The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Politics as Usual

November 15, 2005 | 53 Comments

This is why I’ve pretty much limited this blog to American church/state issues:

God and his two insurance salesmen — Bishop Gomis and Lalith

By Mahinda Weerasinghe

The intervention of Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawela and Bishop Oswald Gomis in the current presidential election, with a full-page advertisement in the newspapers indicating their political preference, is not likely to serve God, Church, Sri Lankans or Ranil Wickremesinghe, the UNP candidate allied to the LTTE.

Predictably, born-again Lalith Kotelawela, who inherited the fortunes accumulated by the distinguished Sinhala-Buddhist ancestors, is using the vast capital handed over to him to attack the Sinhala Buddhists. For the better part of his life he acknowledged that the fortune he enjoyed came from his Buddhist ancestors and not from his recently found Christian God.

The founder of his insurance company was Justin Kotelawela, the brother of Sir John Kotelawela — both of whom were Buddhists. It goes without saying that he owes at least a modicum of gratitude to protect the Sinhala-Buddhist heritage which put him on his two feet. It even gave him the freedom to change his religion. And it can be proved that he subsequently thrived on the premiums paid to his insurance company mainly by the Sinhala-Buddhist clients.

Once he got to the top he has begun to claim that it was his Christian God who put him there. He has no concrete evidence to prove that his bank accounts or his successes and that of his ancestors were due to Christian miracles. Of course, he is entitled to believe what he wants to believe. In this respect he is fortunate to enjoy the democratic liberalism inherent in the Sinhala-Buddhist society.

Read the whole thing. The plot of Godfather III emerges a few paragraphs down, followed by a wide-ranging theological discussion.

Comments

53 Responses to “Politics as Usual”

  1. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 1:22 am

    “In this respect he is fortunate to enjoy the democratic liberalism inherent in the Sinhala-Buddhist society.”

    In the same way that you are fortunate to enjoy the freedoms inherent in a Judeo-Christian society, including the right to attack the very beliefs that gave you that right.

  2. Bryce
    November 16th, 2005 @ 4:27 am

    ‘In the same way that you are fortunate to enjoy the freedoms inherent in a Judeo-Christian society, including the right to attack the very beliefs that gave you that right.”

    The right to attack Judeo-Christian beliefs in Judeo-Christian societies comes from the fact that most of those societies are democracies with no state-sponsored religion. Neither Christianity nor Judaism gave us that right.

  3. SteveR
    November 16th, 2005 @ 8:44 am

    Mort Coyle writes: ” In the same way that you are fortunate to enjoy the freedoms inherent in a Judeo-Christian society, including the right to attack the very beliefs that gave you that right.

    And, to be perfectly honest, in the same way that you (meaning Christians past and present) are fortunate to enjoy the benefits from secular science, while exhibiting the tendency to ignore many of its precepts where it conflicts with your religious dogma.

  4. Percy
    November 16th, 2005 @ 10:10 am

    “And, to be perfectly honest, in the same way that you (meaning Christians past and present) are fortunate to enjoy the benefits from secular science, while exhibiting the tendency to ignore many of its precepts where it conflicts with your religious dogma.”

    Never mind the fact, of course, that a large portion of the discoveries that modern-day science is built on were made by theists, and that a large number of the pioneers of science were Christians.

    And please tell me how science conflicts with my religious dogma, because frankly I came to faith in large part through science. Furthermore, science assumes (or rather limits itself to) a naturalistic environment and naturalistic causes and effects. It doesn’t have the ability to conflict with my supernatural beliefs, lol.

  5. Percy
    November 16th, 2005 @ 10:13 am

    Erm, “dogma” was supposed to be “beliefs”.

  6. hermesten
    November 16th, 2005 @ 10:59 am

    “Never mind the fact, of course, that a large portion of the discoveries that modern-day science is built on were made by theists….”

    It’s good that you were careful to specify “theists” but it also sort of undermines your point. What you guys don’t seem to get is that most of us here don’t care whether or not someone believes in God. Thomas Paine was a “theist,” but he had all the contempt for Christians and their dogma that I do. Someone merely believing in God has no necessary implications for me and mine. Christian dogma, and history, contains some very serious implications for any of us who like our consciences free.

    Your assertion here is disingenuous at best, as is the often made claim by Christians that this or that percentage of scientists “believe in God.” I’ve heard from Christians over and over again that Einstein believed in “God,” when in fact, by any Christian formulation of the term, he didn’t. I could also say someone like Bill Maher is a “theist” but what is implied in this assertion is a complete distortion of what the man believes about religion, and it is “relilgion” that is the real issue, not mere “belief.”

