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post #41 of 119
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[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

The statement that Jesus interpreted anything indicates that you believe that He had less than perfect knowledge about a subject.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Two approaches to this. Actually more, but we can confine ourselves to two: Grammatic, and dogmatic.

While it is most common to use 'interpret' in the sense of 'understand.' -- that is to code information for yourself -- it is also possible, though less common, to use interpret in the sense of 'explain', or to code/use information for others. A teacher, especially one of the devine, would neccessarily intrepret (for us) so that we may understand.

Which leads to the dogmatic. God and Angels and Man. God is joined to man, not angels. Jesus has a corruptible component, the very human form. This imposes limits on communication, if nothing else. We 'get it' only so far, it needs interpretation if only for communication. The temptation, the wreck made of Jesus's body, and the marks left after ressurection, all point to a kind of human imperfection. It can be raised up, certainly, but it is human especially because it needs raising.
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post #42 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

The difference is that the Big Bang is by necessity bound by the laws of the universe, and as of yet there is no known law that will allow for the Big Bang as a self creating phenomena.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I may be off base here, but from what I understand about the big bang theory, the physical laws of the universe didn't exist until the first few nanoseconds after the "big bang" occured. Before that, I believe it is accepted that the whatever existed then bore no resemblance to the universe as it currently exists. There is no know law allowing for the big band as a self creating phenomena because it happened during a time before the physical laws of this universe. Like your theory of god, the big bang occured outside of time, space, and physics.
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post #43 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

I assume you are speaking of the Old Testament apocrypha. Catholics do indeed venerate the apocrypha, and I don't know enough about them to comment authoritatively. I also do not know on what they base their support of the books. I withdraw my statement, but must at least make the point that they are not accepted by a large portion of Christians and Jews.</strong><hr></blockquote>

The Vetus Itala was the first Latin translation of the Bible. Its Old Testament was based on the Septuagint, the translation from Hebrew to Greek done in Alexandria, Egypt. This version also included several late books that had been written after Alexander the Great, thus written in Greek instead of Hebrew. All subsequent Bibles were based on that until Martin Luther excised those that had been originally written in Greek. The Jews never really accepted them for a couple main reasons. They appeared at a time of intense Jewish nationalism, and Greek was the language of the Gentiles. Additionally, the New Testament was written entirely in Greek, so with the growing schism between Christians and Jews in the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Jews just didn't really want to associate with anything written in Greek. The Apocrypha were adopted as canon at the Council of Nicea (IIRC), but referred to as "Deutero-canonical" - meaning they are canonical, but secondary. Catholics have a different set of books which they refer to as "Apocrypha" - Protestants call them "Pseudepigrapha". (And we wonder why people get confused?)

There is also a whole other set of writings of New Testament Apocrypha which are quite interesting. There's at least a half a dozen other Gospels running around, as well as several letters from "Paul" (actually someone else writing in Paul's name long after he was dead), Acts of various individual Apostles, and lots of other correspondence and other writings in the early church. None of it is considered Authoritative (which is why it is not canonical, of course) but it is fascinating to read. Early Christianity was much more diverse and theologically free-wheeling than later Church historians would like us to think.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: TJM ]</p>
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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post #44 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by jesperas:
<strong>
I may be off base here, but from what I understand about the big bang theory, the physical laws of the universe didn't exist until the first few nanoseconds after the "big bang" occured.</strong><hr></blockquote>

An idea not in keeping with any observed laws or processes of nature, and thus in a strictly scientific sense cannot be accepted as a hypothesis. In any case it is not science, as there is no evidence or possible test of the event. The theory of the suspension of physical laws has no rational foundation other than to make what is clearly impossible seem at least reasonable to the uneducated.

[quote]<strong>There is no know law allowing for the big band as a self creating phenomena because it happened during a time before the physical laws of this universe. Like your theory of god, the big bang occured outside of time, space, and physics.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Which means that there is no possible way for a species bounded by space time to reasonably reach either conclusion, which is the point that was originally made by Matsu.
post #45 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

You assume.....

.... so of course you have been taught and conditioned to think in those terms. </strong><hr></blockquote>

I assume.... nothing. My "conditioning" would be more akin to a none domesticated animal. I believe with certainty what I can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. And yes our senses are limited.... but they are comprehensive, covering maybe mediums. I use my experiences to interpret what others put forward for me in print, television, conversation.... not being able to observe what they are talking about directly. What are you warning me about? I would warn you.... but theres nothing to worry about like I said. No concern of mine if you waste your precious time. Actually, I think you could be using it to help others and you probably do... churches are good for organizing people to help others. Hmmm, I dont know. I do know that I don't believe, don't want to, would like you not to, but dont think (much)less of you for believing. I guess, let me pose a question to you...

What would a world without religion be like? Would people have any less reason to do the things they already do?
post #46 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>An idea not in keeping with any observed laws or processes of nature, and thus in a strictly scientific sense cannot be accepted as a hypothesis. In any case it is not science, as there is no evidence or possible test of the event. The theory of the suspension of physical laws has no rational foundation other than to make what is clearly impossible seem at least reasonable to the uneducated.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, I certainly hope you're not calling me uneducated. <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />

I could also say that the theory of god has "no rational foundation other than to make what is clearly impossible seem at least reasonable to the undeducated," but that'd be pointless.

