Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
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31-08-2015, 01:41 PM
Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
Hello again everyone. Call of the Wild has been asking the community for another shot in the ring, and I accepted his challenge. This time I am going take the lead when it comes to what we discuss and we are going to cover a range of subjects, as long as we don't get bogged down in one particular subject. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if we did, so we are going to let the chips fall where they may.

So for starters, I wanted to discuss Christian Apologetics. From my perspective as an apostate unbeliever in an Atheist community Christian Apologetics don't seem to actually convince anyone to become a Christian. In fact, I am not at all convinced that is even the main function or original purpose behind apologetics. It seems a very effective tool when it comes to reassuring doubting Christians who can be anywhere from just mildly curious, or going through a full blown faith crisis.

What is your opinion of that idea, and what do you think is the role of apologetic arguments in conversion and proselytizing?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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31-08-2015, 06:48 PM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
(31-08-2015 01:41 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Hello again everyone. Call of the Wild has been asking the community for another shot in the ring, and I accepted his challenge. This time I am going take the lead when it comes to what we discuss and we are going to cover a range of subjects, as long as we don't get bogged down in one particular subject. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if we did, so we are going to let the chips fall where they may.

I am thrilled to have such a discussion with someone whom I really respect and give props to. Thumbsup

(31-08-2015 01:41 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  So for starters, I wanted to discuss Christian Apologetics. From my perspective as an apostate unbeliever in an Atheist community Christian Apologetics don't seem to actually convince anyone to become a Christian. In fact, I am not at all convinced that is even the main function or original purpose behind apologetics. It seems a very effective tool when it comes to reassuring doubting Christians who can be anywhere from just mildly curious, or going through a full blown faith crisis.

What is your opinion of that idea, and what do you think is the role of apologetic arguments in conversion and proselytizing?

This is a very good question and an excellent way to kick things off. Well, the main purpose of Christian Apologetics is to defend. Now sure, if we (apologists) can lead people to Christ via apologetics, then fine. But the main purpose is to defend our faith. And you are correct, it can also be an effective tool for reassuring doubting Christians. It can be used to strengthen one's faith.

It is my opinion that Christian Apologetic's should be taught in churches across the world. As good as the kingdom is, there is an ignorance amongst the church involving why they believe what they believe...and then you will have an atheist calling Christians out on it, about how they believe based on faith without reason.

Christian apologetic's is a tool which believers can use to demonstrate that not only do we have faith (trust) but we also have REASONS to believe. When an atheist overhears a group of Christians talking about the Bible, and the atheist chimes in and makes the typical "Gospels were written 100 years after Jesus' death" "The Gospels are unreliable", "Jesus never existed because blah blah blah"...the average person who just accepts by "faith" will be unable to offer a response to such statements. However, the believer with a background in apologetics can offer a response.

When the atheist makes such statements as above, and the believer is unable to adequately respond, the atheist feels as if he has done a good thing. He gets that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, knowing that he "stumped a Christian".

But it is the Christian that wants to walk away with that warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing that he/she has successfully fended off attacks from the opposition.

Ultimately, a Christian apologist is fighting on behalf God. It is a fight for something and someone much bigger than ourselves.

So to answer your question, the objective is to DEFEND the faith against attackers. If anyone asks, "Well, why does it need to be defended", I will ask, "Well, why does it need to be attacked?".

You said that apologetics never really wins over any converts, which is true. But to me, the problem isn't the lack of good, solid arguments for Christianity. The problem is the close-mindedness, anger, and arrogance of the unbelievers. At least, that is what it is to me.

That is my personal opinion on Christian apologetics, and it's purpose.
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01-09-2015, 01:45 AM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
Thank you. I am looking forward to this one, especially given how much I enjoyed the last one.

I am interested to know if you consider Christianity to be under attack in general, either globally and/or especially here in America. I hear a lot of victim rhetoric from different Christian sources in particular often enough that I have taken notice of the trend.

I like the idea of Christians, or religious people in general really, getting their collective butts off a church pew and into a library. I find it very difficult to have respect for someone's perspective if they are simply too comfortable and lazy with their un-examined conclusions to do any real intellectual work. Even when I was a Mormon, I took pride in my initiative to look up what information I did not know or understand about my religion and our belief system. Unfortunately, that organization turned out to be less than forthright about a great deal of information, but I don't think that reflects poorly on me at the time. I did very well with what information I had available to me.

It can be frustrating and embarrassing when Christians I talk to about religion don't know what their religion teaches about a given subject, don't know the basic content of the Bible, or are generally unaware of fundamental principles. I suppose my background in extreme fundamentalist religion makes it difficult for me to see what virtues there may be in a style of faith that is nothing more than comfortably cultural.

I want to get your opinion on the roles of both faith vs. reasoning and evidence when it comes to belief in Christianity. I think this is will continue to be a real sticking point from the Atheist perspective because those two methods of inquiry seem very much in conflict. If there are adequate reasons and evidence to believe in Christianity where does faith need to come in? The job seems already done. Likewise, if faith is the best route to the truth of Christianity, why are you here sharing what would then be contextually pointless arguments? I am sure you have heard many times how Atheists tend to explain this poor relationship between methods. It looks a lot like a group of people using reasoning and evidence as best they can, but relying on faith to go the real distance to the desired belief.

When it comes to Christianity needing defenders and attackers, I think one possible answer might be that its truth is not so clear cut after all. Don't you think it would be a reasonable expectation for something evidently, obviously, and unalterably true to be accepted easily and by everyone who isn't insane?

Since you asked about attackers in particular, you should know that this is one particular point that I feel very strongly about. Aside from the question of whether it's objectively true or not, I find Christianity to be very harmful and deeply immoral. I would be very interested to know if you really, to your core, want Christianity to be true, and if so why?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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02-09-2015, 05:41 PM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I am interested to know if you consider Christianity to be under attack in general, either globally and/or especially here in America.

I don’t necessarily think it is just Christianity that is under attack, but religion in general. Christianity just seems to be more on the forefront, perhaps because it is the world’s largest religion and there are quite a few prominent people in America that are self-proclaimed Christians, whether it be politicians, athletes, entertainers, etc. Since it is believed by the masses, it is more tempting to go after the big guy than the little guys (take Scientology, for example).

I don’t necessarily have a problem with the attacks, as I am all about freedom of speech. I just hope and pray that that is the extent of it, as opposed to religious PERSECUTION, which should be avoided at all cost.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I hear a lot of victim rhetoric from different Christian sources in particular often enough that I have taken notice of the trend.

I think the latest trend for the past 15-20 years or so have been because of the rise of the New Atheist movement. I think we can thank Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, and even to some degree Stephen Hawking; all of those guys started such a movement with their best-selling books which denounce God and religion.

They’ve also pumped up the volume when it comes to the anti-religious tone of the books along with their speaking verbiage. The books, along with their televised interviews and speaking engagements to promote the books, have all led to the attack trends against religion, even to this day.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I like the idea of Christians, or religious people in general really, getting their collective butts off a church pew and into a library. I find it very difficult to have respect for someone's perspective if they are simply too comfortable and lazy with their un-examined conclusions to do any real intellectual work.

Even when I was a Mormon, I took pride in my initiative to look up what information I did not know or understand about my religion and our belief system. Unfortunately, that organization turned out to be less than forthright about a great deal of information, but I don't think that reflects poorly on me at the time. I did very well with what information I had available to me.

Yeah, me too. That is actually a pet peeve of mines; believers who haven’t read anything outside of the Bible, nor do they have the desire to. People that don’t think for themselves or question authority, pet peeve.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are a prime example of this. From the looks of things, sounds like you have the part under control.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  It can be frustrating and embarrassing when Christians I talk to about religion don't know what their religion teaches about a given subject, don't know the basic content of the Bible, or are generally unaware of fundamental principles.

Yes. This is what I am guilty of, at times. There have been times where I’ve learned certain things about the Bible, stuff that I should have already known at this point in my life. Sometimes, I feel as if I am so caught up in apologetics that I am out of touch on the fundamental principles and the mere essences of the faith that I am defending!! It is quite shameful, especially if it is an unbeliever that is the one “teaching” you.

Actually, that is probably the worst thing an atheist/critic can tell me is “You don’t know your own Bible”, or something of that effect.
I am currently in the process of reading the entire Bible, from Genesis-Revelation, and right now I am in the book of Matthew. Admittedly, I had some difficulty reading some of the books of the prophets due to the symbolic or prophetic nature of the books, but at the very least I’ve scanned through every single page of the Bible.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I want to get your opinion on the roles of both faith vs. reasoning and evidence when it comes to belief in Christianity. I think this is will continue to be a real sticking point from the Atheist perspective because those two methods of inquiry seem very much in conflict.

If there are adequate reasons and evidence to believe in Christianity where does faith need to come in? The job seems already done.

Good question. The faith comes in because for all we know, Christianity could be false. Allow me to explain; when it comes to Christianity, the evidence for it is based on history (and on personal experience, but since personal experience is limited to the person, we need not bring it here), and historical inquiries are based on certain criterion. Once you gather the given data and analyze it, you can determine or make a case as to what PROBABLY happened, or what PROBABLY didn’t happen.

The problem is, even if you are able to determine what probably happened, that still doesn’t necessarily mean that it happened, it just means that based on the evidence, it PROBABLY did. But there is still always the chance that it didn’t.

So, for all we know, Christianity COULD be false and another religion could be true. Now, Christians (at least those that examined the evidence) believe that the evidence, as it has been presented to us, is enough to throw all of our eggs into the Christian basket. So we accept by faith that what we believe is true. It is belief with reason. It is not the typical “blind faith” that atheists used to charge us with. Those days are long gone.

