Pastor Tim’s response (to Siamang)

Tim responded to the Creationism paper:

hey guys,
sorry, i’m not a good blogger.

i’ll weigh in with Siamang here – he has the most problems with my paper.

let me say again – i did not ever intend for this paper to be a web discussion. it was a project i did for my own church. Yes, the 20 teachers were all my kids teachers – 3 kids + multiple teachers along the way.
it’s on the web only because i made it available to the people at church (it’s cheaper than printing a bunch of copies).
i’m not trying to promote it as a document for the purpose of furthering ID.

Yes, Siamang – i did read the article in NG. it’s what really made me want to put the cover on there. the article was pathetic. i don’t have a copy of it any more, but it was in my memory just a 4 page article with mostly pictures. It seemed to me that if NG wanted to put up a defense of evolution, they did a poor job. but i do agree that defense was their intent.

lets see – nice shot at the “doubt if they still have heard a decent argument for anything but naturalism.”
got my science education on the internet – $25 for a degree in anything i wanted.

Quote mining. Lying. Lazy.

The quotes in question are really minor for me. i did quote them from sources i thought i could trust. i don’t have the energy to decide whether you are right or they are – so i’ll take them off. not important. if they were misquoted, my bad.

I did Google the Second law of the thermowhatchacalit (too big a word for me)

Here is Wilkipedia’s explanation:
“In a general sense, the Second Law says that the differences between systems in contact with each other tend to even out. Pressure differences, density differences, and particularly temperature differences, all tend to equalize if given the opportunity. This means that an isolated system will eventually come to have a uniform temperature. A thermodynamic engine is an engine that provides useful work from the difference in temperature of two bodies. Since any thermodynamic engine requires such a temperature difference, it follows that no useful work can be derived from an isolated system in equilibrium, there must always be energy fed from the outside”.

i’m sure i oversimplified the case in my dumb document, but i just see no place in our world where systems left to themselves ever get better without help from the outside.

however – to be fair – Wilkepedia goes on to say; “It is occasionally claimed that the Second Law is incompatible with autonomous self-organisation, or even the coming into existence of complex systems. The entry self-organisation explains how this claim is a misconception. (I read that but couldn’t understand it; man this science junk is hard).

so i’ll take that out too.

and yes, Cautious- i know that the CAtholic church believes a lot of things about a lot of things. and i agree with them on some and disagree on some others.
but again – i’m not saying i know which version of Genesis is the right one, or if one or the other is allegory.
i don’t know if humans are really old, or young. i don’t know whether the earth is young or old. i was just fascinated by the possibilities for a young earth.

it really doesn’t matter to me either way. we have pastor’s on staff who believe both ways on the issue. I have great friends who believe God started the Big BAng and that was it. they can still be Christians.

(by the way we have just under a billion members -but it’s in our 5 year plan) WORLD DOMINATION FOR PARKVIEW\FIELD\WHATEVER.

which leads me to my final comment because i need to get the pizza ordered.

i’m tired of arguing this subject. one more time, i wrote this paper to open the minds of my kids teachers to the possibilities of creationism. i may have misquoted, i may have oversimplified – i didn’t take the time i would have if i’d planned on it being the only discussion on an athiest websight.

i feel like this thing is taking us away from the larger discussion.

Siamang says, “The real God, if He’s really out there, wrote the whole universe. Don’t fear it.” seriously, i couldn’t fear it any less! i want us all to study the crud out of the universe. because every time we do – more people have the opportunity to see the God who made it.

but this will mean – ladies and gentlemen – that you have to open yourselves to the possibility of the supernatural.

I’m very cool with Anthony Flew’s “God of the GAps” as a start. but that still means “supernatural.”

The paper will be off your web – shortly. i apologize for taking up the space – i thought that’s why Al Gore made it so BIG.

Let’s go back to talking about God.

Tim

  • cautious

    “but this will mean – ladies and gentlemen – that you have to open yourselves to the possibility of the supernatural.”

    I’m open to the possibility of the supernatural. While I do not think that the origin of our minds, our species, life, and the universe are sacred mysteries, I do believe that they are questions still not entirely answered, and thus I support people having many opinions on them. The more potential answers we think of, the better our chances are of getting the right answer, right?

    However, I do think that there are questions that have been answered, and the age of the Earth is one of them. I hate to be so dogmatic about it but questioning that is not being skeptical or listening to both sides of an argument, it’s denying a fact.

    I live in a country where science funding for schools is not unlimited, but at the same time I think that trying to advertise a young earth viewpoint to science educators is not illegal or bad or anything.

    I just think that, similar to someone who says that maybe the Holocaust never happened or that maybe aliens built the pyramids, a young-earth proponent should then expect to alienate people based on his or her views.

    And also it is somewhat offensive to me when people assault the science I study. Unlike a Holocaust survivor who can get legitimately angry at someone who questions that event’s reality, I can only try and hope that some people will let their faith and science co-exist.

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen aka Ir

    Pastor Tim wrote:

    i’m tired of arguing this subject. one more time, i wrote this paper to open the minds of my kids teachers to the possibilities of creationism. i may have misquoted, i may have oversimplified – i didn’t take the time i would have if i’d planned on it being the only discussion on an athiest websight.

    Pastor Tim,

    With all due respect, this doesn’t sit quite right with me and so I posted about it on the Off The Map eBay atheist blog here:

    Is Cutting Corners Ever Justified?

    I’m sorry if you’ve been insulted as this exchange has progressed. I was very impressed how polite and respectful you were to Hemant in the three dialogs.

