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Scientists, theologians ponder if latest biological findings are more compatible with …

A pamphlet for the “Religion, Society, and the Science of Life” conference, top, and the ceiling of the Christ Church Cathedral at the University of Oxford. Pamphlet courtesy of University of Oxford, photo courtesy of Hans Bernhard/Creative Commons

OXFORD, England (RNS) — When Charles Darwin published his landmark theory of evolution by natural selection in the 19th century, religious leaders were confronted with a powerful challenge to some of their oldest beliefs about the origins of life.

Then evolutionary theory was expanded with the insights of genetics, which gave further support for a scientific and secular view of how humans evolved.

Faith and tradition were forced further onto the defensive.

Now, exciting progress in biology in recent decades may be building up a third new phase in the scientific explanation of life, according to thinkers gathered at a University of Oxford conference last week (July 19-22).

Although this 21st-century wave has no single discovery to mark its arrival, new insights into developing technologies such as genetic engineering and human enhancement may end up giving another important boost to the belief that science has (or eventually will have) the answers to life’s mysteries.

Some scientists, theologians and philosophers see in this ever deeper knowledge of how genes work a possible alternative to the more reductive approach to evolution — one that brings in a broader view that also considers the influence of the environment.

Oxford lecturer Donovan Schaefer. Photo courtesy of University of Oxford

Unlike the earlier views, which seemed to lead toward either agnosticism or atheism, the theologians see this “new biology” or “holistic biology” as more compatible with religious belief.

“We’ve added definition to the picture of evolution that has deepened and enriched our understanding of biological processes,” Donovan Schaefer, an Oxford lecturer in science and religion who co-organized the conference, told the opening session of the July 19-22 meeting.

But he added: “It would be naive to imagine that the grander questions about biology, religion, the humanities and evolutionary theory generally have been put to death.”

The achievements on their list include new fields like epigenetics, the science of how genes are turned on or off to influence our bodies, and advances in cognitive and social sciences that yield ever more detailed empirical research into how we behave.

Waiting in the wings are new technologies such as genome editing, which can modify human genes to repair, enhance or customize human beings. Scientists in China are believed to have already genetically modified human embryos and the first known attempt to do so in the United States was reported this week (July 26).

Schaefer compared today’s deeper understanding of biology to the higher resolution that photographers enjoy now that photography has advanced from film to digital images.

Genes once thought to be fairly mechanical in influencing human development — leading to the “my genes made me do it” kind of thinking — have been found to be part of complex systems that can act in response to a person’s environment.

The Radcliffe Camera, a reading room of the nearby Bodleian Library, at University of Oxford on July 22, 2017. The unique building originally housed the Radcliffe Science Library. All Souls College is in the background. RNS photo by Tom Heneghan

Since scientists succeeded in sequencing the genome in the late 1990s, they have found that epigenetic markers that regulate patterns of gene expression can reflect outside influences on a body.

Even simpler living objects such as plants contain a complex internal genetic system that governs their growth according to information they receive from outside.

To theologians who see a “new biology” emerging, this knowledge points to a more holistic system than scientists have traditionally seen, one more open to some divine inspiration for life.

In this view, the fact that epigenetic markers can bring outside pressures to bear on the genome deep inside a human means genetics is not a closed system, but part of the wider sweep of nature in which they, as religious thinkers, also see God’s hand.

Professor Alister McGrath, director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. Photo courtesy of University of Oxford

“Nature is so complex and rich and that prompts questions about why on earth is this the case? If you’re an atheist, how do you explain a universe that seems to have the capacity to produce these things in the first place?” asked Alister McGrath, an Oxford theologian who is director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion that hosted the conference.

This in turn opened a space for theologians to augment the discussion about the “new biology,” he said.

Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at New York’s City College with doctorates in genetics and evolutionary biology, also said scientism — the idea that science can answer all life’s important questions — was too limited.

“Science informs and grounds certain philosophical positions; it doesn’t determine them,” he said. “But the data can’t settle ethical questions.”

Pigliucci agrees with the trend to use the evolutionary paradigm to analyze fields outside of biology, including topics such as ethics and morality.

“The life sciences tell us that the building blocks of what we call morality are actually found — presumably they were selected for — in nonhuman social primates,” he said. “Science gives you an account of what otherwise looks like magic: Why do we have a moral sense to begin with? How did we develop it?”

Not all present agreed that science could explain religion.

“Some suspect that biology has triggered some kind of devotion and there are too many people who practice this cult,” said Lluis Oviedo, a theologian at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome.

His own research has found at least 75 books and academic articles trying to explain religion through evolution and he knew of about 20 more on the way, he said.

Although he thinks, “the time of explaining through radical reduction is over,” he admitted few biologists seemed ready to accept the more holistic “new biology.”

Even some scientists at the conference, while ready to engage with the philosophers and theologians, showed less interest in discussions about whether a “new biology” was emerging.

A dawn fog on Christ Church Meadow obscures the view of the historic University of Oxord in England. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Tejvan Pettinger

“I’m pragmatic,” explained Ottoline Leyser of the University of Cambridge, whose lecture on plant genetics was one of the conference’s highlights.

Theologians in the decadeslong science and religion debate, which argues the two disciplines complement each other, have also become more pragmatic as their dialogue proceeds.

Oxford’s McGrath said the theologians had become more modest in the claims they made about what religion could contribute to this debate. Unlike some more doctrinaire scientists, he said, they did not think they had all the answers.

“They don’t say ‘These observations in nature prove or disprove God,’” he said. “Our religious way of thinking gives you a framework which allows you to look at the scientific approach to the world and understand why it makes sense, but at the same time also to understand its limits.”

“Those things need to be in the picture if we’re going to lead meaningful lives.”

A DNA strand next to the title of the series.

These stories are part of a series on science and religion, brought to you with support from the John Templeton Foundation. Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation. (RNS logo, John Templeton Foundation logo}

About the author

Tom Heneghan

Tom Heneghan is a Paris-based correspondent


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  • Unlike the earlier views, which seemed to lead toward either agnosticism or atheism, the theologians see this “new biology” or “holistic biology” as more compatible with religious belief.

    Obviously theologians are going to see their religion in everything. They start with a conclusion and try to twist the “evidence” to meet their beliefs.
    This article is just word soup intended to distract from the fact that they have no real evidence to back up their absurd claim.

    “Nature is so complex and rich and that prompts questions about why on earth is this the case? If you’re an atheist, how do you explain a universe that seems to have the capacity to produce these things in the first place?”

    Not by giving up the search for real scientific answers and falling back on the dangerously intellectually lazy “God did it” argument.

  • “Nature is so complex and rich and that prompts questions about why on earth is this the case? If you’re an atheist, how do you explain a universe that seems to have the capacity to produce these things in the first place?”
    And maybe, it’s just the nature of how life works. We can’t possibly know, because we haven’t seen life anywhere else yet. But saying “I don’t understand it. It must be god.” is simply lazy, or religious. Whatever it is, it isn’t science. And even were it science, your next task is to prove the god you say exists is any particular god, let aloner the Jewish god, let alone the three in one Christian god.

  • Except for individual scientists who have religious beliefs, science doesn’t give a rat’s posterior about how their research affects religion or whether there is or isn’t a god(s). Religion (Christianity) gets its answers from a 3000 year-old book full of unscientific statements. It has absolutely nothing to contribute to science. Sciences such as neuroscience will soon be able to uncover the “mysteries” of religion and faith.

  • Religious apologists will always try to reconcile their faith with scientific advancement as they know science strives to uncover the “truth” about our natural world. Science trumps religion.

  • A very interesting and compelling article, with quite a bit of give a little, take a little, from those quoted in the story, with some notable exceptions. However, my personal observations of humanity, the natural world, and the essential order of the universe only daily reinforce my conviction that God, as delineated in the Bible, is the Master and Creator of all things. It’s quite simple really. I feel great sorrow for those who can not glimpse these patent realities.

  • “Not all present agreed that science could explain religion.”

    I’d like to contribute to the ability of science to explain religion by offering my own unique view that a higher kingdom descending to the earth through the bodies and minds of humans helps to explain religion. I find this kingdom, which I named girasas, through reading and studying, but also through experimentation.

    I have a degree in psychology and when I was 19 I endeavored to try experimenting on my own to discover whether claims of Ascension and powers were true or not. I studied theosophy and St. Germain Foundation for 20 years. I had an epiphany in 1995, which led me to begin discussing a girasas kingdom descending into humans. Since then I found new books written by God in the 1990s, through authors, Ceanne Derohan and Emily Windsor-Cragg.

    If I could be considered a female scientist, I could present a new theory of evolution which explains religion, namely Genesis as the start of the fifth human race and the first girasas race (the creation), virgin birth being girasas working into form through humans, Adam being a shista buried on earth after each race in the last round (there are 7), Jesus being an example of a future sixth race to begin in 400,000 years after a shista is uncovered, sacrament being blood and body for growth of girasas in us, and many more, including angels involve and occupy animal forms, plants, and minerals after departure of evolving animals, which ascended off earth.

  • Of course you presume it’s your god. Rest assured, that if there was an intelligent creator(s) it was most certainly not the god of the Bible as the Genesis account of creation is scientifically unsound and disqualifies him from consideration.

  • I usually avoid replying to you in a spirit of asperity, but in this case I can only say, your argument is utter nonsense. As pointed out quite rightly in the article, science has not as yet discovered either all the answers or all the potentialities. To assert otherwise is mere rationalistic arrogance, which is something altogether different from rational argument.

  • Without taking sides on the implications of this new theory of genetics to theology or to science, there does seem to be a little whiff of the old “God of the gaps” arguments.

  • Just because “science has not as yet discovered either all the answers or all the potentialities” does not mean we default to “God” as any sort of explanation. Any of the numerous “Gods” as described by ANY of humanity’s religions or scriptures cannot possibly be brought into a lab and subject to testing and hypothesis. So why in the world would any bona fide scientist be interested in a religious explanation?

  • “Nature is so complex and rich and that prompts questions about why on earth is this the case? If you’re an atheist, how do you explain a universe that seems to have the capacity to produce these things in the first place?”

    So theologians are responding to new scientific developments with the same “puzzlement” about atheism

  • Edward – the fact that the search we call the scientific process has not yet (and probably never will) “discovered either all the answers or all the potentialities” is simple God-of-the-gaps thinking. The fact is that the process has discovered so much that we now have reliable medicines, means of travel, communications etc. etc. set against what? – a belief, no doubt sincerely held, for which you don’t (to your credit) even attempt to provide evidential support. “my conviction that God, as delineated in the Bible, is the Master and Creator of all things.”

    Would it surprise you to know that “I feel great sorrow for those who can not glimpse these patent realities” when “those patent realities” seem only to exist in your mind comes across as both arrogant and sad to those who’s realities are based on demonstrable, repeatable, reliably useful “realities”.

  • This article leans on everyone’s ignorance of epigenetics to try to provide cover for yet another tired “God of the shrinking gaps” argument. Ouch. It’s as if the author was completely unaware of how the weak effect of epigenetics is simply the result of methylation (the attaching of a CH3 molecule to a chromosome).
    A religious attempt to sound reasonable by using an unknown word like “quantum”, “vibration”, “entropy”, or, now, “epigenetics’? Say it ain’t so!

  • I can make Genesis scientific if you just think of creation occurring when humans were a newly formed 5th race after being on earth 300 million years, not physical until the 3rd race (a separate form existence, newly split from 7th race animal). The creation occurred due to the arrival on earth of an evolving girasas kingdom and all manner of their involving angels, spread from girasas down to lowest elements. Humans are accompanied by involving animals that appear in more advanced forms than evolving animals which have progressed only halfway in their evolution towards being human – the 25th stage out of 49 stages is an animal like the dinosaur. Involving lives are angels and progress by obedience. Evolving progress by free will.

