionists are atheists. Just a tiny, tiny minority. Evolutionists are not athiests-- in this country, evolutionists are christians. In india, evolutionists are hindu. In Israel, evolutionists are Jewish.

People who think life evolved are no more likely to be atheists than people who thought the earth revolved around the sun.

I was a christian when I first came to believe in evolution. When I left, I left not because of the teachings of scientists, but because of the cruelty of the christians. (admittedly, a very small group of christians).

The idea that evolution has something to say about the existence of God is just false. Anyone who tries to claim evolution proves God doesn't exist is insane. Any who tries to prove that God means evolution doesn't exist is needlessly dictating to God how he MUST have created the universe.

God and Evolution, for all their intermingling, are two separate topics. Knowing God exists tells us NOTHING about how he chose to create his life forms-- whether through creation from nothing or whether through evolution. Knowing evolution occurred tells us nothing about whether God exists.

---

Some christians seem to think that atheists are "behind" evolution. That the christians who do believe in evolution have been fooled by a giant conspiracy of atheists. It reminds me of how the Nazis thought and some people today still think that there's an international jewish conspiracy out to control the world.

Atheists, like the jews, are a tiny minority--- substantially smaller than the jews wer. Atheists are not powerful-- they're hated and reviled. There is NO way evolution could become so influential if it only appealed to the tiny minority of atheists.

Evolution is so prevalent in this country because it's the CHRISTIANS who look at it and say "That feels right. That feels like God"-- in the same way they look up to the stars and fathom at how enourmous the universe is and say "That fits-- that feels like what God would do".

6:52 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

Okay, brother. I'm ready to take on your arguments. Ding, ding. The next round has begun.

Microevolution: I acknowledge the reality of microevolution.

Old Earth/Young Earth: I believe in an Old Earth - as we had previously discussed. Check out this website: http://www.kiva.net/%7Ekls/page2.html

Origin of Life: You said, "Remember-- science has no clue how life first formed here. Evolution does not explain that yet. We just don't know." Amen. From an inductive analysis combined with some common sense, it would seem that there was an Intelligent Design. Since life contains DNA and DNA contains information, it stands to reason that the message did not sporadically appear from chance forces within the medium itself. When you read my blog, you don't think that my cat was stepping all over the keys, because you see all kinds of information indicating that some intelligent guy - if not a humble guy ;) - composed the message. If someone told you that such an induction was not very scientific, you would not take that person seriously. But when people assert that the information encoded in DNA came about by chance through some natural means, you actually give credence to that idea?

Nancy Pearcey expressed this so eloquently in her book, Total Truth:

"The most popular analogy, however, is a computer program. DNA is the 'software' that makes the cell operate, and the sequence of its bases carries information in the same way that sequences of 0 and 1 carry information in a computer code.... The upshot is that we can now apply information theory to biology, which opens whole new vistas on the origin of life. For example, information theory tells us that a message is independent of the material medium used to convery it.... But if information is independent of the material medium, then it was not created by the forces within that medium.... If you see 'Math Test Today' written on a chalkboard, you do not think the message is a product of the chemical properties of calcium carbonate. Applied to the origin of life, this principle means the message encoded in DNA was not created by chemical forces within the molecule itself.... 'Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domeains: that of information and that of matter,' writes George Williams (himself an evolutionary biologist). 'The DNA molecule is the medium, it's not the message.' And information theory tells us that the medium does not write the message."

I studied information theory a little bit my senior year of college, and have since forgotten most of it, since I have not been in practice. But for more on information theory, check out these websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_theory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Information_theory
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sender

I found this article on Australopithecus: http://www.ummah.net/harunyahya/evol/ebk1-3.html

I shall respond more fully later. It is way past my bedtime.

10:58 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

One of the most amazing thing is that intelligence (or ordered information) CAN arise spontaneously in the right conditions.

Let me give you an example:

My job used to be to try to find a computer program to solve a specific mathematical problem. But the problem is so complex that all the mathematicians in the world and all the programmers in the world haven't been able to solve it.

So here is what we do. We use what's called "simulated evolution" to 'evolve' a computer program that CAN solve the problem. I spent years of my life on this.

What you do is, you have the computer automatically generate millions of programs, completely randomly. From those, you pick the one that came CLOSEST to solving the problem. Then you have the computer generate a several million programs that are slight variations of the "fittest" program. From THOSE, you pick the program that solved the problem the best, and then make millions of programs that are variations on that program.

After you let a computer run on this for several months, it finally finds a computer program that CAN solve the problem.

I could never have written that program. No human being could have written that program. But we were able to use evolution to create this program. The trillions of calculations led to the evolution of the perfect program.

This is so amazing to me. This to me is proof that under the right conditions, information (like that in a computer program or in dNA) can evolve spontaneously.

I have program that can solve this unsolvable problem that no scientist or mathematician could solve. But I didn't 'write' the program. I don't totally understand how it works. But it does work, despite the fact that no one wrote it. It evolved.

--

Whenever I tell this story to a Christians, they always say the same thing:

"Sure, in this case, you evolved a program capable of solving the problem. But SOMEONE had to construct the computer. Someone had to set it up to run so that it WOULD evolve the right program".

This is a good objection. Someone did create the computer-- and perhaps someone had to make create universe. Someone had to set up the computer to be able to evolve intelligent programs-- so too, perhaps, someone had to explicitly write the laws of physics in order to guarantee that life WOULD evolve.

Evolution is the "easy part". Once you have life, it can't HELP but evolve.

If I take one tiny step after another, eventually I will end up somewhere far away from where I began. So too microevolution after microevolution after microevolution has to add up to a macroevolution.

But this still leaves the open questions: How did the universe get here in the first place? Why do we happen to be in a universe where the laws of physics allow for life to evolve. And to a lesser extent, where did the first life come from?

11:31 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

On the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics:

I fully acknowledge that the entropy of part of the universe can and does increase, as things happen, while the universe is constantly increasing in entropy.

I am not using the 2nd Law to disprove evolution, but merely to point out that evolution is not likely. You mentioned that we have automobiles and computers, even while the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is true. Well, you played right into my hand. We have automobiles and computers BECAUSE intelligent scientists and engineers have DESIGNED them, not because various metals all came together by chance to form an automobile. Silicon did not arrange itself by chance to form a complex microprocessor. If anyone thought that, they would be dismissed as ridiculous. They would be so dismissed not only because we have documentation that these machines have been DESIGNED, but that the ordered complexity and irreducible complexity of these machines/mechanisms point to the idea that they were designed. An extremely strong inductive argument can be made that a computer must have been designed, and automobiles must have been designed. Likewise, a strong inductive argument can be made that DNA must have been DESIGNED.

But some scientists have defined science as applied naturalism. They would do better to stick with the scientific method and objective inductive analysis. As it is, many would rather presuppose that there must be natural explanations for everything. They utilize the scientific method, only as long as doing so supports the philosophical premise of naturalism. But if the evidence seems to point in the direction of Intelligent Design, they dismiss it as unscientific.

Let me get this whole fossilization thing straight:

Darwin thought that evolution was a gradual process. But modern day evolutionists say that this is not right. According to them evolution happens in spurts, often times undetected by the fossil record. Okay. I'm thinking this through. The fossil record has gaps; therefore, it has been concluded that Darwin's idea of gradual macroevolution is erroreneous. But, evolution is still supposed to be true. Therefore, it must be that evolution happens sporadically. It must be... why? Because you have already presupposed that evolution is true?

Significant gaps in the fossil record does not prove that evolution happens sporadically. Lack of evidence does not constitute evidence.

You said, "Take the dinosaurs. They stayed almost exactly the same for 160 million years. They left behind TONS of fossils. They didn't do a lot of evolving because they were so successful." Or, maybe they did not do a lot of evolving (or any macroevolving) because God created them each according to their various kinds. Maybe creatures were not meant to evolve, but to be what they were created to be. Sure, they adapt somewhat (microevolution), but they do not change species (macroevolution).

I'll talk more about irreducible complexity later.

11:38 AM  
Blogger elvis777 said...

The debate between ID and Evolutionists is mostly a debate on "suspension of belief". When you go see a movie you perform what is known as a suspension of disbelief in the sense that you make believe that the fiction in the movie is real no matter how far fetched. Now what a person who believes in Intelligent Design does is the opposite, he performs a suspension of belief in the fact that matter can automatically evolve itself into a human. And the evolutionist does the same in not believing that a god can assign a human out of thin air.

Both can be seen as miracles or can be seen as not possible. It is an aesthetic choice. A person can say that it is not possible for a jet to fly and cross oceans since it is so heavy. He can say that he can never believe that possible and if it does happen it is a miracle, something the mind can't conceive. If we perceived the world with a time interval of a second equal to 100 years, we would see a computer pop out in front of us not having ever seen the intermediate events. It would look like a miracle. But then what is a miracle ? Anything can be seen as a miracle if you perform a suspension of belief. Even a particle that moves 1 cm can be seen as an absolute miracle, impossible to be true and happening.

Science tries to be coherent and honest and tries to explain things with what we see and know everyday, therefore the theory of Evolution is as close as science can get to a reasonable truth. Science always says : "I AM NOT SURE, I DON'T KNOW, I MAY BE WRONG." The religious ID proponents are always sure of themselves, they possess the truth, they have no doubts. But if ID is right, they don't know who the Intelligent Designer is. It could be a monster from a parallel universe, or an alien race, or we could all be in a computer simulation. We could be brains in a vat, the god could be any of a million possible things.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

The more I read your rhetoric on this topic, the more I become convinced that you really don't have a leg to stand on scientifically. You are very intelligent, and you are quite a philosopher. You have shown me several philosophical reasons why evolution might be feasible, but you have not given me any scientific inductive reasons to prove macroevolution.

On irreducible complexity: Viruses and other quasi-life matter may perform certain "functions." However, the nature of the functions performed by living cells, I would presume (knowing next to nothing abot molecular biology), are so much more complex and different than the "functions" performed by viruses. Therefore, the principle of irreducible complexity could possibly still destroy the theory of macroevolution, even though there are some simpler "life forms" and/or "quasi-life forms."

My rational for this is as follows:
A factory has all kinds of functions that occur within it. But there are all kinds of different factories. You have some factories that produce cars, but other factories produce plastic toys. In order for each kind of factory to function, it must meet the requirements demanded by it. The principle of irreducible complexity applies to both factories, but perhaps in different ways. The factory producing plastic products must have a certain number of parts are assembled in a particular way, so that the factory can produce its particular functions (of producing plastic toys). The car factory must also have a certain number of parts (probably a different number) assembled in its unique ways, so that it can perform its (unique) functions. The principle of irreducible complexity applies to both: Without the right parts assembled in the right ways, the factories will not perform its functions. But one factory might be significantly more simple than the other factory.

So, I would argue, it is with molecular biology. Viruses are more simple than living cells. But viruses perform different functions than plant cells perfom, which are different than what human cells perform. Each kind of cells (or virus) has its own unique irreducible complexity principle applied to it.

It seems to me that cells without all the important right parts and without being assembled properly would not perform its functions. In other words, this is a digital thing, not an analog thing. With all the right parts in place and assembled properly, it would work. Without that, it would not work. You need to achieve a threshold of complexity in order to get things to work at all.

The theory of macroevolution seems to depend on arguments that are on the macro-level. I have not yet heard an argument that proves macroevolution that is based on the level of cellular microbiology. Of course, Darwin never proposed such depth of argument, because he knew virtually nothing about the molecular level.

My rhetoric may not be that eloquent, but I hope that you are getting my point.

On Artificial Intelligence:
Your work on developing software that would in turn develop its own software that solves problems that humans can't solve seems like very interesting and exciting work. But I do not think it does much to "prove" the theory of evolution. I have several reasons for this.

Firstly, even if my other objections to the the whole artificial intelligence argument fall, the whole argument merely shows the feasibility of evolution from a scientific perspective. Showing that a hypothesis is feasible is hardly a proof.

It seems to be taking the argument more to the philosophical level, which is cool, but not scientific.

But here is my other objection to the whole AI argument: There is a lot of intelligent human input involved in the whole process. While it appears to be true that we can program computers to write their own programs that go beyond our own abilities and intelligence, I think this can be chalked up to extremely sophisticated software. Silicon chips, when arranged in the right way, have calculating abilities that exceed the abilities of human brains. However, this stuff doesn't sporadically happen without human input giving it its start, and providing some direction along the way.

Notice your own rhetoric:
"So here is what we do. We use what's called "simulated evolution" to 'evolve' a computer program that CAN solve the problem. I spent years of my life on this."

"From those, you pick the one that came CLOSEST to solving the problem. Then you have the computer generate a several million programs that are slight variations of the "fittest" program. From THOSE, you pick the program that solved the problem the best, and then make millions of programs that are variations on that program."

I notice how often "you" are involved in this whole process. You spent years of your life on this. You picked the best programs along the way. You were deeply involved in the process. Without your input - especially at the beginning, but even along the way - the software would have never developed the software to solve the problem.

Having said all that, The Matrix was a very cool movie. But I still am not convinced that evolution happened sporadically.

Now if a junkyard starts spontaneously producing computers and machines without any human involvement, let me know. I would find that very intersting.

On philosophical commitments, agendas, and consequences of beliefs:
I have no doubt that most people who believe in evolution, including most of the scientists who believe it, are not out to disprove Christianity. Most are not. However, most scientists, especially non-Christians, presuppose that there is a natural explanation for everything, and their search for truth is limited to the natural. They define science as "applied naturalism."

So, whether or not they do this in order to intentionally marginalize those who believe the Bible, is irrelevant. By defining science as "applied naturalism," they have taken a philosophical stance that is in conflict with the Genesis account (and therefore reality). Therefore, in spite of all the inductive evidence achieved via the scientific method that points toward the idea of Intelligent Design, millions of people immediately and decisively dismiss it as "unscientific." Why? Because science is "applied naturalism." In other words, ID does not fit with their philosophical commitment.

The fact that many so-called "Christians" (whether or not they are for real is between them and God; I don't know) have bought into these philosophical assertions made by those in the scientific community merely means that many "Christians" are absorbing the philosophy of our culture.

Here is the problem: We live in an age of false dichotimies. Through centuries of theological and philosophical thought, most people in the West think along particular lines. To use a metaphor from "Total Truth": Society is like a house. Downstairs, we have things like facts, science, democracy, economy, etc. Upstairs in the playroom, we have values, religion, myths, fairies, etc. And our society says that its cool to believe in fairies and Jesus and everything; just keep it upstairs where it belongs. Don't you dare bring it downstairs. Downstairs is the realm of facts and objective empirical knowledge. Religion has no place.

Of course, the problem is that the whole metaphor is not reality. Jesus Christ is the ultimate authority on truth, reality, and morality. All truth is God's truth. Therefore, every subject that has any truth in it is really a subset of theology. The house metaphor is not reality, regardless of what people believe.

