Monday, August 08, 2005

The living creature after his kind (Gen 1:24-25)

A quick note to give people something to chew on since I'm taking a day off tomorrow. Subject? Evolution. Once again, this is my own opinion; in fact, just about everything in this post will be opinion rather than dealing with what I would consider key issues of Biblical interpretation, so some readers who have criticised me for taking off on flights of fancy or "comic book stories" can just skip this and come back on Wednesday.

Most Christians, particularly those who are towards the more literal side of Biblical interpretation, see this chapter of the Bible as being anti-evolution. Generally, the idea is that since God created everything that ever was, there's no random biological processes that cause evolution to occur, whatever the term "evolution" happens to mean. I note that in my experience, when evolutionists and creationists are debating, one of the big problems is a lack of definition of terms.

More specifically, literalists lean on the repeated phrase "after his kind", as it is rendered in the KJV. Surely, the reasoning goes, this is an indication that every animal will give birth to an animal that is just like it, and not another animal unlike it. (Particularly, of course, that a monkey did not give birth to a human.) I think this sort of over-emphasis on a particular interpretation of the meaning of these words is a far worse offense than most atheists are prone to make in criticism. Most of all because evolution in its simplest terms--which has nothing to do with whether or not man has any particular ape-like ancestors--is something that you'd have to be very foolish to miss out on.

What exactly does "kind" mean here? A cat's going to give birth to a cat, that's clear and obvious. Does that mean that a cat will only give birth to a cat that's identical to its parents? That's also obvious: obviously false. Aside from everyday traits like color and fur texture, there are a host of other aspects of a cat that may widely differ from its parents. Most cats have 18 toes, five on each front paw, and four on each back one. When I was a kid, I had a pet cat that had 20 toes, five on each paw, and the front paws actually had thumbs! Somewhere in this cat's ancestry, there probably was a regular 18-toed cat, but this cat was different. It also had kittens that had extra toes. One kitten had 28 toes, seven at the end of each leg! I say each leg, because three of the four legs seemingly ended in two separate paws. (Look up "polydactyl" if you're curious. It happens in many animals including humans, but is very common in cats.)

There was an interesting belief among locals that the marshy conditions that existed in the area where I lived favored cats with oversized paws, and so such oddities were more common in that area. This may or may not have been true, but this sort of variation, along with classically-known stories like the peppered moth are simple examples of evolution in action. Before the creationists reading this deluge me with refutations of the peppered moth story (believe me, I've heard quite a few of them, including that the whole thing may have been a hoax), understand my point. Variation in colors of moths and variations in numbers of toes of cats are really no more shocking in many ways than variations in skin tone among people of the world, whom Christians believe to be descended from just two people. My point is that I don't think Christians should be afraid of evolution just because the party line is that it doesn't happen. Some of it, maybe a lot of it, actually makes sense, and in no way contradicts anything in the Bible.

Is the idea that humans evolved from monkeys somewhat offensive and anti-Biblical? Yes. But there are no real evolution-understanding biologists out there who actually believe that to be true. Really. You should check it out. Atheists reading this who think I'm full of crap should check it out with reputable sources, too. I'll probably catch a lot of crap for this post because I somehow wasn't completely precise in wording something, but hopefully some of you will know what I'm saying and not misinterpret it. I guess I'll see when I get back in a couple days.

23 comments:

eric said...

Which is easier to believe: that over the course of millions of years, human beings adapted and changed little by little, differently and at differing rates depending on a trillion factors like climate, landscape, availability of food and which types, natural predators, natural catastrophe, proximity to the ocean, proximity to mountains, in-breeding, segregation, etc.. and that today's human is similar but not the same as humans that *barely* walked this earth way back then..

