The Raving Theist

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Quantum Talk

September 14, 2006 | 86 Comments

Quantum mechanics and chaos theory are frequently invoked to “save” free will from the clutches of the deterministic physical laws. As a preliminary matter, I doubt that true randomness exists. That some outcome is unpredictable or uncomputable due to the complexity of the variables or the effect of the observer doesn’t mean that no laws apply, only that we are unable to discover them with the available tools. Even if you can’t pinpoint the decay of a particular nucleus, you can calculate a general probability with a bunch of them, and there’s obviously something law-like driving the probability.

In the context of free will, however, it doesn’t matter what the answer is. As Hume, Bertrand Russell, Martin Gardner and many others have pointed out, the resort to randomness in that context is futile. Even if caprice is the opposite of determinism, it’s not the same as free will. Assuming that what happens at the subatomic level could affect the behavior of our neurons, having them fire randomly would more closely resemble epilepsy than autonomy. Our brains would function like popcorn makers rather than computers. We’d act like Tourette’s-afflicted, Choobusian pornolizers. Being completely controlled by determinism may be unfree, but so is being completely out of control due to randomness.

The reason I implied yesterday that there was something mind-like about the physical laws was to see whether some atheist would invoke quantum theory to attempt to deflate the thesis. But invoking randomness isn’t particularly helpful in the God debate either. Indeed, the usual atheist strategy is to argue that natural laws account for and predict everything, that there’s no room left for the deity. Introducing quantum-talk just opens Gaps for something to be the God of. It’s like suggesting that two completely identical cloned pigs, like two decaying nuclei, could act differently due to some hidden, undetectable, immaterial force.

Comments

86 Responses to “Quantum Talk”

  1. Choobus
    September 14th, 2006 @ 2:58 pm

    It can be interesting when the non-deterministic elements of quantum physics are discussed in a philosophical context. However, in practically all cases this is only true when the person talking actually knows something about quantum physics beyond what he picked up from watching star trek once with the sound down. If invoking randomness isn’t helpful in the god debate (which I agree with) why bother to attempt to impose order on the straw man of coin tossing? One thing that is often very useful in the god debate is to state what you actually believe instead of shit stirring like a mealy mouthed weasel. That there is “something law like driving [the] probability” does not in any way preclude the existance of random events. It seems that a new gap has opened up between RA’s ears, and that some christ punching polesmokers have leapt at the chance to shove jeebus in there. Unfortunately it seems that Jeebs fits in there perfectly.

    Do you do anal?

  2. Thorngod
    September 14th, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

    Exactly! Good show!

  3. Forrest Cavalier
    September 14th, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

    What do you mean good show? That’s not even an overture!

    Declaring that “outcomes can be unpredictable and uncomputable due to complexity” is not a conclusion. That is a problem to be solved before we can act rationally. How can we deal with a reality that vastly exceeds the processing capability of our brains?

    And if the “usual atheist strategy” is to “argue that natural laws account for and predict everything,” then it isn’t only “the deity” that gets squeezed out. Then there is no room left for free will either.

  4. "Q" the Enchanter
    September 14th, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    “Introducing quantum-talk just opens Gaps for something to be the God of.”

    I think it’s worse than that. Quantum “randomness” is highly constrained by the so-called wave function. As I understand it (and I’m certainly no expert), QM really doesn’t give any agent (human or divine) any extra marginal elbow room to will anything above and beyond what the physical world quantum-mechanically “determines”. If it did, we would see variance from the predicted pattern of ensembles of quantum events.

    So, e.g., on a naive reading of QM, you might think that God could decide to avail himself of quantum randomness in a slit-screen experiment by nudging each electron along a divinely defined path, such that the result of multiple electon-impingements on the second screen is a written message. (“Thous shalt not drive SUVs.”)

    But in fact this runs counter to the predicted interference pattern. In general, any nontrivial manipulation of quantum events would appear nonrandom, and thus detectible as intelligent or mechanistic intervention. As such, the quantum “gap” that exists allows God only to “order” ensembles of quantum events in a way that is effectively indistinguishable from the “random” ordering predicted by QM.

    (I suppose there is still room in all this for very subtle quantum level refinements that may have nontrivial impact on systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, but it’s a dubious assumption that such refinements take place, and in any case the idea lends scant support to a conception of god that is supposed to be maxipotent in the macroscopic world of our experience.)

