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The Real Conflict Between Science and Religion

The supposed conflict between science and religion is not only bad history, it also goes unsupported by on-going polls of the religious beliefs of scientists. As the story goes, empirical science uncovers inconvenient truths that religious people resist in a losing battle. But if there was a conflict between science and religion, and furthermore if science has uncovered findings inimical to religion, then one might expect a small and dwindling fraction of scientists who are religious. But a recent poll showed that a majority of scientists (51%) say they believe in God or a higher power. And that is up from the 42% who responded similarly almost a century ago in 1914.  Read more

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41 Responses to The Real Conflict Between Science and Religion

  1. But 78% of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalists (no God and no free will), according to a recent study. Surely they go into that area because it enables them to front their religious beliefs at tax expense.

  2. Some points about the survey data:

    We are only talking about US scientists.

    Only 33% of scientists in the survey said they believed in God – 18% believed in a higher power – whatever that means.

    Is 33% is a high or low number? It is certainly a lot lower than the US population as a whole.

    It is meaningless to compare this to a survey of scientists in 1914. It is a completely different population of people. Those scientists are all dead. Any change in percentage could be accounted for by a million different things other advances in science – for example ethnic background, average age, gender – who knows. This just demonstrates the difficulty the press has in dealing with statistics.

    However, if you did want to compare them it is only reasonable to compare like with like. In 1914 42% of scientists believed in a personal God. This is surely to be compared, if anything, to the percentage who now believe in God – 33%.

  3. But 78% of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalists (no God and no free will),…

    I am an atheist and believe I have free will.

    If I decided to convert to Christianity, I believe that it would have been my free will to have made that decision.

    If you agree that I believe I have the free will to make that decision, why, with my being an atheist, do you think that I don’t believe I have the free will to make any others.

  4. Upright BiPed, Lock, StephenB, tgpeeler, kairosfocus,

    I have replied to all of you yesterday but the comments are still in moderation.

    I have had a much better experience than I thought I would have had in discussions with all of you and don’t want you to think I am ignoring you as a lot of you put a lot of work into your replies.

    I am much to frustrated to comment any further on this site as anything I put together may not appear for days if at all.

    So again, thanks to all of you, and I do intend to keep on lurking.

  5. You know it truly is ironic Dr. Hunter, as I have come to a deeper understanding of the true state on the actual evidence, that the only real conflict between science and religion that there really ever was, is the irreconcilable conflict that exists between “true” science and the religion of materialistic atheism.

  6. It is pretty hard to be a success at anything if you don’t think there is some kind of purpose.

    And to concede there is a purpose pretty much concedes there is a higher power.

  7. There is no conflict between science and true religion but there is disharmony between science and Intelligent Design.

    For all practical purposes, a proof is any completely convincing argument. And the problem with Intelligent Design is that most scientists are simply not persuaded that the highly ordered physical reality we live in and obviously exists is the work of an Intelligent Designer. It could very well be, and I believe it’s likely, that most scientists are being unreasonable in denying the existence of the Designer but it is the nature of science to be extraordinarily skeptical.

    I don’t want to see the standards of science lowered so that the whims of the Intelligent Design movement would be satisfied. According to Dr. Michael Behe, astrology is a scientific theory. I refuse to be taken there. I believe that the standard of what is called science must be raised higher than it is now.

  8. In comment #1 O’Leary wrote:

    “…78% of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalists (no God and no free will), according to a recent study.”

    According to Dr. Greg Graffin’s study of 151 biologists who are members of the national academies of science worldwide (percentages rounded to nearest whole number) [see: http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/ ]:

    atheist/agnostic [op cit, pg 34]” = 59%

    believe in free will [op cit, pg 38]” = 79%

    materialist [op cit, pg 39]” = 73%

    “metaphysical naturalist” [op cit, pg 48]” = 79%

    As all but one of these data are significantly different from those cited by O’Leary, it would perhaps improve the quality of this discussion if she would please cite her reference(s).

    REFERENCE CITED:

    Graffin, G. (2004) Evolution, monism, atheism, and the naturalist world-view. Polypterus Press, Ithaca, NY, 252 pages. This study was Dr. Graffin’s PhD dissertation, completed under the supervision of Dr. William Provine (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Provine )

  9. P.S. I am an evolutionary biologist at Cornell University, not an atheist (see http://evolutionlist.blogspot......stion.html ), and believe in “free will” (properly defined).

