Awe: Which Has More, Science or Christianity?

You may be surprised to learn that not everyone is convinced by the arguments of New Atheism’s Four Horsemen. I certainly was surprised.

In one negative review of Christopher Hitchens’ God is not Great, the author said:

Hitchens claims that, “As in all cases, the findings of science are far more awe-inspiring than the rantings of the godly.”

Is he serious? I doubt that even Hitchens would find re-runs of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos “far more awe-inspiring” than Michelangelo’s vision of God creating man.

And can this author be serious? He’s saying that the awe from science is dwarfed by that from religion?

Science in Palestine

Here’s a brief caricature of what I imagine “awe” meant in the Old Testament. Imagine a Jew and a non-Jew meet 3000 years ago in Palestine. They’re comparing gods.

Jew: And strong! Let me tell you how strong Yahweh is. See that rock over there? The one as big as a house?

Not-a-Jew: Okay.

Jew: Yahweh could pick it up and throw it just like you’d throw a pebble.

NJ: Wow!

Jew: Yeah, and that mountain over there? He could pick it up and move it across the valley without even trying.

NJ: Impressive.

Jew: And did I tell you that he created everything? And I mean everything! This was thousands of years ago—he formed all the land from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia; from Egypt to Greece. He created the sun and moon. Rainbows, earthquakes—everything!

NJ: I didn’t know that …

Jew: Yeah, so don’t mess with us ’cause he’s on our side.

Yahweh was like a superhero—stronger than Hercules, with better generalship than Alexander, and wiser than Solomon. The Jews needed a big brother to help with all their difficulties with neighboring tribes and countries. It’s nice to have a superhero on your side when there are bullies around (who each have their own superhero protectors).

The imagination of a primitive desert tribe 3000 years ago wasn’t that broad, and that superhero concept of God was about as much as they could imagine.

… vs. science today

Compare that with what modern science has given us in the past couple of hundred years. Let’s ignore the advances that make our lives much more bearable (vaccines, antibiotics, anesthesia, energy, transportation, engineering, etc.) and focus on the cerebral stuff. The mind-expanding stuff. Things like the age of the earth and the universe, the huge distances between stars and galaxies, or the amount of energy stars produce.

Try this experiment: on a clear night, go look at the stars. Now extend your arm and spread your fingers. The nail of your little finger covers one million galaxies. In each galaxy are on average 100 billion stars. This gives a good perspective on the tiny space our earth occupies in the universe.

Or look at the small scale and consider the complexity of a cell. If you think evolution is counterintuitive, consider quantum physics–quantum entanglement, for example.

And notice the irony in the author’s “I doubt that even Hitchens would find re-runs of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos ‘far more awe-inspiring’ than Michelangelo’s vision of God creating man.” Yes, the Sistine Chapel fresco is marvelous, but it was created by a man! Can he be saying that a work of a man trumps nature’s marvels?

The author lists other great works inspired by religion: “Giotto, Bach and Handel, Chartres and St. Peter’s.” Art, music, and architecture—here again, these are all made by humans.

Who, exactly, do you give praise to?

I can’t resist an aside on the topic of what God does vs. what people do. You’ve probably seen the iconic woman who survived the big disaster (hurricane Katrina’s rampage through New Orleans, for example) and is now back on her feet. “Thank you Jesus!” she says. “I lost everything, but now I have clothes and an apartment and a job.”

She seems to forget that Jesus didn’t lift a finger to give her those things—she’s doing well thanks to other people. Her thanks should be aimed at the combination of government aid and charitable donations that helped her out. And while we’re talking about Jesus, he was the guy who brought the disaster in the first place. What she should have said was “Thank you America! And Jesus, we need to talk …”

Of course, this doesn’t address the “Does God exist?” question. Maybe God does exist, and he produced the amazing things we see in nature. But it’s through science that we see these awe-inspiring things, not through the Bible. This marvelous universe is not at all what the early Jews, living on their small Mesopotamian disk of a world with the sun rotating around it, imagined it to be.

The awe we get from religion can’t compare to the awe we get from science.

If God had wanted us to believe in him,
he would have existed.
— Linda Smith

Photo credit: Wikipedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Jason

    “Try this experiment: on a clear night, go look at the stars. Now extend
    your arm and spread your fingers. The nail of your little finger covers
    one million galaxies. In each galaxy are on average 100 billion
    stars. This gives a good perspective on the tiny space our earth
    occupies in the universe.”

    I’m involved with my local astronomy club and actually think backyard astronomy is a great tool for preventing ignorance and superstition. Once someone really comes to terms with the size/scope of the universe and our place in it, silly fables that put humans and Earth at the center of the universe become increasingly hard to swallow.

    • Castilliano

      I’ve heard astronomers (and cosmologists, etc) have the highest percentage of non-believers (90+%).
      Could be on to something.

      • Itarion

        The high levels of education required can’t hurt either.

        • Jason

          You can learn a lot about the universe with a star chart and a backyard telescope, even without a college degree. That’s why astronomy can be such an amazing tool for education. You don’t have to do the math to appreciate the numbers. I love the look on someone’s face when I show them the Hercules cluster for the first time and they try to comprehend it’s size. It really ushers in a perspective shift.

        • Itarion

          I was going with trends. Sciencey folk, including astronomers, amateur or otherwise, tend to have a higher level of education. It’s a correlation, though. I don’t think that it’s causal.

    • gimpi1

      I totally agree, Jason. There’s nothing like looking out into the vastness of space, realizing that those tiny pin-pricks of light are stars as big or bigger than our sun, to give one a sense of scale. And the reality that looking out into space is looking back in time – it gives me shivers! The star I see may not actually be there any more. The light may have been traveling for eons. The star could have gone cold, gone nova, but it still shines! WOW!

      I was more involved in astronomy before getting a job that required me to get up before 4 a.m., however. I only break out the telescope on vacation now. Life’s a bi*ch!

  • RichardSRussell

    I find myself puzzled as to why everybody’s creaming their jeans over the ability to feel awe. You do realize that’s the noun at the root of “awful”, don’t you?

    Generally, I’m more simpatico to folx who start off with “I think …” rather than “I feel …”. The latter approach has proven dreadfully untrustworthy over time.

    • Castilliano

      “Awe” kept its original meaning, being close to “wonder”, “shock”, and “wowitude” (Okay I made that one up.) There’s implied humility in it.

      “Awful” shifted from “full of awe” to its current, more negative connotation that’s closer to “terrible”. Heavy implications of fear and disgust.
      I have to think, maybe the Church unintentionally had something to do with this shift. :)

      • JohnH2

        To stand in the presence of God conscious of ones own imperfections is an awful thing.

        • MNb

          Being surrounded by a mob of zombies is equally awful. Isn’t going to happen either.

        • Pattrsn

          Why would that be?

        • JohnH2

          Awe means a feeling of fear, respect, dread, and wonder: yes, awful has changed to be more negative, but so has awesome in the other direction.

        • Pattrsn

          It’s the fear and dread I’m referring to, why would you feel fear and dread in the presence of your god?

        • Itarion

          Depends on His mood, I would guess. After all, He is all powerful, so accidentally fracturing your mind with the incredible realness of His presence would be a very real risk, as it would be for the presence of any of the Old Ones.

        • smrnda

          So… god is sort of more like Cthulhu? But then, I don’t think I’d really like cthulhu, I’d just be aware that cthulhu is violent and powerful, but in no way does it make cthulhu good.

        • Itarion

          Personally, I prefer Nyarlathotep, but yeah.

          Also, the Great Old Ones exist beyond your petty notions of good and evil.

        • JohnH2

          Mormon 9:1-6 explains better then I can, though Itarion’s answer is also essentially correct.

        • Pattrsn

          I wouldn’t imagine your god has accidents.

        • JohnH2

          I don’t know that for a person that got consumed by standing in the presence of God whether it was accidental or intentional would make that much difference.

        • Pattrsn

          I’m just surprised that clumsiness to the point of accidentally obliterating people was such a problem for god. I can see now though the need for fear and dread.

        • Itarion

          I hope you realize that the description I gave was a paraphrase of the effect of cosmic powers from a fictional pantheon of extra-dimensional hyper-beings. Or something similar.
          http://www.yog-sothoth.com/wiki/index.php/Great_Old_Ones

          And no, he wasn’t a Christian expressing God with an allegory. His deities were immensely powerful, and immensely uncaring or actively malevolent. Moreover, he wasn’t even religious.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft#Religion

        • JohnH2

          Parody of old Book of Mormon commercials:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnbYcB9ctu8

        • Itarion

          Okay. You do realize it your reference seemed so matter-of-fact that I really wasn’t sure. I apologize for my assumption of your ignorance. Thanks for the video.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Reminds me of King James’ comment about St. Paul’s cathedral: it was “awful, pompous, and artificial.” Each word had a much more positive meaning back then.

      • RichardSRussell

        I too was impressed by that observation and copied a reference to it into my “Quotations” database:

        “In Our Language, Simeon Potter illustrates catachresis by reporting that when King James II saw the new St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, he described it as amusing, awful, and artificial. The King meant no offence, and presumably none was taken, because those words then denoted pleasing, awesome (i.e. awe-inspiring), and skilfully achieved, respectively.”

        —Stan Carey, http://stancarey.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/

  • Y. A. Warren

    Not to mention Michelangelo’s paints were a products of the science of color and chemistry.

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head of my biggest beef with the ditto-head believers. They never have to feel connected or grateful for or to anything real in the universe as long as they only acknowledge the unseen God and Jesus. They also have to learn nothing because, in their primitive minds everything is simply magic, like that in a not-too-bright three-year-old’s mind. But then again, they like to be “children of God,” never “adults of the universe.”

