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message 1: by Werner (new)

Werner I'm placing this topic here, because it's not entirely about books and reading. However, posts about books are certainly encouraged here (see below).

Jim wrote (on a different thread) "We all take things on faith, have our prejudices, and it's tough to know when to re-examine core beliefs...." This thread is intended as a place where, if and when we want to, we can discuss faiths, prejudices and core beliefs --our own, and each other's-- in an atmosphere of mutual respect, without polemics. To be sure, that's not easy to do, when some of us have strong opinions and all of us have the natural human tendency to see basic disagreement as a personal attack. It's doubly hard in today's world, where genuine fear of people with different beliefs tends to beget hatred, and both the fear and the hatred are actively encouraged by our political leaders and pundits. But the very realities that make this sort of dialogue a challenge would suggest that meeting that challenge offers worthwhile rewards.

One thing we're open to on this thread is discussion of the wide spectrum of issues raised in the discussion, elsewhere in this group, that got its catalyst from a question about the book Killing Jesus: A History, or any other issues related to religion (or a religion, like Christianity), atheism, agnosticism, etc. It's also a place where you can ask informational questions about what different groups of people of believe, and hopefully find someone who can provide an accurate answer. Goodreads being, first and foremost, a site oriented to books and reading, I'd like to see this thread be a place where we can post links to books of interest (either books we've read, or books that we know address particular subjects), that might make a contribution to people's understanding of these issues, and links to reviews as well (our own, and others'). If you feel strongly about your own beliefs (or lack of beliefs), and want to set forth your case, in the interests of promoting truth as you see it, you're welcome to do that here. If you do that, though, expect others who may see truth differently to challenge you! (But NOT to consign you to eternal damnation. :-) )


message 2: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Werner, that's a great opening post! I had to look up "polemics" to be sure of it's meaning. It's not a word we see every day.

I found the following:
===================================================
"A polemic is a contentious argument that is intended to establish the truth of a specific understanding and the falsity of the contrary position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about very controversial topics.

"The art or practice of such argumentation is called polemics."

FROM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polemics
=================================================

I also found:
=================================================
polemic (noun) - "a piece of writing or a speech in which a person strongly attacks or defends a particular opinion, person, idea, or set of beliefs"
FROM: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dicti...
==================================================

Links to other definitions of can be found here:
http://www.onelook.com/?w=polemics&am...

It might be difficult to avoid polemics in this thread but we can try. :)


message 3: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Werner, I like your idea that "we can post links to books of interest (either books we've read, or books that we know address particular subjects), that might make a contribution to people's understanding of these issues, and links to reviews as well (our own, and others')".


message 4: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Joy! (On the definition of "polemics," I guess technically it simply means defense of a position, and refutation of the contrary position; but I was thinking of it with a connotative meaning of snarky, aggressive argumentation, that's hostile to the people it's arguing against, and not interested in dialogue, but only in racking up points for its own sake. You can express strong defense of strongly held positions here; it's a question of why and how you go about it, if that makes any sense.)


message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 26, 2013 08:08PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Here's some food for thought:

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (2012)
by Lawrence M. Krauss with an "Afterword" by Richard Dawkins.

See a YouTube discussion with the author and Dawkins at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&...

I have this book on my "To Read" shelf. It's available as an audio book from audible.com:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Science-Tec...
(There's a link to a 5 minute audio sample at the above link.)

I still have to investigate this. Hope it's not over my head. :)


message 6: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Another book I'm interested in is: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

I'm curious about what Dawkins has to say.

The Goodreads description says: "In The God Delusion he attacks arguments for the existence of God; accuses religions of fomenting divisiveness, war, and bigotry; and castigates believers in intelligent design."

Oh my!


message 7: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Werner wrote: "...On the definition of "polemics," I guess technically it simply means defense of a position, and refutation of the contrary position ... it's a question of why and how you go about it..."

Werner, I agree that a good discussion can be held only when the participants try to remain objective. It's a pleasure to discuss things in that vein. The subject may be controversial but objectiveness enables people to remain calm and inoffensive.


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments As I mentioned before, I'm getting more defensive & less objective about religion because I'm constantly being exposed to raving, fundamental Baptists around here. They'll tell me how they're spreading the good word of brotherly love & then call me a heathen when I tell them I don't do religion. Unless they keep badgering me (about 3/4 of them do) I don't add that I find their brand particularly distressing since they insist that their mythology is The Truth, even though it is inconsistent & has been proven wrong in many particulars.

While I believe in spirituality, I see it as each individual's psychology in dealing with that fine line between their perception of themselves & the rational universe. It is unique & not to be foisted on others. I also believe that it should be open to constant revision as knowledge increases & circumstances change. What is true for a youth doesn't necessarily remain true into his/her dotage.

Religion codifies a perception & often becomes a mass delusion that is too basic for most individuals to even question since it is pounded into them from birth. Most don't want to & can't even realize just how many assumptions they make about their world as seen through this early indoctrination.

Heinlein said that one man's god(s) were another man's belly laugh. Most of the religious folks I meet seem to have no sense of humor & I'm certainly losing mine.
:(


message 9: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, I can understand your frustration if you are continually badgered with the sort of thing you describe.

You mentioned the word "spirituality". Being "spiritual" has different meanings for different people. In the YouTube video I mentioned above, they discussed the different meanings. To some believers, being spiritual means feeling connected to their God in some way. To other more scientific-minded people, it refers to the awe they feel when seeing the magnificence of the Universe. So we can all be "spiritual" in our own way. It's one of those vague terms which is often misleading, IMO.


message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol | 29 comments I've been reading and listening to podcasts by Krista Tippett. I believe she has a master's in divinity. She is the author of "Einstein's God" and several other books. Her podcasts are "On Being" in which she interviews people from all walks of life and ties science and spirituality together--in a very broad way. e.g. she just interviewed someone on "religion for atheists". I've found her programs to be very interesting and not biased toward any one religion or belief system. Thought you all in this thread might be interested in her.


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Yes, spirituality isn't any more well defined than 'god' which was the point I tried to make in my definition. Each are & should be unique to the individual. A few basic moral rules are all that we require in common to function as a society. Anything more is divisive.


message 12: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 27, 2013 09:08AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Carol wrote: "I've been reading and listening to podcasts by Krista Tippett. I believe she has a master's in divinity. She is the author of "Einstein's God" and several other books. Her podcasts are "On Being..."

Hi Carol. Nice to hear from you!

Here is a link to a Krista Tippett YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlg7CL...
"Creationism vs. Darwin - Krista Tippett of 'Speaking of Faith'"

I haven't yet listened to it but the comments underneath are interesting!

