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Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

Posted October 13, 2009 12:00 AM by Steve Melito

In 2007, two Hollywood screenwriters launched a grassroots, nonpartisan initiative called ScienceDebate2008 to encourage America's presidential candidates to publicly debate science policy. Scientists thought this was a "great idea", Unscientific America explains, "because they assumed that the rational airing of policies and differences should lead to better decision making".

But politicians, including the nominees of both major political parties, "viewed it as a lose-lose proposition". In the words of ScienceDebate2008's CEO, Shawn Otto, a televised science debate "would require lots of prep time and huge political exposure in order to move a relatively niche audience".

Editor's Note: This is the third part in a four-part book review. Click here if you missed the introduction. Click here for the previous entry in this series.

Science Escape 2008

Ultimately, ScienceDebate2008 secured written answers to 14 questions from the presidential nominees of both major parties. Yet "it was two screenwriters – mass communicators – and not scientists themselves," Shawn Otto adds, who secured this limited achievement.

So why didn't America's citizen-scientists drive the debate from the start? "Effective communication isn't rocket science," Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum explain, but "most scientists are source-oriented communicators" who would rather speak to their peers in "scientist-speak" than address politicians, the public, and television reporters.

Mooney and Kirshenbaum use the history of ScienceDebate 2008 to encourage American scientists to embrace a style of "receiver-oriented communication" that considers the needs of a larger, national audience. In dealing with politicians, scientists "should establish long-term relationships that are multi-directional in nature" rather than limiting their outreach to requests for research funding. In dealing with the media, scientists must also adjust their approach. Specifically, scientists "will have to accept that their advice is being judged not on its substantive content – at least not at first – but explicitly on the utility of its packaging."

The Crisis in Science Communication

But can scientists rely upon the media to get a science story straight, if it's even covered at all? In Unscientific America, Mooney and Kirshenbaum also claim that "there's a crisis today in the realm of science communication," a crisis that will only deepen "as market forces continue to dismantle public-interest-oriented, informative journalism of all types and supplant it with entertainment, blogging, or nothing at all." In the newspaper industry, declining profits have led to sharp cuts in science coverage. On the Internet, "the typical blog mode is to find an individual piece of science reporting with some particular failing and blast it." On cable TV, "fragmentation" and the rise of "partisan media" prevail.

Science and Stereotypes

Science and scientists don't fare much better in Hollywood, Unscientific America continues. Part of the problem is "a sense that science is inimical to storytelling" because "it quashes creativity, which be allowed to breathe". Scientists are creative, of course, but "the scientific method, as a process" is a lengthy one that doesn't lend itself to an hour-long film or television program. Then there's the matter of how TV shows and movies depict scientists themselves. As James Cameron, the director of films such as Aliens and The Terminator, has observed, these forms of entertainment generally "show scientists as idiosyncratic nerds or actively the villains".

"We don't see many films about evil literary critics," Mooney and Kirshenbaum note, so "it's safe to infer there's something about scientists that triggers a particular type of stereotyping." The origins of this bias run deeper than an American "disdain of intellect," a phenomenon that the historian Richard Hofstadter described in his 1962 classic, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. According to the authors of Unscientific America, the public's attitude towards scientists reflects "our society's uneasiness with the power they can sometimes wield." Unfortunately, some members of the profession respond in kind with unfair depictions of real or imagined adversaries.

The Great Desecration

Paul Zachary Myers, a University of Minnesota biology professor, provides a case in point. In 2008, "PZ" Myers asked readers of his popular Pharyngula blog to "score me some consecrated communion wafers" from a Catholic Church so that he could desecrate the Eucharist and post pictures of this "profound disrespect". Myers' example is an extreme one, but the authors of Unscientific America cite "a large number of 'New Atheist' voices" who contribute to this renewed tension between science and religion in America. Still, some of the most prominent names that the authors cite (e.g., Christopher Hitchens) are not those of scientists at all, but of journalists and other academics who write about science-related subjects.

Unscientific America's analysis may be overly broad here, but its conclusions are bold. "The American scientific community gains nothing from the condescending rhetoric of the New Atheists", Mooney and Kirshenbaum claim. "America is a very religious nation", they add, "and if forced to chose between faith and science, vast numbers of Americans will choose the former".

Author's Note: Click here for the fourth and final part of this series.

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#1

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/13/2009 9:30 AM

"would require lots of prep time and huge political exposure in order to move a relatively nice audience".

While I'm quite sure an audience interested in science would be nice, perhaps the word Shawn used is 'niche'.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/13/2009 9:53 AM

Indeed it was "niche" and not "nice". Thanks for catching that. I've corrected it in the blog entry.

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/13/2009 10:19 AM

Uh, to think that a political campaign would involve a "rational airing of policies and differences" is just a bit naiive, don't you think? The purpose of a campaign is to win. The purpose of science is to discover. And never the two shall meet.

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Anonymous Poster
#4

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/13/2009 11:24 AM

I just read the following comments to a science story that the New York Times just posted on Facebook.

"Let's not mention God in this realm if we don't have to. The crazies will do that for you."

"Ok I just read this article and I have no idea wtf they're talking about. Can someone explain this to me in laymans terms?"

Yep. They hit the mark with their book.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/13/2009 5:38 PM

Can someone explain this to me in laymans terms?"

They've "cold feet"

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#5

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/13/2009 2:45 PM

I've covered my objections regarding "communication" last time, so I won't cover it here. Let me instead tackle this Science vs. Religion conflict myth.

A basic principle of both Science and Religion is the idea of Harmony. In both doctrines the goal is to elucidate the means by which the Harmony of God, or Nature, exists. The similarity is such that I have personally found most scientists, at least physicists, to be spiritual individuals. Although this spiritualness, it is true, rarely conforms to a strict theology, which can be often impossible for a scientist, it does reinforce many of the moral teachings one finds in religions.

Science is such a humbling profession, that when you get to the point where you begin to comprehend the size and magnitude and beauty of the Universe that surrounds us, it becomes difficult to see that classic atheist statement "there is no god" as anything but comically arrogant. Not to say it isn't possible, it is certainly possible there isn't a God, just that to say something so expansive with such certainty betrays a general lack of understanding of how hopelessly finite we are.

It has been more often my experience that atheists misappropriate science to justify their religion. I say religion because atheism requires as much faith as any other religion, as it is as impossible to prove there isn't a god as to prove there is. Atheism isn't the only religion to misuse science for questionable justifications, but it does seem to do it more frequently. I think this creates an illusion of reciprocity that doesn't exist between atheism and science.

Regarding this book you're reviewing Moose, I think the Authors of Unscientific America should just rename their book "Every cliche about scientists you've ever heard rehashed" and stop pretending this was some sort of critical analysis.

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 12:09 AM

And how would agnostics fit into your worldview?

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 9:15 AM

Agnostics are just lazy.

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#25
In reply to #11

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/15/2009 4:43 AM

On the contrary, agnostics are just honest.

In your own words, "it is as impossible to prove there isn't a god as to prove there is."

Agnostics are the only ones who have the courage to admit it.

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#27
In reply to #25

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/15/2009 9:40 AM

Again, just because you don't know whether God exists or not does not mean God exists or not.

The point of faith is that you can't prove what you are believing in. If you are a religious person, you have faith that God (or Gods) exist. If you're an atheist you have faith that God doesn't exist. If you're agnostic, you basically are saying you don't believe in faith, which is fine.

