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  #11  
Unread April 20th, 2005, 01:28 PM
Lizzie Pickard Lizzie Pickard is offline
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Default Re: Red vs. blue explained by white birth rate & Darwinian rational

Regarding this "Amen, sister". It's interesting, I have a southern Ohio Christian fundamentalist cousin (she and her husband are leaders ofCampus Crusaders for Christ) , and I always want to talk to her about what we both care about. I think we have so many similarities, yet so many deep differences. I often think that the way "liberals" get vilified is so unfair, and that actually my values, morals etc., of love, unselfishness, really overlap hers so much. The thing is, I'm an athiest, (or a "bright", to try to sound a little more positive) and an accepter of the truth of evolution. (Whereas her husband spent the Thanksgiving blessing talking about how evolution "just doesn't make sense".) So I dont' know how she'd make sense of my sharing some of her values, without sharing her Lord. In fact, I think that a bedrock of her faith is that I can't. Which again just seems so unfair, and so untrue!

But, although she talks about her views all the time- in fact makes her career of it, I am still closeted in the family for being an atheist. Mainly, I don't want to make people feel bad, because I know there is a lot of emotional comfort in faith. But it's sad, because I think that comfort leads to lots of ultimate misery.


You know, I wondered if you were going to put down the NY Times. It's just my local newspaper, you know. I actually also enjoy USA Today, but NY Times my city newspaper. It's far from perfect, but at least they have a Science section! That ain't nothing! I mean, the Macon Telegraph and News, the paper I grew up reading in Georgia, had nothing of the sort! Really, I think Science News is fascinating and entertaining, and... important! I think this is something to be applauded! I mean, do you think Saudi Arabia Times has a Science Section?!
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  #12  
Unread April 20th, 2005, 03:08 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Red vs. blue explained by white birth rate & Darwinian rational

Lizzie:
Quote:
I think we have so many similarities, yet so many deep differences. I often think that the way [liberal atheists] get vilified is so unfair, and that actually my values, morals etc., of love, unselfishness, really overlap hers so much.
Far as I can tell, no more unfair than the vilification of fundamentalists.

I find fundamentalists and atheists often to be equally artless—fundamentalists insist that they don’t believe in evolution, and atheists insist that a circular teleology—natural selection—confirms a directionless and ultimately purposeless evolution.

But of course the fundamentalists will outbreed you atheists, so perhaps, Lizzie, you should reconsider your atheism . . . it’s been said that it’s better to be red than dead.
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  #13  
Unread April 25th, 2005, 11:20 PM
Lizzie Pickard Lizzie Pickard is offline
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Default Reproduction For the Purposes of Besting Other People

I don't hear where I'm vilifying fundamentalists. I just disagree with them, and I fear their influence (as I'm sure they fear mine.)

I hear you doing something closer to "vilifying" both groups. I actually consider the suggestion that I should start reproducing for the purposes of competition to be rather "artless".

So, do you participate in an evolution website yet not "believe" the essential mechanism of evolution- natural selection?? I don't follow....
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  #14  
Unread April 26th, 2005, 10:39 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Red vs. blue explained by white birth rate & Darwinian rational

Yeah, I tend to vilify both groups.

I think one could argue that creating children, albeit somewhat instinctive even for us humans, is our highest form of art.

Saying that natural selection is an essential mechanism of evolution is about as helpful as saying that natural forces are the essential mechanisms in the evolution of our galaxy/solar system, without defining/quantifying the various natural forces. Unlike gravity, electromagnetism, etc., natural selection isn’t quantified nor clearly defined—best I can tell, it’s not much more than a circular teleology, a just so story. (Interestingly, all the natural forces that have been discovered/quantified so far are deterministic, the only exception being the apparent randomness at the quantum level when a measurement is made.)
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  #15  
Unread April 26th, 2005, 08:11 PM
Lizzie Pickard Lizzie Pickard is offline
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Default Natural Selection

Perhaps loving children might be counted as a high art form, but merely creating them, as you suggested, certainly couldn't. Any old selfish, thoughtless jerk can and does do that, every day, every second. It's yet another tragedy of planet earth.

If you are relating natural selection to mere "natural forces" and claiming it is all a big "just so" story, then you're not much different from an "Intelligent Design" so-called "expert". Ie. you haven't educated yourself on that which you are discussing, and apparently you don't really have any interest in sincere debate. It seems as though you have bones to pick, ideologies to uphold,and arguments regarding how you and your kind are better than others, and you are misusing evolutionary psychology as a vehicle to do so. I had wanted to discuss science.


