Intelligent Design

Is ID largely supported by Christians?

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In America, you bet. 80% of the American population is Christian. Do the math. Connect the dots. Anything with broad support in America can be expected, not surprisingly, to have 80% of its support from Christians.

64 Replies to “Is ID largely supported by Christians?

  1. 1
    Rowan says:

    To be frank, it doesn’t make sense to be any kind of theist and not believe that there are some intelligently designed systems in the universe. Even a theistic evolutionist believes the ‘process’ of evolution is intelligently designed.

    It’s been bizarre watching all the fallout over the Judge Jones animation. There is the section of the IDers blasting people for not adhering to Christian principles. There is the Dawkins fansite / PT lot blasting IDers for the same thing, whilst simultaneously calling IDers every derogatory name under the sun (and what moral basis does a materialist Darwinist criticize anyone as long as they have passed on their genes!)

    One grows weary of having one’s beliefs continually ridiculed and I think a lot of intellectual Christians have pinned their hopes on the ID movement to give non-materialistic beliefs more credibility in the eyes of the world…something which Creationist groups have largely failed to do. Those of you publically working on ID may not have chosen this, but you are now being held to a very high standard because of this.

    At the end of the day though, the correctness of any philosophy or scientific theory is not determined at all by who supports it.

  2. 2
    mike1962 says:

    Is Darwinism largely supported by atheists?

  3. 3
    shaner74 says:

    I’ve never, and I mean never, encountered an atheist who didn’t place their faith wholeheartedly in Darwin.

  4. 4
    bFast says:

    Shaner74, you bring up an interesting point. We now have 4 questions:

    1 – Are most IDers Christians. (corrolary, is it supported to a level significantly higher than society’s average.)

    2 – Are most Darwinists Athiests? I propose not, in that true, non-agnostic, Athiests are a fairly rare breed.

    3 – Are most Athiests Darwinists? Proposal is “yes”.

    4 – Are most Christians IDers? I propose that the answer here is no. I would bet that most Christians haven’t thought about the issue enough to say. If they have an opinion, it is regurgitated from the teaching of their particular church. A lot of Christians are YEC. The Catholic, Anglican and other communities have been told that “evolution is ok”, therefore many of those are Darwinists.

  5. 5
    tribune7 says:

    Are most Christians IDers?
    But that would depend on how ID is defined. It’s generally a quite broad definition. You believe in a designer you accept ID. God is a designer. Christians believe in God. All Christians are IDers.

  6. 6
    shaner74 says:

    “2 – Are most Darwinists Athiests? I propose not, in that true, non-agnostic, Athiests are a fairly rare breed.”

    I agree with you – no. I bet a lot of people who accept Darwinian evolution never even stop to think about what that means.

    “3 – Are most Athiests Darwinists? Proposal is “yes”.”

    I say YES. With what we currently know about our universe, I don’t think you can be an atheist without Darwin. If you are an atheist (not agnostic) and do not believe in Darwin’s brand of good ole’ fashioned “intelligence not required” evolution, then you have a screw loose. Belief in “blind watchmaker” evolution allows theories like m-theory to become mainstream, since, if life “evolved” without intelligent input, then the universe must have as well.

    “4 – Are most Christians IDers? I propose that the answer here is no.”

    Again I agree with you. If given a choice between ID and Darwin, most that understand what’s at stake would choose ID. However, if by ID we mean that life displays design (that’s all ID says), I think many Christians would not be in agreement unless you also said that life displays design, the earth is thousands of years old, and the designer is Jesus Christ.

  7. 7
    jb says:

    Another question: is YEC a sub-set of ID? Most YEC’s would certainly concur with design arguments and use them in their arsenal of arguments (and I believe AiG even sells one of Behe’s book in its bookstore–though I’d have to double-check to make sure), so does this make all YEC’s by definition IDer’s?

    But the converse is certainly not true: All IDer’s are certainly not YEC’s. So one would seem to be be a sub-set of the other.

    And not only YEC, but OEC as well would appear to be by definition another sub-set of ID.

    There are also several Islamic Creationist organizations as well. I’ve seen some of their web sites (though I can’t recall their addresses at this time). I’m not sure to what extent Islamic Creationism is YEC or OEC. I don’t know a whole lot about Islam, but it would seem that their theology would require some sort of Creationism. So, I would think most Muslims would support some sort of Creationism or at least ID. And since Islam represents a rather large portion of the world population, I would say that the statment “most IDer’s are Christians” is likely false. Although one would need to consider the question as to whether many Muslims and even Christians have even given the origins question enough thought to even say which model they support.

    So is the question “Are most people who actively and vocally support ID Christians?” or is it “Are most IDer’s Christians?” I think these are two different questions, for one can accept the principles of ID as part of a religious package and not necessarily get in on the bandwagon of helping “the cause” in either activist or scientific endevours.

    And what is the Orthodox Jewish position on origins? (this is not rhetorical; I ask because I truly do not know).

    As to whether most Atheists are Darwinists, certainly most are. Although I’ve heard of a few Atheists who support ID, as odd as that sounds. Their version of ID is that some alien race is responsible for life on earth (wasn’t Fred Hoyle of this persuasion?) Perhaps a “higher intelligence,” they posit, but not necessarily “God.”

