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Old 08-07-2014, 12:14 PM  
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Atheism vs Theism: A discussion between Dave and Eric

While I find myself enjoying formal debates (for nostalgic purposes), I agree with Dave that a discussion is more thought provoking and ultimately will go further on this topic.

To begin, let me identify myself when I use the term "theist". I grew up in a very strict religious household which I ran away from my senior year in high school. I identified myself as an atheist up until my sophomore year of college, when I read the Bible in its entirety following the death of my best friend. While I would argue that my belief in God and the Bible can be supported intellectually, scientifically, historically, and philosophically, I would concede that my "born-again" conversion was wholeheartedly an emotional one.

Notice I said scientifically. I love science. Even though I am a philosophy major, it was the scientific arguments for a transcendant being (or lack thereof) that got me interested in the theism vs. atheism debate. I would argue that the beauty of my specific belief (Christianity) is that our worldview is not defined by a specific theory of how life began. For the atheist, it's evolution or nothing. If Darwinian Evolution is debunked, then the atheist has precious little to lean on without invoking a designer. As a Christian, I would say that I'm agnostic on a lot of parts of macroevolution. There are a lot of questions that I have regarding the theory that seem to be unanswered. With that said, accepting the theory as true in its entirety would not affect my faith in the Bible in any way, shape, or form.

I've often said that the belief in a young Earth is about as scientifically literate as saying the distance between Texas and California is 6 inches. Francis Collins was a leader on the Human Genome Project and is on the National Institutes of Health. Alister McGrath is a molecular biophysicist who teaches at Oxford University. C.S. Lewis, is well, C.S. Lewis. What do all of these brilliant minds have in common? Not only are/were they all evengelical Christians, but all accepted the theory of evolution as true. It certainly does not contradict the Old Testament when read figuratively.

So with all of that said, now you have a basic background on my faith. What say you? Did you grow up in a household that was anti-theistic? At what age did you begin to question the belief in a higher power? And perhaps the most important question I could ask you throughout all of this, what evidence would it take for you to accept a theistic worldview?
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:05 AM   #46
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"eatin' pussy and kickin' ass" and preaching the bible. This place never changes~


You started my Saturday off on the right foot.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:08 AM
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:28 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by RNR View Post
"eatin' pussy and kickin' ass" and preaching the bible. This place never changes~
Hey, I never said I was a beautiful representation of what it's like to be a disciple of Christ. I think as a Christian, I'm a lot more fun than those fundies who spend their Saturday watching Kirk Cameron followed by a book club discussion on Ken Ham's latest picture book. While I do cuss, make crude jokes, and watch bad movies with f-words and boobs, I'd like to think I'm a decent person outside of the grade school routine.

I'm responding to Dave and WhiteWale's post right now.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:49 AM   #48
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Dave, thank you for your personal account on religion. It seems to me that you made an attempt to accept Christianity at one point in your life (albeit a young age), which is more than what many atheists I've talked to can say.

I find it interesting that it was the story of Noah's ark that sparked your doubts. Assuming that you grew up in a fundemendalist household that accepts the Old Testament as a literal account, I'm not surprised in the least bit. I think it's important to remember that many Christian churches in the United States, while not endorsing evolution (unlike the Catholic Church), wholeheartedly accept that Genesis is not a literal account of how God created the Earth. Moreover, through studying both scripture and scholarly work, I've come to accept that the Biblical Flood was actually local. An informed reading of Genesis does not permit or require a universal, global flood. On top of that, geology does not support a universal reading. A non-global interpretation does not undermine the lessons learned from the flood account that are pertinent to the life of faith. As a youth pastor once told me, it's vital to remember that the Bible is not a science book.

There are two things I want to make clear so far in this discussion.

