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No offense, but ...

WHAT?!?

I mean, what do you mean?

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

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Does that mean it's a joke?

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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Er, OK ...

Hey, Swami. Help clear this up. What are you talking about?

In any case, there obviously IS more to discuss.

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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Er, OK ...

Hey, Swami. Help clear this up. What are you talking about?

In any case, there obviously IS more to discuss.

God swims in the cell, within every strand of DNA, etc.

God is the will, the intelligent force behind all development and morphing of forms over time.

As for motives, who can explain the whims of a Mind that knows no bounds? A lesser example: Chattaway's fascination with the word quasi.

Who can explain it?

So many great minds at Arts & Faith, it is like communing with Shiva Himself.
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Er, OK ...

Hey, Swami. Help clear this up. What are you talking about?

In any case, there obviously IS more to discuss.

God swims in the cell, within every strand of DNA, etc.

God is the will, the intelligent force behind all development and morphing of forms over time.

As for motives, who can explain the whims of a Mind that knows no bounds? A lesser example: Chattaway's fascination with the word quasi.

Who can explain it?

This is different than "Man is made in the image of God?" Or just an elobaration on this Truth?

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This is different than "Man is made in the image of God?" Or just an elobaration on this Truth?

God is Supreme Consciousness. He has the freedom to choose, to create, etc.

He gave you consciousness, and you also have the freedom to choose, to create, etc.

Thus, you are "made in God's image."

A blessing indeed.

So many great minds at Arts & Faith, it is like communing with Shiva Himself.
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Well, I'm lost here.

God is the will, the intelligent force behind all development and morphing of forms over time.

Yes, that's the thinking, if one believes in macroevolution (which I don't; I'm still convinced the evidence is against it.)

This whole train of thought is getting a bit too "Yoda-ish" for me.

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I keep looking at this thread wanting to wade in, but I really don't have time right now. One day I will. Meanwhile, here's a summary of my three-penny-worth of thoughts. These are the headings of a two-part article I wrote for Christianity magazine last year:

  • Not all Bible-believing Christians see things in the same way
  • Evangelicals have not always tended to hold to a six literal day model
  • This issue creates real tensions for some people – especially students
  • Believing in evolution can stop people taking the Bible seriously
  • Believing in a literal six day creation can stop people taking the Bible seriously
  • Science and the Bible have different agendas, and humans aren't perfect
  • There are good reasons for believing in Special Creation
  • There are good reasons for believing in Process Creation
  • Everyone has to live with some tough – maybe unanswerable – questions
  • Controversy means we often miss the main points of Genesis 1–3
You can probably guess from my headings that I got into trouble with all kinds of people over it! :)

I started the article this way:

Writing anything on creation and evolution within these pages feels akin to sticking a sign on my back reading, ‘Kick me!' I'm exposing myself to attack from one side or another – or maybe from every side! What drives me to stick my head above the parapet is a couple of strong convictions. First, I am absolutely convinced that Christians who disagree should be discussing the issues in a loving, gentle, humble way rather than attacking each other. It seems to me that attacking each other is becoming more common as the debate becomes more polarised. My second conviction is that by focusing on controversy, we are missing significant opportunities to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ in a world which desperately needs to hear it.

The sad irony is that despite my plea for disagreement in a 'loving, gentle, humble way' I had some really vitriolic responses - particularly from one side of the debate. Knowing that the debate is way more polarised in the US than in the UK, I could be getting even bigger trouble for myself drawing attention to my thoughts!

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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On a very deep, fundamental level, many Christians just don't get science at all, as if the purpose of science were to speak to the human condition in some philosophical way. It isn't.

True. I believe Indy's words relating to archaeology may apply here: "It's the search for facts, not Truth." That's not to say they aren't in agreement, but they are separate things.