  8. 8
    Ekstasis says:

    Back to the original point: “In America, you bet [ID is largely supported by Christians]. 80% of the American population is Christian. Do the math. Connect the dots. Anything with broad support in America can be expected, not surprisingly, to have 80% of its support from Christians. ”

    So, in America, drivers of automobiles are predominantly “Christians”, as are those who love vanilla, or chocolate, ice cream. Because that 80% must do something with their time and opinions, outside their church experience, so they can win all sorts of statistical competitions.

    So, the question than becomes, does the term “Christian” mean much of anything beyond being born into a “Christian” family, and inheriting the tradition of celebrating Christmas by going to a lot of parties and spending a lot of $$? If not, any correlation with practically anything will be primarily arbitrary.

    On the other hand, maybe we should look at those few people that are really serious. You know the ones — they wake up and pray in the middle of the night instead of choosing cozy sleep, they give away their $$ instead of buying bigger homes and glitzy cars that offer automatic parallel parking, they return good for evil when mistreated, they ask their hotels to turn their cable off when on business trips because they will do anything to rise to a higher, purer plain of existence. We are talking about the sort of behaviour that Darwinian evolution can’t explain but tries to anyway through all sorts of contrived and contradicting tall tales.

  9. 9
    littlejon says:

    All getting a bit USA-centric, if I may say. This side of the Atlantic (UK) 70% of the population claim to be Christian, & I’d estimate about 1% at most would claim any support for ID. There just isn’t seen to be any clash at all between theism and Darwinism, and I think it is a little rude to say this is because people haven’t thought about it. I’d say most British people are intuitive dualists – NDE fully explains our DNA, but “we” are more than our DNA, our bodies were created by blind watchmaker forces, but not our consciousnesses. I’ve even heard religious ministers express this – their God has no direct causal influence on the physical world, but operates at the “soul” level. Whether this is coherent is of course another matter…

  10. 10
    Ekstasis says:

    littlejon,

    So, at some point, according to the prevailing belief on your side of the pond, is that humanity was endowed with consciousness, and a soul, features that extend beyond the material processes taking place in the cranium, and perhaps to some limited degree in other parts of the physical human body? And that these features very much exist, in an objective sense, as opposed to the material brain processes imagining them into “existence”, much as an author imagines a work of fiction into existence?

  11. 11
    DaveScot says:

    shaner74

    I’ve never understood why atheists feel they can’t accept ID. We know intelligence exists in at least one instance in the universe and we know that instance is able to tinker with genomes in increasingly sophisticated ways. The only thing ID posits is that there was or is another intelligence at work in the universe with capabilities somewhat more advanced than ours. If our technology advances a the current rate for another thousand years surely we’ll be able to identify sterile, young earth-like planets around other stars and transport the beginnings of life to them. Where the intelligence that first created life as we know it came from is beside the point. We don’t know where the universe came from and that doesn’t seem to bother them. The first cause is a philosophical question that will likely never be answered by science. But that doesn’t science can’t identify and characterize secondary causes.

    The only people that ID leaves out are those who are faithfully committed to the proposition that no intelligence other than human intelligence exists now or ever in the history of the universe.

  12. 12
    DaveScot says:

    Michaels

    Is Darwinism largely supported by atheists?

    No. Atheists largely support Darwinism. If faith in Darwinian principles was limited to atheists we wouldn’t be here talking about it as they’re so small in number. It’s interesting though that the National Academy of Science’s membership is quite the reverse of the nation as a whole with atheists representing 80% of its membership. I don’t think any organization so skewed from the population as a whole should be given the advisory role in gov’t that the NAS enjoys. It’s an atheist clique. Religious people need not apply.

  13. 13
    idnet.com.au says:

    The “failure” of ID to gain universal acceptance amongst Christians results largely from the fact than almost no one defines ID using William Dembski’s definition.

    The other problem is the Darryl Falks of the world who believe by faith that detecting God by any scientific means is by definition impossible.

  14. 14
    mike1962 says:

    tribune7, “God is a designer. Christians believe in God. All Christians are IDers.”

    I reject this on the basis that Christians and other theists (often) start out with a book (Bible, Quran, Urantia, whatever), and then sift the physical evidence thru that sieve. ID starts with the evidence and asks “is this designed by an intelligence?” Completely different starting points. They are only associated by accident, not by cause.

  15. 15
    jb says:

    tribune7: “God is a designer. Christians believe in God. All Christians are IDers.”

    idnet.com.au: “The ‘failure’ of ID to gain universal acceptance amongst Christians results largely from the fact than almost no one defines ID using William Dembski’s definition.”

    mike1962: “ID starts with the evidence and asks ‘is this designed by an intelligence?'”

    So, is there, then any sort of consensus on what, exacltly ID is? (I ask this not rhetorically, but truly because I don’t know, being a newcomer to this subject).

  16. 16
    jmcd says:

    idnet said: “The “failure” of ID to gain universal acceptance amongst Christians results largely from the fact than almost no one defines ID using William Dembski’s definition.”

