On Fundamentalism.

I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, in fact I actually enjoy it.  I like talking to people with other views, even “out there” perspectives (unless they’re assholes about it of course).  I just did a blog about a civil discussion with a birther the other day and I just debated in two blogs with a 9/11 truther.  I don’t dislike people for disagreeing with me.  So when I say I don’t like fundamentalism it’s not because I’m not a fundamentalist and “we” don’t like “them” or any of that entrenched ideological BS.

The problem with fundamentalism (strict, literal adherence to a doctrine such as the bible) is that it virtually always means ignorance or hypocrisy or both, and is almost always accompanied by closed-mindedness.  I will try to explain why.  It is nearly impossible for someone with a strict, literal interpretation of scripture to go year after year not being exposed to something which invalidates that theological premise.  If we took the bible completely literally we would think the world is flat and has four corners.  We would think illness is caused by demons and witches are real (and should be killed on sight).  We would believe many absurd things. 

We would also take passages about moving mountains as saying that believers have fearsome telekinetic powers. 

And we would interpret Jesus’ words at the last supper as a call to cannibalism.  The idea that the bible (or any similar text) is to be taken strictly literally is, I posit, self-evidently absurd.  What separates a fundamentalist from a non-fundamentalist is how they react when they come across these things.  A fundamentalist with become all entrenched and go into “rationalize and compartmentalize” mode.  A moderate, reasonable person will honestly look at the evidence and objectively think about it.  They will care more about finding the truth (whatever it is) than maintaining their own belief.

This is the difference between a fundamentalist and a non-fundamentalist, and it is also the difference between a reasonable person and an unreasonable one.  More often than not fundamentalists are not honestly trying to adhere to a literal theology, they are just going into panic-mode and refusing to consider other points of view.  I have never met a fundamentalist who did not immediately say some parts of the bible are metaphors or shouldn’t be followed when pressed about a controversial point (thus it is hypocritical).  Fundamentalists decry the absolute will of god that must urgently and fervently be obeyed… but only when dealing with scripture they agree with.  This may not be entirely due to hypocrisy however, as many fundamentalists have simply not been exposed to the whole of scripture, and so they think the bits they’ve been raised with (which they agree with because they’ve been raised to believe in them) are 100% good and thus honestly believe out of ignorance that 100% of scripture is agreeable.

But most fundamentalists in my experience are aware of bits of scripture that they do not agree with and secular evidence that contradicts a literal interpretation, and/or come across them in discussion.  Those fundamentalists do not strive to follow every letter of scripture or believe in it literally, but invoke the idea of fundamentalism to justify claims they cannot defend any other way.  This may be why fundamentalism is associated more with the nastiness of organized religion, anti-civil rights movements and general Phelps-family-like behavior.  You don’t have to invoke god’s will to justify an idea or policy which is perfectly reasonable, most people will easily agree with you.  But invoking things like god’s will or nationalism is often the only way to gain support for unreasonable policies and ideas.

This leaves closed-mindedness (of the things I mentioned earlier).  I have taken an interest in why people believe the things they do for many years now, and I have found that faith is more often than not a very emotional and psychological phenomenon moreso than a philosophical one.  When I say psychological I do not mean to imply that religious people are insane, everyone has a psychology.  In my experience people tend to believe in yahweh over allah or allah over vishnu etc for one of two main reasons – the first (and most common) is simply how they were raised. 

Have you ever thought about the math of the religious makeup of a country?  If 70% of a country’s people are christian, about 70% of the next generation will be christian.  If 90% of a country is muslim, about 90% of the next generation will be muslim, and so on.  This to me suggests very strongly that religious belief is by and large a thing of chance, because if you were raised by hindu parents you would almost certainly be hindu, and the same is true of other faiths.  And this is due to the psychology of youth, when we are young we do not have the capability of critically thinking about what we are taught.  We are impressionable, easily molded.

Maybe 90% of the time people believe what they were raised to believe.  But that does not account for all believers.  In my experience those who convert in adulthood without any indoctrination always see their faith as a profound tool not just for happiness, but emotional survival.  This is why faith is often compared to a crutch, many religious people openly admit to feeling they need faith to get through their day, and think that they would collapse without it.  Many of these types of believers are or were at one point, fundamentalist.  Whether someone sees a belief as a vital way to cope with life’s difficulties, a way to have a sense of direction, a way to feel safe, or whether it’s just important to their sense of identity, they will see anything that jeopardizes that belief as a threat.  This is why fundamentalism tends to be very closed-off and fundamentalists tend to not be interested in other points of view. 

I saw a video on youtube awhile ago that got me thinking, and eventually lead me to write this blog.  It was a video attacking evolution.  The transcript for the video was in the comment section, and it began:

“FIVE SIMPLE QUESTIONS If you cannot answer these questions with scientific fact and scientific accuracy – then perhaps you might wish to rethink your own beliefs regarding evolution. (BTW – no evo believer has done it, yet.)”

The “questions” were all easily answered and were very hackneyed objections I had seen refuted many times, and refuted many of them myself… many times.  Out of curiosity I scrolled down to see what the responses in the comment section were, and found:

“Adding comments has been disabled for this video.”

The video author demanded answers, then blocked people from giving them.  I was not surprised, this mentality is very, very common among people with fundamentalist views.  And I think it is because they see things which contradict their views as a threat.  Whereas I see things which contradict my views as an opportunity to learn something new.  And that to me seems the crux of the issue.  It’s not about whether you think there’s a god or you don’t or you call it allah or call it yahweh or accept science or don’t.  The important thing is not that you reach a particular conclusion, it’s your fundamental attitude toward reality – do you want to know what’s true, even if your “truth” is proven false?  Or do you just want to be left alone to believe what you believe?

Most atheists (there are exceptions) tend to be open-minded, but I do not believe this is because atheism somehow makes you open-minded.  It is rather because in this country at least, at this precise point in history, most atheists were not raised atheists, but changed their mind at some point in their life – mostly for rational reasons.  Atheism is I believe the symptom of open-mindedness, not the thing itself.

No one should be a fundamentalist if they care about the truth.  And while life can be horrific at times, for some more than others – most of the time it is not a nightmare.  And so for anyone who puts these kinds of walls up to protect themselves or clings to a set of beliefs, just know that you can let go.

And no I don’t mean stop being christian.  I just mean stop clinging to a belief or idea or mentality for dear life. 

Because the world has enough rigid, intractable people.  And can always use more open, reasonable people.

I hope I didn’t offend anyone with this blog, that was honestly not my intention.  I am just delving into some of my thoughts on the issue.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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45 Responses to On Fundamentalism.

  1. TheSaltMine says:

     Atheism is I believe the symptom of open-mindedness, not the thing itself.”I have been looking for a good way to say that for along time. Thank you. Also, that was a mouthful, but enjoyable. 

  2. maniacsicko says:

    i disagreejust because you said you enjoy people doing soXD

  3. That’s exactly right!Fundamentalists believe in actual reality rather than the hallucinated reality of atheists.

  4. I think this is at the very center of the peculiar reactions we have seen to events in the last few days. Obama released his long form Birth Certificate and still 49% of republicans polled don’t beleive Obama was born in America. This wasn’t really suprising.Obama got Osama and I can name a couple of right wingers on xanga who appeared to have mental breakdowns upon hearing the news (from what they posted). This was perplexing to me. This was a good thing yet because Obama did it I guess it clashed so profoundly against their beleifs that Obama is a anti-american/muslim/evil/communist/nazi….their brains just couldn’t handle the contradiction to the worldview they had created and they simply flipped out unable to reconsile.