PS-Here's the book Carol mentioned: Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit by Krista Tippett.


message 13: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments As I mentioned in our Goodreads post after reading the review of the movie just out starring Judi Dench, there seems to be a theme of religion running through this film according to the reviewer; a stanch Irish Catholic, in sptie of mistreatment in the name of religion and an atheist journalist try to help her get back her son. Might be worth checking out. I wonder if I opened Pandora's box when I asked if anyone had read,"Killing Jesus."


message 14: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Yes, spirituality isn't any more well defined than 'god' which was the point I tried to make in my definition. Each are & should be unique to the individual. A few basic moral rules are all that ..."

Jim, what does the word "God" mean to you? To me, among other things, it means an all-powerful being. Isn't that the most universal definition? Is there disagreement about that?


message 15: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 27, 2013 09:33AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "As I mentioned in our Goodreads post after reading the review of the movie just out starring Judi Dench, there seems to be a theme of religion running through this film according to the reviewer; a..."

Thanks, Nina! Very interesting and a great post for this conversation.

Here are links to pages re the movie:
"Philomena" (2013):
IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2431286/?...
http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Philomena
"A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent."

NETFLIX: http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Philomen...
"Floundering BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith and aging Irishwoman Philomena Lee form an unlikely bond when they pair up to find the son Philomena was forced to give up for adoption 50 years ago."

This one I want to see!
Adapted from the book:
The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son And A Fifty Year Search by Martin Sixsmith


message 16: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "... I wonder if I opened Pandora's box when I asked if anyone had read,"Killing Jesus."

Nina, you sure did! LOL


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Joy H. wrote: "Jim, what does the word "God" mean to you? To me, among other things, it means an all-powerful being. Isn't that the most universal definition? Is there disagreement about that? "

In many religions, the gods weren't omniscient nor omnipotent. Odin & Thor get killed off by Loki & his kids (I think, usually). Zeus beat up his dad & uncles to take over the world. While Vishnu preserved, Brahma has to recreate the world occasionally due to Shiva's antics.

Generally, I think of god(s) as G.O.D., Good Orderly Direction, when I have to bother with the label at all. I certainly don't believe in a 'being' that is omniscient & omnipotent such as the western religions believe in. And no, I don't believe in other kinds of supernatural beings such as angels & demons nor do I believe in Heaven or Hell. The concept makes no sense to me nor is there any sort of evidence of it.

Lack of evidence is not proof, so I consider myself an agnostic, but I want far more reason than a bunch of cherry picked writings of dubious lineage & translation. I have no idea why anyone would foster the notion that the age of a document has any bearing on its veracity or content save to make it suspect. They used to think the world was flat & that it was worse to steal a goat than keep a slave. Hardly lessons that are relevant to our society today.

I find some possibilities & humor in Haldeman's idea of 'god' in Forever Free. (view spoiler)

I generally like fantasy & mythology, so long as people don't take it too seriously & they certainly shouldn't be taken literally. Nina's comment about opening Pandora's box is a perfect example of its utility. The Greeks have left us with a lot of fun, instructive tales as have many others. The Christian Bible has a lot of good ones in it, although it has raunchier & more bloodthirsty tales than most mythologies I've read, except some of the Hindu tales, but I'm never quite sure about my comprehension & the translations of those.


message 18: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 27, 2013 10:33AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, thanks for answering my question about your idea of God.

Also, you said: "Lack of evidence is not proof..."
Well, logic is not considered evidence but it certainly helps me to make up my mind about what to believe and what not to believe.

I depend on my own logical mind to guide me in my beliefs. Logic tells me that a loving God would not create the "Food Chain" system which we have here on earth. On earth, each life form must eat another life form in order to survive. What an awful idea! Yet we must live with it... in more ways than one. :)


message 19: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments No one has mentioned miracles. In order to believe you must first suspend disbelief. I personally do believe in miracles but that is because of a happening in my family. However, I understand if one doesn't believe in them. This ia a very subjective matter, I suppose.


message 20: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "No one has mentioned miracles. In order to believe you must first suspend disbelief. I personally do believe in miracles but that is because of a happening in my family. However, I understand if on..."

Nina, I have experienced at least one coincidence in my life which might seem like a miracle, but I've always considered it a wonderful coincidence. What miracle happened to you? Is it related to the clock? I think I remember that you told me about it.


message 21: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 27, 2013 02:11PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Here's a link to a YouTube called "Who Wrote the Bible?" (2004):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCXlFW...

Hulu has it too:
http://www.hulu.com/watch/411202?play...

Seems to be free.

PS-At the following link about "Who Wrote the Bible",
http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/who-wr...
there's a comment which says:
================================================
"This documentary gives basic scholarly evidence that the Old Testament or Torah, was written by 4 different men, not Moses. Also explains how the last books of the Old Testament, written by men, predicted the arrival of a Messiah. The self-fulfilling prophecy or New Testament, was written by men decades after the death of Jesus. The Council Of Nicaea in the 3rd century, determined among the numerous interpretations of the scripts, what would become the orthodox bible. Learn history of early religious politics and how church leaders manipulated people. Why aren't more religious people interested in scholarship of history, archeology and legitimate research on ancient scripts? It is amazing how tightly people hold on to their belief systems, even with proof to the contrary. We are 21st century humans under the influence of a three thousand year old religion."
Written by Anna Miller
http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/who-wr...
==================================================


message 22: by Nina (last edited Nov 27, 2013 03:09PM) (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Joy, I wasn't referring to the incident of my father's clock although that was somewhat startling I never thought of it as a miracle When my family of "children" were seated around the dining room table on Thanksgiving a few years ago(some hadn't been together for several years) my father's antique clock that hadn't been wound started ticking and it was the exact time. My youngest daughter piped up and said, "Grandpa's here." He is the only one who wond the clock when I was a child so that's why she said it. My husband thought I wound the clock and I thought he did. None of us had wound the clock. However, the miracle I had in mind was different and I'll tell you about it later on.


message 23: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina, the story about the clock is wonderful. It's heart-warming to think that the same sound you listened to as a kid still exists (if the clock is in working order). Every time I hear our old grandfather clock chiming I think back to when I heard the same chimes as a kid, chimes coming from the very same clock. There is something so nostalgic about that.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments I just found a really interesting article in my FB newsfeed titled, "7 Reasons Why It's Easier for Humans to Believe in God Than Evolution"
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...

Yet even as creationists keep trying to undermine modern science, modern science is beginning to explain creationism scientifically. And it looks like evolution—the scientifically uncontested explanation for the diversity and interrelatedness of life on Earth, emphatically including human life—will be a major part of the story. Our brains are a stunning product of evolution; and yet ironically, they may naturally pre-dispose us against its acceptance.