    I think that many people do not recognize id for what it is because they identify id with the cultural movement to introduce God into the science classroom. While the DI has been careful in the past to say that they only want the problems of evolution discussed its stated goals would lead people to believe that the motives behind “teach the controversy” are not as genuine as the equitable phraseology implies.

    ID is esentially the argument from design reinforced with mathematics. It is certainly possible that design can be demonstrated in nature using current or refined techniques but it is far from generally accepted in the scientific community. I think that lack of acceptence leads many people to the conclusion that the only reason to bring up ID in the classroom at this point is because of its religious implications.

    If you seperate the cultural movement from the idea I think many people would at the very least be open to the possibility that design in nature can be confirmed. The bottom up approach is bound to breed conflict. I think a mid level approach may be the best strategy. The id organizations at universities are a great idea. These are young adults who can make up their own minds. Math and science majors who will take id friendly attitudes into their new professions would be very valuable. There is going to be discrimination. The law ought to shield people from the worst of it, but there is no way around the fact that it will be a hard fought battle just as every effort at changing scientific paradigms has been. Since it is such a big question with such tough answers that may well be beyond our reach for some time a parallel academic society may become a good idea.

    Sorry for rambling. In answer to the post. I think a lot more Christians would be iders if they identified id solely with its ideas and not an agenda.

  17. 17
    JasonTheGreek says:

    In reply to comment #9- I’d argue that it is a case that Christians in the UK probably haven’t given the matter much thought.

    I can’t think of ANY form of Biblical Christianity that fits with the idea that our bodies and everything outside of our mind came about in a blind watchmaker fashion. Heck, I don’t even think you’d call that theism at all if God didn’t create you, but rather merely threw a soul into an accidental body.

    Theorizing that God didn’t create us then makes you wonder how that could even be coherent at all. Did he throw some things together and walk away…came back one day and added a soul to some higher form of ape? That sounds like deism to me.

    Did he create the universe…did it create him? Is a God that had nothing to do with creating my body, as the Bible clearly says he did, be all powerful? If he’s all powerful, why would he just toss a few trillion souls into evolved apes? Did he toss souls into lower apes?

    It gets confusing…because you’re veering away from the holy book in which your foundations lie, which means you can start to posit anything basically. What’s to stop you?

    As I said- the idea seems totally inconsistent with Biblical Christianity and reason itself.

  18. 18
    shaner74 says:

    DaveScot wrote:
    “I’ve never understood why atheists feel they can’t accept ID. We know intelligence exists in at least one instance in the universe and we know that instance is able to tinker with genomes in increasingly sophisticated ways.”

    Yes that’s true, and it’s perfectly logical to conclude that some type of alien intelligence could have designed and sent life to earth. However, if you’re an atheist, and you admit that Darwin’s theory holds no water, you are left up a creek without a paddle, intellectually speaking. You have admitted that life as you know it is designed, but to remain grounded in your atheism, you then must appeal to some unknown mechanism for creating intelligence from matter without invoking a God, since the alien intelligence that designed us had to have come from non-intelligence for your atheism to be true. You still need the “blind watchmaker”, although now this blind man doesn’t know who Darwin is. And of course, the response of the theist in the absence of these aliens and their atheist testimony would be “Darwin was wrong here, why would he be right somewhere else?” And you, the poor atheist, has no response except to say that “I’ve never seen God, so He doesn’t exist” Now add to this a universe that goes “poof” into existence 13.5 billion years ago and also is “fine tuned” to a degree that seems almost incomprehensible, as well as spiritual leaders throughout human history insisting on there being a God, and your atheism becomes an untenable position entirely. So although ID doesn’t destroy atheism, the loss of Darwin is just too great to even consider design.

    “We don’t know where the universe came from and that doesn’t seem to bother them.”

    I think it bothers them terribly – they just won’t admit it because they still have father Darwin.

  19. 19
    littlejon says:

    Ekstasis,
    “humanity was endowed with consciousness, and a soul” – to be quite honest I get the impression that a lot of the “little old ladies” (who are probably most of the Christians if truth be told) don’t restrict to humans – I’m not joking, I’d say that under hypnosis a good few would claim consciousness & a soul for their dog / cat.
    ” beyond the material processes taking place in the cranium, and perhaps to some limited degree in other parts of the physical human body? And that these features very much exist, in an objective sense” – yup that’s about it. Not really “beyond” though, more “in a parallel domain”. To repeat I’m hazarding a guess at what Christians in the UK believe, not putting forward a position.
    Also do remember we’re really a very very secular society when it comes to it – church-going is around 2%. More people watch live sport on a Sunday than attend religious service & anyone flaunting “belief” would never get elected.
    Jason
    “I can’t think of ANY form of Biblical Christianity that fits “. No you’re right. Noone believes in the Bible. Noone. That’s not exaggeration. We have Church of England archbishops who openly deny virginal birth / the more “bizarre” miracles & noone bats an eyelid, never mind the Old Testament which is left out of many Bibles as a bit embarassing. I’m not a Christian so I won’t speak on anyone’s behalf, but the holy book is not where anyone here’s foundations lie.
    I don’t know if in the US you have the “Jesus was a hippy” brand of Christianity – that’s what all Christians are like here, it’s all very “micro-socialism”.
    As for “Did he create the universe”? I asked a Christian friend – they got exasperated. “God is way bigger, way beyond these petty parochial questions of our physical universe” they said. “By definition He transcends humanity and our evolution”. So I guess there’s space for ID to find an intelligence BETWEEN religion & naturalism…;-)

  20. 20
    new.atheist says:

    Might never makes right….

