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God Does Not Exist Because. . . (2)

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In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 08:40:24 GMT
'bruilliant' - says Small

Indeed, - Language can be a strange thing............

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 10:23:47 GMT
Drew Jones says:
"I have no argument with your point that some people take offence when their world view is criricised, but as i have said, that is their problem, and you have the right to criticise the view itself."
Making every argument you make for people *not* criticising a worldview or opinion in a way you don't like rather contradictory.

"As the Oxford dictionary definition of 'stupid is - unintelligent, slow-witted, foolish are you sure it isn't?"
You don't need to keep quoting the dictionary at me, I'm pretty sure we are using the same general definitions for words. Stupid does mean, unintelligent, slow-witted, foolish but that doesn't remove qualifications and context to statments featuring the word allowing you to extropolate to the whole.

"If you are addressing one person, I think that to say 'believing in god is stupid' is a personal criticism of the person themselves."
Well if they believe in god then it is a critcism of their belief, a criticism of that person in that instance but it's clearly not a criticism of absolutely everything that person does believe, could believe or is as a person. You could equally say some thing like 'Looking both ways before you cross the road is a good idea' but it doesn't mean that someone who always looks both ways before you cross the road is an authority on everything or could be relied upon for a good idea for any situation.

"What it actually infers is that 'believing in god' is a 'stupid' thing for that person to do, and is therefore a personal attack on the way they think. Ie they are unintelligent, slow-witted, foolish etc."
Yes, in that context that is exactly what it is saying. The problem you are having is that you don't see the context but try to blow it out of all propotions to have it written off and the belief in God remain in tact.

"DEF, Ridiculous -deserving or inviting ridicule"
Yep.

"I disagree. You are making a subjective decision based on your own views of football and calling the person themselves ridiculous because their view doesn't match yours. Not logical."
What are you talking about? Your example of football was just a placeholder example, there's not actually anything there for you to seriously consider, this is all just you running with a hypothetical that doesn't exist and hasn't been fully formed. First it could well be that the comment on football relies on objective facts. Second a subjective decision isn't necessacerily wrong therefore it's not automatically illogical to challenge other positions or suggest they might be wrong or ridiculous. Third, you are once again forgeting the context of the conclusion that you first gave; it is with respect to a single opinion concerning football that the comment is being made. Unless we judge someone's intellectual prowess on the basis of their knowledge and opinoons of the beautiful game you are the one being illogical (in this instance).

"I find it hard to understand why it is necessary to use inflammatory language, unless one wants to inflame. The English language is rich in expression without recourse to these words."
No it's not, if you start to take away words that communicate valid concepts then you are undermining the English language. It's a form of censorship. It's one thing to ask for words designed to be provcative to be curtailed but to then start to appeal to manners to eliminate highly valid and sometime pertinant words like 'stupid' and 'ridiculous' from conclusions is pushing even further into areas whereby you are just trying to stop people telling you that you could being 'stupid' or 'ridiculous'.

"i find that it degrades the person using them, and degrades the argument itself."
Well you may find that but it's just not the case, it's what you do in seeking to ban words, means for other people to express themselves and how they see the world which degrades us all and removes any possiblity of having a proper argument. Everything would be highly superficial if we were all to remain silent in the face of a stupid or ridiculous opinion.

"I agree. Although, i sometimes feel it can be less about the belief, and more about testosterone levels at times.(sexist I know)"
It's not just sexist but simplistic, women produce testosterone as well. Would you accept that your own more contentious contributions show signs of levels push above normal female rates? If not then there's no reason to think your suggestion holds for other instances. I imagine this to be the first, maybe even best trap-door you thought you could escape through.

"I think a give away is when the person is addressed as being a 'stupid' person. This often occurs when the discussion is beginning to go one way, and may be used to distract from, or avoid an uncomfortable point."
I would suggest that given what has been revealed in your reading of the examples we have discussed here someone explicietly addressing another person as stupid as a whole doesn't happen as much as you have lead yourself to believe it does. Either way the ad homienem you are pushing this towards (and this is what an ad homeinem looks like), it doesn't by this quality indicate anything about how valid the persons position is.

