Galactic Interactions

A pressure valve : Rob as Theist

So that people don’t feel the need to threadcrap in other threads, I open this thread here for people to make their flames, comments, insults, dismissals, expressions of support, and so forth.

I have said before that I’m a Christian. I had my three-part (one, two, three) set of posts in the past about being such, about the role I see for Christianity in the modern scientific age, and why I am Christian specifically (given the wealth of religious traditions available). I repeatedly echoed what you can read on the NCSE website (at this link and in other places): that there need be no conflict between science and religion— and that those who insist that there is a conflict, be they the creationists who distort science into something unrecognizable, or the antitheists who judge all of religion based on the behavior of the creationists, are missing the point.

Except for one or two people whom I’ve banned, feel free to comment here about all of these issues. Please avoid the “Rob can’t be a good scientist because he’s a theist” comments in other threads, for that will derail discussion about them. Put that sort of stuff here. If things get too vitrolic, I may stop reading in order to preserve my own sanity, but if you need to vent, please do it here and not in other threads.

Comments

  1. #1 Brandon
    July 16, 2007

    Rob doesn’t think like I do! Without knowing anything about him, I can safely claim that Rob is a bad person who cannot contribute to society.

  2. #2 nit
    July 16, 2007

    There’s inherent conflict between religions. Take the Pope’s recent edict that all non-Catholic christians are defective. Is the Least Common Denominator of Religionists that is not shared by Athiests something valuble?

  3. #3 Bob O'H
    July 16, 2007

    Brandon – you’re obviously just a deluded fool.

    Of course, I’m right so I don’t need to actually understand your point of view.

    Bob

  4. #4 Rob Knop
    July 16, 2007

    There’s inherent conflict between religions.

    There are always conflicts between powerful ideas of any sort (and, even if you think it’s all bunk, you need only look at the world around us to realize that various religions have powerful ideas). These conflicts frequently include ideas of exclusivity. Maybe sometimes that’s right, maybe sometimes it’s not.

    For example, I firmly believe that something like “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are unalienable and fundamental rights of people– and I really do, despite the attacks I will get for this, believe that cultures that accept these ideas are truly better that those that do not. Others will tell me that I’m just showing my Western culture socialized bias.

    -Rob

  5. #5 Drugmonkey
    July 16, 2007

    The sad part about this is that Rob did have a non-ranting and contributing point that I think got lost. Why is it that extremist views have a tendency to rule the day? The Orac fan IS similar to the dittohead in some key ways. We’re all a bunch of hooting monkeys who, whilst pretty conservatively acting in isolation, are all too keen to follow some (serotonin transporter deficient?) impulsively ranting leader in crowd-behavior…..

    I, for one, also see links in Rob’s original post to a frustration: why isn’t doing a good quality, low key job of it in science professordom or even science researcherdom enough? Why is it that the assholic BSD phenotype is so successful that those of us who do not lean this way feel induced to fake it to make it?

    perhaps I’m reading too much into your psyche here rob but I did think you had some valuable elements in your rant…

    oh, and just for full disclosure, I do think you are a nut for your religious beliefs..but so what? i still like reading your blog.

  6. #6 Rob Knop
    July 16, 2007

    I do think you are a nut for your religious beliefs..but so what? i still like reading your blog.

    It’s fine to think my religious beliefs are nutty. I do get grouchy if you’re constantly out there screaming it, or if from that you conclude that it’s impossible for me to be a respectable scientist… and I do sometimes see those responses.

  7. #7 nit
    July 16, 2007

    I think we agree that there is inherent conflict between major ideas like religions. However, with regard to a strict division between Athiesm and Religion, I think the commonalities in Religion are overrated. You have described your own Christianity and the benefits it provides for you, and other religionists can do the same. You can discount the beliefs of the distoring creationists, as they or others could discount your own Western socialized cultural bias.

    I guess I’m thinking about the Atheist believing in one less god than the Theist: Someone arguing for some generalized religious benefit for something should have to identify what it is and that it is unique to religion. If it is a universal quality of the human experience, wouldn’t atheists have a claim to it as well? If it isn’t universal, could it be truly shared by the religionists?

