What the Atheists Taught Me

fence0001.jpg

In my last post I asked atheists to talk about their relationship to their guilt.

And man, oh man, did they ever respond.

Turns out atheists are quite the … cyber-communicators.

It also turns out that atheists — or the many from whom I heard, anyway — care just as much as we Christians do about loving and doing right by others.

Curse the atheists! Why couldn’t they be the craven sensory-hounds they’re supposed to be? Must they reject God, and be intelligent and sensitive?

How are we to tolerate these people for whom toleration is a tenant?

Anyway, they got me thinking. (Another reason not to like them.)

I could no sooner imagine what it would be like inhabiting a consciousness devoid of  the constant awareness of God than I could what it would be like to be a …  Venusian cannibal.

Right? I have no idea what it’s like to be a cannibal from Venus.

Be pretty lonely, I’d guess. Or pretty full.

Point is: Mystery. Can’t imagine it. Just like I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an atheist. Even before I was a Christian — for just about every second of my waking life, in fact — I  was intensely aware of what to me was the fact of God. It’s never even occurred to me there isn’t a God.

Atheists, of course (and insofar as such generalizations have merit), can’t imagine that there is a God. (Well, of course they can imagine there’s a God. They just can’t imagine why anyone would give themselves over to what to them is so obviously a fantasy.)

 So we Christians are over on our side of the fence, and the atheists are over on theirs.

And we keep lobbing Bibles over the fence at them. And (alas) they keep lobbing them back at us.

We Christians want the atheists to come over to our side of the fence — to join us, to become one of us. They would much prefer it if we would quit wanting that, and leave them be. They would naturally prefer it if we could actually respect them for, say, their intellectual (not to mention moral) integrity — but they aren’t exactly holding their breath waiting for that to happen. Because they know that Christians believe atheists to be at best  lost, and at worst damned.

And let’s face it: If you know the best someone can think about you is that you’re lost, you’re hardly inclined to, say, invite that person to your birthday party. Ever.

Hence the fence.

I hate that fence! What is it doing there?

Listen, Christians: I hate to be the one to say it, but can we all just admit that all the good music is coming from the other side of the fence? Can we at least give the  godless folk that?

Anyway, here’s what the atheists have taught me: We Christians need to listen to them. And not just because they have all the good music. (Okay, that’ll be the last of the “Christian music always sounds like soggy white bread” line of humor, which I realize is just totally obnoxious.) We need to listen to the atheists because … well, because we never do. We try to listen to them, but we fail. And we fail because while we’re listening to them, we’re secretly thinking how they really, really need to become Christian.

And it’s just about impossible to really, really think something about someone and not, in one way or another, really, really communicate what that something is.

And then before we know it: No birthday party invites for us! Again.

So I say: Let’s every once in a while put aside our Christian Agenda (none of us are thinking that we don’t have one too, right?), and just listen to atheists. Let’s just hear what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and why they’re saying and thinking whatever they are.

Let’s actually respect them. Why not? How could such a thing possibly hurt us?

Who knows? If we listen to the atheists long enough, isn’t it just possible that we might actually learn something from them?

Hey.

Miracles happen.

 

Some related posts o’ mine: “Are The Great Commandment and the Great Commission Incompatible?”,  More on The Great Commandment vs. The Great Commission” , “To My Recent Commentators” , and Adults Aren’t Children–and None of Us is God.”

(If you like my stuff, you can be of true help to my ever-burgeoning writing career by simply joining my Facebook group. Thanks a lot.)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • windy blue

    Well Atheists, can be where ever they want to be and believe what ever they want, here on earth, but Wait until they die, what a big surprise they will have coming to them.

    See, God face to face, and know that he is real and Alive, and than they get to Go to hell right were they belong.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Way to show that Christian love, Windy.

    Yikes. Angry much?

  • http://www.firesigntheatre.com Brian Westley

    Windy points up one of the worst aspects of many religions — the idea that, for holding an *erroneous opinion*, people deserve eternal torture. And then they have the temerity to say it's "perfect justice"…

  • http://www.frozentoothpaste.com david

    I'm glad to hear a plea for actually listening to each other. I think it might benefit some Atheists to hear a plea for listening and respect as well, but this is a great start. Cheers!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Call: Thanks for invitation. Too bad I can't bring Windy to the meetings, though. She's my mom. (Kidding! Windy: Kidding. You're not my mom. Though I'm sure you're a perfectly wonderful person. Who has anger issues. But don't we all, to one extent or another? Still, it would behoove all we Christians to make a point of extending to others the same love Christ extends to us, yes?)

    Brian: Are you suggesting that venemous disdain and the love of Christ aren't the same thing? HEATHEN!!

    David: Yes, everyone should listen to everyone.

    Billy: Relax a tad. Perhaps you skipped the part where I SAID that being obnoxious about Christian music is obnoxious? See, that was my apparently-too-subtle way of saying that of course it's insane to disparage a whole GENRE of music.

    Score so far: Angry, mean-spirited Christians: 2

    Good-natured articulate atheists: 2

    Not exactly committing either way: 1

    Man, if that isn't life in a nutshell, I don't know what is.

  • Billy B

    Nick, no they are not. Have a good day.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    All right, Nick, Bill: STOP. Please don't make me have to go through the hassle of deleting whatever exchange you might try to have about the religious convictions of music celebrities. Let's just NOT go there.

    Chris: EVIL! I KNEW IT!! No, but thanks.

  • Billy B

    John,

    Me mean spirited? That is not the case at all. You shouldn't make that assumption on a simple post.

    Billy B

  • http://braindump.parachutemind.com Nick H

    John, I won't go back on the he said, she said of those musical artist (artist it tough to type when 50, britney and snoop are the sentence) yikes.. Boy, it's tough to bite my tounge.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Well, you're doing a wonderful job. Keep it up.

  • http://braindump.parachutemind.com Nick H

    Ha Ha! I do what I can.

  • Gracie

    The music part was my favorite. For a long time I felt guilty listening to mainstream, but I haven't for a long time, because mainstream is fine as long as you listen to it in a christian way, with a christian attitude. If you're a christian. Yeah, those mainstream artists mentioned may have some bad… terrible, even… songs… but notice how a lot of christian lyrics in christian songs in christian areas get repitive? Who wants to listen to the same part of the song over and over? Mainstream does that too, I know.

    Hey, athiests have a sense of humor too!

    I think my goal this week is to now "toos bibles over the fence", so much as peek through the fence and smile and wave, maybe have tea through the fence.

    This is my second favorite blog of yours. Yay John!

  • http://jonathanbrink.com Jonathan Brink

    Is it possible that Christians spend so much time trying to convert atheists because they doubt their own position? And that if they can convert one atheist, they'll then be validated? (I'm not saying they don't try for good reasons either.) I think atheists bug Christians because they serve as a reminder of the other possibility in their life, to doubt. And yet the nature of the Christian journey is faith. And how could they be so faithful to something that we don't believe?

    I also don't share your opinion that all the good music is from the other side. A lot is. But not all.

  • Billy B

    Christians are obeying the teachings of Christ if they "witness" to you. Christ told us to do that in the Great Commission. We show our love to Christ by doing what he says. We don't always do such a good job as you can see.

    Christians can't convert anyone. Only Christ can do that. All we can do is share the Gospel with you. The decision is yours.

    We don't fee validated when someone comes to Christ because of our witness. We feel fortunate to be able to share His love with others and save that person from eternal separation from God. Again we don't always do a good job at that. None of us can take any credit for salvation. We are only tools, some rustier than others.

    We are faithful because we are convinced without a doubt that Christ is Who He claimed to be, God in the Flesh. That is all that I"m certain of. I too was former atheist but I was ignorant of Christianity.

    Now I'm one of them.

  • bohemianprose

    Good point – No wonder relgion make people angry… and where does it say we can't respect others thoughts without pushing an agenda and where does this agenda really come from. Jesus never said to cut people off, use the gospel as a weapon and get angry at peoepl because that works great. He listened and ummm dare I say it actually like people/ This is something as a Christian growing up in religion as a system I had to overcome umm well still overcoming, that is. If your religoin makes you angry leave it – it's false, go find Jesus in the bum on the street – or the kid on the playground – of the broken down and weary single mom.. Lord knows they believe.

  • evanescent

    This is a rather refreshing post and it's the first post of its kind I've seen on the net for as long as I can remember!

    As an atheist myself, I think it's very important that all sides talk to each other, with a mutual respect for evidence. As long as we're both open to the evidence and will follow that ruthlessly no matter where it leads, we should be ok.

    This is why atheists cannot respect faith, because it is claiming to have all the answers without evidence. If theists will keep resorting to faith, the two sides will always keep talking past each other.

    On the other hand, if both sides talk only on logic, reason, and evidence, we might actually get somewhere. And of course, that course of action can lead in only one direction: atheism.

  • Samhain

    Hey John, good post however don't be too open minded. After all, you can only go so far. I'll listen to the atheists until the pointless ranting begins and the discussion ends due to ridiculous arguing with mud name calling and offenses. I'm not sure what I'm going to learn from that. I know science, I'm Christian. I know History, I'm Christian. I know Technology, I'm Christian. I know a diverse set of religions and am open minded. So, what else do I need to learn. After all of the studying, reading, and the vast experiences in my life, I'm still Christian. I've read Hitchens, Dawkins, and will read Harris, with an open mind but I'll never change my beliefs. I see their complaints as well as the complaints from Christians… I'll listen only when there can be an intellegent discussion without ridicule,intolerance, and rants… I'm tolerant until I come across someone who is intolerant. That goes for all sides, btw… Otherwise that would be bigotry….

  • http://hometown.aol.com/codeufo/gematria.html Gary

    Here's something that frustrates me about most Christians I've met. They don't seem to know very much about the origins of their own religion. I was a Christian (in that same conventional sense) once upon a time. Then I started questioning some of the things I'd been taught and some of the things that didn't seem to make sense in the Bible. Went all the way back to Genesis and started thinking about the problem of God referring to himself in the plural. Who is the "us", I wondered. And where did all of those people come from in the land of Nod, etc. etc. Then I read the book of Ezekiel (by the way…shameless plug… check out my novel, The Ezekiel Code! http://www.ezekielcode.com) and realized the thing he was describing (you know, that mechanical conveyance that came down from the sky?) and his whole experience with it seemed remarkably similar to what I'd read about modern day encounters with ETs. Then I came across a book called The Spaceships of Ezekiel (Blumrich, 1974) written by a NASA engineer (Chief of the NASA systems layout branch). His analysis of the object in Ezekiel's account pretty much convinced me that my suspicion was correct. But I digress.

    Suffice to say one thing led to another and I began delving into the history of the Christian religion and found that there wasn't much about the Christ story that was unique as far as I could tell. Much of the Christ story appears to be just another version of the "dying/resurrecting/ManGod" ideas of previous religions (see, for instance, the religion of Mithrasim). And then there's the story of Noah and the flood which appears to be a kind of condensed "Readers Digest" version of much older stories where the Noah character is known by different names such as Ziusudra (Sumerian version) and Utnapishtim (from the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh).

    Oh oh, I'm starting to ramble! Too much stuff to try and lay it all out here in this comment box. Bottom line (sort of!) is that there are some real mysteries to the puzzle of the history of our human origins and to the puzzle of just exactly who and what the person we know as Jesus of Nazareth really was… or was not… and to the puzzle of just exactly who or what "Jehovah" was… or was not. Not to mention Enlil and Enki, the Anunnaki, the Nephilim, the Sons of Anak, and… well, you get the picture.

    Once I began to dig really deep into these puzzles I found things are not quite as simple as I had been taught in my early Christian upbringing. "The Truth is Out There" as agent Mulder constantly reminded us on The X-Files. But it isn't easy to find. Conventional Christianity, of course, has a convenient way around the situation. It's called Faith. Works for them. I guess that's okay. I just need something more.

    Anyway, John, you're the most honestly open Christian I've ever come across. Your integrity shines. May it light the way for many to follow.

  • Ross

    All the good music is on the other side?

    Dylan, Johnny Cash, even U2 (even though I'm not to big on them) go on the Christian side. To often Christian music tries to immitate the style of "worldly" musicians with dismal results. And non believers see right through it and laugh at it.

    The way I see it is the majority of Christians have no beef with atheists. They (atheists) make up such a small percentage of the pop. that most Christians won't knowingly have any close contact with them. It seems that the atheists have been on the offensive in culture of late in particular the spate of ChristianGod bashing books by Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. I find it interesting as well, and honestly this it's an encouragement to my faith, that athteists for the most part attack Christianity in particular and other faiths to a much lesser degree. Maybe it's because Christianity is the dominant faith in western culture (for now until Sharia law is imposed on us in 2025 or thereafter…but I digress) but I think it's probably because in the atheists heart of heart, he knows it's the Jesus Christ he will answer to when he dies and not Allah, Buddha, or Vishnu.

    Johan Christian Bach and MC Hammer can be added to the Christian list as well. That's right atheists Hammertime!

  • http://www.squidoo.com/coolmoney John Jackson

    Good is good!!!

  • Billy B

    To evanescent

    As a Christian I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible says, "It is impossible to please God without Faith." My life was transformed by faith in God. Find a person willing to suspend faith and they can't be Christians. We believe Faith is God's method of working in our lives. Take Faith out of the Bible and it falls apart. Not a negotiable item. But…..

    I suggest everyone has faith in something. If you believe in the teachings of Darwin you have to take his work on faith, since you were not there when he did his studies. You have to have faith that he was honest in his methods and theories. Same for Hawkins. Brilliant mind but who can honestly grasp all he has to say? You have to have faith in what he writes. We all believe in/have faith in something we can't see, or so it seems to me.

    Same for Christians. We weren't there at the beginning, so we have to have faith that the Bible was an accurate account of what transpired. The evidence is overwhelming to me that Christ did what was written about Him and He was who He said He was, God in the flesh. God did provide evidence because He wants us to know.

    So we have to believe/have faith in skeptics when they say; there wasn't a Christ, or He wasn't who He claimed to be. Unless you do the study and research you believe that based on a faith in their writings.

    As it is true that men could have written a false Bible to manipulate people it is equally true that skeptics could write false criticisms of the Bible to turn people from God.

  • Hjordes

    evanescent (atheist) says:

    "This is why atheists cannot respect faith, because it is claiming to have all the answers without evidence."

    This is disturbs me… RESPECT. If both sides of the fence can respect each other, and allow for differences without trying to change the other, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Christians/atheists are not more/less stupid, intolerant, warm/hostile than each other or anyone else. It's time to desegregate and enter the 21st century.

    p.s. Um, except Christian music…it's frelling boring. No wonder atheists look at us funny. It's like we're so stupid and uncreative we have to repeat the same verse 16 times. (sorry guys, a pet peeve)

  • Ross

    So Lisa you're a Universalist. I wish what you believe was true, but what do you do with Jesus speaking of everlasting punishment – mathew 25:46 – and the story of Abrahams bosom, as well as the 40 other times Jesus spoke of hell in the new testament?

  • Thomas Michalski

    From Billy B:

    "I suggest everyone has faith in something. If you believe in the teachings of Darwin you have to take his work on faith, since you were not there when he did his studies. You have to have faith that he was honest in his methods and theories. Same for Hawkins. Brilliant mind but who can honestly grasp all he has to say? You have to have faith in what he writes. We all believe in/have faith in something we can’t see, or so it seems to me."

    Don't worry. I'm not going to attack you!

    I agree with the sentiment that Science requires a modicum of faith. You do have to faith that Scientists are honest and follow the scientific method.

    However, there is a great deal of difference in that type of faith, and the faith in a god.

    Science Reveals itself, just a God does to Believers, by being proven time and time again as being correct. Science does not require mysticism while Religion, depends upon it. That is the main difference, I think.

    Are all of those who are "blessed" to see god, or angels, or other celestial beings, actually seeing a physical manifestation or merely a divine hallucination. I think the latter. That does not in any way degrade their experience in my opinion either. It's the message that counts.

    But i understand what you are saying.

    As far as music goes: Actually there's a great deal of Excellent Spiritual music/ Music created by those who believe in God. Obviously!

    I think what we find boring is Anglo-Saxon Christian Music, and that is due in large part to the fact that after a certain point in time, Musical Geniuses did not have to rely on the Church for Financial Support, so they turned away from the church to pursue more secular interests. Are we going to say that Bach, Mendel, Beethoven, Brahms, Orff, and Faure were bad musicians who produced bad music?

    No, i think not.

  • Taryn Anderson

    As a Christian, I agree with everything you said! In high school, I was a very judgemental person, who obviously didn't have a lot of friends especially atheist friends. I tried to tie everything back to God. But since then, I've learned that non-Christians are pretty cool people, and actually go through similar problems that I do. And honestly, they usually give better advice too. I'm not saying they have an answer for everything, but I like to listen to their side. It balances everything out. I wish there was more atheist loving than atheist bashing on the part of Christians…isn't that what Christ would have called for?

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    Way to go John! Much appreciation and applause!

    You’re welcome to attend our local Atheist meeting any time. You won’t be the only Christian in attendance either – our welcome mat is out for any Christian who is willing to listen and discuss.

    But don’t bring Windy, or anyone like him/her. Part of the reason we hold meetings is to get a break from that sort of arrogance.

  • Billy B

    Boring Christian Music?

    Ok, I'm guilty of wanting to sit down, enough of the same praise music over and over again, but wait, I'm thinking about me, it's not about me. I have an funny idea God is more pleased with a simple heartfelt song to Him than the best production in the world. Here I am complaining about the worship music when my brother sand sisters in Christ in many parts of the world are being persecuted for even showing up to worship. Most churches in the West spend enough on bulletins thrown in the trash after the service to build a church in another country. We complaint too much. [I TOTALLY CAN'T COMMENT ON THIS, AS I AM AN ART FREAK, AND FRANKLY CAN'T HARDLY STAND THE IDEA OF ART BEING DONE FOR ANYTHING BUT ART'S SAKE. I MEAN, I CAN. BUT ART WITH AN AGENDA JUST ... ISN'T ... WELL ... IT SEEMS TO ME TO ALMOST ALWAYS PRODUCE INFERIOR ART. YOU KNOW: EXCEPT FOR THE WHOLE RENAISSANCE THING.]

