Two Dicks

April 12th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Dick No 1 is , who has joined a campaign to try and get the Pope arrested for crimes against humanity. This is just pathetic and reminds me of why I can’t stand Dawkins.

I’ve been critical of the Catholic Church hierarchy for their failure to address child abuse by priests, and their response to the criticism. But Dawkins is being an offensive dick by suggesting the Pope is somehow guilty of crimes against humanity and should be tried by the International Criminal Court.

Dawkins also makes it much harder for other critics of how the Church has acted, because his rhetoric just makes the Vatican far more defensive. He should shut the fuck up and go back to peddling books.

But the other dick is Bishop Giacomo Babini who is blaming the criticism on the Jews:

A website quoted Giacomo Babini, the emeritus bishop of Grosseto, as saying he believed a “Zionist attack” was behind the criticism, considering how “powerful and refined” the criticism is.

The comments, which have been denied by the bishop, follow a series of statements from Catholic churchmen alleging the existence of plots to weaken the church and Pope Benedict XVI.

Allegedly speaking to the Catholic website Pontifex, Babini, 81, was quoted as saying: “They do not want the church, they are its natural enemies. Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”

Extremism on both sides is unhelpful.

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263 Responses to “Two Dicks”

  1. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    “Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”

    WTF? They didnt even kill Jesus, the Romans did that.

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  2. OliverI (125 comments) says:

    David I think you have hit the nail on the head that both perspectives coming out are not really rational responses.

    I had a thought thought the other day and interested in others opinions… according to wiki (I know its only wiki) there are about 1.147 billion Catholics worldwide, in a given a timeframe of 50 years or so, wouldn’t you expect a reasonably number of these atrocious acts in any given population? Given that Catholics are part of a network of people then even if they had statistically lower offenses per head of population, they would still be grouped together as a network creating the perception of greater problems in the Catholic Church.

    So how does this X out of 1.147 billion compare with a non-catholic population?

    Anyway, it was just a thought, and in no way am I condoning covering up any of these activities either!!!

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  3. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    The Jews’ criticisms are so powerful and refined it’s not necessary to discuss them.

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  4. goonix (140 comments) says:

    Dawkins = legend.

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  5. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    That would be Retired Bishop Giacomo Babini…

    Does he still have authority to speak on behalf of the church?

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  6. kelsey (35 comments) says:

    Two points. One, he’s been misquoted:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/04/you_cant_trust_a_murdoch_paper.php

    Secondly, I don’t see how it’s extremism to want to arrest someone that has systematically protected pedophiles. Just imagine if a senior political figure in NZ had done what this pope had done. You would have consensus, regardless of affiliation, that they needed to be locked up.

    [DPF: There would be no such thing. Maybe a consensus they should lose their office but in NZ we lock up those who commit the crimes. Faiing to report a crime is not a crime]

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  7. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,790 comments) says:

    Come on, David. One alleged quote from a blog? Not veriified? Denied by the person alleged to have made it.

    Keep at it mate and you’ll have a job for life with the antique media.

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  8. James Stephenson (2,010 comments) says:

    …and here’s the opinion piece by Geoffrey Robinson

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/apr/02/pope-legal-immunity-international-law

    It’s an interesting and provocative legal experiment, but I wouldn’t call it extremism.

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  9. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    Does dick Dawkins actually know what a crime against humanity is? Or is he one of those who think that being christian is a crime against humanity and Stalin is a really sweet guy?

    Greg I saw that discussion being played out between an historian and a bishop. The bishop couldn’t seem to get his head around some basic facts, like the Jews did in fact have a death penalty and there is no way they would break the sabath to hold a trial.

    Also the entire cricifiction (a punishment way older than Rome just out of itnerest) was the Roman method of execution where the locals favored stoning. And they guys in the Roman armour were a dead giveaway too, even if most of them had been recurited in Syria… dammit those bloody Arabs AGAIN!

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  10. goonix (140 comments) says:

    “Does dick Dawkins actually know what a crime against humanity is?”

    According to Geoffrey Robinson ” the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children” now counts as a “crime against humanity” under international law.

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  11. larryq (66 comments) says:

    All dicks are not equal. Dawkins is certainly strident, but low down on the dick head scale when you compare him with what Bishop Giacomo Babini said!

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  12. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Probably best to read the story about Dawkins yourself rather than relying on DPF to summarise – it seems he has rather misrepresented the man.

    He should shut the fuck up and go back to peddling books.

    Why? Because you don’t agree with him?

    [DPF: Because his idiocy is counter productive. It lends credence to all those within the hierarchy who have been saying this is all being fostered by atheists who hate and want to destroy the choice.

    Dawkins saying the Pope should be tried for crimes against humanity is about as helpful as the President of Iran giving his views on what the border should be in Jerusalem]

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  13. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    If dick Dawkins can pull down the whale of pedophiles that is systematic in the Catholic Church.. by slaying the whale himself.. it’s fine by me. It just might get others to look closer at their religous beliefs.

    Your right Bishop Giacomo Babini is a dick he makes Bishop Tamati look like a Saint.

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  14. Kimble (4,375 comments) says:

    “wouldn’t you expect a reasonably number of these atrocious acts in any given population?”

    OliverI, the problem isnt the abuse. That will happen anyway. It is that the church KNEW, and not only did nothing, they actually ran interference for their house pedophiles! The current pope was the head honcho at the time.

    Dawkins is an annoying wanker at times, the Pope is a defender and enabler of child rapists. Dawkins wins.

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  15. Fletch (6,004 comments) says:

    the Pope is a defender and enabler of child rapists

    Kimble, it’s statements like that that really do make me wonder about people sometimes. I’m sure I’ve posted enough over the last few days to show that that isn’t true at all.

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  16. adrianb (30 comments) says:

    Idiotic post, the systematic and pervasive rape and torture of children does count as a crime against humanity. The the current Pope refused to defrock a priest who had confessed in 1978 to tying up boys and then raping them. Despite repeated pleas to Ratzinger, he remained a priest, working with children until 1987.

    This isn’t an isolated case. It is a systemic pattern of behavior. The facilitating and shielding of such torture constitutes no less a crime against humanity than the facilitating of any other organized form of torture.

    Interestingly, the TimesUK story on this had 700 comments overwhelmingly supportive of Dawkins’ position. And rightly so. The legal basis for this is substantive and strong, and the prosecution of this animal is long overdue.

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  17. Fletch (6,004 comments) says:

    Here’s what’s really going on. The Times has teamed up with Jeffrey Anderson, a radical lawyer
    who has made millions suing the Church (and greasing professional victims’ groups like SNAP),
    so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage
    and women’s ordination. That’s what’s really driving them mad, and that’s why they are on the
    hunt. Those who doubt this to be true need to ask why the debt-ridden Times does not spend
    the same resources looking for dirt in other institutions that occurred a half-century ago.

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  18. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    “Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are God killers.”

    Deep down, historically speaking, Jesus was Jewish.

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  19. A1kmm (91 comments) says:

    If Dawkin’s lawyers can get civil or criminal action brought against the pope, then that is a good thing for the victims, and he should be encouraged in his efforts.

    I think the mention of the ICC is in case the pope stands behind his role as the monarch of the Vatican, and succeeds in claiming diplomatic immunity. Heads of State can still be tried by the ICC, even if they are immune under their domestic laws (as the pope, as absolute monarch of the Vatican is).

    However, I don’t think he can be tried under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/romefra.htm).


    1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

    (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

    2. For the purpose of paragraph 1:

    (a) “Attack directed against any civilian population” means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack;

    There is certainly a ‘course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population’, but I don’t think it is Vatican policy to rape children – more like a convention of covering it up when it does happen to avoid embarrassment, rather than working to stop it.

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  20. fatman43us (166 comments) says:

    Geoffrey Robinson – and just who made him the equivalent of a Geneva Convention. Poms are systemically thick, and along with tho other trogs in Europe, deserve one another. Someone needs to take a look at the Society of 1978, which while condemning of Child Abuse also saw things such as the defrocking of priests and other punishments in rather another light – to be tried in an open court, without excessive emotional input from the unwashed.

    I cannot really say that I think that that was wrong.

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  21. Fletch (6,004 comments) says:

    Adrian, that is simply not true.
    The current Pope and his then office did not have anything to do with child abusers until 2001.

    I still think that people are confused about what he was actually writing for. There is an explanation HERE.

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  22. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    @6:02 pm

    The debt-ridden Times going after the Catholic Church.. Like cash strapped TV3 going after Destiny Church.. Because of their issues like abortion, gay marriage and women’s ordination.

    Whats it got to do with them being debt ridden Fletch.. surely they are doing it because they are Lefty media outlets just wanting to weaken the moral authority of the church.. that has no morals.

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  23. Rex Widerstrom (5,254 comments) says:

    Thanks for the link, James Stephenson. I was a little dubious when I heard Dawkins was involved (I agree with much of what he says but he loves the limelight and the notoriety of being an iconoclast a wee bit too much to be taken seriously all the time) but when I saw Geoffrey Roberston was involved I figured DPF was over-egging the pudding. And indeed it seems so.

    While Dawkins may be beating this up for a bit of publicity it is an interesting, and quite sensible, legal argument and will have far reaching precedent value.

    Worth letting run its course, I would have thought. It’s not as though the Holy See will need to rely on Legal Aid for a defence.

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  24. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Dawkins saying the Pope should be tried for crimes against humanity is about as helpful as the President of Iran giving his views on what the border should be in Jerusalem

    He isn’t really saying that.

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  25. Haiku Dave (273 comments) says:

    careful david, you’re
    enabling an enabler
    of child abuse here

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  26. Haiku Dave (273 comments) says:

    defrock most priests and
    you find a quivering child
    underneath the frock

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  27. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Dawkins is an intelligent guy and he sells is books by his totally aethiest stand point.

    But when you hear him lecture or read his books he is so absolutely convinced he is 100 per cent correct in his views its like listening to some one from Sea Shepherd or the like, there is no give , no take. I always think he sounds just a little bit scared.

    I went through the Catholic school system and never got touched apart from some wicked cannings, ergo I will not get a cent in compensation.

    The church has been complicit in its handling of the freaks but this from Dawkins is so stupid it should not have got a mention on the other had the Bishop should be retired immediately, he is very sad, the Churches own Phil Goff perhaps, but dangerous with the with it.

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  28. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    DPF isn’t “over egging” anything, Dawkins is supporting these measures, just typically ducking and weaving to avoid any real accountability.

    In fact Dawkins is behaving exactly like the worst elements of Christian leadership, I have always thought of him as the pope of non religion and he is proving to be just that.
    All he needs now is a sceptre and a silly hat

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  29. mikeysmokes (269 comments) says:

    What the? Surely Ratzinger cant be held to account for the sins of the whole Catholic church

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  30. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Dawkins statement on the news story is as follows btw:

    Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. You have to remember that The Sunday Times is a Murdoch newspaper, and that all newspapers follow the odd custom of entrusting headlines to a sub-editor, not the author of the article itself.

    What I DID say to Marc Horne when he telephoned me out of the blue, and I repeat it here, is that I am whole-heartedly behind the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s proposed visit to Britain. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horme, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341

    Here is what really happened. Christopher Hitchens first proposed the legal challenge idea to me on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5366
    The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.

    Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.

    Richard

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  31. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    What the? Surely Ratzinger cant be held to account for the sins of the whole Catholic church

    [For the sake of this subject going somewhere] why shouldn’t he, as Christ’s representative here on earth?

    Will Dawkins expect the US President to be charged for any wrong-doing of US troops in Iraq – after all he is Commander in Chief.

    And someone should give Giacomo Babini a Bible to read, so he can see Jesus carefully planned his suicide at the hands of the Romans with only collateral help from the Jews, with events fulfilling what appears to be preordained prophecies.

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  32. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Thanks CHTHONIID,

    There is a great collection of Right Wingers involved with this then, The Guardian and Christopher Hitchens,!!!!!!!!!!! who wrote a book called The Trial of Henry Kissinger,who he compared to Augusto Pinochet and Slobodan Milosevic.

    I would bet good money that the general views expressed here on this blog on most subjects would be strongly opposed by The Guardian, Dawkins and Hitchens at every turn.

    And this is typical Dawkins, getting publicity but also effectively putting the instigation of this and agitation onto others.

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  33. ross (1,454 comments) says:

    Yvette,

    That “wrong-doing” you refer to is commonly known as war crimes. Of course, US Presidents are immune from prosecution for war crimes.

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  34. kelsey (35 comments) says:

    What the? Surely Ratzinger cant be held to account for the sins of the whole Catholic church

    That’s not what he’s being held to account for. It’s the systematic protection of the child rapists, forbidding the church hierarchy from contacting secular authorities and encouraging moving the rapists to other communities. That’s what the pope did, and you’d think he should be held responsible for his actions. Why some don’t see it that way, I don’t know.

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  35. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I agree, Dawkins is a legend and easily my favourite author. I love watching him beat up angry interviewers (watch him with O’Reilly on Youtube) and hecklers in seminars. Such conciseness under pressure is rare.

    Anyway:

    [DPF: There would be no such thing. Maybe a consensus they should lose their office but in NZ we lock up those who commit the crimes. Faiing to report a crime is not a crime]

    But isn’t shielding a paedophile from prosecution and then moving him to a place that puts more kids at risk, the charge leveled against Ratzinger, not a crime in New Zealand? Is there no law against aiding and abetting something so serious?

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  36. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    There is a parallel to Magna Marta here, which is the question of whether the Pope is bound by law like everyone else. I believe he asserts diplomatic immunity as a head of state, but there is a genuine legal question as to whether the Vatican is technically a nation. If it is not, then Ratzinger is not entitled to immunity and can be prosecuted under international law, I believe.

    I think it would be very strongly preferable to have the head of such a powerful institution bound by the same laws as everyone else. Indeed the protection afforded by immunity to prosecution could be seen as contributing to this and many, many other problems created by the Catholic Church. A Pope personally bound by laws that say you cannot murder, rape, steal, or deceive, or sanction those, the same laws we live under, would encourage better behaviour.

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  37. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Fletch, I hope you’re not being deceptive like last week:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2010/04/sad_they_still_dont_get_it.html#comment-680461

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  38. YesWeDid (1,029 comments) says:

    ‘He should shut the fuck up and go back to peddling books.’