"Regards ( and dare I say God Bless)"
You can give it a try I suppose. I only wish atheism offered me a similar platitute to return to you in the spirit you meant yours.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 14:03:14 GMT
K. Moss says:
Hi William.

I'm always a little nervous about getting drawn into this kind of exchange as *some* atheists here have a tendency to start kicking off if one shows any doubt over the "evolution is fact" kind of mantra which gets repeated endlessly.

In this post you've talked about biological traits becoming more common within a population under selection pressure, and suggest that this might easily feed through to speciation. You then ask which part Spin might not be convinced by. May I suggest a possible area of doubt?

When I was at Grammar School, and indeed when I was studying Biology at Uni, the one, big, headline-grabbing example of 'evolution in real life' that we were always being pointed to was the Peppered Moth. You know the story: air pollution darkens the tree-trunks, rendering the lighter-winged variants of the moth more visible, whereupon they become more heavily predated upon. Initially, we were taught that this was an example of natural selection working on mutations (classic darwinism). Then, a bit later, we were told that, no, this was natural selection working on variants occurring within a population - and sure enough, when air-quality improved, and tree-trunks started becoming lighter again, the exact reverse phenomenon occurred: now it was the turn of the darker variants to be predated upon, and the proportion of lighter-winged moths began to increase.

Interestingly, in the last survey I looked at, the Peppered Moth is STILL being held forth as a persuasive example of 'evolution in practice'. Except, as far as I can see, it isn't. Why should it not be the case that within any population, there is a degree of genetic plasticity which allows for a range of natural variants to occur continually - this allows the population as a whole to adjust in order to compensate for a range of environmental pressures, ensuring the continuation of the species.

Yes, I can see that it might be theoretically possible that, under particular environmental circumstances, perhaps if prolonged over a (much) greater time period, that ALL carriers of a given gene for wing-colour might find themselves permanently removed from the population, leaving only (say) dark-winged variants which no longer carry the genetic information to support lighter-winged variants. However, for the species to be viable, presumably its ability to carry the genetic information for BOTH variants would be of biological benefit. The fact that the 'evolution' from a population with variants to one without is theoretically possible is not, however, the same thing as 'proof' that it HAS happened - for it has not. And, not insignificantly, if the evolutionary hypothesis were in fact true in this case, then we would end up with a moth population which has LESS (not more) information in its genetic code, which would therefore leave it less well-equipped to handle future environmental changes.

I hope I have explained my concern adequately without ramping up the invective which almost invariably seems to accompany this topic.