    I would say that I thought all deists had to be IDers; they believe in a higher power that created everything, however how they think he went about creating/designing stuff may differ.

    So some Darwinists are for ID as well; they just think that their god works through the natural processes. Not all Christians see a conflict, since not all Christians think the whole bible is literal truth.

    I’ll definitely agree that most atheists credit our existence to Evolution (thou I wouldn’t call them Darwinists, since there has been a lot of scientific research since Darwin, and the theory of Evolution has been refined). But I do recognize that there are atheists who believe we were created by aliens who put our souls into volcanoes, or something like that. (What crazy religious ideas some people have huh?) Or that we live in something like the Matrix. I’d say generally atheists can not accept ID if that intelligent being was a super-natural (god-like) influence in our natural universe.

    I don’t think Evolution and a deity necessarily rule each other out (even if I don’t believe in the deity), they just aren’t in the same catagory. It’s just that the more science one learns; the more one also learn how the bible isn’t the literal truth, and I have no doubt that causes more than a few of them to loose their faith all together. Religious people aren’t shunned out of science (or I definitely don’t think they should be) unless their religious beliefs interfere with their science. It’s very hard to believe in universe that is completely natural (science) if one also believes in the super-natural.

    I personally have no problem if I don’t have a soul, if I’m not special in this universe, and if a few million years ago my ancestors were apes, or cats, or bacteria, or a happenstance chemical reaction. All I can do is live my life the best I can today; nothing more.

  21. 21
    shaner74 says:

    “It’s just that the more science one learns; the more one also learn how the bible isn’t the literal truth, and I have no doubt that causes more than a few of them to loose their faith all together.”

    Yes probably. But literal truth pertaining to what? Nature? God? From my own experience, I would re-word what you said to be “It’s just that the more one learns, the more one also learns how the Bible isn’t meant to be taken literally” For example, a literal tree in a garden, or literal days of creation. But a “tree” being used as a metaphor, like any good author would do, is a different thing entirely – an idea I see atheists and many Christians completely unwilling to entertain. And as far as Jesus is concerned, I’ve never been able to take literally the sayings of a man who spoke in riddles. Now, I must confess I see NDE as incapable of converting the masses to atheism in its present condition. IMHO, the area of science that has the greatest convert-to-atheist potential is neuroscience. If it could be shown conclusively that mind (consciousness, spirit, soul, whatever you prefer to call it) comes from matter, then the ballgame is over – or at least, it’s the bottom of the 9th, 2 out, and atheists are up by a few dozen with Charlie Darwin on the mound throwing 110 mph. fastballs.

    “It’s very hard to believe in universe that is completely natural (science) if one also believes in the super-natural.”

    I don’t really understand that. Are you saying it’s hard to believe in a natural universe if that universe has a cause for its existence not contained in that universe? Since if it’s not contained within the universe, can science ever know about it?

    “All I can do is live my life the best I can today; nothing more.”

    In the end, yes, but I think the problem becomes: how do I define “best” if there is no God? I sometimes wonder if atheists could know for sure if there was a God or not, would they actually want to know? Not because there might really be a God, but because they could be right and there might not be. We all live as if there is a God and the “I” we call ourselves actually exists.

  22. 22
    StephenA says:

    “No you’re right. Noone believes in the Bible. Noone. That’s not exaggeration.”

    That is an exaggeration. What are Young Earth Creationists if not people that believe the entirety of the Bible?

  23. 23
    mike1962 says:

    jb, “So, is there, then any sort of consensus on what, exacltly ID is?”

    The essence of ID is what I said already: looking at biological systems and features and asking the question, “is this designed? And if so, how can we determine it? Does it make more sense to considered this a designed thing than the alternative?” And so forth. The particulars are being worked out. And it may never be possible to achieve what the ID people are after. But that’s beside the point.

  24. 24
    platolives says:

    #4 bfast:

    Darwinism: Atheism and Psuedoscience

    IDism: Science and Theism

    (Choice contingency is a theoretical ‘term’ which refers to a theoretical ‘entity.’
    This entity is difficult to think about. What are its attributes? IDists, teleologists, informationists understand the uniqueness of this choosing, selecting entity. Many scientists as well as IDists see it effects. The critics are simply not thinking–which is why they label IDists as Creationists.)

    Your comment helped me intuit that this whole mess is the result of both one’s belief that 1) the propositition “god exists” is false (atheism), and 2) an unphilosophical doctrine about the origin-of-life (Darwinism). An IDists can both scientifically and logically believe that an intelligent agency exists and, when you think about this agency, I mean really think, one can grasp some amazing concepts which existed before man emerged. There is a wide range of research opportunities because Darwin’s mechanisms of cause, NS and RM, cannot fully explain a theory of origins.

  25. 25
    platolives says:

    How would a Darwinist approach remote veiwing’s entity “universal mind.” Say it’s nonexistent? In certain circles it is common knowledge that one can query the remote veiwers at Ft. Meade to find the truth in matters, that something actually occured.

