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Proving/disproving Atheism.

This conversation seems necessary because there are similar conversations out there that are trying to prove otherwise.

If you're accustomed to the religious debates here on TED you'll get the point...

Please, provide some proof!

EDIT: PLEASE, PLEASE start new threads instead of commenting on really long ones!


Closing Statement from Jimmy Strobl

Since I'm an (still) Atheist a summary would be unfair to many... Instead I've done this!


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    Jun 30 2011: When proving "x" exists, the onus of proof is on the claimant.
    In the case where x is a Deity, it is up to the supporters of it prove that their deity is real.
    If an astrologer claimed that stars were made of gas, it would be his responsibility to support evidence as to why. No one is obligated to offer evidence saying stars are not made of gas UNTIL the astrologer has offered his evidence.

    If a christian said that god is real because it can't be disproved, their argument is invalid because it can't be proved either. In order for a claim to be disproved, an attempt must be made first to prove it.

    There are is an infinite number of claims that can't be disproved, but a finite number of claims that can.

    By the way, did you know that I have a pet optonokter? I can't show you because it lives in the center of Mars, but I can subconsciously communicate to it telepathically. Don't believe me? Well if you can't prove that I'm lying then IT MUST BE TRUE ;)

    I'm Agnostic by the way, or better yet a de facto Atheist.
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      Jul 1 2011: Dan, I take issue with your characterization of the optonokter as your 'pet.' Telepathic communication may give you a form of limited access to its workings, but you cannot truly be its caretaker, as it exists beyond your grasp and control. Perhaps the matter should be re-explored from the opposite perspective: the psychic powers that provide for telepathy are not derivative from your DNA structures; rather, they are possessed and controlled the optonokter, making you the object of its communcative actions. Is it not worth considering that perhaps you are its pet?
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    Jul 25 2011: Atheism exists - as long as a single person asserts that there is no God.

    I know of several such people (and my findings are replicable) so I have just "proven" atheism.

    I can prove theism the same way.

    Now, if you want to prove there is, or is not, a God ... well ... that's a little harder.
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      Jul 12 2011: Hahaha, thanks for re-lighting the spark of this conversation S.R!
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      Jul 12 2011: S.R. Ahmadi,
      I think you are absolutely right..."people on ted are not interested to hear...sermons". If you ever get to the place in yourself when you can have a reasonable discussion, without sermons that promote your own limited belief, people may be interested in discussing with you. I'm not seeing that in you.

      You write..."when women enter a debate hyjack it to emotional talks instead of logical".
      What is your point in making that statement on this thread? You are criticizing half the TED population, and it has nothing to do with this topic.

      You state..."Mullah's have beard...one day a Mullah shaves his beard..."
      That has nothing to do with the topic

      The fish understands what water is....has nothing to do with the topic.

      You too S. R. Ahmadi..."have a nice life and a nice death".
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        Jul 12 2011: I hope you're not upset Colleen, I view it as really good, bizarre humor!
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          Jul 12 2011: Yes it is humorous...what goes around comes around!

          The pot is calling the kettle black...
          Women hyjack debates with emotional "stuff"??? Are you kidding me!!!!!!!!!!!
          It's pretty emotional to tell everybody who does not believe in his/her god over and over and over again that s/he is going to hell, don't you think?
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        Jul 12 2011: Colleen, you have to understand that you and me don't even need to speak of this, we're in full agreement!
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          Jul 12 2011: I know that Jimmy...I'm not upset.....................much:>)

          Consider yourself thumbed up...I'm maxed out for you this week:>)
  • Jul 8 2011: (How about we get back to the matter at hand?...)

    The primary reason I consider myself Agnostic rather than an Atheist is because I have no reasonable answer for how the Universe [and reality as we know it] started. What initiated the whole causal chain that has led to the creation of our Universe?

    Could it have always existed? No, that would exempt all matter from needing to have a primary cause (or causes).
    Did it spontaneously appear due to purely arbitrary happenstance? Purely arbitrary event = inconvenient impossibility
    Is our Universe merely the result of a fluctuation of "nothing"? (along the lines of Krauss' theory) I don't know, seems semi-plausible I guess.

    P.S. - I'm not arguing that the only other option is a deity. I'm just laying out some theories and looking for feedback. I'm on the fence.
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      • Jul 8 2011: Hi Birdia,

        "Why/How do you think it is a concept that is often difficult for people to embrace?"

        Possibly because spontaneity has no guidelines, no rules, no laws!... (which can be scary and disconcerting to many of us!)

        "And I think the idea of spontaneity is linked to what we call 'inspiration', of which, is the starting point of creativity that at times leads to the musings/concept of 'free will'. Is there a scientific explanation for this process? What do you think?"

        From what I've heard... scientifically speaking, that moment of creativity results from neurons firing in a drastically new and unique way due to exposure to new environments. (I heard this in a TED talk a couple months ago.)
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          Jul 8 2011: Birdia, Austin

          ,Your exchange is getting right at the heart of why belief systems become so rigid ( including the memes that float around TED Connversations)

          There seems to a sense of security in shared knowledge right or wrong

          I agree with both of you that being comfortable with randomness, with spontaneity, with the unknown and unknowable the seeminggly impossible and inexplicable is vital to all human activity not just to art and poetry. ( And by unknown and unknowable I refer to big questions in science e.g. what is the other 95% of te universe made of and why is it invible? what is gravity anyway and why is it so weak? What makes an individual human cell spontaneoulsy change ?)

          The TED talk on surrendering or judgment to "Experts" was really pointing to that as well, I think. The "Filter Bubble" referred to at another TED Talk feeds that. Tom Atlee has been exploring that in a series of essays at his posterous blog and also at the website for the Co-Intelligence Insitute.. Atlee calls it "The Commodification of Narcisissim" and suggest in part that it s caused by disenfranchisement and a sense of powerlessness. Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf Schools emphasizes the importance of intuition in developing human intelligence and in discovery and interpretation.

          The question is if you are so locked into your belief system ( and here I am including our Dawkinists who repeat the same phrases over and over and over with a dogma that is as limiting and mystifying as the creationsist and the Tea Party Republicans)..how do you change that? How do you move whole cultures out of this lock step way of thinking? Out of passivity into being engaged and creative in reshaping our culture?) I was trying to explore that a bit in my conversation on updating our belief systems.What you are pointing to is key.
  • Jul 1 2011: Proving something requires truth, which in element means verifying a result. This is completely impossible with an ancient text (foundations of most religions). Even if it predicted certain things happening, this can just be put down to coincidence. No less explainable than a winning lottery ticket.

    Proof requires evidence, religion is called "faith" as it requires belief without evidence.
    • Jul 1 2011: Aren't we all condemned to "believe" until we reach the point of "knowing" The Atheist as well as the Theist...
      No one knows for sure that "for them" the sun will rise tomorrow... most likely it will for most of us... but there is always that little chance...
      One can explain the universe logically, mathematically, with laws of physics that we understand to apply both to microcosm and macrocosm ... but the mystery of it all awakens a feeling of awe that cannot be denied. Without this feeling of awe and the longing to understand the principles involved in everything we can sense. But our senses are limited in many degrees as well as our thinking. But as history has shown, mankind has developed in leaps and bounds towards a fuller understanding of the physical world.. and this is very good. On the other hand, what we today would call "faith" or the "perhaps" once known realms of the invisible world have disappeared for us... thus we establish "re-legion" or to re- link with this invisible world. Now I have taken off into a non-scientific platform by speaking of the invisible. But I ask you, what is your own thinking if not an invisible and most essential invisible part of your being..? People don't realize this that their thinking is the "spiritual" part of their being. Neither the Theist or the Atheist realize this... Can you deny your own thinking because of the fact that it is immaterial....? Can you weigh and measure and thus prove that you have a thought.... right now..... Can you then "prove" that you think....??
    • Jul 7 2011: Jack,
      It's been a long time since you have had any comment here, but should you come back, read my last comment to Jimmy... Thanks!
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    Jun 30 2011: lol...

    Just do the math:
    count all evidence for the existence of non-material creatures.
    then make a prediction of collective odds of any one of them existing and give the assumptions.

    Thus far, I never found any suggestive data for any one of them.
    The more knowledge I gather, the less probable its existence becomes.

    My estimate is going to zero asymptotically...
    So my proof is an asymptotic proof... and I predict that in infinity it is 0

    Non existence of anything follows this inductive logic.
    So saying there is no proof is incomplete.
    There is probabilistic proof...
    • Jun 30 2011: Saying there is asymptotic proof is highly dependent on what you consider evidence and probable, making it subjective. There is no [objective] probabilistic proof. What is your counterargument for the assertion that "some thing cannot come from nothing"? I'm not asking rhetorically, I'm curious.
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        Jul 1 2011: Well, according to what I think to understand about the universe, virtual particles come out of nothing... so I cannot completely agree with that assertion.

        I cannot go into detail about subjectivity, but I go by with what I know (I cannot do otherwise).
        If we had enough time and mutual understanding, we can argue what we both agree on as evidence and assign values to it, according to certain assumptions.
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      Jun 30 2011: C....Doesn't probablistic proof sound like an oxymoron ?
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        Jul 1 2011: I don't think so.


        Is a book on how plausible reasoning works. It is a very recent book, and the math becomes rather complicated after a while...
        Anyway, asymptotic approximations are accepted tools in math and statistics.
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          Jul 1 2011: Thank you Chris I have bookmarked the link and I will check it out.
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        • Jul 3 2011: Jim,
          If I understand you correctly, we can't have any real "proof" of anything other than if it is in the realm of a purely mathematical or logical domain. To add another would be geometry. This is something that Christophe should read carefully. On this I fully agree. Proof shows to be a rather illusive self delusion when it comes to mathematically trying to convince oneself and others that their own world view is at all scientifically provable. To try to draw the poker card of a mathematical calculation as "proof for a view of life (Atheist in this case) is neither logical or reasonable. I used the word foolish as to the "proposition" which is actually Jimmy Stroble's and not Chris's at all... so it should be he that might feel offended ..... Although Chris also fell into the fallacy of this way of thinking. So I'm at least reassured that someone along this line of threads agrees with me that to "prove" a certain perspective on life is not worthy of discussing.... It makes one sound very unscientific ........ not to mention naive...
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      Jul 1 2011: Any idea for which there is no evidence objectively cannot rise over any other idea of the same vein. This is quite independent of how many people believe it to be true. Thus, the existence of God is one idead out of a quasi infinity of possible ideas without evidence. One divided by infinity is almost nearly 0. That is not to say that it isn't possible, but it is so improbable that for one to act as though it were definitely true is prepousterous. People may believe what they want, but when that conducts them to view homosexuality as a sin and mysogeny as the natural way of things, then a line has been crossed. Why should people have to suffer the behaviour of people who are convinced by an improbable scenario?
      • Jul 1 2011: I'm only arguing that a supreme and everlasting entity could exist... nothing more. I don't let religious dogma override logic and proven scientific data. My faith is totally personal and without restriction... I agree lines are crossed when that sort of thing happens.
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          Jul 1 2011: That's good Austin, if only more of the faithful were like you.
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          Jul 1 2011: Hi Austin.................I will go along with you. I believe that an uncaused cause exists but I am certainly not doctrinal nor dogmatic. I love everyone (using that as a verb and not an emotion) I am human and sometimes my "evil twin" comes out,but that is only when I become irrational. I am not above anyone and no one is above me Smile
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          Jul 1 2011: Hi Helen, Matthieu, Austin and Christophe:>)
          I love everyone too Helen...it's just fun:>) I'm also amused by the arguments. You are stating your arguments based on known theories. Do you honestly believe that as humans we have ALL the information?

          P.S. Helen,
          I finally answered your question on the "what do you think about death" site, and I apologize for the delay. I was away at my son's wedding:>)
        • Jul 1 2011: Hi Colleen! Long time! I've been to busy these past few months to keep up on TED, but this conversation seemed so interesting that I just couldn't resist.
          Although I don't really think anyone can "prove" anything about being an atheist... but I think we can really get a good exchange of ideas around the subject. I see that NDE is already on the agenda .... Good Luck!!
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          Jul 1 2011: Hi Daniel!
          Nice connecting with you again:>) We will just have to see what "proof" surfaces:>)
          I'm thankful that I'm not here to prove anything:>)
        • Jul 1 2011: Austin,
          And your right Austin ! Religious dogma should absolutely never override your logical mind. It should never override anyone at all. Any action taken in the world that is done out of the conviction of a religious dogma dictating to me what I should do is a totally unfree action. But logic can be unified with an understanding of the spiritual world without any contradictions. This seems to be the biggest gap for many.. There is no bridge between the two. But I say that there is.... perhaps later we can get into what and where these bridges are.
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          Jul 1 2011: Of course we don't have all the answers Colleen, but while we're looking for the answers, let's not pretend to have the answer at the expense of other individuals. Also, let's put it out there that some forms of theism are incompatible with reality even with the current knowledge we have, such as young Earth Creationism, which contradicts observations in just about all the fields of science.
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          Jul 1 2011: Matthieu...???
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          Jul 1 2011: In case you were worried I wasn't talking about you, I'm not sure what your religious views are. I'm talking about the millions of theists who take their beliefs to be fact at the detriment of many in society. Should have made that clearer, sorry.
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          Jul 2 2011: Hi Matthieu,
          I'm not worried...just a little confused by your previous comment..."let's not pretend to have the answer at the expense of other individuals". I did not suggest that. My only "religious view", is that I accept and appreciate anyones right to practice a religion IF it does not adversly impact others' rights in any way.
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          Jul 2 2011: Yes, well I can agree to that.
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          Jul 2 2011: Colleen:
          "Do you honestly believe that as humans we have ALL the information?"
          I don't know about the others (though I can guess), but I definitely think we don't; and that we probably never will
          If we would have ALL information, we wouldn't need statistics in science, or inductive logic for that matter...

          It is exactly because we have incomplete information that we have mathematical models for it, and that we have figured out how to make reasonable claims about reality.

          I state that, given all information that I have obtained, the probability has been converging to 0 of any nonexistent thing. I do of course imply that any new information can change my opinion.
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          Jul 2 2011: I totally agree Christophe:>)
          I percieve life to be an exploration, and with new information, my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, ideas and opinions often change as well. It feels to me like those who think they have the "right" answer, have ended the exploration...which is always a choice:>)
    • Jul 1 2011: Very funny :)
      Math vs. God = Math vs "void" = Math
      Prove or tautology?

      (I'm Atheist converted 17 years ago from agnosticism)
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        Jul 1 2011: Jose................Just asking out of curiosity, was there any specific point that brought about your conversion ?
        • Jul 3 2011: Thanks for asking. Not really a point. Agnosticism was only the tag I put myself in the times when I didn't think deeply in religion. I was young. Years later I discovered philosophy and science. I learn a lot on religions too. Later I attend Physics at university and realized all big mystery were explained. Well explained. The critic thinking and a deep scientific knowledge of the universe moved me to Atheism. When I need an explanation of a fact I follow the causality chain backward to the beginning. And god isn't anywhere in that chain.
          Some day a persons ask me about god and I realized I become Atheo.

          I respect your choose to believe but I can't share it.

          I read your comments. Nice to meet you.
    • Jul 1 2011: Chris,
      Face it.... such things cannot be proven.. you can't "prove" it with math .... and it's a foolish proposition to suppose it possible.
      Can you prove to me that you think ? Isn't your own thinking non-material ....?

      What is the mathematical probability that a human being can think....??? It sounds pretty absurd... but I'm sure that you can come up with a bright answer...... or ?
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        Jul 3 2011: Daniel,
        It is not good to project ones own ignorance onto others.

        For me to prove that I think, we need to agree on a test that would be sufficient for you to accept that I think. But the fact that I can reply to you should be good enough already.

        The probability that people think is near 1. And we do this with our brains, which is clearly a physical thing, as is all the activity and computation going on in there.
        All information and computation needs a measurable difference in some kind of matter. Information needs a carrier there is nothing immaterial about it.

        [edit: I did make the error daniel points out below]
        • Jul 3 2011: Chris,
          Being aware of the apparent danger that I set myself in regards to proclaiming that you can neither "prove" a world view (Atheism) or "prove" a thought or thinking process exists, I will just the same repeat myself... It is a foolish proposition to claim to be able to prove Atheism... the proposition is foolish.... I didn't say that you Christophe are foolish. It is like saying... as our friend on the "proving koran" discussion would like to "prove Islam" or "prove Christianity" Such things are simply not subject to the falling ax of "proof" You can prove a mathematical theory, you can prove a geometrical equation, you can prove many things that can be weighed and measured. But you cannot prove a perspective on life... If you really think that this is possible with your mathematical statistics ... well then your way out on a limb of your own abstractions.
          And furthermore, a thought, even if it could possibly be a "material thing",(which is also a complete misconception) if it could be "carried" (your word) by the physical brain makes it no more "physical in its nature" Thoughts could get pretty heavy.... I guess... a scientist might be "proven" to have a heavier brain because of all the thoughts he carries around in it.....The carrier of the thought can be measured and weighted.... not the thought itself.
          Atheism is no more than a collection of ideas. A philosophical collection of "weightless"ideas. Just like a religious collection of ideas. To say that you can prove them is pretty far fetched... You may be able to convince yourself that they are 99.9999 percent true, but to prove them statistically seems to be wandering outside the realm of the scientific method.. After all... isn't this what some of the creationists do..? I mean... what good is it to discuss "proving koran" ..... really....??
        • Jul 5 2011: Karthik,
          It is simply because "Atheism" is a form for looking at the world... like capitalism is one form for looking at a monetary system. It is an "ideology" which has no logical way of proving of disproving. The consequenses of what certain elements of an ideology might bring forth in the world are one thing. Those consequenses are also in a way irrelevant. Take for example the debate around evolution. If it is in fact true... then the world has to take the consequenses of that which is truth. We cant begin to allow any ideology to bend and form the "truth" to fit what they themselves think should be for the "best" for the world. The truth is the truth and it is that and only that which should be allowed to form the oppinions of the world. To say that any certain truth should not be allowed to be public knowledge is in a way to go backwards in time. Certain religious groups like the Catholic church have done this for centuries. So the truth should be our only and highest motivation in all our human endevours.
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          Jul 7 2011: Karthik,
          I agree with you that people will only open their heart and mind to information when/if they are ready to do so. Are atheists "going wrong", as you stated? Or could it be that they want to share their beliefs to anyone who is willing to listen?
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        Jul 3 2011: Hey guys...you have an interesting discussion going here. It may be more productive if you leave out the labeling like..."foolish proposition"..."ignorance"...etc.:>)

        Thinking can be thought of as material AND non-material...can it not? I agree that the thinking process needs a "carrier".
        Carry on with your interesting propositions and intelligence:>)
        • Jul 3 2011: Good idea, Colleen. The harsh commentary usually goes both ways in these kind of arguments.

          I agree with Christophe that thought is purely material. How can it be partly non-material, Colleen?
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          Jul 3 2011: OK...so...if "everything we experience is just an emergent property of the electromechanical processing of the brain", how does that prove or disprove atheism?