  • (Edited)

    “science has not as yet discovered either all the answers or all the potentialities. ”

    I never claimed that and neither does science. Science deals in probabilities and puts forth the best model based on available evidence. Many things will likely never be known because no evidence is available. We can go back to within nanoseconds of the Big Bang Theory because we can test hypotheses using the Large Hadron Collider. We don’t even know that the BB was the beginning of “everything”, just the universe that we know of. We don’t know how life originated – we can only go so far back. And these are theories. You, on the other hand, state with conviction and certainly that the origin of the universe and life is in the pages of a 3000 year old book whose accounts are scientifically inaccurate and it is very highly improbable that Genesis has the answers. But you are correct in that I am too absolute when it comes to my dismissal of religions and their gods and I will watch that. Do you feel other religions are wrong and, if so, are you absolutely sure?

  • “More compatible with religion”, how, brother Tom Heneghan? On account of:

    (1) This? That now “science has (or eventually will have) the answers to life’s mysteries”? But it always has them, and still it remains IN-“compatible with religion” and IN-“compatible with religious belief.”

    (2) This? That “genes are turned on or off to influence our bodies”; and that “epigenetic markers that regulate patterns of gene expression can reflect outside influences on a body”? SO WHAT? That doesn’t at all mean that “genetics is not a closed system, but part of the wider sweep of nature … (by) God’s hand.”

    Give me, an anti-science born-again Christian, a genome break already! God’s much bigger than this. Just scientifically IN-visible, hence IN-compatible, is all. He made sure of that, because He demands unadulterated and non-adulterous FAITH-IN-JESUS. So GIVE IT UP if you don’t have it in the 1st place or by now; what’s the point, man?

  • There you go, Tom, what Equinox1 said, confirming my born-again Christian point earlier of the intended god-lessness of science and of all objects of science. God is forever scientifically IN-visible, hence confounded and stupid- I mean dumb-founded. God’s not stupid like all scientismists, doncha know.

  • If He’s in them gaps, count me an atheist in a heartbeat. I checked. Only Trump and The-81% are there. See? No atheist, me.

  • I wonder whether you understand what would be required to “make Genesis scientific”

    The stages of the scientific process include, an hypothesis, the collection of data and, if appropriate, the performance of strictly controlled experiments, analysis of the data using standard statistical methods, peer review, publication, replication of the data/experiments and exposure to critical investigation. It is also a requirement that the findings are such as to be able to be proven wrong (such as, in the case of the scientific theory of evolution, finding a fossilised rabbit in pre-cambrian rock).

    I accept that you have an hypothesis – I can’t see any science. Care to enlighten me?

  • ” I studied theosophy and St. Germain Foundation for 20 years.”

    Perhaps not the best basis for understanding the concepts of “science”.

  • “reinforce” – not the right word. You & I already believe – no “reinforce”-ment necessary. The word we hear is without visible words. Our “Master and Creator” made sure of that. Those with ears to hear, let them hear – not our visible ears, those – but the invisible ears of The Invisibly Invincible. Point taken, though, and I agree with you, brother Edward.

  • God’s aren’t “demonstrable, repeatable, reliably useful ‘realities’.” He made sure of that so you don’t get to see and believe Him like Edward and I do. Oh and there He goes. Oh right under your feet. Lookee. Nah. Too slow, dude. To believe, that is. Jesus complained like that too. Go figure. No science required. Who’s foolish now?

  • They wouldn’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t. Couldn’t anyway and anyhow. “H-h-hap-happy” now? Line from prog rockster Mike Oldfield.

  • God offers “no real evidence”. He made sure of that so you don’t set to see and believe Him in Christ Jesus. No scientific feat, this. Watch out and beware, though. Science has effectively and diabolically instilled in you (brainwash-like) the Religion of Doubt whose gods go by the name of Reason, Hypothesis, Argument, Critique and John Lennon, RIP.

  • “Nature is so complex and rich, and that prompts questions about why on earth is this the case. If you’re an atheist, how do you explain a universe that seems to have the capacity to produce these things in the first place?”

    That was an excellent, rational question. You are blatantly ducking it. So let me offer you a rational reason to stop ducking it. Just click here (and yes, I wrote it):

  • While the Idea of God is not testable in the laboratory sense as you point out (He is entirely too exquisite and incomprehensible under present circumstances to be confined in such a limited fashion), many of the great “bona fide scientist(s)” of recent history; i.e. the past 200 years, have had no difficulty in discerning God in the details of the material universe. That their explanations and convictions are not conversant with the views of other scientists does not delegitimate them

  • I am in fact convinced that other religions are wrong, and yet it is difficult to frame an argument that someone from the outside looking in will appreciate, though of course in your own case there is a past history of religious faith. Also, the bible itself records in the Book of Acts, and other texts, that people are in fact persuadable when moved to do so. Of course that leaves the argument as to whether they are persuaded by the Spirit of God or their own neediness and credulity, I am trusting in the former likelihood What I can and do appreciate is your own sense that you may be on occasion be “too absolute” in your dismissal of religions and their gods and are prepared to temper that against possible future evidence suggesting otherwise, if I do not misinterpret you. I do not deny what appears to be a certain dogmatism on my own part, but that is more a function of the limited nature of this forum, than the lack of an ability to frame a comprehensive argument; and the usage of hyperlinks to “prove” my point is probably not going to be effective because all of us can scurry to websites which reinforce our views, but will not necessarily be effective in convincing others, the tension between objectivity and subjectivity is often difficult to overcome.

  • Some people are simply fine with living with a question mark until science or some other discipline provides an answer. Others, absent a logical or obvious answer, drop in the God of the gaps. How did the Universe come to be? Don’t know… hope they figure it out in my lifetime. Oh, it was God? Cool! How did God come to be?

  • Hocus pocus and booga-booga and shazam were already taken, so they went off to the Irrelevant Big Words store to find something else to talk about.

  • I’ll bite. That iron sharpening the iron in my thoughts lately. Why create “genitalia” in the first place if “gay people” can’t glorify God with them? Hmm. No holds barred with topic selection here. But like I said I’ll bite.

    Shadows & Realities. Even ancient Greek superthinkers refer to them, but what do they know. I’m referring to apostle Paul’s version. That Genesis’ version of humans – via Adam I – bearing God’s image is game-over and done with. Now it’s gospel’s versions of born-again Christians – via Adam II – bearing Christ Jesus’ image.

    Stay with me now.

    So. Adam’s “genital” is obsolete. Hold on, I didn’t say Jesus’ next. He fulfilled Adam’s genital’s God’s imagery, because Jesus fulfilled entire laws of God – including sexuality, male’s and female’s. Now it’s Jesus’ spiritual sexuality’s turn. He’s being married off by His Father God to … The Bride, The New Jerusalem, etc.

    Old Testament’s reference to Promised Land’s being married to God is a mystery-solved!

    Fast-forward. The spiritual enthusiasm inherent in born-again Christians’ personal relationship with Jesus, their Lord & Savior, is – get this – the Reality of the Shadows of Adam-and-Eve’s sexuality performed via “genitalia”. Loving God. Loving Jesus. Loving brothers and sisters in Christ. These are all those Realities.

    Now, as for “gay people”. They’re revelling in Adam’s genitalia syndrome. Experiment. Authenticate. Love. All true. Undeniable. Let them, I say. Because God too gave that up according to Romans, and He too says, Let gay people be! No skin off My Nose. If that’s what they want.

    But don’t they want the Super-Realities of “genitalia” as aforementioned? No? OK then, so let them. They’ll live up to 100 years old, enjoying their experimented, authenticated, and truly loving relationship via “their genitalia”.

    And then they, like the rest of the straight and narrow like me, DIE.

    You asked for it, you got it, Toyota!

  • I did not duck anything. The question is far from rational. “You can’t explain this with science, so MY specific god did it” is a cop out. No real study was done nor was any evidence shown beyond the dogmatic hypothesis.

    Now, if you can link me to a study with actual evidence that is strong enough to survive peer review, then you could argue that I ducked the question. But the person asking the question clearly has no actual data to base his position on.

    At least the scientifically minded have the humility to admit when they don’t fully understand something. To claim “god did it” while providing no evidence, and then demanding others provide REAL evidence to disprove that unsupported claim is unscientific, lazy, and pathetically self serving.

    Can you provide any actual data or evidence (not dogma) that his position is true? Or is he just being a hypocrite by demanding evidence where he himself clearly has none?

  • Methinks I smell sarcasm. But just in case you are not (getting hard to tell sometimes):

    Being skeptical of outrageous religious claims is the opposite of brainwashed.

  • While I do not agree with any of Brenda’s ideas here, I give her props for applying at least some sort of investigative effort to her beliefs rather than mindlessly regurgitating the same old religious dogmas.

    Sure they might be a bit… eccentric. But choosing investigation over mindless acceptance should be applauded.

    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey.

  • Mr. Worf, so how is “God did it.” any less intellectually lazy than “science will eventually answer this question”?

  • “Sciences such as neuroscience will soon be able to uncover the “mysteries” of religion and faith.” is as much of a religious statement (or “statement of faith”, as it were) as any other. Science is the pursuit of understanding of our natural world … science is only “truth” so long as what its adherents discover actually coincides as truthful.

  • Science is based on evidence. Those scientists have expressed their opinions and beliefs.

  • Butting in whilst passing – for me, because we daily enjoy the fruits of technologies which are demonstrably based on science answering questions whilst there is absolutely no evidence that god(s) ever answered anything.

  • The lack of a perfect answer does not validate the use of a silly one – however much the silliness may be desired.

  • Because scientific progress is not lazy. Scientists are not like philosophers and theologians, sitting around thinking about how things might be and making unsupportable claims. Scientific theories might start as hypotheses. But the process of finding and demonstrating REAL evidence for them is tremendously difficult and often ends in failure. The scientific process is the way it is because it has been proven to work very well.

    Looking at scientific data and saying “Wow. How complex. You can’t explain that. Must have been my god.” is lazy.

  • Very flawed example. Practically every scientist 200 to 100 years ago believed in the supernatural. It was part of the culture and fabric of life.
    How about instead we use as our sample all peer-reviewed scientists of the last, say, 50 years? You’ve still got tens or hundreds of thousands, the vast majority who would have GREAT difficulty in “discerning God the details of the material universe.” (Many studies have verified that, and can easily be found online.)

  • You are making a significant assumption that belief in something super-natural automatically makes someone intellectually lazy.

    The scientific method intrinsically produces more questions than answer, and the questions grow exponentially in number relative to the answers. Also, the scientific method is predicated on many things that are just “are”, such as the properties of matter. The more we investigate the things that just “are”, the more questions that get generated.

    Perhaps you should instead focus on intellectual honesty, as opposed to accusations of laziness … you’ll likely discover that the most common conclusion of scientists is “we don’t know”, and not “we don’t know, but we’re absolutely positive we’ll find out”.

  • Not saying you’re brainwashed. *Like*-brainwashing. Skepticism comes out of an instilling process, must come from somewhere. It comes from reasoning, evidence-analysis, questioning, debunking, counter-theorizing. From 6th grade until sophomore year in college until dissertation summation. Long time brainwashing we call education and enlightenment and expertise. There’s casualty. Target for elimination: primitive superstition, premodern religion, traditions. Acquisition: skepticism, secularism, atheism, Religion of Doubt, religious none.

  • I’m not sure what you are trying to say. Your post is all over the place.

    Skepticism is simply not believing what you are told unconditionally. It is the logical reaction when offered unsupported claims. If anything, it is the antidote for brainwashing and indoctrination.

  • Reword the rational question to be more in keeping with our observations:

    “Nature is so complex and rich and full of death and suffering and that prompts questions about why on earth is this the case?”

    If you insist on there being some sort of omni God then the ‘reason’ for what we see has to explain all of what we see, not just the fluffy bunnies.

  • There is zero mention in the Bible of evolution or genetics, therefore either God didn’t understand evolution and genetics or … God doesn’t exist.
    We have bio-evolutionarily derived heritable moral intution, and learned moral reasoning.
    There is no “new biology” (in relation to religion) but there is new (redoubled) accommodation by religionists who now see the error of their way but are now desperate.
    Religion and science remain entirely incompatible. Science has the tools to seek truth whereas religion does not. There is, however, room for “new philosophy” to meld with scientism, commence more widespread and intense teaching of STEM, and find meaning in awe of our oneness with the universe and each other. Science has brought more good to society than religion ever will.
    What is, rather than what ought to be.

  • Because the latter answer prompts further inquiry and study. It demands the gathering of evidence and consideration.

