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Date: 2006/05/22 19:14:33, Link
Author: skeptic
having tried to follow this from the beginning, of the discussion, I've come to the conclusion that this is the same circular reasoning on both sides.  Is anybody out there really interested in the development and diversity of life or is it just more fun to try to prove each other wrong?

Date: 2006/05/22 19:25:05, Link
Author: skeptic
The arguements pro and con for evolution are well known and many have been around for over a hundred years.  On the other side ID offers no alterative.  ID says God did it!  Yeah, so how does that help me in the lab, the classroom, in life?  It doesn't its just a feelgood.  On the other hand, there are some serious questions in biochemistry and molecular biology that need to be addressed and not avoid just so we present a unified front to the ID crowd.

Date: 2006/05/22 19:31:30, Link
Author: skeptic
Circular in the sense that ID trys to disprove evolution to no avail, and evolutionists try to disprove ID for no purpose, there is no threat and it justs wastes time that could be applied to real work.

Date: 2006/05/23 17:48:29, Link
Author: skeptic
I'd like to pose some questions and encourage an honest discussion.

To state my position, ID is a waste of time and continued debate only wastes time and effort.

Efforts to debuke ID at all costs only make us look dogmatic and something akin to religious fanatics.

Any theory should encourage open and honest critiques and should treat those challenges with eagerness and not hostility.

We are losing the PR battle.

Given those assumptions (mine), here's my thoughts:

Current evolutionary theory is fatally flawed because we lack the ability to perform experiments, collect data, and make predictions.

Can we develop an experiment that can be tested and repeated to reveal the mechanism driving evolution?

Random mutation is inadequate as a sole mechanism for diversity.

Organisms are much too responsive to the environment for diversity to be driven by random interactions.

The environment is much to dynamic to support the slow development required by random mutation.

Proteins must be self-organizing, but is this process molecularly driven or at the sub-atomic level?

I have thoughts along these lines but I'd be interested in discussion about them and associated topics.

We can see where that leads.

Date: 2006/05/23 17:52:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Interesting response, but hardly helpful.

Plus Mayr is much too much of an apologist for me.

Date: 2006/05/23 17:56:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Maybe you didn't understand the questions.

For instance, is random mutation sufficient as the driving mechanism behind the development of diversity?

Date: 2006/05/23 18:11:55, Link
Author: skeptic
I didn't expet to find that much ignorance in one post.

Lets deal with the first.

The scientific method requires us to make a hypothesis, make  observations, collect data, develop a theory and then use thia theory to make further predictions which when proven or disproved reinforce or alter the theory.

Basic stuff.

We cannot do that right now because, for one , the time scales required for random mutation are outside observable ranges.  Speciation can not be duplicated in the lab, models can not predict events that can not be observed.

This is all basic stuff.

Date: 2006/05/23 18:19:08, Link
Author: skeptic
As to the creationist comment, I suppose you get that alot.  I actually stumbled onto the site looking for some current info on complexity theory and misread the site to be scientific discussion and not just ID defense.  My mistake, but I thought it would still be a good spot for scientific discourse, was I wrong?

Date: 2006/05/23 18:26:02, Link
Author: skeptic
How about one at a time, most of what you guys are saying is completely wrong.  I'm not sure what your backgrounds are so I don't know where to start for the most effect...

Evolution does not occur at the population level, all diversity occurs at the individual level, actually the molecular level to be exact.

And whether you talk about genetic drift, transfer, SNPs or whatever this is still a random process and that raises real problems.

Date: 2006/05/23 18:29:32, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually the Santa Fe site must have had a link to antievolution 'cause thats how I got here.  Waldrop's started this whole thing.

Date: 2006/05/23 18:33:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Waldrop's book was published in '92 and alot has changed since then.  I was curious as to the current state of complexity.

Date: 2006/05/23 18:37:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Or an insominiac.

Date: 2006/05/23 18:41:16, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm a skeptic and an insomniac, but I can not prove a negative, can I?

Date: 2006/05/23 18:46:51, Link
Author: skeptic
That is certainly the most irrational thing you've said tonight, but I'm surprised that I actually expected any more than this.  My mistake.

Date: 2006/05/23 18:52:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually, I disagree.  I don't see any value in debunking ID.  Maybe you do, you have that right.  In my opinion, ID has no scientific merit, it is dressed up creationism.  When you engage in that discussion, you grant it merit that it does not deserve.  Maybe I'm wrong there, but I chose to ignore ID as science.

Date: 2006/05/23 19:02:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Its obvious that this is a waste of time.  Its a shame but very revealing about the current state of evolutionary theory.  Right now it is much more important to defend at all costs then to actually engage in science.  Pity.

Date: 2006/05/23 19:09:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Its amazing, the level of arrogance is monumental.  The defensiveness is extreme and none of you has spoken a bit about science.  In my estimation, you have no real understanding of this topic, you just like to play on message boards.  As to being a scientist, please!

Date: 2006/05/23 19:14:02, Link
Author: skeptic
[And what would you know about it, Mr. "I accidentally came here looking for info on complexity"?]

I'm a biochemist and a computer programmer and I'm interested in multi-variant systems.  Genetics and genetic algorithms fall into that catagory and that leads to evolution.

Date: 2006/05/24 03:34:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Maybe I started too broadly.

This is what I think, ID and creationism are not science.  If you make the statement God did it, that just begs the question, How? Then we're right back where we began.

Evolution must be occurring.  Thats as near to a fact as possible.  I just don't accept the current theory.  I believe it must be reactive and mechanism based.  Thats what I'd like to discuss, but I was amazed at how quickly the attack dogs were loosed.

Thats where I stand.

Date: 2006/05/24 16:44:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Lets try an exercise.

Imagine that this guy named Darwin proposes a theory that species derive existing species through random mutation and natural selection.  We know about genes, DNA, etc and as ambitious young grad students we want to make a name for ourselves and prove this theory.

How do we do it?  Where do we investigate and what experiment do we run?

Date: 2006/05/24 16:55:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Thats not quite original thinking.  If Darwin releases his theory today, we don't know whether its true or not, it must be investigated and we want to make a name for ourselves, be bigger than Darwin.

Date: 2006/05/24 17:08:17, Link
Author: skeptic
again not very useful to this discussion

Date: 2006/05/24 17:21:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Ok, here's the problem with that statement, minus the purposeless attacks,  the 150 years of evidence is all interpretation within the belief that the theory is true.  I make an observation and then decide how that fits within the theory with never a thought as to whether or not it actually does.

What I'm wondering is if we erase the assumption that the current theory is true and we start over do we eventually come to the same conclusions.

I'm trying to get you guys to think objectively because 200 years from now we won't be working with this theory but its descendant and how will that theory differ?

Date: 2006/05/24 17:57:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Just a few small disagrements.

Newtonian physics was law and no one really was looking for an altrenative and if they were they certainly weren't talking about it, people would have thought they were crazy.

Then along come this patent clerk and drops a bomb-shell, of course it was initially refuted but later accepted and thats kinda where we are today.

As to the progression in evolutionary theory, I'm not so sure that we'd end up in the same place.  One thing I find very interesting is that Mendel sent Darwin a copy of his research, but Darwin never remarked on it.  Did he read it, was he too busy.  If he knew what we know now where does his inspiration lead him.  Genetics has killed random mutation for me, especially given the propensity for lethal mutation.

Certainly we acknowledge the current theory because there is no viable alternative but whos working on the alternative, where's Einstein now?

Date: 2006/05/24 18:03:08, Link
Author: skeptic

the central tenet of common descent with modification over time it very vague, and I know you're summarizing for my lowly intellect, but think about how many different direction you can go with that, all you've eliminated is parallel speciation.

Date: 2006/05/24 18:08:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not ashamed to say that I don't think I understood three words of what you just posted other the fact that I can assure you I've entirely honest in every respect.  As to whatever else you said...well I'm not sure.

Date: 2006/05/24 18:12:14, Link
Author: skeptic
glad to hear that I'm not entirely dense

Date: 2006/05/24 18:31:41, Link
Author: skeptic
I don't know that there has been a 'forced fit', something of that magnitude would be difficult to maintain for 150 years.  One good example is the fossil record, attitudes have gone back and forth concerning what we should see, what Darwin predicted and what this says about evolution at a slow pace.

It seemed for awhile that punctuated equilibrium would gain some traction, but not so much.  Thats not a case of 'forced fit' exactly, but it did deviate from the accepted theory and faded.  This could be a case in which we know what we're looking for, this isn't it, so it can not be true.  

Ultimately, someone is going to have to break from the pack and look in a different direction and to a certain extent that should be encouraged.

Date: 2006/05/24 18:43:33, Link
Author: skeptic
point taken, its just second nature at this point to refer to it as Darwinism for common understanding.

I do think there are two points of resistance to random mutation

1) Timescale, and to a certain extent, this can never be resolved but it should be acknowledged

2)but more difficult is the actual mechanics of random mutation, it taken at its smallest component, the substitution of a single AA, it mosts cases that it actually has an effect upon the structure of the protein you have a non-functioning, or reduced-functioning protein.  In the case of an entire gene mutation, now we're talking long odds, you still only have a single protein that may or may not have an effect and when it does it is almost assuredly detremental to the organism.  What we really need is for the random emergence of traits and this may require mutiple proteins, very very long odds.

I think this is a source of concern.

Date: 2006/05/24 18:49:23, Link
Author: skeptic

I don't believe it a concious decision.  I think biologists have just operated under the assumption that evolution is true and they're results reflect that.

A good example of this is the measurement of the charge of the electron, I'm sure those weren't concious errors, in fact I think that we know they weren't, but nobody wants to be the one to stand up and tell a Nobel Laurete he's wrong.

Date: 2006/05/24 18:53:11, Link
Author: skeptic

I bet you and k.e. can have a lively discussion.

Date: 2006/05/24 19:07:31, Link
Author: skeptic
typing is not one of my better skills, certainly not for speed.  and I certainly wouldn't refer to anyone as a Darwinist, except maybe Huxley. its just a term that we all recognize in the forum and it easier to type than evolutionary theory.

and, if I may, Einstein never really embraced quantum theory, remember the famous 'God does not play dice' quote

Date: 2006/05/24 19:16:53, Link
Author: skeptic
I said the protein may or may not have an effect, so we're stating the same thing, but in the case when it does it is most always bad.  That is not the same thing as saying all mutations are bad.

as to the detailed calculations, well you got me there, but I think we can infer by calculated mutation rates and the relative stabilty of the genome that mutations aren't common place.

As far as Einstein, it makes no difference, it just sounded as if you were saying that Einstein developed quantum theory

Date: 2006/05/24 19:19:49, Link
Author: skeptic

WOW, I had to read that three times

Date: 2006/05/24 19:25:35, Link
Author: skeptic
The easiet example is, again, the fossil record.

We are told to expect to see transitional forms, and they should exist my the multitude

The fact that they don't exist is not really a glowing endorsement an yet now the fossil record is used as evidence to some degree and the lack of transitional forms has been addressed, but how adequately?

Date: 2006/05/24 19:28:58, Link
Author: skeptic
please tell me you don't look at the fossil record and see transition

you were doing so good!!

Date: 2006/05/24 19:33:57, Link
Author: skeptic
lets take that up tomorrow, gotta work in the AM.

but I have to say, I'm pleseantly surprised, after last night I expected this to be a limited engagement, but this looks more promising.

Date: 2006/05/25 17:15:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Well you guys have had a big day, it took me quite a while just to catch up on the posts.

unfortunately, its impossible to address them all, but one in particular I did want to address.


I appreciate the civil tone, but I don't want there to be any misunderstandings, I doubt that I could support any of your points, although to be honest I haven't read them all, but based upon your general premise I see no chance of that happening.

Science is man's attempt to understand and explain the world around him through observation and experiment.  That is dependant upon our senses and quantifiable measures.  Mixing the tangible with the intangible is apples and oranges; neither is relavant to the other.  Any attempt to invoke creationism or ID answers none of the measurable questions and adds a needless step.  As I've stated before, if I say God created all life forms what does that get me...nothing, I still want to how and that's the only thing I can attempt to study.  Thats why I think ID is a waste of time.

On a lighter note, I noticed a couple references to neutral theory.  This is something new, anyone out there have a quick summary or a useful link?

Date: 2006/05/26 02:57:05, Link
Author: skeptic
After doing some research last night, I really don't see anything substantially novel here.  Neutral theory isn't exclusive of natural selection, at least not the way I read it.  The question that still haunts me is this apparent confusion between traits and genes.  Traits must almost assuredly be made up of many genes and the expression of each may or may not be dependant upon the other.  I'll look into this more today but I've an idea that I will expand on later.

Date: 2006/05/26 11:24:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually, BWE, you're on to something there.  About three years ago in an issue of The Scientist, I came across a letter to the editor discussing evolution and a Berkley biology professor stated that he would never write a letter of recommendation for graduate school for an undergrad who did not fully accept the modern synthesis.  His reasoning, I'm paraphrasing, was that it indicated that the student was irrational.  This set off a mini-firestorn that lasted a number of issues but it certainly was upsetting and close-minded.

Date: 2006/05/26 11:49:31, Link
Author: skeptic
I think somebody posted the link to the Wes summary you are referring to.  Thats what I looked at yesterday and a few of the differing opinions on both sides but I really don't think it matters too much in each because it seems that the primary objection remains the same and this goes to guthrie's question.  I think the term trait and gene are used alittle too synonymously.  Certainly in simpler organisms single gene traits appear to have more magnitude as too fitness, and while there are single-gene traits in higher organisms those aren't typically the ones that are most noticeable and which differentiate species.

Looking at traits that could have profound effects and offer organisms advantages for survival, we're looking at physical changes, more efficient metabolisms, certainly increased neurological capacity.  These aren't single gene mutations and thats difficult to develop a scenario in which this occurs randomly.

Also, the knockout mice are typically single gene knockout that affect viability, reproduction, etc in a detremental in order to study impact or treatment options.  In my experience, I've participated in studies in which the knockouts were cancer-prone and the efficacy of anti-cancer agents were studied, but these mice didn't look or behave any different than ordinary mice, except for the fact that they're nude.

Date: 2006/05/26 11:53:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Oh yeah, and about the two of study needed, I just get the sense that you're trying to get rid of me.

Date: 2006/05/26 12:01:48, Link
Author: skeptic
actually after reading some of the other threads, they seem so...sane.

Date: 2006/05/26 12:14:48, Link
Author: skeptic
I appreciate the sincerity, but it might just be an arguement in semantics.  Its not that I'm unaware of what you call the basics, I'm just unconvinced and based upon those foundations everything beyond that appears shaky.  For instance, why have we not moved beyond the current system of classification to a genetically based system?

Date: 2006/05/26 12:36:12, Link
Author: skeptic
I think it is safe to say since we have sequenced the genome but not fully mapped it it would be impossible at this point to speculate accurately upon the relative rates of single gene impacts vs multiple gene impacts.

Also its hard to generalize what makes an organism more fit because these have to be measured at the individual level and at a specific moment in time to describe the environmental pressures.  Very complex indeed.

I just have to look at some known processes and try to find a common link to simpler driving forces.  Take the Krebs Cycle, there are about 10 different enzymes involved in this reaction, thats 10 different genes that need to be expressed via feedback mechanisms and that implicates further supportive enzymes.  I'd be interested to hear a step-wise evolutionary description of the development of something this complex.

Date: 2006/05/26 13:10:04, Link
Author: skeptic
No not at all, its not that I can't imagine it.  I can't measure it, duplicate it or predict it and that bothers me, but I believe it evolved in the truest sense of the word.  I want to know how and while I'm certainly not taking any trip to Stockholm in the near future somebody will be and I hope you're wrong. I hope it is in my lifetime.  I'd just hope that we didn't stifle progress for decades because of political, social and cultural pressures.

It should be ok for someone to stand up and say "I don't believe the current theory is right and I want to look at some other opotions", without being attacked ruthlessly.  Its reminiscent of Galileo.

Date: 2006/05/26 14:32:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Exactly, now you're talking!

Look at protein assembly.  Currently, protein folding is completely unpredictable.  We have to syntheize the protein and then look back to see how it folded.  Either the interactions are too numerous to model accurately or we're missing something.  When you look at the chemistry behind this it can be overwhelming.  Biologists are typically big-picture people observing at the organism and population level.  I really wish that this had started with chemists and physists but that was impossible.  

In response to Russell, I'm only paraphrasing because I don't have the issue handy, although I will try to find it again because its amazing.  I don't know if you've ever read The Scientist, but there is no dissent in that publication and he was explicitly saying that if you did not accept the theory in total you were crazy and he wouldn't write the letter.  He was blunt and thats why it cause a problem.  No responses to him disputed evolution, they were just reacting to the hardline stance.  This was three years ago but I think the ID movement was in full swing, I could be wrong about that.

Date: 2006/05/26 15:25:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Steve the n-body problem can not progress beyond n=2 without major approximations and there are people working with supercomputers and multi-parellel processors and they can't do it.  With proteins function is pretty much all about form and we really don't know much about the form.

Date: 2006/05/26 15:38:19, Link
Author: skeptic
What is a troll?  I keep seeing this on various posts and I fear I'm witnessing a genrational gap at work.

Date: 2006/05/26 15:42:40, Link
Author: skeptic
We're talking about two different theories, quantum and relativity/gravity, and I think we're all aware of attempts to reconcile those two.

Date: 2006/05/26 17:29:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Steve, you're kidding right.

To compare calculation of planatery orbits to molecular interactions is apples to oranges, but if YOU have figured it out then you need to call Stephan Hawking and tell he can die now because you've solved THE problem.

And as far as not addressing the transitional forms issue, its just been a matter of volume and time, I respond to what I can in the time available.

The whole point of the transitional form example was to point out the changing interpretation as to whether or not the fossil record was evidence for or against Darwin's theory.  He predicted it would ultimately support him but it isn't accepted in the way he predicted.  The gaps were a problem that is now explained away because some transitional forms have been found and their existence have closed the case as far as biologists are concerned.  This is not the same abundance of forms that was predicted and even given the difficulties in fossilization, etc I find it somewhat disappointing and thats where PE came in to try to address that issue and propose big jumps and long periods of stability which is more what we see.

Date: 2006/05/26 17:40:20, Link
Author: skeptic

Date: 2006/05/26 18:11:07, Link
Author: skeptic

Thanks for the Rosetta post, I wasn't aware of that and that is the best by far that I've seen yet.

I think you're stuck in a rut, comparing solutions to planetary orbits, you're not even working with the same theory much less the same equations, you might want to go back and look at what you said (I haven't quite figured out this QUOTE thing yet) and I think you'll see the distinction.

Date: 2006/05/26 18:24:44, Link
Author: skeptic

I went back and looked at what I said to make sure I remembered it clearly

I did say "they don't exist" but that was in reference to the previous statement alluding to the expectation of finding them in multitude.  There are specific examples, in fact I was reading about a potential whale precurser that lived in fresh water and had nostrils half-way between current land mammels and whales. I don't deny that.  The whole conversation at that time was talking about the changing expectations over time of the implications of the fossil record.  Sorry I was not clear, I'm trying to keep up and avoid writing a dissertation but I just don't type that fast.

Date: 2006/05/26 18:36:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Ok Steve I'll try this one more time, but we're getting way off target with this one.

An n-body problem is not a generic one with a common solution.  In the case of molecules we use the Schrodinger equation various approximations depending on the molecule or the type of interaction or just how much computer power you have because some approximations are very rigorous.  You do not use the Schrodinger equation to solve planetary orbits, and as you know you do not even use quantum theory to define the relationships.  So the fact that we have very precise solutions for planetary orbits means absolutely nothing in a conversation about molecular biology.

Date: 2006/05/26 18:53:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (stevestory @ May 26 2006,19:41)

Currently, protein folding is completely unpredictable.  2 We have to syntheize the protein and then look back to see how it folded.  3 Either the interactions are too numerous to model accurately or we're missing something.

I'm going to break my normal rule and try to explain something to a creationist.

1 No, it's predictible
2 No, this is just usually way easier
3 No, the interactions are just extremely numerous. You can do it with a supercomputer and about a year. Think of it as kind of like an n-body problem, where n is in the thousands.

I think this is where we started and I reiterate, folding is not predictable, a supercomputer and a year can not solve the problem and yes it is way easier to synthesize the protein and watch how it folds.

So we're still in a position where protein form and thus function are largely a mystery, but I will amend that after reading the provided Rosetta link that it seems that we might actually be making some progress, or at least David Baker's group is.

Date: 2006/05/26 19:03:47, Link
Author: skeptic
Really, so enlighten us, why do proteins fold into specific forms that are directly related to their function and how does that fit into evolutionary theory were mutation is occuring at the gene level?  I think in this area you just don't know what you're talking about and now you're frustrated.

Steve I can garantee you right now that if you sequence a protein and correctly predict its folding, not only are you going to Stockholm, but if you're smart you're going to make about a billion dollars.

Date: 2006/05/26 19:11:30, Link
Author: skeptic
At this point I think I'd be impressed if you could tell me anything about the relationship between proteins and evolution.  Thats not asking alot.

Date: 2006/05/26 19:16:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I think I'm starting to see a defense mechanism at work.  Maybe its what you guys are used to but when all else fails to throw out some creationist insult is really not relevant.  Its so offbase and just a waste of time, you should try something else.

Date: 2006/05/26 19:20:13, Link
Author: skeptic
creationist meaning I'm not convinced that evolutionary theory is correct?

Date: 2006/05/26 19:24:25, Link
Author: skeptic
wow I never noticed that I misspelled debunk...or maybe its debunck.  I must have surely blown my cover :D

Date: 2006/05/26 19:28:41, Link
Author: skeptic
No, don't help him, thats a question for steve.

Arden, I just happen to be concrete, I want to study it, measure it, duplicate it and then predict it...its called the scientific method...sounds familiar right?

Date: 2006/05/26 19:38:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Is it possible for someone not to believe in evolution and ID at the same time?

Or, as the Berkley professor stated, you've got to be crazy not to believe in evolution?

Date: 2006/05/26 19:56:12, Link
Author: skeptic
The most frustrating aspect of this is all of life is just a bunch of chemical reactions and we know how reactions work.  Get the right temp, conc, substrates and it happens.  At its most basic level evolution is just one big chemical reaction and it should behave that way.  And if it behaves that way we should be able to duplicate it, even given the constraints of time, we should get some result.  I want to set at the bench, start the process and watch it proceed to an new species.  Now thats pie-in-the-sky to a certain extent but we've got to have something we can work with or we need to go back and check our data to see if something else is going on.

Date: 2006/05/27 18:27:10, Link
Author: skeptic
This is what I think of when I consider alternatives to random mutation, or at least how I would like it described. And don't

take that as egocentric, I'm just thinking of the kind of approach I would find convincing.

I'm going to address a specific case that has been bothering me for awhile.  Lets look at the case of animals that appear to

resist change.  Looking at crocodiles and great whites, these two have million years of stasis between them.  I do not think

it is coincidense that these two are apex predators. So my premise is that they do not evolve because they don't need to.  So

how is this possible?

In an extreme oversimplification, I'm going to assume that an animal that resists evolution has an extremely efficient DNA

repair process, hence very little variablity in the species.  This would be the normal condition.  So, how does the animal,

or more percisely the repair process "know" its time to evolve?
Stress.  When the animal is getting its butt kicked, constantly starving, suffering from environmental challenges, its under

extreme stress.

How does this relate to physical processes, lets take humans as an example, dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter and an

abundance of dpoamine means everything "ire mon". Anyway, relate this back to our animal under stress and the feel-good

neurotransmitters are deficient which cause a cascade resulting in inhibition of the repair process, thus mutation is


Now this starts to smell like acquired traits so only the repair process during meiosis is inhibited so that we see the

effects in later generations.  Also, just for kicks and because its my idea, only certain parts of the genome are vulnerable

or certains genes are more vulnerable than others which contributes to the similarities and yet differences upon gene


So to sum it up, if you're the king of the world there's no great impulse for change, but if you're barely making it

evolution is encouraged.  This would also mean that individuals in a population under the sames stresses would be evolving at

the same time and possibly in the same direction, greatly increasing the amount of variation available. So instead of seeing

evolution through a propagation of small changes in the "fittest", the actual evolution is occuring in those that are barely

getting by.

This can be studied in a variety of ways, stressing a population compared to a control, measuring chemical markers for stress

and comparing them to mutation rates, etc.

This is very raw, but to me it makes more sense and mainly because I can observe these processes at the molecular level and

relate them to the indiviual, population, species, etc.  So thats kinda how I look at it

Date: 2006/05/27 18:55:57, Link
Author: skeptic
I trying to contrast this to the idea that the accumulation of random mutations in the fittest individuals (natural selection) drives evolution.

I'm not quite sure if that is the same thing as saying evolution is random, but maybe they're close...

Also, I think selection pressures should be more fully explained at a molecular level as I've tried to demonstrate here with this example.

Date: 2006/05/27 19:23:13, Link
Author: skeptic
point taken, since we can't compare the mutation accumulation to great white's ancestor, although we could compare mutation rates with its nearest cousin, presumed to be mako, maybe someone's done that, I don't know.

But more striking, in the 11 million years since great white diverged from that ancestor, mankind's ancestors took to the trees, came down from the trees, began walking upright, talking and chewing gum at the same time, etc.

Date: 2006/05/27 19:31:39, Link
Author: skeptic
On the other hand, maybe it's as simple as: creatures that are well adapted to an environment that doesn't change much undergo very little selection pressure.

I think thats kinda what I said, the distinction is that rather than just saying 'selection pressure', we try to figure out what that really means.  Whatever the pressure is it is a determinant to mutation or lack thereof, how?

'Ol mister turtle's got it good, he doesn't need to evolve, something has turned off his "random mutation" generator...

Date: 2006/05/28 04:21:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (jeannot @ May 28 2006,04:16)

In fact, skeptic's objection is equivalent to "if we come from apes, why are there still apes?"

Actually, I don't see that comparison.  What I'm really trying to say is that the process reduces down to chemistry.  All this talk about selective pressures, stabilizing seletion, yada yada must be impacting upon a physical process in the organism.

What I'm offerring with this example is not a robust theory (I've put it together in the last 48 hrs to prove a point), but a method of looking at evolutoinary changes through a molecular lense.

Trying to correlate reproductive fittness and arising diversity can be so troublesome because the concept is obscure.  How does a trait give a reproductive advantage, unless it directly affects reproduction rates in the species.  We just kinda assume that if the organism survives then that third eye on the back of its head must have given it some advantage.  Another example would be extinction rates, if I remember correctly (and let me know if I'm wrong because I'm working straight off the 'ol noodle this morninng) extinction rates are highest among insects and yet the greatest emergence of new species is also among insects.  Granted, this may just be a discovery issue, i.e. it appears that insects are evolving more rapidly just because we keep finding more species or could it be that what we're seeing is forced evolution because its a evolve or die situation.  That implies that the organism is responding directly to the environment in a molecular way and not just the random accumulation of variety in a population.

Date: 2006/05/28 05:03:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Thats more or less what I like about this approach, the theory is not that important in this respect, but the opportunity to test at a chemical level is what appeals to me.

For example, the stabilizing force behind croc DNA, its certainly not just a free energy minimum there's something behind it.  The reason I yada yada those descriptions is that they tell me nothing about what's going on at the molecular level and they don't even attempt to.

Date: 2006/05/28 05:14:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (jeannot @ May 28 2006,09:57)
Quote (skeptic @ May 28 2006,09:21)
hat I'm really trying to say is that the process reduces down to chemistry.  All this talk about selective pressures, stabilizing seletion, yada yada must be impacting upon a physical process in the organism.

Of course, why do you think they can't?
That's precisely the strength of the current theory, it's completely compatible with other sciences. Do you think 'Goddidit' is? Is their a branch of quantum mechanics that explains miracles, like the apparition of Adam? Is God a scientific theory?
An organism is the result of the interaction genotype * environment, through a process of chemical reactions. Some organisms with particular genotypes can reproduce more efficiently than others in their environment. That is natural selection.
For instance, some mosquitos (Culex pipiens) can produce more offsprings in some areas because they have a point mutation in the gene coding for acetylcholine esterase. The mutated protein can't be inhibited by insecticides, it's been chemically tested.
Every selelected trait could be explained at the molecular level. It's just hard to do most of the time, because we have to identify the precise mutations and genes involved. Peacocks with longer tails have a better reproductive success, and even if we don't know which mutations affect the size of their tails, this doesn't mean that this trait could not be explained at the molecular level.

For instance, some mosquitos (Culex pipiens) can produce more offsprings in some areas because they have a point mutation in the gene coding for acetylcholine esterase. The mutated protein can't be inhibited by insecticides, it's been chemically tested.

I love your posts because I really get the sense that you're actually working in the field.  I don't know your background but thats my sense.

Anyway, whether or not finding the genes response is hard should not deter us from attempting.  To go under the assumption that we're right and not question it closes the door to who knows what.  Maybe its the blanket statements I object to...How are certain genotypes favored and stabilized molecularly and so forth?  Random mutations would seem to favor chaos and in cases were there is no selective pressure and variations are generally equivilant shouldn't there be a more equal distribution within a population and not a bell curve?

As to this...
Do you think 'Goddidit' is? Is their a branch of quantum mechanics that explains miracles, like the apparition of Adam? Is God a scientific theory?

Well, thats not really relevant to this conversation or thread for that matter.

Date: 2006/05/28 05:31:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Jean, I was not trying to disparage evol. biologists and compare chemists etc, sorry if thats how it sounded.

k.e., I do have a hammer and its the only tool I've got, but you've got to have a hammer to build a house so you can't ignore it.  Life is just a bunch chemical reactions no matter how complicated it may become and to through our hands in the air seems a cop-out to me.

Anyway, more on this later.

Date: 2006/05/29 03:20:53, Link
Author: skeptic
acriticaleye, it is the American way, when in doubt SUE!

Date: 2006/05/29 03:47:22, Link
Author: skeptic
You can not ignore what is happening on the molecular level, that is where the fundamental changes are occurring, where variation is being favored or not favored, where new genetic material must be arising.  If all current assumptions are or even just ignorant of the chemistry then the big picture statements are suspect.

Date: 2006/05/29 18:21:01, Link
Author: skeptic
since there are no real super-species (except maybe rats.)

I prefer cockroaches.

But on the general premise, I disagree entirely, the mechanisms of mutation are not well understood.  In fact, currently we call them random and in chemistry there aren't really any random acts.  If a reaction is going to proceed, then it does, under certain conditions and in a repeatable fashion.  The evidence that mutations are occurring is proof that they will continue to occur and there are processes driving them.  Whatever initiates this process can be at the molecular level, the individual level, or the environment level but the end result occurs at the gene or genes at it is dictated by forces that are universal across all species.  The idea that sharks don't evolve because they're not under "directional selective pressure" is all well and good, but how does that really work?

Date: 2006/05/29 18:30:37, Link
Author: skeptic
Did you take no classes in quantum chemistry?

I understand your point but at the observable level that electron is pretty much where its supposed to be, which works out kinda nicely.

Date: 2006/05/29 18:58:17, Link
Author: skeptic
I think you might be confusing random with non-deterministic.

you may be right, I'm not sure that I see the distinction and I do tend to rationalize things along a deterministic bent.

As to the other comment, I'm not sure that there really are any random events, maybe just very difficult to predict, but not really random.  Of course, after the fact its impossible to say if said event was random.  I just know from experience the complexities involved in getting a computer to "simulate" random number generation.

Date: 2006/05/29 19:16:25, Link
Author: skeptic
does this require a seed and then isn't it still possible to calculate backwards?

then skew the numbers to even out the 1:0 ratio

I'm not sure I get what you mean here

Date: 2006/05/29 19:20:39, Link
Author: skeptic
Dave, I've got a suggestion, read The Science of God by Gerald Schroeder, I think you'll like it.

Sorry guys, but at least it will change the direction of his arguements.

Date: 2006/05/29 19:30:45, Link
Author: skeptic
I think we call them errors only by convention becuase actually these changes to the genome are necessary for life to continue to exist.

Certainly many substances can affect the replication process but the repair process is pretty darn good, otherwise given the trillion upon trillion upon trillion, etc of opportunities for error to occur right this minute, life is impressively stable.  

I think when the change comes it won't stray far from "the diversity of life arises from small changes over time" but I think everything else may be up for grabs and quite possibly the small changes part also.

Date: 2006/05/29 19:34:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Cat's out of the bag.

Now he probably won't read, so this thread will just be more of the same.  Don't you crave variety? LOL

Date: 2006/05/29 19:56:40, Link
Author: skeptic
The physical mutations themselves are not purely random at to where they occur in a DNA strand – some areas of the genome are more susceptible to error than others.  The atoms and molecules still follow the fundamental laws of chemistry, some chemical bonds are easier to break than others, etc.

I agree on all counts, but I've taken random as to whether or not they occur at all.  The incidence of a mutation is a random event.  This is where I have trouble.  I would think that the mutation event is in response to a trigger and not just a matter of chance.  We know we can induce mutations but in most cases this involves actual damage to the strand or an interuption of the replication process this is not quite the same as mutations that arise in an individual or is it just an example of extreme case scenario?

So if the individual is responding can we detect those triggers, can we isolate a pathway and then ultimately can we duplicate the result?

Date: 2006/05/29 20:08:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Tomato - Tomatoe

An error cause G,C, or T gets attached but a necessary error, just think of it this way the actual transcription process (as well as the repair process) evolved to this point, so is this actually an error or just the most successful mechanism so far.  Then again, it may just be semantics.

Thanks for the link, I'll sleep on it.

Date: 2006/05/29 20:14:17, Link
Author: skeptic
There was a textbook by Strubel on computer organization, and somewhere near page 57 it said that if a computer begins generating random numbers, we call repair.

Big Chuckle!

Thanks, I'm going to remember that one.  Good night all.

Date: 2006/05/30 11:29:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (skeptic @ May 25 2006,00:25)


Normally, I wouldn't respond to a post like yours but you've really rubbed me the wrong way, so here goes.

The previous statement I was referring to was MINE and here it is:

The easiet example is, again, the fossil record.

We are told to expect to see transitional forms, and they should exist my the multitude

The fact that they don't exist is not really a glowing endorsement an yet now the fossil record is used as evidence to some degree and the lack of transitional forms has been addressed, but how adequately?

So next time before you shoot your mouth off you might want to learn to read and then pick up an Oxford and look up "liar", and while you're at it why don't you look up "stupid" too.  You just may learn something and don't waste you breath, I'm through with you.

Date: 2006/05/30 11:48:55, Link
Author: skeptic

You caught me off guard alittle.  I've always thought my major conflict arose from the fact that I'm focusing on the minute details and the current theory is too big picture for me.  Funny, huh?

As far as classifing evolutionists, I don't generalize at a personal level, but I see some institutionalized arrogance within the scientific community.  I think arises from a failure to convey scientific principles adequately to the general public, something that ID exploits all too well.  Joe Blow likes the general themes of ID and tends to then view scientists negatively.  Thats a PR problem and I have no real interest in that area.

As far as reinventing the theory, I think history bears me out that it will happen its just a matter of when.  Right now the "circle the wagons" mentality tends to hamper innovative thought because anyone who voices concern is some crazy, ignorant, fundamentalist creationist.

I agree that I haven't succeeded in articulating my concerns adequately to this point but for me thats the benefit I get from this forum.  I can work through these ideas, get opposing (or supporting) input, get exposure to current research, etc.  Otherwise, all I would be doing is staying up late everynight to argue and I have zero interest in that.

Date: 2006/05/30 12:49:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Its not true Lou, I won't believe it!  Call it the collective mind, but I watch every Cardinals game I can because I KNOW they play better when I watch!!!!!! LOL

Date: 2006/05/30 13:07:32, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Russell @ May 30 2006,17:43)

Lynn Margulis? Stanley Prusiner? Who? Whose innovative ideas are being marginalized by the alleged wagon-circlers?

Not that I'm up on any of their current ideas, but I'm not necessarily referring to a specific person, more an atmosphere of intolerance.  That may be a little too harsh, but I don't think thats there's anyroom for scientific disagreement concerning evolution in the scientific community right now.  That inhibits the next generation from looking outside the box so to speak.

I've posted some of my specific concerns that arise when I look at evolution from a molecular viewpoint.  Maybe thats where someone will choose to do their research and maybe not.  But I envision the next iteration (or many more down the road) could possibly change the mutation-selection theme, that could be my personal bias, but I think there's alot more work to be done and that can be done.

Date: 2006/05/30 14:52:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Rilke's Granddaughter @ May 30 2006,19:44)

This pattern has continued; that anyone who is a biochemist could make the absurd and semantically meaningless remarks about fundamentals of chemistry.

Name one.

Date: 2006/05/30 15:56:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Let me help you a little


Google it!

Date: 2006/05/31 01:16:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Rilke's Granddaughter @ May 30 2006,21:56)

I remember this game but in my anger I've allowed myself to be sucked in, Socrates would be so proud of you, but turn about is fair play so lets look at one of your statements and if we prove its wrong then we prove that you have no idea what you talking about in any respect and maybe even we extrapolate from there that you probably shouldn't even be wasting the precious oxygen on this planet by drawing breath.  Thats your method, right?

and, if I may, Einstein never really embraced quantum theory, remember the famous 'God does not play dice' quote
History, physics.  Factually incorrect.

It is a fact that Einstein made the famous quote "God does not play dice" and he did so in an ongoing agrument with Niels Bohr over quantum theory and its implications that raged back and forth through the 20s.  Now I certainly wasn't there but I've read about it and I'm pretty sure that it happened regardless of what you, Rilke, say.

As to the rest of your comments, they are meaningless.  "Factually incorrect" means what?  That you don't actually know what you're talking about but it makes you look smart to respond in some way on all these statements.  If you'd care to actually address anything thats been said in something more than a one word answer, feel free, but I doubt if you can.

And as far as transitional forms, I'll make my final statement on that because we've moved well beyond that.  There just aren't enough hours in the day to talk about everything.

The fossil record is either a proof in support of the current theory or a proof against it, depends on who you are and when in history we talking about.  Current thinking is that the record displays exactly what we would expect to find.  Historically speaking, this is not what was anticipated because we were told that all the transitional forms were there we just needed to find them.  Now there have been enough potential forms found to close the book in some peoples minds that the fossil record supports evolution (current theory).

I, myself, think that the jury is still out on this issue and may never come to a verdict.  Debates among  paleontologists over new finds, classifications, dating, etc highlights the difficulties inherent in the science.  

Now going back to the original question as to an example of data that had been "falsely fitted", I think you see in the fossil record what you want to see and that makes resolving it problematic.

There, you got your answer and now if you wish to contribute productively, so be it.  If all you wish to do is spew your hatred, you're wasting your time and you might want to do alittle self-examination and figure out why you feel so threatened.

Date: 2006/05/31 15:24:38, Link
Author: skeptic
Interesting discussion, but I will stick to my guns on this.  The major limiting factor are the fossils themselves.  We can infer relationships and recognize patterns and see what we want to see but ultimately nothing conclusive is possible.  What I'd really love to see is if we could somehow recover DNA from these species and make meaningful comparisons, but to date I don't think thats possible.  Although I seem to remember an attempt at recovering DNA from a preserved mastadon.  This was a few years back but did anything ever come from that?

Date: 2006/05/31 15:36:19, Link
Author: skeptic
crystalline ether?  I know GoP says he is not obligated to respond but does anyone else have some background on this?  If I'm not mistaken this has already been addressed.

Date: 2006/05/31 15:42:05, Link
Author: skeptic
BWE, thanks for the link, I'm going to have to get those two papers and compare.

Again, much thanks.

Wes, I'm still reading.

Date: 2006/06/01 03:05:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ericmurphy @ May 31 2006,23:30)

What else would you expect to be able to do with fossils other than "infer relationships and recognize patterns"? What else, even in principle, could be done with fossils? Paleontology isn't really an experiment-driven science in the same way that, e.g., particle physics or chemistry is. Is that your problem with it?

I couldn't agree more but my main limitation on this topic is that I'm just not passionately moved by the fossil record.  Others may see evidence here, those who are trained to see or those who accept their opinion and I am neither.  But ultimately the validity of the current theory will not rise or fall on the strength of the fossil record.  Ironically, it could do more harm then good if fossils were to appear out of time chronology, but thats neither here nor there.

But I'm going to finish up Wes's rebuttal, although its more of a translation than analysis for me.  Wes, do you happen to have the english version, LOL? (I'm claiming a half-point assist on all the barbed comments from that statement)

Anyway, someone is really going to have to let me in on this "troll", I have no idea what you're talking about.

Date: 2006/06/02 04:30:40, Link
Author: skeptic

I've looked at your rebuttal concerning the relative number of intermediates or transitional forms and it seems quite straightforward.  You review what Darwin said and compare that to current expectations and data.  I have very little problem with this except for the calculation of expected transitional forms.  It is outside of my experience to comment on the relative validity of the variables and values you use, except for the number of cataloged species.  So whether or not your result has any real meaning, I don't know but it is a good example and for the sake of arguement, let's assume it to be correct.

So in summary, we've discovered more transitional or intermediate forms then we really should expect to given the obstacles mentioned, such as the low number of intermediates, the difficulties in fossilization, to mobility of evolving animals, etc.  So, as far as addressing any question of gaps, there are no gaps because what we have discovered adheres nicely to the theory and supplies more data than we actually expected to find.  Does this seem like a reasonable assessment?

hold that thought...

Date: 2006/06/02 04:56:19, Link
Author: skeptic
So back to what I was saying, this all seems very reasonable given the "fact" that evolutionary theory is correct.  We have to remember that that is the current reality that we live in.  If I were to give you a puzzle and tell you to put it together but you didn't know what the end result looked like, how many different combinations could you come up with?  That depends upon how uniquely the pieces fit, you say.  So how well do these pieces fit, are there many different pictures possible?  I say "Of course there are" and you say "Definately not" but thats because you already "know" what the picture looks like.

As I said before, I can not go back and independantly confirm the conclusions that have been made because I lack that expertise.  Nor would I because I don't believe the answers will ultimately come from the fossil record, there are just too many limitations, too much uncertainty.  I'll stick to the hard sciences and look for answers there.  You can continue to look at the fossil record and see the picture you want to see and some day when the theory changes the interpretation of the fossil record will change and we'll be looking at a new picture.

Date: 2006/06/02 10:07:30, Link
Author: skeptic
I think common descent may be a possibility but I prefer a parallel descent theme to up the odds and also because if a reaction is going to occur then it will continue to occur and so the fundamental elements will accumulate across the spectrum.  Now I'm pretty sure that common descent does literally mean all life proceeded from one single organism (correct me if I'm wrong) but I think a parellel view has broader implications down the road.

Sorry to off topic for a moment, but has anyone heard of a mechanism in which unused genes or genes no longer expressed are excised from the genome?

I'll get back on topic shortly.

Date: 2006/06/02 17:45:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ June 02 2006,10:25)

And what I picked out was:


This is not the same abundance of forms that was predicted

My little essay is about what was predicted.

You're absolutely right and since I accepted you response "for the sake of arguement" then I've got to concede the whole point.  I'll take this as a lesson that I'll have to be much more clear about the statements I make.  So that means that at this point, the fossil record adheres to the current theory and any proposed gaps are actually not proof against the theory.  I've got to stress, though, that this still requires that the theory be valid and this does not in and of itself validate the theory.

Now Eric made a statement that "Common descent is fact" and this raises alarm bells both philosophically and scientifically.  I'll stick to the scientific and simplely say that there is uncertainty in any observation or measurement.  I believe by your emphasis you are stating that there can be no dispute to this FACT, correct me if I'm wrong, but that does not allow any wiggle room.

Take a parallel descent scenario in which the conditions are favorable for the emergence of complex forms and it happens in multiple locations at the same time.  Because the same types of reactions are favored all these new forms would somewhat resemble each other but develop in independant and yet somewhat similar directions, initially.  Would this be considered common descent because the same mechanism is employed?

And as far as implications down the road, as long as conditions were still favorable these reactions would still be possible and could have or still continue to be occurring. Is it even possible to differentiate a scenario such as this with the data we have available?

Date: 2006/06/02 18:11:37, Link
Author: skeptic

is that an evolutionary evaluation?

Date: 2006/06/02 18:28:49, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not so sure that the neocons were that widespread, maybe a few here and there.  I don't think Congress were that impressed by GW and the boys initially and had it not been for 9/11 I think its safe to say he'd have been gone in four years without much of a fight.

Date: 2006/06/02 18:36:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ericmurphy @ June 02 2006,23:28)

This is why rabbits with feathers or insects with placentas would be fatal to common descent. Would either one be a problem for parallel descent? Common descent is extremely falsifiable. Either of the above results would conclusively disprove it.

Actually, I think rabbits with feathers, et al. would pose a problem for any real theory of evolution.  In fact, it reminds me of the Robin Williams routine in which God smokes dope and puts together the platypus.  But back to the point, I don't think that example exclusively proves common descent.

Date: 2006/06/02 19:24:18, Link
Author: skeptic
what I mean is the presence of nested hierarchies doesn't exclude all other possibilities except for common descent.

Date: 2006/06/02 19:27:39, Link
Author: skeptic
just passing the time...and do forgive me for forgetting that you were an expert on all matters.  Now THATS sarcasm.

Date: 2006/06/02 19:31:20, Link
Author: skeptic
you mean I may go next?

Date: 2006/06/03 03:19:58, Link
Author: skeptic
I was browsing through it as time allows; I'll give it a thorough reading and get back to you on that, but I did notice that it appeared to make the same mistake as to imply that this was "fact" and there can be no possibility of it being proven wrong.  From that premise it is hard to be objective but we'll see.

Date: 2006/06/03 07:49:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Anyone here should be able to rattle off at least three such predictions for you. My favourite examples are:

1) One human chromosome resembling two fused chimp chromosomes
2) Tiktaalik
3) Stoneflies possessing haemocyanin

I'm going to have to look into those alittle deeper, because if I remember correctly each case was not specifically predicted but implied by common descent.  I know its a subtle distinction but it opens up the possibility for greater interpretation.  Also, these examples still do not exclude the possibility of alternative explanations that may also fit the data thats why continued reference to the "fact" of common descent appears pretentious.  We could say that it may be the best option for now, or it most closely matches the data but to close the book on any alternatives seems foolish.

Date: 2006/06/03 09:10:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Icky, why don't you save me some time and cite me a reference on the human chromosome example?  The more I think about it the louder the alarm bells sound.  That example really sounds interesting.  If not I'll find it on my own. It will just take longer.

Date: 2006/06/03 10:15:23, Link
Author: skeptic
plink-plink. Icky.

Date: 2006/06/03 10:27:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks Jean, I just want to make sure we're all working off the same material.  The internet is a big place.

I'm compassionate so here's my last comment for you.  I've read your posts and seen your other posts on other threads and I'm beginning to see a pattern.  I can see regardless of the topic, you are a person I wouldn't hold a very long conversation with.  You're hatred, intolerance and bigotry are tiresome and a waste of my limited time to respond to.  Besides that I'm firmly convinced that english must be your second language because you really don't know what the words you use actually mean.  Use your time more wisely.  Go attack AFDave or GoP or whomever else you wish to because you're wasting your breath, or in this case your extensive cut-and-paste skills, on me.  I think that just about sums it up and I hope I've been clear enough for you.

Date: 2006/06/04 17:55:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ericmurphy @ June 02 2006,23:28)

Common descent is a "fact" to the same extent that the earth is an oblate spheroid is a "fact."

This comparison is faulty and it illustrates. I think, the false thinking around this whole issue.  The shape of the Earth can be directly observed and verified.  You can send a satelite into space, circle the Earth and photograph it and collect conclusive data.  Any resolution of the question of common descent must be inferred from the available data and we are about 4.6 billion years removed from the event.  We will never know conclusively if common descent is true we just have to keep looking at the data and evaluating the results.  Think of it this way, I would bet my life on the shape of the Earth.  Would you really bet your LIFE on common descent?  Think about that seriously.  I think you'll see that there is a very real difference between the two and yet you describe them both as "fact".

To go even further, if I were to say that the three divisions of life, eukaryotes, archaea and eubacteria, developed independantly and are only similar because the mechanisms that are responsible for their development are the same and promote similar outcomes, it would be difficult to dispute that since we have no direct evidence of the common ancestor.

Date: 2006/06/06 16:51:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, I have to thank you for your continued reference to Theobald's article (it's more like a book) because I went back and read it last night and I had a wonderful idea.  More on that in a minute.  When I thought about it, I couldn't really come up with any theory that I would bet my life on.  Some are firm and probably correct within the context of human experience but all are based upon human reasoning and sensory perception and therefore limited.  So I have to say that you guys have more FAITH than I. LOL

You brought up the theory of complementarity a couple of times and I'm not sure exactly what point you were trying to make other than using it as an example.  But for me it is a great example.  The conceptual problems posed by wave-particle duality are huge.  It is compounded even more by the data that seems to confirm both models.  So here's a theory that nobody really likes from an elegant perspective but it gives the correct answers and so we accept it for now.  The same can be said for GR and QM if someone actually succeeds in unifing those theories, physicists around the world will breath a collective sigh of relief.  So would you bet your life on something that seems incomplete or lacking?

What can I say I'm skeptical.  I was the guy who spent many a late night in college in a chemically-induced haze discussing the existence of existence.  There's always another side to the coin and it is only hubris that forces us to deny that.

So back to my idea.  I liked the formalism of Theobald's presentation and I looked at it as a measuring stick.  I want to address each prediction and apply them to an alternate hypothesis or eliminate common descent as the only answer.  In most cases this just involves examining the nature of the question or the nature of data.  I'm not going to try and prove that common descent is not valid because it may be.  I'm just going to try and prove that it is not the only possible answer and that addresses that issue of "fact".

Say what you will, I for one will find this highly beneficial and maybe some of you out there will too, who knows.  It might even rise to the level of a "pop the popcorn" moment.

First prediction soon to come...

Date: 2006/06/06 16:57:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I would say that I'm not an appropriate choice on these two polls, but then I didn't make the poll. LOL

Date: 2006/06/06 18:26:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Conceptual problem such as trying to conceptualize it.  Think of the double-slit experiment.  We've done it over and over again, opened and closed slits, slowed down the particles, etc and so forth and the best explanation anyone has come up with is collapsing the wave function at the instant of observation.  Now that sounds nice and the math works but what does that really mean?  Thats where the conceptual problems come in.  Remember it was Bohr who said, I'm paraphrasing, that if quantum theory didn't give you a headache then you don't understand it.

Anyway, on to the first prediction.

First - my alternative, as I've alluded to in the past, is going to be a parallel evolution model.  In this model, the environment that favors the formation of biomolecules exists and the origin of life proceeds as in common descent except that it occurs in multiple forms, multiple locations, multiple times, etc.  This gives rise to multiple common ancestors and not a theoretical LUCA.  So thats where I'll start and go stepwise throught these conditions laid out be Theobald.

The Fundamental Unity of Life

At first, I thought this was a very straightforward concept that would be addressed quickly with minimal discussion but after thinking about it for about 24 hours I realized that this may not be the case.

To recap, all life is composed of the same components: proteins, RNA, DNA, etc and utilizing similar metabolic pathways and reaction catalysts.  Addtionally, the genetic code is uniform.  All DNA uses three base codons, the codon patterns are the same, etc.  Did I leave anything major out?

In a parallel evolution environment none of these data poses a problem because they have to be so.  The starting materials are the same, the reactions they undergo are the same.  DNA and RNA have to be structured the way they are  based upon molecular forces.  There can't be wildly different structures because the stability of the molecules would be compromised and that is part of their true utility.  Proteins essentially are little machines built out of an amino acid polymer.  They performs functions, catalyze reactions and so forth but they are nothing more than a string of repeating compounds.  Logic would say that other naturally occuring polymers could also develop the same functions but I think its safe to say that rubber is never going to pass as an alternate life form.  Additionally, the multitude of synthetic polymers do not exhibit much potential life.  I going to conclude that proteins are a requirement for life and so would show up in any life form that we examine.

This a very rudimentary approach, but the basic point is that life is defined by proteins, DNA, RNA, etc because it is what works.  There is no other alternative pathway in which an independant organized being, for lack of a better word, could exist.  As proof, we point to the lack of the existence or remains of any such creature.

As far as falsification, it follows the same lines, we never expect to find a non-nucleic acid life form, we expect similar genetic codes because the reactions are favored to occur in specific ways and not through random generation.  Metabolism and catalysts would also be favored and even though theoritically there could be different paths or components we don't see this.  Why, because the theoretically-possible path is not actually possible within the framework of life as its defined.  I'm going to offer any easy way to fail right here, because this can be tested.  It could be possible to engineer a bacterium that used a different catalyst or processed sugar using an dramatically altered yet equivalent pathway.  If anyone knows of such research let me know, otherwise; I'll move on to #2 tomorrow.

Date: 2006/06/07 04:32:02, Link
Author: skeptic
k.e., I think we might be having two different conversations.  The conceptual problem as applied to the double-slit experiment comes froms the fact that we have two bodies of data that seem incompatible and yet independently accurately describe the experiment.  We see both a wave and a particle depending upon what we are looking for.  As for the rest of what you said...well, I'm not really sure what point you're trying to make in the context of this discussion.

Renier, I tend to keep an open mind to string/M theory at this point.  There are some interesting ideas and the explanation is much more satisfying then were we are today.  I know some researchers at Duke are going to try and measure extra dimensional space sometime this year so I'll wait and see how those results turn out.

Are you predicting that mammels and fish are from different initial life forms? Are you predicting that Bacteria and Archea are the results from these different life forms?

I'm going to have to address this issue next when I look at nested hierarchies but just looking at this question I would have to lean more towards the later.  Unfortunately, a complication of this prediction is that life forms could have continued to evolve along parallel paths and continue to do so today.  That would make the lack of a mammel fish common ancestor a possibility no matter how unsavory that sounds.  The alternative would be to say that the conditons favoring parallel evolution no longer exist, anyway I'll be looking at that next.

I agree that this is not a discussion of abiogenesis and I think its safe to say no one will argue that life must have emerged in multiple forms initially.  Even if there is disagreement there that conversation is beyond the scope of this discussion.  What is important about the presence of multiple lifeforms is that currently we believe that one form won out, completely dominated the environment and there is no reminant of any other forms.  No if this is not the case, but those original forms diverged upon different and similar paths then what impact would that have down the evolutionary road.  Thats where I'm headed.

And last but certainly not least, Rilke.  I'm not sure why I bother because I think just addressing you in going to encourage you more.  But here goes...

I stated on the MacGuffin thread that I din't think I was an appropriate choice because of the "creobot" qualification.  GoP, AFDave, et al and I fall into different catagories with the one thing in common being a lack of acceptance of current evolutionary theory.  I think the comparisons end there, but again as I said, I didn't make up the poll.

As for the rest of your rubbish, I'll help you out in one area:
liar - one who lies
lie - to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
Now unless you can read my mind and know my intentions I suggest you go back and look at my statements in a new light and if you have a disagreement something more than a one word retort would be helpful.  Somehow I don't think thats your MO so I don't really expect to see that anytime soon.

Date: 2006/06/07 07:20:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Faid @ June 07 2006,09:57)
You're right, it does sound unsavory.

But how exactly does your "parallel evolution" theory make this a possibility? I don't get it.

In order for parallel evolution to occur the processes that led to those ancestors are still in effect.  We can assume that free energy relationships are the same because we have no reason to believe otherwise.  This means that the reactions involving organic molecules are the same.  In this way the emergence and propagation of life is a favored reaction.  If it happens once it happens multiple times.

The one aspect that we're pretty sure has changed is the environment.  The relative composition of the atmosphere, the available components in the "prebiotic" soup, soil composition, etc.  But at what point did these factors change and what impact could this have had on evolution?  When did the emergence of life become an unfavorable reaction?  Or did it?  In an extreme case we could be talking the independant development of both reptiles and mammels but that really flies in the face of all the collective knowledge to this point.  I'm not inclined in that direction but like I said it is an unfortunate consequence of this line of reasoning.  I'm going to look at this alittle more closely when I address nested hierarchies.

Date: 2006/06/07 07:40:34, Link
Author: skeptic
The two bodies of data I am referring to are the interference pattern and the ability to slow the photon gun down to one particle at a time.  We know only one photon (particle) enters and exits the slit at a time and yet the result is still and interference pattern caused by overlapping wave crests and troughs.  Thats what I was referring to when I talk about two seemingly conflicting bodies of data. Sorry if I wasn't that clear.

Date: 2006/06/07 10:43:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (jeannot @ June 07 2006,15:31)
Clearly, you don't want to prove something based on facts, but try to twist reality so it fits your religious beliefs.

What religious beliefs?

Date: 2006/06/15 17:55:47, Link
Author: skeptic
sincere congrats, its a great achievement.

Date: 2006/06/15 18:43:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry for the long absense but I've been quite busy for the past two weeks.

In fact, I'm going to put this proof on hold for the moment as I'm reading McFadden's Quantum Evolution and Kauffman's At Home in the Universe.  These two have given me some ideas and some interesting lines of thought to follow.  I'll get back to the Common Descent arguement shortly, possibly with a different perspective.

Did want to make one comment.  Wes's comparison to Lamarck is off base, at least where I am concerned.  Lamarck believed in a direct evolution towards a perfected form, similar to a platonic ideal.  I have no such beliefs.  I believe the possible outcomes are restricted based upon the molecular mechanisms at work, but the DNA does not "know" the ultimate goal it is progressing to.

Date: 2006/06/16 17:50:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, if I misunderstood your remark about Lamarck.  I made the assumption that it was a back-handed insult equating my thoughts on this matter to Lamarck's religious foundations for his theories.  My mistake, but it does seem to be the norm for the comments on this board.

I admit, again, you've lost me somewhat with your post.  I wasn't exactly sure what your point was or if there was one, but it did raise an interesting question to me as I was reading it.  Is there an evolutionary basis or justification for religion?  Just a thought.

Flint...nevermind, I don't have that much time tonight.

Date: 2006/06/16 18:00:34, Link
Author: skeptic
A noble suggestion, but as stated before, it is definately not what this board is about.  The reason for that is not the public message board culture it's the subject matter.  If you browse other boards you'll see that many are dominated by adolescent teens on power trips.  Here that is not the case as the education of many of the posters is readily evident.

The problem is there can be no dissent concerning evolution.  It is a political, nearly religious, conviction that allows no alternative.  You said it yourself:

It's hard to hold back when someone who has no idea what he's talking about tries to tell you that your passion (or in some cases, life's work!;) is bunk.

This is what I find most fascinating and frustrating at the same time.

Date: 2006/06/16 18:58:15, Link
Author: skeptic
are you aware of an alternative explanation that does a better job of accounting for all the evidence?

The current theory of evolution is not actually one theory but a combination of many ideas that seem to fit together.  Furthermore, to assume that they are correct because we can think of nothing better right now is lazy.  Innovation in science is driven by ideas followed by research but the current environment does not allow progress in this area.  How can any scientist with any ambition or thoughts of professional success stray beyond the dogma.  You've read my thread so you should have noticed that most of what I've said is not very original.  You can read alot of it in the work of scientists over the last twenty years.  In fact, not much of it is even that outrageous.  Now go back and read the responses and the tone of the posters.  From the name calling to the absurd assumptions, I'm attacked not for what I've said just for the fact that I've said it.

Now I know you'll all disagree and swear that you're responding to substance but that's a lie and you know it.  The level of hatred in this "holy war" is amazing and everyone should really sit back and take a breath.  A perfect example is the labeling of Dave as a child molester, what a stupid analogy.  But this is where the debate has led us and it is so unneccessary.  Anyway, don't take my word for it.  We'll let the evidence speak for itself.  Play close attention to the reception the next new poster gets...we'll see.

Date: 2006/06/16 19:04:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Neutral theory.
Punctuated equilibria.

Not a real stretch.  Even PE has been subsumed and minimized in it importance where there could be contradiction.

Date: 2006/06/17 02:32:16, Link
Author: skeptic
This thread is an excellent case study so I'll give you an example.

Skeptic says:

The sky is blue!

Ok, now have at it.

Date: 2006/06/17 11:19:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ June 17 2006,15:16)
No one said afdave was a child molester.

well, technically, someone did.  But they quickly retracted that and clarified what they meant, with evidence in support, no less.

It wasn't just a case of name calling.

 If my proposal has been tried before and has been shown to be totally ineffective, then discard it.

I've NEVER seen it work with someone who comes in guns blazing, fresh off reading a Coulter book or similar.

again, anybody who comes in with a reasonable approach is given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.  Skeptic may deny this, but you can examine the thread yourself and see otherwise.

I'm pretty sure Rilke has never retracted her child molester statement.

But besides that what is reasonable?  This is a site to debate evolution or antievolution as the case may be.  Should that be done or is there no debate?  Is reasonable we someone enters and says I'd like to believe in evolution but my school system hasn't allowed it, can you teach me?


Or are we really here to amuse ourselves by bashing christians, jews, hindi, muslims, (insert religion here), republicans, conservatives, fundamentals, etc and so forth, while we feel superior because we're the only ones in possesion of the truth?

Yeah, that sounds about right!

Date: 2006/06/17 11:23:36, Link
Author: skeptic
A victim, I am not.  In fact, you guys have me pegged so wrong, its not even funny but thats not the point.  I find the entire dynamic of this board so interesting and I just couldn't resist commenting about it.

Date: 2006/06/17 11:52:14, Link
Author: skeptic
I don't think so.  There are many immediate assumptions that are made.  Everything is perceived as a threat, an insult, an affront to your way of life, profession or personal philosophy.  The whole idea of having a "scientific" discussion with someone who believes the Earth is 6000 years old is ludicrous.  To think that ID has some alternative standing and therefore must be attacked with all guns blazing is mindless.  It speaks volumes to the personal attitudes of the people on this board, unless its just pure entertainment, which I can personally identify with.  Unfortunately, I don't think that is true for many of the people here.

Date: 2006/06/17 11:57:01, Link
Author: skeptic
So based upon this line of thinking, half the nation is a wash and deserved to be insulted and minimized regardless of what they say because of what they may believe.  They're just not worth the effort anymore.

Date: 2006/06/17 12:52:41, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ericmurphy @ June 17 2006,17:03)
They have an actual stake in this phony "debate," and they're aware that in the court of public opinion (not in the scientific arena) they're losing the battle. So don't be surprised if you get some hot tempers here.

Now, in the meantime: do you see why the existence of nested hierarchies kills the possibility of parallel evolution? You never responded to my post.

I'm of the belief that you fuel the fire just by engaging in the argument.  Whatever the polls may say in the court of public opinion ultimately do not matter in the pursuit of science.  If this played out in a worst case scenario the only real impact would probably be that science would be taught more vigorously in the public school system.  ID is not an alterative, it is ultimately unsatisfying as a philosophy and time and exposure will bear that out.  There's no reason for anger; it should just be ignored.  That's my two cents and it is very easy for me to take that perspective because I'm not emotionally invested.

As for nested hierarchies, boy you were right about that one.  Its a challenge and I don't have the resources or background to adequately challenge it.  What I wanted to do was to show that a parallel scenario could fit the data also but the research into phylogeny and morphology is taking some time,  For that I do apologize and honestly I fully expect to fail but there is a response coming.

Date: 2006/06/17 16:16:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ June 17 2006,17:58)
so which is that you feel you are?

target drone?



I'm not sure that I would classify myself as any of the three.  I certainly like the learning aspect of the info you guys provide, but I'm not practising agruments for any agenda.  I personally like the discussions, when they occur.  Its my diversion from work.

Also, Eric I've changed gears.  I'm going to apply nested hierarchies to parallel evolution and show that they're not mutually exclusive.  Looks much more promising this way.

Just saw your post, "passing like two ships in the night" LOL
I'm still going to take a look at it this way for now and see where that leads.  Also, I'm not of the camp that evolution did not occur because I certainly believe it did.  I'm just interested in the hows and whys.

Date: 2006/06/18 03:45:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Boy did I miss a lot last night.  I'll try to hit the high points as best I can.

As you said, public opinion vs evolution hasn't changed in twenty years and yet science has advanced tremendously.  Creationism has morphed into ID and it will likely take on some other form but again to no avail.  It has nothing to offer in the scientific arena.  Its pure philosophy/theology (whichever you chose) and nothing more.

For example: here's where you defeat the ID argument.
ID says: Life is so complex that it must has created by some intelligent creator.

Science says: Ok, prove it.

