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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:26 am 
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Simon_Jester wrote:
That's more or less what I was getting at. You can't demonstrate that X is immoral using biology alone, because biology can't tell you why it's worthwhile to do something. If you want children, it's an objective fact that homosexual acts are a complete waste of your time and energy. Biology can tell you that. But biology can't tell you that you should want children, as opposed to wanting something completely different. Such as emotional satisfaction, which (for homosexuals) is vastly more likely to come from homosexual acts.
And THAT'S what I was trying to lead into. My ability to choose words and lead a train of thought leave much to be desired.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:23 am 
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/me raises hand.

I have a viewpoint/opinion to state here that generally pisses off both sides in the creation/evolution debate but I still feel it is the most likely solution to the debate.
I only ask that, as Simon says (lol. I have been dying to use that phrase in a post) you listen without dismissing it imediatley because it is not already the way you believe.

I believe in God and I believe that he created all of us and everything. Heres the point though. We do not, as I have said, understand all of God's mysteries. We have the "big bang theory" that explains how the universe was initiated and we have the Genisis, God spoke and the universe sprang into being (Genisis 1:3)and with further words of direction became what we see today. I say that both can be true. God, being all powerful, spoke and from nothing....we get everything. Sounds like the "big bang" to me. We have the "evolution of the species" vs God created all the animals (Genisis 1:20-25). Why are these counter to each other? Why can't the possibility be that God created the animals by the process of evolution? The only arguement against this is the 7 days listed in the Bible that this creation took place. Can we take every statement in the Bible as literal truth? I say no. If we could, there would be no contradictions or even parables in the Bible. Then after all the animals were created God created mankind. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't evolution pretty much put man as the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals? Again I do not see how both ideas are completely contradictory.
Some people claim to believe creationism and others to believe evolution. I believe both are true. The only way for an evolution proponent to disbelieve the possibility of my theroy would be to insist that there is no God. To counter this I say, you cannot prove that He does not exist. There is no proof one way or another. Either stance takes belief without absolute proof or "faith". Creationists who disbelieve seem to stick to the "the Bible says it was created in 7 days" theory. I say that 7 days for God is however long He wants it to be. Who are we to decide what he meant or what he did and when? It is said in the Bible, I am paraphrasing here, that a thousand years for us is a "blink of an eye" for God. That might explain how 7 days for God would be plenty of time for an evolutionary process to take place.


There are problems with my theory and I am sure people from both sides of the debate will gleefuly point them out. All I say is that it takes just as much faith to believe your theory as it does to believe mine. When people speak of things that are natural or unnatural they seem to base these things on their beliefs or a scientific study of nature. I say that nature, with all it's wonders, contradictions, and "laws" is how it was designed, by God, to be. It is, to me, a reflection on humans ourselves with all of our wonders and contradictions.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:45 pm 
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Nothing you wrote there sounds terribly contraversial, chaosman. Certainly not from the evolutionist side, unless you're talking to the tiny minority of truly radical secular humanists. The Fundagelicals however certainly do tend to bristle at the suggestion that the Bible is anything but literally true.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 12:53 pm 
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chaosman wrote:
/me raises hand.

I have a viewpoint/opinion to state here that generally pisses off both sides in the creation/evolution debate but I still feel it is the most likely solution to the debate.
I only ask that, as Simon says (lol. I have been dying to use that phrase in a post) you listen without dismissing it imediatley because it is not already the way you believe.