  8. #8 Drugmonkey
    July 16, 2007

    if from that you conclude that it’s impossible for me to be a respectable scientist

    I honestly don’t get these critiques. The great thing about science is that it is (supposed to be) authority independent. The validity of your paper depends on, well, the data. And analyses. And interpretation. Anyone is free to disagree with any three, although they better show some other data, analyses or interpretation if they want to kvetch. We are not supposed to base our interpretation on the personal qualities of the scientist! Until and unless there is evidence that some overriding agenda is driving the science in a direction not justified by the data.

  9. #9 Melissa G
    July 16, 2007

    It’s true that there are inherent conflicts between religious beliefs. But, frankly, in the world of religious moderates wherein everybody realizes these are just personal beliefs and not a basis for a system of government/medicine/social policy/etc., there’s no reason we can’t all be friends despite our differences.

    For the record, I am an atheist who has no problem being friends with religious moderates. I even claim friendship with a few fundamentalists, though there are distinct areas of non-conversation with the latter.

    Likewise, as long as we all do science with an eye to the scientific method, there is no reason a religious person would be any better or worse a scientist than an atheist. Anyone can exhibit observer bias, which is why the double-blind trial and experimental replication by colleagues is so important to science.

  10. #10 Melissa G
    July 16, 2007

    Frankly, Rob, I’m far more disturbed by your being a roleplayer. Doesn’t this cloud your scientific judgment? Doesn’t this make you biased toward superstitious dice rolling practices, luminiferous aether, extradimensional travel, and the existence of a Reality Of Which All Other Realities Are But Mere Shadows? How could you possibly do good science when burdened by all these questionable states of mind? =D

  11. #11 rmp
    July 16, 2007

    OK, here’s my Pollyanna take on all of this. My position today is closer to PZ’s than Rob’s. A year ago I’d have said the opposite. I thought PZ’s in your face attitude on his blog wasn’t pragmatic. Today I realize that ‘love him or hate him’ (and yes that phrase seems to show up a lot about PZ), we wouldn’t be having such a meaningful dialog if PZ/Hitchens/Harris/Dawkins didn’t force the conversation.

  12. #12 Jeff Hebert
    July 16, 2007

    Rob, first of all, congratulations on the Second Life gig, that sounds tremendously exciting. It’d be pretty cool if eventually you could set up some sort of real academic institution there, or at least teach some lessons on astronomy. That’d be a fun blending of your two worlds.

    Second, back when you wrote your original set of Christian posts, I tried to reply about the use of the term “Christian” to describe your beliefs, but for some reason the comments never went through. I ended up drafting a post dedicated to it on my own blog, here.

    The short version is, given the beliefs you have shared on your blog, I don’t think it’s particularly accurate to call yourself a “Christian” in the classic meaning of the term. I don’t doubt for a moment your sincere appreciation for and adherence to the philosophy of Christ — and I don’t wish to denigrate your beliefs in any way, believe me! — but given the nominal doctrines traditionally adhered to by Christians I don’t think you qualify. In the post I recommend something like “Neo-Christian” for those who, like yourself, are followers of the philosophy of Christ while disavowing one or more of the central tenets of the Nicene Creed.

    A minor point, and weird coming from an atheist like me, but one I think is important. As CS Lewis said, once a word gets defined too broadly it ceases to be useful, and I think “Christian” is in danger of just that.

    And for the record, I see no inherent conflict whatsoever between theism and science. It’s sad that we have to point it out, but religion and rationality are not mutually exclusive and it’s more than possible to be both a believer and a practicing scientist. And a damn good one, too.

    Good luck with Linden Labs! You’re starting to make me want to check it out.

  13. #13 Luna_the_cat
    July 16, 2007

    Drugmonkey — in your first post on this thread, did you really mean Orac fan, or did you mean PZ fan?

    Rob — fwiw, I don’t know if I helped or just ended up fanning the flames, and I’m sorry about that. I wish the substance of your gripe hadn’t got buried by the names, and I tried to haul it out again elsewhere — that the PZ vitriol makes it impossible for me to use SB as a teaching resource for ordinary religious folks who just don’t “get” science, and this is not just “hurt feelings of religionists” — it’s sabotaging the very science education of the public which I was under the impression everyone here wanted.

    But PZ and said fan base have apparently taken the view that providing validation and support for the atheist minority is a more valid aim and goal than quiet outreach, and additionally believe that bombast is more valuable to shake people out of their religious matrix. That is a culture gap I think we will continue to be unable to bridge, as well.

