BioLogos has lost it

Something weird is going on over at BioLogos.   It’s becoming less and less scientific and more and more evangelical, to the point where its writers blatantly expound the most extreme and Jebus-loving form of babble.  Here’s part of a post by Kenton Sparks, a professor of Biblical studies at Eastern University.  Sparks tries to explain why the Bible, supposedly the word of God, has errors and contradictions.  He starts by explaining another contradiction: why a God-created world has problems:

Let us begin with God’s creation. It is beautiful … in fact, unbelievable beautiful. Yet it also includes terrors and evils that are unspeakable … rapes, murders and wars … famine, disease and disaster … pain indescribable. Given that God has created everything that exists, how do Christians avoid the possible (some skeptics would say inevitable) implication that the blame for creation’s evils and horrors can be pinned on God? Following Paul’s lead in Rom 8:20-22, Christians dogmatically assert that the cosmos is broken because of human sin.22 So it is not God, but human beings, who are finally culpable for the messy side of creation. Creation is good and beautiful because it is God’s creation, but warped and broken because of human influence.

To make the point clearer, imagine with me a beautiful painting by Renoir or Monet. And then imagine that someone seizes the painting, rips it from its frame, crumples it up and stomps on it for about ten minutes. What does one end up with? One ends up with a beautiful painting that is everywhere warped and twisted. In some places the former beauty of the unmolested painting is more visible than in others, but there is no quarter of the painting that has escaped the damage. This, I would say, suitably describes God’s creation. It is beautiful but also broken, and in such a way that one cannot really separate what’s beautiful from what’s not. Because it is the good thing itself that is warped and damaged.

Is this “dogmatic assertion” supposed to comport with science? If so, then how exactly did human sin cause earthquakes, disease, tsunamis, and other acts of God that kill innocent people or make them suffer?  And if those imperfections were caused by human sin, did they not then exist before humans? Did tectonic plates only start moving when our ape-ish ancestors somehow acquired a soul?  And what about those diseases that were long present in animals but jumped to humans? Did the Irish potato blight, caused by a fungus, really result from human sin?  Couldn’t God have stopped it before it killed so many children and families?

Sparks’s theodicy is of course complete nonsense, raising far more questions than it settles.  More important, it’s disproven by science.

And here’s the president of BioLogos, Darrell Falk, trying to explain to his flock how hard it is to reconcile science with their faith.  But first he lays out what that faith involves:

We at BioLogos believe that Jesus, fully God and fully man, walked on this earth 2,000 years ago in order to show humankind how to live life to the full. Jesus died in order that we, sinful humankind, might be clean. His shed blood has made us clean. We need not live under the power of sin any longer. We are called to an infinitely better life that is made possible because we have been forgiven through the event of Calvary, and because of the resurrection power that raised Jesus from death to life. That death to death at the tomb near Calvary was not metaphorical, and the new life we live in Christ is not metaphorical either. We are empowered to live fully gifted lives; we are empowered to live out our calling, enabled by the resurrection-power of God’s Spirit which dwells in us. The Church has existed through these past 2,000 years because the Power of God’s Spirit is alive in God’s Church. We believe the Bible, a living document through which the Holy Spirit continues to speak today, is the divinely inspired Word of God.

At least he declares unequivocally that the Resurrection was not metaphorical.  But given that BioLogos thinks that Genesis and the idea of Adam and Eve as the parents of humanity are metaphorical, it would be nice if Falk could tell us how he manages to discriminate between those parts of scripture that are empirically true and those that are just instructive stories.  And how can he be so sure that Jesus was the real prophet and not Mohamed? Is this discrimination based on evidence?  Or is it just what Falk wants to be true?

Things don’t look good at BioLogos.  The science, always in an uneasy equipoise with faith, is now being pushed aside by evangelism.  I predict that Templeton will withdraw its support; at least that’s what they should do if they want to retain any credibility with scientists.

h/t: Butterflies and Wheels

84 Comments

  1. Jane Shipley
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Paul hated women. He would assert that the cosmos is broken because of the actions of Eve. . . that we would still be living in Eden were it not for her (no earthquakes, etc., let alone war or oil spills). Paul would assert that Eve should have been able to resist the temptation offered by the serpent. But Paul would also describe God as all-knowing and existing simultaneously in all time. This means Paul’s God must have known what would happen with Adam, Eve, and snake together in paradise. So–whose fault is this mess?

    • Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      “We would” not be living in Eden without Eden, there’s that whole reproduction -Eve issue

    • Friend of Icelos
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      Incidentally, there are actually good reasons to believe Paul didn’t write the most misogynistic passages attributed to him, and that early Christianity was much kinder to women than later. Of course, that doesn’t make the supernatural claims any more reasonable. Check out one of Bart Ehrman’s books like Misquoting Jesus for a good overview, or even just the wikipedia article on the Pastoral Epistles.

      • Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:41 am | Permalink

        People keep telling me this, but I’ve yet to see a Christian willing to re-edit the Bible and once and for all tell me which pieces don’t belong in there.

        • Michael Kingsford Gray
          Posted July 6, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

          Jefferson did.

          • Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

            True, at least for the Gospels. He even went further and removed anything supernatural from them.

            Of course, you could wonder whether anyone who’d remove that much from the Bible could still be considered a Christian… Which means my comment wasn’t really that well worded. But I think you get my point.

        • Friend of Icelos
          Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          Well, my comment is based on modern secular scholarship of the New Testament, which I doubt most Christians are eager to hear. I wasn’t trying to defend Christianity so much as mention that Paul probably didn’t actually hate women. I for one would be fine with excising huge chunks of the “Holy Bible”, but then again, I’m not exactly a “believer”.

        • Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          Creationist Kurt Wise did this as well, specifically cutting out parts that modern science denies being possible. When he was done, he couldn’t pick up the remaining pages. So … he gave up on modern science!

  2. Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    “I predict that Templeton will withdraw its support; at least that’s what they should do if they want to retain any credibility with scientists.”

    They have credibility?

    Bleh — Biologos reverts to standard preaching. Does that surprise anyone?

  3. Jason A.
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    it would be nice if Falk could tell us how he manages to discriminate between those parts of scripture that are empirically true and those that are just instructive stories. And how can he be so sure that Jesus was the real prophet and not Mohamed? Is this discrimination based on evidence? Or is it just what Falk wants to be true?

    I asked them this on the Adam and Eve post, and the response was that I’m not sophisticated enough to understand why this is a stupid question.

    • Microraptor
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      “Only the most sophisticated of people can see these clothes”

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Do you have a copy of the exchange? If so, could you give the URL or post it?

      • Jason A.
        Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        http://biologos.org/blog/on-living-in-the-middle/

        Norm, in #18659, says “Genesis simply says that Adam’s offspring begin to call upon the name of the Lord.”

