Author Topic: Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists  (Read 6085 times)

Gerry Rzeppa

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I think you are taking the wrong approach.  If you are angling for the idea that anything in this universe (other than man made objects) is directly designed, you won't catch any fish here.

I'm not really trying, here, to sell the idea that some things in nature are designed; just that it's not utterly unreasonable (or superstitious or crazy) for someone to think that maybe they are. Personally, it think both theists and atheists assert way too much. When a theist, for example, insists on God being "absolute" or "infinite" or "eternal", I think, "What do you actually know about any of those things? I'm pretty sure you can't even conceive of the "absolute" or the "infinite" or the "eternal" without logical contradiction." Likewise, when an atheist tells me, in great detail, exactly what happened 1.7 seconds after a purported Big Bang, I think, "Hard to believe that guys who can't tell me what was under my chair 100 years ago can be so precise about things billions of years in the past."

On the other hand, if you step back a level and ask "is it possible to design a closed system in which evolution occurs?" then you may get some agreement.  I think that Richard Dawkins and some students designed a computer program that operated according to random mutation and natural selection.  So your designer could be out of sight and unknown to anything within the system/program itself.

Well, that's the whole question now, isn't it. If the designer is out of sight and unknown to anything within the system/program itself -- like the creator of an artificially intelligent video game would be unknown to the characters in the game (unless he chose to reveal himself) -- wouldn't it be silly for those characters to categorically deny his existence and attempt to explain their universe in terms of things existing only in their world?

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2014, 10:13:35 PM »
Welcome. We have at least a couple of theists who post here and are valued members of the forum, so hopefully you will have a better experience.

I think, "Hard to believe that guys who can't tell me what was under my chair 100 years ago can be so precise about things billions of years in the past."

What if you had a geologist dig underneath the spot where your chair was? Presumably they could indeed find out what was there about 100 years. Not definitively of course, as it would depend on many factors, but the point is that it's possible to construct a case based on empirical evidence should the evidence be shown and proven. A geologist could theoretically dig in the spot underneath your chair, find a rock, and determine it's 100 years old via carbon dating.  And there is quite a bit of evidence to point to in regards to the Big Bang, such as the cosmic radiation background, the observations of galaxies moving away from each other (via observation of redshift), etc. Just recently gas clouds containing no heavy elements were found, lending credence to the idea of an early universe before heavier elements were formed.
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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2014, 10:48:09 PM »
Welcome to the forum GR.  Your initial responses suggest that you are an intelligent person who will fit well here at HAF.  We do have some most respected theists who contribute regularly so you will not be alone among we doubters.

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2014, 01:08:26 AM »
Welcome. We have at least a couple of theists who post here and are valued members of the forum, so hopefully you will have a better experience.

Thanks. I hope so too.

What if you had a geologist dig underneath the spot where your chair was? Presumably they could indeed find out what was there about 100 years...

I doubt it; I think most of what was there has been "swept away". Maybe there was a vegetable garden one year, a wheat field the next; a pig pen after that; then a meadow, a hunter's blind, a small cabin, another meadow, a blueberry patch (with a bear feeding); and finally a fallow field, then a housing development, and then my chair on top of a steel-reinforced slab of concrete. How much of that will be accessible 100 years from now?

Which do you think is harder? Predicting the exact course of a hurricane over the next several days? or describing the immediate and subsequent aftermath of the Big Bang from the initial explosion through, say, 13.8 billion years? Apparently the former, because meteorologists are always (and rightly) saying things like "35% probability" and "maybe" and "perhaps"; but the other guys speak with a degree of certainty that is simply incredible.

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2014, 01:14:16 AM »
Anything man made, all of which is part of nature.

Gerry: That's an interesting point. If people are, ultimately, just "part of nature", why do we so sharply distinguish between human artifacts and the rest? Seems odd to me, especially since -- compared with the complexity and integration of naturally-occurring "artefacts" -- our creations are kid stuff: more at the level of birds' nests, relatively speaking. So why don't we just lumped our creations in with birds' nests and write them off to instincts arising from random mutations and natural selection?