Thats it agrument's over.  There's really nothing more to be said.  All the teachers that would supply this line of reasoning to school children could go no further than that and at some point these children progress in scientific study because they are interested in SCIENCE and see that there is no foundation in science for this belief.  They can believe it all they want but then they have to get back to the business of science.  I'm sure that not every scientist in the world is an atheist, there are some of a religious affiliation and science gets along just fine.  In the cases of Kansas, Dover and I believe Alabama, the decisions were to offer an alternative to evolutionary theory but not to exclude it.  We don't live in a theocracy.  There's only so far this could go and besides in two years it is very likely that the political winds will shift dramatically and ID may wither away publically.

Date: 2006/06/18 04:10:53, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric and Jay, I'm going to address yours jointly since they both follow the same line.  First, I'm going to look into whether or not common descent actually excludes parallel evolution given the example of marsupials, etc.  I've seen genetically derived phylogenic trees of viruses that looked like a rainbow for a single species (I try to post one of those or get a link for you guys).  So I'm going to look it to that and I'll post what I find.

Now if we go back to the emergence of life and we can all agree that it may have happened individually in many different locals at many different times then we would have to conclude that in order reach the a common descent scenario then all of these forms must have died out or converged and then diverged again to generate the present life forms we see today.  Is this likely?  Given the fact that conditions were favorable for the emergence of life and the proliferation of life, why would it not continue to happen?  I wouldn't reserve PE for an orgins scenario but for a continuing diversity scenario.  Given the time and technology, if we converted the current tree of life into a genetically-based one wouldn't it get more complex and what patterns would emerge out of that?  PE would be represented as multiple common ancestors, more extinction, and some convergance throughout the tree. (I'm working on some diagrams to demostrate this).  Anyway, this whole exercise is foundational to my biggest problem with the current theory and that is random mutation.  I don't believe them to be random at all.  Everything in chemistry and biochemistry seems at odds with random mutation.  This planet has conditions that are favorable to life and biomolecules have exploited that favorability for billions of years.  I'm interested in the mechanisms behind that exploitation.

Date: 2006/06/18 06:24:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Thank you for that great post and the serious response you applied to the question.

My only point for asking the question was to imply that we see religion for what it is and see that there's no real need to attack or make it obsolete.  Science and religion do not coverge as much as creationists wish it were so.  Science can ignore it and move on.  Individuals will have to compartmentalize on their own beliefs and attitudes but the two spheres of influence do not (or should not) overlap and should not antagonize.  I know that history shows this not to be true but that would be a noble goal.  Again, just me opinion.

And blipey, I'll work on that coffee-spewing trick.

Date: 2006/06/18 16:05:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, I'm not sure you're living in the real world and your anger causes such irrational statements.  I'm sory if you feel threatened.  I do not.  I perceive no threat of substance because there is none.  We could go back and forth citing instances of govt abuses and successes in the area of research funding over the last administration but it doesn't matter they are transient.  There will be other administrations and other policies.  There's a good chance there will always be some form of organized religion, so what?  There's no need to focus so much of your energy on something that will ultimately have very little effect upon human history.  To take your example, a teacher takes it upon himself to interpret the mention of ID as free rein to preach religion in the classroom.  If by some miracle he/she is not sued by the ACLU, then what?  Those students go on to secondary education and hear a different story, ask some questions and make their conclusions.  Free will.  Look at the odds: how many Behes et al are there.  Maybe ten individuals with any name recognition?  Now how many scientists accept the current theory? thousands?  I'm sorry I think you do more damage and lend more credibility to ID by engaging them and especially with this level of anger and hostility.

Now tell me with your full knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry where you see a support for randomness.  No one word answers here, I want you to think about it and tell me what you know or think you know.  I think you'll find the task a bit harder than some violent insult impling that you know what you're talking about.

Date: 2006/06/19 15:19:12, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy first,
Your anger is a perfect example of the problem (not a personal one, mind you but of the larger debate) and exactly why we should not participate in this debate.  The IDers seem to have one huge advantage, they know their audience.  If you look at the general population about 99% of them have little or no formal training in science.  When they hear evolution all they hear is "monkeys to men" and "there is no god".  IDers present them with this "reasonable" explanation in sympathetic tone.  On the other side science jumps in with anger and contempt and looks defensive and threatened.  Now for John Q. Public, in which evolution has absolutely zero impact upon his daily life, the case is closed and it doesn't matter how much you scream and yell and call him a hay-seed hick, you've lost and you're only making matters worse.

As far as the teaching of religion in school, that is not a scientific argument.  It is a constitutional argument that should be left to the ACLU.  Science has no standing in either the religious or constitutional nature of this debate.  By jumping in and taking sides, that gives the false impression that science is anti-religious.  Again, adding fuel to the fire.

Science should step back, let the constitutional agrument run its course.  Anyone on the ID side has an obvious agenda.  Things will work themselves out.  Science needs to stick to science.

I think that would temper the debate, change some attitudes and let some rationality back into the discussion.  I take it you will disagree due to the impending Dark Ages scenario that you see on the horizon, I just don't see it working out that way, but then again I think I'm alittle less high-strung then you are (I could be wrong about that, just an observation).

I agree, I don't like the confusion caused be the use of PE for percisely the reason you state.  PE for me rises up as a consequence of my aversion to random mutation. (Getzal stay tuned, I'm getting to it)  I'm at a lose as to what other term I could use without further mischaracterizing it.  I'll offer my view toward mutations and what that implies in an evolutionary sense and maybe you could offer an alternative. (I know some of you have some ideas already what you would call it but let's try to control ourselves, shall we?)

Date: 2006/06/19 15:39:37, Link
Author: skeptic
Random mutation, meaning that the mutation that occurs has no bearing upon the fitness of the result, implies that a mutation occurs (good, bad or neutral) and is only fixed if the animal survives and prospers but the initial impact of the mutation is unknown. Does that sound close to what you're saying?  Just trying to put it in my own words so there's no misunderstanding.

We know that different parts of the genome mutate at different rates.  Some genes are conserved at greater frequency.  Is it true that these tend to be beneficlal genes?  The interactions that influence this vulnerability are purely hydrophobic/hydrophilic and electrostatic and to some extent could be regulated by the cell.  My hypothesis is that mutations are encouraged or favored in response to pressure s (call them selective, if you like) in order to encourage diversity as a means of survival.

The consequence of this in a parallel sense is that under similar circumstances, similar animals evolve along similar paths because the mechanism driving mutation is generic.  We could have the emergence of three independant branches in the tree of life because they started off in the same environment and were workin out of the same tool kit, so to speak.  The convergence I suggested would arise if two similar species are close enough that their germ plasma is compatible and their offspring are fertile, examples are lion + tiger and more recently grizzley + kodiak.  To answer an earlier question: animals and fish could have developed independantly at just show the similarities due to the same paths (for a time) of evolution.  thats a quick summary and theres the basis for some of my objections,  I already hear the crys of "be more specific?" and "where's your evidence?"...well I'll work on that.  This is just my parttime entertainment and career and family do come first.

Date: 2006/06/21 18:14:42, Link
Author: skeptic
I think we have just a mild disagreement.  In my opinion, whether you teach religion in science class, math class, art class, etc it is always a constitutional issue.  The reason I say this is the only authority on which to oppose this is found in the Constitution.  You can not open a biology text and find justification to oppose this teaching.  Religion is out side the scope of the subject matter.  What you can and should do is comment upon the relavance of the subject matter.  Then it becomes an issue of cirriculum and that can be addressed through accredation.  This puts the ball in the hands of local school boards but the consequences are the students are identified as not receiving a comprehensive education.  Maybe this is a difference without distinction, but it seems a much less religiously antagonistic course of action and much more grounded in science standards.  Just a thought.

I agree that definitions are very important because it is so easy for me to try to say something quickly any succinctly and watch the next 15 posts not catch my intention.

As far as "directed", I have purposely tried to avoid this word because I don't like the implications.  I would not attribute an "intelligence" to the favorablity of mutations, unless you want to attribute it at the enzyme level and thats not really the same thing at all.  What I prefer is the idea that mutation at a particular is a result of the vulnerability of that gene segment during replication to errors, addition, etc which is a function immediate environmental conditions (ion concentration, nucleoside availability, DNA repair response, etc) and these conditions are regulated to some degree by the cell.  In a sense, it is a multivarient system with a high degree of complexity but it is not random...maybe regulated is a better term here.  So the mutation is not random in a mathematical sense, but it is also not really random from a fitness perspective because the DNA is undergoing mutation in response to the current conditions (whatever they may be) and at particular genes to encourage...what?  I don't know, that would really depend upon the gene in question and the conditions initiating the response.  But ultimately, the actual mutation that occurs would not be "directed" or guided by an "intelligence" or else they would always (or almost always) be benefical and never neutral or detrimental.  A bad analogy would be that the organism needs some changes, has a general idea where to start and then "takes a couple of shots in the dark" and sees what comes out of it.  So you might say that the ultimate outcome may be indeterminate but there's been some assitance along the way.

Now I'm sure that's pretty much incomprehensable but at this late hour it makes sense to my tired brain.

Date: 2006/06/22 17:18:25, Link
Author: skeptic
You know Ichy, I've been thinking about that exact thing.  Although, I certainly never seriously entertained the thought of reinventing evolutionary theory after reflection I probably should have named the thread "Reinventing the Evolutionary Theory Debate".  What I find particularly interesting are the sidebars.  Take for instance the post concerning the parasitic nature of non-coding genes, now that gives me something to chew on.

Eric, when you use the pebble in the stream analogy, the curiousity in me wants to know what the stream of selection is, so to speak.  If we look at natural selection, the animals that prosper reproductively are "conserving" those new mutations be they good, bad or neutral.  But if I understand it correctly, this type of selection is completely independant of the mutation process.  Is that how we understand the random mutation + natural selection system to work?  Two seperate and unrelated processes that "work" together resulting in the evolution of the animal population?  I guess I see a much more related and interconnected process that results in a similar outcome.

Date: 2006/06/22 17:23:55, Link
Author: skeptic
The meal is so big sometimes you just don't know where to start and I always did like to eat my desert first.

Date: 2006/06/22 17:36:41, Link
Author: skeptic
Those bad habits are long gone relics of my youth, although the appreciation for good music never fades.  I commend you for your taste.

Date: 2006/06/23 00:22:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, sorry for the misunderstanding, that was why I used work in quotes.  In that respect I was trying to summarize current theory to make sure there was no misunderstanding, how ironic.

Anyway, I see these processes as much more interrelatd as opposed to the notion that they are independant.  I've got the specifics of an experiment in mind and I'll post a summary protocol when I get a chance later this evening.  It will make my position more clear.

Date: 2006/06/24 07:43:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Take a look at this and let me know what you guys think:

Paper on Evolution via Environmental Stress

Date: 2006/06/24 11:26:25, Link
Author: skeptic
I assumed that some on the statements they made would cause some consternation but the paper did seem to be well sourced.  I'm following up on some of those to see if they were taken out of context or misrepresented.  On the other hand, given my earlier statements in a similar vein, I'm inclined to view this work favorably.

Date: 2006/06/25 17:42:29, Link
Author: skeptic
So, what you're saying is that these are not reputable scientists doing valid research and being published in a scientific peer-reviewed journal?  This smells alittle like hypocrisy...

Date: 2006/06/25 18:05:43, Link
Author: skeptic
Interesting line of reasoning, so the idea is that this is a low quality of material that has been published.  The reason for this seems to be that some of the statements the authors make are disturbing in light of the current theory (past also, as some references are towards Darwin).  On the other hand, how about the substance of the paper...I'm going to take a guess and say that you don't have an extensive background in metazoan evolution, lipid membrane chemistry and heat shock genes (no slight intended, just playing the odds) so given that assumption what aspect of the research is of low quality?  As I've said before, the paper seems to be adequately sourced.  I'm following the publication to see if there is a rebuttal coming so time will tell there.

So if I'm right and you really have no basis to object to the substance of the paper then all this opposition can only be to the implications of these results and the author's justification for pursuing the research in the first place.  Not well grounded opposition.  I was just reading AFDave's thread earlier and I'm starting to think there might be some similarities...

Date: 2006/06/26 02:22:03, Link
Author: skeptic
"you're not even wrong"

Funny, I've had the same quote bouncing around in my head all weekend. (insert predictable insult here)

Anyway, let's get "sciency" as AFDave would say.  Back to the substance of the paper, what aspect of the research seems of low quality? That must be an easy question for one of your intellect.

Date: 2006/06/26 11:24:30, Link
Author: skeptic
jean, I think I'm pretty firm on natural selection but I did need some clarification on one of your remarks.

but without reproductive isolation, speciation is by definition impossible

here by reproductive isolation, are you referring to germ plasma incompatability or behavior incompatibility, or both?

Eric, I've been reviewing the "parallel" evolution term and after reviewing this paper I like "simultaneous" evolution better.  That eliminates the confusion with the accepted concept of Parallel Evolution.

Ichy, I hate to deal with this on a personal level so please just feel free to join in whenever you feel capable.

Date: 2006/06/26 11:47:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Science 4 December 1998:
Vol. 282. no. 5395, p. 1796
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5395.1796a
Prev | Table of Contents | Next  

News of the Week
Heat Shock Protein Mutes Genetic Changes
Elizabeth Pennisi
When Charles Darwin formulated his ideas about evolution, he did not really understand the source of its raw material: the inherited variation that he saw in plants and animals. And even modern evolutionary biologists struggle to explain how closely related organisms could come to look and act quite differently, sometimes in a relatively short period of time. New work now points to one possible explanation: Genomes apparently have a way of saving up mutations for a rainy day.

In the 26 November issue of Nature, cell biologists Suzanne Rutherford and Susan Lindquist of the University of Chicago reported findings suggesting that the fruit fly genome contains a hidden reservoir of small mutations. Normally, the researchers find, these mutations are masked by HSP90, one of the so-called heat shock proteins that bind to other proteins to protect them against stresses such as high temperatures and also help newly made proteins fold correctly. But when HSP90 is out of commission, as might happen for example when an organism is under stress and the heat shock protein is tied up in its protective role, it can no longer stabilize mutant proteins and keep them working properly. Instead the mutations are revealed. Usually, they alter physical traits in harmful ways but may in some cases produce changes that help the organism adapt to the stress.

Researchers already knew that some organisms have ways to increase mutation rates in response to stress, generating more genetic diversity for natural selection to act on (Science, 21 August, p. 1131). But this is the first clear example of any stockpiling of genetic changes. By permitting the organism to harbor a reservoir of mutations without harm under ordinary circumstances, HSP90 "gives [it] the capacity to evolve rapidly" when circumstances change, says Marc Kirschner, a cell biologist at Harvard University. "The work is really very cool," says Patricia Foster, a bacterial geneticist at Boston University School of Public Health. "It's a wonderful concept."

Rutherford and Lindquist first wondered whether HSP90 might protect individuals against genetic mutations when they noticed that a few percent of fruit flies with mutations that disable the protein had any of a variety of developmental abnormalities: misshapen wings or legs, abnormal eyes, face, or bristles, or other odd physical flaws. The researchers then began breeding experiments to determine the cause of these abnormalities and HSP90's contribution to them.

First they mated flies with similar mutations with one another. Not all the offspring were abnormal, however, and "that pattern indicated that there were multiple genes [involved]" even for a single abnormal trait, such as deformed eyes, says Lindquist. Normal flies resulted when a defective gene in one parent compensated for a different defective gene in the other. In addition, after several generations of mating only abnormal flies, further mating of those defective progeny with flies that make normal HSP90 did not make the abnormalities disappear. This suggests, Lindquist says, that the mutant HSP90 gene did not cause the changes directly. It also indicated that these defects had become so concentrated in the genome that HSP90 couldn't prevent abnormalities from showing up.

It seemed to her, however, that when the flies didn't have too many genetic changes, the normal heat shock protein could mask the mutations--a function that is lost when HSP90 is disabled. Subsequent experiments proved that to be the case. When the researchers fed young normal fruit flies a substance that stifles heat shock protein activity, about 8% more of the resulting adult flies were deformed. But perhaps most intriguing, Rutherford and Lindquist found that even fruit flies with a normal HSP90 gene can develop abnormalities when they are raised in either unusually high or low temperatures, 30 or 18 degrees Celsius, well above or below the 25 degrees Celsius they favor.

Based on these findings, Rutherford and Lindquist conclude that under normal conditions, HSP90 compensates for the small genetic glitches that would otherwise alter the stability and function of the fly's proteins. How the protein does so is still unclear. "It's probably fixing things in a variety of different ways," Lindquist explains. For example, HSP90 might help a protein involved in fly development fold properly even when its amino acid sequence is not quite right because of a mutation. As a result, mutations can accumulate without any apparent effects.

But if HSP90 itself is abnormal, or if unusual temperatures or other stresses deplete the supply of HSP90, then the consequences--either good or bad--of those mutations emerge. "If it happens to be good for the flies, then they [will survive] and can continue to express that trait," Lindquist points out.

This picture expands the role of heat shock proteins and other so-called chaperones that help fold proteins, notes Richard Morimoto, a molecular biologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. More than just helping other proteins, these molecules may shape an organism's evolutionary potential. Depending on the context--such as the ambient temperature--HSP90 and possibly other chaperones can radically change the way an organism looks or acts. "It's a way you can dramatically change entire classes or proteins," he suggests.

Researchers have yet to learn whether other heat shock proteins work similarly and whether HSP90 masks genetic change in organisms other than the fruit fly. Morimoto expects the answer to be yes on both counts. HSP90's activity in Drosophila, he predicts, "is not going to be unique."

Wes, is there a way to upload articles and papers so I don't have to cut and paste like this?

Date: 2006/06/27 09:06:10, Link
Author: skeptic
I don't at all think this article implies a contradiction to evolution (Darwinian or otherwise).  What I like about these two examples are the potential explanatory nature of the mechanisms behind mutation.  I favor movement towards a more robust description or inquiry behind some the concepts behind mutation, random mutation, environmental influences and pressures, etc.

Date: 2006/06/27 17:42:21, Link
Author: skeptic
I've been thinking about that for a couple of weeks and I think it might have been more appropriate to title it "Reinventing the Evolutionary Theory Debate" but I still would also like to encourage a movement away from the random mutation + natural selection model to a model more focused on the mechanisms of mutation because I envision something more in line with these two examples in which mutation is the cell's response to environmental stress and pressures.  So I'm torn in two directions but ultimately the only point was to encourage discussion from multiple points of view and gauge how the theory stands according to different disciplines.

Date: 2006/06/30 12:08:31, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not a subscriber so I can not follow the link but in line with the topic I thought I had read somewhere that the orangutan was our closest relative.  Is that currently accepted or under debate?

Just trying to cure some of my ignorance.

Date: 2006/06/30 12:39:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Wow, I'm way off.  I was pretty sure I had heard that.  I'm going to look that up and see what I may (or may not) have heard.

Date: 2006/06/30 12:42:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Here it is

The Red Ape

But I don't recall reading it, anybody read this?

Date: 2006/06/30 15:19:25, Link
Author: skeptic
pity, I've always liked the little old man imagery of the orangutan.

Date: 2006/07/05 17:45:20, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry for the long break but I've been on vacation.

I've been thinking through the nested hiearchies vs simultaneous evolution and I'm not so sure that one excludes the other given the current data.  If we assume that the fossil record is just a snap shot of previous life forms and that large segments of history will be missing due to discovery, inequal distribution, fossilization processes, etc then a complete record would tend to be more complex then the one we see now.  Does that sound reasonable?

My idea of a simultaneous scenario would create a more compex record in which similar species under the same pressures would be evolving in the same direction.  Examination of available fossils might show a common ancestor for a later forms if one of the other ancestors was never discovered.  In a sense, the real gaps in the fossil record could be masking a much more complex picture that points away from simple common descent and we would never know the difference.  The only way that I can see nested hiearchies absolutely ruling this kind of simultaneous scenario is if the fossil record was complete.  That way we would see that groups evolved from one common ancestor only and so on down the line.

I'd be interested in your objections because I'm having trouble seeing how nested hiearchies would rule this out.

Date: 2006/07/06 03:36:05, Link
Author: skeptic
I agree with everything you're saying up to this point

In a world where "simultaneous evolution" happened, we wouldn't see this sort of thing. There would be insects with feathers, or with placentas, mammals with gills, rabbits with exoskeletons, etc. We don't see any of those things in living organisms, and the fact that we also don't see them in fossils is merely additional support for an observation that hardly needs it. The mere fact that we can trace out phylogenetic trees at all is dispositive when it comes to common descent with modification.

The scenario I'm talking about is still a "descent with modification" one.  All mutation would still be working upon the genome preceding it so you couldn't get the crossing of traits that you're suggesting.  I read an interesting paper about crab development in which the progression to a crab-like form from a common ancestor was inevitable past a certain point.  This not only reinforces what you've stated but it also suggests a defined mechanism at work and maybe not just the random accumulation of beneficial mutation.  What I'm suggesting is given similar species A, B & C in reproductive isolation for a time but under the same pressures the resulting A', A", B', C', C", C"', etc would be very similar and in the event of isolation breakdown you could get B' + C' -> BC.  In this case, who is the common ancestor?  Is it B, C or do we go back down the line.  If we do then it becomes arbitrary and we could trace this line all the way back to origin but in that case we come to a tree with three trunks and only a theoretical common ancestor.

I think it might be semantic.  All I would anticipate is a more complex picture then what we see now; in fact, the kind of picture we see when we start looking at genetic descriptions of species.  I don't see the same possiblilty for violating nested hiearchies as you allude to so maybe I'm not being very clear (again) on the scenario I'm proposing.

Date: 2006/07/08 16:07:38, Link
Author: skeptic
As far as similar species, I'll go back to the recent example of the kodiak and polar bear.  This example illustates the confusion that arises from the species definition (I think).  Anyway, two very closely related animals that were considered to be separate species, then they mate and produce reproducing progeny.  Two possiblilities here, either they never diverged enough to become reproductively incompatible (so were they really ever two species) or they evolved along similar paths (mechanisms) and became compatible again.  I would hope that as technology proceeds our classification system changes to genome based species definition.  I've never been completely comfortable with a reproduction based system even though it handles the vast majority of cases, the exceptions really bug me.

As far as the placental and marsupial wolves scenario, I don't see that as probable either but I wouldn't rule out distant descendants (+ millions of years) converging.  It's a safe statement on my part as none of us will be around to observe the results.

As far as LUCA, I'm not at the point to accept a single ancestor.  The data indicates three points of ancestry which we reason must have come from a single organism.  I prefer to stick to the data and recognize three individual trees until more information surfaces.  I agree that there is one True Tree and I agree that we may (probably) never see it.  I liken the current tree to a puzzle and we fit in the pieces to make the picture and so far the picture looks to be coming around but there's a good possibility that one day the emerging picture won't be appropriate any longer and we'll have to backtrack and continue on.

As far as a scenario, I don't have a specific model completely worked out and to be honest its not my field nor do I have the time to do it justice but I can see from the literature that there are people working in that direction so I'll give you the nuts and bolts.  

hold on...

Date: 2006/07/08 16:33:07, Link
Author: skeptic
I'd like to offer a bit of irony to this discussion.  Louis seems to lament the regurgitation of facts style of teaching in most public schools, a sentiment that I agree with by the way, and implies that it enourages or supports the spread of creationism.  And yet current teaching of evolutionary theory at the high school and early college level is expected to be accepted, memorized and regurgitated.  No original ideas are tolerated and there are "Right" and "Wrong" answers.

I accept that this could be the product of the current debate where the ID argument is attempted to be displayed as a valid scientific argument.  Personally, I don't accept that premise but shouldn't students who are taught to think for themselves and critically evaluate an argument be able to come to that conclusion themselves?  Or are we afraid that most will just take the easy way out, a la Feynman?

just a thought, if we really want to encourage individual thinking and original ideas and teach the tools to encourage this then we have to be prepared for the products of these students.  Think of it as an example of the Rule of Unintended Consequences.

Date: 2006/07/08 17:15:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Ok, here goes.  I relate everything back to mechanisms.  For me, I want to see observable, verifiable and repeatable.  I believe that is how we accumulate human knowledge and that in a nutshell is my philisophical motivation.  I hope that addresses your suspicion.

So I view evolution as the product of a chemical reaction or a whole host of chemical reactions.  Each one necessary individually and as a step in the whole process.  

I'll just look at the Hsp example.  I like the implications of this model because it is more satisfying the current theory on both a rational and explanatory level.  In this model, mutation and the actual site of mutation is a direct response to environmental stress.  Within a certain stressed population, individuals are evolving in generally the same way, the difference may amount to the type of mutation at that gene site and the diversity arises in isolated pockets.  This diversity still must by amplified by natural selection with the added bonus of a feedback mechanism to stabilze the genome as the environmental stress receeds, presumably from a successfully adapted organism.  What are the consequences of this kind of mechanism.  Evolution would occur in jumps separated by long periods of stasis.  Vital parts of the genome would have to evolve superior damage-repair responses for those organisms to continue to prosper.  There would large amounts of conservation across the Tree of Life because mutation sites would be restricted and environmental stress would be similar for many life forms.  Species may arise in remote locations under the same stress factors at the same or different times (this could be a deal breaker but theoretically it would be possible).  

Of course, this specific model may not be accurate but something along this line is much more appealing to me because it reinforces the apparent fact that life on this planet is inevitable, and not just the emergence but the propagation of life.  Whether we look at the planet or the universe, life is probable.  String theory proposes that we live in the one of every possible universes in which those factors necessary for life exist.  Interesting way of looking at it, but it is hard to deny at least from our perspective that life is a favored outcome and if so then we should examine mechanisms in which that may be true.  

Somewhat of a mix of model and philosophy but its a hint as to why I don't like a random mutation + natural selection model.  Just doesn't seems like an adequate scenario given what we know or think we know.

Date: 2006/07/08 17:20:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Chris Hyland @ July 08 2006,21:42)
Two possiblilities here, either they never diverged enough to become reproductively incompatible (so were they really ever two species) or they evolved along similar paths (mechanisms) and became compatible again.

It's the first one, trust me. I would love to hear an explanation of how this 'evolved along similar paths to become repoductively compatible again' thing works.

If it is the first one, and I'm inclined to agree with you, what does that say about the way we currently define species?

Date: 2006/07/25 12:01:19, Link
Author: skeptic
And all of this applies to evolution how?

Date: 2006/07/25 12:29:30, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ericmurphy @ July 09 2006,01:39)
But I guarantee you: the fact that Kodiak and polar bears are interfertile is not because they've converged. They're interfertile because they haven't diverged sufficiently to be completely reproductively isolated.

I guarantee you, the odds that two organisms which are initially incapable of interbreeding will never "converge" to the point where they can interbreed. The chances of something like that happening are insignificant. There's no way that the ancestors of Kodiak and polar bears were less genetically compatible in the past and became more so. Genetics simply doesn't work that way, Skeptic.

And the chances of placental and marsupial wolves ever "converging" genetically enough to actually interbreed are zero. I don't care how many billions of years you wait.

I've been gone for awhile, but this post has been bothering me the whole time and I didn't exactly know why.  I've been reading The Blind Watchmaker and it just clicked for me.  It's all about philosophy.

The idea that you can make any guarantee is not a scientifically valid statement.  Science doesn't make guarantees.  It offers explanations to explain the data available at the time but is always adaptable should new data present itself.  To that end, a scientific fact is only a fact in the sense that it accurately describes a given set of data.  In contrast, when the lay person hears fact they equate that to Truth.  Scientific fact can change tomorrow if new data arises; Truth (if it exists) does not change.

So why should this matter?  After reading Dawkins and reflecting upon the Religion Poll post I'm realizing that many people defend evolution not based upon the facts but upon the fact that they need it to be true to support their philosophy.

I was struck by the surprise that a few posters expressed when seeing the results of the religion poll.  Why are there so many atheists and agnostics on the site?  This site represents a defense against creationism/ID and who is threatened by a rise in creationism/ID?  It makes perfect sense to me.

Last November in Natural History Dawkins was writing about evolutionary theory and I believe he was purposely trying to blur the distinction between scientific fact and Truth because for him there can be no difference.  In order for his belief to stand up evolutionary theory must be Truth.  I'm beginnning to see that here also.

So this appears to be an argument of two philosophies, neither of which are really concerned with the science unless it supports their particular side.

With that, I think I've answered one of my original questions when joining this debate, and that is that there is no room for debate.  I think that is the end of this thread, but I'll continue to listen.  Who knows I could be wrong, there is always that possiblility.

Date: 2006/07/25 12:33:17, Link
Author: skeptic
I think it might be something deeper since there is no connection between climate politics and evolution.

Date: 2006/07/25 13:52:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I see religion vs religion.

Date: 2006/07/25 14:20:50, Link
Author: skeptic
A good exercise would be to define reality.  I think you'll find that nothing is so cut and dried.

Date: 2006/07/25 14:54:56, Link
Author: skeptic
In the history of the world there have been millions of speciation events.  For every single one a single species has diverged away from other members of the species enough so that they are not able to interbreed.  We have never seen a single instance of two species converging so as to become interbreedable.  In fact, using our current understanding of biology we can successfully predict that the likelyhood of such an event is astronomical, or we can keep it simple and say:  No Way in ####.

There is no way to absolutely make this statement because we have never observed a speciation event.  We infer that it happens and we can develop some theories about how it may happen but we can not know for sure.  And furthermore we must always entertain the possibility that it didn't happen if new data presents itself; otherwise, we're not practising good science we're just repeating dogma.  The possibility exists that an OG can win MVP no matter how unlikely and to deny that just reveals our predispositions towards QBs, RBs, etc and against linemen.  There is an equal analogy in this case.

Date: 2006/07/26 02:10:42, Link
Author: skeptic
First I'd like to thank getzal for that wonderful example.  Here's a case in which you have no clue as to what you are talking about nor could you (unless you actually knew me, of course) and yet you make these absurd statements with absolute conviction and take them as fact.  Thank you.

As to the evidence, there is a difference between a data set and the extrapolations made from the data set.  A perfect example is the apparent fact that we are the only signs of life in the universe.  Outside of some hints on Mars and other space debris, we have no direct evidence of life beyond our planet.  That's the data and it is used by both sides of this debate to further their own case.  Creationists say God created only one planet, etc and so forth.  Evolutionists say that the random events that played a role in the emergence of life have not occurred anywhere else in our observable range.  Same data two opposing conclusions.

On my side, I offer a potential theory concerning the mechanism of mutation and supply data as support and it is ignored or derided.  Why?  Because it threatens the cornerstone of evolutionary belief and that is random mutation.  Random mutation must be defended for two reasons. 1) It reinforces an atheist philosophy, and 2) It is the very concept that is attacked by creationists so it must be opposed.  The funny thing is "random" mutation can not be measured, observed or duplicated in the lab because it is random so there is no hard data to support random mutation outside of the fact that we have to in order to uphold atheism.  I think Dawkins summed it up when he said that Darwin made it possible for him to be an intellectually honest atheist.

Now as far as science not being in the business of finding Truth, that is exactly right.  But, Eric, then you go and contradict yourself by impling that science (or the facts) prove that religions are bogus.  Science has nothing at all to say about the existence of God, nor can it or should it.  The existence of God is not an observable, testable hypothesis and to imply otherwise is just wrong, or as Pauling would say, not even wrong.

Date: 2006/07/26 02:41:48, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not saying that science is not done but in this debate we're not talking about science alone.  Technically, science is being used on both sides selectively to support their conclusions.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell you where I stand and then maybe you'll understand my point and my reason for raising it.

I would describe myself as an anti-humanist.  I believe that human knowledge is limited by both our sensory perception and our ability to reason.  Also, I include myself in my observation.  I see that my interpretation of the data is heavily influenced by my underlying philosophy.  Science is our attempt to describe what we perceive to be our reality and that may bear no resemblance to Reality.  A good example is Plato's Cave.  We're all chained to the floor watching shadows on the wall and in Plato's example the wise man is the one who stands up and turns around to see the world as it is.  In truth, as I see it, no one ever stands up and turns around because we are chained down by our five senses and our ability to reason.  The wise man is the one who realizes that all we're looking at is shadows on the wall and tries to proceed with that in mind.  I'm very comfortable in what I know, what I've learned and observed and tested, but I'm equally comfortable with the idea that it all may be wrong.  Hense the name, skeptic.

So what, you say.  We're not dealing with the outliers everything else is just semantics or as plasmasnake says language is impercise.  Actually, I would say that science is impercise and to be more exact everything is impercise.  One of my first statements was that Evolutionary Theory was flawed, and that is easy to prove from this view.

Human knowledge is flawed.
Evolutionary theory is a product of human knowledge.
therefore, Evolutionary theory is flawed.

As a practical matter this is important because of the nature of the debate.  When someone's philosophy is threatened there is no room to entertain actual debate about the theory, it just must be defended, right or wrong.  From my perspective, the utility of raising alternate explanations involving mutation mechanisms is to encourage discussion in those areas and thereby try to keep our minds open to other possibilities.  The debate, that I believe to be unnecessary (as I've stated before), forces a defensive posture that stifles progress.  I also see a strong push from atheistic philosophy to mold evolutionary theory in a supporting way.  You may say you don't care what Dawkins says, but he is an influencial voice and his views carry weight in the public arena.  Consequently, the public arena is the target of this debate and they only deal with absolutes, right and wrong, etc so evolutionary theory is presented (incorrectly) as an absolute.

Date: 2006/07/28 19:31:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Here we go, I'm going to try to answer as many as these as I can.  First and foremost I want to address the broken-record rheotoric and state AGAIN for the record that I do not subcribe to ANY creationist theories, explanations, dogma, etc.  I think the continued reversion back to this characterization is just further proof of the damage that engaging the ID folks has done to any honest discourse.  I know that is what you guys are used to and it is what you are "honing" your arguments against but that just doesn't apply to me.  

Wes, thanks again for the references.  I'm going to stick with my statement for now that we have never observed a speciation event for now, this is not to say that we don't see evidence implying that speciation has occured, subtle difference.  I will disagree that the HeLa cell line is an example of speciation.  We can not characterize mutation at a tissue level as the emergence of a new species and even though the result was extraordinary and unexpected I think it would be inappropriate to classify this as speciation.

Now getting back to my hypothesis.  I'm proposing an alternative to random mutation.  Eric, I know you've stated that in this case random does not actually mean random just unpredictable or undirected.  Correct me if I'm misinterpreting what you've said because I don't accept any of those definitions.  I think mutations are directed and given better understanding and more research there may be a day when certain aspects of mutation may be predicted.  I know I've used that buzz word "directed" to which IDers would immediately say "directed by what or whom?"  I don't shy away from this because for me it is still the best word I can use to describe what I think is happening.  I think mutation is directed by the environment or environmental stress.  The data I've presented shows research explaining mechanism in which this may be possible (Heat shock proteins).

And from what I observe I have to disagree with both Eric and Chris, it appears that the term random is used specifically to imply that there is no diety behind evolution and there is a great concern among some scientists about pushing an atheist agenda.  Dawkins actually states that better science education could eliminate belief in God.  He makes no bones about his thoughts on this nor his agenda and as I've said before he is a major voice.  Another example is nearly any biology text you look in will contain language to the effect that evolution eliminates the need for divine intervention.  It just seems that this stance sets up an unnecessary antaganistic relationship between science or evolution and religion.  One more example would be to look at the relationship between cosmology and religion.  There's no meaniful conflict because there's no deliberate attacks regardless of what implications cosmology may or may not have on the existence of God.  Now to be fair there are always going members of the religious community that will attack evolutionary theory but we need not take the bait and they could be ignored.

Eric, thanks for the Pauli correction, it certainly ruins a point if I can not attribute the quote properly. Sometimes I get tired.

Date: 2006/07/29 05:31:00, Link
Author: skeptic
First, I want to go back and respond to Diogenes.  There is another possibility, the one that I personally subscribe to.  There can be an acknowledgement that what we can see, feel and measure is a manifestation of Reality even though we can not directly measure that Reality.  Our reality represents a puzzle and the trick would be to try visualize all the possible Realities that would result in our reality.  As with the three examples you gave, there is no practical difference between these viewpoints but it does offer one advantage and that is in the state of mind of the observer.  Given this perspective the observer can accept drastic upheavals in descriptions of our reality as they inevitably arise through acquisition of knowledge.  I know this flys in the face of positivist thinking but I feel this provides a more nimble philosophy to work from.

Eric just a few points.  I was referring to observation of events specifically and mainly to emphasize the data we can obtain from direct observation vs indirect.  And no, K.E., I have no real conviction that speciation did not occur, I'm more interested in the mechanisms behind speciation and I think I was making the point to caution the use of absolute statements.  And finally, as to seeing molecules, yes we have "seen" molecules, we have even "seen" atoms, remember the IBM demonstration?  As to do I believe half of what I've been taught, I accept it as the current best explanations for the data we have but I'm open to new data as it presents itself.

As far as Dawkins being right he's got a fifty-fifty shot but to assert that science proves he is right is flat wrong.  Science can make no judgements on this matter.  It doesn't bother me in the least bit that he may be right, what I find offensive is his justification.  To me it is a perversion of science especially when I consider his motivation is not to further science but to further his own religious belief.  My opinion.  I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the motives of scientists.  I see an agenda and while I'll concede that the religious community is on the attack you must also concede that members of the scientific community are just as aggressive and idealistic.

Now as far as incidents like Dover and Kansas, I think I've stated before that I view these as constitutional issues foremost and not scientific ones.  I don't believe the outcomes would be any different if judged solely on these grounds and it would avoid the needless us-against-them dynamic that is being continued.

In regard to the science, how would this change current evolutionary theory?  The best that I can hope for is expansion and refinement of the theory.  The basic tenet that diversity arises from changes over time does not change.  I would encourage investigation into specific mechanisms of mutation and that brings into view the topic of prediction.  If you can identify surface proteins that correspond to gene regions then you could predict where the mutation would occur and given greater understanding and better technology you could examine the possible results of mutations at specific genes, maybe to the point of anticipating outcomes.  This, of course, is down the road but theoretically achievable.  So in the grand scheme not many things about evolutionary theory would change it would just get better and some of the implications would be different, thats where the idea of simultaneous evolution comes from.

We don't seem to be in an environment that allows questioning of evolutionary theory and thats a shame because we should be constantly questioning all theories.  Thats how we learn more.

One last remark,  I think you are dealing with the "fringe".  8-9% of the population does not represent a viable voting block and although AFDave, et al may have problems with cosmology there is not the caustic view towards it as with evolution.  It goes largely unnoticed as does GRT and QT and in comparison QT probably has as much anti-religious potential as evolutionary theory but no where near the name recognition.

Date: 2006/07/29 09:41:04, Link
Author: skeptic
I think he's trying to co-opt McFadden's idea of quantum evolution.

Date: 2006/07/29 18:00:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, it was Dawkins who said that in Blind Watchmaker.  What was more provocative was his belief that religious belief could be rectified (eliminated) by more vigorous science education.  This is definately more than just a coincedental connection for him.

Arden, I can completely understand the relationship between ID and religion because when it comes down to it ID is just religion based up science.  They use scientific descriptions to infer a complexity that can only be answered by the divine and thats it.  There's nothing new here and no scientific discovery so its just religion and this whole movement has a critical mass, which I believe is quickly approaching, because you just can not qualitify God.  In the future, near future in my opinion, ID will be replaced by some other idea that attempts to reposition creationism under a different guise.

Now back to your final question, Eric and I'll wrap it up here for the night.  You ask me why this is a huge problem for me and in one sense it is and in another it is not.  On a personal level everyone is free to analyze whatever evidence or lack of to decide issues of belief.  I've got nothing to say about that, nor should I.  On the other hand, evolutionary theory and evolutionists make it a point to emphasize that scientific evidence exists that leads them to believe there is no God and they do this from a position of scientific authority.  Dawkins may not haved formally "proven" that God doesn't exist but he believes that science has proven it and he makes no bones about sharing that belief constantly.  Why is this a problem for me?  Foremost, it is incredibly inaccurate.  Science can make NO statement as to the existence or non-existence of the divine.  There's no way to measure God, to observe God or to predict God.  Even if one were to concede every "fact" of evolutionary theory, again nothing as to the existence of God is implied.  In a very real sense, God may be beyond our ability to comprehend and every single religion on Earth may be dead wrong and God could still exist.  There's just no way that scientific inquiry can resolve this question and that leads to my second objection, by implying that science has answered that question the actual nature of science has been distorted and then an unnecessary conflict between science has been set up (or perpetuated depending upon your historical perspective).  I guess in a perfect situation scientists would stick to the collection of scientific knowledge and leave the implications (cultural,social,political,religious,etc) to others to argue about and thereby avoiding, as much as possible, observer influence...

Date: 2006/07/30 10:18:16, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, it seems that we may be reading two different Dawkins but that could be the wonders of interpretation.  As far as the IDers and why they don't upset me is because I don't take them seriously.  They speak with no authority and their arguments have no credibility to me, end of story.

Date: 2006/07/30 16:44:37, Link
Author: skeptic
I think we have a difference of perspective between us.  When I read Dawkins I hear him bemoaning continued belief in a divine being.  To me that implies a much more proactive position then just stating that science can offer no proof as to the existence of God.  Granted, I don't actually know what is in his mind but that is my interpretation and I see that it is not shared on this site even though we've read the same material.  Interesting.

The reason I am more upset about Dawkins then the IDers is related to my interpretation.  To me it seems that he is using science to further an agenda and not only that but legitimate science.  In addition to the fact that he's addressing a topic to which science has no relationship, he deliberatly distorting science to achieve this relationship (In my opinion).  Ultimately it comes down to the overall effect, Dawkins (and not just him but those support this position) can have a much greater impact on the future progress of science and this discussion; whereas, ID will have little or no impact on the future of science.

And as far as that subtle distinction your guys are talking about, I just see that as you guys giving him and that position the benefit of the doubt in order to soften the antagonistic implications of this position.  Again, my opinion.

Date: 2006/07/31 03:44:27, Link
Author: skeptic
I think we're going in a circle here so I'll try to make it clear.  I do hold Dawkins to a higher standard and just to clarify I'm using him as an example and it is not a personal issue that I have with him.  He is entitled, as everyone is, to his opinions, beliefs, etc that does not bother me at all.  The implication that science can answer this question is wrong and I see that we have to disagree as to whether this is what Dawkins is saying.  I believe he is and I think that is a distortion.

A good way to compare the two would be to compare faith and science.  The creationists beliefs are built on faith and thats pretty much it.  They look for support in scientific data.  Thats fine although a little confusing to me because it kinda defeats the point on relying on faith but no matter.  Faith isn't really open to scientific inquiry so to me its an oil and water mix.  Which is why religious statements don't really have the same impact for me as a scientific statement because ultimately its rooted in something that can not be assessed: faith.  As I've said, I hold Dawkins to a higher standard because he should know better.  No amout of science can answer this question and it shouldn't be implied that it can.

I don't believe we're going to reach a resolution on this because we disagree as to what Dawkins is saying or implying.  But hey, how much chance is there that we're going to agree on much of anything. LOL

Deadman, I've tried to avoid making this about me as much as possible.  I know that sounds ironic given the personal opinions flying around.  But to answer your question, my current work involves developing computer models to predict biological activity of target compounds, QSAR.  Beyond that I would like to think that it doesn't really matter what I do.  I guess we'll see.

Date: 2006/07/31 14:31:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Flint, I agree with all but silly, not sure that is quantifiable.

Date: 2006/08/01 02:49:59, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, thank you for that incredibly useful and relevant post.  You can crawl back into your hole now.

Date: 2006/08/01 12:28:56, Link
Author: skeptic
As far as I can tell, you have some sort of problem with the fact that evolutionary theory cannot (yet) reliably predict, given a particular environmental stressor, what specific  mutations will occur giving rise to which specific adaptations.

I think this is very revealing given the tendency to reject underlying mechanisms in favor of random mutations.  In fact that is my primary and in some ways singular problem with current theory.  I would encourage any movement away from the random mutation + natural selection scheme to encourage research into specific mechanisms.  In a sense I am in favor of more science which I would not think would be that threatening.  If we reach a point of identifing specific mechanisms countering random mutation that could have implications for current theory that would (could) be broad sweeping.  I certainly do not expect to reinvent evolutionary theory on these pages just to emcourage discussion.  And finally, it is very easy and quick to post a single sentence and requires as little thought as the post that it was responding to.

Date: 2006/08/02 03:06:47, Link
Author: skeptic
I'll have to get into this more latter as I'm short on time.  There's no such thing as a random mutation in my mind, as jean points out its cause and effect.  Random does not mean without direction of intelligence unless we've cahnged the definition of the word without me knowing it.  And again for the hundreth time we can drop any reference to a designer, God, little green fairies, etc.  For me that relationship is just not relevant to this conversation.  I know thats what you guys are used to dealing with but you're going to have to change your mindset when you're talking to me.  Think about this, why is random mutation considered the leading cause of genetic variation when its not actually random?

Date: 2006/08/02 17:58:30, Link
Author: skeptic
I feel my ears burning.  Actually I'm somewhat surprised as I've spent the past hour and a half looking up something that I thought was well defined.  Random mutation, shocked aren't you?  Anyway, I thought I was beginning to see a difference in the usage of the term on these posts so I thought we should clarify it.  I've been through four text books and numerous websites with no real resolution.  Either random is used and never defined or accompanied by various synonyms like "accidental", "unpredictable", or "spontaneous".  Lets throw this out to the group, what do you guys mean when you say random mutation?  I'm now very interested to see what we come up with.

Date: 2006/08/02 18:38:54, Link
Author: skeptic
I've seen nondirected quite a bit but I think it could only be used in the context of intelligence directed or it would require much more clarification.

Date: 2006/08/03 03:17:50, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, I would disagree with unpredictable and say that is just a limitation of understanding and technology.  As far as undirected, that is a problematic description.  Exactly what do we mean by directed (or undirected).  From my perspective I can say that mutation is directed by the environment, a reaction to stimulus.  This is not the same as directed by a higher power but the recognition of cause and effect is still there.  I've discussed my view on this but I'll go there it one more time in detail when I get a chance today.

Ichy, I believe no one is twisting your arm forcing you to read these posts or to respond.  You have a choice.  You can become constructive or continue to be irrelavent.  Since I don't see that you've contributed anything to this point, I don't care which you choose but for the sake of your own blood pressure, please choose something.

Date: 2006/08/03 03:32:25, Link
Author: skeptic
I don't ski anymore and I long ago gave up any thoughts of getting on anything with only two wheels.  Besides, my leather jacket hasn't fit in years.

Date: 2006/08/03 17:13:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Honestly, Angry, I don't know whether I should laugh or cry.  I appreciate the references but I might now be obligated to post on two places with essentially the same material.  Maybe I'll cut and paste. HA HA.  Anyway, just reading the intro seemed to leave the possibility open for further review, unless I was missing something.  Ichy, as far as your post, I was able to read the abstract and it is in the same vein but not quite the same.  I do agree with you though, the term "directed" has all the wrong connotations and we'd really do much better without it.

Date: 2006/08/03 17:29:43, Link
Author: skeptic
Chris, one thing about this paper made me scratch my head.  The authors go a long way to emphasize the non-random nature of the mechanisms behind mutation and to establish the environmental feedback link and then they highlight the importance of random mutations.  In a way, this seems contradictory to me.

Date: 2006/08/03 17:33:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you know it's Shark Week on Discovery.  Those big suckers scare the bee-jeesus out of me.

Date: 2006/08/03 18:25:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Diogene, I agree. We drop random and we get rid of a lot of headaches.  In fact, in most formal definitions of evolution, random is never mentioned, as you pointed out.  Maybe it is just assumed.

So why do I persist?  Well, lets look at this from my perspective for a minute and then maybe it will be more clear.

Mutations occur based upon many factors but we could start in the local environment of the nucleus and expand outward tracing effect and cause to...whereever we choose to stop.  We could compare this to the Butterfly Effect.  No problems there, right?  In this respect, we couldn't really say mutations were spontaneous, could we?

Mutations are unguided.  This statement in itself causes lots of problems which I will try to avoid in the same way I want to avoid the connotations of "directed".  But lets look at genetic variation and I think we'll all agree that this variation is the essential element of evolution.  Selection mechanisms exploit variation which produce diversity and conceivably survivability.  So those organisms that are able to adapt through variation are the ones that engender descendants.  Those that don't get to join the extinct club.  So mutations are necessary but there is a fine line here between variation and lethal chaos so mutation must be regulated and elaborate mechanisms have developed to allow cells to do this.

Mutations happen without respect to positive or negative impact upon the organism.  Eric, I know you've pointed this out many times but I want to look at it from a slightly different viewpoint.  Lets think about probability.  If the probability of a mutation occuring at a particular loci is increased and this loci potentially has significant impact upon the organism then over time the probability of positive traits emerging increases because selection fixes these traits in the organism.  We know that mutations occur assymetrically, I contend that this is evidence of reaction to stimuli.  In a previous post someone had included a link that lead to a paper comparing major morphologic variation in 28 breeds of dog.  The variations in just two genes accounted for all this diversity.  This indicates that those sites are more susceptable to mutation and this susceptability is conserved throughout the generations.  So the cell uses mutation to achieve variation for the sole purpose of generating positive traits to ensure survivability.  The actual mutation that occurs at that site might be unpredictable, in the same way as the slit choice for the photon but probabilities can calculated and possible outcomes predicted (potentially).  The utility of this would be of tremendous importance in many areas but medicine certainly stands out in my mind.

One point to clarify, there is no "intelligence" within the cell.  Its not a mini-processor directing these actions.  The pathways have developed over time probably in much the same way and this is what works.  But there should be no misunderstanding as to the "direction" of cellular processes, even though the way we describe actions can lead in that direction thats just a limitation of language.

Date: 2006/08/04 03:10:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, the nearest I've come is by accidentally sitting on the back of a ten foot bull shark of the south coast of Jamaica.  I never intend to be any closer and my detailed knowledge of whites runs out where Discovery channel leaves off.  Sorry to disappoint you.

Date: 2006/08/04 14:43:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, we've really got to erase ID, creationism, teleology, philosophy...and anything else you might want to throw in there from this argument.  I have no intention of implying any of these ideas so you can stop trying to read them into my comments.  To be more percise, I should have said the cell "uses" mutation but even then I'm just trying to convey the utility that mutations offer.  If there was no useful endpoint to a mutation then the cell repression of mutations would continually get better and better.  The utility of mutation as the raw material of evolution is evidenced by the elaborate pathways that have developed to regulate mutation occurances.

Date: 2006/08/04 17:24:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Mutations do not happen by accident.  In a very real sense, nothing really happens by accident.  I'm not sure if you appreciate the complexity of mutations.  You can compare different rates of mutations, organisms with better or worse repair processes, different gene expression rates and you can see how better or more efficient processes become fixed.  This is not an accident.  Think of it at the most basic level, a self-replicating molecule will continue to replicate in a favorable environment (i.e. abundant substrates, etc).  In the absense of this favorable environment the molecule can no longer function unless changes occur in the form of altered replications.  As time goes on and environment varies this flexibility gets built-in or conserved and these processes develop.  There is something intrinsically different about living matter and non-living matter as it "strives" to persist and while that discussion is way beyond the scope of this conversation it is important to note that organisms that can adapt are the ones that avoid extinction.  This genetic flexibility is "good" and it has been conserved, not by any applied intelligence but by virtue of the fact that the organisms that developed along that path were the ones that lived and those that didn't weren't around to produce descendants.

Also, you may want to rethink your example.  Bacteria are so successful because they are just about the most versitale things on Earth.  Bacteria acquire mutations incredibly quickly and a good example of that is antibiotic resistantance.  And if I remember correctly the organism with the greatest number of chromosomes is a bacteria, I'll double-check that to be sure.

In short, I'd rethink this idea of "accidental" because its just not what we actually see.  I'll put together some references to try to support this point.

Date: 2006/08/04 17:31:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Wow, GoP this stuff is pretty dry.  I think you guys would have a lot more fun if you just stuck to sharks.  I mean you got blues, whites, grays, black-tips, white-tips, lemons (still a color, right) and I'm sure a few more that I can't think of off the top of my head.  I'm sure there's enough genetic diversity there to make classification easy.  Just a suggestion...

Date: 2006/08/04 18:17:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I think you're unnecesassarily introducing "intent" into the equation.  An event doesn't have to be caused by the intent of an intelligent observer to occur.  You have cause and effect without the need for overseeing "intent".  I think this is an example of you looking for something in my statement that isn't there because that's what you're used to seeing.  Maybe you believe there can only be two types of events, I do not.  I think we might just have replaced random with accidental.

As far as bacteria evolving the same as eukaryotics, you've actually fallen into your own trap, so to speak.  It is probably inappropriate to compare bacteria and eukaryotics in a primitve or advanced sense.  It could be said that both are equally advanced or that bacteria is much more advanced because it has acquired a greater level of success with less complexity.  It is much more efficient, so to speak.  To equate complexity with evolutionary success would imply that you were working towards an endpoint as an ultimate goal, kind of like an optimum form.  I know you don't believe evolution is moving in a particular direction but your statement might confer a course or direction to evolution that you don't agree with.

Date: 2006/08/05 03:18:34, Link
Author: skeptic
I guess satire doesn't come through well in print.

Date: 2006/08/05 03:25:29, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, you are an enigma to me.  You can go from lucid to lunatic in 6 seconds flat.  I'm not really sure if you have any idea what you are talking about or you're just spouting off.  As far as corrections, I haven't seen one yet from you.  All you post is a whole lot of "you're wrong" and "you're stupid" comments. As I've said before, not very productive.  You could shock me by just explaining even one of your "corrections" then I might get the chance to evaluate whether you actually know anything about what you speak.  I won't hold my breath, though, I don't think rational discussion is your MO.

Date: 2006/08/05 12:14:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, you've cleared it up for me.  You're not an enigma; you're just a moron.

Date: 2006/08/06 05:03:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, I think we're running around in semantic circles again.  I think Diogenes' idea to drop discussion of random is still the best one and it should apply to accidential, unintentional, chance, fluke, spontaneous or any other similar adjective.  Getzal, that is my point, but thank you none the less for...

An individual bacterium does not 'acquire' mutations incredibly quicker than metazoan cells. The mutation rates per base pair per cell division are roughly comparable. The difference is that every bacterium is an individual organism, which means that population sizes can be enormous, organismal replication rates can be very high (up to 2-3 times/h), and every mutation in every daughter cell has a chance to be positively selected if it provides an advantage in the current environment.

Because of those factors, newly favorable mutations can indeed become fixed in a bacterial population very quickly (relative to metazoans). But that does not mean that bacteria are not somehow dramatically better at generating favorable mutations on a per cell basis.

This is a very good point, and an excellent example of a productive response that could be a model for others that are interested in an actual discussion (no matter how frustrating) to follow.

I also want to make a correction on bacterial chromosome number.  I was way off on that one, I don't know why I associated a fern with bacteria.  Maybe because they're virtually impossible to kill also, but certainly a goof on my part.

Date: 2006/08/06 06:33:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I think this actually drives to the heart of it.  I don't view mutations as mistakes.  Mutations are the method that organisms have developed, evolved, acquired (however you want to put it) to introduce variation into the genome in order to adapt and survive.  I believe this is our central point of contention.  Look at it this way, what evidence indicates that mutations occur purely by accident, and lets leave out mutagenic events due to radiation, etc (for now)?

Date: 2006/08/07 17:26:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Look at this, I go away for a day and you guys have a perfectly rational discussion, ten great posts and just one useless one.  Anyway, lets see if I can win you guys some money.  I assuming you all took getzal up on his bet, right?

First of all, organisms don't control the mutations, at least I don't think so, but the mechanisms in place do react to environmental stimuli - more of a passive response than an active response, if that makes any sense.  Here's one way of illustrating my thoughts on this vs how you guys tend to interpret me.  Consider these two statements:

1) The purpose of the eye is to see.

2) The eye was designed to see.

The first one is an observation of function and in my mind completely resonable while the second is purely conjecture and unprovable.  Now if you say there is no difference between the two then thats where our dispute lies and it is an agrument of language.  If you don't consider the two identical then we agree and that may help clarify my position for future reference.

In reference to mutagens, when I was thinking of the AMES test, I was unsure as to whether the overall mutation rate just increased or if there still was a favored mutation.  That test, while quick and dirty, is relaible and repeatable and indiscriminate mutation rate increases wouldn't seem that reliable.  I'd be interested in seeing that data if anyone has a reference.  Anyway, I learn something new everyday from you guys so even though you may get frustrated I do nothing but benefit from these exchanges, well most of them. LOL

Date: 2006/08/07 18:18:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Not control, lets just say that the organisms have pathways in place to exploit or react to environmental pressures and perserve diversity and these pathways themselves are the product of evolution.  Maybe when it all comes down to it its a question as to whether or not we believe the concept of life itself to be an accident or a direct consequence (result) of the universe we live in.  Also, I have the distinct impression that I'm coming across as clearly as I think (small understatement), so I'll try to work on that.

Date: 2006/08/08 00:24:14, Link
Author: skeptic
I certainly made those comments to encourage discussion, at the time I thought they were more benign than they were perceived but I was new and wasn't fully aware as to what you guys were used to.

Fatally flawed - I would remove fatally, alliteration drove that word choice, but I still think it is much more useful to drop references to random mutations.  I anticipate that will happen as we learn more or it won't as we learn more, how's that for hedging my bets?

Second statement still stands, even though many would argue that RM is not the sole mechanism it is still upheld as the most significant.

Responsive to the environment - that goes to the heart of my hypothesis

Ditto on the next statement

as far as proteins being self-organizing, I've never been in favor of the RNA-world theory of origins, I lean more towards development of simple enzymes and then the preservation of information in nucleic acids at a later date.  The only real implications of this since I believe the question of origins is beyond our ability to ultimately answer is the questions as to whether if conditions are favorable proteins continue to self-organize and how this "emergence of new life" could affect evolution.  In short, is life constantly emerging as well as evolving.  Personally, I'm not sure if conditions are still favorable but the implications are interesting.

Finally, as far as k.e.'s comment in so much as I actually understand what it is, I was actually refering more towards the Many Worlds theory and since the conditions for life in this universe are present as to whether or not life is inevitable.  I guess you could always back up a step and say that the existence of infinite possible universes reveals the randomness of existence but at the same time the set of parameters within each universe makes them each deterministic.  Ultimately not very satisfying or testable but still is interesting to contemplate.

Date: 2006/08/10 16:16:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, I don't see us reaching common ground on points 1 & 2.  We'll just have to wait and see as research proceeds.  Additionally, the only reason I bring up origins is just the implications specifically for evolution.  I agree with Stephan that emerging life would have to compete with established life but in isolated environments like sea vents the possibility exists and I think it is just an interesting topic.  As far as RNA, I've always had a problem with the idea just based upon the limited enzymatic function of RNA, but again I agree that resolution of that discussion is most likely beyond us.

Now on to my hypothesis.  Its actually very simple and I've alluded to it over the last twenty or so pages.  The mutation process has developed (evolved) in order to preserve diversity within genomes to help ensure survivability.  Cells respond to environmental stimuli to up or down regulate mutation, possibly at specific loci, in order to promote adaptability for organisms.  It has been suggested that embedded proteins correspond to specific genes and can regulate or influence expression, etc.  Stimuli could include any number of things but we could group them under the heading of stress.  Based upon this populations under stress would develop variability more quickly and given a reduced degree of variability within the population traits could spread more quickly.  This would be reflected in long periods of apparent stasis followed by apparent "quick" evolutionary and additionally organisms that don't experience stress or environmental pressures would show less change over time, the living fossil concept.  These organisms would actually favor more robust error-correction processes which would mean that ultimately during extreme and rapid environmental change there would be an apparent very rapid extinction.  The idea of "simultaneous" evolution arises from the chance that very similar organisms in different locations but under similar environmental pressure would tend to evolve along the same path given that the available options for mutation would be limited.  

I know this is much more deterministic than current thought but I can see many opportunities to develop experiments to test this hypothesis.  Since this is not my field, I can only hope that others will pursue research down this path or that current research will direct people in this direction.  One thing you guys have inspired me to look at is the development of models comparing random and "directed" evolution to see which one more closely resembles what we actually see.  I know Wolfram explored complexity in this way but I want to look at both complexity and functionality because the two can not be separated.  It's a very difficult problem but it will give me something to work on in my spare time.

Date: 2006/08/13 18:34:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, again I'll address both points.  I'm not sure as to reality of ever being able to predict the specific mutation that would occur under a given set of circumstances but if we can reasonably predict the affected genes then through simulation we could develop probabilities  of alterations to that gene.  Here we are still confronted with relating protein sequence to protein function but I'll take the optimistic road and say that someday that will get better.  So, we're looking at baby steps right now but who knows what the knowledge base will be in a hundred years.  Also, as to whether or not the mutation has a direct relationship to fitness, in this case we're looking at a scenario in which the mutation has a better chance of being positive.  The degrees of freedom have been reduced by specifying the loci and then it just becomes a matter of probability and since this is occurring on the entire (or a large segment of it) local population the odds go up.

Chris, here's some references:
Vigh L, Maresca B, Horwood J. 1998. Does the membrane’s physical state control the expression of heat shock and other genes? Trends Biochem Sci 23:369–374.

Vigh L, Maresca B. 2002. Dual role of membranes in heat stress: as thermosensors modulate the expression of stress genes and by, interacting with stress proteins, re-organize their own lipid order and functionality. In: Storey KB, Storey JM, editors. Cell and molecular responses to stresses. New York: Elsevier Science. p 173–188.

Changes in gene expression associated with acclimation to constant temperatures and fluctuating daily temperatures in an annual killifish Austrofundulus limnaeus.
J Exp Biol. 2004 Jun;207(Pt 13):2237-54.

Membrane physical state controls the signaling mechanism of the heat shock response in Synechocystis PCC 6803: identification of hsp17 as a "fluidity gene".
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Mar 31;95(7):3513-8.

Transduction of the stress signal and mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of heat shock/stress protein gene expression in higher eukaryotes.
Crit Rev Eukaryot Gene Expr. 1994;4(4):357-401. Review.

TM, I've tried on various occasions to demostrate the ridiculous nature of Dawkins' beliefs and I think you couldn't have picked a better quote to emphasize that point for me.  Just from a generalized position to characterize anyone who remains skeptical of any theory as "ignorant, stupid, or insane" is counterproductive to scientific investigation.  It would be highly beneficial for all scientists to remain skeptical and to continue to probe and prod all theories because thats where discovery originates.  As I mentioned to Eric, just think of where we will be in 100 years and as comparison look where we were a 100 years ago.  I think this quote shows that Dawkins has moved speaking as a scientist to speaking as a preacher.  He know lives in a world of absolutes and as far as he's concerned "you're either with us or against us!"  Hmm, now where have we heard that before?

In my mind, being skeptical is just implementation of the idea that "I know that I don't know".  Not only am I comfortable with that but I extrapolate it out to "knowing that we don't know".  Some would say that this is an example of my arrogance and I strongly disagree.  Dawkins, by contrast, says that "I know that I know" and I identify this as arrogance.  My acknowledgement of ignorance is humility and based upon this quote Dawkins doesn't have any.

So, unfortunately, I'm in the position a disagreement with Ichy, again.  I believe that you post was actually a productive answer in so much that it revealed the absolutitist viewpoints of those that profess to oppose the fundamental absolutists.  Very interesting, I'd say.

Date: 2006/08/14 09:50:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, after reading that again I agree it was a little obscure.  Here's the analogy I'm trying to reflect.  Imagine that the membrane-bound proteins are sensors that respond to stimuli which initiates a cascade resulting in mutation at a specific gene.  Now expand this to mutiple sensors and many gene locations.  What you've got is a passive system that responds to environmental stimuli to encourage (or even discourage) mutation.  The organism has no control over any of this and the pathway may only affect an increased likelyhood of mutation at a site not the actual specific mutation that occurs.  The way that this could increase the probability of a beneficial mutation is driven by the population number.  The members of the population that are experiencing the same stimuli would be experiencing mutations on the same genes and while the majority of these should be neutral both the negative and positive mutations would be magnified in comparison to populations in which mutations appeared randomly throughout individuals and across the genome.

Date: 2006/08/14 11:33:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Barnes, one big difference I saw immediately is the mutagen is an alkylating agent meaning it is directly involved in the replication process.  I appreciate the link and I'll go over the protocol to see what the implications might be.  Also, in some of the previous posts on this thread there are some links to evidence that I contend supports my hypothesis, of course, opinions differ.

Here's one:
Link to paper on Environmental Stress

Date: 2006/08/18 18:00:05, Link
Author: skeptic
I seriously doubt that Coulter cares that much about ID.  She just equates liberal with evolution and therefore Godless.  She knows how to make the left scream and the right cheer and she's very good at it, look at her book sales.  To look any deeper into her words than $$ is just a waste of time.