    I think this is part of the problem:

    A Christian might be very polite and respectful to atheists in demeanor, yet that will be negated in the minds of some atheists if the Christian appears inappropriately dismissive in the content of what they say about atheist viewpoints/opinions.

    You said “Let’s go back to talking about God”.

    Sure, I can go back to talking about God. Let’s talk about this: what does God require of humans – all humans – pastors included?

    Isn’t it – (Micah 6:8 – you probably know it)

    humility (defensiveness and humility aren’t compatible)
    justice (writing inaccurate things about other people isn’t just, regardless of whether your comments are intended for a wide or narrow audience)
    kindness (as Jesus explained, this means kindness to those who are most unkind to you, not just to your friends)

    Helen

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen aka Ir

    [sorry about the formatting above, folks]

  • Siamang

    Tim,

    Thanks for the response. I’m going to try a different approach here, and let me say I do appreciate your time.

    Let me attempt a small lesson on the Second Law, since it is actually pretty simple. And that’ll allow me to scratch my science itch and we can dispense with the science for the rest of the post.

    You wrote “i’m sure i oversimplified the case in my dumb document, but i just see no place in our world where systems left to themselves ever get better without help from the outside.”

    BINGO! You hit the nail right on the head. The answer is right there… you UNDERSTAND it. You just don’t know that you understand it.

    “Systems don’t get better without help from the outside.” That’s it, in a nutshell.

    If the planet earth was spinning alone in a void in space, you’d never see order arise. You’d never see complexity. This is true.

    But you’re forgetting one big thing: The sun. Pumping energy into the system every second of every day of every year. The Sun. That’s why the world isn’t a closed system. That’s why we get complexity not entropy.

    An analogy: You know how a room, when left alone, collects dust? Nothing in a room gets better with neglect. But if you go into that room and expend your elbow-grease energy, the room gets better, cleaner, more ordered?

    The sun is adding that energy.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that closed systems tend toward entropy. But the earth isn’t a closed system, it’s POWERED by the sun. A gigantic nuclear furnace adding energy all the time.

    The second law of thermodynamics is a statement about energy, however. It is not a statement about cleaning rooms, or painting houses or biology. Everything in the world follows the Second Law, it’s true. But the danger of the messy room analogy is that people mistake the analogy for the law itself.

    The Second law is a statement about energy. It is about the relationship between energy and entropy, which in lay terms is roughly analogous to the relationship between order and disorder. You can call energy “order” if you want. You can call entropy “disorder” if you want.

    But you have to realize that the sun is adding order to the system in terms of 1.3 kilowatts for every square meter of the earth the sunlight is hitting.

    Anyway, science lesson over.

  • HappyNat

    Tim,

    I appreciate you being open to talk with people of all beliefs, but your response to the criticisms of your letter is disappointing. Your basic defense is that science is too hard for you to understand. In your response, although I assume it was meant to be humorous, just comes across as you hiding behind ignorance. It seems if this was important enough for you to write a letter to your children’s teachers you would take time to try and understand the issue.

    I’ve seen much more thoughtful responses from you so I’ll chalk it up to you having a bad day.

    HappyNat

  • Siamang

    Tim, you wrote: ” i’m tired of arguing this subject. one more time, i wrote this paper to open the minds of my kids teachers to the possibilities of creationism. i may have misquoted, i may have oversimplified – i didn’t take the time i would have if i’d planned on it being the only discussion on an athiest websight.”

    Well, the beauty of the internet is that if you put something on the internet there is a chance that other people on the internet may read it and discuss it on the internet. Hmmm….. that sounds kinda like we need to get a life. ;-)

    But anyway.

    Let me try an analogy for you, see if it is helpful. Let me pull this into a realm you have expertise in.

    You’re probably familiar with the Dan Brown novel, the DaVinci Code. The DaVinci code offers a “competing narrative” to the gospels as taught by most of Christianity. I’ll say right here and now to you in setting up this analogy, that I recognize Brown’s novel as the far-fetched and historically inaccurate to the level of outright laughability. Don’t for a moment think I actually believe Brown’s hypotheses.

    But for the purposes of illustration, they’ll suffice.

    Let’s say I have some children who go to Parkview’s Sunday School. And I have friends at the church as well, and their kids go too.

    Okay, now let’s say that I draft a 30 page letter with ample footnotes to the Sunday School teacher pointing out the various ideas in Dan Brown’s novel. That Jesus was married and had a child. That Mary Magdeline was his wife and rightful heir of God’s church on Earth. That the bible was twisted and manipulated to make it seem like she was a prostitute. That the teachings of Christ have been lost in a power struggle, and the real teachings of christ can be found in various apocrypha.

    Now, I’m sure you bristle at the thought. Which you should, as a Christian, as this is offensive stuff.

    But here’s the deal, HOW do you know this is offensive? How do you know it’s wrong?

    The answer is, research. Scolarly research allows us to understand about the history of the church. Historical information soundly refutes the Dan Brown position.

    But in my imaginary role as a parent at Parkview, I would like your sunday school to “teach the controversy.” Teach both sides of the DaVinci Debate, so that students can make up their own mind.

    Now imagine a larger problem, which isn’t too far from the truth. Dan Brown’s novel is an international bestseller. The movie is a blockbuster. It’s spawned dozens of spin-offs, rip-offs and even some refutations.

    It has become a cultural phenomenon which attacks the central issue of christianity: the reliability of the Gospels. And it’s PHENOMENALLY popular. And it’s backed by dozens of poorly researched, quote-mined, conspiracy-theory trashy books.