But to an insult to injury, the people downstairs demand that the upstairs folk keep their faith upstairs where it belongs. Regretfully, many Christians are too glad to comply. They come downstairs for work, and then they go upstairs for church and prayer. By doing so, they have not integrated their faith into every aspect of their lives. They have divided life into the secular and the sacred. In reality, no such division exists. All of life is sacred.

On top of that, evolution is in the downstairs realm and taught as fact. The implications of this is that the downstairs world eats up the upstairs world. The supposed "facts" established in the downstairs world are not ashamed to make claims about what is true and not true, permissible or not permissible, real or not real about the upstairs world.

Nancy Pearcey titles one of her chapters in her book, Total Truth as "Today Biology, Tomorrow the World." She argue, very effectively, that our culture is experiencing an epistemological hegemony in which evolution is taking over every aspect of our lives.

Evolution says that we are just a bunch of molecules that came from a "warm little pond." So, evolutionary psychology makes all kinds of claims based on the assumption that evolution is true. The problem with people isn't sin; the problem is that they have psychological problems. The solution isn't repentance and faith; the solution is to find a way to manipulate the mind (Ritalin, etc). It also effects our legal system and jurisprudence. In Roper v Simmons, a 5-4 decision was made in which Ruth Bader Ginsburg made an assertion based on "evolving standards of decency."

What about teenagers trying to retain their sexual purity - saving themselves for marriage. So, here they are being tempted at prom and after prom parties, and at the prom, they were playing the music: "You and me, baby, we're nothing but mammals, so let's do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel."

Do not tell me that I should not have any cultural concerns about this. My generation and the generation coming up after me has been duped by error. The consequences of this error are huge. Man loses his dignity.

Stalin was a student studying theology, once upon a time. But then he read "Origin of the Species." He became an atheist; he came up with his Communist Totalitarian worldview, and the rest is history.

Getting this right is very important, and has huge cultural, political, and legal consequences.

4:00 PM  
Blogger elvis777 said...

In case it wasn't clear, what I wanted to say is that the Intelligent Design proponents find it impossible to believe that MATTER all by itself can SELF EVOLVE into organisms as complex as human beings. This to them seems like a miracle or impossible or as they always say like a tornado that can build a new functioning car by pure chance by going through a junk yard of scrap metal. But this is just a subjective impression of theirs based on what seems possible and impossible.

No one can really know or measure what is or isn't impossible. We can only measure things according to what we already know and our everyday experience. Therefore science still does the best job in this even though it can never be excluded that supernatural events and items may be possible. Like a robot civilization that can travel through time and design humans.

4:07 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"the principle of irreducible complexity could possibly still destroy the theory of macroevolution"

I agree with what your saying, though I disagree with your wording. The principle of irreducible complexity could certainly wind up proving that life can not come from nonlife. But once you give me even the simplest cell and four billion years, sheer logic can explain how you get all the other kinds of life.

The analogy of the factory is valid so far. A cell simply is too complex, too 'factory'-like for us to ever imagine that it just sprung up overnight without some intermediate form of quasi-life. We know that there ARE incredibly simple forms of quasi-life that can exist: viruses. Viruses certainly could be created from non-life. We have already recreated them using non-living raw materials.

But the the principle of irreducible complexity really doesn't have anything to do with evolution itself per se. No forms of life show any type of irreducible complexity (aside, of course, from the fact that they are alive). If you find something with an eye, you will find older creatures who have light-sensitive skin cells that can't "see" crisply but can determine the time of day. If you find warm-blooded animals capable of metabolic temperature regulation, you will find older coldblooded animals. If you find animals with distinct organs, you will find older that lack organs (like jellyfish). If you find animals that can use tools and language, you will find older animals that can use tools and learn crude forms of language.

But of course, this doesn't prove anything about God. Getting life in the first place is the hard part. Evolution only explains the simplest and most-obvious last step in the process.

"the whole argument merely shows the feasibility of evolution from a scientific perspective. Showing that a hypothesis is feasible is hardly a proof."

You understand my thought process perfectly. To me, the easiest way to explain evolution to someone is to show them logically how feasible it is, to show them evolution is occuring around use right now, and then to point out that there are an awful lot of fossils that certainly look a lot like they evolved.

But I don't think it's possible to PROVE something like evolution or the earth moving around the sun to someone who believes God has told him otherwise. There will always be other explainations that are possible. It is possible to construct a set of laws of physics that define the earth as the center of the universe. The laws are much more complex, much less elegant, and somewhat insane-- but they work, and they are a potential explaination.

There's a society called the flat earth society that believes the earth is flat. They have potential laws of physics that can explain how what appears to be a curved earth is really a flat earth that acts oddly. No matter what evidence you present them with, they can always find a way to explain it that is consistent with their flat earth laws of physics.

Creationists are like that in some ways. If you believe God means evolution cannot possibly have occured, then you know what you're going to believe before you look at your first fossil. The page you sent me about australopithicus is a great example. Any proto-homonid fossils that are extremely close to men are labeled "deformed modern humans" or hoaxes. Any human ancestors that are too different from modern humans must be "deformed apes" or hoaxes.

What evidence could someone possibly come up with that would convince someone who believes so strongly for spiritual reasons rather than scientific ones.

And what's more-- even if we could convince them, would it be right to? That makes them happy. Maybe they're even right-- maybe the earth was made 6,000 year ago and God just made it look old to test our faith. It's not up to me to decide Truth for anyone. Scientific evidence and reasoning leads us to the conclusion that evolution is occuring all around us, and it probably occured in the past. But who made Science king. Many people find Science a cold, hard world, and they would rather live "upstairs in a world of fairies" as you describe it. And that's their right. And maybe, just maybe, perhaps the fairies are real.

-----

But, I can say this. Find me a single four billion year old human fossil and the current theories of human origin are forever proved wrong. Find me a single 6,000 year old dinosuar and the scientific history has to be rewritten.

Short of a perfect fossil record, where every single type of animal that ever lived is always perfect preserved and just happens to be discovered by later archaeologists. Short of a full motion movie showing every single thing that ever happened on earth. What sort of evidence COULD prove to you that evolution had occurred?

If God parted the heavens tommorrow and spoke to the whole planet, broadcast round the world on CNN, science would instantly learn from its mistake. But no amount of evidence can prove to someone who has faith that evolution is wrong.
-------

About the upstairs and downstairs motif. On the one hand, there definitely is a lot of anti-christian sentiment running around. But no one can get elected in this country unless he beats you over the head with the fac that he's a christian. Saying "God Bless America" at the end of the State of the Union is practically a legal requirement, and the people will burn you if you don't at least pretend to be "one of them". So, let's not put Christianity in America on the endangered species list just yet-- you still have an enormous amount of power.

But yes, I get what you're saying. We, as a society, are finding more and more that science and logic and rationalism bring results, and that faith doesn't bring results (in this life). This doesn't proof anything, of course, because the only results we're looking at are those in this life.

If you want to be saved in the next life, go to a church. But people have learned-- if you want to be healed in THIS, you better go to a doctor.

In THIS life, science has done more to improve people's lives than all the religions in al of human history. So yeah, science is pretty popular "downstairs"-- and it's going to get more popular.

But I don't see this 'discrimination' as being such a horrible thing. People acknowledge you can, in private, believe whatever you want to believe. But if your beliefs are so strong that they interfere with your ability to practice science or to practice business, then that isn't welcome.

But the same rules apply upstairs as downstairs. If I go join a southern baptist church, but believe so strongly in evolution that it interfers with my ability to participate in their organization, I will be unwelcome. If I have the ability to keep my views to myself, then I will be welcome.

The downstairs worlds of science, business, and secular/rational law aren't okay with faith interfering with your functioning. But then, the catholic church wouldn't let me become a priest either.

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"So, evolutionary psychology makes all kinds of claims based on the assumption that evolution is true. The problem with people isn't sin; the problem is that they have psychological problems."

Do you really not believe in mental illness? Do you really think the mentally ill are just sinful?

--

"What about teenagers trying to retain their sexual purity - saving themselves for marriage."

I don't think you can say waiting until marriage is the best thing for all people. Certainly, it's definitely the right thing for some people. Certainly, there are many people who have ruined their lives. But it's still a personal life decision that intelligent people each have to make on their own.

And pointing to the old testament laws won't prove your case for you. If the dietary and sabbath laws have been rescinded, then perhaps the marital laws have been too. I'm sure you believe those laws are still in effect, but many good-minded god fearing christians could in good faith disagree with you.

---

"Do not tell me that I should not have any cultural concerns about this."

I can sympathize with people who have cultural concerns over the implications of evolution. After all, the cultural echoes of Darwinism were (even I must admit) a major element in Nazism.

It's important to know where science stops-- telling us how we should live our lives, what the worth of a human life is, or whether there is a god: science is completely silent on these issues. The dangers come when people think science can tell them how to live their life or what morality is. The dangers also come when religion wants to destroy science or change its results for fear of what effects it will have culturally.

4:33 AM  
Blogger elvis777 said...

Lets imagine that Intelligent Design is correct. Scientists agree that only some kind of intelligence could have designed the first cell and universe etc. Then you have to ask who or what is the Intelligent Designer ? You have 3 cases:

1) It is a religious God, then which one ? choose between Christian, Jew, Islam, Buddha, Tao or any of other many gods

2) Science Fiction Scenario: Alien Race, Brain in a Vat, robots, monsters from parallel universes etc. The wilder the scenario the more true it probably is.

3) Physical Laws are still valid only we don't know the whole story. Maybe some things happen at the center of stars that can connect to the first cells, maybe there are parallel universes or aliens (even though these seem to mix with point 2, they don't really deny science).

Maybe we can't perceive events happening at very small time scales like 10 to the minus 50 seconds. If our mind was made in such a way as to perceive events every 100 years, we would see lots of miracles, computers pop out of thin air, jet planes pop out etc. Maybe we are seeing the world through an analogous limitation.
Now science can see linear events down to 10 to the minus 20 seconds I think. But we are completely blind to events that occur at smaller time scales. So if physics does alot of complex interesting things at those time intervals, we simply can't see it and maybe the origin of the first cells has to do with what happens in those intervals. Even in this case the wilder the scenario the more true it probably is.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

You said, "What evidence could someone possibly come up with that would convince someone who believes so strongly for spiritual reasons rather than scientific ones."

"And what's more-- even if we could convince them, would it be right to? That makes them happy."

I would rather that you treat me with more respect than that. I believe you are being sincere, but you are also being patronizing. Truth is truth.

I am not like so many other Christians, who simply say, "I didn't come from a monkey; God created me; the Bible says so." Now, that is all true (although, the fact that no scientists are claiming that we came from monkeys ought to be pointed out to this beloved Christian). I would be right to say that ID is true, because the Bible says so in so many words. Indeed I do say that. However, look at all my arguments! They are scientific. I am utilizing inductive reasoning to make my case.

You said, "But I don't think it's possible to PROVE something like evolution or the earth moving around the sun to someone who believes God has told him otherwise. There will always be other explainations that are possible. It is possible to construct a set of laws of physics that define the earth as the center of the universe. The laws are much more complex, much less elegant, and somewhat insane-- but they work, and they are a potential explaination."

"There's a society called the flat earth society that believes the earth is flat. They have potential laws of physics that can explain how what appears to be a curved earth is really a flat earth that acts oddly. No matter what evidence you present them with, they can always find a way to explain it that is consistent with their flat earth laws of physics."

It is as if you are throwing up your hands after spending several hours patiently dealing with an ignoramus who knows nothing about science or logic. But that's not me. I have examined your arguments, and responded to them point by point - using inductive reasoning the whole way.

What about the scientific method? This whole idea of coming up with a hypothesis, designing and performing an experiment, gathering data, analyzing data, interpreting data, and then repeating the process several times, forming conclusions and new hypotheses, repeating the process, and then coming to the inductive conclusions that we confidently call "scientific theory."

Unlike many of my fellow beloved ignorant Christian brethren, I will not say to you, "Evolution is only a theory." What I do say to you is this: Evolution does not deserve to be called a scientific theory. There is a very simple reason for this: The so-called "theory" (hypothesis) of evolution has not been confirmed by rigorous experimentation. This is a fact. Therefore, it only deserves to be calle a hypothesis. We have observed species evolve into completely different species.

Also, would you agree with me that constraining science to "applied naturalism" is a bad idea? Like I have said previously, doing so does place the ID hypothesis outside the realm of science, but not outside the realm of inductive reasoning, or the scientific method. If, in fact, there have been supernatural forces that have affected the natural universe, then it would stand to reason that applying the scientific method and applying inductive reasoning would suggest so. By taking on the philosophical stance that assumes there must be a natural explanation of everything, and then defining science as applied naturalism, it appears that scientists are forced to assume what could possibly go against the evidence. This is the case in the evolution/ID debate.

On the Upstairs/Downstairs False Dichotomy:

You said, "But the same rules apply upstairs as downstairs. If I go join a southern baptist church, but believe so strongly in evolution that it interfers with my ability to participate in their organization, I will be unwelcome. If I have the ability to keep my views to myself, then I will be welcome."

And then later, you said, "Do you really not believe in mental illness? Do you really think the mentally ill are just sinful?"

I will answer the question, after I point out that this is one example of the downstairs secular Darwinian-psychology world making claims and rules about the upstairs religious world.

I do acknowledge that chemicals have a part to play in "mental illness." But our society is very quick to turn to meds (drugs). I am suggesting that, in many cases, people would do well to turn to God and the Bible, and to think twice before saying "Yes" to drugs.

With evolution being presented as fact, and religion being assigned to myth and fairy tales, our Darwinian culture has assumed authority over God. The assumption is false. The dichotomy is false. People would do well to wake up to reality.

That doesn't mean I am against medicine. All truth is God's truth. Objective science is one way to analyze the universe and discover truths about God's creation. But it is not the only way. God also reveals Himself to us - through His Spirit and through His word.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

You said, "Even in this case the wilder the scenario the more true it probably is."

I love you, man. I don't know what else to say.

...

...

...

Your statement is not logical. According to statistics and probability, the OPPOSITE would be more probable.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

Your fascination with science fiction being a plausible and probable idea about discerning truth and reality leads me to my apologetic of desire.

There is a reason why you want to believe something that seems so unbelievable, improbable, and unscientific. I would suggest to you that you have been created with a God-shaped hole in your heart. You were created to believe in God. You see faith in God as relatively juvenile, and very unscientific. So, you turn to science. But many of your arguments are not good science, but good science fiction. You want to believe in something fantastic. You were created to do so.