          An atheist is one who denies the existence of god. I know people who call themselves atheists because they do not believe in god, but they do believe in some kind of afterlife, which I think is the point Daniel was trying to make by mentioning NDEs that have been experienced by atheists.
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          Jul 3 2011: Hi Austin,
          I agree that harsh comentary usually goes both ways, and that's when the discussion starts breaking down.

          I percieve the thought process to be both material and non-material because as Christophe insightfully points out, it needs a carrier...the brain...material. The process itself, however, in my humble opinion, is non-material, and flows through the brain....which I thinik is the point Daniel was trying to make? Is there any material proof of our thinking process? If we are hooked up to some machines, of course, there is evidence of brain activity, but without that, in a natural state, is there any proof, or material evidence of the process?
        • Jul 3 2011: Jim,
          I had a longer discussion on just this topic a few month ago. The title was " Is consciousness merely a by-product of the physical brain" It lasted for 1 month and there were about 650 comments. It was also a very interesting discussion that weaved in and out of many of the aspects of the physical brain, thinking, consciousness, NDE, OBE, and more. I guess it's still out there on TED if you are interested. As to the support of the default hypothesis, that thinking comes from the neural firing or the electromagnetic processes of the brain.... well.... one can always ask oneself the question ... is the interpretation (our thinking..?) of these electromagnetic processes... something that is also free from the e.m.p. themselves.... are they their own existing entity... or... are our thoughts also a "physical process" that we have no "consciousness" over.... as we have absolutely no feeling or thought or will activity involved in this neural or electromagnetic process.... But still we are aware that we can think, we can dream, we can be the active participant in our own thought process and yet have absolutely no awareness of the neural activity... ... we can think about thinking.... we can decide ourselves what "I" want to think about... I can think whatever thought I wish regardless of my uncontrolled neural activity. When a person is put into an EMI machine and the "mapped" in their neural activity... they always have to be asked to think of something or told to think of something or asked what are "you" thinking of now.... The determining factor of the result of the mapping is not the electromagnetic activity that appears but rather the electromagentic activity that comes to the foreground after the person in the EMI experiment is asked first to think.....
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          Jul 3 2011: Well ok Jim,
          You just made up your own definition, talked yourself around in a big ol' circle and changed the topic...so be it! I am very aware of what the topic of this discussion is, and I didn't beat my children!

          I agree...at any given time we understand some things, may construct hypothesis to fill in gaps, and only a very small percentage of people become educated enough to understand and reason:>) There are also people who make statements they are not willing to follow through with, so they make up their own definitions and come up with a new hypothesis:>)
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        Jul 3 2011: interesting conversation (and row of reactions).

        There are two topics I like to elaborate on.
        1) Proving non existing things:
        Imagine a container full of golf-balls.
        We could ask ourselves if all balls in it are white golf-balls...
        So we take one out, look at it and see if it is non-white.
        Each time you take out another white ball, the chance that there are non-white balls in the container decreases.
        The number of balls drawn from the container and our certainty of all white follows a nice distribution.
        Even if the container contains an infinite amount of balls, we might decide after some time that we are sufficiently certain to assume that all balls are white. And we know our margin of error too!

        As such, one can make assumptions whether something does or does not exist.

        2) As for a process being non-material:
        I think that all processes are material as well. Though one can make abstraction of the materials (and do similar processes with other materials), the existence of the process is due to the (material) components making it happen and having observable effects.

        How the brain works is very unlikely to bring proof for the (in)existence of some higher entity.
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          Jul 4 2011: Christophe,
          I agree to disagree:>) I think you are only considering one dimension, and that seems limiting to me. However, whether or not the thought process is material or non-material, I don't think proves or disproves atheism, so technically, it's off topic anyway:>) As you say...how the brain works is unlikely to bring proof for the existence or non existence of some higher entity.
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          Jul 4 2011: Jim,
          I agree that semantics are important in discussions. I'm not trying to correct you on anything, nor am I trying to tell you what it means to be an atheist. I have no intention to paint atheism in any light what so ever. I am participating in a discussion, which started with a particular question, the meaning I used comes from the dictionary, and is pretty well recognized. Of course you're encouraged to clarify your beliefs. No, I don't "yank chains". Your last comment seemed very evasive to me, and felt like you were yanking MY chain.

          I asked you an honest question, which followed your statement....."if everything we experience is just an emergent property of the electromechanical process of the brain"...(which I'm not disagreeing with by the way)..."how does that prove or disprove atheism"?

          I don't think your statement proves or disproves atheism, but I honestly was open to your perspective. I agree with Christophe, that how the brain works is unlikely to bring forth proof for the topic.
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          Jul 4 2011: Yes Jim, I was taking the discussion seriously. I don't know what it means to "prove atheism", but I entered this conversation respectfully, with intent to learn. You don't have to prove anything, but you did enter this discussion as well, knowing what the topic is. Apparently, you were just having a little fun:>)
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        Jul 5 2011: @ Karthik Mishra
        [quote]But even you would agree that nomatter how many white balls you draw from the container, there is still a possibility of drawing a non-white ball. You yourself said possibly with more information you might change your opinion. But since you don't have all information, you cannot be sure of anything. So I don't see a point to hurt other peoples feelings, by saying they are wrong, instead of saying, they are probably wrong.[/quote]

        1) You do have the degree of uncertainty, and I do allow for a possibility. A very very small possibility. I would not bet on it though... Like the probability of Bigfoot or unicorns or Spaghetti monsters circling in the oortcloud are near zero.
        So as a probabilistic thinker, I do sometimes round down to zero, to make things easier. In the meanwhile I'll leave it to the other ones to drain the bin of balls. If they do come up with a non-white ball, I'll be very surprised and at that point, I'll change my opinion.

        2) I don't want to hurt people. But if people get hurt by my statements, then that is their problem of getting hurt by it. I try and not attack people personally, (though I might sometimes be tempted and do so, I'm only human as well). I do attack bad ideas and unlikely probabilities. It is wrong to dismiss a hypothesis with a much higher probability by saying it is all uncertain. Uncertain is everything between 0 (false) and 1 (true). And there is a much bigger difference between 30% and 50% likelihood and 99.999% and 100% likelihood. So the error people make when saying everything is (equally) uncertain is totally absurd and an utter logical fallacy.

        If you cannot differentiate between your ideas (and beliefs), their truth value and your identification with them, you might get hurt. I cannot help that (except try and explain).
        I attack ideas, not people.
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          Jul 6 2011: I'm guessing what we call scientific proof, there's a Wikipedia site for it but I feel that I've shared it enough times...
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        Jul 6 2011: @ Karthik:

        Well, if suddenly a herd of unicorns get discovered, that would be relevant (informative) for my disbelief in unicorns.
        If there suddenly appears something non-human made that would start to do miracles and improve peoples lives, forgives sins and cleanses our burdens of errors we made,... then that would be very informative for the existence of a god (-like entity).

        Information is something that is relevant for the existing hypothesis (plural): if it has power to change the estimated truth value.

        Of course, the quality of data can be a problem: I don't believe claims of revelation or take what people say as necessary valuable. The source of information must be reliable enough.
        Most sciences have developed quite nice methods of obtaining information... so you could start to dig into those for more examples
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          Jul 6 2011: Karthik,

          Now what I'm about to say will most defiantly hurt your feelings and for that I'm sorry (but remember that you choose to read it, I did not come up to you and force in your face).

          If (a,the) God appeared in front of me I would assume that I was hallucinating, possibly having a stroke or that I've been drugged.

          This is not said to provoke but to make you understand what being an atheist means for me and (I think some others on this discussion)
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          Jul 6 2011: I think that I'm equally offended every time someone says that there is a God...
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          Jul 7 2011: Karthik,
          Thanks for the story about your mother, because it reminded me that it was my parents from whom I got my first look into religion. My mother was an unconditionally loving person, who lived her beliefs, while being kind, respectful and loving to everyone. My father was a racist, bigot, violent abusive man, who did a lot of volunteer work for the church and school, so he was "honored" by the church. My mother was told by the priest that she was doing an act of god by staying with this man, even though he beat her and some of his children regularly. They both attended the same church...sat in the front row on Sunday...recieved communion...etc. They each had very different ideas about what being a religious person means. And their "guide", the priest, apparently had very different "guidence" for each of them.

          I agree Karthik, that good morals can be learned, and I believe the learning has to come from us as individuals, no matter where the basis of our information comes from.
  • Jul 23 2011: Pete,

    For evolution there is no faith involved.

    1. We notice evolution in real life, what your quacks would call "microevolution."
    2. We notice that we can bring about extreme differences in dogs, cabbages, corn, whatever.
    3. We thus extrapolate that if this happens in "real time," its consequences could be much bigger in the longer time, which would explain why, for instance, we look so similar to other apes, and why would there be a group like apes to begin with. We could think, could it be that the same processes we witness, and the differences in dogs/whatever we can attain, explain apes as descendants of a single species?
    4. We don't stop there, we could then ask, if this is so, where should we find evidence about this? Well, the most similar apes to us are chimps and gorillas, which are African, maybe we can find fossils of other apes, more and more similar to us in Africa?
    5. We visit Africa, and, lo and behold, we find those fossils. We have also found some semi-human/semi-other-apes in Europe and Asia, but the most striking series has been found, and continues to be found, in Africa, with many more specimens showing more stages of intermediate features.

    As you can see, that justifies evolution without any faith involved.

    Of course, this is very simplified, and there's many more details confirming our common ancestry with the other apes. The example is simple, and does not go into more details about other species, and other evidences, for explanatory purposes.

    Entropy? As long as there is energy from the sun, there is no reason to think that evolution goes against entropy. Remember, Harleys are not doable without energy, just as evolution would not happen without energy. Neither works against entropy at all. That would be impossible.
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      Jul 24 2011: Hi Gabo
      It is agreed that natural selection can hone a creature to suit it's environment. The quacks would say that this is because the dna code exists already in the creature & is selected or deselected as appropriate. Is this wrong ? Say you bought an SUV. It came with a spare set of winter wheels, a soft top, & a hard top. You then have an opportunity to customise it a bit. What you couldn't do is fit a set of cat' tracks; they are not part of the SUV.

      Apes have lots of different shaped skulls as do humans. It may convince some if we lined up modern skulls in an fully ape to fully man fashion. Often all we have is bone fragments to work with, which makes it harder. You really have to accept the evolution theory in order to see it. Not to mention all the hoaxes, frauds, & mistakes that litter the history of hominid reconstruction.

      Energy from the sun by itself is a lethal force. Harleys are made by carefully harnessing this energy in a carefully designed & constructed factory. Even then the sun will ultimately destroy the factory & all the Harleys.
      Certainly the sun can produce babies, but only through the supremely complex medium of mum & dad. What have the factory & the Mum/Dad machine in common ? Complexity. Which is the more complex ? No contest; MumDad machine. If the factory didn't evolve, why should we believe MumDad did ?

      • Jul 24 2011: Hey Pete,

        You are missing the point. Regardless of whatever quacks say, we observe actual adaptations bringing changes, sometimes quite spectacular, to populations, even speciation, even new structures. Often in nature, very prominently in domestication. This inspires the idea of evolution, and thus we reason what would that entail and search for evidence (for or against). No quack dismissals changes these facts at all.

        Scientists don't align apes to their liking, they have to go by scientific data, such as dating, geography, environment. Then by observing which anatomical features reveal what. If fossils were aligned to someone's liking, we wouldn't see so much overlap between hominid groups, with species of australopithecins, for example, living at the same time as species of Homo. Frauds have been discovered to be frauds, and thus rejected, by scientists, not by your quacks. Despite frauds, there are plenty of trustable fossils, with clear intermediary features. I insist also that your complains don't not change the very fact that if evidence confirms the prediction, then evolution does not take faith. That you manage to dismiss the evidence because your quacks say so is a different problem, and does not change what I explained. I am not asking you to believe evolution, but to understand why it does not require faith.

        The sun is not always a lethal force. None of my plants outside has any problem with the sun. The carefully designed factory required energy to be carefully designed, the babies required energy to be built. You will find no single point where energy is not needed, and thus nothing in human tasks, nor in natural tasks, that goes against entropy. All of them, including evolution, use energy. Otherwise they would not be possible. Evolution uses exactly the very same processes as life itself. Evolution is the natural consequence of life itself. Thus, if life does not break any rules, evolution does not break any rules. Simple.
      • Jul 24 2011: Why shouldn't we believe that Mum/Dad evolved? Comparing life with human technology to conclude that "human-like beings (gods) make nature," is philosophically unsound. Nature works before human technology, not after it. Does fire occur naturally? Yes. Can we make fire? Yes. Do we need intelligence to make fire? Yes. Should we therefore conclude that natural fire requires intelligence to be built? Should we therefore conclude that natural fire is produced by a god?

        The problem is that as technology has evolved we have lost sight of its connection to natural laws, and that we tend to anthropomorphize based on our limited experiences. Just like fire can be both natural and intelligently produced, "designs" can be both natural and intelligently produced. When technologies were closer to what nature did, we still anthropomorphized and believed that gods were responsible for, say, natural fires. But now we know that there is no need for such a belief. Today we have evolution and natural laws to explain natural "design," and the only reason you don't believe it is because you don't understand it (thanks to some quackery and to your faith), the same way you understand combustion. You hold to misunderstood human technologies and what makes them possible, compounded with our human inclination to disjoin ourselves from the rest of nature. It is nonsensical to assume a need for intelligence for natural "designs" without a philosophically sound reason to separate what makes our technologies possible from what makes natural "technologies" possible, where natural laws and their consequences easily explain apparent intelligence. There is no sound reason to separate life from other natural processes either. If asked, have you seen "design" being built without intelligence in nature, I would say yes: look at life. If asked "other than that?" Yes, look at planetary systems ...

        I hope I managed to present these ideas clearly. It is hard to convey these ideas in a few words.

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          Jul 25 2011: Hi Gabo

          I do understand your perspective, & realise it must be frustrating that I don't agree; irrespective of quacks. Let's assume that evolution/millions of years is all true.
          We can look around at the universe; it's beautiful & in perfect balance. We can see it because our atmosphere just happens to be transparent & breathable, & we are well placed in the galaxy to have a good view. We can look at atoms & see little solar systems, again, in perfect balance.
          Our world has hundreds of natural systems, all perfect for our survival. Our world is a battleground between good & evil, our inner being is also involved as we constantly fight temptation; not always successfully.
          When I look around I have to admit that if there is no God then there are an awful lot of co-incidences. When the Atheist looks around he concludes that out of all the multiverses we are lucky to have arrived on this particular planet, in this particular universe. Maybe we don't see the wood for the trees.
          I found this definition of Entropy "All systems will tend towards the most mathematically probable state, and eventually become totally random and disorganised" (Harold Blum. Times Arrow & Evolution. 1968 p.201)
          Both babies & plants have complex mechanisms to channel the sunlight. They provide a mathematically probable route. The formation of these systems from naturally occurring materials; I would contend; is mathematically & statistically most improbable.

          Some hominids that didn't make the headlines.

          Some time ago I was discussing (maybe not with you) the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaurs. This shouldn't be of course as the tissue should have rotted or fossilised over this period. I took my usual drubbing because the scientist was a christian.
          Well, her boss is on TED with the same story.

      • Jul 25 2011: Hi Pete,

        It is not frustrating that you won't agree with me. It is frustrating that you miss the point, and the point is that we don't require faith to accept evolution. I showed you but a very simplified example of how we get to accept evolution, and that such thing does not require any faith. Just reason and data. The most you might say, if you were right, is that it took defective data to accept evolution, but defective data and faith are very different.

        As for your comment. well, the atmosphere is transparent and breathable, and our planet that good for us, because we evolved in this environment. High-temperature life-forms could think that high temperatures are there for them, and that this planet was made for them because it has places at such temperatures. Environment first Pete, then adaptation. Atheists don't think we are lucky to be in this universe, but that we could not be in a universe that would not produce us (tautologically true). Water is not lucky to find a puddle, puddles get naturally filled with water.

        The definition of entropy is somewhat right, but, as most simplified definitions, incomplete and misleading. That entropy is due to a tendency towards a more mathematically probable state, does not mean that things will end up random and disorganized. For example, given gravitational forces, it is more probable for a sufficiently high amount of hydrogen to collapse under its own mass, and start the fusion process, thus building more otherwise "improbable" atoms, such as helium. At the same time releasing energy at such high state that its flow into more probable states allows for complexity to arise. Like water flowing down allows us to produce electricity.

        Did you read the bottom line on those "hominids that didn't make the headlines"?

        More on dinos and soft tissue later. Preview: it is not what quacks want you to believe.

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          Jul 26 2011: Hi Gabo
          Jack Horner in his TED address talked about turning on some genes in the chicken which would give it teeth. This would be neat & change the chicken to something new; but doesn't the tooth gene have to be there in the first place ?
          I know from experience that the more we breed dogs, the more fragile they become. `You eventually reach a limit, where no further change can take place. Then if we let them breed naturally, they will revert to mongrel. We hear that dino's became birds. How did they breath when their lungs were changing ? Why would it be of benefit to have a mixed up lung ?
          I don't need quacks. It just isn't sensible to believe such things.

          I asked my perennial question on a BB site & no-one answered. By what process does hydrogen 'clump'. It seems entirely at variance with the gas laws. "Gas will always expand to fill the volume available to it". Even more so if is ejected by an explosion into a void.

          There are loads of guys pushing the infinite number of universes scenario to get round this problem. I agree with you to an extent, certainly more than the multiverse gang, but when you get all statistical about the odds on our universe, it's impossible. Just one little adjustment slightly different, & it's not going to work.

          Yes I read the bit at the end. Either it didn't happen, or no-one reported it; weird!

      • Jul 26 2011: Amigo!

        Chickens have the genes for teeth, only "turned off." I think the omni-powerful intelligent designer had not decided yet if chickens would have teeth or not. :)

        Sure pushing dogs too far gets them sick-prone because of over-inbreeding (we select for genetic uniformity), but the observation was how much we can reshape dogs within little time, not whether we imitate evolution perfectly.

        I did not know that the lungs of dinos changed during their evolution into birds. Interesting.

        Here: http://www.evolutionpages.com/bird_lung.htm
        I found this:
        "even in modern birds, there is a mixture of unidirectional flow through the so-called palaeopulmonic bronchi and bidirectional flow through the so-called neopulmonic bronchi."
        Which seems to suggest there is no problem with "mixep up" lungs.

        I told you the process for hydrogen to "lump." Randomness in space expansion and gravitation. You are thinking about gases in this planet, in small quantities, in recipients, rather than unimaginable amounts of hydrogen with such collective mass as to have great gravitational pulls. Man, our atmosphere is nothing in comparison, yet I doubt you think that air is uniformly distributed.

        I don't believe the "odds" against our universe. Nobody has shown me anything but speculation about what could or could not have been. If I were to accept that speculation, then there is nothing stoping me from accepting the multiverses too. Why? Well, for fine-tuning, constants are assumed not to be constants, but variables (does not sound right). For multiverses, the initiation of our universe is assumed not to be a unique event (sounds reasonable). Thus, no problem.

        About those hominids, there is another answer linking to a page about those hominids that clearly debunks the creationist interpretation:

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          Jul 27 2011: Hey Gabo

          I guess that if chickens needed teeth they would evolve them. They have the dna, it just needs turned on. I guess now & then a chicken is born with teeth, if it had an advantage then it may be healthier & leave more young. Job done; but only because the dna is there. What I need to see is something appearing for which there was originally no dna.

