April 11, 2007

Pope Pretty Much Admits He Is An Agnostic


All you have to do is read between the lines in the new German book, Schoepfung und Evolution (Creation and Evolution), and it is pretty evident that Pope Benedict is an agnostic who is trying to keep his sham religion alive (all religions are shams, but some are shammier than others).

First off, the Pope stayed clear of the ID "argument" altogether, which is a pretty clear admission that knows Behe and Dumbski are full of garbage, and he also stayed clear of creationist crapola too.

Lets look at the quotes shall we:

"Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights.....science has narrowed the way life's origins are understood and Christians should take a broader approach to the question."

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What you really are saying that science has disproved the idea of a young earth and creationism, and the only way to keep the Catholic church alive in light of scientific fact is to come up with new bullshit reasons for why God would have done things the way he did it.

"the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory....We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory."

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Notice the word "completely"? Yes, scientists know that it is impossible to do millions of years of evolution in a lab. And yes, many people will say that unless they see something for themselves it can't be "completely" provable. But what you the Pope, does admit, is that the earth is much older than 10,000 years. And that your only defense against evolution is that fact it takes too damn long for species changes to occur. Popey, you are admitting that evolution is fact, in other words.

"But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory."
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Well duh. There is no such thing as a scientifically proven theory. You are trying to pull a fast one here, in order to keep the Catholics, who would think about changing religions, if you admitted to being an agnostic evolutionist.

"The question is not to either make a decision for a creationism that fundamentally excludes science, or for an evolutionary theory that covers over its own gaps and does not want to see the questions that reach beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science."

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Yep, the old theistic evolution argument. I like it much better than the YEC argument. Actually, I like it a lot better. But see, here is the thing. You realize that scientific theory is based on observable facts. But you have to come up a reason to keep the flock together by trying to invent a big picture, that you have no proof of, or no evidence of. This makes you agnostic. An agnostic is someone who deep down hopes there is a God, knowing full well there is no evidence of one. They hope that there is a bigger picture and a guiding hand, but really know that there isn't. As gaps become less and less, more agnostics have the courage to state they are atheist. I doubt you will admit you are an Atheist, Benedict. You are too old to change your agnostic ways.

"I find it important to underline that the theory of evolution implies questions that must be assigned to philosophy and which themselves lead beyond the realms of science."

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Well actually the theory of evolution doesn't have to imply philosophical questions, unless you are hoping for something that almost for sure isn't there. Without philosophical questions about evolution, you have no reason to keep up the charade of Catholicism, right Popey?

"The process (evolution) itself is rational despite the mistakes and confusion as it goes through a narrow corridor choosing a few positive mutations and using low probability.....This ... inevitably leads to a question that goes beyond science ... where did this rationality come from?..... it came from the creative reason of God."

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So evolution is confusing because scientist don't ask why it is happening philosophically? I got you Popey, nudge nudge wink wink. It is about time you threw in the word "God." I was starting to worry about you forgetting about what your job is. Like I said, without making evolution (which you seem to embrace as 100% fact) philosophical, you got zero, and you might as well turn the Vatican into a Mosque, because Muslims aren't as enlightened as you are.

"Just who is this nature or evolution as (an active) subject? It doesn't exist at all!....evolution has a rationality that the theory of purely random selection could not explain."

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Are you now saying evolution and nature are God? Isn't that just renaming evolution and nature? You are starting to sound like a Buddhist now.
C'mon Popey, don't start pretending you don't know what evolution and that it is a lot more than purely random selection. I can see right through you. You are worried, as you should be that Catholics start leaving your church and become Muslims or Evangelist Christians, science forbid. Actually, I have respect for that, you are trying to help out mankind by not admitting your true beliefs, and creating more ass backward Fundies.

Hey Popey, how come no mention of Jesus? You must be reading my blog, and have concluded that the dude never existed.

I might as well add this video that AngloAmerican posted in my comments since it fits with the Catholic theme. Most atheists probably have seen this already. I saw it yesterday for the first time:

55 comments:

  1. Hey, Pigeater,

    Ever hear of the celebrated English Atheist and Philosopher Antony Flew???

    http://www.bible.ca/tracks/converted-to-creation-antony-flew-former-atheist.htm

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

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  2. Of course I have. An 80 something year old man, who now considers God is a "possibility."
    He also realizes the earth is ancient and evolution is fact.

    But thanks for playing.

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  3. The world's in a sad state when the Pope looks reasonable by comparison.