        Then in #18673 says “I understand Dawkins believes this all emanated from “Aliens” somehow.”

        I commented in #18681 “Actually, Genesis simply says Adam was formed from dust, Eve was formed of a rib, and a talking snake tricked her into pursuing knowledge, which is evil. I understand that you’ve made some distinction that it’s a metaphor, but the walking on water and ascending into heaven stuff isn’t a metaphor, based on some arbitrary decision that that’s they way you would like to interpret it. But the fact remains that Genesis is ‘simply’ a tale about rib women and talking snakes.”

        Norm replies in #18716 “You have already given evidence that IMO you do not have a handle on Genesis theology as you read it as a typical non believer who can’t grasp the analogy that is embedded within it. In other words you read it in a simplistic mindset not recognizing the implication of Hebrew symbolic literature. It’s like you discovered an Aesop fairy tale and don’t know how to read for the moral or hidden story but hold it to your literal interpretation for argumentative purposes. Of course you will not progress beyond the literal approach because it does not help your purpose. Yours is a form of presuppositionalism concerning the theology of scripture and it’s to be expected.
        No I’m not being obtuse but am simply moving the discussion into the realm in which it is to be understood. I’m not inclined to argue from your suppositions since you’re not theologically aware”

        I replied in #18719 “No, you said that ‘simply’ Genesis was about your personal interpretation. It’s not. That’s painfully obvious, hence the very existence of different interpretations. You tried to pull a trick where your personal interpretation is the obvious one. It’s not.
        Now, when I pointed it out that the ‘simple’ interpretation is the most basic, you pull this other trick where you claim I’m too dumb to talk to you, so you don’t have to justify your arbitrary choices over what is metaphor and what is literal.”

        Norm replied in #18747 “Genesis literature is an extremely artistic and complex piece of literature and just as I’m not equipped to discuss many intricate areas of learning so I don’t expect most to grasp the complexity of Genesis. It has proven over and over again to be a quagmire that most without extensive training rarely begin to properly grasp. This is why it’s difficult to discuss its historical and theological ramification with laymen or the casual examiner.
        It is not untypical for those not enamored or conversant with Genesis to make statements that would have been foreign and alien to the writer’s intent or purpose. Studying the theology of Genesis should be done so from the point of view of the writer’s purpose and that is not readily clear to the uninitiated.
        This is not just a problem with the non believer but it is rampant amongst believers as well. This problem manifest itself amongst believers with large segments believing the Jews wrote about a global flood when they did not. It is a common misconception to read scripture in that manner.”

        I think I just stopped replying to him there.

        This was my first venture onto the BioLogos comments, I don’t know who Norm is or if he’s a ‘regular’ respected commenter there or just some random. But the style of what he was writing seems to mesh well with what I’ve read from BioLogos.

        • articulett
          Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          Ha, ha– typical “courtier’s reply”. I guess it’s just too deep for people to understand unless your name is Norm and you’ve interpreted the way Norm has.

        • Josh Slocum
          Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

          Oh thank you, Jason, that’s hilarious!

          I also LOL’ed when I saw Biologos follows the Toothpaste Twins on Twitter. It’s just so predictable, you know? I wonder if it ever troubles Kirshenooneybaum that they have many more devoted followers among religious woomeisters (and infamous Internet cranks) than they do among the scientific/rational public they claim to care so much about.

          • Rayl
            Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

            I want to know more about that talking snake.

  4. Eric MacDonald
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Of course, where else can Biologos go? Once they’ve claimed that religion (by which they really mean a fairly conservative form of Christianity) is compatible with science (biology in particular), what can they do but start to patch up all the holes? There’s really no science for Biologos to do, so it’s bound to be straight apologetics. What else could Templeton expect?

    However, I am surprised, and a bit alarmed, when you suggest that Templeton might lose its credibility with scientists. I shouldn’t have thought it had that much to lose. The really scary thought is that it might.

  5. Carl
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t they rename their site christianlogs? After all they are nothing but a bunch fundamentalists trying to put their jesus of suburbia into science.

  6. Andrew B.
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “We at BioLogos believe that Jesus, fully God and fully man, walked on this earth 2,000 years ago in order to show humankind how to live life to the full.”

    I do not need a rambling lunatic to tell me how to “live life to the ‘full.'” Jesus was not the first moral teacher, not by a longshot, and he won’t be the last.

    Also, how can he be “fully God” AND “fully man?” Wouldn’t thy cup runneth over? Wouldn’t there be a puddle of excess man and/or God juice lying around somewhere?

    “Jesus died in order that we, sinful humankind, might be clean.”

    Classical marketing technique: tell people that there’s something WRONG with them; Prey on their insecurities and fears! Then “helpfully” suggest a solution to their new problem. In this case, it’s Jesus! His death provides a non-existent solution to a non-existent problem. We are not BORN guilty, no matter how necessary it is for Christianity to have any usefulness.

    Religion is a reeking turd. Flush it down already.

    • Friend of Icelos
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      How can he be “fully God” AND “fully man?”

      It may not make any sense, but it’s been the explicit official position for many centuries. I’m sure if you ask them about it you’ll get an answer along the lines of “God is a mystery and such.”

      • Sajanas
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Yeah… a friend of mine once thought that if Jesus really suffered to redeem mankind, he’d have gone to hell forever, rather than for just a few days. Pastors don’t have good responses to these sorts of questions
        I also never understood how someone dying could make anything better. The only explanation I could think up is that god *had* to kill someone, and Jesus subbed in. But it seems a really blood thirsty way to picture a deity.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        It is also a mystery how a seemingly polytheistic religion can be seen as monotheistic merely on their say so.

        And this “three-aspects-in-individuals-which-are-actually-only-one-individual-put-into-three-slave-bodies-kid-you-not” is even before we start:

        – To count the number of angels sitting on a pin point or a supernatural “heaven” (where again?).

        – Or account for the supernatural hell (next to “heaven”, it seems) and its inhabitants that is somehow not the post-semitic gods responsibility.

  7. ennui
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    This makes total sense, for god cannot savour the sweet smell of a metaphor; it requires a real blood sacrifice, whether firstborn fatted calf, Isaac, or teh Jebus. For god is an angry space vampire.

  8. Jacobus van Beverningk
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    “Creation is good and beautiful because it is God’s creation, but warped and broken because of human influence”

    Is there a point in even TRYING to have a halfway decent (intelligent) discussion with these folks?

    This SO wants me to slam a door in someone’s face … and I’m usually a very quiet and non-violent person!

    • ckitching
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Parasitic wasps. How many people’s faiths were tested or broken by the mere existence of these amazing (and disturbing) creatures? It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to truly reconcile a omnibenevolent god with the mere existence of these creatures.