  7. severalspecies
    November 16th, 2005 @ 11:55 am

    Well put Hermesten!

  8. severalspecies
    November 16th, 2005 @ 12:08 pm

    A note to Percy:

    Science can only speak to a naturalistic explanation. The moment that science allows for a supernatural explanation- all rules are then suspect. We could never ever know what is then truly natural or supernatural, since there are no known laws about the supernatural (that’s the definition of supernatural. above/outside the natural, or what is known thru the laws of physics. Nature has laws/rules, the supernatural dosen’t.

  9. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 12:38 pm

    “…most of those societies are democracies with no state-sponsored religion.”

    And where did the values come from that provided the basis for these democracies and their elevation of individual conscience?

  10. severalspecies
    November 16th, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

    They came from human beings.

    duhhh!

  11. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 1:04 pm

    hermesten, as you said, Percy spoke of “theists”, not Christians. Why then did you try to divert the discussion towards Christians? That’s disingenuous.

    Further, I don’t recall Percy mentioning Einstein (who’s religious views were ambiguous, to the frustration of all who wish to claim him). Whereas no one’s quite sure where Einstein stood, Percy spoke of scientists who were very clear about their religious beliefs.

    I would also correct your statement about Paine, who’s contempt was towards the religious institutions of his day, not towards Christians per se.

  12. Jean-Paul Fastidious
    November 16th, 2005 @ 1:09 pm

    “And where did the values come from that provided the basis for these democracies and their elevation of individual conscience?”

    Sinhala-Buddhism.

  13. severalspecies
    November 16th, 2005 @ 1:34 pm

    And where did Sinhala-Buddhism come from?

    Human Beings, last I looked.

  14. Mookie
    November 16th, 2005 @ 3:02 pm

    People claiming to be xians or theists often work in scientific fields. Them being so would not have any special meaning to science, unless, of course, the person’s religious beliefs got in the way of objective judgement. Religion (the belief in the supernatural) is bad science. A person can be both religious and a scientist, but religion and science cannot overlap. By definition, religion is unscientific – outside the range of what science can answer.

    I believe the ID guy Behe was spanked by the members of the faculty at the institution that employs him. They made it quite clear that Behe’s idea were not endorsed by them or any other scientist. A scientist (the professional) is not being a scientist when he/she agrees with such tripe as ID or creationism; he/she is being a gullible, silly monkey.

    The only other atheists I have encountered in person are very focused on impartial, objective interpretation of the world around them. They also happen to be scientific types. There seems to be a strong correlation between scientists (or those who interpret reality scientifically) and atheism. I wonder why…

  15. SteveR
    November 16th, 2005 @ 3:21 pm

    Mort Coyle writes: ” I would also correct your statement about Paine, who’s contempt was towards the religious institutions of his day, not towards Christians per se.”

    Not correct. Consider this passage from the “The Age Of Reason” by Thomas Paine:

    ” Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism; and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”

  16. SteveR
    November 16th, 2005 @ 3:46 pm

    Percy writes: ” And please tell me how science conflicts with my religious dogma, because frankly I came to faith in large part through science. Furthermore, science assumes (or rather limits itself to) a naturalistic environment and naturalistic causes and effects. It doesn’t have the ability to conflict with my supernatural beliefs, lol.”

    Do you believe in evolution, or Genesis? Do you believe in Noah’s flood? Do you believe in virgin births and resurrection of the dead? Seems like a great deal of conflict to me.

  17. hermesten
    November 16th, 2005 @ 3:51 pm

    Thanks Steve, you saved me the effort of having to look that up. Anybody that’s read the Age of Reason and contends that Paine didn’t have contempt for Christians is either an idiot or a liar. Anyone who hasn’t read it has no business trying to tell those of us who have read it what Paine thought about Christians.

    But then, the good ole’ Chrisitians have been lying about Paine since the day the Age of Reason was published. They threw rocks at the man, literally, and tried to destroy him. The political climate for anyone of Paine’s persuasion, thanks to “Christians,” was so intolerant, that many deists chose to keep their sentiments private. Even a hundred years later Mark Twain was still afraid to publish his thoughts on these wonderful people while he lived.

