Intelligent Design

“Anyone who considers ID is not a scientist”

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… I leaned across to the head of the laboratory of development[al] neurobiology at one of the important American universities, and said: “Quite a line-up of scientists supporting ID, isn’t there?”

The reply was furious, and the conclusion came out with venom: anyone who considers ID “is not a scientist.”

I let it lie there. But something I once read, written by a man who was not a Christian, came to mind: “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.

“That deeply emotional conviction of a presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”

That was Albert Einstein. Not a scientist?

[For the full article, go here.]

60 Replies to ““Anyone who considers ID is not a scientist”

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    jboze3131 says:

    nice article. glad to see some people can write about this issue with some sense and not label those who support ID as fools with no credentials who aren’t “real scientists.”

    i’m wondering tho- i don’t buy into microevolution being used to cover macroevolution. from the evidence, i see that things have a built in ability to adapt to life, but i don’t see that equaling mud to man evolution. i don’t think the evidence points to common ancestry at all- i think you could see the evidence with the presupposition that mud to man is the way things happened and get to that point. but without that starting point, i think you can also, just as easily, see the same thing as common design (a designer would use the same types of molecules, the same basic forms and shapes, dna would match with life forms that have the most similar shape, size, body form, other features, etc).

    what would that make me exactly? i think we can infer design from nature just as we can infer design when we go out and see objects that are clearly man made as opposed to other objects which are clearly not made by an intelligent being. but, i also think that mud to man macroevolution is nonsense…if scientists can’t break the species barrier in the lab, then it’s not going to somehow happen via RM+NS in nature without any goal or purpose behind it all.

    kind of also wondering about everyone else. views and such. because that article seemed to imply IDers were all of the same mind in a sense. but i don’t think that’s the case really. ??

  3. 3
    Norman Doering says:

    “I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, b een placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiratation of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our we ak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance — but for us, not for God.”
    [Albert Einstein, from “Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press]

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
    [Albert Einstein, 1954, from “Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, Princeton University Press]

    “Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.”
    [Albert Einstein, 1936, responding to a child who wrote and asked if scientists pray. Source: “Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, Edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffmann]

    “The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of div ine will exist as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with the natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in wh ich scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behaviour on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress …. If it is one of the goals of religions to liberate maknind as far as possible from the bondage of egocentric cravings, desires, and fears, s cientific reasoning can aid religion in another sense. Although it is true that it is the goal of science to discover (the) rules which permit the association and foretelling of facts, this is not its only aim. It also seeks to reduce the connections disc overed to the smallest possible number of mutually independent conceptual elements. It is in this striving after the rational unification of the manifold that it encounters its greatest successes, even though it is precisely this attempt which causes it t o run the greatest risk of falling a prey to illusion. But whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances made in this domain, is moved by the profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence. By way of the understand ing he achieves a far reaching emancipation from the shackles of personal hopes and desires, and thereby attains that humble attitude of mind toward the grandeur of reason, incarnate in existence, and which, in its profoundest depths, is inaccessible to m an. This attitude, however, appears to me to be religious in the highest sense of the word. And so it seems to me that science not only purifies the religious imulse of the dross of its anthropomorphism but also contibutes to a religious spiritualisation of our understanding of life.”
    [Albert Einstein, “Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium”, published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941]

    “The only source of knowledge is experience”

    “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

  4. 4
    jboze3131 says:

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary.
    Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
    i dont think that most religious people live the way they do because of fear of punishment or hope of reward. that surely isnt the message of the christian religion- “do good just to stay out of hell.”

    i think theres no way to make sense of “ethical behavior” outside of belief in God. chemicals cant choose right and wrong, “flesh machines” (which is all that humans are to some people) cant make sense of right and wrong. heck, there is no such thing as right and wrong without God- foe where it would it come from? social norms? well, right and wrong are universal, so it cant be social norms (all societies havent grouped together to decide right and wrong)…morality couldnt possibly have evolved in a darwinist sense, since its purposeless and a mere cosmic accident that were here at all- no accident and purposeless entity can possibly have a concept of right and wrong.

    in that sense, id totally have to disagree that ethics comes from sympathy (the problem is- where does sympathy itself come from?)…education and social ties have little bearing on what a person KNOW is inherently right and wrong and how to use right and wrong to better his character.

    like i said tho, i think most religious people strive for better characters because thats what God’s purpose for us is- the greatest of all the commandments (speaking again of christianity, of course) is to love your neighbor your like yourself…love the lord, love all people. just because thats the way its supposed to be.

    science and philosophy and religion mixed together.

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    Norman Doering says:

    jboze3131 wrote: “i dont think that most religious people live the way they do because of fear of punishment or hope of reward. that surely isnt the message of the christian religion- ‘do good just to stay out of hell.'”

    Then why have a heaven and hell?

    jboze3131 wrote: “…. chemicals cant choose right and wrong,…”

    You might as well say that hydrogen atoms can’t warm a planet — but they do when enough of them fall together and fusion starts inside our sun. You might as well say metal and silicon can’t play chess, but arrange that metal and silicon into a computer called Deep Blue and it can defeat a grand master.

    So, arrange chemicals into a human being with a brain who have to live in social settings and they might evolve ideas about right and wrong.

    jboze3131 wrote: “flesh machines (which is all that humans are to some people) cant make sense of right and wrong.”

    How do you know, first that they can’t, and second that you can make sense of right and wrong?

    jboze3131 wrote: “…there is no such thing as right and wrong without God-”

    Bull! It’s obvious at many levels that certain behaviors harm other people and since we all depend on each other to make a society work it harms yourself to some degree.

    jboze3131 wrote: “… where it would it come from? social norms?”

    From common sense and reason. From knowing the situation you live in. From wanting to live a good life and be judged well by yourself and others. From a recognition that a society needs rules of conduct in order to function.

    jboze3131 wrote: “…well, right and wrong are universal, …”

    Some are universal. For example, no society allows for theft and murder, we all have to earn our way by doing something other people want done. Without those laws and ideas within us society would crumble.

    jboze3131 wrote: “…so it cant be social norms…”

    It’s not an either or situation. Some aren’t universal, those are the social norms. For example, in some Islamic countries women have to Burkas and other special clothes, some even are required to cover their faces. During the Taliban rule of Afghanistan the world got a good look at what happens when religious zealots gain control of a government. Television images of women being beaten forced to wear burkas. To an American woman not being able to show her face would be dehumanizing, but many Afghan women were okay with being faceless blobs in social settings, some choose it after they were free to choose. That’s a social norm and it coexists with the universals.

    It’s not the either or you think it is.

    jboze3131 wrote: “(all societies havent grouped together to decide right and wrong)…morality couldnt possibly have evolved in a darwinist sense, …”

    Wrong. It could evolve. In fact there are non-human societies with clear rules and no known concept of god. For example, ants and bees, wolf packs, dolphin clans, etc… In fact murder is far more rare among other social animals than amoung men.

    jboze3131 wrote: “where does sympathy itself come from?”

    Mirror neurons are one possibility:

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    Smidlee says:

    To me Albert Einstein was a fruitcake which is why the world looks up to him. According to what I’ve read he was a dead-beat dad who wanting nothing to do with his own children. While he may have been smart he had a very cold heart person so no doubt he didn’t believe in a personal God since he walked away from his family. Science was Einstein’s god and religion.

