Creationism/Evolution Debate

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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby James » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:03 pm

Fledgling Dragon wrote:I really don't want to go into this. No offense, but I'd rather keep my personal details to myself. At least for now.

Of course. No offense taken, nor would any be justifiable.
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby SunXia » Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:50 pm

Challenges to beliefs, to moral codes and such, are healthy, growth and evolution is healthy, even if its just reaffirming your belief otherwise I think it would become quite stagnate!! If we don't reflect on things we do in the name of beliefs or things we believe then or even just our actions in general then ow do we realize when/if we could have done something in a much better fashion!! How do we realize we are hurting someone else?? How do we strive for improvement without reflection and evaluation of our lives to that point??

Challenges to our beliefs encourage that sort of reflection and allows us to evaluate different points of view!! Self-growth is not harmful unless you allow it to become destructive!!

Personally, I've changed over the years, I remember being here and defending my theistic points of view with Shika who at one time, correct me if I am wrong, represented a very atheistic approach!! These days he admits to being a theist (even if he does have a scientific approach with critical thinking) while I am more atheist, probably agnostic, not really sure, but that's ok!!

When I started to say to myself "You know, I don't think the God presented in the Bible exists" I didn't begin to lose all hope of my life and person, I am not and never have been just "SunXia the Roman Catholic" as that would be ridiculous, I didn't spend my life stuck to altar rails!! There are many aspects to my personality and my person, there are many things in my life that make my life fulfilling and enjoyable!! As I said many times, my Catholic background was still important as if stressed upon me the need to love others, compassion and empathy etc however I wasn't comfortable with some things;

1) The ideas of Sex being for procreation, we are not in danger of dying out as a species and in fact, our planet is uh, getting very over populated in many areas so Sex being for procreation alone seemed quite unnecessary!! Why should a person be forced to bring someone into the world, even if they are struggling to get by, just because they want some intimacy with their spouses!! Hell, I even heard of a priest condemning a woman who almost died having both her children and being told anymore will kill her, for using contraception!!
2) This idea of "Even if you are homosexual, it is ok, God loves you, I will pray for you while also mentally judging and condemning you for daring to get close to the person you love" Yes I know people don't say that but that's what it essentially means, unless you're heterosexual and married live a chaste lonely life while people quietly and loudly in cases, judge and insult and condemn from the sidelines!! I won't get into how healthy Sex is if practiced safely and cleanly without harming others!!
3) The inequality of how me are priests but women must hide in Convents and cover their heads and such if they want to take Holy Orders!! Also getting marriage advice and family advice from someone who has never given birth, who has never spent endless nights getting up to feed babies while trying to hold down a 9-5 job, just struck me as odd!! They can try to empathize but in the end, won't know what its like!! Priests and parents/spouses live very different lives!!

I know someone can jump in ad defend all different practices and such and I will more than likely read them but at the moment, there is no Logic to the Bible, its a nice story for its time but that's what it is a story!! I don't find it logical to live my life by the standards of a Book written during a time wen people understood much less about the world around them and created stories that was a book among many for that era!!
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Dec 06, 2014 12:38 pm

Fledgling Dragon wrote:I really don't want to go into this. No offense, but I'd rather keep my personal details to myself. At least for now. It's not something dark or traumatic, just terribly long-winded.

.


You never have to give up personal details of any kind on this forum, only share what your comfortable with.
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:53 pm

James wrote:After reading this through twice I'm not quite sure what your argument is. Can you elaborate?


Gladly.

There is evidence about the Easter Island heads that we can study, quantify and compare with other similar man made sites in the world. It is reasonable to assume they are man made because those resources are there for us to examine.

But regarding the universe itself, we have no grounds for comparison since we have no access to or evidence for other universes. We are not able to study anything prior to or outside this universe, even though particle physics and theoretical mathematics have given us startling insights to the first few moments of existence as we know it. But regarding what happened before then? No matter which way you cut it, it will come down to conjecture. Faith only can be a guide there.

James wrote:I used a more traditional Christian view as an example here, but it applies to other religions as well. When these religions start to compile explanations for these unknowns and start to define the concept of a creator (whatever form it may take) the same circumstance applies. Or rather, I would make the same argument drawing on different examples from the region in question. That's not to say this argument applies to all aspects of a given religion—I was speaking in the context of faith-based origin-of-universe theories.


Fair enough, but that isn't the same thing as religion broadly stated. It isn't even the main purpose of the Abrahamic faiths.

James wrote:Right, and all good examples. But same deal here—these are exceptional assumptions to make in describing this creative force, and that includes God's son taking the form of human Jesus Christ as surely as it does another (however poorly informed) argument of God making mankind in 'his' image.


If that 'creative force' you speak of is ascribed to me or to Shozuhn (which I doubt on the basis of the wording given a second reading of this) then fair enough. But you spoke of 'exceptional assumptions' as well, as though the 'creative force' itself was not one of the same. My point was that ascribing creativity to the first cause is precisely to 'image' that cause.

