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Author Topic:   I Am Not An Atheist!
GDR
Member
Posts: 4316
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 331 of 382 (670239)
08-10-2012 7:06 PM
Reply to: Message 329 by dwise1
08-10-2012 2:34 PM


Recently a friend lent me the book, "The Wedge of Truth" by Johnson. If I understand his position it isn't that he opposes the teaching of evolution, but that he opposes the teaching of evolution that is the product of solely natural mindless processes.

If I understand him correctly then he has a point. No matter how much we observe in the fossil or DNA record there is, as far as I can see, no way of differentiating between a evolutionary process that has been intelligently designed and a process that is the result of mindless and natural causes.

As I understand the discussion I would see him differing from Francis Collins. If I understand Collins correctly, he believes that God initiated the process and from then on evolution happened strictly as a result of natural selection and random chance. Johnson on the other hand believes that God continued to intervene in the evolutionary process in order to create new species. He doesn't however, seem to promote the idea of instant creation but just that God did have a hand in the mutations that saw new species being developed.

Once again, I don't see how science can differentiate between any of these positions. All science can do is to try and understand what happened in terms of results and processes.

I think that Johnson would be content if in teaching evolution it was made clear that the evidence is clear that evolution happened, that it is clear that there is a degree of randomness in the process, that natural selection is a basic ingredient of evolution but that we cannot tell if all of this is a result of chance and natural selection or if there is a an intelligent first cause or whether or not there is further intelligent intervention in the process.

Frankly I am not knowledgeable when it comes to biology or evolution, so I am more than open to being corrected in this view, but that is my understanding of Johnson's position after reading that book.

Edited by GDR, : missed a word in the text


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 329 by dwise1, posted 08-10-2012 2:34 PM dwise1 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 332 by jar, posted 08-10-2012 7:48 PM GDR has responded
 Message 335 by nwr, posted 08-10-2012 8:12 PM GDR has not yet responded
 Message 367 by dwise1, posted 08-12-2012 7:36 AM GDR has not yet responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 29468
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 332 of 382 (670242)
08-10-2012 7:48 PM
Reply to: Message 331 by GDR
08-10-2012 7:06 PM


But what we can say and should say is there there is ZERO evidence of any non-natural process.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 331 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 7:06 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 333 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 8:04 PM jar has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4316
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 333 of 382 (670244)
08-10-2012 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 332 by jar
08-10-2012 7:48 PM


jar writes:

But what we can say and should say is there there is ZERO evidence of any non-natural process.

Of course, and that is implicit in what I said in my post:

quote:
No matter how much we observe in the fossil or DNA record there is, as far as I can see, no way of differentiating between a evolutionary process that has been intelligently designed and a process that is the result of mindless and natural causes.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 332 by jar, posted 08-10-2012 7:48 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 334 by jar, posted 08-10-2012 8:09 PM GDR has responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 29468
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 334 of 382 (670245)
08-10-2012 8:09 PM
Reply to: Message 333 by GDR
08-10-2012 8:04 PM


That just seems dishonest, a sin of misdirection.

There is lots of evidence of natural processes and NO evidence of. anything BUT natural processes.

There is simply nothing to teach other than "the teaching of evolution that is the product of solely natural mindless processes."


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 333 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 8:04 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 338 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 10:25 PM jar has responded

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5538
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 335 of 382 (670246)
08-10-2012 8:12 PM
Reply to: Message 331 by GDR
08-10-2012 7:06 PM


Recently a friend lent me the book, "The Wedge of Truth" by Johnson. If I understand his position it isn't that he opposes the teaching of evolution, but that he opposes the teaching of evolution that is the product of solely natural mindless processes.

If I understand him correctly then he has a point.


There is no sign of love between ID proponents and theistic evolutionists.