However, the historical evidence for the Resurrection is nothing new, the problem was/is that most Christians aren’t aware or just plain ignorant of the evidence, so in a way they are exercising “blind faith”…which is not contrary to the atheist accusations (in most cases).

That is, however, my faith in Christianity (particularly). When it comes to theism in general, I don’t need to have faith. It can prove beyond any reasonable doubt that time had to have a beginning, and that infinite regression is impossible…and from that, what follows is the necessity of a timeless entity. Here, there is absolutely, positively no faith required for theism in this regard.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Likewise, if faith is the best route to the truth of Christianity, why are you here sharing what would then be contextually pointless arguments?

I am having difficulty understanding this question. Please elaborate.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I am sure you have heard many times how Atheists tend to explain this poor relationship between methods. It looks a lot like a group of people using reasoning and evidence as best they can, but relying on faith to go the real distance to the desired belief.

Not me.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  When it comes to Christianity needing defenders and attackers, I think one possible answer might be that its truth is not so clear cut after all. Don't you think it would be a reasonable expectation for something evidently, obviously, and unalterably true to be accepted easily and by everyone who isn't insane?

Ahhh yes. It is my opinion that every single human being that isn’t insane DOES in fact believe in god. They just don’t WANT to believe in god. I mean, just think about it for a second; if you pop the hood of a car, you will see all kinds of parts, parts that are all configured in a way to ensure that the car runs properly. No one will argue against that, right? No one will also argue against the fact that we know that cars are designed, right?

Now, you cut open the stomach of a human being, and you will see “all kinds of parts, parts that are all configured in a way to ensure that the human operates properly. No one will argue against that, right?

When comparing the human anatomy with automobile “anatomy”, why on earth is it ok to accept that the car was designed by beings of intelligence, but not ok to believe that the human body was design by a being of intelligence?? In both cases, the same thing applies, yet one is designed and the other one isn’t?

I just don’t think that a rational human being can believe that the human body owes its origins to a mindless and blind process. A process that CAN’T SEE, gave you eyes to see? You can’t even blindfold a human being and tell him to DRAW a picture of a human eye on paper without him screwing up somewhere along the lines, yet you have the audacity to believe that a mindless and blind process gave you not only one eye, but two eyes, not only a highly complex and functional brain, but consciousness to go with the brain?? C’mon.

I just DON’T think a rational human being can believe this. And to be quite honest, I think that when an atheists have to do something very unique in all of this..they have to convince THEMSELVES that god doesn’t exist. That’s right. Every single atheist in the world that isn’t insane convinces his/her self that god doesn’t exist. Why? Because they don’t want god to exist, that’s why. No one likes the idea of a cosmic creator telling them what to do, who to sleep with, etc. That is what the real reason is, in my opinion.

(01-09-2015 01:45 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Since you asked about attackers in particular, you should know that this is one particular point that I feel very strongly about. Aside from the question of whether it's objectively true or not, I find Christianity to be very harmful and deeply immoral. I would be very interested to know if you really, to your core, want Christianity to be true, and if so why?

Deep question. I already know theism is true, but Christianity in general, do I want it to be true? Yes, that is mainly due to the fact that I like the concept of an afterlife. I don’t like the thought of ceasing to exist after I die. Now sure, there are other religions that offer an afterlife after you die, but Christianity, from top to bottom, makes more sense in light of EVERYTHING..from the historicity of Jesus’ Resurrection, all the way to the creation account.

I like what Christianity offers me more than any other religion, plus I have good reasons to believe that it is the one true religion..plus I like its teachings and what Christ was about.

It all kind of reminds me of being an athlete or any student that excels in academics. You get all of these college recruiters visiting you, and giving you offers all while telling you why you should join their college, and why their college is superior to the rest. Or a professional athlete that is a free agent, and can sign with any team he wants. Suddenly, his phone starts ringing with all of these different teams passing him offers.

Well, the same thing with religion. All of these different religions, all of these different gods…all of them are making me offers…but one particular religion, Christianity, sent a representative to me, named Jesus aka “Christ”. Jesus spoke to me, and made me an offer, and I liked what he had to say above the rest. His offer was far better than the rest, and I accepted the offer, and now I am part of “Team Christ”.
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03-09-2015, 09:43 AM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
Apologetics and the "We're Persecuted" Narrative

I want to just take a moment and push back on the main premise or purpose of apologetics. If it's main purpose is to defend a religion that is seen as under attack, I want to question the very idea first that it is attacked and persecuted at all, and second that it needs a defense. I am curious to see what you think as we go along.

For example, I experience a little bit of a difference in perspective when it comes to comparing Christianity to something like Scientology. If anything, I think the average person in America is much more willing to criticize the tenets of Scientology and to generally treat the religion and members with mockery. Whereas Christianity is popular, common, and has long since become highly enmeshed with western culture. In as many ways as culture has changed to reflect Christian doctrines, Christian churches have evolved to meet the demands of cultural changes. Small and relatively new religions like Scientology or my own past, Mormonism are easily and often dismissed as dangerous "cults" mainly because they lack the cultural integration Christianity has taken so many long years to develop.

Those observations bring me back where I started on the issue of persecution because I find the whole idea of modern Christians being somehow "under attack" or persecuted to be ridiculous and unbelievable in the extreme. If anything I see it as a manufactured narrative that has its roots in legitimate historical persecution. The Roman Empire, for one example, was from time to time very aggressive in the persecution of Christians. They saw Christianity as a counter productive superstition which didn't have the nationalistic piety that so characterized the Roman mythology. Their polytheism was seen as a vital social and political allegiance, and becoming a Christian was seen as an act of rebellion or social treason. As a result, several roman Emperors cracked down on Christians with tough humiliating taxes and a series of anti-Christian pogroms.

I think this is where Christianity started using persecution as a means to an end. Even all throughout the New Testament, you can find scriptures designed to use persecution and unfair treatment as fuel for Christian faith and community building. Not to mention how much it fuels Christian Millennial-ism. All that injustice makes judgement day and the second coming sound like a dream come true, where oppressors will get what's coming to them. When I really think about it, using persecution to re-enforce their belief system was an absolutely brilliant move for Christian growth and survival. They could have been stamped out by the pressure, but instead chose to view the opposition as evidence of their own moral superiority. To be a Christian of that time was synonymous with being abused and yet not harming anyone in return. Having had that commanded of them directly from Jesus's mouth in the New Testament, they must have felt like they were being the best Christians they could be.

From the perspective of an Atheist, I find the way Christians of that day were treated to be deeply disturbing and immoral. I don't want to live in a society that discriminates against its citizens on a religious basis. If the situation were like that today, I might well say that Christianity is under attack, or that Christians are being persecuted.

However, the Christians of today are no longer fighting the establishment, they are the establishment. They are in the majority in every state, with massive political control that they use effectively to gain influence and privileges. They dominate our culture, civil discourse, moral conversations, political struggles, and have a church on nearly every corner, yet we still hear constantly about how Christians are oppressed and intimidated for their beliefs. In many ways, I think the way Christianity clings to its history for inspiration is to blame here, because this narrative who's origins I have just touched on, has outlasted its context and is now being abused. As I have observed about many aspects of religion, it doesn't seem to matter that Christians of today are not treated as they were in Roman times, the narrative is still useful, so it doesn't die out. It seems to matter more that modern Christians gain solidarity and motivation from grossly exaggerated or even imaginary persecution, than the facts of the matter.

It would be one thing if they were simply mistaken about being the victim, but more often then not, they are the hypocrites dealing out the persecution and demanding the political and social supremacy of their beliefs. If you take the time to really digest what these Christians are calling persecution, there is a common theme. Anything less than a privileged status makes them feel persecuted. They don't want to share in a country where all religions are treated equally. They want to continue to dominate the scene. These Christians don't like to have their religion questioned or criticized in public. They don't like it when they have to share public privileges with other faiths or Atheists, which you can tell easily from the hysterical hissy-fits they throw whenever someone cuts in on their pamphlets/books in schools, or statues at the courthouse, action.

They call for national days of Christian prayer in times of disaster and despair. They campaign to put mandatory, teacher led and administration enforced Christian prayer back into public schools,. They have absolutely no concern whatsoever that some of our citizenry is not Christian and does not pray to the god of Christianity. I can only imagine, perhaps with some sour entertainment, the intense outrage and offence they would claim if someone did these things with Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish prayers in mind. I think they wouldn't stop the histrionics until they got their way, or turned too purple to continue. No one would tolerate it if it wasn't the Christians.

As an aside, there are excellent arguments that those things shouldn't be allowed in general in the United States, but since Christians have been allowed to do them in some cases, the belly aching about having to compete in a marketplace of religions is absolutely ridiculous. Either we live in a multicultural society with many races, creeds, and faiths that are treated equally under the law, or we do not. It seems that a great many Christians only believe in a Christian America and don't care much what freedoms they rob others of in the process.

Maybe I could let all this nonsense go if these people weren't dipping their filthy hands into my personal life and the lives of my friends and family. I don't think that non-Christians should be subject to Christian ethics enforced by the law of a secular state. It shouldn't happen. Religions should be content to live their own laws, and not impose them on all other citizens. We shouldn't be having a knock down drag out fight about something like gay marriage for example. Christians should simply live their standards and let everyone else live their own moral codes, without using the law to punish them.

