Dear Moral Atheist,


I wonder if your morality is the better morality. Morality for the atheist is undefined much like atheism has no real definition. Each atheist goes about living the way he sees fit. There is no atheistic code of ethics. Your morality starts from a sort of “ground up” scenario. All presupposed morality is dismissed as fabrication, and the morality that emerges is chosen by you to either benefit you or society. If it so happens to wrong someone in any way, then you consider dropping that particular moral standard or altering it so as to avoid contention. But, you can also reason that particular standard to be fair no matter what the consequences to the other person if it benefits society. Let us examine one such moral standard.

Society today decides when a proper amount of value for a human life is given to that life. The fetus has less value at a certain point than later when it has developed well enough to have obtained some human value. However, isn’t it more advantageous for the fetus to have the attribute of human worth at the moment of conception so it is less likely to be aborted? Don’t misunderstand me here. This conversation is not about abortion. It’s about morality.

Generally speaking, a higher moral standard is better than a lower moral standard. If we say there is no higher or lower standard, just a particular set of standards that I choose, then there was no real reason for World War II. Surely Hitler and the ethnic cleansing he was doing was considered wrong during that time period. And surely the way the Jews were treated could only have happened if a different set of morals were adopted by the Germans. By the same token, the married man who sleeps around with other women is considered to have lower moral standards. Be that as it may, even though we set moral standards for ourselves, we don’t keep them 100% of the time. No matter how low or high one’s morals may be, they aren’t always kept. However, keeping a higher standard is a preventative measure so that our margin of error won’t destroy us.

But, what are we really doing when we evaluate someone else’s moral standing? Is there not some imagined morality that is the best we could adopt? Are we not heading somewhere toward a better and better morality till we eventually get it right? If no perfect morality exists, then the whole idea of the evolutionary process is has lost its ground, for by it we should be continually improving and maturing. If not, what’s the point? And, what about the evolutionary imperative? It’s supposed to cause us to keep the traits that are good for reproduction and societal living. It seems, though, that we are not following the evolutionary imperative or the natural selection process when we continue the act of abortion. We don’t let the “natural” take its course. If you justify the act by saying that we are controlling overpopulation or honoring the rights of the woman, are we not overstepping our bounds here? Are we not taking on the role of evolution itself, and in a sense become impatient with it? It seems humans aren’t just content to be their own gods, but they want to control the evolutionary process as well.

The Christian’s morality is built with a “top down” scenario. We examine the morality found in the Bible, and perceive these standards are high. We may choose not to follow them, or even alter them in some way (indeed, some Christians support abortion), but the standards are always there. They are unchanging and unrelenting in their call for us to follow them. In regards to the fetus, value is attributed at the moment of conception, making the destruction of the fetus at any point inhumane. It would seem that the Christian standard of morality does a better job of supporting the human race than the morality brought about by the evolutionary process. In fact, I challenge you to find a morality better than ones found in Biblical principles. (I’m not talking about the actions of individuals or groups recorded in the Bible, or orders from God confined to one point in time.) If, however, you can’t then you must logically conclude that the evolutionary process will eventually lead your morality to the become the same as the Christian standard. And should you not jump the evolutionary ship to join a more advanced one?

Have a look at atheistic morality in this video:

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73 thoughts on “Dear Moral Atheist,

  1. The Christian’s morality is built with a “top down” scenario. We examine the morality found in the Bible, and perceive these standards are high. We may choose not to follow them, or even alter them in some way (indeed, some Christians support abortion), but the standards are always there. They are unchanging and unrelenting in their call for us to follow them. In regards to the fetus, value is attributed at the moment of conception, making the destruction of the fetus at any point inhumane. It would seem that the Christian standard of morality does a better job of supporting the human race than the morality brought about by the evolutionary process. In fact, I challenge you to find a morality better than ones found in Biblical principles.

    Secular humanism. Your challenge has been met and won. Done. Ethics based on consequences of action and reciprocation is far better than any list given to us without knowing the reasoning behind it. I don’t want to be killed, raped, injured, stolen from, etc., so (knowing that you are another person with similar desires) I will afford you the same courtesy. Simple.

    The standard of morality in the bible is not at all high. In places it is abominable. The bible clearly advocates slavery, telling slave owners how much a slave may be sold for and how much punishment a disobedient slave can be given (turns out as much as you want so long as the victim doesn’t die within a day or two). It advocates the barbaric act of stoning for homosexuals and the killing of apostates such as myself. The punishment for rape is barely even there, and if the victim didn’t yell loudly enough within the city walls she would be stoned as an adulteress. Nice. The god described in the bible orders genocide numerous times, a crime so heinous that it amazes me that even if it existed that anyone would worship such a monster. So much for tolerance and freedom of belief in a bible-based morality.

    Even the good parts, like the commandment not to murder, didn’t mean what people think they meant. Back then it “don’t kill a fellow Jew”. The rest of us were fair game. Besides, laws against murdering and love your neighbor as you would yourself predate Christianity and Judaism. So what did Christianity and Judaism contribute to societal values? I would say “nothing”. They actually set us back centuries.

    Think about this – you (I presume) do not have slaves, you do not go around stoning homosexuals or killing non-believers. Why is that? It is clearly commanded. If it is because you think those things are wrong, then you are not getting your morality from the bible. So where do you really get your morality from?

    Also, how do you escape being gored by the Euthyphro Dilemma? Either something is moral because god says so, or god says so because it is moral good. The former means that god can change its mind about what is moral (and therefor there is no absolute morality) or god is just the middle man and we can figure out these things by ourself.

    Surely Hitler and the ethnic cleansing he was doing was considered wrong during that time period. And surely the way the Jews were treated could only have happened if a different set of morals were adopted by the Germans.

    It is inconceivable that the Holocaust could have happened in the absence of Christianity. The antisemitism which was the necessary ingredient for the German populace to turn a blind eye. Hitler did nothing that wasn’t already prescribed by Martin Luther in his On The Jews and Their Lies.

    If no perfect morality exists, then the whole idea of the evolutionary process is has lost its ground, for by it we should be continually improving and maturing. If not, what’s the point?

    There is no “point”. Evolution is not a goal-oriented process. There is no such thing as “perfection”, either. Perfectly what? The word has no meaning without context. Evolution just does what is good enough.

    But, what are we really doing when we evaluate someone else’s moral standing? Is there not some imagined morality that is the best we could adopt? Are we not heading somewhere toward a better and better morality till we eventually get it right?

    No. There is no absolute morality, no perfectly-correct set of ethics. This should be obvious. Even the edicts in the bible have changed meaning over time. Look at how the definition of murder has changed over the centuries.

    The fetus has less value at a certain point than later when it has developed well enough to have obtained some human value.

    Some people would say yes, others no. I find it silly to attribute personhood to a collection of cells that is a blastocyst. Certainly, to give a few cells the same rights as those of the mother is ludicrous and leads to some very sticky wickets. What happens when the pregnancy is ectopic? This happens in 2% of all pregnancies. The fetus is never viable and will kill the mother in the first trimester. But if it is aborted, then it is murder. Silly. (Catholic silly.)

    The point is, what is moral is to not dictate one morality over another, and this is what the anti-choice side is trying to accomplish. The anti-choice side tries to portray the pro-choice side as forcing abortion on everyone, but this is ridiculous. Allowing choice is better than taking it away. For those who don’t want to abort a fetus in a pro-choice society, don’t get an abortion. To dictate that to everyone on an issue which not everyone agrees is right or wrong, is itself immoral.

    It is this fundamental problem with Christianity that is why the so-called New Atheists rose up. We’ve had enough of the religious trying to impose their set of values on everyone else. The time where religion had a free run and was automatically given respect is done. It is being replaced with critical examination and Christianity is found wanting.

    1. You said:
      “I don’t want to be killed, raped, injured, stolen from, etc., so (knowing that you are another person with similar desires) I will afford you the same courtesy. Simple.”

      The Bible goes further than this: “Love your neighbor as yourself, pray for your enemies, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

      You said:
      “The bible clearly advocates slavery, telling slave owners how much a slave may be sold for and how much punishment a disobedient slave can be given (turns out as much as you want so long as the victim doesn’t die within a day or two).”