  5. A_Bella_Loca says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post.

  6. agnophilo says:

    @TheSaltMine – You’re welcome.  And yeah I did go on a bit in this one.  I added pictures to lighten it up a bit.@maniacsicko – Heh : )  Thanks.@tendollar4ways – True, though I haven’t seen those blogs.  Haven’t seen the reaction to bin laden being captured on the blogosphere yet.  Reminds me of something colbert said about it though, “The new obama hunts down terrorist extremists – I miss the old obama who was a terrorist extremist”.  Thankfully the spin doctors will tend to their patients and give them some relief.@A_Bella_Loca – You’re welcome : )

  7. @agnophilo – I thought ShamelesslyRed’s head was going to explode. The Doc’s are already fast at work. Levin, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity etc are furiously administering Morphine as we speak. I keep thinking…this has to backfire at some point and people are gonna take a step back and snap out of their traze and realise they are being played the fool.The thing about hypnosis though is that you must be open to suggestion. It is willful and there is no shortage of dealers willing to supply whatever is demanded.

  8. agnophilo says:

    @tendollar4ways – I keep waiting for something like that to happen, but beliefs tend to change over generations unfortunately, not weeks and months.

  9. Crono09 says:

    This is an excellent post, and it’s a great explanation of how religion can be misued to be destructive. I don’t really oppose religion in general, and I find that it usually neutral and sometimes even beneficial to the world. However, I see no redeeming qualities in fundamentalism since ignorance and oppression are essential to it. You’ve done a very good job of explaining why that is the case.

  10. agnophilo says:

    @Crono09 – I think belief is one thing, and organized belief is another.  If someone simply holds an opinion, that is a philosophy.  If a hundred people get together and sing songs about that opinion, reinforce it, are told they must believe it or they will burn in hell etc – that’s got a lot more to do with in-group psychology, fear, peer pressure etc than just a simple, honest opinion.

  11. Landon76 says:

    I really liked, and actually appreciated this post. Most Christians grow up and are forced to become Christians. Maybe not from their parents either, but from the strain that being a Christian can bring if you don’t read into the bible, open-minded. Like many people interpret it to each other as. Especially the fear of condemnation or looking foolish. Im a Christian and i look at my “fellow” Christians and think about how much they’re missing from it. They are fearful and unable to make and form clear and concise opinions from what they believe. I think it’s from a completely literal and only objective perspective view of the bible, or just the opposite that brings all of this confusion. I have been or try to be open-minded to just about every religion i hear about or lack of them (without making rash or sudden assumptions or decisions) and it brings a very nice peace along with it. Not only does it challenge me, but i have amazing relationships with people that believe completely different things than i do.  I guess what i am saying, is that my beliefs Have helped me throughout life and brought a peace and love that i cannot fully express. The reason is not only the things i believe but what you were explaining about keeping an open mind as well. I am free of any fear in my opinions and eagerly explain or debate them with others as well as eagerly taking in and hearing what they have to say as well.So.. that’s my two cents.Anyways, thanks

  12. agnophilo says:

    @Landon76 – Welcs.  I think the bible contains a lot of beautiful ideas, and a lot of horrible ones.  It is, after all, many books, not one.  One thing that bugs me about modern evangelism is the insistence that being christian is not just something that will make you happy or give your life purpose or help you be good, but that it is the only way to find meaning or happiness or be moral.  This is just not at all true.I think a lot of frustrated apologists put down science, put down other views, and put down reality to try to make people desperate for what they call “faith”, something to cling to fearfully.It’s like poisoning someone and then saying “you’re lucky you met me, I have an antedote!”

  13. Landon76 says:

    @agnophilo – It’s so true! And it makes me furious. If someone want’s to believe, awesome. If they want to talk about it, alright great!  If they don’t, im not going to preach to them like i am somehow better in any way and know all of the answers.Plus, i look for the science in Christianity. It would be foolish to to so otherwise. Like you said, others grasp unto a sense of this religion (or others) as fulfillment when they fail to see why. And from that they don’t have a clue what they even believe. Like it’s an insta-cureIt works for me, i believe in God, and honestly i feel a peace and comfort from it. Whether it is a made up fiction that gives a motive to be honest and loving, or a true, beautiful fact, it has made my life wonderful. Which should be the main point, love. Which Anyone can have. The logic of God just gives me an amazing perspective on it. Not a twisted and false sense of a God needing you to fear him and do multiple things to gain his love or you’re automatically sent to die eternally in hell. That’s pretty sick. So yes, Christians have made and changed a lot to make them feel extra important (false sense of happiness), bible beating and singling out included.

  14. “Most atheists (there are exceptions) tend to be open-minded, but I do not believe this is because atheism somehow makes you open-minded.  It is rather because in this country at least, at this precise point in history, most atheists were not raised atheists, but changed their mind at some point in their life – mostly for rational reasons.  Atheism is I believe the symptom of open-mindedness, not the thing itself.”Awesome post. I am recommending it, and posting it to my Facebook.

  15. p.s. Is the quote from the novel Ishmael?

  16. agnophilo says:

    @Landon76 – Objectivity can be a bummer since a lot of aspects of reality suck, but objectivity is the only way to keep one’s feet on the ground.  I would much rather face the harshness of life than be lost forever in a comforting fantasy.  Which is not to say that I am against fantasy, I’m not.  But it’s harmful when people confuse it with reality.  Fantasizing about winning the lottery is one thing, convincing yourself you have when you haven’t is a delusion.  I don’t believe in any of the supernatural stuff in christianity or any other religion though, I think people take it too literally.  As a metaphor a lot of it makes more sense.  Jesus actually makes more sense if you assume he is a pantheist with buddhist/taoist type ideas.@PilgrimOfTruth – Just gimme credit and link to it on facebook please.  And thanks : )@PilgrimOfTruth – What quote?  If you mean the bit you just quoted I just wrote it.

  17. Truly wish I could rec this twice.

  18. I enjoyed reading this thoughtful post.  I am fortunate to have a personal relationship with the Spirit of God, having had to swim through so much misinformation and poor teaching during my life.  I am convinced that Our Creator desires us to think, to question, to inquire, even to demand the freedom to seek out the truth.  And fundamentalists tend to quash such things when they can.  Offend them?   That’s OK by me.

  19. YouToMe says:

    I read every word! Give me a medal. Hahahah :)No, but seriously, one of your best blogs. Wish could rec few times. Of course you know re: my faith. Still, I respect scientific inquiry and logic. p.s. it’s hard to talk to you ” and you” at same time! Haha

  20. @agnophilo – No the quote that is in the black box with the gorilla.

  21. agnophilo says:

    @GodlessLiberal – Thanks : )@onjerusalemhill – Heh.@estadquietos – : P  Deja vu.@PilgrimOfTruth – Oh, I have no idea.  Google it and see : )

  22. tinkerrbella says:

    At one time I went to a fundamentalist church. It’s amazing how closed they are to other religions or opinions, and how they use fear to control people. They talk a lot about “Truth”, but when confronted with anything that doesn’t go along with their line of thinking or with facts that prove them wrong, they get pissy and throw scriptures at you that supposedly support their views. I’m an atheist now, and look back at that time in my life and wonder what was wrong with me that I went along with that crap. Anyway, great post. Wish I could give you more than one rec  🙂

  23. LovesTwo says:

    First of all – you are utterly brilliant.Second – “Many of these types of believers are or were at one point, fundamentalist.  Whether someone sees a belief as a vital way to cope with life’s difficulties, a way to have a sense of direction, a way to feel safe, or whether it’s just important to their sense of identity, they will see anything that jeopardizes that belief as a threat.” I fully admit I was fundamentalist at one point, no longer though.  Thankfully that stage didn’t last long for me.  I haven’t decided yet if I did myself a great disservice by going through it.  Bookending that stage I was agnostic or atheist for quite awhile.  I’ve settled into my current religious pluralism, though, and will probably be here for the rest of my life.  I’m sure you’re wondering where I’m getting at with my rambling.  Don’t worry, we’ve arrived at a point.  My faith is a crucial part of my identity, sure.  But because of my life experiences (to borrow an overused phrase), I don’t feel threatened when someone says something different than what I believe.  Belief (or the lack of) is very personal and I’m not sure people recognize that.  There’s no “one size fits all” in religion; at least, there isn’t for me or anyone else I know.  That’s the beauty of it.

