Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jesus Is Sauron!

I knew it!


Click Here, about one third the way down the page.

56 comments:

Grace said...

Robert,

Bruce used to say that sometimes he had "fundamentalist dreams," about going to Hell. Is there part of you that is genuinely concerned about Hell?

My husband is a Christian universalist. He believes that while all salvation, so to speak, is in Christ, that God will in His own time redeem the entire earth. Everyone becomes the elect.

We were lying in bed this morning trying to understand the fixation with Hell. I told him about the tape recorder of this person supposing he has recorded the voices of the dammed while drilling in the earth.

We both came to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter to us if there is an afterlife at all in terms of loving (trusting) God. We want to know, and follow Jesus Christ, and care for people no matter what.

How did you feel about all this stuff while you were still a Christian? Both of us are curious to know.

GCT said...

"We both came to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter to us if there is an afterlife at all in terms of loving (trusting) God."

Really? You don't care if god is torturing people for eternity?

Grace said...

GCT, I didn't mean my comment in this way.

What I'm trying to get across is that there seems to be so much emphasis in trusting, and following God based in rewards or not after we die. I'm thinking it's the wrong emphasis.

People should be coming to God based in love, and truth, also thinking about the difference we can make in the here, and now together.

I'm not at all dissing the "hope of the resurrection." That's pretty powerful stuff too in the face of death, but, for me, it's more like icing on the cake.

Can you understand, GCT? What do you think?

Be back later. Going to work off my Border Collie's energy running up the mountain. :)

ethinethin said...

I told him about the tape recorder of this person supposing he has recorded the voices of the dammed while drilling in the earth.

Hoax (obviously), btw.

GCT said...

Grace,
"What I'm trying to get across is that there seems to be so much emphasis in trusting, and following God based in rewards or not after we die. I'm thinking it's the wrong emphasis."

I don't even know why it is that anyone thinks we should believe in god, let alone "trusting, and following god," whether there are rewards or not.

Now, if you are talking about morality, then yeah, we should do what is right simply because it is right, regardless of god. This is quite separate from the question of "loving" god, however.

I do have to ask, why would anyone "love" a god that is a self-confessed mass murderer (genocide anyone)?

"Can you understand, GCT? What do you think?"

I think you are trying to make a case against belief based on Pascal's Wager - that we should believe simply because we want the reward that comes from it. I think it's sensible, because it doesn't really work as a good reason. I don't, however, know what other reason you would have. I also know that this puts you at odds with quite a few theologians that claim that we need to have the fear of hell and the ability to attain heaven in order to behave.

"Be back later. Going to work off my Border Collie's energy running up the mountain. :)"

I can relate. My Border Collie has two settings: on and super on.

Robert Madewell said...

Grace, are you talking about the Well to Hell?

Grace, I don't think I even consider that a possibility, anymore. I believe that everybody probably gets the same afterlife. Nothing.

My fascination is with the contradiction of hell vs. a just God. I am truly disgusted by fundamentalists who use Hell to scare people into conformity and I will point this out everywhere I see the threat of hell being used.

Lorena said...

Yes, Robert. We humans tend to believe that nothing justifies burning a person alive. But many believe that God can do that and still be qualified as loving and good.

It is a case of double standards, I think.

Grace said...

I understand, Robert.

Do you think it was your experience with the fundamentalists that helped influence you toward atheism?

Grace said...

GCT,

Borders are tireless! (LOL) I'm dragging myself home, collapsed on the sofa with an iced tea, and Chase has the fisbee in his mouth ready for round two.

They are awesome dogs!! Does your Border do any agility or tracking work?

GCT, have you had an opportunity to study some of the formal theological arguments for the existence of God.

What do you think?

As a Christian, the center of my faith, and conviction of God's love comes out of the what I think is the reality of the incarnation.

So, everything I read in the Scripture is interpreted through this. It's why I think we can trust the justice, and love of God.

Robert Madewell said...

"Do you think it was your experience with the fundamentalists that helped influence you toward atheism?"

Definitely!

Robert Madewell said...

"Yes, Robert. We humans tend to believe that nothing justifies burning a person alive. But many believe that God can do that and still be qualified as loving and good.

It is a case of double standards, I think."


I call it Might Makes Right! IOW, if you a powerful enough, you can enforce your standards on those who are weaker, but you don't have to follow those standards yourself.

The OT God is the best example of Might Makes Right.

GCT said...

Grace,
"Borders are tireless!"

Don't I know it!

"I'm dragging myself home, collapsed on the sofa with an iced tea, and Chase has the fisbee in his mouth ready for round two."

I can relate to that too.

"They are awesome dogs!! Does your Border do any agility or tracking work?"

No, she just plays fetch...all...the...time. We do play hide and seek with her, which can be fun. We can give her a specific toy and then tell her to go away while we hide it. Then, we tell her to find it and she'll search for that toy until she finds it.

"GCT, have you had an opportunity to study some of the formal theological arguments for the existence of God.

What do you think?"

I have. Do you have any in mind? I've not found any of them compelling.

"As a Christian, the center of my faith, and conviction of God's love comes out of the what I think is the reality of the incarnation.

So, everything I read in the Scripture is interpreted through this. It's why I think we can trust the justice, and love of God."