I'm not the best person to argue this, but I do know that at the extreme macro/micro realms of science, laws of observation break down, and it becomes impossible to test theories like the big bang. Quantum physics, anyone? At those extremes, all that is possible to do IS theorize, and in that sense, science and religion both require the faith to accept them.

Anyway, my point wasn't to argue about the big bang, but more to say that your reason dismissing it in favor of the Chrisitain theory of creation isn't exactly air tight.

[quote]Which means that there is no possible way for a species bounded by space time to reasonably reach either conclusion, which is the point that was originally made by Matsu.<hr></blockquote>

Never questioned that for a second.
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post #47 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by havanas:
<strong>I assume.... nothing. My "conditioning" would be more akin to a none domesticated animal.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Possibly, though you have still been conditioned by our culture and society. What is it about a wild animal that gives it a sense of right and wrong? You have spoken of helping people, but doesn't that fly in the face of the principle of survival of the fittest? If they are too weak to help themselves, why bother?

However in a sense you are right, though you probably don't agree with me. God created every person with an inherent knowledge of good and evil, one of our distinctions from the animals. If you have an intuition of what is right and wrong then there must have been a source. Some will claim that these ideals evolved, but the aid of a weak member imparts no evolutionary advantage. Our sense of morality and fair play is the very antithesis of evolution.

[quote]<strong>What are you warning me about? I would warn you....</strong><hr></blockquote>

It is dangerous not to recognize the sources of our actions and beliefs, whether social, cultural or divine. I just do not happen to believe in objectivity.

[quote]<strong>What would a world without religion be like? Would people have any less reason to do the things they already do?</strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, that depends on what you mean by religion. Religion can be defined as the moral belief system that a person subscribes to, but I don't think you mean that, because there is no possible way for a sentient person to have no moral code, be it good or evil. If you mean no organized religion, then we would probably be a very early iron age civilization. As much as we westerners would like to forget it (some of us) the search for knowledge about the Christian God was the basis for all of our institutions of higher learning. People learned to read so that they could read the Bible. All of empirical science is based on the assumption that God exists and that His universe is therefore knowable. In the last century and a half or so the definition of science has shifted radically, but its basis is evident.
post #48 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>An idea not in keeping with any observed laws or processes of nature, and thus in a strictly scientific sense cannot be accepted as a hypothesis. In any case it is not science, as there is no evidence or possible test of the event. The theory of the suspension of physical laws has no rational foundation other than to make what is clearly impossible seem at least reasonable to the uneducated.</strong><hr></blockquote>I'm definitely not a physicist, but from what I understand, this is not a fair statement. The Big Bang is a theory, and that theory is consistent with certain observations. It is testable, i.e., subject to falsification. There are observations that could be made, such as with the Hubble, or with super colliders, that would be inconsistent with the theory, and the theory would have to be revised.

And I believe there are several different variations of big bang theories out there, each with different implications and predictions, and evidence may be able to separate the good theories from the bad.

In any case, it's certainly not just a theory that was somehow given to the uneducated masses to mollify them, as you seem to suggest.
post #49 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by jesperas:
<strong>Well, I certainly hope you're not calling me uneducated.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Not at all, I was speaking about the general US public. You only have to watch PBS for a while to see exactly the kind of drivel that is being handed out as fact, even after it has been rejected by even the scientific community that first spawned the ideas.

[quote]<strong>I could also say that the theory of god has "no rational foundation other than to make what is clearly impossible seem at least reasonable to the undeducated," but that'd be pointless.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I would agree with you, and I don't think I ever argued otherwise. I simply stated that I chose the theory that best fits my experiences.

[quote]<strong>your reason dismissing it in favor of the Chrisitain theory of creation isn't exactly air tight.</strong><hr></blockquote>

And Vice Versa.
post #50 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
<strong>Early Christianity was much more diverse and theologically free-wheeling than later Church historians would like us to think.</strong><hr></blockquote>

No argument here. One has only to read Paul's letters to see how quickly strange beliefs were adopted by the early believers.
post #51 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>I'm definitely not a physicist, but from what I understand, this is not a fair statement. The Big Bang is a theory, and that theory is consistent with certain observations. It is testable, i.e., subject to falsification. There are observations that could be made, such as with the Hubble, or with super colliders, that would be inconsistent with the theory, and the theory would have to be revised.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Yes, it is consistent with certain observations. But it is not testable directly, we can only test what we believe the results would be. It is non-falsifiable in the sense that the theory is plastic enough to be molded to any evidence. The Big Bang theory clearly violates the principles of dispersion of matter, so what do we get? The theory was revised to be a "lumpy" big bang. Order cannot come from chaos, so what do we get? A highly ordered explosion. Galaxies do not contain enough matter to exist within the Big Bang cosmology, so we get the hypothetical and undetectable "Dark Matter". The observed universe is in direct violation of the conservation of angular momentum, if the universe resulted from a Big Bang. They haven't come up with a
"solution" to that one yet. There is as of yet no postulated trigger for the Big Bang. The Big Bang is by no means accepted by astronomers or physicists without question.

Physicist Ernst Fischer writes:
". . . warning given by [physicist and philosopher] Carl Friedrich von WeizsäckerÂ*Â*. . . namely that a society which accepts the idea that the origin of the cosmos could be explained in terms of an explosion, reveals more about the society itself than about the universe. Nevertheless, the many observations made during the past 25 years or so which contradict the standard model, are simply ignored. When fact and theory contradict each other, one of them has to yield."

