In reading my last few blogs I have been noticing that all of you have many different opinions and beliefs centered around religion and spirituality.

A friend of mine, who sometimes checks out my blog, was suggesting that an interesting question to pose would be: What is it that solidified these beliefs? Why believe in what you believe in?

This site has proven to be such a place of respect and honor as well as honest communication and exchanges, so I am so looking forward to hearing all the different perspectives.

Thanks!
Xo
Allison

Add yours Comments – 238

  • Mikael

    on August 24, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Yes, but not in that magnitude. I know it is written about the flood i said so before. But the flood story is not true, you can believe that it is, but its not smart.
    God has not told you this story, god is not involved, it is people. A long long time ago. That did not have reason like we have today and a long time has passed so things in the texts are lost or re written. The choice is not me or god, it is science or a tall tale. There is not proof of god and there never will. He is not real. I grew up with the bible. I was a christian. My grate grandmother is still to this date. I just understood that either science is correct or god is. (This is when i was about 9 to 11.) Science have bases of fact and its not just guesses made a long time ago it is someone trying to really understand. And doing so by research and looking at what nature tells us.
    The argument for god is – He works in mystic ways. It dosent cut it.
    Ricky Gervais turns this into a joke in his stand up Animals, and he have a good point. Why would you believe in something on the bases that you cant understand it?

  • Mikael

    on August 24, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    By the way the mesopotamian src your talking about speaks against the bible, it talks about a king escaping a big flood. A big flood granted but not a global one.

  • Kirk D. aka "SPARTACUS"

    on August 24, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Just a thought to Mikael.
    I have heard and I haven’t verified it, but I heard that the geologic column is used to date fossils and artifacts. But I also heard that the fossils date the geologic column. Which one is it? Do you know if this is true or not?

  • Mikael

    on August 25, 2008 at 3:54 am

    Well, the rocks and layers date fossils, but the fossils date geological column more accurate. So both in a way.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on August 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks for your response.
    Just a thought concerning this.
    Isn’t this circular reasoning? If the rocks and layers date the fossils, but the fossils actually date the rocks from which those fossils come from, how do you know how old they actually are? Where do the numbers or the dates come from.

  • Nathiest

    on August 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Nothingness. You want to feel one with the universe? Then try believing in nothingness no gods, no afterlife just life as it is. The true emptiness that I feel is far greater then anyone’s belief. Nothingness is next to Godliness.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on August 25, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Man, I hear a lot of pain in the words of Nathiest. How did you come to your conclusion? Who or what let you down in life?

  • Mikael

    on August 26, 2008 at 4:08 am

    Not at all, see you can use the fossils to date layer. geologic column is more for getting different periods and events. By the way i don’t work with the geologic column so im not the best man to talk to. My main focus is in the Mesopotamian history and ancient Egypt.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on August 26, 2008 at 7:40 am

    Ok?
    I understand that you can use one of them to date the other once the actual age of one of them has been established (sort of like an anchor or a point of reference) but how was that point of reference established. If I where to go and dig up a fossil from the desert in Egypt and I found it in a certain layer you will know how old it is by the layer. But how do I know how old that layer is or how old that fossil is? All I know about that fossil is that I found it. Who gives or what gives the age of a fossil or layer so that I can tell how old it is. Something had to come first. So which one came first? There has to be some scientific research and evidence found to establish these dates or else it is just like saying your guess is as good as mine, and since some of us have more money or more power my guess is that that is the one we will go with. If there is no science or if there is science that is based on this then, doesn’t that just boil down to a belief?
    Just thinking.
    Do you think you can find out which one comes first in figuring out the date and then let me know?

  • Phil Damico

    on August 26, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I think people want to believe that there is something out there that is bigger then ourselves, bigger then the universe, a love that surpasses all understanding! There is, sometimes it just takes some of us a little while longer to find Him! Why not believe? I would rather go my whole life on a little faith then go my whole life on none and be wrong in the end.

  • Mikael

    on August 26, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Kirk. Studying artifacts was the first.

    Phil. Do you know how big the universe is, not in size but in the endless activities out there? Think about deep sky objects for ex. When you look at a other galaxy, many of them are so far away, that the light we se is older then our planet, indeed our solar system? Is that not wonderful? We may actually be able to see the big bang if we get our telescopes to that level. Just think about that for one sec, how cool is that? And what about life? When we actually find out how life comes to be. We might find life from other planets, think of the stories they could tell. Think of the technology they might poses. Im not saying that there is intelligent life outside our solar system, but it might. And if not, the future is still in the skies. The only way to ensure the survival of the human race is to populate other planets. That sounds impossible i know. But thats just a matter of time. If the possibilities of space is not enough for you, i don’t think any god could ever be. Our world is full of mysteries and wonderful complexity. If you study it hard, you might be able to make a difference. You might give us an answer or you might give us a question. Dont underestimate yourself and dont let the lies blind you when the truth is so much more beautiful and full of possibilities.

  • Mikael

    on August 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    By the way, if there is something that most gods have in common it is that there very jealous and dont like it when you “Fool around with other gods” so they will hate you less if you dont believe then if you bet on the wrong horse.

  • Paul A.

    on August 27, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I do believe in a religion but my view is that religion is not control over ur life but we have a choice giving all of us spiritual freedom!!! P.S. I respect unreligious people!!!

  • Ralph

    on August 27, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I believe in a greater power not called a certain name or worshiped in a specific tradition but instead in the good that these powers bring. I choose to call this greater power God, a coworker of mine chooses to call his Allah. We both practice our traditions differently however when it comes down to it be both believe in the greater good that can come from them. We both believe in helping those who need help, treating others as we wish to be treated, doing the morally right thing, etc. In the end I believe in doing the right thing not for myself but for the bettering the world and others and no matter what i or anybody else calls it i believe that all religions have the same goals in mind regardless of the traditional steps used to get there. I believe that people who truly accept a greater power into their lives want to be “Good” people. I am sorry if i am at all confusing i never know quite how to say what i truly feel.

  • Mikael

    on August 28, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Well its clearly not true that the intentions of all believers are pure. In that case how do you explain holy wars and religions witch indicate and tells its followers to kill people from other religions. If your statement is correct. Then people arent bad, religions are. In a aspect i think your right. As a great man once said. -Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    Meaning religion trick people to do evil things by saying its good. Thats why the london bombings happened. These were “Normal” guys, without a hidden motive. Just the venom that is religion.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on August 29, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I’m sorry Mikael, I have done a little research and nothing seems to answer the question about the geologic column and fossils or artifacts and their dates.
    All I know about a fossil really is that it died. Without the geologic column the actual age is unknown.
    What I have discovered is that Charles Lyell came up with the theory of the geologic column back in the 1800’s. He came up with this theory and the dates for the fossils before radiometric decay dating was invented. So, how did he come up with those dates unless he just guessed or made them up to fit his beliefs? If he doesn’t have proof for those dates, and evolutionary theory is founded on those dates, what happens to evolution? I mean if you tell me the artifacts or fossils date the rock layers and the rock layers date the fossils, and they use index fossils to date those rock layers, and Charles Lyell is the one that came up with those dates before radiometric decay dating, then how can those dates be accurate? Are the dates used in radiometric dating even possible without the geologic column? Darwin based his theory on this geologic column being true. We are caught in a circle if we date fossils by rocks and rocks by fossils without proof that those layers are really the ages the intelligencia of today claim. This geologic column in a sense is like the bible for evolutionary theorists. If it isn’t circular reasoning, what is it?
    A Religion?
    Evolutionary theory is just as responsible for the death and war count on this planet. I have heard and haven’t verified, that Hilter went to a Christian school growing up, but put his up bringing to the side and embraced survival of the fittest “evolution”. I heard that Stanlin was a bible student and left the faith and embraced evolution as well. Talk about venom.
    Just letting you know some observations that I have made and learned.

  • Scott

    on August 29, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I am stating my thoughts without once reading anything people have written here, or thinking of any person or group in particular. I say this as a precursor to avoid the usual spectacle of arguments stirring up over personal opinions.

    Religion, the set of acts and rituals by which people reach toward spirituality. Spirituality, the raw experience of associating with the spiritual.

    The trouble lies in assuming that the religion is the one and only gateway to the spiritual, which is ironic considering the multi-faceted nature of spiritual in common myth and lore.

    We automatically blind ourselves by sticking to a religion without once analyzing it fully. This does not mean treating it as if it is untrue, it means simple analysis. You can maintain your faith while analyzing the religion itself.

    Religions contain a glimmer of the spiritual but have undoubtedly been corrupted to some extent with the passing of time. This is not necessarily malicious. The passing of time brings with it new generations with new trends, morals, mental perspectives, terminology. The word “gay” in the early 1900s meant only “happy,” a much different usage than the primary use of the term in today’s vernacular.

    In order to come to a true and full vision of the spiritual, it is important to question and analyze.

    As for my personal opinions, I know there is something more and spiritual about this world, which no one religion can fully grasp, especially in words. There are feelings and experiences that go far beyond textual and visual description.

