Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




God and Computers

Speaking of Christmas:
Have you heard Donald Knuth's lectures on God and Computers?
If I were not a believer already I don't think he would have converted me. However, he doesn't seem interested in convincing anyone.
I like most of his ideas, maybe because they resemble my own (even though I'm not a Christian).
He estimates that the vast majority of computer scientists are NOT believers. I wonder if that's true (and based on everything I've read on cognitive science I think so), and if it is, I wonder why. Well I could guess, but I would like to see what you think.

PC
Thursday, December 26, 2002

i read his book "things a computer scientist rarely talks about."  it was an interesting read - it was a series of lectures he did on a random sampling of all the "3:16" verses from the Bible.  interesting read.

nathan
Thursday, December 26, 2002

He talks about the 3:16 verses in the God and Computer lectures, and also other things. He mentions digital physics.

PC
Thursday, December 26, 2002

I just found them on Dr Dobbs Technetcast:

http://technetcast.ddj.com/tnc_play_stream.html?stream_id=190

Ian Stallings
Thursday, December 26, 2002

I know of a few Christian computer scientists, and am a believer myself:

- Larry Wall (Perl)
- Fredrick P. Brooks (author of Mythical Man-Month)

Matthew Lock
Thursday, December 26, 2002

I forgot, also one of the fathers of computer science Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662) was a Christian:

http://www.gospelcom.net/chi/GLIMPSEF/Glimpses/glmps002.shtml

Matthew Lock
Thursday, December 26, 2002

Charles Babbage the man who arguably started the whole IT box and dice was a Christian and wrote papers trying to reconcile science and God.

Alberto
Friday, December 27, 2002

I knew that Larry Wall is Christian, but I didn't know about Brooks.
The others mentioned don't count, in this context, because they lived way before modern atheism (which began after Darwin, late 19th c).
And I don't mean Christianity, specifically. People in natural, social or cognitive sciences are less likely to believe in God, maybe because of the traditional conflicts between science and religion. I don't think there is any real intellectual reason for a scientist not to believe in God -- if there were, people like Wall and Knuth would be atheists.
So one of my questions is: why do you think most computer scientists are non-religious (if Knuth is correct about that)? From what I've read, about half of physicists are atheists -- that's much higher than the rate of atheism in the general population, but still would not be considered "most." I don't actually remember Knuth's exact words but he either said "most" or "99%" or something like that, of his colleagues do not believe in God. I think it was only his impression, though, not a real statistic.

I also wonder what you think of Knuth's ideas expressed in the lectures.
Near the end he briefly mentioned digital physics, which I happen to be interested in --I only wish I knew more about physics so I could understand it better.
Digital physics doesn't necessarily lead to belief in God (I don't know if Fredkin is religious). But if the universe is a computer program, then it's reasonable to think somebody programmed it. And DP, if proven, would make materialism obsolete (if it isn't already).

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002

I suspect believers are in a minority in most sciences; certainly the proportion is probably lower than in other occupational groups.

Personally, I've always found God to be a little like the big American cars like the Chevrolet Caprice - comfortable and useful for some no doubt, but hugely wasteful of resources and pretty irrelevant to real life

sceptick
Friday, December 27, 2002

>>>
Personally, I've always found God to be a little like the big American cars like the Chevrolet Caprice - comfortable and useful for some no doubt, but hugely wasteful of resources and pretty irrelevant to real life
<<<

Most interesting!  However, I feel this is more appropriate an analogy to religion as opposed to God.

I believe in God, not religion.

Cheers,
BDKR

BDKR
Friday, December 27, 2002

"People in natural, social or cognitive sciences are less likely to believe in God"

I actually disagree with this statement.  An alternate view: as you become a greater and greater expert in x scientific field, it becomes clearer how little we know about the way the world works and how unlikely it is that it all works this way by chance.

It's like the various folk who spend their lives attempting to prove the non-existence of God/Jesus / whatever.  Historically speaking, not only have they all failed (unlike those who "debunked" the flat earth or the body consisting of four humours), but a significant number ended up as believers.

I once read (from a fairly reputable source, although alas I did not write it down) that 80% of all scientists are believers. Granted, this was roughly 10 years ago - but still.  The point was that there is (was) a much higher percentage of believers in science than in the general population - a contention that is certainly accurate in my personal observations. I'm going to try and track down that source again.

Actually (and interestingly), most of my non-believing acquaintances have poor critical thinking skills and believe pretty much anything they see on TV or read (as long as it fits their world view).  In an earlier age, they would probably be Christian - because that's what "everyone" believed, and what people were told to believe.  Nowadays, people who believe in God are "not scientific", ignoring the "conflicts between science and religion" or using their belief system as a crutch.  In a "me first" culture where belief is considered weak and inferior, it doesn't surprise me at all that my acquaintances with poor critical thinking skills are the most likely not to believe.

Furthermore, it's very dangerous to make assumptions about the belief systems of other people.  Just because someone is a "scientist" doesn't mean that they don't believe in God (nor vice versa), nor that they are "more likely" not to believe.  Just because someone doesn't talk about their faith, doesn't mean that they don't believe in God. Heck, these days, just because someone is a priest high up on the hierarchy doesn't mean they believe the basic tenets of their faith (the Canadian United Church is a good example of this).

Really, blanket statements like "scientists are less likely to believe in God" should either go unuttered (because they prove nothing) or you should have a respected source to back up the speculation.

Phibian
Friday, December 27, 2002

[as you become a greater and greater expert in x scientific field, it becomes clearer how little we know about the way the world works and how unlikely it is that it all works this way by chance.]

I absolutely agree with you about this.
I had read survey results showing scientists to be less likely to believe in God. But maybe they just meant the traditional view of God.
I hope you are right, and that people with good thinking skills are likely to believe, while most of the atheists are just going along with the crowd. My own observations confirm your theory.

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002


I earned my undergrad degree in Mathmatics.

For what I saw, an incredibly large percentage of mathmeticians are theists - they believe in _SOMEBODY_.

Mostly because the design of the universe is so elegant.  You see this grand architecture enough, and you have to start to believe in an architect.  Just look at the fibonacci sequence.

Once you believe in Natural Law or Meta-Physics, you have to have someone that wrote the law.  Enter God.

Just my $0.02.  I saw a LOT of athiests in Biology, mostly because of the influence of Darwin and the idea that theism is "unscientific." JMHO.

Matt H.
Friday, December 27, 2002

I personally believe in god because he(?) has touched my life in so many ways and continues to bless me every day. It's not something that I would argue with someone over but it does provide me strength to continue when the going gets tough. Maybe it's all just an illusion I fool myself with. But if so, it's a good one and I'd rather hedge my bets just in case ;-)


I don't see why science and god can't coexist. But I can see why religion and it's control over thought strike fear in a scientists heart. I certainly like to consider myself a free thinker and anyone or anything imposing on that I oppose.

Ian Stallings
Friday, December 27, 2002

[as you become a greater and greater expert in x scientific field, it becomes clearer how little we know about the way the world works and how unlikely it is that it all works this way by chance.]

See, as a programmer you should know that this doesn't pass logical tests. Just because you don't know how something works does not mean that it must be some greater power. I don't know how my DVD player works, but I'm pretty sure it's not a divine mystery.

I find it shocking that people jump to these huge conclusions (read: God) because "we don't have any better answer". Well, if you don't have a better answer, keep looking until you get one. Just giving up, and saying "it must be because of God" is a weak answer, at best. You might as well start saying that they Fey have taken your keys, and that ogres live under the bridge.

Look harder, Homer. :-)

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

Saying it must be because of God is not giving up. It's just an acknowledgement that it didn't happen by chance. Being a scientist and trying to understand things better can be a way of appreciating God.

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002

"Didn't happen by chance?"

The only reason to acknowledge that is because you've given up on other answers. Just because you don't have a solution doesn't mean the solution is God. It's a cop out, and simple one at that.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

> I knew that Larry Wall is Christian, but I didn't know
> about Brooks.
> The others mentioned don't count, in this context,
> because they lived way before modern atheism (which
> began after Darwin, late 19th c).

I understand what you mean in that before the 19th most people considered themselves Christian by default, but Pascal was more than just a nominal Christian.

"What a vast distance there is between knowing God and loving him . . . Human things must be known to be loved: but Divine things must be loved to be known. "

[http://www.gospelcom.net/chi/GLIMPSEF/Glimpses/glmps002.shtml]

Matthew Lock
Friday, December 27, 2002

I agree with that. We have no way to perceive God unless our heart is open. You can't perceive God with the physical senses.

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002

> You can't perceive God with the physical senses.

*sigh*.

That's awfully convienent. So, science has to prove its theories, but religion gets off with "I feel it".

That doesn't cut it. If I were to tell you that I just "feel" that there are 200 Gods, and they war among each other, and that's what causes the weather, you'd think I was crazy. Is it impossible? No. Not at all. However, there is no evidence of one or more Gods, other than things that human beings have written, or said.

So until I see something, anything that provides evidence that there is a God (and don't tell me I need to "feel" it, because feelings are not hard evidence), I'll remain skeptical. Just as I remain skeptical that there are ghosts, space aliens, ESP, Loch Ness' monster, Bigfoot and magical cult cloners from Quebec. However, unlike you, I'm open to the possibility that I'm wrong.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

[However, unlike you, I'm open to the possibility that I'm wrong. ]

Sorry, that wasn't fair. I don't know if you're open to the possiblility of being wrong or not. :-)

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

I think there is enough evidence that if someone wants to believe they can reasonably do so. And there's enough lack of evidence that not everyone is compeled (sp?) to believe.

Scot
Friday, December 27, 2002

Scot: What evidence is that?

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

[You can't perceive God with the physical senses.

That's awfully convienent. So, science has to prove its theories, but religion gets off with "I feel it".]

No, there are lots of things you can't perceive with the physical senses, but science is still able to prove them.
Physicists already have evidence that higher dimensions exist. And, of course, physics has evidence for many strange things we can't perceive. There is nothing to prevent science from finding evidence for the existence of "supernatural" beings. Aside from lack of funding, that is.

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002

[There is nothing to prevent science from finding evidence for the existence of "supernatural" beings. Aside from lack of funding, that is.]

Unless, of course, if there isn't one. Like I said, I'm open to the possibility that there IS a God (or Gods), however I've yet to see or hear anything that shows that there MIGHT be. Without this, I have to maintain my position that I won't just believe something because you (or someone else) tells me that they believe it. Think about this very long and very hard: besides what you've been told, or read, how do you know there is a God?

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

Think about this very long and very hard: besides what you've been told, or read, how do you know there is a God?
------

Can you catch the wind?

See a Breeze?

It's presence is revealed by the leaves on a tree.

An image of my faith in the unseen ...

Matt H.
Friday, December 27, 2002

This must be discussion 100,000,001 about God(s) existing or not. Can be fun nonetheless, but it is a discussion on auto-reverse. Some believe in Donar, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, God, Shiva and some don't.

A far more interesting topic would be: Why is religion so often misused to justify violence? and what can the we do about it to solve that? Now go and answer those questions and the world will be a better place.