    Further , the Pentagon does not distribute paychecks to its remote veiwers for doing nothing…

  26. 26
    Ekstasis says:

    “It’s just that the more science one learns; the more one also learn how the bible isn’t the literal truth, and I have no doubt that causes more than a few of them to loose their faith all together.”

    Well, but is it necessary for history and science to intersect? Is Archaelogy science? Could we say the opposite — the more we learn from history and archaelogy, the more the bible skeptics will lose their contra-faith? Hmmm. http://www.bib-arch.org/bswb_BAR/indexBAR.html

    We do not have the time here to hit on the mountains of evidence. Just one or two: Take the approximately 2 million Jews that escaped Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert. Just how did they find the food and water for this? Oh yes, we know of all the naturalistic theories — eating coriander seeds, etc. Yep, they found and distributed 1500 tons of it every single day, just lying around in the desert!!

    And the skeptics of the past loved to laugh at how ole’ Pharaoh’s daughter took a 200 mile trek from her palace just to find wee little Moses afloat in his little basket. What a joke!! But then, lo and behold, a summer palace was discovered a few hundred yards from where the Jews lived!! Anyone hear any skeptics voicing messages of humility, and wondering whether the new evidence might shake their faith? Nope, just dead silence, as they continued their fevered efforts on the holy grail — the origins of life projects that have produced such a null set of results. Lets do a balanced scorecard — a side-by-side evaluation of the progress made in biblical archaelogy vs. origins of life and explaining the pathway for life as we know it, shall we??

  27. 27
    tribune7 says:

    I would say that I thought all deists had to be IDers;

    That’s how I figure it too — although technically you don’t have to be one to accept ID.

    I personally have no problem if I don’t have a soul,

    Oh, but what if you do?

  28. 28
    new.atheist says:

    Shaner; you’re right, it is better to say “It’s just that the more one learns, the more one also learns how the Bible isn’t meant to be taken literally.”

    When I speak of natural vs. super-natural, I’m saying that anything super-natural is, to put it most simply, anything that would break the laws of physics. The idea of a deity (as I see it) is that he is all-powerful, and therefore super-natural (above the natural laws of the universe). I’m not saying the cause for this universe doesn’t lie outside of this universe, I’m saying I don’t believe that the laws of this universe can be broken from within this universe.

    How do I define best without a god?… I dunno how “best” is defined with god, even after the rules laid down in the “divinely inspired” books, it’s still hard to always tell what’s “best.” Personally I try to live by; treat others as you’d prefer to be treated, and never stop learning.

    And Ekstasis; I don’t think that the Bible doesn’t contain some history, but what I see is the bible is a mash up of history and allegorical stories told to illustrate points, instead of to be taken literally. People who write down stories of history often tend to exaggerate, often tend to tell just their side/opinion, and often aren’t writing it down as it happened. So I don’t think history happened exactly as it was written down in the bible, (it’s still the case today, with all the media available, that not everything is reported/recorded accurately). And I definitely don’t believe any of the “history” written in the bible was really super-natural in nature. People used to (and still do) make up stories of the super-natural to explain what they couldn’t otherwise explain.

    I don’t doubt that much archaeological evidence for events/places in the bible and of Jewish or Christian tradition to be found. (I watch way too much of the history channel not to http://www.history.com/shows.d.....;Id=274739) But none of that evidence will ever prove god actually ever spoke directly to anyone. That’s what faith is for. If you had proof of god, it wouldn’t be faith.

  29. 29
    new.atheist says:

    What if I do have a soul? Then I’ll find out when I’m dead. I’m not totally object to the idea; sometimes I think what if my soul gets to continue exist in a parallel universe? I honestly don’t think what I believe will have any bearing on what will actually happen when I die. And if I do have a soul, I would think so do birds, dogs, cats, trees, and all other life.

  30. 30
    DaveScot says:

    new.atheist

    A prudent person hedges their bets. The downside being an atheist and being wrong about it might be pretty painful. The downside of being a theist and being wrong about it is no harm.

  31. 31
    franky172 says:

    DaveScot
    A prudent person hedges their bets. The downside being an atheist and being wrong about it might be pretty painful. The downside of being a theist and being wrong about it is no harm.

    Of course, this assumes that you’ve chosen the right God, and that God respects “hedging one’s bet” as a foundation for belief, amongst other problems.

  32. 32
    DaveScot says:

    franky

    It’s still better than nothing.

  33. 33
    jmcd says:

    So an atheist who adhered to the teachings of Christ would go to hell whereas someone who aknowledged Jesus as divine, led a generally crummy life, but repented will go to heaven?

  34. 34
    DaveScot says:

    jmcd

    According to some, that’s correct, but don’t look at me for confirmation. I don’t believe that’s correct. I think trying to walk the walk is more important than talking the talk. But if you’re already walking the walk then talking the talk doesn’t take much extra effort. Better safe than sorry.

  35. 35
    franky172 says:

    DaveScot
    It’s still better than nothing.

