Friday, December 01, 2006

One last conversation with Seldom

You quote me and then comment:
“Now, just relax for a moment because I know this will throw you for a loop, but yes, I favor a young earth for many reasons. Surprisingly, scientific data - not religion is what brought me to consider young earth arguments."

Oh boy. I know you may actually believe what you wrote about believing in a young earth based on scientific evidence, but you really should not expect anyone else to believe it. There is NO scientific evidence for a young earth. None. It does not exist. I know you probably read some interesting stuff, probably involving moon dust or helium concentrations, but it is all worthless. There is not a single one of those ideas that has not been thoroughly refuted. You cannot say you believe in a young earth and then expect me or anyone else to believe it is for any reason other than your prior religious world view, even if you have some scientific sounding creationist rationalization to back you up.
LOL... spoken like a true Darwin supporter! When I mention to philosophical naturalists that I find young earth arguments compelling, I always wait to see if the response will be any different from the last response I was given. It NEVER is. Actually it’s spoken almost verbatim each time.

Hmmm...well, obviously there will never be any data that will convince you to reconsider your position on this subject, but perhaps there are readers who are still open minded about this topic. So, I’ll provide some links for them to consider.

Regardless of what you may think, religion is not what brought me into this debate. About 5 years ago, someone showed me a film on flood geology, and I found it extremely interesting. I dug around for more information and it led to years of research on the topic of creation and evolution. At about the same time that I viewed that film, I decided to take an extremely in-depth course on the Biblical narrative that lasted for about two years. I’d had doubts about various aspects of the Christian faith and I’d taken college biology courses and a comparative religion course that threw more doubt into the mix. So, after I had my two boys, I decided I’d better look at this subject from an adult perspective for their sake more than anything else. That also led me to research other religious beliefs as well. Anyway, It’s been a fascinating journey, and my faith in God has grown immensely.

Though creation scientists can support their theories with scientific evidence, obviously the issues surrounding this debate have religious ~implications~. Any time science starts contemplating the origins of life, it will cross lines with theology. But, one can study the scientific evidence for and against the various theories without resorting to religious arguments. Of course, when considering creationist arguments, a worldwide flood is mentioned and many refuse to even examine the evidence for the event due to the mention of a worldwide flood from the book of Genesis. But, history provides supporting evidence for flood geology as well. There are many ancient flood legends that coorespond to the Genesis account.

While I do find many of the Institute for Creation Research articles and arguments against Darwinian evolution interesting, I find that the organization is at times too dogmatic for my taste and their atheist bashing seems to me to be counter productive. I mean, let’s be realistic....there will always be atheists, and there will always be theists. There is no point whatsoever in angering each other with verbal slurs.

This is where I differ from the Dawkins/Harris mentality as well. They believe that there is no need to show respect for those who hold “unrealistic religious beliefs”. Personally, I don’t believe it is ever appropriate to show disrespect for others. There are ways to speak to people respectfully and at the same time relay a very strong message in regard to your opinions on a variety of topics. I believe that if one has to resort to belittling others, then the message they are trying to relay is apparently too weak to stand on it’s own.

As far as creation science in concerned, the most compelling evidence I’ve read would be from Walt Brown, a Ph.D. from M.I.T.. The seventh edition of his book, “In the Beginning, Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood” can be found at this link. The entire book is on-line for those who do not want to purchase it, though there is so much information packed into this book that you should consider owning a copy. His hydroplate theory is extremely interesting and the eighth edition of his book will feature a theory about the grand canyon that certainly makes more sense than any theories I’ve read to date. Seldom, I doubt you’ll take the time to read his material thoroughly because I’ve yet to meet an atheist who has (and I’ve asked quite a few to consider it). But, for those readers who are interested, if you run across something that you disagree with in regard to Brown’s theory, call him. I’ve called and questioned him several times. He’s very interesting to talk to, and he has no interest in bashing atheists or getting into theological arguments. He’s all about the science.

Just like the theory of evolution, creation scientists have been updating their theories as well. There are so many things that evolutionists have had to revise due to new findings. The same thing applies to creationists, so to wave them off by saying that their theories have been “thoroughly refuted” is simply ridiculous.

You wrote:
You then provided text from "Darwin Strikes Back". I do understand that this is what ID folks think. I have read Dembski and do understand their 'theory', I just think they are completely wrong. The text you provided says:

"Also, the more we learn about the threadlike DNA molecule, which in human cells has 20,000 genes-- digital files embedded on the cell’s DNA hard drive--the more we realize that this DNA information is structurally identical to the ordinary coded information in human communication (books, digitized DVDs) and artifacts."