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    Smidlee says:

    Correction: he *was* a very cold hearted person

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    jimbo says:

    Mr. Doering –

    Not to argue with you, since nothing I say will convince you, but I would like to clear up a common misconception about the Christian concept of heaven and hell:

    It is not a system of rewards and punishments. God doesn’t send people to hell because they don’t follw his arbitrary rules, or to heaven because they helped an old lady across the street. God created us to know and love Him. Heaven is eternitiy in the loving presence of God, while Hell is eternal separation from Him. In both cases people end up there because that is where they choose to go. Free will demands that God allow people to reject Him.

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    jboze3131 says:

    norman, as many have pointed out…if what you say is true and there is right and wrong and it just somehow “evolved” in all of mankind (animals do not act like humans- which is why we have the phrase ‘acting like an animal’). you cant deny the basic differences between all other life and man.

    if what you say is true, then anything SHOULD be able to go. if its just survival of the fittest, then right and wrong are illusions that should be ever changing depending on what set of right and wrong allows us to better survive and reproduce our “selfish genes.”

    we all are born with the ability to know what is right and what is wrong, and all people from all places are both with the same set of core values- murder and stealing is always wrong, as you mentioned. there are things with all people in all lands that are right and wrong- we would have had to evolve seperately this ability to decipher ethics (it wouldnt have been an adaptation that would have made a big enough change to kill off all those without the new “mutation” or anything like that.) so, why the universal moral code? universal being the key word.

    in the sense of survival of the fittest- ethics makes no sense whatsoever. the system of ethics all humans have is counterproductive to the supposed plan for the universe (selfish genes that demand you reproduce and reproduce and reproduce). it goes opposite to what we would see if mud to man were true- why would RM+NS somehow create ethics at all since it goes against the “plan” for all the rest of evolution? it doesnt make sense. too much of it doesnt make sense. and in the end, chemicals themselves would have to decide right and wrong. you mentioned examples of chemicals but theyre results of intelligent causes. unguided, unplanned, purposeless processes acting on chemicals and those chemicals creating the very concept of right and wrong? i can think of few things as far fetched.

  10. 10
    dougmoran says:

    So many expert opinions… here’s a few more:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as the result of my research about atoms, this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force, which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    – Max Planck, Father of Quantum Theory, from his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1918.

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”
    – Max Planck

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    Smidlee says:

    Dougmoran that last quote is an interesting one. I believe the hillbilly country version of that saying would be “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” 🙂

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    Lurker says:

    jboze3131: “…there is no such thing as right and wrong without God-”

    Norman Doering: “Bull! It’s obvious at many levels that certain behaviors harm other people and since we all depend on each other to make a society work it harms yourself to some degree.”

    A more generalized, yet still accurate, statement that jboze could have said is “there is no such thing as right and wrong without an objective standard”. If that is still “Bull” to you then you are only fooling yourself.

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    jboze3131 says:

    well, the same goes from there, i think. where could an objective standard come from without a higher power? an evolutionary model wouldnt make much sense, because were left with survival of the fittest (and the like), which would mean that there could be no true SOLID, lasting objective standard.

    sometimes people jump into raging rivers to save others…sometimes these people who save the person stuck in the river perish themselves. that sort of action wouldnt make sense in a survival of the fittest model. nor would it make sense if morals were changing and that its all about looking out for number 1. i think we can agree that when you see someone drowning, your automatic instinct is to not think of your own safety and jump into the river and save the other person. putting their rescue above your own safety. i dont see how any evolutionary model could make sense of what (without an objective standard) seems like an insane idea (to risk your life for strangers without even thinking of your own safety- just running a basic autopilot that demands- “the right thing to do is to save this person.”)

    i think we are left with only one option- someone or something (i propose that someone is god) created the standard to begin with. the standard is real, which is why its the same across the globe throughout all of history. there has been no “progression” in this sense at all on any basic level.

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    ajl says:

    “…sometimes these people who save the person stuck in the river perish themselves. that sort of action wouldnt make sense in a survival of the fittest model….”


    the argument I’ve heard is that our ‘genes’ have tricked us into altruism. That is, we are too stupid to survive on our own, so evolution had to create a mechanism to make us think we should do something (like save a drowning person). Fortunately, the unguided, random process of evolution knows better than us in these matters. I’m sure glad something is looking out for us, even if its nothing!

  15. 15
    Benjii says:

    The idea that evolution is an unguided process is something that might lose vogue with future biologists. In fact, quite the contrary, most living systems bear an astonishing form of biological convergence. That is, they are not related, yet, they show similar features and traits time in and out. If evolution is so random, then why does it repeat itself and strive towards intelligence. If you read the works of Simon Conway Morris, you’ll see that evolution is indeed a constrained process. I actually e-mailed him and he told me that his form of teleological evolution is much more “adventerous” than ID. I’m not so sure what he means by this.

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    jboze3131 says:

    ajl- never heard that theory. it’s always easy to posit such an idea tho, considering it would be completely unprovable in any manner. it’s classic tho, we’ve been tricked into doing certain things (which gives an illusion of right and wrong, free will, etc.) but the actions we’re tricked into aren’t in any advantageous to our own survival.

    so many try to claim theories that question evolutionary processes are merely “god of the gaps” arguments, but what do you call it when evolutionary theory proposes such absurd ideas (ideas that, fortunately, have no true value in any rational-based world.)

    i guess drowning victims everywhere should thank our genes for fooling us into thinking those who save them are merely doing what is truly right. why a purposeless process with no real goal would have us do any of this to begin with is anyones guess!

  17. 17

    Norman wrote

    I’d like to agree with you both at different layers.

    jboze, it seems, is talking about a final position. With no final arbiter of “wrong … optional … right” valuations we are left with collective and subjective valuations.

    Norman is appealing to a common agreeemnt on what is harmful and most of us can say yes to his statement. Some valuations are not clear even in communities of Christian believers. For example Christians with similar authority sources and decision making processes have partial agreement deciding when human life begins. Two options are at conception and after the nervous system is differentiated.

    Norman, when the going gets tough, what authority sources and decision making process do you appeal to?

  18. 18

    The text left out after the > above should be

    ** jboze3131 wrote: “…there is no such thing as right and wrong without God-”

    Bull! It’s obvious at many levels that certain behaviors harm other people and since we all depend on each other to make a society work it harms yourself to some degree.**

  19. 19
    jboze3131 says:

    i wouldn’t lump varying ideas of when exactly life starts into the overall idea of ethics and a moral absolute. i don’t think there are any civilizations that can deny a basic core set of moral absolutes.

    another thing that came to mind is the fact that we feel anything at all when something bad happens to someone. in a survival of the fittest world, when someone drowns and we don’t help them- we shouldn’t really feel anything at all. what would be the survival purpose in caring at all? our selfish genes would just fool us into “realizing” that there are no absolutes and that things merely happen because they happen- no right and wrong built into us, no absolutes to go along with any emotions.

    caring at all, feeling heartache and such over things that don’t even affect us personally (watch a medical story on a stranger with a terrible disease) makes little sense when only speaking of selfish genes and mere chemicals. worry over the well being of others (even worry and pain felt for those we might not even know but have seen on TV) causes stress, which can lead to disease, which is quite the opposite of survival.

    if selfish genes were productive, we’d be walking flesh robots without worry, love, friendship, caring for others, etc- all feelings that can easily lead to mental and bodily pain and disease, which would surely have an effect on your ability to produce more selfish genes. (in other words, the selfish genes are supposedly selfish but pretty bad at their real job- to replicate and pushing us toward reproduction to produce more selfish genes.)

    it’s all a mess with a survival of the fittest, purposeless universe worldview.