P.S. Natural selection, which you claimed is "not clearly defined" is in fact quite clearly and specifically defined by biologists as: "differential reproductive success of genotypes"


Here's more, from an excellent introduction to evolutionary biology: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-...o-biology.html


Quote:
Common Misconceptions about Selection

"Selection is not a force in the sense that gravity or the strong nuclear force is. However, for the sake of brevity, biologists sometimes refer to it that way. This often leads to some confusion when biologists speak of selection "pressures." This implies that the environment "pushes" a population to more adapted state. This is not the case..."
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  #16  
Unread April 26th, 2005, 11:18 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Smile Re: definition of the natural selection process

Lizzie:
Quote:
Natural selection . . . is in fact quite clearly and specifically defined by biologists as: "differential reproductive success of genotypes."
Your definition (as well as all others) of the natural selection process indicates that the most successful genotypes reproduce the most offspring because, after all, they are the most successful genotypes—and the proof that they’re the most successful is because otherwise they’d be unsuccessful . . . and likewise, that the unsuccessful, or unfit, genotypes reproduce less or not at all because they are, after all, unfit—and the proof that they’re unfit is because otherwise they’d be successful. Hence, survival of the fittest.

And that, my endangered blue state friend, is circular!

Lizzsie, at the beginning of this thread you implored that “the system of evolution by natural selection is one to get away from as fast as we can.” Well sister Lizzie, brother Fred has shown you the way. It is finished. Go in peace, be kind, and spread the good news that science does not confirm that we are products of a meaningless, purposeless, and directionless process.
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  #17  
Unread April 30th, 2005, 11:31 AM
Lizzie Pickard Lizzie Pickard is offline
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Default Cultivating the Seeds of Virtue

The repeatedly tested, universally agreed upon definition of natural selection and its effects are anything but circular. The way you presented it indeed was circular. I don't think that represents anything except your level of understanding about the concept.

I get the feeling that you are conflating "genetic success" with personal success. That's sort of like saying roaches are some of the most successful species. I suppose from a biological perspective they are. But I don't think from a reasonable, human moral perspective they would be. I personally am much more impressed by the success of someone, who, say, is honest, is kind, has a sense of humor, qualities I don't know have been observed in roaches...

There is more to science (and to biology), than natural selection. It is the basic foundation of the field that should be well understood before discussing evolution,though. And, the essential processes of natural selection rely on mechanisms that, from a human moral perspective, should be condemned, rather than applauded. This is a major shift in how we usually think about things, a paradigm shift, but if one allows this to sink in, then everything else falls into place.

Am I saying that any positive acts of kindness, cooperation, altruism just spring out of thin air? No, I'm not, though you might be (or you might say they come from supernatural origins, which is pretty much the same claim.)

We can (and do!) study social systems of other primates to see where what (we humans consider to be) positive virtues originate. So, it's not that we as carriers of "selfish" genes are entirely selfish and awful in every way, because we see in the social systems of other animals that there are the seeds of virtue. In short, these seeds of virtue originate because it is to the genetic advantage of social groups to ultimately stay coherent and get along.

It is these kernals of cooperation that we (if we care about doing what is good and right and smart) should focus on and cultivate, rather than on simply repeating crude versions of "genetic success", which, again even a roach can achieve. We can set the bar a little higher than what insects pull off.

Just because we don't like the fact of natural selection doesn't mean that we should deny that its existence. Besides, the truth will win out, whether now or in 200 years. That's because the ways of natural selection are, in the worlds of distinguished 20th c. biologish George C. Williams, "abysymally stupid." We can be smarter than that. (Although we should have been smarter about all this already.) We obviously can harness the tools of love and education to get over our nasty, brutish heritage.

So, even though natural selection certainly has no prior goals, purpose or direction, perhaps we could say that insights gleaned from biology can, after all, give us some goals! We can (and perhaps should be morally compelled) to recognize the inherent tragedy of the world, and address it by trying to improve on the awful suffering rampant in the world around us. That's what I for one would like to try to do.
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  #18  
Unread April 30th, 2005, 04:30 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Red vs. blue explained by white birth rate & Darwinian rational

Lizzie:
Quote:
In short, these seeds of virtue originate because it is to the genetic advantage of social groups to ultimately stay coherent and get along.
Sure Lizzie, your belief in a directionless (and unavoidably circular) natural selection dictates that there’d have to be a genetic advantage from these so-called “seeds of virtue”—because, if there weren’t, your seeds would not have been successful, they’d not have survived.