Date: 2006/08/18 19:33:50, Link
Author: skeptic
A couple of quick points tonight.

Barnes, ENU acts directly on the DNA molecule via crosslinking and protein binding which causes stress or interfers with the regular replication process.  ENU binding is directly related to the local polar environment of DNA which is why the range of mutations is great but there are noticable trends within this set.  In contrast, the mutations I'm referring to are the result of pathways that control the up or down regulation of the error correction process.  There's no requirement of an exogenous mutagen as this is a built-in process that responds conditions within and without the cell.  The paper that Chris linked to illustrates the kind of feedback pathway that I'm talking about.  There's nothing magic here, just chemistry.

Chris, by cascade I'm just saying pathway.  In the past I've referred to biologic pathways as feedback cascades.  Just trying to emphasize the multistep and delocalized nature of the pathway.

Eric, your post really confused me.

What kind of environmental factor would produce a response in such a mechanism that preferentially selects mutations that could, eventually, over hundreds of thousands of generations, produce a wing?

As opposed to random mutation?  The accumulation of variation regardless of the source over thousands of generations and acted upon by natural selection is predicted to result in just that effect.

There's no future plan.  This is just a pathway that encourages variation under certain environmental conditions to confer an advantage of survivability to an organism.  The major deviation is its non-random nature.

Even if you could find evidence for a mechanism that somehow links a particular environmental factor to a specific mutation that confers an added advantage with respect to that factor, I simply cannot imagine how such a mechanism could eventually produce complex anatomical structures. I think it far more likely that those structures were produced by exactly the sort of contingent and opportunistic mechanisms postulated by standard evolutionary theory.

How is it possible that an enitrely random process is more opportunistic than one specifically developed to acheive variation?  If complex anatomical structures couldn't emerge from a shortened path then how could it be possible for them to emerge from a random and discontinuous process?  I'm pretty sure I'm not understanding what you're trying to say.  if you get a chance, take a look at the paper that Chris linked and let me know what you think.

Date: 2006/08/23 02:57:30, Link
Author: skeptic
Wes, have polls been temporarily disabled?  I no longer see the link to start a new one.  Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.

Date: 2006/08/24 14:16:27, Link
Author: skeptic
Barnes, I'm not sure what your background is so I'll try to make this as simple and consise as possible.  Forgive me if you think I'm talking down to you but I don't know your level of knowledge.

First things first, while Wikipedia may be a good source for a quick definition you won't get the full picture or a real good understanding.  Alkylation agents exhibit three main mechanisms of action and these are cross-linking, alkylation at the base (typically G or T), and mispairing errors.  The exact mechanism isn't important in this case because they all cause the similar results which is r
replication errors or the inability to replicate.  ENU is an example of a direct action mutagen because it forms covalent bonds directly with DNA.

So how is this different from an indirect mutagen?  UV radiation has two mechanisms, one direct and one indirect.  You touched on the dimerization which is the direct action.  UV radiation also causes oxidative damage through the formation of the dreaded free radicals.  This is indirect action because the free radicals cause the damage to DNA via this mechanism.

On the other hand, this is not an example of the indirect mechanism that I am referring to.  The up and down regulation of the error-correcting pathway is an indirect action that is influenced by environmental stimuli.  I have no idea what you are referring to when you talk about the "magic" directable mutation marker but I say again that there is nothing magic working here, just chemistry.

As to the trends in ENU mutations, if you follow the link you provided and look at the results you'll see the trends plain as day.  ENU favors a GC-AT transition which is consequence of attacking a nucleophile so the reactions will range widely across the available genes but will repeat noticably at favorable reaction sites.  The data displays those trends.

The example that you gave is very different from the pathway that I'm discussing.  Its equivilant to comparing apples to green beans.  Take a look again at the two links previously provided and I think you'll see the difference.

Date: 2006/08/24 14:21:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, you've touched on a great topic that I've been contemplating for the last few days but I'm going to take it up under another topic.  I'm sure you'll see the point of this immediately.

Date: 2006/08/24 18:14:19, Link
Author: skeptic
There are many problems with the Dawkins quote.  He assumes to know everything there is to know about evolution, which is not possible, in order to make his absolutist statement.  His version of evolution is strictly atheist and there is no scientific validity to this position.  The statement really has nothing to do with the factural data concerning evolution in a scientific sense; it is a statement of belief based upon his interpretation of that data.  He has his right to that opinion but it is nothing more than that and to pass judgement upon those who do not share his beliefs reveals the faulty logic behind his statement.

Date: 2006/08/27 03:06:44, Link
Author: skeptic
Barnes, if you read the Maresca paper and then compare that to the ENU experiment you will see that there is no correlation between the two.  It does no good to compare them because, as I've said before, its comparing apples to green beans.

Date: 2006/08/27 03:13:38, Link
Author: skeptic
Within the scope of K-12 education which option would you choose:

A) teaching ID in science classes as an alternative to the current theory of evolution,

B) teaching ID in philosophy and humanities classes in the context of theism, atheism, etc,

C) opposed to both.

I'll post the results and then discuss the implications.

Date: 2006/08/27 06:02:50, Link
Author: skeptic
ScaryFacts I need a vote and Oldman I'm going to interpret that as a C unless you tell me otherwise.

So far:

A - 0%

B - 0%

C - 100%

Date: 2006/08/29 13:01:10, Link
Author: skeptic
Truth, Dawkins is not simply referring to evolution in the sense that animals change over time but the exact theory of evolution that he invisions.  Departure from this complete theory that still encompasses areas of uncertainty is marked as the realm of the stupid, ignorant or wicked.  His own statements reveal his beliefs and he makes no attempt to separate the two.  In the context of the human knowledge and its accuracy there is a perfectly rational argument to reject it all but Dawkins does not even take this into account for him there is no other belief system but his own.  Sounds familiar, huh?

Barnes,  the results of the ENU experiment are exactly what would be expected given the mechanism is question.  In fact, molecular modeling would assess the binding probabilities of ENU along the genome and rank the genes based upon nucleophilic nature.  This still has no bearing upon my hypothesis as we are talking about two completely different mechanisms.

Date: 2006/08/29 17:55:05, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, I plan on watching his docu as soon as I get the chance.  I appreciate the link and I'm interested in Dawkins' reasoning.  As to his statement that he's not speaking about Darwin's natural selection, etc.  I agree that in that quote he makes the distinction but in looking at many of his writings I believe he contradicts himself and he is specifically referring to the current theory in total.  That is my own interpretation and you  all may agree or disagree, maybe that docu will be enlightening for me.  I also agree that he reasons along scientific lines and there is no fault with that.  Where I believe he gets in trouble is when he extrapolates to other areas, especially religion.

As far as my denial, if I am to take my interpretation and assume that he is speaking of the theory in total then I don't accept it as being established fact.  So what am I?

Stupid?  in this context he must be referring to mentally incapacitated since he uses it in the same sentence as ignorant.  I think it's plain to see by any objective observer that I'm not impaired.

Ignorant?  I'm very well read and aware of much of the current theory so even if I don't accept everything I've read its hard to say I'm ignorant.  I know you'll all disagree with that because that's your mantra but let's look at this from one aspect, we're confronted with the discussion of teaching this to K-12 students so they may have an understanding of the science behind the theory and some basic knowledge.  I am certainly amply qualified to teach this subject at the high school level so again its hard to say I am ignorant.

Insane (or wicked)?  ultimately I'm unable to objectively assess that question so I'll leave that to you guys.

Barnes,  I'm going to try this one more time and then I'm going to give up and this directly relates to the question of insanity.  I've heard it said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.  I'm going to try to avoid that so as not to cloud the judgement of my observers.

A proposed mechanism of directed mutation via external stimuli has nothing to do with the experiment you're describing.  Mutations occur through multiple mechanism and I am just looking at one.  The ENU experiment exploits another.  If I were to make predicts of the ENU experiment I would not us my model, I would use the molecular modeling techniques that I described and I'm betting the would reflect the actual data closely as the current molecular modeling approximations are quite good for simple or well-understood systems.  I hope this answers your question because I don't believe it is possible to make it any more clear than this.

Date: 2006/08/29 18:04:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I had to make some judgement calls as there is some discussion of the nature of the class that would be taught.  I didn't want to stipulate too much in my question so as not to overly influence the results.  So that being said there is a small amount of uncertainty in these results.  So far:

A - 0%

B - 17.6%

C - 82.7%

Date: 2006/08/30 12:14:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, got a copy of that exam?

Date: 2006/09/01 03:56:00, Link
Author: skeptic
getzal, a quick approximation of nucleophilicity could be obtained by calculating the LUMO energy.  This is a molecular level descriptor and not as precise as needed for this example.  Since electron density is essentially what we're refferring to an examination of atomic frontier orbital energies would work.  Given this experiment, the complication arises from the supercoiling and how that would affect the relative accessability of the bases regardless of nucleophilic character.  This does present an interesting experiment.  One could look  at the genes in question and map the nucloephilic character of the bases and compare that to the mutation frequency and also compare between genes.  The calculations are straightforward it just comes down to a matter of computer time and computation power.  I think we all are aware of the advances in those areas just in the past five years.  I can remember a time in the not so distant past when a simulation ran for two days and it now takes 30 minutes.   I'm not sure if that's what you were looking for or you're just bantering.

Ichy, as soon as I posted I realized that trust might be an issue; a sad comment on the current state of affairs, I think.  Anyway, I did appreciate your link.  Its very interesting to look at the expectations in other areas of the country.  Maybe I should pass this on the state board of education as my state consistently ranks in the lower half of the nation.  I did want to point out one distiction.  The ability to regurgitate information and accepting of that same information as valid are two completely different things.  

While I'm inclined to ignore most of your "rant" as I'm sure you must have expected, one aspect of it really disturbed me.  In my years as an educator I can never remember a time in which I wanted to "rip them a new one".  I can not imagine the level of insecurity you must feel that you are in competition with your students.  Your job is to educate not to demonstrate your superiority.  It should be assumed that you know more than they when they walk in the door so why do you feel the need to "show off".  I'm not sure you display the temperment to be an effective educator, but I mean that in the nicest way.

Barnes, quick answer - no, none of those experiments are useful in examining the hypothesis in question.

Date: 2006/09/01 10:55:32, Link
Author: skeptic
barnes and Russell, I hate to say this because I've seen it used so many times on these threads as a diversion but the truth is neither of you seem to have a clue as to what you are talking about.  A gene is just a really big molecule so please explain to me the problem with calculating the LUMO of this molecule and then instruct me on why using the frontier atomic orbitals to assess regions of this molecule is so incomprehensable.  If you can then you've succeeded in invalidating an entire field of study that has shown tremendous success over the last two decades, please I'm all ears, and barnes you're just spouting nonsense.

Date: 2006/09/01 14:20:01, Link
Author: skeptic
barnes, here's perfect proof that you really are not comprehending what I am saying: I was calling myself insane for continuing to entertain your questions when it was obvious that you just weren't getting it.

Date: 2006/09/01 17:53:18, Link
Author: skeptic
hate to break it to you but real science does go on in some parts of the world.

Date: 2006/09/04 04:24:37, Link
Author: skeptic
I've got to agree with Crabby, what are the odds?  Given everything he's done and all the situations he put himself in...something as freakish as that really makes you think.  Godspeed Steve Irwin, you will be sorely missed.

Date: 2006/09/04 05:00:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Deadman, that pretty much covers it.  I would clarify that my initial hypothesis was based on a hunch.  I posted earlier that I attributed the rapid mutation to stress encountered by a population.  This could come in the form of rapid environmental change, starvation, predatation, etc.  Anything that would require an organism to adapt quickly or face extinction.  This would require many types of "sensors" as you and Chris have both pointed out.  I've referenced the Schwartz paper because it describes a pathway in just this vein and it added substance to what was just an educated guess of mine.  I was not aware of the reputation questions but you would have much more information concerning that than I.  As far as of asian descent, I'm just a self-taught typist.  I think much quicker than I can type and I tend not proofread before I post.  I apologize for the liguistic errors.

Date: 2006/09/04 05:04:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, I would submit this paragraph to your therapist and listen intently to the evaluation, for your own good.

note, it's the STUDENT who made the assumption of arrogance and attempted to show their "superiority" in class, just like you tried to do here, and with similar faulty premises and inferences.  I ripped him a new one, and the rest of the students thanked me.  It's not a matter of arrogance on my part, but inappropriate behavior on the part of the student to do this during the middle of a lecture.  If a student challenges me after class, and I find I am incorrect on a matter of information, I always make sure to credit the student the next day in class, and make sure the correction is recorded.  If a student challenges me after class and is incorrect, nothing more need be said.  However, if a student chooses to challenge information during my own lecture, and is grossly misinformed on the substance of the issue to boot, #### straight they're going to get an object lesson.

Date: 2006/09/06 14:14:20, Link
Author: skeptic
I agree with guthrie, from what I interpreted from the abstract the author simply says that the ultimate "goal" of the organism is to reproduce.  Isn't that a simple definition of life?  Aristotle, on the other hand, believed that all organisms progressed towards an ultimate "goal" of perfection, think Lamarck.  I'd be interested in what is offerred as proof in this paper but I'm afraid the author is trying to connect two highly unrelated concepts.

Date: 2006/09/08 02:47:43, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks Scary, I was just going to offer the link for the Popular Mechanics article, it pretty much destroys any thought of conspiracy.  Also, as Eric pointed out, the 9-11 Report is a great source; although, I'd spread the blame beyond the FAA.  My read of the report tells me there was a total breakdown at all levels that allowed 9-11 to occur.  Even looking back on what we know now I doubt if another American airliner will ever be hijacked again, ala Robert Reid.  Its very telling that if a Hurricane Katrina Report was issued and laid side-by-side with the 9-11 Report we'd say that it was the same story with different actors.

Date: 2006/09/08 18:37:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (stevestory @ Sep. 08 2006,22:02)
Fortunately, terrorism's a nuisance rather than an existential threat, so it's not like this stupidity is ultimately going to cost us the game.

I'm not sure I can agree with that.  For those personally affected I'm sure you wouldn't characterize it as a nuisance.  But for the vast majority of us the true danger is the effect it has on how we live our lives, how we govern and what sacrifices we are willing to accept to avoid further "nuisances".  If I remember correctly, John Kerry equated terrorism to a nuisance during the 04 elections and he paid dearly for it.

Date: 2006/09/09 17:09:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Sep. 09 2006,21:14)
The basic problem has been, right from the beginning, treating 9-11 as a MILITARY matter rather than what it really was -- a LAW ENFORCEMENT matter.

Actually, the 90s are an example of treating terrorism as law enforcement and we see where that has gotten us.  Ten years from now we'll be able to look back and see if the military approach fared any better.

Date: 2006/09/12 12:13:24, Link
Author: skeptic
I think it is incredibly ironic that this thread began with a generalized disdain for conspiracy theories and then  the good Rev launches into an irrational tirade in which a small group of completely inept politicians plot to control the world while manipulating foriegn govts, oil reserves, civil liberties and whatever other means are necessary to support their evil scheme.  Its amazing in this tired scenario that the US Govt is always seen as the greatest evil known to man regardless of it particular affiliation at the time and we really need to "walk in the shoes" of the poor ol' little freedom fighter/terrorist to understand how he ticks and how we've wronged him.  Please!  Some people are just evil.  Some people just want to kill other people.  Its ridiculous to create a moral equivilance and try to understand the motivations and desires of irrational people.  There you go; there's my rant.  Take it as you will.

Date: 2006/09/12 18:13:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ Sep. 12 2006,17:38)
what about the people who used it to accuse people of being "communists" just in order to ruin their lives out of spite?

I wouldn't characterize McCarthy as evil just misguided.  He certainly didn't pursue his crusade out of spite, he just thought he was right and that the greatest threat to the US was communism.  About that he was wrong but it might be safe to say after fifty years of reflection that he was looking in the right places for the sympathizers.  It would be interesting to learn how many people were communist-leaning as opposed to how many were driven that way by his tactics.  Sort of the same arguement today as to how many terrorists there were originally and how many Bush has created by invading Iraq.  A better example of evil would be Hitler.  I think he and OBL would sit down together and have a cup of tea and a nice chat.  That's what we're dealing with.  Its hard even to include the presidents of North Korea and Iran in that club yet because they both seem to be crazy like a fox.  Only time will tell.

Rev, I'm not sure of the relevance of that paper because I have no idea who those people are and what influence they may or may not have.  There are any number of think tanks that develop position papers that scan the spectrum so I have no frame of reference for that particular one.  I could just as easily read Clancy's Debt of Honor and determine that he was in on the planning or at least knew about it years before the event.  in any event, in my years of government service I witnessed levels of incompetance that would drive any corporation into bankruptcy and liability court.  To imply the level sophistication required to pull off half of what you believe is simply not realistic in the massive behemoth we call the US Govt.  You'd get more play by involking the Illuminati or the Masons or some other shadow group who is controlling the world.  Pick any of them but they all amount to the same psychological need to lay blame at someone's feet even if the cold hard truth is that there really is no one to blame.  It's just life and we've got to deal with it at face value and not create bogeymen to make it all make sense.

Date: 2006/09/13 02:57:42, Link
Author: skeptic
How could I have been so blind.  You're right, if you look at these names then the plan becomes all too clear.

Cheney, of course, controls all the oil in the world and Halliburton too,

Forbes has the multi-nationals eating out of the palm of his hands (with a little help from Ben Stein, amazing how he was able to keep his name off the list),

Bennett is Limbaugh's advisor so he keeps the message going out strong and on target,

Quayle must be waiting for his accension into the Dept of Education so we can keep the public properly uneducated and oblivious to the master plan,

Rumsfeld controls the war machine, we're going to need to keep that strong and rolling to squash any resistance,

Bauer has the Christian Right in his backpocket and has to destroy the homosexuals and abortionists since they represent the greatest threat to the fablic of our society,

Jeb Bush is just waiting his chance to take over the Presidency, since we got those automated voting machines installed after the successful 2000 operation there's no doubt who the next president is going to be,

and finally, the wizard behind the curtain...Krystal works for Foxnews and so Rupert Murdoch must be in control.  He controls global communications, what we hear, see and think.

How could I have not seen it before, bring on the New World Order!!

(has everyone lost their friggin minds?  aren't we supposed to discussing science and combating just this kind of nuttiness that tells us that the Earth is only 6000 years old and the center of the universe?  HELLO!  Are there any sane people left out there?)

Date: 2006/09/13 13:38:33, Link
Author: skeptic
Arden, you completely missed my point.  I could care less about what is discussed.  I was pointing out that the thread started in general opposition to conspiracy theories concerning 9/11 but we're more than happy to jump on New World Order theories as if there have some validity.  A nutty conspiracy theory is a nutty conspiracy theory regardless if it supports or opposes you political leanings.  I just assumed as science-minded individuals that we where above these crazy theories.  I know the general population is not and apparently some in academia also fall victim but aren't we attentive to facts and data above all?  I just noticed that Popular Mechanics has turned their article concerning 9/11 myths into an entire book.  As a society are we that suceptable to misinformation?

Date: 2006/09/13 13:58:56, Link
Author: skeptic
I draw absolutely no connection between 9/11 and a conservative desire to reestablish a strong military in the US.

you know what they say about paranoia...

Date: 2006/09/13 15:52:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Sep. 13 2006,19:15)
It doesn't have a bloomin' thing to do with 9-11.  It was all mapped out a year BEFORE 9-11.  All of it.  The Iraq War.  The curtailment of civili liberties and the "militarization" of America.  The use of military force to prevent any effective challenge to US domination. The rejection of international law and the idea that the US can do what it wants, without restriction.  It's all there, in writing.

I believe this is the point in which you are injecting your own interpretation and preconceived notions concerning the events following 9/11 and their causes.

Date: 2006/09/13 16:59:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Are you not saying that the events following 9-11 were planned prior to 9-11 and had no causal relationship to the event itself?  In effect, the invasions of Afganistan and Iraq were going to happen anyway and 9-11 had nothing to do with it?

Date: 2006/09/14 03:28:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Maybe you and I are reading two different papers.  I don't recall the "steal from the poor to make us all rich" quote, nor did I see the tactical plan for the invasion of the entire Middle East.  Then again I'm not the brightest bulb as was so usefully pointed out for me.

What you're missing here is a little objectivity.  The ideas set forth in this paper are hardly original.  You could go back and read very similar language during earlier presidencys, try Teddy Roosevelt for starters.  This latest iteration is merely restating one side of an ongoing debate.  So what?  Have you seen the alternate view?  Maybe we should cede souverignty to the UN or the EU or whoever else and beg forgiveness for our past transgressions.  Certainly, this country was created in the sin of slavery and the murder of the native american and we still need to pay for that.  

Anyway, you can believe what you like because fortunately for you it is still a free country and the thought police aren't knocking down your door...yet.  It would do well to remember that we're talking about mere men with all their limitations and faults so I don't think you have much to worry about.  Your rheotoric is fairly benign so I don't think you'll end up like Ron Brown; the Bushes have bigger fish to fry on their path of world domination.  But remember if you really what to send them a message and let them know what John Q. Public thinks about their policies just speak clearly directly into the vase.

Date: 2006/09/14 15:49:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Well, I think that just about sums it up.

Date: 2006/09/15 02:05:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Don't dispair BWE.  I think we're actually seeing a little improvement.  If you look back, Clinton and his guys were 10 times more adept at spinning then anyone in the Bush administration so thats got to be a move in the right (strike that, correct) direction, right?  Maybe people are just getting better at spotting it and that can only be good news for the future.  I know, I know I'm sounding overly optimistic now, huh?  Thats just my nature.

Date: 2006/09/15 17:38:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Rev, from what I read here you hate the govt, both republicans and democrats, most corporations and the Roman Empire.  If this is true then what alternative do you favor?

Date: 2006/09/22 16:32:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Can't help you, I don't observe Halloween.

Date: 2006/09/22 16:46:20, Link
Author: skeptic
I must have missed that Church in my Fundamentalist handbook.  Do you guys have a monthly newsletter?

Date: 2006/09/22 17:11:48, Link
Author: skeptic
This new virtual culture sure is screwing up 6000 years of tradition.

Date: 2006/09/23 05:26:43, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry for the confusion, Arden, I wasn't going for the YEC reference just the judeo-christian origin reference.

Date: 2006/09/23 13:27:42, Link
Author: skeptic
This is actually very useful.  Having come in so late to the conversation I never went back and read the previous 200 pages so I never saw the original hypothesis.  Just want to look at one point and that is section K:

The recording by Adam and Seth of these events that were passed down to Moses...

gonna need a reference on this one, in fact I don't think I've ever heard this before.  Can you supply some more info please?

Date: 2006/09/26 11:24:46, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm crazy for even entering this conversation but I can not resist (you guys must be growing on me).

I'd just like to offer two tidbits.

One, we're dealing with a hypothetical.  Christianity has had an impact upon not only western culture but the world so we do not have an appropriate model sans Chritianity with which to compare and so all statements either for or against are supposition.  Attributes that we consider positive could actually be negative ones because we have no objective basis to view the alternative.  For instance, asking the question: How would the world have developed without Christianity?, is pure guesswork.

Two, I heard a commentary on NPR a while back comparing a survey taken in 1958 and in 2004.  The question was asked of biologists, Do you believe in God?  The group answering Yes was 40% in both surveys.  Just thought I'd throw that one out there.

Date: 2006/09/26 12:03:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Dave, thanks for the reference concerning the theory of eyewitness account of genesis.  I see some problems with it but that was the view from 10,000 feet so I'll get back to you after closer inspection.  I did notice in that post your refernce to me and the wish that I embrace the truth of YEC.  I feel I must respond to that.  To start with I have two quick questions:

Do you know the actual origin of the 6,000 years chronology?

Would it be any less miraculous if God had created the universe in 6,000 years, 6 billion years or 60 billion years?

Date: 2006/09/27 13:54:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (incorygible @ Sep. 27 2006,15:30)
Quote (stevestory @ Sep. 27 2006,14:29)
It's impressive watching you guys take down AFDave. It's kind of like watching Mike Tyson knock a 6th-grader's head completely off his body.

Which would be kind of sad entertainment, really, if said 6th-grader's headless corpse didn't then get up, time after time, and prance around the playground with his arms upheld in victory. At which point you feel compelled to grab another handful of popcorn. Hit 'im again, Mike!

Or even knock his block off yourself a few times. He doesn't even realize it's gone, so it's easy to excuse as a victimless crime, despite the obviously shameful mismatch.

A very appropriate analogy and should really give you guys pause in light of the fact (and if you continue the anaolgy) that if Tyson actually did hit a 6th grader he'd be in prison again.  You guys ought to feel a little ashamed of yourselves.

Date: 2006/09/27 17:51:30, Link
Author: skeptic
I don't want to scare you guys too much but there was an article in USA Today that echos an article from earlier this spring discussing the demographics of the nation (US for our visitors from across the pond) and the outlook for conservatives and liberals.  It seems that a convergence of factors are increasing the numbers of children born to conservative households vs those in liberal households.  The prediction is that if these trends bear out then liberalism is slowing being bred out of the US which is a stark contrast to demographic shifts in Europe.  Just thought I'd let you guys know that the short-term may actually be much better off for you than the long-run.  While getting rid of Bush may be cause for celebration in certain circles it has very little long-term impact because there are much greater factors in play.  Consider it an example of natural selection.  By defintion, the fittest are those that reproduce and survive and in this case it seems that conservatives are out-producing their liberal counterparts.  Interesting irony.

Date: 2006/09/29 17:28:45, Link
Author: skeptic
Has an ID "paper" ever been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal?

Is there any such thing as an ID "paper"?

Date: 2006/09/29 18:14:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Once again, there's no conspiracy here, no conservative breeding program just census bureau facts.  I know facts are a tough thing to deal with sometimes and they tend to rattle the echo-chambers that many live in but don't worry you guys seem to be well insulated.  As far as the reasons why, well there could be many different variables driving this trend, who knows and who cares.  More important than the actual topic I find your reactions to it very amusing.

and Ved according to Darwin (or my interpretation, that sound better Ichy) you are not successful unless you reproduce and reproduce well.  How would we define that?  Well that's a conversation for another day but I would warn you of an impending contradiction should you go down that road.  Better to ask first are humans currently evolving?

Date: 2006/09/30 14:14:14, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks Steve, it was as I thought.  It is no wonder there are no papers because the starting premise doesn't lend itself to research.  I was surprised by Denton's denials, though, I find little difference between "Natural Law" and ID.  I read a review of his book and in the attempt to distance himself from ID he sounds somewhat foolish.

Date: 2006/09/30 14:25:40, Link
Author: skeptic
Dave, I was just commenting on Denton on another thread and after reading the introduction to his book I believe that he actually accepts a form of intelligent design but refuses to admit it, maybe even to himself.  The idea that anything can be fully comprehended by human reason is just plain foolish and he goes a long way implying that all the necessary variables in the universe to support life signify order or design by their existence.  

Dave, I'm going to recommend "Who was Adam" by Rana because I think it introduces you to some sound scientific concepts that you might be able to accept and get you to drop this YEC idea.  It would at least getting on the same page with some of these guys so you could have a real discussion.  You just have to ignore Rana's claim that Creationism is testable under his model.  Outside of that madness it should be a useful book for you.

Date: 2006/10/01 01:49:39, Link
Author: skeptic
and what would that be, Rev?

Date: 2006/10/01 01:57:29, Link
Author: skeptic
Deadman, you confuse me.  What brand of skepticism to you subscribe to?  Are you talking a general interpretation or skepticism in only certain areas of thought because I detect no radical skepticism in your statements.  It sounds like you're only skeptical of religious thought but you're more than happy to embrace human knowledge based upon "secular" sources.

Nevermind, Deadman, I just visited the society website and that answered my question, Good luck in your pursuit of Truth.

Date: 2006/10/01 13:50:41, Link
Author: skeptic
that would be Market Research and judging by book sales I think you'd have to agree that they're getting very good at it.  Maybe they can get that published...

Date: 2006/10/02 05:50:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Watch out GoP, you're treading on dangerous ground here.  You might have to give up your job at Harvard if this goes any further.

Date: 2006/10/04 15:57:15, Link
Author: skeptic
I need a little clarification here.  There's a lot of talk about coding and non-coding DNA so when we're talking about divergence and conservation are we talking about only the coding regions or both the coding and non-coding regions?

Date: 2006/10/07 13:30:40, Link
Author: skeptic
While browsing through Dave God Hypothesis 2, I was struck with the question about DNA comparisons and Ichy's response got me thinking and doing a little research and I wanted to post some of what I found here as an FYI:

Chimp/Human Comparison

Not only is a summary here but there are also links to the sequenced genomes and the results of the analysis.  I thought I'd post this here because it didn't really belong on Dave's thread and he's got his hands full there anyway.  I'm going to keep working on this and would appreciate any further info on this topic if someone comes across it.

Date: 2006/10/07 13:45:57, Link
Author: skeptic
I apologize for the long post but I just read this off the newsbot and I'm betting most of these never get read.  I thought this was very well written and might be worth discussing here:

The Sunday Times   October 08, 2006

Comment: The need to believe
In his new book, Richard Dawkins argues that God is a delusion. But, asks Rod Liddle, isn't 'evangelical atheism' an article of faith in itself
Here’s a conundrum, of sorts, for evangelical atheists. Richard Dawkins has just written a book — an entertaining, wildly informative, splendidly written polemic against the existence of a divine being — called The God Delusion. As a scientist, perhaps these days our most lauded scientist, Dawkins is canny enough to know that, by the lights of his own methodology, it is impossible to state with certainty that there is no God. So he quietly concedes, early on, that God is “improbable”. Yet the rest of the book burns with a fervent faith that God is a childish construct of our imaginations; that He never existed and was a delusion.

Rhetoric and dark humour are brought to bear to swing the vacillating reader; we are elegantly cajoled, cleverly harangued into shedding ourselves of this superstitious nonsense that has bedevilled us since our first visit to Sunday school.

It is a passionate book; it is a book based on faith. It uses a wonderful array of literary and philosophical devices to convince that Dawkins’s belief is correct. It uses every manipulative trick there is to convince us of the author’s rectitude. It attempts to use science to destroy God, but cannot stick with science because science, sadly — by the author’s own admission — cannot do the job. “Well, there’s lots of science in it,” Dawkins replied, after a while, when I put this point to him during an interview for a Channel 4 documentary — and so there is. He had earlier concurred that The God Delusion was in the main a rhetorical work, and that he was in danger of becoming better known as a serial God-basher than as a serious scientist. “That would be sad,” he agreed.

There is no reason, of course, why a brilliant scientific mind like Dawkins’s should be debarred from rhetoric, satire and humour. But the problem is, when you advance a case rooted in the supposedly disinterested scientific discourse that insists God probably does not exist, then flam it up so that God becomes a ludicrous and contemptible conceit, you undermine the basis of your argument. That’s the conundrum for atheists: the belief that God exists is scarcely less worthy than the belief that He does not exist. Or, at least, neither proposition obliges belief per se. It is this notion of belief, rather than God, that causes the problems. And The God Delusion throbs with belief, the belief of the disbeliever; its broad sweep of science is in most cases subordinate to the author’s standpoint.

Science does not exist in a vacuum, its practitioners inured to such human frailties as hubris. If this were the case, we would have paradigm shifts less frequently; science would progress in a more orderly manner, each practitioner disinterestedly testing the hypotheses of their predecessors, unblemished by an unscientific attachment to this or that standpoint.

That’s not how science works. Scientists tend to attach themselves to their disparate theories with a very human, unscientific fervour. Later, their theories are almost always amended or discarded; that’s the way with science. And refusing to let go of those theories is the way with human beings. You might argue further that if you are a scientist, you should be disinclined to talk in terms of certainties, knowing that human knowledge is finite and will change. Particularly when dealing with God, and even more so, when your viewpoint is drawn from a theory that is beginning to look a little careworn: Darwinism.

Of all the scientific ideas that have sent God scurrying into a hole in the skirting board, Darwinism had the most shattering effect. The previously unanswerable question — how could an organ as complex as, say, an eye, evolve by chance? It couldn’t! There must be a creator! — was suddenly rendered irrelevant.

For 147 years, Darwinism has been the best way we have of explaining evolution. And when Dawkins and the like eviscerate bone-headed creationists and advocates of intelligent design, one is unreservedly with him. Theirs is an obnoxious and dangerous stupidity, a wilful promulgation of ignorance. But increasingly one feels that their numbing certainties are matched by those of the atheists; that there is an intellectual blindness on the other side, too.

Take Dawkins’s riposte to those who suggest that there may have been a God of some kind responsible for the inception of life, who then conveniently absented himself. This is silly, he suggests, because it would contradict the principle that the complex evolves from the simple; if God were there before the amoeba, He must surely have been a complex being, and therefore something must have created Him. QED, reverend.

Well, that’s true if Darwinian evolution is a sort of sacred text that must never be gainsaid. Yet increasingly, scientists are picking holes in this notion of gradual change. The “evo-devo” school of thought holds that sudden change can occur within a species effectively in the space of one generation. It does not imply that there is a creator; it is, if you like, God- neutral. But it challenges a central tenet of something that has become less a theory than a faith.

Nowhere, though, do the atheists flail more ineffectually than in attempting to fill what Sartre called the “God-shaped hole” inside all of us: our need to believe in something from which we derive our notion of morality.

Atheists squirm when presented with the fact that political regimes that did away with religion and replaced it with a supposedly rational creed (to which the description “scientific” was frequently appended) ended up murdering more people than Torquemada could have ever envisaged.

Clearly, something always moves in to fill that gap — and you might argue that the more avowedly “scientific” it is, the more it will be disposed towards viciousness. Dawkins acknowledges this need for something and concocts 10 commandments. For which thanks, Richard, mate. In place of don’t kill, steal or covet your neighbour’s wife, we have stuff like “Value the future on a timescale longer than your own”, or “Enjoy your own sex life (so long as it damages nobody else)”. It is the 10 commandments handed down not by Moses, but by a wet Guardian leader-writer, etched not in stone but perhaps on organic tofu. It is beyond parody, and its potential longevity as a useful moral code can be counted in years rather than millenniums.

The truth, though, for the atheists — Dawkins included — is that science itself fills their “God-shaped holes” in a way that, by its own lights, it should not. Dawkins marshals figures that suggest belief in God is low among scientists, implying this is because they know better. More likely is that, being human, they have swapped one belief system for another and his statistics are simply a tautology: the scientists believe in a different God.

It is evident in the fury and passion with which Dawkins et al advance their cause: they proselytise, they evangelise, they demand our repentance and our acceptance of their own creed. I’d rather treat science as a wonderful human creation for describing the world around us — often in metaphors that have an agreeably biblical ring to them. And, at the same time, I suspect — Betjeman called it, in a lovely oxymoron, a “faint conviction” — that we do not know everything, nor ever shall, and that there is a ghost somewhere in the machine.

Date: 2006/10/08 02:22:24, Link
Author: skeptic
actually what I'm really interested here is the actual sites of divergence and conservation.  I'm not satisfied with just a statistical treatment of the data.  As protein structure is directly related to function it would be expected that there would be a very high correlation between similar or same proteins but in some genes there are not.  Additionally, some regions show much more variation or faster rates of mutation and the question of non-coding regions and their purpose or function.  All of these questions I find very interesting and I plan on researching further.  One thing about this work that I really love is it might be moving us closer and closer to a pure genetic classification system which is something I strongly advocate.

As to the population genetics, any suggestions?

Date: 2006/10/08 02:34:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Just to clear up some points, the author of the piece was Rod Liddle who I know nothing about.  The only possible insightful action on my part was to post it here because that would give others the opportunity to read it that may not otherwise because it was a newsbot item.  I don't know if you guys are like me but I read about 1 out of 50 of those posts.  What I found as striking about Liddle's review and interview was Dawkins admission that God was not scientifically testable and then his insistance that God (or the idea thereof) was a delusion.  That followed by his acknowledgement that he did not want to be remembered as a zeolot rather than a scientist I found to be ironic.  I believe that is exactly what he has become but I assumed that it was intentional in order elevate name recognition, increase interview opportunities and book sales and to establish himself as the Darwin Defender Extraordinare of this century.  Otherwise I thought the article was very well written from a satirical perspective.  I guess that depends upon sense of humor.

Date: 2006/10/08 17:18:58, Link
Author: skeptic
thanks for the suggestions.  funny thing about mitochondrial DNA sequences, I remember many years ago comparisons that seemed to indicate Native Americans were more closely related to Europeans that the Asians that presumably crossed the Alaskan land bridge.  Then lo and behold European style spearheads are discovered in Virginia dating 6,000 prior to the Asian migrations.  Maybe the DNA doesn't lie.  Anyway, this should be an interesting perspective as I am used to dealing with the individual and extrapolating out and looking at it backwards, so to speak, will be educating.

Date: 2006/10/08 17:41:14, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, I'm afraid on the "biological" source of non-physical traits you run into the difficulty of direct causation unless you make the blanket statement that  all human traits are linked to a direct biological cause.  This statement lacks in specificity even though from a materialistic perspective it seems a given.  For example, how much advancement can be attributed directly to the opposable thumb, did language cause an increase in average brain sizes or was it the other way around, does religion fall into the catagory of social behavior or is it actually an evolved instinctual trait.  Assessing the major differences between chimps and humans becomes more of a philosophical argument much like the mind vs brain discussion.  I realize that this is actually off topic but comparisons of uniquely human traits certainly bring these questions up.

Date: 2006/10/08 17:50:53, Link
Author: skeptic
wow, you must be reading my mind because I'm not sure exactly what biased position I just communicated.

Date: 2006/10/08 18:11:15, Link
Author: skeptic
I must say that I am impressed.  I don't believe I've ever met a more arrogant individual who has no problem being consistantly wrong but then again I can not say for sure because I really do not know anything about you and it would be presumptuous and illogical of me to make that statement.

Date: 2006/10/09 02:40:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Well I can't say that you're not amusing but I'm not really interested in personalities that's not my field.

Date: 2006/10/09 02:53:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Dave, you're falling in the same trap that Dawkins has sprung.  Your view of mankind is not based upon science it is based upon the Bible.  This is not an insult just a statement of fact.  It is a belief founded upon faith but you're trying to apply science in an un-scientific area.  You can not prove that God exists any more than Dawkins can prove that God doesn't.  Any attempt to do so belittles both disciplines.  The real questions concerning the unique qualities of mankind will never be found in a testtube or under a microscope and any attempts to do so leaves you searching for answers in the wrong places.  You gain your understanding from the Bible and you should continue to look for your answers there while others here find their answers in textbooks and peer-reviewed journals and they should continue to do so.  With that being said now can't we all just get along?   :D

Date: 2006/10/09 03:01:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ericmurphy @ Oct. 09 2006,00:13)
Quote (skeptic @ Oct. 08 2006,22:41)
Eric, I'm afraid on the "biological" source of non-physical traits you run into the difficulty of direct causation unless you make the blanket statement that  all human traits are linked to a direct biological cause.  This statement lacks in specificity even though from a materialistic perspective it seems a given.

So are you saying the difference in intelligence between humans and chimps is due to something other than brain size and structure? You think that there are any traits humans have that chimps don't that are due to some causes other than physical causes? Do you have any evidence to support such a belief? Because otherwise we're talking about metaphysics, and frankly I can't be bothered talking metaphysics in the context of evolutionary biology.

If there's some kind of connection between brain size and opposable thumbs, regardless of which caused which, there's still nothing other than a biological cause. Whether religion is a "social behavior" or "an evolved instinctual trait," it's still based on a biological instrumentality: the human brain.

Look at developmentally-disabled people, Skeptic. Why are they developmentally-disabled? Because there are organic problems with their brains.

Are you of the belief that human intelligence is due to something other than the human brain? Some sort of ethereal god-given ectoplasm?

Maybe when there's some evidence for it.

No, no I'm only saying that the actual biological causes are sometimes difficult to identify and while the concept may be self-evident it could be premature to make a blanket statement concerning all traits.  You do run into metaphysics when you talk about a topic like the location of the Mind but it is also a biological question in the context of brain-damage as you alluded to.  It has been said that humans are nothing more than a bag of chemical reactions but this may be impossible to completely support in a practical context and it is much more satisfying to regard mankind in a poetic light.

Date: 2006/10/09 03:08:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Now, Deadman why'd you have to go and destroy a perfectly good Discovery channel special.  So you're saying that the evidence of the European spearheads is disputed so how does that sit with mitochondrial DNA evidence?  This is an honest question as anthropology is not in my toolkit as Ichy would say.  (Go ahead Ichy, take your shot there, its a perfect opportunity.)

Date: 2006/10/09 10:58:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Deadman, so are you saying that the general agreement is still centered upon Asia -> Alaska -> Western North America -> South America?  the reason I ask is the advanced cultures (Mayans, etc) are so far south although this would make sense if they were fleeing cold regions in search of warmer climates...

Date: 2006/10/09 12:46:49, Link
Author: skeptic
any theories around the diversity of technologies when comparing the Northern and Southern American peoples?  Of course, I'm viewing this from 10,000 ft maybe there are many more similarities upon closer inspection.

Date: 2006/10/10 03:44:32, Link
Author: skeptic
This thread moves way to fast to keep up with.  I'd like to put a limiter on you guys.  Not much time today, but Dave when you talk about atheism in the classroom under the guise of Darwinism you've got to remember that atheismisn't exclusive to Darwinism.  Just because Dawkins has taken up Huxley's cross doesn't mean the two must go hand in hand.  There are many courses in which atheism can be injected.  I remember undergrad P-chem and I had a professor introduce quantum mechanics as the theory otherwise known as "Why there is no God".  It all comes down to the teacher and their particular agenda or beliefs.  Conversely, if you have a conservative christian teacher then the tone of instruction changes accordingly.  Ultimately, the spiritual instruction of children is not the responsibility of public education but it remains up to parents and clergy and that is where it should remain.

Also, k.e. be careful on your assumptions concerning my salvation, for one thing I would not burn in #### as my #### is a cold one, ala Dante.

Date: 2006/10/11 11:21:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, having come late to this party, would you please repost the lungfish - coelacanth data?  I apologize for the inconvienence.

Date: 2006/10/12 10:58:05, Link
Author: skeptic
Jean, I noticed you mentioned that the diagram was out of date and I may be missing the context it was used in as I don't have time to go back and read all the pages of this thread, but I thought I recalled that links between sapien and neanderthal were not distinct and the direct line between habilis and sapien wasn't fully supported.  maybe Deadman can shed a little light on this diagram or offer one that is up to date.

Date: 2006/10/13 13:17:41, Link
Author: skeptic
I hope you don't mind me butting into this discussion but I'd add that a "fine-tuned" argument is generally a reaffirmation of ego-centrism.  The universe appears "fine-tuned" because it produced us who observe it to be "fine-tuned" which completely neglects the possibility that millions of other life forms in universe think exactly the same thing.  Life may exist in multiple forms that we can not conceptualize which would be more supportive of a philosophy stating that life is inevitable rather than the conditions were just right.

That being said, any references to a positivist view point is again based upon ego.  As you said, Jean, we can not approach Reality so to dismiss alternate realities because it does not fit mankind's incomplete (flawed, inadequate, pick your descriptor) model would be unduely restrictive.

Date: 2006/10/13 13:42:59, Link
Author: skeptic
so we can replace the current clowns with clowns of a slightly different variety?

Date: 2006/10/16 13:50:43, Link
Author: skeptic
I got excited for the thirty seconds it took me to read your posts.  I wasn't aware of Dembski's calculator but having now seen a little background is appears to be an embarassing oversimplification.  Thanks for the post.

Date: 2006/10/16 13:57:40, Link
Author: skeptic
careful what you ask for Jean, the current goal is to have it taught in public schools without ever being peer-reviewed, and on that point how could you peer-review God?  Thoughts to ponder...

Date: 2006/10/18 14:06:07, Link
Author: skeptic
I wouldn't advocate wasting your time.  Any references to science will be promptly ignored or regarded as a predictable attack and no amount of discussion/argument will deter them from their primary belief that God created the universe et al.  This is were people have to be expected to learn the difference between religion and science and if they don't want to you can not make them.  It's an exercise in futility on the same par with the continuing monotony of the discussions with Dave.  Dave's beliefs will never be changed by any on these boards and his versions of evidence will also never be accepted here.  So with that being said, what's the point?

Date: 2006/10/18 16:59:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I fail to see the fun and YEC will never be taught in public schools so again, what's the point?

Date: 2006/10/19 03:49:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Guthrie, I'm not sure how it works over there so I do not know of your level of distress but I do know how it works over here and it is a non-issue.  There's no scientific evidence for a 6,000 year old world and to even entertain the argument is like walking into the asylum and sitting down for a game of checkers.  Now by all accounts Europe is much more secularized than the US so I would assume you would have no problem with this issue either but I may be wrong.  You can throw examples like horses in their face but it makes no difference whatso ever because the belief is built on faith.  In order to believe a 6,000 year old Earth you'd have to deny almost all science disciplines for the last 200 years and when you do that, as these people have, then there's just no reason to have a conversation about science because you're speaking two different languages.  It has nothing to do with idiocy or stupidity; it's a decision that faith trumps reason and I know that's a generally aborrent attitude around here but that is the choice of a minority and there's nothing that can be done to change it.  I would submit that there should be no effort to try because these people are happy and harmless so why waste the time.

Date: 2006/10/19 12:03:40, Link
Author: skeptic
the chasm between YEC and ID is immense and as we've seen how ID has fared, YEC has no chance.  Ichy, if you feel the need to create crisis to entertain yourself, feel free.  Personally, I think you're nearly delusional, there is no REAL threat here.

Date: 2006/10/19 19:04:45, Link
Author: skeptic
Thats something I will have to ponder as I have never really been much concerned with the ignorance of others and it certainly doesn't annoy me.  Maybe I just don't have the free time to worry about such things.  Also, I'd like to see a show of hands from all those who believe ID will ever be taught in the public schools.  If you raised your hand then you live in a much different world than I and barring the chance that both these worlds exist simultaneously then one of us must be delusional.  Its not for me to decide who because I honestly don't care.  And finally, there is a huge difference between ID and YEC.  Just because certain individuals cling to both theories doesn't bring them any closer together.  It is equivilant to throwing something (in this case two somethings) against the wall to see what will stick.

Date: 2006/10/20 18:01:40, Link
Author: skeptic
That's it Steve, you've completely revealed your lunacy and lack of basic understanding and from this point forward I doubt if I'll ever believe a word you say again.  I mean really, how could anyone believe the NBA has any redeeming value much less believe it is better than the NFL!  What is this world coming to?!  :D

Date: 2006/10/20 18:25:37, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Mike PSS @ Oct. 20 2006,08:57)
I'm going to be critical here.

Do you always type in stream-of-consiousness?  I'm trying to piece together those bits of your reply that apply to my comments and others comments, BUT without any references, quotes, or distinct seperation of phrases the whole response seems to be so much mumbling on your part.

Mike, I will apologize for this style because I use it constantly for two reasons, 1) it is my natural style, and 2) I'm typically responding to multiple posts at once and I don't have the time or the inclination to quote all those instances, sorry.  I understand the difficulty this may sometimes cause and I apologize for the inconvenience.

Now, moving on, for all those who think ID and YEC have something in common let's look at this a little more closely:

ID generally accepts most scientific concepts as we know them while YEC does not.

ID only real statement is the complexity of life implies a Designer, YEC says that designer is the God of the Bible and the only relevant science text is the Old Testament.

YEC makes statements about the moral and spirtual aspect of man while ID does not.

ID, to date, has been rejected in every serious attempt to elevate it to science status while no one is even foolish enough to attempt that with YEC.

As a footnote, DI refers to creationism which is a very broad term.  At last estimates, nearly 90% of US residents believe in God so they must embrace some sort of creationism, by definiton.

Ichy and Lenny, there's no need for the chicken little hysteria, the sky is not falling.  You guys may want to try a new schtick.

Date: 2006/11/01 05:02:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Try appling imagination or abstract thought to animal behavior.  There's no way to measure or observe it and I believe that therein rests the single greatest, maybe the only, different trait between man and animal.  Now whether or not you think that animals display this trait or it is a purely human characteristic depends upon your prior bias concerning the uniqueness of mankind.  We always end up at this same point, it seems, but regardless it seems unfounded to say that Collins is wrong.  We arrive again at a question with no answer.

Date: 2006/11/01 06:50:58, Link
Author: skeptic
The tag line on the thread "Why Francis Collins is wrong"

Date: 2006/11/01 11:48:08, Link
Author: skeptic
I haven't read Collins' book and I'm not sure that I will but I believe that my point has been made.  As I said, I believe that imagination and abstract thought separate man and beast; that's my personal bias.  Many here take the stance that there is no difference and offer evidence to explain away the differences; that's their personal bias.  You can not measure or observe imagination at work in the mind of a cat as it makes a jump or follows a path.  In fact, I can instruct a computer to find and analyze multiple paths and select the most appropriate.  I would assume no one here is ready to confer imagination upon a computer.

Date: 2006/11/01 13:42:55, Link
Author: skeptic
If the "evidence" is nothing more than a humanistic interpretation of behavior then it is still nothing more than bias.  It amazes me, Ichy, how poor your comprehension skills are as you completely misunderstood nearly all of what I said.  Either that or you're just in too big a hurry to refute and insult that you don't actually bother to read.

Date: 2006/11/01 14:07:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Russell, I watched the film when it occurred and I was struck by how "natural" the behavior was not human.  It could explained in the same way as a product of instinct.  Are you trying to equate the behavior that we judge to be "good" was actually done with the goal of being "good"?  No matter how much we want to confer value upon these actions they are still our values that we use as the measuring stick.  

and Ichy, I'll try this real slow for you, it is all subjective and that was my point.  We see what we want to see based upon our initial bias.  Until animals start speaking there is no evidence that bridges that gap.

Date: 2006/11/02 02:59:12, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Russell @ Nov. 01 2006,21:21)
I don't pretend to know what was going through Binti Jua's mind at the time, but my first guess is that it's something like the feeling that I experience when I see an animal in distress: empathy, I guess.

What's your guess?

I can not make a guess and that is my point even though some people just can not grasp that concept.  You equate what you would feel to what you assume the animal feels.  While this may be correct there is absolutely no way to measure this in order to prove whether or not it is correct.  This is where we tend to apply human traits and emotions to animal behavior and in reality animal behavior may as well be alien given our inability to accurately assess the motivations behind these behaviors.  To take this one step further and attempt to present evolutionary origins for these perceived motivations is pure imagination.  I would look more towards human psycology for the reasons why we feel we must assign these motivations without direct evidence of their existence.

A perfect example is the statement about a pet.  If I think my dog is feeling guilt that is only because in the same situation I would feel guilt and I would like to think that my dog cares enough about me to return the feeling.  To turn the analogy on it's head, think of how often you observe you dog's behavior and think "what in the world is he doing?"  I think you'll see that it works both ways.

Date: 2006/11/02 11:00:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually, Russell, you can do more than guess when it comes to another human's behavior because you can ask them about their motivation and they can tell you.  This can not be done with an animal.  That only leaves a determination of whether or not they are lying or are not conscious of their own motivations but either way it gets you much closer than a guess.  Now, Ichy, if you read this real slow and you sound out each word then you might begin to understand why it makes no difference what methods are used in those studies.  Although, if you happen to come across a study written by dogs let me know because that would be interesting and relevant.

Date: 2006/11/02 11:42:31, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not sure if that's the most immature statement you've made to date but it's sure close.  That is, of course, if I assume that you are an adult, which given the nature of the internet, I shouldn't take that for granted.  In spite of that mystery, if you feel that you have something useful to contribute regarding the question of mankind's uniqueness, please offer it because you endless insults are just tiring.

Date: 2006/11/02 12:34:42, Link
Author: skeptic
Skepticism is always a good thing.  Look at it this way.  Your motivations are a result of your experiences.  Even more they are dependant upon your senses and the data that you have collected about your environment.  So the manner in which you collect that data can have a profound impact on the way that data is processed.  The assumption would then be that animals with very similar sensory perception would process data similarly and that extrapolation could be made.  The difficulty then comes from actually measuring this similarity and then beyond that factoring in the inequality of human vs animal experience.  I've seen this in action while working with primates.  Watching them watch Sesame Street is nothing short of eerie.  They react out of context and you really wish you could read their thoughts and figure out what they see when they see the same Sesame Street that you are watching.  An even more brutal example are animal attacks by supposedly tame animals with no warning or provocation.  I'll wait for direct communication before I'm really convinced.

Date: 2006/11/02 14:06:59, Link
Author: skeptic
I actually have studied this stuff for years, taught it for years and the undergraduate level, and even published on it in the literature.  bottom line, I actually do know what I'm talking about.

I sincerely doubt every bit of that.  I could be wrong but as I've said before you seem to lack the temperment to be very effective at any level of education.

Date: 2006/11/02 16:31:39, Link
Author: skeptic
That's right, this is your world and I'm just living in it.  I would say get over yourself but I believe it goes deeper than that, pathologic maybe.

Date: 2006/11/02 17:46:42, Link
Author: skeptic
It must be bad because now you're just repeating yourself but if you'd ever like to break this mold try some independent thought.  Assess an idea by first thinking for yourself, reject conventional wisdom, ignore the source, use logic and rationale rather than dogma and see if you come to the same conclusion.  Stretch your mind, exercise it rather than regurgitating the thoughts of others.  You know what they say "Use It or Lose It."  You might even find it liberating...

Date: 2006/11/02 18:44:46, Link
Author: skeptic
way to spice it up, but on a more relevant note how is ontogenetic color change related to altruism?

Date: 2006/11/02 19:42:19, Link
Author: skeptic
I wouldn't deny the existence of altruism nor the benefit in a highly social organization but actually measuring that existence is where it gets tricky.  What we perceive to be "good" is a value statement.  This action is "good" because it shows caring for other lifeforms or preserves life when in fact it may just be an instinctual reaction to maintain a larger breeding stock or some other such reason.  In any event we don't really know because we can not actually communicate with the animal we can only observe it actions and attempt to infer the meaning behind them.  To move to the opposite end of the spectrum, let's look at lions.  Lions have a tendency to kill newborn cubs.  Is this an "evil" act?  We don't think so.  We think the purpose is to force the female back into heat sooner so the male may breed again.  How would we characterize this in relation to human behavior?  Is morality merely the composite of behaviors that work best for us on the survival scale?  Is there actually no intrinsic "good", if so then we are no different than animals just more complex.  I think that's were the two opinions diverge.

Date: 2006/11/02 20:02:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I have only observation and rational thought.  Look at the statement again:

Among those traits is empathy, or the capacity to distinguish others' emotions, which in turn is tied to the capacity to distinguish oneself from others.

How do you know that the animal is responding to emotion, how about pheromone release?  Are you saying that because the animal can recognize itself then it can show empathy?  Just how do you objectively measure empathy?

I'm walking down the street an I see an old woman step in front of a bus.  I grab her and pull her out of the street.  Why?  Because I wanted to save her life because all life is sacred?  So you ask me and I tell you that I saw that she was wearing an expensive coat and I thought I might get a reward for saving her life.  Is that still a "good" act and how would you have known the difference if you hadn't asked me?  How are you going to ask the elephant?

Date: 2006/11/05 02:20:16, Link
Author: skeptic
A few years ago this guy made millions by stating the obvious, as often happens, that men and women think differently, ala Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  It has always been known that Men really have know idea what is going on in the minds of women and women have always said that men have no concept about how it feels to be a women.

How much of this is truth and how much is the ongoing interplay between man and woman?  Even though the brains are structurally similar the chemistry is somewhat different.  How significant is this difference in light of all the similarity?  When a man says "love" he means such as opposed to when a woman says "love" she means this.  So then man and woman try to reconcile this difference of opinion, definition, feeling thru communication.  As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working for you?"  It's safe to say that results vary.

So why is this relevant?  It's an example within our own species of how difficult it can be to share ideas and define concepts.  Obviously, we want to work beyond our own species but we have to be aware of the complications that arise.  This really goes back to the bias of the observer.  If I see similarity in the animal I observe then I make generalizations based upon my own definitions and project them out to the animal.  If I view the animal as distinct from me than I am less likely describe the animal according to my experiences and more likely to describe it as alien.  I add the qualifier here because it is impossible to fully remove ourselves from the observation as we must record the observation in human language using human concepts.

In the currrent discussion, on one side it is assumed that altruism being exhibited by both animals and man has an evolutionary origin.  Therefore, man and animal are not different because they have both developed corresponding behaviors.  In a sense, the underlying bias of sameness leads to conclusions that reinforce the initial position.  On the other hand, a belief that mankind is different or unique from animals will emphasize differences rather than similarities and further reinforce that initial position.  It once again becomes a philosophical question that defines the outcome.  

I am not sure that animals experience altruism even though we describe the behaviors that we see according to our concepts and label it as altruism.  It is convenient to do so because the generalization allows us to confer understanding to other humans as we go about conceptualizing the world we live in.  Certainly, the animal is not going to speak up and point out that we got it wrong on this or that point so the generalization stands.  That leave me observing the animal behavior as just that, animal behavior.  Attempting to track the evolution of behavior seems tenuous without even contemplating the underlying motivation or emotion.  I prefer to view the behavior as unique to each animal in an attempt to appreciate it more and remove as much human bias as possible.

On a side note, which is more arrogant: the belief that the world and everything in it can be described using human language and concepts or that there is much out there we do not know nor understand and to presume too much places us on the thin ice of assumption.  Again, it comes down to a philosophical question.

Date: 2006/11/05 05:19:49, Link
Author: skeptic
As so often happens with your posts, I really not sure I have a clue what you're trying to say.  For instance:

You appear to be making the assumption that because we don't know 'some unknown unknown' we can rightly conclude that human language  correctly conveys concepts which arrogantly firmly assert  the existence  of deities as though they are fact.

If I'm understanding you correctly then I'm asserting quite the opposite.  Taking your example, let's examine the nature of knowledge with is based upon human reason and accept that it is purely human knowledge.  Beyond that constraint it may have no real explanatory power which is something we may never know unless we were to encounter other beings with comparable levels of communication.

To extend my statement to apply to God, as you seem compelled to do, then the analogy would be towards those that profess to know the mind or motivations of God or use these assumptions in their arguments.  I would say that they make the same assumptions by extending human knowledge to explain phenomena that would be, by definition, outside of the existance of human knowledge.

I understand what both Ichy and BWE are trying to say but that doesn't change the fact that the question remains and will continue because it is the philosophical one.

Date: 2006/11/05 07:52:25, Link
Author: skeptic
I would think that it is more likely that this is just a rare expression of a normal gene rather than the reassertion of a latent ancient gene or...

we could be witnessing evolution in action and dolphins will be moving onshore and will once again develop into land mammals which, of course, means that due to the superior intelligence of dolphins they will soon take over the world and the end of human civilization is finally at hand!

Date: 2006/11/05 09:32:57, Link
Author: skeptic
That's wrong. Our "human" scientific knowledge allows us to accurately predict future events and observations. That's what explanatory power really boils down to.

If non-human intelligences exist, their non-human knowledge is going to make the same predictions as ours would. Assuming the starting conditions are equivalent, human knowledge is not going to accurately predict one outcome at the same time that non-human knowledge accurately predicts another. (Not unless you reject the concept of objective reality.)

I would disagree on these grounds, the two sets of predictions may agree if both we and the other beings described the world in the same way and if we both were correct.  Otherwise, you run into a problem where the other being doesn't even agree on the premise of the predictions or our theory is more correct and we arrive at correct predictions and they do not or vise versa.  Now given an accurate translation or convertion we may both arrive at the same prediction but I'm not going to take that for granted.  By the way, I do accept objective reality;although many do not, but I can not assume that we can come close to describing that reality.

You're still missing the point. Animals behave altruistically. How can you argue that humans are uniquely altruistic, when certain animals behave in ways that clearly meet the observational definition of altruism?

It may be more accurate to say that we describe animals' behavior as altruistic.  Which is to say that animals appear to act in an altruistic way, as we define altruism, but their actual motivations are unclear to us.  We can only guess at what the animal is thinking or reacting to.

The more I think about it Collins may have set up a completely circular case.  By identifing the existence of empathy or altruism as the difference between man and animal and these behaviors being defined by man and only "proven" to exist in man, maybe he hopes his arguement is persuasive by default.  Kind of like saying, "Get back to me when you've found a caring dog that you can talk to, until then I'll stick to my theory."

Date: 2006/11/05 11:35:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Imagine a being that receives input from the environment in a completely different way than we, i.e. different sensory mechanisms, different evaluation processes and so forth and their model of the universe is, pardon the pun, alien.  Our view may be correct for us and their's correct for them and still both be correct.  To use the analogy, we may be two different blind men feeling up the same elephant.

As far as the Scotsman, I'm not familiar with that fallacy, but I would agree that it is only the motivation that defines an action as altruistic.  Remember the story earlier this year about the teen hero who ran into a burning building to save some children.  That would certainly seem altruistic until you learned that the man had set the fire himself.  But go on and tell me about the Scotsman...

Date: 2006/11/05 12:00:37, Link
Author: skeptic
Reluctant, I went looking for a reference for you because I seemed to remember a few years ago a young Brazilian (I think) physicist who theorized that the speed of light was different during the initial moments of the big bang and what the repercussions of this might be.  He did emphasize that this represented no threat to realitivity and he wrote a book about, but I forget his name.

Anyway, this is what I found and I was shocked, even though it has no relevance to the question at hand, I would have thought that this would have been more widely publisized:

Speed of light might have changed recently

Date: 2006/11/05 12:59:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Yes, I watched Maguiejo's lecture presenting his theory and he seemed very bright.  I always meant to get his book but I never got around to it.

Alas, as you say, this offers no comfort to young Douglas.

Date: 2006/11/06 02:36:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Honestly, nothing.  It's just an attempt to recalibrate the mechanism by which the age of the universe is calculated.  Just trying to move 13 billion closer to 6,000.

Date: 2006/11/06 02:43:49, Link
Author: skeptic
As usual you failed to grasp what I was saying.  So, give me an example of how we have studied the evolution of a behavior, please.

Also, I'm waiting for the interview to be released.  It was a 90 minute session with Dawkins and Collins and the portions of it are in this month's Time.  In fact, the cover story for this month's Time is God vs. Science.  That alone ought to keep us going for a month.

Date: 2006/11/06 11:03:39, Link
Author: skeptic
if I wish to continue on this thread...

I read this earlier today and I really wanted to digest it fully before I responded because I was somewhat surprised by my initial response.  It was one of pity.  

So, to use your words, if I don't get a clue you're going to take your toys and go home like some child.  Are you interested in discussing ideas or just hearing your own repeated back to you?

Jupiter had asked a very interesting question which I was going to respond to and now it seems even more relevant:

skeptic, your objections in this thread are the very same objections you began with, in your criticism of the ToE. What is it that you find useful in such a limited and ingrown schema?

What value do I gain?  I view all of knowledge in flux and not as a closed book.  What we know or think we know is in constant revision and I love that because I marvel at discovery.  Learning something new, seeing a pattern, fitting another piece of the puzzle and even realizing that a mistake has been made and it's back to the drawing board.  I question everything and I accept the current models as just that, current models.  They are likely to change, be updated or cast away completely.  With this outlook, I am positioned not only to accept change but to embrace and anticipate it.  I have no world view house built on a foundation of sand that will crumble beneath me leaving me without a home.

I am liberated from narrow-mindedness and I do not require an echo chamber to feel safe.  I welcome new ideas to be looked at and examined on all sides but I am not threatened by them.  And most of all, I don't mind being wrong because that is one of the best ways to learn.  I am convinced that I do not already know it all and I don't feel the need to prove to everyone that I'm the smartest guy in the room.  I'm content.

So, Jupiter, that's what I get out of it.  No anger or anxiety or frustration with the ideas of others just discovery and the joy that comes with it.

And, Ichy, if you feel that's it's time for you to pick up your toys and move on in order to preserve your integrity or your ego, then you do what you gotta do.  I was not aware it was possible to be banned for voicing opposing opinions but I'm not completely familiar with the working of this site.  So we'll see...

Date: 2006/11/06 17:27:27, Link
Author: skeptic
Since I'm still here I'll address something quickly

you could do something intelligent and argue for Collins position, given you understood it.

I've already stated that I believe Collins' premise to be false based upon circular reasoning.  If only humans exhibit altruistic behavior because they are the only beings that can be defined to exhibit such behavior then this can not be a point of differentiation.  If animals are capable of exhibiting altruistic behavior this must be proven by observation which would invalidate the original premise.