    So is the Pope above the law? Does he not have to face any justice for helping to cover up child rape?

    If you bothered to read any of his books you would find he is a lot more reasoned and balanced than the extremist view you have of him.

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  39. William Fussey (45 comments) says:

    One of the first DPF posts I’ve read that have annoyed me. Dawkins is a legend not an idiot in my opinion. All power to him.

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  40. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    …suing the Church (and greasing professional victims’ groups like SNAP),
    so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage
    and women’s ordination. That’s what’s really driving them mad,

    Sure, Fletch. Child rape and it’s systematic cover up has nothing to to with it and certainly wouldn’t weaken the Church’s moral authority.
    It’s all about gay marriage and womens ordination and abortion of course.

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  41. Gavfaemonty (61 comments) says:

    Not your best work DPF. The catholic church has been knowingly employing child rapists and facilitating child rape on a very large scale for a very long time; and the gig’s up and it’s time to pay. There’s nothing whatever ‘extreme’ about holding the rapists and their facilitators to criminal account.

    Further, Dawkins is a sideshow here and is highlighted by the press because it’s a better headline (see Chthoniid’s post above). Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens are doing work that (for some reason that escapes me) no police authority seems to want to do. The very, very best of luck to them.

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  42. Brian Smaller (3,983 comments) says:

    It seems everyone hates Da Juice.

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  43. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t mind see the same degree of questioning being directed at Islam for some of its deliberate barabaric practices, but apprently cutting girls heads off for defending themselves from rape is a culteral right that we don’t question.

    It’s much easier and more fun to go after Chrsitians isn’t it guys. they’re unlikely to have you feature in their youtube moments.

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  44. jinpy (237 comments) says:

    Failing to report a crime is not a crime? Are you sure? In some cases it must be I would have thought.

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  45. toad (3,669 comments) says:

    @jinpy

    I don’t think failing to report a crime is itself a crime under most juridictions – those where it is are likely not far removed from being police states.

    But this goes further than just failing to report crimes – it involves actively covering them up. In most jurisdictions, conspiring to pervert or defeat the course of justice is a crime, and a very serious one at that – former senior Police officer John Dewar is serving a lengthy period of imprisonment for that very crime for protecting his mates by covering up the Rotorua police rapes.

    However, it is not a crime that falls under ICC jurisdiction, so there would have to be evidence that Ratzinger had actively covered up sexual offending by priests in a particular country for him to be charged and convicted under that country’s criminal law.

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  46. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Murray [April 13th, 2010 at 8:15 am],

    I wouldn’t mind see the same degree of questioning being directed at Islam for some of its deliberate barabaric practices, but apprently cutting girls heads off for defending themselves from rape is a culteral right that we don’t question.

    But Murray, we can’t go after the ‘religion of peace’ because they’re … well … the ‘religion of peace’. And if we were to make such assertions then we may be to blame for forcing the ‘religion of peace’ to be … well … UNpeaceful – and how irresponsible would that be of us to force their hand in this regard?

    It’s people like you, Murray, who are responsible for the Islamic backlash – please cease and desist at once! ;)

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  47. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    I do not think Dawkins actually going to arrest the pope, but this whole issue needs to be seen in the wider context of the dialogue between Dawkins, Rock Star of the Atheists, and the church in general.

    Many theologians see Dawkins as the enemy, and from a position of divine moral authority hold him to be evil. The question that many agnostics and atheists ask is, from where did the church acquire such authority to have such sway over so many lives?

    The church would say that their authority comes from god, and that officers of the church carry out god’s work, and in doing so live their lives according to Christ’s teachings.

    The issue we now have is that the public face of the church seems to be at odds with it’s behaviour in how it dealt with miscreants within it’s own ranks, and that protecting the church was more important than addressing the issues raised.

    This is not unusual behavior by the church.

    Now, Dawkins is presented with a unique opportunity. There is now documentary evidence that the church, at it highest level, not only knew of the behaviour of certain priests, but actively hid such behaviour, and facilitated those involved from being held accountable by moving them to other parishes where they could repeat that most damning behavior, all while displaying the most pious behavior.

    For the record, I have nothing against God, or the concept of God. However, some of his PR department need a good seeing to.

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  48. goonix (140 comments) says:

    “defrock most priests and
    you find a quivering child
    underneath the frock”

    Brilliant.

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  49. goonix (140 comments) says:

    Great piece on the case by Hitchens here: http://www.slate.com/id/2250557/

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  50. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    Oh all the Dawkins worshippers are all up set because their messiah turns out to be a bit of a dick.
    Diddums.

    Dawkins is a very dangerous man who is fostering intellectual bigotry and creating a breeding ground of intolerance that will create many more problems than he thinks he is solving.

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  51. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    goodnix – brilliant why exactly … because you think it’s good haiku, or because you think it’s true?

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  52. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    Shunda barunda,

    If you are looking for examples of fostering intellectual bigotry and creating a breeding ground of intolerance that will create many more problems than he thinks he is solving. Then one could just as easily look to the Catholic Church. For centuries the church has held itself to be infallible in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

    For an example of this you need look no further than the treatment of Copernicus and Galilleo. The latter who was imprisoned, threatened with torture and forced to denounce his own correct observations on the motions of planets.

    The church stuck to it’s own position so rigidly on this matter it was not until 1992! that John Paul II publically apologised and admitted that Galilleo was in fact correct.

    What do you call an organisation that is so blinded by dogma and belief in it’s own infallibility that it takes 300 years to admit it’s own mistakes and apologise?

    Dawkins is right to challenge it, and the church would do well to listen.

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  53. larryq (66 comments) says:

    This is the crux of Hitchen’s article referenced above:

    “But this we can promise, now that his own signature has been found on Father Kiesle’s permission to rape: There will be only one subject of conversation until Ratzinger calls off his visit, and only one subject if he decides to try to go through with it. In either event, he will be remembered for only one thing long after he is dead”.

    Dawkins & Hitchens can be embarrassingly strident, although interestingly such certainty is expected of religious leaders. Double standard.

    The Catholic Church and the Pope are in the shit because of the way their concern for the public image of the church led them to cover up child rape. If they are still concerned about their public image they will get on and properly admit fault, without the weasel words. The fact that they haven’t is grist to the mill for Dawkins & Hitchens. Personally, I think the more they squirm the better as, in a small way, it comforts their victims.

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  54. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    A question for the people who argue that this is just a cynical and unjustified attack on the Catholic Church: What would the CC have to do before you would permit criticism of their actions?

    The higher-ups (including the now Pope) who moved these priests around, failed to out them to police and actively worked to silence the victims are really no different from a Mongrel Mob associate who keeps a watch while his mates rape a woman. The only real difference is the fancy dress and the baseless assertions of moral authority.

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  55. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “What do you call an organisation that is so blinded by dogma and belief in it’s own infallibility that it takes 300 years to admit it’s own mistakes and apologise?”

    Look, I agree that there are some massive problems here, and perhaps the Catholic church has opened the door wide to severe criticism, however that doesn’t mean Dawkins is correct in his intellectual bigotry and more than they are in theirs.
    And Dawkins makes no distinction between the Pope and other Christians(of all denominations), he heaps us all in the same basket including people like myself who make no excuses for Christian bullshit.
    Quite frankly I think history has taught us that people like him are ultimately far more destructive than even the evil they claim to be trying to cast out of society.

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  56. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    And Dawkins makes no distinction between the Pope and other Christians(of all denominations), he heaps us all in the same basket including people like myself who make no excuses for Christian bullshit.

    That is emphatically untrue. Dawkins repeatedly makes clear that he understands most religious followers are moderate. He does not lump the 9/11 terrorists in with all Muslims any more than he lumps child rapists in with all Christians. He does not think belief in god is reasonable and isn’t afraid to point out the things people believe that defy reason and the available evidence.

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  57. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Dawkins is only an intellectual bigot if you find it upsetting when someone points out that there’s no evidence for your chosen god and rather a lot of evidence that he’s just the work of man’s fevered imagination. If you can get over that, Dawkins is imminently reasonable.

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  58. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Slightlyrighty 10:24 am,

    For an example of this you need look no further than the treatment of Copernicus and Galilleo. The latter who was imprisoned, threatened with torture and forced to denounce his own correct observations on the motions of planets.

    The church stuck to it’s own position so rigidly on this matter it was not until 1992! that John Paul II publically apologised and admitted that Galilleo was in fact correct.

    What do you call an organisation that is so blinded by dogma and belief in it’s own infallibility that it takes 300 years to admit it’s own mistakes and apologise?

    While your claim is essentially correct, it is actually the office of the Pope that is said to be infallible, rather than the Roman Catholic church. But, of course, if the Pope supports the views of his underlings it does amount to the same thing – the RC church being infallible. And therefore regarded by Catholics as the one true and only church.

    And you do indeed highlight an important point:
    “What do you call an organisation that is so blinded by dogma and belief in it’s own infallibility that it takes 300 years to admit it’s own mistakes and apologise?”

    This is the problem when a man (the Pope) is regarded as God’s sole mouthpiece and intermediary, and, therefore, it is a man on the throne rather than the God he claims to worship.

    Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
    1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

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  59. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    That the Pope is supposed to be infallible is not quite correct. The Pope is only supposed to be infallible when he speaks “ex cathedra”, which Popes tend to do very seldom, and generally only on very specific moral questions.

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  60. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    @Shunda 10:42 – Completely agree with you

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  61. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “He does not think belief in god is reasonable and isn’t afraid to point out the things people believe that defy reason and the available evidence.”

    Yes, like I said he heaps us all in the same basket, actually he thinks people like me are stupider than terrorists because we don’t follow our religion well enough to be anything other than mediocre.
    He thinks all people who believe anything other than his narrow perspective are “deluded”, no wonder people think he is a wanker.
    And don’t talk to me about evidence, the “evidence” shows you can no more prove that nothing exploded than that “nothing” was God, we are in the same boat my friend.

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  62. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull 11:03 am,

    That the Pope is supposed to be infallible is not quite correct. The Pope is only supposed to be infallible when he speaks “ex cathedra”, which Popes tend to do very seldom, and generally only on very specific moral questions.

    While that may be technically correct, Ryan, the reality is that most Catholics regard everything the Pope says/presents as direct revelation from God – and therein lies the danger; the attitude that both the Pope and RC church hierarchy is not to be questioned.

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  63. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    ..most Catholics regard everything the Pope says/presents as direct revelation from God..

    I doubt that. When was the last time you saw a ‘proper’ Catholic family with 12 kids?

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  64. YesWeDid (1,029 comments) says:

    ‘Yes, like I said he heaps us all in the same basket, actually he thinks people like me are stupider than terrorists because we don’t follow our religion well enough to be anything other than mediocre.’

    The ‘problem’ Dawkins has with people who don’t follow the ‘religion well enough’ is how do you pick and choose which bits are right and which bits don’t matter? Who makes that decision? If it is the individual on what basis do you make that decision?

    Because your holy book (whatever flavour it is) is meant be to the only moral or ethical authority that you follow, the rest of us (non-believers) are amoral because we don’t have a written set of (religious) rules. If you are applying only part of ‘your’ (religious) rules then what rules are you using to select these rules??

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  65. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    @Shunda Barunda

    And don’t talk to me about evidence, the “evidence” shows you can no more prove that nothing exploded than that “nothing” was God, we are in the same boat my friend.

    Why do we always come back to this?

    If you think a singularity is nothing, you haven’t comprehended how much mass is contained in such.

    Proofs are largely the matter of mathematics, not science. In terms of actual evidence, there is quite a lot of strong evidence that the universe began as a ‘Big Bang’. These include the basically ‘flat’ structure of the Universe, the level of background radiation left over from the BB, & the Hubble constant (the speed at which galaxies are moving away from each other). Neutron stars are another prediction of the BB, as are black holes.

    I’m not entirely sure where God fits into this picture. 20bn galaxies seem to be a bit of an overkill just to ensure we have a habitable planet.

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  66. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Shunda

    Yes, like I said he heaps us all in the same basket, actually he thinks people like me are stupider than terrorists because we don’t follow our religion well enough to be anything other than mediocre.

    I doubt very much he believes that. Are you channeling Dawkins or do you have a quote?

    He thinks all people who believe anything other than his narrow perspective are “deluded”, no wonder people think he is a wanker.

    You are confusing name calling for offense, which Dawkins is not stooping to, with a technical label.

    And don’t talk to me about evidence, the “evidence” shows you can no more prove that nothing exploded than that “nothing” was God, we are in the same boat my friend.

    Well the specific case I had in mind when using the word evidence is the creationist/evolution argument. Religious followers do make claims about the natural world that can be tested. God’s existence is not among those claims, but man’s origins are, and all the available evidence is against the creationists and for evolution.

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  67. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    and all the available evidence is against the creationists and for evolution

    ben, do you really believe this? My contention is that there’s ‘evidence’ for either position, but the presupposition about the existence or otherwise of God determines which we close our eyes to.

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  68. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    KK-

    it does depend a little on the variant of Creationism you subscribe to. Neither Old-Earth or Young-Earth creationism can be supported by the evidence (geological column, fossil record, molecular biology & biogeography line up with ToE).

    Some Theistic Evolutionary models are less problematic for the evidence. But essentially, I would agree with ben. I accepted evolution when I was sitting in the Jesus-bus long ago, because that’s where the evidence lay. Religious beliefs doesn’t change evidence.

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  69. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    ben, do you really believe this?

    Yes. A serious assessment of the evidence, if you care to do it, would show the world is very old, that all life is connected and variation is well explained by evolution by natural selection. Creation explains none of the variation. I am not aware of a single piece of evidence (that withstands any kind of scrutiny) that points to divine creation, and am quite certain there is no evidence in nature pointing to a Christian god, out of all the gods invented by man, that is the one responsible.

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  70. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Ben,

    Creation explains variation. “God made life varied.” Done.

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  71. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Yes, I should have qualified my response, I suppose, but whichever form of creationism you subscribe, even the form that says God caused the big bang and then left it knowing humans would eventually arrive, there isn’t any evidence either way. For most stronger forms of creationism the evidence does refute specific claims, though.