or

There is a mysterious all knowing invisible man that created everything in six days (days that lasted millions of years? absurd) and he created man in his image (even though he/she is invisible) and because a woman picked an apple off the wrong tree this benevolent and ever so wise deity decided to forever cast his greatest creations into a ridiculous living hell of a pointless existence and tell them to spend their days worshiping Him because without his love their lives would be empty. Praise God! Thank Jesus for unleashing what has proven to be the single most deadly creature to ever lived - you and I. To claim that man descended from monkeys is a bit of an oversimplification I think and to 'study' the bible is nothing more than an exercise in futility. What great secrets does it hold? What is this knowledge you think you will gain by reading the pages of one of the most convoluted and ridiculous works of literature to ever plague the minds of mankind? There are two things you need to know, pay attention. Treat others -as they treat you-. Not how you would like them to treat you, that is a waste of time. Ready for number two? Here goes, now only if George Bush and the rest of you murdering Christians could grasp this one: Violence begets violence. That's it brothers and sisters. You will never, never, never ever, not even for a second, create lasting peace with a rifle. You won't do it with a pistol either. And you can try to affect peace with a jet plane and a rack of heat seeking missiles, but study after study shows that it just don't work. Throw you god damned bibles in the trash and start studying things that are going to actually help improve your ignorant selves instead of cause you to become more and more bewildered at the meaning of some stupid 2000 year old quotation from a giant, contradictive tome of prose. Stop looking at others with your goggles of judgment, running around pointing your fingers at the heathens while casually letting us sinners know we are going to end up in hell if we don't start doing things the way the bible says we should because there is no heaven, there is no hell, and there certainly is no fucking god. Now close your eyes and don't open them for a week. Walk around as a blind person. At the end of the week, open your eyes. That's your anti-baptism. You've all been walking around in the dark for so long with your snooty noses stuck so far up each other's holier-than-thou asses trying to one-up each other on your trivial knowledge of what God meant when he said this and what he meant when he did this that you are missing the whole point of life - eat, fuck, eat, fuck, eat and fuck. That's it. Your body and soul was programmed to do two things almost exclusively - eat and fuck. In between the times you not stuffing your face and stuffing your mate, you can toil away at a meaningless job providing a worthless service or product to a bunch of worthless consumers happy in the knowledge that when you die, the only evidence that you ever existed will be the tons of plastic water bottles you bought and threw away, and your rotting corpse buried in a metal casket left to decompose in privacy, never being allowed to do what is one of the most basic and important functions in the CIRCLE of life: re-enrich the soil from which it was made. Why do we let our mothers and fathers rot away in metal caskets, denying them the final step in life, the one just past death - the reintegration and rejuvenation of the earth by the natural decomposition and fertilization of the soil from the left-over chemicals, nitrogen, phosphorous, carbon, calcium, sodium, etc.. that was meant to be food for the living fauna and microrganisms that are such and important part of the nature of our surrounding world that we have so aggressively sought to destroy. Your religion is selfish and takes up too much of your time. Don't study the bible - if you gave a shit about anything or anyone else (which I don't) you'd get a second meaningless job so that you could use the extra income to feed a sickly child born to a whore of a woman in Africa or just down the street from you in that little white house with the stupid bitch and her maniacal boyfriend who just can't stop having babies because they have become nothing but servants to their sex organs, living only to eat and fuck, eat and fuck, eat and fuck. Say it out loud with me - eat and fuck eat and fuck. I love to go to chuch and eat and fuck but don't speak about the fuck, it embarasses me to think about myself fulfilling such animalistic desires by basically breeding like a rabbit in between the times that I am eating and studying my bible, trying so desperately do find a place to stuff my guilt that plagues me because my religion keeps telling me I am a sinner and I need to constantly ask for forgiveness from some dumb fuck god who created my lying, stealing and cheating ass in his own disgusting and worthless and imperfect image. Praise yourself.

Zeus said...

That is the most accurate writing I've seen on this pseudo analytic comic book of a blog.

Brucker said...

Dude, you've got some issues. I don't know if you care to hear me address them, but what the heck, I will.

1) Which is easier to believe, evolutionism or creationism?

For each person, it may be one or the other, or a few people believe some compromise of the two. I've heard Christians ask the exact same question, and like you, they probably thought the answer was obvious. If it really were so obvious, sites like the SAB and this one wouldn't exist, would they?

2) Mankind is "the single most deadly creature to ever lived".

I'll agree to that readily.

3) "To claim that man descended from monkeys is a bit of an oversimplification..."