But then that renders your assertion—that “the essential processes of natural selection rely on mechanisms that, from a human moral perspective, should be condemned, rather than applauded”—to be somewhat schizophrenic.

I suggest you read the following, and follow the argument wherever it leads—

Thinking Straighter, Why the world's most famous atheist now believes in God, by James A. Beverley | posted 04/08/2005 09:00 a.m.

Antony Flew, one of the world's leading philosophers, has changed his mind about God. And he has agnostics worried.

Some are mystified and others are angry. Typical of many responses is this one skeptical blogger: "Sounds to me like an old man, confronted by the end of life, making one final desperate attempt at salvation." Richard Carrier of The Secular Web even accuses him of "willfully sloppy scholarship."

His pedigree in philosophy explains the recent media frenzy and controversy. Raised in a Christian home and son of a famous Methodist minister, Flew became an atheist at age 15. A student of Gilbert Ryle's at Oxford, Flew won the prestigious John Locke Prize in Mental Philosophy. He has written 26 books, many of them classics like God and Philosophy and How to Think Straight. A 1949 lecture given to C. S. Lewis's Oxford Socratic Club became one of the most widely published essays in philosophy. The Times Literary Supplement said Flew fomented a change in both the theological and philosophical worlds.

Flew taught at Oxford, Aberdeen, Keele, Reading, and has lectured in North America, Australia, Africa, South America, and Asia. The Times of London referred to him as "one of the most renowned atheists of the past half-century, whose papers and lectures have formed the bedrock of unbelief for many adherents."

Last summer he hinted at his abandonment of naturalism in a letter to Philosophy Now. Rumors began circulating on the internet about Flew's inclinations towards belief in God, and then Richard Ostling broke the story in early December for the Associated Press. According to Craig Hazen, associate professor of comparative religions and apologetics at Biola, the school received more than 35,000 hits on their site that contains Flew's interview for Philosophia Christi, the journal of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. At his home in Reading, west of London, Flew told me: "I have been simply amazed by the attention given to my change of mind."
So what exactly is the reason for and nature of his "change of mind"?

Jeffersonian Deist
Flew has had to assure former students that he does not now believe in revealed religion. "Even one of my daughters asked if this meant we were going to say grace at meals," he said. "The answer is no."

Flew is also quick to point out that he is not a Christian. "I have become a deist like Thomas Jefferson." He cites his affinity with Einstein who believed in "an Intelligence that produced the integrative complexity of creation." To make things perfectly clear, he told me: "I understand why Christians are excited, but if they think I am going to become a convert to Christ in the near future, they are very much mistaken."

"Are you Paul on the road to Damascus?" I asked him.

"Certainly not."

Comedian Jay Leno suggested a motive for the change on The Tonight Show: "Of course he believes in God now. He's 81 years old." It's something many agnostics have said more seriously. However, Flew is not worried about impending death or post-mortem salvation. "I don't want a future life. I have never wanted a future life," he told me. He assured the reporter for The Times: "I want to be dead when I'm dead and that's an end to it." He even ended an interview with the Humanist Network News by stating: "Goodbye. We shall never meet again."

Flew's U-turn on God lies in a far more significant reality. It is about evidence. "Since the beginning of my philosophical life I have followed the policy of Plato's Socrates: We must follow the argument wherever it leads." I asked him if it was tough to change his mind. "No. It was not hard. I've always engaged in inquiry. If I am shown to have been wrong, well, okay, so I was wrong."

The Impact of Evangelical Scholars
Actually, Flew has been rethinking the arguments for a Designer for several years. When I saw him in London in the spring of 2003, he told me he was still an atheist but was impressed by Intelligent Design theorists. By early 2004 he had made the move to deism. Surprisingly, he gives first place to Aristotle in having the most significant impact on him. "I was not a specialist on Aristotle, so I was reading parts of his philosophy for the first time." He was aided in this by The Rediscovery of Wisdom, a work on Aristotle by David Conway, one of Flew's former students.