The purpose of science is to measure, theorize about, and attempt to understand natural phenomena on a natural level. It is no more a threat to faith than the study of acoustics is a threat to music theory & aesthetics. Related, but not. One is entirely consumed with measurable natural phenomena and natural theories of such. The other is more abstract, and related to meaning.

Also true. Unfortunately, I think that many scientists are not coming from it at that angle; many have hidden agendas. Many Christian scientists want science to support the Bible, and many atheist scientists want it to support the non-existence of God. Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but allowing it to affect one's scientific views is. The debate over the existence or non-existence of God is a metaphysical endeavour, not, strictly speaking, a scientific one. It's all very well for one to look at the world and say there is a God; but that's a metaphysical conclusion, and so is concluding that there is no God, for whatever reason.

This is where the rubber hits the road, simply because many scientists, Christian and atheist alike, have confused metaphysics with science. It's all very well for ID to say God exists because etc., and it's all very well for atheists to argue that everything could have come about by pure chance. But they should keep the discussion in the realm of metaphysics. I've come to the conclusion that the Bible is basically neutral about scientific matters, and God has left things hidden so we can discover them. That's my thinking, anyway.

So I find it rather irritating when Christians argue against macroev because they think it contradicts the Bible, and when atheists argue for it because their worldview can't survive without it. Of course, you won't catch THEM saying that's the reason for the argument. But it's quite obvious that for the majority, that's the case. I mean, look at all the other big scientific debates in history. When they were completely neutral, things went fine; spontaneous generation and phlogiston were dismissed eventually, and without any huge controversy. OTOH, take heliocentricism vs. geocentricism. Really another neutral issue, but then taken to be a faith-related issue. Huge controversy. Can you draw any parallels? Of course, the situation seems to have been reversed then; those in favour of geo-, which was thought to be more compliant with the Bible, far outnumbered those in favour of helio-. Today, those in favour of macroev, which *seems* to be contradicted by the Bible, far outnumber six-day creationists.

Ultimately, I believe that the whole debate, at least to the level it has reached, is silly. Macroev can be compatible with Christianity, and I'm sure that macroev isn't the only possible theory for an atheist to adhere to. There were atheists before Darwin, after all. The debate should be more neutral; there's plenty of evidence for and against, but unfortunately it gets skewed on both sides in an effort to gain support for the worldview in question.

I believe the fault lies primarily with the Church which somehow seems to think it owns the rights to all truth claims, even for natural, observable things like "the sky is blue."

Heh. "Church". "fault". "with". Heh. It depends, of course, what you mean by "Church".

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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--content deleted--

What branch of science is your wife in?

I really like what you've said Tony . . . Mission Frontiers had an article on this (I may have linked to it already in this thread???) a year or two back, the uncivil disagreement and how it was completely unproductive.

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--content deleted--

Sorry - forgot the link.

On a very deep, fundamental level, many Christians just don't get science at all . . . To be sure, many scientists don't understand religion, nevermind the claims of Christianity, but in my mind, this isn't a chicken-and-egg question. I believe the fault lies primarily with the Church which somehow seems to think it owns the rights to all truth claims, even for natural, observable things like "the sky is blue."

Oh yes!

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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Just to second what Alan said: the typical scientist has plenty of faults, but holding an anti-God agenda is generally not foremost among them. Such claims distract us from the real problems of scientific arrogance and scientific ignorance.

Nice article, Tony. I appreciate the contributions you've been making to this board.

So you ladies and you gentlemen, pull your bloomers on...

-Joe Henry

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Just to second what Alan said: the typical scientist has plenty of faults, but holding an anti-God agenda is generally not foremost among them. Such claims distract us from the real problems of scientific arrogance and scientific ignorance.

Nice article, Tony. I appreciate the contributions you've been making to this board.

You're most kind. ::blushing::

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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I can't think of a single one who jumps out as having had an agenda with regard to denying God, although I'm sure there are a few of them somewhere. (And I also know of several scientist Christians who had no special agenda with regard to introducing God in the lab.)

