[DISCUSS] Happy Medium: The Universe as God

I was lying awake the other night, listening to myself breathing and waiting for the weight of my eyelids to send me off into the black abyss of sleep. I started to observe the nature of what constitutes breathing, the constant of in-and-out, the expansion and contraction of the lungs to circulate oxygen to the body. This little observation of myself led to my brain having a spark that bolted me back up and awake. The below is my attempt to get this spark into words.

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You see, the expanding and contracting of my alveoli in my lungs is no different, on the most basic scale, as the expanding of the universe since the Big Bang, and the contraction of the universe, in time, back to the center of itself. Yes, this suggests a beginning (the initial expansion) and end (the final contraction back to one single point of existence) to the universe, but what if that is only one breath? Why can the universe not continue breathing after it collapses? And what are we to think of what is outside that expanding and contracting world, a place beyond where we can observe?

We have not, and may never, come to a point where we can observe that which is beyond the borders of the universe. So who’s to say that out there, outside our universe, it just a huge collection of other universes, expanding and contracting in little balls, like our own alveoli? What if our world, our universe, is just a little sac of in-and-out within the body of the vaster world? And what if, by the end, all our universes are just a little part of the body of another vast being? Alternatively, what if the universe is the infinite, eternal entity which we assume god to be? What if the universe, and all aspects within it, are all god itself – tiny particles that make up the infinity of god?

(Keep in mind that these initial thoughts were from an extremely sleep-deprived mind bolt upright in bed, writing to the light of her cellphone under the covers so as not to wake up her roommate.)

Not this Big Bang Theory. XD

Not this Big Bang Theory. XD

Let’s back this train up a bit, and go back to the idea that the universe simply expands and contracts, and how those two observations can bring us to a concept of god. We know that the universe is in the process of doing this at least once, and that process began with the Big Bang (in theory). The idea of the Big Bang is that all matter in the universe was compacted into one point in space, and that this point ‘banged’ outward, expanding, and projecting all the essence of the universe out into it. These projecting essences became elements, stars, planets, and eventually settled into just the right pattern on just the right planet to cause a sequence of events which led to life as we know it. A very unlikely and statistically mad suggestion that this just ‘happened,’ yes? Well, that doesn’t necessarily mean that such a situation is impossible.

Look at it as the infinite monkey theorem. This theorem suggests that if you put a monkey in a room with a typewriter, put the monkey in the position to type on that typewriter, and give the monkey an infinite amount of time, at some point, the monkey’s actions toward the typewriter will almost surely result in the monkey typing out a specific body of known text, such as the works of Shakespeare. Now, despite the unlikelihood of this actually happening, such as the need for there to be a set of impossible conditions on the monkey and the typewriter (the monkey would need to be immortal, the typewriter would need to hold infinite amounts of paper to record the typing of the monkey, etc.), the specific emphasis on the infinite time and conditions for this example allow for the theorem to be true. The most important aspect of this theorem is the use of the term ‘almost surely.’ Statistically speaking, when dealing with the infinite situation of the example, the longer the string of typing continues, and the farther into infinity it continues, the closer the probability that the string will become a coherent text gets closer and closer to a probability of 1, or the more and more likely the string of typing will become coherent text.

[WARNING! WARNING! I’m about to attempt to talk in science! I have no idea how the following speculations hold up to the most popular universal theories of our time. I’m doing the best I can given my lack of ability to sort what little sources I understand, and am relying partially on my own studies in the past few hours and on my fiance’s incredible understanding to piece this together. I recognize there are other theories which thwart my speculations below, however as they are all merely theories, I hold to these first. If you consider another theory more viable, please include it in the comments below. Thank you!]

According to the rules of energy consumption and release which we come to hold true (at least the way I understand them), energy, like matter, is not necessarily created and/or destroyed, it is essentially constant. It can, however, be released in a state which is useless, due to a lack of force to initiate it back into use. In this, the Big Bang is not a proven one-time thing, but also is not a proven infinite occurrence. Because energy continually exists, but in different states, some of which are not in a useful state at the point of the final contraction of the universe back to a single point in space, the recurring explosive expansion of the universe has a different level of kinetic energy in that expansion each time it bouncing_ball_animation_by_khawlaalali-d546k12happens. This has been explained to me as similar to a bouncing ball, where some energy is lost in each bounce due to different minute conditions surrounding the force impact of the ball to where it is bouncing off of, losing the ball’s momentum, and eventually allowing the ball to come to rest.

There’s a lot more detailed aspects to this expansion and contraction which can’t be explained to me, and some details which I do understand which (if proven true and not just theory) would eliminate my theory, but on the basic level, here is what I see. Energy and matter are eternal. The universe in which we are confined to is made up of matter, energy, and empty space. There is the possibility that some energy is lost to a realm beyond the universe, if the universe has an observable edge which can be traversed by energy, but this not a confirmed truth, only a theory developed upon observations and calculations. In other words, we have not actually encountered the edge of the universe, and the calculations which suggest an edge are not completely proved as of yet.

Let’s say that this is impossible, that the edge of the universe, our universe, is not escapable. This would cause all energy and matter in the universe to be bound within it, that the farthest reach that matter and energy can get to is the final border of the universe, and all things from that farthest border inward are held to the ‘core’ of the universe, the center where the Big Bang takes place. If energy continually exists, but merely changes state, on the most basic level from potential to kinetic and back again, and is eternally bound to the central point of the universe, then this loop of expanding and contracting (although the expansion may be of a greater or lesser extent each time, depending upon how much energy is in a state which allows kinetic release at the time of initial expansion), and therefore the universe itself would remain eternal.

SO! 1) The universe is eternal, always expanding and contracting, and 2) it is impossible for anything within the universe to ever get out of the universe. To point one, by applying the infinite monkey theorem from before (HA! You thought I had forgotten about it, didn’t you?!) we can say that it is statistically possible and, technically, definite that, eventually, in the expanse of infinite eternity, within one of the expansions of the universe, life will come without an intelligent designer. In other words, god is not needed for life to exist. Point 2, however, establishes an argument for the opposite. How? Well, if the universe cannot be observed externally, then there are aspects of the universe which cannot be confirmed. The nature of the universe outside of itself can never be fully known by man, no matter how probable the calculations to suggest otherwise. In this, it is possible that there is an entity outside of the boundary of the universe, conducting all things within it. It is also possible that the universe itself is conscious outside of itself, working beyond the boundary of its ‘skin’ to create us within it.

Basically, it is scientifically possible that we exist here by chance, but it is also scientifically possible that a creator exists beyond our realm of scientific observation. It is also possible that the universe itself, and all things within it, are that creator. Hence why I stick to, “None of you can universally prove god exists or doesn’t exist, so believe what you want and we’ll all find out when we’re dead, one of the only proven definites of human reality.

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And now my brain hurts too much, and this fever I’ve been rocking all day is not helping things. Discuss below! Cheers all!

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149 thoughts on “[DISCUSS] Happy Medium: The Universe as God

  1. The universe is expanding and accelerating. This is the problem with the Brahma’s breathing model you are describing (supposedly every 400,000 + some odd number of years if my fading memory serves me).

    It’s also important to appreciate that Nothing (in spacetime) is not an absence of everything but intersecting and interacting fields. I still haven’t wrapped my little brain around what all these mean (I ain’t no stinkin’ physicist, to paraphrase a famous Hollywood bandit) and have no clue how it all relates to entanglement and all that quantum jazz, other than to appreciate that gaining some idea of how the universe operates is accessible through the scientific method; the trick is learning how to ask the right questions, and I struggle with that all the time. All I try to do is not jump to conclusions to fit my preconceived notions but stay within what we know and how we can know more with confidence.

    As for god, well, I think the universe is plenty interesting and awesome enough without bringing in notions that add more complexity further removed from our ability and discipline and hard work to know. God has never, is not, and shall never be an explanation any of us can wrap our heads around about this universe and all it contains (or it would have produced some iota of knowledge by this time and it hasn’t). God is always either a diversion (allowing us to think we know something we don’t) or a delusion (allowing us to believe we have special access to knowledge that isn’t demonstrable and forgetting that this means it isn’t justified).

    • Thanks for the feedback! I actually didn’t base my universe model off of a religious perspective, but scientific. The model described is mostly influenced by the cyclic model, which focuses on the Big Bang and Big Chrunch (the final collapse of the universe into the originating center point) being an eternal cycle of expansion and contraction. Calculations suggest that, if there are particles in the universe which can absorb and neutralize the heat factor generated by the Bang and Crunch (known in quantum physics as branes), this expansion and contraction can go on infinitely.

      And I agree that the perception of ‘nothing’ is quite difficult for man to grasp, and certainly is not necessarily the absence of anything or everything which we may assume. I look at nothing, under the premises of the post, as space which has potential to be used. The space around the expansion of the universe may not have ‘things’ in it now, but it has the potential to hold anything at any time. And since it is space, and so has no comprehension of space or time, could be holding anything at any time.

      My whole point of the post above is simply to pose an ultimatum of possibility which, while neither confirming nor denying either side, allows both the concept of god and the concept of life by chance to co-exist. In the model above, during one expansion cycle, life could develop independently according to the infinite monkey theorem, but in another expansion cycle, a conscious entity outside of the universe may insight life. You are absolutely right to say that, as humans, we will never know. Or at least we won’t know until we’re dead. Underneath the whole post, I’m really looking at things philosophically, and simply referencing the theories of science to establish a starting point. It’s pure personal speculation on the possibilities left to us when we have so many scientific questions left unanswered. 🙂

  2. I’d try to reply to the science of this first. There is a lot of possibilities and a lot of unknowns or partly unknowns involved. The scientific conclusion is, so far, that science probably will not discover proof of God or of there being no God. Additionally, we don’t have any evidence of that consciousness continues for each of us after death. In fact, the only evidence that we do have for continuation of consciousness comes from 1) people that had a near death experience and they report similarities but the reports differ fairly widely 2) people that communicate with disembodied spirits and their reports differ fairly widely as well, and 3) people that channel energy that they report comes from sources of descriptions that also fairly widely differ.
    I do similar to what you describe here often. I often wonder if ever I’ll have my understanding sharpened enough to want to write it down. I just do it for amusement though. Its a fun activity for me. It gets the cob webs out. I do it also because it seems to expand my ability to connect with and sense and experience positive emotion. It seems necessary. Positive thought is more likely when feelings are positive and thus emotional state is positive and thinking become more so positive.
    Anyway, I didn’t really say much of anything, it felt good to say something though.
    If you write more about this, I probably will read it.
    ~ Eric

    • I suspect the irony is lost on the person who uses the handle Hunt For Truth to then turn to Deepak Chopra, woo-meister extraordinaire, to tell us what the Great Wisdom Traditions (aka convenient religious ideas blended with Eastern meditation/relaxation techniques) tell us: that we are part of a universal mind. Chopra uses a dualistic model for his woo (nothing to see here folks, don’t question, just keep moving), as if ‘we’ are separate and distinct from our corporeal bodies… including the brain. Buying into this notion is essential for the woo to begin to work, to hear phrases like “We are not our thoughts; we are the thinker of our thoughts. Where do we go between our thoughts?” See? There’s your compelling evidence for access to the universal mind Deepak now calls god. It’s a sales job to make you feel good and Deepak money and fame and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with finding anything related to ‘truth’.

      • Tileb,

        Well said! Have you seen the, oh lets call it a “debate” between Deepak and Richard Dawkins? I’ve only listened to it once and perhaps might listen to it again. I really tried my best when Deepak spoke, but it just didn’t work for me. Almost everything he said was complete babble and nonsense and gibberish. At one point, he actually said that individual atoms have conciousness! What’s even more amazing, is that some people actually think that he knows what he’s talking about an that they “understand” him. Richard Dawkins called him on it, calling what he said a “word salad”. Immediately Deepak says he’s using the logical fallacy of the “ad hominem” (which goes to show that he doesn’t even know what that logical fallacy even means) and then asks members of the audience if they understand him. Unfortunately there will never be a short supply of credulous fools who’ll listen and be only too happy to be fleeced by a fraud like that.

        • Yes, and I especially like the one with Harris and Shermer and physicist from the audience who told Deepak that he understood what the words meant but not the meaning Deepak wanted to use them for (hence the word salad using sciencey sounding terms to sell woo). But these days, if you dare to criticize the repeated linguistic abuse Chopra performs in support of his woo publicly, then you instantly become a militant skeptic! (Sound familiar?) And yes, there is a large segment of the population who simply do not exercise the tools of critical thinking well and so remain credulous and gullible and vulnerable to buying into this kind of fluff.

          • A militant skeptic? No, never heard of that one before. LOL. This is the game that purveyors of bullshit like to play – be purveyors of pseudo scientific garbage like Choprah or purveyors of religious garbage like Jimmy Swaggart. To dare to just criticise what they say or even ask for evidience or proof of their outrageous claims constitiutes an attack on free speech or being an angry atheist or being close-minded or whatever term they want to come up (which are never in short supply). I don’t know if you’ve watched the video “The four horsemen” with Dennett, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens but Dennett talks about this at the very beginning of the video. He’s noted that the biggest critics of his books are people who aren’t religious but are “terrrrrribly afraid!” of offending people who are religious. Society has become more preoccupied with being politically correct and not hurting anyones feeling or offending anyone than they are about what’s true. You can’t call someone a fraud or a liar even if that’s what they are. You can’t even suggest that someone may not know what the hell they’re talking about. This is the reason why frauds like Choprah and Swaggart thrive. “Oh look at those big bad “militiant” skeptics (atheists, whatever). They’re being so mean to me! Tell them to stop!!!”. More and more people are accepting that. Being truthful is not as important as being respectful apparently. It’s gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.

            • What we in the West experience is trivial in comparison the price being paid by those in the muslim world convicted of harming the sentiments of the muslim community! Under this banner, people are sentenced to banishment, long periods of incarceration, and often put to death in public executions! After all, we are supposed to go along with the idea that a group’s sentiments about faith-based beliefs is far more important to respect than the human rights, freedom, and dignity of personhood we afford to real people in real life.

              *sigh*

              Yes, I have long criticized the practice far too many otherwise reasonable people actively support that the person who points out some nefarious deed is held to be far more nefarious for doing so than the person doing the nefarious deed and the deed itself! Such political correctness is as ubiquitous as it is disappointing and it’s an ally only of tyranny and intolerance. But it is polite.

              Standing up against and acting contrary to such ‘politeness’ is held to be contemptible but for anyone who has spent time in a muslim theocracy, apartheid South Africa, or stood on the site of organized mass murder, one realizes that the principle of standing up and speaking out against such tyrannies that commit such atrocities against real people is demanded from those who have accepted the torch from failing hands (to paraphrase my countryman John McCrae’s famous poem). I feel we who are enlightened about why human dignity matters for all people have an obligation to at least speak up and speak out against those who would stymy this advancement for reasons far less dignified and far less reasonable. Being polite isn’t reason enough to accept the degradation of others as a necessary cost. In fact, I think it is a capitulation of principle in favor of dangerous pragmatism.

              • Tildeb,

                You raise a very good point about the middle east. I’ve brought that up with my agnostic brother when I am trying to make a point about how religion can and does make people say and do evil, wicked, hateful things. I usually get a “don’t worry, that can’t happen here in Canada” response. Even if that’s the case (which is not necessarily true) it still doesn’t change the fact that most countries in the middle east are gigantic, ignorant, hate-filled shitholes and the reason they are that way is because of Islam.

              • Well, if you ever want to annoy your brother (as I have certainly done to mine), describe agnosticism as nothing more than a fancy word to describe a coward’s atheism, a means for those without the intellectual integrity to honestly compare apples with apples (belief versus non belief rather than the agnostic sleight of hand to compare belief versus knowledge) in order to try to feel superior to both believers and non believers. Good times will ensue! (Okay, so I was written out the will… a small price to pay for doing my best, but I enjoyed it!)

                There is much about the Middle East I actually think very highly of… especially the very deep bonds of family and the social rules of hosting, the exuberance of emotional outpouring, the beauty of the people and their resiliency, their ancient cultures and remarkable achievements in science and technology, as well as deep regret for how pernicious the effects of islam are on people trying to gain the benefits of enlightenment without embracing its values of individual autonomy. There is no doubt in my mind that the tenets of islam that define a good muslim are incompatible with the values necessary for achieving western secular liberal democracies. This damns people into remaining chained to tyrannies – both theological and political – and this legal requirement to remain so will cause untold suffering to future generations unwilling and unable to join humanity’s progress into the twenty-second century. Canada is such a shining example of how diverse people can come together and live in peace and prosperity… as long as they they are willing to uphold and defend individual legal autonomy against the forces arrayed against taking it away.

      • If the mind may cooperate, then the heart may seek the wisdom. What you advocate is keep moving. Where are you directing everyone to go? Is it a destination? Are you presenting a compelling evidence?
        If someone wants to bring about stillness and restful sleep what is wrong with concentration on breathing and on the gap between thoughts?
        Why should anyone want what I do in my relaxation unless it may be helpful to them? The sort of meditation from the video is helpful to thousands that watch it and allow themselves to relax. It was free on youtube.
        I’ve not charged anything nor asked for money.
        My pages offer only methods for self-improvement, contemplation, and occasionally widely accepted scientific information.
        I’m not selling my blog, spreading lies, ignoring contrasting views, nor bullying.
        My truth is unique to me. We all observe what we record by input of our senses as these are directed by our beliefs and subconscious automatic and conditioned brain-bodies.
        I see healing and lightness of being; someone else see woo-woo. These are not two extremes of personal observation and measurement that eliminate each other from the realm of possible experiences.
        If you are peacefully happy, I am happy for you and I am at peace with you. If you are disturbed, look inward at its source – it will be found in your brain-body to be from you, not I.

        ~ Eric

        • The kind of meditation you talk about and the kind benefits accrued from its practice has no need for woo. Why include it? Why buy into it? Why promote it? If you want to understand how and why this practice is of benefit, then turning to woo is a turn away from knowledge, a turn away from gaining any meaningful and honest understanding arbitrated by the reality we share. This promotion of woo is worthy of criticism because of this misdirection.

          And no, your truth is not unique to you; if it is, it ain’t ‘truth’… it’s a perspective. The two are not synonyms but yet another example of torturing language in the name of woo to suit advancing personal faith-based beliefs as if both reasonable and justified. They are neither: they are advocating the imposition of subjective attributions and assertions on to reality and then advertised as if adduced from it when they are not. This is false advertising. Such beliefs are not equivalent, not reasonable, and not justified.

          Look, Feynman said it best and offers us advice we really should take to heart: We should try really hard not to fool ourselves… and we are the easiest people in the world to fool. A really good starting point, then, is to be highly critical of any causal claim that assumes or asserts or insists on accepting as if real an unknown, supernatural mechanism to link them together. That one insistence would cut the power and influence of woo (and the woo-meisters who profit by it) to almost zero instantly. This practice will have zero effect on the benefits of meditation but it will get rid of the unjustified stuff associated with it.

        • Hunt,

          Sorry sir but “My truth is unique to me.” is not trump card that can be played as an argument winner. The “truth” is not unique to you. It’s a perspective that you have or a position that you take. Something is either true or it’s false. It can’t be true for you and false for someone else. If someone makes a claim or a statement – as in “chanting can summon energies that can be used to help you cure a disease”, they need to provide evidence that that’s the case. In order for them to validate their claim, they would have to conduct proper, controlled, clinical trials that demonstrate that what these guys are doing really works and has an effect. Testimonials from fans do not count as evidence. Word salad promotions do not count as evidence. Videos on the internet do not count as evidence.

          • Of course reality is different for anyone from everyone. The primary reason is exactly the point that is made – by you – we all have different experiences, bodies, places in space-time; etc. If there is one absolute truth about reality, it was obscured by diversity.

          • @Hunt for Truth,
            There is no reason to conclude that absolute truth is obscured by diversity. I think we can simply conclude that diversity is an inherent part of absolute truth. I believe that God is both creative and diverse, but also operates strictly within certain boundaries. I believe that diversity has boundaries, beyond which it becomes evil and destructive. For instance, by diversity we can tell one person from another – diversity in facial features, hair color, bone structure, etc. But I think that we would also agree that to exceed certain limits, we would call it deformity. (a foot instead of a nose, for instance) There is also a diversity of paths to go from, say, New York to L.A., each serving different purposes – some scenic, some in the interest of time, some to avoid traffic, etc. But there are also some paths that are absolutely wrong (as in traveling due East by car), and some that at the very least are a very bad idea, depending upon one’s goals.

          • Hunt,

            Yes, everyone’s experiences are different. What doesn’t ever change is whether or not a claim is true or false. So when you say “these are my personal truths” you aren’t making any sense. What you mean to say is “this is reality how I perceive it”. Just because someone claims to be capable of summoning “spiritual energy”, has fans that testify to its authenticity and puts a video on the internet, doesn’t make it true. What makes it true is that it can be subjected to and pass controlled tests, subjected to and fail to be falsified, can be used to make predictions and is peer reviewed and agreed upon. THAT’S what makes something true.

  3. Rana,

    You’ve opened up quite a can of worms for yourself haven’t you? LOL. Have you considered reading Lawrence Krauss’ “A universe from nothing”?

    • Hey Ashley!

      I’ve heard of it, but honestly I have no real desire to read it. I’m quite content with keeping up with the latest scientific journals or studies out of MIT than go for books like that. I understand he is a scientist and is presenting scientific findings to prove a point, but it seems to me that he and such people like Dawkins make it a very aggressive point to pit science against faith instead of offering it as an explanation of faith. I typically don’t like to use this terminology, but the only thing I can think of to describe their behavior is an agenda. I want science for science’s sake, and I’ll determine on my own if that aspect of science is worth making a point of regarding spirituality, as I did in this post. I’m sure he has many scientific points to make which I would be interested in, but the fact he has to frame it in terms of refuting religion, and it seems that most of his personally published work is for this reason, just gets tiring for me.

      • Rana, what you perceive as “a very aggressive point to pit science against faith” is, in fact, exactly what more people need to understand: the two produce claims and explanations that are incompatible. To paraphrase the Electric Company’s children’s show, “One of these things just doesn’t belong here.” The right kind of question to ask is, “Why are science and religion incompatible?”, or “How do science and religion produce incompatible claims?”, or Which contrary claims – derived from the method of science or the method of religion – are justified?”

        You – like many faitheists – assume the problem lies with how and by whom this incompatibility is pointed out… hence the impression of ‘aggressive’. Others call this criticism ‘militant’ and ‘strident’ and ‘angry’ and ‘shrill’ and so on. You get the idea. Yet when one listens to a Dawkins or a Dennett or a Harris or a Pinker or a Hitchens or a Hirsi or a Krauss or a Stenger or a Coyne, et al, one is immediately struck by how calm, reasonable, and articulate all are. On any other subject these people’s expertise, tone, and delivery would be described in positive terms; when it comes to religious beliefs, however, something remarkable happens:POOF!… negative.