1) A reminder that this is not Christianity vs. atheism. While biblical discussion is essential to understand a foundation of our faiths (or lack thereof), those disagreements usually tend to end with precious little getting accomplished. I have a presupposition that the Bible is the Word of God, and your presupposition points to it as being hogwash. By evaluating and dissecting the arguments for theism as well as atheism, I think we can fuel this discussion a lot further. For instance, the Kalam Cosmological Argument (which you've already shown your disdain for, and yet I'm sorry to say is unavoidable) is originally an argument for Islam. The Teleological Argument (my personal favorite) dates back to the very first monotheistic religion. The Moral Law Argument can be used to argue any theistic belief that includes objective moral values. The same thing goes for the Ontological Argument. The only arguments that are exclusive to Christianity that I would ever present to an atheist are Lewis's Trilemma, and the Historical Evidence for Christ's existence as the Son of God.

2) Discussing the theory of evolution seems a bit irrelevant for a couple of reasons. For one, I've already accepted the notion that if molecules-to-man evolution is absolutely true, it does not shake my faith one iota. Molecular biophysicist and theologian at Oxford University Alister McGrath has commonly stated in his lecture that the sheer complexity and chance of Darwinian evolution strengthens the theists argument as much as the atheists. Secondly, I absolutely admit that when it comes to many scientific topics, I am a layman. While I enjoy studying and learning about science, I am a philosophy major first and foremost and I believe that having a 5 page dialogue on evolution will get us nowhere.

I want to go back to the question I asked when finalizing my opening remarks. What evidence would it take for you to change your mind? Are you open to the possibility of "coming back to the dark side" at some point in your life? For instance, for famed British atheist Antony Flew, it was the the incredible complexity of DNA that opened his eyes. Flew stated before he died, “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” Flew also renounced naturalistic theories of evolution: “It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”

In Flew’s own words, he simply “had to go where the evidence leads. It seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before."
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:57 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by WhiteWhale View Post
A)Eric Fisher, what is the most convincing evidence or reality that convinces you your belief is true, and to follow up: do you consider this a knowledge or faith?
For me, it would be the Teleological Argument. Essentially, the vast complexity of our Universe and humanity. While an atheist could argue that such conveniences are merely chance, some examples of complexity make that hypothesis seem borderline impossible.

A common example I like to use comes from Professor John Lennox, a Christian philosopher and mathematician from Oxford University. He frequently cites this scientific fact in lectures, seminars, and debates. The ratio of electromagnetic force compared to gravity on Earth has to be accurate to 1 part in 10 to the 40 in order for us to have the chemistry to support carbon based life. To truly show just how improbable that is, Imagine that you covered the entire country of Russia with small coins and stacked them all the way to the moon. If you did this twice, colored one of the small coins red, blindfolded a friend, and then told him to pick one, the chances of him selecting the red one are about 1 part in 10 to the 40. This is the type of chance you would have to argue. Some chance right?
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:23 AM   #50
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Would you mind addressing my question please?

Thanks.
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:32 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Dave Lane View Post
Would you mind addressing my question please?

Thanks.
Yes, but then please refer to my 2nd subpoint in my last post.

The majority of my knowledge on evolution comes from high school and college biology classes. As I said, I am most certainly a layman on the vast majority of scientific topics. With that said, my post regarding the origin of life and the theory of evolution came almost verbatim from the Discovery Channel. Certainly not Answers in Genesis or the Institute of Creation Research.
http://curiosity.discovery.com/quest...beginning-life
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Evolutionary theory states that the original cell, which is the source for all life, spontaneously emerged from Earth's inert chemicals. However, even the simplest cell is quite complex. To be considered alive, an organism - - and thus a cell - - must:

• Have a cell wall

• Maintain its cell wall and grow

• Process food from outside itself

• Reproduce

Could such an organism really come about spontaneously from nonliving chemicals? It's possible that some sort of spontaneous creation occurred; some people say it could only have been supernatural creation.

Likewise, evolutionary theory says that a new species takes between 100,000 years and millions of years to evolve. However, this doesn't make sense. As Carl Sagan said in "The Dragons of Eden," human toes "are clearly evolved from fingerlike appendages for grasping and swinging, like those of arboreal apes and monkeys." This evolutionary process was only a respecialization, or the adaptation of an organ from one function to a different function, yet Sagan estimated it took about 10 million years to come about. How then, can every mammal have evolved from simple creatures like the Didelphodon over the course of just 65 million years, as evolutionary theory poses?

