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Bernard White

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Does creationism indicate bad education? (If so how can we fix this, and should it be taught?) Does Creationism have any credibility to it?

I started this debate, with a new aspect (or perspective) on our current education problem. Considering many focus on how to motivate students and various other aspects. Yet this (creationism) still remains a big problem to the American education system today, and I don't think many people think about this when they consider the education system today.

I feel I should have probably made this clearer, when I say creationism, I am making reference to the type of creationism which tell people "Evolution is wrong". (Or in other words the "Creationism vs Evolution" debate).

Creationism - http://www.creationism.org/
Does it have any credibility to it? Should it be considered a science?
Considering due to recent polls 46% of American believe in creationism.
Link :
- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/americans-believe-in-creationism_n_1571127.html

Many psychological studies have shown a strong correlation between a lack of education and creationism. These studies indicate that not many creationists actually understand what the scientific method is.
With all this talk of how to "improve education" surely it would be wise, to finally finish the "Creationism vs Evolution" debate, if we wish to ensure a better scientific education!
Watch this 3 minute link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTedvV6oZjo (By Lawrence Krauss)

Here are some reasons, people believe creationism should be taught in schools, which I believe are false :
http://listverse.com/2013/02/07/10-reasons-creationism-should-be-taught-in-school/
Considering, if the polls are to be believed, 46% of Americans are missing out (in my opinion) on a proper scientific education.

I think it is worth mentioning though, that I am fine with "Theistic evolution".
A good book recommendation on this matter is "Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution" by Kenneth R. Miller. I personally have never understood the claim "Atheism = Evolution"...

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  • Jun 4 2013: The reason that people who argue for teaching creationism (or intelligent design which is the same thing) are wrong is because faith cannot answer questions of science, and science cannot answer questions of faith.

    In science, if you cannot test your hypothesis and show it to be wrong, then you cannot use that as a hypothesis. In faith though, any faith, there are many untestable hypotheses.

    The simplest example is the question why is the sky blue? If your hypothesis is that God made it that way- then you cannot test that, and therefore it is not science. It may be right or wrong but we don't "know."

    If your hypothesis is that the sky is blue because it is reflecting the ocean (the guess I hear most often from my students- which, it turns out isn't the reason- look it up! :-) then you can test that and it is a good scientific hypothesis.

    This also speaks to the nature of science which can be confusing. That is, in science we say that nothing really can ever be proven true! Evolution is just a theory- but so is gravity! The only "laws" are those mathematical equations such as F = MA that are based on physics.

    So, if there was ever any evidence that the theory of evolution was wrong (just ONE fossil out of order for example) then scientists would have to research another explanation. In the same way, if any evidence ever appeared that our understanding of gravity was wrong, then scientists would have to get busy.

    However, over a long period of time, all of our observations of these two phenomena have lead to the current conclusions- across many centuries and many cultures etc... That is how science works. Sometimes it takes a while for a consensus to be reached- think of the Copernican revolution for example, but eventually once many scientists have seen the evidence, the current theory takes shape.

    It is important not to discount right away dissenting voices- our history shows that many times, the evidence for their claims was there. If not, ignore them.
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      Jun 4 2013: The reason, I believe, science and intelligent design do not contradict each other is that we can explain why the sky is blue, how species evolved, or whatever else we can or want to explain, and still say "God made it that way". But "God made it that way" is not a scientific explanation.
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        Jun 4 2013: Arkady, (I hope you don't mind me asking) do you believe that a God (or spirit of any kind) exists? Sorry, because I can not honestly remember! (I have a very bad memory!) I just want to know. :D
        Regards,
        Bernard.
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          Jun 4 2013: I can't give a simple answer. I've recently watched this video

          http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL02CEFC90145D6D22

          It explains quite well why certain things cannot be explained in a logical way using words. Words are symbols. Symbols are meaningful only when they are connected to something else. When we ask "does tree exist?" What do we mean by that? It's impossible to answer without context. It can mean a specific plant, a general kind of plants, or we can refer to a structure with "branches" stemming from a "trunk" (e.g. a tree of biological species). Now, what does it mean "to exist"? We can't literally "see" the tree of biological species. It exists only as an idea. It doesn't mean that it's not "real" or "does not exist".

          If "God" means a bearded old man in the sky with a stern look watching our every step who, supposedly, created us "from dust" and will judge our deeds - no. I don't believe such old man in the sky exists.

          If "God" and "spirit" refers to a principle that drives existence and our life - yes. I believe, such principle exists.
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          Jun 4 2013: I think, Alan Watts video does an excellent job demonstrating why life and universe as a whole cannot be explained in words in a sequential manner as in "A came from B". Attempts to understand life and universe as a sequence of causes and effects lead to the "chicken-and-egg" argument which has no answer or logic. Everyone knows and understand that eggs grow inside a chicken, and chickens develop from eggs. They grow together, from inside each other - from within "self". The growth of life, growth of ripples on the water, and the expansion of universe is the same process governed by the same principle. If I ask you, where a circular ripple on the water starts, the obvious answer is that a ripple starts from its center. You will not find where a ripple starts by going around the ripple - from the chicken to the egg, back and forth. You will not find it going from one ripple to the next either - all ripples are alike. Each ripple moves on, raising ripples in front and ripples behind. The principle that caused the ripples is in the center of them, but it's not the part of the ripples.

          I cannot explain it with words arranged in sentences. "Those who know, don't tell; and those who tell don't know". If you understand what I'm talking about, it would be enough for me to draw an image of ripples on the water with no explanation. I believe, this elusive "self" which is in the center of everything is God (I am who I am). So, it's ultimately useless to discuss whether matter comes from spirit or spirit comes from matter, whether we need faith to find knowledge or we need knowledge to believe, whether we have free will to choose our experiences or whether our choices are predetermined by our past experiences. We are looking at ripples spreading from the center. What's in the center? "Self". What is "self"? It's "self" - that's it.

          I love the new animation that they use in front of all TED videos now.
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          Jun 4 2013: And, if anyone thinks he understands how ripples from a drop of water are formed, watch this.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9wnmRa-Nrg

          or this

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPLJ9qwfO9U

          Notice how a drop creates ripples, and ripples create a new drop. What causes what? Chicken and egg again.

          There are, perhaps, hundreds of slow-motion videos of ripples from a drop of water, some are accompanied by the kind of music used in churches, and some - by "spiritual" messages from all kinds of religions. How do people make these connections and associations? In a "metaphoric" or "spiritual" sense, this drop of water causes "ripples" in our minds and our words cause "ripples" in the minds of other people.
        • Jun 5 2013: Arkady,

          I feel like they explained the phenomon of the water droplet forming pretty well in the first youtube video you gave us?! What is your question?

          They said it was a layer of air that holds the droplet up, and is slowly pushed out from between the droplet and the water. Tthen, because the mixing of the droplet and the water happens so fast- some gets pinched off (the new, smaller droplet). After that, the surface tension of the water holds the new droplet up until the new layer of air is pushed out from inbetween them. This process repeats until the droplet is small enough to be completely absorbed.
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          Jun 13 2013: Austin,

          Re: "I feel like they explained the phenomon of the water droplet forming pretty well in the first youtube video you gave us?! What is your question? "

          They feel that way too. When we see something, we feel that we understand it and can explain it. Once these scientists got this fancy camera in their hands and "saw" it, immediately, there is a theory in their head explaining it and the scientist who saw it first can look smart on the video and explain this and that. But did the scientist have any idea of this droplet bouncing back and forth before he saw it? I have a feeling that seeing this droplet bouncing over 4 times on the water within a fraction of a second was a complete surprise. And I'm sure, if they look at it under 10,000x magnification or slow down the time 1000 times more they would see something they have no idea about.

          Do you understand what "understanding" means? You can say, you do, and it may be so. But there is no logic or explanation. There is nothing but reference to "self" again.
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      Jun 8 2013: "You and my faith half agree on a lot of this, and you and my science half disagree."

      Not to sound arrogant and condescending, but let me make this observation: One man's "faith" is another man's fact.

      My argument is anecdotal, based on personal experience, and not "faith." I don't expect you, or another not so disposed, to agree with my experience, but my knowledge of life and the unseen reality that buttress it is unshakable.

      "Ideas are not necessary for life. Saying the purpose of life is life itself is begging the question with an invalid premise."

      Value it or not, the Source of life is Life, the substance of life is Life, the outcome of life is Life, the reason for life is Life (or we wouldn't see so much of it, at least on this planet), and when I continue Life after my physical body ceases to be, Life will still define, and sustain me.

      For my part, I don't see science as a friend, but I'm not at war with it either, not in ways that are obvious. Ignorance and laziness was, and is, so many impediments to spiritual growth (the source of real power and dominion), and science continues to usurp that power by insisting that man and the universe are essentially, if not wholly, physical.

      I fault religions, more than science, for not entering the Kingdom, and for not allowing mankind to enter the Kingdom when it sought the kingdom, although these religions held the keys.

      I don't seek to reconcile science with religion as I don't think the two intercept, but are irreconcilable and antagonistic one toward the other, with religion designating God (Spirit) as the Source of all we see, while science elevates matter and enshrines empiricism as the way to understand life, our world, and our universe, including those physical mechanisms that seem to drive it.

      I hate being an alarmist, but this world is at a crossroads. We'll lose if we travel the road we're taking, where our focus is turned outward, rather than inward, and we choose to not go within, but to go without
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    May 28 2013: I would be interested to know what percentage of Americans understand the science behind evolution.

    The most important premise behind any debate such as this one is that all questions must be honest. In other words, each participant must be prepared to change their views/back down if their questions are answered to their satisfaction.

    Personally, I think that it is more scientific to teach the widest scope of theories to do with the origin of the universe in schools as possible, as it is impossible to prove any one view. It is surely unscientific to limit teaching material to one view or interpretation of evidence. Thus, I would say that teaching creationism in schools is not a problem, (not that it is taught widely anyway), but it should be presented as a theory just as anything else on the topic of origins should be.

    To those other Christians engaging in heated debate, I would remind them that arguing about creationism is not the way to convince people to join their religion. Also, while Christianity is certainly not un-supported by historical and scientific evidence, it deals mostly in matters of the heart. Creationism should not become the central issue determining the credibility of our faith.
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      Jun 4 2013: Yes that would be very interesting to find out! :D
  • May 15 2013: Creationism as in "creationism versus evolution" is clearly wrong. It is far from being science. The kind of creationism that pretends that there was really a global flood and that the planet is just 6000 or so years old is the worst in terms of how ignorant and miseducated people have to be in order to believe such things. The conflict between that kind of creationism and the most basic science is overwhelming, and thus reflects horrendous ignorance and miseducation.

    However, I doubt that we can educate people well enough that a majority became able to see the problems with that kind of creationism. I still think that it is worth trying to educate people as well as possible. Our future as humanity depends enormously on having scientifically literate people.
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    Jun 12 2013: As this conversation gets to the end... and reading most of these comments, I am still not convinced that the teaching of creationism hasn't any appreciable effect on the educational crisis is public schools. Considering the the vast majority if not all public schools do not teach these subjects. Public school education is failing without the help of religious beliefs. Private and parochial school are doing better in teaching according to most measures.

    As far as creditably goes, like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder....

    Good run, Bernie
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      Jun 12 2013: I agree! :-) Thanks for your comment! :D
      I do sometimes wonder myself whether certain statistics are to be trusted, like according to some polls (as cited) roughly 50% of Americans are meant to be creationists (and the statistic which claims 70% of people in the world believe in some Deity). This isn't that surprising to me, considering we are intuitive (or inherent) creationists (Evolutionary thinking doesn't come naturally). However according to another poll, more people believe in the Devil (60%) and hell (61%) than in evolution. While it is worrying that 42% believe in Ghosts and 32% believe in UFO's! Very worrying!
      Yet I do think there is enough data to suggest that creation is correlated (I would be inclined to argue causation) with a poor level of a scientific education. I strongly believe that science shouldn't really be democratic, in the way of "teaching of controversy". (Not to say people shouldn't be allowed freedom of speech, or be allowed to pose opposing theories!)
      Regards (as always),
      Bernard.
      P.S: I was really enjoying your TED Conversation! It does seem quite an important issue. If you don't mind me asking (honestly), have I ever insulted you? (I hope not!) Personally I'v always wondered why so many people are intolerant (and cruel) to eachother on Youtube, while on TED everybody is so respectful!
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        Jun 12 2013: Thanks Bernie,
        No, there has only been a very few times that I felt a phrase in response to me was a little over the top. But, I have seen some real zingers out there in the few months I have been on TED. I think some do not respond well to challenges to their point of view. So it is. Maybe, my talk will remind people that harsh speech doesn't really win many arguments and refrain from that sort of language.
        You got a point on polls. I saw some really questionable out there during our last elections.
        I have a couple of kids who are educators. One in Math and one in History/Civics. They have both told me that college level scientist do not go into teaching. The money is in Industry. So, if you have a class in college chemistry, you can be hired as a science teacher for high school. I said a class. Or course, you will also have biology and physics classes. This is more likely then the fact the Johnny doesn't know about the sciences because he heard about the Garden of Eden last Sunday.
        Moreover, teachers are not really teaching any more. They are educational facilitators.
        They handout workbooks addressing the state exams and answer any questions the student may have about the workbooks. They grade the workbooks and return to the student with explanations of how he may do better. They proctor the state exams, hoping their students do well as their jobs depend on it.
        So, then US is way behind the world in Math and Science... we don't do well in language arts either.
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        Jun 13 2013: "While it is worrying that 42% believe in Ghosts and 32% believe in UFO's! Very worrying!"

        Bernard, thanks for the conversation and the topic that generated so many disparate comments, and points of view.

        What should "worry" you about beliefs in Ghosts and UFOs is not that people are somehow inept thinkers, gullible, or irrational, but that the significantly high number of beliefs suggests the plenitude of encountered apparitions and UFO events that gave rise to these numbers.

        These beliefs generally have a basis in people's experiences, whether you believe them to be credible or not.

        The History Channel has run a program titled, "I Know What I Saw." I believe that it's about 5 segments long, and can be seen on YouTube. See link below. Regarding UFO sightings, many notables, including President Jimmy Carter, have claimed to have seen a UFO.

        One parting word: Were you privy to all that's occurring on this planet, you'd be amazed, and then amazed again.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hLtFNyhaUo
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    Jun 8 2013: Bernard,

    I'm going to answer as many aspects of your title and explanation as I can in this post.

    Firstly "Does creationism indicate bad education? (If so how can we fix this, and should it be taught?) Does Creationism have any credibility to it?"

    Yes, creationism indicated and builds on bad education, a simple comparison of the atheistic vs religious academia will strongly support this. It can be fixed by removing it and therefore it should not be thought (in the manner it is, it should be taught along side all the other creation myths). And no, it has no credibility whatsoever except for those who already find it in religious scriptures.

    I have always considered religious pseudoscience to be a great problem for any education system, naturally thinking about the US first as you are predominant in this aspect in the west.

    Your point is clear to me, even without explaining it.

    It has no credibility to it. It should most definitely NOT be considered a science because it isn't a science! Science follows the scientific method, creation does not. 46% of your population is dead wrong, even more seem to believe in ghosts, I wouldn't be surprised if we find that a majority of Americans believe in unicorns soon enough... Although I would hope that they realize that there is nothing backing the claim that unicorns exist and that science doesn't have to prove to them that unicorn doesn't exist for them to stop believing (as is the current case with God).