It goes on to list quite a few reasons we think the way we do & ends with,
Often, people express surprise that in an age so suffused with science, science causes so much angst and resistance. Perhaps more surprising would be if it didn't.


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Joy H. wrote: "Jim, thanks for answering my question about your idea of God...."

Joy, whatever you choose to believe is fine with me. I've never liked anyone better due to their religious or political beliefs. I've certainly liked quite a few less. In each case it is because they're attempting to browbeat me with them.

I was born/raised or whatever with a fairly intelligent, analytical mind. When people tell me things, I expect logic & demonstrable proof behind their facts. My mother called me 'Doubting Thomas', hard headed, & used to get horribly frustrated with me.

When I was barely 3, I had a hernia operation & my grandmother thought I had a fever, so wanted to take my temperature. She had an oral thermometer. The only one I was familiar with was a rectal one. I would NOT let her put hers in my mouth until she called my mother on the phone & the two of them argued with me for a long time. I can still remember Granny's face. It was the first time I'd ever seen it turn purple. It wasn't the last.
;-)


message 26: by Werner (last edited Nov 27, 2013 05:03PM) (new)

Werner This thread was just started yesterday evening, but it's already attracted a couple of dozen comments; so perhaps that says something about the level of interest. There are a lot of interesting posts here that deserve thoughtful responses, rather than just off-the-cuff comments, and thoughtful responses take time. I haven't commented much here so far, but it's a thread I expect to return to often.

Joy linked (message 6) to The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is one of the triumvirate of leading spokesman for the movement that's been characterized as "New Atheism," the other two being Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. Their principal contributions to the movement's canon are God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Hitchens, and Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason both by Harris. Not having read any of these myself, I can't claim to comment on them with firsthand knowledge; what I know about them comes from quotes, or reviews and other secondary sources, so is more in the nature of an impression than the result of systematic study.

There are also a number of books written by serious Christian scholars who offer an informed refutation of both the New Atheist and traditional atheist arguments. One of the best-known of these is The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World (2006) by Alister E. McGrath, who is a former atheist. (I haven't read this book, either; but I understand that despite the title, it doesn't have any sparkly vampires. :-) )

Nina wrote, "No one has mentioned miracles." The best scholarly treatment of the concept of miracles that I've personally read is C. S. Lewis' Miracles. That's one that I haven't reviewed here on Goodreads; but I'll try to do that in the near future, and will link to the review here when I do.

Joy wrote, "Logic tells me that a loving God would not create the "Food Chain" system which we have here on earth." Joy, do you have any thoughts on how an ecosystem without predation would operate in practice, and what it might look like?


message 27: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Werner, if you click on C,S. Lewis Miracles that you mention in your above message you get my son Doug's review of that book.


message 28: by Mary JL (new)

Mary JL (maryjl) | 527 comments Nice thread topic, Werner.

I personally believe in God, because there is Order in the Universe---so I feel there must be an Orderer.

I find the idea that a huge mass exploded in the Big Bang---where did that huge object come from and how?

I am not really good on logic and proof--it is just a personal belief.


message 29: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Mary JL! And you don't have to feel like you're "good on logic and proof;" this is a thread about our personal beliefs, however we arrive at them!

Nina, I'd really like to read Doug's review! However, there are 3,000 Goodreads reviews of that book. (His doesn't show at the top when I click on the book, because he's not in my friend circle.) Do you have the link to his review? (It would be the link written in the long white box almost at the very top of the page, on your left as you face the screen, when you click on his review; it would start with https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/ and then a number --the number is really what I'd need.) Thanks!


message 30: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Nov 27, 2013 06:03PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim, that Mother Jones article looks interesting. So do so many other references in this thread. I have to go back to them when the holiday is over. There's just no time to assimilate it all right now. I do realize that religion brings comfort to many people and that's the good of it.

Werner, I've thought about how there might be an ecosystem without predation but it would seem like science fiction. If there were an all-powerful creator, I'm sure he could come up with something better than the present system.

Mary JL, "order" is something that can develop by way of natural selection. Things that have the proper order survive. Things that lack the proper order die off.


message 31: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Werner, i can't seem to be able to find what you suggested. There are no www's when I click on my son't review and if I click on his picture; I only get his profile. He did the review on Nov 7, 2010 if that helps any. I could copy and paste the review but don't have any address to send it to. Sorry. He gave the book five stars. Did you know C.S. L..died the same day as JFK?


message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Nina, I did know that (Aldous Huxley died on that day as well)! That's okay; I'll try to find Doug's review another way. If he's in your friend circle, I'll find his profile that way, and then use the "compare books" function and see what happens.


message 33: by Werner (new)

Werner Found his review just now, Nina, and officially liked it! Thanks for the tip.


message 34: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments I started listening to God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, but it's not really audio book material for me. I need to be able to mull over those sorts of arguments & it's far easier to do with a paper book.

IMO, rabid atheists are just as wrong as religious fanatics because they ignore the fact that we are rationalizing, no rational beings. Our thought processes are amazingly complex & allowance has to be made for incredible differences in thinking, environment, ability, & circumstances. So, I disagree with the second assertion on the basic principle that humans are too complex for absolutes. While there's no doubt that religion has caused a lot problems or been used as the excuse for some real horrors, it's also been the root of some very good works. Of course, the same could be said for war.

Religion is usually a conservative force in the world now & that's causing problems just as it did back when it was a progressive force. It's a clash of cultures. Way back when, Christian missionaries spread their religion along with literacy, a generally good thing. It unified tribes under a similar belief system, often at the point of a sword, but still helped to break down tribalism to some extent & let larger groups of people communicate & trade with each other, thus forming larger resource bases & allowing more people to thrive.

Today, science is leaping far ahead our ability to understand the world it is creating. In the past century, we've acquired powers that would have made an individual a god just a couple of thousand years ago, a magician of unbelievable powers just centuries ago. Possibly one of the best examples of this culture shock can be found in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. I mention it in my review here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Not everyone can or wants to keep up. Their core values are being challenged. Society as a group has to integrate these changes & there are elements that are faster & slower. I've read that some religious dietary restrictions had good reasons behind them, like not eating pork due to disease in the Middle East. We now know a lot more about worms & disease, so it's not an issue for most of us today, but some religions have made it part of their dogma. To refuse what is now perfectly good food based on ignorance & superstition is idiotic, but people are also doing it with genetically modified crops & villifying companies that will provide the seed to starving areas for free.

Another example would be in having kids & marriage. 'Be fruitful & multiply' is an issue. We're running short on every resource except for people. There is no longer a need to have a dozen kids to have some survive, work the farm, & support us in our old age. The economies & contractual needs of marriage, have changed even during my life. Marg & I need living wills & health proxies for each other to make sure we're not kept alive too long. Virginity is no longer a virtue among most that I know & divorce is common place. IMO, people should be happy for the advances in abortion, birth control, & every gay couple that adopts an otherwise unwanted kid as well as gene therapies & prenatal care that can fix birth defects in the womb.