Halton Arp, an astronomer with the Mount Wilson Observatory writes:
"Since antiquity, ideas of the universe have varied widely, depending on assumptions about factual observations. The current idea of a 'big bang' has been the standard model for about 60 years. But, in the mean time, the number of observations that negate the assumption that the red shift of the light of distant galaxies can be explained by recessive motions, is increasing ... In my opinion the observations speak a different language; they call for a different view of the universe. I believe that the big bang theory should be replaced, because it is no longer a valid theory.'

Professor Hans Jörg Fahr of the Institute for Astrophysics at Bonn University, Germany, writes:
"The universe originated about 20 thousand million years ago in a cosmic explosion (the big bang), it has been expanding ever since, and it will continue to do so until the end of timeÂ*. . . This sounds convincing, and it is accepted by all present-day mainstream 'natural philosophers'. But it should be obvious that a doctrine which is acclaimed noisily, is not necessarily close to the truth. In the field of cosmology the widely supported big bang theory is not more convincing than other alternatives. In fact, there are surprisingly many alternatives."

Dr James Trefil, professor of physics at Mason University, Virginia, accepts the big bang model, but he concedes that a state of emergency exists regarding fundamental aspects of explaining why the universe exists:
"There shouldn't be galaxies out there at all, and even if there are galaxies, they shouldn't be grouped together the way they are. ... The problem of explaining the existence of galaxies has proved to be one of the thorniest in cosmology. By all rights, they just shouldn't be there, yet there they sit. It's hard to convey the depth of the frustration that this simple fact induces among scientists."

The point is that the Big Bang theory is taught as complete fact, implying that there are no problems with the theory at all, or if there are that science will overcome them. There are, in fact, tremendous problems, none of which have shaken the faith of the believers of the Big Bang.
post #52 of 119
So we have another full-bore, armour-plated, all-guns-blazing Christian on these boards. That's two more than I expected. I'm not going to get into a pointless theological debate with you, Fluffy, but I'd just like to ask you this question: if you appeared in court, what evidence could you offer that any of this is true, even slightly, even at all?
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post #53 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>if you appeared in court, what evidence could you offer that any of this is true, even slightly, even at all?</strong><hr></blockquote>

None that would be accepted, I'm sure. However, given time to prepare, I would have to start with the knowability of truth, the nature of truth and the philisophies of postmodernism, skepticism, agnosticism and mysticism and how they influence modern thought. That moderns no longer seem to believe in an absolute truth is the first hurdle. I would attempt to make the court aware of the presupposition of anti-supernaturalism. Next comes the uniqueness of the Bible and the monotheistic religions, then examination of the archaeological and historical evidence for and against the reliability of the Old and New Testaments. I would examine the historical person of Jesus and then make the case for His divinity both through Judaic and secular sources.

If you are talking about scientific evidence against evolution, that would be a different matter, and require a different approach.

I have no desire to go into these evidences more thoroughly. I did it once before on this board and it went nowhere, and I am slightly chagrined that this discussion has wandered into the realm of origins once again.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Fluffy ]</p>
post #54 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>The point is that the Big Bang theory is taught as complete fact, implying that there are no problems with the theory at all, or if there are that science will overcome them. There are, in fact, tremendous problems, none of which have shaken the faith of the believers of the Big Bang.</strong><hr></blockquote>I'm not sure how any of that addresses my point that the Big Bang is a genuine scientific theory, not some propaganda, as you implied. Your list of discrepancies and arguments about the data reinforces my point that it is a scientific theory open to debate and testing and competing observations.

This is essentially the same argument creationists use against evolution - "look, even your scientists can't agree on everything. That proves that you guys don't know what you're talking about." But that is the very strength of science - its openness to revision based on new data.

If I can try to distill this down, some religious people say: "science is no different from religion, because science-believers have faith just like God-believers. There's no proof for the Big Bang, yet you still have faith in it. That's just like our belief in God."

But your citations show that we are totally willing to modify or reject our theories when new empirical information comes in. (In fact, I thought I saw a report on the news just recently that someone made an observation that suggested the Universe is actually not expanding. Wouldn't that be a shock to the system if replicated.)

My argument is that religion is about faith and authority (the Bible), and science is about observation and theory testing. Science is not another religion. Science and religion are opposites - two diametrically opposed ways of understanding the world.
post #55 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>But this is a circular argument You are saying that an omnipotent God decided that those who commit "sin" (whatever that is) could not be with Him (and is God really a "him"?) so God decided to pay the penalty he himself had decided was necessary. Why not set up a universe without this cumbersome concept of sin and sacrifice being necessary in the first place? :confused: </strong><hr></blockquote>

Actually no it is not. God wanted us to choose Him. And the universe was setup perfectly to begin with, but He gave man choice so that man could truly love God. Is lover relaly love if you are just programmed to do it and have no choice in the matter? I don't think so.