    I have not encountered A SINGLE creationist (And through the years I've met many) that understood the scientific method. And there is definitely a correlation between religiousness and education. Basically the dumber you are the higher are the odds of you being religious.

    There's no way that you're going to "finally finish the "Creationism vs Evolution" debate" here... but thanks for doing your part in making people smarter, asking questions is all it takes.

    I'm out of characters now...
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    Jun 4 2013: Never ever should creationism be taught to kids. It is purely belief, regardless of how many people believe in it. In fact the only the poll of nearly 50% of americans believing in it makes me think that other countries truly have valid credibility to label us as the "stupid americans." if you want to study religion, do it on your own time but do not waste your beliefs on the future of a generation. Kids only believe in a God solely because they learn the bible before they learn science. It is sickening to me that people can sanely approve of beliefs being taught in a classroom that demands proof. Children are curious. If we block their knowledge with religion, which we have done forever, creativity is dampened and open mindedness is lost. do not teach what we hopelessly want to know. teach what we do know.
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      Jun 4 2013: Such surety in your position. A belief in a Divine Being is shared world wide. So, if I follow your logic, much of the great civilizations, art and science in human history were accomplished by "stupid" people.
      Further, religion doesn't demand proof, it demands faith.
      In the end, I am willing to wager that in your own ancestry, I could find some that held a strong belief in religion.
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      Jun 4 2013: Brendan,

      Americans believe in democracy, individual freedom, and human rights. Do you know of any scientific evidence on which such beliefs are based? What is the evidence that proves that any human has the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (or any other right for that matter)? I don't know of such evidence. These are moral beliefs. They are not scientific beliefs. These beliefs represent an ideology.

      Is it stupid to believe in human rights without evidence? Should we teach the subject of human rights to children at school? Isn't it "indoctrination" to teach these things to children at school so that they grow up and go to wars with countries where people have different beliefs?

      Not everything demands proof. Certain situations in life demand other things - compassion, forgiveness, trust, etc. That's what people refer to as "spiritual area of our life". Science does not help much there.
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      Jun 4 2013: I've heard this buzz-phrase in a commercial this morning "Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care". Shall we teach kids to "know" or shall we teach kids to "care"? Kids won't learn unless they "care" (have a passion) for something.

      "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them." -- David Hume.

      I think, teaching children "to care" is more important than teaching them "to know". If hey care, they will learn on their own. What things should children "care" for? There is no scientific answer for that. This is a question of worldview, belief systems, moral principles, etc. Whether we want it or not, we teach these things to children. It's not a question "if we should teach belief systems to children", the question is "how we should teach".
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        Jun 5 2013: Yes, i got a bit defensive and sure of myself. That's probably what i get for arguing at 4 am while sleep deprived. I am just not ok with teaching kids things that don't necessarily apply to everyone in the classroom. Some may believe in God, while others do not, so to find a happy medium, i would say make it a selective course not mandatory. Similar to evolution, evolution should not be taught to people who don't believe in it. Respectfully, beliefs should be the foundation of education, and not wasting kids' time with things they don't even believe in. I guess my problem at heart is America's screwed up education system. Kids all have to learn things regardless of whether they want to, and it should be selective. If they grow up with religion, then yes, they should learn it. If they don't then they shouldn't. However it just should not be taught to everyone, resulting in a waste of some kids' time. (same with evolution)
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          Jun 5 2013: Perhaps, a few mandatory courses wouldn't hurt, but I agree, creationism shouldn't be one of them.

          I love it when people get humble and admit that I am right. It makes me so proud of myself! :-D
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        Jun 5 2013: it's just that if creationism is going to be mandatory then evolution should be as well. Creationism is always talked about in my classrooms and then evolution is like the vocal taboo. It's just stupid to me, and both should be on par.
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          Jun 5 2013: Then, your attitude is understandable. Are you talking about a public school? Is it taught as a "scientific theory" in a science class?

          Here, in Oregon, in public schools people never even mention Christmas - it's all euphemisms - "Winter Holidays" and "Season's greetings". I don't like it either. I have 3 kids in schools and I don't think they teach creationism here. I myself went to school in Ukraine.

          Is there statistics in how many states they teach creationism in biology class in public schools?

          What would happen if you voice your opinion in class against teaching creationism as science? Has anyone raised this issue to the school board or the state government?
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        Jun 5 2013: thats really interesting to me. around here, christmas is the only holiday ever mentioned. our teachers openly talk about their beliefs on creationism but discussion and teaching of evolution is banned. its unreasonable to me and yes, it is a public school. As far as I am aware declaring belief in evolution in the classroom is just brushed aside and its a real shame. I want to learn about it and I can't because of the school's rules. Raising the issue to a 100% catholic school board will have pitiful results. As for the government, Illinois is already in enough trouble with laying off teachers and whatnot. Bottom line, no (humane) subject should be banned. Some schools teach evolution and ban creationism. As for the rest, we have the opposite.

        I like the insight you provided though. The amount of biased opinion around here is ridiculous. I don't know Ukraine does it, but I'm sure its better. We offer a bible school, and relgion class, but evolution is banned. its unfair to kids.
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          Jun 5 2013: Apparently, not all states in the U.S. are equal in this respect. As for learning about evolution, "The Origin of Species" is online. There are tons of books around. Schools can't teach everything anyway.

          Ukraine has other issues, with education and otherwise. Quite honestly, everyone is bashing education in the U.S. - that we teach kids the way we did it 50 years ago. It's not true. It's not all that bad. I am thinking to start a discussion here on TED to say some good things about education in the U.S.
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    May 24 2013: In my opinion, evolution does not contradict creationism at all.

    Science, in general, and evolution, in particular, answer the question "how?" rather than "why?". "Why?" is a human question. It's a question of purpose and motivation which material universe lacks.

    Creationism, on the other hand, is, mostly concerned with "why?" rather than "how?". It's a religious question. I don't think, it can be taught without teaching religion, and teaching religion in public schools is wrong. In my opinion, it's like teaching about hurricanes in a science class and asking a question "why did innocent children had to die in Oklahoma?". That's not a scientific question.
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      May 24 2013: I have heard a very different story my friend.
      One which involved God not just being the 'why', yet god also being the 'how'.
      That is what 'creationism' is as I define it.
      Out of interest why do you view teaching religion is wrong? I can accept teaching creationism (in a science class) is wrong, Yet find religion harder to accept.
      Considering there are many religions (some old which included old Gods like the Ancient Greek Gods, and some new which include monotheistic Gods).
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        May 24 2013: Miracles are called miracles because they have no explanations and go beyond our everyday experience. Once we have an explanation "how" something happens, it becomes science. Do you have an example where the Bible explains the "how" in the creation story?

        I did not say that teaching religion is wrong in general. Everything has its time and place. Ecclesiastes is my favorite book in the Bible.

        I believe, we need to have a clear understanding of what things are and what they are not. Otherwise, we get confused. Religion is NOT science. Religion should not pretend to answer scientific questions. Science does NOT answer religious or philosophical questions. These disciplines should not be mixed into a hodgepodge in the same class. I think, it's important to teach children to tell the difference between a scientific knowledge and religious belief. But this is a philosophical question, not a scientific one. It belongs in a philosophy class.

        I also believe, it is wrong to force religious or ideological opinions and beliefs onto each other. This seems to be the cause of most of the modern social tensions. This is why religion needs to be kept out of politics.

        As far as teaching religion in public schools goes, I think, it's important to teach children ABOUT religion in humanities classes. But public schools should not impose religious beliefs on children. This is what I meant when I said that "teaching religion in public schools is wrong". I see a difference between "teaching religion" and "teaching about religion". I'm sorry I didn't make it clear.
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          May 24 2013: Oh right.
          I agree with you then! :-)
          However I do think certain lessons religions teach should be encouraged! (E.G. Compassion and forgiveness.)
          Have you watched the TED talk :
          Atheism 2.0?
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        May 24 2013: Re: "However I do think certain lessons religions teach should be encouraged!"

        Definitely so. I think, religion is a very powerful thing. Perhaps, it's the most powerful of social institutions. It's just silly to label it "bad" or "harmful". It can be used for a great good or a great evil. It needs to be studied and used with caution and safety measures to the benefit of society. I disagree with those who label it as "bad" or "harmful" and advise to get rid of it.

        I like Atheism 2.0 talk. It's nice to hear an atheist say good things about religion. I view religion as a foundation of culture. All cultures are built on some irrational beliefs (mythology, if you will). Americans, for instance, believe in liberty, democracy, human rights, etc. There are myths and rituals surrounding these beliefs. Soviet Union had beliefs, mythology, and rituals around the doctrine of Marxism. I'd say, these things are a form of religion. They define nations. Take these beliefs, myths, and rituals away - and you will destroy a nation or a whole culture.
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        May 24 2013: Thanks for the links. I'll watch them when I have time. I'm sure, there are multiple ways of looking at any religion. This applies to most other things. Take money. What is it? Paper? Pieces of metal? A number? Exchange medium? To some people money means power, to others - freedom and happiness, to some - slavery and suffering. It's all of these things and all these things are in our head only. People choose to see the side that has emotional appeal to them. In the same way, some people view religion as the source of joy, love, peace spiritual freedom; others use it to justify violence and oppression; while some tend to blame all evil in the world on it. None of this is "rational" yet, everyone has plenty of reasoning to back up their position.

        My position is - believe what you want to believe. Don't believe what you don't want to believe. But don't force others to believe what you believe. Persuade - perhaps. Evidence is just one mean of persuasion. There are plenty of others - appeal to emotion, rhetoric, etc. But forcing others to accept beliefs through legislation, brainwashing, wars, or acts of terror isn't cool. I will say this to an Islamic fundamentalist, a Christian right-wing conservative, a New Atheist, and to anyone in between.

        This is my belief which I would like to force onto everyone :-).
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        May 24 2013: "Science revealed", mind you.

        I don't see much of the "how" in statements like "And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light." It does not say where the light came from, how bright it was, what color it was. It does not say how this light could be seen or detected - there was nothing yet to reflect or absorb this light. It simply is not a scientific text or way of describing things - no specifics at all.

        It makes sense to me as philosophy. "Light and darkness" can be viewed as a distinction between existence and non-existence, life and death, faith and doubt, order and chaos, knowledge and uncertainty, etc. The passage also establishes the rhythm - the foundation of time "And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.", "And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.", etc. The whole passage has a rhythm and structure to it. To me, the meaning of this passage is symbolic rather than literal or scientific.

        Most of the genesis consists of separation - drawing boundaries and defining what is what. I believe, it describes "how" the world is "created" in our minds. It teaches us to tell things apart, see what things are and what they are not, give names to things and concepts. In this sense, perhaps, there is "how" in the story of genesis. But it is different from the physical "how" which science is mostly concerned with.
        • May 26 2013: Arkady — you wrote: "The whole passage has a rhythm and structure to it." So that means it cannot be historically factual? I suggest you're attempting to set up a false dichotomy.
          Genesis 1 is written as narrative prose; it does not match the criteria of Hebrew poetry. It does not exhibit parallelism (as the Psalms do), and it includes features not generally seen in Hebrew poetry, such as the accusative-marker and the waw-consecutive (each used dozens of times in Genesis 1).
          For a solid technical demonstration that Genesis 1 is prose, not poetry, see the detailed statistical work by Old Testament scholar Stephen Boyd: http://www.fireprior.com/resources/genesis/Statistical-Determination-of-Genre-in-Biblical-Hebrew.pdf
          The prime reason for disbelieving that Genesis 1 is straightforward history (or for calling it symbolic — really the same thing) is not derived from the text itself. The issue is that we wish to be considered scientific, and the scientists tell us the universe could not have been produced in six normal-length days, and that organisms arrived in a certain order which contradicts the Genesis sequence. Therefore we feel we have to defuse the plain teaching of Genesis in one way or another. In most cases, we prefer not to declare stark unbelief, so instead we condescendingly describe Genesis as "profoundly true" (though historically false) or as "symbolically true" (though actually mythical).
          For Christians especially, this dodgy behaviour is unacceptable. A Christian by definition is a follower of Christ, one who believes the teaching of Jesus and accepts it as from God himself (John 7:16). Jesus was clearly a young-Earth creationist (Matthew 19:3-6). He held a high view of Scripture, and of Genesis in particular. http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=138&Itemid=62
          Let's cease playing such games and deal honestly with our Creator. Stop being "ashamed" of the truth of God, lest the divine Judge be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38).
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        May 25 2013: When it comes to meaning, I totally agree with you regarding "seek and you will find" and "context is the key". Keeping this in mind, I would note, however, that your own writing lacks context. What exactly is this "ALL information" that lies within scriptures which can be only seen by "developing an 'eye that see'"? How does one know which 'eye' sees the 'truth'?

        I believe, such statement itself lacks context and, therefore, meaning. If you could explain to me what exactly I do not see in the sentence "And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.", this discussion might be more meaningful.
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        May 27 2013: Richard,

        It seems, the more I say, the more I have to explain. I never said that rhythm implies that Genesis is poetry. Neither did I say that poetry cannot give a historic account. What I meant is that rhythms and cycles are at the root of existence. They can be seen everywhere and Genesis 1 seems to emphasize it.

        Literal interpretation is a figure of speech. The whole language is sybmolic. Words are symbols. Without metaphors, you would not be able to "see" what I mean and I could not "make any points".

        I don't know if it is possible to interpret the Bible literally. Most of the Christ's teachings are given in parables and Jesus himself seemed to oppose the literal interpretation of the law ("Sabbath for the man" Mark 2:27 and regarding hand washing in Luke 11:37-41)

        So, as Christians, let's shun the "dodgy behavior" and try to take the Bible literally. Have you gouged your eye and cut off your hand yet as Christ advised in Matthew 18:6-9? Or have you not looked at a woman with a lustful eye in your life? How many Christians do you know who have "made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake"? (Matthew 19:12) Do you allow women to speak in your church? (1 Cor 14:33-35) And before you judge my behavior as "dodgy", why don't you read Matthew 7:1 first?

        Tell me, who created the Chrysler building? Walter Chrysler? Yes, it was built according to his will. William Van Alen? Yes, it was built according to his design. But I doubt that either of them laid a single brick. Any "creation" is metaphoric. Check out this video http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html and tell me who created the pencil? It can be said that pencil was created. It also can be said that "pencil evolved". Both statements are correct in their own way.

        I have no problem with belief that "God created the world in 6 days", but I cannot interpret it "literally". I do not know what "literally" literally means.
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        May 28 2013: Chris,

        Thanks for the detailed explanations. Quite interesting. Although, I am not as familiar with Kabbalah as you are, I agree with your main points - that "light" and "darkness" represent the difference between "order" and "chaos" or "clarity/faith/knowledge" from "uncertainty/doubt". The symbolism of taking bread inside our body as a symbol of internalizing the wisdom of Christ was also fairly clear to me.