    Saying “God did it” is just lazy BS for people with no desire to seek a reasonable answer.

    Science produces answers which are objectively credible and acceptable. Religion produces answers which demand preexisting belief, faith and don’t have to be accepted by anyone.

  • So you are annoyed with science because it requires you to think about answers and demands further inquiry.

    You are satisfied with religious answers because there is no thinking involved.

    But the main problem you can’t seem to grasp then is why is that ability to find more questions is the reason why science is objectively credible. It is also why religion is subjective and requires coercion and emotional appeal to be accepted.

  • Numbers of adherents are not the best measure for the determination of truth, it was so in the past, and will remain so in the future. I would take a Pascal, a Pasteur, and a Newton, over many of those who function as scientists in the present system of things.

  • Precisely so, but not all scientists agree on the evidence or its value, and as I noted above, sheer numbers of adherents is not evidence.

  • It’s adherents have to probe the truth of their findings by subjecting you their evidence and methods to scrutiny.

    Religion avoid such reflection. Usually falling apart when subjected to the same scrutiny.

    Nobody has to accept a religious belief as true. Science doesn’t require belief. It is self verifying.

  • Born again Christians are generally cretins with no appreciation for anything beyond their own self aggrandizement. They want to feel important and more righteous than others. So they oppose science and political ideas which make them feel less special then they want.

    God may not he stupid, but he sure loves stupid people. That is why he made soooooo many of them.

  • My comment was in regard to: “Not all present agreed that science could explain religion.”

    See, a scientist is researching religion by studying the newest literature and concepts in the field.

    Here’s the concept: find a theoretical new kingdom descending into humans as part of a seven race theory of evolution and name it.

    The literature shares that one kingdom follows another in a descent followed by an ascent. The descent is accomplished by pairing with a lower kingdom and taking the form from it. The ascent is accomplished by pairing with a higher kingdom, learning as much as we possibly can from them before our time runs out and we have to leave to again descend into form through pairing with the evolving animals. It’s a logical cycle described in new religious literature, which is also scientific and philosophical.

    How can I promote my name for this new concept: girasas?

  • Well, I need the help of other scientists to do that. I need people willing to do the same purifications that I have done and research the same books and media to establish whether the process of connecting with a higher kingdom can be repeated or just someone to consider the books to find the same logical construct that I found.

    I expected to gain powers and reach liberation from rebirth. I hesitate to complete that stage now that I consider the girasas to be on their way here. I want to be where they are.

    Maybe an attempt to repeat the experiment could be in regards to another interesting facet of their being.

    This theory states 16 million more years of life on earth with them. That’s a lot of wiggle room.

  • It’s kind of the author to inform the discerning reader in the first paragraph that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that the rest of the article can therefore be ignored. Evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life; it describes how life diversified over time. A misunderstanding that basic on the part of the author disqualifies him from further commentary on the subject.

  • I thought scientific theories are never verified, they are just slowly falsified? No experiment can ever verify a theory, it can just disprove one.

  • You are confusing a scientific and layperson definition of theory.

    A theory is an organizational framework which produces the most useful interpretations. It is verified through its usefulness.

    “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world.”

  • Your thesis is flawed and your logic is bad. The Bible clearly understands heredity as being a real phenomenon, and it discusses heredity and natural growth in several places. Your argument that if some specific piece of scientific knowledge isn’t in the Bible then that proves God doesn’t know about it or doesn’t exist would be like me reading everything you have ever wrote and then saying some fact can’t be found in your writings, which proves you either didn’t know it or don’t exist. Your using a bad combination of the Argument from Silence and that absence of evidence equals evidence of absence. The next time your sharing your oneness with the universe, try not to share so many bad arguments.

  • What is methylation? It’s a molecule hooking up with another molecule of course, but what is a molecule? A collection of atoms. What are atoms? Atoms are collections of protons and neutrons and electrons held together by nuclear and electrical forces. What are protons, electrons, and forces? Well protons are collections of quarks, and electrons and forces like light photons are fundamental particles. How big is an electron? It’s mass is really small, and it has no spatial extent, it is a point particle. A photon is the same, only it has no mass and no spatial extent. So they don’t occupy space? Yes they occupy space, they just have no spatial extent, they are point particles. But how can something with no volume take up space? How can light fill the room yet be made up of things with no size. Add 0 up as many times as you want and you still get zero don’t you. And what is space anyway?

    Sometimes science had good answers to questions like these, but other times it doesn’t, and maybe it never will. Science after all is just human knowledge that hasn’t been falsified yet, and anyone who has ever learned about any branch of it in depth quickly realizes just how many questions there are that our current theories don’t even begin to answer. On top of that there is the fact that the basis of all our science, my specialty physics, has a set of ideas that we use that are logically contradictory, and that in many cases have been falsified. Quantum theory, which helps describe the behavior of your “simple” molecules, was falsified long ago. We’ve patched it up as best we can with the standard model, but it too fails in several circumstances. All physicists are aware of these problems, most however just turn to their faith in the holy method of science, and assure us all that even though we know the basis of all science, physics, is actually kind of broken, one day along will come a super special person who will think up something called the Theory of Everything, which will remove all our errors in thought and lead us to the ultimate truth. In other words, scientists are waiting for their messiah. I for one have already found my messiah, even though he didn’t wear a lab coat on his cross, and my trying to follow him has never stopped me from being a scientist or understanding anything science has to teach me. It has however stopped me from joining the Cult of the Scientific Method, and if you wish to hate me for not joining your religion that’s your deal, but please quit pretending that anyone who thinks that the scientific method might not always give you the truth or that the truths it does discover will eventually point to an all knowing, all powerful being is somehow stupid or crazy. It’s rude for one thing, and clearly false for another.

  • No, my definition of theory is pretty much the same as in that article, but no experiment ever “verifies” a theory, in which case it would have been proven true for all time. A theory about who killed someone in a murder case can be a scientific theory in that it correctly explains and predicts all available data, but verification of the theory would require you to catch the killer in the act or something close to it. No experiment ever verified Newton’s Laws, no matter how many times they seem to work. An experimental outcome can either falsify a theory or be consistent with it, but can not verify it and prove it true. If you wish to mess with the definition of “verify” from confirming truth to instead being consistent with an idea that’s your deal, but it doesn’t change the fact that experiments don’t prove theories, as any scientific non layperson like myself will tell you.

  • Aww not staying for the rest of the movie? … Can I have your seat, then? I snuck in but all seats taken. Oh wait. Can you go get me some popcorn. Butter with that, you say? Sure, why not.

  • “Religionists … are now desperate.” They’re losing faith, see. You’ve lost it since 7th grade; they know they’re next in line, in the twilight of their years. Me? I don’t even know gene from Jean. Ignorant, see. Smart move, God tells me, now and again. Keep up the faith and stay dumb in the eyes of the world. Think you can handle that?

    Gee, Sus, and OMG! – I know I can. You both have made sure that I can. That was a test and a trick question just now, right? Gotta go, I mean amen.

  • “Science and political ideas … make (you) feel less special” than the gospel of Christ Jesus?

    “Science and political ideas … make (you) feel less special” than the good news of salvation from the ransoming Fatherly love of God through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His own beloved Son, Christ Jesus?

    Do I have to answer that, Spuddie, and make me look stupid?

  • RB as expected issues denials and makes angry counter-statements but as expected provides zero proof from the Bible of understanding of evolution or genetic mechanisms because there is none.
    Religion itself developed as a community bio-evolutionary survival mechanism back when life was short nasty and brutal and nights were long dark and scary. Ancient hunter-gatherers used religion in cooperative collective hunting, gathering, planting, harvesting, trade, defense of the tribe and offensive war.
    Religionists are indoctrinated as young children when their neuropsychological systems are most vulnerable to regimentation. In addition the priestly class takes advantage by coercing young trainees in the persistence of the parent-infant relationship (God the Father, Mother Mary the Church, etc) into adulthood!
    Combine these two factors plus the strenuous regimentation of binding (religare = to bind) religious ritual and tradition and you have a grown adult deeply and emotionally attached to dogma, faith, scripture and personal revelation.
    Religion is about control of desire. To that end many Christian faiths foist on the unsuspecting that they are cursed forever(!!) with original sin and that they must adhere to church prescriptions, rules and regulations to obtain Redemption and avoid Eternal Hellfire. I believe one of the most disingenuous acts in the history of Mankind is the Churchs’ promise of an afterlife when there is absolutely zero proof of that and zero contact from the dead. Dead is dead.
    RB, because of this you practice illusion and internal discordance in your denial. You are intellectually dishonest to yourself.
    Unfortunately today, we see the height of absurdities and horrors of extremist religionists who have become delusional in their zeal!!
    Religion: “All in the head.”
    The burden of the proof is on the believer.

  • RB, you completely miss the point. Here is a whole article, and then your whole comment, stating that because science doesn’t know everything, your specific tribal god is in that gap. That’s why both of you spend so much time trying to say that science doesn’t know everything – to keep a tiny gap for your god to live in. Of course science doesn’t know everything,and that’s fine. A religion that is dependent on ignorance to find wonder is pathetic and impoverished. How can you not see the awe in what is real, the glory in the Universe around us? Why do you need ignorance for awe? Both you and the author confirm again what Carl Sagan said decades ago: “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant?” Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.” A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”

  • “fatherly love of God through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of his own beloved son”. That’s seriously sick. Anybody who would see “fatherly love” in that needs to get help fast. Killing one’s child is not “fatherly love”. Think about that for a second – just think for yourself instead of parroting doctrine. In your mythology, this is an *all powerful* god, so this torture & killing happens as he watches, at his will. He’s all powerful, so it’s silly to say that he had to sacrifice himself to himself in order to have the power to change a rule he made himself in the first place. It took my realization of the depravity of the word salad that makes up the central core teaching of literalist Christianity to allow me to break free of the controlling, indoctrination and the manipulative fear of a fictional hell. You can escape too – even though it’s not easy.

  • How do you expect things of me, you don’t even know me? Religion, according to brain scans, involves several things including higher reasoning, moral intuition, personality recognition ect. It seems it’s really just the way we think, not something which developed for our tribal ancestors because they were stupid scaredy cats, and I’ll bet a hunter gather or ancient farmer or soldier had a lot more courage and understanding of nature that your typical angry internet atheist. It also turns out from brain scans that everyone so far believes in God, and everyone is skeptical of him too. Everyone’s brain interprets events through our personality recognition system and wonders just why it is, and for what ultimate reason things happen. Everyone also has a system of skepticism in their brain that is skeptical of God, but it’s also skeptical of everything else as well, including it’s own existence. Since both ways of thinking are part of our brain, both will probably be with us forever. Since what you claim to believe then is mostly just a social pose, not something which your brain always thinks is true, then it’s quite likely that the people who claim that they are somehow beyond religion are actually doing it, but just in a different guise, with a different set of priests and rituals, but a religion all the same. Just wondering, what desires do you have that Jesus said were bad, and why are they in fact good? I can’t prove to you that one day I’ll be resurrected at the last judgment, but it’s certainly possible to put atoms together again in the order that makes up me, so I’m not really claiming something that is impossible, but it is one of the things I believe I can’t prove scientifically. What’s a belief you have that you can’t prove right here and now scientifically, and should I immediately mock it or give you the recognition that it might me true and give you the freedom to believe it and act on it without being rude to you and mocking you as someone who actually believes in ….?

  • This hypothesis states 16 million more years of life on earth with them. That’s a lot of wiggle room.

    There – that’s better.

  • You lost me at “find a theoretical new kingdom descending into humans”. (Actually you lost me a line earlier but I’m nothing if not persistent).

    You want to imagine an area of existence/land/territory owned by a monarch which somehow transmutes into homo sapiens (or pan narrans as Terry Pratchett very astutely and perhaps appropriately suggested)?

    And you want to promote this concept? – Why?

  • Roundabout jibber jabber.
    That’s why science (observation, theory, experimentation, confirmation, consensus) wins out over religion (personal revelation, scripture, dogma, faith, feelings).