  10. Also, the nationalities of the biologists surveyed in Dr. Graffin’s study were:

    USA = 43%

    Canada = 7%

    UK = 13%

    Europe = 22%

    Rest = 15%

    REFERENCE CITED:

    Graffin, G. (2004) Evolution, monism, atheism, and the naturalist world-view. Polypterus Press, Ithaca, NY, page 31.

  11. Finally, every one of the members of my department at Cornell (with whom I have discussed this issue) went into biology because:

    1) they had an enormous curiosity about nature;

    2) they enjoyed discovering new information about the natural world;

    3) because of #1 they were very good at accomplishing #2.

    To whom, exactly, is O’Leary referring, and upon what evidence is she basing her conclusions? Inquiring minds want to know…

  12. . While 87% of scientists say that life evolved over time due to natural processes

    WHOA! Does that mean 13% dissent or are skeptical!!!!!

    The last numbers I heard were from some time back when dissent was at about 1 to 2%!

    Michael Denton’s book, Evolution a Theory in Crisis I think is representative of dissent comming from secular quarters.

  13. I cannot even believe we are discussing the notion that some scientists are religious and others not.

    We all know what the terms religion and science ‘mean’ in pop-cuture usage, but logically (in reality) it means something totally different.

    I contend that it is essential to remind people constantly of this point.

    Religion is only philosophy. And everybody has one. Some people are terrible philsophers, and some are totally unaware of their own philosphical presuppositions and worldvew, but that is beside the point and part of the problem we must change.

    If we could raise the bar on our culture’s understanding of philosophy, first principles, and the loic, a good deal of this surface minutia would simply melt away and become widely accepted for what it is; irrelevant.

    Here is how I have broken it down in my own thinking. We go back to basics.

    First and foremost is understanding that God and reality are synonymous terms when reduced to bare bones. That is the logical and unbiased ‘common thread’ that must be grasped.

    Definition:
    God / 1capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god )

    Theo as we all know, means God.

    “It matters not whether our philosophy is monotheistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, atheistic, etc. The deist philosophizes that Theo (God) has left the building. All philosophy is theistic. Even the agnostic is in the same boat, since his philosophy purposely excludes deciding the question of Theo. To put it plainly, without theo, there is no such thing as an agnostic. The absolute character of reality (irrespective of its/his other qualities) does not give us the option of excluding ourselves from philosophizing about Theo.”

    Most of us already know that this debate between ID and NeoDarwinsim is really a philosphical battle between materialism and some form of theism, so that is the ground I think is most crucial.

    Mulling over statistics about how many scientists are religious is akin to accepting premises set by the materialists. And they would love to keep culture right there framing the issue on such a shallow level.

    We must not let them. ID has superb argumentaition to offer. But not from materialistic grounds. If we accept the ground from which to argue as defined unobjectively by materialists, then it is no wonder that it will not make sense to people.

    In many cases, it is the very ground and foundation that must be re-established. It is time for another chapter in the history of scientific revolution.

  14. P.S. Congratulations from a USAnian to all the Canadians reading this: your team won the best hockey gold since the “miracle(s) on ice” of 1980 and 1960. My Canadian grandfather (Weymouth, NS) is somewhere smiling…

  15. 15

    As all but one of these data are significantly different from those cited by O’Leary…

    Thank you, Allen, for your syntax.

    these data are…from those..

  16. You/re welcome. Like many of my contemporaries, but almost none of my students, I took Latin in high school, in which I learned that data is the plural of datum. And don’t get me started on genus and genera…

  17. 17

    Me, too:

    Arma virumque cano.

    The Jesuits told me it would be worth it someday.

    And they were right.

  18. My favorite author, Ursula K. LeGuin, has written a novel about Lavinia, the wife of Aeneus. I recommend it highly.

    It also occurs to me that “Musa, mihi causas memora…” would make a good motto for both evolutionary biologists and ID supporters.

  19. Toronto @ 3
    “If you agree that I believe I have the free will to make that decision, why, with my being an atheist, do you think that I don’t believe I have the free will to make any others.”