You may have missed it, but that was one of the main points of the post you're replying to. Evolution is a highly misunderstood theory by both people who reject and accept it.

4) What's the point of studying the Bible?

To know the mind of God. Sure, I know you believe He does not exist, so it's reasonable for you to find it uninteresting. But I do happen to believe, and unless you have a good reason for me not to believe (and trust me, I've heard plenty) I'll continue to believe.

5) Treat others as they treat you, not as you would be treated. Violence begets violence.

Violence only begets violence if people live by the credo that you should treat others as they treat you rather than as you wish to be treated.

6) The Bible isn't going to improve your life.

Fine if you think so, because I don't believe that's the point of the Bible. However, it has greatly improved my life beyond what I can measure.

7) Stop judging others.

I'm not judging anyone; you seem to be the first one pointing a finger around here.

8) The Bible tells us how to act, and we have to follow it or go to Hell.

This is a misunderstanding of the Bible's message. The Bible talks a lot about Heaven and Hell, but it's not about who followed what rules.

9) Eat, fuck, eat, fuck, eat and fuck.

I'm not sure what your point is here, whether this is how we sould live, or how we do live despite aspiring to greater things. While life does largely consist of those things, there is more to it, like blasting people in blog comments.

10) People shouldn't be buried in metal caskets.

Okay. I'm inclined to think that people ought to do whatever they want with their bodies. Organ donation, for instance, is a good idea, but I wouldn't insist everyone has to do it.

11) Christianity is selfish.

Jesus taught that the Bible largely boils down to two things: love God, be kind to others. Is kindness a selfish thing? Remember, there's a difference between saying there are selfish Christians (all too true) and that Christianity is selfish (I don't see it).

12) We should be feeding the children of starving whores.

I'm not sure what whores have to do with it, but yes, we should be taking care of our fellow human beings, especially the children.

13) Sex is embarrassing to talk about.

Say it aloud with me: eat and fuck. Indeed, two of my favorite three activities, along with yes, going to church, and I'm not at all ashamed to admit I enjoy all three. My pastor did a terrific sermon a couple years ago on why we should all be having more sex (and the answer wasn't procreation) which you may imagine was a very popular sermon.

Largely, I find your post hard to follow, so I hope I've responded to your main points. May God bless you!

Brucker said...

Zeus said...
"That is the most accurate writing I've seen on this pseudo analytic comic book of a blog."

This blog might be better as an actual comic book. Know any good artists?

Steve Wells said...

Were humans created before or after the other animals?

Brucker said...

After.

Na said...

Not that I'm particularly on board with eric's rant. I thought I might have ago at responding to your response.

1) Which is easier to believe, evolutionism or creationism?

Clearly someone can be indoctrinated/brainwashed into believing all sorts of crazy things, and those things would then be the easiest thing for them to believe, even peer pressure from a group of people you've never met that you're only going to share a room with for hour can have dramatic effect on what is easiest to believe, check out Asch's conformity experiment (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sno1TpCLj6A). Even the religious will note that their have been other religions that were taken seriously which seem utterly unbelievable to them.
I think this question then should be approached in such a way to minimize this effect. If an alien were to land on the earth (we can assume that it is advanced, highly intelligent and is has no problem in understanding the people it speaks to) and various modern religious leaders that hold creationist views got to tell that alien why they hold their creationist view and present their evidence, and then a modern leading scientific mind in the field of evolutionary biology got to tell the alien why they held their evolutionary view as to the origin of our species and present their evidence, which is it more likely that the alien would believe? I would say that this gives us the easiest position to believe, all things being equal. This is probably closer to what eric intended to put across.


2) Mankind is "the single most deadly creature to ever lived".

Yeah I thought that was a bit too down on humans. It's true we can do really shitty things to each other, but I think that we are amazing and continue to advance, and as we do we get more amazing, more awesome. To be that of course we are also going to be the ones with most deadly potential, and I think that that coupled with dogmatic thinking is a problem. But it's really a problem for us, and all in all I'm happy we're here.

3) "To claim that man descended from monkeys is a bit of an oversimplification..."

