Feed on Posts or Comments 20 September 2014

Science Johnson on 12 Sep 2008 02:17 am

We need to rename “the theory of evolution”

How many times each day do scientists and other rational people hear this expression:

“Evolution is just a theory!”

This expression is used constantly by creationists to diminish and dismiss evolution. When they say that evolution is “just” a theory, creationists are using the word “theory” in the colloquial sense. They are stating that evolution is just a random guess, or a random opinion, about how things might work. They have no idea what the word “theory” means to a scientist.

Where do Creationists get their “just a theory” expression? They say this because scientists routinely use the name: “the theory of evolution”. Scientists of course are using the word “theory” in the scientific sense. The “theory of evolution” is scientifically supported by massive amounts of evidence, it is testable, and it can be used to make predictions.

So the problem here is a language problem. The word “theory” has two different meanings to two different groups of people. To one group (scientists), the word “theory” has great importance and heft (definition 1 in the dictionary). To the other group (the general public), the word “theory” implies a trivial flimsiness (definition 2). Unfortunately, the general public makes up 95% of the population, so their definition of the word “theory” wins.

Given this situation, scientists are making a huge blunder when they call it “the theory of evolution”.

What is the solution to this problem? It’s simple. We need to rename “the theory of evolution”. We need to stop using the word “theory” because, for 95% of the population, the word “theory” has the wrong meaning.

What is a better name? We should call it “Evolution Science”. Everywhere that we would be inclined to use the name “the theory of evolution”, we should use the name “Evolution Science” instead. Example:

Old way: “Hello class, I’m Mr. Smith and I am here to teach you the theory of evolution.”

New way: “Hello class, I’m Mr. Smith and I am here to teach you Evolution Science.”

In addition, every time a creationist tries to call it “the theory of evolution”, we shut them down and correct them by saying, “it’s called Evolution Science”. We do not allow creationists to call it “the theory of evolution”, because creationists have no idea what the word “theory” means in science.

Some people are already doing this. But right now, the name “theory of evolution” is by far the more common. If you go into Google and type both “theory of evolution” and “evolution science” (in quotes) as search terms, you can see that the former is four times more common than the latter.

We need to present a unified front. We need to use “Evolution Science” exclusively, across the board, and expunge “the theory of evolution” from the vernacular.

Don’t think a simple naming change will make a difference? The name has huge importance. Once they started calling Alaska’s bridge “the bridge to nowhere”, that name stuck and the bridge died.

Right now, our use of the name “the theory of evolution” is harmful. So we change the name. We call it “Evolution Science” from now on.

40 Responses to “We need to rename “the theory of evolution””

  1. on 12 Sep 2008 at 6:51 am 1.lil tom said …

    couldn’t agree more.
    there is a lot of power in a name. and as we all know, creationists are grasping for ANY means of spreading misinformation at this point. If it means preying on the scientifically illiterate (which, it’s true, is the vast majority of the world) then so be it. of course it isn’t the first time a religion intentionally tried to keep its minions in the dark for its own benefit…
    but more than just a change of name, evolution science needs to actually be taught! many teachers are still afraid to delve into the subject out of fear from parents and creationist groups. the average american has a third grade understanding of the sciences. combine that with the surge of fundamental christian piety in the last 40-50 years and its very clear why there’s even a debate over such nonsense in the first place. even those in positions of power don’t necessarily know the difference between science and pseudoscience (which is pretty sad!) so its that much easier for nutjobs like Sarah Palin to pass as even semi-intelligent.

    I don’t have much sway in the world of science education, but if anyone reading this has connections, or wants to start a petition, let’s do it!

    in case there are any creationists out there with an honest interest in answers to your stock questions, this may be a good start:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3SAGDZXLxI

    otherwise read a few of the thousands of science journals easily found online that explain such things as transitional forms, the evolution of the eye, etc that creationists seem to have such a difficult time understanding.

  2. on 12 Sep 2008 at 10:02 am 2.Armchair General said …

    It’s a THEORY because it hasn’t been PROVEN, my disillusioned friend. It means EXACTLY what is says. There’s no confusion here, except in your own mind.

    And now, just because you’re too incredibly narrow-minded to accept that FACT, you want to change the DEFINITION. Ever hear of “cognitive dissonance?”

    It comes down to you not admitting that you need FAITH to accept the THEORY of evolution. Have you ever SEEN evolution occurring? No. You’re just taking other people’s word for it. Other people’s opinions, based on inconclusive evidence.

    Wow, this sounds EXACTLY like what you accuse Christians of: Believing, on faith, what they read in a book (or online).

    Hypocrite.

  3. on 12 Sep 2008 at 11:41 am 3.Jinno said …

    Armchair General, it takes no faith to make a decision based on evidence. If I have perceived a large pink elephant surfing in the Bahamas with my eyes, then it is logical that I might have some reason to believe that such entities exist. But my experience through education and zoo trips has lead me to believe otherwise, so I’m skeptical. How do I know the surfing elephant was not just some guy in a suit, or some sort of animatronic? There are other explanations that are just as logical, so I cannot make the decision that Surfing Pink Elephants exist, merely that I observed something like that.

    However with regards to the theory of evolution, there is overwhelming evidence that supports it. We’ve got fossil records, test experiments, natural variation of genetic material in observed reproduction, observation of that genetic material, and more. With regards to the differentiation of species on this planet, the theory of evolution is the most coherent and comprehensive statement. We observe that changes occur, so logically it connects that many changes over time would produce larger changes. That’s logic, and it fulfills the needs of the question “How did we come to be?”.

    Whereas religion has several holes. A single source is seen as evidence for your personal god, and as evidence against all other possible gods. No where in evolutionary theory is the assertion made that absolutely no interference by a deity is affecting the outcome of evolution. But most religions make the assertion that the world as it is was simply created as it is. This is a much harder proposition to prove, it requires untold amounts of evidence that simply isn’t there. It is not logical to first assume a creator, you must prove logically that something had to be created and that no other conclusion fulfills the requirements of the question thoroughly. In terms of species diversity, Evolution fulfills it more thoroughly. In terms of planetary origin, the Big Bang Theory more throughly fulfills the question. There are evidence based alternatives that can more thoroughly answer these questions, and these alternatives are science based, requiring no faith in their stipulations.

    It is reasonable to call evolutionary theory “Evolution Science”, because it is currently the best means to describe our physical origins. It is the science of how life changes.

  4. on 12 Sep 2008 at 11:50 am 4.OC said …

    Armchair General,

    I wonder if you have allocated the time to examine the prodigious quantities of evidence that support Evolution Science?

    I also wonder, out of curiosity, what your position might be on the age of planet Earth, and why.

  5. on 12 Sep 2008 at 12:34 pm 5.Foolish believer said …

    Understanding how life changes is one thing. Using evolution science to refute and disregard the existence of God is another. I would sit and chat with people who honestly do the first one but am always hesitant to get into discussion with people who do the latter, as it will always lead to crazy circular discussion and ridiculous analogies. Not that I am closed-minded, as I believe science is cool. It is about being curious, creative and concerned about life. The gathering of evidence is what drives scientist, but we can only prove things within our realm of knowledge and perception. Hence, faith is itself a form of evidence – the evidence of things not seen. You cannot make any scientific decisions without faith in something or someone – in science you need faith in apparatus, instruments, integrity scientist, experimental methods and scientific journals in order to proceed. Otherwise, you will go crazy, as did unfortunately so many of our great minds from the time of the great philosophers. Let your scientific journey begin humbly and purposefully! God supercedes and transcends the Universe. He is the Universe and beyond. In him we live, breathe and have our being.

  6. on 12 Sep 2008 at 1:07 pm 6.bennig said …

    Foolish believer: Faith is not evidence. You cannot say something exists, just because you believe it exists. If you think that is evidence enough for you, fine, but don’t pretend to respect science when you believe things like that.

  7. on 12 Sep 2008 at 1:18 pm 7.Alenônimo said …

    Evolution isn’t a theory ages ago. Now it’s called officially “Biological Evolution”.

    At least, here in Brazil.