          If the dogs get sicker as they change from the original, why would naturally evolving creatures get healthier ? The fruit fly experiments would seem to confirm this trend.
          With the dogs we are using unadulterated dna, with natural macro evolution we are using mutated dna. Why should damaged code be better than original code ?

          We can conjecture about hydrogen in space, but the hard science tells us that if you try & push hydrogen atoms together it resists. The gravitational pull between atoms is constant & totally unable to pull them together. Only the gravitational pull of the earth itself keeps our atmosphere here. We have about 14psi at sea level all over the planet. The wind moves to keep the overall pressure stable.

          The multiverse thing just shows me how desperate folks are to deny the obvious design in the universe we have. These things are all very well, but why ignore the obvious ?

      • Jul 27 2011: Dear friend,

        I told you why the dogs get sicker. We select for genetic uniformity, thus carrying a higher probability for deleterious versions of genes to get together. In natural evolution selection is survival alone, and the genetic diversity keeps the species healthy. When not, species get extinct (this has happened many more times than have species survived). It is a question of numbers, the more individuals in a population, the lowest the probability for bad combinations to occur. Mutated does not mean damaged. Means modified. I told you too that there is plenty of demonstration that the hypothesis that most mutations were harmful has been falsified (it is simply not true).

        The hard science tell us that the gravitational forces of humungous quantities of hydrogen will make them collapse into each other and eventually start fusions. Ask the sun if it is not having its hydrogen fused. Physicists have done the math. If our planet's gravitation keeps our atmosphere here, what would you expect from thousands or millions of times that pull? You can't win this one Pete. Reality beats misinformation.

        The multiverses is not about any desperation. It actually opened the door to newer analyses that seem to be making much better sense of the universe's origin. There is nothing obvious in the assumption of a designed universe. It relies of constants being variable. That alone is contradictory. If we then asked "designed for what" we would have a very hard time showing that it is designed for us. As far as we know we would not survive in most of our own universe. We can't even hope to reach it. Thus, which design? Design for what exactly? It looks obvious to me that design is not a proper description of reality even at less contentious levels. We can't even say that about our solar system. We can't live in most of it either. So, what's obvious about the universe being designed?

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          Jul 28 2011: Hi Gabo

          With you on the dogs, but not on the mutation. If a piece of code is working well & we randomly change it, surely the odds are stacked against any beneficial effect. Have you got a link that I could understand ?


          This is cool. Apparently hydrogen 'clumps' by falling on to 'Dark Matter' to form a 'blob'. I love it, the answer to my dreams! I'm sorry, but this is hilarious.
          So now we have Dark Matter AND Hydrogen forming at the BB. There is the slight problem of not having a scoobie what DM actually is, or even IF it is. Together with Dark Energy & Dark Flow they remain a mystery.
          Biblically speaking :-
          The universe is designed to introduce us to the designer. It is awesome & maybe eternal. One thing I get from it is that we are capable of working it out to some extent. So we have the ability to see how the designer achieved at least parts of it. He is sharing the knowledge with us. There is no evolutionary reason why we would understand these things. It is designed that we can understand.
          We are children. When we are grown we may well be able to travel the universe at will. Jesus could pass through walls, levitate out of sight etc. At any rate it seems we are to have a new universe, which may or may not be similar to this one. I can hardly wait .

  • Jul 23 2011: Hi Pete,

    Answering here to avoid having to look for our exchange among so much of a mess already.

    1. Geological columns deposit in many different ways, not just streams of water.
    2. Nobody would be able to publish a result and write methods where each column requires to change many variables to make them fit into a chronology. That's preposterous. In my own field, when I need to change a variable for some particular situation, I have to justify it very clearly before reviewers would let me publish my results.
    3. All the geological columns show obvious eroded surfaces. That's one of the things that person in the video showed. For instance, shales inclined at an extreme angle, with sandstone on top (different angle), where the surface between the shales and sandstone shows signs of erosion.
    4. Sorry, I misunderstood one part of what this quack was saying.
    5. Erosion is very common. It shows as discontinuities that on closer inspection show signs of erosion.
    The layers I saw during the only one course I took on geology did not show grain sizes big at the bottom and small at the top at all. The layers I have seen look quite uniform within. (Physics shows the opposite of your claim. Fine grain tends to find its way down thus pushing big grains up. We made the experiment in physics, we put stones at the bottom and sand at the top, and shakind brought some stones to the surface. I have also observed big stones appearing after an earth quake.)
    6. If real life would have more processes happening, why base everything on mistaken stream experiments?
    7. Transcontinental layers happen in places that were together once.
    8. The guy showed deposition happening sideways, which is consistent with streams, but still one layer was on top of an older one. Scientists would notice the patterns and conclude "stream deposited, thus also older within a layer going upstream." Nothing contradictory to geology as we know it.
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      Jul 24 2011: Hi Gabo

      Nearly missed you, I normally go from my profile.

      1. Agreed.
      2. For radio' dating we need to know such things as; amount of original radioactive material; the amount of the original daughter material; amount of materials that are lost by solubility in water etc. over the period; (A global flood would certainly distort readings); decay rates have remained constant; possibility of contamination after excavation. Impossible to be sure of any degree of accuracy with so many arbitrary variables.
      3.-5. Need to nail down your suggested mechanism of deposition. Does each layer take a long time, or short time? Is there a long time or short time associated with the gaps in the layers ? Are the majority laid down wet, or dry ?
      6. The vid guy started with real life core drillings. Lab work is a necessity don't you think ?
      7. This makes sense, but if the plates have taken millions of years to get where they are today then why are there not lots more layers on top that are associated with the separated continents ? If the layers were laid as the continents were in transit a different picture would present.
      8. I guess a tsunami is just a very wide stream. the same sideways deposition would apply. Certainly at any given point the lower deposits are older, but at the upstream end the top layer is older than the bottom layer at the downstream end. This would make it impossible to 'date' fossils chronologically.

      • Jul 24 2011: 2. Does not matter, scientists have to be consistent, thus a chronologically sound set of layers is chronologically sound by itself. You can't force them to be so by changing variables with gusto. That's simply not allowed.
        3-5. Several rates of deposition. Most layers containing fossils come from swamps, not from rivers.
        6. Real core drilling of stream deposited materials, not of any geological layers.
        7. There are more layers on top. Actually sometimes "equivalent layers" are much closer to the surface in one part than in another (because of either local erosion, or lack of much further deposition on one place, much more deposition in other places.
        8. Maybe a tsunami is a much faster "stream," but I doubt it would deposit layers as in the video. It would also leave behind flooded places where deposition would happen slowly. What about swamps Pete? There is plenty of evidence of huge swamps in the past. Would layers be deposited as if rivers in swamps?
        Fossils could be dated chronologically as long as we followed layers vertically, and corrections would have to be made as one moves upstream or downstream. How strong the corrections? As strong as whatever evidence tells scientists to do. Again, not every layer is stream-deposited. Scientists (geologists) know these things Pete. They can determine if layers are swamp-deposited, stream-deposited, flood-deposited, volcano-deposited, quickly deposited, slowly deposited ...

        One more note: that this geologist does not know what each and every creationist accepts (such as an ice age), does not mean she does not know her stuff. I don't know what every creationist believes, I know they vary a lot in what they believe. I still know my stuff (molecular biology) very well. Creationism is neither required for me to understand my stuff, nor to understand geology. Clear?

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          Jul 26 2011: Hi Gabo

          I would have thought that any swamp fossils would be in shale layers, as mud becomes shale under pressure (I think). Moving water would normally give sandstone, although some layers will be a mixture. We live close to the beach and the rocks are clean sandstone with very clearly defined thin layers. The sea is at present converting the rock back into sand.

          "Fossils could be dated chronologically as long as we followed layers vertically, and corrections would have to be made as one moves upstream or downstream."
          That's not the way it is done though. Fossils are aged by what layer they are in. The assumption is that each layer is laid vertically on the other, & that each layer is a different age. As you say, this scenario is probable in swamps, but most fossils are in sandstone as far as I know.

          The flood hypothesis would make rivers & swamps secondary though. We would have water a mile deep sloshing back & forth over all the land carrying the silt from land & sea-bed around the globe. If we look on the top of Grand Canyon there are Butes several hundred feet tall which are testimony to previous layers which have been swept away en-mass leaving only the Butes. These will erode by wind & rain fairly quickly by your time scale. How could such masses of sand be transported by anything other than very deep & very fast water ?


          Great subject,

      • Jul 26 2011: Pete,

        I don't suppose for a second that paleontologists would not know what kind of rock they are working with. I don't think that any layer would necessarily have been deposited uniformly all along, but rather that it solidified mostly as a piece if it were to be identifiable as a single layer. If stream-deposited, then the differences between upstream and downstream might range in time maybe by decades, maybe centuries at most. Thus, geologically ridiculously small differences to become a dating problem. In other words, the precision against millions of years would be pretty good. If there were huge upstream/downstream differences, scientists would know and correct accordingly. Other scientists would not allow them to publish otherwise.

        While, I have read that most fossils are found in swamp-deposited layers, that seems inconsequential because scientists have to openly say what they did, how they did it, and so on. Not all the details make it into textbooks (they are voluminous as it is), that does not mean scientists don't know their jobs. I would trust scientists because I know about the rigour for working and for publishing, and I can't believe that quacks are trusted when they say that things are done in obviously wrong ways as if quacks knew better than scientists themselves. Quacks have pretended to teach me about molecular biology, and I insult them with gusto for their pretence. Since I know how much they prostitute what I do, I don't expect them to be any more respectful about geology, paleontology, or any other science. That they would tell you that paleontologists don't know about how rocks form, or the types of rocks that would be formed under which circumstances, or that some layers might need corrections for dating, does not surprise me. What does surprise me is that you would believe such things.

        Best as always.
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          Jul 27 2011: Hi Gabo

          You talk about layers & fossils forming in a stream. Surely a stream cuts into the ground, so a build up of layers would be impossible. The chances of a fossil forming are remote indeed.
          I was trying to get an idea of what size of areas fossils are normally found in, but haven't succeeded so far. I get the impression that if you get the correct rock layer then fossils are possible throughout the layer. Don't know.

          Maybe it's because you are in the trade that you get wound-up over quacks. Personally I try & learn from everybody, but some things make sense & some things don't.
          What about the Butes that I mentioned. We see them in all the old western films sticking out of the desert like fingers. Some are deposited & I guess some may be volcanic. It seems obvious that an enormous amount of earth has been taken from the surface of the land & dumped many miles away; leaving only these stone fingers. Some are so thin that they will not last long, suggesting this may be a recent event. I have never read about this from either side, I just wonder myself. What do you think ?

      • Jul 27 2011: Hey Pete,

        I said that most fossils form in swamps. But to your point about streams forming layers, didn't then that guy in the video that you asked me to watch show layers being formed by deposition of debris carried by streams? Have you seen the deposits at deltas?

        I would find you a link to fossils and the sizes of layers where they are found, but no time now. Try some real places rather than quacks. I don't know, maybe national geographic. That lady I pointed to before has some excellent material too if you can get past her style.

        Anyway, yes, I detest the quacks because I know they lie about my area of research, and that this is not a matter of interpretation. They show that they have no idea of what they are talking about. I detest imbeciles who have never done any scientific work (worse for the few who have done some scientific work, because they should know better) coming and displaying their ignorance with pride while pretending to know better than me how I work, how I verify my results, what results I have and have not, and, to top it up, my "motivation" to keep the "Darwinist dogma." As if I would not notice their cherry-picking, their ignorance, and their lies. That's why I get "wound up." Since I know that they lie about my scientific area, why should I think they don't lie about everything else?

        I don't know about those Butes. I kinda remember them being formed by wind erosion, but not sure. Note that I took just one course of geology long ago, and in Spanish. I will check when I have time. Which is not now.

        Best and see ya in another conversation.

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          Jul 28 2011: Hi Gabo
          The apparatus the guy used could be likened to a stream in that it was narrow. I guess it is all to do with the speed of the water how much is deposited. He is trying to simulate a flood/tsunami type condition. If this was in a stream I guess the silt would eventually back-up like a dam; the water would be held for a while & then overtop in a rush & move the silt farther downstream. The long-term action of a stream is to gouge a track for itself.

          I found this photographic site with bute like structures; hoodoos. The caption says wind eroded just like you remember. They are obviously deposited structures & therefore not particularly hard. Obviously today they are being eroded by wind. If we look at a desert we find lots of sand & sand-dunes; the wind treats the sand very like the sea,it piles up in great waves. We never find a bute. To me millions of years of wind erosion would have leveled these butes as the level of the land lowered. Also where is the sand ? Why is it not piled up in waves like the desert ?
          My money would be on a massive rush of water that washed the sand well out to sea & left these butes sticking up very precariously as we find them today.


          Catch you later
  • Jul 14 2011: Eduard,

    Starting new thread because now it takes forever to find your comments.

    1. Anyway, let us be clear. Whatever you think your criteria to be based on, if it is not known, and if it is not possible to prove reasonably, then you cannot claim it to be objective. Calling it "objective" is complete, unadulterated, and extra-pure nonsense.

    2. What exactly is nonsensical about having a feeling for justice if it will not be fulfilled? Do you think everything we feel is fulfilled? If so you must be a teen (and up to some painful surprises). Having a sense for justice helps us distinguish those persons who we can trust and thus associate with. We are gregarious animals. Other animals have this feeling too. Do you think all animals have their own heavens where they get their desire for justice fulfilled?

    3. Wouldn't any reasonable person doubt the existence of a god if such god is not approachable by reason?

    4. Wouldn't any reasonable person doubt the existence of their particular god by looking at how many other people believe in either a different version of the same god, or in a completely different god? Have you read those things by Ahmadi? He is as convinced by Islam as you are about your version of Christianity. As immutable. Why would he be right and you wrong? Why would you be right and he wrong?

    5. Amplification of 4. Wouldn't any reasonable person doubt of their god after looking at the many gods humans have invented throughout history?

    6. Wouldn't a reasonable person doubt of their god if people believing in other gods are going to hell because of being born in the "wrong" religion? Wouldn't a reasonable person doubt that their god is "all-good" given this?

    There's more. But that should show you that if you don't find reasons to doubt your god, it is because you are willingly blind. But reasonable people would certainly doubt.

    Will you dare to say that no reasonable person would doubt their god now? (thus redefining reasonable)
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      Jul 14 2011: Hi Gabo

      You make much of the fact that people have many & various gods. Does this make it more, or less, likely that there is a real god ?
      There are over 100 worldwide flood stories. Does this make it more, or less, likely that there was a real worldwide flood ?
      There are hundreds of dragon stories. Does this make it more, or less, likely that there were real dragon type creatures (Dinosaurs?) ?

      I suspect that you would answer in the negative, & I in the positive. However, which do you think would be the more scientific approach ?

      I would say that god is perfectly approachable by reason, sometimes you have do dig through lots of smoke to get there though.

      • Jul 14 2011: Hey Pete,

        That people have many gods makes it implausible that a god in particular is real. That we are surrounded by Christianity is but a geographical accident. There is no reason why Christians would be right and Muslims wrong, nor vice versa. That's the start of a doubt. It does not mean that all gods are nonexistent, but it can make a reasonable person doubt their own god at the very least. It can lead later to complete disbelief once the issues are further explorer. But the point was about arguments that would make a reasonable person doubt. Not about whether that alone made all gods false.

        That there could be hundreds of thousands, or millions, of flood stories does not increase the likelihood that a global one occurred because no amount of myths trumps reality. There is no geological evidence of your global flood. That's the scientific approach.

        Dragons? Besides other things, the existence of dinosaur fossils might be inspiration for such stories. Such fossils don't need to be alive in order for people's to make stories about what those animals could have been. Again, no amount of stories trumps reality.

        Eduard said that there were no arguments that would make any reasonable person doubt the existence of "God," and he is the one who said his god could not be proven reasonably. I know that not all Christians think that. I note however, that so far every argument for the existence of "God" I have heard or read is faulty once you "dig through the smoke." :)
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          Jul 15 2011: Hi Gabo

          You really need to check out the beliefs & see if any are reasonable. ie. confirmed by empirical data... history, archeology, science etc. I believe Christianity ticks the boxes, but I know you disagree; that's cool.

          To me layers of waterborne mud, silt, & sand laid down on a worldwide scale screams flood. I have never found a workable hypothesis for the resulting column having been formed by a slow process. The fossils would not be there. The fossil layers must have been formed quickly; there is no erosion between layers, how did it happen ?

          Dragons were well established before dino's were discovered. Science had always denied their existence, so when they started to be excavated we had to come up with a new creature, so the term dinosaur (terrible lizard) was coined. Folks were drawing dinosaurs before they were discovered by science; seems strange.

          I feel that I came to believe quite reasonably by weighing up the facts. In the end though I had to make a commitment based on faith. Not blind faith, but based on the available evidence. Subsequently any lingering doubts were dealt with & now I am as certain as it is possible to be. I am still open to evidence though, as it is the Truth that matters, but the evolution scenario seems to require even greater faith.

      • Jul 15 2011: Hi Pete,

        I don't want to be too condemning, but your comment about layers is obviously taken from creationist quacks. Of course there is erosion among layers. Many signs of erosions happening several times in geological time. Not only that, often the erosions leave columns a bit sideways, which show better that erosion has actually happened, not only that, sometimes the columns are very much slanted and erosion too obvious. This you learn the very first time you learn about sedimentary rocks.

        Fossils don't form just anywhere, and there are more fossils of animals who lived close to water such as lakes, few of animals who lived far. This alone talks against a single event burying all the fossilized animals. The bottoms of lakes are good for fossilization because of lose sediments that could bury animals quite quickly, not always, but often enough for there to be fossils. The most abundant fossils, diatoms, sedimented through millions of years into very deep chalk layers. They also show erosion and such between layers. Again, myths don't trump reality.

        Dinosaur fossils were discovered before scientists re-discovered them and named them dinosaurs. But myths about dragons don't come from dinosaur fossils alone. Myths can come from crocodiles fossils, from actual crocodiles, from big lizards, from giant salamanders, from ...

        That you would give me an argument and then not understand my answers tells me that you don't understand the facts other than via creationist quacks alone. I am not trying to be harsh, but this is the only thing I can conclude. Sorry. That you would repeat that creationist quackery about evolution requiring more faith only affirms my conclusion. You are far from open Pete. I understand that you might have no time, but all that means is that simple lies will weight more than complex truths for you because you might not even want to learn enough to understand the complex truths.

        Best as always,
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          Jul 16 2011: Hi Gabo

          Sorry Gabo, but the flood thing makes much more sense to me; regardless of quacks. Can you direct me to a site that would explain in simple terms how the layers were deposited; ideally with water tank (or whatever) experiments that would support the existing strata.

          My problem is that the deposition needs to be quick to form fossils, but slow to support a long timescale. That's just common sense; no quack required.

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          Jul 17 2011: Hi Jim

          ""We've mentioned cherry picking several times. You have somehow concluded that (evolution) is true and your world view now hinges on the truth of (evolution) You find isolated facts that you can explain with (evolution) and you use those facts as evidence of the truth of (evolution). But for each such isolated fact, you interpret the fact through the worldview of (evolution) meaning you see a distorted view of the fact. And, when other facts disagree with(evolution) you interpret them also through the worldview of(evolution), and find ways to discredit them.""
          We're not so different.