Think about it. Think about literature and stories. In all the great stories, you have similar themes. You have a great problem. A woman needs to be rescued. The helpless need some kind of miracle. They are somehow trapped. They are in trouble. The story builds to a climax. Then some kind of savior appears. The prince finds Cinderella. The hero rescues the helpless victim. We love these stories.

We are faced with problems and trouble in our lives. We can't figure out a way to escape or to do what we have been born to do on our own strength. We need a Savior.

Jesus is the true myth. In the midst of our fallen, sinful, helpless state, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might become children of God. Jesus dies on the cross for us, the just for the unjust, to redeem us to the Father.

The desire to believe in the fantastic is clearly there. I would suggest that it is there by design. We have been created to hope and to believe - to live by faith - to wait for the return of the King of kings, who will come back riding a white horse with a sword in His hand to rescue His redeemed from a fallen and wicked world. It is the best fantasy. And it is true.

But people, in their hardness of heart, despise the very notion of believing a fantasy. But then they contradict themselves by making up their own stories, and then passing it off as scientific fact. The hypothesis of evolution is clearly fantastic if you think about it. But people are craving to believe the fantastic. The big difference between evolutionists and ID advocates is that evolutionists want to believe that we can survive and succeed independently of any Savior. Cinderella doesn't need to wait around for a prince; she can succeed on her own. People buy into evolution above the Genesis account, not because of scientific evidence that supports evolution, but because they prefer to see themselves as the best of the best (survival of the fittest). So, the fantasy they choose to believe is very different than the true myth that is Christian theology.

Make no mistake, you have been created to believe the fantastic. God became a man, so that sinners could become saints. You have been made to believe that. Don't treat yourself and God with contempt by refusing to believe what you have been created to believe.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I said earlier: "We have observed species evolve into completely different species." I meant, "We have NOT observed species evolve into completely different species." Just thought I should point out that subtle point.

10:25 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Dan,

First off, I should definitely say, you are not the epitome of the flat-earther stereotype I described. There would be no point in talking to such a person. You are fun to talk to. :)

I think the person I had in mind was the author of the page I had just finished reading about how all autralopithicus are just deformed modern apes. There's a certain lunacy behind that assertion that I find utterly insane. The two look nothing alike, physically. We find hundreds upon hundreds of Australopithicus fossils, always looking the exact same. Maybe we didn't evolve from them, but they're not frickin chimpanzees! I imagine going with the author of that page to the museum of natural history and showing them a tyransaurus skeleton, and having them look me dead in the eye and say "That looks exactly like a deformed elephant to me". And I could explain to them all the differences between an elephant and a tyrannasaurus, and when I was done, they would say.... "Yep.. deformed elephant alright". And if I did somehow PROVE to them that it couldn't possibly be a deformed elephant, they would look at me and say "hmm. guess you're right. Must be a hoax then".

And yeah, to them I throw up my hands. And then I think,"Well, whatever makes them happy-- I should remember-- just because something is a Scientific Fact, that doesn't make it Truth. There are deeper Truths, and if someone has to believe a tiny minor scientific error (like a young earth) in order to be able to hold a deeper truth (like the value of a human life, or a sense of purpose, or some kind of deeper meaning) then who am I to rob them of that compromise they have made.

----

If science is defined as merely "naturalism" or "physicalism", then you have an error right off the bat. I get the sense you believe that deep down, all scientists believe in evolution because of some sort of logic like this:

1. Either God exists or else we must have evolved.
2. God doesn't exist.
3. Therefore, we must have evolved.

--

Nobody thinks that. Perhaps there is some diehard ultra-athiest lurking in some science building somewhere who thinks of it that way, but he knows better than to say it in public, because that is definitely one of those ideas that would not be allowed "downstairs" in science land.

But most blacks aren't criminals, most jews aren't greedy, and most scientists aren't atheistic. The syllogism is just a 'straw man'
--

What we call Evolution is two things-- a scientific theory and a scientific fact. The patterns we observe-- that simpler animals precede complex animals, that one species is often followed by two different types of related species, that evolution is occuring around us now-- these are all scientific facts. They may not be true, but within the realm of science, they are facts.

A second part of what we call evolution is a theory: how exactly does evolution occur, what forces are most important, what specifically about a species changes to accomplish evolution. There have been many theories of evolution, and they are constantly improving. The was Lamarkian, Darwinian, and now the Modern Sythesis, which theorizes that the #1 thing that changes is an organism's DNA, and that punctuated equilibriums are essential to the process.

--

Most of evolution is a scientific fact. Parts of it are a very well verified scientific theory. The theoretical portions are an incredibly well accepted theory and very successful theory.

To contrast, let's look at something we all know very well-- gravity.

That things FALL is a scientific fact. They fall with a certain rate, they accellerate according to a specific equation.

BUT-- scientists do NOT have a good theory of gravity. We have not been able to develop a working theory of gravity. We still don't have a good understanding of how it works. No one has been able to explain all the observed facts so far. Gravity is a mystery. No one knows what it's like on the quantum scale.

So-- remember that. Scientists are infinitely more certain about their evolutionary theories than their theories of gravity. Physics WISH they had gravity as well figured out as the biologists have figure out.

These are facts-- aside from a few "creation scientists", all scientists accept this. If we took a survey among biologists, more than 99.9% would agree that evolution exists. It is as close to a scientific truth as science is going to get.

Now that doesn't mean evolution is True. God can trump Truth, and if God really told you evolution is false, well then science has to go jump in a lake.

But, evolution IS a scientific truth. By the rules of science, evolution is incredibly well accepted. If a school teaches that only a few lone nutty scientists believe in evolution, it is teaching lies. If a school teaches that "only people who don't believe in God" believe in evolution or that the only reason to believe in evolution is so that you can justify atheism , it's teaching lies.

--

You say: "We have NOT observed species evolve into completely different species."

That's not actually so. Even within the short period of recorded history, there have been many examples of "observed speciation"-- where one species splits into two different species.

Two examples I know of off the top of my head are dogs and fruitflies. Dogs, as you know, started out as a single type of wolf (Canis lupus) before being domesticated by humans. Now we have thousands of different types of dogs, all which look completely and utterly different from each other-- but they all started out as one type of animal. They were bred (and breeding IS a type of evolution) into all the other types, all within human history.

Fruitflies kept in isolation have evolved into different species-- after 20 years, you try to breed the captive population with other populations, and it doesn't work. The captive population is its own species.

BUT, there are even better examples. The Faeroe Island house mouse. No house mouse species existed on Faeroe island until a particular ship visited the island in the 1750s. Some of the mice that had beeen living on the ship escaped to the island, and began to reproduce there.

After 250 years, the mice on the island have evolved into a completely different species of mouse, particularly suited to living on Faeroe Island. They too are so different they can no longer interbreed with the species they originated from.

And of course, viruses are evolving into new species of viruses constantly. Right now there IS no bird flu epidemic. No virus on this planet today can cause a bird flu epidemic. But everyone is scared that the conditions might be right from the virus to evolve into a new species that CAN spread from person to person and cause an epidemic. If new species can't evolve, then we have no reason to be afraid. But they can evolve, which is what everyone's afraid of.

There have also been THOUSANDS of examples of observed speciation in plants, but.. plants are boring.

I suppose these two can qualify as microevolution. Certainly the differences among dogs is superficial, and the result of breeding. The mice and some of the plants are harder to dismiss. A virus that spreads in one species turning into a completely different type of virus that can defeat a totally different type of immuse system-- that's even harder to dismiss.
---

"I would be right to say that ID is true, because the Bible says so in so many words."

Certainly, the Genesis's central message is that an intelligent force (God) was responsible for our creation. But the bible certainly doesn't say that evolution is false.

You believe in the evolution of the physical universe, right? God didn't have to create the earth out of nothing at the center of the universe-- he created all matter in the big bang, and then allowed that matter to form into nebula and planets according to his plan. This certainly still counts as "God creating the heavens and the earth".

You don't believe that man was literally sculpted out of dirt do you? You don't believe that God has physical lungs and trachea and mouth do you? You don't believe God literally inhales O2 and exhales CO2 into the atmosphere. When God breathes life into the nostrils of man, surely this is a poetic way to describe a creation event-- surely God isn't performing literal mouth to mouth, exhaling magical air atoms into the nostrils of man. Surely God does not even have a mouth-- or anything physical and imperfect.

And if you don't believe in the literal, physical truth that the Bible tells, then why hate evolution so. Surely, if God chose to create by using the process of Evolution, wouldn't this too count as "God creating"?

3:44 PM  
Blogger elvis777 said...

"You don't believe that man was literally sculpted out of dirt do you? You don't believe that God has physical lungs and trachea and mouth do you? You don't believe God literally inhales O2 and exhales CO2 into the atmosphere. When God breathes life into the nostrils of man, surely this is a poetic way to describe a creation event-- surely God isn't performing literal mouth to mouth, exhaling magical air atoms into the nostrils of man. Surely God does not even have a mouth-- or anything physical and imperfect. "

In my small list I made some posts ago above, this rule applies also to case number 1 where the mysterious Intelligent Designer could be a Religious god : The wilder the scenario the more true it probably is.

I can easily believe in this. What makes it so special compared to any other thing ? We simply perform a suspension of disbelief and say god can do all kinds of weird magical things like creating a man right from dirt. It is normal everyday things for a supernatural superpower entity with unlimited powers. He chooses to do it that way because it seems so much more spectacular compared to what we see everyday.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,
First of all, your view of facts and truth seem to be dangerously close to postmodernism. Many "Christians" are actually postmodernists. They want to have their cake and eat it too. So, they live lives of duplicity. They get away with this because they are intellectually lazy. They are scared to death of TRUTH being an ABSOLUTE, because they fear that the very foundations of the faith will be rattled, and perhaps shattered. So, they don't think about it. They have categorize truth. We have "religious truth" (stuff that is true on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and when I'm hanging with my spiritual Christian friends), and then they have "scientific truth" (downstairs, objective, scientific truth that is true all the time, except when we start talking about religion).

No wonder the world says, "Keep your religion upstairs in the play room!" If the believers are not confident, and philosophically logical, then their god doesn't deserve to interfere with anything downstairs.

But the reality is that those with real faith will be willing to ask the tough questions, and will be willing to go through "the valley of the shadow" of doubt. And, if they come to the conclusion that Christianity is TOTAL TRUTH, then the whole upstairs/downstairs metaphor is an inaccurate depiction of reality.

If my faith can't stand up to the toughest of all questions, then it is worthless. If it can't stand upt to the toughest of all questions, then we believers are to be pitied above all men. Being a Christian should provoke people to think more deeply than they ever have previously. It should not mean turning your brain off, and embracing an ignorant, pitiful view of reality. People who do that do not have an authetnically Christian worldview.

So... no more postmodern patronizing nonsense about subjective truth claims.

I concede the point that some species have at times mutated into new species. But I contend that these are still cases of microevolution. Viruses mutating into different viruses is microevolution. Mutated viruses are still viruses. Canines interbreeding with other species of canines to produce hybrid canines does not really seem like evolution - but if you must - it is microevolution. And it ought to be noticed that the result is still canines.

Also, the new species of mice you mentioned are still mice.

But we still don't have anything on the scale of Darwin's hypotheses.

On the whole deal concerning scientists' opinions of God:
Like I said before, it is not as though (many) scientists are out to disprove God. But my contention is this: If in fact God created everything, then the data acquired through the scientific method, and the inductive conclusions and extrapolations would probably point to the idea that there is an Intelligence guiding nature. But if science is defined as "applied naturalism," then that hypothesis is immediately thrown out. Thus science has a philosophical commitment that only allows for naturalistic causes.

Many who argue for intelligent design are accused of being intellectually lazy. "You can't assume that there is a God guiding everything, because that is non-falsifiable and discourages objective scientific inquiry." This is completely bogus. Belief in God does not discourage objective inquiry. The ordered-complexity of nature is compelling. It is very reasonable to induce from the beauty and ordered-complexity of nature that we have been designed by a Supernatural Intelligence.

More later....

1:32 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Correction: I had said, "And, if they come to the conclusion that Christianity is TOTAL TRUTH, then the whole upstairs/downstairs metaphor is an inaccurate depiction of reality."

This is actually not right. The upstairs/downstairs metaphor is inaccurate - regardless of what anyone thinks or says.

But if people go through a period of tough questioning, and then come to the same conclusions that I have, then their faith will be proved genuine, and they will have a view of the world that is more closely alligned with God's view of the world.

1:36 PM  
Blogger elvis777 said...

Dan,

1) Do you think you can ever have absolute security, be 100 % secure that god exists, and even more important that your brand of born again religion is correct ? Do you really think absolute 100 % security is of this universe, wouldn't you have to be god to really have that kind of supernatural certainty on anything ? I even doubt I am alive, that I think well, I doubt everything imaginable....

2) Even if you were 100 % certain of your faith, then wouldn't you no longer need faith ? doesn't faith always imply some small amount of doubt ?

3) do you really trust in logic-language-reasoning ? since questioning involves having faith first in these items before you even have faith in god, then do these things come before god ?

Thanks for any clarification.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

Faith is tough.

Before I say anything more about faith, I want to say that the Bible talks a lot about hope. Hope is wonderful. Furthermore, I would say this to any agnostic cynic and pessimist: You do not know the future. It may turn out to be true that good will triumph over evil.

Hope will not disappoint us, because God has poured His love into our hearts, and by His Spirit, we cry out, "Abba, Father."

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen." (Hebrews 11:1) Later on, in the same chapter, it says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."

Having said that, faith is not the absence of doubt. Similarly, courage is not the absence of fear. A soldier on the front in a battle will probably experience fear. But a courageous soldier will not let his fear rule him. Similarly, Christians can and do experience doubt, but the faithful do not let their doubts rule them.

For me, I struggle with doubts sometimes. You have to recognize that we have an enemy, Satan, who is out to steal, kill, and destroy. He whispers (and sometimes thunders) lies in our ears. All sin comes from believing lies.

I personally struggle with this in two areas. And I will make myself somewhat vulnerable here. The Scriptures say that those who receive Christ by faith are justified through the blood of Christ by faith. This is the central doctrine of salvation in the Christian gospel. Many in the world play the ostrich, and believe the falsehood that most people are "basically good." This is really ridiculous. The Scriptures state that "no one is good; no not one." Check out Romans 3. Besides, there is plenty of evidence in history and in our everyday lives to prove that we are not good people. Only by having a very low standard of good, can we hold on to the idea that we are "basically good."

No, we are sinful - totally depraved. But, Christ died on the cross for us, paying the price for our sins, the just for the unjust, so that we might become the righteousness of God. When an individual is born again, God bestows his righteousness on that individual. So, when God looks at a redeemed individual, he says, "They are righteous." That is, Christ is righteous, and with Christ in our hearts, we are pronounced righteous. That is what it means to be justified.

Righteous means righteous. It is not a relative term. It is not "basically good." It is righteous.