  14. #14 Tulse
    July 16, 2007

    PZ and said fan base have apparently taken the view that providing validation and support for the atheist minority is a more valid aim and goal than quiet outreach, and additionally believe that bombast is more valuable to shake people out of their religious matrix.

    When did “quiet outreach” have several books on the best seller list? When did “quiet outreach” get invited to various talk shows to discuss science and religion’s attack on it? When did “quiet outreach” appear on the cover of Time?

    Even if you personally object to the strident nature of the Uppity Atheist movement, it is clear that it has brought the issue of religion’s role in society to the fore in a manner not seen for many many decades. Given that the long period of “quiet outreach” has led to a huge increase in fundamentalism in the US, I’d say it’s time to give another strategy a chance.

  15. #15 Luna_the_cat
    July 16, 2007

    When did “quiet outreach” have several books on the best seller list? When did “quiet outreach” get invited to various talk shows to discuss science and religion’s attack on it? When did “quiet outreach” appear on the cover of Time?

    When Carl Sagan was alive.

  16. #16 Tulse
    July 16, 2007

    And did Carl’s works help to stem the tide of US fundamentalism? Did they cause people to talk about religion and its role in science and education?

    Carl was a wonderful man, and a great populizer of science, but that doesn’t equate to opposing the excesses of religion. If it did, the US wouldn’t be in the current mess it is.

  17. #17 Luna_the_cat
    July 16, 2007

    Actually, yes, he did. I’m currently working on collating some information for you from here:http://www.thearda.com/Archive/ChState.asp

    The increase in “religiosity” if one may use that monstrosity of a word, has largely been a result of absolute rather than relative increase in numbers as a result of the swelling population, and their organisation into “mega-churches” and media-savvy national organisations headed up by people like Jerry Falwell. The Sagan years were actually marked by decreasing influence of religion on schools and an increase in science in public policy.

  18. #18 Luna_the_cat
    July 16, 2007

    I should in all honesty admit that the election of Reagan did much to undermine what Sagan was striving for. I don’t think that Reagan’s election can be laid in the laps of atheists not being vocal enough, though. Reagan told the people of the US that they should feel good about themselves; that appeal trumps pretty much anything else.

    Anyway, not posting again tonight. Late here, and I’m tired. Back tomorrow.

  19. #19 Rob Knop
    July 16, 2007

    I did try to make the argument that in-your-face “we science people are so atheist that we hate all religion” is potentially damanging in the post “So I’m a Christian. Shoot Me.”, and I made that post without the kind of rude name-calling that characterized the post I deleted. Of course, that didn’t stop me from getting dogpiled, but I have tried to make this argument in a more level-headed manner in the past.

  20. #20 Science Avenger
    July 16, 2007

    FWIW Rob, I am glad you joined SB. I enjoy your astronomical articles very much, as well as the sci-fi ones. I reject the notion that Christians cannot do good science, attributing it to a simplistic Randian outlook and willful ignorance of the way our minds work. Intellectual compartmentalization is not 100%, but it can be effective to the point of being indistinguishable from one with a more integrated consciousness. Anyone who doubts that should read up on Ramanujan, or watch some of Ken Miller’s science talks.

    And yes, I think your religious views are as goofy as the next man’s (so long as the next man is neither Mormon nor Islamic), but I assume intelligent people can glean that from when I reveal myself in all my atheistic glory, so no need to repeat it too much, except when the believers insist on saying it isn’t. >:) You remind me very much of a friend of mine, no shabby intellect himself, but inconceivably (to me) Catholic, and I mean CATHOLIC, no cafeteria there. We had our share of religious debates, and then settled on a comfortable silence on the issue. He knew I thought he was deluded, I knew he thought I was too rigid, absolutist, and judgemental. Peace through silence. I recommend it, at least in the short term. That to me is really what it means to respect other people’s rights to believe as they wish, not by refraining from calling crap as you see it, but by defending their right to believe even when you DO think it is crap.

    Besides, he’ll come around to the dark side, as will you. Resistence is futile.

  21. #21 rmp
    July 16, 2007

    I used to be pretty old school about talking about religion and politics. You don’t do it, too likely to cause trouble. But when our president feels that God is telling him that it’s OK that hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died in Iraq, I’m sorry, a threshold has been crossed. As far as I know, President Bush isn’t one of the ‘extreme’ religions that moderates refer to when they say ‘don’t judge us by their religion’. Rather, President Bush is a mainstream Christian using his religion to justify the killing of innocents. As far as what that has to do with Science Blogging, I’m not sure it does. But here’s where the conversation was being held so, ….