  24. Randy7777 says:

    I think I get you on this one.  Didn’t read all of it – too long – I may come back and read more later.  The Bible talks about literal things, symbolic and historical.  A student of the Bible would know which is which.  I looked up the definition of  fundamentalist  and I get something way different than the definition you’re stating.  For the record I don’t believe the Bible is to be taken completely literally.       Anyone reading this should go to a dictionary.  If a person is calling themselves a  fundamentalist and taking the Bible completely literal, I would say that person is wrong.  The Bible is a mystery to be figured out.  Every verse has another verse that sheds more light on it.   

  25. @agnophilo – Where did you find the picture?If you can point me in the right direction with regards to the photograph I may be able to track it down more easily.So far the only place I have found the quote is in encyclopedia articles where it is offered as a definition of fundamentalism. Ironically enough the quote is specifically used to criticize certain brands of atheism, namely that of Richard Dawkins.

  26. leaflesstree says:

    This post is very well stated, well written, and logical, which means it will of course completely fail to change any fundamentalists’ thoughts on anything, unfortunately. I think people often overlook the idea that fundamentalism isn’t limited to religion – to Christians or Muslims or any other religion – but it can be a very limiting mindset that anyone might develop. It’s quite common in politics, where those who are so fully entrenched in the war between the left and the right fail to see that there might be merits to the other side’s position if they could just step outside the bickering for a few minutes. It’s kind of scary how some people are unable to accept new things and ideas, when new things and ideas happen all the time.

  27. kk_grayfox says:

    Your point about people generally being raised into religion and/or philosophy is something I’ve observed quite a bit. I remember when I was a kid and generally associated with Christianity just because my parents were more-or-less Christian, and I asked my dad a question on some issue: “Dad, what do we believe about this?” His reply confused me: “No son. It’s not what we believe, but what you believe.” “No really dad, what do we believe about this?” He repeated the same thing. It really shocked me to think of things that way. In retrospect I really appreciate my dad saying that because it’s resulted in me coming to believe in God via my own conclusions (rather than by default), and now even he and I disagree on several issues (which is great!). I find it disturbing when I meet someone parroting their parent’s or pastor’s/priest’s/rabbi’s/etc. beliefs. It’s especially discomforting when the beliefs they’re espousing deal with things in the sociopolitical sphere like why they think homosexuality is evil or why evolution is from the devil. And that can be completely without a religious basis (e.g. I have a friend who’s an atheist/agnostic who’s against homosexual marriage simply because that’s the default conservative political position).

  28. kk_grayfox says:

    @leaflesstree – Very true. I find it occurring quite often even in my field of science as well, which seems ironic in many senses, but more so a testament to the fact that humans are often prone to fundamentalism.

  29. wizexel22 says:

    I think some of the extrapolations you make on fundamentalism don’t lead to necessarily to your conclusions…but I get your point.”This is why faith is often compared to a crutch”Everything in the universe that helps one get through this life is a crutch.”Most atheists (there are exceptions) tend to be open-minded” …”Atheism is I believe the symptom of open-mindedness”I completely disagree. One’s metaphysics is just as influential on their atheistic beliefs as the average religious person. To dismiss this idea, as most atheists do, is delusional.I don’t think conversion in an adult stage is any kind of evidence of such a phenomenon. There are also adults who convert to Christianity based in rational thought. In both cases, neither are evidence for their case. Since the possibility of the existence of God is outside the bounds of natural science, then the most open minded response would be to say “I don’t know”….not atheism, strong or weak. A strong atheist rejects the possibility of the existence of God, a belief that isn’t even logical…..let alone “open-minded”. The weak atheist will say “I cannot believe in God unless I see proof of God”. This also isn’t the most open-minded position either. If I say “I do not believe that Jessica Alba is beautiful unless someone can prove she is beautiful”   ….would you consider that openminded?”The “questions” were all easily answered and were very hackneyed objections I had seen refuted many times, and refuted many of them myself… many times.”I just watched the video…..so what are the answers to those questions? It seems these are the 5 questions….1. Where did the first matter come from?2. How did the first living organisms arise? (specifically the issue of how the first RNA molecule was formed…and also if you could elaborate on the probabilities of the formation of the first living organisms genome and its probability of evolving into the human genome of today)3. An example of an evolutionary mechanism which shows an increase in useful information?4. Asks for a verifiable transitional fossil. (As I am sure you will name some supposed pure transitional fossils, can you explain why even assuming those fossils are 100% verified as pure transitional organisms (of which I have yet to see proof of despite a good amount of research), why there is no clear mechanism in place that can rigorously show the transition? ie, why is there no mechanism for  the evolution/origin of avian flight?)5. Asks about the origin of quantum particles.On #1 and #5, I disagree with that video……I don’t think this has anything to do with evolutionary theory whatsoever. #5 is purely within the realm of cosmology and physics. However, I think #1 is a relevant question for any atheist who claims that their belief is based purely on science and reason. “I just mean stop clinging to a belief or idea or mentality for dear life.” “Because the world has enough rigid, intractable people.  And can always use more open, reasonable people.”I totally agree. But I’m just saying I don’t think atheists in general are as open-minded as you think, or as open-minded they claim to be.

  30. ithiliya says:

    I’ll admit, I have a lot of difficulty with the “crutch” type of religious person that you mentioned.  A few days ago, I saw a comment from a young lady in her mid-to-late teens talking about how she was raised secular and converted to Christianity because she couldn’t bear the thought of there being nothing after death.  She seemed very sweet, but to me, this is like believing in unicorns because they are awesome and life would just be too bleak without them.  On that same token, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone equate atheism with “hopelessness” for the same reason.  This just boggles my mind.  To me, it sounds like they are openly admitting “life sucks, so I’m just gonna take someone’s made-up shit and believe it as literal truth to escape that fact”.  There are so many beautiful things in this world… music, art, movies and television, our own personal relationships, stories, language, nature, the cosmos, and so forth… that I just can’t understand this idea that life is hopeless and empty without this belief.

  31. agnophilo says:

    @VioletEnigma – Thanks for the rec’ : )  And yeah I agree.  I dislike organized belief greatly.  Belief structures are much more harmful than even bad or dangerous ideas, and christianity and islam have been so horrendously twisted over the centuries.  Which I suppose is another thing that dogmatic belief structures make possible.@LovesTwo – First of all, thanks : )  Second of all, what do you mean by religious pluralism exactly, do you mean being accepting of various religions or having a mishmash of personal beliefs which take from several religion.  I assume you mean the first since that is usually how the word is used, but just thought I’d ask.  And yeah, fundamentalist religion tends to be “one size better fit all or else”@Randy7777 – Every definition I can find is basically what I gave for fundamentalism, with slight variations.  And while I think your attitude is better than fundamentalists, it is important to note that just because an interpretation of the bible is false, wicked or absurd, does not automatically mean that that is not what the text was meant to convey.  It is a series of bronze and iron age texts, if it talks about killing witches it’s probably because they believed in that stuff back then.@PilgrimOfTruth – Found it in a google image search, but by modifying the link I found the page it’s on (link).  Don’t think it will help though.And dawkins is not a fundamentalist, he has no doctrine to adhere to.  He doesn’t even dogmatically assert that there is no god.  The “atheists are fundamentalists” and “evolution is a religion” and “you take atheism on faith” stuff is just projection.  It’s the fundamentalist equivalent of “I know you are but what am I”.

