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Supernatural vs Natural

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I feel forums are not really forums until the usual 'god/creator vs science/big bang' thread is made.

To make things absolutely clear, this thread should not be used to attack people and their beliefs, it's for the exchange of philosophical and scientific ideas that, so long as it doesn't derail, people will have a better understanding of others and even their own views.*

I would say I was born an atheist (just as everyone is) and raised as one but that feels like a lie to me. I had never even had the concept of a god brought forward to me until I was about 4 or 5 and I became deeply interested in the Greek, Roman and Norse gods. So to class me as an atheist seems wrong, since it wasn't something that was ever mentioned. It would be like classing someone who had never heard of Middle-earth (I know, it's difficult to imagine) as an anti-Tolkienist.

So it's safe to say I'm firmly in the science camp. That's not to say I'm completely opposed to the idea of something creating the universe, I'm just opposed to the idea that it was created for us by something that looks much like us.

There are a few questions that brought me to this. I could think of no reasonable answers for these and so logic points to it not being the case:

- Why would a god create the universe for humans, when the majority of it is uninhabitable empty space?

- Why would a god create a planet for humans, when the the majority of it is covered in seas, deserts and wilderness which we can't or struggle to survive in?

- Why would a god, that is omnipotent and omniscient, create a planet for humans to live on just to test them for what eternity (heaven or hell) they deserve when he already knows all of this by his very definition?

You'll notice that none of these questions will answer if a god exists or doesn't exist but that isn't the point of them. Their point is to use logic to determine if these things are likely or unlikely.

I'll jump straight to the end of all of the questions I've thought about and give you my own conclusion (remember this is my own, it doesn't mean that I'm right and you're wrong): I do not see any reasonable likelihood that any of the gods of the major religions exist.

Feel free to raise your own points, deconstruct mine and give your thought out reasonings for your own conclusions but please try to keep it civil.

* Unless, of course, you feel their beliefs are retarded. Then it's open season and they're fair game.

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I'm not believing into anything until I can measure its atomic mass, volume or density. You could say that I don't believe in supernatural, which I count religion to be aswell, mostly. This would be the short story.

Religion is means to explain the unexplained, a way to find hope from the confusion and the uncertainty that is the world. It is also the opinion of a person or a group, it is not a fact. Rather I see it as a set of rules or guidelines which people are instructed to go by. Religion is also the direct cause or accessory to just about any crime and injustice.

To be continued.

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I'm a believer in science. Since science can't explain religion, I don't believe it. I was raised an Atheist, however growing up Religion was forced upon me in school, and so spent a little time researching into religion. I made my decision on belief based on this. Therefore I can't believe that there is a greater power that created the world for us.

I see religion as a way of imposing a set of rules on people, or an outlet for people to direct their feelings. If they believe that theres a reason for all the suffereing in the world, then somehow it can be justified. But it also gives people hope and focus in their lives. There are good and bad sides to religion, just as there is with everything in the world.

So long as people don't try to force their religion on me, I don't have a problem with other people's beliefs. Just as I would never try to force my atheism on someone that wasn't interested.

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I'm a believer in science. Since science can't explain religion, I don't believe it...

Whilst I'm not religious myself just because science can't explain something is no reason not to believe in it. Scientists have so far not been able to agree why, if you release a pigeon hundreds of miles away from home in unfamiliar territory, they can still find there way back. This can't be reliably explained but there is no doubt it happens and therefore I still believe in the pigeons ability to navigate over hundreds of miles without a map, despite the lack of a scientific explanation.

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Whilst I'm not religious myself just because science can't explain something is no reason not to believe in it. Scientists have so far not been able to agree why, if you release a pigeon hundreds of miles away from home in unfamiliar territory, they can still find there way back. This can't be reliably explained but there is no doubt it happens and therefore I still believe in the pigeons ability to navigate over hundreds of miles without a map, despite the lack of a scientific explanation.

