Will the REAL Muslims please raise their hands

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~ As long as I can remember a debate has been raging at every level of Western Society when it comes to authenticity; everyone seems to think they are the true representatives of their particular belief system.

—) Fundamentalist Christians claim to be the true bearers of Christian doctrine

—) Progressive Christians claim to be the true bearers of Christian doctrine

—) Radical fringe groups like ISIS claim to be the bearers of true Islam

—) Non-violent (often Western) Muslims claim to be the bearers of true Islam

—) Peaceful atheists claim to be the embodiment of atheistic principles in action

—) Violent atheists like Stalin, Lenin, or the leader of North Korea claim that via atheistic philosophy they have the right to kill, murder, and torture anyone they desire

The list is virtually endless. At every facet of society we can find two opposing parties who each respectably claim a pigeon hold on “truth” when it comes to their belief system. More often than not these opposing claims are so radically different it is strange to even think that there is a discussion or argument going on.

Since I was raised in the Evangelical Christian community here in the United States I have had a front row seat to the often contentious and always ongoing debate between the progressives and the traditionalists, and the fact that I more often than not find myself in the middle as a moderate on many issues has put me between the crosshairs of some rather deadly venom from both sides of the fight.

In the United States we’re often told we can discuss anything except “politics and religion” as though our goal in life should be to squeak by with as few controversial conversations as possible, and then slowly fade off into the distance as we grow old and eventually die. However, living a life in which we hide from controversy or put off pursuing the truth seems like a rather dire and depressing philosophy. And if you ask me, I would much rather risk an uncomfortable conversation about serious issues as opposed to sitting in the dark and staring at the wall in silence.

I have a number of friends and acquaintances who get upset rather easily, say the wrong thing about a serious issue and you risk offending them. It is a difficult task to talk about serious topics without offending people. Jesus seemed to offend people at every turn even though he was more often than not trying to truly connect with others in a spirit of love.

Perhaps the issue is not whether we offend someone (intentionally or unintentionally) but rather that we make sure we are conveying our love for the other person. Isn’t that what matters most? If we truly love someone else, whether they are a stranger, a fellow blogger, or our best friend, than the majority of things that we say to them should be cloaked in a spirit of love and gentleness, right? I suspect that is what concerns me the most about so much of the arguments I see in real life and on the Internet; instead of gentleness and love, too much of the content is heavily drenched vitriol. Too often liberals and conservatives use sarcasm in a vicious manner, they say things that attack the very core of their opponents in a spirit of nastiness.

Of course, the debate will probably rage on until the end of time; who are the REAL Muslims, who are the REAL Christians, who REALLY represents what it means to live life as an Atheist, who are the REAL humanitarians? Perhaps the reasons the answers escape us is because there is no definitive answer. If the immediate descendants of Jesus, Mohammad, and other leaders were constantly in contention with each other, is it surprising that thousands of years later we are still bickering over these issues?

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society

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30 replies

  1. Kenneth, I think it tells you a great deal about how fleeting our identities are and how ridiculous the idea of being a “true” Muslim, Christian, or Atheist is. Right now, I’m the sleepy guy who hasn’t had his coffee yet. In a half hour, I’ll be a different guy; awake, caffeinated, and sociable. All of these descriptors are time bound and shouldn’t be mistaken for who I am.

    So, when we assert that we are Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, or Christian, these labels are descriptive, but not identifying. In the future, its not impossible that I won’t be very “Buddhist” at all. I could loose it and go steal a car, attack someone, or become a suicide bomber. If this were to happen, more than likely, people who know me would be surprised and say “this was such a shock, that’s not the Andrew that I knew”

    There is no such thing as a true Christian, a true atheist, or a true Muslim. Anyone who claims to be or points to an example of such a beast is mistaken. This is especially true of the people around which these institutions arose. Jesus was Jewish, Buddha was not a Buddhist, and Mohammed was not an Muslim.

    I think this flaw in how we view the world is at the root of the vitriol you are talking about. Our egos build up a cocoon of identity – we’re Buddhist, or a hipster, a traditionalist, or an ascetic. We take pride in this identity. When someone criticizes some aspect of our identity, it sparks rage. “We” – meaning our identity – is being attacked. When we’re attacked, we defend ourselves.

    But trade your religion descriptor with your caffeine level descriptor and suddenly it sounds ridiculous. Try this:

    All “Muslims” are crazy.

    now replace the descriptor

    All “caffeinated” people are crazy.

    The first statement carries with it an attack on the fastest growing population in the world. We look at the term Muslim as identifying.

    The second carries with it an observation about how people act when they’ve had coffee. It also introduces a hypothesis, that perhaps people should drink less coffee (yeah, crazy right). But it implies a temporary state – when we’re under the influence of caffeine.

    Maybe we should look at religion in the same way. People do wonderful things AND crazy things under the influence of religion. People get crazy when they strongly identity with a religion. People tend to be reasonable when they hear a positive religious message and decide to incorporate a little of it in their lives.

  2. As soon as anyone calls themselves a “true” anything…I am outta there!lol…They always go to the extreme and the heat that gets into their arguments, truly terrifying!

  3. Try this one for size. Who is betraying the original belief system. Since we do not even know the first ever we all are.
    Soon as we can get passed the issue of who is right about what or who created our world. Than we can look for a true religion.
    If by any change science is right than we were all animals before human. What would make any religion a creation of the mind.
    If it were true God created the world then we still have the issue of who came first. And we still fight about who is right.
    To look for answers is to ask questions, we now, still cannot answer or do not want to answer. And when we think we have an answers we go all mighty god ourselves and say we are right.