As you can probably tell, this victim narrative is something I feel very strongly about. I don't like hearing about hypocrisy dressed up as family values. Especially not given the outrageously barbarous history of Christianity in particular. A conversation like this between people of our two views just a few hundred years ago wouldn't just be nearly impossible, but I would be having it at the risk of my life. It wouldn't be a quick death either, but a painfully slow death administered by fanatical hooded sadists. Just to put history in perspective, my one quip here about the Inquisition isn't touching even 1% of 1% of the cruelty, misery, death and despair administered by the members and leaders of your faith throughout the world since its founding. As is the case with many ancient governments and faiths, yours is a history marred by crimes against humanity that in many cases are too revolting and heartbreaking to specify. Compare all of that with twenty years of a peaceful social Atheist movement, mostly represented through argumentative scholarly books, and these Christians are all "under attack". The poor things.

I am telling you all of this because I think Christianity needs to put the New Atheist movement into some serious perspective. The fact that other groups are rising, and Christianity is slightly declining, means that Christians are going to be more exposed to ideas that conflict with theirs, and that's okay. If anything the freedom we all share to be our authentic selves and share our opinions should be something Christians are grateful for and respectful of.

The whole thing reminds me of people who talk about racism against white people as though it were more common and more problematic than our American history of systematic institutional racism that perpetrated slavery, then active political/social suppression, and now social inequality. I recognize that just like most young white people in America today, Christians aren't responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. However, if they want to be seen as decent they need to let go of some of their unfair privileges, stop preventing other groups from living their own social/moral laws, and above all stop this hypocritical "victim" rhetoric.

It seems I had a bit of a rant just there. Like I said before, I really feel strongly about this. You can probably feel my frustration, so just know that I am not necessarily including you personally in all of this. I am fully aware that my grievances do not apply to all Christians, maybe not to you either. I would be interested to know your thoughts and views, especially on whether or not Christianity should keep using the whole "persecution" rhetoric.

Doctrinal Ignorance and Church Control

I think you are exactly right about Jehovah's Witnesses. They do exactly what Mormons do when it comes to controlling information and preventing their members from making informed decisions about their faith and theology. Mainstream Christianity got that out of its system when they stopped burning people alive for reading the bible in languages other than Latin.

David Hume and Arguments from Historicity

When it comes to faith and reason, let's set aside our prior argument about cosmology and Deism. I don't think covering that ground again will do us a great deal of good. I read over it again carefully before we began this second conversation just to be sure that I expressed my rebuttal as best I could, and I don't think I can do better. I feel confidant that I proved in more than one way, and still can, that the Kalam is not in any way supported by modern Cosmology and that the beginning of time does not reflect the beginning of everything necessarily. Honestly, I don't even think any of that matters because I think I also did at least a fair job of pointing out just how many flaws exist in the Kalam in the first place. I only need one, so I think I deserve extra credit. Obviously, you don't agree and are saying the same things about the Kalam that you said then, so here we are. In the interest of not completely pulverizing this long-dead horse, let's move on to Christianity in particular, instead of Deism. Consider it doubling down for your side of the argument, since convincing me of the truth of Christianity does the work of the former argument and then some.

First, I need to concede that I understand what you are saying about what we could call "circumstantial" evidence and how that constitutes something beyond blind faith. That seems perfectly reasonable to me and I accept it. You won't catch me calling your faith blind.

I am interested in what you think about a specific aspect of the Historicity of things like, the life and miracles of Jesus, and the resurrection. I don't know if you are familiar with David Hume at all, but my perspective on these historical arguments is largely the result of reading his essays on miracles.

I read a great deal of your historical gospels debate with Worom, even though that kind of thing is always a bit difficult to follow, and I admired the work you both put into it. While I was reading though, I kept having the exact same thought. Why is this argument about who saw what when, and who wrote it down when, when the events described are supernatural?

There is a common quote among Atheists (I think it might be attributed to Carl Sagan, but I am not sure). "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." What that means to me is that some kinds of claims are so unusual, and so outrageous, that they need a higher standard of proof to be believed. Supernatural things by definition defy the natural order, and are often invoked to control or foretell elements of it. So honestly, what would it matter if a man claimed to have seen the dead rise yesterday or a thousand years ago? What would it matter who he knew during his lifetime? It isn't just that the dead have never been proved to have arisen. It is that it would fly in the face of an absolute mountain of scientific evidence and require an intervention that could only be described as magic.

I think you can probably grasp the intuitively what I mean by this, because you and I have to operate on trust for various things all the time. Sometimes for trivial things. For example, a friend might enter your home, go up the stairs, and tell you it's raining heavily outside. You probably believe him because the claim is so trivial you have nothing to lose if he is wrong. Now picture that same friend telling you a person you both saw die last week is downstairs waiting in the living room, looking perfectly healthy. Would you believe them on their word alone?

Hume says basically, you should believe the lesser miracle. In other words, do you think it is more likely that nature has been suspended by magic, or that you are under a misapprehension? If it would be a lesser miracle for you to have made a mistake, that is the most reasonable conclusion. I find that I agree with him, especially given the sheer human potential for error, which is not only my experience but has been systematically studied and observed by science to an extent that could make anyone less than comfortable.

Given this principle, I find it especially interesting that you believe under circumstances of probability when it comes to something like history. From my understanding of historical work, as much as people want to know the truth, more often then not what is determined is what is most likely to have happened given the evidence, but could be wrong just like in any other evidence based discipline.

Ultimately I want to understand, why do you believe in the probability of multiple supernatural events taking place, when they are by definition the least likely to have taken place? Statistically, there is nothing less likely, and scientifically there is nothing less possible. How can there even be an effective argument from the historicity of Christian miracles, when they are by definition the least likely explanation? I would also be interested to know if you think vast amounts of time play a role in your believing these things. Are you more or less likely to believe a claim like a resurrection if it supposedly happened today, or if it was a thousand years ago?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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03-09-2015, 02:20 PM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
Evolution and Stupid Design

I don't if you remember, but you shared your automobile example with me last time around. I posted a response, but we never continued that part of the conversation. I will now re-post that response, and make a few more comments as well. Here goes.

I have some extra time, so I will type out some thoughts on design, and the example you gave me of the disassembled automobile. When you asked me if I would be able, with no knowledge of automobile mechanics, to reconstruct a vehicle from its many haphazardly strewn parts, while wearing a blindfold, I said:

"You wouldn't need to blindfold me to make that a practically impossible task. My lack of knowledge would do the trick with my eyes wide open. So, No. I don't think so. "

You then continued.

Quote:Yet, you will believe that a mindless, blind process was capable of engineering/configuring/assembling an entire human body, from the inside-out??

When someone's stomach is cut open, the insides are analogous to popping the hood of a car...but you, with your lack of knowledge of how a car is assembled, wouldn't be able to pull off the task...but a mindless and blind process, what we call "nature"...was able to pull of the task?

That, my friend, is why it is soooooooo hard for me to become an atheist. I just can't get my mind to believe that.

As you have probably heard before, accepting Evolutionary Theory doesn't require anyone to become an Atheist. There are many people who believe in god who accept it. Many of them believe in "guided evolution", or that god uses evolution as the means for creation.

Aside from that, you are right in that what you describe sounds absurd. My common sense and intuition tells me that it does not make reasonable sense. However, when I consider whether it is truly analogous to evolution, things get interesting. Like many other analogies and examples I have encountered, I do not think this one is a legitimate representation of what biological evolution actually is, or how it works.

For one thing, the process performs no action. It is not an entity, like a human being, capable of construction, configuration, and assembly. Even the language we use in describing the process betrays our biased perspective based in the universal human experience of creating things ourselves. If anyone imagines evolution as something like a creator entity but with its brain removed, it should surprise no one that the whole business seems utterly absurd to them. They have fallen into the trap of projecting an experience based form of creation onto nature, as though there were a magic human being busily building the world like we would build a house.

Evolution is merely what we call the natural process by which biological things change over time. Environmental factors and mutations drive the process. Basically, mutations happen constantly no matter what. The environment dictates which ones allow the species to survive better, or worse. The successful and useful changes live on, the unsuccessful get a Darwin award.

Given enough time, so many changes can take place over so many generations, that a species may be nothing at all like its ancient ancestors. Part of the elegance of Evolutionary Theory is its efficiency. Gradual changes, over immense time periods, can tackle even the most complicated transformations.

I have been surprised more than once to learn that certain creationists sometimes imagine the process of evolution as a rapid transformation between two already well known species. Kirk Cameron's Crock-a-Duck springs to mind most vividly. There is just nothing like it...Tongue If we were to start finding fossils like that, it wouldn't prove Evolution true, it would undermine it.

How could we possibly know that living things are no engineered exactly as we now see them? Well, It is important to note that evolution does not begin with fully assembled parts, as it were, ready for construction. Whatever parts already exists, regardless of their original function, change over time based on environmental conditions and the need to survive and reproduce.

In the automobile example you gave there is an engineer who designs and constructs it with a specific purpose in mind. Therefore, he or she does not design and manufacture superfluous or "junk" parts that represent older, less successful models. The design is reduced to the minimum number of useful parts to accomplish the intended task.

So, if living things are designed, it would make sense if we had no extra or useless parts. There should be nothing with older, more inferior parts, that instead of being removed and replaced simply were incorporated into the newer design. Thus, we can know evolution takes place when we study vestigial organs and limbs, etc. We sometimes discover layers of evolutionary change, like geological rock layers, that tell the story of the past. This is the case with the human eye, for example.

The great contemporary skeptic, Michael Shermer put it like this.