Flew also cites the influence of Gerald Schroeder, an Israeli physicist, and Roy Abraham Varghese, author of The Wonder of the World and an Eastern Rite Catholic. Flew appeared with both scientists at a New York symposium last May where he acknowledged his changed conviction about the necessity for a Creator. In the broader picture, both Varghese and Schroeder, author of The Hidden Face of God, argue from the fine-tuning of the universe that it is impossible to explain the origin of life without God. This forms the substance of what led Flew to move away from Darwinian naturalism.

I studied with Flew in 1985 in Toronto, and he told me then about the positive impression he had of emerging evangelical scholarship. That year Varghese had arranged a Dallas conference on God, and included atheists, like Flew, and theists. That same year Flew had his first debate with historian Gary Habermas of Liberty University on the resurrection of Jesus, recorded in Did Jesus Rise from the Dead? They have debated twice since on the same topic.

Flew has also debated Terry Miethe, who holds doctorates in both philosophy and religion, on the existence of God, and he has been involved in philosophical exchanges with J. P. Moreland, another well-known Christian philosopher. In 1998 he had a major debate in Madison, Wisconsin, with William Lane Craig, research professor at Talbot, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the famous BBC debate between Bertrand Russell and F. C. Copleston, the brilliant Catholic philosopher.

In Reading, I asked Flew more explicitly about the impact of these and other scholars. "Who amazes you the most of the defenders of Christian theism?"

He replied, "I would have to put Alvin Plantinga pretty high," and he also complimented Miethe, Moreland, and Craig for their philosophical skills. He regards Richard Swinburne, the Oxford philosophy of religion professor, as the leading figure in the United Kingdom. "There is really no competition to him." He said that Habermas has made "the most impressive case for Christian theism on the basis of New Testament writings."

These Christian philosophers have uniform respect for Flew as a person and as a thinker. Craig spoke of him as "an enduring figure in positivistic philosophy" and was "rather surprised by his giving up his atheistic views." He, Miethe, and Habermas have found Flew to be a perfect gentleman both in public debate and private conversations. Swinburne says Flew has always been a tough thinker, though less dogmatic as the years went by. Plantinga, the founder of the Society of Christian Philosophers, said that Flew's change is "a tribute to his open-mindedness as well as an indication of the strength of current broadly scientific arguments against atheism."

What Holds Him Back from Christianity?
Flew's preference for deism and continued dislike of alleged revelation emerge from two deep impulses in his philosophy. First, Flew has an almost unshakable view against the supernatural, a view that he learned chiefly from David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher. Flew, a leading authority on Hume, wrote the classic essay on miracles in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

What is rather surprising in Flew's dogmatism is that he believes Hume did not and could not prove that miracles are, strictly speaking, impossible. "If this is the case, why not be open to God's possible intervention?" I asked. He replied by saying that the laws of nature are so well established that testimonies about miracles are easy for him to ignore. He is not impressed by people who hear regularly from God. He did concede, reluctantly and after considerable discussion, that God could, in principle, puncture his bias against the supernatural.

Of more significance, Flew detests any notion that a loving God would send any of his creatures to eternal flames. He cannot fathom how intelligent Christians can believe this doctrine. He even said in his debate with Terry Miethe that he has entertained the thought that the Creator should punish, though not endlessly, only those who defend the notion of eternal torment. On this matter, Flew is willing to entertain fresh approaches to divine justice. In fact, he had just obtained Lewis's book The Great Divorce in order to assess Lewis's unique interpretation on the topic of judgment.

When I asked Flew about his broader case for deism, he asked rhetorically: "Why should God be concerned about what his creatures think about him anymore than he should be directly concerned with their conduct?" I reminded him of biblical verses that also ask rhetorically: "He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?" (Ps. 94:9) It seems incredible to argue that any human cares more about the world than God does. "Is the Creator really morally clueless?" I asked. Flew responded to what he called this "interesting argument" with openness. Moreland, who teaches at Biola, says he hopes that Flew "will become even more curious about whether or not God has ever made himself clearly known to humanity."

Unlike many other modern philosophers, Flew has a high regard for the person of Jesus. Early in the interview, he stated rather abruptly: "There's absolutely no good reason for believing in Islam, whereas in Christianity you have the charismatic figure of Jesus, the defining example of what is meant by charismatic." By charismatic, he means dynamic and impressive. He dismissed views that Jesus never existed as "ridiculous."