I believe in God and I believe that he created all of us and everything. Heres the point though. We do not, as I have said, understand all of God's mysteries. We have the "big bang theory" that explains how the universe was initiated and we have the Genisis, God spoke and the universe sprang into being (Genisis 1:3)and with further words of direction became what we see today. I say that both can be true. God, being all powerful, spoke and from nothing....we get everything. Sounds like the "big bang" to me. We have the "evolution of the species" vs God created all the animals (Genisis 1:20-25). Why are these counter to each other? Why can't the possibility be that God created the animals by the process of evolution? The only arguement against this is the 7 days listed in the Bible that this creation took place. Can we take every statement in the Bible as literal truth? I say no. If we could, there would be no contradictions or even parables in the Bible. Then after all the animals were created God created mankind. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't evolution pretty much put man as the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals? Again I do not see how both ideas are completely contradictory.
Some people claim to believe creationism and others to believe evolution. I believe both are true. The only way for an evolution proponent to disbelieve the possibility of my theroy would be to insist that there is no God. To counter this I say, you cannot prove that He does not exist. There is no proof one way or another. Either stance takes belief without absolute proof or "faith". Creationists who disbelieve seem to stick to the "the Bible says it was created in 7 days" theory. I say that 7 days for God is however long He wants it to be. Who are we to decide what he meant or what he did and when? It is said in the Bible, I am paraphrasing here, that a thousand years for us is a "blink of an eye" for God. That might explain how 7 days for God would be plenty of time for an evolutionary process to take place.


There are problems with my theory and I am sure people from both sides of the debate will gleefuly point them out. All I say is that it takes just as much faith to believe your theory as it does to believe mine. When people speak of things that are natural or unnatural they seem to base these things on their beliefs or a scientific study of nature. I say that nature, with all it's wonders, contradictions, and "laws" is how it was designed, by God, to be. It is, to me, a reflection on humans ourselves with all of our wonders and contradictions.


The verse your thinking of is the "a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day" verse. The verse simply points out that God is not constrained by time.

As to the usage of the word "day" in Genesis, we have to ask ourselves why someone writing it would use that word instead of simply saying lots of years. There's also the issue that the word "day" has not been used before now, and so there's no reference for a metaphor. Then there's the descriptions of the sunset each day (after the sun was made). That points further towards a literal take.

A lot of people also take issue with the idea of God using death and diseases to shape the world. There is also the question of Adam and Eve, and the need for Jesus. If the Genesis story is not literal, then what exactly was Adam? And what was the act that made the entirety of humanity doomed to Hell, thus necessitating Jesus' sacrifice?

I'm not saying that the entire Bible is literal truth. There are parts where it is obviously not, and the author makes sure the reader knows so. Genesis doesn't have those markers.

Simon_Jester wrote:
So? Who said anything about relativistic morals?

I'm a moral absolutist through and through. I'm just an absolutist with a bit of humility. I'm reluctant to condemn things when I can't see a reason for doing so. Homosexuality is one of those things. I don't understand why it would be immoral when left-handedness isn't.


Elfy did. When she said that morals are only what we make ourselves.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 1:51 pm 
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Simon_Jester wrote:
Although it might be a "bug" from a genetic standpoint, in the sense that it's not homosexuality as such that is promoted by evolution, but rather something else.


Bug? Anything common enough to exist from Avis all the way to mammalia is unlikely to be a bug. Again, this is arguing from incredulity. There are plenty of traits that at first seem counterproductive to reproduction, yet end up being important and conserved across generations. It is intellectually dishonest, even scientifically dangerous, to write off a trait so widely disseminated as something that must not serve some purpose.

If homosexuality was evolved once, than it is a trait that has been conferring an evolutionary advantage since the Permian period two hundred and fifty million years ago. If it is not, then it is so useful that it evolved parallel in both mammals and birds.

This is a natural and pervasive trait in social animals. Writing it off as a bug or an aberration or any other such dismissal is refusing to look at what Nature is saying.

angrysunbird wrote:
Why is bipedalism so unusual amongst mammals (pretty much only humans and kangaroos) but the rule in birds. Are birds (and kangaroos) along with humans closer to the image of God? Evolution has plenty of answers for these question (but not all the answers, yet). But it is interesting to try an come up with theological answers.

Bipedalism is common among birds because birds and mammals descend from the same group of creatures who'd settled a four limb, tailed body design waaaay back around the Cambrian. And the only way to make a winged creature out of a quadruped is to use at least one pair of limbs for the wings.

vampirebunbun wrote:
First off, don't tell me to stop talking about God creating people. How about I tell you to stop talking about how we came from monkeys? After all, you can't very well prove that, can you? No, I didn't think so.

This has been proven over and over and over and over and over. But since you still can't be bothered to actually try and learn or understand the science you insist on dismissing, it is pointless to discuss this with you.