  18. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

    Actually, I’ve always liked Paine and am familiar with the Age of Reason. Paine is taking issue with Christianity as a “system of religion”. To the best of my knowledge, he was quite tolerant of Christians as persons.

  19. hermesten
    November 16th, 2005 @ 4:54 pm

    I don’t disagree with that description. It was Christians, in whatever numbers, who were intolerant of him to the point of physically attacking him, and attempting to make his life miserable.

    But really, that’s what just about all of us atheists here object to: Christianity as a system of religion. I seriously dobut that many of us are intolerant of Christians as persons. Most of us, even if so inclined, simply cannot afford such intolerance. And though my family doesn’t contain any “Christians” per se, it also contains only one other atheist. In my case, the funny thing is, given where I have lived, a good number of my friends and acquaintences have been fundamentalists, with a sprinkling of Catholics, and a Jew or Mulsim here and there. I personally don’t know another atheist outside my family.

  20. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 5:02 pm

    FWIW, I am a Christian (although I prefer the term “Follower of Jesus”) but I too have concerns about Christianity as a “system of religion” insomuch as that refers to institutionalized forms.

    And wasn’t one of Paine’s primary goals in publishing the Age of Reason to try to get the French to consider a route other than atheism?

  21. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 5:21 pm

    “And where did the values come from that provided the basis for these democracies and their elevation of individual conscience?”

    Since no one was able to adequately answer this question, I will: The values that provided the basis for democracy and the elevation of individual conscience came from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  22. Mookie
    November 16th, 2005 @ 5:49 pm

    The values that provided the basis for democracy and the elevation of individual conscience came from the Greco-Roman tradition.

  23. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 5:54 pm

    Not from Sinhala-Buddhism?

  24. Percy
    November 16th, 2005 @ 6:08 pm

    Hermesten,

    “It’s good that you were careful to specify “theists” but it also sort of undermines your point.”

    How so, when my point was that theists (or. now that I think of it, even just people who are members of a religion), rather than atheists, have been the majority responsible for many of the discoveries of our world? Lol.

    “What you guys don’t seem to get is that most of us here don’t care whether or not someone believes in God.”

    And what you don’t seem to get is that this was a rebuttal of an atheistic dichotomous assertion (or what I took to be the hintings of one). Also, since so many of you state that atheism is not a religion, then by stating that theists are the ones in large part responsible for the discoveries that shaped our world I’m also implicating religious people, and am therefore, to an extent, pointing out how religion has contributed to our world (yes, I’m aware that some theists are Deists, etc.). Smile, God loves you :)

    “Your assertion here is disingenuous at best, as is the often made claim by Christians that this or that percentage of scientists “believe in God.” I’ve heard from Christians over and over again that Einstein believed in “God,” when in fact, by any Christian formulation of the term, he didn’t. I could also say someone like Bill Maher is a “theist” but what is implied in this assertion is a complete distortion of what the man believes about religion, and it is “relilgion” that is the real issue, not mere “belief.””

    *tries to consider what on earth Hermesten’s statement had to do with own*

    Religion cannot exist without beliefs. Are you trying to argue that non-religious people have made more contributions to society than religious people? I’m a bit flummoxed as to the point of your above statement, sry.

  25. Percy
    November 16th, 2005 @ 6:18 pm

    “Science can only speak to a naturalistic explanation. The moment that science allows for a supernatural explanation- all rules are then suspect. We could never ever know what is then truly natural or supernatural, since there are no known laws about the supernatural (that’s the definition of supernatural. above/outside the natural, or what is known thru the laws of physics. Nature has laws/rules, the supernatural dosen’t.”

    Science is never supposed to allow for a supernatural explanation for a natural phenomenon, because that’s not it’s job. Science’s job is to explain phenomenon in naturalistic terms (notice that this does not mean that reality is naturalistic; science’s characterization of it ignores supernaturalism, rather than opposing it). Furthermore, many of the things touted as scientific aren’t (ie, evolution). So while science cannot claim a supernatural explanation, science can be used to develop or support a philosophical understanding of the world, and supernaturalism and science are not incompatible (you can be a Christian and a scientist).

    Thank you though, for posting that ;) I’m glad that you appear to understand those distinctions.

  26. SteveR
    November 16th, 2005 @ 7:48 pm

    Percy writes: “and supernaturalism and science are not incompatible (you can be a Christian and a scientist).”