This is standard ID practice--find something complex in nature, then claim that it is just like some man made object, then say therefore it must have been designed. Here is one of the problems: ID folks search out a specific feature that they think was designed. They don't say everything was, they admit most things in nature are of natural occurance. Meaning, that we have found natural explanations for them. They find the one thing we haven't found the natural explanation for yet, analagize it with some human creation, then claim design. This is the very definition of the God of the Gaps, only in technichal language. It is also negative, not positive, evidence. Many things "look" designed but are clearly of natural occurance. Therefore, just because something looks designed does not mean it was. So how do you tell one from the other? That is the important question. ID says, well if the evolution guys can't find an answer right now, then we win. That isn't how science works and it isn't evidence for design. It is a momentary lack of knowledge.
Again, a standard Darwinist response. Readers should consider reading several of the books written by ID supporters. I’m about half way through “Darwin Strikes Back”, and it has been very informative. The book refutes Seldom’s claims quite nicely, and if your philosophical worldview does not interfere with your science, you’ll be able to appreciate the improbabilities that life arose by mere chance. Another book that articulates the genius, power, sophistication, and artistry found in the cosmos would be the book “More Than Meets the Eye", by Richard Swenson, M.D.

You quote me and then comment:
"We also find bloggers such as Larry Moran, a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, making the statement that we should just “flunk” students who support Intelligent Design, or never let them be admitted to the university in the first place. Some of the more dogmatic scientists don’t hide the fact that they will reject tenure to those who support ID as well."

You shouldn't not admit student who believe in ID or flunk them because they believe in ID, but if they want to pass a science class they should have to understand evolution. As far as denying tenure--absolutely. Do our med schools tenure profs who don't believe in Germ Theory? Do physics departments tenure profs who don't accept Gravity? Of course not. And there is no difference here as long as we are talking about a science position. Philosophy fine.
Oh good grief. Denying tenure to those who support ID is absolutely obnoxious. This is only suggested by authoritarian dogmatic scientists who want to keep science in the hands of philosophical naturalists. You cannot possibly believe that those who support ID don’t understand evolution! Of course they do, and that is why they question the theory.

You quote me and then comment:
"Do you see how silly it is to refer to a camp of 100 kids and assume that Christians indoctrinate their children to become Christian reconstructionists in this same manner? These “Christian reconstructionists” are a fringe group, yet some people like to throw all Christians into this category."

But we weren't talking about "all Christians", I was replying to your "where do these fundamentalist I keep being told about live" comment. I don't think this is most Christians, but I do believe that the evangelical, fundamentalists types who were credited with getting Bush elected are only a slightly toned down version of the Jesus camp folks.
It’s interesting that you state that these “fundamentalists” were the ones who got Bush elected. Let’s see....I voted for Bush, I am a Christian, I support ID. Am I a “fundamentalist”? I’ve been called an “authoritarian fundamentalist” in an on-line forum, yet I do not want evolution taken out of the schools, nor do I want creationist theories taught in the public schools because people mistakenly view them as primarily religious arguments. I thoroughly disagree, but asking for them to be considered will cause endless problems. I do support ID because it is so obviously a valid scientific inference that to ignore it is simply wrong on many levels.

You quote me, and then comment:
"From the link: Dutch will allow paedophile group
....How far will society be willing to go?"

Well they are a political party, so society would go so far as to allow them to speak. That doesn't mean their agenda is going anywhere. Why is it that you read an article about pedophiles and bestiality and immediately jump to gay people. Seems like a rather sick and inappropriate comparison to me.
Why is it a “sick and inappropriate comparison“? Who’s to say that pedophilia or bestiality is “sick or inappropriate”. I mean, 50 years ago, if someone suggested that homosexuals would be marrying one another just as heterosexual couples, a majority of the population would have held that suggestion to be terribly “inappropriate” as well. Perhaps 50 years from now, we’ll consider bestiality or pedophilia semi-appropriate behavior. I mean, what’s to stop it? You’re not hurting anyone else by having sex with animals. And, there are many people out there who have a thing for young children. We hear about internet stings taking place all the time to stop this type of behavior. But, what’s wrong with it? Sure, there are some studies that show that children may suffer emotional problems later in life from these encounters. But, there are also studies that show that children of homosexuals suffer emotional problems later in life as well. Many people don’t think that those studies are accurate, so perhaps the pedophile thing isn’t all that bad either. Perhaps those results are just due to social stigma, right? If we have no real basis for moral decisions, society can eventually allow for this type of behavior to become the norm. GETTING MY POINT YET?

You quote me and then commented:
"By the time their parents might consider them to be old enough to “make a rational decision”, their kids may not even care to put forth the effort into researching various religious beliefs because they’ve learned from their parents that it doesn’t really matter anyway ("my parents don’t believe that stuff, why should I waste my time thinking about it"?)."