I'm still amazed, though, that you continue to use the fruits of that science while denying its validity. The science that pegs the age of the Earth as long enough for evolution also gives us the modern, high speed CPU and flat screen monitor you are using to read this.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 2:03 pm 
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waffle wrote:
Bug? Anything common enough to exist from Avis all the way to mammalia is unlikely to be a bug.
Hard for me to be sure. I mean, if it evolved in parallel in a lot of places, then it would be hard to explain it as a bug. Come to think of it, as you say, if it hadn't evolved in parallel in a lot of places then there's no explanation for why some species have it and other closely related ones don't.

OK, point. I guess it isn't as plausible an explanation as I thought, although I must point out that I was never really committed to it.

Quote:
Bipedalism is common among birds because birds and mammals descend from the same group of creatures who'd settled a four limb, tailed body design waaaay back around the Cambrian. And the only way to make a winged creature out of a quadruped is to use at least one pair of limbs for the wings.
That's the answer evolution comes up with. What I think asb was getting at is that it's an interesting mental exercise to come up with a theological reason. Especially if it leads to conclusions like "Kangaroos are among the most Godly of animals."
_________________________________

chaosman wrote:
...
Why can't the possibility be that God created the animals by the process of evolution? The only arguement against this is the 7 days listed in the Bible that this creation took place. Can we take every statement in the Bible as literal truth? I say no. If we could, there would be no contradictions or even parables in the Bible. Then after all the animals were created God created mankind. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't evolution pretty much put man as the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals? Again I do not see how both ideas are completely contradictory.

Some people claim to believe creationism and others to believe evolution. I believe both are true. The only way for an evolution proponent to disbelieve the possibility of my theroy would be to insist that there is no God. To counter this I say, you cannot prove that He does not exist. There is no proof one way or another. Either stance takes belief without absolute proof or "faith". Creationists who disbelieve seem to stick to the "the Bible says it was created in 7 days" theory. I say that 7 days for God is however long He wants it to be. Who are we to decide what he meant or what he did and when? It is said in the Bible, I am paraphrasing here, that a thousand years for us is a "blink of an eye" for God. That might explain how 7 days for God would be plenty of time for an evolutionary process to take place.
None of this is actually all that controversial from the scientists' side, except for a small number of very obnoxious people who are actively anti-religion. Since I think these guys are the living embodiment of the straw Vulcan, I don't really care what they believe.

Somewhere along the road, the fundies got the idea that all scientists are like the active anti-religionists. They aren't.

Although I would point out that while it is true that humans are the product of a long evolutionary process... so are kangaroos and tuna fish and amoebas everything else on the planet. Humans are not obviously some sort of logical end product of evolution, because evolution doesn't drive towards anything. It just drives away from things that fail worse than the things around them.

Thus, evolution will move away from an animal that has a bad habit of running full tilt into trees and bashing their brains out, because they get themselves killed. But it will not move towards any particular solution of this problem. You might wind up with animals smart enough not to get into a headbutting match with a tree, or you might wind up with animals that have hard enough heads to win a headbutting match with a tree. It's a tossup.

On the other hand, as far as I'm concerned it's quite plausible and even likely that God set up the universe as a sort of massive complicated bankshot, with the plan being to make the world develop into the way it is through a long process of evolution. Beats me why.

That's actually what I believe myself.
________________________________

vampirebunbun wrote:
The verse your thinking of is the "a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day" verse. The verse simply points out that God is not constrained by time.

As to the usage of the word "day" in Genesis, we have to ask ourselves why someone writing it would use that word instead of simply saying lots of years. There's also the issue that the word "day" has not been used before now, and so there's no reference for a metaphor. Then there's the descriptions of the sunset each day (after the sun was made). That points further towards a literal take.
I believe someone writing it used that word because God wanted something that would really emphasize the difference between a Biblical literalist and a Biblical non-literalist.

And, possibly, to raise questions about what "the evening and the morning [that] were the third day" (Genesis 1:13) could mean in the absence of the Sun, and what all those plants were doing before sunlight was invented (see Genesis 1:11-13).