    You’ve got to be kidding. Science and religion (especially Christianity) are mortal enemies. Evolution vs Genesis, Global Flood vs local flood, earth 6000 years old vs earth .5 billion years old, virgin births, multiple resurrections, talking snakes, talking donkeys : only a mental patient couldn’t see an incompatibility here. How can someone claim to be a scientist and still believe this stuff?

  27. Mort Coyle
    November 16th, 2005 @ 8:48 pm

    Mookie said: “The values that provided the basis for democracy and the elevation of individual conscience came from the Greco-Roman tradition.”

    I’ll meet you half-way on this one. The values that provided the basis for democracy and the elevation of individual conscience came from the Greco-Roman tradition as preserved and interpreted through the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  28. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 1:55 am

    SteveR said: “How can someone claim to be a scientist and still believe this stuff?”

    Here’s a list of 1600 leading scientists, past and present, who are (or were in the case of the deceased) Christians. Or perhaps they’re all mental patients?

    http://www.tektonics.org/scim/sciencemony.htm

    BTW, this list is not exhaustive by any means and also doesn’t contain observant Jews, Muslims, Deists or other forms of theists.

  29. Mookie
    November 17th, 2005 @ 3:23 am

    A professional scientist can be a theist if they examine religion with an uncritical, unscientific approach. So in this case, they would not be “scientific” as they grovel before supernatural forces. There is a distinction between scientist as a profession and science as a methodology. Religion and faith are diametrically opposed to science. If a scientist is theist, he/she is just not being scientific when they are off the clock. For this reason I have trouble believing religious “scientists”.

    Percy,

    “Furthermore, many of the things touted as scientific aren’t (ie, evolution).”

    Please clarify this in regards to evolution.

  30. SteveR
    November 17th, 2005 @ 8:12 am

    Mort Coyle says: ” Here’s a list of 1600 leading scientists, past and present, who are (or were in the case of the deceased) Christians. Or perhaps they’re all mental patients?”

    Do they believe in talking snakes, talking donkeys, virgin births, multiple resurrections, blooming rods, and a young earth? If they do, their ‘science’ credentials are questionable. If not, they are selectively abandoning many teachings of their faith, which makes them something less than a Christian (as I understand the term).

  31. hermesten
    November 17th, 2005 @ 10:27 am

    Geez Mort, I was about to give you credit for being significantly above the typical theist posting here. Then I went to the link you provided on Christian scientists. This is exactly what I was referring to above (what Percy doesn’t get).

    It’s funny how whenever we mention someone like Pat Robertson, et al, you guys all say they aren’t “real” Christians. Then you turn around and claim anyone who believes in God is a Christian scientist. I’m not going to explore all 1600 claims, but I will make a few observations.

    First, this list goes back several centuries. Geez, a European “scientist” in 1220 was a Christian. Wow, now that’s a big surprise.

    Second, this list includes all kinds of people for whom the term “scientist” is a stretch, or an outright joke. Astronauts, engineers, “explorers,” auto-executives, educators, medical doctors, mathematicians, archaeologists, writers, computer science educators, economics professors, educational administrators, an “English leather merchant,” geographers, the “Archbishop of Cantebury,” “political scientists,” a “marketing researcher,” and even a “historian.” And I didn’t even get past the B’s –though I did skim on down and found that the list gets more and more ridiculous: down at the S’s they claim someone who was an “x-ray tech” in 1959.

    Third, after perusing this very fraudulent list, I suspect that a good many of these “Christian scientists” are Christians like Einstein (though at least I didn’t find him on the list — no room I guess with all the economists and historians), but I lost interest after seeing what bullshit the list is to begin with.

    Man, are you guys ever desperate for any hint of credibility. It’s hard to take theists seriously when confronted by stuff like this.

  32. severalspecies
    November 17th, 2005 @ 11:00 am

    Yes Percy, please clarify.

    To Morte Coyle:

    “And where did the values come from that provided the basis for these democracies and their elevation of individual conscience?”
    “Since no one was able to adequately answer this question, I will: The values that provided the basis for democracy and the elevation of individual conscience came from the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

    I say Human Beings. Now I know that that answer doesn’t quite follow the question, but I put it forward to demonstrate the absurdity of those kinds of questions (those that are extremely broad based). The question can readily go backwards infinitum. It’s a huge, complex question that can’t readily be answered quickly or briefly. I say Human beings the same way theists will say “The Judeo-Christian tradition” (Read that as ‘God did it’)

  33. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 11:47 am

    The rationalizations are astounding…

  34. severalspecies
    November 17th, 2005 @ 12:05 pm

    Thank You, (bowing) Thank You, (bowing).