    Where is our humility, our humanity and our peace, when all we think about is fight with our pride, religion in hand as a weapon? Because that is how i think it is used these days. And I am pretty sure it was not meant as a weapon or reason to fight.

  4. Atheism means non belief in gods or a god. That’s it. One either is or is not an atheist based on the state of either believing there are gods or no compelling reasons to think believe otherwise. There’s no equivalency with the various shades of religious identities.

    Think ‘pregnant’ and you’ll grasp why including atheists in this ‘real or not real’ fiasco is a stretch (mark) too far.

    Associating totalitarian Dear Leaders with non belief in gods is to imply a link that is not true. Non belief in gods or a god is not a cause for totalitarianism. It is a non sequitur in the same way that linking mustaches to totalitarian leaders is not a cause for totalitarianism.

    • Tildeb,

      i don’t dispute your definition of atheism at all. However, who gets to have the final say regarding atheism and philosophy?

      There are atheists who believe that atheism means (emphasis on a practical behavioral application stemming from a belief in atheism) they can do whatever they want because there is no morality, no right or wrong. While on the other hand there are atheists who believe in a high level of morality and “right and wrong”.

      So which atheists are correct? The ones that posit “atheism = no morality” or those who posit “atheist = morality”. So you see, ultimately, we are left with a conundrum just as with religions; who REALLY represents ‘true’ atheism?

    • I have never met, read, or heard of any atheist who argues there are no moral considerations because there is no god. This idea is a fiction created by those who do believe in some god and then use that belief to justify the moral placement of actions extracted from it.

      What I have heard and seen atheists argue is that the standard – the authority of scripture – used for determining the moral placement of actions should have better reasons than ‘because this napkin has writing on it that says so.” How is the call for using good reasons as a standard for comparing and contrasting how moral or immoral an act may be a conundrum? It seems to me only believers have trouble with this notion.

    • Tildeb,

      unfortunately your personal experience regarding atheists is a bit antidotal and limited. Having worked in various forms of human service, having visited a dozen countries, and nearly all 50 U.S. states, I have met numerous atheists who have argued various forms of nihilism as being entirely rooted in their atheistic worldview. I have had atheists tell me that the only reason they don’t murder is because they don’t feel like going to jail, and that it has nothing to do with morality, and I was assigned an atheist as a client when I worked at the jail as a counselor who shot someone 5 times trying to kill them because as he said in his words, he ” got mad and felt like it”

      While I would agree that the great majority of atheists I meet are moral and upstanding citizens, I have met many atheists who do not fit the description of your personal experiences.

      I’m not sure what you’re literary and research background is, my masters degree is in liberal arts with a certification in global conflict and I have studied exhaustively nearly 20,000 books. Your thoughts, which are well articulated do not appear to be substantiated by any methodical study. It is as though you have never read a book by Albert Camus for you to say the things you say;

      –) An article by a nihilist who says that meaning does not exist http://www.anus.com/zine/articles/prozak/belief_in_nothing/

      –) Here the author suggests there is no such thing as a moral atheist, because there is no morality http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pastor-rick-henderson/why-there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-good-atheist_b_4442287.html

      –) Jeffrey Dahmer was an atheist who said, “if a person doesn’t think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges?”. he killed and ate 17 men and boys

      –) Albert Camus’ book “The Stranger” is the full embodiment of his belief that humans should do whatever they feel without any moral implications. Camus, something of an existentialist (though he said he wasn’t) claimed there is no morality, and that the only thing that matters for each individual is to have the courage to do whatever they feel they should do. So the protagonist in The Stranger murders, treats people like shit, and whatnot, all without feeling any moral guilt or anything of the sort.

    • Yes, faitheists usually attribute nihilism to atheism. That’s a non sequitur. Sure there are lots of atheists who are nihilists and lots of atheists who talk about morality as a purely human construct. But you assert that there are atheists “who believe that atheism means (emphasis on a practical behavioral application stemming from a belief in atheism) they can do whatever they want because there is no morality, no right or wrong.”

      What you are doing is attributing to atheism a causal set of principles that are not true in reality – meaning a “practical behavioral application” of these principles as a set – and calling this set a belief so that you can then say that atheists, like theists, can claim to be the belief’s “true representatives”.

      This is not so.

      First, there is no causal link. Atheism possesses no values, no principles of behaviour, no set of applications. Atheism simply means non belief in gods or a god. That’s it… no matter how much baggage you want to add to it.

      Second, there is no way for an atheist to be doing ‘it’ right when all ‘it’ means is non belief. Like many people, it’s handy for you to describe non belief as another kind of belief. Of course, that approach makes baldness a kind of hair style. But the fact of the matter is that atheism really is an either/or position that has no association with any other principles. There is only non belief to be a ‘real’ atheist; someone who believes in a god or gods is not by definition an atheist.

      Thirdly, this is why the nihilism part you wish to load unto the term ‘atheist’ is a non sequitur. A few befuddled people may claim atheism leads them to nihilism but people also claim to have been abducted by aliens and have talked to Jesus at the bus stop. Those claims don’t make it so. There is no link between what you claim people tell you is a cause called ‘atheism’ – non belief in gods or a god – and the supposed effect it produces called ‘nihilism’ – depending on which definition from the OED the person is referring to (your list uses several of the meanings as if equivalent).