From that point, a certain kind of faith is demanded, a kind of trust in that creative force. If one ascribes meaning or sense to the universe, if there is anything of the artist's hand in it, why should that force not still be at work in ways partly sensible to us? If this creative force had any concern for its creations (following Lewis's argument for the universe's moral nature), the revelations of God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, including the Incarnation of Christ, are at least consistent with that sort of concern.

James wrote:Sure! I'm not sure how many Christians I've known who would make that same well thought out argument, but sure! Properly applied, Christian teachings can accomplish a great deal of good and I certainly do not intend to detract from that. At the same time, though, there are drawbacks. I personally believe the assumption of an afterlife relieves people from the great benefit to be found in living life for what it is, acknowledging no true knowledge of what will come next.


All that is fine, but I wasn't trying to make a utilitarian argument for Christianity. I was only trying to demonstrate that Christian aims are not at odds with the aims of science, rightly considered.

That said, it hasn't been my experience that an awareness of the afterlife detracts from present-mindedness. The idea that our actions have consequences that we can't seek escape from in death is just as likely to spur greater care and introspection in people's present actions. At least, that's been my experience by and large.

James wrote:My example is certainly colored by my personal experiences and tailored based on areas of the United States, but again it is an example which can be shifted and adapted to individual circumstances. I also do not believe it anywhere near so constrained as you suggest, but that's somewhat beside the point.

At the heart of my argument I really made no effort to address to extent to which religion and science can or cannot address certain issues (I don't think religion has to have a thing to do with morality, by the way, nor do I think science cannot offer insights into concepts such as morality and love—even if they tend to be rather sterile and even a touch disheartening), but rather to address the fundamental difference in fact vs. faith where these subjects are concerned. I agree that Christian beliefs (of most any flavor I know a thing about) can easily be adapted to known scientific principles, and there are plenty of scientists who wholeheartedly agree. But there's a fundamental leap of faith in saying 'evolution because God'. It's the same as saying 'everything because God', and that argument is, of course, applied to everything. And it is one based solely on faith.


Faith is not opposed to fact. It is operating at a different level, and that often confuses people when they enter into these kinds of discussions. People will often say that science requires a kind of faith itself, and usually they mean that to the limited extent that scientists trust their own sense-perceptions and trust each other to behave according to the professional demands of the discipline.

But faith in God shares more elements with scientific inquiry than just this. Both require at their basis a trust that the universe has an underlying coherence and teleology. The operational demands of the scientific method itself assume this coherence (as in, any experiment under controlled conditions can be repeated anywhere where those same conditions apply), so at a certain level science depends on theistic, and indeed monotheistic, assumptions - but it leaves off entirely the existential and personalistic dimensions of faith, such that it cannot discuss them.

(More troublingly, though scientists themselves have to acknowledge the limitations of their findings' statistical relevance and applicability, many popular authors who write about science try to turn human intellect and sense-perception into gods in their own light.)

There is a difference of approach between inquiring into constative, scientific fact, and inquiring into the meaning and personality of the Universe, or of a human being's place and purpose in it. They do intersect in certain places, but the questions they ask are not even aimed at the same kinds of answers, and posing an irreconcilable conflict between them will neither benefit science nor shed any light on the humanistic questions with which the Church is concerned.

SunXia wrote:Challenges to beliefs, to moral codes and such, are healthy, growth and evolution is healthy, even if its just reaffirming your belief otherwise I think it would become quite stagnate!! If we don't reflect on things we do in the name of beliefs or things we believe then or even just our actions in general then ow do we realize when/if we could have done something in a much better fashion!! How do we realize we are hurting someone else?? How do we strive for improvement without reflection and evaluation of our lives to that point??

Challenges to our beliefs encourage that sort of reflection and allows us to evaluate different points of view!! Self-growth is not harmful unless you allow it to become destructive!!


Well, I am a big fan of reflection and self-examination, but I do have doubts about people's ability to do this honestly in isolation. I speak as much of myself here as anybody else, by the way.

SunXia wrote:As I said many times, my Catholic background was still important as if stressed upon me the need to love others, compassion and empathy etc however I wasn't comfortable with some things;

1) The ideas of Sex being for procreation, we are not in danger of dying out as a species and in fact, our planet is uh, getting very over populated in many areas so Sex being for procreation alone seemed quite unnecessary!! Why should a person be forced to bring someone into the world, even if they are struggling to get by, just because they want some intimacy with their spouses!! Hell, I even heard of a priest condemning a woman who almost died having both her children and being told anymore will kill her, for using contraception!!
2) This idea of "Even if you are homosexual, it is ok, God loves you, I will pray for you while also mentally judging and condemning you for daring to get close to the person you love" Yes I know people don't say that but that's what it essentially means, unless you're heterosexual and married live a chaste lonely life while people quietly and loudly in cases, judge and insult and condemn from the sidelines!! I won't get into how healthy Sex is if practiced safely and cleanly without harming others!!
3) The inequality of how me are priests but women must hide in Convents and cover their heads and such if they want to take Holy Orders!! Also getting marriage advice and family advice from someone who has never given birth, who has never spent endless nights getting up to feed babies while trying to hold down a 9-5 job, just struck me as odd!! They can try to empathize but in the end, won't know what its like!! Priests and parents/spouses live very different lives!!