Those who are justified by faith and then sanctified by that same faith. Having been made righteous by the blood of Christ, having received God's love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy, God then proceeds to sanctify us - to complete the work and make us holy.

There is nothing that any sinner can do to make himself justified; we can't make our selves righteous. Those who attempt to are very self-righteous - which means that they are not righteous at all, but prideful and arrogant snobs. But those who truly trust in Christ are made righteous - they are made whole. And God continues to sanctify them by His word and His holy spirit.

My struggle is right here: In Christ, I have the promise that I have been justified by faith. But my problem, is that I doubt that. When I see my sins before me, I can't reconcile in my mind that I have been made righteous. So, then I try really hard to be good. If I feel like I am doing okay, then I get prideful and arrogant and self-righteous. If I call myself "basically good," then I am playing the ostrich. So, I tend to beat myself up. But this is not godly either. This is actually another way to express pride and rebellion. Godly sorrow brings repentance, but worldly sorrow brings death. So, for me, it is like this dark cloud of doubt and despair is over my life. I can't shake it in my own strength. I need a Savior. I have everything I need for life and godliness. But I tend to not believe that I have been justified by faith. So, I get into a downward spiral of thinking. And I miss out on the joy-filled, redeeming life that God offers to me. I know that there is Light shining through above the dark cloud of despair, but I can't get there in my own strength. I am utterly dependent on God to save me from my own worst enemy - my depraved, darkened, sinful, wretched self.

That doesn't mean that I don't have a part to play. I am utterly dependent on God, but by God's grace, I am to put to death the sinful nature and to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I am to give myself completely to God, and when I do, a miracle happens. By God's grace, I break through the clouds, and I am in the Light as He is in the light. I experience life, joy, redemption, peace, and love. But, then sin deceives me, I believe lies, and fall back into sin and darkness. And I spiral downward.

Related to the lie that the promise of justification is not for me is the lie that I tend to believe that says this: "You don't have what it takes to be the man that God has called you to be."

These two lies are constantly at the front of my mine. My anxious thoughts are consumed by them.

The bottom line is this: God is just and merciful, righteous and holy, majestic and powerful, gentle and compassionate. My life is in His hands, and He loves me as I am. What I need to do is to consume myself in pleasing Him. It is not about me; it is about Him and His glory. My big problem is that I am so consumed with self. I am called to be meek. Meekness is not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less. God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we will walk in the Light, as He is in the light, then we will have fellowship with God, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.

So, I struggle, very deeply with doubts. But by God's grace, I choose to entrust myself into the hands of my Creator, trusting that His love and His promises apply to me, and that through Christ, I can experience life, love, joy, and peace, and that being set free, I am free to set others free.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Check this out:

http://www.public.asu.edu/~jmlynch/idt/wedge.html

2:55 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

I admire your courage in opening up. Talking about things close to your heart is always scary-- I'll try not to step on toes.

---

There is an undercurrent in Christianity of encouraging self-hatred-- and I find it very disconcerting. It seems that the first step to salvation, according to this thinking, is to accept that you are a horrible person, who is deserving of self-hatred.

I don't mean to say that this is actually inherent to Christianity-- Jesus's own speech is remarkably devoid of this sort of thing. But it seems like in practice, a lot of people latch onto the concept of sinfulness as a justification for hatred and self-hatred.

I experienced a lot of this sort of thing as a child in catholic school, and the scars are certainly still there.

I can't say that I believe humans are "basically good", but I do believe we are "basically moral". By that I don't mean that we do basically moral things all the time-- but we do seem to have an innate sense of morality to us. We experience guilt, we experience compassion, we experience love. This is a far cry from the kind of creature I would describe as "completely and totally depraved and sinful". But I certainly wouldn't call us "basically good" either.

But I also have a hard time believing that the recipe for salvation is somehow connected with having faith. A bad person who has come to believe in Jesus is surely less deserving of salvation than a good person who doesn't believe in Jesus. "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

Nor do I think our doubts come from Satan. When Sherlock Holmes sets out to solve a crime, he follows where the clues lead him. Often, the initials clues may point towards the wrong suspect-- but that doesn't make Sherlock Holmes a bad detective for initially suspecting the wrong person.

Our universe has doubt written right into it. God has worked hard to wipe his fingerprints clean from the universe.

--

One thing I will say, which you will probably hate but I'll offer it anyway, because it is all I have to give. The human brain is broken. Just as a huge portion of our population's eyes don't work right, so a very very substantial portion of our population's brains don't work right.

I firmly feel that anyone who has any sort of persistent "darkness" or exceptionally intense sadness in their life should consider trying some of the medications that are out there. I have no idea whether you are one of those people, of course-- I just throw it out there for anyone at all who's reading.

I know many many people have a lot of hesistation about the abundance of psychological medications in our culture. The only thing I can say is-- prozac is VERY gentle. it is nothing like "drugging" yourself. It doesn't introduce some artificial foreign chemical into your body that completely changes how your mind works-- it just increases the level of chemicals that are naturally within you. Everyone has those chemicals-- some people have more, some people have less.

When you take prozac, for example, you don't suddenly feel happy no matter what happens, you don't feel drugged, and indeed you aren't drugged. Unlike recreational mind-altering drugs, you don't feel different or abnormal, you feel completely the same as any normal person.

Anyone who isn't perfectly okay and at peace should consider trying them. There are two different brain chemical levels you can have, and you have no guarantee that the one you happen to be born with is the "correct" one. No more than the focus of our eyes that we happen to be born with is the "correct" one.

(I also should say-- this does NOT apply to Ritalin and the like: those aren't gentle and are very druggish. Some people do need it, but I also know some normal healthy kids whose teachers have tried to push them on it unneccesarily.)

12:13 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

The Bible condemns self-hatred. Self-hatred is not repentance. Self-hatred is a sin with which I tend to struggle. That is not God's fault. It is not the fault of the gospel. The gospel points out that a righteousness from heaven has been revealed. This righteousness, or metaphorically speaking LIGHT, illumines our depravity and sin. But it also guides us on the right path.

Worldly sorrow (self-hatred and/or shallow sorrow) brings death, but godly sorrow (conviction that comes by God's word and God's lovingkindness and God's spirit) brings life and peace.

We are more than the sum total of our chemicals. Mind does not equal brain. The brain is part of the mind, but there is a metaphysical reality which is part of the mind. We have souls. We each have a spirit.

Your psychological drug solution is no solution at all, and it stems from your materialistic and evolutionary worldview. It is error. You need to repent of it.

Let me clear something up about repentance. Repentance involves godly sorrow, not worldly sorrow. Repentance is actually a very joyful thing. Repentance is all about embracing the joy-filled redeeming life that Christ offers us.

We are created in God's image to be in right relationship with God and man. We are broken, and we need the Trinity to be healed. We need a perfect holy and just and loving Father. We need a Son, who sacrificed Himself for us to satisfy His Father's just wrath. We need the Holy Spirit who convicts us of righteousness, sin, and judgment, and who comforts those who mourn.

Our society - particularly the younger culture - is filled with a bunch of narcissists. The reason is simple: the public education system is motivated by the idea that we need to boost kids' self-esteems. To be direct: That's a bunch of crap.

Acknowledging our sin is the first step to acknowledging reality and therefore the first step to being healed. Embracing the joy-filled redeeming life that Christ offers us is the way for narcissts to get out of narcism, and for those wrapped up in self-hatred to get out of self-hatred.

Nothing "under the Sun" is going to fix the sin problem. Only Jesus can.

When God points His finger at us to expose our sin, He also offers us His hand to help us up out of it.

I encourage you to get to know some Christians. I am being made whole. I have a bunch of friends who are being made whole. I have one friend that is whole. Not to say that my friend is perfect; he is not. But my friend is whole in Christ. He is confident and humble. He challenges me, loves me, and supports me. He is a normal guy who truly believes that those who trust in the Lord will never be put to shame. His life reflects his beliefs. He is blessed. He has the unmerited favor of God on him.

I am broken, but I come to God with empty hands of faith, trusting that God is making me whole. I know that Proverbs says that "He who walks with the wise, grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."

Drugs are not the answer, and they are often dentrimental. Our nation is medicated, but people are still broken.

I know about my dark cloud. I know when I have risen above it. It is on the days that I start out by praying and reading the Bible, and then throw myself wholeheartdedly into the day and work hard. It is when I spend quality time with other people, receive love from them and show love for them. But when I shrink back in laziness, when I get prideful, and when I get consumed by lust, then I have the empty feeling at the end of the day, the feeling that comes when you know you didn't give it your best.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

It comes down to faith, man. Not science.

Incidentally, I don't think that psychology really deserves to be called a science. Psychology is like a pseudo-science, that passes itself off as science. It is really more about religion and philosophy. They just don't call it that.

I went on a mission trip down to Louisianna over Spring break. Working to muck out some of these homes was hard, disgusting work. But being with people, working hard, I experienced joy and satisfaction at the end of the days, knowing that I had given it my best and helped others. I remember praying at the end of one of those days, "Lord Jesus, receive this day's work as an act of worship." I had peace and joy.

But our generation wants all the benefits of the blessing of God without doing the work that we have been created to do. They want to watch hours and hours of TV, and they have an entitlement mentality. And then they get depressed. But rather than repent, and embrace the joy-filled, redeeming grace of God, they take drugs.

Sometimes, there might be a place for that. I have had a seizure disorder, and I took Tegretol for years to control it. I'm not rejecting meds in every situation. But, in general, our generation has gone absolutely crazy, and basically have simply said, "Yes" to drugs.

11:30 AM  
Blogger elvis777 said...

"We are more than the sum total of our chemicals. Mind does not equal brain. The brain is part of the mind, but there is a metaphysical reality which is part of the mind. We have souls. We each have a spirit. "

Do you think matter is not deep ? Even the simplest particle, the electron, is composed of an infinite number of items or sums as described in quantum electrodynamics and according to the feynman diagrams. Matter is infinite and it is not a "just" anything. What is in a word, the soul ? this word is so vague that it could equally be applied to matter and chemicals. And according to those religions where matter is god, that would also be blasphemy. Don't underestimate matter or the creation. And matter is also spiritual and metaphysical.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Joe,

Exploring matter (studying physics) is fascinating and extremely deep. As I have said previously, as I have studied physics, I see beauty, ordered-complexity, and the creative design of God. It is neat. And I have only scratched the surface.

When we look at the universe, we see matter. When we look more closely, we see waves. I've heard it said that if we look even more closely, we see information.

Defining the "soul" or the "spirit" or even the "heart" in the spiritual sense of the word (as opposed to that organ that acts like a pump, pumping our blood through our bodies) is not an easy task. I can not do it. But the heart, the soul, and the spirit are metaphysical realities, that are somehow attached and wearing this flesh and blood that we carry.

A hardcore Darwinian materialist thinks that human beings are nothing more than the summation of our chemicals. Starting from that premise, all of our problems - in the final analysis - come down to some kind of chemical imbalance. The whole idea of "will" and "choice" is an illusion to the hardcore Darwinian. Our DNA is set. Our chemicals in our brains will do certain things, so that what looks like a "decision" is actually a series of complex chemical reactions that have already been determined by our DNA.

But I believe that we can make choices. We are not slaves of our DNA. Certainly, we have limitations. I can only jump so high - and no higher. I can only grasp concepts that are so complex - and no more complex. But, I have the ability to make choices. I would argue that my ability to make choices is evidence of the soul, the spirit, and the heart. If we didn't have a soul, a spirit, or a heart, then we would basically be robots. Our brains are computers. We have been programmed. Our lives are nothing more than the execution of the code that is in our DNA.

I don't believe that. Do you? Or do you think that we can make choices? If we have the freedom of choice, how does that fit with our DNA. If we are nothing more than all the chemicals that compose us, then how can we "choose" to go against one decision and for another one? A program that is in execution will do just what the code says it will do. Some would argue that human beings do just what their DNA causes them to do.

But I say that we have the ability to disrupt our tendencies (which to one degree is determined by our DNA). The ability to disrupt our tendencies is evidence that we are more than the sum total of our chemicals and DNA. It means that we have a very real metaphysical self - not determined our bound by our DNA. We are spiritual people - created in God's image. We can choose to rebel against Him, and then not fulfill our purpose in life, or we can submit to Him and joyfully obey Him. Then, we will be made whole.

11:16 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"A hardcore Darwinian materialist thinks that human beings are nothing more than the summation of our chemicals."

Is it really so obvious that this viewpoint is flawed? Do we really have free will?

When I see a smoker unable to make himself stop what I know is bad for him-- is it really so clear that we have a supernatural ability to decide our fate? When I hear of a heroine addict who will commit crimes to pay for this obscure chemical substance-- is it really so hard to believe his behavior is the result of a biological computer that has broken down?

When we meet people who can't stop themselves from washing their own hands-- compulsively scrubbing their hands until they are raw-- it seems easy to believe he's just a giant machine that isn't working. Or someone who's terrified of germs that they can't leave their house-- it's hard to imagine that their soul somehow is choosing to be so afraid.

The materialist's answer makes sense. Nicotine alters a smokers brain in ways that make it want to quit. An obsessive-compulsive's brain has an overactive area of the frontal cortex that can't turn off.

I can't choose whether I like chocolate or vanilla ice cream better-- it just seems to happen. I can't choose whether I am happy or sad-- it just seems to happen. I can't choose how I react when startled-- my body just moves and jumps and screams. When I play chess, I look over the board and think what move seems best-- I can't "choose" which move will seem best, I just look at them, and one of them seems to be the way to go. No one chooses to get a math problem wrong-- they're doing their best.

I cannot choose to fall in love with someone-- when I have the experience of being in love, it's when my body and brain have released a cocktails of chemicals. If I do not feel that sensation when I look at someone, there is no force of will that allow me to choose to feel that way.

I can't choose to find something funny. When I have a good idea, I didn't "choose" to have it-- it just popped in my mind unexplainably.

I also cannot "choose" to make myself believe in a God-- I've studied and discussed about it extensively, and when I look inside, I find that it is not something I truly _believe_. I cannot simply choose to suddenly believe, anymore than you can choose to truly with all your heart believe the sky is green.

Brains and chemicals and machines seem to account for far more of our behavior than souls and sin.

--

That doesn't mean I'm 100% convinced we don't have a soul or free will-- the jury's still out. And it certainly doesn't mean we are slaves to our DNA.

Our DNA is like the hardware of my computer-- it certainly affects things, but it's the kind of input my computer receives from its senses (keyboard & mouse) that turn it into a wordprocessor or webbrowser or cd player.

For us too-- our genes and our sensory input both play roles-- if we are indeed slaves, we are not slaves to one or the other, but to some combination of both.

After all-- the information we receive through our eyes and ears that tells us how bad smoking is can, in some cases, cause us to quit. The experience of going to psychotherapy can change the levels of some of our neurotransmitters.