  8. on 12 Sep 2008 at 1:33 pm 8.Foolish believer said …

    benning: ok, sorry for my ignorance about faith. please educate me. when can i say something exists? can I say something exists without believing it exists? can I only say something exists when a science book says it exists? or can I say something exists when i perceive (touch,hear,see,smell,taste) it exists? this might be one of those “crazy circular discussions” here…

  9. on 12 Sep 2008 at 2:13 pm 9.bennig said …

    Foolish believer: You can say whatever you want, but “faith” is not evidence. Faith is simply believing in something. If belief were enough to prove something exists then you have quite a problem on your hands. Your God claims to be the one true God, but since there are plenty of people who have faith in the Hindu Gods, they must also exist, since faith is evidence of existence. So is your God a liar? are there more Gods? …or are you willing to concede that “Faith” is not evidence.

  10. on 12 Sep 2008 at 4:20 pm 10.Slatts said …

    “The theory of evolution” is supported by the Laws of Genetics.

  11. on 12 Sep 2008 at 5:03 pm 11.lil tom said …

    Foolish Believer said:

    “but we can only prove things within our realm of knowledge and perception. Hence, faith is itself a form of evidence”

    “in science you need faith in apparatus, instruments, integrity scientist, experimental methods and scientific journals in order to proceed.”

    “can I say something exists without believing it exists?”

    well, at least you admit you are foolish up front unlike armchair here..

    first, if faith were evidence, science would not work. indeed this kind of faith based evidence is exactly what led Aristotle to conclude that objects of different weights fall at different speeds merely by thinking about it and accepting his intuition on faith. Nearly two millenia passed before Galileo actually questioned this and conducted an actual experiment. After much testing, (you can try it yourself!) it became clear that it could conclusively be said that objects of different weight and size fall at the same speed. Point being that science is the one tool we have to supercede faith and overcome irrational thinking. There is much of the way our universe works that is simply not intuitive. look at the sun. surely it looks like it is moving around the earth, which is why people so violently rejected the contrary fact. It is literally ONLY through shedding “beliefs” and accepting science that we now understand that the sun is not a god moving around us and that the weather is not a god showing his anger or pleasure at our every action. yes, it is hard to let go of the idea that we are not the center of it all, but it is exceedingly clear that this is the case. Evolution is just another fact that’s difficult for some to swallow because it happens to contradict a commonly held belief system.
    While I can’t relate to those creationists who wave posters saying loudly “my grandpa wasn’t no monkey!”, I can empathize with them a bit. Imagine being told your ENTIRE life that you are the son of GOD the creator of the universe. All god’s gifts will be YOURS. Then in middle school science class (I think that’s when it’s usually taught) your teacher explains, “well no, not exactly…”. I admit it would be a bitter pill to swallow. but I really don’t see it as belittling or insulting to think that complexity can arise from something simpler. Science expands our view of the cosmos in a way religion never possibly could and that is a beautiful thing..

  12. on 12 Sep 2008 at 5:25 pm 12.OC said …

    Armchair General,

    I wonder if you have allocated the time to examine the prodigious quantities of evidence that support Evolution Science?

    I also wonder, out of curiosity, what your position might be on the age of planet Earth, and why.

  13. on 13 Sep 2008 at 5:44 am 13.Foolish believer said …

    Re: bennig and lil tom:

    “or are you willing to concede that “Faith” is not evidence.”

    Faith is evidence of things we cannot see. That’s just a definition. I however agree that I was wrong to use faith in the context I used it above with respect to scientific apparatus etc.

    “If belief were enough to prove something exists then you have quite a problem on your hands. Your God claims to be the one true God, but since there are plenty of people who have faith in the Hindu Gods, they must also exist, since faith is evidence of existence. So is your God a liar? are there more Gods?”

    I assume (correct me if I am wrong) that by “prove something exists” you mean “prove God exists”. So, I don’t think belief is enough, hence I hopefully don’t have quite a problem on my hands (phew). The cool thing is, the Bible also says that “faith without works is dead (James 2:14-20)”.
    God’s existence for me is proven by what I see happening in the Universe and the change I have had in my mind by fully accepting His existence and love. You call it scientific discovery, I call it God being revealed. Two different perspectives.
    Please don’t try to make this into a battle of Hindu vs Christianity, as I am really not about those sort of battles. I believe that everyone has their cultural backgrounds and will perceive and come to know God in many ways. The one true God (not just my God) is the one we cannot disprove and everything that is not a lie (don’t worry, I anticipate your next response, after all, that’s what the blog is about :-)). The differentiating factor is if our search is based on love or are we trying to selfishly and egoistically prove a point. I must admit, sometimes I am guilty of the latter.

    “science expands our view of the cosmos in a way religion never possibly could.”

    If by religion you mean “the man-made institutions that subject people to a whole set of moral laws and keeps them in mental (and in some cases physical) bondage”, I agree.

    If by religion you mean “living life with an acceptance and faith that there is a God that is the maker of the Universe” I disagree. I do think that the two are complimentary and not competing. The more we try to make them competing things, the more harmful it is for humanity and existence. This might stir things up, but I believe God created all things we prove scientifically. He created light and separated it from darkness in order to shape and mould the Universe. Science expands my view of the cosmos and it also enhances my appreciation and humility before God – the beginning and the end.

    My only reason for writing here is to state that using science as a tool to disprove and invalidate the power of God is destructive (i.e. billions of resources spent on certain research could be invested in curing amputees and hunger). Using science to learn about our origins and Universe, such that we can help to sustain it and help our fellow man is where I am at. God bless.

  14. on 13 Sep 2008 at 12:29 pm 14.VeridicusX said …

    @Foolish believer #13

    > Faith is evidence of things we cannot see. That’s just a definition.

    “Faith is evidence of things we cannot see”, is from Hebrews 11:1 and is a false statement.
    Faith is not evidence. Faith is believing despite the evidence.

    “Faith is evidence of things we cannot see”; here faith is substituting for real evidence and by your own interpretation, any belief that is acted on is evidence of “things we cannot see”.

    I was taught this about the “Truth Train” or the “Faith Train”:
    Fact –> Faith –> Feeling
    The was presented as a train with Fact being the engine.
    In reality and based on the (confusing) definition of faith in Hebrews this is the real Faith Train:
    Fantasy –> Faith –> Feeling
    This *must* be the case because we have no experience of the things asserted in the Bible and we have *no evidence* that reality is like that so we must create mental constructs of them.

    > God’s existence for me is proven by what I see happening in the Universe and the change I have had in my mind by fully accepting His existence and love. You call it scientific discovery, I call it God being revealed. Two different perspectives.

    If we believe mental constructs we will experience the emotions that go with them. For instance, if you are a parent and someone tells you your child has been hit by a car *and you believe it* you will experience the fear and the panic that goes with the belief. If you are told that you have won the lottery *and you believe it* you will experience the joy and perform the behaviours that go with that belief, (maybe a huge shopping spree). In neither case do the beliefs have to be true and based on reality to elicit the experiences.

    Something is said to be true when it is “consistent” and “coherent”. Consistent means consistent with facts and evidence, coherent means consistent with itself. I call this “The Principle of Coherence” – truth is self-consistent or coherent. When a statement and what is actual are consistent, we have coherence.

    > “living life with an acceptance and faith that there is a God that is the maker of the Universe”

    Based on the principle that *all* truth is self-consistent, what I am calling the Principle of Coherence, we can conclude that your statement concerning God is false.

    Concerning the Bible from which you quote; the Bible contradicts itself, the facts, the evidence, morality and reason. You can perform this simple test yourself: go outside and note the amount of feet an insect has. The Bible claims it is four (4) whereas reality shows that it is six (6) [Leviticus 11:20-23]. In fact, that an insect is a six-legged animal is part of its definition.
    You probably already know about the slavery, the misogyny, the sex slavery, the human and animal sacrifice, the scientific illiteracy, the racism, the genocide, the threats and brutality of the Bible and its promotion of supernaturalism.

    Based on the Principle of Coherence we can, without reservation, state that the Bible taken as a whole is false.
    Based on the Principle of Coherence we can, without reservation, state that supernatural gods of all kinds are non-existent.

    A creator god is supposed to have created/originated everything, the Universe or the Omniverse. This means that a creator god must possess the property of transcendence. Transcendence means that an entity exists outside of the Universe/Omniverse, outside of time and space. This is just another way of saying that such an entity *does not exist* anywhere or at any time.