Again, the definition of faith from websters dictionary is: firm belief in something for which there is no proof

You Wrote "Agnostics are the only ones who have the courage to admit it."

Again, look up the definition of faith. You are missing the point completely.

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#56
In reply to #27

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 7:45 AM

The 'theists' have done an incredible job framing this arguement. Their framing is so complete that the people who do not believe as they do willingly accept the name devised for them: 'atheist'.

This is no trivial point. Ask yourself what other system of beliefs has you calling yourself a special name if you do not agree....

... must you declare yourself an, 'ahobgoblinist', because you don't believe in hobgoblins?

.....are you compelled to lable yourself an 'afaeriest', or and 'asprite-ist', since you do not believe in faeries or sprites?

....would you think it at all odd, if everyone insisted on calling you an 'abigfootist', an 'alocknessmonsterist', an 'a-all-the-greek-godsist', or an 'askunkapist'?

Do you make an effort to apply rigorous tests to your obsevations, understanding, and system of beliefs in every aspect, except when it comes to ...superstition (you may call it religion)? have you asked yourself why?

One of the worst thinks you can be called today, might be some form of 'intollerant'. We are told that all ideas are of equal value. We are shouted down as a biggot if we openly call into question the ideas of a group.

As engineers, you know this would not be acceptable in any part of your professional life. Yet many of you tollerate or even support this unhealthy social interaction outside work. how much would your work suffer without critical peer review? how much better could the other aspects of you life be if critical peer review were an integral part?

I encourage you to give up this idea of tolerance of ideas. Be tollerant of people. Of ideas, remember that some ideas are MUCH better than other ideas. Be elitist concerning ideas.

it is time to be intolerant of this foolish tolerance of ideas. if something doesn't stand up to critical analysis both internal and peer review, it doesn't mean you have to trash it, just make sure you catagorize it with the rest of the nursery rhymes and faeriey tales.

Benbenben, a fervent 'athemoonismadeofbluecheeseist'

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 8:12 AM

Ben

Please register

You always say such interesting things & express them in such an entertaining way

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#60
In reply to #56

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 9:42 AM

You speak as though you can prove what you're saying, but you can no more prove there is not a god than you can prove there is a god.

I want you to think back in your life. Have there ever been moments when you were absolutely positive of something, that even when you were shown with math that you were wrong you still couldn't quite believe it? Moments when common sense failed you? I know it's happened to me.

I know you feel absolutely certain that the idea of God is superstition, but you can't prove that, not with science. Not anymore than someone who believes in religion can prove it with science. My point is, if you can't prove it with the scientific method, then you can't speak definitively.

If you can disprove something scientifically, then I certainly agree that you should tolerated disproved ideas.

However, when you insist something is incorrect, even though you can't disprove it scientifically, that's just bigotry.

The prefix A in Atheist simply means "Not". It comes from Latin. If you don't like it, rename you belief system, I certainly feel you are entitled to your beliefs and should not suffer an stigma for them. I just ask that you show me the same courtesy, unless of course you can prove to me scientifically there is no God.

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#72
In reply to #60

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 12:17 PM

I'm going out on a limb here, and I hope I don't hurt any feelings. To me it seems that there are many people who are torn between an interest in science and technology, and the religious teachings they have been exposed to since childhood. In the US this almost certainly means Christian religious teachings.

If you have a firm belief in the teachings of Christianity, it is often difficult to pursue a career in science. If you believe that people, plants and animals, the earth, and the universe were all created at about the same time, you will find it very difficult to advance through your courses in biology, geology, astronomy, or physics. These are fields in which the basic principles and time scales are at odds with Christian teachings. You might have less conflict if you study chemistry or meteorology. And engineering is a particularly good fit for students who are conflicted between religion and science.

I don't really think that there is necessarily a huge conflict between a belief in God, and a dedication to science, at least in terms of the particulars. The main conflict is between science and religious dogma. It is possible for a Deist to be an astrophysicist, but not so much for a Fundamentalist. Science is self-correcting, even if the pace is often very slow. Dogma however is fixed - there haven't been any new (Christian) prophets for a couple of thousand years.

The votes of Christian Fundamentalists are just as important as the votes of any one else. The dollars spent by Christian Fundamentalists have the same value as the dollars spent by anyone else. These votes and dollars are social choices, and have real and measurable effects on society. One of these effects is to promote attitudes of an anti-scientific nature, and an acceptance of pseudo-science.

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#73
In reply to #72

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 12:37 PM

You Wrote "The main conflict is between science and religious dogma."

I almost agree. I would categorize the conflict between science and dogma, I feel you are unfairly singling out "religious dogma".

In fact, I would strongly argue that "economic dogma" has as strong or stronger anti-science effect, at least in the U.S.

How many congressional budgets have seen science funding cut in favor of more "pressing" needs? Since Science, especially fundamental science, doesn't produce immediately measurable results, it is often the first sacrificed in government and business. Today's economy is built on short sighted goals (growth) whereas as science, especially fundamental scientific research (such as the Particle Accelerator project canceled in Texas in the 90s) produces longterm benefits and short term loses.

I am not saying that religious dogma doesn't at times restrict science, it certainly does. I'm just saying there are many dogma's that restrict science besides religion, and as aggressively. Political Dogma for instance (think dictatorships)can severely inhibit scientific progress.

Dogmas can also assist science and this includes religious dogmas as well. Religious groups tend to be charitable, which often provides funding for research for the eradication of diseases (yes, medicine is a science).

To reiterate a statement I've made many times again, religion and science are not mutually exclusive beliefs, they cover different aspects of humanity.

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#77
In reply to #73

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 2:41 PM

I agree that there are other non-religious forms of dogma. I am simply responding to the scope of this thread which seems (to me) to deal with the conflict between religious dogma and science. If someone wants to offer up some other type of dogma, say for example 'supply side' economic dogma, or American exceptionalism, I will be happy to respond to that as well.

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#83
In reply to #77

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:46 PM

That was not the scope of this thread as I saw it.

The original post associated Science with Atheism, an association I objected to on the grounds that Atheism is simply a belief system, like Catholicism or Buddhism. I argued that just because Atheists use scientific arguments doesn't mean scientists are atheists.

I then responded to a multitude of people who insisted that Atheism is not a faith based system with my detailed arguments basically stating that if you can't prove or disprove the existence of God with science than it is a belief system, no better or worse than religion.

Maybe I can help you see your bias here if I replace "religious" with "Jewish"
"The main conflict is between science and Jewish dogma"

And later "I agree that there are other non-Jewish forms of dogma. I am simply responding to the scope of this thread"

Certainly the statement above is true, but in only selecting "Jewish" dogma, I've expressed a bias by omission, just as you did by saying "religious" dogma.

Or lets try replacing "Religious" with Muslim
"The main conflict is between science and Muslim dogma"And later replied: "I agree that there are other non-Muslim forms of dogma. I am simply responding to the scope of this thread"

I apologize to any Jewish or Muslim people I may offend, I just find that we are generally more acutely aware of antisemitism than we are of anti-theism. Bias is subtle and I feel you are exhibiting an Anti-Religious bias. I don't think that makes you a bad person, quite the contrary, your engaging in this conversation makes it clear you care, but one can mean well and still be biased.

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#78
In reply to #72

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:13 PM

Ya science is cool you get to make it up as you go!

The interesting thing is evolution wouldn't pass peer review as being fact it is only an observance of possibilities with zero cognitive causality; start the proof by describing the beginning.