  • Mikael

    on August 30, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Kirk. Im not saying that alla atheists are good. You didnt hear me maybe. Besides even if i agree and say that evolution is not true. (Witch it is, we have countless evidence and not just in fossils, but more resent findings. We have microbiology and also there is the sybosis) But lets say your right. This have never, ever provoked war. Hitler did what he did, because he wanted germany to once again raise.(Its not clear if he was an atheist either, he said things like – The will of jesus. And called them Christ killers.) And Lenin did what he did because he wanted power and because the prior tsar in russia was bad. There might been a war lead by a atheist or evolutionary but it had nothing to do with evolution, religion on the other hand. Tells people to kill others. Tells us to kill children if they raise there voice and it tells us that women are property. Just take a thing like martyr heaven. It is in the bible and in other holy texts. Where in Darwins books do you find – If you throw a stone into a mass of haidens and you hit the one Jew. What should be your punishment? Or – If a stranger comes and try to teach you about his religion, trow the first stone before he speaks.

    We can agree on one thing though religion could never give us the wonders of the world. like shakespear wrote. -There are more things in heaven and earth,
    Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on August 31, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Hey Mikael,
    Thanks for getting back to me.
    (This is kind of long, you might want to grab a cup starbucks or somthing before reading it. lol)

    I think it is safe to say that each branch of beliefs has its extremes, whether it be creationists or evolutionists, but it still ends up being a belief system for both. A belief system or worldview. I don’t doubt that you believe that evolution is true, all I am saying is that there is evidence that questions and casts a shadow of reasonable doubt on evolution. Meaning 1. Cosmic evolution – the origin of time, space and matter, ie. Big Bang. 2. Chemical evolution – the origin of higher elements from hydrogen. 3. Stellar and planetary evolution – origin of stars and planets. No one has ever seen a star form, (I’ve heard that Boyles gas laws will drive the dust away from forming a star or planet, but we have seen a star die. Shouldn’t there be more dead stars out there if the universe is as old as evolution says it is? 4. Organic evolution – Origin of life. Organic life coming spontaneously from inorganic matter. 5. Macro-evolution – changing from one kind of animal into another. (Never been observed.) 6. Micro-evolution – variations within kinds of animals. (This is the only one that has been observed.) All the others to me seem to be religious or a belief system and not fact. Its like saying you have the theory that explains how we got here not let’s go find the evidence, instead of letting the evidence speak for itself. Is there a piece of real proof that can be put into a persons hand and say that this will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that evolution is true (meaning 1-5). The same thing can be said about God. No one can take Him and put him in a test tube.

    You still haven’t answered my question about the geologic column. I have heard it asked, if the layers are as old as evolutionists say they are, shouldn’t there be erosion marks between the layers? It should have rained a few times within the millions of years between the laying down of each layer? Why are there no soil layers between many of the rock layers in the geologic column, if those layers are millions of years old? How long would a dead tree stand upright before it falls over? 5-10 years? How about 5-10 million years? Why are petrified trees found all over the world, standing upright, through multiple geologic layers? How can one tree connect through all of those layers? There are even petrified trees that are found standing upside down running through many rock layers.

    Different question:
    Termites have these little critters in their gut that digest cellulose, because the termite can’t digest cellulose. The termite can’t survive without those critters and those little critters can’t survive without the termite. Which one evolved first?

    I have heard this question asked: Why are Earnst Haeckel’s fake drawings from the 1800’s purporting to show the similarity (his theory of quote “biogenetic law”) of eight different embryos in three stages of development, still being used today? The actual embryos look nothing like Haeckel’s drawings. He lied and his own university held a trial and found him guilty of fraud. He was pushing evolution in Germany for years based on a lie that he created. Why is his theory still being taught as fact, when it was proved to be a lie over 100 years ago? The horse evolution was proved wrong 50 years ago and yet it can still be seen in some text books and in many museums across the world.

    Speaking of microbiology:
    How can evolution explain the bacterial flagellum? It has all the parts of an outboard motor. How could this evolve?

    In regards to Hitler:
    He has a philosophy about the supreme race, beginning blond haired and blue eyed with white skin. On the other side of his spectrum are the Blacks and the Jews, who to him are inferior and said are mostly ape and less evolved than the Germany Aryan race. You have to make people less than human to be able to justify killing them as he did. I have heard that in 1936 the German Supreme Court “refused to recognize Jews living in Germany as ‘persons’ in the legal sense. We all know what followed. And wasn’t it Hitler that said, “I regard Christianity as the most fatal, seductive lie that ever existed.” And Hitler believed or at least he stressed “good morals” like don’t drink and family ties in his public life. He strained out a knat and swallowed a camel. Were there is a will there is a way. Evolution doesn’t make people do things, but it does give people a license to do things that they normally wouldn’t do because of conscience. Religion can do the same thing. Nobody’s theology or theory about life is 100% correct unless they are the One True God. I believe there is much that can be found out and discovered about this life we live and the universe in which we reside, but our knowledge is still limited and correct knowledge doesn’t always equal correct application. I’m reminded of a quote from the Bible that states, “knowledge puffs up, love builds up.” Knowledge in and of itself can and does lead to many becoming full of themselves. So full in fact that they can’t see things outside of their little box, because their eyes are swollen shuts. Everyone is prone to this and I believe guilty of this. We are all dogmatic about the uncertain in many cases based on what we believe to be certain. So if there is something that comes to light and upsets our little box, it is up to us to personally see if what we believe stands up under honest critique and is back-up by evidence. Just because something is popular doesn’t make it right or true. Truth is like that. It is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways, going in or coming out, up or down.

    I do agree with you on religion though. It has caused much bloodshed, just like any man made teaching. Including evolution. Religion is mans attempt to reach God through some prescribed format or rituals and if that means killing others to appease God’s wrath, then so be it. But to me they don’t bring the life that they promise. There is however one so called “religion” that claims to be penned by human hands, but whose true author is God. It speaks of a God that loves man so much that, that he would come down as one of us, be born like one of us, live among us, talk and walk with us and this God would kill himself to appease His own wrath, so that man could go free and be with Him forever. That sounds like a relationship more than a religion. A love story more than a bunch of does and don’t that are disconnected from a love relationship. This appeals to me. Though many can claim to be involved in this relationship, their actions point to a religion. And rather than drawing people, they seem to hurt people in the name of God and for all the wrong reasons.
    The truth is, what the truth is. But without love the truth just puffs you up. You know what I mean?

  • Mikael

    on August 31, 2008 at 4:20 am

    No one has ever seen a star form, (I’ve heard that Boyles gas laws will drive the dust away from forming a star or planet, but we have seen a star die. Shouldn’t there be more dead stars out there if the universe is as old as evolution says it is?

    First of all there are a lot of dead stars, such as nebula’s. also, a star that is dead explode, i dosent just stop burning and even if it did, we wouldent find it, its the light it admits or the effects it has on things that we notice. Also we live in the milky way, stars in other galaxies are so far away that it is for the moment not possible to see one in particular. And the stars in out galaxy is about as old as our sun.

    Organic evolution. Noone is saying that it is random, or fast, we dont have a complete theory yet.

    No there is not one piece of evidence it all piles up dosent it. And not beyond a shadow of a doubt, but do you exist, do i exist, none of these can be proven to the 100%. Because what if its a dream, its silly i know but its the same kind of reasoning, and if god do things in our world, it can be put in a test tube and it has, and every time it turned out bogus.

    I can not answer the question about the geological column, call someone with the proper training. But when people try to fake findings there always discovered. Pilkdown man for ex. There are more ways to find age, and its not really the problem. We have findings that are so recent that it still predict the bible. For once, defend your religion, give one piece of evidence. You never do. Even if every science everywhere. Medicine was just a hoaks, why is god a better then nothing. It explains nothing at all. Nada. So even if you decide to dismiss all science religion is still not the winner in the debate. If it is. Well then anything can be. Hey i created the world is a s good. Or the snails did. Still as good as religion. Do you understand?

    Termites have these little critters…
    Well that could be a good project. I think they didnt need each other in the beginning. The Critters could have been in another animal or it could have been whatever. I am not a critter expert. But my answer is that they most probably didnt need each other in the beginning so it dosent matter witch was first. I think that the critters were in the termites before the termites had this problem, the termites might envolved this porblem because the critters did the job. You see my point?

    bacterial flagellum mota, i dont know, it evolved. It seems weird. But the “Greasing of the wheel” For a lack or a better term could have started with a axel or not started with but in an earlier stage.

    Hitler. Expressed himself as a christian many times, as did he a atheist. It still dosent mean that he did what he did for atheism or evolution. In the bible and holy texts is says, to kill people it dosent in science. That is a BIG diffrence.

    God would kill himself to appease His own wrath, so that man could go free and be with Him forever.
    I have to laugh, this is really weird and way moronic, if i got mad and said this. I would be in a mental home. This sounds so scary that i cant even imagine how you can teach this to children. Its is wow. He is so mad that he needs to kill someone for the adam and eve thing. And he decides that someone has to die, if he is god he can just forgive, but no. As i said, this is mental.