    I’m cool on Christ. Christ, the MAN.
    There’s value to his humility, compassion, social justice, etc.
    What we know about Jesus was written by 70 to 100+ authors, who many decades later (never knew or met Christ!!) cherry picked and excluded important writings and gospels of others in arbitrary fashion. It’s was these writers who concocted Christ’s divinity, resurrection, etc.
    So, go do religion if it works for you. Just remember not to foist your attached *religious political beliefs* on others, deny scientific fact (evolution, biology, physics, etc), demand creationism in schools, oppress and discriminate against non-believers, or murder them in hate. Hate…in the name of God!
    The three great monotheisms derive from ancient myths of pre-scientific days, end of story.

  • Thanks Equinox1 – A masterly, surgical and concise refutation of one of the fundamental sillinesses of Christian dogma.

  • So you’d be rude. Every time you try to convince people that what you believe is true, are you foisting your beliefs on them? Are you a scientist, and if so what discipline? Again, what does Jesus say is bad that you think is good? Atheists have killed far more believers than believers have killed atheists, so I should statistically be more worried about you doing violence in the name of your belief then the other way around. What atheist principles lead to the conclusions that humility, compassion, and social justice are good things? What atheist principles lead to the conclusion that goodness exists at all apart from our desires? We don’t really know when the Gospels were written, but if you want to use the latest academic hypothesis about their writing date that’s fine. Paul’s letters were written in the 50’s, a mere twenty years after Jesus’ resurrection, and he clearly knew his followers and had his own experience with the risen Jesus. The belief in Jesus’ divinity is something his followers and their followers clearly had long before they wrote down the books we have about him.

  • It wasn’t atheism and atheists who killed in war (ex. communist Russia, China’s Mao, even). These politicians established atheism and attempted to eliminate religion because religion was a powerful force that could galvanize people to resist.

    I went all the way in school and reached the pinnacle of my career in science.

    You should know that all of the three great Abrahamic monotheisms derive syncretically from immediately preceding pagan societies and before that to ancient societies of Greece, India, Middle East, China etc.

    Now, please explain in detail why God created evil and allows it to persist then.

  • You are still doing it. Confusing scientific theory with layperson definition

    “No experiment ever verified Newton’s Laws, no matter how many times they seem to work”

    That is a contradiction in terms. If they work, the theory is proven.

    “An experimental outcome can either falsify a theory or be consistent with it, but can not verify it and prove it true. ”

    You are working off a self defined version of what it means for something to be “proven true.” If a theory is confirmed and verified, it is proven true.

    You are simply going through a glorified, “no it isn’t” argument. Why would a theory which is verified by evidence not be considered “true”?

    “Proven true” is a simplified way of saying it is objectively credible to the best of our knowledge and must be accepted based on current knowledge.

  • I never claimed any such thing, don’t put words in my mouth so you can debate something I didn’t even say. I’m simply trying to get the point across to you that you are practicing an atheism of the gaps as much as you claim I am believing in a God of the gaps. Science hasn’t proven the existence of God, therefore we know he isn’t real, which is of course both a logical and scientific fallacy. Sagan, who was a life long marijuana addict and occasional practicer of bestiality, was getting most of his “awe” from the pipe dude, not the grandeur of the universe. He also said that the discovered order of the universe is clearly consistent with a creator of the universe, but maybe that was just a pipe thought of his too. Just wondering, are you a scientist and if so what discipline? Do you believe in the coming of the scientific messiah and his revelation of ultimate truth, or is it possible that holy mother science doesn’t have all the answers and never will? Does science ever make mistakes? Of course it does, all the time. Check out what the scientific consensus was about things 50, 100, or 1000 years ago and you’ll quickly see how much of it doesn’t last because it was false. No doubt much of what we currently think of as science will be seen as false by our descendants, partly because some of it will be falsified, partly because they’ll be into other ideas that seem to work as well as ours but are based on different principles, and also partly because people get bored by old ideas and like new ones simply because they are new. Notice how when I ever cast doubt on the holiness of science and its method you just claim that even though science might not know everything, its will always keep getting closer and closer to the truth no matter what, and that if you dare not share that belief then you are not fully feeling the awe of existence, or are trapped in a little silly tribal god mindset, neither of which are arguments, they are just insults.

    Currently there is a replication crisis in science, as you probably know. Tons of supposed peer reviewed scientific findings can’t be replicated, meaning most of what we currently regard as science is really either just flukes or straight up lies. A believer in the method will of course say that this is all just the errors slowly being chipped away and that eventually science will contain no or almost no errors, but that’s a leap of faith, not logic or evidence based thinking. The evidence says science is just our brains observing and thinking about things, and since our brains will always make mistakes and lie, so too then will science. But it will make less mistakes and lie less often in the future according to the believer in the holy method. Isn’t that the same argument that the Church makes about itself? Yes the Church makes mistakes and people in it occasionally lie, but the holy spirit is slowly guiding it to a better tomorrow. As a member of the Church and a practitioner of the method of science I can clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of both groups and both religions, but since you have decided to go all in on just the method and make it your sole belief and scientists your sole tribe you of course have to think that your religion and tribe are the best of all religions and tribes, with everyone else trapped in bad behavior and falsehood. Now you’ll have to excuse me it’s Sunday and I have to get ready to go, in my scientific car, to my local little god cult meeting.

  • Isn’t that the No True Scotsman fallacy? It wasn’t really atheists killing in war, just their governments in the name of atheism, because no True Atheist would kill for his beliefs? I don’t know, in any scientific sense and neither do you, what monotheism emerged from, but I do know that how your ideas develop is irrelevant. How your ideas develop has zero bearing on whether they are true or not. I do know however that modern science as it currently exists emerged from Christianity, which is why is largely resembles it in many ways. Both scientists and Christians believe in an ultimate truth that can be discovered, both have comings of prophesied messiahs, Jesus for Christanity, the discoverer of the theory of everything for scientists. Many scientists are also turning on their parent religion like many Christians came to regard the Jews as being in eternal error even though the founder of Christianity was Jewish and the founders of modern science were largely Christians.

    As for evil, for God to create anything that isn’t just more of himself, which would be creating nothing since God is already infinite, God had to create something that lacked in a certain way some of his attributes, which would make it a creation that lacks in ultimate truth, ultimate goodness etc. but one that still contains truth, goodness, being etc. As an atheist, do you even believe evil exists or it just another word for something we don’t like?

  • “It wasn’t atheism and atheists who killed in war (ex. communist Russia, China’s Mao, even). These politicians established atheism and attempted to eliminate religion because religion was a powerful force that could galvanize people to resist.”

    Some clarification. Communists like Mao and Stalin didn’t seek to eliminate religion at all. They sought to replace existing ones with their own version. Worship of the state. With its own theology, idols, saints and customs. Atheism in their context merely meant attacking existing religion to replace with their own. Nothing to do with actual non belief.

  • It wasn’t. See my prior comment. Communists sought to replace existing religion with their own version. Hence cults of personality. Your attempt at guilt by association fails due to lack of depth in your knowledge of the reference. The ultimate proof for my contention is North Korea. Where the communist political system has become a literal religion with supernatural claims of its progenitors and outright worship.

  • They used the term “atheism”, but not the actual idea. Since they did not actually oppose religious belief, merely the object if it.

    Communism has far more in common with state sponsored religious belief than what everyone here associates with atheism.

  • But communists clearly said they did not believe in God, were they lying? Or were they just not doing atheism right? Every group of people have certain people that they look up to to admire and imitate, so it’s not surprising that atheists do as well. Would it be your contention that a group of true atheists would not think anyone is special or better or to be imitated above others?

  • “What atheist principles lead to the conclusions that humility, compassion, and social justice are good things”

    Empathy, reciprocity and not being a psychopath. If you required religion to tell you not to maliciously harm people, it speaks badly of your moral fiber. It means you are barely restrained from running amok because of a perceived divine leash.

    Religion in the other hand has been great at enabling repugnant acts under the guise of phony moral pretensions.

    “so I should statistically be more worried about you doing violence in the name of your belief then the other way around”

    As the magic 8 ball says, “all signs point to YES”. Too much immorality is done in the name if ones strongly held beliefs to claim religion is a source of moral thinking.

  • They were lying. It was a way to whip up opposition to reactionary state sponsored religions and consolidate power. Dictatorships lie all the time. Ideology always gives way to practicality.

    Communist regimes dealt with existing faiths in different ways. Vietnam had support of Buddhists, The Khmer Rouge shot them on sight, the Chinese neutered religious groups while keeping them around. Stalin brought back the Orthodox Church when the nazis invaded the USSR.

    Communists weren’t atheists. True or not.

    But if you are going to play that game, then you have to take credit for Christianity for creating the Nazis. If atheists are like Stalin, you are like Hitler.

    But I am not so rude to do so. Neither should you. 🙂

  • Nazi’s were not Christians, Hitler clearly believed that Christianity was a contamination of ancient German culture, which was one reason he initiated the holocaust, because if you can kill all the Jews you can also kill their idea of God. Are any communists true atheists? Are any atheists bad?

  • You are clearly more interested in casting aspersions and repeating nonsense people tell you about atheism than bothering to listen to them actually describe their views.

    One does not need to oppose belief to lack it in themselves. Do those who like to share their heads oppose other people having hair? Do people who do not like anchovies on pizza oppose all people having it? Nope.

    Your sense of threat and opposition to atheism denotes an insecurity in your belief. You cannot tolerate the notion that not only do people not share your belief, but no belief at all.

    Personally I don’t care what you believe. Just don’t use your belief as an excuse to he dishonest, to attack others or demand special privileges or credit for doing so.

  • More accurately, no one killed anyone in the name of atheism, but in the name of ideologies destructive to society, health, and happiness.

  • Empathy is not a principle, it is the ability to imagine what someone else is feeling and partially feel it yourself Reciprocity can just as easily justify stealing from thieves and raping rapists as it can justify helping your neighbor with their yard because they helped you with yours. Animals, which we are, clearly harm plenty of things, things they eat, things they fight for dominance and survival etc. Our natural moral fiber is not much better then Chimpanzees moral fiber, and chimps battle and fight and kill plenty. As do people. Brain scans have clearly shown that we enjoy suffering in others sometimes, that we are kind of greedy as well as being afraid of others greed, that anger is often the most powerful emotion in your brain. Either you can accept people as we are, in which case you have to accept murder, greed, group think, and a bunch of other supposedly immoral things as just our nature with no moral value attached to any of it, or you can imagine that there is some better way of living, some better principle than just what we have evolved to believe and do, some ultimate end to our existence apart from survival, and go with it, but in order to do so you’ll have to start acknowledging a higher power in this world than people or their behaviors or ideas, in which case you’re right back on the path to God.

    Can you show me in a clear logical fashion how the postulate “There is no all powerful, all good being creating and guiding the universe” leads to the conclusion that we should empathize with others and help them out?

  • True atheism is simply a lack of belief in god or gods. it makes no directions beyond that. The only difference between me as an atheist and you as a believer is that I believe in at least one less god than you do.

    Oh yes, and I’ve never used god to justify what could not be justified by sny other means,

  • Using the same criteria you used in guilt by association of communists and atheist, Christians are Nazis.

    Nazis relied on support from all state sponsored churches under their control. Their rhetoric merely repeated anti Semitic dogma of Catholic and Lutheran churches. The Holocaust was the culmination of centuries of church and state sponsored pogroms on Jewish communities. Those ghettos Nazis forced Jews into existed centuries before they arrived. It was only the removal of church power over a century before which allowed European Jews to even integrate into their society. The anti Semitic rhetoric was not invented by them. It simply updated longstanding Christian beliefs about the Jews.

    Nazis had no trouble finding collaborators to help commit atrocities. Christian religious appeals were employed regularly to do so. The last forced conversion to a Christian sect was done by Nazi collaborators in Croatia in 1944. People who were so sadistic towards Jews and Serbs that even German advisors thought they were a bit frightening.

    What was the motto of the Wehrmacht? “God is with us”.
    The Catholic Church didn’t even disavow it’s murderous antisemitism until 20 years after the end of the holocaust. The Lutheran Churches still grapple with that history.

    Of course this whole discussion came about because you are too rude and belligerent to bother to learn what atheists believe and engaged in guilt by association nonsense. If you want to call me a Commie, I can call you a Nazi.

    But where does that get us?