The world is a different place & we, as a society, need to adjust accordingly. An open debate between progressives & conservatives is needed. Not every change is for the better & they all have a lot of ramifications in our complex world. Unfortunately, there is a huge polarization between the two camps due to the language lent us by our core belief system. We're no longer illiterate savages, so "because God said so" doesn't cut it as a reason any more. Religious folk need to examine their beliefs & ditch what doesn't make sense. Unfortunately, we're still quite savage & many don't read & even the most intelligent & best meaning people can't understand the intracacies of our world, so the progressives need make changes cautiously. Neither camp has as much say as they'd like since economics pretty much drives it all.

Most of all, we need to mind our own business more. If someone wants to marry 15 other people & have consensual sex with them in a vat of Jello, that's their business, none of society's. If they want to have kids & they're well taken care of, that's also their business. If they won't work or raise GMO wheat & want my money to go toward feeding them, then it becomes society's business.


message 35: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "I started listening to God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, but it's not really audio book material for me. I need to be able to mull over those sorts of arguments & it'..."

Jim, you've obviously put a lot of thought into those comments. They cover a lot of ground. You make a lot of sense, as usual. Certain of your sentences stand out. Among them are:

"... humans are too complex for absolutes."

"It's a clash of cultures."

"The world is a different place & we, as a society, need to adjust accordingly."

So true.


message 36: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments The Miracle. Because it is Thanksgiving day it's a good time to write about how thankful we once were concerning our granddaughter, Claire after a horrendous ordeal when she was but a sixteen month old baby. My daughter and son in law lived then in a village in the French Alps. My son in law was out trying to get his car fixed that had been hit the day before; my daughter was coping with four youngsters; age six and under with chicken pox. She decided to bathe them to help relieve the itching that accompanies this disease.She had poured boiling water into a tub and was about the add the cold water to it when Claire ran across the room and fell into the hot water. Mostly, the way she fell, it was both of her feet and hands that were badly burned. My daughter ran to get a neighbor to stay with the other children and another neighbor took her and Claire to the nearby clinic. The regular dr wasn't there so the nurse put lotion on the burns and sent them home. Claire cried most of the night in pain and back the next morning they arrived at the clinic the same time as the dr. He took one look and said the child was dying. He ordered a helicopter and it came and whisked Claire to a burn hospital in Lyon, some hundred miles away. There was no room in the helicopter so the rest of the family followed by car. Claire was in Intensive care for a month but she did survive. She was to be in therapy for months after that but the dr then told my daughter who had been staying in Lyon with friends while Claire was hospitalized, that when they removed the bandages from Claire's hands there would be extensive webbing between her fingers and unless she had surgery she'd never be able to use her hands. They suggested she be flown to the Shriner's hospital in the States where they might be able to salvage her fingers free from the webbing. It might require more than one surgery. Claire's paternal grandmother was trying to make these arrangements. At this point it was deemed safe for Lucy, my daughter to return home for a few days so her husband came with the other children and picked her up. They were driving through a terrible storm that evening and finally came to an Inn that had room for them and spent the night there not knowing even where they were. The next morning Lucy asked the desk clerk what town they were in. She replied, "Ars." This had been the home of St. John Vianny and his shrine was second to the one at Lourdes as far a praying for miracles was concerned. However, Lucy was actually unware of this, but because as s child she had attended Cure of Ars Catholic school, she said to her husband, "I must go say a prayer and get a brochure to send to my mother." They went to the Shrine and said a prayer and picked up some literature to send home. Then, after a couple of days they went back to the hospital. When entering the room where Claire had been they noticed in panic it was empry. This was before cell phones and they had no phone where they were living then. They feared the worst; that Claire had taken a turn for the worse and had died. They rushed about until finally finding the dr and he led them into the room where Claire was sitting and holding up her hand unbancaged to signal "Hi." He said, they had moved her from ICU two days before or the day Lucy and family were in Ars and had then decided to remove the bandages to assess the damage. He said, "It's a miracle. There is no webbing and there is no physical reason for this. It is unexplainable; she will have to be careful as the skin on the top of her hands in very thin and there will be a scar on the top of her one foot. Otherwise she is cured." He went on to tell them he'd never seen anything like this before. They had removed the bandages at almost the same time Lucy was saying a prayer to St. John V.. So that is our family miracle. Claire in now grown up and teaching English in Vietnam. End of our story.


message 37: by Werner (new)

Werner Nina, that's a wonderful story; thank you for sharing it. I'm so happy for Claire!

Over the years, I've read a number of books that bear on the subject of this thread, but have only reviewed a few of them on Goodreads. Some of the reviews I have done, however, serve to indicate where I'm coming from in this discussion. They might also provide some grist for thought, and perhaps give some readers an idea of whether or not they'd like to check out a particular book. So, here are a few of those links:

www.goodreads.com/review/show/25772834 . This is for the book Who Moved the Stone?: A Skeptic Looks at the Death and Resurrection of Christ, which I mentioned the other day on another thread, but is better referenced here.

www.goodreads.com/review/show/68865397 . This is a review of Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, his explanation of the reasons that led him to Christian faith.

www.goodreads.com/review/show/17337068 . A linchpin of anti-religious arguments is the assertion that science indisputably proves that earthly life arose and developed as a meaningless cosmic accident, with no Creator. This book, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis, by Australian molecular biologist Michael Denton, puts that assertion to the test.

www.goodreads.com/review/show/17749192 . Finally, some mention has been made here of the social and economic role of religion. R. H. Tawney's Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, reviewed here, is not just a germinal book in my own thinking, but provides an indispensable historical context for understanding that whole subject, IMO.


message 38: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Glad the baby was alright, Nina. Erin burned both of her hands - just the hands - badly & that was horrible. Can't imagine such large area burns. Awful.


message 39: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments I read through your reviews, Werner. I disagree with your take on Denton's book. According to your review, his basic assertion was irreducible complexity which has been peer reviewed & found wanting, so it doesn't challenge the basic theories of evolution at all, which has passed many such tests.