    The sum of this is.
    1 you have never shown evidence of god. And evidence that (If you find it) that evolution is wrong is not proof of god. Just proof that evolution isnt correct. explain yourself.

    2. The religions is just as bad as saying it all popped up one day. In fact that it all popped up is a better explenation for if were complicated, then how complecated isnt god?

    3 even if you say that religion is right. Which religion? There are many and all of them gets mad when you believe in the wrong one. And maybe its none of the religions we have today. Perhaps its one that noone knows, like say. That i am god, or the tree in my garden. Alfie Atkins, my cat etc.

    Give me one proof of god, dosent even have to be a proof, give me a theory that works about how god came to be.
    You demand the world but can give but nothing.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on September 1, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Hey Mikael,
    Good to hear from you.

    I think you misunderstand my point Mikael. The point is that the evolutionary theory isn’t as trump tight as it’s followers profess. The holes are enormous from my view and many others. The reason I bring up the geologic column is that, it appears to be the foundation upon which much of evolutionary theory is built. And I see cracks in this foundation. I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination in any field of science or religion. All I offer is my humble opinion about what I see. My intent isn’t to get a rise out of you or to make you feel hostile towards me, it is simply to take a closer look at what we assume to be true. Whether you know it or not you help me look beyond my little box. Does my little box of belief which I live in, line up with what is going on around me? If there is evidence that you would have me to look at, I would only ask that you do the same for me.

    Religion & Evolutionary theory are the same, in that they are both teachings that influence mankind. These teachings shape how we all view the world. You ask me to give you evidence or proof that an intelligent being, greater than ourselves created this universe or caused it to come into being.
    Here is what I believe and my defense of my beliefs. I believe that God isn’t self-caused, because it is impossible to cause one’s own being, because a cause is before its effect, and one can’t be prior to oneself. (If God’s being or existence is the “effect” of the cause, then the “effect” cannot cause the cause. This is a contradictory statement. Just like the thinking behind the geologic column and index fossils. “fossils date the rock layers, but the rock layers date the fossils”.)

    I believe Stephen Hawking said, ‘that as long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be’. But there are 3 lines of evidence that indicate and point to one conclusion, that the universe had a beginning. 1. The motions of the galaxies. 2.The laws of thermodynamics. 3. The life story of the stars

    I believe that God is uncaused and has always existed, unlike the universe we live in, which must have had a cause, because it had a beginning. That cause I believe is God. The principle of causality states that every event has a cause, or that every thing that begins has a cause. The 2nd law of thermodynamics affirms & states that in a closed, isolated system, such as our universe, that the universe is running out of usable energy, meaning that heat energy isn’t transferred from cold bodies to hot bodies, energy flows in only 1 direction, downward towards its loss. It also states that things left to themselves, without outside intelligent intervention, tend towards disorder. This points to a highly ordered beginning. (The Theory of Evolutions appears to violate this law). Since the universe has not reached a state of total disorder, this process has not been going on forever, so the universe cannot be eternal. Evidence reveals the expansion of the galaxies in our universe and not simply a holding pattern, maintaining its movement from everlasting to everlasting. It is expanding, in fact they appear to be moving outward from a central point of origin and that all things were expanding faster in the past then they are now. Like you said, as we look out at the stars we are looking into the past and not as they are now, but as they were when the light was given off many years ago. In fact there are no known natural laws that can explain this eruption that we observe from that no space, no time, and no matter origin. The Big Bang even states that their was nothing, but it exploded and the universe came into being. It came into being with laws of physics and rules that govern it. Laws and rules equal information and information points to intelligence. An intelligence that must exist outside of the confines of the rules of the universe.
    Don’t all designs imply a designer? If we see a complex design, we know by past experience that it came from the mind of a designer. Can existence go against & violate the rules and laws that it abides by and make life possible? Don’t buildings imply architects and drawings imply artists, even coded messages imply an intelligent sender. The greater the design, the greater the designer. A thousand monkeys sitting at typewriters for millions of years would never produce Hamlet by accident. Shakespeare did it on the first try. The more complex the design (meaning specified complexity), the greater the intelligence required to produce it. This kind of complexity is never produced by purely natural laws. It is always produced by an intelligent designer.
    Carl Sagan said, “The brain is a very big place in a very small space.” “The neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy, the circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans.” If this is true then why doesn’t the human brain need an intelligent Creator/designer, but the simplest computer does?

    Robert Jastrow says this in his book, God and the Astronomers, ” There is a kind of religion in science. It is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the universe….Every effect must have its cause: There is no first cause….This religious faith of the scientists is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control.”

    The bible describes a Creator that calls Himself, “The Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end”. This creator claims to dwell outside of the universe He created. He claims to actively be involved with His creation. Not because He has to, but because He wants to.

    You said,
    bacterial flagellum mota, i dont know, it evolved. It seems weird. But the “Greasing of the wheel” For a lack or a better term could have started with a axel or not started with but in an earlier stage

    Come on, you can say it. You can say you don’t know? I’ve said it all too many times in my life. You use the word evolve like I use the word create. I believe in an intelligent creator that is unseen, but has established laws to govern his creation. You seem to believe in a impersonal, mechanism that governs and orders life, without any intelligence. But there is no such thing as design without a creator. I know you know about irreducible complexity. All the parts need to create a functioning flagellum need to be in place from the jump and many of the parts don’t even exist in other bacteria. So evolution would have to come up with them all at the same time, having DNA give the right instructions to produce each part in the right order, or else it fails and survival of the fittest “natural selection” kills that bacteria and removes the needed information. It doesn’t add it.

    All this information is out there in different books. There is far more out there than I could ever hope to completely understand and grasp, but I pass it along to you. I have used the information from a book on Apologetics by Norman Geisler, called the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics to answer your questions. Do with it what you will.

    Like I said this isn’t about getting angry, but it is about thinking outside our box.

    You don’t have to answer these questions if you don’t want to, so here they are.

    Have you ever had a religious experience? Did it end up turning out bad for you? Was it a close relative that possibly ruined it for you? Or was it something else altogether?

    Hallah Back if you get a chance.
    Peace

  • skahahoo

    on September 1, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Hey Kirk D. aka “Spartacus” and Mikael! (Warning: This is very, very, very loooooooong. lol.)

    I’ve really been enjoying the back and forth going on between the two of you. Some really great points brought up by both of you! 🙂 I hope neither of you mind if I throw my hat into the ring? I’m relatively new to this blog (been visiting for maybe a month maybe?), so I’m not sure if you already know this about me from my previous posts…but my way of thinking is heavily influenced by science. I was brought up as a Christian, but am currently agnostic. And although I am certainly no authority when it comes to many of the topics the two of you have been discussing, I do very much enjoy science, and my educational background reflects that. So much of what I’m about to say is with respect to the science points brought up, as I know much, much less about the religious and spiritual issues.

    Kirk D., you said that religion and evolutionary theory are teachings that shape how we view the world. I agree with that for the most part, except that I would be more general about it and say religion and science, rather than religion and evolutionary theory.

    To me, religion and science are different frameworks that we use to better understand and relate to the world around us and within us. I don’t know if this is a human tendency or an American tendency, but oftentimes, when there are different approaches with similar goals, inevitably the question arises, “Which is better???” lol. (Don’t worry…I’m American, so it’s okay for me to make fun of us. 😉 ) I don’t know enough about religion to comfortably make that sort of judgment, but frankly, I’m not sure that such a judgment is even necessary. I think religion and science are simply different – different methods of acquiring knowledge, different value systems.

    I understand where Mikael is coming from when he draws the distinction between the influence religion has had on human behavior vs. that of science. I agree, Kirk D., that people have used both to justify destructive purposes. I think what Mikael was saying is that religion, in this case Christianity, has a central text that it refers to for guidance, and (from my limited understanding) that in this text, there are verses which legitimize certain behaviors that in today’s society would be deemed archaic, if not inhumane. On the other hand, science has no such central text, only fundamental guiding principles – namely, that knowledge should be acquired via the scientific method, and that everything is provisional. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that science doesn’t attempt to “prove” anything – it only tries to support or invalidate working hypotheses and theories. There are some theories, however, that have so much observational evidence supporting it, have predicted things so well, and have withstood the test of time for so long, that they are regarded as virtual fact. But the beauty of it is that it’s entirely possible that somewhere down the line, we could very well discover something that doesn’t quite fit in with a current theory, and so a whole new bag of questions will open up and the theory will have to be modified or discarded.