    If God is supposed to have created reality then God is unreal! God can’t have created itself if it didn’t exist.

    Supernatural “gods” are ruled out by the Principle of Coherence as well. If nature as a whole or parts of reality are ruled by personal gods then there is no way to know anything and this sentence is meaningless.
    Personal gods are not bound by the laws of nature, rather they control the parts of reality they are in charge of and as such are free to do what they will.
    If this is the case it means that reality itself is incoherent. There is no such thing as truth! But all of our experience contradicts the non-existence of truth so we can eliminate the gods from our understanding of reality.

    If we practice personal integrity, if we love the truth, if we have the courage to be honest, if we practice mental hygiene we will naturally disbelieve in all gods and supernaturalism.

  15. on 14 Sep 2008 at 3:47 am 15.Foolish believer said …

    Veridicus:

    you’ve recreated your own definition of faith.
    you’ve created your own principle without giving a worked example (that’s fine, I give 2 below just to test it – seems ok).
    however, i am not very sure if going this route is the most scientific as it seems as though one can prove or refute anything.

    Leviticus says “walk on all fours” it doesn’t say that insects have four legs…. if you watch insects such as grasshoppers, katydids and mantis, they walk on four legs at times and use their front 2 legs for hunting or back 2 for jumping. In any event, using the principle of coherence:

    fact: 6 > 4 (in our language and number system)
    fact: insects (based on current classification) have 6 legs
    inference: if insects have 6 legs and 6 > 4, then insects have 4 legs

    “This means that a creator god must possess the property of transcendence. Transcendence means that an entity exists outside of the Universe/Omniverse, outside of time and space.”

    Again, here you make a bold assumption that if something creates it floats ominously above and beyond. why can’t God be living within and among us? why can’t God be represented by the laws of nature? God is the law of nature being revealed to us! using your coherence principle, this is consistent with itself. If God defined the laws of nature by defining His nature, such that we are made in His image, then God must exist as we exist. Each day we learn more about nature, we are learning more about the nature of God its creator, who wishes us to sustain and further its expansion. you see, I don’t believe in creating a class of events called “supernatural”.

    “If we practice personal integrity, if we love the truth, if we have the courage to be honest, if we practice mental hygiene we will naturally disbelieve in all gods and supernaturalism…”

    I agree! But the reason I agree is that there is one God that is the Truth. The truth that spoke at the beginning and caused the Universe to resonate and constantly expand.

    Therefore, if we practice personal integrity (i.e. being honest, productive and purpose-driven), love the Truth (i.e. God), have the courage to be honest (i.e. not hide or compromise our beliefs/doubts/acceptance of facts), if we practice mental hygiene (i.e. the constant cleansing and renewing of our minds) then we will naturally disbelieve all [false] gods (e.g. carved images, possessions, people’s opinions) and supernaturalism (i.e. things that are against God’s nature).

  16. on 14 Sep 2008 at 8:11 am 16.lil tom said …

    foolish believer:

    >”why can’t God be living within and among us? why can’t God be represented by the laws of nature?”

    this simply is not the christian god. the god of the bible is most certainly a supernatural god. have you read the good book?
    further, if god IS nature, then why not just call it what it is: nature? nature is indeed wonderful, but there’s no need to make assumptions about its origins based on emotions. Naturally the belief in a utopic immortality brings good feelings to many people, but so does the promise of 72 virgins for martyrdom. Belief undoubtedly brings a deep sense of hope to one’s life. Unfortunately that hope can never be more than a wager. this is why it’s so clearly futile to argue that any belief is the “right” one (they can’t all be right!).

    the nice thing about science is that it happens to be the system of thinking with the fewest articles of faith possible:

    1) There exists an external objective reality

    2) There exists some sort of uniformity through time
    a) the universe has structure
    b) predictions and generalizations are possible.

    with this most solid foundation, we can come to the most coherent narratives of our universe and eliminate the need for the senseless cosmic guesswork.

    the wise man built his house upon the rock, after all…

    >”fact: 6 > 4 (in our language and number system)
    fact: insects (based on current classification) have 6 legs
    inference: if insects have 6 legs and 6 > 4, then insects have 4 legs”

    sorry, but that is just too funny. only a true believer could come up with that…

  17. on 14 Sep 2008 at 8:14 am 17.lil tom said …

    here’s an excerpt from an interview with Dan Dennett that I think is pertinent to the conversation:

    S&S: What then of religion, or, more specifically, of the relationship between religion and science? Stephen Jay Gould speaks of “Non-Overlapping Magesteria,” where the two realms of knowledge—or inquiry—stay within their own spheres, operating with mutual respect but maintaining a strict policy of non-interference. Is this possible, in your views? Is it even desirable?

    Dennett: The problem with any proposed detente in which science and religion are ceded separate bailiwicks or “magisteria” is that, as some wag has put it, this amounts to rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which Caesar says God can have. The most recent attempt, by Gould, has not found much favor among the religious precisely because he proposes to leave them so little. Of course, I’m certainly not suggesting that he should have left them more.

    There are no factual assertions that religion can reasonably claim as its own, off limits to science. Many who readily grant this have not considered its implications. It means, for instance, that there are no factual assertions about the origin of the universe or its future trajectory, or about historical events (floods, the parting of seas, burning bushes, etc.), about the goal or purpose of life, or about the existence of an afterlife and so on, that are off limits to science. After all, assertions about the purpose or function of organs, the lack of purpose or function of, say, pebbles or galaxies, and assertions about the physical impossibility of psychokinesis, clairvoyance, poltergeists, trance channeling, etc. are all within the purview of science; so are the parallel assertions that strike closer to the traditionally exempt dogmas of long-established religions. You can’t consistently accept that expert scientific testimony can convict a charlatan of faking miracle cures and then deny that the same testimony counts just as conclusively—”beyond a reasonable doubt”—against any factual claims of violations of physical law to be found in the Bible or other religious texts or traditions.

    What does that leave for religion to talk about? Moral injunctions and declarations of love (and hate, unfortunately), and other ceremonial speech acts. The moral codes of all the major religions are a treasury of ethical wisdom, agreeing on core precepts, and disagreeing on others that are intuitively less compelling, both to those who honor them and those who don’t. The very fact that we agree that there are moral limits that trump any claim of religious freedom—we wouldn’t accept a religion that engaged in human sacrifice or slavery, for instance—shows that we do not cede to religion, to any religion, the final authority on moral injunctions.

    for the full interview:
    http://www.searchmagazine.org/Archives/full-dennett.html

  18. on 14 Sep 2008 at 12:05 pm 18.VeridicusX said …

    @Foolish believer #15

    > you’ve recreated your own definition of faith.

    I’m flattered that you suggest that I have discovered a fundamental rule of philosophy. Alas, it is a standard principle of thought. It is a minimum requirement in debate that any proposition be internally and externally consistent. It is what we mean by saying something is “true” or “possible”.

    You may notice that the “Principle of Coherence” is the *opposite* of faith. It is the basis for knowing the truth value of any proposition.

    > you’ve created your own principle without giving a worked example (that’s fine, I give 2 below just to test it – seems ok). however, i am not very sure if going this route is the most scientific as it seems as though one can prove or refute anything.

    The principle that truth is self-consistent *is* the scientific route. There are no others. You cannot prove or refute just anything (I think that is what you meant). If a statement about reality doesn’t conform to the evidence and/or if it doesn’t conform to itself it is discarded as false.
    Deacon Duncan has a lot to say on this subject over at http://blog.evangelicalrealism.com/.

    Concerning Leviticus, if you read all three verses you will see that it refers to four-footed flying creatures that walk on “[all] fours” (there are none). This was just one example, by the way.

    > fact: 6 > 4 (in our language and number system)
    > fact: insects (based on current classification) have 6 legs
    > inference: if insects have 6 legs and 6 > 4, then insects have 4 legs

    By your reckoning you shouldn’t regard it as a problem if you discovered that your bank account was lighter by a few thousand dollars. I can hear the bank teller now, “Yes Mr Believer. You claim you had 100k. You’ll notice that 100k is greater than 5k. Therefore, you most certainly have $5000. Thank you, have a nice day”.
    But I like your rationalization. I tried it in the past with the many numerical anomalies in the Bible but reality won in the end.