It seems an awfully slender reason to be trapped in endless disagreement with the best efforts of the vast majority of the most dedicated scholars on Earth to understand the nature and history of the world.
_________________________________

Quote:
A lot of people also take issue with the idea of God using death and diseases to shape the world. There is also the question of Adam and Eve, and the need for Jesus. If the Genesis story is not literal, then what exactly was Adam? And what was the act that made the entirety of humanity doomed to Hell, thus necessitating Jesus' sacrifice?
Adam and Eve are metaphors for early humans collectively. They found themselves blessed with enough brains to think about the world, but not with the wisdom to know what should and should not be done. So they ended up committing all kinds of evil and folly because it was in their nature to do things, but not yet in their minds to resist it. We have inherited that conflict between instinct and ethics, between hardwired "common sense" and reason. As I understand it, Adam and Eve's curse was that they were now aware of how hard they had to work to live in the world, where an animal in the woods as not.

As for your question about Hell, I'd have to explain a lot more about my own very strange beliefs to address it, and it would be off topic by two or three removes. Although it might eventually fork back around to morality.
______________________________

Quote:
I'm not saying that the entire Bible is literal truth. There are parts where it is obviously not, and the author makes sure the reader knows so. Genesis doesn't have those markers.
Maybe the markers fell off in the transcription process?

To me, Genesis has the feeling of something that used to be a sort of history chant around the campfire. Notice how the structure of Genesis 1 is parallel: "And God [verb]... And God [verb]... And God [verb]... And there was evening and there was morning...
And God [verb]... And God [verb]... And God [verb]... And there was evening and there was morning..."

That's the hallmark of something that someone has to remember so they can repeat it to a preliterate audience. The repetitive structure helps you memorize it. Eventually some Israelite (Moses?) got around to writing it down when the Hebrews discovered writing. But by that time the story was hundreds of years old, and the Israelites were all intimately familiar with it. Since they didn't have any reason to assume that anything in that story might be anything but the literal truth, they would not have been conscious of it being a metaphor even if it was a metaphor. It was the same story that had been spoken on their holy days for longer than anyone could remember. So why would they put [parable][/parable] tags on it?

Genesis leaves quite a bit out (when was yeast created?). It has some plot holes (plants before sunlight). It directly contradicts Genesis 2 on the plant issue. For these reasons, I believe that God intended us to remember Genesis 1, but that doesn't mean He intended us to believe it as a precise chronicle of the creation of the universe.
______________________________

Quote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
So? Who said anything about relativistic morals?

I'm a moral absolutist through and through. I'm just an absolutist with a bit of humility. I'm reluctant to condemn things when I can't see a reason for doing so. Homosexuality is one of those things. I don't understand why it would be immoral when left-handedness isn't.
Elfy did. When she said that morals are only what we make ourselves.
You misunderstood. What elfy was saying is that we cannot look to biology to justify our moral rules, nor can we deduce moral rules by observing biology. This is not an unusual idea. Ever heard the saying "Nature, red in tooth and claw?"

On a side note, I'd be much obliged if you could explain to me why some things that are rare in nature are inherently sinful while others are not, even though they are no less rare.
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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 2:42 pm 
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Hmm, almost everything in this thread is has already been covered by people who posted faster than I did. But I'm still posting it, dag-nabbit.

vampirebunbun wrote:
@Elfy:

First off, don't tell me to stop talking about God creating people. How about I tell you to stop talking about how we came from monkeys? After all, you can't very well prove that, can you? No, I didn't think so.

Second off, relativistic morals aren't morals at all. If your morals can change whenever you wish, then what's the point of having any? And then we get to the question of how anyone has the right to punish another for doing something .... well, we don't have a word, so we'll use the phrase "something I didn't like". If I'm stronger, does that give me the right? Obviously a society can't derive any rights based on morals, because for the person in the "wrong", they're actually in the right. I'll restate that relativistic morals are a completely unsustainable idea.

