Aug 062006
 


This is a continuation of a discussion with rahoggid over here: I know all of us feel intensely about the issues, and friction arises when we can’t get the other party to agree with us.

Still, I would like the discussion to move forward, and we just might have to accept that the we all might not agree. The goal then is not to persuade each other but rather to argue our case before the readers. With that in mind, there is a lot less animosity in the discussion.

I’d like to thank rahoggid for offering his thoughts. Even when I disagree, I realize he is representative of many people out there, and it is good to here things from their perspective. I can tell you that I mingle very well with agnostics and atheists on university campuses. They helped me promote ID, and one eventually became a Christian. I have found that listening to peoples concerns and sincere reservations is a good way to build bridges.

Salvador
Although, with respect to the Pandas, I can say the bridges have long been burned. And the only way UDers and Pandas exchange messages is via artillery shells. :=)

  43 Responses to “continued discussion with rahoggid”

  1. rahoggid, good to have you back.

    So we agree that ID is not evidence that uniquely supports Christianity or any other belief system for that matter – it is just compatible with such beliefs.

    Again, yes.

    In addition, as we can learn nothing beyond the design inference about who, how or why, unless we develop the tools and techniques to find, analyse and question the designer him/her/itself,.

    True, but what is the relevance of this to identifying a designed object? Please remember this is the premise of ID, artifacts can be determined if they were designed or by natural cause.

    the design inference can add only a little weight to any belief system that has a possible cause of design, but that is where it stops – ie. we are still left with a set of belief systems that all have tenuous scientific premises for the design theory – be it God or an advanced civilisation

    Also true. Currently it is beyond the scope of ID theoretic to explore the designer or motivation of the designer. Again, I do not see the significance of the relevance of this to science. Science is about following the empirical data, period.

    Now to your statement “The only way we can deduce a Creator is through logic. Logic demands that there is an uncaused Cause.” Logically, a being such as a God that created the universe and life on planet earth had to exist in an environment outside of the universe to start with. If this God like being has existed forever – ie. has always existed, there was not beginning – then the environment in which this God exists must also have existed forever. Therefore, logic dictates that an environment can exist forever, and therefore this could apply to our universe

    Not true. This is the problem of our limited brain. We can’t grasp existence outside of our normal 3-D space and time. You assume that there must be an eternal environment that co-existed with God, but that is a 3-D thinking.

    ie. the calculations and measurements that have been done in the last few hundred years are incomplete and/or have been misunderstood and as time goes on we will come to recognise this with future measurements and discoveries.

    How would future measurements and discoveries be able to change the logic of an uncaused cause? Isn’t this the equivalent of saying the in the future we might find that 2+2 ≠ 4? This is blind faith and it would be unreasonable to place one’s hope on this kind of premise.

    Alternatively, if we assume that this God like being is not infinite, then at some point this intelligent God had to either come about via a designer or via an unguided set of processes.

    Not true. Logic does not demand a particular god, but it does dictate that there must be an uncaused cause as the ultimate God/Creator. We might be wrong about who this ultimate God is due to the limitation of our mind but logic dictates that this Being must exists.

    If you accept this conclusion, that the first designer came about via an unguided process, then you have to accept the possiblity that intelligence can come about without design

    No I do not accept this premise. This is an illogical conclusion. Nothing comes from nothing. An ultimate uncaused cause cannot “came about” , IOW it cannot have a beginning.

    My fundamental point is this”. the scientist’s belief system is not tied to his/her ultimate survival. ” Your belief in a supernatural designer is tied to your survival.

    This is incorrect. First you must agree that our beliefs do not affect the ultimate existence of God. IOW, God’s existence is not dependent on whether we believe He exists or not. If the God of the Bible is real, then whether you believe He is real or not has no affect on His existence, right? What this means is that your ultimate survival is not dependent upon your belief. So if you are an atheists going about life in your merry way not believing that you would be condemned to hell, and if the God of the Bible is real, you will still not be able to escape your final resting place. By the same token, if I believe that God is real and through evaluating the evidence become convinced that God does not exist, it also would not affect the reality of a final destination.

    Finally, with regards to ET and Jesus”.

    Well, actually my response there was in regards to your claim that there was more evidence for ET than Jesus. Do you still think that there is more evidence for ET than Jesus? There can’t be any doubt that the evidence of Jesus is stronger than that for ET.

    Logic dictates that human beings always exaggerate when writing history, be it close to the event or a long time after the event

    Certainly this would also apply to ET encounters, right? Therefore with all things being equal, the evidence for Jesus is still stronger than that for ET. Again, you still have not been able to dispute the fact that these people who exaggerate the gospel are willing to sacrifice their life for this exaggeration. That does not seem logical for someone who is exaggerating.

    100 pages of Bible Notes at the back of the book that are very interesting”.

    It might be interesting but it has not relevance to the reality of the Bible. For whatever reason that author of those notes is making a subjective commentary. It is not my commentary. At the end of the day we need to go back and look at the manuscripts, the authors of the manuscripts, the circumstances when it was written and the authenticity of the accounts. You can always find critics of the Bible, but I am surprise that you are so easily taken in on such commentaries, without evaluating the evidential basis used by the author. I urge you to be as fair to the accuracy of the Bible as you are to the critics of the Bible.

  2. Hi rahoggid,

    I am new to this discussion but wanted to comment on something you stated earlier.

    You said:

    You cannot KNOW that God exists.

    This statement is untrue and I would like to point out a couple of reasons why.

    Firstly, the life, death and, most importantly, the resurrection of Jesus prove that God exists and that Jesus was and is God.

    There is more than enough evidence to accept the resurrection as the ONLY reasonable explanation (as unbelievable as it seems to us) for the historical events that took place in that time 2000 years ago and the subsequent foundation of the church which has always maintained that Jesus rose bodily from death. The evidence for this historival event is such that a reasonable person can come to the point of taking a reasoned, well thought out step of faith of belief in Jesus as God.

    Once this small step is taken a person takes a step over a line if you will and things become very different. The bible describes it as coming out of the kindom of darkness and stepping into the kingdom of light. It is a very apt desciption, for although the step is only a small one of faith, the difference in perspective for those of us on this side of the line is huge. Compare if you will the diffence between living one’s whole life with a blindfold on being unable to see and then being instantly transported to the highest mountain and being shown the whole world.

    Secondly, once you are on this side of the line, you then have the personal experience of knowing God in a personal manner. So I know God exists because He moves, speaks and acts in my life everyday and has done so for the last 16 years.

  3. Hi Ford,

    Welcome to our blog and thank you, that is a great comment.

  4. Welcome Ford.

    I encourage sensitivity and prayer for those that have not experienced miracles in their life. Consider yourself blessed that God has revealed Himself to you. Even if miracles have occurred in your life, their absense in the lives of others is a fact. That is why, I find that argumentation rarely if ever leads one to the Lord, it can only reduce some barriers. It does not create saving faith…..

    The young lady among the atheist and agnostics witnessed a miracle earlier in the life of her best friend. The miracle haunted her for years, but she was still held back intellecuatlly. She heard me talk of ID. I suggested she read 2 books by agnostics: Jastrow and Denton. I did not suggest reading the Bible. I had 30 people pray for her. She decided to read the Bible on her own without my prodding. She became a Christian 6 weeks later.

    Salvador

  5. Hi Salvador,

    You said: That is why, I find that argumentation rarely if ever leads one to the Lord, it can only reduce some barriers. It does not create saving faith”..

    Yes I couldn’t agree more. Evidence by itself can only reduce barriers. The only thing that can produce saving faith is of course the grace of the Lord and the work of the Holy Spirit as is evidenced by your example of the young lady.

  6. My understanding of Intelligent Design is that it brings the concept of a designer for the origin of life into the scientific arena, with a specific focus on an alternative theory to that of evolution. ID does not provide scientific evidence that the universe itself has been designed – for example, if I pick a rock and ask if irreducible complexity applies, the answer is no. Behe even states this in his own words that ID cannot infer design of non-living, uncomplex things. The origin of the universe, outside of the current theories based on observed scientific findings, is one of philosophy not science….this includes the possibility of multiple dimensions that we cannot detect, as well as some mega-verse environment within which our universe exists.

    Likewise, ID, as we have agreed, cannot provide anything about the designer and as of today, there is no scientific evidence to prove the existence of a God like designer or an advanced civilisation in another galaxy. So again, until such scientific evidence is available, the designer is speculation and again in the realms of philosophy, not science.

    ID, as a scientific theory, brings religion and the possibility of the existence of a designer into the science forum for the very first time in human history. ID as a scientific theory challenges that of an unguided, evolutionary process for life. For someone that has no religious belief system, but has a belief system based on the natural, observable environment (like myself), the design inference cannot be ignored. However, as ID does not provide evidence of a designed universe, if I am to remain in the realms of science and not science fiction, I have to accept that there are a number of possibilities for whom the designer of life on planet earth can be….none of which can be proven at this time.

    1. The God of the Bible
    2. The God of one or more of the other belief systems on the planet
    3. A God like being that is not represented accurately in any of the religious texts on our planet
    4. An advance civilisation within our own galaxy
    5. An advance civilisation somewhere within our universe

    My whole point has been that if you are bringing religion into the science arena via ID, science is about analysing the evidence and considering the options. In the same way as those supporters of ID state that ID should be taught in schools as an alternative theory to evolution, then also, those same supporters of retaining an open mind and considering all options should also recognise that the design inference, from a scientific and non-religious perspective, can only lead to the acceptance of multiple possibilities for the identify of the designer, unless they resort to a religious, unscientific basis for the discussion.

    Why would someone like me feel so strongly about this? Simply this…

    My belief system is based on the premise that we exist, period. There is no higher purpose, with this life being a pre-lude and a test to some eternal afterlife. I believe that all people are good or bad, or more commonly somewhere in between, based on the influences in their lives and the decisions they make. I do not assume that all people are bad at birth and need to find the light….faith does not make someone good, actions do. I do not look at Christian’s, Muslims or any other religious group as better or worse than me; they do not have to prove themselves to me and I do not have to prove myself to them. If someone, like the young lady mentioned in the comments above, finds a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose to their life through religious beliefs and this enhances their life, then good for them. That is sincerely the way I feel. However, I know that Christians in general do not feel the same way for someone like myself who is not a believer. You may feel sorry for me; feel I have been misguided; feel that I need to be enlighted; feel that I need to be saved; feel that I need to be converted. But what if you cannot convert me? What if I am not interested in following your belief system, but am happy to continue being a good person, making considerate and compassionate decisions, with actions that are decent and honest. Am I cast out as a lesser human being? I am considered to be in league with the devil? Would a lifetime of original sin that has not be addressed mean that I am implicitly evil?

    As an athiest, I see all people as equals, who should be judged on their actions, for which, in the main, they are accountable for. As a Christian, you will see me as someone that is still standing in the kingdom of darkness, regardless of who I am or what I have done. For this reason I see Christians as being in some way prejudice; you judge me on what I do not believe, and not on who I am as an individual or what how I have lived my life. In your eyes, as a non-believer, my soul will be eternally damned once I die, so if you cannot convert me, or help me to step into the kingdom of light, there is no reason to bother with me anymore….I am already dead.