      Property in foreign slaves was a patriarchal custom Gen_17:12. Such slaves might be captives taken in war (Num_31:6 following; Deu_20:14), or those consigned to slavery for their crimes, or those purchased of foreign slave-dealers. However, it was the object of Moses, not at once to do away with slavery, but to discourage and to mitigate it. The Law would not suffer it to be forgotten that the slave was a man, and protected him in every way that was possible at the time against the injustice or cruelty of his master. For example:
      Killing a slave merited punishment.1 (Ex 21:20) Permanently injured slaves had to be set free (Ex 21:26-27) Slaves who ran away from oppressive masters were effectively freed (Dt 23:15-16) The law also gave slaves a day of rest every week (Ex 20:10, Dt 5:14). When one Hebrew owned another Hebrew as a slave, the law commanded lenient treatment: Slaves were to be treated as hired workers, not slaves (Lev 25:39-43) All slaves were to be freed after six years (Ex 21:2, Dt 15:12) Freed slaves were to be liberally supplied with grain, wine and livestock (Dt 15:12-15) Every fiftieth year (the year of jubilee), all Hebrew slaves were to be freed, even those owned by foreigners (Lev 25:10, 47-54) In special cases, slaves could choose to remain with their masters if they felt it was in their best interests (Dt 15:16-17). If a Hebrew sold himself as a slave to a foreigner, he reserved the right to buy his freedom (Lev 25:47-49) and was still to be treated as a hired man (Lev 25:53). Laws like this made it hard to hold on to slaves. This example of slavery is not at all like we think of slavery today. And it was eventually done away with which was the real goal.

      This issue is an example of God’s direction given at one point in time. It was given to guide them into the morality they should have. That’s why your use of this issue is a bad example. It doesn’t provide a picture of the correct morality. It was a fault of the Jews, not God.

      You said:
      “The punishment for rape is barely even there, and if the victim didn’t yell loudly enough within the city wall she would be stoned as an adulteress.”

      Dt 22:25-29 States that the punishment for rape is death. In the case of an unmarried women the law was different. It’s also not clear whether the sex in the last verses was consensual or not. A punishment was still involved however. Ex 22:16-17 warns the person who might feel inclined to take advantage of a young woman knew that he must marry her, and give her a dowry, if her parents consented; and if they did not consent that their daughter should wed her seducer, in this case he was obliged to give her the full dowry which could have been demanded had she been still a virgin. According to the Exodus here, and to Deu_22:29, the dowry was fifty shekels of silver, which the seducer was to pay to her father, and he was obliged to take her to wife; nor had he authority, according to the Jewish canons, ever to put her away by a bill of divorce. This one consideration was a powerful curb on disorderly passions, and must tend greatly to render marriages respectable, and prevent all crimes of this nature. The New Testament goes even further and states that if you look on a woman with lust or imagine to have sex with her, you commit adultery or fornication in your heart. And only God can see clear enough to punish the heart. Here again we are talking about the law and not morality. You are still OFF TOPIC. That’s why I suggested that you not cite actions of people, or direction from God confined to one point in time.

      As for your genocide comment and your other issues, it all comes down to whether God exists. If he does then he has the authority to do such things. God can punish a people himself (Gen 18 & 19 and by the way, God killed the people who raped Lot’s daughters) or do it by the hand of humans (I Sam 15) So, if you don’t believe he exists, which you don’t, there is no point in arguing his authority with you, and no point in discussing genocide.

      You said:
      “How do you escape being gored by the Euthyphro Dilemma?”

      The Dilemma is this: “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

      The answer is this: Any moral direction coming from God is an extension of his character. He said to love one another because God is love, not because he chose love as the right way or because love is good. In this view, if you really know God, you understand where his direction to us comes from: It is part of his identity; who he is.

      You said:
      “There is no point. Evolution just does what is good enough.”

      Your statement here fails to explain why we are the way we are. If we have only what we need to survive and reproduce, then why do we have art, music, novels, philosophy, deep thinkers, plays, movies, stories, technology, blogs, and all the things we amuse ourselves with? We do much more than survive. It seems to me that evolution inadequately explains the existence of these things. Why is it that we have these conversations if we are only here to survive? The deepness of our minds is evidence that something more is needed for us to be the way we are than the provisions of evolution.

      Also, how can something without a mind, evolve a mind? How can something without an eye evolve an eye? It seems to me that a process that gives enough direction for humans to survive must know where it’s going in order to get there. If evolution was only random (if it is indeed blind), things would never have progressed far enough for us to exist or even mature this far. Evolution has been found wanting.

  2. “In regards to the fetus, value is attributed at the moment of conception, making the destruction of the fetus at any point inhumane.”

    There are about 2,000,000 loss pregnancies in the USA every year. A little over 1/2 are abortions. The other 800,000 are unintended (miscarriages, still births, etc).
    Who places this (moral) value on a fetus that is a few minutes old, a few days old, a few weeks old…if the woman doesn’t even know she is pregnant? 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of those before the woman even knows she has conceived, and therefor believes she is just having a normal menstrual cycle.
    (source -http://www.americanpregnancy.org)

    So, again, back to the (moral) “value” question – if she never even knew she was pregnant, who placed value on her fetus that she will never know she had? (Please don’t say “God”, because God valued it so much that he let it go unceremoniously down the toilet)

    Think!

    Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.
    Catholic women account for 31.3%
    Jewish women account for 1.3%
    women who identify themselves as “Born-again/Evangelical” 18%
    women with no religious affiliation 23.7%
    (source – a religious anti abortion website http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html)

    Value? Why are most abortions performed on those who are (supposed to be) against abortions?

    Think!

    1. You said:
      “Please don’t say ‘God’, because God valued it so much that he let it go unceremoniously down the toilet.”

      Why do we blame God for our deficiencies? Sin and consequences from sin are our fault, not God’s. I’m NOT saying the loss of a baby is a direct result of the woman’s sin. I AM saying that the sins of all humanity affect our bodies as well as our minds. So, you could blame God unjustly, or let him comfort you during that period.

      I realize abortion is a huge topic and it can overshadow other issues, but please remember this post is not about abortion.

      1. Your morality tells you that you and I will go to Hell if we eat pork, shellfish, or a rare steak and don’t repent about it. How is that objectively moral?

      2. Really… how ridiculous! I guess it’s easier to attack the Bible than to try to accomplish an objective comparison of morals.

        As for the meat issue, it may not be the best thing for you, but if it was a sin it wouldn’t send you to hell. look it up – Rom 5:8. Accept it or reject it.

      3. “I realize abortion is a huge topic and it can overshadow other issues, but please remember this post is not about abortion.”

        I suspected you would say that. I commented on abortion, in the moral sense, only because you mentioned it several times. If you didn’t want that to be used in this conversation, why bring it up (several times) in the first place?

        “Why do we blame God for our deficiencies?”
        Rest assured, I am not “blaming God”. I don’t believe any god exists.

        “Sin and consequences from sin are our fault, not God’s.”
        Sin is a religious term that I do not subscribe to. And you completely miss my point, which I will now expand, since you have brought sin into it – how can there be any “consequences from sin” as you say, for the woman who miscarries and never even knows she was pregnant? The only “person” who is suffering those “consequences” is the fetus.

  3. ‘It would seem that the Christian standard of morality does a better job of supporting the human race than the morality brought about by the evolutionary process.’

    The theory of evolution does not provide any moral framework, nor does it make any moral claim. It is a biological phenomenon.

    As for Christianity supporting the human race; by placing value in the after-world, in heaven or ‘the other-world’, Christianity fundamentally de-values the life of the individual and the species in THIS world.
    Does the human race require the support of afterworldsmen?

    I find that Christian morality draws a false dichotomy between ‘good and ‘evil’, that is one of my major objections to it. I don’t have the time to give an extensive analysis of Christian morality.

    1. I did one with Shamelessly Atheist. Observe:

      Shamelessly Atheist said:
      “I don’t want to be killed, raped, injured, stolen from, etc., so (knowing that you are another person with similar desires) I will afford you the same courtesy. Simple.”

      The Bible goes further than this: “Love your neighbor as yourself, pray for your enemies, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

      Obviously the latter paragraph states a higher moral standard.

      1. “The Bible goes further than this: “Love your neighbor as yourself, pray for your enemies, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.
        Obviously the latter paragraph states a higher moral standard.”

        Love your neighbor… That’s good.

        ..pray for your enemies.. How is this a higher moral standard? What does “prayer” accomplish?

        ..love your enemies.. I would like you to explain how this looks in practical terms. Give me some real world examples of how you think we should “love our enemies”.

        ..bless them that curse you.. How is this a higher moral standard? I don’t know how to “bless” anyone, whether they love me or curse me.

        ..do good to them that hate you.. I have no problem with this one. What are your thoughts on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

        ..pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.. Again, how is praying a higher moral standard?