  • Ross

    Thomas-

    You believe it's reasonable to put faith in the scientific method, which by definition means whatever is posited as a truth can be demonstrated in a lab. It's ironic that scientists are unable to create life in a lab, even a single cell, or even show one species evolving to another yet many people say they are atheists based on a belief that spontaneous random mutations are the cause of all life…yet the scientific method is unable to prove this. Honestly, it takes more faith to be an atheist and believe all came from nothing than to believe in a God who made everything. But if you do believe in chance and not design you are most definately employing faith, because true science doesn't confirm atheism. [I COULDN'T AGREE MORE WITH YOUR PENULTIMATE SENTENCE.]

  • L Palm

    Hi Ross, I'm no more sure what a universalist is than whether I'm a seventh day adventist (someone told me I was recently when I told him I felt that my belief in God 'drives' me to follow His commandments, again, not to be saved but out of loving thankfulness for being saved)

    In Matthew 25 I read that Jesus was addressing those who 'claimed' to believe in Him and called Him lord…this is why I think those of us who 'claim' to be christians have a much greater burden to be loving, compassionate, non-judgemental, giving and respectful because we now have the knowledge of God and will be held to a much higher standard when we come before God in judgement.

    An atheist once told me "How can I believe in something all you christians can't even agree about" He had a point. Arguing hermeneutics is counterproductive to the great commission and tends to dilute the Great Commandment…I love you Ross, as a brother in Christ, and respect what the word of God speaks to your heart, Lisa [WHOA. YOU ARE NOW OFFICIALLY THE PATRON SAINT OF THIS BLOG.]

  • Billy B

    "Are all of those who are “blessed” to see god, or angels, or other celestial beings, actually seeing a physical manifestation or merely a divine hallucination. I think the latter. That does not in any way degrade their experience in my opinion either. It’s the message that counts."

    As someone who works in full time ministry I don't know a single person who has had some kind of vision. If they did they would probably keep it to themselves. I'm not saying it isn't possible but not that important in the life of a believer.

    The point about scientists and God. We could both make list of prominent scientists that are believers and atheist. A google search will show that. Still that wouldn't prove anything, even if one list was longer than the other. The God that I believe in spoke the universe into existence (impossible for me to grasp) so He is not really concerned about "being believed in". He is more interested in being worship for Who He Is! Like a parent and child relationship. Your child may believe in you but what if they avoid you and don't love you.

    Here is what I struggle to grasp. That the God of the universe knows me by name. Ok, so it sounds like a fair tale but doesn't the possibility not sound appealing, overwhelming? Loved by the Creator, what a possibility. If you were convinced there was a God wouldn't that awe inspiring? [I JUST LOVE THIS FINAL POINT. IT'S ... BEAUTIFUL. THANKS FOR IT, BILLY BARTON.]

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    @John Shore–just stumbled across this today, very good article.

    @Thomas Michalski

    Science Reveals itself, just a God does to Believers, by being proven time and time again as being correct. Science does not require mysticism while Religion, depends upon it. That is the main difference, I think.

    Very good answer. Sure we weren't there when Darwin did his studies. But yet in the past 150 years his theory has been advanced even further. If his facts were wrong they would have been disproven decades ago. On the other hand every time science proves part of the bible is inaccurate theists suddenly change the interpretation of what is written in the bible. The easiest example is the dinosaurs, but you can bring up Noah, the tower of Babel, and many other samples.

    @Billy B

    We all believe in/have faith in something we can’t see, or so it seems to me.

    Atheism by it's very definition is a lack of faith. We are all born atheists. We are just taught by parents, etc. to believe in a religion. People that are raised in a country that was primarily muslim or buddhist most likely will be a follower of that faith rather than a Christian. Is God going to punish the 3+ billion people on earth that because of where they were born were raised in a different faith? [YEAH, BILLY! WAIT. I'M A CHRISTIAN. IN YOUR FACE, CRAGAR! WAIT, I'M RATIONAL. SO. HOW 'BOUT THOSE GIANTS?]

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    Faith in science? Oy yi yi. I think you use the wrong word. I TRUST the findings of science because I can see the results of science and what it predicts.

    I trust the findings of Darwin because biology makes a lot more sense when based upon the premise of evolution. I trust in the findings of physicists like Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman because I use their results every time I hit the ENTER button on my keyboard or the PLAY button on my DVD player and IPod.

    Sure, it is almost impossible to teach everyone to understand what goes on inside of Hawking's head, or even inside of Isaac Newton's head. But using their methods they can predict things like solar eclipses, or design a better lever, or figure out quantum weirdness and turn it over to an engineer who turns it into a practical application. I can observe their predictions, and I use their findings!

    I don't have to be there beside Einstein and understand his theory of special relativity – with enough education and work I could understand his discoveries – or I could listen to an engineer as he explained why GPS satellites have to correct for time dilation due to relativity.

    This is the neat thing about science – it doesn't require faith! It makes provable predictions that can be tested as true over and over again. And the test is often as easy as answering your cell phone or observing a Boa constrictor's hip bones. [WELL, THIS PRETTY MUCH WRAPS UP THESE POINTS. WAY TO PUT SOMETHING IN THE OL' BAGGIE AND JUST SEAL THAT BAD BOY RIGHT UP, CALL. OF COURSE, YOU'RE GOING TO HELL. BUMMER.]

  • Billy B

    “Listen, Christians: I hate to be the one to say it, but can we all just admit that all the good music is coming from the other side of the fence? Can we at least give the godless folk that?”

    All the good music from atheist? What are you listening to? 50 cents, Snoop Dog, Madonna, Britney, yeah John, those artist really provide inspiring work. While you’re at it print some of their lyrics. Madonna sang, “I”m going to sing my song, I’m going to ring my bell, I don’t give a **** if I go to hell.” That is edifying isn’t it?

    billy b

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Thank you John for your two pieces on this topic. As an closet atheist much of my adult life, I will be the one not laughing at the latest atheist/God/Devil joke shared at some church meeting. I attempt, with love and kindness, to edify my brothers and sisters. However, people can be cruel and this while not unique to my Christian friends, was a little surprising for me. I used to look down at Christians from the atheist side of the fence. Now on the other side, I notice many Christians are looking down at the atheists.

    One time when a good Christian friend was talking about the obviousness of God, she said something like, "I don't know how anyone cannot see God in the birth of your own child." They continued talking and agreeing. I tried to remember how I had done just that… starting to think of my younger self as not-too-smart but then this occured to me so I simply stated, "It's not that hard actually. You know, to ignore God."

    To the Christian I made to feel silly or stupid or weak or in anyway less of a person, I am sorry.

    To the Atheist who has been driven to a closet, ridiculed, insulted or in anyway made to feel as less of a person by me or any Christian, I am sorry.

    None of these actions reflect Christ nor do they lift up the higher moral ideals articulated in the responses to John's prior post. [WOW! OUTSTANDING. REALLY WELL DONE. BEAUTIFUL.]

  • http://watercolorblues.wordpress.com/ Kimberley

    Billy B-

    I haven't said a lot during the whole conversation, but feel compelled to address something you wrote: "He is more interested in being worship for Who He Is!" As I have stated, I am a Christian. But my understanding of God's priority is not that he (and I use pronouns for ease of communication – God transcends gender) wants to be worshiped- the divine priority is that we treat one another with integrity and compassion, that we honor the gift of life. Now, my faith may lead me to worship but the priority is not the worship. Again, my two cents worth. [THIS IS REALLY SUPERB. THANK YOU SO MUCH, KIMBERLEY.]

  • Ross

    Calladus- I don't think you read my post# 39.

    I'm onboard with you and all other atheists, as soon as evolution or life springing forth from chaos can be reproduced in a lab.

    "This is the neat thing about science – it doesn’t require faith! It makes provable predictions that can be tested as true over and over again."

    You don't seem to be aware that the above does not apply to evolution. Please don't bring up minor inter species change which no believer denies – dogs range from Chihuahua to Great Dane all through breeding, but no dog has been bred to become a bird.

    Is it possible that you and many atheists base your atheism on science not for the science itself but because the majority scientists, schools, media, neigbors, friends, etc. believe in it so like all humans you just go with the current and believe it yourself. If a billion people all agree that 2+2=5 does that make it so? Remember, no scientist can reproduce trans-species evolution in a lab nor has it ever been observed. Granted there are a never ending stream of new and exotic theories, but that's all they are. Where is the fossil evidence that Darwin said would vindicate his theory? Fossill record should be replete with transitional forms (not just one) yet we're still looking for the missing link. Every now and then a new discovery is purposed to be the missing link, but alas it doesn't pan out or is find to involve fraud. But the point is, they should be everywhere but are not.

    Know that your faith is in a theory, a theory that alot of smart people believe in, but a theory none the less. [OH, NO. EVOLUTION. SO, HOW 'BOUT THOSE GIANTS?]

  • http://braindump.parachutemind.com Nick H

    John, I think it is great that you are so open minded and willing to listen to Atheist. I find it remarkable that you are such a minority among your Christians (being toleran of others). You don’t attack other religions and you welcome the discussion, it’s a wonderful thing. You might be more like an Atheist than you think. ;o)

    windy b: “but Wait until they die, what a big surprise they will have coming to them. See, God face to face, and know that he is real and Alive, and than they get to Go to hell right were they belong.” Well technically I think we see Peter first, no? Either way, how can you be so certain as to calim Atheist are going to hell, have you been to either, seen either, or did you read it in a book somewhere?

    From Billy B: “50 cents, Snoop Dog, Madonna, Britney.” These are all christians. Have a good day.

    <3 Nick

  • Chris Morse

    Cheers, John.

    This is just the first step in converting you to our godless, heathen ways! Mwahahahah!

    But in all seriousness, thanks for asking we atheists a question and then listening to the answer.

  • http://stefscrazylife.wordpress.com/ Stef

    wow! great post. I have nothing to add to the discussion, but I did want to say that I liked what I read.[EXCELLENT. THANK YOU SO MUCH.]

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Whoa! This is some might impressive commentating. I have no idea how to respond to … well, any of it, at this point.

    Wait! Yes I do! I'll open each comment from my side, hit "Edit" (as if I, in Comment Nazi Mode, were going to EDIT your comment), say whatever I would say IN BRACKETS AND CAPS AT THE END OF EACH COMMENT] and then … that'll be that.

    How lovely. I'll go do that right now.

  • Mitchell

    Wow, John, this is great! You’re right, the fence sucks. And you can’t tear it down yourself. Thank you for showing us the fence, and inviting us to tear it down.

    My guess is that the fence will stay there “till kingdom come.” But love is much bigger than any fence. I invite all Christians and atheists to agree on love!

    Notice I haven’t told you “what” I am. :) You know I’m a human being, and that’s enough.

  • isaiah30v8

    I was an athiest who became sick and tired of all the bibles falling on him. The ones thrown from the other side of the fence.

    Picked one up and started reading.

    I decided that if there really is a God who wanted us to know stuff he would make it easily available in some kind of media. Even though most athiests say they would only chnage their mind if God came right down and told them.

    Decided also that if the bible is THE book then I should be able to use it in a way to find tangible and measureable evidences that prove their really is a God.

    I used a straightforward, scientific, no nonsense approach.

    What I found is amazing!

    I now believe.

  • Billy B

    What are Christian really like? Think of us as “tribe” deep in the jungle and you want to understand our culture. You will need to go to go on a field trip to understand us. We meet in churches in your neighborhood. Pick a few and do some research. We all have websites with times of worship. Most Christian “tribes” now allow you to come in jeans, casual is in, in most churches, you don’t have to bring a Bible, we won’t notice, you don’t have to put anything in the offering plate when it is passed by, we’re not paying attention.

    We normally start our gatherings with music where we tell Christ how much we love Him. We’re really big on that! You may have to stand when the music plays, some of us will lift our hands up as a way to worship God, others are more timid and may not do that. Notice all the music is focused on Christ.

    Some of us have preachers, other have teachers some call themselves pastors. In my church teaching is emphasized. You may hear about Hell and Salvation, you may not. We very seldom even mention atheists. The church I attend has many skits and a lot of humor.

    Do the research and at least you will have first hand experience what we’re like. God promises to be where two or three are gathered. He will be there in some form or other.

  • GRBerry

    John,

    You might be interested in an article in The Boston Globe’s (warning, paper with strong liberal bias, everything they say needs to be filtered for bias) Sunday Magazine from yesterday. The intro was “An increasing number of young people in America – and adults around the world – don’t believe in God. Greg Epstein, who advises fellow atheists and agnostics at Harvard University, wants to create a kind of church for those who reject religion. But he’s encountering resistance from some of the very people he wants to unite.” It can be found at http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2007/09/16/the_nonbelievers/.

  • http://destogate.wordpress.com/ Tabish Bhimani

    Hey mate!

    It’s interesting how you seem to portray how atheists and followers of mono-theistic/poly-theistic religions cant be friends. Atleast thats what I felt from the writing. Not to say that it’s wrong – contrary, its very interesting – but recently, since I’ve been in Canadian society, I’ve noticed that the atheists, muslims, and christians get along well regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs.

    Much love.

  • L Palm

    What we angry, mean spirited, holier than thou, unintelligently scientific, weak willed, deity dependent, crutch needing ‘christians’ need to learn is that nowhere in the bible did Christ direct us to ‘convert’ anyone.

    The ‘great commission’ is to bring the ‘gospel’ to all nations…God does the converting, He and only He saves.

    To argue with an Atheist is counterproductive to the commission because he/she has already heard of the possibility of a ‘God’ (you cannot deny the existence of something you have never heard of). So the minute a ‘Christian’ meets an ‘Atheist’ he must internally remind himself that “this person has heard about God, has chosen to believe He does not exist and I will no longer discuss God with this person unless he later comes to me and asks to discuss God”

    We Christians are constantly limiting God and His supreme power by not believing that if we plant the ‘seed’ of truth that God and God alone will make it grow.

    Too many of us are like the ‘brown thumb’ gardener, well meaning and certainly not intending to come across as destructive, manipulative idiots but we plant the seed (tell someone what we believe) encounter stony soil (the atheists belief) then attempt to push the seed deeper and deeper into that stony soil.

    We (being frustrated and mad that the ground was so stony) fail to water and fertilize (talk and/or spend time with the person in activities that they enjoy -that do not contradict our beliefs- and develop loving relationships with the person, letting God take care of their soul) and then are shocked that the seed is not sprouting and growing.

    Pushing our ideas of religion on unbelievers over and over again is tantamount to digging up a newly planted seed over and over again to ‘see’ if it’s sprouting yet – this will ‘kill’ it people!

    Nowhere in the bible have I found a reference to a hell where souls burn for eternity. The hebrew word that is most often translated to ‘hell’ actually means grave(death) and we know what Christ did to death (for those not in the know – he defeated it). The ‘eternal fires’ is a hebrew reference to the burning trash heap on the outskirts of Jerusalem, they burned continuously because rubbish was constantly being thrown into it. Using this argument to ‘convert’ people is contrary to the truth of the gospel and has done more damage to God’s loving, compassionate, impecable image than all the ‘holy wars’ combined.

    God’s word (which I must say I believe is the whole truth and nothing but the truth as related by God to man to write down so that all humans would have a reference guide in this life) tells us that Christ came to save ‘all’ of His creation. Not just christians, not just those who believe, not just those holier than thou jerks. God said He will and I refuse to limit God’s ability to save every one of His creation.

    When all His creation (all those who are in the grave, all those living now and all those still to be created) come before Him, we will all have irrefutable knowledge of His existence. It will be then, that if any continue to ‘willfully’ not believe (how impossible that seems) and not accept Christ’s compassionate gift, then those are the ones(and again just my personal belief but these will most likely consist of 98% of all having claimed to be christians) who will be thrown into a (spiritual) fire of refining that will remove the ‘gunk’ that is tarnishing their spirit (just like the refining fire for gold, to remove all impurities) This ‘refining’ will release them into the glory and majesty of true belief.

    Just like any rebuking and correction, this will obviously be a painful process. However, as a loving Father, our God does not wish for any of His children to suffer this, hence the sacrifice of Christ.

    None are good, not jew, not christinian, not atheist nor buddist. We will all face judgment and this knowledge should always humble a ‘true’ christian when sharing his belief. It should shut his mouth before causing damage that may turn a soul away from the truth. It should drive him to do positive acts of kindness in the secular world, not in desire to be saved but in humility because he is saved.

    If you have a burning desire to share the gospel, donating to GFA (Gospel for Asia – which I am in no way affiliated, just admire their philosophy) is a good place to start. They are an organization whose primary goal is assisting natives in sharing the gospel in their own country where there is no knowledge of it.

    Perhaps an Atheist would like to give other atheists some sound advice as to how to relate to the christians in their lives. (maybe you can start with not telling them how offended you are when they quote a bible passage – after they just deleted twelve of your new age positive thinking commentary/racist/sexist joke e-mails or telling them that you don’t need prayers when they mentioned that you’re in theirs – and then reading their horoscope out loud and telling them they need to follow it because it sounds just like what they are going through or admonishing them for how superstitious they are for their beliefs and thanking God you’re not, ‘knock on wood’ – nothing personal folks, just a suggestion)

    John, another fabulous post…you are a thinking christians reference guide to many things secular in nature, keep up the great work (and don’t you dare remove me from your e-mail notice list), love ya brother in Christ, Lisa

  • Thomas Michalski

    John,

    As always an excellent post. This is probably the most I’ve thought about or discussed religion in years. So thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it.

    BTW: I have a new name on here. It’s actually a pen name but i have posted before as MM.

    Any who, i just wanted to say that, as we have seen, most atheists are sensible, intelligent and moral people.

    The reason for that is, largely because of religion, not in spite of it.

    For better our worse, our society, and our civilization is heavily influenced by religion, especially Christianity. Regardless of whether you’re a believer or non-believer, as Americans, our morals and ethics are largely based on Christain doctrine. It’s History. It is a code of conduct has been passed along by humanity for 10 of thousands of years and adapted based on context over time(Please, I’m not trying to start an argument with any creationist ‘s who may be in the audience).

    One of the most important functions of any religion is to teach people; To teach people how to act; in a manner that facilitates co-existence with other human beings. (Wow, i had a hard time with my grammar there my friend, i may need to check out your book! Sadly, I went to school for writing!)

    And there is nothing wrong with this fact. We should all love and respect each other. That’s not exclusive to religion, nor is it denounced by those who choose not to believe in a God.

    Conversely, there are those who act in a morally reprehensible manner, because of their belief in spiritual absolution.

    Do unto others as they would do unto you is a universality that is shared by all rational human beings. It does not preclude, or include, a belief in a higher power.