    I would assume that an atheist would not (actually, could not, logically) believe that anyone has free will. Here’s why.

    I don’t know how you came to your atheism but it is actually a conclusion rather than a premise. If the premise is naturalism/materialism then it’s a direct step to the conclusion that God does not exist. In other words, if all that exists is “natural” or “material” and God is supernatural and immaterial, well then it’s obvious that He does not exist.

    But it doesn’t end here because people with intellectual curiosity like yourself still want to know the why’s and wherefore’s of the universe. So what’s a naturalist to do? There is no God to serve as the ultimate ground of Truth, Reason, Reality, etc.. so ‘things’ must be accounted for in some other way. Since one of the key intellectual commitments of naturalism is that nature is “causally closed,” the only thing that “you” (as a naturalist) have to explain ‘things’ are the laws of physics. The causal closure of nature claims that ALL causes in nature can be reduced to physical causes. This excludes mind as having any causal power in nature. It makes sense (if the premise is true) that mind would have no causal power because mind (apart from brain) doesn’t even exist in the naturalist ontology. So how could it have causal power?

    So you are left, it seems to me, with the laws of physics as the sole explanatory tool in your kit. The problem now becomes how to reduce, or explain, things such as consciousness, morality, language, information, reason, design, purpose, and free will, for example, in terms of the Standard Model, the equations of quantum physics and general relativity, thermodynamics, super string theory (?) and so on…

    Since the laws of physics are not called the contingencies of physics and everything ultimately reduces to them, there goes your free will. Roger Penrose’s microtubules not withstanding. (One can’t get free will from quantum physics either.) So that’s why I would a priori assume an atheist would reject free will. If you hold to free will as an atheist then you have insurmountable philosophical contradictions to resolve.

    But I think naturalism has even larger problems. Aside from the obvious wrongness of it, there are many good arguments against it. As you might expect, I am going to bore you to death with one of them right now and it is, I believe, irrefutable. Earlier I listed a few things that are obviously not explainable by the laws of physics. For example, what does physics have to say about why it is wrong to be rude to a waiter? The answer is nothing. But still there seems to be something to the fact that it is wrong to be rude to a waiter. We all know that. And even if you don’t as a patron, you would as a waiter. The typical naturalist move at this point, rather than graciously admit defeat and come on over to the side of Truth, in my limited experience and reading, is to just deny the existence of moral absolutes (for example, they also deny design, mind, purpose, etc…). This can be done without contradiction so we are now in the messy position of weighing the evidence and even with a preponderance of it, the argument is never settled.

    From my many years as an infantry officer in the USMC I learned that in fighting, one should always go for the throat. That is, if you want to win with as little risk to yourself as possible, and I do, coward that I am. In other words, we want decisive victory. We want unconditional surrender. We want the enemy to beg for mercy. It is in this vein that I argue. :-)

    It occurred to me one day that the answer to several vexing questions could be settled once and for all very simply. The first is the question of naturalism/materialism, and the second is the question of the detection of design or intelligence.

    Here’s how I see it. If information is a real entity, a real thing, that is it has ontological “status,” then several things will necessarily follow. Since all information is encoded in a language of one sort or another and since all languages are comprised of symbols and rules, it occurred to me that if the naturalists were going to be intellectually honest, in order to explain information they had to explain language.

    But here’s the rub. Physics has nothing to say about symbols and rules. Why does “cat” mean a certain kind of mammal and “act” mean something else? Does physics inform this in any way, shape, or form? No. It doesn’t. And why would it? Symbols and rules are not material or ‘natural’ so physics, by definition, would have nothing to say about them. But the denial of the ontological status of information/language is not an option here because in order to deny them you have to use them. There is, in this instance, a glaring and obvious self-contradiction in the naturalist position. As it turns out, not only is naturalism false, it is not even possible for it to be true. The denial of the abstract/immaterial existence of language/information relies on the existence of language/information. How cool is that? This game is over. I don’t have to fight any more about moral laws, design, purpose, etc… in order to defeat the naturalist world view. It defeats itself. So we can all head over the O Club for beer and pretzels without having to do any really hard work. My kind of gig. Who’s buying?