  32. Randy7777 says:

    @agnophilo –  Where is your source for the definition of fundamentalism?  The entire Bible is true. The Bible translates the Bible. Any translation outside of the Bible is falsehood.  I’m amazed at your fascination of the Bible.  I can’t let it go either.  Even though you come at it as proving it false, it still helps me sharpen what I believe.  I guess that’s a good goal for all of us.  -thanks

  33. agnophilo says:

    @leaflesstree – True.@kk_grayfox – I’ve never before heard of an atheist being anti-gay.  Knew they had to exist somewhere, but they’re apparently rare.  But yeah, sounds like you had a good dad : )  I started arguing with my father about religion, and after about the second time I basically never heard from him again (parents divorced).  Later my mom told me he had told her that if his kid wasn’t catholic, they were no longer his kid.  I was like “well hell why didn’t you tell me that years ago”, lol.  He was the kind of father who can only help their kids by not being there. But that’s not why I’m an atheist.  Btw if you ever want someone else to disagree with you about religion, PM me : P@kk_grayfox – I wouldn’t think you would see it in science as much, though I’m sure it does happen.@wizexel22 – “Everything in the universe that helps one get through this life is a crutch.”Yes, though a crutch is supposed to be temporary by it’s nature.  And the danger of a belief-crutch is that it can lead to self-delusion.  There has to be some degree of objectivity.”I completely disagree. One’s metaphysics is just as influential on their atheistic beliefs as the average religious person. To dismiss this idea, as most atheists do, is delusional.”So you disagree that atheists are generally open-minded, and if they don’t agree then they’re deluded?  Okay…And having an opinion does not make one closed-minded, unwillingness to consider alternatives does.  I also am not sure in what sense you mean metaphysical.”I don’t think conversion in an adult stage is any kind of evidence of such a phenomenon. There are also adults who convert to Christianity based in rational thought. In both cases, neither are evidence for their case.” Never found a rational reason to convert to christianity, and I think I’ve heard every possible argument at this point.”Since the possibility of the existence of God is outside the bounds of natural science, then the most open minded response would be to say “I don’t know”….not atheism, strong or weak.” Someone can say “I don’t know… but I do not believe x either”.  Virtually all atheists are agnostic atheists, they say “I do not know if there is a god, but I am not convinced there is one.”  Atheists are also often strawmanned as asserting “I know there is no god”, but virtually no atheists say this.”A strong atheist rejects the possibility of the existence of God, a belief that isn’t even logical…..let alone “open-minded”.” I agree.  As do most atheists.  Remember I did not say “all atheists are open-minded”, I just said they generally tend to be.  And that was not a central point of my thesis.”The weak atheist will say “I cannot believe in God unless I see proof of God”. This also isn’t the most open-minded position either. If I say “I do not believe that Jessica Alba is beautiful unless someone can prove she is beautiful”   ….would you consider that openminded?”No, I would call you stupid for demanding objective proof of a subjective opinion.  Which is in no way comparable to demanding objective evidence to support an objective claim.  Claims about reality are not considered true until proven false, they are considered false until proven true, which is why we don’t all believe in zeus, bigfoot, nessy, the abominable snowman and about a billion other things that cannot be disproven.”I just watched the video…..so what are the answers to those questions? It seems these are the 5 questions…. 1. Where did the first matter come from?”Irrelevant to evolution.”2. How did the first living organisms arise? (specifically the issue of how the first RNA molecule was formed…and also if you could elaborate on the probabilities of the formation of the first living organisms genome and its probability of evolving into the human genome of today)”This is above my head, but here is a good video explaining one current model, the first third or so of the video deals with creationist strawmen.  It is also known that organic chemicals, acids, proteins and the components of chemicals like RNA spontaneously form in nature, and a lot of things are being discovered along the lines of abiogenesis.”3. An example of an evolutionary mechanism which shows an increase in useful information?”Mutation and selection have been known for decades to do this in every possible sense of the word “information”.  Creationists just say “that’s not real information” and then refuse to define “information”, and usually then change the subject.  This is why the comments were disabled.”4. Asks for a verifiable transitional fossil. (As I am sure you will name some supposed pure transitional fossils, can you explain why even assuming those fossils are 100% verified as pure transitional organisms (of which I have yet to see proof of despite a good amount of research),” I doubt this.  No offense, but I also doubt you even know what the term transitional fossil even means – most people don’t.  Here and here are two blogs I did on the subject.”why there is no clear mechanism in place that can rigorously show the transition? ie, why is there no mechanism for  the evolution/origin of avian flight?)”That is also not a coherent idea.  Mutation, selection etc are perfectly sufficient explanations.  Or are you espousing the “half a wing is useless” argument?”5. Asks about the origin of quantum particles.”Also irrelevant to evolution.”On #1 and #5, I disagree with that video……I don’t think this has anything to do with evolutionary theory whatsoever.” Thank you.”#5 is purely within the realm of cosmology and physics. However, I think #1 is a relevant question for any atheist who claims that their belief is based purely on science and reason.”Not really.  Not being able to explain the origin of matter no more indicates the existence of yahweh than not being able to explain the origin of lightning indicates the existence of zeus.  It’s the argument from ignorance fallacy.”I totally agree. But I’m just saying I don’t think atheists in general are as open-minded as you think, or as open-minded they claim to be.”I think most atheists are generally open and reasonable, and the ones that are accused of being militant fanatical crazy people are typically very reasonable.

  34. @agnophilo – Dawkins himself rejects the assertion, claiming that he is not a fundamentalist because if empirical evidence were discovered that refuted his ideas he would gladly change them.I agree with both Dawkins and you on this point, I was just interested by the fact that I found the quote being used to refute atheism, and that you used the quote to support your atheism.It is ironic because in one case the person was using the quote to challenge non-belief in a deity, and you are using it to challenge a strict belief in a deity.

  35. agnophilo says:

    @ithiliya – I know what you mean.  As someone once said, faith in god is often meant to make up for lost faith in oneself.  Who would fervently hope for another life who hadn’t given up on finding meaning and happiness in this one?  @Randy7777 – I linked to my source in the first comment.  This is a link: LINK  And I’m not particularly fascinated by the bible, nor yahweh – religion, however, is a real and powerful force in the world which I try to understand.  This blog is about fundamentalism and barely touches on theology.  But thanks for condescending all the same.

  36. agnophilo says:

    @PilgrimOfTruth – This blog was not championing atheism, I think you maybe need to read it again, lol.  And an atheist can be a fundamentalist, though atheism (and further skepticism and free thought in general) do not generally lend themselves to the kind of dogmatic belief structure required for fundamentalism.  If an atheist gives their opinion, it is understood to be just that – their opinion.  There is no way to easily translate x atheist’s opinion into infallible dogma you must accept “or else” unless there’s something else going on, some ideology.  Communism became a sort of secular fundamentalism in my opinion.  But atheism itself is not a belief system or ideology.  It’s not even an assertion really, just non-acceptance of other assertions.

  37. Randy7777 says:

    @agnophilo – You tend to see my words as negative (condesending). Not my intention.  I was making a complement – you cause me to think.  Please don’t take it any other way.   Concerning:  90 percent believe what they were raised to believe. I agree. In fact studies have shown what a person believes at 6th grade will be their life long belief. 

  38. wizexel22 says:

    “So you disagree that atheists are generally open-minded, and if they don’t agree then they’re deluded?  Okay..”What I am saying is, the atheist presupposes that they are open-minded and not affected by their metaphysical views. Someone may think they are open-minded, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily are open-minded. We often don’t even realize our own biases. So yeah, if someone were to say “I have converted to atheism without any bias affecting my conclusion”…then yeah, its pretty safe to say that is delusional. (not saying they are crazy….just that they are deluded in that idea).”Never found a rational reason to convert to christianity, and I think I’ve heard every possible argument at this point.”One of the biggest misuse of terms I see in Xanga is to interchange the terms “irrational”, “unnatural”, “unscientific”, and “doesn’t make sense”. Irrational doesn’t mean any of those things. So many people are like “that makes no sense, that’s irrational”. Someone is irrational if they believe something even though there is strong evidence against the idea. Thus the belief that the world is flat, or that Santa Claus exists are irrational beliefs. By definition, God cannot fall in this category. So you have to use logic and reason to develop a rational belief in God. Now, again, people mistakenly say, “Christianity is illogical”.Even though I’m not a Christian, I don’t see anything illogical about Christianity….and in fact, among all the religions I’ve studied, Christianity is by far the most logical and rational. To say Christianity isn’t logical, well, that’s simply not true. It might not “make sense” to many people…but that doesn’t mean it is illogical. As long as it holds to the rules of logic, it is logical. Also, something being illogical doesn’t necessarily mean it is untrue or vice versa. For example, quantum mechanics doesn’t conform to our concept of classical logic, but that doesn’t mean it is untrue. #2: There is a reason theories on abiogenesis are simply skipped over in most high school and college level biology courses. Its not real science. Sorry but that video was entirely speculative and any molecular biologist would have to admit so. I found the video to be dishonest as well when at the end he prints in very huge bold letters…..”No ridiculous improbablity”.  …um….thats crazy. In addition to his idea being extremely speculative, the improbability of such a scenario is astronomical. He dismisses one improbability figure….his defense….”eh, its just a made up number”. Barrow and Tipler calculated many of these probabilities, and they weren’t two religious freaks, but two atheist physicists. But lets just arbitrarily assume they were totally wrong, lets say they were off on their calculations by a whopping 50%….even then, the probabilities are still mind bogglingly and astronomically high. Now in the video, he needs both repeated and compounded probabilities to make his scenario feasible. I think the video was a fine speculation, but it shouldn’t be used as any kind of evidence (and no objective molecular biologist would). And the fact that he put in huge letters at the end claiming “No ridiculous improbabilities” is very dishonest.#3: So what is the example? I have yet to see a change that was an actual INCREASE in information, not just a unilateral shift in information that generates change. And then again, the probability issue again arises in this area. Even in the unilateral shifts of information, say due to a point mutation, leading to change….it becomes increasingly improbable for the occurrence of a change due to multiple point mutations in succession. ie. Despite billions of generations of the protists that cause malaria….sickle celled hemoglobin is still immune to malaria, because in order for the protists to adapt in this manner, it would require more than 1 point mutation in succession. So in the study of parasitic organisms and viruses, in which billions of generations can be studied, it seems that even such mutations observed show the limitations of natural selection through random mutation rather than being evidence for it. (And speaking of sickle cell anemia, sometimes this condition is used as an evidence for beneficial mutation…..and yet again, their isn’t any increase of information, but a LOSS of information and as a result, the condition of sickle cell anemia, while resistant to malaria, is overall severely detrimental to the overall health of the individual. (Ok, I’m gonna go really fast and brief from now on, so hopefully you don’t think I’m trying to dodge an issue. I actually wrote out a super long response when my comp crashed and so this is my second time replying and I am running out of time.)” Mutation, selection etc are perfectly sufficient explanations”No they aren’t. Even among atheist evolutionary biologists, this is a controversial point.  There are plenty of atheist evolutionists that while they still reject the existence of God, do not accept natual selection and random mutation as sufficient mechanisms for the complexity we see today. – I’m not saying a half wing is useless. That is a totally fine argument to say a half wing can have function. However, the problems when analyzing the origin of avian flight really has nothing to do the function of a half wing and the origin of avian flight remains a mystery.””#5 is purely within the realm of cosmology and physics. However, I think #1 is a relevant question for any atheist who claims that their belief is based purely on science and reason.”Not really.  Not being able to explain the origin of matter no more indicates the existence of yahweh than not being able to explain the origin of lightning indicates the existence of zeus.  It’s the argument from ignorance fallacy.”I never made such an assertion. I’m simply saying that #5 does not have to be considered by a molecular biologist. However, it is in the realm of physics and cosmology, and there is research being done on this specific matter. But I never made any assertion from the inability of having an explanation for this. However, I included #1 and #5 as posed questions to you, because while it is not a concern of a molecular biologist……shouldn’t they be concerns for an atheist? Frank Tipler was an atheist who through his studies in physics converted to Christianity. He did not believe there could be natural reasons for the great improbabilities or impossibilities in the origin of matter and origin of life. Not arguing by authority here……but simply wanted to make a couple notes. Tipler’s conversion to Christianity has to be considered a conversion based in rationality.  And I also bring him up as leading into our final point of discussion. Tipler was basically outcast when he converted to Christianity. He talked about being ostracized by atheist scientists and how they would not even discuss physics with him. Does this sound open-minded?The reason I say all atheists are biased (and not target atheists……. all people are biased in their belief in one way or another….however, it is only the atheist that claims that their belief has no prior preferences and that they rely 100% on scientific evidence)…isn’t because I think atheists TRY to get to a certain point. However, IF there are evidences for the existence of God, it is bias that tends to subtly dismiss any arguments for the case. Don’t you think its reasonable to say there are many people in the world that DO NOT want there to be a God? Just as many atheists here on Xanga have had less than pleasant encounters with Christians, the religious, or fundamentalists. I have had a great number of unpleasant encounters with atheists. They don’t want to engage in discussion, but want to mock. When I want to talk about the science, they say I am not worth even talking to , because I’m a religious freak. I say I’m not religious at all……and so then I am labeled as an uneducated moron. Keep in mind, I am not advocating Creationism, ID or the existence of God…..but I get this response simply from questioning some problems in evolution or atheism. Again, I’m not trying to label all atheists in this boat either. But it is why I disagree that atheists are generally open-minded. I think we all have our biases and at the end of the day, a person believes what the WANT to believe. Also, let me add quickly to that…again, I’m not religious, or a Creationist, nor an ID proponent. What I find disturbing though is the complete lack of criticism of evolutionary theory. I’m not trying to get ID in schools……I don’t think it has a place in science classes. (However, I don’t think ID is a bunch of crap either, I think it can be introduced in a philosophy of science course). I think evolution should be taught. I think it is the best natural explanation of the world today. (Of course, I emphasize “natural” as such a proposition doesn’t exclude or negate supernatural explanations). Evolutionists say ID would make students dumb. But is avoiding any critical analysis of evolution a good thing…..especially when the critical thinking skills of American students are in decline? Such a critical analysis of evolution was introduced in Ohio, but the Ohio State Board of Education repealed and eliminated the benchmark. No critical analysis of evolution is allowed? Is this scientific? Is this open-minded? It seems to me that this is just the type of dogmatic indoctrination that atheists claim they oppose.

  39. striemmy says:

    I’ve talked with people on xanga that are professed atheists and are, at essence, fundamentalists. Confirmation bias exists on both ends of the scale, even in the intellectually inclined. I’ve even gotten to the point in discussion where an atheist will freely admit that they take scientific fact that they cannot (logistically speaking) or are unwilling to prove on faith. I think that first picture is absolutely awesome.

  40. kk_grayfox says:

    @agnophilo – “I’ve never before heard of an atheist being anti-gay.  Knew they had to exist somewhere, but they’re apparently rare. “I also met a young woman in an invertebrate zoology course I took who was bisexual and dating a woman at the time (and I also took her to be non-religious, though she may have some theistic beliefs), and she told me that she was against gay-marriage. She said she thought it was a holy ceremony and it shouldn’t be tainted by homosexuals. That confused me even more…lol.”I started arguing with my father about religion, and after about the second time I basically never heard from him again (parents divorced). Later my mom told me he had told her that if his kid wasn’t catholic, they were no longer his kid.”That’s incredibly unfortunate and I’m sorry to hear that. Parents can be terribly cruel and hypocritical sometimes.”Btw if you ever want someone else to disagree with you about religion, PM me : P”Haha! Well, yes, I’m think we’ve established that! I’ll definitely have you ‘on file’ if I want to hear a thought out atheist/agnostic perspective on some issue :)”I wouldn’t think you would see it in science as much, though I’m sure it does happen.”I don’t know how common it is in other fields (though I know I’ve seen it) but in mammalian evolution, morphological systematists/paleontologists and molecular systematists thoroughly disagree on the timing of the mammalian radiation. The former tends to think it occurred at about the K-T boundary, the latter think prior to the K-T boundary at around 80-90 Mya. Paleontologists point out, aptly, that the fossil record doesn’t show many of the orders existing so early, so they think that the molecular divergence estimations are far too liberal. My advisor was one of the molecular systematists that helped pioneer the pre-K-T model, and he thinks that those that disagree with him are more-or-less stuck in their ways and ignoring the evidence, but I assume the paleontological muckamucks feel the same way. A mammalian paleontologist I had during my undergrad years knew of my current advisor and seemed to have perhaps a bit of animosity towards him.Also, along those same lines, my advisor is soon going to publish the best resolved mammalian phylogeny to date (based on NSF’s Assembling the Tree of Life grant) which contains a representative from each mammalian family (I think about 169 taxa, but that may include the four outgroups) and is based on a supermatrix of 26 genes. The assumption is that any big science journal would want to publish something of such significance, but he says that either the editor at Science or the editor at Nature (I can’t remember which) is at such fundamental odds with him that he’s not going to bother submitting to that journal because he assumes it’ll be rejected (i.e. if the guy is at Science, he’s going to only submit it to Nature).I found what I perceived as fundamentalism within science as surprising, but at the same time I realized that this seems to be a very human characteristic. Perhaps its one of those, “I spent my whole life on this research supporting this theory, and nobody’s going to change my mind.” I suppose time will tell if we gather more evidence. Maybe the morphologists will concede the pre-K-T diversification hypothesis if they find a fossil or two of every order, or maybe the molecular phylogeneticists will concede the K-T diversification if someone shows why their models of molecular evolution are overshooting their estimates. Heck, at one point evolutionary biology was bitterly divided on how traits were inherited (was variation discrete or continuous?) and it wasn’t until 70 years after the publishing of the origin that scientists reconciled these two competing hypotheses (the Modern Synthesis of the 1930’s).