It's like the Israelian/Palestinian conflict: Everybody thinks that the conflict is between Muslims and Jews. That's not at all the case. It is between those who want to peacefully coexist and those who want to drive the others into the sea. Religion is being misused by extremists to justify their violence. Until a majority of people notices that, we are condemned to repeating history.

Jan Derk
Friday, December 27, 2002

> Can you catch the wind?
>See a Breeze?
> It's presence is revealed by the leaves on a tree.
>An image of my faith in the unseen ...

So you believe in something you can't see or understand, simply because you also believe in the wind? :-) I understand it's a simile, but you're not comparing it to anything, so you've given me nothing to work with.

It also seems a little like groping to me, and is nothing like evidence. It also doesn't answer the question I asked (that you quoted): what causes you to believe in God, besides that which you were told or read.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

[Think about this very long and very hard: besides what you've been told, or read, how do you know there is a God?]

I have already thought about it long and hard, for most of my life. My belief does not come from what I was told. I was told there is no God.

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002

PC -

[I have already thought about it long and hard, for most of my life. My belief does not come from what I was told. I was told there is no God.]

See, I find this particularly interesting! What is it that caused you to move from atheism to theism (I'm assuming Christianity - cirrect me if I'm wrong)? What is your logic for embracing God over, say, Budda, or Zeus?

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

The word "God" doesn't mean a Christian God.

PC
Friday, December 27, 2002

" The only reason to acknowledge that is because you've given up on other answers. Just because you don't have a solution doesn't mean the solution is God. It's a cop out, and simple one at that. "

Or, a definition, if you like.

Robert
Friday, December 27, 2002



Wow.  I'll post something more on monday.

One thing though:  Do you believe that lincoln lived and signed the emancipation proclimation?  What about Julius Ceaser?  Did he invade Gaul?

Why?  The documents that "prove" this are over a thousand years old, and have numerous translation errors and omissions.

Somehow, you've got to weigh the evidence on such  matters and come to a conclusion.  I came to mine.

1,000 years ago, Thomas Aquinas argued very eloquently that God can be discovered through reason.  (This is the renesseance explanation of truth - that is is "self evident" - the classical definition of Truth is that it is an attribute of God's Character shown through divine releavion.  Because that's arguably circular logic, I'll stick to the "newer" definition.)

I have a very good friend who wrote her philosophy thesis on reconciling Christian Ethics with Artistotilan ethics.  One of her conclusions was that, had Artistotle been born a bit later, he'd have been a Christian.

In other words, she argued that the world-views are compatible because they started with an honest search for truth - and Truth is a REAL THING (TM), that can actually be found.  (This is contradictory to the modern definition of truth, that truth is whatever you believe it to be.  I never did like relativism ...)

Sooner or later, when your start looking at the universe, you see a designer. You see a plan, you need a planner.  You see a miracle - you need a God.  (When you hit meta-physics it seems pretty simple: In order for the Nazis to be bad, we need a universal standard of good and evil.  In hearts, we mostly believe in this standard ... who wrote it?)

Not to add too much, but in my searching and research, I came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was a real person who claimed to be God in the flesh.  My choices were simple:  Either he was a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord.

A bit more research, a few more things (11 disciples died for thier faith; they died because they believe they had seen this man rise from the dead; who would die to protect a lie?) and I made my choice.

Whew.  I've borrowed pretty heavily from CS Lewis so far.  I'll stop here for now ...

Matt H.
Friday, December 27, 2002


PS: Ceaser is more like 2,000 years old.  Lincoln is more like 100.  So I averaged ... :-)

Matt H.
Friday, December 27, 2002


Heh.  BTW, most of those arguments I was told or read.  Are you asking for the "personal experience" end of it?  I've never heard the voice of God, but I have had a few experiences.  I'll think on it over the weekend ...

Matt H.
Friday, December 27, 2002

Tim, there are different types of evidence.  However, in order to find evidence for something as specific as Chistianity I think you would have to examine the historical record.  Maybe we could limit the scope of the question?

Scot
Friday, December 27, 2002

The main thing is that even if god existed, what does it matter?  It's a conceptual leap from believing in a god to worshipping god.

Tj
Friday, December 27, 2002

"But if so, it's a good one and I'd rather hedge my bets just in case ;-)"

If a god lets someone into 'heaven' for hedging their bets but excludes someone else because they passionately believe in something different, is that a god that's worth believing in?

"Sooner or later, when your start looking at the universe, you see a designer. You see a plan, you need a planner.  You see a miracle - you need a God.  (When you hit meta-physics it seems pretty simple: In order for the Nazis to be bad, we need a universal standard of good and evil.  In hearts, we mostly believe in this standard ... who wrote it?) "

Right.. so who made God, then? A bigger God? And who made him? "Turtles all the way down"

As for good and evil, purely human creations... torture causes pain in people, and I don't like being in pain, therefore torture is bad. Start from there and it's amazing what you can work your way towards....

I'd argue some more here, but having recently read the Salmon of Doubt, I'd mostly just be repeating the arguments of Douglas Adams hereon.

Lach
Friday, December 27, 2002

I agree Tj.  It seems to me we would need to know alot of other stuff about the god. Is it good, evil, or simply disinterested.  Does it care what we do?  Why did it create me?

Scot
Friday, December 27, 2002

PC: You seem like you're not interested in discussion, so I won't try to force you to actually participate by providing answers.

Matt: Historically, yes, I believe in Jesus. I also believe in Mohommad, and I believe in Budda, and I believe in Ceasar. But do I believe any of them are god, sons of gods, or second cousins of gods? No.

Hundreds of people died for David Koresh, and at Jonestown. Were those leaders gods? No. People sacrifice themselves for things they believe. What they believe isn't always correct.

[Sooner or later, when your start looking at the universe, you see a designer.]

Just because there is a pattern, doesn't mean there is a designer. It just means that there are rules. And rules do not necessarily imply a designer, either. If there needs to be a designer in order for there to be rules, why do we need to animate the designer as a God that is worshiped and loved?

I also agree with the concept of a pure truth. However, the only way to discern truth is through facts. Your conclusions are drawn though perception, not fact (notably: seeing a designer where there may not be one, and assuming that the designer is God).

Tim Sullivan
Friday, December 27, 2002

Lach,  I understand where you are coming from on the torture argument.

In regard to the origin of god, why does there have to be one?  One of the names for god in the old testament is 'I am that I am'.  Or as jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am."

Scot
Friday, December 27, 2002

'In regard to the origin of god, why does there have to be one?  One of the names for god in the old testament is 'I am that I am'.  Or as jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am."'

Well, the reason a lot of people believe in God is that they ask how else could the Universe have come to be, without realising that the circular logic there is how did God come to be. If God can just be there, then why can't the Universe just be there?

Lach
Saturday, December 28, 2002

Human beings are not capable of understanding what the universe is, ultimately, or how or why it was created. Those questions are beyond us and none of the arguments for either side are very persuasive.
Believing that there is an ultimate God who created everything, and who is infinitely wise and loving and good, is mostly a personal choice. Donald Knuth doesn't try to persuade anyone in his lectures, maybe because he recognizes the limits of human intelligence.
However, I do think it's possible to provide logic and evidence in favor of "supernatural" levels of existence. It is also possible to point out the holes in the reasoning of Darwinists (who claim everything was created by chance and evolved by chance). (I DO believe in evolution, by the way, but I don't think it happens entirely by chance). Knuth does talk about randomness, which is an interesting concept and we often forget to question what it really means.
I am completely confident that strict Darwinism will go the way of the flat earth theory, eventually. Science will discover some surprising things about the physics of the brain, for example. There's a lot of alternative and "fringe" science going on, which will eventually become mainstream. You don't learn it in school but thanks to the web now it's easy to find information. But long before the web I used to find interesting stuff right in the public library, none of it taught in school.

PC
Saturday, December 28, 2002

[Human beings are not capable of understanding what the universe is, ultimately, or how or why it was created.]

This sounds an awful lot like "It is impossible to ever run the four minute mile."

This is a statement, not of fact, but of belief. You say it as if you know it is true, but offer no evidence that it is true. Just because we don't know something now does not mean that we will never know it.

[It is also possible to point out the holes in the reasoning of Darwinists (who claim everything was created by chance and evolved by chance).]

Chance has nothing to do with evolution. Evolution is based on what mutations are more successful than others over a long term. Most fail, some succeed.

[a lot of alternative and "fringe" science going on, which will eventually become mainstream.]

Again, a statement of fact that is not necessarily true. Just because it's fringe or alternative does not mean that it will eventually become mainstream. This is a prediction, not a fact. And alternative medicines, while they may have great benefits, must prove themselves. A great example is St. John's Wort. In clinical studies, it works just as well as a sugar pill. It's a worthless choice for seriously treating depression. However, that doesn't stop thousands of people from using it every year. Just because someone says it works does not mean it works.

PC, you need to stop accepting things blindly without questioning them first. You make wide, sweeping general statements without any facts to back them up. There must be a reason you believe them - that's what I want to know. WHY do you believe that alt medicine will become mainstream? WHY did you make a choice to believe in Odin (or whatever non-Christian god you chose to believe)?

"Because I do" isn't a good enough answer. There is a source of all belief, and that's what I'm trying to figure out.

Tim Sullivan
Saturday, December 28, 2002

"It is also possible to point out the holes in the reasoning of Darwinists (who claim everything was created by chance and evolved by chance). (I DO believe in evolution, by the way, but I don't think it happens entirely by chance). "

This is total nonsense! Living beings do not evolve randomly. Mutations are random but which mutations become dominant is decided by their respective rates of reproduction which are not random but related to their fitness to the environment  aka natural selection.

You are presuming that things either had to be created according to a plan or evolved by chance; this is a false dichotomy.

If you want a clear guide to traditiional Darwinist theory order "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins.

Why is it that when it comes to dealing with evolution (or language for that matter) that people think they can spout off all kinds of unsubstantiated rubbish when they would never dream of doing the same thing about physics or computer science?

sceptick
Saturday, December 28, 2002

Lach, I see what you're saying.  There's a debate about that currently, IIRC... will the universe collapse in on itself and repeat the big bang ad infinitum, or is the universe expanding at an accelerating rate, indicating that it won't collapse?

If the universe is in an endless cycle, why is the question of first cause relevant?  In my mind it's relevant because of its observed nature.  There is no observed phenomena (sp?) of something being created from nothing.  Granted one could argue that the universe may fall into this category.  Man... my brain hurts just thinking about it :-)

Scot
Saturday, December 28, 2002

[You are presuming that things either had to be created according to a plan or evolved by chance; this is a false dichotomy.]

I said evolution doesn't occur entirely by chance. Evolution is more than natural selection.

And in reply to someone else, I never said ALL alternative science will become mainstream. Obviously I don't have time to explain the reasons for all my beliefs here, so maybe I shouldn't have said anything. I read A LOT about evolution, alternative theories, etc.
Anyway, some people get awfully mad if you question Darwinism, so I'm getting back to work now.