Yes, you're right. I guess I didn't really explain myself that well (I have a habbit of doing that...) I was thinking more of the supernatural; religion, ghosts, psychics etc. I hope this explains a little better :)

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I'll sort of put things from another direction - I'm spiritual (not religious - I don't follow what anyone else tells me to the letter) because I have had a lot of experiences that science cannot explain. It's only when these kind of things happen to you personally that you question if science has all the answers.

For me it doesn't. One small example is that I have a pebble on my PC on my desk at work. It flew off about a year ago - by itself and hit me on the head - there were many witnesses. Pebbles are not supposed to do that by themselves. I now have it blu tacked down so hopefully it won't do it again!

I am a Buddhist because my world view is mostly closely aligned to that school of thought but I'm not dogmatic about it. I do things not strictly Buddhist and I don't do a lot of things Buddhists are supposed to do.

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I would say I was born an atheist (just as everyone is)

No. You were born ignorant. Ignorant in the non-pejorative sense of lacking knowledge. Atheism is not an absence of belief. It is an informed belief that there are no gods. You were a born a blank page, ready to be indoctrinated by the mores & beliefs of the culture you were born into. It seems in your case, atheism wrote bigger, bolder, louder than anything else. Had you been born into Iran, Babylon, 8thC England, etc, you would almost certainly believe something else.

So to class me as an atheist seems wrong, since it wasn't something that was ever mentioned. It would be like classing someone who had never heard of Middle-earth (I know, it's difficult to imagine) as an anti-Tolkienist.

QED. See above. Another term that may be of interest in a topic like this is agnostic. OED definition is " A person who believes that nothing is known, or can be known, of the existence of God" (their capital, not mine). I've always treated it as meaning someone that believes that while god could exist, they do not believe god is worthy of worship (principally because of the baggage that goes with the major religions).

I'm just opposed to the idea that it was created for us by something that looks much like us.

Another common misconception. I believe that "made in his image" is supposed to refer to the spirit, rather than the form.

There are a few questions that brought me to this. I could think of no reasonable answers for these and so logic points to it not being the case:

Again, I have to disagree. Logic says says merely that you do not possess sufficient evidence to be able to form a conclusion. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Why would a god create the universe for humans, when the majority of it is uninhabitable empty space?

Because the creator of this universe, whether god or not, has decided to design a universe where the constraints of physical science require that this be so. Perhaps that creator has designed another universe differently? How could we know? It's entirely possible that the physical constraints of this universe render it a goldfish bowl - others can see in, but we can never see out.

Why would a god create a planet for humans, when the the majority of it is covered in seas, deserts and wilderness which we can't or struggle to survive in?

As above, the physical constraints of this universe require it. Or, who says he designed it solely for us? Or, who says he didn't design it as a test to see what we'd do with it (I'd say we were failing :F)? Or, who says it wasn't just designed as one vast culture dish to see what turned up? It so happens that we're the dominant lifeform these days and, on average, seem to think it must have been made for us. Who'd like to bet against the creator sitting there, taking notes, thinking "Next time I must tweak the parameters so that something like that lot can't turn up again..."? ;)

Why would a god, that is omnipotent and omniscient, create a planet for humans to live on just to test them for what eternity (heaven or hell) they deserve when he already knows all of this by his very definition?

Because he's a fucking sadist. Pardon my Low German. You're now into the realms of logical inconsistency in monotheism. I've given people religious crises before with this line of argument. It is possible to be both omniscient & omnipotent, but I do not believe that it is possible for that to co-exist with a notion of absolute good & absolute evil. If the absolute is possible, it cannot be omni-anything; if it is omni- then, from our point of view at least, good & evil are meaningless, it is light years beyond our limited comprehension.

Their point is to use logic to determine if these things are likely or unlikely.

As previously noted, the only logical conclusion that ought to be drawn is that there is insufficient evidence to be able to give any meaningful answer. An entity capable of creating the universe we live in, and all the complexity involved in that, is further in advance of us, by any yardstick, than we are in front of amoebae. Or even viruses.

The problem is that the human brain likes to pigeon-hole things to try to make sense of the world. So the religious fanatics will tell you one thing, and the scientists will tell you another, usually never realising that their particular standpoint makes them as blind and fanatical as the god-bod nutballs they think they're opposing. Never trust a man who insists that everyone else is wrong, be he preacher or scientist! And especially if he's a lawyer... ;)

I do not see any reasonable likelihood that any of the gods of the major religions exist.