    I’m with Bertand Russell. He was asked, I believe, if you died and went to heaven and met god, what would you ask him. His response as to the effect: “why did you make yourself so hard to find”. I think Christians have a dilemma. If God did create the world and evolution is false, why did he go to so much trouble to make it look like we had evolved? Why plant all the intermediate fossils, from Archaeopteryx to Lucy the hominid. Of all ways to arrange the DNA sequence, why do it to so strongly conform to the predictions made by evolution? Of all ways to arrange the continents, and to distribute argon and uranium in the rocks, and to set the proportions of elements in the universe, why do it in a way to make the world and universe look so very old? Why give people the intelligence to conduct science but then arrange the universe to so consistently and completely mislead well-meaning people away from god, thus condemning them to eternity in hell?

    For fundamentalists, the dilemma is that either creationism is completely wrong or their god is a psychopathic liar.

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  72. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    @ben – so are you saying that evolutionary theory is supported by some evidence, and no ‘belief’ system is needed to accept the (current) absence of the balance of this evidence? BTW I like your phrase ‘out of all the gods invented by man’ and wonder if we, though science, have set humankind up as god in order to displace previous notions.

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  73. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Ryan – yes ok. But it doesn’t explain all the evidence in the rocks and the DNA and the stars and the distribution of languages and people that that isn’t what happened. If creation is the story, God planted all that there…why? I’m assuming you don’t have theistic evolution in mind here.

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  74. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    @ben – so are you saying that evolutionary theory is supported by some evidence, and no ‘belief’ system is needed to accept the (current) absence of the balance of this evidence?

    I have read your question a number of times, I don’t quite follow it.

    BTW I like your phrase ‘out of all the gods invented by man’ and wonder if we, though science, have set humankind up as god in order to displace previous notions.

    Science as god? No. Science requires understanding and acceptance of logic and the idea of cause and effect, but it doesn’t require any view one way or the other on the existence of a supernatural being or creator. One can quite comfortably run experiments and measure chemical reactions or gravity, etc, and draw conclusions without having any view on the supernatural or how man came to be or how the physical laws came to be – interesting though those questions are (although hard).

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  75. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    We haven’t invented science to replace God. We use science as a self-correcting, investigative process to explain the phenomenon around us.

    That doesn’t presuppose the existence- nor non-existence- of a God. Nonetheless, when people purport to understand the natural world through some theistic lens, then those claims can be compared to the evidence. For an explanation of the origin and diversity of life around us, then these theistic-derived claims have been found wanting.

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  76. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Ryan – yes ok. But it doesn’t explain all the evidence in the rocks and the DNA and the stars and the distribution of languages and people that that isn’t what happened. If creation is the story, God planted all that there…why? I’m assuming you don’t have theistic evolution in mind here.

    Who knows? I’m sure he had a good reason.

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  77. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    Couple of mates of mine have higher degrees from Canterbury in Botany & Zoology, and yet they have God in their lives.

    (He’s a PhD and she’s an MSc if memory serves. So I imagine they are well read on evolutionary principles as well as detailed nature of plants & animals.)

    Wish I could get them to come on here and explain it to us once and for all… I’m bored with this endless God/no God stuff! :-D

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  78. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Who knows? I’m sure he had a good reason.

    Doesn’t it create a dilemma for you? I mean here is God apparently going out of His way to make it appear to anyone who looks as if something else happened.

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  79. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    I believe God doesn’t want us to be able to find and measure Him empirically. He wants us to have a free will, and also to have a loving relationship with us. From what I know (or think I know!) about love it’s clear to me that free will is an absolutely essential element, so scientifically proving the existence of God would kill off the notion of free will, and also kill off any prospect of a loving relationship. In other words if God let us find Him empirically, He’d be giving up what means most to Him.

    So there’s krazykiwi’s philosophical outlook on things divine :)

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  80. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    ..so scientifically proving the existence of God would kill off the notion of free will…

    You lost me at that point.

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  81. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Doesn’t it create a dilemma for you? I mean here is God apparently going out of His way to make it appear to anyone who looks as if something else happened.

    Sure. It also looks exactly how it would look if we were all in the Matrix. Why would God do that? It’s a mystery.

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  82. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    # krazykiwi (4749) Says:
    April 13th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    and all the available evidence is against the creationists and for evolution

    ben, do you really believe this? My contention is that there’s ‘evidence’ for either position, but the presupposition about the existence or otherwise of God determines which we close our eyes to.

    KK, there is no evidence for creationism or ID. There is nothing that would even withstand the smallest bit of scrutiny.

    Evolution, on the other hand however, is not only supported by evidence, and by huge amount of evidence in more than one field of science (biology, geology, chemistry, geophysics, astronomy, etc), but there is not a single piece of evidence contradicting evolution.

    Evolution may not be able to explain yet, but it explains a lot, is easily falsifiable and yet there is not a single piece of evidence that can falsify it.

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  83. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    I have read your question a number of times, I don’t quite follow it.

    I was heading towards the question of whether one or both of evolutionism and creationism require a belief system. The former that missing bits of evidence will eventually some to light, and the latter that God sorted everything.

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  84. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    What are the crucial missing bits of evidence KK?

    ToE proposes a genetic mechanism of inheritance (check), variation in populations (check), selection (check) and time (check).

    We can make prediction about the order and appearance of fossils in the geological column. We have over 200,000 described fossil species with many transitions mapped out. We can now look so closely at the genome, that changes to individual genes can be mapped out and measured.

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  85. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    krazykiwi

    I believe God doesn’t want us to be able to find and measure Him empirically.

    That isn’t what I’m saying. I am not asking why God doesn’t let us detect Him. I am asking why, if creation is in fact true, He decided to plant so much confounding evidence. Very different point from the one you think I’m saying.

    I think proof of God’s existence would neither destroy free will or do anything but enhance people’s relationship. I could be completely wrong, but wouldn’t the elimination of all doubt, for both believers and non-believers, bring people closer to God? And why would more certainty about God’s existence prevent me turning left at the next corner rather than right? Or do good rather than bad? i don’t quite follow the thinking there.

    I think I understand your last point, about giving up what means the most to Him. Which raises another long term question I have always had about religion. Of all ways to get to heaven, why is it belief that matters most to God?

    I think the answer is this: because, in short, belief is what puts bums on seats in churches, and because it is not God who wrote and promulgates the ideas in the bible, but church leaders, and their main interest is in the growth of their religion. Belief, above all else, achieves that growth. Out of all the religions ever invented, and there have been very many, today’s religions are dominant precisely because their early leaders stumbled upon the formula that best promulgates their ideas. That is in part why belief matters to dominant religions.

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  86. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    ..so scientifically proving the existence of God would kill off the notion of free will…

    You lost me at that point.

    God wants us to choose to love Him. How much free will would we have if His existence (and that of Hell) had been proven? I’d suggest very little.

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  87. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Not sure I follow that either. If God’s existence was proven, we could still decide whether or not we wanted to love him. Anyway, an all-knowing God would be able to tell the true believers from those who were just pretending because of their fear of hell.

    It seems a very convoluted explanation for the absence of evidence of God. A simpler solution would be that he doesn’t exist. Which is same conclusion you’ve come to for all the other Gods for which there is no evidence.

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  88. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    God wants us to choose to love Him. How much free will would we have if His existence (and that of Hell) had been proven? I’d suggest very little.

    My existence is pretty assured. Does that mean you can’t choose to love me?

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  89. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Re: Evolution/Creation – Goldilocks Conditions.

    I’m just reading ‘The Divinity Code’ by Ian Wishart – his counter to Dawkin’s ‘The God Delusion’.

    He is putting forward the scientifically held view regarding earth being subject to ‘Goldilocks Condition’; where the earth has ‘just right’ conditions for life to exist. And these Goldilocks Conditions exist in a very narrow band.

    Just a couple of examples (apparently there are a hundred or so) are 1) The earth being just the right distance from the sun to have liquid water, and 2) The earth having such a large moon by mass proportion to create ‘just right’ tides; ocean currents; weather patterns; and maintaining earth at a 23.5 degrees inclination to give perfect summer/winter seasons, etc.

    Many scientists, apparently, say that these Goldilocks Conditions give the appearance of deliberate intent; of a ‘designer’.

    Very thought provoking – something I may go into more detail on later subsequent to further research.

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  90. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    @ben 12:53 – It’s an interesting debate. I appreciate your views, and the considered way you’re engaging. While we may disagree on a bunch of things, I’m with you on the subject of organised religion, bums on seats etc. There’s been a lot done ‘in the name of God’ that been little more than self-promotion of church leaders – and it’s been happening right down the ages. I’m not sure all church leaders want to see growth of their religion for selfish reasons though. Most I know have a genuine desire to help people to live stronger, healthier lives. Some people regard a faith as offering that, others quite the opposite. The power of free will at work!

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  91. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “KK, there is no evidence for creationism or ID. There is nothing that would even withstand the smallest bit of scrutiny.”

    No, there is no evidence for certain types of creationism, you (and others) are constantly deferring to a small but very vocal group of creationists that do NOT represent the majority.

    There are other respected scientists like Hugh Ross that have some much better interpretations that fit the evidence.

    There is more evidence for the potential existence of a God than ever before, this tired old fashioned argument against Christianity relies solely on outdated creation ideas that a minority of Christians hold.

    It is intellectually dishonest of Dawkins and co to call ALL those of faith “deluded” and this is the point that irritates me more than anything, especially when our own children’s commissioner starts quoting him.

    I really am not trying to convince anyone of anything other than the approach Dawkins is taking is wrong and potentially very damaging.
    If people want to believe in an alternate faith regarding the cause of the big bang then that’s ok with me.

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  92. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    God wants us to choose to love Him. How much free will would we have if His existence (and that of Hell) had been proven? I’d suggest very little.

    Well there’s two things here. One is knowing He exists. The second is deciding to love Him. Isn’t our choice to love God still a choice even if the first part of the problem is solved?

    But let’s say you are right and in fact God proving his existence does destroy this choice. Is this a bad thing? Is it bad that we all go to heaven?

    I think you are saying that the choice to love him is a test, and without that choice there is no test. Am I right in saying that? But God could, presumably, have chosen a different test for us. Like being good people and helping the poor or making the most of our ability or working hard. There are all kinds of tests.

    But it seems to me manifestly unfair to leave one’s existence in question, as a result let most of the human race sincerely but incorrectly worship the wrong god, and then condemn all of them to eternity in hell! And set up the test knowing in advance that this is exactly what would happen!!

    As you can see I have a lot of trouble with the Christian belief system and the problems implied by omnipotence and omniscience. Appreciate having the discussion with you!

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  93. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull 12:57 pm,

    Does that mean you can’t choose to love me?

    I love you, Ryan. ;)

    (But you didn’t send me flowers on Valentines Day, hic, hic)

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  94. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I’m not sure all church leaders want to see growth of their religion for selfish reasons though. Most I know have a genuine desire to help people to live stronger, healthier lives. Some people regard a faith as offering that, others quite the opposite. The power of free will at work!

    Yep, agree completely.

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  95. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    In actual fact Kris, we live on a planet that is hostile to life. There have been 5 major extinction events that have come close to wiping out all life on this planet. The Permian extinction managed the rare feat of wiping out all trilobites (20,000 known fossil species). Invertebrates are pretty hard to wipe out at that level. There have been 4 other extinction events that have also devastated much of the life.

    We’re bathed in deadly UV radiation. A tectonically active crust is not benign for life. Volcanoes are quite destructive. So are ice-ages.

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  96. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    @Kris 1:02 – Not sure I buy the ‘environment is just right’ line. I’m always intrigued when astronomers discover places where conditions are similar to earth and get all excited that ‘there may be evidence of life!!’. That’s taking our current definition of ‘life’ and assuming it’s the only one that is cosmically viable.

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  97. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Kris K, that argument involves a couple of incorrect leaps of logic

    The first is that even if the conditions on Earth are extraordinarily unlikely, it does not follow from the existence of those conditions that a supernatural being, letalone the Christian God, is responsible.

    The second is the weak anthropic principle. Given we have woken up and found ourselves on a life sustaining planet, it must be true that the conditions for life, however unlikely, have been satisfied here. Given we find ourselves here, the fact that there are many many many more places in the universe we could not survive is irrelevant. Had those conditions not been satisfied here, we would not be alive to see it. Our existence being conditional on life sustaining conditions eliminates the likelihood of those conditions as a test of anything.

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  98. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Of all ways to get to heaven, why is it belief that matters most to God?”

    Yes ben!! excellent question! you have come across one of the most important aspects of Christianity that is even poorly understood by many Christians.
    In short it is not “belief” but faith that is required.
    Belief is an intellectual assessment, something that originates in the limited consciousness of human beings, faith is entirely different. Faith has the potential to be supernatural and beyond the limits of our consciousness, ie ,when you have it you can not completely comprehend it! it is the very thing that caused our existence, it is the most powerful force in the universe.

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  99. goonix (140 comments) says:

    “Goldilocks Conditions give the appearance of deliberate intent; of a ‘designer’.”

    Out of the likely billions of planets out there I don’t think it is that much of a coincidence that life began on one (if not many more). Hardly a compelling case for creationism.

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  100. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “In actual fact Kris, we live on a planet that is hostile to life. There have been 5 major extinction events that have come close to wiping out all life on this planet. ”

    So Chthoniid, you agree with the bible that creation is in bondage to decay?

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  101. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    @Shunda barunda

    I’m sorry, I have no idea what you mean?

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  102. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Hardly a compelling case for creationism.”

    Hardly a compelling case against it either, you are in effect saying “unless this God explains to me exactly how and why he did it the way it is, I will not believe”

    If there is a God, that position is illogical and incredibly presumptuous.

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  103. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Chthoniid 1:14 pm,

    In actual fact Kris, we live on a planet that is hostile to life.

    Perhaps so, but we are here nonetheless with a breathable atmosphere and (liquid) water galor – unlike anywhere else that we are aware of in the entire universe. So certainly not as hostile as ALL planets we are aware of to date.

    And while I agree that conditions are not perfect today and throughout much of earth’s history, I posit this is likely the result of the biblical fall and the associated corruption of the creation. This is one possible ‘answer’ to your “hostile” earth.

