Thursday, February 3, 2011

Godless Purpose

The question of purpose is one that religious people of all stripes raise when confronted with an atheist.  “If God does not exist,” they ask, their faces aghast, “then why are we here?”  When confronted with this question, I am often tempted to refer to the famous exchange between the British Prince Phillip and scientist Peter Atkins.  Prince Phillip, upon hearing Atkins speak about science, said (with all the haut of royalty,) “You scientists are awfully good at answering the ‘how’ questions, but what about the ‘why’ questions?”  Atkins, with a keenness of wit that I can only dream of one day possessing, responded, “Sir, the ‘why’ question is just a silly question.”  

While this poignant response stopped the British royal in his tracks, I dare say that it may not suffice for everyone.  After all, we do have an inherent urge to make our lives mean something.  Can this intrinsic desire be ignored so easily?  Can we really assign our lives to meaninglessness?  I believe we cannot.  A deeper purpose is needed for most humans and at least a partial fulfillment of that purpose is requisite for happiness. 

I believe, however, that we can find such purpose without pretending that imaginary things exist.  We do not have to fool ourselves into thinking that we are the playthings of some dictator in the sky in order to have meaning in our lives.  As with almost all things, the answer to the question, “why are we here?” can be found in science.  In this case, we can look to the process that took us from a single, simple, self-replicating cell to the intelligent, creative, loving beings that we are today:  Evolution.  

Deriving Purpose from a Purposeless Process

Evolution by natural selection is a cold, cruel and heartless process.  It works by allowing only the most fit to survive solely on the basis of their genetic predisposition to reproductive success.  It works like a machine—without intention, it morphs beings over time into plants and animals adapted for their circumstances.  It is the last place one would think to look to find meaning in life. 

And yet, one can infer some measure of purpose from an understanding of it.  One has to look at humans in the context of evolution and realize what we are.  Everything that makes us human, our fingers, our vision, our appearance, our posture, and most importantly our brains—8ilbs supercomputers that allow us to make decisions, feel emotions, perceive the world around us and reason through problems—have been crafted by this process, pitiless though it may be, so that we may more effectively protect the genetic information that constitutes our DNA.  Remember, the human is not the information; the human is the brain and the body that contain that information.  In a way, the human can be considered the protector of that information—a guardian that has been built, over millions of years in extremely small increments generation-by-generation, to protect it.  We are like Olympic runners, carrying the torch that is our precious DNA for a short time until we can pass it on to the next runner who will continue to carry it forward. 

When evolution is viewed in this context, it becomes very clear that, in the absence of an intelligent creator, humankind does have a purpose.  Our purpose is to survive and to ensure the survival of those who also carry our genes.  This includes all members of our species, but most importantly the focus is upon our off-spring, the ones within whom our own precious information lives past our individual deaths and who give us some sense of immortality. 

This purpose manifests itself in a host of beautiful and meaningful ways.  Romance is one such manifestation—the joy we feel when we find a partner who is willing to share themselves with us.  The ecstasy and nourishment of sex, the act of creating the next runner in the Olympic relay of life, is a pleasure that is incomparable and irreplaceable in the human experience.  But most of all, the unconditional love we feel for our children, the fierce desire to protect them and ensure that they survive and thrive long after we are gone. 

These powerful emotions are the result of nature selecting those beings most capable of living long lives and producing viable offspring.  So even though evolution by natural selection can seem to be a capricious and wasteful process, we can also see it as the method by which the strongest and deepest human emotions were created and infer a validation for the romantic and paternal impulses that constitute the best in all people. 

Objective and Obligatory

Religious readers will be quick to point out that the purpose which evolution imbues us with, while clearly objective—insofar as it crosses cultural boundaries and applies to all humans regardless of national, religious and historical boundaries—is not obligatory.  Despite the fact that we have a biological impulse to love our spouses and our young, we are not required to do so.  They may point out that we have other, less pleasant biological impulses that we feel morally obligated to control, like the impulses towards tribalism and belligerence.  If we are naturally evolved rather than created, then we are no more obliged to follow our altruistic instincts than our destructive ones. 

They would claim that, if the god of Christianity (or Judaism or Islam or Mormonism, etc.) exists then there is a purpose for humanity that is both binding and obligatory.  Most theologians claim that this purpose is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  It was for this purpose, they assert, that god created all of humanity and therefore that is the purpose of each of our individual lives. 

This may seem like a satisfying answer, until you actually think about it.  Once you realize what it really implies, you understand that this would be a very unsatisfying answer indeed!  I for one am very glad it is not true.  The best illustration of this point is made by Christopher Hitchens when he compares the god of Christianity to the North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il. 

