Losing Patience with Christianity

Losing Patience with Christianity April 25, 2018
Courtesy of Pixabay

People far and wide are losing patience with the Christian church. And so they are leaving her. In droves. And I don’t blame them. Not one bit. It has become a tired religion. And it’s a tiring religion. It kicks your ass, makes you feel like a loathsome spider, and then sends you packing the moment you step out of line.

That’s been my experience anyway.

Now, to be clear, in spite of this harsh criticism, I will gladly admit that there are many wonderful Christians out there. I’m friends with a lot of them. I even consider myself one. But, if I may be so bold, the religion we’ve built has become a monster, so full of law and wrath and judgement that I doubt either Jesus or Paul would recognize it. And if they did, I’m guessing they’d both weep bitterly with what we’ve done to the hopeful message of grace and peace.

Because, you see, all we seem to get these days is condemnation. All we hear about God is how pissed off he is. He’s gonna get you for this, he’s gonna get you for that. We rarely (if ever?) hear about how much God loves us. We rarely (if ever?) tell non-believers that Jesus loves them so much that he emptied himself for them while they were yet sinners. No. It’s always embedded in some economy of exchange. It’s always qualified—either explicitly or otherwise—with something like, “And if you don’t love him back, you’re dead meat!”

But that’s not love.

That’s not grace.

That’s not the Gospel.

And that’s why I’m losing patience with this thing we call Christianity. It’s got too much law. It’s got too many holiness codes. It’s too zealous. It’s too “us vs. them,” so much so that other Christians are all too often a “them.” Need I remind folks how many thousands of denominations there currently are? What a joke!

In spite of this, I still love Jesus. I still love the idea of Christianity. Not a Christianity built upon the altar of sacrifice, not one built upon a divine being that is more like Zeus than Jesus, not a Christianity who beats the drums of war, or who denounces gay folks simply for being gay; but a Christianity that is known by one thing and one thing only—love.

Without love we are but a clanging gong. The Apostle Paul said that. Sadly, though, it’s exactly what we’ve become. We clamor on and on about our supposed correct doctrines, our supposed biblical truths, our supposed orthodoxy, all the while failing to love others as ourselves. And then we have the nerve to condemn those who walk away from us and our message.

Guess what though? The times are changing. The Gospel of peace is breaking out. In spite of all the religious nonsense we’ve laden the good news with, the reality of what has already been done for the entire world is being grasped by one person at a time. The good news of grace is liberating one soul at a time.

But many within Christendom cannot accept it. Maybe some will even be the last ones to accept it. It’s sad, but it may be true. We just need our hell. We need our wrath. We need our sacrificial and highly limited atonement. We need our hierarchy. We need our ability to dole out judgment. In other words, we need the status quo.

I get it though. I get why we opt for these things. It’s far easier to hold fast to the things we’ve grown accustomed to than to step out into the desert of doubt. It’s far easier to stick to what we know than to trust the process of growing up.

One way or another, however, we have to grow up. Either that, or we die like some root-bound plant desperate to stretch out its legs. So, I guess my question is this: Will we grow? Will we take the risk of planting our roots deep into God’s green earth? We owe ourselves—and the world—this much, don’t we?

I believe so.

So I’ll do my best to continue to grow. And, in spite of my seasons of cynicism, I’m optimistic the church will do the same. I’ve seen glimmers of hope so I’ll continue to push on. My patience may be wearing thin, but that’s okay. I’m sure others will continue to come along for the journey and help keep me going. I hope so, anyway.

Until next time.

About
Matthew J. Distefano is the author of four books, including the recently released "Heretic!: An LGBTQ-Affirming, Divine-Violence Denying, Christian Universalist's Responses to Some of Evangelical Christianity's Most Pressing Concerns," out now on Quoir Publishing. He is married, has one daughter, and likes to spend his free time hiking, gardening, and cooking. You can read more about the author here.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • WisdomLover

    There is no Gospel without the Law, there is no grace without justice.

    Our society is growing ‘tired’ of Christianity because it won’t acknowledge what Christianity teaches: that we are all condemned under the Law…that justice is that we all suffer the wrath of God for as long as we keep sinning.

    We have to admit that first.

  • Meh, you can keep your angry God.

  • WisdomLover

    Yes, My God is angry…and justly so. I’m as blasé as you are about some milquetoast heavenly grandpa of a god.

    So what’s the good news again?

    I take it to be the fact that my angry God took the wrath upon Himself and made me His son.

    Heavenly grandpa doesn’t really care, so there’s really no good news.

  • Chad Hoelzel

    An angry God, is a human attribute (one of the worst ones) projected upon God. Of course God is angry…. the gods have always been angry. That is why they required the sacrifice of a son to appease them… oh wait that was god sacrificing himself to himself.

  • Heavenly grandpa? Lol! Hey, just make sure to tell your God to roast me low and slow. Don’t want the meat to be overdone and dried out in his oh so holy underground barbecue.

  • God took his own wrath upon himself so he can spare us from his own wrath…yeah, sounds legit.

  • WisdomLover

    God isn’t going to roast you or pour His wrath out upon you. Jesus bore that punishment.

    Don’t you see that that’s the point of substitution/satisfaction?

    The trouble hellions run into isn’t from God, it’s their own ongoing sin.

  • WisdomLover

    A judge (who is also the lawgiver and the wronged party in the crime) cannot pay a lawbreaker’s fine?

    Why is that illegitimate?

  • Oh no, it’s totally legit. I mean, whenever my daughter screws up, I just beat myself up and then if she accepts my ass kicking, she unlocks my forgiveness. It works wonderfully.

  • Oh, good, the Father had Jesus murdered so he wouldn’t have to do it to me. Glory be!

  • WisdomLover

    When your daughter screws up, you are not, and no human ever is, the wronged party.

    Because of that, you are not, and no mere human ever is, in any position to accept any punishment she deserves.

    It’s not surprising that when we put a broken old sinner into the place of God in an analogy, that the analogy will often end in absurdity.

  • We don’t wrong each other? Good to know.

  • And why do we deserve punishment? Let me guess, because the Bible says…

  • Matthew

    I think some key issues here are that of literalism, innerancy, and poor interpretive skills.
    Unless these topics are discussed, addressed and widely reformed in the church,
    I´m afraid we´ll still see much of the same. 🙁

  • I’m afraid you are correct.

  • WisdomLover

    Because we wrong God.

    Note…I didn’t say that we don’t harm each other. Nor do I say that harming another person isn’t wrong.

    But the wrong is against God. Were it just a matter of the harm we do to each other, it would be a trivial matter for God to heal it as if it had never happened.

  • WisdomLover

    As if the punishment amounted to nothing more than Jesus getting murdered.

    And why not say instead that God Himself bore the punishment the His justice requires.

    It isn’t as though God the Father just picked some poor b@$+@rd to pour out His wrath upon. Jesus is as fully God as the Father is.

  • WisdomLover

    Why is anger the worst human attribute?

    It makes no sense for there to even be a worst human attribute…if what you mean is a human emotion like anger, hate, jealousy or love. Every emotion serves a proper purpose.

  • Justice? That is Justice? Sick.

  • And God simply couldn’t forgive, he had to have blood, have death, have a grotesque torture? Yikes.

  • WisdomLover

    No. It isn’t only justice. It’s also grace.

    You are again, putting a sinner in the place of God in your thinking. As if you or I executed some person to satisfy our rage.

    Suffice it to say, that’s not what it’s like. It’s more like the payment of a debt by the very person to whom the debt is owed.

  • WisdomLover

    Sure, He could simply forgive, as long as He doesn’t care about justice.

  • It’s a presupposed and might I say, perverted sense of justice.

  • Vengeance, you mean. Retribution, you mean. Of course it couldn’t be restorative justice. No. It couldn’t be that.

  • Chad Hoelzel

    I’ve never loved someone to death. By definition love doesn’t kill…. anger does.

  • WisdomLover

    If you mean the emotion of love, don’t make me laugh. Love kills all the time.

    If by “Love” you refer to the practice of love, then not as much…though I doubt that it is true that love never kills. For one thing, one can kill one person because one is practicing love toward another.

  • WisdomLover

    Well, this just goes to show another aspect of the whole tableau to be true. We have nothing in us that’s says “yes” to God and the offense of the Cross. We have to be dragged to it by God Himself.

    We just can’t resist putting ourselves into the picture where God belongs. It is not for us to decide what justice required for our sin. We don’t know enough for that.

  • WisdomLover

    How do you know that the justice isn’t restorative? Because it doesn’t seem that way to you?

    Wouldn’t we have to say first what belongs to whom by right in order to talk about restoring anything to the just distribution?

    The problem is that everything is owed to God, and we’re not in a position to give Him anything and never will be as long as our unpayable debt stands between us.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    I grew up in a non-religious violent household. As early as I can remember I took the dusty family bible off the shelf, and saw what my heart told me to look for – LOVE. If there was supposed to be some justice for what my parents or siblings did, it was not to come from me. The message that God told me they needed was LOVE, and that was what I gave, without complaint, with compassion.

    I begged my parents to send me to Catholic H.S. and there I met the nuns who taught me what unconditional love, and showed me what Jesus was, and what I was commanded to be and do. LOVE. These nuns sacrificed their loves to teach us and and be of service to the school and the hospital.

    They taught me that action was the way to win the hearts of others and bring them to Christ – not judgment or condemnation. The Holy Spirit would convict them. And God would perhaps judge them, or his grace would cover any and all of their sins.

    That’s been my plan and I’m sticking to it.

    We humans have one job – LOVE GOD and LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS.

    And all this quibbling amongst yourself, as seen below, I know there is a verse against that in the bible somewhere. Oh yeah, a quick google found over twenty https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/quarreling-bible-verses/

    2 Timothy 2:23-24
    23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

  • Love kills? Oh my, what an asinine thing to say.

  • More economies of exchange…sigh

  • Chad Hoelzel

    If love kills it is only love of self… which is not true love.

  • Guy Norred

    The good news is that we are loved. Do you not see how radical a concept this in and of itself truly was when Jesus first came to preach it–in word and in in action?

  • WisdomLover

    Yes. It is radical…my angry God loves me.

  • WisdomLover

    Yes, yes, very assinine. If I kill the man who’s about to rape and murder my daughter…that can’t be love. No that’s just assinine!

  • Guy Norred

    Why is God angry at you?

  • Ah, the old, tired argument that never goes away. You do realize that you can protect others without dealing death, right?

  • Probably because we are all wretched worms.

  • WisdomLover

    Because of our sin.

  • WisdomLover

    Sighing back at ya…I’m certain that the arguments against my misguided ‘economy’ of exchange will turn on the error of placing a limited being, like you or me, in the place of God in the exchange.

  • WisdomLover

    “You do realize that you can protect others without dealing death, right?”

    And you realize that sometimes you can’t, right? And in those cases at least, love kills. Assinine though that may seem to you.

  • Guy Norred

    When did He first become angry with you?

  • WisdomLover

    When I sinned in Adam.

  • Guy Norred

    So God was angry with you from your creation?

  • WisdomLover

    In sin did my mother conceive me.

  • It’s a shame we tend to start our thinking with Genesis 3, rather than Genesis 1. It’s always a starting place of sin, rather than a starting place that says humanity is 1) made in the image of God, and B) tov tov. Protestants the world over would do well to start digesting some Franciscan theology.

  • I think the original point being made vis a vis love is that because God is love, then God isn’t a killer. If you want to refute that with the example you used, that it is a loving act to kill another in order to stop a rape, be prepared to also answer the question “Then why isn’t God killing folks in order to stop rapes, to stop murders, to stop children from getting cancer?”

  • But it’s for you to tell me what that justice is? Sounds like typical Calvinist tripe. Forgive me if it’s not, I’ve just heard that same thing from all my Calvinist friends. They will tell me I’m thinking as a human, and then proceed to tell me how God thinks. Um, pardon me for not quite understanding why I can’t turn around and say to you the same exact things you are saying to me.

  • KingstonJack

    It seems to me that there are two broad streams to Christianity: one is Creation and Incarnation, and the other is Sin and Redemption. We find both of these strands running throughout the bible, and we find ourselves responding to one or the other. I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible to hold both in tension, but that we are naturally drawn to one and will always preference it over the other. In these comments, it’s incredibly clear how some preference the Sin and Redemption narrative, to the extent of denying Creation and Incarnation. When Sin and Redemption are the focus, then God is always angry and can never, ever be satisfied. There is always some other sin that has to be judged, and the sinner has to earn God’s forgiveness. In other words, justification by works – the work of confession. It’s easy to see how the evangelical/pentecostal church focusses almost exclusively on the sinfulness of humanity, including the absolute rubbish of original sin – a doctrine dreamt up Augustine and with no foundation in biblical theology. In this strand, there can be no such thing as unconditional love; the notion of agape simply cannot be embraced because God always demands payment. Always.

    On the other hand, focussing on Creation and Incarnation allows Christians to embrace the goodness of God. God is not only good but also makes all of us in the image of God – male/female, black/white, rich/poor, heterosexual/other, Christian/non-Christian. Incarnation then places the good God in our midst, and allows our brokenness (rather than sinfulness) to be embraced as God is also broken. In this narrative, Penal Substitutionary Atonement is recognised as the nonsense it is. God is the victim not the executioner.

    The two strands of thinking – Sin/Redemption and Creation/Incarnation – are entwined throughout the bible. I believe we need to untangle these threads and see them for what they are. One is a revelation of the Divine, the other is the attribution to God of human vengefulness dressed up as justice. I know which strand I believe in.

  • WisdomLover

    God kills everyone.

    Or who else is it that sentenced us and the entire universe to death on account of our sin in Adam?

    And, btw, that was because He loves us. Because, you see, Hell = (Sin + Eternity) – Death.

    Hell isn’t God’s wrath, it’s God allowing sinners to live on forever and continue in sin without the release of death.

    Death is a mercy that does not allow earth to become Hell.

  • Well God is just so dandy, ain’t he? He kills everyone. And then he allows them to burn forever in a torture chamber that he, by definition, must be present in. How quaint.

  • Chad Hoelzel

    I was a member of a church for 30 years that focused on sin and redemption. It left me wanting. Now I’m a Jesus follower and creation/incarnation is like music to the soul

  • Chad Hoelzel

    God and Hitler must be buddies

  • WisdomLover

    A. I’m not a Calvinist.

    B. I’m not telling you what justice is. I am simply not presuming to judge God for His deeds.

    C. I’m not saying that human beings can’t muddle along with some form of justice suitable for a limited, fallen and condemned race.

    Human justice probably involves some activity of minimizing harms and maximizing happiness (as both harms and happiness can be foreseen by our limited intellects and perceptions). This activity is probably tempered in some way by a few rules or rights that always apply no matter what.

    While there my be some resemblance or analog in the case of God I wouldn’t count on notions of human justice to apply across the board to Him.

  • Guy Norred

    So God is angry with you for something over which you had no control? If I were angry at someone for a similar reason it would be I who was in the wrong.

  • WisdomLover

    Who said I had no control? That’s more than I know.

    We all sinned in Adam.

  • Guy Norred

    Could you have not sinned in Adam? If that is not possible then you had no control over it. God might as well be angry at you over the color of your eyes.

  • WisdomLover

    I don’t see why I could not have avoided sinning in Adam.

    I think the standard view is that Adam acted as our perfect representative. Unlike an imperfect representative like Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi, Adam would not have acted as he did in Eden were all his constituents not ‘with him’.

  • Steve Bailey

    Thanks, Matt. Right on, as usual. The Jesus movement has been so layered by European and American religious baggage that Jesus and Paul would not recognize it. It’s been renewing for me to be part of a study course in Israel that focuses on the Jewish historical and spiritual context of Jesus. Two thousand years of political and theological baggage is irrelevant to Jewish women and men who see Jesus as the fulfillment of messianic prophecy. The Kingdom teaching of Jesus comes alive and restored to its central place in God’s unfolding plan for humanity. American and European Christianity, in their overwhelming hubris, have become blinded to the mission of of God in Jesus, replacing that mission with what has now become irrelevant institutional religion that does very little significant good for humanity as a whole; that is, there is very little will or effort to proclaim and help bring in what Jesus calls ‘the Kingdom of God’.

  • Guy Norred

    If you could have avoided it, why didn’t you? Are you saying that if one person ever had not wanted it, Adam would not have sinned?

  • WisdomLover

    I think that’s what I said, yes. Adam would not have acted as he did in Eden were all his constituents not ‘with him’.

  • Guy Norred

    That is some serious unity.

  • Kathy Bryson

    Wow, I’m reading “WisdomLover” in disbelief. Maybe your mother conceived you in sin, but when my children were conceived almost 4 decades ago, their father and I were definitely engaged in an act of love, with the hope of creating a child as well as, in deep love, pleasuring one another. My children were absolutely conceived in love and, at their birth (no drugs, folks), I definitely felt the presence of God as these children – born without the fraudulent taint of “original sin” – emerged to amazing love (hormone-mediated adoration). So, if it feeds your personal pain to feel “conceived in sin,” I grieve for you. Your view casts a destructive shadow over organized religion. I participate in organized religion, using the primary two relational commandments of Christ (love!) to guide my interactions in this imperfect world. And love permeates the newest generation of my family.

  • cgosling

    Yes, people are leaving the Christian church, even when the European churches are government funded, so it is not a matter of economics. Many Christians do not understand why children are held responsible for their father’s sin, going back to Adam. In civil law why would you condemn a child to a life of suffering if its father committed a crime. It is nonsensical and totally unfair. Another reason why people are losing interest in most religion is its dependance upon supernatural events. And, although some churches try to remain neutral on political matters, too many churches have become political. Secular Humanists and liberal Protestant churches fight a continual battle to keep church and state apart, like our founding fathers intended. I would guess that nearly half of those attending church today do it for social and personal reasons and not because they believe in supernatural events that supposedly occurred before people began to rely upon science and reason.

  • WisdomLover

    I’m sure that the parents of King David, who I was quoting, loved each other too.

  • WisdomLover

    It would have to be wouldn’t it, in order for Death to come through that one man. Fortunately there is also some serious union between me and Christ.

  • WisdomLover

    David must have read his Augustine. That’s why he described his sinful condition this way: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”

    I can see why, if we are sinful God doesn’t just forgive us. There is a moral barrier there. His own Divine attribute of Justice prevents it. You might have problems with the idea of substitution of satisfaction, but at least you can see why God can’t just square things up, and something as extraordinary as the incarnation, crucifixion and vicarious atonement had to happen.

    Can you tell me what the point of the incarnation was if it wasn’t to act as a satisfaction for our sin? What did it do? Why was it necessary? If we are simply broken, why didn’t God just fix us? What was stopping Him that required that He be incarnated?

  • WisdomLover

    I doubt very much that a discussion of why or how we are saved would qualify, for Paul, as a foolish or stupid argument.

    I do agree that we have that one job though.

    How’s that going for you?

    I’m not doing too good at it.

    That’s why Christ came, because none of us ever do very well on loving God and neighbor.

  • Carl Hansen

    So, David had long-range vision to read Augustine who was not born until several centuries later…

  • WisdomLover

    “In civil law why would you condemn a child to a life of suffering if its father committed a crime. It is nonsensical and totally unfair.”

    And why do you expect the human condition to be like civil law?

    It might be unfair, but it’s not nonsensical that children are born adicts because of what their parents did.

    Should rich children be stripped of their inheritance, because it’s unfair to poor children?

    It is a fact, not nonsense, that children inherit all sorts of things from their parents, both good and bad.

    Whether that’s unfair, I don’t know that I’m fully equipped to judge.

  • WisdomLover

    Kind of my point.

    David seems to believe in Original Sin. So it probably wasn’t ‘dreamt up by Augustine’ as KingstonJack claimed in his post.

  • WisdomLover

    “God is morally responsible for the death of every single creature” is true by definition (His being Omnipotent and Omniscient and all that).

    You might as well blame bachelors for not liking women because they’re always unmarried.

    Your proposal is what? God should never let anyone die?

    God should do what with sinners who want nothing to do with Him? Force them to experience His presence anyway?

  • WisdomLover

    Well, He certainly loves Hitler and every other sinner.

    But if your point is that Christianity is false because Hitler, or some such, maybe it’s time to invoke Godwin’s Law.

  • WisdomLover

    BTW, there has never been a more intolerant preacher of the Law than Christ. That’s what His words and actions include.

    This underscores the fact that there is no Gospel without the Law, and the more strident the demands of the Law are, the greater the grace that is revealed in the Gospel.

  • KingstonJack

    Oh, for goodness sake, can you not read? Can you not understand plain English? And, far more importantly, can you not read your bible?

    Nowhere, repeat nowhere, does the bible use the phrase “original sin”. That was Augustine. Don’t believe me? Do some research.

    Secondly, and here you might like some help from a bible scholar rather than placing your own interpretation on the text, Psalm 51- from which you take your quotation – was not written by David. Yes, it may have been attributed to him, but given it was written many years after his death it’s fairly unlikely he wrote it. (In much the same way Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch.) If you take the story of David from 1 & 2 Samuel, you will not find the words you’re quoting, nor will you find anything which indicates he was “conceived in sin”.

    However, what is abundantly clear is that you will continue to swim in the stream of Sin and Redemption, finding no sign of the grace of God anywhere. Each and every one of your posts confirms it.

  • WisdomLover

    I guess the Bible doesn’t teach Divine Omnipotence either…nowhere, I repeat nowhere, does the Bible use the word “Omnipotent”. Don’t believe me? Do some research.

    What an infantile argument.

    It seems ridiculous to have to point it out, it is so obvious, but the fact that a text does not use a term, says nothing at all about whether the text has something to say on the concept that the term refers to.

    Of course David did write Psalm 51, though I have little doubt that you will find many a Bible ‘scholar’ willing to gas off to the contrary.

    But the fact of who wrote it has nothing at all to do with what it means…which is that the Psalmist was claiming to already been infected with sin in the womb.

    “you will continue to swim in the stream of Sin and Redemption, finding no sign of the grace of God anywhere.”

    Good Lord! You might as well have said that I’ll find no sign of Redemption in those waters. Grace and redemption are the same thing.

  • Nathan D’Souza

    Well in India people aren’t exactly leaving in droves. It’s more likely to be the other way around. I think as a society gets blessed by God they start enjoying the gifts and cant’ see the giver. Their souls begin to collect fat. The glamour of the gifts block them from understanding the cross. But this happened to the Israelites too. So it’s just history repeating itself I suppose.