      How could “original sin” have affected these creatures to produce such a disturbing result from a “perfect creation” scenario? Blame murder, rape, genocides on humans. I may even strain to accept predation. But the creatures caught in this struggle don’t have anything to do with human struggles, are far away from any simple predator/prey relationship, and would not even be known by us if we didn’t feel the need to study the world around us.

      Perhaps the answer is too obvious…

    • truthspeaker
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Not to mention the theological problem with this. Humans are part of God’s creation. So God created us, part of his beautiful creation, with the capability to warp and break the rest of his beautiful creation.

      • Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:47 am | Permalink

        And, being all-knowing, with the full certainty that we’d do so.

  9. Jacobus van Beverningk
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    “God’s creation. It is beautiful … in fact, unbelievable beautiful”

    “unbelievable” indeed! He’s got THAT right! So, why do they seem to insist to believe, what they themselves describe as not being able to be believed? Weird.

    But anyway: I don’t think BioLogos “lost” it, as you state in this post’s title: I don’t think they ‘had it’ to begin with.

  10. Brian
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    This has probably already been said but I reckon it’s worth repeating. If god created the world, and god is omniscient, then god knew what would follow. S/He is responsible therefore for the actions of his/her creation. So, the fall is the responsibility of god, as god would’ve foreseen what pesky humans did and allowed it to happen. You can’t blame the workmen for crappy design.

  11. Wowbagger
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Jesus died in order that we, sinful humankind, might be clean. His shed blood has made us clean.

    If Christians could explain why an otherwise omnipotent god was limited in such a way that he required a blood sacrifice before he forgave humanity (and that’s only if you set aside the idea that it needed forgiving, given that humanity was only doing what he created them to do) then perhaps this would become relevant to this discussion.

    • Brian
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Could they also explain how someone else can remove guilt for actions they didn’t commit? Oh and how blood sacrifice can be anything other than barbarism?

      • Tacroy
        Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        And how a real sacrifice wipes away the damage done by a metaphorical crime? Hell, how about they explain the way a metaphorical crime causes real punishment?

        • Marella
          Posted July 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

          Let’s face it, it wasn’t much of a sacrifice was it? A few days of discomfort followed by an eternity in heaven seated at the side of god. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

          And it’s not like plenty of other people haven’t suffered far worse fates.

          • articulett
            Posted July 5, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

            Don’t you mean he WAS god? Christianity is supposed to be MONOtheistic. If Jesus sits beside god, he can’t BE god– unless, of course, it’s another one of those deep theological mysteries. *snort*

            • Microraptor
              Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

              God was feeling a little beside himself that day.

          • Wowbagger
            Posted July 5, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            Indeed. If Jesus had agreed to go to hell and suffer an eternity of punishment in place of all the people who had sinned, that would have been a sacrifice – and also would have made about a gazillion times more sense.

            • articulett
              Posted July 6, 2010 at 1:44 am | Permalink

              Yeah! After all, it was all HIS idea… er his dad’s idea… and um.. the sins of the father… you know…

              (And now that our sins have been paid for it advance, shouldn’t we be sinning willy-nilly to get full value from the “sacrifice”?)

  12. Adam M.
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see how anyone can lay the blame at the feet of anyone but God. If God created the entire universe, knows everything, and is all-powerful, then surely, when God was deciding what kind of universe to create, God would have known in advance exactly how it would turn out. And if God chose to create a universe in which Satan would betray him, humans would fall, and most would be damned, then how can humans be blamed?

    You can’t blame humans if God chose to create a universe in which humans would sin. Why is this not obvious?

    • Stewart
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      This has been a point I’ve raised on those occasions when I’ve gotten in conversation about religion with a believer. Can a god be capable of creating everything without bearing responsibility for everything? Can there be any tendency of humans such a god didn’t create, if he/she/it created every atom in the universe? Can such a god give free will, if every neurological pathway that will use it was created from scratch by the same being? Anyway, the really disappointing thing has always been not so much getting no satisfactory answer, but, in all cases, the question was simply not understood. God gave free will (why couldn’t I understand that?) and we abused it. An extra step backwards has just been beyond every believer I’ve yet spoken to.

      • Wowbagger
        Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        ‘Free will’ is just the standard non-answer to this, and it’s just as empty as any of the other reactions to theodicy.

        God didn’t give me the free will to fly under my own power, or to grow horns like a reindeer, or live without breathing – why is it okay for him to limit my freedom to do those things but a breach of ‘free will’ if he applied the same restrictions on my ability to ‘sin’?

        • articulett
          Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          And how is it “free will” if he’s omniscient and knows what we are going to do anyhow?

          Do people in heaven have “free will”? If so, why did god bother making matter which he would have known leads to stuff like pain, suffering, hunger, sexual urges, and death?

          God has never made any sense to me. Evolution requires matter, but a god wouldn’t. And how are we made in his “image” if he’s immaterial (except when he isn’t… as when he was Jesus… or a burning bush… or some other shapeshifter).

          The more one thinks about any religious belief, the crazier it all sounds.

      • Adam M.
        Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, free will doesn’t solve this problem. Whatever actions humans take, God would have known them in advance when he chose which kind of universe to create. By creating a different universe, he would have induced people to make different choices by altering their circumstances or personalities.

        If he didn’t want Satan to rebel and tempt mankind into sin, he could have created Satan with a less selfish temperament. God’s choice to create Satan with a temperament such that he would choose to rebel and instigate the fall of man means the fall of man was predestined, chosen by God, and hence God’s fault, free will or no…

  13. Ken Browning
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    ….Christians dogmatically assert that the cosmos is broken because of human sin…. So it is not God, but human beings, who are finally culpable for the messy side of creation.

    Christians: Please explain how this can be reconciled with the theory of evolution. The ‘messy side of creation’ was going on for several billion years before we came along.

    • Posted July 6, 2010 at 4:26 am | Permalink

      All I can think of is that our guilt retroactively screwed up the world hundreds of millions of years before we came along.

      Yes, with God effects can precede causes even if those causes are metaphorical. That’s how awesome He is.

      • Mike McCants
        Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        And William Dembski’s book “The End of Christianity” does advocate that “solution” – god retroactively went back in time and changed everything.

        http://www.amazon.com/End-Christianity-Finding-Good-World/dp/0805427430

        From a review:

        “Dembski begins by calling into question our core instincts about the workings of cause and effect”

        Riiiight. Scientists won’t have a problem with that, will they?

        • Ken Browning
          Posted July 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          I understand the above responders are not advocating….

          Anyone at Biologos: Is this really the best you’ve got? Does Dembski represent your view?

  14. articulett
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Accommodationism creates this weird desperation where theists are constantly trying to rationalize why their “brand” of faith is more “scientific” and worthy of respect than all those faiths they reject.

    They must constantly play semantic games to keep themselves from understanding that, from a scientific perspective, their supernatural beliefs are as unscientific as the supernatural beliefs they find unbelievable.