    Unless the real God is jealous, and frowns upon those who believe in different gods more than those who lack belief…

  36. 36
    Ekstasis says:

    jmcd,

    I would agree with DaveScot, walking the walk is most important. However, we get into a bit of a paradox, because if we do everything right, but refuse to acknowledge God as a result of pride, we just lost out on the most important component of the walk. In other words, I suspect God will be much more understanding of sincere struggles with belief than he will with willful disobedience.

    Check out this bible verse that many Christians tend to forget:

    “3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2

    Wow, we are in for a very rude awakening if we think that our “profession of faith” in 4th grade summer camp is going to get us to where we want to go, if we are living self-centered lives, doing whatever we want to do. A true self-inspection would benefit everyone one of us, regardless of our theology. It gets me up in the middle of the night, I can tell you.

  37. 37
    new.atheist says:

    DaveScot:

    If there is no god; the religious have waisted a lot of their lives praying to nothing (aside from believing lies). If there is a god, you have to be sure you’ve got the right one & then that he likes you. I can’t say where I’ll be for eternity, but I’ll be able to say I spent my living Sundays living life with family/friends/nature instead of inside listening to stories of the past. (If other people think that spending their Sundays at church gives them a sense of living life & community, I really can’t object to that too much.)

    You may think god is “better than nothing” but that doesn’t sound like true faith; that sounds like just trying to cover your (supposed) immortal ass. I don’t think I could just start believing in god just like I couldn’t start believing in Santa again. It’s not a matter of pride really. I don’t say to myself “I can do it on my own, I don’t need god,” It’s more “I don’t see god, so I guess I’ll have to do it on my own.”

    Some say god helps those who help themselves. I like think people help each other when they see one of their own struggling.

  38. 38
    littlejon says:

    Surely possible that the old Pascal’s wager is worse than nothing; lets say that one of the old lot were right, say that Thor is overall in charge. Now let’s say that Thor has one rule “worship me” and another “don’t worship anyone else”. Now atheists have only broken the first rule, whereas Christians have broken both. I reckon you’ve got more chance of slipping past a God you’ve just ignored than one you’ve annoyed by chanting to other deities. Conceivably the conclusion is that it may possibly be best to think for ourselves…

  39. 39
    kvwells says:

    Sorry to be dense, folks, but allow me to illustrate question:

    Ed (not his real name) grows up in a mansion as a the son of a wealthy father. He never meets his dad face to face . As a questioning teenager he begins to believe (because of preference borne of “absent father syndrome”, shallowness, indoctrination by peers, whatever) that his mother is lying to him and that he doesn’t have a father.

    Now my question:

    If he were to recieve a letter from his father, what mental exerecises would he have to go through to accomodate one of the following reactions?

    A. continue to deny his father’s existence.
    B. reject his former mindset and accept this newfound relationship.
    C. maintain a guarded skepticism pending further evidence.

  40. 40
    kvwells says:

    37. littlejon

    Pascal understood that the bible teaches that even (especially?) the devil is a Theist. The idea behind Pascal’s wager is that one is potentially gaining more and risking less by striving to know God, than by pretending Him out of existence. Of course one can imagine a malevolent god/gods who could or would create the universe we live in. After all, our imagination is not limited by our ignorance.

  41. 41
    tribune7 says:

    new.atheist –What if I do have a soul? Then I’ll find out when I’m dead.

    Don’t you think you should put some effort into finding out now? It’s kind of an important question.

  42. 42
    tribune7 says:

    Surely possible that the old Pascal’s wager is worse than nothing; lets say that one of the old lot were right, say that Thor is overall in charge.

    The funny thing is that it is more rational to believe in Thor than it is to think we all came about by happenstance.

    Still what you say is interesting, not so much in the subtance but in the asking.

    The prime reason for the existence of science and the glory of Western Civilization is the rejection of arbitrary and unfair gods of the pagan world. Boniface chopped down the tree and reason was the victor.

    Now those arbiters of science and reason, pretenders though they are, cite paganism as support for their cause.

  43. 43
    shaner74 says:

    New.atheist wrote:
    “If there is no god; the religious have wasted a lot of their lives praying to nothing (aside from believing lies).”

    IMHO, if there is no God, then there is no such thing as “wasting” your life, because what you call your life is totally meaningless in the grand scheme of things. We are all just meat – products of randomness sifted through natural law. I choose to live my life as if there is a God with full knowledge I might be wrong about it because if I am, it doesn’t matter anyway. I mean honestly, what goal is the atheist working towards? A “better” life for future blobs of matter they will never have knowledge of?

    Tribune7 wrote:
    “The funny thing is that it is more rational to believe in Thor than it is to think we all came about by happenstance.”

    I agree. We aren’t talking about making a simple mistake like thinking that the sun revolves around the earth. No, we’re speaking about something containing billions of neurons just “happening” to pop up from mindless matter due to chance and time. No way. I’ll pray to Thor long before I give Darwin the time of day. I think Thor would admit his hammer was designed.

  44. 44
    Ekstasis says:

    new atheist,

    “I can’t say where I’ll be for eternity, but I’ll be able to say I spent my living Sundays living life with family/friends/nature instead of inside listening to stories of the past.”