  • Benjamin Atkinson

    Hi Wisdom Lover,

    I have read lots of your comments. I was once where you are. I sympathise. Can I suggest that you read Julian of Norwich? She was the first of the mystics to lead me to a different perspective from the one you seem to hold. Of course, you are educated, so perhaps you have read her already, in which case you can take my advice as void. She was an anchoress in a monastery in England. She had several experiences of God, including one particularly profound one. They might be of interest to this particular discussion.

    Aside from that…

    Speaking from my personal experience as someone who studied the bible from a historical perspective, I have to say it is not the Word of God. It is the collected words of people who encountered God, and recorded their experiences as they saw them. As such it is flawed, limited by human perspective. Useful, but not the be all and end all. The real Word of God lives on in Christ, whose body is us, the Church (a mystical communion of people, bound together not by rules, or even shared doctrine, but by the life of the Spirit). To claim to know anything for sure is hubris, beyond that God loves us.

    This is where I am at, and I will not be diminished by buying back into substitutionary atonement, which is a latter tradition, not at all in keeping with the original church as it existed in the first century, before the bible had been put together.

    All of the above was written gently, with the intention to share, not to argue. I hope it can add something.

  • Benjamin Atkinson

    Cynthia, thank you for sharing you story. I am so glad that you had such good teachers. Bless you for trying to keep the peace.

  • Benjamin Atkinson

    I love the way you are thinking about the bible here. I agree with you about the two strands. Sadly many people hold the bible up to be perfect (which is in itself heretical in my view, after all, isn’t God the only perfect thing?).

  • Chad Hoelzel

    You are asking/expecting us to unsee, unlearn, unexperince the experiences of the Divine we’ve had and how the Divine has worked in our lives…. back to believing in a Thor like God. That will be a hard sell. Kind of like Paul going back to becoming Saul.

  • otrotierra

    Thor is about right. Also popular among Evangelical Fundamentalists is Mars, the Roman god of war.

  • cgosling

    Wisdom Lover – Humans including children and our primate cousins have a sense of inborn fairness demonstrated by numerous scientific research. We humans are well equipped to make judgements otherwise we would be long extinct. Wisdom Lover, you are well equipped to make judgements but afraid to make a judgement about the wisdom and fairness of you god. If a deity has the power to insure innocent children are not treated unfairly and he does nothing, then he is guilty of unfairness and cruelty and not the kind of god anyone should adore and follow. Your concept of god is based upon centuries of biblical rewritings, scribe errors, twisted legends passed down by iron aged science, and ignorant supernatural believers who borrowed from previous religions. I know it is difficult to give up superstitious beliefs that are the result of adult emotional grief and childhood brain-washing, but humans are gifted through evolution to make judgements based upon personal and social survival experiences. The unique human brain can easily be mislead by emotion and false promises, but it also has the ability to reject nonsense such as original sin.

  • WisdomLover

    Thor is limited in power and knowledge. Thor is doomed to die with no resurrection. Thor is more like me than he is like God. Heck, even I will be resurrected…though not through my own power.

    Your claim that the God who is Omnipotent and Omniscient is a Thor-like God is a logical absurdity.

    But if God is both Omnipotent and Omniscient, as all orthodox Christians claim, then He is responsible for everything that happens.

    You can have it both ways, no matter what limited experiences you might have.

  • WisdomLover

    Boy, that comment is all over the place.

    Could you, just possibly, focus on the questions I asked. I have neither time nor inclination to respond to an atheist manifesto.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover, I really did not expect you to answer me sensibly. I fully understand your commitment to your faith because once, I too believed in supernatural events due to brain washing at an early age. It is not too late for you to rethink blind faith and base your life on reason and science. Humans have an innate sense of fairness, justice, love and empathy without supernatural help. Unfortunately, some humans are unable to draw upon this inborn sense without encouragement from religion. You, apparently need religion to live a virtuous life, but many of us do not. Your non-reply to me is typical of other hard line believers who deep down realize that their beliefs are suspect to reason and fact. I am truly sorry about that. A good life does not need to be based upon superstition. Surely, you must realize that.

  • WisdomLover

    Thanks for Manifesto 2, but can you tell me exatctly why you would expect the answer to the human condition to be like civil law? Science tell you that?

  • Chad Hoelzel

    And yet here we are…. God is all powerful and isn’t strong enough to save all. God has all the knowledge and yet can’t figure out how to save all.

    So is he strong enough to overcome Satan and save us all? Is he smart enough to find a way to save us all (does he desire to)?

  • WisdomLover

    “And yet here we are…”

    And yet not. God does not save all not because He cannot over power the choice of the lost to go to Hell rather than be in His presence. Nor is it because He does not know how to overpower their choice.

    He does not overpower the choice of the lost to go to Hell rather than live in His presence because, at least in some cases, it would be morally wrong for Him to do so.

    His problem was never with overpowering Satan. If that’s what you think, you can forget about that. If it were just a matter of rescuing us from Satan’s clutches, Satan would have been vaporized in a nanosecond.

    The problem was always what He would do to satisfy His own Justice. Satisfaction/Substitution is really the only view that’s possible when you are dealing with an Omnipotent and Omniscient God.

  • cgosling

    Dear Wisdom lover, You asked, why would I expect the answer to the human condition to be like human law. My friend, all law is human law but it often lies disguised under what some claim is God’s law. I fully understand your refusal to believe that religious law has done more harm than good. I suggest you read the infamous parts of the Christian, Muslim and Hebrew holy books again instead of conveniently ignoring them. Many of the laws originated in the minds of superstitious men who had no idea about science and acted to promote their own misguided and unscientific religious agendas. In actuality, I cannot blame a deity for the cruelty and ignorance found in holy books throughout the ages of mankind because, in reality, there are no deities except those that were conjured up in the minds of ignorant Iron Age men. Sometimes they got it right but, too often, they used religion to insure and enhance their own power. Religious wars and Catholic and Protestant persecutions were the result. As you well know, religious wars still are fought to this day and justified by ancient scriptures. Is it not better to use history, logic, and educated understanding to live our lives successfully and to treat our fellow humans and our earth with respect. Some religions already attempt to do this, good for them. But radical religions and radical religious leaders too often screw up this world of ours. I am not saying you are in the forefront of radical religion but you must realize that religion often does more harm than good and the “religion is always right” philosophy is threatening humankind. Too many call upon a imaginary Almighty to justify their politics and policy. Surely you must agree.

  • WisdomLover

    Disqus’s spam filter has gone nuts again…breaking this comment up to sneak past it:

    Part 2:

    all law is human law but it often lies disguised under what some claim is God’s law.

    Very little law is human law.

    Is the law of gravity human law?

    What about Ohm’s law?

    Is Gresham’s law human law? It is a law about humans, yes, but it is not the invention of human’s anymore than Ohm’s law is.

    Most laws are laws of nature and are not human inventions.

    I might also ask whether fairness applies in any of those cases? Is it unfair to lighter masses that they get pulled in to heavier masses? Is it unfair to more resistant conductors that they get less current than less resistant conductors. Is it unfair to good money that it gets driven out by bad money?

    Fairness doesn’t even seem to be a well-defined concept in those cases. Why should it be for the case of original sin? And even if fairness is defined in that case, why should it be defined as it is for civil law?

  • WisdomLover

    Disqus’s spam filter has gone nuts again…breaking this comment up to sneak past it:

    Now even Part 1 is being detected as spam.

    Breaking it down even more.

  • WisdomLover

    This is Part One

    Thanks for atheist manifesto 3. You do like them don’t you?

    I actually asked why you would expect the human condition to be like civil law. Why should we expect the notion of fairness that applies to civil law to apply to the human condition? Why should we expect fairness to even be a well-defined concept in that context?

    The reason I asked that is that your original claim was this

    In civil law why would you condemn a child to a life of suffering if its father committed a crime. It is nonsensical and totally unfair.

    Of course, even here you are a bit confused, since civil law doesn’t deal with crimes, criminal law has that scope.

  • cgosling

    Wisdom Lover: there are two sets of laws, man made and natural. Religious laws are proported to be god made, but you and I know they come from the minds of men,the pens of scribes and the votes of Church Councils. This seems to confusing to you and you have not said why. Ask and it shall be given my friend. I am always happy to clear the fog of religious superstition.

  • WisdomLover

    So, for example, there’s no actual, you know, reality to the fact that it is wrong to, say, kill and eat my neighbor.

    That’s just something someone made up and wrote down.

    I don’t think it is me that is confused.

  • jekylldoc

    We do need a healthy level of law and judgment. But that should not be the main focus of the People of the Way. It must come in a context of a relationship of love and caring, or else it will turn into something we try to use against other people. The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.

  • Obscurely

    I think Pope Francis has a similar agenda? — emphasizing the life-giving Spirit of the law over its deadening letter …

  • Obscurely

    This is one of the best (and most respectful:) debates I’ve seen on the angry/wrathful vs loving God I’ve seen …
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5M0HBKZlIc

  • Chad Hoelzel

    I find it strange that you find it morally wrong for God to not convince us of his love for us yet it isn’t morally wrong for that same God to burn us in hell.

    Unfortunately, the conscience God gave me can not accept the “Bad News” you are sharing. I will have to continue my journey as a Jesus follower and continue to live his “good news”… that we are made in the image of the Divine and that we are loved no matter what.

    On that day, when I am judged. If God says that I shared a God of love to much…. that I chose to live and teach a theology that had to much inclusivity, love, acceptance and no strings attached forgiveness.
    I will know in my heart that I have lived my life to the fullest and will be at peace.

    Peace to you on your journey WisdomLover

  • WisdomLover

    Who said anything about it being morally wrong for God to convince us of anything?

    But, by definition, convincing cannot be compulsion.

    What if someone will not be convinced? Satan wasn’t.

    Then it’s either force, or let them be isn’t it?

    God’s morality precludes His forcing the will of His free creatures, at least in some cases.

    Thus He let’s them be.

    Thus Hell.

    ===================================

    I rather expect that the number of people that won’t be convinced is a bit higher than we would like to think.

    Suppose that I am right, just for a moment.

    Didn’t you just indicate your unwillingness to be convinced. Even at the final judgement you say that you will be at peace if God condemns you for your theology.

    Isn’t an unwillingness to be convinced evident in Matthew’s own remark to me after my initial comment? “You can keep your angry God”.

    Oddly enough Matthew, who is sooo careful to mock people who call him a Heretic, effectively called me a worshiper of a different God than Him, that is, a heretic.

    If you and Matthew aren’t willing to be convinced, then very few will be willing.

    In fact, I rather imagine that virtually everyone is unwilling to be convinced unless God makes them willing.

    That’s why I said that God’s morality precludes His forcing the will of His free creatures, at least in some cases.

    In some cases, God’s morality does not preclude His forcing some of His free creatures to be willing to be convinced.

    Thus Heaven.

    ===================================

    I wouldn’t identify the God of Love as a distinctive of your theology. My God is also a God of Love. In fact, contrary to your belief, I think they are the same God…you just mistakenly say things about Him that would preclude His Omnipotence and Omniscience (that is to say that would preclude His being God).

    But Christ died for bad theology too.

    In the end, if God shows you that your theology was wrong, I don’t think that you will be content knowing in your heart that you have lived your life to the fullest. Nor do I think that Matthew will say “Meh, you can keep your anger”.

    I think you will just fall to your knees and be grateful knowing that your full life was all filthy rags. And Matthew will also fall to His knees and see that His sense of moral superiority over ‘my’ angry God was also just filthy rags. But if you both trusted Christ, those filthy rags won’t matter at all.

    Betcha that’s what happens with me too, even if my theology is right, it’s still just prideful filthy rags that Christ dealt with.

  • WisdomLover

    Thanks for this, I caught Zahnd’s opening, and I’m about halfway through Brown’s opening. It looks really good.

    I’ll have to finish it up tonight.

  • Michael

    Matthew, your post makes some extraordinarily sweeping claims about Christianity, and they feel like claims made by someone who only understands a segment of American Christianity. But our faith is global and diachronic, and exposure to the wider church reveals far more complexity than your article can really do justice to. I’m a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and I have experienced almost none of the vices you describe here. I think you’ve spent too much time focusing on American Evangelicalism. Go live with the Eastern Orthodox for a bit, or read the writings of William Temple, or commune with the Taize community. I’ve been to a lot of charismatic communities (e.g., Bethel in Redding, CA) that are alive with the Spirit and fire and love. I don’t think “Christianity” is a tired religion, or as hateful as you think it is. I do think that some American fundamentalists make a lot of noise. But why are you letting them define our faith?

    Moreover, you fall back on an abstraction as the solution. “Love” is an abstract term, a lifeless, bloodless politically correct term that remains as saccharine as the Beatles’ song worshiping it. God is not an abstraction, and God’s love is not found in empty platitudes. God is the concrete graciousness that was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself. The biblical faith tells stories, not abstractions, and it finds room for a depth of theology that does not need to oppose love to sin or judgment. As Rowan Williams has argued for some time, anyone who thinks you can have a theology of love without a theology of sin or judgment hasn’t really entered into the deeper things of God’s grace. I’m all for rejecting the superficial conception of hell that plagues fundamentalist churches. But perhaps the most radical position isn’t adopting some hell-free, sin-free, judgment-free liberalism (which is both not radical and not new), but instead plunging the depths of scripture, tradition and philosophy to discover how these dry bones can live again.

  • Chad Hoelzel

    I guess we are on a different journey. I see the essence of the Divine in everyone (made in God’s image). I see the concept of original sin as something made up by St. Augustine. From my research the idea of “a satan” is anthropological construct and was adopted from Zoroastrianism which predates any biblical writings we have. I see hell as a concept stolen from other cultures and adopted as a form of control by fear as used by the church for the last 1300-1700 years.

    The Christian faith is much like a freight train, throughout earth’s history, it has picked up a lot of baggage that isn’t healthy or helpful.

    I’d encourage you to work backwards through Christian history to the first century. You will be surprised how much was add along the way and how much was lost. Biblical historians say that Christianity before and after Constantine looked like two different religions.

  • Fearless Feline

    This has been my experience as well with some Christians and churches. Many seemed more concerned about orthodoxy (correct belief) than orthopraxy (correct action) thus the focus on doctrine, belief, holiness codes, turning the New Testament into a second law when Jesus emphasizes loving God and others, particularly the least of these. A sabbatical from church attendance has been refreshing for me. And reading Richard Rohr and becoming more non-dualistic in my thinking. I don’t like using the term Christian anymore but prefer to say that I follow Jesus.

  • WisdomLover

    The devil and devils, hell and original sin are all clearly present in Biblical teaching. The fact that other religions have devils, or hell, or whatever, also is irrelevant. Guess what else other religions have: God. Is God imported from Zoroastrianism too? Or is it only concepts that you don’t like that get the heave ho?

    Nothing was added to Christianity. What happened is this, there were some issues about which there was no controversy in the church. While there remained no controversy, there was no clear teaching. But if you look, the view that the church settled upon was in the Bible.For example, the seven propositions that comprise the doctrine of the Trinity are all supported by Biblical language. For all that, you don’t see trinitarianism directly in Scripture.

  • cgosling

    Of course it is wrong to kill and eat your neighbor, but I don’t need an all powerful, wise and loving god to tell me that, do you?

  • Chad Hoelzel

    Sorry… life is to short to continue a conversation like this. I have gotten to what Father Richard Rohr calls second half of my life. I cant go back to being dishonest with my understanding of my faith…. which is what this conversation is, blatantly ignoring Christian history and a lot of it’s follies.

    I’m sharing where I’m at in my journey and you are sharing how I’m wrong…. that isn’t healthy for you (Ego) and it isn’t healthy for me (regression in faith)

  • WisdomLover

    I wasn’t asking how you know. I was asking what it is.

    This law against killing and eating my neighbor is apparently one of those made up human things. Or are you claiming that it is a law of nature, like the law of gravity? According to you those are the only two possibilities.

  • Just to note from an outsider’s perspective that it’s not helping you that these (Evangelical) people, this being a Catholic country where laicism is on the rise and not just due to the scandals surrounding said church, or at the very least the most vocal ones, are of the fundie variety:

    – Being told if you’re not interested either that you’ll burn in Hell, attempting to scare you with what will happen to not believers the day Jesus comes back, or that “Christianism is not a religion” -stuff also present below-.

    – Radio stations that bring the best of the worst (Creationists totally clueless in science despite claiming to love it, people as John MacArthur and his calvinism and dispensionalism, someone with gems as that “women cannot rule due to Jezebel’s history (and a book, the Two Babylons, now considered BS)”, “far-left parties practice occultism and are Satanic”, and NWO/Illuminati BS, “hellers” in general including someone who was taking as real the “Well to Hell” hoax (ie: Hell as a physical place), and Pentecostalists who practice the “Prosperity gospel”).

  • WisdomLover

    Well, good luck to you.

    FTR, I wasn’t sharing that you were wrong any more than you were sharing that I am. We obviously disagree with each other, so at least one of us actually is wrong. And we both obviously think the other guy is wrong.

    I did ask you to entertain the possibility that you were wrong. For a moment it looked like you were saying that you if you were wrong, you would sooner accept God’s judgement knowing about the fullness of your life than to believe that God demanded moral satisfaction for the sins of men.

    You never responded to that, but began to focus on the early church and its teachings.

    You should realize that that argument doesn’t really work. The broad consensus of the church has rejected the view you are espousing based on all the evidence of the Bible, the traditions of the church and reason. That freight train of ‘baggage’ that you denigrate is a train filled with a treasure trove of two millennia of careful thought by people far smarter than us. The arrogance it takes to call it folly is breathtaking.

  • WisdomLover

    Well…that’s incomprehensible.

  • Sadly it’s true. While there’s harmless stuff there as reading the Bible, comments about God/Jesus’ love, and people who calls looking for prayers that is present (and I forgot to mention the typical anti-evolution/Big Bang position, hating of gays even wanting God to get rid of them, and waiting for the Rapture).

  • WisdomLover

    I was actually referring to your initial remark.

  • Of course people are losing patience with the church.
    The reason is they do what’s right in their own eyes so they need and want another Gospel.
    But this is a major sign of the times- everything’s on track.

  • The fact of the matter is Christianity was founded on the supernatural, if you don’t like it find something else.
    If people attend Church for social and personal reasons they’re in the wrong place and its prudent for them to leave.

  • I see, sorry. I should notice here that these people are inmigrants who (usually) target other inmigrants and in the case of that one she was inviting to convert everyone, migrant or not, while preaching the typical subjects. When she targeted me and told me I was not intersted at all she told me with the most contempt you can imagine I’d burn in Hell.

    The “Christianity is not a religion”, etc. when I remarked she (other woman) was wrong was replied with anger. That’s not going to go very well.

  • cgosling

    True, some natural laws are those established by physics. Also, some are established by evolution to enhance survival of a species. Often, these natural laws seen cruel to us, but we humans have invented our own cruel and insane laws, too often justified by belief in supernatural powers. We humans often embark upon suicidal and savage behavior because we imagine it is sanctioned by an all wise deity that can do no wrong. All I ask is that we humans use our intellect, not our god dreams, to decide what is best for our survival in this indifferent universe. By the way, there have been many verified incidences where human lives have been sacrificed to gain the favor of the gods. History tell us that canniblism was not uncommon in societies needing protein. Such survival behavior has always been conveniently sanctioned by tribal religious law.

  • summers-lad

    It is not Christian to hold children responsible for their fathers’ sin. True, there is Exodus 20:5, and other similar verses in the Pentateuch, but “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children” is a puzzling phrase, both for the words and the content. Many translations say “punishing” for “visiting” but (not knowing Hebrew) this seems problematic to me. I have a friend who, as a social worker, saw the effects of various sins, especially sexual abuse, affecting subsequent generations, and he tended to see these verses as stating consequences rather than God’s active punishment. As for “going back to Adam”, we all do wrong (whether you call it sin or not) in some ways, by our own decision.
    Ezekiel 18 is a strong statement of individual, and not inherited or transferred, responsibility for sin. And the New Testament is pretty clear that we are judged on what we have done, not on what our ancestors have done. This is why I started my comment as I did.

  • WisdomLover

    All of which pale in comparison to the body count of atheism in the 20th century.

    But that is neither here nor there.

    It looks like humans made up the bit about not killing and eating our neighbor being wrong, but it’s actually a natural law because evolution.

    Which suggests that in a pinch I might recognize that it really is just a made up rule kill and eat my neighbor, and it would be OK. You know, if it helps me to survive to proceed that way.

  • cgosling

    Dear WisdomLover – You apparently do not know the definition of atheist. Atheists, like agnostics, do not believe in god(s). The definition does not make any reference to morality or behavior. Atheists come in all colors and sizes. . It is true there have been canablistic societies who, most likely had their gods, as all societies do. Don’t blame that on atheism. God believing Societies are responsible for the vast majority of atrocities simply because their have been few, if any, atheist societies. Stalin led god believing Russians as did Hitler. I never claimed atheists are naturally more moral than God believers. Ancient societies, including those of early Hebrews, Christians and Muslims fashioned and invented religious law that favored their own survival. Some of the laws, you must admit, were and are ridiculous and savage to this day.

  • cgosling

    Summers-lad – You make an interesting observation. Are you familiar with the concept of epigenitics? Epigenetics is a relatively new concept that allows the passing of some mental and physical characteristics from mother to offspring without changing an organism’s DNA. If a pregnant mouse is nearly starved, it’s offspring will hoard food for several generations thereafter. I’m sure you can see that certain social atrocities causing a feeling of guilt or fear might be long lasting from generation to generation. That might have some bearing on the concept of original sin.

  • cgosling

    Dear blogcom – Thanks for the good advice. But, if non-sincere church goers leave the church, which they are in droves, churches would suffer without government support.

  • summers-lad

    That’s a new concept to me – very interesting. Thank you.
    By the way, I don’t hold to the traditional (inherited) concept of original sin. I believe we have all sinned, but tend to see the condition as cultural or environmental. From what you say, epigenetics could indeed have some bearing on this.

  • Dear cgosling
    Perhaps its time for the chips to fall where they may.
    In a post Christian society the Benedict Option is the best bet.

  • WisdomLover

    The cancer started in the head. It started with the atheist dictators of the twentieth century.

    But that’s a side show, as is your definition of atheism…which apparently cannot distinguish an atheist from an agnostic.

    The main point is that you and I apparently are only restrained from killing and eating our neighbors by one of those made up laws men write.