    Christianity rests on a nonsensical premise (god requires the sacrifice of his son -who was really him– to atone for the past, present, and future sins of his other kids who weren’t him)and this story is predicated on another nonsensical tale (Genesis) that has multiple interpretations. I don’t see how any rationalization can make the two stories make sense with each other or with an omnibenovolent, omniscient god.

    There is no way to tell a divine revelation form a myth or a parable, yet every theist imagines that they’ve done so. It’s all a mental game so the believer can keep believing the thing he thinks he is saved for believing in.

    • Adam M.
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      Haha, yeah, the best way I’ve heard it put is: “Let me get this straight. God had to sacrifice himself to save us from… himself?”

      • Microraptor
        Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        I prefer “So God knew that Adam and Eve were going to sin and could have stopped them, or taught them why they shouldn’t, but instead chose to cast them out of Eden and inflict eternal damnation on their descendants, then later came to regret this, and rather than simply rescind the punishment he had to create a loophole by impregnating a mortal woman to bear his child that was also him in order to die as a blood sacrifice to himself?”

        • Wowbagger
          Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

          Well, sure it sounds stupid when you go and think about it. But that’s the great thing about Christianity – thinking isn’t required for membership! In fact, it’s usually frowned upon!

          • Microraptor
            Posted July 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

            Indeed

  15. Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    I predict that Templeton will withdraw its support; at least that’s what they should do if they want to retain any credibility with scientists.

    But perhaps Templeton actually likes the direction BioLogos is going. Perhaps it encourages it.

    • scott
      Posted July 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      I feel like Falk et al. see themselves as fishers of men.

      Engaged in a noble calling, they’ve put to sea and hooked into the largest and most fierce predator in the sea, but they’ve rigged themselves with a very weak leader.

      Because of this any pressure they put against the movement of their quarry, and the fish will feel it, and snap off. So really they have zero control of the fish. They are doomed to follow it, always paying out more line as it sounds, all the while, they are unable to take any of the line back, they have to move toward the fish to gain back line, and they call this progress.

      So goes their fishing trip.

      Meanwhile Jerry and the mean atheists are offering to dynamite the hole, and bring the whole school floating on top …

      Falk is a sportsman, he isn’t trying to sell his catch, he just wants to take a photo of himself with the thing near the boat.

      The mean atheists intend to bring the fish to market. They aren’t sportsmen.

  16. Ken Pidcock
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    BioLogos set itself an impossible task. Very few evangelical Christians possess Francis Collins’s and Karl Giberson’s gift for compartmentalizing. Of course people are going to be pissed when you demand that they accept reality.

    It is very interesting to watch. One wonders if the conflict represents resuscitation for the mainline Protestant denominations, as BioLogos (and no doubt other site)-influenced evangelicals leave in disgust with YEC.

  17. scott
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Biologos is really only in this discussion for one reason: to advance theistic evolution. This whole thing blew up on them when BioLogos put up a video of Bruce Waltke, using the term “cult” to describe YEC, and those who did not accept the BioLogos notion of “theistic evolution”. Which is a big win for BioLogos, only problem is, that the party came crashing down around them, and it wasn’t because of Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins. They didn’t even cover the story.

    The “offending” party, who accused BioLogos of twisting the meaning of Waltke’s talk, was the Orlando Reformed Theological Seminary.

    http://www.rts.edu/site/about/beliefs.aspx

    Here is what happened in a nutshell, and this is where the nuttiness started, because BioLogos thought it could get biblical inerrantists to buy into “theistic evolution” … they hit a wall, Waltke got fired – that is the big news. Waltke got fired for saying that evolution is true – BioLogos knows that is project is dead … the biblical inerrantists know metaphor from truth … and it isn’t because of the mean Jerry Coyne with his proofs and fossils and carbon dating … the real problem BioLogos has is all from the evangelical side, and they know it.

    Here is the blood and gore:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/04/09/video

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Good catch and analysis! Glad to see that a compromise remains a compromise, often empty of actual content but always with its problems.

      Unfortunately, as the post-semitic zombie god and the Discovery zombie Institute, I expect this one to wander the Earth a long time after its best-of-date expired.

  18. Hempenstein
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    They seem to be trying hard to market a new franchise: New Xtian Scientists. (Just as simple and dangerous as the old one, only different!)

    & BTW, has anyone noticed there’s a company of the same name: http://www.biologos.com/

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Yes, I stumbled on that one. The previous company should be suing for “destruction of market value”, perhaps? At the very least, it seems immoral on behalf of BioLogos.

  19. scott
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    I thought I’d post this snippet from the Inside Higher Ed report (and I hope this isn’t too OT)

    He closed the statement this way: “Decades from now, when the Evangelical Church has come to terms with the reality of evolution, we hope she will look back at those who were the pioneers on its journey toward a fuller understanding of the manner by which God has created. I could list other pioneers, a number of whom are good friends and colleagues.

    “Right there alongside them will be Dr. Bruce Waltke who, in the latter phase of an extremely distinguished career, had the courage to tell the Church what it needed to hear. The fact that he did so with a remarkably gentle spirit of love will be a reminder to all that the real battles are won when we simply live the reality of the Gospel. To do this — in the face of adversity — is the ultimate in courage.”

    What I love is that Falk sees himself in a “decades” long struggle – he wants decades to allow the “truth” of evolution to percolate the church …

    So when do we mark the beginning of the struggle? 1859 – Origin of Species?. Or is it, 1925, Scopes Trial, or is it, 1987 Edwards v. Aguillard? Or is it 2005, Kitzmiller V. Dover?

    That is what I would like to ask Falk, why does he feel that Creationism will fade in “decades” …

    Jerry since you and Falk are in direct contact, could you ask him, what he sees as the timeline? Is it going to be resistance and collapse? How is this all going to change? What would could you or any of us out here actually do to help? Just keep our mouth shut? Write books like “WEIT”?, bring lawsuits? What markers exists that would convince us that he has a plan to allow the “truth” to “percolate” the church?

    Or is Falk using the term “decades” in a metaphorical sense?

  20. Krzysztof
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    If the Fall (caused by Eve) is the cause of all the evil stuff in the world, and Jesus Christ “fully God and fully man” came to save us all, when may we expect all the carnivorous beasts to revert to vegetarianism, parasites to realize the error of their ways, and the weather to stop making our lives miserable?

  21. Jonn Mero
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    How can someone lose something he never had?

  22. paul fauvet
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    To say that “God’s creation” is “unbelievably beautiful”, you have to omit most of the species that ever existed.

    For a clear majority of all species (even if you leave out bacteria) are parasites. There are more species of tapeworm than there are of mammals, and probably more species of blood, liver and intestinal flukes than of vertebrates.