        “I am willing that any man should come before us and say, Jesus taught that you must love your enemies, it is written in the Bible; but, if he will open the old manuscript of Diogenes Laertus, he may there read in texts that have never been disputed, that the Greek philosophers, half a dozen of them, said the same before Jesus was born.”
        ~ Thomas Higginson

        “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.”
        ~ Confucius (500 years before Jesus)

        “Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you.”
        ~ Socrates (400+ years before Jesus)

        “May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me.”
        ~ Plato (Greece; 4th century BCE)

        “Shame on him who strikes, greater shame on him who strikes back. Let us live happily, not hating those who hate us. Let us therefore overcome anger by kindness, evil by good, falsehood by truth.”
        ~ Buddhist holy teaching (centuries before the New Testament)

        “This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”
        ~ Mahabharata (300+ years before Jesus, in India)

        “I will be as careful for you as I should be for myself in the same need.”
        ~ Calypso, to Odysseus, in Homer (Roughly 800 years before Jesus)

        Hopefully you can see Daniel, people had this “higher moral standard” long before the evolution of Christianity.

      2. The Greek philosopher’s moral statements only deal with a person’s actions. The Bible gives direction to the body and the mind. “Love your neighbor” appeals to the mind as well as the body. Over and over, the Bible calls for a renewing of the mind.

        … Love your enemies…
        I haven’t progressed that far in my morals to give a real example of this. The easiest one I can think of is the Bible story about Jesus dying for the sins of the world. While we were in opposition to him, he loved us. This moral direction deals with the mind more than the actions of the body.

        … Bless them that curse you…
        To bless means to do everything in your power to make that person successful and prosperous.

        …Do good to them that hate you…
        Concerning the war: We fight in defense of others and ourselves. “To do good to them” sometimes takes a back seat if someone is hurting other people. Stopping the people who are doing the hurting can also be good for them I think.

        My personal opinion: We’ve reached a point where we aren’t helping anymore, and should just get out. You can’t change a people’s values for the better by using force.

        …Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…
        This moral direction causes the person to appeal to the higher authority over both parties so that the offending party may be helped or changed in some way. Prayer also changes your attitude toward that person to one of good will. Even if you don’t believe in God, you can appreciate the idea of asking a person who has the authority over both of you to help the offending person.

        I perceive these directions for morality to go deeper than those that just address actions. If everyone practiced these things there would be no war. However, I don’t even practice all of these in my own life. I think, as long as we are flawed, there will always be war. However, if we practice the change on the “inside” like these moral standards tell us to, the times we stray away from them may only happen in our minds and not progress into our actions before we catch the incongruity. Correcting the mind is preferable to correcting actions.

  4. “The theory of evolution does not provide any moral framework, nor does it make any moral claim. It is a biological phenomenon.”

    Yes. That’s why I said that your morality starts from the ground up.

    I would really like to hear about the false dichotomy. Come back when you have time.

  5. “Also, how can something without a mind, evolve a mind? How can something without an eye evolve an eye? It seems to me that a process that gives enough direction for humans to survive must know where it’s going in order to get there. If evolution was only random (if it is indeed blind), things would never have progressed far enough for us to exist or even mature this far. Evolution has been found wanting.”

    You really, REALLY should study biology….or perhaps not 😦

  6. Daniel, you say your morals are based on the Bible, and the Bible says to not eat pork or shellfish, or ingest blood. Denying that the Bible says this does not make it true. How does your morals saying you can’t eat pork and my morals saying you can make your morals objectively better than mine? And if sinning doesn’t send you to Hell, what does?

  7. ‘If evolution was only random (if it is indeed blind), things would never have progressed far enough for us to exist or even mature this far.’

    Evolution is not random. Chemical changes, mutations in DNA and thus in the proteins that DNA codes for, are random- These changes in the genotype of an individual may lead to changes in the phenotype; while these changes are in turn exposed to numerous environmental factors.
    If that individual can survive the environment for long enough and with enough surplus energy to reproduce, the mutation may be passed on.
    If that individual succumbs to the challenges presented to it by the environment before it has the chance to reproduce, then the mutation is not passed on.

    This is, of course, an extremely simple explanation; but it serves to point out that while the mutations are random, there IS a screening method in place that is not random. Mutations are passed on if the trait they cause is ADAPTIVE to the environment.

    There are manifold intricacies that I don’t have the scientific knowledge to explain, but the simple model I’ve proposed above covers the course of evolution at a macrocosmic level. This is not to say that all traits have an adaptive property that serves to furnish survival- there are many ways in which traits group together and, while the sum value of the trait group might indicate survival, this does not mean that all the traits are particularly geared in that way. As I said, I don’t have the science know-how to explain these phenomena.

    If you have access to podcasts, then I suggest ‘The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe’ – found at: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/
    Another good science and scepticism podcast is ‘The reality check’ -found at:
    http://www.ottawaskeptics.org/the-reality-check

    Both of these cover evolution regularly and with much more scientific detail than I could ever provide. The information is also typically more entertaining and accessible than a text-book.

    ——–

    The false dichotomy issue is extremely complex. Primarily because we have to deal with un-scientific hypotheses and viewpoints; which can lead to circular reasoning and also sorts of other logical properties.
    Because this argument is outside the realm of scientific explanation, I won’t be able to argue that moral absolutism is an inaccurate viewpoint, but I will try to explain why I think this type of absolutism can be dangerous and limiting to our potential as individuals.

    In the meantime I suggest you read Nietzsche’s ‘Beyond Good and Evil’.
    It’s an interesting read in itself, but it also makes a stab at deconstructing moral absolutism.

    1. I’ll try to find that book. I enjoy reading Nietzsche. He brings his ideas to their logical conclusion. Some folks keep a balance on their philosophies (no extremes). He doesn’t.

  8. “This is, of course, an extremely simple explanation; but it serves to point out that while the mutations are random, there IS a screening method in place that is not random. Mutations are passed on if the trait they cause is ADAPTIVE to the environment.”

    Not every time. A species doesn’t necessarily survive just because a mutation was beneficial or better than that of others in the species. There are numerous things to consider. Natural disasters, disease, being a victim of the food chain, accidents (like falling off a cliff or being smashed by a falling rock or branch). And even if it does survive, it doesn’t necessarily reproduce. It may have been cut off from it’s kind before it reached sexual maturity or it may have become dismembered through some chance occurrence, all of course assuming it had the ability to procure resources in the first place. And then there is of course events that take place in the population as a whole.

    All this is to say, unless the trait they cause is on the level of superman’s powers, there is no guarantee that they will survive and/or subsequently reproduce. Thus, the whole process, starting from the DNA up to sexual reproduction, is truly random.

    Assuming evolution is true, there is no decision being made about these creatures outside of their own thinking abilities or instincts and there is no general framework set in place to govern their reproductive actions. We look back and theorize that natural selection and random mutation has caused species to change into there descendant forms. Because of a set law? No. Because it happened that way. In other words, just random events that we can now look back on and find the most common occurrence. And as a matter of common sense, of course we find that the strong survive to reproduce and the weak tend to die off if challenged. That’s life. Such events only cease to be random once they occur. Once it occurs, it becomes a unique event and therefore, no longer random.

    What I find funny about this, is that both of us are describing in detail what is just a mundane reality – that what will happen, will happen. ‘Natural selection’ is just another way of saying that. As is ‘adaptive differential reproduction.’ Is this really a theory we’re willing to put stock in, or is it just the only plausible (if not mathematically impossible) explanation if there is no super intellect, as astronomer Fred Hoyle puts it ‘that has monkeyed with physics’? I’ll say, though I’m not the first, that ‘what will happen, will happen’ is not a scientific theory. If it is, so is saying that a randomly shuffled deck of cards produces random order and then going back and studying in detail the exact way the cards fell while being shuffled and then coming up with a name for that randomly produced pattern and calling it a theory. But the real question is, before the cards were first shuffled, how did they get in their original order in the first place?

  9. Puzzled in peoria, trying actually reading the Bible in it’s context. God told the Jews not to eat certain meats yes, for many reasons you can look up for yourself. But in the new testament(Acts) God told Peter that they could eat meat now.

    Yes, one tiny sin will send you to Hell. But Jesus took our place of suffering on the cross and died for us. All you have to do is accept that fact to be free from sin and Hell.

    1. Hi Amie,

      Does the New Testament invalidate everything in the Old Testament, or just the parts that it contradicts? This is part of what puzzles me about the claim of inerrancy in the Bible.

      Thanks.

      1. Contradicts? Or fulfills? The New Testament is just that – a new one. As opposed to the old one. It also happens to come with a whole new covenant regarding believers. The new replaces the old.

      2. Hi Tim,

        If the old one says one thing, and the new one says the opposite, that is a contradiction; I don’t know how you would call that a fulfillment. What does that mean?

        Are you saying that you don’t have to obey the rules in the old one, or just the ones that the new one doesn’t change?