        That claims about reality by science and by religion are in conflict is indisputable. That a great number of people empower beliefs contrary to what reality shows us is true about it is also indisputable. That this disconnect between reality as it is and beliefs we hold about that reality causes public dysfunction when the religious claims affect the public domain (ie, governance, public policies, education, law, research, medicine, defense, and so on) is also indisputable. It is not surprising that leading this battle against religious claims affecting the public domain comes from evolutionary biologists who have been personally vilified (for pointing out that evolution as it is understood in scientific terms is incompatible with creationist claims) and their area of expertise the object of special laws to undermine its teachings. If you and your area of expertise were subject to this sustained and well funded attack for religious reasons that are not supported by evidence adduced from reality, you might begin to appreciate just how huge the battle is to educate people based on knowledge that informs technologies, applications, and therapies that have the bad manners (immoral?) to work for everyone everywhere all the time. But when any and all criticism of religious claims about reality is automatically assigned highly pejorative terms and the ones raising the criticism compared to Satan’s immoral minions, then perhaps you could find it in your heart to actually try to understand what’s really at stake here: caring more about what’s true than what people want to believe is true.

      • I second tildeb’s comments. I’ve had this conversation with you before Rana about religious belief and the dangers associated with accommodating and/or respecting religious belief. Things have reached a point now where to simply disagree with someone’s religious beliefs constitutes being disrespectful or militant or even hateful. Suggesting that we shouldn’t teach creationist garbage to school children offends, distresses, upsets and angers A LOT of people. People who feel that above all things, their belief (no matter how utterly ridiculous it is) HAS to be respected, lest their feelings be hurt. This is ridiculous. There can be no accommodation here. Creationism is pseudo-scientific nonsense and it DOES NOT belong in a class room.
        Religious moderates or people who advocate for religious moderation are the ones who clear the way and pave the roads for the steam rollers of religious extremism to ride on. Why? Because to simply criticize religion is considered taboo. Therefore, they advocate that the best approach is to keep your mouth shut and not hurt anyone’s feelings. I’ve re-posted things from Sam Harris’ blog on my facebook page and had my own agnostic brother arguing with me about how we can’t paint all religious people with the same brush, that religion religion provides positive benefits for those who believe in it, that religious text isn’t the problem, it’s the reader. I mean, anyone who’s read the bible can see for themselves that the Old Testament is nothing more than divinely warranted slaughter, murder, genocide, slavery, conquest and theft pretty much from beginning to end. So let’s just say for arguments sake that someone has read the bible and has come to the conclusion that god doesn’t hate homosexuals. I’ve actually gone to a theater and watched a movie and listened to discussion about this afterwords. “For the bible tells me so” is the name of the movie. I sat and listened to people explain away that very verse in Deuteronomy that condemns homosexuality. “Oh I don’t think god had this in mind for couples who were in love” and other nonsensical white noise. Roughly 3 hours of non stop religious babble. What makes their interpretation any more or any less valid than the person who reads the bible and comes to the opposite conclusion? I’m supposed to respect this? Both people claim that their belief is buttressed by a celestial authority. Who’s right? You’ll spend an eternity pondering that question and you’ll never be able to answer it.
        So to get to the point about people like Dawkins and Krauss having an agenda. Yes, it’s possible and probably likely that they do. Their agenda is to get people to think for themselves and stop accepting or even respecting superstitious and supernatural nonsense. If we’re not careful, religion is going to be the death of us all.

    • Well, now I’m convinced that everyone who has cancer is at fault for not believing in their own power of healing! If only they had more faith! Think of the business opportunity… you, too, learn how to regrow your lost limbs, transform cellular damage in the time it takes to boil water, focus the body’s regenerative power and augment it by a factor of a thousand! Where do I sign up? What do I need to buy my way into this magical kingdom of secret knowledge that the rest of the scientific world has mysteriously overlooked?

      Now I realize my skepticism is too militant; I’m convinced that the words and magical energies summoned by the three chanters in this video within a video transferred into a physical causal effect in the patient because I trust the speaker (he’s well groomed and articulate) who is describing what’s going on to be honest and knowledgeable (because he looks earnest), and trust <a href="http://michaelbach.de/ot/"my eyes to tell me what's true about reality.

      Seriously?

  4. Rana,

    In regard to a “Happy medium”, are you talking about a psychic who likes her job? For your own benefit, I would not advise meditating on how you breathe. It will make you crazy and make breathing, the most natural thing in the world, unnatural the moment you ruin it by thinking about it! (Are you hyperventilating yet?)

    Anyway, in regard to the Big Bang, just as a matter speculation, I see no reason why there could not be an infinite number of “Big Bangs”, each with billions of galaxies, even as there are billions of galaxies beyond our Milky Way. Or many “Big Bangs” may collectively make up part of a larger system, even as many solar systems make up a galaxy. Who knows?

    But your statement, “It is also possible that the universe itself, and all things within it, are that creator.”, I find problematic.
    What we know of the universe basically boils down to rock, gas, energy, and a lot of empty space. If you have a rock sitting on your desk with air around it (gas) and a light shining on it (energy), you’ve basically got a microcosm of the cosmos. If you throw the rock, you’ve even got motion now. (Now granted, what I’m about to say is an oversimplification, but in principle, not really) If you take your rock, sitting on your desk with gas and space around it and light energy also present and just make this whole thing really, really big, do you think that you now have God? Does an infinite amount of this stuff somehow work out to being God? We use the expression, “dumber than a box of rocks!”. Is a great big box of great big rocks any closer to being God than the small one? We laugh at the idea of people in Bible times carving an idol from wood or stone and then bowing down to it. I believe that you are merely carving out a very big idol – so big, in fact that you cannot comprehend it, and then bowing down to it. But it is still the same basic stuff, whether big or small.

    There are two major ways to hide a lie. The first is by hiding it in a great amount of details and complexity, so as to obscure its essence. (Think our new 11,000 page healthcare law, for instance) The other way to hide a lie is on the macro level – in the framing. For instance, to look at a 200 foot high tile mosaic in a room that is only 3 feet deep, if that Mosaic says, “There is no God and life sprang from non-life through evolution”, you will not discern the lie because you cannot stand back far enough to see it. By making mere matter big and vast enough, you seem to be willing to embrace it as God, even as men are willing to believe that life sprang from non-life given enough time and chance, even though we have zero evidence of this happening in what we can see and observe. In both of these, the lie is hidden in the vastness. Again, just as a lie can be obscured through detailed complexity, it can also be obscured through unfathomable size. You’ve still fundamentally got a rock, gas, and energy.

    In regard to your monkey, I see several problems. One, your monkey dies in 30 years or so. None of them live billions of years in order for this typing experiment to yield intelligent results, so our experiment begins in fantasy. Another is that even if we did have monkeys that lived this long, the intelligent result would be lost in a sea of random monkey garble, and with nothing to stand outside of it and tell the difference between the sense and the nonsense, so the “sense” would merely be lost in the nonsense and not go anywhere.
    Is it your experience that life comes from non-life, consciousness from what is not? Given enough random occurrences, do you foresee the incredible leap from rock and gas to conscious life? Do you see things in an in-between state between life and non-life?
    Also, if God is merely the summation of all that is, he would be a whole lot of inanimate matter and empty space with a tiny amount of conscious life that is highly divided in its thinking (Your thinking vs. mine, for instance. I would think with all this rumbling He’d be in a constant state of indigestion) I can’t help but wonder about the willingness to make so many giant leaps and wild theories, while rejecting the simple idea of a Creator, which explains life, consciousness, non-life, and all that is. True, we are still left with grasping the existence of God, Himself, but we are left with one fundamental question, rather than many.

    And finally, you said that we will never find out the truth about God until we are dead. A little late, don’t you think? Have you considered that when the proper conditions are met, that God is quite willing and able to reveal Himself to individuals? (And those conditions, I believe, are seeking Him with all our heart, humility, and a willingness to embrace what He reveals.) This is precisely my own testimony to you, and there are millions of others who would tell you the same thing.
    RT

    • (snip)… men are willing to believe that life sprang from non-life given enough time and chance, even though we have zero evidence of this happening in what we can see and observe.

      Not true. We can adduce the pattern of how we know life changes over time and, working backwards, arrive at this hypothesis as a reasonable one with justification as surely as you can follow your own footprints in snow backwards to when you first stepped into it even when they are gradually obscured over time. Or… we can believe in aPOOF!ism event and allow people to suggest as much as if it were an ‘explanation’ when all this hypothesis does is add even more complexity to the question (not to mention an infinite regress). You may think this is a ‘simple’ idea – a creator busy creating – but upon closer and detailed examination, I think you will find it exactly the opposite: it explains absolutely nothing. All it does is present what appears to be an answer and deflects us from further inquiry if we buy it. That promotion of ignorance masquerading as ‘another kind of knowledge’ is also a demonstrable testimony of the pernicious effect of such belief in action.

    • Thunder,

      I’m honestly hoping your first paragraph is to be funny and is just humorous sarcasm. If that’s not the case, then no, the ‘medium’ was not a reference to psychics, it was a reference to finding a middle ground. Also, I don’t understand what is wrong with contemplating one’s breathing, especially when there’s nothing much else to do but wait for sleep. I see nothing nerve-wracking about meditating over the calm sensation of breathing. I’ve never really understood how people could get nervous or crazed over such a thing.

      To your second paragraph, your observation of the box of rocks is from the outside looking in. I am suggesting that we cannot observe the universe as a whole in the same way. Just as a mitochondria would observe our bodies from the inside – not only due to its lack of comprehension but more basically due to its lack of perspective upon our bodies – as simply a universe it is contained in, and not necessarily a larger entity it is contained within, who is to say that the universe itself is not the same? Without observing the ‘box of rocks’ from the outside, one cannot know if that ‘box’ is actually a living body all its own. In other words, I’m ‘thinking outside the box’ and suggesting possibilities.

      Fundamentally speaking, we ourselves are merely rock, gas, and energy as well, so I don’t see your point in suggesting that the universe as a whole is any different. We digest inanimate objects and process them into energy, we are made of mostly water, we process oxygen, etc. The fact that we may not understand the physical ‘systems’ of the universe (digestive, nervous, respiratory, etc.) is not to say that the universe, on a very vast scale that we cannot yet calculate or properly observe, may not have such features. And I’ll once again include the caveat that this is merely a speculation, a philosophical, and partially scientific, possibility.

      As for the infinite monkey theorem, I believe you are missing what the principle of the theory is. The point is that, under infinite circumstances, probability continues just as infinitely, working closer and closer to the probability of 1, the definite, the 100% absolute. This means that, if the universe works on an infinite loop, then the chance of life coming from non-life becomes infinitely more possible, and inevitably, will eventually happen. It’s not about the rules of life which we live by today, it’s about probability, and that’s it. Under the same circumstances, the existence of a god in an infinite universe is also inevitable.

      You say, “Again, just as a lie can be obscured through detailed complexity, it can also be obscured through unfathomable size. You’ve still fundamentally got a rock, gas, and energy.” And I say to you that truth can be obscured in the same way. Is not your god something so massive and grand that ‘He’ cannot be taken in all at once? Is not ‘His’ majesty instating of pure awe in man because of ‘His’ greatness? Or do you consider your god wholly comprehensible by man in this life? I see no difference between your god, in this case, and the possibility of the vastness of the universe itself being misconstrued due to its vastness, and actually the universe being a conscious entity, when observed from the outside looking in.

      To your last point, I say that it amuses me you must still ask me such a question. Yes, I have considered the possibility, and have no personal evidence to prove this to be the case. It is a possibility, within all the realms of possibilities, and some people settle with their own evidences as personal proofs and go no further in their considerations. I chose not to. It’s that simple.

      I’m going to make a personal tangent here to say that I don’t really appreciate your continuous assumptions on my personal views, saying things like, “I believe that you are merely carving out a very big idol,” and, “Is it your experience that life comes from non-life, consciousness from what is not? Given enough random occurrences, do you foresee the incredible leap from rock and gas to conscious life? Do you see things in an in-between state between life and non-life?” Just because I pose the possibility does not mean I automatically believe that possibility to be the actual case. I’d greatly appreciate if you would refrain from making such direct comments on what you ‘think’ I believe in or don’t believe in. You’ve made this quite a habit, to say you think I’m going down this and that path, when half the time you are speaking about things I am posing as possibilities, and not outwardly stating are my personal views.

      I’ll also make a point in saying that you’ve become quite pessimistic about me, which intrigues me to say the least. This post was meant only to create a common ground between those who deny a conscious creator and those who demand a creator must exist. You immediately seem to dismiss my point that a conscious, overarching god of creation, the same style of god you adamantly believe in, is possible, and must instead assume I am going toward the belief that there is no god simply because I pose the possibility that life has the probability of existence without god. So I’ll say this again, as I’ve said before, that I’m at the point in my life that god cannot be proven or disproven on a universal level to all of mankind. This is my view on god, that I have no personal stance on the issue which is of any concern to anyone but myself, because my personal beliefs are my own, and not provable.

      I also note to your last comment, “This is precisely my own testimony to you, and there are millions of others who would tell you the same thing.” There are millions of people who will tell you, truly and honestly, that they know of their past lives, that they are close to enlightenment, that they can feel the Tao flow through them, that they have experienced the call of Allah, that they have experienced the passed spirits of their loved ones through their familial shrines, etc. Your testimony, and the similar testimonies of those who believe as you do, are no more evidence for me than any of these other peoples. The fact that you consider your testimony valid and theirs invalid because your testimonies don’t match is simply evidence to me that none of your are exactly right about god.

      • Rana,
        My first paragraph was meant as humor only – all of it, including the bit about meditating on breathing. It was not even meant to be sarcastic. There was no substance or hidden messages in it at all. Perhaps that it was meant to be entirely humorous is a much more damning admission on my part! My older sister used to say to us younger kids, “Think about how you breath”, and the moment we would think about it, our breathing became unnatural. That’s all that was about. She had a bit of a strange sense of humor.

        You said, “Fundamentally speaking, we ourselves are merely rock, gas, and energy as well, so I don’t see your point in suggesting that the universe as a whole is any different.” I would suggest to you that the essence of your life (your spirit) is not found within the rock, gas, and energy – the part that would make “You” still “You”, even after Alzheimer’s, a sex change operation, or being burned horribly to the point that no one could recognize you.

        In regard to your statement, “This means that, if the universe works on an infinite loop, then the chance of life coming from non-life becomes infinitely more possible, and inevitably, will eventually happen.” Not if the fundamental ingredient for life is not physical at all.” Not if the essence of life is outside of that loop. No matter how long I toss a salad I will never get meat, unless meat was a part of the original salad. No matter how long you toss around physical elements they will not produce the spiritual.

        Regarding your statement, “And I say to you that truth can be obscured in the same way. Is not your god something so massive and grand that ‘He’ cannot be taken in all at once? Is not ‘His’ majesty instating of pure awe in man because of ‘His’ greatness? Or do you consider your god wholly comprehensible by man in this life?” I do not believe God can be taken in completely during this life, or in the next, for that matter. I believe, however, that we will be “taking Him in” over the course of all eternity, ever surprised, delighted, and taken aback by what we had not known before, and with what we newly discover never contradicting what we already know of Him. For instance if I would find out one day that you were a tap-dancer on roller skates, that would take nothing away from what I already understand about you being a writer. (And I had an obese, chain-smoking friend whose son told his teacher a whopper that his father was a tap-dancer on roller skates, and when this big, burly guy showed up for the parent-teacher conference, huffing and puffing for shortness of breath, the teacher said, “Why Mr. Barton, you don’t seem at all the type your son described!” (His kid clearly had issues and his Dad was ready to kill him when he got home!) Though God cannot be taken in all at once, I believe we have been created to contemplate Him forever, and we learn as He reveals. We cannot comprehend God except that He reveals. Now He has revealed some of Himself in Creation: He’s a God of beauty, power, relationship, awesomeness, diversity, creativity, etc. There are also distortions in the Creation due to the fall. He is not a God of evil, for instance. The evil we see in this world comes from separation from God, even as a rotting, stinking corpse comes from a separation from oxygen, water, and what is necessary to sustain life. In short (too late!) God reveals enough of Himself for us to inquire further, and as we seek with integrity, He reveals more. But we CANNOT discover God based on our own resources. It takes God revealing Himself.

        You said, “ This post was meant only to create a common ground between those who deny a conscious creator and those who demand a creator must exist. First, you could just as easily have phrased that as those who “demand that no creator exists”. Your phrasing shows some bias. I would suggest to you that your efforts to reconcile these two camps are like trying to reconcile East and West, UP and Down, Heaven and Hell. There is no common ground. I appreciate the part of your nature that seeks peace and inclusiveness – the empathetic part that you speak of. Though I believe empathy is valid and desirable in regard to many, many things, there are places where this does not and cannot apply. I’ve seen you trying to reconcile good and evil into one god-like entity. Like oil and water, it does not mix, and the two are mutually abhorrent. I believe you mean well by your effort, and I can appreciate your intent, and perhaps even the hurt or disappointment when your very attempts to reconcile end in disappointment, or perhaps feelings of being misunderstood every time. (That was kind of empathetic, don’t you think?)

        And finally, in regard to your statement, “There are millions of people who will tell you, truly and honestly, that they know of their past lives, that they are close to enlightenment, that they can feel the Tao flow through them, that they have experienced the call of Allah, that they have experienced the passed spirits of their loved ones through their familial shrines, etc.”, I would only say that many of their experiences are like real, though demonically induced. There is a very real spiritual world out there. Scripture says that “Satan masquerades as an angel of light.” So I would not invalidate their experience, but rather challenge the source and the fruits of that source. Scripture admonishes Christians to “test the spirits to see whether they are of God” (2Cor. 11:14) . And also, “Believe not every spirit” (1Jn. 4:1) . There are all sorts of spiritual beings out there, and we must be very careful what we yield to. Jesus said,

        Matt 7:13-18
        13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
        14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
        15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
        16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
        17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
        18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

        RT

        • Thunder, to your first paragraph, very well.

          “I would suggest to you that the essence of your life (your spirit) is not found within the rock, gas, and energy – the part that would make “You” still “You”, even after Alzheimer’s, a sex change operation, or being burned horribly to the point that no one could recognize you.” I would suggest to this that there is no proof of what you call a spirit. My fiance made a very detailed commentary on his own blog the other day about the chemical addictions we have going in our own bodies, and how different people become almost dependent on these different chemical addictions, and this is why we react in different ways to different stimuli (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, etc.) Here’s the link: http://lordaoshi.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/knowledge-is-power-and-also-a-curse/
          As always, this is simply a possibility, that the human ‘spirit’ is simply a level of our consciousness which other animals do not experience, due to our overt chemical dependencies within our bodies which other animals do not experience in such high doses. It is possible that the ‘spirit’ of man is simply the explanation which we gave to our emotional reactions to the world, and the ‘otherworldly’ things we observed (hallucinations being called visions of the spirit, near-death experiences simply being chemical dream reactions within the brain’s oxygen-deprived state, etc.). Although it a sobering possibility, it is still possible that the concept of the spirit is simply a false observation of the human condition, a compensation for the lack of scientific knowledge we had about ourselves in our earlier stages of understanding, and that the spirit is actually just the end-result of the chemical addictions we have within us being perceived as something non-physical. In other words, the spirit could just as much of an illusion of man as good and evil may be, simply perceptions of man which we had no other explanation for at the time of conception of the idea itself.

          I find your statement here fascinating: “…we CANNOT discover God based on our own resources. It takes God revealing Himself.” You constantly say that ‘God’ will not reveal ‘Himself’ on our terms, but only on ‘His’ own terms, and those terms are for us to give in to ‘Him’ completely and unquestioningly. Yet just before this statement, you say, “God reveals enough of Himself for us to inquire further, and as we seek with integrity, He reveals more.” In other words, ‘God’ prompts us to question the world, yet only by finally giving up on questioning the world and just giving into the ‘truth’ that is ‘God’ can we know ‘Him.’ This seems like a double-edged sword to me. ‘God’ hints at ‘Himself’ to us, and this pings our interest and nature to further question. But if we don’t ask the right questions, or don’t come to the right answers, ‘God’ stops revealing. Only by getting to the questions which can only be answered by giving up on trying to answer them in the first place, can we know ‘God.’ What a demand for us to contradict our nature as humans, while initially purposefully following our nature as humans, in order to know this ‘God.’ This brings me back again to the question of why make us naturally curious, naturally questioning and looking for answers, when the real answer is to deny our nature and stop questioning all together? It reminds me of playing with my mother’s cats with a laser pointer. Cats are bred to hunt small game, mice and rats and moles, even bugs like grasshoppers. A cat sees a dot and assumes it is prey to be caught. But it is not prey at all. The only way for the cat to win is to deny its own nature of hunting prey and give up. For us to do this to a cat seems mean, but for the Christian ‘God’ to do it to us is fair and just.

          To your point: “You said, “ This post was meant only to create a common ground between those who deny a conscious creator and those who demand a creator must exist. First, you could just as easily have phrased that as those who “demand that no creator exists”. Your phrasing shows some bias.” I must disagree. My point was not to specify atheists, those who demand no creator exists. The reason I specified my wording as ‘those who deny a conscious creator,’ is because I’m discussing the options of the origin of life. There are those who demand a creator must have a consciousness, a purpose in its creation, for us to exist at all. Other do not make such a claim, and instead say that the ‘creator’ need not be conscious, the the ‘creator’ could simply be the universe itself, and the unconscious, yet continuous, progression of the laws of the universe evolving to the point of initializing life. In both cases, there is a ‘creator,’ the argument becomes whether that creator is conscious of its actions or is lacking conscious, and so life is simply a point of chance in the cosmic order. As to the rest of your paragraph here discussion empathy, I have nothing to say. I already know you are willing to dismiss empathy for the sake of your belief, and I find this to be a very dangerous and fearful aspect of your views. Any person can dismiss empathy on some level, and justify it through their beliefs. I wrote a post about such a person, who dismissed empathy toward the victims of the Holocaust, because he claimed this mass genocide of millions of people was God-sent as a punishment to the Jews for not accepting Christ as the Messiah like they should have. I personally feel that dismissing empathy on any level, for any reason, is an excuse to divide humanity in this life instead of unite it under the banner of humanity itself.

          To your final point, I don’t know what you say to you. You honestly feel that all those of a different view on ‘God’ are demonically possessed or influenced? Honestly? Once again, we go back to the situation of those who have never, and will never, experience the Bible and the ‘God’ you believe in. This new explanation of yours with demonic influence seems to suggest that all these people are simply given up by ‘God’ by default and are victims of demons without ever having a chance. Or are you suggesting that there are also right and wrong ways to believe in your ‘God’ through other religions as well? This leaves a whole new set of undefinable and unprovable baselines of belief and how to be on ‘God’s’ path while not believing in the ‘God’ or even knowing that this particular, ‘true God’ exists in the first place.