    So the God Biologos wants us to worship could only be bothered to create two living species of elephant
    but was ingenious enough to create tailor made flukes and tapeworms for each and every vertebrate.

    • Jon H
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      “For a clear majority of all species (even if you leave out bacteria) are parasites. ”

      They may not be beautiful, but they’re pretty awesome, so long as you’re not the victim.

  23. Posted July 6, 2010 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    We need not live under the power of sin any longer.

    So why does the world still include terrors and evils? Can’t Biologos not even get their own stories lined up?

  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I have foreseen this. [/Sith priest]

    And how can he be so sure that Jesus was the real prophet and not Mohamed?

    A telling point. Another telling point, how can he be sure there was a _real_ Jesus of Nazareth?

    Not surprisingly, the claimed originators of religions are, as the basic texts, mostly pre-litterature oral traditions by hundred of years (Gautama Buddha, Kǒng zǐ, Jesus of Nasareth). There is not even multiple correlative textual evidence for the existence of those myths as much as that tests historical fact.

    And again not surprisingly, when there is such evidence (AFAIU) it turns out these originators are severely warped human beings, empowered people who are war-mongers and paedophiliacs. Organized religion is after all an excellent system for empowering a ruling class.

  25. Kevin
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    “We at BioLogos believe that Jesus, fully God and fully man, walked on this earth 2,000 years ago in order to show humankind how to live life to the full.”

    And your evidence for this assertion is?

    We do not accept as “evidence” badly written myths (really, the so-called gospels are execrable). Any more than you accept The Odyssey as evidence of the existence of Achilles.

    The LOWEST form of evidence we will consider is contemporary eyewitness corroboration of the stories told in the books of myths. Some potential examples:
    1. The census that supposedly was the reason Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem. With their names on it.
    2. Official Roman governmental documents regarding the trial and execution of an heretical preacher.
    3. Eyewitness accounts of the hundreds of people who allegedly were raised from the dead and walked among the populace after the so-called Resurrection.
    4. Any extra-biblical contemporary eyewitness account of ANYTHING attributed to a Joshua bar Joseph during that time period.

    And could you please tell us how to verify the so-called “miracles” attributed to this person? Not a single one of them left so much as a footprint in the sand.

    BTW: Josephus (forgery), Tacitus (probably a forgery, but irrelevant in any event), and the rest do not count as “contemporary eyewitnesses”. They were all born well AFTER the alleged events. They witnessed NOTHING themselves.

    In order for us to proceed, FIRST you have to establish that this person indeed existed, and isn’t a post-Gnostic Hellenic creation of a half-god with superpowers in the same vein as Hercules (but without the muscles).

  26. Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Kent is still replying to comments on the post. The latest to me includes this gem:

    “Without God, then, humans experience of right and wrong, good and evil, justice and equity turn out to be merely evolutionary illusions that we can ignore whenever it suits us … That might be how it really is, but I suspect instead that these human experiences point to something more … to something beyond the cosmos that grounds what the evolutionary process as produced … namely, belief in a God who says”

    You’ve got to click through to see what God says. (hint – Godwin, anyone?)

    Ellipses in the original, no editing at all.

    • articulett
      Posted July 6, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      So he believes there needs to be a god so this god can tell Hitler he was wrong? Oddly, god seemed very into genocide and Hitler considered himself a Christian and creationist: http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Hitler_and_evolution. So even if the biblical god is true, it seems unlikely that he’d be particularly punishing of Hitler. Genocide is apparently part of his “plan” after all. Moreover, people don’t really die (per the faithful), they live forever in some immaterial state of ecstasy or agony Why would god care if people started their eternity sooner rather than later?

      The Nazis were Christians. They had no problems ignoring Kent’s brand of morality. I’m an atheist, and I’d feel guilty if I ran over an animal. It seems that Christianity has little to do with morality as much as the faithful try to convince themselves that there would be none without it.

      Kent’s “argument” seems to be: “god must exist,so that he can enact my sense of justice.”

      Rationalization fail.

  27. Doc Bill
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Dear Darrell,

    Substitute the Tooth Fairy for Jesus and you have the same story.

    When you grow up and learn to think for yourself, let me know.

    Until then, Darrell, seriously, who cares?

    Regards,
    doc bill

    p.s. if you were my student I’d flunk you for incompetence. Srsly.

  28. schinizel
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    I would agree some authors at Biologos have more of an evangelical bent. But, this isn’t something they are hiding. The site is about harmonizing truthful scientific claims with the theology and faith of Christianity. The same thing happened when we discovered the earth wasn’t flat!

    As much as some of the commentors here despise religion…science in itself is one of them. Granted, rooted in much a very different foundation. Both attempt to make sense of reality and human experience, and neither can answer the questions demanded by the other.

    I am not saying that ‘religion’ is the answer, but that answers come from both domains, material and existential. (yes, I know this last sentence will be quoted and quipped about the types of answers we get from religion :-))

  29. Wowbagger
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    As much as some of the commentors here despise religion…science in itself is one of them.

    Yes, in the same way toast is a religion.

    Granted, rooted in much a very different foundation.

    Indeed. Science is rooted in reality while religion is rooted in the denial of reality in favour of superstition considered beyond our understanding.

    I am not saying that ‘religion’ is the answer, but that answers come from both domains, material and existential.

    Then what are you saying? Do you even know?

    yes, I know this last sentence will be quoted and quipped about the types of answers we get from religion

    The problem with the answers you – not we – get from religion is this: how do would you know if they were the wrong answers?

    • schinizel
      Posted July 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

      Points to you for being first with the satirical spin on my comment!

      Seriously though to answer your question about what I am saying and my current state of knowledge, in the context of my post, I mean to say that anything(process, philosophy, framework) which seeks truth can be considered a ‘type’ religion…toast doesn’t qualify, I am sorry, since you see…it’s toast.

      I agree, science is rooted in the reality as it is observed through the material universe as we experience it. We run in to trouble with religion when it begins to make claims on the material world that conflict with science. In my opinion, religion (as you understand it) is very good at answering questions about human nature…love, ethics, purpose, etc.

      These truths are very pertinent to our reality, for example if you have a child born with severe mental retardation. If you approach this type of ‘real’ situation with strictly a material framework, one natural conclusion would be to let them die and not care since, from a material standpoint their existence to the natural order would be significantly reduced compared to others.

      Hope that clears it up. I fear another response filled with flaming sarcasm and bitter critique of the atypical religious mindset, but maybe my reference to a disabled baby will soften you up a bit 🙂

      • Wowbagger
        Posted July 8, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        If you choose to you can stretch the definition of something so it includes both science and religion; why not just keep going far enough to include toast? It’s just as intellectually dishonest.