    Who we are is defined by what we do and how we choose to live our lives. To demonstrate this, consider the following 4 examples:

    1. Person A lives there lives with compassion and consideration, but does not believe in God
    2. Person B lives there life equally to Person A but in their mid forties, they find Jesus and are a devout Christian for the rest of their lives, living as the Bible teaches, not losing faith
    3. Person C has lived a life of crime until their mid forties, including 1 instance of murder and 3 instances of rape, for which they were guilty. In their mid forties they find Jesus and are a devout Christian for the rest of their lives, living as the Bible teaches, not losing faith.
    4. Person D has lived a life of crime until their 70th birthday, including 1 instance of murder and 3 instances of rape, for which they were guilty. In their 70th year, 2 years before they die, they find Jesus and are a devout Christian for the rest of their lives, living as the Bible teaches, not losing faith.

    Which ones will be saved? I assume 2, 3 and 4. If 3 and 4 are not saved who defines what level of sin is acceptable, bearing in mind we are all born as sinners according to Jesus/God, and who defines when it is too late to find Jesus and be saved?

  7. rahoggid,
    You’ve made some statements about ID (re: the universe- see The Privileged Planet), and the history of science (re: religion), which could stand for some further research, but this doesn’t seem to be necessary at this point.
    You have restated again what the implications of The Designer are to you and I find those to be credible inferences from the scientific framework of ID. You seem to have no beef with ID or what its theorists claim or what it implies religiously.

    Again, I will leave the real responses to the owners of this blog but wanted to quickly touch on a couple of your concerns.
    First, a Christian is not to judge – that is Jesus’ job.

    As to your last paragraph, based upon my understanding of scripture I assume with you that 2,3 and 4 are saved but we are not to judge.
    Who is to judge? The Judge. Jesus.
    Who defines when it is too late? Jesus.
    And He gave us a parable about about a man who hired field workers at different intervals during the day as an illustration.

    ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

    “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt.20: 1-16)

    http://www.gracethrufaith.com/selah/parables/the-parable-of-the-workers-in-the-field

    Notice that it is not a matter of exclusion or denial, but of inclusion and receiving freely a gift and opportunity offered.

  8. I’d like to thank everyone for showing restraint in these discussions. These are emotional issues that touch upon everyones deeply held core values. With respect to ID, the door was opened to the possiblity of a designer. I pointed out from physical law alone, God’s existence is scientifically indicated. That is by the way, the promise of God in Roman’s 1:20, that nature will testify of Him so that men are without excuse….

    However, the issue of whether God is personal, whether He is deeply aware is not directly the conclusion of science. But I offer this, if He knows every atom, he must surely know us, and every tear that is shed.

    It certainly would be nice to believe whatever we wish. I am not in that position. Life and the universe look designed by a supreme intelligence. That seems undeniable. The universe itself is a miracle and so is life. Those seem undeniable empirical and theoretical and scientific facts. If Cornell geneticist John Sanford is correct, then the only plausible pathway for human life was an act of special creation. And if the interpretation of DNA’s by various and sundry scientists is correct, then we have indeed descended from Adam and Eve, and that the long lifespans in the Bible were true. Thus the historical account seems VERY credible. Given that possibility, it is possible that maybe the theological claims are true as well.

    It is hypothetically possible the history is correct, but claims of eternal life are an extrapolation by the writers of Scripture. But as Peter once said, when faced with fewer and fewer options, he responded to Jesus by saying, “Who else has words of eternal life?” I know that Darwinism and naturalism cannot scientifically be correct. The theory is a mathematically self defeating hypothesis. I’d at least rather cast my lot where I have a chance of being right versus casting my lot where there is certain error.

    It reminds me when I was flying under poor visibility, and I missed an approach. I climbed out a bit too steeply and began to hear the stall warning horn and saw all my instruments indicating certain death if I did not react. However my emotions and body were telling me the opposite of what all my instrumetns were saying. I had three seconds to decide where to put my faith and trust: the instruments versus my feelings. The situation for my life is not too far. There is good scientific reason to believe:

    1. Supreme Being
    2. Life speicially creted
    3. Adam and Eve

    There is historical reason to believe the Lord did indeed rise from the dead. Whether all these fact combined implies eternal life is a matter of faith, but that body of belief seems far more trustworthy than what the other side has to offer both scientifically and philosophically.

    As on great scientist, Lord Kelvin put it:
    “We have the sober scientific certainty that the heavens and earth shall ‘wax old as doth a garment….”
    Dark indeed would be the prospects of the human race if unilluminated by that light which reveals ‘new heavens and a new earth.”

    If the Scriptures have been shown trust worthy regarding scientific origns, I have reason to find them trustworthy in other matters. So far, so good.

  9. Rahoggid,

    I want to thank you for raising these interesting questions in a respectful way. I can’t really add much to what Daron and Sal has already said. I just have a couple of questions for you.

    You said,

    My belief system is based on the premise that we exist, period. There is no higher purpose

    This reminds me of my favorite atheist, Sartre. Jean-Paul Sartre was correct in stating that man required an infinite reference point in order for life to have any meaning. Since Sartre didn’t believe there was such a reference point, he stated, “Man is absurd, but he must grimly act as if he were not” and “Man is a useless passion.”

    And I completely agree with you and Sartre, absent of an infinite reference point “life is meaningless and without purpose” . So my question to you is how do you reconcile this fact with what you’ve also said?

    As an athiest, I see all people as equals, who should be judged on their actions, for which, in the main, they are accountable for.

    How do you determine what does equal mean and on what basis do you judge in diametrically opposite value claims?

    For this reason I see Christians as being in some way prejudice; you judge me on what I do not believe, and not on who I am as an individual or what how I have lived my life.

    I think there is a misconception of Christians and sometimes with justification. The misconception is that Christians walk around with this “holier than thou” attitude. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Bible tells us that we are all equal before the eyes of God. The only difference between a Christian and a non-believer is that we are saved by grace through faith and this not of yourself but a gift from God. The operative words there are “grace” and “not of yourself” . You see, a Christian has nothing to boast or feel aloof about.

    I know sometimes non-believers find Christian attempts to convert them very irritating. It was for me too, before I became a Christian. What non-believers fail to understand is that Christians are not really trying to convert them; they are trying to lead them from death. Non-believers don’t see the compassion and love that the Christians have for their fellow-man. The apostle Paul loved his country so much that he wished that he would be accursed so that his countrymen could be saved. Not all Christians have the same magnitude for love of their fellow-man; some will work harder than others to save non-believers. Those with greater love might come across as zealots.

    My question to you is that as an atheist, if you see someone is about to walk into a acid bath. Would you not do all you can to try and save that person? Would you shout to him/her to stop and warn them not to take another step? If they don’t see the same as you do, they might consider you as judgmental.

  10. Hi rahoggid,

    You said:

    “My belief system is based on the premise that we exist, period.”

    I wanted to address the first half of your sentence where you refer to your belief system. The importance of belief systems, or what I refer to as a world-view cannot be understated, because each one of us has one, ie a world-view/belief system, whether we know it or not and our world-view affects everything else about us. I wanted to address this issue because I wanted to ask you to consider the possibility that your world-view may in fact, be invalid.

    You may ask how I can dare to suggest that your world-view may be invalid and if that is your reaction I apologise in advance for anything that I say that may offend you. In no way intend do I intend to offend you.

    In these days of political correctness it is ofen stated that one persons’ world view is as valid as someone else’s and that all truth is relative, but is this a valid statement? I content that the answer to that question is an emphatic NO.

    To me, the important question has never been “what is my world-view,” seemingly picking from a series of equal views, kinda like choosing ice cream flavours, but rather “does the world-view that I currently hold match the reality of the world and if so, how closely does it match?” In other words, “is my world-view true or false?” (In fact, isn’t this the essence of the scientific method when related to the science sphere? Let the evidence lead where it will etc.)

    The reason that this is important is because contrary to popular belief there is such a thing as absolute truth. By this I mean that some things are always true regardless of what we believe about them. e.g 2+2 always = 4, it never = 3 or 5 on occasion even if we believe it does. We are of course free to hold the belief that 2+2=5 but does that make it a valid belief? Of course not. What about if we hold that belief sincerely? Does that make it true? Again of course not, it is possible to be sincerely wrong. The reason that the answer to the simple sum of 2+2 =4 and not our own idea of what the answer is is that the truth of the answer exists outside of us and is unalterable by what we choose to believe.

    Given that there is such a thing as absolute truth, would it not make sense to find out the truth about things first and then believe that, rather than form a belief system and then try to impose that belief system upon reality. I would content that it makes very good sense to act this way and I would also contend that the closer one’s world-view comes to matching the actual reality of the world is in some ways a measure of one’s sanity.

    So why do I mention absolute truth? Well, the thing is is that the answer to the question about God and whether He exists or not is an absolute truth, like 4 being the answer to 2+2. God either exists or He doesn’t. If He exists, we cannot make Him go away by not believing in Him and if He doesn’t exist, no amount of earnest faith and belief will make Him exist.

    You said in your post

    “For someone that has no religious belief system, but has a belief system based on the natural, observable environment (like myself), the design inference cannot be ignored.”

    I want to commend you in that comment as it seems from that that you are indeed following the scientific method when you state that “the design inference cannot be ignored.” The evidence from the natural environment is indeed strongly in favour of an intelligent designer. That is all well and good, but I would challenge you to consider whether or not you are taking the same approach when it comes to your philosophical viewpoints as well. Ie, that of letting the evidence lead where it may.

    To put this in context of what you said in your post, you said:

    “My belief system is based on the premise that we exist, period. There is no higher purpose, with this life being a pre-lude and a test to some eternal afterlife. I believe that all people are good or bad, or more commonly somewhere in between, based on the influences in their lives and the decisions they make. I do not assume that all people are bad at birth and need to find the light”.faith does not make someone good, actions do.”

    Now to get back to what I said earlier about the fact that there is such a thing as absolute truth and finding the truth about things and believing that, from looking at your statement of belief, we can see that it matters very little what you (or I for that matter) believe about anything. All that matters is this question: Are your beliefs consistent with reality? If your beliefs are consistent with reality then yours is a valid viewpoint. If they are not consistent with reality, then the only honest choice is to admit that and adjust them to fit reality.

    From you statement above, logic dictates that your beliefs are only valid if God does not exist. If God does exist, then it’s possible that he may disagree with you about what you believe about the state of the world and creation including man. If God exists, Would not a sensible person want to find out what He has to say about life, the universe and everything and then believe that?

    If we compare what you believe to what the God of the bible says about man, we find some striking differences.

    You said: “I believe that all people are good or bad, or more commonly somewhere in between…I do not assume that all people are bad at birth and need to find the light””

    The God of the bible says:

    The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9)

    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

    There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

    and were by nature children of wrath… (Ephesians 2:3)

    sold under sin (Romans 7:14)

    So it seems that the God of the bible appears to disagree with you on this point and He views man (including you and I) somewhat differently than you. You are of course free to continue to disagree with Him, but that is a very unwise course of action because if He exists and makes up all the rules, then He gets the last word. Getting back to the mathematical example it would be the equivalent of believing (no matter how sincerely) that the answer to 2+2 is 5 or 3 or something else entirely. It’s just plain incorrect and you will fail the maths test. (or in this case, the life test)

    You also said: “faith does not make someone good, actions do.”