    It is DEMONSTRABLY wrong, but to demonstrate how wrong it is, the people need to get their head inside bible scholarship to learn something about it. They have to get smarter about this stuff before they can learn how to tell the difference between reliable sources on church history and unreliable ones.

    Now back to my analogy, suppose all the proponents of the DaVinci Code start making movements in the legislatures to start to mandate that churches teach the DaVinci controversy in sunday schools and sermons. Suppose all the millions of fans of the DaVinci code start flexing their muscles and picket churches with signs that say “Tell the truth about the Sacred Magdeline!”

    Now imagine I start a movement within your church that we need to teach that controversy. But every time you try to set me straight with facts I wave them off and say “I don’t have the energy to fight you on every detail of that. I just find the possibilty fascinating, I mean, how do we REALLY know? Were YOU THERE, Pastor Tim??!? Well, how do you know?”

    Anyway, that’s my analogy. The way we can know that Dan Brown’s conspiracy theory isn’t true is to actually learn something about bible scholarship and start to understand and discern the difference between solid scholarship and poor scholarship.

    The way we can know that creationism isn’t true is to learn something about the science, and discern the difference between solid scientific evidence and poor evidence.

    By your quotes, It is plain to see that you have put your trust in POOR scholars. Good scholars would not have supplied you with such misinformation and dishonest representation of the statements of individuals.

    I cannot force you to exert the effort required to stop getting your “science” from fringe crackpots like Ken Ham, and start getting it from the Smithsonian, National Academy of the Sciences, NASA, etc.

    But I can ask you, as a man with a degree of authority, a bully-pulpit, as it were, to take your role seriously.

    By putting that document on the church’s official website, you have got to expect that it will be part of the interaction between parents, children, teachers and the church.

    And in that discussion, you, and by extenstion your church, are weighing in. In this discussion, you are attempting to argue, not theologically, but SCIENTIFICALLY, that basically everything NASA says about the age of the earth, for example, is wrong.

    If we can imagine this discussion as a parent-teacher conference, you have inserted yourself into that conference and said, “you don’t know what you’re teaching, teacher. 2+2 actually equals five.”

    How is a child supposed to learn in that environment? Where the church is whispering in his ear “This teacher is stupid or brainwashed….. This is all lies….”?

    Now suppose that child grows up. Suppose he becomes a paleontologist and discovers facts that prove that dinosaurs really did die out 65million years ago?

    Now he’s really faced with a dilemma. He looks at his old days at Parkview and realizes that they were wrong about dinosaurs. “If they were wrong about dinosaurs, what ELSE were they wrong about?”

    Now if I were an EVIL atheist. (Which I’m not!) I wouldn’t be telling you this. I’d WANT you to teach this stuff. I’d want you to teach all the children in your sunday school that the world is 6000 years old, totally flat, dinosaurs still hanging out somewhere in africa, evolution has never been observed, Chimpanzees and humans have no similarities in their DNA, etc.

    I’d want you to teach it, because it’s all demonstrably false, and then I’d be able to convert all your children to atheism!

    But I’m your friend. So I’m going to give you a fair shot at this. Teaching kids that they either have to accept God or science is false dichotomy. If you force them to make that choice, you won’t like the conclusion.

    Nobody who believes the world is 6000 years old has stood on the moon.
    Nobody who believes the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t apply to the Sun has ever split the atom.
    Nobody who believes that the Loch Ness Monster is evidence for a young earth has ever invented a vaccine to save millions of children’s lives.

    In the realm of science, science being “inventing stuff that actually works” the creationists have never invented anything. Airplanes fly, the internet works, computers work, vaccines work, antibiotics work even when the bacteria evolve new defenses, and men walk on the moon.

    The instant a creationist lands a man on the moon, I’ll start trusting them on the age of the earth. As far as actually “doing science” I’ll take NASA’s word over some lawyer for the Discovery Institute.

    Anyway, have a great fourth of July. And remember the greatest country in the world. The one that split the atom and walked on the moon and has nearly wiped polio from the face of the planet.

  • Karen

    Quote Tim:

    “i’m tired of arguing this subject. one more time, i wrote this paper to open the minds of my kids teachers to the possibilities of creationism. i may have misquoted, i may have oversimplified – i didn’t take the time i would have if i’d planned on it being the only discussion on an athiest websight.

    i feel like this thing is taking us away from the larger discussion.”

    Sorry, but you’ve presented an obstacle to having that larger discussion about god. When someone posts sloppy oversimplifications, misquotes and seemingly deceptive information on their own website – no matter what the purpose of that site – they lose credibility with me.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but do you understand why people who value accuracy and integrity will have difficulty listening seriously to your views about god now?

  • cautious

    everyone posting comments here so far is dead-on accurate. I would just to repeat (since I’m a fan of the Bill of Rights) that Pastor Tim and his congregation have a right to believe what they want to, and to make pamphlets on the web about their beliefs.

    Just the same way as we have the right to make comments on said pamphlets :)

    I believe, whole-heartedly and without a second thought, that the ability of every person to speak freely was one of the reasons emboldening the writers of the Declaration some 230 years ago. As was religious tolerance, we should be able to believe what we want as long as it doesn’t prohibitively interfere with other people’s lives.