Go back to the Garden of Eden. God gave Adam full reign over all the beasts birds and plants. Adam gave up that right to Satan when he succumbed to temptation, ate the Fruit, lied to God and hid from God. As penalty creation was cursed and death was introduced (the penalty for sin). Jesus became the "second Adam" and he reclaimed all that God had given to the first Adam by his life and subsequent death and resurrection. God made it right for us because we could not do it ourselves. We just have to accept it first. Not a circular argument if you look at all the facts.
NoahJ
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post #56 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by The Blue Meanie:
<strong>So we have another full-bore, armour-plated, all-guns-blazing Christian on these boards. That's two more than I expected. I'm not going to get into a pointless theological debate with you, Fluffy, but I'd just like to ask you this question: if you appeared in court, what evidence could you offer that any of this is true, even slightly, even at all?</strong><hr></blockquote>

What would be the point? You have religion versus science in your mind. The Big Bang, unhelped or created is a viable theory in many peoples minds because those smarter (not wiser necesarily) say it is so. Then you have a group of "religious people" who say God did it and have their Bible and convictions to back them up. Neither side has first hand knowledge or was there when it all occured and neither side is going to convince the other that they are wrong on these boards. However you know that in a court that the religious view stands no chance in a human court. Like it or not, the bias is there.

I assert now that when you die you will know and not before then.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
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post #57 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>But your citations show that we are totally willing to modify or reject our theories when new empirical information comes in.</strong><hr></blockquote>

The entire point of the citations is that despite the evidence arrayed against the theory and despite the questions and opposition of colleagues, it is not modified in any real way. It is still believed and promoted, despite its flaws. The opposing evidence is ignored, not examined. The point is that they really have no choice. The universe was either created or not, and most scientists have already decided that it was not, despite any evidence that may arise.

[quote]<strong>My argument is that religion is about faith and authority (the Bible), and science is about observation and theory testing. Science is not another religion. Science and religion are opposites - two diametrically opposed ways of understanding the world.</strong><hr></blockquote>

I agree. However, the truth is absolute... belief does not change what actually happened. In that sense, science and religion converge or, more specifically, science and the correct religion converge. By examining the claims each religion makes and comparing it to what can be observed, it should theoretically be possible to determine the correct religion.

This is not possible in practice because although science may be devoid of religion, scientists are certainly not. The religion that most scientists have currently wedded themselves to is naturalism, the faith that nature is self creating and sustaining. It is an old religion, but it is not science. It does not affect most of the work that is performed, but it does affect the current interpretation of past events. We need look no farther than the conduct of the scientific community (embodied in the NEA) in this country to see this religion at work. No teacher is allowed to question the current scientific dogma in schools. Evidence that may contradict that dogma is not allowed as part of the curriculum, and it may not be suggested that the evidence for naturalism is anything less than complete. If it is discovered that a teacher holds beliefs that conflict with the established naturalistic religion, that teacher can be fired unless he keeps those beliefs and the evidence for them to himself. Research in universities that may challenge the current naturalistic beliefs is discouraged, and it normally does not receive sufficient funding due to its scope. Several universities do not permit students who accept creation to receive advanced degrees. In short, the status quo is enforced with the zeal of true believers, not scientists.

If you choose to believe in the infallibility of those who have become our high priests, be my guest. I most certainly do not.
post #58 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>However, the truth is absolute... belief does not change what actually happened.
...
If you choose to believe in the infallibility of those who have become our high priests, be my guest. I most certainly do not.</strong><hr></blockquote>I think all those quotes you have from scientists openly criticizing other scientists and theories suggest something very different from an infallible high-priesthood. It suggests a very competitive enterprise, where theories are subject to constant criticism from others in the field.

When some new theory comes along that better explains the observations, the old theories will be abandoned. Einstein's theories are a good example - they explained some existing data better, and they also generated unique predictions that were later subjected to empirical test.

Much less dramatic examples of this happen just about every day in science - are eggs bad for you or good? Are ulcers caused by stress or by bacteria? Should doctors recommend cigarettes, as they used to? Science is entirely willing to abandon its theories as new observations come in. That just doesn't sound like an infallible priesthood to me.

I agree with your dislike of relativism and post-modernism, though. It's the anti-scientific position of the current times, IMO. They say there is no truth, that science is just a white male enterprise, it's just another product of the culture, etc. So it's interesting to hear someone from a religious perspective criticize both the post-modernists and the scientists. They've always seems to be at opposite ends to me.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting discussion, and I look forward to further responses. I feel like I'm too old for discussions like this, though - it gives me a headache anymore. When I was 18, I could go all day.
post #59 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>
We need look no farther than the conduct of the scientific community (embodied in the NEA) in this country to see this religion at work. No teacher is allowed to question the current scientific dogma in schools. Evidence that may contradict that dogma is not allowed as part of the curriculum, and it may not be suggested that the evidence for naturalism is anything less than complete. If it is discovered that a teacher holds beliefs that conflict with the established naturalistic religion, that teacher can be fired unless he keeps those beliefs and the evidence for them to himself.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Ah. What you are describing, I think, are the effects caused by the little known, and often unspoken of, fifth horseman of the apocalypse: politics. And neither science nor religion are immune to its influence.
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post #60 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by BRussell:
<strong>Anyway, thanks for the interesting discussion, and I look forward to further responses. I feel like I'm too old for discussions like this, though - it gives me a headache anymore. When I was 18, I could go all day.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

I agree, and debated whether or not to delete my previous post. In the end it just turns into a shouting match anyway. Besides, the original topic of Satan seems to have fallen along the wayside...

I will have to agree fully on most of your points. Science is, by and large, a great institution. It is only the origin sciences that I have a problem with, due to the afforementioned bias that I see. Perhaps you don't see it, and that's fine. Most scientists (maybe 99.9%) are honestly trying to do their best to further knowledge within the confines of their field, and I respect that. But I still don't buy the "objective" bit.