    The implications for any naturalistic story of evolution, the current incarnation being the neo-darwinian kind, are not good. If there is one thing that is obvious to everyone involved in the discussion it is that in biology, there is language and there is information in the dictionary senses of the words. In fact, information is THE distinguishing feature of life. It is what separates life from non-life. All living things have DNA/RNA. But if no naturalist explanation of information is possible, and it is not, then neo-darwinian evolution is not only false, it is impossible for it to be true. This fraud has been masquerading as science for 150 years and we will see it go down in history, if we live that long, as one of the greatest intellectual scandals of all time. How people could believe, argue for, and insist upon something that is not only false but impossible to be true will give historians and philosophers of science grist for their mills for years to come. I realize that I have made a radical claim but there you have it. That’s how I see it. I am open to counter-arguments.

  20. tgpeeler @19,

    In other words, we want decisive victory. We want unconditional surrender. We want the enemy to beg for mercy. It is in this vein that I argue. :-)

    Well put worthy adversary!

    Sadly, it’s becoming very frustrating attempting to post here, so at some point, I’m going to quit trying.

    I appreciate the amount of work that you, Lock and Upright BiPed put into your posts and I don’t want you to think I’m ignoring you if you don’t see a response.

    I would assume that an atheist would not (actually, could not, logically) believe that anyone has free will.

    The other edge of that sword, is that belief in an intervening deity that can make good on prophecies, severely limits your free will to make decisions despite the belief that you can. In other words, by definition, a prophecy must come true, and no choice you make will stop it.

    I think that reality lies somewhere in the middle. There are decisions you are formally prevented from making by your faith and religious affiliations while we have no limits except those we impose on ourselves. We do impose limits in order to benefit ourselves, family, tribes, nations, etc. All our needs have been met with self-made laws, not laws imposed on us by any deity.

    So we can all head over the O Club for beer and pretzels without having to do any really hard work. My kind of gig. Who’s buying?

    And yes, I’ll admit it, an atheist does not have the free will to turn down beer and pretzels. :)

    We’ll see how well this comment makes it through the moderation queue. If it doesn’t linger too long, I’ll attempt another post.

  21. You continually suprise me Toronto!

    Toronto: “The other edge of that sword, is that belief in an intervening deity that can make good on prophecies, severely limits your free will to make decisions despite the belief that you can. In other words, by definition, a prophecy must come true, and no choice you make will stop it.

    I think that reality lies somewhere in the middle. There are decisions you are formally prevented from making by your faith and religious affiliations while we have no limits except those we impose on ourselves.”

    Genesis 11:6 NIV
    The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

    Your logic is very sound. And as a result of our poetential, God did so in the verses following. But that is not such a bad thing. You and I will intervene too, to prevent our child from being hit by a car.

    God does not intervene to harm us, but to guide us, and teach us. We are not as smart as our ambitions and nature. God commanded us to take dominion over nature, but nature now rules over us. The natural animal is to be ruled by the spirit, not the spirit enslaved by biology.

    We must not confuse freedom, for autonomy.

    C. S. Lewis covers this well in ‘The Problem of Pain’. Any orderly universe will by definition have certain fences. Without them, there would be no order.

    Freedom is the balance between chaos and perfection you intuitively long for and recognized in your post.

    Psalms 119:96 NIV
    To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.

    It doesn’t seem like it at first (a few bruises and scrapes helps wise us up) but God’s ways allow for the sustainability we seek. Which of us but Jesus ever fully trusted that?

    Freedom is not autonomy… consider the terrible concept of hell.

    God ultimately does not impose Himself on us. Hell is not His choice for us, but our choice by rejecting God.

    Hell is when we have finally rejected Him to the point that He concedes. He gives us over. His spirit no longer contends for our love. And we are given complete control over our own eternity.

    And though hell may seem like the ultimate imposition of God, it is quite the other way around…

    God will not allow us to impose our will on His heaven.

    That is hell. And that is the difference between freedom, and autonomy.

  22. Lock @21,

    Despite being an atheist, I believe the Bible is a brilliant book.

    That doesn’t mean I interpret it the same way a mainstream church might.

    Hell is when we have finally rejected Him to the point that He concedes. He gives us over. His spirit no longer contends for our love. And we are given complete control over our own eternity.