Scientists have found lots of support for different parts of evolutionary theory from fossils, as well as from insects and bacteria. However, these questions about evolutionary theory vex its supporters. Scientists constantly are trying to prove or disprove many aspects of the theory; it no doubt will continue to be modified as new knowledge is accrued. It's possible that new theories even will be proposed, based on new knowledge, to resolve some of the "loopholes" in current evolutionary theory.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:36 AM   #52
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I spent more than 30 years in the Christian church. The bible was always presupposed to be the word of God. At some point it became impossible for met to continue to work under that presupposition, and I lost my faith.

I believe there are real theological problems with accepting a molecules-to-man version of evolution. Anotomical humans have been around for 200,000 years, while recognized human behavior in our species is 50,000 years old. The God of the OT (if you discount the first 11 chapters of Genesis as "pre-story" revealed himself to Abraham about 4000 years ago. So God basically ignored humans for well over 90% of the time we've been around. If sin is such a bad thing that we need to be saved from (the whole basis of the Christian faith) then God sure took his sweet time doing something about it. It leaves me less than convinced that the bible is conveying truth.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:43 AM   #53
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The fine tuning of physical constants can be explained by the existence of parallel universes, many which do not have the correct physical constants to support intelligent life as we know it, and an infinite number of other universes that do. Max Tegmark's book "Our Mathematical Universe" describes this to a general-readership audience.
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:10 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by Eric Fisher View Post
Yes, but then please refer to my 2nd subpoint in my last post.

The majority of my knowledge on evolution comes from high school and college biology classes. As I said, I am most certainly a layman on the vast majority of scientific topics. With that said, my post regarding the origin of life and the theory of evolution came almost verbatim from the Discovery Channel. Certainly not Answers in Genesis or the Institute of Creation Research.
http://curiosity.discovery.com/quest...beginning-life
Well I did address it. See my prior post. I can link you to as many scientific papers or general discussions as you can stomach if that is a help to you.

It seems despite your statement that you didn't want to get into evolution, which I agree with by the way, we have veered there in your very next response.

So let's get some basics down and I want to make sure I have your agreement before we proceed.

1) Evolution does not in anyway attempt to address the origins of life. It seeks only to be the model which the diversity of life in based upon. All medical science is very dependent upon this being true or many of our treatments would be ineffective.

2) Abiogenesis is the study of how life may have arisen. This is your spark of life. Elements > molecules > RNA > proteins > long chain proteins to very simple self replicating molecules > DNA

I will put a general thought process of how this worked (I'll drastically redact it to 3-4 paragraphs) so you can follow it and not have your eyes roll back in your head. Its extremely complicated stuff and makes bible reading seem simple (I found the bible reading quite tedious and my mind had a hard time at that age to not wander, well maybe at this age too).

However you have not addressed my questions. How did you vet the information you copied? How did it become a belief? What were the steps that you took in your research that led you to make this a very formal and real belief in your worldview and mind?
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s

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Old 08-09-2014, 11:14 AM   #55
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Here's a very very short and non-scientific friendly bit on abiogenesis.

It is now widely agreed that at the origin of life there was not the current DNA/(RNA)/protein system for gene information on one hand and catalysis, regulation, and structural function on the other. It would beg the question, what came first, protein or DNA? Protein catalysis without gene information, which allows it to be maintained and propagated, is not sufficient in the long term, and DNA gene information without catalysis, necessary for the function of life, would be useless as well.

Instead, it is assumed that RNA acted as a precursor of both protein and DNA, in the sense that it can serve both as catalyst (like protein enzymes) and as carrier of genetic information. Even in the modern cell ribozymes (catalytic RNAs) still play a vital, albeit limited, role. In the ribosome, the synthesis of the peptide chains of proteins from RNA code is accomplished by ribozymes. They also catalyze splicing of RNA.