  • Pingback: I Usually Refrain From Covering Religious Matters (Though I Don’t Shy Away From Spirituality) But This Post From A Christian Has The Best Advice I’ve Seen All Day « Link En Fuego

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    Ross,

    What can I say? We’ll never be able to teach each other. [Calladus: You SO rock.]

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Okay, that idea of mine was a bust. Lemme go try it with SOME of them. If you care what I might have said about your comment, scroll back up to it, and see whether or not I happened to have mastered the whole EDIT business on my side long enough to have commented on yours.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Whoa. I only got through about comment #14. It was FUN. But my wife just called me to come pick her up from work. She sounded like she wanted to get OUTTA there. So I’m outta here. Bye for now. Love to you all. You guys are one quality Comment Collective.

  • Thomas Michalski

    Ross.

    Science and Religion are concenred with two separate queries:

    Religion is concerned with why we are here

    Science is concerned with how we are here

    When their are passages in the bible that attempt to explain the creation of life, it is because people have an overwhelming desire to understand how things work. Therefore, it was necessary to have a creation story. Because even the wisest human, 4,000 years ago, could not explain why trees grow, why flowers bloom, why we breathe air, and die.

    Second: If scientists had the ability to create complex organisms do you think that would be good for humanity?

    I think it would be awful. and I’m sure you agree with me on that point.

    Let me reiterate that I am no way hostile towards religion.

    My only point is that the lack of definitive proof for the process of the creation of the earth, does not PROVE, divine intervention.

    And personally, i do not think we will survive long enough as a species to figure that one out.

  • http://assuredscorn.wordpress.com/ -30-

    Careful, John. I might have to give you a hug. You keep this up, you’re going to give Christians a bad name.

  • snowhite197

    lol @ 30

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    OK, folks, after reading all 52 comments, I have a couple of random thoughts.

    1) John, I agree that far too many believers are unwilling to really listen to atheists and other unbelievers. Our pastor said something similar Sunday morning – once people have been believers for a few years, they rarely even really touch the lives of unbelievers. How many Christians have good friends who aren’t? I have to be one of the first to raise my hand and say, “Guilty as charged.” I have some acquaintances who aren’t Christians, but no real friends. To tell you the truth, after being around Christians most of my life, I’m not even sure how to meet people who aren’t – beyond in online conversations, that is, and few people pretend online relationships share the depth of sharing that real-life friendships can. This is an area I think we believers REALLY need to work on – getting to know unbelievers (whether atheists or those from other religious backgrounds) and making friends with them, not just thinking about how we can convert them but about how we can show Christ’s love to them.

    2) Far too often, in my experience (and I’ve even seen it in comments here), atheists tend to be extremely defensive. I realize many of them have been attacked by those who call themselves Christians – and I’m truly sorry about that. But it’s been my experience that if an atheist finds out I’m a Christian, that’s the end of the friendship. Since I tend to be fairly open about my beliefs, since I’m a homeschooling mom and very involved in my church, usually that means the friendship is over before it’s even begun. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I can’t be a good friend, you know? Just because I believe in God doesn’t mean I’m going to pressure you to believe in Him too. Does that fact that I believe in God mean we can’t have a conversation any more? I find it interesting that there are so many atheists posting here, when I know so few in real life who will engage me in conversation.

    3) I keep coming back to this question of “faith.” Evanescent said, “This is why atheists cannot respect faith, because it is claiming to have all the answers without evidence. If theists will keep resorting to faith, the two sides will always keep talking past each other. On the other hand, if both sides talk only on logic, reason, and evidence, we might actually get somewhere. And of course, that course of action can lead in only one direction: atheism.”

    The problem with that argument is that the atheist, who insists on discussing only what his or her senses can discern, is then asking the Christian to give up the very foundation on which our argument is based – that there is more to life than our senses can discern. I’m willing to have a discussion with you; I’m not willing to give up the premise on which my belief system is based, and argue everything based on the premise on which YOUR belief system is based – which, as you have stated, can lead only in one direction: atheism.

    Many atheists may protest here that they don’t have a “belief system,” that they don’t believe in anything, or that they have no faith. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. If you don’t believe there is a God, then you must believe there’s no God. If you don’t believe God created, then you must believe in some other process by which matter came into existence. You DO have a belief system; you simply choose to believe only in what you define as “evidence.”

    As for logic and reason, I in fact agree with you 100% – I WANT our discussions to be based on logic and reason. I’m simply not willing to exclude a supernatural explanation. And if in fact I’m right, and there IS a God, then the (at least occasional) intervention of the supernatural into the natural world would be natural and expected. How can I argue for the supernatural (in other words, for God) if I accept your premise that the supernatural doesn’t exist?

    Cragar argues that, “If (Darwin’s) facts were wrong they would have been disproven decades ago. On the other hand every time science proves part of the bible is inaccurate theists suddenly change the interpretation of what is written in the bible. The easiest example is the dinosaurs, but you can bring up Noah, the tower of Babel, and many other samples.” I could get into a long discussion of the creation/evolution controversy, but I’ll spare you the details and get to the main point here: Any proposed theory requires significant adjustments as evidence surfaces. Interpretations of Darwin’s theory of evolution have also been adjusted, often dramatically, as evidence has been uncovered that doesn’t fit the facts. I could be wrong, but I think it’s safe to say that there is no scientist today who believes Darwin’s theory exactly as he wrote it. There are, however, many scientists who believe the biblical description of creation, exactly as written, is supported by the evidence.

    Cragar also says, “Atheism by it’s very definition is a lack of faith.” No – atheism is a BELIEF – a faith – that there is no God; a faith that what the senses can perceive is all there is. You must have faith in something; the question is, in what do you place your faith? And a backup question to that is, are you placing your faith in something that is worthy of that faith?

    Calladus follows up with a similar comment, “I TRUST the findings of science because I can see the results of science and what it predicts. . . This is the neat thing about science – it doesn’t require faith! It makes provable predictions that can be tested as true over and over again.” Sorry, my friend, but I don’t see the difference between trust and faith. I, too, trust the findings of true science. I agree that real science makes “provable predictions that can be tested as true” – and I depend on that. But that’s still faith. Not only that, I find that learning to know the Bible, and to know the God of the Bible, also allows me to make “provable predictions that can be tested as true” – predictions about human nature, about relationships with other people, about real happiness and fulfillment, even sometimes about science and history (for example, the Hittites, who were mentioned in the Bible but for years were not supported by any evidence, but who eventually turned up at the time and place the Bible documented).

    I’m a Christian, not only because I have chosen to believe in God, but because I find Christianity to be the most logical, rational explanation for the world I see around me. It enables me to make predictions that turn out to be accurate, to understand why AND how things are, and to function effectively in this complicated world of ours. And I’m not willing to give up that premise to make it easier for you to prove your point.

    I hope this hasn’t turned anyone off – I’ve tried to be considerate and thoughtful, as well as logical and rational. :)

  • Ben

    Thanks for the great article, Mr. Shore. I do have a question, though, kind of related to the first comment from Windy Blue.

    If you become convinced (or are already convinced) that God has judged that atheists deserve to go to hell, to be eternally tortured, will you still find God worthy of respect and worship ?

    Follow up if your answer is yes: If I told you I would think well of someone who was going to beat the crap out of you for no action of yours, just an idea in your head, how would you look at me ?

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    @Marcy Muser–First, very thoughtful response.

    Any proposed theory requires significant adjustments as evidence surfaces. Interpretations of Darwin’s theory of evolution have also been adjusted, often dramatically, as evidence has been uncovered that doesn’t fit the facts.

    Really what has happened is Darwin's theory has been advanced. I like you don't want to turn John's post into a creationist/evolution argument, it was brought up earlier and I commented on it. But for most atheists, that is what the problem is. Because the theory of evolution is proven (despite what creationists want to believe), it falsifies the crux of the bible.

    There are, however, many scientists who believe the biblical description of creation, exactly as written, is supported by the evidence.

    This is a common argument theists bring up. In the US, 5% of scientists are creationist. However this includes all scientists i.e. computer scientists and mechanical engineers, etc. If you only poll scientists involved in the life scientists that number drops to an astounding 0.15%. And that is just in the US, where there is a larger number of creationists. In the world the number is much less than 0.10%. And I would bet that all of those involved in that whopping 0.15% do so because of a personal religious belief.

    You must have faith in something; the question is, in what do you place your faith? And a backup question to that is, are you placing your faith in something that is worthy of that faith?

    I have mentioned this in my blog but the main reason I became an athiest is because of the bible. The more you study it, and the more you study the what science can prove, the more unbelievable the bible is. There is no way a flood happened that covered the entire earth. We would have evidence of that. No one built or tried to build a tower up to heaven, and then it was struck down and then the separation of languages happened. Other languages were already in existance. We have a bones from almost but not quite humans that are 3.2 million years old, yet we want to trust a book that was written by men trying to understand their existance 2-3000 years ago?

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    @Ben

    If you become convinced (or are already convinced) that God has judged that atheists deserve to go to hell, to be eternally tortured, will you still find God worthy of respect and worship

    And not only that but what of all the people born in the other religions, which I brought up before? Do they go to hell because of where they were born and thus were probably never even exposed to Christian religion? What about the Catholic (and some others) belief that a newborn must be baptised to resolve it's original sin. Those that aren't either go to limbo or hell? (I think the Catholics may have revoked this, yet the infant baptisms continue)

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta Sheppard

    WOW, John!!!! you certainly touched a nerve with your atheist inquiry. I can't believe people like Windy exist. Poor soul, she/he is to be pitied! Imagine being married to someone so biased.

    God gave us one tongue, two ears and two eyes. That should tell us Christians something, shouldn't it? Down with our 'verbal agendas' ~ up with our understanding. James the writer was right when he said 'our tongues are set on fire by hell'; an evil fire that cannot be quenched. Therefore our prayer should be: "Lord, teach my tongue to bless and not curse". Windy, if you're out there, in cursing the atheist you have cursed those whom God has created. In the Greek, James' use of the word curse means: 'to speak bitterly". Judging another is never done with gentleness, kindness and mercy. That would be impossible because judging has an angry root. That's why Jesus said: "Judge not, lest you yourself be judged….instead, forgive!"

    John, you are on target! Don't change!

    Greta

  • http://www.myspace.com/the502 The 502

    Hi John,

    As an atheist, I would love to see more Christians with your attitude. You have obviously already been listening to us. Yeah, we would like all of you to come to our side of the fence, too. At least some of us are happy that it can be a small, white-picket fence, and not an 8-foot privacy wall.

    Take care,

    The 502

  • Ross

    Cragar-

    The THEORY of evolution has not been proven, hence the theory part. If we boil the issue down to its simplest and not getting into a full blown debate about evolution, you must at least see that evolution has not been proven because it can't be repeatedly demonstrated or observed. Until it can be, it will be a theory therefore UNproven. You do have faith, your faith is in many scientists collective opinion that evolution and random processes are the origins of life. Your banking your soul on these scientists being right. But be careful, because as you know, in the history of man what has been scientific dogma at one time has been sent to the ash heap of history at another.

    Ben-

    I know you addressed John, but allow me to take a stab seeing that as of yet he hasn't replied (Dude's writing a book so he's probably busy…either that or you've stumped him).

    No doubt hell is a difficult issue. And many Christians get real soft when it's brought up, and I don't exempt myself either. But clarity should be foremost and not embarrassed hand wringing.

    God made everything even including what is right and what is wrong. There is no justice or morality outside of God, basically He could have setup the world in any way he wanted with everybody going to hell for his pleasure…I mean He's God whatever He wanted to do He could do. But the way he set it up was for love to trump everything else and as evidence to that belief He willingly allowed himself to be cruelly killed for the benefit of all who would believe in Him.

    Hell is very real, but avoidable because of what God did for you. The thing about hell and it being eternal is that we have no comprehension of how horrible sin is to God. If you were to see the way God did, you would praise Him for hell. That probably sounds crazy, but that's because we, like Jesus said, are evil in thought and deed compared to God. Most of us agree the child rapist murderer should go to hell, (provided he remains who he is and doesn't come to the Lord for new life…I put this in for Christians reading this), and in fact we derive some comfort in this fact. And I would say that if you don't feel that strongly, it is evil in your soul. But my point is that the idea of hell is appealing to us for people that are the worst of the worst. Consider that God might think that the sin you/me commit in his eyes is as heinous as the above example is in our eyes. If that's the case, then you can see how hell makes sense.

    Whoever ends up in hell I don't think will be angry at God for being unfair. Unlike now where we think, "how unfair God is, that poor Buddhist never even heard about Jesus… Hell will be eternal regret over you own sin, with the knowledge that your place in hell is justice.

    That's about the best I can do. Even with what I have written above, let me assure you that Christians don't relish the idea of hell. If at the end all people go to heaven and there is no hell I will be as stoked and joyous as anybody. That would be awesome. But the Bible, which for me and millions has been life changing and shown itself to be the Word of God, is clear that there is a hell and should be avoided at all costs. I may not like that, but to disregard it because it discomforts me would be foolish.

    God Bless

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    Ross,

    You say that there is no justice or morality outside of God. But that fails in logic.

    Is something morally good because God says it is, or does God say something is good because it is inherently good?

    Either "morally good" is defined on God's whim (and since he is God he can give us all a 'moral sense', as defined by CS Lewis, that is aligned to his whim.) Or there exists an inherently moral good that does not require God.

    If one way, then you worship a deity's whim, which may not be moral (although how could you tell?) If another way, then why do you need God to tell you what is right or wrong, since we could discover what is inherently good for ourselves.

    You can try to answer, but the "Divine Command Theory" has been argued for centuries and I've yet to read a satisfactory answer. Let's just say I find your reasoning unconvincing.

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    Ah, sorry, I meant to mention something else. A small problem that I have with Heaven and Hell.

    Assuming that Hell exists, and that it is a bad place and it is permanent…

    How would you, as a Christian, be able to bear the eternal joy of Heaven knowing that there are people who are eternally doomed to Hell? Won't it bother you that your noontime tea and crumpets are heated up by the flames of the damned? (Excuse my hyperbole!)

    What if it was someone you knew in Hell. A friend, a relative, someone you loved.

    Your child.

    Would you then be truly happy in Heaven, forever and forever, knowing that your child is in hell? (A child who everyone admits was a great person, but a firm Atheist, or perhaps she had a fuzzy definition of Christianity that just didn't make the grade.)

    How then is this Heaven? Is it really Heaven if you have to live there with a broken heart?

    Or worse, I've had some Christians tell me that all their cares will be lifted in Heaven. This is horrible! God wouldn't make me not care about my child…. would he? Would he just erase my memories of my kid?

    And honestly, I don't care if it is my loved one's fault that they got stuck in Hell. I love them despite their mistakes! I'd rather comfort my loved ones in Hell than spend an eternity of regret in Heaven.

  • Ben

    @Ross –

    Thanks for responding, but you didn't answer the questions.

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    Ben, Calladus even added more fuel to the fire. I am curious the response.

  • Ross

    Sorry Ben, I gave it my best.

    Calladus-

    I've struggled with all of the points you've mentioned. And to be honest with you, I think some of these arguments crippled my growth as a Christian for a long time and moreover I think Satan uses it to great effect to get people to doubt God. Also any believer who struggle with your points either has no compassion or just refuses to even ponder them because it makes them uncomfortable. Most Christians probably fall into the latter.

    I used to think that somehow God would wipe out our memories of loved ones in hell or the knowledge of even hell itself, but according to scripture it seems we will have this knowledge. The more a person walks with God, the more he becomes like God and the more he loves what He loves and hates what He hates. When we die, all will be revealed…every thought, intent, desire, focus, etc. We will be seen for who we are and this includes loved ones. If they are not seen with the righteousness of Christ, what is seen will not be good.

    I have many loved ones who don't know Christ and this has pained me since I've been a Christian. I don't despair as I know many people consider things they never have before once the doctor says you have 6 months to live, so I have hope. Nonetheless I have to consider the possibility that some won't come to faith and will face an eternity outside the presence of God. As I've grown in my faith and been changed by it, therefore becoming more Christlike (I hope) I see things in people including loved ones that isn't good and that previously when I didn't believe I never noticed. With some it's stuborness with others it's ungraitfulness for some it might be dishonesty here and there or any other such thing that to most people wouldn't be considered anything at all yet I see it as sin and to be quite frank, serious. I want to make it clear this doesn't mean I've become more judgmental in any way, I'm just a poor sinner needing the grace of God…more every day, and I'm not the judge I just see things in people AND MYSELF that I previously did not. Also I want to make clear that I judge myself and I see the sinfulness in myself more all the time as Holy Spirit does the exposing. To wrap up this long ramble, people in Heaven won't be despairing over love ones in hell; actually they'll praise God for his justice and righteousness. And furthermore, the people in hell won't feel as though they didn't get a fair shake.

  • Ross

    Excellent post Marcy…it was helpful to me.

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    see John, we are having a nice debate, no name calling or anything!

    Ooh, and the Giants give up another passing TD!

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Ha! Yes, I must say, the tone of this debate is downright edifying. I can't follow it, of course, because it seems to involve lots of big words and … research, and stuff, but I am comforted knowing that people qualified to discuss this stuff ARE, right here on my own little blog. It's quite gratifying.

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    I’m sorry you don’t see the difference between trust and faith Marcy. It is pretty easy. Faith is belief without the need of proof. Trust is reliance on something based on past experience. I understand how they get mixed up because they are all the time.

    I trust in science because of proof. You can have faith in God without the need of proof – and although many Christians say they DO have proof, many (most?) would say they don’t NEED proof.

    But that’s my point. When I’m told that I must believe in God I ask, “Why?” I’m told he’s real and I say, “Okay, show me.” I DO need proof. But all such proofs are slippery, and unconvincing. It finally comes down to pure faith – if I only believed, then the vague proofs that were not convincing would suddenly become convincing.

    But I can’t MAKE myself believe! And further, I suspect that if there is a God, he would know if I was faking belief. I assume he would frown on that sort of thing – and if he accepted my faked belief then I wouldn’t respect him. I assume God would frown on that too.

    Saul had his conversion on the road to Damascus, even Thomas got to put his fingers in the wounds of Christ. Is it too much to ask for my own personal miracle?

    Here’s my problem folks – it isn’t just Christianity I hold no faith in – I also hold no faith in Islam, or the Jewish faith, or Hinduism. And to me their claims seem equally valid, and they all claim to have “proof” (which I’ve found to all be equally slippery). My choice isn’t merely whether or not to believe in Christianity, my choice is a multitude.