        In this context, the big bang theory is a mere physical explanation of how the universe appeared. As we go back in time, the closer we get to the big bang, the less we can say about the universe because at some point, the concepts of space and time and the laws of physics lose their meaning. It's meaningless to say that "the universe appeared according to the laws of physics" because there were no laws of physics prior to the Planck time "after the big bang". According to quantum mechanics, time and space intervals smaller than Planck time and Planck length cannot be defined, in principle. It appears to me that the universe started not at "time 0", but at "time 1" - the first tick of the quantum clock. Before that, there was no time to talk about.

        So, in my understanding, creation of the universe is not to be understood as "everything from nothing", but rather "certainty/law/order" from "chaos/uncertainty". I don't see any contradiction between this interpretation of creationism and science.

        I thought, "pineal gland" is called "pineal" because it has a shape of a pine cone. Where did you get this relation to the Hebrew word "Peniel"?

        I don't think that Kabbalah can be called "science" in a sense that TED board would approve.

        We agree in one point - that when we read Bible, we cannot take literal meanings of the English translations. We need to unravel the symbolism contained therein. What would you answer to Richard, then? It appears, he advocates literal interpretation of Creation story although I don't understand how this can be done.
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        May 29 2013: Re: "It's taken modern science over five thousand years to "discover" that which has been lying dormant beneath the story level of holy doctrine for many millennia."

        "What has been will be again,
        what has been done will be done again;
        there is nothing new under the sun."

        Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible.

        You seem to interpret science too broadly. What most people understand by science today is knowledge established using a certain method meeting certain criteria. These criteria include experimental verification, peer review, etc. Biblical truths do not fulfill these criteria. I'm not saying that they have no merit or value. Wisdom is frequently counter-intuitive, self-contradictory, and often goes against the so called "common sense" (e.g. "love your enemy", "turn the other cheek") or everyday experience. I still believe that teaching religious wisdom does not belong in science class.
  • May 18 2013: Creationism is only destructive to critical thinking if it is taught as SCIENCE. In my opinion it would be very useful to teach not only Christian creationism but the creation myths of the other religions of the world in comparative religion or mythology classes. These beliefs (or rather the believers) have as much - if not more - effect on our daily lives as science does and deserve study and respect.
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      May 20 2013: I agree up to the last word. There we may differ depending on what you mean by respect.

      I respect freedom of religion and people’s right to their religious beliefs and express these.

      However, specific religious inspired beliefs and ideas themselves should stand on their merits.

      I respect people’s right to believe the universe is 6 to 10 thousand years old. While I recognise creationist beliefs/ideas are important to many people, the belief itself does not warrant much respect in my opinion given the evidence we have to the contrary.
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    May 16 2013: The US education system is ultimately a question for US citizens.
    We don’t have such a powerful evangelical young earth creationist lobby group in Australia or New Zealand. I would object to special religious interest groups subverting science classes in state run schools here.
    Science alone should be taught in science class, not creationism or intelligent design in my opinion.
    Teaching the controversy is just an excuse to undermine science where it conflicts with their religious beliefs. They aim to slip in something more compatible with their beliefs alongside science as though it is a legitimate scientific alternative – which it is not.
    ID is just creationism in disguise. Life is complex. Humans seem to have evolved to be more comfortable assuming supernatural agency for things they don’t understand. Earthquakes, Famines, lightning, floods etc.
    If you think about it, proposing a supernatural creator or intelligent designer is not science at all. It’s just saying we don’t think life could have evolved this way by itself (and the bible confirms this), something supernatural must have magically done it. No evidence of supernatural creation or mechanism proposed or testable. Magic.
    ID suggests adaptation due to natural selection is actually design, and ignore the crappy design elements. The biological similarities say for all primate, then mammals, then veribrates, and so on apparently not evidence of common descent. Rather it is design efficiencies with an overlay of micro evolution within kinds (whatever a kind is). Apparently the creator made a lots of different life forms. Most went extinct in the last 6,000 years and a few families survived – vertibrates, insects etc. Here are some examples in biology ID asserts could not have evolved and are irreducibly complex e.g. bacterial flagellum, the human immune system etc. All of which have been debunked as precursors to these have been found.
    ID is simply an argument from ignorance. It has no scientific credibil
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    May 14 2013: Bernard,

    Thanks for the invitation to weight in the topic at hand,

    For starters Creationism aka Intelligent Design (ID) is being pushed by the Discovery Institute and others. ID has nothing to do with Science and all to do with marketing:"This isn't really, and never has been, a debate about science," professor Phillip Johnson of the University of California at Berkeley. "It's about religion and philosophy."(http://www.leaderu.com/pjohnson/world2.html) it's all about the so-called theistic realism to replace methodological naturalism(Scientific Method) in order to accept supernatural explanations as a norm. Also take a look at the "wedge strategy"(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy#cite_note-forrest_wedge-24).
    I gather that their goal is to keep God(s) in the classroom in order for USA not to loose its moral compass, and to make peace with the right wing evangelicals.
    ID is a gimmick that looks for dumb politicians in order to creep into the classroom instead of doing the hard work that the scientific method entails, is intellectual laziness.
    Bottom line creationism aka ID is not science what it is indeed is really bad education, there is no credibility to it in the scientific community at large and to fix it we need more forums more proper information for people to make informed choices. And that said, religion provides comfort in a fantasy land that science cannot touch.
    That 46% of Americans believe in creationism in one form or another is truly a shame, it makes us look ignorant , it is really frightens me that so many people believe in outdated , dis-proven ideas. Add to that number a 20% illiteracy rate and it gets darker, when that 46% wants political control to influence the other 54%. .
    The case for evolution is overwhelming and is the basis of modern medicine in many ways, ID is useless, It should not be taught in the classroom as "science", is a waste of time from that point of view.

    "Educate to dumb down"
    --Me

    Cheers!
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      May 14 2013: I agree.
      However what happens if the politicians actually "agree" with it as well?
      Did you read that article I posted in the description, on the other debate. I'll put it here again :
      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/12/is-god-an-accident/304425/?single_page=true
      (Skip to chapter V : "We've Evolved to be Creationists").
      Luckily I have never experienced the "creationism" problem. (Considering I live in the UK!) :-)
      Kind regards,
      Bernard.
      • May 16 2013: Hi Bernard,

        Thanks for your comment (below).

        "Surely you "could" argue that the "God(s)" work through Volcanoes?"

        Surely you could. But that shows that you can move those gods from one place to another, only confirming that they are subjects of your imagination.

        "Also you could argue that the "God(s)" put these "agency detection" mechanism in us."

        Which would come to prove again that the gods are subjects of your imagination. More to the point, a "detection" mechanism that makes us mistake almost everything for a god would lead us to conclude that gods are imaginary. :) And let's not even talk about the side effects of such beliefs, which tend to be quite contrary to leading us to believe that the gods are real at all. If we all share a detection mechanism, rather than a tendency towards superstition, then such mechanisms are so faulty that we end up thinking that we have the right gods on our side, and that whichever gods others have are imaginary (how convenient), or the wrong gods, the evil ones, and a long et cetera that I have no time to keep writing about ...

        Trying to accommodate for gods thus confirms that they are subjects of our imaginations.
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          May 16 2013: Nice reply.
          Yet I'm still unsure as to whether they are completely "part of our imagination".
          "But that shows that you can move those gods from one place to another, only confirming that they are subjects of your imagination."
          I'm not altogether sure how that logic follows. God(s) should be able to move from one place to another (considering they are meant to wield extreme power), you could argue all the different perceptions of God(s) were just everybody perspective of the same "deity(s)".
          "Trying to accommodate for gods thus confirms that they are subjects of our imaginations."
          Not at all. If argue for your existence (or against = solipsism) does that suggest you are just part of my imagination? Maybe you are, maybe your not. :)
      • May 16 2013: Hi Bernard,

        You are welcome to present any evidence that gods are not imaginary. I know you are mostly "agnostic," but I see no reason why we wouldn't be so sure that gods are imaginary. After all, you keep showing evidence that they indeed are.

        When I said "move gods from one place to another," I meant move them from being the volcano to act through the volcano. This shows that they are the objects of your imagination. If to "prove" that they exist you have to change what they are from one phrase to the next, what are you doing if not imagining different gods each time?

        Yeah, after the fact, after realizing that you are imagining different gods and kinds of gods (why do you insist on the capitals if we are talking about gods in a generic form, rather than about some actual being whose particular name is "God"?), you start claiming that maybe the "errors" are differences in perceptions of what these gods are, then I would insist that such post rationalization only comes to show how sophisticated you are willing to be in your imaginations. You just imagine new attributes, new characteristics.. As I said below, you prove nothing more but how vivid your imagination is. Be my guest, but that does nothing for gods, a lot for my claim that they are imaginary, and a lot for your imagination, which I will be happy to applaud.

        At least for my existence you have something to show that cannot easily be attributed to much else but a person. I am writing in English (kinda), have to be typing, et cetera. Yes, imagination takes place too, but you have more to go for it than just that. It is not how much you ignore about typing, English, and such, but how much you do know about those things that would give you support for the thesis. With gods the support is ignorance. It does not help that gods reside nowhere else but in our imaginations, exactly in the same way as other characters that you would agree are imaginary, like Harry Potter.
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          May 17 2013: Hmm.
          It seems basically what you are saying is that you accept that you are more probable than a "God"/"gods"/"God(s)". I ask you what makes you more likely than a "God"?
          For instance you typing could just be part of my imagination? :-)
          And I give you attributes, which I can't be certain of. To help me (unconsciously) learn about you, and make more sense...
          Just because something is in our imagination does it mean it doesn't exist? This is my point when I ask people to define (or describe) what they mean by existence.
          Considering you mentioned it, to quote from Harry potter : "of course it's happening inside your head harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
          Regards,
          Bernard.
      • May 17 2013: Hi Bernard,

        Oh, no, I am in enough of a position to assert that this is not a question of probability. I am real, gods are merely imaginary. I am not just more likely than a god. If you can't tell the difference, then you have a big problem, perhaps with your metaphysics.

        You say that my typing might be just part of your imagination. OK then, do you hear gods talking to you? Do you see them jumping around? Do they interact with you? Do they transform things for you, help you walk on water? Do they make the volcano erupt in ways you cannot but conclude that they did it?

        If nothing of that sort happens, then your imagination is quite selective about what it lets you imagine as if it were real. Do you see any differences between what your imagination allows you to believe to be real and those things called gods? If you do, then that should indicate you that there's a solution to your problem, shouldn't it? That there might be a profound way in which you might recognize what your senses are perceiving from what is just a product of your imagination. I can't offer you a full treatise on metaphysics or epistemology, but that should work as a start. Think about it.

        Best!

        P.S. Of course, what happens in our heads is "real" in a way, something is happening there. But that does not mean that because we can imagine a god, then such god will materialize out of our imaginations and become an entity independent of our imaginations. That does not mean that we should start thinking that anything we can imagine has some probability of being real, and that a real person is just "more likely."
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          May 18 2013: I agree you are "much" likely than a "God".
          However you main argument seems to be that God is just part of a our imagination therefore we should assume it definably doesn't exist...
          Actaully it would be better if you went on to my debate :
          "What theological implications does the "Psychology" and "Neuroscience" (and possibly biology) of religion (or "God(s)") have?"
          Link : http://www.ted.com/conversations/18230/what_theological_implications.html
          Also to confirm God doesn't exist, 1st you need to define God in a way it can actually be tested. If not (due to their being no evidence either way) I remain an agnostic.
          Kind regards,
          Bernard.
          P.S Cya at the other TED Conversation!
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      May 14 2013: "it makes us look ignorant, it is really frightens me that so many people believe in outdated , dis-proven ideas."

      It's one thing not to believe in creationism or intelligent design, but another to suggest that science has furnished irrefutable answers to the God question.

      We not only "look ignorant," we are ignorant as to the nature and specifics of our beginning despite the theories floating among scientists.

      What "frightens me" more is this willingness on the part of some humans to acquiesce to science that which it hasn't proven, satisfied that if it doesn't have the answers now, that it will in the near or distant future.

      "The case for evolution is overwhelming."

      Yet, evolution doesn't answer the larger question, "How did life begin, and did that beginning generate from an intelligent or non-intelligent substance?"

      "Educate to dumb down"

      Perhaps it's just the opposite, "Dumb down to educate."
      • May 15 2013: Wil,

        I would agree that science alone might not answer "the gods question." Philosophy, science, and history seem all right though. Gods are anthropomorphisms. The product of human tendency to assign human-like agency to the unknown. They are compounded and confounded by our tendency to make up stories and build upon stories over stories. To our tendency to gather around myths and make them even bigger. Gods are imaginary. However, we have to look beyond evolution. Evolution only shows how the diversity of life arises. The most it does, is prove that gods imagined to have brought about each species by puffing them into existence independently are false. But other gods are left untouched. Geology and vulcanology in particular show that gods that are personified in volcanoes are false. Philosophy helps because so many gods are filled with contradictions and nonsense. But anthropology and history show quite well that gods are the anthropomorphisms I was talking about saving us the time to check whether some scientific discovery proves some god or another false.

        Of course, people wanting to believe can take refuge from all of that by moving their gods into the realms of the still unknown, or even claim that their gods are behind something that might never be solved. But I see no difference between those who did not know what a volcano was, therefore it was a god prone to anger, and those who take refuge behind the problem of the origin of life, therefore god(s) did it. But be my guest. Believers can go further and change their gods' properties to make them "unassailable." Beyond the reach of logic, reason and science. But what does that prove other than the vivid imagination of the believer?
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          May 15 2013: "and those who take refuge behind the problem of the origin of life, therefore god(s) did it."

          Here's my point again: If science is willing to posit that life and intelligence resulted from non-life and non-intelligence, then science is in no better position than the religionist to assert the origin of life.

          Without the existence of life, there would be no evolution, giving those who believe in intelligent design and an intelligent designer as much claim to the answers as science.

          And, too, there's been an evolution of our notion of God, from one that is anthropomorphic to one that is omnipresent, and omniscient.

          Yet, don't rule out gods, as we're dealing with an aspect of God that is beyond this conversation, and would only serve to broaden the conversation beyond its present parameters.

          "Believers can go further and change their gods' properties to make them "unassailable.""

          And of course, science would never do that. There are as many taboos in science as in religion, where those in the scientific community would be ostracized, if not outright excommunicated, for holding certain theories, or publicly attacked by their peers for challenging certain widely-held scientific positions.
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          May 15 2013: Great reply by the way! :-)
          Yet my only question would be :
          Surely you "could" argue that the "God(s)" work through Volcanoes? In the way science (geology and geography) gives us the method the "God(s)" (or the "how") work out their will. Also you could argue that the "God(s)" put these "agency detection" mechanism in us.
          I mean it would be very odd if these God(s) created us, without the ability to realize they existed. (If they wanted to use us that is!).
          Regards,
          Bernard.
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        May 15 2013: Wil,
        That is the gist of science that the answers are not irrefutable indeed they are, (God(s) are not) Science is falsifiable, thus allows for continuous correction and growth , religion does not.
        As to how humans came to be and our universe , there are natural explanations that cover those without using "magic" , the "creator "does not answer any questions au contraire and once accepted it poses more complex questions, ie who created the creator, hold on, no- one created the creator because the creator exists beyond space & time and is self caused, Wil I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell if buy that special pleading! Indeed yes it is an ignorant assertion to postulate an impossible being as the originator of everything!
        Just because Science doesn't answer every question to a 100% satisfaction ,is that by default evidence for God(s)? (a difference between not known to not unknowable). Take the last 200 years of history and see the advances that Science has covered, Wil diseases that are now treatable, space flight, etc has Science answer all , no has ID served mankind as evolution have ( medicine, genetics, agriculture etc) NO!, Yes "think-tanks" peddling ignorance are frightening!
        Wil you are partly correct: evolution does not explain how life began. But that is not the aim of Darwinian evolution; all natural selection requires to work is that there is life, variability and competition. Criticising evolutionary biology for not explaining how life began is like criticising the kettle for not making good toast.(try Abiogenesis:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis to broaden. your quest). All this said I respect every person's right to negate the Overwhelming , copious amount of over 150 years of Evidence for evolution. And if tomorrow morning evidence that puts Darwinian evolution belly up surfaces, Let it ring loud & clear! Science is hard work not platitudes, not pulling miraculous beings out of thin air. Question everything!

        cheers!
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          May 15 2013: "Science is falsifiable, thus allows for continuous correction and growth , religion does not."