      3. Puzzled in Peoria,

        Of course, anyone with children can explain this contradiction. You tell the child not to cross the street when they’re young and let them do it on their own when they’re older. It was a law in the beginning and you punished them for not following it. You had your reasons. As they matured, the law was no longer necessary. You forget, God is a person. Laws can change as does our interaction with him.

      4. Puzzled,

        Actually, if you will tell me about any contradiction in the Bible I will do my best to prove it wrong. I personally have found no contradictions in the Bible. I will tell you that it is a complex book in parts and it is meant for in-depth study to be able to begin to understand it.

        The new testament does not invalidate the old testament. The old testament gives us the Law. The Law has so many rules and regulations that a person would have to devote his or her life to it just to get it right and even then would fall short. This is the whole point of the Law…. to prove that a human being cannot ever live up to it. That is where Jesus comes in.

        James 4:17 says that if someone obeys the whole Law yet offends in only one point, he is guilty of all. And in Romans 6:23 it says that the result of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life!!

        That gift is Jesus. He took our place on the cross and died for our sins. It’s so amazing that He would do that for me and you!! You probably know John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, Jesus, that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life.

        …all He asks is that you believe in Him. That’s it, that’s all. Pick up the Bible and read the verse for yourself. Don’t take my word for it!

        My friend, I hope you will believe.

        Thanks for your time!

        -Amie

      5. Hi Amie,

        The contradiction to me is that at one time in the Old Testament, it was a sin to eat pork. ( I don’t believe to be the only difference, but I will continue with the theme:)) The New Testament specifically says it is now OK. I understand that eating pork is a bad idea if you don’t prepare it properly, and that it might be a good idea to scare people into avoiding it altogether, if you don’t think they are smart enough to realize you can get sick from it; that is not the issue. I have a problem with it being a sin, and then it not being a sin. To me, if something is bad, it is bad now and was bad then. If it is not bad, then it never was bad. (And please, I don’t see this mitigated by the claim that you can get forgiven for it now. ) I have an issue with the seeming capriciousness of your God.

        Thanks for taking the time to discuss this stuff. I realize that an email thread is not the best way to convey the actual meaning of what we’re trying to say. Nuances are lost.

    2. Hi Amie,

      What do you think happened to all the people who went to Hell for eating pork before God changed his mind and said it was OK? Did they all get released? Even if you can’t know for sure what happened, I would like to hear what you think.

      Thanks.

      1. The basic tenets of spiritual truth do not change. The point is that God’s people of the old testament did not have the Christ. We do. And with him the new testament. The change made is that Christ died for us.

        I understand that it can sound like a contradiction. The best way I can explain it is to say that the old testament gives the sense of expectation. While the new testament fulfills that expectation. This is why I say it is not a contradiction but a fulfillment.

      2. Puzzled,

        The people that went to Hell for eating pork…

        Well, I’m pretty sure that they did more than just eat pork, but to answer your question: No, they did not get released.

        There were very specific ways to repent of course: sacraficing certain “clean” animals, but if you never cared to do any of that, yes I believe they did go to Hell. It wasn’t a question of God changing his mind. God never wanted any of this to happen. His first creation was a perfect one, but when man (Adam&Eve) sinned, God made a plan for man to be redeemed and eventually get back to the perfect world that God intended for us to live in. I hope that answers your question.

        -Amie

      3. Hi Amie,

        If God didn’t change his mind then why was something once a sin, and it is no longer a sin? Especially something as seemingly benign as eating a certain food? I understand that you think Jesus died for your sins. But did that change things that were sinful into not being sinful? I’ve never heard that interpretation before, so I probably am misunderstanding you.

        Thanks!

  10. Daniel – “The Greek philosopher’s moral statements only deal with a person’s actions.”

    But isn’t that how we, you and I, determine if a person is morally good or bad – by their actions, and how their actions affect others?

    That is one of the many problems, as I see it, with Christianity – thoughts can be immoral. The idea that if I think about committing adultery, I am just as guilty of that “sin” as I would be if I had physically committed adultery. Do you believe that Daniel – “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    Is it ‘immoral” to think of committing an “immoral” act?

    Is thinking of committing the act just as “bad” as actually committing the act?

    If one “thinks” of committing the act, should they be punished as if they had actually committed the act?

    These questions should be very easy to answer because after all, you believe God has provided a guide for maintaining, not only moral standards, but “higher moral standards”.

    Daniel – “… Bless them that curse you…
    To bless means to do everything in your power to make that person successful and prosperous.”

    Daniel, do you know (of) any Christian who does this? Can you name one Christian who follows this simple command? I mean, not even God did this (Genesis 12:3 – I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse)

    Daniel, can you offer any evidence that Christians (such as your self, who believe that their God has provided his followers with a “higher moral standard”), actually follow, or participate in this “higher moral standard”, and this results in actual, measurable, detectable higher morals?
    In other words, what do you, a Christian, have that I, an atheist, need?

    Give me some evidence that believing in this “higher moral standard” actually results in Christians living a life of higher moral standards.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      It seems to me that if Christians actually practiced a higher moral standard, then the proportion of Christians in jail would be dramatically lower than their proportion in the general population, and that most of the people in jail would be atheists or other religions. But that is not the case. I have a feeling that you will say that Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. However, if they were more moral than the general population, then they should be committing just a fraction of the crimes they commit now.

      Thanks.

    2. “But isn’t that how we, you and I, determine if a person is morally good or bad – by their actions, and how their actions affect others?”

      Of course it is… what God points out, is that we have a problem with our minds as well. The heart and mind are the only realms God does not have dominion over. That’s why, when you make God your personal God, he sets up his kingdom inside of you. Luke 17:20-21 “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

      The real miracle is not a man of changed action, but the man who is different entirely, from the inside. And we are not God’s subjects, we are his sons (John 1:12) And yet for all this, after his kingdom is set up, he still does not force his ways upon you. He writes his laws on your heart. Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Choice, however, is not overthrown in the process. We can follow the ways of the kingdom within us, or follow the ways of self (although “self” does have his own contrived morality).

      “Do you believe that Daniel – ‘But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’”

      Yes.

      “Is it ‘immoral” to think of committing an “immoral” act? Is thinking of committing the act just as “bad” as actually committing the act?”

      Yes.

      “If one “thinks” of committing the act, should they be punished as if they had actually committed the act?”

      No. The only man that can see clearly enough to judge the heart and mind is the one that is doing the immoral thinking, and who among us likes to condemn ourselves? The only other one that sees is God, and he doesn’t condemn either. Romans 5:8-9 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” If he doesn’t condemn, why should man condemn, especially when man can’t see into other people’s hearts.

      “Can you name one Christian who follows this simple command?” (Bless them that curse you.)

      No. I can find rare times in people’s lives that I know where they have done such a thing, but no one ever follows this with any repetition. No one’s perfect. I think if they were, they’d better move on to some other planet.

      “Not even God did this (Genesis 12:3 – I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse)”

      How can God claim to be the authority and not be able to judge someone who blesses or curses? If God is a God who gives direction, then he should be able to discipline those who reject that direction.

      “Give me some evidence that believing in this “higher moral standard” actually results in Christians living a life of higher moral standards.”

      I can offer no evidence, but myself. If I lust over a woman other than my wife, my relationship with her is affected. The attention and desire she would normally have received is spent somewhere else. And I find, once it is spent, I can’t get it back. I also find tension that wouldn’t normally be there. I can’t explain the existence of that tension except that I act differently toward her with knowing it. The differences in behavior are subtle, but they make a significant difference. If I discipline my mind to only desire her, I find that a flame that had been once burned out is lit again. Sadly, I had no idea it had gone out. I was too busy spending desire where it shouldn’t be spent.

      Bob,
      Try changing your mind, the result may be the evidence you requested.

      1. bob – “If one “thinks” of committing the act, should they be punished as if they had actually committed the act?”

        Daniel – “No. The only man that can see clearly enough to judge the heart and mind is the one that is doing the immoral thinking,…”

        Daniel, if God’s moral standard is the standard you believe we should follow, and if thinking of sinning is equal to (according to God’s standard) physically committing the sin (adultery, fornication, murder, theft, etc, etc), then to be consistent, you should petition your governing body to pass laws that punish thought crimes as equal to physical crimes. I’m not dealing with how authorities would find out what a person is thinking. I am sure some would admit to contemplating murder and they would be dealt with just like a person who confesses to actually committing murder.

        Daniel – “…and who among us likes to condemn ourselves?”

        Obviously few, but you would think the Christian would have the higher moral standard to confess to the local authorities when they commit a thought crime. I mean, you confess to God don’t you? This is just another in a long line of Christian hypocrisy – “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Your own words show that you would ignore this verse if you were guilty of a thought crime. You, as any other Christian would ignore the higher moral standard and would immediately confess to the one who “…destroy both soul and body in hell…” but would hide your crime from those who can only destroy the body. Why is that? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

        bob – “Give me some evidence that believing in this “higher moral standard” actually results in Christians living a life of higher moral standards.”