    As for the truth of the Bible – I’m the first to admit that it is full of good stuff. I read it all the time, and I agree it makes predictions of human behavior and gives moral philosophy that is true and useful. But… so does the Koran (which I also read). And… so does many sorts of other human written fiction. And much fiction offers wonderful explanations of the world around me that seem very rational – but that doesn’t make them true.

    And I find I have problems with the bible. What I see is a book that contains mistakes, and chunks of hatefulness and several just absolutely horrible moral lessons. I’m told that it is either the literal “Word of God” or a divinely inspired book written by man (depending on which Christian I speak to that day). Some Christians take it literally and use it to justify a 6,000 year old Earth, while others take almost the whole thing to be metaphor. And when I naively ask which I should take it to be, I’m told something like “take it to God in prayer”. You know, that guy I don’t have faith in? (sigh)

    Penn Jillette said it well. If you tell me you believe because of Faith, then you win. I can’t say anything to that. The discussion is over. But as soon as you offer proof – even that of the Bible – then we have something to talk about.

  • http://www.diannanarciso.com Dianna Narciso

    That was brilliant! Thank you.

    Dianna Narciso

    Author of “Like Rolling Uphill: Realizing the Honesty of Atheism”

    http://www.diannanarciso.com

  • Ross

    Cragar-

    If a scientist could prove God in a lab, why would the scientific community as a whole, who are hostile to a theistic view, and many who's lifes work is hostile to a theistic interpretation be eager to believe the opposite? Scientists are flawed humans like the rest of us.

    You didn't understand my line about the established medical view of the benefits of bleeding 200 years ago. Let me give you the gist of it: Dogma of the past is often foolishness in the present ie. bleeding. If the Lord was to come down from heaven for all to see, the next instant evolution becomes bleeding. Please take note, evolution is the theory de rigueur but only a theory.

    evanescent-

    Hello. You bring up the fossil record, but I don't know why as it is an embarrassment to the evolutionist point of view for when we look to it we see NO transitional forms. Darwin knew this and said they just hadn't been found yet, but give it time and they would be. Well, it's 2007 and it/they haven't. By the way not only should we be able to find on missing link, they should be everywhere in the fossil record.

    Also, where are all the fossils of various creatures in intermediatory

    states of evolution. Where is the the half fish half horse creature for if evolution is the reason for all living things these hybrid creatures should be everywhere. In fact, if evolution is a fact we should be observing animals today in an intermediatory stages of evolution.

    Vestigial Organs. Full disclosure – here I will cut and paste:

    First, it is in principle not possible to prove that an organ is useless, because there is always the possiblity that a use may be discovered in the future. This has happened with over a hundred alleged useless vestigial organs which are now known to be essential.

    Second, even if the alleged vestigial organ were no longer needed, it would prove devolution not evolution. The creation model allows for deterioration of a perfect creation. However the particles-to-people evolution model needs to find examples of nascent organs, i.e. those which are increasing in complexity.

    Common descent. Genes are shared among humans and apes…96% or there abouts. I think we share 38% of our genes with tomatoes, so I'm not sure what that proves. Human and monkey both have opposable thumbs…God used a good design more than once, He's God he can do what he wants.

    Gotta go, it's quittin time!

  • Jill Kerman

    Hooray, John! Another great post! I just finished this book by Donald Miller, called Blue Like Jazz (sorry, can’t underline in here!), and it’s basically about his journey to Christianity, and the cool people he met along the way. Many of the people he knew were pot-smoking atheists, but he demonstrates how loving and accepting they were of other people, much more so than any of the Christians he knew. The book was great, and it made me realize that to truly show Christ’s love, I need to just accept people, listen to their views, and love them for who they are. People are turned off by the Bible-waving Christians, and it’s my goal NOT to be one of those, but to be an atheist-acting Christian…make sense? Anyway, excellent post, John. Two Thumbs Up, Fine Holiday Fun. :0)

  • lazy

    "Where is the the half fish half horse creature for if evolution is the reason for all living things these hybrid creatures should be everywhere"

    Question to all : which of the three do you think is closer to the truth ?

    A) evolution predicts half fish half horse creatures hence it is wrong

    B) evolution is right just look at the Sphinx and recall Pan and the Centauri

    C) Ross has no idea about evolution

    By the way Ross thanks for not answering nr.78 hope you get back soon.

  • lazy

    Marcy ,

    "…one kind of animal can change into another"

    if you refer to speciation this has been observed. You could read this for more info : http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.ht

    "- and from Adam descended both Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man"

    Well i don't know of any passage in the Bible that mentions any genetic change. I think everyone will agree that the bible describes the creation and history of one single human species.

    "- if in fact there is no God – then it becomes necessary to explain how we got the incredibly complex, beautiful, information-filled world we have, simply by chance mutation and natural selection."

    Well actually that's what we scientists are doing the whole time.

    But let me note that our beatiful world is not the product of "chance mutation and natural selection" these are just two out of many biological processes. But don't forget the chemical and physical ones.

  • Pingback: Creationism vs Evolutionism continue to clog the net… « ric booth - poet, writer, speaker

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Whoa. I just carefully read all of these.

    Um. People. This is QUITE the dialogue!!

    Christians: You're getting your asses kicked.

    KIDDING!!

    No, but, I'm just so deeply impressed by what I've read here. Everybody has been so … thoughtful and intelligent. It's really an amazing dialogue. I hate to think of it every just … FADING into blog-obscurity. But I guess it has to. Well, I'm really honored to be, I guess, for of hosting this thing. Of course, I've been about the crappiest host EVER, since basically I've been ABSENT during this whole edifying exchange.

    Well. Like you needed ME for your discuss-a-thon.

    Amazing. Of COURSE carry on for as long as you like. Well. Duh.

    Sorry I'm not doing much by way of participating, by the way. I'm frightfully busy just now–and would prove a dud of a participant in this conversation anyway. But YOU guys are sure proving … well, worth reading, anyway.

    We need to get people to READ this stuff before it fades away.

    Everybody … tell/email everyone you know to come read this. I guess that's … what … about the best we can do in that regard, yes?

    Well, keep going, anyway! If you want! Which you should! But you don't have to! But you really should! But it's none of my business.

    Man. What a form of communication "blogging" is. It's just … awesome.

    I just can't believe how many people know how to TYPE anymore. When I was a kid, not that many people knew how to TYPE.

    Um. See? This is why I don't participate in Actually Smart Exchanges.

    Carry on.

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    Calladus,

    You say, “Is something morally good because God says it is, or does God say something is good because it is inherently good?”

    The answer to that, I believe, is “Yes.” God is the very definition of good. If He says it is good, it’s good – but because He is inherently good, the only things He says are good are those that are already inherently good. God is not arbitrary. It is impossible for God to say something is good that is not inherently good; it is equally impossible for something to be good if He says it is not. Sorry if that sounds like circular reasoning. This is simply not an either/or proposition; it’s a both/and proposition.

    You go on to say, “If one way, then you worship a deity’s whim, which may not be moral (although how could you tell?) If another way, then why do you need God to tell you what is right or wrong, since we could discover what is inherently good for ourselves.”

    Well, if God is inherently good, then His “whim,” as you put it, must also be good. As for the opposite argument, there are a couple of problems with it. First, you’re right – given perfect, sinless reasoning, we can discover what is inherently good for ourselves. But I don’t believe our reasoning CAN be perfect; the way we think is distorted because of sin (our own, and that of the others who have had input into our lives). So while we can determine (and even agree on) much that is good (love, respect, honesty, integrity), we may be deceived, or we may even deliberately ignore what we know to be good, lying to ourselves and to others about it. Second, even if we COULD perfectly distinguish what is inherently good, we would be unable to actually live according to that good, because we (all humans) are sinful. Even though we know what is good, we choose to go our own way. We do things we know are not good (for us or for others), because we want to do them – we care more about pleasing ourselves than about doing what is good. (I realize that as an atheist you probably don’t agree that people are sinful; I simply hope to show you the reasoning behind why I believe differently.)

    As for the issue of Hell, this is perhaps one of the most difficult and painful topics in Christianity. First, you need to understand – I do not believe anyone just “happens” into Hell. Being sentenced to Hell is a deliberate choice made by every individual who ends up there. The Bible says that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” People in Hell will be there because they have deliberately refused to respond to God’s revelation of Himself or to His grace. There are many documented instances in which people who lived far from any Christian influence responded to what they could discern of who God was – whether through nature or through an ancient prophecy or through some other means – and God provided more knowledge for them (sometimes through missionaries, sometimes through a “chance” encounter or a move to another location, sometimes even through supernatural means). When people choose to respond, God reveals Himself to them, so that they can respond further. When people refuse to acknowledge Him, repeatedly insisting on choosing their own way instead, He regretfully allows them to reap the consequences of their choices. He still loves them; He still wishes they would repent; but He will not force them to serve Him – that’s not the kind of God He is. He did all He could; He even sacrificed Himself in order to draw us to Himself; but he refuses to turn us into robots, unable to make our own choice to follow Him or not.

    What does Hell involve? I don’t know, exactly. Apparently it involves not only pain, but also isolation. Hanging out with your buddies or comforting your loved ones in Hell will not be an option. Jesus said it was bad enough that a man in Hell begged that God would send someone to tell his brothers to turn to God. But Jesus also said that if the brothers did not respond to the knowledge they already had, they would not believe, “even if someone rises from the dead” to tell them.

    I can’t answer how I will feel about this in Heaven. I honestly don’t know how God is going to deal with it. I do know He promises that there will be no tears, no sorrow, no separation in Heaven. Perhaps He Himself will be our comfort. For now, though, what I believe motivates me to encourage as many people as possible to respond to what they already know of God now, while they still can. (That still doesn’t mean I’m going to push you, as an atheist. All I can do is tell you what I believe and why, listen to you, address your thoughts and questions as coherently and thoughtfully as I can. The rest is between you and God.)

    I’ve re-read this at least a half-dozen times. I realize I’m opening myself up to a lot of criticism, to cries of intolerance or irrationality. Please believe I have no hard feelings toward any atheist here. I am posting with great trepidation; I trust it will prove helpful to someone.

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    @Ross

    About the theory of evolution. If you go to the link provided above it goes into more detail, but in some aspects you are right. But the evolutionary process, which is what I should have said is true. Its strict biological definition is “a change in allele frequencies over time.” By that definition, evolution is an indisputable fact.

    I am borrowing the quotes from talkorigins.org, as they say it better than I could.

    But consider: About a hundred years ago, scientists, who were then mostly creationists, looked at the world to figure out how God did things. These creationists came to the conclusions of an old earth and species originating by evolution. Since then, thousands of scientists have been studying evolution with increasingly more sophisticated tools. Many of these scientists have excellent understandings of the laws of thermodynamics, how fossil finds are interpreted, etc., and finding a better alternative to evolution would win them fame and fortune. Sometimes their work has changed our understanding of significant details of how evolution operates, but the theory of evolution still has essentially unanimous agreement from the people who work on it.

  • Ross

    “Can’t follow it…” LOL ,You made me look up penultimate and now I’m one word smarter.

    You’re a Giant’s fan?

    Cragar-

    I didn’t see any link, but the quote you posted from talkorigens.com says this: “and finding a better alternative to evolution would win them fame and fortune.”

    I don’t see how that would be the case; I would say the opposite would be the case.

    “but the theory of evolution still has essentially unanimous agreement from the people who work on it. ”

    Respectully, the above statement means nothing. We could go back 200 years ago and a newspaper could have this quote: ” but the theory of bleeding sick patients has essentially unanimous agreement from doctors who are experts in the field of medicine.”

    Concensus does not equal fact.

  • evanescent

    Ross, you’re right. The fact the 99% of the scientific community concludes that nothing in biology makes sense without evolution doesn’t necessarily prove it right. That’s true.

    What DOES make evolution a certainty is the fossil record, the nested hierarchy of all life, ubiquitous DNA, leftover genes, vestigial organs, common descent, the fact of natural selection and mutation, observed speciation in real life and in the lab, and the fact that everything in biology would make no sense without evolution.

    I respect theists so much more who don’t deny facts. Denying evolution is like denying gravity, it really is as simple as that. Fortunately, only a minority of ignorant fundamentalists reject evolution. Any intelligent cultured theist should accept evolution. Why? Because evolution isn’t atheistic! Evolution is open to theists and atheists alike because it’s a simple brute fact about the word, just like gravity or heliocentrism.

  • lazy

    Ross it’s nice that you emphasize the importance of facts.

    Since you are hostile to the theory of evolution can i ask if you could present us here of a single fact that contradicts it ?

    I m serious if you really think you have fould something then

    write it here and i ll be glad to help you write a paper which you can then post on http://www.arxiv.org and maybe later on a peer reviewd journal.

    But if you haven’t then maybe you schould start thinking why you do not accept this theory in the first place. I mean even the pope does.

    And another question to you ross, supose you have a child which is

    mentaly ill (let say Schizophrenia) and one day it comits suicide. According to your “rules” your innocent child will go forever to hell (as if it didn’t suffer enough on earth) and you will be happy in paradise thinking that, well it got what it deserved. Don’t you find this really cruel and inhuman ?

  • evanescent

    Well said Lazy! If theists are so determined that the fact of evolution is wrong, let them present their evidence and win a Noble Prize! None of them seem interested in doing that do they? Hmmm, I wonder why.

    As for the Schizophrenia example, excellent thought experiment. Theistic black and white morality fails.

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    c’mon now Ross, now you are just reaching.

    “and finding a better alternative to evolution would win them fame and fortune.”

    I don’t see how that would be the case; I would say the opposite would be the case.

    You mean to tell me if a scientist could prove that creationism (or another theory other than evolution, i.e. space aliens dropped us off to see how we would do ala stargate) that he wouldn’t be first in line for a nobel prize? 70-80% of US citizens are Christians, he would be a hero!

    Respectully, the above statement means nothing. We could go back 200 years ago and a newspaper could have this quote: ” but the theory of bleeding sick patients has essentially unanimous agreement from doctors who are experts in the field of medicine.”

    I don’t understand your quote. A better parallel would be that 30 years ago the overwhelming majority of scientists agree that Pluto is a planet.

    Then we could argue that upon further research decades after it’s discovery scientists no longer consider Pluto a planet, as research and planet definitions have changed.

    Of course the problem with that is Pluto still exists, it is just in a different category now.

    Denying that evidence exists for two different human like fossils exist doesn’t make sense. It is a fact that the cro-magnons either eliminated or assimilated with Neanderthals some 40,000 years ago. Why doesn’t the Bible ever mention the almost humans that existed at the same time as the homo-sapiens? That has always puzzled me. And on the 5th day, God created Adam, and an almost Adam, and may the strongest survive to rule this planet!

  • Andrew

    OK – I would just like to add my two bits in regards to this side conversation of science (and evolution – *gasp*). The only things in this universe that have proof is alcohol and mathematics. In science, everything is unproven. This is our axiom as we cannot know that tomorrow we will discover a piece of evidence (fact) that will not overthrow one particular theory or another. A theory in science is an explanatory framework that ties together (explains) the observed facts. It also makes predictions that can be tested.

    Evolution: All the evidences points to biological life changing over time. Everywhere we look we see the diversity of extant life as well as extinct life (in fossils). But all this life is linked at the morphological as well as at the DNA level. They are all related to one another. In Darwin's theory competition in and across populations of critters in a given environment will tend to allow some to reproduce in greater numbers than those who struggle to feed themselves or attract a mate. This is Natural Selection in a nutshell. Darwin didn't know about Mendel's work, nor of course DNA and so he proposed a sort of blending of traits as the fuel for variation. He was dead wrong on that, but dead right on identifying how small variations and competition to survive and reproduce would affect the shape of living things over time. And we have vast time in which this is occuring. Everyone knew that before Dawrin – heck, it was the creationist geologists of the 19th century who came to this conclusion.

    Transitional Forms: All living things are transitional between one generation and the next. All fossils are transitional in some assepct too. There is no shortage of Transitional Fossils.

    So to wrap up – someone posted up there that we have never seen a cat emerge from a fish or something (although we have all seen a fish come from a cat – usually in small pieces :-) ) Let me tell you. If there was a half cat, half fish out there it would *DIS*prove the theory of evolution. Absolutely stone dead in its tracks. So please, if you are going to criticise something, at least understand the basics of what you are criticising. It just makes you look foolish when you do (In fact, didn't Aquinas have something to say about that?)

  • KK

    John,

    very inspiring post. Your really are working on destroying atheists' beloved feindbild (concept of an enemy, excuse my german) by saying reasonable things.

    Here in Europe, we are not hit as often by bibles as atheists are in the US, but what is happening on your side of the ocean does have its effect here. Secular Europe is very disturbed by the US population repeatingly voting people into office who sincerely think that they have a flat-rate to talk with god. For such people, there is very little reason to listen to anyone's advice, lest alone to atheists.

    We atheists, on the other hand, must work a bit on being less agressive and a bit more discriminating (in the true sense of the word: making differences) when it comes to people of faith. I agree with some commenters here that – while we, sorry, have the evidence on our side – we should stop being such pricks about it every time we meet someone who frequently goes to church.

    For those of you here who think that evolution is "just" a theory and that it can not be demonstrated: please, please try to find a scientist in the life sciences and let him or her explain to you what a theory really is, how it relates to observable facts, how theories are being tested and advanced. Chances are high that, in doing so, you will actualy meet an agnostic/atheist who is worth listening to, because you WILL learn something. I am a bit sick of hearing creationists using the most important concept of science (theory) as if it is something to look down upon, the same people believing strongly in the *literal* truth of revelated religious scripture whose literal interpretation is full of internal inconsistencies.

    All the best,

    KK

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    Cragar,

    You said, “But the evolutionary process, which is what I should have said is true. Its strict biological definition is “a change in allele frequencies over time.” By that definition, evolution is an indisputable fact.”

    My dictionary defines “allele” as “either of a pair of genes located at the same position on both members of a pair of chromosomes, and conveying characteristics that are inherited alternatively in accordance with Mendelian law.” I’m not 100% sure what you mean by “allele frequencies.” If by this you mean that the characteristics of an individual population change over time, I know of no one who disagrees with this. It is undoubtedly true that, for example, camels that live in the Gobi desert in China have two humps and long fur, while camels that live in the Sahara have one hump and short fur. It’s extremely likely that both types of camel descended from the same original source – a camel (well, actually, at least two camels, right?). Those original sources must have had the genes for both long and short fur, and for either one or two humps. Those camels that live in the Gobi desert, then, have lost the genes (the alleles) that can produce one hump and short fur; those in the Sahara have lost the genes for two humps and long fur. Again, I know of absolutely no one who disagrees with this process.