  • Y. A. Warren

    Oh, I got carried away and forgot top answer your question: We see awe wherever we want to see it, so that question can’t actually be answered, except by each individual. BTW, another pet peeve, and I have plenty, is that all the bible believers I know argue that we are to “fear” their “God,” not stand in awe of “Him.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      To be fair, I wonder, though, if “fear” hasn’t changed its meaning over time as well.

      That dude who demanded genocide of the Canaanites? I’d be pretty afraid of him, no matter which side I was on.

      • JohnH2

        Awe includes dread, respect, fear, and wonder. Awe has in many cases lost that sense of dread, respect, and fear and so is left as just a sense of wonder, with perhaps a vague sense of humility.

      • Y. A. Warren

        I refuse to follow anyone, deity or not, that rules by fear, and I’d be plenty afraid of the genocidal dude, too. Just finished your book. I enjoyed it. Here’s your blurb: A Modern Christmas Carol is a fun read, true to Bob Seidensticker’s way of asking serious questions with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

        I can somehow picture him giving people that look that your dog gives you when you talk to him, as if saying, “Your view should be slanted by about thirty percent and revisited from that angle.”

  • smrnda

    I actually find a lot of art inspired by religion, particularly Christianity, to be rather dull and uninspiring. (Now, I *do* like Bosch and his psychedelic visions of hell, but that’s a rare exception.) If I compare art from the Renaissance to art today, the art today is (to me) way more interesting since it’s no longer just promo pieces for churches, kings and queens. True, we see extraordinary technique, but it seems sad to see so much talent wasted on what was essentially propaganda.

    On awe, I stand in total awe at how the importation of various food staples changed entire civilizations. How many people didn’t get scurvy since they could eat potatoes in the winter?

    • Itarion

      I especially enjoy Escher, myself. The hands drawing each other is especially mind bending.

      • smrnda

        I’ve always like the Codex Seraphinianus of Luigi Serafini, a bizarre ‘encyclopedia’ in an imaginary language of some surreal world full of strange things. It’s tough to find, but worth the look.

        • Itarion

          That and the Voynich Manuscript. I found a copy of it.

        • smrnda

          Of note – the Voynich manuscript is believed by some to be an inspiration for the Lovecraft Necronomicon, mostly since I believe it was somewhere falsely stated that the Voynich language was similar to Arabic.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Then there are the few scientists who are credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives. The Haber process for creating ammonia (which gave us synthetic fertilizer), and there was some guy in the 70s who was a pioneer in agriculture who boosted crop yields.

      Pretty awesome. Of course, Jesus did kill a fig tree, so that was pretty cool.

      • gimpi1

        I up-vote Dr. Salk. My mother was a polio-survivor. She was infected at the age of three, never walked again. I still remember my grandmother describing the terror all parents felt if their child came down with a cold in the spring. It might be a cold, or it might be polio, and your child’s life and future would hang in the balance. Who says the old days were good?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Would you rather be the King of England 500 years ago or a poor person in the West today? I think the poor person’s life is a lot more secure and comfortable.

        • Kodie

          It is relative. Ask a poor person in the West today if they feel secure and comfortable, and then ask the King of England 500 years ago if he would trade places with a poor person from the future.

  • wtfwjtd

    And to top it off, religion is one of the most stifling and oppressive forces of creativity and imagination in the world. You are to think and do what the church elders tell you to think and do, and nothing more(throw in a heaping helping of “faith” here). . There are plenty of historical examples of organized religion attempting to stifle and stymie science at every turn. You tell me which inspires more awe: The unchanging dogmas, doctrines, rigors, and routines of organized religion, or the unfettered imagination that science unleashes in pursuit of new discovery? I made my decision a long time ago, and it wasn’t even close.

  • MNb

    In general I’m not a fan of the four horsemen, but here I absolutely agree with Hitchens. Moses wandering a desert for 40 years? Homo Sapiens wandering the entire Earth for thousands of years. A handful of empires in the Middle East? The kingdoms of China, India, the empires in the America’s. A global flood? Meteorites hitting the Earth, a complete continent (Antarctica) freezing over. A god snapping his fingers during 6 days? A Big Bang plus the entire cosmology following for some billions of years.
    And what is the biblical equivalent of submarines crossing the Arctic Sea underneath the icecap? That little car exploring Mars?
    Even on the evil side science wins. Genocide? Canaanites, Amalekites etc. are peanuts compared with Stalin, Hitler and Mao. At some point in the 80’s the USA were capable of exploding the entire Earth somewhere between 150 and 200 times with their nuclear arsenal.
    Science is awesome; for good and for bad.

  • KarlUdy

    Leaving aside the total misguidedness of pitting science and religion against each other …

    For a start, Hitchens quote is meaningless. Findings are always going to rate better than rantings in most people’s books. And if anyone thinks that atheists don’t rant, they obviously haven’t come across Christopher Hitchens.

    If we can go beyond that to ask whether science or religion inspires more awe (stupid question though I know it is) then we need to realize that for anything that we find awe-inspiring in science, we also have the counter from religion of a God who dreamed it all up and created it just like that for us to discover and marvel at.

    And I find the potshots at Christian art (which would artists like Michelangelo) to be a little reckless. Would you prefer this? http://www.allposters.com/-st/Russian-Propaganda-Vintage-Art-Posters_c98225_.htm. I will spare you the pain of looking at the architecture produced by atheist regimes, but there is a reason people want to see buildings like St Peter’s and Notre Dame, and rather less are lining up to see the concrete boxes and giant statues of victorious “heroes of the revolution”.

    • Kodie

      Churches are not utilitarian, is that what you’re implying? They are elaborately designed to attract people and demonstrate their worth, materially. Is that what you’re trying to say?

      Kudos to the artisans. That’s some fancy architecture.

    • smrnda

      Are the only choices for art either “Official Christian and Church Financed” or “Eastern Block Soviet Stalin Approved?” If I wanted to say, slam American cinema I could decide to compare the American Pie series to key works of French New Wave Cinema, but that’s hardly an even comparison.

      But let’s look at the state of Christian art and literature *right now.* What is Christian literature giving us aside from “The Purpose Driven Life” (about half the book is empty space for you to scribble in and some rather banal inspirational dreck) and “Left Behind” and a whole bunch of sanitized rubbish and imitative pop music? If anything, religious art and literature and film has taken to being almost exactly what Soviet art and literature was – nothing but shoddy propaganda. The only thing Christian art has is the past back when there wasn’t much competition. I can’t think of a single Christian author from the 20th or 21st century that I can find readable except maybe Flannery O’Connor, and she had little good to say about religious art and literature herself.

      If you want to bash Soviet art, keep in mind that Eastern Europe had very different aesthetic sensibilities than the rest of Europe, and along with propaganda posters many would probably find a great deal of Slavic folk art to be equally unappealing, the way people acclimated to Western classical music find traditional Chinese Opera unappealing. The cathedrals, pyramids, and a whole lot of other buildings were art meant to shock and awe the masses back before there was mass literacy or much in the way of media – you got people’s attention by building some huge wonder of the world, rather than say, a film or recorded music or books.

      But hey, since those cathedrals, we’ve seen a total decline in the value or religious art and an explosion of secular creativity. The best Christians can point to for artistic achievements are centuries past (you might want to read Orwell’s review of CS Lewis where he said that those who compared him to Pilgrim’s Progress really are not reading the words.)

      • KarlUdy

        smrnda,

        You make some fair points there.

        However, there is a lot more to Christian literature than you seem to be aware. Here are some Christian authors from the 20th or 21st century who you might find readable (or at least are widely considered to be):

        – JRR Tolkien

        – CS Lewis

        – TS Eliot

        – Marilynne Robinson

        And more here http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2013/09/the-image-top-25-contemporary-writers-of-faith-list/

        • smrnda

          I would not disagree that there are some Christian authors, though my distaste for epic fantasy removes some of the popular and prolific authors of ‘readable’ to me, though I find non-Christian epic fantasy just as bad. Eliot is an interesting case as his beliefs become more prominent as he got older, but I can’t attribute anything like that to his work declining since it’s just difficult for anyone to produce high quality work over an entire lifetime.

          Again, this could be preferences on my part where I prefer experimental literature (I’d consider JG Ballard’s “The Atrocity Exhibition” and “Crash” to be pretty high up on my list of books I like, and “Tlooth” by Harry Mathews and the always fun Humument) and I tend to find anything tame that doesn’t push the envelope to be a bit dull, and I’d even go so far as to say I think beauty as conventionally conceived in art, music and literature has kind of exhausted its potential. When it comes to music, I’ve usually been overly fascinated by what kind of odd noises I could get out of instruments.

          I suspect part of the issue is that the religious vision may either feel inadequate for the present, or that it’s more a market driven problem – most people, believers or not, have no taste, but believers with no taste also demand art that’s completely inoffensive and devoid of any moral ambiguity, which kind of ties the hands of any good artist. Without a set lesson to teach or worldview to uphold, an artist gets a bit of freedom that I think is essential to creating anything good. I wouldn’t even say that it’s only Christian authors who have that problem. I consider Ayn Rand, an atheist, to be about the worst author I’ve ever read mostly since she’s writing cardboard cutout style propaganda.

        • Itarion

          Epic fantasy is just very easy to do poorly, since it’s just easiest to take a medieval world and toss in some ears and fireballs. The very best epic fantasies usually have some sort of technology based on the magic systems, and the everyday implications thereof. I say this as a fan of (the more recent) epic fantasy. If you want to try them, I would suggest Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson) and Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss). Both of these are radically different stylistically and in world-build from LotR, which

          (along with its knockoffs) has pretty much defined the genre, which is unfortunate.

          Music: there’s actually a whole lot of weird sounding music if you know where to look, and musical creation has nowhere near reached a maximum. Arguably, there’s a real limit, but it’s arbitrarily large.