    The God of the bible says:

    For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ” BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Romans 1:16-18

    Now that no one is justified by the Law (Good actions) before God is evident; for, ” THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
    Galatians 3:10-12

    …man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Romans 3:28)

    For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Romans 4:3)

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand… (Romans 5:1-2)

    One again, it seems that the God of the bible is disagreeing with you. Again, wouldn’t it be prudent to find out if He is telling the truth?

    Rahoggid, I wonder if you have arrived at your belief system not through rational consideration of the evidence and letting it lead where it may, but rather as a personal preference or perhaps and inherited belief system from parents/friends/peers etc. Most athiests I have met have never taken the time to seriously examine the evidence for God and I suspect that you may be among them.

    I would again challenge you to consider your belief system and ask yourself the question.. what if God really does exist? And What about Jesus? He made some starling claims about Himself. (ie claiming to be God etc) What if He was telling the truth? I challenge you to consider seriously His claims.

  11. Thanks to all for taking the time to respond to my comments. I started to try and provide a combined response to cover all your points but it became a little too hard to do….so I have responded to your comments as individuals. This comment covers Daron’s response and the following comments cover the others respectively.

    Daron, first of all thank you for the reference in the Bible that explains who will be saved. That is something that has always puzzled me. However, the answer does surprise me.

    The Third Principle in the link you provided implies that once you have accepted Jesus and are ‘in’, sinning does not result in you no-longer being saved. This seems to be me remove any accountability – ie. a Christian can feel safe in the knowledge that they will have eternal life because they truely have faith in God, and knowing that this physical life is effectively just the test, it does not really matter what they do in this life – they have already passed, they are already saved. To me that is scary. I am not surprised that there are often (not wanting to generalise too much) people who are religious and also carry out extreme actions, in the name of their religion (across all religious groups).

    Also, I’d like to pick up on your point that Christians do not judge. I rest my case with the comment below from Ford Prefect, who is challenging me to reconsider my belief system as he does not think it is based on reality. If the purpose of that whole comment is not about getting me to see the light, to move over to his belief system, then I don’t what is. My measured response to Ford Prefect will follow shortly…

    But to answer your point directly, consider the following situation:

    2 work colleagues meet for the first time in a meeting room. Both arrive slightly early for the meeting and introduce themselves to one another. They get chatting and the first guy starts talking about his family life, his hobbies, etc, etc and is an all round decent guy. The second guy is also a decent guy. Basically we have 2 people that by any measurement would be upstanding citizens and represent the very best of mankind. The second guy is a Christian and asks the first guy if he is a Christian. The first guy replies “No. I respect those that have such beliefs, but I do not subscribe to them myself”.

    At this point, I challenge you to say here – not lying and then confessing the sin afterwards ;o) – that your view of that person would not change. To use a psychology term – I am sure you would then see yourself as “OK” and the other person as “Not OK”. ie. they need some help/guidance in some way. You may be sad to hear that they are not a Christian when such an emotion is irrelevant to the beliefs of this guy – ie. he may be sad that you feel that way as you are assuming some relevance to his lack of belief that is irrelevant to him. Bottom line, in this sort of situation, I cannot see any situation where the Christian would not in some way see the person as needing help or guidance, which is a judgement based on applying your own belief system onto another, whereby that belief system is based on faith and not evidence – ie. there is no scientific evidence that humans have an eternal soul and will be saved – it is purely a matter of faith.

  12. Salvador,

    You’ll have to forgive me, but I am not so easily persuaded by any evidence I have seen to-date for the existence of God and all that goes with it – eg. Miracles by Jesus, an Eternal Soul, etc. I do not dispute that the universe and life are a miracle, in the sense that it is amazing we are here, but to say that “Life and the Universe look designed by a supreme intelligence. That seems undeniable.” is a claim that cannot be supported in my view. This may be an opporunity to comment on “The Privileged Planet”, to explain my reasoning. I’ll do this with my own short ‘film’ (some imagination needed) called “The Privileged Person”.

    The Privileged Person
    ———————

    Six years ago, the first and only ever Global Lottery was held where every individual on the planet over the age of 18 years old was given a unique set of 10 numbers, and there was one lucky winner from that lottery that received a vast sum of money and a place in human history.

    Over that six years, not believing how lucky she could have been, Lucy decided to investigate how she had come to win the lottery. To do this she took all the detailed video footage of the lottery draw, including all the preparation and the draw itself and she obtained access to the actual machine and balls that were used for the draw.

    On analysing this over the last 5 years, Lucy made some astounding discoveries. She came to realise that if any one thing had been slightly different, she would not have won. If the balls had been slightly heavier or lighter, slightly larger or smaller, and each ball did not have the exact same imperfections in their outer shells, then the way the balls would have interacted inside the cylinder would have been different. If the balls had not been stacked in columns of 5, but had been in columns of 4 or 6, the way the balls fell and then initially interacted in the cylinder would have been different. If the cylinder in which the balls fell was slightly heavier or lighter, was slightly larger or smaller, was made of a different material, did not have the same minute imperfections on the inner lining of the cylinder, then the way the balls bounced around inside the cylinder would have been different. In fact, any small ajustment in any of the set up would have resulted in a different outcome. Even the point at which the person pressed the button had to be exact, otherwise the imperfections in the inner cylinder would not have started to interact with the balls in the same way resulting in a different outcome.

    Having now completed this analysis, Lucy has come to recognise that the probabilities of her winning the lottery as a matter of chance are unimaginable. Everything just had to perfect, and the combination of factors had to be perfect. Lucy has now come to believe that this was no fluke; it is now clear to Lucy that these events had to have come together by some greater design; Lucy believes that she is a Privileged Person.

    The End
    ——-

    The Privileged Planet uses this premise. The premise is fatally flawed. If any of those things were not right, we would not be here to ask the questions. The fact that we are is not in itself evidence of design. It is only evidence of what circumstances were needed for us to be here – ie. for an environment to exist that sustains our type of life – as the Privileged Planet does not address evolution, only our planet’s environment.

  13. You’ll have to forgive me, but I am not so easily persuaded by any evidence I have seen to-date for the existence of God and all that goes with it –

    rahoggid,

    I thank you for responding. Thank you for taking the time to watch privileged planet. The reason however, I suggested you watch it, was NOT that you become persuaded by an ID fine-tuning arguments, but that I could discuss something your websit said:

    Firstly I am not a scientist and neither have I been raised to believe in any particular faith. The Theory of Evolution appears to me to be the most likely explanation about why we exist, but I am also open to the idea of Intelligent Design as it is clearly possible that life as we know it was infact designed by an intelligent civilisation and placed here on earth sometime in the past. However, in my view, the least likely scenerio is that an intelligent civilisation or a single designer created the universe.

    On watching the Privileged Planet, I hope it will be evident that it’s unlikely an intelligent civilization (as in a civilization of human-like beings) could create the entire universe. IT is simply too vast. I wanted to make sure we were on the same page as to just how difficult it would be for a civiliztion, unless they were truly God-like to create a universe of the dimensions as seen in privileged planet. The angle I was looking at was not fine-tuning, it was power!

    Before the discussion of the lotter example, I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page as far as the basic facts of the size of our universe.

  14. rahoggid,

    By the way, the lottery example has some parallel in what is known as the Weak Anthropic Principle. Wheeler, Barrow, Tipler have formulated much bolder Anthropic Principles:

    1. Strong Anthropic Principle
    2. Participatory Anthropic Principle
    3. Final Anthropic Principle

    What the other formulations essentially ask is, even if the lottery example is true (and that is only hypothetical), why should the lottery exist in the first place?

    Salvador

  15. Teleologist, thanks for your considered response. I’ll try and answer your questions.

    Every life form on this planet, (excluding Human Beings for the moment), has no purpose other than to survive as an individual and as a species. They are driven by the need for energy and the need to produce more of themselves.

    However, what all mammals, reptiles and birds have in common with Human Being’s is a belief system of sorts. My cat recently fell in our small pond and got quite wet. Up until this point my cat would happily go to the edge of the pond and watch the fish. However, my cat now steers clear of the pond. At some level the cat now fears the pond, and at some level believes that going near the pond may result in an unpleasant experience. Now this belief may not be as developed as a human being’s ability to believe, but let’s consider another example. My cat has never fallen out of an upstairs window or had any great fall. Therefore, my cat does not jump out of the upstairs window out of fear from a previous experience. At some level my cat recognises that it is too high and ‘believes’ that to jump from that height will not be a good thing to do for it’s continued survival.

    So what about us human beings? There is no denying that we have the same drivers as these other life forms – ie. to obtain energy to survive and to create more of ourselves. These drivers are fact, not fiction. So what about our belief system? In the same way as my cat, I have never fallen from a tall building, but I believe that if I was to jump from a tall building to the concrete below, it will not be conducive to my survival.

    One other common thing that I have with my cat, is that we both have an imagination of sorts. My cat cannot see that its food bowl is still in the same place, but it doesn’t spend each day every day trying to find it each time. My cat knows where it is. How? It remembers. The act of remembering means that my cat can in some way ‘picture’ where it’s food bowl is and head back to it from the neighbour’s garden quite happily. Again, this imagination is key to survival. Without it the cat would not be able to ‘picture’ anything that its 5 senses could not sense at that time. This imagination is also needed for human survival – both in the stone age to imagine where the best place to hunt might be, and today to imagine what might happen if that person in front of us on the motorway keeps swerving in and out of the lanes like a maniac.

    So where is all this leading. Quite simply this. Our belief system and our imagination are key to our survival, in fact we would not survive without them. People would keep doing things that were detrimental to their health if they had no belief system. Of course one key difference between humans and virtually all other life forms is that we are self-aware. Tthe problem with this is that, having comprehended that we exist, we can then comprehend that we can cease to exist. Therefore our belief sytem now includes the belief that all things come to an end. All things die. Be it a galaxy, a sun or a human being. So in the knowledge that we will die – fact – part of our survival system is to ensure we have a belief to counter that – and this is where purpose comes in. Believing we have a purpose, provides some meaning to offset the knowledge that we will die.

    Couple this with a powerful imagination and a lack of knowledge about the environment around us, and before you know it we are imagining a life beyond death, based on God like beings who will save us from ourselves. What greater purpose could there be than to live this life in order to have eternal life after death. However, at the same time we do not want to have any criteria that could exclude someone from reaching this goal, thereby making the purpose irrelevant, so lets base this afterlive on the belief system itself….ie. all you have to do to have purpose is to believe in a God like being. Everyone can believe, so no one is excluded.