    On the other hand, in my opinion there’s a HUGE difference between saying that a group of animals can change characteristics and saying that one kind of animal can change into another. The big question is whether the changing characteristics reflect a net LOSS of information, or a net GAIN. It would be much more convincing if scientists could produce substantive proof of animals that had developed an extra chromosome, for example, and had benefited by that in terms of survival of the fittest. (Yes, I realize occasionally an animal, or even a person, is born with an extra chromosome. That extra chromosome almost always results in a serious handicap to the animal or person, usually ending in their death. Dead animals can’t pass on their genes to a succeeding generation.) So far as I am aware, no examples of evolution have shown how a one-celled organism can become a multi-celled organism, simply by mutation and natural selection – much less how it could happen twice at the same time and place, so that that multi-celled organism could reproduce. In fact, Mendelian genetics argues AGAINST the theory of evolution, since Darwin’s theory depends on the assumption that plants and animals must be able to evolve new characteristics, while Mendel’s theory makes it clear that those characteristics are in fact present, though recessive, in the parent. (Note I said Mendelian genetics argues against evolution, not disproves it – genetics simply makes it more difficult to explain how new characteristics develop.)

    As to whether a scientist who could prove creation would win a Nobel prize – sorry to disagree with you, my friend, but most of the peer-reviewed journals simply refuse to publish anything that has openly creationist implications. In fact, scientists who are well-known to evolutionists as creationists have difficulty getting anything published, even articles which do not have obvious creationist implications. In 1992, Russell Humphreys (perhaps you recognize the name) wrote to the journal Science, asking whether they had a policy of suppressing creationist letters. Christine Gilbert, the letters editor, replied and admitted, “It is true that we are not likely to publish creationist letters.” This in spite of their professed “official” letters policy, which is to publish “the range of opinions received.” If they won’t even publish letters, are they really likely to publish articles by creationists, regardless of the quality of research involved?

    While it may be true that 70-80% of Americans are Christians (at least in name), it is also true that scientific journals are completely dominated by evolutionists. The journals have printed many articles by creationist scientists – if they didn’t recognize the scientist as a creationist, or if the articles had no openly creationist conclusions. Some of those articles, however, have raised serious questions about the theory of evolution. If a creationist scientist can’t get a pro-creation article published in a professional journal, regardless of the quality of the research, how in the world would he or she ever win a Nobel prize?

    As for the Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon issue, I’m actually surprised you brought that up. Experts generally agree that Cro-Magnon man was, anatomically speaking, identical to modern humans, though he apparently had some distinct racial characteristics. Research has found Cro-Magnon societies to be amazingly advanced technologically and culturally. Neanderthals, too, strongly resemble modern man – in fact, their skeletons from the neck down are almost identical to modern man. Their skulls, too, are very similar, though they do possess some characteristics that could be attributed to disease such as rickets; their brains were a little larger than modern man’s (which is 3X as large as any ape brain). Medical illustrators attest that if a Neanderthal man were drawn shaved and with a suit and tie, walking down Main Street, you wouldn’t even notice him. So why do you say they were “almost humans”? I would reword your statement to make my point: “It is a fact that Cro-Magnon humans either eliminated or assimilated with Neanderthal humans some 40,000 years ago.” I have no problem with that statement, nor do I find it necessary to accept an evolutionary paradigm to explain it. “On the 6th day, God created Adam” – and from Adam descended both Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man, both fully human, though possessing different racial and structural characteristics.

    Oh, dear – and I HAD hoped to avoid a long discussion of evolution! I guess, though, that in discussing the existence of God, we have to at least touch on origins, don’t we? After all, if God exists, and if He is indeed all-powerful, as I contend, then it shouldn’t be difficult to believe He could create the world as it exists. But if He doesn’t exist – if in fact there is no God – then it becomes necessary to explain how we got the incredibly complex, beautiful, information-filled world we have, simply by chance mutation and natural selection.

    Again, I intend no disrespect to anyone. I honestly don’t understand why so many atheists think I hold to some sort of strange, mystical, illogical, irrational belief system simply because I find it makes more sense to believe in God than not to.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    Hi John. You're wrong of course: I do know what it's like to believe that there is a God. I believed for quite some time.

    … and then I forgot about it. And when I realized I had forgot about it, I had to admit to myself that I had never had a good reason to believe in the first place: it was a habit: something I had committed to doing, to willing. That's not to say that as a believer that I didn't have doubts, think hard about the ideas, commit to them, recommit to them on top of doubts, and so forth. But at some point I got distracted by other things going on in life, and I somehow forgot to keep up with this sort of housecleaning, to put in the effort it requires to believe (because all beliefs require effort, even if it might not require effort to will yourself to put IN the effort, if you see what I mean). And then I realized that I wasn't a believer anymore.

    I don't even remember when I stopped believing, that's how little time and effort it took. No arguments, no convincing: I just stopped at some point.

    I'm sure the response of most believers to that would be to say, well, you never REALLY believed, not like ME, not the right (insert theological doctrine) way. Ok, I understand how it's important for you to believe that.

    And I don't think people can change their beliefs on a whim, so I don't run around trying to deconvert people.

    But that's my experience, and it's just as real as anything.

    The fact is, many atheists already respect believers (as people), even if most of us don't respect your specific beliefs. We listen to you. We vote for you. We tolerate you just fine. You are the majority of the society in which we live and the value we have favor free thought and free speech (though that isn't the same thing as lack of criticism all around). You, John, are thinking about listening to us, and that's good. Thanks.

    More to come….

  • Andrew

    Oh – the Atheism side of things too! OK, so I am a non-believer in almost exactly the same way as you (devout) are not believers in the Invisible Pink Unicorn, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Russell's Teacup. The difference between you (the devout) and I is that I've looked at the evidence and there is nothing there to say that God (of any description) does not or does exist. I have no proof that one does not, but there is nothing to point me in that direction.

    Why did you decide Christianity had the answers, and not Islam or Judaism (OK – they all believe in Abraham's God). How about why are you not a believer in the gods Mithras, Vishnu or Odin or any of the other thousands of gods worshipped and adored as faithfully over history and present as you do yours? You are all atheists even if you claim to be religious. I just went one less god further than you. And that is the sum total of our difference.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Andrew: Stop confusing us with rational logic, a clear grasp of theoretics, obvious rich knowledge of the science of evolution, and assertions so grounded in reality they'd have the Mad Hatter taking notes. If you can't say something passionately ill-informed, don't say anything at all.

    KK: And who do you think YOU are? Andrew? (Beautifully done, by the way. Hey, I have a BOOK that just came out in Germany! In German! So the Germans can read it! Which makes sense!)

    Bad: Oh, no: Thank YOU. No, seriously. Seriously. C'mon now, I mean. Oh, all right. Fine. Send me cash if you must.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Oh, sure, SPOIL the ending! Loser.

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    Lazy,

    I'm trying this again in a different format – sorry everyone about the last couple of times. I hope this works!

    (Your Quote)“…one kind of animal can change into another” if you refer to speciation this has been observed. You could read this for more info : http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.ht

    (My Response) I did read this article. I'm not exactly referring to speciation when I talk about one kind of animal changing into another. Because in all the examples of speciation given in the article, each new species is still the same type of plant or animal – the same kind, if you use common-sense terminology – as the parent. Primroses are still primroses, even if they do differ a bit from their parents, and even if they can no longer interbreed with their parents; and fruit flies, through thousands of generations, are still fruit flies. We don't see fruit flies gaining characteristics of some other insect, for example – a different type of wing or eye, developed by one or more new genes, that gives it a distinct advantage. The most powerful example I saw of the kind of change I'm talking about is the cross-breeding of radish and cabbage. But that – and all the other examples of speciation given – to me only indicate that the Creator built in a certain level of adaptability into His creation, and that plants have a higher level of adaptability than animals.

    (Your Quote)“- and from Adam descended both Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man” Well i don’t know of any passage in the Bible that mentions any genetic change. I think everyone will agree that the bible describes the creation and history of one single human species.

    (My Response)I agree 100% that the Bible describes the creation of a single human species. But I have never seen a single shred of evidence that supports the idea that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal are any species other than Homo Sapiens, modern man. If Neanderthal could walk down the street in a 3-piece suit and no one would even notice, how do you know he is a different species? And since one theory about Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal is that the two were assimilated, it would seem many scientists believe that they were able to interbreed, and were in fact not a separate species.

    NOW is when I wanted to insert the last quote!

    (Your Quote)“- if in fact there is no God – then it becomes necessary to explain how we got the incredibly complex, beautiful, information-filled world we have, simply by chance mutation and natural selection.”

    Well actually that’s what we scientists are doing the whole time.

    But let me note that our beatiful world is not the product of “chance mutation and natural selection” these are just two out of many biological processes. But don’t forget the chemical and physical ones.

    (My Response) I won’t argue with you there – evolutionists are attempting to explain how we got this world without God. And you’re right, there are chemical and physical processes, as well as biological processes, that are being brought up to try to explain how the world could have developed. I just don’t find them very convincing.

    Thank you for being willing to actually engage this topic with me. I’ve seen way too many discussions like this that descend to name-calling and sarcasm (on both sides of the argument). Thanks to John – and to all the very intelligent atheists and theists – for keeping this conversation respectful and rational.

    I hope this makes more sense now. John, is it possible for you to delete the previous four messages I sent? Thanks!

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    Hurray! This time it did work! Thanks for bearing with me!

  • Andrew

    Marcy. Did you happen to read my post above at number 89 (I think). I am happy to discuss this once you understand that small changes each generation over enormous numbers of generations can yield very different critters.

    BTW – has anyone heard about the tame Russian Silver Fox experiment? Foxes are Canines BTW, but they are not dogs (in exactly the same way that bears are not).

  • lazy

    Marcy , I let Andrew discuss the change of animals problem with you,

    He actually answered it allready.

    As to the Bible -CroMagnon issue. Well let me put it this way. The Bible presents us Adam and Eve and their descendents as allready civilized people thus totally ignoring the fact that humanity went through a lot of stages until civilizations as we know them formed.

    Now to the one that really makes me wonder :

    "there are chemical and physical processes, … I just don’t find them very convincing."

    ARE YOU SURE ? I think not. You use a computer don't you ?

    Well a computer works through physical processes based on Quantum mechanics and electromagnetism. Same for cell phones Tv etc. You do hold your tea or coffe cup firmly when you drink don't you ? Would you do that if you didn't trust gravity pulling the cup down and smashing it on the floor ? I think you get my point …

    So since you do trust physics and chemistry in your everyday life why don't you find them convincing as a description of the world ?

    can you please tell me of a single physical process which you don't find convinving enough and for which you have a bible based alternative ?

  • Don McLeod

    Not an Aethesit, who am I to say there is no God. The bible is not alway right, so what? I was glad to read the article. My two goals in life are 1. meet some one new on a weekly basis have a good convesation where they end the conversation with “it was really nice to meet you”, its the tone of the voice. 2. use my increadible power to upset people with my writting style and upset a “Christain” on an aethiest hate rant in our local papers. I don’t actually enjoy the second part. I’m glad some on your side of the fence is offering to discuss. As long as it does not end “great discussion and now to impliment the word of God”, with hand on Bible.

  • Andrew

    Heh. :-) These days the Germans can probably read and write English better than you or I. They might miss some idiom, but to the point, I will seek out your book and have a go (native english speaker/struggling deutsche spreken).

    Errr. John – I am inetrested in what you attribute our seemingly inate “spirit” to. Example: You are sitting in a pristine forest with a waterfall in front of you and a clear view of our native galaxy (the “Milky Way”). I want to focus on our differences in this circumstance even though I suspect we would be equally awed.

  • http://FVThinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    I can unequivocally tell you that the best music IS from the non-theistic sided of the fence . . . we have Steely Dan!! :-)

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    Marcy, you keep insisting that we don't see things that, if they happened, would be CONTRA evolution. Common descent means what it says: the descendants of fruit flies will always be fruit flies in the just the same way that we are still apes, still mammals, still eukaryotes.

    Your claim about gaining and losing information is meaningless unless you define what you mean by information. By the traditional definition (Shannon), every single mutation is a gain in information, regardless of what it does. If you want adaptively fit mutations, then there are countless numbers of them, but you are no longer talking about information theory. And you also have to realize that fitness is a CONDITIONAL quality in nature, not an objectively genetic one. The proof is only ever in the pudding: a change can be adaptively good in one situation but bad in another.

    Transitional forms? The problem is, you don't seem to understand what you are looking for. A transitional form is NOT "half this" and "half this." That, again, would not be evolution (unless we are talking about hybridizations, but those are both rare and only happen in very closely related species). Transitional forms are those which have distinctive trait patterns which show them to belong to a particular larger group, but also have trait patterns which are distinctive of a smaller descendant group. Reptiles are not "half fish." They are, in a sense, ALL fish, or rather (since there is actually no coherent taxonomic group of just "fish") , all vertebrate Sarcopterygii of which reptiles are a particular sub variation of.

    You, for instance, are a particular kind of ape. All of the features which distinctively set apes apart from other primates are also features that you have. No other group of creatures on the planet, for instance, has the sorts of teeth and particular patterns on the teeth that apes have. And you have those exact distinctive teeth. The same goes for things like our unique(ly ape) shoulder joints, our individually unique fingerprints (yes, all great apes have them to), even down to a very particular pattern of the coverage of hair on our bodies (our hair is simply thinner). Of course, the genetic elements like this are even more compelling, but a little harder to understand at first pass.

    There are no half-ape, half-men for precisely this reason. If you go looking for some, then you are looking in the wrong place.

    You say that evidence keeps arising to contradict scientists… but does it? You can claim that, but what if those claims are actually without merit, or based on a lack of understanding, or even a willful misrepresentation of the evidence by creationists?

  • lazy

    Marcy , i don't know if I should continue debating since you seem to have very strong beliefs but i will.

    1)Transitional forms : NO it's not just an hypothesis there are plenty of fossils for example http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional….

    "If you claim, for example, that reptiles evolved from fish, where are the fossils showing that development?" You forgot the intermediate step namely amphibians and there are plenty fossils for that transition. Is that proof enough ?

    2) Cro-Magnon etc. Uhm do you really think that human civilization is not evolving in time ? Do you really think that people that lived 10.000 years ago were at the same cultural, scientific, political, philosophical, linguistic level as people that lived 2500 years ago or today ? If yes then i think you are the one who is closing her eyes to the facts.

    3) Scientific processes : First of all not all science is about evolution.

    As a physicist i m fond of the reductionist approach : psychology is based and explained on biology that on chemistry and this in turn on physics. So of course there are many big open questions and when we solve them there will be others but that's how it works. Our brains are small (although masterpieces of nature) and we will never acquire complete knoweldge but this is ok. But at least we have managed by observation experiments and reason to figure out that there are 4 fundamental forces in nature and to unify 3 of them.

    Now you claim that there are some evidence contradicing some theory. Can you please say here what and which ?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Andrew: Better than YOU, maybe. Ark. No, but you’re right, of course. In all my dealings with the German publisher of my book, the people have been OUTSTANDING with English. I kept going, “Wow, you guys really write English good!” And they kept going, “It’s ‘well.’ We write English ‘well.’ Dork.” I’m not sure what German word “dork” means. As to your forest/Milky Way question. Yes, of course we would be equally awed. Being utterly blown away by nature is hardly dependent upon a belief in God. As you know, I know.

    Mike: Stoner. (KIDDING!)

  • lazy

    Marcy something else,

    I read in your homepage that you are into homeschooling. That's intersting and it seems to be trendy in the US (here in Europe it's not).

    It makes me think though about the quality of education that one can give to his/her children when having such biased views on science.

    What exactly do you teach your children about biology , chemistry and physics ? What about religion ?

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    John, like someone else has already pointed out, you CAN imagine what it is like to be an atheist. Just think of what you feel about the hindu gods, or the greek pantheon. As Stephen Roberts said, “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    On the other hand, I think an atheist who has never been religious truly cannot understand what it is like to be a Believer. I for one am continuously baffled by people’s willingness to believe things that are so obviously completely made up. It is to me as deep a mystery as for instance a fanatical interest in fashion.

    Anyway, thank you for a very good post.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Felicia: Thanks for thoughtful comment. The Roberts quote is a real gem.

    Marcy: Looks like your answers survived, yes? (And good thing, too. I sure appreciate the tone and substance [sp?] of all your comments.)

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    wow, 24 hours later and still going strong.

    lazy, andrew, bad, and others, excellent points.

    lazy– read in your homepage that you are into homeschooling. That’s intersting and it seems to be trendy in the US (here in Europe it’s not).

    It makes me think though about the quality of education that one can give to his/her children when having such biased views on science.

    What exactly do you teach your children about biology , chemistry and physics ? What about religion ?

    This is a subject I was going to eventually cover in my blog. My wife is a theist and for a couple of years (K-2) she homeschooled our children. We had a few arguments about this, and I eventually convinced her to send the kids to school. In the US (and elsewhere I am sure) there are a number of homeschool curriculums that are theist based, that sidestep a lot of what we are discussing here, and I was going to have none of that.

    I can say from having the kids homeschooled and in public schools is a major difference. You can see the more human development now that they have been in regular schools for 3 years. My wife would even tell you now that it was a mistake and that they should have been in school all along. Eventually I will do a long post on it.

    Marcy though actually is very knowledgeable and knows her refute points, but I think bad's last paragraph says things pretty well. His quote "even a willful misrepresentation of the evidence by creationists?" fits my wife to a tee. She doesn't see what is there because she doesn't want to.—and actually I would say my wife's isn't willful, but a hopeful misrepresentation of the evidence…

  • Andrew

    Marcy at #114: "In fact, in the studies referenced by the speciation article, almost all of the new species represent a net LOSS of information from the parent species. I know of no creationist who claims there is no genetic change involving net loss of information over time. The creationist claim is that genetic change involving a net GAIN of information is almost non-existent (and most of those instances are harmful to the creature). If in fact almost all genetic change involves net loss of information, no amount of time will result in increasing organization such as molecules-to-man evolution requires; instead, this argues that the world was originally better than it is today, and organization is decreasing."

    __________________________

    OK – this is a common talking point in an evolutionary debate (but not among evolutionary scientists!).