Hitchens writes about his experience in a rare visit he was permitted to North Korea.  There, upon waking every morning, children are taught to thank the Dear Leader for allowing the sun to rise again.  Every day, the people of North Korea sing the praises of their dictator and their entire lives are spent working for his benefit. The North Korean government is not “for the people,” the North Korean people are for the government.  If anyone dares to rebel against Kim Jong Il, they spend the entirety of their lives in a work camp, suffering one of the most miserable existences imaginable. 

Your choices are servitude to someone who appears to be your moral inferior (but claims otherwise) or a life of inescapable suffering and torture.  Nothing could be more similar to the view espoused by Christians.  Eternal subjugation in Heaven to a celestial dictator who is beyond all petition or eternal torture and suffering in Hell.  In fact, the only difference I can see is that at least you can escape North Korea by death!  The god of Christian scripture offers no such mercy. 

The notion of a purpose that we may not wish to pursue and to which we are inescapably bound is one of the most despicable and undesirable ideas I can imagine.  It would be the ultimate cruelty. 

Furthermore, the very notion that we were all created so that we could have the opportunity to become devout Christians is undermined by the fact that this option has been made unavailable to the vast majority of people throughout human history.  Remember, humans have been on this Earth in our current state for approximately 200,000 years.  Out of this, the self-proclaimed benevolent god of Christianity has offered people the opportunity to have a relationship with him, through his human form, Jesus Christ, for a mere 2,000 years.  So all humans who lived in the 198,000 year period prior to Jesus, except for the small, exclusive desert tribe that Yahweh defined as his ‘chosen people’, were denied knowledge of the purpose of their existence! 

Not only this, but, as I observed in The Salvation Paradox, knowledge of the god of Christianity was withheld from the vast majority of people on the Earth after god decided to turn himself into a human and sacrifice himself to himself to get around a rule he made himself.  Knowledge of their supposed purpose in life was withheld from Native Americans, for instance, until European settlers arrived in the 1600’s.  It was withheld from Australian Aborigines until the 1700’s.  Surely if there is some objective purpose to life, some reason for why we are here, that knowledge should be apparent to all people, not just the small minority fortunate enough to be born in the right place and the right time.  If we look to evolution for an objective purpose, we find that this is the case—all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality or place in history, have the opportunity to find their purpose in creating, caring for and protecting their offspring.  If we look to religion for an objective purpose, we find the knowledge of that purpose confined to a select few throughout history.   

Subjective and Voluntary

So, we can infer a purpose for everything that makes us human from evolution.  We are under no obligation to pursue this purpose, but we should not wish for a purpose to be obligatory in the first place—that would be very unpleasant indeed.  But I think the thing that can give most humans the most satisfaction would not be an objective purpose, but a subjective one.  One that they can determine for themselves.  No one likes to feel that their life is outside of their control, so we cannot think that some dictate of purpose, whether it comes from nature or from a god, would be enough to satisfy anyone. 

What we need to realize is that we determine our own purpose.  While our minds and thoughts may not be the arbiters of reality or fact, they are the arbiters of meaning and value.  We can decide what pursuits we want to spend our life on.  If you decide that you want to make the purpose of your life the advancement of human understanding of the cosmos, you can do that.  If you decide that you want to make the improvement of the lots of others the purpose of your life, you can do that.  If you decide that you want your life to be about having as much fun as you can with the people who you love, you can do that, too.  You control your own purpose. 

At the end of the day, we have to realize that life has a purpose in the same way the pantry in your kitchen has a meal.  All the ingredients are there, but if you want it you have to make it yourself. 


  1. Well said, but I would contend that there are a lot of theists who also fit this description, whether they admit it or not!

  2. I agree, most theists will not make the purpose of their lives religion, but rather they will find purpose in their work or family. I think this is because most of them realize what an empty experience it would be to live for something as hollow and unsatisfying as religion.

  3. Honestly, I find it hollow to live for things like a pay raise, a sports car, a bigger house, and yet when poeple achieve these things they get a pat on the back...when someone achieves an insight or revelation regarding faith they are met with 'thats nice' and a change of the subject.

  4. I often invoke science to argue for the existence of god, I often point to the 'faith' scientists have regarding thier work and the work of others. The truth is by nature science is wrong almost 99.99% of the time. We however only read the sucesses. Ironic. Religions for the most part express what we inherently already believe or desire, To be free..To be loved, and to love. While it is possible to make a pie without cherries, its not possible to make a cherry pie without cherries. Also important is that not a single verse in the old testement has been proven false, in over 2000years no 'thoery' of science has EVER undergone such scrutiy and still been unaccepted.

  5. Hey I just read that your a mason, same here or I was until I went back to college for an IT degree. I mainly did brick and block, and was only in it for about 8yrs from mudb-tch to block layer but it was the best job I ever had physically and mentally. Good luck in your entrepreneur path.