        Daniel – “I can offer no evidence, but myself. If I lust over a woman other than my wife, my relationship with her is affected.”
        Surely you are not suggesting that non believers would not feel the slightest twinge of remorse when they allow lustful thoughts for another to enter their mind? As a non believer, I much prefer to contemplate sex with the lady I love. I want to give her my full sexual attention, physically and emotionally. Not because of any religious edict, but when I have thoughts of another, I feel like I am robbing my love of the attention only she should have….so, I try my best to think of only her, not out of fear or respect for an invisible supreme being, but out of respect for a real, tangible woman that I love.

        Daniel – Try changing your mind, the result may be the evidence you requested.
        Do you find it at all questionable that, since you can’t offer any evidence that Christians who claim a higher moral standard, actually live to a higher moral standard, and that if anything, the evidence shows that they, Christians, actually live a moral standard that is lower than the moral standard of non believers?
        Why is it that you pretty much shrug off actual evidence? I am guessing that if you could show that Christians actually lived to a higher moral standard, you wouldn’t hesitate, but since you can’t, you just ignore the fact that the evidence shows that proclaiming to have a higher moral standard is futile and meaningless, since it (the higher moral standard) has no affect on how believers (Christians) behave.

        In other words:
        Daniel – “I wonder if your (atheist) morality is the better morality.”
        Apparently it is.

        Daniel – “Each atheist goes about living the way he sees fit.”
        As does each Christian…so…what’s the difference?

        Your initial questions for this blog post alluded to some difference in the way Christians live their lives because of the higher moral standards that they follow, yet they don’t follow them. Is it at all disingenuous to claim a higher moral standard if you don’t follow it?

        Daniel, try changing your mind, the result may be that you can actually SEE the evidence.

        “The invisible and the non existent often look very much alike”

  11. “be consistent, you should petition your governing body to pass laws that punish thought crimes as equal to physical crimes.”

    Men’s laws are such now because we conclude as God does, that our value is worth more than the mistakes we make. Otherwise, no one would be left alive.

    But then, I know you know this. You are just making a point. And you have no evidence for saying that ALL Christians behave the same as everyone else. You can’t say with surety that there aren’t any who’s actions reflect their higher moral standards.

  12. Wow.

    If I could just offer some short of thoughts.

    I don’t know what could be proven about morality for the Christian or atheist. The disparity of morality between the two groups is not as visible in the developed world as it is in poor countries like Belize or Romania. But I don’t know that this is because they think better thoughts or because of their circumstances or what. I do believe however that they appear to have greater faith in God than Christians in the developed world perhaps because they are forced to depend on him more. They don’t have the resources that we do. They certainly can’t get online and blog about it.

    I don’t know if they truly live more moral lives than we do. But I think if there is one thing that makes them more moral, it is that they are grateful to God for what they have. And I think that if one is to live a life that is pleasing to God, it has to start with gratitude to God and appreciation for what we do have.

    Suggested reading – I Timothy 6:4-8. Actually I think all of chapter 6 is appropriate to this discussion.

  13. Daniel – “Men’s laws are such now because we conclude as God does, that our value is worth more than the mistakes we make.”

    Actually, very few of our modern laws have any basis in biblical laws. Sure, there was a time, right here in the USA, that I could be prosecuted for denying the divinity of Jesus, but not today. Just look at the “Ten Commandments” and tell me which ones I could be prosecuted for breaking. I think you will find that there are quit a few of God’s laws that I can break without fear of legal prosecution.

    Daniel – “Otherwise, no one would be left alive.”

    That is an incredibly naive view. Perhaps if you have access to a time machine, go visit the crusades, the reformation, the dark ages, and report back on who lived and who died…and why.

    Daniel – “And you have no evidence for saying that ALL Christians behave the same as everyone else.”

    That is not what I meant to say. Here is what I meant to say – As a rule, as a group, the moral behavior of Christians, as a group, is not much different than the moral behavior of non believers. Generally speaking, the only way to distinguish a Christian from a non believer is by asking them what they believe, or by seeing where they park their car between 10 and 12 on Sunday morning.
    Otherwise, Christians die, divorce, get sick, murder, lie, cheat, steal, all with the same frequency as non believers. Are there exceptions, yes, on both sides, good and bad.

    Daniel, why do you insist on trying to make a point FOR this higher morality? Am I not making valid points?

    Tim – “I don’t know what could be proven about morality for the Christian or atheist.”

    My point exactly.

    Tim – “The disparity of morality between the two groups is not as visible in the developed world as it is in poor countries like Belize or Romania.”

    Do you have any evidence that Christians in poor countries exhibit higher moral standards?

    Tim – “I don’t know if they truly live more moral lives than we do.”

    So you don’t have any evidence.

    Tim – “But I think if there is one thing that makes them more moral, it is that they are grateful to God for what they have.”

    But you just said you don’t know if they truly live more moral lives than we do. I don’t understand.

    1. Bob,

      I don’t understand why you don’t understand. I said “IF there is one thing that makes them more moral than us…..”

      I think it’s true based on reports from fellow Christians who have been to those countries. The reports are usually something like ‘they are more grateful to God’ or ‘they have so much faith in God’ or something like that. And it makes sense to me since they continue to serve God in spite of deep poverty. It should be easier for us to serve God because of our privileged existences in the developed world and yet many times we live selfishly. This is not to say this is always the case.

      My evidence is only the reports I’ve heard. I’m sure if I looked around on the internet for specific quotes, I could probably find them but I’m not going to do that.

      1. Bob,

        I want to say something. You always want some quote or link or some reference or some piece of evidence that what I say is correct. Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand why. You don’t want to be deceived and therefore you want to make sure that what I say is accurate. That is good. I agree with it. I think the same way. I guess it just bothers me to be called out on EVERY little fact I state. Especially when there are so many references these days to prove me wrong if I’m lying.

        I’m not lying to you Bob. I’m not gonna make something up just to make a point. I wouldn’t want someone to do that to me and so I’m not going to do that to them. The only evidence I have to prove this to you is all the facts I’ve stated so far. I don’t believe I’ve stated anything that cannot be backed up. That doesn’t mean what I’ve said can’t eventually be proven wrong. It’s just facts as I now know and understand them. As far as I know, I have never asked you to back up a fact. Mainly because I know what you state (right or wrong) to be so abundantly documented most of the time because usually it’s something I’ve heard before from other sources. But then again mostly you just ask questions and don’t usually state particular facts.

        I guess I’m just saying this to develop some mutual understanding. I understand wanting evidence for stuff I say on ID. I’ll be happy to provide you with any references you ask for on the subject, up to a point. I’m not going to do all the work. But if you really want to know about the state of the believing poor in developing countries I leave it to you to find out. I hope that doesn’t come off as offensive. I say it because I believe our society in general understands and respects the fact that believers in third world countries have a supernaturally abundant faith. I think it’s well understood. Maybe I’m mislead in thinking that. But I believe it’s true from the reports I’ve heard from many of my friends and fellow believers.

  14. Tim, I am very sorry if I gave you the impression that I thought you were lying. That was not my intention. You have not given me the slightest impression that you have said anything that you didn’t believe to be true. I was just trying to point out that you seemed to believe that Christians in poorer countries “seem” to be more moral than Christians in the USA, but then you admitted that you “…don’t know if they truly live more moral lives than we do.” It just seemed to prove my point that what Daniel seemed to be saying, about believers living a “higher moral standard” was a completely unsubstantiated argument.

    I would agree completely that Christians in poorer countries may seem to have “deeper faith”, but I would really have to seem some kind of study that showed that Christians in poorer countries exhibited higher morals than Christians (or non Christians) in wealthier countries. I just don’t think that “deeper faith” translates into higher morals in many cases.

    “Maybe I’m mislead in thinking that. But I believe it’s true from the reports I’ve heard from many of my friends and fellow believers.”
    Christians tend to be much less skeptical of the testimonies of other Christians. Personally, I would be much more receptive of an unbiased scientific social study than I would be of a report from a Christian friend who happened to visit a poor country on a two week mission trip. But that’s just my opinion, not knowing for sure what you have heard.

    1. Thank you for your response. I appreciate it. And I hope I didn’t come off as accusing in what I said. I wanted only to come to an understanding about it.

      “Christians tend to be much less skeptical of the testimonies of other Christians.”

      I agree with you on this. And I realize the reports I’ve heard fall into this category and is evidence based on personal experience, which doesn’t really prove anything to someone else. And I agree that deeper faith doesn’t necessarily translate into higher moral living.