    Speaking of theories, Kirk D., you mentioned that there were many gaps in evolutionary theory, and listed all the different types of evolution (cosmic, organic, etc.). I agree that with the exception of organic evolution, there are many gaps, but on this point I wanted to say a couple things. One, I can only speak for my own education, but every time I was taught the “theory of evolution,” it was referring specifically to micro- and macroevolution – i.e., the theory that is heavily based on Charles Darwin’s work. The other types of evolution weren’t included (we learned about them, but not under the “theory of evolution”), so I’m hesitant to say that evolutionary theory encompasses all of those things you mentioned. Two, the gaps in macroevolution. I know that evolution is an exciting field, with healthy debate within the community about specific mechanisms and such, but there is overwhelming agreement within the scientific community that both micro- and macroevolution do indeed occur. I think it’s important to keep an open mind though, so when people argue that macroevolution is flimsy at best because there are so many gaps, I’d first like to know what, exactly, people mean by “gaps,” and what, in their opinion, it would take to fill these gaps. The term “macroevolution,” as it is taught today, refers to changes that occur in populations at or above the species level (whereas “microevolution” refers to changes below, or within, the species level). By this definition, anytime one species splits into two species, or changes enough over time to turn into another species, macroevolution has occurred. Speciation has been observed many times, both in the lab and in the wild, primarily with organisms such as plants and insects since they are the easiest to observe under controlled conditions, but also with mammals such as mice. There are also a number of transitional fossils, including bird-reptile, reptile-mammal, legged whales, etc. And then there’s the commonality among living things, such as our biochemistry, cellular mechanisms, genetic code, etc., which support macroevolution’s idea of descent with modification from a common ancestor. Keep in mind that all of this evidence has been accumulated over what is, in my opinion, a relatively short time in the grand scheme of human history, considering that Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859, which is only a century and a half ago.

    I wish I knew more about the geologic column to shed light on the issue, but with today’s technology, isn’t that a moot point? Dating fossils and such solely on the basis of rock layers seems relatively imprecise given all the fancy gadgets researchers have access to nowadays. Kirk D…I think you were wondering about this because you said Darwin based his ideas on Lyell’s work? I don’t know about the geologic columns, but my understanding is that Lyell concluded that many earth formations were the product of gradual changes acting over a long period of time, supporting the view that the earth was very old. If this were true, then Lyell’s ideas supported Darwin’s in that Darwin was trying to explain, among other things, how the differences he saw between species could have arisen. If it were possible for huge formations such as mountains and canyons to be formed gradually over a long time, then perhaps the same could be true for organisms. I feel like that was how Lyell influenced Darwin. Whether the rock layers date the fossils or the fossils date the rock layers…I don’t think this would really change anything in terms of how Darwin formulated his ideas since they were based mostly on his natural observations, not on the dates of rock layers. For example, Darwin observed that even within the same species, there was variation among individuals. He also observed that more often than not, there weren’t enough resources in the environment to support all of the individuals. Thus, he concluded that the scarcity of resources would lead to competition among individuals, and those individuals with the most beneficial variations would be most likely to survive and reproduce. He didn’t need dates to come to this conclusion, which is one of the foundations of evolutionary theory. But I haven’t made an in-depth study of the relationship between Darwin and Lyell, so maybe there’s more to it than that, and I’m just unaware. I also don’t think that current evolutionary theory is fundamentally based on the dates of the rock layers vs. fossils. The conceptual framework is based on Darwin’s observations and conclusions, and the theory is highly regarded by scientists because of the evidence that has been collected since that time.

    Another great topic you guys brought up was irreducible complexity. I think it is only natural to look at these wonderfully complex and elegant structures, such as the flagellum and the eye, and be awestruck at how intricately formed and perfectly suited they are to their function. How is it possible that things like these could have been gradually formed from random accidents? I think part of the confusion is that to us, it appears the final structure we see is the only way it can be. If it’s incomplete or underdeveloped, what good is it? I don’t know much about the flagellum, but I do have an example related to flying insects. Mimi Koehl and Joel Kingsolver were wondering about insect wings. Wings are complicated, right? And they wouldn’t have sprouted overnight. So they hypothesized that before insects had full wings, they only had partial wings. But they wondered, “What possible benefit would partial wings confer if they can’t be used to fly?” Two ideas they had were that the “proto wings” could be used as gliders and as solar collectors (collect heat from the sun to warm their bodies). The results from their experiments are fascinating. It turns out that when the proto wings are too short, they aren’t much use for gliding, but they’re very effective at collecting heat. However, as the proto wings got longer, they became less effective at collecting heat. But at just the length when the proto wings were no good at collecting heat, they were good for gliding. The beauty of their experiments was that they showed how the functions of structures aren’t static. One of the central tenets of evolution is that things don’t develop purposefully to meet a need. We see winged insects, and we think, “Oh, insects have wings because they need to fly.” But the reality is, insects don’t need to fly, they need to survive, and they will use whatever tools they have at their disposal to achieve that goal. So perhaps a “proto flagellum” also conferred some type of benefit unrelated to motion. Who knows? That’s why science is so creative and fun! You have to sit and wonder about these things. 🙂

    As for Ernest Haeckel and his embryology drawings…it is widely acknowledged, at least by scientists, that Haeckel’s drawings were faked. Again, I can only speak from my experience, but just as we learned about Lamark’s theories of acquired characteristics and use and disuse and why they were discredited, we also learned about Haeckel’s theory of “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” and why it was discredited. It should be clear though exactly what it was that Haeckel was saying and what he was trying to do with his faked drawings. Haeckel believed that our evolutionary history was recorded in our embryological development. In other words, he believed that human embryos would go through a fish stage, then a reptile stage, etc. This idea has been discredited, and is only taught in class as a context for Darwinian theory, and also, I think, to show the value of science as an adaptive and ever-changing field. Also, although embryos of different species at the earliest stages do not look as alike as Haeckel portrayed them to be, it is difficult to argue that the embryos look much more alike than do the adults that develop from them later on. In other words, adult human beings look much, much different from adult alligators, but the extent of this difference isn’t reflected in the respective embryos. In fact, there is a period of embryological development in which different vertebrate species exhibit many of the same characteristics, such as a notochord, pharyngeal arches, a tail, among others. So there is something to embryology that indicates some type of commonality among different species.

    Wow…this is really long, so I should stop. lol. I would like to say though that, personally, I’m not sure if it is possible to “prove” the existence of God, or rather, to gather evidence in support of His existence that would meet the requirements of science. To me, it’s a conundrum. Science, as it is currently structured, is only equipped to observe and explain natural phenomena. God, as He is often portrayed, is a supernatural being. I suppose that if a convincing “proof” of His existence would ever come to be, it would have to be something that couldn’t be addressed by science…that is, it would have to be supernatural. Otherwise, if God makes His existence known through natural means, then science would simply see nature at work. God wouldn’t ever have to come into the picture. Then, I suppose you could argue, “Well, why doesn’t God prove He exists through supernatural means?” I wonder though, would He do that? Let’s say He created this entire universe, with all of its natural laws, which science is currently trying to uncover. By doing something supernatural, wouldn’t God have to violate these natural laws? As you mentioned Kirk D., the laws of thermodynamics, or any of the myriad of laws found in nature. Something like that would have grave consequences in that I can’t see how you can, for example, have heat flow from cold to hot and not upset the balance of nature. Which is why to me, if God makes Himself known to us, if the beauty of our natural world isn’t enough to convince us, then it would have to be the type of personal relationship that many on this blog have spoken of. But of course, these personal relationships are not really suited to scientific study. These questions sure are fun to think about and discuss though huh?

    Sorry for the novel. lol. 😉

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on September 2, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    skahahoo!!!
    What up mang (this is ebonics for man – an endearing term used among friends) lol?
    Glad you could join us in the festive discussion.
    I am super busy right now but I promise to read your post and respond ASAP.

    Once again, welcome!

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on September 3, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Hey skahahoo,
    Sorry about the delay. I hope all is well wit’ cha.
    I really enjoyed your post. So here is my partial response.

    I do agree with you about generalizing but to me science isn’t so much the issue as the interpretation and application of the scientific observations. Evolutionary theory at least as I understand it as being taught is more fact than theory in the classroom. It should be taught as interpretation of the observation and not the observation itself. Hopefully this will better explain my thinking on Religion & Evolutionary Theory as being similar. Both attempt to explain how we got here (meaning our present day) through viewing our surroundings through a “colored” lense. That lense, whether it be religion or evolutionary theory are both man’s attempt to understand and interpret the things we observe in life/nature and make sense of it all. My point is this. Man is fallible (by fallible I mean subject to error & correction), therefore his understanding and interpretation are fallible as well (I do include myself in the fallible category). Religion is man’s fallible attempt to reach the infallible God, and not the infallible God’s attempt to reach fallible man. Evolutionary Theory is man’s fallible attempt to interpret life/nature without God, rather than life/nature being allowed to speak infallibly for itself about God.
    Just so you know, I believe in the God of the Bible (a God that continues to initiate relationship with mankind, through His Son Jesus the Christ, even though man individually and corporately as a whole has attempted to cut all ties with Him) and I believe that nature supports the bible, since both are revelations of & from God and both should align with each other (meaning no conflict) if this is true. The conflict seems to arise from man’s interpretation and understanding of them both. So to me the issue isn’t the repeated observations that are made per say, as much as it is the interpretation of those observations, and then the application of those interpretations.