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  104. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “I’m sorry, I have no idea what you mean?”

    The bible makes it quite clear that creation is in bondage to decay until the end of the age, your evidence could also be seen as evidence for this position.

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  105. goonix (140 comments) says:

    “Hardly a compelling case against it either, you are in effect saying “unless this God explains to me exactly how and why he did it the way it is, I will not believe””

    The burden of proof lies on those attempting to ‘prove’ there is a flying spaghetti monster/unicorn/god/tooth fairy/etc. Someone above attempted to use the ‘Goldilocks Conditions’ as evidence of creationism. I am glad that you agree with me that this is entirely inadequate ‘evidence’.

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  106. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    No, it’s not illogical.

    If you are going to site a planet so that it is just perfect for life, then organising the trajectory of large space rocks to periodically smash into said planet to wipe out a lot of life, is an appalling design feature.

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  107. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    krazykiwi 1:17 pm,

    @Kris 1:02 – Not sure I buy the ‘environment is just right’ line. I’m always intrigued when astronomers discover places where conditions are similar to earth and get all excited that ‘there may be evidence of life!!’. That’s taking our current definition of ‘life’ and assuming it’s the only one that is cosmically viable.

    I guess I’m just trying to highlight that we are yet to discover ‘just right’ conditions anywhere else other than earth. For example; a breathable (oxygen rich) atmosphere and large quantities of liquid water. So we struggle to find these ‘essentials’, let alone actual life outside of earth.

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  108. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    The bible makes it quite clear that creation is in bondage to decay until the end of the age, your evidence could also be seen as evidence for this position.

    Decay from what to where?

    I can’t see that you are making any sense.

    The extinction of the trilobites later facilitated the proliferation of modern crustacea. Is that decay?

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  109. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “I’m just reading ‘The Divinity Code’ by Ian Wishart – his counter to Dawkin’s ‘The God Delusion’.”

    Glad to hear it Kris K, I would encourage you to look further into some of those concepts as an alternative to young earth creation.
    Here is a you tube series that I found fascinating, I will link to part one but some of the really good stuff is in some of the other parts.

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  110. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    @Kris K

    life doesn’t need oxygen. There are many micro-organisms that survive in ocean vents or deep in the crust on other chemical reactions.

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  111. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I am intrigued as to why the faithful are willing to even enter conversations about implied confirmation of God’s existence in the wonders of nature. Isn’t this sort of conversation incompatible with faith? If faith is important, why are the wonders of nature of any interest? Come to think of it, why is the performing of miracles of any interest? Why is proof necessary for those with faith?

    There is much about this that intrigues me.

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  112. goonix (140 comments) says:

    “Why is proof necessary for those with faith?”

    It’s clearly not. :D

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  113. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    Kris K, can any ‘Goldilocks Conditions’ be compatible with a six day creation, so is it worth further consideration?

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  114. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “If you are going to site a planet so that it is just perfect for life, then organising the trajectory of large space rocks to periodically smash into said planet to wipe out a lot of life, is an appalling design feature.”

    Why? I don’t particularly value bacteria or trilobites why do you suppose a God has to?

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  115. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Kris – What I’m saying is that while our current definition of life appears to require oxygen and water (and/or whatever) there’s no certainty that these conditions are essential to other life forms if indeed that do exist. Even the notion of oxygen being essential within our current understanding was challenged recently – something to do with critters thriving in nil-oxygen ocean-bed volcanic vents.

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  116. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    ben 1:19 pm,

    Kris K, that argument involves a couple of incorrect leaps of logic

    The first is that even if the conditions on Earth are extraordinarily unlikely, it does not follow from the existence of those conditions that a supernatural being, letalone the Christian God, is responsible.

    But it DOES raise the question as to WHY conditions on earth seem to be so unique as to be nigh on impossible to have occurred ‘by chance’, and that many scientists state that it’s almost as though there was deliberate intent behind what we observe to be conditions essential for life on earth.

    And I believe it is, in fact, quite logical to come to the conclusion that where there appears to be ‘deliberate intent’, there is the high likelihood that an intelligent designer is behind it.

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  117. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “life doesn’t need oxygen. There are many micro-organisms that survive in ocean vents or deep in the crust on other chemical reactions.”

    Could these lower forms of life facilitate the development of an atmosphere that could support higher forms of life?

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  118. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I guess I’m just trying to highlight that we are yet to discover ‘just right’ conditions anywhere else other than earth. For example; a breathable (oxygen rich) atmosphere and large quantities of liquid water. So we struggle to find these ‘essentials’, let alone actual life outside of earth.

    Well there’s a couple of good reasons for that. The first is that other planets are unbelievably far away and detecting them is only just within reach of current technology. Working out the composition of these planets is, I believe, just starting to come within reach of physicists.

    The second is that these planets may turn out to be rare, which as explained proves nothing.

    Life need not even be carbon based. Silicon-based life appears to be a viable alternative, and there may be others. The universe might be teeming with life we can hardly conceive.

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  119. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Most I know have a genuine desire to help people to live stronger, healthier lives.

    My impression is that the higher up the pedestals they get the more removed from this they tend to get, they seem too caught up in their own world of self importance.

    I’d also like to note that belief in a god is not essential to have a genuine desire to help.

    “Goldilocks Conditions give the appearance of deliberate intent; of a ‘designer’.”

    So why would many billions of solar systems be deliberately designed to not sustain life?

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  120. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    ““Why is proof necessary for those with faith?”

    It’s clearly not. :D

    You see this is why this doesn’t work. People claim to want to understand why Christians object to being called delusional and when an explanation is started they giggle like school girls and whisper to each other “he believes in God!, he he he he!!”
    :roll:

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  121. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Kris @1:47, I explain why that is not a logical conclusion in the second part of my earlier post you didn’t quote. Given we are here to observe the universe, the conditions for life must have been satisfied; their alleged low likelihood can prove nothing in this instance.

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  122. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Shunda, I’m not giggling at all, nor am I calling anyone delusional. Isn’t faith by definition something that exists without any test? Is the performance of a miracle, or the wonders of nature, not for the Christian in some sense a test or confirmation of god’s existence? Faith and confirmation seems incompatible to me, as an outsider.

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  123. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    Yippee!!!!

    This debate is EXACTLY why Dawkins should directly challenge the assumed divine authority of the church.

    When the findings of science directly contrast the edicts of church on certain matters, those who are blindly bound by church teachings will fall to the default position of the church, for example, “Evolution must be a lie because I believe in the bible, and the bible says something different”.

    The church has built a house of cards based on the belief that the church, as a vehicle for the teachings of god, christ and the holy spirit, can do no wrong. This is a dangerous belief as evidenced by the carnage that occurs when 2 religions that are quite similar, but different enough to matter, find themselves in conflict.

    Dawkins now has a documented example of a church that has clergy who have done diabolical wrongs, and compounded that with a cover up that goes to the absolute highest authority of that church.

    The church is not absolute right, and should be challenged. A bit of humility would go a long way. I actually believe the church to be a fundamentally good organisation, but the church believes that it is so good, it cannot do wrong, where in this case it clearly has.

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  124. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Shunda barunda 1:42 pm,

    Glad to hear it Kris K, I would encourage you to look further into some of those concepts as an alternative to young earth creation.

    Thanks for the link Shunda, I’m always open to the science – I believe it supports and lines up with God’s word.

    Chthoniid 1:42 pm,

    @Kris K
    life doesn’t need oxygen. There are many micro-organisms that survive in ocean vents or deep in the crust on other chemical reactions.

    Indeed, I was aware of that.
    But have we found these microbes on other planets?
    And I suppose we would need to find “oceans” on other planets before we find “ocean vents” and therefore microbes in those conditions. Those that rely on other chemical reactions ‘may’ exist, but we need to find evidence to support their existence.

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  125. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    If a National Geographic documentary is anywhere near correct, a major factor in the exact contents of the earth’s atmosphere is that plankton in untold millions die and fossilise in sea bed sediments that are carried by tectonic plates to the point where CO2 is released from these deposits by volcanic action into the air. It is hard to conceive that such a chain of actions like this can happen by chance as a Goldilocks Condition when the volumes of it and its duration are considered, so it rates with debris orbiting around the earth coalescing into a moon of the right volume and gravitational pull to enact the tides as they are. These would seem to be “first roll of the dice is trumps” events – the moon didn’t form, disintegrate and reform until it was right. Or will it do it again?

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  126. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Shunda, I’m not giggling at all, nor am I calling anyone delusional. Isn’t faith by definition something that exists without any test? Is the performance of a miracle, or the wonders of nature, not for the Christian in some sense a test or confirmation of god’s existence? Faith and confirmation seems incompatible to me, as an outsider.”

    Yes Ben I can accept that, but I could equally argue that the “wonders of nature” are just random nothingness so why should anyone give a crap? the fact is we do because this earth we live on is of tremendous beauty to most people, why is that? do you suppose a dog can appreciate a magnificent sunset?

    Personally my irritation is not in trying to convince people to believe what I believe, just trying to combat the proposition that I am deluded because I won’t submit to Dawkins assessment of the universe and all that is in it.

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  127. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    That’s irrelevant Kris. Simply put, we live on a dangerous planet & the preconditions for life aren’t as narrowly defined as you employ. The absence of evidence of life in solar systems we cannot detect, isn’t the same as the evidence of absence.

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  128. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Chthoniid 1:34 pm,

    No, it’s not illogical.

    If you are going to site a planet so that it is just perfect for life, then organising the trajectory of large space rocks to periodically smash into said planet to wipe out a lot of life, is an appalling design feature.

    It’s only “an appalling design feature” if it was part of the original design.
    I think Shunda and I have both suggested that the ‘fall’ of the creation could account for subsequent and ‘apparent’ so called ‘design flaws’. That is, the corruption of the creation through the ‘fall’ resulted in – meteor strikes, ice ages, diseases, and all manner of life threatening conditions/outcomes. These so called flaws were not part of the original ‘design’ perhaps.

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  129. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “If a National Geographic documentary is anywhere near correct, a major factor in the exact contents of the earth’s atmosphere is that plankton in untold millions die and fossilise in sea bed sediments that are carried by tectonic plates to the point where CO2 is released from these deposits by volcanic action into the air.”

    So we have direct evidence that life starting as lower forms and then progressing could have been done by a designer as part of the maturing of the planet for higher life.
    In other words lower forms of life at the beginning of the geologic column does NOT have to be interpreted as the beginning of evolution but could simply be seen as the beginning of life on this planet, it COULD be seen as the start of a progression of creative acts.
    Punctuated equilibria anyone?

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  130. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    (But you didn’t send me flowers on Valentines Day, hic, hic)

    Yes, Kris, but it’s my birthday today, and you didn’t send me a present, so we’re even :)

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  131. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    The Goldilocks argument as proof for a designer is silly.
    There are literally billions and billions of stars, presumably billions of planets circling them.

    That life developed on the planet that happened to be in the right position with the right condition is no surprise.

    If we were the only planet in the universe revolving around the only sun in the universe you would have a point.
    As we are certainly not, the Goldilocks argument doesn’t hold at all. It’s plain silly.

    To put it the other way around, why did God bother to create all this lifeless Universe, create all these billions and billions of suns and planets that cannot sustain life. What purpose do the other planets in our system do, other than circle the sun. Mars may have had life, but the rest?

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  132. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    the fact is we do because this earth we live on is of tremendous beauty to most people, why is that?

    We have evolved a preference for certain colours- an indicative assessments of the forage value of the food our ancestors depended on. We feel comfortable in parks & the like, as they resemble the African savannah environments our hominid ancestors evolved in- and what we are adapted to. Africa gets some pretty amazing sunrises also.

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  133. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “That’s irrelevant Kris. Simply put, we live on a dangerous planet & the preconditions for life aren’t as narrowly defined as you employ.”

    No Chthoniid, I think it is that we live in a universe where adversity creates tremendous beauty and strength. It is the resistance of tectonic forces that create mountains, adversity creates stronger people, trees, fish, it is all part of the plan as far as I can see.
    When these forces are overdone, sure, destruction happens, but for the vast majority of the time it seems like a creative force to me.

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  134. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Yvette 1:44 pm,

    Kris K, can any ‘Goldilocks Conditions’ be compatible with a six day creation, so is it worth further consideration?

    Yes, I believe the six day young earth creation to be compatible (so far) – but am always willing to consider the evidence.
    And I believe faith, God’s word and science exist in perfect harmony to present a complete library of ‘evidence’.

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  135. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    ” so it rates with debris orbiting around the earth coalescing into a moon of the right volume and gravitational pull to enact the tides as they are.”

    The most accepted theory is a collision with a protoplanet resulting in the moon forming AFAIK.

    Whether the large tides caused by the moon (because our moon is so very large relative to earth compared with others) played a pivotal role in the evolution of land-based life has always interested me.

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  136. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    ” the preconditions for life aren’t as narrowly defined as you employ. ”

    And in fact pretty much everywhere we have looked on earth in every condition, from acidic to anaerobic environments, we have found life.

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  137. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “We have evolved a preference for certain colours- an indicative assessments of the forage value of the food our ancestors depended on.”

    And that requires faith to believe, I have a range of emotions at a beautiful sunset or scenery, hunger is not one of them.
    Do packs of wolves run for the horizon at a blood red sky? I don’t think it has anything to do with food, more likely intelligence.

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  138. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “And in fact pretty much everywhere we have looked on earth in every condition, from acidic to anaerobic environments, we have found life.”

    Yet we still have no idea of where or how it originated.
    Quite a large elephant really.

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  139. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Shrug, I never said that you should feel hungry. Just that we have certain colour preferences. Certain shapes and colours can evoke pleasant biochemical reactions.

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  140. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    Isn’t the crux of the matter, Kris K, that you believe in the Bible as the literal word of God so the account in Genesis, which says that all creation occurred in six days is correct and then counting down various generations of Biblical characters gives a timeline of about four thousand years from the creation until now, leaving no room for evolution or earth forming processing that took millions of years.