          That's arguable, be it science or be it those who believe in the existence of a God.

          "As to how humans came to be and our universe , there are natural explanations that cover those without using "magic"."

          And that's my point, again: The scientific "explanations" are as "magical," as you call it, as those derived from religion. You can dress it up with a scientific overlay but it requires as much faith to accept spontaneous self-generating matter that's both lifeless and mindless creating life and intelligence.

          "has ID served mankind as evolution have ( medicine, genetics, agriculture etc) NO!, Yes "think-tanks" peddling ignorance are frightening!"

          This is only true if you're willing to arbitrarily separate intelligent design from other natural phenomenon. What's "frightening" is what science has created right along with "medicine, genetics," or what have you, providing the means for our self-annihilation, nuclear bombs, and a host of other biological weapons and the means to deliver them.

          "Criticising evolutionary biology for not explaining how life began is like criticising the kettle for not making good toast."

          Actually, I did no such thing. I merely pointed out that we've put the cart before the horse. We had to first be created before the forces and mechanisms of evolution could be employed. As a result, until the question of our beginning is irrefutably understood, we won't fully grasp evolution.

          And for "abiogenesis," this is not my first discussion of the origin of the universe, nor is the subject of abiogenesis unfamiliar to me. I still say it smacks of the supernatural.

          "Science is hard work not platitudes, not pulling miraculous beings out of thin air. Question everything!"

          Again, that's arguable. But I find, rather, that science has busy itself in an attempt to explain away, not only our beginning, without positing a God, but God Itself.

          It wo
      • May 16 2013: Wil,

        "If science is willing to posit that life and intelligence resulted from non-life and non-intelligence, then science is in no better position than the religionist to assert the origin of life."

        I don't see why. That you don't understand, or have neither studied nor reasoned this carefully enough does not mean that a scientific position is "faith." I don't see anything strange about life coming from non living stuff. After all, we see it all the time. I can produce a completely lifeless broth. Introduce a few bacteria, and then the broth transforms into billions of bacteria. That's non-life becoming life no matter how much you try and twist it. There's no intelligence involved either. That this process is catayized by a living organism does not change the facts: non-living stuff gets into being living stuff. So, for life to originate originally, all we need is something to catalyze reactions that might lead there. Maybe many somethings. And we know of many things in nature that catalyze reactions.

        There's much more to the origin of life than that, and we are yet to get a complete picture. But I see no reason why you would think that proposing that life arose from the non-living, or that intelligence arose from the non-thinking, is based on faith, other than because you have not thought about it and have not looked at any of the work around those things.

        However, you had nothing in your answer but what I already mentioned: mysteries filled up with gods. Mere anthropomorphisms: because we use intelligence to do stuff, everything is done by superhuman intelligence. The nowadays equivalent to volcano gods.

        Gods evolved into omniscient and omnipresent are still anthropomorphous. Humans only much bigger, wiser, powerful. That we have evolved them does not deny their humble origins in those myths of old.
    • May 15 2013: Carlos, I only have a few minutes to respond, so I just wanted to point out that it will help to distinguish between creationism and intelligent design. They are vastly different ideas.
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        May 15 2013: Cliff,
        ID is the brainchild of the Discovery Institute, they do declare that they are indifferent to religion at every turn They have no choice. Their mission is to destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America, and they can't do that if they are obviously driven by religious motives. That's why you see them conceal the theological basis for their beliefs when they are talking to a governmental group. Which is the point of this debate , ID folks and those supporting -Do not care about Science, or the "so-called weakness in DE" or "critical thinking" They want to hear that their religious views are right. They're also the strongest base of support for the Intelligent Design proponents. That's why you find the very same folks who deny faith in front of government professing faith in front of religious audiences:.Even YEC (young earth folks) are against this two faced nature of ID (plausible denial tactic?) ID is a water down version of creationism for legal use and consumption by the uninformed, is a tactical move By the green serpents Cliff! I sense a less than honest approach here , a moral flaw perhaps (win hooked or crooked)

        Judge Jones noted in his 2005 Dover decision, “We have concluded that (intelligent design) is not [science], and moreover that (intelligent design) cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.”

        There it is.


        Cheers!
        • May 16 2013: Carlos, thanks for your response. You wrote: "ID folks and those supporting-Do not care about Science..." and "their mission is to destroy good science education for every child in the public schools of America". Please be careful about speaking categorically for all people in a group. (It's akin to stating: "All scientists want to destroy religion.") And I think refraining from the phrase "green serpents" will help keep this discourse civil.

          Certainly, your assumption may be correct for some. But many ID folks do care a great deal about doing good science and about good science education. They simply happen to believe that the evidence suggests an intelligent designer at work in the creation of the universe. This may be informed by their religious viewpoint, certainly. I have no problem saying that ID is not science in that it makes philosophical and theological statements. And I can agree with what Judge Jones says, as long as when he says "creationist" he doesn't mean Young Earth creationism. Many ID folks find YEC ridiculous, small-minded, dishonest, and a terrible distortion of scientific data (exactly why I suggested differentiating between YEC and ID).

          Ultimately, science can falsify YEC by finding contradictory evidence, which is well-established. But if ID is simply the idea that an intelligent creator was involved in the beginning of the universe, this is something science will not be able to address, as it is not falsifiable. So, regardless of where we fall in religious viewpoints, we will always be left with the possibility of a intelligent being's existence and involvement in the creation of the universe. I'm not suggesting it should be taught in the science classroom; I'm simply pointing it out as a legitimate viewpoint that science is not able to address.
  • May 13 2013: Creationism is not science. It shouldn't be taught in public schools as science because it's really not. It's not even Christian doctrine. I'm a Christian, and we know that God created the earth but we have no idea how. Personally I think you're limiting God there by saying that He had to have created it all in a "poof." God does what He wants. If He used evolution or just created it all to look like it was by evolution, it's all fine by me. Leave the science alone, and teach evolution without a religious or atheistic slant.
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      May 13 2013: "teach evolution without a religious or atheistic slant"
      I'v always been taught "evolution" with neither slant (atheistic or religious). I just think to most people it does suggest that our concept of "God" could be explained by Evolutionary psychology... (As attempted by psychologists like Jesse Bering, Paul Bloom and Justin L Barrett. As we have discussed!)
      However this is another debate entirely! :-)
      Like I said : "I am fine with Theistic evolution". :D
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    May 13 2013: Does creationism indicate bad education? -- If it is taught as a non-metaphorical historical event or scientific theory, yes. If it is taught within the context of religious study, literature, folklore/anthropology, etc., it is indicative of a potentially inclusive education.

    (If so how can we fix this, and should it be taught?) -- You 'fix' it by not teaching it as a scientific fact. You can teach it as a metaphor/creation story, or as a historical artifact that influences history up to the present day.

    Does Creationism have any credibility to it? -- As part of a rich religious tradition, yes. Within the sciences, no.


    For the record: I am not an atheist. I have read at least large parts of the Torah and some of the rest of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and several handfuls of "apocrypha." My assertions above do not denote a lack of understanding of the texts or of the conflicts between faith and science, or a lack of appreciation and fondness for religious traditions. But I draw the line at teaching things that are clearly untrue to children as part of socially organized education. As a parent, that's my job. ;-)
  • Jun 9 2013: Religion is not education.
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    Jun 4 2013: Austin,

    you had me until you said " The reason that people"...
    Faith doesn't have to prove science. If you could prove a hypothesis of faith by science it would no longer require faith. Faith is simply a belief in a truth that cannot be proved but you know it is true. Something deep inside causes you to believe. Others can say that you are wrong because your beliefs can't be scientifically be proved.
    I would ask why?
    Why is it important to challenge another's faith and beliefs? Does it improve your position in belief to try to prove them wrong? I see no value in questioning another's belief. What does it do for me... other then to make me seem petty. And who is to say that they are wrong in their beliefs? Me!
    Now, if someone expresses his beliefs and states that he is 100% correct and I am so wrong... we will have
    a discussion.
    You say that you are a teacher. So,why are you not exposing your students to all the ideas and knowledge that is out there. Are you the filter that determines what students are to learn. If one of your students comes from a religious family that has strong beliefs in creationism, is it your job to tell this student that his parents are full of crap and he/she should only listen to you? Not easy is it. That is why you must teach all ideas and not be fixed on one.
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      Jun 4 2013: I think you forgot to press the "reply" button. :-)
      Kind regards,
      Bernard.
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        Jun 4 2013: Brilliant prose and your only comment is I forgot a button?
        I'm crushed !
        Humbly,
        Mike
        :- 0
    • Jun 4 2013: Hey Mike,

      Thanks for your reply.

      I am, in fact, a Christian because I do understand at a deep, deep level what Christ did for me on the cross. I get it at a very personal level- that I am both very messed up (a sinner), and very loved (have received grace) at the exact same time- and you are right that my belief cannot be proved and that it's faith.

      However, I am also a science teacher, and my job is to teach the science! The idea that God created the earth is not a testable hypothesis. Since we cannot show that it is wrong (i.e. we cannot test it) then I cannot and should not teach it in a science class. It is a matter of faith.

      I do not put anyone’s faith down/challenge them. I address this issue in the first class every year. My high school students learn this distinction, they get it, and they move on, keeping their faith and learning some awesome (and by awesome I mean awe inspiring) knowledge about how the universe works, at the same time. If they decide on their own to draw the conclusion that God made all of this cool stuff then that is up to them personally.

      I do only teach one idea (we call it a theory or theories) of the origin of the universe, Earth, and ultimately us- yes. This is because this is/these are the only theory/theories that have been supported by the evidence. I mention of course (by this time in the year it has been said many times) that there are other stories/ideas about how things came to be- but again, "since we cannot test these class are they science?" "No" says the class. I cannot teach that God made everything.

      Please let me know if you still have any questions/comments because I do legitimately want to clear this up with folks. The nature of science can be confusing as I mentioned above and I feel that as a Christian science teacher I am in a unique position to explain the distinctions.

      Once you separate the two endeavors, science and faith can both be fulfilling, different, parts of one’s life! They have been for me.
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        Jun 4 2013: Hi Austin just a question,
        --"However, I am also a science teacher, and my job is to teach the science! The idea that God created the earth is not a testable hypothesis.."--

        How do you proof to your class that matter, nature and then us evolved out of nothing?? I assume that what science says IS a "testable hypothesis." Or does science have more answers nowadays?

        Just as everything that is 'man made' originated from a person's spirit, not his neurons or his electrical connections, so did the universe originate in God's spirit.
        One more thing, Revelation (and a faith therein can explain and reveal worldly phenomena, as through the science of correspondences. Maybe you'd like to have a look?
        http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/

        Just as an expert has ways to determine if a painting is made by e.g. Rembrandt, so should we have ways (if we want to) to determine if this world, and us, are more than just an accident with no purpose whatsoever.
        • Jun 5 2013: Hello Adriaan,

          I'm not sure that 2000 characters is enough space to explain all of the testable hypotheses that have been put forward about the origin of the universe, and us.

          Matter, nature and we did not evolve from nothing- the Big Bang theory says that ALL matter that is in the universe currently was originally in a single point in space 13.5 billion years ago. So we didn't come from nothing.

          Now the question of how everything got to that singularity in the first place, before the universe started expanding, is currently a hotly debated topic in cosmology circles. Was there a previous universe that had undergone a "Big Crunch?!" Is this an endless cycle of expansion and contraction? We don't know- but that is where the tests (mostly crunching numbers in complex equations of physics) are being done today.

          I would argue that things that are "man made" come from/are reorganizations of, existing matter- not spirits.

          And the evidence tells us that we really are "an accident" yes. That is to say that we were not created for a purpose- there is no purpose for anything in the universe. Now, that sounds very depressing, but at the root of the science- that's it! We happened because of a long chain of events that were not going somewhere- there was no/is no end goal in sight. There is no one's sight for an end goal to be in!

          It's humbling to realize that we are not the pinnacle evolution. We're not. To borrow from Stephen Hawking- "intelligence is not required for life. Bacteria don't have it and have been around for over three billion years."

          I will take a peek at the website- thanks. I already had to go to the FAQ page in order to find the definition of the science of correspondences and I'll keep looking. If the evidence doesn't hold up though I will stick to the current, peer reviewed theories.
        • Jun 6 2013: Adriaan,

          "How do you proof to your class that matter, nature and then us evolved out of nothing?"

          You've got it wrong. In science class we teach what the current theories are, and about the stage where they are. We are very far from pretending that scientists have figured out everything. We are very far from saying that science has an answer for everything. When a student asks a question whose answer eludes science so far. I say so.
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        Jun 4 2013: OK, a reasonable stand. Science does need experiments and provable conclusions if I remember my schooling. What I was alluding too is many science teachers go out of their way to deny creationism
        and ridicule students who ask and that to me is the tragedy.
        • Jun 5 2013: Hey again Mike,

          I couldn't agree more. Many science teachers step outside the realm of science instruction and speak on matters of faith- which is inappropriate and a tragedy- I agree.

          When my students ask a question that cannot be answered by science (because there is no testable hypothesis) I tell them every time, "that is a question of faith that I don't know the answer to as your science teacher."

          I leave it up to them to decide what their beliefs will be. If they ask me what mine are I share after class- this builds deep relationships with my students which are the foundation of effective education.

          Thanks for the comment Mike- it's important for us science teachers to remember our place!
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          Jun 7 2013: It is a ridiculous proposition to be made scientifically, I think it is therefore that science teachers tend to ridicule it.

          You say "Faith is simply a belief in a truth that cannot be proved but you know it is true." But how do you KNOW Mike, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT IT IS TRUE!? By this reasoning everything is true, as long as a single individual thinks it is.

          I know it to be true that unicorns exist. And vampires. And I know it to be true that *insert anything that most people don't accept but have heard stories of*

          The place of science teachers is to educate in science. And it is true that the role of the teacher is not to ridicule but to educate. But if you said to your math teacher that 5+7 =1 then I'm pretty sure that you would feel ridiculed by that teacher as well.

          If you understand science, just the basics, then you would feel the same way about the statement of creationism as a math teacher would for 5+7=1
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        Jun 5 2013: Hi Austin, thanks for keeping an open mind and to keep looking.