I am pagan. Because I am open to the concept that there are multiple gods within my own pantheon (though it is possible to argue that most, if not all, are aspects of a Sky Father / Earth Mother duoply), I cannot, and am not willing to, rule out other people's faiths & ideologies as being "wrong".

However, I am also an analyst, by nature, profession, and training. It is impossible for me to accept the monotheistic dogma of One God, Absolute Good, etc, whether that be christer, muslim, or jewish. The notion of a single omnipotent (which implies omniscient) god who is absolutely good is logically impossible. The presence of evil under such circumstances cannot be argued by the notion that I have free will. Under christer dogma, I do NOT have free will. I can choose to do what the hell I want provided that I agree to do exactly what god says; otherwise eternal torture?

That's not free will; that's infinite sadism! I can accept the existence of the montheists' god. I just think he's got a better propogandist than Goebbels was. In other words, he may exist, but he can't be omnipotent. However much they would like you to believe that he is!

I do not believe so that I have an umbrella "just in case". However, like climate sceptics, if you do not believe & you are wrong, you are going to find yourself in trouble. If there are no gods, no higher beings, then when I am dead, there will only be an oblivion that I will know nothing of. If I don't believe and there is something, where am I going? Which equates to the climate sceptics finding out that climate change is real, & boy are you going to be screwed when you find out... ;)

It happens that I do believe. I just don't know whether I'm right. If it turns out to be God, I'm going to stick two fingers up & spit in his eye. Otherwise... there's lots of room in the universe, physical & meta-physical, for all of us. Just don't try to shove your opinions down my throat!

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Attempting to prove or disprove the existence of God based on logic has a long and illustrious history. Sometimes the Wikipedia does indeed come in handy. I usually refer people who like to argue the existence or nonexistence of God based on logic (been known to try a bit of that myself on occasion) to this article to show they are in good company. It's also a good starting point, I believe, for those who wish to head down that path.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

I personally find Kant's analysis the best jumping off point. Douglas Gasking also fleshes out the fundamentals of an interesting argument, in my opinion.

There is a wealth of additional thought in the Notes, References, and External Links.

I have personally come to the conclusion that God simultaneously exists and doesn't exist. Please don't ask me to explain. 7(8)7

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I've recently come across people that believe that the Earth is around 6000 years old, that evolution isn't true and that dinosaurs never existed... now that must cross some line, right?

I don't mind if someone thinks that there was a god that created the universe, some being that set the laws of the universe in motion and caused the big bang (even if I don't believe it myself) but when they begin to blot out reality, things that can be proved, it takes a turn from a personal belief to blind stubborness.

Even worse when these same people brought a teenager with them, can't have been out of school age, and were talking to me about this as though it were all true. No matter how much evidence I was coming up with to refute their senseless claim, I was being batted away with some strange biblical ramblings and nonsense. Even the kid seemed to think that evolution was 'God's way of testing us'.

So from this recent encounter, I've had a new question and it's more of a morality based one.

- Is it right for parents to indoctrinate their children into their belief system from an early age?

I personally do not agree with this. Children shouldn't need to have the fear of god put into them to bring them in line. They shouldn't have to learn all sorts of fairytales and told it were true. I think children should be given all the evidence and facts they'd need to come to their own conclusion when they're of a suitable age to decide themselves, be it god or godless.

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All parents indoctrinate their children to some degree. As I said before, everyone is indoctrinated by the mores & beliefs of the culture you are brought up in (I said born into before, but of course it's brought up). However humanist you consider yourself, the fact of the matter is that had you been born in Japan to Japanese parents in 1915, you almost certainly would have either approved of, or cheerfully engaged in, all the acts that took place during the 30's & 40's - that culture then believed that was proper behaviour. Our culture then didn't agree, that culture now no believes the same thing.

