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ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN

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ORIGINS: UNIVERSE, LIFE, HUMANKIND, AND DARWIN

We debate origins of the Universe, life, Earth, humans, religion, atheism, using common sense, evolution, cosmology, geology, archaeology, and other sciences, to repel biblical creationism and other religious beliefs.

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The portrait is Charles Darwin, age 31, in 1840

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Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on February 6, 2009 at 4:45am
Don, Marc Draco, Alex Donovan, Richard Thomas: You have all written very well indeed on what faith really means. Thank you.
Alex Donovan, your essay-like answer is brilliant.
I now wish that a named discussion topic--called, say, ORIGINS OF FAITH--had been running.
If anyone wants to start such a topic, and transfer comments or repeat comments there, please do so.
Comment by Richard Thomas on February 6, 2009 at 12:54am
Claudia M. Mazzucco writes
"This conception of Faith as the gift or ability to believe in something that is not provable is difficult to be understood by the atheist’s mind but it is sufficiently manifest in the large number of scientific theories which are based in quantum mechanic."

I have no problem if you wish to believe in something that is not provable. What is difficult for myself is to understand by what means you come to belive in something unprovable ine the first place. In other words precisely what convinced you of the existence for which there is no evidence in the first place?

And since I have read up on quantum mechanics I would be delighted to hear just what you find manifest in quantum mechanics that supports the item you have already declared to be unprovable.
Since quantum mechanics is a manifestation of the physical world and a measurable quantity it hardly qualifies as being "unprovable".

So please do present the arguements that quantum mechanics provides to your assertions.


"Faith is thought by Father Steven Pavignano, a Franciscan Friar, as “the highest level of trust.” Even as atheist we trust that somewhere there is the theory that could explain everything, that carries the secrets of the universe (and God) in a mathematical equation. This is an “Atheist Faith,” one part intuition and one part the sense of a necessary order in a chaotic world."

It is hardly a matter of trust that drives science toward a possible theoryy of everything since we do not know if such a thing actually exists. Perhaps we will be undone by the structure and laws of the universe itself and never come to a complete understanding.
For science this is no problem because it merely follows in trying to describe what it is that we do observe. We may well never know how it all works and be only able to make educated guesses.
However, science does eliminate possible scenarios with the acquisition of knowledge but science is never certain.
Only religions have the arrogance to claim to know things for which there is no evidence and, indeed, is the reason for faith in fist place.

"The fact that faith makes you believe in a “Man-who-knows-everything” (God) is, indeed, a by-product of this mental capability to know – not to believe – that which is not provable."

Ok exactly how do you know that which is not provable? f you know something it is a given that you must be able to demonstrate that knowledge in some way. If I say that I love my wife I cannot prove it to you in terms of my emotional feelings being directly felt by you,however, I can have you observe my wife and I interacting and thereby demonstrate to you that I do love her.{ Assuming of course that we agree on what love is by definition first}

So can you demonstrate the God that defines your faith as well?
Comment by Marc Draco on February 5, 2009 at 3:58pm
As though experiment, so would I, but this is the interesting psychology, we have pretty indisputable evidence that life evolved (and a lot of other "proofs") - yet millions still think Goddit; and worse, think we're wrong just as we do them.
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on February 5, 2009 at 3:56pm
"clinching indisputable evidence of a god (any god) or even an afterlife, how many of us would refuse to see the evidence.>

Well, I for one would accept "clinching indisputable evidence" if it appeared. That is what scientists do.
But I am a strong-minded atheist because there has never been any sign of any evidence, let along "clinching indisputable evidence".
Comment by Marc Draco on February 5, 2009 at 3:31pm
Right on Don. I haven't read Harris on this but I agree that he sums faith up rather well. I'm having a fascinating debate with a "believer" over email and so far we've not had a cross word: which is amazing considering how these people often behave. I always think (and have even seen) that faith is a universal get out of jail free. I've a blog post on Gary Graham (of some Star Trek and JAG fame) is crying about abortion being murder and then admits to funding THREE! He's apparently got a conscience now but reading between the lines, it looks more like a failing actor trying for some adoration... which he's getting.

It's quite sickening to have such double-standards.