    The trouble of moving from this position [like accepting that the report that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness tempted by the Devil is an echo of Moses and his people spending 40 years wandering, and so Jesus may actually have not spent exactly 40 days in temptation but it is expressed that way] opens all of the Bible up to interpretation.

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  141. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Kris K

    I think Shunda and I have both suggested that the ‘fall’ of the creation could account for subsequent and ‘apparent’ so called ‘design flaws’…meteor strikes, ice ages, diseases, and all manner of life threatening conditions/outcomes.

    Out of interest, when do you believe the fall occurred? Was it Adam and Eve roughly 6000 years ago?

    Or was it was before that, presumably before humans arrived in the universe, and if so what was the ‘fall’? Ice ages and meteors are very old things and predate humans, if you believe the science. A fall 6000 years ago seems incompatible with 100,000 year old ice ages and 65 million year asteroids.

    A fall 100 million or a billion years ago seems incompatible with the existence of humans, free will, etc.

    What do you believe?

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  142. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Yet we still have no idea of where or how it originated.
    Quite a large elephant really.

    We used to not know where or how lightning originated, so we thought God or a god did it. We used to not know where or how planetary bodies moved, so we thought they were gods. We used to not know how where fire came from, where mountains came from, where dreams came from.

    We’ve got a long history of discovering better explanations than “it’s supernatural”, and any idea of God that relies on filling in gaps that science hasn’t filled yet is desperate at best and doomed at worst.

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  143. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Yet we still have no idea of where or how it originated.

    Again, incorrect. There are at least two very good ideas of how it originated that have both experimental & theoretical support. Both are based around ocean vents & the ready availability of chemicals to support sustained biochemical reactions.

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  144. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “A fall 100 million or a billion years ago seems incompatible with the existence of humans, free will, etc.

    What do you believe?”

    Which being was the first to fall ben? are you sure it was a human being?

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  145. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Chthoniid at 12:52 – What are the crucial missing bits of evidence KK?

    I want to push that one back at you. Are you saying that, to your satisfaction there is a full empirical, evidential audit trail describing how humans started life as a single-celled organism and evolved to modern man? Or are there some gaps in that audit trail that require you and I to believe (or ‘have faith’) that empirical evidence will be found sometime in the future?

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  146. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    “if you believe the science. ”

    I dont think they do. That’s really the point.

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  147. KiwiGreg (3,169 comments) says:

    “Which being was the first to fall ben? are you sure it was a human being?”

    Ohh ohh I know this one!! Was it Lucifer? The morningstar?

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  148. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    krazykiwi 1:46 pm,

    Kris – What I’m saying is that while our current definition of life appears to require oxygen and water (and/or whatever) there’s no certainty that these conditions are essential to other life forms if indeed that do exist. Even the notion of oxygen being essential within our current understanding was challenged recently – something to do with critters thriving in nil-oxygen ocean-bed volcanic vents.

    That fact that, as far as we’re aware, the only life which doesn’t need oxygen consists of microbal life may be a limiting factor regarding larger than microbal life actually existing that doesn’t require oxygen. The fact that this is the case on earth implies the same elsewhere – apart from microbes larger lifeforms require oxygen. And we are assuming microbes with this makeup actually exist elsewhere.

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  149. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Yet we still have no idea of where or how it originated.
    Quite a large elephant really.

    See, Shunda, it does not follow from our current inability to understand origins that there is God. This is the God of the gaps argument, and the problem with it is that the gaps are getting smaller every day as science figures out more and more things. Why should the current and probably temporary inability of people in white coats, having discovered so much else about the universe, to figure out once and for all exactly how life got started on Earth 2.5 billion years ago be a reason for God?

    Put it another way, had we been having this conversation 100 years ago: why is our current lack of understanding of the means by which characteristics are inherited between parent and child of any plant or animal evidence in favour of God? Why should arguments for God’s existence depend on the success of people in white coats in solving nature’s problems? I really do not see the elephant here.

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  150. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Both are based around ocean vents & the ready availability of chemicals to support sustained biochemical reactions.”

    So why is Dawkins and others talking of an extraterrestrial source? you know as well as I do that the planet is woefully young for life to have originated here.

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  151. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Shunda

    Which being was the first to fall ben? are you sure it was a human being?

    It’s a genuine question. I don’t believe in any kind of fall. I’m genuinely asking for your view on the order and timing of events. I’m interested.

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  152. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    So, Kris, I’d come back to the Flood which you before have said occurred about 1500 years before the birth of Christ, so where do the Egyptian dynasties fit in : Narmer 1st dynasty 3100 BC down to the Last Great Pharaoh, Ramesses III 1187-1156 BC ? Or the Chinese Xia Dynasty from 2033 BC? Or the Ravi phase of the Indus Valley from 3300 BC? All of these are continuous civilisations which could in Biblical terms only have existed after the human race was reduced to Noah and his family but their recorded histories do not fit into the 1500 year time span you give them.

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  153. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “See, Shunda, it does not follow from our current inability to understand origins that there is God.”

    I AM NOT SAYING IT DOES!
    Perhaps until we all know you could hold off on defending a man who uses words like “delusional” to describe his opponents, that is my issue.
    And in any case life is only one aspect, because we cannot know what is on the other side of the big bang through the scientific method, the word “delusion” should be permanently off the table.
    Dawkins has a chip on his shoulder, do you?

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  154. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    @krazykiwi

    It’s a fair question, but please note, we have learned a lot in the last 10-20 years about human evolution via molecular markers.

    By way of a quick trip-
    The Vitamin C pseudogene takes us back 5-6m years to a common ape ancestor with chimps.
    ERVs get us further back to other common mammalian ancestors.
    The even older Pax6 gene takes us back to a common ‘animal kingdom’ ancestor. This ancient gene responsible for the development of eyes both vertebrate and invertebrate animals.
    And the far older intrans regions take us all the way back to single-celled organisms.

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  155. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Shunda

    So why is Dawkins and others talking of an extraterrestrial source?

    Dawkins does not believe this is a plausible explanation, he acknowledges it is possible. He uses the example in the film Expelled to show that even if an advanced alien species designed life and seeded earth, you just shift the question of origins of life to a different planet. Intelligent design as an explanation for life solves nothing – it trivially shifts the question to the origin of the designer. That is the point of Dawkins’ example.

    If you listen to what Dawkins says it is perfectly clear why he uses the example, but he doesn’t think it’s a good explanation for what actually happened. There is a big difference between what’s possible and what’s likely. Of course Ben Stein, and now you, have incorrectly interpreted what he said.

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  156. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “It’s a genuine question. I don’t believe in any kind of fall. I’m genuinely asking for your view on the order and timing of events. I’m interested”

    I believe the world is as old as modern geology tells us it is, as far as the Christian doctrine of sin goes the first being to “sin” was said to be lucifer which was some sort of angelic being, this appears to have happened long before humans entered the scene. The angle I was taking is the effect of this being having been “cast down to the earth” could have had a detrimental effect on life on this planet, the things mentioned earlier by Chthoniid have a biblical explanation.

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  157. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Ben 1:48 pm,

    The second is that these planets may turn out to be rare, which as explained proves nothing.

    Life need not even be carbon based. Silicon-based life appears to be a viable alternative, and there may be others. The universe might be teeming with life we can hardly conceive

    The universe MAY be teeming with life – but to date we have no evidence to support that assertion.

    And “these planets may turn out to be rare”, so rare in fact that imagine if earth was the ONLY planet in the entire universe which had both the ‘just right’ conditions for life, and life itself.

    Eszett 2:14 pm,

    That life developed on the planet that happened to be in the right position with the right condition is no surprise.

    I’m continually surprised.

    If we were the only planet in the universe revolving around the only sun in the universe you would have a point.
    As we are certainly not, the Goldilocks argument doesn’t hold at all. It’s plain silly.

    Why? It points to the unique conditions on earth.

    To put it the other way around, why did God bother to create all this lifeless Universe, create all these billions and billions of suns and planets that cannot sustain life. What purpose do the other planets in our system do, other than circle the sun. Mars may have had life, but the rest?

    And that, Eszett, is the right question (shades of ‘I Robot’).

    Perhaps it is to show how unique and therefore just how special God regards Mankind.
    Imagine if earth was the ONLY planet able to support human (and other) life, and Mankind was the only creature created in God’s image – both of those ‘facts’ would point to just how important God regards the creature; that’s us.

    And I believe both of those claims to be true – can’t ‘prove’ it, but there it as for what it’s worth.

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  158. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    So why is Dawkins and others talking of an extraterrestrial source? you know as well as I do that the planet is woefully young for life to have originated here.

    I’m not familiar with Dawkins ever suggesting an extra-terrestrial source. I know Hoyle has, but he’s not a biologist. In terms of currently published research, it’s pretty much all going the ocean vent side of things. It has been for several years, especially as the older ideas of Miller et al have not stood up to testing.

    As to the woefully young argument, I most certainly do not agree. I think 1 or 2 billion years and a test-tube the size of a planet, provide a very plausible time-horizon to get life started.

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  159. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    I gotta get some work done!

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  160. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Life is self-replicating patterns of matter.

    Billions of patterns of matter are forming and dissolving every second throughout all of the universe.

    It seems to me inevitable that some will stick.

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  161. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Shunda, every human brain is capable of and will experience delusions, although I accept that is different to calling someone with an opposing view delusional.

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  162. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “As to the woefully young argument, I most certainly do not agree. I think 1 or 2 billion years and a test-tube the size of a planet, provide a very plausible time-horizon to get life started.”

    It was my understanding that statistically it was seen to be so improbable in the time available as to be impossible, is that not correct?

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  163. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    @Chthoniid – yeah the genetic marker thing is interesting. I’m not a molecular guy (IT’s my thing!) but have heard ID proponents cite the existence of common genes being evidence of God building creatures using the same components, much like car manufacturers design one bit and use it across many models over time. If I were God I’d do this. Hey come to think of it, I do this with software code almost every day!

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  164. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull 2:13 pm,

    Yes, Kris, but it’s my birthday today, and you didn’t send me a present, so we’re even

    Happy birthday, Ryan, and here’s a big sloppy kiss (xxx … xxx) in lieu of a present.

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  165. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Shunda, every human brain is capable of and will experience delusions, although I accept that is different to calling someone with an opposing view delusional.”

    Thank you! now if you can only convince Dawkins………….

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  166. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    ben 2:31 pm,

    Out of interest, when do you believe the fall occurred? Was it Adam and Eve roughly 6000 years ago?

    I’d rather not confuse the origins debate with my young earth creation views, if that’s ok?

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  167. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Happy birthday, Ryan, and here’s a big sloppy kiss (xxx … xxx) in lieu of a present.

    Oh, Kris, it’s everything I could have hoped for.

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  168. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    Kris, may I please draw your attention to my question 2.44pm relating to a time span much closer to the present.
    You place the Flood 1500 years before Christ, so how do the Indus Valley and Egyptian dynasties, both spanning at least 3000 years, fit into that interval between Noah and Christ?

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  169. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    It was my understanding that statistically it was seen to be so improbable in the time available as to be impossible, is that not correct?

    No, that’s not correct. I’m assuming you are referencing Behe.

    To start with, we haven’t measured the starting conditions (temperature, chemical composition, concentration of chemicals). You can’t estimate the probability without knowledge of these. Then you have to know something about the probability distribution. You can’t use an IID distribution because chemical bonding doesn’t work that way. It’s like estimating the probability of forming 260m tonnes of salt each year by pretending Na and Cl atoms combine randomly in an IID fashion to form a lattice. They don’t. And you can’t use an IID because selection is going to act as a filter to some combinations and build on previous successes. So are you going to use some kind of random walk? Is the optimisation landscape static or dynamic? If you opt to use say, a non-Normal distribution then what is that, and how is the variance going to work?

    Then you have know how many trials you are going to run.

    Of course, what happens is that none of this is actually possible to estimate in any meaningful way. So if someone does come up with these numbers, they’re basically being a dogma-whores & intellectually dishonest.

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  170. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Kris, it should not be surprising that you are living a planet set to the conditions required to support life. If it were any other way you would not be here to see it – and if you were, then by all means be surprised!

    It is not clear that conditions on earth are especially unusual. Further, your question’s framing artificially limits scope. Once all the possible forms of life are considered , the likelihood may be rather better.

    Think of all the planets you did not wake up on. There are trillions of them. Imagine Earth is the only one out of of all of them that can support life. Given you are alive, it is CERTAIN you are living on Earth. You were not alive to see all the times you were not born. The low likelihood of these conditions, even if they are indeed unlikely, cannot tell you anything. And, even if it could, it does not follow that a designer is responsible. And even if it was a designer, the question of origins is merely shifted over to them anyway – invoking a designer actually solves none of the origins question!

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  171. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    @Krazykiwi

    As you might expect, I am not enamored by that ID view.

    The problem is using common components is kind of a prediction of ToE, so it’s a tricky argument to make that doesn’t also validate the ToE.

    Then it’s hard to perceive the optimality in design. If we look at termites, we see an insect that is a very efficient consumer of wood. It’s social structure, morphology and behaviour, makes it an incredibly efficient (and destructive) pest. There’s just one problem. It can’t digest lignin. So we have an animal that is purported to consume and digest lignin. It just can’t.

    Now it gets around this problem by utilising gut micro-organisms that can. So now we have needless complexity- there is no erstwhile difficulty in giving termites the same enzyme system as their symbionts. But in evolutionary terms, we now have a wonderful example of the co-evolution of social behaviour and adaptations of termites, alongside the symbionts in its gut. These sorts of accidental, ad hoc, and not particularly optimal arrangements are common in biology. Things get patched together in very strange ways.

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  172. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    I still only want to know how 3000 years fit into 1500.

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  173. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Yvette 2:44 pm

    So, Kris, I’d come back to the Flood which you before have said occurred about 1500 years before the birth of Christ, so where do the Egyptian dynasties fit in : Narmer 1st dynasty 3100 BC down to the Last Great Pharaoh, Ramesses III 1187-1156 BC ? Or the Chinese Xia Dynasty from 2033 BC? Or the Ravi phase of the Indus Valley from 3300 BC? All of these are continuous civilisations which could in Biblical terms only have existed after the human race was reduced to Noah and his family but their recorded histories do not fit into the 1500 year time span you give them.