    I cannot believe that a timeless deity would ever give up as your life could pass in the time it takes him to blink.
    The Noah story suggests that even when driven to lash out and end it all, when it came to actually doing it, God says, “Um..,you know what, I’ll just save this one boat”.

    If there’s one common theme running through all the Bible stories, it would be the display of courage. It always wins the day.

    Whether suffering the humiliation of a community who thinks, “That boat’s way too big for the desert”, or dragging a cross through the streets, it’s courage that’s rewarded.

    While you are conscious, and you have courage, I cannot believe that the god of your bible would ever abandon you, no matter where you think you ended up.

  23. Toronto, I appriciate you comments, but it is not me I am worrried about…

    Among other things, Jesus had this to say concerning the end:

    Matthew 24: 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

    As for courage, forgive me for saying, but I do not know what you are talking about.

    I see no courage in the men of scripture. I see broken men, who turned to God in their brokeness. And to their astonishment, God answered. It was only then that they had courage. But not because they had it. Rather, it was imputed to them.

    They did not have courage because they were visionary. They were blind men. But when God opened their eyes, they had more strength than any mere mortal power.

    The bible is also not brilliant in my estimation. It is the most outlandish story of alien invasion (if you’ll pardon the anology) ever written:

    The God of the universe comes as a peacemaker, takes human form by way of a conception that is most unnatural, dies for the sins humanity by crucifiction (think alien in ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’), but is then ressurected by the same unnatural ability by which He was conceived. He then ascends into heaven (whatever that means) by more unkown technology, and promises to return for his people and destroy the wicked.

    I am only scratching the surface a couple times there. But it is a suface that covers the globe. And below that is the real meat.

    The Bible is either shear nonsense, or truth.

    People reject the bible as fantasy (and even evil) for good reasons. Yes, you heard me right…

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” ( C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.)

  24. Lock @23,

    The bible is also not brilliant in my estimation. It is the most outlandish story of alien invasion (if you’ll pardon the anology) ever written:

    But that is the brilliance of the Bible. Here is a story so outlandish, that at first you want to completely disregard it, yet at some point, an underlying message starts to come through.

    You start to note similarities between your life today and these stories written thousands of years ago that somehow seem to be tuned to you personally.

    I’m not a believer in a literal Bible and I think that’s what gives it the power to be relevant thousands of years from now.

    I believe courage is in all of us. Whether it’s a personal event, the Bible or Buddah that wakes it up is irrelevant.

    I don’t accept that the Bible message says that man is born flawed and needs to be completed.

    I instead believe that man is born perfect, without any of the flaws of society.

    While we get corrupted by society, the Bible or Buddah or something else, can help us regain our original selves.

    If the world gets destroyed tomorrow and you stumble across a Bible in the debris, there will be no one there to help you interpret it, so the message must be clear enough for you, on your own, to understand it.

    That’s my view of the Bible, a personal message to everyone, not a message meant for organizations or groups to agree on and then pass on to their believers.

  25. Toronto: I instead believe that man is born perfect, without any of the flaws of society.

    That can only be a result of not yet having a child of your own.

    I have three… and I think you are confusing ‘innocence’ (ignorance)with perfection.

  26. Lock @25,

    Toronto: I instead believe that man is born perfect, without any of the flaws of society.

    That can only be a result of not yet having a child of your own.

    I have three… and I think you are confusing ‘innocence’ (ignorance)with perfection.

    My daughter Julie will be 21 this year and is in her 3rd year at the University of Toronto.

    I approached her upbringing with the philosophy that there was nothing wrong, sinful, or flawed in being a newborn child.

    Society has its problems but she was not the cause of any of them either by simply being born.

    Since we are all born ignorant of our surroundings, we also are guilty of nothing and thus sin-free.

  27. Who then is responsible for this morass?

  28. Not having a good day here… I think I misunderstood your last line.

    I will respond after giving your comments the thought they deserve.

  29. Toronto, I do wish I had not responded so quickly to you @24. I got home with a lot on my plate, read that reply… and was taken aback. Impatient even…

    The difference between our modes of thinking amounts to quite a chasm.

    It’s funny you talk of courage.
    When considering the amount of dialog necessary to address your last comments… I have none.