  • cgosling

    I find it hard to believe that you do not understand that atheists and agnostics do not believe in god. Please check with your dictionary’s definitions. How can agnostics believe in a god when they don’t know if he exists? Please explain. For your edification, atheists, including me, say a deity might exist, but until there is good scientific evidence concerning his existence, they cannot believe. Agnostics say something very similar, but are not usually as vocal as atheists, who are more alarmed about religion’s inroads into personal freedoms and government. Concerning your continued claims that atheists are responsible for what is wrong with the world, I can only repeat that world history is repleat with overwhelming evidence that most wars, suffering and human conflict has been sponsored and/or supported by “god fearing” people. The poor populations of Africa, Asia and South America continue to suffer because charitable assistance from wealthy nations and organizations do not begin to address the ongoing calamity of overpopulation, and the absence of birth control. I applaud the charitable efforts of religion and recognize their concerns about serving the poor. But then, I get distracted by flamboyant TV pastors who take advantage of gullible believers and take what little they have. Too often, Christianity ignores the dishonesty within its ranks and tries to shift the blame to atheists and agnostics.

  • WisdomLover

    You are drifting back into manifesto writing.

    Did you care to address the evident problem with your view that the reason we don’t kill and eat our neighbors is that some guys scribbled down a rule against that sort of stuff?

  • cgosling

    Thanks, I’m glad you like my writings. Humans, with or without their religious convictions, are capable of atrocities, such is human nature. I can see certain disadvantages when one has stronge religious beliefs. Those who tend to be intolerant believe it is their god directed duty to evangelize or “kill and eat” those who feel different. Frustrated friendly persuasion often morphs to violent persuasion, thus there are many wars with religious overtones and justifications. Religious laws are often the result of failed social compromises. Peaceful discussions turn violent when one party refuses to believe something contrary to their own well established beliefs. Christianity, Hebrewism and Islam are the worst offenders currently. Strong beliefs make them intolerant of others.

  • cgosling

    Please enlighten me concerning the Benedict
    Option. I have a feeling that the chips are already falling where they may.

  • cgosling

    Dear WisdomLover, Why is it that you do not reply to my factual statements concerning science and evolution? I suspect readers of these correspondents between us, also wonder why you do not respond. It seems you may be ill informed about human evolution and science so you avoid getting into details. I am simply offering you, and other readers, a chance to understand the history of human supernatural beliefs. Yes, it is uncomfortable to find yourself in deep scientific waters, but more and more religious people are taking the plunge, asking questions and learning new things… and I might add, revising and rejecting ancient supernatural beliefs. I advise both you, and readers of our exchanges, to question ancient beliefs, question everything that does not have a good explanation and evidence. Base your ethics and moral judgements on social and physical science, and above all, on reason.

  • WisdomLover

    I don’t think the readers should be wondering why I don’t respond to your atheist manifestos that attempt to tell us everything that is wrong with Christianity.

    I said in my first reply to you: “I have neither time nor inclination to respond to an atheist manifesto.”

    I was wondering about the claim you made that every law is a natural law or made up by men. That was it. You seem to be saying that the law that we should not kill and eat our neighbors is a law made up by men. The best you’ve been able to do to further clarify this is that somehow evolution made us make up the law.

    Is that your position?

    Because if it is then just about any other view beats it.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover, In as much as atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, secular humanists and other non believers in your god, do not believe in supernatural gods, how could they possibly believe that laws came from a supernatural deity, as you do? As I tried to explain to you, nature (evolution) has a set of survival laws that occasionally enhance the survival of all life. Rapid climate and environmental changes often change the rules and life faces mass extinctions, as it has in the past. Through evolution, some species will find other ways to survive the obstacles they encounter. For convenience sake, I call the variable natural parameters, within which life lives, natural laws. Human and other primate societies can be very savage but have the ability to add their own behavior guidelines (laws) that help them survive some of the natural laws, such as over population. Unfortunately, human societies also concoct laws that justify slavery, war, genocide and inquisition.
    As far as I know there have been very few human societies that have justified killing and eating ones enemies, but there have been some, as documented by early European exploration in the South Pacific. Scientists have explained this behavior by suggesting it was the result of over population and need for additional protein. Any other things you need me to clarify? Please ask.

  • WisdomLover

    I see.

    Evolution can only, at best, describe the situation in which a moral law is followed in fact.

    It says not a word about why it should be followed.

    And the answer is not that we should do it because it helps us find mates and food before dying. I mean, why should we do that?

    I’m afraid you’ve got no answers.

  • cgosling

    Wisdom Lover, Finally you are catching on. Congratulations! Science (evolution and especially me) does not have all the answers. For example, why does matter and energy exist in the universe, and even, why does the universe exist?Science does not know and probably never will know the answers to these questions. True, now we know more than we did when the Bible was written and you and I have benefited from the advance of science and free inquiry. I have no doubt that you have more answers about the cosmos and why we are here than I do. It is comforting to believe that god(s) are in control. That is why so many people believe in god without scientific proof. Personally, I much rather make good use of my life understanding that my days are numbered. Knowing that, makes my short time on this earth more valuable and satisfying and continually urges me to make full use of my remaining time. Heaven may be your goal, but my goal has always been to make some small contribution to life on this rare planet, and do it without a bribe of an after life existance and a threat of everlasting hell.

  • WisdomLover

    If, as you say, science does not have all the answers, why should you expect there to be scientific proof of God or a host of other things?

    There is no scientific proof that arithmetic is true. Would you ‘much rather make good use of your life’ than to take comfort in a belief in the truth of arithmetic?

    Even though they cannot be scientifically proven, it is rational to believe that arithmetic truths are true. One reason for this, but certainly not the only reason nor even the most powerful reason is that scientific proofs often, if not always, make use of arithmetical and other mathematical operations to proceed. They do so even though science can have no proof of the truth, reliability or even the mere plausibility of these operations. To put it another way, there is no scientific proof of arithmetic, but there is no scientific proof without arithmetic.

    The same is true of God. There is no scientific proof of God…how could there be, how could science, for example, ever prove by repeated observation that a being is omnipotent? It is actually irrational to suppose that one has, to expect or to require scientific proof for the existence of God.

    Note that that is not the same as saying that there is no proof for the existence of God. But such proof as there is is not, and could not be, scientific.

    One reason to believe that God exists, though certainly not the only reason or even the most powerful reason, is that science makes use of any number of axioms, e.g. Occam’s Razor, the Uniformity of Nature, the Principle of Sufficient Reason, etc., that are plausible if God exists but exceedingly far-fetched if not. That is to say that like arithmetic, there is no scientific proof of God, but there is no scientific proof without God.

    Another thing that’s not scientifically provable is that there is not a good reason to kill and eat your neighbor. What do you say to a fellow who would ‘much rather make good use of his life’ enjoying the taste of grilled neighbor to taking comfort in belief in god(s) or scientifically unprovable rules of ethics?

  • cgosling

    We i

  • cgosling

    Arithmetic has served science well and has helped correct mistakes in our concept of the universe; thank god for arithmetic! I don’t understand why you say there is no proof that it works. It has and does work.
    It should be obvious that there can be no scientific proof that something exists if it does not exist. I’m glad even you admit “There is no scientific proof of god…”. Exactly my point. Non scientific proof is not reliable, and even scientific proof can be corrected and updated as we find out more about the universe. That is the nature of science and why it is our most reliable source of information.
    Your theology “ there is no scientific proof without god.” Is beyond my understanding. No comment.
    I addressed you comment about canniblism in a previous letter. A summary: the kill and eat philosophy you refer to, has been documented in the South Pacific by early European explorers. Scientists suppose it was due to overpopulation and a need for protein. The kill and eat behavior was a survivor behavior. The Old Testament is replete with human survivor atrocities sanctioned by an imaginary god. Humans have been long deceived by their religious and political leaders. When will we learn?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Evolution tells us how and why organisms change. As you say, it helps us find mates and food before we die, but mainly it provides us a way to continue our genetic line. You ask, why should we follow evolution? Answer: We do not follow evolution, it just happens in all life.

  • WisdomLover

    “I don’t understand why you say there is no proof that it [arithmetic] works.”

    First, I was talking about the truth of arithmetic, not the fact that it works (whatever that means).

    Second, I did not say that there is no proof for the truth of arithmetic.

    I said that there is (and can be) no scientific proof of the truth of arithmetic.

    About that I am certainly right because science presupposes arithmetic. You can’t even get started doing science unless you assume the truth of arithmetic. As such, any scientific proof of arithmetic would ipso facto be viciously circular.

    ===================================

    “Non scientific proof is not reliable”

    Nonsense. The proofs that Russell and Whitehead developed for the truth of arithmetic are rigorous, reliable and thoroughly non-scientific.

    If as you have admitted, science cannot answer every question, then it is foolish and irrational to limit yourself to scientific proof.

    ===================================

    As for why there is no scientific proof without God, I think I mentioned the basis of that.

    Scientific proof relies for example, on Occam’s Razor, which says, roughly, that the simpler explanation is the truer.

    But there is no reason at all to think that the simplest explanation is the truer. Unless some intelligence ordered the world such that it is that way.

    Scientific proof relies on the uniformity of nature. It assumes that the laws of nature in remote sections of the universe are the same as they are here.

    There is no reason at all to think that this is so. There is no reason to think that the laws of nature are the same on the other side of my kitchen, or between the top and bottom of the test tube. The assumption that it is so makes sense only if you assume that some intelligence arranged things so that it is so.

    Etc.

    Science is impossible unless God exists.

    ===================================

    Finally, nice try at dodging the question on killing and eating your neighbor.

    I was, quite clearly, not talking about a kill-or-die scenario.

    I was asking about a “fellow who would ‘much rather make good use of his life’ enjoying the taste of grilled neighbor to taking comfort in belief in god(s) or scientifically unprovable rules of ethics.”

  • WisdomLover

    You thou?

    They he/she/it?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover, I must admit I have difficulty in fowowing your theology, as I am sure, other readers of your comments, do. Your theology seems contorted and confusing to my simple intellect. I hope other readers follow your reasoning better than I, but I have my doubts. I suggest you untie your contorted theology so we simpletons can better understand it. Or, perhaps contorted theology is the only theology that can logically exist.

  • WisdomLover

    The fact that the word “God” appears in a bit of text does not make it theology.

    As far as I can tell, my last remark contains no theology at all. It’s mostly metaphysics…though there is a snippet or two of metalogic and metaethics.

    Your last comment could be summarized as

    “I don’t get it…please explain.”

    Would you care to point to the specific remarks that you don’t get?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover, Your theological explanations are too complex for simple minds, but thank you for trying so hard to explain.
    Another subject: I have been wondering about your beliefs concerning creation. Are you a Creationist or are you an Intelligent Design believer? Or, something else? Please explain why you believe in either. Many thanks.

  • WisdomLover

    It seems to me that the only interpretation of Scripture that really works is one in which a specific man, Adam, was created and fell, and another specific man, Jesus Christ, came into the world to set things right. That makes me a Creationist I suppose.

    But I’m not going too get wrapped around the axle about the age of the earth.

    I’m also not going to get too worried about evolution.

    I worry more about physics and cosmology. This is because before the fall, there was no death and decay. But the world our science tells us about includes an expanding, and possibly re-contracting, universe. That’s a universal death sentence, whether by heat death or a big crunch. If the Bible is right, then, those physical realities could not come into play until after Adam was created and fell.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks for the straight forward answer. A breath of fresh air. You say the age of the earth is something you rather not deal with. I wonder why not. Is it because the scientific estimate directly contradicts the bible’s version?

    Also, you said you are not to worried about evolution. That is another important scientific theory you won’t touch. Again, I wonder why not?

    Concerning the present scientific prediction that the earth will end as our sun burns out. It seems like an accurate scientific likely-hood, which you don’t deny.

    Do you believe in bible miracles such as when the dead left their graves and walked about and were seen by many?
    How about the wives of Adam’s sons. Where did they come from? Why are there two versions of Jesus’s ancestry?
    I could go on and on to ask you opinion about bible miracles and the many contradictions found in the holy book. But as is apparent, and in my personal experience, there are some things creationists rather not talk about. I guess my main question is, How can someone can be selective in their religious beliefs? Don’t you have to believe everything as written? I do know bible scholars have and are addressing the task of verifying and explaining the contradictions found in the bible since it was written. So how do these uncertainties effect a believers faith, your faith if at all? I can answer that from personal experience as well as from many surveys. The more I learned about science, the less I believed in miracles, magic and superstition. This is true for many ex Christians. I wonder why it is not true for you? I know you have thought about this and I await your wisdom. No rush.

  • WisdomLover

    I had a long reply for you that got gobbled up by the spam filter.

    I break it up here into several shorter comments. That usually lets me get past the filter.

    Because Disqus is such an epic failure, they may occur in reverse order with this comment coming last.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Two

    Now if you are asking whether I think I can reconcile Biblical teaching with what empirical science says about, say, the age of the earth or evolution. Then the answer is, of course, and rather easily.

    But I won’t say that the account I give to reconcile the two is true. I am not a prophet of God…I can’t write Bible passages. I can (though I won’t in this already overlong comment) propose a hypothetical consistent with both the Bible and, as far as I know, all our theories of the age of the earth. And it would also be the case that if that hypothetical were true, then both the Bible and all of our theories about the age of the earth would fit into one logically coherent account.

    That hypothetical may be true, or it may be a fantasy. What the hypothetical would do is allow one to assert that the Bible is true at the same time that one accepts all the claims of empirical science. That assertion of consistency would then be proven true, even if the hypothetical is not true or even likely.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Three

    I’ll answer the objections you raise against Christianity for the moment. I make no promise to allow indefinite ‘scope creep’ in this discussion. I’m not planning to respond to every charge you make against Christianity.

    For one thing, as I said before, I’m not interested in replying to an atheist manifesto. But anyway, I imagine you are leading with what you consider to be the toughest problems.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Four

    Yes, I believe in the possibility of miracles. Miracles are not momentary suspensions of the laws of nature…at least they need not be.

    Miracles might occur simply because, contrary to popular, though unprovable, opinion, the universe is not a closed system. Something outside may add, or take away something from the system thereby causing a completely unpredictable event…a miracle.

    For all that, once that interference occurs the system continues according to the laws of nature that are in place.

    God may, for example, create a son in the womb of a virgin, perhaps by creating, ex nihilo, the other side of every chromosome in the virgin’s ovum. But once that is done, the son develops over a 40 week period the same as every other baby.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Five

    Yes, I believe that when Jesus was raised, there was a sympathetic effect that caused other recently dead individuals to also rise. Christianity is based on a particular resurrection story. It always surprises me that atheists somehow think that stories of other resurrections would be in some way troubling or embarrassing.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Six

    Adam’s sons married their sisters. Why is that one a problem? Did you imagine that every child of Adam’s 900+ year lifespan was mentioned in the Bible?

  • WisdomLover

    Part Eight

    The so-called contradictions found in the Bible generally turn out like that last one (of Jesus’ genealogy). Pretty weak. They don’t really vex me.

    The way these things affect my faith is to massively bolster it.

    The more I see these lame efforts to discredit the Bible proceed the greater my confidence becomes. I’m left asking “Is that all you’ve got?”

    In contrast, the more I have learned about science, the more incomplete I have realized that it is. And because it is incomplete, as I said before, it is both irrational and foolish to limit what one believes to the scientifically provable.

    For one thing there are things that are provable, but not by science, without which scientific proof would not even be possible: Logic, Mathematics, the truth of the Principle of Sufficient Reason and the Uniformity of Nature, the existence of Causation, of the External World, of Other Minds, of the Self, of God.

  • WisdomLover

    I had a long reply for you that got gobbled up by the spam filter.

    I broke it up here into several shorter comments. That usually lets me get past the filter.

    Because Disqus is such an epic failure, they may occur in reverse order.

    I add this end comment to allow you to see what happened first.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks for the effort. I too have had trouble with whatever disrupts our communications. I look forward to reading your thoughtful insights and replying at my first opportunity.

  • WisdomLover

    Disqus has now eaten part seven of my reply to you. Here it is broken in two.

    Part Seven-A

    The idea that the two ‘versions’ of Jesus’ ancestry somehow contradict is actually a rather prosaic misunderstanding. One genealogy traces Jesus line (back to Abraham) through his legal father Joseph. The other traces His line (back to Adam) through His maternal grandfather Heli. The two lines meet in David and Bathsheba.

    We know that Luke was tracing Jesus’ line from His maternal grandfather because he specifically excludes Joseph from the genealogy. He says Jesus was the son of (as was supposed) of Joseph, of Heli etc.

    What are we to make of that?

    Was Luke giving the name of Jesus supposed, but not actual, bio-dad and giving the lineage of that guy (who is not biologically related to Jesus at all)?

    Preposterous.

  • WisdomLover

    Disqus has now eaten part seven of my reply to you. Here it is broken in two.

    Part Seven-B

    Luke intends us to think that he is giving a genealogy of Jesus not of the unrelated guy Joseph. As such, the next guy, Heli, actually is an ancestor of Jesus, but not of Joseph. There are three possibilities.

    1. He is Mary’s lover who cuckolded Joseph.
    2. He is Mary’s biological father.
    3. He is some biological ancestor of Mary’s father.

    Luke, unlike Matthew, seemed intent on not skipping generations in his account, so it’s unlikely that Luke meant to be suggesting option 3 (though the language certainly would allow that).

    It is also unlikely that Luke intended to be outing Mary for adultery. Luke has one of the richest accounts of the Virgin Birth including the greatest Song of Praise in all the Bible (Mary’s Magnificat). So option 1 is out.

    Thus Heli was Mary’s biological father. He traced his line back to David through a different path than his son-in-law Joseph used to trace his line back to David. Mystery solved.

    Why is Joseph’s line so important that Matthew traced Jesus back to David through Joseph?

    Because Joseph is Jesus’ legal father. Jesus was, by law, Joseph’s firstborn. Matthew was establishing Christ as the legal successor of King David. Biological legitimacy was not necessary for that. Legal acknowledgement by the father was necessary.

  • WisdomLover

    Disqus has now eaten part one of my reply to you. Here it is broken in two.

    Part One-A

    I didn’t say I’d rather not deal with the age of the earth.

    I think I said that it would probably be impossible to deal with it.

    The age of the earth is figured by using the laws of nature together with what they have to say about a given process and basically pushing rewind.

    The laws of nature applied to most processes observed today, when we project backward into the past, describe an old earth.

    For a few processes, you get a younger earth.

    For the laws applied to some processes you get nothing. The equations blow up…rather quickly so that you can’t even project back for more than a few seconds. This is sometimes thought to indicate time’s arrow, but I find that thinking simplistic. It seems instead to indicate that the universe is currently in a phase of expansion.

  • WisdomLover

    Disqus has now eaten part one of my reply to you. Here it is broken in two.

    Part One-B

    The overall message one could draw (from what we saw in part one-a of my remark) is that the world is ancient, and for a few processes some outside influence has caused a false appearance of youth. It could go the other way of course. It seems, though, that ancient is the best bet.

    But if you hit a point where the laws of nature change, then the rewind function is broken, and all bets are off. You are left in the position of someone looking at the math that describes the motion of a piano string who then starts looking for the travelling wave coming in from infinity from outside the piano case.

    Whatever happened in the Garden of Eden had to have happened under entirely different laws of nature (where death and decay…impossible to escape under the current laws…were non-existent). If the Garden of Eden account is true, then the continuity of the laws of nature, so important to calculations of the universe’s age, is broken.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You asked if these questions were my toughest problems concerning bible contradictions? No, absolutely not. These questions were just are a few that popped into my head. You must be aware that volumes have been written on that very subject: contradictions, false claims, bogus archaeology, impossible events, stolen stories from other religions, inhuman sadistic behavior etc. are all found spread generously throughout the scriptures. I could go on. I do not have the time, and neither do you, to discus everything. I wonder how familiar you are with the plethora of scholary bible criticism. As you know, on many issues Christians don’t agree with Jews or Muslims; protestants don’t agree with Catholics and other protestants and so on. Some where and somehow, someone has got to be in error.They can’t all be right in their understanding of the bible. Or is it possible that your personal interpretation of bible events and theology is the only correct one? I suppose it is possible only you have the true word from the almighty, and the only true interpretation of biblical events.
    I am sure you can guess my personal beliefs about the authenticity of the many versions of the bible. Most of the different versions of the scriptures have been edited, rewritten, corrected, voted upon and stolen from other sources. There may be some truth, but that is extremely difficult to dig out. Humans are prone to error, exaggeration, and emotional fantasy. I have read the bible while trying to find its moral and actual value. There are many wise and moral truths no doubt, but most of the scriptures are unsubstantiated legends written by ignorant Iron age tribes.

    Thank you once again for your great effort to make sense out of bible contradictions, exaggerations and errors. In spite of rereading your writings several times and taking notes, I had great difficulty in understanding your explanations. I’ll give it another try tomorrow. Do you seriously expect the average person will be able to follow your theology?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover, I just reread your explanations again. I am impressed with your flexible mind and extensive knowledge. And, I will continue to try to understand your bible theories. I truly enjoy exchanging thoughts with you and exploring your theology. Thanks for your sincere efforts to convince me that I am wrong and you are right. Our exchanges have been stimulating.

  • cgosling

    I do not believe humans have lived over 900 years. Also, I believe it is incestuous to marry ones sister and close relations.

  • cgosling

    There is no evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead and I never heard of a sympathetic effect that caused dead and buried corpses to dig themselves out of graves and visit their relatives and friends. You can’t possibly expect rational people to believe that. Some if not most Unitarians are Christians without miracles. They are good people living in fellowship with fellow humans, again without the walking dead.

  • cgosling

    Theories about the age of the earth and the evolution of humans are proven theories substantiated by numerous studies. They are in direct contradiction with bible scriptures, and the claims of literal believers of the bible.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Miracles are not improbable events, they are impossible events. Because some events are beyond our comprehension, it does not mean we will not be able to explain them in the future. To iron age people, a moon landing would appear to be a miracle, but now we know better. On the probability of virgin birth or an unfertilized egg giving rise to offspring, it is found in some simple animals but is not considered to be a miracle by anyone.

  • WisdomLover

    “You asked if these questions were my toughest problems concerning bible contradictions? No, absolutely not.”

    OK fine. I think you can see that those problems you raised were fairly easily fielded.

    I can’t reply in general to the claim that “volumes have been written on that very subject: contradictions, false claims, bogus archaeology, impossible events, stolen stories from other religions, inhuman sadistic behavior etc. are all found spread generously throughout the scriptures.”