      Because morality is a nebulous term, it’s no surprise that we define its spectrum using equally nebulous terms to describe its bookends of right and wrong. As you tell us, we have people who say they do not recognize these terms in their own decision-making process, so we are left wondering what standard for that spectrum – if any – these folk actually use. And the answer to this does not reside in theology or philosophy or metaphysics. It resides in the domain of biology and is demonstrable in the field of neuroscience. The ground of morality and ethics – right and wrong, good and evil – comes from the biological neural network that activates feelings we experience about fairness infractions. We call this sense ‘reciprocity’. There are excellent reasons for this sense to be part of our biology and not something that needs to be learned. With this understanding based on compelling studies from neuroscience, biology, psychology, and anthropology, I have a hard time believing that anyone not suffering from significant brain function impairment could conceivably have none of this genetic inheritance (and yes, we have a good idea how this inherited biological mechanism works). If I were you, I would be tempted to test the prisoner’s claims – or a philosopher of nihilism if handy – and take from them part of their meal and see if they undergo a biological reaction to the infringement of their reciprocal sense of fairness. I sincerely doubt they have no biological reaction to this infringement. There’s your standard for ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Just because they don’t admit to accepting the terminology, doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

      I am surprised you don’t sense any methodological study on my part. I am an avid reader of the advances being made in neuroscience. I have an excellent higher education including coursework in epistemology and ontology, which is why I am so critical of faith-based methodology (it has never produced any knowledge, which I take to be hint about its ontological value in its inquiry into and explanation about the reality we share… a failure rate even someone with advanced degrees should note when relying on it use for claims infused with confidence). I consider myself widely read and have areas of expertise academically and professionally as a well as an interest in respecting what’s true. For example, you tweaked my critical faculties: if you’re in your mid thirties, your claim about the number of books you’ve read I calculate to be about two thirds of a book a day since birth. That’s extraordinary. I cannot compete in quantity – I suspect few humans could – but perhaps I might be able to do so in quality of comprehension of what I have read.

    • “First, there is no causal link. Atheism possesses no values, no principles of behaviour, no set of applications. Atheism simply means non belief in gods or a god. That’s it… no matter how much baggage you want to add to it”

      I guess what I’m getting at by pointing out Camus, Dahmer, and the like, is that there are and have been Atheists who do not share your explicit definition on Atheism and what constitutes any/and-or-no philosophy that could be connected to it.

  5. I believe that everybody feels the need to be anchored at the focal point of ‘truth’ . . . . because in some way we ALL know that when it comes to spiritual matters none of us really know our asses from a hole in the ground . . . . and it’s scary . . . and we don’t want to admit it . . . so we follow a book, or a priest, or a guru, or anything EXCEPT the reality that the man in the mirror may just be as close as we can ever get on this planet to the mystery we call God. . . . .

  6. “If we truly love someone else, whether they are a stranger, a fellow blogger, or our best friend, than the majority of things that we say to them should be cloaked in a spirit of love and gentleness, right?”
    Right.
    Gentleness is not wishy-washy compromise with our understanding of truth. It is strength under the control of love.
    Looks like we’ve been pondering the same thing this week.

  7. ‘truth’ and ‘faith’ per se are simple concepts to comprehend but not until you join them to form ‘a truthful faith’ do you fully understand the deep waters you tread with these terms.But how such simplicity can transform into utter confusion and bloody one at that.
    The problem is that the terms represent perfect states applicable to imperfect beings ,in itself the equation provided can not ever be reconciled yet that is the challenge at hand.The only remedy i can think of is to change the approach and instead of yearning for absoluteness which we can not even perceive as we are we should seek growth and progress.The goal of having the truest faith should be abandoned all together and with the tools at our disposal , logic and morality behind us we should all converge at some point eventually like the proverbial rays through a convergence lens and as a result we will all enjoy a truer faith whatever that means to you.

  8. “Violent atheists like Stalin, Lenin, or the leader of North Korea claim that via atheistic philosophy they have the right to kill, murder, and torture anyone they desire”

    This part is wrong in many ways. I don’t think any of those guys explicitly said they have the right to kill, murder or torture anyone.
    Even if they did, they haven’t said it was based on atheistic philosophy.
    The link between Lenin, Stalin and Kim Jong-un (the leader of North Korea) is not atheism, but communism. They are different things.

    • To tildeb and Pooyaka – The fact that you have commented here to distance yourself from “the violent atheists” demonstrates Kenneth’s point: “everyone seems to think that they are the TRUE representatives of their particular belief system.” (Or non-belief system in your case.) There’s no shame in this. Of course you think that what you believe is true and best, otherwise you’d be a fool not to believe it. Similarly, a Christian could come on here and distance him/herself from the Crusades by pointing out that the popes who launched them were not following Jesus in doing so.

      I think Pooyaka comes closest to identifying the real problem in saying: “The link between Lenin, Stalin and Kim Jong-un…is not atheism, but communism.” I agree in principle. The problem is not our individual (non) beliefs, coexisting together. The problem is when those (non) beliefs, religious or secular, are imposed on a citizenry by the state. Government power always equals force. Apparently all human beings – liberal and conservative, religious and non-religious – have a tendency to impose their beliefs on everyone else once they obtain governmental power. (For the good of the people of course.) A recent clear example of this is the US Gov attempting to fine Hobby Lobby over a million dollars a day for refusing to provide employees with every type of birth control that the Administration felt they should. Atheists are no less prone to doing this than anyone else, as Kenneth’s partial list reminds us.

      Tildeb, of course atheists can cough up a subjective, utilitarian, morality based on their feelings. You sneer at religious people for relying on the authority of scripture, as though you know of a better authority. Morality must be based on value. The Judeo-Christian scriptures provide a basis for believing in the objective, intrinsic value of every human being. By contrast, the atheistic belief that humanity exists as the result of mindless, non-directed processes provides no such basis whatsoever. The implications of your beliefs are that you have no more value than a bacterium on a cockroach turd. Whereas I get to argue that you have innate value because you bear the image of your Creator, Who loves you despite your unbelief. (And I do think I have good and sufficient reasons for believing this.)