I for one can not be convinced of either empathy or altruism in animals so I would focus upon some other method of differentiation in order to attempt to prove the separation of man and animal.

And with that I will await the boot...

Date: 2006/11/06 18:15:59, Link
Author: skeptic
and what religious motivations was Stalin following during his  moment in the sun?

Date: 2006/11/07 07:57:37, Link
Author: skeptic
No, actually I am interested or I wouldn't waste my time as I don't in Dave's threads and others that seem pointless.  What I also find interesting is how easily you can justify your intractable opinion while discounting mine.

On the other hand, I will make a correction after rereading my post,

To say that I can not be convinced is incorrect, I misspoke.  My current state is that I am not convinced and that is subject to change since it is only valid in the present.

Date: 2006/11/07 23:22:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (jupiter @ Nov. 07 2006,22:07)
For the purposes of science or any other form of communication, it's the overlap that's meaningful, not the divergence. The former is accessible; the latter is forever beyond our reach.

In my opinion, this is over-simplification.  Both the overlap and the divergence are meaningful in order to develop robust theory.

Date: 2006/11/08 07:07:41, Link
Author: skeptic
Two points to consider:

Are animals good or evil?

Does it change the premise to state that man's distinction from the animal kingdon is evidenced by his capacity for good and/or evil?

Date: 2006/11/08 16:20:33, Link
Author: skeptic
BWE, not quite.  We, as individuals, do not define our own reality no matter how hard we may try.  On the other hand, collectively we describe reality in human terms.  This is not something that we can avoid as ours is the only perspective that we have to choose from.  Awareness of this bias may give us greater understanding but we have no comparison we can make to correct inaccuracies.  In short, we're stuck with it so we can only make the best of it.

This addresses knowledge in a general sense.  In your example comparisons are made between man and lizard in quantitative ways.  Perfectly reasonable but the trouble lies in assumptions made that we can not quantify.  We have trouble reconsiling the mind-body relationship in humans so it only stands to reason that we would have more problems extending those assumptions to animals.  Now you say, but we are animals and I would revise my statement to include not just animals but any other beings other than ourselves.  We are animals in the sense that we share similar biology and if the mind can be proven to be only a product of biology then the inclusion of man and animal in a single group stands.  Since the essence of the mind has not been established I prefer to hold off on the merging of man and animal at this time.

You are right, good and evil are loaded terms but so are love, hate, sadness, empathy, altruism and I purposely used them to illustrate that point.  We can certainly observe and describe behavior that we deem to be evil but what does it mean to be evil?  Just that we behave in an evil way?  There is a philosophical debate here which can be shown in the difference between these two statements:

Elephants exhibit altruistic behavior.
Elephants are altruistic.

I do not believe these statements to be equivilent and I think only one of them is subject scientific inquiry.  Do you disagree?

OT, I take the opposite view.  I believe man is both good and evil but I can not confidently make the same claim about animals (those of the non-human sort).

Date: 2006/11/08 17:23:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I recommend The Identity of Man by Jacob Bronowski.  It addresses the knowledge of science and the knowledge of self, you might find it interesting in relation to your second point.

Forgive me for intruding, GoP, just thought I'd offer that tidbit.  I've been told I inject into other's threads too often.

Date: 2006/11/09 19:14:13, Link
Author: skeptic
two quick comments while I have a second:

1) Francis Collins is not an actual scientist?

2) someone is looking for a scientific evaluation of Moral Law?

I think I'll be laughing about this for hours; if anything, you guys sure are amusing.

Date: 2006/11/09 22:26:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (qetzal @ Nov. 09 2006,20:15)
Consider. If it's true that some higher supernatural being or consciousness (e.g. God) exists, it's easy to him/her/it as the source of morality. Fair enough.

But what if there is no such being or consciousness? Where does morality come from then? Suppose philosophical materialism is right? Then morality can only be a result of some naturalistic process. In that case, evolution seems the logical candidate, no?

This is not meant to argue that philosophical materialism is, in fact, correct, or that morality must be the result of evolutionary processes. It's merely to show that it's a logical and reasonable possibility. And, if it's correct, then morality is most certainly subject to scientific evaluation, however laughable that seems to you.

But I have no doubt you'll come up with some convoluted defense of your statement, so you can hold on to your cherished self-image of open-mindedness. Mean time, I see no further point in engaging your comments.

Very true, this is actually a very serious question and I will treat it as such.  There are a number of scenarios that could be considered and I've heard or read many of them but all at the philosophical level of inquiry.

A problem you run into when you remove a higher authority as origin is the question of absolute morality.  Who then defines what is moral and at what time in human existence.  You naturally resolve into realitivism.  If you then want to apply scientific investigation at this point it gets murky and completely subjective.

I think it might be more accurate to define the scenarios thus:

A) If God exists then God could be the origin of moral law (I say could because this makes an assumption upon the nature of God).

B) If God doesn't exist then absolute moral law is nonexistent.

either way we are stuck because the primary premise, the existence of God, can not be proven.  So where do we go from here...

Date: 2006/11/09 22:30:59, Link
Author: skeptic
Jay Ray, I'd be careful using anecdotal evidence and plain old common sense around here.  You may not make any friends.  But I, for one, accept your ideas as valid possibilities.

Date: 2006/11/09 23:02:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ved @ Nov. 09 2006,12:11)
Can knowing any concerto, or literary work, or painting, or revelation be considered "better" than say, knowing what AIDS is?

I would submit, that knowing any concerto, literary work, etc allows you something greater than simply knowing what AIDs is, it allows you to cure AIDs (or at least try).

Just to be honest, there was a time when I felt all those squishy humanities courses were pretty worthless, now I tend to think that they train and stretch the imagination and teach you another way of thinking.

Just a thought, and as a side I'd have to say that sidelining in this thread is quite entertaining.  Some of these exchanges are priceless.  Also, GoP I perked up my ears when you hinted at a chem-heavy thread.  I'd be interested to see where you go with that, especially in light of the opposing expertise.

Date: 2006/11/10 06:49:02, Link
Author: skeptic
No, no, no, Jay Ray don't hold back.  Ideas come from all quarters and often truely original ideas come from where you least expect them.  You post to your heart's content and anyone who has a problem with that will just have to remember that this is a public board.

Date: 2006/11/20 23:13:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Piltdown was not old science.  It was a hoax perpetrated with the sole intent of proping up a theory under attack.  Piltdown was believed because it was exactly what was predicted at the time and therefore accepted in full.  It is only in retrospect that we can see the inaccuracies in this prediction but at the time it was fully embraced.

Date: 2006/11/21 07:18:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks Deadman, excellent coverage of the topic although I sincerely hope it didn't keep you up too late.

Dave, if you want to examine the differences between real scientists read the latest issue of Time featuring the debate between Dawkins and Collins.  In it you see a huge separation between scientists.  That is, of course, if you still consider Dawkins a scientist.  Either way you'll see that blanket statements like Russell used are way too general.

Date: 2006/11/21 17:00:50, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (afdave @ Nov. 21 2006,09:28)
Skeptic--  Yes, I know about Collins and Dawkins -- both good scientists I am sure when they stick to science.  I don't agree with either of their positions on Origins, of course, as I am a very convinced YEC.

Dave, is there any theological justification for this adherance  to YEC?  You do know that no where in Genesis is the age of the Earth mentioned?  The 6000 year age came much later from an Irish priest and makes assumptions that are not supported by the Bible much less modern science.  Is there any particular reason why this is so important to you because  you can disagree with darwinian evolution on other grounds.  I just ask because it seems like much time is wasted following this reasoning...

Date: 2006/11/21 19:54:39, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Russell @ Nov. 21 2006,17:21)
Ah! "Skeptic"! You're back. Perhaps you can clear up this confusion from this morning:  
["Skeptic":] Either way you'll see that blanket statements like Russell used are way too general.
[Russell:] and what "blanket statement" might you be referring to? Are you taking davy's word for what I said? If so, you sure are credulous for someone who styles himself "Skeptic"

Will your retraction and apology be forthcoming?

Yes, Russell.  I did try to respond this morning and I encountered server issues but I was going to retract that comment if it was indeed a misquote of yours.  I'll trust you to make that determination.  I do not have the time to go back and read all the posts on this thread.  I read the most current ones and that can get me in trouble but I have to accept that sometimes because you guys just move way too fast for me.

Date: 2006/11/21 22:32:27, Link
Author: skeptic
The age of the Earth is independant of evolutionary theory so to imply a conspiracy in which one is put forth to support the other may be in error.  To also deny this same of interdependance does not indicate a search for Truth.

Also, the Hebrew language is quite clear that God created all things in six literal, 24 hour days.

I don't believe this is true.  I've read many different translations of Genesis and none of them are explicit in the six literal days; which is not to say that this would be beyond the power of a Creator, but Genesis is not that detailed.  In fact, there are hints in the Hebrew that man existed originally in a lower form and only became human when God breathed spirit into them.  There are actually much more detailed Hebrew writings than those found in the christian Bible concerning Adam and Eve and early humanity.  I think to look too deeply into one text at the expense of all we know or think we know misinterprets the purpose of the Bible.  It is not a science text; it does not contain the totality of human knowledge.  The Bible addresses what it means to be human not what humans are, if you get my meaning.

Date: 2006/11/22 07:40:16, Link
Author: skeptic
BWE, I was going to point this out to you last night but I was too tired.  Any discussion of the United States as a Christian nation invovles Bradford and the reasons the puritans came over as well as the role of religion in their success.  Ultimately, this question always cirlces back to "How can you accept the fundamental rights without a higher authority (God) to grant those rights"?  I believe from this point there is no resolution between the two sides.  Either you believe in God and "we are endowed by our Creator" or you don't and take a humanist view to the granting of equal rights.  There's no middle ground between these two world views and discussions with undoubtably degenerate from the onset.

Date: 2006/11/22 17:00:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Kristine, you certainly add a completely different dimension to these discussions.

Date: 2006/11/26 15:38:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I hate to say it my good man but this is the biggest load of crap that I've read in a long time.  You respect religious people just as long as they're not religious and they don't have religious beliefs!!!  What utter arrogance!  So now you need thought police in science classes to determine not only what students can regurgitate but also what they think?  All in the name of reason and logic?  Well, my friend, you've fallen in the same trap that Dawkins finds himself.  Reason and logic are not sufficient to answers matters of faith.

The evangelistic atheist not only expresses his lack of belief but also wishes to convert others and in that way he's just another fundamentalist.  Dawkins is not a scientist anymore he's a high priest and he has many acolytes on these boards.  He believes that all religion is a delusion and dangerous.  There's no misinterpretation.  He's just gone one step farther than you, Louis, he has the courage to admit it.

Most of the time I spend on this board I'm amused at the banter and occasional wit but it's discussions such as these that burn me.  So to settle this once and for all and allow us all to get back to our less hostile dialogue, Louis using reason and logic prove to me that God does not exist!

Date: 2006/11/26 16:25:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,15:52)

I think if you knew the first thing about Dawkins or his writings and opinions you'd know full well he isn't about converting anyone, and neither am I. That Strawkins bloke's a bugger though. When I give half a shit about the opinion of someone, like you, who can neither read for comprehension nor reason their way out of a wet paper bag, I'll let you know. Until then, hush now child. Grown ups are talking.


P.S. Oh yeah, logic and reason prove god doesn't exist? When the gibbering fuck has anyone claimed that? You can't prove a negative for starters. Add to that the simple fact that as a theist (i.e. proponent of a specifc positive claim) the burden of proof rests on your shoulder, and we see yet again another dishonest theistic attempt to shift the burden of proof away from where it belongs. Wake up and smell your unselfcritical cognitive dissonance.

Wrong, Dawkins doesn't write a book claiming that God is a delusion because he has no aspirations about converting others to his point of view.  Watch his debate with Collins and you'll see his hostility on display.  You're in denial.

The burden of proof does not rest upon me because I make no claims.  You, on the other hand, are flaunting your atheistic beliefs and waving them in the face of religious people as evidence of your superiority and I say that is unfounded.  Prove to me that there is no God and then you can make these statements and tell us how stupid believers are.  Otherwise, you're just talking nonsense.

Date: 2006/11/26 16:43:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 26 2006,16:28)
After that, alas, he just goes right back into "fundie mode" and becomes just as intolerant and priest-y as every OTHER fundie is.  (shrug)

I'm not sure what you're referring to here.

Ah, I see.  Sometimes I only get one line of a post, slow server I guess.

Anyway, before I am mischaracterized too much.  I accept no support for religion from science nor do I believe that science can make claims about religion.  Gould and I are of one mind on this topic, religion and science exist in two completely incompatible spheres of human knowledge.

I've always been amused that because I have problems with ToE it has been widely assumed that I'm a religious fundamentalists trying to push my religion beliefs on young school children.  No one of any education and rational thought could possibly disagree with ToE, right?  Dawkins makes a very similar statement when he assumes that proper education of children in logic and rational thought would do any with these superstitions called religion.  Kristine, I think I recall the quote you're referring to but what Dawkins recoils from is the forced instruction of children.  He still believes that the result of such instruction would be non-religious communities and in his eyes that is an improvement.

Date: 2006/11/26 17:00:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,16:45)
Reason is anathema to faith. Period. End of story. Does that mean that people cannot use both? No. Does that mean that people with faith are not reasonable, cannot use reason or are dumb? No. What it does mean is that the process of reason directly contradicts ideas based on faith alone. Is this a problem? No, not really, and at the same time, yes. It depends how we act (and this is where the other aspect of this pointless scrap comes in).

This is the nonsense that I'm talking about.  How does Reason have anything at all to say about God?  You have no credibility with statements such as this unless you can back it up and I tell you right now that you can not.  Greater minds than yours or mine have struggled with it for centuries and have come up empty.  But feel free to try...

Date: 2006/11/26 17:15:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I'm reading what you've written and hearing what you've said and you're talking out of both sides of your mouth.  Maybe you don't even know you're doing it.  A comment about the scientific basis of the God hypothesis really demonstrates your lack of understanding.

As for Dawkins, I think you just see what you want to.

Date: 2006/11/26 17:49:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,17:24)
P.S. Skeptic. Wow you really do exhibit a whole world of dumb don't you? Reason has nothing to say about god does it? Ok then, which god? If I claim that my god is a pink elephant named Cyril sat in my lap and has attributes A, B and C and no such attributes are detected, what does that say about Cyril? Does it say he doesn't exist? Nope. Does it say he is highly unlikely to exist based on the given definition of him? Yup. See the distinction? I doubt it. Icthyic is right, you ARE an obliviot. ONE single god concept has not been proposed. Humanity has come up with myriad god concepts with myriad attributes. To date not a single solitary one of those claims has EVER stood up to scrutiny. This says nothing about the existance of all possible gods, but it says something about the existance of those specific gods. If you wish to believe in an as yet untested (or perhaps untestable) god concept then go right ahead with my blessing. Just don't claim it's based on reason because it isn't and have the humility to appreciate that your belief is as valid as anyone else's lack of belief or different, equally unsupported/unsupportable belief. Also I note you have not refuted, rebutted or dealt in any way with ONE single point I have made. You've merely been resorting to abuse. So fragile your petty little faith is. You have both my contempt and my pity.

Assessing the existence of God using scientific means is about as useful as measuring the speed of a bowling ball with a slingshot.  The fact that you keep referencing no valid scientific proof is a sign of your limitations.  

Just a quick lesson for you, science is based upon human knowledge and human knowledge is limited by our senses and experience.  Faith relies upon something beyond our senses and experience.  So how do we measure, observe or test something beyond the reaches of our science?  While you're working on that one consider these?

Was Christ resurrected?
Did Mohammad take the Midnight Ride?
Did Moses part the Red Sea?

Human knowledge tells me that those events (in general) are not possible but did those specific events happen?  No answer to that one, huh?  Are those events mutually exclusive?  That's a tough one too.  What is are three of those are false, does that have any impact upon the existence of God?

The problem is these questions are beyond you.  You have decided that there is no God because you can not measure him.  The problem is you lack the instruments to make that measurement.

So you want to fail students who take biology courses but continue to believe in creation.  So at the completion of an examination of biology students should convert to atheism or fail?  That is what you are saying whether you know it or not.  Pity and contempt, huh?  Now I'm amused again.

Date: 2006/11/26 18:00:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, excellent post.  I couldn't agree more.  The only times I get really offended is when individuals attempt to use science for their own agenda.  With that, I will resign and let greater minds continue this discussion.

Date: 2006/11/26 18:30:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,18:07)

This shows just how much you simply don't get anything I've said:

at the completion of an examination of biology students should convert to atheism or fail? That is what you are saying whether you know it or not

No no no no no no no no no no no. The opposite of creationism is not atheism. Creationism is a specific set of claims based on a specific religious belief (not all religious people are creationists, all creationists are religious). They are real world claims about the mechanisms and operation of the universe. They are claims that are open to falsification on the basis of evidence. They have also already been falsified. The world, for example, is not 6000 years old, based on the available evidence. If a student's understanding of biology is so poor at the end of X amount of time's study that they consider the creationist claims as valid as those advanced and supported by scientific evidence then they are not doing science at all. Therefore they have failed any scientific undertaking based in that field. They may be excellent engineers, physicists mathematicians or whatever, but they are not excellent biologists, they are failed biologists. They can believe in as many and as varied a series of gods as they like, but to hold to specific creationist ideas in the face of the overwhelming evidence is NOT SCIENCE. Get it? Again I doubt it.

As for Moses, Muhammed, and Jesus' antics, no, as far as can be told they never happened, nor is there any good or rational reason to expect they did. They are stories in an old book and the only reason people choose to beleive them to be true is that they are tied in with a whole swathe of other beliefs.

As for your gross misunderstanding of my point (AGAIN) no I am not saying that god doesn't exist because I can't measure it. I am saying that when anyone has proposed a god it has in some fashion been measurable. When such things have been measured they have been found to be non existant. I notice you skipped over Cyril. Naughty naughty. If someone proposes a god that is utterly unmeasurable in any sense, then how is that a) different from total fantasy and on what basis, and b) any more real than any other unmeasurable proposition.

Forgive me if I tire rapidly of trying to educate you in the very basics of epistemology.


It's like gravity in here...

Anyway, all religious people are essentially creationists as some God or another is the First Cause.  YECs are a specific case which by inference you associate with all religious people.

The three events I mentioned you say never happened.  How do you know?  Is it because there is no evidence to support the occurance of these events?  Are you sure?  It is more accurate to say that you do not know if these events happened than to say that these events did not happen unless you are proven otherwise.  Do you understand the difference?

As for your little monkey, again there is no relation between your monkey and the existence of God.  A, B, and C may all be proven wrong and you might admit that you made him up and still that has no relavance in this discussion.  You comment about epistemology and yet you demonstrate no understanding of the study.

God, the First Cause, Supreme Being, etc are beyond measure, utterly unmeasurable as you say.  That may be offensive to you but your denial doesn't change it.  The basis of belief is not testable so to invoke science as proof is foolish.  You will continue to look foolish as long as you do so.

Date: 2006/11/26 18:40:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 26 2006,18:26)
The rational, reasoned, scientific evidence simply doesn't show the existance of god or gods. End of story. It might do so tomorrow, but it doesn't today. This DOES NOT MEAN THAT GOD(S) DO NOT EXIST. (I'm saying this out loud for Skeptic's benefit, I know you already know this). This simply means that there is no rational (technical meaning, NOT colloquial meaning), reasoned (technical meaning, NOT colloquial meaning) scientific basis for accepting the veracity of the god hypothesis.

One can accept the veracity of the god hypothesis on a number of other bases, just not a scientific or rational (TECHNICAL!!!! ) one. The Chamberlain camp want to hide the fact that, if one follows the available scientific evidence, then there is no scientific reason to accept the god hypothesis, because they think this scares off the fragile little theists. Personally I think this is wrong, I think the theists are made of sterner stuff, and I think that the whole point of religious faith is that it isn't based on a rational (technical!!!! Have I made this point clearly enough yet?) assessment of the available evidence.

I guess you just fail to understand what you are saying.  Scientific evidence has standing in the discussion of the existance of God.  It is not even a valid statement.  Think of using a thermometer to measure rainfall.  It is an error to say that it didn't rain because the mercury didn't move.  You can yell all you like but you're still missing the point.

Date: 2006/11/26 20:31:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, I agree but I'm inclined to also agree with an earlier post, Lenny I believe, that this dicotomy is not confined just to religion.  Is it possible for Marxism and Capitalism to peacably coexist?  

Any time a person takes a stand on an issue they eliminate other choices as possibilities.  If I say McDonald's has the best fries then it becomes impossible for Wendy's or Burger King to have the best fries, in this worldview.  

It could be more a consequence of human nature than religion.

Date: 2006/11/26 21:55:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Eric, you're standing on the edge of a slippery slope.  You question the judgement of people who believe in God?  Why, because you do not?  You are opposed to religion being forced upon and yet you set yourself up to commit the very same sin by evaluating people for beliefs that differ from your own.  Now is it religion or human nature?  (I guess it depends upon whether you believe atheism is religion)

Earlier it was asked that if you removed religion would something else step to be just as divisive.  I'm inclined to think so but then I think it would ultimately be called religion, if you get my meaning.  The eternal question is a pretty big question and I think it will always dominate human thought.  Not a pretty outlook for the evangelical, militant atheists, huh?

Date: 2006/11/26 22:39:52, Link
Author: skeptic
It seems as if both extremes overstep themselves.  After the removal of school prayer I guess the atheists thought The Pledge and "In God We Trust".  Maybe ID was the creationists attempt to get a little back.  Both instances are flawed for the same reason.  The vast majority of the public do not accept either premise.  Society as a whole does not bend over backwards to accept The Pledge and "In God we Trust", they are the norm and unthreatening.  Equally, society as a whole isn't threatened by evolution in science class.  They may not fully accept or understand the theory but within the scope of science education it is the norm also.  Thus there are no real popular movements to change either.

Maybe we're entering a phase where the shrill extremes alienate themselves and moderation and tolerance surfaces as the prevailing modes of thought.  Boy, I really stepped fully into fantasy there, didn't I?

Date: 2006/11/27 06:57:07, Link
Author: skeptic griggsy
In the name of preserving morality, these people, in effect ,lie! And they misunderstand evolution period.

Date: 2006/11/27 07:28:29, Link
Author: skeptic griggsy
On arguments for God, Collins, Alister McGrath, Francisco Ayala and Kenneth Miller show incompetence ; on evolution they show competence . Faith leads them astray. :)    :angry:

Date: 2006/11/27 07:54:30, Link
Author: skeptic griggsy
Theistic evolution is an oxymoron, because it conflates natural selection [causalism] and telology .As Dr. Weisz notes:"End states are consequences, not foregone conclusions." Before that he notes""Causalism denies foreknowledge of terminal states,preordination,purposes ,goals and fixed fates." Therefore , there is an contradiction between causalism and telology such that theistic evolution is just obscurantism . Now to obviate that contradiction, theists such as Russell Stannard propose a two category classificatin of origins[ natural selection] or contingency and creation[teleoligy- God] or necessary being; but as Malcolm Diamond and Kai Nielsen note in their philosophy of religion books , that is a circular argument. Causalism does not need a divine intruder to work. That is just god of the gaps! :)    :angry:  :O

Date: 2006/11/27 08:24:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Nov. 27 2006,01:44)
Fuck it. You all can think me as nasty as you like, but the sheer level of dumb being exhibited by Skeptic and others borders of the amazing.

Find me ONE example of where I have claimed all religious people are stupid.

Find me ONE example of where I have said religious people are not entitled to believe as they will.

Find me ONE example of where I have said that no god at all exists, absolutely, certainly in every sense of the word.

Find me ONE example of where I have said we should cast out the evil religionists from our midst and have nothing to do with them in the fight against fundies.

Louis, go back and read your opening posts and tell me that you're not talking about religious people as a whole.  If you're only discussing the tiny minority of YECs then there is no point whatsoever to this entire post.  Do you advocate altering biology courses to weed-out the vast minority?  No, I believe, as I stated, that you share the thoughts of Dawkins but you don't want to appear rude or intolerant.

He does and I assume by inference that PZ, whomever that is, comes off the same way.  Not only do they appear rude but also foolish.  Dawkins' comment that evolution allowed him to be an intellectually honest atheist is a perfect example of this kind of nonsense.

You may join him and believe that science justifies your beliefs but in doing so you are the same as ID advocates.  ID is nothing more than The Argument from Design v2.0 and has no standing in scientific discussions and likewise science has no standing in discussions of faith.  To invoke either one in these cases is invalid.

So back to your original idea, to advocate the failure of students based upon their religious beliefs because they are somehow incompatible with the study of science is foolish.  The one has nothing to do with the other.  And again if, as you say, you're only focusing on that tiny minority then you're idea is unnecessary, if not impractical.

Consider this, if a test question asks "How old is the Earth?", and the student answers 6,000 years then he got the question wrong and will suffer the consequences through his grade lowering.  If the student answers, "current theory states that the Earth is 6.5 billion years old", do you then question whether or not the student actually believes that the Earth is 6.5 billion years old and mark that question wrong if your instincts tell you he is actually a YEC in disguise?  Impractical and it really amounts to an attack on religious people whether you realize it or not.

You can say what you like about me (and most of it is dead wrong) but I will continue to point out invalid statements, intentional or otherwise.  Dawkins is attempting to create an atmosphere in which it is ok for scientists to look down on religious people because they are delusional.  Whether they are or not is open for debate but one thing is certain, science cannot be used as evidence in that debate.

Date: 2006/11/27 16:48:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, good post I must say but I need some clarification.  I'm not in on the internal grumblings as I don't read these other sites.  Maybe I should but I honestly don't have the time.

So for better understanding, would Gould be a moderate or extreme member of the Chamberlin group?

How can Dawkins not be an extreme member of the EA group?  Are there others like him more extreme?

To address you and Ved, you might consider Outspoken Atheist to EA.  Evangelical implies not only outspoken and unashamed but also compelled to convert unbelievers.  Think of the Great Commission and the purpose not only spread the word but make believers of all people.

Also, you say that science = atheism is a misinterpretation but it appears that the prevailing message is science = reason = atheism.  Maybe there are multiple messages being sent here but your example of failing students can certainly be interpreted in this vein.

Faith is irrational and reason is purely rational.  I have no problem here but I take it one step further and call for a complete Wall of Separation between rational and irrational.  My problem is when rational is used to assess the irrational to declare false conclusions.  I'm going to assume from your characterization that this is the realm of the extreme EA.  If this is the case then I'm in full agreement with Lenny.  Such stances do infinitely more harm then good.  I would put myself in the extreme wing of the Chamberlin group but not to placate religious allies.  Its just a matter of principle for me.  It is invalid to justify atheistic beliefs (that better Ved?) using scientific methods.

So that being said, I'm ready to offer you the benefit of the doubt.  Could you please explain to me how failing students based upon YEC belief is practical or not an attack on religion.  Or were you just using that example as a gross exaggeration (that would make more sense)?

Date: 2006/11/27 16:59:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Christopher, just as an explanation, it should not be surprising what Bush I & II have said.  A traditional interpretation of christianity says only believers (that and 144,000 jews, of course) will go to heaven.  Kinda harsh but that's not even an extreme belief.  As far as atheists being evil that's not a great step either if you take for granted that everything not of God belongs to the Devil whether intentional or not.  Remember the Salem Witch trials.  These aren't really radical beliefs, they're more of traditional doctrine.

Date: 2006/11/27 20:26:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, eloquent and very nearly poetic.  Thank you for that post.  I remember many a night in those pre-teen years lying awake and staring at the ceiling trying to wrap my brain around the concept of eternity.  Rite of passage, huh?

Lenny, wouldn't the various Inquisitions demonstrate the Christian view of the pagan unbelievers?  They certainly occurred before 1910.  Maybe I was using the "traditional" term incorrectly.

Date: 2006/11/27 20:55:03, Link
Author: skeptic
I fear that the question as to whether or not rational thought does equal atheism is what is currently up for grabs, if I am finally understanding Louis correctly.  But it is funny how the extremes, and I would say the minorities, are by far the loudest and most influential in popular thought.

Date: 2006/11/27 22:49:21, Link
Author: skeptic
I guess I should set the record straight for MCC, Lenny and all other confused individuals.  I'm not a religious fundamentalist by any objective definition.  I know that's hard to imagine anyone questioning ToE not from a religious agenda but it is the unfortunate truth.  If I remember right my references to school prayer and the pledge of allegiance were made in the broader context of the current conflict between religion and atheism and not the advocation thereof.

Date: 2006/11/28 07:11:44, Link
Author: skeptic
Hey Ichy, welcome back from vacation.  It is good to see your smiling face again.

Date: 2006/11/28 17:34:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Nov. 28 2006,07:23)
Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 27 2006,22:49)
I'm not a religious fundamentalist by any objective definition.

Five simple questions for you, Skeptic :

1.  Is the Bible wrong about anything?
2.  Was Jesus born of a virgin?
3.  Is faith in Jesus necessary for salvation?
4.  Did Jesus rise from the dead?
5.  Is Jesus going to return sometime in the future?

Answer as clearly and specifically as possible.

Interesting set of questions and I could answer them many different ways depending upon the intent but I'm going to try to answer them in the spirit that I believe you are asking:

1)  I think it would be a virtual impossibility for the Bible to be inerrant; although, I'm not aware of specific instances.  It essentially is a book written by men so for me that eliminates any possibility of perfection.

2) Don't know.  It tests believability and maybe that's the point but I don't really have any opinion one way or the other.  As a side note, I think I heard once of very rare cases of self-fertilization (which would result in a female if I remember correctly).

3) Again, I don't know.  I'd like to think not but I know what is taught.  That's a sticking point for me...

4) Ditto, for Jesus to be the Savior and Christianity to be true then it would have to be so.  So can a human being rise from the dead, not that I know of.  Does this mean Jesus did not?  No.

5) Same thing again, it would have to be true or all else is meaningless.  I remember a lecture on comparitive religion once in which the speaker was offerring the options of accepting Jesus as the son of God or just a really wise teacher.  He laughed and said that the choice didn't actually exist because either Jesus was the son of God or he was a raving lunatic.  I concur completely.

So where does that leave me?  I can accept that from a rational perspective these things defy possibility and they should otherwise there is no requirement for faith.

Date: 2006/11/28 18:52:20, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (skeptic @ Nov. 28 2006,17:34)
So where does that leave me?

It leaves you a fundie with shaky faith.

Really?  I wouldn't have guessed that, especially the shaky faith part.  I expected the "fundie" label no matter how I answered the questions.  I guess I'll have to get me a copy of this document and see for myself.

Date: 2006/11/28 23:11:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, I believe my respect for you may have broadened.  Did you read this entire set of books?  If so then I would have to say, based upon your beliefs as you've described yourself, that you may be the most tolerant of all men.

For all those interested here's a link (which I assume to be an accurate reproduction, but who knows it is the web):

The Fundamentals of Faith

Of course, there's no way I've even scratched the surface yet so I'm not about to say you're wrong in your characterization of me but I see a lot here that I cannot accept.  There's a consistent theme of literalism that I completely disagree with.  Additionally, there's much extrapolation directly from that literalism.  I think this alone may exclude me from the majority of these conclusions.

After reading a few of these chapters I also identify another theme and that is the distinction between knowing and believing.  For example, when you asked if Jesus was resurrected I phrase my response on the basis of belief not knowledge.  I may believe that Jesus was resurrected but I do not know this to be true.  Futhermore, I do not think that it is possible to know the answer to this question.  In order to know the answer we would have to be able to subject the question to rational examination and we cannot.  In the writings of these authors I read statements of knowledge and not belief.  These statements I concretely disagree with because I do not believe them to be valid.

If I'm not expressing myself adequately you may be thinking that this is nothing more than semantics but it goes much deeper than that on a more fundamental level (no pun intended).  I will continue to read to see if you are correct and it is also very interesting from a historical perspective to see the views at the turn of the century and contrast (or more rightly compare) them to the views held today.

Date: 2006/11/28 23:33:32, Link
Author: skeptic
k.e., I think that last post would make Mike Richards proud but for rational people it's not even good comedy.

Date: 2006/11/28 23:41:07, Link
Author: skeptic
They're not "for" anything.  There's no way to test for the designer so they have to be content to disprove ToE as evidence of design.  The thing that really confuses me given the fact that some of these people are actually intelligent individuals is that even if they bring down ToE which must be done using scientific methods they're still no closer to proving the existence of a designer which cannot be done using scientific methods (or at all).  You'd think they would at least be able to see that even if the did disagree with ToE.  That, to me, is what stinks so much of "agenda".

Date: 2006/11/29 20:18:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Sounds like a perfectly orchestrated cover to me, maybe she's KGB.  If so look out for the polonium!

Date: 2006/11/29 20:23:57, Link
Author: skeptic
GoP, I know this is a stupid question but how can the alien possibly discover that his universe does not support life?  If that is indeed the case he doesn't exist.  

Sorry for the injection, just trying to follow along.

Date: 2006/11/30 07:56:57, Link
Author: skeptic
me thnks she doth protest too much  :D

Date: 2006/11/30 21:55:50, Link
Author: skeptic
I had intended on posting my thoughts concerning the science vs. religion conflict and how in the end it all becomes meaningless on both extremes but the departure of Lenny seems to me to signify the unofficial official end of this thread so i'll just save those thoughts for some future date.  Something was telling me not to stick my head in the hornet's nest and apparently that will not happen.

Best of luck Lenny; I've become too jaded by politicians to ever believe any of them will remember what democracy means but I wish you the best.

Date: 2006/12/01 22:04:24, Link
Author: skeptic
I've always found it fascinating in hindsight how interwoven individual events are with our present (and future for that matter).  I was reading a Time (or Newsweek, I forget which) which had a little expose on the Clinton's.  It showed a picture of the two of them at Yale, the stereotypical hippie look.  To look back now and see how much Vietnam affected him and his attitude towards the military and how that carried forward in policy.  I guess it may have been inevitable when that generation reached professional maturity but who can say.

I wouldn't mind taking a peek at you're new project when completed.  I know we're vastly opposed in political leanings but that doesn't mean I don't find the other side interesting.  And just to ease your mind, I would never advocate tear-gassing you but I had always assumed that a night in jail was the rite of passage for any self-respecting marxist.

Date: 2006/12/02 07:36:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Not to ruin the surprise, but do you feel he's laid any lasting groundwork?  In light of the recent elections and only two years left in office (with no designated heir) doesn't it seems like its all been for naught at this point (especially if we look back say five or ten years from now)?

Date: 2006/12/02 08:13:47, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ Dec. 02 2006,00:14)
I had always assumed that a night in jail was the rite of passage for any self-respecting marxist.

maybe someday, something you read here will actually rub off on you and you will actually research something rather than go on your blithe assumptions?


Ichy, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were trolling.  Say it isn't so!

Date: 2006/12/02 09:11:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Let me put my rose colored glasses on for a moment...

Ok, about dominating the world economically.  I don't think it is in the best interest to dominate or even necessary.  I would say that American and World interest coincide with open markets and environments conducive fair and free trade.  This may come down to semantics since you view it as a marxist and I as a capitalist.

I would say the same for oil.  There'e no direct need for the US to dominate the market just to insure that supply remains available for not only the US but the World (imagine the mayhem that would occur if there were supply disruptions for China).  I would agree that in the present environment it may be only military influence that can keep the pumps running.  Whether or not the situation is a product of US policy is at this time irrelevant.  It could be both our fault and still the necessary course of action at this time.  That's another debate for another time.

As you said, the Democrats are already back tracking but I'll agree that the difference between republicans and democrats is largely window-dressing except on issues of no consequence.

As far as the future of US policy there is a cycle that we're caught up in.  The World perpetuates the US super-power role by relying on the US for so much.  Regardless how much talk occurs about breaking the US dominance the need still remains and we are a necessary "evil" to much of the world.

Date: 2006/12/02 20:11:03, Link
Author: skeptic
The US Navy operates the greatest number of nuclear reactors on the planet and they are also the most successful operators.  Obviously it is not feasable to run a nuclear-powered jet.  Still we have to be fair a give credit where credit is due.

Date: 2006/12/02 22:57:37, Link
Author: skeptic
In the simplest terms the World relies on US money and international law has no meaning to the US, or it shouldn't but our Supreme Court failed to get that memo.

Date: 2006/12/04 07:58:35, Link
Author: skeptic
I forgot we were talking about "that" United States.  The cancer of modern civilization, murderer of millions, parasite of the global economy, destroyer of worlds...

Yeah, I got a little confused there.

But I'll offer one note.  There's this little thing called credibility and in order to have it you've got to be honest (intellectually at least).  There's plenty of things to fairly criticize the US about and there are plenty of aspects that should be applauded (or at least acknowledged as good).

Stephan highlights a good point.  The US is the destination of millions and some are literally dying to get here.  Someone's going to have to tell them they've lied too and the US is just the world's cesspool.

On a final note, as so often happens on this board, people make unfounded assumptions about things they can have no way of knowing.  Then they look foolish.  To that end, I have traveled extensively around the world and lived outside the US in a third world country for many years.  I can actually make an informed comparison of the US to other countries.  I'm sure that really doesn't matter to most here so let the mantra continue.

Date: 2006/12/04 09:10:47, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (stevestory @ Dec. 03 2006,13:52)
Phil Johnson - retired lawyer
Behe - onetime biochemist
Dembski - Professor of Thumpology, Southwest Baptist Collige of Book Larnins
Wells - cultist pop author
Meyer - philosopher
Nelson - YEC philosopher
Pearcey - stay at home mom?
Gonzalez - astronomer
Richards - uh bagger at Food Lion? philosopher I think.
O'Leary - 4th rate journalist

real 'hard math and science' club you got there.

just a clarification, Behe is still employed and earning a paycheck (Professor of Biochemistry, Lehigh University), so the "onetime" biochemist label is a bit premature.

I think he prefers "heretic biochemist", if I remember correctly.

Date: 2006/12/04 15:56:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, Stephen (for the misspelling also), I must have missed the question.  What were you asking?

Date: 2006/12/04 17:28:06, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, welcome back.  The conversation diverged somewhat but has stayed lively.

Date: 2006/12/04 18:37:27, Link
Author: skeptic
In general, the laws of a nation should apply only to it's citizen's and no other nation's laws should also apply.  I can think of one exception and that is the European Union (but I don't believe that the Constitution has been fully ratified yet, someone correct me on that if I'm wrong) which I believe was intentionally designed for shared soverignty, so to speak.

So, no, in my opinion the US doesn't get to thumb their noses at the rest of the world because they can.  All nations should have complete and total jusidiction over it's citizens.

Date: 2006/12/04 20:11:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ Dec. 04 2006,19:11)
hmm, how do you score on this poll, i wonder:

I scored a 34%, which is good?  Actually I left quite a few unanswered.  All and all it was pretty mindless.

Date: 2006/12/06 19:27:39, Link
Author: skeptic
Wow, go out of town for a few days and a thread goes wild.  While there are many interesting lines of thought here, I like SF suggestion.  So on the topic of science and religion, speaking as one with a foot in both worlds, for the vast majority of people I deal with on a daily basis (forgive the anecdotal quality) there is no real conflict and one does not have much impact on the other.

In short, people have more important things going on in their lives then the contemplation of abstract ideas that have little or no practical impact on their everyday lives.  The scientists continue their work and some even go to church (temple, etc) on Sundays, gasp!  The religious take very much of the science and technology of their daily routine for granted and also go to church (temple) on Sundays.  The extremes will always be the extremes and will always find something to fight about.  Inevitably, this debate is ignored until single issues throw out in to the mainstream for a time and then it recedes again.  Currently, I think the two hot button issues are abortion and stem cell research.  Our particular topic of interest has largely been settled, as Lenny declares and I agree, in the science religion frame of reference even though the extremes will never declare victory or defeat.


Date: 2006/12/06 20:56:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, you are so predictable. You're just boring.

Date: 2006/12/06 23:26:09, Link
Author: skeptic
actually, I didn't really give them a second thought.  I prefer not to waste my time.

Date: 2006/12/07 18:11:56, Link
Author: skeptic
two points, the vast majority of christians have no clue who Behe is and they probably think "Darwin's Black Box" is a perverted bumper sticker rather than a book.  Second, hard science doesn't have a practical impact on most people in daily life.  People just don't go around wondering how much we're going to learn about ourselves by sequencing the neanderthal genome.  They're concerned with going to work, paying the bills, raising their children, etc, etc.  On the christians short list of concerns evolutions still comes in pretty low behind abortion, stem cell research, sex and violence in the media, porn on the internet, drugs in schools, South Park, gay marriage, The Pledge of Alliegence, The Ten Commandments, nativity scenes, getting their heads cut of in Iraq, etc.  We tend to elevate this debate because we're involved and interested but most are more concerned with Britney's crotch and Tom and what's-her-name's baby.  Sad truth.

and Ichy, (sigh!;), I think you're seriously confused about how this internet thing works, or computers for that matter.  Whether or not I read these posts or choose to participate in no way compels you to read them, respond or even log on for that matter.  Also, because I choose to post a comment does not mean I've used up a finite slot and now someone else loses the opportunity to participate.  If you find yourself doing something you don't want to do or wasting your own time then you need to take responsibility for your own actions and exercise some free will.  Additionally, you might want to examine your motivations and try to understand why you feel forced to engage in a practise that you say you dislike.  Might be time to call a good therapist.

Date: 2006/12/07 18:42:05, Link
Author: skeptic
GoP, I heard a valid question even though the others missed it their hurry to be the first with a witty insult.

What is the status of abiogenesis?

The truth is it's no where at this point.  Louis is right in the sense that there are multitudes of possible mechanisms that can not be proven to have been involved but sure look interesting.

For me the big question still and always will remain how did the transition occur?

RNA -> protein -> DNA,
protein -> RNA -> DNA,
primitive molecule -> RNA, Protein -> DNA,
etc and so forth

The ability to produce precursors and amino acids or simple sugars in controled experiments get us no closer to understanding what really happened.  Maybe the best we can hope for is some potential scenarios that may give a comprehensive picture and to accept it and move on.  Certainly not very satisfing but it might be the only realistic solution.

Date: 2006/12/07 20:12:05, Link
Author: skeptic
SF, as an objective measure we could look at Behe's book sales and estimate from there.  I'll see of I can come up with that number.

Date: 2006/12/08 20:05:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I love seeing you in your element.  Here's something I ran across today that raises (I think) more questions than it answers.  Personally I love that!

RNA-Heredity Molecule?

By the way, I'd personally like to thank GoP for the thread.  I'd sortof forgotten about PNAs and after he brought it up I went back and did some reading last night.  Fascinating stuff.  I have some reservations but they actually apply to both RNA and PNA, as I've stated before I'm an advocate of "the protein world" but it's still great stuff.

Date: 2006/12/08 20:11:02, Link
Author: skeptic
BWE, you know there always been an unconscious (or conscious) attitude from chemists about biologists.  I remember well having to carry many biologists through organic as an undergrad and there was always the light-hearted banter associated with it.  But just to make you feel a bit better I'm sure the physicists felt the same about us chemists.  :D

Date: 2006/12/08 22:04:46, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not sure that TNAs actually reduce the complexity of the molecule to any great degree.  Maybe they provide a clue if there was incremental steps between primitive molecules and nucleic acids but I honestly don't know much about them so I can not really say.  My main sticking point is still, outside of the limited catalytic properties of RNA, the nucleic acids are still largely acted upon by enzymes.  This still makes the proteins a better candidate for the initial self-replicator, in my mind.

Date: 2006/12/09 10:38:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I don't have any problem with abiogenesis as a theory it just the specifics that I'd like to know more about.  I understand that RNA, DNA, proteins etc represent endpoints.  My problem (or more rightly, limitation) is that I have trouble conceiving of the primitive molecules and the transitions to get to where we are today.  That is why I thanked GoP because whether he is sincere or not a discussion insues and I have an opportunity to learn from others.  Case in point, the links you posted are greatly appreciated and gives me an opportunity to dig deeper.

Date: 2006/12/11 15:27:19, Link
Author: skeptic
I had a question for Deadman (or anyone else in the field) concerning this research.  Are they tying the mutations of the dutch and swedes to these groups and if so how does that affect the current migration theory, if at all?  Or is this a case of convergent evolution in not only the European and African groups but also among the Eastern African groups or is there any way to tell at this time?

Date: 2006/12/11 18:40:03, Link
Author: skeptic
my apologies Stevie, at first I thought you must have read a different article than I but after rereading I see that I just fuzzed out this morning.  Fighting a cold right now and that cold and flu medicine threw me for a loop.  Thanks for righting me.

Date: 2006/12/12 22:24:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks for the Cal State link, that's quite a load of info and all out of the chemistry department.  Who said science and philosophy can not coexist?

As a suggestion, you might want to point your students to the Reasons to Believe website.  As Lenny said ID in it's current form is dead but if I had to guess this site offers a preview of where the movement is going.  The message to the Christian is science is ok and compatible with your faith while at the same time telling the scientist that faith is no threat to the scientific method.  Just a guess on my part, someone can check the Vegas odds and we can start placing our bets now.

Date: 2006/12/15 15:37:46, Link
Author: skeptic
what about on my good days?

Date: 2006/12/15 23:11:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Personally, I prefer the harder science threads but as you rightly observed they get much less play from the board as a whole and there's much less argument because you really have to know what you're talking about to create any lasting discussion.  I, for one, will greatly enjoy reading the references provided and see if I have anything meaningful to add or offer.

Date: 2006/12/17 17:53:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, sorry to say it but when I initially scrolled through your kinetics lecture I thought GoP had posted here, lol.

Anyway, only had time for a quick scan but looks good.  Keep it up!

Date: 2006/12/17 22:24:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Dec. 17 2006,18:07)

You thought I was GoP? Ow that hurts. Any serious contributions or are you simply befouling the thread because you've been asked not to? A bit childish no? Smarmy faux compliments irritate me anyway.

Nothing so sinister.  I was scrolling through and I saw the pretty pictures and the long post and GoP popped into my head.  :D

A quick second look revealed the truth and I had a little chuckle which I thought I'd share with you.  No need to threaten censorship as you see.

Date: 2006/12/21 15:59:27, Link
Author: skeptic
I have to go out of my way to thank Louis once again for this thread, and I guess GoP for the original idea.  Here's my reading list for the holidays:

Aquagenesis - Ellis
Biocosm - Gardner
The Plausibility of Life - Kirschner and Gerhart
The Spark of Life - Wills and Bada
Independent Birth of Organisms - Senepathy

I'll check in after the holidays and add my comment of substance, til then Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakkah, Happy Boxing Day, Happy New Year and for our resident atheists Happy Anti-Christmas.

Talk to you all next year.

Date: 2006/12/23 23:23:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm going to make a plea (however useless it may be) and go further than Steve's suggestion.  Here we have a young man firm in his convictions and already under the assumption that an organized effort against religion is underway.  We have an opportunity to attack or teach and I submit that we take this choice very seriously.  By making an honest effort to teach the outcome is not determined and the end result of this exchange could be incredibly fruitful (on both sides, I might add).  If we attack then the assumption of conspiracy will be confirmed, the hostility of science towards religion reinforced, and the end result will acheive nothing of substance.  That's my two cents and I know what many here think of my two cents but I strongly suggest some consideration be given to this plea.

Welcome Mr. Magnuson, I hope you know what you're getting yourself into.

Date: 2006/12/24 01:28:16, Link
Author: skeptic
RJM, one thing to consider on the chirality of amino acids, L-aminos occur in eukaryotic organisms but D-aminos are evident in bacterial organisms.  One explanation for the dominance of one form or another in each case is the specific nature of the reactions that they are involved in.  The handedness of a molecule is a description of it's 3-d nature.  The reactions that occur in living organisms are facilitated by enzymes that have very specific reaction sites as far as 3-d structure is concerned.  Look up the enzyme theory of the key and lock if you're not already familiar with it.  It's not as if there is only one type of amino acid available it's just that only one type fits the lock for each group.  If anything this fact is more readily interpreted as evidence of common descent of eukaryotics and early divergence from a common ancestor shared with bacteria.  I realize this description is somewhat vague so please ask questions as there are a number of knowledgable chemists on this board that can address them, hopefully adequately, for you.

Date: 2006/12/24 07:33:58, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm sure we can consult Lenny on this one.  I've always been a little confused by labeling the extremes as either right-wing or left-wing.  Fascism bears no resemblance to any modern right-wing philosophy and Communism or Marxism is hardly progressive as is defined by modern left-wing politics.  

Now as far as evolution, the social darwinism movement was extended to explain or justify the capltalist system but even then became politically incorrect with it's diversion into eugenics and the like.  This became more a philosphy of elitists on both sides than the sole property of either politcal persuasion.  

My opinion, I'm sure Lenny and others with have a starkly different opinion but given the Christmas Spirit, I'm inclined to give everybody (both left and right) a pass. Ho Ho Ho.

Date: 2006/12/24 08:51:10, Link
Author: skeptic
I told you I'm in the Christmas spirit.

Date: 2006/12/25 23:24:07, Link
Author: skeptic
All this discussion of income tax reminded me that a federal income tax was not established by the Constitution and the Libertarian party have been discussing tax reform and abolishment of the federal income tax for years.  From a historical perspective it's not such a radical idea.  Here's a link that briefly outlines the federal income tax and it's history for those that are interested.

Federal Income Tax

Date: 2006/12/25 23:38:40, Link
Author: skeptic
My holiday reading is raising more questions than it answers, which is fantastic, but I have one in particular that I keep coming back to.  I'm not sure if it falls under evolutionary biology, genetics or molecular biology but given the diversity on this board I think we've got them all covered.

My question relates to conserved genes and specifically those that are conserved in vastly different species.  Is it the commonly held assumption that these genes are just remnants that are not expressed or are they actually active genes?  I'm thinking in terms of a conserved gene similar in both single-celled organisms and higher mammals.  Would they just be latent in the mammal or are they actually expressed and participate in some basic process?  I know generalities aren't very useful but I'm just trying to get some idea if there are any trends in these cases or a consenses of thought on conserved genes.

Date: 2006/12/26 10:24:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Bing @ Dec. 26 2006,09:22)
Has anyone else notice that the young Master Maggy has only posted once on this thread to announce his arrival, and that the rest of the posts are by the usual suspects?

I'm not really surprised.  I don't think we could have honestly expected a 15 year old to wade into this.  Plus, if he really wanted an honest discussion he would have had to been ready to sincerely question his assumptions.  I'm not sure anyone at 15 is prepared to do that.

Date: 2006/12/26 21:11:00, Link
Author: skeptic
So essentially we're looking at a "Why reinventing the wheel" scenario?  Something that troubles me is that all the differences would then be improvements of original genes without much actual innovation.  I'm sure this must be the general case and exceptions exist.  Whatever the case I surely plan on looking into this more.

Date: 2006/12/26 21:19:21, Link
Author: skeptic
I don't think income tax is illegal but it's not a given either.  There are certainly other options some of which may or may not be better.  I'm not so opposed to a consumption tax but when broadly applied I'm not sure how fair it becomes.  I guess I would assume I'm like most people and oppose taxes just on general principle.  One thing I would change though is withholding.  It appears that more than convenience it's purpose is to lull the taxpayer into a complacent attitude.  People pay less and less attention to tax policy because it's taken care-of for them and government gains more and more opportunities to raise taxes because no one is minding the store.

Date: 2006/12/27 08:00:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (tiredofthesos @ Dec. 26 2006,23:47)
 You have a unique ability, shown yet again on this thread.
 Whenever your opinions - and you never post anything else, really (which is fine, but I and perhaps others wish you would stop the pretense that anything else is there) - even threaten to become "reasonable" I am immediately convinced that there must be something essentially wrong with my current way of viewing the question, while holding in reserve the slim possibility of coincidence (of the "even a broken clock" type).
 Perhaps you really  mean no harm, but it ain't enough. No siree!

 That's a very, very narrow, if mostly harmless, mind you have. :(

I'm not sure what you mean here.  Yes, this is my opinion as I was responding to Russell's question about my opinion, unless I misunderstood his question.  I would say that 99% of everything on this board is opinion.  There's certainly data to support these opinions but I would assume that's how peoples' opinions are formulated.  I'm also not sure what I said that you took to be narrow-minded.  It was such a small post but if you could point it out to me I would appreciate that.

Date: 2006/12/27 18:22:37, Link
Author: skeptic
I am surprised that intelligent people comtinue to fall for the "cutting taxes on the richest" lie

Date: 2006/12/27 20:29:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Chapman 08 @ Dec. 27 2006,19:44)
My current position is that there are a number of things which the Evolutionary presupposition has failed to explain.  The LH/DH amino acid problem is just one of these.

Evolutionary theory is not the basis for chirality, chemistry is.  The only relevance that evolutionary theory even has in this discuss [of chirality] is to include it in a comprehensive theory.  If that's the best response you've got then I highly suggest that you refrain from any further posting and start reading.  These guys are going to eat you alive with a response like that.  I hate to be disappointed but I had hoped that we had a prodigy on our hands.

Date: 2006/12/27 21:40:14, Link
Author: skeptic
Ah, but didn't we all know everything as teenagers and just proceeded to get dumber and dumber with each passing year.  :D

Date: 2006/12/29 21:21:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Another question, what's are earliest evidence for DNA?  I know we're limited by the nature of the fossil record but what direct evidence do we have right now?

Date: 2006/12/30 10:19:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Nor have I, I've been busy with background reading and the holidays.

Lol, if anyone cared.  :D

Date: 2007/01/03 21:39:49, Link
Author: skeptic
As per Scary's suggestion, I thought I'd give it a go, but I remember a poll long ago that tells me there aren't too many christians on this site so I don't expect this to go far.

As for myself, I don't see or accept the conflict between science and religion so I have no trouble in my faith.

It could all come down to semantics.  YECs, it would seem, should have serious difficulties with most modern science and have to exercise a fair amount of denial.  As per the poll, these represent the vast minority with, I think, only one active poster and that's Dave.

Just the concept of reading the bible literally is debatable when there arises question of translation, context and historical accuracy.  So I would expect a large variety of view points just from the christians not too mention the remaining majority.  The unfortunate consequence will be the abuse from this majority that will probably keep many from posting or at least posting honestly.  That is to be expected.

I would suggest, in keeping with the theme of the site, we limit the analysis to science associated with evolution or biology and possibly including cosmology and the origin of life.  This should be sufficiently broad without straying to far.

Anyway, as a christian and a scientist, I would be happy to comment upon any science that some might consider a problem for my faith.  Please, Scary, join me and we'll see how far this goes.

Date: 2007/01/03 22:01:41, Link
Author: skeptic
I appreciate that Scary.  I wager that we may be the only two here that will take this seriously.

Date: 2007/01/04 16:49:51, Link
Author: skeptic
As so often happens, I miss a day on these boards and so much content is posted that it becomes impossible to keep up, at least in the time available.  I'll just add my two cents where most pressing.

I made the comment that I see no conflict between science and religion not as a historical one (which would obviously be false) but as a personal one.  This goes to the heart of my second point which Louis and I have danced around before so I'll try to make it better this time.

The idea that science can disprove the existence of God is in question.  I use the big "G" in an effort to avoid the purple elephant or Effiel Tower lunatic analogies and just try to focus upon God as a supernatural concept.

Science is forever framed within human perspective and also confined by it.  We attempt to describe the universe in terms we can understand based upon reason and logic universal to all.  Anything beyond these limits is untestable by science, reason or logic.  This is not a statement about actual existence just the ability to evaluate existence in these terms.

Faith is not based upon reason in the same sense.  With a primary basis in introspection, meditation and revelation, a person makes a reasoned choice to believe based upon the impact and strength of these sources of knowledge.  Physical measurements are not taken and evidence of this nature is not gathered.  All knowledge gained is ultimately of a personal nature and not directly transferable to another.  It must be experienced.  As the saying goes, "Some things have to be believed to be seen."

It is for these reasons and distinctions that I have no conflict between science and religion.  They don't speak the same language, they don't live in the same town and they don't hang out together.  In short, they have nothing in common and do not belong in an opposing conversation (my opinion).  That is also why, I feel, that the statement as to the existence of God being assessed by science is foundationally wrong.  Science can not be used to evaluate God, to me, it's just that simple.

Date: 2007/01/04 18:17:09, Link
Author: skeptic
but, Lenny, by you're earlier definition, I'm a fundamentalist.  :D

Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Please excuse this jab as it was meant in good humor.

Date: 2007/01/06 00:11:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Scary, I'll offer this and maybe it will help and maybe it won't, if so just happily ignore it.

Faith to me has always been an easy question.  I've never been one to wrestle with it only with my inability to adhere to courses of action that I know that I should.  The reason for this is that I've reduced it all back to a single question: existence vs. oblivion.  

Since we have two choices it would seem that there would be a fifty-fifty chance of either result.  So why do we have existence over oblivion?  To do this we (or me as the case would be) would have to be able to examine each and compare and contrast to understand why one result is favored.  This we can not do.  We exist within a material world and have absolutely no understanding or experience of non-existence.  This last is not just me talking; no one can comprehend oblivion and there's been a lot of very smart people throughout history that have come to the same conclusion.

So all we know is existence and that begs the question as to what caused it.  Whatever caused it stands outside of the material universe in terms of essence or composition.  It is prior to the natural laws that describe the material universe and is therefore, by definition, super-natural.  Once you get to this point it all becomes semantics.  Whether it the First Cause or the Cosmic Spirit or God or whatever becomes a personal choice.  I strongly disagree with BWE because at the root nearly any faith can be intellectually honest if it is sincere.

On thing we've done in science is study the things we can study.  Things we can observe, measure, quantify and so forth and we've skipped over the more difficult questions because they are not accessable by science.  The fundamental question is existence vs oblivion but we can not study that so we move on down the line until we find something we can study.  Unfortunately, men of science often will use this later knowledge to extrapolate back to the earlier questions and make a determination.  This determination is invalid.  

As a sidebar, every couple of years, popular media puts forth the idea of a faith gene, the reason why some believe and some don't.  In some ways I find this compelling because just from personal experience I know it would be impossible for me to ever believe in nothing.  It destroys my understanding of causation and an objective reality and it is something I've never been able to comprehend.  Maybe that's my limitation or I'm just wired that way, who can say?

Also, your earlier reference to the three O's as a working definition of God follows very easily from Aquinas' argument.  If God is Existence or the To Be as Aquinas defined Him then the Three O's follow quite naturally and in a similar way to Deadman's grandfather's explanation of the unified concept.

Just thought I'd add an appropriately long post, though not nearly as long as others, and I hope that might help as you frame the debate in your head.  If not, like I said, junk it.  :)

Date: 2007/01/06 01:23:29, Link
Author: skeptic
The invalidity (my word, lol) I'm referring to arises from the application of knowledge gained through rational means to evaluate an irrational experience.  Maybe irrational is the wrong word here but events beyond the natural laws can not be assessed rationally.  We have no frame of reference to apply in this case.  In essence, science would be saying: "If the emergence of Existence were to conform to natural law, then this is how it happened."  In this case there is no natural law that applies, at least not that we know of, so it is of no use to extend these laws anyway.

Science can certainly suggest some ideas as to the origin of a universe but that would be a universe that existed  within our own.  Anything beyond (or before) exists under laws that we have knowledge or experience of and therefore our knowledge just doesn't apply.

Disclaimer: the above comments are purely my opinion since I certainly have no special knowledge of the nature of the universe, existence and everything.  :D

Date: 2007/01/06 08:27:12, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,07:09)
As I also noted, neither I nor any of the moderate non-fundie Christians utilize that framework.  Neither I nor any of the non-fundie Christian moderates assert or accept any "religious authority".  And that is why neither Skeptic nor Russell are able to understand my point.  It simply falls outside of their conceptual framework, and until they themselves are able to look outside their framework, they quite simply will not ever be able to understand a word that I (or any of the moderate Christian majority) are saying.  It falls completely outside their experience, and they literally have no idea what the words are referring to.

You've confused me, Lenny.  For one thing I didn't refer to authority anywhere in my post.  That aside, I'd really like to know what framework you work from because, as you said, it alludes me.  There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe.  There are no other alternatives to that question, unless you see something that I and many others do not.  I just take the question to the next logical conclusion.  The fact that the universe exists is proof to me that something beyond the universe exists.

You speak as if this conclusion is somehow limiting or derived from the simple-minded.  How can it be when it is one of the TWO equally valid available conclusions?  If there are more than two choices here, please, enlighten me because I fail to see them.

This may, in fact, prove what you're asserting but I believe the burden rests on you to provide an alternative.  Otherwise, I would say that both Russell and I occupy opposite sides of a valid coin and it would be you that is stuck in a prison of you're own making.

Date: 2007/01/06 08:41:16, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (ScaryFacts @ Jan. 06 2007,07:23)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,02:23)
The invalidity (my word, lol) I'm referring to arises from the application of knowledge gained through rational means to evaluate an irrational experience.  Maybe irrational is the wrong word here but events beyond the natural laws can not be assessed rationally.

There is a basic assumption that God (or god) as defined by the Bible acts in supernatural ways, but I don’t believe this is scripturally supported.

Follow my reasoning here (and tell me if I am crazy):

If you accept God is, on some level, the creator, then you also believe he established the natural laws of the universe.

Isn’t it possible such a god would also operate according to the laws he established?  If so, then it is possible using natural observation we can learn about his universes and God himself.

If God established the laws of the universe then He, She or It operates a level above those laws.  He is not ONLY subject to them because he defined them.  Think of it in spheres.  The Universe is a sphere that is surrounded by another sphere that encapsulates or IS God.  Everything that occurs within the Universe are subject to the established natural laws but events also occur outside the sphere that are not.  Creation, is this sense the moment or event of existence, is one of these cases.  It occured within the sphere that houses or Is God and became the Universe.  Consider it a sub-set.  It reflect the whole but does not necessarily contain all the members of the larger set.  I hope that helps clarify my meaning when I refered to super-natural.

The next question, the one I think Lenny is getting at, is whether or not there is any interaction between the two spheres.  That, I believe, can only be resolved at the personal level.

Date: 2007/01/06 08:48:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,08:38)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 06 2007,08:27)
I'd really like to know what framework you work from because, as you said, it alludes me.

I know it does.  And there's nothing I can do about that.

Whether you see it or not is entirely up to you.

There's nothing you can do about because you choose not to?

Or am I so inferior that there's no hope?

Or there is no real answer?

Come on, Lenny, this is a cop-out and a contemptous one at that.  As I said, the burden lies with you.  Show me an alternative and I'll consider it, otherwise...

Why not go back to the blondes and brunettes.  I thought that was a fantastic piece which I intend to use in the future (with appropriate acknowlegement, of course).

Date: 2007/01/08 23:42:31, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 06 2007,16:41)
I will try to illustrate what I mean, Skeptic, as clearly as I am able.

You say:

>There either is or there isn't something outside of the universe.  >There are no other alternatives to that question

But my dear Skeptic, there *is* indeed a third alternative answer to that question.  It goes, " Who the #### cares?"

I am not being flippant.  I assure you I am utterly serious.

To both you and Russell (using you both as convenient stand-ins for the two competing sides of the argument), the question "is there something outside the universe" has enormous import precisely because it answers the question (or at least you both THINK it answers the question) "who has religious authority, and who doesn't?"  Or, if you prefer, "whose religious opinions are correct, and whose aren't?" -- the same question, since both you and Russell (metaphorically) accept the same suite of religious authorities, though one of you asserts them and the other one denies them.  And that indeed is the entire framework within which you and Russell (metaphorically) are arguing.

To people who don't assert or accept any "religious authority" outside of themselves (and in particular those who don't accept the Biblically-centered version of authority that both you and Russell *do* accept), however, the question itself is utterly and completely meaningless, as are all of the arguments over it and its implications.  It has no import at all.  It simply makes no difference.

And to you, for whom that question is absolutely vital, the very idea that it might be entirely beside the point, is, quite literally, inconceivable.  After all, as you yourself so aptly put it, in your view, there *can be* only two options --- either for you, or against you.  Ditto for Russell.  And what both of you do, is argue back and forth over whether the answer is indeed for you, or against you.

Any view in which that answer is simply irrelevant, though, is a crashing source of incredible befuddlement to both of you.  Which is why neither of you are able to understand the third way (the way of all the non-fundie non-authoritative religions).  It quite literally lies outside the conceptual framework that you both accept.

That has nothing to do with being "stupid" or "simple-minded".  It is a matter of perception.  If you allow only two possibilities, then you simply *cannot see* a third.  And no one else can MAKE you see it.  You have to do that yourself.  (shrug)

Sorry to digress guys but I've been chewing on this for a couple of days.  Lenny, up to this point, I've always taken your posts seriously and even when we did not agree, which was often, I saw the logic in your arguments.  That is why I was astounded that you would say something so foolish.