          ""Many fossils are due to mud slides and volcanic ash. "" So they are, but not the majority.

          In children's books dragons are fire-breathing monsters, but in cave paintings etc. they are known dinosaurs.

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          Jul 17 2011: Hi Jim

          Interesting. The meanders of the river certainly agree with the river theory, I'd need to check for rebuttals. However to accept that the uplift happened in sequence with the river eroding the canyon takes a bit of believing.

          I think we have to go with what the evidence is telling us overall; to accept an overall theory in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary is not wise. Neither can we be an expert in all fields.

          I do wish these guys would cease from the childish mockery of the 'other side'. It in no way instills confidence in the weight given to their opinion & raises doubts about insecurity in their own position. I guess you were just unfortunate in the vid chosen .

      • Jul 17 2011: Thanks Jim, I had not seen that video.


        I agree, to accept an overall theory in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary is not wise. This is why I don't understand how despite we show your quacks wrong again and again, you still hold to their words. Here I explained to you that the layers of sedimentary rocks certainly show erosion, that they show movement, inclines, eroded inclines, new layers in an angle respective to the eroded layers below, long et cetera. Now you see meanders in the canyon, and I am sure we have presented you more than just that. Yet, there you are, believing a "flood theory." So, what happens then with the debunked "no erosion" part? Gone and ignored? What happens with different environments revealed by fossils at such layers? I insist with no intention of being insulting. You did not become a believer because of evidence. You just happened to listen to quacks and believed what they told you never checking what actual science and evidence had to say.

        You talk against the mockery against the quacks. Well, your quacks show a complete lack of respect, not just towards actual scientists, like myself, but towards their clientele (such as you). The mockery is very well deserved, and I think that in this video makes the points extra clear. There is another video where potholer54 shows some trees and little plants running away from the flood following the flood "theory" to explain the patterns in the fossil record. Does that not make the point that the swim-faster explanation is too ridiculous to be taken seriously? Would you remember the point without such mockery? Pete, when creationist propaganda proposes ridiculous things, they have to be shown by how ridiculous they are. Otherwise we would be giving them a status of respectability that they simply don't deserve.
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          Jul 18 2011: Hi Gabo

          OK Humour me.
          You claim there is erosion between the layers, indicating a long period of time. Let's leave that for the moment.

          1. Are the layers water deposited (for the most part) ?
          2. Can we assume that fossil bearing layers were deposited rapidly ?
          3. Is the scenario then a quick flood, followed by a long period, followed by another quick flood etc ?
          4. Assuming yes for 1-3
          4a. How do we explain fossil trees continuing through many layers ?
          4b. How do we explain a global continuity sufficient to postulate a standard column ?

          I am trying to get at what you see is the mechanism responsible for the results we observe. Is there any solid experimental data to support this ?

          Sorry to exasperate you old buddy, but I really want to understand what you guys think. This sort of information is not easy to nail down.

      • Jul 18 2011: No, let's not leave it ever. :)
        (There are not just a few erosion marks in those layers, but many.)

        1. Sometimes water deposited, sometimes volcanic ash, sometimes wind accumulating sands in valleys, sometimes ... but even water-deposited means different things, sometimes deposited at the bottom of swamps, bottom of lakes, sometimes at the end of rivers (deltas), sometimes meanders, sometimes floods ...
        2. Probably. But that does not mean that deposition happens at a single rate.
        3. Sometimes a quick flood, sometimes things sinking to the bottom of swamps or of lakes, sometimes buried by a mudslide, sometimes buried by volcanic ash ...
        4. Well, things are a bit more complicated as you can see. But:
        a. Most fossils don't span several layers, and are most often found sandwiched. If they were deposited by a single hyper bunch of sediment we would see all kinds of fossils everywhere, in any position, trapped in a single kind of sediment, right? Not ordered strata, with different kinds of fossils, mostly sandwiched as if flattened, with fossils and materials indicating climates consistent within layers, different across layers. For different climates entrapped you need very long periods of time. I doubt 40 days and 40 nights would do.
        b. Exceptions, such as your trees, cannot be presented as if the rule. In the most consistent scenario with your preferred conclusion, they would indicate a local flood rather than a global one. In other words, you can't dismiss most fossils and geological evidence because of a relatively few vertical fossil trees. Exceptions are explained by exceptional circumstances, not the other way around.

        There's lots of solid experimental data for sedimentary rock formation, for distinguishing flora and fauna from different climates, and for distinguishing different materials. Long et cetera.

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          Jul 19 2011: Hi Gabo

          I think that if the methods of deposition were as many & varied as you suggest, that it would be difficult to make a good case for a global 'geologic column'.
          Now I am in difficulty as I have to grovel & ask you to check out a quack......


          Just hold your nose & find the deliberate mistake in his approach.

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          Jul 20 2011: Hi Jim
          On the mockery; I just have no time for it; it's childish & an attempt to demean a person. We are all the same, even if we disagree, & should 'do unto others.......'
          There are technical works on the feasibility of Noah's Ark for those who can look beyond their prejudice. Best to bone up on the subject before debating it.
          I think the guy who first came up with tectonics was a Christian & he reasoned that as the bible says that the land was one at the beginning, it must have moved, but it was rejected for ages. We don't need an old earth, fast plates would do; maybe they are just coming to a halt today ?
          Radio Isotope dating is, as far as I can see, inaccurate. If God made the rocks originally; He would be the one to decide on the elements included.
          The flood left us moving tectonic plates, the so-called geologic column, fossils, oil, coal, & lots & lots of water.

          YECs as far as I know are quite willing to talk about anything. What can I help you with ?

      • Jul 19 2011: .
        (I add to Jim's comment that the first time a geologist (Lyell? I don't remember!) found that the Earth was much older than previously thought, he tried hard to minimize the number (but really hard), because the number contradicted the bible. He did not want to accept such thing, but the evidence was too much to keep denying.)


        I had the most boring time listening. Can you please tell me what this guy is getting at?

        My questions would be:
        1. Is he claiming that his experiments represent exactly how all those geological layers were formed? (by Noah's food?)
        2. If so, how does he explain that radiometric dating dates the layers as older as we go deeper, consistently. No matter if you don't like radiometric dating, the key here is consistently older as you go deeper down.
        3. How does that explain several obviously eroded surfaces, with inclines to one side then flat layers on top?
        4. If all (most?) deposition was as he experimented, how then most layers look so nicely horizontally deposited?
        5. Why do real layers show actual erosion between them, not just differences in particle sizes? Did the flood stop for a few millions years, then restart, then again stop, and so on?
        6. Do you think that linear and thin streams, or glass walls, really represent what a global flood would do?
        7. How is it that deposits have so many different patterns, many as if deposits in a swamp, others as if deposits in deltas, meanders, et cetera?
        8. Did you notice that he contradicted himself because he showed layers being deposited in chronological order while saying this was not so?

        I don't know man. Some experiments look kinda ok, animations look tricked. But I don't see how even the ok experiments would represent the larger and varied geological reality.

        I just discovered a geologist at youtube, but you might not like her style:

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          Jul 20 2011: Hi Gabo; full marks for taking the time.

          1. I guess he is making a hypothesis, that this is one possible explanation for the column. In the flood context we would need to add volcanic & tectonic features as well.
          2. As the variables are set by the scientists themselves, they can come up with any date they like.
          3. Would need a 'for instance'. Remember even after layers have settled; & they do form on slopes; the rock is still soft & vulnerable to currents etc.
          4. Don't understand. Why shouldn't they look horizontally deposited ?
          5. I haven't been able to find instances of erosion, don't think its common.

          You know the sort of thing, tightly fitting layers with well defined edges; ie no jaggies that would indicate wear.
          On the particles. Most layers have grain sizes large on the bottom, grading to small at the top. How on earth could this happen by slow & gradual superposition ?
          6. No, real life would be much more random, but the basic principles should still apply.
          7. The earth is a variable place, surely we should expect anomalies. That said, many of the layers are transcontinental, so something big happened.
          8. Didn't notice, I guess they are chronological, but growing mainly sideways.

          I have seen other similar experiments, but wont bore you further. What would be cool would be a vid giving the conventional scenario, so we could compare. Let me know if you come across one.
          Your right; I'm not keen on folks who are mocking & disrespectful. She did make a comment about Ice Age Till. If she knew her stuff then she would know creationists agree there was an Ice Age.

          Thanks for taking the time Buddy.

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          Jul 21 2011: Hi Jim

          I agree entirely with your points. I would make three points in regard to debating on this site about these worldviews.

          1. The YEC position is treated largely with derision. It is dismissed out-of-hand by the majority.
          2. Ultimately all 3 positions are faith positions. We were not around at the crucial times in question, so little can be done as far as empirical evidence is concerned.
          3. The arguments are well documented on sites such as TalkOrigins & AnswersInGenesis, so it is really not necessary to regurgitate them at each other.

          Gabo ran through all the detail on cells, dna, etc with me; he's a patient guy. That is his subject, & I defer to him entirely on that. However he is not able to prove how it came about in the first place, that has to be faith based on his understanding. At that point we diverge because my common sense wont let me accept his interpretation. At one time I would accept it as the most likely scenario, but now I have an alternative which I believe fits better. Gabo of course takes the alternate view, which is fine by me.

          I see all this as engineering. My hobby is my Harley. The cell is like a special Harley. It can run around & make a nice noise, but it can also produce the entire Harley range at will. Each of the Harleys it produces comes complete with mega Milwaukee Factory built into it so it can reproduce. That's how I see biology & why it is so difficult for me to accept evolution.

          I am intrigued as to why you guys accept it, given how impossible it seems to me. I think this subject is the only one that really matters, & love to discuss it with anyone. Unfortunately for you, I am not an intellectual & you may find my reasoning reflects that, but I am willing to go as deep as I can on most subjects.

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          Jul 21 2011: Jim ctd......

          On the YEC/OEC thing. I have faith in the bible, & if God says he did it in 6-days a few thousand years ago, then that's fine. Get any 6yr old to read it & they would get the same result. A theological professor may come up with something else entirely; I think that's why Christ chose fishermen.

          I firmly believe that death is only the beginning of real life. It is crucial that I draw folks attention to this possibility; that really is what it's all about. I don't care if I lose an argument, or am called ignorant, or whatever; the stakes are far higher than that.

          Not sure what we mean by 'higher level' argument, but I will do my best.

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          Jul 22 2011: Hi Jim
          The video may be accurate or not; it is double dutch to me. I guess if it passed muster with it's peers & could be tested then that would help. To date however the creation of life from non-life has not happened under lab conditions, so we speculate.

          When we look at the world around us we see everything degenerating. The earth's rotation is slowing, the magnetic field is decaying, deserts are expanding, our cells are getting corrupted, our cars are turning to dust. Everything is bending eventually to the 2nd law. Life starts with a burst of energy, then succumbs. As our bodies mutate, we are getting more & more illnesses. I see no process on earth that would benefit from being left for millions of years. So for me to accept a long age scenario would not encourage my belief in evolution.

          You are giving me your view of how evolution took place, but none of it is verifiable by empirical science. I understand that it supposedly takes place too slowly to register, then how can we say that it is happening ? It is your faith.
          The human body is mind-blowingly complex; more complex than all the electronic/mechanical gismos we have ever produced. The simplest gismo takes careful planning & execution to have any chance of success. No gismo has ever been produced by 'natural forces'. The human body is a masterpiece of design & execution of the highest order, complete with spiritual abilities of love, joy, hate, worship, etc etc.
          We even get a workshop manual explaining what we are, where we're going, & the history of the world from beginning to end. Together with the usual manual stuff about how to keep us running sweet. It even tells me that I am very unlikely to persuade you; still a guy's gotta try.

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      Jul 15 2011: Gabo:
      1.I didn't claim that , that was '...' ; you also can't say that my criteria isn't objective , that was my point, and that was for sharing you that you didn't talk against my perspective (as you said).
      2. I was just interested to know your opinion as atheist , and I was reffering to the sense of justice as like something objective , something abstract which exist whatever we do and in this respect the atheistic position is a weak one.
      3.Yes , that's one of my points , the god by definition can't be known reasonable=isn't approachable by reason , it's a foolish thing in my opinion to try to know god=to try to approach god by (human) reason so to doubt god because it isn't approchable by reason is in my opinion as I said foolish and nonsensical .
      Only thinking there are many ways of knowing things, the reason is just one of them.
      5. here at 5 you have to prove that the humans have invented the CGod (that's for me) , I can agree about the rest being invented.
      6.You have a wrong understanding of what said CGod , first of all the hell in my opinion isn't something what perhaps you and the most christians imagine , in my opinion (and this is simplified now) the hell is rather a process of destroying the evil , second : the people don't go in hell because they believe in other gods, that's according to the Bible , the people 'go in hell' (partially it is a metaphor) because they can't go in heaven , noone can whatever the religion that person was born in , for going in heaven you have to be considered and to try to be somehow .
      'noone can go in heaven whoever he is' it's normal, the heaven is supposed to be God's place , for a human to live there he has to have the same nature with God , the same nature with the heaven (the humans by birth don't have it) , that was Jesus Christ work about . How it is possible and how really it happen ? if you wanna know I'l talk about it in the next post.
      An all-good will destroy an all-evil , don't you think so?
      • Jul 15 2011: 1. Of course I can claim that your criteria are not objective. That your basis "isn't known" is enough for this.
        2. I don't see why atheism would be in a weak position at explaining a sense of justice. You have hidden premises there (as everywhere else). The moment you say things like "in this respect the atheistic position is a weak one" you are not "just asking for my opinion," you are saying something so utterly wrong that I had to point it out. You did say "why have it if it will not be fulfilled?" That has the hidden premise that if we have it, it has to be fulfilled, which is ridiculous. So I answer to your hidden premises. Otherwise it will be like admitting that it has to be fulfilled. The sense has a function, and the function is not "to be fulfilled." It is derived from a natural necessity given our belonging to a gregarious animal species.
        3. If you can't see how nonsensical your point is, then there is not much more I can say. I repeat, if it can't be approached by reason, there is no reason to believe it. Thus, it is not nonsensical, nor foolish, to reject it for this reason alone. So, if you have nothing to add here just stop it. You might love accepting things that are not approachable by reason, but that's you, and that is not objective.
        5. I don't have to prove that your god is invented. Since we easily accept that other gods are invented, there is no reason to think that yours is not.
        6. I know this excuse. But if you observe Ahmadi, he is as utterly clueless about the falsity of his religion as you are. Thus he goes to hell because he cannot believe as you do. Thus, it is not because he is not "like God through Christ", but because he cannot be because he was born in the wrong place. Had he be born in the same place as you, he would be as clueless but a christian clueless, rather than a muslim one. Thus, his condemnation comes from accidental birth of place. No excuse will change this. Think it carefully and you will see.
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          Jul 15 2011: 1."That it isn't known is enough for this." really , how come? , the objectiveness of something depends on what we know? it's absurd .
          2.I don't hide anything , I just fill myself when I see that it is needed . Man , you didn't understand: I wanted to know your opinion, I say you again stop imagining/guessing what you think that I think or what you think that I try to say or to do ... you never got it until now . After I found it I can critisize it.
          "That has the hidden premise that if we have it, it has to be fulfilled, which is ridiculous" it isn't at all ridiculous , the justice won't be just if it wouldn't be fulfilled , the justice have the function of being fulfilled, it is not a natural necessity of us, it is rather a intrinsec part of the justice.
          3.it's not about what I see man here (I said you the difference) ; "if it can't be approached by reason, there is no reason to believe it'' why do you think that we must have rational reasons in order to believe something and why it to God ?
          5. There are many reasons for accepting that the CGod hadn't been invented ; the fact that we agree that it's possible for us to invent a god and that many are invented doesn't mean that an other specific god is invented , so if you wanna keep your point prove it firstly.
          6. I don't have what to think carefull at this: "Thus he goes to hell because he cannot believe as you do" I said you he don't go in hell because of that , no one goes in hell because of his birth place. You just keep your position which (like the first mine about atheism ) isn't about the christianity but only what you imagine about christianity .
      • Jul 15 2011: 1. Of course if you can't show it, it is not objective. Simple. I think you don't know what "objective" means.
        2. I did not say you hide it on purpose. But "being fulfilled" is a premise that you accept intrinsically. so, instead of answering "why we have it if it will not be fulfilled" I question your premise, which is wrong. "Justice" is something we would like to see fulfilled. But that does not mean it has to be. How much clearer could this be? Why wouldn't a gregarious animal naturally need a sense of justice?
        3. Maybe we don't have to have rational reasons to believe something. But that does not mean that we should accept anything without reason. Your god is among many myths I don't see the need to believe without a reason, and this is reasonable, no matter your preferences, which are just that, preferences.
        5. And many more reasons to think your god is like any other god, just as invented. Thus, I don't need to prove anything. Your blindness notwithstanding. It is you who has to prove that it is not invented. Good luck with that since your god is not approachable by reason.
        6. You are the one not being careful. I got it, he goes to hell because "he can't be pure like God." But you keep forgetting that he "can't be pure like God through Christ," because he was born in the wrong place. That extra step does not change the contradiction. That talks about a very unfair and evil god, or an inept one at the very least. Thus, your god is a square circle, a contradiction of terms. not all-good, and/or not all-knowing, and/or not all-powerful. That you can't see the contradiction does not mean it is not there. Just open your eyes.
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      Jul 15 2011: 4."Wouldn't any reasonable person doubt the existence of their particular god by looking at how many other people believe in either a different version of the same god, or in a completely different god?" About the different versions: in christianity the God is mainly accepted somehow in the same way in every different christian religion , I said you somewhere beneath the very basically things about God and what He've done are accepted by everyone in christianity.
      The existence of more versions are easy explainable : knowing that God can't be known rationally and that the single main way (usually used) to know Him is by revelation ; we are different people , with different capacities of understanding, with different experiences........... .
      "Why would he be right and you wrong? " for many reasons , you notice for explaining my position I used the reason even though I don't recommend to someone to try to know God by reason ; I've talk with SR Ahmadi too , I wasn't too satisfied of his explanations and I found some strange things somehow contradictory in his posts (I said him that then ) :
      but why?:(only this two now) -the Bible prophecies , is the single religious book with historical prophecies that was fulfilled , the Koran don't have something like .
      - (using the 6) I found that the Bible is the single book which has presented an way to 'go in heaven'= to have a nature similary to God (to escape of sins) , the most rational one , the single one , I can guaratee it and I can prove it for everyone .
      In other words for every theist who think rationally I can prove that the Bible is the single way possible. (Idk what's the point in doing it for you as an atheist , so I limit myself only at that two)
      • Jul 15 2011: 4. But you are forgetting that no matter how many excuses you make, a reasonable person could doubt their god because of these problems. That you have managed to think that condemnation is because they are not pure like "God" (forgetting why they can't be), or because you think the bible has fulfilled prophecies (just as Ahmadi thinks that the koran has), and that you don't see your own contradictions just like Ahmadi does not see his own, tells me a lot about your level of "reasonable." To me, seeing you both as committed and as clueless, proves that neither of you have stopped to think how similar you are, and thus doubt your beliefs and your conviction. That says more about both your commitments than about the reality of any of your gods. A reasonable person should be able to ask herself, could it be that I am just as clueless as this muslim is?