"The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but "intelligence" in its design. It is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, aquaeous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the light sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses—which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards ? It is because we evolved from sightless bacteria, now found to share our DNA, that we are so myopic."

An engineer would not construct such a backward design, but would instead arrange the parts for optimal accomplishment of the intended goal. Evolution, on the other hand, only changes what organs and tissues are already in place. Thus we eventually get an eye with parts out of typical order, with visible evolutionary layers indicative of past mutations, yet functional and offering obvious benefits to survival.

I do not know if my understanding makes any of this clear to you, but I hope to have at least clarified what Evolution is. I admit, it has taken me some considerable time to understand it, especially since I grew up in a Creationist household with basically no science education at all.

I am very interested to hear from your perspective how you account for these "stupid design" elements such as vestigial organs and limbs, or organs with major design flaws inhibiting their supposed intended functions.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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08-09-2015, 03:51 PM (This post was last modified: 09-09-2015 12:10 PM by Call_of_the_Wild.)
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Apologetics and the "We're Persecuted" Narrative

I want to just take a moment and push back on the main premise or purpose of apologetics. If it's main purpose is to defend a religion that is seen as under attack, I want to question the very idea first that it is attacked and persecuted at all, and second that it needs a defense. I am curious to see what you think as we go along.

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(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  For example, I experience a little bit of a difference in perspective when it comes to comparing Christianity to something like Scientology. If anything, I think the average person in America is much more willing to criticize the tenets of Scientology and to generally treat the religion and members with mockery. Whereas Christianity is popular, common, and has long since become highly enmeshed with western culture. In as many ways as culture has changed to reflect Christian doctrines, Christian churches have evolved to meet the demands of cultural changes. Small and relatively new religions like Scientology or my own past, Mormonism are easily and often dismissed as dangerous "cults" mainly because they lack the cultural integration Christianity has taken so many long years to develop.

Those observations bring me back where I started on the issue of persecution because I find the whole idea of modern Christians being somehow "under attack" or persecuted to be ridiculous and unbelievable in the extreme. If anything I see it as a manufactured narrative that has its roots in legitimate historical persecution. The Roman Empire, for one example, was from time to time very aggressive in the persecution of Christians. They saw Christianity as a counter productive superstition which didn't have the nationalistic piety that so characterized the Roman mythology. Their polytheism was seen as a vital social and political allegiance, and becoming a Christian was seen as an act of rebellion or social treason. As a result, several roman Emperors cracked down on Christians with tough humiliating taxes and a series of anti-Christian pogroms.

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(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I think this is where Christianity started using persecution as a means to an end. Even all throughout the New Testament, you can find scriptures designed to use persecution and unfair treatment as fuel for Christian faith and community building. Not to mention how much it fuels Christian Millennial-ism. All that injustice makes judgement day and the second coming sound like a dream come true, where oppressors will get what's coming to them. When I really think about it, using persecution to re-enforce their belief system was an absolutely brilliant move for Christian growth and survival. They could have been stamped out by the pressure, but instead chose to view the opposition as evidence of their own moral superiority.

I mean, yeah. If Christ, in fact, DID tell his disciples "You will be hated by everyone because of me" (Matthew 10:22), and the disciples and other earlier Christians are in fact hated and persecuted because of their faith in Christ, then I can see how one would view just the mere persecution as evidence for their faith (I don't know if I would render it as moral superiority, though Big Grin)

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  To be a Christian of that time was synonymous with being abused and yet not harming anyone in return. Having had that commanded of them directly from Jesus's mouth in the New Testament, they must have felt like they were being the best Christians they could be.

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(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  From the perspective of an Atheist, I find the way Christians of that day were treated to be deeply disturbing and immoral. I don't want to live in a society that discriminates against its citizens on a religious basis. If the situation were like that today, I might well say that Christianity is under attack, or that Christians are being persecuted.

However, the Christians of today are no longer fighting the establishment, they are the establishment. They are in the majority in every state, with massive political control that they use effectively to gain influence and privileges. They dominate our culture, civil discourse, moral conversations, political struggles, and have a church on nearly every corner, yet we still hear constantly about how Christians are oppressed and intimidated for their beliefs. In many ways, I think the way Christianity clings to its history for inspiration is to blame here, because this narrative who's origins I have just touched on, has outlasted its context and is now being abused. As I have observed about many aspects of religion, it doesn't seem to matter that Christians of today are not treated as they were in Roman times, the narrative is still useful, so it doesn't die out. It seems to matter more that modern Christians gain solidarity and motivation from grossly exaggerated or even imaginary persecution, than the facts of the matter.

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(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  It would be one thing if they were simply mistaken about being the victim, but more often then not, they are the hypocrites dealing out the persecution and demanding the political and social supremacy of their beliefs. If you take the time to really digest what these Christians are calling persecution, there is a common theme. Anything less than a privileged status makes them feel persecuted. They don't want to share in a country where all religions are treated equally. They want to continue to dominate the scene. These Christians don't like to have their religion questioned or criticized in public. They don't like it when they have to share public privileges with other faiths or Atheists, which you can tell easily from the hysterical hissy-fits they throw whenever someone cuts in on their pamphlets/books in schools, or statues at the courthouse, action.

I am not sure I share your experience with Christians, DP. I am not aware of any Christians that feel they that they deserve or think that they have a "privileged" status society. We may think that we have a privileged status in the eyes of God, but not in the eyes of society.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  They call for national days of Christian prayer in times of disaster and despair.

Shouldn't we be allowed to practice our faith in public or in private, as long as it isn't disturbing others?

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  They campaign to put mandatory, teacher led and administration enforced Christian prayer back into public schools,.

I believe that school mandated prayer in schools should only take place in private schools.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  They have absolutely no concern whatsoever that some of our citizenry is not Christian and does not pray to the god of Christianity.

I wholeheartedly agree. I also agree with the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage, because despite how strongly I disagree with the concept, I think people, in this country, should have the RIGHT to marry whomever they want. I disagree with any kind of theocracy in this country.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I can only imagine, perhaps with some sour entertainment, the intense outrage and offence they would claim if someone did these things with Muslim, Hindu, or Jewish prayers in mind.

Exactly, which is why you negate mandated prayer as a whole. That way, no one is offended.

But there is a problem, though, because I don't believe evolution should be taught in public schools, either. That should also be a private school thing.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I think they wouldn't stop the histrionics until they got their way, or turned too purple to continue. No one would tolerate it if it wasn't the Christians.

Which is complete hypocrisy in a nation full of diversity.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  As an aside, there are excellent arguments that those things shouldn't be allowed in general in the United States, but since Christians have been allowed to do them in some cases, the belly aching about having to compete in a marketplace of religions is absolutely ridiculous. Either we live in a multicultural society with many races, creeds, and faiths that are treated equally under the law, or we do not. It seems that a great many Christians only believe in a Christian America and don't care much what freedoms they rob others of in the process.

Hmmm, I don't know about that one, DP. No matter, someone will be pissed off. I think there was a philosopher that once said something like "No matter how ridiculous the belief is, if you search hard enough, you will find at least ONE person that believes it" (I'm paraphrasing).

Same thing with religion/politics in this country. It doesn't matter whether it is a law, rule, or regulation...there are always those that will disagree with it. There is no "perfect" law out there.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Maybe I could let all this nonsense go if these people weren't dipping their filthy hands into my personal life and the lives of my friends and family. I don't think that non-Christians should be subject to Christian ethics enforced by the law of a secular state. It shouldn't happen. Religions should be content to live their own laws, and not impose them on all other citizens. We shouldn't be having a knock down drag out fight about something like gay marriage for example. Christians should simply live their standards and let everyone else live their own moral codes, without using the law to punish them.

But I think that is the wrong way to look at it. Why? Because what does being a Christian have to do with it? There are atheists out there who doesn't agree with or approve of same sex marriage. So what about that? Does it really matter what the CAUSE/ORIGINS of a belief is?

For example, once upon a time, african americans were slaves in the United States...now, we can all agree that forced slavery is wrong, correct? Now, for the slaved african american, does it matter what the driving force behind his/her's slavery? Does it matter to the slave what the motivation behind his/her slavery is?

Or how about this one; I am a african american. Let's suppose I was walking down the street, and a KKK member decides to take it upon himself to take my life, because he is a racist piece of shit..and he proceeds to take my life...

Now, contrast that to me, an african american man, walking down the street one day in South Central L.A., wearing all red. Let's say a piece of shit member of the Crips gang see me, and takes my life because I am wearing "the wrong color".

Now, in both cases, my life was taken....but in either case does it really matter what motivated those guy's to take my life? It doesn't matter what motivated them to do it, the fact of the matter is, it was WRONG EITHER WAY.

Sure, it is true, that if a homosexual man or a lesbian woman asked me why I thought homosexuality was wrong, I would give them Biblical based reasons. That is how I would justify my reasons. However, if I was an atheist and was asked the same question, I would justify my reasons a different way, but I will wind up in the same place as the Christian in the end, by justifying my disproval of homosexualty.

So what difference would it make at that point??

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  As you can probably tell, this victim narrative is something I feel very strongly about. I don't like hearing about hypocrisy dressed up as family values. Especially not given the outrageously barbarous history of Christianity in particular.

Assuming you are talking about the Crusades...that happened a long time ago and those barbaric actions didn't reflect Christ nor does it reflect Christians today.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  A conversation like this between people of our two views just a few hundred years ago wouldn't just be nearly impossible, but I would be having it at the risk of my life.