        --"ALL matter that is in the universe currently was originally in a single point in space 13.5 billion years ago. So we didn't come from nothing."--

        I see this as an expression based on faith in Scientism. No proof but only assumptions. How big was the "point"?

        --"Is this an endless cycle of expansion and contraction? We don't know"--

        Ah ! So there are things science admits it does not know and cannot proof.

        --"I would argue that things that are "man made" come from/are reorganizations of, existing matter- not spirits."'--
        I don't think you got my point. What would you say created Rembrandt's paintings? Was it his hands, his brain or his spirit? Since you say you are a Christian, I assume you also believe that a person has/is a spirit.

        I sincerely hope that at some point science will settle down and recognize its limitations. This sibling rivalry is useless and going nowhere. I have full respect of what science has done and can accomplish but it is all about matter. Being useful is above matter so cannot be measured, just like love. To make that as "evidence" of --"we were not created for a purpose- there is no purpose for anything in the universe."-- is totally beyond me. In my mind, every single item in this world is here for a reason and has a relationship..
        • Jun 6 2013: Austin very clearly told you that such was what the Big Bang theory said, not that it was a definitive answer. It is not "based on scientism," it is based on the evidence of the expansion of the universe "ran" backwards, plus many features of the universe that betray it's age, and shows remnants of the high energetic state of the initial stages of expansion. That's not "scientism" but science. How big was the point is an excellent question. Still in the works, but I read something about a "Plank something." I did not go too deep though.

          Of course science does not have answers for everything. Why would anybody think otherwise?

          Of course that science recognizes it's limitations. Otherwise we scientists would be out of a job. It's only obvious.
        • Jun 6 2013: Hey again Adriaan,

          Entropy did a great job of addressing your earlier comments so I will simply echo his thoughts on those. Thanks Entropy!

          To your later points about Rembrandt's paintings and the "sibling rivalry" you spoke of, what separates humans from other species is our larger brains which then allowed us to do things like create art and engage in the scientific process. I am a christian yes- but I have to continually SEPERATE that from my knowledge of science (not easy to do as this comment stream shows).

          As in, I believe that we have spirits but I know that science/ the evidence shows us that we do not. My belief in our spirits does not mean that we have them. This may seem like a contradiction- which might lead some to say I am either not a true christian or not a true scientist. I cannot answer either of those questions I guess.

          Maybe I'm not a true christian or scientist. I try not to concern myself with that though... I just keep on learning more and more about the universe we live in and the history of life in it, including ours. I also just keep learning more and more each day what it means to live like Christ- to follow his example.

          Siblings might not be the best way to describe faith and science. I have heard others explain the two this way before. Siblings implies that they are nearly the same, maybe two slightly different ways to describe the same events. This is not accurate. They can't.

          The difference, as I have said on here previously, is that claims of science must be TESTABLE and then, the results of your test must be repeated by OTHER scientists in order to be considered validated (the peer review process). Faith is quite different! It is deeply personal- even within traditions. Most times people who share your tradition do not ask you to defend it- there is no "peer review" process in faith. Unsubstantiated claims are the hallmark of faith actually! That's why they are faiths- because you have to believe something you cannot prove.
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          Jun 7 2013: Greetings, Adriaan,

          I was pretty sure that I was missing something, and I thank you for your clarification. In my youth I read the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and found them impressive. I still have them in my collection, and read them from time to time.

          I purchased several of his books at the Wayfarers Chapel's bookstore, the chapel designed by Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son.

          "We believe they can easily be seen as the 'index' of the whole Bible, because of their spiritual significance."

          Precisely. And in many ways, the table of content as well.

          "But you have to turn on your light."

          I agree. Stumbling around in the dark can lead to serious injury
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        Jun 6 2013: "I would argue that things that are "man made" come from/are reorganizations of, existing matter- not spirits."

        I agree with Socrates: What we see in the physical world corresponds to that which exists in a non-physical realm, existing because of it, including our physical bodies. He called this interaction "correspondence."

        "And the evidence tells us that we really are "an accident" yes."

        The evidence is inconclusive, as is M-theory which posits the existence of 'self-generating matter," matter that was, before the big bang, non-living and non-intelligent, but in combination gave birth to our universe, including intelligent man. For my part, that's more "magical" that positing a God, a Universal Intelligence" as the source of our origin.

        "That is to say that we were not created for a purpose- there is no purpose for anything in the universe."

        Then, there's no purpose for us. If there's no purpose for us, then there's no purpose for love, and its opposite fear, yet, most of us are capable of expressing and experiencing both, in one of its various forms or another.

        I aver that we're pure love (as is our Maker), and that fear--and the world of relativity--was created so that we might experience who we are. Granted, we don't always express love, but most of us have the human capacity to do, whether we do so often, consistently, or not.

        "To borrow from Stephen Hawking- "intelligence is not required for life. Bacteria don't have it and have been around for over three billion years.""

        If intelligence is so overrated, as the Hawing statement suggests, let me ask you this: "Would you trade places with a bacterium, or an amoeba?"
        • Jun 6 2013: Hello Will,

          Thanks for the reply. I really enjoy these conversations. Here are my thoughts about your replies.

          Sounds like "the science of correspondences" that Adriaan sent me a link to above. I have not had enough time to read through it... however a hypothesis that there is a non-physical realm as Socrates described, cannot be tested so it is not science- but a belief.

          The evidence for the history of life is not complete- indeed. But there is A LOT we DO know. That is what I was referring to when I said we (life) were an accident. How the Big Bang, and the universe, originated is still being tested. If you want to call that inconclusive that's fine.

          I have not read anything about M-theory- maybe I should. Thankfully it's easy to google anything. Self generated matter doesn't sound plausible based on current understandings of physics and chemistry (matter is neither created or destroyed).

          Love and fear are human emotions that ultimately have no purpose because as I said- nothing has a purpose! Biologists would say that love is meant to drive us towards other humans for the proliferation of our species. Fear then is meant to protect us from things that would kill us. But those are not ultimate purposes-but instincts.

          Since I do not think love and fear were "created" then I cannot say if they were made so that we could experience who we are, as you said. I feel that humans act more bestial then human most of the time. Maybe that's just what we see and hear on the news though because that's what sells? I don't know.

          On that note- us humans tend to complicate things and sometimes I wonder if life as another animal would be simpler! I/you certainly wouldn't be aware of anything other than if you were safe and well fed, and your offspring were too. Maybe bacteria and amoebas live a perfectly satisfied life, after all ignorance is bliss! Maybe they are constantly terrified. By luck of the draw I'm typing this now. That's all- I could have easily been a bacteria
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        Jun 6 2013: "How the Big Bang, and the universe, originated is still being tested. If you want to call that inconclusive that's fine."

        It would be difficult to call it anything other than inconclusive, wouldn't you say? Creating the supposed physical conditions that existed just before the big bang, using the Large Hadron Collider, and studying that, won't get us any closer to definitive answers than we already have, despite claims that the God particle was detected.

        "Self generated matter doesn't sound plausible based on current understandings of physics and chemistry (matter is neither created or destroyed)."

        If not "created or destroyed," then matter exists and preexisted, as religionists say God exists, as an eternal substance, having neither a beginning nor an end. The only thing we haven't done yet is ascribe to this preexisting matter a consciousness, or a mind, but claim that this nonliving and mindless matter created both life and mind.

        "Love and fear are human emotions that ultimately have no purpose because as I said- nothing has a purpose!"

        Not even self-generating matter--it had no purpose? It supposedly created our purposeless universe, and peopled it with all kind of purposeless lifeforms. Using that purposeless mind, science has concluded that neither it, the universe, nor life itself has a purpose. Now I wonder what's the purpose of that? Science can't come up with a better hypothesis?

        "Biologists would say that love is meant to drive us towards other humans for the proliferation of our species."

        The sex drive does that without the introduction of love. It's what drives prostitution, and pornography as industries. Besides, how many other lifeforms in the animal kingdom mate without the impulsion of love.

        "Since I do not think love and fear were "created" then I cannot say if they were made so that we could experience who we are."

        You're right: Love wasn't made, but has always existed, and fear is a contrivance, and I'm running out of characters.
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        Jun 6 2013: "Love and fear are human emotions that ultimately have no purpose."

        I regret to say that you don't know Love. You haven't explored it, nor have you plumbed its depths, or you would never make such a statement. But you're not alone, most of humankind share your indifference to what you dismiss as a "human emotion."

        "a hypothesis that there is a non-physical realm as Socrates described, cannot be tested so it is not science- but a belief."

        Most of what make life purposeful can't be "tested." Science doesn't have to hypothesize a "non-physical realm," we enter it each time we enter the region we call sleep. We get further vestiges of this non-physical realm when science attempts to source life in body and mind in brain, and come up empty.

        "Maybe bacteria and amoebas live a perfectly satisfied life, after all ignorance is bliss!"

        You're begging the question; it doesn't make for a meaningful discussion. How many humans would opt to live life as a bacterium or an amoeba?

        "By luck of the draw I'm typing this now. That's all- I could have easily been a bacteria."

        Or by your judgment any life form. As much as you seem to want it to be so, your existence is not the work of chance, nor the "luck of the draw." Even now, in your life, as with all humans, nothing is left to chance. Along with billions of others, you're creating your experience, and you're creating it consciously and unconsciously.

        Metaphysics make life purposeful; without it, life would indeed be purposeless, and meaningless. More than a material world, we live in a world of ideas, which can't be seen nor touched, where house becomes home, a collection of people become families, and neighborhoods, political lines on a map become a nation, states, cities, so much paper and metal become currency, and squiggly lines on paper or on a computer screen become mathematics.

        Take away ideas, and the world truly becomes purposeless. With them, life becomes worth living, for the purpose of life is life itself
        • Jun 7 2013: Hey again Will,
          To put this in context- you are only arguing with half of me- my "science half." You and my faith half agree on a lot of this, and you and my science half disagree.
          Again-we do not yet know what happened before the big bang but the "self generating matter" idea most likely didn't because of what we DO know about matter now. Might there have been different rules of physics before the big bang? Maybe- we're crunching the #s now, and maybe we'll never know you're right.
          The evidence has led to the current theory yes- that very much by accident there was more matter in the early universe than antimatter. Also much by accident there was an unequal distribution of this matter. That meant that gravity could do its thing and the matter was attracted to the other matter which is why we got galaxies, stars, planets, and us.
          Yes again, science has found that ultimately there is no "purpose" even to the endeavor of science itself. This is a fine hypothesis! Why come up with a better one? We explore because we are curious, but the universe would go on without us, and if we didn't do this, our species would go on as well.
          Our emotions have been discovered to be combinations of neurotransmitters and hormones. My "faith" half still succumbs to them of course. I am happily married and have a 5 month old so I "feel" love regularly. Knowing love is tough- does anyone really "know" love?
          To beg the question is a valid argument if the premise is valid. Since the evidence shows that life is possible without intelligence (bacteria, etc..) then my premise was valid and so was my argument.
          See the third paragraph- we ARE the work of chance! To put this on the ground a bit- things happen to us almost daily that are "by chance" or in other words out of our control.
          Metaphysics is not science. That's ALL I've been saying- separate the faith and science. Ideas are not necessary for life. Saying the purpose of life is life itself is begging the question with an invalid premise.
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        Jun 7 2013: Hi Austin, I agree with your point about how the word 'siblings' is not quite right. Science and religion are very different approaches to the same thing. The spiritual realm is completely outside the spectrum of science.
        I just wish it would be easier for a scientist to say: 'although science cannot detect it, that does not mean it does not exist.'

        I also do not appreciate someone saying: there is evidence of what caused the big bang in a point, somewhere, 35 billion years ago. Would evidence be regarded the same as proof, or just looks like it?

        You mentioned the word faith a few times. This is our definition of faith.
        Faith is a person's internal acknowledgement of truth, from seeing and understanding it.
        This means that a faith in something we do not understand, is seen as a blind faith.
        • Jun 7 2013: Hey again Adriaan,

          I think it's hard for scientists to say "even though science can't detect it, it may exist" because science is all about evidence and if we don't have evidence then we cannot say for sure one way or the other. So an honest scientist would say "we don't know yet, maybe."

          I'm not sure who told you anything about 35 billion years ago- I wouldn't listen to any of that- the universe is "only" 13.5 billion years old (that's a HUGE amount of time!) so before that we don't know.

          More to your point though, evidence of the expansion of the universe is pretty good. Everywhere we look the light coming to us is red shifted which means the objects are moving away from us. What caused the big bang is another question. Really, the question is what happened before the big bang. It makes sense that if there was that much matter/energy in one point it would be unstable and would expand, or "explode."

          Does evidence equal proof- no. In science we cannot "prove" anything! We can only say "the evidence supports this hypothesis." Or "the evidence does not support this hypothesis." When enough evidence is found supporting a hypothesis it may become a theory but it's not unfalsifiable. There may come enough evidence later to show that it is wrong. If that doesn't happen it holds up. The only Laws though are mathematical equations based on physics such as F = MA.

          Thanks for your comment on the definition of faith. I'll mull it over, but wanted to get back to you about the first couple of comments right away. Take care.
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        Jun 7 2013: "Our emotions have been discovered to be combinations of neurotransmitters and hormones."

        This is the physical equivalent of an experience that occurs beyond the body, just as we can see some physical activity in the brain during the process we call thinking, although, like emotions, thinking occurs outside the brain.

        This rounds out the illusion of life in body and mind in brain, as science can't source in body or brain what was never there.

        "Since the evidence shows that life is possible without intelligence (bacteria, etc..) then my premise was valid and so was my argument."

        Your argument suggests that there's very little difference between complex life forms and simple life forms. And I countered by saying: Ruling out mental illness, the most complex life form, man, won't opt to be a bacterium or an amoeba.

        "This is a fine hypothesis! Why come up with a better one?"

        Science can do as it chooses, but, just as religion has failed to evolve mankind spiritually, science is leading the way by resolving all things into material components, as it searches for cause in effect. It won't find it there, but it will continue to try.

        Science reinforces the lie that we're physical beings (rather than spiritual entities), beings living in a physical universe, when our universe is actually mental, supported by a non-physical matrix, and subject to our thoughts on both the individual and collective levels.

        Drifting in the wrong direction, mankind will continue to struggle to exist, and, if not careful, it will destroy the very world that has served it so well.

        "We explore because we are curious, but the universe would go on without us, and if we didn't do this, our species would go on as well."

        Actually, we're on the threshold of self-annihilation, thanks, in large part, to science.

        "Metaphysics is not science."

        I never said it was, but it does drive science. It's called mathematics.

        "Ideas are not necessary for life"

        But where would life be without them?
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          Jun 8 2013: Processes occur beyond the body and mind because spirit is a false entity driven by the chemical processes within neurons. This is a mystical thing we call consciousness.

          "Mankind will destroy the very world it has served well." Well, if you mean by all of the atheist scientists telling religious people to stop pollution and acknowledge climate change as realism then yes. Science can even help us reach a new world beyond our own, like the moon and Mars.

          "Actually, we're on the threshold of self-annihilation." Largely due to military exercises because extremist and activist religions and even non-religious organizations won't accept humanity as a whole that needs to work together. This is largely due to lack of our own people refusing to help and distribute technology.

          Metaphysicians are often times just overly arrogant ontologists about their religion.