  35. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 1:18 pm

    That was sarcasm…

  36. Lily
    November 17th, 2005 @ 1:29 pm

    This last batch of comments is interesting to read even though it is a downer.

    Your atheism forces you to a reductionism that is simply anti-human. Perhaps that is why the most murderous regimes on the face of the earth were atheistic.

    To not understand how scientists can be Christians is to not understand how scientists can be human. We are not simple beings, nor is it a matter of being psychotic or deluded. We are a complex mix of imagination, reason and will. Perhaps, creative imagination is what is lacking in atheists. It certainly isn’t lacking in all inventors, scientists, writers, scholars, etc. which is why you find believers everywhere.

  37. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 3:19 pm

    Maybe we could simplify the discussion thusly:

    There are some really, really smart people who are theists (Christian, Jew, Deist, Muslim, Hindu, etc.).

    There are some really, really smart people who are atheists.

    Arguing that theists are stupid or insane is not a credible approach to take and only makes the arguer look foolish.

  38. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

    Maybe we could simplify the discussion thusly:

    There are some really, really smart people who are theists (Christian, Jew, Deist, Muslim, Hindu, etc.).

    There are some really, really smart people who are atheists.

    Arguing that theists are stupid or insane is not a credible approach to take and only makes the arguer look foolish.

  39. hermesten
    November 17th, 2005 @ 3:39 pm

    “There are some really, really smart people who are theists (Christian, Jew, Deist, Muslim, Hindu, etc.).

    There are some really, really smart people who are atheists.”

    I don’t think there are many people here who would disagree with this sentiment. However, I, for one, never contended any differently. I, and I think, most others here, are saying something more like: as one becomes scientifically educated it is harder to maintain “religious” beliefs and support religious dogma. People so educated either abandon these notions, or move away from religion, like Christianity, and towards more ambiguous beliefs like “God” or a “higher power.”

    Futhermore, this view is supported by empirical evidence. Atheists are what, 5-10% of the general population? But they comprise anywhere from 40-90% of scientists –depending on the discipline– with the vast majority of those remaining rejecting “religion” pe ser, in favor of some concept like a “higher power.” And the further one is removed from disciplines like cosmology and biology, the easier it is to retain a belief in a Christian-like “God.”

  40. Lily
    November 17th, 2005 @ 3:58 pm

    I would love to know where your numbers come from. I worked once at MIT (not, I hasten to add, as a researcher or professor of anything) and the churches in Cambridge were filled with scientists, cognitve neurobiologists and all sorts of people whose disciplines I can’t spell! I really think you would be surprised, if you could take a peek at the churches in and around Harvard Sq. too.

  41. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 4:32 pm

    Lily, I agree. hermesten, your percentages sound suspiciously like they were extracted from a dark place (if ya know what I mean).

    Re: “I don’t think there are many people here who would disagree with this sentiment. However, I, for one, never contended any differently.”

    I’ve lost track at the number of times on this board I’ve seen theists (including myself) referred to as idiots, mental patients, brainwashed, etc. It doesn’t disturb me; in fact I find it all highly entertaining; but it would seem to contradict your claim.

  42. hermesten
    November 17th, 2005 @ 4:38 pm

    Lily, there are so many things wrong with your suggestion I hardly know where to start, but I will make a few comments.

    1. What does “filled” with “scientists” mean? 100% scientists? 75%? 50% 25% 5% To most people, the clear implication of this assertion is that a chuch with seating for, say, 100, would be attended by 90-100 scientists. I think such an assertion is questionable on its face. If this isn’t what you mean, then it smacks of exaggeration, doesn’t it?

    2. How do you know how many scientists were in any particular church? Did they wear badges that say “Hi, I’m a scientist?” This article suggests that reglious worship at MIT is bounded by a low limit of about 5% and a high limit of about 25%. (http://www.technologyreview.com/BioTech/wtr_14241,304,p4.html}
    Which would, in fact, make it less religious in orientation that scientists in general, according to the numbers I’ve seen.

    3. If a scientist goes to a church service does that make him a believer? I’ve gone to Episcopal chuch services as recenltly as last year. Does that make me an Episcopalian?