  22. #22 Rob Knop
    July 16, 2007

    As far as I know, President Bush isn’t one of the ‘extreme’ religions that moderates refer to when they say ‘don’t judge us by their religion’.

    I’m not so sure. He’s made anti-evolution statements, although a bit veiled. I suspect he may be a closet-Young-Earther… closet because it would be very difficult for somebody who is out and in-your-face about that to get elected. Yes, the fundies are a powerful political force right now, but lots of in-the-modern-world republicans were able to convince themselves that Bush was a party guy, or that he was better than the alternative, and that contingency was at least as important if not more important in his election as were the fundies. Lose that, and you have no chance of getting elected. Anybody who wants to stay elected in our country has to walk something of a religious tightrope in public.

    -Rob

  23. #23 SLC
    July 16, 2007

    I have posted this comment on a couple of other blogs previously but I think it is apropos here also.

    Using the definitions of Prof. Barbara Forrest, we may divide those who engage in the pursuit of knowledge into four camps.

    1. Camp 1 consists of atheists who believe in methodological naturalism and insist that philosophical naturalism is science. Examples include PZ Myers, Larry Moran, and Richard Dawkins.

    2. Camp 2 consists of atheists who believe in methodological naturalism but who do not insist that hilosophical naturalism is science (Richard Dawkins refers to these folks as Chamberlainists). Examples include Eugenie Scott, Chris Mooney, and Neil Tyson.

    3. Camp 3 consists of non-atheists who believe in methodological naturalism but who do not insist that philosophical naturalism is science. Examples include Ed Brayton.

    4. Camp 4 consists of philosophical theists who believe in methodological naturalism and reject philosophical naturalism. Examples include Rob Knop, Ken Miller, Mark ChuCarrol, and Francis Collins.

  24. #24 rmp
    July 16, 2007

    I know a lot of people here have been critical of Al Gore being a ‘theist evolutionist’. In that regard, I agree with you that it is a political necessity to claim to believe in God. Whether he does or not, none of us know but I’m sure you wouldn’t be hearing him telling us about talking to God when it comes to foreign affairs.

  25. #25 Justin Moretti
    July 16, 2007

    Now that the other thread is dead, I will repost my support for you here.

    PZ annoys me sometimes, because he tends to lump all believers in with the raving divorced-from-reality extremists. When he attacks those extremists, I am behind him 100%

    I think he’s trying to run before he can walk. People who up until now have been brainwashed sheep will not jump straight into the arms of scientific atheism (or anti-theism), so long as that scientific atheism rubbishes everything they stand (or once stood) for (regardless of whether it deserves to be rubbished – frequently it does). They are having a hard enough time leaving their flock as it is, without being told over and over what complete idiots they were for staying so long. The general run of human being is not very courageous, and finds it easier to flee back to what they knew.

    There needs to be a middle ground – a safe haven from which these people who are shedding their sheepdom can retain those parts of their faith and culture which comfort and support them and give their lives meaning, while rejecting the lies and bullshit that have been held over their eyes in many cases since birth. It’s people like you who show that it is possible to be a scientist and a Christian at the same time; that science – even the most penetrative and investigative science – does not invalidate religion.

    What it does invalidate is medievalist ignorance that hides its lust for power and control behind a veneer of Christianity.

    I had two headmasters in my time at school; one was what I used to call a Christian gentleman – a kinder, more gentlemanly man with a more benign attitude to his students would be harder to find. He wanted his students to live by Christian principles, but didn’t care if they were unbelievers.

    The second I simply called a “Christian” – he was full of brimstone and fire, and pretty soon the liberal (and very effective) pastor was replaced, and one of the “christian” staff members came out of the closet and started singing God songs in front of the whole school, with the school band as backing. Eventually, he demanded that the band play a fanfare at the beginning of every assembly as he and the school chaplain marched the length of the assembly hall to take their place on the stage.

    The school band chose Darth Vader’s March, from the original Star Wars trilogy. So clueless was he that he never, to the end of his time at the school, realized how terribly and contemptuously he was being mocked.

  26. #26 rmp
    July 17, 2007

    For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve been a Sunday School teacher and just finished my second 2 year stint as a youth/confirmation instructor. I’m one of those sheep you talk about. As I prepare my 14 year old for confirmation, my family is aware that I’ve become an atheist. If someone insists on finding/creating middle ground, they can do so. However, sometimes what a person needs is a blast of cold water on the face. I’ve found it quite refreshing.