PC
Saturday, December 28, 2002

[[You are presuming that things either had to be created according to a plan or evolved by chance; this is a false dichotomy.]

I said evolution doesn't occur entirely by chance. Evolution is more than natural selection.]

You said that Darwinists believe that evolution occurs entirely by chance. This is not true.

[I never said ALL alternative science will become mainstream]

And I never claimed you did. However, you never specify which ones will or won't, and made a sweeping and unproven statement.

As I said before, PC, it seems like you're not interested in actually discussing anything, and I won't try to force you to.

Tim Sullivan
Saturday, December 28, 2002

God is real unless declared an integer.

Martin Schultz
Saturday, December 28, 2002

[You said that Darwinists believe that evolution occurs entirely by chance.
This is not true.]

The source of all beneficial mutations, according to Darwinism, is random. I am not questioning natural selection -- it's an easily observable fact. I'm questioning the assumption that the mutation process is never guided by intelligence. In other words, I more or less believe in the "intelligent design" theory.
Intelligent design, or theories like that (and some of them preceded Darwinism) says that evolution occurs, and that natural selection occurs. However, Darwinism says that random mutations plus natural selection, and nothing else, are the cause of all evolution.
It's true that there is randomness involved in the creation of mutations, and it's also true that some evolution is caused by natural selection (when we use the word "evolution" to mean any kind of change, not necessarily progress).
However, the tendency (which is easily observed) of natural systems to evolve in the direction of greater complexity and greater intelligence results from the fact that the universe is intelligent. People can call the intelligent universe God or they can call it whatever they want.

PC
Saturday, December 28, 2002

"However, the tendency (which is easily observed) of natural systems to evolve in the direction of greater complexity and greater intelligence results from the fact that the universe is intelligent. "

That the universe is intelligent is not a fact, it is a statement. You are equating the universe with intelligence, this doesn't make sense. What does that even mean? Natural systems evolve towards greater complexity simply because those organisms that exhibited greater complexity as a result of random mutations proved more successful at producing offspring than less complex competitors. Nothing mystical there.

"The Demon Haunted World" by the late Carl Sagan is a great read dealing with Sagan's views on religion and god.

F. Nietzsche
Sunday, December 29, 2002

[Natural systems evolve towards greater complexity simply because those organisms that exhibited greater complexity as a result of random mutations proved more successful at producing offspring than less complex competitors.]

Yes, Darwinism depends on that premise. Hardly anyone questions it, whether or not they agree with Darwinism. But if you think about different species with different levels of complexity you will eventually see that less complex species are often the most successful at surviving and reproducing.
Human beings are the only highly intelligent species that has succeeded in over-running the planet, but that's just because of our technology. Other highly intelligent species remained small in numbers over millions of years. And some of the least intelligent species have done extremely well.
There are many other problems with Darwinist logic, but it's Sunday and I have a lot of work to do.
(How come all the religious people have left this discussion?)

PC
Sunday, December 29, 2002

"(How come all the religious people have left this discussion?) "

It was Sunday, maybe they were all busy reading the Bible.

a
Sunday, December 29, 2002

"It was Sunday..."

a, where are you posting from this early (it's 08:49 AM EDT), to be saying that it *Was* Sunday?

let us see: you're either in eastern australia, far eastern russia, new zealand, fiji, kiritimati, nauru, tonga, etc.

b.g.
Sunday, December 29, 2002

" Yes, Darwinism depends on that premise. Hardly anyone questions it, whether or not they agree with Darwinism. But if you think about different species with different levels of complexity you will eventually see that less complex species are often the most successful at surviving and reproducing.
Human beings are the only highly intelligent species that has succeeded in over-running the planet, but that's just because of our technology. Other highly intelligent species remained small in numbers over millions of years. And some of the least intelligent species have done extremely well.
There are many other problems with Darwinist logic, but it's Sunday and I have a lot of work to do.
(How come all the religious people have left this discussion?) "

Nonsense once again! You haven't defined what you mean by over-running the planet, or given the remotest clue as to what you mean by "have done extremely well".

Intelligent species will always be much smaller in numbers than less intelligent species because intelligence necessitates a lot of bio-mass. A worm can gorge himelf and his whole family off your corpse for generations, but you would need to eat hundreds of worms just for breakfast.

Greater complexity does not evolve over time because of any evolutionary advantage over less complex forms. It simply needs not to be completly disadvantaged. It will automatically develop over time. Think of a massive field in which people go along periodically laying down bricks. As time goes on you will see some higher and higher wals develop because the law of averages states that as time goes on some bricks will be placed on top of other bricks.

sceptick
Sunday, December 29, 2002

"whether or not they agree with Darwinism"

Can people also choose to agree or not with Copernican astronomy, Newtonian Physics, Boolean algebra and the periodic table?

sceptick
Sunday, December 29, 2002

[Greater complexity does not evolve over time because of any evolutionary advantage over less complex forms. It simply needs not to be completly disadvantaged. It will automatically develop over time.]

Right. Complexity automatically develops, and that should make you think. If the universe were not self-organizing, that would not happen.

PC
Sunday, December 29, 2002

[Can people also choose to agree or not with Copernican astronomy, Newtonian Physics, Boolean algebra and the periodic table?]

Well they could (and should) say that Newtonian physics does not completely explain physics.
Similarly, I can say that Darwinism does not completely explain evolution.
Science can progress after all.

PC
Sunday, December 29, 2002

Newtonian physics doesn't explain all phenomena - the factor of scale is important.

But no one goes around denying the existence of the force of graviy because Newtonian mechanics doesn't work at the quantum level. Or claim that the earth goes round the sun because of "intelligent design".

Yet we hear the equivalent daily from people who haven't even bothered to grasp the basics of the theory of evolution.

sceptick
Sunday, December 29, 2002

" Right. Complexity automatically develops, and that should make you think. If the universe were not self-organizing, that would not happen. "

What on earth does this mean!

If the universe is self-organizing then there is obviously no need for any supernatural being to organize it

And what has the fact that local hotspots can contradict global entropy got to do with "self-organizing universes" in the first place?

sceptick
Sunday, December 29, 2002

[But no one goes around denying the existence of the force of graviy because Newtonian mechanics doesn't work at the quantum level. Or claim that the earth goes round the sun because of "intelligent design".]

And I don't deny that evolution or natural selection occur, or that randomness (whatever that means) is involved.
Newtonian physics doesn't explain everything physical, and Darwinism doesn't explain everything about evolution.
But you're one of those "skeptics" who can't be skeptical about the things you've been taught, only about the things you have been taught to question.

PC
Sunday, December 29, 2002

" But you're one of those "skeptics" who can't be skeptical about the things you've been taught, only about the things you have been taught to question. "

Strange (or maybe not so strange) that you always end up by making personal criticisms of the person you are arguing with.

You haven't bothered to give one example to back up your points. In fact if we did a search for all your posts I doublt if we would ever actually be able to find a single fact to back up your ideas.

How about giving us a few examples of where in your opinion "darwinism doesn't explain the whole of evolution" (though the phrase is as meaningless as everything else you have been saying in this thread!)

sceptick
Sunday, December 29, 2002

One day you non-believers will come to realize overclocked processors aren't that hot, relatively speaking.  That's unfortunate.  Yet most of you probably love the hell out of science fiction.  Go figure.

Crusty Admin
Sunday, December 29, 2002

We are running programs created by God.
He sets the rule.
He can alter the running programs anyway He wants.
And He's helluva lot smarter than us.

atheist think they're smart, but in fact they're the stupidest amongst the stupid people of the world
Monday, December 30, 2002

"darwinism doesn't explain the whole of evolution"

I didn't write that, but I'd bet that one of his points was that Macro-Evolution (Mutate to the point that you become a new species) hasn't really been proven - only Micro-Evolution. (Natural Selection)

In o ther words, if you check the fossil record, and go backward, you start with a horse and get a dumber, slower, weaker ... horse.  We can't seem to trace a horse back to a X-opic-period horse-like thingie that isn't a horse.

That's where the term "missing link" comes from - we can't seem to find the generations in-between animal X and Homo Sapiens. 

So, Darwinian evolution has pretty much fallen out of favor in intellectual circles, and it's been replaced with "flash" evolution - the idea that Macro-Evolution happens so fast that it doesn't leave a fossil record.

In other words, the Darwinists found out that they were wrong about a HUGE porition of thier doctrine, and then proceded to make something else up.  I thought that was what they we mad at us theists for doing? :-)

As for the Sunday thing, I don't check JoelOnSoft much at home - that's why I said above it'd be my last post 'till monday.  Sheesh.  You guys ...



regards,

Matt H.
Monday, December 30, 2002

Move on the Prime Mover & Thomas Aquinas:

"Aquinas' basic hypothesis here is that there must be a first cause of motion in every causal series, so in order to account for all cosmic motion he postulated an obviously Unmoved Mover, the First Cause of all motion, who is God.

    By far the most interesting of Aquinas' so-called "five ways" (five proofs of God's existence) is the "third way", the argument from contingency.  Taking a page again form the ancient Greeks, this time, Epicurus, Aquinas restated the Epicurean dictum "something obviously exists now and something never sprang from nothing." He then restated the Epicurean conclusion that being must be eternal, that an Eternal Something must be admitted by all. But this Eternal Something can not be the physical universe which is obviously contingent, changing and, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, subject to decay. How could a presently decomposing entity be eternal? ..."

http://www.pilgrimbible.org/tacoma/ssapologetics.html

Matt H.
Monday, December 30, 2002

[In other words, the Darwinists found out that they were wrong about a HUGE porition of their doctrine, and then proceded to make something else up.]

Thanks Matt. There is so much wrong with Darwinism and materialism, but I just don'e have time to argue with these guys about everything. I'm glad you're back.

PC
Monday, December 30, 2002

Matt,
        If you want to comment about Darwinism in a serious forum - and I presume you consider this forum to be one despite the odd joker - you should refer to original resources instead of half-baked digests from the fundamentalist press.

        What you are referring to as "flash" evolution is called "punctuated equilibrium", and its leading exponents are Miles Eldridge and the late Stephen Jay Gould. If you wish to have a clear explanation of it then I recommend you get some of Gould's books; most are based on weekly articles he wrote and they are excellent examples of science made clear to the layman (the one that popularized punctuated equilibrium being "Wonderful Life; the Burgess Shale") .

          What punctuated evolution states is that most of the time there is a period of near stasis in which evolutionary change proceeds at a slow pace, but that at time of ecological crisis then new niches open up, there is much less competition, and thus mutant forms that would otherwise be squeezed out can survive, and moreover, as the ecology has changed it is likely that new life forms will take over.

            There are still many Darwinists who disagree with this and maintain that most evolutionary change is gradual - the two most prominent opponents of Gould probably being Dawkins (one of whose books I recommended earlier) and E.O. Wilson; however the differences of opinion between them are of the same level as those between Linus Torvarlds and Richard Stallman - you wouldn't use the public spats between the latter to suggest that computers are really a big con and everything on screen is the result of the application of the right kind of pixie dust - and equally you shouldn't take legitimate differences of opinion and emphasis between experts in another field to denounce the whole disicipline.