          • Rana,
            In regard to God revealing Himself, it is not a matter of our asking the right questions, but rather an attitude of heart. And when God reveals, we do yield to it, setting up the conditions for Him to reveal more. Why would God reveal more if we have not received or assimilated the first things He showed us? But you seem to be confusing this with intellectual suicide. On the contrary, God created our mind, body, will, and emotions, and wants them fully engaged in an active partnership with Himself and the world around us. (Scripture tells us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength”) Think of it like this. Let’s say you are completely lost in a big city. If you approach a stranger and start blaming him for your being lost, you probably won’t get anywhere. Let’s say this person has lived in this city all their life, and you are an outsider. If you begin the conversation by telling him how it should be, and complaining that it is not like your city back home, again, this person will leave you to your own devices. If you tell him that he OWES it to you to get you where you’re going, you’ll soon find out that he does not. But if you approach him with a humble attitude, “I’m lost, would you help me?” and then listen to what he tells you, write down the directions, and thank him, you will likely get some real help. He may even tell you things you didn’t ask for, like a great place along the way where you can get a bite to eat, anticipating your hunger. If he perceives that you are really frazzled, trying your best, but not comprehending the driving directions, he may even offer to let you follow him in your car until you get to the place where you know what you’re doing again.

            In regard to “contradicting our nature as humans”, what is important to understand is that our “human nature” was created “good” by God, but has been corrupted through the fall. It is not reliable, including that thing we think and perceive with. As we follow the Lord, He reinforces what is reliable in our nature and upbringing, fixes and adjusts what is distorted or broken, and moves to eliminate what is outright wrong or harmful. This process takes a great deal of trust in God. But God asks for a STEP of faith, and answers with immutable faithfulness, another step of faith, and another answer of faithfulness. What God has to say to us is beyond us, but not beyond our learning. God testifies of our thinking vs. His:
            Isa 55:8-9
            8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
            9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
            (NIV)

            We want God to help us and to answer our questions, but we often do not want the process of receiving answers from an infinite God. We do not want to lose control, or to enter upon ground that does not leave us squarely in charge.

            In regard to natural curiosity, God does not condemn our natural curiosity any more than a parent does a child’s. But every wise parent sets limits for their children, and so does God. You spoke of your cat’s curiosity. Remember the downside of this, however, “Curiosity killed the cat.” Your curiosity is good. Unrestrained curiosity, however, may destroy you. Back to our “lost in the city” example. Your guide most assuredly would caution you against entering certain parts of the city – not because he wants to restrain you, but because you may get mugged or killed. And in regard to your saying “The only way for the cat to win is to deny its own nature of hunting prey and give up. For us to do this to a cat seems mean, but for the Christian ‘God’ to do it to us is fair and just.” Again, our nature is not fully reliable. I think that if your fiancé sees an attractive woman and complains to you about denying his masculine nature, that he would not get very far with you. Suddenly Rana says, “Here, deny this!” Slam! He’s out cold. So his masculine desires have a place and a boundary (Your marriage). If he exceeds those boundaries he will cause harm to a relationship that is much more important than his masculine curiosity. And what man is not curious about other women? If he yields to his every curiosity, however, he will destroy his life, and the lives of others.

            On the issue of empathy, empathy is always good. The question is the timeframe in which it bears out. The surgeon who amputates the leg is in the short term being very cruel, but in the long term saving the life. To deny a child his every demand may feel very cruel and unempathetic to him, but you are being merciful toward his later life. The same goes with the tough teacher, or the tough drill sergeant who knows that if he pampers his men, they will not be prepared for a situation in which the enemy will certain not pamper them. About the Holocaust, I see it mostly as an attack of Satan to exterminate the Jews, not because Satan is focused on them, but because he seeks to thwart God’s purposes (And inadvertently established them in the process, with the persecution leading to establishing Israel as a state) Does God use these things to chasten us? Yes. But God is always looking for our ultimate, eternal good. In our shortsightedness we interpret this as something less.

            In regard to demonic influence, not even Christians are exempt. There are all sorts of religious spirits, for instance that look close, but are fundamentally hostile to God: legalism, self-righteousness, works-righteousness, etc. – all rooted in pride. As far as people who have never experienced he Christian God being given up to demonic powers by default, this is the default state of mankind in general. But again, God reveals enough of Himself through creation, etc., that we have a responsibility to seek and call out to Him. As far as how God handles people at various levels of ignorance, cultural bondage, etc., I believe that when we stand before Him, and our souls are laid bare, that those who would have received the truth will in that moment, and those who would not will not be able to feign it in any way. (That’s just a theory) I know this, that God is just, and that people will end up rightly where they belong.

            RT

            • RT, you state (snip)…what is important to understand is that our “human nature” was created “good” by God, but has been corrupted through the fall. For this to make any sense at all, you have to assume the fall was an historical event by real people. You also slip in the word ‘understand’ as if not accepting this claim reveals a lack of understanding.

              Au contraire.

              We know (if population genetics is true as it seems to be for everyone everywhere all the time in applications, therapies, and technologies that work consistently and reliably well) that the fall is not histircal, that we come from no founding couple. Your genetic makeup will reveal that your oldest female ancestor lived some 50,000 to 70,000 years earlier than your oldest male ancestor. We also know from your genetic makeup that the smallest possible population bottleneck from which you descend was about 10,000 to 12000 (and bout 1200 for a very particular strand of people in Europe). If your claim were true, in fact, then why doesn’t your genetic makeup reveal a founding couple all of us share? It could have (for the claim to have some merit of possibility) but it doesn’t (if the claim were in fact true). How do you account for this genetic discrepancy?

              Well, if your claim were true, then our genetic makeup should show it. It doesn’t. For your claim to remain possibly true, then the usual maneuver is to claim the fall is metaphorical, in which case our need for a redeemer is also metaphorical. But I suspect you are going to stick by the need for an historical redeemer by the name of Jesus and simply wave away the genetic evidence because support from reality is not a requirement for your faith-based beliefs; you’ll continue believing in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence from reality that your claim is true, that the fault of the discrepancy lies not with you and your beliefs (revealed by god’s personal intervention in your life, no less) but with those who simply don’t ‘understand’ scripture properly.

              Am I wrong?

              • You lost me on your statement, “Your genetic makeup will reveal that your oldest female ancestor lived some 50,000 to 70,000 years earlier than your oldest male ancestor.” Are you saying that we had 50-7000 years of women having children without men? If that is what you are saying, I would question either your information or their genetic testing.

              • Yeah, you’re not alone. Lots of folk assume the oldest male and female common evidence in our genome must be dated the same because we come from combined parentage. Alas, not so. Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam that each of us carries are indeed thousands of generations apart. Wrapping one’s head around why this is so is a fascinating journey I urge you to take.

                Because we evolved from proto-humans, we have inherited our genome (plus some changes) from pre-human ancestry… including as far back as bits of simian viruses… all of which is excellent support for evolution by natural selection and common ancestry.

                You know, the funny thing is that genetics could have produced compelling evidence contrary to natural selection and common decent. It could have revealed a POOF! moment that would have supported some kind of IDiocy or substantiate a creationist account. But it didn’t. It aligned perfectly and seamlessly with Darwinian evolution and helped propel it to become a scientific theory. Combining genetics with Darwinian evolution, we now call it the Great Synthesis because of how astoundingly accurate Darwin’s hypothesis turned out to be: elegant yet simple, predictive yet testable, combining to cause a figurative explosion of new avenues of inquiry and all kinds of new knowledge still being translated into useful and practical applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. This is why the development of evolutionary theory ranks as (arguably) the greatest of human achievements to date. And it is truly sad that so many people will not bother to understand it because it conflicts with so many religious ideas. But to be clear, the only barrier to this breakthrough scientific proposal comes from religion… not because it’s in any scientific doubt whatsoever (it isn’t) but because people don’t want to let go of wishing their cherished origin stories were historically true and then insisting they must remain so regardless of what reality tells us is true about it.

              • tildeb,
                The genetic information you are sighting, honestly, sounds like things that one person grabs off of the internet and emails among their atheist friends, and likely loaded with all sorts of assumptions and a mix of science and pseudo-science, and so esoteric in nature, so obscure in what the roots and validity of many of the claims actually are, that it is almost impossible to argue anything. This stuff gets passed around as truth, and I would guess that many of the claims, or foundations for the claims are based upon a great deal of speculation. Like the old saying, “If you can’t beat them with brilliance, baffle ’em with bullshit.”

              • How refreshing to see you utilizing healthy skepticism! Kudos. Here is the information you seek and , no, it’s not bullshit but excellent science. As for the doubts raised because a knowledge claim comes from an atheist, well, you’ll learn to get past your own biases and prejudices with practice.

              • tildeb,
                I read the article, and it seems like speculation on top of speculation on top of speculation to me. Throwing around tens and hundreds of thousands of years and lots of guesswork. The actual studies say things like (#3) “Possible ancestral structure in human populations”, and (#5) Statistical evaluation of alternative models of human evolution. (Alternative models?- sounds like guesswork to me!) and “new genetic and archaeological perspectives on the modern human colonization of Eurasia” There is so much to juggle around here that a person can make it say anything he wants it to say, especially when we add in years and years and assumption after assumption about the past.
                The article says, “Here, with fewer assumptions on population size changes, we present a more detailed history of human population sizes between approximately ten thousand and a million years ago, using the pairwise sequentially Markovian coalescent model applied to the complete diploid genome sequences of a Chinese male” Between 10,000 and a million years ago? Sounds real precise, doesn’t it. How much money’s in the account, honey? Oh, between 10,000 and a million dollars! Where does our property line end? Oh, between 10,000 and a million feet South of here. Either South or West. People assemble these studies mixed with studies, each with its own set of assumptions and who knows whether they are affirmed by the greater scientific community. They piece them together making additional assumptions in the piecing, and filling in the gaps (and there are many!) according to the picture in their own heads. One wrong assumption and the entire theory is putty. Add to this that the researches themselves are hungry for recognition, hungry to have their findings published, and there is all kinds of bias in these things.
                I knew a guy who took a fossil into a paleontologist and asked him what it was. The paleontologist answered straight out without blinking, “It’s a dinosaur bone”. How do you know? He then went into a lengthy discourse about the rock strata it was found in, and how a certain strata indicates a particular time period, on and on. After this lengthy discourse, which made the guy feel stupid, he asked the paleontologist one more question. “How do you know which rock layer this is?” The paleontologist gave him a look of disgust and said, “Well, there’s a dinosaur bone in it!” End of discussion.

              • Right. Sounds very confusing, doesn’t it? Probably guesswork and bunk… except it’s published in the most prestigious genetics journal and peer reviewed by a panel of extremely critical and highly knowledgeable people who look for anything they can criticize. Of course, if you worked in science, you’d know just how grueling this process is to get to publication and so you wouldn’t jump to assuming guesswork and bunk; you’d sit up and pay attention and then go ahead and independently verify or find fault with the study. The reason for the variance in time is because it falls between markers. In private you may have very good reasons for narrowing this down considerably but because you cannot verify these reasons to be compelling <i.enough and so you’ll find scientists everywhere erring on the side of tremendous caution. Again, though, you’d know this if you understood how peer review works in practice. It’s not perfect, but it does yield knowledge.

                But sure, go with your gut and your beliefs because these are the tools used by scientists to demonstrate stuff that works for everyone. Your knowledge obviously is sufficient to cast doubt on findings in a field you know next to nothing about, but for geneticists this is proof positive that the story of Adam and Eve is irrefutably false because it simply doesn’t match the data.

              • Tildeb,

                Are these geneticists also Biblical scholars? Are they taking the entire Biblical account into their equations? I am no geneticist, but just off the top of my head this morning I would like to offer the following from the Biblical account that may in various ways change the interpretation of their results or render their assumptions completely amiss.

                * Consider that in the account of Adam and Eve, that Eve was taken out of Adam. That God began with Adam’s DNA to fashion Eve – with Adam’s rib. When I Adam saw Eve, he said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘Woman’, for she was taken out of man.” (Gen 2:23) So Adam and Eve would have one DNA, not two.
                * In their calculations did they adhere to the Biblical model, where Adam lived and propagated for over 900 years, with the typical life span decreasing gradually as the full effects of death manifest after the fall? They decreased to about 600 years at the time of Noah and the flood, gradually to three and four hundred years, 180 years at the time of Moses, to a point where God said man’s years will be 120. We can scratch out a lot before the flood, but even after they were living for 600 years, decreasing from there down to what we know today. What would this do to their genetic timetables?
                * Have they figured in the Biblical account of the flood? All mankind “rebooted” with eight people – four couples. All other genetic lines were wiped out. So we would expect, therefore, to find a beginning point of eight, not two.
                * The fall. The fall drastically changed genetics, with the introduction of death, hostility in the animal kingdom, etc. Scripture tells us that the entire creation fell with man (It was created for man – animals and all) (It also tells us that God will restore the entire Creation in the end.
                * The Tower of Babel with Nimrod, etc.. Here, man sought a unity apart from God, and God confounded that unity by confusing their speech and scattering the peoples throughout the face of the earth. This was certainly a significant event, with huge genetic ramifications, limiting gene pools and establishing racial distinctions, etc.

                Those are just off the top of my head, and I never tried to build a case for this before. So are your geneticists really disproving the Biblical model at all?

              • Tildeb,
                Thinking further about science as a means to figure out the distant past, I recall the classic evolution series of ape to man that encyclopedias pictured for every young inquirer as gospel truth. Remember Piltdown man, Peking man, ect. Every one of these was proved to be either an outright hoax, a complete error, fully ape or fully man (both ape and human bones found in the same area, yet they decided to mix and match) With one of them its founder confessed on his deathbed to it being an outright hoax. Another turned out to be from an extinct pig, and from this they had made models of both what the male and female homo erectus would look like. There is a lot of imagination work going on here. I trust science where science is in its element. I specifically do not trust it in regard to the past, because it is composed of scientific fact here and another there and glued together according to a great deal of imagination and personal philosophy. It’s not science at all, really. The reason science in the present is often very good is because we can verify it in the present. It works or it doesn’t. I always was amazed at the faith the U.S. government put in Einstein’s seemingly way out theory of special relativity when they invested so heavily into the Manhattan Project. When they set off the world’s first nuclear bomb in the desert, they didn’t even know it if would work, or if it would set off a chain reaction in the atmosphere. But it did work, so anyone skeptical of Einstein’s theory would have to look at it afresh in light of the fact that it bore out. But when it comes to science and the past, there is so much that is “inferred” on so little evidence, and often upon previous inferences, built still upon previous inferences, that it really comes out garbage. As they say, you can have the best computer in the world, but garbage in, garbage out.
                And when I look at the global warming thing, I see a political agenda the size of a freight train running through it all. Basically, the ecology people would like to find an excuse to exert power over industry, which they see as their enemy, and believe that if they could just get control over it, all would be right with the world. When we see that we are no longer warming, they then change it to “climate change”. They are basically assembling information according to a paradigm that will give them their desired result, and it angers me that they call it science. Science with an agenda is a monster. At every turn, every gap of real science they will fill in the blanks in such a way that affirms what they want to believe. This is especially true of evolution. And don’t think that fallen man’s desire to get out of accountability to God is a small motivator!
                RT.

              • And who discovered the hoaxes? Evolutionary biologists. Unlike religion, science contains the means to be self-correcting. This is a virtue unavailable to the pious.

                It is hypocritical to grant the scientific method respect enough to power your cell phone and treat your ailments but deny exactly the same method the same level of respect for explanations that are contrary to your religious beliefs. You can’t have it both ways, RT, without being a hypocrite and granting your religious beliefs special exemptions. The proof is in the eating of the pudding, you see, and these explanations work. That is reality’s arbitration of them and it far exceeds your asserted and self-appointed position to doubt only when the explanations show your beliefs to be false. Your lack of understanding why climate change is driven by AGW is bought and paid for, making you it’s… I’m trying to think of nicer way of saying this… dupe, and you pay little attention to the fact that every major scientific body in the world tells you you’re wrong. But because you allow your beliefs to be of greater value than what’s true as adjudicated by reality, you shall continue to be duped and think yourself clever. This is not a virtue.

              • Tildeb,
                You say you will “accept reality’s arbitration”. If you have missed God, the seat and determiner of all reality, the one who calls Himself, “I AM” (Exod. 3:14) you have missed everything! If you are attempting to assess a world created by God while ruling out the single most important issue of reality – God Himself, you have completely missed it before you’ve begun.

              • But I’m not ruling him out! You keep asserting this is my starting position. Not true. Get over yourself, please; your assertions do not describe the reality I inhabit; reality describes it just fine, thank you very much. And your assertions do not comport with it. I do not share your religious beliefs because these beliefs do not comport with reality. I don’t know how much plainer I can make the case. I am wide open to reality showing me compelling evidence to inform any reasons I may have to accept your claims about it. But reality – not me and my starting assumptions – has failed to yield what you assert it contains. My choice in this matter is to go with reality for better reasons and not your contrary beliefs about it for poorer ones.

              • Tildeb,
                Also in regard to your statement that you will abide by reality’s arbitration. Even if we leave God out of the picture (The biggest oversight in the universe), do you truly believe you have a grip on reality? Do you understand all things past and all things that are? Can you accurately assess the validity of each and every piece of scientific research that goes into the various theories, personally vouch for how they are pieced together, and how they relate to all things? Are you an expert in each and every field involved, as well as possessing the ability to judge, or arbitrate between them? What do you really know of reality? Can you process all knowledge in a moment – its vast breadth and depth? You, who like all men have been around for a tiny spec of time we call a life-span on earth? Think of how much time you have NOT been around to see, think, and observe. In consideration of eternity past, if God were a home builder and laid His bricks at an incredibly leisurely pace of one brick per trillion years, He would still have completed an infinite number of homes. So you think you have a grasp on reality? You think you are adequate to assess it?
                I have noticed that every atheist I’ve ever communicated with has an inordinate pride and confidence in his intellect. Though God gave the intellect and wants us to use it, I believe that like anything that is out of order – from sex to money, that the intellect becomes the very blinder and stumbling block for the atheist. It is the seat of his pride, and pride blinds a man to the truth – especially the truth about himself.

              • RT, I’m not the one pretending to know stuff I don’t know anything about. You are. You are pretending to know about god, his nature, his desires, his intentions, his purpose for you, his actions, his characteristics and preferences, yada, yada, yada. Who is the one showing pride and confidence here, certain in beliefs that stand contrary to both reasonableness and openness to learn? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not me…

              • Tildeb,
                You said, “I am wide open to reality showing me compelling evidence to inform any reasons I may have to accept your claims about it.” I have the thought, “You can’t get there from here”. When you come to the ocean’s edge in a car, you can go no further without a boat. For some, their journey ends at the ocean’s edge, and for others, the draw of the sea and what is on the other side compels them to seek a way beyond what they currently know or can conceive. The car is great for navigating the nation’s roads, but useless for crossing the Atlantic. Physical evidence alone will not lead you to faith in God. It will only lead you to the point of realizing you are at the ocean’s edge with questions that cannot be answered in your current mode. You’ve not yet come to the end of yourself. True knowledge of God – a knowledge that begins at the heart level, rather than the head (though the head will follow) takes a revelation from God Himself, and it begins with humility, with a simple and sincere request for God to reveal himself to you, and that you will acknowledge and walk in what he reveals to you. I am not speaking of digging through the various religious writings and trying to figure one out from another. Religion is not the place to start either. I am speaking of beginning with God from a heart of integrity, and proceeding as He reveals and leads. RT

              • Tildeb,
                You said, “RT, I’m not the one pretending to know stuff I don’t know anything about. You are. You are pretending to know about god, his nature, his desires, his intentions, his purpose for you, his actions, his characteristics and preferences, yada, yada, yada.” What I know, I do not know by my own smarts. Nor have I acquired it through my own goodness or righteousness. What I know is by the revelation of God that began with calling out to Him at a point in my life of being ready to receive what was beyond myself. I also, by the way, was caught up with being smart, engineering school, and the like. The apostle Paul was a very learned and esteemed man in his day. But he said, ”
                Phil 3:7-8
                7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
                8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
                (NIV)

                I know that everything the Lord has ever asked from me has resulted in a greater treasure beyond my understanding at the time of my loss. The Christian is in a constant process of exchanging the temporal for the eternal. God invites every one of us upon this journey. I guarantee you it is a very costly journey, but with rewards beyond compare.

                There is nothing that I know about God that you cannot know about God, though since you are a different individual with different strengths, weaknesses, and purposes known only to God, God would take you on a different path than me, teaching you different aspects of Himself depending on how he wants to reveal his glory through you.
                RT

    • And to tack on further to what tildeb said re “even as men are willing to believe that life sprang from non-life given enough time and chance, even though we have zero evidence of this happening in what we can see and observe.”
      This is NOT what “some men believe”. This is what you THINK the atheist position is. I’ve tried to explain this to you several posts ago but it appears as though I labored in vain to make my point. Such men DO NOT believe that the universe was created by a supervising creator, and certainly not one that loves each and every one of us and has a plan for us. People like Dawkins and Krauss, et al, REJECT explanations that are superstitious and supernatural nonsense and are searching for REAL answers to the question of the mystery of the universe. They, like me, say I DON’T KNOW when asked how the universe and life on our planet came into existence. They DO NOT say “I know there’s no god and all of this came about by random chance” The burden of proof IS NOT on them to prove that there is no god and all of this came about by random chance. The burden of proof is on YOU to prove that you’ve got the riddle of the universe all figured out. You and your kind have failed in that regard.

      • Ashley,
        You keep referring to the “burden of proof” as if by the way we frame our phrases burdens us or excuses us. In matters of the eternal, each man’s burden is ultimately his own. How you, or I frame our sentences neither burdens us or lets us off the hook. I believe that each man will stand before God and give an account for his life, so I live accordingly and accept the “burden” of its implications for this life. You do not, and, I assume, accept its risks and possible implications beyond this life. Each man bears the burden of his own belief system apart from whatever anyone else believes. We exit this life as individuals, not as groups, with each man dying by different means and at different times. Dying, in and of itself, is a lonely affair – between us an what is on the others side. No one from this life comes with us. My engaging you and others comes from the fact that given what I have experienced of God, and my full persuasion of both God and an afterlife in one of two eternal places that differ as much as any two places can possibly differ, I quite reasonably feel a burden of sorts to urge others to consider their life in view of such things. But my burden in this is like one who stops to help someone change a tire. We may offer to assist but it’s their problem.

        • RT,

          You claim that you know that the Christian God is the creator of the universe and that you are on personal terms with him and communicate with him on a daily basis. The Burden of Proof is ON YOU to prove that that is the case. “I believe that each man will stand before God and give an account for his life, so I live accordingly and accept the “burden” of its implications for this life. You do not, and, I assume, accept its risks and possible implications beyond this life.” No I don’t, because neither you, nor anyone else has PROVEN to me that 1) ANY god exists and 2) An afterlife exists. You can BELIEVE that nonsense all you want. You haven’t provided a single shred of PROOF that any of your beliefs are true.