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  4. Hey, kumquat - how'd the Special Olympics go? Everyone gets a medal in those, don't they?
    Ever hear of the celebrated English Atheist and Philosopher Antony Flew???
    Sheesh, 1 guy changes his mind, we all might as well toss in our atheist badges?
    Ever hear of Dan Barker, former fundamentalist preacher turned atheist?
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    Ever hear of Robert M. Price, former professor of theology, now an atheist?
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    Ever hear of Meslier, Catholic priest (lifer), on whose death, an entire book he'd written was about ATHEISM & how it was better than religion?
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    For every stupid fact you burble up, I can match w/about 100 contrary ones.
    Now go run for your medal.

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  5. Hey KA you can’t make fun of the Special Olympics. I thought you were more sensitive than that ;-)

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  6. "the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory....We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory."

    - I inititally agreed with you on this quote, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the pope isn't really admitting that earth is over 6,000 years old. Seems to me that is simply speaking in terms of what the theory of evolution claims and suggesting how the theory has problems being tested.

    "Science has opened up large dimensions of reason ... and thus brought us new insights.....science has narrowed the way life's origins are understood and Christians should take a broader approach to the question."

    This quote took me by surprise. Never thought I'd here a pope say that.

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  7. The catholic church has tried to have it both ways when it comes to the creation/evolution debate. Basically to be a catholic, you don't have to believe in the literalness of the bible - not like most fundie protestants do.

    It is quite common for a catholic to accept evolution but to assume through their faith that "god done it."

    For example: Miller who spoke so well at the Dover Trial and presented evidence for the fusion of a chimpanzee chromosome with a human one, considers himself a catholic and he has no problem at all in accepting evolution.

    This doesn't make catholicism the major threat towards scientific enquiry. Fundamental prostestanism is. You know, the kind that literally believes that gawd made the earth in 6 days, 6 thousand years ago.

    It certainly doesn't get catholicism off the hook as their approach to many of life's problems is terrible. The denial of the use of condoms is just one of their terrible actions.

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  8. Thank you beaj. Great post. One the rationality feature in evolution, there are a few queries which I will address as soon as I find the time. Until then, I just wanted to congratulate you on highlighting this rather amusing approach the Pope seems to be taking.

    Thank you for reading.

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  9. "the Darwinist theory of evolution is not completely provable because mutations over hundreds of thousands of years cannot be reproduced in a laboratory....We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory."

    It's a shame that he can't prove his god to the same degree that he wants science to be able to 'prove' things.

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  10. Krystalline apostate, you're a champion.

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  11. Kyle, by reading the entire article, it is pretty clear that he has no problem with an ancient earth, and that he realizes evolution is fact. He didn't even bring in arguments for young earth creation or ID. Don't forget, he is pretty much a politician, and he can't afford to offend much of his flock. Here is an interview of Jimmy Carter (who is a theistic evolutionist):

    Why are so many Americans suspicious of evolution?

    Carter: Some people cannot accept that any word in the Scripture could possibly be mistaken. Some, including some in my own church whom I teach every Sunday, have a very devout belief that the world was created by God in 4004 B.C. in maybe six calendar days. I never had any problem accepting the fact that the Earth is billions of years old and that it revolves around the sun rather than the other way around, but I don’t see a need to argue with my church members about it.

    One of the significant breaks between fundamentalists and scientists seems to be the notion that human beings and apes evolved from a common ancestor.

    Carter: There is an aversion on the part of proud human beings to attribute our origins to what we consider a lower animal. I think that it is a matter of lessening the assessment of God-like attributes to a human being — that I am a little less than an angel.

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  12. I don't think you have the first clue about what the Pope thinks. If you are driven to believe the pope is insincere, despite all evidence to the contrary, there's nothing that can be done.

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  13. BEAJ:

    So Popey is getting with the program, huh? Nothing new really: the Cafflick Church has embraced a lot of modern science but they tend to do it quietly. And so the flock remains in the dark. Obscurantism, anyone?

    "An agnostic is someone who deep down hopes there is a God, knowing full well there is no evidence of one."

    Sorry, BEAJ, but that's BS. Most agnostics simply accept that the question "God exists/God doesn't exist" cannot be solved, in a similar way that most scientific can only be proven up to a certain point and that absolute certainty doesn't exist.

    And if God did exists then he's clearly of the non-interventionist (Platonic) type and doesn't give a rat's arse about me. Same here...

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  14. Suzanne, the Pope could not say science is wrong in their findings, he is a political figure, whether you like it or not though, and he has to guard what he says. I am being tongue in cheek about the agnosticism.

    Gert, same goes with my definition of agnostics. I know it what it really means.

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  15. Agnostics are a bit funny about the God question. For instance they don't profess agnosticism when it comes to Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. It's as if they give equal weight to both sides of the argument.