    I have little doubt that such volumes have been written. But the vast bulk of the problems end up being more or less like the ones you raise…fairly easily handled.

    If you don’t think that the items you led with were the toughest problems, what, specifically, do you think are the toughest problems? Let’s say the top three.

  • WisdomLover

    Of course it is incestuous to marry one’s sisters. It probably leads to all sorts of genetic problems in the offspring. Over time, it might even lead to the shortening of the lifespan of the species from 900+ to, say, six score and ten.

    Your objection was the question: “How about the wives of Adam’s sons. Where did they come from?”

    Presumably the answer “from their father and mother” would not have served. Why not? Because, apparently, you thought that the Bible spoke against their having a father and mother.

    You were alleging a contradiction in the Biblical narrative.

    My answer makes that perfectly clear that there is no such contradiction.

    But now you don’t believe that people lived to be 900+

    Is that the new objection?

    Well, if the standard is simply what you don’t believe, why not just say “I don’t believe there was anyone named Adam who is the ancestor of all men.”

    Or even more simply “I don’t believe the Bible is true.”

    The reason you don’t propose those objections to the text is that they are 100% unconvincing to anyone who does accept the Bible for any reason at all.

    The same goes for the fact that you don’t believe that people lived 900 years.

    BTW, the fact that people lived 900+ years isn’t even essential to the specific answer of where the wives came from who married Adam’s sons.

    That answer only narrowly requires that we say that Adam had at least five children: Cain, Abel, Seth, Sister-1 (married to Cain), Sister-2 (married to Seth). Something he could pull off even if he did not live to be 900+.

  • WisdomLover

    Of course there is evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead.

    As for the people that also rose when Jesus rose, I was saying that when the one miracle occurred, the others also occurred. Every one of the resurrections was a miracle. The only reason I can give for those, or any other miracle, is that God thought it would be cool for them to happen.

    Did you suppose that I was proposing some law of nature?

    Unitarians, who reject the Apostle, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds are not Christians. Though I’m sure that many of them are very nice people.

  • WisdomLover

    I never said that miracles are improbable events.

    I said they were unpredictable events…they are not implied by the prior conditions of the universe plus the laws of physics.

    They are not necessarily the only unpredictable events.

    What do you mean when you say a miracle is impossible?

    That it violates the laws of physics?

    My friend, why on earth should a violation of the laws of physics be considered impossible? The fact that the laws of physics are the same today as they were yesterday is what requires explanation. The fact that the laws of physics are they same as they were when you started reading this sentence is what requires explanation.

    Reason does not tell us that it should be so.

    But in any case, miracles need not violate any law of physics. A miraculous event can occur just because the universe is not a closed system.

    A virgin birth that gives rise to a male would still be considered a miracle by anyone.

  • cgosling

    Wisdom Lover – You have well thought out answers to all my comments. I wonder if you can help me understand the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. Did Saul voluntarily choose to be converted, or was he forcibly converted by Jesus. This has always bothered me because I was told choosing Christ was an act of volition by the one who was converting. Saul’s conversion, by all biblical accounts, was forced upon him. Why? Are there other instances of forced and violent conversion? I expect you have already dealt with this subject and know the answer. Thanks.
    Your explanation of the two genealogies is the standard one as is your defense of miracles. Just testing you. Also, apparently it is not sinful or incestuous to marry and bear offspring with ones siblings and close relatives if god gives his blessing. OK, I did not know that.

  • WisdomLover

    Part One

    All science is provisional. We could find out tomorrow that we got everything completely wrong.

    I’m not banking on that, but I am supremely unimpressed by the fact that any theory is ‘proven’ true.

    The age of the earth, as I said before certainly cannot be proven to be anything if there has been a discontinuity in the laws of physics that prevail. And there is no reason at all to suppose that there has not been such a discontinuity. As I noted before, what requires explanation is that there is any continuity in the laws of nature at all.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Two

    But let’s suppose that I stipulate that the universe is a bit or two under 14 billion years old, the sun, earth and moon are all about 4 and a half million years old (with the sun being a tad older than the earth and moon).

    OK, so what?

    This claim, that the age of the earth is in direct contradiction with the Bible. Where do you get that idea?

    If we make certain assumptions that are not made in the text of the Bible, for example, that nothing about the world changed when Man was expelled from Eden, then yes.

    Of course, if we make different assumptions, that everything was changed, then no.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Three

    What in the Biblical text is to prevent a great deal of time passing between the eating of the fruit and the expulsion from Eden? Nearly 14 billion years to choose an example entirely at random. During that time Adam and Eve are frozen, and a home fit for fallen creatures doomed to death is prepared for Adam and Eve. They are then clothed in the skin of animals…not in their hides but in their living physical bodies that had been evolving for them for nearly 4 billion years.

    Am I claiming that’s how it went?

    NO. NO. NO,

    What I am doing is meeting a charge of incompatibility with empirical science. Maybe the two accounts are both true in some other way, or maybe after all the fuss, the empirical account is just wrong.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Four

    Bear in mind that I do not believe the Genesis account because of the great empirical evidence there is for it.

    I doubt that any of the OT Israelites believed the Genesis story because of the fantastic empirical evidence they had for the creation account.

    They believed it because they had good reason to believe Moses who wrote it. They believed Moses because of the Exodus.

    I doubt that Moses himself believed the Genesis story because of any empirical evidence he had for it. He believed because He believed God who guided Him throughout the Exodus.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Five

    Christians today believe the OT, Genesis included, because it’s pretty clear that Christ and the Apostles to whom He gave authority did. And we believe Christ because of the resurrection.

    As long as the Genesis story is logically compatible with what empirical science has to say, then the findings of science are really of very little concern. And that is the position we find ourselves in.

  • WisdomLover

    I decided to proactively beat the spam filter and broke my reply up into five. Once again, they appear in reverse order if you’ve got a “newest first” sorting.

  • WisdomLover

    What exactly was violent or forced about Paul’s conversion? He saw Jesus. And then converted.

    Is it too flip to say that the apparition convinced him that he had been wrong?

    I see Jesus giving a command “get up and go into Damascus where you will be told what to do” and Paul obeying it. But there’s no force in that is there? Paul might just as easily have gone back the other way for all we’re told.

    As for Adam’s sons marrying their sisters, I don’t think the Bible approves that. I think it does imply that it happened. I don’t think we have to assume God gave any blessing at that time. In fact, the only thing I know about is that God cursed man for his sin. Maybe that was part of the curse.

  • cgosling

    Every bible verse I have read about Saul was that he was knocked to the ground and was blinded for several days. He had to be led to Damascus and finally was healed. I could find no trace of Jesus appearing to him, but he claimed to have heard his voice. In no way do the varied bible accounts indicate he voluntarily converted. The poor guy was terrified. He probably felt that he was in for worse if he did not convert.

    As for Adam’s sons marrying their sisters… It appears to me god gave them no choice but to marry their sisters. If a god allows or arranges for something to happen, I would say he is responsible, wouldn’t you?

    Please explain to me why god killed innocent children and pregnant mothers during the time of Noah’s flood. Were the children and fetuses guilty of some kind of sin or did the sins of their parents condemn them? I never could figure that one out, but I am sure you can explain it.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks for dealing with the spam filter. It is a pain for me too.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Lets not get carried away about ‘all science is provisional’. If so, we would not have landed on the moon or have cures for disease. As I explained before, science is not static but builds upon itself and is self correcting. What more can we ask of anything?

  • WisdomLover

    Paul’s Conversion

    Acts 9:

    As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

    It looks to me like Saul fell to the ground on his own…nothing about throwing.

    Although he was blinded, there is no suggestion there that if he would but convert his sight would be returned. As far as Saul would have known at the time, he was blinded permanently in punishment for his persecution of Christians (poor guy). That may be violent (though that’s also a bit strained), but there’s nothing in it to suggest that he was converted violently.

    He was indeed commanded to go on to Damascus, but there is nothing in the passage that suggests he could not disobey.

    1 Corinthians 15:

    He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

    Seeing a lot of appearing going on there, but not much by way of a forced violent conversion.

    Galatians 1:

    For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    Again, nothing about a forced conversion here.

  • WisdomLover

    Cain and Seth’s Wives Redux

    “If a god allows or arranges for something to happen, I would say he is responsible, wouldn’t you?”

    God is responsible for everything. What’s your point?

    The fact that God is responsible for the fact that A does X does not imply that God blesses A in his doing of X.

  • WisdomLover

    Children Killed in the Flood

    God kills everyone. Did He kill the children in the flood any less than the children who die of cancer, or in automobile accidents every day?

    What’s your point? This is the problem of evil.

    There are adequate answers to the problem of evil.

  • cgosling

    The Genesis story is an Iron Age fairly tale. The sequence of events is laughable and in total disorder according to logic and science, unless of course you, once again, suspend science to fit your theology. My Grandmother first read the Genesis story to me when I was seven years old. Twenty years ago I honored her by writing the following poem, which I doubt you have the time to read, but I will include it herein.

    Sitting Next to Grandma

    While sitting next to Grandma as she read to me

    I could tell she loved me, it was plain to see.

    I watched her dear old face as she told me how

    God made the earth for us, it was her solemn vow.

    It all began as a void with waters vast and deep.

    Then light was made before the sun; the Lord was really neat.

    I never quite could understand how this event could be,

    but Grandma read it from the bible that very night to me.

    And then God made the heavens but that confused me so,

    for where had He been before He had a place to go?

    Next came land, then plants according to their kind,

    such wonders of creation really blew my mind.

    But, I will never understand, no matter what they say,

    how plants could grow as they do, without a sunny day.

    But that’s exactly what Grandma read to me from the holy book,

    it was plainly there to read if I would only look.

    Then God made the stars and the planets in the sky.

    The sun and moon soon followed, again up very high.

    I wondered just how God made the light several days ago

    before the sun existed, there was much I did not know.

    All kinds of birds were next and every fish with fin;

    even a few sea monsters He claimed to have thrown in.

    The Lord saw that all was good and was so very proud

    that He created the animals next from His heavenly cloud.

    Grandma said He made all life, so He must have made bacteria,

    those nasty tiny killers that live in my cafeteria.

    Then Grandma read a verse that really made me wonder,

    “Let us make a man to live on the earth down under.”

    Who was this us? I asked Grandma, surely she would know.

    Are there other Gods, as some do claim? I really want to know.

    Grandma said He had some help from angels with great wings.

    Why, I asked, did He need aid from such outlandish things?

    I then asked Grandma if God looked just like me,

    and did He have an organ that He used to pee?

    Or was God a lady and did She have to sit

    whenever She began to feel that it was time for it?

    Grandma stopped her reading; she turned a shade of red.

    I thought for sure that she would decide to send me off to bed.

    She thought a while and then proclaimed, “Of that I have no opinion!”

    She soon went on and read some more, all about dominion.

    We rule the beasts upon this earth and in the sky and sea.

    He commands us, she did say, to subdue all we see;

    to be masters of all creatures and use them as we wish;

    to cook them up for all our meals, they make a tasty dish.

    But when the Lord had worked six days, he was so very tired.

    He had done, with winged help, all that was required.

    So, He blessed the seventh day and took a well-earned rest,

    satisfied, no doubt, that He had done his best.

    Grandma put her bible down and looked at my young face.

    She believed in all that she had read, of doubt there was no trace.

    But in my mind at that early age I just could not conceive

    how the stories that my Grandma read could really be believed.

    I went to bed that very night and thought about creation

    and wondered if they believed that story in every other nation.

    Do all good folk believe the book she read with such conviction,

    or do they read from their own books of faith and superstition?

    Now that many years have passed and I have learned so much,

    I look back upon my youth and Grandma’s loving touch.

    Although she believed with all her heart, she really did not know

    the truth about how life began and how it still does grow.

    She thought that God had a chosen few and that the end was near.

    She did her best to instill in me that belief she held so dear.

    She tried to teach me to fear God and of the sin I bear,

    Adam’s sin passed down to me and all of us to share.

    What Adam did with Eve that day they falsely had been blamed,

    for if God had made them what they were, they did as He ordained.

    So now when I think of Grandma’s God and His threat of hell,

    I know it’s just a fairy tale that works, as does a spell.

    When I have kids like Mom and Dad, I’ll make sure they have

    a true idea about their lives, both the good and bad.

    Thank you Grandma for being you, and for loving me.

    You made me think about this world and who I soon would be.

  • WisdomLover

    I’m not saying that science is bad or unuseful. But the phrase “scientifically proven” has no great allure to me. There are all sorts of proofs many much more reliable than scientific ones.

    I note that you have studiously avoided the issues I have raised to which science can have no answers.

    I’ve answered a lot of your questions about the Bible now. Why don’t you return the courtesy and just answer this one:

    Why are the laws of nature the same on the other side of my kitchen?

    I mean, if the laws are the product of an intelligent God who made us and wants the laws to be discoverable by us, then I understand why that should be so.

    Barring that, it seems to be a remarkable fact that makes science possible but there is not a blessed reason to believe it must be so.

  • WisdomLover

    Thanks for the poem. An atheist manifesto in verse.

    I could, of course, answer its disingenuous charges, but I think I’ve already indulged you quite enough on that front.

    Why don’t you, instead, do me the courtesy of answering one of my questions:

    Why are the laws of nature the same on the other side of my kitchen?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I have a published book of secular poems I promise not to send to you.
    My poem simply points out the incorrect SEQUENCE of events as written in the bible. I know you think the All Mighty can alter science as he wishes so I won’t debate the point.

    Now, on to your last question: Why are both sides of your kitchen in compliance with the laws of nature? I really don’t know for sure if they are, but I would guess they are, as would everyone else. Here is my answer… If both sides of your kitchen are on the planet earth, the laws of nature are valid for both sides. I know this is a trick question, so I eagerly await your answer.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Science works for me, and I expect it works for you exactly the way it does for me. Perhaps I should define what I mean by science: “Science is knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation which must be confirmed by all research on a particular subject.” Again, science can be wrong and have to be corrected as new evidence is discovered. Science is not infallible or perfect by any means, but it is the best standard we have for knowing the truth about the world we live in. I remain ready to admit I have had to change certain beliefs I thought were true but have since been updated and/or corrected. I have often been wrong in my judgements and have endeavored to correct them as needed. It is something we all must do.

  • WisdomLover

    I did not ask whether the laws of physics are the same on both sides of my kitchen.

    I asked why?

  • WisdomLover

    “it (science) is the best standard we have for knowing the truth about the world we live in.”

    That’s an interesting claim.

    How do you know it is true?

    Why is it true?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Of course I do not believe the bible is true. I thought you knew I am a skeptic and only believe if I have good evidence. My correspondence with you confirms my past experience with other literal bible believers. Only, you are by far the most creative. You are able to answer questions that other believers have stumbled on. You have replied to my questions in unique ways which have totally surprised me. Fascinating! I appreciate your efforts to explain and justify your beliefs.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Interesting. If you believe in one miracle, why not believe in two, or three or a million? It is good logic.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Moses is a fictional character and the Exodus never occurred. There is no evidence so I cannot believe. Speaking of Moses and the early Israelis, can you explain why circumcision was commanded by god? I always wondered about that.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. By the way, I have ben told by every Evangelical I have ever talked or written to that the earth is a young earth, around 6 thousand years old, as verified by the bible. Set me straight on the age of the earth. How old is it?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Great answer about the age of the earth. I never would have thought of that. You are an original thinker.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – As I explained many times before, Science is provisional and self correcting and the reason why we reached the moon and have cured many diseases and why we are able to communicate on the internet. That is pretty good evidence that science is the best way to understand our world and universe and ourselves.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – What are the proofs that are more reliable than scientific proofs? And,why do you think they are proofs?

  • WisdomLover

    Not what I said. It is true that the fact of one miracle settles the question of the possibility of miracles.

  • WisdomLover

    Mathematical and logical proofs, just to name two examples.

  • WisdomLover

    So a thing is true just in case belief in it can be used to do things?

  • WisdomLover

    Hardly. Lots of people have thought of that. I imagine that anyone who has understood and reflected on the continuity of natural law eventually gets around to that.

  • WisdomLover

    I should have thought that you would know my answer by now.

    The Bible itself does not require that the earth be any particular age. It cannot be younger than 6000 years (give or take). But it could be older. There are lots of places where the passage of time is not so precisely specified. For example, how long were Adam and Eve in Eden before the Fall? We don’t actually know that. I’ve gotten into arguments about it, of course. But as usual, the arguers don’t take into account that everything changed after the Fall.

    As for the science, again, the continuity of natural law is needed to calculate the age of the earth. But the continuity of natural law is precisely what is rejected in what the Bible has to say about the Fall.

    Now why don’t we get back to that question. Why are the laws of nature continuous. Why are they the same at the other side of my kitchen?

  • WisdomLover

    I did not ask you to believe on the basis of Moses and the Exodus. I said that the ancient Israelites, who lived thousands of years closer to the event than you, believed on the basis of Moses.

    I’d be glad to explain circumcision, but why not first answer my question?

    Why are the laws of physics the same on the other side of my kitchen?

  • Delon Duvenage

    being a true Christian means you walk a knifes edge , I agree with you that the church has become a monster but the moment you try and say an abomination is actually ok ….
    sorry there I cannot agree, let us be careful when trying to find balance not to tip the scale to the complete other end , the law is still the law and for good reason

  • WisdomLover

    I knew you were a skeptic from post one.

    My point was that you were making a claim about the coherency of the Biblical narrative. I answered that by pointing out other aspects of that narrative that relieved the tension you thought you had found.

    You then objected that you don’t believe in those aspects of the narrative that I used to relieve the incoherency you thought you’d spotted.

    It is as if someone were criticizing Hamlet because the so-called hero kills His poor uncle Claudius for no reason at all.

    A Shakespeare lover could easily answer this by pointing out that the ghost of Hamlet’s father told Hamlet how Claudius had killed him by pouring poison in his ear as he slept. Hamlet then staged a play for his uncle that re-enacted the murder (with the names changed) exactly as the ghost had described it. Claudius was clearly frightened and vexed by the play thereby confirming the ghost’s story to Hamlet. Acting upon his vexation Claudius later confessed the crime aloud during a prayer. He was observed by Hamlet doing this.

    Now, instead of saying “Oh I see, OK I can understand why Hamlet killed his uncle” the Shakespeare objector says “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

    What kind of response would that be?

    One that misses the point both of the answer and of the original objection in the most ham-fisted way imaginable.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You claim one miracle settles the question of miracles? Hah! I am still waiting for that first miracle. All claims of miracles have to be individually and fairly evaluated. Just because a so called miracle appears in a religious book of legends, it does not mean that a miracle is or was a real event. I need proof, as do most reasonable people. So far, no miracles have ever been documented by scientific inquiry, which is the standard of proof for all but a few religious radicals like yourself. For example, although there have been numerous studies about the efficacy of miraculous healing prayer over the years, not a single study has found a prayer caused miracle cure. Either god is not listening or bothering to answer, or he/ she/it/they do not exist . The he/she/it/they reference refers to the many pronouns used for god(s) in the past and present.

  • cgosling

    Unitarians do not have an impossible dogma they must believe, and some even do not believe in a personal deity but rather a spirit of nature. They are not only nice people, they are usually educated and non superstitious. For those who have difficulties with bible atrocities and contradictions, and requirements that members believe in supernatural events, the Unitarian church is the answer.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You say your god kills little children in their mother’s womb. This god of yours is certainly a cruel and heartless deity, and not one I could believe in.

  • cgosling

    Dear WisdomLover – I hope you can answer these two questions I have about the Hebrew’s Exodus. Why did the jews decide to circumcise their baby boys. and Why is there a rule about not eating pork. Were those rules from god or human sources and what good did the laws do.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Your references about the great bard left me confused, but thanks for the effort.
    The contradictory stories concerning the Christ’s missing body from his tomb have always bothered me. If one miracle allows for other miracles, likewise does one contradiction allow for more contradictions? These different stories can’t possibly all be true. In your estimation, which is the true story?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Congratulations! Your are correct, the earth is ancient. But then, alas, you say it could go the other way. I guess you are not sure about earth science and the age of the earth after all. As my poem indicates the bible creation sequence is totally crazy and reflects the ignorance of Iron Age science.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – If an all powerful god allows an atrocity, such as killing fetuses and newborns during the great flood, then he is responsible for that atrocity. That is simple logic. Unless, of course, this is another instance where a non empathetic deity suspends logic and his responsibility to his innocent children. In your view, god can do any atrocity and never accept the blame. The great flood devastation of innocents was one of the many reasons I rejected belief in a heartless deity.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – accepting Saul’s revelation is like accepting the word of criminal who swears he is not a criminal. And, after receiving a blinding flash of light Saul fell to the ground. Don’t you suspect the blinding flash of light had something to do with his falling, or did he fall for no reason, maybe he just liked falling as he traveled. Being blinded by a god sent flash is violent, is it not?

  • WisdomLover

    Gee, I don’t know what made him fall to the ground. The text doesn’t actually say. How do you know (seeing as the text doesn’t say)?

    And the question isn’t whether there was violence.

    The question was whether he was forcibly converted by violence. A claim for which there is zero support.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You asked Why are the laws of physics the same on both sides of your kitchen. This is a crazy question that I already answered but here goes again. The laws of physics are the same because both sides of your kitchen are located on the planet earth and subject to the same natural laws. Perhaps the laws of Physics differ in space or in other universes, but I’ll bet that both sides of your kitchen are in this universe and subject to its laws.
    Here is another question for you: Why did god order the Israelites to circumcise their male babies? I am sure you have an answer.

  • WisdomLover

    I believe I began my remark with “God kills everyone”.

    What exactly is your point here?

    That the world contains evil?

    God created the world and all the evil in it.

    That is the problem of evil, a problem that has been raised, of course, but for which there are multiple adequate answers that I won’t go into here.

  • WisdomLover

    Your poem raised no cogent objection to the most boneheaded Creationist imaginable.

    =================================

    Did I once claim to be certain about the age of the earth?

    No, in fact I think I’ve largely said “Don’t know, don’t care?”

    I’ve also noted that I don’t actually think it is possible to calculate the age of the earth without assuming the continuity of natural law…a point you’ve repeatedly failed to address.

    The continuity of natural law is a thesis that no atheist has the intellectual right to assume.

    Theists do have the right to assume it. But if they have reason to think that there was at some point a discontinuity, then all projection into the past becomes questionable at that point of discontinuity.

  • WisdomLover

    Yes of course, the Hamlet analogy was sooo confusing.