  • I have to chuckle as I read this because I have had this same exchange with this atheist and several others here. The upshot appears to be that it is quite in order to mock anything that smacks of “No True Christian,” (unless the person offering it possesses the requisite views on sexuality, in which case it is acceptable) but it is NOT in order to mock a “No True Atheist” fallacy.

    Christopher Hitchens created the argument that our perennially non-self-aware friend above makes, as a PR-oriented way of distancing atheism from the atrocities that atheist regimes have perpetrated but that can no longer be denied or ignored. Problem is, no one really buys it except other atheist zealots.

    “No True Christian” and “No True Atheist” are not similarly situated fallacies, in any case. Christianity has an exemplar of what we are to strive to be, and that exemplar Himself cautioned that we are to be vigilant for “poseurs.” No such exemplar exists for atheism (transcendence being an atheist impossibility) which leaves them all on equal moral footing. Therefore, anything an atheist says and does must be taken as a bona fide example of atheist behavior. There is no way to disavow it.

  • So you are telling me you are an immoral psychopath who only relies on religious belief to restrain himself. The more you stay in this topic, the worse the religious views of moral get. The fact they you are claiming without God you would rape, murder and steal says a lot more about what kind of person you are, than it does about religion or morality.

    Empathy is the source of moral thinking. We act well towards others because not only we don’t want to be harmed in return but we know that others feel the same way. It’s wrong because we can empathize what it’s like to be a victim of such behavior and don’t want others to suffer the same way.

    Reciprocity is a concept in all societies. Social order is maintained by creating direct obligations and penalties for behavior. It is reiterated in your religion constantly. Religion merely codified the concept, not create it.

    “Can you show me in a clear logical fashion how the postulate “There is no all powerful, all good being creating and guiding the universe” leads to the conclusion that we should empathize with others and help them out?”

    Given the atrocities, malice and bad behavior people do in the name of religion, you have to establish first they it is even a guiding principle for good behavior to begin with. You merely assumed that. All the while demonstrating that your moral fiber is merely a pretense under perceived divine coercion.

    Atheists perform charitable and positive acts all the time. People with no belief in God perform acts which benefit mankind. Great example, Atheist agricultural scientist Norman Borlag’s work in developing the green revolution saved literally billions of lives. He received nothing close to the praise and reward that brought.

    Religion doesn’t inspire moral action. Nobody ever claims God forced them to be charitable. People use it to excuse bad behavior all the time.

    My desire to murder, rape and steal is the same with or without arguments concerning the existence of God, none whatsoever.

  • Epigenetics is a branch of science that is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Such effects on cellular and physiological phenotypic traits may result from external or environmental factors, or be part of normal developmental program. The standard definition of epigenetics requires these alterations to be heritable either in the progeny of cells or of organisms.

    It is not a branch of theology.

  • I think many uneducated or ignorant religionists assume that atheists are hell-bent lawless amoral anarchists of some kind.
    Atheists want many of the SAME things that religionists do, then some!
    The TRUTH is today, the most secular nations score the highest on the UN Human Development Index. That is, scoring high on public education, clean water, availability of food, availability of medical care, freedom, representative government, low crime rates, low murder rates, good economic development, jobs, etc.
    Nations with the highest proportions of religious believers have the highest rates of murder, crime, rape, teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, political repression, sexual discrimination, etc.
    Like I said the three great Abrahamic monotheisms — Judaism, Catholicism and Islam — developed directly from immediately preceding polytheistic pagan societies. Before them came the ancient pagan cultures of Rome, Greece, India, Middle East and China that utilized some version of the Golden Rule.
    You should know that modern-day geneticists have shown that the human race never ever fell below a few thousands, giving us scientific proof that there was no “Adam and Eve.” Since we know evolution is true we would have to presume you believe your God (hundreds of thousands to two million years ago) took it upon himself to cruelly force a cataclysmic tough decision of choice on two uneducated wild low intelligence protohuman apes and when they made the wrong decision cursed them and all of their descendants into perpetuity with the indelible stain of original sin!! My point is since there was no Adam and Eve there was no original sin! If there is no original sin, no need for a savior, no need for redemption and no Resurrection!
    Go, ALL of you! I release you! No original sin! Go in peace!

  • The early scientists were in fact religious (de rigeuer at the time) and they were tasked with examining and expounding on God’s Beauty.
    Horrified with what the scientists found, the church then commenced with an aggressive campaign of repression, suppression, punishment, inquisition, imprisonment, excommunication, torture, burning at the stake and otherwise murdering, desperate as they were to prevent further uncovering of Truth. I can only imagine what a great society we would have today if the discovery of scientific breakthroughs and application of technology had not been delayed an entire millennium by the Church.
    I think it’s kind of funny that the Catholic Church has developed a schtick or division of the Church that grants miracles and exorcisms, desperate as they are in the face of the breathtaking raw truths of science, to maintain some kind of “proof” of (nonexistent) supernatural forces.

  • Minor correction, 1st off: “he had to sacrifice hi(s son) to himself. Catholic Trinitarianism is fake news.

    Now onto the epic level: theodicy. Know what that is? That too is Catholic fake news. Trying not to accept God is God As-Is. Jealous God. Vengeful. Consuming fire. Such like Old Testament God is still around. No choice here – take it (sure I do) or leave it (sure you do) – but this 1& only God – get this – invents “pain” in Genesis, then destroys it in Revelation. Ergo: God of Suffering He is and just loves to be! Don’t matter none that His own beloved Son gonna be caught between the start & end of suffering. Jesus’ crucifixion happened in the middle of it all, only to be taken over by the martyrs for God until the endtimes. They’ll be assassinated and massacred by the globalist new world order (the Beast) and the globalist one world religion (the Anti-Christ).

    Point is: that, my friend Equinox1, is the God and Father of my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. No God of All Knowing but Ever Doubting Science for sure. But the God of All Suffering.

    Fear this God, yo.

  • “Science hasn’t proven the existence of God, therefore we know he isn’t real, which is of course both a logical and scientific fallacy.”

    Science hadn’t proven the exist of unicorns, leprechauns, and the flying spaghetti monster. Therefore we know they aren’t real. Which of course is a scientific fallacy. 🙂

    Actually the fallacy is yours. It’s called shifting the burdens of proof. You have to prove your claims first before they need to be disproven. There is no evidence of God that anyone has to accept as true. You do not use on evidence for your belief. Merely faith. Nobody is required to accept faith.

    Scientific findings have to be accepted based on a the evidence. Belief and faith are unnecessary to it.

    Your god is unnecessary to science. Science has no relation to religion.

  • Yes, of course evil exists. Entirely natural as human desire can become uncontrolled.
    But not Evil — “Evil” with a capital “E.”

  • “Do I have to answer that, Spuddie, and make me look stupid?”

    You were doing that all by yourself when you post nonsense putting religion in opposition to science. The two are unrelated. God has no place in science. Reason and evidence have no place in religion.

  • I think it was Isaac Asimov who pointed out that the contest between science and religion was lost when churches started adding lightning conductors to their buildings – a long time ago.

  • No. Atheism isn’t a belief, it is a lack of belief. If you want people intolerant of other people’s religions, you need a true believer…

    Either a fundamentalist or an anti-theist.

    As an atheist, I’m am often defending Christians and others from the attacks of the True Blue Christians and the antitheists. Why? Because I actually believe if freedom of religion.

  • Hitler said his was a Christian movement. Their belt buckles bore the motto “gottt mit uns.”

  • No, Shawnie5. As for examples, your nasty Jesus of your Christian tall tails was a lousy moral example to strive to follow, having, among other things, made a weapon for himself and thrashed others with it who were doing no violence themselves. That’s par for the course for a god that also, according to your vicious and loony holy book AKA the bible, has been a mass killer and threatens humans with eternal torture if they don’t do its bidding. Your horrid god of your Christian story book actually has an excessive vengeance problem.

    Your particular god myth, with its absurd Jesus-on-sticks sacrifice nonsense, just happens to be a particularly easy god myth to take apart.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion and other superstitions.

  • Evolution is what has happened since the origin of life.
    The origin of life question is covered in a separate discipline known as Abiogenesis.

    Saying that “evolution by natural selection…… a powerful challenge to some of their oldest beliefs about the origins of life.” is like saying that the evolution of the car from Carl Benz in 1885/6 to today’s supercars threatens ideas about how the diesel engine was invented.

    Next numpty?

  • Givethedogabone outwitted! So there IS a God after all. And just because.

    According to Michael Flynn, “Lightning: A Double Hit for Golf Course Operators”, Marquette Sports Law Review, Fall 1995, Volume 6, Issue 1, Article 6:

    “The Texas appellate court ruled that … the lightning bolt (is) an act of God … The Supreme Court of Ohio … stated that … the act of God (is), in this case, lightning. … The Tennessee court stated that lightning is an act of God”!

  • Come on, man. You’re making me chase background info to what you wrote. I’m thru library catalog searching, dude. My favorite past time, that. Underscore past. So you win this round of 220. Time out. Wanna go for beer later? My treat for a brainiac. Bravo, my friend. Gotta tend to my cat.

  • I’m talking about a kingdom of nature. First remove humans from the animal kingdom, then specify kingdoms as mineral, plant, animal, human, girasas. Each kingdom is actually the “king” or top kingdom on earth for a period of time. Humans force evolving animals off earth by descending into them. A descent into matter causes the resident kingdom to ascend. There are usually 2evolving kingdoms on earth at a time: one is descending and one is ascending. It is accomplished in 3 stages or races, the new incoming kingdom hovering over the physical outgoing kingdom, then the two kingdoms sharing the form equally, then the old lower kingdom being pushed out into a hovering position prior to becoming non-physical and leaving the earth.

    This is basic theosophy. Only at the time of the fourth race, the turning point, is an evolving kingdom alone on earth will all of the natural life around it being used by involving lives or angels. One evolving kingdom moves from globe to globe with all of the involving angels to serve as an environment. The kingdoms advance onto a globe one after the other each time pushing out of forms the lower kingdom and its angels.

    We are told we are a fifth race on a 4th globe during our 4th round. This means the kingdom after the human (girasas) has just arrived to begin their descent into humans while their angels have advanced on all of the natural forms used by our angels. Our angels ascend with us.

    When one angel replaces the resident angel, it appears as if evolution is occurring, but both kingdoms are involving. Likewise, the advancement of the form used by the two evolving kingdoms gets accomplished by the incoming higher kingdom, but it is far below the stature hoped to be achieved for the new kingdom’s use during the 4th race. How is it evolution when two evolving kingdoms change places. It is more like something that deserves another name. We need a technical scientific term for twokingdoms exchanging places.

  • Sir, Blavatsky published a theory of evolution in 1888 in response to Darwin’s hypothesis. She was a woman who didn’t even have the right to vote. You should see the evidence she presents in her erudite discourse. Why don’t people want me to learn from this masterful world traveler from Russia?

    I guess I’m saying religion could be explained as something capable of producing perfected beings. These two kingdoms in one body could make something that appears as a perfect human. And the angels brought with the girasas could take forms far in advance of what humans are currently capable of producing and using for themselves. I just think it would be nice to see future humans with involving life in them as an example of what we could do if we tried.

  • Well, hello Max! Haven’t you got anything else after all this time except the same old blah blah blahbity blah in bold that has nothing to do with the thread?

  • It’s logically the same to say I believe that there is no gold at the end of the rainbow as it is to say I don’t believe in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so whether you count it as a belief in a negative or a negation of belief is irrelevant, either way it’s an assertion of a claim as to the nature of reality.

  • What would you accept as evidence for God’s existence? Just wondering, do you believe in aliens?

  • Most secular nations are dying as they have no children to replace them, because secular people don’t have enough of a sense of ultimate ends and get too caught up in the pleasures of the here and now. Europe for instance is largely enjoying a last hurray because it is using resources that would have gone to larger families for more toys and trips for adults, but everyone knows that Europe will not produce enough people to replace itself for much longer, much less pay all its socialist bills. When your precious secular societies fold and are replaced by either Islam or God knows what else most people will quite rightly conclude that Godless societies pretty much sign their own death warrant.