You can't prove an evolutionary beginning and no proof is there was none either, according to Roger Pink this is descriptive of a faith not science ...

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#81
In reply to #78

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:35 PM

Sigh ....... posts like these will soon raise again that age old issue of allowing "guests" to participate.

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#82
In reply to #81

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:39 PM

Ah maybe but guest makes a point, the pot calling the kettle black is no different in the context of the topic.

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#84
In reply to #78

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:55 PM

Evolution is fact. There is no question about that. The only question is the exact mechanisms, and to what degree they contributed.

Also, the world is over 4 billion years old, that's not up for debate either.

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#85
In reply to #78

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 4:05 PM

On the contrary; the theory of evolution is widely accepted by the scientific community not because scientists are blithering idiots and the Bible is really a cleverly disguised biology textbook. Evolution does, in fact, pass peer review as being fact, precisely because of the reason you have cited: there is no beginning described in the theory.

I don't know who built my house, but I know that the last owner painted it blue from its original white. My lack of insight into the original builder of my house does not prove that my house has always been blue, unchanged from its beginning. As a responsible scientist, I can only claim understanding of the change, not of the origin.

Darwin's seminal work described speciation, not the origin of life. If you look at the definitions of the word "evolution" none of them will address the source; rather, the word describes change from some original form. So the theory of evolution, then, is not incompatible with the theory of intelligent design/creation. Darwin himself supposed that God created one or a few species in the beginning which have since developed into the many species we have today.

Could you really take two of every species of animal in existence today and put them on a boat? Even on the largest ships there would not be space enough for two of every insect species, let alone mammals, reptiles, and birds. It is an established fact that many of the species that exist right now did not exist a few thousand years ago. that passes peer review as fact.

Biblical interpretation is cool. You can choose a particular understanding of the Bible, doggedly support it in direct contradiction of established facts, and make yourself (and by association any other believer in the divine) look like a complete buffoon.

Every time science and religion have met conflict, science is proven right and dogmatic interpretation of scripture was proven wrong. Consider the possibility that the Bible may be totally right, but your understanding of what you read may be totally wrong. Read it again with a new understanding of the universe God created, and you might find that there is no conflict after all.

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 4:13 PM

You Wrote: "Every time science and religion have met conflict, science is proven right and dogmatic interpretation of scripture was proven wrong. Consider the possibility that the Bible may be totally right, but your understanding of what you read may be totally wrong. Read it again with a new understanding of the universe God created, and you might find that there is no conflict after all."

Well said, I totally agree.

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#87
In reply to #85

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 5:08 PM

It is an established fact that many of the species that exist right now did not exist a few thousand years ago. that passes peer review as fact.

Very interesting, could you expand that please.

Every time science and religion have met conflict, science is proven right and dogmatic interpretation of scripture was proven wrong.

Possibly though conflict often is more destructive than any other result. I'm not interested in conflict, I don't find latitude of that sort expressed as a profitable conduct in the Bible nor does the Bible I read contain reference to all the animals of the earth being borne safely in an ark but it is written of certain animals being saved.

The Biblical beginning has I think been some what obscured by certain interpretations in a manner of a misapplication of language. The beginning described in Genesis is more of a change from what was to what is correct and what was is mysterious indeed. The earth was formless; not having the characteristics we are familiar with, darkness was over the surface of the deep; this isn't the ocean we think of in contrast the ocean as we know it wasn't manifested until verse 9.

I'm probably in deep enough for now to get considerable flap about it but it's the way of the things we know eh?

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#93
In reply to #87

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 6:15 PM

Very interesting, could you expand that please.

Happy to. One definition of a species (as I understand it; I'm not a biologist) is a community of organisms that form a single gene pool; that is, two distinct species are distinct from one another because they do not interbreed. (By that definition, two groups of animals separated by an impassable river are considered different species, even if their DNA would permit interbreeding.) Certain traits have been observed to run through a species that are unique to that species and no other; for example, fur color or predilection for a particular disease. These aren't necessarily make-or-break natural selection traits, but just traits that identify the species. So when you've got one group of chipmunks that have a single black stripe and another group that has a double black stripe, and they do not mate with each other in the wild, those are two distinct species.

There are millions of different species in existence today. Most of them are bacteria but not all. There are around 5000 species of mammal, 6000 species of amphibian, 9000 species of reptile, 10000 species of bird, and 900 thousand species of insect. In the time that humans have been engaged in biology as a science, we have watched species diversify again and again, particularly in microbiology.

nor does the Bible I read contain reference to all the animals of the earth being borne safely in an ark but it is written of certain animals being saved

Genesis 6:20 says exactly that--two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal. I don't see how it would be possible, expedient or necessary to preserve two of every species. With a boat having 101,250 square feet, and 45,000 animals, that would be an average of 2.25 square feet per animal. This includes not only the organism itself, but the food to keep that animal alive for a year, and many species are exclusively carnivorous.

What if the traditional interpretation of Genesis 6 is wrong? There is nothing in the Bible that says that every species in existence today was in existence 6000 or 8000 years ago. It just says that all the animals were created by God. Maybe God created, say, twenty or thirty different animals, and from those the myriad we have today have developed. Would that interpretation conflict with anything in the Bible?

If you are honestly interested in my personal views of evolution and intelligent design, I invite you to email me and I'd be happy to share my thoughts. Methinks this is getting a bit OT!

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#88
In reply to #85

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 5:12 PM

"Could you really take two of every species of animal in existence today and put them on a boat? Even on the largest ships there would not be space enough for two of every insect species, let alone mammals, reptiles, and birds. It is an established fact that many of the species that exist right now did not exist a few thousand years ago. that passes peer review as fact."

Have you really reflected at all about the above question? Every insect specie? Are you kidding? Did Noah install aquariums too?

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#90
In reply to #85

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 5:30 PM

Could you really take two of every species of animal in existence today and put them on a boat?

According to the Bible, Noah's Ark was a large barge constructed of wood and sealed with bitumen. Its overall dimensions were at least 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high with three interior decks. A "window" appeared to be constructed around the top (Genesis 6:14-16). Incidentally, the overall size of the Ark makes it the largest seagoing vessel known before the 20th century, and its proportions are amazingly similar to the large ocean liners of today.

Artist's conception of Noah's Ark based on biblical information and reported sightings on Mt. Ararat. Ergonomics not being what they are today: With more detail, God instructed Noah to take seven of every kind of clean animal, and two of every kind of unclean animal. Bible scholars have calculated that approximately 45,000 animals might have fit on the ark.

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#94
In reply to #90

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 6:26 PM

So Biblical scholars are logistics experts?

Do these same scholars have any insights into how much room the food & water for 45000 animals would take?

An average of 33.75 cubic feet per animal. A horse for instance eats around 1% on it's weight per day + several gallons of water. 40% of 1000 pounds is 400 pounds + at least 500 pounds of water, 90% of the weight of a horse to subsist for 40 days.

Maybe a biologist could speak to whether or not similar numbers could be expected as an average.

How big of a crew would be required to tend 45000 animals.

Why would creation & evolution be mutually exclusive?

Creation could take the form of biological uplifters, helping evolution along.

Why would the musing of biblical scholars be any more valid than my conjecture.

Evolution on the other hand at least has some shreds of evidence & a bit of logic to back it up.

A badly translated text written well after the fact, hardly constitutes evidence....

B a lot of times I think your wife is right

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#80
In reply to #72

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:26 PM

One of these effects is to promote attitudes of an anti-scientific nature, and an acceptance of pseudo-science.