          • The “truth” about ANYTHING is completely dependant on proof. Otherwise, anyone could make up any bullshit they want, say “just you wait and see” and call it “the truth”. You can say “the truth will testify on its own behalf in due season” (aka “just you wait and see!!!!”) until you’re blue in the face. It doesn’t make ANYTHING you say TRUE.

            • I actually have to agree with Thunder on this one, Ashley. His premise is quite true. The truth of things is not dependent on the proof we use to define it. Truth is independent completely from proof. Our perception of truth is what is dependent on evidence and proof, and this is where your point of claiming truth in things, especially spiritual things, which are purely personally perceptable, and not provable in a universally observable sense, comes in. Another reason why I still say that it is both the burden of the believer to give evidence to prove god as their perception of truth, and burden of the non-believer to give evidence to prove the perception of the universe as truth.

          • Oh my dear sweet Rana. I am afraid you have gotten things completely upside down with your last post. Anyone that makes ANY claim is making either a true or a false statement. Yes, our perceptions might be different (some people might actually accept the bible as “proof” for example that there’s a creator of the universe but that still doesn’t make it true), and in some cases, we may not have all the information to say that a claim is neither false nor true but the truth or falsity of the claim is independent of individual perceptions. I’ve already described what makes something true. A scientific theory for example must pass very rigorous tests in order to be considered a theory. A claim of “spiritual healing” should be able to pass clinical trials to determine whether or not its effective – whether or not the claimants are making a true statement.
            You are only half right in your last statement. You are in error when you say that the non-believer is burdened with “giving evidence to prove the perception of the universe as truth.”. You’ve given it away right from the get-go. The NON-believer (someone who doesn’t believe) is not required to prove anything because they DON’T believe anything. Remaining assumption free and belief free relieves you of having to prove or disprove anything. I dare say that you don’t believe in unicorns and live your life as if there are no unicorns. Are you required to prove that unicorns don’t exist in order to not believe in them? I think not. So then why would someone who doesn’t believe in god have to disprove god’s existence in order to live his/her life as if there is no god? The answer is he/she doesn’t. They’re not making a claim, they’re just calling the believers claim a pile of unsubstantiated, made-up horse shit, which is exactly what it is.
            So to sum it up, if you ask RT how the universe came to be, he’ll claim he knows the answer to that question and that he has “the truth”. I say, he’s full of shit. He can’t have his claim tested, falsified, use it to make predictions or have it peer reviewed. If you ask me how the universe came to be, I’ll say “I haven’t the slightest idea and hopefully I’ll find out someday but I may never know. It’s the ONLY honest answer anyone can give to a question like that.

            • Ashley, please refrain from the ‘dear sweet’ phrases. My mother does that to me when she feels I’m being a naive little twit, so it has nothing but a patronizing attitude behind it when I see or hear it.

              As for the actual topic, I still don’t agree. The world exists as a truth whether we observe it to be such or not. Gravity existed before man ‘discovered’ it. America was the same way. The new species of tapir they found in the Amazon lived there before we saw it there. This is what I mean by truth exists independently from proof. Proof is merely our repeatable and agreed upon observations which make truth known to us.

              You said, ” The NON-believer (someone who doesn’t believe) is not required to prove anything because they DON’T believe anything. Remaining assumption free and belief free relieves you of having to prove or disprove anything.” I’m not saying you have to prove that god does not exist. I’m saying that god is a hypothetical answer to a question. In saying, “No, god does not exist,” you leave the question unanswered, that question being the origin of life in the universe. Just because you dismiss one answer as wrong doesn’t mean you don’t have a burden to attempt to answer the question with a different hypothesis. Now, I’m not saying that you personally don’t offer an alternative, that alternative being scientific discovery and advancement. I’m saying that by pursuing science and the scientific answers to our world, you have excepted a burden of proof, which is science itself.

              This burden, however, is not a creation of truth, but a revealing of truth. Again, the truth of the universe – be it god or science – exists independently from our observation of that truth. For people of faith, their beliefs are proof for them individually, and so their ‘truth’ is personal, not universal. Sadly, many faithful consider admitting this fact as blasphemous against their ‘truth.’ If it is truth for them, it must be truth for all, yes? Wrong. I can say that I grew up with a ghost in my house who woke me up every morning for school a couple minutes before my alarm. (True story, btw.) To me, this is a truth of my past and a truth about my (now my parents’) home. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm every morning for almost 8 years, and in my blurry morning eyes I saw a little boy in the corner of my room. I can’t prove this to anyone, and trust me, after trying to prove it to my mother, I’ve given up trying. No one in the world needs to believe me, and can call my claims false all day. But I know what I saw every morning for those 8 years. I can ignore my own senses, or I can claim a personal truth, based on personal evidence and proof, which although real to me, cannot be proven to any other person in the world unless they just take my word for it. A universal consensus does not truth make.

              This is why I still hold to the idea that I have no universal opinion about the existence of god. I can see how a faithful person could ‘know truth’ about god, without having the ability to prove it. That doesn’t make them right, but in telling them they are wrong, I am dismissing their personal evidence, which I have no authority to call false, because I have no ability to observe it. In the same way, a scientific theory is just that, a theory. Unless it is called a proof, and agreed upon as such with all peoples, there is always some question unanswered in that theory, or a contradictory theory which holds the same amount of weight, which suggests to me that there’s the possibility of failure and falsehood. Either side could be right or could be wrong, and we’re simply, as human beings, not in the position to know yet.

              Your final point does allow for a dismissal of burden of proof, yes, in saying, ” If you ask me how the universe came to be, I’ll say “I haven’t the slightest idea and hopefully I’ll find out someday but I may never know.” It’s the ONLY honest answer anyone can give to a question like that.” You are absolutely right, I think, in saying no one can give an honest yes or no to this question. The problem it comes down, in terms of this conversation, then, is convincing Thunder that it is not the entire concept of god which you dismiss, it is the concept of HIS god being the truth of god. If you admit the possibility of a god, any god, as a possibility, albeit an unlikely one, then you’re fine to say you have no burden of proof upon you, because you are not making a claim about the existence of life and the universe, you are simply weighing the given options. If you claim, however, that the concept of god is absolutely not a possibility, then you are dismissing a claim, and therefore are left with the burden of proof for what is to replace god, i.e. science, and use that science to prove your point that god is not an option.

              • At the risk of being pedantic (a risk I will take), I wanted to comment briefly on this:

                In the same way, a scientific theory is just that, a theory. Unless it is called a proof, and agreed upon as such with all peoples, there is always some question unanswered in that theory, or a contradictory theory which holds the same amount of weight, which suggests to me that there’s the possibility of failure and falsehood.

                Proofs are based only within an axiomatic system (logic, math, etc) where premises are assumed to be true. The method of science is to try to figure out if hypotheses deserve more or less confidence because they accurately, reliably, and consistently explain how reality operates. I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know but I think it warrants a revisit because you make a fundamental mistake qualifying a scientific theory with the colloquial meaning of maybe/maybe not. This is not true.

                A scientific theory is exactly the opposite of this: it contains the very highest level of confidence as an explanation. It’s a good rule of thumb to always replace the term ‘theory’ in scientific jargon with the term ‘an explanation that has met all challenges to it’. In this sense, a scientific theory deserves our greatest respect for it has undergone the most rigorous process imaginable to reach this exalted status. You can (and do… all the time) bet your life on these theories being right. (That’s why you can read these words.) It is these explanations that inform the technologies, therapies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time. If these explanations are wrong (and it’s always a possibility) then it means some other explanation must be at least its equal in practical terms and must equivalently explain all the stuff based on them. If we don;t remember this understanding, then we make a huge error is assigning something like the theory of evolution to be equivalent to creationism, forgetting that creationism has undergone nothing even remotely similar and in equivalent terms can’t lick the ground on which evolutionary theory has long since taken. Perhaps this explains why more three time the number of Americans believe in demonic possession than those who understand why evolution is true. And isn’t that a sad, sad, sad commentary on the state of human knowledge and appreciate which ideas deserve or don’t deserve our confidence.

              • Rana,
                I can see by the skinny little posts that you’ve expanded the levels of replies. Thank you! After reading your post it will be difficult to resist replying to our “dear sweet Ashley”.
                I believe you in regard to the phenomena about the ghost. I’m curious what your take is on it. My concern is that it was a demonic apparition of some sort. I wonder if there was some sort of occultic history either in the house or in your family somewhere. Anyway, did you see the real estate ad for the “slightly haunted house” on Yahoo? It was hilarious. It read,

                “Built in 1901, this Victorian home in the Hollywood section of Dunmore features 1850 sf of liging space with an additional 1350 sf of partially finished space. Original hardwood floors throughout entire home. 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms. Off-street parking. New moulding throughout entire first floor. Slightly haunted. Nothing serious, though. E.g. The sounds of phantom footsteps. A strange knocking sound followed by a very quiet (hardly noticeable, even) scream at 3:31am, maybe once a week. Twice a week, tops. And the occasional ghastly visage lurking behind you in the bathroom mirror. Even still, this occurs very rarely and only in the second floor bathroom. First floor fetures: Larege living room with an open staircase, stanglass window and a large picture window…”
                What a riot. I love how he inserts it in the middle of the regular description, states the problem and goes on to minimize it. I especially like the part about, “A strange knocking sound followed by a very quiet (hardly noticeable, even) scream at 3:31am, maybe once a week. Twice a week, tops.” Somebody has a sense of humor!

                But seriously, Rana, that ghost you were talking about: I’ve heard of these things pertaining to people who have had some sort of connection somewhere to the occult, often inadvertently. Normally these things do not manifest unless a door was opened to them somewhere, sometimes a generation or more back. This may sound strange to you, but Satan does not play fair, and takes advantage of the young the weak, of people’s fears, loneliness – anything and everything. The eight year duration of this I find particularly troubling, and have question whether there are roots that are currently influencing your life in ways you may not be aware. I’m thinking the fantasy writing, and so on. This is just a statement of concern for you to think about and tuck away. Again, Scripture tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. I’ve known people who had some sort of difficulty or bondage in their life, confusion, etc., and it traced back to these sorts of things.

              • My take on the ghost from my house is this: when I was young, I took my dog for a typical walk in the woods off the back of my parents’ property. Back there, my dog went a little farther than usual, and when I caught up with her, there was a huge stump in the woods, and a boy in very old-time clothes with a hatchet sitting there. My dog began to growl at a bush nearby, and when I looked, the barrel of a gun was sticking out of it, aimed at the boy. There was a shot, no echo, and both the boy and the gun were gone. I went home stunned, and studied up on the history of our land, and found a very old newspaper clip in the library of a boy gone missing around the same area. From that point of witnessing his death on, he would wake me up just before my alarm every morning. He was very nice, though he never made a sound. I’d talk to him every morning, tell him about my day the day before, and that was it. I see no reason at all to jump to such an assumption that this was some satanic situation. Either I just had a hell of an imagination as a kid or he was the ghost of a poor child who was mercilessly killed.

              • So Rana,

                In response to this “Either I just had a hell of an imagination as a kid or he was the ghost of a poor child who was mercilessly killed”.
                Now employing the method espoused by David Hume, ask yourself the following question: Which is more likely? – That the laws of nature have been suspended before your very eyes OR you are/were under a misapprehension? To put it another way, do you think you really saw a ghost OR did you just have an overactive imagination? It seems to me very obvious that in both cases, the latter conclusion is the overwhelmingly more probable outcome.

              • Rana,

                I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to be patronizing but I am afraid that some of your earlier writings WERE very naive and somewhat uninformed. The “just a theory” argument is one that I see put forth, usually by people of faith all the time. It’s a dead give away that the word “scientific theory” is not understood by the person using the “just a theory” phrase. Tildeb has done an excellent job of explaining what a theory is an the rigorous standards that must be met in order for a hypothesis to become a theory so there’s no need for me to expland.
                Now as far as this statement goes “Just because you dismiss one answer as wrong doesn’t mean you don’t have a burden to attempt to answer the question with a different hypothesis”. I’m sorry, but you’re just plain wrong. I don’t HAVE to answer the question at all. I don’t HAVE to provide any hypotheis whatsoever. I simply say that “I don’t know”. I don’t know because there is insufficient information to give a conrete answer to that question. There are hypothesises (say abiogenisis) but they are not scientific theories as of yet because they have not met the burden of proof as described by Tildeb to be called a scientific theory and therefore cannot be considered a complete answer. And please note, what something like RT is proposing is not a “hypothesis”. It’s being labelled as “the truth”. Revealed truth from a supernatural authority that cannot be questioned. It doesn’t even pass the laugh test, nevermind scrutiny of any kind.
                Now as to your last paragraph in which you state “The problem it comes down, in terms of this conversation, then, is convincing Thunder that it is not the entire concept of god which you dismiss, it is the concept of HIS god being the truth of god” I am afraid you have made a parody of the problem and completely reversed the definition of the true problem. I do not have to convince Thunder of ANYTHING. HE’S the one who’s got to convince ME that HE’S speaking “the truth”. That’s the entire concept of the burden of proof. He’s the one making the claim, not me.
                I have never and will never claim “that the concept of god is absolutely not a possibility” because in doing so, I would be placing an unbelievable burden on myself to show that ANY god doesn’t exist. I readily admit to you here and now that there could very well be a god that is responsible for all of this. I’ve said this to you before. This god, IF he exists, is cruel, incompetent,wasteful, caprious, indifferent and callous at a bare minimum. Now it could very well be that such a god exists. If someone is willing to say so, then to that I say “Prove it”. Demonstrate to me that this god exists and we’ll have nothing left to argue about. Thousands and thousands of years in the making and I have yet to see a single shred of evidence nor have I heard an even remotely plausible argument. However, I’ll not be accused of being impatient. Anyone that believes they’ve solved the riddle of the mystery of the universe is free to present their evidence for any time they like. I’ll wait.

              • No trouble about the patronizing thing. Some people can take it as a laugh, I just have a preconceived bias against the terminology that you would not have known had I not said something, that’s all.

                As for the idea of scientific theory, I’m not denying to you or to Tildeb that scientific theories do not have a lot of support behind them, a lot of proofs and evidence to support them. That is a given, and I would never suggest that we completely ignore these theories as possibilities. All I’m saying to this is that theories are not always completely concrete. The Big Bang Theory is not a definite answer. It is a proven fact that the Big Bang happened, yes, but the continuation of that theory as a starting point for the origin of life is not as concrete as the proof of its existence as an event. Yes, there are rigorous standards, as you say, which when met, allow a hypothesis to be deemed a theory. This does not make a theory a truth. Yes, a scientific theory is an explanation which has met all challenges, as Tildeb graciously and very properly defined. This still allows for challenge. I’m not saying that scientific theories should be ignored, not by any means. I’m simply saying that there is still a minute amount of trust to be given to scientific theories which is not necessary for other, very basic aspects of human perceived reality, such as the fact that grass is green. So long as scientific theories have the ability to be challenged by other scientific hypotheses or theories, there always remains that minute amount of trust versus truth.

                As for your statement of, “I don’t know,” I can agree with you only to a point. You see, I concede that the Christian option of the image of god, although highly unlikely as a truth, may be that truth. I do not directly deny that the Christian god is an option. I have seen you say, “If your god is the real god, then…” to Thunder before, but it seems you always immediately say, “…but your god isn’t real,” or some phrase like it. I’m saying that, if you say, “I don’t know,” and use this phrase as an escape from the burden of proof, then you can’t deny any of the options which exist. In doing do, you suggest an aspect of ‘knowledge’ is ‘knowing’ that one of the options which could answer the question of the origin of life is false. In saying, “The Christian god is completely wrong and no longer a possible option to the question of the origin of life,” you no longer have the stance of knowing nothing. You know that the Christian god is not the truth, and in that, you express knowledge of the stipulations surrounding the origin of life. My point in saying you must prove something to Thunder is not to prove your stance on god, but to prove that, despite not liking or wanting to accept Thunder’s image of god, and having many logical arguments to refute that god, that you still accept that god as a possible answer to the question of the origin of life. Thunder refuses to admit to the ‘truth’ of your views, your opinion on the subject. He refuses to acknowledge the truth that you are willing to accept the possibility that his god exists, you simply don’t believe that his god is the truth of things. This is what I’m saying you need to ‘prove’ to him, or at least state outright to him.

              • Rana,

                I would think that a simple examination of the world around us would refute (disprove actually) the existence of a specific Christian god. A Christian god is supposed to be omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent. IF the Christian god exists and loves each and every one of us and wishes us nothing but happiness AND is the most powerful being in the universe, please explain the following: Hurricanes, Tsunamis and Tornadoes that kill men women and innocent children by the thousands every year. Children who are born with or develop cancer, brain tumours or other terrible diseases and die before their 5th birthday by the thousands every year. Either god can do nothing about this, or he doesn’t care to. In either scenario, he is NOT omniscient, omnipotent or omni-benevolent. There is no “free will” answer that fundamentalist Christians like to use to get out of this predicament. Where’s god when all of this is going on? He loves us all but sits idly by while children suffer of terrible diseases and die every single day? NONSENSE.
                The god that I say COULD be responsible for all of this, is the exact opposite of a loving, intervening Christian god. It’s a god that doesn’t care about us, is a bungling incompetent designer, doesn’t care how many of us die every day and how we die, doesn’t care how we treat each other and doesn’t interfere in human affairs. This concept of god is completely incompatible with the Christian concept of god. So to answer your question, no I don’t accept that Thunder’s imagine of god is a possible answer to the question of life. There is no possible way to reconcile reality with the concept of a Christian god.

              • And yet Thunder manages to reconcile, whether you agree with his reconciliation or not. Millions of people reconcile this world according to a Christian god, in some way another. It’s not a perfect reconciliation, it’s not an agreeable reconciliation, nor a completely provable reconciliation. But they do reconcile.

                And again, to completely deny the possibility that the Christian god can be an option, you must have some basis on which to make this determination, which suggests you have knowledge of the parameters by which the answer to the question of the origin of life is limited by. You offer those parameters in your comment here: ” a god that doesn’t care about us, is a bungling incompetent designer, doesn’t care how many of us die every day and how we die, doesn’t care how we treat each other and doesn’t interfere in human affairs.” This is a suggestion of knowledge regarding the concept of god. If you use these parameters to completely refute the Christian god as an option, then you present an opinion of knowledge regarding the existence of god, which refutes your claim of, “I don’t know.” You can argue against the probability that the Christian god is the answer to the origin of life (I do this all the time), but to directly deny the Christian god as an option is still to suggest some knowledge about the truth regarding the concept of god which refutes the Christian god as a possibility.

              • Ashley,
                I don’t have to persuade you of squat. And neither does God. God does not buckle to your demands for proof, or your demands for anything for that matter. Go on in your way, if you wish.

              • RT,

                If you’re going to preach on this website every single day about how we need to “surrender” to god and if you’re going to assert that “god does not buckle to your demands for proof or demands for anything for that matter.”, you most certainly do need to PROVE he exists and demonstrate how you’ve come to acquire this knowledge. Until you do, I will continue to dismiss your assertions as the crackpot nonsense that they are. Your statements are MEANINGLESS.

              • Rana,

                Now you’re just F’n with me right? RT reconciles reality with the concept of a Christian god? It might not be perfectly agreeable or completely plausible but it does reconcile with reality. Are you kidding me?!?!?! He doesn’t reconcile ANYTHING. He uses inane banter, illogical nonsense, logical fallacies, cognitive dissonance, ignorance and just plain old stupidity to EXPLAIN AWAY all of the direct contradictions to the possibility of a Christian god!!!!!!! I’ve already laid out a very small sample of some of those contradictions and there’s plenty more where that came from if you like. The holocaust, genocides, World Wars. An omniscient, omnipotent Omni-benevolent god watches all of this go down and does NOTHING to stop it? How in the world can you possibly say these horrors have occurred AND a Christian god is a plausible explanation for the creation and governance of life on earth. This concept and reality are completely and totally INCOMPATIBLE. There could be a god that watched all of this happen, but it certainly CANNOT be a Christian god.
                Ask yourself which is more likel – that a Christian god exists? – which commits you to having to come up preposterous illogical explanation after preposterous illogical explanation (for which you have ZERO evidence) OR there is no Christian god looking out for us and we’re on our own?
                Of the 2 choices I’ve given you, which do you think is the more likely scenario? It seems to me that the clear, lucid answer is staring you in the face – it’s available to all. The concept of a Christian god is man-made nonsense.

              • Ashely, the whole purpose of my view on life and god is that both the choices you present are possible. I take no liberties in assuming which is more likely, and I don’t have to like the choices to consider them as possibilities. My point to you is that, just because you don’t like the option, doesn’t mean it can be eliminated as an option.

              • Ashley,
                You said, “The holocaust, genocides, World Wars. An omniscient, omnipotent Omni-benevolent god watches all of this go down and does NOTHING to stop it? How in the world can you possibly say these horrors have occurred AND a Christian god is a plausible explanation for the creation and governance of life on earth.” First, you are confusing the Christian God with your idea of the politically correct god of tolerance. Why does God not stop these things? Because He has created man in His image, with such significance that man truly can affect things for great good or terrible evil in this world. When God delegates, He does not reverse things just because we’ve made a mess of them. The nature of good and evil is that it does affect others, and God wants us to understand that thoroughly. In order for mankind to see the results of his actions, God lets them play out. What you are calling God watching things go down and doing nothing is God’s amazing restraint in the interest of higher purposes. In this life we see both nobility, love, honor, and the very best that man is capable of, and also the wretched, horrible, cruel, and depraved. God allows us to keep these in full view so that we can make our eternal choices accordingly. The good we see – friendship, unity, a shared meal, beauty, etc., is a small foretaste of heaven, and the evil we see – “holocausts, genocides, world wars” as you point out, but a small taste of hell. There is a saying, that life here on earth is the most of hell the believer will ever know, and the most of heaven the unbeliever will ever know. If Hell is real, as I am warning you, then it is very important that God leave us with a pretty good taste of what it’s about. If God allowed for all enjoyment and no negative consequences for walking contrary to Him, we would be totally unprepared for the coming judgment. And if it were all evil, no matter what we did, we would have no sense of reward for seeking and honoring God. Remember also, that both the pleasures of this life and the horrors of it are only a fleeting moment – a tiny pin-prick in all of eternity. Trillions of years from now it will not matter if you lived on earth slave or free, rich or poor, whole of body or maimed. What will matter is your eternal state, and how you handled both good and evil in respect to God and to eternity while you were here.
                RT

              • Rana,

                I don’t know where this “because you don’t like it” argument is coming from. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re taking a page out of the Classic Christian Apologetics 101 text book. “Just because you don’t like it or don’t agree with it, doesn’t mean it can’t be true!” It’s got NOTHING to do with whether or not I “like” it. It’s got EVERYTHING to do with whether or not it conflicts with reality – and it does. There is either a god who loves us all and is the ultimate power in the universe OR the holocaust happens. Both CAN’T be true. I’ve said this already. God can either do nothing to stop it, or he doesn’t care to. If he can’t stop it, he’s not omnipotent. If he doesn’t care to stop it, he’s not omnibenevolent. That is cold hard reality staring you in the face.
                What you get is a god that lets the holocaust happen and then says “Don’t worry, I’ll see to it that the perpetrators are punished afterwards and the good people get their ultimate reward” That kind of a god is a cruel, sadistic, EVIL mother*&^%er, NOT a Christian god.