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  16. AA:
    Hey KA you can’t make fun of the Special Olympics. I thought you were more sensitive than that
    Yeah, right on both counts. Apologies to those I may have offended.

    We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory."
    Apparently never heard of fruit flies.

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  17. I don't like your blog very much. Actually, I don't like a lot of the atheist blogs.

    You want me to believe that belief in God is childish and absurd. Maybe I could agree with you that a certain kind of belief in God is childish, but there are so many smart theists out there. I refuse to believe that every theist in history was actually a deluded nut. It just doesn't make sense to me that so many smart people over the years were simply being ridiculous.

    Now, though the stats are contested, even if most top scientists today didn't believe in God I would still be unmoved. You don't have to be a scientist to be a brilliant thinker. What about the philosophers who believe? And there still are top scientists who believe.

    As for "reading between the lines" of the Pope's speech, I don't see your point. A mature theism admits readily that their belief doesn't have evidence. If you want to be honestly skeptical, we should be agnostic about the existence of everything. But all of this is besides the point (and I shouldn't chew off more than I can handle--I haven't read enough philosophy of science or religion to present the arguments). But while you see the Pope's speech and accuse him of being agnostic, I see him and say that there must be a more mature type of belief in God than the one the atheist bloggers constantly present here.

    If you are oversimplifying for the sake of winning people over to your beliefs (ends justifying the means) than I think that you are being dishonest.

    There are plenty of smart atheists and smart theists. The best explanation I have for this is that both positions make some sense. But instead you want me to believe that one side is delusional? I refuse to believe that.

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  18. Michael, either there is a God or there isn't. That simple. One side is either right or wrong.
    Since you admit there is no evidence God exists, why do you need to live your life as if one exists?
    Why do you believe in God?

    I realize some very smart people believe in God. It doesn't mean they aren't deluded in this way. It has nothing to do with intelligence, except the more intelligent the person is, the more likely they are to be an agnostic or atheist.

    We are hardwired to be susceptible to belief in the supernatural. That is why we accept the early brainwashing so readily. And I realize it is hard to shake yourself away from it. Most people can't.

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  19. Michael, as a smart (test-defined) former theist I would not consider myself as having been a deluded nut. I was misinformed and uninformed about a lot of the nature of the universe. Once I corrected that defect, I realized that the Christian god was a man-made fiction, and furthermore, most likely any idea people have about god is suspect. When you think about it, where are we getting this information about a purported creator? Someone is just - that's right - making it up. Revelation is not a reliable source of information.

    Moreover, the evidence, considered impartially, does not support the existence of any kind of omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent god. Theists who have emotional or psychological reasons to avoid rejecting god (bluntly, the universe is too damned cold and scary without a paternal/maternal figure who is watching over you) can avoid coming to this conclusion but only by means of some very convoluted reasoning.

    The number of people who believe or have believed in anything is really irrelevant. At one time, virtually everyone believed in demons. Now most people do not. Times change and science gives us a better understanding of the universe. Notice how theology never seems to do that?

    BEAJ, what I don't understand is why Catholicism doesn't disappear at this point. No literal Adam and Eve = No original sin = no need for Jesus' redemption of mankind, right? Or is it all just metaphorical? (eyeroll)

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  20. Well, I'm unmoved by your response. All you did was to assert that the many smart, thoughtful people who believe in God are delusional. But how am I, the fool, supposed to decide who is delusional and who is not? I must admit humility. I must admit that if so many deep thinkers (who aren't so delusional, normally) accept a God, then there must be something to it. So I will throw myself into their works, and try to understand their more mature belief.

    I'm not defending theism over atheism. All that I'm saying is that you must be oversimplifying a very complicated issue. And if you are, that's dishonest.

    While some of the most intelligent people in the world must be wrong (since God either does or doesn't exist), my point is that you should show more humility in the face of others. Even if they're wrong, they must have a reasonable reason for thinking what they do.

    My bet is that the great religious philosophers, who spent time thinking about their belief, didn't overlook the insights of a part time blogger. My bet is what they write probably isn't ridiculous. It's probably a pretty reasonable position, I bet, since the people thinking about it are pretty reasonable.

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  21. "The number of people who believe or have believed in anything is really irrelevant. At one time, virtually everyone believed in demons."

    Right. So I would argue that during those times, if lots of really smart people believed in demons, it was probably a pretty reasonable thing to think. Sure, years later you can look back and laugh at them. And maybe years from now people will laugh at theists. But for now, even having seen the evidence, there are still religious philosophers and scientists. So I think that it's probably pretty reasonable, or at least more complicated then a blogger might make it seem.