    • Did I suggest atheists were not capable of being violent? No, I didn’t. I distance myself from those who support any kind of Dear Leader who commands violence – no matter what the state of their belief. That’s not due to my atheism. That’s due to good reasons that stand on their own merit.

      Now look at the nonsense you are suggesting about non belief… as if it is another kind of belief. It isn;t. It is the absence of a similar belief. Take a moment and look at idea you’re trying to suggest. How can you rationalize that Not A is another kind of A? It’s nonsense. A non fish – like a bicycle – is not another kind of fish no matter how much you want it to be any more than non belief in a god or gods is another kind of god belief loaded with values. Atheism has no values. It is a statement about the absence of belief in gods or a god. That’s the sum total of the meaning of the word a-theism.

      You cannot impose non belief on anyone because there’s nothing there to impose. Sure, you can impose laws about churches and preaching and other ‘things’ and ‘actions’ but non belief isn’t any of these. It’s an absence.

      Secularism isn’t atheism. It is the division between the religious neutrality in the public domain. If you want freedom of religion, then you’d better be front and center supporting secularism and its obligatory neutrality. If you don’t then you cannot claim to support freedom of religion. When a government begins to privilege any religion in the public domain, then at the very least that is an erosion of freedom of religion. In the case of Hobby Lobby, the erosion is allowing a company to dictate terms of medical coverage. That’s an erosion of healthcare in the name of privileging religion. Why should someone’s religious beliefs be imposed this way on employees? On what good reasons that stand on their own merits? Well, the answer is none. There are no good medical reasons independent of the person’s religious beliefs. That’s religious privilege in action. It is an infringement on the employees reproductive health by impinging on their access to medical coverage because of such unrelated beliefs.

      How can you tell I sneer at anyone? Yes, I think those who pretend the books of the bible possess any kind of coherent and worthwhile moral guidance are fooling themselves. Such believers are easily shown to be using their own innate sense of fairness to interpret and cherry pick and select and discard whatever bits and pieces of various scripture best fits their moral standards and then typically try to claim divine authority for them. It an avoidance technique from being held accountable and responsible for their own morality. And the worst infraction are those who submit their own moral authority and autonomy to Divine Command Theory identical in every way to totalitarian submission. A perfect example is WL Craig’s apologetics for the slaughter of Canaanites to be moral because YAHWEH commanded it (the same apologetics for the slaughter of Jews to be moral because Hitler commanded it).

      There is no atheist belief about morals. Again and again and again faitheists impose on atheists this nonsensical notion of non belief beliefs. Yes, evolution has produced humans who come with an innate sense of reciprocity – the same sense you use to select what you consider moral – but the only difference is that atheists have no means to transfer responsibility for their morals away from themselves. That makes atheists morally autonomous…. even if some give this autonomy away to some other kind of Dear Leader and just follow orders. But we know this isn’t a defense that stands on its own merits but an indictment against those who do so regardless of their beliefs.

      When you speak of values you are speaking of human assessments that supply them. But note what you do: you transfer the comparison to be from made from some other source, some outside agency, that sees bacterium and humans as the same. I know of no person atheist or theist who pretends they have no values at all. Understanding evolution and the processes by which it occurs in no way alters how values are born and applied: by people. You deny this without evidence; instead, you just believe they POOF! into existence from some agency of Oogity Boogity and without such a belief in that causal agency then values cannot possibly be created and applied. That’s not rational; that’s a religious explanation divorced from reality.

  9. Tildeb – You wrote: “A non fish – like a bicycle – is not another kind of fish no matter how much you want it to be any more than non belief in a god or gods is another kind of god belief loaded with values.”

    No. I did not say non belief in god/gods is another kind of god belief. I’m saying it’s still a belief. You believe there is/are no god/gods. You’re a materialist. You’re not uncertain. Stating it in the negative – as non belief – doesn’t get you off the hook. You are stating a positive belief about the nature of reality – that it doesn’t include god/gods. From that positive belief flows inferences.

    You seem to have utterly misunderstood my point about value, (not “values.”) Value, as in: worth, importance, significance. I said “morality must be based on value” meaning that some things bear a great degree of value, and some things a lesser degree. Evolution (another inevitable, positive belief of yours) ultimately renders all things worthless. This certainly does dictate what you can rationally think about morality if morality has to do with worth/value. Please reread my last paragraph and your own last paragraph and get back to me. Pretty much every one of your sentences misstates what I said.

    • No. I did not say non belief in god/gods is another kind of god belief. I’m saying it’s still a belief. You believe there is/are no god/gods. You’re a materialist. You’re not uncertain. Stating it in the negative – as non belief – doesn’t get you off the hook. You are stating a positive belief about the nature of reality – that it doesn’t include god/gods. From that positive belief flows inferences.

      Nice try, but no. Non belief is not a belief no matter how gymnastic is your explanation.

      Flipping it into a positive statement is factually incorrect. I don’t know if there are any gods or a god but have absolutely no reason to conclude there is. My ‘belief’ as you describe my adduced conclusion is not the same meaning as your belief in a causal interactive divine agency. I am wide open to overturning my conclusion if I encounter compelling reasons to do so. I strongly suspect your religious beliefs are not similarly open to change because you didn’t reach your beliefs as a conclusion at all but started with them as premises to which you arbitrarily assign a truth value unrelated to any adduced evidence. That’s why religious beliefs are correlated with geography than they are any demonstrable truth value; you accepted this teaching first (which is why they are a priori beliefs based on faith and not post hoc based on evidence. You did not conclude the central tenets of your religious beliefs from compelling reasons adduced from reality but assumed them to be true contrary to compelling evidence from reality. That’s why your religious beliefs about causal agencies in our shared reality are not the same quality or kind as my conclusions adduced from it. Reality demonstrates that dead cells don’t reanimate, for example, because they can’t function once damaged beyond repair… damage we call cell death. You ‘believe’ otherwise and that belief is not tethered to reality. It is projected by you on to reality.