Just because Denton is a scientist with hefty credentials doesn't mean he's right. That's why scientific theories are peer reviewed & what distinguishes them from religious myths & beliefs. The former have to pass rigorous testing, often from dozens of different disciplines outside the scientist's own knowledge.


message 40: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6067 comments Joy, you asked for my Miracle story and wondering if you have read it. Yesterday a pleasant day at a 330 acare farm with losds of food and company settled in with a great view of the KS sunset. Yes, Toto we were home again. Our visiting CA grandown especially enjoyed shooting it on his i phone. Today we are celebrating our anniversay with two daughters and son in law and grandson with Bar b que sandwiches, french fries and cold slaw. Want to join us?


message 41: by Werner (last edited Nov 29, 2013 04:45PM) (new)

Werner Jim wrote, "I disagree with your take on Denton's book. According to your review, his basic assertion was irreducible complexity which has been peer reviewed & found wanting...." For those who didn't read the review and might not understand what Jim is talking about, "irreducible complexity" refers to the fact (or "apparent fact," if you will) that in living things, most of the highly developed organs and systems, to be produced over time by small accidental mutations, would require a considerable number of these; but none of them would have any adaptive value until the whole thing was in place, and in the meantime some of them would appear to have the effect of reducing the organism's ability to survive instead of increasing it. Actually, my review stated that this was one of several of the most salient points that Denton makes, of which I mentioned two, the other one being the overwhelming evidence that DNA is less than infinitely malleable. Orthodox Darwinists deny that either point (or any other criticism) has any value as evidence against their belief system.

Jim wrote: "Just because Denton is a scientist with hefty credentials doesn't mean he's right." This is absolutely true. (It does, however, disprove the common assertion that all scientists believe in atheistic evolution; and Denton is in fact far from the only scientist to disbelieve it, or to not find irreducible complexity "wanting" as an argument.) The reason it's true is because he's a fallible human being with limited perspective, core beliefs and prejudices of his own, and a capability to err. The same could be said for Richard Dawkins, or any individual scientist. That's why there's certainly a value in scientists' critically examining each others' research and arguments (provided they do it honestly), and trying to replicate each others' experiments. "Peer review," technically, is a process used to vet specific articles for publication in particular journals; but the idea that scientists share their research with their peers and open themselves up to honest give-and-take is certainly part of the theory of how scientific inquiry is supposed to operate. But that needs to be said with two caveats. First, the individual limitations of scientists are not magically canceled out when they act as a group, so that their collective wisdom becomes anything more than the sum of its parts; and this is particularly true when the assertion they're judging is a threat to the core worldview that defines their life, and when accepting it would not only require them to admit that they personally have been wrong in the past, but also probably subject them to various degrees of professional discrimination and harassment. (These factors operate conversely as well, which helps congenial assertions to "pass the test.") This first caveat suggests the second, which is that the value of scientific consensus can't be pressed so woodenly, and with so little nuance, that it becomes a claim that the truth or falsity of a scientific proposition can infallibly be determined by majority vote of the scientific community in a given time and place. (Even most practicing scientists would probably not openly make that claim, since there are too many historically documented instances where the consensus of official scientific opinion was 100% wrong.)

Those considerations would suggest that the credibility of irreducible complexity, or of any other criticism of current "scientific" dogma, doesn't depend on how many scientists ignore it, reject it a priori, or attack it on ideological grounds. It has to stand or fall on the basis of whether or not a (believable) case can be made that the apparent facts induced in support of it either aren't facts, or are wrongly interpreted. I'm willing to give any such case a hearing. But I'm not impressed by a simple appeal to accept the authority of an "expert' consensus.


message 42: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments I deleted a comment I made last night. Decided I didn't like the tone of parts.

Werner wrote: "...the overwhelming evidence that DNA is less than infinitely malleable. Orthodox Darwinists deny that either point (or any other criticism) has any value as evidence against their belief system...It does, however, disprove the common assertion that all scientists believe in atheistic evolution; and Denton is in fact far from the only scientist to disbelieve it, or to not find irreducible complexity "wanting" as an argument..."

There are several problems here & I believe you misunderstand a couple more. First, evolution is not a belief system it is a scientific theory. There's a big difference. A belief system can be based on any bunch crazy ideas, so long as they sort of seem to support each other, whether or not there is any real evidence or logic behind them. They're usually religious, philosophical, ideological, or some combination thereof. Depending on the system, new data & existing facts can have little influence on them. Scientific theories are constructed by systematic observation, measurement, & experiment. They are formulated, then tested, & modified as needed. Sometimes, the entire theory or pieces of them are scrapped, but scientists rarely murder each other or the peasantry over differences in their theories while whole sale murder over belief systems is quite common.

Evolution, as a basic theory, has been well tested & is taken as fact, but much of it is still being analyzed in detail. Each piece must pass the scientific method before being generally accepted. In fact, evolution just underwent some revisions when confronted with the amazing amount of 'junk' DNA that was found to be inserted by viruses into various animals, including humans. That scrapped some pieces, reinforced others, & created whole new avenues of research. One thing it proved is that DNA is far more malleable than previously suspected even a few years ago & anyone with even the most basic understanding of it should be in awe of that complexity & malleablility. (Humans have 23 chromosome pairs, fruit flies 9, mosquitos 236, as I recall.)

The basic theory of evolution was presented by Darwin, but he got some of it wrong. Many who believe in evolution are also Christians, they just don't take their version of Genesis literally. (There are quite a few & the excuse I hear most commonly is that the 'days' could have been a lot longer than 24 hours. Since the sun didn't even show up until the 4th day, there's enough wiggle room for them to rationalize it.) In any case, it is wrong to cast everyone who believes in evolution as an atheist or a Darwinist. There are few, if any, of the latter left. Science owes him a great debt, but has moved on.

Of course scientists disagree all the time & some have been known to lie, cheat, steal, & fake data to push their agenda. Groups of scientists have been known to rubber stamp certain theories for convenience & funding. Much of that happened (is happening) recently with the climate change controversy. The good news is that it rarely holds up for too long. In fact, one of the studies that helped Gore get his prize (retreating glaciers in the Himalayas) was peer reviewed months after the award was given & it was widely publicized that the data was faked upon discovery. Other parts are still under contention, but what most people see is just the Sunday Supplement sketch provided by the popular media which makes it seem so simple & binary. Basic theories are usually made up of many others that support the whole.

"Irreducible Complexity" was first put forth by Behe who is one of the proponents of intelligent design. Like global warming, there is a real agenda here outside of scientific discovery & his theory can't meet the criteria for the scientific method, so has been dismissed until he can tighten it up. He hasn't been able to & others use this broken theory to promote ignorance instead of looking for answers or tightening up his methods. I don't have any respect for intentional ignorance.

Even Behe agrees with the best estimate that puts the earth around 4,500,000,000 years old with the first simple cells showing up about 1,000,000,000 years later. There are quite a few different scientific disciplines that pin down the first from astronomy to geology. That's a lot of knowledge that is rigorously supporting not just its own theories, but those outside its disciplines. That's part of the technology that has brought us from no electric or indoor plumbing to cell phones, jets, & computers in a couple of centuries. Could their basic theories be so wrong & yet still produce such complex systems? I don't think so.