  20. 20
    avocationist says:


    Please explain how the existence of God affects right and wrong. It seems to me the selfish gene theory works quite well. I disagree that we would be robotic if it were true. We have empathy and sympathy in decreasing intensity as the relationships are further from us. A strong sense of empathy gets built into mammals so that mothers will care when their babies cry. It suits group-forming animals to have group sensitivity. Human beings are tribal in nature, which is to say that before the building of city states they naturally live in extended family groups with strong cohesion, culture and history together. In such cultures, thievery makes little sense as everyone is connected to everyone else in the tribe. Yet some such tribes will steal from other tribes. It seems to me that as people began to create civilization, they got confused because they lost the strong tribal norms and lived among a larger number of people. Crime arose. Crime as we know it hardly exists in simple tribal societies. So now we are slowly learning to consider larger and larger groups as at least somewhat important to us – for example those suffering during natural disasters.

    I’m playing devil’s advocate, but I don’t see the problem with my reasoning.

  21. 21
    Dan says:

    It is very simple. The argument for universal moral values without God is false. Sarte admitted this as did Betrand Russell, Neitzche, Camus, Rand, Pojman ect. It is incomprehensible to consider universal moral values without God. Universal moral values are substited by societal norms.

    Also, all biologists and philosophers of science know that life begins at conception. It is ridiculous to consider otherwise. The debate is about personhood- not life.


  22. 22

    “Superior Reasoning Power”

    Today I discovered Dr. William Dembski’s weblog.

    On October 1, 2005, Dr. Dembski quoted columnist Mary Ellen Symon’s response to a universal negative assertion that “anyone who considers ID `is not a scientist.'”:

  23. 23
    jboze3131 says:


    i dont see how a selfish genes worldview would make sense of compassion and love for people you dont even know. if youre driving down the street and you see someone lying on the ground bleeding, you stop your car and get out to help them. natural instinct would tell us to get out of the car and do soemthing even if we saw that the injured person was lying on the ground next to a big grizzly bear which is why the person is bleeding to begin with. wouldnt a selfish gene tell us- save yourself, live on to reproduce more selfish genes? thats not how it goes tho, people would get out and often times risk their own lives for others- others they dont even know. our selfish genes, as i think i said above, might be selfish but they must also be pretty bad at their jobs if this worldview is correct.

    why wouldnt a flesh robot be better? if dna controls all of life and basically controls all of our actions (the selfish genes just want to make more and more selfish genes, using living creatures to do so), then a flesh robot would be much better for the job. this type of being could be programmed by selfish genes to care for their young and try to help others and themselves stay alive in order to make more selfish genes. this worldview basically tells us that all life is basically just a race to make more and more dna with no purpose, no goal, no guidance, no value, nothing. why evolve beings to care about others they dont even know…why find beauty in the nature and in manmade objects- why laughter, why romance, why dreams and aspirations, why fears? these selfish genes have changed life into millions of various forms somehow, yet its so bad at what it does it screws up and makes people who care, think, feel, share, love, empathize, etc? if the world is a selfish genes factory, then all life would be better suited to get down to making more genes and thats that.

    why societies that know that having 10 babies isnt a good idea? that having children ourside of marriage isnt good? why couple together at all? wouldnt it be a better mechanism just to evolve beings that mate, a baby is born a few days later, the mother takes care of the baby for a few weeks and sends it on to make more babies and more selfish dna? the selfish gene boss has got to be pissed at how bad a factory line he has going here (all the stuff that serves no purpose to make more dna- laughter, romance, playing, marriage, dreams, jobs, etc) all of those things could be compared to a factory where the workers on the line all sat around doing nothing instead of pumping out as many widgets as they can.

    heck- sex alone doesnt make sense with selfish genes. why evolve sexual beings at all when only half of the good stuff is passed on? then you have the time to carry the baby, the many yrs to care for it. many more yrs before its ready to go out and make more selfish genes.

    okay, i got off on a very long rant about why the selfish genes are really bad at what theyve supposedly work to create. if any factory ran the way humans do in the sense of seflish genes- the factory would be out of business in a week.

    as for morality- i take into consideration all the facts that make the selfish genes idea so absurd (in other words- why evolve beings that are so inefficient at making more dna to begin with? they take yrs to do it, many of them choose to never do it, and when they do they often times risk their own lives, screwing up the process, for others they dont know at all). it should all be about #1 and covering your butt. doing whatever you can to make more babies. to live long enough to evolve the species.

    an evolved morality shouldnt possibly be universal. over tens of thousands or millions of yrs (depending on what info. you look at), morality itself should have evolved, if only the slightest bit- to make for better dna factories. humans are terrible dna factories for the reasons i mentioned above. yet we find that morality IS absolute and that it IS COMPLETELY universal to all people in all places in all times. some ethical changes occur and differ between different groups, but even then basic core morality stays the same. the same things have always been wrong and the same things always right. since these absolutes exist and havent changed (or in any way ‘evolved’), they had to come from somewhere. you cant have any absolute without a source for it.

    also- if we go with the selfish gene theory and use it for morality- we might as well close down all the prisons, let people do whatever their genes tell them to do and go with that. well lose people, but in the end- the genes will continue to rule us as they do in this theory and theyll be better able to get us to make more and more of their little friends. if morals are relative- then we should live with whatever goes with each person. no sane person would advocate this, but why? it makes sense with the theory of selfish genes. people oppose the idea as insane because they know deep down that morals ARE, in fact, absolute and nowhere near relative.

  24. 24
    jboze3131 says:

    PS. the book i just wrote (aka my last comment)- thats what you get when you try to think of issues like this at 1 AM. 🙂

  25. 25
    avocationist says:

    Dan – You throw all those boring philosophers at me. Weren’t some of them atheist? If you’ve read them, tell me why we need God for moral values. You can’t just say it’s false. I’m surprised to see Nietzsche in there. I think half his problem was he read and believed Darwin.

    JBoze, The reason we care for and risk ourselves for people we don’t know is that nothing is perfect (why do you suppose a blind natural process would be so perfect that everythig would be like a factory?) and that we are designed to get a positive reward when we help other people survive. The reason we don’t let criminals run amok is that they are very destructive and the majority of people want a reasonably safe and predictable interaction with other people, so they gang up and oust them. I once had a juvenile delinquent-type stepson (hey, I didn’t raise him) who would say really awful, dishonest, scheming things. I pointed out to him that if everyone acted as he did, all our lives would be full of stress and hassles. Eveyone would get robbed and ripped off multiple times, we would have to exert constant efforts to prevent crime against ourselves, and we would be angry a lot. This had not occured to him.

    As to the rest of your many questions, you forget that humans are very complex and therefore quanitity is not the only value. People who have way too many kids become exhausted, all the kids are raised more poorly, nutrition suffers and infant mortality rises. Animals do not overreproduce under normal circumstances.