    The point is not to listen to stories from the past. The spiritual truths are awesome and for the present. I guess I would put it this way, even if there was no God, I find the enduring spiritual principles from the Bible are far more beneficial, powerful, applicable, relevant, and useful for living today than any hollow words of guidance or instruction I have heard proceed from the mouth of atheism or secular humanism or materialism or whatever “ism” is in vogue at the moment.

    Problem number two of your thesis is that you hold out an empty promise. What I mean is that, when I go to a house of worship, I find genuine love, joy, and inner peace. On the way back home, at those rare times I stop by a Starbucks or restaurant or mall, I find a lot of depressed looking people feeding their selfish natures. Oh sure, in theory you are right, people could spend their time and effort connecting with one another, enjoying nature, etc. But sadly, that aint what happens. Instead it becomes, for the most part, the colossal mindset of the day — “its all about me”!! That’s just reality.

  45. 45
    tribune7 says:

    What I mean is that, when I go to a house of worship, I find genuine love, joy, and inner peace. On the way back home, at those rare times I stop by a Starbucks or restaurant or mall, I find a lot of depressed looking people

    I notice that too.

  46. 46
    new.atheist says:

    Since you asked;
    Tribune: I don’t really think there is any way to find out if we have a soul except when we die. Postulating about it doesn’t do much for me.

    Shaner: I love it- yes we are all meat. I assume you’ve seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaFZTAOb7IE
    So, I guess you have a point; if there is no god, how can we really waste our lives? I do wish to live my life in such a way as to leave a better place for the future blobs of matter to experience “life.” Why should I care? Because I wish others had done the same for me. Being an atheist is still not something I consider a choice; it just makes sense to me.

    I do understand that many people do get something out of going to church. I did sometimes. But more often, I was just bored with church. Everyone is a bit different, and you can’t say that anyone else in this world might find inner-peace going to church, or synagogue, or the movies, or a psychiatrist. And, while you talk about those miserable souls at Four-bucks coffee, I always think about the miserable people honking at each other as they race to leave the church parking-lot after service.

    Everyone finds happiness in different things, and instead of feeling sorry for those “depressed looking people” I smile and try to make conversation in line. It’s amazing how often that smile spreads.

    While many have said “god is love,” even without god, I still see love, and it’s importance in every-day life.

  47. 47
    mike1962 says:

    new.atheist: “When I speak of natural vs. super-natural, I’m saying that anything super-natural is, to put it most simply, anything that would break the laws of physics. The idea of a deity (as I see it) is that he is all-powerful, and therefore super-natural (above the natural laws of the universe). I’m not saying the cause for this universe doesn’t lie outside of this universe, I’m saying I don’t believe that the laws of this universe can be broken from within this universe.”

    There are no such things as “natural laws.” That is simply a name humans give to things we perceive as regular happenings that have not been explained at any deeper level, such as gravity, electroweak, and strong nuclear. The supernature vs nature dichotomy is merely one of dependence.

    With regards to “nature” vs “supernature”, nature as we perceive it (so far) would be dependent on supernature which we cannot perceive. An event in supernature may look like a “miracle” in nature but it would be wrong to say it “violates” nature. Things “naturally” do what they do according to their nature unless interfered with by something else. For example, a body in motion will remain that way, until interfered with from an opposing force. Our fundamental “forces”, gravity, electroweak, and strong nuclear, act the same way, that is, they do what do until acted upon by another force which may be more fundamental than those forces.

    Imagine constructing a virtual reality within a computer with various “forces” acting according to the particular nature you have determined. You set the program running, and it does it’s thing. However, you are free at anytime, being outside the constraints of this computerized virtual reality, to tweak, alter, start, stop, and otherwise “violate”, the state of this virtual reality as you see fit. If we define “miracle” as a “violation” of “natural law”, you could arbitrarily cause “miracles” to occur within the virtual reality. What makes this possible is that the “nature” of the VR depends on a more fundamental “supernature” reality in which you and the computer exist, but would be utterly unknown to the processes of your virtual reality. From the perspective of any virtual people (or processes) inside the VR, “miracles” have occured. But from your view no miracle has occured. Just natural events in the broader Reality.

    Now, this may not be occuring in our case. Maybe we live in the most fundamental reality. It’s impossible to know, unless someone(s) from the greater nature (supernature) decided to make him/her/itself known to us. But the idea of the possibily “miracles” (“violations” of the otherwise regular action of forces within our spacetime) from our viewpoint within spacetime is certainly a rational one. And any outright rejection of the possibiliy is not rational, but emotional.

  48. 48
    new.atheist says:

    There are no such things as “natural laws.”
    Maybe I used the wrong word? How about the super-natural would be anything that worked against/outside of the physical constants of the universe?

    “But the idea of the possibily “miracles” from our viewpoint within spacetime is certainly a rational one. “
    It is only rational if you’ve got some evidance. Otherwise, the most rational explanation for anything that seems to be a “miracle” is coincidence, deception, or “we just don’t understand enough about our universe yet.”

    In my opinion; it is an emotional response to conclude that there is someone on the outside of our universe that cares about any of us enough to interfere.

  49. 49
    tribune7 says:

    Tribune: I don’t really think there is any way to find out if we have a soul except when we die.

    new.atheist, why would you think that?