  6. Hey Ryan, yeah, I'm in Mason, too! That's a coincidence. Great town.

    Regarding your first comment, you said a lot of stuff that is wrong, there. Working backwards:

    "Also important is that not a single verse in the old testement has been proven false, in over 2000years no 'thoery' of science has EVER undergone such scrutiy and still been unaccepted."

    This is incorrect. There is a mountain of things the Old Testament got wrong, both factually and morally. The entire Genesis creation story was wrong. I would suggest looking up a Youtube series called "What Genesis Got Wrong." It goes over how almost every claim made in Genesis is factually incorrect. Then of course you have the story of Noah's Ark, which obviously never happened. Not to mention all the moral and societal questions that the OT gets wrong.

    Now, you can choose to say that Genesis and many of the other OT stories were allegories that didn't really happen, but they contain lessons god wants us to know in order to live good lives. That's fine. But we know most of them did not actually happen.

  7. "I often invoke science to argue for the existence of god, I often point to the 'faith' scientists have regarding thier work and the work of others."

    Then you don't really understand science. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that's a very silly thing to say. The scientific method works like this:

    1) Examine evidence
    2) Form a hypothesis
    3) Try to disprove the hypothesis
    4) Share your work with others, who analyze it critically and also try to disprove your hypothesis.
    5) If no one proves you wrong and the evidence for your hypothesis is strong, your hypothesis becomes accepted eventually as a theory or law.

    Faith means to take someone at their word or to accept something without doubting it. Science is all about doubt. Scientists try to prove themselves and each other wrong. It's all about doubt and skepticism. Science is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of faith.

    You are right that scientists are wrong the vast majority of the time. That's because a lot of science involves the process of elimination. You see a phenomenon, try to figure out all possible explanations for that phenomenon, then rule them out one by one using experiments and observations.

    If you come up with a hundred different explanations for one thing, then at least 99 of them are going to be wrong. But what scientists are good at is figuring out what hypotheses are wrong and what ones are right. So when an idea moves from the stage of a hypothesis to the stage of a theory or law, it is usually right.

    The fact that science works like this should make us more accepting of science rather than less accepting.

  8. @anonymous, "when someone achieves an insight or revelation regarding faith they are met with 'thats nice' and a change of the subject."

    Personally, I think they should be met with a straight-jacket and a padded room, but that's just me :)

  9. Lets start with this then. Science is always wrong before its right.

    Story: I came across a log structure, composed of horizontal logs, it seemed odd to me since the structure seems to be there on purpose. As I examined the structure I noticed notches in the logs, and co-incidentially the notches helped the logs stay in place. Finally the pine needles arrayed on the top of the log structure seemed to prevent rain from entering inside it. I was suddenly convinced that it was made by some intelligent being..I headed straight to my teachers house and said I've found evidence of intelligent life on a planet. My teacher examined all visual data I gave her and said, 'I'm afraid what you have here is a mathematical anomaly, you see the tree standing straight up beside it?, well given enough time it was bound to randomly fall into what looked like a structure.' heartbroken, I returned home to my viewing device and turned it off. 'still pretty neat' i thought to myself, 'whats are the odds.'
    (The odds are indeed higher that life was spontaneously started in a enzyme/protein soup struck by lightning, then a log cabin forming at random in the woods, along with a pineneedle thatch roof.)

  10. While evidence (not science) is the complete opposite of Faith itself, the lack of answers and complete befuddlement of science, has lead more scientists to god then any preacher's sermons.
    'Einstein himself confessed that he could not fathom a universe without someone at the tiller. such a universe would be perverse and cruel. Ours is neither.'
    Nice story Ryan, I liked it.

  11. Okay, you seem to be switching now to the Teleological Argument, which is completely different from the two topics you previously mentioned, which were criticizing science and biblical inerrancy. Since you're not pursuing that line of argument I will take it to mean you have accepted that I am right about those.

    Now, onto the Teleological Argument. The story you gave is similar to the one about the tribesman and the watch in Paley's "Natural Theology." A tribesman walking along the beach finds a watch and assumes it has a designer because it is so complex. So, when we look at the human brain and see how complex that is, we can assume that has a designer, too. It actually made sense when Paley wrote it in 1805, because then the only explanatory options for the complexity of life were either 1) Design by an intelligent being or 2) They just randomly appeared.

    However, Paley's Watchmaker analogy was actually destroyed when Charles Darwin introduced option number 3 to explain the complexity of life--a slow, cumulative, nonrandom process of nature selectively breeding for beneficial traits, acquired from genetic mutation, built up incrementally in varying degrees of complexity over hundreds of millions of years. This is a much better explanation for how life got here and, unlike Paley's Watchmaker, it has the added advantage of being supported by all available evidence!

    The other problem with your story is that you assume complex things, like brains, need a designer. Fine, but any designer would then need an explanation for itself, since it would have to be more complex than the creatures it designed.

    Basically, if humans need a designer because we are smart and complex, then something smarter and more complex than us would also need a designer. A god would be much smarter and more complex than us, so how could a god exist without something to design him?