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2014, 01:16:13 AM »
Gerry I would be interested in an example of something you consider designed.

How about two examples? (1) This post. (2) The guy who wrote it.

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2014, 01:17:37 AM »
Sorry, dude. The world is more complex then that. You don't get to throw out the science just because its hard.

And here I thought I was applying Occam's Razor in a very scientific way.

Welcome to the forum, by  the way. Hope you stick around.

Thanks. Time will tell.

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2014, 01:28:17 AM »
When making statements about the physical world, as opposed to the smoke and mirror world of metaphysics, it's empirical evidence that rules the day, not syllogisms.

The curious thing to me is that no matter how hard we try, we all live in "the smoke and mirror world of metaphysics." Every scientist who ever had a hunch, who was curious, who felt compelled to chase down one idea rather than another, who ever had a waking insight or a sudden flash of brilliance, is living in the ""the smoke and mirror world of metaphysics," even if his studies are restricted to the purely physical, and is getting his impetus from that "smoke and mirror world of metaphysics." I think this is the critical (and often overlooked) part of the so-called "scientific method".

So far, nobody has produced any empirical evidence of a designer for the natural world, as the term "designer" is generally understood.

Except the evidence of that Designer's works, which -- curiously enough -- is sufficient evidence in all other realms: "Here's a house: somebody must have designed and built it; here's a post on a forum: somebody must have dreamed it up and typed it in; etc."

The process of evolution results in functioning organisms

That's unknown and widely disputed. All such remarks should be prefaced with something like, "One school of thought maintains that...".

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2014, 01:37:52 AM »
I think that the "simpler philosophy" doesn't require an entity which is by definition supernatural

Gerry: I don't think the requirement that the Designer be supernatural is the complication you make it out to be; it's expected. For example, we all presume that the author of a book is "outside of" and "above" the book he writes; ditto for the programmer of virtual worlds, the architect of great (or not-so-great) buildings, etc.

...and thus for which no possible conclusive empirical evidence can be produced.

Which doesn't make the philosophy less simple; it simply places limits on the things that can be investigated in certain ways. Which limits are there, in any case. We can't for example, apply the usual scientific methods to things that are light-years away, since we don't even know if they still exist!

Surely you've heard of the story of Simon Laplace, and his reply to Napoleon: "Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là."--"I had no need of that hypothesis." The hypothesis being that the Christian god intervened in the mechanics of the universe.

Intervention is a later subject; creation is the first.

...the attempts of theists to add their favorite form of hypothetical Baggage to scientific investigations of the universe have continued to be marked by abject failure.

Here's how I see it. If there is no God, nothing matters and anything goes; eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. But if there is a God, then all the "lesser" sciences (mathematics, physics, geology, biology, psyschology, sociology, etc) simply become contributing parts of Theology, the Study of God in and through His Works.

Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2014, 01:44:41 AM »
There appears to be a presumption here that humans are somehow the pinnacle and objective of life.

I don't presume that. I suspect my God is much more capable than that. But I do find myself here, wondering, and must thus begin somewhere. And the thing I know the most (and the least!) about is me and, by extension, my fellow humans. Hence the anthropomorphic leaning of my philosophy. Besides, the other stuff just seems dumb in comparison. We've all tried talking philosophy with our cats, haven't we? It just goes nowhere...

If that is the case life kicked off about 3,800,000,000 years ago and Homo Sapiens appeared about 250,000 years ago. One has to ask why it took the designer 3,799,750,000 years to finish?

I think you mean, "According to one school of thought, life kicked off about..."

The progression from chemistry to biology is, as yet, not totally understood.

Agreed.

But natural selection quite adequately accounts for that transition, as it also does for the diversity of organisms we see around us.

I think you mean, "According to one school of thought, natural selection..."


Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2014, 01:53:07 AM »
There is no verified example of irreducible complexity.