    However, now that we are starting to understand the world around us – for example, I now know that this Thunder and Lightning storm is not an angry God punishing me for having doubts about him this morning, but is instead a combination of factors based on the eco system of the planet – and now that survival is more a given than a challenge – for example, I can pop to the shop to feed my family instead of having to travel for days at a time, etc, etc. – there is time to consider a different purpose. One that is not based on my individual survival, but one that is based on the continued survival of human beings. Eternal life is not about me as an individual having faith in an unseen God, for myself to be saved, regardless of how I live my life; but my purpose is to live my life in a way that ensures (in some small way) the eternal life of human beings.

    This does not require faith in God; just faith in myself and faith in other human beings to do the right thing for our ulimate existence. Doing the right thing is based on actions, as it is actions that change the world and it is actions that make progress. If all you need to do is have faith in an unseen being to save yourself, what incentive is there for you to do anything other than eat and pro-create.

    So now to the question of what is the right thing? This is simple. If the action I am about to take, I would not like done to me, then it is wrong. For example, if I am about to steal a persons money, and I know that I would not like this done to me, then it is wrong. Secondly, if my action puts the utlimate existence of the human race in jeopardy, such as cutting down all the trees on the planet, then this is also wrong.

    Now to your acid bath question. Firstly, physical death is a fact. Live after death is a matter of faith – ie. no proof whatsoever that a person’s soul lives after death. However, the answer to your question on one level is not so straight forward. What if this person believes that the acid will not hurt them. If I believe that it will, and try to convince them, am I not guilty of the same thing that I accuse you of? Possibly, but with one subtle and very important difference. When I tell that person that the acid will kill them, and they say I don’t believe you, I can say “Let me prove it to you”. I can then demonstrate what the acid will do to an inanimate object and the person will recognise that my belief is the absolute truth. Acid kills. When a Christian says “Do you know that if you do not open yourself to Jesus your eternal soul will not be saved” and I respond “Prove it to me?”, you cannot. You may believe it is the absolute truth, but that is belief based on faith alone. You cannot prove to me that your belief is the absolute truth, and you cannot even prove to yourself that it is the absolute truth, you can only try and persuade me that it is. Also, if I do not believe you then my current life is unaffected (unlike the acid example), and infact, if I do not believe you, my life that I have is the only one and is unaffected.

  16. Ford Prefect,

    Thank you for confirming my belief that Christians just can’t help themselves from judging my belief system, and seeing me as someone that is misguided, etc. As a Christian, is it not inappropriate to suggest that my believe system is wrong? Is this not something that only Jesus/God will decide after I die? I am not questioning your belief system – I am happy for you to believe in God – as I said before – if this provides you with a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and is a catalyst for you to be a ‘good’ person, then this is fine with me, and infact, if you read my response to Teleologist above, you will see that the end result of your belief is not incompatible with mine. This therefore implies, that my belief is not imcompatible with yours, with one acception, you believe I will not be saved when I die, whilst I believe that there is no life after death, period. Therefore, in either way I cannot lose and you cannot lose. You will be saved. I do not believe I will be saved, so do not expect to be saved, and won’t be saved.

    I also fully agree that there is an absolute truth, regardless of what we believe. And this has been part of my general input to this discussion, that as we cannot know the absolute truth at this time, it seems inappropriate to me to settle on one possible truth to the exclusion of all others. Unfortunately, your belief means you have to, as to consider that God does not exist is not an option for you. Whereas for me, I can consider all sorts of possibilities – including or excluding God like beings. Clearly, the problem here is that you believe you know the absolute truth. That is a huge claim, and infact if it can be substantiated with supporting evidence, testable theories and first hand witness testimony to the accounts in question, then you will certainly change the world as we know it. But I expect that if such knowledge existed we would not be having this discussion and I would be memorising the Bible as we speak.

    You seem to have missed a fundamental point. I do not believe the same as you. Statements such as “So it seems that the God of the bible appears to disagree with you on this”…I see as irrelevant. In order for me to take any view on this statement I have to consider the possibility that God exists, which although I accept as a possibility, I do not accept it in the context of the Bible.

    This statement is also meaningless to me: “Most athiests I have met have never taken the time to seriously examine the evidence for God and I suspect that you may be among them.” Not only have you belittled my own beliefs, by implying they are invalid, but you are coming across as delusional. Sorry to be so hard on you, but you are coming across as a stereo typical religious enthusiast.

    Finally, to your challenge: “I would again challenge you to consider your belief system and ask yourself the question.. what if God really does exist?”. I have considered it. I have read some, but not all of the Bible, and I have concluded that even if God does exist, the Bible is not the words of God, it is the words of human beings. Why? For such a powerful designer to make 2 amoral beings (Adam and Eve who did not understand the difference between Good and Evil), ask them to obey him, and then to punish them for all time, because, surprise surprise, they didn’t obey him….oh yes, and not only did he not accept responsibility for this first disobedience, but he neither showed compassion, understanding or empathy and was as spiteful as anyone could be. Also, as I have recently come to understand – he is full of self importance – ie. he will save you if you have faith in him, not on how well you live your life – ie. if you believe in me I will save you, if you don’t I won’t, period. IOW, a person’s only purpose is to have faith in him, not to achieve anything, not to help others, not to be a good citizen, but just to serve him.

    Sorry if you do not like reading these words. But you see, I do not believe that the God of the Bible exists. I believe the Bible is a collection of writings from human beings, who wrote what they had come to believe, based on a world that they could not fully comprehend, at a time when they were trying to find some moral basis and purpose for life, which was then hijacked by those who saw how powerful it could be at controlling the people – ie. that become the Church.

    As I said before, I can happily accept your belief as your belief, but it seems you are finding it hard to accept my belief as my belief. I’m sure in the past wars have been started over less, but without wanting to take the moral high ground, it is ironic that you view non-Christians as sinners and question the validity of their belief system, leaving yourselves on the edge of sinning and asking for forgiveness to God, whereas a non-Christian’s belief system fully acommodates and accepts the Christian belief system, and treats Christians in a way that would be expected of a Christian to a non-Christian. What does that tell you?

  17. To the Christian Gentleman here,

    Rahoggid may have said somethings some of you may find distressing. Having mingled with atheists for many years and occasionally seeing that a few become Chrsitians, I can tell you that coversations like these can go on for years, sometimes without any resolution. If one tries to win arguments of this sort, it becomes futile. Rather simply take it as an opportunity to understand and argue the issues better and to practice how to graciously articulate the Christian faith.

    It was because I was civil in debate with many atheists, that a young agnostic girl on the sidelines, upon seeing my arguments and my interaction with the atheists, became a Christian 6 weeks later.

    But rather than argue theology and philosophy and world views, I recommend arguing facts as a forensic detective would do. This tends to reduce a lot o animosity.

    Salvador

  18. rahoggid,

    Thanks for the story about your cat and survival. I will get to that a little later. But you’ve never answer my first question. The fault is mine because I was not clearer. Let me try it again.

    You said,

    As an athiest, I see all people as equals, who should be judged on their actions, for which, in the main, they are accountable for.

    I am using your premise that “all people” as “equals” then your claim that they should be “judged” and held “accountable” . From this I asked, if “all people” are equal and there are different values among “all people” , how is it possible to determine one value statement from another, because one value statement will necessarily be as valid/equal as the other? i.e. The Night Stalker has a value construct that allow him to rape and kill people. Or the beltway shooters who get a kick of killing people at a distance. I assume you think these are heinous acts, but that poses a problem. What gives you the right to ” judge” these actions to be wrong, if “all people” are “equal” ?

    In your response to my question you said,

    So now to the question of what is the right thing? This is simple. If the action I am about to take, I would not like done to me, then it is wrong.

    This does not address the core of my question at all. I am not asking what you think is the “right thing” . I am asking what gives you or the collective majority the power to even declare/judge that an action is right or wrong? According to your premise “all people” are “equal” .

    Your other objection to my acid bath question also slightly misses my point. You said,

    one subtle and very important difference. When I tell that person that the acid will kill them, and ” I can then demonstrate what the acid will do to an inanimate object

    Analogies sometimes can be taken too far. The point of this analogy was to highlight the sincerity of the person that is trying to convey a concern for another human being. Do you remember why I ask this question? I asked it in response to your accusation that Christians are prejudiced against non-believers. The whole point of this analogy was not about proof. I was just trying to get you to understand that your perception of prejudice was actually a sincere concern by the Christians for your well being. I don’t know what ford’s motivation was but it could very well be for your welfare. Also while you are upset about ford or Christians judging you, what about your judgment of ford or Christians?

    I sometimes wonder why non-believers are so concerned about being judged. I think it might be the sinful nature of Man to avoid judgment by God. It might be this rebellious nature that causes the non-believer to protest against being judged. I also think it is this same sinful nature that causes people to fight back and tries to judge God, making themselves to be hypocrites for doing that which they protest against.

    Switching gears, since you’ve mentioned about proof, I didn’t want to just let that go by. You seem to intimate the significance of demonstrable proof for claims. How is it that you are able to so easily accept the lack of demonstrable proof for evolution and origin of life? Have you seen or read any demonstration of life from non-life? Have you seen or read any demonstration of a bacteria turning into a Homo sapiens?

    Finally I want to get back to your discussion about purpose and survival. I don’t see survival as a purpose. First, according to your definition survival is innate in all living matter. All living matter is in a constant state of change until at some point it ceases to change. The cessation of change is death. In one sense according to your definition then the only purpose a living being have is death not survival, because that is the ultimate end of all living being. They will all reach a point of non-change. At the most, your definition of purpose is too base to have any value or meaning at all.

    The other problem with your definition of purpose is that you have no basis for that definition. Where does your purpose come from? You claim that the purpose is survival. Why? Why is there an innate survival predisposition? Is it due to some chemical reaction? What is the protein or molecule that creates this innate need to survive? A bacterium has an innate predisposition to survive by avoiding predation, why? Your claim of survival as a purpose has not basis on fact or demonstrable proof.

    The value of purpose is much nobler than your definition, as Sartre understands it better than most. Purpose is the reason for existence. Why do we survive? Why do we exist? Why do we have an innate sense of morality, having the ability to differentiate goodness as love, kindness, gentleness, nobility, beauty or evil as murder, selfishness, greed, pride, hate? Motivation and premeditation is what gives purpose. Do you understand what Sartre meant when he said that purpose must proceed from an infinite reference point?

    Let me summarize my question so it doesn’t get lost in this long post.
    1. I asked, if “all people” are equal and there are different values among “all people” , how is it possible to determine one value statement from another, because one value statement will necessarily be as valid/equal as the other? I am asking what gives you or the collective majority the power to even declare/judge that an action is right or wrong?
    2. I was just trying to get you to understand that your perception of prejudice was actually a sincere concern by the Christians for your well being.
    3. How is it that you are able to so easily accept the lack of demonstrable proof for evolution and origin of life, when you demand demonstrable proof for God?
    4. Motivation and premeditation is what gives purpose. Do you understand what Sartre meant when he said that purpose must proceed from an infinite reference point?

  19. Sal,

    If one tries to win arguments of this sort, it becomes futile.

    I agree. I also had many years and countless encounters with atheists and some of them friends and relatives. I can honestly say that I have never won an argument yet.
    As Peter once said, “Always be ready to give an answer to every one who asks you for the hope that you have, but with gentleness and respect.”