                All evolutionary biologists agree that speciation can occur gradually or in times of swift environmental change, more quickly. What is under discussion is the relative importance of the two.

              Your distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution puzzles me. I have read tens of thousands of  pages of evolutionary texts and can't recolllect ever having come across the distinction. I suspect it is a distinction made by Christian fundamentalists who, being unable to deny that natural selection can be observed in action, claim that the process doesn't apply when the period involved is greater than a few human lifetimes because people haven't lived long enough to witness it.

" In o ther words, if you check the fossil record, and go backward, you start with a horse and get a dumber, slower, weaker ... horse.  We can't seem to trace a horse back to a X-opic-period horse-like thingie that isn't a horse."

              This argument is just plain nonsense. The fossil record for a horse is one of the more complete we have. If the "horse" at the beginning of the fossil record and the horse at the end of the fissil record lived at the same time they would obviously be considered completely different species.

"That's where the term "missing link" comes from - we can't seem to find the generations in-between animal X and Homo Sapiens.  "

              We have a reasonable record of the different types of hominoid between from about 3.5 million BC to the eruption of homo sapiens a hundred thousand years ago. The idea of the "missing link" is unhelpful anyway since it suggests that there are discrete stopping points in evolution. Moreover it reinforces the fallacious idea that modern species have evolved from other modern species. There is no missing link between us and apes. We are apes, and all members of the ape family have a common ancestor six or seven million years back that has long disappeared, and probably, llike most of our own human ancestors, didn't make much of a splash while he was around anyway.

            Two parting thoughts. When Gould and Eldridge talk about evolution happening swiftly, they are talking about swift in evolutionary time, which is 5 million years or more. Bear in mind the number of generatiions you can have in that time, and remembering that the unit of evolution is the individual (the species is merely the by-product) so you must consider all individual members of a species that lived in those five million years, and you begin to see that the idea is not quite so infeasible.

              Secondly the answer the leading biologist J. R. Haldane gave when asked what he had deduced about God from many decades of study of living beings - "an inordinate fondness for beetles!"

sceptick
Monday, December 30, 2002

If the "horse" at the beginning of the fossil record and the horse at the end of the fissil record lived at the same time they would obviously be considered completely different species.
///---End Quote

-- Uh, No they wouldn't.  If they could mate successfully, I call them the same species, and they could.  That's the distinction between macro and micro that I'm talking about.  (Let's not get into Horse's and Donkeys, Ok?  They can mate, but the offspring can not.  I'm sure somone can do some research into what makes a species and post it.)

As for Flash evolution ... I'm confused.  Didn't I pretty much describe the same thing you did with different words?

As for "Original Sources ... Macro/Micro ...Never heard of it ... Blah blah blah" -  I'm going to get blunt here. 

Is a biochemist at Lehigh University credible enough for you?

The process I describe above is listed in detail in book called "Darwin's Black Box" by Micheal Behe.  I believe I have described it satisfactorily.

You can buy it off Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0684834936/qid=1041267986/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-3829423-9530239?v=glance&s=books

Yes, it's written by a theist.  Why would an Athiest argue -FOR the existance of God?  Attacking an idea because it's proposed by the only people who believe in that idea ... that's wierd.  In logic class in college, I learned it was called an "Ad Hominem Arugment" - arguement against the man.  (Logic and Rational Thought by Frank Harrison II.  You can buy IT off amazon http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0314668144/qid=1041268315/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-3829423-9530239?v=glance&s=books)

What makes an Athiest's arguements _against_ God more credible than a theists arguements _for_ God?

Matt H.
Monday, December 30, 2002

"What makes an Athiest's arguements _against_ God more credible than a theists arguements _for_ God? "

I should have said "Less Biased" instead of "More Credible", I think ...

Matt H.
Monday, December 30, 2002

re: darwinism

I wonder how many people contributing to this thread have actually read The Origin of Species? This is a well-written and intelligent volume outlining the core hypothesis of Darwin. I see evidence that Matt and PC have read this volume or are at least familiar with its contents but I am not sure that the others have. Actually, it's rare to find even a couple of people who have read Darwin among a thousand rapid proponents of what is believed to be (but is not) Darwinism.

Darwin was a hard-core gradualist. He explicitly considers and totally rejects using impeccable logic the alternative theory of sudden-change and even mocked its proponents in his day. Darwin also fully expected the fossil record, which was very sparse in his day, to be filled out over the years and provide conclusive evidence of his hypothesis in the form of a wealth of transitional species fossils.

Darwin's not a bad writer. I recommend everyone become familiar with his work.

X. J. Scott
Monday, December 30, 2002

Dear X.J. Scott,
                          The ideas of sudden change that Darwin attacked in "The Origin of Species" are completely different from the ideas of punctuated equilibrium which Matt raised.

                          Darwin was not God and the fact that he only considered gradual change does not per se mean anything.

                            What is under discussion is the rate of evolutionary change. If it becomes clear that the rate of evolutionary change is not constant the central tenets of Darwinism have not changed one jot.

                              Darwinism fully expected the fossil record to be fleshed out. However if as Goiuld suggests at certain stages in evolutionary history there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of evolutionary change (and thie Cambrian explosion as well as the periods after  mass extinctions are  examples of when the speed of evolutionary change can logically be expected to increase) then obviously there would be less transutional fossils around. There are many other practical reasons why the fossil recore will be incomplete anyway.

                              I don't know where you get the idea that Matt and PC have read the Origin of Species; I really can see no evidence for it. What does appear likely is that neither they nor you have read anything written by evolutionists since.

sceptick
Monday, December 30, 2002

What does appear likely is that neither they nor you have read anything written by evolutionists since.
//-------------------//

UM, WHAT?

First you implied the Macro/Micro terms weren't scientific, so I provided Evidence.

You further stipulated that I didn't understand "real" flash evolution, and I pointed out the differences between the two are semantic.  (5 million years _is_ a flash in the scope of eternity.)  Yes, you have a different phrase for it.  I don't feel like typing it, it's pretty long.  Perhaps I'll start cutting/pasting, ok?

Now you're saying that we "Just Don't Get It" - we haven't read anything current, etc.

I'm not 100% sure if this is Straw Man or Red Herring, but it's definately Ad Hominem.  (Pg. 510 &  509 in Logic and Rational Thought by Harrison if you're following along.  Ad Hom is on 506.)

What am I missing here?  I spent the time to learn the issue in some detail.  How many -more- books to I have to read to be "credible"?  Do I have to agree 100% with thier conclusions?  If I do, am I a skeptic?    :-)

regards,

Matt H.
Monday, December 30, 2002


yawn..

runtime
Monday, December 30, 2002

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Why are theists so obsessed with evolution? Even if theists scientifically disprove evolution, that is NOT proof that God or "intelligent design" must therefore be true.

ZM
Monday, December 30, 2002

Dear Matt,
                My connection has been timing out (Act of God?) so you're going to get a mixture of replies to two posts I'm afraid.

Reply to first post.

"yes, it's written by a theist.  Why would an Athiest argue -FOR the existance of God?  Attacking an idea because it's proposed by the only people who believe in that idea ... that's wierd.  In logic class in college, I learned it was called an "Ad Hominem Arugment" - arguement against the man.  (Logic and Rational Thought by Frank Harrison II.  You can buy IT off amazon"

Can you kindly tell me where I suggested that the fact somebody was a theist devalued their arguments?

Can you kinldy find out where I have stated I am an atheist.

"Uh, No they wouldn't.  If they could mate successfully, I call them the same species, and they could. "

Can you kindly tell me how you have the least idea  as to whether individuals millions of years apart are capable of mating or not? Or did you get it direct from God? 

Reply to second post.

              "First you implied the Macro/Micro terms weren't scientific, so I provided Evidence"

                "  I'm going to get blunt here.

Is a biochemist at Lehigh University credible enough for you? "

                Frankly not really! If you had read texts on computer programming by the professors of computer science at Oxford, Imperial London, Harvard and Yale and never come across a term would you accept the authority of  an electrical engineer at a university you have never heard of? He may have a relevant point but it is not mainstream nomenclature.

                Now before I am accused of snobbism, or arguing 'ad hominem" may I say that I reserve judgement on Beehe's book. I have looked at the index and some of the pages on the Amazon site, but I am suspicious that a book which claims to present objections to evolution from the point of view of a biochemist and then proceeds to talk about phonemes and agression and other elements which are hardly within the speciality.

                Anyway it's late, and the sample pages from Amazon are loading slowly so I'll continue this discussion tomorrow.

sceptick
Monday, December 30, 2002

Darwinists do not have any evidence to support their theory. There is plenty of evidence that evolution occurs, and plenty of evidence that natural selection occurs, but no evidence that natural selection is the cause of progressive evolution. Even Darwinists will admit they can't prove the theory. Usually they say it must be true -- otherwise the universe would have to be intelligent and since it obviously isn't, there is no alternative but to accept Darwinism.
Skeptick will have to admit there is no evidence, just the hope that someday there will be. I'm sure his response will be that there is no evidence for intelligent design either. That's true, there is no proof that either is correct. Intelligent design seems a lot more reasonable to most people, but of course that doesn't prove anything.
The accepted "scientific" view (Darwinism) is more or less absurd and defies common sense. I prefer the theory that seems most reasonable. I can't prove it, but it seems right. You can't prove Darwinism, but I guess it seems right to you.

PC
Monday, December 30, 2002

Honest question: How does intelligent design seem reasonable to anyone? It's been years since I read Behe's book, and I'm no specialist in this field, but I seem to remember his his logic ringing hollow.

As I recall he argues, in essence, that various examples of the complexity we observe cannot be explained by the kind of progressive steps that evolution presumes -- that there's a kind of chicken-and-egg problem with things like multiple interacting biochemical pathways, which independently of each other would provide no benefit. Maybe that's true, maybe not, maybe my recollection is way off... but specifics aside, his central thesis is that organisms in one way or another show evidence of *intelligent* design. Behe goes to lengths, as I recall, to assert that ID does not necessarily imply "God" in the usual sense of the word.

However, I can't help but wonder: If evolution or other non-intelligent causes are inadequate to explain us -- and the organisms around us today -- then what mechanism explains the origin of the intelligent designer? If intelligence sufficient to design the organisms on this planet can evolve from natural causes, then surely these same natural causes are sufficient to explain our comparatively paltry level of intelligence, rendering an intelligent designer entirely unnecessary. If, by contrast, an intelligent designer can't evolve from natural causes, isn't that just the same as saying that an intelligent designer == God the traditional sense? (OK, maybe it's a race of sentient aliens who genetically engineered the organisms on earth rather than the Judeo-Christian God -- but still, if we can't hope to explain what material mechanisms enabled them to have this capacity, aren't we once again back to the who-created-the-Creator question that has dogged theology for ages?)

As I see it, ID provides no real answers, only the potential for infinite regress. I would be happy to have someone who understands (and ideally subscribes to) the theory try to explain this...