I get that there is that confusion that some people have when they say, if we came from monkeys how come there are still monkeys around? The answer to which is that we don't come from any monkey that exists today, but instead we share in evolutionary terms a close ancestor. But you say "Is the idea that humans evolved from monkeys somewhat offensive and anti-Biblical? Yes". Why is the idea that we are a rising ape (as opposed to fallen angels) offensive? That we have a natural history that takes us from a chemical soup to the self aware intelligence we have become, able to judge and pursue are own improvements is spectacular. As for the anti-Biblical bit, I tend to agree, but if you read the Bible and decide carefully which bits are poetic, it is possible to contrive evolution in the translation, as many do e.g. Catholics.

Na said...

4) What's the point of studying the Bible?

You answer this "To know the mind of God." I would like to know to what end? Just because it interests you; because you want the "BFF" God you were told about when you were 4 to fit with the God in the Bible and that takes a never ending amount of work; to work out whether it's okay to kill people from different tribes, steal land and own slaves.

I don't believe, and I don't find the bible uninteresting, though I think if it wasn't for believers it would be a lot more entertaining.

I guess if I was going to give you a reason not to believe, I would first have to ask you to think of a thing so unlikely that you would feel that it would be just too much of a stretch of an imagination to accept it as remotely credible, once you have thought of it allow for the realization that your god is able to create or/and even become it, or create or/and become many of them. Hopefully that shows why god is the most unlikely thing to exist. And my guess is that you believe in him because you have a feeling and you've read one of the many of old religious books.
I don't think this will persuade you, but I do think it shows how you are not willing to hold this by the same intellectual standard as anything else.

5) Treat others as they treat you, not as you would be treated. Violence begets violence.

I agree with your reply here though would rephrase what you wrote as violence by necessity begets violence if people live by the credo that you should treat others as they treat you rather than as you wish to be treated.

6) The Bible isn't going to improve your life.

You say that the Bible has greatly improved your life beyond what you can measure. But how do you know that it hasn't denied you a far better life that you would have found in another religion or none. I would say though, that in a certain way I can see it. In that you live in the US and the American Christian right at least, seems so horribly intolerant, the British Christians for the most part don't come close to what I've seen and heard of their US brethren, and my guess is that being a Christian has allowed you to escape being at the wrong end of that.

7) Stop judging others.

I don't see how you can do this, and I don't think it would be wise. It's not judging itself that is really the issue, it's what guides you judgement. For both the believer and non-believer who have the best of intentions I think we are guided by a wish to improve the well being of all. But for the non-believer, well being is solely an aspect of our mortality and so has to be based in the here and now. For a believer there is an afterlife, and that afterlife is eternal, which allows for the possibility of doing something that clearly has a negative impact on others well being here and now, as long as they believe it will provide a greater well being in the eternity after.

Na said...

8) The Bible tells us how to act, and we have to follow it or go to Hell.

I think most Christians believe in this "misunderstanding of the Bible's message". But I am interested in what you think in regards to this if you think "it's not about who followed what rules". In your mind can an atheist go to heaven?
Do you believe in a actually hell, where people are punished for eternity? Because that to me sounds like an atrocity far worse than humans are even capable of.

9) Eat, fuck, eat, fuck, eat and fuck.

I also think there is a lot more to life than this. We also get a huge amount of pleasure from intellectual stimulation, friendship and recognition to name 3, which I like to believe most people find at least as important to the experience of life as eating and fucking.

10) People shouldn't be buried in metal caskets.

For the most part I agree with you that people should be able to chose within reason what happens to their bodies. However, on the issue of organ donation I think people should have to opt out.

11) Christianity is selfish.

See I think Jesus had some really bad views especially relating to women and slaves. So I don't agree with you that he was all about kindness. However, I'm willing to continue reading your blog to see how you spin things. I do feel that even though you start from a position of the Bible's truthfulness being beyond question, that within that context you are really trying to be honest.

12) We should be feeding the children of starving whores.

I'm with you again on your answer to this. We should be taking care of the whole human family.

13) Sex is embarrassing to talk about.