Right, and if Christians living today lived in the Roman Empire during the 60's CE-250 CE, they would have also been practicing their religion at the risk of their life. No one is immune to that kind of nonsense.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  It wouldn't be a quick death either, but a painfully slow death administered by fanatical hooded sadists.

And Jesus died a slow, painful and agonizing death too.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Just to put history in perspective, my one quip here about the Inquisition isn't touching even 1% of 1% of the cruelty, misery, death and despair administered by the members and leaders of your faith throughout the world since its founding. As is the case with many ancient governments and faiths, yours is a history marred by crimes against humanity that in many cases are too revolting and heartbreaking to specify. Compare all of that with twenty years of a peaceful social Atheist movement, mostly represented through argumentative scholarly books, and these Christians are all "under attack". The poor things.

Hmm. Let's see. Let me ask you a question; When you read the New Testament, that the "cruelty, misery, death, and despair administered by the members and leaders of Christianity throughout the world", do you think any of that reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ? If the answer is no, then you and me are in agreement.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I am telling you all of this because I think Christianity needs to put the New Atheist movement into some serious perspective. The fact that other groups are rising, and Christianity is slightly declining, means that Christians are going to be more exposed to ideas that conflict with theirs, and that's okay. If anything the freedom we all share to be our authentic selves and share our opinions should be something Christians are grateful for and respectful of.

If that's what it comes down to, as long as things remain peaceful, we should all be able to agree/disagree...and keep t moving.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  The whole thing reminds me of people who talk about racism against white people as though it were more common and more problematic than our American history of systematic institutional racism that perpetrated slavery, then active political/social suppression, and now social inequality. I recognize that just like most young white people in America today, Christians aren't responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. However, if they want to be seen as decent they need to let go of some of their unfair privileges, stop preventing other groups from living their own social/moral laws, and above all stop this hypocritical "victim" rhetoric.

I'd still like to know what these "privileges" are.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  It seems I had a bit of a rant just there. Like I said before, I really feel strongly about this. You can probably feel my frustration, so just know that I am not necessarily including you personally in all of this. I am fully aware that my grievances do not apply to all Christians, maybe not to you either. I would be interested to know your thoughts and views, especially on whether or not Christianity should keep using the whole "persecution" rhetoric.

To me, it is simple; Let everyone express their religion, as long as it doesn't interfer in the lives of others. Don't push your religion upon anyone else. Keep religion out of public schools (private schools ok), and if any religion is to be taught in public schools, it should be an elective class.

I think the problem is twofold...some believers can be too pushy, and some unbelievers can be too intolerable. When you are too pushy, you can cause people to be intolerable, and when you are too intolerable, you can cause people to feel persecuted or discriminated against.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I think you are exactly right about Jehovah's Witnesses. They do exactly what Mormons do when it comes to controlling information and preventing their members from making informed decisions about their faith and theology.

The mind control is real. That is why I don't do organized religion. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that they are God's chosen organization...specifically them, and no one else. Now, if you believe that you are part of God's organization, that mean that anything outside of the organization is not of God...so the reasoning is "Why do I need to read that, when I have reading material given to me DIRECTLY from the elders of God's organization." So they shut everything else out...and if you sincerely believe that what you are doing is part of God's plan, it is VERY VERY VERY hard for you to see things otherwise.

As far as Mormonism is concerned, I didn't have a clue that they were on the same level as JW's. Please share your experience regarding your time as a Mormon. How did you become one, what were your experiences, and when did you start having doubt and eventually leave.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Mainstream Christianity got that out of its system when they stopped burning people alive for reading the bible in languages other than Latin.

Christians were also burned alive and used as lamp posts. No one is immune to the evil that lurks in some of mankind.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I read over it again carefully before we began this second conversation just to be sure that I expressed my rebuttal as best I could, and I don't think I can do better. I feel confidant that I proved in more than one way, and still can, that the Kalam is not in any way supported by modern Cosmology and that the beginning of time does not reflect the beginning of everything necessarily. Honestly, I don't even think any of that matters because I think I also did at least a fair job of pointing out just how many flaws exist in the Kalam in the first place. I only need one, so I think I deserve extra credit. Obviously, you don't agree and are saying the same things about the Kalam that you said then, so here we are.

If the engine of your car is working perfectly fine, why would you take it to a mechanic to get it checked out? In other words, if it aint broke, don't fix it Laugh out load

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  First, I need to concede that I understand what you are saying about what we could call "circumstantial" evidence and how that constitutes something beyond blind faith. That seems perfectly reasonable to me and I accept it. You won't catch me calling your faith blind.

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(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I am interested in what you think about a specific aspect of the Historicity of things like, the life and miracles of Jesus, and the resurrection. I don't know if you are familiar with David Hume at all, but my perspective on these historical arguments is largely the result of reading his essays on miracles.

I am somewhat familiar with Hume. I know OF his essays on miracles, but I don't know much ABOUT his essays on miracles, or any of his work beyond that. But his name does come up from time to time.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I read a great deal of your historical gospels debate with Worom, even though that kind of thing is always a bit difficult to follow, and I admired the work you both put into it. While I was reading though, I kept having the exact same thought. Why is this argument about who saw what when, and who wrote it down when, when the events described are supernatural?

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  There is a common quote among Atheists (I think it might be attributed to Carl Sagan, but I am not sure). "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." What that means to me is that some kinds of claims are so unusual, and so outrageous, that they need a higher standard of proof to be believed. Supernatural things by definition defy the natural order, and are often invoked to control or foretell elements of it. So honestly, what would it matter if a man claimed to have seen the dead rise yesterday or a thousand years ago? What would it matter who he knew during his lifetime? It isn't just that the dead have never been proved to have arisen. It is that it would fly in the face of an absolute mountain of scientific evidence and require an intervention that could only be described as magic.

(Answering both quotes above) Because it is a circumstantial, yet CUMULATIVE case for the Christian God. What I mean by that is, lets take the Resurrection: Now, you can build your case from the bottom-up, or you can take it from the top-down.

If you start from the bottom-up, when it comes to the question "Does God Exist", you can start by using the Kalam, arguing for the existence of a Supreme Being that transcended space and time with the power to create from nothing. This being doesn't have a face as of yet, does he/she/it? No, so you move on..

Then, you can go to the Argument From Design, by arguing the fact that that our universe was created with so much order, so much mathematical precision and engineering (based on the laws of nature and cosmological constants), that this being is a being with extreme intellect. So now you have a being with power to the max, and intelligence to the max. But we still haven't put a face to him/her/it yet, right? No, so you move on..

Then you can move on to the Moral Argument, which is an argument based on the existence of objective moral values and duties. If you can give good, solid, and valid reasons why objective moral values and duties exist, then you are making a case for a PERSONAL being. When the winds from a tornado causes a tree to go flying, which causes the birds and squirrels to lose their nests and burrows...the tornado may be responsible, but the tornado isn't MORALLY responsible. If objective morals and values exist, then it follows that we have ourselves a moral lawgiver out there..and a moral lawgiver can only come from a PERSONAL being. A being with feelings, and emotions. A person...a being. But you still havent' put a face to him/her/it yet. No, so you move on.

There are other arguments you can give for the existence of God, but three is enough for now.

Now you move to the Historicity of the Resurrection: Christian apologists believe we can build a circumstantial case, which makes it more probable than not, that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical person and that the Resurrection is as historical as the Revolutionary War. If the Resurrection is true, not only is God real and you can actually put a face to his name (Jesus), but if the Resurrection is true, you are saying that God (Jesus) made an actual mark in human history, dwelling amongst man, being personally active in the lives of mankind....on a one on one level/basis. That, my friend, is so damn remarkable, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

If the Resurrection is true, then Jesus is who said he is, and Christianity is affirmed. See, it is a cumulative case which gains steam as you go on.

However, if you want to do the top-down approach, you start from the Resurrection and work your way downwards to the traditional arguments for the existence of God.

So when you say "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" regarding the Resurrection, I honestly don't think that applies in this case. Why? It would be extraordinary if the claim was that Jesus rose NATURALLY from the dead. If that was the case, then yeah, I would agree, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

However, the claim is that GOD raised Jesus from the dead. I don't see how that is an extraordinary claim IF and only IF we can prove that God exists. If God exists, then raising someone from the dead is something that he can do with his eyes close and both arms tied behind his back Big Grin

But then you will ask, "Well, how do we know that God exists in the first place", and at that point I will turn your attention RIGHT BACK to those three traditional theistic arguments...giving reasons why God exists.

Then the ultimate question will be "Even if God does exist, how do you know that he would want to raise Jesus from the dead"...and then you go right back to the circumstantial case for the Resurrection.

It is also worth mentioning that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", to me, applies to abiogenesis, evolution, and the origins of consciousness. But that is another story.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I think you can probably grasp the intuitively what I mean by this, because you and I have to operate on trust for various things all the time. Sometimes for trivial things. For example, a friend might enter your home, go up the stairs, and tell you it's raining heavily outside. You probably believe him because the claim is so trivial you have nothing to lose if he is wrong. Now picture that same friend telling you a person you both saw die last week is downstairs waiting in the living room, looking perfectly healthy. Would you believe them on their word alone?

I probably wouldn't believe them, but I wouldn't think that it is impossible based on my background knowledge of Jesus' Resurrection.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Hume says basically, you should believe the lesser miracle. In other words, do you think it is more likely that nature has been suspended by magic, or that you are under a misapprehension? If it would be a lesser miracle for you to have made a mistake, that is the most reasonable conclusion. I find that I agree with him, especially given the sheer human potential for error, which is not only my experience but has been systematically studied and observed by science to an extent that could make anyone less than comfortable.