    4. What church? Catholicism, for example, is more compatible with science than, say, protestant fundamentalism.

    5. Now, the numbers. I’ve done the work for you. From an article titled: “Religious belief among scientists stable for eighty years – survey on US scientists’ belief in God”

    “According to a recent survey, 40 percent of U.S. scientists say they believe in God. The results, detailed in the April 3, 1997, edition of the journal Nature, surprisingly parallel the findings of a similar survey conducted over eighty years ago.”

    “In 1916, biologists showed the highest rates of disbelief or doubt (69.5 percent). Today, physicists and astronomers hold that distinction (77.9 percent), while mathematicians are most inclined to believe in God (44.6 percent).”

    From the George Mason University “stats” website article titled “Scientists and Religious Belief”:

    Comparison of survey answers among “greater” scientists

    Belief in personal God 1914/ 1933/ 1998
    Presonal belief 27.7/ 15/ 7.0
    Personal disbelief 52.7/ 68/ 72.2
    Doubt or agnosticism 20.9/ 17/ 20.8

    Belief in human immortality 1914/ 1933/ 1998
    Presonal belief 35.2/ 18/ 7.9
    Presonal disbelief 25.4/ 53/ 76.7
    Doubt or agnosticism 43.7/ 29/ 23.3

  43. hermesten
    November 17th, 2005 @ 4:45 pm

    Mort, when I read the kind of responses you and Lily have made it makes me think you don’t really want to know the truth. You both asked where I got my numbers. Well, when the question was asked they were merely in my memory from numerous sources over the years.

    However, it took me 60 seconds or so to find a number of sources –from University websites to the Discovery website– that contain this information. More detailed information is available with greater effort. And even if we take the highest number for atheism in the general population versus the lowest number for disbelief among scientists, it suggests that someone educated in science is 6 times more likely not to believe in god.

  44. hermesten
    November 17th, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

    One more thing Mort, when you say: “I ‘ve lost track at the number of times on this board I’ve seen theists (including myself) referred to as idiots, mental patients, brainwashed, etc.” it really has nothing to do with my claim of support for the statement that there are really smart theists and really smart atheists. One statement does not exclude the other.

    I do think the term “insane” is overused, both for theists on this website, and in general in our society. Insanity suggests a long-term inablity to function in a way that doesn’t cause direct harm to oneself or to others. Still, you can say that someone sane did something insane in the same way that you can say someone intelligent did something stupid. In this sense, one stupid act doesn’t make an idiot, and one insane belief doesn’t make a lunatic.

  45. severalspecies
    November 17th, 2005 @ 8:28 pm

    Mort,

    This is in response to comment #35

    I knew you were being sarcastic… so was I

    (I guess I’ll refrain from being sarcastic using the written word, it doesn’t always come across. Did my response not get through to any others?)

    Lily’s comment in 36 was interesting.

    How does being an athiest force oneself to reductionism, and why is that anti-human. I also don’t agree with your assertion that the most murderous regimes were driven by atheism, since atheism is ‘without belief in god’ It doesn’t support anything else. Besides, if the early christianity had the weapons available to them, that we have now, I only sudder to think.

    I have to go now and won’t be back very soon.

  46. Mort Coyle
    November 17th, 2005 @ 10:36 pm

    severalspecies: I knew that you knew that I was being sarcastic, but then, you probably knew that.

  47. Percy
    November 18th, 2005 @ 6:25 pm

    Steve R,

    “You’ve got to be kidding. Science and religion (especially Christianity) are mortal enemies. Evolution vs Genesis, Global Flood vs local flood, earth 6000 years old vs earth .5 billion years old, virgin births, multiple resurrections, talking snakes, talking donkeys : only a mental patient couldn’t see an incompatibility here. How can someone claim to be a scientist and still believe this stuff?”

    The sheer breadth of your misunderstanding is at once captivating and frightening. Since you listed primarily Christian beliefs in contradiction with science, I’ll rebut them in that context.

    ** “Evolution vs. Genesis”

    Where in the Bible does it state the exact mechanism God used to create life? Nowhere. There is no contradiction between evolution and the account of Creation in Genesis.

    ** “Global flood vs. local flood”

    First and foremost, a lot depends on how you read the account of the flood (for instance: is it really a “worldwide flood” as in across the entire earth, or was it a flood that wiped out the known world?). Second, there are *scientific* disputes about this very subject, lol.

    ** “Earth 6000 years old vs. Earth .5 billion years old”

    You know, I’ve looked, and looked, and looked again … but I still can’t manage to find where, in the Bible, it says that the Earth cannot be more than 6,000 years old. Can you help me find it? Lol.