          I suspect part of the issue is that the religious vision may either feel inadequate for the present, or that it’s more a market driven problem – most people, believers or not, have no taste, but believers with no taste also demand art that’s completely inoffensive and devoid of any moral ambiguity, which kind of ties the hands of any good artist

          I agree wholeheartedly with most people having no/poor taste.

        • smrnda

          I’m definitely a fan of weird sounding music, and it’s definitely still improving. Still a big fan of Cabaret Voltaire for example, even more now that I can see the videos that went along with their music online. I kind of find the early industrial stuff to be interesting since it kind of led music from something that you do with instruments to a more unlimited medium where *any* sound can be used, though the drawback is you end up losing the ability to really handle a live performance. Sampling also gives you an ability to create layers of meaning, but it’s also kind of a product of a civilization which has become saturated with all sorts of media.

          On art, Yue Minjun is pretty interesting.

        • Itarion

          Voltaire. Yes.

          People on the right parts of the internet are pretty cool.

      • JohnH2

        I quite like Ender’s Game. I really like anything by Brandon Sanderson. Twilight is also very popular, though I don’t like it that much and think the relationships are shallow and messed up in it. I know a lot of people like the Seven Habits series. ‘That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made’ was really good, and I wasn’t the only person to think so. Schlock Mercenary isn’t exactly high or fine art, neither is Monster Hunter International, but I enjoy it. I haven’t read ‘I Am Not a Serial Killer’ but I know a lot of people like it. Getting more into Young Adult and Middle Grade would make this be impossibly long, and I am leaving off quite a lot already from the very narrow group that I have listed.

        Apparently the Osmonds were popular at one time. People generally like The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars both have had quite a few, BYU Ballroom Dance Company is unarguably the best, and the Cougarettes are one of the best. Imagine Dragons is popular right now, Lindsey Stirling is also enjoyed by many.

        Obviously, my list is highly incomplete and heavily weighted towards things I find interesting and narrowed to my own particular part of Christianity, but that should be enough to get the picture.

        • Itarion

          On Twilight: You’re not the only one.

          You read Schlock Mercenary too? That’s awesome.

    • MNb

      “a God who dreamed it all up and created”
      Oh sure – that god doesn’t play dice but still dreamed up Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. As long as your belief system can take credit for everything you like anything goes.

      • Pattrsn

        You have to wonder too about a god who dreams up anal fissures, throat cancer and cystic fibrosis.

      • JohnH2

        MNb,

        Einstein was the one that said that God doesn’t play dice and he didn’t actually believe in God.

        I, however, am quite fine with everything being “independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself; otherwise there is no existence”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’m not sure what’s misguided. Christians sometimes say that they find awe in the Christian worldview. I’m simply exploring that Christian claim.

      As for rantings, I’d say that Hitchens had good reason to rant and that his criticism was usually on target.

      Sure, you can say, “Yeah, but God did it all in the first place,” but then you’ve left the domain of evidence, which is where I’d prefer to stay.

    • http://batman-news.com Anton

      Leaving aside the total misguidedness of pitting science and religion against each other …

      I’m a Christian, and I don’t necessarily see the two as completely separate. There’s no denying that religion started out as a sort of inquiry program, and the lore that was passed down through Scripture was supposed to constitute human knowledge of how to understand and appease the being(s) controlling phenomena like weather and disease. It must have saved more people and communities than it hurt, which reinforced people’s confidence in it, and obedience to its dictates became mandatory. When more reliable methods of inquiry came along, the only value left in the religion was the power to make people obey.

      For a start, Hitchens quote is meaningless.

      It makes perfect sense to me. What we know about the universe, whether the wonders of cosmology or the magic world of microbiology, is a lot more staggering to the human imagination than the myths humanity made up to explain the phenomena. That’s not to say I’m not impressed with mythology in a literary sense: humans are born story-tellers, and mythology gives us a cognitive snapshot of primitive humans at their most imaginative and poetic. But which of us would trade what we know about DNA for tales of the stork?

      for anything that we find awe-inspiring in science, we also have the counter from religion of a God who dreamed it all up and created it just like that for us to discover and marvel at.

      But as has been said many times, what’s impressive about the creative power of mindless processes is precisely the fact that there was no creating or guiding will. Evolution by natural selection has created the dizzying complexity we see in the biosphere, but it creates by increasing local fitness at the cost of an astronomical amount of suffering and death. Would you like to credit a divine creator with a process so cruel and haphazard?

      And I find the potshots at Christian art (which would artists like Michelangelo) to be a little reckless.

      As Bob already pointed out, the Sistine Chapel was a human creation. Whatever the inspiration for Christian art, it’s a testament to human endeavor. I’m a big fan of Bach’s; I have no reason to doubt his devotion, but it’s the artistic talent of the man I admire. Aren’t there plenty of talentless believers out there, painting Jesus on velvet or composing Christian rock that’s much less worthy of our admiration?

  • Kodie

    It’s actually the same awe. I know that sounds really stupid, and I find it hard to articulate what I mean by that.

    Awe seems to be the experience of being overwhelmed that you are experiencing something. It doesn’t matter what. Apparently, a lot of experiences of awe are covered by realizing how small one is. In the vast universe, there is, as far as we know, a solitary habitable place, and we are here, and apparently the only creature that can experience awe. I’m not sure about that. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a fan of The Far Side, but animals must be a lot smarter than we think they are. Even trees are smart (if that PBS nature documentary I saw over the summer is correct).

    The fork in the road seems to be attributing it all to a deity. “I exist because he made me, and he made it all to be so that I could be.” People who believe that are simply unimpressed by “random chance.” And I guess I could not have existed and never known the difference, but awe is just experience, it’s some kind of knowledge. I don’t know if it has to be based on anything real. What is not awesome about a painting? I notice the criticism has to do with a particular work of art, and not what the art depicts. What are we supposed to feel for this painting that the religious feel differently? A man laid on his back for 4 years and adeptly illustrated a story. That is an amazing feat. Not everyone could do that.

    But pity the poor fucks whose art also decorates the Sistine Chapel, only one of whom I’ve ever heard, and including other works by Michaelangelo. Their work is garbage, apparently. It livens up the atmosphere, but nobody goes there to look at it. Not only is the Creation of Adam internationally famous, but is it really only gawked at for its subject matter? Are people really touched as if they are witnessing god’s actual hand make actual Adam? It’s really a pilgrimage of vanity and not to appreciate art?

  • JohnH2

    Sorry but Numinous is not scientific nor is anything lesser which has been called ‘awe’. A sense of dread, joyful, wonder that leads men to utter “now I know man is nothing which thing I had never before supposed” is not something which science has the ability to quantify or measure.

    • Itarion

      That’s probably false. Every emotion, up to and including awe, are triggered by hormones and other neurochemicals. The strength of the emotions would be related in some measure to the concentration of said neurochemicals in your system, and so the “degree of awe” would be quantifiable as a concentration of awe neurochemicals.

  • Pattrsn

    Science, Christianity or Art. I’m adding art because art is a way of experiencing reality, or a lens through which you can see reality, independent of science or religion. I’m not refering to just awe induced from experiencing a work of art but more importantly, the awe induced by reality resulting from seeing the world from the perspective of an artist.

  • Pattrsn

    Also there’s a difference between art inspired by religion and art dictated by religion, and perhaps a third category, artists inspired by treating the bible as literature instead of scripture, a source of icons and imagery similar to the use of Greek and Roman pagan mythology. And there’s plenty of great art inspired by the rejection of religion such as Joyce’s Ulysses, a celebration of the secular and ordinary “an extended hymn to the dignity of everyday living”, where the atheist Joyce wrestles the sublime from the clutches of religion.

  • avalon

    Scientists and theists may use the same words but they often mean different things. “Awe” is one of those words. Hitchens is awed by “the findings”, that is, the knowledge gained. The theist is awed by “God creating man”, something that’s a mystery; that is, a lack of knowledge.
    The scientist sees a mystery and has a strong desire to solve it, to find the answers. Men and women of science will dedicate their lives to solving mysteries. But to the theist a mystery is something awe-inspiring, a thing to be admired from a distance and never looked at too closely. For the theist a scientific discovery is a sad thing that destroys awe. Lightning rods destroyed the awe-inspiring power of a god to strike at random. Evolution destroyed the awe-inspiring mystery of a god creating man. Solving the mysteries of consciousness would destroy the awe-inspiring mysteries of the soul.
    Science is awed by the answers it can discovery, theism is awed by what they believe cannot be discovered. You can’t compare the two because they mean different things. One side is awed by knowledge, the other is awed by ignorance.

    • JohnH2

      Science in the west started as a quest to better understand the mind of God as eternal life is to know God. A religious person is quite able to express awe at all the works of God that are found in creation, as seeing the least of Gods creations is to see God moving in His majesty and power, even if we never fully comprehend it.

      That is also why the discoveries in science also inspire awe. Science itself has nothing really to say about awe and there is no reason for which it should, of necessity, inspire awe; However, as it is mapping out the creations of God and discovering means by which God organized the universe and life, that inspires a sense of awe at minimum for the creation, even if the creator is denied, and much more so if the creator is not denied.

      • MNb

        Nice how you confirm unwillingly Avalon’s point with

        “Science in the west started as a quest to better understand the mind of God”
        No, it didn’t. Science in the west started as a quest to better understand the world man was living in. Thales of Milete formulated the first known scientific hypotheses: “the ultimate substance is water”. No divine shenanigans for him.
        It’s true that Scholasticism wanted to understand the mind of god better; typically its scientific progress was zero. It’s also true that Copernicus, Galilei and Newton were believers; still they had to put their belief systems aside to make actual progress. Actually if he hadn’t wasted time on his supernatural beliefs Newton could have accomplished much, much more than he already did.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK, hold on now. Next you’ll be saying that Creationism will also bear no scientific fruit.