But with Jesus' Resurrection, the lesser, more natural explanations doesn't have more explanatory value than the post-portem appearances explanations.

Lets just take the Gospels. They all record that Jesus appeared to the disciples, right? The skeptic can say that the disciples were lying. But lying disciples doesn't explain the empty tomb. The lie itself wouldn't have made the body disappear.

Then you could say the disciples stole the body. But that wouldn't explain the origins of the beliefs of James and Peter, who were both skeptics of Jesus and later believed because Jesus appeared to them. And according to Matthew, the "disciples stole the body" thing only originated because of the guards report of the empty tomb.

Or you could say that the disciples were hallucinating or delusional...but again, that wouldn't explain the empty tomb, would it?

It seems to me that natural explanations lack explanatory value to explain the origin of the disciples belief, and also the beliefs of former skeptics.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Given this principle, I find it especially interesting that you believe under circumstances of probability when it comes to something like history. From my understanding of historical work, as much as people want to know the truth, more often then not what is determined is what is most likely to have happened given the evidence, but could be wrong just like in any other evidence based discipline.

Umm, DP...thats what I said...

"Allow me to explain; when it comes to Christianity, the evidence for it is based on history (and on personal experience, but since personal experience is limited to the person, we need not bring it here), and historical inquiries are based on certain criterion. Once you gather the given data and analyze it, you can determine or make a case as to what PROBABLY happened, or what PROBABLY didn’t happen.

The problem is, even if you are able to determine what probably happened, that still doesn’t necessarily mean that it happened, it just means that based on the evidence, it PROBABLY did. But there is still always the chance that it didn’t."


(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Ultimately I want to understand, why do you believe in the probability of multiple supernatural events taking place, when they are by definition the least likely to have taken place?

I believe based on my background evidence, which is based on the arguments for the existence of God. It is kind of like if you ask me why do I believe in angels or demons...well, I believe in those entities based on my background evidence I have for the existence of God. If I didn't believe in God, I wouldn't believe in those things. And since I have what I believe to be evidence for the Resurrection, I am forced to believe everything that comes with the theology (angels, demons, miracles, etc).

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Statistically, there is nothing less likely, and scientifically there is nothing less possible.

Sorry, DP. But everytime someone calls into question the possibility or unlikelihood of my beliefs, I ask them the same question on the opposite end of the spectrum..and it is only right that I do the same with you..

Statstically speaking, what is the likelihood of inanimate material coming to life?

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  How can there even be an effective argument from the historicity of Christian miracles, when they are by definition the least likely explanation?

It would only be the least likely explanation if there wasn't a God that existed which had the power to pull off the stunt. Remember, the claim is that GOD raised Jesus from the dead...and on that note, the question becomes "How likely is it that God would have wanted to raise Jesus from the dead", and the answer to that question is not something that can be measured with any probability theorem.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I would also be interested to know if you think vast amounts of time play a role in your believing these things.

Naw man. I just believed. It isn't difficult to believe, either. But I am not gullible, either. I don't believe everything and I think critically about everything, for the most part.

(03-09-2015 09:43 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Are you more or less likely to believe a claim like a resurrection if it supposedly happened today, or if it was a thousand years ago?

If it happened today it would prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God exists.
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08-09-2015, 05:28 PM (This post was last modified: 09-09-2015 12:21 PM by Call_of_the_Wild.)
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I don't if you remember, but you shared your automobile example with me last time around.

Yes, of course.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  As you have probably heard before, accepting Evolutionary Theory doesn't require anyone to become an Atheist. There are many people who believe in god who accept it. Many of them believe in "guided evolution", or that god uses evolution as the means for creation.

I agree, that believing in evolution doesn't necessarily require a naturalistic belief. The thing is, I havent' come across many (if any) individuals that believe in theistic evolution. Usually, it is evolution/naturalism, and anything else is out the door.

If you are going to believe in theistic evolution, fine..as that view is more reasonable to believe than natural evolution...but the problem I have is simple; there isn't evidence for ANY type of macroevolution. I haven't seen any evidence for either, much less one. And any Christian or theist who believes in evolution, I have a bone to pick with Big Grin

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Aside from that, you are right in that what you describe sounds absurd. My common sense and intuition tells me that it does not make reasonable sense. However, when I consider whether it is truly analogous to evolution, things get interesting. Like many other analogies and examples I have encountered, I do not think this one is a legitimate representation of what biological evolution actually is, or how it works.

Fair enough, but before you get in depth lets establish first and foremost that if you believe in evolution WITHOUT divine intervention, then you believe in a mindless and blind process which created a functional human body with intelligence.

This is a key point, because when you take away all of the fluff and feathers...all of the bio-babble, that is what you are left with.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  For one thing, the process performs no action. It is not an entity, like a human being, capable of construction, configuration, and assembly.

It is not a human being capable of construction, configuration, and assembly...

yet..

It created human beings with a body make up of specified parts which were constructed, configured, and assembled?

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Even the language we use in describing the process betrays our biased perspective based in the universal human experience of creating things ourselves. If anyone imagines evolution as something like a creator entity but with its brain removed, it should surprise no one that the whole business seems utterly absurd to them.

It seems absurd because it goes against common sense intuition. What do you see when you look at human anatomy? A bunch of parts...specified parts, each part which is configured in a way to perform a specific function...now, if you take away intelligent design, then what are you left with? You are left with exactly what you said; "a creator entity with its brain removed" that somehow CREATED, SHAPED, MOLDED, CONFIGURED, and ASSEMBLED an entire human body...and that doesn't even include the origins of consciousness, which is an entirely separate problem for the naturalist.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  They have fallen into the trap of projecting an experience based form of creation onto nature, as though there were a magic human being busily building the world like we would build a house.

Pretty much...

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Evolution is merely what we call the natural process by which biological things change over time.

Yeah but there are limits to the change. I expect the granite rock on a mountainside (just an example) to change over time...what I don't expect is for a nice portion of the mountain to start shaping and molding a nose, eyes, hair, and what appears to be an obvious face (Mount Rushmore).

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Environmental factors and mutations drive the process. Basically, mutations happen constantly no matter what. The environment dictates which ones allow the species to survive better, or worse. The successful and useful changes live on, the unsuccessful get a Darwin award.

Ok, so what determined whether species needed eyes??? Or wings? Or teeth? You say "the environment dicates"...so the evironment dicated that birds will have wings?? Dictated based on what? How does a mindless process dicate anything?

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Given enough time, so many changes can take place over so many generations, that a species may be nothing at all like its ancient ancestors. Part of the elegance of Evolutionary Theory is its efficiency. Gradual changes, over immense time periods, can tackle even the most complicated transformations.

That is the theory. That isn't the fact. It is a fact that there are many different varieties of dogs...and over time, generation after generation, you will get many more varieties of dogs. That observation is science. We can see it, we can experiment on it...we can probably even make predictions as well.

The problem is, you believe that just because these small scale transformations occurred, that certain large scale transformations also occurred. That is where you are taking the leap of faith...because there is just no evidence that those kind of transformations occurred.

Now sure, you can believe it, but you are merely speculating when you do so. And not only that, but I need evidence that life arose from nonliving material. What about that?

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I have been surprised more than once to learn that certain creationists sometimes imagine the process of evolution as a rapid transformation between two already well known species. Kirk Cameron's Crock-a-Duck springs to mind most vividly.

Its funny, because one time I got accused of "thinking the concept of evolution is like watching an episode of Transformers" Laugh out load

Understand this, DP; I don't believe macroevolution happened at ALL...not suddenly, or gradually.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  There is just nothing like it...Tongue If we were to start finding fossils like that, it wouldn't prove Evolution true, it would undermine it.

It would undermine it? Why? Do you think that evolution is supposed to adjust to what man "thought" was true...or is man supposed to adjust his theories and hypothesis to the observation??

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  How could we possibly know that living things are no engineered exactly as we now see them? Well, It is important to note that evolution does not begin with fully assembled parts, as it were, ready for construction. Whatever parts already exists, regardless of their original function, change over time based on environmental conditions and the need to survive and reproduce.

But that is all part of the theory. None of that has been proven. In fact, I want a 3D animation of everything that supposedly "occurred" from the moment of the big bang to now...or whatever cosmological model that the naturalist is holding too.

Explain in the animation the chemical and organic evolutionary process throughout the universes' history...and I am more interested to see at what point would consciousness arise.

If your answer is "I don't know", then to say that evolution is a fact would be putting the cart before the horse, don't you think?

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  In the automobile example you gave there is an engineer who designs and constructs it with a specific purpose in mind.

Soo, humans have a digestive system that breaks down food to give the body energy... are you telling me that the digestive system that is in practically every living species was NOT meant for that specific purpose? It was just a happy coincidence? Are eyes, which is used for vision, was that also a coincidence?

Not to mention the chicken/egg problem you have...what came first, the brain or the consciousness? What came first, the blood, or the veins? The skin, or the bones? The blood, or the heart? The penis, or the vagina? The sperm, or the ovaries?

Neither one of those things could exist without the other. I am curious as to how, if you start off with a big bang at which all space, time, energy, and matter expands...this chaotic event with no mind, agenda, or vision behind it...how are you going to get a functional human body from all of that...how are you going to get a brain from that, consciousness from that, eyes from that.

Not to mention the fine tuning needed for life to originate in the FIRST PLACE. Not happening, not even in a billion years.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Therefore, he or she does not design and manufacture superfluous or "junk" parts that represent older, less successful models. The design is reduced to the minimum number of useful parts to accomplish the intended task.