    > … here you make a bold assumption that if something creates it floats ominously above and beyond. why can’t God be living within and among us? why can’t God be represented by the laws of nature? God is the law of nature being revealed to us! using your coherence principle, this is consistent with itself. If God defined the laws of nature by defining His nature, such that we are made in His image, then God must exist as we exist. Each day we learn more about nature, we are learning more about the nature of God its creator, who wishes us to sustain and further its expansion.

    You seem to be expressing a difference between God and Nature. Are you using metaphorical language? You also seem to be alluding to an anthropomorphic God?

    You seem to have moved past the supernaturalist position you mentioned in an earlier post – “God supercedes and transcends the Universe. He is the Universe and beyond”.
    This is called “panentheism”. There is no evidence to support this idea and it violates the coherence principle – that is, we have reason to believe it is false. Even if it were true, we have no basis for believing and asserting it, therefore to do so is unethical.

    Believing things without evidence and/or contrary to the evidence is immoral and unethical, it costs lives. Asserting things without evidence and/or contrary to the evidence is immoral and unethical and costs lives. (Both of the preceding are a form of dishonesty).

    > … I don’t believe in creating a class of events called “supernatural”.
    > God is the law of nature being revealed to us!

    From what you’ve said here I think that you may be proposing the position of Einstein, Hawking, et al.
    In some quarters it is referred to as pantheism. In other quarters it is referred to as atheism!

    (I find the idea of the law of nature causing itself confusing though. I can’t say that it’s impossible, only unintuitive. Perhaps you’re a theoretical physicist. They believe six impossible things before breakfast ;-)

    I am coming around to the opinion that beliefs are unneeded past childhood. When we are young we need to believe our elders and sources of authority as a matter of survival and as the only means we have to grow. As we mature we test our beliefs against nature and reality and discard those that don’t match and replace those that do with facts, knowledge and probabilities. Eventually, there’s a position where we harbor no conscious beliefs at all.

    Philip K. Dick said, “Reality is what’s left when you stop believing”.
    http://www.nobeliefs.com/beliefs.htm

    “That than which none greater can be conceived”, can only apply to Nature or Reality as a whole. It cannot apply to anything outside of or within it.

    Reason and Logic are simply the coherence of reality expressed as consistent descriptive and predictive rules.

    If your position is the Einsteinian one, then we are indeed in agreement.

  19. on 15 Sep 2008 at 9:54 am 19.Observer said …

    Father forgive them for they know not what they are saying…

  20. on 15 Sep 2008 at 5:05 pm 20.Foolish believer said …

    @ 18. VeridicusX

    >> I’m flattered that you suggest that I have
    >> discovered a fundamental rule of philosophy. Alas,
    >> it is a standard principle of thought. It is a
    >> minimum requirement in debate that any proposition
    >> be internally and externally consistent. It is what
    >> we mean by saying something is “true” or “possible”.

    FB: c’mon, don’t get carried away, I only said you recreated not discvovered….. what does internally and externally consistent mean? Internal and external observation of a claim?

    >> You may notice that the “Principle of Coherence” is
    >> the *opposite* of faith. It is the basis for knowing
    >> the truth value of any proposition.

    FB: it is the basis for testing the truth of a proposition within a particular reasoning framework i.e. set of rules and facts

    >> Concerning Leviticus, if you read all three verses
    >> you will see that it refers to four-footed flying
    >> creatures that walk on “[all] fours” (there are
    >> none). This was just one example, by the way.

    FB: again, look at the make up of the mantis, katydid and locust, the insects explicitly referred to; they have 4 legs that look similar and 2 differently shaped legs that they use for jumping or two frontal legs that they use for hunting and holding prey (i.e. the mantis); Funny thing is, just as I looked out my window, what should i see resting there…. a moth that seemed to have 4 legs! I then looked around to find out why this phenomenon occurs. There are also a species of nymphalid butterflies that walk on four legs and have very small fore legs (at least we call them legs as opposed to additional feelers) for pollination:
    - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nymphalidae
    - http://www.desertusa.com/mag00/jul/papr/vic.html
    - http://www.bookcost.com/review/0671868284/

    However, this is just a common attack point for Bible-bashers….

    >> By your reckoning you shouldn’t regard it as a
    >> problem if you discovered that your bank account was
    >> lighter by a few thousand dollars. I can hear the
    >> bank teller now, “Yes Mr Believer. You claim you had
    >> 100k. You’ll notice that 100k is greater than 5k.
    >> Therefore, you most certainly have $5000.

    FB: this takes things out of context and is an incorrectly applied analogy; to correctly use your example in an analagous manner: If I have 6k on my bank account and a direct debit comes in that requires $4k, then I am well within my limits to state “I have 4k”, until there is significance in talking about having 6k. Based on your example, if I have 100k I can only withdraw or transfer 100k,,,,,

    >> But I like your rationalization. I tried it in the
    >> past with the many numerical anomalies in the Bible
    >> but reality won in the end.

    FB: Are you being honest here that you tried?

    >> You seem to be expressing a difference between God
    >> and Nature. Are you using metaphorical language? You
    >> also seem to be alluding to an anthropomorphic God?

    FB: I am only suggesting here that God is the Truth that nature reveals. That’s neither metaphorically nor anthropomorphically intended.

    >> You seem to have moved past the supernaturalist
    >> position you mentioned in an earlier post – “God
    >> supercedes and transcends the Universe. He is the
    >> Universe and beyond”.

    FB: I will have to be careful with my statements – I do not use words like “supernatural” when talking with scientist (i assume), as this is interpreted and defined as “hocus pocus” in these circles. I try to talk about God in a very real way and about Him being revealed even via “simple” things of nature. However,

    >> Believing things without evidence and/or contrary to
    >> the evidence is immoral and unethical, it costs
    >> lives. Asserting things without evidence and/or
    >> contrary to the evidence is immoral and unethical
    >> and costs lives. (Both of the preceding are a form
    >> of dishonesty).

    FB: agreed; I like that as fundamental for science and our discussion

    >> From what you’ve said here I think that you may be
    >> proposing the position of Einstein, Hawking, et al.
    >> In some quarters it is referred to as pantheism. In
    >> other quarters it is referred to as atheism!

    FB: as far as I know, atheism claims there is no God. Pantheism states that everything is God. I state neiter. I state that God is the law of nature being revealed to us. Everything we discover is yet another wonder of God being revealed. It is Him showing what is possible when we previously thought it to be impossible; I suspect there’s more to come

    >> (I find the idea of the law of nature causing itself
    >> confusing though. I can’t say that it’s impossible,
    >> only unintuitive. Perhaps you’re a theoretical
    >> physicist. They believe six impossible things before
    >> breakfast ;-)

    FB: hahahaha – yes, I know a couple theoretical physicists. trust me, theoretical computer scientist dream up even more impossible things and make them even sound intuitive

    >> … Eventually, there’s a position where we harbor no
    >> conscious beliefs at all.

    FB: do you have proof of this claim that you have faith in?

    >> Philip K. Dick said, “Reality is what’s left when
    >> you stop believing”.
    >> http://www.nobeliefs.com/beliefs.htm

    FB: If that’s what you guys believe…

    >> “That than which none greater can be conceived”, can >> only apply to Nature or Reality as a whole.
    >> It cannot apply to anything outside of or within
    >> it.

    >> Reason and Logic are simply the coherence of reality >> expressed as consistent descriptive and predictive >> rules.

    FB: … rules often have exceptions

    >> If your position is the Einsteinian one, then we are >> indeed in agreement.

    FB: I agree with many thoughts of Einstein but I am not a member of the Einsteinian church

  21. on 15 Sep 2008 at 8:16 pm 21.Foolish believer said …

    @ 16. lil Tom:

    >”why can’t God be living within and among us? why can’t God be represented by the laws of nature?”

    >> this simply is not the christian god. the god of the
    >> bible is most certainly a supernatural god. have you
    >> read the good book?