Jesus was a liberal hippie

This message is a reply to:
 Message 331 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 7:06 PM GDR has not yet responded

  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 15962
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 5.0


(1)
Message 336 of 382 (670247)
08-10-2012 8:29 PM
Reply to: Message 326 by Taq
08-10-2012 12:08 PM


"To affirm that the Sun ... is at the centre of the universe and only rotates on its axis without going from east to west, is a very dangerous attitude and one calculated not only to arouse all Scholastic philosophers and theologians but also to injure our holy faith by contradicting the Scriptures" [Cardinal Bellarmino, 17th Century Church Master Collegio Romano, who imprisoned and tortured Galileo for his astronomical works]

It would appear that Heliocentrism is atheism as well.

So's the abolition of slavery.

We therefore hold that abolitionism, which deems slavery a sin and therefore considers every slave holder a criminal and strives for its eradication, is the result of unbelief in its development of nationalism, deistic philanthropy, pantheism, materialism, and atheism.' [...] The more their non-religiosity increases and reaches the pinnacles of theoretical atheism and indifferentism, the more fanatically they fight for the principle of slave emancipation. - Pastor CFW Walther, President of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church

Last of all, in this great struggle, we defend the cause of God and Religion. The Abolition spirit is undeniably atheistic. [...] This spirit of atheism, which knows no God who tolerates evil, no Bible which sanctions law, and no conscience that can be bound by oaths and covenants, has selected us for its victims, and slavery for its issue. - the Reverend Benjamin Morgan Palmer

In the light of God's truth the notion of created equality and unalienable right is falsehood and infidelity [...] The time has come when civil liberty, as revealed in the Bible and in Providence, must be re-examined, understood, and defended against infidel theories of human rights. - the Reverend F A Ross, Slavery Ordained Of God

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 326 by Taq, posted 08-10-2012 12:08 PM Taq has not yet responded

  
Adminnemooseus
Director
Posts: 3829
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 337 of 382 (670249)
08-10-2012 9:52 PM


Topic is a deism thing
I (the Minnemooseus mode) may have erred in giving message 303 a POTM nomination, but at the time I thought it had some valid deism connections. Not nessisarily correct connections, but something to move a debate forward.

Anyway, I think...

all messages should have some explicit connection to deism. Like discussing the intelligent design connection or lack of connection to deism.

Adminnemooseus


Or something like that©.

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4316
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 338 of 382 (670250)
08-10-2012 10:25 PM
Reply to: Message 334 by jar
08-10-2012 8:09 PM


jar writes:

There is lots of evidence of natural processes and NO evidence of. anything BUT natural processes.


Certainly, but it is beyond the scope of science to tell us whether those natural processes are the result of random, mindless combinations of particles, a deistic god who kicked the whole thing off and let it go its own merry way, or a theistic god who has intervened to bring about a desired result.

jar writes:

There is simply nothing to teach other than "the teaching of evolution that is the product of solely natural mindless processes."


Not really. There is nothing to teach other than the teaching of evolution.

He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 334 by jar, posted 08-10-2012 8:09 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 339 by jar, posted 08-10-2012 10:30 PM GDR has not yet responded
 Message 340 by Modulous, posted 08-11-2012 9:18 AM GDR has responded
 Message 343 by foreveryoung, posted 08-11-2012 5:34 PM GDR has responded

    
jar
Member
Posts: 29468
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.2


Message 339 of 382 (670251)
08-10-2012 10:30 PM
Reply to: Message 338 by GDR
08-10-2012 10:25 PM


Sorry but that seems totally dishonest.

Please start a topic on it if you wish to discuss the subject because it is irrelevant here.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 338 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 10:25 PM GDR has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7449
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


(1)
Message 340 of 382 (670256)
08-11-2012 9:18 AM
Reply to: Message 338 by GDR
08-10-2012 10:25 PM


Certainly, but it is beyond the scope of science to tell us whether those natural processes are the result of random, mindless combinations of particles, a deistic god who kicked the whole thing off and let it go its own merry way, or a theistic god who has intervened to bring about a desired result.

The reason why people died of the black plague was because of a disease caused by bacteria carried by fleas primarily carried by rats. (implication: it was just mindless processes).

Either that, or a theistic god cursed/blighted/smited the people by unleashing demons upon the earth to possess their bodies and this manifested itself as a bacterial infection.

