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How could anyone believe in Theistic Evolution?


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Showing 26-48 of 48 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 6:08:19 PM PST
Roeselare says:
scientifically defined evidence for a phenomenon that you haven't scientifically described yet?

We can speculate about deities just as we can speculate about this universe being intelligently designed, and in fact, to be honest with ourselves, we must.

I don't like it, Jack, but we are limited. I'd surely rather that we knew enough about these ultimate origins, but we clearly do not.. Try to see the big picture here.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 6:26:02 PM PST
"We can speculate about deities just as we can speculate about this universe being intelligently designed..."

Yes... just as we can speculate about unicorns or leprechauns.

The question is: what do we have actual *verifiable evidence* for?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 7:26:02 PM PST
Bill M. says:
Jack Vix said: "There is no reason to believe in deities."

So is your real question therefore, "How could anyone be a THEIST?" There are a number of books on that topic that I'd recommend:
Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (Cognitive Science of Religion)
Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought
How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 9:00:37 PM PST
'probabilist says:
Chant these words frequently, and your life will be sublime:

> There is no reason to believe in deities.
> No positive evidence has ever been presented,
> therefore, a positive claim is unjustified.

Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

,.-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2012 8:38:52 PM PST
Jack Vix says:
Well, that's my question, but I don't expect- I mean, I've never heard a single reasonable answer to it. This thread is more a point, that theists are correct to see evolution as the enemy.

Good recommendations, I have the Shermer book.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2012 8:42:04 PM PST
Jack Vix says:
Facts are sterile, not vulgar nor sublime. And they're not religion, they're for everyone. They also aren't insecure enough to need affirmations or chants. :P

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2012 7:31:03 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
"There is no reason to believe in deities. No positive evidence has ever been presented, therefore, a positive claim is unjustified."

Jack, not everything that counts as "evidence" has to take the form of an experimental result or a statistical distribution.

For example, it is NOT the case that most human civilizations believe in leprechauns or fairies. It IS the case, however, that the vast majority of human civilizations have believed in deities. It is, of course, possible to explain this in terms of evolutionary psychology, attempts at social control on the part of those in power, etc., but if intersubjective reliability is the litmus test of what counts as an "empirical" statement, guess what? We have an empirical statement about deities.

Further, most people do not believe in deities because they are schizophrenic morons, contrary to what you seem to believe. They believe in deities because they have had EXPERIENCE of deities.
The varieties of religious experience: a study in human nature : being the Gifford lectures on natural religion delivered at Edinburgh in 1901-1902

For example, fully TWENTY PERCENT of Americans in a recent survey believe that they have literally HEARD the voice of God. Nearly ONE QUARTER believe that they have witnessed a miraculous healing.
http://blog.beliefnet.com/omeoflittlefaith/2010/06/religious-experiences.html

The evidence for deities is thin, and is easily explained by things other than the real existence of deities. To claim, however, as you do that there is NO positive evidence for deities betrays a bizarre sense on your part that theism is like the atomic theory of matter--something that can be decided experimentally.

Intelligent Design creationists share this belief with you. A great many practicing Christians, however, find this belief of yours bizarre and nonsensical.
http://www.theclergyletterproject.org/
Systematic Theology, vol. 1
The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2012 9:04:25 AM PST
Jack Vix says:
Argumentum ad populum. The masses could believe in Poseidon or God or Voodoo. It doesn't lend it anymore truth value.

Anecdotal evidence is an oxymoron. It's incredibly unreliable, especially given the fact that we all hallucinate.

Schizophrenia is a mental problem, not a matter of whether you are dumb or not.

If one does actually experience someone else talking to you in your head, if convincing enough and the person can't reason that it's only in their mind, it is rational for them to think thats evidence. This doesn't mean that it is anything more than a hallucination.

"Waking consciousness is dreaming - but dreaming constrained by external reality." -Oliver Sacks

The fact that pattern seeking mammals can listen and hear deities or dead loved ones is no more demonstrative of a reality than the fact that people can look and see eight eyed fish in peoples laps. Humans are fallible, to believe we have a ticket to some inner lesson from a deity is to reject that we are fallible and to have the conceit that your brain is adequate to declare a "universal truth" or "the answer." Our introspection and intuition cannot give us anything but impressions of our own mental life, which are hard to interpret and give us no information to lead us to cosmic knowledge. Science is the only way to a knowledge of objective reality outside ourselves and inside ourselves.

There is much incentive to delude oneself, it is harder to be skeptical, but it's more honest and humble to admit fallibility and accept subjective ignorance rather than making wild assertions about the nature of your experiences.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 7:14:24 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
"Argumentum ad populum. The masses could believe in Poseidon or God or Voodoo. It doesn't lend it anymore truth value."