Whoo boy. I'm not a Romanist, so I'll leave the defence of certain practices and ideas to them. I'll reply to this only insofar as I am aware of the Orthodox beliefs.

1.) Sex is for procreation. That's its biological function, and it strikes me as delusional to deny it.

And I am highly uncomfortable with the idea that the Earth is too crowded when Westerners (Americans and Western Europeans) are still consuming way, WAY more than their fair share of the Earth's resources and overburdening it with the most pollution per capita. Our withholding aid and preaching in Malthusian tones to the Third World not to have so many children so we can continue bolting all the food down our bloated throats while burning all the world's petrol because we can't be bothered to walk or bike or bus ourselves where we want to go, and belching toxic fumes into the atmosphere into the process, strikes me as narcissistic, selfish and cruel.

As for contraception. Some Orthodox priests think it is fine, others think it tuns sex into a selfish exercise in bodily self-gratification at our spouses' expense, similar to what the Roman Church seems to think. Honestly, I can see both sides, and it seems like it should be judged on a case by case basis in consultation with a priest.

2.) I haven't had problems of being personally judgemental of gay people since high school freshman year, and I do hope I can stay that way. But then, who wasn't a total idiot in high school?

My Church does teach that homosexual acts are 'a vicious distortion of the God-created human nature', so I am not at liberty to say otherwise. But I am not a priest, and it isn't my business to do any judging or condemning of people who are struggling or who are in a bad place or relationship. God knows I have enough baggage of my own.

But I do sadly have experience enough to say that personally, sex outside of a committed relationship, preferably marriage, is not emotionally healthy for anybody involved. The few sexual relationships I was in before my marriage were all total emotional wrecks, and the one partner I had who I came off respecting afterward was the one who insisted on not going further than making out. I'm not going to comment on what other people for what they do in private, but don't try telling me sex outside of marriage is 'healthy'. It's really not.

3.) If I'm recalling my medieval history correctly, women who took Holy Orders were far from powerless. They were often the best-educated and best-connected people in their societies, and many abbesses of antiquity were regularly visited by kings and noblemen seeking advice or diplomatic services.

Regarding priesthood, though, I think there's an unhelpful presupposition at work, which equates a certain ecclesial role with a higher social value, which isn't necessarily the case. And a priest is not qualified to give advice on all the mundane and workaday aspects of marriage, only on those aspects which are pertinent to salvation (which, granted, are quite a few, but probably don't extend to when to wake up to feed the baby).

But the basic idea, as I understand it, is that in the Eucharist the priest is in the place of Christ, who as the bridegroom of the Church is represented by a man.

I know someone can jump in ad defend all different practices and such and I will more than likely read them but at the moment, there is no Logic to the Bible, its a nice story for its time but that's what it is a story!! I don't find it logical to live my life by the standards of a Book written during a time wen people understood much less about the world around them and created stories that was a book among many for that era!!


Well, we Orthodox don't have a 'Bible' as such; we have the Scriptures, the Canons and the writings of the Holy Fathers and Holy Mothers, all interpreted within the context of the Tradition of the Church as a whole. The Scriptures aren't meant to be an individual's guide to life, and yes, outside the guidance and the mind of the Church whose texts they are they won't make sense to the average person. But given that the Scriptures are not from any one era, and the Holy Fathers and Holy Mothers still speak to us, they are still very meaningful to present day faithful!
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby SunXia » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:47 pm

WWD wrote:Sex is for procreation. That's its biological function, and it strikes me as delusional to deny it.

Nobody is denying that Sex is for procreation, if that was not the case we wouldn't any of us be here today!! But it is also used to reinforce emotional bonds or to even just have intimacy with someone!! In fact people often seek out that form of intimacy with prostitutes and mistresses in order to feel some form of brief bond and that has nothing to do with procreation, or well, its not the reason they seek it!!

Humans don't even release a pheromone to suggest ovulation so clearly we've evolved beyond a point of "Sex is only for having children and nothing else"!! And of course, there are people who can't have children with their partners and I certainly don't think they should stop being intimate with one another as a result!!

And I am highly uncomfortable with the idea that the Earth is too crowded when Westerners (Americans and Western Europeans) are still consuming way, WAY more than their fair share of the Earth's resources and overburdening it with the most pollution per capita.