  50. 50
    new.atheist says:

    new.atheist, why would you think that?

    From all I know; we are just big bags of chemical processes. Throw in some extra chemicals, or cut out a piece of the brain and you change a person’s personality; the essence that we know to be them. Perhaps one day humans will figure out a way to test if there is a soul beyond our bodies; but I’m not expecting it to happen in my lifetime.

  51. 51
    tribune7 says:

    Perhaps one day humans will figure out a way to test if there is a soul beyond our bodies;

    How can you test for something that’s immaterial?

  52. 52
    new.atheist says:

    How can you test for something that’s immaterial?

    Not my area of expertise. Perhaps it’s more like energy? (Energy isn’t material; but we can still test for it.) Or perhaps it’s just not there and we’ll never be able to prove that. *shrug* Like I said; I’ll just live my life the best I can & find out for sure when I die; just like everyone else.

  53. 53
    tribune7 says:

    Like I said; I’ll just live my life the best I can & find out for sure when I die;

    I’m certain I have a soul and I’m certain you have one. But if you’re not sure why be an atheist?

  54. 54
    Patrick says:

    How can you test for something that’s immaterial?

    Assuming such a thing exists we might not be able to interact with it directly and manipulate it but we might be capable of observing its effects on normal matter. Perhaps “souls” are energistic imprints of formulated neural arrays onto a dimensional substrata that can interact to varying degrees.

    Yes, I have been reading way too much SciFi. 😛

  55. 55
    new.atheist says:

    But if you’re not sure why be an atheist?

    Just because I’m unsure of the idea of a soul doesn’t mean I still don’t believe in a god. Totally different concepts.

  56. 56
    tribune7 says:

    Patrick — Assuming such a thing exists we might not be able to interact with it directly and manipulate it but we might be capable of observing its effects on normal matter.

    I think you may have something there.

    Observe the effects that the people who claim to have souls and who behave in ways traditionally thought to be good for the soul have on those around them and compare it to the effect of those who claim not to have souls or behave in ways traditionally thought to be bad for the soul.

    Record the results.

  57. 57
    mike1962 says:

    new.atheist: “It is only rational if you’ve got some evidance. Otherwise, the most rational explanation for anything that seems to be a “miracle” is coincidence, deception, or “we just don’t understand enough about our universe yet.”

    I didn’t say miracles were most likely, or that they even occur. Only that the possibility of them is a rational idea.

  58. 58
    new.atheist says:

    I didn’t say miracles were most likely, or that they even occur. Only that the possibility of them is a rational idea.

    In that sense; you are saying the possibility of anything is a rational idea. It’s rational to think that everything I know of life is all a figment of my imagination as I lie in a coma? It’s rational to think that dogs talk when people aren’t around? It’s rational to think that I could fly if I thought about it enough?

    I think you need to look up the definition of “rational” and “reasonable.”

  59. 59
    mike1962 says:

    new.atheist: “In that sense; you are saying the possibility of anything is a rational idea.”

    Not quite. Nonsense is certainly not possible. For an object to be A and non-A at the same time violates reason. For the “forces of nature” to be overriden by an event in a more fundamental reality upon which this spacetime depends is not logical nonsense. It is easy to see how it is possible.

  60. 60
    DaveScot says:

    new.atheist

    I’ll be able to say I spent my living Sundays living life with family/friends/nature instead of inside listening to stories of the past

    LOL – you’ll say it to who? You’re an atheist and if you’re right you won’t be saying anything to anyone after you’re dead.

    The next flaw in this argument is presuming that friends/family aren’t in church with you on Sunday morning. This is usually NOT true as families usually attend church together and most people who attend church also have friends within the church. This makes me doubt you’ve ever actually been a member of a Christian church as the social aspects of getting together with friends and family is one of the major attractions.

    On the nature part, I’ve been to many church functions held outdoors although typically not Sunday morning services but even there there are exceptions.

  61. 61
    DaveScot says:

    Patrick

    Yes, I have been reading way too much SciFi.

    There’s no such thing as reading too much SciFi!

  62. 62
    kvwells says:

    @ new.atheist

    Part of this talking past one another is perhaps an unwillingness to acknowledge the validity of others ways of knowing. The materialist is driven by a need to understand everything, including how he knows things.

    There is no difference in principle between scientific measurements today and the ancient Sumerians weighing out silver using a balance. This is all of science: measuring physical properties.

    Now, Ask a materialist how much love he has for someone and he may try to do a ‘blood hormone count’ or measure brain activity or something, rather than admit there is no scientific answer.

    Most people (especially this time of year in the west) will admit that what they most desire is a steady supply of exactly what the materialist claims are only illusions: Faith, Hope, and Love. People kill themselves every day for lack of them.

    (BTW- this relates to the soul/spirit debate because these attributes/qualities exist as realities in the same “place” and in a similar way.)

    I categorically reject the idea that these are only illusions based simply because science can’t access their properties. I can see and sense their effects. And I “feel” them in a way that only partially involves my physical body.

    This is the reason why one will never convince a determined materialist of the existence of any reality that is not at least (in principle) scientifically measurable . Simply because how one knows about this reality is not within rational comprehension.

  63. 63
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