The problem I have with this is that it's putting the cart before the horse. You're essentially saying that you believe god is good/love, so therefore you're allowing that to color any interpretations you may have. So, what do you do when you read sections of the Bible where god is not doing something moral or good? You're forced to try to explain it away, and there's really no good way to do that that I've ever heard.

Grace said...

Robert,

I've noticed this, too. It seems to me that almost every person I've ever talked with who has the most serious problems with the Christian faith comes from some kind of fundamentalist background.

I can't think this is an accident.

What do you feel it is about fundamentalism that tends to help lead some people toward atheism? What is it that you've struggled with the most, if it's ok to ask?

Grace said...

GCT,

For me, it's not so much that I would simply explain these parts of Scripture away..It's just that the center of my faith is not rooted in a book.

Don't get me wrong, I think Scripture is an authority for the faith, and practice of the church. But, it doesn't stand alone apart from Christian tradition, or reason..

And, I'm not feeling that all parts of Scripture should be interpreted literally, or of equal value to Christians today. It depends on the context.

When I come to portions of Scripture that I struggle with such as the destruction of the ancient Caanaanites, I try to understand all this in light of the incarnation, as well as the culture, and understanding of the time..Those kind of things.

Sometimes, I simply have to admit that I don't know, or I can't completely understand. And, because, I'm so firmly convinced of God's love in Christ, and His working, and grace in my own life, I"m ok with that.

And, while I also very much value human reason, I also think that reason is fallen, and finite. I don't feel that by reason alone, we can know or come to God.

GCT, I do know of some arguments for the reality of God that I find personally compelling. Although, I think none of them can stand alone, and none are foolproof.

Any way we cut it, there's going to be an element of faith in anyone's position, on either side of the discussion... My opinion anyway.

My son is flying to another state, and will be out of the country for sometime. So, the next couple of days are going to be super busy getting ready, and heading to the airport.

But, I hope to check back in here Sat. night or Sun., to pick up this discussion, if you guys are still interested.

I would very much like to talk more about all this, and hear your thinking.

ethinethin said...

Any way we cut it, there's going to be an element of faith in anyone's position, on either side of the discussion... My opinion anyway.

I don't particularly think this is true. Do you need faith to not believe in, say, hobbits or elves?

It is silly to say it's a faith position to not believe in something. I'm a scientist. Give me cold, hard facts any day of the week.

A 2000 year old book of superstitions isn't compelling enough evidence for me and it doesn't take faith to igore it, especially in light of how much christianity has held back science over the centuries (I'm not just talking about creationism, but look at the tragedy of Galileo).

ethinethin said...

ignore*

GCT said...

Grace,
This question wasn't for me, but...
"What do you feel it is about fundamentalism that tends to help lead some people toward atheism?"

I don't think that it "lead[s] some people toward atheism." I think that the fundamentalist mindset creates a black and white situation that very much works off of dichotomies. Once the god side is shown to be weak, the whole thing ends up being chucked out because it's all tied together into one package that you must accept all of or none of. (IMO)

"Don't get me wrong, I think Scripture is an authority for the faith, and practice of the church. But, it doesn't stand alone apart from Christian tradition, or reason.."

This is a very modern approach to the practice of Xianity. For many years, it was sola scriptura, because technically that is the only conduit that the Xian has to god and god's words. It's only recently that Xians have decided that the scripture might not be all there is, but I'm not sure what else there is for the Xian. Personal experience can most definitely be in error and/or misinterpreted due to bias. And, there's (no offense) no way to use reason to get to faith in god.

"When I come to portions of Scripture that I struggle with such as the destruction of the ancient Caanaanites, I try to understand all this in light of the incarnation, as well as the culture, and understanding of the time..Those kind of things."

The problem with this is that Xianity is supposed to hold to absolute morality. Why would it have been moral at the time but not now to commit genocide?

"Sometimes, I simply have to admit that I don't know, or I can't completely understand. And, because, I'm so firmly convinced of God's love in Christ, and His working, and grace in my own life, I"m ok with that."

Yet, that's painting bulls-eyes around the arrow that's already been shot. IOW, you claim that god is good. When something comes along that shows he is not good, you claim that you don't have the information (knowledge) necessary to convict god of wrong-doing and can't make the determination that he is evil. But, if you can't have that information, then you similarly can't claim to have enough information to say that god is good.

To put it another way, if you have enough knowledge of the world to look at god's actions and claim that some of them are good, then you have enough knowledge to look at the genocides and rapes and murders, etc. and say that those are immoral. If you don't have enough information, then you can't claim that god is good or bad, because you can't know. What you can't do is have it both ways.

"And, while I also very much value human reason, I also think that reason is fallen, and finite. I don't feel that by reason alone, we can know or come to God."

I know of only one way to actually come to knowledge and that is through using reason, logic, and empirical observation. I know of no knowledge that the human race actually possesses that has come through any other method.

"Any way we cut it, there's going to be an element of faith in anyone's position, on either side of the discussion... My opinion anyway."

Most atheism is the rejection of gods based on the grounds that there's not any evidence supporting the position of the theist. In this sense, there is no faith necessary (as ethin points out). My position is literally without faith. This makes it the superior position, rationally speaking.