        But religion doesn’t seek ‘truth’ – it begins with something it calls ‘truth’, but with nothing other than tradition to support it. Therefore, the only thing the religious seek is rationalisation – trying to find arguments they can use to maintain that the folk tales cobbled together from (in Christianity’s case at least) a wide range of ancient tribes still have meaning today.

        If you approach this type of ‘real’ situation with strictly a material framework, one natural conclusion would be to let them die and not care since, from a material standpoint their existence to the natural order would be significantly reduced compared to others.

        Except that materialism in no way precludes the existence of human emotions – on the contrary; it explains them quite well – and that these are linked to the human tendency to care for other humans – all perfectly explained by evolution in the sense that animals that care for each other have increased chances of survival over those that don’t.

        No gods required.

        Why do you think creatures other than humans care for each other? It’s been reported that elephants mourn their dead – where are their churches? Which bibles are they reading?

        Hope that clears it up. I fear another response filled with flaming sarcasm and bitter critique of the atypical religious mindset, but maybe my reference to a disabled baby will soften you up a bit

        Look up the fallacy of the appeal to emotion and try to be less transparent in the future.

        • schinizel
          Posted July 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

          Emotion wasn’t the point of my last bit, but sarcasm was ;-). Good to know there is a logical fallacy to support my joke though.

          Don’t animals eat their young sometimes too? So is it strictly a material process/mechanism that allows us to make decisions on when to kill a person or help one? Are we merely results of neurons being fired in our brain, or is there a ‘mind’ or ‘value’ to things/people? I am not trying to argue that a flying spaghetti monster magically instilled these in us (or toast)…but event that they are shown to be derived from something like evolution, doesn’t change the fact that they are true and that they exist. Pursuit of these truths is not exclusive to material science…this is my only point.

          We can go back and forth till one of us cites Hitler or the Nazis. (no need for a wiki link on this one) I only wanted to address the initial post. I must now go and pray to my god of toast.

          • Wowbagger
            Posted July 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            Are we merely results of neurons being fired in our brain…

            All signs point to yes, but scientific knowledge – as always – will change if evidence to the contrary appears.

            or is there a ‘mind’ or ‘value’ to things/people?

            Not that anyone is aware of – at least in the sense that they can back the claim up with evidence and/or argument.

            …but event that they are shown to be derived from something like evolution, doesn’t change the fact that they are true and that they exist.

            Except that you implied that such a thing was only possible because of a god of some kind, which is very different – i.e. if gods are not necessary, that removes a substantial number (though by no means all) of the arguments supporting their existence.

          • articulett
            Posted July 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

            We can go back and forth till one of us cites Hitler or the Nazis.

            The Nazi’s were Christians and it didn’t stop them from killing. Perhaps your religion would stop you from killing a retarded child, but most of us don’t need religion to refrain from doing so. Even my dog wouldn’t kill a retarded child. So whatever your point was, it fails.

            Religious people make scientific claims like “god exists” without even agreeing on what “god” is or what they mean by “exists” or how they can know that such a being exists when it apparently has no measurable qualities. Perhaps such claims are better handled in private and not mixed with science– the only method we have for understanding the truth that is the same for everybody no matter what they believe.

            Biologos is playing a losing game. There is no way to tell a real magical being from a fake one or a mythological one, is there? And once you invoke magic, where do you draw the line? How do you know a magical being didn’t make the world look old? How do you know we’re not in a matrix?

            If religious people cannot agree on what they believe, then how can any of you know which of you believes in the right invisible beings since there is no way to scientifically test any of it. It’s all unfalsifiable because magical beings can “magick” things to look however they want for whatever “mysterious” reasons humans can dream up, right?

            Religion is based on faith which is “belief without or despite evidence”. You don’t have to have any faith to understand science. The evidence is the same for every one. The fact that the earth goes around the sun is true for everyone and the evidence is available for everyone. This is true whether anyone believes it or not. It was true before there were people and it will be true after people are gone. The same for evolution.

            If you can’t tell the difference between science and faith, blame your indoctrination.

            • articulett
              Posted July 8, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

              And I don’t think most of us hate religion any more than you hate Scientology or some other conflicting religion… or voo-doo or tea leaf reading, or rain dancing, or witchcraft.

              We just don’t think it’s true. There is no evidence to suggest that anyone has access to divine truths –or even that such truths exist.

            • schinizel
              Posted July 9, 2010 at 1:22 am | Permalink

              Except that you implied that such a thing was only possible because of a god of some kind

              I did? I think that’s an assumption that was brought to the table 🙂 I actually never mentioned the word in my initial posts, only religion. Sorry it came off that way, thought I was being intentional not to.

              Questions of purpose and meaning are not exclusive to religion and gods, but to the nature of man. If our nature is solely a result of evolutionary process, is it not also “intellectually dishonest” to ignore it?

              @articuclett
              I am not really sure what you are ranting about…the whole point of the discussion is to say that religion is beside the point. It doesn’t matter if you are a Scientologist, Buddhist or Atheist. Truth is truth, we agree.

              btw, Stalin also killed lots of people and he was an atheist. It doesn’t mean atheism is the reason for the deaths, as much as Christianity was for the Nazis. I am sure there is a good Wikipedia entry on that logical fallacy, I am just not as motivated as wowbagger to go look 😛

              I had the following thoughts while reading your dissertation…

              I also agree that your dog would not kill a retarded child.

              I also agree we cant prove real magical beings from fake ones.

              I do not think we live in the Matrix.

              Do scientists always agree on what they know or believe? Should I claim that because scientists don’t agree on one thing, everything they say must be ridiculous?

              When you tell your students to form a hypothesis, aren’t you asking them to make a claim about something they observe but don’t yet have the evidence to support?

              How do you know you love your dog?

              If you walked into a kitchen and saw a teapot on the stove and someone asked “Why is the water in the teapot boiling?”, the answer can be a material description of the effect heat is having on the water…but it can also be “Because I wanted some tea”. Each answer is true.

              The words “god exists” are not a scientific claim. Neither are the questions “Why am I here?” or “Is there a soul?”.

            • articulett
              Posted July 9, 2010 at 3:45 am | Permalink

              “God exists” is a claim about reality. The other examples you gave were questions and opinions. Science deals with the part of reality that is the same for everybody no matter what they believe. (e.g. the sun is a star; the earth is not flat; the universe is 13.73 billion years old; matter cannot be created or destroyed… etc.)

              If god exists that should mean something– something measurable… something that is true regardless of belief. A real god should be distinguishable from a non existent god or a mythological god if such a being exists. None are.

              People are free to believe whatever they want. However, they ought to be able to differentiate statements about beliefs from factual statements, but religion seems to muddle peoples’ understanding of the difference. See your own statements as an example. Feelings are perceptions– not objective facts (though we can measure various feelings via brain scans.)

              Biologos makes statements of belief as though they were statements of fact and tries to leverage these beliefs by rationalizing scientific support for them.