  20. Ford Prefect and others, I have just read back my response to Ford having since had my dinner, and I can see that I obviously wrote from the heart and that it may be offensive to those that do not have my world view. For that I sincerely apologise. I was just trying to get the key message across that although you believe I need saving, I do not believe that I do, and therefore I ask that you respect that belief, and not try and change it.

    Sincere apologies for any offense caused.

  21. Salvador,

    Thanks for the reference to the Anthropic Principle. I have just looked it up and see that in essence my lottery example is based on this same premise….and there I was thinking I was being unique!

    Also, thanks for the clarification of the purpose of The Privileged Planet. I now see where you were coming from – in terms of ‘Power’ versus fine-tuning. I still stand by my lottery example, but it is also an interesting question about why the lottery should exist in the first place. I only see two alternatives, of which only one is logical.

    1. At some point nothing existed and then suddenly something existed – nothing become something
    2. Something has always existed, but our minds find it difficult to comprehend, and therefore accept infinity in this way

    To me only option 2 is really logical. If nothing exists at all, then nothing cannot become something – ie. I’m not talking about empty space with a few molecules roaming around as the definition of nothing – I mean absolutely nothing. Option 2 has to be the only answer for the reason stated that rejects option 1. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that our universe itself is infinite, but that existence of matter in some form is infinite.

    Just because we find it hard to accept infinity does not mean it is not the absolute truth.

    This question always seems to be asked about evolution – life coming from unguided processes, and then where did the universe come from? As you have implicitly asked. What I find interesting is that an intelligent designer requires raw materials, tools and methods to design something. Even if those raw materials are subatomic particles in a jar. Even if there is a dimension outside of our senses where this designer exists, that does not change the premise that either those raw materials already existed in our dimension, or the designer created our dimension and put those materials in our dimension.

    At the end of the day, the first designer either always existed in an environment where there were raw materials to use, or the designer didn’t always exist in which case we back to “who designed the first designer”…which can only be concluded that the first designer came about by chance, via an unguided process as there was no designer existing to create the first one.

    My educated guess, is that matter has always existed, but our minds are not able to accept this as everything we know has a beginning and an end, and infinity goes against this fundamental belief.

  22. rahoggid,

    Ah, a full stomach is always conducive to a mellower demeanor. 😀
    You have not said any more than what I’ve heard many times from atheists. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard a lot worse. Maybe I’ve become thick skinned; I take no offense at what you’ve said. As Sal said, this is a highly charged issue and we all have a lot of personal investment in these issues. Some expression of anger and frustration is expected on both sides.

  23. Rahoggid,
    Thanks for your comments.
    After reading them I went for a run and have returned to see that Sal and Teleologist have made a fine reply.
    For that reason, and to save me much time I don’t really have I want to present a few observations/comments/questions, but will not be able to back them up with references.
    Please do not take the brevity as curtness.

    1) Reading from the bottom up, I see a nice apology from you to Ford. Well done.
    However, in it you say:

    For that I sincerely apologise. I was just trying to get the key message across that although you believe I need saving, I do not believe that I do, and therefore I ask that you respect that belief, and not try and change it.

    Two thoughts a) If you are American then more than 80% of the people you meet are Christian. Given that, I would expect that the number you find trying to change your beliefs are an infinitesimally small minority of Christians. In my own life almost all of the conversations I have had with atheists on these issues have been initiated by them.
    b) You have come to a Christian’s website to share your views for some purpose and should expect to hear others’ views.
    2) You and I agreed on who would be saved in your example

    Daron, first of all thank you for the reference in the Bible that explains who will be saved. That is something that has always puzzled me. However, the answer does surprise me.

    . Just out of curiosity, why do you say then that Jesus’ parable demonstrating this concept is surprising to you?
    3)

    The Third Principle in the link you provided implies that once you have accepted Jesus and are ‘in’, sinning does not result in you no-longer being saved. This seems to be me remove any accountability – ie. a Christian can feel safe in the knowledge that they will have eternal life because they truly have faith in God, and knowing that this physical life is effectively just the test, it does not really matter what they do in this life – they have already passed, they are already saved. To me that is scary.

    This is not an accurate description of the Christian belief.
    The concept is that in becoming a Christian you are reborn, you shed the old man, the sinful character, and you seek first the kingdom of God.
    Our admonition is to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and then also to love our neighbors as ourselves. This does not allow a Christian, a true believer and follower of Christ, to be willfully committing sins as though he has a get-out-of-jail-free card.
    Yes, we are all sinners, and will lapse and continue to sin, but the desire and the effort to follow Christ and not sin are paramount in the faith.
    There is a major divide, theologically between whether Christians are saved by faith alone, or faith and works. Despite their disagreements over priority, both sides of the divide agree that a true demonstration of faith is works, ie: if one is a Christian that belief will be reflected in their behaviour.
    The mistake made by those who just accept that to believe and to have faith are enough is to use colloquial versions of these words.
    Having faith in God is not merely accepting that there is a God, but living by that belief. After all, even the demons believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.
    One example I heard was that you can have a belief that a tight-rope walker can push a wheelbarrow across a wire stretched over Niagara Falls, but to have faith that he can is to get in the wheelbarrow as he does it.
    Faith requires action.

    4) I’m going to leave the concern between you and Ford as to what it means to be judged by him. However, in your example to me, in order to prove that Christians judge, you seem to have reduced ‘judgment’ to ‘having an opinion’.

    At this point, I challenge you to say here – not lying and then confessing the sin afterwards ;o) – that your view of that person would not change.

    Everything we learn about a person affects our view of that person but that is neither prejudging, nor judging – it is discerning.
    You may believe that photons are waves acting as particles and I may believe that they are particles that act as waves.This does not entail either of us thinking the other a “bad” person.
    You might, God forbid :), think Pepsi is a superior beverage to Coca Cola. I may disagree, and we may discuss the merits, but that is not judging someone. Perhaps you are a vegetarian and believe that my taste for redmeat is dangerous to my health. Thinking that I may suffer consequences for my belief (my mistaken belief, to the vegetarian’s way of thinking) is not wrong.
    Sharing what we believe to be the truth, and disagreeing, as you have done here, is not the same as judging.

    Beyond that, you seem to have somewhat misunderstood what it means, in a Christian sense, to “judge” .
    When I say that only God, or only Jesus, judges us that is to say that no man on earth can determine whether or not you are saved and what your fate will be.
    We can tell you what our opinion is as to what is true based upon our beliefs and studies. But it is not our place to say “it is a fact that you are damned.”
    On the other hand, since the atheist doesn’t believe in a soul, God, or damnation at any rate, why should this concern them? I doubt anyone who didn’t believe in Santa Claus would care if someone warned him that staying up too late might stop Santa from visiting.
    5) deleted
    6) You offer that you believe in the “possibility” that God exists, but I wonder if this is accepted as a true possibility or only a logical possibility. For instance, it is logically “possible” that I will self-combust in the next five minutes, but I don’t really accept that as a true possibility.
    On the other hand ( and let me use an overly emotional case to make a point) say you truly believe that it is possible (even remotely) that if you leave your baby with a certain sitter that your baby will be tortured and murdered. If this is not just a logical possibility, ie: I can’t prove that neither this sitter, nor anyone on earth, will not do such a thing, but instead is a true possibility, is there really any chance that you would leave your child with her?

    Two things come to mind as I type this 1) wouldn’t you want someone to warn you about that sitter? 2)what would you do once warned?
    If the existence of God is truly a possibility in your mind then the consequences of that possibility, and your actions, are far greater than even in the baby scenario.

  24. Teleologist, apologies for not answering your questions…here goes:

    1. I asked, if “all people” are equal and there are different values among “all people” , how is it possible to determine one value statement from another, because one value statement will necessarily be as valid/equal as the other? I am asking what gives you or the collective majority the power to even declare/judge that an action is right or wrong?

    The power comes from the same place that the church gets it power. From a collective of people with similar values.

    Within a single family, it is likely that all members will have the same values, however, in isolation it is hard to know whether their values are right or wrong (ie. acceptable to others). All that is known is these values enable this family to survive. If they meet another family and their values are compatible then they are now stronger in numbers. If many families with compatible values meet then they may form a town, or a city or a country. If a family with incompatible values tries to join the town, they may not be accepted, in which case they will have to fend for themselves. This is risky, as they will be isolated and not have the benefits of many hands and eyes. Over time, the values of the family may change to be more aligned to the majority (this may happen with the next generation who spend time in the town early on in their lives and come to learn and accept the towns values). However, if the outsider family was to find other families with compatible values to it, then a second town will be born. It is these differences in values that are the root cause of all conflict on the planet. Right and wrong is defined solely by what is considered acceptable to the majority, but only for the prime benefit of that majority.

    2. I was just trying to get you to understand that your perception of prejudice was actually a sincere concern by the Christians for your well being.

    That is fair enough…….and likewise, I am sincerely concerned for your well being as you are clearly delusional as you believe in supernatural beings. Catch that feeling that just ran through your body and that is how I feel when you apply your belief system to me – ie. the same as when I apply my belief system to you.

    3. How is it that you are able to so easily accept the lack of demonstrable proof for evolution and origin of life, when you demand demonstrable proof for God?

    In a nutshell I don’t. My whole point has been that there is no demonstrable proof for either and therefore, I am happy to accept both options as possible. In doing so I implicitly exclude myself from finding Jesus, as I cannot consider evolution to be a possiblity without also accepting the possibility that God does not exist, which means that I cannot be a devout Christian. And this is my point for Christians – your belief system has to exclude all others otherwise you have to consider/accept the possibility that God does not exist, even though there is no demonstrable proof for our origin.

    The only time I request demonstrable proof is when I am told that my belief system is invalid, as God is the absolute truth. If God is the absolute truth then there must be demonstrable evidence to support this.

    4. Motivation and premeditation is what gives purpose. Do you understand what Sartre meant when he said that purpose must proceed from an infinite reference point?

    To be honest, when I first read this I was not 100% sure I understood it, but I have re-read and now believe I understand. However, although Satre is an athiest, I do not share the same belief as him. The fact that I can ask the question “What is our purpose?” does not mean that an answer exists. In the same way as when I ask “What is a widget-dingo?” it does not mean a widget-dingo exists. Purpose is not the reason for existence, it is a question that we are capable of asking. The reason we ponder life, the universe and everything is that we have the time to do so, and we have the ability to communicate thoughts and ideas to feed the imagination. Survival is now a given at an individual level, and has been to a lesser degree for a couple of thousand years at least, and as we can also now control pro-creation, we have time to standback and ask questions such as “Why are we here?”, and define and apply science and phylosophy to that end.

    When it comes to running over the person in the road or picking them up – this comes back to values. If my values are to typically hurt someone at every opportunity, then I am most likely going to run the man over. However, although such people do exist, these values are not accepted by the majority and therefore, these values are not mainstream. Morality comes from these values….if everyone killed indiscriminently on a daily basis, it would not take long for no more humans to exist – as we can kill faster than we can replace them. These values are for the benefit of the group that applies them.