      • MNb

        “and much more so if the creator is not denied”
        Once again christianity and the deadly sin of superbia go hand in hand. Who are you to decide for me that a) my huge sense of awe is based on divine inspiration and b) that it would be even huger if I converted? Can you read and analyze my mind perhaps?
        Go repent if you are a serious christian (a very, very rare character as I have learned from people like you).

        • JohnH2

          MNb,

          I claim based on my scriptures that a) is true, even if you are not aware of it being so. Which likewise leads to b); I am sorry that offends you.

        • Itarion

          Have you ever thought about taking a day, or even a few hours, to proceed in your life as though the scriptures are not true? I think that would be a fascinating experience for you.

        • JohnH2

          Itarion,

          I think it would be a fascinating experience for you if you took a day and pretended the laws of gravity no longer applied to you.

          I am quite willing to imagine such a world, but to attempt to live in it would require going against a large amount of experience and knowledge on my part and to violate covenants that I have made. Now, obviously, there was a time when I didn’t have the experience or knowledge that I now have and hadn’t made the covenants that I have made, so I have spent time in my life as though the scriptures are not true.

        • Itarion

          I think it would be a fascinating experience for you if you took a day and pretended the laws of gravity no longer applied to you.

          And this right here is where the laws of the physical world and religion differ. There is no one who denies that there is something holding them to the ground, as this fact is self evidently true. Conversely, religions – all religions, mind you – are NOT self evidently true, requiring a tautological argument from a book to be supported.

          (For those who don’t know tautologies: A tautology is a statement that is always true, regardless of the truth value of it’s constituent parts. For example, “If A being true => B is true, and B being true => A is true, then both A and B are true.” This is always true, though it can be trivially true, so that it’s truth value doesn’t result in any real knowledge gained, because the entirety of the statement is true without caring about the individual truth of either A or B, or the truth of the implications of A and B.)

          The fact you you have formerly lived as though the scriptures are not true means that you have consciously bound yourself to the belief that the scriptures are true. That the scriptures are true for EVERYONE does not follow from the scriptures are true for you. So, your example of living without gravity is the literal inverse of the situation that I proposed to you.

          If you have, as you say, spent time in your life without the truth of scripture, and were presumably unharmed by such time, what reason do you have to believe that the scripture is true beyond those presented within, or within the context of, the scripture you believe is true?

          More concisely, besides the scripture, what proof do you have for the scripture?

        • JohnH2

          You took that differently then I meant it; but whatever.

          The scriptures are or are not true irregardless of what anyone believes about or in them, and they are so for everyone. Given that I do know they are true for me then it is counterfactual for me to act as though they are not true for everyone. So it is not the inverse of your proposal.

          I am mildly surprised that you are not already familiar with my position on the subject; I asked God on the subject and received a witness from God, pursuant to Moroni 10:3-5. That is the reason I believe in the scriptures, and God, and all other supporting evidence is secondary to that.

        • Itarion

          You took that differently then I meant it; but whatever.

          Well, then, how did you mean it?

          The scriptures are or are not true irregardless of what anyone believes about or in them, and they are so for everyone. Given that I do know they are true for me then it is counterfactual for me to act as though they are not true for everyone. So it is not the inverse of your proposal.

          It might not be the precise inverse, but there is still a gulf between laws of religion, and laws of nature. It is this: those who consider themselves not bound by religion are not bound by the laws thereof, but those who claim to be unbound from nature are bound still. There is no way to show the rational irreligious that they are still bound by religious law. If there was, there would be no rational irreligious. Those who claim freedom from laws of nature are generally considered irrational, despite protestations that they are not. Moreover, the laws of nature have methods of testing that can be applied to them, while religious claims are often structured such that testing is nigh impossible.

          I am mildly surprised that you are not already familiar with my position on the subject; I asked God on the subject and received a witness from God, pursuant to Moroni 10:3-5. That is the reason I believe in the scriptures, and God, and all other supporting evidence is secondary to that.

          I am not familiar because you are the first and only Mormon adherent I have spoken with about the Mormon belief system. Although we conversed previously, I’m not sure that the subject of conversion? commitment? confirmation? is there a word that is used for that? came up, and if it did, I apologize for not remembering. Incidentally, a ritual – again for lack of the proper word you would use – that is outlined within the scripture, and performed by you, counts (in my mind, at least) as proof pulled from within the scripture.

        • JohnH2

          I meant that for me it makes as much sense to not live by what I know to be true as it does for you to think that if you jump off a building you will fly.

          The laws of religion apply to those that do not believe in them as to those that do, though culpability for different transgressions is different. Everyone that is accountable has some knowledge of what is right and wrong, and knows when they have done what is right or what is wrong. Those that do wrong have pain of conscious for what they have done wrong, irregardless of what their religion or lack there of says about the subject, and the benefits (or blessings) for doing what is right is available to everyone, regardless of if or what they believe. (And everyone, that is accountable, is morally imperfect, having chosen things they themselves know to be wrong).

          Perhaps it didn’t come up then, I answer various forms of that question very often.

        • Armanatar

          You’re conflating morality and religion in a way that does not necessarily follow from your premises and assuming that all individual’s moral sensibilities are identical. While you are correct in that people doing what they believe to be good brings satisfaction and doing what one believes immoral brings guilt, the same actions may fall in different categories for different people. For example, I am polyamorous, and several months ago I brought my new girlfriend home to meet my fiance. In the context of an obligate monogamous relationship, one’s girlfriend meeting one’s fiance would be unpleasant to say the least, and induce guilt relating to unfaithfulness. In my situation, it was more akin to bringing a girl home to one’s family and seeking their approval, with the commensurate nervousness and excitement and all that. The two situations are not perfectly analogous and the reactions are not thus equivalent, but I have met people (quite a few, in fact), for whom the internalized shame of adultery would cause them to feel guilt even in a consensual polyamorous relationship. Same situation + different people with different life experience = different moral response. You can further support this view with differences in opinion on the morality of many controversial subjects (abortion, LGBTQ rights, gun control, the death penalty, euthanasia, etc.). People don’t disagree on these issues because some want to do the right thing and others want to do the wrong thing. They disagree over which option is the right one, and their moral feelings follow their own beliefs, not those written in any holy book (excepting, of course, those who choose to find their beliefs therein; you know what I mean).

        • JohnH2

          Armanatar,

          ” does not necessarily follow from your premises”

          I am wondering what premises those are, because what I said in relation to morality and its relation to religion does follow. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind informing me which premises you are referring to?

          “assuming that all individual’s moral sensibilities are identical.”

          Nope, I specifically stated that culpability is different and that everyone has some knowledge of what is right and wrong; not that they have the same knowledge. What one doesn’t have a knowledge of one is not culpable for.

          “the same actions may fall in different categories for different people.”

          Obviously true and doesn’t contradict what I said, I actually am using this exact point earlier in the discussion in relation to acting as though the scriptures aren’t true.

          “Same situation + different people with different life experience = different moral response.”

          Precisely so, I don’t see the problem that you think there is in this?

          “They disagree over which option is the right one, and their moral feelings follow their own beliefs,”

          In this instance, I am uninterested in the differences in morality between people but am only referring to precisely what one knows of oneself to be right and what one knows of oneself to be wrong, irregardless of what ones beliefs, philosophy, politics, or society would otherwise say.

          Also, you do know I am Mormon, right?

        • Armanatar

          “Also, you do know I am Mormon, right?”

          Was still a good illustration of my point, and not all Mormons necessarily do the polygamy thing (and a lot of the ones that do do so in a less-than-egalitarian fashion), so I didn’t want to assume.

          I think I see the disconnect here. You speak of the laws of religion as an external thing which holds sway over everyone, and while our own beliefs and moral understandings may or may not mesh with them, those laws still hold sway over us. I don’t view religious laws as meaningful beyond the way they shape our own moral sensibilities; beyond that, they are no different than any other social mores or customs. I don’t see right and wrong as a matter of absolute knowledge, but rather as a combination of our beliefs, formative experiences, culture, and instinctive responses. Is that an apt summary?

        • JohnH2

          The LDS church doesn’t currently practice polygamy largely because it is illegal to do so, and even if it were legal it would require additional revelation to resume the practice. Most of the break offs that do practice polygamy are seriously messed up in how they do it. That said, the doctrine is still there and for instance, multiple members of the current twelve remarried after their spouse died and speak of both wives as their eternal companions.

          ” Is that an apt summary?”

          Seems pretty spot on.

        • Itarion

          Thanks for your assistance.

          You’ve piqued my interest. How does polyamory actually work? What would be a good resource to find out more, without the stereotypes etc?

        • Armanatar

          In practice, it’s not nearly as different from a monogamous relationship as people seem to think it will be. There is some added complexity in that you have multiple relationships which all require varying degrees of attention and work on your part, but (at least in my experience) it all works basically how you’d expect any healthy romantic relationship to work, just with more people. There is some nuance such, but that’s harder to address in a comment on a blog post. The Polyamorous Misanthrope has a blog with some good stuff (mostly geared in a more relationship advice format, but still really good for monogamuggles looking for insight), and the book The Ethical Slut is also a must-read (not just for poly people, either).

        • Itarion

          But you lived without believing in the scriptures for a time as well? If you don’t mind my asking, when did you convert?

          The laws of religion apply to those that do not believe in them as to those that do, though culpability for different transgressions is different.

          Which laws of religion? There are innumerable religions, and I do not see any of them which appear either more or less reasonable than any of the others. Moreover, religious people all believe that their own religion is the true one, so by your own argument, which I understand to be that something is true because someone (in the case of your specific argument, yourself, but more generally, some arbitrary person) is true, then the value of truth would change based upon which person you choose to look at. Moreover, the conglomerated truth, that truth arrived at by looking at ALL people, would include all religions, most of which are mutually exclusive. That seems a very poor truth indeed.

          Everyone that is accountable has some knowledge of what is right and wrong, and knows when they have done what is right or what is wrong.