    I also believe, just as strongly, that one of the reasons why an anti-science movement exists in our country is because some people do not cherish either of those two rights. Creationism is not about fighting for an unpopular viewpoint or trying to restore value to human life, its about turning peoples’ minds off. Its about encouraging, actually encouraging, human ignorance, so that people become too sheepish to speak, think or believe with their own minds.

    It’s not possible to do, but if Thomas Jefferson could be brought back to life, I don’t think he’d be happy to see how cozy the country he helped found is with the religions that despise several of the things it stands for.

    Religions all around the world are being forced to (forgive me here) evolve in order to re-explain themselves in the face of growing scientific-based understanding of the world. Is rejecting science a solution that is going to last very long? It’s been working for some fundamentalist branches for over a century now, but one day someone’s gonna mention the elephant in the room…

  • http://www.iidb.com David

    Looks like a runaway bold tag. Hopefully this clears up the issue.

  • http://www.iidb.com David

    maybe now?

  • DMG

    Siamang,

    You’re right about the 2nd Law, however (and I’ll be honest, I didn’t read Pastor Tim’s pamphlet so I’m not sure how this all arose but I’m guessing something with the creation of “God”), but QED, QCD, and Quantum Dynamics in general allows for spontaneous creation of matter, which can (and argueablly has) turn/ed into a complex system without an external force. However, said lack of external force is replaced by an underlying force, hinted to be a mathematical groundwork that dictates the entire universe, which could be interpreted to be an external force as to not violate the 2nd Law. So essentially, I’m not disagreeing with you at all, but rather throwing out there that the spontaneous creation of “God”/ID is [i]about[/i] as plausible as the “Big Bang” (sans the whole Genesis thing). Just something to consider, tho since I was lazy and didn’t read the pamphlet in question this is probably a non-point. Take it easy…

  • Siamang

    DMG, Pastor Tim’s reference to the second law wasn’t about the Big Bang. It was that organic evolution on earth is precluded by the Second Law, because things break down without outside intervention.

    I was pointing out that he’s forgetting about the sun, and that the earth as a living system is not closed, it’s getting energy all the time.

    you wrote:

    “I’m not disagreeing with you at all, but rather throwing out there that the spontaneous creation of “God”/ID is [i]about[/i] as plausible as the “Big Bang””…

    I’d disagree with you on a point here… The “Big Bang” which we define as the rapid expansion of the early universe, is not equally plausible to “God”, since Big Bang theory predicts various effects which, it turns out, we can observe. Things like the cosmic background radiation show us what the early white-hot universe looked like. This is taken to be a confirmation of the utility of the Big Bang Theory.

    If the “God Did It Theory” is to be taken as equally plausible, there must be some utility to it. What predictions can we make with the God-did-it-Theory that can be observed to confirm its utility? What calculations does it help us solve?

    I’d also not forward vacuum fluctuations as the only or even the accepted “first cause” for the universe, especially to compare it (equally or unfavorably) to “God-did-it.” There’s lots of possibilities, and there’s no consensus. Our universe may be a baby universe from a larger universe, for example, or on the other hand there’s brane cosmology….

    Science is just now in its baby steps of discovering the early universe and working on causes. I wouldn’t say “that’s our final answer” and then take it to be equally plausible to God-did-it.

    I find this stuff fascinating. But sometimes my mind has trouble following the concepts.

  • DMG

    Siamang,

    In Re: Tim’s Comment, I gotcha now. And I agree with you. About the whole Big Bang thing, I didn’t mean it to sound like like I was replacing the big bang with god, but rather that the initial “coming into being” (bad word choice, but I can’t think of a good one for it) of the universe itself, through QD, could just have easily have been some other simplistic entity that congrgated(?) into a god-like being instead of a universe. That said, beyond that instant of less than 1 Plank second, all known evidence supports the Big Bang, so I agree. Like you said, there is no utility or observations that support the God Theory. Sorry for the confusion. That all said, what do you about the theory that the universe has a numerical disposition to it a la Lloyd’s “Programming the Universe”? It’s an interesting take, one I think is on the right track, tho my opinion is biased.

  • Siamang

    I have to confess that my deep reading on the subject of the beginning of the universe is quite out of date.

    Other than A Brief History and Hawking’s lecture on Black holes and Baby universes, I’m at a loss in the subject.

    There’s certainly some deep math going on. But I cannot tell if the math is really there, or if we are just seeing shadows of a deeper phenomena.

  • tim

    i’m back.
    sorry if you don’t get me. i think i’m funny.
    i definately should be more humble thank you Helen, i’m sure you could point out many of my flaws.

    i did write this paper originally at least 12 years ago. i updated it recently, but obviously did not do a good enough job. i made points i could not substantiate.

    AGAIN – my purpose was not to try to convince anyone of anything – or world domination. my purpose was to hopefully open the eyes of some of my kids teachers to “the other side.”

    i will promise you to work it over before presenting it in any form again.

    HappyNat – thank you for the correct words. i did write this as a paper for a class originally and obviously i had a prof who was too far over the edge. you are correct that i should take the time to explore the issue better.

    i still think i’m funny, but you are right.

    cautious, thank you for the free country thing. honestly, what got me started with all of this stuff, was just that issue. i feel like all my life i only heard the naturalist argument. and regardless of my lack of ability to argue it, i do believe that there is a good argument for God in science that no one ever showed me until i was an adult.

    my point is exactly for freedom. freedom to study everything and come to the conclusions that naturally follow, instead of jamming then into the current acceptable theory.