    I personally have no problem believing what scienctists suggests the age of the Earth and universe to be.

    ** “ virgin births, multiple resurrections, talking snakes, talking donkeys”

    Science cannot prove even a naturalistic explanation to be true in all circumstances, because we cannot study all circumstances. Therefore, science relies, at least in part, on faith. Since science cannot prove a naturalistic explanation to be true in all circumstances, and since science cannot study or comment on the supernatural, there is no contradiction between the listed miracles and science. The best science could do for your purposes would be to say that the virgin birth is impossible by naturalistic means if current theories are held to be true in every possible permutation of said circumstance (notice that I said “possible”, rather than “conceivable”).

  48. Mort Coyle
    November 19th, 2005 @ 5:16 pm

    hermesten, regarding the link I provided to 1600 scientists who are Christians, I did state that it contains “past and present” scientists.

    To provide a little context here, I provided the link in response to SteveR’s statement, “How can someone claim to be a scientist and still believe this stuff?”. The point in providing the link is to indicate that there are many, many credible scientists who do “believe this stuff”.

    I noticed that you employed, in your response, a predictable tactic of trying to disqualify the entire list based on a couple of poor examples. I don’t know why the person who compiled this list chose to include an x-ray technician (maybe she’s noteworthy amongst x-ray technicians?) but that doesn’t negate the various Nobel prize winners, PhD.’s, and generally *really smart* people in the list.

    As far as statistics, wasn’t it Mark Twain who said there are “Lies, damn lies and statistics”? What was the representative group polled, what were the actual questions asked? Etc., etc. For example, the number of atheistic scientists in the National Association of Scientists is quite high compared to the number of atheistic scientists at research universities.

    For the sake of counter-balance, here is an article in the Washington Times which sites surveys indicating a much higher percentage of scientists are theistic than the figures you provided:
    http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050814-115521-9143r.htm

    And another indicating that percentages very by discipline, but concluding that “about two-thirds of scientists believe in God”:
    http://www.livescience.com/othernews/050811_scientists_god.html

    The bottom line is that we can play dueling statistics all day long or we can just acknowledge that there are lots of really, really smart people who are Christians or other forms of theists (as well as atheists) and that trying to paint theists as intellectually deficient (as SteveR did) is a silly approach to take.

    As far as your rationalization that “one insane belief doesn’t make a lunatic”, that sounds like an artificial construct to enable you to try to reconcile the fact that there are many extremely intelligent Christians.

  49. hermesten
    November 21st, 2005 @ 5:13 pm

    “I noticed that you employed, in your response, a predictable tactic of trying to disqualify the entire list based on a couple of poor examples.”

    Actually, I didn’t. I started my response by calling my remarks “observations.” And to say I am trying to disqualify the entire list based on a “couple” of poor examples is absurd. I listed probably 20 different categories that apply to the list multiple times.

    I didn’t count, but my impression is that after you throw out dead people, historians, economists, astronauts, school teachers, and all those who have college degrees in science but are actually car executives or some such thing, and don’t actually practice science (I mean, come on, my wife is a nurse, but they won’t renew her license if she stops being a nurse for more than a year), this list is nowhere near 1600 people. I suspect that a good half the list could be rejected out of hand. I also got the impression there is a high correlation in the list between “belief” and “age.” In other words, the higher the credential, the more likely it was obtained 30 or more years ago. Not so imporant for a practicing scientist, but very relevant to an auto executive claiming scientific credentials based soley on a college degree.

    And come on, this list doesn’t purport to be a list of “Phds” and “really smart people” who are Christians; it claims to be a list of “scientists” who are Christians.

  50. Mort Coyle
    November 21st, 2005 @ 10:34 pm

    I’ll admit, it took me all of 2 minutes to find that list and post the link, which was quicker and easier (and, I thought, more considerate) than compiling my own list and pasting them into a post. Lists based on such specific criteria aren’t always easy to find pre-made. For example, go find me a list of atheist bowlers. I dare ya.

    Now if you like, I can go ahead and start pasting in names, but I think the point has been made that there are many theistic scientists (as well as other professions which require intellectual rigor) and the whole stupid/mental patient/gullible argument is false.

  51. hermesten
    November 22nd, 2005 @ 9:46 am

    “…go find me a list of atheist bowlers.”

    I highly doubt that there are atheist bowlers, WWF fans, or cat lovers (well, maybe cat lovers, since cats are the devil’s familiars). How about a list of atheist porn stars instead?

