Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Fair enough. However, faith can be defined (not MY definition) as "firm belief in something against which there is no proof". So...in the absense of proof that there wasn't devine intervention at some point, is also a faith choice.
You're not really using your the above definition of faith, however. In practice, it would appear that your faith is a "firm belief in something for which their is a great deal of contrary evidence, but which I will believe in anyway, imagining as many miracles and bizarre coincidences as it takes, and I will assume that even if I can't answer a troubling question, then there must simply be an answer or explanation that someone hasn't yet discovered, because, above all, the thing I believe in must
Of course, I know you'll claim that believing in evolution is somehow exactly the same thing, that evolutionists swallow just as much wild coincidence "on faith", etc., etc.
But it's not the same thing. Why? First of all, let's start with the difference between if
something happened, and how
Creationists and IDers often point to calculations (quite refutable, but we'll set that aside for now) which say the odds of this protein forming or that organelle forming by chance, etc., etc., are so astronomical that to believe in such things is nothing more than another kind of faith, a wild leap in the face of logic and probability, a leap made only to help one cling to a Godless view of life.
Regardless of how improbable it might seem to you, however, that natural selection alone could produce the complexity of life, it's important to realize that such a mechanism is proposed to explain how
evolution might have occurred, not if
An aside about the use of the word "theory", from something I read recently which I think put this wonderfully: A "theory of gravity" is not a theory about if
gravity exists or not. Gravity is taken as fact
. A theory
of gravity is a theory about the how
of gravity, a search for the mechanisms of gravity, not a proposal for gravity's already-established existence.
The available biological, geological and paleontological evidence establishes as strongly as possible, by any practical
meaning of the word "fact", that the occurrence
of evolution is a fact
. The theory
of evolution at this point in the history of science concerns the mechanism or mechanisms of evolution, not the mere occurrence of evolution. Natural selection is by far the best contender for a mechanism, but there's nothing to stop you from contemplating, should you be so inclined, a little Divine Intervention (or alien even intervention) here and there to push things along in the right direction.
If you wished to not merely contemplate, but assert
Divine Intervention, that would fit the definition you provided for an act of faith. At least such an act of faith would not require the denial
of a mountain of contrary evidence. For most scientists, the truth of such an assertion isn't so much denied as it is simply dismissed as superfluous, unnecessary, and lacking in explanatory or predictive value.
When it comes to Noah's Ark, however, there's nothing at all in the way of physical evidence which comes together to point towards the very specific and detailed story in the Bible, or even the very broadest of brushstrokes from the story, aside from "big floods have happened" and "many separate cultures tell (very different) flood stories". It's fairly obvious, in fact, that in many, many ways
the great body of available physical evidence goes totally against the occurrence of the Biblical Flood.
Can you struggle against all of this evidence, trying to work backwards from evidence to the desired story? Sure. Can you find hopeful scraps of evidence here and there look like they might either support your story, or, at the very least, poke holes in the competition? Sure. Can you propose enough miracles to cover up any problems? That's easy.
In the end, however, you're accepting or creating wild explanations not only to support an unfounded story, but in order to deny a wealth of contrary evidence, settling instead for anything which, in the most impractical philosophical sense, can be deemed "possible", as long as it can prop up your belief. On the other hand, no matter how much you wish to claim that those who don't accept the Flood are also just "going on faith", they've got plenty of hard data to back up their denial of the Flood. The situation is hardly symmetric.
In fact, since denying the Flood and accepting evolution are not the same thing (although, yes, they often go together), you would simply be attempting guilt by association if you attempt to use your belief that evolution is a wild leap of faith to say that Flood deniers are guilty also of a similar wild leap of faith when they deny the Flood.
Denying the Flood depends not in the least on accepting the "crazy" notion of evolution
. Such a denial stands quite well on its own without resort to the most-attacked aspect of evolution -- the reliance on random mutation.
I know how you love my analogies
Imagine one of the classic murder mystery puzzles: someone is found murdered in a room, a room locked from the inside.
You might have to come up with some pretty fanciful ideas to explain how the murder occurred, but you still know there was a murder
, or as some stories would have it, a very bizarre suicide. At the very least, you have a very dead body to explain somehow. If your ideas get wild, it's only in an effort to explain the known facts.
Noah's Ark is more like this: You walk into a pretty normal, un-amazing looking room, and suddenly declare "A tall, red-headed male financial analyst was murdered here!". Maybe you think you remember a bad dream you had about this room, maybe the room fits something you remember from a Tarot card reading... who knows.
Q: Could you be right?
A: Sure, anything is possible.
Q: Why are there no blood stains, no signs of struggle?
A: Maybe the murderer cleaned up all of the evidence... and, hey! Look at this picture on the wall. It's a little askew! That could be a sign!
Q: How come no one in this neighborhood has been reported as missing?
A: Maybe the victim wasn't from around here. Maybe the victim kept to himself. Maybe people know, but are too scared to speak.
Q: How do you know the victim was male?
A: It was in my dream.
Q: How do you know the victim was tall?
A: It was in my dream.
Q: How do you know the victim was red headed?
A: It was in my dream.
Q: How come we can't find any red hairs in the room?
A: Like I said, it looks like the murderer did a good clean-up job.
Q: This isn't a financial office, there's nothing on this computer in here that looks like anyone was looking at financial reports, no paperwork or briefcase were left behind. If I ask how you know it was a financial analyst who was killed, you're going to say "It was in my dream" again, aren't you?
A: Uh, yes.
I know the whole "I'm not going to second guess God" routine, and that that's your way out of, "Well, why wouldn't God just make the people and animals he didn't like vanish?". But isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Shouldn't the story seem Godly
first, before being ascribed to God, rather than being asserted as Godly from the start, and then not questioning how God does things?
Isn't it at all odd to you that God's unquestionable ways are not only round-about, not only sound an awful lot like an old goatherder story, but that his ways are downright conspiratorial when it comes to hiding the evidence of His acts, to the point of not only destroying evidence, but to the point of leaving so much misleading evidence, or letting Satan get away with planting misleading evidence all over? Are you willing to write all of that off as a "test of faith"?
As much as you want to characterize your unwavering devotion to the story of Noah's Ark as "no different" from someone simply denying the story, your belief is categorically different from mere disbelief in the same story, different enough to require such a disconnect from reality (especially when you don't have ignorance as an excuse) that, going back to my earlier point, I'd characterize it as a kind of mental disorder. Commonplace? Yes. Can be lived with by people who seem to function more or less normally in other ways? Yes. But still (yes, in my personal view) a disconnect from reality and a dysfunctional way of thinking I'd call crazy.
A quote from the link I gave above:
Second, the whole story can be dismissed as a series of supernatural miracles. There is no way to contradict such an argument. However, one must wonder about a God who reportedly does one thing and then arranges every bit of evidence to make it look like something else happened. It's entirely possible that a global flood occurred 4000 years ago or even last Thursday, and that God subsequently erased all the evidence, including our memories of it. But even if such stories are true, what's the point?