Kevin

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:08:04 GMT
Well you are certainly right in general terms but I do believe the evidence that the majority of the world believes in God is pretty overswhelming. EG we have been hearing lots about 'brights' in the US lately, but Time magazine has just done or quoted a survey that says only 4% in US say they are atheists. There is much disaffection from established denominations, but not into atheism it appears.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:14:53 GMT
Thanks Drew:
Re visions -- you did, I'm afraid say Catholics were 'characterised by' visions and you mentioned this as one of the things you knew about us!
Dawkins' book is a take on religion as a whole. Those who do know about the subject, including atheists, are united in their disdain for his lack of knowledge and research, even on matters of plain fact.
On atonement: well, Dawkins does say the same thing as you did, so I thought he might have influenced you.
Jeremy COyne: would be interested to get the reference to that take on Plantinga. Not very impressed with Evolutionistrue site, since I was banned from it after answering a question on what is the evidence for God.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:20:35 GMT
Have been through all this before -- tho perhaps not with you. But I have been through with you the fact that Catholics don't believe the Pope can do no wrong and do not think God talks to him all the time. I am not a Catholic because of the Pope, since the Church is far wider than the Pope. I think this Pope was dilatory in the early days. I have seen no convincing evidence at all that he was involved in cover-ups. If such appears, then I hope he will resign.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:29:58 GMT
PS must contest your view of Roman Catholicism -- the Pope is supposed to interpret the scriptures, not supersede them.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:30:01 GMT
Spin says:
William: I explained myself previously: Put breifly (rather than rehash my rather extensive argument) I believe that natural selection occurs, that much is obvious, but I am not convinced that "evolution" (as currently defined) satisfactorically explains the process of adaptation by natural selection. In short, I am not denying that natural selection occurs, I question the scientific theory accounting for the process involved between the individual and the environment that "enables" natural selection. In all honesty, even evolutionary biologists are asking the same question. The term "Evolution", when applied to Natural Selection, is simply a phrase used to account for something that has not yet been explained; the process of adaptation between the individual or gene and the environment. What is the process, or connection between the gene and the environment, that allows genes to adapt, to "realise" the change that is needed? Is "consciousness" that connection? Is consciousness and sensation the means by which genes connect with the environment? If so, how does the data of consciousness translate into chemical instructions? As you see, I am not denying science, merely asking scientific questions in order to remove the fallacy prevalent among empiricists that the term "evolution", when applied to Natural Selection, refers to a truth.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:31:54 GMT
Spin says:
MJ: See my recent reply to William; it covers the question you ask of me, but which I am too lazy to type out again. =)

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:45:51 GMT
K. Moss says:
Hi TW.

Sorry! I try hard not to get the wrong end of the stick, although that doesn't stop it happening.

I am certainly not that firmly acquainted with how RC doctrine would drive this - but my understanding is that it is the duty of *all* normal Christians to read the Scriptures, to 'search' them, to seek to understand and apply them. I would have a few problems with the idea that it was one, uniquely-equipped individual's role to do that - as it creates a kind of dependency or subserviency upon one human being, which is not the NT model.

I'm happy for the Pope to interpret Scripture if he is merely one of many so doing - but when he becomes the sole executor of such a function, then, with a kind of remorseless effect, it becomes the Pope who speaks authoritatively, not the Scripture itself. I have met far too many Catholics over the years who could enthuse about every last aspect of the Pope's life, activities, visits, utterances etc but did not have even the foggiest clue as to what the Bible had to say about anything - nor had it ever occurred to them that they should do so. They were not encouraged to read it within their churches either - and the more devout they were, the more likely that they were to be functionally illiterate from a biblical perspective.

Kevin

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:47:33 GMT
DB says:
Drew

DB -"What it actually infers is that 'believing in god' is a 'stupid' thing for that person to do, and is therefore a personal attack on the way they think. Ie they are unintelligent, slow-witted, foolish etc."

Drew says -Yes, in that context that is exactly what it is saying.

With what proof Drew? What knowledge have you of the persons thinking process? Surely this is being judgemental. What proof do you have that a person who disagrees with you, does so because they are uninteligent, slow-witted, foolish?

You have become very fond of the phrase 'ad hominem'. Do you not see that it describes exactly the use of personal attack that you are seeking to defend?

"seeking to ban words,"
No Drew, I don't seek to ban words, i seek to defend those to whom the words are addressed in an unneccessary and inappropriate way.
The real problem,sometimes, is not the word itself, but the intention behind it.
Can you for instance, tell me when you would use the word 'stupid' to someone in a way that would make them feel good?

The intention is obviously to try to make the person feel bad personally.

Remember the playground bully? 'Stupid' is one of his favourite words.
And why does he do this? Usually because he is feeling so bad inside himself and needs to project this feeling onto others.

Nobody on this site is 'stupid'.
We all have different levels of intelligence, we are all unique in our views and the ways we come to them. And often in the way we express them lol!
We are all special people.