    And no, I’m not going to start answering objections about so-called contradictions about the resurrection narrative (thought they are childishly easy to answer) in response to a post about Adam’s children.

    Especially if that Hamlet story confuses you. I’d probably clear up all the contradictions just to have you respond “Jesus is a legend”.

  • WisdomLover

    God is too mean to exist?

    Did you really just write that?

  • WisdomLover

    More reason to agree with me that they are not Christians…though they are, I am sure, nice enough people.

  • WisdomLover

    The first miracle is the mere fact that anything happens at all.

    You see, the laws of nature do not imply the existence of anything for them to govern.

    The stuff for the laws to govern had to come from outside the system.

    Interference with the system of nature is what a miracle is.

    Miracles are manifestly possible.

  • cgosling

    WisdomeLover – humans can accomplish things and offer proofs by using accumulated science, inspiration and creativity.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Mathematics and logic are inherent in scientific proofs. No argument here. The scientific process includes testing, peer review, more testing and more peer review, etc. Some of our cherished scientific truths have had to be revised and even rejected. Most science is provisional. That is the reason it (the scientific process) is the most reliable source of new knowledge.

  • cgosling

    The resurrection narrative contains several contradicting stories which cannot all be true. If one is correct, then the rest are not true. Is this why you refuse to discus them? I suggest Christians compare the accounts concerning this issue for themselves. May common sense and logic rule.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I lost you on your comment, “Stuff outside the system”. What stuff and what system are you refering to?

  • cgosling

    I have no idea what you mean by stuff from outside the system.

  • WisdomLover

    I refuse to discuss them because this cannot be a one way interrogation.

  • WisdomLover

    “The laws of physics are the same because both sides of your kitchen are located on the planet earth and subject to the same natural laws.”

    You.have.got.to.be.kidding.

    Don’t you realize that you just said that the laws are the same because they are?

  • WisdomLover

    Of course not. If you did, you’d have to abandon your cherished beliefs.

  • WisdomLover

    The system is the universe. Which is a system of matter governed by natural law (at least according to you).

    The trouble is that those laws have nothing to say about how much mattee exists, if any.

    Something else had to determine that.

  • WisdomLover

    As I said before in one of the other comment threads attached to this blog Post by Matthew, I am not interested in our conversation becoming an endless one-way interrogation of me by you. But I do recall saying, after answering some of your challenges, that since those are the one’s you led with they must be what you considered the toughest.

    At that point you said, no, they’re just the ones you came up with off the top of your head.

    OK, fine.

    Then I asked you about the top three that you really did consider toughest.

    Is that what these two are? Two of your actual top three challenges? Male circumcision and the proscription of pork?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – If you are not interested in the reason why circumcision was adopted and why Jews don’t eat pork, I won’t burden you with the information. I thought your inquisitive mind would like to know the real reason rather than accepting the biblical explanation. I am disappointed and surprised at your lack of interest. Oh Well! I have encountered other closed minds who rather not be confronted with anything that disagrees with their entrenched beliefs. May I suggest that new knowledge is good in that it challenges old beliefs and gives us a chance to alter and add to our knowledge.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks for the corrention concerning the Bronze and Iron Ages. Actually, they originated in different parts of the world at different times by different cultures totally separated from each other. The Iron Age brought advances and knowledge unknown to the tribes of the Bronze Age. Much changed in time, except supernatural beliefs which remain the same now as they were then. I wonder why everything changes except belief in the supernatural.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You are correct, science does not have all the answers about the universe, and never will. For example, science cannot answer why the universe /matter/time exist. These questions are not pertinent to science.

    As for abandoning cherished beliefs: I have done that as a youth as I gradually learned about evolution and other aspects of science. It was tough, it confused and distressed me that trusted parents and family and friends had misinformed me.They meant well but had been indoctrinated in their youth and did not have the opportunity or inclination to doubt and question parents and other adults. They meant well, as you do, but they were unaware of scientific facts, and refused to compromise their faith.

  • cgosling

    WisdomeLover – Apparently, both sides of your kitchen are in perfect sync with the laws of nature, at least on the planet earth. (You have already tried to explain it all to me.) I have no problem with that and further theological musings are of no interest to me.

  • cgosling

    WisdomeLover – In my youth, I abandoned my cherished beliefs in the light of new and compelling scientific evidence. I stand ready to do the same again when and if I get new evidence. May I suggest you consider doing the same?

  • WisdomLover

    It’s not that I lack interest. I’ve answered a lot of your questions. But I want to know that there’s a point.

    Are your interests in pork and circumcision really two of your top three objections to the Bible, or will I answer, then in turn be given more backhanded compliments on my mental agility only to be peppered with more concerns?

    (All the while with your best answer to my question about why the laws of nature are the same on both sides of my kitchen hanging out there as “because they are”.)

  • WisdomLover

    Based on your poem, my friend, no you didn’t abandon any cherished beliefs. You had the cherished beliefs you still have. They just weren’t the same as Grandma’s.

  • WisdomLover

    “For example, science cannot answer why the universe /matter/time exist. These questions are not pertinent to science.”

    Again. This response is a joke. Of course those questions are pertinent to science.

    What could be more pertinent than the basis for believing in the very thing that science claims to be talking about and needs to assume to proceed for even one second in its methods?

    Science cannot answer the questions, but it is foolish and irrational to suppose that answers are not needed…especially by scientists.

    I’m sorry, but if you don’t think that you need answers to these questions, then it is you, my friend, who works from ignorance and superstition.

  • cgosling

    OK WisdomeLover – I’m sorry but you have confirmed what I always suspected…The only explanations you accept about anything must be in accordance with your personal interpretation of your chosen sciptures. All things in science and world knowledge including other faiths must conform or agree with your personal interpretation of Bronze-Age superstition. WOW! Do you have any doubts at all? Are you open to new revelations, and how would you know they are true or false.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Interesting comment. In my youth I believed; I prayed sincerely to the point of tears on occasion; I asked to be forgiven of my sins; and I loved Jesus, as I was thought in church and by my Grandmother. But gradually, as I grew up and learned about biology, I began to have my doubts about some bible claims. Biology courses in high-school finally convinced me that the bible was not literally true, although I recognized there were some common and good moral values in it, not unlike other religions and secular organizations. My thesis is to accept what makes sense and works to better society, and myself, whether it comes from Christianity, philosophy, or any other religion. I try to keep my mind open to new ideas and evaluate them. I have learned much just by conversing with you and considering your theology. I hope some of my explanations and criticisms will do you some good in the future, but by now, I expect you are cemented into your faith and will not be able to alter it. Closing the door on science is a grave mistake.

  • WisdomLover

    WL: I’m not terribly vexed about the OT command of circumcision or prohibition of pork. (There’s just not much that needs explaining there. Obviously both are important in Hebrew religious observances and later Christian theology, but if you want to know why those rules and not others, there’s not much to explain.)

    CG: I’m not terribly vexed about the uniformity of nature (In spite of the fact that it is a presupposition of all scientific thought and I think science is the only source of knowledge.)

    One of us is working off superstition. And it ain’t me.

  • WisdomLover

    After all that build-up on pork and circumcision you’ve said nothing about it? Did you really ever have anything to say? Or was it just more shifting of goalposts?

  • cgosling

    I know the reasons societies practiced circumcism and why there were pork restrictions but you said you were not interested, so forget it. I agree that religious laws are often reflective of real social problems. In order to solve a problem it is sometimes more effective to say the solution was a godly commandment rather than give the real reason. Actually this approach was often the best way to solve a problem in ancient societies. But today, I’d rather base my behavior on physical and social science instead of stoning people to death on the say of a religious leader.

  • cgosling

    The Hebrew laws concerning not consuming pork and practicing circumcision had actual social, health and migration origins, of which you don’t seem to be interested, other than god commanded it. The Hebrew leaders realized there were problems and took action. Claiming laws are passed down from gods is more effective than saying they are from man alone. Don’t get me wrong, not all religious laws and practices make sense.

  • WisdomLover

    Circumcision, even today in modern hospitals, is a bit iffy on the health benefits. Apparently penile cancer starts in the foreskin, so you avoid that. But that form of cancer is incredibly rare anyway. Infection is not. And infection is a much bigger problem in a bronze age society.

    As for pork, did you think it was some sort of revelation that pork carries some diseases (notably trichinosis)? Would a command to cook the pork well solve the problem.

    It is true that in a nomadic society, pork is a poor choice for livestock. But it seems no law against pork consumption would be needed…no one would be raising pork, so there would be no way to eat it.

    Of course, I’ve heard the health arguments before from people who think it shows God’s wisdom that He commanded circumcision and no pork.

    I’m as unimpressed by that as I am by the idea that the priests did it for the supposed health benefits and attributed it to God…especially when it comes to circumcision which probably has no health benefit.

    These were sacramental practices of the Hebrews…that’s it.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – As often happens in history, national policy and religious law are not always guided by logic or scientific proof. (Clue to the answer about circumcision and pork questions). We would be better off if all our beliefs and practices made good sense and had good foundation. I’m glad you are actively thinking about, and hopefully researching, why and how religious and civil laws have come to be. It is easy to claim a law or policy came in a flash of lighting, so it must not be questioned. I prefer to question everything and be selective in my resulting beliefs. It makes no sense to believe in something without at least trying to verify its accuracy. You have certain beliefs which you believe to be devinely inspired, but so does every other religion that ever existed upon this earth. Of course each religion believes it is right and the others are wrong. Unfortunately, blind faith resolves any contradictions.

  • WisdomLover

    There is no comprehensive set of beliefs for which every claim is verified, many might not even be verifiable.

    One accepts all the beliefs, though, because they form a coherent whole and one does have verification for many and the most important of the beliefs.

    Christianity is no exception to this rule.

    I don’t expect to get proof that God commanded the rules on pork and circumcision. I accept those rules were commanded as a sacramental practice because I accept a Biblical worldview for other reasons (e.g. the resurrection of Christ).

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover- You wrote… One accepts all beliefs because “ they form a coherent whole.” (Confusing) You also claim there is “verification for many and the most important of the beliefs” (meaning Your religion?) In fact, all religions contradict each other. Because we find some truths and falsehoods in all religions that does not mean they, or any single one, is always true or false. I personally believe there are truths and good values present in all religions, but, this does this mean any one is truer or better than the rest. Can you give me a listing of religions from the truest to the least truest? Our personal biases, by birth or conversion, solidify our current beliefs and make contrary beliefs seem wrong. But who is going to judge? You?

  • WisdomLover

    Who is going to judge?
    Part Four

    “Who is going to judge?” is really a stupid question.

    Obviously, each person has to judge for themselves, and each person has to accept the fact that they might get it wrong.

    And as for settling disputes, unless we are under some imminent threat, the only answer is that we just have to keep arguing until we get tired or come to agreement.

    BTW…On a different though related matter, I’m sorry that you find it difficult to understand how one comes to accept a theory.

    It seems to me that you find an awful lot of things confusing.

  • WisdomLover

    Who is going to judge?
    Part Three

    “Well, you might say, Eratosthenes did these measurements of shadows…”

    Oh yeah, who died and made Eratosthenes God? Why should he be the one ‘who is going to judge’?

    For that matter, ‘who is going to judge’ just exactly ‘who is going to judge’?

    And ‘who is going to judge’ by what methodology anyone ‘is going to judge’?

  • WisdomLover

    Who is going to judge?
    Part Two

    You know, there are at least two incompatible views about the shape of the earth.

    Does that make all views about the shape of the earth false?

    No, obviously the earth is round. The learned have known this since well before Christ (and have even had a pretty good idea how big around it is).

    Still the disagreement exists between flat-earthers and round-earthers.

    ‘Who is going to judge’ between the views?

  • WisdomLover

    Who is going to judge?
    Part One

    Well, that’s pretty sophomoric.

    The fact that two views contradict doesn’t make them both false.

    The fact that two views contradict and I cannot point to an arbiter ‘who is going to judge’ doesn’t make them both false.

    It doesn’t even make the judgement difficult.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You are right, I am confused about many things and that is why I continue to learn as much as I can and approach new evidence with an open mind. I don’t judge unless I have evidence, and even then, I am always ready to alter my most cherishd beliefs when and if I have to. (I explained all of this to you before.) As for disputes, I consider it a waste of time to keep arguing until I get tired. I am always prepared to admit I am wrong, unlike those whose beliefs are based solely upon faith.
    Concerning theories: Some are wrong and some are eventually proven to be true, like the biological evolution of life. I recall that you do not believe in evolution and consider yourself a Creationist. That is amazing to me. You seem to be an intelligent and inquisitive person. A person who is unable to analyze new information and reject outdated information is destined to live in the past.
    I wonder, which is more important to you, religious faith or basic science? Which of the two could humanity best do without? People cannot be Creationists and accept basic science, unless they are fooling themselves.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Two contradictory views do not absolutely mean both are false, but they do mean at least one is definately false, (Creationism and biological evolution.)

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You are wrong about the shape of the earth. The earth is not round, it is closer to being ellipsoid and even then its ellipsoid shape bulges at the equator and constantly changes its shape. As I have said many times before, we must be able to accept new knowledge and reject old beliefs when necessary. Science is amazing, is it not?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Who is going to judge, and by what methodology? That’s an easy question. Judgements are made routinely by juries and judges based upon verifiable facts, but not faith.

  • WisdomLover

    Judges should decide on the shape of the earth?

    That sounds anything but easy my friend.

    I think you have lost your way.

  • WisdomLover

    Very nice pedantic correction.

    Yes, of course it’s closer to ellipsoid than spherical. It’s not ellipsoid either of course, what with all those bumps and divots in it, like Mt. Everest and the Marianas Trench and what not. Still…closer to ellipsoid.

    Tell me though, is it closer to round than flat?

  • WisdomLover

    Then why do you assume that the fact that religions make conflicting claims that they are all false? The fact that there are conflicting religions is not even relevant to the question of whether there is a true religion.

  • WisdomLover

    I’m sorry, when did I ever say that I disbelieve in the evolution of life? Perhaps the most critical thing you’ve heard me say about evolution is “I don’t care”. As truly I don’t. Nothing in my life is altered in the slightest by its truth or falsehood.

    Why not turn your vaunted desire for learning to the words I’ve actually written rather than using the word “Creationist” as a shibboleth?

    I think I spent considerable effort (and succeeded) arguing that evolution and an old earth is logically compatible with the Bible. There endeth my interest in the question. I don’t have to give up the current most likely verdict of my senses and those of my fellow creatures to believe in the Bible. And I don’t have to give up the best extant account of the Necessary Being in order to believe in the possibility of evolution..

    Religion or science is a false dichotomy.

    My friend, your every passing word makes it clearer and clearer that you have a religion complete with sacred mysteries. That’s because people have religions…whether they like it or not.

    And people have always done science. That’s because science is nothing more than the careful application of experience, testimony, guesswork and reason. These have been with us from the start.

    What is more, the two are linked. There are assumptions made by scientific methodologies that are religious in nature.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Perhaps I did not make myself clear, I’m sorry I misunderstood. I was under the impression that you believed god created everything, matter, time, and life from a void according to a schedule plainly set out in the Bible called the Creation story. The Hebrew and Christian scriptures claim the earth is young, about eight thousand years young and god created humans as the first life and then followed with the rest of animals and plants. However, the sequence of events in the creation story makes no sense and is contrary to established science and common sense, as I already pointed out. Yet, you will not admit the literal creation story is false, the result of superstition and ignorance. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, you try to play your cards so as not to offend Creationists. You say the evolution of an old earth is compatible with the Bible. Creationists vehemently dispute that claim. Be brave, come on out and say evolution proves the creation story is utterly misconceived and wrong. Creationists are convinced that you are totally wrong and evolution is not true. Perhaps you are a believer in intelligent design. If so, you are still contradicting the literal creation story and what creationists sincerely believe.
    Science is much more than the careful application of experience, testimony, guesswork and reason as you wrote. Science is the fair consideration of all facts and theories; the effort to vigorously prove and/or disprove all the facts and theories; the effort to test and retest before believing anything is true; and then, once proven, science means that persons will give up their most cherished beliefs in the light of new and better facts and theory. You want your cake and eat it too. I have met many perssons such as you, who are torn between blind acceptance of the bible and the truth found by the scientific method. I respect the fact that you are an intelligent person doing your best to reconcile superstition and science. I suspect most Christians and Jews endeavor to do that. The ones who cannot, end up being nominal believers or actually leave their religion.

  • cgosling

    WisdomeLover – Scientists are better judges on scientific matters than you or I, but they do make our own judgements concerning science anf fable easier.

  • WisdomLover

    Of course I believe that God created the world per Genesis.

    I also believe that the Eden-world described there followed an entirely different set o f natural laws. So any effort to discover what the Eden-world was like by empirical science is bound to failure.

    New laws that include things like the second law of thermodynamics began to prevail after Adam’s sin. These laws all imply the death of man and the ultimate destruction of the universe.

    There are several hiatuses in the Biblical narrative such that the world could be virtually any age you like. The Biblical account implies that the world is no younger than several thousand years. It could be as much older as you like.

    It so happens that one of those hiatuses in the Biblical narrative occurs between the Fall and the arrival of Man in the world beyond Eden.

    I am now going to identify a particular claim:

    The entire saga of the big bang and cosmological development including the evolutionary development of life on this world occurred in between the time when Adam fell and the time when he was expelled from Eden. After Adam was expelled from Eden, God clothed him in the flesh of an evolved animal in this world ruled by laws that imply the death and destruction of the universe and everything in it.

    For simplicity, let’s call this claim X.

    I do not claim that X is true.

    Still, if X were true, then every word of Genesis would be true and everything we think we know about the universe and mankind by empirical science would also be true.

    But do we know that X is true?

    No, of course not. But that is not what I am arguing for.

    I am arguing for the much less ambitious claim that the Biblical narrative is compatible with empirical science. If the two are compatible, then no one is rationally compelled to give up one in favor of the other.

    That is to say, that I am arguing for the claim that it is logically possible for empirical science to be correct in all its claims and for the words of Genesis to be true in its claims.

    All that’s needed for that much less ambitious effort if for the claim-X to be logically possible. Claim-X does not need to be true or even likely to support what I am arguing for…mere logical possibility will do.

    But it is quite clearly the case that X is logically possible.

    As such the claims of Genesis and the claims of empirical science are quite compatible with one another. There’s no reason for a person who accepts one to give up the other.

  • WisdomLover

    So now scientists are going to judge?

    Which is it? Judges and juries or scientists?

    You’re all over the map here.

    But just to let you know, scientists do not determine what the methodology of science is using the methodology of science.

    (And if they did, their judgement would be based on circular reasoning.)

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – In leagle matters, Judges and juries are usually selected after careful consideration of applicants. Some are dismisssed and some are chosen. it is far from a perfect method, but so far it is the best we have. in scientific matters, scientists judge themselves, their theories and their facts. It is called peer review and It works pretty well. Scientists usually are their own hardest critics. In public matters it is the voters who do the judging of the candidates and new policies. Unfortunately, this does not work all the time. I thought you would know all of this.

  • cgosling

    WisdomeLover – Thanks again for your effort to explain your methodology, but I remain humbly confused. It seems to me that logical possibility is far from actual scientific proof.

  • WisdomLover

    And who decided all this? Who are any of these people to judge?

  • WisdomLover

    Yes. Whenever a point is proven, I note that you become very confused.

  • WisdomLover

    All I know is that you fielded the silly question “Who is to judge between religions”

    I noted that that’s silly when applied to anything at all, including religions.

    You then answer that judges and juries judge.

    When I pointed out that that’s silly, you then said that scientists judge.

    When I pointed out that that’s also silly, you now suggest judges and juries judge on legal matters, scientists on scientific matters and voters on public[?] matters.

    But the basic problems remain.

    We call scientists because they do judge in scientific matters using a certain methodology. But I took your question “who is to judge?” to mean “who should judge?” not “who does judge?”

    Why should the people who we call scientists make the judgments using the methodology that they use?

    Ditto for judges and juries. Ditto for voters.

    And ditto for the fact that we can’t justify the use of the scientific method, the adversarial judicial system or democratic voting to judge whether those methods are the right methods to use by those very methods. The scientific method is not justified by the scientific method, but by some extra-scientific argument. No judge and jury judged for us that we would use judges and juries. Majority rule is not justified by the vote of the majority. And to speak of religion. No Papal declaration gives the Bible or the Pope, or any religious tome or leader authority.

    All that any of us can do is argue with each other until we come to agreement. And if we don’t come to agreement, then we won’t be able to do those things, science, law, government, religion (or whatever), together.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You wrote, “All that any of us can do is argue with each other until we come to some kind of agreement. And if we don’t come to agreement, then we won’t be able to do things, science, law, government, religion (or whatever), together.” Yours is a harsh statement that dooms us to continued argument , conflict and war. I am more optimistic than you are. I believe through patience, understanding and documented evidence, we can resolve most human disagreements and eventually arrive at agreements, or at least compromises, even though they may be temporary and not totally satisfactory. It is true, we cannot have everything our way but patience and resolution have their rewards.
    However, if we believe by faith alone, chances are we may not be open to revision of our beliefs. Are you ready to reject your most cherished beliefs in the light of new and convincing evidence? I doubt it. If, on the other hand, we base our beliefs upon scientific discovery and established evidence, we can alter our views as new and better evidence becomes available. That is the essence of scientific inquiry and reason. Change must be inevitable and welcome. Dogmatic righteousness is what causes conflict because there are some people who will never admit they are or have been wrong. How sad.

  • cgosling

    You may be right about my confusion to what you write, but on the other hand my confusion may be due to your incomprehensible mutterings.

  • WisdomLover

    “I believe through patience, understanding and documented evidence, we can resolve most human disagreements and eventually arrive at agreements, or at least compromises, even though they may be temporary and not totally satisfactory.”

    Ummm…how is that different from arguing until you come to an agreement?

    “However, if we believe by faith alone, chances are we may not be open to revision of our beliefs. Are you ready to reject your most cherished beliefs in the light of new and convincing evidence? I doubt it.”

    What is the basis of that doubt?

    My guess is that it’s based on nothing but prejudice.

    Over my life I’ve changed all sorts of cherished beliefs.

    Some I haven’t.

    Whether I will change my belief depends on the presentation of relevant argument. The whole religion=superstition riff you’ve got going in your remarks here, of course, is not anything like a relevant argument.

    “If, on the other hand, we base our beliefs upon scientific discovery and established evidence, we can alter our views as new and better evidence becomes available. That is the essence of scientific inquiry and reason.”