John C.
Monday, December 30, 2002

Matt (I think): Mentioning Darwin's Black Box reminded me of an article I read shortly after reading DBB: http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-09/design.html. It essentially shows that the ID theory of which Michael Behe is so fond doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

Please keep this in mind when discussing with skeptics: we apply skepticism to all things, not just the ones we don't like. Indeed, skeptics are usually just as skeptical of other skeptics as they are of non-skeptics. (This is aimed at all the non-skeptics here, not just Matt.)

Tim Sullivan
Monday, December 30, 2002

[The accepted "scientific" view (Darwinism) is more or less absurd and defies common sense.]

Um, sorry, this seems somewhat blatently self-serving. How is it that natural selection and evolution makes no sense, but some all-powerful designer who always was and always will be DOES? I question your sense of reality. :-)

I also question your talk of lack of evidence. Show me a source where someone who believes in Darwinism ever said there was no evidence. And I think I'll also point out that there is no evidence that the universe is intelligent.

Here's a quick lesson in science: if you can't come up with reasonable proof, no one will accept it.

Oh, and PC, you've still not answered a single question that I've posed. You've merely stated more opinion and speculation. If you're not interesting in discussion, then let me know, and I'll ignore you. But if you are interested in discussion, how about some give, instead of all take?

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

John,

I believe you are thinking of irreducibly complex systems - systems that stop functioning completely if any one of their parts is removed. Without such complete functioning, the mutations provide no useful advantage so how did they stick around long enough to make it through a chain of mutations is the question. Light detecting systems are given as examples sometimes - the cell is another puzzle in this regard. Interesting also is the wide variety of light detectors in various species -- there are dozens of different ways they seem to have evolved, most quite complex and intriguing. Biochemistry and microbiology are great fun to study in this regard if one likes to study intricate systems that are terribly clever.

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

re: regressing the answer

This is true of all fields. At some point things revert to unprovable and unknowable fundamental assumptions. Take physics for example. The basic law of newtonian gravity is quite simple and generally correct and quite useful for predicting things that you can verify empirically. But what is gravity? gravitons? Gravity waves? Neither? Fluxuations in the ether? Charged sheet displacement? Resonance patterns in superstrings? I don't know. And neither does any one else. But we can still make useful predictions with what we do know.

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

The mistake that many people, like Tim Sullivan, make when directing their skepticism toward the question of God's existence, is that they believe His existence is a matter of empirical confirmation.

It isn't.

God's existence cannot be empirically confirmed.  Even with infinite time and power to travel the universe, you could not travel around the galaxies, and come back to earth and proclaim, "I've found God!" or "I've confirmed that God does not exist!"

The absurdity of that scenario reveals the absurdity of your assumption that this is an empirical question.

Until you abandon this mania for empiricism and materialism, and until you can understand what it means to look for God in your heart, you are missing the point -- and you are not even speaking the same language us Christians.

I suppose that you also believe that love is nothing more than a combination of chemicals coursing through your brain in a pleasant way.

programmer
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

programmer writes> I suppose that you also believe that love is nothing more than a combination of chemicals coursing through your brain in a pleasant way. <

I suspect you intended this as sarcasm... but yes, both based on my layman's personal experience and as someone who studied a fair amount of cognitive psych and neurobiology, I do in fact think that's a fairly apt description of love. I might tweak the wording just slightly -- something like "chemicals coursing through one's brain and body that tend to generate a set of pleasant sensations and encourage bonding behavior" -- but the basic premise sounds about right. Oxytocin in particular is implicated in the sensations and behavior we typically associate with love.

Not that I see what that has to do with God...

John C.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

//-----//
Here's a quick lesson in science: if you can't come up with reasonable proof, no one will accept it.
//-----//

I think the discussion has come to a pretty good point by now:  Darwinian Evolution is a belief system, it can't be proved, but people accept it, because evolution in general is the only thing that could possibly work without a designer.

As for "how can ID Work?" Questions, I suggest you go back to my link on thomas aquinas above. That guy was light years ahead of me.

As for "What makes you think I'm calling theists biased?" - Well, there was something in the post above about how "I've never heard this arguement, must be one of those Christian-Fundamentalist magazine arguments."

As for "How could you possibly know if the fossils would mate?" - I do believe that's what the whole deal over the missing link it, and I do believe that scientists have a way of verifying this.

In college, two of my roomates were biology majors, and I heard this _All_ the time.  I graduated in 1997, so I'm still -relatively- current. :-)

regards,

Matt H.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

[How is it that natural selection and
evolution makes no sense, but some all-powerful designer who always was and always will be DOES?]

You aren't listening! I have said repeatedly that natural selection and evolution obviously do occur, and there is plenty of evidence for both!

I also question your talk of lack of evidence. Show me a source where someone who believes
in Darwinism ever said there was no evidence.

That's what they always forget to mention in science classes. It isn't hard to find that not only is the probability of creation and evolution happening by chance incredibly small, there is no evidence that it can happen. No one has set up and experiment where life is created by chance, or where a new species evolves because of random mutations and natural selection (new variations, but not a new and more complex species).
The Darwinists' excuse is that you need billions of years for the experiment. You can find admissions from them that belief in Darwinism depends on FAITH in materialism!


And I think I'll also point out that there is no evidence that the universe is intelligent.

That's too vague and subjective a claim for scientific research. But I think evidence that the universe is intelligent is everywhere you look.

PC
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Dear programmer,

When you say "The mistake that many people, like Tim Sullivan, make when directing their skepticism toward the question of God's existence, is that they believe His existence is a matter of empirical confirmation."

you're picking on the wrong target. It is not scepticks such as Tim and I who are arguing that there must be an empirical proof of God, but PC, Matt and others. We are merely stating that you cannot empirically prove God's existence, and that the histiry of living forms on earth can be explained without recourse to a deus ex machina.

The argument over the existence of God is ascientific; it cannot be proved or disproved.

We merely want the Christian fundamentalists to stop using bad science to further their beliefs.

sceptick
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

---------------------------------------------------------------
In other words, the Darwinists found out that they were wrong about a HUGE porition of their doctrine, and then proceded to make something else up.]
------------------------------------------------------- MattH

Matt,

I have massive respect for you, but this statement is a bit silly.

Finding things wrong with the theory and then replacing those bits with new bits is how its supposed to work.

Your describing the scientific method in a nutshell.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

" It isn't hard to find that not only is the probability of creation and evolution happening by chance incredibly small, there is no evidence that it can happen. No one has set up and experiment where life is created by chance, or where a new species evolves because of random mutations and natural selection (new variations, but not a new and more complex species)."

Most physicists appear to believe that the present universe came into existence as the result of a big bang that happened about fifteen billion years ago. But, guess what, none of them have ever set up an experiment to duplicate it!

The creation of the first self-replicating individual probably happened by chance, though the question of the origin of life has been sent to the margins of scientific respectablity because of the difficulty of deciding the matter empirically, but I once read that a biochemist reckoned that the odds against  a living form having arisen by chance anywhere in the universe was incredibly small. The trouble is that that is entirely irrelevant; even if the odds against something happening are a thousand to one if it happens the first time, then the other nine hundred and ninety-nine times it wouldn't happen don't matter. And once you have one self-replicating form, then its development and mutation is statistically quite likely, nay almost certain.

You keep on talking about evolution happening "by chance". As you haven't deigned to give us an explanation of what you mean then it is hard for us to answer.

Why you wish a the new species created to be "more complex" is not stated. Speciation occurs because of an almost astronomical number of individuals for evolution to play upon. Even if somebody set up an experiment and produced a completely new species he would be quite incapable of recognizing it.

sceptick
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Skeptick,

You are not really a skeptic. You are only skeptical about what the Christian fundamentalists believe. Forget about them -- they are not scientific, they don't care about logic. It's too easy to prove they're wrong.
You will have a much harder time with scientists like myself. Darwinist materialism is accepted on FAITH, without evidence! Doesn't that bother you at all?

PC
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Dear Matt,
                    "I think the discussion has come to a pretty good point by now:  Darwinian Evolution is a belief system, it can't be proved, but people accept it, because evolution in general is the only thing that could possibly work without a designer."

Darwinism can't be proved; it's just the only thing that works. Good enough proof for me.

I mean Copernican astronomy is also a belief system, and the ony reason people accept it is that it is the only thing that cold possibly work without having the great watchmaker up in the sky designing all those wheels and gears that turn round the seven spheres.

And do please send us links to your illustrated web site on the sexual life of fossils. Scientists do have ways of making informed guesses as to whether species can mate or not (based on differences in DNA which normally differs at a constant rate over time) and periods of six million years are long enough for it to be unlikely that populations can still mate. And what on earth your mating fossils have to do with the missing link I don't know.

"Yes, you have a different phrase for it.  I don't feel like typing it, it's pretty long. "

No Matt, I don't have a different phrase for what you choose to call "flash" evolution - I am merely using the correct technical term, as indeed does Beehe in his index. "Punctuated equilibrium" gives a very clear description of the theory,  - that there are long periods of near stasis when the pace of evolution is gradual, and short bursts when the speed of evolutionary change increases considerably. This is very different from the word "flash" which conveys instantaneity, and was, I suspect, chosen by you just to mislead. If I started talking in this forum about "thingy" programming because "object oriented" was "too long to type and I don't feel like it", I doubt if I would be taken seriously.

sceptick
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

" You will have a much harder time with scientists like myself. Darwinist materialism is accepted on FAITH, without evidence! Doesn't that bother you at all? "

I am glad you consider yourself a scientist. No doubt in this thread you are taking a well-earned break from the intellectual rigour involved.

There are few scientific theories with such an overwhelming body of proof as Darwinism. Time and time again in all life forms one sees it being vindicated.

What you are doing is confusing direct proof with proof. There is no direct proof of the Big Bang; but there is indirect proof, of which the most important is the residual radiation.

I however will freely admit to having faith in the existence of material things; it does stop one banging into the furniture all the time after all.

sceptick
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

[There are few scientific theories with such an overwhelming body of proof as Darwinism.]

There is NONE. You are confusing Darwinism with evolution or natural selection. As I keep repeating -- evolution and natural selection are proven. Darwinism is not only not proven, there is NO evidence for it. I think you will have to go back and read the literature before continuing the debate.

PC
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

"Your distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution puzzles me. I have read tens of thousands of  pages of evolutionary texts and can't recolllect ever having come across the distinction. I suspect it is a distinction made by Christian fundamentalists who, being unable to deny that natural selection can be observed in action, claim that the process doesn't apply when the period involved is greater than a few human lifetimes because people haven't lived long enough to witness it."

This made me laugh.  In OAC biology (~6 years ago - guess that dates me) Ontario, Canada - the curriculum was all based around the difference between micro and macro evolution.  Micro was one unit (Fall term), Macro was another (Winter Term).  This is a public school board, and the text book was very anti-Christian (going so far as to equate a disbelief in Darwinism evolution especially for Macro evolution as similar to those "unsophisticated" scientists who thought that maggots on meat appeared out of thin air).  I don't know what 10,000 pages on Evolution you've read, but apparently your sources are pretty limited if you've never heard of micro/macro evolution.