        Remember, you said that you had heard no argument that would make a **reasonable** person doubt. Here you are giving me excuses rather than reasoning about wether these could make a reasonable person doubt. I don't care about your excuses. Ahmadi can give me as many as you can. The question was about reasonable. Not about blind to their own arguments and self deception. Do you think you don't sound exactly as Ahmadi? Because you are plainly wrong. Just think about it. It does not matter if you think that you are right, but if you can see that you sound identically wrong.

        Don't regurgitate. Think about it. Think about it. Think about it.
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          Jul 15 2011: Hey Gabo I have strong enough nerves .

          4.So do you say that whatever I try to say this problem exist ?
          What I said is proved, it's not only what I think :"you think the bible has fulfilled prophecies"
          But you think that all what I said are excuses , why ? share it more clear and I will explain myself or I will agree with you (I don't try to say anything now before being sure of what you are expecting) ,"The question was about reasonable" explore it a bit comparing with what I said .

          ("A reasonable person should be able to ask herself, could it be that I am just as clueless as this muslim is?" when I know something and I can prove it, it's not need to see if I'm able to ask myself if I'm wrong or not .
          I don't parallel myself with Ahmadi and I don't care what I said sounds like as long as you don't prove it wrong.
          "Not about blind to their own arguments and self deception" I could say the same thing about you.)
      • Jul 15 2011: I am not saying that whatever you say the problem still exists. I said that what you said does not eliminate the problem, it just adds a layer of cognitive dissonance on top of it. Take a good, deep, and honest, look.

        Bible prophecies are as proven as koran prophecies, and as any horoscope prophecies. Self-fulfilled prophecies when detailed enough. Post-rationalizations when not detailed enough (just like horoscopes), or when the bible is forced into referring to actual events. No surprises when referring to things reasonable humans could have predicted if you put the writings in their proper historical context, and so on and so forth. I have heard about those prophecies Eduard.

        I know you don't care if you sound exactly as Ahmadi. That's part of my point. He does not care if he sounds like you either. But you do sound like him, and you are unable to acknowledge that because of this very fact it is reasonable to at least doubt. I am not talking about you Ed. I am talking about reasonable persons. You should be able to make this distinction. Suppose, for the sake or argument, that you know something I don't know. That does not mean that "no reasonable person would doubt." That would mean that someone knowing what you know would not doubt. Thus you are wrong about what would make a reasonable person doubt, unless your definition of reasonable is "someone who knows exactly what I know." Is that how you define reasonable? because that would not be reasonable at all. Thus, your old point number 2 is also false, and atheism is not a joke at all. We would be done with that.

        Trying to unreasonably shift the burden of proof? Ahmadi can do that too.

        Yes, you can say that I might be blind to my own arguments. Still, that does not change the very fact that a reasonable person should be able to accept this possibility and thus doubt their god(s).

        Please now stop and think a lot before giving any answers
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          Jul 16 2011: Yes, sorry, I thought that you started a new thread giving a try against theism , I missed to think at my old 2 .(yes knowing this what I said are more excuses for the 2)

          I'll answer now considering my 2 (and not only):
          1."That your basis "isn't known" is enough for this." first of all it isn't known rationally but it can be known by other means , I don't see any reason to doubt God's existence only because I can't know Him rationally , I can't known Him as I said by other means.
          2.I know what you done. "Justice" is something we would like to see fulfilled. But that does not mean it has to be" wrong , justice is something which has to be fulfilled, otherwise it won't be justice ,it doesn't matter if our needs overlap with what is justice .Justice is something which exist whatever us , it is more a matter between good and evil which also exist whatever us , we are just some 'players' in the middle of it , it's absurd to reduce all this stuff like justice (good, evil) only at us when in fact we don't matter too much (we don't know what is justice in it's absolute meaning either ), so it should make us to doubt atheism rather than theism.
          5. you claim that the CGod is invented , the burden of proof stays on you (I claim that He's not and I can prove it even using this:"god is not approachable by reason").
          6."I got it, he goes to hell because "he can't be pure like God." But you keep forgetting that he "can't be pure like God through Christ," because he was born in the wrong place" you didn't get it yet, because you made a very childish and easy claim : everyone can=have the possibility to accept the CGod as long as he have heard about the CGod , it doesn't matter the place where he was born as well as I can be atheist like you now if I want to after I heard your version of atheism . Until now your supposed CGod is a square circle. So this shouldn't make anyone reasonable doubt.
          4.Here I accept your ctiticize because I missed the all idea :
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          Jul 16 2011: "Wouldn't any reasonable person doubt the existence of their particular god by looking at how many other people believe in either a different version of the same god, or in a completely different god? " Yes, it is possible and a person can doubt the existence of his particular god when looking at 'how many other people....' but it doesn't mean that we should recourse to atheism , it doesn't mean that we should reach because of that at a 'sensible conclusion'. .
          " Why would he be right and you wrong? Why would you be right and he wrong?" It doesn't matter if he would be wrong or I would about our specific gods for atheism.

          And, why do you think that I don't doubt the existence of the CGod ? but even if I do it I don't reach at a sensible conclusion like: there is no god . I doubt , the theists can doubt and do it .
          (My argument was that no contradiction would make us doubt in such way for reaching at the 'sensible conclusion' that there is no God ) .
          It's good to know and that first version of answer by the way.
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          Jul 16 2011: I'll be missing until at least Wendesday .
      • Jul 16 2011: 1. No what you originally said.
        2. Now you are playing semantics. You asked about our sense and search for justice, and presumed that for us to have such feeling it had to be fulfilled. That's what I answered. That "unfulfilled justice is not justice" has no weight on why we would have a sense of what is just and what is not. There is nothing wrong with my answer, and, as usual, a lot wrong with your question(s) and premises. It is nonsensical to criticize atheism for not supporting your religious belief in transcendental justice.
        5. I claim that your god looks just as invented as any other. If you think that your god is not invented, and thus exists, the burden of proof is on you, not me.
        6. Nope. Not everybody can accept Christ. Nothing childish about it. You are born of Muslim parents, they will indoctrinate you to believe as a Muslim. Thus god's ineptitude, thus square circle. I was born with enough intelligence to question my beliefs, to understand myths, to understand contradictions, logic and science. Thus, if your god existed it would be its fault, its ineptitude, its deception, getting me far from Christ. Thus square circle.
        7. We can add: why can't we be pure like god except through christ?
        because we have a sinful nature.
        Who made us?
        Then god made us that way. Thus inept, thus square circle.
        You don't understand, sinful nature is not god's responsibility, but original sin and fall.
        Why did creation fall?
        because of sin.
        could god create so that sin would not cause a fall?
        if no: then not omnipotent
        if yes, but did not: then evil.
        Thus compounded reasons why your god would be a square circle.

        If you doubt the existence of your god, then just as you can doubt one god, a reasonable person could discover other square circles and thus decide it sensible not to believe in any. Again, I did not say it takes one step. It might take more. But doubt starts somewhere and reasonably. Thus atheism is not a joke.
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          Jul 21 2011: 1. Yes , it's a completation, and is an answer about my old 2 , is this all what you have to say about it? if yes, then it is done, so no reason to doubt God .
          5.Ok (even though is still on you the burden of proof) the CGod can't be invented because there are many things said and about Him which aren't irrational surely but neither rationally can be understood.
          6. 'Not everybody can accept Christ' well no , I did say that everybody can accept Christ in terms of having this possibility, and everyone have this possibility as long as he hear enough about this Christ, we all have reason;and even using what you said, someone being indoctrinated , it doesn't mean that that person can't use his reason and so to have the possibility of accepting Christ("they will indoctrinate you to believe as a Muslim" so what? you have reason), so no square circle .
          7. Let's see what you had:
          -you don't have an understanding of what are you talking about , just keep some ideas which vehicule the most, usually in the crowd (but you are a man with intelligence...)
          'God made us with a sinful nature and the original sin and fall was cause of it' The original sin was the Lucifer's sin : the proud . God created the the all things good being an all-good God.
          My symplified explanation : the sins are good things in their very basis , the sin is basically a good thing which has broken the equilibrium state (for example a sin is an in excess good thing or in less) , another way of saying : the sins are the perversion of the good. Knowing it is easy explainable how the original sin appeared everything being good , and why it affected the God's creation .
          "could god create so that sin would not cause a fall?" yes and no.
          "If you doubt the existence of your god, then just as you can doubt one god, a reasonable person could discover other square circles and thus decide it sensible not to believe in any."
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          Jul 21 2011: Filling myself: I doubt God's existence but only a period of time, after I'm convinced of the truth of the God existence, it's senseless to doubt His existence on . My point was that knowing that many people support the idea of a god existence or another we consider the all possibilities and gradually we eliminate them when it's possible and rational .
          So no square circle yet .
          2. a bit later.
      • Jul 23 2011: Eduard,

        Not much more to say. So I try this last once:
        1. I did not want to start over something else. You are going in nonsensical circles. No complement there. If your basis is not knowable it is not objective. If you can "know it by ways other than reason," then it seems to very precisely be a subjective basis. Unless you can prove this thing, even if "irrationally" in a way that anybody could see it. Check the definition of "objective" before going on.
        5. I will not repeat again, you are the one who thinks this god exists, thus you have the burden of proof. In the meantime, your god looks as invented as any other. Live with it or prove that your god exists. If you can't, then I see no reason to think that your god is not invented. Study philosophy and universal negatives before trying this again. Enough is enough.
        6. A Muslim will say that you have the opportunity to hear about Islam, and thus be saved. But you probably can't become a Muslim, just like most Muslim's can't become Christians. Simple accidents of birth. Then you contradicted yourself. You said before that reason can't take you to your god, thus reason can't help. Thus clear square circles in both your answers and your god.
        7. You solved nothing. Can you see how nonsensical you have to become in order to try and deny the obvious? Not only is your god a square circle, your justifications are square circles too. "yes and no" = square circle; "sin is basically a good thing" = square circle. It does not matter if you can "explain" how sin affected creation, what matters is that if it did then your god was either inept (not powerful enough to make a resistant creation), or evil (he wanted to have lots of souls suffering and lost). No way around.

        Ready to accept that atheism is not a joke?
        If you offer little else, then I will just say so, and we are done. Hopefully you can at least admit that atheism is not a joke.
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          Jul 23 2011: Right :'enough is enough ' :
          1." If your basis is not knowable it is not objective" : two definitions: "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
          -intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book." so if my basis is not knowable I don't know if it is objective or not and you don't either (I didn't claim that my basis is objective).
          5. " If you can't, then I see no reason to think that your god is not invented." I can't, but if you don't see no reason for it, it doesn't mean automatically that my God is invented (and thus I said you to prove your claim......anyway....).
          6."But you probably can't become a Muslim" I can if I want to .......so no arguments from your part.
          "You said before that reason can't take you to your god, thus reason can't help" I didn't say that I said only that we can't know God by reason (what is supposed to be said by God can be known reasonable) , in your mind there are this square circles but not in reality (how would it sound to say you now:'open your eyes'?).
          7."what matters is that if it did then your god was either inept (not powerful enough to make a resistant creation), or evil (he wanted to have lots of souls suffering and lost). No way around." Going straight: He made a resistant creation and He made it so resistant that created some beings with free-will who can broke the equilibrium state therefore He wasn't neither inept nor evil (this last your argument at least, is made from an position(yours) which don't have understood the very things about what is supposed to be CGod and what He've done , as I said before: this ideas are spread among the usual christians who don't have an understanding too ) .
          Look at many scientists with a theological training (Alistar McGrath for example), why don't they turn to atheism ?
          You will have to admit that these (up) aren't arguments against theism.
      • Jul 23 2011: OK so final:
        1. You did claim that your basis was objective. Again, I claim it is not unless it is knowable, which is part of the definition of objective.
        5. Since all I claimed was that your god looks as invented as any other there is nothing for me to prove. Again, study universal negatives.
        6. No, you can't become a Muslim. If you say you can, then you don't believe in the CGod. Simple. But go ahead, become a Muslim, and defend the faith as Ahmadi does. But then you will have proven that your god is a square circle. You can jump from any into any other, thus no salvation is possible, and people are condemned because there is no way to distinguishing one square circle from another.
        7. How can you claim that a creation is "perfect" because its equilibrium could be broken to the point of condemning all humanity to a sinful nature, suffering, hell, condemnation by accidents of birth? What would you call an engineer whose building falls if only one of its bricks is broken killing many people inside? I would not call the building "so perfect that it would break at the first attempt." I would call the engineer either inept or evil. There you have it. Square circle by your own understanding. No other Christians necessary.

        I showed that your god is a square circle requiring worse square circles in order to avoid admitting its contradictions. Atheists don't have to invent cumbersome excuses for square circles at all. Atheists just conclude what seems more reasonable. Thus atheism is not a joke.

        I would tell you what I think about Alistar McGrath, but that might get this comment deleted. I can say that he is one of the most boring speakers I have ever heard. All he does is go in circles and circles without any meaning. No wonder he would not turn to atheism.

        So, agreed that atheism is no joke? If not, so be it.

        As for theism, some form might be reasonable. But I have not heard about any.

        Adios and see ya much later. I don't see any reason to continue.
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          Jul 23 2011: Final:
          1. I claim that I don't know if it is objective or not (rationally) and you don't as well , that for sharing you that you didn't prove my basis a subjective one .
          5.I don't have to study anything now , it's very simple , how do you know that CGod is invented (you claim it you have to prove it)? perhaps He is not an invention but He isn't something real too, why He is not a hallucination at so many people ? why don't you claim it for example?.... it's so simple.
          6."No, you can't become a Muslim" really? it's senseless to say anything more.
          7." What would you call an engineer whose building falls if only one of its bricks is broken killing many people inside? "........laugh ........going on it : you didn't understand anything from what I said , none of the bricks it's broken , all are perfect , just that some are so perfect that they have free will ............. no square circle by my understanding , maybe one by yours of 'mine' .
          You didn't share anything about my old 2 with all this arguments, so summarizing : according to my first arguments excepting my old 2 atheism is not a joke , it is a rational possibility . According to my old 2 ( and this above arguments) atheism is a joke .

          We don't invent 'cumbersome excuses' , I just said you what theism (christian theism) is about , you don't know it , you know only 'the colloqiual' face of it . If on it rest your atheism (so it seems)........... it is a bigger joke .

          Adio and perhaps will meet at the others converstaions, study more a philosophical/theological understanding of theism , you won't find contradictions , not some that would lead you to a sensible conclusion as atheism ...........the reality is a complex one , we all our life have to study ...... take care and good luck.
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    Jul 11 2011: Theism and atheism are beliefs, and beliefs do not warrant a proof. It's like the old story of four blind men touching an elephant at different spots and describing the elephant as a rope, a tree, a hand and a mountain.

    The situation that we are in is like electrons in an electric field. The electron generates electric field as well as experiences it. It is soaked in it. But without electron no field, without field no electron. The electron cannot go outside of the field to look at it "from above" to decide in totality what it is.

    Daniel Hehir makes some points that are striking and considerable.
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    Jul 7 2011: Good night folks, it's 2am here and I've been hanging at this discussion since 8am... It's been something!
    See you all tomorrow!
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    Jul 7 2011: (because of the 3 responses limit, I reply like this... hope it doesn't confuse people...
    @ Karthik Mishra
    "So, for you to believe in God has to himself appear in front of you, to make you believe in God...do you know how arrogant that sounds to the ears of a theist??"
    I did not say that, you asked for an example... I gave you one... A very explicit one, for sure... Please try and refrain from concluding things like you say here.
    An example is not arrogance... I could do with less information, but I do need evidence. No evidence = no reason to assume existence

    "I too am an atheist, but I make sure I don't hurt peoples feelings.I remember, a while ago, I trying to argue with my mother, just as you are now arguing. And the pain it causes to hear what I said, I decided not to say that anymore, because my mother lives in a perfectly moral world just as I do, perhaps her ideas are not correct, but her own ideas make her do good things and for me that is more important than the ideas themselves.I hope you understand. :)"
    I do.
    I have similar experiences. I don't push my thinking towards people who don't start a debate with me, or don't make truth claims that are utter nonsensical to me. And I don't push my ideas if that causes to much damage towards people I care about.

    I do think you missed my point though.
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        Jul 16 2011: Thanks for replying Karthik.

        I come from the opposite direction... I gradually stopped the quest. As a kid I prayed and read a children's bible. I gradually became doubtful, and stayed a seeking agnostic by age 18. I delved into other religions and new age, only to find out there were no good answers there... I became a skeptic and learned more about science and philosophy during college, to finally conclude that a god belongs to the realm of myths. I do like fantasy, but I separate it from reality...

        As the odds for any given god decreased as my knowledge about reality increased, I would not seek for it anymore as my quest to find a population of golden dragons on this planet... or spaghetti-monsters...
        I must admit I don't delve too deep into quantum physics either, as I don't understand all the math...
        so I leave it up to the brighter minds to discover. If they find out, then I'll try and understand and adopt it in my worldview.
        Currently, my worldview is based upon thermodynamics, cybernetics and statistical inference. It describes a set of possible worlds that (according to my knowledge) includes ours. I know how it can be falsified, but I have not seen any proof of it thus far... making it a quite solid worldview that I uphold for at least 8 years by now.
        On that account, I keep searching. Not for a god, but for a better understanding of the cosmos, my life and what it is to be a human, and experiencing along the way...

        I feel a great sense of joy when contemplating life. I do dismiss improbable ideas, as they are a waste of time (I only live so short, so I wish to learn things that are somewhat more certain first... as well as nice pieces of fantasy)
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    Jul 6 2011: the Bible has been debunked ad nauseam and those using it as a book of science certainly should be aware of the fallacies in it. But there is a kind of wisdom in it that C.G. Jung brought into focus. Psychology is a valid discipline. Those of you who are familiar with archetypes will see this is a treasure of human courage and foibles. With this comment I end my participation in any theist/atheist proof thread, All it does for the most part is go 'round and 'round. Questions I ask or statements I make are never addressed. I certainly won't delete my thoughts on this thread and I will be reading any further conversatiuons. Thanks, guys.......It has been enlightening and fun Regards to all of you (:>)
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      Jul 6 2011: Helen, thanks for participating! I fully understand your reasons not to participate anymore and I can say that I will do as you when this conversation closes.

      See you somewhere else! ;)
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      Jul 6 2011: Helen,
      You write..."Questions I ask or statements I make are never addressed".
      Is that a true statement for this thread? I just whipped through the comments to check:>)
      You introduced me to "panentheist", and I appreciate that:>)
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        Jul 6 2011: Hi Colleen........It is true of at least two threads...I was not referring to anything of yours as a matter of fact I have really appreciated your comments. They are all good. No, I had asked if believing in a non-being "my expression for God" was in any way invalidated by logic or evidence. Nobody took me on . And there were others Love you Helen
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          Jul 6 2011: Thank you Helen. I felt sad that you thought your comments were not being addressed, and appreciate you clarifying...love you too:>)

          P.S. Imagine yourself thumbed up...I've used up my quota for the week for you!
          I'll send you a hug through cyberspace:>)
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      Jul 6 2011: Then I will only say this Daniel:
      If you wish to have fun, stay.
      If you don't, please leave!
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      • Jul 7 2011: Jim Lloyd,

        All I have to say is thank you so much Jim!! Finally somebody understands what I've been trying say all along !
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          Jul 7 2011: Well... I'd just like to add that I didn't say that Atheism = Science, I said that they go hand in hand...