    But, if we were to really consider this issue of original sin, we cannot look at each individual independently. The individuality is there… but so is the community. There is a past that we are a part of. That is what makes us who we are [in part].

    You spoke of our being corrupted by society. Who or what did the corrupting in the beginning? How does a perfect being fall?

    If each person is born perfect, and only corrupted by the world (presumably other people) then whereabouts did the corruption come?

    Perhaps that might give us some ground to work with. However, it is way off topic now. WAY!

    And… I will be leaving town for three days. Nonetheless, feel free to answer. Our discussion is at this point so far down in the column of columns that the mods probably don’t care.

    And I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

    “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.” ( Malcom Mugridge )

    Is it so difficult to confess that you and I are sinners? Is that not the most obvious of all objective facthood?

  30. Lock @29,

    And I leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

    “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.” ( Malcom Mugridge )

    That IS a beautiful quote!

    It is actually very pertinent to our conversation.

    What we see is not necessarily the whole story. In other words, if our intentions are taken into account, what appears to be obvious motivations for certain behaviour turns out to be not that at all.

    In imagining myself in a “Sophie’s Choice” type of dilemma, would my actions seem completely morally corrupt if I actually made a choice?

    If you’re a widow in Iraq or Afghanistan and your children are starving, do you turn to prostitution or let them waste away?

    Do you choose to follow an absolute moral code that forbids that type of behaviour, or do you accept whatever punishment your deity decides to hand out in order for your children to survive?

    To us in North America, these are armchair quarterback questions, but it isn’t to people that live in other areas.

    My mother’s family, spent five years on the road in WW2, mostly walking. When the war ended, they returned to Yugoslavia and were thrown into a concentration camp by Tito because they were ethnic Germans.

    What did they do wrong to deserve this?

    What actions would you have forgiven them taking, in order to survive?

    You shouldn’t steal, but if they did that from time to time to survive, would that have been acceptable?

    What other absolute moral codes would you allow them to break?

    Would you yourself, steal to feed your children?

  31. Is it so difficult to confess that you and I are sinners?

    Since you spoke for me, I’ll speak for you. :)

    Neither of us are sinners, just human. Using a behaviour to describe an intent just doesn’t work.

    Is that not the most obvious of all objective facthood?

    No, which is why an absolute moral code can’t work.

    If you believe yourself guilty of something for departing from a code of behaviour mandated by someone else, you will go crazy.

    Only you are living your life, no one else is.

  32. Haven’t left town quite yet, and wanted to address one point. You have several points tied together above, and I believe they require individual critique.

    Toronto: “That’s my view of the Bible, a personal message to everyone, not a message meant for organizations or groups to agree on and then pass on to their believers.”

    Well, then the last thing we need to do is agree on that creed’ (the one I just quoted from you) and pass it on. Because at that point we would be a group, and no doubt there are blind believers of such strange self refuting doctrine.

    Please do not take that as an insult. Think about it…

    What if it turned out that you had may things right, but were looking at them from only half the perspective kinda like one of those optical illusions that shift image after you look at it long enough?

  33. Toronto: Would you yourself, steal to feed your children?

    The fact that I would does absolutely nothing for your point. Whether we violate a code says nothing of its truth.

    I believe you are confusing facts with reality. Or I could say that you are confusing facts with truth.

    Let me illustrate…

    I walked into a service station to buy a beer. The young woman behind the counter was unusually cheerful, so I asked her how things were going.

    She said, “life is great, work is great, and school is great”. -She attends a local college.

    “What classes are you taking?”, I asked.

    She rambled off a list of usual courses, but then ended by emphasizing, “…and Human Sexuality!”

    “No philosophy?” I asked.

    “Oh no. I don’t know anything about that”, she said.

    So I said to her, “let me ask you a question. Is the truth absolute or relative?”

    Without missing a beat (but somewhat unconvicingly) she said, “relative!”

    “So what are they teaching you about human sexuality? The truth?”

    After a long pause she said, “the facts”.

    “The facts?… The fact is Adolf Hitler murdered about 6 million Jews. It is a fact that some people love their neighbors, and others eat them. What does that have to do with the truth concerning how we should live, and the reality that we do not?”

    She said nothing.

    Toronto: If you believe yourself guilty of something for departing from a code of behaviour mandated by someone else, you will go crazy.