    Siamang,
    the Davinci thing is a great analogy. that’s exactly how i feel about naturalism as it’s been taught to millions of school children. the obvious difference is that people have a choice to attend a church or not. they don’t have much choice as school is concerned. I still don’t think you get the point that i was NOT advocating ID in this paper. i never asked my kids geology teacher to teach anything other than what they were programmed to teach. i merely wanted THEM – not anyone else – just them, to see that there was another side and realize that my kids were going to be coming from a different perspective.

    now – to your completely arrogant statement directed at Christian Scientists.. i will not be defensive or humorous. It is this attitude that you portray that i responded to last time. and you are still at it.

    you said” Nobody who believes the world is 6000 years old has stood on the moon.
    Nobody who believes the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t apply to the Sun has ever split the atom.
    Nobody who believes that the Loch Ness Monster is evidence for a young earth has ever invented a vaccine to save millions of children’s lives.

    In the realm of science, science being “inventing stuff that actually works” the creationists have never invented anything. Airplanes fly, the internet works, computers work, vaccines work, antibiotics work even when the bacteria evolve new defenses, and men walk on the moon.

    The instant a creationist lands a man on the moon, I’ll start trusting them on the age of the earth. As far as actually “doing science” I’ll take NASA’s word over some lawyer for the Discovery Institute.” (end quote)

    WHO DO YOU THINK THOSE PEOPLE WERE?
    Many if not most of the worlds leading scientists throughout the centuries have been believers in God. You are seperating God and science again. It never happened until the last century. It doesn’t have to happen now.

    Francis Bacon (father of the scientific method); Sir Charles Bell (first to extensively map the brain and nervous system); Robert Boyle (father of modern chemistry); Isaac Newton (discoverer of the universal laws of gravitation); Blaise Pascal (major contributor to probability studies and hydrostatics); Louis Pasteur (formulator of the germ theory).

    I can’t believe you even mentioned vaccines. Can anyone trump Pasteur – a committed believer – from saving the world through science?

    Newton often said his interest in theology surpassed his interest in science. Newton did end his Principles with:

    “This most beautiful system of sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being…This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God.”

    you are back to your beginning presupposition that Christians are ignorant.
    and it’s a good thing for all of us that this has not been the case.

    i thought we both agreed that it’s okay to open our minds up to science in any form.

    Christians have stepped on the moon, Christians helped invent computers, and vaccines, and for that matter founded this country which we all celebrated as the greatest ever, on Tuesday.

    Tim

  • Siamang

    Tim wrote: “you are back to your beginning presupposition that Christians are ignorant.”

    WHAT?!?!? WHEN did I say any such thing? Many people on this site, Christians included, have come to know me quite well. They’ll tell you that I not only would never say such a thing, that I do not BELIEVE such a thing.

    You’re projecting what you THINK I think into your perception of me.

    “WHO DO YOU THINK THOSE PEOPLE WERE?
    Many if not most of the worlds leading scientists throughout the centuries have been believers in God.”

    I didn’t say they weren’t. I said they didn’t argue with the evidence for an old earth. I said they understood the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Newton included.

    “Creationist” isn’t the same thing as “Christian”. I thought that was kind of the whole point of my post, but I’ll say it again. “Creationist” isn’t the same thing as “Christian.”

    I have no doubt that some men who walked on the moon believe in Jesus and believe in God.

    But I guarantee, as I wrote, “Nobody who believes the world is 6000 years old has stood on the moon.”

    If you insist on calling me arrogant, please at least have the courtesy to call me that based on a statement I’ve actually made.

    To my knowlege, none of the scientists you mention, not Newton, not Pasteur, not Boyle attempted to displace science and replace it in the laboratory and the schools with wrong-headed biblical literalism. They certainly would not approve of the current movement of fake science books sold in christian bookstores. Such willful blinders do no service to Christianity or science.

  • Julie Marie

    Tim wrote: “you are back to your beginning presupposition that Christians are ignorant.”

    Siamang replied:

    WHAT?!?!? WHEN did I say any such thing? Many people on this site, Christians included, have come to know me quite well. They’ll tell you that I not only would never say such a thing, that I do not BELIEVE such a thing.

    I’m one of the Christians who has been talking with Siamang over the past few months, and I have NEVER felt belittled or condescended to by him. Honestly, I am ignorant of modern scientific thought and discovery. I am not hideously troubled by this fact; no one can know everything; I have strengths in other areas. What I am not doing, in my ignorance, is claiming scientific knowledge, or accusing scientists of having an agenda against my belief system.

    I did not get the idea he was disrespecting scientists who are christians at all; I understood his point to be that belief in a 6000 year old earth requires a disbelief in the evidence accumulated using the scientific method.

    We humans are free to believe whatever we want to believe. But when our belief is based on faith, and we try to say it can be supported by science, then we do open ourselves up to scrutiny. To cast scientists and educators in the role of persecutors of the faith is, quite frankly, not enlightened behavior.

  • Julie Marie

    i’m back.
    sorry if you don’t get me. i think i’m funny.
    i definately should be more humble thank you Helen, i’m sure you could point out many of my flaws.

    Not nice, Pastor Tim.

  • tim

    i guess the problem for me is that you guys are getting in on this discussion after Hemant and maybe didn’t listen to the dialogue.

    i don’t necessarily have an opinion as to the age of the earth. i definately see big problems scientifically with the young earth issue. i just found some young earth proofs to be extremely interesting. but as i told Hemant – i don’t care what a Christian believes about it. i don’t think it’s an issue if a Christian wants to believe that God started the Big Bang and it went from there. I have a very close friend who is coming out of athiesm into faith and he is a PHD. one of the first things he asked me is what i thought he had to do with science.

    i told him the same thing that i have been saying here. you go and work that out with God. Study God, study Science – they will not cause you a problem if they are both true.

    i believe most of the people on this blog really do believe that.