          Edit: (according to "my version" of Atheism that is)
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    Jul 6 2011: "For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence".

    Albert Einstein Address at Princeton Theological Seminary May 19.1939

    NOTE: See exchange between Chrsitophe and me below. The quote I had here initially, attributed to this same address but from a different link correctly framed Einstein's views but may not have been properly referenced. This quote, which is most definitely from the Pinceton Address maks the exact same point evn more clearly. Email me via TED if you would like to compare the two. No room eher to include both as I had intended in this update.

    The address and the NY Times Ariticle by Einstein is very good reading and a very fruitful way to understand that there is no inherent conflict between science and religion.
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      Jul 6 2011: He also married his cousin, not every thought that he had was correct...

      Not to mention "the cosmological constant"....
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        Jul 6 2011: he married his cousin? That is on par with and to the same standrd as the wisdom of Einteins insight? he married his cousin? come on!!!
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      Jul 6 2011: "If we are honest — and scientists have to be — we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."-Paul Dirac.

      Not that quoting scientists is worth much when they're just stating an opinion.
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        Jul 6 2011: "Not that quoting scientists is worth much when they're just stating an opinion." - This is really important to realize! Don't make Einstein your deity Lindsay!
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          Jul 6 2011: Einstein who famously rejected quantum mechanics as "spooky action from a distance". Can't get it right each time...
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          Jul 6 2011: What I honor always is clear thinking, & wisdom..what I seek always is truth

          I seek equanimity and balance.

          I don't see that in these endless TED religious debates.

          .I see extreme and rigid weddedness to positions that are not complete, not well informed, strongly ideological and meme driven on both sides . I see that in the repetition of fixed ideology on both sides..the repetion of secific phrases. that express that ideology

          .I cite Einstein here at TED because on this subject he speaks with great wisdom... and because I think this idea of religion as a moral compass is " aTED idea worth spreading."

          .It is, I think ,a wonderful wisdom way of understanding what "religion" has been through all time in all human communities at its essence. Ideas about the earth being 6,000 years old are not religion in the sense of the universal definitionof "humanity's moral compass"

          .And the other part of Einstein's remarkable insight in this May 1939 address at Princeton Theological Seminary is that we as humans have many different uniquely human inner faculties of which reason is only one. The part of us that "religion" is about is the faculty of heart..the faculty of awareness of other, of compassion, aspiration, hope and justice.

          We are not fully human, not fully actualized if we don't hone all our faculties and express our lives through all our faculties.In this sense of the relationship between reason and morality, science and religion. We should look for unity as global citizens on a plane of morality and it shouldn't matter whether beliefs in God or consciousnes are shared. All that matters is that we are all attuned as global citizens, as neighbors to stewardship for the earth and one another.

          Finally, comparisons, judgments, characterizations and rigid ideology are a very diminished place from which to speak about anything and cloud the real posisbility of learning, and understanding..
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          Jul 6 2011: Religion is an awful moral compass. Throughout history it has been a bastion of conservatism. Religious establishments have often had to catch up with the ever-changing morality of our societies. Morality is relative, not absolute and religion and its impermeability to new ideas, is not the beginning or the end of morality.
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          Jul 6 2011: Yes, I know it's not getting through ..because its a language and a view that is outside the boundaries of your own very tightly defined ideology.

          My own thinking on all this is in formation.

          . That is what I was exploring in my conversation on Updating our belief systems and also in my conversation on the limits of freedom of religion.I discovered Einstein's address after both of those conversations closed and see in it a much more useful way to think about what "religion" is in universal human terms..the idea of religion as a "moral compass" and as an extension of one of the most important inner faculties of humanity

          .If you "try that on" and look again at the issues at the heart of your concern, which I assume is the increasing encroachment of fundamentalist ideology into governance..it will reframe where the most fruitful investment of your energy lies in addressing that concern.. And it will redefine the "community" willing to work and act with you in addressing that issue.

          Haranging Fundamentalist belief systems is not a very fruitful line of action if your real concern is the influence fundamentalists are having on all our lives.

          Also if you "try it on" as we did in our discussion on the limitations of religious freedom it become very clear that "freedom of religion" in a pluralistic society has imperative boundaries..For example law supercedes religious tradition and in Canada, hooray for Canada, hate speech itself is a crime.

          These are the kinds of fruitful possibilities that exist when you switch your defiition of religion to the broad universal one Einstein suggests.
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          Jul 6 2011: My problem with religion as a moral compass is that religion doesn't (in principal) change over time. Our morality on the other hand has and we have seen some spectacular changes in what we perceive as ethical and moral. Was it a rigid religious compass guiding us all the way or might it have been a vast array of other things? Let's look at animal ethics. What has a bigger impact on our feelings about how we should treat animals, the realization that we share ancestry and what this means in terms of animal suffering? Or the Biblical idea that we are the stewards of the Earth and other animals are here to serve us?

          Sure, your immediate response might be that in another religion, so and so is said about animals. Well, which dogma, if any, are we to trust over which other dogmas? If we make that choice, aren't we applying a sort of morality that is already within us?

          I absolutely refuse to give religion a total hegemony on questions of morality and I doubt that people actually do in day to day life, even if they claim they do (it's a popular idea [dare I say cliché?] that religion is a moral institution).

          But, maybe none of what I say matters, maybe I'm just blinded by my own tightly defined ideology.
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          Jul 6 2011: And Mattieu what has Einstein's suspicion of spooky action at a distance to do with the value and insight of his comment. It isn't valuable just because Einstein said it. It is valuable because it is profound in its own right.I wouldn't think of refuting a worthy statement you made with a retort that your socks don't match. .
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          Jul 6 2011: yes belief systems do not stay as fluid and dynamic and engaged with our critical thinking..that was hte point of my discussion on updating our belief systems..we have to do that for ourselves as individuals..institutions are pitifully slow to change

          Case in point..all through TED the millitant atheists are still yammering on about teaching creationism in public schools ( which was NEVER TRUE..they were attemting to get Intelligent Deisgn into school curriculum..only a few districst tried that and ACLU (CivilLiberties Union) who are right on top of this secured what was obvious in the court opinion donkey's years go that "intelligent Deisgn"is not science and violates separation of church and state when taught in piublic schools.So time for an update. the Civil Librties Union is on top of this..no threat, no trend..no problem.
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          Jul 6 2011: It's not the statement I'm replying to, its your elevation of it. You give it too much importance, and hope other people will too, precisely because it comes from Albert Einstein. I'm just pointing out that Einstein is a man and what really matters is the science he provided that worked. Please reply to my post, three posts up.
        • Jul 6 2011: Lindsay,

          You said: "which was NEVER TRUE..they were attemting to get Inteeligent Deisgn into schoolcurriculum"

          Sorry to break these news to you, but:

          1. They did attempt to put religion into science curricula.
          2. Once that failed they attempted to disguise their religion as "creation science."
          3. Once that failed and "creation science" was shown to be the creationism it truly is, they disguised their beliefs and repackaged into "intelligent design."

          They failed at that too. ID is 100%, pure creationism. Of the worst kind because it is a lie, thus charlatanry.

          They are still very active at it. Now they jump from "teach the controversy" (the only controversy is their ideology and fantasy-land views against science. That is not something to teach as if it were scientific controversy), to "teach scientific evidence against evolution," which they want to supplement with their twisted evidence against straw-men of evolutionary theory, where they try and redefine evolution into something they can attack, or they try and redefine science trying hard to either exclude evolution or include creationism. All good reasons for militant atheism. Otherwise who will denounce them for what they are?

          I am all for respect. But I will not respect whomever does not respect me back. I am not talking about direct insults, but about the plain lies they tell to their followers, which they repeat as if they were "gospel truth." You exemplified my point exactly. You think that their goal was never to teach religion but "intelligent design." That means they misinformed you about the history, and about what ID is. Thus.
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          Jul 6 2011: Lindsay, I am confused, are you saying Creationism and intelligent design are two distinct things? Because they're not.

          America has one of the lowest percentage of people who accept the theory of evolution in the West and if you ask me, as an American, I think it's a disgrace. You can pretend it's not a real problem, but it is. You have Republican politicians who don't accept it. I'll de damned if you can find any Conservative politician in France who is a Creationist, but I could easily name a few in America.
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          Jul 6 2011: @matthieu & jim re is there an ongoing threat that creationist will inflitarte public schools?

          Although I am deeply troubled by the corruption of our consitution by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision, I basically have confidence that the creationists can demand whatever hhey want, school board by school board and say whatever they want about the ACLU and many many other who will,in America at least, uphold the separation of church and state.

          I am not worried about creationists infiltrating our public education system .I took a very quick look at the history of cases and actions on the creationsim/intelligent design actions adopted by school boards..they all seemed to be in bible belt or cultural centers of various non maintream religious groups. So in those areas more likely that member s of a school board might also be creationists.

          But even in these far reaches of America, the constitution applies. Separation of church and state applies. It is straight out unconsittional as is intelligent design

          .@ whoever asked do I think creationism and intelligent design are the same thing?

          Well I'm not interested enough in either to argue that distinction, I am just grateful that neither will be taught in any public school in America...at least not for long.. consittional lawyers and the ACLU will catch up with them and they will.

          And to make what has been my larger point from the beginning..the constituency in America at least to rigorously uphold separation of church and state ( and that really is the core issue isn't it?) is much broader thanDawkinists and gnu -atheists..its' all Americans who are guaranteed the protections of our consitution.

          When you are advocating for something..frame your strategy. your outreach, your."brand" to include the broadest ;possible. specturm of "like affected persons". In America on speration f church and state that is all of us.anyone to the contrary simply over ruled and out manoueverd by our constitution.
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          Jul 6 2011: @ matthieu I absolutely refuse to accept religion as a moral compass ( not an exact quote..sorry..these three indent threads are difficult)


          In this reply you are using "religion" to include all about religon through the ages that has been violent, divisive .about the supremacy of one group over another. My point (and the implication of Einstein's broader standrd for "religion as auinversal expression of humanity") os these things don't serve humanity..don't wokr in a pluaristic modern society, have nothing to do with "moral expression" , stewardship for others, stewardship for our fragile earth. In my own personal sense of religions fundamental connection to humanity I don't honor as "religious expression" anything that doesn't serve life..serve life that is here. serve life that will inherit the earth.What was important to Einstein,, what is important to me isn't whether any one believes in God or not. It's how they live their lives. What they say, what they do to serve life.

          In my definition of religio it is the moral compass that matters..whether you are atheist, buddhist, sufi, muslim, chistian, jew, humanist, cultural ethicist. That was the whole point of Einstein's wonderful address at Princeton Theological Seminary on May 19, 1939.

          Belief systems are personal. We each build our own..Knowngly or unkowingly. W are respomsble for the content of our belief systems. We can't explain and shoudn't have to defnd that to anyone. We shouldn't be held to account for the content of our belief suystem so long as it is apprent in our lives..in what we actually say and do that we serve life, that we have a moral compass..
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          Jul 6 2011: And you still haven't replied to my post about why religion is the most awful of moral compasses (which is, after all, the main point of contention in this thread). That's what I'm interested in.
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          Jul 6 2011: "I absolutely refuse to give religion a total hegemony on questions of morality and I doubt that people actually do in day to day life, even if they claim they do." - myself

          Not an exact quote indeed, your misquote alters the meaning of my sentence. Also you once again refuse to address the core of my argument and repeat something that you've already said three times (I can read, thanks), namely that I'm looking at all the bad in religion when devising my answer and failing to see the moral compass hidden in all that.

          Even ignoring religion's bad history (and that's asking me to ignore a lot), I still don't see it as the moral compass you claim it to be. No matter how you re-brand the word 'religion' (I'm getting tired of these silly semantic games, religion has a pretty specific definition and there some things it just isn't) it just cannot stand for all the morals of our society and the rationale behind some of them. Think again about my example about animal ethics. What about our environmental responsibilities? were they not spurred on by such things as our realisation of the finiteness of the Earth as revealed to us by such things as Apollo 8's photos of Earth? What about today's ethical issues? Can we simply wave them away with a good scriptural passage or do we need to reflect on these problems based on our current knowledge-base?0

          Our moral compasses are societies, ideas, people ahead of their time. Our moral compasses are knowledge and the free-thought power we gain from these. Our moral compasses are certainly not to be found in millennia-old texts or some sort of unfounded spirituality.
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        Jul 6 2011: I simply didn't understand the context of any of that... Sounds like a lot of mixed cliches.
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          Jul 6 2011: What makes no sense?

          Do you think, Jimmy, the part of us that loves, that feels moved when people are hungry, tha tengages us with our pets and our communities, that frames our sense of justice, morality and ethics arises from the same aspect of us that is pure mind, pure reason?

          Pretty basic stuff that as human beings these are two very different "operating systems" ..not in conflict with one another..both unique and valuable expressions of each of us as human.

          By the way, if you read my writings here or elsewhere, one thing you'll notice is I never quote cliche or speak from cliche. All of my thinking and speaking is original..the product of a life time of independent critical thinking...which is hard work..all that ongoing learning and growing...Same of Einstein I am now just learning.
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        Jul 6 2011: Lindsay,

        Yes, I think that the "moral compass" comes from pure reasoning, after all It's to everyone's advantage to follow good moral codes...

        I find it sad that many don't think that they are connected and that reason is somehow "evil"...
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          Jul 6 2011: Following a moral code is thus (to an extent, some specific moral issues are still relative to their social context) an evolutionarily advantageous strategy, with or without religion. There's a reason we observe moral behavior in non-human animals who are devoid of dogma. The golden rule is alive and well in all matter of species. Religious just has a knack for re-branding what's already out there as its own. I stand firmly against that.
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          Jul 6 2011: @ Jimmy Moral Compass comes from pure reasoning????????Kindness comes from pure reasoning?????? weeping at the beauty of black sky full of stars comes from pure reason????
          poetry, music and art come from pure reason?

          Jimmy, next time life touches you unexpectedly think on this and see if you think still that the part of us that hopes, dreams, is compassionate is in any way related to pure reason. In eveyr human being these are two different operating systems. The stranger who runs out onto the street to keep a child from being hit by a car is operating from pure reason????.It's not a sustainable proposition Jimmy.
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          Jul 6 2011: It is sustainable when one is aware of both systems in oneself and can use them simultaneously...with or without religion:>)
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          Jul 6 2011: colleen..yes great point and that is the goal for each of us..to have all of our inner faculties, mind, heart,will honed totheir highest possible state and working harmonisously and in balance with one another..but that' another conversation..what are the inner faculties which define hmanity.how do we grow them? Want to start it?
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          Jul 6 2011: @ colleen entirely separate..

          yes, important clarification..I didn't mean not working simulataneously..I meant only each as a distinct operating system. .
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        Jul 6 2011: Yes..and the realm of human imagination is an entirely separte operating system from the realm of reason.both funadamental aspects of humanity..bot are needed to have community..to govern ousrselves to prioritize our goals yo be a reference for what we say and do.

        the faculty of reason and the faculty of imagination or heart are separte and equal..neither is inferiror to the other both are needed to complete any individual person..to live in community with others. That is the whole point of Einstein's very wise and profound insight.
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          Jul 6 2011: If you prefer to keep them seperated Lindsay, it is a choice you make. If one is aware of all aspects of our "self" we can connect with many "operating systems" simultaneously. As you say Lindsay..."needed to complete ANY individual person"...with or without religion:>)
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        Jul 6 2011: Jim, most of the time I agree with you as well :)

        And it wasn't unintentional, I was thinking about it and decided that I didn't feel like putting the energy to write it down...
        Too much time on this conversation has made me unmotivated and sloppy in my responses, for that I apologize... I will try to do better.

        Edit: Morals come from evolution, I agree. Evolution is rational... or is that too far fetched?
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          Jul 6 2011: evolution can become devolution..in other words it is just a process of adpating for survival..

          also by the way, I saw a science documentary on the structure and function of cellsthat is really beginning to question how change we see as "evolutionary comes about". I have to find the cite and will bring it here if I can track it down. My recollection ( and I have the meory of an elephant) is tey observed cells copying eachother in the living organism..e,e one cell would "think up" a better stratgey for coping with some threat or stress and then one or two others would copy the change of the first cell and then the majority of cells would eventually follow. In otherwords the implication was that these chnages that are eventually inherited are constant and dyanmic within a particular individual. It was facinating and it did really change a lot about how we have tgought of evolution ocurring.

          Interesting case in point.. the son of a frieind of mine was born a hemophliac and unlike many hemopliacs never became contaminated wby HIV tainted blood supplies. At Harvard they studied his blood and found it contained a totally unique and inexplicable immunity to aids. That factor is not prewsent in nay of his children or in his parents..

          Just like science can so far only understand about 5%??) of the matter in the universe and is just at the edge of understanding the other 95%..we as complex organism are far from fully understood by science so far.

          So the unknown and unkowable is always present. The only difference is science deals with the physical content of the universe and what drives us to be heroes or adventurers or to undertake th eimpossible against all odds isn't about the material stuff of the universe. It's not less. It's just a different process using different faculties.
        • Jul 6 2011: Jim,
          Jimmy isn't being sloppy...he's just "mixing thing up" Those are the rules of the game now (we've moved the goalposts)... science and atheism mean beyond a shadow of a doubt.... approximately the same thing....

          ....... is then... Atheism "unguided" or is it..." rational in the sense that the laws of physics are rational."...if there is no "conscious reasoning" in the progress of evolution (as you claim) and ... as the ideology "atheism" must also be .... a part of the "unguided" process of evolution.... as it also is within the stream of the evolutionary process of all things ....right...?
          conclusion thus being... atheism has no conscious reasoning
          .... but I'm sure you knew that....
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          Jul 6 2011: @ They did try to bring creationism in.

          .(cite on that??? what I saw in my quick sercah is thatin one case the effort to do that was straight out rebuffed andthe settlement was a statement on the csience book that evolution is a"theory"( we could all go around on that)

          The point is, the fact is they can try all they want but they won't prevail here.The ACLU is on top of. If it's happening elsewhere I would assume separation of church and state provisions would work as well as they do here.

          There is no threat that this will be taught in U.S. schools.

          It's a red herring. Their efforts and seiries are meaningless..have no effect on us. It's only if separation of church and state fails, which it hasn't yet, that it becomes a concern.

          Our consiuition fends it off.the ACLU has this one covered.
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        Jul 6 2011: Lindsay, (I'll take the time for once)
        Maybe you think that I'm a cold calculating "¤##"E"¤ but I can assure you that by most in my vicinity I'm looked upon as a compassionate person and I do believe that it's one of the most important qualities that a person can have.
        I do however also think that reason, logic and whichever word you'd like to put on it is one of the most important qualities as well. And that they are connected, not separated.
        I'm looking at morals from a evolutionary perspective and therefore long going reasoning must be the explanation for our moral codes...