Lorena said...

GTC,

I quite enjoyed reading you last comment. Very well said.

DagoodS said...

Grace: When I come to portions of Scripture that I struggle with such as the destruction of the ancient Caanaanites, I try to understand all this in light of the incarnation, as well as the culture, and understanding of the time..Those kind of things.
.
Three points to be made:

1) The fact you struggle is indicative you use a source other than the Bible for your morality. By picking-and-choosing what parts cause consternation, one demonstrates they are using a different standard by which to pick and choose.

2) The accounts in the Tanakh are fiction. Certainly there was war, and national confrontations, but nothing on the scale as recorded. (David having an army over 1 million when archeology demonstrates only 50,000 lived at the time? A tribe so vast, it had 32,000 female virgins in addition to all the males, all the mothers, grandmothers, and older sisters?) Which raises the question of historical veracity.

3) If these are allegories—why would your “loving God notion” include them? What point is being made by an allegory of genocide?

GCT said...

Thanks Lorena.

I should clarify something though. I said, "For many years, it was sola scriptura, because technically that is the only conduit that the Xian has to god and god's words," which isn't entirely accurate. Sola scripture was also held as a means of keeping the masses ignorant of the scriptures (since they were kept in Latin only as well) so that the church could maintain control over their spiritual lives.

Robert Madewell said...

"I try to understand all this in light of the incarnation, as well as the culture, and understanding of the time..Those kind of things."

I've heard that apollogetic before concerning Deuteronomy 21:18-21. The problem I have with it is that many christians do veiw the bible as 100% inerrant. That passage is not written in the context of being for those people back then. It's written as the word of God. God is commanding it. Mix literalism with "Thus saith the Lord" and you have a dangerous mixture.

Also, when modern christians can pick and choose what they know to be moral from the bible and throw out what's immoral from it, that proves to me that morality is not absolute. As a matter of fact, Grace, you're statement is an admission of that.

Leo said...

"Sola scripture was also held as a means of keeping the masses ignorant of the scriptures (since they were kept in Latin only as well) so that the church could maintain control over their spiritual lives."

This does not apply to the Monatists, Donatists, or Novations.
The Bible only started being printed exclusively in Latin 300-315 AD. At this same time groups split off who refused any religion in which they were not allowed to read God's word for themselves.

GCT said...

Leo,
"This does not apply to the Monatists, Donatists, or Novations.
The Bible only started being printed exclusively in Latin 300-315 AD. At this same time groups split off who refused any religion in which they were not allowed to read God's word for themselves."

Considering how wrong you were about the Donatists before, I'm skeptical that you have any of this right.

The Bible was not really put together as a whole until the late 300's which is when Latin translations started to appear. Before then, they were written in Greek.

Now, it may very well be right that the Donatists were not about Sola Scriptura, as they seemed to hold to "individual Biblical meditation" as one website puts it. This may have been part of the schism. So what? Or are you going to continue to assert that they became this group then that group and then finally what you are now even though you've offered no support for it and what you have offered has contradicted you on this point?

Leo said...

My point was that there were always "true believers" despite corruption in the church.

Modusoperandi said...

Everybody, to themselves, is a True Christian™ (I have yet to hear of a denomination whose Statement of Faith consists entirely of "We don't know what the Truth is, but we're waaay off".
According to the dictionary, the definition of "True Believer" is "Look in the mirror", while the one for "So-called Christian" is "People that believe something other than what you believe".
This is why Roman Catholics are Protestant's heretics, while to an RC the opposite is true (same with Shia vs Sunni muslim).

Leo said...

This is why it is so important that you study the supposed "contradictions" in the Bible. If they truly existed as contradictions, then yes, two different camps of people could hold two opposite ideas and still consider themselves "true believers." When you study and understand that all of the apparent contradictions can be logically explained, you realize, as I've stated before, that the Bible only holds one position on any particular subject. Anyone who says anything contrary to that position is not a true believer. Anyone who holds to EVERY precept of the Bible is a true believer. It's an easy litmus test.

GCT said...

Leo,
"This is why it is so important that you study the supposed "contradictions" in the Bible. If they truly existed as contradictions, then yes, two different camps of people could hold two opposite ideas and still consider themselves "true believers.""

Ouch. Epic fail. You do realize that this is exactly what happens, don't you?

"When you study and understand that all of the apparent contradictions can be logically explained, you realize, as I've stated before, that the Bible only holds one position on any particular subject."

And, that's just plain wrong, as we've already pointed out to you.

"Anyone who says anything contrary to that position is not a true believer."

And yet, it really comes down to what you believe and how you interpret things. Funny how every Xian thinks as you do - that they have the single correct interpretation and all others are true believers.

"Anyone who holds to EVERY precept of the Bible is a true believer. It's an easy litmus test."

I'm glad that you feel that women are property, it's OK to have and own slaves, etc. You are truly a true believer!

Grace said...

Hi, guys, I'm back. It's been this loo..ng day. My son flew out to Atlanta, and needed to make a transfer at the airport in Philly.

He's never flown before, so needless to say it was an experience. There nothing like trying to find your way around a strange, huge airport in time to make a connection.

I was more stressed out with the thoughts of everything that could go wrong, than him. Yikes!!