              • Ashley,
                Will you, as a mere man, really pass sentence on God? Do you understand His motives? Can you resist His power? Are you wiser than your Creator? Do you think you could possibly understand anything better than He who made you? Job, a man God considered the most upright man in all the earth, under testing began demonstrating that he thought he knew better than God. God let Job run for 37 chapters before speaking to Job, but when God finally did speak, notice the dynamics, and notice what it means to be dressed down before Almighty God. And here God is only speaking to Job according to Job’s understanding. Whatever you think you know, according to modern science, etc., God would address you that on a level that would certainly put you in your place and leave you dumbfounded! God’s address to Job begins in Job 38 and ends in Job 40. I’ve only selected parts of it because of the length, but you can read it in its entirety if you care to.

                Job 38:
                1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
                2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
                3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
                4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
                5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
                6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–
                7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
                8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,
                9 when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness,
                10 when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place,
                11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
                12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,
                13 that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?
                16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
                17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?
                18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
                19 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
                20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
                21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
                22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,
                23 which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?
                24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
                31 “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion?
                32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
                33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
                36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?
                Job 39
                19 “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?
                20 Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?
                21 He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.
                22 He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.
                23 The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.
                24 In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
                25 At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
                26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south?
                27 Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?

                Job 40
                1 The LORD said to Job:
                2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!”
                3 Then Job answered the LORD:
                4 “I am unworthy– how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.
                5 I spoke once, but I have no answer– twice, but I will say no more.”
                6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
                7 “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
                8 “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
                11 Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low,
                12 look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand.
                13 Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave.
                14 Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.

                Your comment to Ran demonstrates to me a defiance of God, a judging of God, and a claim to know better than God, much more that a “disbelief, as you say. Perhaps these issues of the heart, rather than evidences of the mind, are what you are really dealing with.
                RT

              • Dressed down? Put in your place? Ha!

                Job asks a reasonable question and gets bullied in return. What a benevolent god. YHWH never answers the question, did you notice? So much for ‘explaining’ the problem of suffering.

                Yes, we can question god about why we suffer and this is exactly what we’ll get for our trouble from The Big Guy: nada.

                Look, Job is a character in a book that is a compilation of Sumerian and Babylonian stories (the language indicates this and parts can be shown to have independent existence prior to this compilation). Because there is pretty good evidence each of the characters mentioned represent sort of ‘schools of thought’ about suffering (and a character who is not introduced but asks the more intriguing questions), we can safely assume that this story was rewritten for jews in the quest to reunite in religious form from various occupied states. To assert that the story is historical is ridiculous; it is a typical and heavily edited ‘wisdom’ book of the times. We don’t know why we suffer before reading the book and are no further ahead after reading it (the Book of Job certainly doesn’t tell us why): that’s the way of the world and we respond to its challenges as best we can and sometimes things work out okay. That’s it.

              • Tildeb,
                I see you’ve been on Wikipedia to gather an argument for your reply. How many High School English Comp teachers will accept this as a valid source? You grab some source that says what you want to hear, though you no nothing about it, have studied none of their basis or contrary opinions, and run with it. It also says here, “While these and other ancient Near Eastern texts consider comparable issues, scholars have not found their direct antecedent. However, the similarity between the central concerns of Job and those of certain ancient Babylonian and Egyptian texts reveals a shared interest in the question of why the innocent suffer.” Now who would be surprised that among suffering mankind that various themes on suffering would not have arisen over the years and in just about every culture?
                And we sure do know more about suffering after reading. We see their is a spiritual battle first, of all, with Satan’s hand in the whole thing. We see that God allows is because Satan has legal rights, given man’s sin. We see that God works it for good, and uses it to reveal the man’s heart to himself (God has no need to test. The test is so that WE might know what is in our hearts) We see also that after testing that God is gracious, who restored double to Job, even as Paul said that the sufferings of this present world are not worth being compared to the glory which will be revealed in us. What Job gained from that testing set him free to really live, perhaps, for the first time.
                And God did answer the real question, which we can see that Jesus often did in the gospels. Jesus would speak right to the heart of the issue. Job’s vulnerability to Satan was his self-righteousness, which brings fear (Job was even sacrificing IN CASE his children sinned!) Fear and faith are polar opposites. Fear invites evil and gives it place. (Not to be confused with the fear of God, which is another subject) In fact the New Testament speaks of taking the “shield of faith” against evil.
                If your thinking is like Job’s, considering Job’s question legitimate, perhaps it takes something on the order of a Job experience to cure it. It is evident that you consider yourself sufficient to to judge God. I’d say, “Good luck with that one”, except no amount of luck will help you with it.
                RT

              • Sorry to disappoint, RT, but I wrote a third year annotated thesis paper on Job and did a bunch of research on its biblical scholarship… specifically how well the original language translated into KJ version and then compared it to what the Dead Sea Scrolls provided. We see a very clear difference in language within the beginning and end bits of Job (the ending never made any sense to me… as if wife and children are easily replaceable, for crying out loud) versus the middle prose. Because my seminar prof was a linguist, she was particularly interested in this scholarship and provided some of her own further references for me to follow clearly demonstrating no fewer than two authors separated by many centuries (because language evolves, donchaknow). So don’t assume those who disagree with you do so because of some lack of understanding or academic shortcoming; someday you may discover that those who disagree with you do so for very good reasons that you don;t understand.

              • “Will you, as a mere man, really pass sentence on God? Do you understand His motives? Can you resist His power? Are you wiser than your Creator? Do you think you could possibly understand anything better than He who made you?”
                RT are you, as a mere man telling me that you understand god? That you know his mind? That you can tell me what god wants? That you have an advantage over me because you have access to divine knowledge that’s been withheld from me? As long as you don’t call it modesty, I don’t mind. As long as you don’t call it humility, I don’t mind.

              • Tildeb,
                Regarding your remark about the wife and children being easily replaceable, you are certainly judging God on incredibly short-term criteria. (By the way, it was only the children that died. His wretched wife who said, “Why don’t you curse God and die survived to torment him!” Figures!)
                I apologize for attributing your knowledge to Wikipedia. I do want to say this, however: As long as I’ve watched documentaries on the Bible, I’ve seen research from two entirely different spirits, and the one with the humanistic mindset always seemed to begin from man and end with man. In other words, they get what they want from their research. That, in general is the problem I have in regard to much research in regard to the past. I even have Christian friends who have a direct problem with a particular verse in the Bible (Say, Scripture’s prohibition of women in direct governing roles in the church, in which they begin with the assumption that the verse cannot possibly mean what what it so obviously says ) They reference certain Hebrew and Greek words, thrown in various studies that are build on other studies, make unbelievable cultural assumptions about the past, and then, as if by magic, come up with what they wanted to believe in the first place, and Scripture no longer says what a fifth grader can understand it to mean. Here is what I wrote to this Christian friend of mine (And I was just at his house tonight in a fellowship group!) You might also find it a bit entertaining:
                Imagine a woman finding a manuscript in the glove compartment of her newly purchased used car. The paper is a set of directions to the farm I used to own near Central Manor, beginning from Route 30. They read as follows: “Traveling east on Route 30, get off at the Mountville exit, turn right, then take another right onto Columbia Avenue. Go two blocks and turn left onto Central Manor Rd. Turn left onto Manor Church Rd. and go around the pond on the left. Turn left into a stone lane just before Seitz Rd., and the farm is straight ahead in about 700 feet. You will see a beige Silo in front of you.” Now imagine that this person really doesn’t want to go to some farm in Lancaster County at all, but prefers to go to Paris, her lifelong dream destination. (And I admit I had a little fun with this one, but I am nevertheless deadly serious as to what I see going on in the spirit.) She now reinterprets these directions in view of her desired haven: Route 30 was the first major highway to span the country in the east-west direction, so we can simply take this to mean, “Go east”, rather than east on a particular highway. Now “Mountville” contains the word, “ville”, and could refer to any town or city, not necessarily the specific town of “Mountville” which is off Route 30. Further, people used to travel overland by a horse, or “mount”. Today, some call their motorcycle their “mount”, so this could simply be referring to any means of transportation (bus, car, etc). So this can be taken to mean, “Travel to a town or city” According to Wikipedia, “ville” can have a secondary implication as a verb, which means, “want to, to be willing to, shall, or will”, as in, “I ville go to Paris!” We can ignore references to “Central Manor Rd. and Columbia avenue, given that with the major contextual thrust of traveling east, we can dismiss these in light of the fact that the author could not possibly mean to turn onto Central Manor Rd. when he is trying to get you to Paris! After traveling east by horse (or by vehicle, as we explained), we come to the “pond”. A “pond” here means merely “a body of water”, and this is clearly speaking of the Atlantic Ocean because there is no other body of water when you are done traveling east by horse or vehicle! Harry Truman once quipped to his daughter that going places as president was like moving a circus, “It seems to take two war ships to get your Pa across the pond.” He was clearly speaking of crossing the Atlantic Ocean because he was en route to the meeting of the “Big Three in Potsdam, Germany, to discuss postwar considerations and how to bring the Japanese to surrender. (And I’m sounding pretty knowledgeable and authoritative by now, quotes and all, am I not? But I’m so far off the mark, that it makes all my knowledge and quotes utter nonsense! ) This brings us to the beige Silo. Now a silo can refer to any kind of tower, and a person familiar with Paris would not say “Eiffel Tower” because everyone would assume the “tower” to mean the prevalent tower in Paris. And we know it could not refer to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, because Italians, among whom are brilliant scientific minds like Leonardo Da Vinci, are always very specific in their references to towers. (Unlike the French, who are very emotional, and gave us the blurry, vague, art form of Impressionism) What’s more, the Eiffel tower is beige in color in the Parisian sunset, and any traveler of this time would set their plans to arrive at sunset – while it is still light, and with time to find their hotel, unpack and get a good night’s rest. The writer of the directions would have known this and would have known his audience!” So we can be sure that this “beige silo” refers to the Eiffel tower. So now you would end up in a different nation on a different continent, but magically, at the very destination where you wanted to be – Paris! I believe that these teachings you are putting forth, in a similar manner and by similar motivation will lead you and those who subscribe to them to places that fulfill you desired haven, but are far, far from God’s intended plan. And make no mistake, if those directions had begun with traveling on Route 30 going West, instead of East, we’d have somehow worked it to traveling west until we came to the Pacific ocean, crossing it and circumnavigating the globe until we arrived at Paris from the other direction. Given certain assumptions, “minor details” would have been ruled out as being inconsistent with the spirit of getting to Paris – the initial false assumption. We can also “assume” from the lack of return trip directions, that we are meant to move to Paris permanently! Sacre bleu! (The French term of exclamation)[A private joke about something else I picked apart with this friend in regard to exclamations, but wont’ explain here] It all comes together in accordance with her wildest dreams! Honest, [Name omitted], it sounds just like that to me, and I’m not trying to belittle you. I suppose to just follow the directions and literally turn onto Manor Church Rd., etc. would be too crude and too straight-forward for someone of more refined tastes with their sights on Paris!
                Amazingly, we’re still friends. When it comes to the past, this is precisely what I see, and it almost doesn’t matter which discipline we are speak of or who is doing the research. History is sketchy, we have oral tradition involved, and a great deal of fill-in work. The human mind has a very difficult time resisting filling in the gaps according to its own paradigm. What’s more, in the myriad of research, it hard to get a clear standard for piecing it together, weighing assumptions, and so on.
                RT.

              • And this is exactly why I rely on biblical scholarship rather than layman interpretation by believers. There are important considerations to be applied to any ancient texts that are then used consistently across all of them so that the scholarly interpretation can be duplicated and equivalently tested. History is not a matter of interpretation but of explanations that must fit the data not by this person or that but as an academic discipline. That is why it’s so important to appreciate the extent of interpretation applied to the bible you use, interpretations of interpretations of translations of oral tradition and so on. What you read today is often far removed from the original, which is why the central pursuit of historians is to find source material… in the case of the OT, the Dead Sea Scrolls in particular). And that’s why those who quote today’s scripture as if it were the voice of god are often oblivious to what that rendition has gone through to reach those hands. And this matters if people are going to continue insisting on biblical inerrancy (a sure sign of biblical ignorance).

              • Tildeb,
                You spoke of climate change as irrefutable science. This would be another case where I struggle with taking science and interpreting the past, especially in light of human bias. I don’t even trust the whether forecast for this week, once we get three or four days out. Two weeks out and I figure I could guess as accurately as they can predict with all their computer models. They recently predicted a big hurricane season that just fell flat. If this science, is not good enough to predict this month or this year, why do we think it is good enough to predict not only the past, but to take those assumptions about the past and extend them into future? I think of complex economic models, and tremendous research and studies and calculations and computer models that end up completely wrong. We have one research group coming up with one thing, and another coming up with another, leaving us with the idea that we should be either bullish or bearish, one or the other! And different scientific models among different very competent scientific groups yield different results. But beyond imperfect science, insufficient data, errors compounded by errors in previous studies upon which assumptions were drawn, I cannot stress more to you the degree in which the most intelligent of people are guided by their worldview and belief system. If it were not for my very clear and direct encounter with God, His reality in my life, His speaking to me through Scripture and affirming it to me over and over again, His presence and amazing working in my life, I would likely maintain the same skepticism you do in regard to Scripture. (By the way, in regard to the putting together of the King James Bible, the knowledge, integrity, and scholarly standards were second to none. That’s a really interesting study.) My view of science begins with God as the foundation for science. Your does not. Our conclusions will be worlds apart.
                RT

              • And different scientific models among different very competent scientific groups yield different results. But beyond imperfect science, insufficient data, errors compounded by errors in previous studies upon which assumptions were drawn, I cannot stress more to you the degree in which the most intelligent of people are guided by their worldview and belief system.

                And yet we – the global scientific community – have reached scientific consensus on climate change caused by people, an idea contrary to your own that has been publicly endorsed by every major scientific body in the world. Your current beliefs stand your opinion to be in direct conflict to each and every one of them and the conclusion reached by tens of thousands of working member scientists. You weigh your opinion to be equivalent to all of this. Think about that, will you?

              • Ashley, Tildeb, other atheists:

                What do you say to Rana’s testimony of encountering a ghost every day over an eight year period as described here?:
                “I can say that I grew up with a ghost in my house who woke me up every morning for school a couple minutes before my alarm. (True story, btw.) To me, this is a truth of my past and a truth about my (now my parents’) home. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm every morning for almost 8 years, and in my blurry morning eyes I saw a little boy in the corner of my room. I can’t prove this to anyone, and trust me, after trying to prove it to my mother, I’ve given up trying. No one in the world needs to believe me, and can call my claims false all day. But I know what I saw every morning for those 8 years. I can ignore my own senses, or I can claim a personal truth, based on personal evidence and proof…”
                She explained further with this account:
                “My take on the ghost from my house is this: when I was young, I took my dog for a typical walk in the woods off the back of my parents’ property. Back there, my dog went a little farther than usual, and when I caught up with her, there was a huge stump in the woods, and a boy in very old-time clothes with a hatchet sitting there. My dog began to growl at a bush nearby, and when I looked, the barrel of a gun was sticking out of it, aimed at the boy. There was a shot, no echo, and both the boy and the gun were gone. I went home stunned, and studied up on the history of our land, and found a very old newspaper clip in the library of a boy gone missing around the same area. From that point of witnessing his death on, he would wake me up just before my alarm every morning. He was very nice, though he never made a sound. I’d talk to him every morning, tell him about my day the day before, and that was it.”

                Now Rana and I differ in regard to the nature of this apparition: She believes it to be a human spirit; I believe it to be demonic in nature. But both of us believe it was real and that it was a spirit of some kind. This went on for 8 years, and began when she was old enough to walk the dog, do I assume in the vicinity of ages 5 to 13, certainly reaching into ages that one would expect a person to be capable of distinguishing their imagination from reality. And the fact that she “studied up on the history of their land””, may suggest the episode began later than age 5. I see only certain possible conclusions here:
                1) Rana indeed saw a spirit of some kind
                2) Rana is, or at least was, insane. 8 years is too long to be mistaken, and age 13 or so too old to not be capable of distinguishing reality from fantasy.
                3) Rana is a liar.

                In regard to sanity, Rana seems perfectly sane and logical to me. I think I’ve read enough of her posts to have good reason to say she is not a bald-face liar, or even one to tell tall-tales in order to garner attention. Rana, herself believes she saw a spirit, and again, not some thing a child imagines at a frightening moment, but over an 8 year period. This is an eyewitness account from a person we all have a pretty good feel for in regard to who she is and her character and sanity. What do you do with Rana’s account, which testifies to the existence of a spiritual world, or of at least one spirit anyway? Is she insane, a liar, mistaken for 8 years, or did she see a spirit?
                RT

            • You say that you believe that Rana was visited by a ghost every year for 8 years and then only offer 3 (which really only turns out to be 2)
              possibilities.
              “1) Rana indeed saw a spirit of some kind
              2) Rana is, or at least was, insane. 8 years is too long to be mistaken, and age 13 or so too old to not be capable of distinguishing reality from fantasy.
              3) Rana is a liar”
              She was 13 when it happened and it went on for 8 long years so it just HAS to be true right? Either that or she’s a liar (or insane). There’s just no other alternative eh? Wow, talk about a mind that has completely lost all capacity for independent thought. How about: She had an overactive imagination. She had a recurring dream. She was under a misapprehension.
              But no, not to you. The ONLY plausible explanation is that the laws of nature were suspended before her very eyes, every day for 8 years…and then what? The ghost suddenly disappeared? Where is it now? And recent visitations? If not, why not?
              The laws of nature appear to have been suspended before your very eyes. You have to ask yourself which is more likely? – that they were suspended OR that your under a misapprehension? The obvious conclusion is that one is under a misapprehension. Unless you really do believe that the laws of nature are suspended on a regular basis, in which case, everyone’s claim that the laws of nature have been suspended for them are just as valid as anyone else’s. Or does this claim only apply to you?

              • Ashley,
                It’s Christmas Eve, my wife and I have just exchanged gifts. Tomorrow every one of our six children will be visiting, along their spouses, my elderly parents, and my two toddler grandchildren. I, for one, intend to enjoy Christmas with my family, and I hope you do as well. Humbug on your humbug, Scrooge! God’s blessings to you and yours. And speaking of ghosts, who knows, you may have three visitors this very night, Mr. Scrooge. A heart change will do you some good. Merry Christmas!
                RT

              • Ashley,
                I understand that incredulity is not a logical argument, but I’m staggered by your possible explanations, and the length you go in order to deny the obvious. Add your indignation to it, and I almost don’t know what to day. That is, almost. Here goes – I’ll address your wonderful “capacity for independent thought”, as you call it:

                1) You offer and overactive imagination as an explanation. Sorry dude, Eight years of talking to an apparition daily, that likely extends into early teen years is not an overactive imagination if it is not real. It’s a problem, and compounded by the fact that she cannot yet, in her early twenties, discern reality from imagination.
                2) Your recurring dream suggestion. Eight years every day and still unable to discern between reality and dream? I’ve had recurring dreams, and I can assure you, I knew they were dreams. At around age 3-4 I had a two dreams that upon awakening I did not comprehend that they were dreams (In the one, I turned the light on and looked under the covers for the ugly hand that I saw in the dream) In both cases, I had determined it was just a dream within the same day. Now if I had this occurring for eight years every day, and STILL was unable to determine it was just a dream, I’d say I either had a problem or it wasn’t a dream. Not only that, but what Rana saw was much more complex, where she would discuss recent events with this apparition, etc. And her walk in the woods where she had the initial experiences certainly was no dream.
                3) Your “misapprehension” theory. For eight years? I can understand a child mistaking a white garment in a closet for a ghost. I cannot understand it for 8 years, 365 days a year (I’m not clear if she saw this every single day, but from her description, it at least happened every school day) If Rana was curious enough to check local historical records, then she was also curious enough to test the apparition itself. (i.e., when the child looks in the closet, and comes to understand it was just a white garment, and removes it or shuts the door)
                4) In regard to “Where is this spirit now?” First, this argument is no more a negation of this apparition any more than why anything stops – from a volcano erupting to whatever, and really does not need to be answered. I will offer you an answer, however, from my belief system, which you already reject, not from logic. The Bible presents a map that covers every significant issue we face – from where we came from to where we are going to how to live now to marriage to work to government, and yes, even spiritual apparitions. What I call demonic spirits, and Rana, a human spirit, or ghost, are not normal or spiritually legal without a door being opened to them. I believe this is demonic, because I believe that the destination of the human spirit is determined by God based on a person’s choices in this life, not on the human spirit’s ability to navigate its own way after death. In other words, Scripture tells us that after death we end up on one of two places – with nothing in-between, and there being no choice or process whatsoever remaining. But in regard to the demonic, they have no express right to “appear” in this world without an open door. If a door can be opened, it can be closed. Rana has likely herself closed the door – either by rationally rejecting it, or perhaps that whatever need or desire she had for receiving this thing (The need for a playmate, for instance)ceasing, with her at some level being no longer willing to engage it. In the particulars of Rana, there is a lot of speculation on my part without knowing her or her situation in more detail. The Bible very forbids communicating with the spiritual world other than with the Spirit of God – such as through sorcery, divination, witchcraft, etc. It does not say it doesn’t exist, but rather that we are to have nothing to do with it. There are many practices that are contrary to Scripture whereby people unwittingly open themselves to wrong spirits. Religious practices of praying to the deceased – a type of ancestor worship, for instance, can open the door to the occult) There are generational doors to these things as well. Anyway, that’s all another can of worms. I offer it simply because you asked how I explain it. But this whole line of reasoning is not necessary to our conversation, in that it is not necessary to our argument to explain why the apparition stopped.

                You also make a claim that for a spiritual, or supernatural world to exist, we must suspend the natural world. Supernatural simply means, “beyond natural”. I’ve said it before that the natural world is a subset of the spiritual world, with natural laws governed by spiritual laws. (Sowing and reaping for instance, in which we reap what we sow beyond natural explanations, where what we have sown directs our lives like railroad tracks beneath the snow)

                Ashley, for all your talk of scientific objectivity, you are beginning with your belief system, and are not beginning with science at all. You are, in effect saying, “Because we know it cannot be a spirit, because the spiritual world does not exist…” Then you offer your explanations. You begin with your conclusions, and “suspend” scientific inquiry on behalf of what you’ve already determined. The “facts” simply are forbidden to bring you to certain conclusions.
                RT

              • In order for the ‘spiritual world’ to exist means it (and we) have to have some way to be able to interact. Think about what that means. We are talking about the ability to have causal effect and this means a mechanism by which the interaction can take place.