I reasoned that it must be me and I continued to review this.  So here's what I've come up with:

First, your obsession with authority is misplaced.  The analogy just doesn't hold to either mine or Russell's comments.  Russell would contend that there is no authority if he were even discussing that aspect, which he isn't.  As for me, I focused an a question even more fundamental than authority and it doesn't necessarily follow from my comment.  For example, the First Cause could be a unique instance never repeated and from there authority is not a determined result.

Second, I looked back at my premise, existence vs oblivion and I could see a third possibility.  The idea of Eternal Existence.  So there is no oblivion and all are part of the whole in both material and time.  Very Eastern in origin and I find no fault in the idea being raised.  It eliminates the requirements of causation and divine intervention but it runs contrary to modern physics and cosmology on the local scale.  But like I said, if that's what you're getting at, I accept that alternative.  

The problem is when I read you're post that's not what I get.  You seem to be saying that the premise has no meaning to you because you "choose" to confer no meaning upon it.  In essence you're creating your own reality because you don't like the implications of the alternative.  This eliminates objective reality and descends into the realm of "Prove to me you exist" talk.  I'm sorry to say but coming from you that is foolish.

Anyway, after careful consideration, that's how I see it.

Date: 2007/01/09 16:58:44, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (BWE @ Jan. 09 2007,10:49)
by trying to impose a logic on reality you shape it. It's not a "prove to me you exist" thing so much as an experiential awareness that "things are what they are". But this, in my experience is not something you can approach with definitions and logic. It makes no sense because you haven't internalized the experience. That takes a lot of patience and meditation and some guidance. It is part of the core of Zen at least and perhaps the larger Hindu/Buddhist tradition.

Lenny is being serious and he did answer you. It's just that the answer isn't an understanding, it's an awareness. All the books in the world won't describe it.

I've considered in the past reading "The Tao of Physics."  Is this along those same lines?

I'm sympathetic to our lack of ability to accurately or completely describe or even perceive reality, a la Plato, but that is my philosophical stance.  When it comes to science, we measure and observe what we can and accept our limitations.  Our description of the universe will be incomplete or in some cases dead wrong but that's the conditions we accept going in.  Otherwise, what's the point?  Why ask any questions if they're just going to be wrong?  I don't accept that conclusion just for the simple fact that it is completely unsatisfying.  I'll continue to ask the questions; that's just the way I'm wired.

Lenny, you're still way off base on the authority front.

Date: 2007/01/09 18:49:31, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Jan. 09 2007,18:12)
Quote (skeptic @ Jan. 09 2007,16:58)
I've considered in the past reading "The Tao of Physics."  Is this along those same lines?


There is nothing you can read that will explain it to you.

Nothing at all.

How's that for optimism!

I don't get to say this often but thanks Ichy.  I'll give that a look.

Date: 2007/01/10 08:02:57, Link
Author: skeptic
I've taken us far from Scary's initial question so I'm going to continue this on my own.  I did want to make concluding comment.  It would seem that this viewpoint would deny one from obtaining knowledge of any objective sort.  The words are just symbols that inadequately describe reality and you must experience something to actually know it but you cannot share that with anyone else because they haven't experienced what you have and the symbols limit your ability to share a common experience accurately.  Sounds like each creates their own reality and it is unique.  Anyway, back to Scary's discussion.

P.S. Lenny, if by "authority" you mean an objective reality in which existence is or it isn't of specific essences whether we know it or not, then yes, I subscribe to that.  If you're referring to an Authority Figure then you're still offbase.

Date: 2007/01/10 08:58:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Mike PSS @ Jan. 10 2007,08:42)
You give up too easily skeptic.  From an independent observer I can make the following summary by analogy.  This is only my words and my view at present.

 This poorly put together analogy is (I think) what Lenny is alluding to when he states your perception is locked into authority.  You "need" to have something spelled out as omnipotent/all-powerful or over-arching to make sense of everything else.

Two quick ones:

I'm not giving up, I just don't want to sidetrack Scary's discussion any further.

And the idea of an omnipotent/all-powerful authority is not a requirement and that is why Lenny's authority concept doesn't apply.  The Cause could be any number (or infinite) of things that resulted in existence as opposed to oblivion.  It need not be active, aware, unnatural or even still in around.  At the fundamental level it might just be more important to recognize that there is a cause than what the nature of the that cause is.

Anyway, I'll do some reading on my own and try to get a glimpse from the other side.

Date: 2007/01/10 22:06:22, Link
Author: skeptic
With all my reading in the past couple weeks I've been kicking around an idea and since MichiganRuss has posed the question I'll let it rip.  Just to caution it is fairly radical.  What if life is DNA, RNA and proteins?

I don't mean composed of but actually that is the only configuration that is life.  We're looking at scenarios of a primitive self-replicating molecule but we have no evidence that such a molecule can exist or ever has.  Just to be clear I'm not talking about crystals or polymers but a molecule that truely facilitates its own replication.  In fact, every form of life on the planet meets this criteria and we even have cases that partially meet this criteria and we do not consider them "alive" (viruses and prions).  This could be proof of common descent or just more simply that all life requires this configuration to be alive.  Even in our search beyond the planet we're looking for life similar to what we have here.  Would we even recognize life that wasn't compsed of DNA, RNA and proteins?

Just a thought and certainly not a popular one but what really got it going for me is the fact that there are no other forms (or never have been as far as we know) of life on the planet.  Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that in the past 3-4 billion years something new would have developed from the DNA, RNA, protein framework and we'd see a branch that was similar but different.  Wouldn't evolution and selection nearly guarantee this outcome unless such a configuration just flat out didn't function?

Anyway, thought I'd show you guys what this background reading had done to my already crazy brain.

Date: 2007/01/10 22:25:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Steviepinhead @ Jan. 10 2007,17:12)
I'll simply ask, is there any "evidence" (observational basis in reality) forthis "logical" opposite to existence?  We--well, most of us not counting Carol Clouser--know that even a vacuum isn't "perfect," that it's a-foam and a-boil with creative potential.

I have absolutely no evidence of oblivion prior to existence nor can I even conceive of what oblivion actually is or means.  I don't even know if oblivion is a possibility but I do know that existence both is a possibility and Is or has never been a possibility as has always Been.  Here, I'm not referring to the universe but to Existence, all universes, all time, all space, etc.

So, no, you're right, I have no reason to assume a state of oblivion except that I have to set up an initial assumption in order to analyze the current reality and the easist way to do this is by comparison.  If not it becomes impossible to evaluate the question at the heart of all this:

Why are we?

Date: 2007/01/11 16:06:10, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny and BWE, thanks for the exercise but I fear my chemistry gets in the way.  I've tried many times throughout my life at meditation and to no good result.  I could never stop the aimless thoughts (especially "man, it sure is quiet!") and I think it's the same reasons that I am an insomiac and not suceptable to hypnosis (tried that too).  But I understand the utility and I look upon those that are successful with something close to envy.

Lenny, I agree that it is up to me as to answering the "Why" question but I think that is also consistent with most religions.  The problem is my answer has to be reflected by my perceived reality.  Unless I agree to lie to myself, which I refuse to do,  my beliefs have to match Reality as closely as possible and in order to make that comparison there must be some framework in place.  The only alternative would be for me to directly experience God which sad to say I can not.  All methods I know or have experienced have been indirect but convincing.  I appreciate you offering another method to make that direct connection but alas I'm broken it seems.

One comment, it would seem that your method and prayer or fasting are very similar.  Could it be that both attain the same goal by different routes?

Date: 2007/01/16 22:19:11, Link
Author: skeptic
If my opinion matters to you, here it is.  Much of what you get here is exactly what would be expected.  You may have unreal expectations or taking issues a little too personally.  Granted, I haven't read all of GoP's posts (I only read him in moderation) so maybe be you're referring to a specific instance and if so then I'll retract this advise.  If it just a general objection to his style and methods then the best alternative is to ignore him.  You don't have to read his posts and any contributions to threads you are reading can just be skipped.  You are in complete control of that situation.  Personally, I take his posts with a grain of salt because I believe his intentions are to inflame sometimes but I do enjoy his perspective sometimes exactly because it is so different from mine.  By that same token, even though we rarely agree, I appreciate your posts and the boards (and I) would miss your contributions.

Date: 2007/01/18 07:47:11, Link
Author: skeptic
I wonder if it could be considered ironic noting the path this thread has taken? Hmmm. ;)

Date: 2007/01/18 22:21:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually, Scary, I've been watching with interest.  It seems that everybody is looking, dare I say searching, for something more, something deeper and more meaningful that the same old same old.  Maybe we're all not as far apart as we think we just use different methods to get there.

Date: 2007/01/19 08:21:34, Link
Author: skeptic
BWE, I will preface this with the understanding that I'm not a psychiatrist but a chemist, but I believe the final goal in the use of various substances (prescription or otherwise) is either escapism or the altered state.  Ignoring escapism and focusing on the altered state we can see that there are various ways to acheive this including meditation, prayer, fasting, etc.  I'm sure you're in agreement so far.

I would propose that this is derived from an underlying need to know.  Even the basic metaphor of Adam and Eve and the Tree point to this idea.  Science trys to tell us the whats and the hows but the really important questions to us are the Hows and the Whys.  As to this, I heard a great quote last night and is sums it up for me:

"In my experience, science is not enough."

Now you're going to say that this is nothing more than a "God of the Gaps" argument and I will counter saying that is a vast oversimplification.  We're not just dealing with a current lack of understanding but fundamental limitations on our ability to understand.  You may be opposed to one particular method or book but at that point all decisions are personal and up to the individual to decide what supplies the most satisfying answer to the Why.  It is telling that you see those involved with religion as unnecessarily saddled with guilt and shame.  Is this how you felt?  Could it be possible that for you religion didn't offer the most satisfying answer and leave it at that?

Now I know I've opened the door for Lenny to accuse me of trying to impose authority or order where it doesn't exist.  Don't you do the same thing when you invoke concepts of Unity and Oneness?  Aren't these just generic versions of that same order?

In the end, we're all searching for the big answers and I think even atheists fall into this category.  In fact, at the risk of inciting violence,  I would say that there really are no such thing as atheists it just becomes a question of what words you use to answer the Why questions.  Call it human nature, but it appears that we've all been cursed with the need to know and understand so we can evaluate our place in this wonderous universe.  My only hope is that we all find an answer that is sincerely satisfying so that we can attain as much as this world has to offer.  Kumbaya, my friends.

Date: 2007/02/04 23:28:40, Link
Author: skeptic
I working on my Poof-O-Meter now but I need to calibrate it properly.  What naturally occurring event is a sufficient replacement for the Think-inspired Poof?  With that tiny piece of data I could easily prove Intelligent Design in what remains of the weekend...Anyone?  :D

Date: 2007/03/03 19:55:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Funny that she bothers you guys so much...I guess you just don't understand her humor.

Date: 2007/03/04 00:06:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Ann Coulter, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, George Carlin ( especially George Carlin), they're all the same.  I just find it amazing that people take Ann seriously enough to be offended.  Hey, but maybe that's just me. (chuckle)

Date: 2007/03/04 09:12:37, Link
Author: skeptic
What a sheltered world you people must live in.  I suggest you listen to XM radio comedy for about 1/2 an hour and you'll realize that none of this is shocking and all of it is intentional.

I view Ann in the same way I looked at Madonna in the eighties and nineties.  I couldn't stand a single thing she did but I had to admit that the woman was a friggin genius.  She knew exactly who to be at exactly the right time and made millions doing it.

Now, YOU may think Ann is not funny but she's made millions off of people who do.  I tend to think that her comedy is the actual reaction she gets.  I've never read one of her books but when she talks about the themes I laugh because I know it's just going to drive certain people crazy.  And you can bet I'm laughing now because AGAIN she's successful.  Actually, I think it's kind of creative because I don't think anyone else has been able to use Isiah Washington's situation productively.

But to Ichy's point, I don't beleive anyone should take her seriously, just doing so is bound to give you an ulcer because she is all about shock and she's going to say things that are intended to shock and offend and then people like me will laugh at you for being offended.

I was able to ignore Madonna for twenty years, you guys should have no trouble ignoring Ann.

Date: 2007/03/04 15:40:24, Link
Author: skeptic
GCT and Arden,
First I fully believe that Whoopi believes everything she says and is still trying to be funny and I've heard George Carlin advocate the elimination of many different groups of people to no outrage.  As far as reconciling her statements, I don't have to because I don't support them or take them seriously.  As far as I'm concerned, they're nonsense and the comedy I find is not in the comments themselves but the reaction they generate.  You guys (and gals) are being played like a fiddle and that's what is funny.

Date: 2007/03/04 17:31:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Not only is most of Ichy's rant delusional but it and GCT'c response fall into the sterotypical liberal elitist trap, namely that you're the only smart people in the room and the only voices that deserve to be heard.

Date: 2007/03/04 19:24:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Problem - I can't be part of the problem because there is no problem.  One consequence of freedom of speech is that anyone has the right to say what they please and accept the results of said speech, in her case that result is money and in your case, Ichy, it's your demostration of intolerance.

As far as damage that her speech has caused, I think we're going to need to show some documented proof on this one.  Somebody step up and provide some evidence beyond that she may have hurt someone's feelings or perverted the "stupid majority" of fly over country.

Don't try damaging science because I seriously doubt if anything she says will influence any paper that's published this year or any other in any scientific journal.  I may be generalizing here but until someone proves otherwise I feel very comfortable with this statement.

Date: 2007/03/04 22:06:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Angry, I must disagree.  The entire theme of this thread is that she shouldn't be allowed to speak, period!  If the point was that no one should listen, which is what I am saying, then it should start right here and this thread would not exist.  There should have been no response from any gay advocacy groups or Howard Dean or Ted Kennedy.  All that does is add fuel to the fire.  If they wanted to treat this comment with the context it deserved than someone should have called Micheal Richards and asked him for his comment but not a sitting US Senator.

Ichy, you're just looking for someone to blame.  Valid or no, not a single one of those issues have been influenced in the least by Ann Coulter.  Ann is preaching to the choir not driving public opinion.  She just says what a segment of the population wants to hear.  Her success stems from the fact that she knows what they want to hear and can package it appropriately.  If you want to blame someone you'd better start looking at the 30+ million people who think this way.  I honestly have no idea how big this segment is but you've got to do a #### of a better job convincing millions to change their way of thinking then to just kill the messenger.

Date: 2007/03/05 17:45:07, Link
Author: skeptic
I believe that Coulter is purposely being mean just to make people mad.  She does not believe that Edwards is gay it's just an opportunity to use a taboo term.  There's very little connection between Edwards and being gay, probably none, but that term is in the news these days so she used it.  Nothing more than that.  By reading anything more into it and getting offended is where the humor comes in.

I think Whoopi actually advocated killing Bush but I'd have to check on that but I do distinctly remember Carlin doing an entire routine on the members of society that needed to be killed for the betterment of humanity.  This list included the homeless, insane, convicts and politicians.  There's no doubt that Carlin didn't actually want anyone to go out to kill these people and the same can be said for the Supreme Court Justices that Coulter identified.  To believe anything other than that is just simple.

And, Ichy...I would bet that your students throw that stuff in your face just because you can not handle it emotionally.  You might really need to consider therapy to handle that anger issue of yours

Date: 2007/03/05 19:50:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ Mar. 05 2007,17:51)
gees, some guys just can't figure out when they are being utterly idiotic.

For once I agree with you entirely...

Date: 2007/03/05 21:37:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Faid, that's actually a very interesting question.  I think to a certain extent she has to identify with some of what she is saying to be convincing and to be able to package it successfully she has to be able to identify with her audience.  As far as literally believing what she herself is saying, i would say no.  I don't know her so I can only say this based upon her methods.  She, in my opinion, pushes the envelope even when it is not necessary.  She goes for maximum shock value all the time and it's hard for me to imagine that someone could literally be speaking her mind and always be that successful in her intention.  It would be like Stephan King writing great horror on the fly without editing.  It short I would say everything she does is calculated but to be fair this is just MY guess.

Date: 2007/03/05 23:44:52, Link
Author: skeptic
My first instinct was that it had to do primarily with the chemistry of the colors, based on the compounds.  This seemed interesting but since I've forgotten quite a bit of organic chemistry over the years, I thought I'd do some research.  I came upon this and I thought I'd post it as you may or may not find it useful:

Fruit Color Polymorphisms

Date: 2007/03/06 18:19:32, Link
Author: skeptic
While I appreciate the thought, Steve, it doesn't bother me in the least.  I could say a lot of things but I'll let it go at that.

Date: 2007/03/06 23:56:48, Link
Author: skeptic
k.e., thanks for the post.  I've never quite heard that interpretation of Jesus before.  Seems so very Western, lol, if you'll forgive the pun.  But that was a very interesting read and I think I might have to look into the book.  Thanks.

Date: 2007/03/09 16:03:13, Link
Author: skeptic
C'mom, Lenny, what do you want me to say?  She's trying to prove a point that murder is murder whether you're talking about a clinic worker or the unborn?  There's no reason to respond to this.  I couldn't defend someone who killed a doctor for performing a legal procedure, it just doesn't make any sense.  But it's also ridiculous to equate a few maniacs with the pro-life movement.  That would be the same as saying all muslims are terrorists.

Again, she's trying to make a point but that's secondary.  Primarily, she's trying to piss you off and satisfy that segment on her side that is also pissed off.  IMO, it's all about emotion.

So, I don't take her seriously, nor do I feel the need to defend or justify anything she says.  My suggestion is You should ignore her also if you don't like what she's saying.  We're a consumer driven society so that is the best way you can punish her.

And I think that that pretty much sums up everything we could possibly say about Ann Coulter.  Anything more is just redundant.

Date: 2007/03/09 22:40:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Ah, the Al Gore School of Intelligent Discussion.

Date: 2007/03/09 22:50:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Steviepinhead @ Mar. 09 2007,17:45)
I don't agree that that's a rational stance as to speech which is designed not (or not only) to push a product but to incite irrational hate and rage.

Are you truly comfortable with your rationalization, skeptic?  Or, upon reflection, are you able to see a moral dimension here that you're ignoring?

This is where you give Ann Coulter much more credit than I do.  I do not believe she intends or is even capable of inciting irrational rage and hate.  You must remember the ideas that she taps into already exist.  She's not generating anything original.  If someone listens to her and thinks she's got some really great ideas it's only because she's voicing the thoughts that they've already had.

Again, other than Ichy's unruly students, I don't see Ann Coulter having any significant impact outside of upon her own pocketbook and that of Fox News.

And no, Lou, you didn't make your point because you didn't make any sense.  You didn't piss me off and my involvement with farm animals has no relavance to this or any other discussion.

Date: 2007/03/10 07:07:04, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm sorry, I don't watch The Simpsons.  This might be the root of the problem, we have two completely different frames of reference.

Date: 2007/03/10 10:44:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Again, I fail to see any evidence and no one here has provided any evidence that Coulter is inciting any rage, anger, hatred or any other emotion exhibited by the great unwashed that you guys are so in fear of.

I take a good look around me every day and I can only assume that I live in a completely different country that just coincidentally bears the same name as the one you live in.

I am not prone to anger, hatred, paranoia, fear, loathing, depression or hopelessness.  I'm sorry you guys must endure these constant assualts on you're ablity to be happy but I just can not identify.  I guess it could equally be asked if it is constructive for you guys to sit in you're echo chambers and constantly incite each other?  I do hear an awful lot of hate and anger right here; is that justified?  I forgot, this is well informed hate and anger directed at the actual enemies of human civilization. :D

Date: 2007/03/10 13:24:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (lkeithlu @ Mar. 10 2007,11:31)
Gotta question:

Do you get the impression that Republicans and/or the religious right are distancing themselves from Coulter? I would guess that they would be torn between agreeing with some of her ideas but embarrassed that she articulates them so publicly and in such an inflammatory manner.

My feeling is that any group might hold a loose cannon at arm's length if they got too controversial. Of course, Dembski doesn't have the same survival instincts; he took public credit for helping her with her book.

I would say, Yes.  I heard very little about Coulter's comments anywhere but here.  Normally, she would have led every show as newscasters breathlessly awaited her apology but that was not the case.  Rush even ignored her and only talked about it for 15 min the following Monday and since then, nothing.  I think she's even lost some sponsors over the comment.  So I would say she's definitely been minimized but I don't believe she actually was a serious member of either the conservative or republican organizations.

Lenny, thank you, and I might say, how very arrogant of you!

Date: 2007/03/10 14:15:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Like I said, we live in two different countries that bear little resemblance to each other.

Date: 2007/03/11 07:24:23, Link
Author: skeptic
GCT, that's the same as saying "I'm starting a fire" by rubbing two erasers together.  You're not starting a fire anywhere but in you're own mind.  You might want to rephrase your argument to say that Ann is attempting to incite; then you may have a point.

GoP, absolutely right.  Where else could we hear all day long about Britney's new hair style and Ann Nicole's decaying body.  This is the height of civilization.  :D   But if I was paranoid I'd say that is what the media and govt want us to focus on while they steal away every last liberty we have and make us slaves to the state.  Good thing I'm not paranoid, huh?

Arden, I don't think I've ever defended what Ann said.  I think I've made it clear that I'm dealing with the reaction to Coulter, but, yes, most everyone here is probably an elitist including myself...I think.

Date: 2007/03/12 17:49:00, Link
Author: skeptic
GoP, you're a glutton for punishment my man.  Why, oh why did you ever start this one?  There is no rational conversation here.  Kristine's comment is as nice as it's going to get and, trust me, it's probably going to get really bad before it's done.  In this case, I have to agree with the Good Reverend, do you enjoy the conflict?

Date: 2007/03/14 17:47:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Heddle, one correction, Southern Baptists accept eternal salvation.  I'm not going to speak for American, General, Primitive, or any other flavor but I can speak for the S. Baptists.

Date: 2007/03/14 18:20:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Another correction, Rev, that's just your opinion and it is not shared as demonstrated by the multiple questions concerning Heddle's beliefs.  Just keepin' it real.

Date: 2007/03/14 18:39:37, Link
Author: skeptic

Date: 2007/03/17 11:50:06, Link
Author: skeptic
This is all so pointless.  There's no way to quantify "christian hatred" or any other hatred towards the Jews.  The Jews (and gypsys) just happen to be among the most persecuted people on the Earth so from anyone's perspective this group or that group is the root.  That's crap and lazy thinking.  That's why I warned you in the beginning, GoP, this is not a discussion.  To most here, religion and specifically Christianity, is the root of all evil and for the them to even entertain any other concept is beyond their ability.  

We can throw out any example of Christian or non-Christian evil and it means nothing.  You say Hilter, I say Pol Pot, you say Crusades and I say Stalin, blah, blah, blah.

This is just an example of how atheists try to justify their belief with some moral higher ground and how Christians try to label atheists as little satans.  Until we get beyond that, there simply is no discussion.

I apologize for the rant, I'll now step of my soapbox and fade back into the gallery.

Date: 2007/03/17 23:34:30, Link
Author: skeptic
Thank you all for proving my point.  Do you just enjoy this, GoP or do you have some unrevealed sinister plan?

Date: 2007/03/19 16:59:17, Link
Author: skeptic
I'd really encourage you to post the supporting evidence, if it exists, now.  The reason I say this is that it may appear that there is a time relationship between the Holocaust, social Darwinism, eugenics, etc but that in no way establishes a causal relationship and to imply so with no supplied evidence is both misleading and an insult to one's intelligence.  I'm not implying that you intention is so but to remove doubt and the inevitable posts stating these objections, how about the evidence now? :D

Date: 2007/03/22 23:41:23, Link
Author: skeptic
First of all, Lenny is delusional and secondly, the existence of threads like this remove any doubt that most participants are incapable of objective, rational thought.

Date: 2007/03/23 17:26:30, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm laughing at myself right now because I just allowed myself to be drawn into the trap that I warned GoP about two weeks ago.  At least I can say I took the bait rather than offering it.  Touche, GoP.

To make this as short and sweet as possible is so far as it is completely fruitless and completely off-topic:

Lenny is delusional, IMO, for the same reasons we have discussed on numerous occasions.  He sees ongoing and massive conspiracies rampant in this country.  I'm going to avoid analysis of his motives because that is completely irrelevant but I would propose that Lenny lives in a different world than most Americans.

For those that are challenged by reading comprehension, I will state simply that I don't defend Ann Coulter, Karl Rove or ID.  My comments have always centered around the reaction to the first two and I have pretty much ignored the third, as it is due.

Finally,  the idea that anyone would enjoy watching Rove frog-marched for some imaginary crime displays an utter lack of understanding of government and the political system in this country.  I acknowledge that we have a number of members from outside the US and I can forgive that ignorance, but for those that live hear I can only say "Shame on You" and suggest you start reading something other than the New York and LA Times.

And with that I would say, Steve, this is the perfect moment to move (or delete) this thread as it is an absolute waste of time.  I think most will agree that that is not a sweeping generalization.

Date: 2007/03/26 22:17:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, if others are speaking who then becomes the troll?

Date: 2007/03/27 18:49:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I am deeply offended!  I've never worshipped asses of any kind.

Date: 2007/03/29 07:52:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Just some quick clarifications, Louis, if you don't mind.  While it is evident that Europe has become more secular, I don't think it is fair to hold it up as an example of secular society.  This secular society does not exist in a vacuum and there is still a heavy religious influence in many parts of Europe.  There may have been active attempts to remove the influence of religion from govt but that is not the same as removing the influence on the individual who then participates in govt.

In fact, if you look at recent influences of religion upon govts of Europe it is safe to say that religion still has a very strong influence.  Look at the impacts of muslim traditions in France and England.

The Enlightenment wasn't as secular as you might think as the vast majority of the participants were very religious.  The progress may have been incidental of religion or even encouraged by the nature of the religious infrastructure, I don't think we can say.  We might want to consult an expert in this area.

Finally, your precious atheism.  Again, it does not exist in a bubble.  Maybe if it did you could claim no religious affiliation.  The reality is atheism and especially "radical" atheism is decidedly anti-traditional religion.  That is the binding principle, dogma, if you please.  Atheism may not be formalized but it has it's own belief system, influences and preachers.  We can disagree about this all day long but atheism is a religion, pure and simple.  The central claim can not be supported in any quantitative way and is just accepted as a matter of faith.  So we're dealing with a belief system that moves the authority internally rather than externally and is attempting to displace the other religions.  

This is a bit rambling, but the point is, if you can attribute to religion the capacity to do harm then you have to accept that same possiblity in an atheistic society because they are both religions and the common denomiator in each is man.  That is truely where the capacity for harm resides and the justification is just a convience as a suitable reason to proceed with the desired action will always be found.

Just my observation.

Date: 2007/03/29 17:31:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you've gone a long way out of your way to make a point and I still think you miss mine.  Going back, it might be understandable because it was early when I posted and my post didn't seem as coherant even to me.  So, I'll try again.

A religion is a set of beliefs based upon faith to explain or provide some sort of spiritual basis for one's life, in the context that I have used it.  I didn't consult Webster's for this definition so we may disagree on the specifics.  Atheism fits this in nearly everyway as it is observed currently.  The comment you keep going back to that is utter nonsense is that there is no empirical basis for a belief in God.  Couple this with the statement that there is an increasingly vanishing possiblility for the existence of God and it is evident that you are relying upon these claims to justify your belief.  Not to belabor the point, but I'm emphasizing belief over an over again for a reason.  Even a belief in nothing is a belief.  Your belief is based upon the false premise that if there were a God we should be able to detect him in some way.  How?  You figure that out and you might just become the most famous person in history.  The problem, as you might well see, is that that which is supernatural or irrational is beyond the bounds of reason or measure.  

I don't know how to make it more plain but a statement of the empirical nature of God is a statement of faith and faith denotes religion.  We can argue about the structure and hiearchy but the basis is there.

Now, Ogee raises a good point and to that I would say that it all comes down to a level of acceptance or organization.  If there was an organized Church of Harry Potter (which we call now a fan club) that was accepted by it's members as a true belief and reaches a critical mass of acceptance in the community then it is a religion.  As an example, I would present the Church of Scientology.  What I would consider the fantasy of a science fiction writer is accepted by many (including the US Govt) as a valid religion.  I would put Scientology in the same catagory that you place Harry Potter.

Date: 2007/03/29 17:50:20, Link
Author: skeptic
Arden, please tell me you're joking.

Date: 2007/03/30 00:37:07, Link
Author: skeptic
Arden, not being an atheist puts me in the position that I can not tell you the emotional or spiritual significance the atheism holds specifically.  I can only say that it must be of some value to the adherents or they wouldn't subscribe.  Were I to hazard a guess I would say that it is linked to humanism, personal authority and a mistaken connection to rational thinking.

Henry J, they do not contradict each other.  When Louis says there is no empirical basis for a belief in God that implies that there exists an empirical test that could make that measurement.  I contend that no such test exists and to make the statement is a fallacy.

swbarnes, you are exactly right.  I do not believe in any of those because my belief lies elsewhere but I can not supply you with a rational reason why my belief is any more valid than any of those.  It is a matter of faith the same as a belief in no God.  I don't call atheists liars because, again, my belief is no more valid rationally than theirs.  I just point out that atheism is a belief system and it has no basis nor connection to science.  Any attempted connection is just a delusion to help the believer feel more secure in their faith.  Call it the Shroud of Turin for atheists.

Date: 2007/03/30 07:50:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I'm always amazed at the multiple conversations that occur at once because of confusion or flat out denial to see anything but what one wants to see.  Take Ichy, for example, I distinctly state that I don't call atheists liars and he attacks me for, in his mind, doing just that.  You continually return to the same point about "banning religion" and that is not at all what this discussion is about.  Maybe that's the complaint that you regularly hear but not here so take that arguement elsewhere.  You object to my label of "anti-religion religion" so I'll clarify it for you, how about anti-established religion?  if you don't see that trend then I think you might have your head in the sand.

I think what I've done is offend your beliefs and you have to then yell that I don't know what atheism is.  I see the irony here because I've seen this conversation in reverse. No one likes to see their faith insulted or even held up for scrutiny.  I think one of the motivations or lures of atheism is the insult to intelligence.  You (collectively, not you Louis) do not accept the irrational statements of faith in religion so you reject them and feel smarter because you've made a choice grounded in reason.  You are not sheep, blindly following the Invisible Old Man in the Sky.  You are much smarter than that, you arguements are backed up by science, there is no mindless dogma, no crazy ideology, nothing to be ashamed about during conversations at cocktail parties.

Here's the kicker, this all stems (IMO) from this inborn need to see purpose and reason in the universe but rather than take the easy way out, the way of the not-so-smart, atheists have selected the most sophisticated, reason-based and rational belief system:

there is no God, everything we see here is the result of the defining laws of nature inherent in matter and given time, technology, and the progression of science mankind will methodically wipe away the residual myths and ignorant superstitions to reveal this Truth.

This not the banning of religion, as Dawkins has stated, this is just the slow realization that religion is wrong and via something similar to natual selection the old dies away and is replaced by the new.  GoP's question, as I read it, is not about this process but if it does happen, are we better off and are there examples that we can learn from.

My comment is not, "you mean, bad atheists are ruining my God-fearing, bigoted, hate-filled and loveless nation" (that is how you see me, right?).  My comment is centered on the point that this is just the replacement of one religion, one set of beliefs, for another.  The underlying evils will still exist they're just given different justifications.

Now, you're jumping up and down screaming ATHEISM IS NOT RELIGION!!! And I say, I disagree and you're in denial.

so, in conclusion, as Lenny has said this turns out to be a pointless discussion.  Religion will always exist, under what ever name it goes by.  The capacity for evil resides in man not in any idealogy or belief.  Maybe this is actually our fundamental point of contention.

Date: 2007/03/30 18:18:05, Link
Author: skeptic
swbarnes, I stand by my statement that I can give you no rational reason for my belief in God.  I'm going to stress that this is my fundamental belief that a God exists.  From this starting point I have perfectly rational reasons for being a christian, if that make any sense to you.  You could take every single shred of info we have about Christ and christianity and conclusively prove it to be false and that would have zero impact upon my belief that God exists.  The same standards apply to a belief that God does not exist in that there is no rational justification for this statement, it is pure faith.

k.e., I say the same to you.  Prove to me that God doesn't exist and I'll allow you to completely remove it from public discourse.

Ogee,  "strong" atheism is not merely the acknowledgement that a null condition exists.  It is an affimative statement that a previously held belief is false.  It is a deliberate statement of faith that requires belief and then leads one to make decisions or act according to these tenets.  If you start an organized movement opposing Scientology based upon some beliefs and it becomes accepted then you do have the Church of Anti-Scientology.

And, Louis, the title of the thread is "Are Radical Atheists Dangerous?", not "Is a Secular Society a bad thing?".  We're not just talking about secularism but forced secularism by radical atheist agenda, not that I agree with that premise.  so come on back to the table, you can still talk to stupid ol' me.

Stevie, thank you, I'll try to work on that.

Date: 2007/04/02 17:22:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you've obviously not understood a thing I've said.  I make no such claims about religion or those who oppose it.  Go back and reread and maybe you'll get it the second time around.

k.e., here's what you and Louis fail to understand.  No one can either prove or disprove the existence of God.  It simply can not be done.  Either state must be taken as a statement of faith.

I believe God exists.

I do not believe God exists.

Those are both valid statements; whereas:

God exists.

God does not exist.

Those are both invalid statements because neither can be supported by any evidence.  If you understand that then you understand my only point during this whole discussion.

Date: 2007/04/02 21:59:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (C.J.O'Brien @ April 02 2007,18:23)
Hey, Ever'body!!! (been awhile)

The problem, my insufficiently skeptical skeptic, is definitional. That's the point. And it's right where your argument goes off the rails.

If somebody says "This thing, or maybe entity, I don't know what it is, and nobody can agree on a definitive list of it's attribtes, but it makes me feel good, exists."

Do you really think that statement is equivalent, logically to "No, it doesn't." ???

Define God as something that might possibly exist, and then we'll talk. But somehow, I think you'll be dissatisfied with your God.

Two problems.  You statement, in essence, says: "This thing...exists."  As I have pointed out that is invalid.  You would have to say: "I believe this thing exists."  Subtle, but it makes all the difference.

Second, define for me what can possibly exist.  Hint : any answer to that request is foolish.

Date: 2007/04/02 22:08:59, Link
Author: skeptic
k.e., serious answer to your question.  Faith is a very difficult thing to define and impossible to rationalize.  The closest thing I can compare it to is a very vivid delusion.  If you talk to crazy people they will swear that the pink elephant is sitting right there in the room even though no one else can see it and they themselves can not prove it.

I only know that I believe and doing so affects me emotionally and provides my moral compass.  Maybe that compass is already there and I just choose to affix a name to it, who knows.  

Certainly not the conclusive answer you're looking for and I'd bet that my experience is probably completely different than someone else's but that's all I can verbalize.  If you don't feel, believe or experience it, I can't explain it.  Sorry.

Date: 2007/04/03 07:26:20, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, we're caught in a loop.  Both of us saying the same thing and neither accepting the other's premise.  I propose we move on.

Date: 2007/04/05 20:03:54, Link
Author: skeptic
I think Albatross has hit the nail on the head.  All those taking the MCAT, except that rare idiot who just wants to see how they'd do, has an interest in medicine.  So given that the degree designation becomes interesting.  One of the key factors relating to Med School acceptance is (drumroll) GPA.  So the vast majority of students are going to choose the curricullum that would most lend itself to a high GPA.  I think that is what we see with the really advanced students choosing the more demanding majors and doing well because they can handle it.  Of course, it could be that biology departments also prefer pre-meds major in biology and steer them that way.  This would also skew the data downwards.  It all becomes anecdotal at this point but I know where my bias lies, lol.

Date: 2007/04/05 20:12:01, Link
Author: skeptic
OMG, Louis, I fell asleep half way through that. I think it was a redefinition of the word respect with accompaning justification but as I say I slept through most of it.  I hope you didn't do that on work time, lol.

Date: 2007/04/06 06:48:23, Link
Author: skeptic
lol, hey, how about a little respect.  :D

Date: 2007/04/06 17:46:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I saw your question on the other thread about your proposal so I thought I'd respond.  The only real reason I haven't completed the assignment is I just have the time.  Sorry.

In truth, I believe we both see the others point and just don't agree, simple as that.  We see two different societies in action and that may be the root cause.  Over here there are concerted efforts to remove religion by the "strong" atheists and if I take you to be correct, you're not seeing those same movements.

Either way, doesn't matter, when it comes down to evil some justification will always rise to the surface and no society is any more or less insulated from that happening based upon their theistic or anti(or a)theistic structure.

Date: 2007/04/06 21:50:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, unless you can type 300 words a minute you're not really that busy.  I hope you caught the sarcasm in that quip.

GCT, school prayer, "one nation under God", "In God we trust".  Three specific examples.  

You guys can continue under this delusion that a secular society is simply one in which religion has no favored status, as you put it Louis, but that is simply not the case in the US.  In this country some religions enjoy favored status in a variety of areas and at the same times are discriminated against.  Again, this means nothing towards my overall point.  I'm just trying to raise this conversation above the level of "atheist bad/religion good and religion bad/atheist good."

Date: 2007/04/06 23:25:42, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, you're smarter than that.  You shouldn't go for the cheap insult.  Who brought the suits that were decided by courts?  Who represented the individuals bringing those suits?

I'm sure you've read the First Amendment.  Show me the seperation of church and state in the First Amendment, please.

But, again, this has nothing to do with the actual discussion.

Date: 2007/04/07 07:31:29, Link
Author: skeptic
not incapable just uninterested.  I'm afraid I find this boring.  I've said what I've said and you've stated you opinion and invoked your corn field of strawmen and that's it.  Is there any point in going further?  Unless you have something new and more interesting to say...or I do  :D

Date: 2007/04/07 08:33:10, Link
Author: skeptic
GCT, sorry to point this out but you're wrong.  The intent was a seperation of the state from the church.  

Also, how does "in God we trust" on a dollar bill force religion upon anyone.  In the case of the dollar and the pledge, these are just traditional references to the country's makeup, history, tendency, whatever but they really mean nothing at all.  Regardless of this, they have been targeted by certain individuals who find them offensive on purely religious grounds.  Don't try to get all high mighty and smehow imply that this is just Christians whining.  Christians happen to make up about 80-90% of the population (something like that).  This is actually a case of atheists whining (maybe 1-2% of the population) and courts agreeing with them.  So let's be clear on that.

If someone prays in front of you are you offended?  If someone prays in front of you do you feel compelled to join in?  C'mon, grow up.

Date: 2007/04/07 09:18:59, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, that's an unrealistic analogy and you know it.

GCT, you have some serious issues and I'm really not interested in talking about YOUR insecurities.

Date: 2007/04/07 17:58:44, Link
Author: skeptic
GoP, where I think the Court was wrong is this same distinction in Roe v. Wade.  By inventing rights that do not exist in the Constitution and then establishing that as the law of the land any further debate on the issue is fruitless.  Precedent takes hold and whether decided rightly or wrongly, it stands.  Abortion should be a State issue, school prayer should be a local issue, but they are not and based upon bad law.  Whether or not the result of the Court seems to be ok for the most part, as in the case with school prayer, the precedent and bastardization of the Constitution are the true problems.

Date: 2007/04/07 18:56:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (argystokes @ April 07 2007,18:08)
Quote (skeptic @ April 07 2007,15:58)
GoP, where I think the Court was wrong is this same distinction in Roe v. Wade.  By inventing rights that do not exist in the Constitution and then establishing that as the law of the land any further debate on the issue is fruitless.  Precedent takes hold and whether decided rightly or wrongly, it stands.  Abortion should be a State issue, school prayer should be a local issue, but they are not and based upon bad law.  Whether or not the result of the Court seems to be ok for the most part, as in the case with school prayer, the precedent and bastardization of the Constitution are the true problems.

So, you seriously believe that the constitution doesn't guarantee a separation of state from church? You would accept (that is, agree with the constitutionality of, not necessarily agree with) the adoption of Sharia law so long as Islam is not declared the official national religion?

EDIT: These are not rhetorical questions.

The Constitution absolutely places a barrier between the state and religion, in the interest of protecting RELIGION, not the state.  Go back and read what I said, and Lenny, read what you just wrote.  If the Founders had intended a seperation of church from state then they would have written it that way rather then the way they did, which was a seperation of state from the church.

Again, this has NOTHING to do with the topic of thread, or are we through with that?

Date: 2007/04/07 21:42:44, Link
Author: skeptic
GCT, you just can't read.  A seperation of state from the church exists not the other way around.

Date: 2007/04/08 08:01:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (qetzal @ April 07 2007,21:54)
Quote (skeptic @ April 07 2007,21:42)
GCT, you just can't read.  A seperation of state from the church exists not the other way around.

Wow. Are you channeling GOP? You're in geocentrism/guts-to-gametes territory now.

What exactly do you think you're saying? The state has to be separate from the church, but the church doesn't have to be separate from the state?

This is one of the most surreal statements I've read on this board.

If, like me, you read the Constitution as the specific rights listed then there is only a restriction upon Congress in how they may proceed concerning the establishment of religion.  The intent was laid out in that famous letter from Jefferson, that was used wrongly, stating that the Congress would not attempt to govern the affairs of the church and there would be no state church, a reference to the Anglican Church of England.  Since then, this imaginary wall has been used in an attempt to remove religious actions and practices from the public under the justification that somehowthis constitutes the states establishing a religion. Crazy.  I'll agree with GCT that this has affected Christianity but I think that just stems from the fact that it is the majority religion.

Someone asked the question about Sharia Law and I'm not sure I understand the relationship here.  If a law is enacted by a state, does it matter the source of the law?  The court has already acknowledged foreign sources in opinions.  What's the difference, if not largely semantics?  Don't get me wrong, I don't like it, but it may not necessarily constitute establishment.  Christmas is a federal holiday; is that the same as establishment?  I don't think so.

Date: 2007/04/08 10:09:35, Link
Author: skeptic
This is pointless.  You guys just continue on and fill in my responses on your own as you clearly have no idea what I'm talking about.

Date: 2007/04/09 07:35:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Thank you, Louis, I needed a good laugh to start Monday off on a good note.

Date: 2007/04/09 15:38:14, Link
Author: skeptic
I see you've had fun today.  I'm glad we can all find enjoyment from the same experience.  I thought I'd better clear up one misunderstanding even though it offered me a hearty laugh this morning.  Apologize, indeed!

When I mentioned your limitless strawman farm I was referring to number of times you throw the term around.  I didn't count them but a quick view from just the beginning of this thread indicates you must be or know a good many farmers.

Now as to the great many requests for answers, explanations and other required homework, well that's just not going to happen.  I was thinking about this the other night and as I was reviewing Establishment and Equal Protection I suddenly threw up my hands and said, "No more."  The reason became clear to me.  I couldn't see wasting any more time on a subject that I'm not even that interested in with no gain in sight.  You see, the truth of the matter is, that this site is not a debating society.  In fact, we barely manage civil discussion on most occassions.  I would be insane if I were to believe that I'm ever going to change any minds here.

Date: 2007/04/09 15:52:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry for the continuation, but Jehovah's Witness just came to the door and we had to have a long talk.

Anyway, I can make a single statement here and it is pounced upon by four or five at a time.  Now this is not a real issue if I'm actually passionate about what I'm talking about but in this case I'm not.

GCT can continue to feel opressed, Lenny can continue to search for the Unified Conspiracy, and qetzal can continue to fail to understand that the Constitution is a restriction upon government not upon people.  Nothing I say here will change any of that.  Oh yeah, and you can continue to believe that "strong atheism" only wants religion to occupy a non-favored position in society.  I'll just continue to enjoy the humor along the way.

But on a serious note, I will reaffirm that I believe the most Current Theory to be flawed, fundamentally, but I look forward to a paradigm shift if I have the pleasure to be alive to see it.  But don't get your panties in a bunch, that's a topic for a different thread.

Date: 2007/04/09 18:49:57, Link
Author: skeptic
GCT, you've sparked my interest.  What constitutes having religion "shoved down" your throat?  For example:

Nearly every Sunday a NASCAR race is broadcast on nation television.  Before each race an innvocation is given to ask for protection for the drivers, their crews, etc.  These prayers are distinctly Christian and I would contend decidecly evangelical in nature.

Now the FCC controls and monitors the public airwaves and the purpose of this event is not (supposedly) religious in nature.  Does this constitute endorsement by the FCC for allowing this behavior on the public airwaves?  And if so, does this violate the Establishment clause?  How does this event differ from a high school football game or graduation?  And, most importantly, are you offended and feel oppressed by this event?  Just some questions that popped into my head.  Feel free to answer them if you so desire but this just gives you an impression of how I view this issue.

Date: 2007/04/09 19:53:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (qetzal @ April 09 2007,19:04)
You know, I would agree with you if your point was that(some) strong atheists want to abolish religion. What fraction, I have no idea. (Although numerically, I'd bet there are far more people in the US who want to abolish atheism and all non-Christian religions.)

One other thing for you to consider, if you're able. Some people are religious and strong atheists at the same time! Not everyone who wants to practice their religion in peace believes in a god.

I agree completely on all points.

Date: 2007/04/09 20:02:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (GCT @ April 09 2007,19:18)
Quote (skeptic @ April 09 2007,19:49)
GCT, you've sparked my interest.  What constitutes having religion "shoved down" your throat?  For example:

Nearly every Sunday a NASCAR race is broadcast on nation television.  Before each race an innvocation is given to ask for protection for the drivers, their crews, etc.  These prayers are distinctly Christian and I would contend decidecly evangelical in nature.

Now the FCC controls and monitors the public airwaves and the purpose of this event is not (supposedly) religious in nature.  Does this constitute endorsement by the FCC for allowing this behavior on the public airwaves?  And if so, does this violate the Establishment clause?  How does this event differ from a high school football game or graduation?  And, most importantly, are you offended and feel oppressed by this event?  Just some questions that popped into my head.  Feel free to answer them if you so desire but this just gives you an impression of how I view this issue.

That's a tough question.  I'm not familiar enough with the structure of NASCAR to answer that question with certainty.  Are they an employer?  If so, then they would be discriminating against all non-Christian employees, and that would be a crime.  If the drivers themselves get together to pray for themselves, more power to them.

Schools are public entities and therefore can not have prayers before football games.

Now, will you answer any of the myriad questions that have been asked of you?

It does seem to be a fine line and that's why I picked that example.  NASCAR is a publically held corporation as are many school corporations.  Schools receive state and federal funds and NASCAR may not (I'm not sure if tax abatement counts) so that may be the distinction.  I do know that in many instances even student led prayer is not allowed.

So, fair enough, what question are you most interested in?  Turn about is fair play.

Date: 2007/04/09 21:42:32, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry to come late to the party but I'm confused.  I missed soemthing over the last few months.  Was AFDave banned?  Is Ftk a real person or just Dave's new name?  What's the website that keeps getting referenced?  Sorry, again, I should be up of these things but I'm not and I'd like to know a little more before I participate because if this is just Dave Part2 I think I'll pass.

Date: 2007/04/10 08:56:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, Louis.  The simple fact is you're rude and you try to justify this behavior by pointing at the so-called dishonesty of others.  I remember this game even though I last played it in the third grade.  Posters are not attaked because they are dishonest or cause you to loose control and descend in incivility.  They are attacked because they voice an opposing viewpoint, pure and simple.  Your mind can not be changed by me because you have no respect for me and were I present an argument with supporting evidence that would surely stand up outside of this forum it would still be attacked. Of that I have no doubt.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not complaining.  I'm a big boy and I know what I'm getting into when I come here.  I think I'm here for the same reason as most: entertainment sprinkled with an occasional good reference that I wouldn't have normally seen.  This is not a debating society nor even a really good topic discussion.  Let's just be honest about what we're really doing here.

Date: 2007/04/10 17:56:41, Link
Author: skeptic
Stevie, just wanted to point out that it is not so cut and dried when it comes to animal models.  It largely depends upon what system you're looking at.  Nervous system seems to favor canines, behavior - primates, long term oncology is still mice and rats (unless something has changed very recently).  Oddly enough, one of the best complete models is actually the pig, but swine are a pain is the @%! to manage in long term studies.  Just my 2 cents, not that it is relevant to ftk's issues.

Date: 2007/04/10 18:04:50, Link
Author: skeptic
GCT, I know I'm not an authority but I can not recall the ACLU EVER fighting for a student's right to pray.  I'm going to have to do alittle research on that one.

Louis, I can see the ropa dope coming but like an idiot I'm walking right into it.  I'm gonna take a look at your argument and restate it for you.  What a sucker I am...

Well that didn't take so long.  Religion very bad / Atheism very Good!!! :D

No, just kidding!!! if I'm going to do this I've got to have some fun.  This won't take too long...

Date: 2007/04/11 09:23:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Very intersting, I'm going to have to look that one up.  My experience comes from controlled studies so I was not aware of this instance.  Thanks for the reference, I'll give it a look.

Date: 2007/04/11 19:32:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis wrote:


What IS the problem as I've said, is the assumption of absolute moral authority, the assumption of state homogeneity as superior to the rights of the individual, the assumption that totalitarian control is necessary. As it happens religions of all stripes (apart from some confuscian, buddhist, shinto and taoist things off the top of my head) esp those which have a patriarchal hierarchy or a priestly hierarchy directly feed into these sorts of problems. Theocracies are directly derived from the teachings of a religion. Atheism has none of these characteristics, it is simply the lack of belief in a deity. Religious societies don't HAVE to become theocracies, that would be a ridiculous thing to say, but within the ideologies of many religions are the tools for totalitarianism, just like within the ideologies of certain types of communism etc. That's also not to say these religions and ideas are BAD per se, just a recognition of the fact that the reliance on an authoritarian structure or ideology predisposes misuse of that structure or ideology for totalitarian ends.

Liberal secularism does away with this, it fits well with democracy and a meritocratic state and indeed flows directly from the very philosophies from which those things are derived. No religion is legally or socially preferred, nor are they eradicated, they are relegated to the same realm as politics: the personal sphere. You want a fair state? Stop preferring one religion, one group, over all others. It's not rocket science. State secularism is a positive benefit, an increasingly secular Europe gave us the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and every aspect of the modern world (most of which they pinched from the ancient Greeks!) we enjoy today. Sure much of the Judeo-Christian tradition of Europe helped pave the way, in just the same way that the Islamic tradition of the middle east paved the way for their "enlightenment" centuries earlier. What went wrong was the return to the state of affairs before the proto-secularist systems arose. It wasn't a coincidence that the absolutist, dogmatic adherence to religions across the world subsided PRIOR to episodes like the Enlightenment. The secularisation (partial, gradual, incremental) of states permitted "heresies" and questions which directly produced the good bits of society we like today.

Ok, let's start here.  I think this about sums it up and will be more than is necessary  to continue this discussion.  I'm just going to sum this up and make no comments because I believe that will come and I have limited time.

Religion, by virtue of it's hierarchal structure and reliance upon an absolute moral authority, is predisposed towards totalitarian governments.  Maybe predisposed is too strong a term but they certainly possess all the tools necessary for a totalitarian state.  This does not men that religious societies must progress towards an oppressive state but the potential is there.  Atheism does not fall into this trap as atheism is simply the lack of belief in a God an thus has no absolute moral authority and no hierarchy.

In contrast, liberal secularism is a perfect fit for democratic states and more closely represents the ideals upon which they were founded.  This is not to say that religious societies have not contributed to the advancement of reason, as they have preceded Enlightenment-esque periods.  These societies acted in more of a setup role; preparing the societies as Reason took hold and advancement ensued.  The rise of Reason may be a direct rebellion against these restrictive societies which. This describes a cause and effect situation in which oppressive theist regimes invite examination of freedoms and questions of religious doctrines that amount to “heresies” to the establishment.  As these questions continue the Truth becomes evident and a movement towards a more liberal secular society occurs.  The creation of more “fair” states occurs as this process reduces religion to one of a number of equal personal philosophies, none of which are allowed to gain prominence a subsequently repress any of the others.

That's the quick nutshell as I see it.  Let me know where I've gone wrong or misinterpreted what you've said.

Date: 2007/04/11 19:42:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Wesley R. Elsberry @ April 11 2007,19:22)
I have a method for dishonesty detection...

Premise 1. Person A claims that we should accept what they say because they have expertise in the topic ("I've studied this for a long time" counts).

Premise 2. Person A spouts demonstrably false nonsense about the topic.

Conclusion: Person A is lying. There is some ambiguity over whether Person A is lying about being an expert, or lying concerning the topic, but there is no doubt that one of those situations is in play.

Not that I completely disagree with you but I would propose an alternate scenario that disrupts this detection method.

Premise 1:  The person states they have some expertise and has studied this topic extensively.  (The source of their studies and the information they've digested runs counter to accepted theories or the common concensus of the discussion participants).

Premise 2:  Said individual spouts false statements according to accepted theory or board concensus.  (The statements made are absolutely believed by the individual given their past experience and sources of information.)

In this case the individual is not a liar, just well outside the accepted norm, quite possibly misled by the information that they are using to develop their "expertise".

In short, IMO this "liar" label is thrown around too much and possibly without cause.

Date: 2007/04/11 19:49:46, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm confused, Louis?  How does he know what?  That mutations spanning millions of years cannot be reproduced in the lab?  That he would even dare to make a comment?  What?

and yes, Behe is a catholic.

Date: 2007/04/20 17:07:58, Link
Author: skeptic
and this has what to do with evolution?

Date: 2007/04/20 20:36:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, I always find it amusing when I listen to your rant because in my world the threat to personal freedoms and individual autonomy comes from the lunatic left.  How ironic.

And, for the record, the problem I have with the global warming movement is the hysteria and the utter lack of perspective.

Date: 2007/04/20 22:29:45, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (IanBrown_101 @ April 20 2007,21:05)
Quote (skeptic @ April 20 2007,20:36)
Lenny, I always find it amusing when I listen to your rant because in my world the threat to personal freedoms and individual autonomy comes from the lunatic left.  How ironic.

And, for the record, the problem I have with the global warming movement is the hysteria and the utter lack of perspective.

Just what "Lunatic left" do you see?

I am correct in saying you come from the US, yes?

If this is incorrect I do appologise, but if it IS correct may I inform you there IS no left in the US at all. Just varying shades of the right wing and a few centralists who get branded as "Left" because everything else is so skewed.

Sure, there's one or two leftists in the legislature, and a small number within the electorate, but they have sod all voice, because anything even SLIGHTLY approaching REAL left wing politics is shouted down as being communistic. As a student of international politics I've studied US policy in detail, and the closest thing you EVER had to a left winger since the second world war was JFK, and he got shot.

You and Lenny should have a wonderful conversation.  Just to be clear, though, today JFK would be a centrist republican not a lefty.

Date: 2007/04/21 11:25:10, Link
Author: skeptic
Steve, you're kidding, right?  Kicking this to the wall?  Certainly seems to be different standards being applied here.

Date: 2007/04/21 13:27:02, Link
Author: skeptic
anti-FDA regulations?  what in the world are you talking about?  sometimes I wonder if you're all there.

Date: 2007/04/21 14:09:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, that's not just a simple yes or no question.  It depends upon what you mean by separation of church and state but I will give you a simple answer anyway.  I consider those people who accept the separation of church and state as it is presently described to be uninformed.  There you go, that ought to give you plenty to chew on for the next day or two.  Oh, and by the way, watch out for that monster under your bed...or is he in the closet?  I forget; it's been so long since I believed in those childhood superstitions.

Date: 2007/04/21 14:48:34, Link
Author: skeptic
oh, Lenny, I still find you amusing even when you have no idea what you're talking about.  I mean this in specific regard to you assumptions as to what I think so don't think that I don't value some of your opinions.  

In the case of the Japanese, it was an expertly planned and executed attack and entirely justified based upon their strategic goals.  It was actually only by dumb luck that we were able to rebound at a later point or the battle for the South Pacific would have been entirely different.

Date: 2007/04/21 21:55:13, Link
Author: skeptic
You need to go back and read about the battle of Midway.  If after that you still think the US fleet was not lucky then...well I'm not sure what I can say about that level of bias.

Date: 2007/04/22 00:40:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, do you even know what an aircraft carrier is?  I think I see 33 here but maybe that adds up to 137 for you.

wwII aircraft carriers

I'm sure you have a reason why you're right because you know everything about everything.  What is that reason, please?  Just so I don't lose faith in your knowledge.

Date: 2007/04/22 00:52:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (stevestory @ April 21 2007,23:15)
Quote (skeptic @ April 21 2007,12:25)
Steve, you're kidding, right?  Kicking this to the wall?  Certainly seems to be different standards being applied here.

Referring to some people here as 'you raving morons' violates the respectfulness requirement. Pretty cut and dried.

If someone's doing that to you, you're welcome to send me a PM alerting me to the offense.

"Raving morons" is a term of endearment and a statement of the philosophical stance.  "Raving" refers to the hysterical nature of this adherance to the belief that the world is coming to an end and there is something we can do to stop like changing light bulbs or some other such nonsense.  "Morons" reflects the blind regurgitation of unsubstantiated data to support this "raving" hysteria.

As to the other, there is no respectfulness on this board and there never really has been, at least where I'm concerned.  You can go back and read about 90% of the responses to me and see that plain as day.  If what you're really saying is that I should keep my mouth shut and let my betters correct me in whatever fashion they deem appropriate, well that's fine, I know my place.  But if you're seriously trying to apply some standard then you might want to go back and review other posts and reevaluate that goal.

Date: 2007/04/22 07:55:34, Link
Author: skeptic

This is what happens when someone actually knows what they're talking about and has , maybe, served in the Navy as opposed to relying on Wikipedia and little cardboard cutouts.  Oh well, I'm not really surprised.

Date: 2007/04/22 10:45:53, Link
Author: skeptic
the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, or so I've heard...

Date: 2007/04/22 13:52:16, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm a bronze star winner.  Do you believe that?  Does it make any difference?  Is there a correct answer?  I don't think there is but if you want to take my refusal to answer to mean anything how about that I have more important things to do than answer inane questions.  Anything more than that is pure assumption on your part to conveniently match your preconceived notions.

Date: 2007/04/22 19:51:04, Link
Author: skeptic
The question is whether "In God we trust" constitutes establishment.  I will say no and I assume most here will say yes.  What a shock.

Date: 2007/04/23 07:51:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Thought, we could go on and on about this for hours but the simple truth is we don't agree on what the 1st Amendment says.  Period.  I could propose 2 different interpretations of "respecting" (i.e. "in respect of" or "in respect to") and we could argue about just that for days.  Tedious.

Lenny, I would say that "in God we trust" is more of a historical and cultural statement rather than a religious one and that is why "in Allah we trust" or something else is just not accurate and would not be endorsed by the country.  It comes down to demographics.

Arden, hear, hear!

Date: 2007/04/23 16:44:18, Link
Author: skeptic
"people like me..."

Yes, I'm so glad we can have this open and productive discussion.  It's such a wonderful use of my time.

Date: 2007/04/23 20:56:36, Link
Author: skeptic
The point was would Lenny believe it and would it make any difference coming from me.  I'm not really a bronze Star recipient.

Date: 2007/04/23 21:01:25, Link
Author: skeptic
blah blah blabbity blah.

There you go, insert appropriate comment here followed by out of context insult.

I think that just about covers it.

Date: 2007/04/23 22:11:30, Link
Author: skeptic
No, Lenny, as usual you are wrong.  The point was to show that it doesn't matter what I say or who I am, you have your own mind made up.  I have no intention of wasting my time in fruitless attempts to enlighten, I'm sure you feel the same.

Date: 2007/04/24 00:48:16, Link
Author: skeptic
you're being purposefully dense at this point, aren't you?

Date: 2007/04/25 18:32:59, Link
Author: skeptic
Somewhat off subject, but I wanted to add a quick movie review.  I saw Children of Men last night and I thought it was fantastic.  It was somewhat disturbing and alittle gratuitous in the specific shots but very compelling and enjoyable.  That being said I'm not sure I could recommend this movie to you, Lenny.  If you haven't already seen it I would advise caution as it may depress or even horrify you, as for everyone else, enjoy.  My two cents...

Date: 2007/04/26 22:40:39, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I'm not sure I even want to step into the middle of this but I've got a job to do.  First thing, no apology needed, I never feared you wouldn't hold up your end of the deal.  One thing we have in common is that we're both very busy.  And to that end I'm going to have to make an assumption (I know, bad idea) in my response.  I can look at it two ways, in the areas where I disagree with your analysis, it is due to 1) you misunderstood what I said, or 2) I didn't clearly communicate what I intended to.  For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume #2.  Also, for the sake of time, I'm just going to address your restatements of my comments rather than going back and rereading everything (whereever possible).  So here goes:

1) To most AtBCers/atheists religion, and specifically christianity, is the root of all evil.

I certainly over-generalized here but I would have to hedge this by saying maybe not the root of ALL but a major contributor.  Rereading that did bring a question to me, do atheists even believe in Evil?  and I specifically mean Evil as opposed to evil.  Probably a discussion in and of itself but it did sound like an interesting question to me.

2)Most AtBCers/athiests are unable to entertain any other concept of religion/christianity than that expressed in a).

I'm sure there is something good that atheists can say about religion and/or christianity, I just don't recall hearing it.  Could just be my bad memory...

3) The argument [between atheists and theists] is pointless because it is only "horse trading" of examples, i.e. if a christian does bad the StBCers/atheists point it out and (possibly) ignore an atheist doing bad and vice versa.

pretty much.  we tend to see what we want to see

4) Religion has positive influences on society.

I had trouble finding a reference to this but I would assume so.  The problem is this is most likely subjective and as such some people would disagree

5) Secular democracies don't exist without a religious history or surrounding.infiltrating religious influences.

from a historical perspective this has been the case, I believe, which is not to say that it could not happen, I just don't think we have an example we can point to

6) We at AtBC cannot say anything about the secular or religious nature of progress during the Enlightenment, we should consult an expert.

this just might be a more complex question and would benefit from an expert perspective, but we can certainly say anything we want.  

7) Atheism, especially "radical" atheism, is dogmatically anti-religion.

yes.  I'm sure we'll address this later so I'll leave it at that.

8) Atheism has a belief system, influences and preachers and is a religion.

same as above

9) The central claim of atheism cannot be supported in any quantitative way and is a matter of faith.


10) If religion can do harm so can atheism because they are both ideas humans have and humans do harm.

yes, ideas and guns don't kill people, people kill people

11) The supernatural is beyond the bounds of reason or measure.

yes by definition

12) A statement about the empirical nature of god is a statement of faith, therefore a religion.

basically there is no empirical basis for God and statements of this nature are actually statements of faith and thus fall into the arena of religion

13) Whether or not something is a religion is decided by the level of social organisation or acceptance it has.

the difference between cult and religion is acceptance and organization

14) Atheism has some emotional or spiritual value or significance. This must be the case otherwise people would not adhere or subscribe to it.


15) Atheism is linked to humanism, belief in personal authority, and mistakenly to rational thought.


16) No empirical test of god is possible (similar to but not identical to 11) )


17) Atheists reject irrational faith in religion in order to feel smarter and unembarrassed at cocktail parties.

cheap shot, I know, actually see #14

18) Atheism = the belief that there is no god, that everything is the result of the laws of nature, and that givenn time science/technology/human endeavour will wipe away residual myths and reveal this to be true.


19) Atheism versus christinaity/any religion, is merely the attempt to replace one religion with another.

yes and to test this replace 'religion' in the statement above with 'belief system', now does it sound so objectionable?  (I actually do know the objection that will be made but I'll wait to see who offers it)

all in all not bad

By the way, I was curious, am I the liar, hypocrite or the terminally stupid?

and just to be clear, I don't find you contemptable, just sometimes unrestrained in your 'colorful' rhetoric

Date: 2007/04/26 22:48:33, Link
Author: skeptic
again an antagonism between science and theism is constructed which shouldn't be possible since they don't even speak the same language

Date: 2007/04/26 23:35:01, Link
Author: skeptic
who am I critisizing here?  obviously Mr. Cunningham!  care to shut your trap now, Ichy?

Date: 2007/04/27 14:20:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I'll begin with 1), as I believe you intended, and start working on 2) which will take some time in order to give an appropriate answer and do it justice.  I'm afraid at some point we will actually be having two conversations at the same time but I believe they will closely coincide as our points of contention are similiar.

Date: 2007/04/27 14:34:01, Link
Author: skeptic
3) Liberal secularism is not a "perfect fit" for democracy, it is a logical result of the very process of democracy. How can one have a "government by the people for the people" when by definition some of those people have a self proclaimed revelatory hotline to a deity and morality that others don't by definition?