The hypothesis that a so-called RNA World was involved in the early evolutionary stages of life is now an almost universally held view (Joyce 2002, Orgel 2004, The RNA World 2006). Could this RNA World have stood at the ultimate origin of life? This is currently still an open question. The RNA system may be too complex to have arisen without synthesis by a genetic precursor or prior enzyme-less metabolism (options discussed below). Yet while there are still substantial problems, there are now good leads for simple, spontaneous processes on the early Earth for both the synthesis of nucleotides and their concatenation to oligonucleotides.
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 08-09-2014, 11:56 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by canoworms View Post
I spent more than 30 years in the Christian church. The bible was always presupposed to be the word of God. At some point it became impossible for met to continue to work under that presupposition, and I lost my faith.

I believe there are real theological problems with accepting a molecules-to-man version of evolution. Anotomical humans have been around for 200,000 years, while recognized human behavior in our species is 50,000 years old. The God of the OT (if you discount the first 11 chapters of Genesis as "pre-story" revealed himself to Abraham about 4000 years ago. So God basically ignored humans for well over 90% of the time we've been around. If sin is such a bad thing that we need to be saved from (the whole basis of the Christian faith) then God sure took his sweet time doing something about it. It leaves me less than convinced that the bible is conveying truth.
Either the timeline issued in the OT is a bit out of whack or should be read figuratively, or perhaps the story of Adam and Eve leading to the time of Abraham marks the point in which humanity was "worth" interference with from a higher power. Perhaps even the point in which humans were given a "soul".
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Old 08-09-2014, 12:07 PM   #57
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Either the timeline issued in the OT is a bit out of whack or should be read figuratively, or perhaps the story of Adam and Eve leading to the time of Abraham marks the point in which humanity was "worth" interference with from a higher power. Perhaps even the point in which humans were given a "soul".
Or perhaps it's all made up.
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High Tech is Sorcery and the people who are really powerful are literally telling people to commit crimes using the psychic interspace created by the WWW and Wireless. They are controlling peoples actions like drones . The two things are deeply intertwined. The more man's brain interfaces with machines the creepier it gets. They use brains separate from a human body in a supercomputer and you have The Image of the Beast. The military has been doing this since the 50s
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Old 08-09-2014, 01:08 PM   #58
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Or perhaps it's all made up.
That's not the point I'm trying to make; whether or not God exists or not.

My point is that there are things more questionable in religion that can make one doubt its validity than time scale errors.
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Old 08-09-2014, 01:27 PM   #59
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Hey, I never said I was a beautiful representation of what it's like to be a disciple of Christ. I think as a Christian, I'm a lot more fun than those fundies who spend their Saturday watching Kirk Cameron followed by a book club discussion on Ken Ham's latest picture book. While I do cuss, make crude jokes, and watch bad movies with f-words and boobs, I'd like to think I'm a decent person outside of the grade school routine.

I'm responding to Dave and WhiteWale's post right now.
Fair enough. You seem to be like the majority of Christians. Using the belief like a buffet picking and choosing which parts fit for you. It is the reason there are countless variations of the belief. I see you have it all figured out. Carry on and maybe after you finish here you can unite the religion~
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Old 08-09-2014, 01:29 PM   #60
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The thing about this topic that frustrates me the most is so many athiests think that a creator and science have to be mutually exclusive.

Like a creator couldn't create a SYSTEM wherin exists evolution, gravity, and other laws...

Ive spent a better part of my life as an Agnost...and for me people like Dave and Hitchins, who completely dismiss the spiritual or creator sieds of the argument and constantly try to 'convert' others and prove how 'stupid' they are for having a faith are just as laughable...heck...even MORE laughable than the Jehova or Mormon knocking on my door....At least the Jehova is honest and forthright....The athiest will look you straight in the face and say faith is stupid, all the while trying to 'convert' you to his faith...not seeing that he has just as much emotion and just as little logic, and is proselytizing every bit as much as the Jehova.

It's almost like extreme left wingers vs extreme right wingers, once you go around the circle from left to right it gets pretty hard to tell a NAzi from a Commie to a Fascist and basically it doesn't matter.

They're all bullshit.
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