I'm totally relieved, that he has made it safe, and sound. :) Whew!! And, thank God.

Now to the issue at hand.

I really don't have extremely strong views one way or the other relating to the inerrancy of the Scripture because my faith isn't actually centered there. I think this whole inerrancy emphasis is a relatively recent view in the overall history of the entire church, btw.

The center of my morality, Dagood, and Robert, is focused in the teaching, and ethic of Jesus Christ. I think to love God with our whole mind, and our neighbor as ourself really sums it up for me.

So, I suppose the question I would as myself, in the light of the incarnation, in a broken, and fallen world, can the taking of human life ever be justified if this is the only means available to save the lives of the innocent?

Or, I might ask if God is the author of all life, does He have the right also to take that life? And, could this ever be a mercy?

It's with this focus that I would look at some of these passages in the OT relating to God's judgment.

I'm thinking of things like the destruction of Pharoah's armies at the Reed Sea as they pursued the Hebrew people, or something like the destruction of the Cannanites.

I have studied that these people had as their aim the annihilation of the ancient Hebrews, and were extremely wicked in their practices, even sacrificing their own children to Molech by fire.

At any rate, I'm more than willing to admit we don't have all the answers to some of these questions, and moral dilemnas. As Scripture says, "We see through a glass darkly.."

But, because my faith is so rooted in the reality of the incarnation, and what I can know, and see of the love of God in Christ, I"m persuaded for myself of the justice, and mercy of the Lord.

I think I can trust Him even with some of these things that I can't completely know, or understand for now.

In my denomination, we would not see this notion of inerrancy as being an essential tenet of Christian faith. But, as I've shared, would stress more the incarnation, and would look at the Nicene Creed of the church as pretty much containing a basic statement of Christian faith.

Ethinethin, want to respond more to your comment to. You see, I don't think we have any evidence that points in the direction of the existence of mythical creatures like hobbits, or elves.

And, I truly don't know of any intelligent, thinking person who believes that elves, or the tooth fairy is real. :)

But, I don't think this is true for the existence of a creator.

More later. Hope everyone has a good, and restful night. I will. :)

ethinethin said...

You see, I don't think we have any evidence that points in the direction of the existence of mythical creatures like hobbits, or elves.

Nor do we have any objective evidence for the existence of a creator. It is all subjective and differs from person to person.

I have never heard god speak to me, though I know christians and muslims who claim that they have. I can't count their contradictory claims as evidence because it's not repeatable and testable.

With many people, the existence of god is just a feeling or a hope. Even theists are agnostic in this respect, though few will admit it (since many of them don't even know what the word means).

I am agnostic in regard to a divine being because I am "without knowledge" of one. If there was convincing, objective evidence, which I have asked Leo for over and over and which he has been unable to provide, I would almost certainly change my mind.

But in the 10 years since I deconverted from my parents' religion I have yet to find a single fact that points to god, and found many facts that point to a natural, indifferent universe.

I am open to the possibility; I have not "hardened my heart" as theists often accuse.

And if there can be no objective evidence on such a thing, I will never believe, because there's no incentive to believe... and no-one should believe with no incentive to believe, yet they do, often without even realizing why they believe.

I used the phrase "my parents' religion" intentionally. Religion is a cultural thing. In anthropology, the term "culture" is used to denote ideals or traditions passed on from generation to generation. We are all born without language, religion, traditions... those things are taught to us.

If I was born in egypt rather than maryland, I'd have been brought up speaking arabic instead of english. Similarly, I'd have been brought up in islam instead of christianity. These two variations, among other shared learning / cultural things, are consistently different from culture to culture, society to society throughout the known history of mankind.

Maybe there is a holy spirit, or allah is merciful, or odin gave up his eye to drink from the fountain of knowledge, or we are all part of a recycled living matter, bound to our caste in life, or temporarily separated from the infinite dreaming. But without evidence for any of this, what incentive to I have to believe any of it?

Grace said...

Ethinethin,

I think you're right that many times folks simply becoming enculturated into a particular religious/philosophical tradition. It's really a huge problem in the institutional church today, and probably accounts for alot of the spiritual abuses that can be found.

I can tell you this, Ethinethin, I would rather my own children be honest, seeking atheists, than simply to be mindlessly reciting, and parroting a bunch of empty words in church with their hearts actually far from God, and the "good news."

I'll share some reasons with you that I think there is something greater than ourselves in this universe. Well, right now, I probably only have time to share one observation. More later.

Most cosmologists would agree concerning the "big bang," theory of the universe's origin. If this is true, then it must be that the known universe had a beginning at a specific point in time. Would you agree?

If everything that begins to exist must have a cause, and the universe began to exist, then it doesn't seem unreasonable for me to think that what caused the universe might point toward God.

How did matter, and energy come to be? Does it seem reasonable to think that nature created itself?

Then to add force to this argument, Ethinethin, is the observation that the universe seems finely tuned to produce life on this planet.

I've studied that there are six numbers which seem to underlie the fundamental physical properties of the universe, and that each is an exact value required for life to exist. If any one of the six, such as the gravitational constant, or the strong nuclear force were different to even the smallest degree, there would be no stars, no complex elements, no life, Ethinethin. I quoting from astronomer Martin Ree's, "Just Six Numbers."