  52. Mort Coyle
    November 22nd, 2005 @ 11:18 pm

    “How about a list of atheist porn stars instead?”

    Your on.

  53. Percy
    December 13th, 2005 @ 1:55 am

    Mookie,

    “A professional scientist can be a theist if they examine religion with an uncritical, unscientific approach.”

    Several misconceptions here. Firstly, a theist is no more religious than an atheist; theism is simply a worldview. You also seem to be assuming that a scientist can be a theist only if he has not thoroughly or critically evaluated that worldview. So are you saying that all of the scientists throughout history who were theists of any form were foolish, and suspended their normal practice of thinking critically in the area of their worldview? If so, that’s quite a few assumptions, and, pardon me saying, but seems to me to be extremely arrogant. However, I think you can soothe that feeling by showing me your proof (it would be nice if you could show me individually, for each scientist, how they were uncritical). I think that’s a fair task for such an assumption :)

    “So in this case, they would not be “scientific” as they grovel before supernatural forces.”

    Lol, I highly doubt that many worldviews are “scientific” given that almost all of them assume something about the supernatural (even atheists). So, by your standards, everyone (except agnostics) is “unscientific”.

    “There is a distinction between scientist as a profession and science as a methodology.”

    Methodological naturalism is the mechanism science uses to explain observed phenomenon. Naturalism is a philosophy which seeks to explain all of life through only naturalistic means. So if you’re trying to use methodological naturalism to explain all facets of all things, or if you assume that such is possible, that’s naturalism, lol.

    “Religion and faith are diametrically opposed to science.”

    LOL! No they aren’t. Faith is a necessary part of life; in fact, pretty much everything you hold to be true relies on faith in some measure. Science itself is a system of tested and critically evaluated belief – it still contains faith. For instance, not 100 years ago Newton’s laws of physics were thought to explain the physical movement of all objects. His laws were not proven to work for all objects or at all speeds of movement, but that’s what was believed by most of the scientific community, and much engineering was done based on that assumption. But then Einstein came along, and showed that very small objects moving at extremely high speeds do not follow Newton’s laws. You can pick out many more examples. Faith has a long history in science, lol (for instance – evolution).

    But perhaps I am mistaken; in which case, I implore you to prove to me concretely that religion/faith and science are completely contradictory.

    “For this reason I have trouble believing religious “scientists”.”

    It seems to me that you would have trouble taking seriously any scientist who matches your comments. You must not believe many scientists then, given that even atheist scientists have made and continue to make faith-based assumptions. :)

    “Please clarify this in regards to evolution.”

    Very well. First and foremost, a scientific theory is to be built off of observation of a phenomenon. But the original evolutionary trees, minor variants of which are still in use, were drawn not long after Darwin published The Origin of Life, when the fossil record was very sparse (entire phyla were missing), and they were drawn with extremely minimal (if any) observation of a phenomena (how do you observe something that’s supposed to take millions of years to occur?). This and the fact that for the past 120 or so years that evolution has been the dominant paradigm in science archaeologists who show or assert stasis in species (in other words, viewpoints contrary to the norm) often do not get their findings published or even acknowledged (in other words, much of the scientific community refuses to objectively evaluate any possibly contradictory evidence). Then you have the fact that the process of identifying fossils in terms of separate species and their place in the evolutionary tree is highly subjective (so much so that quite a few times archaeologists have second-guessed each other on where various fossils are supposed to go; this subjectivity alone casts serious doubt on the empirical nature of the observations that have furthered the theory), or have accepted a fossil as legitimate before meticulously examining it, only to find out later that it was fake. The theory was not built on the evidence – the evidence was modified to fit the theory.

    Then you have the fact that, as Karl Popper wrote, “the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.” But evolution, by all appearances, can never be falsified, because the events happened over a period of millions of years. Furthermore, the criteria for disproving evolution that Darwin laid down (such as symbiotic relationships and the great gaps in the fossil record) have already been fulfilled, but the theory was not falsified; rather, assumptions were made about the nature and history of those criteria (something akin to wishful thinking, really), and the theory was modified slightly. And finally, evolution (in particular, macroevolution) is not readiliy testable: if the changes take millions of years to produce visible alterations, then it will take millions of years to conclude a test. And yet many people in the scientific community take evolution to be fact. That’s not scientific, now is it? And finally, a theory must also be able to precisely predict some event in the future in order for it to be accurate. What events do you believe evolution can predict?

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