    What I am trying to understand is how God relates to morality. For example, murder is bad because it is anti-life in more ways than just the obvious. It creates fear and stress, which lower immunity and shorten life span. Now you tell me why murder is wrong in your book.

  26. 26
    Dan says:

    Hi Avocationist,

    Thanks for the message and here is a brief proof of the obvious if you are exposed to these philosophers:

    Look at Satre No Exit. He portrays life as hell because MAn has finally understood that there is no loving God to care for him. The title sums up the story; the play ends with the words “Well, let’s just get on with it.”

    In Jacques Monot’s Chance and NEcessity, he states that Man finally knows he is alone in the meaningless immensity of the Universe.

    Look at Samuel Beckett’s play, Waiting for Godot. Two men waiting while making mind numbing conversation for what- a man who never shows up. Emerson stated that we all live lives of quiet desperation. This is because we have no God to give us moral absolutes.

    Ayn Rand wrote of the virtues of selfishness because no one has a right to hold you accountable because there is no God and there are no morals other than selfishness.

    I can go on, but I recommend that you read REasonable Faith by WL Craig.

  27. 27
    jboze3131 says:

    avocationist- the point is, if selfish gene theory is right, then our only goal should be to make more selfish genes. we could have easily evolved over a billion yrs into life forms that need very little food, expend very little energy, take up very little space, reproduce quickly and often and thats that. why then do we have humans at all- all of whom take up a lot of space, need a lot of energy which demands more food, and not all of us perform our ultimate “goal” of reproducing. why create a life form that will have free will to choose never to reproduce? no reproduction, no new selfish genes.

    how can a gene be selfish to begin with if there are no absolutes. no absolutes, no selfishness. no selfishness, then why desire to make more genes at all? if its all purposeless, why do they posit a purpose (make more genes) at all?

    with a selfish gene theory, chaos SHOULD reign. we should WANT to kill off the lesser among us (the old, the sick, those who are mentally retarded, etc). they drag us all down if life is just an endless cycle of new selfish genes wanting to make more selfish genes.

    you say that we exist because no system is perfect- if evolution is THIS imperfect (its horribly sad at its job if it created humans to do what they do), then theres no way to reasonably claim it is responsible for the millions of forms of life we see on the planet.

    fact is- if life was this way, we should kill off all the criminals AND the weak and “lesser” among us. we should strive to breed a super race that can live longer, stop thinking and feeling and just ACT like robots. robots in a dna factory. that would be the ultimate goal if selfish gene theory is correct, yet no one advocates this as far as i know. that and risking your life for a stranger- im not sure what reward is there besides the reward of doing what is right. but if selfish genes are correct then nothing IS right. theres no right and wrong absolute, and in the end- right for selfish genes would be to protect yourself to make more genes and say to hell with the stranger in trouble.

    morality comes from a source. EVERY absolute comes from a source, and the source MUST, by definition, be higher than humans. god is the only reasonable explanation. were very inefficent beings when it comes to making more and more dna (our genes SHULD trick us into sleeping with as many people as we can and never use birth control!), but were very efficient when it comes to changing the hearts of others. why have that desire to change anyones heart if there is no ultimate purpose? why evolve life forms at all that asks these questions to begin with? its as if the boss selfish gene WANTED his employees to go out and join the union.

    morality, as i said, comes from god. god builds into the human brain right and wrong. we still have free will tho (with selfish genes, we truly have no free will and are just controlled, unknowingly, by the genes) so we can choose to do right or wrong. many things that would make sense with the SG theory dont make sense with morality. we dont kill off the old, sick, etc. we dont let people drown, we dont accept things that are inherently wrong.

    right and wrong couldnt have possibly evolved yet are exactly the same in every single person alive on the planet, and every person who has ever lived. it just doesnt make sense. right and wrong should be different based on location, societal differences, etc. tho some socities have, in the past present and future, practiced some very bad things, it never made those bad things truly RIGHT. people have often done things they KNOW are bad but make excuses as to why its okay for them to do these things…all the while- true absolute right and wrong were the same for all of us, even if we choose to do wrong.

  28. 28
    avocationist says:

    Dan – So those guys somehow accepted that there was no God because of why? And they found the idea totally depressing but resigned themselves to it? That is why I don’t read those philosophers. They are fools. I see some brief synopsis of what so-and-so said and I find it absurd, and their writings meticulous and dull, so I have not read much of them. But that didn’t ansawer my question – what is morality, really?

    Jboze, You have some idea that we could be like ourselves but yet somehow have simple structures that expend few resources. I see no evidence that could be the case. Life as we know it requires just the complex infrastructure that scientists are uncovering. What I said was that altruistic acts could be compatible with the selfish gene theory because there are definite rewards for helping relatives or tribal members, and therefore people might mistakenly take it too far, and help a stranger.

    I don’t say that I believe the selfish gene theory, but it is on the money in a lot of ways, and that is why it is fairly compelling. You say right and wrong couldn’t evolve, but most right and wrong are completely logical and life-affirming. If we look at things from an evolutionist point of view, we can say that the human brain evolved to become intelligent for survival reasons, and therefore it has logic and can understand consequences, and that most of morality makes perfect sense for the greatest good and smoothest relations among people. So evolution could definitely evolve it (if indeed evolution evolves much of anything). Morality is pro-life and that is what evolution is about.

    So you say God builds right and wrong into our brains. What about our souls then? How do they know right and wrong?

  29. 29
    jboze3131 says:

    that still doesnt explain a lot of trivial things in human life that run counter to the “goal” of reproducing. im telling you, flesh robots who care for their young just to make sure theyre alive, healthy, and able to reproduce would be an ultimate goal with this theory in my mind.

    when i said life forms that need a lot of energy- i meant humans at all. large mammals period. if genes were selfish AND smart, theyd stick to low energy life forms that are much smaller than us, that need less space, less time to make more genes, etc.

    a lot of morality is pro-life, but pro-life for others and death or risk of death to you. so, that doesnt make a whole lot of sense.

    still- with the concept of an evolved morality and ethics (i still dont think mutations could bring forth any sort of ethical code without a code-giver) – were still left with morality that is nowhere near absolute. heck, it could just evolve into something else at anytime. were still left with relative morality, which means nothing in the end, because its just a stepping stone to a more “progressive” morality (which is what we see many trying to push today- an anything goes attitude, the ‘if it feels good, do it’ morality thats been on the rise in the past half century. and i cant see any good that has come from this new “progressive” attitude.)

    abortion, drug and alcohol abuse rampant (among even the youngest in society), crime on the rise, all lifestyles being accepted and seen as perfectly ‘normal’ and perfectly fine, disrespect among children, a lack of respect between adults in general, higher divorce rates, std rates skyrocketing due to out of wedlock sex, and on and on. we can easily point to the idea that morality is relative for these problems and more. i think without moral absolutes, its only a matter of time before we “evolve” a different morality and eventually anything WILL go (survival of the fittest in the purest form- only a matter of time with a relative morality and ethical code.)

    i didnt even see the part about souls until i scrolled up just now. i dont know about souls. if theres a god, then there are souls- no doubt. what god would create beings that are like candles, burning away until the wick is totally gone and thats that. i think that idea of god is just lazy. id probably be of the dualist camp- our souls and our bodies are connected, but our souls make us what we are as a whole. the soul is the driver and the brain is the car. they work hand in hand, but need not be entertwined to survive independently. so id say that the soul is the base of who we are and our morality and the brain is the vehicle to which we express all of this in the natural world. so i guess when i say God built right and wrong into our brains- we could see it both ways. its built into our souls in a generalized sense but manifests itself thru our brains in the natural world.