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  22. Sacred Slut, I think the theistic evolutionist theists have made new rules. Like Adam and Eve were the first evolved human couple, and thus original sin occurred then. and Jesus still came, and the Jews killed him, but they aren't allowed to say this anymore, and he then resurrected because there is the overwhelming proof of an empty cave, though they don't know which empty cave he rose from.

    Dr. Ken Miller, the dude who defeated ID in Dover, is a Catholic............try figuring that one out.

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  23. Michael, when I say delusional, I don't mean they are crazy when it comes to most of their decision makings, just that they are not being totally honest with themselves or choose to hold on to irrational beliefs.

    And again, it really isn't anyones fault that they continue to believe in God, because we are hardwired to be susceptible to the brainwashing we get early in life, and we also are hardwired to try to rationalize our mortality due to our awareness as human beings. 2000 years ago, man must have thought lightning was caused by God, since no other explanation was available to them at the time....it had to be something, right?


    Again, I ask you, why do you believe in God when you admit there is no evidence for a God?

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  24. >Again, I ask you, why do you believe in God when you admit there is no evidence for a God?

    I am purposely avoiding this question because it is besides my point. (As an aside, I personally enjoy the works of Jonathan Sacks and Alvin Plantinga. But this is completely besides the point).

    >just that they are not being totally honest with themselves or choose to hold on to irrational beliefs.

    I think that you have too much confidence in your own abilities. I have no problem with you being an atheist--that's fine, I guess. But to stare in the eyes of great intellectuals--all the physicists, philosophers, poets, mathematicians, bloggers--and say that they just aren't "being totally honest with themselves" seems a bit insane. Have a bit of humility in the face of so much of the world. Then quietly assert your own opinion, or celebrate your own philosophy.

    In philosophy there is something that they call the "principle of charity." You assume that smart people wouldn't say ridiculous things. I think that this makes a lot of sense.

    Here is my application of the principle of charity: I think that you really know that your blog posts oversimplify a complicated issue. But I would posit that you think that most people can't deal with the muddy middle grounds, so you must present your side with force and bombast.

    I don't mean any of this in a mean way. It's just that I find your blog isn't sensitive to how complicated the issues really are.

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  25. Michael, the fact that you are avoiding my question reinforces my assertion that believers aren't totally honest with themselves and others.

    As far as 'principle of charity' goes; should I give the same charity to someone who believes the earth is flat, or that the earth is young and evolution is bogus? All three of those points are wrong, and if someone puts it out there in a public forum, they will get thrashed by someone like me. I'm kinder and gentler to theistic evolutionists though and I find them a lot less delusional in their beliefs.

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  26. >Michael, the fact that you are avoiding my question reinforces my assertion that believers aren't totally honest with themselves and others.

    That's a dishonest appraisal of what happened. I said that I was purposely avoiding the question because it had nothing to do with the point I was making. Then I proceeded to reference two authors whose views I basically agree with. I figured that this would be more fruitful then the impossible, which is summarizing a book in a blog comment.

    >As far as 'principle of charity' goes; should I give the same charity to someone who believes the earth is flat, or that the earth is young and evolution is bogus?

    Well, let's stick to "the earth is flat" because that's something that can be directly contradicted by visual perception. I don't know any great scholars or thinkers who show themselves to be extremely intelligent and open to skepticism and rationality who believe that the earth is flat. So I have no reason to think that the claim is reasonable.

    Again, you're entitled to your opinion, because there are highly intelligent thinkers on both sides. But the atheist bloggers in general need to stop patting themselves on the back for being so damned reasonable and find a little bit of humility.

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  27. michael:
    But to stare in the eyes of great intellectuals--all the physicists, philosophers, poets, mathematicians, bloggers--and say that they just aren't "being totally honest with themselves" seems a bit insane.
    Personally, I think it's a bit nuts to try to put people up on a pedestal, & ignore their warts.
    Here's some brilliant folks (I got this from here) that have some pretty wacky ideas.
    "You can find crackpots in just about anything on university faculties. Alien abductions? John E. Mack, Harvard. Bigfoot? Grover Krantz, Washington State University. Life after death? Gary Schwartz, University of Arizona."
    Add Fred Hoyle, panspermiast.
    They're just people, & everyone's got some weird ass ideas.
    Just because someone has some laughable belief, doesn't make them idiots.
    But brilliance doesn't make it that belief any less laughable.
    In philosophy there is something that they call the "principle of charity." You assume that smart people wouldn't say ridiculous things. I think that this makes a lot of sense.
    You realize that it's not impossible for people to hold 2 mutually exclusive views?
    How's that old saw go? "Fine line between genius & madness."
    I think you're over-romanticizing things a bit here.