I've read that the possiblity of all this happening in a purely random way is estimated at one chance in ten to the power of 229.

Apart from a conditioning toward philosophical materialism, naturalism, is it really that far fetched, and irrational to wonder if an intelligent, creative force is behind it all, Ethinethin?

Scripture states that the very heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies show His handiwork.

I think this makes sense. But, what do you think?

ethinethin said...

Hi Grace, had to split this up into multiple posts because I am a bit wordy. Hopefully you read it all.

I can tell you this, Ethinethin, I would rather my own children be honest, seeking atheists, than simply to be mindlessly reciting, and parroting a bunch of empty words in church with their hearts actually far from God, and the "good news."

Well you're certainly an exception. Most christians would be horrified if their children chose "eternal separation from god". I know you have unusual beliefs in this regard. However, I would wager that this is a "real vs ideal" situation. That is, you can say you would be okay if your children were atheists, but you can't know how you'd react until they are.

Sort of like, I can say ideally I don't fear death, but when I get a really bad illness or a cancer scare, it's a lot harder, bordering on impossible, to say I'm not afraid. In a philosophical sense, I am okay with death, but not in a practical sense.

I could be mistaken, of course, perhaps one of your children really is an atheist and you're fine with it.

Most cosmologists would agree concerning the "big bang," theory of the universe's origin. If this is true, then it must be that the known universe had a beginning at a specific point in time. Would you agree?

Not 100%, because you are slightly mistaken. We know that matter cannot be created or destroyed and that all matter in the universe is seen to be expanding from a central point in space and time. The matter existed "before" the big bang, but to say "before" the big bang is inappropriate, since time is relative and we know that with all that matter in one place, time would not be able to exist.

ethinethin said...

If everything that begins to exist must have a cause, and the universe began to exist, then it doesn't seem unreasonable for me to think that what caused the universe might point toward God.

It's not a sin to say "I don't know". It's the strength of the scientific method. We don't plug in god or whatever to unknowns, we research them until we can fill them in with knowledge, or leave them eternally empty. We could easily substitute god in this statement with anything that can't logically be disproved, like some hyperintelligent pangalactic beings initiated expansion in our universe, or a titan slew a frost giant in another plane, who became our dimension, or something equally absurd (like jesus-did-it, heh).

You say the universe has to have a cause, but your god doesn't have to have a cause because he is eternal. Well, why does the universe (i.e., matter in the known universe) have to have a cause? You will admit that you can believe in an uncaused god being and that is rationally acceptable, then why isn't it rationally acceptable (by your logic) to believe an uncaused universe or series of universes?


How did matter, and energy come to be? Does it seem reasonable to think that nature created itself?

I'll say it again: "I don't know" is not a sin. We simply know that all the matter and energy that now exists once existed in a singularity. How that came to be or what initiated the expansion is unknown now, but we may figure it out at some point. What if we did figure it out, and there was a purely natural explanation? Would you still believe in jesus?

Then to add force to this argument, Ethinethin, is the observation that the universe seems finely tuned to produce life on this planet.

This is absurd. I won't quote the whole thing. There are billions of stars and millions of galaxies as far as we can see, and we are but a microbe on a spec of dust among all of them. There have been mass extinction events initiated by outside sources (meteors crashing to the surface) and there will be more (gamma radiation bursts from nearby planets).

You also mention how improbable it is that the universe would happen in such a way with a fairly big number that I don't imagine any person could truly calculate, likely just a made up number (not by you, but whatever source you got it from).

The "six numbers" thing is misleading, because it is only important to life as we know it and there are a hell of a lot more factors than six. Biological factors you've probably never thought about like the emergent properties of water (for an example, the density of frozen water being lower than that of aqueous water.. if it was not that way, life wouldn't have been able to survive the way it did in the ocean.

But the thing is, those things are that way and we can observe them and calculate them. Regardless of how improbably it is, it happened and that doesn't point to a god. Here's a crude example to show the flaw in this thinking, and this is really important for you to understand. (next post)

ethinethin said...

Let's say when my parents decided to conceive me, it took them twenty tries over the course of two months. A low or high estimate, I don't know and I'm not going to ask them. Let's say that each time, my father released an average of 170 million sperm per attempt (this is based on the average of 85 million sperm per testical per day). Over the course of the two months, my mother also released 3 eggs.

Now, we know genetically that every combination of different sperm and egg is a different person, with different genotypes. With these numbers, there is 10,200,000,000 different combinations of people (3.4 billion sperm x 3 eggs), giving me a roughly 1 in 10 billion chance of being born. Now apply that number to my mother and my father, giving their parents the same averages, and we have a one in (10,200,000,000 to the power of 3) chance of me being born, which is a one in 1.06e30 chance that I exist, because only my parents could create me and only their parents can create them. Now take this back fifty generations or further, using the same logic. Add in societal and ecological factors, which can't be calculated as easy.

One conclusion I can make right off the bat: how fucking improbable that I exist exactly the way I do! But guess what? I do exist, exactly the way I do. I'm a lucky son of a bitch, but we all are. It just happened, and there doesn't have to be a god directing it.