  5. "Q" the Enchanter
    September 14th, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    “Introducing quantum-talk just opens Gaps for something to be the God of.”

    I think it’s worse than that. Quantum “randomness” is highly constrained by the so-called wave function. As I understand it (and I’m certainly no expert), QM really doesn’t give any agent (human or divine) any extra marginal elbow room to will anything above and beyond what the physical world quantum-mechanically “determines”. If it did, we would see variance from the predicted pattern of ensembles of quantum events.

    So, e.g., on a naive reading of QM, you might think that God could decide to avail himself of quantum randomness in a slit-screen experiment by nudging each electron along a divinely defined path, such that the result of multiple electon-impingements on the second screen is a written message. (“Thous shalt not drive SUVs.”)

    But in fact this runs counter to the predicted interference pattern. In general, any nontrivial manipulation of quantum events would appear nonrandom, and thus detectible as intelligent or mechanistic intervention. As such, the quantum “gap” that exists allows God only to “order” ensembles of quantum events in a way that is effectively indistinguishable from the “random” ordering predicted by QM.

    (I suppose there is still room in all this for very subtle quantum level refinements that may have nontrivial impact on systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, but it’s a dubious assumption that such refinements take place, and in any case the idea lends scant support to a conception of god that is supposed to be maxipotent in the macroscopic world of our experience.)

  6. "Q" the Enchanter
    September 14th, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

    “Introducing quantum-talk just opens Gaps for something to be the God of.”

    I think it’s worse than that. Quantum “randomness” is highly constrained by the so-called wave function. As I understand it (and I’m certainly no expert), QM really doesn’t give any agent (human or divine) any extra marginal elbow room to will anything above and beyond what the physical world quantum-mechanically “determines”. If it did, we would see variance from the predicted pattern of ensembles of quantum events.

    So, e.g., on a naive reading of QM, you might think that God could decide to avail himself of quantum randomness in a slit-screen experiment by nudging each electron along a divinely defined path, such that the result of multiple electon-impingements on the second screen is a written message. (“Thous shalt not drive SUVs.”)

    But in fact this runs counter to the predicted interference pattern. In general, any nontrivial manipulation of quantum events would appear nonrandom, and thus detectible as intelligent or mechanistic intervention. As such, the quantum “gap” that exists allows God only to “order” ensembles of quantum events in a way that is effectively indistinguishable from the “random” ordering predicted by QM.

    (I suppose there is still room in all this for very subtle quantum level refinements that may have nontrivial impact on systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, but it’s a dubious assumption that such refinements take place, and in any case the idea lends scant support to a conception of god that is supposed to be maxipotent in the macroscopic world of our experience.)

  7. thickslab
    September 14th, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

    As a preliminary matter, I doubt that true randomness exists. That some outcome is unpredictable or uncomputable due to the complexity of the variables or the effect of the observer doesn’t mean that no laws apply, only that we are unable to discover them with the available tools. Even if you can’t pinpoint the decay of a particular nucleus, you can calculate a general probability with a bunch of them, and there’s obviously something law-like driving the probability.

    The “hidden variables” theory of quantum mechanics, which has been disproven by Bell’s theorem.

    True randomness exists.

  8. Evil_Mage_Ra
    September 14th, 2006 @ 6:01 pm

    Any idea where I can pick up a “pronolizer”?

    For, um, research purposes of course. :-)

  9. ocmpoma
    September 14th, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

    Yeah, but what about the atheist who uses statistics to counter the (rather lame) coin-tossing argument?

  10. Professor Chaos
    September 14th, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

    As much as TRA sucks now, at least he did provide my new favorite describtive term: ‘Choobusian pornolizers’

  11. Godthorn
    September 14th, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

    Impressive comment, “Q.”
    “True randomness exists.” -Thickslab. Does it? A quantum behaving randomly (without “cause” from our viewpoint) would necessitate either “free will” on the part of the quantum or the incessant guidance of an absolute intelligence–either case logically unacceptable. Where is the defence for uncaused action?

    And, F.C., what “law” necessitates “room” for “free will”?