So you can't simplify it down to say our DNA makes the decision for us. If anything, it's the state of every atom in our brain. And can you name any two times in your life when your brain been in the exact same state, down to the atom, but you've two different things?

Of course, it never happens. Your brain has never been in the same exact state twice. So the question is-- if your brain WAS in that same state twice, wouldn't you have to do the same thing both times? Or could you somehow do someting different?

The jury's still out. Blame the Quantum Physicists.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

If we can't choose, then the whole idea of human beings being accountable and culpable is really blunted.

First of all, I have to say that all your assertions, "I can't choose... (fill in the blank)" are fundamental presuppositions or perhaps inductive conclusions based on limited data. None of these assertions have been proven scientifically. The question of choice is a philosophical question - not a scientific question. We do not have the means to observe all the millions and millions of chemical reactions going on in our brains in any given week. Therefore, your assertions are not scientific.

So, this topic of choice is a philosophical/theological debate, not a scientific debate.

The truth is this: In a certain sense, you can choose. In another sense you are powerless to choose.

When I was in the middle of my Data Structures course in college, I only completed the programs and made them work, when I chose to be tenacious, patient, and persevering. I chose to jump in with both legs, and to "git 'er dun." I chose to let Jesus be my inspiration.

Other times, I gave in to laziness and distractions. I would put a half-hearted effort into the computer program, and it wouldn't work. It was only when I chose to focus with intensity that I was able to accomplish.

You can also choose to be joyful. You can choose to be in control of your emotions. You can choose to not give in to the temptation of being infatuated with other women. You can choose to be faithful to one.

The Bible says, "No temptation has seized you except that which is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out."

For me, I got this when I was about 12 years old. I was told then that if any man looks at a woman lustfully, he has committed adultery with her.

Well, I found that hard to believe, but I still chose to believe it. I remember the first time I saw a really hot girl in a bikini, and I chose not to look at her lustfully. I thouht, "Hmm... it is possible."

My Dad was addicted to smoking. But then, he chose to quit. It was the hardest thing he ever did in his life, but he did it. He chose to do it. He chose to be disciplined when things were hard. He took control of his life.

I used to be somewhat of a runner. I have had some good races and some bad races. In 9th grade, I was in 4th place in a 2 mile race, running as fast as I ever ran in my life. I chose to beat the guy in 3rd place. It took a measure of mental toughness, but I chose to run faster than I could handle for the rest of the race to convince him that that particular race was mine. And then I just held him off the rest of the way. But I could have very easily taken the path of laziness and cowardice and mental weakness. I have done that in many races. I have been in races where with half a mile to go, I thought, "What in the world am I putting myself through so much pain for?" In some of those races, I would be passed by dozens of people in the last half mile. But on that day, I got 3rd place - beating out my opponent, because I chose to push myself and to discipline myself.

The Bible says that love is patient. People don't often feel like being patient. Being patient is choosing to suffer with a good attitude and with hope and faith that the situation will improve. It is a state of mind that is developed by willpower and self-discipline.

When I was 17 years old, I had a big fight with my father. We got into a fierce argument. We were yelling, the adrenalin was rising. I came very close to actually swinging at my dad. Eventually, we split up. My dad went to his bedroom, and I went downstairs to get something to eat. My dad came downstairs and he was giving me "the look." I was giving him "the look." He started telling me about how much I didn't appreciate him and his sacrifices. There, in the midst of that fight, in the midst of all the emotion and anger and resentment, I made a choice to love my dad. And right there, while he was telling me how much I didn't appreciate him, I told him, "I love you, Dad."

My Dad is a big guy - 6'1" 200+ pounds. He's pretty tough. Born and raised in the Bronx. He's not the toughest guy in the word - not by a long shot. But he takes care of himself. When he heard me say, "I love you," my dad broke down and wept.

I could have chosen to persist in anger, frustration, and resentment. But, that day, I chose to walk in love and in humility.

Willpower is like a spiritual muscle. The more you train it, the better it develops. It is like lifting weights. You reap what you sow. Those who sow a positive attitude, joy, pure thoughts, etc, will reap success, joy, love, etc. I fully believe that many people who are depressed, are depressed because for years, they have persisted in a negative attitude. Thus, they have not developed their minds. They experience spiritual, psychological, and probably even a certain bio-chemcial atrophy. Thus, they are given over to depraved thinking.

On the other hand, without Christ, we are totally depraved. Romans says, "The sinful mind is hostile to God; it will not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." Without God, we will not and can not choose to submit to God. That's why drug addicts don't repent. They can't! That's why those who are angry persist in their anger. They can't change! They are depraved - completely and totally depraved. Alcholohics, angry people, drug addicts, gluttons, jerks, mean people, depressed people, sexually immoral people, we are all slaves of sin. Without Christ, we will not and can not submit to God. We are stuck; we are slaves to sin.

But, thanks be to God for our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord. Today is the day of salvation! He has come and preached peace to us. He has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility between us and the Father. When we did not know God's love, Christ loved us. When were lost, He found us. When we were in rebellion, He taught us the fear of the LORD. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. When we were dead in our transgressions, God made us alive in Christ. In Him, and through faith in Him, we are forgiven, cleansed, made alive, redeemed, born again, restored, chosen, and blessed.

This is a profound mystery. God is Sovereign. Yet men have free will. We can not choose God without Christ. We can not and will not submit to God without God capturing our hearts. We can choose to fight the good fight of faith, or we can choose to rebel against God.

Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. When God speaks, make sure to retain the knowledge of God. Those who don't are given over to depraved thinking.

God has revealed these truths to little children, and has hidden them from the wise and the learned. He has done this according to His good pleasure.

The world quakes at the sound of His voice. Mountains tremble and fall. Cold, unbelieving hearts turn.

When God speaks, make sure you don't miss it. He speaks in many ways. He knocked Saul of Tarsus off his horse, and blinded him for three days. But He spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice. But when He speaks, you do not want to miss it. Trust me on that. Better still, trust God on that, for He has said as much through His word, through Creation, through His church, and through His Holy Spirit. This testimony is true.

1:40 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Here's an article I came across. It's a good harsher than I am, but if you're interested in seeing why some people in the world today are so anti-christianity, this does a good job of explaining it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-slater/the-great-fundamentalist-_b_21941.html

9:13 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

The Apostle Paul addresses hypocrites rather forcefully in Romans 2:23, saying, "'God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'"

It is an unfortunate reality that there have been tremendous injustices done in the name of Christianity throughout history. It is this hypocrisy which many in the unbelieving world find so unbelievable.

To all the people who have seen "Chrisitians" live hypocritical lives, I want to personally apologize on behalf of my brethren.

Leviticus was written specifically to the Old Testament nation of Israel for that particular dispensation. God had specific commands and rules for his specific people at the specific point of history. Israel was to be set a part as a holy nation - to model for the world what a nation looks like whose God is the Lord. That does not mean that now, in this dispensation of grace, that we must observe all the same dietary laws that God gave specifically to the ancient Israelites.

This is a point of confusion - even among many Christians (even in my own mind). So, it is easy to see why it is so misunderstood among non-believers.

Many Christians have shut off their brains. This is a tragedy. Let me be clear: FAITH DOES NOT MEAN BLIND ACCEPTANCE. We must be intellectually honest. But we also must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own limited, human understanding.

Many "Christians" are racist bigots. I am committed to confronting these people, and to call them to repentance. There is no place for racism and bigotry in the Kingdom of God.

However, the left asserts that to condemn homosexuality is to embrace bigotry. This is a fallacy of some kind (I am weak on my informal fallacies). Recognizing a perversion as a perversion is not bigotted. I have known a few Christians who have come out of lifestyles of homosexuality. It is a fact that many homosexuals are not happy with themselves or with their sexuality. Love the sinner; hate the sin. I am ready and willing to embrace all homosexuals. I will embrace any and all sinners. For it is the kindness, patience, and tolerance of God which leads toward repentance.

Radical evil fundamentalism (like the Pharisees that Jesus constantly confronted) and secularism have this in common: Both peoples are arrogant, and both devalue human life. But in Jesus, there is hope for both peoples.

Recognize well what you are opposed to and what you are for. If you are pissed off at the hypocrisy on the church, you might find that Jesus is even more, and that might cause you to respect Him. I have no problem with people being opposed to evil religious snobs who do their evil in the name of Christ. I abhor arrogance - whether it is in the name of Christ or in the name of secularism - arrogance is arrogance - and it is wrong.

We should love one another. In Christ, (dare I say it), there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male or female, slave or free, black or white, fundamentalist or secularist, but Christ is in all who cry out to Him out of hearts of purity.

Matthew 5:8 - "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

My prayer is simply this: Purify my heart, Lord. Let it be as gold, and precious silver. Make me pure, that I might know real love, and that I might have strength to value those that you value - people.

On the whole faith thing: Anyone who thinks that they can live a despicable godless life, but thinks that they will be okay for believing the story does not understand the God of the Bible. We are saved by faith, not by works. The saved demonstrate their faith through good works. Those who don't have good works have good reason to question their salvation. Many will say to Christ on that day, "Lord! Lord! Did we not (fill in the blank) in your name?" And He will respond, "Depart from me! I never knew you!"

Not all who have said the Billy Graham prayer are saved.

But again, before you judge the "fundies" too much, remember, he who has no sin should throw the first stone.

3:11 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

It's true-- the people who proclaim "God Hates Fags" are a small minority. But I'm not convinced that the "Homosexuality is an abomination" crowd isn't motivated by the exact same emotions-- they just have more tact.

It's kinda like the christians who've cited the bible to justify their condemnation of interracial dating. Maybe, just maybe, they're motivation comes from a close reading of old testament marriage laws. But given the huge numbers of people who hate blacks and will do anything to find an excuse to hate blacks-- it seems logical to think that their hate came first, and their emphasis on that portion of the bible is just a justification.

Now we live in a society where homosexuals are the new blacks-- the people it's semi-okay to hate. Sure, we see the klan and we see the "God hates Fags" all day long. So when another group turns up that says "Homosexuality is sin-- but God does love sinners", it's hard to believe that the hatred of homosexuals hasn't played a role.

Consider, for example-- homosexuality is almost certainly not "more wrong" than premarital sex. For the catholic church, homosexuality is wrong ONLY because it is premarital sex. But for the three or so times homosexuality is mentioned, adultery and divorce and marriage rules are discussed a thousand-times more frequently.

But where are the christians out for a "Make Divorce Illegal" amendment to the constitution. Where are the christians who are trying to make premarital sex a capital crime? Where are the christians who are trying to pass laws to make sure every american has health care, or to make sure that public schools can afford to buy textbooks?

These issues, it seems, can't inspire passion in christians the way laws against homosexuality can. Divorce is something that lots of good christians want. Taxes are something good christians hate having to pay. To really get our primal passions going, we need a good minority-- someone we can all agree to hate.

Sometimes it's the jews, sometimes it's the blacks, these days it's the gays. We can always find some good bible quotes to justify it. But our passion for it-- that's the thing that's hard to account for.

Where are the christians out marching in the streets to protest our soldiers massacring thousands of innocent iraqis? Apparently, they're all busy at a rally for the gay marriage ban.

(I should state here, of course, that many nice and not-hateful christians have also come to believe that the bible forbids homosexuality. It's not that belief that I find inherently hateful. Its the passion behind it that is, to me, the tip off that bigotry's working its magic on the human mind.)

--

"It is a fact that many homosexuals are not happy with themselves or with their sexuality."

Of course they're not. Homosexuals also have higher rates of suicide and mental illness. But who could be happy with their sexuality in a world like this?

It's like doing a study of jews trapped in a concentration camp, finding that they are malnourished and depressed, and then concluding that being jewish is a sign of mental illness and unhealthiness.

Gays know what awaits them if they can't change. That so many of them can't change despite the hatred that awaits them is, to me, proof that in some cases at least, they don't have a choice in the matter.

--

In 1956, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev told a group of western capitalists,"We will bury you!". By this, he didn't mean that the Soviets would physically kill Americans. He meant that Capitalism was the way of the past, and it would die within his lifetime. Communism, then, would attend the funeral of Capitalism. Capitalism, he was saying, was a dying breed.

Of course-- Krushchev was wrong about that-- so perhaps I shouldn't use his quote. But it's a good quote anyway.

For me, of course, the good news in the homosexuality thing is this: my side is winning. More and more people are seeing that there's no reason to look down on homosexuality-- there's no reason they can't love each other just like any other two people.

"God hates fags" is just the last gasp of a dying movement that is starting to wake up and see their days are numbered, just as southern politicians in the 1960s rebelled when they saw that rascism was about to die.

Maybe God disapproves of homosexuality, maybe he doesn't-- but the rest of us are able to make up our own minds and we're able to see that hating gays isn't something that makes sense to us. The gay marriage bans may pass for a while, but the young are able to see that we have nothing to fear from homosexuality-- it will not destroy our society. It will not make God hate us, or make him send hurricanes to destroy us. Rather, it will make us better people for accepting them.

Tolerance and acceptance are winning. Hatred is losing. And that means that the christians who judge homosexuals without hating them are losing too. The time for using the bible alone to justify discrimination is over, it's adherents are being deposed as the leaders of the world, and will wind up like the taliban-- an obscure, outdated religious minority.

The time for outlawing gays is over. The time for tolerance is at hand. The writing is on the wall. We will bury you.
(which is just a fancy way of saying... we will change your minds)

7:06 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

You shamelessly and wholeheartedly support government funding for the propagation of your (perverse) ideas. But when I talk about using government funds for the propagation of my (noble) ideas, you whine "seperation between church and state!" You are therefore a hypocrite. If you are going to continue shamelessly playing your part in the epistemological hegemony that is going on, and advocate government funds for the sake of the propagation of your worldview, then stop defending separation between church and state. Your ideas can be considered religious. You have a religion; it just doesn't have a name or organization. To refuse to stop preaching for seperation between church and state, but then to insist on your pro-homosexual, hate the military dogma, is a contradiction.

The antithesis is real. You come against me with numbers the way Goliath came against me with sword and spear and javelin. But I come against you in the name of the LORD my God. As long as you support the perversion of homosexuality, you are on the losing side.

I will address your valid objections later.

At the very least, I request that you quit patronizing people with this seperation between church and state idea. Religion, politics, and philosophy are forever intertwined. You are demanding that people respect the "religion" of the state. Your religion is "tolerance." You really do support "theocracy." Its just that your god(s) are idols.

You need to repent.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Goliath came against David, not me. My bad.

I need to say that your entire last post was basically lumping me in with the "God hates fags" crowd, aside from that little parentheses in which you essentially say, "I'm not lumping you in with these prejudice rednecks." Yet, that is exactly what you did. And it's not right.