If any idea requires indoctrination at a young age in order to be believed, it is simply not worthy of being believed. End of story, no exceptions. Now if humans are inherently religious as was asserted earlier, surely once they are old enough to comprehend these issues, they will have that inner desire to learn more. I have no intention of teaching my kids that there is no god--because I don't "know" that to be true (I just don't think there is evidence for a god). I will teach them rational thought. If rational thought is a barrier to being religious, so be it, however I have been assured that it is not.
Believing in God does not “require” indoctrination at a young age. But, just like we teach our children math, science, reading, social studies, etc. at a young age, there is no reason why we wouldn’t start religious studies at the same time. It is certainly obvious ~to most people~ that there is a greater cause that created the cosmos, and it makes no sense not to search for those answers just as we do everything else in life.

I certainly wouldn’t keep my kids out of science class merely because there may be some information that may not be completely accurate. In the same manner, I wouldn’t keep them from learning about religion either.

"I often wonder if atheists even consider this...what if they are wrong? What if there is a Creator of the cosmos?"

This is Pasqual's wager which is a weak argument which I would expect you to be familiar with.
Sigh....yes, I’m familiar with Pasqual’s wager, but I don’t give two hoots about some “wager”. I’m talking about my children and giving them every possible opportunity in life. I want them to think -- about everything, and reason their way through those questions logically. My oldest has asked me some outstanding questions in regard to religion and the logic of religious arguments. We often look at the questions from both a theist and atheist angle. What atheists refuse to acknowledge is that for ~every~ argument they put forth, there is a Christian apologist armed with a logical answer from the word of God.

You quote me and then comment:
"What if that Creator really does want a relationship with us? Is that something you would deny your child simply because you believe you have reason to reject the idea?"

This is an interesting question. How do you think it is that I was raised by Christians, went to church, went to Sunday school, went to confirmation classes, etc. to learn about this loving god who wants a relationship with me and ended up with no relationship? Funny how that works. I was certainly not a close minded atheist back in those days.
Funny perhaps, but I wouldn‘t say your experience is the norm. You are an exception as the odds are still against the outcome that people will reject God altogether.

The problem in our churches today is that we are still teaching our children ~what~ to believe, but not ~why~ they should believe it. People are so interested in materialism these days. We want more, more, more of everything. Our kids spend their lives running from one activity to the next and parents are working around the clock to make ends meet. We’ve left our Bibles on the bookshelves to collect dust, and most people know next to nothing about what is in the book. That fact has opened the door to severe skepticism in regard to Biblical truth. We need to be studying our Bible, learning about what it contains and WHY we should believe it. Churches who teach their parishioners apologetic arguments for their faith are growing, and that is a good thing, IMO.

You wrote:
Second, back to Pasqual, how sure are you that you are not sending your children to hell for eternity because you are of the wrong religion? Have you read the Quoran? Have you considered converting to Judaism? Interesting how all these religions teach that they are the one true religion and everyone else is going to hell, yet Christians seem to always 'know' that their's is the right one. Good pick I guess. Lucky for you you weren't born in the Middle East.
Actually, I’ve done quite a bit of research in regard to other religious beliefs and the evidence that is available for the validity of those beliefs. I have a Quran sitting about 3 yards away from my computer at home that I can reference whenever I need it. I haven’t read the entire book, but I’ve certainly dived into it on more than one occasion. I’ve read the entire book of Mormon. I’ve read tons of on-line articles and information about various religious beliefs as well. At one time I was very curious as to what evidence each religion can provide for their beliefs. So, yes, I believe I have given considerable consideration to whether I am on the right track.

I’ve found that most atheists who I’ve had internet conversations with are quite close minded about giving consideration to reading anything I‘ve suggested. Their journey for truth has ended up in the science classroom, and they are absolutely certain there is no God, and see no need to search any further. I’m on a constant journey, and I can’t remember turning someone down when they suggest something else to consider or read. In fact, I’m done reading the book, “Letter to a Christian Nation”, that you suggested. Not surprisingly, I’ve heard every argument before. But, he makes a few good points, primarily in his claim that many “Christians” have little knowledge as to what is in the book that they base their faith upon.

But, Harris only quoted the Bible 11 times and made reference to 14 additional passages. I mean, let’s be real... there are appoximately 31,000 verses in the Bible, and his 25 total references relay nothing of significance to the reader other than pointing to a few passages pulled out of the overall context of the biblical narrative that seem to further his agenda. No doubt, there will be a book refuting Harris’s assumptions about religion in the near future.

You wrote:
have an extremely busy 2-3 weeks coming up. I will try to pop in to read any replies you might have, but I doubt I will provide any lengthy comments. Unless you say something really silly;) Happy Holidays.
Thanks. Seldom, I want to reiterate again how much I’ve enjoyed discussing these issues with you. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, or perhaps I should just say “Happy Holidays“. Nah, Christmas just seems more appropriate. Have a great one!!