      You keep making the same mistake over and over again about evolution. You say Evolution (another inevitable, positive belief of yours) ultimately renders all things worthless. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t have anything to do with ‘rendering’ any kind of value statement. This is another imposition you are assigning incorrectly. People assign values. Understanding or failing to understand why evolution is true has nothing whatsoever to do with assigning values. Clearly, you don’t understand the explanatory model called ‘evolution’. The Good News! is that this deplorable state can be rectified. The bad news is that it reveals that Jesus apparently died a horrible death as a blood sacrifice for a metaphor and you’ll have to wrap your apologetics around that disturbing news.

  10. To tildeb, who wrote: “Non belief is not a belief no matter how gymnastic is your explanation…There is no atheist belief about morals. Again and again and again faitheists impose on atheists this nonsensical notion of non belief beliefs.”

    Here’s why I think your argument is wrong:
    What you’re saying is true in some instances, but not in regard to the most fundamental questions about our existence, such as “Are we here as an accidental result of natural, mindless, non-directed processes?” For instance, I have an “absence of belief” in unicorns. I’m open to changing my state of nonbelief should we discover some reliable evidence for unicorns, (such as fossil evidence.) But until then, my nonbelief has zero impact on my worldview or my understanding of love, free will, human worth, purpose, death, afterlife, etc. The question of unicorns is simply not fundamental. This cannot be said about nonbelief in the God of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. You’re deluding yourself if you think denial/disbelief in the God of the Bible does not necessarily impact your understanding of those aspects of our existence I just listed. That’s like a trapeze artist claiming that a non-belief in gravity has no bearing on how he lives.

    You also wrote: “You cannot impose non belief on anyone because there’s nothing there to impose.”
    Really? What if the state requires young school children to be indoctrinated with a materialist/atheistic/evolutionary belief system, while outlawing theistic viewpoints which the state deems to be “anti-scientific” and “subversive”? China still does this. The USSR used to. North Korea probably still does, but who knows what the hell is going on there.

    “New Atheists” like Dawkins and Harris proselytize and evangelize for atheism, while teaching intolerance of theism, with as much ferver and falsity as any religious dogmatist ever did. (I’m happy to provide you with examples.) They may not be “imposing” non-belief, but they are certainly advocating it. If there is “nothing there to impose”, are you also saying there is nothing there to advocate for?

    • Although your fundamental questions (usually referred to as why are we here in this place at this time, and is there some purpose to my life) doesn’t mean there is some universal answer to them or any means to know before life is lived what that answer may be. Theists just stick something in there, which is why there is such a very wide variety to be found from the various religious traditions. What we do know is that not all of them can be correct (because many conflict with each other) and so we have very good reasons to think none of them are correct because reality does not provide compelling support. For example, without specific religious instruction, there is no way for you to ‘arrive’ at your religious beliefs from what reality provides us because reality looks and behaves exactly as if there was no overseeing benign interventionist purpose-giving guiding agency. Reality looks and behaves as if everything it contains was subject to this indifference in the way a water current cares nothing about whatever may be affected by it. Your religious presumptions and beliefs stand contrary to this ample evidence how this reality seems to operate indifferent to what is affected by these operations. I think it takes a fair bit of hubris to think otherwise.

      And we do have very good explanatory models how this reality seems to operate… not based on belief or our preferences or how we wish reality were but on harnessing the described forces and process that seem to work the same for everyone everywhere all the time and utilizing them to power our applications, therapies, and technologies quite successfully. These products stand as testament to the accuracy of the explanatory models based on these indifferent forces and processes. You can’t just wave this fact away and pretend these processes work because some people believe they do. Throw a believer and a non believer off the roof at the same time and they will fall at the same rate. Gravity is indifferent.

      There is exactly zero evidence for any intervention or causal effect by any divine agency in any of these ongoing processes and the evidence left behind by these processes. Coming up with an alternative explanation that insist on intervention is not supported by reality but by contrary beliefs held about it. That’s why you require instruction to come up with the religious explanatory model you use because you can’t extract from reality and then ‘arrive’ at your beliefs. These beliefs have to be imposed on reality and contrary evidence mitigated in some way. You do this, for example, by pretending that there is some ‘materialist/atheistic/evolutionary belief system’ which begs the question in that such a description assumes the very conclusion you think you are reaching. There is no ‘belief’ system at work; there is reality and highly successful explanatory models that demonstrate by all kinds of reliable and consistent applications about it. That you don’t like the fact that evolution is true and creationism a contrary belief doesn’t make evolution any less a successful explanatory model. It is dishonest and inaccurate to try to present those who understand this unguided indifferent process to be swayed by some equivalent kind of imposed belief as those taught to hold religious beliefs.

  11. Tildeb – I don’t think you understand science as well as you think you do.
    First of all, empirical science is limited to what is observable, repeatable, and falsifiable.
    Thus empirical science cannot directly address certain aspects of reality. History for example. Including how the universe and organic life came to be.