Depends on one's view of junk science...

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 12:30 AM

Roger, this feels weird, I usually agree with what you say. But now I have to disagree.

Most western religions are all "soft and cuddly" now they've been neutered, they weren't always that way. In some other parts of the world, the religions are still a tad aggressive, their idea of harmony mean you do what God (via the head man) says.

Even the moral teachings of most religions are so vague as to be useless. Consider "Thou shall not kill" does that mean no killing for meat? No self defence? No armies? no motor racing? No letting kids starve in poor countries?

As for the statement that "there's no God" is being arrogant, which God are you referring to? How did you select that one? Perhaps you think that since you, personally, want to believe so much you must be right. Is that a bit arrogant?

You've got access to the net, a few nights reading about "Atheism" and rational thought would be educational.

I don't care if people believe in fairy stories, I don't want to convert you, but please leave out the accusations of arrogance.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 12:48 AM

Is out of context your forte?

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 2:04 AM

"Is out of context your forte?" Often.

The thread is a review of a book about the poor place science has in the USA, Roger comments about Religion and Science, I comment about his comment.

I think my rant was germane (as was Roger's).

If you disagree with what I said, argue against it.

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#15
In reply to #10

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 12:32 PM

Thank you, I agree with Roger's comment but was curious of your bent.

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#13
In reply to #9

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 9:33 AM

ffej was making a reasonable response to my comment. My comment was with respect to this excerpt from the post above:

The Great Desecration

Paul Zachary Myers, a University of Minnesota biology professor, provides a case in point. In 2008, "PZ" Myers asked readers of his popular Pharyngula blog to "score me some consecrated communion wafers" from a Catholic Church so that he could desecrate the Eucharist and post pictures of this "profound disrespect". Myers' example is an extreme one, but the authors of Unscientific America cite "a large number of 'New Atheist' voices" who contribute to this renewed tension between science and religion in America. Still, some of the most prominent names that the authors cite (e.g., Christopher Hitchens) are not those of scientists at all, but of journalists and other academics who write about science-related subjects.

Unscientific America's analysis may be overly broad here, but its conclusions are bold. "The American scientific community gains nothing from the condescending rhetoric of the New Atheists", Mooney and Kirshenbaum claim. "America is a very religious nation", they add, "and if forced to chose between faith and science, vast numbers of Americans will choose the former".

So no, nothing here is out of context in my opinion.

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#92
In reply to #13

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 6:08 PM

Hence my contributions to this particular thread.

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 9:29 AM

My point is, you can no more prove there isn't a god then there is a god. Atheism is a religion, no better or worse than Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Shintoism, Animalism, etc. Most religous adherents of the sects mentioned above (with some exceptions of course) are reasonable and accept their religon as a matter of faith. The majority of atheists I know are seemingly unaware that their belief system is based on faith as well. I don't believe atheists to be arrogant because the say "there is no god", I believe them to be arrogant because they seemed to believe this is self-evident to people of a certain intelligence level, not a matter of faith. As an atheist, have you ever asked yourself "how do I know there is no god?". It's faith, which as I said is fine, as long as you realize it. In no way superior to any other religion.

One thing I'd like to interject here. I do know a few atheists who aren't arrogant at all, who treat atheism like a religion, are respectful of other religions as alternative faiths, and aren't constantly proselytizing (another annoying habit of atheists they are seemingly unaware of), unfortunately my experience is this is the minority.

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#16
In reply to #12

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 3:06 PM

This comment seems to be at odds with your earlier post #11 stating that agnostics are just lazy. If neither the existence or non-existence of 'God' can be established, why do you think that making a choice is required?

I believe you are right to say that atheism is a religious belief. It accepts the basic premise that the existence or non-existence of a God is an important issue. To declare that you are a believer or not is to establish that you feel obligated to respond in some way to the rumors on the subject. It seems that the agnostics feel no pressure to respond to these rumors. This may not be a wise position socially, but it is honest and consistent with the (lack of) facts.

My sense of this is that many people feel obligated to accept the existence of religion because they see religion as the source of morality, and the rejection of religious belief feels to them like a rejection of morality. I think morality predates religion, and in fact predates humans. It is part of the DNA of all social animals. It is vital to social cohesion. The absence of or rejection of this inborn morality is destructive to the social unit (family, tribe, nation), and will generally be rewarded by extinction of the group.

You may be right in the sense that mortals are so flawed that they will ignore morality if it is not backed up by the authoritative word of God, and the threat of other-worldly punishment. Off-hand I can't think of an example of an agnostic society that has persisted for any length of time. But if that is the case, then asserting faith is not the honest answer. More fitting would be the 'nod and wink' that grownups use when telling children stories about Santa Claus. The Santa of stories, who circles the globe in 24 hours, visiting every home and delivering just the right gift to each child does not and cannot exist. But the idea of Santa, of selfless giving, and of understanding friends and family well enough to select the 'perfect' gift is real. God may or may not exist, but we should be careful not to confuse this question with the truthfulness or fallacy of the many 'God" stories in circulation.

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 4:01 PM

Post #11 was meant as a joke.

With respect to the rest of your post, I think your interpretation of religon may be an oversimplification, at least with regards to my own beliefs. I'll try to explain what I mean.

I don't think religon exists to perpetuate or enforce morality, though that is a side function certainly. It seems to me that religion is a fundamental instinct, perhaps derived as a result of our advanced problem solving skills as a species. When faced with unsolvable problems our instinct has been to invoke religon, a sort of stop gap so we aren't tortured by the thoughts "what happens after death" or "why does inequality exist". Questions that could otherwise preoccupy us to distraction.

What I'm saying is that we probably evolved as a species to be religious, thus to deny it seems unnatural. I believe in god because I prefer a god exists. Certainly one can come up with analytical reasons why god might not exist, but if such reasoning is counter to our instincts, and can't be proven, why bother? Atheism is interesting because God is replaced by mother nature, but still there is still doctrine and faith, so really it's the same thing as religon, serving the same need.

Agnostics just answer questions by saying "I don't know". Agnostics believe this to be an answer, a truth if you will, but just because you can't know for sure something exists, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The point of faith is that you must believe without proof, which can be comforting. Agnostics suggest that since something is unknowable, it isn't worth the commitment of faith and belief. That assumes faith isn't worthwhile if the object of the faith doesn't exists, which is a flawed premise, faith often being it's own reward filling the need our instinct has derived as a result of critical thinking.

Ultimately Agnosticism works for some because one way of handling the tough questions we are confronted with due to our highly developed analytical skills is to avoid them. As long as you can make this work, you are fine, it's as good an approach as any.

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#58
In reply to #18

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 8:26 AM

This idea that 'atheism' and 'agnosticism' are religions (in the same way Islam, christianity, and Hinduism are rligions) must itself be a religious belief since it requires faith as it is not supported with sound proof.

agnosticism and atheism never tell their 'adhearants' that they are unclean, dirty or unworrthy.

Agnosticism and atheism never tell the adhearants to make war upon those who do not believe the same.

There is no special place agnostics and atheists must go once per week to compare clothes with their neighbors.

There are no special chants to be uttered nor stories to be believed for agnostics or atheists.

If i asked you if you knew if there was a large blue diamond at the center of Neptune.... and you either said you didn't know or that you didn't think such a thing existed.... would that constitute a religion for you? of course not.