    But no-one believes such a thing. So there is no danger of going crazy. What makes me crazy is that I violate my own moral code.

    Toronto: If you’re a widow in Iraq or Afghanistan and your children are starving, do you turn to prostitution or let them waste away?

    Ah… such is the sophistry of the age. We are swayed by such arguments, so we pass them along. Where did you learn to think that way Toronto? Whos morality are you advocating?

    Your jury pandering is irrelevant to the question of absolute morality.

    All you are doing is showing that in a world this full of chaos and insanely tough choices, that lost people are totally helpless to do the right thing in all circumstances.

    And in turn, that only goes to show how much they need a savior. For the very fact that only God could truely handle such descisions perfectly. And He did so on the Cross.

    Truth be told, you and I need a savior far more than the woman in your argument.

  34. Toronto: What actions would you have forgiven them taking, in order to survive?

    You shouldn’t steal, but if they did that from time to time to survive, would that have been acceptable?

    So survival is the only goal. Or at least survival trumps any moral code (real or not).

    So go the logical extensions of the Darwinian model.

    I will actually accept that in part. And whether I steal or not, prostitute myself or not, I will not survive.

    So where do I turn to ‘really live’ and ‘survive’ as opposed to this relative hell you imply?

    You know Toronto, Jesus faced the temptation of utilitarianism too. This (and your argument) is all about the ends justifying the means.

    Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

  35. Lock @33,

    Where did you learn to think that way Toronto? Whos morality are you advocating?

    Those are my thoughts and my morality.

    That is what the Bible or any religion should give you, the possibility of truly being yourself.

    If a religion mandates a certain behaviour from you, it’s not doing it’s job.

    Peter found out that you don’t raise a sword to protect the son of God, so we shouldn’t raise a sword to protect ourselves.

    Now there’s an absolute truth any Christian should have to follow.

    If you’re a follower of Jesus, no matter what is done to you, you must go to your cross.

  36. Sigh…

  37. 37

    Toronto,

    “Those are my thoughts and my morality.”

    But what is the foundation for why you believe this? What’s it based on? There is a difference between being moral, and having a legitimate reason for your moral beliefs. You seem to be under the impression that one believes and follows the natural moral law (an objective code) because we’re simply mandated to do so (marching orders, so to speak). We may inherently recognize the moral law, and choose to abide by it because it is an extension of God’s goodness and therefore his character. It is further illuminated by our reason. You’re essentially highlighting part of the Euthyphro Dilemma.

    “That is what the Bible or any religion should give you, the possibility of truly being yourself.”

    You can’t just state this, you need to explain your reasoning. What do you mean by “truly being yourself.” Are you implying that we have some sort of purpose? I apologize if I missed something above that’s pertinent to this statement. Without beating around the bush, why is this what “the Bible or any religion” should give me?

    “If a religion mandates a certain behaviour from you, it’s not doing it’s job.”

    I mean you no offense, but you’re just stating more vague catechisms about religion. In any case, “religion” (for the Christian) does not mandate behavior, in the sense that what is right or good stems from God’s being, and is clarified and communicated through scripture.

    “Peter found out that you don’t raise a sword to protect the son of God, so we shouldn’t raise a sword to protect ourselves.

    Now there’s an absolute truth any Christian should have to follow.

    If you’re a follower of Jesus, no matter what is done to you, you must go to your cross.”

    How are you getting from A to B? You’re placing undue emphasis on legalism with respect to Christianity. We recognize and respect certain intrinsic rights for all men, and protecting oneself (as well as family and loved ones) from some threat/danger is absolutely reasonable. If a man brakes into my home with mal-intent, he has used his freedom to usurp mine, and I have every right to protect myself. I’m not aware of any scripture that contradicts this. You’re example of Peter is taken out of context, in that it was part of God’s plan for Christ to die on the cross (redemption for humanity, etc). Religion and religious texts often provide us examples of what is moral (for Christians, this is obviously Jesus Christ). However, proper human behavior is not derived from religious dogma, but from what we already inherently recognize. In other words, what we already know to be right is affirmed by religion: that there is a satisfactory standard for human behavior.