Apart from a conditioning toward philosophical materialism, naturalism, is it really that far fetched, and irrational to wonder if an intelligent, creative force is behind it all, Ethinethin? Scripture states that the very heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies show His handiwork.

Yes, it is far fetched and not very convincing. I haven't been "conditioned" toward philosophical materialism and naturalism. It just makes no presuppositions about things we can't know. You're basically concluding that there's no direct way we can know god exists (no signature on an iceberg, no autograph on a bible). The evidence you give is "we don't know, so maybe it's god", which is a logical fallacy.

My response is not "we don't know, but it's probably not god". My response is "we don't know". And guess what? Two thousand years ago, we didn't know the earth was round. I wonder what we'll know in another two thousand.

Grace said...

Ethinethin,

Read your whole post. Thank you for the time you took in writing it, and for sharing all your thoughts with me. Definitely will think about everything you've written.

I'll be honest, though, it would take alot for me to wrap my head around the idea that randomness, and chance could account for the complexity of life that seemed to be there from the very beginning.

Even the simplest living cell is quite complex.. I lean more toward theistic evolution, but believe that an intelligence initiated, and guided this whole process.

It looks as if you've given all of this a great deal of thought, too. Suppose we can only agree to disagree for now, anyway.

I don't actually have any children who are convinced atheists,Ethinethin, although not all of my kids are Christian believers, either.

I don't really worry about Hell, but I do have a concern for my kids partly because I know the tremendous difference, sense of meaning, and purpose that knowing God can bring into a person's life.

Once, Ethinethin, I was involved in a serious riding accident, and actually faced possible death. Lacerated my liver, and was bleeding internally, going into shock.

I remember so strongly sensing the presence of God, and realizing His love, and faithfulness, even as I just lost consciousness.

I'm not concerned about Hell, but I would not want to face death apart from the Lord either. The sure, and certain hope of the resurrection is pretty powerful stuff.

All that being said, I love my kids to pieces, and think that they need to find their own way, and path to faith. We have good relationships, and can enjoy each other despite our differences.

Hope it's the same for you with your family, Ethinethin.

I've certainly enjoyed talking with you, and with everyone here.

Blessings!

ethinethin said...

Even the simplest living cell is quite complex

Don't I know it! I'm a cell biologist :)

I really dig unicellular animals -- that is, single cell organisms that are big and complex enough (and specifically, consume nutrients and excrete waste via a primitive digestion sytem) to be classified in kingdom animalia.

At the average length of 2e-4 meters, a paramecium is 50 times larger than an average human skin cell (about 4e-6), though both are just one cell. Though smaller, skin cells could be considered more complex than paramecia because of their emergent property of forming tissue and interact with large amounts of other like-cells.

Paramecia are complex in other ways, with cilia used for motion and drawing in nutrients.

As far as intelligence guided evolution, I respect your ability to believe that, but it's a great insult to the evolution I have studied. Evolution by natural selection is deceptively simple, yet powerful. As humans, we recognize patterns and sometimes allege design, and so by default we seem to think that something works so well, it had to be designed.

When you actually study organisms, though, and realize how they have changed according to their environment, and see damaging adaptations that have flourished due to other factors, and see the terrible imperfection, the idea of guided evolution doesn't last very long.

Why would someone design human eyes with a blind spot?

Why would someone design sickle-cell blood cells to combat malaria, when it otherwise has such terrible affects on their health?

It's understandable that these adaptations occurred or flourished due to specific ecological reasons, but why would someone guide them to happen?

One last thing.

I'll be honest, though, it would take alot for me to wrap my head around the idea that randomness, and chance could account for the complexity of life that seemed to be there from the very beginning.

It isn't complete randomness, though. Mutations and adaptations may arise via cell replication errors or other things, but if they're beneficial, they'll be passed on. Let me explain that another way:

If I gave you ten six-sided dice and said "roll those all at once until you roll all 1's", it would take you a long time to get all 1's. However, introduce a selective factor, say, "You can keep any 1's you roll on the table each time and reroll the rest", it wouldn't be nearly as improbable for you to have ten 1's on the table (although theoretically, you could roll all non-1's infinitely, even with this selective factor, it's not very likely).

Of course, god does not play dice with the universe, right? ;)

ethinethin said...

Doh, yes. I'm a cell biologist, but I call paramecia animals. They're protists, whoops. There are a few unicellular organisms in the animal kingdom, though.

GCT said...

Grace,
I'm glad that your son got to his destination safely. I'm sure it's a load off your shoulders.

Also, I'm going to try and touch on some things that Ethin might have already talked about, so apologies (to both of you) if I do that.

"I really don't have extremely strong views one way or the other relating to the inerrancy of the Scripture because my faith isn't actually centered there. I think this whole inerrancy emphasis is a relatively recent view in the overall history of the entire church, btw."

It's actually not new. One of the examples of inerrancy differing by interpretation was the case of 1 day equalling 1000 years in the Genesis account. This was something that was formulated pretty early in the church history, and shows a clear case of reasoning by inerrancy.

Regardless, if the Bible is not accurate, then how do we know about god at all? The only source that we have is the Bible.