  12. @ Anonymous, ***FACEPALM!*** Albert Einstein did not believe in a creator deity!! He occasionally referred to the laws of the universe as 'God'. Basically he thought nature and god were the same thing--this belief is called pantheism. That's very different from a conscious, self-aware being that created the universe and cares about humans!

    In a recently published letter to a friend, Einstein wrote: "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."


    "For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

    He also wrote this about people like you who tried to make him out to be religious:

    "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

    - Albert Einstein, letter to an atheist (1954), quoted in Albert Einstein: The Human Side, edited by Helen Dukas & Banesh Hoffman

  13. Thankyou anonymous,

    The truth is 'Nature is the hand maiden of god..' science is both impetent and ill-equipped to handle the subject of god, they can only define and explain the some of the many facets of nature. Faith is important to god, or else he would just place an eternal reminder of his existence on earth (of course science would undoubtably call it an anomaly).
    The fact is your fighting a battle you can only win, if you surrender. over 80% of the world has faith in some higher power/being/entity and the other 20% are angry about it. They ask questions like how can you believe in this or that. The truth is they are angry with themselves and the question they should ask is 'why cant i believe?'
    Quantum physics suggests the foundation of the solid universe rests on non-existent and/or temporary matter and energy. This may be true. If it is then you have to ask, what force is strong enough to hold the universe together as it rides this turbulent and unstable foundation? Science is still seeking answers to the unified theory that can explain it. I may be as simple as because god wills it. how god does it would be insteresting to learn, but its not essential. Science has the laws of thermodynamics and yet can't explain particle spin (perpetual energy/motion), they have the enigma between quantum and gen. relativity and why they dont fit in the same universal theory.
    They have thousands of contradictions as yet accepted by the whole of science and yet unexplained. A long time ago newtons theories were accepted because it was the best they could come up with, Einstein corrected them later as did many other scientists. our science cannot prove god existence directly, but indirectly there is a stunning amount of evidence through contradictions and statistical data. Perhaps in time better theories and ideas will emerge, In ancient Greece science was viewed as proof of god, not the antithesis of god. I hope one day science will be part of the explanation of why god does certain things the way he does.
    Genesis in the bible is not the same genesis Moses stole from the library of Egypt, that's not an excuse but it is reason to examine closely. I believe anything contradictory in the bible is a matter of false interpretation rather then outright falsehood. many an archeologists have have their careers off the descriptions in the bible. Noah could have been carrying the DNA of all the animals, much like the A.R.K project we are establishing today, we always take it for granted that previous civilizations were inferior to ours... Aliens are another possibility, we show great hubris in thinking we know all that there is to know, when we discount everything else. I don't subscribe to any particular idea but I do consider them all as possible, until proven otherwise.

  14. Again, Ryan, you didn't respond to anything I said about the Teleological argument. You seem like you're just writing whatever pops into your head. Until you can write a more concise criticism of one of my posts, I won't be responding to you anymore.

  15. I don't think they get it.

    Ben didn't say anything about living for cars and houses. He did mention family, children, helping others, etc.

    Theists don't need a pat on the back in this life because when they die they're going to live with God, Jesus, their dead relatives, 40 virgins, whatever...when atheists die, they're just...dead!

  16. In point of fact, I do post on the fly. Sometimes I move off into some tangent or another. I will rarely cut n paste anything someone else wrote, but I may pull together different findings into a theoretical next step but I often state it as such. Sometimes I end of talking right past someone's point. For that i apologize. I'm not familiar with the term 'teleological' but I'll look into it later. I typically navigate through the church docterines and Religious potholes through intuition and faith, which then directs me to substantiate it through study.
    I still don't see science at the complete opposite of faith. Not being able to prove the existence of something, is not the same as definitively saying 'it does not exist'. Many of my friends who are science majors on campus agree the proper response from a true scienctist should be ' theres simply not enough evidence to prove one way or the other', Athiests like to batter religions with science's 'lack of evidence' or burden of proof principles. Point in fact is that science by its own rules and principles simply requires more evidence or better tools to make a determination. I honestly cant' say that a black hole is a collasped star, and NOONE can prove it is, but being the only Hypothesis (which includes alot of math) not dis proven makes it acceptable.
    I say prove to me that the universe is a random occurence, of course you wont because you can't, yet you accept it as fact BECAUSE its contrary to religious beliefs. Alot of thoeries in science remain thoeries BECAUSE they can not be proven, includeing the THOERY of evolution, to which darwin said something like [if the human cell is any more complex then a green blob, then my thoery is disproven] because he realized that if it is complex it could not evolve slowly over time. Alot of evolutionists have added more 'patches' to his thoery to make up for and counter arguements against it, but it only hides the weakness in his Evolution thoery.
    To be clear there are two evolution thoeries, one is correct the other is false. The first deals with mutations or 'evolution' within a species, the other (the false one) deals with mutations and Evolution outside of species. simply put reptiles will always be reptiles and mammals will always be mammals, although we may need to reclasify a few species, (i.e birds are reptiles not a seperate species)
    I'll respond to your teleological point as soon as I look it up, and come back and decipher where it is. I enjoy fleshing out not only my own understanding but also considering others point of view.