After having looked back, I'm actually going to only focus on one point because I see that there will be alot of overlap around many of the others or discussion in on point will overflow into others.

I'm interested in the above comment because I'm biased towards the US justification of democracy as laid out in the Declaration of Independance.  I'm intrigued by your belief that secularism is the logical result of democracy if theism may be a potential progenitor to democracy (my thought)?  Just like a little more meat on this bone if you please.

Date: 2007/04/28 08:27:34, Link
Author: skeptic
While I appreciate the background, Lenny, let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.  We're dealing with generic democracy and whether secularism is the logical result.  I wanted to acknowledge my bias up front since Louis and I will be approaching this question from slightly different directions and I'm going to limit my reference to the Declaration of Independance.  The Constitution deals with the structure of a specific democracy (per se) and I think we'll want to stay more general than that, at least for now.

Ichy, this is an honest attempt by Louis and I to raise the level of dialogue and have a productive conversation.  So, I would ask that you try to keep you're useless comments to yourself but you are more than welcome to contribute constructively.

Date: 2007/04/29 22:17:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, thanks for the suggestion.  I went back and looked at the Declaration of the Rights of Man and it helped me greatly.  Again, I want to clarify, this is Louis' statement and one that I was interested in so I'll await his rationalization before continuing.  You never know he may have a compeling argument and I might agree with him.  Let's wait and see, shall we.

Date: 2007/04/30 08:02:41, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, working on 7 right now.

Date: 2007/04/30 14:32:27, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ April 30 2007,09:46)

My hobby of GoP baiting aside, you'll be glad to know I'm reading a book this evening (more accurately SOME of a book!) about the very topic of democracy. Work in progress!


lol, very appropriate as I am currently reading (some of) two books on atheism.  :)

Date: 2007/05/02 19:02:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry to interject here guys, as I see that you are having great fun, but I thought I'd steer us back on topic alittle.  Actually, I wanted to get some comments out there to get the ball rolling because I found myself reading much more of the material than I thought I would.

For reference, I'm reading George H. Smith's Why Atheism? and also I'll be looking at Martin and Monnier's The Impossibility of God.  I thought I'd just browse Smith and deal extensively with M&M but once involved I found out different.

First to restate the question:

Atheism, especially "radical" atheism, is dogmatically anti-religion.

Smith reviewed the definition of atheism and highlighted two possible choices. 1) "positive" atheism in with the assertion is that there is no God and 2) the more literal definition, without God or to be more exact without a belief in God.  Now I had intended to focus upon 1) and argue that in making the assertion atheists must tear down the belief in God by pointing out the fact that God does not exist and this would make them inherently anti-religious.  Smith disabused me of that option by pointing out that this is the easy way out, this argument represent a "bugaboo" (a strawman, I assume) and that most serious atheists do not espouse this belief.  I will take issue with this later because we are mostly talking about the "radical" atheists but for the sake of argument I'm going to focus on 2).

I've got a bit more reading to do but I did want to lay out my basic premise on this point.  By this definition, atheism represents a lack of belief in God and thereby a lack of belief in religion.  No problem there because it is at the individual or personal level.  At the level of society, though, there is a shift from the individual to the collective.  The ideal atheist society is one in which there is no influence of religion upon the collective or the individual.  To be exact, a society without religion.  Should this come about or exist originally then we still have no real issue and the concept of freedom of or from religion still exists.  The problem arises because, for one, we are talking about "radical" atheists and secondly most societies exists is a theistic environment and so to acheive the ideal this religions must be dismantled in order to produce the society without belief or religion.  

That's the start and I'll be back with more to follow.

Two quick notes:

Lenny, I don't believe I ever mentioned the Divine Right of Kings.  Remember this is Louis' question to address and I doubt if that is on his agenda.  If he does then I'm sure we'll discuss but I'm going to try to stay on point as much as possible.

GoP, Ichy most certainly considers me a troll (or worse) so I don't think you'll get any justification coming from him.

Date: 2007/05/02 22:04:40, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, again, I think you're mistaken.  It is not my thesis that democracy is the inherent result of theism, it is Louis' thesis that liberal secularism is the result of democracy.  I'm interested in hearing his reasoning behind that.  So, again, I say hold your horses and just as an aside I don't think we can lay the Divine Right of Kings at the feet of Christian Europe as it certainly predates that in concept at least back to ancient Egypt and maybe before.

GoP, just for the sake as this question I've chosen to focus on scenario 2 but I will surely get in to scenario 1 as analysis of my comments continue.

Date: 2007/05/02 23:57:26, Link
Author: skeptic
In no way whatso ever does it apply as far as I know but Lenny is keen on this being a major issue so I just thought I'd throw that out there.

Date: 2007/05/05 07:09:10, Link
Author: skeptic
Alright, we've all stated our cases and as much as I enjoy the interlude between Louis and I posting, I 'm going to propose a truce.  GoP you begin to post sincerely and ignore those who chose not believe you, as you said you don't care what they think anyway.  Others, accept GoP's posts until or if he proves otherwise and those that can't stomach the proposal kindly sit on the sidelines and watch.  (wow, I feel like Rice in Egypt).

I know many are saying, "What's the point?  There's no chance that they'll trust me/he'll contribute sincerely."  To that I have to say to Louis that I was wrong.  I stated that this was not a debating society and no real meaningful discussion was expected or attempted.  Actually, our little experiment has pleased me greatly and I do believe the tone of conversation has altered, at least in those associated posts.  I agree it will be slow going which is not a bad thing but I think you've hit on a real possibility here, Louis.

So, that's my suggestion.  What do we really have to lose?  Either the conversations get better as Louis has already proven they can or we're right back here where we started (I don't believe it can get any worse).

Date: 2007/05/05 09:38:07, Link
Author: skeptic
GoP, that reminds me.  What happened to Eric?

Date: 2007/05/07 18:48:10, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry for the long delay but life has been very busy lately.  So here we go.

First, I have to point out something that Louis alluded to.  I picked my reference material without any prior knowledge of their applicability.  Smith was touted on the cover as the definitive modern interpretation of atheism so I selected it.  I’m not in atheist circles so I have no real idea if his book captures modern atheist thought.  I have to start somewhere and I’m sure you guys will keep me well informed where I err.

Smith agrees with you, Louis, and spends a good deal of the introduction highlighting the difference between a lack of belief and the Christian propaganda of anti-theism or anti-religion.  He adds an historical perspective that I found interesting but was determined that the root of any anti-theistic connotations stem from an active Christian crusade to paint atheists in that light.  Essentially, he’s saying “It’s them, not us.”

So then he goes on to lay out the case for atheism.  The goal here for the next 60 or so pages is to defend the atheist position as a rational, reasoned and valid position.  This is certainly in light of his feeling that Christians don’t even take the atheist position seriously and if they did there would be a higher rate of deconversion.  How does he do this?  He attempts to systematically dismantle belief in God and move the burden of proof to the Christian.  In short, he’s saying “you’re wrong unless you prove to me that you’re right.”

I can hear the screaming already but stay with me for a second and I’ll try to address your objections.  Religion (or in Smith’s case, Christianity) makes the positive statement, “God exists.”  His understanding of atheism refuses to dispute that with a “God doesn’t exist” statement.  That would put the burden of proof squarely upon both statements.  But how do you define a “lack of” belief?  Does atheism mean anything at all if there is no such thing as theism?  Consider this scenario:

Man A: “God exists.”

Man B: “I don’t believe in God.”

Now, in a world with no theism:

Man B: “I don’t believe in God.”

Man A: “Who’s God?”

A philosophy based upon an absence of belief begs the question, “a belief in what?”  Smith lays out the case for this lack of belief by pointing out the fallacies of the notion of belief.  We can argue semantics at this point.  You may say that he’s just pointing out a valid position for atheists so they can be included in the discussion.  Actually, his intent, as I see it, is to reduce the theistic argument to nonsense so that any atheist will feel confident with their position and any reasonable Christian will have to question their faith.  This is clearly anti-theistic.

Anti-religion is displayed in his repeated and exclusive reference to Christianity.  That is his target and example in all arguments.  His enmity, as he explains it, comes from the fact that he once was a Christian and feels lied to and misled.  He is definitely anti-Christian and one wonders how much of his motivation stems from this basis.

I understand that I’m highlighting just one individual and I don’t want to over generalize so next I’m going to attempt to bridge some of his sentiments with the atheist community in the US.  I also want to look at the question of what is a “radical” atheist?  I think that’s a really good question and I think we should come to an agreed upon definition before moving on to some of the later questions.

Til then this ought to get the ball rolling.

Date: 2007/05/07 22:06:44, Link
Author: skeptic
In fact, Smith uses Santa Claus as his example.  The burden of proof seems to be a strong position and could be a final position but he spoils that and continues. Could be he wants to cover all his bases or just make sure that he satisfies any atheist out there that may not be completely sold on the burden of proof argument.  But in doing so he slips back into the proving religion wrong mode and I think that is his mistake.

Date: 2007/05/08 00:18:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Is christianity fundamentally democratic?

Date: 2007/05/09 18:05:16, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (The Ghost of Paley @ May 08 2007,20:30)
Nonetheless, any barrier to formation is bad news for science regardless of the source.

GoP, I've got to take issue with this statement.  Science is a methodology.  Any new information or data does not mean bad news, it can't mean anything.  If anything it reinforces the fact that the methodology works.

Date: 2007/05/11 18:11:34, Link
Author: skeptic
hmm, I wonder if the bull's eye has

Date: 2007/05/11 18:18:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Oh No, Louis!  You just sidetracked me.  I will probably spend hours on this.  Thanks for the post, though, this is wonderful stuff.

Date: 2007/05/13 22:56:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you've definitely outed me and I'll admit to semi-wood.  50 ng was the kicker!

Ftk, if you're still there, go ahead and ask any serious questions to Louis.  He'll answer them and maybe with only a minimum of colorful adjectives.  Or you could ask me and I'll include no adjectives.  As for the rest, you'll just have to accept that they'll stand-by and comment as they see fit.  My advice is to ignore the extraneous stuff and stay on topic.  All knowledge comes with sacrifice so just consider this your trial, if you're really interested in learning about this topic and science in general.  Good luck and I hope you try, it will be to your benefit and it is certainly worth some harsh words.

whew, 50 ng...!

Date: 2007/05/13 23:41:57, Link
Author: skeptic
with all sincerity, would I be able to contribute?  I know I don't tow the party line here but I find the idea very interesting.  I've often thought of starting my own blog but I couldn't maintain enough content to make it worthwhile but as one of many contributors that would take care of itself.  I would even recommend, rather than a moderator, something akin to an editor.  Contributions could be submitted and evaluated just on a basic level of acceptability, in other words, strictly science and then the comments could discuss the actual content.  Nothing really heavy-handed, mind you, just enough oversight to keep this from getting into a flame fight.  That should preserve the focus and purpose of the blog.

Listen to me, acting like I'd actually be involved, lol.  But, yes, I would definitely read it.  That's my vote.

Date: 2007/05/14 00:32:42, Link
Author: skeptic
Have you got a synthesis, or even just a summarized version, of the massivetoxin (my name, lol)?  It defys belief that this is a fortuitous byproduct and not the primary product.  Isn't nature wonderful.

Date: 2007/05/14 07:47:45, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, thanks for the references.  I have access to all but the online journal but the others should satisfy my curiousity.  Synthesis is something I find very interesting but I've struggled with (which is probably why I find it so interesting).

As far as my background, I have BSs in Chem and Computer Sci and MS in Medicinal Chem.  I've been away from the bench for about five years now.  Before that I did toxicology and environmental impact studies on industrial and pharmaceutical products and now I model toxicology and biologic activity.  All computer work and no lab play sometimes makes skeptic a sad boy.  Just to be fair, though, I do love what I do.

I'm still interested in the debate idea.  I think there are so many positives that can come from it even though my inner chemistry nerd would probably have more fun on this thread.

Ichy, what??? *with wide-eyed innocence*
I'm pretty sure that I can answer any question Ftk asks and even to your satisfaction.  And I can guarentee that I'll use a minimum of colorful adjectives.   :D

Date: 2007/05/14 20:54:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ May 14 2007,08:21)


P.S. Only Semi-Wood? Might I suggest a few hundred mg of the citric acid salt of this compound:

mix that with some of this and the kids go crazy:

Date: 2007/05/15 13:45:24, Link
Author: skeptic
what can we say, chemistry jokes. lol

Date: 2007/05/15 22:14:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, how inspiring.  I don't think you'll ever be mistaken for an optimist.  :D

Date: 2007/05/16 00:33:50, Link
Author: skeptic
Not that I completely disagree with you but you might want to consider how much of the general public is aware of the actions of the court.  Even in so-called high profile cases I would guess that only those that are specifically interested would be paying attention.  I'd be interested to see a poll that asked the average citizen what the Dover decision was.  I bet most would be hard-pressed to answer that correctly.

If I were to offer a theory I would say that trust has much more to do with it than ideology.  Consider average Joe and where he gets his information.  He's more likely to accept ideas from his family, community members, clergy than impersonal media sources or unknown scientists.  Couple that with unfamiliarity with science in general and you get an individual who is more likely to accept an explanation from average Bob on the golf course than from a peer-reviewed journal or even a popular science magazine.  Just as an example, and I know we deplore anecdotal, I overheard a conversation at McDonald's in which one elderly gentleman told his friend that vioxx was taken off the market in order to make more money off people like him when the next drug was introduced.  That story got nothing but agreement from his companion.  

maybe the "hearts and minds" concept is appropriate because to affect the mind you have to win over the heart.  Just a thought.

Date: 2007/05/16 08:09:45, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ May 16 2007,07:24)
Creationism is a political movement, and it ebbs and flows as the political situation changes.  It's ironic, I think, that Falwell (the one man who did the most to cement the Republicrat--fundie alliance that has dominated US politics for the past 25 years) is dead now, just while the political coalition that he formed is also in the process of dying. The fundies are becoming more and more politically irrelevant.  Kuo's book and others demonstrates that the fundies never had the political influence within the Republicrat Party that we thought they did -- which is why, after six years of single-party Republicrat rule, the fundies got nothign for their trouble.  The Republicrats themselves are about to receive the biggest political thrashing they've gotten since Watergate, and with the Republicrats gone, the fundies are nothing but a sewing circle.  The 25-year reign of the fundies, it looks, is coming to a close.  They will become like the labor movement -- they make lots of speeches, hold lots of rallies, raise lots of money, but accomplish nothing whatever.  They are simply irrelevant.

Lenny, this is so off-base I don't even know where to start.  Creationism starts in children before schools or politics.  It's what they learn first, it's what they understand, it's what they are exposed to constantly.  It is not a political movement! ("This is not a boating accident!" - sorry got alittle carried away there).  It's the default and it's communicated on a much more personal level.

You can dismiss entire sections of the population if you wish, actually according to polls - the majority of the population, but you do so at your own expense.  You ignore what's really happening and what the actual attitudes of people are.  

Politicians do not present ideas, they regurgitate the most popular ideas.  One thing is for sure if you want to convince people of anything I'd put my money on the local barber over any politician.

I'll make you a wager right now Lenny, on '08.  Just a friendly little bet about this so-called landslide defeat.  What do you say?  I think you might be surprised when all is said and done.

Date: 2007/05/16 20:14:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I'm not trying to make a biologic link but given the fact that the vast majority of Americans believe in God (JohnW) the influence on children is tremendous.  They are constantly and initially exposed to creationism (at least the soft form - God created the universe) and it is many years before science education begins.  Of course, I don't believe this to be a bad thing or fatal in terms of science education just the initial condition.  You can look at Wesley and I and see that religion and science can be completely compatible.  (For those that object to my inclusion above just sustitute Miller for me, is that better?)

Ichy, I think you oversimplified all three of those examples.  I'm not saying that court decisions have NO impact.  I would say that they don't have the MOST impact with the general population.  I would support a focus on the heart rather than the mind for the general population and I agree with Wesley and guthrie that educators can (and should) take a
greater role in infusing trust as well as education.

Looking back on this I can see my bias also.  I'm not an activist so I tend to minimize the role of courts on issues.  I'd always prefer that people decide rather than courts when it

comes to anything.   :D

Date: 2007/05/16 20:56:52, Link
Author: skeptic
In simple terms, that's correct.  The initial immune response of IgA and IgG dwindle but the memory B and T cells remain and trigger the immune response at later exposure.

I'm going alittle out on a limb here but I think I recall some autoimmune disorders associated with a hyper-response in which these levels don't dwindle, but don't quote me on that one.

Date: 2007/05/17 01:01:32, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, you presented 3 examples that you and I and all here know about but that's not the public.  They affected the law and future actions but how many of the lay public knew or changed their opinions based upon those cases.  We're talking about hearts and minds not the law and I think that's where the law shows it's lesser impact.  A good survey would be to compare public views about creation both before and after those decisions.  My contention is that those numbers would not change much.

the other statement was addressing Louis' comment and it really stems from the broad usage of "creationism" in this discussion.

I'm not confused...are you?

Date: 2007/05/17 08:25:04, Link
Author: skeptic
LOL Thank you so much for this post.  That's what I love about this board, I learn something new everyday.

Date: 2007/05/17 08:34:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, that is a good question and there's probably a really good intelligent answer but it could be that we're just the biggest loud-mouths in the world.


Actually, that question deserves better but I'm pressed for time at the moment so I'll think on it.  Also, just to banish any concerns (lol), I'm going on vacation starting tomorrow and it will be completely unplugged.  Time for some much needed R&R.  I'll try to catch up as best I can when I return after Memorial Day - the 29th for our friends across the way.  Cheers.

Date: 2007/05/17 12:59:57, Link
Author: skeptic
JohnW, no moving goalposts here.  What do you consider a fundie creationist? hmm?  Somebody who believes in God?  Surely the majority of the US population are not FCs and yet they believe in God.

This term, FC, is just too broad to work for these purposes unless you do think that the majority of the population is made up of moronic fundamentalist creationist (Lou).  If so then useful dialoge on this subject is at an end.

Date: 2007/05/17 15:36:45, Link
Author: skeptic
Here's the most recent I could find:

Newsweek Poll

As Wesley said, less than 50% reject evolution outright, but 48% is terribly close.  In fact, I'd love to see a similar comparison to Europe.  If anyone has that data I think that would be interesting.

But I'm looking at the larger majority and speaking in the context of this board.  For example, go back and read Lenny's post about the fundies and stupid people.  That's what I was originally responding to.  How much of the population is he referring to?  How much of the beliefs of those 90% would qualify them as fundie creationists?  My admonition to him was that you just can not disregard that many people.  Even at the 48% and assuming only adults, you're talking about 100 million card-toting fundie creationists (by this board's defintion).  There is a reason that this many people believe what they believe and I think the labeling these people as stupid and ignoring that reality is non or even counter productive.

Date: 2007/05/17 19:19:17, Link
Author: skeptic
Now wait a minute, I supply evidence and the actual evidence is dismissed because it contradicts the opposing point.  Who does that sound like?  In fact, that actually sounds like a republican talking point, "Polls done by the mainstream media are inherently flawed and poorly worded."  Who am I talking to?

But seriously, you can also look at the Don't Knows that increase dramatically from one question to the next.  What does that mean?  We have to use the available data or present alternate data.  That's the best we can do.

Lou would you consider yourself a radical atheist?  I have a mind to use you as an example in an upcoming debate Louis and I are going to have.

Lenny, that's pretty harsh and arrogant.  If you want affect hearts and minds you can't immediately alienate those very hearts and minds you wish to change.  Think about Lou's question as to why this movement still persists and then thinks of the mega-churches and examine their tactics or messages.  I think you'll see a difference.

Date: 2007/05/17 19:30:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Didn't I read that this was an elective class?  At what point does elective become indoctrination?

Date: 2007/05/17 19:34:28, Link
Author: skeptic
That's why the Founders set up a Representative Republic.  You avoid the messy mob rule of democracy.  I think it's proven to be a pretty good idea.

Date: 2007/05/17 21:30:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm afraid that's not true or at least not Constitutional no matter how much you wish it were.

Date: 2007/05/18 09:48:38, Link
Author: skeptic
Duely noted Lou, from here forward I'll remember that polls conducted by Newsweek are crap.  As for the rest, I'll take that as a yes for demostration purposes only.

Date: 2007/05/29 07:44:05, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ May 29 2007,02:35)
I do hope eventually the meme will breed itself out, but considering that we are still dealing with basic social aspects of racism and homophobia in this country, we still have quite a ways to go before we can safely say creationism is "done".

I'm pretty sure you're not saying this but I just wanted to clarify...are you linking racism and homophobia with creationism?

Date: 2007/05/29 11:55:01, Link
Author: skeptic
AdR, I think you may be confusing design and function.  When you study how something works you study what it does because without that information you can not possibly elucidate design.  I plan to review your articles and I look forward to a lively discussion.

NaM, I'm not sure if you are sincere or just a hopeless charade but you scripture references are obscure at best and certainly make very little sense to the relevant topics.  You're probably just wasting your time here, just a thought to consider.

Date: 2007/05/29 12:00:38, Link
Author: skeptic
So, in essence, people who are prone to creationism are prone to homophobia?  The kind of ignorant generalization just begs for evidence.  Do you have any?

Date: 2007/05/30 00:52:30, Link
Author: skeptic
monkeys didn't evolve into humans else there'd be no monkeys.  try again.

Date: 2007/05/30 19:11:43, Link
Author: skeptic
and if there are no winners and losers then no one will ever excel, there will be no new innovation and there will be very little motivation.  Ask the cheetah if there are no winners and losers, ask the gazelle.  what you are talking about is not only unrealistic but unnatural and it would lead to the same thing for us as for the cheetah: extinction.

Date: 2007/05/30 22:01:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, are you telling me I should literally interpret the Bible?

Date: 2007/05/31 01:47:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, Lenny, there's idealism and then there's reality.  You may choose to live that way but you can not expect or anticipate that all members of the society will.  The only way to ensure that is totalitarianism and I know you aren't proposing that.  It's a paradox.  may look good on paper and feel good in a Kumbaya sort of way but it just flat doesn't work.

Date: 2007/05/31 08:08:33, Link
Author: skeptic
LOL, don't mean to scare you but people can have similar conclusions from different starting points.  It doesn't necessarily mean that we have a lot in common.  But then again, maybe it does... :D

Date: 2007/05/31 08:11:22, Link
Author: skeptic
This position starts from a false premise.  Not even scientific law is 100% correct.

Date: 2007/06/01 07:54:28, Link
Author: skeptic
No, Lenny, what you describe as the solution is idealistic and unrealistic.  What you describe as a solution requires totalitarianism.  What you describe as the current state is biased because you hate capitalism.  What you describe as a solution is not democracy.

Now you've already said that you're not talking about pure forms so no, democracy or representative republic in some form is not unrealistic because it exists.  You're confusing economics and government.

I'm saying that it is a paradox to attempt communism in a democratic government because the two can not coexist.  You must either suspend personal liberty inorder to force the economic restraints on the individual or you must allow capitalistic outcomes.

It is irrelevant that the majority of the world lives in a worse state than you.  Are you on some kind of prosperity strike in support of the poor around the world?  How noble of you but you know what they don't care.  I've been to many so-called poor nations and most people have no idea that some consider them poor and wouldn't describe themselves so.

the problem as I see it that you and so many on the far left have is you want to hate and blame somebody for something.  You hate capitalism and corporations but that really makes no sense because you choose to live that way.  Nobody is holding you down.  Maybe you just want to avoid the limo-liberal tag (which I agree with), but you're walkin the walk for no reason.  You could get a job and improve your living condition, nothing is standing in your way.

Why do liberals hate capitalism? That's what I want to know.  In its fundamental form it's just one guy using his own skills and talents to provide for himself.  If you actually believe in personal liberty what gives anyone the right to take away the fruits of his labor?  Who died and made liberals emperor that they get to decide who can profit and how much and how much is too much and which poor person is entitled to someone else's success and (certainly in this country) which lazy person needs to be on and on.  You want to talk about hippocrisy, this is oppression, pure and simple.  

I know this rambles but it's early and everytime I enter into this discussion I get flustered because an anti-capitalist pro-democracy position just does not logically go together and certainly not fused by hate.

Date: 2007/06/01 09:34:05, Link
Author: skeptic
It sure is an over-generalization to say that all liberals hate capitalism and I'm not saying that but I'm not sure if there's any conservative basis for a dislike of capitalism.  And as to a perfect system, I agree, all things can be improved.  I personally think there's too much govt regulation and involvement in the US economy.  Lol, that ought to give Lenny fits.

As to the debate, whenever you're ready.  I'm just getting back into the swing of things after a much-needed and very satisfying vacation.  Have you got some guidelines in mind?

Date: 2007/06/01 10:49:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Great holiday!  Sat on the beach and by the pool in perfect weather for 8 days with no cell phone and no computer and watched my two little munchkins run around enjoying themselves.  Oh yeah, and my wife was there too, lol.

Sorry, didn't mean to throw that off on you.  I thought you said you had a couple of sites in mind that outlined some managable guidelines.  I'll take a crack at it too and we can compare notes.

Date: 2007/06/01 12:52:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Honestly, I can only assume that he lives the way he does because he wants to and he's amazing free to do so, how convienent.

Date: 2007/06/02 09:51:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Just a quick question, should I tell Bill Gates, Sam Walton and Michael Dell that individual shopkeepers opportunities no longer exist and haven't for the last 100 years?  I'm quite sure they would disagree.

And, yes, I agree you are radical but I love you anyway.  :D

Date: 2007/06/02 16:53:12, Link
Author: skeptic
No, the point was that Dell and Gates both started in their garages and Walton in a store in the middle of nowhere Arkansas.  How's that for shopkeepers?

Date: 2007/06/04 11:53:40, Link
Author: skeptic
It seems that things have been entirely too nice around for a while so I thought it was time to stir things up.  I'm not sure how long this has been out, I must have missed the national fanfare, but I picked up Behe's new book today.

The Edge of Evolution - The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

Dr. Behe and I part ways on many points but I always give him a good read and I thought why not share that with everyone in the process.  Now, I anticipate most here haven't read this book so I'll be doing a service with my summary.  Who knows, maybe we'll hear something new.  :D

Date: 2007/06/09 11:09:24, Link
Author: skeptic
I think it must be pointed out before we go any further that the use of the word "design" is inappropriate in this context.  In an engineering or software design sense when you look at design you are observing the designer's intent.  Why was object-oriented design used in this instance as opposed to top down?  Why was a steam turbine used in this case rather than a gas turbine?  These questions all can be justified by the designer in terms of better efficiency, available resources and so on and that allows the relative value of the design to be assessed.

This is not the case in biological systems.  We can only really assess a few things such as function, composition, and process of formation.  We have no context as to why one "design" was preferred over another.  We have no access to the intent of the "designer" and are unable to examine his justifications.  Even in cases where we can compare similiar function across variable design patterns (i.e. wing designs) we still can not, with any great confidence, determine why a particular design was used in one case while another was used elsewhere.  Even where we are somewhat certain as to the process of formation that stills gives us no real information about the intent and justification of the design.  I think this is murky because of the insistance of using the word "design" for the sole purpose of implying the exisitence of a "designer".  There's just no measurable why to evaluate design in a biological system which is why I think it should be left to the sphere of philosophy where it belongs.

Lenny, to your point, these questions can not be answered in a scientific sense.

Date: 2007/06/09 23:30:54, Link
Author: skeptic
wit as in marbles or humor?

Date: 2007/06/09 23:38:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I think we're quibbiling over semantics.  It appears that you, AdR, are using "design" in a context different from what we're used to seeing here.  Are you referring to a pattern or composition?  If so, that's an entirely different conversation and a largely aesthetic one at that.

I'm ashamed to add that while I've printed you papers I haven't yet read them.  I'm going to do that right now to get a better idea of the context that you're referencing.

Date: 2007/06/10 10:11:21, Link
Author: skeptic
Guys, the point is not the journals but the language contained in them...

wait a minute, why am I wasting my breath.

Nevermind, carry on.

Date: 2007/06/10 21:47:39, Link
Author: skeptic
Ftk, I'll try to help.

ID is not science nor should it ever pretend to be.  It is philosophy pure and simple.  Because of the complexity, beauty, wonder, etc and the very fact of existence screams an intentional act and thus a designer.  This is a very old argument and to learn more about it I would suggest you read Paley and Swinburne.

While there is nothing wrong with these arguments they can not be tested and that is the cornerstone of science.  ID has it's place but it's not in a science classroom.  Science must deal with that which can be measured, observed, tested, duplicated and so on.  I think you can see the difference.  Now don't get me wrong.  Science is not about Truth.  Science is about what can be tested and measured and observed TODAY and the conclusions that are reached are subject to change based upon that which is tested and measured TOMORROW.  Sometimes the name of science is misused and you are told it is about Truth but you are correct to reject that fallacy outright.

There are many problems with the theory of evolution but the most notable is the way it is potrayed on both sides.  My advise is if you have questions simply ask them.  Someone here will answer them constructively and as for the rest ignore it.  By that same token you can expect to be ignored (or ridiculed) if you make statements that you can not backup.  Just as you get offended, to many here when you make those statements you are attacking their religion.  In the end we're all big boys and girls and that's just the price we pay to play the game.

Date: 2007/06/11 00:24:21, Link
Author: skeptic
transitional forms, wow blast from the past.  Anyway, like I said ignore that which is not constructive and don't make unconstructive statements, such as:

I'm not out to make war, and I don't like the fact that these issues are furthering the chasm between those who realize that that there is an ultimate designer who is responsible for nature and those who reject the notion.

no value in this and it only incites the gallery, remember it's always wise not to feed the animals.

as far as where ID belongs, it belongs in philosophy courses and courses presenting a historical perspective but not to offer students an alternative to materialism.  That's something people develop on their own and it rarely comes out of a classroom.  I know one thing for sure, it has no place in this debate.

Ichy, just as an aside, evolutionary theory is changing every day and those that stand in the way of change are the fools.

Date: 2007/06/11 07:28:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Now, now, let's not mislead the young lady.  Science is not facts, science is data and conclusions reached upon the best available data.  As I said before, science is not about Truth and it is not about facts.

I truely believe more than anything that the animosity on the religious side comes from the manner in which science has been presented to them, namely with arrogance, condesention and hostility.  Given a different presentation style and the result is completely different but then most on this side view religious people with contempt and arrogance.  Don't get me wrong, this doesn't exonerate the religious community but the burden of teaching lies with science.

Ichy, I'll remember to ask you should I ever need to know anything about being a fool, oh yeah and about being rude too.  But just on the off chance that I'm wrong, which I certainly admit when the it occurs, answer me this, name for me one thing that is wrong with the current theory of evolution.  Since you are the self-proclaimed expert and all.

Date: 2007/06/11 08:35:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Albatrossity2 @ June 11 2007,07:41)
Sorry, but that is ridiculous. As has been pointed out before, there are literally dozens of scientific theories, all doubtlessly taught with the same level of "arrogance, condescention (sic) and hostility", which somehow don't get these folks excited. Why is that? Is it possible that they don't even think about science at all until some preacher fills their head with falsehoods about it? If so, how, exactly, is that the fault of anyone else but the preachers, and the unthinking masses who accept those lies?

I'm sorry but I can't think of ANY other theory that is taught with the same posture that evolution is taught with.  In fact, I remember quantum mechanics which can be taken in an anti-religious tone if you really want to reach and there is no massive popular objection to it.  To be fair, evolution has been under fire since day one but it's up to the teachers to control their emotions and teach.

Ftk, the anti-religious will oppose anything that supposedly supports faith but once the argument is removed from the science class their bluster loses steam.  They may oppose ID in philosophy but they can not get it banned and they will look just as foolish as ID proponents did trying to force it into science classes.

Date: 2007/06/11 20:57:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Albatrossity2 @ June 11 2007,20:46)
Oh, and if you're still there, FtK - What predictions about globin genes in icefish could a creationist make, and what is the basis for those predictions, based on the observations that icefish have no red blood cells and no hemoglobin?

What's the point here, huh?  You know darn well she can't answer this question and I don't recall her ever inferring she could.  Can you or did you just pick this up on some talking points somewhere?

Even better, if you do know, why don't you teach her.  That would be the most reasonable thing to do and it sure would be more constructive than this current waste of time.

Date: 2007/06/11 21:08:05, Link
Author: skeptic
Ichy, I'm going to have to take back everything I ever said or thought about you.  This is the most content and substance I've ever seen you post.  To be honest I didn't think you were capable and I'm pleased to be wrong.  Great stuff, thanks for the post.

Date: 2007/06/12 00:41:53, Link
Author: skeptic
No, actually I just enjoyed reading.  I'm kinda partial to the subject after a few close encounters and I can see your passion in you're writing.  It's always enjoyable to read a topic that the writer really enjoys, much more incitful, I think.  No backhanded compliment there, just the honest truth.

Date: 2007/06/12 00:52:08, Link
Author: skeptic
I love critical thinking but in this case, no offense Ftk, she has no where near the knowledge base to even consider this question critically.  She would have to first know the difference between hemoglobin, red blood cells, myoglobin, oxygen transport not to mention the genes involved.  As a layperson, any layperson, she just doesn't have that background.  So essentially you're taking a cheap shot, telling her she's stupid, even though ignorant is more accurate, and missing an opportunity to teach her.  Give it try sometime.  It's much more gratifing than useless insults and bickering and she may actually want to learn something about biology.

Date: 2007/06/12 01:31:03, Link
Author: skeptic
without a firm basis she can read much of that biology text and not be able to apply it to anything useful.  In a sense, she doesn't know what she doesn't know.  I'm not sure what text she has but I just looked at Mader and compared that to the discussion of globins in Voet & Voet and there really is no comparison, ~50 pages compared to 8.  Not to mention the genetics to deal with the lack of hemoglobin.

I'm just trying to suggest something more constructive than the current course.  You guys have already assumed that she is a lost cause, correct me if I'm wrong, and are treating her as such.  I'm just pointing out an alternative.  The worst that can happen is she rejects your attempts and you've wasted time trying to teach rather than what's occuring now.  I'd say good trade off.

Date: 2007/06/12 09:03:27, Link
Author: skeptic
I think you can refer back to what Alba2 indicated.  There's something primal about the reaction and this far precedes Jaws.  Even in cultures where the shark is reverred it attains a near diety-like or supernatural position.

Date: 2007/06/12 09:13:34, Link
Author: skeptic
ok, maybe I'm wrong so let's find out.

Ftk, could you do me a favor and give me a quick summary on  what you think the question means and how Alba's asking you to approach it.  I trust you see that I have no intention of embarassing you, I'd just like to get us all on the same page.

Also, Alba, just to clarify, when you mean creationist scientist are you indicating a YECer or an IDer?  And the same on the evolutionary scientist side (just to be fair) are you thinking of an atheist or a religious evolutionary scientist?

Date: 2007/06/12 18:48:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ June 12 2007,14:42)
I would like to ask a question. More about you Ichy than sharks really. Do you not get the feeling of fear when viewing them whilst in the water?

I have only ever encountered sharks twice while in their habitat (I am not counting seeing them in an "aquarium" here). Both times I experienced an irational fear that was a tad uncontrolable. I know they are unlikely to atack, I had a clue how the odds stacked, yet upon seing them I was afraid. Did they not "bother" you at all?

EDIT: Don't get me wrong here. They did look cool as Hell and I loved having seen them in the wild in retrospect. Just that at the time I was scared.

Kinda piggy-backing on Ichy's 14 I was scuba diving off the south coast of Jamaica and while descending down a reef face I sat square on the back of a hovering 10 ft bull shark.  He barely noticed me and glided away and I was utterly amazed.  I just floated there and watched him unable to move.  It was truely captivating.  Needless to say, my father was about 20 yds went into full meltdown and physically hauled me back to the boat.  It wasn't until a day or two later that the realization hit me that the shark could have turned right around and tore me apart in a split second.  Strangely, I still look back at that with more awe than anything but now that I'm a father, given the same circumstances, I would probably act the same as my Dad did.

Date: 2007/06/12 18:56:40, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Ichthyic @ June 12 2007,15:10)
As a first year grad student at Berkeley, I spent my first field season (3 months) at the research station Berkeley owned on the island of Moorea, which is a short hop from Tahiti in French Polynesia.

You've got to be kidding me!!  This sure makes my research lab look like a prison sentence.

Date: 2007/06/17 07:52:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, one question, have you read the book and do you have any real justification for this crap you're spouting beyond hatred?

Date: 2007/06/18 18:05:31, Link
Author: skeptic
The mistake you make, Bill, is to assume that Behe is no longer a part of the scientific community.  He will tell you himself that he is a heratic but he is still a scientist.  He is trained and educated in science, he has published in peer-reviewed journals as a scientist.  His single sin is that he has turned his back on the established rheotoric and attempted to juxtapose his overridding belief in God with the data as he sees it.

He hasn't given up on science but the scientific community has given up on him, lol, I couldn't resist.

I've read the first book and I'm reading the second book and I always find him interesting even if I disagree with his method.  I suggest you read his books and you may find them interesting but you will certainly see how badly Behe wants them to be true.

And, Ichy, I'm actually suprised that you haven't read them.

Date: 2007/06/18 22:08:41, Link
Author: skeptic
I consider Protein Science a serious journal and a publish date of 2004 is more recent than 1997, I think...

Anyway, you have his motivation and methods wrong.  He is not commited to the ID Community, such as it is, and forsaken science.  The Edge of Evolution is a back-to-the-drawing-board endeavor. Here's my take on it:

ID is nothing more than a philosophy.  The world appears this way so it must be true.  Now the only real way you can argue this point is in the abstract but Behe is sticking to his guns.  he believes there are enough instances in nature that prove design is required and all he has to do is keep presenting them until the evidence amounts in his favor.  If he were to turn his back on science he would chuck this whole idea and reduce his arguments to the abstract.  But he doesn't because he believes it is only through science that his point will be proven.  The one thing about this book that really bears some attention is the general theme.  if RM+NS are not sufficient to explain all of evolution then where are the limits and where must other mechanisms come into play.  Now I understand his motivation for asking the question but regardless of that it's a really good question and I have a feeling it will be asked more and more.

this is my biggest problem with the environment that we live in today.  Even if you ask a really good question you run the risk of having you character destroyed because you're motivations were not pure.  I'd hate to be Newton today.  Who knows what kind of he11 we'd put him through.

p.s. I'm not comparing Behe to Newton before you ramble off down that road.

Date: 2007/06/19 16:41:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Remember, I don't agree with Behe.  I don't believe that ID can be scientifically proven and he has backed hinself into a corner in attempting to do so.  His only recourse is to use the preponderance of evidence method.  Again, I understand what he is doing, don't agree with it but understand it.

Let me put it to you this way,  I place Brian Greene and Behe in the same catagory.  Both are relating a theory composed largely of someone else's ideas that can not be empirically supported.  Greene's ideas challenge no necessary dogma and hence are no threat and even more interestingly indirect methods to support this theory are now being contemplated or tested.  What happens if some method arises to test Behe's claims, I don't believe this is possible, but what if?  This is why no question should ever be off limits to science.  Each new day brings new data and who knows which direction it will lead us; we have to be willing to follow.  Personally, I get real nervous when someone wants to completely shut the book on some line of inquiry in the name of "science."  That justs screams of agenda (i.e. global warming).

Anyway, I'm not threatened in the least bit by Behe's books.  I can read them and disagree with them, find some value here and there and go on without losing my mind and civility.  Maybe that's just me or maybe the scientific community needs to develop more tolerance and open-mindedness.  It always amazes me how much anger there is out there, but that's not just science so maybe it's a sign of our times.

Two quick points;

Louis, I think we may actually be right on topic and,

I'm sure that there are many people who think Keanu Reeves is a fine actor...I sure like him.  :D

Date: 2007/06/19 18:38:57, Link
Author: skeptic
I knew you'd like that.

Date: 2007/06/20 09:15:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you say tomato and I say tomato.  Whether Greene or Behe advance scientific ideas is a matter of opinion.  I know you disagree but beauty is in eye of the beholder.

You guys are contradicting yourself somewhat.  ID is not science as thus can neither be proven nor disproven.  Behe attempts ring hollow but that doens't mean he's wrong or he's lying.  He's just deperate, I'd say.

Your agreement with Behe (or not) is moot. No one cares. The fact that you STILL do not grasp that the IDCists are not promoting a scientifically valid, let alone a scientifically productive hypothesis, and the fact that you continue to present some poorly thought out wishy washy "democracy of reality" relativism illustrates very clearly that you don't understand the issues at all. Sorry if that's harsh, but this isn't a difficult thing to grasp and you seem to be trying very very hard not to grasp it.

You're way off here.  I've stated firmly that ID is not science and to be honest I have no idea what a "democracy of reality" is.  The problem as I see it is the attack dogs have been called out and no one even stops to see what they're savaging anymore.  You guys need to go back and read the book before jumping in with both feet.  At least then you'd have you're own ideas and not have to rely on the opinions of others.

Date: 2007/06/20 17:15:31, Link
Author: skeptic
I had an idea today so let's see how this strikes you guys.  Let's elevate this beyond Behe for a moment.

Let's consider the hypothesis that RM+NS plays some role in evolution but doesn't complete the picture.  Louis has already listed some of the other identified mechanisms and I think we can agree on this so far.

So in what cases do we clear evidence that only RM+NS are working and in what cases does the evidence point towards other mechanisms?  Even given general acceptance that NS is ubiquitous, where is RM sufficient to explain the variation necessary for evolution and in what cases is it found wanting?  Now, remember, we're not trying to prove design.  Even if RM is ultimately eliminated as an adequete source of variation to support evolution that still brings us no closer to support for design.  Take a shot at that and we'll see what comes of it.

By the way, Ichy, my immediate thought about the relativism label was to reject it but the more I thought about it, in matters of epistemology, I do lean towards a strong relativist position but I'm not sure that is mutually exclusive with scientific inspection.  If fact, I think that just makes me a skeptic.

Date: 2007/06/20 17:23:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Renier @ June 20 2007,08:10)
Bull shark. Yeah mate, if you’re an Aussie! Lol. Zambezi sharks are locally known as the bullies of the sea. Maybe they are territorial and that would explain their aggressive behaviour? I have an old book with Shark attacks recorded in South Africa. Most of them are Zambezi attacks. The freaky thing is that Zambezi sharks has a high tolerance of fresh water ( I know you know that, just info for lurkers). The record inland attack was 2000km inland (river) by a Zambezi Shark (Must double check on source).

I'm not sure of the distance comparison, not brushed up on my metric system sad to say, but bulls have traveled up the Mississippi in the US as far as Illinios and I remember swimming in the Miss. and the Ohio many times during my younger days with never a thought that a shark may be cruising by.

Date: 2007/06/20 17:50:08, Link
Author: skeptic
No, no need.  Let's look at the limits.  What drives the mechanisms involved, unless we're reading to dismiss RM right now?

Date: 2007/06/21 00:39:50, Link
Author: skeptic
I think I'm confusing you by what I'm asking.  lets take the three mechanisms you've named.  Under what conditions will one operate over the others?  How much variation can we get from RM as opposed to NM?  This is what I'm getting at.  We're not replacing one with the others we're just catagorizing which is applicable where.

Looking at the emergence of traits, in many instances RM (as described) is all that would be required.  Can it describe speciation?  If not, what mechanism can and is there any objective way to test this?  And then based upon the two mechanisms as a continuum at what point between single traits and speciation does one end and the other take over?  Complicating matters further, throw the third mechanism in and then what do we get?

These are the kind of questions that immediately pop into my head.

Date: 2007/06/22 18:45:28, Link
Author: skeptic
You guys seem threatened by a movie.  Why?

Date: 2007/06/27 14:09:28, Link
Author: skeptic
I, for one, will miss you.  Happy trails.

Date: 2007/07/03 10:27:23, Link
Author: skeptic
That's one of the reasons that I'm surprised that anyone uses a single thing off the internet that they can not source independently, including Wikipedia.

P.S.  Major kudos to whomever added the spellchecker.  That makes things so much easier for people like me.

Date: 2007/07/04 10:43:15, Link
Author: skeptic
The level of ignorance here is astounding but I won't comment on that.  What I do wonder is why is this crap being floated on this board?

Date: 2007/07/04 17:25:22, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not sure what the point is but I do know that none of this has anything to do with evolutionary theory or science unless you're Lenny and you think that everything is connected via the Vast Right-wing Conspiracy.  As to the lesson in English history, I have no opinion as I have no more than general knowledge.  But as far as Libby, the facts of this case have been completely lost in liberal hysteria which many here seem to happily mouth.  And anyone who thinks Keith Olbermann is enlightened is riding a two-seat short bus.


Date: 2007/07/06 19:41:28, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (stevestory @ July 06 2007,18:09)
I don't know anything about the larger discussion you're having. I just automatically think about some of my relatives when I hear people discussing poverty. The ones who like to drunk drive, punch cops, and have weekly unprotected sex with somebody from the bar are always going to be poor and there's nothing anyone can do about that.

You might want to call them the 'voluntary poor'. Catastrophic health care coverage by the government may be the single biggest thing we can do to reduce the 'involuntary poor'.

In what way?  Although laudable, I'm not sure that adequate health care cures their poverty problem.

Also, Lenny, I'd prefer to say that this country offers people the opportunity to become really rich and only 0.5% of the population are willing and/or fortunate enough to take advantage of that opportunity.

*ducks fast*

Date: 2007/07/06 19:45:59, Link
Author: skeptic
Yes, but I don't think the major cause of poverty is bankruptcy.

Date: 2007/07/06 23:01:06, Link
Author: skeptic
I'll have two habenero pot pies to-go.

Date: 2007/07/11 22:14:22, Link
Author: skeptic
projecting much, Lenny?

Date: 2007/07/12 06:41:29, Link
Author: skeptic
For one, it's a stupid statement to say that "the rest of the world hates us."  The burden of proof for that over-generalization lies with the fool who mouths it.

As far as our atheist discussion, I'd refer you to some interesting reading material.  The latest issue of The Skeptic has a really good review of Dawkins and the current thoughts of radical atheism, but that's a conversation for a different thread.

Date: 2007/07/19 14:09:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Picking up on a conversion Eric Murphy and I had last year, I'd like to get some perspectives on the "randomness" of random mutation.  I'm looking at SNPs and frame shifts and trying to tease out exactly what is meant by random.  This comes up based up the project I'm currently working on and programming "randomness."

Just looking for some opinions, which I know I can count on you guys for.

Date: 2007/07/19 17:45:24, Link
Author: skeptic
No insults here just looking for some ideas.  I have a feeling someone will say something or make a comparison that will push me in the right direction.  I'm trying to model this and the vagueness of random is difficult to program.

We know that mutations do not occur equally across the genome so that throws that out.  Eric would always tell me that mutations occurred without regard for the resulting fitness of the organism and thus random.  The problem with that is it's a retrospective analysis and again difficult to program.

I could cop-out and just apply a mutation rate arbitrarily but I'd like a better treatment than that and it wouldn't work for my ultimate goal anyway.

So, my main hang up is I'm looking for something more than semantic that I can use.  I've found in the past that when I'm confronted by a problem the more opinions I can collect the better likelihood that someone else will say something or use a particular analogy that either inspires me or clarifies the problem.  Just wanting to pick you guys brains for my own gains.  Sorry if that sounds selfish.

Date: 2007/07/19 21:11:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Nothing like that.  I want to represent mutations within a computer simulation so I need a generalized rule or set of rules to do so.  Raw data is not exactly, although somewhat, helpful in this regard.  I hope you see what I'm getting at.

Date: 2007/07/21 00:15:40, Link
Author: skeptic
I agree, I'm going to have to go with some basic assumptions but it gave me another idea.  I might actually use competing sets and compare outcomes but that might just be for curiosity's sake.  My final goal is to develop a minimal gene organism model and use it for simulations to test toxins, environmental changes, population dynamics and so on.  The organism would be hypothetical so I'd want to generalize specific data as much as possible and that may not be too easy.

Thanks for the reference, Alba, that also supplies me with a bunch of citations to follow-up.

Date: 2007/07/21 01:36:59, Link
Author: skeptic
yeah, kinda like the whole cell model, it's a bit of a holy grail but I'm taking at stab at it.

Date: 2007/07/21 02:27:50, Link
Author: skeptic
can anyone else read this stuff, or is it just me?

Date: 2007/07/23 14:32:57, Link
Author: skeptic
yeah, I see Wal-mart crying everyday to the bank.  Sorry, try again.

Date: 2007/08/01 22:52:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (RedDot @ Aug. 01 2007,22:03)
In the presence of:
Actinonin, the phenotype (PT) displays a loss of enzyme activity

Actinonin, the PT has an SOS response halting cell division

Actinonin, the PT loses a regulatory protein.

Erythromycin, the PT has reduced affinity to 23S rRNA or loss of a regulatory protein.

Nalidixic Acid, the PT experiences loss or inactivation of a regulatory protein

and so on, and so on, and so on...

There are examples of resistance through gene transfer, but that does not explain the origin of those genes.  Where mutations are oberved, these mutations result in the loss of pre-existing cellular systems/activities, such as porins and other transport systems, regulatory systems, enzyme activity, and protien binding.  Such losses are never compensated, unless resistance is lost, and cannot be held up as valid examples of evolutionary change.

You guys keep giving me underhand softballs, I'll keep swinging.

How about the AMES test, the phenotype gains the ability to process nutrients previously unaccessable.  While not necessarily an increase in information, it is certainly an increase in traits and an increase in activity.  Are you going to actually mistakenly catalogue this as a decrease in former activity?

Date: 2007/08/03 07:25:50, Link
Author: skeptic
Hey, while we're all here together and awaiting Redot's replies, I have a serious question.  This came up in my reading this past week, what is the chemical mechanism behind dominant and recessive genes.  I know we're talking about preferential expression but what designates that?  I was guessing methylation plays a big role but I don't have the references to back that up.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Date: 2007/08/03 07:44:47, Link
Author: skeptic
Unfortunately, I couldn't access the full text but I'm not sure that this gets to the heart of my question, hard to tell though without getting into it further than the abstract.  Thanks anyway, I'll get a print copy on Monday and take a look at it in depth.

BTW, I was pretty sure I couldn't do much harm if indeed I did derail the current discussion as it's not really going anywhere but I apologize to any who disagree and I'll try to keep the sidebars to a minimum.

Date: 2007/08/03 07:46:37, Link
Author: skeptic
There's nothing in the Bible that says so, this is just one man's interpretation and some people have run with it.

Date: 2007/08/03 12:44:39, Link
Author: skeptic
not sure that I see anything particularly wacko about this.  Its a point of view, one that resonates heavily in many parts of this country.  I would actually expect to see a statement like this on many church websites and across many denominations.  Just because we're not in agreement with something doesn't make it wacko.

Date: 2007/08/03 17:43:26, Link
Author: skeptic
If we look just at the text here, the idea that Christians believe the ACLU is attempting to remove God from the public  square is not only mainstream but probably undeniably true.  The idea that Christians should attempt to center themselves on their religious text is also far from wacko.  Again, I was just looking at the clip that Steve was responding to not the YEC/ID debate.  I guess I could quote the famous line "It all depends on what wacko is."

BTW, I don't smoke anything for a variety of health reasons.  Louis, you should know how bad that stuff is for you.   :D

Date: 2007/08/04 07:02:50, Link
Author: skeptic
Ah, Ian, the longer you stick around you'll see that as far as Lenny is concerned if you have any religious belief or profess a personal relationship with God then you are a fundie, whether you know it or not.  Of course, you are not the worst of the worst, which is reserved for the capitalists who are raping the cultures and economies of the world and must be pulled down by the poor and oppressed workers, Viva Le Revolution!

Oh yeah, and he shrugs a lot. too.

But back to the point, as an objective measure, I could visit church websites and attempting to collect statements just like these to see how "mainstream" they actually are.  I have my guess but I don't have the time.  A quicker analysis would be to look at rhe ACLU's cases involving religion and there I have no guess but I know what perception is.  Maybe the anti-ACLU marketing campaign has just been that effective.

Date: 2007/08/04 08:44:54, Link
Author: skeptic
shrug  :D

Date: 2007/08/04 08:46:06, Link
Author: skeptic
BTW, I did check out the ACLU website.  Interesting reading.  Sorry to disappoint you again Lenny.

Date: 2007/08/04 15:09:44, Link
Author: skeptic
Well. k.e., I really don't know how to respond to any of that drivel.  I considered asking for proof of any single statement you made but what's the point, you already know the Truth.  I'll just let those comments speak for themselves.

Date: 2007/08/04 22:51:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Yeah, Lenny, you can't read.  If you go back and try again you'll see that I'm talking about perception.  Also, I observe here that Wes never discusses his religious beliefs.  Were he to do so you might find yourself in a different position, especially if you didn't know who he was.  Funny that you mention honesty, you might try examining that concept sometime.

Date: 2007/08/05 16:20:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, take a breath, you're starting to foam.  

k.e., you probably represent the worst of what comes from these debates.  If you could get past your hate and cookie-cutter mentality long enough to even pay attention who you were talking to that would be a start.  I've stated over and over again that you can not prove nor disprove the existence of God.  This is a question that is beyond science, period!  In fact, this is the only subject that really tweeks me because individuals continually attempt to use a scientific theory to make broad and sweeping statements about God.  Not only are they wrong but they cast dispersion upon a topic that I love: science.  Maybe if you kept your mouth shut for awhile and listened you might learn something or at least it would minimize the damage that you do.

Louis, referencing our earlier discussion, this is the damage that radical atheists can do.  There is no reason for a rift between science and religion and to perpetuate the lie is damaging.  This in no means exonerates the religious who attempt to do the same thing but I hold science to a higher standard and you can not have an argument by yourself.

Finally Paul, sorry to have derailed the discussion but we do have to be honest with ourselves.  We all know how much of a chance Reddot has of suppling acceptable evidence that the Earth is 6k yrs old so we can drop that pretense right now.

Oh yeah, Lenny, again, you really make yourself look like a fool when you try to bring the Bible into the discussion.  You'd to better to stick to anti-ID case law and communist fantasies.

Date: 2007/08/05 16:34:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Wes, thanks for the correction and I should amend my comments to say that I've never been involved in a discussion with in which you discussed your religious beliefs in the short time that I've been here.  That being said, in these links you take a stand as a Christian without really saying what that means to you.  I especially liked your coverage of the overlapping ideas but I would have enjoyed a deeper examination of the evolutionary creationist.  Don't get me wrong, you faith is not an issue here my contention is the less tolerant members here would find any discussion of the specifics of faith unreasonable no matter who's making the statement.  Then again, officially, that's not what we're here to discuss, it's just funny that we always end up back in the same conversation.

Date: 2007/08/05 21:35:07, Link
Author: skeptic
Lenny, if you truly do not care what Reddot has to say concerning God, The Bible, et. al., then why do you keep asking him questions?  Please, a little honesty.  You really do look the fool here.

Date: 2007/08/06 07:44:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Thank you, Louis.  I was kicking this around last night and I appreciate the opportunity to explore it further.  I'll put together my post and get it up by this afternoon.

Date: 2007/08/06 20:32:04, Link
Author: skeptic
As usual, great post Louis but, as usual, we have some differences of opinion.  I'm going to try to be as brief as possible and lay out my thoughts as well as address yours but I expect it will take a number of posts to really get into it.  

First, I'd like to address the general assumption that there must be a rift between science and religion.  In order for a conflict to arise between two disciplines they would have to trying to answer the same questions.  For example, look at astronomy and particle physics.  Both deal with the actions of massive bodies and have working theories to examine their respective spheres.  Unfortunately, the two theories are incompatible with each other.  They're both trying to answer the same questions from two different viewpoints and are in conflict.  Fortunately, because both are "speaking the same language" there is not only the inclination but the possibility of unifying both theories.

Now lets contrast that to science and religion.  First, the two are not even trying to answer the same questions.  Science is no more equipped to tell someone how to live a moral life as religion is able to calculate the acceleration due to gravity.  As practical issue this does not pose a real problem.  Science relies upon data, evaluation of data and confirmation of theories using those data.  This is man's attempt to explain the universe using his senses, the only source he really has, through his limited abilities.  The picture that science gives us is one that is incomplete and dynamic and limited to those areas in which data can be collected and evaluated.

Religion, on the other, does not rely upon empirical data.  In fact, actual sources of knowledge are varied and open to interpretation.  Appropriately enough so are the questions that religion attempts to answer.  How do I treat others?  What is goodness?  What is the purpose of my life?  The answer to any of these questions can hardly be "42" or some other hard answer.  Whether through inspiration or revelation the answers given still must be digested individually and implemented personally.  This again is in contrast to science as each answer is technically universal.  It is not for religion to say how the heavens work just where Heaven is and how to get there.  This leaves open the question concerning the existence of God and which discipline should claim superiority.  We'll get back to that question later.

So in my opinion, why does the creationist get a free ride while the scientist is subject to scorn.  To put it plain, I expect more of the scientist.  Just speaking of the US, the vast majority of Americans are religious, 80-90% depending upon which poll you accept.  In similar polls a minority of people reject evolution.  That leaves a large percentage of Americans who are both religious and accept evolution.  Now stick with me because these people are very important.  That also leaves a very vocal minority that rejects not only evolution but the science behind it.  Scientists are supposedly governed by rationality and yet some feel compelled to respond to this vocal minority.  The YECs/IDs do not deal in scientific fact, something the scientists know something about, but still some scientists cannot resist.  Why is this a problem?  On it's face, there is no problem as long as the scientists restrict their criticism to inaccuracies of fact and data but the ultimate bait is still out there and a vocal minority of scientists rise to it.  They go after God and attempt to refute the existence. We can disagree on whether this is even possible but I contend it is not and it compromises the credibility of the scientist.

Now comes in the large group that previously had no crisis between science and religion.  The scientists enjoy more popular exposure and media credibility and their message is released.  Now a conflict arises between an anti-God message and a less threatening more familiar religion.  Remember, religion is very much a part of culture that begins very early and can have deep roots.  Science, on the other hand, is not shared extensively by the general population and to many not utilized in everyday life.  Given these choices it's not a wonder which direction people tend to move.  This heats up the rhetoric on both sides and continues to widen a rift that shouldn't exist in the first place.

So, I think science should not engage religion on religious topics but stick to science.  This removes the perception that science is anti-religion and refocus the debate on science.  It's much more productive to tell people about chemistry then how chemistry supposedly eliminates the need for God.

Date: 2007/08/06 22:51:32, Link
Author: skeptic
Yes, comparing GR and QM brings you to an impasse but the quest for a Unified Theory goes on because of the reasons I stated.

Lenny, there's no problem with discussing science in an ID sense.  I don't accept ID as science and it is very easy to point out why.  This doesn't require attacking a religion or God in order to do so.  It's like being goaded by a three year old, when you bring yourself down to his level by arguing with him then you both look like three year olds.

Nerull, you obviously don't have a clue what my motives are but you could easily rectify that by going back and reading what I've said...over and over and over again.  You'll see that I've been pretty consistent over the last year and a half.

Date: 2007/08/07 19:36:14, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm waiting for some intelligent responses but I'll deal with these in the mean time.

k.e., is English your second language?  If so I can find the appropriate translation to get my point across.  If English is indeed your native tongue then I'll try to speak very slowly.  Ready?  Here goes...

It is impossible to either prove or disprove the existence of God.

What part of that statement do you not understand and I'll be happy to clarify it for you.  As far as your other question, it is completely nonsensical.  Its akin to say if there is garbage, why is there garbage collectors?  Maybe it is a typo, that would explain it...well maybe not.

Lenny, as usual, you didn't comprehend what I was saying.  Not only is there no barrier between science and religion but there is no overlap.  Different questions, different methods, different purposes, no common ground.

Also, if religious people attempt to refute science from a theology perspective then they can easily be disputed from a scientific perspective.  They are in the wrong and can easily be corrected.  To compound their error by attacking them religiously does much more harm and has the potential of swaying the opinions of the onlookers.  

Discussions of the Establishment Clause are better left elsewhere as we fundamentally disagree on its intent but I will say an excellent example of how ID proponents should be reacted to could be seen in Dover.  Not the court decision but the subsequent elimination of the ID supporters from the school board.  That is democracy in action in the spirit of the Founders' intent.

Date: 2007/08/07 20:27:11, Link
Author: skeptic
It's not relevant to this discussion and I'm going to try to stay on topic, if possible.

Date: 2007/08/08 07:18:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Just a quick one here and I'll be back later for some more.  As a clarification, I don't think ID is either science or religion, it is a philosophy.

God, ultimately, is a personal concept and in truth it has no bearing on God's existence what anyone's personal concept is.  Just a quick example, if I could take every single religious text on Earth (every faith) and thoroughly disproves every single line in them it still would mean nothing when the question of God's existence is approached.  I know that's hard to accept but I believe your resistance comes from the fact that you're trying to frame this as a scientific question and it is not one.

Lenny, go back again and read.  You'll see that I've questioned AFDave, FtK, Reddot, to name a few.  I will always question YECers scientifically because I believe they are in the wrong as I will question anyone perverting science to make claims about faith because they are also absolutely wrong.

Date: 2007/08/08 14:19:46, Link
Author: skeptic
I can see where this is heading and I'm not sure if it is productive to go that way.  We could quickly get off into theology and philosophy and lose sight of the question at hand.

The question on the table is not "Should one believe in God" but "Can the concept of God be approached scientifically?"

BTW, just to give credit where credit is due, k.e. your responses to Shirley were hilarious.  I thought for a moment I might have to change pants.

Date: 2007/08/08 14:42:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Here's two polls that may or may not satisfy some of your concerns.

This one is just an overall view but the catagories are somewhat interesting:

Harris Poll

This one comes from a Christian News site and addresses the question more directly:

Christian Attitudes

Before you guys get all crazy I'm just telling you that these are the attitudes that exist and are perpetuated.  This doesn't mean I agree with everything stated.  I know this is a useless disclaimer but I tried nonetheless.

Date: 2007/08/08 23:43:18, Link
Author: skeptic
We've been all over one particular aspect of this question and we really need to pin this down before another example is used.

Just what do you mean by information?  If DNA carries information one could only infer that you mean sequence and if so any duplication adds additional information.  Conversely, if you require "new" information for your definition then any base change that results in the substitution of a different AA in the protein sequence is new information as compared to the previous sequence.  So what do you mean by information and what would an example of new information look like?

Date: 2007/08/10 12:00:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Two points that may help, Ian.  The assumption is that the Universe is a closed system but we do not know for sure.  There may be a flux but hand-waving arguments actually degenerate into definitions of "universe."  Secondly, the appeal to the supernatural is actually just a statement of ignorance.  We have no real idea what pre-big bang means, as Steve pointed out, our theories break down as we approach the big bang and we end up with nothing meaningful.  To immediately insert a supernatual cause really just is the same thing as saying "We can't describe what happened, but we know something did."  Ask for evidence of an empirical nature and this discussion pretty much ends there.

Date: 2007/08/13 23:00:32, Link
Author: skeptic
I hate getting this far behind because I can't possibly respond to everything that's been said so I'll just make a few quick points.

First, nice thorough post Louis however much I disagree with what you said.  

The term creationist is being thrown around alot and I think slightly misused.  You could lump every single religious person into this catagory because whatever mechanism God used, the universe was still created.  Now the small subset of this group are the YECs and IDers who attempt to construct a rigis framework to the creation story.  They are incorrectly straying into science just as the scientist who  mistakenly applies empiricism to faith.  They are part of the problem but not the norm.  I'll use Genesis as an example but it applies to all creation stories.  Genesis is poetry written by a man.  Careful reading of Genesis quickly reveals that it is not a science text, there is no evidence presented nor observations recorded.  The point is to demonstrate the power of God and reinforce the concept of the special nature of mankind (this is an over-simplification but I'm just hitting the high points) not to layout the blueprint for universe creation.  Remember the author, Moses or Aaron or other, did not see any of this take place nor interview anyone who did.  Any attempt to say that Genesis is develops a model for the physical universe is groundless.  Genesis lays the groundwork for a spiritual model of the universe.  Huge difference.

The questions that faith and reason try to answer are in NO way similar.  Take for instance the brain.  Science will tell me about the neurons that form networks that lead to higher functions.  How they fire, what stimuli drive these responses, etc and so forth.  What science can not tell me is anything about the Mind, who I am, where I reside in this brain.  These questions are outside of rational thought as are love, sadness, goodness and morality.  These questions must be answered in some other ways and faith is one of these avenues.  And just to make my thoughts plain, there is no such thing as true morality in the absense of God everything else is just a human construct and therefore flawed.