Or perhaps the deistic god, ensured that they set the initial conditions of the universe just right so that people would be vulnerable to the bacteria which it ensured came into being by tweaking those same initial conditions.

Since we cannot rule out that the bacterial infection wasn't directed or somehow 'built in to the design of the universe' should we insist that when we teach about it, we include a disclaimer to that effect?

Where does this philosophy end? It may well be true that there is 'no way of differentiating between a evolutionary process that has been intelligently designed and a process that is the result of mindless and natural causes.', but that's because the proposition that there was some intelligent design (be it deistic or theistic) is almost always unfalsifiable and possibly constructed so as to be unverifiable.

That means that it is not just 'beyond the scope of science', but beyond the scope of knowledge. But unless you want to be guilty of special pleading, you should recommend not just teaching ' that we cannot tell if all of this is a result of chance and natural selection or if there is a an intelligent first cause ' but you would give equal comment about all unfalsifiable and unverifiable propositions that science, nor indeed anything, can't help us rule out.

We can explain how lakes are formed, how mountains are formed, how urine is formed - all by entirely unguided and unintelligent processes - why do people like Johnson get so upset about things when we explain life that way too? I mean, I know they have some qualms about geology and cosmology - but the only pattern is that they are specially pleading about subjects which they believe relate to Genesis et al. I mean, I guess the deists can pick and choose what parts of 'creation' were designed in, and what are just happy outcomes, or even take the position that they can't tell them apart. But then - while the theistic position leads to qualms about the teaching of evolution, the deistic position is usually more tolerable. That's largely because Deistic beliefs are largely inconsequential to our experiences. We might be here because of this deity, but everything else is up to us to discover.

Which is presumably why the deists don't tend to be seen starting movements to get deistic explanations of whatever (evolution/lakes/stars etc.) being taught at schools. And just because deists reject certain theistic interferences, it does not make them atheists, by any stretch. I assume you agree with that, but since its the central topic...

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 338 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 10:25 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 341 by GDR, posted 08-11-2012 5:07 PM Modulous has responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4316
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 341 of 382 (670260)
08-11-2012 5:07 PM
Reply to: Message 340 by Modulous
08-11-2012 9:18 AM


Modulous writes:

The reason why people died of the black plague was because of a disease caused by bacteria carried by fleas primarily carried by rats. (implication: it was just mindless processes).
Either that, or a theistic god cursed/blighted/smited the people by unleashing demons upon the earth to possess their bodies and this manifested itself as a bacterial infection.
Or perhaps the deistic god, ensured that they set the initial conditions of the universe just right so that people would be vulnerable to the bacteria which it ensured came into being by tweaking those same initial conditions.
Since we canno t rule out that the bacterial infection wasn't directed or somehow 'built in to the design of the universe' should we insist that when we teach about it, we include a disclaimer to that effect?
Where does this philosophy end? It may well be true that there is 'no way of differentiating between a evolutionary process that has been intelligently designed and a process that is the result of mindless and natural causes.', but that's because the proposition that there was some intelligent design (be it deistic or theistic) is almost always unfalsifiable and possibly constructed so as to be unverifiable.

I agree that this issue of plagues, tsunamis etc are difficult issues for theists and deists but frankly I think that deists should have a more difficult case to make. A deist has to accept that a creator brought this world into existence with these flaws with no plan to resolve them.

As a theist, and in my case as a Christian, I have two thoughts on this. Firstly I donít see the world as we know it as the finished product and that we will at some point be part of a world without plagues and tsunamis, but that is simply a matter of faith and not science. Secondly I believe that God has created humans to be His agents on this planet and that He essentially works through the hearts, minds and imaginations of humans, including atheistic scientists. In the case of the plague we now have antibiotics to control the disease and in the case of tsunamis we have learned to a degree to minimize their effect and to provide aid and relief to the victims of this and other disasters.

Plagues and tsunamis are realities and obviously they should be taught. Evolution should be taught. I also think that philosophy should be taught in which issues like these can be discussed. Science is essentially agnostic.