  17. Ok, I read up on it, and have a question. which form of teleological arguement/point were you refering to..extrinsic finality or intrinsic finality... I would hazard a guess at but I 'd rather wait for your reply on that. To clarify in your terms, Living for others is a extrinsic finality and closely aligned with Jesus's teachings, however extrinsic finality would more closely resemble Buddha's teachings, wherein you exist to exist and should not put value in outside things, but inside things. (although extrinsic finality is not opposed in the teachings of buddha, so maybe thats not a complete example)

    Regardless of which teleology argument/point we decide on, its value in science is limited if not avoided altogether simply because science does not believe in finality but that theirs always something larger or smaller or deeper to discover. The main reason for rejecting 'god did it' as an evolutionary rebuttal is because its a teleological finality science can't accept.
    So God created the universe to train and teach mankind. (extrinsic finality)
    Mankind exists to learn certain things. (intrinsic finality)
    Following the teachings of Christ will result in your passing the 'class', AS WILL following certain other serious religious efforts to get closer to god, i.e Koran, Judeaism, even Catholisism to a point. At least from a strictly biblical viewpoint. This is evident by certain verses like (paraphrased) if you were raised of a faith then stay true to that faith, and I am the way (path), the truth( doctrine) and the light (guide), most serious religions would not condem you for following jesus' teachings, in fact they may already exist within ther own religious text. Accepting Jesus as the Lamb allows you to call upon that covenant to wash away a repentant sin. Docterine and sects often place additional conditions upon 'passing the class' most of these are exclusionary bias and racist in nature.

  18. "If you come up with a hundred different explanations for one thing, then at least 99 of them are going to be wrong. But what scientists are good at is figuring out what hypotheses are wrong and what ones are right. So when an idea moves from the stage of a hypothesis to the stage of a theory or law, it is usually right."

    There are thousands of theories which science has not proven right or wrong. Science can ONLY prove its right or wrong provided they have the tools and enough evidence to make a conclusion.

  19. "The other problem with your story is that you assume complex things, like brains, need a designer. Fine, but any designer would then need an explanation for itself, since it would have to be more complex than the creatures it designed"

    while I don't discount that god created the universe, I don't claim to have a complete understanding of god. It may be that time itself is a product of this universe and being outside this universe god is not bound to such restrictions as linear timelines. God may be a 'cloud datebase' all life uses to store/retrieve data, I could list dozens of scenerios for what god is. Regarding Einstein's belief in god, I agree he didn't share the common belief in god that was prevelent in his day, but he did acknowlege that "Math and physics were products of an extraodinary mind" suggesting to me he had more then a cursory admiration for gods work. i believe it was the nature of god and his role that he objected to,
    Much like my friend once said so elegantly "God is the programmer and nature is the operating system upon which all other programs run"
    You can not prove or disprove the existence of the programmer until and except through deep understanding of his programs and the operating system.
    I seriously believe that god left something, some law or sub-law in nature that could be used to establish his existence. This could be through computer science (AI) or bio-medicine (change of consciousness) which many have reported was similar to the rapture feeling of the presence of the holy spirit. Either way from a science standpoint they can render no decision one way or the other without more data.
    So using science to disprove something becuase it fails to meet the pre-established criteria for consideration is short sighted, since eventually science will come across a method to prove it one way or the other.
    It might interest you to that enough evidence exists to say that thoughts in the human mind do not always take a physical path, sometimes they take a quantum path (shortcut). This has been measured in a lab and proven over and over. the Hypothesis is that the 'signal' thought enters the quantum state and then reappears at the node it was destined for. this however cannot be reproduced for other primates
    thats one hell of an evolutionary leap for a monkey to make. (btw I think angels were aliens and they tampered with life on earth, maybe even established it) I could give a few ref. in genesis. (the three seperations of water indicating seas,air,space. Heaven being the equivalent of low-earth orbit 'firmament', angels having sex with human females and having offspring, ect)
    Like genetically modified crops, I doubt evolution would ever put a peanut gene in a tomatoe to protect it from insects, or a fish gene in corn to increase nitrogen flow, likewise I think mankinds DNA was tampered with. the bible stories all read like a DNA experiment if you look closely, poeple were brought in from one culture had kids and then the parent was sent away or died. It happens quite alot. even the noah story (not originally hebrew) has to do with eliminating what god saw as bad seed.
    Anyways thats alot to read and respond too but since I am only online three days of the week (on campus) I figured I'd give you alot to chew on. btw I am a mason, I'm not from Mason. :P

  20. "Alot of thoeries in science remain thoeries BECAUSE they can not be proven, includeing the THOERY of evolution"

    Like most Christians, Ryan, you appear not to know what the word theory means when used in a scientific context.