          Indeed. And many things that are currently deemed “wrong” are suggested and encouraged within many holy books. Thus we see that the scriptures of many religions actively promote actions that are wrong, including your own. (Specifically, racial requirements for entering the priesthood. I believe that we can both agree that racism is a wrong? And yet, it was perpetuated by your true, good religion.)

          Those that do wrong have pain of conscious for what they have done wrong…

          Conscience can be adequately explained through the evolutionary theory applied to social groups, so the invocation of a unseen, godformed laws are unnecessary.

          …irregardless of what their religion or lack there of says about the subject, and the benefits (or blessings) for doing what is right is available to everyone, regardless of if or what they believe.

          That’s odd, when religion says that it is right to believe. Yet, majority atheist/nontheist countries have qualities to them that are generally regarded as “good.” Low divorce rates, high life expectancy, low crime rate, income equity, and similar. It should make you wonder.

        • JohnH2

          I didn’t see this earlier, sorry.

          “But you lived without believing in the scriptures for a time as well? If you don’t mind my asking, when did you convert?”

          My parents are LDS, my dad converted when he was in college, but I didn’t grow up in a area with any sort of LDS presence, being the only one in my school, pretty much the only active member in my age group, growing up in a small branch where gossip and some really crazy beliefs were rampant ( like Glen Beck, but sometimes crazier), etc. Obviously as a kid that really didn’t make much difference but by middle school it did. By which time I was way reading physics and science fiction, and watching Star Trek, Nova, and Cosmos so between that and the anti-mormonism that was expressed at school there was a need for me to figure out what I believed and why I believed it. So I considered myself a stoic, read a lot, and went from there.

          Even knowing the scriptures are true didn’t and hasn’t stopped me reading and considering thing. What caused me to try and figure things out in the first place didn’t change just because I found some answers; The people in the branch still believed crazy things and the kid who had been my best friend still thought I was going to grow horns for being Mormon.

          Truth is independent of any person, as explained with Armanatar.

          “your true, good religion”

          A religion populated by imperfect people. Pure religion is serving others and doing what is right, which happens in every faith, and in none. What makes my faith “true” is that it has a covenant with God, the priesthood, and the keys to exercise that priesthood. It does not currently have all truth and more will be revealed in the future. Who gets that priesthood is God’s prerogative, not mans, for a time it was restricted to the Levites and then extended further. In the case of the ban on the priesthood from the time of Brigham Young to the lifting of the ban; I do not know God’s purposes in allowing that to happen but it was not God that caused it to happen but Brigham Young (who was racist).

          I believe you just shifted what is being referred to by Conscience; and God also is bound by laws. It is not as yet falsifiable about the evolutionary nature or computational nature of Consciousness; meaning that is not yet a scientific theory. They are good working hypothesis though.

          Obviously, atheists wouldn’t get the blessings associated with belief. The benefits for doing right though are not such that one must do everything right to receive any benefit (as otherwise no one would receive any).

        • Itarion

          Mormons get horns? No way! I want horns, that would be the coolest! (Hopefully that’s not a sore point for you, if it is, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t think sore points would be shared on the internet, though.)

          Even knowing the scriptures are true didn’t and hasn’t stopped me reading and considering thing.

          As far as I can tell, that puts you in a minority, and I commend you for it.

          What makes my faith “true” is that it has a covenant with God, the priesthood, and the keys to exercise that priesthood.

          There are a lot of faiths that claim the same. (I think. Define “the keys to exercise that priesthood” if you would be so kind.) The claim to covenant, of being the chosen ones, is a fairly common trend throughout all religions.

          It does not currently have all truth and more will be revealed in the future.

          If you don’t mind my saying, that right there is quite possibly the most dangerous and insidious thought that I have ever heard. The promise of more in the future is what keeps addicts coming back. It lets you unconcernedly explain away what you can’t answer as not yet revealed. If anything is inexplicable, then you don’t need to respond to the question, you just have to suppose that God knows the answer. I’m sorry if that is offensive, and I don’t doubt that it is on some level, but it struck me during our last discussion, and has again, as something extraordinarily dangerous from a nontheist perspective.

          The scriptures are or are not true irregardless of what anyone believes about or in them, and they are so for everyone. Given that I do know they are true for me then it is counterfactual for me to act as though they are not true for everyone

          Truth is independent of any person

          These two don’t sit very well together. Truth is independent of people, and yet the scripture is true for you? It would seem to me that either scripture is true, or it is not, and your beliefs about the veracity of scripture exist independently from the nature of that veracity.

          Who gets that priesthood is God’s prerogative, not mans, for a time it was restricted to the Levites and then extended further. In the case of the ban on the priesthood from the time of Brigham Young to the lifting of the ban; I do not know God’s purposes in allowing that to happen but it was not God that caused it to happen but Brigham Young (who was racist).

          Let’s look instead at Brigham Young’s purpose. He certainly accomplished, during his time in “office”, what it was that he wanted, the perpetuation of a white male ruling class (the priesthood). If men make the rules, then it is man’s prerogative as to who gets into the priesthood. I will note that it was not a divine revelation that changed the priesthood’s requirements, but rather external pressures from the civil rights movements.

          I believe you just shifted what is being referred to by Conscience; and God also is bound by laws. It is not as yet falsifiable about the evolutionary nature or computational nature of Consciousness; meaning that is not yet a scientific theory. They are good working hypothesis though.

          Can we agree, then, that conscience (or C, if you prefer) is knowledge of what is right and wrong? If everyone is programmed by the same God, then why does everyone have a different notion of what is right or wrong? Why do these individual consciences match up nicely with existing factors, race, religion, socio-economic status, gender and sexual identity, geographic location, etc., rather than what would bring more equity to everyone? For surely all of God’s created people should be God’s chosen people, if He is indeed perfectly good.

          Obviously, atheists wouldn’t get the blessings associated with belief. The benefits for doing right though are not such that one must do everything right to receive any benefit (as otherwise no one would receive any).

          Gee, thanks. That’s refreshingly frank. I must ask: Why is it that believing the right thing, selected from an enormously long list, is so important, when beliefsets are, for the most part, determined geographically? As the benefits of doing things right, from what I can see, most of those go to the secular countries. The US is a bit of an outlier, in terms of the religiosity to quality of life, but I think that that can mostly be attributed to the postwar eras in which we were the dominant power.

        • JohnH2

          The claim to a covenant is non-exclusive. The Jews definitely have a covenant with God, one that is actively being fulfilled.

          And we can unconcernedly explain away what is not yet understood by science. It seems extraordinarily more dangerous to me to believe with science or religion that all truth is had and understood As then the search for truth has ended and pure dogmatism has taken hold leading to inquisitions (at the least) either physically or professionally.

          Keys of the priesthood are claimed to be held by the Catholics and Orthodox (and each agrees the other has some though the the extent and nature is one of the main points of disagreement). The Catholic and Mormon claim are utterly contradictory. Protestantism depends on Catholicism having the keys, or at least having had the keys. Evangelicals are usually of the opinion that both the priesthood and the keys (as far as they even think of the keys at all) are diffuse into a priesthood of all believers.

          They keys of the priesthood appear in Matthew 16:19, it is the right of presidency and government of the church, as well as the power to bind (or seal) on earth and in heaven.

          Pretty sure that Brigham Young was much more concerned about not having the church be destroyed by military force and settling the middle of a desert that no other white people wanted to live in. Official Declaration 2 says that it was revelation.

          Agreed about conscience. People are not programed by God. There is quite a huge area of agreement over what is right and wrong and differences in culture, in core beliefs, in understanding of core beliefs, in experience, and in situation lead to some differences in what is right and wrong in specific situations.

          Chosen for what? It seems you are assuming that chosen means chosen for salvation, which isn’t at all the case. Different peoples have different covenants and roles for God but salvation is open and free to all equally.

          I think you didn’t understand what I was saying in terms of belief based on how you responded and what you asked. Right practice is more important than right belief, the devils believe and tremble while someone that has no belief but does the work of the believer has more faith then one that says ‘I believe’. An atheist is not likely to follow specific commands associated with belief generally but can easily be much better than average at other things.

        • Itarion

          The claim to a covenant is non-exclusive. The Jews definitely have a covenant with God, one that is actively being fulfilled.

          And if I remember correctly, it’s the same way with claims of different deities. I still have a problem with that.

          On a related note, what about covenant claims that exclude the possibility of other covenants being held?

          And we can unconcernedly explain away what is not yet understood by science. It seems extraordinarily more dangerous to me to believe with science or religion that all truth is had and understood As then the search for truth has ended and pure dogmatism has taken hold leading to inquisitions (at the least) either physically or professionally.

          I wouldn’t say unconcernedly. That which the unknown consists of is of great scientific interest. Physicists have discovered? identified? created? the Standard Model Theory, which explains most of the possible interactions of “normal” matter. “Normal” matter, the matter that we interact with most commonly, makes up about 5% of the universal composition by current model estimations. Beyond that, the Standard Model has areas within “normal” matter interactions where it breaks down and fails to accurately predict what will happen [quantum gravitational effects, the difference in scale of universal constants, and MORE!], which means that there is a more precise, more accurate, and more complete theory [of everything] waiting to be put together. If these problems were waved away unconcernedly, then we wouldn’t even have the Standard Model. We’d still be back before alchemy, which was itself a search for answers [if one looking in the wrong direction.] Yes, the thought that all truth is already known is dangerous in its own way, I don’t dispute that, but that is an overt danger. The difference between “It will be revealed” and “We will find it” is subtle, and it is the subtlety that makes it dangerous. A difference of inaction and action, waiting or searching. Sloth is a deadly sin for a reason.

          …either physically or professionally.

          Physically would mean by force. What would be professionally?

          The Catholic and Mormon claim are utterly contradictory.

          I asked about this earlier in this comment. Looks like I have my answer: Claims that contradict other claims aren’t wrong, just inaccurate.