So why doesn't it count as an argumentum ad populum when dozens of chemists, anthropologists, or economists all claim to observe the same phenomenon and we believe them? Why doesn't it count as an argumentum ad populum to say that the theory of evolution is supported by over 95% of practicing scientists? The issue with deities is not just what "the masses could believe"--it is what substantial numbers of people have subjectively experienced firsthand. Again, these experiences can be explained in other ways, but the widespread EXISTENCE of such firsthand experiences makes it clear that theism is more than just sloppy thinking or mental disease.

"Our introspection and intuition cannot give us anything but impressions of our own mental life, which are hard to interpret and give us no information to lead us to cosmic knowledge. Science is the only way to a knowledge of objective reality outside ourselves and inside ourselves."
So many people who despise religion have this fanciful distinction between Reason on the one hand and Intuition on the other. What's the difference? Scientists routinely use analogies, metaphors, mental models, and thought experiments in their work--does that not count as reason?

As for your assertion that firsthand, phenomenological experience ("introspection") cannot yield knowledge about anything other than "our own mental life," this is simply false. For example, there is no possible way to study such phenomena as religious experience or dreams WITHOUT the use of such reported introspection. Otherwise, how could we operationally define religious experiences or dreams, the very things which we are investigating?

"There is much incentive to delude oneself, it is harder to be skeptical, but it's more honest and humble to admit fallibility and accept subjective ignorance rather than making wild assertions about the nature of your experiences." And yet you lack this humility yourself. Having never experienced anything which you would consider Divine, you assume without positive evidence that all such experiences are hallucinations. Having never studied the are of philosophical investigation known as phenomenology, you assume that introspection is incapable of providing real knowledge. You, I, and the typical theist are not any more or less subject to delusion, hallucination, or sloppy thinking: we just differ in the kinds of perceptual and cognitive errors which we are more likely to make.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 7:25:50 AM PST
>There's absolutely nothing persuasive about this claim

There's nothing persuasive about your post, either, which is why, as a spokesman for atheism, you're rather an embarrassing amateur. The reason that belief in theistic evolution is irrational is that evolution is a record of circumstantial adaptation, including some failures leading to the extinction of entire species, while even the successes include things like the backward eyeball, vestigial organs, and a musculo-skeletal structure in man ill-adapted to walking, that could hardly be the result of deliberate intent by any intelligent designer, let alone a supernatural one. While there is no reason to rule out a process, per se, analogous to a gardener planting a seed and waiting for it to flourish as a plant, it is reasonable to expect a designed process to reach an expected goal by the most efficient route, a description completely at odds with what any observer can see about evolution.

And now, I've just explained in two sentences what you never got around to saying in several paragraphs of venting, Jack. If you're going to go in for atheism, you really need to get past your need to rant. It's not really very convincing.

Posted on Jan 11, 2013 10:35:13 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2013 10:35:25 AM PST
Brian Curtis says:
A consensus of experts in the field is not the same as an argument from popularity. "40 Helens Agree" is not the same thing as "100% of biologists agree" when it comes to evolution, for example. One group has earned and deserves its credibility, the other has not.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 12:19:21 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 11, 2013 12:21:52 PM PST
Jack Vix says:
I don't remember every point I made since typing this a while ago, but I wasn't going for declaritive short sentences. If I was I would have just typed a few and that would be the thread. I chose to elaborate on why I said what I did. You do make a good point, ill-adaptations and vestigial organs hardly show deliberate intent by any super intelligence. And I believe I have stated that we are not the goal of evolution anymore than a mouse, there is no "goal" evident. It's in the third post "notes" it's #1.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 12:40:26 PM PST
ErikR says:
"For example, it is NOT the case that most human civilizations believe in leprechauns or fairies."

Not currently, but, with all due respect, I can't think of a human culture that does not have belief in nature spirits like leprechauns and fairies (which are just different cultural names for the same concept) as part of its heritage. It's only recently in human history that these beings are not widely believed in.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 12:51:57 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 11, 2013 12:56:06 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 11, 2013 1:09:38 PM PST
Ariex says:
Daniel Dickson-LaPrade says: "So why doesn't it count as an argumentum ad populum when dozens of chemists, anthropologists, or economists all claim to observe the same phenomenon and we believe them?"

Ariex: The difference is in that they OBSERVE and describe the same thing that WE could observe if we went to the trouble, rather than believing what they've been taught to believe.

Daniel Dickson-LaPrade says: "Why doesn't it count as an argumentum ad populum to say that the theory of evolution is supported by over 95% of practicing scientists?"