  12. Evil_Mage_Ra
    September 14th, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

    “A quantum behaving randomly (without “cause” from our viewpoint) would necessitate either “free will” on the part of the quantum or the incessant guidance of an absolute intelligence”

    Would it? And why? Please expand on this–it sounds like a huge non sequitur to me.

  13. Godthorn
    September 14th, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

    Evil-M-R, try to conceive of an entity, whether quantum or composite, deviating from any already determined inertial path, sans stimulus, sans motive, sans any external influence whatever. This is the requirement for absolute randomness. Ergo, absolute randomness is a surd. Either the quanta is prescient and self-motivating, or its path is dictated by a god. The assumption of quantum randomness has arisen as a result of insufficient data or a lack of refinement in interpretation. If neither is the case, then God is and I must recant.

  14. Godthorn
    September 14th, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

    CORRECTION: Kindly substitute “attractant” for “motive” in my previous comment. I was getting ahead of myself!

  15. RenaissanceMan
    September 14th, 2006 @ 10:25 pm

    RA, you have lost it. You have no clue what you’re talking about anymore. Einstein was wrong when he said:

    God does not roll dice.

    Not only are dice being rolled? But there is no god involved.

    Natural laws are not always deterministic… Can you DETERMINE exactly when a U-235 atom will pop? Nope. Can you DETERMINE when a random confluence of atmospheric events will trigger a hurricane? Nope.

    WHY, please tell… would you assume that randomness is godliness? There is no god of the gaps… there is no god in the random fluctuations of quantum mechanics.

    And there is no god in the processes that give rise to your mind. Deal with it. Grow some balls.

  16. Evil_Mage_Ra
    September 14th, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

    If God [i]did[/i] roll dice, you can be sure he’d get a natural 20 each time.

  17. Marcus
    September 14th, 2006 @ 11:27 pm

    Is it not possible to say that a mind, materially based or not, is capable of consciously controlling one’s physical body?

    Determinism says that what I do is already determined by what I am. But what is that, other than just to turn my behavior into a premise? Sure, I chose my behavior based on what I am, but if that’s what I am, then what’s the problem?

    Maybe I am a physical mechanism than acts in response to particular stimuli, but if those stimuli are almost infinite, and my consciousness allows them to include anything from poetry to music to morality, and I always manage to do exactly what I want to do (except when my body isn’t working right), then what am I missing out on?

    Of course, it’s obviously true to a large extent that free will as we think of it is an illusion, but really, wouldn’t we be better if we got rid of that illusion? This is largely the mistake that leads to things like Republican economic policies and the death penalty, because people assume that destructive behavior is simply chosen. I think to a large extent, thining people realize this is basically untrue, but I don’t think most of them really see it as denying them their free will

    We still get to choose our behavior, to the extent that our consciousness is part of the mechanism which receives stimuli and determines what to do with them.

  18. bernarda
    September 15th, 2006 @ 2:44 am

    For a comparison of classical mechanics and quantum mechanics, try here.

    http://www.csicop.org/si/2006-04/quantum-mechanics.html

    This is already a short summary, so I am not going to try to summarize it more(or should I say less?).

    But I will give the writer’s conclusion.

    “One of the benefits of viewing the quantum world as not fundamentally different from the classical world is that we can imagine how one changes into the other. With a few simple assumptions, a classical world of point-like electrons and nuclei is blindingly chaotic. Atoms are continually trying to collapse, but are prevented from doing so by the huge amount of electromagnetic radiation that is released in the process. It is not the comfortable place that the word classical implies.

    As we imagine moving to the quantum realm by increasing the size of Planck’s constant from zero, something remarkable happens. At some point, the blinding light disappears to reveal stable atoms, capable of forming molecules. Far from making everything go weird, quantum mechanics makes it go normal. To be sure, if Planck’s constant increases too far, the atoms fall apart and a different form of chaos takes over, but that just makes the story even more interesting.

    So it seems that quantum physics is not weird and incomprehensible because it describes something completely different from everyday reality. It is weird and incomprehensible precisely because it describes the world we see around us-past, present, and future. ”

    I don’t mean to say that I agree with all the writer’s earlier philosophical hints in the article. Some parts I probably don’t even understand very well. That will take more reading.