  30. 30
    DaveScot says:


    There’s almost certainly “survival of the species” instincts at work at all levels including human species. Survival of the individual isn’t always the overriding instinct. Social amoebas, usually a lone protozoa, cluster during famines into a slug form where a few of them at the tip of the slug produce spores, then the survivors disband. Many of them must die during the spore producing process and the dead don’t pass on their genes. Others survive the process but aren’t necessarily the ones that get their genes into the spores. These are often used as an example of how multicellular organisms might have evolved.

  31. 31
    jboze3131 says:

    thats instinct tho. i wouldnt call that altruism at any level.

    i think that people can instinctively rescue someone but not have their brain turned off in the process. our brains tell us- save this person, but along with that we have emotions that tell us its the right thing to do. its mindless instinct with no real solid plan that is workable.

    plus, i wouldnt compare human compassion for others with microorganisms banding together to survive famine.

    having built in survival of the species instincts is one thing- feeling compassion for others and their suffering and putting yourself at risk to save them by knowing this is another. like i said, instincts tell us to save the person, but theyre built on underlying ethical principles that tell us leaving the person to drown is wrong. i dont think protozoan feel anything, let alone compassion. close, but different.

  32. 32
    jboze3131 says:

    i mean to say that the instance you talk about is mindless instinct with no plan. as in, they cant THINK thru a plan of action as to what would work. humans can. we dont just jump in and drown ourselves, we form a plan in our head then we act. instinct is involved, but as i said its based on compassion and those sorts of feelings. and it isnt instinct that allows us to plan out a rescue scenario in our heads (which might mean using things around the area in our plan) to help those in need.

  33. 33
    Bombadill says:

    Good points. Neuroscience has built a solid case for dualism with the brain as the “apparatus” for the “mind”. There have been experiments which have indicated that the will/emotions/mind exist apart from the physical apparatus. People have come back from a state of no brain activity on their death bed and describe very lucid conscious experiences. From where I stand, one could build a pretty strong argument for compassion as part of the metaphysical realities that make us “persons”. Additionally, every atom in our bodies is renewed every 7 years. If we are merely the sum of our physical forms, then what makes us the same “person” after these periods of physical renewal? Might sound silly, but I think there’s something to that. JP Moreland makes a compelling argument regarding how we could not have a true first-person perspective if we are merely physical and if consciousness were merely the byproduct of the physical brain.

  34. 34
    avocationist says:


    I noted on another thread that an 18-year-old said that his contemporaries have all been given to understand in school that we are the result of unplanned, accidental processes. I do think this is a deadly thing to do to teenagers. I am sure it contributes to suicide and depression. In fact, if there is a spiritual side to reality, I would consider that an assault. Just as emotional abuse does emotional damage, so would spiritual abuse cause spiritual damage. Teens are misunderstood in our society. They are wide open like babies, not physically but their minds and idealism are new and just beginning to develop.

    When my son was 12, I found a book he brought home that was being read aloud to the boys and girls in class. It was a novel about a poor boy who loved his pet pig and his father said they could only afford to keep it if she was bred. Somehow, she didn’t come into season but they put her in a breeding pen with a boar anyway. Now, this pig was like a young maiden in that she was just at breeding age. She was anthropomorphized in that the boy loved her. In the breeding pen, she was raped and it was graphically described. There were phrases like “his privates were alert and ready to breed.” The female pig squealed and squealed from the pain of him forcing himself into her, and “the blood trickled down her leg.” Three times in these two pages there was the statement “but he was all boar and there was no stopping him.” Now, I ask you, have you ever heard the phrase “he was all boy”? And isn’t it sort of a compliment? He is active, he gets in a bit of trouble, but after all, he is all boy. We talk about date rape – wouldn’t a book like this make some boys feel very guilty, and some boys feel deep down that if they are all boy there will be no stopping them? And how do the girls feel sitting there and reading about someone very much at their own stage of life being raped by an “all boar” who could not stop? They read this story to all the 7th grade classes for several years. Is it possible some 12-year-olds might not really know much about the mechanics of sex? Might this be a shocking introduction? And they were so ignorant that they said this is nature. It is not nature! Female animals are almost never raped. So the kids are the result of accidental processes and the girls are just lucky they are human and have a chance of escaping a life of rape.

    I am not like you guys here, I’m not a fundie. I’m a commie, hippie, leftist pinko. But sitting down 12-year olds and reading those two pages (in an otherwise great book) was emotional, even sexual abuse. But the school board was completely impervious to my arguments and gave me some literature about book banning. Like I want to ban books.

    Anyway, I don’t see why we would necessarily evolve different moralities in different societies – we are the same species. You seem to think morality, whether from nature or God, is some arbitrary set of rules. And what I am trying to get at is that morality must be fundamentally welded to life itself.
    I agree with your analogy about the soul and brain.

  35. 35
    avocationist says:


    I’ve been reading about the right temporal lobe, the “God spot” and after death experiences. It all makes sense now. Why do some people sense there is a God? Their right temporal lobe is (just slightly) functioning. Why can you never convince someone else who does not sense the presence of God? Because they have no sense of it. When you go through the dying process, the right temporal lobe kicks in. If you survive, you’re never the same because pathways in the brain have been activated, and once activated, will never again be as dormant as they were before. But sometimes people have powerful spiritual experiences not brought on by near death. Such experiences involve the right temporal lobe. Since you now have activated a relatively dormant part of the brain, you now are no longer quite the same person as before. Your outlook changes. You process information differently so that the spiritual realities become far more obvious to you. You can talk about it, but it is very hard to transmit such a thing to someone else, in whose brain the necessary apparatus is dormant. They just don’t “see” it, as a colorblind person doesn’t see color. This right temporal lobe is the place of “ears that hear” and “eyes that see.”

    Some people, upon hearing that there may be a “God spot” in the brain immediately think that it invalidates spiritual experience, as if it were “just” a brain thing, some chemicals reacting. But think again. While we are alive, we are in these bodies which include the brain, and at no point whatsoever can we have an experience that leaves the brain out. If we are to have a spiritual life, we MUST have a brain that can process it! The right temporal lobe is the interface.

    As we know, brains are highly malleable, especially at certain times (infancy, 7 years, 12 years) and different skills can be developed at the expense of others. That is why a feral child, past a certain age at rescue, will never learn to talk much. Meanwhile, the folks here and similar blogs are reacting to Dawkins recent statements about a religious upbringing as a form of child abuse. And they counter with studies that show greater mental health in children brought up in religious households. As usual, the truth is a jumble because certain stupidities of the religous households often do cause damage, and yet the stimulation of hope in the soul of the religiously-raised child may very likely be the cause of the more resilient mental health. So my question is, if there is a right temporal lobe God spot, and if lack of stimulation to any area of the brain during development causes it to be undeveloped and dormant, then isn’t being raised without spiritual encouragement a form of neglect?