      I wasn’t really trying to prove that anyway. I only think there may be something there worth looking at. Maybe through some social study as you said.

      I did want to make the point though, that any kind of recognizable moral living would start with gratitude to God and contentment with what he has given us. And believers in poor countries, I believe, teach us just that. I suppose I was talking to Christians more so in saying that. Faith is the thing anyway, not morals.

  15. Tim,
    sorry to have been absent for so long, my computer broke in a most spectacular fashion. Now that I’m here I’d like to address one or two of the points you made on the 21st.

    ‘What will happen, will happen’ – this fatalist tautology is pretty useless as a line of argument for two reasons. First of, it’s a tautology, the conclusion is also the premise. I could say that ‘Blue will always be blue,’ or ‘I’ll be there when I get there.’ You are quite right to say that this is not a scientific theory, but the implication there would be that someone suggested that it was, or is a scientific theory.
    This leads nicely to my second critique of this portion of the argument. It’s a straw man. Are you really presenting an argument against the proposition ‘what will happen, will happen’ claiming that this is not a scientific theory and therefore evolution is not a scientific theory? A non-sequitur.
    The problem here is that no evolutionary biologist worth their salt would make this kind of radical simplification to the point of distorting the original idea.
    Instead of claiming that ‘what will happen, will happen’, a scientist, or sceptic would claim ‘There are many sources of evidence for this having occurred,- it is theoretically possible for this to have occurred, we can observe this as it occurs and can, with some certainty, postulate that it will continue to occur.’

    This is not to say that some of your other lines of reasoning aren’t valid, but this small section certainly has some logical problems.

    On a small side note, biblical tautology is a dangerous trap to fall in to- it works something like this:

    Me: Why is the Bible true?
    YEC: Because the Bible is infallible.
    Me: Why is it infallible?
    YEC: Because the Bible is the word of God.
    Me: How do you know it’s the word of God?
    YEC: Because the bible says it is the word of God.
    Me: But how do you know that it’s telling you the truth?
    YEC: Because the Bible is infallible.

    You can see that the reasoning is flawed, but this point may be lost in the heat of intellectual battle. Keep it in mind, for the sake of a logical argument.

  16. The YEC there was Young Earth Creationist; I was having a similar discussion on another forum; I thought I’d cite it here as a marker of how things can go wrong.

    1. “‘What will happen, will happen’ – this fatalist tautology is pretty useless as a line of argument for two reasons. First of, it’s a tautology, the conclusion is also the premise.”

      My point exactly. The entire idea of adaptive differential reproduction or what is describe by the term natural selection is tautology. I compare them with the phrase ‘what will happen, will happen’ to show that. When you break down to it’s logic function, the tautology of ‘what will happen, will happen’ is all that is left.

      1. Furthermore, I don’t use those arguments you mentioned in defending the scriptures. There are external proofs. I’m sure you’ll ask for them but right now I am tired and want to relax. I can perhaps offer them another time. Or you could type the phrase ‘external proofs of scripture’ or some variation on that in to a search engine and find a list somewhere. But, of course, there are good books on the subject if you are interested.

  17. I have to disagree with you about that. Reduced to it’s simplest form the argument is not:- ‘what will happen, will happen’, but, as I pointed out earlier, ‘what has happened is observable, makes sense and is likely to continue to happen.’

    Specifically this might read:- ‘the best adapted of a species survives, passing on it’s genetic information, eventually speciation occurs. Thus we can assume that the best adapted will survive to the point of sexual maturity and pass on their genetic material, if this is so- we will eventually see speciation.’

    This is not a tautology, but a statement of the obvious. It seems obvious to us because it makes sense.

    There is a hypothesis, there is sound logic, there is evidence- and a fairly stable conclusion.

    I must point out my basic understanding of biology, genetics and evolutionary theory.

    I’ve added some further reading style resources below, in an attempt to give you some expert resources on the subject. the articles are interesting and well written.

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1782
    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=1736

    the latter is very interesting to me.

  18. Sorry, I realise I have lead to the conversation away from the subject of morality. I understand this is a moral discussion and I’ve been elaborating on the evolution vs intelligent design argument. I think this is somewhat relevant, as a definition of terms.

    1. I tend to do the same thing. Any discussion that takes from or lends to the theist vs atheist dichotomy I tend to take in the direction of science.

      ‘what has happened is observable, makes sense and is likely to continue to happen.’

      No offense, but this still sounds like ‘what will happen, will happen’ to me. But you did add a couple of elements I wish to discuss. 1) You stated that it was observable. 2) You stated that it made sense.

      On number one – I assume you are talking about speciation. I don’t know how it is observable. We can’t see it happening and we don’t have enough evidence to make plausible the claim that is ever has happened.

      On number two – By a sort of pigeonhole effect it is the only thing that makes sense from a naturalist/materialist philosophical perspective. And most scientists these days attempt to define science from that philosophical basis, which is where the pigeonholing comes from. So to say it makes sense, implies a materialist predisposition that doesn’t accept external causes.

      I want to add though, that it doesn’t actually make sense when run through the litmus test of the world we see around us. We see genetic mutations doing far more harm than good and not adding information but only either copying or scrambling information. Not to mention we have an enormous lack of transitional fossils to support the claim that any transitions ever happened. And we certainly don’t see single celled life popping up in unexpected places. Lab experiments to that end have failed. If materialists then claim that it only happened once, that makes it a unique event. Which is better explained by an external cause, or it at least implies one.

      Thanks for the articles. I’ll check them out here in a few and comment accordingly.

  19. “We see genetic mutations doing far more harm than good…”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/2/l_012_02.html

    http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoMutations.html

    “I assume you are talking about speciation. I don’t know how it is observable. We can’t see it happening and we don’t have enough evidence to make plausible the claim that is ever has happened.”

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    http://nondiscovery.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/speciation-more-evidence-ignored-by-intelligent-design/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sympatric_speciation

    “So to say it makes sense, implies a materialist predisposition that doesn’t accept external causes.”

    Tim, please provide evidence for an intelligent, purpose driven, external cause. By evidence, I don’t mean pointing out “gaps” in the science of evolutionary biology. Those gaps do not, by default, point to your God, or any god…agreed?

    1. The one from pbs.org – It’s a mutation that gives its host a debilitating disease. It cancels itself out as a beneficial mutation. And even if it didn’t, it does not provide evidence that it goes beyond the parameters of adaptation and into macro-evolution.

      Do you always have to argue like this – listing so much stuff that a person has to sacrifice significant portions of their time to make a worthwhile rebuttal? I don’t mind examining the evidence from a fellow debater but in short bursts, not all at once. You see, now I have to go through and examine all of this stuff or else you will consider anything I leave unanswered to be unchallenged material. But I don’t want to go through all this stuff. I may eventually but for now I have picked out three. The one above and the two below.

      Number two on the gate.net page – again this is an example of adaptation within species parameters. No one is saying adaptations (micro-evolution) do not happen, but it’s quite a large extrapolation to assume that this example then proves, as William F. Buckley once put it, “that ‘Hamlet’ was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop.” – a variation on a quote from Thomas Huxley.

      Example one from nondiscovery.wordpress.com – Yes, this adaptation provided two distinct populations of flies. But they were still flies. If this is speciation, then you and I are two different species. We have different characteristics. I think it’s safe to say that if you and your descendants breed with people on one side of the world and my descendants and I breed on the other side that by the end of it, both sets of descendants will have distinct characteristics that are homogeneous to each lone descended group. But both groups will still be human just like both populations in the example were still flies.

      I already provided evidential support from four main tenets of intelligent design theory on my reply to you on “A Letter to Bob.” I don’t know if you looked at them because you didn’t reply but I’ll re-post them here again.

      Re-post:

      Bob,

      1. Irreducibly complex systems – e.g. molecular machines. “Darwin’s Black Box”, Michael Behe. i.e. bacterial flagellum

      2. Digital coding in DNA – base pairs and their order. “Signature in the Cell”, Stephen Meyer. i.e. processing of information in DNA. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVkdQhNdzHU

      3. Specified complexity – origin of information in systems. “No Free Lunch”, William Dembski. i.e. coding language in DNA. http://www.designinference.com

      4. Fine tuning – specified complexity in physics and cosmology. “Understanding Intelligent Design”, authors Dembski & McDowell. i.e. strength of the electromagnetic force.

      Personal recommendations – “Uncommon Dissent” – http://www.designinference.com/documents/2003.09.UncDiss_Intro_Contribs.pdf

      More… “Case for a Creator” (the full version, not the student version) author Lee Strobel. “Intelligent Design 101″ a collaborative work edited by H. Wayne House.