Certainly an uncomfortable truth however I wasn't, of course, suggesting that anyone stop having children, merely stating that biologically, as a species we are not about to die out!! Thus, I think someone should be allowed to share the bond of intercourse without having to decide to bring a child they cannot afford to raise, into the world!! Times have changed from when mortality rates were much higher and thus procreation to carry on legacies was important!!

But I do sadly have experience enough to say that personally, sex outside of a committed relationship, preferably marriage, is not emotionally healthy for anybody involved.

This is entirely subjective, as each relationship, brief or long, is different, very different!! Each person enters into a relationship with a desire and expectations of their own and it takes two people to make a relationship work for its specific purpose!!

Myself, for example, have had many different types of relationships that all came to their conclusions in many different ways, some were train-wrecks and some were fine and mutual!!

One of the relationships was a wreck because he wanted me to be a trophy, to be by his side so he could say "This is my woman" which in his mind included spending our weekend in his country house mainly so that he didn't have to see me talking to other people, including other men!! Of course it was put to me as "alone" and "romantic" time so it took a while, when we eventually did go out, for me to see the jealousy and insecurity and decided to get out of dodge despite all the plans we made which we quite a few but I will not be controlled!! I am a naturally talkative person, I enjoy being around people so it wouldn't make sense for me to be with someone who was going to punch something or someone every time he felt jealous!!

This is of course, simply one example of why certain relationships will undoubtedly become train wrecks, it had nothing to do with our sex life and all to do with the issues he had outside the bedroom!! I have also had sexually relationships that were simply for sex, I'm not ashamed of it, I am not a dirty person and have always been safe and careful!! I consider these relationships very successful, one lasted over two years and the two of us were very comfortable with one another!! We both got what we wanted out of it without the illusion on either side that feelings might develop!! I actually sent him a video game as an apology when my naive friend got involved and asked him if he fancied me as if we were still in a school playground and didn't meet up with him for a month after incase any miscommunications happened!! I wasn't running around sleeping with everyone I could get my hands on, but when I was single I still didn't miss out on the bonds and intimacy that I enjoyed!! In a way, we were both committed to what our relationship was, and that was purely bedroom enjoyment and relaxation, there were no messages or lying in bed thinking of one another and there was no jealousy or giddiness!!

Unsuccessful relationships happen when people enter them under false pretensions or against better judgments and such!! If someone just wants sex then they should stay away from people they know have feelings for them!! If someone has feelings for someone else and they know they can never be with them then they should stay away from them!! Train-wrecks only happen if one half or both participants of the relationship allows them to happen!! People should be honest about what they want, what the expect and what they don't like other wise yes, things will crumble and people will get hurt!! Communication is one of the biggest factors in a successful relationship!!

but don't try telling me sex outside of marriage is 'healthy'. It's really not.

Heh, each to their own, clearly you needed something more than just sex and that's fine!! Stability clearly works for you and that is also fine!!

But there have been scientific investigation into the benefits that Sex can have on people both physically, emotionally and mentally!! You can find information on this all over the Internet about the benefits of sex and I don't particularly see why those benefits should be left solely for those who are married!! Why should someone be denied the stress relief benefits sex can provide you with just because they haven't met the person they want to spend the rest of their life with?? Because Train-wrecks?? Well those happen in marriages as well but I think as long as someone is being safe and responsible, why not??

My point is, every person is different and thus every relationship is different and people should be happy and allowed to do what makes them happy so long as they aren't hurting others!! Broken hearts don't really count here as those will happen and they happen in marriages as well!!

If I'm recalling my medieval history correctly, women who took Holy Orders were far from powerless. They were often the best-educated and best-connected people in their societies, and many abbesses of antiquity were regularly visited by kings and noblemen seeking advice or diplomatic services.

Many abbesses in the medieval times had their abbeys built for them because they were, a lot of the time, daughters of rich nobles who, more than likely, hadn't found a political marriage to make use of them from and so were allowed to run their own convent while still being treated like Ladies and Princesses and that is ok!! But most lower ranked Nuns and such did not benefit from such power and still had to cover their hairs and do not say mass like the Priest!! But those were just my personal issues with being Catholic, I dislike inequality, there is either equality or there is not!!

they are still very meaningful to present day faithful!

And that is fine, each to their own, each person has their own things they hold dear to them!! I said before that "Love thy neighbour" was a very important life lesson that was stressed in my religious schools and Church but doesn't mean I still don't have qualms with many other aspects of my religious past!!