And the 6,000 years thing is a timeline based on the bible. Lots of born-again's believe that. I've a good friend who is a scientist working for British Aerospace on missiles - he believes it too! I've never asked him how he reconciles designing weapons with his faith...

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That's impressive, you rarely find a scientist who is also a die-hard believer. Must be a little like leading a double life.

As for the fossils/age of the earth thing, Terry Pratchett always pops into my head when that argument crops up })

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Fossils are put there by Satan to confuse us. And carbon-dating is flawed science. Yup, he's told me both of those things...

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- Is it right for parents to indoctrinate their children into their belief system from an early age?

The counter to that of course is "Do you think its right to indoctrinate their children into believing Darwins Theory of Evolution? "

I am just playing devils advocate here and putting across one argument that is often used to counter yours, I certainly do not think that the earth is only 6000 years old or doubt evolution or think that creationism or a 6000 year history should be taught in schools as fact (as apparently some very odd Americans do).

Incidentally, whilst I find he's God Delusion book almost as preachy as the religions he is trying to counter, Richard Dawkins book on evolution, The Greatest Show On Earth is a book I very highly recommend on the subject.

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I certainly do not think that the earth is only 6000 years old or doubt evolution or think that creationism or a 6000 year history should be taught in schools as fact (as apparently some very odd Americans do).

UK does now too. You can thank Tony Blair for that...

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The counter to that of course is "Do you think its right to indoctrinate their children into believing Darwins Theory of Evolution? "

Two minor flaws with that counter: 1) Indoctrination is teaching a person to accept a style of belief, which wouldn't work as belief is a lack of evidence, unlike evolution. 2) Evolution has evidence and is strongly supported by reality and scientific understanding, which is in stark contrast to religion.

So if I'm going to answer the flawed question that often appears in the creationist side, yes I do think it's right for parents to teach their children the evidence and facts behind evolution.

Just a note, I'm not attacking you or anything like that, I was just putting up the reasons as to why that counter is flawed to prevent the more ignorant people from actually taking it as a serious counter.

I am just playing devils advocate here and putting across one argument that is often used to counter yours, I certainly do not think that the earth is only 6000 years old or doubt evolution or think that creationism or a 6000 year history should be taught in schools as fact (as apparently some very odd Americans do).

I was completely shocked to see that people really did think the Earth was 6000 years old. I live in England and religion isn't really something taken that seriously here anymore, so when I encountered people saying this sort of thing I actually thought it was a prank to start with.

Incidentally, whilst I find he's God Delusion book almost as preachy as the religions he is trying to counter, Richard Dawkins book on evolution, The Greatest Show On Earth is a book I very highly recommend on the subject.

The Blind Watchmaker is pretty good too. Although, the amount of times people still misunderstand evolution, even after reading that book, is staggering.

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Two minor flaws with that counter: 1) Indoctrination is teaching a person to accept a style of belief, which wouldn't work as belief is a lack of evidence, unlike evolution. 2) Evolution has evidence and is strongly supported by reality and scientific understanding, which is in stark contrast to religion.

So if I'm going to answer the flawed question that often appears in the creationist side, yes I do think it's right for parents to teach their children the evidence and facts behind evolution.

Just a note, I'm not attacking you or anything like that, I was just putting up the reasons as to why that counter is flawed to prevent the more ignorant people from actually taking it as a serious counter.

This is because the type of people that would use that argument would probably also say that Darwins Theory of Evolution is just a theory and therefore not fact and is also something you have to believe in. This is because the type of people that would make that argument also fail to understand what a scientfic theory actually is and also because they are idiots.

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This is because the type of people that would use that argument would probably also say that Darwins Theory of Evolution is just a theory and therefore not fact and is also something you have to believe in. This is because the type of people that would make that argument also fail to understand what a scientfic theory actually is and also because they are idiots.

Too true. It's those sort of people who's beliefs you can disprove. It's impossible to disprove a creator of the universe but it's easy to disprove that the same creator made everything as it is. The only problem is, they wouldn't accept it out of ignorance or sheer stubborness anyway so it ends up as a waste of time trying.