I wasn't trying to tell you not to talk about God creating people. I was trying to tell you not to come up with religious post-hoc explanations for why there are traits that do not convey evolutionary fitness in the human gene pool. If you don't believe in evolution, then evolutionary fitness doesn't exist, so don't use fitness as an argument. That's all I'm saying. I'm sorry if I came across as rude, I guess I get a little upset when people accept all of the constituent steps in natural selection, but not the existence or power of the process as a whole. Your God-related arguments accepted that 1) individuals have heritable variation and 2) that variation contributes to differential reproductive success but I know you don't believe that this is relevant for the differences and similarities between humans and chimpanzees. If you accept one set of evidence, you must accept the other set of evidence.*

I don't talk about people coming from monkeys. They didn't. However, all primates, including humans, have a common ancestor, and there is a huge amount of fossil, DNA sequence and other evidence to back that up. Orangutans, Gorillas, and chimpanzees are all more closely related to humans than humans are to monkeys. Sure, God could have deliberately made genes in a way to mimic that ancestry, and could have put fossils in the ground to fool us, but I still call these things evidence. Science can only support hypotheses if you are willing to believe the evidence. Deciding that faith is more important than science is the only way that we can deny that the best evidence indicates that chimpanzees are fairly closely related to both extinct and living hominins.

I actually didn't say anything about relativist or absolute morals; I simply said that morals do not arise directly from biology. That's all. I said we make them up, or they are given to us (both of those things can be either relativist or absolute). You don't believe that morals come from biology because you believe that absolute morals were given to use by god, so I don't see how you'd have a problem with this.

Chaosman, as others have said, your suggestion is completely non-controversial. The Clergy Letter Project, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Catholic Church have all agreed that evolution and faith are compatible.

I was just trying to argue that a literal interpretation of the bible is incompatible with evolution, and in fact with all of science. If evidence matters, that means that it trumps the literal word of the bible. If evidence can be dismissed whenever it conflicts with faith, what good is evidence for anything? This restricts faith to places that evidence does not go (like personal experience and the meaning of events).

chaosman wrote:
Then after all the animals were created God created mankind. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't evolution pretty much put man as the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals? Again I do not see how both ideas are completely contradictory.
Evolution is not a linear chain of progress that lead inevitably to mankind. And there have been many speciation events after the one that created humans (the many species of cichlid fishes in Lakes Malawi Tanganyika, and Victoria come to mind). But, yes, the existence of humans (a tiny twig on the brush of life) is a very recent event in the history of life on earth, and there are many people who agree with you that these descriptions are not at all contradictory.

*Of course, many religious fundamentalists accept "microevolution" while dismissing "macroevolution". There are, of course, some really fantastic discussions about levels of selection. Is it genes that have fitness? Or cells? Or organisms? Or populations? If organisms (say, humans) have fitness (number of offspring, measured several generations out), then cancer might decrease that fitness. But inside the human body, cancer cells, which are cells that reproduce more, have greater fitness than "normal" cells. Only if cancer cells completely take over, they end up all dying because the whole organism dies. Multicellular organisms and social insects exist, so there has been group selection in the past. But, in many cases, individual selection beats group selection (the ones that breed more take over the population, even if that makes the population go extinct). So, it appears that there are interacting levels of selection. So the level, and the timespan, over which different types of selection operate becomes very important. All of this is very interesting, and not at all completely figured out. But the evidence of genetic relatedness and geographic distribution and fossils all clearly point that "macro" evolution has occurred.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 3:21 pm 
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chaosman wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't evolution pretty much put man as the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals?


Yes and no. It is equally valid to say that cockroaches are at the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals. Or that dolphins are at the end of a long evolutionary chain of animals. Or zebras. Or ostriches. Or even platypuses.

Quote:
Some people claim to believe creationism and others to believe evolution.


Evolution is not a belief. It exists independent of belief, one way or another.

Quote:
I believe both are true. The only way for an evolution proponent to disbelieve the possibility of my theroy would be to insist that there is no God.


Supernatural forces are not natural, thus fall outside the bounds of science. Science says nothing one way or the other. It occupies itself with finding a natural understanding of the world, and Universe, around us. The problem comes in the God of the Gaps. Sometimes people find a gap in scientific understanding and insist 'here be God', using the gap as a proof (not faith, proof) of the existence of God. When science moves on and fills the gap, their are howls of indignation from the Gap believers that science has assaulted their God.