[quote]<strong>Ah. What you are describing, I think, are the effects caused by the little known, and often unspoken of, fifth horseman of the apocalypse: politics. And neither science nor religion are immune to its influence.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Mostly true, which is why the founding fathers tried so hard not to allow an established religion. But I suppose there is no escaping it.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Fluffy ]</p>
post #61 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

I agree. However, the truth is absolute... belief does not change what actually happened. In that sense, science and religion converge or, more specifically, science and the correct religion converge. By examining the claims each religion makes and comparing it to what can be observed, it should theoretically be possible to determine the correct religion.

This is not possible in practice because although science may be devoid of religion, scientists are certainly not. The religion that most scientists have currently wedded themselves to is naturalism, the faith that nature is self creating and sustaining. It is an old religion, but it is not science. It does not affect most of the work that is performed, but it does affect the current interpretation of past events. We need look no farther than the conduct of the scientific community (embodied in the NEA) in this country to see this religion at work. No teacher is allowed to question the current scientific dogma in schools. Evidence that may contradict that dogma is not allowed as part of the curriculum, and it may not be suggested that the evidence for naturalism is anything less than complete. If it is discovered that a teacher holds beliefs that conflict with the established naturalistic religion, that teacher can be fired unless he keeps those beliefs and the evidence for them to himself. Research in universities that may challenge the current naturalistic beliefs is discouraged, and it normally does not receive sufficient funding due to its scope. Several universities do not permit students who accept creation to receive advanced degrees. In short, the status quo is enforced with the zeal of true believers, not scientists.

If you choose to believe in the infallibility of those who have become our high priests, be my guest. I most certainly do not.</strong><hr></blockquote>

The very essence of science is to try to describe everything we see going on around us by completely natural phenomena. Science does not say there is no God, merely that you can't say "God did it" as a summative theory to explain your observations. Everything must be above board, verifiable, and repeatable. This is where "God did it" becomes untenable - God does not choose to answer our beck and call to perform on cue. He works in His own way, behind the scenes, at His own pace. He typically shows Himself in miraculous, one-time events that are not repeatable - thereby requiring faith to accept what has happened, rather than logical deduction. So if I am planning on manufacturing sulfuric acid, for example, I'd better have a pretty good theory on how to make it that does not require God to intervene for its success, or I'm going to look pretty foolish.

So if this is what you want to call "naturalism", then science is guilty as charged. Science makes no pretenses of having the Absolute Truth. We make a series of hypotheses (models, if you will) that explain what we see. As new observations are made, the hypothesis may be confirmed by the mounting evidence, or it may be completely disproved. More commonly, it is usually found that the model was too simple, and needs to be modified to fit the new data. The real value of these models, though, is in their predictive power. Testing the hypothesis gives direction for research - "If the hypothesis is right, then if I do x, I should observe y." The ultimate goal of this is not Truth, but Usefulness. If a hypothesis is good enough that it explains everything we observe that is related to it, and gives us a chance to predict the outcome in advance of observations not yet made, it is extremely Useful. Whether or not it is True is irrelevant. This is actually the real problem with Creationism - its backers claim it is True, which scientists deem meaningless. The scientists look at it and ask, "Is it Useful?" and the answer is a resounding "NO" because it has no capacity for prediction in it (or if it does make predictions, they are universally found to be incorrect). It is a "God did it" theory, which holds no water in science.

This approach to acquiring knowledge, for whatever philosophical problems you may have with it, has proved to be extremely powerful. It is based on the philosophy that the Universe is inherently understandable - that Nature is not capricious, it is regular, repeatable, and orderly. That if human beings ask the right questions in the right way, we can get the answer to virtually any riddle the Universe poses. In over 400 years it has proved itself time and again as a reliable way to solve some of the knottiest problems the physical world has thrown at us.

Science does, however, have its limits. The old credo is, "If it can't be measured, it's not Science" (which is basically true). We all know there are scores of phenomena that cannot be quantified, and probably never will be. These are inherently beyond the scope of science - they are in the realm of the philosophers and theologians. Science has nothing to say about the existence of God - He is beyond measurement and cannot be quantified. Science will never be able to prove or disprove His existence. A good scientist knows where the line is where the evidence stops and speculation begins.

Religion, too, has its limitations. In the Middle Ages, the teachings of Aristotle were incorporated into Church doctrine. This produced a huge number of decrees about how the Church said the world worked - like sailing south of the Equator would make your boat burst into flames. That flat things float and round things sink, regardless of density. That the Universe is composed of concentric crystalline spheres which turn on their axes daily. Galileo Gallilei was the first to bear the Church's wrath for declaring that many of these "official teachings" were nonsense. With time, the Church learned to avoid weaving tangled webs of theology that made firm pronouncements about how the world was based strictly on their own reasoning. Empirical observation beat them every time. So religion's role is to help us explain the unexplainable, to help us grasp the supernatural, and to keep us aware of a power greater than all of us.

Thus, religion and science are not diametrically opposed to each other. They are actually complementary. Each provides a valuable method of understanding the world as we experience it - both natural and supernatural. As long as each sticks to its own domain, they are like the two wings of a great bird, supporting us between them. It is only when Science starts trying to dictate about the Supernatural world or Religion starts trying to dictate about the Natural world, that they get into conflict.