This idea that agnosticism and atheism are religions is just a further attempt to legitimize what cannot be legitimized. Agnostic' and 'atheist' shouldn't even be terms, anymore that 'asantacluasist' should be a term.

benbenben

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#59
In reply to #58

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 8:45 AM

It sounds as though you have developed a very narrow definition of God and then asserted that you do not believe any such being exists. You have selected the applications of religion by those belief systems you don't like, and have condemned all religious belief for those things.

There are people in this world who have committed rape and murder. That's why I will take the stand that all humans are criminally insane and should be exterminated. Sound like a good argument?

I also do not believe in the deity that you do not believe in. Does that make me an atheist? I go to church every week, so I don't think I'm an atheist.

But then, you don't seem to think you are an atheist either...you just don't believe in a divine power. If you don't like the moniker "atheist," fine. We will henceforth call you "a person adhering to a belief system formerly known as atheism." Come on, if you want to be distinguished in some way from us superstitious cretins, you're going to have to accept a reasonable "label."

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#61
In reply to #58

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 10:31 AM

You are mistaking your perception for reality.

The Lenin-Marxist interpretation of Communism was atheistic and also antireligious. This interpretation was adhered to by the Soviet Union. You suggest quite naively that Agnosticism and Atheism never tell the adherants to make war upon those who do not believe the same, but that is precisely what happened in the Soviet Union under the Bolshevicks.

http://russian-ukrainian-belarus-history.suite101.com/article.cfm/bolsheviks_and_the_orthodox_church

What you are expressing is bigotry

Bigotry - A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Agnosticism and Atheism are belief systems, they are belief systems because they can no more be proven than any religion. They are neither better nor worse than religion.

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#62
In reply to #61

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 10:36 AM

Aren't you mistaking Lenin-Marxist Communism for atheism?

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#63
In reply to #62

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 10:51 AM

No I'm not. I was responding to the comment:

"Agnosticism and atheism never tell the adherents to make war upon those who do not believe the same."

Communism's attacks on the Eastern Orthodox Church were justified by atheism Lenin was literally saying "we aren't going to tolerate these superstitions"

This is exactly the same as the crusades or jihads. For all of them you could argue that there were ulterior motives (money, power) that were justified with fanaticism in a belief system.

Again, if you can't prove something scientifically, then it's a belief that requires faith. I can't say it any clearer. When you believe that your "belief" is right and other "beliefs" are wrong that is fine, when you believe that your "belief" is right and other beliefs are inferior and must be eliminated for the good of mankind, then you are a bigot, by the very definition of the word.

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#64
In reply to #63

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:00 AM

Exactly.

You even say it in your response and I quote..."Communism's attacks on the Eastern Orthodox Church " Not Atheisms attack but communism's attack, and more specifically Lenin's communism.

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#65
In reply to #64

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:12 AM

How are you not getting this? One of the tenants of Lenin's Communism was Atheism. You can no more separate Atheism from Bolshevik Communism than you can the Catholic Church from the Holy Roman Empire, or Islam from the Islamic Republic of Iran. In all cases the particular belief system is mandated by the government. There is no separation of church and state.

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:21 AM

All elephants are grey but not everything that is grey is an elephant.

All communists may be atheists but not all atheists are communists, so please don't paint us all with Lenin's brush.

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#67
In reply to #66

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:30 AM

All communists may be atheists but not all atheists are communists, so please don't paint us all with Lenin's brush.

All Crusaders were Christians but not all Christians are Crusaders, so please don't paint us all with Pope Urban II's brush. All Islamic terrorists are devout Muslims, but not all devout Muslims are Islamic terrorists, so please don't paint us all with Usama bin Laden's brush.

You are the one who said "Agnosticism and atheism never tell the adherents to make war upon those who do not believe the same." Roger Pink simply gave a counterexample which demonstrated the error in that claim. It has happened, so your claim of "never" is incorrect.

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#69
In reply to #67

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:36 AM

Ummm, no I didn't. A guest said that in post 58

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#71
In reply to #69

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:37 AM

Maybe not, but your responses have been in response to my response to that post.

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#79
In reply to #71

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 3:23 PM

Ha-ha he's gotten mudded proxied

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#68
In reply to #66

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:35 AM

You Wrote:"All communists may be atheists but not all atheists are communists, so please don't paint us all with Lenin's brush."

I'm not. I was responding to the comment below which was being used to justify the poster's prejudice against organized religion:

"Agnosticism and atheism never tell the adherents to make war upon those who do not believe the same."

I merely was pointing out that the statement containing the word "never" isn't true, that some Atheists have done precisely that in the past.

My point, consistently through this entire thread, has been that Atheist, Agnostic, and Religious belief systems are no better or worse than each other. In all three there are extremists, moderates, and minimalists. I could not have been clearer about this point.

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#74
In reply to #68

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 12:40 PM

Now we're getting into subsets:

Communists are a subset of atheists

What about the subset of agnostics that are too stupid or lazy to have given any thought to these matters at all ?...

We as a group who think about such things could even name this subset, any members of this subset, would immediately join a different group [probably agnostic] upon recognizing their own membership in this as yet unnamed subset of the group agnostic.

And what of the subset who refuse to consider the nature [fingers in ears going la,la,la] of our existence [I believe I would rather not Know]

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#75
In reply to #74

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 12:47 PM

You Wrote:"Communists are a subset of atheists"

I disagree. There are in fact religious communists.

However one of the tenants of Bolshevik Communism was Atheism. If you were one, you were the other. You couldn't say "I'm a Christian Bolshevik Communist", it would be an oxymoron.

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#89
In reply to #75

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 5:18 PM

Citing an unreferenced Wiki article, isn't exactly over whelming...

Affiliating Bolsheviks with Buddhists & Amish, won't convince me atheists are warlike.

Hey no rebuttal to my main point.

agnostic may or may not be a belief system, depends on the context [doesn't everything?]

I would certainly agree that the real conflicts always start with rigid dogma.

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#91
In reply to #89

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 5:34 PM

I would certainly agree that the real conflicts always start with rigid dogma.

Things don't break if they will bend

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#98
In reply to #89

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 12:10 AM

I think you would agree that mankind is warlike, right? Since Atheists are a subset of mankind, are you suggesting that they are exceptional in that they are not warlike?

To be clear about what i'm saying, i'm suggesting they are no more or less warlike than the rest of mankind.

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#100
In reply to #98

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 11:24 AM

What about woman kind?

I would say most Bolshevik's could give two shits about ideology & were much more interested in being on the winning side & sucking up all the largess that provides.

There was a bit on Saturday night live that sums up a majority of the populations feelings about most things. Al Franken would turn & look straight into the camera:

"I bet you're wondering how this is going to affect me Al Franken?"

Most of the planet lives in or very close to this moment. What are the implications for them & their families right here & right now. How can they align themselves with who they perceive to be the winners.

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#101
In reply to #100

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 11:38 AM

Perspective has a ring to it...

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#102
In reply to #100

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 11:46 AM

I agree that that is how it is now in the U.S.. But the wealthy rarely go for ideologies, and make no mistake, the vast majority of Americans are wealthy by world standards.

But there are times in history when men come by and take your wife and daughters away, and the army comes and takes your food and land, conscripts you, and forces you to fight a war without equipment in the cold without clothes. In those times a man comes along and says the world isn't right and needs to be fixed, and what he says resonates so deeply with all of the pain and helplessness you've experienced that you are ready to do anything to make those words come true. Maybe the man speaks of religion, maybe of class warfare, maybe of taxation, it doesn't matter. You just don't want to feel helpless anymore.