  41. agnophilo says:

    @Randy7777 – I’m sorry, it didn’t come across that way.  You said I sharpen what you believe, I thought you were saying “everything you say just makes me more sure I’m right” as many christians have said as a jab.  And the “I’m amazed at your fascination with the bible” line I thought was the old “If you don’t believe in god why are you obsessed with him” jab.The 6th grade thing is depressing – most people haven’t even started thinking about “their” beliefs by that age. “@wizexel22 – “What I am saying is, the atheist presupposes that they are open-minded and not affected by their metaphysical views. Someone may think they are open-minded, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily are open-minded. We often don’t even realize our own biases. So yeah, if someone were to say “I have converted to atheism without any bias affecting my conclusion”…then yeah, its pretty safe to say that is delusional. (not saying they are crazy….just that they are deluded in that idea).”Would you say that any christian who said they were open-minded is delusional?If not, then you are just being dickish and refusing to accept a positive statement about atheists.[“Never found a rational reason to convert to christianity, and I think I’ve heard every possible argument at this point.”]”One of the biggest misuse of terms I see in Xanga is to interchange the terms “irrational”, “unnatural”, “unscientific”, and “doesn’t make sense”. Irrational doesn’t mean any of those things. So many people are like “that makes no sense, that’s irrational”. Someone is irrational if they believe something even though there is strong evidence against the idea. Thus the belief that the world is flat, or that Santa Claus exists are irrational beliefs. By definition, God cannot fall in this category.” Depends on the god.  If you believe in a god who is all-powerful, ever-present, completely good and never lies who promised to protect the jews as his chosen people until the end of time… then the holocaust happens…  That’s pretty strong evidence against that particular kind of deity.  If you believe in a god that never lies and promises he will heal the sick in response to prayer, and study after study shows that remote prayer doesn’t even have a placebo effect…  that’s pretty overwhelming evidence against that proposition.You cannot disprove the existence of the god of the deist, but you can discredit the claims made about yahweh or any specific deity, as well as dismantling the arguments for the deistic god.  This is not hard.”So you have to use logic and reason to develop a rational belief in God. Now, again, people mistakenly say, “Christianity is illogical”.Even though I’m not a Christian, I don’t see anything illogical about Christianity…”You see nothing illogical about an all-powerful all-loving god demanding death for those who do not worship him, then after thousands of years of this, he suddenly decides to send his only son to us in human form to be tormented to death, which was necessary for him to change his mind and upgrade us from death as the ultimate punishment to eternal torture in hell, and this person is to be worshiped as our savior? “and in fact, among all the religions I’ve studied, Christianity is by far the most logical and rational.” It’s deeply, deeply irrational.”To say Christianity isn’t logical, well, that’s simply not true.” But you’re not a christian, right?”It might not “make sense” to many people…but that doesn’t mean it is illogical. As long as it holds to the rules of logic, it is logical. Also, something being illogical doesn’t necessarily mean it is untrue or vice versa. For example, quantum mechanics doesn’t conform to our concept of classical logic, but that doesn’t mean it is untrue.”Internal inconsistency (like the type I gave above) does make something illogical.  And I said irrational, not illogical, because something can be logical given one or more premises but complete bull pucky because one of those premises are not true.”#2: There is a reason theories on abiogenesis are simply skipped over in most high school and college level biology courses.” Yes, religion.”Its not real science. Sorry but that video was entirely speculative and any molecular biologist would have to admit so.” I am not qualified to assess that, and neither are you, but you automatically reject it anyway.  Did someone say confirmation bias?”I found the video to be dishonest as well when at the end he prints in very huge bold letters…..”No ridiculous improbablity”.  …um….thats crazy. In addition to his idea being extremely speculative, the improbability of such a scenario is astronomical.” You would have to know a lot about thermodynamics, physics and chemestry to even begin to assess the probability of the things in that video.  You are being incredibly unreasonable here.”He dismisses one improbability figure….his defense….”eh, its just a made up number”.” No, he said “aside from the fact that these numbers are made up” (which they are) and then explains in-depth why it’s bullshit.  And it is.  You cannot assess the probability of “life” occurring naturally unless you know specifically what you’re assessing, there is no absolute definition of life.  If someone did a review of what the probability of this video’s description occurring is, I would be interested in seeing that.  But I think what you’re talking about are the creationist websites that calculate the odds of life evolving exactly as it has over billions of years (which is irrelevant) or the single modern cell magically popping out of a barrel of chemicals ie “tornado in a junkyard” argument (which isn’t how it works and is a strawman).  The first is irrelevant because it is incredibly easy to make statistically improbable things happen and even statistically “impossible” things.  This is why they’re called “statistically” impossible, not just impossible.  Statistical impossibility refers not to the odds of it happening deliberately or repeatedly.  For instance if I made a grid of 1-foot squares over the city of new york and threw a deck of loose playing cards out of the window of a plane at high altitude, the odds that each specific card would land in the particular square it lands in are statistically impossible.  I could repeat that experiment a hundred times a day for a billion years and never duplicate those results.  But it’s child’s play to get them the first time.  The reason is that the odds are identically remote no matter what the outcome of the experiment is.  And it is the same for the evolution of life.  Life evolving the way it did is just as easy as chucking a deck of playing cards out of an airplane… the first time.  Good luck getting it to happen a second time.  This is not because throwing a deck of playing cards out of a plane is impossible or life evolving to it’s present state is impossible, but because there are such a vast number of possibilities other than what happens, whatever happens.  And the probabilities become more remote over evolutionary time just as they do by increasing the altitude of the airplane before throwing the cards out.Honest mathematicians do not make such weak arguments, or abuse statistics in such ways.  I am not calling you dishonest, but the people who make up these fallacies are dishonest.  Arguing that it is impossible to throw 52 cards out of an airplane based on this reasoning would be an identical argument to the one you’re talking about with regards to evolution.  The actual mathematicians know better, they’re just sheering sheep.Barrow and Tipler calculated many of these probabilities, and they weren’t two religious freaks, but two atheist physicists. But lets just arbitrarily assume they were totally wrong, lets say they were off on their calculations by a whopping 50%….even then, the probabilities are still mind bogglingly and astronomically high.” They did not evaluate the video I sent you, I would have to see their homework to see what they were even talking about.  As I said, there is no absolute definition of life.  As far as I can tell neither of them were qualified to make such an evaluation, not having any expertise in biology.  It would be like someone evaluating the probability of our planet forming a certain way with little to no understanding of the science of planetary formation, cosmology or even the current state of the earth itself.”Now in the video, he needs both repeated and compounded probabilities to make his scenario feasible. I think the video was a fine speculation, but it shouldn’t be used as any kind of evidence (and no objective molecular biologist would). And the fact that he put in huge letters at the end claiming “No ridiculous improbabilities” is very dishonest.”Neither of us are qualified to assess that.”#3: So what is the example? I have yet to see a change that was an actual INCREASE in information, not just a unilateral shift in information that generates change. And then again, the probability issue again arises in this area.” You failed to define “information” so your question was unanswerable.  If you are referring to the idea that no mechanism can add DNA, just change it, this is false.  Gene duplication is a common form of mutation that adds new genetic fodder which can be modified by subsequent mutations.  And while no, the odds of a single copied section of DNA being rapidly modified within one narrow lineage (as with a virus) are not good, however in populations of organisms that exchange genetic information this “junk” DNA accumulates and actually makes up a very large portion of our genome.  The homology between so many mechanisms in all forms of life is strong evidence of this form of genetic mutation and subsequent modification.   Either way this is all the time I’m spending on this question until you tell me specifically what you mean by “information”.”Even in the unilateral shifts of information, say due to a point mutation, leading to change….it becomes increasingly improbable for the occurrence of a change due to multiple point mutations in succession. ie. Despite billions of generations of the protists that cause malaria….sickle celled hemoglobin is still immune to malaria, because in order for the protists to adapt in this manner, it would require more than 1 point mutation in succession. So in the study of parasitic organisms and viruses, in which billions of generations can be studied, it seems that even such mutations observed show the limitations of natural selection through random mutation rather than being evidence for it. (And speaking of sickle cell anemia, sometimes this condition is used as an evidence for beneficial mutation…..and yet again, their isn’t any increase of information, but a LOSS of information and as a result, the condition of sickle cell anemia, while resistant to malaria, is overall severely detrimental to the overall health of the individual.”Evolution does not require an increase in “information”, just adaptation.  If losing an eye makes an organism better adapted, natural selection will remove the eye, and there are examples of this.  I doubt you haven’t heard of talkorigins, but their index of creationist claims refutes most of these claims and links to actual scientific studies and articles.  Here is the page for this particular claim.”(Ok, I’m gonna go really fast and brief from now on, so hopefully you don’t think I’m trying to dodge an issue. I actually wrote out a super long response when my comp crashed and so this is my second time replying and I am running out of time.)”That always sucks : (“No they aren’t. Even among atheist evolutionary biologists, this is a controversial point.  There are plenty of atheist evolutionists that while they still reject the existence of God, do not accept natual selection and random mutation as sufficient mechanisms for the complexity we see today.”I said they were sufficient for what you asked for – they are not the only mechanisms in evolutionary biology.”I’m not saying a half wing is useless. That is a totally fine argument to say a half wing can have function. However, the problems when analyzing the origin of avian flight really has nothing to do the function of a half wing and the origin of avian flight remains a mystery.”How is this not an argument from ignorance?  That we don’t know whether birds evolve by gliding up or down first because fossils can’t tell us this no more suggests that they didn’t evolve than that we don’t know whether hitler preferred blondes or brunettes suggests the holocaust didn’t happen.  What is your point?”I never made such an assertion.” No, but you implied it strongly.”I’m simply saying that #5 does not have to be considered by a molecular biologist. However, it is in the realm of physics and cosmology, and there is research being done on this specific matter. But I never made any assertion from the inability of having an explanation for this.”You said that it was relevant to whether an atheist’s position is logical and scientific, suggesting that it made their position illogical or un-scientific.  I explained why it did not.”However, I included #1 and #5 as posed questions to you, because while it is not a concern of a molecular biologist……shouldn’t they be concerns for an atheist?” Nope.  I already explained why.  Argument from ignorance fallacy, not understanding something does not suggest any particular conclusion is true.  Not understanding how matter formed (ultimately that is, a lot about the formation of matter as it exists now is well-understood) or where it originated no more implies the existence of a god than it implies the existence of matter-creating fairies or intervening little-green-men from a parallel dimension or a thousand other things.  