    FB: I avoid the word “supernatural”, as it does not appear in any of the versions I have read. These are the things I know:

    Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
    21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

    1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
    17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

    1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
    13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

    1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
    20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

    >> further, if god IS nature, then why not just call it
    >> what it is: nature? nature is indeed wonderful, but
    >> there’s no need to make assumptions about its
    >> origins based on emotions.

    FB: Its not right to misquote people in a discussion. I said God IS the Law of Nature. When everything else fails, the Truth remains. The Truth is God, God is the Truth. In this case we can use just one word: Truth. Do you not believe in the Truth? Do you doubt the Truth? Do you not want to experience and have the Truth revealed to you? Do you not rejoice when you learn about the Truth? There is no need to make assumptions that this is a purely emotional stance…..

    >> Naturally the belief in a utopic immortality brings
    >> good feelings to many people, but so does the
    >> promise of 72 virgins for martyrdom.

    FB: the Truth is unselfish and not self-seeking. The Truth is about Love (and not sexual Love with 72 virgins). Love (the long-suffering, unselfish and patient kind) is even greater than Faith!

    >> Belief
    >> undoubtedly brings a deep sense of hope to one’s
    >> life. Unfortunately that hope can never be more than
    >> a wager. this is why it’s so clearly futile to argue
    >> that any belief is the “right” one (they can’t all
    >> be right!).

    FB: only the Truth is right. Seek the Truth. Believe in the Truth. That’s the true hope of Life – that there is a Truth,

    >> the nice thing about science is that it happens to >> be the system of thinking with the fewest articles >> of faith possible:

    FB: well, science is one way of learning about the Truth. It can however begin by having faith that the Truth is real and that the scientific journey is towards eventually having the full Truth revealed

    >> 1) There exists an external objective reality

    FB: don’t understand what that means…. (recall my name)

    >> 2) There exists some sort of uniformity through time

    FB: “some sort” sounds like a lot of uncertainty and unclarity… sounds like this includes faith in uniformity….

    >> a) the universe has structure

    FB: that is the Truth

    >> b) predictions and generalizations are possible.

    FB: ok…

    >> with this most solid foundation, we can come to the
    >> most coherent narratives of our universe and
    >> eliminate the need for the senseless cosmic
    >> guesswork.

    FB: let’s do it! That solid foundation is the Truth!

    >> the wise man built his house upon the rock, after
    >> all…

    FB: that rock is the Truth!

    >>> inference: if insects have 6 legs and 6 > 4,
    >>> then insects have 4 legs”

    >> sorry, but that is just too funny. only a true
    >> believer could come up with that…

    FB: I thought it was funny as well. Thanks for the encouragement – I do hope and try my best to be a true believer!

  22. on 15 Sep 2008 at 11:18 pm 22.lil tom said …

    to FB,

    FB said: as far as I know, atheism claims there is no God. Pantheism states that everything is God. I state neiter. I state that God is the law of nature being revealed to us. Everything we discover is yet another wonder of God being revealed. It is Him showing what is possible when we previously thought it to be impossible; I suspect there’s more to come

    so are all religions that believe in a god correct? or just yours?

    >”only the Truth is right. Seek the Truth. Believe in the Truth. That’s the true hope of Life – that there is a Truth”

    thankfully humans have developed a foolproof way of finding truth (notice, no capital “T”). any other personal, emotional or “spiritual” ideas one holds as TRUTH are just that: personal ideas. the imagination certainly can run wild when we claim that anyone can define their own ultimate TRUTH! and it does. which is why I tend to like the sciences which keep their truths humble and within the grasp of reason.

  23. on 16 Sep 2008 at 12:02 am 23.VeridicusX said …

    @Foolish believer #20

    > what does internally and externally consistent mean? Internal and external observation of a claim?

    It simply means that a proposition should not be internally flawed and should comply externally with known facts and laws.

    > it is the basis for testing the truth of a proposition within a particular reasoning framework i.e. set of rules and facts

    Yes, that’s correct for any axiomatic system. Some systems don’t have to comply with (the rest of) reality in any substantial way at all though. I am speaking of reality at large or truth in general. The implication is not only that if the principle doesn’t hold then our quest for some overarching predictive description of reality will end in tears, but also that we can make no useful statements about reality at all. (Alice in Wonderland and Last Thursdayism, etc.).

    Thanks for pointing me to the information about Nymphalidae.
    Yes, Lev 11:20-23 is a common one used by skeptics. I did hold the position that you’ve said for some while. Nevertheless, the insects mentioned are six-footed and use all six feet for walking. This seems to be the case in the videos I have seen of locusts online. Many insects have a adopted a tripedal gait according to http://www.answers.com. They go on all sixes. Also there is no reason to suppose that a deity would be as misleading as to call a six-footed animal four-footed. Your rebuttal means that the writer could just as easily have called insects two-footed animals, also ‘roaches run on two legs. It is more likely that some bronze age fiction writer wasn’t paying attention.

    About the numerical issues of the Bible …
    > Are you being honest here that you tried?

    Yes, I tried for around 2 decades. Not being willing to become an unbeliever I tried parallel worlds, merged worlds and sum over histories, number symbolism, “if there were 20 there were certainly 10″, “reality is whatever God says it is” and “they’re plain old errors – it was flawless in the original manuscripts”. The coherence of truth won out for me though.

    There are apparently thousands of problems with the Bible. I only needed a few.
    Apologists say that if someone calls something a contradiction what they are really saying is that it is *impossible* for what is stated in the Bible to be true, therefore all you have to do is present any solution, (whether proven or not), and the contradiction claim is countered. That, (of course), is false.
    We make judgments based on the balance of probability. If I were to follow the apologists’ route I would have no means of separating fact from fiction. If someone said that Harry Potter is true then there would be no way to counter the Harry Potter apologist. For any contradiction, internal or external, create any resolving narrative and Shazam contradiction gone!
    No, all we have to do is read the Bible with our usual reality testing and where it doesn’t agree with itself, known facts or morality we reject it as with any other work.
    If the Bible says that Jesus was taken to a high mountain by the Devil and shown all the kingdoms of the world, there is no reason to rationalize that Satan did a HD Plasma Screen Trick. It means exactly what it says. The writer thought that you could see all the kingdoms of the world from a high place – because the Earth was flat and visibility was limitless! Salt cannot “lose it savour”, the mustard seed is the smallest seed, etc.

    >> … Eventually, there’s a position where we harbor no
    >> conscious beliefs at all.
    > do you have proof of this claim that you have faith in?

    I don’t hold any conscious beliefs. It seems that there are others who hold this position as well over at http://www.nobeliefs.com. American Pragmatism holds that there is no “Truth”.
    I’ve learnt my lesson. I tend to think in terms of “useful models” and probabilities and utilize “operating principles” as long as they work for me. If something in my head violates coherence it has to go! Reality has to win every time. So far so good and its making for a very joyous experience.
    (In fact, it has just occurred to me that you may be hinting at this in your description of God).

    > If that’s what you guys believe…

    I’ve noticed that certain people posting on freethinking and skeptical sites seem to think that you have to go around believing things. As if life is some sort of Gullible’s Travels. Douglas Adams seemed to have noticed this in some people as well. In “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” there’s a man described as “an electric monk”. His sole purpose in life is to believe things and in fact he was manufactured by aliens to do just that.

    I don’t find any need to believe things. There are no reasons that I can think of to hold unvalidated beliefs and if something is a fact then I have no reason to believe in it. It remains true whether I believe in it or not. Lots of things I thought were facts and lots of things I have believed have turned out to be false …

    > … rules often have exceptions

    Coherence is a principle not a dogma and it concurs with all my experience to date. Of course, to abandon it is to abandon reason, (I did that during my religious phase – religious indoctrination really is a form of child abuse), so it remains useful.
    I don’t have a problem with the paradoxes that arise and I don’t view them as exceptions I view them as fundamental, (in case you wondered).

    > I agree with many thoughts of Einstein but I am not a member of the Einsteinian church

    I will be thinking deeply about your explanation of God. I can already see why you say that your theistic? position doesn’t violate coherence. It does seem to fall under the pantheism umbrella though even though you don’t understand it as doing that.

    (When I get the time later I will explain why I think your position is pantheism or “sexed-up atheism” as Richard Dawkins puts it).