Later I asked, "Are you basically impressed with Jesus?"

"Oh yes. He is a defining instance of a charismatic figure, perplexing in many ways, of course." Beyond this, Flew remains agnostic about orthodox views of Jesus, though he has made some very positive remarks about the case for the Resurrection. In the journal Philosophia Christi he states: "The evidence for the Resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion." No, he still does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. However, he told me, the case for an empty tomb is "considerably better than I thought previously."

Plantinga, the dean of Christian philosophers, told me that the radical change in Christian scholarship over Flew's career has been remarkable. When Flew originally attacked theism more than 50 years ago, there were few Christians working in philosophy. Now there are a large and growing number of scholars committed to intellectual defense of the gospel. It is, of course, no small matter that one of the world's leading philosophers has moved somewhat closer to the side of the angels.

James A. Beverley is professor of Christian apologetics at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto. For more information on the interview with Flew, see Beverley's website at www.religionwatch.ca. Copyright © 2005 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information, April 2005, Vol. 49, No. 4, Page 80

Last edited by Fred H.; April 30th, 2005 at 09:41 PM.
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  #19  
Unread April 30th, 2005, 10:32 PM
Lizzie Pickard Lizzie Pickard is offline
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Default Re: Red vs. blue explained by white birth rate & Darwinian rational

from Fred:


Quote:
But then that renders your assertion that the essential processes of natural selection rely on mechanisms that, from a human moral perspective, should be condemned, rather than applauded to be somewhat schizophrenic.
Well, I can see how this perspective of mine might seem paradoxical, but not schizophrenic. The reason the entire system is to be condemned is because it's not a good system. There are some specks of positivity, but over all the values that stem from being better than your neighbor at getting your genes into the next generation are essentially, from a human perspective, immoral. It is a system of competition, selfishness, and pain.
Like a wild almond that is coated in cyanide in it's natural state, we can, through cultivation, concentrate our efforts to produce something good, like the artificially selected, domesticated, unpoisonous ones that we enjoy today.


As for the article, I'm sorry, but it didn't convince me of anything at all. I never did see his "evidence" for God, I saw lots of credentials and talk around that so called "evidence". I do plan to read "Mere Christianity" by Lewis, maybe I'll be able to learn something from him- he's a former atheist turned actual Christian.

I only read it quickly, but an article that starts off "agnostics were worried" was already a red flag for me that ineffective argument was about to be put forth. Because why would agnostics "worry" about a shift in someone else's beliefs? Since they themselves are not committed to any certain worldview, it seems like they actually might understand a shift in beliefs very easily!

This guy claimed to be "impressed by Jesus" because Jesus was a "charismatic figure". (Like Mohammad of Islam wasn't "charismatic"!) To think that Jesus' charisma was more important than his message of love, grace, forgiveness, and humility, indicates that to me, this guy has his values mixed up and is not worth listening to.

Personally, I would respect a person's belief in God much, much more if they had an advanced, fleshed out theology that goes with it, and helps them achieve a growth in their own morality, their own expectations of themself.

Finally, this guy was "impressed" by Intelligent Design, which fortifies my feeling that, despite the creditials listed throughout, he's not much of a scholar/ thinker/ philosopher, after all.
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  #20  
Unread May 1st, 2005, 09:46 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Red vs. blue explained by white birth rate & Darwinian rational

Lizzie:
Quote:
Finally, this guy was "impressed" by Intelligent Design, which fortifies my feeling that, despite the credentials listed throughout, he's not much of a scholar/ thinker/ philosopher, after all.
Oh, sure Lizzie, not compared to your own scholarship and thinking. On the other hand, perhaps you should reread the article, carefully this time.

For decades, Antony Flew has been among the most influential of atheist thinkers, a powerful opponent of religious belief. He’s had teaching positions at Oxford and Aberdeen, and Professorships at Keele and Reading; and has argued that theological claims should not be taken seriously because they can’t be falsified; and that atheism ought to be the default position, that the burden of proof on the question of God’s existence lies with the theist, etc.

In 2004, however, after decades of “following the argument,” Flew changed his mind, and is no longer an atheist. Aren’t you impressed that someone with all his credentials, at the age of 81 no less, is able to admit that he’s been so wrong for all those decades?

What does all this mean? Obviously, atheism is dead (sounds somehow redundant, doesn’t it?), although many of y’all may never comprehend its obvious demise.
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