So maybe you tie explosives around yourself and blow yourself up in the marketplace of your percieved oppressors. Or maybe you grab arms and fight your own government. Or maybe you grab rpgs and attack the foreign army on your soil. The point is you do something and it isn't because you just want to be on whichever side wins, it's because you're angry and want a little payback.

Now a man who isn't starving, who can feed his family, and doesn't fear they will be taken from him, this man will avoid war if he can and the ideologies that go with it, but unfortunately for us, much of the world doesn't have such liberties.

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#103
In reply to #102

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 12:00 PM

Quotably eloquent, sir. Well said.

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#70
In reply to #66

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/19/2009 11:36 AM

Roger did not say anything like you're implying. He had no brush in hand. Here is the original inaccurate statement made earlier in this thread:

"Agnosticism and atheism never tell the adherents to make war upon those who do not believe the same."

These particular "grey" atheistic communists WERE "grey elephants"

Plain, straightforward, easily understood.

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#104
In reply to #18

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 1:44 PM

Hi Roger

'What I'm saying is that we probably evolved as a species to be religious, thus to deny it seems unnatural.'

I pretty much agree with you on this. There was another post that refers to 'a God shaped hole' in all of us. Clearly if you look at the variety of peoples and cultures that exist today, and that have existed in the past, it is very hard to find any examples of human groups that do not have some kind of religion. Religion seems to be a solution to a near universal human need.

I also agree with your observation that for many of us, religion serves the purpose of providing answers to questions that (at least so far) are not provided by observation and rational thought. It provides 'patches' to fill the gaps in our knowledge. Beyond that, I think it serves the purpose of reminding us that we are really pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Hubris is one of the great weaknesses in our species. Religion can be a very poweful antidote.

So if I appear to be attacking religion in general, or Christian faith in particular, that is not really my intent. My concern is that many of the 'patches' developed in the past by religion to explain the unexplainable are now, due to advances in science, no longer necessary. Since the time when all the major religions of the world were founded, and their teachings were put down in writing, we have learned a great many things. We have learned through experiment and observation that lightning bolts are not weapons used by an angry god to punish specific individuals for their sins. We have learned that all living things were not created at the same time, but have instead evolved over a period of billions of years. We can be fairly certain based on geography,archeology, and history, that the ancient Israelites did not have contact with or knowledge of the existence of Australia or the western hemisphere, so there is very little possibility that Noah would have been able to round up kangaroos or giant sloths for his Ark-borne menagerie. We have learned that the earth is not flat but round (more or less), and that the center of the earth is not the Garden of Eden, but a mass of incredibly hot and probably lifeless minerals.

My beef is not with honest and thoughtful people for whom a belief in a God is a great source of comfort in bad times, a reminder that we should treat each other with with kindness and respect, that we should feel humbled by the majesty of the creation, and grateful for our chance to be a part of it during our brief stay. I understand that many of the great scientists and thinkers who have developed the theories that shape my view of the world (Darwin for example) struggled mightily with the conflict between their religious upbringing and their new and rigorous explanations of the natural world.

What ticks me off, and provides the motivation behind my posts, is that subset of religious folks (I'll call them fundamentalists - and most all religions have them) who are determined to preserve the old discredited 'patches'. I don't just think it is just an honest mistake for a 'religious leader' to assert that God sends hurricanes to punish Americans for being too nice to gay people, or because we treat women with more respect than they think is permitted under their belief system. I think this is just mean spirited bigotry, and have great difficulty accepting that they really believe this. There is a long and sad tradition of bigotry in our species, and it seems unlikely that some of the prejudices of the folks who wrote the bible didn't let some of that creep into their verses. I don't think it is wise public policy to insist that one part of one particular creation myth (Hebrew) be given equal weight in a science class to the massively peer-reviewed theory of evolution.

If we as a species survive long enough, I'm pretty sure that a thousand years from now we will look back on our current theory of evolution as being incomplete and over simplified, but if we are still using the scientific method that theory will have been modified, expanded, and fine tuned by the contributions of generations of scientists. I don't see any similar process at work for updating the Hebrew creation story.

You may be right that to deny religion is unnatural. Maybe in my case it is just that in spite of my parents' and grandparents' efforts (and all those kindly nuns), religion never really clicked for me. A friend once told me (quoting someone else) that there are three kinds of people: those who think everything is just fine, those who see that something is wrong, and those with the vision to see what the problem is and what to do about it. For now I'm pretty content being in the second group. I think it is natural for a mammal to have an incomplete view of the world.

Well - back to work.

John

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#105
In reply to #104

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 2:42 PM

I pretty much agree with everything you said.

When I said "You may be right that to deny religion is unnatural." what I was trying to say was asking people who need it to deny religion doesn't work because it's unnatural. There is nothing unnatural about an Atheist, each person finds the way that works for them. I worry when extremists, be them religious, atheist, or whatever tries to impose what works for them on others, not recognizing that people are different and need different things.

The way I see it, given a room of people, you will have extremists, moderates, and minimalists on every subject you can think of. A gaussian distribution if you will. Religious extremists are not a product of their doctrine, they are a product of statistics, which makes them no different from atheist extremists, political extremists, etc.

In the end I suspect we pretty much believe the same things, and are aggravated by the same stuff, you're not alone in your frustration regarding literal interpretation of sacred texts, but hopefully you know that about me already.

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#106
In reply to #105

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 3:11 PM

I agree Roger, there is nothing unnatural about an Atheist. 1 Cor 2:14

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#107
In reply to #106

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 3:17 PM

Bullseye

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#108
In reply to #106

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 3:45 PM

That was very interesting... Since it has been over 50 years since I read (some of) the Bible, I had to look it up. I started to reach for a Bible, but then figured it would be faster to Google "1 Cor 2:14". I only read the first 5 or 6 translations that showed up, but what an excellent illustration of how many different ways the same text can be translated...

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#109
In reply to #108

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 4:07 PM

Agreed. I prefer this translation:

"A person who isn't spiritual doesn't accept the things of God's Spirit, for they are nonsense to him. He can't understand them because they are spiritually evaluated."

Basically I would read this as "a person who by nature isn't spiritual doesn't accept God's spirit because it is not in his nature to need it"

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#112
In reply to #109

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 4:21 PM

Or maybe something like 'a spiritual nature can accept the creator's spirit, either as manifest in the teachings of man or in the creation itself.'

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#118
In reply to #109

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 8:47 PM

I consider your opinion as the scriptural definition applies.

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#110
In reply to #108

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 4:08 PM

John 14:6, this one is pretty consistent when comparing translations.

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#111
In reply to #110

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 4:19 PM

Yes, the verse reads "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

That is written in the bible, this is also:

Luke 18:9-14

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

You and I should worry less what the bible says about atheists and more about what the bible says about us.

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#113
In reply to #111

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 4:37 PM

Is this your "theology" at work Roger, firing a subtle rebuke my way? You think I'm the Pharisee, you really don't have a clue.

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#115
In reply to #113

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 6:17 PM

I'm just suggesting that as Christians we should be more worried about how we are failing god than how others are. Quoting verses to tell Atheists they are damned is a form of pride in my opinion, which is not the path to God as I understand the New Testament.

But this is religion, not science, so your opinion is as valid as mine as far as can be proven.

I think this thread has stopped being interesting and is starting to become stale so, being a bit of a lightning rod, I'll say adieu and maybe others can take it in a more useful direction.