          Life would be where it was before ideas evolved into our time, obviously.

          Spirit is a false sense to meet human ambitions and expectations. Let's say there is nothing but horror, misery, and disappointment at death. Too bad. Death happens, and it doesn't mean it has to be a pleasant sense when you die with virgins, heaven, or your own planet.

          "In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." -Carl Sagan
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        Jun 8 2013: "Knowing love is tough- does anyone really "know" love?"

        To "know love" is not an intellectual exercise but one of expression. Had you as a young man practiced the presence of love, before you became an old man in the ways of the world, you would have developed a sense that would have given you amazing powers--"he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."

        We call this sense, "spiritual sense," and to the degree that you develop it will you wield this little-known, and little-used power.

        Jesus stilled the storm, turned water into wine, healed he sick and raised the dead with spiritual sense alone.

        Just think where mankind would be now had they simply practiced loving--dwelled in love--that purposeless emotion, if we're to believe science? The message is almost as old as recorded history:

        "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:

        "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

        It's never too late, but as with all things that require mastering, the sooner you start the more masterful you become over time.
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        Jun 9 2013: Hello Austin and Wil,
        The subject of love... it is the all in everything. As i mentioned before in relation with Rembrandt and his paintings. Nothing is done or changed, by a person, that is not motivated by a love or an affection. Even if that love can not be detected by science.

        Swedenborg says that love is not nothing but is a spiritual substance. It also can only exist in a free environment. No freedom means no love. Love is to wish well to.. whatever we love, to be connected to .. whatever we love, and to make whatever we love happy and content.

        However, love is only half the equation. Love without wisdom is nothing. We cannot love what we do not know or understand. We also cannot be wise on a subject we do not love.

        I love Swedenborg's writings because they seem to drive religion and science together. Our spiritual environment corresponds perfectly with our natural environment.
        Regarding that there exists a perfect correspondence between love and wisdom with the spiritual organs that receive them, namely our 'will' and 'understanding'. Again, this correspondence is perfectly expressed and portrayed by the relationship between our heart and our lungs.

        This means that the more we know (from science) about what a heart does and how the lungs work, and how they relate, the more we can know how our mind works.

        This, hopefully will shed more light on the subject. Our spiritual environment is portrayed by the Tabernacle of Israel, from the materials, their colors, the furniture including its placement, and the complete layout to the way it was used. As can be seen in this book.
        I asure you that God did not go into this much detail because He is a picky camper.
        http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/source/The%20Tabernacle%20of%20Israel.pdf?attredirects=0
    • Jun 5 2013: There's no reason to "teach all ideas." That's pure nonsense. If someone comes from a family that believes that the planet is flat and that there's edges from which ships can fall, why should I teach such crap? That someone believes it does not make it true. That someone believes it does not make it a reason to teach it.

      In science we teach science. not fantasy. If someone wants to "learn" that the planet is flat, and that they were created from mud, and that the first women was created from a rib, they are welcome to do so in their fantasy-land schools. I don't know about Austin, but I teach science. I will not pretend that fantasies are scientific. Not now, not ever.

      Do I teach them that their parents are full of crap? Nope. That's a judgement that they are free to pass if they so wish. I also don't tell them that they have to believe the science. If they prefer fantasy they are welcome to it. Only in the tests they have to demonstrate that they do understand the science. Understand, not believe.
  • Jun 2 2013: In the United States it is illegal to teach creationism due to the Supreme Court ruling in: Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987). In that ruling the high court dismissed the educational and scientific value of the "creationist" position, calling it a "sham," and accused the "creationists" of simply relabeling religious dogma as [pseudo] science. One of the Nobel laureates, Caltech's Murray Gell-Mann described the "creationist" position as less defensible scientifically than the notion that the earth is flat.

    We need to stop wasting out energies on this idiocy. The world is flat and creationism is pure religious dogma.
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      Jun 3 2013: "Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987) was a legal case about the teaching of creationism that was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1987. The Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring that creation science be taught in public schools, along with evolution, was unconstitutional because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion. It also held that "teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to school children might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.""
  • May 29 2013: Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief. ~ Frantz Fanon

    At the heart of Darwin's Theory is random change and natural selection. Computer Scientists have been experimenting with "Genetic Algorithms" for a long time now, and its clear they have enormous limitations. A computer program to play chess, for example, looks several moves ahead and chooses the move that will lead to the strongest position in the future. The power of a chess playing computer is determined by the number of moves it can look ahead. Any modern computer can beat the average human chess player, but it took a massive supercomputer to beat Kasparov in 1997. As the computer looks further into the future the number of combinations it must analyze increases exponentially. Chess playing algorithms regularly make short term sacrifices for longer term goals. Genetic Algorithms, however, can not do this because they are concerned only with the strength of the next generation. It does not matter how large the population or the length of time, Genetic Algorithms just can not solve Chess problems. Genetic Algorithms are also unable to build a structure such as a bridge which is only useful once it is complete and requires a complex series of meanwhile wasteful steps. Most of the scientific resistance to evolution in the past has come from mathematicians and engineers who have complained about this truly enormous problem. Biologists, on the other hand, tended to wave the theory through - but recent scientific advances in microbiology have been changing that. ~ Richard Dawkins

    Scientific Design has breached the evolutionary gap and must be addressed
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    May 28 2013: With all the conversation on the reality of creationism and evolution down to computer math is fun to read but is it relevant?

    The question begs if 46% of the population believe in creationism has led to the poor results in our educational system. I pointed out the that study of evolution in our school systems is measured in days and most high school graduates have little or no remembrance of the matter. Church affiliated student would quote creationism if asked as that is a oft repeated teachings in many religious ceremonies.
    I would maintain that there are a lot of reasons for the failure of our schools, but belief in evolution or creationism is away down the list.
    Most failures of organizations are lack of funding or mismanagement per my MBA classes.

    I got to think regardless of religious attitudes or scientific beliefs, it's school mismanagement.
  • May 28 2013: Does life 'advance"? Sure it does, that is not what is at debate here...

    The question of life’s origins in the universe has not been answered by science and only assumed by religion. What we do know is that “life DOES exist” and that is all that matters.

    To teach an assumption, being that of Natural Origins or an assumption, being that of a Divine being are both equally pseudo-scientific in nature without empirical evidence to either!

    Myself, I do not know where life first came from and I don’t pretend to know and to me and my logic, it matters not where or how life originated in the very first life ever in the universe, whether it be from a god or Natural Origins or something else we can’t even comprehend in our scientific level of achievement at this time in history. The only thing that really matters to me is knowing that “life DOES exist” and to assume how it came about is redundant and not logical unless you have empirical evidence backing such a stance.

    With that said, I can assume how life originated on this planet with some degree of scientific certainty.
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    May 25 2013: 46% of Americans believe in creationism and this is the problem in American education system. With the exception of a few religious schools where this a listed subject matter, I can not find many public schools that teach creationism as a standing course... I couldn't find any, but maybe there are some out there somewhere.

    But I love the premise... The lack of education is hung on the belief in creationism.... 46% no less.
    So, if we are to make a list of problems in American Education System that attribute to the lack of eduction, let me start:
    1.
    2.
    3.
    .
    .
    .
    98. Belief in Creationism.

    "nuff said.

    Seriously, the only science that comes to question out of... dozens of sciences taught is those few weeks in sophomore biology were evolution is discussed.

    "So, you say, if it is not creationism that has the American education system in it's death grip, what is it?"

    Simple. Public Schools are the most ill managed bureaucracies in the USA save governmental bureaucracies. But, they are closing in on 1st place.
  • May 22 2013: "A casual stroll through the insane asylum will demonstrate to you that "belief" proves NOTHING." - Friedrich Nietzsche

    Religious creation is based on belief, because all you have is assumption to “how life may have originated”.

    Abiogenesis is based on belief too, there is no evidence backing the concept of Natural Origins that can be produced showing empirical evidence to such.

    Advancements in all living things can be shown in the lab and any such advancement is called “Evolution”.

    Scientific Design can “advance” life by way of synthetically advancement and is not evolution because the theory lacks any reasonable explanation using design because of the bias set up to detour religious creation through a designing nature.

    To me there are not two but three options at debate…

    1. Creationism in the religious belief.
    2. Natural Origins followed by evolution.
    3. Scientific Design through lineage.

    #1 deals with a stance that can not be tested by the scientific means.
    #2 deals with an assumption that life must have originated somehow by natural means then evolved.
    #3 deals with the fact that life exists and will advance technologically to the point for space flight and synthetic biology and has a drive to spread wherever it ventures.

    To me, there is no way to test religious creationism so I ignore this stance, simple because one can not show evidence to such. Natural Origins seems legit but being a computer programmer, I have never seen code self create and that IS what life is…
    Lineage through scientific design coupled with the ability for life to advance in many ways has evidence backing such a stance in our own advancements and seems to me to be the most logical with the least amount of assumption but lacks a reasonable “origins” belief but stands as proven scientific fact. We need not know “where life came from” to know that life can advance to the point of scientific creation just as we need not know where life came from in the theory of evolution.
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      May 24 2013: Chris, I appreciate your agreeing with me that we cannot measure time the same as God.

      As to Kabbala....well, to be honest with you, I do not know much about it. Other than a bunch of people I see around my city wearing a red string around their wrist. What is the string suppose to symbolyze?
      From speaking to these individuals, I have not discerned any appreciation of scripture, or God, or anything spiritual in the slightest.

      And, if I may ask you, did you grow up with knowledge of the kabbalah?
      Or, did you acquire the knowledge as an adult, of your own free choosing?

      I have read your comments many times on here, but I had never had the opportunity to talk with you directly.

      *As a side note Chris, I see the science within the scriptures....but the scriptures were not meant to be a 'Science Book'. I would think that you would agree that it is much more than that, right?
      We do realize that the Holy book is not just a Bible......It is Holy Scriptures......as a matter of fact, that is what is printed on the front of my copy....."Holy Scriptures"
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          May 24 2013: Your explanation of the Arc of the Covenant reminded me of this:

          http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/nutrition/foods-that-look-like-body-parts-theyre-good-for-109151

          *******

          "What does that mean to you? What, in your understanding, makes scriptures 'holy'"

          I was referring to the term 'scriptures' and not to the word 'holy' when I made the statement you mention.

          But ok, I'll answer your question.

          Holy, to me is something clean and pure. In the case of the holy writings, or holy scriptures, holy would mean clean and pure writings.

          What is holy to you?

          *********

          And yes, I think Madonna had alot to do with people paying money to buy a piece of red yarn and wrap it around their wrist for protection. So people need this kind of lucky charm to function in society Chris? Is this something found in scripture, or is it just a tradition?
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    May 22 2013: They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
    Because I lack the vocabulary......here goes:

    http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q5/cdp40/2_8_Creationism.jpg

    Doesn't seem right to me. How about you?
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        May 23 2013: I thought that the picture tells alot......I also laughed when I saw it.

        I just ask myself, why would Christian parents allow teachers, who may not even believe in God, to tell their children about the creation account in the scriptures?

        Plus Kate, there are Bible literalists who take some bible verses literally....like creation actually taking only 6 days......and then there are those that realize that the scriptures use symbolism and narrate accounts of happenings from a "human" perspective so that us mere mortals may understand them.

        I don't believe that it took God literally 6 days to create our earth and the things in it.
        Scientific evidence tells us otherwise. In addition, the scriptures tell us that to God one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.....in other words, God doesn't count time like we do.

        I can't imagine Moses saying, "It took 698,000 years for the volcanic activity beneath the ocean to reach the surface, and then 3 million years for the land to begin to sprout vegetation, and so forth".
        What was recorded was what needed to be recorded at that time. (ps....the figures I use here are from my imagination just as an example, and not accurate).

        I have come to an understanding that the Bible is not a science book, but it explains certain scientific information to satisfy our curiosity. There are so many things we have yet to discover about our universe, our planet, our selves.........isn't it exciting that we don't have all the answers yet? It gives us something to look forward to, doesn't it?

        :)
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      May 23 2013: :-)
  • May 21 2013: I think it's time to give some direct answers to the questions posed in the article's title.
    No, (belief in) creationism does not by itself indicate a bad education. From the Scientific Revolution until today, many great intellects have accepted six-day (young-Earth) creation, and have believed the Bible. Many well-known creationist scientists have PhDs earned from secular universities.
    Yes, creationism has a good deal of credibility to it. That is: Even if you don't accept this view, there are strong points in its favour.
    (1) There is abundant evidence of design in the universe, and in living things in particular. Richard Dawkins defined biology as "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose," and he wrote, "Echo-sounding by bats is just one of the thousands of examples that I could have chosen to make the point about good design. Animals give the appearance of having been designed by a theoretically sophisticated and practically ingenious physicist or engineer...." (The Blind Watchmaker)
    (2) The Bible, a highly influential shaper of Western culture — including promotion of the development of science, as documented by historian Peter Harrison (The Bible, Protestantism, and the rise of natural science, Cambridge University Press, 1998) — is clearly a creationist book, if read in a straightforward fashion.
    (3) The materialistic evolutionary explanation of origins, despite all its high-powered advocates on this website and elsewhere, has some serious difficulties: the origin of something (a multiverse??) from nothing; the origin of complex life from unguided chemical reactions; and the origin of biodiversity through negative, destructive processes like mutation (information degraded) and natural selection (earlier deaths of some individuals).
    (4) As well, creationism implies ultimate purpose for our lives, whereas evolution leads easily to nihilism — with no ultimate moral accountability or justice for the oppressed.
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      May 21 2013: Have you read "Is God an Accident?" by Paul Bloom :
      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/12/is-god-an-accident/304425/?single_page=true
      You would enjoy it!
      • May 24 2013: Thanks, Bernard. It was an interesting article, indeed.
        But I disagree, of course, with the conclusion: "But the universal themes of religion are not learned. They emerge as accidental by-products of our mental systems. They are part of human nature."
        We are mentally and spiritually wired by the Creator. This was done in the original creation when humans were created "in God's image." Human nature is not the result of mindless evolution, but of divine creation.
        God is not 'an accident.' Nor is the universe, nor are you.
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      May 23 2013: 1. There is clear evidence of adaptation not design. Not a very competitent or kind designer if that were the case - birth defects, cancer, arthritis, dementia and animals surviving by killing or eating other living things. Also deceptive, making it look like natural processes are responsible, and there being no evidence of a designer, no acts of design we can examine in real time.

      2. Yes various forms of Christianity have been influential in the west, and the west has led the way in science for centuries. However it is fallacious to suggest that this means the bible claims or christian dogma are compatible with science.

      3. Evolution does not cover abiogenesis. Not having a well established scientific answer for life origins is not evidence for creation. Saying a creator did it out evidence is an argument from evidence. Suggest we don't have all the answers, but it does not follow that saying a supernatural agent did is useful for filling gaps.
      4. Humans can decide what their life purpose is and what is moral without a creator. No reason to assume a creator is a moral authority. Just because a god issues a divine command does not make it moral.

