Re: Steven J's Oct 07 POTM nomination should be abandoned; filled
- From: tension_on_the_wire <tension_at_home@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2008 17:52:05 -0800 (PST)
On Nov 22, 12:47 pm, T Pagano <not.va...@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
[This is a repost of a Post of the Month nominee for October 2007
written by Steven J in response to Martinez with some criticism]
On Oct 28, 4:54 pm, Ray Martinez <pyramid...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
-- [snip]First, even Darwin was not "pro-atheist;" he privately declared
The objective meaning and understanding of 'evolution' (within the
context of the Creation-Evolution debate since Darwin) means that God
was not and is not involved in any biological production. Darwin's
proposal, within twenty years of publication, achieved scientific
paradigm change from pro-Creationism suppositions to the pro-Atheist
suppositions of Materialsim-Naturalism.
himself an agnostic,
Neither Steven J nor anyone else has shown that there is any practical
difference between affirmative rejection (atheism) and opining that
acceptance is beyond our ability to know (agnosticism).
You are correct, in my opinion, that atheism can be defined as
affirmative rejection of the concept of God, but I do not agree with
your definition of agnosticism. Agnostics do not claim that
"acceptance is beyond OUR ability to know". Agnostics don't claim
anything at all, and are defined by firmly sitting on the fence of
this issue. At the most, they might say "I cannot accept", or "It is
beyond MY ability to know". But they make no generalized statements
about whether it is possible for humanity to know and they have no
creed implying that. By definition, they are those who cannot decide
on the issue. They are torn. And if they, like Darwin, care deeply
about these things, they might go for years, decades, wondering and
pondering about all the various tenets and principles you have
mentioned below without actually coming to the point of not believing
anymore that God exists, and until that point, THEY ARE NOT ATHEISTS.
And you cannot force them into that category just because your own
position is that unless they accept the whole cosmology lock, stock
and smoking barrel, then they don't believe enough therefore they
don't believe at all.
And anyway, what does that mean, "Acceptance is beyond our ability to
know"? Acceptance is a condition or state of mind which a person
either experiences or does not. It is not a concept which needs an
ability to know. If what you meant to say was "The existence of God
is beyond our ability to know", then please insert it in the various
appropriate places in the above.
In your statement you claim, it seems, that it needs to be shown that
there is a PRACTICAL difference between the two groups. I'm not sure
why their personal lifestyles are relevant to their belief status
except as an indicator of the depth of their commitment to that
belief. Since there are slackers of commitment in all groups
including Christians, who might call themselves nominal <insert
religion> members, I don't see why the practical lifestyles of
atheists or agnostics comes into the question at all when it comes to
distinguishing between those states of belief or non-belief.
There are many Christians who live the lifestyle of someone who
believes in nothing at all. There are many atheists who live the
lifestyle of someone who believes in accountability and a day of
judgment just because they believe in the arbitrary goodness of
morality. And this is leaving aside the entire category of
hypocrites. And agnostics might do either and you could never know
the difference. The fact is that regardless of where Charles Darwin
resided on the matter of his own beliefs, he lived the life of a
decent upstanding son-in-law of an Anglican Minister, and whatever
"practical" differences due to his "agnosticism" or "pseudo-atheism"
you would like to assign, they were small enough not to create a
personal scandal. He never came out and made any stands against God
or religion, and never made his work the subject of a campaign against
the Church. It was done by others who took his cause and used it for
their own purposes. Not very different from those who have taken the
arguments for Intelligent Design as an excuse to further their own
agendas and hence given the entire concept a distinctly distasteful
odor, more to their shame.
only difference is pschological: the former revels in his positon
while the latter hides behind it.
In any event they both (atheists and agnostics) live as if the dogmas
of theology are false.
You have no evidence for that. You know not at all how many agnostics
live within the Christian church, going faithfully every week, and
wondering as hard as they can whether they really believe all this or
is it all a load of dingo's kidneys.
Darwin made crystal clear in his autobiograhy
that his Faith in a personal God and the objective Truths found in
Scripture where no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the
Please note that saying his Faith is not to be trusted is one way of
saying that he has no evidence for his Faith. Please also note,
however, that this is also saying that his Faith still existed, though
it was not to be trusted as he had no evidence. Please note, also,
that Christianity is founded upon the concept of faith without
evidence. The fact that he made this realization was, indeed, one
step towards his agnosticism, but not evidence of atheism at all.