Elvis
(words & music by Joe South)
If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour, if we could find a way
To get inside each other's mind
If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your own ego I believe you'd be
I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes
just walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Then walk a mile in my shoes

Now if we spend the day
Throwin' stones at one another
'Cause I don't think, 'cause I don't think
Or wear my hair the same way you do
Well, I may be common people
But I'm your brother
And when you strike out
You're tryin' to hurt me
It's hurtin' you, Lord HAVE mercy

Walk a mile in my shoes
just walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Then walk a mile in my shoes

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 15:57:49 GMT
Hi Kevin,

First of all, thank you for posting a thoughtful argument on the subject that helps further the debate. The Peppered Moth does indeed show evolution in action but does not show speciation and highlights the difference between the two.

This case was of, what turned out to be, a temporary change in the environment. As you point out, once the air quality improved there was no longer a selective pressure favouring the dark wing individuals. Over the few tens of years of this example, it showed the advantage to a species that has a certain amount of "genetic leeway" in its genome.

While there have been several cases of speciation being observed by researchers, see my post to Bert for some examples (link to follow), the majority can be found in geologically young environments. The Hawaiian Islands are a good example as they vary in age between ~5,000,000 and ~500,000 years old and so, in geological terms are young.

The Hawaiian Drosophila (fruit fly) has colonized the islands, spreading into different environments across the island chain. Although closely related, there are now 700 different species that in some cases look outwardly very different from each other, each having diverged in a different way to exploit a niche in the environment. A species does not tend to loose DNA over time, as the huge amount of, what is now, "junk DNA" in our own genome show.

A second example of explosive speciation can be found in another newly formed environment. The fresh water African Rift Lakes in East Africa are less than 1,000,000 years old. Despite there now being around 200 species of African cichlid fish, genetic studies indicate a common ancestor as recently as 200,000 years ago. - "Recent study (Meyer et al. 1990, Nature vol. 347, pg. 550 and see pg. 512) used mitochondrial DNA to show that the species in the lake are indeed monophyletic and that there is very little sequence divergence between species: confirms short time span. But there has been remarkable evolution of morphological, ecological and behavioral variation in these fish: algae grazers, snail crushers, plankton feeders, paedophages (clamp onto the mouth of a fish brooding her young in her mouth and force her to spit out here young into the mouth of the attacker), one fish (in Lake Malawi) plucks the eyes out of other fish as food. All this diversity in 200,000 years with very little genetic differentiation" Quoted from - http://biomed.brown.edu/Courses/BIO48/23.Cases.HTML

The Peppered Moth shows evolution (differing allele frequency between generations) caused by natural selection. As the above examples show, a few tens of years is not usually enough for speciation to occur.

A case involving humans is the "Hobbit" or Homo floresiensis (Nature 482) is currently the subject of continued scientific research and is worth reading up about if you have the time.

Cheers
Mark.

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 16:04:39 GMT
Glad to see that someone posted on another forum the Williams/Dawkins debate (it wasnt me), but it had no takers. Is this because atheists do not want to have their dogmatic ideas about religion threatened by hearing from so open-minded and modern a believer as Dr Williams?

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:05:39 GMT
richard says:
Hi Mark,

ploughing my way through 'The Origin of our Species' by Chris Stringer at the moment and he's mentioned the Hobbit. fascinating stuff.

regards

Richard

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:07:41 GMT
Spin -

Did you read my previous reply to your question?

There is no change in an individuals genes, regardless of environment. Genes don't know that they need to change or not.

Genes build the organism and their frequency in the genome will change depending on how the successful that organism is at having descendants.

Evolution is defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next. The reason the frequency changes is some combinations of those alleles are less successful than others.