    First, you will have to define what "information" is in a biological sense. But I will assume you are misapplying Shannon's Theory or some "common-sense" idea about corruptions in written text always reducing the coherence of the passage. Shannon's Theory very briefly equates a more random string to *higher* information content. A series of all 1's or all 0's or a repeating pattern of both is likely to have less informational content than a random string. So the binary string of '11111111111111111' can be expressed as 17 1's. Likewise '1010101010' can be expressed as 5 "10's". However, 11000100100100001 can only be expressed as 11000100100100001 and thus has higher information content. How this is applicaable to genetics, no one has ever been able to articulate. What is your take on it?

    Now a "corruption" of a written text such as "a quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" becoming "a quick brown fox jumped over the hazy bog" yields a different message, but no less information. But this has nothing to do with genetics either.

    The Genetic "code" contains 4 elements: G, A, C, T which are the first letters of the constituent chemicals. GATTAGA contains as much or as less information as GATTACA (OK these are random strings which are not correct genetically speaking, but stick with me). The important thing is where in a much larger string they occur *and* how they are expressed.

    Mutations are random and can be transgenomic (eg viral); insertions, deletions, transpositions or duplications. The majority are neutral as they do not express. A smaller number are deleterious, as they are expressed and cause a loss of *function* and still a smaller amount are beneficial. Some of the neutral mutations can also be subject to later mutation as well and can become either deleterious or beneficial. It is only the beneficial (in the context of expressed morphology or metabolism in a *given* environment) that fuels evolution.

    Do you understand this? Should I elaborate before I go on?

  • L Palm

    I love the science vs. God arguments….if christians posit that God created everything, then we must logically express that any ‘proven’ scientific fact was created by Him…the “I just don’t find them convincing” statement let’s the air out of the debate balloon pretty darn fast.

    I am an avid reader. I also love mysteries and quantum leap type of theories (anyone remember that show). I graduated with honors, a four year medical scholarship and an entry in Who’s Who in American High School Students (top 5% in the nation scholastically) so I am not naive to the science of our universe.

    What is wonderful about God is that within the pages of his Word there are thousands of scientific references for those willing to ‘investigate’

    I’m sure most on this highly educated debate forum are aware of the Universal Genisis Statement whereby science expresses the universe using five terms “Time, Space, Matter, Motion and Energy” and Genisis1:1-3 decribes God creating the universe, ““In the beginning [time] God created the heaven [space] and

    the earth [matter] . . . And the Spirit of God moved [motion] upon the face of the waters.And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light [energy]”

    The very first thing God tells man is that He controls all aspects

    of the universe. Over 3000 years later science tells us the very same thing. Powerful.

    God describes light waves and speed(Job38:19), radio waves(Job38:35), universal expansion(Ps104:2 and nine other verses), the rotation of the earth(Job38:12), audible emmisions from distant stars(Job38:7), the circiut of our sun(Ps19:5), the description of invisible particles of matter(Heb11:3), the earth wearing down(Is51:6), creation as being “finished” once and for all(Gen2:1).

    This is exactly what the First Law of Thermodynamics says. This law(often referred to as the Law of the Conservation of Energy and/or Mass) states that neither matter nor energy can be either made or destroyed. These are only a small sample of scientific ‘facts’ in the bible.

    He created it, tells us about it, then allows us to ‘prove’ it through the investgative properties of science. Is our God awesome or what?

  • Andrew

    L Palm at #102 "God describes light waves and speed(Job38:19), radio waves(Job38:35), universal expansion(Ps104:2 and nine other verses), the rotation of the earth(Job38:12), audible emmisions from distant stars(Job38:7), the circiut of our sun(Ps19:5), the description of invisible particles of matter(Heb11:3), the earth wearing down(Is51:6), creation as being “finished” once and for all(Gen2:1)."

    But have any of those been noticed and explored *before* science discovered them through its methodology? No – you have loosely retrofitted them and although that is very progressive of you (and I applaud this), I could find just as many passages in the Bible that outright contradict the natural world as we know it. What was the one where someone stood on a tall mountain and surveyed all four corners of the world. This by your standards shows that the earth is square and flat (or at the very best slightly curved). Now it is a common myth that the majority of people thought the earth was flat, but some did, and obviously whoever transcribed that passage was playing fast and loose with poetry or had never really thought about it. Someone who was writing the bible as a scientific text-book and could really see all of the world would never have put that passage there…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, have any of you guys seen my car keys? I thought I left them — oh, here they are. Never mind. Thanks. Carry on.

  • Ben
  • lazy

    L Palm , damn if I only knew that all physics is in the book of Job i really wouldn’t spend so much time reading these other useless university literature. Why didn’t someone tell me earlier ?

    The most awesome verse of all the ones you quote is for me

    Job 38:35

    “Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,

    And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?”

    And your laconic but insightful interpretation of it : “radio waves ”

    I have nothing more to add to this wisdom.

  • http://darklydreamingdavid.wordpress.com Dave Id

    I was intensely aware of what to me was the fact of God. It’s never even occurred to me there isn’t a God.

    FACT OF GOD? Whaaaaaaaaa?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mmskXXetcg

    Dawkins says it better than I could.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    See the words “to me” in there?

    Boy, for a rational guy…

    :- )

  • http://darklydreamingdavid.wordpress.com Dave Id

    “TO ME”…

    You imply personal truths in the universe. There is only THE truth, not A truth, not MY truth, not YOUR truth.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Um. Are you SURE you’re into logic?

    I have a sister named Nancy.

    You must too, then?

  • http://immortalityltd.blogspot.com Jake

    I think some of the basic misunderstandings of scientific theory are that most people don’t understand what the Scientific Method really is.

    It doesn’t PROVE anything, rather it only DISPROVES innacurate hypotheses. It finds the best answer to a question, based on the existing evidence. If new evidence arises that contradicts the answer given previously, then the Method is working. No scientific hypothesis, theory, or law is ever truly complete, because new observations happen every microsecond.

    The Scientific Method is a process we can all participate in. It is the collective work of many, many people, building on the work of others. It does not discriminate based on your previous disproven hypotheses. Each test is new and independent of all others. This prevents bias.

    I have no faith that Darwin’s theory is the one true answer, but I do know that many people smarter than me (and some less so) have made observations that uphold some of its tenets and refute others. Those that refute are added to the collective set of “rules” that are known as evolution.

    Science is a collaborative effort; it invites you to prove things wrong. In fact, if you neglect to try, you cannot truly call yourself a scientist. When was the last time your priest or minister asked you to point out the flaws in his sermon?

  • KK

    You said:

    >>

    Hey, I have a BOOK that just came out in Germany! In German! So the Germans can read it! Which makes sense!

    >>

    Andrew is right. We do miss some idiom sometimes. In the German translations, where they often leave them out even if there are perfectly equivalent formulations at hand. Will buy your book, anyway. I expect some real effort on your side, I just finished Christopher Hitchens “God is not Great”. You better be as powerfully eloquent as him, or at least as funny.

    Oh, btw., I did come over from Friendly Atheist (http://friendlyatheist.com/), you two should try to write something together.

    >>

    I kept going, “Wow, you guys really write English good!” And they kept going, “It’s ‘well.’

    >>

    You actually did try sarcasm on Germans? You are a brave man.

    Keep up the good work,

    KK

  • Karen

    Hi John,

    Just wanted to thank you for your humility and generosity. I really appreciate the kindness and the tone of your post. The excellent response you’ve gotten is probably due to the fact that atheists rarely get spoken to so nicely by Christians, and we appreciate it when we see it! :-)

    I have been on both sides of the “fence.” For 30 years I was a conservative evangelical Christian (and YES, for those who don’t believe me, I was truly a born again believer!). I de-converted about six years ago and am now an agnostic atheist (i.e., I don’t know if there’s a deity or not, but I hold no belief in a god or gods because I don’t see any evidence for one).

    I understand you when you say you can’t imagine NOT believing in god. I felt the same way. I believed in god my whole life. But I started questioning, and reading, and researching, and debating.

    Then one day I just for one second tried on the idea that … man created god … not vice versa. I didn’t think it for very long – justaninstant – but: The world didn’t end. I didn’t get struck by lightening. I wasn’t sad, or depressed, or scared.

    I felt like the very same person before I entertained the notion that … mancreatedgod … and then also in the next instant, when I put that thought away. Over the next weeks and months, I went back again and again to the same notion. Again and again, I wasn’t struck by lightening. Again and again, the notion made sense.

    Yes, it rocked my world. But gradually I was able to see how much sense it made, and how little sense my blind faith made. I say “blind faith” because I was proud that I believed in something without evidence or even in spite of evidence to the contrary. I am a much happier, freer person since I shed those blinders! And … I still haven’t been struck by lightening. :-)

  • http://darklydreamingdavid.wordpress.com Dave Id

    Um. Are you SURE you’re into logic?

    I have a sister named Nancy.

    You must too, then?

    That’s THE truth. Not YOUR truth, not MY truth. And I hope Nancy is doing well. But when you start talking about THE FACT OF GOD to an atheist, you have to explain yourself and when your explanation is TO ME, you are saying that this is YOUR TRUTH. Well people who have their own truths often get interned in little clinics, unless they are religious, then its just revelation. If your FACT OF GOD was FACT OF LEPRECHAUN you’d be locked up and medicated.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    There are about 27,000 words written in these comments. A regular, trade paperback is around 40,000.

    Word-count wise, this is 2/3 of a BOOK.

    Hmmmmmm…..

    It's MINE!!!!

  • L Palm

    KAREN:I’m very surprized to hear the “I didn’t get struck by lightening or anything” on this forum, especially from a reformed theist.

    Do you have children Karen? I do, nine to be exact (no I AM NOT CATHOLIC, lol…I have multiples and adopted) and there have been many times (more than I care to remember) when I’ve had one of my precious, intellegent, willfull, proclaimers of free-will children come up to me and very vocally tell me in no uncertain terms that “I WAS NOT THEIR MOTHER!”….well I distictly recall either the actual labor or the laborous process of adopting them and I most certainly am their mother.

    Did I ever entertain the idea of pulling out a gun and shooting them dead because they made this statement or thought this way, absolutely not.

    Why would anyone even think that (who at one time they ‘believed’ to be) their creator and Heavenly Father could possibly strike them down dead for doing exactly what he created them to do?

    LAZY: why thank you…I know just what you mean. Romans3:19 states that the laws (of God) stop every mouth… (and yes I fully understand your sarcasm, do you mine?)

    The wisdom of man is foolishness to God. As the author of all science He must as a Father view us as the simpleminded creatures we really are and feel such overwhelming compassion for us and our lack of true knowledge.

  • ES

    I've been an atheist for about 3 years. Before that, I believed in god for 40 some years. Devoutly and deeply.

    Then I started to study religion. I realized that, aside from some books that some guys had written a long time ago, there was NO EVIDENCE for god.

    Sure, I had euphoric experiences of communion with the universe. But that's personal and subjective.

    Other people have experiences of communion with aliens, or Elvis.

    Other people have experiences of communion with Allah, or the Buddha, or Thor.

    I need a little more than euphoric subjective experiences.

    I did more reading. More research. I found that

    -there were lots of mystery religions involving dying and rising gods well before Christianity invented its version.

    -Paul's epistles were written well BEFORE the gospels and Jesus' life does not figure in them.

    -The gospels were all based on Mark. Matthew, Luke and John were written later and just embroidered the story.

    -There were no contemporary accounts (NONE) of Jesus existence.

    And so on.

    Moreover, the masses of evidence show that the mind does not exist independently of the brain. Damage to the brain results in damage to the mind in direct proportion. OBEs and NDEs are best explained as chemically-based brain events (see Dying to Live, by Susan Blackmore).

    I'm getting off on a bit of a tangent here, but my point is to illustrate that my atheism was not arrived at whimsically. It was, on the contrary, exceedingly painful to have to arrive at the conclusion that the evidence of the material world does not support the god hypothesis.

    It's not at all that I can't "imagine" there being a god. It's simply that god got smaller and smaller until it finally disappeared in a puff of reason.

    Be careful with that thinking stuff, now.

    And don't look into the bible too closely, either. Could have disastrous results.

  • ES

    Oh, and as for convincing any atheist who arrived at his or her conclusion about the existence of god that say, Christianity is true?

    Fat chance.

    How likely would you be to suddenly decide that Islam was true?

    Not much, eh?

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    Andrew and lazy,

    Thanks for pointing me back to your post – it’s number 86, in case anyone else wants to look back at it. Here’s what you said:

    “But all this life is linked at the morphological as well as at the DNA level. They are all related to one another. In Darwin’s theory competition in and across populations of critters in a given environment will tend to allow some to reproduce in greater numbers than those who struggle to feed themselves or attract a mate. This is Natural Selection in a nutshell. Darwin didn’t know about Mendel’s work, nor of course DNA and so he proposed a sort of blending of traits as the fuel for variation. He was dead wrong on that, but dead right on identifying how small variations and competition to survive and reproduce would affect the shape of living things over time. ”

    I think this is a clear statement of what most evolutionists believe. Small changes, caused by genetic mutations, along with natural selection, accumulated over time, are responsible for molecules eventually becoming man. The problem is, the kind of speciation the article discussed does not prove this. It only proves that living things can adapt, and that eventually some of those changes can result in some descendants not being able to interbreed with their ancestors. That in no way supports the idea of one kind of plant developing into a totally different kind, much less into an animal.

    I know, I know, “kind” is not a scientific term, it’s a common-sense one – but a fruit fly becoming a slightly different fruit fly doesn’t prove a fruit fly can even become some other kind of insect, let alone something more than a fruit fly. In fact, in the studies referenced by the speciation article, almost all of the new species represent a net LOSS of information from the parent species. I know of no creationist who claims there is no genetic change involving net loss of information over time. The creationist claim is that genetic change involving a net GAIN of information is almost non-existent (and most of those instances are harmful to the creature). If in fact almost all genetic change involves net loss of information, no amount of time will result in increasing organization such as molecules-to-man evolution requires; instead, this argues that the world was originally better than it is today, and organization is decreasing.

    “Transitional Forms: All living things are transitional between one generation and the next. All fossils are transitional in some assepct too. There is no shortage of Transitional Fossils.”

    You offer no proof of this. As nearly as I can tell, it is an assumption based on the premise that evolution is true. The transitional fossils Darwin expected to see, and those creationists would like to see evolutionists produce, are those that show development from one kind of animal into another. If you claim, for example, that reptiles evolved from fish, where are the fossils showing that development? If evolution is true, there should be thousands of transitional forms between the fish and the reptile. Where are the fossils to support this claim? Where are fish with reptile-like scales, or vice versa? Where are reptiles with eyes more like fish, or vice versa? Obviously I’m not talking about a half-cat, half-bird – you’re right that that would not be consistent with evolutionary theory, since evolutionists don’t believe cats evolved from birds. But what about the minor transitions between kinds that ARE supposed to have evolved from each other? If birds evolved from reptiles, where are the thousands of generations between scales and feathers, or between reptile’s solid bones and bird’s hollow ones?

    Lazy, “The Bible presents us Adam and Eve and their descendents as allready civilized people thus totally ignoring the fact that humanity went through a lot of stages until civilizations as we know them formed.” Undoubtedly civilization went through many different kinds of forms over the years. But there’s no proof, and not even much evidence, that those civilizations actually went from “primitive” to “advanced” in stages over time. In fact, there are still places today where people live just as the “Stone Age” people did, and there are places where advanced civilizations once existed and now people live in a much more “primitive” culture.

    As for Cro-Magnon man, research makes it clear he was not the brutish, club-swinging cave-dweller many have portrayed him as. It would appear he built huts, paved his floors with stones, constructed kilns and built pottery. He used tools made of bone, flint, ivory, antler, and probably wood. He had carved bone flutes, wore jewelry, sewed clothing, and apparently was involved in religious activity. And of course he developed elaborate art, including painting in brilliant colors that are still bright thousands of years later. Does this sound like an ancestor to modern man, or simply an individual culture?

    There is similar research on Neanderthal man, though given that many Neanderthals had rickets, it would appear that they did not have much exposure to sunlight (perhaps they lived during the Ice Age?). First, though broken bones and other injuries were common, as was arthritis, the bones show they often kept living long after the onset of their disability – meaning others must have cared for them, even knowing they would never get better. They were good hunters. They lived in huts, which were often built in caves to keep them out of the wind. They made and used stone tools effectively. They knew how to use fire, often burning bones because wood was scarce in Europe during the Ice Age, and they cooked their food over the fire, often using stone hot plates. They wore clothes, which they made by sewing animal skins together. They had a sense of the afterlife, burying their dead with ceremonies and flowers. Among the plants discovered in these graves are a number with medicinal properties, suggesting they may have had some knowledge of medicine. Not only that, there is even evidence of a form of writing.

    As I said, these people were not partially developed almost-humans – they were fully human, and lived much as many humans do today.

    “So since you do trust physics and chemistry in your everyday life why don’t you find them convincing as a description of the world ?

    can you please tell me of a single physical process which you don’t find convinving enough and for which you have a bible based alternative ?”

    OK, OK, point taken! :) Obviously I find the processes convincing – how could I not? And I find them convincing, in your words, “as a description of the world.” What I don’t find convincing are the arguments that the world we live in could have been produced solely as a result of these physical, chemical, and biological processes. From the original “Big Bang” to the existence of complex life on earth, questions and problems arise at almost every step, questions and problems that are extremely difficult to resolve in terms of ordinary everyday processes. I realize this is what evolutionary scientists spend their time doing; but no matter what new theories they develop, the evidence seems to continue to arise to contradict them. Does this clarify what I meant?

  • http://uefa.com Blizzinho

    Here are the facts:

    1. Facts are true statements, regardless of consensus or opinions or lack of supporting evidence. Example of a fact: John Shore is a great writer.

    2. Lack of supporting evidence for a theory does not mean such evidence is non-existent. (However: if some evidence that would disprove such theory exists, that theory is indeed false)

    3. Unless two certain theories are mutually exclusive and completely cover all possibility, disproving one is not equal to proving the other.

    4. The aforementioned facts are taken out directly from Logic 101, especially #1.

    With such facts in mind:

    + Evolution and God Existence are not mutually exclusive. In other words, without further knowledge, the validation of one theory does not validate nor invalidate the other. Therefore, debates between these two theories are inherently flawed since no conclusion about either could be logically deduced.

    + Furthermore, neither theory can be proved or disproved logically and/or evidently. That means strict atheists should also have to take a leap of faith to believe in something that can't be reached with logical reasoning. Wouldn't it be hypocritical (for atheists) to criticize people with "blind" faith if you are no different?