So, if living things are designed, it would make sense if we had no extra or useless parts. There should be nothing with older, more inferior parts, that instead of being removed and replaced simply were incorporated into the newer design. Thus, we can know evolution takes place when we study vestigial organs and limbs, etc. We sometimes discover layers of evolutionary change, like geological rock layers, that tell the story of the past. This is the case with the human eye, for example.

First, I'd need to know what do we have "extra" of that can be considered "useless", and isn't that a subjective judgement on your part?

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  The great contemporary skeptic, Michael Shermer put it like this.

"The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but "intelligence" in its design. It is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, aquaeous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the light sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses—which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards ? It is because we evolved from sightless bacteria, now found to share our DNA, that we are so myopic."

Wait a minute, the purpose of the human eye is to provide humans with the ability to see...for vision. Do you, or do you not, currently have vision?? If the answer is yes, then it is apparent that HOWEVER the human eye was designed, the purpose of its design was met...you have vision. You have vision, and that is what it was created to give you...vision.

Now of course, any super skeptic can nit pick stuff as a way to justify critique...was it in God's power to make the human eye "better" yes...did he..no...God is not here to be subjected to our standards, we are here to be subjected to his standards.

But on that note, I'd like for either you or Michael Shermer to explain to me as to how a blind process will EVER get to the point of creating human eye balls, and somehow sticking it into a human's head. Please do that for me.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  An engineer would not construct such a backward design
, but would instead arrange the parts for optimal accomplishment of the intended goal.

Yet, you have vision because of this "backwards design".

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Evolution, on the other hand, only changes what organs and tissues are already in place.

Yeah, but how did the organs and tissues get there in the first place. Before you get to the point of changes, you have to get past the point of origins. There isn't one human being on this earth that can explain the origin of life, species, consciousness, the universe, and language. No one.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  Thus we eventually get an eye with parts out of typical order, with visible evolutionary layers indicative of past mutations, yet functional and offering obvious benefits to survival.

Again, that is the theory, that isn't the fact. Explain how there was a point at which absolutely no eyes existing, to the point where eyes are currently existing and they were conveniently placed inside human heads....by a process that can't think or see what it was doing.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I do not know if my understanding makes any of this clear to you, but I hope to have at least clarified what Evolution is. I admit, it has taken me some considerable time to understand it, especially since I grew up in a Creationist household with basically no science education at all.

Knowing what evolution is or what evolution isn't doesn't answer the questions that I've asked. My focus is primarly one of ORIGINS...not what happened once things began to exist....not the changes of things, but where did the things come from in the first place.

And as I pointed out earlier before we got in depth on the subject of evolution...when you take out all of the bio-babble, which is when you talk like "It happened over time due to genetic mutation and natural selection based on envorimental conditions.."

That is just technical talk for "A mindless and blind process that couldn't think or see, gave us brains, consciusness, eyes, ears, etc".

That being said, I think my comparison of the human anatomy to "automobile anatomy" is accurate...it is the same concept, specified parts which are configured and assembled in a way to perform a function...the same exact concept.

As I've said elsewhere, I fully understand what evolution is. I know what it is about...I just don't believe it. Just because I don't believe it doesn't mean I am ignorant of it. I just don't accept it. I think it is all lies.

(03-09-2015 02:20 PM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  I am very interested to hear from your perspective how you account for these "stupid design" elements such as vestigial organs and limbs, or organs with major design flaws inhibiting their supposed intended functions.

Well, the short answer is "a bad design is still a design". The long answer is that the second law of thermodynamics crept in after the fall of man, and from that point matter began to deteriorate over time. The vestigial organs and limbs is based on the concept of a once land dwelling whale, which I find ludacris. Whales never dwelled on land, and reptiles never evolved into birds. Fairy tales.
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12-09-2015, 10:40 PM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
I apologize for the amount of time it is taking me to formulate my next thoughts. My day job has got the best of me at the moment, so I will need some more time yet. Just be aware that I have not forgotten to post nor am I finished discussing.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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14-09-2015, 12:08 AM
RE: Dark Phoenix Vs. Call of the Wild- Round 2
You have given me a lot of material to cover. I like where things are going with our evolution discussion, so I will continue that one first. Don't worry though, I will make my way back around to your other points.

Creationism and Science Denial

So far we have had a policy of candidly speaking our minds, so I am going to do so again here. Frankly, I can tell from the language you use and the questions you ask that you do not understand Evolutionary Theory.

I am fully aware of how loaded a statement like that is, so let me just nip your protestations in the bud. First of all, I am not interested in dismissing your scientific ignorance on the grounds that pointing it out is some kind of tactical method of argument. I have heard enough belly aching about how scientists are conspiring to marginalize the non-scientists world view to last more than a life time. When it comes to the facts, as discovered by scientific observation and experiment, you don't get to have a counter opinion unless you have data of your own.

Now, you are fully entitled to ask, who am I to say that? That is part of what makes this particular argument so frustrating from my perspective. I am just a guy who happens to be aware of only some aspects of various scientific theories, in short a layman of science. Under any reasonable set of common circumstances someone higher up on the scientific credential ladder should be the one setting your straight with the facts. However, not accepting an entire scientific model is quite another thing altogether. Under those circumstances, not only is a guy like me able to set you straight with a reasonable amount of accuracy, I am under a moral obligation to not ignore the gaping chasm in your education.

Now, I understand fully that you don't see it that way. You have made it clear that you think you know what Evolution is all about and you don't accept it. However, you betray yourself in the very language you employ to express that to me. Your comments more or less prove that what understanding you think you have is incorrect. That's the trouble with ignorance, you don't know what you don't yet know, so you don't yet grasp the significance of what you reject. It makes it even harder when you think you understand perfectly well. How could I possibly prove that to not just be talk? Well, that's gonna take a few paragraphs.

However, none of that explaining is going to do any good unless you understand that I am not necessarily smarter or more gifted than you because of what I know about Evolution. If anything, luck or chance has placed us in these roles because it would have been just as likely that you would argue this with an actual scientist. When we are in the ring like this, battling it out, it's the easiest thing in the world to imagine that I am just trying to "win" by making you feel stupid. Nothing could be further from the reality of this situation and how I feel about it all these miles away behind my keyboard.

Ignorance isn't stupidity. It isn't even much of an insult, given the vastness of what each of us has neither the time nor interest to become educated about. So again, this isn't about winning an argument. From my perspective, it would be disrespectful to let you go on your way unchallenged when your view is provably false by actual hard facts.

I would not be being candid if I failed to tell you how out of context these Evolution vs. Creationism debates are with our collective scientific knowledge. Plainly said, we have come a long way with fossils and facts since Darwin lived, and anyone who says Evolution isn't a fact is either unaware or unwilling to accept the available evidence. Evolution is the only scientific theory of biodiversity and it has no scientific rival. It not only has explanatory power, but actual accuracy in its predictions.

This is one of those hard facts I was talking about, predictions. In science, accurate information can be used to predict the outcomes of experiments, foretell natural phenomena, and ultimately uncover new information. The power of predictions lies in its self correction, because only accurate information can result in a successful prediction. Often, these predictions are so specific that the slightest deviation would result in falsifying the prediction.

Perhaps the most famous yet simple example of the predictive power of Evolution by Natural Selection is Xanthopan morgani, or more commonly, Morgan's Sphinx Moth. In 1862 upon receiving a package of Orchid flowers from a colleague, Charles Darwin noted the "astonishing length" of what is known in Botany as the "spur" of the Orchids. The spur is an elongated hollow spike which extends behind the flower and contains nectar. The length of this particular spur was such that it seemed absurd that any creature could reach the nectar in order to assist in necessary pollination.

After considering the evolutionary relationship between birds, insects, and flowers in pollination, Darwin predicted that there must exist some hitherto unknown creature with a "proboscis" (elongated appendage) long enough to reach the nectar. Once indirectly in 1903 and finally more systematically in 1992, scientists discovered and confirmed the existence of just such a creature, Xanthopan morgani. Darwin's prediction is just one tiny, simplistic example of how correct scientific theories can be used to predict facts in the natural world.

This principle has been used successfully to predict what kind of fossils will be found in a given area from a specific time in the past. Methods of dating the sediments around the globe are consistent with the fossil life found in their various layers, which is ultimately consistent with a slow, natural, Evolution by Natural Selection. If science were to throw out Evolution, it would have to throw out countless examples of accurate knowledge that were only possible to acquire via the theory. Evolutionary Theory has not only joined the likes of Germ Theory or Gravitational Theory when it comes to evidence, it has actually formed the very foundation of our biological understanding. There is literally no such thing as non-evolutionary biology in science today.

Despite how uncomfortable the situation is, the reality is that we are not taking part in a fair and balanced debate. The scientific community isn't debating whether or not Evolution has taken place, but rather exactly how it has taken place. So, you can say all you want that Evolutionary Theory isn't provable, but the reality is, you can't receive even an elementary education in biology today without having that assertion disproved a hundred times over. Statements like that reveal that you do not understand the significant of "theory" in a scientific context Vs. the colloquial.

What Evolution is NOT! Origins Vs. Bio-diversity

The first thing I should tell you is what Evolution is not. Evolution is not the scientific theory of how life began to exist. Evolution is a theory of biodiversity, or how life changes over time and becomes more diverse. It does not even attempt to explain or describe the conditions necessary for that life to exist to begin with.

This is ultimately why your statements about origins reveal your ignorance. If you understood even a basic definition of Evolutionary Theory, you would know that your questions about origins are an entirely separate matter, which does not change, or even affect, the reality of Evolution by Natural Selection.