But given that the Scriptures are not from any one era

I was more considering the Ancient times here for the Old Testament in the Bible since I was referencing the Creationism of the Book of Genesis that people adhere to strictly on the story of how the world was created!! That particular story is just a narrative in my eyes, much like other narrative texts from Ancient Times!! To me, it is akin to mythology, like Egyptian or Greek etc Mythology, nice stories that fit with their times!!
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:00 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:But I do sadly have experience enough to say that personally, sex outside of a committed relationship, preferably marriage, is not emotionally healthy for anybody involved. The few sexual relationships I was in before my marriage were all total emotional wrecks, and the one partner I had who I came off respecting afterward was the one who insisted on not going further than making out. I'm not going to comment on what other people for what they do in private, but don't try telling me sex outside of marriage is 'healthy'. It's really not.


I have seen healthy non-marriage relations. Obviously didn't work for you and I'm sorry about that but people can have healthy relationships without marrying (would still recommend marriage)

3.) If I'm recalling my medieval history correctly, women who took Holy Orders were far from powerless. They were often the best-educated and best-connected people in their societies, and many abbesses of antiquity were regularly visited by kings and noblemen seeking advice or diplomatic services.


That is true but how true in the modern day Catholic Church? Or society and state?

Personally, I would go for female priests in the Catholic Church. Not marriage for idealogical reasons but the pool of talent needs to be widened and taking out half the gene pool does not seem a good idea in practice, female presence within the cloisters and the hierarchy might help the Church in the long run. Particularly the priests learning that woman aren't two headed aliens :wink:

Regarding priesthood, though, I think there's an unhelpful presupposition at work, which equates a certain ecclesial role with a higher social value, which isn't necessarily the case. And a priest is not qualified to give advice on all the mundane and workaday aspects of marriage, only on those aspects which are pertinent to salvation (which, granted, are quite a few, but probably don't extend to when to wake up to feed the baby).


I would agree but the problem is when priests become (or became) the all wise councillors in all things. By councillor, I mean all seeing power whose word goes.
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby Aygor » Sun Dec 07, 2014 1:29 am

WeiWenDi wrote:1.) Sex is for procreation. That's its biological function, and it strikes me as delusional to deny it.

From a biological perspective I think it's interesting to notice that to ensure we have offspring, we are "designed" to mate as much as possible, pushed by the pleasure of it. To use it only for procreation, now that we got to understand the link between the act and reproduction, would be against our biological pulse to, well, have sex per se.

WeiWenDi wrote:but don't try telling me sex outside of marriage is 'healthy'. It's really not.

It isn't healthy or unhealthy in itself, with all it carries sex is, in the end, merely an action.
Many are perfectly capable of enjoing it without commited feelings, many aren't.
Whether it is healthily enjoyed or not has to do with the persona of the involved people, not with the act itself.
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby James » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:51 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:There is evidence about the Easter Island heads that we can study, quantify and compare with other similar man made sites in the world. It is reasonable to assume they are man made because those resources are there for us to examine.

But regarding the universe itself, we have no grounds for comparison since we have no access to or evidence for other universes. We are not able to study anything prior to or outside this universe, even though particle physics and theoretical mathematics have given us startling insights to the first few moments of existence as we know it. But regarding what happened before then? No matter which way you cut it, it will come down to conjecture. Faith only can be a guide there.

Ah, gotcha. Science defined nothing prior to the Big Bang for very good reason—there's no solid data upon which to base the theories. I think this is actually an excellent example for the argument I made earlier in this discussion. The most credible science-based theory would be to suggest that the Big Bang may well have been one type of event in an even larger structure of systems where other universes come into being in a similar way. It is pure conjecture, but it as at least informed conjecture based on considering the behavior of other elements in our known universe, from galaxies all the way down to the structure of the objects around us.

This is also, presently, the best point for religion/faith to step into the equation. This is the most scientifically plausible place in which to insert the concept of a creator (because nothing is known of what exists in scope beyond the Big Bang theory. The problem, here, is that the 'creator' is just an extremely basic and rudimentary explanation for the unknown. It applied in history on the smallest scale of describing the sun and would continue to exist if, against all imagination, we somehow came to understand what existed beyond the Big Bang (i.e. if the Big Bang was indeed an individual event in a larger structure of events we can just step back once more to the unknown and insert the 'creator' there).

What I'm uncomfortable with is that the creator is an unfalsifiable conclusion. It is an answer derived without evidence which simultaneously cannot be challenged with evidence. Indeed, any scientific theory as to what existed in scope greater than the Big Bang would also be unfalsifiable. I'm okay with the science-based guess above because it is clearly labeled and presented as speculation. What I'd be uncomfortable with is to insert that unfalsifiable belief as fact and something which should be fervently defended.

And to ascribe intent, history, motives, description to that creative force/entity/event takes it into a league well beyond the far more reasonable speculation of a creative force. It ascribes human history and arrogance to something which would presumably exist on a level far beyond our little spec in the galaxy and leans on literature and word-of-mouth taken at face value to be factual in order to do so.

WeiWenDi wrote:If that 'creative force' you speak of is ascribed to me or to Shozuhn (which I doubt on the basis of the wording given a second reading of this) then fair enough. But you spoke of 'exceptional assumptions' as well, as though the 'creative force' itself was not one of the same. My point was that ascribing creativity to the first cause is precisely to 'image' that cause.