    Second, contrary to what you seem to think, scientific data must be interpreted. To return to our earlier example, elastic tissue in a fossilized dinosaur bone is raw data. It does not tell us why it is still elastic. Both creationists and evolutionists approach the data with specific assumptions. You are naïve to think that there is an “unguided indifferent process.” Human beings are not machines. There is nothing at all dishonest in recognizing that. An evolutionist, for example, will impose onto all data the assumption that the earth is billions of years old. He has to. Without billions of years, there is not enough theoretical time for life as we know it to have accidentally evolved. Billions of years therefore has the status of dogma – a belief that cannot be questioned. And it is accurate to call it a “belief” because it can’t be empirically proven how old the earth is, and there is a great deal of empirical evidence that suggests that the earth may not be billions, of years old. The evolutionist also “requires instruction” in his belief, and the serious shortcomings in this “successful explanatory model” are held at bay with the faith-belief that science will someday give us the answers. All of this parallels religious belief.

    Human beings – both creationists and evolutionists – are prone to see what they want to see. When grant money and government/corporate financial sponsorship becomes involved in research, there is pressure on researchers to find what the sponsor wants them to find. This has been especially prevalent in the food industry. (Examples provided upon request.) Monopolies are dangerous. Creationists and evolutionists need each other to keep each other honest. This is healthy. If creationism is as ridiculous and as unscientific as you think it is, you have nothing to be afraid of.

    • Should I start to call people ‘gravitists’ if they believe in gravity, or ‘germists’ if the believe in germ theory? This linguistic substitution to a nonsensical term seems to fit your abuse of the language to call biologists and scientists and anyone with a basic scientific understanding of why evolution is true ‘evolutionists’. This is a clear sign that the person is a creationist with a religious agenda and no concern with A) what’s true, and B) any willingness to allow reality the right to adjudicate claims made about it.

      You are regurgitating common and long debunked creationist talking points. The method used to lend confidence to the evolutionary model is the same one you are using right now to see these words. By denying evolution, you are in fact denying the method of science and everything – every application, every therapy, every technology – it has produced. This means you are fundamentally anti-science when its method produces contrary and conflicting models that, oh by the way, just so happens to work for everyone everywhere all the time compared to your supposedly ‘equivalent’ archaic and magical belief in agencies of Oogity Boogity exercising POOF!ism. That’s your model, and it has exactly zero applications that work, zero therapies that work, zero technologies that work and this is your ‘alternative’ you’re trying to peddle as if it is reasonable alternative. It isn’t. It is anti-reason. It’s delusion clothed in piety and magical thinking.

  12. Tildeb, you wrote, “By denying evolution, you are in fact denying the method of science…”

    This is pure nonsense, since evolution is a belief about unobservable past events. Scientists who hold to your particular bias have simply redefined science to only allow conclusions that are naturalistic. Why do I say “redefined”? Because western science was not originally defined this way. There is nothing at all unscientific or “anti-reason” in believing in a created world, and then studying its natural, observable phenomena. The only conflict creationists have is with your closed-minded, contrived definition of science. For example, when data suggests that the earth and universe may not be billions of years old (as it often does,) evolutionists are not free to accept such a conclusion. Their presuppositions will not allow them to go where the evidence may lead.

    Contrary to your belief that evolutionary models “…oh by the way,..work for everyone everywhere all the time,” recent discoveries in the fields of astronomy, genetics, paleontology, and geology continue to contradict the billions-of-years-dogma. As far as being a working model that has benefited the world, the evolutionary model has had a terrible track record from the get go. You groundlessly accuse me of “magical belief,” but I’ve already shown that you are stuck with believing that life sprung from dead matter, even though we know that it can’t. That, my friend, is magical thinking. I believe life originated from life.

    Since you claim that evolutionary belief has given us “every application, every therapy, every technology” that works, and that “my model has exactly zero applications, zero therapies, and zero technologies that work,” please provide an example of each: Give me one example each – an application, a therapy, and a technology – that is based on strictly evolutionary principles. Don’t simply give me examples from evolutionary scientists, because I can give you examples from creationist scientists. Substantiate your claim by citing examples that are only consistent with evolutionary suppositions, but are not consistent with creationist suppositions.

    I predict that your answer will demonstrate that you still don’t understand what creationism is.

    • I pointed out that “By denying evolution, you are in fact denying the method of science…” because this explanatory model is identical in methodology to other explanatory models, such as atomic theory we use in our nuclear programs (both medical and for energy) and germ theory (both medical and for public policy). There is no difference in method and this is a really important point to consider. To suggest that evolutionary theory is somehow different in method and/or quality and/or testing and/or falsifying is factually wrong. You are making a mistake to assume otherwise. And that’s how I can successfully argue that the same criticisms you try to level against evolution are just as applicable – and just as misguided – against atomic theory and germ theory. You are trying to deny one while accepting others… and the ONLY reason why you do so is to suit your incompatible religious beliefs. That’s not a scientific argument you are trying to use against evolution; it is wholly a religious one based entirely on your contrary religious beliefs. That’s why it is anti-scientific and why denying evolution is a denial of the identical scientific method.

      You then say that my point here “is pure nonsense, since evolution is a belief about unobservable past events. Scientists who hold to your particular bias have simply redefined science to only allow conclusions that are naturalistic.”

      And this as stupid as stupid can be. It is an incredibly ignorant point you raise here that demonstrates the shallowness of your argument. Evolution is (arguably) the greatest explanatory model ever devised by humanity. It is supported by every avenue of inquiry in different yet mutually supportive fields of inquiry. This is as scientific an explanatory model as any explanatory model ever produced by any human being ever and it is by far the best supported by compelling evidence. To claim it is a somehow a ‘belief’ equivalent to one that offers us the model of some divine agency of Oogity Boogity implementing POOF!ism to create stuff ex nihilo is not just absurd and ridiculous but is, in fact, a denial of what constitutes knowledge about reality, a denial of how we can obtain knowledge about reality, and is a denial of reality itself to arbitrate and adjudicate claims made about it to support and maintain an incompatible religious claim. Yet there is exactly zero evidence for any such POOF!ism event that can be linked in any knowable way to some interventionist divine causal agency. But there is, in contrast, a veritable mountain of evidence for the process we call ‘evolution’. (In fact, many industries who invest trillions of dollars yearly rely on the evolutionary explanatory model to be true. And they still make a profit!) To ‘believe’ in the former while rejecting the latter is not rational. It is irrational and demonstrates what is medically called ‘delusion’: a rejection of reality to arbitrate claims made about it. That’s what you’re doing here. And that’s why your religious beliefs are not just anti-scientific to the core but irrational. You can test this claim yourself. Is there anything anyone can say or do utilizing reality to counter your irrational beliefs? Of course not; you have convinced yourself that it has no say in the matter. That’s why you are deluded and it doesn’t matter that you justify this delusion the name of exercising your piety or wearing a tin foil hat to repel alien radio signals.