Evolution was one of these gaps. And as evolution became more solid, the gap retreated. Okay, the argument went, we'll make up two new terms, macro and micro evolution. We'll give you micro evolution, but macro evolution? Here, in this gap, dwells God. But the terms were never scientific and never well laid out. And so, any new progress in science bridging that gap is met with howls of protest, indignation and insistence the evidence is wrong.

Most recently, this was evident when scientists released details of an observed speciation event in bacteria. Howls of protest went up, with the gap proponents demanding fresh samples of the bacteria in question be delivered, presumably by FedEx, for their perusal. When the scientist failed to do so, the gap proponents frothed over with indignation, charging a cover-up. While doing this, they quietly censored from their website the scientist's response that the bacteria were available to anyone who complied with the federal rules on transportation of live biological samples. Fortunately, Google had cached the data in question on those heretical quantum loving hard drives of theirs.

Quote:
To counter this I say, you cannot prove that He does not exist. There is no proof one way or another.


Please don't drag science into the proof of God debacle. Philosophers have been sparring with that since the middle ages and made no progress. Science ignores the question as outside the bounds of nature.

Quote:
Either stance takes belief without absolute proof or "faith". Creationists who disbelieve seem to stick to the "the Bible says it was created in 7 days" theory. I say that 7 days for God is however long He wants it to be.


I loved that scene in Inherit the Wind, too!

Quote:
Who are we to decide what he meant or what he did and when? It is said in the Bible, I am paraphrasing here, that a thousand years for us is a "blink of an eye" for God. That might explain how 7 days for God would be plenty of time for an evolutionary process to take place.


Time enough for evolution has a fascinating history. Some of my posts on the topic may still be around. But if you want some fun, try looking up the early years of evolution, particularly that involving Lord Kelvin.

Quote:
There are problems with my theory and I am sure people from both sides of the debate will gleefuly point them out. All I say is that it takes just as much faith to believe your theory as it does to believe mine. When people speak of things that are natural or unnatural they seem to base these things on their beliefs or a scientific study of nature. I say that nature, with all it's wonders, contradictions, and "laws" is how it was designed, by God, to be. It is, to me, a reflection on humans ourselves with all of our wonders and contradictions.


If you wish to believe this, fine. In fact, I heartily recommend it. Your approaching the subject with the idea that when your understanding of God contradicts observed Nature, it is your understanding, not the Universe at large, that it is error. I always thought of this as the humble approach. To assume that when one's understanding of God contradicts observed Nature that it is Nature that is in error, rather than one's understanding, to me is monumental arrogance.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 3:41 pm 
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Simon_Jester wrote:
_____________________________

vampirebunbun wrote:
First off, don't tell me to stop talking about God creating people. How about I tell you to stop talking about how we came from monkeys? After all, you can't very well prove that, can you? No, I didn't think so.
Actually, it's very likely that she can. If she can't, it's due only to a lack of training on her part and not to weaknesses in the facts. My impression is that she does have the training, and is quite capable of demonstrating that we are in fact the millionth cousins of the monkeys. And of doing so beyond any reasonable doubt unless you take for granted that the conclusion is false before you start listening to her.
Nitpick on - humans evolved from apes, not monkeys. Well, we are apes, actually. Both monkeys and apes evolved from prosimian like ancestors (like lemurs) - nitpick off.

vampirebunbun wrote:

The verse your thinking of is the "a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day" verse. The verse simply points out that God is not constrained by time.

As to the usage of the word "day" in Genesis, we have to ask ourselves why someone writing it would use that word instead of simply saying lots of years. There's also the issue that the word "day" has not been used before now, and so there's no reference for a metaphor. Then there's the descriptions of the sunset each day (after the sun was made). That points further towards a literal take.
VBB, time is not constrained by time. Time depends on the relative position of the observer. If you are travelling just below the speed of light a day to you might seem like months or years to me. So what is the speed of God?

vampirebunbun wrote:
A lot of people also take issue with the idea of God using death and diseases to shape the world. There is also the question of Adam and Eve, and the need for Jesus. If the Genesis story is not literal, then what exactly was Adam? And what was the act that made the entirety of humanity doomed to Hell, thus necessitating Jesus' sacrifice?
Plenty of Christians feel the need for Jesus' sacrifice while believing in evolution. Jesus was still needed because humanity had fallen into sin. Adam was a mythos figure representing that sin and its origin. (Also, wasn't it Eve's sin first?)