Think about a billion years. It's an incredible amount of time. The Mesozoic Era (Age of the Dinosaurs) was about 250,000,000 to 65,000,000 years ago. Mere millions of years, the oldest date being just 1/4 of one billion years ago. So there was 3,250,000,000 years for life to evolve from a simple cell into colonies & then into specialists working together to create an organism. (Actually, I think it's generally accepted now that it took 2 billion years just to go from simple cells to multiples.) There's a pretty good, quick look at the time involved here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline...

Modern man has only been around for about 200,000 or 50,000, depending on your definition (physical or behavioral, respectively). Most of us have been out of the caves for about 3000. The Industrial Revolution is only about 300 years old & over 95% of the scientists that have ever lived have done so in the past century. It's no wonder we have trouble with the time periods involved in the formation of our complex ecosystem.

Since Christian creationists insist that the world is only 6,000 years old, they say this proves there wouldn't be time for evolution to happen. How they can insist on this with a straight face always amazes me. Why should they believe the manipulated texts of some ancient savages? Haven't we picked up some new knowledge about the nature of the universe over the intervening centuries? These are the same people who thought 'the entire world' was flooded. While there is historical evidence for a large flood, it simply shows their provincialism & ignorance of the world as a whole.

Most people don't really understand the theory of evolution. I noticed even the commentator in that Krista Tippett YouTube video (message 12) said 'we evolved from apes' in one of his questions to her. Yuck. Evolutionary theory doesn't say that at all. It says we have a common progenitor with other primates, but our paths separated long ago. Even Behe agrees with this. He simply disagrees on the basis of scale.

It's important to note that not everything evolves or needs to. That's why we still have single cell organisms like the ameoba, colonies like sponges, specialized colonies like jelly fish, & dinosaurs like the crocodile around. They fit their niche &, so far, no change has worked out any better. I hope that humans have more ambitions along these lines, but often wonder when Creationists confront me.


message 43: by Werner (new)

Werner Jim wrote "evolution is not a belief system, it is a scientific theory.... scientists rarely murder each other or the peasantry over differences in their theories, while wholesale murder over belief systems is quite common.... Many who believe in evolution are also Christians....". Yes, I get all of that. I also agree that what Darwin called his "special theory" of evolution (what today is called microevolution), of adaptive radiation from an original stock, and which he based mainly on empirical observation of the Galapagos finches, is valid science and an important contribution to scientific knowledge. (It's completely compatible with creationism, and the evidence for it is so sound that practically all of us today accept it and are to some degree "evolutionists," --even most "young earth" creationists, though they might punch you if you said so.) His "general theory" (macroevolution) is much less empirically based, and how valid it is as science would have to be subjected to testing of evidence. So far, so good. But while none of this is in the realm of belief systems, those with various belief systems --in the exact sense that you defined them-- most definitely DO appeal to "Science" as the basis and validator of their system, and it's an especially useful appeal in a culture where most people both revere "Science" and are clueless about understanding much of it. That was true in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it's true today; a good example is the claim, a la Dawkins et al., that "Science disproves theism!" when it does no such thing. And dangerous bigots who claim "Reason" and "science" as cornerstones of their belief system have historically been as willing to commit mass murder to promote the latter as any medieval inquisitor (Citizen Robespierre and Joseph Stalin leap to mind). That's why (macro)evolution as a theory has always been much more contentious than, say, the germ theory of disease.

Jim wrote, "There is a real agenda here outside of scientific discovery & his theory can't meet the criteria for the scientific method, so has been dismissed until he can tighten it up. He hasn't been able to...." Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism) and Denton certainly have an agenda, Dawkins has an agenda, Darwin (and the 19th-century industrial oligarchy that used his theories)had an agenda; ALL scientists who expect their research to have significance outside the laboratory have an agenda. (For most of them, a passion for truth and an excitement about intellectual inquiry is part of it, but not all of it.) That doesn't automatically invalidate anybody's research, but it does warrant careful, objective weighing of everybody's evidence and arguments. The weighing needs to be done, though, without anyone's thumb on the scale. It's often been pointed out (sometimes by evolutionists) that Darwin's "natural selection" concept falls short of scientific method and could use significant tightening. But those who do so can cite specific reasons why they think so, and cite them convincingly; they're not simply invoking that language as a vague cop-out for dismissing a concept that they don't like and see as a threat to their worldview and their careers. As I noted above, if you can point me to a book, article or website that claims to do the same for irreducible complexity, I'm willing to give it a hearing. (Like you and everybody else, I'm ignorant about quite a few things; but I'm assuming that neither of us is intentionally ignorant or consciously out to promote ignorance.)

Jim wrote: "I want far more reason than a bunch of cherry-picked writings of dubious lineage and translation.... Why should they believe the manipulated texts of some ancient savages?.... they just don't take their version of Genesis literally.... there's enough wiggle room for them to rationalize it....". Interestingly, the textual criticism (the process of determining what the original text actually was) of the Bible and other ancient writings, the philology of ancient languages, the practice of archaeology, and the inductive interpretation of the Bible and other ancient writings in historical and grammatical terms, as it's done today, owes a great deal to scientific method. These are tools of inquiry that can be used by Christian, Jewish, agnostic, atheist, and other scholars, and they have as much consensus on their factual results as any other scholarly consensus (which is to say there's disagreement on details, but not on broad outlines). Differences about the Bible aren't so much about the objective text and its meaning as about its subjective significance. Objective study of the Bible doesn't definitively answer that question; but it does establish that the text and translation of the Bible, the background and circumstances of its origin, and the history of its reception and transmission are not things shrouded in mystery and anybody's guess. (Those who seriously study the Bible in this way, whatever their beliefs or lack of beliefs, would also generally agree that by what we call "Biblical times," ancient people were not primitive savages, nor anything much resembling that.) It also suggests that those who make use of this kind of information to interpret the Bible are not engaged in "rationalizing," if by that one means "dishonestly trying to make up rational-sounding excuses for whatever they want to believe." It is, of course, "rationalizing" in the constructive sense of "using reason as a tool to illuminate things." Biblical interpretation is not an area where it's required or useful to check your brain at the door. (For any readers interested in follow-up study in this area, good starting points might include The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption & Restoration; Text of the Old Testament; Biblical Archaeology by G. Ernest Wright; Archaeology and the Bible by G. Frederick Owen; An Introduction to the Old Testament by Edward J. Young; and Introduction to the New Testament by Edward F. Harrison.)