Cheers
Mark

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:08:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2012 16:18:57 GMT
On Papacy: Well I don't deny some truth to what you say. The Pope, however, never had the function of interpretation of scriptures alone, but only with the early fathers of the church, the bishops, the theologians and so on. And I have to tell you anyway that things have changed since Vatican 2, and all Catholics are encouraged to read the bible and to respond to it on a personal level--- mind you, I,m not saying they all do.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:14:01 GMT
G. Heron says:
T. Woodman

I didn't see the forum with the debate but I must add that Dr Williams winds me up far more that the evangelical hard-liners, his views on religion seem so wooly and undefined that all he seems to believe in is a nice warm fuzzy feeling.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:16:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2012 16:18:31 GMT
To G. Heron on Dr Williams Try the link then -- you can google it. He is a highly trained and rigorous theologian.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:17:33 GMT
Hi Richard,

The "Hobbit" (Homo floresiensis) is certainly one of the most interesting finds in recent years. My suspicion is that it will turn out to be a newly discovered relative of ours and how it fits into the family tree will be fascinating.

I have often wondered if the reference to "giants" in Genesis is in fact a distant memory of the time when we shared the planet with Neanderthals?

Cheers
Mark

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:25:58 GMT
Spin says:
MJ; If genes "don't know", or the genome consists of instructions for bodily structure, how does natural selection take place? The environment influences the body, not the genes directly. A change in frequency of alleles does not explain that change; it simply shows a change takes place. Nor does the concept of "success" or "failure" (human concepts)account for the actual process of genetic adaptation. Sorry, MJ, you have defined the term "evolution" according to its current accepted scientific use, but have not explained why, and how, "evolution" (or in your terms, the success and failure of frequency of alelles) takes place. A definition of a concept is not proof of its reality or truth. If you believe in "evolution" then you must agree that evolution itself "evolved". How? Why? You end up with an infinite regress.(The evolution of the evolution of evolution, ad infinitum.) Evolution is not a coherent explanation of natural selection, by any means, despite the words employed to defend it. Describing the meaning of a word by employing further words which explain the word, rather than address and explain the underlying reality denoted by the words,, is fruitless.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:35:20 GMT
K. Moss says:
Hi Mark.

This is an interesting one, isn't it? Ordinarily, and certainly on these fora, where 'evolution' is advanced as the kind of killer argument, intended to see God retreating from the field, with a faintly aggrieved air, it is used in its classical 'darwinian' sense, based upon the concept of natural selection operating on spontaneous/undirected/random variations in the genetic code. In that sense, the word is clearly intended to explain all life as we now know it, preferably without the inconvenience of divine direction.

What we have seen here, however, is that it is perfectly possible for variants to appear at different times which do not result in speciation, but which are none-the-less deemed to be examples of 'evolution in action'. This seems to be, to me, an admission too far - if 'evolution' is, genuinely, merely a kind of natural ebb-and flow of variations (which are already there) within populations, and if it doesn't have to result in lasting changes to the genome (as in this case), then on what basis do we find ourselves able to extrapolate to the kind of big-picture, cosmic scale which would be required over several million years? Or is 'evolution' now such a broad, all-encompassing term, that we can apply it in almost any sense to win the argument against theism?

If one therefore accepts the case of the Peppered Moth as a textbook case for 'evolution', then what one is implicitly accepting is that at least some proportion of the 'evidence' for an evolutionary pathway may simply be cyclical fluctuations within population variants, facilitated by the genetic plasticity. I am assuming that the Peppered Moth must be very far from being a lone example of this phenomenon, but historically it seems to have been regarded a very importantant substantiator of the evolutionary hypothesis, judging by the degree to which it is touted in textbooks.

I would (mildly) take issue with you in respect of your statement that a species does not tend to lose DNA over time, citing the presence of the misnamed 'junk DNA' as the reason. Firstly, the longest running laboratory model of bacterial evolution (Lenski, I believe) has shown that the mutations which have permitted Citrase metabolism have resulted in a permanent loss of information from the genetic code - there is actually no going back, after the changes occur. Secondly, there is a developing awareness that the 'junk DNA' is in fact nothing of the kind - it is not a repository for no-longer relevant information, but instead is very much a part of the programming, indicating where sections of code switch on and switch off.