There is actually significant precedent in science for a vast understanding of a process, while still remaining vastly ignorant of a central piece of the puzzle. For example, we can describe gravity and understand how it works in enough ways to fill thousands of books, yet we have no idea whatsoever why gravity exists, or why the larger the object, the larger the attraction. Yet, no one questions the validity of the study of gravity on the basis that we don't understand why/how it came to be. Can you imagine the silliness and conceit of throwing all the gravitational evidence out on the basis that we don't know why it exists? What a pompous attitude that would be, not to mention the obvious fact that our dismissal wouldn't affect the reality of our direct experience with gravity one bit. The point is, we understand gravity because we can show/prove it exists, even though we can't explain its origins yet.

The same is true of Evolution. Imagine a set of bare footprints on a beach. If we come upon the prints, we notice that there is no one present who could have made the prints. Yet, we still know the prints exist, and we can even know for certain that a person did in fact make them, despite the distinct lack of the actual person there. The prints represent our knowledge that Evolution has taken place, and the missing person represents the knowledge we currently lack, of how life came to be in the first place. Just as no one being present did not deter us from making conclusions about the prints on the beach, our knowledge of Evolution through evidence does not become useless simply because we don't understand origins.

However, it is impossible for me not to notice how often you fall into this trap of all or nothing thinking. You want to understand how life could have come from non-life before you will accept that Evolution has taken place in the intervening time. The question of origins is entirely separate and does not change the reality of what we know of the time since. Yet, I can tell from your arguments every time we discuss Evolution that you think origins is part of the theory, which is just plain wrong. Evolution does not even attempt to describe origins.

Beating a Dead Straw-Man, Atheism and Naturalism

You fall into the same trap again when we start discussing Atheism. I find it frustrating to hear you repeat the same mistakes you made in our previous conversation, even after I corrected them for you nigh on three or four times. Atheism is not equivalent or synonymous with Naturalism. You are falsely equating the two, and for obvious reasons. You made it clear that you find it clever to attack "what Atheists believe" which frankly I find rather amusing.

As I have shared with you several time already, I am not a Naturalist. I don't believe that life came from non-life, or even that consciousness did for that matter. I don't have any positive beliefs of that kind. I wonder at what point I am entitled to come to negative conclusions about your refusal to accept this. At what point are you plainly a stubborn ignoramus who refuses to accept simple facts, or perhaps a dishonest tactician who enjoys misrepresenting Atheists.

You have this interesting technique of pulling a list of criteria for what Atheists "believe", which you have mistakenly derived from hard Naturalism, and then claiming that Atheists also believe something ridiculous and insane. Besides the sheer error in that approach, has the irony of that argument not struck you yet, that you are basically admitting you believe something unbelievable, but that you are justified in it because other people, people you vehemently oppose, supposedly do the same?

Next, you refuse to accept the Atheist should even exist unless he/she can prove to you the origins of life, consciousness, etc. This is what I meant last time around by basing your belief on "unreasonable and/or impossible conditions". You have created the perfect system for believing exactly what you want to, because you have a ready and waiting list of impossible demands necessary to sway you. Of course it only works if the Atheist plays along with your mistaken definitions, and poorly constructed ideas of what he should "believe".

Since you seem to be a man who understands a good old fashioned prick waving challenge, I challenge you to argue against my personal views and values, not your straw-man definitions of what you think an Atheist is "supposed to be". To meet the challenge, all you have to do is use one argument against what I see as Atheism, instead of your own mistaken definition. In case you need a bit of a goad to get you motivated, I think these straw-men arguments are to hide your insecure position, and stroke your inner coward. You don't have to actually engage with your opponent, because you don't bother with silly things like listening or dictionary definitions to define his/her positions. It all keeps you intellectually nice and safe.

Your Ray of Comfort

Your second misunderstanding is to think of natural selection in terms of an intelligent process. You keep talking about a "mindless and sightless process" creating minds and eyes as though that should strike me as ridiculous on its face. Yes, the process is mindless and sightless, but that isn't all that shocking. Rather than being ruled by an intelligent mind, it is ruled by a set of conditions.

For example, consider a group of ancient human beings who were forced to live in caves with much less space from floor to ceiling than was comfortable. The conditions of the living space would cause them to walk slightly bent, possibly even employing the hands in scrambling along rather than an upright traditional walk. Like all organisms, their bodies would regularly and frequently mutate on a cellular level, sometimes resulting in a more obvious or extreme variety among the population.

In theory, if the conditions of the environment were infinitely survivable for all mutations, we would find a practically infinite diversity of life today. However, most environments are unfriendly to the survival of a relatively large number of mutations, still allowing for significant variance, yet preventing most.

Next, these mutations have to compete to survive in the given conditions of the environment, in this case, not enough upright space to walk, some necessary climbing, and total darkness. Mutations such as a naturally curved spine, more naturally strong or almost hand-like feet, or excellent night vision are much more likely to allow survival in the cave conditions than say a mutation with holds the spine rigid, robbing the mutated individual of choosing voluntarily to bend over. In the cave conditions, the human suffering from the rigid spinal mutation would die and not reproduce, while the more beneficially mutated humans would reproduce in greater numbers.

Thus, the actual conditions of the environment, which are mindless and sightless, can dramatically shape living things within it, without even being alive itself. It is these conditions and the way they shape life that we call "Natural Selection". When humans control the conditions of the environment in this process we call it "Artificial Selection".

As usual though, the way in which we humans perceive the universe is so often influenced by our direct experiences, we don't always have the right perspective to avoid seeing erroneous intelligence everywhere we look. We are intelligent. We create things out of materials, so we imagine a cosmic human who created the universe. We also find it very difficult to describe these natural processes without using confusing teleological language like "determined", "dictated", or "created". This is a reflection of our history and perspective, not the actual processes we wish to describe. Our language is ancient and so is the belief in a cosmic creator. Thus, all our language about things coming to be is anchored in a linguistic history of religious superstition. I have done my best to avoid these terms, because they can be so misleading, but it's pretty difficult.

Scientists often suffer a reputation of cold calculation, or even heartlessness because of the way they doggedly avoid using easy to relate to yet misleading language. Among other scientists this is less necessary, because they understand the principle, but the public is less dialed in. For example, a scientists explaining the process of photosynthesis could describe it in terms of a "factory" or an "assembly and storage process". Obviously, this is done to help regular people relate, because we all know what a human factory is like. It is ridiculous to take the language at face value and believe in a sentient, factory running, leaf. The concept is laughable. You are a victim of this same line of thinking when it comes to Evolution.

Based on your comments, I think an enormous amount of your disbelief and frustration with evolution is based on this language issue. You seem to think Science is positing a cosmic creator, just like you are, but with its brains missing. Not only is that absolutely not what they are saying, it makes me wonder if you are really ready at this time to move past your personal incredulity when it comes to science. You haven't shown any signs that you can even picture in your mind anything other than intelligent anthropomorphic creation.

You referred to our eyes as having the purpose of granting us vision, or our other organs as being purposed to perform their functions. This is an excellent example of how you think in a very anthropomorphic way, as though nature has goals, like a person. The process of Natural Selection shows us with a kind of mathematical certainty that things like sight, smell, or even intelligence are nothing more than a means to an end, survival. So, the human eye does not exists for the purpose of seeing, it exists because seeing well naturally allows humans to survive better than blindness or poor eyesight. This is why, for example, particular birds of prey have superior eyesight to humans. The conditions of the high mountains and the cloud filled skies helps those birds with advantageous sight mutations to survive more effectively than their comparatively half-blind cousins.

It is certainly worth consideration that the sight abilities among living things correspond directly to the exact height and width present in their environment, which for the birds of prey is often the exact distance between the clouds and the ground. Likewise our own eyes suit the African Savannah which we have not left behind all that long ago, but are rather useless at incredible heights or distances when it comes to detail. One might be entitled to ask why a supposed perfect designer wouldn't have considered the many versatile situations we humans might find ourselves in.

The main point is the word "creation" doesn't even belong in our vocabulary when it comes to Evolution. There is no creator nor any creation going on. Nothing determines or dictates anything. The process is not performing a sentient action, it is not alive or intelligent. Yet, living things must still compete to survive in a given environment, which can ultimately result in all manner of advantageous organs and abilities, including sight and intelligence. The process of Evolution by Natural Selection does not create these phenomena, it describes how they occur naturally.

Zombie Lies and Creationism

You mentioned Macro-Evolution, so I need to take a moment to make you aware of how wrong that entire premise is. There literally is no such thing. Evolution describes small and large changes and the only major determining factor of which will occur, is the time that has passed. If a lot of time has passed for Evolution to work, the changes in life can be dramatic and often get erroneously called "Macro-Evolution" by Creationists.

I need to let you know, as a person who is deeply passionate about knowledge, argument, and seeing as many sides of an issue as possible, what I can't stand is an entire line of argument that is composed of persistent, long debunked, nonsense that flies in the face of every known, relevant, and legitimate scientific fact. So called "Macro-Evolution" is part of a network of zombie arguments that should have stayed in the mud 50+ years ago when they were first debunked.

Mount Anthropomorphic

Just as a side note, your Mount Rushmore example is not analogous, and is another example of scientific ignorance. Rock's aren't living things, and are thus exempt from the process of evolution. Even if they were, in order for a human face to simply grow that way, there would need to be environmental factors to describe the advantage of a human face for the survival of the "mountain". Honestly, it's all ridiculous. Just plain old ridiculous.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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