      Favorite authors and speakers on the subject: J.P. Moreland, David Berlinski, William Dembski, Ravi Zacharias.

  20. Tim – “Do you always have to argue like this – listing so much stuff that a person has to sacrifice significant portions of their time to make a worthwhile rebuttal?”

    Pot-kettle-black Tim. I listed 5 links.

    As you can see in the re-post, you listed 3 links, 4 books, and 4 “favorite Authors and speakers on the subject.”

    Personally, I like to take one single item in one single topic and stick to that. I just assumed, based on your post, that posting just like you was acceptable. Guess I learned my lesson…

    So, as I asked in my previous post, “please provide evidence for an intelligent, purpose driven, external cause. By evidence, I don’t mean pointing out “gaps” in the science of evolutionary biology. Those gaps do not, by default, point to your God, or any god…agreed?”

    Tim, if the only “evidence” you have is – pointing to gaps, then hopefully one day you will see that does not equal “evidence”. Pointing out that science doesn’t have all the answers (which scientists will gladly admit) is a waste of time. What you need to do is actually present scientific evidence that your God is real, and that your God is responsible for creating all that we see, and then offer scientific evidence as to HOW he did it.

    You don’t actually think evolutionary theory is “full of holes” do you Tim? You actually consider it to be one giant hole, one big lie. When you say it is full of holes, you actually mean that, in your mind, even the areas between the holes are false.
    Is this a fair description of how you view biological evolution?

    1. “You don’t actually think evolutionary theory is “full of holes” do you Tim? You actually consider it to be one giant hole, one big lie. When you say it is full of holes, you actually mean that, in your mind, even the areas between the holes are false.
      Is this a fair description of how you view biological evolution?”

      Actually, no, it is not. There are parts of the theory that certainly would make sense if the evidence was adequate to the task. And to deny the stuff in between the holes would be to deny existing materials and facts that point to something. But, I mean, do you not agree that with all the diverse life on this planet and all the “billions” of years that it took to form all the existing species, that we should find more than just 5,6 or even 16 fossils that appear to be transitional, but that we should be stumbling over them ‘in the streets’, so to speak?

      “Tim, if the only “evidence” you have is – pointing to gaps, then hopefully one day you will see that does not equal “evidence”.”

      How is the evidence I presented just gaps? Information theory looks for scientific evidence of design. It is done in archaeology, SETI, criminal investigation. It is used in those fields to detect design or intelligence. Scientists in these fields measure the likelihood of patterns and events being just random. Like in archaeology, they ask ‘Is this stone with sharp edges and symmetrical ridges a product of purposeful design or did it form naturally?’ If they determine it was designed by a native of their archaeological dig site then they might call it an arrowhead and put it in a museum. It becomes a piece of evidence in determining the history of that culture. Why can’t we apply that to biology? The stuff I listed attempts to do just that. It looks for a “footprint”, as you mentioned in your other post. The foot print is things like fine tuning and coding in DNA. The question ID theorists ask is ‘what is the likelihood of these coincidences being just that, coincidences?’ ‘What is the likelihood of things like this just filing into place randomly?’ ‘Is this stone (or molecular machine) with sharp edges and symmetrical ridges a product of purposeful design or did it form (evolve) naturally?’ Really, ID theory is quite passive in this regard. In spite of pressure, probably from religious groups, to make it more aggressive.

      “Pot-kettle-black Tim. I listed 5 links.

      As you can see in the re-post, you listed 3 links, 4 books, and 4 ‘favorite Authors and speakers on the subject.'”

      Fair enough. I apologize for being self-serving in my previous post. I should have realized I was doing the same thing. In the future I will attempt to be more accommodating when it comes to listing sources. I apologize for projecting that behavior onto you.

  21. Tim – “But, I mean, do you not agree that with all the diverse life on this planet and all the “billions” of years that it took to form all the existing species, that we should find more than just 5,6 or even 16 fossils that appear to be transitional, but that we should be stumbling over them ‘in the streets’, so to speak?”

    Problem 1 – Many fossils that are considered transitional (let’s face it, scientifically speaking, every fossil is “transitional” because every species is “transitional”) are not considered transitional by IDr’s. It is easy to claim that they are simply a separate extinct species.

    Problem 2 – Fossils are extremely fragile. The vast majority will never be found, and an even vaster majority have already crumbled.

    From what I have read, scientists believe they have a lot more than 16 transitional fossils. If that is actually a problem, since you cited this disparity, can you tell me how many it would take to convince you of the science?

    “There are parts of the theory that certainly would make sense if the evidence was adequate to the task.”
    Tim, if it weren’t for the first couple pages in the bible, do you think we would be having this conversation?

    I am going to ask this again, not to be snotty, but I think it is an important question, especially due to the demands you place on the science of evolutionary biology: Please provide evidence for an intelligent, purpose driven, external cause. By evidence, I don’t mean pointing out “gaps” in the science of evolutionary biology. Those gaps do not, by default, point to your God, or any god.

    1. “From what I have read, scientists believe they have a lot more than 16 transitional fossils. If that is actually a problem, since you cited this disparity, can you tell me how many it would take to convince you of the science?”

      I meant 16 per transition. I don’t know how many there actually are. I know they don’t have fossils for every alleged transition. And for the ones they do have it is commonplace to not have more than 2 or3. I think there may be some cases where they have a few more. I would expect there to be maybe 50,000 or 100,000 transitionals for every major change. But it’s hard to say because very few if any one in the scientific community has proposed a number. I’m only repeating mathematician David Berlinski in quoting 50,000 or 100,000.

      “I am going to ask this again, not to be snotty, but I think it is an important question, especially due to the demands you place on the science of evolutionary biology: Please provide evidence for an intelligent, purpose driven, external cause. By evidence, I don’t mean pointing out “gaps” in the science of evolutionary biology. Those gaps do not, by default, point to your God, or any god.”

      Have you even considered the evidence I’ve provided? They are not just negative in that they take away from an existing theory. They are positive in that they lend credence to an alternative theory. And they work on the same principles of other sciences like, as I mentioned before, archaeology.

      ““There are parts of the theory that certainly would make sense if the evidence was adequate to the task.”
      Tim, if it weren’t for the first couple pages in the bible, do you think we would be having this conversation?”

      It’s not just that the evidence is not adequate to the task. But, as I’ve said and I know you do not accept, there is evidence to support an alternative as well. Those things that would make sense, would only make sense if the needed evidence was adequate. Even then it would seem preposterous to say that non-living particles self-assembled into living particles, an event outside of the parameters of what is considered possible mathematically.

      “Fossils are extremely fragile. The vast majority will never be found, and an even vaster majority have already crumbled.”

      How convenient.

      “Those gaps do not, by default, point to your God, or any god.”

      I never claimed they pointed to my God. They point to a mind.

  22. “It is easy to claim that they are simply a separate extinct species.”

    A separate species that lacks the documented lineage needed to demonstrate transition.

  23. “Fossils are extremely fragile. The vast majority will never be found, and an even vaster majority have already crumbled.”

    “How convenient.”

    Fossilization is an exceptionally rare occurrence, because most components of formerly-living things tend to decompose relatively quickly following death. In order for an organism to be fossilized, the remains normally need to be covered by sediment as soon as possible. However there are exceptions to this, such as if an organism becomes frozen, desiccated, or comes to rest in an anoxic (oxygen-free) environment. There are several different types of fossils and fossilization processes.

    Due to the combined effect of taphonomic processes and simple mathematical chance, fossilization tends to favor organisms with hard body parts, those that were widespread, and those that existed for a long time before going extinct. On the other hand, it is very unusual to find fossils of small, soft bodied, geographically restricted and geologically ephemeral organisms, because of their relative rarity and low likelihood of preservation.

    Larger specimens (macrofossils) are more often observed, dug up and displayed, although microscopic remains (microfossils) are actually far more common in the fossil record.

    Some casual observers have been perplexed by the rarity of transitional species within the fossil record. The conventional explanation for this rarity was given by Darwin, who stated that “the extreme imperfection of the geological record,” combined with the short duration and narrow geographical range of transitional species, made it unlikely that many such fossils would be found. Simply put, the conditions under which fossilization takes place are quite rare; and it is highly unlikely that any given organism will leave behind a fossil. Eldredge and Gould developed their theory of punctuated equilibrium in part to explain the pattern of stasis and sudden appearance in the fossil record. Furthermore, in the strictest sense, nearly all fossils are “transitional,” due to the improbability that any given fossil represents the absolute termination of an evolutionary path.
    link – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil

    “Those gaps do not, by default, point to your God, or any god.”

    “I never claimed they pointed to my God. They point to a mind.”