    A theory in science isn't an 'educated guess'. A hypothesis is. A theory is a body of laws and facts that describe the relationship(s) between observed phenomena. Theories have been tested and passed, they are falsifiable but un-falsified. Hypotheses are educated guesses that have yet to be tested. Colloquially, we use theory and hypothesis and guess in the same way, but to scientists they mean two very different things.

    So something like evolution could never become a law no matter how much evidence there is for it. Just like the theory of gravitation or the heliocentric theory (theory that the Earth orbits the sun) can never be considered laws.

    Now, there are facts that evolution accounts for. For instance, it is considered a fact that humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees. That fact is one of many facts that constitute the overarching theory which is evolution in general.

    "to which darwin said something like [if the human cell is any more complex then a green blob, then my thoery is disproven] because he realized that if it is complex it could not evolve slowly over time. "

    I've read 'Origin of Species' and I don't recall Darwin ever saying "if the human cell is any more complex then a green blob then my thoery is disproven". I very much doubt that he wrote that because 1) Darwin knew how to spell, 2) Darwin knew the difference between 'then' and 'than', 3) Darwin knew there was more than one kind of cell in the human body.

    I think what you're trying to get at here is the point that single cellular organisms are complex at the cellular level, which was a discovery made after Darwin's time. This is actually what we would expect to find if evolution is true, because single cellular organisms (which have existed for 3 billion years longer than multi-cellular organisms) should also undergo evolution by natural selection and increase in complexity over time.

    The first self-replicating molecule, however, would have been much more simple and along the lines of the one recently created in a San Diego laboratory. Once you have a self-replicating molecule and scarce resources, you have evolution by natural selection. Over time, with natural selection, you have a wide variety of complex and inter-dependent life.

  21. You seem to hold science to a special end all be all, its a misleading outlook, Science is a tool; a collection insights to the mechanics of the universe. I'll grant that science has greatly improved our understanding of the fundemental laws and mechanics of the universe, you must also admit that science could one day prove an intelligence (perhaps comprised of some trillions of connections vis stars and dark matter or whatever) or perhaps a guy in a white coat with a clipboard. Either way science cannot be used as an argument against god, simply because as a rule it refuses to look at the issue of god. Science can only be used to examine the universe's physical mechanics, nothing more.
    If science were correct then bringing back a dead relative would be as simple as chargeing the body with current and stimulating the cells to begin replicating. Fact is the best science can accomplish is to restart the body-system within a few minutes of 'death',why can't science create original life? (not some spliced molecules) should be simple physics right, easy peasy. Its not like a soul is required right?.
    Bring back Babe Ruth! or the guy whos blood is on the shroud of torin? Science is limited to where it looks, so if it does not look at something poeple say it doesn't exist, until someone finds a prehistoric fish the size of a dog who (according to evolution) should be extinct for millions of years, I got a question does it have an IPOD, it should its had millions of years to evolve one...
    Name anything in the universe that follows the evolution idea except biological organisms, psst its because he was a 18th century high brow medical doctor (who probably used leaches, and blood letting) read his original version

    I have class, so I have to go. hope to talk with you again before I sign off for a few days.

  22. Ryan, read "The Making of the Fittest" by Sean B. Carroll, then come back to discuss evolution. They even have an audio version at the library.

    I just wanted to comment on a couple other things you mentioned, for what my opinion is worth:
    Science deals only with the natural world. I agree, scientists should not comment on the existence of God when they are talking about science, and I think most scientists agree. Many scientists actually do believe in God. Likewise, religion should be kept out of science.

    And most of the time, atheists do not say "God does not exist", they say "I don't believe in a god".

  23. Evolution certainly has created diverse thinking! Which makes me wonder if, how and why religion is a product of evolution? For example, could it be that religion was an important tool for maintaining human existence at a time when human life was becoming increasingly under threat? Is this transition over and now the time to ditch it?

  24. Lol Ryan, based on that last comment, I think you may be living disproof of evolution

  25. @maf2002--you may be interested in this article:

    Also, Richard Dawkins talks a lot about the selection pressure for a "god gene" in 'The God Delusion'.

  26. Like a lot of other words, the word "theory" has multiple meanings, just like bat, bowl, row, etc. In colloquial use, a "theory" is a guess. When used in science, a "theory" explains a set of facts. And in science, a guess is called a "hypothesis."

  27. Ryan, you write:

    "While it is possible to make a pie without cherries, its not possible to make a cherry pie without cherries."

    That had me scratching my head. You have given us a tautology I believe.