  25. rahoggid,

    1. I am not asking you about the perceived benefit of collective value. My question for an atheist, like yourself, is what makes your value more valid than another person’s value? Did you read my example regarding the serial killers? Please don’t try to avoid the internal conflict of atheism as illustrated by that example.

    2. Well if you are serious and sincerely concern about my well being than that is fine. Most Christians risk their lives, time, and energy to spread the gospel to those whom we believe are doomed. For those who go on mission trips to country that kill Christians just for proselytizing is not a mere intellectual exercise. It is a putting their compassion and concern into action. Atheists are welcome to mock and criticize it but it doesn’t change those that put their lives on the line for strangers. When you can show me a mass collection of atheists who cares enough about these delusional Christians to risk their lives for these strangers, then maybe we have some basis for comparison.

    3. Well at least we agree that there is no demonstrable proof for Darwinism. However, your justification for your demand of demonstrable proof is illogical. As from the very beginning of this conversation, we have stated very clearly that we have no absolute proof for God. All we have been saying is that God is a necessary conclusion from the available evidence. As a result of our conclusion it necessarily asserts your atheist view is wrong. You somehow find this as intolerable and insist that Christianity should accept your atheistic view with as much validity as my Christian view. This is inane. The fact that you refer to yourself as an atheist already indicates that you are not open to other possibilities and hostile to Christianity. Hostile in the sense that Atheism denies the existence of a god and is intolerant of my view.

    Furthermore, just because we have a diametrically opposing worldviews, it doesn’t mean that I must provide demonstrable proof, especially, when your worldview have no such ability to do the same. This is neither scientific nor logical.

    4. Actually that is not what Sartre meant. He is not saying the ability to think of purpose therefore there must be a purpose, in fact he is saying the opposite. His existential view denies an Absolute, such as God, and since there is no God therefore all things are possible. (sound familiar?) What Sartre is saying is that existence (survival) is all that there is. The purpose in life is to assert one’s existence. In that sense there is no “value” difference between running someone over with your car and giving that person a ride.

    There is an intrinsic conflict with Atheism. Atheism demands amorality and yet most atheists is incapable to live according to their faith. The atheist faced with such contradiction will run back to the excuse that moral values are a product of majority consensus. This is again silly because if the majority agree that the extermination of the Jews is a good thing, does that make it morally right? More importantly it fails to answer my question of how it is possible to absolutely refute an opposing view as wrong. All you have done is to show that more people affirm one view over another. It provides no value to which view is right or wrong. Is it logical to live and hold to a view that is self-contradictory? I couldn’t do it.

  26. Hi Rahoggid

    I wanted to write a short note as I don’t have time at the moment to answer all the points raised by your earlier postings. I will write more later.

    I did want to comment on one thing that you said to teleologist with obvious reference to my earlier post.

    You said:

    “The only time I request demonstrable proof is when I am told that my belief system is invalid, as God is the absolute truth. If God is the absolute truth then there must be demonstrable evidence to support this.”

    The fact is is that there is demonstrable evidence to support the claim that God is the absolute truth. His name is Jesus and His life, death and resurrection demonstrate that He is God. The evidence clearly points to the fact that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be and the evidence provides proof, beyond reasonable doubt, that God exists.

    Notice that I said beoyond reasonable doubt, because nothing can be proved beyond any doubt.

    I pointed this out to you in an earlier post, but it appears that you sidestepped the issue and still claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God. You are free to make that assertion of course, but if you cannot provide evidence that your claim has any merit, it remains an assertion only. On the other hand I have provided evidence that God does exist. His name is Jesus and He made many claims about Himself. If you are to continue to claim that God doesn’t exist with any credibility you will first have to show why Jesus was not telling the truth when He claimed to be God.

  27. Teleologist,

    What I initally wrote was “As an athiest, I see all people as equals, who should be judged on their actions, for which, in the main, they are accountable for. As a Christian, you will see me as someone that is still standing in the kingdom of darkness, regardless of who I am or what I have done.”

    You have misunderstood the point I was making, and then I misunderstood your follow up question. I would judge a serial killer in a very negative way as those ACTIONS do not support my values. I am not saying that all people are equal – I am saying that I assume we are equal until they do something to change that – ie. they may do something that I perceive as positive or negative. The point I was making is that I do not make a judgement that is based solely on the knowledge that they do not believe in God. Just because someone does not believe in God does not mean that they will kill someone. Infact, you could have 2 individuals, who are as identical as you could get in terms of the values and behaviours, and the only real difference is that one believes in God and one does not.

    I see no conflict in this. Every human being judges people in some way – if you saw someone being very rude to another person you would form an initial opinion of that person and in some way judge them. That judgement may be wrong, but the point is you would make a judgement based on what you saw. Making a judgement based on someone’s belief without taking into account anything they have done is prejudice. If you assume that all humans with dark skin are savages that is prejudice; if you assume all those people that do not believe in God need help as they are implicitly still in the kingdom of darkness is prejudice. As an athiest, there is no pre-defined good or evil, this is defined by what behaviours are deemed acceptable or unacceptable based on the individual’s values who is witnessing those behaviours.

    No place better is this prejudice demonstrated by the next statement that you wrote: “Well if you are serious and sincerely concern about my well being than that is fine. Most Christians risk their lives, time, and energy to spread the gospel to those whom we believe are doomed”. For the record I do not believe Christians a delusional, I just wrote that to try and make you feel how I feel when you tell me you think that I need to be saved. This quote that I have just made from your text above demonstrates that without knowing anything about all the non-Christians on the planet as individuals you consider them to be already doomed. This, by definition means that you place less value on their lives than you would a Christians life. This is not only illogical, it is prejudice.

    Thank you for clarifying and explaining Satre’s view – I obviously didn’t quite understand it properly.

    “The purpose in life is to assert one’s existence. In that sense there is no “value” difference between running someone over with your car and giving that person a ride.”

    I agree with the first sentence – the purpose of life is to assert one’s existence. I disgree with the second sentence. To asset ones existence in isolation has risks…..hence human beings live and work in groups/communities, much the same way as a pride of Lions. Living and working together reduces the risks and increases the likelihood of being able to continue to assert one’s existence. There IS value in not hurting our immediately family, and this value extends to not hurting a stranger on the road. Although the value is less in terms of the stranger, there is a risk that the stranger’s group will not be happy with such an act, and this may therefore add risk to my existence.

    “There is an intrinsic conflict with Atheism. Atheism demands amorality and yet most atheists is incapable to live according to their faith”. Athiesm does not mean or demand amorality. Morality is a human notion that simply defines / classifies what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour (ie. actions). Your example about the Jews demonstrates this point…..to virtually all people on the planet today, behaviour to exterminate the Jews is not acceptable, however, for whatever reason, for those people that were exterminating the Jews the behaviour was acceptable. Morality is not absolute. Morality is one person’s judgement on another persons actions, assessed against their own values.

    “More importantly it fails to answer my question of how it is possible to absolutely refute an opposing view as wrong.”

    I have maintained all along that I have no issue with Christians or the Christian believe. I do not consider the belief to be right or wrong. I just accept that it is a belief. The behaviours driven from that belief are what is important – as some behaviours will be acceptable and some may not be acceptable depending on who is witnessing those behaviours. However, because the belief system of a Christian is that a non-believer is doomed and requires saving, this drives a behaviour to try and help the non-believer. In order for the Christian to be successful (ie. to save the non-believer) the non-believer has to be converted to being a believer….any other result means the non-believer is still doomed. The Christian belief drives behaviour to convert a non-believer. An athiest’s belief does not see a need to change/convert the Christian, only to resist when the Christian trys to save the non-believer. In simplistic terms, the Christian goes on the offensive, and the athiest has to defend.

    I appreciate that we are not going to find an ultimately agreement – but I am finding the discussion interesting and I have learnt a considerable amount. Just to absolutely clear – I sincerely have no issue with someone that believes in God as a Christian, or in God as Muslim or any other religious belief. My world view is that it is our behaviours that define us, and it is our beliefs that drive those behaviours. The key point is that 2 people can have very different world views – eg. God or no God – and yet their behaviour can be virtually identical, hence we should not reach a conclusion about whether someone is doomed or is good of bad based on what you think they believe, but you should reach a conclusion about someone based on their behaviours. However, I recognise that your world view is not the same, in that it is what we believe that defines us, not how we behave.

  28. Daron

    I am not American, and have only ever come across 1 or 2 Christians in my life. Neither of which tried to convert me.
    The reason I came to this website was to investigate ID (via a link from another ID website), and I saw the kind offer from Salvador to ask polite questions…of which I asked 3 related to ID. As the questions were asking what we can scientifically know beyond the design inference, and how we can be sure we have been given what we have come to believe in, the discussion moved fairly swiftly into a more philosophical one. From my perspective is it driven by the scientific evidence for God – how deep does it go? How much is really scientific or relies on a strong dose of faith?

    My interest was sparked by a TV programme late last year about ID. I had not heard of it before that, and it got me thinking about its implications and what the design inference really meant. Also, the more recent discussion about Christians wanting to convert people is sort of tied up in the fact that ID as a scientific theory has been requested to be taught in schools – effectively to achieve this end. It has been agreed on this website that the design inference itself (the scientific irreducible complexity part) supports any belief system that requires a creator for life – Christian, Muslim, an Athiest who believes we have been created by an advance civilisation in another galaxy. So to this end, ID is not only compatible with Christianity, and yet I am fairly confident that if the court case had gone the way of the supporters of ID, Christianity would be posed as the most likely belief system for the design inference.

    Thank you for your clarification on the Third Principle. It also echo’s what I have been saying which has not wholly ( I don’t think) been accepted – and that is that a person is defined not by their beliefs alone but by their actions. It also seems that your comment: “There is a major divide, theologically between whether Christians are saved by faith alone, or faith and works” is correct as Teleologist has previously written:

    “The Bible talks about a salvific faith, a faith that leads to salvation, which is a gift from God. The salvific faith is not predicated on works or obedience, other than the willingness to accept oneself as a sinner and accept Jesus Christ as the propitiation for one’s sins.”

    With regards the definition of judging versus discerning, I am not sure there is a difference. Discern has 2 meanings (taken from the dictionary):

    1. Perceive clearly with mind or senses
    2. Distinguish between good and bad

    Using your example of a vegatarian and non-vegatarian – I agree there is no right or wrong – it is just preference. However, as you say, if I consider that the non-vegetarian needs to be saved, and I attempt to change them to become a vegetarian, I am making a judgement that I need to take action to change that person (be it for their own good or not), and implicity I am making a judgement (discerning if what they are doing is good or bad) on their behalf.

    You have also said: “But it is not our place to say ‘it is a fact that you are damned.'”. And yet, although it is not your place to say it, that is what you beleive. Just because you do not verbalise that belief does not mean that it is not what you believe, and does not mean that your behaviours will not be taylored consciencely or unconsciencely to support that belief.