    + To generalize, Science and Religion could possibly co-exist happily with the exception of Bible literalism.(My sincere sympathy to Bible literalists and equivalent fundamentalists in other religions, there are more than enough supporting evidences to show that the Earth is more than 10,000 year olds.) However, while Science relies on an ever-increasing set of facts (more facts come from verified and validated theories), Religion relies on a certain constant faith that never changes. Science and Religion will remain "friendly" until the set of scientific facts provides solid conclusion for or against Religion (this will most likely not happen in our lifetime).

    No absolute conclusion on God's Existence can be made until:

    + Mankind (science) has exhausted all other possibilities (this is somewhat hopeless, since there are countless possibilities, figuratively speaking)

    + Personal death, which could result in 3 different ways:

    * "God" giving the complete fact sheet, before dispatching you to your final destination.

    * Nothing happens, you're death, that's it, it's over. Guess you really never find out.

    * You're told you're just part of the matrix (this one is rather lame)

    + God's Revelation during which God announces that "evolution is full of crap and he/she likes Britney Spears' music". Well, what if it is Satan/Loki/Britney Spears/any supernatural being playing trick on us? Guess this is a tough one. Never mind then.

    Final verdict: noone knows who's right or who's wrong. If you're sincerely convinced with your answer, you'd better hope and "pray" it's right (no puns intended). If you are unsure, my (scientific) agnostic friends, all you can do is keep trying to get closer to the answer. But tell you what, if you solely rely on science and strictly logical reasoning, good luck finding the answer anytime soon. You might as well focus on something else in your lifetime.

  • lazy

    John , I hereby claim a fair percentage of the profits from YOUR upcoming book namely # of posts by lazy / # of total posts weighted by an appropriate factor > 1 OK ? Say yes or i ll stop posting immediately ( well ok i won't it's really fun)

    Marcy you are becoming my favorite -to debate with Christian.

    As i said I'm a physicist so in order to answer properly to your statements i ll have to read (and google) more. That takes time and I do have a life. But you mentioned Big Bang :

    "from criticisms of the Big Bang theory (even from evolutionists)"

    Well the Big Bang model is a very logical and consistent model of the universe but it is not the ultimate one. There are others like

    inflationary universe, multiuniverse, cyclic , ekpyrotic etc. which are being advocated nowadays by serious cosmologists. Fact is the universe is expanding. And what cosmologists do is they try to find a model that describes such an expanding universe and is also consistent with all other observations and laws of nature.

    If I could choose I would like to have a cyclic universe which blows up and goes down periodically in all eternity. But since i chose to be a scientist i have to accept whatever the one model that is consistent with the observations not the one that i like the most.

    So marcy to sum it up. We are not 100 % sure that the Bing Bang actually is the right one. Does this meean that we should stop working on it and believe what is written in Genesis ?

  • http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com Marcy Muser

    Bad,

    “Common descent means what it says: the descendants of fruit flies will always be fruit flies in the just the same way that we are still apes, still mammals, still eukaryotes. ”

    Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me that there’s something wrong with this argument. I agree with you that the descendants of fruit flies will always be fruit flies – but so far as I can see that contradicts evolution rather than supporting it. Sure, you can argue that we are “still apes, still mammals, still eukaryotes.” But if the theory of evolution is true, then at some point in time, a eukaryote had to be a descendant of a single-celled organism. At the point when it became a eukaryote, it ceased to be whatever it had been before, since by their very definition eukaryote has more than one cell. This required the addition of genetic information (basically DNA – I’ll get to a more formal definition in a minute.)

    Evolution also argues that the first mammal descended from some other life form. If mammals descended from reptiles, then at some point the first mammal ceased to be a reptile and became a mammal. Whatever organism mammals descended from, at the moment we begin to call an organism the first mammal, it is no longer whatever its parents were. The transition from non-mammal to mammal also involved a gain of a significant amount of genetic information (I realize an evolutionist will say the gain happened very slowly over time – nevertheless, over time, there must be a very real and very substantial gain in genetic data.) The whole argument of the theory of evolution hinges on the argument that incredible amounts of new genetic data – information – were gained over time. In other words, at some point in the past, a one-celled organism must have become or given birth to a two-celled organism; a single strand of DNA must have become more than one strand of DNA, and that must have become a chromosome, and that must have become more than one chromosome. You don’t get humans – or even fruit flies – from amino acids without adding enormous amounts of genetic information.

    But by any currently observable mechanism, an organism descended from another organism either has the same amount of genetic data – the same amount of DNA – as the parent, or it has less genetic data – it has lost something. I have never heard of anyone demonstrating, by scientific experiment, that any descendant organism can have more DNA, more genetic data, than the parent organism. And yet if the theory of evolution is true, some currently occurring process must allow (eventually, over time) for the creation of large amounts of new genetic information.

    I realize I still haven’t given a definition of information. Here’s how the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it: “the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA . . .) that produce specific effects.” I’m not sure how much that helps the discussion – it seems to me the definition of genetic information is fairly well established, but if you want a formal definition, there you have it.

    As for mutations, I don’t think most scientists would agree with you that “every mutation is a gain in information.” Merriam-Webster gives this definition of mutation: “A relatively permanent change in hereditary material involving either a physical change in chromosome relations or a biochemical change in the codons that make up genes.” The more common definition of mutation is “copying mistakes” – when the DNA sequence somehow gets screwed up. In almost every case, mutations involve either a confusion of or loss of existing information. They rarely involve an increase in the actual number of genes, and even when they do, the mistake almost always has a negative effect on the organism. That’s why, as you say above, a fruit fly will always be a fruit fly – it does not have any genetic information to be anything BUT a fruit fly, and any mutations will only serve to reduce the genetic information available to it. That’s also why I’m not surprised when a daughter generation (primrose, fruit fly, etc.) loses the ability to interbreed with a parent – that is perfectly feasible given a loss of information.

    Incidentally, research done on the HIV virus shows that it occurs in astronomical numbers, and that its mutation rate is 10,000 times greater than that of most other organisms. In a recent interview, a prominent biochemist says that, “In just the past few decades HIV has actually undergone more of certain kinds of mutations than all cells have endured since the beginning of the world. Yet all those mutations, while medically important, have changed the functioning virus very little. It still has the same number of genes that work in the same way.” If the mechanism you propose to have produced the biological world around us can do that little, even under the best possible circumstances, how on earth can it have produced the complex life we see today?

    You go on to say that, “Transitional forms are those which have distinctive trait patterns which show them to belong to a particular larger group, but also have trait patterns which are distinctive of a smaller descendant group.” OK. But if the smaller descendant group is actually going to be a different kind of organism, and if the mutations are indeed small and take place over a long period of time, there must be fossil evidence of the transition. If you’re going to argue that birds are descended from dinosaurs, you must be able to show transitional forms – dinosaurs with bird-like traits (scales in the process of developing into feathers, for example, or bones that are hollow or becoming so). Not only do should you be able to suggest mechanisms by which those changes might have happened; but if the theory of evolution is indeed true, you should be able to find examples in the fossil record. (And please, don’t give me Archaeopteryx as an example – Dr. Alan Feduccia, evolutionist and expert on birds at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has stated clearly: “Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it’s not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.”) So where are the transitional forms, with traits of dinosaurs and traits of birds? That’s the kind of transitional forms I’d like to see – and the kind that so far have apparently never been unearthed. Again, I’m not looking for “half bird, half dinosaur” – let me repeat, I am NOT looking for half and half – I understand that those are contrary to the theory of evolution – but if the transition really took place, there should be fossil evidence of transitional forms of scales, and bones, and pectoral muscles, and so on. (Oh, and a question – would you say, then, that birds are actually ALL dinosaur? That seems an unusual way to put it, and one I’ve not seen in evolutionary literature.)

    You say, “No other group of creatures on the planet, for instance, has the sorts of teeth and particular patterns on the teeth that apes have.” In that case, though, your argument becomes self-defeating, because if no other group of creatures on the planet has the sorts of teeth and patterns on the teeth that apes have, then where did the apes come from? How did they get those sorts of teeth? What kind of teeth did apes’ ancestors have, and do we have fossil evidence of the transition between the ancestors’ teeth and the apes’ teeth?

    I’m willing to grant you that if the theory of evolution is true, then men are apes, and we wouldn’t find half-man, half-apes. However, given that men are a distinct KIND of ape, with certain traits that distinguish them from all the other kinds of apes, I would still expect to find transitional forms in the fossil record between the original ape (or ape-like) ancestor and modern man. Is my argument flawed here?

    Over and over, it seems, evolutionary scientists are forced to admit that they have no idea how a given structure developed; it suddenly shows up in the fossil record, just as it is today. Even such a prominent evolutionist as Stephen Jay Gould has said, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.” Again, I’m not looking for chimeras – half one thing, half another – but fossil evidence of steps in the process from one major category to another – from single-celled to multi-celled, or from invertebrates to vertebrates, for example. If such a process occurred, there ought to be evidence. But as I re-read your post, it sounds like you’re arguing that the idea of common descent means somehow there would be no transitional forms – at least none that would be recognizable as transitional forms. Is that what you’re saying? And if so, how is that possible?

    One last response. “You say that evidence keeps arising to contradict scientists … but does it? You can claim that, but what if those claims are actually without merit, or based on a lack of understanding, or even a willful misrepresentation of the evidence by creationists?”

    First, I don’t say that “evidence keeps arising to contradict scientists.” I don’t disagree with scientists in general. I don’t even disagree with evolutionary scientists when they discuss what they themselves have observed and tested. In fact what I said was that evidence keeps arising to contradict the theories of the evolutionary scientists who are trying to resolve the problems that arise when trying to explain the development of the universe based exclusively on ordinary everyday processes. But yes, I believe evidence does keep arising to contradict these evolutionary scientists. So far our discussion has been limited to only certain aspects of biology, and so far I have not yet heard any hard evidence to show that the minor genetic changes everyone agrees occur within a given kind of animal lead to the kinds of major genetic changes evolution demands.

    And there are many other issues that bring evolution into serious question, from criticisms of the Big Bang theory (even from evolutionists), to chemical hurdles in creating a living cell from nonliving matter even when strictly controlled by human intelligence, to major errors in radiometric dating on rocks of known ages, to polonium radiohaloes, to the saline content of the ocean, to the amount of helium in the atmosphere, and many more. I don’t think this is the forum in which to discuss these, and none of them is my area of expertise anyway, so I will not get into them here.

    I have a feeling we are drawing to the end of this discussion. For one thing, I simply don’t have the time or the energy at this point in my life for the kind of thought and study this topic requires on a sustained basis. (I do have a life, you know?) :) I will try to answer a couple of others who have asked serious questions (tomorrow!), but I don’t expect to be able to give this kind of long, drawn-out response again.

    Thanks again for all the thoughts.

  • http://cragar.wordpress.com cragar

    ES, if you come back here a good site is http://www.de-conversion.com, assuming you haven't found it already.

  • Karen

    bad:

    "still struggle to understand how anyone finds that implausible, given an understanding of genetics and basic population biology."

    And there's your basic problem. People who find evolution implausible simply do not have a good understanding of science in general, or the scientific method, let alone the finer points of genetics and biology. I was a creationist when I was a Christian and I can tell you, they are reading creationist materials and adopting creationist arguments (often simply cutting and pasting) rather than doing the research for themselves, listening to science lectures, taking courses and going to museums to see transitional fossils first hand. They are blinded by ideology, rather than informed by discovery and information.

    When I started objectively informing myself about science, my creationist arguments fell apart very quickly.

    LPalm:

    "Why would anyone even think that (who at one time they ‘believed’ to be) their creator and Heavenly Father could possibly strike them down dead for doing exactly what he created them to do?"

    Errrrmmmm … the part about the lightening was an attempt at lightheartedness and humor in explaining what was really a difficult and long journey. I would have thought that was rather obvious, but I guess not. ;-) John seems to have a finely tuned sense of humor, so I'm going to guess that he got that I wasn't literally expecting god to strike me dead for questioning his existence.

  • L Palm

    John…help…we're..drowning…in…excursive…evolutionary…speak

    Take back your blog, I beg of you (you must have enough word count to publish the driest text book on evolution conceivable)

    Plus I miss my daily laugh…and everybody knows logic and humor are poor bedfellows (aren't you just dying to make us chuckle)

    love ya man, get back to work

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    “I agree with you that the descendants of fruit flies will always be fruit flies – but so far as I can see that contradicts evolution rather than supporting it.”

    Well, then that’s a pretty significant problem in your understanding of what evolution is saying.

    “Sure, you can argue that we are “still apes, still mammals, still eukaryotes.” But if the theory of evolution is true, then at some point in time, a eukaryote had to be a descendant of a single-celled organism.”

    Eukayrotes can be single celled organisms, and the first ones to appear on earth almost certainly were.

    “At the point when it became a eukaryote, it ceased to be whatever it had been before, since by their very definition eukaryote has more than one cell.”

    Well, first of all, That’s not the case. Second of all: things in evolution never “cease to be” what its ancestors were.

    The core organizational structure of life on earth is nested clades: that is, branching groups within groups. Every trait pattern of lifeforms on earth over time matches this very distinct pattern, and it is a pattern distinctive of ancestral relationships. But the upshot is that all of something’s descendants will always still be more like their ancestor than anything else on earth, and thus be rightly classified by that ancestry.

    “If mammals descended from reptiles, then at some point the first mammal ceased to be a reptile and became a mammal.”

    The problem you re having here is that terms like “fish” and “reptile” are largely modern words for modern animals: when used to describe taxonomic groups, they are actually paraphyletic. That can be confusing, which is why it makes sense to stick to taxonomic descriptions instead of layperson words.

    I’ll explain more when I get back from work today.

    I should note first before I go that science is not done by quotations: collecting a bunch of quotes that sound like they support your position is no way to try and understand a subject. Worse, creationists are also legendary for grossly quoting things out of context or having no idea what relevance or scope a certain claim has.

    “I would still expect to find transitional forms in the fossil record between the original ape (or ape-like) ancestor and modern man. Is my argument flawed here?”

    The problem is that they are all there, and you simply refuse to see them. Or you ignore what’s there and demand to see the links between THOSE particular forms, missing the big picture of the pattern they all fit into.

    I mean, you simply cannot honestly look at the history of hominid fossils over time and NOT see transitional changes. No, we do not have every single fossil, every single step. But there’s no reason to believe that every such fossil is preserved. What we have is a sort of quasi-random sampling, and when you put together everything we do have, it is more than enough to establish what is going on. All of it fits that nested clade pattern, and we see stady modification between some traits and others in ancestral lines all over the place! This is exactly what transitional forms are: legs forming from lobed fins, digits forming, skeletal structures adapting over time for upright postures, and so forth. No amount of uncredible claims about rickets can possibly handwave this stuff away.

    The same goes for, say, birds and dinos (and yes, I would say that birds are the last of the dinosaurs, but again, dinosaur isn’t a well-defined scientific term). You can deny all you want that there are no transitional forms, or that archy isn’t one. But the fact is, fossils like archy have traits that are unique to dinosaurs AND to modern birds. No amount of handwaving or trying to change the subject changes that or what it implies. All the sorts of things you ask for: rebalancing of skeletal structures, transitional steps in between one thing and another are all right there staring us in the face. Creationists can try to fool you with comforting random quotes, but it doesn’t make anything go away.

    More fossils found are always great, but not necessary. And, in fact, fossil evidence (which creationists seem to obsess most about) isn’t really even the most importantly or compelling. We’re lucky to have such a rich fossil record that conforms, in every way possible, to the evolutionary picture. But if fossilization never happened, we’d still be able to show what had occurred.

    “I simply don’t have the time or the energy at this point in my life for the kind of thought and study this topic requires on a sustained basis.”

    Then how can you assume that you have good grounds to judge anything? All of this stuff depends very crucially on understanding the evidence, and it’s not simple stuff: it’s complicated. It’s not beyond anyone, but it does take time and work to understand all the relevant science and how the evidence fits. If you don’t have time for it, then making claims about evidence contradicting science isn’t very fair. How can you know?

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com/ Bad

    In the hopes that my previous comment will someday be readable, I’ll continue explaining a bit.

    Words like fish and reptile basically have ambiguous and confused usages for the purpose of biology, and these sorts of words developed prior to good taxonomy and knowledge of evolution. They really only make sense in the present, referring to groups of creatures that are distinctive from each other today. When applied to ancient species, they often become inapt.

    Take fish, for example. There is no coherent taxonomic group that equates to “fish.” The smallest group that contains all the different things we today call fish (and even then leaving out real outliers) are the vertebrates. However, we humans, as well as all mammals, birds, reptiles, and so on, are all also vertebrates. Our skeletal structures are all just modifications to the same basic vertebrate template.

    Forget common descent for a second: even without it, you are left with quite a problem if you want to create objectively defined groups wherein you define “fish” in such a way that it includes all the things we call fish, but also excludes land animals. You can’t do it: not systematically anyway (of course, you can make up some sloppy definitions about slimy bullet shaped things in the sea, but none of that seriosuly looks at the underlying morphology and gauges the real differences and similarities: you could do the same with “warm blooded flying things, and end up putting bats and birds in the same group, just as sloppily).

    Long before evolution, for instance, taxonomists (who were all creationists back then, by the way) faced this problem. This is why even they put human beings in with the great apes (remember, still, as creationists and believers, with no hint of evolution or the idea of common descent): there just wasn’t a way to biologically define what an “ape” was that didn’t also describe human beings. And to be sure sure, human beings are different from other apes. But then, gibbons are different from gorillas: they are all subvariations of a basic basal “ape,” which itself is just a subvariation of a basic primate, which is just a subvariation of a… and so on.

    Genetics tells the exact same story. The very same logic that is used in paternity tests for human beings can be applied to different species, and by seeing the amount of differences and similarities, you can build a family tree in exactly the same way. Amazingly, that family tree matches the exact same one we get from looking at morphology (both modern and fossil). And more than that, this technique is generally looking at neutral mutational variations in the genes (i.e. changes to DNA that still code for the same protein, or proteins that are functionally identical): there is no REASON why they should build a family tree of nested clades, let alone this particular family tree. But they do. When we look at, say, chickens, their closest non-bird relatives genetically are crocodiles. Birds, however, have a special tissue layer in their bones that no other non-birds have, including crocs. And yet, when we examine T-rex fossils, we find this layer was in their bones as well: they had it, and now birds, which other evidence suggests are their last living descendants have it. Why, if not for ancestry? Why is this same pattern seen everywhere, over and over, in every respect? Can creationists explain such things in a systematic way? I’ve never seen it.