    Uh huh…it is too bad, though, that there are all sorts of things that aren’t discovered that way. Things without which scientific discovery and the (empirical) establishment of evidence are utterly impossible.

  • WisdomLover

    Ah…at last the mask lifts. Thanks.

    But I’ll stick with my theory.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I am glad to hear that over your life you have changed “all sorts of cherished beliefs.” But, have you changed any religious beliefs, concerning bible miracles and superstition since you were young? Or, have those beliefs remained constant and unchangable? I suspect you are reluctant to change any of your religious beliefs, but I may be wrong. I expectantly await your reply.

    I do believe that religion does not necessarily have to equate with superstition, but for Creationists it does. They usually are unable to adjust, revise or correct. My conversations with you lead me to believe that you do not take the bible literally, for example, the creation story word for word. At one time in your life (possibly your youth) you may have believed it word for word, but I cannot believe you still do. Please tell me you don’t. The general message that god created everything is understandable for true believers, but that doesn’t mean they believe he did it in the sequence as written in the scriptures. Read the creation story again and see if there is anything in it that you doubt. Surely you don’t believe everything, do you?

  • WisdomLover

    I see, in order to count as having changed a cherished belief it is necessary to change one of the beliefs you want me to change.

    I know you get confused easily, but did you actually think that the don’t-know-don’t-care position I sketched out regarding creation/evolution is something I learned in Sunday School? To recap, my view is that the two accounts are logically compatible. Because of this, it is not necessary to choose between them or even care much about how the nitty-gritty details of either one gets worked out (of course, you are free to believe one or the other or both and care about the details of one or the other or both).

    I’m not the first or only person to have come to this kind of realization (Augustine, at least, beat me by centuries…though he was not contrasting creation to evolution, but to the view that the world all came into existence in a moment). So I could have been taught the view that I hold now early on; that could have been my cherished belief all along. But few people actually are taught that view ealy on. And, I guarantee you, it’s not what I learned at my mother’s knee.

    So I changed my views about creation/evolution to the don’t-know-don’t-care view.

    Do I get to call that a cherished belief that I changed? Does that pass your test? Or am I still a benighted fundie?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – First of all: I do not want you to change any of your cherished beliefs. I just asked if you had. Secondly: You say the world came into existence in a moment. I doubt it. More likely, it took many billions of years as astronomers and physicists believe.
    Thirdly: Your “don’t know-don’t care”philosophy is a “cop-out”. There are many things we don’t know, but should care about and be interested in for the good of human kind. Fourthly: you say your two views of the creation story are logically compatible. That is an impossibility if the views contradict each other.
    Fifthly: You ask me if your don’t- know-don’t-care view passes my test about rejecting cherished beliefs in the light of new evidence. My answer is NO, of course not, but it tells me you are, at least, thinking about it. I’m satisfied.

  • WisdomLover

    Firstly, you don’t want to count any significant change in belief that is not a change in religious beliefs, preferably about miracles, as a change in cherished beliefs…that’s where you shifted that particular goalpost. Don’t bother denying it now.

    Secondly, dude, learn to read. Augustine was dealing with the issue of whether it is possible that the world came into existence in a moment and whether that is compatible with the Genesis account. His answer was like mine in that he argued that the two accounts are compatible, and that there’s no need to choose between the accounts for that reason. That’s all.

    Thirdly, evolution is certainly not one of the things I think we need to care about for the good of mankind.

    Does the belief in evolution feed anyone? Clothe anyone? Cure any diseases?

    No.

    It’s scientific esoterica. Maybe it provides some people with a form of entertainment. If you like it, I’m not stopping you from studying it. Nice hobby if it interests you. Like stamp collecting.

    Fourthly, I didn’t just say that evolution and Genesis are logically compatible. I proved that they are logically compatible. I did this by telling a logically consistent story that included both the claims of the Genesis account and the claims of evolution. Because I proved this, no, they are not logically contradictory. Though I know that might confuse you.

    Fifthly, when I was 15, I had the belief that a seven-day creation interpretation of Genesis is true and evolution is therefore false. When I was 35, I had the belief that the Genesis account is compatible with the evolutionary account. This change occurred largely because I got better at reading literature (including, though not limited to, the Bible), not because I felt particularly forced into the new view by the claims of evolution.

    But, according to your test I did not change a cherished belief at any time between my 15th and 35th birthdays.

    It follows that your test is saying that either:

    1. I didn’t cherish the original belief, so changing the belief is not a change of cherished belief.

    OR

    2. There is no difference between the two beliefs, so there is no change in belief (cherished or not).

    If you are claiming the first, then I have to ask how on earth you would know whether I cherished the original belief?

    If the second, then I have to ask whether you can read and understand English, or if that also confuses you.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Our understanding of biological evolution gives us insight into human behavior including empathy, love, hate, jealousy, etc. Human behavior and a sense of fairness originated long before the concept of god and the practice of religion. It originated in our prehuman ancestors and is evident in our ape cousins today.

    You are obviously passionate about your religious beliefs and seem to be threatened by my simple questions. I am just trying to understand why you accept one set superstitious Bronze Age fairy tales and not any of the many others. Sure, I understand you had a slow childhood brainwashing or an adult flash of faith. As you know, many educated religious folk are leaving their old time religion and its reliance on supernatural stories. It is not that they are rejecting morality, they are just rejecting superstition. You don’t need god to be a good person, and it is never too late to reject or revise Bronze Age superstition. I did it and perhaps you can also.

  • WisdomLover

    1. Yes, if you want a theory about empathy, love, hate jealousy etc. that stands up to about 5 minutes of scrutiny and then folds like a house of cards, then evolution is your huckleberry.

    This is not to say that we can’t learn things about humanity by looking at apes and other animals. The history of such practices dates back (at least) to Aristotle.

    But guess what? Aristotle did not believe in evolution. He didn’t need to to learn from animals.

    You see, whether we evolved from them or not, apes are quite similar to humans in a lot of ways. Other animals are less similar to humans than apes but still share many important features. Anything we learn from apes and other animals that is actually of benefit to us is learned without the assumption that we evolved from them. All that is needed to gain the beneficial knowledge is the realization that they are very similar to us in important ways.

    If you’d like to cherish the belief and proceed from the assumption that we did evolve from apes (or whatever), well, that’s your privilege, and I wouldn’t dream of denying you that right.

    You are also free to assume that the valence shells of a free Fluorine atom actually do want an extra electron. To each his own.

    Personally, couldn’t care less whether our physical bodies came to have the size and configuration thay have as a result of evolution. Maybe they did, maybe not. I suppose that the assumption of some form of evolution is the way to bet. But in the end, I don’t know and don’t care.

    2. If it seems to you that I find your questions threatening, I suggest you re-assess things. You like shifting the goalposts a lot, so, yes, that is annoying, but hardly threatening. It’s just one silly question after another.

    3. I did mention, didn’t I, that the religion=superstition schtick isn’t very persuasive.

    4. Polls indicate that people are leaving organized religion…not that they are becoming atheist or agnostic. Being a “none” is not the same as being an atheist or agnostic any more than being a political independent is the same thing as being a communist. The percentage of atheists and agnostics is still down in the basement.

  • Tim

    Just ignore “wisdom lover”. He is anything but.

  • cgosling

    Dear Don’t Know – Don’t Care Wisdom Lover : Your admitted “I Don’t Know Don’t Care” philosophy sums you up quite well. It is nothing to be proud of, and it disqualifies you as a wisdom Lover.
    Why are people leaving leaving organized religion and taking their families with them? Please answer.
    People seldom convert from religion to secularism quickly. Usually this kind of life change decision is done slowly and thoughtfully based upon reason and science, as was my case. Religious Supernatural events are just not believable for most educated people. As new generations emerge, more will reject supernatural events as they have rejected an actually Santa living at the North Pole, or the Easter Bunny.
    On the other hand, conversions to religious belief are usually fast and emotional done in time of stress and weakness? Do you care to tell us how you came to believe in the supernatural? I am sure your readers would be interested.

    Your contention that religion does not equate with superstition is the most outlandish of all your beliefs. Religion is superstition! As far as I know, there is only one religion where superstition is not necessarily a fundamental part, and that is Unitarianism. I suggest that individuals and families who are delusioned with blind faith and supernaturalism visit a Unitarian Church or two until they find one that suits them.

    Everything we learn by studying evolution and our great ape cousins indicates that we evolved with them from a common ancestor. That is a fact whether or not you can accept it.
    I notice that you often agree and repeat your version of what I write as if it was your own idea. Should I take that as an admission or a compliment, or both?
    Thanks for your timely responses. I enjoy them.

  • WisdomLover

    Yeah, “religion=superstition” is still not working. The fact that you think a thing to be true doesn’t make it so. Nor does the ceaseless repetition of it make it so. So it didn’t work the other 127 times either…just so you know.

    The argumentum ad nominem against the handle “WisdomLover” doesn’t really work either. Quite the opposite in fact. Believe it or not, you are not the first person to think of ridiculing the handle. I’ve noticed that that particular fallacy only comes out when the other guy’s argument is in shambles.

    Generally speaking these and other forms of name-calling speak volumes about the person calling the names and very little about anything of substance.

    As for the apes, you may well read evolution off the similarity between apes, humans and other animals. You may even be right. But the actual benefits we gain from animal study extend from the similarities, not any fact of evolution. But by all means, go ahead and continue to worry about what happened a billion years ago. If that’s what you like, then go for it.

    Finally, when it comes to conversion, people switch to and from religions all the time. Sometimes the shift is gradual. Sometimes its dramatic. Once in a blue moon a theist even becomes an atheist. People leaving organized religion doesn’t in any way serve as a harbinger for some coming atheist wave.

    Those that forsake a religion sometimes do so for what they take to be good reasons. But as often as not it’s because of something the religion did to them or some guilt they came to associate with the religion. Far more people have left Catholicism, for example, over the despicable behavior of some of the priesthood and of the hierarchy in covering it up than over skeptical worries about the Virgin Birth or some such.

    Sometimes there are revivals and many people, seeing the folly of irreligion, come back. And sometimes there are times of falling away. But Atheism and Agnosticism are always down in the cellar when it comes to people’s beliefs. This is because the facts about the world, e.g. the evident continuity of natural law, make those views very foolish ones.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover- One of your latest comments deserves a special answer. You asked, “does the belief in evolution feed anyone, clothe anyone, cure any disease? You answered your own question with a NO.

    Of all your observations about science, this is the one you really misunderstand the most. The basis of evolution is gradual genetic change in reaction to the environment an organism lives in. Medical genetics, agriculture, drug research, immunology and nearly all biological and medical research depends upon a thorough understanding of evolution. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the medicine you take, all depend upon an understanding of evolution. I am sure you wrote prematurely and did not mean to imply that understanding evolution has not done humankind any good…or did you?

  • WisdomLover

    Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that tomorrow we found out that evolution is false.

    What aspect of genetics would change? Would we suddenly not know about dominant and recessive genes or something? No, we’d still know all that stuff. And the knowledge would be based on chemistry, not evolution. Similar remarks go for the other sciences that supposedly depend on evolution.

    “The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the medicine you take, all depend upon an understanding of evolution.”

    I can’t eat, get dressed or take an aspirin unless I understand evolution?

    I can’t farm, or weave or mix chemicals to relieve symptoms unless I understand evolution?

    I can’t genetically alter a plant species to be more nutritious, or keep longer or have stronger fibers unless I understand evolution?

    Seems unlikely.

    I’ll grant this much, while people have been looking for signs of evolution, they may have stumbled upon some beneficial discoveries. I mean, if you are trying to figure out how genetic mutations can lead to evolutionary change, you’re liable to stumble upon some truths about genetics that are quite useful.

    You could, of course, also just study genetics.

  • cgosling

    Dear WisdomLover – You commented, “You could, of course, just study genetics.” Well, I have studied genetics, evolution, zoology, etc. as a zoology major in college. Your misunderstanding of evolution and genetics is so massive that I best refer you to The Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of Natural History. Check them out on the internet concerning evolution and genetics. You stand at total odds with these prestigious institutions. I have done my best to explain the basics of science and evolution to you, but obviously your mind is closed. Occasionally, I see a hopeful sign you have grudgingly accepted a few scientific principals, but your overall ignorance concerning biological science makes it difficult for me to convince you of anything, or at least infuse a little doubt into your thinking. Yes, I am disappointed, but I had hoped your fertile mind was not closed to scientific information. You select and choose only information that does not challenge your preconceived religions beliefs but can’t seem to reject the superstition and miraculous biblical events that you base your faith on. No doubt you will keep your supernatural beliefs no matter what evidence is presented to you. I gave my best to present the facts about evolution and genetics, but without you being open to scientific fact, you will not be able to improve your understanding of this wonderful world we live in.

  • WisdomLover

    “I gave my best to present the facts about evolution and genetics”

    Do tell.

    Did you know that you mentioned genetics precisely once before the post I am now replying to?

    Here it is:

    “Medical genetics, agriculture, drug research, immunology and nearly all biological and medical research depends upon a thorough understanding of evolution. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the medicine you take, all depend upon an understanding of evolution.”

    That’s quite the presentation. You really gave it your all.

    Here’s what I’d like to know…

    What law of genetics logically requires that human beings evolved from some lower life form like a planarian or something? Would the Law of Dominance be rendered false by the falsehood of evolution? Or the Law of Independent Assortment?

    In asking this question I am not denying that human beings did evolve from lower life.

    I am asking a question about the logical connections between the two sciences. It seems to me that evolution might be founded on genetics, but certainly not the other way round.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover , You and billions of other humans throughout the ages have benefited from evolution without knowing what it is. If evolution did not exist, there would be no human race and essentially no life on planet earth. All life is the product of evolution. You don’t have to understand evolution and genetics to have benefited from it. Once humans discovered how to manipulate genes and DNA, they have been able to use those principals for your benefit and for all the other humans who, like you, don’t know anything about evolution, or even care about it. Well before Darwin, when humans first began agriculture about 12,000 years ago, they quickly realized the basic fundamentals of breeding animals and manipulating plant seeds. Since then, we better understand the principals of genetics and evolution and have used those principals to make medicines; grow new crops to feed the growing numbers of humans, feed the animals we consume, and to create new and better fabrics to clothe ourselves. All this and more we owe to our understanding of genes and evolution. You and other Creationists don’t have to believe in, or even understand anything about evolution or genetics, to benefit from those sciences. You can thank those sciences for making it possible for some humans to have relatively long, comfortable and healthy lives. Unfortunately, most of the world’s population has not yet received the benefits of the evolutionary and genetic sciences. I cannot imagine the state of humanity without an understanding of genetics and the principals of evolution. Please think deeply about it before you answer this letter. Humans have the ability to reject their most cherished beliefs when they are shown to be incorrect or incomplete. This ability is the most profound of human traits and has allowed humans to reject the old and outdated in the light of new and better information. Again, I am not a professional scientist, so I can only hope I have accurately described evolution and genetics in a basic way so you can understand.

  • WisdomLover

    And the goalposts shift again.

    Here’s what you said before:

    “Medical genetics, agriculture, drug research, immunology and nearly all biological and medical research depends upon a thorough understanding of evolution.”

    Now you say this:

    “If evolution did not exist, there would be no human race and essentially no life on planet earth. All life is the product of evolution. You don’t have to understand evolution and genetics to have benefited from it.”

    So now your point is what? The germ theory of disease, for example, depends on evolution because Pasteur proposed it after having benefited from evolution. He benefited from evolution by existing?

    Is that supposed to be an argument in evolution’s favor?

    Does it not occur to you that that’s an argument in favor of the creation of all things by YHWH, or Shangdi or Ahura Mazda or the Great Spirit?

    I mean, the Zoroastrian would say that the germ theory depends on Zoroastrianism, because Pasteur proposed it after having benefited from the creative forces of his children, Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu. He benefited from them by existing.

    The same sort of argument could be made on behalf of YHWH, Allah, Shangdi and the rest.

    “No,” you’ll say, “you’re wrong because evolution is true and all those other ideas are superstition.”

    Oh I see! Evolution is true! Why didn’t I think of that? So what’s the argument? Evolution is true because it’s true?

    Powerful.

    As for your discussion after that, I notice a lot of constructs like these:

    “the principals[sic] of genetics and evolution”

    “our understanding of genes and evolution”

    “anything about evolution or genetics”

    “the benefits of the evolutionary and genetic sciences”

    “an understanding of genetics and the principals[sic] of evolution”

    It looks to me like evolution is being bundled with genetics an awful lot. In fact, in that portion of your post you don’t mention evolution once without giving it a free ride on the coattails of genetics.

    Perhaps because all the benefits come from genetics, which, once again, does not need evolution to be believed, understood or justified. Though evolution might need genetics.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I’ll do my best to explain. No law of genetics requires that humans evolved from some lower life form. Some of the basic laws of genetics were discovered before Darwin came up with his theory of evolution. Darwin never could explain the mechanics of evolution. Gregor Mendle discovered them years before “The Origin Of Species”. The laws of genetics do, however, explain how evolution works. It is the explanation that Darwin never knew about. He would have been thrilled had he known that a Catholic priest confirmed evolution by growing pea plants in his garden. The principles of genetics explain how evolution works and how life changes over time. Evolution explains how and why simple life forms changed into more advanced life forms. The two sciences support each other perfectly. Evolution was not founded upon genetics and genetics was not founded upon evolution. Both principals were discovered separately.
    I am relieved find out that you do not deny that humans evolved from simple life forms. This admission of yours is in conflict with those who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, and is one of the first steps toward a more sensible liberal interpretation of scriptures. Congratulations!

  • WisdomLover

    I’m wondering if you read what you just wrote.

    Not one thing you mentioned shows evolution supporting genetics.

    I do see that evolutionists can use genetics to support their claims though. They can also use mathematics. That doesn’t make evolution as likely as either genetics or mathematics. In fact, it is less likely.

    “I am relieved find out that you do not deny that humans evolved from simple life forms.”

    I wonder if this is true. Since it hasn’t been any mystery that I don’t deny that, or, at least, that I don’t deny this:

    “The human body evolved from simple life forms.”

    I am wondering how you could have just ‘found this out’. I said as much days and days ago and have repeated it many times.

    I don’t deny that the human body evolved from simpler life forms. I also don’t particularly care whether they did. I don’t think the fact that it is true (or that it isn’t) helps anyone. But it’s a nice hobby for some folks.

    “This admission of yours…”

    I take it that the so-called ‘admission’ you are trying to refer to is the fact that I do not deny that the human body evolved from simpler life forms.

    Yeah…well…nice try.

    I’ve made no such admission. That would imply that I used to say something else, but your arguments forced me into that admission.

    I changed my cherished belief from believing Genesis and evolution are incompatible (and so much the worse for evolution) to the view the two views are compatible. But that change occurred years and years ago and was not an admission made to any argument I’ve seen in this thread.

    We might say instead you’ve finally admitted that I don’t deny that the human body evolved from simpler life forms. That I am not terribly concerned about whether the human body evolved from simpler life forms has been apparent since I answered your first question about creation and evolution 18 days ago. Given that, obviously I don’t deny it. I don’t care about it enough to deny it.

    BTW, I also don’t care about it enough to affirm it.

    This admission of yours Your oft-repeated non-denial of evolution (ftfy) is in conflict with those who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible

    And I think I’ve been over about five times the fact that a literal reading of Genesis is compatible with the affirmation of evolution (let-alone its non-denial). I’ve even given proof for that compatibility to the extent that it is possible in a forum like this to give proof.

    The way that proof worked, again, is that I told a story in which Adam and Eve were created and fell per Genesis 1-3, and in which evolution also occurred. The way the two main threads of this story (the Eden thread and the evolution thread) come into contact is in the post-fall clothing of Adam and Eve in evolved bodies upon their expulsion from Eden.

    Is the story true? How should I know? I doubt it. But is it logically consistent? Yes it is. As such all of its parts are logically compatible. Therefore Genesis 1-3 and evolution are logically compatible.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Three
    On Evolution amd Creation (redux)

    This admission of yours Your oft-repeated non-denial of evolution (ftfy) is in conflict with those who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible

    And I think I’ve been over about five times the fact that a literal reading of Genesis is compatible with the affirmation of evolution (let-alone its non-denial). I’ve even given proof for that compatibility to the extent that it is possible in a forum like this to give proof.

    The way that proof worked, again, is that I told a story in which Adam and Eve were created and fell per Genesis 1-3, and in which evolution also occurred. The way the two main threads of this story (the Eden thread and the evolution thread) come into contact is in the post-fall clothing of Adam and Eve in evolved bodies upon their expulsion from Eden.

    Is the story true? How should I know? I doubt it. But is it logically consistent? Yes it is. As such all of its parts are logically compatible. Therefore Genesis 1-3 and evolution are logically compatible.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Two
    On Not Denying Evolution

    “I am relieved find out that you do not deny that humans evolved from simple life forms.”

    I wonder if this is true. Since it hasn’t been any mystery that I don’t deny that, or, at least, that I don’t deny this:

    “The human body evolved from simple life forms.”

    I am wondering how you could have just ‘found this out’. I said as much days and days ago and have repeated it many times.

    I don’t deny that the human body evolved from simpler life forms. I also don’t particularly care whether they did. I don’t think the fact that it is true (or that it isn’t) helps anyone. But it’s a nice hobby for some folks.

    “This admission of yours…”

    I take it that the so-called ‘admission’ you are trying to refer to is the fact that I do not deny that the human body evolved from simpler life forms.

    Yeah…well…nice try.

    I’ve made no such admission. That would imply that I used to say something else, but your arguments forced me into that admission.

    I changed my cherished belief from believing Genesis and evolution are incompatible (and so much the worse for evolution) to the view the two views are compatible. But that change occurred years and years ago and was not an admission made to any argument I’ve seen in this thread.

    We might say instead you’ve finally admitted that I don’t deny that the human body evolved from simpler life forms. That I am not terribly concerned about whether the human body evolved from simpler life forms has been apparent since I answered your first question about creation and evolution 18 days ago. Given that, obviously I don’t deny it. I don’t care about it enough to deny it.

    BTW, I also don’t care about it enough to affirm it.

  • WisdomLover

    Part One
    Evolution and Genetics

    I’m wondering if you read what you just wrote.

    Not one thing you mentioned shows evolution supporting genetics.