Modulous writes:

That means that it is not just 'beyond the scope of science', but beyond the scope of knowledge. But unless you want to be guilty of special pleading, you should recommend not just teaching ' that we cannot tell if all of this is a result of chance and natural selection or if there is a an intelligent first cause ' but you would give equal comment about all unfalsifiable and unverifiable propositions that science, nor indeed anything, can help us rule out.

The same is true though for teaching that all first causes are non-intelligent. In science we should just be teaching about the natural world and anything beyond that is again, either philosophy or theology.

Modulous writes:

We can explain how lakes are formed, how mountains are formed, how urine is formed - all by entirely unguided and unintelligent processes - why do people like Johnson get so upset about things when we explain life that way too?

Frankly I found the book an interesting read but on the whole a bit obscure. I agree that evolution should not be taught from a materialistic sense, but on the other hand it isnít theistic or even deistic either. He does seem to think, as near as I can tell, that if there is a theistic or even a deistic first cause then it is just as valid as assuming a materialistic cause. I can see that point but then why worry about it. If he and other theistic scientists want to try and find the hand of God in their science, and who knows maybe they can, then let them go about doing it but as of right now it isnít science.

The problem stems from the debate. It is like all of these fish with Darwin in them on the bumpers of car. It is an either or, Christianity or Evolution. It can be Christianity and evolution. There seems to be those on both sides of the issue who for whatever reason are happy to see debate framed that way.

Modulous writes:

. But then - while the theistic position leads to qualms about the teaching of evolution, the deistic position is usually more tolerable.

I just donít see that. Unless you decide that Genesis should be read like a science text, (which IMHO obscures real meaning from the text but thatís another issue), theism is just as compatible as deism is with evolution. (Or atheism for that matter.)

Modulous writes:

That's largely because Deistic beliefs are largely inconsequential to our experiences. We might be here because of this deity, but everything else is up to us to disco ver.

OK, but how do you really tell the difference between a deistic god and a theistic one. All we know is that we have had the curiosity, reasoning and imagination to discover the process of evolution. It seems to me that it is more difficult to rationalize a deistic god with sufficient intelligence to design a process that would bring about human curiosity, reason and imagination without being involved in one way or another, even if it just being involved in the human thought process. The fact that we have discovered evolution, antibiotics etc, IMHO, points to the idea that a theistic deity is more plausible than a deistic one.

Modulous writes:

. And just because deists reject certain theistic interferences, it does not make them atheists, by any stretch. I assume you agree with that, but since its the central topic...

Absolutely.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 340 by Modulous, posted 08-11-2012 9:18 AM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 342 by ringo, posted 08-11-2012 5:23 PM GDR has responded
 Message 345 by Modulous, posted 08-11-2012 5:50 PM GDR has responded
 Message 347 by Dr Adequate, posted 08-11-2012 6:08 PM GDR has responded

    
ringo
Member
Posts: 13734
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 342 of 382 (670261)
08-11-2012 5:23 PM
Reply to: Message 341 by GDR
08-11-2012 5:07 PM


GDR writes:

It seems to me that it is more difficult to rationalize a deistic god with sufficient intelligence to design a process that would bring about human curiosity, reason and imagination without being involved in one way or another, even if it just being involved in the human thought process.


A deistic god would be a scientific god, with a hands-off approach to his experiment. By contrast, most theistic gods are depicted as obsessive and often bumbling tinkerers.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 341 by GDR, posted 08-11-2012 5:07 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 344 by GDR, posted 08-11-2012 5:34 PM ringo has responded

  
foreveryoung
Member
Posts: 887
Joined: 12-26-2011


Message 343 of 382 (670262)
08-11-2012 5:34 PM
Reply to: Message 338 by GDR
08-10-2012 10:25 PM


gdr writes:

Not really. There is nothing to teach other than the teaching of evolution.

How is the theory of evolution anything other than "a solely natural mindless process"?