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The very odd thing about evolution deniers is their ability to ignore the fact that humanity has been utilizing the mechanics of evolution for thousands of years prior to Darwin publishing his theory on natural selection. Our historic use of the evolutionary process known as breeding predates even the bible. From dogs and cats, to chickens, sheep and cattle, to grapes and roses, and on and on the evidence is not only clearly visible all around us, it is also extremely well documented over many centuries in some cases.

Most won't even try to deny that mankind has been breeding alterations into animals and plants (through selection) throughout recorded history. But, just dare to suggest that changes in the natural environment can also alter those same animals and plants over time (also through selection), and they get all bent out of shape.

Odd, indeed. At least, I find it so.

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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - (Heb.11:1)

Instead of approaching this from Man's point-of-view, I'll approach this discussion from God's point-of-view, based on what He's revealed about Himself.

  1. He is ageless and infinite, unbound by what we know of as time and space. To paraphrase what He has said about Himself, He simply is.
  2. He is omnipotent, being in perfect control of Himself and exacts His will where and how He sees fit. No other can resist the reality of His will.
  3. He is omniscient, having a perfect understanding of Himself and all that He creates. He perceives everything without any limitation whatsoever.
  4. He is true. Who He is unchangeable, and what He speaks is reality. His Word is utterly reliable.
  5. He is holy. There are none like Him. His very nature is wholly pure, untainted and uncorrupted.
  6. He is righteous. His way and will are good and just, and those ways and wills that differ from his own are, conversely, evil and unjustified.

So, since all these things are true about Him, the matter of Creation becomes something not only possible but well within His right and ability to do. Those who balk at the Creation described in the book of Genesis as something that could not have possibly happened in six days' time fail to realize that, based on who God is, He could have done it instantaneously or in a longer time frame or a shorter one. Why six days, and why involve the establishment of time at all? I don't know, but I hope to have a better understanding one day. Nevertheless, it took the length of time he willed it to take and then said it was good. Given who He is, for Him to say that something He did was reflective of his own nature (i.e. "good") is no small pronouncement; He essentially said that what He created was done perfectly. If that doesn't imply a determined will and plan, nothing else would. And since there was a determined will and plan behind Creation, then the idea of "order from chaos" falls short in its claim, because there's nothing chaotic about a perfect plan enacted by a perfect will.

Now, since God ruled that Creation was good, a product out of His own perfect nature, that says to me that it happened without error. And since it happened without error, that the reason I can't put credence in the theory of evolution. If I had been descended from ancestors that evolved from an ape or a dinosaur or a kumquat tree, that would suggest that Creation wasn't perfect. But, since He is the benchmark, since He determined to make Man in His own image, that image of His perfection, then I can only conclude that the created man was not only consistent but also intended to last in his original form.

So, what happened to that perfection? To take the words in Genesis at face value - since God can't lie - Man was tempted by a being that went against God's will, made a choice to also go against the will of God (Those who have faith in God refer to that as sin.) and then he and the whole of Creation went down the tubes as a result. Simply put, because of the rebellion of Man, that perfection inherent in Creation was corrupted and, therefore, incompatible with God's very nature. Some would say, "Why allow them to side against the will of God to begin with?" or "Why have an object of temptation there to begin with?" The answer to the first question is pretty obvious. If God had invented an automaton that did everything He asked without the choice to do so or not, that automaton would have no cognizance to recognize Him as anything more than an instruction manual, impersonal and without any significance outside of those instructions. But the cognizant man can look behind the expectations and see God as a foundation for them and make an informed choice to follow according to what He wills. As far as the second question goes, that assumes there was something wrong with the tree. Rather, there was something that went wrong in the choice that Man made. If nothing else, Man chose to "devolve" from what he should have remained.

Now, many scientists, when faced with an experiment gone awry, will oftentimes be forced to take things "back to formula", so it would seem puzzling that God didn't go the same route. Just restart Creation and have it done right. There's only one problem with the analogy. Scientists aren't perfect, often allowing a margin of error in experiments. That's why they're called experiments, those things that don't have a certain outcome. Since God's creation was perfect, since he had a determined will and plan for it, and since He is omnipotent, omniscient and so forth, could any choice made by Man possibly have derailed His will and plan? Judging simply by who He is, I say that it couldn't.

