Dear Determinist, (Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, or whoever reads this first)

I’m sorry, but you’re not a real person. You don’t have your own thoughts, make your own decisions, or control your own actions. If you stand here and argue with me, I can only regard it as the universe arguing with itself. One part of the universe argues and says “A” is true and “B” is false, while another part of the universe declares “B” true and “A” false. The universe declares “A” and “B” to be both true and false, therefore truth is incoherent in this universe. In the absence of a standard outside of the universe, there is no truth for beings who are just another part of this incoherent universe.  So, determinist, you’ll have to excuse me if I can’t believe anything you say.

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Who searches for truth and who has the truth?

Richard Dawkins questions God:

“The cheetah is superbly equipped for killing gazelles. The gazelle is superbly equipped to escape from those very same cheetahs. For heaven’s sake, who’s side is the designer on? Is he a sadist who enjoys the spectator sport? Did he who made the lamb make thee? Is it really part of the divine plan that the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the lion eat straw like the ox? In that case, what price the formidable carnassial teeth, the murderous claws of the lion and the leopard? Whence the breathtaking speed and the agile escapology of the antelope and the zebra?”

It reminds me of a previous questioner of God:

“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

And yet I’m reminded of God’s questions:

“Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof? Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.”

A Letter to Bob

Bob, you are right. Simply looking at the beginning of everything we cannot draw a God-conclusion or a non-God-conclusion. However, before I go further let me point something out.

We are in a game of chess that can never really end with one of us taking the king, neither can we put each other in checkmate. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some damage done. Here and there a pawn or bishop has been taken. And your last argument may seem like a pretty good ending argument. But, there is still more ground to cover. We can just end it here, and agree to disagree, or keep going. So, if you would like to go further, here is my next move:

The next logical place to go in this argument is whether or not truth exists, and whether or not we can know it. To say that it does not exist presents a logical fallacy. For the statement itself is presented as a truth. Either the statement, “There is no truth.”, is truth itself making the statement silly, or it is false making truth itself a reality. And what are we trying to do here if not live the truth we see and hope it matches with reality. Now, if we are agreed that truth exists, we must also be agreed on its nature. That nature is exclusivity. A rock cannot be a duck. A tree cannot sing the blues. A black car is black and not gray. We call these things truth, for they remain the same to all who perceive them.

Now, there can’t be a God and not a God at the same time. One statement is true and one statement is false. But, can we know the truth? If we can find truth in our day, we must look for clues that point to that truth. As I said before, it is not the job of science to either point to the existence of God, or the existence of evolution. It is our bias that we are stating if we say that it does. We attain our bias through choice. So, before we even see the evidence, our perception is already guided in a direction of our own choosing. It would then follow that what we perceive and how we do it is very important.

Some people look at the world and see order. Others see chance. Although it is your right to hold either perception, one of them is wrong and one is right. I can do nothing about someone else’s perception, but I can make mine as reasonable as possible. I think you already know my position. I see order, and therefore perceive that this order points to a Creator. I’m sure you can pick up the argument from here.

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The “Dear Atheist” Letters

Dear Atheist,

I was told by another atheist that without belief, man cannot aspire to greater understanding and a means of exploring the social and physical universe. I agree with this statement. If all we did was observe, what good would it do us? Man, by nature, comes to conclusions or beliefs. The evolutionist believes in evolution and fits the observed facts into his beliefs. The Christian fits the observed facts into his beliefs as well, but the Christian is condemned for it.

You chide the Christian for having an immovable belief. They believe in God no matter what evidence is presented to them. “At least we,” you say, “change what we believe based on new evidence obtained.” The evolutionist is proud of this change, assuming it is a step towards the more accurate. However, in this statement, you are admitting to believing in errors. You believe in error till a more accurate error comes around. You can’t be sure that what you’re believing is real. It’s just the best that you can do at the moment, till something disproves it. But in the disproving, there is still the thought that this fact may be disproved as well. At least the Christian is not unstable in his beliefs.

Sincerely,
Theist

The Mysteries of the Moon

Feel free to click on any image for a bigger version you can use as wallpaper. The information listed below and these images come from the documentary Direct From The Moon by the discovery channel.

Kaguya, Japan’s lunar explorer, launched on September 2007. Since then it has sent back information and pictures in high definition quality. Previous photographs could only identify craters that were 1,500 feet in diameter. Kaguya can identify ones that are 30 feet in diameter and render them in 3D. This spacecraft is helping to unlock secrets that have eluded scientists since the early days of humanity.