Incidentally, in the great raging debates going on here - how come no one's brought up the "definitive proof experiments" for micro evolution (also used to be extensively taught in schools) - ie the moths pinned to trees experiment...

Just a thought
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Giving the main list of authors I have read, we have Maynard Smith, Haldane, E.O. Wilson, Gould, Dawkins, Margoulis, Ridley, Jones, and no doubt a few more who have slipped my mind.

It's quite possible that they use the phrase. It was just that the distinction didn't seem to be given any importance. Certainly Matt's claim that micro-evolution was the equivalent of natural selection and macro evolution was something else was new to me.

If macro evolution is being used in the sense of speciation, then I would suggest that the latter term is much more descriptive.

sceptick
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

I've just done a search on "micro + evolution" on Google. All the sites I have clicked on in the first four pages have been Christian sites, except for one that proceeded to go into a discusston on the mathematical possibilty of evolution but forgot to factor in the number of individual living organisms present at any moment in time (which in the case of bacteria or even haemoglobin is mathematically relevant), another discussion board where all those argiung in favour of evolution denied there was any difference between micro and macro evolution and the following marvelous site
http://www.godhatesfundies.com/articles/chick_bd_part1.shtml
where I came across the following quotation.

" Finally, we get to evolution. Creationists enjoy differentiating between "macro-evolution," or evolution involving speciation, and "micro-evolution," which is natural selection contained within a single species. Since micro-evolution is easily demonstrated in a week long experiment with fruit flies, I suppose Creationists have been forced to accept it. The truth, however, is that macro-evolution has also been observed in bacteria, and that it has been indirectly observed in the fossil record. There really is no difference between micro- and macro-evolution; they are part of the same process. "

The Ontario institution you mention does appear to be following a non-standard distinction in the two courses. Also bear in mind that you can often distinguish between two things for purposes if an academic course without accepting there is any difference. A university could have a separate module in human evolution but that would not mean human evolution was distinct in any way from the evolution of the mosquito.

sceptick
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

[how come no one's brought up the "definitive proof experiments" for micro evolution (also used to be extensively taught in schools) - ie the moths pinned to trees experiment...]

That's a perfect example of how confused people are. The moths experiment was evidence for natural selection. How come some peoples' brains get tied in a knot about this? Natural selection is proven. Darwinism is not only not proven, it has no evidence to support it. It is a matter of faith. One example, which I happen to remember, is a statement by Hofstadter, who is a materialist, regarding having to accept reductionism as a matter of faith. I've seen that kind of statement many times.
The moths experiment did not create a new species, or a more intelligent moth. It was simply a demonstration of natural selection, and no one can deny that natural selection is a fact.
Darwin took this farther by claiming that all you need to explain progressive evolution is random mutations plus natural selection. Some Darwinists (I think Gould is one of them) go so far as to say evolution is not progressive, in order to avoid the problem that progressive evolution has never been shown to result from natural selection.
I hope there is at least one person here whose brain isn't tied in a knot by the idea that progressive evolution is not the same thing as variation caused by selection.

PC
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

This has been a very interesting thread to read through.  I just wanted to point out a few things that have come to mind while I was reading...

1) Someone was discussing how complex, inter-related systems could evolve, if each part added no benefit on its own.  However, that statement is not appropriate to Darwinism.  All we need to know is that the individual parts offer no [i]disadvantage[/i].  Variations that offer no significant advantage or disadvantage fit in perfectly with Darwinism, in fact they are the basis for his original experiments.  Let me come up with a modern day example, to show what I mean.  People have evolved to have widely varying skin tones.  This offers no significant evolutionary advantage in modern times.  If sometime in the future, a mutation developed to give dark skinned individuals an advantage (for example, some mutation that took advantage of higher melatonin levels to make the person stronger, smarter, whatever), then humans might evolve to be dark-skinned with that mutation through natural selection.  Thus this complex system of dark skin and other mutation that work together, evolved gradually over time even though the pieces individually offered no advantage

2) PC mentioned that there is clear evidence that natural selection and evolution both happen, but no evidence that the first causes the second.  That is an interesting question, I would have to know a lot more about what experiments have been done to fully judge your claim, but I'm not sure I believe it.  We have seen that natural selection can radically change the behavior of bacteria in an extremely short period of time, if the bacteria are under significant evolutionary pressure (ie, immunities to drugs developing).  I guess the question that I have, is what exactly do you consider the gap to be between natural selection and evolution?  If a species changes its behavior in such a significant way that it is immune to a deadly substance, is that not evolutionary?  We have evidence that humans have changed significantly from our evolutionary ancestors... do you consider this "evolution" or "natural selection"?  I guess I am just not clear on where your distinction lies.  I understand that you are using natural selection in reference to small changes and evolution to refer to larger ones... but where is the dividing line?

3) I think many people believe in Darwin-esque ideas because they see them as a logical extension of phenomenon we can easily observe.  This is, of course, how Darwin came up with his ideas to begin with.  If his theory is not exactly right, it doesn't matter (and nobody would particularly care)... it is the general idea that most people believe in.  So saying Darwinism is disproven because people disagree with him that evolution must happen gradually and steadily is nonsense.

4) As an extension of my previous point... PC mentioned that there is an equal lack of evidence for Darwinism (natural selection causing evolution) as there is for "intelligent development" (in quotes because I can't remember the exact term you used, not meant in a disparaging way).  Even if that is true, which I think some people would disagree with, I think many people would tend to believe in Darwinism because it seems like a logical extension of observable phenomenon.  "If I take this behavior that I know exists, and continue it on a very large scale and over a very long time, it would produce dramatic results."  On the other hand, they probably see the idea of intelligent development as coming out of left field.  It is not related to any observable phenomenon with regards to species developing.  That is not to say it isn't true, but I think many people would be more likely to believe the, in my opinion simpler, explanation that the natural selection process becomes evolution over a large enough scale.  Obviously you disagree with this point, but I just wanted to point out that following Darwinism is not necessarily blind faith... it is a belief that observable phenomenon can be extended to explain larger scale phenomenon (which, I would say, is sort of a basic tenant of much of science).

5) "Not being able to find another explanation" is not support, in my opinion, for either belief.  You don't come to believe something because all of your current alternatives are untrue, but because you have a positive reason to believe it is true (the exception being, of course, when you have a reason to believe you have exhausted all possible alternatives, which I don't think is the case with this discussion).  For all we know, neither theory could be true, or only partially true.  Along this line, I think what Tim was asking was what are your [i]positive[/i] reasons for believing in intelligent development?  Just saying that Darwinism doesn't explain it isn't enough... then you are just buying into "the only known alternative" rather than choosing the theory that you believe is true.

Anyway, I guess I'll quit rambling now.  Thanks for the discussion... it's not too often this topic can come up on messageboards without turning into a flame war

Mike McNertney
Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Dear PC,
                "Darwin took this farther by claiming that all you need to explain progressive evolution is random mutations plus natural selection. Some Darwinists (I think Gould is one of them) go so far as to say evolution is not progressive, in order to avoid the problem that progressive evolution has never been shown to result from natural selection."

                Arguing with you over evolution is like trying to argue the case for space travel with somebody who insists on only using flat earthers terminology. To make things worse the creationist proponents of the micro evolution/macro evolution false dichotomy, and the "progressive evoluition" chimera you have come up with here do not appear to be in the least consistent.

                  Let us take the idea of "progressive evolution". The idea that evolution is "progressive" is a Victorian moral/idealistic accretion to Darwinism and has no scientific backing whatsoever. Progress suggests purpose, development towards some goal, just as regress suggests movement away from that. There is neither "progress" nor "regress" in evolution, just "gress". It is not "some" Darwinists who hold this view; it is a basic tenet accepted by all mainstream evoluionary scientists.

                  What I believe you mean by "progressive" or "macro" evolution is the development of new species. As has been stated above this can be seen in the laboratory in human time in the case of bacteria. It is obviously not practical to ask for a laboratory experiment in the case of more complex life forms because they have a longer life span, and evolution works over many tens of thousands of generations on populations that can be many trillion trillions at any one instant. Even if you could securely set up the experiment you would not be able to identlfy the new species anyway.

                      Your arguments against about materialism being faith are specious. Your belief in the existence of your computer and its electrical power supply is an act of faith (and any Buddhist scholar would be able to tear apart any empirical justification you could give for their existence) but that doesn't mean that the computer programs you write work in the same way as an incantation from the local witch doctor.

sceptick
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Dear Mike,
                  Your first paragraph where you argue against "irreducible complexity" argument, is spot on in theory but the example you have given is unfortunate.

                    Skin colour does have clear evolutionary advantages. Dark skin can result in vitamin D deficiency, and although that is unlikely to be true now even in Scandinavia it must certainly have been a factor in the Ice Age, or periods such as 545-551AD when sunlight was greatly reduced as a result of dust in the atmosphere. Dark skin of course also protects against sunburn and skin cancer and the geographical distrtibution of skin color reflects this. It is interesting that on a scale of 1 to 30 there are only three locations where the darkest colors 28-30 are common, and they are the West African coast, South India and certain islands in the Pacific. In all of them fishing is the main economic activity, and it is only fishermen who are exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

                Another point to be born in mind is that genes often have multiple effects. Thus there can be one change caused by the gene that is beneficial from a natural selection point of view and another which is neutral, or even harmful. However the benifical effect will carry the other along with it. And at certain times it might ocurr that the side-effect suddenly comes into its own.

sceptick
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

[There is neither "progress" nor "regress" in evolution, just "gress". It is not "some" Darwinists who hold this view; it is a basic tenet accepted by all mainstream evoluionary scientists.]

This is an example of bizarre materialist thinking. You have to be a fundamentalist to ignore the obvious in this way. Yes I know that mainstream evolutionary scientists deny that evolution is progressive -- but they are fundamentalists.
Evolution has progressed and nothing could be more obvious.
People who have been indoctrinated into a way of thinking, such as Judeo-Christian creationism, or pseudo-scientific materialism, ignore all evidence and logic that does not support their philosophical perspective.
I am a skeptic, you are a fundamentalist. The need to believe with certainty can be a powerful force. The need to maintain your faith in your teachers and experts over-powers your ability to think objectively.
Evolution is progressive and everyone can see that unless they have been blinded by indoctrination.

PC
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Dear PC,
                Before you mght have been distorting the subject; now you're not even bothering to deal with it.

                Progress is a value laden word; it suggests that one is going from something to something - that there is a goal and a sense of direction; you mignt decide that there is one, just as Hamlet pretended to see shapes in clouds to poke fun at Rosencratz and Guldenstein, and moreover, you might even be right, but however many castles animals or sprites you see is of no interest to the meteorologist or the physicist.

                  There is a tendency for local organizatons to get more complex over time, despite the general slide towards entropy, and it is true that we are marginally more complex than an amoeba, and an amoeba is vastly more complex than a bacterium, but that is all; a more complex being is not intrinsically superior than a less complex one and we no more represent the peak of evolution than the ebola virus does.

sceptick
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

PC - the moths experiment was widely used (and I ran across this in three school boards - Canadian, US and Belgian...) as "proof" for what was termed micro evolution (or natural selection). (And as I mentionned before - the Ontario School Board curriculum also used it.  ) 

Although dog breeding is also a popular example of how micro evolution works, the moths were a better example because they were a good example of "the fittest survive". 