    I will continue to answer in another post.
    Peace

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on September 6, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Finally!!!
    Hey fellas, I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long. How was your Labor Day & weekend? Great I hope!
    Well here we go. I hope I can answer your questions to my question well enough…

    You said,
    “Speciation has been observed many times, both in the lab and in the wild, primarily with organisms such as plants and insects since they are the easiest to observe under controlled conditions, but also with mammals such as mice. There are also a number of transitional fossils, including bird-reptile, reptile-mammal, legged whales, etc. And then there’s the commonality among living things, such as our biochemistry, cellular mechanisms, genetic code, etc., which support macroevolution’s idea of descent with modification from a common ancestor. Keep in mind that all of this evidence has been accumulated over what is, in my opinion, a relatively short time in the grand scheme of human history, considering that Darwin’s Origin of Species was published in 1859, which is only a century and a half ago.”

    Please give me some examples of bird-reptile! (Though I thought the sequence was from reptile to bird.)
    Please give me some examples of reptile-mammal!
    What exactly do mean by a legged whale? What is its proper name?

    The gaps of which I speak & the main issue I & others have is evolutionary theory’s stance of Naturalism. This assumption of natural causes for all phenomena in the natural world & the disqualification of intelligent-supernatural causes, though it may admit the existence of a supernatural realm, it insists that the scientific method must permit only natural causes. This may be true of operation (empirical) science, it is not so of origin (speculative/forensic) science.
    Francis Crick, Noble Laureate, DNA research says, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but evolved.” Evolutionary theory attempts to lift up/glorify creation & dethrone the creator by removing even the notion that God (supernatural-intelligent-designer) could have created all that we see. To do so is to called “science”? I don’t know about that one.

    Uniformity states that the present is the key to the past. So lets work our way back. Lets keep going back to the beginning & slowly work our way forward. You can’t start mid-story & expect to get the whole story. We have to go back as far as we can & progress forward from there. The laws of physics that govern the universe from the beginning apply to all things that exist in it. That is why I started with cosmic evolution and the others and the laws that contradict these theories of naturalism.

    Now onto the gaps:
    Ernst Mayr (Professor Emeritus in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, hailed as the Darwin of the 20th century), What Evolution Is, 2001, pg. 14 says in his book, “Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document a gradual steady change from ancestral forms to descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series.” How can you call something a fact without facts?

    Mechanism for Change
    Single cell-Invertebrate, Invertebrate-Vertebrate (fish), Fish-Amphibian, Amphibian-Reptile, Retile -Bird/mammal, Ape-like creature-Human.
    What was/is the mechanism that could add information to the DNA of a life form in order to cause this proposed change?
    Microevolution – Genetic variability/natural selection, but not evolution. This has to do with small change within a species, based on the information that already exists in the DNA. This happens, it is empirical science.

    Macroevolution – One species changing into a new species – requires new information.
    Natural Selection doesn’t add new information it only works with what exists in the DNA of a species. Is this what evolutionists claim happens with mutation? But facts prove “created after their kind”.

    Jonathan Sarfati (Ph.D. Physical Chemistry), Creation Ex Nihilo, 1999 said, “As the biologist Heribert-Nilsson said, ‘The family tree of the horse is beautiful and continuous only in the textbooks’, and the famous paleontologist Niles Eldredge called the textbook picture ‘lamentable’ and ‘a classical case of paleontological museology’.”

    Alan Feduccia (World authority on birds), “Archaeopteryx: Early Bird Catches a Can of Worms”, Science, 1993, said, “Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it’s not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.”

    Barbara Stahl, Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution, said, “The imprint they left in the rock and sharp, make it evident that the feathers of Archaeopteryx (that) were already in Jurassic time (look) exactly like those of birds flying today.”

    Texas Tech researchers have reported discovering bird fossils in rocks dated much older than Archaeopteryx.

    As far as insects go, I hope you aren’t talking about Peppered moths because it is only a population shift. They are still Peppered Moths. (This is natural selection).
    As far as insects go, I hope you aren’t talking about the Fruit fly, because all they are is damaged goods, because no information was added, and none of the mutations were beneficial.

    Jonathan Wells, Ph.D. Molecular Biology, says, “But there is no evidence that DNA mutations can provide the sorts of variation needed for evolution…There is no evidence for beneficial mutations at the level of macroevolution, but there is also no evidence at the level of what is commonly regarded as microevolution.”
    So what does this boil down to? Gaps of evidence in the evolutionary theory.
    1. The intermediates required for evolution do not exist. 2. The fossil record supports creation model. 3.Natural selection and mutations are not mechanisms for evolutionary change.

    About the geologic column:
    If the dates can’t be verified without circular reasoning, then those dates are just opinion and not the facts of observable evidence.

    About irreducible complexity:
    Jed Macosko a molecular biologist, said, “How could something new like a bacterial flagellar motor and all the components that go with it, How could it develop out of a population of bacteria that don’t have that system, when each change according to Darwin’s theory has to provide some kind of advantage?”

    Paul Nelson said, “The logic of Natural Selection is very demanding. Unless the flagellum mechanism is completely assembled and actually works, Natural Selection simply cannot preserve it and it cannot be passed on to the next generation.”

    Jonathan Wells, a biologist, said, “The important thing to realize about Natural Selection is it selects only for a functional advantage. In most cases Natural Selection actually eliminates things. Things that have no function or that have a function that harm the organism. So if you had a bacterium with a tail that didn’t function as a flagellum, chances are Natural Selection would eliminate it. The only way you can select for a flagellum is if you have a flagellum that works. And that means you have to have all the pieces of the motor in place to begin with. So Natural Selection can’t get you the bacterial flagellum it can only work after the flagellum is there and operating.”

    In 1996 Michael Behe published the book, “Darwin’s Black Box”. In it he argued that Natural Selection, Darwin’s “designer substitute”, could not explain the origin of the bacterial flagellum or any other irreducibly complex biological system. Instead Behe concluded that the integrated complexity of these systems pointed to “Intelligent Design”.

    Some evolutionary scientist argued that it could have been possible for Natural Selection to preserve & borrow the parts from simpler molecular machines, in order to build the new bacterial flagellum. This theory is called Co-option. But the bacterial flagellum has 30 unique parts that aren’t available anywhere in any simpler or more complex molecular machine. So you are borrowing parts from nothing. But even if you had all of the parts, even more complex than the parts themselves is the assembly instructions. And this seems to never be addressed by those that oppose the irreducibly complex stance. Not only do you need the parts but you also need to follow a very precise sequence of assembly.

    Scott Minnich, a molecular biologist at University of Idaho, who has studied the bacterial flagellum for over 20 years, said, “You have got to make things at the right time. You have got to make the right number of components. You have got to assembly them in a sequential manner. You have got to be able to tell if you’ve assembled it properly so that you don’t waste energy building a structure that isn’t going to be functional.” (Like building a house. Foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, ducting, walls, etc…Until it is complete.
    Scott Minnich, said, “You build this structure from the inside-out…We know a lot about it. We still have a lot to learn, but we know a lot about it. And there is no explanation for how this complex molecular machine was ever produced by a Darwinian mechanism.”

    Paul Nelson said, “The Co-option argument doesn’t explain this. You see, in order to construct that flagellur mechanism or tens of thousands of other such mechanisms in the cell, you require other machines to regulate the assembly of these structures and those machines themselves require machines for their assembly.

    Jonathan Wells, said, “If even one of these pieces is missing or put in the wrong place your motor isn’t going to work. So this apparatus to assemble the flagellur motor is itself irreducibly complex. In fact what we have here is irreducible complexity all the way around.”

    Charles Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

    You said:
    “But the reality is, insects don’t need to fly, they need to survive, and they will use whatever tools they have at their disposal to achieve that goal. So perhaps a “proto flagellum” also conferred some type of benefit unrelated to motion. Who knows? That’s why science is so creative and fun! You have to sit and wonder about these things.”

    “In fact, there is a period of embryological development in which different vertebrate species exhibit many of the same characteristics, such as a notochord, pharyngeal arches, a tail, among others. So there is something to embryology that indicates some type of commonality among different species.”

    Science is fun. I have always been somewhat of a closet nerd. “So fresh and so clean” on the outside. But on the inside there lurks a raging nerd. lol!
    Anyways…the creativity must be based on the evidence and the facts and not speculation or inference alone.

    I don’t mean to sound so stiff in my comments, but I’m trying not to misquote anyone and present what I have learned in a pretty straight-forward manner.
    I really do enjoy this. I do believe I will have to make a least one more post in regards to last portion of your post. Well I hope to hear from both of you soon. Let me know what you think about what I have posted.

    One Love,
    Peace

  • skahahoo

    on September 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Hmm…I had this nice long post written up but it refuses to post. Sooo…maybe it will magically appear later. lol.

  • skahahoo

    on September 6, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Umm…to whoever is moderating the comments, I’m sorry if I wasn’t supposed to keep clicking “Submit Comment.” lol. Just the most recent version will do (it says “wocka wocka wocka” at the end. I’m sorry! It won’t happen again. 🙂

  • skahahoo

    on September 8, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Umm…so it doesn’t look like that comment of mine is going to post. Maybe it’s too long? lol. Or it might be because there are a few links in it. So I’m going to try again, but this time I’ll break it up into parts. I might have to get rid of the links. Hmm.