    Anyway, Bombadill, I would like to understand better why being only physical makes it impossible to have a first person perspective?
    As to why we are the same person after 7 years, wouldn’t the faithful copying of memory be the main reason?

  36. 36
    dbergan says:

    Sounds like the most popular version of Flew’s “No true Scotsman” fallacy.

  37. 37
    jboze3131 says:

    those who have had their right lobes affected have weird experiences. nothing like christians have. they include hearing the actual voice of God, actually SEEING God, and having what would be considered new age-like “spiritual” experiences.

    i dont think you can reduce all religious experience to this tho. why would a lifelong avowed atheist come to god without any affect on this part of the brain in his 70’s, 80’s, 90s, whenever…? shouldnt we see all religious people with RTL that are affected somehow chemically?

    most of this stuff was done by morse, i believe…and he claims that humans can interact with the universe via this part of the brain (telepathy, remote viewing, and other “paranormal” things). lots of odd new age stuff.

    i think its always dangerous to try to reduce feelings and thoughts to the brain itself. the brain might be the tool used to express this from the soul to the outside natural world, but thoughts and feelings and such, i dont think, can be reduced to just chemical reactions in the brain or various brain areas firing off. it would seem that all of us would have very different experiences of the same events, but we really dont in general. we see things differently, sure- but we all see red the same way. we all experience and know what apple flavor is and its the same for all of us (so seems to be the case).

    i dont know. it just seems dangerous to reduce things to chemicals and brain processes. as i said- i see the soul and person as a seperate entity but using the brain and the body to express itself to the natural world. maybe it sometimes uses the RTL to express itself, but maybe thats not always the case (it seems to be the case with NDE’s, but you still have to explain some odd things like how people can see things in other rooms while theyre supposed to be “dead”).

  38. 38
    Bombadill says:

    avocationist, I’ll direct you to the expert himself. This article explains these evidences far more eloquently than I can: And there are evidences he doesn’t mention in this article, as well.

  39. 39
    avocationist says:

    Oh, dear. So only Christians have spiritual experiences? If the RTL experiences are weird, then what is that part of the brain for? To cause confusion so more people can go to hell? Christians never hear the voice of God? What happened, the rules changed? They did in the OT. Paul did in the NT. People with near death experiences see God also.
    How do you know that the atheist who starts to believe has done so without any input from his RTL, and that there have been no brain changes? Religious people may very well have more active right temporal lobes, and perhaps other differnces. They have already done studies on praying nuns and meditating Buddhist monks, and seen some changes, a more active RTL. The question of the study was, which came first? In other words, are people with more active RTLs more likely to pursue a spiritual life (I’m sure that is correct) or does the spiritual life cause the RTL to get more active (I’m sure that is also correct)?
    I am by no means reducing feelings or thoughts to the brain itself. But the brain is part of the experience. We are talking about consciousness here. We have the sleep state, we have the waking state. Surely the brain waves and activity levels differ in these states. Then we have the “awake” state, referred to by all relgions. Why not suppose that the awake state involves increased consciousness in the brain, just as the waking up state in the morning is more conscious than the sleeping one? It works with the car analogy. The car does not decide where to go, but a car with a strong engine can do things a weak car cannot. A car with 4 wheel drive can get up my driveway, and a 2 drive cannot. But there is still the driver, a person.

    there’s no need to label those thins odd or new age. They are not unknown within Christianity. Christians do not live in a different reality. We are all in the same one, working with whatever tools we’ve got.

  40. 40
    jboze3131 says:

    i never said christians dont have spiritual experience. the studies done with this have been people in mediatative states. when you pray, you dont usually try to put yourself into such a state. trance-like states are what most of these studies have looked at.

    there a different kind of experience, usually new age types of experiences, which is why i used that term for the experiences. christians dont go into prayer in trance like state the way some other religions do.

    as for hearing and seeing god- those are supernatural events clearly, not hallucinations or brain processes gone awry. so, the rules havent changed, no.

  41. 41
    jboze3131 says:

    the word i was looking for in the last comment was a meditative state. like religions that use a lot of meditation- the studies have shown changes when in those states. i used the word trance-like states…close enough to the state you want during meditation i guess.

    and in regards to OT and NT seeing of the supernatural…i dont think its relevant to the brain topic brought up, because these events were clearly not natural events, nor were they meant to be or thought to be.

  42. 42
    Dan says:

    Hi Avocationalist,

    I did answer your question and it does not matter if they were dull or depressed. They are the thinkers whom have molded the post-modern and positivist theories of life which are so prevalently practiced today. It is simple, without God, there are no morals for God is truth and the opposite of true is false. Without God, there is no opposite of true therefore there is no truth. This is not only well conceeded in philosophical circles, but accepted by the policitaclly correct dogma which has become a cultural blight for our society.


  43. 43
    avocationist says:

    jboze, I am taken aback. After the things I said, you speak of brain processes gone awry. You speak of a vision from God as being a nonnatural event. Having nothing to do with the brain. And if that person had an EEG hooked up to them while they were having their vision of God, would everything be in the same state as normal? I think not. I know this sounds negative and I shouldn’t say it, but you seem brainwashed by theology that you do not understand. There must be 100 million Christians in this country. Some are in monasteries that practice various sorts of prayer. Some are pentecostals that speak in tongues. some shout and sing, some are somber. How can you assume that all Christians automatically have a certain kind of experience and that anyone who is “new age” has some different one? Suppose a nonreligous person experiences the Holy Spirit and repents and becomes a Christian. Would you consider that not a natural event?

    Dan – yes those people had a lot of influence. I could never understand why. The explanation seems to go something like this: Newton figured out that there were forces to make the planets go round, not angels pushing them, and suddenly the world has no need of God after all. So if I understand you right, murder is bad because God says so.

  44. 44
    jboze3131 says:

    im not talking about modern day humans talking to god. you mentioned OT and NT events of people seeing and talking directly to god. when god spoke to moses, that was a supernatural event. when god intervenes in the world, it would be considered a supernatural event. i dont think that god works that way anymore…were in a new era and we have the revelation of christ and his work- after that, i think direct contact from god ended. well, direct contact in the sense that god doesnt call down in an audible voice for anyone around to hear and hes not sending himself into human form to heal the sick or anything.

    im saying ‘new age’ in the sense that- well, new age religious type ideals that you are your own god and all that sort of stuff. it sounds new age to me (much of the NDE research and god spot stuff. im not all that familiar with new age religious ideas tho.) also, as i said before, prayer in a meditation style. thats not what christians, in general do, they dont go into a meditation with a trance-like state. in general, this isnt the christian way of prayer. its more an idea of the buhddist style or maybe hindu. im not saying all of the experiences are of one kind for all christians.

    morse (who did a lot of the nde studies and the god spot of the brain stuff) makes claims of telepathy, mental imaging, psychic powers, and all sorts of other new age type ideas. thats what i meant with that…i dont think christians usually go with that sort of thing. we dont see the brain as being able to connect into the cosmic source which would allow us to read the thoughts of others or predict future events, which is what morse claims, according to the sites ive read about his work. that the god spot is a way to allow us to connect into the univeral consciousness of the entire planet, that sort of stuff.

    if one receives the holy spirit, it would be a supernatural event, but i dont think it makes any difference in that regard what part of the brain fires. ive no doubt that one could have little function or massive amts of function in the RTL and both could be just as religious as the other. maybe that part of the brain is used in connection with the person as a whole, ive no idea. but the person isnt the brain. you could take out someones brain and its just a piece of meat. can chemicals and neurons create the color red, the distinct taste that can be easily recognized as an apple? i dont think so. the mind isnt the brain. the mind, in the natural world, uses the brain to express itself (and the mind is surely connected to rhe soul which is the seat of morality), but i dont buy into a reductionist model (youve mentioned youre not necessarily saying that you believe that to be the case either).