For those of you who have only been reading a limited selection of evolutionary materials, here's the moth theory <g>.  It will be easy to find at any academic library if you'd like the real version and not my paraphrased memory:

Some scientist (London, England ~1800s I think) observed that moths that were speckled were more common than moths that were completely black. This was assumed to be because they blended in better with the lichens that grew on the tree trunks. In the cities, however, where coal was used as primary source, and lichens were not as common (and the tree trunks were black with soot), the black moths blended in better. Another scientist (1950s) did some experiments (the famous moth experiment) and determined that moths were not eaten as often if they were less visible. It was a textbook example of what scientists expected, and had hard numbers to back up natural selection.  (and, not surprisingly was used in biology textbooks all over the place).  There was only one problem.  (and surely, you guys can tell me the problem - since it was headline news a couple of years ago - I think 1999 - and caused a big stir in the academic world). 

If you don't know the sequel to this story, that's an indication that your sources on this topic are a bit limited.  In general, I'd recommend getting your reading material via an academic library or a reputable scientific journal (must do peer reviews), rather than just relying on popular literature.  I also wouldn't recommend just doing a search via google (easy though it is).  How come?  Because 99% of results will be heavily biased, many will be essays written by high school or college kids and you will miss a lot of good material because a great deal of published scientific articles are not available online (at least not freely available).

Anyway, the sequel of the story was that the scientist in question placed the moths on the trees rather than letting them find a more natural position (where they'd be less likely to be eaten). Other scientists, attempting to repeat the experiment actually pinned the moths to the trees or used dead moths.  Furthermore, when the correlations between lichen/pollution/moth colour was examined, it was found that natural selection wasn't the only factor (if it was a factor at all!).  In fact, the whole thing boiled down to an oversimplification of what was going on, coupled with a few unscrupulous scientists who really really wanted to prove their theory.

And that's the problem I have with a lot of the arguments that go back and forth.  Many of the experiments and/or arguments put forward to "support" evolution (of either type) don't really prove anything.  But rather than impartially continuing to investigate the origins of life and how it evolves, many scientists (on both sides) get caught up in the "if evolution is true, God must be false" fallacy and because they desperately want (need?) to prove or disprove God, the whole thing descends into blind belief. 

Dr. Harold Urey (Chemistry Nobel Prize winner) is a good example of this - he said: "All of us who study the origin of life find the more we look into it, the more we feel it is too complex to have evolved anywhere.  We believe as an article of faith that life evolved from dead matter on this planet.  It is just that its complexity is so great that it is hard for us to imagine that it did."  And "believing as an article of faith" is what most evolutionists do, while laughing at creationists for doing the same thing...

Just a thought
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

You made some good points. But I wish you would not contrast evolutionists with creationists. I am an evolutionist, but not a materialist. Darwinism is not the only theory of evolution, and other theories came before and after it.
"Creationism" implies belief the Judeo-Christian creation myth, a story made up by ancient people and not to be taken seriously, in a scientific context, today. It is no more likely to be factual than the creation myths of Australian aborigines, or the ancient Egyptians, or whatever.
I believe in evolution (and don't see how anyone could not believe in it), and in natural selection (and no sane person can deny natural selection because it's one of those things that can't not be true). What I do not believe in is materialism.
Materialism was a cool and novel belief in the late 19th century. Since then science has progressed and we now have many many reasons to discard materialism (I've heard it said that it takes about 100 years for obsolete ideas to be discarded once they have taken hold).
Not believing in materialism does not necessarily mean believing in God. And it certainly does not necessarily mean believing in the Judeo-Christian God.
I believe the universe is mental, that there are dimensions and substances not yet known or understood by science. My personal relationship with God is another subject, and not relevant to a scientific discussion. However my objective and unbiased opinion that the universe is mental has opened my mind to the existence of higher levels of intelligence.

PC
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Dear Just a thought,
                                What you are doing is profoundly dishonest. You are inventing an easliy disprovable claim, falsely attributing it to your opponents, and then trying to discredit alll their ideas because you have refuted the idea they never held in the first place.

                                You are confusing two entirely separate things. The first is the origin of the first self-replication organism from inorganic matter (the origin of life) and the second is the evolution of the descendants of that first organism (evolutionary biology).

                                  If it turned out that the first living life form did not happen as the result of a chance combination of molecules but was actually abandoned on the planet as part of a cosmological reality TV show, the theory of evolution would not be affected one bit.

                                    Evolutionists do not claim that if evolution is true then God doesn't exist. They merely claim that the development of life on this planet does not provide empirical evidence for the existence of intelligent design (in fact that are masses of evidence to go against the idea of design but that is another thing).

                                      As for telling us to subscribe to an academic library and reputable scientific journals and then giving your only example as "another scientist (1950s) did some experiments (the famous moth experiment)" and then the reference for your refutation being "since it was headline news a couple of years ago - I think 1999 - and caused a big stir in the academic world).  " - well pots and kettles and brazen effrontery do spring to mind.

                                    And if you don't think that camouflage is useful then I suggest we could drop you and a few other of your co-religionists off in central Iraq as a special hit squad, dressed in bright orange dayglo suits and a large revolving neon hat with the stars and stripes flashing on it.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, January 01, 2003

What about the success in Natural Selection in mathematical models?

For example, the success of 'evolved' chess players. 

Using nothing but natural selection and random mutation it is possible to evolve a system capable of playing chess to a significant level?

Starting from having no understanding of chess at all, only the outcomes of games, and the system finally manages to play not only by the games complex rules but also win against a decent human opponent.  This seems pretty progressive to me.

Also, the success of Neural Networks in areas where intelligent design has failed: they have succeeded in areas such as speech recognition where the efforts of intelligent human designers failed.  Of course, intelligent human designers built the neural networks.

If, as has been suggested, the human brain is nothing more than a very big neural network then this might be ironical.  The argument is natural selection against intelligence, yet our own intelligence is just an example of natural selection in action.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, January 02, 2003

[If, as has been suggested, the human brain is nothing more than a very big neural network]

It has been suggested, but it isn't true.

PC
Thursday, January 02, 2003

"What you are doing is profoundly dishonest. You are inventing an easliy disprovable claim, falsely attributing it to your opponents, and then trying to discredit alll their ideas because you have refuted the idea they never held in the first place."

Actually, the point I was making was two-fold.  First of all, one of the main debators in this thread claimed that the term micro/macro evolution was limited to creationists (and basically implied Matt made it up).  This is false and easy to disprove by checking many high school biology textbooks.  I could go look up sources - but a) no one else is and b) it is easy to find.

Then I expressed surprise that no-one had brought up the moths experiment yet - because it is a classic. The response to that suggested that the story was not really known, so I told it.  I certainly didn't make up the moths experiment, and while I'm not sure who my "opponents" are in the context of your comment - many people (including myself incidentally) believed the moths experiment as a good example of natural selection in action. 

The point (as I clearly stated at the end) was that so many people are so desperate to prove that evolution and/or natural selection and/or whatever pet theory they have is "true" (and I believe I stated that this goes for both sides...) that they ignore whatever evidence doesn't fit their theory and occasionally fudge results with the RESULT being that both sides eventually come down to blind faith. (Incidentally, you haven't talked to enough self-styled "evolutionists" if you don't think any of them equate proof of evolution with disproof of God)

There's nothing wrong with blind faith, in my opinion, as long as you recognize that you've moved into that realm and you don't push it on others unless they want to know your opinion.    If someone wants to believe in natural selection, as far as I'm concerned, they can go ahead.  But the "scientific evidence" is pretty thin so far, despite quite a lot of research (and money spent) in this area.  That doesn't mean (to me) that natural selection is complete bunk - after all, some of it is common sense.  But as the moths experiment shows, life is part of a pretty complex system, and the theories we've got to describe how it works don't come very close (yet).

And as to my comment about academic libraries, it is my opinion that anyone who has not read about the moths in their study of the history of beliefs on evolution has not really done a thorough background reading on the issues.  It's not exactly obscure.  I'm not claiming to be super evolution guru, but given the way certain participants in this discussion like to present themselves, I think they'd benefit from expanding their background - and their current sources obviously don't cut it.

I personally didn't want to bother looking up sources because a) the experiment is widely known b) I figured that those who really wanted to know would go look it up themselves c) There's only a limited amount of time I can spending on JoS.

But, since you find it easier to accuse me of being dishonest than to look it up yourself - here is some additional information:

The famous experiment took place in 1955 by Bernard Kettlewell, using Biston betularia (peppered moth) in Manchester.  Here's a link to a book summary about the moths (written by one of the more commonly cited commentators on the subject) http://homepages.wmich.edu/~rudged/proposal.html

Just a thought
Thursday, January 02, 2003

A few points:

1) Even if Darwinism ISN'T true, that doesn't provide evidence of ID. It just means that Darwinism isn't the answer.

2) It is not the goal of athiests to prove that God doesn't exist. The goal is to find the truth about what started the universe, and use scientific methods as the tools to find it.

There is no scientific proof of God. There is scientific proof of evolution and natural selection. There is no scientific proof of ID.

So rather than get caught back up in the ID vs Darwinism debate (which I never inteneded to get involved in, anyway!), I'd like to hear evidence of either God or ID. Not theories, but things that lend credence to the theory that God exists, and/or the theory of ID.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, January 02, 2003

[There is no scientific proof of God. There is scientific proof of evolution and natural selection. There is no scientific proof of ID.]

You forgot to mention that there is no scientific proof that natural selection adequately explains evolution. In fact, there is no evidence that it does.

PC
Thursday, January 02, 2003

PC:

That's great. Lovely. Wonderful. And also not the point.

Regardless of whether there is evidence for Darwinism, there is no evidence of God or ID. Lack of another theory isn't evidence.

So basically the onus is on you to provide evidence of God or ID, not on me to provide evidence for the lack of God or ID.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, January 02, 2003

But you can't tell us Darwin's theory is a fact without providing any evidence for it.

PC
Thursday, January 02, 2003

PC: I have _never_ stated once that Darwinism is a fact. Go back and check if you want. Quote me, if you can.

However, this discussion isn't about Darwinism and whether or not it is a fact or a theory that has proof. It has been about whether there is a God (or, as you put it, an intelligent universe).

So, let's dismiss Darwinism and say that it is 100% false (I'm not actually giving up my beliefs here, I'm doing it for the sake of argument).

Question: Given that Darwinism is false, how does this lend evidence to ID or God or anything else?

Answer: It doesn't. There still isn't a God, and there still isn't ID, and the universe sure isn't intelligent, and I'd love to hear you prove me wrong.

If you want to argue Darwinism, that's fine. However be clear: even disproving Darwin doesn't make ID any more likely than, say, Superman.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, January 02, 2003

Tim:

I think you are being dense here.  The onus is on one side to prove their belief, but someone points out that there is no proof for your evolution and you try to brush that off. 