  • skahahoo

    on September 8, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Sooo…I think it’s because of the links. I had to get rid of them. Too bad. I did my best to include what I thought were the most relevant pieces of info from those links. Oh well.
    ***************************
    lol…whuddup mang to you as well Kirk D. My Labor Day was just eh…I was working. So no BBQ for me! 🙁

    Lots of great points, which I will respond to, but just like you, I too am busy with life. lol. But to tide you over in the meantime, about those fossils…
    Before I list the names of some of the transitional fossils, I just wanted to clarify what a transitional fossil is, as it is understood by scientists. But first, what a transitional fossil is NOT. A transitional fossil (or transitional form) isn’t a singular “missing link” that by itself perfectly bridges two different types of organisms. It also isn’t something that necessarily displays a perfect 50:50 ratio of traits between the two organism types, thus defying categorization. It also isn’t something that is necessarily “temporary” or short-lived…something that came into existence only briefly as an “in-between” species (implying that it wasn’t a species in and of itself) until the “transition” was complete from one organism to another. What, then, are transitional forms?
    Evolution is both fact and theory. The fact is that over time, life evolves…it changes. The theory has a few different aspects to it. One of those aspects is that this change we see is a progression of sorts…that newer organisms come from older ones, that newer structures are derived from pre-existing structures. If this is true…that the traits exhibited by living things came from their ancestors…then we should be able to find evidence of the development of certain traits over time. That is where transitional forms come in. Transitional forms are most useful in context…they have to be taken together, in a series of sorts, to fully appreciate evolution, because after all, evolution occurs over time, not in an instant. Which is why it’s not useful to talk about THE transitional form that “proves” this or that. Evolution is like a continuous film, and transitional forms are like still captures of that film. If you simply look at one still capture, that by itself isn’t so useful, but if you look at a series of stills, then you begin to see a story forming.
    So, that having been said, here is a sampling (there are more) of transitional fossils that show the progression from reptile to bird (this is taken directly from one of the links that wouldn’t post). I hesitate to even use the word “progression” because it implies a linear sort of development, which isn’t necessarily how it happened. Speciation is visualized as more of a branched tree. These transitional fossils are important because they show that it is indeed possible for the same organism to exhibit traits that cut across different categories. And you’re right – the progression is thought to be from reptile to bird.

    Archaeopteryx – (fossils from ~150 million years ago): Had asymmetrical feathers, meaning that they could probably sustain flight.
    Sinosauropteryx – (fossils from ~135-121 million years ago): Covered with proto-feathers and with short arms. Is probably not an ancestor of modern birds, but demonstrates the development of early feather-like structures among other dinosaurs.
    Protarchaeopteryx – (fossils from ~135-121 million years ago): Long, symmetrical feathers on arms and tail, but it probably could not fly. Evidence of non-flight utility of feathers, indication of so-called “transitional” function.
    Caudipteryx – (fossils from ~135-121 million years ago): A small, very fast runner covered with primitive (symmetrical and therefore flightless) feathers. Evidence of non-flight utility of feathers, indication of so-called “transitional” function.
    Hesperornis – (fossils from ~120-65 million years ago): A large flightless seabird showing structural similarity to modern flightless birds, but having a toothed jaw and dinosaur-like skull
    Ichthyornis – (fossils from ~99-65 million years ago): Early flying seabird that had a heavy toothed jaw.

    One of the justifications for the reptile to bird progression is the similarity in the number and arrangement of the bones in the forelimbs of reptiles to the bones in the wings of birds. Here is a list of other traits that early birds share with coelurosaurian dinosaurs (also taken directly from one of the links):
    1. Pubis (one of the three bones making up the vertebrate pelvis) shifted from an anterior to a more posterior orientation, and bearing a small distal “boot”.
    2. Elongated arms and forelimbs and clawed manus (hands).
    3. Large orbits (eye openings in the skull).
    4. Flexible wrist with a semi-lunate carpal (wrist bone).
    5. Hollow, thin-walled bones.
    6. 3-fingered opposable grasping manus (hand), 4-toed pes (foot); but supported by 3 main toes.
    7. Reduced, posteriorly stiffened tail.
    8. Elongated metatarsals (bones of the feet between the ankle and toes).
    9. S-shaped curved neck.
    10. Erect, digitgrade (ankle held well off the ground) stance with feet postitioned directly below the body.
    11. Similar eggshell microstructure.
    12. Teeth with a constriction between the root and the crown.
    13. Functional basis for wing power stroke present in arms and pectoral girdle (during motion, the arms were swung down and forward, then up and backwards, describing a “figure-eight” when viewed laterally).
    14. Expanded pneumatic sinuses in the skull.
    15. Five or more vertebrae incorporated into the sacrum (hip).
    16. Straplike scapula (shoulder blade).
    17. Clavicles (collarbone) fused to form a furcula (wishbone).
    18. Hingelike ankle joint, with movement mostly restricted to the fore-aft plane.
    19. Secondary bony palate (nostrils open posteriorly in throat).
    20. Possibly feathers… this awaits more study. Small, possibly feathered dinosaurs were recently found in China. It appears that many coelurosaurs were cloaked in an external fibrous covering that could be called “protofeathers.”
    If you do a Google Images search for “Archaeopteryx theropod,” the first hit should be a drawing of 3 skeletons, comparing a theropod (a type of dinosaur), Archaeopteryx, and a chicken.
    Archaeopteryx IS classified as a bird, as you noted. It is referred to as a transitional fossil because it also exhibits many dinosaur characteristics, such as teeth on the maxilla (jaw) bones, a long bony tail, and the absence of a bill/beak (these are just a few examples…there are many others). The fact that Archaeopteryx is classified as a bird is probably due to the number of bird characteristics outweighing the number of reptile characteristics. But the mere presence of reptile characteristics that fit into the chronological story of reptile to bird is what makes Archaeopteryx a transitional fossil. So, just because Archaeopteryx is classified as a bird doesn’t mean it’s not a transitional form. In the grand scheme of things, all living organisms are transitional forms because we are part of the story of life.