  19. Thorngod
    September 15th, 2006 @ 8:09 am

    I had read Feynman’s article, and like you, didn’t understand every point, but it was gratifying to have an expert dispel some of the wierdness usually associated with quantum science. If reason is the valid key to knowledge, then any seeming “facts” that defy reason are not a refutation of reason but a problem to be solved. A puzzle, supported by however many facts, remains a puzzle. An explanation is always required.

  20. Paul
    September 15th, 2006 @ 8:18 am

    Godthorn wrote: “Either the quanta is prescient and self-motivating, or its path is dictated by a god.”

    This is a great example of the “fallacy of the false dilemma (or of the excluded middle).”

    Godthorn, go read the Wikipedia entry on this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

  21. Andy Holland
    September 15th, 2006 @ 8:40 am

    John Wheeler (famous Physicist), who was atheist in his views when I heard him, believed that in order to have observation there had to be life or intelligence in order to make the observation. So life or intelligence, or something simple and compound is the first cause (origin).

    Another John said, “In the beginning was the Word” – and he also said ‘life is the light of men’, but, ‘men prefer the darkness to the light, their deeds being dark.’

    So “science” invents a religion unto itself of death by which death forms life, and the ‘light of that religion is darkness, and great is that darkness.’ So rather than study life in a living context, one grabs samples, kills them, and with violence pretends to learn the mechanism of life. And it doesn’t matter if the sample is an insect, or a human Fetus.

    Yet as dark as our deeds are, there is something Divine called forgiveness so you don’t have to wallow in the darkness forever.

    Fortunately, God reveals Himself slowly, because God invented both free will and is free from having to force or wishing to force – being the author of nature and practicing what He always preached, peace, patience and kindness, even to His enemies.

    But those who read the Bible and see violence are not seeing God’s violence, but rather their own through their own blind deathly and violent misinterpretation. To the pure, all things are pure, but to those in darkness, everything is darkness – even the light which they fear.

    andy holland
    sinner

  22. Thorngod
    September 15th, 2006 @ 9:32 am

    Very well expressed, Andy, but as full of holes as a hunk of swiss cheese. If J. Wheeler’s theorizing is accurately accounted for in your first paragraph, he was very short on gumption. Your first attribution to him is a tautology: an observation requires an observer. The conclusion, that intelligence or some equivalent is the “first cause,” does not follow–not from that simplicity nor from any other argument I have encountered.

    The darkness you refer to is indeed in the “hearts” and minds of us mortals–and so are all other sentiments and strivings, including those “higher” and more admirable ones that you wish to reserve to “God.” If God is, then he is neither “good” nor “bad” in respect to human morality. He is neutral and indifferent. You and I have got to handle this thing ourselves, and superstition merely serves to keep the waters muddied.

  23. hagiograph
    September 15th, 2006 @ 10:05 am

    Is there some sort of “internet discussion board law” that states that when a discussion starts to bring up “Quantum Mechanics” it becomes immediately meaningless and devoid of actual discussion potential?

    -h

  24. Drusilla
    September 15th, 2006 @ 10:13 am

    If God is, then he is neither “good” nor “bad” in respect to human morality. He is neutral and indifferent.

    How have you reached this conclusion? What do you mean?

  25. Tenspace
    September 15th, 2006 @ 10:22 am

    Wow, you attribute true randomness to undiscovered law? RA, randomness is derived from quantum laws.

    You need to start participating in the forums before posting such misstatements. You might learn something.

  26. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    September 15th, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    WOW – quantum mechanics to the left of me bible-bable to the right …. here I am stuck in the middle with you (anyone remember that song?)

    ME simple primate …. me see inconsistencies in religion, me not see invisible hand of guy in sky making miracles for me, me not see invisible quantum particles, me not see effects caused by invisible angel beings …

    me too simple for all that —- but smart enough to pay my bills and have roof over head – very happy primate.

  27. Choobus
    September 15th, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    Jeez, what total igonrance regarding QM. Only Thickslab is not full of steaming shit.

    I posted what would have been the first comment here, and it was held up for moderation: or, to put it another way censored. You diss me out and then cut out my reply: that’s pathetic. Despite being a fucktard of late I always had some respect for RA because he at least did not shut down dissenting views, no matter how retarded (SBW), idiotic (Lily), or awesome (Choobus) they might be. Now the respect is all gone, and my pleasant demeanor will likewise dissipate. You are cunt RA. I am only writing this so you can read it before you delete it. Maybe it was an accident. Perhaps some random event lost my comment, or perhaps Jesus shat on your server after too much anal penetration. However, it seems unlikely as this has never happened to me before. Even Shitlords get to crap all over QM here!