The church used to frown on sex out of wedlock way back when, and was generally sexually repressed. For the former point I think the church has been dragged into the modern world, the latter point really only applies where you get the vow of celibacy. However, many churches and christians still hold backward and bigoted views when it comes to the LGBT community, trying to fight their acceptance on all fronts, and make sure that homosexuals aren't afforded all the same rights as heterosexuals. This allows them to keep gays effectively as a lower caste, dehumanizing them.

Brucker said...

1) Which is easier to believe, evolutionism or creationism?

Why do you assume that the alien doesn't have the same philosophical issues with these ideas such as the cosmological argument? Sure, I think the alien would appreciate the logic of evolutionary theory better than the creationists ever did, yet it might find something lacking in the theory in the end.

2) Mankind is "the single most deadly creature to ever lived".

Heard of VHEMT? I recently exchanged some e-mails with the guy running the site suggesting that while humans certainly have the greatest potential for destruction, we arguably also have the greatest potential for creating peace and harmony.

3) "To claim that man descended from monkeys is a bit of an oversimplification..."

I've always thought "if we came from monkeys how come there are still monkeys around?" was stupid question for other reasons. In particular, it's like saying, "If the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee is based on the earlier models, then why do I still see 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokees on the road?" Yeah, the primates that we are supposed to have evolved from are extinct, but even if they weren't, why would that be a problem?

Oh, and while I didn't mention it in this post, I'm sure I mentioned somewhere what the real Biblical issue with evolution is not really in Genesis, but rather the New Testament. In short, if Original Sin caused death to pass upon all living things, then this would imply nothing died before Adam was born/created. That's a logistical nightmare beyond the Noah story.

4) What's the point of studying the Bible?

Would it suffice to simplify my original response to "To know the mind of the God of Israel"? It seems clear that this is why people like Steve Wells study it, even while not believing that He exists.

I'm not sure why I need to think of anything particularly unlikely; as you've pointed out before, isn't God just unlikely in Himself when you think that way? Nonetheless, there are some limits on omnipotence, as strange as it sounds. When it is said that God is omnipotent, it is not meant to imply that God can do that which is logically impossible. Why stop with the old classic, "If God can do anything, can He make a rock so big He can't move it?" when we can take the ultimate, "If God can do anything, can He make Himself not exist?" These sorts of questions are just silly.

The other limit on God's omnipotence is that God will not perform any action that is contrary to His character. The implications of this are more subtle, and also bring up some questions as to the nature of God's character when we see some of the things He did do in the Bible.

Yes, my belief in God is based in no small part on what I have read about Him in the Bible, but I do like to point out that I have read many books from and about many other religions, and my hope is that some day soon, I'll find the time to read the Quran, as I'd like to know the mind of Allah (who may or may not be the same entity as the God of the Bible); I'm open-minded about these things.

(I have no idea what your last sentence means, sorry.)

5) Treat others as they treat you, not as you would be treated. Violence begets violence.

So many words! Brain melting!

Brucker said...

6) The Bible isn't going to improve your life.

Actually, I've lived a large portion of my life in liberal Northern California, where Christians are not very popular. (Although unlike some people, I wouldn't say we're being persecuted. Come back when the government is rounding us up in packs and shooting us, then we can talk persecution...except we're dead.) Also, coming from a Jewish family, there's a fair amount of tension over my conversion. As for the intolerance of American Christian Fundamentalists, I just find it depressing and embarrassing; if being a Christian groups me with such people, then I believe I am at the wrong end of that.

7) Stop judging others.

Religion certainly has that possibility, yes. On the other hand, an atheist could decide that since life is pointless and religious people are deluded, he might as well blow up a church, preferably a full one. (Not that I'm saying it's likely, only that atheism doesn't automatically protect you from the bad things that sometimes come out of religion.)

8) The Bible tells us how to act, and we have to follow it or go to Hell.

My view on the matter can be found here.

9) Eat, fuck, eat, fuck, eat and fuck.

I dunno; eating and fucking are pretty darn popular... Seriously though, those are good suggestions.

10) People shouldn't be buried in metal caskets.

You mean have the option to opt out, right? You're not saying you're against organ donation, are you?

11) Christianity is selfish.

What were Jesus' views that you take issue with?

12) We should be feeding the children of starving whores.

Wait, if the whores are starving, doesn't that mean they need the food? How wrong have I been?