Jim wrote: "Christian creationists insist that the world is only 6,000 years old." That's actually only true of "young earth" creationists. The Bible says nothing about the "age of the earth," nor does it appear to be a question that interested the writers. Ussher's 16th-century chronology, which was based on flawed assumptions and ignorance of relevant information, was not universally accepted even in his own time; and after "the age of the earth" became a question of interest, the majority Christian position was historically old-earth creationism. The young earth variety became popular among evangelicals from the 1950s on, because of theological presuppositions rather than evidence, and is held on the same basis by some scientists and scholars despite an awareness of its difficulties. This is, IMO, another instance of trying to practice scientific inquiry with a thumb on the scale; some young-earth creationists are just as prone as some orthodox evolutionists to try to pound square pegs into round holes that they've bored on the basis of their own assumptions. Refusal to examine one's assumptions, if evidence leads that way, makes for both junk science and bad theology.

Readers interested in a serious case for the GAD (Generally Accepted Dates) can find one in The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis by Canadian astronomer Hugh Ross, and in The Bone Peddlers: Selling Evolution by William R. Fix. (Though the title of the latter book makes it sound like a fundamentalist work, Fix, whose graduate degree is in the history of science, is not a Christian and is "agnostic" on the question of evolution; Jim, you might actually be interested in the historical material he covers.) Science Speaks author Peter Stoner also accepts the GAD, but I don't recall if he directly discusses the issue in that book.


message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Just to be clear, I do not hate all religions & have belief systems of my own, but such systems need to respond to new data & conditions. It's good for us as a race to have conservative systems within our society to keep trends in check, but eventually they need to bow to the needs of society & the realities of the times.

One example would be birth control. A few thousand years ago, when the world population was measured in the millions & our level of technology required family units with a lot of unskilled labor on hand, 'be fruitful & multiply' made a great deal of sense. Today population pressure & resource depletion is a real concern. In the first world countries, most children now live to adulthood. In third world countries, they have more than they can feed, yet some religions are still insisting that birth control is a bad thing & say it is a matter of divine will. Don't the gods help those who help themselves?

Reminds me of the joke about the preacher in the flood.
He's hanging on to the roof of his church as the flood waters are rising & a row boat comes along.
He sends it away saying God will save him.
A while later a speed boat comes along.
He sends it away saying God will save him.
A while later a helicopter comes along.
He sends it away saying God will save him.
Then the waters rise, sweep him away, & he drowns.
Standing in front of God, he asks why God didn't save him.
God says, "I sent you two boats & a helicopter."

In A Canticle for Leibowitz, a doctor treating radiation victims & the abbot of the monastery argue over euthanasia. The doctor says pain is the only evil he knows & that since the people have no hope of life (they'll only die a slow, agonizing death) euthanasia is OK. The abbot, a staunch Catholic, disagrees on religious grounds. His question, whether society is the only thing which determines whether an act is wrong or not, is a really good one, though.

It's quite topical now with our medical science's ability to extend life, often grotesquely. For instance, both my grandfathers had DNRs (Do Not Resuscitate) orders & both were resuscitated for several more weeks of life they didn't want. In my maternal grandfather's case, he had terminal cancer, was in agony, & unconscious most of the remaining time. Our entire family was horrified since he had made his will about it quite clear & there was no use to it. It simply cost him agony, while everyone else wasted money & time that could have been far better spent elsewhere.

It's not uncommon today for a person to use more medical resources in the last months of their life than they did for their entire previous life. With a burgeoning, aging population & resources running short, it makes sense to some to ease the strictures on the end of life. We extend this mercy to our animals, but not to our loved ones. This makes no sense to many, as the case of Dr. Kevorkian shows, but this is a very slippery slope.

People killing off their aging parents could easily become a very ugly trend. Logan's Run is based on a society that killed off everyone at the age of 21. Larry Niven created a universe where it was easy to transplant organs. Earth was heavily overpopulated, yet people could live for a couple of centuries on the government dole with their medical assistance if the organs were available & that became an issue. In one short story, a man was convicted of a third speeding ticket & sent to the organ banks - death. Then cloned organs became available & the laws changed back to more reasonable punishments.

An extreme example, but not a silly one when you look at some of the craziness that has happened historically. Just a couple of centuries ago children were used as coal carriers, loblollies, chimney sweeps, & mill scavengers. These are horrible & dangerous jobs described here (Warning, bad language often used):
http://www.cracked.com/article_18565_...

Why? Because it was economically viable & there wasn't a cheap technological alternative. Society saw nothing wrong with using up unwanted children in such a way. Unfortunately, most religions didn't either, but there is hope for the future. The issues in the SF books are exactly the type of situation religions might help us avoid with their conservative morals by keeping society from leaping too fast.


message 45: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Werner wrote: "..."Science disproves theism!"..."

As I said earlier, I don't agree with this nor do many who truly believe in & understand the scientific method. It's impossible to prove/disprove something you can't define or experiment on. You mention Dawkins several times & are giving me the impression that you think he's a hero of mine or something. He's not. I like a lot of what he says, but back in message #34 I said, "IMO, rabid atheists are just as wrong as religious fanatics because they ignore the fact that we are rationalizing, no rational beings." We all need something to get us through the night & I think spirituality is about each person dealing with their view of their place in the universe. It's an individual thing not easily put into words. My issues with religion are in trying to force the same spirituality on those who don't want it & using dogma in place of reason at inappropriate times.

Werner wrote: "...are to some degree "evolutionists," --even most "young earth" creationists, though they might punch you if you said so...."

LOL! This is the reaction of the turn-the-other-cheek followers of Jesus? Actually, you're not far off as some of our local Creationists have indeed become quite hostile & threatened me with dire punishments. I found their hypocrisy fairly disgusting.

Werner wrote: "...And dangerous bigots who claim "Reason" and "science" as cornerstones of their belief system have historically been as willing to commit mass murder..."

I agree entirely. I even mentioned that. Belief systems should regularly be examined for common sense. It's also particularly important not to let them polarize issues too much. In Empire, Orson Scott Card makes this exact point. Our world is so confusing that we tend to over simplify issues so we can handle them all. That's also why I found that the "7 Reasons Why It's Easier for Humans to Believe in God Than Evolution" article so intriguing. It's about how our minds work. The link is in message 24, but here it is again.
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...

Werner wrote: "...ALL scientists who expect their research to have significance outside the laboratory have an agenda... That doesn't automatically invalidate anybody's research, but it does warrant careful, objective weighing of everybody's evidence and arguments....

Yes & no. Some agendas are bigger than others. When a scientist really wants to study something that is little recognized & underfunded, odds are they really want to do research. When they're on the news talking about the high profile things like global warming, I become more skeptical. The more money, fame, influence & such at stake, the higher the odds are that someone is going to bend the truth to get it. IMO, there is a lot at stake in the irreducible complexity & intelligent design theories. Some people seem to be staking their belief systems on it.