      I note many contradictory claims about divinely revealed morality reflecting subjective processes and no actual evidence of any creator.
      • May 24 2013: "1. There is clear evidence of adaptation not design." Well, Richard Dawkins is an Oxford zoologist and leading evolutionary spokesman. He says "design" and he says it repeatedly.
        "Not a very competitent or kind designer if that were the case" I assume you meant "competent." Richard Dawkins says "theoretically sophisticated and practically ingenious." Sounds rather competent to me. Are you a higher-level biologist than Dawkins is?
        Furthermore, the noted evolutionary philosopher Daniel Dennett has written, "There is simply no denying the breathtaking brilliance of the designs to be found in nature. Time and again, biologists baffled by some apparently futile or maladroit bit of bad design in nature have eventually come to see that they have underestimated the ingenuity, the sheer brilliance, the depth of insight to be discovered in one of Mother Nature's creations. Francis Crick has mischievously baptized this trend in the name of his colleague Leslie Orgel, speaking of what he calls 'Orgel's Second Rule: Evolution is cleverer than you are.' "
        Dennett does recognize good design — even though he won't give credit where it's due (i.e., to the true Designer).
        Regarding your concern/complaint about diseases and carnivory: Genesis 1 indicates that God's original creation did not include these. Suffering and death entered this world as a result of human treachery. The Creator will in time restore those pristine conditions following a time of cleansing and judgment upon sinners who have refused to repent.
        "3. Evolution does not cover abiogenesis." Every biology textbook discusses the origin of life in its "evolution" section. Upper level texts on Evolution all have a good-sized chapter on abiogenesis. Leading evolutionists view "chemical evolution" as a key problem in evolution (New Scientist 201[2693]:41-43, 2009).
        "4. Humans can decide what their life purpose is and what is moral" Such existential decisions are arbitrary and groundless, therefore ultimately unsatisfying.
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          May 24 2013: 1. If you think Richard Dawkins is proposing design or a designer, as opposed to what people often construe as design, then you must be talking about a different RD to the one I have read.

          I suggest when Dennett is talking about the appearance of design he is not proposing a designer too.

          Are you asserting that their use of the word design proves design?

          Are you really asserting Dennett and Dawkins are proposing design by a designer?

          Suggest Crick is talking about natural selection, changes in gene frequency, from less to more adapted h

          2. There are some amazing adaptations in nature. Life manages to struggle to survive in many harsh environments.

          I was referring to evolution due to natural selection (and other selection drivers). I understand some talk about evolution of the cosmos etc.

          Your god concept is typically all knowing and powerful. It set things up and knew what would happen. It set up a system where most don't believe it exists and associated dogma and supposed will suffer for eternity. Mmm great design if an intentionally cruel and malevolent being.

          4. A creator god deciding what the meaning of our existence is, is just as arbitrary. Which god concept, which dogma on meaning?

          I find a life without gods satisfying. You don't. You are welcome to your opinion.

          All but one contradictory theist belief must be incorrect. So most theists over the millennia believe/believed in false gods and false revelations about the meaning their god concept assigns to humans.

          And there is no good evidence for any of them to be correct.

          So chances are while you might find your theist beliefs give your life meaning, this is most likely based on false beliefs, or at best completely speculative and unverifiable. It seems most likely most theists are finding meaning in falsehoods.

          I prefer to find meaning based on what we best know, not speculative, subjective, faith based beliefs.

          Imagining or inheriting a cultural god concept is just as arbitrary or groundles
      • May 26 2013: Hi again. Dawkins and Dennett are, of course, atheists. They do not accept the Designer. Dawkins speaks of "apparent design" (which he thinks can be explained by natural selection rather than a personal Designer). Nonetheless they both affirm that organisms exhibit excellent design characteristics — despite various claims of "bad design," which are based in (as Dennett observes) ignorance.
        For more on "Dawkins and Design," see my writeup: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=67&Itemid=62
        You're right that the various views of a god/God/no gods are contradictory. No more than one of those conflicting views can be correct. We can at least agree on that. But if you think atheists are not afflicted with any inclination to speculation, subjectivity, or unwarranted faith in authority, you are simply self-deceived.
        Here's a quote from Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin that you might ponder:
        "... when scientists transgress the bounds of their own specialty they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan? What worries me is that they may believe what Dawkins and Wilson tell them about evolution." (The New York Review of Books 44[1]:30f., Jan. 9, 1997)
        Just before the above words, Lewontin had written (p. 30): "As to assertion without adequate evidence, the literature of science is filled with them. Carl Sagan's list of the 'best contemporary science-popularizers' includes E. O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, and Richard Dawkins, each of whom has put unsubstantiated assertions or counterfactual claims at the very center of the stories they have retailed in the market." (Lewontin goes on to provide specific examples.)
        For more on Lewontin's realistic warnings about scientism: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71&Itemid=62
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      Jun 3 2013: “creationism does not by itself indicate a bad education. From the Scientific Revolution until today, many great intellects have accepted six-day (young-Earth) creation, and have believed the Bible.”

      Yes, and people also believed in a geocentric solar system, the “five elements” and medicine centered around balance of humours. They were well-educated for their time, but we now know better.

      "(1) There is abundant evidence of design in the universe, and in living things in particular. Richard Dawkins defined biology as "the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose,"

      “The appearance of having been designed” is not evidence for design. It is the appearance of design. Illusion versus reality. Surely that’s not hard to understand?
      Dawkins never expected religious people to take the word "design" (implying a designer) so literally in The Selfish Gene and has tried to put this right ever since.

      "(2) The Bible, a highly influential shaper of Western culture — including promotion of the development of science"

      That is of no consequence. Being a shaper of culture does in no way prove your dogma right. And yes, the reformation - finally questioning religious dogma - opened the doors for science, but a thousand years of catholicism had closed them firmly before (science was a Greek invention, preserved by the Muslems for a time).

      "(3) serious difficulties: the origin of something (a multiverse??) from nothing; the origin of complex life from unguided chemical reactions;"

      I agree, those are still unanswered questions. We are uncertain there. But that does certainly not prove the bible right, and there are plenty of uncertainties and unanswered questions arising from religious explanations. We try to tackle our questions with hypothesis and experimentation, with reason and curiosity. We do not pretend to have all the answers, unlike the religious. We are not afraid of uncertainty.

      See below for the rest.
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      Jun 3 2013: “and the origin of biodiversity through negative, destructive processes like mutation (information degraded) and natural selection (earlier deaths of some individuals).”

      I think you have a limited view of genetics. Gene duplication, chromosome duplication, retrotransposons, perhaps even retroviruses; there are all sorts of processes that increase the genetic freedom that organisms have to adapt. Natural selection governs which alterations remain fixed in the organism.

      “(4) As well, creationism implies ultimate purpose for our lives, whereas evolution leads easily to nihilism — with no ultimate moral accountability or justice for the oppressed.”

      If a belief system gives us what we want – i.e. a purpose in life – that does not mean its assumptions are true. If my ideology says I have a million dollars, I’d love to believe it, but that doesn’t make it true. There is good evidence that moral accountability and justice for the oppressed are innate – even monkeys exhibit them. Conversely, religious beliefs often trample all over these attributes. Also, I think one could distill a very good morality from Darwinism, which recognizes the adaptive value of helping those in need and upholds the rights of every individual.
  • May 17 2013: I would put it this way: "Darwinism = Atheism". This is not a pure mathematical equality, obviously, since the two terms have different definitions and focuses. But it's a rather good first approximation: the concepts are readily/naturally compatible. As a potent "universal acid" (Dennett), Evolution tends to drive people away from the Bible, which is clearly a creationist book when read straightforwardly. Evolution undermines the historical foundation of the gospel provided in Genesis. Noted historian of biology Will Provine boasted: "Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism." And Richard Dawkins wrote, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." See my article on this, http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100&Itemid=54
    Regarding Kenneth Miller's book "Finding Darwin's God," I suggest this is a very silly title. Darwin was initially a Unitarian (where he attended services with his mother), then an orthodox Anglican (as he studied for the ministry), then an apostate from Christianity (secretly as early as the 1830s, then more openly after his daughter's death in 1851), and near the end of his life he called himself an Agnostic — which for him was distinguished from the title 'Atheist' mainly by its less aggressive attitude. "Finding Darwin's God" therefore means, historically, to slide from belief into unbelief, ending as an Agnostic/Atheist. To make the Bible allow Evolution, one must carry out an awful lot of Procrustean stretching or slashing, as seen in the various conflicting attempts such as the Day/Age theory, the Gap theory, the Revelatory day theory, the currently popular Framework view, etc. My brief review of Miller's book is here: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96&Itemid=54
    Atheist/evolutionist Will Provine recommends, Allow students to have full debate in science class: http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=103&Itemid=62
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      May 17 2013: Richard, I think it comes down to perspective, God's perspective and ours. Here's my take: God created everything, all at once, in the Holy moment of now, and, from our limited, human perspective, it required billions of years of evolution to arrive at our current place, harmonizing, to some extent, the views of creationists and evolutionists.
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      May 17 2013: Some great points here! :-)
      (Seems you are a very knowledgeable man!)
      The title shouldn't be taken literately! (Like all things, especially the "Bible").
      I think it was meaning that you could believe in evolution and be a Christian at the same time...
      Like I said I have no problem with theistic evolution, just creationism. Though I can't find myself to agree with their spiritual beliefs. However this is a very different matter.
      (Regarding them I take a very "Agnostic" approach. Rather similar to Bertrand Russell's!)
      If you wish to find another great biologist on "God(s)", then watch "Sir David Attenborough On God".
      Link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI7f3xVgZdA
      It is possible after-all.
      • May 21 2013: I agree, it is 'possible' to believe in God / a god and evolution.
        But I submit that it is not 'logically' possible to truly accept evolution (rank neo-Darwinism as expounded by its leading advocates) and at the same time to genuinely believe the God of the Bible.
        Those who claim to believe in the compatibility of the two worldviews are, as Greg Graffin discovered in his PhD research, often simply involved in a public relations game. http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=54
    • May 17 2013: The problem with your claims, Richard, is that you are imagining that your god is the only one that could be disbelieved by atheists. Sorry, but the world does not orbit around you and your beliefs. There's plenty of gods to reject, and there's plenty of Christian gods to reject. Yes, some gods can be rejected just because of evolution. Yes, evolution and atheism are very compatible, but evolution alone does not necessarily lead to atheism unless the god originally questioned by the atheist is one like yours.

      By the way, evolution is not the same as "Darwinism." Darwin proposed a mechanism and gave plenty of evidence that lead him to conclude that spies derive from common ancestors. But he did not know a lot of what we know today. It is a big mistake to talk about Darwinism when the person is discussing evolution. There's much more to evolution than what Darwin wrote more than 150 years ago.
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        May 21 2013: Sorry Entropy.
        I think you sent me to this, not Richard.
        Regards, :-)
        Bernard.
        P.S : Did you get my latest reply to you? :P
        • May 22 2013: Hi Bernard,

          The answer was for Richard. Check and you will see that the only way he could defend his position is by imagining that his god, sorry, not just his god, but his particular version of such god, is the only one an atheist does not believe. That's the only way in which evolution would equal atheism.

          I did not see your latest answer. you mean in the other discussion you had going? I might check later.
  • May 16 2013: That's like asking if eating chocolate means you have a bad diet. Learning about creationism says almost nothing about your education. Learning about creationism and NOT evolution says something. I'd say learning about evolution and NOT intelligent design isn't much of an education either. They're both theories. One is scientific. The other is philosophical. Teach both, one in science, the other in history or philosophy or religion.
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    May 16 2013: I have no problem with creationism being taught in schools - I have a problem with it being mandatory.

    If one wants to learn something that has no value outside of politics, then perhaps it would be better to offer a course on Aristotle.
    But if Creationism gets votes, then it should be available for those pondering a career in social totalitarianism through religious manipulation. The gospels class, of course, would be a subject attended by real Christians.

    The good thing about voluntary Creationist courses is that healthy humans will be able to identify the defective ones - they will be the ones in the class.

    But not to worry - Creationism is just a fashion statement - it will be replaced by flaired jeans and platform shoes .. or something just as silly.
  • May 16 2013: Creationism can be useful in a theology or philosophy class, however creationism in a science class would be absolutely ridiculous.
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    May 15 2013: Hi Carlos

    I agree with you. I think it is important to speak about religion, regardless of which branch, as it forms part of society. I was thinking more is it wrong to raise it science class - not really. But I think social sciences is the best and most appropriate place for it.

    Best Wishes
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      May 15 2013: "social sciences"
      What would "history" or "theology (or Religious studies)" be to you?
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        May 16 2013: Absolutely, as long as it covers all mainstream religions, i.e. Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, Sikhism etc.. Unfortunately religious studies in Australian schools teaches nothing but Christianity.
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      May 16 2013: I agree and would support Religious studies in state schools teaching about all the world religions past and present, but not indoctrination.

      Agree this is more humanities, social sciences.
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    May 15 2013: Wil,
    The killing of even 1 innocent person by any means is abhorrent to me and to do it in the name of God(s) is yet more despicable.

    Agreed education is an up the hill battle.

    There is no area of science invulnerable to criticism ---None--- bring your "A" game, roll up your sleeves and get ready to work to make the point heard( in the scientific community). Everyday, I say again daily, Scientists from all over this planet are working on new postulates, theories, research in a myriad of fields, there is No Sacred Cow in science, is not like Islam or the Vatican you know, or the Discovery Institute. No magic just hard work!

    Best regards,

    Physics is imagination in a straight jacket. ~John Moffat

    Cheers then!
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    May 14 2013: HI

    I am not sure it should be considered science as they have no evidence to sustain their clams. But I do feel that it should be presented to students in a non-mocking manner. Not to do so, would not present all sides of any argument, and thereby ignoring all views. It can be presented as "this is an alternative view that at present lacks evidence" - and let's face it, there never will be any evidence. Also, this would allow the introduction of how the sciences have been derailed and delayed by the church (in general).
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      May 14 2013: "I am not sure it should be considered science as they have no evidence to sustain their clams."

      Brian, I'm not as sure as you are. We both agree that there was a creation: a beginning. That in itself is as much "evidence" that's needed to support the existence of a "creator."

      What may be in contention is whether that creator was intelligent or not, or the nature of its other properties. M-theory says creation was the result of spontaneous self-generating matter, and that the big bang that resulted created a multiverse, not just one. If that's true, then science is positing the nature of God, a Creator, and calling it spontaneous self-generating matter.
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        May 14 2013: Hey Wil, thanks for commenting.

        I am not 'sure' that there was a creation or beginning? I am sceptical of all claims, but I err to science as they have the most tangible and "tested" answers. To accept that a "creation" occurred is to accept that a creator exist; and for that there is no evidence, only faith. Faith is not a foundation for science.

        I feel that I should point out I am not being disrespectful to religion, and declare my hand as closer to an agnostic, than a believer, as I don't know and I admire believers faith. I was responding to the question and it was asking should it be taught. I believe that it should be taught - but not as a science.

        That said, I do love the civility of this topic. We can discuss things like adults.
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          May 14 2013: "I am not 'sure' that there was a creation or beginning?"

          That's your prerogative, but it flies in the face of most scientific findings, and resultant observations, what is termed a big bang.

          We can't dismiss a beginning, as something was generated by the big bang that clearly wasn't there before, which resulted in our universe and what is now posited as a multiverse.

          It has nothing to do with "faith," but a Creator, in the case of M-theory, it's spontaneous self-generating matter. By any other name this matter would constitute that which gave rise to various universes, hence a Creator.