    I find your apparent defense of the indefensible strange. The Bible is obviously perverted and false. Belief in it leads to preventable deaths, the slave ships didn’t have Christian names for nothing, (some states even have laws on the books preventing the prosecution of people who “kill” their kin through prayer). You don’t seem to be dogmatic, yet you seem to defend it.

  24. on 16 Sep 2008 at 11:05 am 24.VeridicusX said …

    @Foolish believer #20

    > I said God IS the Law of Nature.

    I think that this position is pantheism. God is All; All is God.

    I will use my standard rebuttal of the theistic God Hypothesis:

    If there is a God then it is potentially a life or death issue.
    So lets address a question of life or death.

    H1: God is necessarily instantiated.

    P1: God is omnipresent, eternal, immortal.
    P2: God is omnipotent.
    P3: God is the creator/originator of everything.

    P1) Omnipresence. God is present at all times and at all places in every possible world. Therefore God is eternal and immortal. There is no possible world in which God does not exist.
    P2) Omnipotence. God can do anything.
    P3) Cause. There is nothing and no possible world of which God is not the ultimate cause.

    C1: If the God Hypothesis is coherent then God is necessarily instantiated. [See Modal Logic, The Ontological Argument].

    T1: Can God commit suicide?

    C2: If God can commit suicide then God does not exist. [~P1].
    C3: If God cannot commit suicide then God does not exist. [~P2]

    P4: God can only do that which is metaphysically possible. [~C2, ~C3]

    C4: Either God created metaphysical modality or it exists independently of or anterior to God.
    C4.1: If God created metaphysical modality then there was a time when God was not bound by it and therefore God does not exist. [~P1]
    C4.2: If God did not create metaphysical modality then God does not exist. [~P1, ~P3] [Ockham's Razor --> Modal Ontological Argument].

    P5: God is metaphysical modality. “God IS the Law of Nature”.

    C5: Logic and reason are symbolic analogues of reality. Logic and reason are symbolic analogues of the laws of nature. If an entity is not an analogue but is metaphysical modality itself then that entity is nature, that entity is physics, because each moment is the instantiation of a metaphysical possibility or a set of metaphysical possibilities. Each moment is the instantiation of metaphysical modality or physics.

    Conclusions:
    C6: The theistic God does not exist.
    C7: God is another name for Nature.

    > … The Truth is God, God is the Truth. In this case we can use just one word: Truth.

    Dictionary definitions of truth:
    - Reality; actuality.
    - The state of being the case : fact: the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality.

    “God IS the Law of Nature” is another way of saying “God is Nature”.

  25. on 17 Sep 2008 at 2:22 am 25.Foolish believer said …

    @ lil Tom # 22
    >> so are all religions that believe in a god correct?
    >> or just yours?

    no. no.

    James 1:27
    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    [i think i should and will spend more time focusing on the above after this post]

    >> thankfully humans have developed a foolproof way of
    >> finding truth (notice, no capital “T”).

    FB: yes, i noticed no capital “T”. assuming you mean “logic and reason” as the foolproof way of finding truth, I still think it has its limitations and is prone to error – hence not foolproof. We have to be very humble and careful for what purpose and pay attention to how we execute logic and reasoning, otherwise it leads to disaster.

    >> any other personal, emotional or “spiritual” ideas
    >> one holds as TRUTH are just that: personal ideas.
    >> the imagination certainly can run wild when we claim
    >> that anyone can define their own ultimate TRUTH!

    FB: I would go on to strengthen your statement by saying – “ANY personal, emotional or spiritual ideas one holds as truth are just that: personal ideas.” The Truth is more than a personal idea; it is non-exclusive and accessible to all. The Truth is more than emotional or spiritual – it is observable by the acts and works (i.e. fruit) of a person. You can tell someone that is after the Truth as opposed to someone that is trying to argue a point. Can anyone define their own ultimate TRUTH? Sure, they can define it but it doesn’t mean that it is….

  26. on 17 Sep 2008 at 3:14 am 26.Foolish believer said …

    @24.VeridicusX

    FB: sorry, I will need a lot of time to analyse and understand your argumentation and logic, but I will try.
    I will however respond to your final statement that I found misleading to readers:

    >> The Bible is obviously perverted and false. Belief
    >> in it leads to preventable deaths, the slave ships
    >> didn’t have Christian names for nothing, (some
    >> states even have laws on the books preventing the
    >> prosecution of people who “kill” their kin through
    >> prayer). You don’t seem to be dogmatic, yet you seem >> to defend it.

    FB:
    (1) if it is obviously perverted and false, then why go to such lengths and discourse to prove that?

    (2) a belief without works is dead and will lead to death. Science has also been used irresponsibly and unjustifiably for massive deaths and racial segregation:

    * http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/special/scientific-racism.html
    * en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_racism

    (3) I will also give some thought to your position on life without beliefs and see what the implications of that are; i do know that belief can serve to give many sick and suffering people hope and hope can lead to healing; everyone might not be as mentally equipped as you nor have the time to rationalize like you do. healing here is not necessarily supernatural, but means having the mental push to discover remedies and/or change the policies of institutions when it seems impossible.

  27. on 17 Sep 2008 at 12:02 pm 27.VeridicusX said …

    @26 Foolish believer

    In case it seemed that I was committing a reification fallacy I have substituted the word “law” with “behavior” …

    Clarification:

    C5: Logic and reason are symbolic analogues of reality. Logic and reason are symbolic analogues of the behavior of nature. If an entity is not an analogue but is metaphysical modality itself then that entity is nature, that entity is physics, because each moment is the instantiation of a metaphysical possibility or a set of metaphysical possibilities. Each moment is the instantiation of metaphysical modality or physics.

  28. on 17 Sep 2008 at 1:54 pm 28.VeridicusX said …

    @Foolish believer #26

    Here is a simplified explanation:

    > God IS the Law of Nature
    is a sort of reification fallacy.

    It is saying that God is not just a symbolic mental analogue expressing a truth about Nature – “a law of nature”, and it is not saying that God is just a symbolic mental analogue of the behavior of Nature or Nature in action as a whole – “the Law of Nature”, it is saying that God *is* the behavior of Nature or Nature in action not merely the mental analogue.

    > I said God IS the Law of Nature. When everything else fails, the Truth remains. The Truth is God, God is the Truth. In this case we can use just one word: Truth.
    >> lil Tom #16: a) the universe has structure
    > FB: that is the Truth

    You seem to be suggesting that the behavior and the structure of Nature would still be there in the absence of Nature which confirms the reification fallacy.

    “I said God IS the Law of Nature”, is another way of saying “God is Nature”.

    >> I will … respond to your final statement that I found misleading to readers:
    >> The Bible is obviously perverted and false. Belief
    >> in it leads to preventable deaths, the slave ships
    >> didn’t have Christian names for nothing, (some
    >> states even have laws on the books preventing the
    >> prosecution of people who “kill” their kin through
    >> prayer). You don’t seem to be dogmatic, yet you seem
    >> to defend it.

    This statement is in no way misleading.
    Even the “10th Commandment” of the “10 Commandments” encodes slavery!

    > (1) if it is obviously perverted and false, then why go to such lengths and discourse to prove that?

    Because it harms me, my family, my friends and the World in general.

    We don’t have any choice about the information we receive from the World, so we end up with Biblical beliefs if we are born into a strongly Judaeo-Christian culture.
    Contrary to popular supernatural belief there is no evidence of such an ability as “free will” therefore, “Garbage In, Garbage Out”.

    If you think that it is OK for someone to sell their daughter as a sex slave, then I don’t know what to say.

    > (2) a belief without works is dead and will lead to death.

    They believed the Bible therefore they practiced slavery. In which way was it “belief without works”?

    > Science has also been used irresponsibly and unjustifiably for massive deaths and racial segregation:
    > * http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/special/scientific-racism.html
    > * en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_racism

    This supports my thesis that “faith”, (baseless belief), is detrimental. Scientific Racism emerged in a (religious) culture. It is not something that is read out of the evidence.

    > (3) I will also give some thought to your position on life without beliefs and see what the implications of that are; i do know that belief can serve to give many sick and suffering people hope and hope can lead to healing; everyone might not be as mentally equipped as you nor have the time to rationalize like you do. healing here is not necessarily supernatural, but means having the mental push to discover remedies and/or change the policies of institutions when it seems impossible.