  27. #27 DuWayne
    July 17, 2007

    Apparently, if you welcome the vitriol, it doesn’t manifest.

    You made an interesting point, in a post back on your old server. One that is an example of what I am coming to believe is an absolute truth.

    The only people who seem to think, for instance, that a literal reading of the Bible describes the beliefs of Christians are science-ignorant fundamentalists, and religion-ignorant atheists. Strange bedfellows.

    But are they really that strange of bedfellows. They are, in fact two differing fundamentalist viewpoints, in polar opposition to one another. I think that when people decide to couch their attitudes and beliefs in absolute terms, it does not matter which end of a spectrum they exist upon, they will be in strong agreement on a number of points, even while in opposition.

    It is no coincidence that the only people who accept the notion that acceptance of evolution is inherently atheistic, are extremists who are either religious or atheists. The further you go in either direction you will find that they agree that secular humanism is inherently atheistic. Until you reach the end ( at least the furthest extreme that I have seen) where even the very notion of being a scientist is inherently atheistic. I have indeed been involved in this very debate over the last few days, with he who shall remain nameless, lest his vitriol and petty bigotry rear it’s ugly head.

    This is not just true of theism versus atheism, but in any ideological posturing. Take an extremist Marxist and contrast them with an extremist libertarian and you will see the very same thing. Even more bizarre, is that the desired ends are the same. With marxism v libertarianism, the goal is absolute power in the hands of the individual. With theism v atheism, it is a desire to find, or a belief in, an absolute truth. Keep in mind I am talking about fundamentalists, this is not meant to paint all theists or atheists, with the same brush. Ultimately this is the definition of fundamentalism, a belief in absolutes.

    This is what makes fundamentalism so appealing. Absolutes are easy. Absolutes are clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, life is not black and white. Life is neither clean or comfortable, at least not all the time. It takes great courage to face the reality that, no matter how hard we try, absolutes are hard to come by. Ideals are just that, ideals. It doesn’t mean we stop trying, most certainly we shouldn’t. I daresay that to even accept that the ideal cannot be achieved, is to accept defeat. What it does mean though, is that we should be ever skeptical, even fearful of those who make claims of absolute truth.

  28. #28 Luna_the_cat
    July 17, 2007

    SLC — you say:

    1. Camp 1 consists of atheists who believe in methodological naturalism and insist that philosophical naturalism is science. Examples include PZ Myers, Larry Moran, and Richard Dawkins.

    I don’t think this is either a complete characterisation, or useful to understand what all the heat is about.

    I’m still working on Dawkins, so I can’t make comments about what he says yet. However, with PZ, this issue is NOT the insistence “that philosophical naturalism is science.” The problem is the insistance that philosophical naturalism is the only valid philosophy for dealing with life, full stop, and that people who do not accept it and adhere to it in all arenas are either crazy, wicked or ignorant.

  29. #29 SLC
    July 17, 2007

    Re Luna_the_cat

    I am afraid that I don’t understand Ms. Luna_the_cats’ comment. The fact is that if one reads Myers, Dawkins, and Moran carefully, they make no distinction between philosophical naturalism (i.e. atheism) and science. Their position is that it is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for a scientist to be a theist. At the very least, they insist that a theistic scientist must have a bifurcated brain. Why does Ms. Luna_the_cat think that Myers and co. like to beat up on Ken Miller and refer to Scott and co. as Chamberlainists?

  30. #30 David Harmon
    July 17, 2007

    Duwayne & Luna @6:13: Amen to both of you!

    Duwayne: Absolutist thinking is based on a deep inflexibility. Binary thinking is “infantile” in a developmental sense, the basis for several of the “defenses” such as idealization & deprecation. Given proper stimulation, humans can overlay those infantile responses with more sophisticated behavior. On the other hand, when the social milieu actively promotes the infantile defenses, and punishes any attempt at more sophisticated morality….

    Luna: What PZ doesn’t seem to realize is that normal humans are not so intellectually oriented as he is, much less “rational actors”. Expecting them to be so, is a good recipe either for choking on his own bile — or, for perpetual self-congratulations on how he’s one of the few who “really understand the world”. His rigidity simply reflects that materialist or no, he’s still taking the usual shortcuts in assembling his own world-map.