    I must have misspoke – you do not believe in the God of the bible, but in some unspecified, unknown consciousness. Thanks for clearing that up…

    …or…

    …you know, and I know, that you firmly believe that your God is responsible. It matters not whether you type it out.

    David Berlinski – “Just for the record: I have never endorsed any creationist views whatsoever; and I am a published critic of intelligent design. I take airplanes because I believe in the principles of fluid dynamics; when I must use a cell phone, I place my faith in quantum electrodynamics.”
    link – http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/the-scientific-embrace-of-atheism/

    1. “David Berlinski – ‘Just for the record: I have never endorsed any creationist views whatsoever; and I am a published critic of intelligent design. I take airplanes because I believe in the principles of fluid dynamics; when I must use a cell phone, I place my faith in quantum electrodynamics.'”

      What’s your point?

    2. “you know, and I know, that you firmly believe that your God is responsible.”

      Of course I do. I just didn’t say you could get there by studying biology.

  24. “David Berlinski – ‘Just for the record: I have never endorsed any creationist views whatsoever; and I am a published critic of intelligent design. I take airplanes because I believe in the principles of fluid dynamics; when I must use a cell phone, I place my faith in quantum electrodynamics.’”

    What’s your point?

    I would think my point is obvious – one of your “Favorite authors and speakers on the subject” does not support what you believe to be true. Does that not seem odd to you?

    1. “I would think my point is obvious – one of your “Favorite authors and speakers on the subject” does not support what you believe to be true. Does that not seem odd to you?”

      I know he doesn’t. I quote him not because he is a proponent of intelligent design, but because he is an eloquent dissenter from the theory of evolution. I love his work and his style of approach to the subject. I don’t see a problem here.

  25. Oh, and if you care to, please clarify your statement;

    “I never claimed they pointed to my God. They point to a mind.”

    This is a clear example of wishful thinking.

    Please explain how a “gap” in the fossil record, which is simply missing information, points “to a mind”.

    How do you make the leap from – missing information = an eternal supernatural disembodied consciousness with a purpose

    ???

    My guess – you either can’t (or won’t) see the complete absurdity of that statement of belief.

    1. It is not wishful thinking. It is following the prescription given by Darwin himself. He said “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Michael Behe demonstrated just that in his book “Darwin’s Black Box” on irreducible complexity. The idea that something could not have evolved into it’s current form, implies that it was designed specifically to fit it’s function. And if there is a design, there was probably a designer.

  26. “Michael Behe demonstrated just that in his book “Darwin’s Black Box” on irreducible complexity.”

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html

    There’s just to much information listed for me to read right now and offer up a rebuttal. So, if you are interested, feel free.

    I would say, if you tout someone as an expert, it may be a good idea to see what other experts think. Unless – you desperately want to cling to what you believe.

    1. Bob,

      Long time.

      I have to admit that I don’t know enough about molecular biology or biochemistry to properly judge all of Keith Robinson’s points in the article. Or all of Behe’s arguments for that matter.

      I will say I disagree with Robinson’s first argument – that a mousetrap is not irreducibly complex because the base can be taken away and the other components can be pounded into the floor. Well, where did the floor come from? The floor is nothing different than a base except that it is really large. It’s really just a really large base. Behe makes a similar argument in reply as well but Robinson dismisses it saying: “The base-free mousetrap still functions; it simply uses a component of its natural environment in its workings.” He says Behe misses the point. But I honestly think that Robinson misses the point on this one. Somebody built the floor, just as somebody built the original base for the mousetrap. The floor is the same thing, philosophically speaking, as the original base. In fact, mousetraps might have been made with floors as their bases all along except for the fact that we needed them to be portable, lol.

      His other arguments are over my head. Behe would be much more equipped to respond to them and he does in the article. Robinson attempts to refute some of Behe’s argument. But then again, I’m sure Behe would have a refutation for those refutations and then Robinson would respond by refuting those refutations of his refutations, and on and on.

      This illustrates an important point in this debate. We all working with the same facts under different paradigms. And both paradigms appear to lend themselves to a certain interpretation of the facts. This is circular on both accounts. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that both are wrong. Paradigms by definition lend to their own propagation. Therefore, no one is questioning the facts, just the interpretations thereof. Who will tell us which one is correct? Well, I’m sure proponents from both sides will be happy to. 🙂

  27. Hi Tim,
    I guess this horse is long dead…but I just can’t stop beating it 🙂

    Tell me, can you put an approximate time span on how long ago you believe God created life on earth?

    I ask because I just wonder if, in your mind, that evolution of species even has a chance of being true. I wonder if you consider it a possibility or impossibility.

    If you believe what science has concluded, that life on earth began several billion years ago, and it would seem only logical that – “IF” evolution of species did happen, it would probably take a very, very long time, and it would then seem that you would at least believe that this long time span gives evolution one thing it needs – many, many years.
    It would seem then, that one main reason you would discount the theory is because of the gaps in the fossil record.

    However, if you believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old, then obviously there is no way life could have evolved from simple to complex forms. So, in your mind, evolution would be an obvious impossibility and you would have to conclude that every different fossil that we now have is a separate species created by God.

    So, how long ago do you believe life began on earth?

    I am going in several directions here, but there is no reason to go in either unless I understand what you believe – young earth or very, very old earth.

    1. I am kind of addicted to beating the horse as well, lol. Poor horse.

      Well, you know, I’ve been in and out of that whole question. I’ve thought the earth is young and than old and then young again and then I’m not sure. Right now, I’m not sure. I will admit it looks really old. Is it possible that there is a reason for it to look really old and yet be young? Well certainly it’s possible. But is it plausible? I’m out to lunch on that. Some Christians believe that the Genesis account can be interpreted to include millions of years. But when I look at it, it really seems to say just six days. Is it symbolic or literal? Then there is the Gap theory that claims there is a large Gap in time between Genesis one and two before God “restored” the earth. That doesn’t seem to make sense. Then I started thinking, ‘is it possible for the earth to be old and young at the same time?’ Was the earth created in “time” or was “time” created later? Or did God make the universe with the Big Bang and then hit the fast-forward button so that things could naturally mature and then hit play again around six thousand years ago once the earth was ready for man?

      Honestly, it’s hard to reconcile what we see with what we are told by God, whom we believe has revealed himself to us through scripture. Is it possible scripture is flawed somehow by it’s human author’s limited knowledge? Or, by asking that, am I just trying to make scripture fit a popular worldview? – I know you’re gonna pounce on this question – well maybe not. Or is there something missing that might pull all the pieces together? I don’t know.

      So you’ve hit on the lynch pin here and I don’t have a stable answer.

      If I were to adopt one view, it might be that “time”, which God sits outside of (since he was it’s creator), was not yet measured out into it’s current increments at the beginning. This might explain the discrepancy. And if there was a time for that to happen, it makes sense for it to be at the moment of creation before God was done with it all. Is it possible that creation, for a period, was outside of time before God was finished? Like I said, “If I were to adopt one view.”

      I trust that there is an answer to it all.

  28. “I know you’re gonna pounce on this question – well maybe not.”

    No, no pouncing here Tim. Honestly, I find your answers (or non answers) refreshing. From my perspective, not knowing for sure is perfectly fine. And as I am fond of stating to believers – you may be right, your God may have created it all – I just don’t know.

    And I agree, there is an answer to it all. We probably won’t live long enough to hear those answers to the questions we most want answered.

    Tim, it appears to me that the only reason you have this dilemma (young earth – vs – old earth) is because of the first page or two in Genesis. You agree that the earth appears to be old. Science says it is old. But because of Genesis 1, you can’t quite settle the question in your mind.

    I believe I am stating that correctly, and I really don’t have a point to make.

    I guess I just think it is worth pointing out – one chapter in a 2,000 year old book can make a reasonable, obviously intelligent man question, doubt, even deny a few hundred years of science.

    But I understand.

    bob
    r.u.reasonable@gmail.com

    1. Hi Tim,

      There is a book called The Genesis Enigma by Andrew Parker. In it, Parker works very hard to match the current scientific beliefs with Genesis, and claims that Genesis, out of the entire Bible, is divinely inspired. With all due respect, I don’t think the two can be reconciled. The weird thing was that the first part of the book, covering how life evolved, was very lucid, and matched other books I have read on the subject. The last part, that talked about the textual analysis of the Old Testament with regard to the authors, was fascinating. The little part in the middle where he reached his conclusions about Genesis being divinely inspired, because of how well it matches the scientific theory that could not have been known to mere mortals at that time, seemed like an essay that was cut and pasted from an entirely different author’s work. I would be curious to hear from any Christians who have read the book to get their take on it.

      Thanks.

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