From that point, a certain kind of faith is demanded, a kind of trust in that creative force. If one ascribes meaning or sense to the universe, if there is anything of the artist's hand in it, why should that force not still be at work in ways partly sensible to us? If this creative force had any concern for its creations (following Lewis's argument for the universe's moral nature), the revelations of God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, including the Incarnation of Christ, are at least consistent with that sort of concern.

My hope was to ascribe nothing here directly to you or Shozuhn because I have only limited knowledge of your individual religious beliefs. I only believe [hopefully accurately] that you are both Christians, which is part of the reason why I've framed responses to both of you in that context. Acknowledging, at the same time, that I have absolutely no clue how either of you interpret nuance in those individual beliefs.

Back to responding, why would that creative force—the one which we've associated with the creation of this universe and all inside it—still be involved in it? Why would it have an interest in guiding us as individuals? Maybe it concerns itself on a level far, far beyond the concept of this galaxy we know. Maybe there's no way, in our vastly inferior and limited form, to even remotely contemplate how it acts or things? Maybe that creative force is a creation of another creative force? Personally, I choose not to speculate because I believe I have absolutely no means of coming even remotely close to any potential answer. Even in believing in the Big Bang theory I wouldn't hazard an explanation as to how the proverbial 'it all' started. But here's where our positions become more distant. You've drawn the conclusion that this creative force holds a concern for us and you carry that association to far, far more specific events like communication with individual humans and the incarnation of Christ.

I live in Salt Lake City. Lots o' Mormons live around here, and they ascribe a similar history to Joseph Smith. I expect you are not LDS yourself and, as such, would take issue with that association. But the same sort of thing can and certainly has played out in other forms through history.

WeiWenDi wrote:All that is fine, but I wasn't trying to make a utilitarian argument for Christianity. I was only trying to demonstrate that Christian aims are not at odds with the aims of science, rightly considered.

That said, it hasn't been my experience that an awareness of the afterlife detracts from present-mindedness. The idea that our actions have consequences that we can't seek escape from in death is just as likely to spur greater care and introspection in people's present actions. At least, that's been my experience by and large.

I wish Christian aims did not function at odds with science, but setting aside a string of historic examples (plenty to be found simply through the history of astronomy) there remains modern examples like stem cell research, evolution, geology, our understanding of sexual orientation. (Heck, astronomy still—as evidenced in disagreements between Big Bang theory and Creationism). But... that's not your point, is it?

Your point is that Christianity need not be opposed to the aims of science. In this we agree. In practice it frequently is not, whether fault lies in the interpretation of an individual or Christian denomination.

As to the later I have only my own experiences and thoughts shared by others to submit. I absolutely care more about my actions on this world, and have taken a significantly different view of death, in the context of acknowledging that I do not know what will come next. And I think it is reasonable to scale that for a number of people. There's a significant difference between how a person might view death when they, as an example, acknowledge they may cease to exist, or as a second example, believe they are going to go to a place far better than the world we know. But I have no evidence to present—nor can I imagine how such a thing could be reliably studied or quantified.

WeiWenDi wrote:Faith is not opposed to fact. It is operating at a different level, and that often confuses people when they enter into these kinds of discussions. People will often say that science requires a kind of faith itself, and usually they mean that to the limited extent that scientists trust their own sense-perceptions and trust each other to behave according to the professional demands of the discipline.

But faith in God shares more elements with scientific inquiry than just this. Both require at their basis a trust that the universe has an underlying coherence and teleology. The operational demands of the scientific method itself assume this coherence (as in, any experiment under controlled conditions can be repeated anywhere where those same conditions apply), so at a certain level science depends on theistic, and indeed monotheistic, assumptions - but it leaves off entirely the existential and personalistic dimensions of faith, such that it cannot discuss them.

We just disagree here. While some of this may be true on the basis of individual scientists, science as a whole aims to draw theories an conclusions on observable realities. Its conclusions must stand up to fact and evidence and are accordingly challenged. Faith does not recognize such a system. It is a belief that can be sustained regardless of evidence. Science should be falsifiable. Faith need not be. Indeed, by definition, it is not. Which is not to say that faith cannot incorporate fact.

WeiWenDi wrote:(More troublingly, though scientists themselves have to acknowledge the limitations of their findings' statistical relevance and applicability, many popular authors who write about science try to turn human intellect and sense-perception into gods in their own light.)

Ehh... some, sure? More once we move more into the realm of bloggers/lesser known individuals. But if you'd apply such a thing to even Neal deGrasse Tyson (to give this subject a name and focus on a prominent speaker in the world of science) I'd say you've missed the mark significantly. At best it is a very strict adherence to framing understanding on evidence.