  45. 45
    avocationist says:

    I apologize for my outburst. It might be time to start thinking some new thoughts about how things work. We know so much more now, and there is no reason for it not to change our understanding even in the spiritual realm. ID itself is an example. When Darwin thought up his idea, he had no clue what he was saying because the enormous complexity of living things was quite unguessed at, utterly unexpected. We can assume that the spiritual realm is similar to that situation, because spiritually, we are not very functional, and the spiritaul world is quite murky to us. It is so murky that people only have a poorly working conscience and half of us can’t feel the presence of God. So we should be open to increasing our understanding of how spiritual tings work together with ourselves while we live in these bodies and brains. We are in an age of discovery and if you reject it all and call it new age, how is a Christian to progress? Do you just want to be left behind? Because if you can’t incorporate new knowledge, that’s what will happen. I don’t understand your objection to Morse. He’s really looking into this stuff, thinking about it, trying to understand it for years. The research is not his but he meets a lot of patients who have had NDEs. And the things you object to – remote viewing and such – they are not incompatible with Christianity. But I do think there is a tremendous amount of ignorance and arrogance in Christianity, and it is very detrimental.

    All that stuff you disdain – a universal consciousness or a universal memory bank that is nonphysical or outside the body, or telepathy – either it can happen or it cannot. If it can happen we need to find out more about it.

    You misunderstand meditation if you think it is a trance state. Most meditation involves repeating a prayer or mantra, usually the names of God. Catholics and Orthodox Christians have used the Jesus prayer for centuries, and they do so because they follow the scripture which says to pray without ceasing. The purpose is to calm the mind. There are other forms of meditation that do not involve prayers, but it is not trance. Some yogis may go into a trance, but so have some Christians, for example, St. Paul. He stated he did not know whether he was in the body or not. That is very deep prayer.
    The new age ideas that you are your own God are not so far off as you think.

    I do not believe in the concept of a supernatural event, whether God intervenes or not. Let God intervene. Does he go against the laws of nature? Not necessary. God can act within nature and do things that we cannot. When we see something done that we cannot do, and when we also have no idea how it happened, we use names like supernatural, or magic, or miracle.
    If you simply say that what happened to Moses was supernatural and leave it at that, then you have run away from understanding and investigating it.
    You say if someone receives the Holy Spirit it is a supernatural event. I meant in the sense Christians often talk about. I meant that a change of heart is a kind of miracle. Many christians think that the Holy Spirit is the cause (along with the will of the individual to accept grace) of such a repentance. You can call it supernatural if you like, but it is the goal of the Christian life.
    You don’t think it makes any difference what part of the brain is active during a supernatural spiritual intervention? I am sure that CANNOT be correct. No, I am not a reductionist at all. I do not think the mind or soul is the brain. But I do think that, while we are in the body, the brain is involved in our spiritual perceptions, and it can change from spiritual experiences.
    I’m sure we are way off topic by now.

  46. 46
    jboze3131 says:

    i didnt take any of that as an outburst of any kind, so no apology needed. 🙂 then again, maybe im slow. hmmm…

    i dont object to some aspects of the stuff morse mentions. i just meant that, it sounds a bit kooky to me. i dont think i believe in psychic abilities and stuff that is similar. i remember seeing tv shows about studies they did on NDE’s where a patient would tell someone about an object on the roof that they couldnt have possibly seen or known about unless they were somehow out of their body during the NDE itself. its interesting stuff, some of it, but some of it just sounds too kooky to take too seriously. tho i wouldnt totally rule anything out in such an abrupt manner.

    even then, i dont know that i object to it…more that it sounds just like i said- kooky. maybe too kooky. maybe not. i dont think id have much of an open mind when it comes to being your own god and were all gods- that sort of new age stuff.

    in using the term supernatural to explain the way god would talk to moses or someone else in a sense like that (abraham, paul, etc), im just going with the term that most would use. it all depends on how we define natural and supernatural. i think of god as supernatural, but if he made the world (i believe he did) and all things in it, doesnt that make him part of the world, which would make him natural? so, thats a difficult choice whether to use natural or supernatural. both i guess, when you think about it? all depends on how we define the terms, as i said. wouldnt you say creation itself (of matter, the universe, whatever- if thats what you believe) is a supernatural event? its hard to say when we define the terms the way we currently do, huh?

    im not sure what youre getting at tho- that we can explain moses’ experience in some other way, rather than saying that maybe it was truly god? or are you saying that maybe god did indeed speak to him in an audible voice and prescence visually and that you would still consider that a natural event somehow?

    id agree, as i think ive made clear, that the brain is involved in the spriritual experience. every experience, really. i see it as the car and the mind and soul as the driver…without the car you cant go anywhere, so in the physical world we all know and can interact with today, the brain is the sole device thru with we experience. then again, i think we can have non-physical experiences in the sense that a spiritual life exists. but that spiritual life would involve the brain in the physical world, so its rather confusing to think about. its both at the same time sort of. thats how i see it. i dont think the brain is mind and soul- not buying the reductionist model…thats why i said it doesnt really make much of a difference to me where the soul interacts with the brain. i see most of those attempts as reductionist attempts to explain away mind and sould and spirit. so, i guess it peeves me a bit as it is.

    and were definitely off topic. ID to morality to ethics to mind and soul. 🙂 i see it all as related tho- i think in any subject you bring in all different parts of your worldview along, so maybe not SO off topic.

  47. 47
    avocationist says:

    The idea that we are all gods is not new age, it is Hindu, which has made an inroad into our culture in this – I mean last, century.

    I dislike the world supernatural for the kinds of reasons I mentioned – it promotes magical thinking that is no longer appropriate in our age. Yes, I do think that all htose events considered miraculous are not supernatural in that I think God did not suddenly cause molecules to behave against their laws, or atoms to jump out of their places, or the elements to not behave as they must behave. Rather I think that just as live organisms have incredibly small and detailed operations, so does the physical world, and that God has the ability to change things on a subatomic level. We could call it a miracle in the sense of an intentional intervention, but I strongly feel that there will be the same tiny, detailed, perfectly orderly physical underpinnings to it that there is to all the rest of our physical world – and which is a pretty amazing manifestation too!

    Yes, I’d say that if God speaks to someone that is natural enough, and that it is also likely that our brains have an area which is ready to receive such experiences, just as our brains come ready with areas that can be used for many other tasks and experiences. But it does not seem that “God” ever does appear, only angels or perhaps Jesus.

    I agree that it is confusing to think about. Somehow the spiritual communicates with the physical. There is an interaction point.