There is a clear and sharp distinction between those of us who believe the truth that homosexuality is a perversion, and those prejudiced rednecks who think that "God hates fags, and so do I."

This truth completely cripples your argument. Your ranting and raving about an injustice that most Christians join you in condemning.

But you, like the good socialist lefty that you are, imply that those who don't join you in the tyrannical epistemological socialist secular hegemony might be a redneck.

"If you are a Christian who believes in the principles of capitalism (i.e. no free lunch), and especially if you are anti-homosexual marriage, then you might be a redneck."

"If you don't support public education (where children can grow up to be good socialist leftists), you might be a redneck."

What is so shameless about these idiotic ideas that you imply is that you know me much better than that. You understand how my mind works better than most people I know. You know that I believe in tolerance and kindness and compassion (of the Biblical kind). You know that I am not a redneck.

The Bible says that the patience, kindness, and tolerance of God leads toward repentance. Being tolerant, in this respect, is a Christ-like quality. However, the new tolerance is really a form of rebellion against a Holy God.

A leader who tolerates everything all the time is not a good leader. Some behavior should never be tolerated. Other behavior should be tolerated sometimes.

Example: My grandfather was a prejudiced bigot - with a foul mouth. When I was a kid, I used to be scared to go to my grandfather's house. When I became older, I did what very few people dared or cared to do; I confronted him. But I did not confront him harshly. I showed him tolerance. I told him that what he was doing wasn't right and that he needed to repent and turn to Jesus. When he tried to intimidate me, I held my ground firmly, but I was still gentle and loving toward him. I showed him a lot of tolerance. I loved him as he was, and I loved him too much to let him continue as he was without challenging him.

This is the real tolerance. The tolerance of the left today is not what this is about. The tolerance of the day is about lefties and liberal lawyers finding loopholes legally and philosophically, so that they don't have to submit to God's righteousness. It is a tolerance that placates perversion. It does not tolerate the Christian gospel, but proudly affirms homosexuality as a valid alternative lifestyle. It doesn't tolerate the 10 Commandments, but institutionalizes greed and selfishness by legislating socialist policies. It doesn't value human life, but legalizes murder (abortion). It doesn't tolerate government funding for the propagation of the Christian gospel, but it demands government funding for the propagation of postmodernism.

You said, "Sometimes it's the jews, sometimes it's the blacks, these days it's the gays. We can always find some good bible quotes to justify it. But our passion for it-- that's the thing that's hard to account for."

I don't want to underestimate your valid concern. It is way too easy - especially among brain - dead evangelical Christians to go into a mob mentality. I am with you in defending the rights of gays to life. I would stand against the entire modern evangelical community - if necessary - to defend gays from concentration camps. However, I stand by the gospel. Homosexuality is a perversion. Homosexuals should not be allowed to marry. Marriage was designed by God to be between a man and a woman. Children were meant to be reaised by one father and one mother who are committed to each other in a state of holy matrimony. Family is God's idea, and when done God's way, is a wonderful blessing. A family truly makes a house a home.

I would be interested in doing a scientific/philosophic/theological case study about the family lives of all these people who are asserting the rights of gays to get married. My hypothesis would be that many of you came from broken homes, divorce, abuse, neglect. Probably, many of you did not experience father/son 90 mile canoeing trip adventures, fammily camping trips, and regular family meals. Understand, I do not hope that this is true for the sake of winning an argument. That would be sadistic. It is simply what I believe.

I once read an article that basically asserted that homosexual marriage should be allowed; everyone should be allowed to share the pain. This depressed view of marriage is pathetic. People need Jesus.

The socialist activists and the big business capitalists are in bed together. They care about money and power. Not many people care about strengthening families.

How is it that so many people are so pissed off at James Dobson? He has dedicated his work to calling on fathers and mothers to make their families strong.

On Education: Orthodox Christians don't support public education because they care about education! I have dedicated the past two years of my life to educating the next generation. That isn't much, but many Christians have done much more than me. We oppose the secular brainwashing that goes on in public education. We oppose the idea that the state is responsible for education. We care very much about education, and we want it done God's way.

Having said that, many millions of Christians don't care that much about education. This is a tragedy. They need to wake up, repent, care, and contribute to godly, Christian education.

You said, "Where are the christians out marching in the streets to protest our soldiers massacring thousands of innocent iraqis? Apparently, they're all busy at a rally for the gay marriage ban."

This is ridiculous. I know many people in the military, including a marine who has had a friend die in Iraq. He is getting ready to go back to Iraq for another tour. He is dedicated to justice, not to random slaughter.

As for the recent events that have been going on in the news, as far as I know, there is an investigation. If there was foul play, then I pray that the soldiers who committed the transgression would be brought to justice. BUT, we have this presumption of innocence thing in this country.

Imagine yourself a marine in Iraq. You are doing your duty, trying to fight terrorism and defend justice, and then all of a sudden your hear guns and explosions. You turn around, and your buddy has been severed in half. How would you respond?

I proudly support that troops, and I insist that they be held to the highest ethical standards, and that justice should be done.

Killing terrorists who are trying to kill you is not murder; it is combat. It is justice.

Have there been war crimes? Yes, to the left's delight. The left is filled with haters. They hate Bush. They hate conservatives. They hate Christians. They hate the 10 Commandments. They hate the West. They don't have anything better in mind, but they have a lot of hateful rhetoric. They take a perverse pleasure in seeing a few American soldiers commit atrocities, because it gives them the perverse justification that they need to keep on hating.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

Of all the things I write, and of all the arguments that I make, the one thing that really seems to grip you is my belief that homosexuality is sin.

I don't have a problem with that, in the sense that I have no problem discussing the reasons why I believe such, but you seem to completely ignore all the rest of my arguments.

Maybe you have been exposed to a lot more racism than I have and are concerned about a bunch of southern redneck hicks getting too much power in Washington. This could be a valid point.

But I grew up in the land of liberal Massachusetts - going to public school K-12. It seems to me that racism is pretty near to being a non-issue in our country - and a distraction from the real threats - secular humanism.

4:32 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

The Christian emphasis on capitalism is odd. It's all well and good for a secularist to insist that no one get a free lunch-- but it seems to me that Jesus was all about giving. I'd even go so far as to say that if we made a top five of Jesus's big points, a duty of the haves to help the have-nots would certainly make the list.

It's been said before, but the same christians that insist a child has the right to be born will fight tooth and nail against a government that tries to pay for that very same child to be able to go to a doctor.

I knew a girl who had a leg deformity-- one leg had grown shorter than the other somehow. She couldn't walk because of it, she had to sort of hobble around with a cane. There was a surgery to correct it, but her family couldn't afford it. I met a man once who spent eight months waiting to get his infected gall bladder removed, a potentially life-threatening condtion, because he didn't have health insurance.

This is inexcusable. We, as a society, have a duty to right this wrong.

Why are the hippie tree-hugging leftists the ones who talk about this. That the christians of america oppose universal health care (and education) for the poor is beyond incomprehensible.

As for me-- I can understand that my ideology does have many characteristics in common with a religion. And I do have sympathy for people who notice the "Separation of Church and State" when there is no "Seperation of Science and State". In some ways, it's an unfair handicap.

But, there are some critical differences between political ideologies and religion. Religions are founded on ideas that cannot be proven, even in priciple. For better or for worse, our system of government feels that these sorts of ideas should not become explicit government policy.

I tend to think this is a good thing. Without it, your church would be illegal, and some other church would have taken over. Without it, I believe you and I could not have this conversation-- a theocracy official of a totalitarian government would be monitoring this conversation and would probably lock us both up for heresy. If it weren't for the separation of church and state, we wouldn't have a president, we would have a pope.

But the downside of this freedom is that religious ideologies are at a very minor disadvatange in government. In our country, religion can inspire policy, but it can never become policy. I would say this is why America is one of the greatest nations in the world, but the vatican is not.

If we didn't have this, your private school would be illega, and some religious sect would have taken control--- maybe the catholics, maybe the presbyterians, maybe the mormons, and suddenly there would be no nondenominational schools allowed anymore, no baptists schools , etc.

------

"My hypothesis would be that many of you came from broken homes, divorce, abuse, neglect. Probably, many of you did not experience father/son 90 mile canoeing trip adventures, fammily camping trips, and regular family meals."

And what would it prove even if this is the case? Perhaps the children of divorce are all too well aware that just becase your parents of opposite gender, that doesn't make them better parents. Perhaps the children of single parent are all too well aware of how sad it is when you don't have two loving parents who have a passion for parenting-- and based on this, they feel it's important to give a child every chance possible to have two parents by not insisting that children be confined to an orphanage when there are two loving parents who want to care for them, based merely on the fact that both parents are the same sex.

My own experience that your hypothesis is probably right. The people who believe divorce is a mortal sin are also without doubt going to also believe that that homosexuality is a mortal sin, so, there's plenty for a correlation.

---

"We care very much about education, and we want it done God's way."

Let's forget for a second that no one truly knows what God's way is-- on earth, there is no way that everyone agrees is God's way-- there is only your way, or my way. Christians can't agree on how to do things-- how can they possible expect the rest of us to also agree with one particular way.

So, let's pretend for a second that you just can't have every child in America going to school run by your particular sect of christianity. If you had a choice between safe, well-funded, public schools for every child, and no public schools-- which would you choose? A an illiterate, uneducated populace, or a literate well-educated populace?

It's all well and good to want to overthrow the federal goverment-- but in the mean time, is that really any reason to avoid funding the schools we have now for the time being?

I'd like to believe that most christians who oppose funding education or universal healthcare are acting out of some philosophical objection. But my concern is that it's just the same old story-- the haves will always find some excuse to refuse to help the have-nots. Sometimes it's racial, sometimes it's based on the idea of class superiority. Nowadays it's based on the idea that paying for sick people's doctors is somehow Communist. When the communists and the cold war are a forgotten memories, the people who have will still come up with some good excuse why they don't have to help the poor.

-----

As for the homosexuality issue, Christians, in general, do not obey the vast majority of the laws of the old testament. When they ignore so much of the books, but insist that the one line about homosexuality of the book is the inviolatable word of God--- it makes me start looking reasons why. Reasons that have nothing to do with Deuteronomy.

Here's my theory for the reason eating pork is okay but being gay is a mortal sin:

1. Sex in general is pretty sinful. Especially if you enjoy it.
2. Being different in any way is suspect. Gays are sure different.
3. Lots of conservative christian leaders say homosexualiy is wrong. The people who say homosexuality is okay are usually atheists. So it's easy to decide who I should side with.
4. Lastly. I hate fags, I love God. It only stands to reason God hates fags.

--

The answer about why we follow some parts of the bible but not others isn't going to be found in the bible.

When I ask why I should murder, you can say "It's against God's will". But if I ask you WHY God doesn't want me to murder someone, it's easy to come up with a lot of good explanation about how many people murder hurts, how many lives it destroys.

But when I ask why I should be homosexual, or why I shouldn't eat shellfish, you get stuck after the "It's against God's will" part. How does homosexuality hurt? Well.. it hurts everyone, because it's against God. or it hurts God, because we are disobeying him.

If no one ever told me, if I had never heard of the bible... I think I could figure out that murder is wrong. But on the other hand, I don't think it would ever occur to me that homosexuality or shellfish are somehow wrong, if nobody had ever told me that.

--------

But, you are very correct-- you, my dear Dan, aren't fanatical about homosexuality-- I'm the one who is obsessed with it. I know lots of really good people who still feel homosexuality is sinful. I have a lot of sympathy for this-- it's what you've been taught by your religious leaders, and it is in the bible after all. I only start to get particularly judgemental when I'm dealing with the style of christian for whom homosexuality can inspire incredible hateful passion. Today was a good day for them-- with the Gay Marriage ban debate, they were all over the news.

I probably ignore some of your other beliefs because I don't disagree with them so intensely. The abortion debate, for example, is mostly a good effect, where people trying to stop what they see as murder are fighting people who are are trying to protect what they see as personal freedom. I can't be mad at pro-lifers: abortion certainly "seems" like it might be near to murder. I can disagree that it is, I can say that if you don't have a brain, you're not a human.. but it's a fuzzy line, and I think people can very reasonably disagree over it.

School vouchers. At the end of the day, the government will pay for one type of school but not another. It definitely feels unfair on some levels. I can't take too much issue with that-- if I ran the circus, school would be funded like crazy, and we could pay for all the schools-- christian ones included.

Iraq-- that's a tricky one. No matter how incompetently it's been run, no matter what errors or lies were used to justify it, at the end of the day, there was a very bad man who was killing people, and we tried to make it better. I understand people who support the war, and I understand people who oppose it.

Death penalty. A bad person did bad things-- shouldn't we therefore do something bad to them, so that people can have a sense of justice? On the other hand, maybe we should turn the other cheek and not do an eye for an eye, a life for a life. I understand both sides, they're reasonable.

Trying to make homosexuality illegal-- I do NOT understand this one. I've known so many gay and lesbian couples, and they're always such nice, kind, sweet, good-hearted people. The relationships I've observed-- we should all be so lucky to have such happy marriages. I should have been so lucky to be raised by such nice loving parents who are so in love with each other. Hating homosexuality is like.. hating puppies or hating kittens or hating beautiful happy babbies-- I just don't understand it. Being anti-family, so against a happy healthy loving family, just because of their gender-- it just doesn't make any sense. I cannot believe God disapproves of such a positive thing has happily married gay couples, and it will take a lot more than a half-dozen lone sentences in an 80,000-word text (about a third of which we ignore). The gay and lesbians I've known are good, kind, people who are loving, wonderful people-- God cannot be against something so wholesome. It makes no sense at all.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I watch students in one study hall every week, and we just had that study hall. I usually am pretty lenient in study hall, and we often get in casual philosophical discussions.

So, today, I read blurbs from your last post to the students to see what their reactions would be.

There were three students involved in the conversation - two mature young ladies (who are model students) and one rather immature young man.

And the response of this young man is probably unfortunately fairly typical of the larger evangelical community. He is without doubt a prejudiced bigot. While the two mature girls condemn homosexuality, but do love homosexuals, they were being much too easy on this kid (call him Bob - not his real name). I probably have been too easy on him and those like him as well.

You'll be happy to hear that I am repenting for this, and I will stand up tall and proud and push my evangelical brethren to truly love homosexuals. I pushed this kid pretty hard - emphasizing that the Bible commands that we love God and that we love one another. We are to love the sinner and hate the sin. But, sad to say, way too many Christians have hated the sin, the sinner, and anything and everything that comes close to the appearance of the sin or the sinner.

And I have too often been silent, and stood by without confronting that. I repent. On behalf of myself and the entire evangelical community, please accept my apology. I now commit myself to confronting bigotry whenever and wherever it sticks up its ugly head.