          They keys of the priesthood appear in Matthew 16:19, it is the right of presidency and government of the church, as well as the power to bind (or seal) on earth and in heaven.

          The keys to the priesthood, or keys to the kingdom of heaven, were given to Simon Peter, the first “Pope”, though I don’t think that the word was first used until much later. These then passed down through the Catholic priesthood in a single, mostly unbroken line to Francis, the current Pope. Given that the original keys were, and presumably are, in the hands of the Catholic Church, and the Catholics have never recognized the right to said keys to any other group, the Catholic Church still has the keys and all other Christian priesthoods are pretenders. Of course, I also maintain that the Catholics are pretenders too, but hey. Equality for everyone.

          Pretty sure that Brigham Young was much more concerned about not having the church be destroyed by military force and settling the middle of a desert that no other white people wanted to live in. Official Declaration 2 says that it was revelation.

          Well, you would know the history better than me. The question, I suppose, becomes why the LDS waited for a century after his death to change the policy of priesthood racism. The change, whether called revelation or not, still lines up nicely with the very end of the civil rights movement. It leads someone who doesn’t believe in divine revelation to wonder about the true cause and intent of this sudden revelation that lines up so nicely with a general push in the country to not be racist. Would you like to bet that within the next couple of decades, there is a “divine revelation” that women are allowed into the priesthood?

          Agreed about conscience. People are not programed by God. There is quite a huge area of agreement over what is right and wrong and differences in culture, in core beliefs, in understanding of core beliefs, in experience, and in situation lead to some differences in what is right and wrong in specific situations.

          They’re not? That’s also different from what I was expecting [clearly]. Actually very many, very extreme differences in quite a lot of situations. There’s a huge big debate over what morality is and should be and how it gets applied and where it comes from and you probably won’t find 2 people with exactly the same thoughts on this.

          Aside: your god seems fairly non-interventionist, for the most part.

          Chosen for what? It seems you are assuming that chosen means chosen for salvation, which isn’t at all the case. Different peoples have different covenants and roles for God but salvation is open and free to all equally.

          Aww, well that’s nice. What do I need to do to be saved, and what do I need to be saved from?

          Right practice is more important than right belief, the devils believe and tremble while someone that has no belief but does the work of the believer has more faith then one that says ‘I believe’.

          I’m having a little bit of trouble with the syntax on that. Does that boil down to “It’s better to be a good nonbeliever than a bad believer, but better still to be a good believer”, for a given value of good and bad?

        • JohnH2

          Revelation isn’t a passive process either but requires actively seeking God on the subject; that is what those of the Ordain Women organization that are actually believers are after: if the prophet isn’t seeking revelation on the subject God is less likely to reveal more on the subject. Understanding what has already been revealed is also important for the purpose of obtaining revelation.

          Professionally means that I can think of a decent number of fields where a prevailing theory was taken as gospel truth and those that thought differently weren’t able to get published or hold tenure in that field and in the normal journals until decades latter.

          I do not know for certain that the Catholics do not have a part of the priesthood, I do know that their claim to the keys of the priesthood is broken.

          There was, and is, a vast deal of uncertainty about the ban. If it was a matter of policy then it could have been changed at any time, but if it was something that Brigham Young got from God then additional revelation needed to be received. There was a move to treat it as a matter of policy over a decade earlier, but one of the twelve insisted that it wasn’t and that revelation was needed to change it. So revelation was sought, actually had been sought for some time prior to that as well, whether it was God’s odd sense of humor, to teach a lesson, or some design on God’s part (none of which is mutually exclusive) that it was revealed when it was, I don’t know.

          ” there is a “divine revelation” that women are allowed into the priesthood?”

          The situation is more complicated then what I think you know. It seems highly likely that ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ will be canonized in the future, being a proclamation like that already puts it in a unique position that is close to canonical and the way it is used and discussed makes it very highly likely to actually be canonized. It isn’t really new doctrine though, everything was already known in scripture prior to it being released.

          So there is that. Then there is the doctrine of our Heavenly Mother, which at the moment is limited to essentially that She exists. Then there is D&C 132 and everything in their, as well as the promise that more will be revealed on those subjects. Then there is the relation to baptism and birth. Then there is the fact that women do hold and exercise the priesthood in the Temple. Then there are the documents related to the founding of the Relief Society. Then there are the ordinances that women used to perform but do not know perform.

          Everyone in the church that has taken any amount of time to think about the subject or read the scriptures on the subject is certain that more will come. The opinions on the subject range from Valerie Hudson on one end to Ordain Women on the other; with the average women (and man) of the church being much closer to Valerie Hudson’s views then the views of Ordain Women.

          “They’re not?”

          We are co-eternal with God, He raised us as spirits and sent us here so that we can progress further. We are to make our own choices here under imperfect knowledge so that we can see what we will do.

          “What do I need to do to be saved, and what do I need to be saved from?”

          As stated, each of us is morally imperfect and so unable to return to the presence of God and be anything like comfortable in doing so. So salvation is from your own moral imperfections and is the process of becoming morally perfect. To be saved at some point requires being born again of the water and the Spirit as a new being in Christ; which first requires giving up ones moral imperfections, as far as one can, and trusting in Christ’s ability to overcome your moral imperfections and help you to become perfect.

          “little bit of trouble with the syntax on that.”

          If the non-belief is honest then being a good non-believer isn’t that morally different then being a good believer, and is infinitely better then being a bad believer. Yes, it is better to be a believer, but only if one knows for themselves that they should believe.

        • Itarion

          Revelation isn’t a passive process either but requires actively seeking God on the subject; that is what those of the Ordain Women organization that are actually believers are after: if the prophet isn’t seeking revelation on the subject God is less likely to reveal more on the subject. Understanding what has already been revealed is also important for the purpose of obtaining revelation.

          So, you will find what you look for. That happens with or without a god.

          I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
          – Susan B. Anthony
          http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/susanbant403780.html#TkHpF8wZkBBTKEyU.99

          Professionally means that I can think of a decent number of fields where a prevailing theory was taken as gospel truth and those that thought differently weren’t able to get published or hold tenure in that field and in the normal journals until decades latter.

          I won’t deny that this does happen, because – people being people – I don’t doubt that it does. That said, there is a difference between suppressing an true/useful/accurate idea because it is inconvenient, and suppressing an idea because it is ridiculous and violates well established principles. All ideas of merit should be given equal time. Please notice the emphasis, I think that those words are very important.

          [As an aside: this is much of the problem that I have with the direction that Discovery and the History Channels have been going recently. Crackpot “theories” and ridiculous bullshit like “Ancient Aliens” or FUCKING “Amish Mafia” do not belong on channels claiming to deal with reality.]

          There was, and is, a vast deal of uncertainty about the ban. If it was a matter of policy then it could have been changed at any time, but if it was something that Brigham Young got from God then additional revelation needed to be received. There was a move to treat it as a matter of policy over a decade earlier, but one of the twelve insisted that it wasn’t and that revelation was needed to change it. So revelation was sought, actually had been sought for some time prior to that as well, whether it was God’s odd sense of humor, to teach a lesson, or some design on God’s part (none of which is mutually exclusive) that it was revealed when it was, I don’t know.

          Is it really too much to ask that ordinary humans decide what is right and wrong individually, and society generalize for the whole? The immutability of religious doctrine and canonical laws means that historical wrongs are harder to right, and generally last longer. Religious groups have, in general, lagged the secular world in “granting” [although the proper verbiage is probably “admitting the existence of”] rights to [of] minority persons and the previously subjugated.

          We are co-eternal with God, He raised us as spirits and sent us here so that we can progress further. We are to make our own choices here under imperfect knowledge so that we can see what we will do.

          Does this imply that ex-corporeally, we have perfect knowledge? That might cause for some awkwardness post-death. Also, this reminds me of a short story I read somewhere – not sure where, don’t even know how to find it – that everyone is actually the same entity, experiencing the totality of humanity individually, one at a time. The sum total of these experiences generates a god. The gist of the tale is that humanity as a whole is literally one, and in essence a proto-god in a gestative state. A fascinating read, really, very thought provoking, and if I do ever find it again I’ll share it with you.

          As stated, each of us is morally imperfect and so unable to return to the presence of God and be anything like comfortable in doing so. So salvation is from your own moral imperfections and is the process of becoming morally perfect. To be saved at some point requires being born again of the water and the Spirit as a new being in Christ; which first requires giving up ones moral imperfections, as far as one can, and trusting in Christ’s ability to overcome your moral imperfections and help you to become perfect.

          Actually, I really don’t like the idea of perfection. I won’t say that perfection is definitely boring, necessarily, but that it is certainly less interesting than imperfection. Once I am a perfect entity – and an eternal one at that – what is there left to strive for? What is the point of eternal perfection, or perfection eternal? [See comments beginning here:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/10/20-arguments-against-abortion-rebutted-4-of-4/#comment-1091795995 on the boring nature of immortal existence.] There are certainly more ways of being imperfect than of being perfect, and, as the saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” The other saying goes “It’s not the destination, but the journey to get there.”

          If the non-belief is honest then being a good non-believer isn’t that morally different then being a good believer, and is infinitely better then being a bad believer. Yes, it is better to be a believer, but only if one knows for themselves that they should believe.

          That’s about what I figured, and you know, I really don’t mind that philosophy.

        • JohnH2

          “you will find what you look for.”

          Seek and ye shall find, ask and ye shall receive, knock and it will be open unto you. The truth of God is independent of us asking but us knowing it is highly dependent on us seeking the truth from God.

          Mayan Epigraphy is one such field and the prior dominant theory is completely dead now.

          “Does this imply that ex-corporeally, we have perfect knowledge?”

          Only sort of. We certainly have a perfect knowledge of somethings, but not of everything.

          The concept is eternal progression, being perfect is a progression.

          We are all proto-gods more like in a teenage state then a gestative state.