              They then make assorted logical fallacies like you make to suggest that these beliefs are more rational or scientifically supportable than conflicting supernatural claims when they are not… or that they are good for morality or part of some divine higher truth when there is no evidence that this is so.

              The justifications they use for supporting their own supernatural beliefs are justifications that could be used just as well to support beliefs they don’t share.

              To many of us, this mish-mash of religion and science is obfuscating at best and dishonest at worst. You can’t promote belief in gods without lending support to belief in demons, hell, angels, ghosts,virgin births, exorcisms, witch burning and any of the other things that go along with those kinds of magical beliefs. And most scientists don’t consider any of these supernatural things a part of science even if some scientists believe in some or all of them. It’s silly to jumble the two and, of course, attempts at doing so will just cause in-fighthing and the crazy rationalizations that Kenton Sparks demonstrated. How many Christians will buy his rationalization? How many will have their own magical explanations and rationalizations? How many will want more stringent biblical interpretation? How many Muslims can use similar arguments to promote their Islam/Science mish-mash? Can’t the Scientologists do the same? Why is it any more respectable when Christians do it? Can’t any believer in any woo mish mash their magical beliefs with science like he is doing? Do you only accept science when you can squeeze it in to fit with your indoctrination?

              You made two main errors in your first post. You called science a religion though it has no dogma or supernatural beliefs and it has an error correcting mechanism. Science doesn’t require faith– it has evidence–the kind that is available to everyone– not just god’s chosen few or whatever. And the only punishment for not accepting science is ignorance. Religion, on the other hand, is about believing even when there is no evidence– often, it comes with the claim that you cannot be “saved” unless you believe. Certain people are said to have “revealed truths” and there are doctrines all believers are supposed to “believe in”. The punishment for disbelief according to multiple faiths is eternal damnation. There is no error correcting mechanism for faith based beliefs.

              Science produces measurable truths. What verifiable truths (not opinions, feelings, mottoes, and all that other stuff you confuse with truth) has religion produced? Religion is not a way to know anything verifiably true. Different religions have different “answers” and there is no way to tell who is right if anyone. The evidence indicates that all the answers are made up –that there is no such thing as “religious truths”.

              It might make you feel good to confuse yourself on the issue, but you’ve failed to make a case for your claims. Science can make airplanes that fly whether you believe that they can fly or not. What religion has anything to compare? You may BELIEVE that science and religion are equal ways of knowing things, but there is no evidence to suggest this is the case at all. Most of the people here don’t believe that faith and feelings are a way to know anything true at all– including whether any invisible magical undetectable beings exist.

              The stuff that you believe without question are stuff that more scientific minds should want scientific evidence for.

  30. Wowbagger
    Posted July 9, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Schinizel wrote:

    btw, Stalin also killed lots of people and he was an atheist. It doesn’t mean atheism is the reason for the deaths, as much as Christianity was for the Nazis. I am sure there is a good Wikipedia entry on that logical fallacy, I am just not as motivated as wowbagger to go look 😛

    Except that atheism, by definition, cannot prescribe action – it is simply the lack of gods. Christianity, on the other hand, can prescribe action by claiming the action is ‘what God wants’, and it can be supported by numerous chapters in the Christian bible, e.g. Numbers.

    So, no – it’s not the same thing.

    I also agree we cant prove real magical beings from fake ones.

    Before we cross that bridge we have to establish whether or not it’s possible for magical beings to even exist. Everything we know about the world says they don’t. Why, then, is it reasonable to assume they do?

    Do scientists always agree on what they know or believe? Should I claim that because scientists don’t agree on one thing, everything they say must be ridiculous?

    Because there are things upon which everyone agrees, and those things are backed up by evidence. What isn’t agreed on is only that way because the evidence is insufficient for scientists to be put beyond doubt and therefore different explanations to account for it exist.

    Religion, on the other hand, is only things for which there is no evidence – it is entirely subjective opinion.

    Not the same thing.

    When you tell your students to form a hypothesis, aren’t you asking them to make a claim about something they observe but don’t yet have the evidence to support?

    But then they are told to discover the evidence to support it; no evidence means the hypothesis gets tossed.

    Religion, on the other hand, means producing a hypothesis (e.g. Jesus sacrificed himself) and assuming it’s true simply because it makes you feel better to do so.

    If you walked into a kitchen and saw a teapot on the stove and someone asked “Why is the water in the teapot boiling?”, the answer can be a material description of the effect heat is having on the water…but it can also be “Because I wanted some tea”. Each answer is true.

    You’re back to toast again. Just because you can answer that question with vague concepts doesn’t mean you should. It makes asking questions meaningless.

    The words “god exists” are not a scientific claim. Neither are the questions “Why am I here?” or “Is there a soul?”.

    One out of three.

    ‘God exists’ is a scientific question if the god in question is alleged to intervene in the natural world. If the god doesn’t then that’s fine, but deists aren’t exactly bothering people by demanding deism be taught in schools as science.

    ‘Why am I here’ isn’t a scientific question, but that doesn’t mean it defaults to a religious one, since any religious answer is, by its very nature, uncompelling; it poses more questions than it answers.

    ‘Is there a soul?’ is a scientific question, because it posits the existence of something – the soul – usually considered to be separate from the physical body. Nothing science tells us allows us to assume there can be any kind of consciousness that is not dependent on our physical bodies, and many findings in neuroscience lead us to believe it’s entirely dependent on our physical bodies – why else would people’s personalities, that which ‘the soul’ is purported to be an extension of, and vice versa, change when brain damage occurs?

    These really aren’t novel or difficult questions for atheists to answer.

    • schinizel
      Posted July 9, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      These really aren’t novel or difficult questions for atheists to answer.

      The point of the questions & statements was not to make an attempt to pose an argument against atheism, but to suggest there are ways to think about answers, truthful ones, and not have them be rooted directly in science per say. Please stop jumping the gun and assuming I am on some comment-bent crusade (appropriate term I know) to convert the readers of this post that atheism is wrong. Your answers are filled with assumptions, one for example that atheism does not prescribe action. I agree, there is no ‘statement of faith’ for atheism, however it does influence decisions and actions you/others make within life, as religion does for it’s subscribers. Dispelling my statements out of context does very little to further discussion about the main topic.

      @articulett
      I claimed that science is a ‘type’ of religion(clarified in my second post). Out of context your argument is true and I agree, but in the sense that it is a process and framework that guides your understanding of life. I was making a comparison in part of how they can function in a sense, not how they are practiced or the results they offer.

      Most of the people here don’t believe that faith and feelings are a way to know anything true at all– including whether any invisible magical undetectable beings exist.