    I see no ethical reason to make meritless assertions to sick and suffering people, on the contrary, it is unethical and uncompassionate.
    Suffering, (as opposed to pain), is directly traceable to baseless, usually religious, beliefs.

    There is some evidence that religious “hope” increases the chances of complications after heart surgery.
    http://www.hno.harvard.edu/gazette/2006/04.06/05-prayer.html

    There is *no evidence* of any gods, the doctrine of worthlessness and sin and separateness from God and Nature is meritless faith-based cruelty.

    There is *no evidence* of such a thing as “free will” there’s no evidence that it is even possible, so moral behavior is something we have to learn and if we haven’t taught it to people we can’t really blame them for not practicing it. This immediately does away with hatred, unforgiveness, self-harming and much strife.
    Nelson Mandela said, “Hatred is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill your enemy”. It would also mean that societies would have to practice justice.

    There is *no evidence* that we are in any real way separate from Nature, this correctly understood does away with the dread of death. (We will still hopefully maintain a healthy fear of death). “Me” and “the Universe”, not the same, not different either.

    I am discovering that reality has all the benefits of religion but none of the downsides. The revelation of truth, to paraphrase something you said, is precisely why directly encountering life, the Universe and everything, *without beliefs*, is so fulfilling.

  29. on 17 Sep 2008 at 2:22 pm 29.SteveK said …

    Verid,
    “There is *no evidence* of such a thing as “free will” there’s no evidence that it is even possible, so moral behavior is something we have to learn and if we haven’t taught it to people we can’t really blame them for not practicing it. This immediately does away with hatred, unforgiveness, self-harming and much strife.”

    How is teaching or learning possible without free will? What would evidence for free will begin to look like, and how would you know it is evidence for it and not something else?

  30. on 17 Sep 2008 at 2:45 pm 30.SteveK said …

    Verid,
    “There is *no evidence* that we are in any real way separate from Nature, this correctly understood does away with the dread of death.”

    What constitutes evidence for separateness in a *real way*? Are you in any real way, separate from your father and is your father separate from Earth in any real way?

    ““Me” and “the Universe”, not the same, not different either.”

    In what sense do you mean this?

  31. on 18 Sep 2008 at 3:03 am 31.Foolish believer said …

    @ VeridicusX:

    If we constantly parse and pick themes out of the Bible as our means of justifying slavery, immorality or injustice, this is destructive. Highlighting or celebrating the fact that people have done this in the past is also destructive. Beware: as a result of the message the Bible entails – “the ultimate conquering of evil and immorality – evil minds and forces will constantly use it as a justification for their ways. Its just like bad science; when a scientist wants to justify results from incomplete or inconclusive work, for the purpose of money, popularity etc, the scientist will affiliate his work with the established principles. I am not suggesting that you are evil or unethical, I just fear that your thinking and statements might be innocently advancing and advertising the work of evil – destroying and perverting the core message of God’s existence and His word the Bible.

    If you take the Bible in its entirety (not picking at the so-called fallacies/contradictions, which seem to be there in order to highlight the journey from darkness/evil/imperfection to light/righteousness/perfection) you will find that even your stance of doing away with baseless beliefs is supported, but with even more conviction. Have a read of 1 Cor 13: 8 – 12…

    ” 8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

    What then does it mean to “believe in God”? It is not an emotional persuasion of His existence. It is not ranting about the supernaturalism surrounding His being and work. It is not separation from Nature and hence ignoring the need to sustain it. It is not unjustifiably speaking in tongues, prophesying and boasting about a source of wisdom and knowledge that surpasses all nature. It is not about suffering and enciting suffering. It is not fearful – it is respectful. It is not claiming that one is better as a result of one’s belief. It is not egoistic – it is humble. It is not bondage – it is freedom. It is not hopeless – it is hope. It is not perverse – it is constant cleansing and renewal of the mind. It is not complex and illogical – it is meant to be simple. It is not hatred – it is love. It is not baseless, blind belief – it is based on love and based on proving the consistency of assertions and actions with love. Even if you arrive at a state where you think that you are without belief and you do not live and reason on the basis of love, then there can be nothing such as “morality”. It will be always whatever some authority (self-appointed or elected) defines it as.

  32. on 18 Sep 2008 at 12:51 pm 32.VeridicusX said …

    @SteveK #29

    > How is teaching or learning possible without free will? What would evidence for free will begin to look like, and how would you know it is evidence for it and not something else?

    Your voice recognition software is capable of learning. It doesn’t have “free will”.

    Freewill, (in humans), is the ability to choose between options without coercion. It is the ability to recognize options and choose between them and generate options and choose between them, without external coercion.

    “Free Will” as opposed to “Freewill” is a supernaturalist idea.
    It proposes that we can, “transcend all prior influences in a manner that is not merely random”.

    Free will is the religious idea that our behaviors are not ultimately caused by Nature or by “God”. Free will is the idea that *we* are the “First Cause” of our actions and therefore ultimately responsible for them.

    There are only two known kinds of event in nature, deterministic and indeterministic events. An event is either caused by a previous event or it is random. We also have deterministic chaos, which is a kind of randomness.

    Religion proposes that there is another kind of event, “free will”. This is an event that is neither caused by a previous event nor the result of blind chance.

    In order for this unknown kind of event to occur religion proposes “non-physical” “souls”. Because physical things are temporal, “non-physical things” are eternal. Therefore, we have “immortal souls”. This “soul”, being uninfluenced by physical forces, is absolutely freely able to make moral choices. This means that people are ultimately responsible for their behaviors.

    There is no evidence of “souls”. Science is showing us that we are the result of brain activity. *All* the evidence supports the idea that “Minds are what brains do”. Of course, brains and minds are subject to the laws of nature just like everything else.

  33. on 18 Sep 2008 at 12:55 pm 33.VeridicusX said …

    @SteveK #30

    >> There is *no evidence* that we are in any real way separate from Nature, this correctly understood does away with the dread of death.

    > What constitutes evidence for separateness in a *real way*? Are you in any real way, separate from your father and is your father separate from Earth in any real way?

    We are all part of the event that is Nature.

    You may have pragmatic reasons to view yourself as separate from your parents or you could view yourself as part of same event initiated by some ancestors. (There are lots of ways to view reality).

    All our distinctions are pragmatic and arbitrary. So when someone says “All is One” and someone else disagrees, they are both wrong or both right depending on your descriptive purpose. Or one is right and the other wrong depending on your descriptive purpose.

    >> “Me” and “the Universe”, not the same, not different either.

    > In what sense do you mean this?

    This is hopefully clear from my previous comment.

  34. on 18 Sep 2008 at 3:59 pm 34.SteveK said …

    Verid,
    Thanks for your replies. I must say that you are being quite sloppy/equivocal with your terminology (the event that *is* Nature ??….software is capable of *learning* ??) so I don’t want to continue because my time is limited and we’d just be spending hours getting the language problems resolved. This is *not* a critique of your arguments other than to say the language barrier is high.

  35. on 18 Sep 2008 at 5:14 pm 35.VeridicusX said …

    @SteveK #34

    Thanks for your response.

    If you get a chance please let me know what the sloppiness is that you’ve noticed. (Not about the software, there is no sloppiness there).

  36. on 18 Sep 2008 at 5:40 pm 36.SteveK said …

    A human is not the same thing as nature just as Army specialist, Mike, is not he same thing as his Army unit. Learning involves knowing which involves interpreting and reasoning, both deductively and inductivly, which involves the understanding of symantics of language beyond mere syntax. Software does none of this and so it does not learn qua learn, nor reason qua reason.

  37. on 18 Sep 2008 at 6:28 pm 37.VeridicusX said …

    @SteveK #36

    I suspected as much.

    I think you’ll find that the sloppiness is in your thinking. Both Mike and his army unit are parts of nature.
    Your version of what learning means is not the one used by everyone else.

  38. on 18 Sep 2008 at 6:43 pm 38.VeridicusX said …

    @Foolish believer #31

    I am going to say some tough things but they are not meant as a personal attack.

    Let me start by saying that I completely concur with a lifestance and life purpose of lovingkindness.