    As to whether the creation itself is a supernatural event – I think that technically I might have to say yes. Nature includes cause and effect, but it cannot therefore cause itself. There must be a cause to nature that is in some way prior to nature. But I don’t think of God as separate from the creation, and I think that has been a common error of thinking. No, not that god is part of nature, but that nature is part of God. God is more than nature, but nature is included within God. I think this must be so. For where can nature come from if not from God Himself? Even if nature pops into being due to a thought from God – still nature is completely a part of God. And this is the reason why Hindus have always said that all is One, and all of us are part of God. They do not really promote the idea that humans are equal to God, but rather they look at the fact that what they call the Absolute is all there is. There is nothing outside of God, there is no such thing even as ‘nonexistence.’ There is only existence. Nonexistence and atheism are just concepts in our world and are also part of God. That is why Hindus call God “the One without a second.” It isn’t so far off if you think of it logically, and remember the Bible says we are in the image of God, that “ye are gods”, and Jesus prays that people will be in him and in the father, just as Jesus and the father are one, so should people be included in that.

  48. 48
    avocationist says:

    oops, I mean I dislike the WORD supernatural.

  49. 49
    Charlie says:

    Avocationist, great comments.

  50. 50
    Charlie says:

    Now that I look over the entire thread, I take that back.
    Good conversation here by all involved.

  51. 51
    jboze3131 says:

    ah. very interesting points. nothing that i disagree with really when i think about it.

    just trying to get your head around the whole part of the soul and mind interacting thru the brain in this world were in now and deciding how to phrase that issue itself. sometimes boggles my mind, because youre trying to convery the idea that- on one level its the soul that is doing this but at the same time, the brain is the point where it meets the physical world. so it IS the soul and the mind but its manifesting itself thru the brain (i guess that makes sense to say it that way or some similar way.)

    i do think that too many people make the mistake of putting god into our time frame (time is a concept that means nothing to god- we sense time because our bodies age, we have appts to keep, we have days on the calendar to tell us when columbus day is :), but god it outside of time. nature is part of its cause, ‘within it’ so to speak, and that cause is god…so, yeah, thats also a mistake that people often make i think.

    as for the brain areas- ive heard many others talk about how the research leads them to believe that its like a direct connection to god built into our brains. like i mentioned, too often i see these as attempts at reduce mind and soul and morality and all of that to chemicals and a piece of flesh in your cranium, which doesnt fly with me, so i tend to be on the defensive when seeing these studies at all, waiting for the inevitable conclusion that its all brain and nothing else exists. good to see thats not the conclusion of all thinking people tho!

  52. 52
    Dan says:

    Hi Avocationalist,

    Thanks for your response and the answer is yes…without God, there is nothing wrong with murder unless the society says it is wrong. Here are some examples:

    Abortion is killing life. The debate is over personhood, not life
    In Africa, parents performed natural selection by throwing deformed babies to hippos up until…well they still do it.
    Eskimos put their elderly on an iceberg when they could not keep up with the herd or left them behind to die.
    In India, a widow was burned to keep her pure in her dead husband’s eyes.
    Also, War is justified by taking control away from someone who should not be in control, therefore justifying murder.

    There are many other current situations that I can point out like capital punishment and assisted suicide or personal suicide.


  53. 53
    avocationist says:

    Hi Dan,
    Personally, I agree that without God nothing matters, all is futile. However, I was making the case that there are good and logical reasons for societies to come up with many similar views on morality because they are prolife or antilife.

  54. 54
    Dan says:

    I agree that societies can make up similar views, but they are not absolute. I appreciate working through this with you as you are very respectful…I cannot stand it when you are going back and forth and folks become asses.


  55. 55
    wmmalo says:

    Creator, designer, is there a significant difference?
    Is there any difference?
    If it looks like a duck… it’s a duck.

    I still have hopes for ID, however forlorn its defenders appear.
    As long as this theory yoyo in and out of religion it will be beaten to death by the science it’s trying so desperately to seduce.

    The obvious ‘threat’ it poses is its thinly veiled attempt to usurp the influential power of science, specifically evolutionary theory.

    Personally, I’m not threatened by the research ID might present. I’m not threatened by religion or science, or for that matter, the absence of either or both. However many people do feel intimidated by suspicious strategies, whether disingenuous or not. ID must prove first that it isn’t ‘faith-based’ or it will be tagged an ideological subversion of the scientific ‘philosophy’ and continue to scare the shit out of all those non-believers.

    ID needs to walk before it runs.
    Right now, it doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  56. 56
    DaveScot says:


    thats instinct tho. i wouldnt call that altruism at any level.

    i think that people can instinctively rescue someone but not have their brain turned off in the process. our brains tell us- save this person, but along with that we have emotions that tell us its the right thing to do. its mindless instinct with no real solid plan that is workable.

    plus, i wouldnt compare human compassion for others with microorganisms banding together to survive famine.

    having built in survival of the species instincts is one thing- feeling compassion for others and their suffering and putting yourself at risk to save them by knowing this is another. like i said, instincts tell us to save the person, but theyre built on underlying ethical principles that tell us leaving the person to drown is wrong. i dont think protozoan feel anything, let alone compassion. close, but different.

    I’m saying survival instinct exists at the species level and it can be found in the behavior of organisms from the most simple to the most complex. I gave an example in a primitive single celled organism where some individuals are sacrificed so that some others can reproduce. The example wasn’t banding together to survive famine. The example was some committing suicide so that others can reproduce and continue the species. There’s no higher example of altruism.

    Compassion for members of one’s own species may simply be, and probably is, no more than a complex behavior rooted in instinctual concern for survival of the species.

    Of much more interest to me is interspecies altruism which is much harder to explain. It appears to be largely confined to mammals from my observations. It doesn’t appear to be instinctual, per se, but is so readily learned in the right environment that it’s probably a latent instinct. What it is, really, is unselfish love. Mammals have a high capacity for it, some moreso than others. It may be that humans have the highest capacity for it but unfortunately the capacity has a range of zero to infinite with people like Hitler being close to zero and people like Christ being close to infinite. That’s a sad situation for those of us closer to Christ than to Hitler.

  57. 57
    Dan says:

    Dave-nice post and I have never thought about this before. This would be an incredibly interesting thesis.


  58. 58
    DaveScot says:


    That’s one facet of me wearing my Lynn Margulis hat where symbiosis plays a great role in evolution. Gaeia is a rather sensible theory that Lynn also entertains. View the entire planet as one organism. What do all organisms do – they seek resources needed to reproduce and then reproduce. Eventually, the earth runs out of resources that life needs to reproduce (sun goes nova, inner solar system gets fried to a cinder). Ergo, if planetary life follows that on smaller scales, it has a way to find new resources and continue reproducing. What’s required for a planet to reproduce? Well, spaceships capable of flights to other solar systems would sure come in handy. Sort of like an uber-dandelion seed. Rational man may merely be the mature reproductive cells of a much larger organism that has to travel interstellar distances to survive and reproduce. Front-loaded evolution fits nicely into that scenario as well – life here started from one of those uber-dandelion seeds that came from elsewhere.

    “There’s more in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreampt of in your philosophy.” WmShakespeare

    I try not to limit my horizons. If something isn’t prohibited by the laws of physics then it’s fair game to think about.

  59. 59
    wmmalo says:

    “Front-loaded evolution fits nicely into that scenario as well – life here started from one of those uber-dandelion seeds that came from elsewhere.”


  60. 60
    DaveScot says:


    Would you mind terribly stalking someone else for a while? Thanks.

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