Carl Sagan is often quoted for his famous claim that:

The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

Knowing what is known about God, Mr. Sagan missed the point, because he was trying to seek out answers to the "mysteries" within a Creation that was affected by the fall of Man, rather than looking towards the perfection the exists regardless of Creation's state. That "faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height," if he had paid attention, would have been a realization of just how great a height Man had fallen from, a height that was an inheritance of the perfection of God himself.

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To be descended from just two humans (Adam and Eve) would give us one hell of a narow gene pool though. You'd think we'd all look the same... ;)

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See I don't believe God and evolution are mutually exclusive. I'm not a religious man myself but I dont think just because you happen to believe in God that its necessary to dismiss evolution. The story told in Genesis could just be viewed as allegory, creation can still be "good" if what God intended was to build a basis for life to evolve and grow.

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"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - (Heb.11:1)

Instead of approaching this from Man's point-of-view, I'll approach this discussion from God's point-of-view, based on what He's revealed about Himself.

I'm just going to seperate out your quote for ease or replying, not to deconstruct in a way designed to antagonise.

  1. He is ageless and infinite, unbound by what we know of as time and space. To paraphrase what He has said about Himself, He simply is.
  2. He is omnipotent, being in perfect control of Himself and exacts His will where and how He sees fit. No other can resist the reality of His will.
  3. He is omniscient, having a perfect understanding of Himself and all that He creates. He perceives everything without any limitation whatsoever.
  4. He is true. Who He is unchangeable, and what He speaks is reality. His Word is utterly reliable.
  5. He is holy. There are none like Him. His very nature is wholly pure, untainted and uncorrupted.
  6. He is righteous. His way and will are good and just, and those ways and wills that differ from his own are, conversely, evil and unjustified.

Ok, I will accept all of these things.

So, since all these things are true about Him, the matter of Creation becomes something not only possible but well within His right and ability to do. Those who balk at the Creation described in the book of Genesis as something that could not have possibly happened in six days' time fail to realize that, based on who God is, He could have done it instantaneously or in a longer time frame or a shorter one. Why six days, and why involve the establishment of time at all? I don't know, but I hope to have a better understanding one day.

I've read the book of genesis multiple times and I don't doubt that he could do it in six days. As you say, a perfect being could do it instantly (which in itself would be a curiousity, as a perfect being would not even need to create as he is already perfect without it).

The doubts are raised mostly by the inconsistency and the humanising of the god.

He is shown to need to rest on the seventh day. A perfect being doesn't need to rest.

He is shown to create man out of dust and, for some arbitary reason, create woman out of man's rib (yes, I know Lilith was created alongside Adam before Eve and that she went evil but that just shows that god didn't do a very good job making her, despite him supposedly being perfect). Why create these things out of anything at all, since he already has the power to create out of nothing as demonstrated with the universe.

He creates a tree to tempt his creations into folly even though he knows they would eat it as he is all knowing and they were unaware that going against the word of god is evil since they lacked that knowledge that they later gained from the fruit (why he created them without that knowledge is beyond me, since then they could not know that they are doing evil to make a moral decision).

He punishes his creations for disobeying him but pretends that is free will (listen to me or suffer doesn't sound much like free will). Why punish what you have created for something so small as to know good and evil, when that knowledge would help them make moral decisions?

Nevertheless, it took the length of time he willed it to take and then said it was good. Given who He is, for Him to say that something He did was reflective of his own nature (i.e. "good") is no small pronouncement; He essentially said that what He created was done perfectly. If that doesn't imply a determined will and plan, nothing else would. And since there was a determined will and plan behind Creation, then the idea of "order from chaos" falls short in its claim, because there's nothing chaotic about a perfect plan enacted by a perfect will.

Right, now this is where it gets tricky. Perfection means that it cannot improve. It is obvious that the Earth has improved over time. Early life changed the atmosphere of the Earth so dramatically that more complex forms of life could survive. That is a big change and a huge improvement, especially in the mind of a god who created everything for humans.