But before we go round and round I wanted to make an observation.  Based upon what you've said I think you are much more optimistic concerning man's ability to apply reason and rationality to these questions and find the answer.  I do not believe that is possible as our capacity is limited and those questions are beyond reason.  I see why you insist on the conflict because you believe it is science's role to answer these questions using it's methods as opposed to the methods used by faith.  Science can not answer these questions and in error when it tries and the same applies to faith.

One last thing, both science and faith seek knowledge but of a completely different sort and for a completely different reason.  I believe Crick ran right out to the local pub after the discovery of the structure of DNA and promptly declared that they had discovered the meaning of life.  What was not doscovered was the meaning of Life and that is a question only Faith can answer.

Date: 2007/08/14 07:34:57, Link
Author: skeptic
This will have to be quick but I will get back later to address this fully.  One thing I'm seeing is the criticism that I'm making statements about faith by faith alone without proving them.  That sounds like a catch-22 to me.  How can I possibly supply evidence in a field that I conclude is beyond reason? : D

You are absolutely right.  You can not prove that you're statements by faith are any more valid than my statements of faith.  Again, these opinions are not subject to empirical analysis.  This is not about truth in a scientific sense and that may be hard to accept.

Be back for more later...

Date: 2007/08/14 09:51:06, Link
Author: skeptic
I see that our disagreement is very fundamental.  We are two ships passing in the night with you seeking certainty and I saying there is none.

Consider this example.  I ask you to prove that you love your wife and you give me your evidence.  I reject your evidence because IMO you don't love your wife you just like her.  Why?  Because love can not be broken down to an equation or proven as a theorem.  No matter how unsatisfying that answer is it is simply true.  In these cases we turn to poetry, philosophy and faith to answer questions such as these.

Example number 2.  Let's take the Bible and assume that everything in it is proven absolutely false.  It's just one big novel with some very interesting stories.  What does this mean for the existence of God, any God?  Nothing.  God's existence, or more correctly the existence of anything, is independent of our ability to comprehend or recognize it.  In order to gain knowledge of something we have to observe it, measure it, touch it, etc.  In the case of God, science is unable to supply these observations whereas revelation, inspiration, meditation, etc are exactly suited to this kind of knowledge.

I understand you desire to know everything or assume that everything is theoretically within reach for mankind.  The truth is it's not and that is very hard for some people to accept.  In fact, in some cases, it's just that realization that allows people to find comfort in their faith.  This may be an alien concept.

anyway gotta go for now...

Date: 2007/08/14 13:19:08, Link
Author: skeptic
on points a)-e), I completely disagree on every point and it can not be any plainer than that.  You put you faith in man's ability to collect knowledge on these concepts and you couldn't be more wrong.

The Mind, not the mind, define it for me please.  Explain how the function and structure of the brain gives rise to the emergence of the Mind and (just for kicks) consciousness.

Meaning in life is rationally subjective and can not be pinned down to a time, place or culture.  The only universal solution is if it is based upon something transcendate to time, place and culture.

Emotions or the chemical reactions leading to emotions have nothing to do with what Love is or what Sadness is.  For that matter, if you've ever known a woman you know that emotions are in no way rational.

God.  Well this is the point of the discussion but it is extreme arrogance to assume that if God exists you should be able to detect him or them.  Prove that to me and you win.

Morality is also subjective and it depends upon time, place and culture unless rooted upon something uninfluenced by these factors.  Resorting to rationality to define morality results in nothing but relativism.  But again, if you believe otherwise, prove it.

I keep having to repeat myself because you just aren't getting it.  You're appling humanistic reasoning but it is severely limited and if it wasn't then these concepts would be defined by now and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Date: 2007/08/14 16:09:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Alba, you raise a very interesting question.  Let me put something together for you.

Shirley, you do not.  Look up "humanism."

Date: 2007/08/14 19:22:18, Link
Author: skeptic

Thank fine lady but I will kindly turn down your offer and apply my two functioning brain cells to the question at hand.

Date: 2007/08/15 11:58:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, for the first time, I'm sad to say, you utterly demonstrate that you just don't know what you are talking about.  It appears that you are just so rooted in materialism that you just can not accept that there may be knowledge that can not be accessed by rational means.  We are continuially reasserting the same premises because we are talking past each other.  For my part, I mistakenly assumed that you acknowledged the different types of knowledge.

There is a distinct difference between the mind and The Mind and if you don't see that then this conversation is in real trouble.  Certainly, Alba raises a valid criticism as to the actual existence of The Mind but I'll get back to that.  If you can not understand what is meant by spiritual or you fail to understand the limitations of psychology, neurology or any other ology that you seem to think can absolutely reveal reality then we must go back and reeducate you on the basics of knowledge.

I'm really surprised.  It is one thing to differentiate between the different types of knowledge accessable by science and faith but it is another thing entirely to completely deny that faith can offer any types of knowledge and that not only is science the only source of "true" knowledge but all knowledge is completely accessable to it.

You're gonna have to provide some proof because I'm just not buying it and I really don't think you know what you're even implying.  Otherwise you're just endlessly repeating yourself and making ridiculous claims such as ectasy-induced chemical reactions are equivilent to Love.  Louis, that's just laughable and I think you know it.

P.S. the comment about emotional women was an attempt at levity (failed apparently) but it does reflect the fact that no emotions are rational and that I will stand by.

Date: 2007/08/15 16:18:43, Link
Author: skeptic
I find it ironic that I'm taking the negative position and you the positive and yet I'm the one that proof is being demanded of.  Hmm.

Anyway, let's look at an easy one.  Love.  We can examine people who say the are in love and monitor reactions and interactions in the course of them displaying this love.  We're into a subjective realm already unless you just want to rely on a consensus but we'll proceed anyway. Now we've identified various chemicals that are involved in these reactions and maybe even presumed at their optimum levels.  Do this mean that everything we need to know about what we think we're studying, Love, can be determined by the levels of testosterone, phenylethylamine , dopamine, etc.  Does this tell us what love feels like?  Or why a mother charges into a burning building to save her child?  Or why a spouse will die of a "broken heart" following the death of their beloved?  Or why people will knowingly sacrifice themselves for family, friends, country and God? NO. NO. NO, and NO.

The true meaning of love can not be divined from reactions and chemical levels and may actually be beyond our ability to comprehend.  A reductivist analysis of love is hollow and swallow and in the end tells you nothing about Love.

Now I acknowledge that there are those out there that do not believe that things like Love, Good, Evil and the Mind actually exist.  To those people, it may all be reactions and chemical levels or human desires and firing neurons.  I say that there is so much more and those people live in a pale, colorless world without sampling the beauty around them.  I pity those people.

more soon on the dualism question,  I find it intriguing because I have to admit I've sort of taken it for granted.

Date: 2007/08/16 11:12:34, Link
Author: skeptic
First of all I am not making any positive claim, I'm merely informing you about the nature of reality (i.e. that in fact reason can be used to analyse certain phenomena that you claim on no basis it cannot) such as humans have uncovered over millenia. Your repeated shrill denials do not constitute evidence. You are making the positive claim that reason cannot examine X and faith can. That is the claim (or rather one of the claims) you have to justify. You are claiming limits on rational enquiry that don't appear to be there, you are making a claim in contradiction to the evidence we have collected as a species thus far. So yes, the burden of proof falls to you. You are also supporting a dualism based on nothing more than an appeal to ignorance, a dualism long since disproven by the evidence, so yet again the burden of proof falls to you.

You have not demonstrated that this evidence exists just your continued sayso.  I'll get back after I read your "book,"  just wanted to point that out real quick.

Date: 2007/08/20 16:32:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry Louis, been a bit busy the last couple of days.  Actually, somewhere in the middle of your dissertation I started laughing and just couldn't get back into it.  I wasn't laughing at you but at myself and what really precipitated it was Alba's question.  I'll try to explain.

To recap, the initial discussion referenced the rift between science and religion but I'm going to alter that description slightly.  It is not a rift it is a chasm and I think we've proved that over the last 5 pages.

Alba asked me to prove that the Mind existed and you, in effect, were asking me the same thing for any of the non-physical universal ideals or concepts.  I fell victim to the temptation and contradicted myself by busily applying myself to the task at hand.  The problem was the question of the Mind was something I couldn't even prove to myself because it isn't independent of Me.  Nice little trap I put myself in but finally your post brought it home and I couldn't help but feel alittle silly.

I believe in God and so by definition I believe in concepts or existence beyond the physically measurable universe.  Things like Love, Beauty, Good, Evil, Hope, etc are all real things for me because I have experienced them and accept them as transcendent.  The Mind, I can only infer because, to me, the others exist and so the Mind can exist and I believe I am a unique being so I take a leap of faith on that one.  What I'm saying is I believe in these things and accept them to be real even though I can provide no evidence that they exist.

You do not believe in God and whether by cause or effect you do not accept the existence of anything beyond physical (or potentially) measurement.  These things, ideas, concepts, etc have no meaning for you beyond what can be measured and defined either by science or consensus.   Here comes the chasm.  I can not accept your definition of  physical reality because I've already experienced things beyond that simplistic framework.  By the same token, you can not accept my view until and if you actually experience these things as transcendental ideals.  You are more than happy to jump into the science of lust and attraction but that's all love will ever be for you unless you recognize and experience Love.  The same goes for all of these example including God.

This is why there can be no conflict between science and religion.  I can not reveal religion and faith to you because I can not prove them to you in the way that you require.  Nor can you disabuse me of my beliefs because to do so would require me to deny that which I already know.  We are at an impasse and it is one that science and religion have forever been at.  Regardless of the progress of human knowledge, the width of this chasm will never shorten.  The comforting thought for me after browsing through the library today is we are not alone.  Many more before us have made the mistake that I did and it will continue to be made long after me.  Truth be told, I'm not so sure that I won't make the same mistake again but I'll chalk that up to my human failings and move on.

Date: 2007/08/21 01:16:08, Link
Author: skeptic
seriously, there's probably many different ways to answer that question depending upon your definition.  I name the Mind to be my Mind and that which is Me.  it is more than just the physical me because that changes everyday and me yesterday is not me tomorrow and yet I still consider myself the same person.  You could call it the sum total of my experiences but I prefer to think of it in terms of a soul.  That is something I believe in and it fits my definition well.  But, no Louis, I have no proof of that nor can I prove it to you...unless you could read my mind, lol.  Boy, is it getting late.

Date: 2007/08/22 17:17:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks, Lenny, you make my point so much better and with more credibility but I would like to add a few points.

Louis, I'm not shifting the "blame" to you.  I'm just trying to point out your position to demonstrate why we are at odds.  Also, let's not be coy, if you believed in God then we wouldn't be having this discussion because you would get what I was saying even though I'm apparently not as elegant as Lenny.  You see rational thought or science as a sphere within which knowledge and potential knowledge is contained.  Within this same sphere you see the tumor of irrational thought or faith that is attempting to address this same knowledge or potential knowledge and in doing so is slightly corrupting to the whole.  As far as you're concerned there is nothing that is beyond the investigation of rational thought.  Everything can be reduced, characterized and understood or potentially understood.  There is nothing wrong with this view as it is just as valid as the alternative which is mine.

I believe that there are things (not quite the right word) beyond rational examination.  I see two separate spheres that address two completely different types of knowledge.  They only overlap in the Mind of the observer.  Thanks again to Alba and getzal, the questions on Mind have been a great starting point for me and I have been heavily focused upon them for the past few days.  Anyway, one difference I have with your characterization, Louis, is that you continually insist that science and faith are trying to answer the same questions.  They not only are not but they should not.  I agree with Lenny (I hope you're sitting down, Lenny) and I believe that the conflict would disappear if faith stuck to faith and science stuck to science.  I can see your problem with this statement because you don't view faith as valid to answer any questions and certainly not the questions that you believe can be answered by reason.  You might be right.  There may be no other true source of knowledge but reason and we've just been fooling ourselves for thousands of years.  In this life, we'll never know but enough people think and have thought that the questions are beyond reason that as these questions have been pondered they will continue to be pondered.

So the conclusion (lol), there are many worldviews and the two on display here are:

a) Science and religion are always at odds because the only true source of knowledge is science and religion attempts to intrude upon this quest.  There is an opposite to this which we don't see here but we run into quite often and that is that religion is the only true source of knowledge, blah, blah, blah.  Again, in this case religion and science are always at odds.

b) science and religion are two independent areas of knowledge asking different questions, using different methods and having no impact upon each other.

Neither can be proven as a better worldview because initial inclinations dictate which one you accept and the other never appears adequate from that point on.

On a side note,  I wanted to quickly address Alba and getzal's question and hit on something Lenny was trying to tell me last year.  I had a great deal of trouble working through this question of the Mind as I've mentioned.  But as I kept looking at my idea of the two separate areas in dawned upon me.  There must be some overlap between the physical and non-physical otherwise we would no awareness of the non-physical as we are decidedly physical.  That overlap is the Mind.  The point at which we experience the non-physical and translate that into our physical thoughts, feelings, actions, etc.  That raises two questions, is the non-physical real or just a human construct and how or where does this overlap occur?  In the case of the second question, I must punt because I've really just moved the overlap internal to each individual but not really said anything about it specifically.  In the case of the second question, it is a matter of belief.  Some will believe that these do not really exist and view them within the framework of reason while others with accept their independent existence.  Not a real good answer, I know, but it reminds me of Lenny's discussion last year about authority.  It only took me this long to really get it but I did want to focus on one point.  Even though my view acknowledges an external authority it is still me who holds the final authority.  It is still my Mind that must experience and evaluate the non-physical and process it for consumption.  Because it still must go through the filter of my Mind then it is up to me to decide how I should act, feel and think based upon in.  The buck stops here as we say and that is still something that every individual must do for themselves.  That is, of course, unless there is only one Mind that we are all just parts of and if that's the case then I'm out to lunch and I have no idea where go with that.    :D

Date: 2007/08/22 19:14:36, Link
Author: skeptic
good Lenny

good Lenny

Bad Lenny!!


Date: 2007/08/22 22:02:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Now, Lenny, if I don't miss my guess, that is a statement rooted in capitalism.  :D

Date: 2007/08/23 01:49:43, Link
Author: skeptic
now that's the Lenny I know

Date: 2007/08/23 18:07:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Let's try this one then:

in so far as murder is the willful killing of an innocent person,

Is it always wrong to commit murder?  Why? or why not?

BTW, your Spock objection is ridiculous.  If there is nothing more than the physical that is or possibly is open to only rational description then there is no such thing as emotion.  The word, emotion, is nothing more than a place-holder masking our relative ignorance concerning the characteristics of emotion.  It is impossible for Spock to say "I feel good" but it easy for him to say "my serotonin re-uptake rate is low."

Date: 2007/08/24 11:22:57, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I have to say that I'm surprised by the absolute hard-headed narrowminded stance that you've taken here.  You have proven or demonstrated nothing more than your opinion as to the nature of knowledge which BTW is not an objective topic.  Reason is the only source of knowledge, that is what you are saying whether you know it or not.  Any word games in the attempt to define a subjective concept in objective terms is just childish.

Again, is it wrong to commit murder?  I can give you a reasoned-based response to that question BUT I can also give you a response based solely upon revelation, inspiration, meditation, etc.  You are saying that one is knowledge and the other is not regardless of the fact that both can contribute to the human experience.  You're in a hole and yet you just keep digging.  Stop digging and think beyond your own rigid construct and you might start to see the other side of the discussion.

Date: 2007/08/24 16:45:43, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Aug. 24 2007,13:33)

You really don't learn to well do you.

Rather than repeat my assessment of your failed arguments back at me, how about you go and show, as I have done for your arguments, where the flaws in my arguments are.

Bet you pennies to pure gold bars you cannot and will not do it.


If it weren't against my better judgment, I'd love to have what you're smoking.  You have proven NOTHING other than your opinions.  

Answer my question.

Date: 2007/08/24 16:52:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Aug. 24 2007,14:36)
Quote (skeptic @ Aug. 24 2007,11:22)
Again, is it wrong to commit murder? ?I can give you a reasoned-based response to that question BUT I can also give you a response based solely upon revelation, inspiration, meditation, etc. ?

No you can't.  All you can do is give us YOUR OPINION concerning any such revelation, inspiration or meditation.

You have no way whatsoever to determine if your interpretations are any better or more correct than anyone else's.  Religion can't tell us if murder is wrong any more than my grandmother can.  Religion cannot reveal anyuniversal moral laws to us, because there aren't any -- other than the ones that you yourself have chosen to interpret as having the authority of "universal moral laws".

And your interpretations are no better than anyone else's.

Other than to you.

I agree completely.  I can give you an answer based decidedly NOT on reason or rational thought and that works for me and is correct only for me.  Now what happens when I share my belief with someone else and they agree to some measure and we both have essentially the same answer.  Is that belief now knowledge?  Was is knowledge when it only applied to me?  I think what we actually might be doing here is spiraling downwards into an argument over what is "knowledge."

Date: 2007/08/24 16:53:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote ("Rev Dr" Lenny Flank @ Aug. 24 2007,14:43)
Quote (J-Dog @ Aug. 24 2007,14:34)
So. ?The REAL $10,000 question then is: ?Granted that both Louis and Lenny are right, where do we go from here? ?

Well, we go to the only place that we CAN go --- we leave "objective" questions to the scientists, and we leave "non-objective" questions to the philosophers, theologians, ethicists and all the others who have been arguing uselessly over them for thousands of years.

So, to get back to the original question posed in this thread, we let scientists do science, and we let ethicists do ethics, moralists do morality, aesthicicians do aesthetics -- and never shall the twain meet.

That is EXACTLY my point also.

Date: 2007/08/25 07:40:57, Link
Author: skeptic
The concept of beauty does not exist outside of its context. Beauty is not an inherent/intrinsic property of an object, like (for example) mass is.

This is Louis' narrowmindedness on display.  Here you state opinion as if it where fact.  If only you could accept that then you'd be able to understand that other people may believe differently from you.

Date: 2007/08/25 07:46:07, Link
Author: skeptic
Same with concepts like beauty and good and evil. They are emergent properties of the systems from which they arise. Taking the system, the context away, renders them non existant. Hence when context free they are devoid of meaning, they are nothing more than pretty noises. Insert them BACK into context and BLAM, they are redolent with meaning etc. I may have mentioned this ooooooooooh about four or five times now.

Really?  That's a pretty profound statement you've made there.  There are philosophers throughout history that disagree with you.  Can you back this up with anything more than just your say-so?  I don't believe you can but I'd interested in hearing you try.

Date: 2007/08/25 07:56:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, apparently your definition of dishonesty is anyone who dares disagree with you.  I think you really need to sit back and review some of the statements you've made.  In themselves they are subjective statements and you may believe them and, who knows, they may actually be true, but they can not be proven and it is entirely understandable that there may be other human beings on this Earth that believe differently.  I think it's say to say that you don't represent the totality of human thought.  Maybe you do in your own mind but I think it might be time for you to get real.  Your hardheadedness and petty insults are just an ongoing display of arrogance that blinds you to possibility that there may be alternate opinions in this discussion.

Date: 2007/08/25 08:04:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Ian, I would say that I think that Beauty exists independent of the physical but maybe not independent of existence.  This sortof touches on Stephan's observer comment.  So the question for the observer then becomes am I observing Beauty or is the beauty that I observe just my own mental construct?  Same goes for Good, Evil, God, etc.  have we just invented these concepts in our minds or are we actually aware of them though our Minds?  Both are equally valid points and neither of which can be proven, it just comes down to which you prefer based upon your own understanding.  My philosophical framework is based upon The Cave so naturally I believe that Beauty exists and we are exposed to it no matter how imperfectly.  That's a quick and dirty explanation.

Date: 2007/08/25 08:58:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (IanBrown_101 @ Aug. 25 2007,08:14)
Quote (skeptic @ Aug. 25 2007,08:04)
Ian, I would say that I think that Beauty exists independent of the physical but maybe not independent of existence.  This sortof touches on Stephan's observer comment.  So the question for the observer then becomes am I observing Beauty or is the beauty that I observe just my own mental construct?  Same goes for Good, Evil, God, etc.  have we just invented these concepts in our minds or are we actually aware of them though our Minds?  Both are equally valid points and neither of which can be proven, it just comes down to which you prefer based upon your own understanding.  My philosophical framework is based upon The Cave so naturally I believe that Beauty exists and we are exposed to it no matter how imperfectly.  That's a quick and dirty explanation.

Err....why do you believe this?

Why do you not take the more logical step of accepting that there is no such thing as good or evil, considering the universe as a whole almost certainly could not give two shits about the actions of an individual member of a single sepcies on a backwater planet? Even if there is no other life, why would the universe care, and HOW could it care?

Is this belief knowledge (which you were originally asked to discuss) or not?

You and I (and apparently k.e.) differ in this regard.  It is entirely more satisfying (and logical to me) to believe that it does exist independently.  Who is to say which opinion is better?

Date: 2007/08/25 16:00:28, Link
Author: skeptic
who is the question meaningful to?  The person asking the question!  Who answers the question? the person asking the question!  How hard is this to understand.  How does the person answer the question?  Does he do a study, collect statistics, make observations, compile evidence?  That sure does depend on the question being asked now doesn't.  If the person want to know do seatbelts reduce traffic fatalities, then yes he may well do that.  If the question is whether or not abortion is wrong then he most likely will not do that.  Either way the question is answered and there is no certainty that the answer is the correct one.  Does that mean that there is no correct answer in either case?  No!  As far as seatbelts are concerned, based upon the predetermined conditions there will be a correct answer.  For abortion, we just don't know.  For one, we don't know what the actual predetermined conditions are so there is no way to arrive at a correct answer.  We answer that question as best we can based upon our beliefs and we go with it.  The question is not meaningless nor is the answer and to assert so is just plain stupid.

If Beauty exists in my Mind which one of you can say that it doesn't?  And if it exists in my Mind whose to say that it doesn't exist independent of my Mind?  No matter how hard you try and how many ridiculous insults you throw around none of you can answer these questions for anyone but yourselves.  There is no evidence that can be presented, there is no physical observations that can be made, there are no general parameters that can be set.  How can this be so hard for people to get their heads around?  My only conclusion is that it must be denial and fear.  "What happens if there is something that can not be answered by science, what does that mean for me and my worldview?"

regardless, of all that we've reached an impasse and in my mind we've only proven one thing:  science and religion are in conflict with one another only if we require them to be and some of us require them to be.

Date: 2007/08/25 17:17:08, Link
Author: skeptic
If you're looking for a word count then you will continue to be disappointed.  This is not a difficult concept and Louis has repeated his point to the extreme.  The reason he feels he must beat the dead horse is because he refuses to acknowledge that differing opinions even exist.  If anyone here has taken an introductory philosophy or ethics class you'll agree that these concepts are basic.

Date: 2007/08/26 09:59:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Aug. 25 2007,20:33)
Quote (skeptic @ Aug. 25 2007,17:00)
If Beauty exists in my Mind which one of you can say that it doesn't? ?And if it exists in my Mind whose to say that it doesn't exist independent of my Mind? ?No matter how hard you try and how many ridiculous insults you throw around none of you can answer these questions for anyone but yourselves. ?There is no evidence that can be presented, there is no physical observations that can be made, there are no general parameters that can be set. ?How can this be so hard for people to get their heads around? ?My only conclusion is that it must be denial and fear. ?"What happens if there is something that can not be answered by science, what does that mean for me and my worldview?"

regardless, of all that we've reached an impasse and in my mind we've only proven one thing: ?science and religion are in conflict with one another only if we require them to be and some of us require them to be.

Skeptic - try this:

Beauty is subjective in the same sense that the taste of foods is subjective. If you find beets tasty, and I don't, who can say that I am right, and you are wrong? No one.

Simultaneously, I think it easy to see that there is no sense in which foods objectively have particular "tastes," including the values of "tastes good" vs. "tastes bad," apart from the organisms that consume them. The taste of a particular food reflects both the likely nutritional content/safety of the food relative to the states and needs of particular organisms - a relationship established over the long evolutionary history of both organism and foodstuff. When there is a match, that food tastes "good." This is not to say that the chemical composition of foods has no bearing upon taste; we are adapted to detect sugars, salts and gluatmates (Umami), as well as to experience disgust in response to certain combinations of taste and odor. Yet surely the fact that some foods taste "too salty" is a relative, not objective, fact. In short, there is no taste "independent of" organisms who do the tasting.

IMHO beauty - certainly the beauty of other persons but also other forms of beauty, reflects similar admixtures of the characteristics of the object itself relative to the characteristics (needs, states) of the organism experiencing that object. This is obvious vis sexual attractiveness but is also likely the case with respect to other forms of beauty, as well as forms of revulsion - in a manner analogous to taste, as described above. With respect to human beings, the person and object have a relationship that is likely grounded simultaneously in evolutionary, cultural and personal history. The resulting experience of beauty is no less relational than the example of taste.

Indeed, it is the embeddedness of these subjective judgments in the relationship between person and object (food, persons, art, natural beauty) that endow you with the final authority with respect to what you find beautiful. If beauty does exist independently, then it would be possible for you to find something beautiful, yet be wrong. "We looked, and although you find your child beautiful, we've determined that at a level independent of and external to all observers she is not. You are wrong." And, as the example of one's child, the things we find beautiful are often also the things we love - surely a relational state if ever there was one. Simultaneuosly, that these qualities inhere in a relationship between subject and object, and the characterstics of both, also renders discussion of beauty in the the absence of observers empty of meaning.

What exists in the world is not beauty that exists independently of our minds, but rather objects, and creatures like ourselves who find objects beautiful.

[persnickety edits for clarity and beauty]

[edit for obvious yet interesting twist]:

Of course, in nature most things consumed, however tasty to the consumer, only become "food" at all by virtue of their being consumed by another organism, and are not at all thrilled by the conversion.

Skeptic: are you willing to say that exquisitely good steaks have "beauty" in their subtle and savory taste that can be said to exist independently of the observer/consumer of that particular animal muscle?

Bill, this is a perfectly rational explanation of "taste" and "beauty" and represents a valid viewpoint.  The alternative is, and this is where Lenny and I part ways, is if there is in fact an independent concept of Taste and Beauty.  This is where religion, inspiration, revelation, meditation, imagination, etc jump in.  These are irrational sources of knowledge that propose to answer the unanswerable question.  This does not mean that the answer is correct or as Lenny points out that there is even an answer but it is an attempt.

Consider this.  Take the question, "What is Beauty?"  I would say that mankind has been trying to answer that question since its earliest existence through art.  It has had an impact throughout history and has contributed to the human experience.  Is it "knowledge?"  I would say yes and others may disagree so the real conflict may actually be "What is knowledge and who gets to decide?"

Might I suggest, Science, Religion, and the Human Experience edited by James D. Proctor.  This is a collection of lectures given at UC Santa Barbara and it represents views all over the spectrum that we've been discussing.  Some I agree with some I don't and some I'm still thinking about but most important the collection shows that this is not a monolithic topic.  There are many different viewpoints discussed and it might be useful for us to remember that.

Date: 2007/08/26 12:20:55, Link
Author: skeptic
The trick is finding that level independent and external.  Lenny (and Louis, for that matter) says it doesn't exist.  Religion says it is God. Art says it is inspiration.  In all cases, we can not rationally access this level, we require some (or no) authority to tell us what it is.  So the truth is your child may be beautiful or not.  What does your authority tell you?  And just to save Lenny the trouble, your authority may be You.  In any case, this question is only answered by reason if reason is your authority otherwise you're seeking elsewhere for the answer.

Date: 2007/08/27 11:54:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Translation:  Those people who agree with me, I applaud and those that do not I ignore - Louis.

Date: 2007/08/28 08:12:15, Link
Author: skeptic
Because I'm an optimist, I will try one more time but I fear I'm just talking to a child in both attitude and intellect.

Is a sunrise beautiful? and if so, Why?

Date: 2007/08/28 12:11:16, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you are simply delusional.  You've proven nothing and failed to answer simple questions repeatedly all the while claiming your superiority.  It is simply sad.

Bill, I'm not sure sure it is the proper context to say that steaks have beauty in their taste.  It might be more appropriate to say that beauty can be accessed through taste in general as with other senses.  So that then the taste of the steak reveals Beauty in the experience of eating the steak.  This really may come down to quibbling about what is Beauty.  If Beauty exists it will be independent of all consumers and may not actually be accessable.  Ask yourself this, what is it about the taste of a steak that may invoke thoughts of beauty?  Taste may simply be sensory response to stimuli which is purely physical in this regard but why does it seem to transcend this to many people?

Is a sunrise beautiful and if so why?

Date: 2007/08/28 17:27:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you're dealing in word games and evasion.  Exceedingly long word games at that.  Why don't you just answer a question?  Is there something so threatening in that request?

You guys are also dancing around the point.  If someone views a sunrise and finds it beautiful, why is to so and what does that mean to them?  Imagine if there was no one else in the world and the individual viewed that same sunrise, would it still be beautiful?  Now, imagine that the individual has never seen a sunrise but still imagines one to be beautiful, is it still beautiful?  Where does the concept of beauty reside?

Date: 2007/08/29 08:46:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, who's context?

Date: 2007/08/29 10:02:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Aug. 29 2007,09:18)
Quote (Erasmus @ FCD,Aug. 29 2007,15:06)
louis it is true that you are saying these are questions that don't have answers?

All questions have answers by definition*.

Not all things that appear to be qustions or are framed as questions are, in fact, questions.

Some of the things that appear to be questions are incoherent and thus cannot, by definition, be questions.


*Whether they have answers YET is a different matter, as is whether you, I, or anyone else will ever know the answers and irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Context determines whether or not a question is indeed a question?  I'm not sure if this is simply stupid or incredibly arrogant.

Take this scenario.  I ask you Why you love your wife.  Who gets to decide the context?  You tell me that you love your wife because God linked your souls for eternity or something equally irrational.  I say, I'm sorry, that's not correct.  Population X has determined that love is defined by A, B, and C and your reason is not on the list.  Please go back and try again or I can only conclude that you do not love your wife, at least not according to my context which is the only way this question is meaningful to me.  Who gets to decide which questions are meaningful?  How about everyone!  You should really go back and read some of what you've written.  And before you ask, I have no interest in restating your opinion to your satisfaction.  This is nothing more than a diversion and I have no intention in arguing in the schoolyard with a three year old.

Date: 2007/08/29 10:21:28, Link
Author: skeptic
But doesn't that question mean something to you?  Obviously it does or you wouldn't have decked me.  Is it really a stupid question?  How much more significant in the course of your day is that answer to that question than the speed of light or some other physical quantity?

Date: 2007/08/29 12:35:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Erasmus, FCD @ Aug. 29 2007,10:30)
of course you miss the point, again. ?mighta hit you harder than i meant (of course, it could have been because you were really drunk and took a swing at me).

the point was namely that To You, any answer is as good as any other answer to that question. ?

that would be my position as well except that i don't think it is a meaningful question. ?just a string of words soliciting my opinion.

isn't it just amazing that people add meaning to meaningless things? ?how about a three tier waterfall symbolizing the trinity? ?or that time when the phone rang right when i was thinking about it ringing? ?or assigning some ontological priority to sloppy propositions?

I'm going to have to step back here and say that I'm not really sure what you're trying to say.

To me, my answer is not just as good as any other.  Are you saying that to you my answer is just as good as any other?

adding meaning to a meaningless thing?  love is meaningless and we attach fake meaning to it?  I'm really not sure I'm getting you ears are still ringing.

Date: 2007/08/29 17:58:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Hey, Lenny, you've repeated yourself multiple times does this mean that by Louis' definition you win?  Oh, no, that's right, you did it in less than 1000 words.  Sorry, you still lose Lenny.  :D

Date: 2007/08/29 20:29:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Watch out, Lenny, you're kicking your word count up there.  

I'd like to focus on the initial question real quick.  Is there a rift between science and religion.  Now, Louis, it appears that we may need to place that question in context for it to have any meaning.

If you take rift to mean a separation between the two areas then I fully agree.  The two areas are completely separated and the discussion is over.  Yes there is a rift between science and religion.

If you mean rift to mean necessary conflict then I say no and I'd like to offer this as an example:

Take two questions,

What is the speed of sound?

Is murder wrong?

Now who am I going to turn to for the answers?  I believe we all can agree on one thing (unbelievable as it may sound), we will not turn to a theologian to discover the speed of sound.  Anyone who disagrees with that?...No hands, good.  Some will ask the theologian is murder wrong and I feel vaguely confident that we'll all agree that SOME will do this.  Still with me?

Again, I believe we'll find universal agreement that we'll ask the scientist what is the speed of sound.  Still no problems.  The question gets clouded when we examine the final scenario.  Do we ask the scientist is murder wrong?  From what we've seen here that is a very complex answer.  No, yes, maybe, what's the point, there is no answer, etc.  As in the case of the theologian being a source for the answer to this question to many people, I will have to concede that there are many who may answer yes to the scientist too.

So we've got two individuals answering the same question in some cases but what of their answers.  Is there any continuity in the answers?  Would either be satisfied with the other's answer?  Do the two different answers necessarily conflict?  I'd say in all three cases, no.  In fact, I would say that an examination of the answers would reveal that they are actually answers to two very different questions.  I would say that you can not compare these two answers in any meaningful way.  Even if the answer is the same the opposing methodology in each case is unacceptable to the other individual.  It would be more appropriate to ignore the alternate answer than to engage in any debate over the merit of one answer over the other.  The two individuals are at an impasse from initial conditions.

So what does all this mean?  You'll notice throughout I've emphasized that this is my opinion and it appears that is where this discussion ends.  I compartmentalize science and religion, reason and faith to such a degree that there is no conflict, for me.  Others may view this differently and come to the opposite conclusion.  So who is right?  I say both because ultimately we're just making assessments of our own opinions and nothing more.  

that's how I see it as clearly and plainly as I can state it.  I'll leave it to the rest of you to continue you express how you see it.  Good night.

Date: 2007/08/29 21:20:42, Link
Author: skeptic
The theologian and the scientist are merely metaphors for science and religion and not literal individuals.  But your point is taken and we are much more complex as individuals which is why I offered my example of compartmentalization.

Date: 2007/08/29 23:44:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, you miss one looming issue.  The rational man may use the method to pick the best mate based upon all agreed upon criteria, even his own, but does that mean that he loves his mate.  Is love subject to a selection criteria?  It is a worn out anecdote about the couple who where perfect for each other and still didn't work out.

Henry (and Lenny), I can't argue that some on the religious side commit the same error as those on the scientific side.  They are equally wrong, IMO.  I do not believe religion is the universal answer.  I believe religion, as science, has a limited role to play in the collection of knowledge and each should keep their hands to themselves.  I see no conflict precisely because I see boundaries around each of them that are impenetrable.

Date: 2007/08/30 00:41:42, Link
Author: skeptic
it could be said that one may escape from an asylum... :D

Date: 2007/08/30 08:39:07, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, the problem is we have read what you've written.  Maybe you don't know what you've actually written.  I'd suggest you go away and come back when you're interested in holding a mature discussion but my guess is that option doesn't appeal to you so just go away.

Date: 2007/08/30 11:08:38, Link
Author: skeptic
lol, of course he's listening, he's paranoid, remember?

Stephan, Louis' arguments are fully understood and it's a waste of time to restate them.  It fact, everyone's position is fully understood at this point.  In my opinion, it looks like we're done we just haven't blown the whistle yet.

Date: 2007/08/30 13:20:34, Link
Author: skeptic
It's become abundantly clear that Louis is the one confused about the nature of the dispute here.  His latest posts display that prominently.  Ask yourself this, Louis, is it possible for you to be in error about your own opinion?  If you are then you may want to consult help.  For the record, I don't believe that is necessary.  Your opinion stands and it is not in error for you.  If an error can said to be committed it is when you extend your opinion as a universal truth based upon your own say-so.

Date: 2007/08/31 01:21:40, Link
Author: skeptic
No, Lenny, you're right.  There's been no real discussion of a religion here.  Nor should there be because all religions fall under this umbrella.

Ian, I can sum it up for you very simply.  There are three opinions here being expressed.  On the matter of abstract concepts,

Louis says they don't exist.  All knowledge is or potentially is accessable through reason and context.

Lenny says they exist indepedently for every person rendering them off limits to reason and context because the range of answers is infinite (being based upon every single person and every potential person).

I say they exist separate and independent of us and our understanding of these concepts really only scrap the surface but there is no way to know the actual *correct* answer because we can not actually fully access these concepts.

based upon these opinions, Louis requires a conflict between science and religion whereas Lenny and I do not, for similar yet different reasons.

That's it in a nutshell and all the rest of the back and forth and name-calling is just pointless.

BTW, Lenny, I don't think an additional thread is necessary as you answer the question, or should I say define the question, rather adequately.

let me know if anyone has anything new to say; otherwise, good night all.

Date: 2007/08/31 10:42:58, Link
Author: skeptic
Wow, what an long unnecessary crock.  To you, Louis, these may be meaningless question or non-questions.  To the rest of humanity throughout history we see and entirely different story.  But in the world according to Louis, you're right and and everyone else is wrong.  Either that or they're involved in this vast conspiracy against to quote-mine, misrepresent, and otherwise annoy you.  Do you know Hilary Clinton?  It seems you two would have much to talk about.

So, Louis doesn't accept the existence of abstract universal concepts, hmm sounds familiar.  Also sounds like an opinion to me.  Louis asks for evidence if these concepts actually exist.  Well where does that evidence come from?  Louis says it must come from reason or else it is invalid.  Again sounds like an opinion to me.  I'm glad we've got Louis here to completely define for us the nature of reality.  Saves me alot of time and I can throw all these books out.  

But before I do maybe I'll take a second look.  This question "is abortion wrong" it seems to be a hot topic.  many people disagree about the answer.  But how is this possible if it's not really a question or a question with no reason.  Must be a definition problem cause now I'm not sure what "wrong" means because I lack the proper context.  Wrong either means nothing without reasoned parameters or it means different things to different people.  Yep, I'm gonna go with the second one because that makes more sense to me and more correctly reflects the world I see everyday.  But people still ask the question...hmm why is that?  Don't they know that there is no reasoned answer because there lacks a consistent context in the form it is in.  Those silly people, what are we gonna do with them?  Maybe they're part of the conspiracy too.

How 'bout I ask someone and find out.  That fine man looks to be a good subject.

"Sir, may I ask you a question?"


"Is abortion wrong?"

"Yes, it is wrong."

"Really, are you sure that is the case?  I've been told it's not really a question."

"No actually it's a very important question.  Where have you been for the last 16 years."

"Why is abortion wrong?"

"Because abortion is murder."

"And murder is wrong?  Are we sure?  That doesn't sound like a question to me either."

"Of course murder is wrong.  Where are you from?"

"Why is murder wrong?"

"Because all life is sacred and it comes from God."

"Oh.  Well that sounds like an answer to me.  May not be the right one but I appreciate your time anyway."

So in this case it appears that if you believe in God you can arise at an answer to that unanswerable question.  Somehow, I think its more complex than that but again that is probably just my opinion.

Date: 2007/09/01 01:18:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Aug. 31 2007,22:04)
This thread began with the question of whether a rift between science and religion is inevitable. The focus became rather narrow: upon the applicability of science to questions that may be characterized as subjective, ethical, moral, and aesthetic. Lenny argued that if there are domains to which science cannot address itself, and religions confine their concerns to those domains (aesthetic, moral, ethical), then no clash is evident.

But this post (of mine) was not remarked upon:

Oops. I just remembered.

Virtually all of the findings of contemporary neuroscience conflict with the central tenet of most religions: that we have/are a detachable ghost (soul) that hangs around after the body dies and bears into one or another future (into a new reintarnation, into eternity in heaven or hell) elements of personality such as identity, memory, desires, and accountability for past behaviors. Current neuroscience clearly indicates that virtually all characteristics previously attributable to something like a soul are functions of living tissue, functions that cease when the body dies.

Plus Denyse O'leary just wrote a book stating the opposite, which further strengthens my case.

Other than that, no conflict.

This raises an issue that goes beyond those raised to date. As I see it, when religions press the notion of a "detachable ghost" (an immortal soul), it finds itself squatting squarely in a domain that has been captured by science (particularly neuroscience). Neuroscience increasingly demonstrates the emptiness of dualism, and increasingly shows us that minds (and consciousness) are what brains do (much as digestion is something that stomachs and intestines do). To increasing degrees, the faculties that were once assigned to something like an immortal, immaterial soul (memory, identity, cognition, executive functioning, etc.) have clear and indisputable origins in increasingly well articulated brain functioning.

The notion that an additional unseen entity (a soul) is riding atop and somehow guiding all of these patently brain-based activities, and is required to understand those activities (and the behaviors that result), represents a clear instance of an intrusion of a religious postulate into a domain that clearly CAN be and IS being addressed by science - with an obvious clash, much to the detriment of detachable ghost religion.

Similarly, although science can't bring direct evidence to bear upon this final point, the notion of a soul that bears these faculties into the future following death becomes obviously untenable as the grounding of those feature in brain activities - in living tissue - is increasingly articulated.

Given that the notion of an immaterial, immortal soul - a soul that nevertheless interacts with and guides our bodies - is a central feature of most (but not all religions), one that addresses the primary problem that religions have been devised to address (the problem of death), I would say here we have an instance of a clear, inevitable, and likely unresolvable rift between science and many religions.

What say ye?

(Except you, Krabs. Don't care what you say.)

It does not if the soul exists beyond our physical reality.  Hence there is no physical evidence for it.  There's the say-so of religious doctrine.  There's meditation, transcendation, prayer, etc.  But nothing that can be examined by science to evaluate its existence.  So religion uses the idea or concept of the soul to convey the ideas of continuity, unity and infinity which are again abstract ideas.  Religion does not use the soul to discuss electrochemical reactions in the brain, patterns of neural firing, etc.  If it did then conflict would be in order because religion would have stepped out of its boundaries.  The same mistake science makes when used to declare that no physical evidence for the soul exists therefore there is nothing beyond physical reality.  How can science discuss a concept of unity with any real validity? It can not and should not and then again there is no conflict.

Date: 2007/09/01 02:38:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Sep. 01 2007,02:16)
And before we all go around AGAIN, the claim that reason (the claim I am making by the way, do remember that science does not map 100% onto reason. I may have mentioned it) CAN and DOES say very effective things about morals, ethics, aesthetics etc has yet to even be dealt with, let alone refuted.

This is your opinion.  If you redefine the questions and provide parameters in which to measure abstract concepts you've eliminated any universal quality and qualified the idea for the scenario at hand.  For example, the questions asked by faith, art, philosophy are specifically universal ones.  It is very easy to look at a particular situation, view the outcomes, measure against certain parameters and arrive at an answer.  This is a much different case from asking whether the concept applies in all cases.

Take for instance, a popular scenario over here, the self-defense plea.  In case A, a man defends himself from an aggressor and kills the man.  If asked if this is wrong, many will say No.  In this specific case the details of the case can be looked at and conclusions rendered using rational means.

It is an entirely different question to say is killing wrong.  That is the question that persists throughout history not the previous that is decided rather quickly in the moment.  You may say that discussion about the universal right or wrongness of murder is meaningless but that is simply your opinion and others will disagree.

So you may point to some reasoned approach to morals and ethics, etc but these are very different questions then those approached by faith.  You would need to prove to me that reason has anything to say about universal morals, aesthetics and ethics because by definition that would be impossible.

Most importantly, Louis, go to bed!  It's got to be the middle of the night over there or very early morning.  Get some sleep.

Date: 2007/09/01 09:06:13, Link
Author: skeptic
I must admit first that I was in error.  I lost track of time here, thinking it was much earlier than it was and it was I who needed to hit the sack.

On the subject of INTERACTION, you simply have no basis to make this assumption.  The nature of the INTERACTION, if it exists, is unknown and troubling, hence the thousands of years of controversy, but that still does not mean that is necessarily detectable in some measurable sense.  You say then how can it even be said to exist?  This is a personal understanding and it's based on...wait for  Just because you personally don't agree still doesn't make it so.  I will offer one question for you to chew on and maybe bring this concept into perspective.  Where does the triangle exist?  Or the circle for that matter?  Are they real?

To put this next issue to bed, how about you offer any specific scientific evidence you have noting an answer of any topic in morals, ethics, aesthetics, etc.  This certainly comes with the risk of immediately recognizing upon examination that this evidence will be in regard to specific situations and not about Morals, Ethics, etc.  Again just because you say these concepts only exist in the specific cases and not in the broader sense is your opinion and others, including me, disagree.  Consequently, being abstract concepts, I believe faith constitutes existence as they certainly exist within my Mind and many others.  But still feel free to offer any evidence you deem appropriate and we'll deal with it.

Date: 2007/09/01 09:06:50, Link
Author: skeptic

Date: 2007/09/01 09:22:39, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Sep. 01 2007,03:31)

I've asked a few questions here and have yet to receive anything approaching an answer (or even in some cases a response). I think I should restate those questions because it seems it is being forgotten that they are still hanging. I might forget a few, so chime in with ones I've forgotten.

a) Demonstrate that faith/revelation provide knowledge about the universe. I.e. that they are valid mechanisms of acquiring knowledge, be it physical or "spiritual" (whatever that means, we'd need a definition, and some evidence it even exists, because saying that reason cannot examine love [for example] is merely yet another reassertion of the original claim).

b) Demonstrate a method for distinguishing between two faith based claims.

c) Demonstrate that reason etc cannot penetrate the areas you claim faith/revelation can, because at the moment all of your examples have been either i) mere reassertions of your original point or ii) derived solely from your personal ignorance of the topics at hand.

d) Demonstrate that questions such as "what is the meaning of life?" are valid questions or valid universally, and that faith/revelation can answer them.

e) Demonstrate that a "religion" that has absolutely no areas of conflict with science at all is distinguishable from a secular, non-religious philosophy or ethical system.

f) Demonstrate that something that is undetectable by any means at all is distinguishable from something that doesn't actually exist.

That's all I can think of for now.


a) over and over again I have given instances in which faith has provided knowledge of a concept.  Because you refuse to accept it as knowledge is your limitation not mine.  But just for the record, "is murder wrong?" - "yes, because all life is sacred."  Whether or not this is the right answer or you agree with it makes no difference it still amounts to personal knowledge for the person asking the question.


c)ask reason to answer "is murder wrong", it can not without forcing the question into a specific scenario and eliminating any universal or individual applicability.  But feel free to try, I'm merely asserting the negative in the absence of evidence you may argue the positive by providing that evidence.

d)these questions are valid because people ask them and continually strive for the answers.  Again just because you refuse to acknowledge the questions as valid doesn't make it so.  Also, faith has provided answers to these questions throughout history, who knows if these are the right answers but they have been the right answers for some because the are not the right answers for you is irrelevant.

e)God exists.  That is a religious tenet, somewhat universal too.  Science has nothing meaningful to say about this statement.  The only conflict arises when science forces one by straying outside of its area of validity.  Of course, this question is the whole point, isn't it?

f)its not, that's called a matter of faith and again it really doesn't matter if you agree with this or not.  This is a matter that individuals must decide for themselves.

As you see, all of these have been stated multiple times before so we just start the circle anew.

Date: 2007/09/01 09:41:56, Link
Author: skeptic
and that minority who does is in error also.  no argument there.  Maybe it is safe to say that science and religion provide the opportunity for conflict if either is incorrectly taken out of context.

Date: 2007/09/01 11:06:08, Link
Author: skeptic
again, what is the actual nature of this INTERACTION?  Sorry but science has nothing to say about that.

Date: 2007/09/01 11:32:53, Link
Author: skeptic
the nature of the INTERACTION is irrelevant to faith only the existence matters.

Date: 2007/09/01 12:27:54, Link
Author: skeptic
You're making an assumption about the nature of the INTERACTION that is unwarranted.  In fact you could extend this assumption to all spiritual or non-physical concepts and say you've proved that they don't exist.  The problem is that the assumption is based upon your opinion of how you think the universe operates.  You are free to have this opinion as are others to disagree.

Date: 2007/09/01 21:02:45, Link
Author: skeptic
faith can be used as a means to acquire knowledge if tenets for the faith are extrapolated to address new questions.  Abortion is not addressed as such in the Bible but an understanding of the murder concept allows abortion to be addressed.  New knowledge is thus gained using faith alone.

Date: 2007/09/02 10:11:53, Link
Author: skeptic
I do not recall the courtier's reply so you'll have to remind me but I will point out that nonsense is a relative term.  One man's junk is another man's treasure.  Also, Henry, you'll have to explain how this is not knowledge.

Date: 2007/09/02 17:01:32, Link
Author: skeptic
faith is probed to determine the original premise that murder is wrong.  That is the original source of knowledge and used in the answering of is abortion wrong.  You take for granted that we know that murder is wrong.  That knowledge had to come from somewhere and in this example it is faith.  To be fair the same answer can come from other sources as well as the opposite answer, makes no difference for our purposes as we're not really discussing whether murder is wrong but the source of the knowledge.

Erasmus, this nonsense says that murder is wrong based upon faith and then extrapolates that out to societal norms that agree that murder is wrong theoretically resulting in a more humane culture.  Is that nonsense achieving something constructive?

Date: 2007/09/02 17:09:25, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry Erasmus, we're gonna have to agree to disagree.  As far as I'm concerned we're still arguing over whether or not the Emperor is really nude.

Date: 2007/09/02 18:50:24, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually, that's not true either.  If you're specifically referring to the Judeo-Christian religions there are references to God knowing an individual inside the womb.  This does not give us a specific day of life but leaves that an open argument for interpretation.  What is does do is offers knowledge that life begins in the womb and is then subject to the murder definition.  I'm not sure what you mean by a black and white determination.  I personally don't see this requirement, especially in the example presented.  

It appears that faith can give us information on this matter and in some cases has.

Date: 2007/09/03 01:56:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, I disagree on two points.  First, the soul is not the source of behavior.  Behavior is the actions taken by an individual as allowed through free will.  I agree that these actions have some impact on the soul but I can in no characterize that impact.  Second, whatever human attributes that we think we can explain scientifically still have no bearing on the functions of the soul.  You believe there is a conflict here because you believe this represents a contradiction.  I do not because I see nothing in science that says anything at all about a soul except for failed methods to try to detect it.  Again, I believe this is a subtly veiled attempt to disprove the existence of the soul because science has eliminated the need for it by explaining away its functions through physical processes.

Finally, don't take it personally if I don't respond to you.  There are many lines of inquiry here and I have limited time so I usually respond where I'm most interested as time allows.

Date: 2007/09/03 01:58:11, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Sep. 02 2007,21:55)
Quote (skeptic @ Sep. 02 2007,17:01)
faith is probed to determine the original premise that murder is wrong. ?That is the original source of knowledge and used in the answering of is abortion wrong. ?You take for granted that we know that murder is wrong. ?That knowledge had to come from somewhere and in this example it is faith. ?To be fair the same answer can come from other sources as well as the opposite answer, makes no difference for our purposes as we're not really discussing whether murder is wrong but the source of the knowledge.

Erasmus, this nonsense says that murder is wrong based upon faith and then extrapolates that out to societal norms that agree that murder is wrong theoretically resulting in a more humane culture. ?Is that nonsense achieving something constructive?

Sorry but I just don't buy it. Faith is not a source of knowledge, it is something that you accept to the point where you no longer test it.

then we must disagree because I see faith as a source of knowledge and I can point to specific instances where that would be the case, unless we have different understandings of the nature of knowledge.

is "murder is wrong" knowledge?

Date: 2007/09/03 08:22:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, I was struck by one similarity in your argument.  God is a spiritual or non-physical or meta-physical agent that in some way interacts with the world, by definition.  If God exists and is undetectable via this interaction then it stands to reason (lol) that souls would fall into this same situation.  In regard to others' opinions as to the actual nature of the soul, I have no real comment as my opinion is no more valid than any other.  I can just say that my view offers no conflict that you are referring to.

[sigh] Louis, both of these statements are knowledge:

The sky is blue.

Murder is wrong.

The only thing that you've demonstrated is your opinion.  Everything else is open for discussion and has been throughout history.  If what you say were actual fact then these question would have been answered long ago by people wiser and smarter than us.  The fact that the questions are still being asked and answered hints at the prospect that your assertion is wrong or at the minimum there are those who disagree.

Date: 2007/09/03 08:52:23, Link
Author: skeptic
evidence please?

If a real world exists, and by this I assume you mean an absolute and universal world, opinions may be more or less correct but we would have no way of making this determination.  We can make statements about the shadows on the cave wall but any statements about the light behind us is purely opinion.  If you're interested in my opinion, the yes, I think the real world exists, we're just can't directly access it.

Bill, again I disagree.  If you place God in the gaps then you have a problem, not you personally.  I do not and I have no problem and I still fail to see anything in neuroscience that says anything about the soul.

As I asked earlier.  Does a triangle exist?  Is a triangle meaningful?

Date: 2007/09/03 16:15:45, Link
Author: skeptic
You're very close.  Triangles do not actually exist and yet we use the concept in unlimited practical applications.  It has been said here that "nonsense" can not produce knowledge and yet here is an example where it apparently does.  Granted, the source of knowledge is not faith but another abstract source.  The point is knowledge can come from something other than physical measurements and observation.  This seems counter-intuitive since science has whole-heartedly adopted this abstract source of knowledge but if examined deep enough it is apparent that the existence of the triangle has no more physical reality than the existence of God.

Date: 2007/09/03 17:06:48, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis what are you blabbering about.  I do nothing but answer questions.

Date: 2007/09/03 19:35:10, Link
Author: skeptic
sorry Henry but thinking does not equate to reason in the context that we are using.  Otherwise would imagination be reason?  Art becomes science?  No, you might want to think rational rather than reason and I'd be interested in a discussion concerning the rationality of geometry but that is way of subject for us.

Date: 2007/09/05 08:10:53, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, Louis but you have your opinion and I have mine.  Because you refuse to accept the answer that's not my fault.  Because you refuse to accept a question is a question again that's not my fault.  By your reasoning faith does not exist because the questions it attempts to answer do not exist either.  You have basically defined away the issue so that only science and reason remain and then they are the only sources of knowledge.  Your opinion certainly but it denies the fact that there are those that disagree, MANY who disagree.  Read Jaron Laneir's article in the September issue of Discover for just one opposing opinion.


Getzal, that's a tough question.  To actually answer that I'd have to have absolute knowledge of the entire universe.  I would say that by definition those interactions would be undetectable by methods that we consider to be science but I in no way know how that is.  You're looking at this very rationally which may not be in order but if we knew the answer then we wouldn't be having this discussion, would we?  One example that I hesitate to offer but it does put the idea of interaction in perspective is those people that claim to be able to talk to the dead or have out of body experiences.  Personally, I don't place much on these claims but who's to say and it points to the kind of interaction that we may need to be looking at not a measurable, observable on.

Date: 2007/09/05 10:38:37, Link
Author: skeptic
There is an impact upon the universe if only in the Minds of those experiencing the interaction.  But again I can not describe or quantify this even though as you say in principle it must be true.

Date: 2007/09/05 11:35:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis you're hopeless.  Until you decide that there are other people in the world other than you this is a meaningless endeavor.

I'll give you one example.  Prove that NOMA is false.  I'm sure you're much smarter than SJG and this should be child's play for you.  Just please back up just one of your idiot assertions.  Oh and for the record, your condescending "trying to me nice to me" comments are wasted on me.  I don't take you seriously enough to be bothered by what you say.

Date: 2007/09/05 12:59:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Here, just on the slight chance that you will have a clue about what you are referring to:


Date: 2007/09/05 15:20:26, Link
Author: skeptic
Stephan, I agree with you.  There is no "need" for a conflict and it is only when either side forces the issue that a conflict arises.  Louis on the other hand believes there must be a conflict.

Date: 2007/09/05 18:22:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Henry, Louis said in his opening post:

1) Epistemiology: Very briefly and roughly speaking science at its core is the acquisition of knowledge by the application of reason and observation. Religion at its core claims to garner knowledge by faith and relevation. These mechanisms (faith/revelation and reason/observation) are diametrically opposed.

Now I want to be very careful about a potential misreading here, I do not mean that in the day to day practise of science there is no use of "faith" by individual scientists (with a very small f), or that people who practise religion are incapable of reason or that in religious teachings no reasoned or observational elements exist. To claim that would be a rampant straw man version of the epistemological argument, so best to get it out the way right now. I also do not mean that a false dilemaa exists; one is either 100% a person of reason, or 100% a person of faith, again this is a straw man.

What I DO mean is that the mechanisms of acquiring knowledge about the universe advocated by science and religion are very different and give different results. They are absolutely anathema to each other, and this is where the very real, very valid conflict between science and religion has its basis.

I take that to mean must but you may interpret that differently.

Erasmus, I know many here are focused on the IDers and from that perspective it is they who are forcing the issue.  From the other side you could highlight Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and say the same.  I believe both groups to be wrong.

As far as Dawkins, I have stated in the past that atheism is like a religion to his like and not merely a lack of religion.  I have taken a lot of slack for that statement and we don't need to rehash that discussion but in the context of the present discussion I'm not saying exactly what you're implying.  Not exactly.

I would say that Dawkins replaces religion with science or that science is his religion.  The science itself is still based on quantifiable data and looses none of its rational basis when applied appropriately.  Dawkins then extends it into the realm of Faith to answer questions that would typically be answered by religion.  He has faith that science can answer these questions.  That's the distinction as I see it and I hope I was able to communicate it effectively.

Date: 2007/09/05 23:56:28, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm pressed for time but you guys have raised two questions I'd like to get into in more depth.  One, a concept of a soul that somehow does not cross into the realm of scientific investigation and two, how faith can generate knowledge through various sources such as revelation and what that knowledge looks like.  The second is certainly a rehash but I don't feel (and I assume you all agree) that I've adequately expounded on this topic in a coherent manner.  I'll get to work on these two and get back to you.

sidenote, Ian, I apologize for the American slang.  Slack and flak are somewhat interchangeable over here but let's try to avoid the discussion of the failings of American English (or more specifically, my use of it, lol).

Date: 2007/09/06 04:36:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, thank you for missing the point and failing to answer a question once again.  You just don't understand that assertions based on your say-so are nothing more than opinions and prove or refute nothing except to yourself.  The World According to Louis must be a disappointing place where everyone else is constantly so wrong and you're the only one who sees things correctly, eh?  Wake up, Louis.

Date: 2007/09/07 15:06:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Sep. 06 2007,06:46)
Quote (skeptic @ Sep. 06 2007,00:56)
I'm pressed for time but you guys have raised two questions I'd like to get into in more depth. ?One, a concept of a soul that somehow does not cross into the realm of scientific investigation and two, how faith can generate knowledge through various sources such as revelation and what that knowledge looks like. ?The second is certainly a rehash but I don't feel (and I assume you all agree) that I've adequately expounded on this topic in a coherent manner. ?I'll get to work on these two and get back to you...

As you develop your thoughts on "a soul that somehow does not cross into the realm of scientific investigation" I'd be interested to hear your acknowledgment that that THIS sort of soul:
"a special substance, endowed with reason, adapted to rule the body" (Augustine)...Souls are immaterial subjects of mental properties. They have sensations and thoughts, desires and beliefs, and perform intentional actions. Souls are essential parts of human beings..." Roman Catholic beliefs:... The soul is the center of the human will, intellect (or mind), and imagination (or memory), and the source of all free human acts, although good acts are aided by God's grace.

IS central to many religious systems and DOES cross into the realm of scientific investigation. Your previous response was to assert a different sort of soul, but my point is that this very common conception is in conflict with science, since it postulates a basis for human behavior that competes with naturalistic accounts.

No one is arguing that ALL notions that are religious in nature conflict with the scientific world picture. But some clearly do. This one does. And it is quite central to most Christian views of morality and it's consequences, as well as the consequences of belief vs. "unbelief" (the Christian made-up word that lands with a groaning "thud"). I find it difficult to see how a concept of soul designed not to entail agency can do the moral work that this more common conception accomplishes.

I for one would be grateful if you would acknowledge the above and either assent to it or state why it is incorrect, rather than maneuver around it, before going on to report your own view.

It would be very difficult for me to make a determination as to the universal nature of this definition.  To be honest, I've never read this before and it may well represent a common view but there is no way I could know that.  One thing that struck me after reading this was the insistence that the soul directs actions and has some independent existence.  On a personal note, I see a direct contradiction with the notion of free will that is also central to many religious beliefs.  Again, that is just my thoughts and I am at a loss to make a judgment concerning a conflict.  I would say, and agree with you, that this definition of a soul would open itself up to possible conflict depending upon interpretation.

Date: 2007/09/07 18:34:02, Link
Author: skeptic
I've always pictured the soul as a passive object similar to a vessel.  It contains the essence of the person almost as if an impression was left upon by the actions and behaviors of the person.  The idea of the soul in that quote reminds me more of what I would call the Mind.  But I agree there's no objective way we can talk about it.  In the same way, I think this leaves science out of it because that is the language that science speaks in.  The problem also with the potential conflicts with science is we have no real was to assess these conflicts.  As I see it, even if we were to assume that the souls directs behaviors and we isolate the chemical processes associated with said behaviors does this rule out the existence of the soul.  No, maybe it eliminates the necessity of the soul but that's not entirely the same thing.  Since we can not completely describe the universe there's limitations to science even in those areas we can objectively pursue.  Who knows how much more is objective and beyond our understanding and subjective and applicable to different methods of understanding, i.e. irrational methods?

Date: 2007/09/09 20:35:40, Link
Author: skeptic
maybe it's some kind of weird nationalistic movement.  The monk that formulated the 6000 yr old Earth was an Irishman, unfortunately.

Date: 2007/09/10 15:54:40, Link
Author: skeptic
one correction, Erasmus:

Louis: and you're dishonest

there, that's better.

Date: 2007/09/10 19:02:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually you couldn't be more wrong.  I'm not asking you to do anything.  I'm telling you what I do and nothing more.  Personally, I wouldn't throw away a perfectly good way of thinking I'd augment it.  This is not an either-or-situation.

Lenny, if you're still out there, you might be interested to know that I'm reading Capra's Web of Life and it's interesting to hear his explanation of why there is and isn't conflict.  Essentially, we represent the intersection of the two realms of faith and reason and we can not separate them within ourselves but at the same time we should know the difference where one applies and the other doesn't.  Seems very neat and tidy but I'll keep reading to see what I think.

Date: 2007/09/11 00:43:21, Link
Author: skeptic
I would say that that is the point where you put your thoughts, ideas, etc into action.  I'm not so sure that a blanket statement can be made that those ideas are up for falsification.  The actions may be and that falls right into Louis' context argument.  The actions under said conditions can then be judged against expected outcomes.  I wouldn't say in all cases that the initial idea is necessarily up for falsification.  Does that make any sense?  It may be just my bias as an idealist but I would view the idea as "pure" until utilized by man and that makes it subject to "corruption."  It's getting late and I'm not sure that even makes sense to me.  I'll get some sleep and try again tomorrow.

Date: 2007/09/14 00:02:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I seem to remember that we had some physicists here and I was trying to digest what I was reading today so here goes.  If all matter reduces down to the quantum foam and is essentially probabilities, what are the implications for physical reality?  Just got me thinking.  Thanks for any replies.

Date: 2007/09/14 00:04:36, Link
Author: skeptic
not to get too personal but what school would invite him?

Date: 2007/09/14 00:33:23, Link
Author: skeptic
whoa, 10k.  I wonder how much his honorarium is?  This guy might be much smarter than you all give him credit for, lol.

Date: 2007/09/14 11:13:17, Link
Author: skeptic
say what you want but that's 10k that you and I don't have.  Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with a thing he says but I don't think I'd call him stupid.  Deluded, fanatical, or dreamer but not stupid.

Date: 2007/09/18 08:35:36, Link
Author: skeptic
sorry, I missed something here.  Could you go back and expand on "the mental process that controls the genome?"  Not sure what you mean by that.  Also, SS, you really didn't expect to get an answer to your question here, did you?

Date: 2007/09/18 16:50:45, Link
Author: skeptic
what about Deadman?

Date: 2007/09/18 19:30:50, Link
Author: skeptic
I'll also point out, not necessarily in SS's defense, that if you're looking for an accurate prediction of reality then relativity is broken too.  It is, as was pointed out, a further refinement but ultimately just an approximation also.  Future scientists will probably look back and argue over how we could have clung to this rough approximation for so long.  That's what I love about science.

Date: 2007/09/19 12:12:47, Link
Author: skeptic
SS, I think you might accidentally be heading in the right general direction but I need to know for sure.  Please get specific and expand on this idea that the mind influences genetic variation and environmental adaptation.  What are the mechanisms behind this or the evidence you believe that points you in this direction?  IMO, you use of the term may be misleading but let's see how you frame it.