Werner wrote: "...It's often been pointed out (sometimes by evolutionists) that Darwin's "natural selection" concept falls short of scientific method and could use significant tightening..."

I agree & even mentioned it. That's also why it is called the Theory of Evolution & not Darwin's Law. Observation gives us snap shots of evolution & scientists have theorized the blanks. They keep finding more evidence to support many of those theories, disprove others, but there are still a lot of guesses out there. That's why the 'junk' DNA was so important as is finding out that whole gene sequences can be turned on or off, not just individual genes.

Maybe you should read about what constitutes the scientific method & that will help explain why irreducible complexity & intelligent design don't make the grade as theories even when they seem reasonable on the surface. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that life started on Earth because some alien flushed the toilet on a fly-by. (Alien blue ice bombs! I see a SF story in that somewhere.) Still, life had to start somewhere. It could be molecules dipped out of a gas giant by a comet. Who knows? Will we ever? Maybe not, but that's not enough reason for me to believe in a creation myth. I think Brahma growing as a lotus flower out of the belly button of Vishnu the snake after Shiva wrecked the world has more poetry to it.

Werner wrote: "...(Those who seriously study the Bible in this way, whatever their beliefs or lack of beliefs, would also generally agree that by what we call "Biblical times," ancient people were not primitive savages, nor anything much resembling that.)..."

Really? Stoning someone to death for screwing around pretty much defines 'savage', IMO. I believe 'The Book of Eve' is completely lost & the Catholics have an extra book that Protestants don't. That's the definition of cherry picking. The long standing mistranslation of 'witch' & 'poisoner' doesn't bother me a whole lot, but the toasted witches likely weren't happy about it. All things considered, I'd rather get my scientific information from a scientist today.

Werner wrote: "...That's actually only true of "young earth" creationists."

They told me they were Baptists, Christians, & Creationists. They never called themselves "young earth" creationists. I will admit to not asking their proper name, just filed them under 'crazies that won't get off my property'. What is 'historically old-earth creationism' & how does that put a scientific thumb on what scale? You lost me in that paragraph, probably because I'm ignorant of the definitions & differences between them. No, let me rephrase that so you don't waste a lot of time. I'm not really interested in what any religious text, no matter how it is interpreted, says about an area of science. If it works for you & you're not going to insist that I believe the Earth is only 6000 years old, then I'm fine with it.

My bottom line: The various bibles & other religious texts are fine for allegorical stories, myths, & some historical reference, but not for scientific data. That's my biggest gripe with these creationists. I say no thanks, they say I'm going to hell. I tell them I don't believe in hell & they call me nasty names. If they're trying to force their illogical myths down my throat then I get to tell them about the wonders of science & laugh at them while they text their preacher for instructions.


message 46: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina wrote: "Joy, you asked for my Miracle story and wondering if you have read it. Yesterday a pleasant day at a 330 acare farm with losds of food and company settled in with a great view of the KS sunset. Yes..."

I just now found these recent posts in this thread. For some reason, I hadn't received notifications from Goodreads.

Nina, the story of the miracle was wonderful. I can just imagine the relief which everyone felt.

Our first-born son at 18 months of age had hot tea spilled on his face when he had reached up to the counter and tipped the cup. He screamed with pain. His face swelled up and it was red where the hot water had hit him. He was treated with a special spray which my father, a pharmacist, knew about. While the burns were healing, our son happened to see himself in a full-length mirror. He screamed with fright.

We had expected terrible scars to develop but luckily they didn't.

At the time, the paternal grandparents were vacationing in Florida. We shouldn't have told them about it but when we did, they flew right home.

I had forgotten about this terrible incident until I read Nina's post.

Another incident was when Eddie had terrible burns on his hands and arms when a camping lantern spilled fuel on him as he was lighting it at our island campsite. An emergency boat trip and car trip to the Glens Falls Hospital Emergency Room resulted in bandaged hands and arms. We stayed on the island for two more weeks while the burns healed. The skin never got infected. We attribute the good results to the initial dunking in cold Lake George water right after the burning took place. Eddie was treated at the hospital by men who had had experience treating burns in Vietnam.

You never know with burns. They are horrible things which cause terrible pain.


message 47: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Dec 03, 2013 09:15AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Werner and Jim, your conversation was very interesting. Thanks for the links.

I doubt if there will ever be any agreement among the many aspects of the religious arguments.

By coincidence, I just finished listening to a sampling of the audiobook: Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra.
You can hear the sampling at:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Religion-Sp...

Chopra (who has an Indian religious background) talks about the different planes of life which exist alongside one another. Each plane has a different frequency. The GR review says: "It’s a fascinating journey into many levels of consciousness." Chopra talks about a "background hum" in the universe, made by "invisible vibrations". He speaks of various spiritual planes. Food for thought! But from another point of view the idea might seem a bit far-fetched.

To hear the sampling, click on the arrow by the word "sample" at the above-linked page.


message 48: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6324 comments Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach is pretty interesting, although she finds no evidence of it. There certainly are a lot of charlatans out there scamming people though. It was my least favorite of her books, although I still gave it 4 stars. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal came in 2d this year for the GR best nonfiction book of the year.


message 49: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Jim wrote: "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach is pretty interesting, although she finds no evidence of it. There certainly are a lot of charlatans out there scammin..."

Jim, thanks for mentioning this book. I've listened to two of Roach's books already. She has an upbeat style. A sampling can be heard at:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Religion-Sp...
I'll probably listen to this book just for the fun of it.

Some people tell about seeing a tunnel with a light at the end of it during near-death situations. I once saw that tunnel while under ether in a dentist's chair when I was a kid. When I woke up the dentist and nurse were standing over me trying to wake me up. I often wonder what caused the vision in my head.


message 50: by Werner (new)

Werner Jim and Joy, lots of interesting material in your posts above (I agree with a lot of it). Right now, being at work (on meal break), I don't have as much time to interact as your thoughts deserve. :-( But, we all have to take one day at a time!

No, Jim, I don't confuse your views with those of Dawkins. I just mentioned him because he's been mentioned elsewhere on the thread, and is one of the more prominent contemporary writers making claims for what "science" proves/disproves that I think are illegitimate.

The way I worded a sentence in my previous post created confusion about how the word "historically" was supposed to function there. My meaning was that historically, the majority of Christian creationists were of the "old earth" rather than "young earth" type. For those who may be as confused by the terms as Jim, but more curious, the former are creationists who believe that the earth is VERY old, and the latter are those who believe it's relatively young, on the order of 6,000 years or so.

Jim, can you (or anyone) recommend any reading on the scientific method? I was given a grounding in it in high school and college Biology classes (taught by evolutionists), but I'm open to refining my knowledge.


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