Now, since God ruled that Creation was good, a product out of His own perfect nature, that says to me that it happened without error. And since it happened without error, that the reason I can't put credence in the theory of evolution. If I had been descended from ancestors that evolved from an ape or a dinosaur or a kumquat tree, that would suggest that Creation wasn't perfect. But, since He is the benchmark, since He determined to make Man in His own image, that image of His perfection, then I can only conclude that the created man was not only consistent but also intended to last in his original form.

Exactly. So the fact that there is evidence that evolution did and still does occur rules out that the Earth was created perfectly. That then creates a domino effect to rule out various factors about god that then leads to the very idea of a biblical as being discredited.

But, let's not forget, that in the Bible, God does actually say that he regreted creating man. Even the humans he creates, his beloved children, are mistakes and imperfect to him (This doesn't make sense as a perfect, all knowing being cannot make mistakes, but he admits he did).

So, what happened to that perfection? To take the words in Genesis at face value - since God can't lie - Man was tempted by a being that went against God's will, made a choice to also go against the will of God (Those who have faith in God refer to that as sin.) and then he and the whole of Creation went down the tubes as a result. Simply put, because of the rebellion of Man, that perfection inherent in Creation was corrupted and, therefore, incompatible with God's very nature.

I think I've already brought up this before, I can't remember what I've written and what I haven't. How can man make a decision to go against god when they were ignorant of good and evil? To them, it would be a neutral act to do something god said not to as they would know nothing of evil. So it isn't a choice, as they were ignorant of the nature of their actions.

So, what actually happened in the Bible was that the Devil came to a naive and ignorant Eve and convinced her to eat the fruit, knowing she had no knowledge of why that would be a bad idea. Eve then, with the knowledge of good and evil, convices Adam. I can see why that would be a problem (god seems to have a habit of making imperfect women, I mean, just look at Lilith) with Eve, since she was getting Adam to go against god with the knowledge that it was a bad thing. Adam was the innocent party in this whole thing.

Some would say, "Why allow them to side against the will of God to begin with?" or "Why have an object of temptation there to begin with?" The answer to the first question is pretty obvious. If God had invented an automaton that did everything He asked without the choice to do so or not, that automaton would have no cognizance to recognize Him as anything more than an instruction manual, impersonal and without any significance outside of those instructions.

So let me get this straight. God created man with no knowledge of good and evil but with free will to do as they wish, then gets angry when they commit an evil act without knowledge of it being an evil act? That doesn't sound very perfect.

But then, why didn't he just create an automaton? He wants people to follow a strict set of rules and not commit evil. That sounds exactly like an automaton. If you don't do what he wants, you suffer for all eternity for it. That isn't free will. Why give the choice to people when he only wants you to pick one side? So that he can catch those who slip up and torture them forever? That doesn't sound even remotely good or pure as he is supposed to be.

But you bring up the idea that god created us so that he would be personal to us with significance to us. That doesn't sound like a perfect being at all. Why would he need to love of his creations, when he's perfect? The answer is, he doesn't. So, either he isn't perfect and he's egotistical and tyrannical or the Bible is incorrect.

But the cognizant man can look behind the expectations and see God as a foundation for them and make an informed choice to follow according to what He wills. As far as the second question goes, that assumes there was something wrong with the tree. Rather, there was something that went wrong in the choice that Man made. If nothing else, Man chose to "devolve" from what he should have remained.

So again, it's not free will. Is it free will to say 'you can pick chocolate or vanilla icecream but if you pick vanilla I will torture you'? You've instantly forced people into one choice.

And again, man didn't choose with morality. Man had no knowledge of good and evil and so cannot have known that the choice they made, helped along with the will of the Devil, was the choice that in God's mind would be evil.

To help you understand that, it would be like being in a room with a man, who looked neither good nor evil to you, who gave you the option between two buttons and told you to pick one. One killed a person and one opened the door to let you out. You don't know this, to mirror the lack of consequence that Eve had, and the man is subtley hinting that you should press the left button. You press the left button and kill someone without knowing it. Now you get punished and all your children from then on out, who had nothing to do with that moment, get punished too. Sounds fair, doesn't it?