Evidence must directly support a claim.  Saying “we don’t understand this… therefore yahweh!” is like a detective saying “I’m stumped, I have no idea who committed this crime… so jeff did it!””Frank Tipler was an atheist who through his studies in physics converted to Christianity. He did not believe there could be natural reasons for the great improbabilities or impossibilities in the origin of matter and origin of life. Not arguing by authority here……but simply wanted to make a couple notes. Tipler’s conversion to Christianity has to be considered a conversion based in rationality.  And I also bring him up as leading into our final point of discussion.” From what I read on his wiki page he sounds like a nut.  Not for being christian, but he proposed a really out-there idea with zero supporting evidence that belongs in a science fiction story, not science fact.  Now this isn’t to suggest that scientists shouldn’t be allowed to speculate, but they shouldn’t be allowed to call it science unless they can actually back it up with something.”Tipler was basically outcast when he converted to Christianity. He talked about being ostracized by atheist scientists and how they would not even discuss physics with him. Does this sound open-minded?”My assertion that (in my experience) atheists tend to be open-minded was not meant to suggest that all atheists are open-minded.  However I can’t vouch for these particular people’s character, not knowing the details of their disputes or both sides of the story.  He could be an asshole for all I know and they just don’t like him, or he could have a different experience with atheists than I have.  Some people are bound to know mostly nice xists and others mostly dickish xists.”The reason I say all atheists are biased (and not target atheists……. all people are biased in their belief in one way or another….however, it is only the atheist that claims that their belief has no prior preferences and that they rely 100% on scientific evidence)…isn’t because I think atheists TRY to get to a certain point. However, IF there are evidences for the existence of God, it is bias that tends to subtly dismiss any arguments for the case.” I very rarely find an atheist who rejects an argument for the existence of god who cannot articulate very clearly why he or she doesn’t agree with it.  Granted some resort to namecalling or dismissal, sometimes out of frustration at dealing with the same arguments over and over and over again from people who never listen to them in the end.  I’ve found myself in the past dismissing creationists rather than talking to them because it’s like beating my head against a wall.  I mean you demanded evidence of transitional fossils, I gave it to you, and you didn’t even acknowledge my response.  This is par for the course when arguing with religious people.  And while yes no one is probably free from bias, are you saying that open-mindedness does not exist anywhere?  You seem to just not want atheists to be considered open-minded.  Not agreeing with you doesn’t make me closed-minded.  You may need to believe atheists are just “rebelling” or “hard of heart” or don’t want there to be a god etc, but even if this were true (in my experience it generally is not) it would still not support your worldview.”Don’t you think its reasonable to say there are many people in the world that DO NOT  want there to be a God?” I’m sure someone somewhere doesn’t, but I have never met an atheist who uttered that sentiment in my life.  The only one I’ve heard who did so was christopher hitchens and he was being hyperbolic and making a point about the nature of the christian god, he wasn’t giving his reasons for being an atheist.  I have however met a few atheists who wanted to believe there was a god but couldn’t.  I have been stereotyped as “denying god in my heart” and all that bullshit many times, but it is just that – a stereotype.  And one that says a lot more to do with christian apologetics than it does about the average atheist.”Just as many atheists here on Xanga have had less than pleasant encounters with Christians, the religious, or fundamentalists. I have had a great number of unpleasant encounters with atheists. They don’t want to engage in discussion, but want to mock. When I want to talk about the science, they say I am not worth even talking to , because I’m a religious freak. I say I’m not religious at all……and so then I am labeled as an uneducated moron. Keep in mind, I am not advocating Creationism, ID or the existence of God…..but I get this response simply from questioning some problems in evolution or atheism.”I’ve many times told atheists off for treating theists this way or generalizing about christians, though usually I don’t have to.  As I said as far as I can tell most atheists are generally civil.  Bear in mind also that someone saying you’re ignorant might just mean they are saying you’re ignorant of certain things, not that they’re using it as a jab.  Everyone is ignorant of many things.  And dismissing you as not worth talking to is probably much of the time because any atheist who engages in these kinds of discussions goes far out of their way to express their point of view, sinking plenty of time and effort into it, and about half the time has their comment deleted, is blocked or both, and basically never ever actually gets through to the other person.  I’ve changed one person’s mind about evolution being false that I know of, and that is my best friend who I’ve talked to every day for a long, long time.  In countless discussions with religious people I’ve never had one admit they were wrong about any core belief, ever.  This may be why people dismiss you in that fashion.  It is rude, but I do empathize with both of you.Then again some people are just assholes or are having a bad day/week/month.  It’s hard to tell on the internet though.”Again, I’m not trying to label all atheists in this boat either. But it is why I disagree that atheists are generally open-minded. I think we all have our biases and at the end of the day, a person believes what the WANT to believe.”Generally this is true, but there are a lot of people who actually think about these things and have integrity when it comes to their beliefs.  I honestly want to know if I’m wrong, and I have heard that same principle echoed by countless atheists, scientists, skeptics and so on who I believe are generally in earnest.Have I exhibited narrow-mindedness of an unwillingness to openly, honestly discuss anything in this exchange?  Would you call me narrow-minded simply for not agreeing with you?  I don’t think you can do so honestly unless you can cite an instance where I failed to successfully articulate why I disagree or run out of arguments, dodged a point etc.”Also, let me add quickly to that…again, I’m not religious, or a Creationist, nor an ID proponent.” You sound like all three.  You also seem very secretive about your beliefs though, and I’ve not pressed you on that point.  But when you argue a certain proposition, it’s likely because you agree with it at least to some degree.”What I find disturbing though is the complete lack of criticism of evolutionary theory.” This is a talking point, it has no bearing on reality.  Evolution has withstood a century and a half of fierce criticism and literally thousands of experiments which had the potential to falsify it.  It is maybe the single most well-supported theory in all of science and has independent verification of many of it’s core precepts over more than half a dozen different fields of science.  We can look through the fossils in geological strata like turning back the pages in a history book and see for ourselves what life was like during different eras.  It is so overwhelmingly supported it is absolutely astonishing that people still don’t accept it.  Or it would be if it wasn’t out of (often willful) ignorance.  Arguments like “there are no transitional fossils” are arguments from a position of “I don’t know what I’m talking about”.”I’m not trying to get ID in schools……I don’t think it has a place in science classes.” Thank you, I agree.”(However, I don’t think ID is a bunch of crap either, I think it can be introduced in a philosophy of science course).” ID as a scientific hypothesis is total BS, ID as a political movement is incredibly sleazy and dishonest (google “wedge document” or “wedge strategy” to see the actual motivation behind the movement – it’s got nothing to do with science).  The concept of an intelligent agency, prime mover, first cause etc is valid to speculate about however, and should be taught non-dogmatically in a philosophy or comparative religion course, but along with other ideas as well.  But that gets into separation of church and state territory and this discussion is already painfully long (no offense).”I think evolution should be taught. I think it is the best natural explanation of the world today.” Well, not the world – the biodiversity of life.  If you mean “evolution” in the sense creationists use where they try to lump every branch of science into one big pile and call it “evolutionism”, that’s just bullshit sophistry.”(Of course, I emphasize “natural” as such a proposition doesn’t exclude or negate supernatural explanations).” The concept of supernatural is not defined and therefore meaningless in my opinion.  No one can tell me what the difference between a natural and supernatural thing is, or where nature ends and the supernatural begins.  And looking back historically we tend to call things supernatural either because there is no evidence for their existence or because we don’t understand them.  That just makes something not well supported or mysterious.  Mystery does not equal magic.”Evolutionists say ID would make students dumb.” That is a really huge oversimplification of the anti-ID position.  My main objection is that it is a lie to teach in science class something the scientific method cannot be brought to bear upon.  Arguments like irreducible complexity are attacks on evolution, not proof of an “intelligent designer”.  To attack a scientific theory and then say “if x theory is false then y untestable hypothesis is true by default” is bullshit pseudoscience.  There is a reason ID and it’s proponents are shunned, they are without exception quacks and frauds.  And the ID movement is at the top a deliberate ideological attack on science and an attempt to promote christianity and conservative values.  Like I said, google the wedge document, it’s a manifesto which was leaked from the organization leading the ID movement which they admitted came from their organization.  It rambles on about conspiracy theories about how science is the single cause of every atrocity in the last century including the holocaust and how if people don’t believe in god then murder is okay, and how they are using the issue of evolution as the sharp end of the “wedge” to create a wedge between science and religion, for the ultimate purpose of destroying natural science and replacing with pro-christian “science” (really pseudoscience).They want to destroy science and replace it with ideological propaganda.”But is avoiding any critical analysis of evolution a good thing…..especially when the critical thinking skills of American students are in decline?” It’s not about criticism of evolution, criticism of science does not happen in grade school any more than mathematical theorems are criticized by 7th graders.  It is about getting religious ideas into the science class after they are ruled unconstitutional and pseudoscience.  First they taught literal creationism, the adam and eve story in place of biology.  That was ruled unconstitutional (in public school, private schools still do this) and so they literally took the word “creator” in the textbook and changed it to “intelligent designer” and re-published the same textbook (“of pandas and people”) as an “intelligent design” textbook to get around the court rulings prohibiting religious indoctrination in public schools.  Then ID started being struck down in courts around the country, so now it’s the “teach the controversy” movement, where rather than talking about an intelligent designer (ie god) in science class, they just want an equal amount of time devoted to lying about science as is devoted to teaching it, because they see science as enemy number 1.And yes, they are lying about science.  If you don’t believe me, feel free to throw any ID materials you like at me and I will explain why they’re full of shit for you.”Such a critical analysis of evolution was introduced in Ohio, but the Ohio State Board of Education repealed and eliminated the benchmark.” Good.”No critical analysis of evolution is allowed? Is this scientific? Is this open-minded? It seems to me that this is just the type of dogmatic indoctrination that atheists claim they oppose.”No, that’s how they’re spinning it, but in reality these court rulings as far as I know just say “you can only teach science in science class” and in every case the judge walks away convinced that the ID side is teaching pseudoscience.  It’s long, but if you’re up for it you will find this lecture very informative.  It’s from a cell biologist who is also a churchgoing christian and author of “finding darwin’s god”.  He even begins the talk with a prayer from a catholic priest, then goes on to explain the ID movement and it’s arguments and dismantle them.  Even if you watch it later it’s well worth watching and gets at the heart of many of these issues.