    > If we constantly parse and pick themes out of the Bible as our means of justifying slavery, immorality or injustice, this is destructive.

    So you’re saying all those commands about slavery, sex slavery, genocide, rape, the sacrifice of innocents, child execution, racism etc., “inspired” by the “Holy Ghost” were wrong then? You’re saying that Jesus’ support of slavery and slave beating and slave executions was wrong then?

    > … message the Bible entails – “the ultimate conquering of evil and immorality …

    This is what you claim is the perceived message of the Bible, but as I will show later, “conquering evil and immorality” is impossible to achieve by believing the Bible.
    People who are not from our kind of culture don’t see the Bible as the lovely book that you seem to.

    Your efforts on this board also show the difficulty of the Bible case. That is, even though you believe in goodness and love and you believe that you are acting morally, you are still promoting baseless beliefs that contradict the evidence.

    Of course I could be wrong and you are not promoting a baseless belief, but if that’s the case I think that you need to present valid reasons for believing in the Bible. You would also need to show why the immorality of the “inspired” Bible commandments and teachings are not “evil”.

    > I just fear that your thinking and statements might be innocently advancing and advertising the work of evil – destroying and perverting the core message of God’s existence and His word the Bible.

    You have presented no valid evidence of “God’s existence” or that the Bible is “His word”. Nor have you presented evidence that there is such a process as “the work of evil”.

    Anyone would have a hard time of “perverting the core message” of the Bible. A more perverse work is difficult to find.
    I am consciously advocating that Bible belief be regarded in the same light as belief in Mein Kampf or works which are similarly immoral.

    By all means study the Bible as fictional and mythological literature but beware believing in it.

    > If you take the Bible in its entirety (not picking at the so-called fallacies/contradictions, which seem to be there in order to highlight the journey from darkness/evil/imperfection to light/righteousness/perfection)

    This statement seems to me to be baseless rationalization. What evidence do you have to support the contention that the falsehoods of the Bible are there to highlight the journey to “light/righteousness/perfection”?
    Why can’t someone journey to “light/righteousness/perfection” without the outrageous belief that if you kill an innocent person justice has been done.

    The Bible is fractally wrong. Even the first verse of Genesis is nonsense. It summarizes the tall story that follows, that a conjectured entity made the (flat) Earth out of water and put a dome over the top of it into which were placed light sources!

    Even with our modern “more sophisticated understanding” of “God”, reality cannot have a cause outside of itself by definition.

    Now, if you were to say that the Bible can be used as a tool to identify and highlight the irrationality and immorality in its stories and potentially in the reader then I would agree.

    You could use the Bible to show that this “God” symbolizes injustice and irrationality and teach the recognition of its other flaws. You would ask to your student things like, ‘Why has God punished them for doing what was “evil” even though they had no knowledge of “good” and “evil”? Is that rational behavior, is that just?’.

    > you will find that even your stance of doing away with baseless beliefs is supported, but with even more conviction. Have a read of 1 Cor 13: 8 – 12 …

    The “Love Chapter”.

    > Even if you arrive at a state where you think that you are without belief and you do not live and reason on the basis of love, then there can be nothing such as “morality”. It will be always whatever some authority (self-appointed or elected) defines it as.

    I will show now why a supporting of belief in the Bible can never be moral.

    Apart from the problem of the “Love Chapter” referring to “love” as a “thing” that you can possess rather than something you do and something you are, it also divides the world into haves and have nots, those that have love and those who do not. Even the Love Chapter is part of the fractal wrongness.

    You can either obey, (John 14:21, 15:12,17, 1 John 4:23), or you can love. You can’t do both.

    As apologists are fond of pointing out, freedom is required to love. Love is a free act. This realization was used to “explain” the Genesis “Fall”. *But*, in the Bible love is a *commandment*.

    To obey a god is to abandon your moral autonomy. You can either perform a moral action, that is, do what is right *or* you can obey. If what is commanded and what is right match up, that’s good. If they don’t that’s also good – to a Christian.
    That’s the reason slavery was practiced for hundreds of years by
    people who were Christians. (Notice that Paul – the Love Chapter Guy – sends a runaway slave back to his master).

    You cannot have both obedience and morality. You can either obey or you can be moral.
    You can read the stories of divinely ordered genocide and rape in the Bible.

    So, to practice Bible “love” is primarily to obey a god, if someone benefits, then that is merely a side-effect. Moreover, the practice of Bible “love” means promoting misogyny, homophobic bigotry, the lie of sinfulness and worthlessness, etc.

    So, while I concur with the final paragraph of your post, (but for me the word “God” is a synonym of “Nature”), I cannot condone the Bible.

    Obedience is not morality, (as you have rightly pointed out). And the Bible can never help anyone to become moral.

  39. on 18 Sep 2008 at 11:56 pm 39.Foolish believer said …

    @ VeridicusX

    >> So you’re saying all those commands about slavery,
    >> sex slavery, genocide, rape, the sacrifice of
    >> innocents, child execution, racism etc., “inspired”
    >> by the “Holy Ghost” were wrong then? You’re saying
    >> that Jesus’ support of slavery and slave beating and
    >> slave executions was wrong then?

    FB: many things are recorded in the Bible. Moses broke the tablets of the law. Abraham lied about his wife.
    David committed adultery. The Bible recalls things good and things evil; it describes a process that is initiated by complicated laws and is then reduced to one: love. The Bible also reports Jesus was crucified and that Christians were persecuted and executed. But these do not promote crucifixion, persecution and execution. Jesus’ crucifixion and the persecution of the Christians were spearheaded by the teachers of the law…there’s a reason why this features prominently.

    >> This is what you claim is the perceived message of
    >> the Bible, but as I will show later, “conquering
    >> evil and immorality” is impossible to achieve by
    >> believing the Bible.

    FB: belief alone can’t do anything. [James 2:19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder]

    >> People who are not from our kind of culture don’t
    >> see the Bible as the lovely book that you seem to.

    FB: you might be surprised at my cultural background. all over the world there are those that regard and disregard the bible. this is nothing new.

    >> Your efforts on this board also show the difficulty
    >> of the Bible case. That is, even though you believe
    >> in goodness and love and you believe that you are
    >> acting morally, you are still promoting baseless
    >> beliefs that contradict the evidence.

    FB: I don’t think my efforts are greater or less than yours. you have things that are known and unknown to you, but this board is your domain and it has a motive.

    >> So, to practice Bible “love” is primarily to obey a
    >> god, if someone benefits, then that is merely a side
    >> effect. Moreover, the practice of Bible “love” means
    >> promoting misogyny, homophobic bigotry, the lie of
    >> sinfulness and worthlessness, etc.

    FB: the above seems as though you are no longer being objective or rational. You are generalising in order to argue your opinion and belittle the efforts of others. Love is love. Whether it be commanded and obeyed or rationally determined, the power of love cannot fail.

    >> Apart from the problem of the “Love Chapter”
    >> referring to “love” as a “thing” that you can
    >> possess rather than something you do and something
    >> you are, it also divides the world into haves and
    >> have nots, those that have love and those who do not.

    FB: love is a gift that you share with others. It is not what you do but it is the mind-set behind what you do. The actions are a result or an expression of love. You can be “loving” as a consequence of having love… unless you fake it for selfish gain

    >> You cannot have both obedience and morality. You can
    >> either obey or you can be moral.

    FB: you can either hate or love.

  40. on 19 Sep 2008 at 1:18 pm 40.SteveK said …

    Verid,
    “I think you’ll find that the sloppiness is in your thinking. Both Mike and his army unit are parts of nature.”

    Now you’ve changed what you said earlier. I agree that Mike is *part* of his army unit, I don’t agree that Mike is the *same thing* as his army unit. That is what you were saying when you said there’s no *real* distinction between humans and nature – we are nature and nature is us. There are real distinctions between humans and animals, humans and plant life and humans and the universe.

    “Your version of what learning means is not the one used by everyone else.”

    Like I said, this is more a language problem than anything else…at least for now. If you want to use the word ‘learn’ in a different way then, yes, software can learn.

    But allow me to use it in a different way to argue that you haven’t done anything to further your argument – software can’t learn in any *real* way like a human mind can learn.

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