                Consider Rana ‘seeing’ the apparition. What it ‘it’ she is seeing? How is light reflected from ‘it’ to reach her eyes? This ‘it’ must have mass and particles on which the light can reflect. This means the ‘it’ is subject to the same physical forces we are, like gravity and momentum. Such particles would stand contrary to the laws we understand of particle physics in that they supposedly come into existence to interact with a particular subject causing particular effect and then disappearing back into the supposed ‘spiritual world’. To accept the possibility is not the question; it may be possible. What we are looking at is the probability of all our knowledge adduced from reality being wrong, being insufficient. It is this probability that we then use to compare and contrast with other explanations, preferably explanations that do not render our knowledge wrong or insufficient. And here we find fertile ground because we know that how our brains interpret data opens us up to misunderstandings, misapplications, and mis-attributions. In other words, it is very well documented how easily we can fool ourselves (highlighting, for example a grilled cheese sandwich toasted in such a way as to give the appearance of, say Jesus, while utterly ignoring the same shape found in a dog’s anus… both of which are easily available with a quick Google). Just because we think we see something with shape and borders and intention of agency does not mean such a something actually exists independent of us. All one needs to do is see a murmuration to appreciate that our application of single agency to a organized motion that seems to have discrete borders fails to account for local units following local rules. It is probably not a coincidence but part of an earth-bound physical event that Rana’s experience occurred when and how it it did and not at the dining room table during a gathering of independent observers or in the middle of organized group activity. Again, we look to the probable, and lend more confidence to that kind of explanation than rushing to submit support of belief to such a reported encounter that isn’t just improbable (how does a ‘spirit’ power their interacting particles in our reality?), but in fact contrary to how we know and utilize explanations about how the world operates.

                Unless and until explanations are forthcoming how this interaction occurs, by what mechanisms we interact, establishing a new particle physics to account, then claims of supernatural are highly doubtful. That history is brimming with such supernatural claims later revealed by an advancement of knowledge to always, in every case, belong solely in this reality and not some other, is a very strong indication to us that foisting such events off to the ‘super’natural realm is not and alternative answer or explanation or even reasonable; it is a pseudo-answer that only gives the appearance of being an answer that answers nothing.

                To claim that reality is a subset of the spiritual realm is just another in a long line of statements equivalent in all ways to any other expression of superstitious nonsense. Even if true, there is no way for you to know this. It is equivalent in all ways to making stuff up combined with a steadfast refusal to look honestly at other and more reasonable and probable alternatives… alternatives that don’t render accumulated and foundational human knowledge about reality to be wrong. As you know by now, this is my way of saying such a belief as the kind you exercise here, is a foundation for delusional thinking. Recognizing this danger of fooling one’s self to this extent – to believe in spooks and goblins and faeries and dragons and demons and utilizing first person accounts to substantiate these claims without for a moment considering how if true they overthrow the knowledge you use to live your life successfully navigating reality – is a danger not just to you but to all those who receive effect from you acting on these improbable beliefs. This is what Ashley and I are really trying to do here. Because understanding a natural world affected by physical interactions with mechanistic forces works to inform technologies, applications and therapies consistently and reliably for everyone everywhere all the time means this model is a pretty good one… one that even you endorse in matters unaffected by your belief in woo. It is based on this track record that we then turn to examining other possibilities. What you mistakenly presume is an a priori faith position in the method of science to investigate these experiences is an adduced baseline of confidence in the model because it works. In comparison, your model of a supernatural realm does not. It informs no technologies, no therapies, no applications that work. It does not work consistently and reliably well for everyone everywhere all the time. In any fair comparison, the probability of your model on its own merits is unknowable; but we do know that it doesn’t advance our knowledge at all and, in fact, has an historical record of diverting us from gaining knowledge. Sticking by this method and using it to ‘explain’ events knowing all this is a sure sign of faith in action… a motivation not to find out what’s true but a means to support some other wobbly branch of faith-based belief. Belief in the supernatural is almost always a means to support a belief in belief. That’s it. And I find it insufficient to entertain the notion that all human knowledge is, in fact, wrong when you offer nothing in return for giving up the model of gaining insight and understanding and replacing it with just another version of a a cargo cult piety.

              • Seriously, Tildeb, you and I need to sit for a day and just drink coffee and talk. You have one of the most level-headed, intelligent, and yet respectful styles of writing I’ve ever seen. Magnificently said, all around.

              • RT,

                I have no idea where you read that I said I know it must not be a spirit and that the spirit world does not exist. I never said that AT ALL. Learn how to read. It will make future exchanges much easier. I asked a question as to which is more likely. That the laws of nature were suspended before her eyes OR she was under a misapprehension.
                So if you think that because she was too old and this went on for too long to be a hallucination, then you’ll have to grant anyone that makes a similar claim. There are 1.5 billion Muslims on the planet. They believe that the prophet Mohammed really did receive god’s final revelation from the archangel Gabriel. There’s just so many of them, they can’t ALL be wrong can they. Therefore their claims must be true.
                And I don’t know who you’re trying to kid when you say that you know that incredulity is not a logical argument. Your ENTIRE worldview, in fact your ENTIRE perception of reality itself is based on the logical fallacy of the argument from personal incredulity. You can’t understand how all of this came about without a “head honcho” therefore that’s “a logical conclusion” according to you.
                Is there a day that goes by that you either don’t contradict yourself or make a complete fool of yourself?

          • Ashley,
            In regard to this requirement of burden of proof: Required by whom? Who is doing the requiring here, and who is doing the absolving? You? Your system of philosophic thought and its rules and regulations, aka, your religion? What outside standard are you referring to here that we have all agreed to? The American Society of Philosophers or something? Rana is very clear in her concept that (to paraphrase in my own interpretation of what she is saying), that if one does not make the claim to God as self-existent, what is left is the universe as self-existent. What you are doing is hiding in semantics, in the illusion of taking some other road which is the very deceptive road of irresponsibility. What you may wish to consider is that there are times when we do not take responsibility for one direction, we are, in fact, in the other. The skydiver is in the default position of smashing on the ground if he does not opt to pull the rip cord, and the homeowner is in the dark until he flips the light-switch. You seem to be attempting a special position of floating indefinitely in the air, saying, “Nobody, not nobody, can make me pull that cord!” And you do not realize that you are, by default, very much in darkness.

            • Thunder, although I agree with you that there is a question of the burden of proof in who is requiring that proof, I’d have the same question for you. It seems that your proof of your ‘God’ is purely for your own sake, and the sake of proving to ‘God’ your undeniable dedication to ‘Him.’ Many times you’ve said that it is the burden of the non-believer to give him or herself wholly to ‘God’ in order to know ‘God,’ thereby suggesting that your proof of ‘God’ is useless to anyone but yourself. Yet I’ve said before that I know people who have claimed to give themselves wholly to ‘God’ in a time of need, of desperation, which you have claimed in the past is the only true way to ‘God’ for someone of non-belief, and those people received no great connection to ‘God,’ no response or otherworldly feeling of peace or safety, etc. This would lead me to believe that your ‘giving your self to God’ was something specific, that you did something more than these other people did. So this leaves the burden on you to provide this revelation of giving of yourself to ‘God’ as proof of your claim that you experience ‘God.’ As I’ve previously said, and agreed with you, that truth is independent of proof, but man’s perception of truth is completely dependent on proof. If you cannot provide proof of your truth in a way which all other men could understand and repeatedly experience with the same results as you, then on a humanistic scale, your truth is only personal to you. This is why there are men who honestly believe in Buddhism, just as you passionately believe in your ‘God.’ In terms of man, there is still a burden of proof on you to make your personal truth a provable, universal truth in the eyes of all mankind. If you cannot provide that proof, then no man has any obligation to trust your claim to truth. That doesn’t mean your truth is wrong, it simply means that in terms of the human condition, you have no foundation on which to claim your personal truth as truth for all people. You must either provide proof to your ‘theory’ of ‘God’ enough to make that theory a proof itself, or you must disprove all other options completely. Unless, of course, you simply don’t care to make your personal truth a proven truth to all people. If that is the case, then I see no purpose in you claiming your personal truth as truth for all people when you are not willing to provide proof of that truth to all people.

          • RT,

            Once again, another post filled to the brim with logical fallacies, ad hoc reasoning and just plain gibberish.
            The burden of proof is required by whom you ask? By the person making a claim. ANY claim. That’s who.
            Who decides when the burden of proof has been met? – Me, using my “system of philosophic thought and its rules and regulations, aka, your religion”? No. I barely know where to begin with that idiotic statement. I’ll just suggest that you go to a dictionary and look up the word “religion” or even google it. If you find a definition that equates religion with philosophy, I’ll eat my hat. Back to the question – you claim “there’s a very real spiritual world out there”. If that’s true, then you should be able to demonstrate how you’ve come to acquire this information. Do you regularly transport yourself back and forth between this world and the “spirit” world? If so, by what means? If you don’t, please explain what other method you’ve detect the “spirit” world. Your explanation should be able to stand up to the scrutiny of a well-defined rigorous testing procedure and should yield predictable, repeatable results. Any number of people should be able to perform the tests in various locations all over the world and the result should be the same every time. Drop a pen from a height of 6 feet above the floor in any building on the face of the earth and it will accelerate at a rate of 9.81 m/s2 until it hits the ground. This will happen every single time, without exception.
            “Rana is very clear in her concept that (to paraphrase in my own interpretation of what she is saying), that if one does not make the claim to God as self-existent, what is left is the universe as self-existent.”
            It wasn’t so clear to me what she said, but in any event, if that’s what the phrase was intended to mean, IT’S WRONG. I don’t HAVE to make ANY claim about ANYTHING. I say that YOUR claim that God is self-existent is unsubstantiated gibberish. I don’t HAVE to make any counter-claim of my own. I only have to say “I don’t know” how the universe and life came to be. I’m patiently waiting for the evidence to come in, if it ever does come in. If not, “ces’t la vie” as the French say. In the meantime, I will not make any claims of my own and I reject your claims because they are based on nothing more than faith, superstition and supernatural nonsense.

  5. As I understand it, there are other possibilities besides the Big Crunch (Big Rip, Big Freeze, Infinity). Determining the properties of dark matter will clarify how or if the universe will endure a death, rebirth, or continue infinitely. In any of these scenarios it is more likely that we, and our sun/planet will be long gone before any of the possible universe’s fates will be decided. Not that that precludes the desire to try and understand these possible fates. It certainly does not IMO raise any gaps for gods to hide in. Just because we may not yet have an answer for a model, does not mean gods are hiding in the unknown. That is where hard evidence ends, and woo begins. That is where the spinsters of woo make their money…they can only survive by making the unknown into some sort of claim of fact, with nothing to support their conclusions but hot air and “cuz we said so.” Religions, gods, purveyors of quantum bullshit and self aware atoms, all require unsupported claims of fact, and a gullible segment of the population to succeed.

    I feel like tildeb and Ashley have both made better contributions to this topic than I could come up with after one cup of coffee this morning. So I will just leave it at that. Great comments in the comments 🙂

    • Dont’ sell yourself short Shelldigger. Your comments are always rational, clear lucid and honest. I’d prefer to see more of them to be honest. I’d certainly like to see more of yours and less of RT’s.

      • Thanks Ashley, for what it’s worth I find your replies here equally so.

        While one of my main pastimes is astronomy, I have to admit I’m a tad weak in the cosmology department. Not afraid to defer when I fear I may be getting in too deep, and not afraid to admit an error, but I try to keep them to a minimium. 😉

      • Morphic resonance is considered pseudoscience by perhaps most of the scientific community. Critics claim there is a lack of evidence to support the concept and there may be inconsistencies of data from genetic studies. His book, “Sense of Being Stared At” explored telepathy, precognition, and psychic staring. His work certainly needs more experimentation and study, but has held up well against other concepts and against flat-out denials, he’s presented enough evidence that his work warrants further study. I really don’t see why any contempt for him is called for. Its quite an odd phenomena I think that people get all disturbed and point at the cause being in someone else’s statements. I’ll look at this ripple effect that seems to disturb.
        My only reason for posting here is to address that Rana needed an inner peace of mind and to get some rest. It isn’t for disturbing you that I posted anything here.

        • I don’t know if you appreciate that ideas like Sheldrake’s are fine… as hypotheses. No none is suggesting that inquiring into morphic fields is taboo. All people are saying is that you can’t present such ideas in a scientific setting as science if you haven’t the evidence adduced from reality to support it. This was why TEDx – an arena for presenting scientific ideas – was forced to retract Sheldrake’s presentation… because it wasn’t science. If Sheldrake could show how anyone could find and identify morphic fields and establish how they interact with the physical world, then he would win a Nobel. But he lacks doing all this (because doing good science really is hard, disciplined work) and yet still presents his hypothesis as if it were the product of good science when it clearly isn’t. And that’s why healthy skepticism should be exercised against such claims presented inappropriately and as something it is not. You keep posting videos that follow the same pattern of misrepresenting hypotheses as if they were adduced from reality when in fact they are notions imposed on it unsupported by reality’s arbitration of them. This deserves a large dose of healthy skepticism from anyone who honestly respects reality more than what what some few people want us to believe about it (people who haven’t done the work necessary to demonstrate how reality operates to produce the causal effects so claimed).

            • I still have no clue what ‘heart coherence’ means, nor what kind of ‘field environments’ scientists are supposedly studying to improve the ‘heart’s intuitive guidance’. There was a claim that the human collective affects the magnetic field of the earth and requires more study, but the effervescent energy displayed in the graphics rising from the heart and enveloping the brain is straight up woo when it is suggested that the heart is the source for emotional feelings and intuition. It’s the brain, and this is demonstrable. I also have no clue why you included this video.

  6. Rolling Thunder,

    You make many truly extraordinary claims about reality (such as many of their experiences are like real, though demonically induced. There is a very real spiritual world out there. ) as if true, as if justified in some way, as if you have good reasons for thinking them so. This raises the vital question, How do you know that?

    It is here where we arrive at the burden of proof, meaning that because you are making a positive claim about reality (and not simply qualifying these claims as solely a personal and subjective faith-based claim) you accept the burden of proof to demonstrate to me why you think reality really is this way. If reality really is this way (really does contain demons that cause real effect) then I want to know about it, too, so that we can find agreement on how best to live in such a populated reality.

    This brings us to answering the ‘how’ question, as in How do you arrive at this conclusion – that reality is, in fact, populated by demons – from compelling evidence adduced (please note the term ‘adduced’ because it’s important to understand why your claim requires evidence from reality and cannot accept testimony simply revealed to you and you alone ) from the very reality you describe. (This is called epistemology, the method used to answer any ‘how’ question.)

    How does reality support you in arriving at this conclusion? Let me look at the same evidence that you have found so compelling (that you are willing to suspend the knowledge we have of how chemistry, physics, and biology operates for everyone everywhere all the time and that informs technologies, therapies, and applications that reliably and consistently work) because if reality is as you claim it is, then we have to rewrite the laws of chemistry, physics, and biology to account for this new information.

    You’ve got nothing adduced from reality to justify this extraordinary claim about the causal effect of demons because you have zero evidence for the existence of demons themselves. You are claiming causal agency without any evidence for the agents themselves in addition to claiming causal agency that operates contrary to how reality (as we understand it) operates for everyone everywhere all the time.

    You bet this raises the burden of proof, and it matters that you have utterly failed to carry it. This means your claim is baseless and, in all likelihood, wrong. There are no demons you and I can mutually know anything about because there is no compelling evidence adduced from reality for us to share. So demons exist… but only in your mind. From my perspective, those who believe in their beliefs as if real and refuse to allow reality to adjudicate their truth value are equivalent in all ways to exercising delusion. Again, from my perspective, there is no difference between wearing, say, a cross to represent delusional beliefs any more than a tin foil hat to block controlling signals from alien overlords.

    Why does this matter? Why can’t you just believe whatever you want to believe without people like me jumping into the fray and calling your claim ‘wrong’?

    It matters on two levels.

    The first is on a personal level because you’ve made a fundamental epistemological error common to all who support any and all faith-based beliefs – religion, alternative medicine, spooky therapies, the supernatural, dowsing, tarot cards, global conspiracies, anti-vaxers, climate change denial, and so on: imposing beliefs on reality and pretending that the beliefs come from reality rather than yourself. Specifically in this case, you have , in fact, come up with a notion of causal agency (probably on the authority of scripture) and then imposed this notion on to reality as if it described it accurately. But you don’t see yourself doing this; instead, you – like most faith-based believers – assume reality then justifies your imposition (which is why only bits and pieces of reality that appear to support the claim are then used to justify it – called ‘cherry-picking’ – rather than account for ALL the evidence… especially evidence contrary to the claim). We see faith-based beliefs misrepresented this way all the time, and your claim of causal agency by demons is an absolutely typical one. This method of imposing a belief on reality and then refusing to allow reality to arbitrate the claim is an error of thinking guaranteed to make you credulous and gullible… not because you’re religious but because your epistemology is poor (so poor, in fact, that it is severed from the very reality it tries – and fails – to describe).

    The second is on a public level because acting on the beliefs as if they were true carries a very real causal effect that harms real people in real life. I’ll describe why acting on faith-based belief is pernicious in my next comment.

    • Tildeb,

      In your comment, “The first is on a personal level because you’ve made a fundamental epistemological error common to all who support any and all faith-based beliefs – religion, alternative medicine, spooky therapies, the supernatural, dowsing, tarot cards, global conspiracies, anti-vaxers, climate change denial…”, You know I do not hold “religion” to be in that group (at least not all religion), and I also understand why you think it should be included, but “climate change denial”??? How did that one slip in there? Gee, I would have placed all the global warming people in that group, not those who deny it. But we’ve got enough cans of worms opened up here already, so let me get back to the topic.

      In regard to the spiritual world, I am not willing “to suspend the knowledge we have of how chemistry, physics, and biology operates for everyone everywhere all the time and that informs technologies, therapies, and applications that reliably and consistently work”. As I’ve said in other posts, the natural world is a subset of the spiritual world, even as Newtonian physics is not wrong, but is a subset of Einstein’s physics. Newtonian physics answers many questions, but then stops. It cannot explain relativity, but relativity can explain Newton’s physics. The spiritual world does not negate, it, but rather, supersedes the natural world. Think of it like a fourth dimension, in which we add time, except that we add man’s spirit, and the spiritual world, to what you already accept – his mind, body, will, and emotions. When a person is sick, for instance, though the physical sickness (say, an ulcer) is real, it is affected by the person’s mental and emotional states (stress, anger, etc.). It is also affected by his will. Does he dwell on it, making it worse? Does he make changes in his life to relieve stress or eliminate foods that would antagonize his ulcer. The fact that the mind and will affect the stomach, does not deny the physical ulcer. It is the same with man’s spirit, and the spiritual realm.

      If I understand you, you were expressing concern for detrimental effects of wrongly attributing things to the spiritual world. I would only express the same concern for any misdiagnosis, including one that does not address the root problem. Before coming to the Lord at age 23 I was a raging alcoholic, and had tried all sorts of things to get free of it – doctors, psychiatrists, etc. But once I addressed my spiritual problem, I was free of it instantly. And I do mean instantly. And that was 32 years ago. I don’t go to AA meetings – none of that. It’s like it was never part of my life. There are spiritual bondages, that if we don’t fix first, all the therapy and medication in the world will not solve it. And I am not saying that all problems begin as spiritual either. They can begin in any area (mind, body, will, emotions, spirit), and affect the others.

      Without going too far into evidences for demonic spirits, I’ll only say that I have seen them (that is, evidences). I knew a woman who was diagnosed schizophrenic and witness the demonic activity as she manifested these demons, unprovoked by us, at a retreat center. She attempted to murder the pastor’s wife with a butcher knife. Then one spirit after another would come over this woman in a clear and separate form of evil – first rebellion, then mockery, then blasphemy, then various sexual perversions, then various affectations, then the lights flickering on an off in the room as she laughed and said, “Thank you Satan!” Her mother was a witch, and forced her to sacrifice a rabbit as a child. Her husband once walked into her bedroom and saw her chanting, with her long hair standing straight up in the air. I have a brother-in-law whose wife had a years of psychotherapy, who told us he once saw a serpent on top of his wife’s head. And there are demonic forces over large regions. People describe the mesmerizing influence of Adolph Hitler, where a crowd of otherwise sane people would get caught up into a frenzy when he spoke. Anyway, my focus is on God, not demons. But Jesus cast demons out of as many people as He healed. And it wasn’t always a matter of demonic “possession”. When Jesus ate at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick. It says that Jesus rebuked the spirit of infirmity, and she got up and served them. (And that is not to say that all mothers in law are demonized  ) Is all sickness demonically induced? No. But some is. Have you ever known someone who goes from one unrelated illness to another to another, and is just consumed with sickness and thoughts of sickness? The illnesses are real doctors can observe them. But I believe the source is demonic, beginning with things like self-pity, which opens the door to worse things. These people chase doctors and psychiatrists all their life, but the root is spiritual.
      I also recall a great aunt I had who was very talented, very artistic. She was spoiled, and the favorite of her parents. At age 21 her painting began to turn dark and gloomy, and at one point she attempted to kill her mother. She spent the rest of her life in mental institutions. She became delusional, believing that communists were after her, etc. My parents would pick her up now and then and have her for dinner. The medications kept things mostly under wraps, but then she’d suddenly say something off-the wall. Anyway, one day my little sister, who is a Christian, went to visit her in the institution. Before she went, I raised the question with both my father and my sister as to whether there could be demonic influence involved. (And my father pooh-poohed the suggestion.) When my sister arrived, she said, “Aunt [name omitted], what have you been doing all day? She told my poor, sweet little sister, “I’ve been in my room talking to the devil.” My sister began reading verses from the Bible, and this woman would say them backwards, word for word.
      Another story: A friend of mine and I once held a Bible study (and neither of us are pastors or anything) at a half-way house for young men who were committed there by the legal system. One young man began telling us of how he had been involved in Satanism and animal sacrifice, and how he has had horrible nightmares every night for years. We prayed for him and it stopped – instantly.
      Why is it, that with so many people who claim to hear “voices”, that these voices are always up to no good? They tell them to kill someone, etc.
      I’ve also seen a man at a church we attended while living in Dallas come into the church, and say that he had a “word” for the pastor. He began saying some things that were true, but then started getting really weird, saying things like there was a man coming from the Naval Academy and this pastor needed to listen to him. The elders of the church started motioning to the pastor, “Get him out of here!” As they approached the front to take the microphone, the man would not yield it, and started screaming, “I must speak, I must speak! His eyes glazed over and rolled back in his head, and they carried him out bodily. Shrieking all the way. They offered to pray for deliverance, and he refused. They later found him skulking around the outside of the building so they called the police. Interesting, the pastor’s message was on, “Discerning truth from error” in regard to people claiming to speak from the Lord.
      Anyway, I suspect that most of the clearer cases of demonic possession, etc., are locked up out of sight in institutions and heavily sedated with Thorazine. I believe we are medicating many mental “disorders” enabling people to cope and live with their bondage, rather than setting them free. I know people whose medications are as bad as the original problem itself. I know a man and his wife who felt led to fast several days before going in to the hospital to pray for a child with cystic fibrosis. When they prayed for the child, suddenly a bat manifest and was flying around the hospital room. They threw a blanket over it, and when they removed the blanket, the bat was gone, and the child was completely and instantly healed. These things are common to see in many Christian circles. Perhaps it’s the circles you travel in that you do not see many of these evidences, in that they are manifest by the power of God.
      RT

      • Yes, climate change denial because it stands contrary to the scientific consensus. Theonly reason to stand against scientific consensus in this manner is by empowering faith-based belief to be equivalent.