Thought experiment - how would you, as a creator who created the world in the fashion explained by science, convey that across to a bunch of bloodthirsty thirst crazed desert nomads in a way they could remotely understand? A lot of people see the creation story as good allegory for what happened (like my Dad). It follows the basic story in a just-so story kind of way that would be understandable to the stone age mind in a way that a scientific explanation wouldn't. And why so upset about having monkeys (or apes!) as ancestors anyway? Is it worse than being the descendent of dust?

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:26 pm 
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angrysunbird wrote:
vampirebunbun wrote:
The verse your thinking of is the "a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day" verse. The verse simply points out that God is not constrained by time.

As to the usage of the word "day" in Genesis, we have to ask ourselves why someone writing it would use that word instead of simply saying lots of years. There's also the issue that the word "day" has not been used before now, and so there's no reference for a metaphor. Then there's the descriptions of the sunset each day (after the sun was made). That points further towards a literal take.
VBB, time is not constrained by time. Time depends on the relative position of the observer. If you are travelling just below the speed of light a day to you might seem like months or years to me. So what is the speed of God?


An absurd question deserves an absurd answer: zero. Since God is omnipresent, there is nowhere to which or from which he could move.

Of course, any attempt to measure time during Genesis rapidly becomes an exercise in futility. What constitutes a day before there is a sun and an Earth revolving around it? If God is all-powerful, why would creation take any time at all? Are we measuring time as perceived by humans, which weren't around yet? Or God, who may experience time like Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, ie., all moments at all moments, since he knows and is present in all of them?

These are the insane problems you run into trying to turn a work of allegorical literature into literal historic record. If we won't stop as a society, I vote we do so for other works. All we have to do is leave some carefully preserved essays lying around in boxes marked "archaeologists look here!" talking about the "1990s Project Mayhem terrorist attacks" and "the great religious leader Valentine Michael Smith".

I guess what I'm saying is, the Bible is probably just an ancient prank, and we totally fell for it.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:44 pm 
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waffle wrote:
Evolution is not a belief. It exists independent of belief, one way or another.


OK. I am getting a little...hmmm....existentialist maybe? but That is your belief.
It is backed up by alot of evidence but all of this evidence up to and including what we see with our own eyes is a belief that we share. For all any of us really know, we are all a product of a overactive imagination in some alien consiousness. That is why I try not to speak in absolutes. The guy in the mental institution that believes he is Napolean has a reality that is much different from ours. There is, after all, always the possibility that he is right and we all are wrong.

waffle wrote:
Supernatural forces are not natural, thus fall outside the bounds of science. Science says nothing one way or the other. It occupies itself with finding a natural understanding of the world, and Universe, around us.


God is, or may be, supernatural. He also may be as natural as the average flower. We haven't been able to define or quantify God by any means available to us. That does not mean it can never happen.


waffle wrote:
Please don't drag science into the proof of God debacle. Philosophers have been sparring with that since the middle ages and made no progress. Science ignores the question as outside the bounds of nature.


Would it be possible to drag science into the whole proof of God debacle if he showed up and was a measurable quantity? The question being outside the bounds of nature assumes that God is not natural or that God will never be proved. My point is that He has not been proven one way or the other, whether anyone is trying to prove His existance by science or not. There is a difference between "not proven" and "not provable".

I suppose I am nit-picking and for that I apologize. I just have a slight problem with people making statements that are absolute. I have a hard time excluding possibilities, however remote, by making statements that allow no other possibilities than the one thing you believe no matter how much evidence you have to support your belief. It's a personality quirk that really irritates people who like to speak in absolutes.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 5:25 pm 
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chaosman wrote:
waffle wrote:
Evolution is not a belief. It exists independent of belief, one way or another.


OK. I am getting a little...hmmm....existentialist maybe? but [i]That is your belief.
[/quote]

No. It is a demonstrable, repeatable phenomenon. Evolution is an observed fact, regardless of belief one way or another.