    It should be noted that classification schemes are man-made attempts to neatly categorize what is observed in nature, but nature is rarely so clearly delineated. So just because something is classified as a bird doesn’t mean it can’t also have traits that are normally exhibited by organisms in other kingdoms. In fact, it is because of the overlap and difficulty of classifying certain organisms (namely the protists such as amoeba, paramecia, etc.) under the 5 Kingdom classification system, that the 3 Domain system has been proposed. So nowadays biology classes learn both systems. I’m digressing right now, so let me stop. lol.
    The following is a sampling of transitional forms from reptile to mammal. This transition has an even better fossil record than the one for reptile to bird. The fossils in the list show transitional jaw-ear arrangements – reptiles have one bone in the middle ear and several bones in the lower jaw. Mammals have three bones in the middle ear and only one bone in the lower jaw.
    Sphenacodon (late Pennsylvanian to early Permian, about 270 million years ago (Mya)). Lower jaw is made of multiple bones; the jaw hinge is fully reptilian. No eardrum.
    Biarmosuchia (late Permian). One of the earliest therapsids. Jaw hinge is more mammalian. Upper jaw is fixed. Hindlimbs are more upright.
    Procynosuchus (latest Permian). A primitive cynodont, a group of mammal-like therapsids. Most of the lower jaw bones are grouped in a small complex near the jaw hinge.
    Thrinaxodon (early Triassic). A more advanced cynodont. An eardrum has developed in the lower jaw, allowing it to hear airborne sound. Its quadrate and articular jaw bones could vibrate freely, allowing them to function for sound transmission while still functioning as jaw bones. All four legs are fully upright.
    Probainognathus (mid-Triassic, about 235 Mya). It has two jaw joints: mammalian and reptilian (White 2002a).
    Diarthrognathus (early Jurassic, 209 Mya). An advanced cynodont. It still has a double jaw joint, but the reptilian joint functions almost entirely for hearing.
    Morganucodon (early Jurassic, about 220 Mya). It still has a remnant of the reptilian jaw joint (Kermack et al. 1981).
    Hadrocodium (early Jurassic). Its middle ear bones have moved from the jaw to the cranium
    The “legged-whale” or the “walking whale” that is often referred to is called Ambulocetans natans. You can Google it for more info. Again, it’s misleading to think that this is THE ONE transitional form that demonstrates the change from walking mammals to whales. So here’s a sampling of the transitional fossils included in this sequence (in roughly chronological order): Sinonyx, Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, Rodhocetus, Basilosaurus, and Dorudo.
    You quoted Ernst Mayr (“Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document a gradual steady change from ancestral forms to descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series.”), and then asked, “How can you call something a fact without facts?” I think there’s some confusion here as to what is considered “fact” when it comes to evolution. The fact is that evolution itself (which is change over time) does indeed occur. Populations change. New species arise. This occurs in nature. What is not fact and is instead theory is the explanation of HOW this evolution occurs. What are the proposed mechanisms? So when Mayr refers to “the fact of evolution,” he is referring to the fact that change occurs over time. The gaps he is referring to do not contradict this fact. What it DOES contradict is the proposed Darwinian mechanism for how that change occurs. When Mayr made that statement, he was referring to the sudden changes evidenced in the fossil record, as opposed to the gradual changes predicted by a Darwinian mechanism. So what, then, do scientists do? They come up with alternative mechanisms. Darwinian mechanisms are not the entirety of evolutionary theory. They are the foundation, but there have been many other new ideas thrown into the pot since then. For example, in trying to explain the sudden changes in the fossil record, Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould built upon the work of none other than Ernst Mayr to propose the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which states that most organisms undergo very little change for most of its history, and that when they do change, this change occurs rapidly (it’s much more detailed than that, but that’s the gist of it). Just because new evidence arises that doesn’t fit in with a theory doesn’t mean the entire theory is now junk. It only means that people have to come up with new ideas because the theory doesn’t explain as much as previously thought. This has happened consistently throughout science’s history. For example, Newtonian mechanics explained a lot of physical behavior very well for a very long time. Then people started observing atoms and subatomic particles, and it turned out that Newtonian mechanics didn’t work so well in describing the behavior of very small things. Does that mean that Newtonian mechanics should be thrown out? Not at all. It just means adjustments have to be made, and thus quantum mechanics was born.
    As for the peppered moth and fruit flies – I’m assuming you’re presenting these in response to my bit about insect wings, but I’m not sure how your examples refute the example I gave. I gave the insect example in response to the claim of irreducible complexity (not to population shifts or speciation), to show that functions can change depending on the conditions so that partially developed structures can still be useful. That experiment used model insects, not real ones, because (I’m assuming) we don’t yet know how to manipulate the genome of any insect so that the progeny have wings of a predictable length. But that doesn’t really matter to the point of the experiment, which was to see if partially developed wings had any usefulness. And based on the data they collected, partially developed wings WERE useful – really short “proto wings” could collect heat from the sun and longer “proto wings” could be used to glide. So just because “proto wings” can’t be used to fly doesn’t mean they served no other function. The same is true of the bacterial flagellum. Thanks to you ( 🙂 ), I did some research on what that was all about. I’m assuming that the bacterial flagellum you’re referring to is the one that has been studied the most – from the species E. coli and S. typhimurium (there are actually at least 2 major types of flagella, which are hypothesized to have evolved differently, but that’s another story). Also, I’m not sure if the 30 flagellum proteins you’re referring to include ALL of the proteins that make up the flagellum, or just the proteins that are part of the “irreducible core,” since it has been demonstrated that you can delete certain proteins in the flagellum complex and still get a flagellum that can be used for motion. But let’s focus on simply the proteins without which a motile flagellum wouldn’t exist. A “proto flagellum” may not have been of much use as a structure for motility, but it could have been useful in other ways, depending on which parts were in place. Apparently, many of the proteins that make up the flagellum as it’s currently observed have homologues in systems that currently secrete proteins, meaning that it’s possible that the flagellum complex and the secretion complex both came from some “common ancestor,” at least in terms of the proteins they’re made of. You mentioned that the co-option idea doesn’t explain things because the parts are unique. I’m assuming you mean that the proteins currently found in flagella are not exactly the same as proteins found elsewhere. Fair enough. But that’s only what we see now in the lab. Bacteria are among the oldest organisms on earth – about 3.5 billion years old. If the proteins from flagella and secretory systems did have a common ancestor, then I think it’s reasonable to say that after billions of years, the proteins as we observe them now are not exactly the same as they were before. Does that mean the flagellum is irreducibly complex? Does that mean that the flagellum could not have evolved? In terms of motion, it is true…the flagellum as it is currently observed is more or less irreducibly complex. If you remove any of the key parts, the flagellum will not function as a fully capable “motor” (I say more or less because apparently, it still kind of works if you remove the filament). However, that same flagellum construct CAN still function as a secretory structure, even if you remove one of the key parts. Another example…a small group of proteins that make up the flagellum is independently used (i.e., without the rest of the flagellum parts) by many bacteria to inject poison into other organisms. Again, there is this idea that the function depends on the circumstance, and partial structures can still confer some type of benefit. Is this speculation? Sure it is. Is it testable? Absolutely. The fact that the flagellum complex can secrete proteins has been demonstrated in the lab. To test the idea of the evolutionary pathway, we need to reach a point at which we can manipulate and switch out proteins to see what happens. Maybe one day in the near future, we can engineer bacteria so that we can observe what happens with these changes.
    You also quoted Michael Behe, which brings to mind a mousetrap analogy he made to illustrate his idea of irreducible complexity. Behe argued that a mousetrap is irreducibly complex because if you remove any of the parts, then it won’t be able to catch mice. Although really, it has been demonstrated that you can indeed still catch mice by removing one or two of the parts. But, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that a mousetrap is irreducibly complex in its ability to catch mice. The question is – does this mean that without one of the parts, a mousetrap is completely useless? Well, as a mousetrap, let’s give Behe the benefit of the doubt and say that it IS useless. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless. Depending on which parts you do have, you can use a partial mousetrap for a variety of functions, such as a clip, a paperweight, a toothpick, etc. As long as the pieces confer some type of advantage, they are likely to stick around, and at least from an evolutionary perspective, these pieces can serve different functions depending on the environment and whether or not they “partner up.” In other words, just because a structure as it is currently observed is irreducibly complex for the particular function it serves today doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have evolved by serving different functions along the way. So, to point out that a particular structure is irreducibly complex for a particular function doesn’t weaken evolutionary theory because evolutionary theory never claims that the only way a structure can come to be is for all of the parts to simultaneously arise and be assembled correctly. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find an evolutionary biologist who seriously accepts this conceptualization of structure and function because it focuses only on the present and excludes the history of that structure and its context.
    You’re right that it’s not just the parts, but also the sequence of things that matter. There is so much research going on right now that is trying to unravel the sequence of protein assembly and the signaling and communication that goes on with cellular activity, particularly because of the medical benefits that would arise from that. So people are working on it. 🙂 There are already a lot of pathways that have been pretty well sketched out, but there is still a long way to go. Now, does the fact that a pathway exists necessarily mean that it was designed by an intelligent being? That’s an excellent question, and one I will address later in a future post. 🙂
    When I have more time, I’ll respond to the other parts of your post, particularly the gaps you specified, the emphasis on naturalism, the monkeys/typewriter/Hamlet example, the pathway designed by an intelligent being question, and the mechanisms of change. That’s a lot. lol. Will probably require more than one post. So to be continued!

    Isn’t this fun? 😀

  • Robbie

    on September 12, 2008 at 8:31 am

    I’m an atheist; I’ve all ways have been. I was raised to believe by my mum who is catholic. But I have always asked questions about myself, about where I came from, why am I here. My mum always tried to answer the questions but they always brought more questions. In the end I was told to drop the subject, even to the point of talking to my sister about it. Over time I have learnt something. Every religious text ever written has one and only one source every good or bad deed has ever had one origin “That is Man”. God is Mans way to absolve himself of crimes he commits for example god/devil made me do it, I did it for my God. Man has always questioned and doubted it self asked why am I here, what happened when I die. So Man created God to explain these questions but later other men used the name of God to control men tell them what to think what not to do. But it’s always Men/Man. During the plague that swept Europe Rich/poor turned to the church “God” to save them. Only to find that the church “holy men/women of God” dying with them. This one point in history is the time when man really starts to look at himself and the world says “WHY?” which brought about the renaissance, But Man “The Church” tried to stop this by calling men and women Heretic and spreading Heresy. You cannot question the word of God. But remember the word of God is the word of Man we wrote those words. So the Church either kills these people or like Galileo Galilei but them under church House arrest.
    Man has now asked questions about himself with the tool science to Answer these questions we have found so many that they go against the all-religious Text. That the Men of Religion have reinterpreted their own text to coincide with the Discoveries. Why because Man wrote these books. Mankind is a wonderful species we have done/created so many wonderful and beautiful things, art, music, science, medicine, but also many horrible things, murder, genocide, rape, war and place them At the Feet of God. Man is a child in the Dark afraid to take responsibility for he’s actions or the consequences.
    A friend of mine said to me for an atheist I am the most moral person he had met. I found the comment insulting. That only people with religious background to be moral.
    I know what’s right and wrong, good or evil. I solve my own problems and take responsibility for my actions. The most immoral in the world today are the so called
    Religious People they commit so much crime in the name God And Allah it makes me sick and want to cry out in frustration at this world, that I and others like myself have to put up with it. If the world were full of atheist the world would be a better place for everyone.

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on September 22, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Hey Skahahoo,
    Wuz up mang!
    Sorry to hear about your labor day being just another work day, you should treat yourself to some Lucille’s BBQ to make up for it. lol

    Forgive me for not getting back to you so late. I have been beyond busy in trying to finish up this Music Album. Long days and short nights have been my lot for the past few weeks, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I promise to comment within the next few days.
    I hope all is well you and yours!
    Peace

  • Kirk D. aka "Spartacus"

    on September 24, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Here is the long awaited post to the last portion of your post #222.
    Hope you enjoy it. This one is short compared to our previous posts. lol

    You said, “I would like to say though that, personally, I’m not sure if it is possible to “prove” the existence of God, or rather, to gather evidence in support of His existence that would meet the requirements of science. To me, it’s a conundrum. Science, as it is currently structured, is only equipped to observe and explain natural phenomena. God, as He is often portrayed, is a supernatural being. I suppose that if a convincing “proof” of His existence would ever come to be, it would have to be something that couldn’t be addressed by science…that is, it would have to be supernatural.”