Whenever man looks at the night skies, he only sees one side of the moon. The near side, as it has come to be called, contains soil with a higher density as indicated by the Kaguya and it’s shifting orbit. The far side of the moon contains soil with low density. The answer to why there exists a difference between the two sides is no longer elusive now that the Kaguya can analyze underneath the surface of the moon. It has allowed them to come up with a theory of how the moon was formed:

4.5 billion years ago a rogue planet the size of Mars smashed into our planet.

It superheated the Earth and created debris that collected around the orbit of the earth. This debris connected at one point and the moon was born.

In the early days of it’s formation, the moon had a closer orbit than it does today. As a result, Earth’s gravity pulled on the moon so that it became an egg shape.

As the moon moved further away in orbit, Earth’s gravitational force dragged softened rock to one side which contained uranium and other radioactive deposits and the moon became more cylindrical.

The patterns on the face of the moon are craters that were long ago filled with dark lava which was pulled toward the near side. There is hardly any trace of dark lava on the dark side(or far side) but there are many craters. The gravitational force is greater on the near side and weaker on the far side.

On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the Sea of Tranquility on the surface of the moon.

Never before in the history of mankind have two men ever been further from home. The astronauts could only stay for about two hours. The moon’s mass contains high deposits of uranium (very radioactive) and reaches temperatures of negative 280 degrees Fahrenheit.

On November 1969, the Apollo 12 mission reached the Ocean of Storms region on the moon and spent eight hours on the surface.

Apollo 13 launched in April of 1970 and planned to visit the Fra Mauro region, but turned back when an oxygen tank exploded.

Afterwards, the Soviet Union sent two lunar rovers to the moon to gather information, calculate the exact distance between the Earth and the moon, and measure continental drift.

On December 1972, Apollo 17 visited The Valley of Taurus Littrow.

This expedition marked the end of the Apollo program and no human has set foot on the moon since. However, a curious discovery was made on the Apollo 17 mission by Jack Schmidt, a geologist. He discovered an orange colored soil. The secret contained in this soil would not be unlocked for more than 40 years. Collectively, the Apollo missions brought about half a ton of moon rocks back to the Earth for study. Man is going back to the moon to stay in the year 2020 the date set by NASA.

Since it’s launch, the Kaguya has discovered 40 more pockets of the orange soil. Fortunately, the mystery of this soil was unlocked by Dr. Alberto Saal. He used his mass spectrometer to analyze the soil and found an unknown chemical substance and water. This sparked a theory:

The impact of the mars like planet vaporized Earth’s water. Most of the vaporized water settled back on earth because of the strength of earth’s gravity. The water contained in the fragments of the explosion that eventually formed the moon releases out into space except for some of it that was trapped in the volcanic rock which eventually form craters. Scientists calculating the age of the craters on the moon by using the depth and width of neighboring craters as a reference point believe that the moon’s craters are four billion years old. However, the number of craters cannot be explained by dating methods alone. So, scientists came up with another theory:

Many of the craters were formed mostly by asteroids from the asteroid belt on Jupiter. Jupiter’s orbit apparently shifted slightly and sent asteroids hurdling towards the moon and the Earth.


The asteroids hitting Earth create enough pressure to form amino acids; the building blocks of life. Asteroids contain mostly iron. Tests have been conducted by smashing certain elements together at speeds of 2000 miles per hour. These tests showed that if iron, carbon, water, and nitrogen (the elements found on Earth) collide under pressure, an amino acid is formed. This may have been the catalyst that started evolution on its journey.

An alternative viewpoint:

This whole story seems very one sided. This evidence fits only partly into the theories propagated by these scientists. I don’t see scientists trying to fit these pieces into other explanations. Certainly, there are many more religious people than there are scientists. We should honor those theories and see how the evidence fits into them as well.

Also, there is another word for theories that support theories – fiction. We need to recognize these are theories and not facts that support beliefs or conclusions. Again, how you handle truth effects your knowledge of the beginning of life.

Interestingly enough, scientific theories of how life begins always start with a great violent act. Maybe we’re employing the wrong scientists. Since when does order come out of chaos?