          The works of God never cease meaning that we are not looking at any finite collection of actions but infinite possibilities of actions over infinite time.

        • Kodie

          We are all proto-gods more like in a teenage state then a gestative state.

          Probably the one thing I think we can agree on, but for different reasons.

          I hear theists and atheists alike going on and on about how intelligent our species is. Collectively, we kind of are. Individually, we sometimes can be, and very few actually are. It really depends what kind of intelligence we are measuring. Most people are perfectly equipped to follow and remember instructions. You’re not smarter than a bird because you can drive a car – you’re demonstrating that you’re trainable in a task that birds have no use for. “We” didn’t invent the automobile; a very few pioneers used prior technology to keep pushing what is possible, and make daydreams possible in real life into something most of us take for granted.

          I am awed at what seems like simple technology just barely 100 years old. You want to talk to someone across the ocean – you can dream it, but someone else made it possible. You want to talk to someone across the ocean in real time, and see them when you’re talking to them? Holy shit, when I was a kid, videophones were crazy-talk, like flying cars, and from what I understand, the earliest versions of videophones were a failure. Without the internet, it’s a possible but very disappointing dream come true.

          I do think humans aren’t as smart as we think we are. What do you think makes the average person you know smarter than a trained monkey? I think that is what makes the invention of god so simple. There are vast pools of creativity trying to cram the idea of a god and how it would all work, and that is sort of amazing, but I had the idea a while ago that all animals probably, if they could, believe in some kind of god. They don’t know when they’re going to eat, they don’t know when it’s going to show up. Things happen and they have no idea why. It gets cold every winter and they don’t know why, they just maybe remember that it does and what they’re supposed to do to stock up. Nature has trained them to know what to do, where to look, and what to look for, and what to look out for, but that’s just like driving a car for us. I think animals at the very least believe in the god of finding parking spaces, in animal terms, finding what they’re looking for and thinking it’s pretty divine that they should find it before something else did, escaping frightening life-or-death situations.

          I think your metaphor with us as teenage demi-gods is exactly the kind of comparison one would make if they were immature and believed there was a god over them, ruling their lives, planning for them, and inventing all sorts of stories to answer all the obvious questions of why something like that would even exist, and why it would care about you particularly, and all how it works. None of that stuff was “revealed” to anyone – it was imagined. And if it seemed real to that guy, you are just as capable of swallowing it as well, in your internal thoughts, as if it were actually true, because you are stilted mentally, as if a gullible teenager compared to someone who can analyze better, someone like a scientist, a psychologist, a neural biologist, what have you. The intelligent people.

        • JohnH2

          “stilted mentally” ” intelligent people.”

          Perhaps you would like to explain further what you mean by this, as at the moment they come off as heavily insulting to me and extremely objectively false.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, as humans, we like to give ourselves a big pat on the back and congratulate ourselves for the achievements of a few. You said yourself, in so many words, that we’re not really that intelligent as a species, there are things we don’t know, and more to learn – and that giant ego.

          If you are saying that your religious beliefs are “revealed” to someone and passed along to another, there are scientists who can explain this phenomenon. Would you agree that the explanation is “revealed” to them? Why would it conflict with your account?

        • Pattrsn

          So did god leave you with physical evidence for its existence? Or did this happen only in your head.

        • JohnH2

          You are asking actually multiple unrelated questions right there. As in you are asking me 1) was my initial witness internal? 2) do I have physical evidence for God?.

          1) Is yes, my initial witness was of an internal nature. Alma 32 seems relevant.

          2) Is, in my opinion, a lot less relevant than what you think it is; However, the answer is yes, I have supporting evidence to the internal confirmation. Most people asking this question though are not asking for evidence but for a sign: they are not looking for a piece of data which supports a conclusion but for an event which they can’t deny despite their best efforts as being from God. I don’t have signs which I am willing or able to share, other then the obvious gathering of Israel from their long dispersion.

        • smrnda

          I think the difference is the ability of people to independently confirm the rules, and the ability to do so without relying on subjective feelings.

          We can investigate gravity as an objective, observable physical phenomenon. The verses you gave discuss a completely internal feeling of conviction regarding truths revealed by a god to the person. If you tell me that you know X to be true based on those verses, you’re telling me that you have some kind of internal confirmation (I’m aware of the Mormon idiom ‘burning in the bosom’ or something like that) but I can’t really take subjective feelings as evidence for much of anything.

        • JohnH2

          It is pretty obvious that you can’t take my evidence as much of anything; but you are capable of obtaining it yourself. To the individual it is a strong form of evidence, to anyone else it is a very weak form of evidence.

        • smrnda

          I actually think any evidence for anything that rests on subjective feelings is pretty weak, and almost invalid. I don’t really consider my own subjective feelings that reliable, mostly since I know that our perceptions as humans isn’t reliable, and for anything I really care to know, I would have to find something better.

          If someone asked me whether or not my current relationship was good for me, my strongest piece of evidence is that, since I have been with my partner, I haven’t had anywhere near the level of psychiatric problems I used to have, all while taking about the same level of meds. It is conceivable, to me, that a person can be deluded by their feelings about the quality of a relationship.

          Were I to decide to obtain evidence of a god, I’m sure that if I didn’t, the followers of the god would tell me I did it wrong or else was just too biased from the start. For something like a god, I’d need evidence like ‘invoking Zeus through this ceremony leads to lighting and thunder’ – some specific enough claim to be falsified.

        • gimpi1

          I regard that kind of evidence as a sort of “non-exportable commodity.” You have it, but you really can’t share it, and no one else can truly get it. By definition, no objective party can collaborate it. Without that collaboration, the rest of us have the right to take your evidence with a large grain of salt.

          To my mind, that sort of evidence is fine for deciding how to live your life, but not for controlling how others live theirs. So, I’m glad you have found a spiritual home in the Mormon Church, but please don’t try to pass laws forcing the rest of us to follow your path.

        • gimpi1

          I’m not exactly an Atheist, John, but I can see the flaw in your suggestion. You can decide that gravity no longer applies to you, but a quick jump in the air will prove you wrong. The physical world will offer no such reality-check if you decide to reject the Gospels. Much of the world can, and does, live just fine without sharing your beliefs.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        There’s been science all over the world. Modern science came out of Europe, but it’s not like we haven’t seen science in the Muslim world, China, India, and so on. If Stonehenge really was astronomically aligned, that beats Christianity, Judaism, and the pyramids by quite a long time.

        Your last paragraph is you saying how you interpret science through a Christian lens. OK, but it’s not like science takes us there.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/damekellen/ Dame Kellen

    If “awe” is a word which here means “getting high off ignorance,” then, no, you can’t get that from science. Dummy.

  • Greg G.

    The brain is capable of feeling awe. It should be expected that people would have discovered things that stimulate that brain function and incorporated them into art and religion, even if by accident. I rank things that are contrived to inspire awe less awesome than things that are awesome but not contrived to be.

    I saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo last fall, plus other fantastic art enroute through the Louvre. I could appreciate the awe of them, the history, thinking of all the people who also admired them before my great-great-grandfather lived. I visited the Cowboy Hall of Fame in OKC once with an artist who pointed out the various techniques of those artists. I saw a series of paintings by one artist of a line of Indians on horseback with rolling hills in the background. The following paintings had ever steeper peaks until the final one had majestic mountains behind them. Being aware of this technique of putting awe into a painting made viewing paintings in the Louvre more enjoyable. Having your emotions manipulated and being aware of the manipulation multiplies the experience.

    Yet the awe inspired by trying to comprehend superclusters of galaxies, the number of atoms in a cell, or the complexities of human society puts art to shame. It seems that those who think religious awe is greater seem ignorant of science. The same goes for those who think knowing the relationships between insects and flowers diminish the appreciation of the beauty of the flower. Those peopke are missing so much and will never realize the beauty they aren’t getting.

    • Jason

      “Yet the awe inspired by trying to comprehend superclusters of galaxies,
      the number of atoms in a cell, or the complexities of human society puts
      art to shame. ”

      But art is not just a thing by itself. As you said, it’s the product of an amazingly complex brain, which is itself a product of universe and biological evolution. To me, that really makes art more amazing than, for example, superclusters, but I get your basic point. It’s just that while galaxaxies are perhaps in and of themselves more amazing than most things humans make, clusters of galaxies are really more of a prerequisite for humans and human art, society, etc. Without billions of galaxies you never have the chance for a planet with life and eventually all the stuff that humans produce. So galaxies are rather mundane in this universe! Now a good oil painting, there’s something you don’t find all over the place. I guess what I’m trying to say is that humans don’t really do anything outside of the rest of the complexity of the universe and it’s all one big amazing phenomenon.

      • Greg G.

        Would that oil painting be as awesome if it was mass produced? I don’t know. Where I used to get Chinese take-out, there was a huge print of a photograph of the Great Wall. I assume it was mass produced and it also showed some of the tourist trade built up around it but I was fascinated by the picture because of the magnified detail I’d never seen before. It showed how the wall incorporated the hillside to enhance the barrier. I read up on the Wall because of the picture. It wasn’t the picture itself that inspired the awe but the subject matter.

        I used to go to art exhibits with a girlfriend who minored in art. I recall a bright red canvas that drew your eyes. She explained that the artist had built the color by thin coats of various shades of yellows and oranges beneath the red. From the right distance the yellows were sort of visible to the subconcious but the conscious eye only saw red. It’s fascinating how the brain works like that. But itstills seems to me that art is contrived to manipulate brain functions by exploiting curious subconcious system of vision or emotion.

        Now learning that superclusters are independent structures and the space is expanding so that each supercluster is accelerating away from each other and space itself is not limited by the speed of light so that eventually every supercluster will be traveling away from the others at greater than light speed and becoming invisible. Now that is unmitigated awesome!