  28. ben, why are you wasting your time discussing this with someone of 'faith'

    if ryan wishes to believe in santa claus, then let him... hey, he could even run for president... & win!...

    time for us all to stop this childish nonsense, grow up and take some responsibility for ourselves, our species and this fantastic rock we've found ourselves on...

    oh & sue...

    god does not exist

  29. Anonymous, you'll notice that I said "most of the time." Sorry, but I'm using the official mantra of Dawkins, Shermer, PZ, etc. God can neither be proven nor disproven, so none of them is willing to make a statement of absolute certainty.

  30. I thought it might be useful for at least one person in the room to argue for god. I agree there is a lack of scientifically quantifiable evidence to promote a working Hypothesis/Theory for the existence of god. One could say the same for things like Love (or other emotions). Science continues to make people dumber by constricting their framework. If it don't fit toss it out. The world is a great deal more then what science can define. One reason why AI computers are a long way off, since they can only function in a set parameter environment, ask a computer what date Columbus set sail for the new world and in a flash you get an answer. ask it which is better red or blue, and you get a syntax error. (showing my age here lol)
    The over-use of the term thoery even in the strictist sense based on 'facts' is becoming apparent, there are facts supporting both the advent of climate change and that its a hoax, but if two theories have plenty of facts which is accepted?
    "Psychology is a theory" says my psyc professor on day one, first thing out of his mouth, and yet the 'evidence' used to prop it up involves case-studies and interviews. I wonder if my interviewing all the believers around the world would lend any wieght to the discussion.
    So believers in god are delusional? A delusion shared by nearly 80-90% of the world, crossing language,race,creeds,preferences. With a small percentage of the population of the world believing the rest are crazy....but we're (80%+) the ones who are delusional.
    Believing in something feels better then believing in nothing, that alone warrants investigation, both scientific and socially.

    Also an interesting article about quantum entanglements and how the brain communicates with itself. It essentially says that most of your 'thoughts' exist in a quantum state and would continue to exist after the body dies.
    I think Einstein would appreciate that as a nice explanation of the mind/soul. Now I guess we need to find out if they are cohesive after they are set adrift in the quantum ether when the body dies.
    I'll find the link and post it before the days out.

  31. The following references as promised. If you need a scientific/fact based explanation of god/soul/mind ect you'll love this....

    The Principle of Existence II: Genesis of Matrix Law & Math of Ether
    Consciousness Medited Spin II: Genesis of Matrix Law (alt. version of paper 1)
    Prespacetime Model II: Genesis of Matrix Law
    Landscape and Direction of Quantum Brain Research
    Experimental Support of Spin-mediated Consciousness Theory
    Consciousness-mediated Spin Theory.

  32. opps, wrong set of journals, the above was something I was looking into and still had in my clipboard. Its sorta revelavant, but in truth is a bit 'preachy' for this crowd, also too much math.

    Try this site,

    I would like to correct myself, Earlier I made a reference to it in previous posts, as quantum mechanics where I meant to say quantum field theory; an easy enough mistake, but a whole different ballgame. The site does a very nice job of summarizing all the math equations into a readable essay like format. It also provides the math should you feel the need to work it out.
    There are some other sites, which provide details on how to set up your own experiments if you'd like to compare results. (my favorite is the plant-photosynthesis decision-making experiment) and its also the easiest (cheapest) to reproduce. good luck and have fun

  33. David Bohm
    Gustav Bernroider
    David Chalmers
    Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff
    Henry Stapp

    If you'd like to search for your own resources the names above are considered the leaders in this field, thier papers are dry and full of notations but they are unedited.

    "If someone disagrees with you, its a theory. If no-one disagrees with you, its a fact." -Ryan Tollmann

  34. Ryan, how is it you went from:

    "I often invoke science to argue for the existence of god, I often point to the 'faith' scientists have regarding thier work and the work of others. The truth is by nature science is wrong almost 99.99% of the time."


    "Either way science cannot be used as an argument against god, simply because as a rule it refuses to look at the issue of god. Science can only be used to examine the universe's physical mechanics, nothing more."

    It refuses to look at the issue of God, but you can use it to prove God's existence.

    You can use it to prove he exists, but not to prove he doesn't exist.

    Nature science does not work 99.9% of the time (I really want to know where you got that statistic) but it can only explain mechanics of a physical universe. So therefore, 99.9% of what we know is wrong, and you believe that a man survived in the stomach of a Big Fish for three days and was spat out of the blowhole afterwords to warn a city it was about the be destroyed by an invisible man in the sky. Yet flight, computers, medicine, entertainment, technology, and the rest of science is almost all wrong? Yeah, right :P

    Also, if science can only explain the physical mechanics of the universe, you must also think that since you can use science to prove God's existence, God must be a physical entity, correct? Unless he isn't, in which in your own case of trying to prove the existence of God you would be proving your first and primary point to be wrong, therefore nothing you said afterwords would make any sense.