WeiWenDi wrote:There is a difference of approach between inquiring into constative, scientific fact, and inquiring into the meaning and personality of the Universe, or of a human being's place and purpose in it. They do intersect in certain places, but the questions they ask are not even aimed at the same kinds of answers, and posing an irreconcilable conflict between them will neither benefit science nor shed any light on the humanistic questions with which the Church is concerned.

I agree with your conclusion. I either don't really understand or am having trouble relating to your earlier point. Quite possibly the former. I can be pretty darn good at not understanding someone's angle in written discussion.
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby James » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:15 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:But I do sadly have experience enough to say that personally, sex outside of a committed relationship, preferably marriage, is not emotionally healthy for anybody involved. The few sexual relationships I was in before my marriage were all total emotional wrecks, and the one partner I had who I came off respecting afterward was the one who insisted on not going further than making out. I'm not going to comment on what other people for what they do in private, but don't try telling me sex outside of marriage is 'healthy'. It's really not.

Hmm... have to disagree in part here. Sex outside marriage is certainly more likely to produce a destructive result because it is a potentially emotionally engaging action with possible physical consequences introduced into an immature relationship. That necessarily creates greater risk than what would be the case in an established relationship (signing a piece of paper and corresponding legal parameters not required).

But it can also be just as (or even more) enriching depending on the emotional maturity (and other flavors of maturity) of those involved. And it can contribute in other ways not necessarily endorsed by religious views—emotional health, enjoyment, pleasure. And I'd add that it can also be enriching in the context of developing emotional maturity for a committed relationship. It can apply in even base levels. Having that experience with some emotional maturity can help a person to focus more on other aspects of a relationship when deciding marriage is appropriate.

But, hey, YMMV. Another person is abandoned financially destitute and pregnant.

- - -

That said, the discussion on the subject of sex inside/outside marriage should probably in its own topic. Yes? Maybe one of these, or a new one? 'Sex and Relationships'?
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Re: Creationism/Evolution Debate

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:54 am

James wrote:And to ascribe intent, history, motives, description to that creative force/entity/event takes it into a league well beyond the far more reasonable speculation of a creative force. It ascribes human history and arrogance to something which would presumably exist on a level far beyond our little spec in the galaxy and leans on literature and word-of-mouth taken at face value to be factual in order to do so.


James wrote:Back to responding, why would that creative force—the one which we've associated with the creation of this universe and all inside it—still be involved in it? Why would it have an interest in guiding us as individuals? Maybe it concerns itself on a level far, far beyond the concept of this galaxy we know. Maybe there's no way, in our vastly inferior and limited form, to even remotely contemplate how it acts or things? Maybe that creative force is a creation of another creative force? Personally, I choose not to speculate because I believe I have absolutely no means of coming even remotely close to any potential answer.


With regard to religion, because religion asks one to ask very different questions, one has to ask not: 'is it statistically probable that X will result from Y', but rather 'is X consistent with what we understand or intuit about the human condition', operating under the assumptions that: a.) there is such a thing as 'the human condition', and b.) that X has anything meaningful to do with it. I realise that this is getting fairly philosophical, but these topics are unavoidably philosophical.

If you place a great deal of significance that human existence is, in the grand scope of the affairs of the universe, insignificant, then you're simply never going to agree with proposition b.). But even for many scientists who have studied natural history and evolution, and who contributed more than anyone else to the appreciation of the scope of the universe and the fragility of the human place in it - notably Alfred Russel Wallace - proposition b.) was never completely out-of-the-question. (For which, interestingly, he was ruthlessly and somewhat unfairly mocked by one Samuel L Clemens.)

James wrote:What I'm uncomfortable with is that the creator is an unfalsifiable conclusion. It is an answer derived without evidence which simultaneously cannot be challenged with evidence. Indeed, any scientific theory as to what existed in scope greater than the Big Bang would also be unfalsifiable. I'm okay with the science-based guess above because it is clearly labeled and presented as speculation. What I'd be uncomfortable with is to insert that unfalsifiable belief as fact and something which should be fervently defended.


There are a lot of unfalsifiable conclusions that we live by in the modern world, though: that there are such things as 'human rights', or that human beings have inherent value, or that human beings have free will and are therefore responsible for their own actions. To paraphrase Kant, these things are never evidenced scientifically, but we simply have to operate by them for legal, social and pragmatic reasons.

And again, I'm not defending Christianity specifically (or religion more generally) as scientific fact, but as a different dimension of truth. Call it moral if you like, or aesthetic, or existential.

James wrote:I live in Salt Lake City. Lots o' Mormons live around here, and they ascribe a similar history to Joseph Smith. I expect you are not LDS yourself and, as such, would take issue with that association. But the same sort of thing can and certainly has played out in other forms through history.