    I would like to think of this statement and handle it as a “cold case”. Not that I believe that God is dead or completely disengaged from his creation, but I believe that there are clues within nature and all creation that point directly to Him. Forensic evidence, like finger prints, shoe prints, predictable circumstances (laws of physics), the nature of an effect which has been caused can totally leave clues as to what caused it. For example, the Law of Cause and Effect, so everything in nature that has a beginning has a cause. The universe had a beginning, thus the universe had a cause. The laws of Thermodynamics show that the universe couldn’t have had a purely natural cause, so I and others believe in a supernatural & intelligent cause. The Bible supports this or should I say science supports the bible. We have a word for this, its called a miracle. It goes beyond words and our ability to explain, but it still happened.

    You said, “Otherwise, if God makes His existence known through natural means, then science would simply see nature at work. God wouldn’t ever have to come into the picture. Then, I suppose you could argue, “Well, why doesn’t God prove He exists through supernatural means?” I wonder though, would He do that? Let’s say He created this entire universe, with all of its natural laws, which science is currently trying to uncover. By doing something supernatural, wouldn’t God have to violate these natural laws? As you mentioned Kirk D., the laws of thermodynamics, or any of the myriad of laws found in nature. Something like that would have grave consequences in that I can’t see how you can, for example, have heat flow from cold to hot and not upset the balance of nature. Which is why to me, if God makes Himself known to us, if the beauty of our natural world isn’t enough to convince us, then it would have to be the type of personal relationship that many on this blog have spoken of. But of course, these personal relationships are not really suited to scientific study. These questions sure are fun to think about and discuss though huh?”

    You would be correct my friend if God were limited to natural laws and confined to the universe. But the bible speaks of a God that exists outside of time, space, matter, and energy and isn’t bound to the dimensions that we are bound to and yet he is intimately involved with it. So he could in fact interact with his creation in ways that don’t violate the laws, but supersedes them. The cause of an effect must be greater than the effect it caused. Chance and time don’t have the ability to produce & respond to information but intelligence does. The bible says that God created man after His image and after His own likeness. God created man to be a reflection of God or a representative of God in His creation. So I can look at man get a glimpse of what God is like, even though man has fallen in sin or missing the mark has marred that image. So God has chosen to reveal Himself to man through nature, through the Bible, and through His Son, Jesus Christ (A Miracle) and he confirms that it is true through telling the end from the beginning. Prophecy. I know this isn’t all science in the strictest since, but it can all be tested to prove if it is true, historically, literarily, scientifically and prophetically. The evidence all points to the God of the bible and the result is personal relationship, which is what it seems was intended from the beginning by the Creator.
    And yes these questions are fun to think about and discuss.

  • Aziza

    on April 5, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    This is my beliefs according to God and religion.
    1. I believe that we were created in God’s image. I’m not talking about looking like God but having godliness inside us- love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness.

    2. I believe in direct communication with God. I don’t believe in having to go through other beings (mortal or immortal) to talk to him.

    3. I believe in prayer- congregational as well as private. More so private. It allows me to actually get deep in touch with what I need from him.

    4. I believe that actions breed reward or consequences. I have a problem with predestination or that it doesnt matter what good you do, once you don’t accept this one tiny bit of ”fact” then you are doomed. Actually it has been shoved in my face quite a bit. Not directly- but somehow I hear the message loud and clear.

    5. I belive that babies are born sinless. Helpless, soft skinned, wide eyed, adorable babies born with a weight on their shoulders already??

    6. I believe in the afterlife. Why? Because I believe God says so. Why? Call it faith. We do all this for God and then turn to dust- we’d be like “aww come on. what was the point?”

    7 I believe in sharing the cake- everyone religion believes that their religion would take them to God’s grace. But I believe that everyone has a chance.

    6. I believe

  • JustinwithoutBieber

    on February 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    it’s interesting to read through a bunch of these comments, and learn of all your different views on religion. It’s amazing how all of humanity, coming from the same origin, have come up with so many different beliefs and theories as to how the world came about. ‘Evolution’ and ‘Creation’ are all these ideas rolled into those very two words, in which out of those two words span millenniums of aggression and unsettled verbal and even physical conflicts. Evolution is scientific, only. It is looking at the hard evidence and facts to try and put two and two together. The only time faith (not as in spiritual faith, but rather the evidence of things not seen) is used in evolution is for purposes of believing something happened or happens a certain way because that piece of the evolutionary puzzle is missing. Creation is derived from a growing number of religions and focuses on the supernatural influence in the world’s existence. These are basically the only two theories out there, yet it’s funny how only one is presented at large. Only evolution is really discussed and taught in the public education system. You’d think with only two options, they would both be given a more equal fighting chance. Although, as I’ve seen many times, people who are ‘taught’ religion often recognize it as theory and just general knowledge (like evolution). Sure, they may believe what is presented for a time, but when there is no solid foundation that makes that belief more personal and less theory, you get people who turn away from the truth. That is the hardest to understand, because if you truly knew the truth, how could you possibly leave that and believe in ‘theory’? These people are seen and categorized as hypocrites… you know, the only ones whom non-believers point out to advertise religion as a whole? They say: “how can we people what they are saying is true when their very own are falsely calling themselves believers and not living a life reflecting that?” So in a way, not ‘teaching’ it in schools may be for the better. The best ways to learn the truth is to either have an experience for yourself to unveil your eyes, or for authentic believers to reach out and share it, as we are in fact called to do.
       I am a Christian, and part of the journey is discovering yourself and the role you are to play on this earth. The big “why am I here” question. Christianity is, as I like to say, not religion. ‘Religion’ is all about laws and regulations. Don’t do this, don’t do that. If you do this, that’s VERY bad. Christianity is about your relationship with God. There are Guidelines to follow (The 10 Commandments, which can be summarized into Love God and Love Others), but God is more interested in spending time with you, and bonding with His Creation. That is why He created us in the first place.
       One of the most common questions asked is: “if there is a God, why does He let all this bad stuff happen?” The easiest way to answer this is: God loves us exceedingly beyond our understanding, and He doesn’t want to control us and force us to love and follow Him. There is no true love if it is forced. So He gives us free will, and a choice. We bring all this bad stuff upon ourselves, through choices we make. 
       Quick note about the Noah’s Ark conversation a little ways up there. The Ark was actually found at the top of a mountain whose name escapes me right now. It was buried inside the mountain a bit, and some hikers discovered it by falling into it. The discovery’s broadcast was short lived because the government there are atheists, and they put a quick cap on it because it was proof of the Bible’s truth regarding that story. The mountain is now guarded day and night to allow no one passage to see it. Reporters or simple hikers alike.
       Btw, great question Allison. I’ve enjoyed reading through this material 🙂

    Press On

  • melanie1268

    on February 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I am a God believer, christian by faith. I believe, beliefs not based in any religion but I believe that there is a supreme being and personal relationship with Him is very important. I did this and by doing it, solidifies faith and learned not to hurt people but love them wherever, whatever their beliefs and culture. And I believe if your doing good in any way you can to others, you are a God believer because God is good and awesome.

    • 3tesla

      on March 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

      John Wesley, English evangelist and founder of Methodism (1703-1791)

      • 1 Jade Ruby

        on March 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

        Overcoming negative tendencies and enhancing positive potential are the very essence of the spiritual path.
        — The Dalai Lama, March 24, 2011

  • Guest

    on January 20, 2012 at 1:15 am

    I believe in God, I’m a Protestant. I was raised in a Christian home, surrounded by Christian people where ever I went; school, church. I know right now only about two people whom are important to me that are determined that God cannot be real. I can give you reasons as to why I believe in God, why I chose God and Jesus. For example; we are creative beings, it is our basic disposition to create; for if we didn’t have this we couldn’t move forward. The future, if it is to go anywhere requires creativity. Without this we would find ourselves stuck. Going nowhere, there would be nothing to propel us forward. Everything in life is created, at some point in time, even time was created; nothing just suddenly existed without a purpose. The trees even have a purpose to get us oxygen but for things to be created there must be a creator. So humans to exist must have a creator. Without a creator, time would cease to exist; everything that was created would cease to exist. So for us to exist we must have something with which we could have been created by. Or I could tell you about love but the reason I believe in my faith, in my God is because without Him I would be nothing. Personally I would have nothing to be my beacon of light in my darkest time. I have tried to live without God but I failed, I lost all reason to live and even now trying to go back to God I find it is still hard to live and know that I’m not in control.
    I don’t need scientific proof that what I believe in to be true. Science cannot be used against something that is supernatural. It is used to help understand but we are humans and it is too far beyond us to understand something as big as God.