    “On the other hand, since the atheist doesn’t believe in a soul, God, or damnation at any rate, why should this concern them?” Good question, with a simple answer. Because a belief system that assumes all ‘non-believers’ are damned, doomed, already dead, etc, is a prejudice belief system that has no place in today’s society. Pre-judging anyone as inpure, implicitly bad, misguided, amoral, evil (whatever level applies), just because they do not believe in a supreme being is not healthy for any species. Santa Claus in your example does not result in the same situation, as those that believe in Santa Claus do not assume that those that don’t believe are in any danger and need to be saved, converted to their believe. In essense, for a Christian to save someone, they have to convert them.

    “true possibility” and “logical possiblity”. I don’t make a distinction between true or logical. A designer is a possibility. Evolution is a possibility. It is possible that the designer created the universe and brought the right ‘soup’ together to trigger life, at which point we evolved into this. That is also a possibility. I genuinely have an open mind. Of course, I cannot become a Christian if I still believe the non-design options are possible – so I either have to be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the Christian club.

    With reference to the babysitter, if there is a possibility that she might hurt my child, then yes I would have to take action – ie. not let her look after my child. Firstly I know the babysitter exists – I probably would have met them, and secondly, I know that it is possible for adults to hurt children. However, God is not someone that I can meet like the babysitter. Also, there is no evidence that God saves anyone. So to use your analogy in return….If someone told you that a babysitter that you can never meet, never see and never talk to in any tangible sense of the word would look after your child, so it is ok for you go out for the evening. Would you leave the baby in the house with this invisible, intangible babysitter, and trust that babysitter to save your child if the need arose?

  29. Ford Prefect

    You claim that there is evidence for Jesus and God. Let’s assume that God is the absolute truth, the scriptures were the words of God, Jesus was the Son of God.

    I use the term ‘were’ for the scriptures as now let’s assume that all the original scriptures for the Bible were all located in one location at one point, before they were copied and formed into the collective Bible, and an accidental fire destroyed them all. Knowing that these had been the words of God, no man alive at that time dare try and re-write them from memory, so they decided they would not rewrite them.

    In today’s world we would have stories passed down over the centuries about a man called Jesus who was the Son of God and who saved us from ourselves, etc. If you wanted to validate this story in the 21st Century, knowing that there were ‘allegedly’ once some scriptures which are now 100% lost, how would you provide evidence for Jesus and God and what evidence would be provided?

    Remember, in this scenerio I am accepting that God and Jesus do exist, it is only the historical account of them in the form of book called The Bible that we do not have. Also remember, that you have never read The Bible as it does not exist, you only have a fairly brief verbal account of Jesus’s existence in the form of a handful of short stories passed down verbally over the centuries.

  30. Hi Rahoggid,

    You said:

    “You claim that there is evidence for Jesus and God. Let’s assume that God is the absolute truth, the scriptures were the words of God, Jesus was the Son of God.”

    No, what I said was, Jesus, His life, death and resurrection are the proof that God exists. Jesus resurrection proves the claims He made about Himself and prove that He was God in the flesh. If you are going to deny that God exists, you must deal with the claims of Jesus and the historical fact of His resurrection in order to do it with any intellectual honesty.

    As for your scenario, I’m not sure of the point you are making but I think you’re suggesting that we shouldn’t rely on the bible because it is somehow unreliable. If you are indeed trying to argue this, I strongly suggest that you not pursue this line of argument because you will fail.

    The Bible, and particularly the New Testament that would be the main focus when talking about the evidence for the deity of Jesus, is one of the best attested ancient documents that we have. Concerning the NT,

    Quoted from The case for Christ by Lee Strobel:

    “We have a multiplicity of documents that have survived. We have copies commencing within a couple of generations from the writings of the originals whereas with other ancient texts, maybe five, eight or ten centuries elapsed between the original and the earliest surviving copy. In addition to Greek manuscripts we also have translations of the gospels into other languages at a reletively early time – into Latin, Syriac and Coptic. We have what are called secondary translations made a little later into other languages like Armenian and Gothic. The fact is is that if we had no Greek manuscripts today, by piecing together the information from these early translations from a relatively early date, we could actually reproduce the contents of the New testament. In addition to that, even if we lost all the Greek manuscripts and the early translations, we could still reproduce the contents of the New testament from the multiplicity of quotations in commentaries, sermons, letters and so forth of the early church fathers.”

    “In addition to the Greek documents… there are thousands of other ancient New Testament manuscripts in other languages. There are 8000 to 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts plus a total of 8000 in Ethiopic, Slavic and Armenian. In all there are about 24,000 manuscripts in existence.”

    Rahoggid, I can go on with heaps more, but hopefully you get the picture of how reliable the NT is.

    To quote Lee Strobel again:

    “We can be confident that the NT has not only survived in more manuscripts that any other book from antiguity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book – a form that is 99.5% pure”

    So with regards to your scenario, your implied suggestion that we cannot be certain about what happened 2000 years ago is incorrect. We have the NT and it is extremely reliable. Given that we have a reliable NT, the question still remains, how do you, in all intellectual honesty explain the claims of Jesus and the historical fact of His resurrection?

  31. Rahoggid,

    Here is another source that you should check out regarding the reliability of the NT. I forgot to include it earlier.

    http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/ffbruce/ntdocrli/ntdocont.htm

    The entire book is free to read online.

  32. Rahoggid,
    I have thoughts on all of your comments to me, but want to focus on your apparent concern with Christians and judgment right now.
    You seem very concerned with the issue of Christians “judging” you, but you seem quite inconsistent in your use of the word and the offence it might cause.
    In response to your question about which of 4 people will be saved I offered my opinion and added that only God is to judge us as I cannot tell you for a fact who will be saved and who will not. That is the judgment that Jesus claims for Himself.
    However, in order to indict Christians as being judgmental, you reduce ‘judgment’ to merely having opinions about people.
    “At this point, I challenge you to say here – not lying and then confessing the sin afterwards ;o) – that your view of that person would not change.”

    I related this to the word “discernment” and you agreed that that was what you meant by “judgment” .
    You provide the definitions
    “1. Perceive clearly with mind or senses
    2. Distinguish between good and bad ” and say that is how you mean “judgment” . This being the case, as I noted in my previous comment to you, this trivializes the word and makes it applicable to every human contact and meeting. We discern that each is tall or short, heavy or thin, attractive or not, etc. These are not “judgments” in the way that a person could criticise. I gave other examples where our opinions of a person change, unavoidably, when we learn information about them. This is a fact of life.
    This is what you want to mean at times as you try to bring Christian faith under the microscope as being “judgmental” .
    You told me not to lie but to admit that learning a person is an atheist alters my opinion of them.Of course it does. Learning they drink Pepsi does as well. Learning my friend used to be an alcoholic changes my opinion, as does learning he likes Indy cars. Our views change.

    You said ” Using your example of a vegatarian and non-vegatarian – I agree there is no right or wrong – it is just preference.”
    There is a possibility that a person is a vegetarian only due to preference, where they really like vegetables, but just don’t like meat at all, but this is quite rare. In reality, I think, vegetarianism generally entails a belief. One believes that red meat is unhealthy, or eating animals is immoral, while others believe that red meat is good for you, that vegetarianism is unnatural, etc. These preferences are predicated by beliefs, and when you find out someone has beliefs other than yours you will have an updated opinion of them. This, you said above, is “judging” them. If it is, it is unavoidable and necessary.

    So we’ver established that “judgment” as you see it applies to everyone at everytime.
    You, in fact, repeatedly judge me as a Christian. You tell me what my beliefs and thoughts are based upon what you think Christianity is ( “You have also said: “But it is not our place to say ‘it is a fact that you are damned.'” . And yet, although it is not your place to say it, that is what you beleive. “).
    As an aside, which I may get to later, that is not what I believe.

    So by your standards of what it means to make judgments, we are all equally culpable, as normal, natural, discerning creatures.
    Some people, Christian or not, are very sanctimonious and opinionated in their judgments, but you will find this no matter what they believe and no matter what they are discussing. I had a friend who couldn’t eneter my house without telling me how to care for my fern, where my couch should be, what I should eat, and how the painters should have done my living room. This was completely independant of whatever she happened to believe spiritually. You will run into these people in all walks of life and among all modes of belief.

    But then you equivocate another meaning to the word “judgment” , one with which you want to implicate Christians specifically.
    Here you crank “judging” up a notch, and make it “prejudging” and tell us that it is bad.
    You say:”Because a belief system that assumes all ‘non-believers’ are damned, doomed, already dead, etc, is a prejudice belief system that has no place in today’s society.”
    But every belief system is a prejudice, in your system. Believing everyone who eats red meat is doing harm to their bodies is a prejudice. But you choose Christianity as the one that has no place in today’s society.
    (And again, this is your prejudgment of Christianity.)

    Next you said, “Pre-judging anyone as inpure, implicitly bad, misguided, amoral, evil (whatever level applies), just because they do not believe in a supreme being is not healthy for any species.”

    On this one three points occur to me immediately:
    1)The Christian believes that ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God, not just the atheist. Whatever natural evil or impurity is in the atheist is in all men.
    2) The second half of your sentence only works if you have already determined that the supreme being does not exist. You said you are open minded and believe the existence of a supreme being to be a possibility.
    3) You have now elevated “judging” back up to what most of us presume it means when you accuse Christians of judging (ie: not merely “discerning” ). There is nothing about the Christian faith that says a nonbeliever is necessarily evil, bad or amoral in any way that all of humanity isn’t. In your prevoius sentence you implied that Christians think you are “doomed already” , but this is also not of the belief – they are not “doomed already”, they can be saved.
    But then, as though to make the category broad enough to catch all Christians, you also slip little judgments such as “misguided” in to hide among the big ones. But this is a “judgment” which is absolutely necessary if we are to meet and know people. This makes it broad enough to catch everybody, Christian or no. For instance, people who believe in classical string theory as opposed to ‘M’-theory may be ‘misguided’.

    And throughout this you have prejudged what you think it means to be a Christian, ignoring the fact that you know only two Christians, and neither has tried to convert you.

  33. Rahoggid,
    Here I will just excerpt some of your comments and give my thoughts on them. I did this before I decided to separate out the ideas about “judging”, so forgive me if I miss some edits and leave in some overlap. Also, I initially had some rhetorical points, little “gotchas” that occurred to me as I read. Hopefully they are all gone. Please accept my apologies if they are not.

    So to this end, ID is not only compatible with Christianity, and yet I am fairly confident that if the court case had gone the way of the supporters of ID, Christianity would be posed as the most likely belief system for the design inference.

    In a predominantly Christian nation, yes, that is very likely true.
    Christianity is also the most likely belief system supportive of astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, physics, psychology and logic classes as well. Since the birth and development of the sciences was reliant upon the Christian world-view this makes good sense.

    However, as you say, if I consider that the non-vegetarian needs to be saved, and I attempt to change them to become a vegetarian, I am making a judgement that I need to take action to change that person (be it for their own good or not), and implicity I am making a judgement (discerning if what they are doing is good or bad) on their behalf.

    Actually, regardless of whether you try to change their behaviour or opinion or not, you have already judged them, according to the use you are offering me. Nobody can meet and become aware of a person without making such observations, which you equate with “judging” them.

    You have also said: “But it is not our place to say ‘it is a fact that you are damned.'” . And yet, although it is not your place to say it, that is what you beleive.