Insanity

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 Meaning, as a concept, seems to be woven into the fabric of our lives. Just look at the latest magazines on the shelves. Everyone is searching for meaning. You’d think that if we all evolved that there would be some folks without a purpose. By mere chance, there has to be someone out there whose life doesn’t mean a thing. Not everyone needs to live a meaningful life in order to contribute to humanity. That is, if you believe that we are here on the earth by chance. The fact remains that everyone, down to the last pathetic human being, searches for and believes that there is meaning in their lives. And meaning is linked to purpose. Find what action you are supposed to fulfill and your life will be fulfilled.

 But is there inherent meaning in our lives, or is this all just a lie we make so we can continue living? Nietzsche says that even rocks have a purpose. A rock can stop you from occupying the same space as itself. It exerts a force upon you, however passive, and stops you from going so far. As humans, we also give things around us names. By naming something, we give it a supposed meaning. We aren’t content to find meaning in our lives, but we look for meaning everywhere else.

 Now you may say that we superimpose meanings on our lives and everything around us, but there is no real meaning. Usually, those who say this say that we can find meaning in the actions we do throughout the day, but there is no “one” meaning or “one” purpose for our lives. While no real meaning is involved, we imagine meaning. However, if there is no real meaning, I might as well stop writing at this very moment and quit life in general.

 Either there is inherent meaning in everything or there is not. If there is inherent meaning, then the universe has a purpose. If it has a purpose, there is a cause. If there is a cause, there is a causer. And this causer is responsible for everything. If there is no meaning, then we all live in delusion. We suppose meaning that isn’t there. We must all question our sanity. Why would we not live in reality (whatever that is)? Have we adapted throughout evolution just to stay alive? But why stay alive? Is it so important that we breathe and move? What is life anyway if we are all just tissue, bones, blood, and organs moving about? Give me one good reason to go on living if we all just live in delusion. Life for the sake of life has no meaning. The world will never accept such a thesis.

 The search for meaning in our lives is a search for God–clear and simple. Even the atheist goes on living. Now, why would he do that?

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The Robots Are Alive!!!

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  Warning: This is not light reading.

Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.

  • I. J. Good (Statistician)

Technological Singularity

Mathematician and computer scientist Vernor Vinge:

What are the consequences of this event? When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself would not involve the creation of still more intelligent entities – on a still-shorter time scale.

In 2000, AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky and entrepreneur Brian Atkins founded the Singularity Institute to work toward smarter-than-human intelligence by engaging in Artificial Intelligence and machine ethics research. Yudkowsky states:

The Singularity is beyond huge, but it can begin with something small. If one smarter-than-human intelligence exists, that mind will find it easier to create still smarter minds. In this respect the dynamic of the Singularity resembles other cases where small causes can have large effects; toppling the first domino in a chain, starting an avalanche with a pebble, perturbing an upright object balanced on its tip. All it takes is one technology – Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or perhaps something unforeseen – that advances to the point of creating smarter-than-human minds. That one technological advance is the equivalent of the first self-replicating chemical that gave rise to life on Earth.

 What, then, is the Singularity? It’s a future period during which the pace of technological change will be so rapid, its impact so deep, that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Although neither utopian or dystopian, this epoch will transform the concepts that we rely on to give meaning to our lives, from our business models to the cycle of human life, including death itself. Understanding the Singularity will alter our perspective on the significance of our past and the ramifications for our future. To truly understand it inherently changes one’s view of life in general and one’s own particular life.

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  The term “singularity” was first used to describe all matter in the universe that converged at some finite point in the past. From there it expanded over time into the universe we have today. The next event that was comparable to that was the right conditions and right amount of proteins and various chemicals for life to begin on earth. This was the start of evolution. It seems today that this quest for the next cosmic event dubbed the singularity is man’s attempt to take evolution to the the next step. There is no need to wait for evolution to do its job, man can create more advanced life.

I do not prescribe to evolution or the philosophies presented above. However, I do have thoughts on the matter. If greater-than-human intelligence changed every aspect of our lives, it would not preclude us from answering the age old questions that still haunt us today. Also, we have access to greater-than-human intelligence in God. If you happen to not believe in God, well… that’s just too bad for you because the questions of life can only be answered by the greater-than-human intelligence found in the Creator. Advanced life created in the world by the abilities of man would still have no outside-of-the-universe knowledge. Therefore, answers gained by looking at the “box” of the universe may be more complex, but ultra-intelligent life still would not gain any more truth than we would. We all look at the same “box”.