    I’ll give a brief answer, but don’t want to move this into a ‘young’ vs ‘old’ creation debate – rather just stick to origins.

    My understanding is that the flood occurred not 1500 years BC, but rather approx 1500 years after the creation – which would equate to ~2,500 BC (assuming a 6,000 timespan between creation and today).
    So if we say the flood occurred ~2,500 BC and “Narmer['s] 1st dynasty [began] 3100 BC”, then thats only a discrepency of 600 years – which isn’t much when we consider the billions of years assumed since the big bang.
    And this would tie in with recorded human history only being of the order of 5,000 years.

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  174. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Ben 3:16 pm,

    – invoking a designer actually solves none of the origins question!

    Purely as an engineer/designer, I have to disagree.

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  175. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    As an aside @krazykiwi, genes are in programming terms, not well coded.

    The whole system is very vulnerability to UV radiation. So there’s a system vulnerability.
    A lot of the code is superfluous- things like ERV’s (Endogenous Retro-Viruses) are just wasted code. Indeed, we have 3.2 bn base-pairs in our genome and only need around 25,000 to code for a human.

    And of course, the whole thing doesn’t work unless we apply a system patch to it. You can’t make protein from DNA without a ‘patch’ called RNA.

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  176. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    That life developed on the planet that happened to be in the right position with the right condition is no surprise.

    I’m continually surprised.

    If we were the only planet in the universe revolving around the only sun in the universe you would have a point.
    As we are certainly not, the Goldilocks argument doesn’t hold at all. It’s plain silly.

    Why? It points to the unique conditions on earth.

    To put it the other way around, why did God bother to create all this lifeless Universe, create all these billions and billions of suns and planets that cannot sustain life. What purpose do the other planets in our system do, other than circle the sun. Mars may have had life, but the rest?

    And that, Eszett, is the right question (shades of ‘I Robot’).

    Perhaps it is to show how unique and therefore just how special God regards Mankind.

    Kris, with the billions over billions of planets and stars, calculate what the probability is that NONE of the planets would be suitable for life. It would be very, very unlikely.

    Maybe to illustrate the argument, think of 100 million raffle tickets in which one wins. Now 100 million people draw a ticket. Any given person has a very, very low chance of winning, but one will win. There is nothing surprising about it.

    Wouldn’t God hold us more special if we were the only thing he created. It’s like saying to show how valuable a sand corn is created beaches. Not very compelling argument. It actually makes us more insignificant in comparison with the rest.

    No matter how you look at it, a creationist, interventionist God just doesn’t make any sense at all.

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  177. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull 3:09 pm,

    Happy birthday, Ryan, and here’s a big sloppy kiss (xxx … xxx) in lieu of a present.

    Oh, Kris, it’s everything I could have hoped for.

    Ryan, in light of our heartfelt exchanges re: your birthday and Valentines Day, have you reflected on the heading of this topic; “Two Dicks” ?

    I trust you won’t force me to ‘come out’ publically, but that we can keep this between just the two of us?

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  178. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    Kris, so you believe in the great flood, do you also believe in Noah’s Ark? I mean, literally?

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  179. Puzzled in Ekatahuna (338 comments) says:

    What is a little bit of a worry in the span of a universe which has no boundaries, contains billions of galaxies, stars and planetary systems, and given that our earth is millions of years in formation with life evolving down gene development indicating further millions of years, everything hinges on the kiss with which Judas betrayed Christ?

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  180. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Kris, in response to your 3:27 post, I have a lot of questions, and they are genuine.

    then thats only a discrepency of 600 years – which isn’t much when we consider the billions of years assumed since the big bang.

    Isn’t the relevant timescale 6000 years, which is when you say creation occurred? A 600 year discrepancy out of 6000 is large!

    Human history isn’t limited to what is written. There is evidence of humans in North America going back 20,000 years – cave paintings, arrow heads – similar timescales for Australia. In Africa and Asia hominid fossils go back 2.5 million years or so. These fossils are plainly not modern humans, and plainly not apes, they are intermediate in their features. Why God would plant these fossils on a planet only 6000 years old knowing it would deceive good people?

    And then there’s the question of why a loving God would kill nearly everybody on the planet, how the earth repopulated quickly enough from just (3) couples I think it was to build the Pyramids in Egypt and populate the Indus valley, etc. And of course the old chestnut of how exotic species got to and back from the ark. etc etc. Even if one believes the Noah story, it is still God massacring a lot of people, which I have a lot of trouble reconciling with his alleged love. And so on.

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  181. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Eszett 3:37 pm,

    Kris, with the billions over billions of planets and stars, calculate what the probability is that NONE of the planets would be suitable for life. It would be very, very unlikely.

    [...]

    No matter how you look at it, a creationist, interventionist God just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Maybe that’s where the ‘faith bit’ comes in? – that God chose to do it that way; that both Mankind and the earth are unique amongst the immensity of the universe, and against the improbability of it all just happening by chance.

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  182. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    What is a little bit of a worry in the span of a universe which has no boundaries, contains billions of galaxies, stars and planetary systems, and given that our earth is millions of years in formation with life evolving down gene development indicating further millions of years, everything hinges on the kiss with which Judas betrayed Christ?

    Ah yes, great point. The incredibly provincial scope of the Bible – that God’s attention was focused on a few battling tribes running around a part of the Middle East between 2000 and 4000 years ago explains the origins of everything, all peoples, all races. An entire universe to deal with but God is taking sides with one spear-wielding tribe and smiting the other.

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  183. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Ryan, in light of our heartfelt exchanges re: your birthday and Valentines Day, have you reflected on the heading of this topic; “Two Dicks” ?

    I trust you won’t force me to ‘come out’ publically, but that we can keep this between just the two of us?

    It shall forever remain a secret that our real names are Richard.

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  184. RRM (9,427 comments) says:

    I clicked on a link “Ryan Sproull on two dicks” for THIS???!?

    This thread disappoints. :-(

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  185. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Eszett 3:42 pm & Ben 3:46 pm,

    I don’t really want to open up the whole young earth – Noah’s flood thing, and thereby throw this off the topic of origins as we have debated above – just for the sake of consistency.

    But I’m happy to discuss these another time.
    Suffice to say; I do believe in a young earth creation and a literal Noah’s Ark – and that the evidence supports this.

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  186. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Puzzled in Ekatahuna 3:45 pm,

    What is a little bit of a worry in the span of a universe which has no boundaries, contains billions of galaxies, stars and planetary systems, and given that our earth …, everything hinges on the kiss with which Judas betrayed Christ?

    It’s too early in the week for such profound comments.

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  187. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Puzzled,

    The universe is the only atom and all perceptions are events performed by the whole universe, including subject and object as qualities of events of perception, not agents of perception. It’s a hologram, and without us here on the earth, the height, depth and breadth of the universe would not exist – nor time.

    So don’t sell yourself short.

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  188. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    Suffice to say; I do believe in a young earth creation and a literal Noah’s Ark – and that the evidence supports this.

    Yep, “evidence” that requires blind faith and suspended logic and reason.

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  189. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Suffice to say; I do believe in a young earth creation and a literal Noah’s Ark – and that the evidence supports this

    Emphatically, the evidence does not support this. I don’t believe there is a single piece of evidence the entire planet was under water 4,500 years ago.

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  190. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Ben, are you trying to imply Mt Everest hasn’t grown on average about 2m a year?

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  191. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Ben, are you trying to imply Mt Everest hasn’t grown on average about 2m a year?

    Um, no. Where on earth did that come from?

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  192. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    The people arguing that God couldn’t have created the universes this way or that are inevitably presuming upon the nature of the God they claim to not believe in.
    Why is it so hard to accept that a God may have created the universe just the way it is? Why do we presume (being possible creations of this God) that our thinking or morality is sufficient to judge his character?
    You can’t debate “well if he did do it then it’s stupid how he did it” with out being all knowing yourself.
    The character of God is necessarily something of a mystery to all of us, if this God is indeed powerful of creating everything in existence then on what grounds do we have (as one of his creations) to demand he reveal his character in a way of our choosing?

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  193. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    I don’t believe there is a single piece of evidence the entire planet was under water 4,500 years ago.

    Mmmm perhaps. I recall hearing that lots of cultures have a ‘great flood’ in their folklore. Did a quick Google and found this. It’s quite a list!

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  194. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “An entire universe to deal with but God is taking sides with one spear-wielding tribe and smiting the other.”

    Once again, not really evidence against Christianity. The bible makes it clear that our spiritual existence is far more important than our physical existence, our “size” in this universe is irrelevant.

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  195. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “I don’t believe there is a single piece of evidence the entire planet was under water 4,500 years ago”

    May be so, but where has evidence of previous civilizations gone? Most people now believe it WAS in fact lost beneath the waves as the planet warmed after the last glaciation.

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  196. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Ben, for the great flood to have covered the earth it would have had to be relatively flat and Everest has since been raised at about a 2m per year rate, or the flood would have had to 8-9 km deep. (I was using you to question this.)

    kk – there used to be a few folklores about things like flat earths too.

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  197. goonix (140 comments) says:

    “Why is it so hard to accept that a God may have created the universe just the way it is? ”

    Because there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that this happened. Why is it so hard to accept that? ;)

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  198. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Shunda, the answer is very simple. There is no evidence to suggest God did create the universe in the way you believe. All the available evidence indicates a very old earth, that all life evolved from other simpler forms, that from the absence of evidence in favour and a mass of evidence against the biblical stories of creation and The Flood did not happen.

    We presume nothing about God – we are simply prepared to follow the evidence wherever it goes. It no more supports a young earth than it does a flat earth.

    Of course, an omnipotent God might have created the earth 6000 years ago, complete with rocks that look old, fossils perfectly sorted as if evolution has occurred, he could have created light from stars 100,000 light years away to appear to us immediately. God could also have created the world last week, and us with it complete with a lifetime of shared memories.

    The point is that simply following the evidence wherever it goes leads directly away from young earth creationism. It is a poor explanation of the available evidence. There is no reliable evidence in support of it. All the evidence points away. Our understanding of the world is not helped by believing something that is contradicted by all the available evidence, particularly when other explanations uniformly supported by the evidence exist.

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  199. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “These sorts of accidental, ad hoc, and not particularly optimal arrangements are common in biology. Things get patched together in very strange ways”

    But isn’t it cool Chthoniid? I think it fits perfectly with the revealed character of the God of the bible, what we think is not optimal could in fact serve an as yet undiscovered purpose.
    Personally I have seen the quirkiness of life on this planet as evidence of intelligence, and it may even be necessary to maintain life in it’s various forms.

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  200. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    May be so, but where has evidence of previous civilizations gone? Most people now believe it WAS in fact lost beneath the waves as the planet warmed after the last glaciation.

    Most people? Never heard that theory, TBH, let alone believe it. We do know the ocean is around 60 metres higher now than at the end of the last Ice Age. But that hasn’t prevented a wealth of evidence of ancient civilisations, and of the existence of ancient human and before that humanoids roaming Africa and the Americas, and Asia.

    The last Ice Age ended 10,000 years ago. Doesn’t your mention of glaciation contradict a 6000 year earth theory?

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  201. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “We presume nothing about God – we are simply prepared to follow the evidence wherever it goes. It no more supports a young earth than it does a flat earth.”

    Oh for crying out loud, for the last time…… I DON’T BELIEVE IN YOUNG EARTH CREATION!!!
    What I am saying is that I accept all…. ALL!!… the evidence of an ancient universe and still have no problem that a God could have caused the big bang EXACTLY AS HE INTENDED TO!! Why is this so hard to accept?

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  202. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Ben, for the great flood to have covered the earth it would have had to be relatively flat and Everest has since been raised at about a 2m per year rate, or the flood would have had to 8-9 km deep. (I was using you to question this.)

    Ok. Well as far as I know young earth creationists literally believe Mt Everest is about as high now as it was then and it was covered. That’s right, 9kms of water in 40 days.

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  203. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Shunda – apologies, I was confusing your views with Kris K.

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  204. Yvette (2,687 comments) says:

    I would suggest again that this whole argument largely exists because some believe the Bible literally, and to ease its timeline to accommodate that perhaps God created the world over six periods of time rather than six 24-hour days, means other compromises may creep in having allowed an interpretation in Genesis.

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  205. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “The last Ice Age ended 10,000 years ago. Doesn’t your mention of glaciation contradict a 6000 year earth theory?”

    Ben you need to re-read all my posts with the knowledge that I don’t believe in young earth creation, you may need to expand the box you have put me in.
    I accept what modern science says about the universe.

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  206. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Shunda – apologies, I was confusing your views with Kris K.”

    Ok then, but do you see my angle now? do you see how it can open up the God question again when we stop presuming on what he can and can’t do?

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  207. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I think it fits perfectly with the revealed character of the God of the bible, what we think is not optimal could in fact serve an as yet undiscovered purpose

    What is the undiscovered purpose of cancer?

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  208. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Ok then, but do you see my angle now? do you see how it can open up the God question again when we stop presuming on what he can and can’t do?

    Just so I understand what you are saying: God created the Big Bang, and then let things run knowing they would produce humans eventually? Theistic evolution is your take?

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  209. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “What is the undiscovered purpose of cancer?”

    Cancer is not an animal is it, it is a corruption of ones own tissue, correct? it is completely compatible with the biblical idea of how corruption has crept into the world in every aspect, including our own bodies.
    In fact cancer could be the best possible example of this.

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  210. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Theistic evolution is your take?”

    Not necessarily, I have been developing my own ideas on evolution for some time but I need to understand evolutionary biology a bit better before I can really have a strong position on it.
    There are some very interesting theories beginning to emerge that are largely compatible with the same evidence for evolutionary biology that involves a more directed process, but is still not theistic evolution.

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  211. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    krazykiwi 5:06 pm,

    I don’t believe there is a single piece of evidence the entire planet was under water 4,500 years ago.

    Mmmm perhaps. I recall hearing that lots of cultures have a ‘great flood’ in their folklore. Did a quick Google and found this. It’s quite a list!

    Indeed, Krazy.
    Many/most cultures have a ‘cultural memory’ of a great flood.