I will say this: If you ever become a Christian, then you will learn real tolerance, because the church is filled with a bunch of really bad sinful people, and as a Christian, it would be your job to love the people, and to stand against their sin. It will be your job to practice patience and forgiveness and loyalty to a bunch of undeserving sinners. The only way you will be able to do this is by the grace of God. It is when we recognize that we our undeserving sinners ourselves, that is possible to grant love and forgiveness to other undeserving sinners.

On capitalism, let me just say that I am not a capitalist. As I have said before, the big business hardcore capitalists care nothing for families and faith, but only about making a buck. This is idolatry. We can't serve God and money.

But I also stand by the truth that socialism is institutionalized envy and legalized theft.

So, what do we do? We serve God. Neither socialism or capitalism will work, because people are selfish. Selfish socialists make claims to things, land, money, healthcare, education that they did not work for. But there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone has to pay for it, and socialists are fine with other people making sacrifices for their benefits. The problem is that socialism works against the reaping and sowing idea. Since people are selfish, if you set up a system where you reap what you did not sow, then selfish, lazy people will not work. Thus, the whole society become depressed economically, and then the government steps in and you have full blown totalitarianism communism.

On the other hand, capitalism leads to the problem of monopolies. Poor people are not granted the same opportunities that the kids of rich people have.

So, what do we do? As God's covenant people, we serve generously and sacrificially. We take trips down to Louisianna during Spring break to help muck out homes - not because the government demanded that we do so, but because it is the right and compassionate and generous thing to do. It honors God and helps people. We give our tithes and offerings to ministries dedicated to serving their communities. We pray. We hope. We encourage generosity.

If everyone worked hard to the glory of God, and gave generously and cheerfully and sacrificially, then we would not have the economic problems that we have. But everyone looks to his own interests, and not those of Jesus Christ.

God is not a capitalist. He is also not a socialist. In fact, God is not an egalitarian. God is love. God is just. God is holy. And we should be too.

On church/state, you are fine with me believing what I believe, and you are fine with taking my money to advance ideas that are directly contrary to what I believe. You are fine with this, because you do not believe what I believe. And THAT is your sin: unbelief.

Why is it that ideas about psychology (which really don't deserve to even be called scientific) are propagated on the public dime, but the gospel is not? If we define religion as a set of philosophical beliefs about life, then the government definately is religious, as are the schools.

And how do you make a judgment about the "goodness" of any given policy? You have compared the policy to some standard (namely your idea of goodness). Whether or not certain policies are "good" is a religious question. You have really determined that certain policies are in accordance with your idea of goodness - or in accordance with the religious dogma that the state pressures us to accept and respect. The "god" of the state has been "honored" and not "blasphemed," therefore, the said policy is considered "good."

But you don't use that language, because it would contradict the seperation between church and state clause. So, even though this language describes reality accurately, you stick to patronising nonsense - asserting that certain policies are "good" (a religious judgment), but that the seperation between church and state religious dogma is honored, and yet no religious dogma has been advanced.

How do you spell POSTMODERNISM?

Enjoying sex is not a sin - provided that it is done in the state of holy matrimony. Read Song of Solomon. Sex is wonderful. I, for one, am glad that God created sex.

But, like everything else that is good, pure, and right, the devil perverts it. Adultery, pornography, homosexuality - they are all perversions of sex as God intended it.

The reason why so many people are secular leftists and why so many people are anti-Christian is due to the fact that many Christians have either shied away from the subject, or have been incompetent about addressing sex issues.

Many Christians have fantastic joyful sex lives. It is good. (That's part of the reason why we're not going away). On the other hand, many non-Christians have casual joyless sex on a regular basis. They are missing out on the blessed joys of godly marriages.

But many "Christians" aren't doing that much better. Once again, the hypocrisy of the church is the reason why so many millions of people like you object to the gospel.

More later...

10:42 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"Today, I read blurbs from your last post to the students to see what their reactions would be."

Well, this is a red-letter date. My goodness. Marco's words being used in a class in a christian school. This has _got_ to be one of the signs that we're living in the end times. :).

I hope they get to hear my simile likening gays to puppies and kittens. That part was my favorite.

----------

"Selfish socialists make claims to things, land, money, healthcare, education that they did not work for. But there is no such thing as a free lunch."

Are you implying that children somehow are not working hard enough to deserve good doctors and good schools?

And what about the senior citizens, who are too old to work, whose meager retirement force them to forego much-need prescriptions?

And then what about all the people who suffer from a disease that make them unable to work?

And what about all the millions of millions of people who work full time jobs for corporations that refuse to provide healthcare. Are they too going to be forced to suffer just so we can make sure there is no free lunch?

Jesus is rolling in his grave at our lack of universal healthcare.

--

"ideas about psychology (which really don't deserve to even be called scientific)"

Oh-- ppppshaw. Psychology is pretty scientific, and getting better all the time. It's more Neuroscience than it is Freud. Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compusivity, Schiziophrenia-- these are all real diseases. Just as real as diabetes and cancer.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Jesus is rolling in his grave at our lack of universal healthcare."

No, He's not. The stone was rolled away. The tomb is empty. He is risen! He's alive and I'm forgiven! Heaven's gates are opened wide!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I think that there are differences between psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists. For years, I have been very polite to psychology majors, when deep down, I have thought, "Psychology isn't a real major; science, physics, engineering, mathematics, history, etc. Those are real."

Psychology might be considered a "real major," but this much must be said: Most psychology majors know very little about bio-chemistry. Therefore, psychologists aren't really scientists; they practice the principles of various philosophical schools of thought about human activity.

Sure, there is science involved in psychology. There are neurologists who know a lot about the brain. But, many if not most psychology majors have substituted their school of thought for the gospel. Psychology often blunts the idea of man being sinful and culpable for his thoughts and actions. But "psychology" is a scientific sounding word, so people don't dare second guess what the psychologist says.

And you can see how the lower story is dictating the terms of the upper story. The "science" of the day demands the respect that God has demanded.

And of course, now we could start talking about "learning disabilities" and ADHD. We can talk about the psychologists and psychiatrists of the day refuse to call sin what it is, and so instead they drug up kids on the authority of "psychiatry." Just give kids Ritalin; that'll fix'em. And don't you dare second guess the opinion of a shrink. He's a scientist. So, submit, and keep your fairy tales and religion upstairs in the playroom where it belongs.

Meanwhile, kids are becoming drug addicts.

And why... because science is applied naturalism. Scientists have presupposed that reality can only be what we can observe empirically. What we can't observe empirically isn't real. So, depression is therefore a chemical imbalance - not a spiritual condition.

And we have come full circle in this discussion back to evolution. Evolution must be true because there is life and there must have been natural ways that life sprang from the material in the universe. It can't be that we were created in God's image as physical and spiritual beings.

So, it is cool to use tax dollars to fund psychology - even if the particular psychological school of thought promotes heresy, but it is a crime to use tax dollars to promote the propagation of the gospel.

And the devil laughs.

But his day is coming. God is Sovereign.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

On the economy,

I'm surprised that a smart guy like yourself doesn't get it. I'm not trying to be mean when I say that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I'm merely stating what reality is.

If God decided to just rain down everything that we needed (money, food, tools, etc), then sure, let us distribute it all evenly. But, He has not done that. We reap what we sow. If some people get the medical care that they need, it will be at someone's expense. And we all need medical care. We are all going to die.

Now, I am fine with making a law that says, "You must love one another." But I'm pretty sure you are not.

Socialism discourages personal responsibility and dependence on the state. How is it that you don't see this. Life is hard. That is reality. Is the solution to encourage people to reject personal responsibility?

Also, socialism is a religion. I define religion as a set of philsophical beliefs about life. Given that, socialism is definately a religion. So, you really do believe in a kind of theocracy.

And that goes against the 1st Amendment and your treasured belief that there should be a seperation between church and state.

If you don't like my definition of religion, then the burden is on you to define religion.

Socialism is not only a religion; but it is tyrannical religion. It demands that we all pay - not merely tithes, but more than that. It demands total allegiance.

Religious demands are total, and demands can be recognized as religious because their demands are total.

Again, I'm not a capitalist. I believe in God's economics. Work hard for God. Share with those in need generously and sacrificially.

12:34 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

On "'Jesus is rolling in his grave at our lack of universal healthcare.' No, He's not."

Haha-- see, that's why I love that phrase so much. It seems harmless enough at first, but when you read it, you realize it's contradicting the Gospels.

Personally, I never understood why they decided to have his body be gone. If I wrote it, I would have had his body die normally, but his spirit appear to people. I can only guess it's because they hadn't decided on the whole "nonphysical spirit in a physical body" thing yet-- if you look at Judgement Day interpretations from those times, they still expected people would be bodily raised from the dead, and that people whose bodies were mutilated might not be able to raise up when the world ended.

But the new testament authors really hate that notion of the immaterial spirit. They even go so far as to have people feel bloody wounds to prove he's really got a body.

To me, coming back to life after being crucified isn't that amazing. After Lazarus, it's positively anti-climactic.

--

Of course, this week my favorite heretical quote is one I stole from The Simpsons. The whole family is looking up at a beautiful night sky, and one of the characters comments,"I wish God were alive to see this."

See-- that's doubly good cause you have to know about Nietzsche.
--

"Psychology isn't a real major"

See-- my thought is that Business Majors aren't real majors. (Sorry to any that are reading! :) ) And I'll tell you why.

It's just plain cheating. It's like looking at the answers before you have the test. Everyone else in college is off studying things they're passionate about, things that inspire them, things that will in no way help prepare them for life after college. Meanwhile, the business majors spend for years learning how to get jobs.

Well, when it comes time to get jobs, oh sure, the business majors are all employable. Hey, if I spent four years memorizing the correct answers for the SATs, I think I'd do alot better on them than someone who spent four years studying French Post-Impressionism. But I'd still be a no good cheater. :) :) :)

Besides-- Business Majors miss out on so much of the college experience. Important parts like, having your friend adn family and neighbors and houseguests and fellow airtravelers and small children ask you,"You majored in Art? What in the world are you going to do with THAT after you graduate?"

These are important experiences. They teach us strong moral values, like how to resist slapping someone who makes a joke about how unemployable our major is, each one thinking he's the first to notice it, when really, we've heard it ten thousand times.

(Strictly speaking, I studied Neuroscience, Computers, and Math.. So, I didn't get the full college experience either. But, at least I have no idea how to do rudimentary accounting-- and how many business majors can say THAT?)

"Most psychology majors know very little about bio-chemistry."

At the school I went to, Psychology Majors knew neurotransmitters and brain anatomy a lot better than they knew Freud and Jung. But my school was special in this respect.

But remember-- psychology majors aren't psychologists. Most go on to business, K-12 teaching, etc. Psychologists and Psychiatrists are a totally different breed, and have a lot lot lot _lot_ more training than a mere psych major.

Psychiatrists are 100% science. They're all about brains and drugs. They're MDs, after all.

Research Psychologists are 100% scientists. Psych journals these days are all brains and chemicals and verifiable experiments.

Clinical Psychologists... well, they're still a little fuzzy, but.. getting better all the times.

"Now we could start talking about 'learning disabilities' and ADHD."

Oh, yeah, those crazy West Coast secular liberals and their fictional diseases. Crazy made up diseases like "Dyslexia" and "Autism" and "Tourettes Syndrome" and "Attention Deficit Disorder"

Bah! I say. They're real diseases. They have brainscans, and EEGs, and genetic components and everything!

Here's what ADHD looks like. Decreased left frontal lobe activity.
http://www.akidjustlikeme.com/1cbd9520.png
-------
"I'm not trying to be mean when I say that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I'm merely stating what reality is. "

Achoo! Of course there are. Why of the 10 richest people in the world, at least five of them have never had to work a day in their life, and i'm not positive about the others.

There are 8.2 MILLION people with more than a million dollars-- and every one of their kids will be getting a free lunch for life.
...

Yes, yes, socialism is an evil totalitarian religion. Stalin, Mao--- not nice fellows.

But let me ask you-- you believe in taxes, yes? Do you believe that the state should pay to have nice orphanages for children orphanages-- I think even a theo-anarchist like you would be aghast at the notion of Dickensian waifs roaming the streets begging and pickpocketing.

So if you believe that we should tax the rich to support the parentless children, is it really so hard a leap to image we might also be justified in providing healthcare for children whose living parents are, for whatever reason, totally unable to prove it?

In the end, every child that goes to a doctor is getting a free lunch. The only question is who pays for it. Someone directly genetically related to them, or someone distantly genetically related to them. It's hard to imagine how one is okay, but the other is communism.



It just seems really indefensible to be rapidly against abortion on the one hand, but fight tooth and nail to make sure that same child can't get medical care the instant after he's born.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

I'll embrace socialism when it is truly Christian socialism. Just as you have no problem taking my money to advance your causes, I have no problem taking yours to advance God's causes.

Why is it okay for you to take my money, but its not okay for me to take yours?

Answer: It is not, but it happens because we live in a democratic society where the majority of people do not have a Biblical worldview.

For all your distrust of the government, you certainly seem to trust the government a lot. If you were running the show, I have no doubt that you would raise taxes astronomically.

Your religion is socialism. And you are demanding that I not only pay my tithes, but that I give way above and beyond that.

Well, sir, I demand that you start supporting Christian education. We'll start out small. Give 5% of your income to a good evangelical fundamnetalist Christian school.

See, my problem is this: You have the IRS sponsoring your religion. I don't.

The First Amendment is patronizing nonsense.

You would balk at the idea of being forced to support Christian education with your tax dollars, yet you have no qualms with demanding that I support the despicable public school system with my tax dollars.

And before you start talking about how great the First Amendment is again - ever - define religion.

The biggest problems with society are not economic problems. The biggest problems are spiritual problems. The solution is the gospel, not socialism.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

We just debated capitalism and socialism in Debate class today. Most of the kids think that we should have a society that is somewhere between capitalism and socialism - some think we should lean more toward capitalism and some that we should lean more toward socialism. We also discussed taxes, and the vast majority of the class believes in a flat tax rate (where everyone pays equal percentages). They think it is crazy that rich people have to pay nearly 1/2 their salary, while poor people only need to pay about 10% of their salary. I told them about your proposal that we pay up to 75% of our money in taxes for the sake of public education. They were appalled.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

We should team up and write a book. I bet it would sell pretty good, and then the whole world can see an intelligent debate about significant issues - rather than one of those stupid debates between partisan politicians.

We certainly have enough material to do it. Simply on what we've done already, we can do a lot of copying and pasting and editing. Then we just need to find a way to get published.

What say you? (I'm actually quasi-serious about this).

4:22 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"you have no problem taking my money to advance your causes"

Well, strictly speaking, if you make anything comparable to what every other teacher makes (i.e. less than they deserve), my New World Order wouldn't be taking any of your money-- you would get more money than you do now.