        I just want to demonstrate how I think that morals come from reason for me (when I think about it intellectually)
        Kindness: It's an altruistic behavior, I treat other the way I'd like to be treated, I have much to gain from this.
        Night-sky: It triggers my imagination about what might be out there, but I also know of the odds and I've applied reason to my imagination which makes it even better for me. It makes me think about my size and place in the universe, I could not think this without reason.
        I'd run into the street because of altruism (once again)...

        Hope that I've redeemed some of my stature as a thinking and compassionate person...
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          Jul 6 2011: You certainly didn't have to "redeem" yourself Jimmy, because I for one sense your compassion. I agree...everything is connected...not separated. To realize that, one HAS to have compassionate understanding of oneself:>)
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          Jul 6 2011: Colleen again ( these replies aren'tl ining up.)

          of course they're connected and inform and feed each other..hopefully all the parts of us that make us "us" work well together..in balance

          @Jimmy (what I think of you) part of that balance is never speaking or thinking from judgment,, I have no opinion as to your character..a few though about the intellectual rigor you have brought to this thread..but hey we are not fully resourced in every momentI think we are on the same page on this point
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          Jul 6 2011: Well Lindsay, maybe you should look at your own intellectual rigour (and your spelling which has become out of control for some reason). You've agreed with Colleen on points where she clearly states that religion is not necessarily needed for the purpose you're giving it. I also still want you to address that post I made earlier where I used the example of animal ethics and how religion brings nothing valuable to the table whereas our realization that we share ancestry does.

          You cannot ask religion to update itself (I think you suggested this somewhere), that goes against the very point of religion as a sacred dogma of immutable truths.
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          Jul 6 2011: matthieu,

          (1) It's not my spelling it's my fingers..I have neural damage to both hands from super aggressive chemo/radiation..as you may have noticed..I do go back over my comments and try to edit to correct typos..and I do apologize if a given comment stands uncorrected for too long.

          (2)There was no lapse in intellectural rigor(that was addressed to Jimmy not Colleen) in my exchanges with Colleen nor in what either of us said and we were both on the same page..perhaps you just didn't follow?.Colleen and I had no disagreement..she mistook my distinction between the basis for reason and the basis for moral compass as suggesting the two did not work together and inform one another which in several replies to her I have affirmed. I am pretty sure Colleen and I are on the same page on this..at least as far as what she has said here. Pehaps you missed the subtlety of her very good point?

          And the point of my replies?

          (3) As to your question about whether evolution informs our morality on humane treatment of animals more than religion..it's just not a meaningful question to me.

          ..nor do I think it would be to the overwhelming majority of people if you put that question to them. YOU may go around interpreting every facet of your life, every experience through Darwinism..but I think that is not so deeply ingrained in most as a primary "lens on the world"

          ..And to me. once again, once again, once again..the point is..that doesn't matter.My whole point from the beginning..and Einstein;s point is that its moral compass that matters. If you are kind and compassionate towards animals..I don't care how you got there or what keeps you there..many different paths of awareness lead there.and none require belief in God.and getting there is all that matters.That is the WHOLE POINT
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          Jul 6 2011: @ Matthieu Can we expect religion to update itself

          Can't argue with you on that one. insitutional religion is .very slow to change, often to the detriment of followers..often over burdened with doctrine and dogma that has strayed so far from the underlying orignal wisdoms and teachings as to be unrecognizable.

          I don't think any sensible thinking moral person could defend any of that.

          But we as individuals can' t blame institutions for the content of our own "belief systems".. As Colleeen says,, critical thinking has to engage..the two have to work togther.

          Whenever we accept and live from any ideology that we "swallow whole" we are in deep trouble. We as individuals don't have to wait for organizations to change to update our own belief systems. That is what we explored in my conversation on "Updating Our Belief Systems"
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          Jul 7 2011: I'm sorry to hear about the neural damage, I applaud your determination to keep participating on TEDConversation considering that handicap.

          Are we agreed then that essentially the moral compass is independent of religion since it can manifest itself within and without it? My illustration with Darwinism by the way, was specific to animal ethics, the bigger picture just being that there are many things that constitute our moral compass. But I think we're actually agreed on that. I'm not sure I see the relevance of pointing out religion as being one chip in a wider moral compass. I still think religion is a pretty poor part of our moral compass.
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        Jul 6 2011: Jim, I know... I should just but out for the moment...
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          Jul 7 2011: @matthieu "Are we agreed then that essentially the moral compass is independent of religion since it can manifest itself within and without it? "


          No arguement from me that so much of what has been said and done through history in the name of religions violent, divisive, spreading hatred, not serving humanity or mankind. Intolerable ,not acceptable, cannot continue. I agree.

          Freedom of religion was not intended to protect or honor that. The freedom to engage in religious practice does not include those practices which undermine “the common good”. That’s what my Conversation on the limits of religious freedom was all about


          I read a lot of Richard Dawkins quotes last night. Overall didn't resonate with me but I am on the same page on absolute unequivocal intolerance for what is done in the name of religion that threatens the peace, well being and safety of the world. I got there about half way through our discussion on the 1967 Palestine/Isreali borders and posted it as a TED value at our common ground survey ( www.goo.gl/mod/0073). Please go vote if you share that value. I think it is a TED Idea worth spreading..we can all stand together on that.

          And , as you will see at my discussion on limitations on religious freedom Canada and California offer us the beginnings of a political, legislative solution that we can all push for as a basis for U.S. policy as well. That is something we can all fight for all over the wolrd as we fight for protection of universal human rights. That is a TED Idea worth spreading.

          What I was offering by reference to an elaboration on Einstein’s wonderful insight is basically a universal definition of what we will honor as “religion” and protect under “freedom of religion” A totally new and universal definition of what we mean by “religion” when we speak of “freedom of religion” in our modern pluralistic global community.
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      Jul 6 2011: If quoting, try and see the whole picture please (A Skeptic artist once pointed out that there are a lot of fake Einstein quotes)

      Here are some Einstein quotes.

      "I received your letter of June 10th. I have never talked to a Jesuit priest in my life and I am astonished by the audacity to tell such lies about me. From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist."
      on http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

      more quote:
      I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.
      Letter to Guy H. Raner Jr. (28 September 1949), from article by Michael R. Gilmore in Skeptic magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1997)

      your quote (also in the wiki) seems to be disputed:
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        Jul 6 2011: O yeah, I forgot where this all began and your comment just showing up like this seemed really weird ;P

        What do you mean by disputed Christophe? Does it seem true or false?
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          Jul 7 2011: @Chistophe "Could you rephrase your final paragraph? I do not quite understand what you intend to say...
          (I have the feeling it claims that religion can offer something unique that cannot be attained otherwise... If that is meant, I completely disagree, if not, I misunderstood) ?

          (1) religion as viewed by Einstein ( and me) is an expression of an inherently human faculty that is about our awareness of and compassion for all of life..Einstein argued and I agree that we miss imporant expressions of this inherent moral compass if we insist it has include a notion of God. If we exclude.Buddhists, Humanists, Naturalits ala Spinoza we overlook teachings that offer much in the way of guidance and unfolding of this important himan faculty. Simply..Relgion isn't just abut God and much ofwhat passes for "religion" isn't an expression of this faculty..dosn't foster its developmnet and growth ( my spin..)

          (2) science is also an expression of a uniquely human faculty..that of thinking .

          (3) they are not incompatible with one another

          (2) both are necessary, both should be fully developed and fully expressed in each of us.
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          Jul 7 2011: @ Jimmy:

          I don't know. It seems that Einstein did an interview, but that the quote was a slight paraphrasing.

          @ Lindsay:
          I could agree from the perspective if religion is seen as "what binds us" (religare is Latin for "to connect")
          As such a scientific religion might even exist. Though I don't think that desire-able.
          I would name that a form of humanistic religion. maybe the Brights can be called that?
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        Jul 6 2011: This one, Christophe, is from his 1939 address at Princeton Theological Seminary a real event a well documented event.readily ascertainable

        I try to be meticulous about my sources ( I will double check though Christophe..they cited the 1939 princeton address and I am quite familiar with that..and I usually quote directly from that if I am quoting that paper. I will re read the entire address, which is undisputed...I did sort of hesitate because I hadn't recalled him reefrring to himself as an atheist. in that address

        .certainly the thrust of the quote is entirely consistent with the further development of the idea that "religion" is best understood without reference to God but with reference to morality, dreams, etc. etc. and the science is only about the discovery of how the material world works.)
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        Jul 6 2011: Hi Christophe..here is one of many quotes from the source I have been referring to..his May 19, 1939 Address on Science and Religion at The Prnceton Theological Seminary..a real and and well documented: event with verifiable spefic content

        :"For the scientific method can teach us nothing else beyond how facts are related to, and conditioned by, each other. The aspiration toward such objective knowledge belongs to the highest of which man is capabIe, and you will certainly not suspect me of wishing to belittle the achievements and the heroic efforts of man in this sphere. Yet it is equally clear that knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is, and yet not be able to deduct from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and the longing to reach it must come from another source. And it is hardly necessary to argue for the view that our existence and our activity acquire meaning only by the setting up of such a goal and of corresponding values. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderful, but it is so little capable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspiration toward that very knowledge of truth. Here we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational conception of our existence"

        . same point. as in my original quote but this is indisputable and actually much more clearly to the point .my source (cite below) is not a complete transcript..and does not include the text in which he referred to himself as an atheist so for now I agree..attribution unclear, will keep tracking it though

        my source is .http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm
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        Jul 6 2011: read that chrisophe.

        .doesn't shed any light on the particular quote at issue.

        Einstein does refer to Spinoza in the Princeton Seminary address ( may 19, 1939)..see my cite above and again it is making the same point..that the idea of religion as expressing only a belief in God is not inclusive enough..because it excludes Spinoza and Buddhists and humanists.etc. That is undisputed

        .Also, as you know. we all put different spins and different exact words to the same idea..so it is is possible that the quotes in your link above about Spinoza ere made at different times Certainly the one's at the link you gave are completely consistent with those in the Princeton address ( and also in his style and syntax)

        .I have read a great deal of many good thinkers on religion and spirtuality and have never seen anyone speak with such simple clarity on science and religion and in particular on the the fundamental connection between humanity and religion..religion that is about serving life, caring for others, caring for our world

        And therefore also an excellent demonstration of how disciplined clear thinking can also inform what we allow into our belief systems..
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          Jul 6 2011: I have the impression our opinions are (in this case) not very far apart (though different), so I do not wish to polarize.

          I do wish to draw your attention that quoting someone or claiming literacy are arguments of authority (i.e. logical fallacies). Which does not mean that the argument cannot be valid...

          Could you rephrase your final paragraph? I do not quite understand what you intend to say...
          (I have the feeling it claims that religion can offer something unique that cannot be attained otherwise... If that is meant, I completely disagree, if not, I misunderstood)
      • Jul 7 2011: Chris,
        Can you read my last comment to Jimmy?
    • Jul 7 2011: Hi Lindsay,

      I've never heard the concept of religion be more elegantly explained than Einstein did in that address. It's making me re-think my position. Thank you for the link!!
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        Jul 7 2011: Hello Austin, nice to see you again..we have not been in the same place at TED here for awhile.

        As I said in my comment a few minutes ago to Matthieu Jinmmy and Jim I am suggesting that we need a clearer definition of what we will honor and protect in our moder global pluralistic society when we speak of "freedom of religion".

        Clearly it cannot include nor can we tolerate all the violence, divisiveness, and harm that has been done through the ages in the name of "religion".I was suggesting Einstein's wonderfully broad idea about what religion is in essence as a starting point for such a universal definition of "religion" that is not based on belief in God but based on the actualization of humanity, of each of us as moral and compassionate beings

        .I certainly think that we need a universal definition of "religion" that expresses what we will protect under "freedom of religion". The united States could cetrainly do more under the terms of our constitutionand California has deminstrated that in their law. Canada has given us a wonderful model that could serve as a global model for circumscribing "religious practice" when it is expressed as criminal acts.. Both avoid defining defining "religion". Both are focused on hate speech and inciting violence and maybe thatis the way to go.

        But just as a universal compass I think we also need some kind of consensus on what we mean by "religion" when we speak of "freedom of religion" as a universal human right. I am with Einstein that the most important element of that definition is not belief in God or gods but the inherent moral compass towards compassion and stewardship. My definition of "religion" like Einsteins honors Buddhists, Humanists, Ethical Culturists and Spinoza's naturalists above any orgnaized religion that is not equally free of violaence and harm to others, to life.I am suggesting this "redefinition" of religion to serve our modern pluralsitic global community. as a TED Idea worth Spreading.
        • Jul 7 2011: Lindsay,

          Yes! It's been a while, glad to see you again too.

          I don't have much to add. I concur that religion is no excuse for inciting violence, hate speech, and etc. I'm certainly alright with freedom of religion, but what exactly qualifies as acceptable religious activity should be scrutinized. Faith alone should not be able to allow people to justify normally unjustifiable actions.

          "Canada has given us a wonderful model that could serve as a global model..."

          I'm unfamiliar with their model, but you've sparked my curiosity. I'll look into it!
      • Comment deleted

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          Jul 7 2011: Jim,

          To put it another way I was syaing that what passes for "religion" is a lot of stuff that is most likely not what the founding fathers here had in mind when they set up "freedom of religion".
    • Jul 3 2011: Jimmy,
      Hvordan har du det? Vi er nesten naboer vi! Det er lov å commentere på din egen TED debatt..... så hvorfor er du er du så stille.....?
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        Jul 4 2011: Hi Daniel, I'll reply in English although I do appreciate the Scandinavian... I simply haven't had time to comment yet.
  • Jul 1 2011: AN INTRODUCTION:
    Atheism is not an answer but the only way of rationaly think on the needs of gods.

    Gods are the old answer of people to the need of believe in something.
    Atheism is the acceptance that the need-to-believe is not a reason to invent a god, but the reason to start solving that need-of-sense-of-life. Finding your objectives of personal development in life avoid the need of gods because your life become full of sense.

    Holy books were writen by human hands motivated by human fears and needs. There is the proof. Humans writing and inventing stories that solve their lack of answers. Then others followed the crowd. Others (in plural) even believe to be sons of those gods and others join the movement.

    Holy books were writed by people, churches were built by people, stories were told by people. That are the facts and the proof.

    Accept the evolution on thinking. Accept that societies get rational solutions of almost all old mysterys.
    Accept we live in an era of knowledge not of misticism.

    Open your minds to the fact that gods never existed. Remember that only were people telling good stories. That's the proof.
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    Jul 29 2011: Hello everybody!

    There's only 23 hours left until this conversation closes and I'd just like to make this "pre-closing statement", you're all welcome to do the same!

    I've had a lot of fun and learned a lot form reading your thoughts and discussing Atheism and many other topics on this conversation. I'm astonished by the mental endurance that many of you have shown here.
    And I would like to thank all of you for giving each other insight into thoughts that we (or at least I) didn't know existed.

    It's going to be quite a challenge for me to make a good closing statement to this conversation so I would really appreciate if you'd like to share your thoughts on what this conversation has meant to you and what you've learned.

    I'll wait a couple of weeks before writing the closing statement, you are welcome to Email me (as always) if you wish to help with it!
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    Jul 26 2011: In my opinion, these kinds of debates are futile.
    We know what an Atheist is, and we know what a Theist is.
    And we also know that they're never going to agree on certain issues.
    Lets just live in harmony, y'all..
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      Jul 26 2011: Actuallt Adam, I've learned a lot from this conversation!
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        Jul 26 2011: Oh good, I take it back!
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          Jul 27 2011: You too Adam can learn/teach a lot here if you wish to participate!
          I know that it's a big conversation and you might think that every argument has been said, but that's no reason not to share your thoughts on the topic!
          I'd love to have you here the last three days!
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        Jul 27 2011: Yeah, I wish I had been involved from the beginning. But there's wwaaayyyy too much to read now :P
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          Jul 28 2011: When I first joined conversations I also felt the need to read everything there was on a conversation but I found that there's really no need to do that!
          Just share your thoughts and there is sure to be some debate!
    • Jul 27 2011: Yup, they are futile for the most part. But I get to learn how to better articulate what I know. I have also learned a few more things. Like that many dinosaurs had a different kind of lung than birds. Then cosmology, I never got interested on that before, now I know much more than I would otherwise, and it is darn interesting. :)
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        Jul 28 2011: If anyone wants to give me a short summary...... :P
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    Jul 26 2011: Does everyone here accept that the most intelligent human ape has reached the end of the evolutionary process and there will be no further progress in intelligence ?
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      Jul 26 2011: Ehm, no.... Where are you going at?
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        Jul 26 2011: Hi Jimmy..........I am not going at anything. Just wanted to see and you to think.
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          Jul 26 2011: I do think... I think that you're trying to prove a point but that I'm completely missing it...
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          Jul 26 2011: I'm missing it too Helen. It looks like you're saying that we have reached our full potential as humans? I tend to think/feel that the next stage of our evolution is just beginning:>)
          How does your statement fit into proving/disproving atheism? Sorry...I'm confused:>)
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        Jul 26 2011: Jimmy, Colleen, Adam.............Hey you guys, you know that there is no PROOF for or against God/Atheism....How could you think that I would provide some kind of argument for/against these beliefs. I only got to thinking and realized that there may be another evolutionary change of such a degree that it would bring about another paradigm and what the implications of that would be. Is evolution forever ongoing ? I have never seen the possibility addressed. It seems that academia theorizes about everything except that and no I do not think that we could not advance in that category. Maybe I should have started another thread ?
        • Jul 27 2011: Yup, evolution is forever going. No way to stop it. My spider-sense indicates that you might have the wrong idea about evolution though. Officially, evolution is defined (I think poorly, but that's what happens with definitions, they always miss a lot) as changes in allele frequencies in populations. (Alleles are versions of genes, like for eye color, there would be green, blue and brown eye alleles.) Changes in alleles in population happen by mere accident even if the species overall changes little.

          Now, of course, under selection pressures changes in allele frequencies cause changes in the species, and so on ... anyway, the point is, that there continues to be evolution does not mean we as humans will become smarter, but that we just continue to change (in terms of allele frequencies, maybe in some physical appearance too). Then, technology is also evolution, only epigenetic evolution, that is evolution where the information changes are outside of our genetics. In that sense we have become way much "smarter." Our collective knowledge is much more. That does not mean we are smarter as individuals, but that our species has lots at its disposal ...