    Again, no offense, but it’s difficult to discuss this issue when you won’t argue in terms of the Judeo-Christian God, but some sort of caricature of God. This is evident in your misapplication of scripture, and is perhaps the source of Lock’s frustration. I apologize if this comes a tad bit late in the game, and it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t respond/don’t see it. Thanks!

  38. Our conversation has simply run its course for the time being. Toronto trips all over himself with contradiction, but he can be very reasonable when he applies himself.

    I am not so different myself…

  39. HouseStreetRoom @38,

    Again, no offense, but it’s difficult to discuss this issue when you won’t argue in terms of the Judeo-Christian God, but some sort of caricature of God. This is evident in your misapplication of scripture, and is perhaps the source of Lock’s frustration. I apologize if this comes a tad bit late in the game, and it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t respond/don’t see it. Thanks!

    It’s never too late and I appreciate your input.

    In order to understand an atheist, you have to understand we don’t believe in any god, not a particular one.

    The basic underlying theme of any of these discussions is the question, “Is there a concious supernatural entity that is expecting a certain behaviour from me?”.

    From this comes the idea of an absolute moral code that we must adhere to.

    The appearance of contradiction comes when I hop from my viewpoint, to assuming the truth of a specific point of the opposing viewpoint, in order to refute it, and many times, I don’t do that very clearly.

    The point I am trying to touch upon is that in practice, an absolute moral code is never adhered to as in Lock’s statement about stealing to feed his kids and yours about defending your home.

    At that point, you have both made the subjective decision that the absolute moral code you follow when conditions favour it, no longers applies to the situation you find yourselves in.

    There is nothing wrong with that, but you can no longer claim it is absolute.

    If your religion, whatever it may be, includes the concept of an absolute moral code, you must follow it regardless of the consequences, otherwise you have made it subject to your personal context.

    In the case of Jesus going to the cross, I see no contradiction.

    Jesus held to his code of behaviour, no matter what the consequences.

  40. Toronto: Jesus held to his code of behaviour, no matter what the consequences.

    So, like Pilot, would it be safe to say that you ‘find no fault in Him’?

    Toronto: “The point I am trying to touch upon is that in practice, an absolute moral code is never adhered to as in Lock’s statement about stealing to feed his kids and yours about defending your home.

    At that point, you have both made the subjective decision that the absolute moral code you follow when conditions favour it, no longers applies to the situation you find yourselves in.”

    I confess that you are correct if it can be truely said that it is never adhered to.

    Toronto:“There is nothing wrong with that, but you can no longer claim it is absolute”

    Woah now… slow down. We have already established that such would be the case if no one adhered to it and was truel a man of His Word. But there is a funny thing…

    There was this one man who did. That is unless you care to elaborate :)

    As is often the case (all throughout the gospel narratives) people love to patronize the man and compliment Him the same way any clever lawyer would to soften up his audience.

    And how does He respond to such patronizing? He responds with a question.

    Luke 18:18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone…”

    In other words, did this man really recognize Jesus for who He was?

    Look at the rest of the verse for a different reason…

    20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’ ” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

    Notice the bolded portion. Notice the way His hearers interpreted what that meant. And Jesus affirmed their interpretation by his answer.

    It wasn’t just the monetarily rich He refferred to. He was saying that we were all rich.

    You Toronto are a man rich in opinions and ideas of your own. You are right to say they are subjective. Ideas of your own… as though you could posess a private sun or moon. I can say that about my own as well. Vane and conceited to a very high degree. I cannot say that about Jesus.

    And I do not believe you can either, unless of course you do not recognize Him and are really only patronizing. I did not recognize Him for 30+ years myself, so I certainly do not hold disbelief against you. These things take time for many of us in an age where we feel so secure in our own knowledge and power.

    You might say we are very proud and very rich with knowledge.

  41. The main point Totonto (since I never got to it in that last post)is that I am not trying to sell you on my morality or ideas. I suppose I still have a few mistakes of my own that show themselves from time to time, but on par I am not doing that at all. Nor am I trying to suggest you look at the ideas and wisdom of a number of self proclaimed prophets and philospophers who can very easily be shown (and the truely Judeo-Christian ones would freely confess) to be hypocrites to one degree or another.

    I only point to Christ. I point you to His example, words and deeds, not my own.

    Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

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