    Rob: You’d still have done better to blow off PZ’s wording with a wisecrack.

  31. #31 adam
    July 17, 2007

    I think that a lot more physicists and astrophysics are religious, in one way or another, than they let on, even if it just comes down to a belief in some sort of supernatural specialness about consciousness, or belief in absolute morality, or whathaveyou.

  32. #32 adam
    July 17, 2007

    Also, regarding the missionary atheism of some others, I have said before that I’m not entirely sure how those people justify it to themselves. Even if you know that someone is fooling themselves, the issue of judging whether they will be better off not fooling themselves is surely one that would be made in context and the idea of an absolute such as ‘people are always better off not fooling themselves’ would probably end up depending for justification on the supernatural itself. A blanket decision that everyone needs to hear that they’re looking for shadows in Nietzche’s cave, I don’t really understand that (but there you’ll see Dawkins, wheeled out again and again and again in any forum that’ll have him, spreading the Bad Word).

  33. #33 Kevin
    July 18, 2007

    “Duwayne: Absolutist thinking is based on a deep inflexibility”

    and both Dwayne and Rob share a great FLEXIBILITY in that words mean exactly what they say and are LIABLE to change at any moment.

    “One that is an example of what I am coming to believe is an absolute truth.

    The only people who seem to think, for instance, that a literal reading of the Bible describes the beliefs of Christians are science-ignorant fundamentalists, and religion-ignorant atheists. Strange bedfellows.”

    Christ on a Shingle! ABSOLUTE TRUTH!?

    it is not that you both don’t follow a “literal reading of the Bible” that you are critized for. IT’S that you don’t seem to follow more than a handfull of the many bits and pieces of Christian/Catolick/Protestant instructions.

    Your not “cafeteria catholicks” you just brown bag your own ideas of a diety and call yourselves Christains.

    that’s a crock.

    meanwhile. If you can deny that your god created man in his own image as an act of will. . . than just admit you’re a heathen like the rest of us. what good is your god if he didn’t even create you?

  34. #34 David Harmon
    July 18, 2007

    kevin: projecting much? Who put you in charge of deciding who counts as a Christian?

  35. #35 adam
    July 18, 2007

    Damn straight. I’m the decider on this internet. Go get your own internet.

  36. #36 DuWayne
    July 18, 2007

    Kevin –

    Christ on a Shingle! ABSOLUTE TRUTH!?

    I am not surprised that you fail to notice irony, when it smacks you in the face.

    it is not that you both don’t follow a “literal reading of the Bible” that you are critized for. IT’S that you don’t seem to follow more than a handfull of the many bits and pieces of Christian/Catolick/Protestant instructions.

    You haven’t the slightest clue what I follow. The fact that I don’t take a dogmatic approach, has nothing to do with what I do or don’t follow. I latched on hard to the message of Jesus Christ as a child and never let go. I choose to live a lifestyle that is in accordance with that message. The fact that I don’t believe in or follow a lot of extraneous dogma perpetuated by various churches, does not mean that I am not a Christian. Any more than it means that the discrepancies between Catholics and Protestants mean one or the other, has a less legitimate claim to the title of Christian, or the discrepancies between various Protestant denominations gives any of them a stronger claim to the term Christian, than any of the others.

    Your not “cafeteria catholicks” you just brown bag your own ideas of a diety and call yourselves Christains.

    meanwhile. If you can deny that your god created man in his own image as an act of will. . . than just admit you’re a heathen like the rest of us. what good is your god if he didn’t even create you?

    What? Coherency would be a huge help.

    Seriously, you are making my point for me. You are incoherent with what appears to be rage. You sound exactly like someone who is a theist, making the same points, with the same mis-spelling and coherency issues.

    You also seem to assume that I don’t take my faith seriously. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. I honestly don’t believe that I would be alive today, were it not for my God. Just because I don’t believe that God went “Poof!” and suddenly I exist, doesn’t mean I don’t think Gods important. Indeed, I do believe that I am a spiritual being, in the exact image of God. I just don’t buy the notion that it happened the way any holy text claims it did.

    But please, make my point even stronger. Give me some more of that incoherent rage. Show me what a good, narrow minded little fundy you are. Show me how important my beliefs are to you, how offended you are by their very existence and the fact they contradict your notions of what they should be.