      • Anecdotal B.S. From someone afraid to walk in the dark, or face the possibility of an evidence based conclusion. If you are inclined to believe there are monsters in the closet, then that is what you will find there.

        I just happen to have a step daughter that suffers from a plethora of mental issues. The diagnosis is Schizo Effective Disorder. She hears voices too, but instead of hoping (she no longer lives here or I would say “making sure”) she takes her medicine, I guess I should have had an exorcism done. If only I had known. (for those incapable of detecting sarcasm, that was sarcasm)

        There was an incident several years ago, where she had an episode and physically attacked one of my neighbors. When I saw the law show up, I hustled over there to try and help, but wound up helping the cops cuff her and stuff her, she was clearly a space case. Handcuffed, with her arms behind her back, she was spinning in circles in that back seat saying “Jesus” “Jesus” “Jesus” One of the scariest things I have ever seen in my life. (having a bit of a revulsion towards the capacity of religious folk to find justification for any old kind of nasty murderous pastime they might enjoy). The cops thought she was on drugs. Looks like she needed an exorcism from your jesus RT. Or perhaps she just needed some medication. Which one to believe? Hmmm

        Hey RT, I wonder what kind of affliction would be the easiest to fake? Blindness? Walking with a limp and a cane? Mental problems?
        Seems like your religious powers are real good at fixing those kinds of ailments. You ever wonder why that is?

        Pssst. Instead of being cured of alcoholism, you just traded one addiction for another. There may be some benefits to that change, but there are always tradeoffs.

  7. (continued)

    Acting on faith based-belief as if they were true and accurately described reality causes a real effect. And this is where all people are affected by those who have neither any permission nor a general tacit approval to so affect us. Imposing your beliefs on everyone else is unethical in any society that pays more than lip service to requiring the consent of the governed. It is morally wrong to impose one’s faith-based beliefs on others – regardless of the piousness assumed to do so.

    If we move away from the emotionally charged idea of god and into the area of, say, legal equality in regards to women, we can clearly see that empowering law based on certain assumptions about lesser abilities and questionable characters assigned to women first will have a dramatic impact on what kind of laws are established. We will never reach legal equality as long as people empower through their belief these negative starting assumptions. The effect is to undermine the principle of legal equality, which in turn is then used tot justify acting upon the beliefs to ensure legal INequality. No matter how much evidence is gathered from reality to show how this inequality is practiced, the faith-based believer will continue to reject reality’s arbitration of the laws that demonstrate inequality and continue to claim that laws are not discriminatory based on assuming the starting assumptions are true in reality!

    This exactly what we find when faith-based belief is acted upon in all areas: privilege and discrimination and harm exercised regularly while reality’s arbitration of the starting assumptions contrary to the claims made are conveniently ignored.

    Think of, say, faith healing… the claim that faith in certain outcomes can cause physical healing. The National Institute of Health in the US has spent more than two billion dollars of public money pursuing studies to demonstrate this link claimed to be true, claimed to be efficacious. The conclusion? There is no compelling evidence adduced from reality to support the claim. In fact, many studies show a remarkable correlation to worse health-related outcomes (I’m not going to try to provide links for this information: anyone interested can Google it and look to the scholarly papers). Yet in more than half the States in the US, there are laws in place to allow parents to exempt their children from receiving medical care on the basis of their religious beliefs. This practice kills real children suffering from preventable and treatable diseases and injuries and conditions because faith-based belief contrary to reality is allowed legal privilege. Are the lives and welfare of such children so affected of no concern?

    Think of alternative medicine and, say, homeopathy and naturopathy. People spend billions and billions and billions of dollars purchasing products that are not efficacious, seeking medical advice from people who reject reality’s role to arbitrate the efficacy of their nostrums (hello, Deepak Chopra), and taking all manner of supplements claimed to cause effect that they do not produce. we might be tempted to say, so what? So what if people want to spend a few bucks and buy some product that doesn’t really work. Well, when a significant portion of public health dollars are spent to support these ‘alternative’ methods and practices, these dollars are subtracted from the total, leaving fewer dollars to pay for real medicine treating real diseases and injuries and conditions! In addition, and of tremendous concern, is the deregulated Wild West of naturopathic supplements that interact in unknown ways with prescribed medications that also kills real people in real life. Conditions that are medically treatable worsen while the person seeks remedies that are not efficacious, and come to real medicine much more compromised and in need of much greater intervention, and this too costs us a very great deal of money and scarce resources to then treat – again, money subtracted from the available pot.

    Think of climate change caused by anthropogenic global warming. This is an extinction level practice for our species. Yet one of the most visited sites on the entire internet is a faith-based denialist (Watts Up With That), who continues to deny reality’s role in arbitrating claims made about it by climate scientists. Think about the scope and extent of that effect and the harm caused by doing too little too late armed with the excuse that we didn’t believe what reality was telling us because our faith-based assumptions we favoured were contrary to it.

    Faith-based beliefs matter because people really do act on them to the detriment of us all. It’s exercise must be publicly criticized in a sustained manner for its pernicious public effect if we wish to do our part and be responsible, autonomous, good citizens concerned not just for our own welfare, not just for the welfare of our neighbours, not jsuyt for the welfare of our states, but for the welfare of future generations for which we carry this burden of proof to justify our faith-based beliefs. If these beliefs are not arbitrated by reality, then we have no business pretending they accurately describe it. To do so is as irresponsible as it is misleading, as well as continued source of ignorance and stupidity and selfishness that continues unabated to cause real harm to real people in real life.

    If it requires ‘militancy’ to point out why faith-based beliefs are a guaranteed way to be credulous and gullible, then this is a small price to pay upholding the principle that what’s true actually matters and deserves our respect. For those who are still uncertain why faith-based beliefs are accurately described as such, then look to history and find a single example where faith-based belief produced any knowledge about anything that enabled an application, therapy, or technology based on it. What you will find is nothing but ignorance masquerading as knowledge harming people when acted upon. The latest is a fgirl tied up and tortured in London England by her ‘loved ones’ as they attempted to starve and beat out the ‘demons’ that they believed she harboured. This is faith-based belief in action. I happen to think we can do a whole lot better than respect the kind of thinking that looks exactly like ignorance and superstitious nonsense in action.

    • Tildeb,
      What you have just stated is your religion, which includes global warming, feminism, the belief that we are extinguishing ourselves (but with no evidence), etc. You have a full-fledged religious belief system going, and do you think your belief system does not affect others? How about 3000 abortions every day in just this nation alone – roughly the number lost in 911, except each day? I don’t even have to ask your thinking on the abortion issue because it almost always goes with the religious package that includes global warming and godlessness. How about taking prayer out of the schools, and mess our schools are in? I know this, when I was a kid, we had no need for armed guards in our schools, and school shooting were unheard of. And how about the ridiculous expense and suffocating legislation that comes with the global warming hysteria? You think your belief system does not adversely affect others? Think again!

      • RT,

        If you think that forcing school children to pray in school is going to prevent school shootings such as the Sandy Hook incident, you’re even stupider than I thought you were.

      • Come on, RT: I am Canadian and perhaps I’m closer on the ground to the dramatic climate pattern changes than many (the Arctic is particularly sensitive), but every indication from reality points to AGW as the driver to an historic shift in amplitude and frequency of extreme weather correlated to the unprecedented rate of increase of CO2 (now broaching 400 ppm) and energy added to our atmosphere (correlated to releasing trapped carbon and methane). Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in hydrology and understand what historical precipitation patterns have been (and their historical rates of frequency and amplitude variability) or maybe it’s because I spent a summer working with ice core samples from the Antarctic touching ancient evidence of precipitation patterns to appreciate just how dramatic are the changes we are undergoing. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spoken with an Arctic pilot who describes what a methane burp from tundra is like to fly through, and how that event is increasingly common that has urged me to take the issue more seriously than most.

        In any case, I understand the meteorology that produces historic drought here and massive flooding just over there, record high temperatures here and record cold temperatures there. I have the Jet Stream pass overhead where I live and I know how radical are the changes from a decreased historical temperature gradient between the Canadian high and Gulf lows, the decrease in speed that weather patterns travel from West to East and – extraordinarily – even now from south east to northwest, and the increasing probability of the kind of Greenland blocking pattern needed to turn a hurricane like Sandy eastwards unto the eastern seaboard of the US. All the evidence points in only one direction: man’s activities.

        Calling this collection and collation of evidence a ‘religion’ is absurd. Reaching a conclusion adduced from this mountain of data as a ‘full-fledged religious belief system’ is a pathetic excuse to stick one’s head into one’s nether regions and complain there isn’t enough light. Accusing those who call for necessary changes now – like the US military, insurance underwriters, and every single major scientific body in the world as advocates for ‘suffocating legislation’ fails to appreciate the cost of doing less than what’s necessary. And those costs are not just financial ruin but environmental where tipping points allow force feedbacks to render our efforts useless. That’s why this crisis is an extinction event we are allowing to come ever closer in the name of economics. It’s like complaining about those people at the back of the shuttle daring to complain about air quality while people at the front of the shuttle burn the seats for short term profit.

        Because so many people do not take this problem seriously enough to advocate for responsible change to sustainable model, people like me try to educate people like you. Your characterization of these kinds of problems solves nothing but acts to allow this great danger to grow exponentially while refusing to admit there is even a problem. Tell that to the people of Queensland, the people of New York, the people of High River and Calgary, the people of Nunavut, the people of the Philippines. Their environmental problems are ours because we just so happen to share the same reality you wish to deny. Your denial does not alter the reality we face. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you can stop being an ally of those burning their seats while asking you to move farther to the back so that they can use yours next in the name of economics because there’s really no problem here at all in spite of what reality tells us. But then, we know why you are so credulous and susceptible to being gullible: you don’t allow reality to arbitrate the beliefs you hold about it and this, unfortunately, negatively affects all of us.

        • Tildeb and others,
          Your global warming, and even a consensus among scientists will unwittingly work to establish End Time biblical prophecy. It is about globalism, and yet one more thing that will work to usher in an ultimate global leader, the Antichrist. It takes focus off of nations, and onto what can only be controlled on a global level (the environment). Similarly, global finances and crises will move things in this direction, in that the economies of the nations of the world, in the communications and transportation age, will begin to cry out for world order. So will the internet spying and hacking. Unless we intend to shut down the internet beyond national borders, we will find that little groups and individuals, as well as nations (large and small) will be able to upset entire economies independent of military power. This also will call for global controls. We know that Scripture called this out 2000 years ago in Revelation, speaking of the mark of the beast, without which no one can buy or sell and of the world reign of the Antichrist, to whom the nations of the earth will yield their power. The ultimate control point will be economics. What I am saying is that this globalism will go forward. It must of necessity, and it must because Scripture called it out thousands of years ago, along with the increase in knowledge and transportation in the last days (Daniel 12:4) which we are witnessing even now. In the end, what will emerge will be just two world religions – Christ, and Antichrist. Initially, this fundamentally Satanic religion of Antichrist will embrace all faiths, and belief systems, including atheism, but will end in the worship of this single world ruler – initially by deception, and eventually by brute force. (Submit or die) What begins with the religion of “tolerance”, embracing all that is not Christian, will end in anything but tolerance. Scripture tells us that the Antichrist will come upon the scene and win the nations to himself by “intrigues”, but after a tipping point is reached, will in a sense, pull off the “peace and tolerance” mask, and crush all opposition. (It says in Daniel that his god will be a god of forces”) (See Daniel 11:36-38) So the religion of “tolerance” works to strip away all resistance, making differences or any stand at all the cardinal sin, which is even now heavily at work in this world. After the resistance is broken, takeover by force becomes much easier. I also would not be surprised to see global warming used as a denial of God’s coming judgments. Jesus spoke of earthquakes and increasing natural disasters as we approach the End Times. So there will be an explanation for all this, with blame resting squarely upon the heads of the “Christian haters” that would not heed the global warming warnings. Do I think I have this all pieced together correctly? No. There is much speculation on this. I believe that the foundation from which I am watching world events will yield the best map of the territory, though I may not navigated it properly along the way. But that we are moving toward globalism is very clear, as is that Scripture called this out and why. Those who do not acknowledge the spiritual world have no clue the degree of which these spiritual forces affect them, unify them, or place them in opposition to spiritual forces that are contrary to them.
          RT.

  8. RT lists a bunch of assertions from Genesis about human origins as described in this creation myth and then asks, So are your geneticists really disproving the Biblical model at all?

    The fact of the matter is that the data from population genetics indisputably shows us the origin (and flood recovery) story is factually wrong (which is what makes it a story in general and a myth when specifically categorized).

    Rather than reiterate how the data aligns with quite a different story, let’s revisit how the data could have aligned if the biblical account were true.

    Let’s see: Genetics could have revealed different heritable markers that could have aligned with the story. It doesn’t. Hydrology could have aligned with a biblical global flood. It doesn’t. Anthropology could have aligned with an exodus. It doesn’t. Evolutionary biology could have aligned with a recovery from a global disaster where critters stayed as kinds. It doesn’t. Physics could have aligned with faith healing and efficacious prayer. It doesn’t. Chemistry could have aligned with changing water into wine. It doesn’t. Biology could have aligned with cell regeneration after death. It doesn’t. Medicine could have aligned with demonic possession. It doesn’t. And so on, and so forth…

    Alas…

    Remember, we’re revisiting what could have been revealed from all these lines of inquiries that should align with the biblical accounts if the biblical accounts were true. These results are not mine. These results do not belong solely to a few people who first gathered some of the data. These results have been gathered from reality repeatedly by many people and they are consistent. When collated, we can reasonably and demonstrably show (again, this is a process we use to adduce an explanation that fits the data rather than your way, which is to accept as true an account and then try to make data gathered independently from reality to fit. When the data doesn’t fit – as it obviously doesn’t to anyone not first committed to believing the story as literally and historically true – then what’s a believer to do? Well, your choice seems to be to hammer home the story anyway and make up excuses why the data doesn’t fit. This means you must discredit the method of science – a method that YOU KNOW works reliably and consistently well in all other areas of human endeavor to produce justified knowledge through applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time – in this single exception. And the reason for the exception is not adduced from reality but is unequivocally imposed on it by you in order to maintain your religious beliefs. In this case, reality simply is not your friend but your enemy. That I respect reality enough for it to arbitrate your religious claims about it and find them wanting, you then try to blame everyone and everything but yourself for investing belief where it isn’t justified by reality. You think this is a virtue. I think this is a vice because it wouldn’t be tolerated in any other area of human endeavors and interactions because your beliefs can be wrong yet have no means to be changed… even when overwhelming evidence from reality demonstrates your beliefs to be factually incorrect when they didn’t have to be this way if your belief claims were true.

    Reality, and not my geneticists, demonstrates in a variety of independent ways that your confidence in the biblical story as an historical event is not justified. This leads us – not just me – to say with confidence that your beliefs are wrong. What you do with that knowledge is up to you, but to reject it is a demonstrable sign of delusional thinking.

    • Tildeb,
      As you are probably aware, much of Creationism is centered on Noah’s flood, where it ascribes much of what the evolutionists claim to be a process taking eons to a rapid laying down of sediment, sudden climate change, etc. through a catastrophic occurrence. For instance, we have Wooly Mammoths instantly frozen with vegetation still in their stomachs – the ice age hardly could have been a gradual process. What is interesting is what the apostle Peter, had to say about the flood in relation to evolution, nearly 2000 years before Darwin and his theory ever came upon the scene.

      II Peter3: 5-7
      5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.

      Here Peter is saying that mankind deliberately removed from its thoughts the greatest disaster in the history of the world – the Flood. Why? Because it reminds them of God’s impending judgment upon a godless world. (And by the way, when we calculate the current population of the world from the time of the flood, taking into account known wars, plagues, etc., and Biblical life-spans, the numbers work out according to the Biblical model.) In our present time, mankind desperately seeks to bury any idea of God’s judgment on sin, rather than come to God to be saved. I find it interesting that this centers on the Flood, the very stumbling block for the Evolutionist. The apostle Paul, speaks of the end times, and the coming of the Antichrist:

      II Th 2:9-12
      9 The coming of the lawless one [The Antichrist] will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,
      10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
      11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
      12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
      (NIV)

      Here, he states that God will actually help men in believing the lie, by sending them powerful delusion. I cannot think of a more powerful delusion than Evolution, for those who to deny the Creator. But God says He will actively help out in this delusion. Why?

      1 Cor 1:18-28
      18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
      19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
      20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
      21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
      22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
      23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
      24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
      25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
      26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
      27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
      28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things– and the things that are not– to nullify the things that are,
      (NIV)

      Why would God help man be deluded? Because God is more interested in the heart. And this is better discovered by allowing us to seek and search for what we want. If God would “prove” as Ashley demands, leaving no wiggle room whatsoever, then out of raw fear men would probably acquiesce to God, while their hearts are far from Him. And this is not God’s objective.
      What was the fall about? Man coveted knowledge, thinking he could run his own way without God, not content to be created in God’s image, but wanting to be “as God” Himself. And God let him do it, and reap the results of it. Because of this at the heart of man’s rebellion, God resists man coming to Him on the basis of smarts and intelligence alone, and will even send powerful delusion so that they can continue on in their foolishness if they choose to.
      RT

      • Sooooo…. ‘God’ not only allows us to pursue science, but provides us with the delusion of science because it is a sugary treat for the child of man, to make sure that not eeeverything we can experience in this life is of ‘God,’ otherwise we’d be too obsessed with ‘God’ and that wouldn’t be enough like free will, and that’s all ‘God’ wants, is for us to willingly dismiss our nature as human beings for the sake of the one thing in this universe we can’t understand, which is ‘God’ ‘Himself.’ ‘God’ basically doesn’t think that Satan’s temptation of the heart is enough, we must also be tempted of the mind, so ‘God’ just does that ‘Himself.’ Because, you know, we chose to be intelligent beings with the capacity to comprehend the world around us, and it makes sense to provide us with convoluted and ridiculously complex details to that world so we can be entertained like a baby with a set of keys, despite the fact that ‘God’ actually wants us to utterly ignore the shiny keys, give up our gift of intellectuality, and just follow our hearts to ‘Him’ instead.

        I’m sorry, what was your argument again that ‘God’ wants us to give in to ‘Him’ through all heart, mind, body, and soul? ‘He’ apparently is willing to tempt our minds away from ‘Him’ for the sake of making sure we’re ‘willing’ to be with ‘Him.’ Good grief, Thunder, your god is starting more and more to sound like a woman in a relationship with a man, where the woman thinks the man is cheating. Instead of confronting the man and asking if he’s cheating and saying, “You need to stop, this isn’t fair to me, staying with me will make you happy.” No, instead, she makes a fake Facebook page of another woman, and directly starts hitting on her own man as another woman, until he falls for the temptation of a woman throwing herself at him, and reciprocates the affection. Then the woman reveals that this temptress is actually her, and calls the man out for being unfaithful. That is the image you are describing here.

        • so if God made evolution happen just to trick us, doesn’t that still mean god made evolution happen? and that we should consider all his works gifts? or is god just being contrary here and saying ” only love these particular things i am giving you.”

          • God did not make evolution happen. He allowed people to be deluded into thinking it happened after the deception of their own hearts. Evolution is a lie. It is an intricate system of science mixed with the will and imagination of man who does not, in his fallen state, want to acknowledge responsibility to the Creator. Adolf Hitler said that men often will believe a lie if you make it a very big one! All the science in evolution is a detailed straining out a gnat while they swallow the camel whole – humps and all.

            • So retreating to the macro scale, The observances, factual information submitted by science later compiled into the international data library of human ancestry, proven data transference, perfect matching of entropy data, physical everyday confirmations, and indisputable facts of daily life are all just humanity being swayed into trying to understanding the world around them?

              Sorry bun bun ( thunder bunny–> bun bun, that’s the mental progression of how you got your nickname) but i think you’re overlooking a pretty damn big fact that ALL religions share, be they christian, hindu, or islam. “scripture” is the “word of god”- written by man. If you’re claiming that scientific theory is:

              ” an intricate system of science mixed with the will and imagination of man who does not, in his fallen state, want to acknowledge responsibility to the Creator”

              Essentially in more to the point less “look how pretty writing about faith is” terms, you are claiming that anything human does incurs bias and influence by personal interest.

              So Bun-Bun, if the word of man that can be easily fact checked against pure physical means . IE “I don’t care how much you disagree that the sun is hot, you fly into it you’ll be burned.”

              Where on EARTH do you possibly travel to gather the AUDACITY to attack these “observed, provable truths” based on “Truths” from the book that a bunch of HUMANS wrote about their OBSERVATIONS of Jesus and their JUDGEMENTS of how great he was and their INTERPRETATIONS of what Jesus meant when he spoke to them.

              I’m sorry, but i am a SCIENTIST, science isn’t like fields where mythology and theology (technically the same thing just one people believe in more) In science, There is no place for baseless statement. I don’t care how firmly you attest that you caught 300lb goldfish in the creek by your house, it’s going to take some proof to get anyone to believe you caught a goldfish 10 times the size of the largest one over caught. No, the written account by your best friend who was there at the time isn’t helping much either, I suppose it doesn’t help much that it occasionally contradicts his verbal telling either.

              Science is based on facts, I find in real life facts are usually the things that bear the most importance, so whatever you tell yourself sitting in church in some feeble attempt to distance yourself from the cold reality that for all intensive purposes you alone control the destiny before you. I’ve read many of your comments and it seems that you are clearly of the type who cannot function without believing the some higher power has “got your back” and will always protect you. It is somewhat humorous how easily God can be likened to the popular girl in high school.

              You actually seem PROUD to be with someone who only allows you to share in her popularity as long as you repeatedly tell her she’s pretty and look at the floor whenever other girls are in sight so she doesn’t get jealous. Why do you take PRIDE in that she only is nice to you as long as you buy things for her, and do all her homework so she can spend her evenings freely insulting you or spending time with other guys.

              Sorry for the direct attack Bun-Bun, but i just couldn’t stand watching you argue another fact with fiction.