To be sure. I'm also pretty sure that, if such agendas exist, they will be hidden ones. Nothing against the scientists you've met; I have no doubt you're right about them.

Just to second what Alan said: the typical scientist has plenty of faults, but holding an anti-God agenda is generally not foremost among them.

Well, we can argue for ages about this. I do know that there are a few well-known, very outspoken scientists who do hold a rather anti-God agenda. That's not to say the opinion is foremost, or that it's one that even exists for all atheist scientists. I don't want to start pointing fingers.

Such claims distract us from the real problems of scientific arrogance and scientific ignorance.

I would argue that the problems of scientific arrogance and ignorance, instead of being issues from which we are distracted by the Christian/atheist debate, may very well be rooted in this debate. I think that a lot of scientific arrogance springs from atheistic humanism; likewise, scientific ignorance often comes from the fear that science will contradict the Bible, and hence an unwillingness to have anything to do with science. And if this is the case, we have to get back to the root problem.

My point is that the macroevolution debate has evolved (:D) into something it shouldn't have. In my opinion, macroev doesn't threaten Christianity, and doesn't support atheism. Whether macroev is right or not, the same issues exist on either side of the metaphysical debate; it doesn't tilt the balance in favour of one or the other. The fact is that metaphysics is about logic and philosophy, not science.

EDIT: I just read your article, Tony. Most excellent.

To sum up what I'm trying to say, our metaphysical beliefs shouldn't affect our scientific beliefs. The problems arise when they do; many Christians are guilty of this, and I should think a fair few atheists are too. That's all I'm trying to say.

And read Tony's article, whoever hasn't. He explains things way better than I do.

Edited by Plankton

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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--content deleted--

It's a common problem because people like Dawkins, Gould, Sagan, Atkins, Provine, Blackmore and some others managed to gain very significant public exposure for their unscientific assertions that science will inexorably drive the 'superstitions' of religion away.

To associate anti-God agendas with scientists in general is as unjustified as the assertions from the small number of aggressively atheist scientists.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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Good stuff on your website Tony, thank-you.

Here in Essex, I have just started a new monthly 8 O'clock service dealing with cultural issues, and did 'Science-vs-Religion' on Sunday Evening. The link for the resources is HERE

I confess that even after a huge amount of preparation and caution I was still taken aback by how LITTLE thought some people have ever given the topic, and yet how ready they are to adopt a position.

In general I found explaining the main tenets of a broadly theistic evolutionary theory, afirming that the Bible has four seperate creation accounts, NONE of which were written to be read as 'science', was met with great enthusiasm from the under 40's and over 70's, but there was a group in their 50's who seemed to have been heavily influenced by young-earth creationism.

Anyone else ever come across this kind of age-distribution of ideas (this is the UK I talking about)?

Cheers

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In general I found explaining the main tenets of a broadly theistic evolutionary theory, afirming that the Bible has four seperate creation accounts, NONE of which were written to be read as 'science', was met with great enthusiasm from the under 40's and over 70's, but there was a group in their 50's who seemed to have been heavily influenced by young-earth creationism.

Anyone else ever come across this kind of age-distribution of ideas (this is the UK I talking about)?

Interesting. I've not particularly noticed it, or stopped to consider it. A lot of my speaking on the subject is to student audiences though which affects my perceptions. It certainly seems to me that the very hardline expression of young earth creationism is becoming more prominent and I fear that we will become as starkly polarised as nearly everything I hear on the subject from the States suggests it is over there.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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But it has nothing to do with being scientists. There are theologians who have anti-God agendas, for cryin' out loud, as well as writers, politicians, teachers, homemakers, lawyers, business leaders--you name it.

Well, that's true, but it would seem a little out of place to coment on atheism in any other profession in a thread on Evolution. And I'm not sure if someone with an "anti-God agenda" could rightly be called a theologian (not in the strictest sense, anyway).

So why do you associate anti-God agendas with scientists in some special way?