"Or, I might ask if God is the author of all life, does He have the right also to take that life? And, could this ever be a mercy?"

god does not have the right to capriciously take life. Might does not make right. god, by creating us, has taken on a moral responsibility towards us. Now, it could be a mercy, like if the person is suffering from some horrible disease...but this runs into another issue, like why was the person suffering from that disease in the first place, which is a situation that god would be responsible for. god would simply be making a belated attempt, in that case, to correct how own wrongs.

"I'm thinking of things like the destruction of Pharoah's armies at the Reed Sea as they pursued the Hebrew people, or something like the destruction of the Cannanites.

I have studied that these people had as their aim the annihilation of the ancient Hebrews, and were extremely wicked in their practices, even sacrificing their own children to Molech by fire."

Remember that Pharoah tried to relent and god hardened his heart. Also remember that god would be a hypocrite to denounce the Canaanites for child sacrifice when he sacrificed his own son, ordered the sacrifice of Isaac, and also caused a sacrifice when a man made the deal to sacrifice what he sees and ended up seeing his daughter.

None of these things excuse genocide, especially not for a god that has the intellect and power to use a different methodology.

"I think I can trust Him even with some of these things that I can't completely know, or understand for now."

As I said, this is painting a bulls-eye around the arrow that's already been shot. You are working from you biases and assuming your conclusions. You assume that god is good, so you think you can trust him. Anything that god does that is evil, you toss it out as not conforming to what you "know" about god even though you don't actually know that - you simply assumed it. It's special pleading.

If you don't have enough information to make a value judgement to decide that god is evil, then you similarly can't make the value judgement that god is good. If you do have enough information to claim god is good, then you can condemn him for the genocides and rapes and murders and slavery, etc. What you can't do is have it both ways, which is what you are trying to do.

"And, I truly don't know of any intelligent, thinking person who believes that elves, or the tooth fairy is real. :)"

This is an argument from authority. Yes, there are intelligent people who believe in Yahweh, but there are also intelligent people who believe in Allah or Siva. Should I hold that those other gods also have some support for them simply because of that? I'm sure that you don't, so why would you think that we should?

GCT said...

"Most cosmologists would agree concerning the "big bang," theory of the universe's origin. If this is true, then it must be that the known universe had a beginning at a specific point in time. Would you agree?"

No, as it needs some re-phrasing. The universe as we know it and time as it is a property of our universe would have started at some distinct point, but this is not the same as what you are claiming.

"If everything that begins to exist must have a cause, and the universe began to exist, then it doesn't seem unreasonable for me to think that what caused the universe might point toward God."

On a macro-level, you can probably hold to causality, but not so on the quantum level where we see particles blink into and out of existence without cause.

Secondly, since time is a property of this universe, it's very difficult to talk about time "before the big bang" if it even makes sense. In order to have causality, however, one must have a time in which to do it, since the two are linked. How can something "cause" something else if there is no time involved (pre-time in the singularity)?

Lastly, it is unreasonable to say that goddidit sans any evidence of god's involvement - it's a god of the gaps argument.

"How did matter, and energy come to be? Does it seem reasonable to think that nature created itself?""

It's more reasonable to note that it simply was and leave it at that until we have evidence that contradicts that. No one is saying that nothing existed and then suddenly became the universe. No one except creationists that is.

"I've studied that there are six numbers which seem to underlie the fundamental physical properties of the universe, and that each is an exact value required for life to exist. If any one of the six, such as the gravitational constant, or the strong nuclear force were different to even the smallest degree, there would be no stars, no complex elements, no life, Ethinethin. I quoting from astronomer Martin Ree's, "Just Six Numbers.""

Ethin's already pointed out that it only works for "life as we know it." But, also we should consider that there are still infinite possibilites involving an infinite set of values that could be used and still create a universe that works, as Victor Stenger has worked out.

"Even the simplest living cell is quite complex."

You do realize that only creationists claim that the first cell had to come about all at once, right? No scientists are saying that cells simply formed without pre-cursors.

Finally, in regards to probability, I'll give you another example than Ethin's (although that was a great example). Is it more or less probable to get a royal flush in poker than to get 2H, 3C, 4D, 5S, 7H? How about any other hand?

Fact is, it's just as probable to get any hand as any other hand (if one specifies the suit - since there are 4 ways to get a royal flush, it's actually more likely to be dealt a royal flush than the specified hand above). Every hand is of equal probability and they are all pretty unlikely, yet every time you deal the cards, you get something.

Lastly, I would suggest that you look into genetic algorithms, which use the ideas of RM + NS to solve problems that are well beyond our reach and show that complexity can and does arise through these processes.

Leo said...

Just had a moment, and upon first reading, take issue with this statement from GCT:

"we see particles blink into and out of existence without cause."

How does this jive with the fact that matter cannot be created or destroyed?

GCT said...

Leo,
I'm actually impressed that you came up with a good question, so I spent some time scouting around some sites to help you. Please don't disappoint me by not looking at this:

Virtual Particles

Leo said...

So these particles that "blink into existence" don't ever really exist? Or am I reading this wrong? If this is true, then it doesn't get past the question you used this to answer previously.

GCT said...

Leo,
Don't let the name of them fool you. They exist. They interact with the physical world. In fact, certain phenomena must take these particles into account in order to give us accurate depictions of the world.