I’m not pronouncing doom on the singularity project. Certainly, progress in technology changes our lives for the better. However, the plight of humans will continue until time is over. Nothing will change that.

The Singularity Summit is a meeting by scientists and mathematicians alike that report on the progress of technology toward the singularity.

The first Singularity Summit was held at Stanford in 2006 to further understanding and discussion about the Singularity concept and the future of human technological progress. It was founded as a venue for leading thinkers to explore the subject, whether scientist, enthusiast, or skeptic.

Here is a link to the Singularity Summit videos. I found them extremely interesting.

http://www.vimeo.com/siai/videos

What in the Universe is “Ex Nihilo”

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“The Bible teaches that the universe had a beginning. It does not teach that this beginning was recent. That is a mistaken inference based on adding up the life spans of various Old Testament figures. But the Old Testament genealogies do not purport to record every generation, and in any case, such a reckoning would take us back only as far as the creation of life on earth, not to the very origin of the universe.”

-William Craig Lane

Science, however, does support the Bible’s conclusion that the universe was created, just not in the way that most Christians think. In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered through his observations of light in the universe that the universe is growing apart. Not only was the universe expanding, but it was expanding the same in all directions. To illustrate this, imagine a balloon with buttons covering every square inch of it. As air is blown inside, the buttons get farther and farther apart.

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The implication of this expansion is what brings us to the same conclusion as the Bible. Basically, if one were to travel backward in time, he would witness the universe returning to the point of origin. It would shrink in size until, at some finite point in the past, it reached a point of infinite density from which the universe began to expand. This point becomes known as the “singularity”.

“At this singularity, space and time come into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation out of nothing.”

– John Barrow and Frank Tipler

There can be no natural cause of the outward expansion for nothing existed before the singularity. Thus, there is an apparent supernatural cause of the universe. The Bible is clear that the universe was created, it just does not specify when.

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My thoughts:

I, being from an Independent Fundamental Baptist background, was taught that the earth was only six thousand years old. The basic reasoning mainly came from the genealogies of the Old Testament. I never questioned this until a few years ago. My pastor said, recently, that he believes the earth to be around ten thousand years old. I don’t know his reasoning, but it did take me by surprise. He’ll have to explain himself at some point. I only assume that is what he was taught from whatever seminary he went to. Some account for the age of the universe by adding evolution into he process, evolution being the chief way in which God created life. I’d like to think I did not come from amoebas.

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If the time calculations are true, and the universe did begin some billions of years ago, it still has no relevance as to when God created life on earth. God, existing outside of time, could have chosen any point in time to come upon a planet that was “without form and void” and create life there. He is not bound by time constraints.

Science and the Bible are not enemies as some claim.

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The End of the World

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Once there was a planet named earth, and everyone who lived there thought that they were very important. So important, it seems, that they spent a lot of time thinking about themselves and saying thing like: “That’s my toy”, “I want a shrubbery”, “Give me back my stick”, and such nonsense. Most folks thought they were the center of the universe until someone who spent a lot of time not thinking of himself looked through his telescope and discovered that they were not the center of the universe. This made people very gloomy, and they mostly decided not to hang around with that person anymore. Then someone suggested that maybe, just maybe, there was a reason for their existence. Many people liked this idea but no one could ever figure out what that reason was. This led to mass confusion until someone suggested that there really was no reason to begin with and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief. While they were relaxing, someone who claimed to be God said that he was the reason for their existence, but this made people very uptight. After everyone calmed down, they began to think that maybe the whole “existing for a reason” thing wasn’t so bad after all. Reasons began popping up all over the earth, things like: Winning the biggest bear at the ring-toss game at the local amusement park; finding out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop, discovering why the chicken crossed the road, and various other intellectual pursuits. Still, others hated reasons, and preferred to hang around with monkeys and imagine that they were a lot alike. However, people believed in their own reasons and liked to club other people in the head with big sticks who didn’t agree with their reasons. This went on for many years. After a while, the earth decided it did not like people clubbing each other over the head and maniacally burst into a ball of flame. Silence filled the empty space where the earth once stood. The universe was quite happy that all the fighting had stopped and peacefully continued to expand while the stars continued to shine. However, after a million years passed, the universe found no reason to continue, became very depressed, and requested of God that he end the whole mess. So God turned on his celestial garbage disposal and the universe was no more. And so it was that nothing moved, or shined, or lived, or carried big sticks ever again.

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