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  28. Michael, flat earthers are the same as anti-evolutionists and those who believe the earth is young. They deny scientific evidence to keep their delusional world views alive.

    At least with theistic evolutionists, they are merely adding something to the empirical evidence, they aren't subtracting anything.

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  29. krys:

    >Personally, I think it's a bit nuts to try to put people up on a pedestal, & ignore their warts.

    I think there's a difference between one individual and a lot of people. There's a good reason why it's only one guys/very few guys who believes in aliens. But belief in God is entirely different. It's an issue that has been around for a really really long time, and we have seen so many great people who believe in God. That's what should make you wonder if things are a bit more complicated than they seem to you.

    BEAJ:

    >Michael, flat earthers are the same as anti-evolutionists and those who believe the earth is young. They deny scientific evidence to keep their delusional world views alive.

    Fine, I don't really care. I just didn't want to use an example where you have to deduce a theory from the sensory perception. But whatever.

    Does the fact that you haven't responded to any of my arguments mean that you agree that your approach is probably unfair?

    Right or wrong, belief in God is a whole lot more nuanced then you make it.

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  30. Michael, I have responded to you.
    The thing is that most atheists I know including myself, used to believe. We realized how irrational are beliefs were and have come to terms with it.
    Back to the demons example, 90% plus of the worlds population used to believe the sun revolved around the earth. For those who knew the sun didn't revolve around the earth, there was no reason to take even the most educated scholar seriously when they spewed their beliefs about the earth being the center of the solar system and even the universe.

    When it comes to God, since you can't even show a shred of evidence that he exists or has ever existed, it is pointless for you to try to convince me otherwise or even try to stop me from calling theists delusional. Delusional is all about making something up that doesn't exist or that they can't prove exists.

    I'll shut up when all the religious folk shut up in the blogosphere and on TV, about God. How is that?

    The idea of God is not a complicated issue at all once you become an atheist.

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  31. Good grief, BEAJ, you're pulling in some real weirdo commenters these days, aren't you? Anyway, I just wanted to make a couple of points. First, in response to the silly kuhnkat, I'd like to point out that the full story about Flew's temporary bamboozling by a bunch of creationists can he found in my blog, here. It's a pretty pathetic tale. Secondly, I'd take issue with your sweeping generalization about agnostics. I know several folks who are operationally atheists - they live their lives as if there wasn't a god - but are epistemically agnostic - they believe that the question of god's existence is intrinsically undecidable. (Obviously this means that they've chosen a particular kind of god not to believe in.) Of course this small band of principled agnostics are swamped by the vast numbers of people who think that agnosticism is the same as doubt - it isn't.

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  32. Hey BEAJ,
    Actually, the Catholic Church hasn't been anti-science in ages. Pope Benedict's words really aren't anything earth-shaking at all--they're simply noted in the media now because the evolution/creation debate is so intense in recent years (God only knows why, though--and no pun intended). ;-)

    "Beepbeepitsme" put it in the words of a skeptic, but he/she is correct. It's the Protestant fundamentalists (but definitely NOT ALL Protestants!) who are on the anti-evolution kick.

    "Sacred Slut" said:
    BEAJ, what I don't understand is why Catholicism doesn't disappear at this point. No literal Adam and Eve = No original sin = no need for Jesus' redemption of mankind, right? Or is it all just metaphorical? (eyeroll)

    SS, why do you even care if people choose to believe in God or belong to the Catholic Church? I certainly don't care if you choose not to. Furthermore, your assumption that all of Christianity (particularly Catholicism) is literalist/fundamentalist is frankly ignorant of the facts. You may roll your eyes at the "metaphorical," but there is a huge difference between what we know and how we live now versus two thousand years (and more) ago. Of course, that doesn't apply in some religions, as we all know (cough Islam cough). What we (Christians and Jews) have done is evolved in our understanding of the world just as the atheist and agnostic has, but our faith in God has not.

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  33. Hi Beth, I took Sacred Slut's (I wonder if Imus would get fired if he called her that?) comments as being sarcastic.
    The fact is that 45% of Americans believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old and evolution is bogus. I don't think you'll find any atheists on that list. But aside from that, as you pointed out, it is ignorance, but mostly wilful ignorance. And it takes some possible bright minds out of the potential scientist pool, a pool that I feel is needed to expand if our race of humans are to make it through extinction.
    There are enlightened Muslims out there too, who do not shy away from science or ignore scientific facts that conflict with their literal bible. I'm not sure how high a percentage it is. But these aren't the dudes and dudettes who you would find strapping bombs on themselves.
    Like I said, I really don't have a problem with theistic evolutionists since we are prewired to believe in the supernatural.