    As for original sin, I don’t really believe in Adam and Eve as described in the Bible, but every species has a first member and we are no different. There was a first person or group of people who were born with DNA different enough from whatever we evolved from that they were now a different species. Whether they were the first to sin I don’t know but I’m positive that at some point people clearly began doing things in a manner that even though they knew they were bad and would ultimately lead to no good in the end they still did them anyway. We are able to think through the consequences of our actions more than other animals, yet we still smoke even though we know about cancer, we overeat even though we know about the dangers of obesity, we watch porn even though we know it degrades our minds, and we even do obviously stupid things like try to kill everyone’s religious belief and tell them that all life and all existence is a meaningless sequence of random events, even though we know that that logically leads to people giving up on life because in the end what’s the point of continuing a meaningless random existence?

  • “Most secular nations are dying as they have no children to replace them” — a false statement.

    You have a dangerous mind there RB.
    Secular nations are falling in population and religious ones are gaining, true. Secular nations are falling in population because they have such great human and existential security (success!!) whereas religious nations score amongst the worst in the world for the UN Human Development Index. These poorly educated people (poor access to medicine, birth control, medical care) are struggling to live from day to day — to drink clean water, to have enough food to eat, to avoid discrimination, imprisonment, oppression, murder etc.

    “…it is those countries with the lowest rates of God belief that tend to be the “healthiest” in terms of prosperity, equality, freedom, democracy, women’s rights, human rights, educational attainment, crime rates, life expectancy, and so forth…”(Zuckerman, 2014).

    Why do some great religions like Catholicism and Islam still(!) persist in the very ancient prescriptions against abortion, birth control and children outside of marriage? Because there would be less Catholics and less Muslims!! Open your eyes to the world of Malthus where overpopulation and a steady increase in demand by burgeoning numbers in developing third world nations is literally causing the consumption, pollution and poisoning of the Earth.

    Today it’s religionists against religionists doing the killing!! Read before you rail! Become informed!
    What a closed narrow outlook you must have, especially against agnostics, atheists and the secular then.
    We look to dignity of life and respect for each other. And reciprocal empathy.
    We don’t pray to the Great Spaghetti Monster in the Sky or any other (prayer by the way, psychologically represents an infant crying to its mommy!). Do a half-assed job now, grab and go, destroy our planet, etc., because things will be better in an afterlife???!
    I and others like me get plenty of meaning from art, poetry, music, prose, plays, drama, etc., and little day-to-day moments and pleasures of the phenomenological approach. I am in awe of Nature’s beauty and the mystery of the cosmos.
    Develop a life narrative and lead a consequential life.

    To assign value to a non-existent entity, then forcing others to pray to it?! Oppress and kill them if they don’t? Very sad, very dangerous.
    Again, read before you rail!

  • Literal hand of God coming down to perform a miracle which can have no likely plausible mundane explanation. Not a description of one, not a video of one, but actually witnessed and corroborated (as to rule out psychotic delusion on my part)

    As for aliens, the existence of intelligent life in the universe is s given just based in the law of averages. The universe is truly that big. The idea that aliens have traveled across the vast distances between stars to mutilate our cows, probe our rednecks, and play practical jokes on ancient people, not so much.

  • Its true Hitler was probably not a christian despite constant use of the rhetoric. However there is absolutely no question that most Germans at the time were christians. Christians who were riled up by anti semitic propaganda to turn their jewish neighbors to the nazis to be arrested, enslaved, and murdered.

  • Why do you accept the existence of aliens with no proof at all with only a fallicious law of averages argument but demand God show up in your bedroom tonight and perform a miracle? Isn’t that inconsistency? How would you recognize the hand of God and a miracle anyway? How can you tell what is and is not a miracle unless you know all the laws of the universe and know something happened which violates them, which then means they were not laws to begin with? Let’s make it simpler. What testable predictions do the theist and atheist hypotheses differ in that we could test? If you meet the aliens and they believe in God would you think they were fools even if their planet and spaceship were really cool?

  • Because one is far more likely and plausible than another.

    Law of averages is not fallacious. Merely a shorthand for understanding the probabilities involved and a sample size that is literally universal in scope. Rational modes of study, evidence presented, and mathematical postulation all support such conjecture.

    Belief in God, especially your sectarian version of one requires the ignoring of rational modes of study and relied entirely in faith. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence. Nobody has to accept faith as a basis for belief. They choose to do so.

    God is so far from rational study, and evaluation of evidence that his existence requires the most extreme level of proof. One beyond any rational explanation.

    You do not believe in God because of evidence. You believe in God despite evidence. People who claim a rational basis for their religious beliefs are dishonest apologists with no trust in the power of faith. Religious believers do their religion a disfavor by engaging in such efforts.

    “If you meet the aliens and they believe in God would you think they were fools even if their planet and spaceship were really cool?”

    You are attributing positions to me without bothering to ask what I actually believe. I have never said religious believers are fools. Dishonest arguments like yours are common for people who are taught to demonize beliefs besides their own.

    If you thought religious belief could be proven true rationally, you must also accept evidence which disproved it. We both know you would never do that. So we can quit the dishonest pretense of applying rational modes of study to the belief in God.

  • There were Germans who were Christians and Nazis and just regular German soldiers, and many of them certainly did a lot of horrible crap, but also remember that Germany was also the most highly educated nation in the world at the time, so you could also argue that many highly educated, largely secular Germans participated in all the horribleness as well, and Germany at the time was certainly less Christian than it was in the past, so did the decline of Christianity have anything to do with just how crappy everything became? Probably a little, don’t you think?

  • So you are a sectarian bigot as well. Not too happy with the beliefs of the world’s largest Christian sect?

    Never understood the appeal.of anti globalist paranoia. After all isn’t one world religion what you guys are stumping for? That everyone believe as you do. Those who don’t are bound for damnation. It’s not like you respect beliefs besides your own, so why extol a world of different ideas on the subject?

    I guess one isn’t supposed to think too hard on sectarian dogma. It’s not meant for rational scrutiny.

  • No need to change both syntax and example to prove a point. These two statements are not equivalent.

    I have no belief that there is a god is not the same statement as…

    I believe there is no god.

    One is a statement of fact about me. I have no belief…There might be, there might not be, but I have no belief in it. I have no belief in the christian god, I have no belief in Zeus, etc.

    One is a statement of belief about the universe. I believe there is no god. NO christian god. NO Zeus. no Odin.

    But you see, you are wrong about me. Because I am an it doesn’t matterist. It doesn’t matter what I believe. “Not a sparrow falls but god knows of it.” But the sparrow still falls, doesn’t it? doesn’t matter to me. Doesn’t matter to the god. Might matter to the sparrow.

    Even if you could go so far as to prove there is a god, your next task is to prove which god? CHristian god? Zeus? Odin? My personal favorites are Gladys the Parking Goddess, who always seems to take good care of me, and Koschei the Deathless, Who Made Things As They Are.

    AS Koschei says, and which illustrates the difference perfectly…

    “What are your beliefs to Me, Who Made Things As They Are?”

  • So goes the story about the table talk. He might have changed his mind as time passed, but in the beginning, he made it clear hat Nazism was a Christian movement.

    But you see, it doesn’t matter whether Hitler was lying or not. Because the German nation was Christian when Hitler began, they were Christian during, and they were Christian afterwards.

    All you have shown is that religion is a tool for those who aspire to power. Two Corinthians trump proved how seduced by power conservative Christians can be.

  • Abortion is murder and slavery, and children outside of marriage bring a buttload of problems, as pretty much all social science data shows. Single motherhood is the biggest known predictor of poverty there is. Just wondering, do you have kids? If so, do you teach them that because we live in a random meaningless universe nothing they do really means anything or will matter in the end, even if they watch a lot of cool plays and write the best poetry ever, which would actually be impossible because there would be no “best” in an atheist universe as all standards would of course be arbitrary and random. What should the population rate fall to before we hit 0? And how are we going to pay for all the old people’s health care and golf without more kids to pay into the retirement system? We won’t , that’s the real answer of course. How will we ever explore and colonize the universe without an ever growing population? Oh, I guess we won’t be doing that as well, but at least we can all sit around without any kids bugging us while we look at paintings and act out bad plays for each other all day, before we have more sex that leads to nothing but our own infantile pleasure, because we will never grow old and need any kids to take care of us right? Oh wait, we’ll build robots to take care of us, robots that can feed us, wipe our ass, and pleasure our genitals all at once! Man I can’t wait for the great secular, childless, Godless world you are preparing to grace us with.

  • Is atheism necessary to science? Are aliens? Science is just testing your ideas to see if they are true, so the only thing “necessary” for science are ideas and tests, although what tests actually end up showing will always be somewhat in dispute, as how a test works and what it actually shows is kind of determined by what you already think is true or not.

    You also have to agree what constitutes evidence. If you met God and He convinced you beyond a shadow of a doubt He was real, but then said He wasn’t going to do a meet and greet for anyone else anytime soon, would you conclude that He was real or that you were hallucinating because He would not let you show Him off to your friends? Meeting God is of course an extreme example, but I know that you, like everyone, has had experiences that you then tried to reproduce for others to see but could not for whatever reasons. Is something that is irreproducible not real or just undetectable by the holy method? There is a lot of hidden philosophy that goes into science and what it deems true or not, and it’s not as simple as just saying I checked all the “evidence” because the vast majority of evidence in the universe is not available to us and never will be, and what the evidence means is never certain.

  • …remember that Germany was also the most highly educated nation in the world at the time, so you could also argue that many highly educated, largely secular Germans participated in all the horribleness as well…

    The use of old christian anti semitic rhetoric to promote extreme violence toward a specific religion is not secular. If I am not mistaken, Hitler is the one that tried to give nazis that label. And the education level is not relevant to nazi ideals as many of the most educated Germans were actually jews, many of whom fled from the rabid ideology. And MANY of the Germans participating in the atrocities were not highly educated. Hitler made distinct and deliberate efforts to appeal to the simple masses, most of whom were the children of peasants.

    From Mein Kampf:
    “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.”

    Hitler knew perfectly well the way to get devoted and angry followers was to appeal to the uneducated masses.

  • Atheism isn’t a belief. It’s a lack of one. Science does not use or require religion. Religion doesn’t require science. Separate magisteria with separate goals, methods and purposes. Mixing the two shows a fundamental misunderstanding and lack of respect to both. Your inability to appreciate the fundamental nature of religion and science cheapens them in equal measure.

    “like everyone, has had experiences that you then tried to reproduce for others to see but could not for whatever reasons”

    And this is why trying to pretend God can be treated in a rational evidence based mode of thought is a waste of time and inherently dishonest. There is no reason to accept accounts by others on their experiences. Excuses do not make a claim credible.

    David Hume already addressed this issue in the 18th century. Since it is more likely to be mistaken or lying than a credible account if a miracle, miracles will be inherently irrational to accept.

    So you are left with the only sensible basis of belief, faith.

  • ““Nature is so complex and rich, and prompts questions about why on earth is this the case? If you’re an atheist, how do you explain a universe that seems to have the capacity to produce these things in the first place?”

    If you’re indeed, an atheist, you wouldn’t likely even ponder such questions or even entertain the thought that “Nature (which) is so complex and rich . . . ” could have possibly occurred through the design, purpose and will of a Supreme Being!

  • David, you left out the inevitable conclusion, that “POLITICS trumps BOTH science AND religion! Science has become VERY political here of late!

  • This doesn’t sound like Atheist Max, who did put in a lot of bold but the language is different and he didn’t put in links. I think he got tired of RNS after the switch to Disqus and is somewhere on the Disqus religion channels, under a different name.

  • Oh, how did God come to be? That will never be answered on earth. Our finite minds could never comprehend it. That’s like Einstein explaining his theories to a gnat.

  • Please don’t tell us you believe the legal term “act of God” is an indication of theistic belief on the behalf of the court system.

  • It’s precisely the same answer as for how did the universe come to be? We don’t have the means of knowing. That doesn’t mean God did it. I’m fine with that. I’m fine with waiting on an answer. The main difference is we know the universe exists.

  • No ma’am – Blavatsky published an hypothesis of evolution in 1888 in response to Darwin’s hypothesis.

    One of the requirements for a hypothesis to move to being a scientific theory is that it has to be disprovable; another is that it must make predictions which are subsequently validated.