    I just don’t thinkyou’re ever going to listen to me, Siamang. you say,
    To my knowlege, none of the scientists you mention, not Newton, not Pasteur, not Boyle attempted to displace science and replace it in the laboratory and the schools with wrong-headed biblical literalism. They certainly would not approve of the current movement of fake science books sold in christian bookstores. Such willful blinders do no service to Christianity or science.

    (okay, tell me calling Michael Behe or any of the other Christian science books “fake” is not arrogant. or telling me “Google – use it” is not arrogant)

    but i’m going to say this for the last time. I never said that i wanted to “displace science and replace it with anything”. i didn’t do that in my paper. i answered that question negatively when Hemant asked me. i have said it several times on this blog. Here is my quote from my first entry to Hemant
    ‘The most important point that you are missing here, Hemant, is that I am not suggesting that anyone teach ID or Creationism in the classroom. This paper is written to my child’s teacher – not to the scientific community.’

    Siamang – you are misrepresenting me.

    I DO NOT WANT BLINDERS. i want everyone to study science. The more they study dna – the more open minded thinkers like Anthony Flew see evidence for God. The more we study the solar system, the more the Bible rings true – that the heavens declare the glory of God.

    you’ve got to stop throwing me (and “lawyers from the Discovery Institute” and other people who believe that science and God can actually work together) into this category of “crazy Christians who want to take over the school system.”
    maybe the Discovery Institute does. honestly i don’t know much about what they are doing. but i’m pretty sure all anyone is asking is for everyone to have an open mind.

    if this science is so “fake” as you put it – how can it possibly hold up? i know, i know – you say it’s not holding up now. but there are enough scientists who are smarter than both of us who think it does hold up.

    i am not afraid of naturalistic science, you shouldn’t be afraid of creation science. they are two unprovable theories. we all have to admit that.

    i’m sorry if i have some on too strong. i believe this left “friendly athiesm” many weeks ago. i’m more sorry we went so far down this road of ID that i believe is a minor issue in dealing with the differences we have.

    honestly, this is what i love about Hemant. we need to get him back in the mix. my dialogue with Him was fun and respectful.

    we all lost that here.

    i’m away from the internet for awhile. you all take care.

    tim

  • Siamang

    Tim,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Hopefully though you’ll be offline you’ll come and read this eventually. Maybe this one last shot will make some sense.

    The fundamental core criticism I have of your document is that it is intellectually flawed, poorly researched and uses dishonest representations of the work of respected scientists.

    You can boil all my criticisms down to this one main point: Before you write something, be sure you can stake your reputation on it. After you write something, take care that it represents you well.

    You wrote:

    “i don’t necessarily have an opinion as to the age of the earth. i definately see big problems scientifically with the young earth issue. i just found some young earth proofs to be extremely interesting. but as i told Hemant – i don’t care what a Christian believes about it”

    You see, I’m not talking about what you BELIEVE. I’m talking about what you WROTE. What you believe is up to you. But if you dishonestly represent the words of Carl Sagan, I’ll have something to say about that.

    You wrote:
    “okay, tell me calling Michael Behe or any of the other Christian science books “fake” is not arrogant.”

    It is not arrogant. It is simply a fact that Michael Behe is a charlatan, and everyone who’s read the Dover Trial transcript and Ruling can see that. His science is fake, because he doesn’t test it. It is fake because the scientific community has thoroughly refuted arguments he continues to use. It is fake because refuses to state a theory that is functional. It is fake because he cannot make testible predictions. It is fake because his data have been shown to be false.

    However, he makes a fair living “fleecing the flock” with the books he sells in Christian bookstores. You see, I’m on your side on this one, I don’t want to see Christians swindled by these snake-oil salesmen. If I had no scruples I’d be writing creationist books too, and making good money at it. Since they never actually DO any SCIENCE, it’d be dang easy.

    “…..or telling me “Google – use it” is not arrogant”

    It’s sarcastic. Not sure it’s arrogant. But now that we’ve called each other arrogant, what do you think about the substantive issues in this discussion?

    You quote an earlier point you made:

    “‘The most important point that you are missing here, Hemant, is that I am not suggesting that anyone teach ID or Creationism in the classroom. This paper is written to my child’s teacher – not to the scientific community.’”

    That’s a convenient characterization. Perhaps the document was ORIGINALLY written to your child’s teacher. But in its current incarnation it is on the internet in a PDF file format on your church’s website. That says to me that the intended readership is beyond merely your child’s teacher. Therefore your ethical and moral responsibility to stand behind its accuracy and honesty continues to this day.

    You wrote:
    “if this science is so “fake” as you put it – how can it possibly hold up? i know, i know – you say it’s not holding up now. but there are enough scientists who are smarter than both of us who think it does hold up.”

    No, there are not “enough”. 0.001% of scientists (mostly engineers or people with no background in biology) is not enough. Scientists with dubious credentials who do no research, do no experiments, publish no findings and merely milk believers for their hard-earned money are not enough.

    It doesn’t hold up. Which is why no accredited university in the country with a biology department is currently doing any creationism or ID research. Not even the Christian Universities. No ID research being done at Pepperdine, Notre Dame, TCU. None, zip, zilch. Why is that? And yet the lawyers from the Christianist think tanks are taking the battle to the public schools. This is totally backwards, they should be fighting for their ideas in the universities and science labs, and THEN when they have the research and the experiments THEN they can start talking about teaching their theories in grade schools. But until they DO the science, they have nothing to teach.