13) Sex is embarrassing to talk about.

I've heard it said that the Puritans believed in a healthy sex life. A man could be chastized by the community elders if his wife felt she wasn't being satisfied.

LGBT issues open up a whole other can of worms. Suffice it to say that while I understand where Christians are coming from when they say that same-gender sexual relations are wrong, I think very few of them are handling the issue in the loving manner that Jesus would have wanted them to.

Na said...

Only just got to reading this response, I will try to respond in due course but haven't got the time at the moment. Until then I just wanted to do a quick response to question 10. In the UK "opt in" refers to registering your willingness to donate your organs, if you don't then it'll be up to your next of kin who the doctor will have to ask at a very emotional time.
"opt out" means having to register your wish not to be an organ donor, if you are not registered the doctor can automatically consider you a donor and save and improve lives.
I totally believe in organ donation. (^-^)b

David Michaels said...

I have several problems with what I read here, enough that it would take a full tome to adequately address. So briefly, any Christian attempt to assume pieces of the evolutionist theory places death ahead of sin, making much of scripture a lie. For anyone to make the argument that man couldn't have remained reasonably as he is for millions of years required blind acceptance that the earth has been here that long. Since scientific method has never been used to prove such a thing, we might do well to consider what that methodology has proved. Looking at the ratio of C-14 to C-12, scientific methodology has repeatedly proven it will reach equilibrium in 30,000 years and it has not. That means the earth is NOT even 30,000 years old. The measurement of the earth's magnetism, and its decline, provess the earth is NOT even 15,000 years old. The study of genetics has proven all existing mankind came from a relatively small sample (less than 24 sticks in my mind) developing over a timeframe less than 8,000 years. All of these fit the Biblical account and none of them fit the theories supporting an old earth. I could write an equally long treatise on how ridiculous it is to believe 300 sextillion stars were compressed and at equilibrium to the size of this period. Then, without outside intervention exploded with enough force to overcome the gravity of everything known in the universe only to instaneously, and without intervention, slow at precisely the moment that would keep them from collaspsing on themselves so that space bodies could coallesce. Then, once more without outside intervention, the inert sprang to life, complete with the ability to take in nutrients from outside itself, process those, and excrete waste, even able to reproduce, and containing DNA. Then, plants became animals? Then, animals became man? Then man, after languishing in very nearly his present condition for at least 100,000 years suddenly and for the first time developed language, math, went to war, and recorded his history? I'll stop. It is patently absurd, is based entirely on unprovable theories and the opinions of men who must by definition ignore science to hold to those premises, and to hold them up as irrefutable and therefore supportive of some other aberrant theory or philosophy greatly lack substance.

Brucker said...

Well, as I've said many times in this blog, I'm not a scientist, so I can't speak to much of what you bring up (except that my understanding of how carbon dating works, to which you seem to be alluding, is that "equilibrium" would have nothing to do with it, but I'm not sure what you're saying). What I can say in agreement with you is that you seem to generally be implying something I've said in the comments above, in different words: That atheists who claim that belief in God "complicates" a simple understanding of the universe are really just seeing things in an entirely different way than a theist would, and not necessarily in a more logical way.

I don't know whether or not the things you claim here have as solid a grounding as you clearly think they do, but either way, the complexity of reality is such that assuming there is no higher power of some sort can seem to me like more of a leap of faith than accepting the Bible.

I know I've touched on the subject of the difficulty of reconciling evolutionary theory to the concept of Original Sin somewhere in this blog. My point in the above post was that nitpicking about biology and linguistic nuances of the KJV is a red herring in the evolution vs. creation debate. The real issue is a theological one, "plac[ing] death ahead of sin" as you say.

Still, all of that aside, I do continue to encourage both evolutionists and creationists to take some time to understand what the term "evolution" really means. As a hint, if you think it has anything to do with most of the things you listed (carbon dating, geology, astrophysics, abiogenesis, linguistics, technology, etc.), you'd be mistaken. Even the two or three things you mention that are related to evolutionary theory are only tangentially related. If people are going to debate these things, it's best to be debating facts rather than opinions.

Na said...