  37. #37 Iorwerth Thomas
    July 18, 2007

    “it is not that you both don’t follow a “literal reading of the Bible” that you are critized for. IT’S that you don’t seem to follow more than a handfull of the many bits and pieces of Christian/Catolick/Protestant instructions.”

    However, it’s fair to say that *no-one* does, even ‘literalists’, because that would be impossible. Besides, as you’re the one making the claim, the burden of proof is on you. Which parts aren’t they following, and are they important, and why are you of the opinion that Christianity has a fixed essence, when it should be transparently clear in these post-Darwinian days that, like species, almost no idea does?

    Please show your workings.

  38. #38 Mark Whybird
    July 18, 2007

    For the record, in case anyone is looking, I posted in my own little blog a bit of a translation of Rob’s other post On Science, Religion, and “Compartmentalization”

    http://blog.whybird.net/post/6137154

    the brief version of my translation: If you have a problem with how Rob wrote about it in the above linked post, substitute for “Religion” another orthogonal-to-science item, but one that doesn’t distort your own thinking. I gave the example of substituting “joy”.

    The one liner version: Religion and Science are every bit as compatible as enjoyment and science. Would you deny all instances of the latter? No? then why would you deny all instances of the former?

  39. #39 MartinM
    July 19, 2007

    Enjoyment does not involve ‘other ways of knowing.’

  40. #40 Me Myself and I
    July 19, 2007

    I do not think Rob is a “bad” scientist. Why don’t I think that? Because of evidence, and reasoning.

    I do however, think that Rob could be a better scientist if he didn’t compartmentalize his brain. You wouldn’t have to use your brainpower to reconcile conflicting beliefs by figuring out how to neuter religion so it becomes not completely and totally false.

    I’ve said this on another thread, but I’ll say it here. Think about how much better the world would be if the irrational thinking of religious people was replaced by rationality. Just as a practical matter, think about how much research could be done on cancer if we didn’t build outlandishly expensive churches.

  41. #41 Quasar9
    July 20, 2007

    Always a difficult one to deal with, emotions high!
    Anyone would think that just because there is little agreement between religions and members of a religion over what a GOD is or may be, that there would be more agreement among those who have no time for any sort of GOD talk.

    But other than agreeing that there is NO GOD, it seems the no god camp is dividided into as many camps as the GOD camp.

    Religion is a matter of custom or repetition:
    1) Some people brush their teeth religiously
    2) Some people have sex regularly or religiously
    3) Most people religiously stuff their mouths, even when not hungry – because it is breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time – or simply out of boredom (or addiction to snacks)

    4) Some people religiouly study
    5) Some people study religion
    6) There is philosophy of religion & religion of phlosophy

    The difficulty for those who believe in A God, or belong to a religion – is that you cannot scientifically prove (or disprove the existance) of God – but you can certainly prove the error of religion.

    However Betamax and VHS video tape or CD-Rom and DVD, and whatever the next generation of media transmitting or storage device like ‘memory sticks’ are not the message. They are simply the message carriers. And God knows they carry a lot of useless or even pointless information.
    However that information – whether history, philosophy, politics or science, biology, chemistry or physics …
    we all know there is a certain amount which is fact, a certain amount which is fact and true, and a lot which is simply hot air.

    However let us not forget that just as God is unfathomable to ALL and unimaginable to many, the big bang and the origin of the universe is actually unfathomable to ALL and unimaginable to many. We describe or define a series of events, in mathematics and physics which will bring us to the universe we observe today – but no one nowhere can tell us why the quark gluon plasma was there at the begining, nor where QGP came from – nor where the vast energy that would be required to transform into the Universe we observe today originated from – nor WHY.

    It was simply there, and it happened
    And that is what religions say of God!

    And for those exploring the possibility of the landscape and 10 to the 500 possibilities (or pocket & island universes) – this is no more than what Eastern Philosophies have debated or speculated dor several millennia.

    And incidetally Christ could or would have been learned im Eastern Philosophy, Christ he probably wrote it. Bu that’s a matter I’ll leave for another day.

  42. #42 Kevin
    July 23, 2007

    I was away for a bit. Thanks for the comments.

    Actually, I am not in a rage at all. and yes I spelt “Your not” wrong, but I don’t proof read. I saw it after I posted but of course you can’t edit.

    Dwayne, “I am not surprised that you fail to notice irony” ha ha yea sure….pot.