    Actually, it is not what I believe. Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is the way and the truth and the light and that no person will go to the Father but through Him. Yet, I also believe that He will save those whom He chooses to save in whatever manner He chooses. I am not the judge, and I do not know who will be saved. I know the path to my salvation but we each have to work out our own salvation. What I do, when called upon, is give a defence of my beliefs. Others can do with those defences as they will.

    Just because you do not verbalise that belief does not mean that it is not what you believe, and does not mean that your behaviours will not be taylored consciencely or unconsciencely to support that belief.

    As with every belief, opinion, and discernment. This is in no way unique to the Christian, and applying this kind of broad use of the word “judging” is no idictment of the faith. As you said, the two Christians that you know you have met have not tried to convert you. However vast many you may or may not have met who have not spoken of their faith is also demonstration that they are not spending their time trying to find people to judge.

    Santa Claus in your example does not result in the same situation, as those that believe in Santa Claus do not assume that those that don’t believe are in any danger and need to be saved, converted to their believe. In essense, for a Christian to save someone, they have to convert them.

    As does a vegetarian. All kinds of people will tell you their thoughts and opinions in the hope that you might see things their way. Many of them do this with your best interests at heart. Many, many, many more Christians will never discuss their faith with you if you don’t bring it up, and you will never even know that they are believers.

    true possibility” and “logical possiblity” . I don’t make a distinction between true or logical.

    But the distinction is real and makes a difference.

    A designer is a possibility. Evolution is a possibility. It is possible that the designer created the universe and brought the right ‘soup’ together to trigger life, at which point we evolved into this. That is also a possibility. I genuinely have an open mind.

    That is what I am getting at when I ask if this is real possibility to you. Above, you seem to have closed your mind, when you claim the fact that thinking that those who don’t believe in a supreme being are unsaved is unhealthy for a society. If the supreme being is a real possibility, and belief is the way to salvation, then it is not unhealthy, as you presume.

    With reference to the babysitter, if there is a possibility that she might hurt my child, then yes I would have to take action – ie. not let her look after my child. Firstly I know the babysitter exists – I probably would have met them, and secondly, I know that it is possible for adults to hurt children. However, God is not someone that I can meet like the babysitter.
    Also, there is no evidence that God saves anyone. So to use your analogy in return”.If someone told you that a babysitter that you can never meet, never see and never talk to in any tangible sense of the word would look after your child, so it is ok for you go out for the evening. Would you leave the baby in the house with this invisible, intangible babysitter, and trust that babysitter to save your child if the need arose?

    Ah see, the difference between logical and actual possibilities. Would I have I taken that this invisible babysitter is actually possible? No, I have not.
    Is there a logical possibility that there are invisible, intangible babysitters in some realm who can cross over to this? Yes, if I have an open mind I can agree to this, but I don’t accept it as an actual possibility.

    The other problem with your turning the scenario over is that you have moved the danger element. If I believe in the babysitter for whom there is no evidence I endanger my child. But if I doubt the babysitter’s existence the child will be safe. The error here is on the side of caution. You want to analogize this to belief in God. But the weight is shifted, in that if you believe in God (for Whom you’ve not seen evidence) you are in no danger. But there is a danger if God does exist and you’ve closed your mind to Him. The error here, of disbelieving that which you say is not evidenced, is on the side of danger.

    If you believe that there is an actual possibility of God existing then there should be actual consequences. If there is a possibility that God exists then there is a possibility that He has communicated His wishes to people throughout the ages. It is possible that He has done this, in part, through Jesus Christ, and that the Christian Bible contains the truth.
    If you truly believe these things are possible then you must truly believe in the possibility of there being eternal consequences of your choices for your immortal soul.
    This casts in doubt some of the comments you have made in previous posts to me.

  34. Oops, although Jesus is also the “Light of the world” my fingers got ahead of my brain.
    I meant, the way, the truth and the Life.

  35. To the Christian Gentleman here,

    The Lord said, in Proverbs 25:2

    “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; ”

    It is the glory of God to conceal the greatest truths. I encourage you all to be mindful that God’s existence may not be plainly evident. That is by design, and for reasons we don’t know.

    I cannot see microwaves, but they exists. In like manner no one has seen God and lived, and yet in another sense some have seen God in the Person of Christ. This mystery is beyond my comprehension.

    I only put that on the table, because it’s helpful to remember, even when people are wanting to see, God may be concealing the matter from them. It’s only by His grace that eyes can see and ears can hear.

    Salvador

  36. rahoggid,

    I also have comments on all your comments, but I will let those who were addressed by your comments to respond. For your comments to me, I think you still do not understand what I am saying.
    You said,

    No place better is this prejudice demonstrated by the next statement that you wrote: “Well if you are serious and sincerely concern about my well being than that is fine. Most Christians risk their lives, time, and energy to spread the gospel to those whom we believe are doomed” . For the record I do not believe Christians a delusional

    Thank you, I am glad that you don’t think Christians are delusional. However, I don’t understand why you think my statement is demonstrative of prejudice? I wasn’t sure if you were being serious or not. There are atheists like Richard Dawkins who think Christians are delusional and worst. So I really don’t understand what you mean by prejudice on my part.

    There were some comparisons that you’ve made between Christianity and Atheism that I didn’t agree with, but I want to focus on Atheism for the moment. It seems that you still don’t understand I am saying about the intrinsic conflict between Atheism and the atheist. You said,

    I would judge a serial killer in a very negative way as those ACTIONS do not support my values. ”

    Then you said,

    Athiesm does not mean or demand amorality. Morality is a human notion that simply defines / classifies what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour (ie. actions). Your example about the Jews demonstrates this point”..to virtually all people on the planet today, behaviour to exterminate the Jews is not acceptable, however, for whatever reason, for those people that were exterminating the Jews the behaviour was acceptable. Morality is not absolute.

    I’ve highlighted your comments. I think you just contradicted yourself. You said Atheism does not demand amorality then you said some people will do things that you might consider as “not acceptable” and morality is no absolute. If morality is not absolute then it becomes amoral. From the Merriam-Webster dictionary,

    Main Entry: amor-al Function: adjective
    1 a : being neither moral nor immoral; specifically : lying outside the sphere to which moral judgments apply b : lacking moral sensibility
    2 : being outside or beyond the moral order or a particular code of morals

    For example, if you consider “action A” is moral and another person consider “action A” as immoral. Since Atheism has no absolute reference point to determine who is correct, you are left with no morals. Your morality has no meaning to another person and vice versa. If Atheism would only stop here then there is no internal conflict. But the atheist is incapable of living in an amoral construct. The atheist invariably would impose his/her morality on someone else. Most atheists do not allow wanton murder or at least asserts that is unacceptable behavior. However, Atheism does not provide the necessary basis for one person to tell another person what is acceptable and what is not, hence Atheism is a self imploding conflict.

  37. rahoggid wrote:

    1. At some point nothing existed and then suddenly something existed – nothing become something
    2. Something has always existed, but our minds find it difficult to comprehend, and therefore accept infinity in this way

    To me only option 2 is really logical. If nothing exists at all, then nothing cannot become something – ie. I’m not talking about empty space with a few molecules roaming around as the definition of nothing – I mean absolutely nothing. Option 2 has to be the only answer for the reason stated that rejects option 1. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that our universe itself is infinite, but that existence of matter in some form is infinite.

    Greetings,

    I feel actually bad that you’re have to read and respond to so many people here simultaneously. I wished to comment however that #2 has been refuted scientifically by the laws of thermodynamics. The universe could not have existed forever because the stars would have burned out by now. Combined with other astrophysical observations, it is evident the material universe did not always exists. There is a very good book written by an agnostic scientist, Robert Jastrow. I highly recommend it to you:
    God and the Astronomers

    regards,
    Salvador

  38. Sal and Rahoggid,
    As Sal has observed, these postings do look like we’re piling on Rahoggid and it’s likely that the points raised didn’t require as much attention as I’ve given them.
    Besides that, I don’t want to represent a view too contradictory of thoughts that Sal and Teleologist may have.
    For those reasons I’ll leave my participation in this conversation where it stands as of now and let others continue as they see fit.
    Enjoy :),
    Daron

  39. Daron, Salvador, Teleologist and Ford Prefect,

    I have been learning a considerable amount about the subject of ID and the related subject of Christianity via this blog. I initially asked the questions and have additional commented on the responses. My questions and responses have been as much about exploring my own understanding and beliefs as it has been exploring and understanding yours. I am not a scientist or a historian, and I am just someone that has a fairly analytical mind that enjoys the challenge of understanding things and getting to the ‘core’ of things.

    I have started to read the document that Ford Prefect provided a link to and I will look at the recent link that Salvador has provided.

    For me, in addition to establishing that ID is only compatible with Christianity, it seems to me the only direct evidence for Jesus/God is the Bible itself, and for me, the key basis for a belief in Jesus being the Son of God is whether the miracles that Jesus performed were real. If I do not believe the miracles are infact miracles, especially the ressurrection, then Jesus, in essence becomes just an ordinary person, albeit that he may have inspired those around him as he may have been a great communicator and a great leader. Without the miracles, or a belief in those miracles, faith in God, to me seems difficult to justify or support. However, if I believe the miracles are real, then I have to accept the ‘true’ possibility of God, not just the logically possibility of God (Daron, I now understand where you were coming from with this distinction).

    To this end I will do some investigation into the history of the texts for the Bible and research alternative possibilities for those miracles. There is a 3 part programme on the BBC about this specific topic, called The Miracles of Jesus, and this started last Sunday in the UK and continues for the next 2 weeks. Unfortunately I missed last week, but I will be watching the next 2. This will give me additional information that I can use a catalyst for my own research.

    At this point I am very sceptical, but I have said that I have an open mind, and therefore I need to ensure that mind remains open until I have understood more about this subject.

    Thank you for your time in responding to me – I feel honoured having my own blog…..for my own questions to be answered. Time is quite often a valuable commodity for most so I appreciate the time you have given me todate. I will come back to let you know what I find and what I conclude if that is ok. Not sure if this will take a few weeks or a few months, but I enjoy such analysis.

    Thanks again.

  40. rahoggid,

    Thank you for your participation on this blog. I wish you well in your investigative journey and you are welcome to come back any time you want. Our door is always open.

    Best Regards,
    T.

  41. Rahoggid,
    Thank you for the discussion – I hope I have not driven you away.
    I thought I would provide one more resource from withallyourmind.net.
    This is probably similar to some of Ford’s links, and I know Strobel discusses this information in his historicity of Jesus presnetations.
    http://withallyourmind.net/archives/2006/the-fact-of-the-experiences-of-the-disicples/

  42. Rahoggid,
    Thank you for the discussion – I hope I have not driven you away.

    Yes, my thoughts exactly. Please stay in touch Rahoggid.

    Salvador

  43. All,

    Just for the record, none of you have driven me away. I was conscience that I was taking up all of your time with my exploratory questions, for which I am very appreciative. I also felt the need to do a little more research on the whole subject – ID, Christianity and Evolutionary Theory – to establish better my understanding based on the dicussion we have had.

    Thanks again. I will be in touch.

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