I can't imagine a theory of everything. Douglas Adams and I independently concurred on this but he put it rather better... I won't spoil this for everyone else though by explaining his view.

Psychologically though (in my book) I'm discussing the possibility that some people are genuinely unable to become atheists because years of programming won't let them.

This lady in my current email debate is a classic example - she just cannot see the arguments even when you spell them out for her. It's like she filters out everything that doesn't agree with what she's been told.

This is interesting, because I'd love to know if we're capable of doing the same thing.

For instance, if we suddenly got, clinching indisputable evidence of a god (any god) or even an afterlife, how many of us would refuse to see the evidence.

Of course, I'm being hypothetical, but it's an interesting thought experiment, don't you agree?
Comment by Dane Eidson on January 30, 2009 at 12:05pm
I book marked this site. It looks very interesting. I appreciate you informing me about it. Thanks for the invite and I am glad that I joined!
Comment by Richard Thomas on January 28, 2009 at 12:04am
As a newbie here I wish to tred carefully to avoid seeming to be too harsh about a subject since I have not fully followed the arguements presented.
But if I I may ask Claudia in her post here she states "In other words, Christianity can be a true religion, if it is a religion that centers on believing faith.

I wish to have her clarify just what the definition of faith is in this context so that I may correctly aware of the meaning of this sentence.
My aplogies for asking what may seem a self evident thing to you but I am sincerely wondering.
Comment by Marc Draco on January 27, 2009 at 11:49am
Claudia,

I am well aware of the view that atheism and theism are opposing sides of the same coin - the construction of the word atheism is indicative of a negative; cp. systolic and asystolic.

We can also compare deist/deism and theist/theism (both rooted similarly from Greek theos [god] and Latin deus [god] respectively). The theists (Christians, Muslims, etc.) think that their God pokes "his" nose into our affairs; the deists think that "god" created everything yet takes no interest; ironically, although this idea is no longer popular, it is closer to describing what we know: if we call the creation event, i.e. Big Bang, "god".

I fear I am unable to follow your argument from Barth's perspective - it reads like a typical self-referential theological parody that masks the void argument.

Beisdes, why should I care what Barth thinks? He operates from the perspective of a theist - one who has accepted Jesus as historical fact - and that makes him closed-minded, as this quote illustrates:

Though Barth made it possible for theologians again to take the Bible seriously, American evangelicals have been skeptical of Barth because he refused to consider the written Word "infallible" (he believed only Jesus was). Others gave up on Barth's theology because it overemphasized God's transcendance (to the point that some former Barthians began championing the "death of God").


While I strive not to be dismissive, it's difficult to see things through the eyes of the closed-minded, regardless of how cognisant the argument appears. Just because Barth was popular among his peers, doesn't make him right.

Marc
Comment by Marc Draco on January 26, 2009 at 7:18pm
No apology warranted - I do seem to get mistaken for other people though and that needles me. On the contrary, it is I who owes you an apology for being rather rude in the first instance; I wasn't entirely in balance and could have been less brusque.

You answered your own question, Claudia, when you state: "Pope Benedict XVI, who is widely considered, even by secular philosophers, to be one of the greatest theologian of Catholicism, is mistaken?"

The key is in the bit "theologian of Catholicism" - he is far less of a scientist than I am yet feels able to reach conclusions in fields as diverse as psychology and biology. As a theologian he is schooled in belief from the singular point of view that a monothestic God (as he sees it) is a masculine creator of all things.

More pointedly, if an expert knows more and more about less and less, the ultimate conclusion of his argument results in the Goddit gambit.

For a simpler proof (excuse my lack of cogent argument, it's late here) you might consider Pascal's Wager which is still used widely today (the Alpha Course is a good example) despite being thoroughly discredited.

Marc - (Draco is my surname)
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on January 26, 2009 at 8:11am
To Susan Lacroix
Thank you Susan.
This suggestion as to what may have happened before the Big Bang I simplified from the proposals of a major physicist Prof. Vic Stenger.
It is based on his thinking that uses currently-known quantum physics to suggest an answer. I sent my summary to him for him to check out, which he did. I expect other theoretical physicists to propose other answers as the century unfolds but this one is a good logical start ibecause of its use of existing knowledge of physics.
 

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