Ariex: Same answer: Because they've actually critically examined the evidence, unlike those who merely absorb indoctrination without applying critical thinking. I know, many think they have examined their beliefs via "critical thinking", yet when they present arguments supposedly based on this "critical thinking", they are riddled with fallacious reasoning and selective "evidence", often taken out of context.

Daniel Dickson-LaPrade says: "The issue with deities is not just what "the masses could believe"--it is what substantial numbers of people have subjectively experienced firsthand."

Ariex: There is the problem, "subjectively experienced". This requires interpretation SHAPED by the subject's expectations and previous indoctrination or cultural exposure. When a geneticist looks at DNA, she's looking at OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE, not some ambiguous feeling inside her head that she thinks must be some sign of god.

Daniel Dickson-LaPrade says: " Again, these experiences can be explained in other ways, but the widespread EXISTENCE of such firsthand experiences makes it clear that theism is more than just sloppy thinking or mental disease."

Ariex: I agree completely. It is often the result of peer pressure, ignorance, and/or our natural desire to experience the extraordinary, the exciting, the "magical".

Daniel Dickson-LaPrade says: "Scientists routinely use analogies, metaphors, mental models, and thought experiments in their work--does that not count as reason?"

Ariex: It counts as the FIRST STAGE in reason, but in order to achieve reliable results, OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE of some kind, consistent testing repeated by others who are not emotionally involved in the outcome must be done. This is the difference between science and faith. Science (the process, not individuals) tries to falsify ideas, not to prove them.

Daniel Dickson-LaPrade says: "As for your assertion that firsthand, phenomenological experience ("introspection") cannot yield knowledge about anything other than "our own mental life," this is simply false. For example, there is no possible way to study such phenomena as religious experience or dreams WITHOUT the use of such reported introspection. Otherwise, how could we operationally define religious experiences or dreams, the very things which we are investigating?"

Ariex: You defeat your own position and you don't even realize it. The issue is KNOWELEDGE, not defining. You can examine subjective experiences every which way but loose but you can't tell whether they are the product of your own mind and nothing more, or....something else. Thus, no matter how well you think you understand them, you are still using a "rubber ruler", measuring your own understanding, not the thing you are trying to measure.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 8:55:38 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
You are right that citing the consensus of evolutionary biologists when arguing for that theory is not a fallacy, since these people have firsthand experience of the theory. And that is precisely my point: when thousands of people have firsthand experience relating to theistic questions, citing them is not an ad populum fallacy, either. Their experiences may be wrongly interpreted, but their belief is not SOLELY a matter of wishful thinking and tradition, and their views on theism carry more weight than those of just any Sunday Christian.

"When a geneticist looks at DNA, she's looking at OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE, not some ambiguous feeling inside her head." You are here drawing a dichotomy that will not fly. When you HEAR God's voice speaking to you--an experience shared by fully one-fifth of people in the US-there is nothing "ambiguous" about it. I see no reason to identify this PERCEPTION with some actual deity, but it is certainly nothing like, e.g., a vague sense of ennui.

Further, as philosophers of science have argued for decades, all scientific observation is theory-laden to some extent. Before Darwin, variation in biological populations was treated as an epiphenomenon. Before the Weinberg-Salam electroweak theory, weak neutral currents were thought to be mere noise, a "neutron background." After Darwin, Weinberg, and Salam, these examples of epiphenomenal "noise" came to be important phenomena for scientists to study.

Observations can't become DATA unless they are coded in some way, and they can't be coded without some kind of prior theory.

"in order to achieve reliable results, OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE of some kind, consistent testing repeated by others who are not emotionally involved in the outcome must be done."
But what of computer analogies in cognitive psychology? Richard Boyd calls these "theory-constitutive metaphors," since, at least until recently, there was no way to "cash out" such metaphors into a detailed literal description of actual cognitive and neurophysiological mechanisms. "Genetic code" served, in the mid-20th century, a similar function.
Metaphor and Thought

Now, you are quite right that science must ultimately cash these things out empirically--but how could this same cashing-out be applied to moral codes, or to ideas about how to live a fulfilling and meaningful life? By measuring consequences?

But which consequences, and whose consequences, and according to what timeframe, and by way of what metric? Take, for example, Thomas Merton's assertion that we cannot lead a truly fulfilling and meaningful life except insofar as we are willing to live for others, to sacrifice our own desires and satisfactions for those around us?
Love and Living

I can imagine no empirical way to confirm OR disconfirm such an assertion once and for all. It can, however, be (dis)confirmed phenomenologically, that is, according to the subject's first-person conscious experience: having lived more or less in keeping with such a rule, have I found life more or less fulfilling, enjoyable, meaningful, and effective. Further, I can compare my own life experience regarding this rule with the experiences of others, thereby strengthening a (dis)confirmation.