Quote:
It is backed up by alot of evidence but all of this evidence up to and including what we see with our own eyes is a belief that we share. For all any of us really know, we are all a product of a overactive imagination in some alien consiousness.


Oh dear. Like religion, this too lies beyond the realm of science. Such a proposition cannot be proven one way or another. It falls outside of science.

The brain in a box argument was old when I was in college. It didn't bring science to a screaming stop then. It does not today. It is, quite frankly, silly.

Quote:
That is why I try not to speak in absolutes. The guy in the mental institution that believes he is Napolean has a reality that is much different from ours. There is, after all, always the possibility that he is right and we all are wrong.


No, he is demonstrably wrong. Historically, we know Napoleon lived in the 18th century and died on the island of Elba. That the guy draws breath demonstrates he is wrong.

Quote:
waffle wrote:
Supernatural forces are not natural, thus fall outside the bounds of science. Science says nothing one way or the other. It occupies itself with finding a natural understanding of the world, and Universe, around us.


God is, or may be, supernatural. He also may be as natural as the average flower. We haven't been able to define or quantify God by any means available to us. That does not mean it can never happen.


God is supernatural, by definition. She is therefore outside the bounds of science.

Quote:
waffle wrote:
Please don't drag science into the proof of God debacle. Philosophers have been sparring with that since the middle ages and made no progress. Science ignores the question as outside the bounds of nature.


Would it be possible to drag science into the whole proof of God debacle if he showed up and was a measurable quantity? The question being outside the bounds of nature assumes that God is not natural or that God will never be proved. My point is that He has not been proven one way or the other, whether anyone is trying to prove His existance by science or not. There is a difference between "not proven" and "not provable".


You know, I once debated this in philosophy class. I was on the side of 'not provable, one way or the other'. I argued that this was the position of the agnostics and the true believers. The other side called me atheist scum trying to kill God. The difference between 'not proven' and 'not provable' is too fine for a large number of people.

Still, if you want to bring in science, God has not been observed. Nor has any God effects. Nada. Zip. Zilch. If we wished to take a scientific position, God is then inconsistent with our observations.

But then, I observed in that debate twenty years ago, it is a poor God who must submit herself to proof. And it is a poor faith that demands it.

Quote:
I suppose I am nit-picking and for that I apologize. I just have a slight problem with people making statements that are absolute. I have a hard time excluding possibilities, however remote, by making statements that allow no other possibilities than the one thing you believe no matter how much evidence you have to support your belief. It's a personality quirk that really irritates people who like to speak in absolutes.


I'll remember that when we inevitably drift into absolute morality.

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:06 pm 
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What waffle said.

Actually, I'd probably add more, but I still haven't recovered from my last attempt to explain falsification in one of these debates. I swear, sometimes you kids make me so...

Get off my lawn!

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Maybe an other point thrown in. Before you can proof God or decide weather god is proovable at all, you need a definition of God. Lot's of people who believe in God, do believe in something different then other people who also believe in God. Among all thoose versions of God people beleive in, you will sure find some that can be prooven false, some that could in theory be prooven if you have some additional data, some that is in principle unproovable and propably also some where there is a proof of it's existance (though i don't know an example for the last).

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 Post subject: Re: Biology and morality
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:30 pm 
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Go ahead and discount all my weird opinions on reality. It's ok. I often state silly things to make my point. Let's talk hypothetically for a second. Ever see the movie the Matrix? Suppose hypothetically that it was accurate. The only people who had any idea of their reality were those who had been "woken up". The rest of the people went along in their lives and they KNEW what reality was. It was all in their minds but to them it was reality. Everything we see, touch, taste, and feel is just electrical impulses that are interpreted by our brains. I say this to make the point that everything we "know" may be wrong no matter how much we think it is accurate. No matter how silly the example is. We all go along in a shared belief. It may be a belief in reality. It may be a belief in the reality that someone or something wants us to believe in. I personally will gladly state that I think you are right and this is whats real. The world we live in. I just do not discount the possibility that we are all wrong.

BTW I am not trying to discount science or bring it to a sceaming halt. I am saying that a mind works best when it is open and it's possible that mine may be a little too open.

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