    Darwin’s ideas could easily be shown to be wrong – they have not been so far. Darwin’s ideas (indeed Darwin himself) made predictions that were later proven true.

    How could I, or you, disprove Blavatsky’s ideas and what predictions based upon those ideas have come to fruition?

  • He’s been back here at least once since the switch to Disqus, under the name of Aragon or somesuch. This particular guy may or may not be Max but Max talked in the same vein about how awful Jesus was, and often mentioned the same incident about Jesus beating the money-changers with a rope (which isn’t what happened anyway — the gospel says He drove the money-changers’ ANIMALS out of the Temple court with a rope). And he also had the same habit of jumping in with a bunch of spew and missing the entire point of an exchange; the point here is that a Christian exemplar exists, not what kind of an exemplar it is.

  • He just might – he really, really might – although the descent into raving imbecility does sometimes appear a little managed don’t you think?

  • You need life to have meaning. It has no meaning, other that what you wish to assign to it. But that doesn’t require religion, nor does it exclude atheist people from finding meaning in their lives.

    But the world doesn’t exist according to your perceptions. Your assumption is that only the ultimate plan of a god or gods provides meaning? Why should that be the case? Which God do you want? Does the meaning you claim to find because there a god and he has a plan for you not apply to people who don’t believe in your god?

    I find meaning in my life because I am alive. I give to others because that gives me meaning. But even if it didn’t, your insistence is that meaning is required? Why? And why is your god better than my god to give me meaning?

    Here is a better way to think about it. LIfe has only the meaning you choose to give to it, including your idea of god. It may have no meaning at all. But to say it has no meaning is not the same thing as saying it has no value.

  • The answer is stunningly simple.

    Good is better than evil because it’s nicer. I learned that from a comic strip 50 years ago.

    Treat others as you would like to be treated. Supposedly a guiding principle of Christianity, but ignored just as often as it is applied. Almost as if religion didn’t inspire people always to be moral.

    Empathy and morality helps us as social creatures of live together. Lord of the Flies doesn’t work as a social model. The Peacable Kingdom does,

  • In the context of DoggieBag’s comment? Sure why not. Good comeback, all legal eagle stuff, you must admit, versus Assimoff

  • Isn’t it religion that needs to be compatible with science?

    God created the universe, so scientific truth will follow the natural laws
    put in place for the smooth running of the whole shebang Anything that runs counter to natural laws is _wrong_ and will not survive scrutiny or even life itself. Anything that runs counter to reason is unsupportable and unbelievable, and will not survive scrutiny.

    Why would God create the universe with one set of rules (physics, biology, math etc), and then introduce a set of rules to live by that runs counter to it? It just doesn’t make sense.

    So, shouldn’t it be religion that needs to be compatible with science / the Natural Laws of God?

  • “Just because”

    see this is the problem – you want people to take this statement for no rational reason other than it’s what you believe

    Appeal to reason.

  • ” I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned.”
    Richard Feynman
    Nobel Laureate, Physics

  • ok whatever. All you need to understand is that “Act of God” is a legal defense referring to a natural event that leads to tort damages or breach of contract, that could not have been prevented by human hands.

  • He was Aragon the Atheist for a while but disappeared. He talked about getting banned, which happens more on the moderated Disqus channels than it does here.

  • “”…it is those countries with the lowest rates of God belief that tend
    to be the “healthiest” in terms of prosperity, equality, freedom,
    democracy, women’s rights, human rights, educational attainment, crime
    rates, life expectancy, and so forth…”(Zuckerman, 2014).”

    Got a link to that? Not being a troll here, just consistent. Its best to avoid quote mining or the appearance of it. Plus I am sure there is probably something interesting in the original source worth reading.

  • If he tends to get banned a lot, it’s not surprising that he would return as someone else.

  • I don’t have the link on my iPad, but there was a survey of studies done about 10 years ago that showed exactly the same thing.

  • Why, were you making a little slam at little old Me? I’m flattered, in a mosquitos buzzing around me sort of a way.

    But no. No one was killed in the name of atheism unlike the many who were definitely killed in the name of religion. They were killed in the name of the state, and in the name of ideologies destructive to human health and happiness., in the name of power, in the name of fear mongering.

    So, anything a Christian does must be taken as a bonafide example of Christianity? You keep claiming that that is not the case. You can’t have it both It both ways. Well you can, and you will. but those of us who are not your type of Christian say that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the propaganda.

  • And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables.

    That’s King James. And the sheep and the oxen. And. And.

    I guess thing suffer in translation. Almost as if the Bible is subject to whichever way you want the wind to blow.

  • Book reference:
    “Living a Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions” (2014) by Phil Zuckerman

    I have four other must read books if you seriously are seeking truth.

  • No, Shawnie5. I absolutely am not “Max”. Your delusion in that regard
    is just one more delusion that you sustain, alongside your religious
    delusion. You are clearly particularly prone to delusion, much like
    others of your religious ilk.

    Please find courage, for a change, to retract your unfounded accusation. The site moderators also know very well that I am not Max.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion and other superstitions.

  • You didn’t get it, Ben. Read more slowly. Anything Christ does is a bona fide example of Christianity, and our actions are only bona fide to the extent we follow our exemplar (He called it “abiding in Him” but it’s pretty comparable). You have no exemplar, nor is it possible for you to have one. Anything an atheist does is simply what an atheist does.

  • There is no “them” in the Greek of the passage, Ben. The verse literally says, word for word, that “having made a whip of cords He drove out from the temple both sheep and oxen, and of the money-changers He poured out the coins and the tables overthrew.”

    Go look up the Greek for yourself, if you’re at all interested in anything other than arguing.

  • It wasn’t my point at all. But you knew that. I’d have to speak Greek, and Koine at that, which I don’t.

    Here we have a major translation which ,according to you, is inaccurate. So much for the word o’ god, I guess.

  • As I said, look up the Greek for yourself. It’s quite easy to find an inter linear breakdown of any passage that interests you, which you can check word for word against an online Greek lexicon. If you’re actually interested, that is.

    It’s well-known that the KJV has a number of inaccuracies, such as the passage which calls the signs of the end of the age the beginning of “sorrows” when the Greek word is clearly “birth pains.”

  • BTW, I wasn’t referring to you exclusively. You’re certainly not the only lib here who tends toward hypocrisy. Spuddie, for example, has the same weakness, but more allowances may be made for him for reasons having to do with educational limitations. You, however, have no such excuses available to you.

  • Can we “be confident that reason can achieve knowledge of truth better than other ways of trying to achieve such knowledge”?


    Can “a life of reason, a life that aims to be guided by reason, be expected to achieve a happy life more so than other ways of life (whether such a life of reason results in knowledge or not)”?


  • “The phrase ‘act of God’ originally appeared in religious texts”. In 13th century the term specifically referred to all the acts that God has undertaken and are beyond human control.

  • Having come late to this exchange, I’ve noted a touch of what seems to be asperity on your part, which is not usual, and I know I mention that to you once in awhile. I only do it because your arguments are, from my perspective, always very sound and solid in terms of their evidence and sometimes silence becomes the best answer to those such as “Reason over Religion.” The last thing I want to do is sound preachy, not only to those who are skeptics but also to those I value as spiritual allies, I desire to speak calmness to you mostly as measure of its health benefits. God’s Blessings.

  • Right you are again, Edward. I was just thinking the same thing as I read ROR’s last response. If his compadres are OK with the kind of atheist exemplar he presents then I certainly should have no problem with it.

  • Blavatsky told her students that someone would come in the last quarter of the “next” century (1975-2000) to explain theosophy more fully. While I joined the T.S. in 1975, it never really occurred to me that a higher kingdom (named girasas) could live inside of me on earth and that the two of us could share bodies over a period of 3 races, first with the girasas hovering above the human, then the two at equal physical position (6th race), then with the human ascended into a hovering position over the girasas.

    This change in my thinking became an understanding of how 7 races can be better distinguished. The epiphany I had in 1995 made me urgently begin talking about this theory of evolution because I felt the need to bring attention to people not currently understanding what this could mean for all of us. Not even among the theosophists did they discuss this.

    It feels urgent to me to discuss because no one I know considers another living thing, more evolved, to be living inside of their mind and body. I feel as if I am the only one. I need to draw attention to this so that future researchers can start out with this hypothesis rather than wait 20 years as I did to be shocked into it occurring.

    Being vegetarian and purifying in all manner is what allows this kingdom to descend further into our awareness and joint operation on earth. I am hoping that others will be invited to try it out for the purpose of activating these great advantages for our country.

    The records of the Saint Germain Foundation include the accounts of a married scientist and musician. Guy Ballard aka Godfre Ray King, both witnessed an ascension in the woods of Mt. Shasta, CA and ascended himself. Ascension is similar to the account of taking a 4th or 5th initiation in theosophy. Rebirth into a physical body is no longer required. 5th race humans are ascending if they follow the instructions and work closely with the other Ascended Masters. It happened in the accounts of the two founders, the Ballards, in the 1930s, over 40 years after theosophy was presented.

  • There is always an out when you need one. Anything a Christian does, when he calls himself a Christian and claims he is following the exemplar of Jesus, is just as much a Christian as anyone. Even those segregationists you keep insisting weren’t real Christians like you. They said they were, and there is precious little in the Bible to say they were wrong.

    In this case, Jesus being all judgey and all, Christians of a certain sort are being very Jesus like, following his example, when they judge other people. Except that he told them not to. It’s hard to figure out exactly what the right thing to do is.

    Of course, you are absolutely wrong about me. I have exemplars. Jesus, for one, when he isn’t being a fundamentalist Bible beating Christian. But not because Jesus was God, or because Jesus was always right. Einstein was a pretty good atheist, as was Bertrand Russell, Ralph Vaughan Williams, and quite a few other people I admire.

  • Those are only your personally preferred exemplars. They signify nothing for atheists in general. There is no standard of what “true” atheism does and says and looks like, because someone would have to be qualified to formulate it and none of you are. You’re all on one level, and therefore unfortunately stuck with anyone who claims to be one of you.

    I’m sure it’s inconvenient for someone who relies so heavily on I’m-rubber-you’re-glue for all his debating needs, but it simply doesn’t work for you in this context. Sorry.

    “It’s hard to figure out exactly what the right thing to do is.” It’s not always easy, that’s true, but it would help a great deal to actually study God’s word in its entirety as Jesus urged us to do, with our goal being to discern the Master’s will for us and not to simply prospect for some small excuse to mock or attack the beliefs of others. That sort of thing invariably falls flat.

  • As I heard many times at HuffPo, “just an observation.”

    Now if I were actually “snarling,” I’d be bolding everything. ?

  • Again, you spectacularly preferred to miss my point. The same thing could be said of your Jesus. I know YOU don’t think so, solascriptorum girl that you are, but oh well. So many Christians disagree with you. It’s hard to figure which one of you has the real Jesus, and which of you your graven image, so to speak. As Emerson more or less said, “under the guise of your philosophy, I’m having a hell of a time figuring out just who the hell you are.”

    But thanks for the condescension. It always lets me know I’m on the right track.

  • Ben, I’m sorry but “other Christians disagree” has gotten very tired. It’s simply the outsider’s way of arguing nuh-uh without doing the homework. You will NEVER be able to figure out “the real Jesus” from the outside — outside the scriptures, outside the faith, and outside the workings of the Holy Spirit. He said you would not. And that’s assuming you even WANT to figure Him out, which does not come across at all in any of your postings.

    “But thanks for the condescension.” Oh my…so tempted to descend into I’m-rubber-you’re-glue!” But I won’t, I won’t… ?

  • But likely doesn’t equal certain, and I’m sure you have accepted accounts of others experiences without experiencing them yourself. God is certainly beyond mere human rationality, but nothing is “irrational” if is really occurs. Quantum Physics for instance defies several laws of classical logic, but that’s just too bad for classical logic isn’t it, because the uncertainty principle appears to be a real fact of existence based on experience. You also know I’m sure that all logical systems require faith to begin with, you can’t reason without axioms, and you can’t prove axioms with reason without slipping outside of what ever system of thought you are trying to create. Reason begins with faith, and is largely useless without it, since all reason really does is rephrase and combine whatever axioms you start with, so you never really prove anything that you already didn’t believe, you just show how your beliefs lead to ideas that you didn’t necessarily know were equivalent to what you believe.