Edited by foreveryoung, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 338 by GDR, posted 08-10-2012 10:25 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 348 by GDR, posted 08-11-2012 6:41 PM foreveryoung has not yet responded

    
GDR
Member
Posts: 4316
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 344 of 382 (670263)
08-11-2012 5:34 PM
Reply to: Message 342 by ringo
08-11-2012 5:23 PM


ringo writes:

By contrast, most theistic gods are depicted as obsessive and often bumbling tinkerers.

You've been listening to the wrong theists.


He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8


This message is a reply to:
 Message 342 by ringo, posted 08-11-2012 5:23 PM ringo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 346 by ringo, posted 08-11-2012 5:51 PM GDR has responded

    
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7449
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 2.5


Message 345 of 382 (670264)
08-11-2012 5:50 PM
Reply to: Message 341 by GDR
08-11-2012 5:07 PM


I was trying to steer the topic in direction of deism, but you seem to be more focussed on theism here. To avoid off topic commands/suspensions can I ask that we work together to get deism into the mix a little more?

Plagues and tsunamis are realities and obviously they should be taught. Evolution should be taught.

But the objection wasn't about whether they should be taught - it was whether we should disclaim all scientific statements by referencing specially privileged unfalsifiable propositions such as undetectable manipulations of theistic gods or undetectable design by deistic ones.

I don't think we should, you seem to imply maybe we should.

The other points you raised about the 'problem of evil' to summarize it, was not what I was going after. I was merely describing how other scientific conclusions can be polluted if we teach alternative metaphysical possibilities that by their very nature cannot be falsified. I chose the plague at random, you can insert the science of urine formation in there if you want (its just that I don't have any historical theistic/deist based arguments to draw on on that subject)

The same is true though for teaching that all first causes are non-intelligent. In science we should just be teaching about the natural world and anything beyond that is again, either philosophy or theology.

I'm pretty sure that's how evolution is taught - by referencing only natural causes. Biology teachers don't start getting into Aristotle's unmoved mover argument or anything else that would be out of place. No declarations about first causes and how they are all non-intelligent.

It was this exclusive focus on natural causes that you and Johnson seem to have a problem with - that we should teach that we can't be sure it's only natural because we are capable of conceiving of non-natural entities that could be involved.

Do you think that by only talking about natural and mindless causes is the same as making the philosophical statement that is all there is? In a science class, surely the most that can be being said is 'that is all that science can tell us'. Do you remember high school evolution classes? Was it taught as if God is dead?

The problem stems from the debate. It is like all of these fish with Darwin in them on the bumpers of car. It is an either or, Christianity or Evolution. It can be Christianity and evolution

Well of course, that's the gist of my Message 15 -- There are plenty of Christian evolutionists - in fact there are more Christian evolutionists than there atheist ones (in the US at least).

OK, but how do you really tell the difference between a deistic god and a theistic one.

A deistic one doesn't interfere with the universe post creation, generally speaking whereas a theistic one does. If the theistic god acts in ways which can't be detected, then the two are practically indistinguishable.

It seems to me that it is more difficult to rationalize a deistic god with sufficient intelligence to design a process that would bring about human curiosity, reason and imagination without being involved in one way or another, even if it just being involved in the human thought process.

Why? Surely that would make it a more perfect deity? No need for course corrections - it just gets the right result first time.

The fact that we have discovered evolution, antibiotics etc, IMHO, points to the idea that a theistic deity is more plausible than a deistic one.

I'd really like to see you hash out the argument that gets you there. How does scientific discovery make an interfering deity more likely than non-interfering one? I have a feeling that's just your own biases about what is easier to believe in, probably based on what's familiar thinking to you, not based on any particular analysis.

I also think that philosophy should be taught in which issues like these can be discussed.

I think philosophy should be taught - but at high school I think the main focus should be on ethics and logic. In the UK reference is made to the beliefs of others, as well as the history of teleological arguments when teaching evolution. Would you regard this as sufficient, or do you think we should get into the discussion in depth and include theism and deism and pantheism and panentheism and atheism and...? Personally I'd sooner see epistemology and aesthetics taught before metaphysics.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 341 by GDR, posted 08-11-2012 5:07 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 349 by GDR, posted 08-11-2012 7:47 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
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