          Anyway, now I am just rambling, but hopefully you get the point: natural evolution is not always "progress."
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      Jul 26 2011: Look at technology as part of our evolutionary process, that's what many of us do ;D
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      Jul 27 2011: Hi Helen and everybody:
      "Does everyone here accept that the most intelligent human ape has reached the end of the evolutionary process and there will be no further progress in intelligence ?" Do you talk only about progressing in intelligence ? Isn't it somehow related with our body/ physical progression ? because in this sense I think yes :"there will be no further progress in intelligence".
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        Jul 27 2011: Edward............Yes I was speaking of greater intellect and how that might be possible. In a way it is related to body because after all the more developed the brain, the more we can learn.
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          Jul 27 2011: Yes .... and it's hard to believe now(at least for me) that after I don't know how much time we will be something else bodily and thus intellectually.
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    Jul 19 2011: (Re-edited comment after deletion by admin. Just so that my views are still up on here for anyone else to read)

    I have been a science and engineering student through graduate school and even now I try to keep abreast of the latest discoveries and theories. At the same time, I have studied the mythologies of Greeks, Romans, Celts, Vikings, Native Americans, Egyptians and Indians. I have consistently found recurring and identical storylines. The names are different but the specific situations, the underlying intent and concepts are utterly identical. What does that indicate? Vastly separated peoples having identical themes? This indicates that there is a well-defined and well-understood language of myth that is so fundamental to the human psyche across the world. Adolf Bastian pioneered the concept of elementary ideas "Elementargedanke" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Bastian where he shows the 'psychic unity of mankind', which influenced Jung's theory of the 'collective unconscious'.

    It is not mumbo-jumbo if you know how to read it. If Newton were to time-travel to present-day, he would immediately declare relativity theory as mumbo-jumbo unless someone explained everything.

    I can refer you to Joseph Campbell and his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" or "The Power of Myth", but I'm sure you will consider it, because I know you are not so dogmatic about "the scientific method" and close-minded.

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    Jul 19 2011: Dear TED Conversations admin,

    I don't think you have judged me correctly. I did not make a direct personal attack on those two gentlemen, but was only trying to point out the archetype of such individuals. Moreover, if you carefully look at the comment of Mr. Gabo Moreno:

    " Abhiram,

    I have not bothered answering to you because yours is a set of rhetorical figures somewhat based on some loose understanding of science, logic, and what-not. You will always manage to invest it of some sound of deep wisdom, and of philosophical rigour that is just not there. I can agree with many of those loose things you say, but that's exactly the trick and the issue. There is no reason for the layers of mysticism. "Science will never know," "there is an unexplainable ground." "myths are figurative representations of some fact," leaving it so open to interpretation that it could mean from "myths refer to real gods" to "myths refer to real things that people have mistook for gods." Nothing, again, but rhetoric trying to pass for wisdom. Hyperboles, probably in the hopes to sustain a mystical belief in some unfathomable god. A beautifully adorned vase with no bottom. Mumbo-jumbo indeed."

    He unreasonably attacks my views in scathing terms. His attitude is of supreme condescension that his views are somehow superior to my views. He does not try to approach my views from a path of curiosity, or discussion, but from "high above". And if you look at his further replies, he has a habit of inserting in quotation marks words that I have never said, but it appears as if I said them.

    On the other hand, Mr. Jim Lloyd is respectful even in disagreeing and as you can see my replies to him have also been respectful.

    I will want to post this email (edited) on the website to defend myself. I hope you understand and will not delete it.

    • Jul 19 2011: Abhiram,

      You could have kept your answer to the TED admin a bit cleaner, but you had to "guess" both my "intentions" and "superiority attitude," just as you "guessed" my "science-ist dogmatic fundamentalist linear thinking." None of which you said, and none of which is "condescending," I am sure. I must have imagined it. Of course, that you mentioned that as an answer to me does not mean it refers to me, despite it started with "You typify the category of people I call science-ists ..." I should go back to school and re-study semantics, because there is something I am just not getting. Silly me. Now, I am sure, your reference to my attitude and "false" quotations (like those I made here), do not refer to me either. Right? Please forgive me, I shall learn this very slowly, because it is not clicking. Must be that linear science-ist analytical thinking that lacks the synthesis of mysticism.

      At least in the comment that was deleted I admitted my mistake at unnecessarily guessing your level of knowledge. I also admit that I did not look (and will not look) at your comments with any respect, and that's because they deserve none. I rather call mumbo-jumbo by its proper name (nothing unreasonable about it) than sweeten it up so much that you would miss the point (yet, you still missed a few things, ahem, "grossly and obscenely").

      As I said, you can disguise your comments as if reasonable and wise. But I can see through them. Many people might be impressionable by mumbo-jumbo. I just can't be. Such is life. I should have stayed away like my first instinct indicated. Lesson learned.
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    Jul 16 2011: I suppose all that would say is that to prove an atheist exists I merely need to start a post claiming there is a God as a fact and watching the complaints roar in. Disproving atheism is a little more difficult as an ideology for it most certainly exists.
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    Jul 14 2011: Here's a new line of thought with inspiration from Eckhart, the 13th century German "heretic".

    God is not God without the universe. The universe "created" God as much as God "created" the universe. Just as a father becomes so only when he has a son. The son is his father's father, ie, creator. God does not have a random free will. His will is the laws of physics that govern the universe. God's Godhood does not extend beyond the universe. Thus he cannot be merciful or give grace, because that is a violation of his own laws. If then the laws of physics are sufficient, why is there a God concept?

    The God concept is an unchanging absolute platform on which the laws of physics that WE discovered, operate. The one flaw of the laws that WE formulated is that it's based on the logical tracing of effect to its cause. Now it's clear fact that tracing of effect to cause is an "absurdum ad infinitum" process. Every cause has its own cause, etc. As a result, what we call understanding the universe is just more naming with names. No doubt our experiments will find "evidence" because we name that evidence for what we have formulated. Moreover, the laws of physics are local - they are different within black holes than within nuclei. Physicists are working on the Grand Unification Theory and the TOE... well, what are these but attempts to find an unchanging, absolute platform on which the local laws operate?

    Except, this logical back-stepping will not lead to a final theory, because of its very nature. This is where the ultimate use of the God concept comes in. Meanwhile, the talk about the "God of the Gaps" is so naive. The gaps only keep increasing with more and more theories.
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        Jul 15 2011: Jim, is it not a reasonable thought that logic is a never-ending process? Our scientific approach is logical. Although it is good for explaining intermediate phenomena, it cannot arrive at a "final" or "ultimate" explanation. With each generation, newer unexplained phenomena will be discovered. The same thing that happened at the beginning of the 20th century will happen again - physicists in the 1900's thought that Newtonian mechanics, Maxwellian electromagnetic theory and thermodynamics explained everything between the three of them. I'm just saying let's not underestimate the content of the universe. We don't even know the volume of the unknown, we can't be presumptuous about closing in the gaps so soon.

        "Everything else just sounded like mystical mumbo jumbo"

        Well, is it because the language is not linear-logical, but "Mobius strip-like"? I tried the best I could to express what I felt. Outside of our mental systems, there is nothing logical about the universe. So, I feel that our science should just have that as a wallpost, and then continue scientific study. All I want is an acceptance by scientists that they are working within a finitely-explainable field, and that there is an unexplainable ground that will remain forever.

        " redefine God in a way ... If so, do you acknowledge that the God of Abraham is myth?"

        I will put it this way: I do not believe in a patriarchal, linear, historical, morality-enforcing, worship-demanding God. Are you satisfied? :)

        Well, myth as in "myth", a figurative representation of some fact. Which will always involve some fictionalizing.
        • Jul 15 2011: Abhiram,

          I have not bothered answering to you because yours is a set of rhetorical figures somewhat based on some loose understanding of science, logic, and what-not. You will always manage to invest it of some sound of deep wisdom, and of philosophical rigour that is just not there. I can agree with many of those loose things you say, but that's exactly the trick and the issue. There is no reason for the layers of mysticism. "Science will never know," "there is an unexplainable ground." "myths are figurative representations of some fact," leaving it so open to interpretation that it could mean from "myths refer to real gods" to "myths refer to real things that people have mistook for gods." Nothing, again, but rhetoric trying to pass for wisdom. Hyperboles, probably in the hopes to sustain a mystical belief in some unfathomable god. A beautifully adorned vase with no bottom. Mumbo-jumbo indeed.
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        Jul 16 2011: Gabo,
        "because yours is a set of rhetorical figures somewhat based on some loose understanding of science, logic, and what-not" - You don't have enough information about me to make judgment about my understanding of science, logic and what-not only from the way I have chosen to express my views in this context. Your statements only show how grossly and obscenely you have missed my point. You typify the category of people I call "science-ists" who are just as equally dogmatic in upholding science as fundamentalist Christians and Muslims are in upholding their religions. You are not open to the possibility of parallel or circumferential explanations of the universe. It appears you are rabidly ignorant of the different ways of explaining the universe: the "essential" and the "descriptive". To give a "description" requires precisely defining terms and then using them - analysis - dissection - like science does. To give an "essence" requires taking the whole into consideration - synthesis - unification - finding commonality - like mysticism does. Although I don't claim "wisdom", I will say this much: wisdom is mystical in nature, whereas knowledge is scientific in nature. Wisdom is a synthesis of several SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCES whereas science is an analytical list of several OBJECTIVE OBSERVATIONS.
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        Jul 16 2011: Jim:

        I'm disappointed that you have misunderstood me even after we've had similar discussions before.

        "whereas for some specific problem domains I think we have." -- Yes, that's because the problems have been defined to be specific, not open-ended. Chemistry does not ask beyond covalent bonds, Gibbs free energy or the quantum orbitals. So as far as chemistry is concerned it has arrived at ITS final solution. However, for areas like cosmology, quantum theory, topology, set theory, group theory, etc there are starting point assumptions, "axioms" and frontier point conclusions that are explanations unto themselves.

        Science "describes" the workings of things by going from observed effect to observed cause. I see two limitations there: 1) you are forced to stop somewhere in the chain of effect-to-cause and call the last observed cause the explanation. Is there a limit on observation? No, because you can continue to build finer and finer tools for observation. 2) How much of the universe is observable? We don't know. Example: dark matter & energy which is 70% of the universe, which we OBSERVE. As we build finer tools, we will be exposed to more universe, I suspect.

        See Planck units: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_units which are jokingly called "God's units". Quote from the article: "The strength of gravity is simply what it is and the strength of the electromagnetic force simply is what it is." So the buck stops there. Do you see that?

        That "simply is what it is" I call God.

        You know very well from other discussions with me that I don't believe in organized religion. So although I might be labeled an atheist, I refrain from calling myself that, because that will again become a dogma in itself, a religion in itself. It will make me mediocre.
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        Jul 16 2011: The Crusader:

        Thanks for your link. I will however say that I have probably read Asimov's sci-fi novels more religiously than you can ever imagine.

        I intensely admire Carl Sagan. Watch this youtube video "God and gods". Listen very carefully to Carl Sagan:

      • Jul 18 2011: I can't believe that my comment got deleted. I did nothing wrong. I called a pseudo-intelectual mumbo-jumber by his proper name. But no "ugly" words. I truly don't see why this deletion. But if my comment was considered insulting what about Abhiram's?

        Anyway my comment was beautiful and I will never understand what TED's rules might be. But I hereby protest to an unjustified comment deletion.
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        Jul 18 2011: Jim:
        Alright, I agree to not use the word "God" because my definition is very different from the definition that you are against. What I was trying to do is to give an analogy of an "ultimate unexplainable" in science, and say that "God" was conceived to be such an "ultimate unexplainable".

        I will make peace with you by saying this:
        1) I am not trying to discredit science, but only trying to look at its furthest logical conclusion.
        2) Logical method is infinite, and so scientific research is infinite. I am trying to reach a psychically satisfying endpoint for my own life.
        3) The truth discovered by science is relative, and will change with more research. It is not what I will experience from the depths of my being, but from observations of the external world.
        4) Mysticism is not objective truth, so in that sense it is "unscientific". But it is subjective experience, which is as real as I am. See TED talk:


        5) Science is a process of making discrete, while mysticism is a process of making continuous.
        6) Science needs clear definitions, but mysticism does not. Science is "left hemisphere" whereas mysticism is "right hemisphere" . See Dr. Taylor's experience in the above talk.

        7) I've been saying this again and again, but nobody seems to take it seriously: Science is ANALYSIS, mysticism is SYNTHESIS. Analysis aims to study details, synthesis aims to blur and unify details.

        8) I don't see a conflict between science and mysticism, but only as parallel paths.
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        Jul 19 2011: On synthesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis

        Quote from article: "In philosophy and science, a higher a priori process than analysis." Synthesis is what exists as a whole, before analysis breaks it down into convenient parts for specific detailed study. In Physics we have seen synthesis as an attempt to get back to the Whole from the Parts. We want a Grand Unified Theory. When two things, ideas or theories are combined there is a blurring of previous boundaries.

        In subjective "happy, blissful, trance" experiences, blurring of things happens. When blurring happens, you see things merging into one another, and things emerging from one another.

        Do you know what Meister Eckhart says about Mary: " Blessed art thou, Mary, daughter of thy son."

        According to the church that is blasphemy. But there is no religion there, just the realization of the ultimate unity of all things. When Jill Taylor said she couldn't tell the boundaries between her body and the wall, she is having such an experience of unity.

        "The reason I mistrust mysticism is that it decoupled from any testable reality... subject their claims to any objective tests."

        Jim, what do you think is the outward result of an experience? Bliss? "Lovely"? That's all. The mystic is not out to dupe people into giving him money or power. If someone claiming to be a mystic does such things, then he has not had such an experience, he is a liar. A mystic doesn't need anything in exchange for his experience, he's just happy he's had one. Being so, I don't see a point in objective tests to see if the mystic is being honest. Instead I would see his social behavior. A true mystic is free from the pairs of opposite mental emotions - love&hate, fear&aggression, happiness&sadness, etc.

        On the other hand, I would love to see objective tests on mystics to learn more about the brain.
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        Jul 19 2011: "Every mystic is free to make all sorts of wild claims from their personal experiences "

        Jim, if you "study" some of the mystical writings carefully, you will see no wild claims. Or, I don't know what sort of mystics you are talking about. Certainly the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu mystics do not make wild statements. They talk about their right-brain experiences in terms of left-brain language using everyday words as symbols. Symbols are very powerful and pervasive, even in daily life. Words like "maverick" and "casanova" are exact symbols - they were originally personal names.

        "I think it is true that poetic metaphors sometimes are the best way to convey right-brained experience using left-brained communication, but as I said before, the mystic makes a mistake when the metaphor is nailed down and treated as a fact." -- Again, all the books that I've read actually define the meaning of words used by the mystics so accurately that there is no mistaking.

        Please, look up JOSEPH CAMPBELL, and ANANDA K. COOMARASWAMY. The first author is a lighter read than the second. Campbell makes a wonderful study of experience systems around the world. The second author AKC, makes a very academic-scholarly comparative study of Christian, Muslim Sufi, Buddhist and Hindu Vedic texts, as well as a deep study of the philosophy of art which is connected to right-brain experiences. If you have Netflix, there are some good documentaries where Joseph Campbell gives lectures at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

        Perhaps, we need to add "mysticism" to the list of words that are semantics-confused: "God", "belief", "consciousness".
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    Jul 11 2011: Could we please start new threads instead of commenting on the (really long) existing ones?

    Edit: just doing an edit so that this comment will end up on top!
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      Jul 11 2011: OOPS...sorry Jimmy.
      I commented in the middle of the long thread...
      This will put your comment on top again:>)
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        Jul 12 2011: Thanks Colleen, have you noticed how this conversation has stagnated because of the long threads? Or maybe there's simply nothing more to say on the topic....
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          Jul 12 2011: Jimmy,
          It definitely has slowed down a bit. Is it because of the long threads? Because all is said and done? Perhaps people are simply taking a break?

          I think it's very hard to prove or disprove Atheism. We can certainly prove that it's a belief/concept that is embraced by many people who have rational arguments. I agree with some of the comments that suggest that to prove Atheism, we need to disprove Theism, which is also a difficult belief/concept to prove or disprove. Does this challenge cause the discussion to go round and round with the same old arguments? I'd be interested in seeing some new information:>)
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        Jul 12 2011: Yeah, there's probably not going to bee much new info on this...
        I'm going to shorten the closing time on this conversation so that we can do something more productive. However if it does pick up again I'll lengthen it.
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          Jul 12 2011: How about letting it run it's course? Remember you closed one discussion, then opened it up again? Nothing wrong with that, but why not let this one continue? We can always go to other sites and come back:>)
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        Jul 12 2011: Alright ^^
        Which did I close by the way?
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          Jul 12 2011: "What is Love"....yes? Looks like your first "closing statement" has been deleted:>)

          p.s. Good thing I had my brain re-adjusted, otherwise I would never have remembered that:>) LOL!
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        Jul 12 2011: Haha!

        "what is love" wasn't meant to close but at the time I was new at creating conversations and simply forgot to make it open-ended, when I checked back later it was closed and I wanted it to continue so I made "what is love (part 2)", Admin closed it and reopened "part 1" instead...
        I try not to mix with closing times or to edit explanations too much or in a misleading way.
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    Jul 8 2011: So, weekend! I'll probably be Away From Keyboard (trying my best not to use "txt spch") if you're wondering why I'm not responding...

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    Jul 8 2011: @ Jim Lloyd

    Some where in this incredibly long chain, Jim Lloyd posted a link to an MSN article reporting that 1 in 8 U.S. High Schools still includes in school curriculum what they described as "positive" presentations of intelligent design and creationsim despite the 2005 Court ruling in Dover (Pennsylvania) that its unconstitutional, that it violates the separation of church and state.

    Thanks for that Jim (I can no longer find it and ask you to restore it if it's gone)It's not really surprising. I would doubt my island school board would know about the Dover 2005 Court Decision. But the constitution does still work or rather we as citizens can make it work. Invest some time in your local school system..become a mentor or school volunteer, be willing to run for school board youself.

    That's how we keep creationism and intelligent design out of our schools. On the front lines. Start and support science web sites for little ones..help write curriculum for these web sites.I caused a huge stir at my elementary school. In the context of a celestial navigation curriculum I wrote for little one's ( 2nd and 3rd graders) a girl asked where the moon came from. I gave her the current thinking..that it is actually a part of earth that broke off in a massive collision , explained that the moon was actually very important to the earth keeping us on a smooth rotation on our axis without which the earth wouldn't support life. It's true. It's current science. The kids loved it of course but it really spooked the teacher because she herself wasn't very current in science.She felt very insecure and uneasy about my giving the children factutal scientific information that she herself had no command of.

    Those of us who want our children to be properly educated have to be actively involved in that..whether or not our own children are in public schools.That's where we can make a real difference..thats how to keep the teaching of religion and bunk science out..
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    Jul 7 2011: someone should provide a summary of any progress made in this conversation
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        Jul 7 2011: ah. with stuff such as this, words sometimes dont cut it.
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        Jul 7 2011: it would prob help, it does for me with heavy handed topic debates.
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      Jul 7 2011: Hi Tim, It's a pity that you didn't check in some hours ago, then this was a place fostering harmony and understanding, working through our differences not picking on them...
      That was the summary until recently.
      Further more, evidence (as expected) has been claimed by many, in many ways... What to think about that is entirely up to you...

      Thanks for asking, maybe someone else can give a more concrete summary for you...
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        Jul 7 2011: ah, sounds like group therapy. lol fun! from reading everything here, either it be atheism or god or somewhere in the between, whatever it is, it seems to defy reason. if dealing with a group (i.e not yourelf). its really easy to reason something with yourslef.
      • Jul 7 2011: I'd be astonished if someone could adequately summarize this. So many different ideas have flown every which way. Productive conversation though, thanks for starting it Jimmy!
    • Jul 7 2011: Tim B,

      We have just come down highway 61..... 3654.32 km.. and still going strong.