Not sure what you mean by "verified", but personally, I like the apple tree / honey bee example because it doesn't require a microscope or a degree in microbiology. The tree without the bee doesn't work; and the chance that these two systems would develop, more-or-less independently over a period of very many years, by mutation and selective filtering, it seems to me, is zip. The world is full of such things.

I had to work at getting all these letters and words and sentences to fit together like this; but the complexity of this post is nothing compared to the trees and the bees. What's the chance of a post like this arising from nothing but mutation and selective filtering? Zip. And so what's the chance of a much more complex and integrated thing like the trees and the bees coming together without design and purpose? Zip. It seems obvious to me.

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2014, 02:05:50 AM »
I like that Giant's Causeway; that's a good one. Thanks for pointing that out. But here's my point: How is it that a person can argue about whether the Yonaguni Monument is a natural or designed thing, but not whether, say, a bird is a natural or a designed thing? Seems to me a bird shows way more hallmarks of design than the Yonaguni Monument.

Well we have no examples of design that is even comparable with the physiology of a bird, what we have are object and machinery that mimic qualities of a bird be it the aesthetics or abilities such as flight. As we can only study in earnest what we have reference and knowledge of, thus I can not see how anybody who is not ignorant of design can say that any biological organism bares the hallmarks of design especially when it is so far removed from anything that we know is to have been designed. When we look at a formation like the Yonaguni Monument it is easy to compare it to monolithic architecture, when it comes to biology and the nature as a whole beyond just the aesthetic appearance what we have in comparison that has been designed doesn't even come close, the best we can do is via looking at what is being done in the field of computer programming, already we know that from a designers point of view processes such as energy, reproduction, respiration, digestion, photosynthesis, et cetera are all unnecessary if the beliefs of the various religions are to be true, and quite a overly complex way for a designer to achieve the goals they would want especially if they have whatever tools they can think of at their disposal.
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Gerry Rzeppa

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2014, 03:15:53 AM »


So, design or non-design? How can we tell?

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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2014, 03:32:42 AM »
Sorry, dude. The world is more complex then that. You don't get to throw out the science just because its hard.

And here I thought I was applying Occam's Razor in a very scientific way.



Which shows that you failed to properly apply Occam's Razor. It's not about simplicity, but assumptions:
Quote
Occam's razor (also written as Ockham's razor and in Latin lex parsimoniae) is a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347). It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.
Creationism fails because it HAS to assume the existence of some sentient, potent, willful force (for example god) whereas non-theistic science only needs to rely on empirically demonstrable data.
If theists such as yourself could provide empirical evidence for the existence of this world making superbeing it would be quite a different story. But so far such evidence is lacking.


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Re: A Theist Hoping to Find Common Ground with Some Happy Atheists
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2014, 04:14:19 AM »
There is no verified example of irreducible complexity.

Not sure what you mean by "verified", but personally, I like the apple tree / honey bee example because it doesn't require a microscope or a degree in microbiology. The tree without the bee doesn't work; and the chance that these two systems would develop, more-or-less independently over a period of very many years, by mutation and selective filtering, it seems to me, is zip. The world is full of such things.

Modern trees without modern bees may not be capable of reproducing, but the evolutionary process leading to trees and bees could easily have co-evolved to produce the relationship we see today. Imagine a proto-apple tree that is wind pollinated where a random mutation causes its flowers to be brightly coloured thus attracting bees. These bees pollinate other trees by chance and spread the mutation through the population. As more of these trees produce brightly coloured flowers (or at least flowers that are attractive to bees) they begin to form a distinct population in our group of proto-trees which then don't have to rely on wind pollination. Before you know it, on a geological time scale at least, you have trees that are cousins of our proto-trees yet distinct in their mode of propagation, and reliant on bees for the future of their species.

The behaviour of two organisms doesn't have to develop independently. Changes in one can lead to changes in others and vice versa. If adaptation can happen at all, and I've yet to meet the creationist who denies that, then such must be the case to greater or lesser degrees. At least, that's my take as someone lacking a degree in microbiology. Lacking any degrees at all actually.....
 

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