    You wrote:

    “you’ve got to stop throwing me (and “lawyers from the Discovery Institute” and other people who believe that science and God can actually work together) into this category of “crazy Christians who want to take over the school system.”

    You were the one who quoted Phillip Johnson, Lawyer, founder of the Discovery Institute, principal architect of the Wedge Strategy, Author of the Santorum Amendment. He IS trying to take over the school system.

    Here’s Phillip Johnson on that very issue:
    “Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit, so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

    From Phase III of the Wedge Strategy: “We will also pursue possible legal assistance in response to resistance to the integration of design theory into public school science curricula. ”

    http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

    Tim,

    I’m sorry if this discussion has left a bad taste in your mouth. I think I have been measured and respectful, while still attempting to draw you into a deeper discussion. I’m not sure I’ve been successful at those points. I’ll remind you of them in passing.

    My main questions still are unanswered, and would be these:

    Do you believe that you have a responsibility when quoting other people, especially people who disagree with you, to quote them as accurately and honestly as possible?

    Do you believe that as a figure of authority you have a responsibility, when writing documents that you provide to your church membership, to perform due diligence in checking the reliability of the materials you provide?

    Do you believe that when you write something and sign your name to it, that you have a responsibility to those whom you quote and those whom you intend to read it, that you stood by and continue to stand by the accuracy and honesty of the statements therein?

    Because if not, then all my writing here is moot.

    It’s my hope that when I first posted a response to this document that you’d take a critical look at your own actions in creating it, your own level of scholarship when fact-checking it, and your own responsibility to your flock when posting it.

    Instead, I see no response but defensiveness.

    Take care.

    -Siamang

  • cautious

    Thanks for the long reply, Pastor Tim, and also thanks Siamang for staying on target with questions that matter.

    In reply to what I was addressed with,

    I don’t know how you, Pastor Tim, could have heard only the naturalist “argument” in your life. You went to a Christian college, as did your parents, so I’m kinda confused as to when you were told something along the lines of “We don’t need God to explain the universe.”

    Now, I’ll be personal too here and say that I’ve heard, talked with, and read several different opinions on whether the Earth is old, and whether God has any place in science, and whether God is needed to explain the universe. I’ve stood by a poster at a conference about using paleomagnetics to date a rock unit (the Moonstone Formation in Wyoming. It’s Miocene in age BTW) and talked to someone who pretty much believed the opposite of me about how theology and science should mix. He thought that science should only be used if it agrees with theology.

    I think that that is a terrible, awful, horrible idea.

    Now, that said, I have to admit that science starts with what some take to be a religious filter, eg, that only natural events, objects, and entities can affect the universe.

    But quite frankly, isn’t that the best idea?

    What if history classes were taught without this naturalistic assumption? People would not be able to agree on what actually happened at events. Our basic objective summaries of real events (Gettysburg occurred on July 1-3rd, 1863) would become subjective (and the Union armies won since God favoured them!). History recounts would become more and more similar to The Illiad and Odyssey and…the Bible.

    I think that studying science (or math or history or politics…) with a naturalistic viewpoint is a much better idea than either:

    a) trying to accomodate all religious beliefs
    b) picking one religious belief and alienating the rest

    And if people afterwards want to insert their religious beliefs into the mix, then they can go ahead. Some people think that the Spanish Armada was stopped from attacking England because of Providence. Some people (well apparently many people :) ) think that humans have souls that were given to us by an Almighty.

    They’re beliefs, and they don’t belong in school anymore than soda dispensing machines.

  • http://www.conversationattheedge.com/ Helen aka Ir

    tim said,

    July 6, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    i’m back.
    sorry if you don’t get me. i think i’m funny.
    i definately should be more humble thank you Helen, i’m sure you could point out many of my flaws.

    *sigh*

  • Eliza

    I had tried to post regarding Anthony Flew while Hemant was in Iceland, but apparently my message got caught in the spam-catcher and discarded.

    For anyone who is interested – and for Pastor Tim, who has mentioned Anthony Flew several times as an example of an atheist becoming a theist – there’s a summary of Flew’s positions and statements, with updates periodically from 12/2004 to 5/2006 from Richard Carrier, who actually corresponded with Flew about his change in beliefs and has carefully followed Flew’s public statements and appearances. It’s posted here, on the Secular Web. Hemant provided the link on a prior post.

    The bottom line is that Flew, who is now in his 80′s, has been very unclear and contradictory about his position and beliefs – and seems to be heading deeper into confusion. He basically describes a deist position – at his clearest he says he believes in a god who doesn’t interact with people all, but can’t really explain why he believes that. Carrier’s reports of Flew’s behavior, including eyewitness accounts of Flew’s appearance at Biola College (Bible college in LA) to receive an award, at which he appeared to sleep through most of the ceremony then gave a short but rambling speech, describe Flew as a man who is very likely suffering from senile dementia. (I say that based on my medical training and experience; Carrier does not himself make that claim.)

    Carrier mentions that an article on Flew titled “One Flew over Biola” by James Underdown of the Center for Inquiry-West should be coming out in late July in the August-September 2006 edition of the magazine “Free Inquiry.” (Underwood was at the Biola ceremony, was one of the eyewitnesses Carrier spoke with, and also interviewed Flew right after the Biola event so his information will be the most up-to-date. But it doesn’t sound, from what Carrier says, that the conclusion will be different.)