    I do see that evolutionists can use genetics to support their claims though. They can also use mathematics. That doesn’t make evolution as likely as either genetics or mathematics. In fact, it is less likely.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I thought we were making progress: You said you don’t deny the human body evolved from simpler life forms. (If you won’t deny it, that means to me that you must agree its possible). Next: You can’t possibly believe evolution from a simpler form of life is compatible with the sudden creation of Adam and Eve as per the Creation story. It is impossible, impossible and impossible to believe in both at the same time. I believe everyone would agree they are obvious contradictions. But now, you continue to claim both evolution and the Creation story are compatible and that change in your thinking occurred years ago. OK. I understand you don’t care enough to explain how both beliefs are possible although they contradict each other. That is your illogical prerogative, so let’s let the dead dog lie and rot. My brain is weary trying to understand your logic. But, as I have long believed, after many debates with Creationists, religious beliefs don’t have to be logical. All things are possible with faith alone. You arguments confirm my long held beliefs concerning the topic.
    I do appreciate your attempts to explain your theology to me. Thank you for your efforts and patience. Your approach to religious modernity and religious tradition are fascinating.

  • WisdomLover

    I’ve explained how both are possible in this very thread. Why, I even explained it in the post you are replying to. You have repeatedly not cared to take note of that explanation instead feigning confusion and replying with backhanded compliments of my ‘theology’. There’s nothing illogical about my explanation. I can only conclude that you are blinded to it by your atheism…which blinds people to many things.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I repeat for the last time, you cannot believe in the Creation Story, as presented in the Bible, and at the same time believe in evolution. You keep claiming this is possible, but it is not. I have never met or read about a Creationist who believed in evolution. Have you? Please give me any source. And, please do not confuse the terms Intelligent Design and Creationism. They are two different theories.
    Evolution, as presented by Darwin, never attempted to explain how life began, just how it changed from the original life forms to the present life forms.
    Creationism claims god created all existent plant and animal life in its current form and there has been no other change since the six day creation.
    These two distinct theories are absolutely incompatible with each other. Surely you must agree a person cannot be a Creationist and a believer in evolution simultaneously. WisdomLover, you must choose one or the other, but you cannot logically choose to believe both. It is beyond comprehension that you claim to believe in both. Creationists must be turning over in their graves at the thought.

  • WisdomLover

    “I have never met or read about a Creationist who believed in evolution.”

    You have met at least one that doesn’t deny evolution…me. There might be quite a few like me, who don’t really care that much about the claims of evolution. I don’t know. I don’t really care that much about that either.

    “Creationism claims god created all existent plant and animal life in its current form”

    Well…creationism as you understand it may say that, I don’t know.

    But that is most assuredly NOT what Genesis says.

    In all our back and forth, haven’t you got that yet?

    Genesis says that there was no death until Man ate the fruit.

    Is that how plants and animals exist today? Do they exist without death?

    If you believe evolution you don’t say that we live in a world without death. You can’t say that. The theory of evolution depends on death.

    And if you accept the words of the Bible, you also cannot say that we live in a world without death (not since the fall anyway). Indeed, that is the main point of the Genesis account: not to give some timeline of origins, but to explain how death came into the world through the sin of the first man.

    Even if you don’t accept a word of evolution or the Bible, you really still can’t say we live in a world without death. Among logically contingent claims, there is really very little that we can be more certain of than that.

    But according to Genesis, the world as God created it was without death until after the Fall.

    Now, if you think about that and really let it sink in, that means that the laws of nature themselves actually had to change after the fall. If you haven’t got that yet, get it now. According to Genesis, the laws of nature before and after the fall had to be different. This is because according to Genesis, there was no death before the fall.

    A corollary of this is that somehow, the fallen Adam and Eve had to be transferred into the post-Eden world with its post-Eden laws that allow (and indeed imply) death. And we find that indeed, the Bible says that they had to be expelled from Eden.

    A second corollary is that the bodies that Adam and Eve inhabit after the Fall in the post-Eden world must comply with the post-Eden laws of that world.

    Now, I don’t know how that came to pass. I proposed that perhaps when the Bible refers to Adam and Eve being clothed by God in the skins of animals, that that was referring to their coming to inhabit the bodies of animals…bodies that comply with the post-Eden laws. The Bible isn’t terribly clear about how long it took for Adam and Eve to be expelled from Eden to the post-Eden world and to be clothed in their animal skin/bodies, but it seems to me that the bodies that they came to inhabit might have been the product of billions of years of stellar and geological development and nigh on 4 billion years of evolution.

    In the proposal just given, Adam and Eve were born into a world created without death from which they fell. They fell into a world governed by laws that imply death and that includes evolution just as many scientists believe occurred. Thus in that proposal, evolution is true and so is Genesis. I have no idea whether this proposal is true, but it is logically consistent. Because it is logically consistent, all of its parts are logically compatible.

    Since two of those parts are Genesis and evolution, Genesis and evolution are logically compatible.

    Cue feigned confusion in 3..2..1..

  • WisdomLover

    Part Four
    How Did Adam and Eve Come to Inhabit Post-Edenic Bodies

    Genesis implies that Adam and Eve came to inhabit, after the Fall, bodies that comply with the laws of the post-Eden world.

    How did this happen?

    The short answer is that I don’t know. I can only speculate.

    The longer answer is that the Bible isn’t terribly clear about how long it took for Adam and Eve to be expelled from Eden to the post-Eden world and to be clothed in their animal skin/bodies. One tends to assume that it was a short time…and maybe from Adam and Eve’s Eden-side perspective, it was.

    But perhaps (at least from a post-Eden-side perspective) it was something like 14 billion years.

    There is no Biblical reason not to suppose that the bodies that they came to inhabit might have been the product of billions of years of stellar and geological development and nigh on 4 billion years of evolution. When the Bible refers to Adam and Eve being clothed by God in the skins of animals, we might suppose, without denying the Genesis account, that they were clothed in the bodies of evolved post-Edenic beings. In fact, all of the pre-fall, Edenic world might then have been clothed in the Post-Edenic world of death.

    In that case, all of the stellar and geological development and evolution took place after the fall, but before Adam and Eve were actually kicked out of Eden.

    In the proposal just given:

    1. Adam and Eve were specially created in a world that was itself specially created without death. And they fell from this world. That is, things first went according to the Genesis account.

    2. Adam and Eve fell and brought the whole world with them. Again, per Genesis.

    3. They fell and were integrated (and all of the pre-fall creation with them) into a world governed by laws that imply death and that includes stellar and planetery development, destruction and regeneration culminating in the destruction of everything either in heat death or a big crunch. This world also includes evolution on Earth, including the evolution of the human body. That is, the laws prevail after the fall just as scientists affirm they do.

    Thus in this proposal, evolution is true and so is Genesis.

    Now, let me be clear, I have no idea whether this proposal is true.

    I’ll go even farther, I rather suspect that it is false.

    But it is logically consistent. Because it is logically consistent, all of its parts are logically compatible.

    Since two of those parts are Genesis and evolution, Genesis and evolution are logically compatible.

    Which has been my point all along.

    Q.E.D.

    Cue feigned confusion in 3..2..1..

  • WisdomLover

    Part Three
    What Does the Entrance of Death into the World Imply

    According to Genesis, there was no death in the pre-fallen world, but there was in the post-fallen world.

    If you think about that, and really let it sink in, that means that the laws of nature themselves had to change after the fall.

    If you haven’t got that yet, get it now.

    According to Genesis, the laws of nature before and after the fall had to be different. This is because according to Genesis, there was no death before the fall.

    A corollary of this is that somehow, the fallen Adam and Eve had to be transferred into the post-Eden world with its post-Eden laws that allow (and indeed imply) death. And we find that indeed, the Bible says that they had to be expelled from Eden.

    A second corollary is that the bodies that Adam and Eve inhabit after the Fall in the post-Eden world must comply with the post-Eden laws of that world.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Two
    What is Creationism?

    Creationism claims god created all existent plant and animal life in its current form

    Well…creationism as you understand it may say that, I don’t know.

    I have no particular attachment to the specific sound and scratching “Creationism”. If you want to define that word so that creationists believe that ‘God created all existent plant and animal life in its current form’, that’s fine…I won’t argue that point, but make a gift of the word to you.

    But the Book of Genesis most assuredly does not say that ‘God created all existent plant and animal life in its current form’.

    In all our back and forth, haven’t you got that yet?

    Genesis says that there was no death until Man ate the fruit.

    Is that how plants and animals exist today? Do they exist without death?

    If you believe evolution you don’t say that we live in a world without death. You can’t say that. The theory of evolution depends on death.

    And if you accept the words of the Bible, you also cannot say that we live in a world without death (not since the fall anyway). Indeed, that is the main point of the Genesis account: not to give some timeline of origins, but to explain how death came into the world through the sin of the first man.

    Even if you don’t accept a word of evolution or the Bible, you really still can’t say we live in a world without death. Among logically contingent claims, there is really very little that we can be more certain of than that.

    But according to Genesis, the world as God created it was without death until after the Fall.

    Again, Genesis says that plants and animals were not created in their current forms. They were created so as not to die. Then the Fall occurred. After that plants, animals and most especially Man, took on a form such that they would die.

  • WisdomLover

    Part One
    cgosling’s Acquaintances

    I have never met or read about a Creationist who believed in evolution.

    You have met at least one that doesn’t deny evolution…me. There might be quite a few like me, who don’t deny evolution. I really don’t care that much about the claims of evolution. Maybe my fellow non-deniers also don’t care. I don’t know. I don’t really care that much about that either.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Five
    What Does the Prior Speculation Imply?

    In the speculative proposal just given, all of the stellar and geological development and evolution took place after the fall, but before Adam and Eve were actually kicked out of Eden.

    That is to say:

    1. Adam and Eve were specially created in a world that was itself specially created without death. And they fell from this world. That is, things first went according to the Genesis account.

    2. Adam and Eve fell and brought the whole world with them. Again, per Genesis.

    3. They fell and were integrated (and all of the pre-fall creation with them) into a world governed by laws that imply death and that includes stellar and planetery development, destruction and regeneration culminating in the destruction of everything either in heat death or a big crunch. This world also includes evolution on Earth, including the evolution of the human body. That is, the laws prevail after the fall just as scientists affirm they do.

    Thus in this proposal, evolution is true and so is Genesis.

    Now, let me be clear, I have no idea whether this proposal is true. As I said, it is pure speculation.

    I’ll go even farther, I rather suspect that it is false.

    But it is logically consistent. And that fact has inescapable logical implications.

    Because it is logically consistent, all of its parts are logically compatible.

    Since two of those parts are Genesis and evolution, Genesis and evolution are logically compatible.

    Which has been my point all along.

    Q.E.D.

    Cue feigned confusion in 3..2..1..

  • WisdomLover

    Part Four
    How Did Adam and Eve Come to Inhabit Post-Edenic Bodies

    Genesis implies that Adam and Eve came to inhabit, after the Fall, bodies that comply with the laws of the post-Eden world.

    How did this happen?

    The short answer is that I don’t know. I can only speculate.

    The longer answer starts with providing a fleshed out speculation…

    For starters, and this is not speculation, the Bible isn’t terribly clear about how long it took for Adam and Eve to be expelled from Eden to the post-Eden world and to be clothed in their animal skins.

    One tends to assume that it was a short time…and maybe from Adam and Eve’s Eden-side perspective, it was. But this is actually speculation…though I think it’s a common one.

    But let’s try speculating in another direction. Perhaps (at least from a post-Eden-side perspective) it was something like 14 billion years.

    Given that speculation, there is no reason not to suppose that the bodies that they came to inhabit were not the product of billions of years of stellar and geological development and nigh on 4 billion years of evolution. When the Bible refers to Adam and Eve being clothed by God in the skins of animals, we might suppose, without denying the Genesis account, that they were clothed in the bodies of evolved post-Edenic beings. In fact, all of the pre-fall, Edenic world might then have been clothed in the post-Edenic world of death.

    In that case, all of the stellar and geological development and evolution took place after the fall, but before Adam and Eve were actually kicked out of Eden.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Three
    What Does the Entrance of Death into the World Imply

    According to Genesis, there was no death in the pre-fallen world, but there was in the post-fallen world.

    If you think about that, and really let it sink in, that means that the laws of nature themselves had to change after the fall.

    If you haven’t got that yet, get it now.

    According to Genesis, the laws of nature before and after the fall had to be different. This is because according to Genesis, there was no death before the fall.

    A corollary of this is that somehow, the fallen Adam and Eve had to be transferred into the post-Eden world with its post-Eden laws that allow (and indeed imply) death. And we find that indeed, the Bible says that they had to be expelled from Eden.

    A second corollary is that the bodies that Adam and Eve inhabit after the Fall in the post-Eden world must comply with the post-Eden laws of that world.

  • WisdomLover

    Part Two
    What is Creationism?

    Creationism claims god created all existent plant and animal life in its current form

    Well…creationism as you understand it may say that, I don’t know.

    I have no particular attachment to the word “Creationism”. If you want to define that word so that creationists believe that ‘God created all existent plant and animal life in its current form’, that’s fine…I won’t argue that point, but make a gift of the word to you.

    But the Book of Genesis most assuredly does not say that ‘God created all existent plant and animal life in its current form’.

    In all our back and forth, haven’t you got that yet?

    Genesis says that there was no death until Man ate the fruit.

    Is that how plants and animals exist today? Do they exist without death?

    If you believe evolution you don’t say that we live in a world without death. You can’t say that. The theory of evolution depends on death.

    And if you accept the words of the Bible, you also cannot say that we now live in a world without death. Indeed, that is the main point of the Genesis account: not to give some timeline of origins, but to explain how death came into the world through the sin of the first man.

    Even if you don’t accept a word of evolution or the Bible, you really still can’t say we live in a world without death.

    No one believes that we now live in a world without death.

    But according to Genesis, the world as God created it was without death until after the Fall.

    Again, Genesis says that plants and animals were not created in their current forms. They were created so as not to die. Then the Fall occurred. After that plants, animals and most especially Man, took on a form such that they would die.

  • WisdomLover

    Part One
    On cgosling’s Acquaintances

    I have never met or read about a Creationist who believed in evolution.

    You have met at least one that doesn’t deny evolution…me. There might be others like me, who don’t deny evolution, but view it as compatible with a special creation as described in Genesis.

    Just as I don’t care too much about the claims of evolution, I don’t care too much about whether there are many people who agree with me that evolution is compatible with Genesis. I will take a moment to note that the vast majority of people who accept something like Biblical inerrancy will insist that the Bible never comes into conflict with scientific truths. I think that implies that all inerrantists implicitly accept my compatibilist view should evolution turn out to be one of those scientific truths. I think I differ from some of them only in that I endorse a compatibilist view whether or not evolution turns out to be true.

  • WisdomLover

    I had to wrestle with this one a bit to get it past Disqus, the terrible comment eater. Here’s a reply in five parts.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks for your extensive, although contorted, explanation. I am guessing it is your own unique explanation/interpretation of Genesis, but perhaps I’m wrong in assuming that. Have you ever met anyone else who shares your view? Do you know of any other Christians, Jews or Muslims who share your theory? Do you have any formal religious training, and if so where? Have you presented your exposition elsewhere at any time? I ask these questions because I am fascinated with your unique beliefs about the Creation Story. Is it original or did you have inspiration from someone else? At any rate, it is ingenious. Granting a few initial premises, it has some logic and it seems to satisfy your deniable doubts. It is a shame you have expended so much time and energy explaining your theosophy to a nonbeliever, but I expect our correspondences have helped you fortify your biblical interpretations for the next doubter who may have questions. I will pass on your creation/evolution explanations to the next fundamentalist/creationist/true believer I meet. I suspect I already know how they will respond.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks again for you extensive and thoughtful reply to my comments. As usual, you have many creative Creation theories. Your theology is typical of those sincere people who feel obligated to reply to criticisms about their beliefs and justify and coordinate everything so it all fits together in a tiny box of personal theology. After extensive explanations, you usually add a comment to the effect that – (I don’t know if this is true or not, it may be, but probably isn’t. Or, you claim you don’t care enough to deny or confirm what you have written.) You do this so often, I have come to expect it at the end of every paragraph. Don’t get me wrong,
    I think you are trying very hard to be honest and often noncommittal on unproven theories. This is actually part of scientific inquiry and methodology. Unfortunately, you have based your theology on ancient scriptures, written and copied and revised and reinterpreted and voted upon numerous times throughout history. There are many translations of and interpretations of scriptures. Your beliefs, which you desperately defend, are in conflict with most other Christian and Hebrew theologians. Fortunately for you, there is no definitive answer book with all the correct answers. Everyone can safely claim to have the correct interpretation of those Bronze Age writings, and deny all other theories. Theology is relative to each individual and sect, which is a good thing. Too many wars, inquisitions, and crusades have already occurred over religious interpretations of so called holy scriptures. The more confident each interpreter is, the more likely there will be conflict. True believers are supremely confident they are correct in all things to the extent they try to force their beliefs upon their neighbors, as has been done too often throughout history. I am not accusing you of this. Secularists encounter this threat every day. It is claimed that America is a Christian nation when in fact our founding fathers agreed to keep religion and government separate. They were not totally successful and Secularists often experience discrimination. Surveys show that religious people rather their children marry someone of another religion, including Muslim, than an atheist. Most people have incorrect beliefs concerning atheists. You claim my atheism obstructs my logic and makes me unable to discern the truth. That is laughable, but typical of religious folk. For your information, atheists are usually educated, scientifically minded, empathetic, and open to new ideas and information. Atheist have a reputation for strongly defending their constitution rights, especially from those who believe America is a Christian nation and government should give favors and financially support to religion. Heaven forbid, I am not accusing you of any of these things. You seem to be an educated person who is well aware of the human and constitutional rights of all citizens. There! I feel better already after being slandered by you concerning my atheism. It’s O K, I am accustomed to it. I look forward to your continued comments.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Like all theories, your theories need evidence be believed. Where’s the evidence? Basing theory upon ancient religious writings may be fun, but that’s all it is. Proven theories need facts, otherwise they are fairy tales for gullible people and children.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I readily admit your speculation about unfounded/unproven theories are fun mind exercises. Your theories are interesting but vacuous. I checked out your web page. Well done!

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – You continue not wanting to admit that evolution is true and has been proven to be true many times over by all scientific disciplines. That is your prerogative. Perhaps, someday you will float back down to reality and say Yes, I believe in evolution and have to reject or modify some of my most cherished beliefs in the light of proven science. I wish you a speedy recovery from superstition.

  • WisdomLover

    I don’t have a web page.

    The question was about the logical compatibility of evolution and the book of Genesis.

    What I offered was not merely a speculation, but a proof. You see to prove the logical compatibility of two sets of propositions, it is only necessary to describe a logically consistent state-of-affairs wherein all the propositions in both sets are true.

    That speculation I gave was the logically consistent description of just such a state-of-affairs.

    So it’s a proven matter that evolution and the Genesis account are logically compatible.

    Nice try, but you can’t just laugh it off.

  • WisdomLover

    Exactly what kind of evidence do you think is needed for the claim that evolution is logically compatible with the Genesis account?

    My guess is that you really have no clue, but you’re regurgitating some boilerplate objection that you do not understand at all, but that appeared to work for you in the past.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – When you get the chance, do a search and check out WisdomLover’s web page. I thought it was yours. Sorry! I would be interested in your opinion of WisdomLover’s web page. It seemed nebulous to me.
    By accepting some of your starting premises, I can see why you sincerely believe in what you write. The premises, you accept as fact, are not fact and not endorsed by any scientific studies, so I am sure you can understand why, from my point of view, your theories remain unverified, unproven fairy tales. I have no doubt that you are sincere and there may be others who unwittingly follow your “logic”. The huge variability of religious beliefs should be a good indication, to most reasonable persons, that religions are not founded upon facts or the scientific method, but are a result of human needs and imagination. You are imaginative and intelligent, but so are millions of serious minded people that think your beliefs are blasfamous and even ridiculous. Fortunately, in a nation that recognizes freedom of religion, there is plenty of room for a variety of religious beliefs and theories. Variety of opinion is useful when testing the validity of theories against each other. This was and is important in discovering the truths of evolution and rejecting incorrect theories.

  • WisdomLover

    The question we’ve been discussing is whether evolution and the book of Genesis are logically compatible. Please stop trying to shift the goalposts.

    I’ve offered a proof that the two are compatible. Do you have a reply to that proof?

    Or do you now accept the point as proven?

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I will repeat once more that once a few of your basic precepts are accepted, such as there is an almighty and just god, then almost any conclusions may be logically added. If the god is almighty there is no limit to what he can do and everything he does must be just. It is a foregone conclusion. No justification or proof is needed. All you need is faith in what has been proposed.
    But, without acceptance of these basic precepts, no further scientific backing and proof makes sense. It is a simple concept. Theories need proof.
    Your whole thesis depends upon accepting the reality of a deity. But as I pointed out accepting a deity’s without proof of his/her existance is meaningless without evidence of its reality. For example, in math, if you start out with an unproven incorrect formula, you are destined to fail in you calculations, and/or story line. You cannot make a good sandwich with rotten or non existence food no matter how long and hard you work and how clever you are. In your case, you choose what is written from the thousands of existant bibles, and then you try your best to justify it with scientific theory. It just can’t be done honestly. I know you claim strong faith is more reliable then scientific fact. But both undecided observers and I will agree that blind faith is unreliable. How many times have the faithful predicted the end times? How many times have they been proven wrong. Can we agree they were sincere and intelligent? Yes! But they were wrong!

  • WisdomLover

    So, then, no reply eh?

    My argument was for the thesis that the claims of Genesis and the claims of evolution are logically compatible.

    You’ve said not a thing about that argument

    =================================

    You have said things like this: “once a few of your basic precepts are accepted, such as there is an almighty and just god, then almost any conclusions may be logically added.”

    If you knew any elementary logic, which you evidently do not, you would know that you can argue for the compatibility of a claim without believing a single one of the claims you are arguing for the compatibility of.

    As such your oft repeated contention that “Your whole thesis depends upon accepting the reality of a deity” is pathetically laughable.

    No, my thesis that evolution and Genesis are logically compatible does not depend on accepting anything, not even evolution or Genesis (as anyone who knows even a little bit about how arguments work could tell you).