      I agree, neither can tell you anything about the material world empirically. But, both are mechanisms that guide and dictate the lives of everyone. After all, even when you confirm a hypothesis with evidence, it is your brain providing a ‘feeling'(a measurable one) that enables you to put faith into performing another supporting experiment, or creating a theory that explains the observation you made initially.

      The stuff that you believe without question are stuff that more scientific minds should want scientific evidence for.

      What stuff is that? I am fully against belief without question. And, if truth (from any source) manifests itself it should be applied, not ignored. I wouldn’t be here if I had belief without question 🙂

      • articulett
        Posted July 9, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        You said:

        As much as some of the commentors here despise religion…science in itself is one of them. Granted, rooted in much a very different foundation. Both attempt to make sense of reality and human experience, and neither can answer the questions demanded by the other.

        I am not saying that ‘religion’ is the answer, but that answers come from both domains, material and existential.

        You started with a slimy straw man– I don’t think people hate religion any more than they hate voo-doo or cults (and for the same reasons). You just wanted to make that point so you could feel your position is “moderate”. You then called science another religion and your following explanations weren’t valid. So this is one of your silly beliefs I was referring to –along with you unsupported opinion that people here hate religion. Some scientists are rationalists or materialists if that is what you mean by things that “influence decisions and actions “. (Rationalists don’t believe magic is an acceptable answer to anything including the creation of the universe). However you are very confused, as many theists are, to imagine atheism is influential on actions. It isn’t. It’s a lack of belief. People are motivated by the things they DO believe in– not the infinity of invisible magical beings they don’t believe in. Non Scientologists are not motivated by their non-Scientology while Scientologists ARE motivated by their Scientology. Theists are motivated by the supposed wants of the invisible being they believe in… atheists don’t believe in those invisible beings. Many, many religious people are confused (like you) about atheism. It is no more or less influential than your lack of belief in demons (I’m assuming you don’t believe in demons) or Thor. Really. All murderous regimes were non-Scienotologists… therefore (per your reasoning) non Scientology is what influenced them to be murderous. Repeating your misunderstandings about atheism over and over doesn’t make them true. It doesn’t make it moral either (though I’m sure each religious believer imagines that believers in their religion are the most moral people of all– no matter harm their beliefs cause.)

        And finally you indicated that religions provides answers. That’s another one ofyour unsupported belief. Religion makes up answers. It doesn’t provide any verifiable answers. There is no way to tell a right answer from a wrong answer. Religions contradict one another. Their inspired texts contradict themselves! You may be a crappy person without your religious beliefs, but whatever great answers you think it’s given you, sure aren’t evident in your comments.

        Did you read Jerry’s post? So how does Kenton Sparks “make sense of reality and human experience” and “answer the questions demanded” (the quotes are your garbled words about what religion supposedly can do).

        It’s fine to BELIEVE whatever you believe just like it’s fine to believe all the nuttery of Kenton Sparks. But is there any truth there? Anything said that is supported by evidence? Anything useful for gaining more knowledge?

        It’s your own words that make you sound like… well like Kent Sparks. So don’t be surprised if rationalists have similar responses. Your rationalizations plus smiley faces may make religion and science perfectly compatible to you, but it relies on false premises, logical fallacies, and confirmation bias. I don’t think anyone here agrees with the quoted comments of yours despite your continual attempts at rationalizing and using the very same nutty straw men that we’ve heard so many times before. I guess that’s the best you can do when there is no evidence to support your belief that science and religion are perfectly compatible. That was your point, wasn’t it? It is hard to tell amidst your logical fallacies and silly opinions asserted as fact.

        Look, I’m probably being overly harsh on you because you came off as a jerk in your first comment for the reasons I’ve indicated. Plus, you have the same false beliefs about science and atheism that so many theists seem to have (also delineated above.) It gets old to us. Maybe one day you’ll be a rationalist and understand how you sound to those of us who have heard this silliness hundreds of times. You don’t see your biases, but they are glaring to us. Most of us used to be believers and used to rationalize our beliefs using similar logical fallacies I’m sure. Some of us would have been thankful to have a “strident” response set us on the path towards logical thought even sooner so we didn’t waste years trying to rationalize lies.

        Faith and feelings are not paths towards the truth though they can make people feel special, saved, and full of divine knowledge. Rationalizing Christianity with science cannot make the supernatural beliefs of Christianity (or any other religion) true… or even good.

        • articulett
          Posted July 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          FYI, atheists don’t hate religion any more than theists hate religions they don’t believe in. I suspect I feel the same way about your religion (whatever it may be), Schinizel, that you feel about Scientologists, Moonies,Wiccans, etc. Do you “despise” them? Do you understand why it would be a straw man if I just assumed you did? That’s what you did in your opening sentence here.

          I think you guys tell yourself that we hate religion so that you can keep imagining that your supernatural beliefs are more likely to be true than the beliefs of other religions you find silly.

          Plus, this straw man feeds into the idea that you are a martyr for your faith instead of just a gullible git like those believers in those other religions that you dismiss so readily. It bothers you that we dismiss your beliefs as casually as you dismiss those others because in your mind you think your beliefs are more worthy of respect. When it comes to scientific evidence, however, they are not.

          That’s what Kenton Sparks blither is all about. And that’s what most justification for supernatural beliefs sounds like to me. This is why I don’t think faith based beliefs and evidence based beliefs (religion and science respectively) are compatible.

          Just because you imagine that there are “higher truths” that you can reach through mystical endeavors, doesn’t make it so.

          • schinizel
            Posted July 10, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

            So if I follow you correctly my first post is a straw man because I made a general statement about “some” of the comments(ors) I read as having a slight toward being opposed to religion? That seems like a big jump. Did you read through all the comments? Certainly you have to agree that some of them do (I said “some”) I don’t think I ever said or indicated atheists hate religion. As a matter of fact, i used the word ‘science’, not atheism. And even if unintentionally indicated it did, I am having a hard time grasping how it is related to the primary reason for my first post, that as it functions, can be considered a type of religion. My only reason for even mentioning atheism 3 posts later was in the context of it as another world view of many, and it was done in a manner that agrees with everything you just wrote about. That atheism (or any worldview)adopted by a person does not necessarily make the behavior of that person or groups of people justified (e.g. Nazis)

            I think we are getting hung up on semantics, I don’t equate science with religion. If science finds that through an evolutionary mechanism our capacity to love each other manifested biologically, and a religion holds to the practice “loving their neighbor” do both not answer the same question? Does it not support the statement I made?

            I don’t want to droll on about how one is rooted in fact or the other in invisible beings (if that’s what god even is), that was not the point of the post. There are plenty of other threads online for that.

            btw, I actually didn’t read the post, I didn’t need to. As I stated, I was only commenting on an observed pattern through a series of comments I saw here. I stumbled on from the Dawkins site (here it comes….wait for it…:) )

            I’ll go read it now though, sounds like it might be interesting.


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