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  34. "There are enlightened Muslims out there too, who do not shy away from science or ignore scientific facts that conflict with their literal bible."

    holy shit Beaj admitted not all Muslims are crazies! next thing you know he'll be saying they aren't the doom of western civilization, i suspect hes a closet Muslim

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  35. michael

    Perhaps religious belief is just a socially acceptable delusion.

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  36. Geoff's right and I'm one of these epistimithingies agnostics. Agnosticism to me isn't fence-sitting: it's a logically defensible position in its own right. It doesn't require doubt or hope.

    Michael strikes me as one of those people who's probably agnostic or atheist but comes to the defence of the "poor believers". "They're not all bad", "there are good religious people too", "it's more complicated than this" etc etc, all of which has nothing to do with BEAJ's position or blog. Bacon uses a lot of irony and sarcasm (and we all know the latter is the lowest form of wit - cough) and Michael takes it all a bit too seriously.

    Or perhaps he is religious and suffers from that famous religious long toes syndrome...

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  37. BEAJ:

    >The idea of God is not a complicated issue at all once you become an atheist.

    That's why I think that you must be wrong. Because you seem to think that it is so simple, but my own experience tells me that it is not.

    >I'll shut up when all the religious folk shut up in the blogosphere and on TV, about God. How is that?

    This sounds like the ends justify the means, no? "They're dishonest too, so I can also be dishonest."

    The issue of belief in God is much more subtle than you make it seem. The fact that you think that it is so obvious and subtle shows that you don't really understand the issue. Because the people who believe in God are not few, nor are they stupid. Nor are they incapable of being totally honest with themselves.

    If you were totally honest with yourself, you would tone down your blog and respect the probability that the people smarter than you who believe in God probably have thought about it. You would hear what the theologians, philosophers, and scientists have to say. They have heard what you have to say--there is no evidence. If you could think of it, so could they. In fact, they probably have.

    I think that in the previous comment you more or less admitted that your overly sarcastic tone is simplistic.

    Beep:

    >Perhaps religious belief is just a socially acceptable delusion.

    Perhaps, but this still doesn't explain how so many smart people--today and throughout history--believed something that you guys think is clearly, obviously true.

    As a rule: If you see a wise man do something that seems childish, you should at least take great pause to understand him.

    Maybe all of you former theists are genetically inclined to take extreme positions on things. That's why, in the absence of fervent, absolute, simplistic theism you take fervent, absolute, simplistic atheism. But the issue of belief in God is almost surely a subtle issue in between these two extremes.

    gert:

    >all of which has nothing to do with BEAJ's position or blog.

    His rhetoric and style has a lot to do with his blog. I'm objected to existence of this blog, as well as other atheist blogs. He is being dishonest by oversimplifying a difficult issue. Now, so are most theist blogs. Most people in the world oversimplify things. But I thought that as atheists, the supposed champions of reason and self-honesty, there would be a higher standard. Apparently, no.

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  38. Michael, you are sounding like a troll. Accusing me of being dishonest. That is far from the case. I'm not oversimplifying belief in God. I've already explained that human beings, because of our awareness of mortality, of being able to envision and acknowledge the future both short term and far term have evolved a defense mechanism which leads to susceptibility for believing in God.

    Again, belief in God doesn't have to have anything to do with intelligence on an individual basis. A person with a 160 IQ (sorry Gert) could easily believe in God. But that doesn't legitimize the existence of God, because if you ask that person why he believes and to show evidence, he will come up with "philosophical proof" at best. And that is just his defense mechanism trying to give him a shot at eternal life and to try to find a meaning in life that doesn't really exist.
    I'm not saying that you need God to have a meaning in life. Atheists like myself make our own meaning of life.
    You don't like atheist blogs, because you don't like our conclusion (the thing is we are as close to 100% knowing we are right as one can be). You feel threatened by us....that is my guess.

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  39. Gert, Michael definitely believes in God. My guess is he could even be a bible literalist.

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  40. Michael:

    Bacon is simplifying but so are you and so am I: this is a blog, not an academic journal.

    If you take the whole body of theological thought you could easily come to the conclusion that believing/not believing is hugely complicated. It isn't. I'm quite interested in theology (the rational part of religion, so to speak) but find that in the end we get to the point of discussing how many angels can dance on the tip of a needle. Not useful at all.