    From this it follows that your diversion into the various nuances of faith, blind faith, faith in science or whatever, apart from being completely inane, is utterly beside the point.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover, Just to clarify, you claim evolution and the genesis story are logically compatible, OK, I understand that and you certainly are entitled to you opinion. But, what I am trying to determine is, do you believe in biological evolution? Do you believe that all life on earth has evolved from ancient simple forms, many millions of years ago, to today’s complex forms? Or, do you believe in a young earth, less than ten thousand years old, as do Creationists? Do you believe the first life on this planet was single celled and all life today is descended from this first primitive life? Do you believe in the immutability of species or do you believe species can evolve into another species? Again, please understand, I am not asking you if evolution is logically compatible with Creationism, which you keep repeating over and over. I am trying to get straight answers concerning your beliefs and understanding of evolution. Do animals and plants evolve from one species to another? Forget the logical compatibility arguement. Just make a decision whether or not you accept evolution as the explanation of why the geological record proves life began as simple single celled forms and gradually evolved into wonderful you and me.

    I suspect you don’t care enough to commit yourself and you rather retreat to your “logically compatible” argument. I understand that, but now I am simply asking your opinion; Is all current life descendant from the first evidence of life on earth? It is a simple question, long answered for you by scientific inquiry. You have four choices,1- I don’t believe it. 2- I do believe it. 3- I don’t know 4- I don’t care enough to answer. There, I hope I have simplified our debate enough for you to answer without beating around the bush as usual. It is not difficult to guess your answer. Thanks again for your time and effort, and putting up with my efforts to get you to commit yourself to an answer to a simple question.

  • WisdomLover

    you claim evolution and the genesis story are logically compatible, OK, I understand that and you certainly are entitled to your opinion.

    I don’t just have the opinion that evolution and Genesis are compatible. I gave a proof for that thesis which you have yet to respond to.

    Again, please understand, I am not asking you if evolution is logically compatible with Creationism, which you keep repeating proving [ftfy] over and over…

    Forget the logical compatibility arguement proof…

    I suspect you don’t care enough to commit yourself and you rather retreat to your “logically compatible” arguement proof…

    I’ll remind you that it was you who seemed to think that because I don’t deny evolution, then I somehow must, must, must deny Genesis.

    Even now, you are trying to get me to ‘just decide’ whether evolution is true, as if doing so would require that I reject Genesis.

    Don’t you understand that if evolution and Genesis are logically compatible, then there is nothing irrational about believing both?

    There is likewise, nothing irrational about doing as I do and believing Genesis while not caring about evolution one way or the other and leaving debates about evolution to evolution hobbyists who get vexed about such things.

  • WisdomLover

    Do you believe that all life on earth has evolved from ancient simple forms, many millions of years ago, to today’s complex forms? Or, do you believe in a young earth, less than ten thousand years old, as do Creationists?

    It’s almost as if you didn’t realize that there are lots of different creationists. Some even take the trouble to positively believe in an old earth. That’s why one view is called Young Earth Creationism and another is called Old Earth Creationism.

  • WisdomLover

    I am trying to get straight answers concerning your beliefs and understanding of evolution. ..

    Just make a decision whether or not you accept evolution…

    I am simply asking your opinion; Is all current life descendant from the first evidence of life on earth?…

    I hope I have simplified our debate enough for you to answer without beating around the bush as usual…

    …my efforts to get you to commit yourself to an answer to a simple question.

    I must ask whether you really think you can hoodwink me or anyone who happens to be reading along into thinking that I’ve somehow been ‘beating around the bush’ or trying to avoid ‘committing myself to an answer to your simple question’? If so, you are delusional.

    I answered this question days and days ago and have given the same answer over and over and over 1000 times since.

    But in case you need me to repeat it 1001 times, I believe Genesis and neither affirm nor deny evolution. I just don’t care enough about evolution one way or the other to affirm or deny it. I leave debates about evolution to evolution hobbyists, just as I leave debates about whether Bella should have married Edward or Jacob to Twilight fans.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – Thanks for summarizing your position so susinctly, as in the last sentence of your last reply. “There is nothing irrational…about believing in Genesis while not caring about evolution…and leaving debates about evolution to ‘evolution hobbyists’ who get vexed about such things.” I love your reply because it makes my point exactly.
    First of all, I am not vexed. Quite the contrary, I am, and have been, interested and entertained with your unique and creative theology. Secondly, I am not sure what you mean by accusing me of being an evolutionary hobbyist, but I’ll take that as a compliment. Thank you.
    Now, again a brief comment concerning the importance of understanding biological evolution. My personal opinion is that without using the concept of breeding, cross breeding, creating new altered plants and animals, manipulating genes and their expression, humanity would be in a sad, suffering state and speeding more rapidly toward extinction than we are currently. As I have said before, understanding evolution has made advances in medical research possible; it has made agricultural, and animal husbandry able to better sustain growing world populations. Evolution is the most important basic science for the survival of life on earth. Reluctantly, I must admit that biological science and evolution have also been used to the detriment of the planet as well as to planet’s survival. Our knowledge of biological science has provided humanity with the potential means of its self destruction. How sad! It is like the fairy tale of Adan and Eve, a little knowledge can be destructive as well as benificial. But now, humanity is committed to use evolutionary science in spite of its potential for destruction. Using evolutionary science was not our choice. Evolution gave us the intellect to recognize our powers and make use of our brains. There are those who give god the credit, but if god exists, he must also take the blame. Sorry, I have been philosophising again.

    Would you have any objection if I quoted you and some of our exchanges on my web page?

  • WisdomLover

    “I love your reply because it makes my point exactly.”

    What point is that? And how does my reply make your point.

    I imagine that you will now take that reply in isolation from the proof for it and claim that it shows ‘blind faith’.

    If that’s it, my friend, then all of your claims about evolution also show ‘blind faith’ because, you see, we’re going to leave off any proofs you might care to provide for those claims.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – My original reason for debating you was, I was interested in your beliefs and why you believed as you do. I had no intention or hope of dissuading you of any of your beliefs. To my knowledge, nobody gives up their religious beliefs as the result of a debate. If anything, a debate usually makes the debaters more resolute in their beliefs. In the story of Saul, god suddenly converted him. That kind of quick conversion is not uncommon. But, giving up or changing one’s religious beliefs nearly always come slowly, after much study, thinking, and exposure to the scientific method.
    No, I did not expect to change your mind about anything by our brief exchange of words, but I have accomplished what I had intended. And,that was to expose you to the scientific truth of biological evolution. I can invision your brain concocting replies to my comments. That, my friend, is the first step to changing one’s opinion about anything. You have been exposed, and you will contemplate what you have absorbed. Perhaps, in the future sometime, you will be further exposed to science and gradually come to moderate your beliefs, and give up belief in supernatural things. It took me many years to finally admitt to myself I was an atheist. So, I have hope for you. The word atheist is disagreeable and controversial, so I have hope that you will, in the distant future, consider yourself a secular humanist. Anything is possible?!

  • WisdomLover

    Nice try at again shifting the goalposts.

    You were claiming that I had been evasive in my answers, when I have been anything but.

    Now that I’ve called you on it, you want to pretend that I was claiming that you were trying to change my religious beliefs.

  • cgosling

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/830d838c4aa542dfdd829cf990b7f4d876057272a5d3702493bf61617013dd8a.jpg WisdomLover – I am positive I have not changed any of your beliefs, but now at least, you are aware of another point of view. I have tried my best to explain the importance and function of evolution in modern society. You have and will continue to reap the benefits of evolutionary theory and at the same time retain your Bronze Age superstition. That’s OK. You are not the first person I have debated without immediate success. Like I said before, I still have hope that this might be the first step toward enlightenment for you at some later time, far in the future. Who knows, anything is possible. Most of the atheists today were believers earlier in their lives.

    I thought you might want to know who you were debating so I have attached this photo taken during an actual debate.

  • WisdomLover

    Nice Darwin look.

    Once again, I never thought you were trying to change my beliefs.

    I did think (correctly) that you tried to claim that I was being evasive regarding your questions about whether I affirm evolution. An embarrassingly silly claim since, in fact, I’d answered that question over and over. And I did call you on that. Something you apparently do not want to acknowledge. Then again, had I been caught out trying that sort of trick, I might not want to acknowledge it either.

    I did think (correctly) that you think evolution and Genesis are somehow incompatible. And, of course, you are wholly unable either to defend that claim or to answer, in any way, my proof that they are quite compatible.

    I did think (correctly), that since evolution and Genesis are in fact compatible, one’s belief in one does not commit one to any position at all about the other. Were I, contrary to fact, an evolution hobbyist, I would still read the words of Genesis with undiminished reverence acknowledging them as true. My hobby of studying evolution would cause me as little concern about the book of Genesis as would a hobby of collecting ceramic figurines.

    And I do think, though neither is my hobby, that the figurines are more interesting and important to humanity than any of the supposed benefits of evolution. You have been wholly unable to explain a single benefit of evolution without treating it as though it comes as a package with genetics. But we both know that that is not true. Genetics is prior to evolution and would continue to be true and have all its benefits to mankind even if we were to discover that macro-evolution never has occurred.

  • cgosling

    Let’s see…You ask what is a single benefit of evolution? My answer…You and I are here on this planet and able to debate about superstition and evolution. If evolution had not occurred and changed that first single celled organism into us over many millions of years, there would be nothing and no one to debate. It is thought by some that the human mind/brain represents the highest level of evolution yet acquired, but there are times when I have doubts about that claim.

  • WisdomLover

    Talk about missing the point of a question.

    The question is what good the study of evolution has done anyone. The answer is none (except for the entertainment value to the evolution hobbyists).

  • cgosling

    I love your question, thanks. All the food in your supermarket is the result of designed and natural evolution. 1) At one time in the distant past, none of our current food existed, until humans started to mess around with breeding and genes, which is human guided evolution. 2) Bacteria and viruses evolve and become resistant to antibiotic and anti viral drugs. Surely you must know about that. Understanding of how resistance occurs enables scientists to design new and more effective drugs. 3) Cancers become resistant to our anti cancer drugs through evolution, and medical scientists must design new drugs to combat the resistant cancer. 4) Farmers depend upon new engineered (evolved) seed that is resistant to blight and insects. I could go on, but I think you may have got the message. You may not have realized the role that evolution has played and continues to play in life on earth. You may have called it animal husbandry or just plant breeding, but it all is enabled by the manipulation of genes and the understanding of evolution. Without our ability to manipulate genes and understand evolutionary principals, life as we know it would not exist on the earth. Currently scientists are trying to create bacteria that actually consume plastic so we can clear our oceans of trash. This is man-made evolution in action. kKeep in mind, the rate of evolutionary change depends upon the speed that an organism reproduces. Elephants naturally evolve slowly while fruit flies evolve rapidly. If their environment changes rapidly evolution may not be of any help in their survival and plants and animals become extinct. However, if an animal reproduces rapidly, like the the birds on isolated islands, and the fish in tropical steams and the fruit flies in my genetics class, then change can happen rapidly, and plants and animals have a better chance of survival.
    I wonder if you have ever taken a biology class and been exposed to the simple facts about how evolution works. I guess you have not or you would not be asking such basic questions.
    One of my favorite topics is human evolution. Homo sapiens (us) evolved from non-human ancestors and interbred with some of them. You can send a saliva sample to a lab and find out how much Neanderthal DNA still exist in your cells. Most scientists agree that our prehuman ancestors evolved in Africa and then migrated around the world as they continued to evolve into modern humans. The study of DNA tells us that there was much interbreeding and many extinctions before the modern humans inhabited the earth. Fossils also confirm the DNA evidence.
    Now, what have I missed and what don’t you understand in this brief explanation about evolution? You seem like an intelligent person who just never had the opportunity to study evolution in school, or your teacher just screwed up and skipped over the chapter on evolution. It’s never too late for you. The internet is loaded with better explanations about evolution than I am able to give. Evolution is basic science today and part of all public grade school education, and most high school education and certainly all higher education. A biological scientist can have no career or future without an understanding of evolution. Most Catholic and Protestant religious schools offer courses in evolution. 99.9 percent of scientists understand and believe in and understand the importance of evolution. Why don’t you?

  • WisdomLover

    At one time in the distant past, none of our current food existed, until humans started to mess around with breeding and genes, which is human guided evolution.

    Once again package dealing evolution with genetics. We know that trick now, you should probably give it up.

    We know, just about as surely as anything can be known, that the breeding of plants and animals does not depend on the study of evolution because it took place thousands and thousands of years before anyone ever dreamed of evolution.

    Bacteria and viruses evolve and become resistant to antibiotic and anti viral drugs. Surely you must know about that…Cancers become resistant to our anti cancer drugs through evolution, and medical scientists must design new drugs to combat the resistant cancer.

    Which is micro-evolution something that the most obdurate creationist does not deny.

    Farmers depend upon new engineered (evolved) seed that is resistant to blight and insects.

    Package dealing genetics and evolution again. Sorry, no sale.

    Also, do you not see the irony of writing “engineered (evolved)”. There are a lot of Christians who are quite willing to allow that equivalence. But then of course, if you want to say that man evolved (was engineered) from muck, be prepared to deal with talk of a Great Engineer.

    I could go on, but I think you may have got the message.

    Oh, I certainly do. Without package dealing evolution with genetics you have no answer to the claim that the study of evolution (meaning macro-evolution the sort of evolution about which there is contention and dispute), even if assumed true, has no real value to mankind apart from the endless hours of amusement that it gives to those who study it.

    You may have called it animal husbandry or just plant breeding, but it all is enabled by the manipulation of genes and the understanding of evolution.

    Animal husbandry and plant breeding is enabled by the understanding of evolution?

    You honestly should think about things like that, maybe say them aloud, before you write them down. Plant breeding and animal husbandry was going on before the Bronze Age that you love referring to so much as a time of benighted superstition. People knew how to breed horses for speed, dogs for size back when they thought the world sat on the back of a turtle…let alone had any understanding, at all, of evolution.

    Without our ability to manipulate genes and understand evolutionary principals

    You just can’t help yourself can you. Repeat after me “Genetics and Evolution are not the same study”.

    One of my favorite topics is human evolution.

    Good for you. We live in a wealthy tolerant society. We have the luxury to pursue whatever amusements divert us. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    You can send a saliva sample to a lab and find out how much Neanderthal DNA still exist in your cells.

    What you mean by that is that you can find out how similar your DNA is to that of creatures whose remains have been discovered in France and Germany. What a remarkable feat of genetics that is! While not directly all that valuable, I can see how that sort of research might be used in all sorts of important ways.

    But what does it have to do with the study of evolution?

    Most scientists agree that our prehuman ancestors evolved in Africa and then migrated around the world as they continued to evolve into modern humans.

    Remarkable. Did you know that most lovers of Pokémon Go think that Mewtwo is the best attack Pokémon. We all have our favorite hobbies, be it evolution or Pokémon Go, and its always interesting to see what others come up with in the pursuit of their hobbies (even if their hobbies are not ours). So long as we are not required to care all that much about their hobbies.

    A biological scientist can have no career or future without an understanding of evolution.

    Well I certainly acknowledge that if a biologist showed any leaning toward rejecting the thesis that macro-evolution has occurred and it explains the diversity of life on this planet, he would certainly be blackballed by his presumptive colleagues.

    So if the argument is that evolution is important because biologists had better believe it or else, then I can grant that it’s value to people drawn toward biology might be more than mere amusement.

    But there are clearly areas of biology where the advancement of study does not depend on accepting any such thesis.

    99.9 percent of scientists understand and believe in and understand the importance of evolution. Why don’t you?

    Because the explanations given for its oh so great importance always come down to arguments for the importance of genetics along with the pretense that whatever goes for genetics goes for evolution.

    That is why I hold the position I in fact hold. Since I know that the theory of evolution and the book of genesis are logically compatible, I am free to let the evidence carry me wherever it carries me with respect to either thesis independently.

    Where the evidence carries me on the book of Genesis is that I have good reason to believe that the Bible, as a whole, is true. This is based on natural theology and the teachings and resurrection of Christ. So I have good reason to believe that Genesis is true.

    As for evolution, of course I’ve taken classes in biology that dealt with evolution and I’ve read up on the subject and argued with smart people about it. What I’ve come to realize is that I don’t see the point of committing myself to evolution one way or the other. I don’t see what great good to humanity it has done for anyone to pursue that field of study beyond the amusement it gives them. I can, of course, point to plenty of evils that have been perpetrated by its true believers. But that’s perhaps true of anything. If interest in evolution began to wane it wouldn’t concern me. If it grew, it wouldn’t concern me. I’ve just decided that it’s not all that important one way or the other. And since it conflicts with no belief that I do consider important, my policy is “to each his own”.

  • WisdomLover

    Please note that everything you and I have written since my short reply has been swallowed by Disqus.

    I’ll let you figure out how to repeat your lost post if you’d like.

  • cgosling

    Dear WisdomLover – Genetics and evolution are most definitely packaged together. Genetics explains how evolution works. You are the only person on earth who does not think that. The following is a point by point answer to each of your comments.

    Evolution began with the first life on earth, and primitive genes were involved. Today we know how it happened and because we better understand genetics.

    Micro-evolution over time is what makes macro-evolution. Imagine this: Cut one frame out of a movie film and compare it to the immediate frame before and after and you will see little difference. This is “microevolution”. Then, take a frame from the beginning of the film and the end of the film and you will see a major change. This is” macroevolution”. Add up the micro-evolutionary changes and you have macro-evolutionary change.

    Big Agra-business manipulates genes to make them more productive and more resistant to disease. Nature often manages to do the same thing over long periods of time. If environments change too rapidly for natural genetic change, the organism becomes extinct.

    It is true that early humans experimented in plant and animal breeding without any knowledge of genetics, as I have stated many times before. Today, with an understanding of genetics, humans have taken huge strides in agriculture and animal husbandry. This has enabled humans to grow healthier and more productive crops and animals.

    By analyzing our DNA, we can tell where our ancestors originated and what diseases we may be prone or not prone to get. By manipulating genes, we can provide immunity to disease and insure longer and more healthy lives.

    People are drawn to biology not for amusement, but because it is fascinating, does humanity good, and prevents suffering. Genetics and evolution are inexorably tied together. Genetics helps explain how evolution works.

    Unfortunately, your religious beliefs prevent you from following scientific evidence in spite of what you say. Science changes and better explains our world as new evidence is discovered. Have your religious beliefs ever changed? Have Christian beliefs ever changed?

    The study of theology and the claimed resurrection of a person is not proof Genesis is true. It is pure mythology, like every other religion that has ever existed. Millions of people are as sure as you are that their particular religion is true. They are so sure that they have gladly given their lives in the belief that they have a soul and will have an after-life. Being sure about anything is a matter of opinion unless you have undisputable scientific evidence. Wanting something to be true is not evidence of truth.

    Your knowledge of evolution is so sparse that I think you either had a bad science teacher or you flunked the course. Evolution effects all life on earth whether you are interested or not. Unfortunately, there are politicians and religious leaders, who by their ignorance of science and their popularity, put the rest of us at risk. Religion serves a useful purpose and I support it’s good works, but historically, fundamentalist religion has done much harm. Fortunately, it is on the wane in the USA and in other Western Democracies.

    I have tried my best to address your concerns about science and evolution, apparently without much success. Nevertheless, I hope you will keep an open mind concerning the benefits of science and the limitations of religion.

  • cgosling

    Dear WisdomLover -1) No, my friend, evolution and the biblical story of Creation are not compatible, except by your contorted logic. 2) Understanding DNA (genetics) is an integral part of understanding how evolution works. 3) Evolution began after the first life appeared. Evolution is driven by changes (mutations) in DNA which make an organism better able to survive long enough to reproduce. 4) Other factors that drive evolution are environmental change, symbiogenisis and the occasional interbreeding of “species”. 5) You and other Creationists misunderstand the terms, “microevolution” and “macroevolution”. Microevolution refers to as a small change (mutation) in an organism’s DNA, but too small to create a new species. Macroevolution refers to the result of the accumulation of microevolutionary changes. Macroevolutionary change can create a new species, while microevolutionary change cannot. It is the old question of: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”. It is a bogus question because one microevolutionary change between mother and offspring is NEVER enough of a change to create a new species. It takes many, many mutations and long periods of time plus natural selection to make a new species. (A species may be what Genesis refers to as “kind.”) 6) Genetics is usually referred to as the study of genes and DNA. 7) As I already explained to you, mutation driven evolution occurred long before Darwin was born and the term evolution was coined. Gregor Mendel, a Catholic priest, first discovered the basic principals of heredity before Darwin and Wallace arrived at their theory of evolution. Darwin would have been overjoyed to have known about the laws of heredity, which explain how evolution occurs. 8) Although gene mutation drives evolution, it also causes innumerable genetic diseases. One of the most important benefits of understanding gene mutation is the improved treatment of genetic disease as well as understanding the science of immunology and drug resistance disease.
    If you doubt anything I have written, please check it out for yourself. Freethinkers must be able to reject their most cherished beliefs in the light of new and proven evidence. It is very difficult to do this and, in your case, it may not be beneficial to your well being.

  • cgosling

    WisdomLover – I have one last question for you which I don’t believe we have covered. I think I know basically what you believe after our many exchanges, but I wonder why you believe in what you do. For example: Are your current beliefs based upon what you were taught as a child? Or, were you converted suddenly like St. Paul? Or, did you figure your theology out all by yourself from bible study? The reason I ask is that I have never debated or have known anyone who had similar beliefs, and thus I am curious.
    I think I have already shared with you how I came to be an atheist, but here is a quick summary: I was born into a christian family and attended Sunday school through high-school.I became an atheist gradually over several years as I studied biology in high-school and college and did a lot of reading. I hope you will take the time to reply to this inquiry. Thank you for replying so often to me. It has been extremely interesting.

  • Mr. James Parson

    I grew up in a violent religious home. Glad I am out of it. My mom, the abuser, also believes in unconditional love. This is what enabled her to abuse me. She tried to convince me I had no choice but to love her.

    That is is one of the reason I bother with her anymore.

    So I think unconditional love is a silly, if not dangerous, concept.

  • Mr. James Parson

    That’s OK

  • cgosling

    The recent exposure of abuse in the Catholic Church is just the tip of an iceberg that has floated since the Church was established. In fact there is no reason to suppose that all religions suffer from the same abuse. The reason there are so many promises of reform and no action is simply because the churches care more about their survival and income and less about their members. The Catholic Church has a long history of abuse. Perhaps the abuse is less now than it was long ago, but at least within the last hundred years the church acknowledges the abuse and apologizes for it. But, How can the Popes apologize and still not take action? Catholics are leaving the church, but it is still a mystery to me that more of them do not complain and take action. How about impeaching the Pope along with the President? Trump supporters would not impeach their “god” even if he admitted to sexual crimes. Such, is illogical human behavior. How sad.