          My point: It's already being taught, but it's being taught without reference to God, or Genesis, or an Intelligent Designer.

          Brian, I put the "civil" in civility, and like that you appreciate it as well. With just a modicum of effort, we can all disagree without being disagreeable.
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        May 14 2013: " we can all disagree without being disagreeable"
        If only that was the case in all aspects of life... :P
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        May 14 2013: Hi Will,
        Currently, I don't think M-theory is talked about much in schools and I will not pretend to understand it in any way, but I doubt we currently need it for discussing whether or not any mention of a creator should be included in science class.

        According to theoretical physics and astronomy there was some beginning to this universe. The thoughts on this are complex and abstract and still riddled in mystery, but scientists are working to improve this (perhaps that's where M-theory comes in).

        However, to say that an intelligent creator was at the start of it all is quite a leap that poses a whole range of other questions that are next to unanswerable, which is intolerable to those who want to understand the universe. So far, a creator-hypothesis has also not seemed necessary in explaining things (although it has in the past, Newton being a good example).

        I would respectfully have to say I feel you are switching things around by taking "spontaneous self-generating matter" (I don't know the official scientific term and I'm not sure what it is) and calling it "god". You might though, if that is your definition of god; but it does not really help the conversation along because the term "god" comes with many religiously inspired connotations and symbolism that confuse things, especially in the classroom.

        Even if at some point, scientists do get stuck and require an intelligent creator or "starter" to understand the universe, we are still left with finding the nature of this thing/person/deity/presence/designer/intelligence/etc. Any guess is then as good as the rest and we'd have to find out more about it through hypothesizing and experimentation. Any reference to a specific religion (e.g. genesis) when mentioning this "designer" would be dishonest, as there are tons of alternatives already in human cultures, see also my reply to Peter Law below. More likely, a creator would be something new entirely.

        I hope the above was not disagreeable :)
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          May 14 2013: Hi Gerco.
          If we come down on the creation side of the argument, surely it makes sense to continue the quest. The bible then becomes a source of attention. Does geology really allow for a cataclysmic worldwide flood? Did the history of the Jewish nation turn out as predicted? If we apply the scientific method to each 'Holy Book' in turn; how do they stack up?
          It's really just a quest for truth, leave no stone unturned. What else have we to do while awaiting our turn to go?

          :-)
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          May 14 2013: "According to theoretical physics and astronomy there was some beginning to this universe."

          If a "beginning," then a creation. If a "creation," then that which created, a creator. The problem is semantics. Science would rather call the creator spontaneous self-generating matter, while the religionist would call the Creator, God.

          If God is that which initially created our universe, and we posit that that creator is self-generating matter, by any other name, we've identified our creator.

          "to say that an intelligent creator was at the start of it all is quite a leap that poses a whole range of other questions that are next to unanswerable"

          Here's a "leap." Was this self-generating matter intelligent or unintelligent? If unintelligent, then how was it possible for non-intelligence to create mind, and therefore intelligence, an intelligence evident in our animial kingdom although in varying degree.

          "So far, a creator-hypothesis has also not seemed necessary in explaining things."

          And that's my point: It's inescapable. Whether the creator is called "self-generating matter" or the Judeo-Christian God, it's impossible to ignore a Genesis, a beginning, and, if a beginning, a Creator.

          "I feel you are switching things around by taking "spontaneous self-generating matter"... and calling it "god"."

          Fair enough, but, more to the point, I'm calling it the Creator. For, at bottom, that is what a God is.

          "but it does not really help the conversation along because the term "god" comes with many religiously inspired connotations."

          Perhaps not. But since, depending on which side of the divide you rest, it's all speculation, theoreticlal, and inconclusive, why not give as much weight to a God as creator, as to spontaneous self-generating matter, or any other speculative scientific answer for how our universe was created?

          From a supposed "self-generating matter," a non-intelligent and non-living substance, we posit the creation of both life and mind. Why not the opposite?
        • May 15 2013: Gerco, I find it interesting you said "However, to say that an intelligent creator was at the start of it all is quite a leap that poses a whole range of other questions that are next to unanswerable, which is intolerable to those who want to understand the universe." Do you consider them unanswerable because they are not testable, and thus outside the realm of science? If this is the case, then there will always be unanswerable questions. Anytime you question issues of purpose, meaning, or a potential first cause outside our physical world before the universe or multiverse existed, you are asking questions that science can't address. But that doesn't mean they are not worth asking. Science is an incredible tool, but it does have its limits, as there are certain things that simply can't be put to the test. But it also is not the only method used to arrive at knowledge. If you really want to "understand the universe" (and obviously to me, you do), you will inevitably arrive at questions that science cannot answer. Even if every aspect of how the universe works/exists is someday explained, it still leaves the 'why'? If there is no why, it still leaves us asking "why do we think there could be a 'why'?" Either way, questions are unanswered. If having questions that science can't answer is "intolerable", then it will always leave you in a difficult spot, as such questions will always exist.
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        May 15 2013: Hi Wil, (this is a reply to "If a "beginning" then a creation.")

        You make some interesting points.
        "Science would rather call the creator spontaneous self-generating matter, while the religionist would call the Creator, God."

        To make this creator or starter or prime mover something living, intelligent and personal would require some extraordinary evidence, which - as far as I and the rest of science can see - has not presented itself so far*. Calling this creator "God" already implies the latter and often also gives the idea that it is something which intervenes AFTER the initial creation; simply by the the religious connotations attached to the term "God". For an interventionist God, there is even less evidence or explanatory need than for a prime mover/initial creator.

        "why not give as much weight to a God as creator, as to spontaneous self-generating matter, or any other speculative scientific answer for how our universe was created?"

        Simply because scientists see as yet no need for an intelligent creator. If they do at some point, then the investigation has only just begun, because what was this creator?

        "Whether the creator is called "self-generating matter" or the Judeo-Christian God,"

        And that is where a major problem lies, see my last paragraph in my previous post as well as some others: THERE ARE TONS OF CREATION MYTHS. Taking Genesis (universe created in 6 days, starting with earth), this is refuted right off the bat by physics and cosmology; then there are loads more to investigate merely as hypotheses, but most are incompatable with science. Evaluating all in science class would make it religious class.

        * In case that by such evidence you mean this: "If unintelligent, then how was it possible for non-intelligence to create mind, and therefore intelligence"

        To me, this is not a paradox. Intelligence and mind can come from the mass of grey matter in our heads, with no problem of this coming about through millions of years of natural selection.
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          May 15 2013: "To make this creator or starter or prime mover something living, intelligent and personal would require some extraordinary evidence."

          To make this creator less than living and intelligent would defy logic, since we'd have to posit that non-intelligence created both mind and intelligence. What's more paradoxical than that?

          "For an interventionist God, there is even less evidence or explanatory need than for a prime mover/initial creator."

          Universal laws set in motion at the beginning of creation would be the only intervention required, that and an evolutionary mechanism to control species adaptation over time.

          "Simply because scientists see as yet no need for an intelligent creator."

          And that's the rub. It's impossible to reconcile an intelligent and life supportive creation (biological organisms) with non-intelligent and nonliving matter. To posit such is not scientific so much as it's a conscious effort to rule out the presence of an intelligence or an existence preceding, and at the moment of, creation.

          "THERE ARE TONS OF CREATION MYTHS."

          And many, derived from different cultures, and without known cross-cultural encounters, are similar.

          "Taking Genesis (universe created in 6 days, starting with earth), this is refuted right off the bat by physics and cosmology;"

          Indeed it is, if we're talking about a material creation as opposed to a spiritual creation. In the beginning God (Spirit) created the heavens and the earth. The six days aren't diurnal days since a measurement of time had yet to be created, even if we are to take Genesis literally.

          ¶ And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

          This occurred on the third day, although we're told that, on the first day, God created light and called it Day and the darkness, Night.

          If "Intelligence and mind can come from the mass of grey matter," why can't science source mind in brain?
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        May 15 2013: "To make this creator less than living and intelligent would defy logic, since we'd have to posit that non-intelligence created both mind and intelligence. What's more paradoxical than that?"

        Well, for example, an intelligent deity creating an enormous (truly mind-bogglingly vast) universe just so that we on this tiny planet could worship him, I find more paradoxical. I really do not see a problem with blind evolution giving rise to our level of cognition through natural selection. I'm sorry.

        "it's a conscious effort to rule out the presence of an intelligence or an existence preceding"

        But allowing for the presence of an intelligence preceding requires so much more explanation. Where did it come from? Why did it create anything? Now that brings us to religious answers, but those have no place in science per se for, as I said, there are many creation myths.

        "many [creation myths] derived from different cultures, and without known cross-cultural encounters, are similar."

        No. Not really. If there are superficial similarities, you may need to wonder how many ways - conveivable to stone age man - there really are of talking about some beginning from nothing/chaos/otherwise. The fact that there are wide differences - even between those WITH cross-cultural encounters - already is a very strong point against the notion of revelation and for the notion of fabrication by people.

        "if we're talking about a material creation as opposed to a spiritual creation."

        We can only talk about material creation as spiritual creation is exactly something that science cannot work with. Such caveats take the origins debate only further from the realm of science; what would falsify an intelligent creation for you?

        "why can't science source mind in brain?"

        Assuming you are right, it is because our brain is very complex. But neuroscientists are working hard to find the answers to such questions, but there so far seems no need for a supernatural dimension to our consciousness.
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          May 16 2013: "Well, for example, an intelligent deity creating an enormous (truly mind-bogglingly vast) universe just so that we on this tiny planet could worship him, I find more paradoxical."

          God doesn't need you to worship her. You've heard wrong. What would be the purpose of that?

          "I really do not see a problem with blind evolution giving rise to our level of cognition through natural selection. I'm sorry."

          Given what this supposed "evolution" has wrought, living organisms, and minds that can reflect upon themselves, and upon their environment, I'd call that evolution with 20-20 vision, and far from blind.

          And to consider further, that it all started with dumb matter, matter that's nonliving and non-intelligent, yet able overtime to transform itself into that which is alive and intelligent, I call that the greatest "magic" trick of existence.

          "Where did it come from? Why did it create anything? Now that brings us to religious answers, but those have no place in science per se for, as I said, there are many creation myths."

          And the preexistence of self-generating matter, or any matter, doesn't elicit the same questions?

          "No. Not really. If there are superficial similarities."

          Not the myths that I have read: the premise being how similar they all are, and how they share pretty much the same or similar elements.

          "We can only talk about material creation as spiritual creation is exactly something that science cannot work with."

          Since the Bible and many other Holy Writ speak of spirituality and spiritual things, small wonder that those who approach them from a physical, material, scientific bases often misrepresent what they've read, or don't fully comprehend what is being stated.

          "Such caveats take the origins debate only further from the realm of science; what would falsify an intelligent creation for you?"

          You're right: Creation is not in the "realm of science," and science will never get to the bottom of it, nor get to the bottom of man himself.
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        May 17 2013: "God doesn't need you to worship her. ... What would be the purpose of that?"

        Well I don't know; what would be the purpose of anything? How do you know there even is a purpose to anything??

        "I'd call that evolution with 20-20 vision, and far from blind."

        The process of evolution by natural selection is blind, but it produces some good results that are often mistaken for visionary design, yes.

        "Not the myths that I have read: the premise being how similar they all are, and how they share pretty much the same or similar elements."

        Now I'm curious as to which would be these similar but unrelated creation myths (I'm quite sure I could give you a couple that are different). My point was that the fact that there are differences is enough to dismiss all of them as THE truth. Science would still have to be used to uncover the origins of the universe, creation myths are not going to help with that.

        "Since the Bible and many other Holy Writ speak of spirituality and spiritual things, small wonder that those who approach them from a physical, material, scientific bases often misrepresent what they've read, or don't fully comprehend what is being stated."

        Oh and religious people are free from this difficulty?! With all the religious strife going on the world, all the disagreement on completely unfounded spiritual readings, wars being fought over which type of Christian or Muslem someone is, they all fully understand the written works? Both sides in every argument?!? A couple weeks ago, I witnessed personally a young earth creationist lecture an intelligent design proponent. They cannot both be right!!

        "Creation is not in the "realm of science," and science will never get to the bottom of it, nor get to the bottom of man himself."

        I didn't mean the origins of the universe are outside the realm of science, I think that the causality of the universe can be investigated scientifically. You didn't answer my question: what would falsify an intelligent creation for you?
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          May 18 2013: "Well I don't know; what would be the purpose of anything?"

          You are the purpose of everything: You're alive and you're experiencing the process we call life. What greater purpose could one ask for, or hope for?

          "The process of evolution by natural selection is blind, but it produces some good results."

          It depends on how you define "good results." Evolution is not unlike the various laws of the universe, let's say, gravity, but these laws aren't self-determinant, but are established my an all-pervasive intelligence.

          "My point was that the fact that there are differences is enough to dismiss all of them as THE truth."

          Well, you should stop your search now, as you'll never find The Truth in this realm of existence, only a shadow of it. Reacquaint yourself with Socrates' allegory, The Cave, which approximates a version of the truth.

          Rather than throw out the baby with the bath water, cull from these myths areas where they do agree, and fashion a narrative of concordance, as they tell a story about the human condition, but not about ultimate reality, The Truth.

          "Science would still have to be used to uncover the origins of the universe, creation myths are not going to help with that."

          Stranger things have happened. Science doesn't have the means to "uncover the origins ot the universe." Its methodologies are inadequate for the task.

          "they all fully understand the written works? Both sides in every argument?!?"

          They "understand" what they understand. You understand what you understand. And I understand what I understand. It's what we do with that understanding that determines our outcomes.

          "I witnessed personally a young earth creationist lecture an intelligent design proponent."

          When God created light and called it Day, and darkness Night, a diurnal day hadn't been created.

          God created everything in the Holy moment of Now, and from our limited, human perspective, it appeared to have taken billions of years of evolution to achieve it.
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          May 18 2013: "You didn't answer my question: what would falsify an intelligent creation for you?"

          When science renders me--that I live and think, that I possess life and mind, that I act and am conscious--a myth.

          My answer is not as flippant as it might appear at first blush. Says Robert Frost:

          Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
          I took the one less traveled by,
          And that has made all the difference.

          Humanity once had two roads it might have traveled, the one laid by Socrates, and the one laid by Aristotle. We chose the latter, and that choice not only "made all the difference," but a difference that will ultimate in our demise, if we don't retrace our steps, and take the road "less traveled by."

          If you doubt me, take a long, hard, studied look around, and if you can read the signs of the times, you won't miss what we're doing to ourselves, our planet, and our longevity.
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      May 15 2013: Brian,
      Is better to keep Creationism out of the science classroom and push that debate to a social studies. To bring Creationism side to side with evolution, even without evidence is like presenting about Astrology in an Astronomy class as the "other "side of the issue, there is no other side.

      Cheers!
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    May 14 2013: Which came first, creation or evolution? We speak of evolution as though it was the cause of all that we see rather than the controlling adaptive mechanism that it is.

    Stephen Hawking is fond of M-theory which posits the existence of self-generating matter. It's not that science doesn't believe in a creator, it would just rather assume that it wasn't intelligent, and that the amazing design of the universe has no purpose, and no designer.

    Now, I'd say that that's a true leap of faith.