      As for your request about applications, therapies and technologies, I raised this point to demonstrate why we should lend confidence to the same methodology that produces evolutionary theory. But you don’t care about anything I or anyone else can raise demonstrating the power of the explanatory model called evolution, do you? Be honest here; if I present three good examples (resource extraction, medicine, genetics), it wouldn’t alter your beliefs about creationism one iota, would it? How about ten? How about a hundred? What number do you have in mind where you would begin to seriously question your creationist beliefs? A thousand? A million?

      See? You don’t care about reality or what it has to say about your religious claims in divine POOF!ism. You only care to defend your religious beliefs and will reject reality in order to do so. That’s why you’re irrational and will remain so until you are willing to put aside your childish religious beliefs in magic and grant reality the right to arbitrate claims made about it. And when that happens, you cannot be a creationist because reality doesn’t offer a scintilla of support for this religious explanatory model.

  13. To tildeb who wrote: “And this as stupid as stupid can be. It is an incredibly ignorant point you raise here that demonstrates the shallowness of your argument. Evolution is (arguably) the greatest explanatory model ever devised by humanity.”

    Here, you have merely asserted – very religiously and dogmatically, I might add – that my statement is “irrational/ignorant/stupid.” But you didn’t prove it. Until you do, my statement stands as rational: “…evolution is a belief about unobservable past events. Scientists who hold to your particular bias have simply redefined science to only allow conclusions that are naturalistic.”
    I’ll not be convinced by mere pulpit-pounding, self-righteousness, and name-calling. You need to demonstrate WHY my statement is untrue/irrational/ignorant/stupid/shallow. I’ll even help you: Are you saying evolution is NOT a belief about past events? (This would be curious since we can’t observe evolution happening today.) Are you saying evolutionists have NOT redefined science to accept only naturalistic explanations regardless where the evidence may point? This is all fairly recent recorded history.

    You also wrote: “Be honest here; if I present three good examples (resource extraction, medicine, genetics), it wouldn’t alter your beliefs about creationism one iota, would it? How about ten? How about a hundred? What number do you have in mind where you would begin to seriously question your creationist beliefs? A thousand? A million? See? You don’t care about reality…blah, blah.”

    Fascinating. Let’s talk about reality. What we are engaged in here, is called a “dialogue.” This means you speak for yourself, and then I respond, speaking for myself. But for you to ask me a question, and then imagine a cartoonish and idiotic response to your own question, and then put those words in my mouth, makes you look like an ass. I think you can be better than that. I’m right here and I’ll speak or myself, thank you. Perhaps it would improve our dialogue if you would think in terms of “verbal intercourse” as opposed to “masturbation. “

    But to honestly answer your question, “What number do you have in mind…?” I clearly answered this in my last response: “Give me ONE (1) example each – an application, a therapy, and a technology.”
    The cool thing about online discussions is that everyone can see who’s being a butthead and who isn’t. So if you give me the three legitimate examples I requested, and I suddenly go all “religious” on you, everyone will be able to see it and your point will be made. You made a very bold claim: EVERY vs ZERO. I think it was an extremely foolish claim, but that’s your problem. Now I’m simply asking you to prove it.

    I did notice you gave me three broad fields, (resource extraction, medicine, genetics.) This is not what I asked you for. I can give you the names of PhD creationists who have made working contributions in all of these fields. To substantiate your claim, you have to give me SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of applications/therapies/technologies that rely on evolutionary “truths,” and that do not rely whatsoever on creationist ideas. If you can do it, I promise to admit that you are awesome. But I don’t think you can do it, because you incorrectly conflate science and evolution.

    • The statement you made that I referred to was so wrong it wasn’t even wrong. It was the absence of basic understanding of terms, yet presented as if a legitimate starting point. It demonstrated your utter lack of understanding basic biological science. If you truly wanted to have a grown-up discussion about evolution then it falls on you to be willing to learn. And you;re not. That’s why you haven’t tried to learn first. That’s the only way a discussion can take place because your absence of basic understanding makes everything that follows meaningless. And it’s meaningless because you don’t care to learn anything that will threaten your belief in POOF!ism or you would have already. You haven’t, so my claim is a conclusion and not a premise.

      Because you don’t even recognize the scope of your vast your ignorance, you offer nothing meaningful in return about this subject. That’s why me offering three entire fields of study with all the applications, therapies, and technologies based on this biological understanding is of no use to you because you’ve already rejected any and all evidence reality can provide to back up the claims why evolution is true.

      You see, you demonstrate that you don’t care how evolution is applied (which, by successful application then demonstrates why its an explanatory model that WORKS all the time everywhere for everyone) because you don’t care to learn anything contrary to your religious beliefs in POOF!ism.