:D

I know a few Mormons myself, as coworkers and friends. Incredibly good, decent and thoughtful people. I think their beliefs are a bit... shall we say, goofy? That's the word my dad used to describe them. But I have no problem at all being compared to them.

Regarding whether or not some human event is actually divinely-inspired or -sourced, that depends a lot on a certain kind of reasoning which is internal to the idea of faith. The Orthodox Church makes the distinction between saints and false teachers all the time, and one of the major standards is: are their words and works consistent with each other, and are they consistent with the life and words of Christ as they were imparted to us? Now this may seem like a kind of circular logic, particularly to someone who doesn't at the first principle consider Christ to have been God.

James wrote:I wish Christian aims did not function at odds with science, but setting aside a string of historic examples (plenty to be found simply through the history of astronomy) there remains modern examples like stem cell research, evolution, geology, our understanding of sexual orientation. (Heck, astronomy still—as evidenced in disagreements between Big Bang theory and Creationism). But... that's not your point, is it?

Your point is that Christianity need not be opposed to the aims of science. In this we agree. In practice it frequently is not, whether fault lies in the interpretation of an individual or Christian denomination.


There seems to be a fundamental (no pun intended, really) disconnect between the creationism / evolution controversy and all its assorted ends on the one hand, and the stem cell research and sexual orientation debates on the other.

The fundamentalist Protestants do not have a moral objection to evolution or to the idea of 'survival of the fittest' (with a very high-profile exception or two). The (American) fundamentalist Protestant embrace of capitalism, broadly stated, is proof of this - they obviously don't take exception to the idea of 'survival of the fittest' in the economic realm. In general, the fundamentalist Protestant objection to creationism is constative rather than moral - they take issue not with the moral implications of Darwinism when applied in a brutish and unsophisticated way to human affairs, but with the actual propositions for fear that they will undermine a faith which is dependent on conflicting propositions.

The same doesn't hold true with stem-cell research or sexual orientation. I don't think any intellectually-honest Catholics or Orthodox who are concerned with bioethics would deny that stem-cell research has the potential to drastically improve medicine; they just don't want said research to be conducted in ways that would treat human beings as lab animals rather than as, well, human beings. (I have the same objections about GMO research carried out on unwitting children in China; that doesn't make me anti-science.)

With regard to sexual orientation, the ascription of meaning to certain biological acts is, again, working on a different dimension than the dimension of scientific inquiry. It may indeed be that there is a genetic component to same-sex attraction, just as it may indeed be the case that there is a genetic component to other, more obviously problematic paraphiliac attractions (like paedophilia). But that doesn't make any and every action that follows from said attraction morally correct.

I won't get into this further on the current topic, as this is getting more into sexual ethics and should be moved to the appropriate thread, as you suggest. :)

James wrote:We just disagree here. While some of this may be true on the basis of individual scientists, science as a whole aims to draw theories an conclusions on observable realities. Its conclusions must stand up to fact and evidence and are accordingly challenged. Faith does not recognize such a system. It is a belief that can be sustained regardless of evidence. Science should be falsifiable. Faith need not be. Indeed, by definition, it is not. Which is not to say that faith cannot incorporate fact.


My point was, though, that even to draw theories and conclusions based on observable realities, one has to be able to equate and compare observable realities across contexts in a way that would not be possible in a polytheistic universe. This is getting more into the anthropology of science, actually, but it stands to reason that if one god governs a particular place and another god governs another particular place, any differences between the empirical realities which hold true in each particular place can be 'chalked up' to the gods disagreeing with each other, or to them merely each going his own way.

The very idea that two realities in two different places and times of the universe can be empirically comparable to each other depends on the assumption that the same cosmic rules apply no matter where you go. Speaking in philosophical terms, such an assumption is only possible thanks to monotheism.

James wrote:Ehh... some, sure? More once we move more into the realm of bloggers/lesser known individuals. But if you'd apply such a thing to even Neal deGrasse Tyson (to give this subject a name and focus on a prominent speaker in the world of science) I'd say you've missed the mark significantly. At best it is a very strict adherence to framing understanding on evidence.


I'm not talking about Dr. Tyson here - he may be a science populariser, but he's also a qualified astrophysicist with a Ph.D. from Columbia. He's not just a talking-head or an ideologue. Mostly I'm talking about the Dennett-Dawkins-Hitchens-Harris school of liberal 'new atheists', who as a rule tend to have a highly-inflated sense of the long-term infallibility of human reason.

James wrote:I agree with your conclusion. I either don't really understand or am having trouble relating to your earlier point. Quite possibly the former. I can be pretty darn good at not understanding someone's angle in written discussion.


And I can be pretty darn good at not making myself clear. My apologies about that. :P

But you're right that, at best, I think we're talking about the edges of the magisteria where things are the least clear, and maybe are in some disagreement about where religious understandings are most appropriate. But we seem to be in broad agreement at the least that there are certain fields of competence where different sorts of reason apply.
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