  • The average German soldier wasbetter educated then the average Brit or American soldier, and almost all the high ranking officials were steeped in educational attainment. If Christianity really made people in Germany try to murder all Jews, why did it not do so for well over over 1000 years? Does it just take a long time to make people hate Jews to the point of genocide? There has certainly been a lot of Christian antisemitism over the years, but if it was the variable the causes attempted Jewish genocide it would have probably caused such a thing long ago. Even during the Black Death, when Jews were forced to lyingly admit that all Jews everywhere had poisoned every water well in Europe, Jews were not massacred as a race. It was only after the beginning of the decline of Christian Europe that things like the Holocaust started to become possible. Hitler’s obvious motive for the holocaust was his belief that through Christianity ancient Germans had been tricked by Judaism into not fully subjugating the Roman world they conquered, and it was his intent to not only finish what he thought was German’s rightful destiny as master of Western Civilization and then the world but also to make sure no crazy Jewish ideas like those found in the Bible would ever stand in the way of all that again, as the Christianized German barbarians didn’t fully enslave the Romans as they might have and started a German Empire instead of the fractured world the Middle Ages actually were. He had obviously been reading some Nietzsche.

  • But “plausible” isn’t evidence, if you were really all about the evidence, you would admit that the existence of aliens stands on the same plane as the existence of leprechauns. The God hypothesis is actually a little different that things like aliens and leprechauns, which are beliefs about the existence of material objects in the universe with certain properties. It is in it’s most simple form the hypothesis that the universe was created in some way by an intelligent being. In our current state of knowledge about the universe it, along with the other possibilities like an infinitely old universe with no creator or a universe that is itself God and created itself etc. is still certainly a “plausible” hypothesis, as the terms we are dealing with like “creator” or “universe”, are still somewhat ill defined, and therefore difficult to test for with things like logic or math. Is there a theist or atheist equation we can get predictions from? No, so since the God hypothesis is still certainly a possibility in our possible models of the set of phenomenon that is existence, the claim that “aliens” are more of a scientific idea than that of the idea of God is fallacious, as I can make models of all the known phenomenon like exoplanets and galaxies and people and dogs and computers etc. without drawing in aliens, but I am still stuck with the questions as to whether or not the model requires a modeler to exist to think up the idea of the model before I ever discovered it. If my idea about the Universe is true, was it true forever, in which case it was an eternal idea, which starts to sound like an idea in the mind of God doesn’t it. God is certainly an open scientific possibility, but aliens are not required in any models of current data at all. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in aliens too, but I’m betting just like you on new data to help prove that right eventually, as I am for some of my religious ideas, as are you no doubt as well.

  • The self-righteous smugness that comes from memorizing verses from this Bible translation or that one without a clue about the historical, anthropological or sociological context of any Bible verse, much less the one you polish as if it were Gollum’s Precious in The Lord of Rings. Worship of the Bible in place of the historical Jesus is the frequent error of the hallelujah crowd on their Jesus Jihad.

  • The fact is if an intelligent being created everything that means complex design and order must exist. This lays the foundation for the very science we utilize to understand how and why things work the way they do. Believing there is a God is a huge motivation to examine and understand the very creation that we have been entrusted with. We actually can operate with confidence that we as scientists can understand and utilize this nearly infinitely complex world in which we live. Believing in God does not mean we arrogantly blow off God…though so many do to their own detriment. Here we are, the crated investigating the creation and trying to figure out how we can dismiss the creator.

  • “It is in it’s most simple form the hypothesis that the universe was created in some way by an intelligent being. In our current state of knowledge about the universe it, along with the other possibilities like an infinitely old universe with no creator or a universe that is itself God and created itself etc. is still certainly a “plausible” hypothesis, as the terms we are dealing with like “creator” or “universe”, are still somewhat ill defined, and therefore difficult to test for with things like logic or math”

    WRONG. A god hypothesis is IMPOSSIBLE to test. No evidence does or really can exist to support it. It is not based on observation of available information, science or math. It is based entirely on personal faith.

    This is unlike aliens, which relies on the accumulation of scientific evidence pointing in such directions and merely extrapolates what we already know (The Universe is vast, life formed here, the conditions we know for our solar system which made life possible….).

    Evidence exists which can point to life on other planets, no evidence exists as to the existence of God.

    Your spiel is a dishonest attempt to pretend you do not require faith as the basis for your religious belief. That rational criteria and methods can be applied to it. It is a misrepresentation of your own personal belief and merely a rhetorical tool to give it a level of credibility and acceptance reality does not permit.

    If rational appeals could be applied to religious belief, it could be disproven by the same methods. But we both know believers would never accept such evidence. Therefore we can easily dismiss all pretensions that it was belief based on evidence in the first place.

  • You really should get a gander at Hume’s An Enquiry on Human Understanding. It is a quick read, fairly straightforward and covers your arguments (which were old hat by the 18th Century)

    “When it comes to miracles, then, to rationally believe someone who claims to have witnessed a miracle (a violation of the laws of nature), it must be less probable that the testimony is false that the miracle occurred.”

  • People do it all the time. That’s why fervent Christians change religions, or give up religion entirely. That’s why people get divorced, or married, for that matter,

    It’s called being alive.

  • The post to which you’re responding has almost nothing to do with biblical “context” but with logical fallacies. Perhaps you could take this screed somewhere else.

  • No, I’m not sniping at you. I’m just pointing out inconsistencies and assumptions. Remember, I’m the one that DOESNT tell other Christians that they not the right sort of Christian.

  • You certainly haven’t succeeded in pointing out any inconsistencies here. Your whole starting point with me was trying to contradict my statement about the money-changers, and NOT because you were at all interested in the actual gospel narrative. And that’s pretty sad.

    “I’m the one that DOESNT tell other Christians that they not the right sort of Christian.” LOL! But you have no problem with telling us which atheists aren’t the right sort of atheists. Got it.

    Do you really not see the ironies here?

  • Perhaps you are not anyone to play gatekeeper, even if your posts suggests that is exactly how you see yourself. But you are an expert at promulgating “logical fallacies” based on your “understanding” of the Bible.

  • If you’re going to be fair, then you’ll need to admit that it isn’t simply theologians who have pre-existing assumptions. The same is true of scientists with a naturalistic worldview. Even the most fair minded person will carry some bias into the process. This is one that cuts both ways, but so many scientists claim objectivity while blind to their assumptions. Also, the Christian scientist who believes “God did it” is also willing to add, “Let’s figure out how.” Calling it “intellectually lazy” is just a straw man argument. I realize there are many contributions to science from many worldviews, but the main, Christian-worldview-inspired contributions began with the theological conviction that God not only created this universe but that he did so with specific natural laws in place that we can discover. That has led to a substantial scientific contribution on the part of Christian scientists that no thinking person would dismiss as intellectually lazy.

    You call it intellectually lazy because you view it as an ending point rather than a starting point. If I were to adopt the same faulty reasoning then I would claim it “dangerously intellectually lazy” to look at the universe and claim, “A series of blind chance mutations did it.” You would refute this by stating that scientists gather evidence through tedious experiments to reach their conclusions (and yes, they do gather evidence in hopes of supporting conclusions they have already developed sometimes). Both sides, by following the right steps, still work to determine by what processes the universe has come to be the way it is, regardless of whether they believe the ultimate source was God or random processes.

    If you’re honest, you’ll admit the underlying assumptions in your own position that cannot be proven by science. That means you take things by faith, too.

  • one having run and having kneeled to him, was questioning him, `Good teacher, what may I do, that life age-during I may inherit?’

    18 And Jesus said to him, `Why me dost thou call good? no one [is] good except One — God;

    19 the commands thou hast known: Thou mayest not commit adultery, Thou mayest do no murder, Thou mayest not steal, Thou mayest not bear false witness, Thou mayest not defraud, Honour thy father and mother.’

    15 `If ye love me, my commands keep,

    16 and I will ask the Father, and another Comforter He will give to you, that he may remain with you — to the age;

    25 `These things I have spoken to you, remaining with you,

    26 and the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and remind you of all things that I said to you.

    28 ye heard that I said to you — I go away, and I come unto you; if ye did love me, ye would have rejoiced that I said — I go on to the Father, because my Father is greater than I.

    29 `And now I have said [it] to you before it come to pass, that when it may come to pass, ye may believe;

    30 I will no more talk much with you, for the ruler of this world doth come, and in me he hath nothing;

    The read rev 22:4

  • The article fails to make any meaningful connection between science and religion, much less a newsworthy connection. The usual group of hallelujah apologists are all oohing and ahing over the unsupported allegations of the article but without any real reason or merit for doing so.

  • Do Not Be Deceived!! Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (aka Jesus the Messiah) is the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE! Choose Eternal Life with the King Of Kings.All of these mad athiests are going to Sheol.Don’t join them in their apostasy.

  • Faith is a guess made without good reason. Some faith-like assumptions are actually reasonable. If I see a tap (faucet?) for the first time in my life and turn the lever confidant that water will flow – that’s faith; if I’ve turned taps on thousands of times and got water all but once or twice the expectation of water is not faith, it’s a reasonable expectation based on many experimental results.

    We all have preconceptions, preferences and biases. Some follow the scientific method which requires falsifiability, evidence, proper treatment of data/statistical analysis, testing through forecasting, peer review etc. precisely to minimise the effect(s) of such human traits. Also – the scientific method doesn’t claim to lead to proof, merely to that which, based on the evidence, is the best, workable, consistent result we can currently achieve. Scientists revel in the destruction of established findings.

    Much (all?) religion, however, starts with unquestionable assumptions; the existence of god(s), an afterlife or just a soul maybe; and limits the potential pool of results to those that support/don’t challenge those undemonstrable assumptions.

  • Now here you are at a distinct disadvantage. YOU, your conciousness, and the Universe exist and show an infinite complexity and self-regulating order that genetics is only just beginning to unlock. You, with naturalistic science, have the unenviable job of explaining not just the HOW but also the WHY. The more evidence I produce that increases the probability that a Universe could not have developed this complexity purely by selection/chance, the more power you will attribute to this ‘blind science’. this argument is not about the empirical evidence, it is the philosophical and religious viewpoints that interpret this evidence.

  • I am at no disadvantage or advantage. Claims like, “…The more evidence I produce that increases the probability that a Universe could not have developed this complexity purely by selection/chance…” require actually showing evidence. Show me some consistently measurable data that leads to the universe having been created by a god. Show me the mathematical evidence.

    Philosophical and religious viewpoints are unimportant vanities that require no effort to create, and have no place in real scientific debate.

    “You, with naturalistic science, have the unenviable job of explaining not just the HOW but also the WHY.”

    This is somewhat correct. You might not envy the scientist. His job is very difficult with many failures, often leading to no real reward in the end other than MAYBE the feeling of success and a note in some obscure books.

    Show me evidence of your claim. As of now it is an unsupported hypothesis.

  • I appreciate that, Henry. It looks like you’re getting at those underlying assumptions we all have. The scientific method does not censor those out, though sometimes its findings will adjust the assumptions if we’re willing to let it. Thanks.

  • If we are looking at evidence, the paucity is on both sides. A magnificent hubris is manifest among materialists who, not being able to biochemically assemble one cell from chemicals, laugh at theists who cannot produce evidence.

  • This just in, I’ve been bouncing between Disqus and Chrome because of technical issues, and they don’t always show the same replies. Your response to this one made me laugh. Because this is the first time I’ve seen it, I thought I might of irritated you, so I didn’t raise it when you replied or upvoted on other stories. Cheers.

  • There should be no contradiction between science and theology since their subject-matters and methods are different. Science deals with this Universe through observation, hypotheses, theories and their verification through results produced, while theology is about God, the creator of the Universe and source of revelation through His Word that demands faith. Naturally, science will not be and cannot be interested in theology, but can confront Philosophy that is the arbitrator of rationality through Logic. Scientism is the view that science is the final judge of reality as such which is contested by Philosophy and rightfully shows its place in the hierarchy of rational thinking. As long as science confines itself to its legitimate field, it is very beneficial to mankind and going beyond its scope of what is knowable, it turns out to be a laughing-stock before the powerful Logic of Philosophy.