Quite the opposite.
and publically announced that he saw no reason
that his theory should overturn anyone's faith (he also refused to
have a genuinely pro-atheist book by Marx's son-in-law dedicated to
Darwin's autobiography says otherwise.
Even a few quotes from Darwin's autobiography show that Darwin
disbelieved in the very basis of Christian theology at least 20 years
before he published "Origin of Species." Darwin's theory was
specifically offered to introduce law and chance as an alternative to
Christian dogma which he believed untrustworthy.
That is a somewhat scurrilous accusation to make against someone who
spent five years collecting evidence for his "alternative to Christian
dogma". You are suggesting that he made up the theory in order to
spite Christianity and then went around for five years on the Beagle
falsifying evidence to support it. What, exactly, would you expect a
man to do if he started to honestly doubt his faith on account of what
his eyes were telling him? NOT search for an alternative
explanation? Because it might look later as if he had just searched
it out as a convenient excuse to trumpet his doubt out loud? I'm
sorry to disappoint you, but that is a bit disproportional and it
really doesn't take a five year voyage to discredit Christianity and
he could have done it sitting on his favourite armchair in England if
that was his main aim, just by tearing the scriptures apart as has
been done by countless atheists since. He didn't need to go to all
the lengths of discovering one of the most elemental laws in
biological speciation all just for the sake of saying, "nah, this
Christianity, there's nothing in it". That would be the most
ridiculously disproportionate attempt at rationalization I've ever
heard of, except perhaps the one about weapons of mass destruction.
Darwin wrote in his autobiography:
"But I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 to 1839, to see that
the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of
"...and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more
incredible do miracles [like those performed by Jesus] become,..."
He would not have been the first theist or agnostic to contemplate the
idea that God might work using the laws of nature He invented FOR THE
PURPOSE, rather than by a much less elegant insertion of the Sacred
Finger from time to time to tweak the works of creation using
"miracles". Which was, I thought, the real gist of Steven J.'s post
which I would renominate if it would make any kind of point.
"...the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneously
with the events,--that they differ in many important details, far too
important, as it seemed to me, to be admitted as the usual
inaccuracies of eye-witnesses;--by such reflections as these, which I
give not as having the least novelty or value, but as they influenced
me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine
Darwin was a wise Christian, who came to the slow and certain
knowledge that the Bible is not divine revelation. In fact, it is
claimed to be divine inspiration anyway, not revelation, and there is
a world of difference between the two. It certainly allows for a great
deal of doubt as to the literal nature of its verses, and the
likelihood that a certain amount of metaphor might apply, if it were
not totally incorrect at any given point. He was also a wise
Christian who came to the slow and certain knowledge that the council
of Nicea was not the be-all and end-all for determination of what
scriptures would be canon, and what would be apocryphal.
Take note of the growing number of Christians who are now aware of the
contents of those "apocryphal" gospels and how they have changed their
view and approach to Christianity WITHOUT altering in any way their
belief in God, but only their belief in the NATURE of God. This might
make them heretics, in your view, but it does not make them atheists
or even agnostics, and nor does the statement you quoted above for
Charles Darwin. Saying one does not believe in Christianity as a
divine revelation is very specific and does not address his belief in
God, or Jesus Christ.
"There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic
beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course
which the wind blows."
This does not address belief in God. Design not being apparent or
discoverable is NOT synonymous with claiming there is no designer or
creator of nature.
So obviously by 1839 Darwin had come to believe, without reservation,
that that there was no personal God as taught by Christian theology
and as such there could be no necessity in a Creator.
So obviously, not one of the above quotations actually supports your
claim that Darwin believed there was no personal God at all, nevermind
without reservation, and also most certainly you have not demonstrated
that he felt there was no necessity in a Creator. Nowhere did he ever
make such a statement, and in fact, for all that you say about his
beliefs in 1839, I will give you a quote from "Origin of Species" in
his conclusion, published in 1859:
"Authors of the highest eminence seem to be fully satisfied with the
view that each species has been independently created. To my mind it
accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by
the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and
present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary
causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual."
And here is the very last sentence in that book which so many think is
a waste of time reading now that there is so much other work available
on the subject:
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers,
having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and
that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed
law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most
beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
Who, exactly, did you think he was referring to doing the breathing of
life into that few or one forms?
And the turn away from explanations in terms of miracles, and
the search for explanations in terms of natural causes, had begun,
even in biology, before Darwin set pen to paper. Indeed, the idea
that scientific explanations should be based, not on miracles, but on
the regular operations of natural causes established by God, had been
set forth by Christian philosophers back in the Middle Ages.