    “You haven’t the slightest clue what I follow” nothing except what you write here and on other blogs….a tired mishmash of wishes and self-delusions.

    “You also seem to assume that I don’t take my faith seriously.” where did you get that? no I assume you are completely enthralled and take it very seriously.

    “I don’t believe that God went “Poof!” and suddenly I exist”

    so neither the moment of your conception or the first emergence of either life on earth or primates or humans on earth had nothing to do with any action, intention, will or interaction with your diety?

    so he’s what? like a spectator at a ball game? rooting for you to “WIN”?

  43. #43 DuWayne
    July 23, 2007

    Kevin –

    Actually, I am not in a rage at all. and yes I spelt “Your not” wrong, but I don’t proof read. I saw it after I posted but of course you can’t edit.

    Sorry, I took your incoherency and misspellings for anger. It’s rather an assumption I make, when people write that way. You certainly seem to take offense to the terms I use to identify myself.

    nothing except what you write here and on other blogs….a tired mishmash of wishes and self-delusions.

    Oh, ouch, you wound me. . .

    where did you get that? no I assume you are completely enthralled and take it very seriously.

    By the fact that you have claimed I don’t.

    so neither the moment of your conception or the first emergence of either life on earth or primates or humans on earth had nothing to do with any action, intention, will or interaction with your diety?

    That’s not what I have stated, either here, or anywhere else. I simply don’t know, nor do I think it’s particularly important. I do, however, think it is very unlikely that God just waved a metaphorical hand and everything just happened.

    so he’s what? like a spectator at a ball game? rooting for you to “WIN”?

    No, not in the least. I have clearly stated that I believe God intervenes in my life. I also believe that I am a spiritual being and the God that I worship, may well be the spiritual aspect of myself. Not asking you to understand it, or accept it. I could honestly care less. But repeating myself is rather boring, especially to someone who obviously knows the Absolute Truth already.

  44. #44 Kevin
    July 23, 2007

    er Duwayne?

    “I have clearly stated that I believe God intervenes in my life” Oh I remember that. But you didn’t provide any details on HOW he did that. what means do you think he used? chemical interactions in your brain?

    and no, really, I am not mad at you and hardly know anything, except that there is no absolute truth. that’s the only absolute. I thought this is a discussion, and if someone asserts something without details or even an attempt at proof, then it is ok to call them on it.

    You, of course, can call yourself anything you want. I mean Rob calls himself a christian, but if memory serves he denies the divinity of christ and is really more of a gnostic, which he calls a christian sect but I think is really more of a proto-christian. I think the comment that Rob could describe himself more accurately as a Neo-Christian (ala the Neo-Paltonists) was a good idea.

    Some other options are:

    believe in supernatural all powerfull supreme etc… – deist

    belive that christ was the physical manifestation of deity on earth – christian.

    believe that in communion the host is ACTUALLY the flesh of christ – catholic

    Believe that jesus saves anyone who accepts him as their savior – baptist

    Believe that jesus saves anyone who has faith – presbyterian?

    Believe that jesus saves who does good works – methodist?

    Believe that jesus saves anyone who has a succesful life and lots of money – calvinists?

    Believe that jesus saves a select few and has already condemned all the others to hell before they were even born – TRUE CHRISTIAN!

    (I don’t think the Lutherans have told anyone what they believe)

  45. #45 DuWayne
    July 23, 2007

    Proof of what? That I have Christian beliefs? I would venture to guess, that Rob’s Christian beliefs are rather similar to mine. Although I would use different terms to describe the divinity of Christ or lack thereof. I believe firmly in the divinity of man, so I have no real problems with accepting the divinity of Christ. I would even go as far as to assume that it’s possible that Jesus has a claim to something more than other people.

    I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ. I try my best to live certain ideals that he taught. I do my best to live a life of unconditional love and selflessness for my fellow humans. In short, I try my best to personify and reflect Christ and his teachings with my life. Thus why I call myself a Christian.

    When you jump all over both mine and Rob’s identifying ourselves as Christians, you certainly make it sound as though it is rather important to you. That somehow, we don’t have a right to identify that way. Your lack of coherence (though it gets better with every post) implies a certain aggression. Sorry if I misinterpreted.

  46. #46 Iorwerth Thomas
    July 24, 2007

    “Believe that jesus saves who does good works – methodist?”

    I hope that’s a joke, because justification by works is a view more commonly associated with Catholics than with Protestants…

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