In this way, assertions about how to live pleasurably, meaningfully, and morally are not often amenable to empirical investigation. Instead, such assertions must be tested by individuals according to their own experiences. In other words, just as scientific knowledge-claims are to be ultimately adjudicated empirically, so moral and soteriological knowledge-claims must be adjudicated phenomenologically. This is why religious authorities involving themselves in empirical questions, and naturalists involving themselves in moral and soteriological questions, always produce such facile, idiotic, and ineffective results.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2013 1:10:32 PM PST
DDL-P: You are right that citing the consensus of evolutionary biologists when arguing for that theory is not a fallacy, since these people have firsthand experience of the theory. And that is precisely my point: when thousands of people have firsthand experience relating to theistic questions, citing them is not an ad populum fallacy, either. Their experiences may be wrongly interpreted, but their belief is not SOLELY a matter of wishful thinking and tradition, and their views on theism carry more weight than those of just any Sunday Christian.

Rachel: I wonder about your reasoning here. I doubt that a scientific theory could be "experienced." Evolutionary biologists are indeed authorities, not due to experience but because they are more familiar with the evidence supporting the theory than laypeople are.

By contrast, no one is an expert in an area which is most likely entirely confabulated. The beliefs of people who have "experienced" God have no more weight than do the beliefs of any run-of-the-mill Christian because there is no independent corroboration possible of that experience. Since that "experience" can be artificially recreated in a laboratory setting leads me to conclude that religious belief is not necessarily due to wishful thinking or mental illness, but religious experience is a distinct phenomenon most likely due to biochemical reactions in the individual brain.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 6:17:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 6:18:39 AM PST
Ambulocetus says:
"By contrast, no one is an expert in an area which is most likely entirely confabulated. The beliefs of people who have 'experienced' God have no more weight than do the beliefs of any run-of-the-mill Christian because there is no independent corroboration possible of that experience. Since that 'experience' can be artificially recreated in a laboratory setting leads me to conclude that religious belief is not necessarily due to wishful thinking or mental illness, but religious experience is a distinct phenomenon most likely due to biochemical reactions in the individual brain."

There has not been much luck in producing religious experiences in the lab--although I have no doubt that such recreations will be possible in the future, once we know more about how such experiences work.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet#Failed_replication_and_subsequent_debate

Further, there IS independent corroboration. Anyone who feels that they have experienced some deity or other can go to the experiences of others--from Theresa of Avila to Meister Eckhardt, and from St. John of the Cross to Pseudo-Dionysius--to see how well these experiences match up. Further, insofar as the content of these experiences of, say, the Christian God matches up with what should be EXPECTED of such experiences on the basis of Christian doctrine, there is also independent confirmation. Again, I don't think that either the experience or the doctrine reflect anything about reality, but merely calling one a hallucination and the other a fallacy is not enough to robustly refute both.

People want to assert that religious beliefs are intrinsically separable from political, personal, social, philosophical, and scientific beliefs, and that of these, only the religious ones are entirely based on indoctrination and wishful thinking, able to be eliminated from the culture without affecting anything else or without loss to the culture. This seems to me just a little bit too easy.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 6:34:18 AM PST
Brian Curtis says:
Millions of people also believe that that UFO abductions have occurred; that a global flood occurred; and that Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

"Personal experience" of something is not equivalent to scentific expertise... especially considering the UFO example and what know about how flawed both perception and memory are in humans. If a million people report 'religious experiences,' all we know is that people are reporting something We still know nothing about what they've actually experienced (if anything), because they have no evidence.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 7:02:42 AM PST
goblue says:
>>Chant these words frequently, and your life will be sublime:
> There is no reason to believe in deities.
> No positive evidence has ever been presented,
> therefore, a positive claim is unjustified.>>

But do you have any evidence for these claims? I would not want to repeat something unless I knew ti was true.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 7:03:50 AM PST
goblue says:
<<Jack Vix says: There is no reason to believe in deities. No positive evidence has ever been presented, therefore, a positive claim is unjustified>>

Do you have evidence for this positive claim?

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 8:25:54 AM PST
Brian Curtis says:
I see "goblue" is going to the be the handle of our newest atheist-hating sockpuppet.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 8:37:26 AM PST
Check out their Amazon page... it's blank.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  48
Initial post:  Nov 4, 2012
Latest post:  Jan 14, 2013

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