Now, many scientists, when faced with an experiment gone awry, will oftentimes be forced to take things "back to formula", so it would seem puzzling that God didn't go the same route. Just restart Creation and have it done right. There's only one problem with the analogy. Scientists aren't perfect, often allowing a margin of error in experiments. That's why they're called experiments, those things that don't have a certain outcome. Since God's creation was perfect, since he had a determined will and plan for it, and since He is omnipotent, omniscient and so forth, could any choice made by Man possibly have derailed His will and plan? Judging simply by who He is, I say that it couldn't.

But if god was perfect and all knowing, he would have seen what would have happened with the tree and everything else. So he put the tree there, knowing full well what choice the ignorant Eve would make and then, in your mind, ruin the perfection god had created. To me that just seems like an artist watching paint slowly spill towards his masterpiece and not stopping it from ruining it. It makes no sense, especially for a perfect being.

But you say his plan wasn't dereailed by any choice made by man. So everything wasn't taken from perfection. If this was his plan, then it is still perfect. Man is still perfect (what with our many imperfections) and everything else is too, as the plan couldn't possibly be derailed by humans.

Knowing what is known about God, Mr. Sagan missed the point, because he was trying to seek out answers to the "mysteries" within a Creation that was affected by the fall of Man, rather than looking towards the perfection the exists regardless of Creation's state. That "faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height," if he had paid attention, would have been a realization of just how great a height Man had fallen from, a height that was an inheritance of the perfection of God himself.

But that is presuming that the genesis story in the Bible is true. It's clear to many that it is not, especially if you have an understanding of how the Earth was truly formed. Taking anything in the Old Testament as fact is exactly like taking the Harry Potter books as fact.

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The thing about evolution is that, in terms of one species "evolving" into another, it's never been directly observed by humans. Sure, things adapt to suit their environment, or humans can selectively breed animals with certain characteristics, but they remain the same animal (obvious example, all domesticated dogs are the same species). The only direct evidence we have is from the fossil record, which can be interpreted in a number of different ways.

I have no objections to teaching evolution in schools (and by parents), but it should be taught as what it is, a theory, not a fact, as it hasn't been directly observed. And since it is a theory, it should be taught alongside other theories (such as biblical-creationism), so that children, from whatever age, can weigh up the arguments from both sides and make an informed decision. Only being presented with one side of the argument is unfair, regardless of which side it is.

Natural selection, as a part of the evolutionary process, is also an interesting topic, because in all the instances where we have observed natural selection, it has resulted in the gene pool of a species becoming narrower (less diverse), whereas evolutionary theory would have us expecting gene pools to be becoming continually wider (more diverse) as genes mutate more and more. To give an example, the bacterium S.aureus "evolved" has a number of different strains, one of which is resistant to the drug Methicilin (sorry if this is spelled wrongly) (this strain is known as MRSA). As natural selection continues, all the S.aureus which aren't resistant die, so eventually, the entire species would just be the ones with the Methicilin-resistance gene, so there species as a whole would be less diverse, not more diverse, and it would certainly not go towards the point of diverging into two different species. (Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staphylococcus_aureus)

Carbon-dating (and other forms of radiometric dating) rely on a number of assumptions to get to any actual results (notably- the rate of decay, the amount of isotope originally present in the sample, and that fact that there has been no contamination of the sample- these are all assumed) so if there is even a small flaw in one of these assumptions (which there could be, but not necessarily), then the dates that have been assigned to things will be way off.

However, I agree with Laurinaohtar to a large extent, evidence for or against evolution is really pretty much irrelevant to religion. It's perfectly possible to be a devoted Christian (or any other religion) and believe in evolution or whatever, because they're two completely separate fields of thought. Science and religion aren't at odds because they aren't really related to each other. Pure science doesn't attempt to overrule religion, nor does pure religion attempt to throw science out the window. Sadly, people have let their religious beliefs (whether they are theistic or atheistic) get in the way.

Just as an aside, in UK schools, evolution is taught as fact.

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