              • I am willing, as the writer of this article described, to freely accept, that the concept of “God” was an open and technically not-untrue metaphor for “anything and everything” as in God somehow knows what is best for all of us, because he IS all of us, we as a whole incalculable mass of spinning make up the construct known as god, and thusly God is the assimilation of all things that have been or will be. But if you think I’m going to start changing my life based on things that people who wrote about Jesus ALSO said, you’ll have a better chance of getting me to accept the reality of your goldfish.

                Ta-Ta Bun-Bun

              • Aoshi,
                You stated, “Why do you take PRIDE in that she only is nice to you as long as you buy things for her, and do all her homework so she can spend her evenings freely insulting you or spending time with other guys.” You’ve got to be kidding, right? The core of Christianity is that God gave his Son to a sinful world, while we were yet hostile and walking contrary to him. Your statement also reveals your underlying heart toward God, and the reason your science will never lead you to the truth.
                The problem with science as a foundation is that you will never have sufficient data to determine the past or the future. Another problem is that in regard to the Creator, what is created is attempting to stand outside of God and evaluate Him, which by very definition is impossible. It is like a bug, with its bug wits trying to interpret the human being and his motives by its antennae and bug brains. I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again: What a person believes drives his science.

              • I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again: What a person believes drives his science.

                This, without doubt, is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. I read a lot.

                Science is a method that allows reality to arbitrate claims – yours mine, anyone’s – made about it. The method reveals whether or not a claim works to explain stuff that is the same for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s why your magic box in front of you works to reproduce and distribute symbols you produce through the machine operating the same for everyone everywhere all the time. The symbols that show up on my magic box are identical to the ones you sent. It does not work because of what someone else believes; it works because the knowledge adduced from reality about how reality operates allows us collectively to build stuff like these magic boxes that, when tested by reality, seems to work. It is the working that arbitrates these claims and not anyone’s belief that it does so. Belief doesn’t drive science: knowledge drives it. And religious belief creates zero knowledge. This is a clue…

              • Aoshi,
                I gotta tell you, you talk sophistication and science out the one side of your mouth, and “bun bun” name-calling out the other, and I start feeling like I’m talking to someone in a kindergarten playground and not a science lab or university.

              • regarding that, I’m human and therefore subject to complete bias in whatever i say, only that without bias can be accepted, ergo matter which cannot speak.

                that is the true source of information, not the word of man.

                not mine, not moses’s, not thunder’s
                Presenting anything as “truth” with no unquestionable backing is unrivaled futility.

                now that my point has been made i appologize for the name calling, you didn’t bite on my statement yesterday about magnets on rails, so i had to try again.

              • you’ve stated previously that ” the only way to find salvation is the love of god?” – only reciprocating if she is the only girl we acknowledge and calling the others ugly should our eyes meet.

                “god created the observable foundation for evolution to trick us” – no real care for us if we don’t consistently shower her with attention and praise.

                I’m willing to accept any information as viable until it is either proven or disproven, however when a written work as a whole is disproven time after time after time after time, eventually you must adobt a mentality, of ” we can’t be positive it is right or wrong, so it must be set aside as any sort of reference. a bird craps in your car enough times eventually you start closing your moon roof when you park it.

        • When we approach issues of God with a beginning point of denying what we know to be true, God will help us in our self-delusion. For this reason we need to take a great deal of care in how we approach issues of God and the eternal. In regard to God tempting, Scripture tells us that God cannot be tempted, and neither does He tempt. It also says, however that to the crafty, God will show Himself to be shrewd. Craftiness is a perversion of wisdom, and shrewdness is an answer to this perversion.

          • Thunder, for the first time, I can legitimately pull an Ashley and say that entire comment is absolute nonsensical babble. What are you trying to say here?

            What are you suggesting is this false starting point, this point of ‘denying what we know to be true?’ The entire point of asking questions is when you begin with the one truth of man, that man knows nothing. What are you suggesting that we as humans ‘know to be true’ that we are apparently ‘denying?’ Are you suggesting that we know ‘God’ and we are simply all in denial until we stop questioning the nature of the universe and just settle with the answer, “God did it,” and be content?

            Now, all of a sudden, ‘God’ deluding us by making observations of science exist is ‘Him’ being shrewd? How is it sensible and practical to make the universe with endless, minute detail, make a creature who has the mental capacity to, over the course of generations, comprehend those details, and then tell that being it is wrong to pursue those details? Or are you suggesting ‘God’ is tricky, another definition of shrewd? In this, I would agree. You seem to be painting quite the selfish trickster the more you discuss ‘God’ and ‘His’ apparent elaborate scheme of creating science just to test if we’ll pursue it or abandon it, and actually holding our eternal soul as the prize for what our choice ends up being. Yes, what a shrewd tricky ‘God’ you have made here.

            And who said anything about people being ‘crafty?’ Man’s perception on the world is determined by his observations of that world. What we see, hear, feel, taste, smell. We are made to be slaves to our senses, because it is the only way we can understand the world around us, and as humans, we are driven to understand the world. That is what our consciousness represents above the consciousness of animals. Are you suggesting that our curiosity for the world around us is crafty, even if we attribute all the things we find in that curious search to ‘God?’

            As for ‘God’ having the inability to tempt, you’d have to paint quite another elaborate and sensible picture of how 1) the example of the Tree of Knowledge in the story of Adam and Eve is not an example of ‘God’s’ temptation of man, and 2) you’re going to have to disprove my point of your description of ‘God’ being equal to a whiny woman who refuses to accept that her man is faithful to her.

      • RT, you’re doing it again. You are ignoring all the clues – subtle and not so subtle – that your creationist beliefs stand in conflict with and in deed reject reality we share. Why should anyone listen to anything you have to say when you seem determined in the name of your creationist beliefs to reject anything this shared reality has to say in claims you make about it?

        By definition, this delusional thinking in action.

        You are ignoring the trillion dollar investments mining and resource extraction companies spend based not on biblical accounts but real world geology… geology that does not fit your religious ideas. Geology is the study of the earth’s rock formations and, based on these SAME geological explanations that fit the data, these companies spend this money and profit by this SAME understanding. The geological explanation YOU REJECT, works for them. (Funny, that. How does this comport with your contrary biblically-inspired beliefs? You don’t offer a reasonable alternative but a few cherry-picked examples that only appear to comport)

        Your stories don’t fir the data. These companies wouldn’t do this if the explanations didn’t work. And the explanations don’t work if we change the model to the biblical account. If the Flood happened, then we should have evidence of a global flood occurring at the same time. Simply put, reality does not support this. We do not find evidence of a global sedimentary layer. We do not find a same-aged alluvial field. We find an evolving earth destroying bedrock at one edge of tectonic plates and crating it at the other; we find magnetite in basalt across the Atlantic floor revealing a continuous spreading for hundreds of millions of years… each uniform ridge pointing at an altering magnetic north pole; we find the law of superposition at work everywhere all the time and a global geologic column that remains uniform. Sedimentary layers in this column (like ice core samples) trap local historical events in ascending order. No flood. (This column also directly supports evolutionary theory in that we never, ever, even once, at any time in any place by anyone find a complex critter before the Precambrian and increasing complexity as we rise through the column. Again, funny that, eh?.)

        Again and again and again, your square peg of a creationist account does not fit the round holes of the data everywhere we look.

        There isn’t enough water in the world to cover it to a depth needed according to your account.

        There isn’t any evidence for the spiral pattern of critters moving outwards from a restart position such an extinction event must have if true.

        Biogeography does not support the flora and fauna of islands we know of if a global flood occurred.

        Nothing reality offers us fits with your account.

        Nothing.

        And it doesn’t have to be this way.

        But is IS this way.

        In other words, you’ve got nothing but an ancient source of compiled writings you hold to have authority that does not match what reality shows us to be true about it. That’s just the way it is. You do mental gymnastics to try to maintain your fictional beliefs to be historical and literal non fiction and it causes you to hold a position of cognitive dissonance to disregard what reality shows us to be true about while at the exact same time utilizing these explanations in your own life to provide you with comforts and technologies, practical applications that work, remarkable availability of food and energy to sustain you, modern medicine to treat your ailmensts, and all brought about by the exact SAME scientific method you must reject to maintain your religious creationist beliefs.

        As hard as it may be for you to hear (or read), your creationist beliefs are factually and demonstrably wrong not because I say so but because reality is trying its very best to convince you to give up the delusion. Your religious beliefs don’t fit the data. To claim all the data is wrong (as you are actually doing) while having no problem whatsoever accepting all the SAME data revealed to us by the SAME method to be right in all other areas of the life you live where your religious beliefs are irrelevant is a clue of the scope and depth of intellectual hypocrisy you refuse to recognize in the name of piety. This intentional disconnect you exercise from the reality we share and utilize to the same degree (and your rejection to even try to educate yourself and understand why evolution is true) we share is your intellectual undoing and enters your name on to the rollcall of the delusional. This makes my continuing efforts to engage you directly moot because you will not accept reality’s role to arbitrate your beliefs about it. When you are willing, then I shall be, too.

        • Tildeb,
          It’s really difficult to listen to all that from a guy who takes global warming seriously and calls it good science. Political science maybe.
          RT

          • I allow reality to determine how much confidence I place in explanations about it. You might want to try that, and lift the religious fog that is clouding and, at times, obscuring your judgement.

            • Tildeb,
              You are beginning from a foundation of the Creation and from there trying to evaluate all other things, including God. Therefore everything in regard to God will appear foolish to you, because it is foundational to the natural world, and though you are standing on this foundation, you do not include it in your thinking because you are beginning with a subset of all that is.

              • This is gibberish, RT. You first assert god is and then think that you’ve arrived at this conclusion. You haven’t. Nowhere in any foundations we adduce from reality do we find POOF!ism at work. My creation began at conception, a biological process we actually understand. We can put aside assertions of ‘Storkism’ when it comes to our humble beginnings because we have an explanation that works perfectly well solely from a biological understanding. We don’t need storks for understanding the foundations of our inception any more than we need your god. If your god were ‘foundational’ then there should be evidence for this interactive agency you continue to claim exerts influence and effects in this world. So demonstrate it! Stop asserting and start demonstrating. Put aside your bible and bring forth compelling evidence from reality for the agency you assert is real, is true, is active. I’ll listen. I’ll look. I’ll test. I promise. But I won’t pretend to respect your assertions on the basis of more of your assertions; this is guaranteed way to fool one’s self. What I will do is respect reality’s arbitration of them, and so far your assertions are sorely lacking any substance except your assertions. This is a clue as to their truth value… zero.

        • Ashley, Tildeb, other atheists:

          Here is what I don’t understand about the atheist. If I believed that human beings were nothing more than the random coming together of chemicals according to time and chance, I would have no other conclusion but to believe that we all think and do what we do because we have no other choice. Science is predicable, right? Given the same elements, the same dynamics, the same conditions, we would expect to see the same results. That is the entire foundation for science and the scientific method. We would simply, like an extremely complex computer, arrive at all thinking and action by our chemical makeup and our environment. I would have to conclude that free will was only an illusion, and that if one had enough data on the chemical and neurological structures of a person’s mind, and could conduct a properly controlled experiment, that he could predict a person’s behavior and decisions every single time. I would have to say that you are an atheist and I am a Christian because we can do no other. (So why discuss? What would be the point?) Why would you make the leap from scientific cause and effect, cause and effect, to free will? In order to have free will, wouldn’t there have to be a “you” that transcends the cause and effect natural world? Wouldn’t the real “you” have to be capable of first causes?
          When my dog suddenly grabbed a kitten by the neck that was eating out of its dish, shook it, making it convulse and die, I did not assign moral blame at all to this action. It was just being a dog. But if I killed your child or stole something important to you, I guarantee you that you would not give me such a moral pass. Suddenly, you would hold me to an external standard of right, wrong, and justice. You would rise up in indignation and think, “How could you do such a thing!” But why would mere matter be moral? Why would the coming together of chemicals into a complex arrangement bring moral responsibility? The mud slide does not try to kill people. It just is. There is not a person upon this earth, despite any claims they may make, that does not, in fact, live as if there is a “you” within “you” that is capable of independent thought and moral responsibility. Everyone one of you acts in a way that acknowledges that there is more to humanity than mere physical attributes can give it. By what standard or foundation do you assign moral responsibility? Upon what basis do you attribute free will to what is made up of chemicals that all act according to very strict physical laws?
          In the Darwinian, “survival of the fittest” mentality, none of you would congratulate me if I could, by hook or by crook, wits, or violence, take from you what you’ve worked for all your life. You would not stand in admiration and say, “Buddy, I gotta hand it to you, in this dog eat dog, survival of the fittest world, you’re fitter! And if I could steel your wives and girlfriends to promote my own genes, so long as I did it with wisdom, and a way that truly worked to promote them into the long term future, you would not congratulate me for it. Also in regard to “survival of the fittest”, one must first make a judgment that survival is superior to non-survival, and that all along the way, mindless organisms all held to this belief system. To value life, or even existence itself is a judgment call. A rock certainly does not care that it exists, or if it is the biggest rock in the quarry, with the most rocks like itself. Why would anything purely physical care? And where do the laws, upon we base all science, come from? Why would there be laws? Why would chemicals combine in certain ways? Why would there be order at all? Try as he may, the atheist cannot live consistent with his beliefs.

          • RT, clearly you do not understand the theory of evolution and the terms that describe it. This fault is your own. You write, “In the Darwinian, “survival of the fittest” mentality,…”

            *sigh*

            ‘Fit’ in Darwian terminology means the ability to reach maturation and successfully reproduce. Small critters can be far more ‘fit’ than larger, stronger critters. It is from those who do not understand Darwinian evolution who have earned your attention. This fault is your own. The conjectural rant you produce is certainly based on a misunderstanding that you seem to have no desire to correct. This fault is your own. You espouse beliefs in an interpretation of projections that put you into the category of those who have believed in the 130+ dire predictions about the end of the world and the second coming since the 1800s. All have been wrong. Not recognizing the likelihood that your latest globalization end times take on the state of the world is just as wrong is a fault that is your own. The same climate scientists and organizations that revealed the ozone hole and promoted the means necessary to fix this man made problem are the same ones who today tell us about AGW causing rapid climate change and the effects that will ensue. They, again, tell us what needs to be done (reduce CO2 emissions to environmentally sustainable levels as quickly as possible or face tipping points). You believe the former but not the latter only because one comports with your immigrant religious beliefs (it has no effect) while the other goes directly against god’s promise to humanity (post Flood) and his beneficent permission to rape and pillage and take dominion over the earth without fear of reasonable and demonstrable consequences. Again, this kind of thinking personifies the tin foil hat crowd and delusional from start to finish.

        • That is not a meaningful answer, and you know it. Let me ask you again. How do you explain the fact that we are aware that we are alive and doing things? A computer does things, and is not aware. A back hoe digs dirt, but has no awareness of what it is doing. What is your answer to this fundamental question?

          • I’d go back, once again, to the human’s dependency on chemical addictions. All animals have a level of self-awareness. Animals know when they are in pain, when they are hungry, when they are in danger. Some animals have keener senses, which allow them to be more intuitive about their surroundings than we are. The only real difference between man and animal in terms of self-awareness and consciousness is our intentions and drives behind what we do. Our brains facilitate stronger electromagnetic pulses than other animals, and our bodies facilitate more complex chemical reactions and chemical dependencies due to those reactions which other animals do not experience. Between these two physical differences between man and other animals, we have the illusion of ‘spirit’ or ‘consciousness’ on a higher level than animals, and ‘self-awareness’ which is of a higher potency than other animals.

            I’ll note, by the way, that I brought this point up in our discussion of the ‘spirit’ previously, and you conveniently ignored this aspect of the conversation from then on. Any reason why?

            • Rana,
              I did not try to ignore your question. There are a lot of replies in these threads that are directed toward me from multiple people, and each reply has multiple parts and my head starts to hurt after a while. So I tend to pick up on the points where something strikes me, rather than address all points. The ones from people that basically say, “You’re an idiot”, etc., etc., I ignore if that is all they say, and if they address some point as well, I try to pick out the point and answer that and let the rest go. (Your post was not among those who are name-calling but saying nothing, so if I missed something, it was not intentional.)
              But in regard to animals and their having a spirit, Scripture affirms that they do, in fact have a spirit (Eccl 3:20-21) , and also that “The life is in the blood” in regard to both man and animals (Lev. 17:14, Deut. 12:23) Killing and eating animals is part of the fall. In fact, it was only after the flood, with man now in a new, harsher environment and in need of heartier sustenance that God gave permission to man to eat animals. (Creationists speculate that there had been a canopy over the earth, which broke down in the events of the flood, the flood being comprised of much more than rain – it says that the fountains of the deep were broken up – perhaps by another celestial body passing very close to earth, disrupting the oceans, etc. This canopy would have distributed heat much better than the current atmosphere. And after the flood, man’s lifespan rapidly decreased.)
              But it is clear that God’s focus is man, not animals. Paul tells us in regard to the verse, “Do not muzzle the ox while it treads out the grain, that God says this for our benefit, that those who plow should share in the rewards, not because He is concerned about animals. (And our entitlement society is now creating a disconnect between working and enjoying the rewards.)
              So animals have a spirit, but Scripture says very little about it, because again, it is not God’s focus – at least in regard to what He is trying to get across to man. Do animals live on? I don’t know. Do they go to hell? No. They are amoral. Heaven? If so, they are there for man’s enjoyment, as God made plain in Creation. Did that answer your concern? RT

          • Sure it is, and you know it!

            If you seek honest explanations (rather than faitheist pseudo-answers), then look to biology and begin the journey towards knowledge. But it’s useless for me to try to drag you there because you’ve amply demonstrated that you won’t go; you have already and repeatedly rejected any and all data from reality. You have your pat answer in your religious beliefs… an answer that answer nothing but acts to bolster your sense of self-aggrandized access to the divine. Reality obviously can’t compete with your delusions and I’m afraid that reality is all I have to offer.

            • Tildeb,
              You said, “…look to biology and begin the journey toward knowledge.” That is where we fundamentally differ. When you begin with the creation, you will only bounce around within the box of what has been created. If we begin with God, it answers the questions of ourselves, God, and Creation as a side-benefit. We differ at our starting points. My foundation includes yours, but yours is too small to include mine.

          • Do you really think I’m going to waste my time telling you exactly how human thought works? I just watched you toss out Tildeb’s entire logical conclusion that geological research conclusively proves, just because it disagreed with your “he said- she beliefs” better known as modern day religion.

            That said, here’s a greatly simplified explanation you can happily ignore as you go on citing a book with about as much influence on the physical world around us as fifty shades of gray.

            The human brain like all other living creatures possesses these things called synapses, billions and billions of em, all lined up together to form this wonderful organ we call the brain. In reaction to external and internal stimuli our brains release chemicals better known as amino acid chains. When certain cataloged amino acid chains come in contact with synapses, documented, testable ,consistent, and UNIFORM reactions occur. this can be either emotion or understanding, human consciousness is simply a running backlog of past feelings and emotions that affect our current behavior of either repeating or avoiding past emotions and sensations (sensations being handled by the central nervous system and introduced to the brain through these same synapses.)

            Hopefully it’s not to shocking for you to realize that if i could manipulate these synapses in your brain properly i could make you think and feel whatever i wanted, therefore affecting your consciousness. Cutely enough, “love potions” are a completely real thing. Thankfully administering the exact right dose oxytocin to the exact right synapses is very difficult, and not something most people are willing to go through in the pursuit of a non reciprocal mate.

            also since you seem to love to reference scripture so much allow me to reference above.
            Lord Aoshi: right there: all of it.

            frankly my citation bears more weight when you consider credibility. we KNOW I exist, and it’s the native language of the creator, so we KNOW there are no translation errors, and clarification context is readily available. so technically I’m pretty sure my word carries more weight than any version of the bible created by dozens of un-named authors on their own merit.

      • In regard to self-awareness, I would also offer this to Ashley and those who demand that we prove the existence of God: The only self-awareness that we are absolutely certain of is our own. We cannot prove the consciousness of those around us, and we cannot prove to others our own consciousness. There is no scientific test for self-awareness. We would have to actually BE the other person while simultaneously retaining our own awareness so we could evaluate it. We all do, deep down, KNOW that others are conscious, because we know our own and we see millions of signs that others are like us in this way. But we cannot prove it, or our own. In the same way, evidence abounds everywhere pointing to the existence of God, and I believe that we all know this until we harden against it, though we may be quite legitimately confused as to the nature and identity of this God. I understand that Rana would differ with me on the idea that we all deep down know. I offer Scripture’s own testimony here:
        Ps 19:1-4
        1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
        2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
        3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
        4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
        And also this:
        Rom 1:18-32
        18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
        19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
        20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
        21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
        22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
        23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
        24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
        25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator– who is forever praised. Amen.
        26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
        27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
        28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
        29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
        30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
        31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
        32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
        (NIV)

        Our own self-awareness, the fact that we know we did not make ourselves, and that elements and mere objects are not self-aware speaks volumes. We must reach beyond the physical world to address the issue of self-awareness.
        RT

        • Rana,
          Here is is in a nutshell. The heart of man’s problem is the problem of the heart. The head is also corrupt, but not the root issue of the corruption. A corrupt heart will direct the head improperly. God is not primarily about fixing our thinking. He is about fixing our hearts, and right thinking will follow. And sometimes the best way to reveal the heart is to answer it after its own ways. It’s as if God is saying, “So you want to believe a lie? Here! Try this! God knows how to deal with the heart. In fact, only God can really deal with it.
          Jer 17:9-10
          9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
          10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

          One cannot convince the head of what the heart will not accept.
          In regard to temptation, etc., there is a strange relationship between God and Satan as revealed in Scripture. God is dealing with both the fallen angelic realm and fallen man at the same time, and the fallen angels have certain legal rights in regard to mankind, which God, in His integrity, will not change. Man’s sin gave Satan a legal right to tempt, harass, and so on. It was the serpent (Satan) in the Garden of Eden that did the tempting) God allows Satan to bring delusion, and so forth. We see in the book of Job that Satan asked God to strike all that Job had, And God allowed it. But Satan’s goals and God’s goals were very different. Satan’s goal was to, through difficulties that Job would not understand, entice Job to blaspheme and reject God. God’s goal was to reveal to Job his self-righteousness (rooted in pride and the sin nature), and the fear and anxiety that comes with it, and to transfer the weight of righteousness off of his own shoulders and enter into God’s righteousness, which is by faith.

          • a heart is a muscle, it isn’t even capable of directing information TO the brain, only receive the information to expand and contract. All information given to the brain FROM the heart actually comes from nerves in the tissue surrounding the heart, and even those don’t really gather all that much.

            I don’t see why we even bother discussing science with you when you go around saying silly things like “the heart feels things. and “the heart thinks.”

            or was that a metaphor? in which case, it’s all in the brain and the heart simply refers to feeling and emotion, the concepts that FUEL corruption and everything else really, human emotion is the culprit here which is handled in the Amygdala, in the hippocalmus of our brains, surely the people at the time didn’t know this so simply wrote about what they understood, essentially in the same way that mythology was to exist.

*Insert your thought here*

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