"You would balk at the idea of being forced to support Christian education with your tax dollars,"

Balderdash! I have no problem with tax dollars supporting christian education. My only objection is that all to often, people want school vouchers so their children help go to expensive private schools, but refuse to fund the public schools sufficiently.

If we allowed vouchers without ALSO increasing the budgets for the public school, what would happen is that all the money would flow immediately to private schools, and the public schools, underfunded as they are, would get practically no money. The poorest kids, unable to afford any private school, would be forced to go to these unsafe, impovershed, crumbling schools. I have no problem with christian schools being funded with tax dollars, so long as you accept the right of everyone to have a high-quality education. I just don't want the poor kids to be the ones left without a chair when the music stops.


"And before you start talking about how great the First Amendment is again - ever - define religion."

haha. Well, you know it's against my religion to define things. I don't define, I point. Rant #67. But, just for you, I'll mention that one of the "defining qualities" of religion is its assertions of facts that can not be prove, even in principle. Religion requires faith, not evidence.

Now, it's true, no matter what belief system you choose to live by, there are going to be some things that you have to accept as axioms. You might rightly point out that science itself has certain unprovable assumptions-- things like "the world exists" and "observations are repeatable" and the like. You can similarly point out that concepts of justice have their own axioms. For me, two of the big ones are "You should not hurt someone else." and "If you are not hurting anyone else, you should be free to do anything you want".

"So," I can already hear you asking,"Isn't society violating the first amendment prohibition of promoting religion by even having a court system or funding science education?"

Well, no, I'd say, for two reasons.

One: The fundamental axioms underlying the justice system and science, are so fundamental that almost every human being on the planet agrees with them. "Don't murder your neighbor" for example, appears to be something almost every agrees with. "The World Exists" is something so fundamental to human thinking that people generally need to take a course in philosophy in order to even realize that it's debatable. The axioms underlying justice and science are very natural, very universal, and very much agreed upon (though certainl not 100%). No one ever had to teach us these axioms-- most people appear to be born with them.

In contrast, the things held on faith by say, Dispensationalist-Anabaptist Mennonites, are very "un-natural", by which I just mean, very few humans through history have ever come to believe these things. No one ever became a Christian naturally-- they had to be taught the articles of faith by a person or a book.

If I say I believe "You shouldn't murder your neighbor", it seems pretty obvious to everyone. Technically,, it may indeed be an "Article of Faith",. If you say "There are three gods, one of them used to be a human, but they're all really the same god. And this can't be proven, you must accept it through Faith". Well, it certainly may be true, it's hardly a natural axiom. I could have spent my whole life and I don't think that particular axiom would EVER have popped into my head unless someone told it to me.

Lastly-- there's a difference between being informed by axioms and promoting them. We have to have some kind of rules, and humans are going to turn to their beliefs in deciding what sorts of rules they should be. But, there's a difference between that and promoting those beliefs.

So, for example, by even HAVING public schools, our society expressing certain beliefs about a universal right to education. This is very differenn, though, than subjecting children in those schools to lectures about how they should respect a universal right to education.

In having a federal Department of Education, our society is expressing certain ideas about federalism. This is different than requiring that all children who attend public schools must recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning as a condition of enrollment.


---

"We just debated capitalism and socialism in Debate class today."

Ahh, but you know that opinions are notoriously sensitive to how you phrase the question. The first approximation of justice is equality. So if you phrase the question "Should rich have to pay a higher tax rate than the poor?" the answer might well be no.

But if you ask "Should someone have to go to a special poorly-funded school because their ancestors came from Africa?" eveyone will agree no. If you then ask "Should someone have to go to a special poorly-funded school because their ancestors were rich?" people are going to be more likely to say no.

If you add in "Should someone get better medical treatment just because they're rich?" or "Should someone not be able to go to a doctor because they're poor", well.. it's a lot harder to say yes.

Using the word "Socialism" is a bit of a trick too, ever since all the totalitarian dictatorships started stealing the word to justify they're distinctly non-socialist tyranny.

"If you were running the show, I have no doubt that you would raise taxes astronomically. "

This is where being a pseudo-libetarian is so problematic. I can harp all I want, but I can't actually change anything without some kind of a mandate from the masses.

--

"We should team up and write a book"

Ha! :) If you can find anyone willing to publish rantings from a lunatic like me, you certainly have my enthuasiatic endorsement. It's too bad the title "The Professor and the Madman" is already taken.

:)

11:06 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

On defining words:

"Well, you know it's against my religion to define things. I don't define, I point. Rant #67."

The only way you have a chance at beating me in this debate is by refusing to define terms. But, anyone with any sense sees that by refusing to define terms, you have come dangerously close to postmodernism.

See, I believe that words have real meanings. Words are used to describe truth, reality, beauty, goodness, and justice. To establish a separation between religion and state as one of the most important tenets of the American Civil Religion (which already puts the American Civil Religion in the realm of nonsense and postmodernism), and then refuse to define the word "religion," is unacceptable - and infuriating. Yet, by refusing to define religion, the godless secularists have maintained power in this country.

What is so pathetic is that more Christians don't see through this. Many Christians are just dumb. And, sad to say, in many cases, the clergy encourages an anti-intellectual, blind faith. That is the reason why your side is currently winning the power struggle in this country.

But God is Sovereign.

10:27 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"The only way you have a chance at beating me in this debate is by refusing to define terms."

It's not a debating tactic per se--- it's just that true definitions that everyone can agree one are almost impossible to come by. Anyone can have a definition, but invariably, anyone else can dispute it, pick holes in it. Just look at all the trouble we've had definite exactly what a "planet" is. Is it based on size? type of orbit? geological composition? what?

I can't even define what a planet is , or what precise attributes make a planet a planet. How can I possibly hope to define justice.


"See, I believe that words have real meanings."

I couldn't disagree more. Words are random (or semi-random) sounds that have meaning only through consensus. In many cases, the same word manys different things to different people-- how than can a word have one true "real meaning"?


"anyone with any sense sees that by refusing to define terms, you have come dangerously close to postmodernism."

Well, this just shows that you know me. :) Hey, when you've got me, you've got me. I'm not a genuine post-modernist, but I do live my life "dangerously close to Postmodernism". I'm a delicious study of the results of logic and reason untempered by faith. It may , in the end, be true, it may in the end be enlightened, but it is certainly not pleasant, and I would not recommend it to anyone.

"Dangerously close to Postmodernism" is an excellent descriptor for me. Perhaps it should be my epitaph-- or the subtitle of an autobiography.

2:12 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,
In that case, I doubt very much that I will ever be able to convince you through argumentation (not that I would stop this debate - I'm loving it).
But in order to reach you, I recommend (in addition to continued reading of the Bible) Lewis Agonistes - by Markos Louis. In it, Mr. Louis reflects on the lessons we can learn from C.S. Lewis - combining logic with the arts in order to contend for the faith successfully with a postmodern world. He contends that Christians should embrace the slippery slope of language - and use poetry to describe the glory of God. He examines the themes of the Chronicles of Narnia - as well as C.S. Lewis' other philosophical books.

At the end of the day, the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.

There is mystical and poetic and artistic dimension to the gospel and to the Bible. Putting everything into strictly logical and legal language (as many post-Enlightenment Christians tend to do and as I myself too often do) diminishes the beauty of the Word.

In other words, if Christians would redeem the arts and really show postmodernists beauty (rather than assert that beauty is an absolute), then I believe we would get the attention of many people. If Christians stopped insisting that goodness was an absolute, but showed people goodness, that would speak volumes.

But back to education, if the government starts funding private schools, that is dangerously close to fascism. Also, it gives the government the upper hand of authority. Once again, you seem to put a lot of trust in the government. No doubt, the government would give more money to the schools that are fulfilling what they see as good. Since you are no doubt against the idea of defining education, then the schools that would be awarded the most money would be chosen according to the discretion of the powers that be.

So then, Christian schools would have to conform to the government's ideas, or they would not receive funding.

For this reason, the ACCS (Association of Classical Christian Schools), as a matter of policy, do not accept any funds from the government - including vouchers. He who takes the king's coin, becomes the king's man.

6:41 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Christianity definitely needs a very different approach if they're genuinely trying to entice non-believers. Every once in a while, I attend, for the sake of family, some sort of christian event done in celebration of an individual family member-- this week I went to a graduation for example.

The organizers doubtless intended it as a opportunity for prostelyization. But the effect it has on a non-christian one of alienation and repulsion. Clearly, the christians in the room were enjoying themselves, but the non-christians in the room were growing in their distaste for the religion. The experience was very much like being a Jew and finding yourself attending a Nazi party rally; or being a christian attending a satanic mass.

Obviously, perhaps it's simply explainable by the fact that the event wasn't meant for me, it was mean for the Christians. I am a guest at their event, they clearly are entitled to observe their events according to their own desires.

But moreover, it feels like there's this notion that you can (and should) PUSH religion onto people. That if you state the same things over and over, loudly enough, with enough force, you can just MAKE people believe it. There's a latent violence underlying so much Christian prostelization.

---

I probably don't trust government as much as you think-- the most essential thing of a bill of rights are they a government cannot touch certain things-- most notably the freedom of thought and the freedom to share thoughts, i.e. speech, press, assembly. This is a very radical concept, and it is why America led the world for as long as it did.

Very few organizations are committed to recognizing this freedom. I see it attacked from every political side, from every group, all the time. Liberals want to make "hate speech" illegal. Christians want heresy to be illegal. Nationalists want flag-burning speech to be illegal. Practically everyone wants racism to be illegal. Capitalists want communist thoughts to be illegal. Corporations want reading a book, listening to music, or watching film to be illegal unless they give you permission each time.

--

Do I trust the government? It depends. But when it comes to capitalize, it's easy for me to trust government, because capitalism is so openly untrustworthy.

Capitalism _IS_ trying to be the biggest exploiter possible. It is a system built on greed. It exists exclusively to reward the biggest and most efficient exploiters of other people. Like biological evolution, we have set up a system that virtually guarantees that the businesses in our community will be those that exploit their employees more than any others. Businesses that give their employees healthcare will be bankrupted by those that do not. Business that have moral qualms will lose to those that have none. Businesses that have a place for Christ, Christianity, or any other ethical systems will go extinct as businesses that will do anything to profit flurish.

Capitalism just happens to be the way we do things. Capitalism is in no way natural-- no more so than slavery. If six people lived on a deserted island, and one of them insisted that he other five become his slaves and do whatever he say while he reaps the fruits of all their labor, we would it immediately as an evil system. No matter how you swing it, it's wrong if the person at the top ends up with more than everyone else COMBINED.

But when you add 5 billion people to the island, we can't see the evil anymore. WE somehow think the person as the top has some innate right to be in that position-- just as the royalty of Europe used to insist they had the god-given right to rule.

Capitalism is an evil system. Built on greed and exploitation. It makes slaves out of most of the populace.

Captialism's only defense is that it requires a good deal less thought than any other system. It is self-organizing. Money is an automatic way for people to vote on what they want, and an automatic accounting system to tabulate supply and demand. It is very efficent. It has a much longer history of functioning than any other system of doing things. Capitalism doesn't require any one person to 'figure it all out'.

So, I'm hesitant to suggest a sweeping change in favor of an utterly new experiment-- a total abolution of money or something like that.
---

But there is no RIGHT to be filthy rich. A billionaire has his money because he figured out a way to take it from all his employees and his customers-- he himself did little or no of the work. If we can figure out some way to take it all BACK from him, to stop sending every last penny of our resources to the aristocracy-- by all means, we should do it.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"That if you state the same things over and over, loudly enough, with enough force, you can just MAKE people believe it."

We certainly can put pressure on people to think, act, and believe a certain way. But, it is pretty tough to make people believe.

Here is how I see it. If I heard someone make a racist joke, I would confront the person. I don't care what he believes. Christian or not, whether he thinks racism is okay or not, I would let him know clearly that racism is wrong, and he should not be racist. By doing so, would I be "pushing" my belief? You bet! And without shame. This is what people with convictions do.

Now, racism is only one issue. I do the same thing when I hear people slander God by their unbelief. When I hear people make comments that have no faith attached to it, the Holy Spirit stirs inside of me, and I am compelled to preach and to insist that this will not stand.

Now, will the people be receptive? Will the racist that I confront be receptive?

These are the questions for the liberals to ponder.

Our inability to get righteously indignant at sin reveals the depth of our depravity.

Too many Christians have surrendered their authority; they have quit contending for the faith. Their silence is their biggest sin.

What you don't realize is that every word that comes out of your mouth that is not of faith is a slanderous comment against God. No doubt, you do not realize this to be the case. But it is.

Now, I do pray that I would have plenty of joy, grace, love, and mercy mixed in with righteous indignation. It is after all the kindness of God which leads us toward repentance.

Make no mistake; the gospel is a command. You have been commanded to believe God. Do not disobey.

When Christians stop contending for the truth of God, then ungodly people start contending for ungodly ideas, and error becomes believed and exalted.

Make no mistake. Words are powerful. With our words, we can tear down, and with our words we can build up. I believe, as a Christian, that I have the calling to tear people down, in order to establish a new foundation on Christ, and then to build them up.

In reality, almost everyone pushes their particular worldview. The differences between myself and others are one - that I believe the gospel, and two - I am upfront about what I am doing.

12:24 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

See, that's very interesting, because if I overheard two racists telling a racist joke, I wouldn't not interfere. They have experienced a whole life that led them to the moment where they're making that joke-- I have not experienced their life. My words would not dissuade them from their beliefs, only harden their hearts.

When I was at the graduation, and I listened a marine colonel droned on and on about our christian duty support the War on Terror (despite its use of murder, torture, unconstitutionality, and general incompetence), I could have stood up and interrupted him and said any number of things (many excellent heckles came to my mind-- including simply giving him a proud Nazi heil at the end of his remarks). I could have acted on my convictions.

But to what end? it would only have been rudeness and further politicizing a celebration of the graduates that was already over-politicized. The people in the audience who agree with me would still agree with me, the people in the audience who disagree with me would still disagree with me.

Your suggested rule of "force your beliefs onto others if and only if God is on your side" is no help here, for everyone believes God is on their side. Even I believe that if the Christian God does exist, he is probably siding with me over most christians.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Mikeypea said...

I know I'm coming to this post late. Not sure if anyone is still reading, but...If we are going to talk about God and religion in scientific terms, it seems to me that we have to know what sort of material God is made of. And if God is not made up of anything, that how can we talk about this subject scientifically. Also, if God exists, and if all things that exist must have a creator (according to intelligent design), then could someone please tell me who created God? And could someone please tell me who created the thing that created God. We could go on forever here. I'm really not trying to be clever here. I'm just wondering how you try to make scientific sense of God!?!

11:02 PM  

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