I've enjoyed the theological debate.

Roger

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#116
In reply to #115

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 7:01 PM

Most regrettable Roger. I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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#117
In reply to #115

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 8:04 PM

Roger,

I understand that you are an individual who likes people to be above board, candid, not putting on airs or putting on a show, I have read enough of your responses to others on CR4 who are disingenuous at times to somewhat understand what gets under your skin. I have a sober understanding of who I am as a Christian. My motive, whenever I bring the scriptures to bear within a conversation with an Atheist or another Christian, is their good and God's glory. Someone who has not opened the Bible in decades may just be struck with how central Jesus really is when looking at John 14:6.

Now you may categorize me as an "extreme Christian", but I actually believe that the Word of God is living and that there really is a third person in the Trinity who is real and does a supernatural work in human hearts. I'm a supernaturalist, all true Christians are or as Paul says, "...if Christ be not raised your faith is worthless, you are still in your sins."

Numerous times within this thread you have indicated that whatever religious or non-religious experience works for an individual is good enough, as long as they get some kind of peace out of it. You've even indicated that you yourself prefer to believe in god because of mankind's religious instinct throughout history. But you only think that because you think there is some unconditional deserved benevolence required by this god. What if Psalm 50:22 is true. You can't just make up the god of your choosing or it's simply self-deception.

This Christ Jesus found in the Scriptures, historical, verifiable, he is the Savior who found me. By His grace I believe Him, I love Him. Do you love Him? John 6:66-69

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#121
In reply to #117

Unscientific Christians

10/20/2009 11:29 PM

This Christ Jesus found in the Scriptures, historical, verifiable, he is the Savior who found me. By His grace I believe Him, I love Him. Do you love Him? John 6:66-69

Verifiable

Really!

You can't just make up the god of your choosing or it's simply self-deception.

Apparently you can...

Repeating something as if it were fact, doesn't doesn't prove your point, nor does endlessly asserting the supremacy of your opinion.

Extremist dogma anyone?

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#123
In reply to #121

Re: Unscientific Christians

10/21/2009 12:09 AM

Garthh,

My response was directly addressed to Roger, spoken within a Christian context, disclosing my personal experience. In other words, I'm taking the letters in red at face value when discussing this WITH Roger. This was not meant as a Christian apologetic carte blanche.

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#125
In reply to #123

Unscientific

10/21/2009 10:35 AM

This is a public forum.

There is a private message system.

You wrote:

This Christ Jesus found in the Scriptures, historical, verifiable, he is the Savior who found me. By His grace I believe Him, I love Him. Do you love Him? John 6:66-69

Quoting a bad translation of a book written a few centuries after the fact as verifiable history?

Now you get all butt hurt and tell me you weren't talking to me.

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#126
In reply to #125

Re: Unscientific

10/21/2009 11:22 AM

I understand it's a public forum, but there was a context to my words. When I'm having a dialogue with another professing Christian that I don't know well there is always the question about how Scripture is viewed by that individual. The reason for my historical, verifiable comments has to do with internal Biblical evidence, ie the geneologies, eye witnesses to Christ's resurrection, etc. which usually can be a workable starting point between two professing Christians.

I'm not "butt hurt", however you are correct, it was specifically directed to this comment by Roger, "I'm just suggesting that as Christians we should.."

"Quoting a bad translation of a book written a few centuries after the fact as verifiable history?"

You should check the scholarly concensus about the dating of the Book of John. Even most critical scholars date it at between c90-100 although some more conservative scholars believe a date before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem has credible internal evidence with the book to support such a date.

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#142
In reply to #126

Re: Unscientific

10/21/2009 7:04 PM

You should check the scholarly concensus about the dating of the Book of John. Even most critical scholars date it at between c90-100 although some more conservative scholars believe a date before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem has credible internal evidence with the book to support such a date.

Please do point these scholars out.

You claim only christians may take part in this particular fiber of the thread?

Would Citing the bible as a factually accurate historical document stand up to rigorous critique, such as the normal scientific peer review process?

I have no objection to any religion or any document you or anyone else may choose to follow.

My objection is to assertion of supremacy of your faith as if it were fact.

Are there any rules we as a society need to follow that can't be summed up by:

Don't kill

Don't steal

Which can actually be further summed up as:

Treat others as you would be treated.

Anyone?

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#144
In reply to #142

Re: Unscientific

10/21/2009 7:56 PM

From two minutes of google.

Please see this site http://www.y-jesus.com/bornid_article.html, at the end of the article he lists his sources (not just religious but secular as well).

Here are a few paragraphs:

One of antiquity's greatest historians, Cornelius Tacitus, affirmed that Jesus had suffered under Pilate. Tacitus was born around 25 years after Jesus died, and he had seen the spread of Christianity begin to impact Rome. The Roman historian wrote negatively of Christ and Christians, identifying them in a.d. 115 as "a race of men detested for their evil practices, and commonly called Chrestiani. The name was derived from Chrestus, who, in the reign of Tiberius, suffered under Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea."8

And regarding relying on non-eyewitness accounts of historical figures:

The historicity of Alexander the Great and his military conquests is drawn from five ancient sources, none of whom were eyewitnesses. Although written 400 years after Alexander, Plutarch's Life of Alexander is the primary account of his life.

Since Plutarch and the other writers were several hundred years removed from the events of Alexander's life, they based their information on prior accounts. Of the twenty contemporary historical accounts on Alexander, not one survives. Later accounts exist, but each presents a different "Alexander," with much left to our imagination. But regardless of the time gap of several hundred years, historians are convinced that Alexander was a real man and that the essential details of what we read about his life are true.

Keeping Alexander as a reference point, we'll note that for Jesus there are both religious and secular historical accounts. But we must ask the question, were they written by reliable and objective historians?

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#146
In reply to #144

Re: Unscientific

10/21/2009 8:30 PM

I never disputed the existence of jesus.

I did call into question of the use of the bible as a verifiable, accurate historical document.

I can do a search, It's not my job to make Tesla Fan's case.

The link you provided, certainly doesn't nothing in that regard.

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#147
In reply to #142

Re: Unscientific

10/21/2009 9:23 PM

Please do point these scholars out

Here is a very short list:

F.F. Bruce; Dr. Gary Habermas; Prof. Bruce M. Metzger; Dr. Merrill F. Unger; Sir William Mitchell Ramsay; Prof. Richard B. Hayes; N.T. Wright; Gordon Fee; James D.G. Dunn; Prof. Richard Bauckham; Darrell L. Bock; D.A. Carson; Bart D. Ehrman; Dr. Craig A. Evans; Prof. Larry Hurtad; I. Howard Marshall

You claim only Christians may take part in this particular fiber of the thread?

Sorry, I have made no such claim in any of my posts and everyone that has read them knows that. I am allowed to address a comment to one particular individual ie Roger. If you want to comment, no problem, just don't murder the context.

Would Citing the bible as a factually accurate historical document stand up to rigorous critique, such as the normal scientific peer review process?

It has

My objection is to assertion of supremacy of your faith as if it were fact.

The Christian message is one of declaring exclusive supremacy whether I exist or not. Do you think I should start with asserting the supremacy of yours? I don't think I'm up to standing on your illusionary plot of neutral ground. That would make me a double minded man.

Are there any rules we as a society need to follow that can't be summed up by:

If you think that reducing Christianity to a simplistic idea of a list of commandments is legitimate, I don't know where to begin.

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#114
In reply to #111

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 5:33 PM

You and I should worry less what the bible says about atheists and more about what the bible says about us.