Well, this has probably done nothing to soothe anybody, but hey - the Mac rumor mill is as dry as the Sahara (Sahara? did somebody mention that new IBM G3? ) so arguing over theology is probably the next best thing.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: TJM ]</p>
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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post #62 of 119
** deleted **

Actually, I'm not going to get into the creation/evolution debate here.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Fluffy ]</p>
post #63 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>** deleted **

Actually, I'm not going to get into the creation/evolution debate here.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Fluffy ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

Thank you!
I find most debates along those lines futile, anyway. Almost as pointless as Intel vs. PPC. <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" />
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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post #64 of 119
Thread Starter 
Fluffy and NoahJ too,

Don't take this too hard, but I think your readings are a little too invested with dogma. The creation story, and the fall, are not (in a great many christian and jewish readings) to be taken literally. One might say to do this actually weakens the overall force of 'the word.' Owing to a certain genius present in the Biblical considerations of 'word' perhaps it is also too naive to disqualify a reading for it's 'literality.' But if we're going to extend 'literal' in a historical human concept, then it is likely poorer for it.

Making some things history might damage the message in the narrative vehicle, or at least obscure it.
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post #65 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>I think your readings are a little too invested with dogma. The creation story, and the fall, are not (in a great many christian and jewish readings) to be taken literally. One might say to do this actually weakens the overall force of 'the word.'</strong><hr></blockquote>

That is the interpretation of many current theologians. In my opinion, however, creation and the fall are essential to the entire point of Jesus' death, theologically speaking. The need for a savior is based on the truth of original sin. If a history of billions of years of death, destruction and pain are accepted before a non-literal Adam, then original sin cannot be taken literally. Once original sin is gone, the very reason for Jesus' death becomes symbolic rather than real, and the consistency of the Christian and Judaic religions is compromised.

I agree 100% with honest atheists who believe that:

`Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus' earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.'
G. Richard Bozarth, `The Meaning of Evolution', American Atheist, p. 30. 20 September 1979.

If someone wants to use Christianity as a moral code or philosophy, then the origins debate is irrelevant. But I am in search of truth, not philosophy. Without creation Christianity has no truth.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Fluffy ]</p>
post #66 of 119
Thread Starter 
I have to disagree. If the fall is a narrative vehicle for the expression an intrinsic inner flaw, Jesus still has plenty of redeeming he can do. Most belief structures use a 'fall' motif. Falling has a very deep psychological root. There are studies of it's comic and dramatic effect in art and literature, and on the stage.

In the religion itself, Jesus does so much more than redeem our sins. God made man. It is an act of such devine sympathy, that if you believe, it would seem to me utterly selfish to focus on what it does for us, rather than what it means.
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post #67 of 119
That is certainly one interpretation, just not one that I happen to subscribe to at this time.
post #68 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

If someone wants to use Christianity as a moral code or philosophy, then the origins debate is irrelevant. But I am in search of truth, not philosophy. Without creation Christianity has no truth.

[ 03-14-2002: Message edited by: Fluffy ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

I know you don't want to get into creationism/evolution, so I won't press the issue, but there are many very good arguments available to harmonize an ancient Earth and the modern scientific view of the world with Christian theology. Most of the Protestant denominations, as well as the Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox churches have no problem with this issue. I realize this is an Argument from Authority, but my point is that a great many Christians have confronted this issue over the years and most have no problem with it. I certainly respect your beliefs and don't wish to talk you out of them, but I do have a problem with the tautology of Creationist = Christian. If you're not implying that, then I withdraw my objection, but as the rhetoric has heated up on this issue I am hearing it more and more and it really bothers me. It turns into "them" versus "us" instead of "we". Christians have been demonizing each other over doctrinal issues for too long - we need to work at focusing on our common beliefs, rather than our differences.
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post #69 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
<strong>I certainly respect your beliefs and don't wish to talk you out of them, but I do have a problem with the tautology of Creationist = Christian.</strong><hr></blockquote>

A Christian is one who accepts Jesus' sacrifice on their part, nothing more, and I never meant to imply otherwise.

However, I have seen evolution and our clergy's inability or unwillingness to defend Genesis irreparably damage the faith of colleagues, and it was these experiences that began my interest in the origins debate. I have found evolution to be the single largest barrier against acceptance of Christ by people not raised in the church, even when it is explained in the context of current harmonization attempts. I'm sure different people respond to different things; this has just been my experience.

And when it comes down to it, Satan can use anything to drive a wedge between a man and God.

Assuming that Satan is a real being, of course!
post #70 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

A Christian is one who accepts Jesus' sacrifice on their part, nothing more, and I never meant to imply otherwise.

However, I have seen evolution and our clergy's inability or unwillingness to defend Genesis irreparably damage the faith of colleagues, and it was these experiences that began my interest in the origins debate. I have found evolution to be the single largest barrier against acceptance of Christ by people not raised in the church, even when it is explained in the context of current harmonization attempts. I'm sure different people respond to different things; this has just been my experience.

And when it comes down to it, Satan can use anything to drive a wedge between a man and God.

Assuming that Satan is a real being, of course! </strong><hr></blockquote>

Man you are on a roll today. I really enjoy reading your posts. You put a voice to many of the things that I have thought and could not verbalize properly...
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #71 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

A Christian is one who accepts Jesus' sacrifice on their part, nothing more, and I never meant to imply otherwise.