This doesn't address Ray's position but walks around it. Ray is
talking about a very narrow range of history and the shift in world
view of a class of people during that narrow period.
There is no debate that there was a furor over Darwin's work at the
time that did change public opinion and the paradigm surrounding the
people of that age. But it was not done by Darwin. It was done by
those who took his work to mean something it did not, and used it to
accomplish their own purpose. Kind of like what they did with atomic
theory in the Manhattan Project. Can't blame the guy that split the
atom for what other people would do with it, you know.
Furthermore Creationism admits very few miracles and is perfectly
consistent (and comfortable) with law and chance in nature. Where
creationism diverges from atheism is the limits of what of law and
chance can accomplish. Atheism makes the metaphysical claim that law
and chance can (and must) explain all events in space-time.
Lastly the very limited miracles that have been introduced are not
suspensions of law and chance but occur independently of law and
I do like your statement of how religion does not dismiss the idea of
law and chance in nature. However, it is one thing to suggest a
miracle occuring independently of law and chance, and another thing to
suggest a miracle occuring which defies law or chance. If there is
evidence that the sun was created before the earth, then you cannot
have a cosmology suggesting that "let there be light" resulted in
light being cast so that the earth could be seen all around. You
cannot have an earth which existed before the concept of day and
night. That is not a miracle independent of law, but a miracle in
direct violation of the law. God wrote the law. And the law allowed
for creation in the manner of the big bang without the need for any
law-breaking miracles, so for what purpose would God write those laws
only to arbitrarily and unnecessarily break them? Is God that
capricious? I understand if there is no other way, but when we have
found a way that encompasses those laws, there is no need for that
"miracle" being claimed. Is God so profligate and extravagant that He
would create these laws using massive and unbelievable amounts of
energy to run this universe only to toss them all at the Grand Moment
and say ah hell, "let there be light"? The only miracles that can be
allowed without this paradox are the ones that do not address or
contradict any known science. God made science. We cannot break
those laws, even if He can.
Any person who believes or accepts that God created the evolutionary
process, does not, of course, have any source for said view. Evolution
is bridled by God excluding Materialism-Naturalism presuppositions and
the Bible, of course, says and presupposes that life was a direct
product of Divine creation and power. Those who, nonetheless believe,
that God created by evolution would do well to ask themselves why all
Atheists rabidly defend evolution?
The last question is most relevent to Ray's position. Atheists
rabidly defend purely naturalistic evolution because it is consistent
with their world view. It is a world view which affirmatively rejects
God the Creator.
As you can see, that is not so. How is it that you can imagine a
Creator who could come up with Pi, Planck's constant, Avogadro's
number, the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden rectangle, relativity,
thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and particle physics, but you can't
handle the idea of a Creator who knew what He was doing when He
invented DNA and the principles of meiotic genetic exchange, and
mutation, and the ability of an environment to act on that DNA by
survival statistics? I mean, if I had to doubt something as being too
unlikely for God to have invented, it would at least be something as
outrageous as Dark Matter, String Theory or Hawking radiation, and not
the very simple math and easy to understand concepts behind evolution!
The only position left is that law and chance can
accomplish all things. However there is not even any theoretical
support let alone observational support for the claim that law and
chance are capable of generating the specified complexity of
biological systems and structures.
I must beg to differ that these are the only options. You are right
in suggesting, perhaps, that evolution cannot be the simple and only
explanation for the development of life in all its complexity. It's
very possible that there are still other genetic processes that are
awakened in a periodic or remitting fashion which cause huge leaps of
development in another process about which we are still unaware, and
which might very well explain phenomena such as the pre-Cambrian
explosion. But there is plenty and plenty of circumstantial evidence
for the processes of evolution in the speciaton of life and all that
does is confirm one of the most elegant inventions of the Creator that
there is. It does not prove that there is no need for the Creator.
Evolution can only act upon complete double-stranded meiotically-
mixing DNA, and we are still without an explanation as to how we got
that stuff here in the first place. We have not explained the
existence of life, even if we have explained a mechanism for the
changing of life. And in truth, I would submit that evolution should
not be regarded as the means of "creation", but the means of
"adaptability and sustainability" of Creation. There had to be some
system in there to keep life alive and thriving against changing
environments or we would all have gone extinct before Jesus ever got a
chance to save anybody.
- Re: Steven J's Oct 07 POTM nomination should be abandoned; filled
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