    The Maori version from your link is quite interesting.
    I have highlighted the similar bits to the biblical account of Noah’s flood:

    Maori (New Zealand):

    Long ago, there were a great many different tribes, and they quarrelled and made war on each other. The worship of Tane, the creator, was being neglected and his doctrines denied. Two prophets, Para-whenua-mea and Tupu-nui-a-uta, taught the true doctrine about the separation of heaven and earth, but others just mocked them, and they became angry. So they built a large raft at the source of the Tohinga River, built a house on it, and provisioned it with fern-root, sweet potatoes, and dogs. Then they prayed for abundant rain to convince men of the power of Tane. Two men named Tiu and Reti, a woman named Wai-puna-hau, and other women also boarded the raft. Tiu was the priest on the raft, and he recited the prayers and incantations for rain. It rained hard for four or five days, until Tiu prayed for the rain to stop. But though the rain stopped, the waters still rose and bore the raft down the Tohinga river and onto the sea. In the eighth month, the waters began to thin; Tiu knew this by the signs of his staff. At last they landed at Hawaiki. The earth had been much changed by the flood, and the people on the raft were the only survivors.

    I encourage others to read the account of Noah’s flood in Genesis and compare it to the above ‘myth’, and then explain why there is this degree of commonality.

    Many other flood ‘myths’ share similarities to the Genesis account – once again, why?

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  212. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    ben:Life need not even be carbon based. Silicon-based life appears to be a viable alternative, and there may be others. The universe might be teeming with life we can hardly conceive.

    Indeed we still can’t conclusively rule out the existence of life anywhere in the solar system. Our solar system may yet turn out to be teeming with life.

    Silicon-based life, btw, isn’t taken seriously as an option anymore by scientists.

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  213. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Well heck Shunda, what you say sounds reasonable to me. Hard to argue with someone willing to work within the bounds of what’s in the rocks and the stars. That’s all we athiests can ask for. I can’t argue with anyone if they want to believe God resides in the places science can’t reach – that’s up to you and good luck to you. I guess we have different default starting positions – absent evidence either way I’m not able to assume a god of any description; you are, and that’s cool.

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  214. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Chiz: re: silicon, I didn’t know that, thanks for the update. I think I came across the idea in one of Dawkins books, perhaps an older one.

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  215. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Well Kris K, if there was a global flood, God did a great job of hiding it:

    # no record in 40,000 year ice cores

    # no record in 10,000 year tree core samples

    # no record in the geologic column

    The very existence of an ice cap on Greenland also implies no global flood. Conditions in the last 5000 years have been too warm for it to have grown back.

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  216. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Observation:
    You’ve got to laugh, really!

    Whenever we discuss evolution/creation/God/atheism the comment count goes through the roof.
    We’ve just cracked 200+ comments.

    I reckon you guys, deep down, love discussing this stuff – but mum’s the word, I won’t tell a soul.

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  217. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Yes it’s addictive alright. Anyway, must go, it’s been fun.

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  218. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    While these discussions inevitably end in debating the origin of life, this is not the issue I think needs to be addressed here.

    The issue is really whether the increasing influence of people like Dawkins is really a good thing for society or not.
    If he just kept his opinions as his opinions, then all well and good, but he isn’t and his fans certainly aren’t.

    When I heard Cindy Kiro using his ideas regarding Christian parents it made me cringe, as did obvious influences re Sue Bradford and others with an anti Christian axe to grind.

    Dawkins is advocating for ways to limit the freedom of religion by simply stating we are all deluded and therefore people shouldn’t feel bad about being disrespectful of religion. The problem is this; people less intelligent than Dawkins take this further to disrespecting individuals that hold to ANY religious beliefs, it is becoming a green light to persecuting people you don’t happen to like. It is bigotry plain and simple.

    There are precedents in history for what happens next.

    Quite frankly I don’t feel the need to convince people of why they should believe what I believe, I do like talking about it and do feel the need to defend aspects of my faith that I feel are being poorly represented by non believers and believers alike, but in reality I just want to defend my right to be a participant in society with out some intellectual calling me “deluded”.

    I can respect people who have respect for the dignity of others, I can’t respect people who are advocating directly or indirectly, the shunning of large portions of society.

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  219. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “That’s all we athiests can ask for. I can’t argue with anyone if they want to believe God resides in the places science can’t reach – that’s up to you and good luck to you. I guess we have different default starting positions – absent evidence either way I’m not able to assume a god of any description; you are, and that’s cool.”

    :shock:

    We just resolved something on one of these threads!!

    Hallelujah!!

    Ben mate, that’s all I am after, good on you and God (or not :) ) bless you.

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  220. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    Shunda barunda 6:06 pm,

    Dawkins is advocating for ways to limit the freedom of religion by simply stating we are all deluded and therefore people shouldn’t feel bad about being disrespectful of religion. The problem is this; people less intelligent than Dawkins take this further to disrespecting individuals that hold to ANY religious beliefs, it is becoming a green light to persecuting people you don’t happen to like. It is bigotry plain and simple.

    There are precedents in history for what happens next.

    Well said, Shunda.
    I can see a time when to identify yourself (especially) as a Christian will result in not only being accussed of being ‘deluded’, but of being mentally unstable and of an unsound mind. And I think that time is not far off.
    The likes of Dawkins will, no doubt, be leading the charge.

    Throw into the mix Christian ‘hate crimes’ against, for example, homosexuality, and one doesn’t have to look too hard to see the writing on the wall.

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  221. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Many other flood ‘myths’ share similarities to the Genesis account – once again, why?

    (1) Most human societies have ended up living next to river systems, especially as such flood plains are suitable for early agriculture
    (2) Living next to rivers increases the risk of being exposed to floods
    (3) Primitive cultures unaware of hydrological systems would invoke supernatural causes

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  222. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    I can respect people who have respect for the dignity of others, I can’t respect people who are advocating directly or indirectly, the shunning of large portions of society.

    A key point – we are fortunate in NZ most people’s beliefs or non-beliefs are harmless to others so we should surely be able to co-exist without antagonism.

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  223. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Chiz: re: silicon, I didn’t know that, thanks for the update. I think I came across the idea in one of Dawkins books, perhaps an older one.

    It’s very old- it was in one of the original Star Trek series episodes!

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  224. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    Dawkins is advocating for ways to limit the freedom of religion by simply stating we are all deluded and therefore people shouldn’t feel bad about being disrespectful of religion. The problem is this; people less intelligent than Dawkins take this further to disrespecting individuals that hold to ANY religious beliefs, it is becoming a green light to persecuting people you don’t happen to like. It is bigotry plain and simple.

    Dawkins doesn’t have a problem with you believing what you want. What he opposes is for you to force everyone to believe the same thing as you without any evidence.

    You can believe whatever you want.You beliefs should not be above any scrutiny and if you claim them to be true and valid and the only truth, then they should be supported by at least some evidence.

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  225. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    chthoniid:It’s very old- it was in one of the original Star Trek series episodes!

    Its even older than that. The idea of silicon-based life dates back to the 19th century and was originally published on the front pages of one of the british newspapers.

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  226. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Dawkins doesn’t have a problem with you believing what you want.”

    Well that’s just great.
    Now if only we could get him to consider communicating in a way that doesn’t encourage ideologues to cement his position in law.
    Quite frankly I think he enjoys the reaction he gets from his adoring followers, much like a Pastor enjoys the praise of the “sheep”.
    It is a shame that his most vocal support often comes from people a bit like Cindy Kiro; driven by ideology and looking for every excuse to use it.

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  227. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    Now if only we could get him to consider communicating in a way that doesn’t encourage ideologues to cement his position in law.

    Pretty rich, coming from a Christian.

    For centuries you have burned and killed anyone who dared question your views, now you are squeaking as soon as someone dares to demand answers to the questions.

    It was you who cemented your positions into law in the first place. All Dawkins is doing is putting some though questions to you which you don’t like

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  228. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Pretty rich, coming from a Christian.

    For centuries you have burned and killed anyone who dared question your views,”

    No I haven’t actually, and this is the bloody problem.
    For every one of these “sins” supposedly done in the name of Christ I can point to a political or military cause and can strongly show they have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ.
    It is much easier however, to link tyrants like Mao and Stalin to the teachings of Marx and their atheistic beliefs, though I am sure you would be offended if I attributed their sins to you.

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  229. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    I do think Shunda’s distinction, between Christians who have killed in the past, and moderates today who would hurt a fly, is fair.

    But Dawkins is not attacking Christians today for past murders. Dawkins’ main beef is the insistence of some Christians today that religion find its way into science classes, and the total lack of reason behind arguments for that, and the resistance of that movement – indeed its open hostility – to reason. Dawkins believes this creates needless distrust of science and education itself.

    Dawkins may well be blunt in making his point, but so what? He also happens to have reason, evidence and the law on his side and in response his opponents must stoop to endless series of rhetorical tricks and personal abuse. As a professional biologist, being told by people who don’t know the very first thing about evolution that evolution is evil and wrong must, after 30 years, become a bit tiring.

    Reason #345 for why I am not religious is that its defence apparently requires, judging from the sorts of arguments rolled out by creationists and ID defenders and indeed moderate Christians when challenged, the suspension of reason and a requirement to sacrifice some large fraction of what the bible teaches, and/or to insist all the evidence for evolution – a good deal of it compiled by Christians! – is part of some giant conspiracy by scientists against God. That is a poor message to send to kids.

    Dawkins has not only the right to be strident in his criticisms of religion, he has every reason in view of the harm it must be causing in schools in America that cannot teach evolution, the cornerstone of biology.

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  230. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Dawkins’ main beef is the insistence of some Christians today that religion find its way into science classes, and the total lack of reason behind arguments for that, and the resistance of that movement – indeed its open hostility – to reason. Dawkins believes this creates needless distrust of science and education itself”

    Yes this is an issue, though there are Christians like astrophysicist Hugh Ross that are helping to change this, he does not support teaching ID in schools and has also had a wide airing in America by James Dobson who is widely respected in the USA by evangelicals.
    The other issue is that if they allowed religion in they could also allow post modernist beliefs to ride in the same door which would be even more destructive and I am sure Dawkins and Christians would be strongly opposed to that.
    There is no reason why schools couldn’t investigate the theories of religions regarding origins, but it would have to be done in the appropriate setting.

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  231. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    It is much easier however, to link tyrants like Mao and Stalin to the teachings of Marx and their atheistic beliefs, though I am sure you would be offended if I attributed their sins to you.

    There is no such thing as atheistic beliefs. Mao and Stalin killed for power, nothing else.
    The insistence that they killed because they were atheists is just silly.
    Atheism is based in humanism, logic and reason. Nothing of that can be attributed to Mao or Stalin.

    It’s just a distraction from all the deaths and atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion over the centuries. Mostly because they dared to question those religions.

    Dawkins is just highlighting the contradictions and stupidity of religions. (Mostly Christian and Islam, but for that matter, any religion)

    There is no reason why schools couldn’t investigate the theories of religions regarding origins, but it would have to be done in the appropriate setting.

    They did. They found them to be bogus.

    What is an appropriate setting? They don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny (reason, logic, evidence, all that uncomfortable stuff), they are just myths and stories.

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  232. LabourDoesntWork (282 comments) says:

    Here’s the word from the Vox Popoli blog. Gadda luv it.
    http://voxday.blogspot.com/2010/04/social-autism-strikes-again.html

    Dawkins is unproductive to these debates in a number of ways. One is his philosophical unsophistication, and thus his clear underestimation of the opposing point of view. This leads to the other problem: his own followers — the reason he had to shut down his forum, apparently — who have an overinflated regard for their own intellect due to their sharing of Dawkins’ underestimation of other’s. Another is his unrelenting stridency. If only he were intellectually honest and accepted that religion is a product of natural selection, thus here to stay; instead he has succeeded his career as a scientist to become a political and social activist who seeks to bring about a secular utopia where religion is eliminated and the human race evolves to the next, uh, level…or something. At least Christopher Hitchens is more pessimistic than that. :^)

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  233. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    If only he were intellectually honest and accepted that religion is a product of natural selection, thus here to stay;

    The idiocy of this statement reveals who actually is unsophisticated, philosophically and intellectually.

    Nothing that is a product of natural selection is here to stay.

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  234. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “There is no such thing as atheistic beliefs. Mao and Stalin killed for power, nothing else.
    The insistence that they killed because they were atheists is just silly.
    Atheism is based in humanism, logic and reason. Nothing of that can be attributed to Mao or Stalin.”

    Are you listening to anything I am saying? they were in fact atheists and they were not in fact reasonable!!
    Are you that naive to believe that all humans sympathetic to Dawkins views will automatically be reasonable people? Dawkins is often not reasonable and many of his followers are worse! You may be a very reasonable atheist but surely you are not so naive to believe every atheist is like yourself.

    “It’s just a distraction from all the deaths and atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion over the centuries. Mostly because they dared to question those religions.”

    Yes deaths and atrocities have occurred in Christianity, however most of those they were killing were fellow believers, the question is which were accurately representing the religion?

    “They did. They found them to be bogus.”

    You are clearly reading my posts through some distorted lens, my point is that there is no problem in students doing a module on creation beliefs, I am not talking about teaching it as science.

    LDW said : “This leads to the other problem: his own followers — the reason he had to shut down his forum, apparently — who have an overinflated regard for their own intellect due to their sharing of Dawkins’ underestimation of other’s.”

    This is exactly the problem, he only encourages the arrogance of people who should have less influence on society, not more.
    This is where the “reason” of the atheist argument falls apart.

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  235. LabourDoesntWork (282 comments) says:

    The idiocy of this statement reveals who actually is unsophisticated, philosophically and intellectually.
    Nothing that is a product of natural selection is here to stay.

    Religion is here to stay because there is no evidence the human race has evolved in the many thousands of years during which it has existed.

    The best Dawkins can hope for is that natural selection is *effectively* no longer active, due to technology; which reduces Dawkins to a explicitly unqualified NON-expert on these matters and just another hopeful leftwing utopian bent on making society into something for which there is no evidence it can be.

    My money’s on religion lasting – as is Hitchens’s, as I pointed out.

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  236. Haiku Dave (273 comments) says:

    does chris share your view
    that ‘nat’rally selected’
    can mean ‘here to stay’?