    In essence faith is a fairly straightforward matter. There are however many believers who don't understand the first thing about their own religion and in the case of Catholics remain largely in the dark about the Cardinals' position on science, evolutionary biology etc. I've yet to encounter one Christian, who is willing to listen to me and isn't inclined to show at least some doubt after I've put my points across.

    Religion is more than just faith too: it's social group (from which people don't like to be spat out for deviant views), a community, a political powerhouse and form of social cement. To many who belong to the Church, belonging is perhaps more important than believing.

    As regards the simplicisms of many atheist bloggers, I think if you drill down a little, you'll find their views to be much more subtle than might appear at first glance. We can't all sit here forever expanding on the finesses of our thinking and endlessly repeating ourselves till we're blue in the face. You just don't like atheists. That would be an indication that you are indeed religious, as none are quicker to judge atheists. Richard Dawkins is supposed to be the most "vociferous, grumpy, vile, crusading, (enter epithet of your choice) atheist", according to his theist detractors. Well, I had the pleasure of meeting that man for a brief moment and it's hard to imagine a more soft-spoken, pleasant fellow. One Christian blogger I came across not so long ago demanded that he apologised to the survivors of Dachau, to atone for atheist sins (huh?) Tres subtile...

    Bacon:

    You and that IQ thingy (lol)...

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  41. beaj:

    I'm done here, because I have said what I wanted to. I can't do much more if you refuse to respect what I consider to be a probability--that things are more subtle than your blog makes them seem.

    As for my own personal beliefs, I think that the terms "theist", "agnostic" and "atheist" are not subtle enough to capture the sensitive issue of belief in God. I am neither sure that God exists, nor am I sure that he doesn't. This is a position I hold in deference to the great minds on both sides of the argument. Further, there is a philosophy of science, and I don't believe that one can demand scientific evidence of God's existence. Science can not prove anything, really. Science is a self-consistent structure which is helpful in making predictions about the future but it does not explain what is really out there, ever. So I think that the demand to provide evidence of God's existence is unfair.

    I hypothesize that God exists. It is not a falsifiable belief--it is not scientific. We have many such beliefs in our lives, and I have no problem acting on this belief.

    If you want to call that agnostic, fine. If you want to say that I believe in God, fine. But I think that I believe something more subtle.

    It's a hunch that I have. We all have hunches. I'm just going one farther.

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  42. Michael, I'm not trying to say God can be proven or disproven scientifically. I'll accept supernatural proof that God exists as well:)

    I ask why you believe or consider God, and your answer is because many others believe and consider God.

    My big question is why do they believe or consider God? My answer is because for the most part they were socialized into the belief, a belief that originally came about as a defense mechanism....in other words, it has evolved in humans, a prewiring of sorts, to be susceptible to superstitious belief as a way of explaining phenomenon we don't want to deal with directly or cannot prove or disprove directly.

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  43. I don't want to continue this discussion, because it's now my belief that this is not an open forum for discussion. However, this:

    >I ask why you believe or consider God, and your answer is because many others believe and consider God.

    Is a misrepresentation. Do you misrepresent on purpose? I used that argument only to attempt to persuade you that there must be more to it than you claim.

    I then tried to give you a sense of my belief, though I purposely didn't clarify why I have the hunch that I do. I didn't do that because I don't want to attempt to summarize many large books in comment posts. Plus, hunches are subjective, and what I find sufficient you may not. But the main point is that I just don't want to be around you guys, because I don't think that you're very open-minded.

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  44. michael:
    I think there's a difference between one individual and a lot of people. There's a good reason why it's only one guys/very few guys who believes in aliens. But belief in God is entirely different. It's an issue that has been around for a really really long time, and we have seen so many great people who believe in God. That's what should make you wonder if things are a bit more complicated than they seem to you.
    Well, that's an argument from tradition as well as an argument from numbers, both are logical fallacies.
    I might remind you, that (except for specific countries, like France & Prussia) for the most part, it was illegal to question god (blasphemy laws & the like).
    For the most part, people don't question things they were raised in. I think it's very likely that people like Newton, Schopenhauer, etc. were terribly wrong about belief in divinity. Am I smarter than them? Likely not. Do I know more than they did? We've advanced a great ways since those days. Most of us realize that time & space are intertwined (Newtonian vs. Einsteinian physics) - but Newton didn't know that.
    Most atheists abide by Occam's Razor - no need to multiply entities needlessly.

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  45. Michael I am not trying to hide anything or be dishonest at all. I am responding to what you post. I didn't realize that you are pulling examples out of your ass.

    Atheists, mostly used to be believers. We are probably the most open minded people on the planet.

    But you don't "think" so.

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  46. Michael:

    "I don't want to continue this discussion, because it's now my belief that this is not an open forum for discussion."