Regards, Kevin

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:38:48 GMT
Drew Jones says:
"With what proof Drew? What knowledge have you of the persons thinking process? Surely this is being judgemental. What proof do you have that a person who disagrees with you, does so because they are uninteligent, slow-witted, foolish?"
Well again we're not talking about a specific example here so there is little for me to judge but to give general examples, relying on faith to assert what is true is evidence of very lazy thinking. Using an unknown as a reason to suggest God is an explaination is a non-sequitor and very poor thinking. Large extrapolations from specific, contextualised statements is foolish. Give me some specifics and I might be able to give you a little more.

"You have become very fond of the phrase 'ad hominem'. Do you not see that it describes exactly the use of personal attack that you are seeking to defend?"
No. I use it because it doesn't mean what you think it means and I'm trying show you the difference between an ad hominem and an insult and how an insult isn't ad hominem and an ad hominem isn't always negative.

"No Drew, I don't seek to ban words, i seek to defend those to whom the words are addressed in an unneccessary and inappropriate way."
But by suggesting that people who employ such words are wrong in their position or dismissed is prejudicing those words to the point they can not be used. And you haven't established that the words are unneccessary and inappropriate, sometimes they are highly apt.

"The intention is obviously to try to make the person feel bad personally."
Not necessacerily, it may be an inescapable result of them having a niave or poorly thought out position.

"Remember the playground bully? 'Stupid' is one of his favourite words."
I'm not saying that the word is not abused and misused, I'm saying that the appearance of it doesn't negate an argument.

"And why does he do this? Usually because he is feeling so bad inside himself and needs to project this feeling onto others."
That's why *he* does it but that's not why everybody uses it is it? The teacher may employ the word to tell someone they are being 'stupid'.

"Nobody on this site is 'stupid'."
No, not as a whole and nothing I have suggested or argued for at any point, no matter how much you believe otherwise, has suggested this to be the case. I don't feel I could have made myself any plainer on this point.

"We all have different levels of intelligence, we are all unique in our views and the ways we come to them. And often in the way we express them lol!
We are all special people."
Yes, but sometime we are wrong. At one point or another we will be wrong and stupid, it's useful to be told of this I think. I don't worrry about someone calling me stupid or ridiculous, I worry about still being stupid and ridiculous once I've been told.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:43:28 GMT
C. A. Small says:
In many states especially the retarded south it is social and economic suicide to be an atheist. Many find it easier to go along with the theists.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:45:49 GMT
C. A. Small says:
TW I have posted before the link to prove that the pope was involved in the cover up. Hw was, and couldn't care less until the press got hold of it, then suddenly it's mea culpa all over the place. He is a hypocrite and shown be thrown out.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2012 16:50:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2012 18:24:58 GMT
Drew Jones says:
"Re visions -- you did, I'm afraid say Catholics were 'characterised by' visions and you mentioned this as one of the things you knew about us!"
I don't think I did. If you go back and check the post this concerns I said "Catholics are more into visions (of a very Renaissance flavour)" in the context of explaining how popular ideas further propogate. I didn't say Catholics were 'characterised by' visions as a whole or otherwise. People can see for themselves here: http://tinyurl.com/859shla

"Dawkins' book is a take on religion as a whole. Those who do know about the subject, including atheists, are united in their disdain for his lack of knowledge and research, even on matters of plain fact."
No, there is no united opinion. There are those on both sides who support and reject TGD, some would call themselves atheists, some theists, some merely employ the courtiers fallacy in the absence of dealing with the arguments. It all amounts to kettle logic when presented by an individual. If there is problems with facts, and there are, those facts have to be dealt with on their individual merits.

"Jeremy COyne: would be interested to get the reference to that take on Plantinga."
This was the latest post concerning Plantinga: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/plantinga-why-god-is-a-necessary-being/

"Not very impressed with Evolutionistrue site, since I was banned from it after answering a question on what is the evidence for God."
Interesting!
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Initial post:  11 Sep 2010
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