However, I have seen evolution and our clergy's inability or unwillingness to defend Genesis irreparably damage the faith of colleagues, and it was these experiences that began my interest in the origins debate. I have found evolution to be the single largest barrier against acceptance of Christ by people not raised in the church, even when it is explained in the context of current harmonization attempts. I'm sure different people respond to different things; this has just been my experience.

And when it comes down to it, Satan can use anything to drive a wedge between a man and God.

Assuming that Satan is a real being, of course! </strong><hr></blockquote>


Gotcha. I'll admit that evolution makes explaining things a lot more complicated, but not impossible. I have generally found that Creationism is actually the stumbling block for most scientifically literate people to accepting Christ. However, my position is and always has been that if belief in Creationism gives someone a closer relationship with God, then it is a Good Thing (just don't try and tell me it's science - I know better! ). From God's perspective, I don't think it really matters. From my own experience and perspective, if Creationism were a mandatory doctrine of Christianity, I would not be a Christian. I find it that objectionable (for a long list of reasons I will spare you). However, we must all find our own paths to the Spirit, so I don't press the issue. I know we have a lot in common - so when we remain "we" we simply disagree. When it's "they're wrong" and "we're right", we start burning each other at the stake.

Grace and Peace to you in Christ Jesus our Savior.
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post #72 of 119
Um, I think you will find that "scientists" reject (the theory of) creationism because it is a POS with nothing to back it up.

Unlike the theory of evolution, which has ample evidence for it to be accepted as a very good scientific theory.

I will never understand the concept that ignorance is somehow a valid alternative to knowledge.

BTW, the Big Bang is not a viable theory because people smarter than us say it is. It is a viable theory because it makes predictions that can, and have, been confirmed by experiment.

It is not perfect. No theory is, and will be replaced in the fullness of time - as our knowledge increases.
http://freehenson.da.ru/ - chased out of America because he exposed the evils of Scientology. So much for freedom.
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http://freehenson.da.ru/ - chased out of America because he exposed the evils of Scientology. So much for freedom.
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post #73 of 119
post #74 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong></strong><hr></blockquote>

ummm... I'm not quite sure how to interpret this. If I have offended or otherwise upset you, I am truly sorry. I have tendency to be overly blunt at times.

btw, I hope that wasn't you driving that motorcycle at 200+ mph in "topend_wee.wmv"... :eek: <img src="graemlins/surprised.gif" border="0" alt="[Surprised]" />
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post #75 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by xenu:
Um, I think you will find that "scientists" reject (the theory of) creationism because it is a POS with nothing to back it up.<hr></blockquote>

A POS, really? Is that a scientific term?

[quote]Unlike the theory of evolution, which has ample evidence for it to be accepted as a very good scientific theory.<hr></blockquote>

Read, unlike the theory of evolution which some smart man came up with and sounded reasonable enough, more so than things just being created by a supreme being. Evolution may be real in certain circumstances, but the universe did not evolve into existence and I damn well did not evolve from an ape.

[quote]I will never understand the concept that ignorance is somehow a valid alternative to knowledge.<hr></blockquote>

Who here is pushing ignorance? Who here is saying anything of the sort? Give me examples of ignorance being put forth as better than knowledge. People are putting faith before science in some cases, but they are not ignorant, they have just decided that science cannot explain all that the world holds for us.

[quote]BTW, the Big Bang is not a viable theory because people smarter than us say it is. It is a viable theory because it makes predictions that can, and have, been confirmed by experiment.

It is not perfect. No theory is, and will be replaced in the fullness of time - as our knowledge increases.<hr></blockquote>

I have no doubt that there will be other theories as time goes on and the current theories are found to be either somewhat incorrect or completely false. There will be more theories to replace teh ones disproven. The Big bang may be real, but it did not happen by itself. Matter cannot come from nothing. And scientists have begun speculating that for some unknown reason it did. We are just having a nice discussion here. No need to get your trousers in a tangle.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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post #76 of 119
Thread Starter 
Noah,

You certainly didn't evolve from an Ape: you and the ape both evolved from the same, roughly squirrel sized animal, as far as we can tell.

This is silliness. To speak of creation, like the fall, in literal, or matter of fact historical terms, is both highly presumptuous and very bad theology. Why?

The devine is infinite and man is not. To this infinity add also the plenitude of perfection. If you believe in 'the word', as an illumination of the devine, you shouldn't conflate the written word and the spoken word of God. What arrogance would lead you to believe that a being constrained by all the bounds of time and space (man), could grasp the experience of time in the mind of God? A day, a week, a year? They may mean something to us, but our solar system is just a tiny pocketwatch in the whole of existence.

Why, in the minds of some devout, does the child paradigm collapse in this of all places? Everywhere else, the theist will point to the iniquities of man. The churches are filled with sermons about the failings and frustrations that come with the limits of intellect. God can be a poet if it wants to. Poetry does not diminish the gift. Sensitive reading would tell you that the creation story serves a different purpose than the explication of existence. It is not Darwin or Hawking, nor is meant to be. Those serve a different purpose from 'the word', and you dimish both by reading one for the other.

[ 03-16-2002: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
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post #77 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by NoahJ:
<strong>

Read, unlike the theory of evolution which some smart man came up with and sounded reasonable enough, more so than things just being created by a supreme being. Evolution may be real in certain circumstances, but the universe did not evolve into existence and I damn well did not evolve from an ape.</strong><hr></blockquote>

As I mentioned in a previous post, what makes a scientific theory useful is its predictive power. Those predictions put the theory to the extreme test - either it passes or it is gone.