"...if we believe on him that raised up Jesus from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" Romans iv, 23-25.

This is an evangelical presentation of the fact showing its value to us individually and then showing its final effect on the world. In the above the idea is for mankind to attain a state of grace through the Christian faith. I believe This idea of resurrection/rebirth predominates in most of the great religions and faiths.

"..for as by one mans' disobedience to the law many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" or do we continue in sin so that grace may abound?

I believe this is the beginning/triumph of Christian ethics by imputing the idea of honour.

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#120
In reply to #114

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 9:17 PM

Accordingly...

Romans 3:20-26 (New International Version)

20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Righteousness Through Faith

21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

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#124
In reply to #120

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/21/2009 5:07 AM

Rom. xi,II; "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come"

and thusly the pagans began converting...........the trick was to get them to convert.

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#130
In reply to #124

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/21/2009 1:43 PM

Rom. xi,II; "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come"

Extremely easy to misunderstand also to be taken out of context.

Not trick — understanding

Sola fide (Latin: by faith alone), also historically known as the doctrine of justification by faith, is a controversial doctrine that distinguishes most Protestant denominations from Catholicism, Eastern Christianity, and most Restorationists in Christianity.

The doctrine of sola fide or "by faith alone" asserts God's pardon for guilty sinners is granted to and received through faith or belief alone, to the exclusion of all human efforts or works. All humanity, it is asserted, is fallen and sinful, under the curse of God, and incapable of saving itself from God's wrath and curse.
But God, on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ alone (solus Christus), grants sinners judicial pardon, or justification, which is received solely through faith. Faith is seen as passive, merely receiving Christ and all his benefits, among which benefits are the active and passive righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christ's righteousness is imputed (or accounted) by God to the believing sinner (as opposed to infused or imparted), so that the divine verdict and pardon of the believing sinner is based not upon anything in the sinner, nor even faith itself, but upon Jesus Christ and his righteousness alone, which are received through faith alone. Justification is by faith alone and is distinguished from the other graces of salvation.

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#132
In reply to #130

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/21/2009 2:02 PM

Understanding the pagans you mean? As if having once been one or one amongst them and now are apostle to them? Then yes, 'trick' is indeed a poorly chosen word on my behalf.

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#137
In reply to #132

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/21/2009 3:11 PM

With so many to choose from it's bound to happen

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#119
In reply to #111

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/20/2009 8:50 PM

You and I should worry less what the bible says about atheists and more about what the bible says about us.

If you're being honest much of your previous assertion will be altered.

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#122
In reply to #104

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/21/2009 12:05 AM

Just a question? What is difference between Religion, and the belief in a Spiritual Plane? If one experiences extraordinary "feelings", like I do when listening to my wife playing her flute, or going to the Disney Hall, and hearing everything from Los Lobos, to great symphonic Orchestras, or catching a great wave when I surf, seeing a sunset, the feelings I had when I watched my daughter being born, and was the first to hold her and show her to her Mom, the feelings of losing my Parents, and Grandparents- The euphoria of watching an apprentice finally "get it" and understand his problem and work it out,on his own -are all of these "feelings" just brainwaves?? I would rather say that these are Spiritual events in my life, although they do not have to be of Religious significance. Meaning that they are common to all men (women), and do not need a particular significance to label them. I am not of Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Eastern or Western Religions--I am a Spiritual Being, and recognize, for myself , that there is more to life than the material plane---If you think that music is all mathematical , that everyone is equal in playing those same notes , and have never cried while hearing some of the most lovely music ever written , cried when being at a wake for someone loved in the past, had the hair on the back of your neck go up for whatever reason, looked into the eyes of an animal who loved you, watched life come into spring after a harsh winter, than I feel that you are missing a large part of life, if not, the most important part of life...I am not saying that you do experience these things, but I do find that many Atheists (many of which are my friends, and good ones, are at a lost to explain their feelings of the above--C-MAC

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#20
In reply to #12

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 6:15 PM

Most of us don't believe in Fairies either (because there's no proof we deem reasonable or compelling).

Are you saying belief in Fairies is reasonable, if it satisfies some deep yearning?

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 8:45 PM

You do realize fairies were part of a celtic religious tradition that lasted 1000s of years right? Are angels so different from fairies? Is a god so different from angels? Please don't use the frail human interpretations of god as a means to discredit him (or her, or it, or us, or whatever). For thousands of years, fairies were used by religion to answer unanswerable questions and people took comfort in that.

If religion isn't essential to the human condition, why has there never been a time in the long history of man, often separated by oceans and deserts in ancient times, where a culture has existed without religon? Every culture that ever existed had religion and art. No one questions that art is an instinctual act for man, is it so surprising religon is too? Whether God exists or not is irrelevent, what is indisputably clear is that mankind needs Gods, or at the very least religons.

But you don't have to take my word for it if you want. What I'm saying is basically a modernized version of Pascal's Wager:

If you read that rather lengthy page and understood it you can hear it's echo in what I'm saying here.

Look, I'm not trying to convince you not to be an agnostic (if you even are one), each person finds their own way, I'm just letting you know that religon is much more sophisticated than the modern world likes to pretend.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 9:33 PM

There's definitely a "God shaped hole" in us all, the question is whether that means there is a God or whether the "hole" all there is.

The Atheists I know (including myself) came to their position from a religious background after considerable study and inner anguish, it wasn't easy for them to turn away from their original beliefs, they did it because logic made them.

I suspect that most people don't care about this topic. But those that do, on both sides, find it all fascinating. Thanks for the discussion.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 9:49 PM

My wife told me that I think too highly of my own opinion and as a test I should poke my finger in a cup of water then pull it out, if a hole isn't left behind I'm just not that important after all

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/14/2009 10:43 PM

"God Shaped Hole"

-That's poetic and really captures what I was trying to say, I'll probably use that in the future, thanks.

Good discussion, see you around.

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#41
In reply to #24

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/16/2009 9:51 AM

"God Shaped Hole" , that existential anguish is described by St.Augustine:'You have formed us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you'.

It's been pleasantly refreshing morning read (this discussion).

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#29
In reply to #22

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/15/2009 12:47 PM

"...they did it because logic made them."

You give the indication that conceptual realities called logic can be accounted for in an atheistic worldview consisting of matter, energy and motion. Any supposed "logical" argument raised against the existence of God (I am that I am) is further evidence that atheists cannot sustain a consistent argument within the parameters of their own worldview.

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#33
In reply to #21

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/15/2009 11:40 PM

Do we have a history of Civilizations , their length of existence, and the relation of this existence in relation to their beliefs? Do we know if certain civilizations existed longer, were more civil, had less wars, more wars, etc. , based on whether or not they were "faith" based (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, Egyptian, Agnostic, Pagan ) etc.? I do find that certain religions do not start wars, but are often the beneficiaries of those that protect them in time of war. Just a question, and an observation..C-MAC

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#35
In reply to #33

Re: Unscientific America: Different Rifts, Still Divided

10/16/2009 12:21 AM

You Wrote:"Do we have a history of Civilizations , their length of existence, and the relation of this existence in relation to their beliefs? Do we know if certain civilizations existed longer, were more civil, had less wars, more wars, etc. , based on whether or not they were "faith" based (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, Egyptian, Agnostic, Pagan ) etc.? I do find that certain religions do not start wars, but are often the beneficiaries of those that protect them in time of war.

No, and that second bit is nonsense.

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