1) Which is easier to believe, evolutionism or creationism?

The alien is just a way of creating a intelligence that can assess the arguments without baggage. With evolution you have logical steps to follow, each of which will be a part of the theory of evolution. With creationism there doesn't seem to be any logical steps. It seems to go 1. I believe in this particular deity, 2. humans don't know the answer to everything, therefore 3. My god is that answer.
A biology lesson that is informed by evolution shows a string of naturally occurring causes and effects answering all sorts of questions like 'why do leaves tend to be green?' without the need for the supernatural. A biology lesson informed be creationism answers all questions 'because that's how our god made it'.

Cosmological argument is another case of this.

Na said...

2) Mankind is "the single most deadly creature to ever lived".

I have heard of VHEMT, but I don't really know their arguments.
I don't want people to stop having children, many of those children are going grow up to create great things that will give us new ways to enjoy life.
Also I looked at their answer to "Q: Why can’t new technological breakthroughs solve our problems?" and it was utterly pitiful.

Na said...

3) "To claim that man descended from monkeys is a bit of an oversimplification..."

I like your Jeep analogy!

I'm going to try a little word play to answer the original sin logistics problem you raise, and this is just off the top of my head so it might be rubbish. If original sin "caused death to pass upon all living things" then maybe some/many/most living things did die before, but not all living things.
Also there are living things with indefinite longevity, so in that respect not all living things have been so inflicted.

Na said...

afflicted

Na said...

4) What's the point of studying the Bible?

My last sentence is making this point. Even with limits to omnipotence, God still by definition remains the most unlikely entity possible. If you were presented with anything not religious based, which had remotely the same chances as being true as God does, I don't think you would give it the time of day - that for example would be why you don't wear a tinfoil hat to stop the government controlling you with their satellites.

Na said...

5) Treat others as they treat you, not as you would be treated. Violence begets violence.

:D

Na said...

6) The Bible isn't going to improve your life.

Is Christianity not very popular or just less popular? My bet is that even in the liberal North California Christians greatly outnumber any other demographic (I've stayed in Eureka, it is lovely up there!)

Being a Christian doesn't group you with the American Christian Fundamentalists, it's more like it insulates you against a lot of their bile. However, I can only imagine the grief you got from family over your conversion.

Na said...

7) Stop judging others.

I'm not sure why even if you thought life is pointless and religious people are deluded that there is a logical next step of blowing up a church.

We have already had an interesting discussion on the link you posted, I don't have much to add to that.

Brucker said...

1) I find it hard to imagine an intelligent being without said baggage, even an extra-terrestrial. I suppose your assessment of evolution/creationism is largely correct, though. But "God did it that way" often suffices when animals seem logically made; I think it tends to be harder for some people to see how the random process of evolution yields logical results, although there are good reasons that it would in the end.

2) I think VHEMT actually means well; I disagree with them, but with a great deal of respect.

3) Your wordplay is interesting, but I don't think many people would find it convincing. Still, it highlights some of the linguistic issues that inevitably come up in understanding the Bible.

4) Everyone who's really smart knows that tinfoil hats don't work; you need a good Faraday Cage bodysuit! Anyway, you may be right, but I think it's a limitation of the nature of the discussion. "God" is really a special-case entity that can't be compared practically with anything due to his supposed nature. It's like a lot of arguments for the existence of God that rely on making (possible) category errors in the case of the universe as a whole compared to other things.

6) Christians probably do outnumber any other demographic, they'd just be far from the majority, and the point that I was making is that in college, when I became a Christian, the overwhelming majority of my friends were LGBTs, Wiccans, anarchists, and various other groups that would tend to dislike Christians. I've managed to stay friends with many of them because I do try and make it clear that I don't judge them. They know I'm a Christian, they know I'd like them to be Christians, but I don't preach to them. There's still always tension.

7) Well, if you were the sort to think of violence as a way to solve problems it might go that way. People do vandalize churches, even to the point of blowing them up. I'd always assumed that it was the work of crazed atheists, but I suppose there are other possibilities.

Maybe it got off track from the original discussion, but my contention on being a judgmental ass is that it's not the sole domain of the religious fanatic.