Surely you should have to provide evidence, just as you want your opponents to do?

bbb
Thursday, January 02, 2003

BBB: Actually, I'm not trying to prove evolution at all (and PC isn't trying to disprove it). I never was, and that was never the topic. There is ample proof of evolution available, and I'm more than happy to provide links. [1]

What I AM saying (and this was the original point): There is no proof of the existance of God, or of an intelligent designer. Even if there is no proof of evolution (there is), this would not lend any additional credence to the ID argument. The discussion so far has been about the existance of God, and it got hijacked by a debate about Darwinism specifically, which has little to nothing to do with the subject of the existence of God or ID.

In this case, the burden of proof is on the believer. If you (or anyone else) wants to have a discussion about Evolution (or Darwinism) vs Creationism (or Intellignent Design), that's a whole other topic that I'm more than happy to participate in. However, that isn't the discussion that's happening here (or wasn't, anyway).

[1] A  short proof of Evolution, at http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/essays/courtenay1.htm is a good start.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, January 02, 2003

[There still isn't a God, and there still isn't ID, and the universe sure isn't intelligent, and I'd love to hear you prove me wrong.]

How did you come to know things with such certainty that no one else on earth can possibly know?

PC
Thursday, January 02, 2003

[How did you come to know things with such certainty that no one else on earth can possibly know?]

I didn't come to know them, there is no reason to even SUSPECT them! Starting with a blank slate, I add things that I learned, based on facts and the scientific method. When I don't know something, I don't fill in the blanks with something that sounds possible. Instead, I research it, and leave it blank until something which approaches the truth can fill it in somewhat.

Without evidence that tells me differently, I have no reason to believe in God or ID any more than I should believe in ghosts or purple people eaters. Without evidence, I cannot believe.

Nothing I have ever seen or heard has provided me with any reason to believe in any God. There are other, more plausable explanations that approach the truth of creation than an intelligent universe (which has no evidence at all).

You maintain that there must be something, and you believe it, so firmly, but don't have ANYTHING to back it up. This is something I find very, very curious. Why do you believe it so strongly, without being able to provide a single reason for why? What you have been saying doesn't make any sense to me at all, and you've made no effort to convince me (or anyone else). So please, if you want to debate, how about bringing some knowledge and intelligence to the discussion, instead of speculation and misinformation.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, January 02, 2003

I do not mean to interrupt, however, I feel that you folks are debating the answers to two vastly different questions.  It is my contention that science provides us with answers to "how" type questions.  Religion, on the other hand, is the need to fulfill the "why".

One might be able to explain how man came to be using Darwin's theory of evolution, but, using that same theory, does it provide the answer to why man came to be?  In this respect, I feel that science and religion go hand in hand.

Religion is a system of faith or worship (usually faith towards or worship of a God of some sort).  Science by (one) definition is: "Accumulated and established knowledge, which has been systematized and formulated with reference to the discovery of general truths or the operation of general laws" (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=science).  Therefore, you cannot replace Religion with Science or vice-versa - one is an accumulation of facts, and theories based on those facts in conjunction with prior experience, the other is an acknowledgment and worship of a higher power that is not based on fact but rather something more subjective - faith, belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=faith).

I have believed for a while now that God (or the "higher power" / "divine entity" - whatever floats your boat) is a true master of the world around us (including that beyond earth).  Whether this is a single entity, a group, or even an alternate form of energy or other substance (tangible or intangible) that we might never discover or confirm in this lifetime, the existence of such is undeniable.  Whatever your stand on Religion (practice or not, hate or love), to dispel the existence of a higher power I feel is ignorant and/or naïve.  The world around us is awesome and entirely complex, we know so little.  One could not even comprehend what it means to be a true master of the universe (taken from HE-MAN…jk).  Really though, all joking aside, if you could imagine intricately knowing every molecule, every scientific truth, EVERY metal, fluid, life-form, EVERYTHING - you would too be able to predict and maybe even control what takes place in this system, of which you are the master.  There are two problems with this though: 1) man is very arrogant and does not like to think he is not in control 2) man has never truly experienced what I described and it is therefore, extremely difficult to accept that it is possible.

You can liken it to being a computer programmer: If you create the program and know the variables and what will interact with your program, you could probably predict what the program will do (if your very skilled in the language in which you wrote the program you might be able to predict the outcome in all scenarios that your program encounters).  However, even then there are variables beyond our control.  Now, imagine that this God is a master programmer (but one that is infallible) and he has created this program called "Life" using the language of Science - he wrote an extremely intricate program with some grand variables but he is a master and knows the outcome.

Science is undeniable: it is the language through which Life propagates.  Religion does not disprove science or vise-versa, nor could it.  Our accumulation of facts is just a little insight, an inkling of this grand thing we call life - being man we could never know everything.  How can this prove to be wrong… or right for that matter?  Your religion holds the answers; different religions for different people seeking different answers… the answers that give you comfort.

If you are not religious in one shape or form, that's cool, just don't knock the other +90% of the world that are looking for the "why" and finding it in religion.

Roger Shriner
Thursday, January 02, 2003

[There are other, more plausable explanations that approach the truth of creation than an
intelligent universe]

Actually the explanations that claim living things fell together by chance are not plausible, no matter how many billions of years you give it.
But aside from that, many of us have more than enough evidence that the universe is intelligent. If you don't perceive it yourself, you have to believe what people say. But you don't believe anything unless you experience it for yourself -- how can I provide evidence to a color blind person that there is such a thing as color if they won't take anyone else's experiences seriously?


PC
Thursday, January 02, 2003

[But aside from that, many of us have more than enough evidence that the universe is intelligent.]

Sorry, and what evidence is that?

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, January 02, 2003

Tim,

What evidence is there that the Mona Lisa is superior to a billboard poster.  (The billboard covers a significantly greater area and the photograph can be measured to be a superior representation of the original.  It is clearly visible from a greater distance.  The billboard has much more influence on purchasing decisions.  I think the Billboard will win in any scientific study.  What measure would show the greatness of the art?)

Science should know its place.  Really it should.  So should religion.

Ged Byrne
Friday, January 03, 2003

Rational thinking can easily conclude the so called knowledge of ours is not even 1% of the entire universe. For eg. see how various theories were put forth from Newtonian times about what light is and what the velocity of light is. For anything to be scientific, there has to be repeatabilty but miracles and the like can simply be not repeated and in that itself we find it to be not scientific.

But considering the simple logic of 5 blind people touching different parts of the elephant and each telling things like, well the guy touching the tail feels that, its like an elephant and the guy who feels the the leg thinks that its like a pillar. Only the person who sees in its entirety knows the truth. So with our current inteligence and so called scientific knowledge which is not by itself complete we assume things based on our senses. And our senses can be wrong just like the blind men. Each law or scientific assumption is true till something else that disproves that is discovered. In that itself we can see imperfection which can be characterized as human. Unfortunately to know about the creator we have to keep aside our logical left brain and have faith, in a way blind faith to see and know God. If there is a creator it definitely should not be comprehendable easily by the creation.

Sunish
Friday, January 03, 2003

What about the five blind elephants who all touched different parts of a man? 

They all agreed that men were very flat.

Dunno Wair
Friday, January 03, 2003

[there is a creator it definitely should not be comprehendable easily by the creation.]

This isn't necessarily true. Sure, maybe we know 1% of 1% of what there is to know, but we shouldn't assume that the other 99.99% of the knowledge involves a God, or intelligence or anything at all. We just plain don't know, so we shouldn't make assumptions about what we don't know.

In any case, we're back to the whole "feel" thing, which is frustrating, because I thought we got past that 100 messages ago.

FWIW, assuming that I'm somehow crippled because I can't believe in God or ID seems pretty arrogant to me, and isn't in the least convincing.

Tim Sullivan
Friday, January 03, 2003

We're all individuals and are not exactly alike (although of course we are similar). Our nervous systems differ, probably more than we realize. If you have a more sensitive nervous system, maybe things register that someone with a less sensitive nervous system would not notice.
There are all kinds of things going on, all kinds of waves and forces, and science does not know how our brains may be affected by various things. One person's brain may pick up a lot of things that another person's brain is totally unaffected by.
This is not to say the more sensitive person is superior. Different degrees or kinds of sensitivity are beneficial in different contexts. Sensitivity can be a disadvantage in many areas (I think many insane people have overly sensitive nervous systems causing them to register all kinds of stuff they are better off not knowing).
Now just because a sensitive person perceives vibrations and whatnot that science does not yet understand, does not mean the sensitive person is perceiving God the Creator. However I think we can hypothesize that the sensitive person is perceiving something which is real although not part of the so-called "physical" universe.
I happen to be sensitive and have always had awarenesses that are not restricted to the physical world of the 5 senses. Very large numbers of people have these experiences, it is not rare, people have always been experiencing these kinds of things, in all times and places.
However, large numbers of people do NOT have this kind of sensitivity. That may be why different types of individuals simply cannot convince one another other.
I think that parapsychology, as well as advances in physics and neuroscience, will eventually demonstrate to the skeptics that the sensitive types are not just hallucinating. For example, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR).
Don't believe everything you see in the Skeptic's Dictionary (they have links all over the place and are on a mission to trash all parapsychologists no matter how respectable).
The evidence from parapsychology does not prove God exists, but it does suggest that the world is mental, or made out of information.

PC
Friday, January 03, 2003

[This isn't necessarily true. Sure, maybe we know 1% of 1% of what there is to know, but we shouldn't assume that the other 99.99% of the knowledge involves a God, or intelligence or anything at all. We just plain don't know, so we shouldn't make assumptions about what we don't know.]
May be we shouldn't make assumptions about what we don't know. Changing laws many a time make our assumptions about what we know too to be wrong. So its upto the individual to decide on whether to belive something that changes or that has yet to be proved.

Sunish
Friday, January 03, 2003

Yeh God and Computers!!!

I was a deado-zombie, then I got saved.
Praise Jesus!

Well, Yep Jesus and Computers do they mix?  Sure!

There are two sides to reality, the Physical and the Spiritual.  The Physical being things we can see and touch etc.  Then the spiritual behind the physical.  The dominance, the control and the forces (i.e. things happening) are all originated from the spiritual side.

Proving God is kinda like proving that the Graphical stuff is all controlled by 0's and 1's!

Only experience, prophecy, and reading the manual of life (the bible) can you get the answers!

We were made in the 'image' of God... I kind of associate this with network imaging! 

But human's wanted knowledge, to gain power, to become equal with God!  Knowledge is power, and power without responsibility equals evil.

I consider satan like a hacker (actually there's hacking software called that, and to cancel the affect you have to 'repent' LOL brilliant!).

This may seem fragmented slightly.  I'm just trying to give you some of my revelations, and the middle bits that connect them together... Well, that's for you to explore with Jesus.

1 is everything, 0 is nothing.. What's it gunna be?
Be 1 in Christ!

Tim Crawford
Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Hmph.

A thread so long it reached all the way to the fringe...

Dunno Wair
Wednesday, January 08, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home