That's not what I'm TRYING to do... forgive me if that's how it's come across. I'm just saying that some scientists allow their metaphysical beliefs to bias their scientific views. And NOT JUST ATHEISTS. There are probably more Christians guilty of this. But we can't put all the blame on Christians.

It's a common problem because people like Dawkins, Gould, Sagan, Atkins, Provine, Blackmore and some others managed to gain very significant public exposure for their unscientific assertions that science will inexorably drive the 'superstitions' of religion away.

Yes, I was thinking of a couple of those guys, but I don't want to stereotype.

To associate anti-God agendas with scientists in general is as unjustified as the assertions from the small number of aggressively atheist scientists.

Right, and I'm not trying to do that. I highly doubt that the majority of scientists hold anti-God agendas, or are even atheists. My point is not that scientists hold hidden anti-God agendas; there are a few who do, no doubt, but my point is that

our metaphysical beliefs shouldn't affect our scientific beliefs. The problems arise when they do; many Christians are guilty of this, and I should think a fair few atheists are too. That's all I'm trying to say.

I mean, ID has a great deal many problems, but the reaction from the scientific community (at least, the part of it that gets the most publicity) has been hardly commendable; rather than provide us with intelligent critiques, they make gross generalizations are, claiming that IDers are trying to push "religion" on us, and generally mock ID. I don't think this is the way to respond; it just doesn't get us anywhere. And to be sure, not all scientists, probably even most, aren't guilty of this. But those that are get a great deal of publicity, and most of them do seem to be coming from an atheistic perspective, as they choose to target and mock the idea that God can co-exist with science.

ONCE AGAIN, most scientists are probably not guilty of this; I definitely don't want to stereotype. Many scientists opposed to ID are theists, I know, possibly the majority. But those few who are guilty are deserving of reproof; it doesn't do to overlook this simply because the Christians at fault outnumber the atheists at fault. There's plenty of blame to go around.

Edited by Plankton

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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I mean, ID has a great deal many problems, but the reaction from the scientific community (at least, the part of it that gets the most publicity) has been hardly commendable; rather than provide us with intelligent critiques, they make gross generalizations are, claiming that IDers are trying to push "religion" on us, and generally mock ID. I don't think this is the way to respond; it just doesn't get us anywhere. And to be sure, not all scientists, probably even most, aren't guilty of this. But those that are get a great deal of publicity, and most of them do seem to be coming from an atheistic perspective, as they choose to target and mock the idea that God can co-exist with science.

ONCE AGAIN, most scientists are probably not guilty of this; I definitely don't want to stereotype. Many scientists opposed to ID are theists, I know, possibly the majority. But those few who are guilty are deserving of reproof; it doesn't do to overlook this simply because the Christians at fault outnumber the atheists at fault. There's plenty of blame to go around.

You're quite right. I share your frustration at ideologically-driven knee jerk reactions against stuff that doesn't fit with our working assumptions or theories (in every field, not just science).

There are two difficulties with responses to challenging views.

One is that many scientists are just so busy that they don't have time to give a reasoned response. They haven't got the time to engage fully with the issues so a knee-jerk is a kind of defence mechanism against having their world turned upside down. That doesn't excuse it, but it's not always intended to be unthinkingly dismissive.

Second, there is always a huge commitment to, and investment in, the prevailing paradigms (remember that Thomas Kuhn's paradigm shift was all about changes in science, but has been found useful in other fields so that paradigm is verging on being a completely devalued word). Paradigms can - do - make certain ways of thinking inconceivable for its most committed adherents (like Peter Berger's plausibility structures).

Neither of these reasons mean that the position is justified, but I think it's helpful to understand what the motivation might be. Only a carefully argued debate will clarify the truth (or at least legitimacy) of the various claims and help to overturn the prevailing paradigm if necessary, or to bolster it if appropriate.