    So, I must alert you that Anthony Flew is not a convincing example of an atheist-scientist turned theist, especially if his conversion and senile dementia are occurring at the same time. I really would caution against holding him up as an example unless you find more current, reliable information about his “conversion”.

  • Karen

    Eliza wrote:
    “So, I must alert you that Anthony Flew is not a convincing example of an atheist-scientist turned theist, especially if his conversion and senile dementia are occurring at the same time. I really would caution against holding him up as an example unless you find more current, reliable information about his “conversion”.”

    Very interesting, thanks for the background information Eliza. I had heard about Flew, but didn’t know about his age and possible dementia. It’s a sad thing if he really is suffering from a lessening of his faculties. It almost makes me wonder if he’s being “used” in a sense by people who strongly have an agenda to promote. His name and story are certainly bandied about extensively in creationist and fundamentalist circles.

  • Siamang

    I had never heard of Flew until he was brought up by a Christian friend with whom I had discussed my atheism.
    My response was really, “well, his beliefs are his, and mine are mine. My beliefs are as a result of a mental process. I had specific reasons why I don’t believe. Merely saying that someone else has faith doesn’t change the reasons why I don’t believe, unless he has found answers to my specific questions. If he has, I’ll be glad to look at those answers and see if they are sufficient.”

    Since Flew has made no rational arguments that address my specific barriers to faith, my barriers to faith persist.

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Tim– Going back to you response, I believe I’ve said this before, but it’s reassuring to hear you’re not pushing for Creationism to be taught in schools; you simply want to educate the teachers as to where your kids are coming from. My issue (and I believe Siamang’s as well) has been with the accuracy of the document that was on the church website. Which has since been taken down.

    I’m all for having an open mind, but if pro-ID people want to persuade scientists, they have to play by the rules of science like everyon has done for hundreds of years now. You have to do the tests, provide the observations, and get the feedback from the community. Instead, what we see is the Behes and Johnsons picking apart Evolution (using arguments that were disproven long ago)… even if they were correct, though, they would only have poked holes in Evolution– not create a credible alternative. Also, they choose not to send paper to scientific journals (as far as I know, they’ve never tried to do this, period… it has nothing to do with the journals not accepting their papers). It’s just bad science all around.

    Perhaps further insight into DNA, origins of the universe, etc. could lead us to a case for God. However, until we’ve exhausted all natural possibilities (something we are *very* far from ever doing), we cannot look to supernatural explanations.

    I do agree with Siamang that if the purpose of the document was to inform your children’s teachers, it was a disservice to have had it on the church website where people like me could have seen it and thought that this is what the church was recommending we teach in public schools.

  • Siamang

    I hadn’t noticed that it had been taken down. Good catch there.

  • Jodi

    Hi Hemant:

    I wrote to you a while ago and have not been to the site for some time. I am so disappointed. You seem to be the only, so called, friendly atheist. I find a lot of inaccurate statements on your site, but there seems to be no point in discussing them, because, unfortunately, atheist believe Christians are not intelligent. Sorry to inform, some of us actually have our degrees in science and are Christians, shocking, I know. You made some very incorrect statements about mutation related to sickle cell anemia, I advise that you do more research.

    Again, I am sorry that I thought this site was going to be for, respectful, intelligent conversation, and it obviously is not.

    Jodi

  • Siamang

    Jodi,

    When have I or any atheist here said that Christians are not intelligent?

    I happen to know a good many very intelligent Christians.

    You say people make very inaccurate statements, but you see no point in discussing them.

    Then why bring it up? Are you just coming here to scold people and then leave?

    Come and be part of the conversation, Jodi. I especially invite you here to this discussion board where Christians and atheists alike have found very fruitful and respectful dialogue:

    http://off-the-map.org/ebayatheist/index.php

  • Siamang

    Here’s what hemant posted about sickle-cell anemia:

    “On page 15, it states: “Now, understand that mutations don’t happen very often – almost never… When mutations do happen, they are almost always lethal.” Again, this is wrong. Mutations happen often, and most of them are neutral. They depend on the environment as well. For example, have two copies of the sickle cell mutation is bad, yes, but having one copy is beneficial—it protects against malaria. ”

    So his 3 assertions regarding sickle cell are

    1: it is caused by a mutation.
    2: two copies of the mutation causes anemia
    3: having only one copy confers a protection against malaria

    They are all correct assertions.

    It is caused by a mutation:

    “The gene defect is a known mutation of a single nucleotide (A to T) of the ?-globin gene, which results in glutamic acid to be substituted by valine at position 6. Hemoglobin S with this mutation are referred to as HbS, as opposed to the more normal adult HbA. The genetic disorder is due to the mutation of a single nucleotide, from a GAG to GTG codon mutation.”

    Two copies of the mutation (one from each parent) causes sickle-cell anemia:

    “The allele responsible for sickle cell anemia is autosomal recessive. A person who receives the defective gene from both father and mother develops the disease; a person who receives one defective and one healthy allele remains healthy, but can pass on the disease and is known as a carrier. ”

    Only one copy protects against malaria:

    “It is believed that carriers (sickle cell trait) are relatively resistant to malaria. Since the gene is incompletely recessive, carriers have a few sickle red blood cells at all times, not enough to cause symptoms, but enough to give resistance to malaria.”

    From wikipedia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sickle-cell_disease

    What part do you think he was wrong about and needs to do more reasearch on?


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