  42. Randy7777 says:

    @agnophilo – Years ago I was arrogant in my belief. I was probally like the Christians you’ve described that irrate you.  I’d like to think I’m not that way any more, at least I don’t want to be.  I have a friend like you, that we don’t agree on faith but we respect each other and he challenges me.  I don’t  surround myself with people that think like I do.  I on purpose seek out those that have different points of view.  I do that in order to keep myself sharp and be able to see through someone elses eyes.  I think about what you write and it helps me.  No one should blindly follow any faith.  I agree with you it is a power force upon this earth.  You’re a type of person I could sit down and have a soda with. 

  43. wizexel22 says:

    @agnophilo – Hey agnophilo. Just wanted to say I’ve been extremely busy and will be even busier for the next few days. Just wanted to let you know in case you thought I’m leaving you hanging….so I’ll eventually reply though. Hopefully I can keep it shorter to ease your pain haha. 

  44. LovesTwo says:

    @agnophilo – You guessed correctly – accepting of various religions. 

  45. Hey Agno!Love is the answer!hahahahahey wait! is love something extra-material?I think it has a lot to do with how the issues are framed. And all that logical fallacy stuff, like we all use broad brushes, and none of us are able to be able to visualize all scenarios, so it is probably quite impossible to really address any of this with that degree of certainty that many might like. I have become convinced liked Wittgenstein… nothing you can talk about in this realm adds up to anything helpful, whether about “believers” or what it is they believe. I do believe, however, that A LOT of straw men are being set up on both sides. There can be no such thing as meaningful dialog on these matters. There will only be believers (on both sides) and those who stand clear. Hey! I don’t even know why I am bothering to type anything.

Speak yer mind.

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