    This shows the ridiculousness of your belief-system. I've been coming here for a while and this is definitely an open forum with frank debate. Perhaps you don't like it when people disagree with you? Well, I don't think you're very open-minded either because it's not open minded to call other people close-minded, just because they happen to disagree with you. You suck...

    KA:

    Right on the money!

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  47. It is kind of interesting that some people believe in God and some don’t and that there is not necessarily a correlation with intelligence. A lot of people I grew up with have retained their religious beliefs yet I discarded it in my late teens. The IT industry seems to have a lot of atheists. One loose correlation I have noticed is that Christian workers generally seem less reliable and a bit flakey – at least in IT. You’d think it would be the other way around but the coolest, most generous, people I have encountered have always been free thinkers. If I were God I’d want to surround myself with free thinkers rather than the damaged individuals you tend to encounter within religious institutions, especially those ‘born again’ types (shudder).

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  48. gert:
    Thanks. Note that Michael promptly ran away at the 2nd or 3rd time he was challenged.

    AA:
    One loose correlation I have noticed is that Christian workers generally seem less reliable and a bit flaky – at least in IT.
    As I understand it (from my BAX buddy, who's also a YEC'er), is that if you goof off at work, some xtians consider that theft. Not all, but some.

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  49. Michael,
    Your view of what intelligent people believe is very narrow, based on a very small portion of cultures and time. Intelligent people have believed all sorts of things over the ages. That doesn't make those beliefs accurate.

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  50. Krystalline Apostate:

    I didn't run away, I had a paper due and I needed to write a lot very quickly.

    But I basically agree with other authors regarding belief in God, and I would rather reference their books then summarize them. So: Platinga, Golding, Sacks, Wouk. I agree with these people.

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  51. michael:
    I didn't run away, I had a paper due and I needed to write a lot very quickly.
    Sorry, you distinctly said that you weren't coming here any more.
    But I basically agree with other authors regarding belief in God, and I would rather reference their books then summarize them. So: Platinga, Golding, Sacks, Wouk. I agree with these people.
    Well, instead of name-dropping, please do share the meat of your hunches, if you would be so kind.
    Simply dropping a few famous names, saying you agree w/them, is insufficient for a thinking man.
    I assume you ARE a thinking man, are you not?

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  52. Krystalline Apostate:

    I guess you're right. But the truth is that I fibbed a little bit--I really needed to stop coming here because of the paper.

    Anyway, I don't think that there's anything terribly wrong with name dropping. Most visitors of an theist bashing blog aren't going to be terribly interested in hearing a theist ramble on: "If there's no evidence, then you're full of crap so shut up and shed your childish beliefs." But here's what these people--all deep thinkers according to most people's accounts (which I know is meaningless to you guys)--sort of say:

    Wouk: You don't need a creator to explain the universe. But it helps. And the universe sort of seems pretty great.

    Platinga: You think that you don't believe in anything without evidence? What about other people's minds?

    Golding: Believing in something important, even if there's no evidence, is rational. You may not like it, but it's rational.

    Sacks: Judaism has historically changed the world for the better, and very well might continue to do so in the future.

    Again, you guys think that it's simple that if there's no evidence, there's no belief. Which is fine, I guess. But these four authors, and I, know this, and still assert that belief in God is rational and positive.

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  53. Michael, is it rational to believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old and that Noah's Ark story is true?

    Judaism has all kinds of these stories, and it is very subjective whether it has or will continue to "improve" the world. Yet many of stories that Judaism is based on have been proven not to happen.

    Again, I believe that we are very susceptible to believe in God and the supernatural. Subjectively, you could argue it is rational if that is the case. But did belief in the supernatural help our ancestors cope to the point we would be extinct right now if they didn't look for a supernatural explanation that explained mortality? Is it needed in the future to keep us from going extinct? I would answer a strong maybe to the first question and a most likely no to the second as we now have a lot more gaps filled than our ancestors did, and the knowledge of "this is it" might be the only thing that can save mankind going forward.

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  54. BEAJ:

    Well, we were discussing belief in God, not religion. So pretend I didn't mention anything about Judaism.

    And I will sort of invoke "Judaism is what it does." Since I believe that Judaism had an extremely positive impact on the world, I can now turn to Genesis and say that those stories, though not actually true, have great value as stories. Genesis is like a great movie, or a fantastic book.

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  55. Atheist Jew:

    I have just written a post I think you might be interested in about the I.D. vs. evolution debate.

    I hope you will stop by and leave a comment or 2.

    http://fpffressminds.blogspot.com/2007/05/mysterious-ica-stones.html

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