Date: 2007/09/19 17:11:36, Link
Author: skeptic
Now wait a minute, first the mind is undefinable and then genetic information is just the physical manifestation of the mind?  Let's settle on something.  If we're going to apply scientific investigation then we must define it or else leave it as a meta-physical concept and move on to what we can define.  Let's go in one direction but not both.

Date: 2007/09/19 17:13:38, Link
Author: skeptic
I was hoping otherwise but I wasn't sure.  It's been so long since he's been around anyway.  He may not be available.

Date: 2007/09/19 21:22:41, Link
Author: skeptic
sorry, you can't throw out a statement that the mind is the physical manifestation of the gene and then retreat to an undefinable gene and an undefinable mind shared by a living things, whatever living means.  You actually need to state what you mean when you say mind and living or else your statements have no meaning.  I could easily say that the genome is governed by porridge and you can't prove otherwise cause in reality genome and porridge (and govern, for that matter) have no meaning.

Date: 2007/09/19 23:00:34, Link
Author: skeptic
in this post, what do you mean by genes, evolution and natural selection?  If all of life is meaningless then everything you've said is meaningless and amounts to nothing.

Date: 2007/09/20 19:02:38, Link
Author: skeptic
SS, I stopped reading around pg 15 or so because it's evident you don't know what you're talking about.  I propose we lock this thread now so no more time is wasted.

To try to push you in the right direction, though, consider this:

Natural selection does not exist as a physical process.  NS is nothing more than a description of life as we know it.  There is no creative power to NS.  Animals are born, they live, they compete and they die, period.  Those that "live" the best propagate more.  It's just that simple.  Traits are not selected for except in our retrospective observations.  We can not debate you about NS because 1) you don't understand it and, 2) accepting your premise would mean denying observable reality.  This is tiresome and you give thinking religious people a bad name.

With that, I repeat that this thread is worthy of locking.  Any seconds?

Date: 2007/09/20 19:06:41, Link
Author: skeptic
doesn't this always require an observer?  Some kind of tree falling in the woods analogy?

Date: 2007/09/20 19:13:39, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not so sure he's actually even articulated a valid creationist argument.  No pun intended.

Date: 2007/09/20 20:12:24, Link
Author: skeptic
LOL, you don't know who you're talking to young man.  Do your homework.

Date: 2007/09/20 21:49:44, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, funny how relative some things are, isn't it.  :D

Date: 2007/09/21 15:55:35, Link
Author: skeptic
pain in the butt for the poor Daphnia that have to act as the early warning signal, lol.

actually, I'd go so far as to say that most changes are in response to environmental stimuli and if that's the case then SS's beef is with RM but he doesn't understand either well enough to know that.  

By the way, did I miss something?  Has he been banned so soon?

Date: 2007/09/22 01:24:01, Link
Author: skeptic
still, I have to say I feel somewhat paranoid now.  I've never dreamed that getting banned was that easy.

Date: 2007/09/24 08:27:04, Link
Author: skeptic
I knew there was a reason it was so quiet and peaceful.

Date: 2007/09/24 15:41:59, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Sep. 24 2007,10:37)
Quote (skeptic @ Sep. 24 2007,14:27)
I knew there was a reason it was so quiet and peaceful.

I wonder, is this a pathetic attmept at sarcasm or yet further evidence that Skeptic can't actually read?

Either way, it says little that is good about the tiresome excresence.


Just a statement of fact (you do know what is, don't you).  It has been quiet and peaceful.

Date: 2007/09/25 12:12:18, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, the truth is you tire me.  Not only are you frequently wrong in your extrapolations but you are rude and wrong.  I have better ways to apply my time then to deal with your immature whining.  You hit the nail on the head when you noted that I engage in civil conversations on this board.  But I don't really expect you to identify the common denominator in that analogy.  I'll give you a hint, go ask Lenny.  Not that I really expect anything different so carry on.

Date: 2007/09/25 14:01:03, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not sure which you are referring to, my comments to SS or to Louis?

Date: 2007/09/25 16:08:04, Link
Author: skeptic
I quickly came to the conclusion that he had no idea what he was talking about.  The only thing I was convinced of was that he could cut and paste.  As far as the first comment, I made that early on when I assumed he was actually interested in some kind of discussion.  Clearly, I was wrong.  But to my point, or alleged point, there tends to be much more emphasis on the individual here rather than the idea.  I find that unfortunate and distracting.  I know this forum is largely entertainment and real discussion is secondary but I do long for civil discourse sometimes.

There we go, I'm done with my "I have a dream..." moment.  :D

Date: 2007/09/25 18:42:11, Link
Author: skeptic
is "flanneling" a real word?

Date: 2007/09/25 18:56:13, Link
Author: skeptic
lol, must be in the Oxford's.

Date: 2007/09/25 21:10:48, Link
Author: skeptic
how graphic, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry!

Date: 2007/09/25 22:29:07, Link
Author: skeptic
This one has potential.

TP, welcome and thank you for spicing up a dull evening but I have a few issues.

I sit firmly is the "no random acts" camp and if I interpret Gene correctly then life becomes inevitable as I also believe but to echo k.e., creeky, et. al. this falls well short of ID in any form.

Even dropping "intelligent" you're still left with "design" and that means "intent".  Whether is is the "intent" of God, the Cosmic Mind or the Circle of Life doesn't matter because it is an unmeasurable property.  Using science to attempt to support the existence of an unmeasurable property violates NOMA in a very sneaky way.  Just because our ignorance creates the appearance of "magic" doesn't establish the possibility of other truly magical claims.  I fear you fall into the same trap as other IDers by extrapolating science outside of it's valid application.

That being said, this is very entertaining and I await more.  Go ahead, convince me.

Date: 2007/09/26 01:17:41, Link
Author: skeptic
actually, I would disagree, that version of ID is nothing more than Monday-morning quarterbacking.  The fact that all these things may be true still does not mean design.  Just as non-random does not mean design it just means causation.  You may be using design in a completely different way but ID uses it to mean purposeful and deliberate which is not the same as inevitable.  Your proof may mean nothing more than the Universe appears to have designed itself when you look back from this point but there can be no definitive evidence either way.  I'll look up CSI to see what you're implying and maybe you should reevaluate "design" in the context you are using.

Date: 2007/09/26 09:42:51, Link
Author: skeptic
Thanks Wes, I looked up his paper last night but your perspective will balance that out.  D's primary premise is unproven and maybe unprovable.  The question as to whether information is fundamental or just a construct of the human mind balances his whole house of cards.  I saw no evidence that this premise may be taken as fact.  Without that, CSI seems philosophy and not science.

Date: 2007/09/26 09:48:27, Link
Author: skeptic
sorry, never took latin so that particular reference leaves me scratching my head otherwise I'll have to defer to your experience in these matters.   :D   Yes. yes, I know.  I just read that you were never actually violated.  It was a joke.  Had to get that out there before I was accused of something else.

Date: 2007/09/27 00:18:17, Link
Author: skeptic
gone so soon, what a letdown.

Date: 2007/09/29 02:08:54, Link
Author: skeptic
TP, there is another camp.  The view that particles and waves are only the appearance of matter depending upon the method of observation.  The actual structure of matter is more than the sum of the two and as yet undescribed by us.  Particles appear when the particle nature is observed and so forth.  not really of any value in this discussion but I did want to point out that it's not as cut and dried as two choices.

Date: 2007/09/30 18:28:13, Link
Author: skeptic
I choose Philosophy of Science class but to be more appropriate I would prefer a straight philosophy class.  My 2 cents.

Date: 2007/10/04 19:13:32, Link
Author: skeptic
yep, pretty busy, in fact, I don't think I've posted anywhere in a few days.  Besides the obvious, I don't having any urge to listen to anymore of your crap so the silence suits me just fine.

Date: 2007/10/05 07:27:00, Link
Author: skeptic
The point of a discussion is an exchange of ideas and a broadening of a topic, at least those are two productive  results.  I have to be able to justify that my time will be utilized constructively or it's just not worth it.  You have no interest in discussion or any exchange of ideas.  You're a hack who's only interested in scoring points and witty profanity.  In short, you have nothing to add to this discussion and I have no interest in playing games.  Sorry, you'll have to exercise your delusions and obscene incredulity elsewhere and on someone else.  Also, don't bother responding because I won't and I don't want to waste your time either.

Date: 2007/10/06 23:33:54, Link
Author: skeptic
I realize that you have spent your coin for this journal but for the sake of those of us that are too cheap to do likewise tidbits of the papers included would be greatly appreciated.

Date: 2007/10/10 19:19:53, Link
Author: skeptic

2)  The actual results of this would be nothing.  Just consider the source.  I wouldn't ever learn that God or something "else" doesn't exist because I would die and that would be it. Oblivion.  Consequently, I couldn't change anything about my actions, political, social or otherwise, because the premise is not presently disprovable.  This is not to say that it could become disprovable at some point but I can't conceive of a way that that would be possible.  If it became possible to disprove the existence of God while we were still living that would be an entirely different question.  Given that premise,  I would see some changes in my life, the obvious ones like attending church but overall I would not change much else because in general I'm very happy with myself and the way life has turned out based upon the choices I have made which were influenced by my beliefs.  I would greatly fear the impact of this premise upon the population at large and would predict great instability and uncertainty as not everyone might feel so constrained.

3 & 4)  Not too impactful either way.  I live in a world, professionally, in which CToE is the rule so no changes there.  If the converse were to be true it would affect people personally but science still attempts to describe the world empirically and I don't see any major changes there.  If creationism reaches a level of testable, repeatable observation then it just becomes science and we march on with a newer understanding of the world around us.  Of course, we still wouldn't be satisfied with that description and we'd continue to search for a better model.

Date: 2007/10/18 22:39:00, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Oct. 12 2007,11:15)
Just one question to kick off with:

Are you seriously saying that you (and presumably based on your comment others) do not go hog wild because you are "constrained" by your belief in god exisiting?

The only thing that stops you (and/or others) wigging out and going on a killing spree is your faith in a big beared man in the sky watching you?

Forgive my flippant tone but I am aghast! Please tell me this is not what you think.


P.S. No one said DISPROVE the existence of god, Skeptic, you should know by now that it's not possible to prove a negative. There is no reproducible, reliable evidence that unicrons exist. As far as we know, unicrons do not exist. Presumably you think there is evidence for the existence of god (I'd love to see it some time. Special pleading doesn't count), imagine a world without that evidence.

Sorry for the absense but both my computer and I were ill and needed time to recover.

Actually, I run into something of a loop.  I, speaking for myself, happen to agree with the "contraints" offered by my faith to a large degree and so I don't view them as "constraints."  I also don't see my opinion of them changing just because the underlying faith may be misplaced.  I have perfectly rational and irrational reasons for believing as I do and it just so happens that these reasons and my faith coincide.  Now you can say that they coincide because I believe or because I believe they coincide.  That's were the loop comes in but I can't answer that question.  That is a question for my subconscious, if it exists, and falls outside the realm of discovery, IMO.

The thing that keeps me from going on a killing spree is the belief that it is wrong with a capital 'W'.  That God also says it is wrong lends more credibility to Him as a source of knowledge.  If I viewed God in the same way as opinions articulated on this board then I wouldn't follow Him either but I'd still believe in Him.  It would be arrogance on my part to say that because I disagree with Him then He just doesn't exist, IMO.

One other thing, as a basis for this hypothetical we would have to actually "know" that God doesn't exist.  Hence the disprove comment.  Otherwise, we're really just in the same boat we are now with no one really knowing the Truth.  Without proof that God doesn't exist, or even that specific deities don't exist, a person of faith would find it very difficult to honestly contemplate what life would be like without God because faith is all they're running on in the first place.  Does that make any sense?

Date: 2007/10/20 10:54:07, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Oct. 19 2007,08:26)
Quote (skeptic @ Oct. 19 2007,04:39)
Sorry for the absense but both my computer and I were ill and needed time to recover.

Actually, I run into something of a loop.  I, speaking for myself, happen to agree with the "contraints" offered by my faith to a large degree and so I don't view them as "constraints."  I also don't see my opinion of them changing just because the underlying faith may be misplaced.  I have perfectly rational and irrational reasons for believing as I do and it just so happens that these reasons and my faith coincide.  Now you can say that they coincide because I believe or because I believe they coincide.  That's were the loop comes in but I can't answer that question.  That is a question for my subconscious, if it exists, and falls outside the realm of discovery, IMO.

The thing that keeps me from going on a killing spree is the belief that it is wrong with a capital 'W'.  That God also says it is wrong lends more credibility to Him as a source of knowledge.  If I viewed God in the same way as opinions articulated on this board then I wouldn't follow Him either but I'd still believe in Him.  It would be arrogance on my part to say that because I disagree with Him then He just doesn't exist, IMO.

One other thing, as a basis for this hypothetical we would have to actually "know" that God doesn't exist.  Hence the disprove comment.  Otherwise, we're really just in the same boat we are now with no one really knowing the Truth.  Without proof that God doesn't exist, or even that specific deities don't exist, a person of faith would find it very difficult to honestly contemplate what life would be like without God because faith is all they're running on in the first place.  Does that make any sense?

Glad to find your self and computer back in fine health! Gesundheit and all that.

So Skeptic, are you similarly open minded about unicorns, pixies anf fairies at the bottom of my garden? After all, to quote you with one word altered:

One other thing, as a basis for this hypothetical we would have to actually "know" that pixies don't exist.  Hence the disprove comment.  Otherwise, we're really just in the same boat we are now with no one really knowing the Truth.  Without proof that pixies don't exist, or even that specific pixies don't exist, a person of faith would find it very difficult to honestly contemplate what life would be like without pixies because faith is all they're running on in the first place.  Does that make any sense?

To answer the question, erm, no it doesn't make sense. By which I mean it is a logically fallacious combination of special pleading, non sequiturs, argument from ignorance and circular reasoning. Does it make sense in some emotional or perhaps personal sense? Doubtlessly it does. But I'd hope you are smart enough to see through it.

You seem to be implying, Skeptic, that if someone came up with a series of ideas that fitted your preconceptions/prejudices better than your current religion does that you'd switch. Even if this switch isn't a possibility, do you realise the very shaky ground you have placed yourself on. Do you realise that asking for a negative to be proven is not the same, and does not in any way equate, to asking for positive evidence supporting a proposition?

Do you understand, for example that atheism is not the position that there is no god(s) (although there are subsets of atheism that believe this, and I excoriate them for the same reasons I excoriate you) it is the position that there is no evidence for god(s) and thus belief in such a concept is unsupported. Do you understand why your answer fails to address the questions I asked? (Except in the sense that you have once again abundantly demonstrated your inability to think outside of your faith)


Again you misunderstand me.  Go back to your original question, #2.

A theist learns that there is no God.  How does he react?

(am I right so far?)

There are only two reasons I can see this happening, please point out more cases if you see them.

1) the theist decides that there is no more reason to believe then not believe and changes his mind.  There's no real rational reason to discuss this scenario as it just relies upon a switching of faith.

2) the theist is presented with evidence that God (or even a specific deity), in fact, does not exist.  This case REQUIRES the theist to reassess his faith and all areas of his life affected and influenced by this faith.  I answered the question with this scenario in mind.

As far as the "shaky" ground I've placed myself on, you might want to rethink that claim.  Try replacing "series of ideas" with "evidence" and you'll see that that is exactly how a rational person should react.  Also, in the case of converting a theist, your positive evidence supporting a proposition is proving the negative.  At initial conditions, the theist doesn't have to prove to himself that God exists, he already believes it.  To alter this belief would require some kind evidence to the contrary.  This is the exact opposite of the atheist who requires positive evidence for the existence.  You want a theist to honestly answer that question then you must assume that God has been disproven.  If you see another scenario, please supply it, I do not.

So before you settle in you mode of inflammatory labels and rude rhetoric you might want to actually read the answer and accept the opinion rather than rejecting it out of hand because you reject the initial premise.

As far as "thinking outside my faith", this seems a  meaningless insult.  Please explain what you mean by this.

Date: 2007/10/21 15:24:24, Link
Author: skeptic
I see what you're saying but you're not going to be happy with this answer.  The case doesn't work for pixies because I don't believe in pixies.  As far as evidence to the contrary that God exists, I think I can explain.  I've always believed in God.  I didn't make a conscious choice based upon an evaluation of the evidence, I just do.  Everything I believe from a philosophy basis reinforces that belief.  I don't see the conflicts that many atheists encouter when they contemplate God.  Hense the loop I referred to.  Which came first, my belief or my philosophy?  Maybe Faith is hardwired, I can't say.  What I know is that it's very hard to discuss faith with someone who believes differently in any substitive way because there's a massive difference in fundamental viewpoints.  So, again, to reiterate, I would have to see evidence of no God to believe otherwise.

I know, very unsatisfying, huh?

Date: 2007/10/21 21:30:31, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, as nicely as I'm able, do you know what faith is? and why it does not lend itself to rational examination?

Date: 2007/10/22 08:06:19, Link
Author: skeptic
My faith, or anyones else's, is completely valid for the individual.  Outside of that limited scope it doesn't apply.  The background for my faith is not transferable to someone else; they have to make up their own mind and come to their own conclusion.  I can give you a thousand reasons that I believe in God that may have no bearing whatso ever on someone else's belief.  There is not a universal formula of faith or some unified theory that theists are ascribing to.  Does that make any sense.  I think you might know the definition of faith but have no idea what Faith is and before you miss my meaning, that is not an insult.

Date: 2007/10/22 17:11:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Not quite right.  I have no problem imagining being wrong and I have examined the consequences of that situation extensively, as I would imagine most theists have also.  The scenario necessary for that change of perspective is where I run into trouble but I'm not so sure that that challenge is easy, regardless, it doesn't inhibit me from taking the next step and examining the impact of the premise.

I will agree with the final statement, though.  If I were to attempt to substitute my reasoning for my faith for someone else's they would probably, and deservedly so, consider me crazy.  Again, this is not the same conclusion that I come to for myself.  My reasons are very intertwined with my personal experiences, and unique to me.  This is not an uncommon thing for all theists, I assume.  In fact, if another theists of even similar beliefs were to offer his reasons behind his faith I would probably reject them.  Back to Lenny's claim of an infinite number of answers to the same question and all of them being correct for the individual in question.

I can't speak for you but examine your belief system and if you have an irrational belief consider it closely.  Even to a lesser degree, take being a sports fan and try to construct a rational basis for your devotion.  Now take that formula and apply it to someone else.  Would it mean the same?  That's the point I'm trying to make.

Date: 2007/10/23 07:31:16, Link
Author: skeptic
1) No, not really.  You missed the point as usual.

2)As we tried to point out last time, you did nothing more than state you opinion.  "Answers" appears to be highly subjective.

3 - 5)not really interested, I believe it was unsatisfying for both of us, so I'll pass.

Date: 2007/10/23 11:14:23, Link
Author: skeptic
Sorry, but I've answered these questions ad nauseum.  You just refuse to accept the answers.

Date: 2007/10/23 17:53:44, Link
Author: skeptic
I find it utterly amazing how you can continously demonstrate how ignorant you are.  Please, choose a different subject as this one just makes you look a fool.

Date: 2007/10/24 22:45:54, Link
Author: skeptic
Call it a sickness but I just can't leave well enough alone.  Something you said kept digging at me and I've been thinking about it all day so I'll share that with you.  You made the comparison between Ftk and I in the sense that we forbid the discussion of our faith in any sensible way.  First, let's go back to the question of the thread.  If a revelation occurred and evidence was provided that God did or did not exist and/or evolution was or was not correct, how would you respond.  Now this question assumes no specific faith nor questions the specifics of a faith, it is only concerned with the consequences of a faith or lack of under changing circumstances.

Given this scenario, what you're really asking is a personal assessment with there being only one authority and that's the individual answering the question.  There are no right answers and based upon your previous extrapolation there are no sensible answers.  Or to put it more correctly, there are no answers that are any more valid than any other.  You criticism on these grounds seem unfounded.  As far as your other points, I believe you are making assumptions based upon preconceived notions.  Pointing out that you are not making any point other than rude attempts at nastiness and humor is not a plea for victimhood, it's just a statement of fact.  I require no special protection nor am I interested in eliciting and sympathy.  I am not so emotionally involved in any of this to care one way or the other.

What is most interesting about this whole line of questioning is the concept of openness to new ideas.  I noted repeatedly that many responses expressed a disappointment if things turned out differently than they believed they should.  I sense an uneasiness with the possibility of God that is somewhat telling.  At the same time, the real chance that faith (and lack of) is somehow hardwired keeps popping up for me.  That kind of predisposition would go along way towards explaining the intractable positions we see here.

Anyway, what I think you really need to ask yourself is whether you're at all interested in actually listening to an alternate viewpoint and trying to see things from that side rather than just formulating a plan of attack to bolster your own worldview.  Go ahead, think about it, it's really not that scary once you try.

Date: 2007/10/25 13:47:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Just to use hero's statement as a study, Louis, would you consider the story of The Prodigal Son knowledge?  Or does it lead to knowledge or understanding in any way?  Just curious.

Date: 2007/10/26 12:33:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Just for the fun of it.  2 - 5 are meaningless (to me) but I am interested in 1 and 4.

1) My answer stands and it was made irregardless of the actual nature of the evidence.  The hypothetical did not ask me to ponder the nature of the evidence presented just its impact upon my behavior.  I answered that but I did comment upon the nature of the evidence as an aside.  I do have trouble imagining a hypothetical in which the existence of God can be refuted with positive evidence rather than negative.  That may be my limitation but it also arises from the belief that God lies outside of rational examination.  From my perspective, belief is God is the initial condition, call it a given.  Any changes to the initial condition would require evidence of an alternative view.  Now, it is only natural for an atheist whose initial condition is on of disbelief to require evidence for the existence in order to change that opinion.  I think this just represents our views from exactly opposite sides of the same issue.  As I said before, if you can posit a hypothetical in which the existence of God is refuted as a consequence of positive evidence, I'm all ears.  I would consider that an interesting thought experiment.  I hope that clarifies that sufficently for you.

4)  The idea that the existence of God or any specific God would be dismaying is somewhat comical and certainly an example of human arrogance.  Why?  That's assume for the sake of argument that God, in whatever form, exists.  I understand that this is difficult to concede because it contradicts your sensibilities but give it a try.  Do the ideas of man concerning the nature of this God have any impact upon his actual nature?  Wouldn't it be immature to say that I don't accept or approve of this God because he's not the God I want?  Do the preferences of man determine the nature of God?  I have actually heard this idea before and it makes for an interesting conversation but not one that I personally agree with.  It just strikes me as odd that someone could learn of the existence of God and then be disappointed because it upsets their personal little worldview.  Seems very self-absorbed, wouldn't you say?

Outside of that, I don't think it much matters which thread we discuss these things on.  This one is pretty much dead as those who interested have said their two cents and moved on.  If there is some formality required so be it otherwise I'd say a conversation is a conversation no matter where it takes place.

Date: 2007/10/26 12:37:38, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (BWE @ Oct. 26 2007,11:54)
Skeptic, in all honesty: How do you know that God doesn't want you to kill children?

What if you heard a voice saying that you should? What if that voice came from a burning Bush? An atheist would say, "shit, my roommate slipped acid in my orange juice again." Because the atheist knows that god isn't something that talks through burning bushes.

What does the Christian do?

This actually goes back to my earlier statement concerning the loop of belief or the admitted circular reasoning.  Any suggestion that contradicts my beliefs would be taken skeptically.  My general beliefs and my belief in a specific deity are completely intertwined and I'm not sure that I could seperate them.  Now I may very well be wrong and God wants me to kill children but I'm not going to do that and I'll have to suffer the consequences later.

Date: 2007/10/26 12:44:32, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, I missed the part where I said I cannot be wrong.  You'll need to point that out to me.  I fully embrace the position that I could be wrong and have examined that prospect extensively and frequently.  Because I cannot imagine a situation in which I find out that I am wrong just testifies to the fact that I've reviewed this question numerous times and have continually arrived at the same far.  The jury is still out.

BTW, this is what faith is.  I believe in something until I have a reason not to.  It just so happens that this belief is no based upon rational thought.  Kinda like being a sports fan,  if I were a Colorado fan I might truely believe that the Rockies are going to win right up until they lose game 4 but not before no matter what the facts say.  Sorry, I don't have a football(soccer) analogy to supply but you can fill in your own teams.

Date: 2007/10/26 12:47:07, Link
Author: skeptic
BWE, what if the roomate didn't want to trip?  Didn't this ever lead to major conflicts?  I guess I would have to know which decade you're talking about to know for sure, lol.

Date: 2007/10/26 13:03:04, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Louis @ Oct. 26 2007,12:44)
Good GRAVY! You really CANNOT read for comprehension can you?

Follow the chain of reasoning Skeptic:

1) Person A believes in pixies.

2) Person A has some positive evidence that they use in support of their belief in pixies.

3) Person B asks if they can be wrong about their belief in pixies, and in orer to do so asks them to imagine a world in which the positive evidence they have which supports their belief in pixies DOES NOT EXIST.

4) Person A imagines such a world and concludes they can be wrong.

Contrast with what you're doing:

1) Person A believes in pixies.

2) Person A has some positive evidence that they use in support of their belief in pixies.

3) Person B asks if they can be wrong about their belief in pixies, and in orer to do so asks them to imagine a world in which the positive evidence they have which supports their belief in pixies DOES NOT EXIST.

4) Person A says that they cannot imagine a world in which pixies were proven not to exist.

5) Person B mentions that this was not the question that was asked and that proving a negative in the manner described is an impossibility.

6) Person A wanks about.

See the difference?

Do you understand why proving a negative is an impossibility?

You should really consider those things in the previous post you find "meaningless". Salvation lies within!


Here's where your mistaken:

2) There is no positive evidence for the the belief outside of the existence of the belief itself.  One more time and slowly,  I believe in God as the initial condition not as an arrived at concept through and examination of pros and cons.  Do you see the distinction?

4) Person A still supplies an answer under the hypothetical, namely if there were no God, all the while expressing an inability to  imagine the nature of the evidence required to confront this scenario.   Again, there is a difference here.

BWE,  this actually goes very deeply into faith and belief and how they are intertwined with my thinking process.  There are certain things I believe in, such as the sanctity of human life, the notions of good and evil, human rights, the nature of the universe and so forth that are either influenced by or necessary for my belief in God.  It's a chicken or egg question, I'm not sure if I believe in God because of my belief in these concepts or the other way around.  So it's not a matter that I believe in God because it feels good, I just believe in God.  This may be an unconscious concept or maybe a genetic hardwiring issue.  I find those discussions intriguing but I cannot honestly tell the difference myself.  That may be one of the reasons that I spend so much time thinking about it.  I like mysteries and puzzles and to me I am the biggest puzzle there is.  I would suspect that we all might feel that way about ourselves.

Date: 2007/10/26 13:20:19, Link
Author: skeptic
Yep that's what I meant.  I'm kinda laying myself bare but as far as being puzzled by myself I tend to extrapolate the big questions out from myself.  Why do I think the way I do, how do I think, what is thinking, what is a of those things, if you see what I mean.

Date: 2007/10/26 13:29:28, Link
Author: skeptic
reposted from page 1:

I would see some changes in my life, the obvious ones like attending church but overall I would not change much else because in general I'm very happy with myself and the way life has turned out based upon the choices I have made which were influenced by my beliefs.  I would greatly fear the impact of this premise upon the population at large and would predict great instability and uncertainty as not everyone might feel so constrained.

As you see, I answered the question.  Maybe you don't approve of the answer because I didn't fall down quivering  and crying that my whole life had been a sham and I really was just believing in pixies.  Being able to contemplate a hypothetical and being able to supply the instances that make the hypothetical come true are two completely different things.  You are very confused and all your false understanding stem from this confusion.  Just a suggestion, if you stop constantly trying to prove every statement made by everyone wrong that you might actually begin to participate in discussions.  I'm losing faith that you're capable of this as it seems your nature to be antagonistic.  I'm back to work, have fun with the remainder of the day (or night in your case).

Date: 2007/10/26 13:33:05, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (J-Dog @ Oct. 26 2007,13:29)
Quote (skeptic @ Oct. 26 2007,12:33)
Just for the fun of it.  2 - 5 are meaningless (to me) but I am interested in 1 and 4.

1) My answer stands and it was made irregardless of the actual nature of the evidence.  

There is no such friggin word as "irregardless" biotch!

Please spend less time in Sunday School, and more time learning to communicate.


so easy even a caveman could do it, huh?

;D, oh yeah and my condolences that you're sitcom failed.  lol

On a serious note, I can't remember the last time I was in Sunday school but I'm sure they would require proper grammer also.  No, I can't blame that one on Sunday school, that one is solely on me.

Date: 2007/10/26 15:50:46, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm going to have to flat out disagree with you, Louis.  In my mind there are only two possibilities here.  The first is you just don't understand your own motivations, and while I believe this may be possible I think you actually reveal the truth.  The second is that you are hostile out of purpose and everything that follows is a consequence of that fact.

Let's look at the question.  How would you act differently if it were revealed that God (or your evidence that is foundational to your belief in God) doesn't exist?  Taken literally, the question is about how one reacts to new information or changing world views.  The question asks for behavior and thoughts in light of that new evidence.  If, as you say, this question is really a sham and the answer is not important only the manner in which the answer is given then you are purposely setting up a conflict in order to expose this manner for what you already think it is, wrong.  This is intentionally confrontational by your own admission.

My answer stands and your characterization of my answer is flat wrong.  I repeatedly admit that I can not imagine a case in which the hypothetical becomes real.  This is nothing but honesty and even though prompted you repeatedly fail to offer a scenario for consideration in which the hypothetical becomes true.  Again, regardless of this caveat, I can still contemplate and answer the stated question and over and over again admit that I may be wrong.  I don't know how and if I did then I wouldn't hold those beliefs because I would see the evidence of their non-existence but that still doesn't mean that I can not accept the possibility.  The fact that you are unable to just exemplifies your extreme narrow-mindedness.  The quote that was reposted was the actual answer to the question as stated even though you've already stated your ulterior motive.

In truth, you have no idea what dishonesty is.  In your mind, dishonesty is anyone who disagrees with you.  There's no getting around it, if I was you I'd just try to recognize that and work towards a resolution.  Remember, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

As a first, why don't you try to seriously examine what YOU may be wrong about.  No joke, think about it.  Then as step two, try to formulate a plausible proof that would confirm that you are wrong.  I believe you might learn something vital after completing this exercise and then get back to me.  Maybe then you'll be capable of a conversation and not  a confrontation.

Date: 2007/10/26 16:08:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Most people "believe in" those things regardless of their position on god. I use the quotes because the choice of words begs the question of god. What about "Feel strongly that these things are important"? And good and evil are a dualism. It is impossible to have one without the other and it is impossible to put an absolute anywhere on the continuum so it is a nearly meaningless idea except rhetorically. I suspect that if you simply call the nature of the universe "god" there are no problems. As soon as you try to say god has X characteristic outside the nature of the universe as can be observed, you begin a speculation process and you start dressing god up in clothes that don't fit and you end up using more and more pins, duct tape and bubble-gum to hold your outfit together. But one you assign a property to god, you then by default ascribe that property to the universe because you define universe = god so suddenly you have to defend a property of the universe which cannot be observed and in fact you already know you made it up. But yet you can not imagine a world without that assumption.

This doesn't strike you as strange?

BWE, I would say that there are vast differences concerning these concepts, their meaning and implications so I don't think any particular God is required or implied by them.  As you say people can have views of these concepts regardless of belief in God.  The point that makes these concepts important is their resolution or impact.  The individual arrives at a belief based upon something or belief in these ideas leads to something, behavior, faith or otherwise.  God is just one of many sources/results related to these concepts.  So when it comes to the abstract, that doesn't strike me as strange at all, in fact, it seems to me to be right or appropriate.  As far as properties, I'm not sure what you mean.  For me these properties are abstract or intangible ones and there is no resulting conflict.  I'm not sure if that is what you were saying.  To be honest, I'm not sure if if I understood you completely.  Let me know if I'm off target.  As an example, in my understanding, I wouldn't say that God is the universe.  I would say that God is applicable to the universe.  As long as God exists there is no grounds for conflict.  Does this sound strange?

Date: 2007/10/27 01:21:50, Link
Author: skeptic
While you are entitled to your opinions, the many ways that these last comments are inane are so numerous as to cause nothing short of outright laughter.  I seem to recall the subject of Wes' beliefs coming up in past conversation but it was a very short conversation and I'm not even sure that Wes was involved.  The one thing I do know is that Wes doesn't talk about his faith here.  So whatever convoluted model of acceptable faith bounds he subscribes to in your mind is completely without merit.  You probably shouldn't attempt to even formulate these models as you have no real concept of what faith even is, by your own admission.  What may be important for you to comprehend is that yours is not the only existing yardstick.  I imagine that Wes has his own as do most people.  What you mistake for agreement or admission of intellectual inferiority I would call maturity and reserve on Wes' part.  I for my part am hopeless, by my own admission, and cannot resist the urge to try to open your mind to alternate possibilities.  I continue to fail but for some reason I refuse to walk away, much to my own dismay.  Maybe there's hope for one of us yet, lol.  But back to Wes, or any person of faith for that matter, I don't believe it's possible for you to have a discussion concerning faith with any individual.  You seem to refer people in your life in which these discussions have taken place but you demonstrate no such ability here.  I'm not convinced that you are capable.  Of course, you have every opportunity to prove me wrong.

So as a step in that direction, why don't you go ahead and attempt my exercise.  Pick a belief that your have that is based upon irrationality.  You do have one don't you?  I'm gonna offer sports as one possibility but you throw in whatever you like here.  Now imagine the case that disputes this belief and not just in the negative.  Actually formulate a basis that completely refutes your belief.  In your own mind, is this a plausible scenario?  I'm going to predict that it cannot be.  If it were then you, especially you, would not hold the belief.  This is certainly a generalization but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it will probably hold true.  Humans can be very predictable sometimes and I'm going to bet that this is the case in this instance.  Go on, give it a try.

Also, one other thing to think about.  Where does an individual's personal domain end?  Faith, as much as you refuse to accept, attempts to answer questions that one encounters in life.  What happens when someone behaves in a way as directed by or in response to this Faith?  What happens when this behavior affects the surrounding environment and the people in it?  Is it possible for someone of Faith to not extend their Faith beyond their personal domain and still be called a person of Faith?  Is it just enough that the individual did not admit that their actions were influenced by Faith?  Does that not constitute a violation of personal domain up until the point that they admit Faith was involved?  Just what manner of Faith exists that does not extend beyond the personal domain?

Date: 2007/10/27 11:20:30, Link
Author: skeptic
The purpose of this thread is to examine HOW people think, you say?  No problem, let's examine HOW you think.  This ought to be fun, or at least mildly entertaining in the short term.

First things first, unless you have appointed yourself the thread police there is no real reason to hold two identical discussions.  The same topics are going to be addressed at the same time so why divide the discussion?  This would appear to be an obvious diversion and one I'm not interested in following.  My time is precious and I prefer to consolidate it all in one spot, thank you very much.  If this offends your board-conduct sensibilities, well, grow up!  Another thing, there is no derailing of this thread.  This thread is only you and I and occasional comments from the peanut gallery.  BWE may choose to jump in in the future but essentially it's just you and I, poppy!  Stop running.

A)  I don't believe it and I will hold that belief until I'm presented with evidence to the contrary.

B) You've admitted that you are not very good with belief and that you don't believe you hold any irrational beliefs.  If so, how do you know what Faith is capable of?  What is your first-hand experience in the matter?  Have you given Faith a try and found that it failed in it's commitments?  Maybe you need to describe your understanding of Faith and then we'll see if you have any real understanding of it after all.  Again, until evidence is provided to the contrary, my opinion is that you don't understand Faith.  As an aside, I will accept that it may be a contrast of understanding.  Namely, you don't understand Faith as I understand Faith and so forth, but that could all be revealed if you go ahead and share you ideas about Faith.

C) What is an evidenced based approach to Faith?  Do you know how Wes, and any other person of Faith rationalizes their Faith based upon evidence?  I'm not sure you do as you continually state that there is no evidence for Faith.  How is this paradox solved by an evidence based person and a non-evidential Faith?  Again, I'm not sure that you can speak to this as you have no experience in this area, or have you?  Wouldn't you have to go through the process of examining Faith within an evidence based context in order to really understand it?  This may not be possible for the armchair quarterback.

D) Nope, I accuse you of bias because you don't accept that others may believe the crap they spout.  They may have perfectly good reasons for believing this crap.  It's not for you to say what crap they should and shouldn't believe.  That's what would be open minded.

E) Not interested in childish diversions, how about you engage in the discussion at hand and get off your tired script.  On that point, you haven't said "strawman" for about two pages at least, are you hands starting to shake?

F) You missed the point of the team analogy.  Not having a knowledge of your background I was trying to suggest a starting point for examining irrational beliefs.  Again, maybe you don't know anything about sports and I should have made a different suggestion.  Sports is pretty universal over here so maybe I made a bad assumption.  But just to illuminate the actual issue rather than your perceived one, any fan of the Chicago Cubs, the Detroit Lions, the New York Knicks, and so forth knows that there is a suspension of rationality when it comes to supporting a team.  In many cases the initial reason for this support is lost in the mists of time but the support remains and can, in some cases, reach a near-religious status.  You should know that.  I think I recall the English becoming absolute lunatics during soccer games of the past.  Try approaching the suggestion from that perspective and not some psuedo-psychological basis.

G) see A.  Irrational beliefs are a problem for whom? You? Others?  It's their problem and not yours?  It's your problem and not their's?  Your hostility in this area is evident.  Your occupation is irrelevant.  A garbage collector can think and feel appropriately regardless of background, don't believe that yours affords you any added credibility.  One thing you might want to think about though, as a professional suggestion, you'll never get beyond the bench lacking imagination and a true ability to see beyond conventional wisdom.  I don't know your ambitions but if you want to be a true asset and achieve something lasting and valuable for yourself and the Big P you might want to think about that.  Workshops might be the thing, creative thinking, who moved my cheese, and so on.

H) If I use my Faith to inform my vote, direct my actions, influence my behavior and relationships then I am definitively saying that it is both applicable to others and the real world.  I live in the real world and I interact with others at what point does this not touch my Faith?  If you understood Faith you'd see this but having no experience in this area it is understandable.  On the flip side, having no real experience in atheism I cannot see how Faith can be compartmentalized to the point that it is irrelevant.  What use is Faith if it doesn't impact your actions, behaviors, thoughts and relationship?  Could it be said to even exist at all under these constraints?

Now on the subject of atheism, I continually hear that atheists don't believe in God because there is no evidence to support the claim.  Isn't also the case that there is not evidence refuting the claim?  Wouldn't the question of God be in a neutral position in terms of evidence?  If I were to try to convince you of the existence of God then I would need to offer evidence to change that initial belief but what is the foundation for the initial belief?  Coin flip?  Fifty-fifty choice?  You could have just as easily been a theist as an atheist?  What evidence informs your belief if there is no evidence either way?  Alittle of topic but I'm interested in HOW you think.

Finally, your challenges:

a) I've addressed this and believe it to be a waste of time, intentional I might add.  The choice is yours.  You can stick to these worthless demands or you can move on and join this discussion.  It's up to you.

b) see above.  I think that's a good start.

Now on with the rending of flesh and gnashing of teeth.  I'm sure you have an essay to write now and, in truth, I look forward to some of it because it does reveal HOW you think.  Now that's entertainment!

Date: 2007/10/27 12:10:59, Link
Author: skeptic
sorry that I exceeded your intellectual capacity, I will remember to speak more slowly in the future and use smaller words.  As far as my advice, it stands even though it is greatly influenced by your own personal ambitions.  Namely, if you want it you'll learn what is necessary to get it.  When you get older and wiser you will see that this is true.  Good luck on your journey.

Date: 2007/10/27 15:18:12, Link
Author: skeptic
you continue to remind me of a twelve year old I once knew but even given those limitations do you ever intend to address the questions posed to you?

Date: 2007/10/28 08:40:40, Link
Author: skeptic

Date: 2007/10/28 10:41:55, Link
Author: skeptic
Zero, I checked out the website and a had a few questions but the most prominent one was is this your website or are you just reposting clips from it?

Date: 2007/10/28 15:55:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (IanBrown_101 @ Oct. 28 2007,10:49)
Now on the subject of atheism, I continually hear that atheists don't believe in God because there is no evidence to support the claim.  Isn't also the case that there is not evidence refuting the claim?  Wouldn't the question of God be in a neutral position in terms of evidence?  If I were to try to convince you of the existence of God then I would need to offer evidence to change that initial belief but what is the foundation for the initial belief?

You cannot be serious. Either you're joking, trolling or a moron.

No, that is a serious question.  I'm not sure which part of that quote is upsetting you but I'm more than happy to discuss.  Could you elaborate a little further?

Date: 2007/10/28 15:57:56, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (hereoisreal @ Oct. 28 2007,11:12)
Quote (skeptic @ Oct. 28 2007,10:41)
Zero, I checked out the website and a had a few questions but the most prominent one was is this your website or are you just reposting clips from it? is my web site and I have many
other stories that I have not posted there.

PM me with your q's.

Hang in here with your faith.


Just wanted to make sure I wasn't talking to a parody.  Is the general theme you're trying to get across is that you can see evidence for God all around you if you look?

Date: 2007/10/28 18:11:45, Link
Author: skeptic
but what if the dirty little secret is that there is no dry land?

Date: 2007/10/29 08:08:16, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (IanBrown_101 @ Oct. 28 2007,22:01)
Quote (skeptic @ Oct. 28 2007,21:55)
Quote (IanBrown_101 @ Oct. 28 2007,10:49)
Now on the subject of atheism, I continually hear that atheists don't believe in God because there is no evidence to support the claim.  Isn't also the case that there is not evidence refuting the claim?  Wouldn't the question of God be in a neutral position in terms of evidence?  If I were to try to convince you of the existence of God then I would need to offer evidence to change that initial belief but what is the foundation for the initial belief?

You cannot be serious. Either you're joking, trolling or a moron.

No, that is a serious question.  I'm not sure which part of that quote is upsetting you but I'm more than happy to discuss.  Could you elaborate a little further?

Absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. The religious, whether they be the kindly love thy neighbour types, or the psycho kill the heathen types and all in between are making an absolute claim, there IS a god and he/she/it/they is/are X Y and Z.

I don't see any need to believe in your god, therefore I say I don't believe in he/she/it/them as there is no evidence. For you to turn that around and say "but there is no evidence AGAINST god" is a completely ridiculous statement. There isn't any evidence against vampirism either, should we consider the question of their existence neutral? How about the FSM? Ra? Zeus?

Seriously, the "YOU don't have any either" argument would be really impressive if you were five. You aren't. Don't use it, and learn how evidence works.

Oh, and by the by, "upsetting"? Either you're claiming you think I'm upset, in which case you can't understand emotion and motivation online well, or you're concern trolling.

I made no emotional inference, "upsetting" was used in reference to the point of disagreement, what was the offending portion.  For give the flowerly language, lol.

The evidence claim I think is open to many problems but my primary issue is that it appears inadequate to approach this question.  Let me explain.  There is no objective evidence that I know of for the existence of a God, any God.  Are we in agreement there?  All evidence that I see stems from the individual and relies upon personal revelation or introspection.  At the same time, there is a fine line between acknowledging the lack of objective evidence and making the unprovable statement that there is no God.  I don't see that too many people get into trouble saying "I don't believe in God" or in your case "I don't see the need in believing in God."  What I'm trying to warn against is the next step in which individuals say "There is no God" and for that statement there is no evidence.  I hope that distinction is clear.

Just to ward off the coming critique I'd like to say one thing about my belief in God.  I believe in God as a fundamental belief based upon nothing more than the evidence of existence.  Just the very fact that anything exists necessitates a belief in God for me.  I don't believe that this rises to the level of objective evidence and there's no way to examine the alternative.  So I accept the existence of God based upon no objective evidence and just to avoid any contradiction, I believe that God exists but there is a chance that I am wrong and God does not exist.  I have to accept that the possibility is real.

As far as your next batch of questions, Louis, I'd say the intention here is transparent.  Also, I'm not sure how productive it is to go on to the next step when issues still remain stemming from the first questions.  But I guess I'll play along and wait to read answers that are completely predictable and redundant.  Isn't that the primary purpose for this entire discussion board?

Date: 2007/10/29 12:11:15, Link
Author: skeptic
After looking at the first question, I think it may actually be more complex then first impression.

First, is the person willing to admit that their position is proven wrong?  Are they even willing to admit that their position could be proven wrong?  Without affirmatives here there is no real reason to continue.

Secondly, what is the purpose of conversation with this person?  Is there any reason to even attempt to persuade this person that their position is incorrect?  In short, what is to be gained?  I would submit that just to correct their error is not sufficient.

As to the second question, I'm pretty sure methods of persuation are well documented unless you're asking for something new or original be proposed.

And the third questions goes back to the original evaluation of the goal of the conversation, or maybe I just answered the third question prematurely.  What is to be gained and what will be acheived?

Again, I point out that the stated purpose of this board is to discuss strategy used in combating ID/YEC promoters.  Aren't you just trying to recreate and compress that overall discussion into one small thread?

Date: 2007/10/29 16:17:29, Link
Author: skeptic
I think you may have highlighted a semantic difference and comes down to your version of entity.  If you require an entity to be open for examination by science then it becomes self-fulfilling that only scientifically-examinable entities exist.  If, on the other hand, there are indeed more things then we can possibly imagine then the our level of scientific examination is severely limited.  With this limited understanding a lack of evidence means nothing.  Also, you can substitute Thing for Deity and it may sound better, or less religious, but Existence could be taken as evidence of Something, whatever it may be.  Once the existence of Something is accepted, the actual characteristics of that something just become a matter of personal choice as the objective determinations between these somethings are largely absent.

Date: 2007/10/29 17:48:22, Link
Author: skeptic
For my part, I find it derailing to go back and forth when one conversation covers both issues.  As far as this supposed conversation ownership, please grow up.

I have posted on the other thread but I still think it would all be relevant in one place.  I think I was swayed by your polite tone.

Date: 2007/10/29 18:26:42, Link
Author: skeptic
Existence can be taken as evidence of something.  By our understanding, the universe began, at least as we now know it, at the Big Bang.  By our methods of observation anything before the Big Bang is undefinable and yet we know, or we think we know,that there was something before the Big Bang.  This something opens the door for many things and while it doesn't demand a deity it certainly includes one.

As far as detection, who gets to define detectable?  If we limit detection to human terms then we unduly frame the universe with unwarranted restraints.  Imagine bat sonar.  Without the advent of technology there would be no way we would be able to detect or understand bat sonar. We would have to conclude that it doesn't exist if proposed and it's future existence is dependent upon our level of technology.  We ran into this very case with the electron.  Consider a Star Wars example for the metaphysical case.  The Force is detectable but not by any except the Jedi.  Does the Force only exist for the Jedi?  Are normal people like Han correct is saying it doesn't exist because they've never seen it.  What if God is beyond our level of understanding and forever beyond our understanding, does that lack of understanding eliminate the existence of God?  It comes down to how much credit we're willing to give to human understanding and what limitations we're willing to accept.

Date: 2007/10/29 19:18:27, Link
Author: skeptic
I would include anything beyond the five senses.  All artificial meanings are a result of application of our intelligence and that would render all knowledge relative to our ability to apply that intelligence.  In essence, reality would be dictated by us and I'm pretty sure nobody here wants concede that reality.

Date: 2007/10/29 22:01:22, Link
Author: skeptic
that is a good question but as much as I'm tempted by language I'm going to have to say no.  Language is certainly necessary for coherent thought but it still is on the processing end of observation not the detection end.

Date: 2007/10/29 23:09:42, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Henry J @ Oct. 29 2007,22:55)
Is language technology? It certainly augments cognition..

That's an interesting question. Offhand I'd say yes. If technology = study of techniques = study of ways of doing things then language would fit.

Using my dictionary: technology = applied science, or technical method of achieving a practical purpose.

Imnsho, language fits that definition, too. At least the second part of it, and maybe the first.


But doesn't language have to precede science else there would be no science?

Date: 2007/10/30 00:18:25, Link
Author: skeptic
yes but in some sense they must be when they pass that lesson on to their offspring otherwise its just new knowledge each and every time it's learned.  maybe cognition and language are not so far apart, two aspects of a whole so to speak.

Date: 2007/10/30 21:33:54, Link
Author: skeptic
I thought I did that with my original answer but looking back I actually see two possibilities.  One, there is no God, no After, no Meaning and this life is all there is.  In this case, I would conduct myself in the same general way because I am that person.  For really profound changes in who I am I would have to actually go back and know this fact from childhood and then live my life under this new reality.  As can be seen, the end result may be beyond prediction.  Interesting thought though.  The second possibility would be the existence of God but not only is it not the God of my understanding it is the Anti-God of my understanding.  In that instance, if Satan were ruler of the universe, I doubt if I could readily accept that existence.  It would completely contradict everything I believe or wish to believe.  From a purely scientific perspective I can accept that there may be nothing more to the universe than naturalistic causes.  I may not see that logically but I can accept it rationally.  As far as the second one, there's nothing I could do to accept that reality, probably because I abhor the consequences and that could be the root of my bias.  Now I realize that you may call foul here.  I enter into hypocrisy because there is no more valid justification for God over Satan and above the individual level I'll accept that.  I can only say that on a personal level everything I believe coincides with a God choice over a Satan choice and that drives my justification.  If public sentiment is any help here it seems I'm in the majority.  That's all for now but I've still got to go over to the other thread and respond there.  So much for efficiency.

Date: 2007/10/31 00:09:55, Link
Author: skeptic
lol, well said Zero.

Bill, sorry let me expand as I can see reading it back that I gave the wrong impression.  In terms of accepting that existence, I was referring to the choice that I would make as to whether or not I would live any longer.  That in itself is a massive diversion from myself as I would never contemplate suicide normally.  Maybe I would choose martyrdom, lol.

Also, life having meaning refers only transcendentally and only under the assumption that God exists, hence there is a purpose that we may or may not find.  This also assumes a God of purpose and not incidental existence.  I've heard numerous debates on whether or not morals or meaning exist in the absence of God and while they are interesting I think you know where I come down in that debate.

Date: 2007/10/31 06:47:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Yes, and I have to apologize as I got side tracked because the questions were very thought provoking.  The essential point is that language isn't observation or involved in detection of data.  Language comes in after data collection and interprets, communicates and extends the understanding of the data but cannot generate new original data, as I see it.

Date: 2007/10/31 08:13:36, Link
Author: skeptic
only the Head Honcho scenario!  If you knew me personally you'd see how huge a deviation this is from my actual beliefs as not only do I not believe in suicide I formally saw no rational or irrational justification for it.  Taking that into account, as a believer I may have a much more graphic picture of a Satan-like God which pushes this choice as an option.  The over used "Hell on Earth" scenario comes to mind and that is much worse than the Hollywood-picture we're accustomed to, at least in my worst nightmares.

Louis, I never said atheists are bad people.  Feeling guilty?  What I'm saying is I do not believe that absolute morals can exist without an absolute authority.  In that absence, all morals becomes relative.  With anyone or society defining morality as they see fit, that constitutes no morality overall.  Or in other words, morality would be meaningless because it would become all things to all people.

Oh, and I really don't know how you come to the conclusion that I'm any kind of relativist.  If that is the case, you have seriously misunderstood me.

Date: 2007/10/31 09:18:39, Link
Author: skeptic
This all gets really wishy-washy.  It could or couldn't depending upon how closely we're relating language to thought.  If we use the analogy that man is an instrument then language could be the readout but it also could be the internal communication between probe, detector and processor.  I think it all depends upon how far we want to extend the definition.

I'm content to say that language is fundamental and necessary and any other nuances make for good philosophical discussion.

Date: 2007/10/31 09:29:09, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, something would have to change as the counterfactual scenario becomes real.  In terms of evidence or actions or whatever necessary to make this change possible.  I can't predict what that change would be and that's where the old nightmares jump in to fill that void.

Ian, with societies defining their own values then Morality doesn't exist only individual morality is real.  If one believes that murder is wrong not because most people agree but just because it's wrong, you move towards a universal Morality.  I think this is too closely related to theistic/spiritual belief.  In essence, if you have a theistic/spiritual viewpoint then you accept Morality and if you don't then morals are relative because there is no ultimate authority.  We're actually debating whether or not there is a basis for the theistic/spiritual belief and morality just becomes a subset of that discussion.

Date: 2007/10/31 12:41:44, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Oct. 31 2007,10:18)
Quote (skeptic @ Oct. 31 2007,10:29)
Bill, something would have to change as the counterfactual scenario becomes real.  In terms of evidence or actions or whatever necessary to make this change possible.  I can't predict what that change would be and that's where the old nightmares jump in to fill that void.

I think what you are missing is that, so far as we can empirically determine, your Satanic scenario may already be true. If it is, there is nothing to change - the world as we have already experienced it is the world of a Satanic God. After all, your original post acknowledged that there is no empirical means to determine whether God exists, or does not exist. Similarly, there is no test conducted by means of observation of events in the world that can rule in or rule out your Satanic version.

Yes, but the original question also stipulates that I gain some new knowledge or am presented with new evidence that reveals this new reality to me.  Someone would have to pull back the Wizard's curtain, so to speak.  Would that be a significant change?  I think so unless it happened only for me and if that is the case then I would have to conclude that I'd gone insane.

Date: 2007/10/31 13:01:33, Link
Author: skeptic
Wow, this is a long one but I'll try to do it justice.  One thing I've noticed is you tend to take what I say and then run about four steps farther with your inferences.  Slow down the attack engine and engage the mind.

Actually, rather than saying everyone was amoral you could say that everyone was equally moral.  How could anyone say that their worldview was any better or more moral than anyone else's?  With no standard morals actually become meaningless and every society operates according to their own ethics.  Of course, the ethics of society are merely reflective of the individual members of that society.  Even at that level who gets to say what is more moral except through the majority or by way of authoritartian decree.  It's not that any particular group is good or bad, there is just no such thing as good or bad outside of any specific society.

Also, genetically hard-wired morals are not absolute.  They would be just as susceptable to evolutionary pressure as any other trait and would change over time to benefit the survival of the species (if you believe in that stuff, lol).

Two other points.  For one, I present my opinions as I'm asked.  Naturally, I'm going to believe my claims.  IMO, universal morals exist and so I must extend that throughout my opinions in order to remain consistent.  Otherwise, I would have to formulate two separate opinions, mine and one that conforms with the opinions of those around me.  Also, you are throwing different theologies together to support this case of hypocrisy.  Let me save you the trouble, I admit that I'm a hypocrite but probably not in the way you understand.  In fact, it's probably a basic human characteristic that we all suffer from at times but I don't think we really want to have that discussion, do we?

Date: 2007/10/31 13:03:29, Link
Author: skeptic
Actually that was the point I was trying to make.  The Force is detectable in this example and maybe in 5000 years God will be too, who can say?

Date: 2007/10/31 14:39:02, Link
Author: skeptic
as for objective evidence, no, there is none.  But if you ask for evidence on an individual basis you get a completely different answer.  Also, it is the height of arrogance to say that just beause I don't see something now, then I will never see and in truth that something doesn't really exist anyway.  This is not a scientific argument but a faith-based one.

Date: 2007/10/31 14:50:49, Link
Author: skeptic
Louis, you may continue to be tempted to do any childish thing you wish.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to go back and forth just to satisfy some neurotic housekeeping fixation.  I will answer the questions posed to me where ever they appear without predujice.

Under that situation, Bill, then I could only conclude that God's name was really Satan and nothing else has changed.  Without some new revelation everything I believe is still reinforced by the present state of affairs.  I would experience a lot of uncertainty concerning the exact nature of the afterlife but I don't dwell too much of afterlife concerns so I doubt it would have any significant effect.  Now, by my count I've answered this question four times with each answer being essentially the same, outside of the Obvious Satan-is-King scenario.  Does that about cover it?

Date: 2007/10/31 23:06:01, Link
Author: skeptic
Ian, that's a perfectly naturalistic viewpoint and I have no quarrel with it's validity.

Bill, I'm now confused.  I was under the impression that I had satisfied the original intention.  Maybe I'm not clear on what is really being asked here.

Louis, I have no idea what kind of weird powertrip you're on here but you should really get that checked.  To actually think that you get to dictate the course a discussion takes is truely warped.  Learn to go with the flow, you'll be happier in the end and it will probably lower your blood pressure as well.

Date: 2007/10/31 23:08:46, Link
Author: skeptic
Wow, that was truely uncalled for.  For the first time I think I'm considering a cleansing exercise to rid myself of that image.

Date: 2007/11/01 12:02:08, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, I think I can see your point and understand my answers at the same time.  I think I was trying to go in two different directions at once.  For one, was answering right off the top of my head but in the case of the other I was really trying to examine the hypothetical in order to really dig into how it would change my thoughts or behaviors.  I see I've failed in this area because I'm having trouble sticking just to a simple "I was wrong - what now?" situation.  I think the nature of my wrongness, if I may stretch the language so, would go along towards predicting my behavior.  One reason for this could be how intregral my faith is to my life and how each complements the other.  Maybe I just lack imagination.

The church question, on the other hand, is an easy and obvious one for me.  The emotional/psychological/and spiritual effects that I get from church have nothing to do with the building, the people, or the participation.  My impact is derived from my relationship with God.  This is somewhat in contrast with many current interpretations but it's my personal understanding.  I've gone many times in life outside of a church environment because I don't need church to augment my faith.  So in the absense of God there's no reason I see to attend church.  That time would be much better spent with my family, playing golf, watching football, etc.

Sorry if that last bit violated the new regime we're operating under but I'm just responding as asked.  I have no intention of being purposefully difficult on this matter, it's just a matter of time and conveinence for me to stay in one place.  LOL, as usual, I disagree.

Date: 2007/11/01 12:04:37, Link
Author: skeptic
Hurry, someone, pull Erasmus away from the Mtv, it's really screwing up his speech patterns!!!!

Date: 2007/11/01 17:43:23, Link
Author: skeptic
2) actually, I think I tried to offer an explanation for this.  I believe that my faith is wrapped very tightly to my thinking process or maybe it's the other way around.  In any case, this makes it very difficult, for me, to entertain undeveloped hypotheticals.  Basically, I need more details to get an accurate picture of what a world outside my faith would look like in order to seriously consider how I would react.  Take that as you will.

As far as the rest of you comments, again you miss the mark.  Five steps ahead is definitely your MO.  The inconvenience I am referring to is when in the course of conversation an alternate topic comes up or a question is asked.  I'm not going to stop, post a note to see appropriate thread and then continue that discussion elsewhere.  I'm going to answer the question in place and continue on.  That is much less disruptive and more convenient for me.  I can offer one suggestion.  For every comment you submit to Steve for processing, I propose you enter a post identifying the offending post.  That way we can review your justification and keep track of your success rate, call it Louis' Whin-O-Meter.

Date: 2007/11/01 21:20:39, Link
Author: skeptic
I'm not so sure because I'd be presented with a reality to process.  I'd have to process it.  I don't think I'd blue-screen because the reality of the situation would be undeniable.  I can only base that assumption on the pragmatic aspect of my thinking but I believe it to be true.

Date: 2007/11/02 01:45:22, Link
Author: skeptic
Quote (improvius @ Oct. 31 2007,09:43)
The Mission
Amazing in just about every way, this film takes place in 18th century Brazil.  Spanish Jesuits are trying to save a native tribe from encroaching slave hunters.  Jeremy Irons plays a Jesuit Priest, and Robert De Niro plays a Portuguese slave hunter.  The story, acting, and scenery are all top-notch.  If you can watch this film and not be emotionally moved by the end, then you simply aren't human.

The Last Temptation of Christ
I'm going to go out on a limb and recommend this one to you all.  I consider myself an agnostic and not particularly religious in any way, and I greatly enjoyed this film.  Willem Dafoe does a remarkable job portraying JC as a truly human character, which is why many fundamentalist Christians  probably didn't like it at all.
Jerobeam: God brought you here, didn't he?
Jesus: All he brought here is my shame.
Jerobeam: Shame is also a temptation.
Jesus: God hunts me. He drives his nails into my heart. He wants to push me over. He wants me to speak. But he didn't touch my lips with burning coals. How can I speak? I sinned.
Jerobeam: We all sin.
Jesus: Not my sins. What does He want from me? Can't he see what's inside me? All my sins. I'm Lucifer.
Jerobeam: Be quiet!
Jesus: No! I'm a liar. A hypocrite. I'm afraid of everything. I never tell the truth. I don't have the courage. When I see a woman, I blush and look away. But inside I have lust. For God, I smother the lust, and that satisfies my pride. But my pride destroys Magdalene. I never steal or fight, or kill... not because I don't want to but because I'm afraid. I want to rebel against everything, everybody... against God!... but I'm afraid. If you look inside me you see fear, that's all. Fear is my mother, my father, my God.

Dafoe is perfectly matched up with Harvey Keitel as Judas.  The relationship between Judas an JC is one of the central themes in the film.  Both are revealed as complex characters, as this movie goes well beyond any Sunday-school version of Christ's life.

Oh yeah, and the soundtrack by Peter Gabriel is incredible.  Even if you aren't interested in the film, you should give it a listen.

I'm gonna shock you but I really liked The Last Temptation of Christ.  The interpretation of the "let this cup pass from me"-theme is really thought-provoking and brings out the real human angst.  Gibson hit it pretty hard in The Passion but in a completely different way.  In any case, I'd recommend it as well.

As far as my most favorite, it varies from time to time but most frequently it is Jaws.  IMO, it just doesn't get much better than that.

Date: 2007/11/02 09:08:03, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, that's exactly right.  I am constantly evaluating reality and measuring it against my perceived reality.  I don't believe I am unique in this respect as I'd bet we all do that to some degree whether consciously or unconsciously.  The contrast we run into is that I have yet to be presented with a case causing me to reevaluate this position.

J-Dog, you're absolutely right, it's time to clean this thread up.  Louis, you are also on report.  It's time for you to drop your childish vulgarity and start contributing productively to this thread.  Otherwise, I see no alternative other then having all your posts stuck over on the Wall with all the rest of the filth.

Date: 2007/11/05 17:50:35, Link
Author: skeptic
Bill, just a quick clarification.  Is this just a list or is it supposed to imply some kind of progression?

Date: 2007/11/06 22:30:38, Link
Author: skeptic
1) NO

2) I deny global warming hysteria, actually I worse than deny it but that's not really the question, or is it?

3) No

4) No

Date: 2007/11/07 13:20:34, Link
Author: skeptic
Nothing quite so sinister in my case as there is no evil puppeteer there is only me.  I responded to the questions because I was asked but I must point out that I reject the premise.  I'm not an IDer so you'll have to come up with another catagory to throw me into.  (Shut up, Louis lol)

As far as Ftk's suggestion of university study, I find this problematic.  ID is solidly in philosophy or current events discussions and nothing more.  But if you were to extend it into science I can only think of one way.  As a practical class on experimental design with ID as the focus.  The goal would be to design scientifically valid experiments testing the claims of ID.  What better way to learn how to design good experiments then to try to achieve the impossible.  I've always thought that a little bit of failure is the best teacher.

Date: 2007/11/07 18:38:13, Link
Author: skeptic
Chris, I find the typical end-of-the-world hysterical rhetoric insulting.  The largest aspect of the global warming debate is political and economical, IMO, and the pandering that goes on to appear publically favorable is annoying to say the least especially given the extreme ignorance of the general public.  It's far past time for some rationality to enter this discussion but I fear a critical mass has been reached and we've been launched on this global crusade to save the planet.  What hogwash!

that about sums it up...IMO

Date: 2007/11/14 00:07:43, Link
Author: skeptic
Anybody know if this will be available online?  I flipped over and saw that it was on but this is my Bones/House night and nothing interrupts that.

Date: 2007/11/21 11:33:02, Link
Author: skeptic
Not to revisit this but I just finished The Universe in a Single Atom.  This book offers a different perspective to those wishing to pursue this topic on their own.

Date: 2007/11/21 14:40:52, Link
Author: skeptic
Even though the post wasn't really aimed at you, Louis, because I've come not to expect much, I have no intention of revisiting the topic.  This was just a suggestion to anyone who may be interested.  BTW, you might want to actually read the book because you're sorely mistaken if you think the Dalai Lama's views in any way reflect yours.  In fact, your world view is treated rather unkindly by the Dalai Lama, or at least as close as he can get to unkindness.

Date: 2007/11/21 21:50:30, Link
Author: skeptic