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  237. Haiku Dave (273 comments) says:

    “religion is a product of natural selection, thus here to stay”

    i’ve read some stupid
    shit on this blog but you get
    the biscuit my friend

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  238. LabourDoesntWork (282 comments) says:

    “religion is a product of natural selection, thus here to stay”

    i’ve read some stupid
    shit on this blog but you get
    the biscuit my friend

    Where is the empirical evidence of a successful atheist society? The Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, …. . Successful?!? There’s simply no other evidence worthwhile speaking of for atheism. In reality, atheism is clearly tolerated highly by NON-atheist societies whether Christian or whatever (except Islamic ones).

    According to Dawkins’ view, evolution by natural selection produced religious belief, which benefits the survival of the individual, being present in every human culture over thousands of years. Where’s his counter-evidence again? Re-read my earlier responses which point out why Dawkins is a leftwing utopianist who has utterly left science.

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  239. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    There is no reason why schools couldn’t investigate the theories of religions regarding origins, but it would have to be done in the appropriate setting.

    Agreed. An appropriate setting is religious studies. I actually think it would be an interesting class to compare various civilizations’ origins stories.

    The common link between religious mass murders and Stalin and Mao is dogma, albeit different kinds. That one group insisted on worshipping an unseen deity, the other insisted on worship of deified men is immaterial. Both groups operated in defiance of reason, both wielded enormous power, and both killed millions. Nobody died because their leaders were too reasonable.

    Re: natural selection and religion. Natural selection is the wrong term, but there is certainly competition between religious ideas, and thus selection pressure – just not natural selection. Out of all the thousands or perhaps millions of religions that have been invented, the dominant religions today are dominant presumably because they stumbled upon a collection of messages that most effectively promulgated their own ideas, and to some extent through accidents of history (but for Constantine would we know Jesus’ name?). The survival of religions is an extremely interesting question because they both depend in part on and affect the survival of its promulgators. The effectiveness with which a religion deals with harvesting, within-tribe adultery, work ethics, trade ethics, personal hygiene, food preparation, etc, all contribute to the survival of both the people following the religion and, thus, the religion itself. Make no mistake, selection pressure is real for religions and explains a good deal of why today’s religions are dominant.

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  240. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    “Where is the empirical evidence of a successful atheist society? “

    There must have been a few before gods were thought of. Now it is hard to isolate the religious from the atheist elements of many societies. Even if suddenly everyone in NZ stopped believing in gods there would be claims our success was due to our religious history.

    What is happening in the modern world, as more science explains many of the unknowns, and as more people become better educated, is that religious beliefs are likely to keep diluting – more people will believe less strongly. While many people still retain some religious beliefs these usually become more pragmatic. There are either less hard core religious nuts, or those with moderate beliefs are able to be heard more.

    There are the arrogant on both sides of the religious divide who proclaim that their extremes are “right”, but I think there is a growing “fuzzy middle”. The Bible is seen less as a factual template for living, and more as a historical document (actually a compilation of documents) that can be used as a guide and an inspiration – as long as it is used sensibly and positively.

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  241. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    Religion is here to stay because there is no evidence the human race has evolved in the many thousands of years during which it has existed.

    Not quite sure what you mean with evolved? Are you saying there is no evidence for evolution or no evidence for any kind of advancement?

    Well, if you view Religion as meme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme) than yes, you can agree with the statement that a is selection happening. One religion moves on into another, etc, etc. Just look at all the pagan themes in Christianity. And the commonality of some of the stories with other religions.

    But of course if you view it that way, you cannot claim having the absolute and universal truth.

    Anyhow, here to stay is a strong statement. There have been a huge number of extinctions due to natural selection. Neither of us will be around to verify it. ;-)

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  242. Scott (1,699 comments) says:

    A most interesting discussion and congratulations to Kris K and others for their well reasoned arguments and apologetics.

    My two cents worth — I tend to be with Kris K on the creationist side. I tend not to put evolution into the mix. I feel it is an unproven theory that does not add anything to our understanding of the ultimate questions. In fact we get into trouble when we become theistic evolutionists. I think the other side is doing a good job of exposing the difficulties of theistic evolution.

    Regarding wars and suchlike in the name of Christianity — it is not true to say that millions died. If you take all the Crusades and the Inquisition and other Christian persecution at most you have thousands dying. Now I appreciate that is thousands too many — but the number is in the thousands, not the millions.

    On the other side Christianity is responsible for — the freedom of Western civilisation, hospitals, the idea of helping others who are not related to you, Christian charity, “the golden rule” — do unto others as you would have them do unto you and many other values that make us “civilised”.

    I think Jesus is the best example we know of a wonderful human being. Those that are interested to find out more about Jesus, I suggest you have a read of one of the gospels — Matthew Mark Luke or John — you probably have a Bible lying around somewhere at home.

    Those interested in the problems regarding evolution, if you have a chance, I always recommend Michael Denton’s book “Evolution, a Theory in Crisis”. Denton is not a Christian, but a scientist who has become disenchanted with evolution and exposes some of the many problems with it.

    That’s all from me — away for the day. Scott — out.

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  243. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Scott…

    Evolution is not an unproven theory. It doesn’t try to add to anything to our understanding of the “ultimate questions” – I doubt that we will ever know those answers beyond 42.

    The impression of Jesus is that he was a reasonable sort of bloke, a bit extraordinary although possibly a bit of a “misguided martyr”. He had a very local following – it is hard to imagine how someone like him would get on in today’s media spotlight. There would be no “lost years”, everything would be overexposed, warts and all, in real time. All we have of Jesus I is some historical accounts written long after he had gone.

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  244. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    I’m sorry Scott, evolution is a fact. Denton’s book was written 25 years ago. Checking CAB, I have found 13,000 scientific papers published since 2009 *alone* adding to our understanding on evolution.

    The breakthroughs we have had in molecular biology, alongside marked additions to the fossil record (cf the discovery of Tiktaalik in Devonian layers- as the ToE predicts) in the last 20 years has pretty much shifted the issue out of debate.

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  245. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “The breakthroughs we have had in molecular biology, alongside marked additions to the fossil record (cf the discovery of Tiktaalik in Devonian layers- as the ToE predicts) in the last 20 years has pretty much shifted the issue out of debate.”

    There is still a dreadful lack of transitional forms, and please don’t confuse them with micro evolution which not even young earthers disbelieve.
    There is still debate and there is still other ways to interpret the evidence, I just wish I had more time to investigate it.
    What are these breakthroughs Chthoniid?

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  246. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Every form is transitional.

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  247. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    Define “dreadful lack” Shunda Barunda. This isn’t the 1850s anymore.

    We have over 200,000 fossil species described, based on millions of finds. There are some very good examples of transitions- e.g. the Adapids (graph- http://bit.ly/cDn5Wf) This is a very good instance of macro-evolution.

    Discoveries in the La Hoyas and western China have greatly expanded the Paraves group so that the theropod-aves transition is now well described.

    The molecular breakthroughs include the human genome project. We are now at the point where we can measure and clock changes to individual genes in an organism. This has allowed for the generation of far more extensive & detailed phylogenies than was possible by strict, morphological metrics.

    Also, please explain what prevents micro-evolution over time accumulating into macro-evolutionary changes. I know of no barrier that would exist to prevent this from occurring.

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  248. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Ryan’s right. I eat so much fish I’m becoming a whale.

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  249. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    Won’t it all have been micro evolution? Gaps in finds don’t show a lot of this detail, they show a “macro” jump from one period of micro evolution to a later period of micro evolution.

    Some anti-evolutionists claim that evolving from one species to another isn’t possible (famously, from ape to man). They don’t suddenly change from one species to another, it is simply an extended period of macro evolution.

    Say there was a species called huapes on an island, and after an ice age the sea rose and split the island into two separate islands. Say that one island had trees and the other island had no trees, and there were huapes left on both islands. Ten thousand years later you might find that the tree huapes had longer arms than the non-tree huapes because they hang from the trees a lot by their arms. Micro evolution.

    Go back maybe ten million years later and you may have tree apes who may have changed some more because of their diet of fruits and leaves. And the no-tree humans have now learned to walk because they can’t move tree to tree. And their diet of fish means they have learned to swim etc, and due to more protein have larger brains. Through micro evolving over a long time they are now different to apes, and both are different from the original huapes.

    A scientist might think they are dissimilar enough to categorise them as different species.

    That’s my simplistic understanding – if apes could read English they might even understand it.

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  250. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    There is still a dreadful lack of transitional forms, and please don’t confuse them with micro evolution which not even young earthers disbelieve.

    There is no lack of any transitional forms. There are heaps of them, in virtually every natural museum of the world. But aside form that, they are also not even need to prove evolution. Even without a single fossil find, there is overwhelming evidence for evolution.

    Darwin did not need any fossil finds to come up with his hypothesis.

    And besides, Ryan is right. Every form is transitional. Any fossil that you find is a transitional form between two others.

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  251. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Every form is transitional. Any fossil that you find is a transitional form between two others.”

    This is what I am saying, the word “transitional” seems to have been redefined to better fit the theory, saying every fossil is transitional appears to be a tautology to me.

    “They don’t suddenly change from one species to another, it is simply an extended period of macro evolution.”

    Yes Pete, but we have things like the Cambrian explosion that create some interesting problems regarding adequate time for the mechanism you described, something very interesting happened back then and there seems to be little evidence of how.

    I am interested in understanding modern evolutionary thought better, does anyone have any sites that could be recommended?

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  252. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Hell.. 250 Responses so far.. did someone mention evolution and God.. this thread is about more than “Two Dicks”.

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  253. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    RKBee, I find it humorous that people such as yourself pretend not to care, but yet there you are!
    It seems to me that some people don’t really care about this stuff, and that is fine, then there are others that feel quite uncomfortable with having to think about the question of origins, so they pretend not to care or make some derogatory comment.
    The fact is these topics are deeply interesting to quite a few people as evidenced by the massive post count every single time it comes up.
    It is good for people to debate this stuff, it occasionally leads to better understanding of differing world views and that is no bad thing.

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  254. Ryan Sproull (7,027 comments) says:

    Shunda,

    There are some extensive FAQs at http://www.talkorigins.org, but buying a book is probably best, and I don’t know any good ones off the top of my head.

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  255. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    It’s about less than two dicks RKBee, no dicks needed when God is involved, and one at a time is all that is needed for evolution.

    Shunda, there are still puzzles and unknowns, but so far all the new knowledge keeps filling in gaps and keeps supporting evolution. None contradicts or disproves it. The only negatives are subjective, like “I don’t see how that could have happened”.

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  256. Atheist1 (174 comments) says:

    Shunda @4.38: totally agree with you. The position you and ben reached earlier being a case in point (brought a tear to this atheist’s eye! Seriously).

    Re your question about understanding modern evolutionary thought, despite DPF disparaging him as a “book peddler”, Dawkins himself has written some brilliant books on the topic. Just off the top of my head, try “River out of Eden” and his latest “The Greatest Show on Earth”. I’ve always been hopeless at science (language is my thing) but those books were brilliant at explaining evolution to a science cretin like myself.

    Cheers and have a good day.

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  257. Pete George (22,754 comments) says:

    It is good for people to debate this stuff, it occasionally leads to better understanding of differing world views and that is no bad thing.

    Yep, I often get a better understanding and more knowledge through threads like this. Mostly micro-understandings, but sometimes there are leaps of macro-understanding.

    I made a mistake above, I meant to say:
    “They don’t suddenly change from one species to another, it is simply an extended period of micro evolution.”

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  258. chiz (1,119 comments) says:

    Scott:Regarding wars and suchlike in the name of Christianity — it is not true to say that millions died. If you take all the Crusades and the Inquisition and other Christian persecution at most you have thousands dying. Now I appreciate that is thousands too many — but the number is in the thousands, not the millions.

    Not true. Its estimated that somewhere between 20 and 50 MILLION people died during the Taiping rebellion – all because Hong Xiuquan was convinced that he was Jesus’s younger brother and that God had sent him on a mission to save China.

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  259. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    this thread is about more than “Two Dicks”.

    There has to be a couple of Non-Virgins envolved to evolve the evolution.

    Now who was that Roman emperor we can thank for all this Christianity.

    Next we will be talking politics the other mortal sin.

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  260. eszett (2,332 comments) says:

    # Ryan Sproull (3607) Says:
    April 14th, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Shunda,

    There are some extensive FAQs at http://www.talkorigins.org, but buying a book is probably best, and I don’t know any good ones off the top of my head.

    If you can get over the fact that it is written by Dawkins, then the Greatest Show On Earth is highly recommendable. FWIW, it's about evidence for evolution and it's not about religion.

    And Shunda, it's not a tautology, it's a fact of evolution. Constantly asking for a transitional form is a tautology.

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  261. Chthoniid (2,027 comments) says:

    I’ve been told that Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True is also a good option.

    The statement that all fossils are transitional isn’t a tautology, because implicit to being a ‘transition’, biologists are committing themselves to predictions about the order and morphology of organisms in the fossil record. E.g. this was done superbly with the Tiktaalit terapod fossil.

    The Cambrian explosion occured over a period of 70-80 million years, so the metaphor of explosion means something entirely different in palaentological terms. In comparison, the Cretaceous extinction event was 65.5 million years, and led to the extinction of most ‘dinosaur’ orders and the ‘explosion’ of aves and mammal groups. Again, I can’t see why the Cambrian presents any major challenges to the ToE.

    Much of the difficulty with the Cambrian is simply geological. We’re now looking at events 550m years ago, and for organisms that often lacked the skeletal structures that are easily preserved. That makes constructing phylogenies somewhat difficult.

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  262. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “I’ve been told that Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True is also a good option.”

    Just watched him on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1m4mATYoig

    Quite interesting.

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  263. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    “Shunda @4.38: totally agree with you. The position you and ben reached earlier being a case in point (brought a tear to this atheist’s eye! Seriously).”

    Yeah, I learnt that it is possible for Atheist and Christian to shake hands and say “enough talk lets go have a beer”.
    Blogs are actually the only chance I get to talk about this stuff, I don’t know enough real life atheists!!
    Thanks for your time and I can sincerely say it is not wasted.

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