    All these different lines of evidence, converging…

    I don’t understand how anyone can miss the transitions here. When you line up all the fossils we have in any group over time, there are very very obvious transitions there. No, not every single feature is represented in every single step, because the fossil record is simply a very tiny, quasi-random sample of past life. But that’s entirely irrelevant: the overall changes and progressions are very clear. And the pattern of descent with modification is universal. In other words, everything we have is consistent with evolution via common descent. Complaining about gaps in the record misses the point entirely: we have no expecation of a complete fossil record, and any new fossil discovery that fills in a gap just creates two more gaps for creationists to complain about in any case.

    As for information, you still haven’t defined what you mean by it. I’m not trying to be difficult: defining information in biology is very difficult and ambiguous. But it’s important for getting a grasp on why geneticists and biologists don’t find the information objection very credible.

    In human beings, a minor mutation in a man who lived about a century and a half ago granted his descendants immunity to the bad effects of LDH cholesterol, which is a common problem in modern diets. As a result, his (now many) descendants, most of them still living in the same village in Italy, have a greatly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke compared to other people who eat the same diets. Isn’t this an increase in information, in any sense of the word? And this is just one example from just human beings, just recently, discovered via genetic study. Most mutational changes aren’t as dramatic. A slightly shorter leg, a slightly longer arm, a joint shifted by a degree, and so on: all just natural variation that crops up in any population, but then screened through by the environment.

    So, yes, over time, the early tetrapods (four legged land animals) diversified into reptiles and mammals (and modern amphibians). And in doing so, their genomes became different, and different in functionally relevant ways to their increasingly different lifestyle. I leave it up to you to figure out whether that implies an increase in information or not, but it happened, and it happened by changes to genes, which are mathematically inevitable based on the observed rates of mutation and population genetics.

    None of it involved anything becoming radically different from its parents, or something that its parents were not: the changes were variations on a theme, not rejections of the past. Even radical changes in body shape or lifestyle, like land animals back into the sea as whales and dolphins, still bear all the hallmarks of their past: mammalian features and body structures, modified for the ocean. All the tell-tale features of this ancestry are there: even back legs, which appear in the embryo stage before being re-absorbed (a process which sometimes fails to fully complete, leaving whales with silly little back legs!)

    Most of evolution is different populations drifting apart over time, away from each other until the usually unheralded point where genomes or lifestyle no longer matched up enough for reproduction to be possible. Hence, new species.

    I still struggle to understand how anyone finds that implausible, given an understanding of genetics and basic population biology.

  • evanescent

    Bad, I think it’s brilliant that you took that much time and effort to explain taxonomy and evolution to everyone hear. It was a brilliant comment and so well-written. I sincerely hope that everyone here, especially the theists who don’t understand evolution, will take it in and understand it.

    Kudos.

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  • Hound Doggy

    Hey….thanks for the reasonable post.

    I’m an athiest….but you couldn’t tell by looking at me. (I file down my horns).

    Can’t we just all get along.

    For all of the Christians out there worried about my salvation…..you don’t need to….I’ll deal with whatever comes my way. You don’t have to spend any time on me. You don’t have to pray for me or cry for me or throw your books at me. Spend your time with your families and friends and like it was said so eloquently in the post ” They would much prefer it if we would quit wanting that, and leave them be. ”

    Thanks again John

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  • Hambydammit

    If more people were like you, I doubt that I'd have to spend twenty or more hours a week volunteering to help keep the church and state separate. What a wonderful world it would be if we could live our lives in peace, and you could live yours in peace, and maybe we could play cards every once in a while, or have a cookout.

    You seem like a thoughtful, respectful, moral person, John. You'd have made a good atheist. (Sorry… couldn't resist….)

    Seriously. Great piece, and very astute observations. You, sir, are one Christian I'm quite happy to share the world with. Believe me, I wish I could say those words more often. I really, really wish that.

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    I very much appreciate this call to understanding. I am an atheist and I have certainly felt toward Christians the way that John describes (e.g., lobbing Bibles around).

    I had only one point to make. I think it was more fair to say that atheists cannot imagine that there is a God than that atheists cannot imagine why anyone would want to believe in one. On the contrary, I cannot even understand what it means for there to be a God, except perhaps insofar as “God” is just nature, as described by Spinoza. I think that “God” is a very confused term, except where people have merely stipulated a definition for what they personally mean by “God.”

  • Ben

    John, any chance of getting an answer to comment 57 ?

    Thanks,

    Ben

  • http://smjpoems.wordpress.com samanthamj

    Another great post. Thanks John. As and agnostic/atheist – I appreciate your comments and am glad to have found this re-freshing blog.

    Thanks, Man. =)

    ~smj

  • Patricia

    A lot of Christian’s believe in both God and evolution. He created the world, and the vehicle he used was evolution. After all the bible does say we were made from DIRT; and nothing describes the big bang like the Genesis story. Pretty accurate description of our current scientific understanding for a book written 4,000 years ago.

    I say this even though no one should forget that the bible is not a supposed to be science textbook.

    Science is great; after all it sheds light on His wondrous processes.

  • Patricia

    Comment on comment 57

    Most Christians do not believe that judgment and hell are a simplistic proposition (Christian heaven/not Christian hell). God is fair, and judges people according to their individual context. It is possible that one person’s honest disbelief is more pleasing to God than another person’s cynical Christianity.

    There is a lot of biblical support that that says someone who does believe is saved. I don’t know of any bible passage that clearly addresses the fate of non-believers. (Those that are bad to the poor, however, should definitely watch out). There is also a lot of thought among Christians that Hell is not a physical place of eternal torture but rather a (spiritual) place that is simply not in the presence of God.

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  • Tony Wichowski

    FINALLY!! Some Christianist admits to having an agenda! I tell you, I fear for my safety in this country every day, as politicains bend over backward to incorporate jesus into the national dialog. There is no homosexual agenda, but there is a Christianist one. Thank you for your honesty.

    Oh, and I tried dating a Christian and couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t get over the basic belief system – it’s so crazy. I mean, if someone (in a world not indoctrinated with Jesus-talk) walked into a psychiatrists office and said, “I believe the world was made in six days and man is man because a talking snake” and on and on – they’d get a BIG dose of happy drugs at best, or locked up.

    It’s like they live in fantasy land, and need the rest of us to go along in order to bolster their faith. no thanks.

  • ScottM

    “Listen, Christians: I hate to be the one to say it, but can we all just admit that all the good music is coming from the other side of the fence?”

    As an atheist, I can only say; Are you &%^$in’ KIDDING?

    How about “Amazing Grace”? “How Great Thou Art”? “All Creatures of Our God and King”? “Gaudete”? “Adeste Fideles”? Not to mention the entire collected works of Bach.

    You guys have *much* better music than us. As far as I know, atheist music consists of pseudo-folk Marxist rubbish like “Pie in the Sky” (and even that one has to steal a Christian tune!).

    http://www.fortunecity.com/tinpan/parton/2/pie.html

    I mean there’s a lot of great *secular* music, but I can’t think of *any* great atheist music.

  • Kelley

    Wow! What a blog! I believe that may be the first thing in quite sometime that a christian has written that I agree with. THAT'S the love Christ was talking about. He doesn't want feel good church, nor does he want straight condemnation.

    Kudos to you for your eloquence and open mind! I wish there were more christians like you in the world. If there were us Christians might actually have an impact on the world the way Christ wanted.

  • whatever

    Its so sad how people can revolve their lives around God. In the past we had gods for everything we couldn't explain. Wind, rain, droughts, etc. As we found out how rain falls and why droughts actually happen we took away those gods and turned it into science. Now how did people come to existence? We aren't sure, so what do we do? Throw another God in the situation. Also, if there is a God why do we all believe in different ones. Why donut the Muslims have the same beliefs as Christians. As an "atheist", I don't understand why God would want to create life just so you can revolve it around him and a book. Yes, it is a great idea to have people follow these laws and morals. But, just because youre not chrisitan doesnt mean you dont follow them. And if god is so "forgiving" then when we reach those "golden gates" wont he welcome us with open arms. If there is a God, the Christians in our atheist lives would go to hell due to the fact they failed to teach us. I grew up in a Christian home going to church, but when something in my life happened it opened my eyes. I dont need to rely on some supreme being to help me lead a happy life. Science is the answer, go read a real book based on facts and not a book based on stories and fantasy.

  • Rickr0ll

    it’s a real shame John, but i posted this very page onto Morsecode’s Godless Bible Study becayse frankly, there were a couple of obnoixious scripture quoting individuals, so i thought this would be a poigniant thing to put on there. I am sad to say that it utterly failed, as Compass1130 still insists on “throwing the Bible over the fence.” i guess we can’t all be as sane as you John

    Oh and i think that you greatly overestimate secular music. i think that gospel music is very nice actually, and all classical music is christian i beleive (i am no expert on it though). Not that i don’t like Disturbed alot better than any Christian group, i still think there are moments… If you are talking about popular music, the point still stands, and that is because they are trying to “unsecularize” the music, as it were. There was a preacher at my H.S. (yes, i went to a christian private school, though i didn’t bother transfering for some unfathomable reason), and he talk about the three ways to deal with the secular society at large. Mimicry, antagonism, and… um, well i can’t remember, though i distincly knowe that both of those were wrong aswers as it turns out. You grasped the feel of that third attitude, the correct, reasonable, and respectably christian one. It was a lack of people like you that turned me off to organized religion after all.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Rachel: That's a really nice testimony. Thanks for it.

  • http://gravityisbliss.googlepages.com Rachel Rev

    I am an ordained Christian minister and my covenanted life partner is an atheist who finds connection and community within a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We met online when I searched for “very liberal, vegetarians with at least a master’s degree” (not that education per se was the criteria, rather it was intellectual curiosity, of which education is often an indicator). I intentionally did not include faith within my search because sadly, I found that most people who profess my faith do not share my values: justice, peace, service, community, care for others, care for earth, etc. So my narrow search brought up this very open, passionate activist/academic who professes no faith. And what we have learned is that his doubt actually looks a lot like my faith.

  • http://christianranter.wordpress.com Des

    Dirty little secret time. I belong to a Christian faith (ok Seventh day Adventist) where many members believe that Sunday keeping Christians are going to end up with the same fate as Atheists. My wife wrote a great article one time for the church newsletter entitled “You could learn a lot from a…” where she describes what she’s gained from relationships with those Sunday folks. As you can imagine, some members liked it, some didn’t. All I can say is that I’m really glad God is the final judge of humankind; Atheists, Sunday keepers and me. Now to enjoy the rest of my Sabbath…

  • Nick Gotts

    "Please take note, evolution is the theory de rigueur but only a theory" – Ross

    This statement reveals a profound ignorance of science. "Theory" in a scientific context does not mean "guess". It means "coherent explanation of a body of observed facts."

    "You bring up the fossil record, but I don’t know why as it is an embarrassment to the evolutionist point of view for when we look to it we see NO transitional forms. Darwin knew this and said they just hadn’t been found yet, but give it time and they would be. Well, it’s 2007 and it/they haven’t. By the way not only should we be able to find on missing link, they should be everywhere in the fossil record." – Ross

    And indeed, so they are. You can easily research this for yourself (but I'm sure you won't) – for example, look at the extraordinary sequence of fossils intermediate between fish and early amphibians. There are similar sequences for the evolution of mammals from reptiles, the evolution of whales from land-living ancestors, the evolution of humans from early hominids, and many, many more.

    "Also, where are all the fossils of various creatures in intermediatory states of evolution. Where is the the half fish half horse creature for if evolution is the reason for all living things these hybrid creatures should be everywhere." – Ross

    A "half fish half horse" would immediately disprove evolution.

  • Nick Gotts

    "I agree 100% that the Bible describes the creation of a single human species. But I have never seen a single shred of evidence that supports the idea that Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal are any species other than Homo Sapiens, modern man." – Marcy Muser

    So, how about Homo erectus? Homo habilis? The various Australopithecus species? Orrorin tugenensis We have a nice set of examples, all the way between modern humans and what is, effectively, a bipedal chimpanzee (and at that, Orrorin also appears to have been a tree-climber, so was not an obligatory biped). Which of these were descended from Adam and Eve? By the way, when was this "creation" of which you speak? Adding up the lifetimes of Biblical patriarchs suggests about 6000 years. On the other hand, scientific evidence shows that the Neandertals died out around 25,000 yers ago, recent sequencing of the Neandertal genome suggests modern humans had a common ancestor with them perhaps 300,000 years ago, Orrorin lived around 6 million years ago, the first land animals lived around 400 million years ago, life itself was already flourishing 3 billion years ago, Earth is 4.65 billion years old, and the universe around 13.7 billion years old. to believe in the Genesis fable, you don't just need to junk evolutionary biology (which means, in effect, all biology). Most of physics and astronomy and much of archaeology needs to go to. Not to mention Biblical scholarship, of course: I know of no reputable Biblical scholar who considers Genesis (or indeed, most of the Bible) to be literal truth.

  • Nick Gotts

    "I was intensely aware of what to me was the fact of God." – John Shore

    John, facts are facts, There is no such thing as a fact "to me".

  • Nick Gotts

    "If birds evolved from reptiles, where are the thousands of generations between scales and feathers, or between reptile’s solid bones and bird’s hollow ones?" – Marcy Muser

    I suggest you check out the recent discoveries of partially feathered dinosaurs (birds evolved from dinosaurs) – which their anatomy shows could not fly – the feathers were probably for insulation and/or display; and the far older discovery of Archaeopteryx – a bird with teeth and a bony tail. Many intermediates between major groups are indeed there (see some of the other examples I gave above), and ignoring them won't make them go away.

  • Nick Gotts

    "But by any currently observable mechanism, an organism descended from another organism either has the same amount of genetic data – the same amount of DNA – as the parent, or it has less genetic data – it has lost something." – Marcy Muser

    This is absolutely and unequivocally false. See my earlier comment about gene duplication and polyploidy.

  • Nick Gotts

    "fossil evidence of steps in the process from one major category to another – from single-celled to multi-celled, or from invertebrates to vertebrates, for example." – Marcy Muser

    In the first cae, we have living examples, such as sponges and various groups of algae. Between invertebrates and vertebrates, the fossil Pikaia is a fine intermediate. We also have, again, lots of living animals which have some of the features we think of as typical of vertebrates, but not all – look up tunicates, hagfish, lampreys for example.

  • Nick Gotts

    "And there are many other issues that bring evolution into serious question, from criticisms of the Big Bang theory (even from evolutionists), to chemical hurdles in creating a living cell from nonliving matter even when strictly controlled by human intelligence" – Marcy Muser

    Neither of these has anything to do with the theory of evolution in the usual sense, which is about how life diversifies and changes once in existence. There is, however, fascinating work on abiogenesis going on – google "Shostak" for example. My hunch is that living cells will indeed be created in the laboratory within the next few decades. However, I know very well that creationists will then shift the goalposts – indeed, I predict that they will try to argue that this is evidence for creationism (because the lab procedure required intelligence), despite having insisted up to that point that the fact scientists have not created living cells is evidence for creationism.

  • Nick Gotts

    "So where are the transitional forms, with traits of dinosaurs and traits of birds?" – Marcy Muser

    See my earlier comment, on Archaeopteryx, and on recent discoveries of flightless feathered dinosaurs.

  • Nick Gotts

    "Furthermore, neither theory can be proved or disproved logically and/or evidently. That means strict atheists should also have to take a leap of faith to believe in something that can’t be reached with logical reasoning." – Blizzinho

    No, they don't. One can accept a theory or assumption provisionally, because it is currently the best supported by evidence and argument, but be ready to abandon it if new evidence comes to light. That is the scientific attitude (and one that theistic scientists, if they are any good, follow in their scientific work); but it is emphatically not the attitude most theists take toward their religious beliefs. Rather, many of them boast about how certain they are, and how they will never change these beliefs whatever happens. That's faith.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Nick: You've said a lot of interesting and compelling things here. I've blocked you from the site, though, because once you say things like, "What a fantastically stupid thing to say," "Are you sure you understand English?" and, "Again, you reveal your profound ignorance" (all statements I've deleted from your comments) you show yourself to be someone too vitriolic for me to have to put up with.

  • Nick Gotts

    “The thing about hell and it being eternal is that we have no comprehension of how horrible sin is to God. If you were to see the way God did, you would praise Him for hell.” – Ross

    That is utterly disgusting. You choose to worship a being who (you believe) will torture people for ever. That being, if it existed, would be evil far beyond anything human beings are capable of.

  • Nick Gotts

    “He will not force them to serve Him – that’s not the kind of God He is.” – Marcy Muser

    Right. He’ll just torture them for ever if they don’t. Sick.

  • Nick Gotts

    “As I’ve grown in my faith and been changed by it, therefore becoming more Christlike (I hope) I see things in people including loved ones that isn’t good and that previously when I didn’t believe I never noticed. With some it’s stuborness with others it’s ungraitfulness for some it might be dishonesty here and there or any other such thing that to most people wouldn’t be considered anything at all yet I see it as sin and to be quite frank, serious. I want to make it clear this doesn’t mean I’ve become more judgmental in any way,” – Ross

    But quite clearly, you have.

  • Nick Gotts

    “It would be much more convincing if scientists could produce substantive proof of animals that had developed an extra chromosome, for example, and had benefited by that in terms of survival of the fittest.” – Marcy Muser

    Google “gene duplication”. This is an important process in evolution. You might also google “autopolyploidy” and “allopolyploidy”, although these appear to be important only in plant evolution. As is usual with creationists, you are simply exposing your abysmal ignorance of science in general, and evolutionary theory in particular.

  • http://inkstainedpaws.blogspot.com casey

    trust you john, when bringing up debates here, you get religion, not so much religion, and science all involved. I think you do it on purpose. I think you delibertly try to find subjects that every one can argue about. Not just from religions stand point. But- I'm sure you knew that you were doing that. lol

  • Nick Gotts

    By the way, Marcy, Stephen Jay Gould, in his comments about transitional forms, was I think talking about inter-species transitions (he argued that such transitions are typically too rapid to show up in the fossil record; subsequent work indicates that they do in fact sometimes do so). If he was talking about transitions between larger groups he was, despite his eminence, simply wrong – as the examples I’ve listed show.


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