        • Kodie

          Awe is apparently the brain’s reaction to realizing something. It’s not from looking at something, although looking at something can be the catalyst for realizing whatever awes you.

          I really think this is a weird topic, like, whose awe is better? I think it’s all cool, but the contest here is whose awe is based on something authentic? Then I would have to say it doesn’t really matter. It’s whatever floats your boat. You don’t have to look at the stars to feel awe about the universe or whatever, you can just remember things you know, and 99.9% of the time, you are doing some bullshit forgetting things in your daily routine, then you remember again and get a sense of awe. You find something new on the internet, and it gives you awe.

          I mean, I’ve had awe about evaporation. You don’t think a lot about it every time you hang your wet clothes, or leave your clean dishes on the rack. Someone figured out bread. I mean, in the first place, fire and cooking, but people continue to hone the craft of making nourishment an event that takes place in your mouth, and they didn’t stop at bread, they invented pretzels and ice cream cones and pasta.

          I live on a planet. Every living thing eats, somehow, and we’re the only ones to say “how many variations of the same thing can we come up with?”

          All a painting is is language. Someone thought that and somehow manufactured it from inside their brain, with their hands. Is it more awe to see what interesting story they have or the talent they have in depicting it, or both? Not all art is equally good, but I tend toward most people don’t have taste, and judge art on the amount of time it looks like it took and how elaborate it is. How closely they can match an actual landscape or likeness of what they saw seems to be an admired talent, while taking a photo seems to be something anyone can do. I don’t know how to judge a photographer. Good photographs seem to be ones that capture such a split-second moment perfectly, and in a time when you didn’t know how your picture turned out until you developed it and rolls of film had to be changed so you might miss it, even if you can afford to snap away. It’s really awesome that you can record life on paper.

          I’m watching a documentary on PBS right now about how Bentleys are made. It is pretty awesome.

          http://video.pbs.org/program/raw-ready/

    • Danel Maloy

      Honestly, the Mona Lisa is a piece of shit.

      • Greg G.

        In that case, I don’t regret fighting through the crowd to get a front row view.

      • Pattrsn

        Thank you father Jack

  • Jim Hoerst

    Consider:
    The Bible vs. the cell phone, which one changed the world for the better for more people?
    Neil Armstrong walking on the moon vs. Jesus walking or water.
    Elijah imploring God to make fire from heaven consume an alter or an atomic bomb?
    Jesus feeding the five thousand vs Cyrus McCormick and a machine that makes the harvesting of wheat a part time job.

    The only awe that Biblical miracles inspire is in the mystery of how could so many believe so much BS for so long with so much fervency.

    Other thoughts:

    Miracles and claims of the supernatural were reasons for believing before the enlightenment. Claims that Jesus was born of a virgin, turned water into wine and rose from the dead made it easier to believe Jesus was the Messiah (presuming there was a “Jesus.”) Now those claims are a liability to belief because now that we understand science and natural law we have a lot more respect for it and a lot more skepticism for those who claim exceptions to it. I may be able to convince you that Elvis was the greatest entertainer of all time but convincing you that Elvis rose from dead would be another issue.

    The idea of “awe” is an extension of the gospel of the missing parts. Believers are telling us that we are incomplete as humans because as atheists we don’t have “awe” and are therefore lesser humans. We could get our “awe” on if only we could subscribe to ideas that seem to us to be patently absurd.

    • Niemand

      Elijah imploring God to make fire from heaven consume an alter or an atomic bomb?

      Elijah was more harmless. The atomic bomb has destroyed two cities and caused unknown damage due to distortion of international politics. OTOH, religion inspires people to use weapons, whether sticks, atomic bombs, or airplanes, so it’s kind of hard to say for sure.

      • Jim Hoerst

        The category is what is more awe inspiring, not what is more beneficial to humanity.
        But while we’re on the topic the Elijah story ends with the rival priests of Baal getting killed. So Bible story is as much an instrument of war as the Atom Bomb.

    • Itarion

      It’s not that Elvis rose from the dead so much as faked his death and went into hiding, because he got tired of his life of fame and fortune. And if you find him, he’ll grant you his entertainment powers, up to and including his fairly unique speech patterns, so that you can become the greatest Elvis impersonator of all time.

  • Norm Donnan

    Considering that science is only ever so slowly discovering bit by bit how God has done things, my vote goes to God.

    • Ron

      R’amen! His Noodliness can not be denied.

    • Pattrsn

      I thought the bible was supposed to tell us that.

    • Compuholic

      Which only goes to show that God is at best an extremely incompetent teacher. He is so bad that he is on par with a non-existent teacher.

  • stanz2reason

    Scientific claim: “Based on current measurements we’ve calculated the age of the universe to be nearly 14 billions years old.”

    Our response: “Wow, that’s amazing!!”

    Religious claim: “Based on a calculations made using an arbitrary book of suspicious authenticity we’ve calculated the age of the universe to be roughly 6000 years old.”

    Our response: “Awwwwww… isn’t that cute? Awwwwww… Aren’t you just precious?”

    Religion has more awe hands down.

    • Itarion

      we’ve calculated the age of the universe to be roughly 6000 years old.

      But depending on who you ask, it may be as much as twice that old. Which is a very poor accuracy.

  • R Vogel

    Awe: Which Has More, Science or Christianity?
    Neither. It is a response in the observer not a quality of the observed. ;p

    • MNb

      Yes and you may safely assume that the vast majority of the commenters here is aware of it. If someone says that he is far more in awe by Noah in the Sinai than by Homo Sapiens wandering all over the world it’s end of discussion.
      You’re kicking in an open door.

      • R Vogel

        It’s a joke, mate. Hence the ;p
        And on comments on internet sites I think it is a stretch to assume anything safely. Cheers!

  • Danel Maloy

    If I could convert transcripts of useless arguments into money, then I would copy all the comments on this website, sell them, and go live in the Bahamas as a billionaire.

    • Pattrsn

      Nothing like a bit of a troll wank is there.

  • Geosis

    I am awed, and not in the good ŵay, that people think that something mindless created the human mind. Having built a computer, I think it’s unbelievable that something unintelligent created intelligent beings. One reason people believe that is a prior commitment to materialism. Another reason is that people repeatedly hear the same scientific myth of abiogenises since childhood.

    • MNb

      Intelligent beings weren’t created.
      There is no scientific myth of abiogenesis. There are several hypotheses, which are not quite the same.
      Good work – five lines and you’ve got two key points wrong. Still Ken Ham topped you; he only needed five words for a logical fallacy.

      • Geosis

        Look’ if I told you that a rock can learn to think by shaking it around in slime in however many years you would call me crazy. That is basically what inert chemicals forming cells is. Only biogenises has ever been observed. And if the age of the universe is finite, the source of life is eternal. Even proposing that aliens generated only leads us to question how they became alive. Only biogenesis has ever been observed. The only difference between this and an origins myth is that scientists propose it. A materialist cosmology demands that life comes from nonlife.

        • Pattrsn

          Any reason why it couldn’t?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, see, this is why common sense by laymen like us applied to the problems at the forefront of science doesn’t do much. That’s why scientists have to go to college for so long. If it were easy, then random blatherings like this would be on target.

          You and I need to leave the nice scientists alone and let them do their work.

        • R Vogel

          It was so much easier when everything was water. Thales had no idea how good he had it!

        • MNb

          “A materialist cosmology demands that life comes from nonlife.”
          Scientific lesson nr. 1: just because you can’t imagine something it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

          “has ever been observed”
          In Suriname, where I live, there is a lot of sparsly populated jungle. If a tree falls nobody observes it. According to your logic some supernatural entity caused it’s fall.
          Now that’s what I call crazy.

        • smrnda

          “Inert” chemicals? I’m not a chemist, but I don’t recall chemicals being particularly inert.

        • gimpi1

          Rocks have nothing to do with the development of intelligence.

          The idea that intelligence is adaptive, and more intelligent animals are more likely to survive to leave offspring is all that is necessary to understand the development of the human mind.

          The development of life and intelligence are two different topics that you merged, badly.

          To my knowledge, there is no satisfactory explanation for abiogenesis yet. There are several hypotheses, none fully satisfactory. We’re still working on it. But just saying, “God did it,” is no explanation at all.

    • Scott_In_OH

      One reason people believe that is a prior commitment to materialism. Another reason is that people repeatedly hear the same scientific myth of abiogenises since childhood.

      I believe it for neither reason. Now what?

    • smrnda

      I have constructed computers as well and I am a decent bicycle mechanic, and I can even fix some common household devices.

      If I compare a computer to the brain, or the body of a human, the computer is nice, neat, efficient and orderly. We’re a bit on the chaotic and often poorly planned side – we work well enough, but this doesn’t look like a design someone would come up with.

      The other issue is the vast difference between machine intelligence and human intelligence. Machines are great at things we are bad at, but we are good at just the type of things that we’d have needed to be if we evolved. We show many signs of evolving – I mean, why can’t we make our own vitamin C like other animals?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        I agree. Eukaryotic cells are the biological equivalent of spaghetti code. Yeah, they work. More or less. But this Rube Goldberg machine isn’t what you’d expect from a human designer.

        OK, admittedly we’re not talking about a human designer but about one who is a billion times smarter. Fair enough–then Christians would do well to not bring up a design analogy if the analogy doesn’t work.

    • Ignatius Antioch

      Gotta be honest, my first thought on reading “unbelievable that…” is, “clearly this isn’t someone who understand recursion.”

  • MaryLouiseC

    But God made all those stars and galaxies that astound you. Man’s discovery of what God has done and how he has done it isn’t nearly as significant, wonderful or amazing as God having created everything in the first place.

    After all, what is science but people figuring out how God has done things?

    • Kodie

      I am more amazed there is no creator and these things exist and I can see them anyway. Some dude in his garage made all this? Not impressed.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Family Guy clarifies how God created through the Big Bang here (very poor video quality–sorry).


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X