The bottom line is that at the quantum level, the idea of causality breaks down.

Leo said...

It just appears this is one of those, "We have a gap, so we'll fill it with this. We know it exists because something has to exist there."

GCT said...

No Leo, what we have is empirical evidence that something is there and interacting with the physical world. I'm (really not) sorry that this disrupts your apologetic, but you should stop trying to force reality to fit to your beliefs.

Leo said...

So if they exist, what information is carried by these "virtual" particles? And what causes their attraction from one point to another? The repulsion from one point does not explain the attraction to the other.

I just finished reading "The Einstein Hoax." Some very good questions. The "medicine ball" analogy addresses this very question.

Grace said...

GCT, I do think there is something of truth, and beauty in other faiths. But, obviously, all cannot be equally true, and valid, if they assert differing things concerning God's nature, and purpose.

It does seem to me that among most people there is an inituitive sense that there is something or someone greater than themselves, that we are not alone in the universe.

I don't feel that this can be easily explained by wish-fullfillment, or simply in evolutionary terms. But, what do you think of the hypothesis of a God gene?

Hey, GCT, and Ethinethin, it would be an awesome discussion, and challenging to do a Bible study together, wouldn't it?

Give you both the last word.

Blessings!

GCT said...

Grace,
"GCT, I do think there is something of truth, and beauty in other faiths. But, obviously, all cannot be equally true, and valid, if they assert differing things concerning God's nature, and purpose."

And, how do you know which one to choose, if any?

"It does seem to me that among most people there is an inituitive sense that there is something or someone greater than themselves, that we are not alone in the universe."

It also seems intuitive that the sun goes around the Earth. Intuition is not a reliable method of claiming truth or knowledge about the world.

"I don't feel that this can be easily explained by wish-fullfillment, or simply in evolutionary terms."

Why not? Are you aware of the current state of biological and cultural evolutionary studies - at least enough to make an informed dissent?

"But, what do you think of the hypothesis of a God gene?"

I think it's interesting. I don't know if there is an actual god gene per se, but there's most likely some evolutionary component to it at least in the cultural sense and in other senses. Humans seem to be wired to look for patterns, even when they don't exist. This is not unique to us, however. A study was done where pigeons were trained to do tasks to get food. When the machine was changed to give food at random times, the pigeons went through more and more elaborate dances and movements in order to find the pattern that would lead to their food. Once one "worked" (meaning it aligned with the random time that food would be alloted) the pigeon would repeat those movements to try and get a food pellet again. When that didn't work, more and more complexity would be added to the dance. The pigeons were, in effect, looking for patterns that led to food appearance and trying to re-create those patterns, even when no pattern existed.

So, where am I going with this? Pattern recognition and an inability to explain things along with a need to find some common story with which to identify in and out groups and our human tendency to personify likely led to the idea of other "persons" that caused things to happen in the world, which eventually would become religion.

GCT said...

Leo,
What do you mean by "information?" These particle interact with the physical world, they are real entities. Keep your head in the sand, reality will continue to be the way it is regardless of your beliefs.

Leo said...

Where is ethinethin. He'll understand the question. GCT is in over his head.

Leo said...

GCT- Virtual Particles have only been "predicted" to exist. They only exist because our other experiments say, "Something must exist here." There is much skepticism about their existence. Try googling 'virtual particles do not exist'

GCT said...

Leo,
"Where is ethinethin. He'll understand the question. GCT is in over his head."

No Leo, it's that you don't understand what it is you are asking. Shannon information or Kolmogorov, and how does it fit into this? Information has nothing to do with this.

"Virtual Particles have only been "predicted" to exist. They only exist because our other experiments say, "Something must exist here." There is much skepticism about their existence. Try googling 'virtual particles do not exist'"

I suggest you google it yourself and see how many website come up that say that they do exist. Did you even try it before saying something breath-takingly stupid?

Finally, this is all side-show crap. The reality is that in the quantum realm, causality does not quite work, meaning that all your arguments that rely on causality are useless (not that they were ever compelling since they all rely on logical fallacy anyway).

Anonymous said...

ethinethin, still waiting for your comments on this

ethinethin said...

Why does it matter what I think about it? If they observed something, it's real. I'd hope you'd agree with that simple principle.

GCT said...

I think Leo wants you to talk about information theory, because apparently he's an expert and I'm supposedly in over my head, even though he seems to not know anything about physics or biology.

Anonymous said...

Ethin, you are being intellectually dishonest if you don't admit to the flaws in the definition of "virtual particles."

ethinethin said...

I'm not an authority on virtual particles, I've never studied them. However, being a scientist, I can understand your confusion (since "big science" is "big science"). I can also make some very basic statements about them.

Since observation is at the core of any hypothesis, if someone has introduced the model of virtual particles as a solution to an observed, fundamental atomic regularity, then this model may or may not be viable.

If it is observed repeatedly and under most circumstances, then it is more viable. If it cannot be observed in some situations, this may or may not falsify the hypothesis (or theory).

I have a solid education in atomic chemistry and physics, but I have never studied virtual particles. In fact, I have not studied theoretical physics at any great length. I am in no way an authority on theoretical physics beyond the very basics of the scientific method they must ascribe to.