      If you did care, you’d learn. But you refuse. After all, nothing in biology makes sense without its central pillar: evolution. That fact doesn’t even make a dent in your fixed contrary beliefs. Yet it is on this understanding of how life changes over time that produces all the applications, therapies, and technologies in all the areas of biology that works to produce new fields of inquiry essential to many modern practices. Think genetics. The only reason why genetics works is because it accurately models how life changes over time. That’s a powerful example of why evolution is true because if it weren’t then genetics wouldn’t work. The field of genetics wouldn’t produce reliable and consistent evidence for evolution. Without grasping this essential feature – evidence so overwhelming – only the vastly ignorant would fail to appreciate how genetics is compelling evidence for evolution. That’s you, by the way: vastly ignorant.

      You have utterly deluded yourself inserting POOF!ism where we have overwhelming evidence for purely naturalistic, unguided mechanisms already identified in the evolutionary model. We see these mechanisms in real time. But you don’t care so you wave it away. We see these mechanisms genetically active between generations. But you don’t care so you wave it away. We see these mechanisms between populations. But you don’t care so you wave it away. We see these mechanisms over multiple generations between populations. But you don’t care so you wave it away. We see these mechanisms over multiple generations between historical populations over geographical distances. But you don’t care so you wave it away. We see these mechanisms stored genetically over multiple generations between historical populations over geographical changes and significant alterations in environments. But you don’t care so you wave it away. It is on these understandings that various industries like coal, oil, and gas explorations gamble trillions of dollars and continue to profit. But you don’t care because you refuse to see the links. You demand evidence for evolution but wave it away at every opportunity. You refuse to accept the long causal chain of irrefutable evidence that reality offers you that evolution is not just true but the explanatory engine for much of what you take for granted. And you refuse not with the intention of learning anything but to protect your ignorance because that’s what’s required to maintain a belief in POOF!ism.

      But the medicine you rely on to survive doesn’t operate according to POOF!ism; it operates according to the basic understanding of how life changes over time. That’s why we understand how viruses mutate. That’s why we understand why you look different from your parents and siblings but all are related to carrots. This why we understand how crops can be enhanced and modified and how domesticated animals can be altered over time to produce biological changes that better suit our needs. This list goes on and on and on but you don’t care and so you just wave it away and claim POOF!ism is a legitimate contender of explanatory equivalency. You don’t care why genetics works the way it does nor appreciate how that understanding then informs all the genetic applications, genetic therapies, and genetic technologies that work. You just want to go with POOF!ism. And that’s why your original statement is so very, very, stupid: it is intentionally devoid of any understanding.

  14. (My apologies for being so late in replying.)

    You still don’t seem to understand my question.
    Ignoring, for the moment, your hysterical (and false) imaginings about how and what I think, I’ll take another stab at explaining why I asked you for specific examples:
    Think of it this way. Forget both evolution and creationism for a moment. If we had no assumptions, no theory, no belief about how the physical world and the life on it began, could we still conduct observational science and make the same practical applications that we make today? Of course we could.

    The reason that giving me broad fields of study doesn’t prove your point is that there are creationists working and contributing in those SAME fields using the SAME scientific method and applying the SAME data. The scientific method is a procedure that works INDEPENDENTLY of evolutionary or creationist hypotheses. You apparently believe that “real science,” done correctly, will inevitably support an evolutionary model. If so, you’re simply wrong, and demonstrably so. (More examples provided upon request.)

    You seem to think that evolutionary ideas are somehow essential to the fields of physics, biology, paleontology, genetics, astronomy, etc. You actually said, “nothing in biology makes sense without its central pillar: evolution.” This is a shining example of dogmatism, indicative of brainwashing. For example, the principles of modern genetics were first worked out by a monk, doing experiments with peas in his monastery garden, contemporary with Darwin.

    You write, “Think genetics. The only reason why genetics works is because it accurately models how life changes over time. That’s a powerful example of why evolution is true because if it weren’t then genetics wouldn’t work.”
    This is wildly incorrect. Belief in evolution is not necessary to sequence DNA. It’s not necessary to manipulate DNA. It’s not necessary for the testing of genetic theories. GMOs have nothing to do with evolution. You just think they do because you blindly conflate evolution and science.

    As for “changes over time”? Time plus genetic entropy works against evolution: certainly for human beings, our current, measurable, mutation rate places the likelihood that we have been around for tens of thousands of years at zero.

    You continue, “…The field of genetics wouldn’t produce reliable and consistent evidence for evolution.”
    But the field of genetics DOESN’T produce consistent evidence for evolution. Genetics research has been extremely unkind to evolutionary expectations. Darwin’s phylogenic tree is looking more like a freaking bird nest. Evolutionists have had to resort to positing extensive lateral transfer of genes between unrelated organisms, which is the opposite of common ancestry. Some phylogenetic theorists have resorted to positing an unknown and now extinct “domain of organisms” as a source for unique genes with no identifiable origin. (There is no evidence for this – evolutionist simply need it to keep naturalism afloat, so they – POOF – invent its existence.) However, this lack of evidence of common genetic ancestry is consistent with creationist expectations.

    This is why I asked you for SPECIFIC examples of a successful application/technology/therapy that DEPENDS on a distinctly evolutionary idea or ideas, (ie: billions of years, mutation and natural selection resulting in evolution on a MACRO scale, etc.) You can’t say oil in the ground is an evolutionary idea, nor is the technology used to find it and frack it. Unless you show me otherwise. You can’t say observable bacterial research belongs solely to evolution because creationists work with the same observable phenomena. Tell me an application that REQUIRES distinctly evolutionary ideas in order to work, and tell me WHY. And make no mistake – I’m not “demanding evidence for evolution.” I’m demonstrating that you can’t back up your extreme, absolutist, faith-based claims. Don’t waste space preaching to me about what you think I think, just answer the freaking question.

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