Consider Darwin's theory of evolution for a moment. It required two principles: an ancient Earth so there would be time for evolution to do its thing, and a mechanism for inheritance to pass traits down from one generation to the next.

In 1859 (when it was proposed) the ancient earth hypothesis was a bit of a muddle. Geologists were suggesting that the Earth was at least millions of years old (and had been for about 75 years). However, thermodynamics was showing that the Earth should have long since cooled into a solid ball (with no molten core) by then. Additionally, an ancient Earth required an ancient sun. No one could come up with a mechanism for keeping the sun shining for more than a few thousand years, let alone even one million. Darwin was skating on very thin ice when he suggested that the world HAD to be at least millions of years old.

In order for Darwin's theory to hold up, he REQUIRED the discovery of radioactivity (which has helped to warm the Earth and keep its core molten over the eons) and nuclear fusion (which is what powers the sun). He also required the discovery of DNA to pass on genetic information.

These discoveries in other branches of science happened for completely unrelated reasons. The researchers were working on their own problems that were in no way related to evolution (DNA was somewhat related, but they were trying to figure out inheritance, not directly trying to prove or disprove evolution). The fact that these enormously important discoveries in other fields all fit exactly with what was needed to make evolution work is the most powerful evidence in its favor. There was no reason, a priori, that when Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity it would turn out that the energy involved in nuclear disintegration of elements within the Earth would be enough to keep the Earth molten. There was no reason, a priori, that when Earnest Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus (and later nuclear transmutation) that the energy released in fusing hydrogen into helium would be enough to power the sun for more than 10 billion years. There was no reason, a priori, when Watson and Crick figured out the double-helix of DNA that it would lead to DNA mapping of species which confirmed the genetic relationships among species that had been deduced from external traits. If any one of these discoveries had turned out differently, evolution would have had a very serious problem. The fact is, it has passed virtually every test anyone has ever thrown at it. It stands as one of the most useful, most thoroughly confirmed theories in all of science. I would put only the Laws of Thermodynamics and the Atomic Theory over it in terms of scientific validity.

So when creationists dismiss evolution as "just another theory" it makes me want to punch them in the nose. That's like dismissing George Washington as "just another President" or penicillin as "just another chemical" or the USA as "just another country". Unseating evolution as the predominant theory of species development in biology is going to take a whole lot more than pouty "we don't like it" statements, or one or two trivial phenomena that are not well understood. It is either wishful thinking or complete ignorance that suggests otherwise.

And, like it or not, you are indeed closely related to the great apes (though not descended from them, as Matsu pointed out). Your DNA is 95% identical to that of a gorilla, and 97% identical to a chimpanzee. Which, by the way, is closer than your relationship to the Neanderthals (about 96% identical, IIRC). So the next time you're at the zoo, be sure to drop in and say hello to your cousins!

[ 03-16-2002: Message edited by: TJM ]</p>
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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post #78 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
<strong>

ummm... I'm not quite sure how to interpret this. If I have offended or otherwise upset you, I am truly sorry. I have tendency to be overly blunt at times. </strong><hr></blockquote>

Naw, I was responding to xenu.

Not only is evolution just a theory, but a completely unsupported one at that!

** Ducks and covers nose! **

Seriously, I'd love to discuss the creation/evolution issue, just not on a webboard, because it turns into two or three people trying to have a decent discussion while sixteen others throw insults around.
post #79 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by Fluffy:
<strong>

Naw, I was responding to xenu.

Not only is evolution just a theory, but a completely unsupported one at that!

** Ducks and covers nose! **

Seriously, I'd love to discuss the creation/evolution issue, just not on a webboard, because it turns into two or three people trying to have a decent discussion while sixteen others throw insults around.</strong><hr></blockquote>

OK, I'm relieved. Feel free to punch me anytime I say something that hits a nerve. I do tend to be rather blunt and don't always realize how what I'm saying sounds to the other person.

I agree with you on debating creation/evolution. It is such an emotionally charged issue that it is almost impossible to keep a calm discussion going. It goes right to the core of one's understanding of the Bible. Since we get much of that understanding from parents, beloved teachers, and meaningful others, it is all soaked with deeply felt emotions - a threat to any of it seems like a threat to all of it. Consequently I have learned to avoid it most times (I just couldn't let NoahJ off the hook, though <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" /> ). I am willing to have a serious discussion of the theological implications of evolution with anyone, but it usually turns into name-calling and shrieking before long. Very frustrating way to deal with such a crucial topic. <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" />
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the Universe" - Galileo Galilei
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post #80 of 119
[quote]Originally posted by TJM:
Unseating evolution as the predominant theory of species development in biology is going to take a whole lot more than pouty "we don't like it" statements, or one or two trivial phenomena that are not well understood. It is either wishful thinking or complete ignorance that suggests otherwise.<hr></blockquote>

I am not necessarily saying that there is no evolution. Animals have shown to mutate or adapt to their environment and thus "evolve". But I stand by my assertion that man did not evolve from an ape, a chimpanzee, or some squirrel. If you want to give the Chimp in the zoo a kiss though I won't stop you.
NoahJ
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err." - Mahatma Gandhi
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NoahJ
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