One of my problems with the ID debate is that a significant number of its propenents seem to be philosophers rather than scientists. And given that most scientists are not philosophers, there's a fair bit of talking past one another.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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You're quite right. I share your frustration at ideologically-driven knee jerk reactions against stuff that doesn't fit with our working assumptions or theories (in every field, not just science).

Yes! You agree! :D

Neither of these reasons mean that the position is justified, but I think it's helpful to understand what the motivation might be. Only a carefully argued debate will clarify the truth (or at least legitimacy) of the various claims and help to overturn the prevailing paradigm if necessary, or to bolster it if appropriate.

Good point. I'm relatively new to the scientific views I hold (check the date of when I conceded to a non-literalist reading of Genesis, earlier in this thread), so I'm still wrestling with a lot of this stuff.

One of my problems with the ID debate is that a significant number of its propenents seem to be philosophers rather than scientists. And given that most scientists are not philosophers, there's a fair bit of talking past one another.

Yes, that would explain some of the confusion. The difficulty seems to come in separating science and philosophy, or the "how" (evolution, on some level) and the "why" (God or pure chance?).

I'm starting to suspect that the many problems I find with macroevolution aren't enough to disqualify the theory; many of the arguments against it that I encounter are working with the idea that macroev needs an atheistic or deistic worldview to survive. At this point, I'd concede that SOME form of macroevolution probably occurred, but that we haven't figured out most of the "bugs" (and quite likely, we never will).

My name is Darth Vader. I come from the planet Vulcan.

- Back to the Future

To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And at the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some other things I can't remember; all rolled into one big "thing." This is truth, to me.

- Jack Handey

The Moviegeist

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I too appreciate the mention of Kuhn, and I also appreciate the courteous, open-minded tenor of the discussion that's been going on. I hope I don't ruin it. :)

One is that many scientists are just so busy that they don't have time to give a reasoned response. They haven't got the time to engage fully with the issues so a knee-jerk is a kind of defence mechanism against having their world turned upside down.

I agree that scientists are probably busy people who are sick of talking about this, but I don't see it as a defense mechanism against "having their world turned upside down."

I like to picture myself in the scientist's shoes. If I, as a student of history, kept getting confronted by the media or the public with a "new" theory that attacked some principle central to the way I study history, like, I dunno, that people in different time periods saw thing differently than we do, and I had to spend all my time debunking this theory and defending my way of doing history, and was repeatedly told that I must be either ignorant or have some dark ulterior motive to reject their theory... hey, I'd be irritable and dismissive too.

Upon further thought, I also think there are plenty of scientists who would love to turn the scientific world upside down. Who doesn't want to make an exciting new discovery? Who wants to say "OMG, the Establishment has had it completely right for the past century and a half"? Nobody's going to make a name for themselves that way. Look at the fame that exploded around Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge, just for presenting what was a slight tweaking of the theory of evolution--can you imagine the prestige that would await the person who came up with a new theory that replaced evolution altogether? That person would be launched into a category with Newton, Einstein, and (formerly *g* ) Darwin. Yet despite it being such an obvious target, hardly any scientists have launched an inquiry against Evolution-- that says something to me.

BTW, I've been thinking, and I think at the heart of my irritation with a lot of creationist arguments (at least the ones made by lay people, which is most of them) is their implicit "we understand this subject better than any of the people who actually do this for a living" attitude-- which is a slap in the face not just to scientists, but to anyone who dedicates their life to studying a subject they love. I think that is the real reason for the brusqueness from most scientists.

Which is not to say that scientists are always right or that we non-scientists should trust them blindly, especially on non-science matters, but I should certainly hope to God that spending years studying and researching a field gives you some greater insight into that field than the average joe on the street has. Otherwise, I might as well call off my education altogether and go live in a van down by the river. :)

Kent Brockman: Now, here are the results from our phone-in poll. 95% of the people think Homer Simpson is guilty. Of course, this is just a television poll, which is not legally binding. Unless Proposition 304 passes, and we all pray it will.

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