  35. To justify my earlier statement, I should expand on it. Science often reveals things which if left to evolutionists would require the universe to do backflips in statistical anomalies. I should have said 'the short-comings of science helps reveal the existence of intelligent purpose.'
    My statement regarding the 99.9%...simply put, science continually revises its 'Hypothesis' and 'theory' stages until either it can no longer provide 'new' theories or provides enough evidence to maintain current theory. In simpler terms my science teacher said. Science fails every time until the very last time, when it proves itself right, i.e it has a 99.9% failure rate, where as the science we accept is made up of the .01% which has significant evidence/support
    I hope that clarifies, my position on science. While it is useful to use science to advance ideas and theories, one must remember it has a 99.9% failure rate. Many Theories thought concrete enough to build on, have been found to be structurally unsound, upon closer examination. a good example of this is the theory of how blackholes process and manipulate energy, for quite so me time Stephen Hawkins theory was held to be definitive, he recently was proven wrong and admitted as much. It required only one person and alot if time and math to do so. Yet how many poeple quoted his theories in debates and arguements.
    So then the theory of evolution, which admittedly has alot of holes in it, is still just a theory, accepted by many (perhaps because its taught as fact in schools) and unquestioned by many more. Yet even as recently as 2009 the remains of 'cousins' of homo sapiens have been located in remote areas, my rough count came to about 6 cousins, so different from modern man that they were given thier own names. this puts a kink in mordern mans family tree, which evolution attempts to graft 'inferior' versions of humanity onto the main trunk of primates. that 'grafting' process changing everytime a newer version of humanities cousins are found. I tend to lean torwards multiple trunks, where primates follow parallel lines. Evolution also refuses to consider the idea of outside tampering or DNA manipulation.
    Ironically since evolution is considered to be a process of nature, and nature is the handmaiden of god, then both statements 'evolution did it' and 'god did it' would be accurate, since god wrote the code/program. however I find both statements to be cop outs.
    In essence Evolutionists simply believe 'chance' is the reason for our existence. While I don't agree with many religious explanations, I find sufficient scripture to suggest modern man is a product of combining the existing lifeforms of this planet with perhaps the DNA of non-terrestrial lifeforms, either for thier own purpose or under the auspices of doing gods work. this would account for the 40,ooo+ years of evolution 'missing' from our genetic history and the 2% difference in our DNA and other primate cousins.
    Funny the term cousin is often used to describe other human offshoots, yet to be a cousin by definition requires both common ancestry and outside ancestry i.e one of your reletives and one of another. :P

  36. "I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details." (The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press, 2000 p.202)

    Einstein said many things, mostly it was negative in regards to god and man. He did often attack the established religious idea of god and mysticism, but quietly relenting that while he disagreed as to the nature and purpose of god he did want to meet him one day. In expressing a desire to want to know gods thoughts it is clear he believed god to be more then just a collection of natural laws. On could say he had a unique perspective on god and shied away from any doctrine or religious text which tried to define god in some way.

    "While it is true that science, to the extent of its grasp of causative connections, may reach important conclusions as to the compatibility and incompatibility of goals and evaluations, the independent and fundamental definitions regarding goals and values remain beyond science's reach." (Albert Einstein, 1948)

    Just a little on Einstein since some many like to quote him. I would say he was a man of Faith just not the same faith of those who surrounded him in his day.

  37. Sue T.
    The bible doesn't say poeple are going to live in heaven, heaven may be where they are judged, but then they are returned to the earth (the new earth, presumably after it is destroyed by fire)
    Evolution is a tricky subject because it contradicts many religious teachings, not that I agree with some monk in the 16th century who said the earth is 6000 yrs old, thats the catholic docterine, and plenty of serious religions have already moved past that.
    I think the main problem with evolution stems from the fact that it implies that man was a result of nature not god, and that god wasn't needed in the process. I believe god helped man to grow and learn, how much or in what ways is debatable. One day science may conceive of an experiment to test the validity of religious claims, but I doubt it since they lack the will to do so.

    'A bacteria cannot measure his own petry dish, let alone the table it sits on. It is therefore expected that should the bacteria be asked if he believes in the table; Its answer (if based in science) would be no.' - N. Tesla

  38. Anonymous:
    My point was that theists will reap their benefits after they die.

    I think the main problem with evolution is that most people who talk about it don't know enough about it.

  39. God made words, brains, understanding... knowledge is HIS/HERS
    ...God made everything we know. Sure we will try to make sense of it...but to be disconnected from the spirit of God is to be lost...and for no good reason...especially when your time comes to cross over into death. Foolish people drive cars and don't buy insurance...the consequences of rejecting God's Spirit would be infinitely worse than taking time to let Him in. I am not at all referring to religion either!