  28. Evil_Mage_Ra
    September 15th, 2006 @ 10:56 am

    Is there some sort of “internet discussion board law” that states that when a discussion starts to bring up “Quantum Mechanics” it becomes immediately meaningless and devoid of actual discussion potential?

    Not if the participants are actual physicists. However, it certainly does if the participants are laypeople trying to justify their religious views.

  29. Thorngod
    September 15th, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

    Well, you see, Drusilla, in the beginning there was only God. There was nothing outside God. So God was it. So when God finally decided to get to work (after doing absolutely nothing, apparently, through an eternity!) where could he go for stuff to create from? There was nothing anywhere except for God. He was it. So he created from his own stuff, his own being. So everything that exists is Godstuff. Everything that is is in and of God. Everything that is, and everything that happens, is an expression of the nature and attributes of God. You and I may see this as good and that as evil. But it’s all the same to him.

  30. Forrest Cavalier
    September 15th, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

    Thorngod, seems your definition of God may be a stranger on the bus or watching from a distance, unable to care about good and evil.

    You and I agree: worshiping and following a God limited by your definition would be pointless.

    Good and evil are meaningful concepts, but only if you focus instead of squinting everything to a gray. That strawman is getting kind of tired. Find something else to hide behind.

  31. scathach
    September 15th, 2006 @ 3:23 pm

    So Tourette’s is the result of random neural firing? Or was that just an attempt to disparage Choobus through association of his posts with a neurological disorder? Not very nice of you, Mr. RA, on many levels. And I thought the new improved you was not going to offend anyone anymore!

    You are making a very large leap from subatomic particles to neural processes, and that’s friggin ignorant, dude. Jeebus H friggin christ on a crutch, read a book that’s been published since the KJV.

  32. Lily
    September 15th, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

    Well, well, well. Chooby is throwing a tantrum. I guess his “grudging respect for [my] learning” has disappeared along with his respect for RA, on whose dime he is posting!

    Hmmm. I know the feeling.

    Choobus, all of us who post or have posted here can testify that our comments have, at one time or another, disappeared into moderator hell. They always show up after 2 or 3 or 4 days. Surely, even you can wait that long to see your contributions to the discussion show up.

  33. Thorngod
    September 15th, 2006 @ 3:56 pm

    Paul, I somehow missed your #18 until now. Where are the middle possibilities–or any circumjacent ones–that may otherwise (that is, aside from material ones) account for “random” changes in quantum motion?

    F.C., do you deliberately distort, or is it just a shortcoming? I consider “good” and “evil” very meaningful concepts in the context of human (animal) affairs.

  34. choobus
    September 15th, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

    I did not know that comments get lost all the time. Mine never havebefore. In that case I take it back and apologise to RA for making false allegations.

  35. Godthorn
    September 15th, 2006 @ 6:53 pm

    Well, well, look who’s back. And she gets insulted before she can even open her mouth!

    Welcome back, Lily. I’ve been attacking the notion of unspurred volition, hoping to provoke some enlightenment from a quantum physicist, and so far all I’ve been vouschafed is pretense and condecension. Maybe you can vitalize the debate. Is quantum electrodynamics involved in transubstantiation?

  36. Paul
    September 15th, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

    The middle possibilities for

    “Either the quanta is prescient and self-motivating, or its path is dictated by a god.””

    might be

    1. quanta processes are inherently random

    2. quanta processes seem random now, but actually follow rules that we haven’t discovered yet.

    Now, you may dispute what I wrote above, but I answered your question directly, and in good faith, so I expect the same from you. Therefore, for the sake of fairness, I won’t discuss your rejoinder to my answers above until you have directly answered this question from me:

    Why must the two options you lay out above, as a *logical, and not empirical question,* be the only ones possible? If they are not the only logically possible ones, then you have committed the fallacy of the excluded middle (which is a logical fallacy, not an empirical failing).

  37. Godthorn
    September 15th, 2006 @ 11:02 pm

    Paul, perhaps you overlooked part of my statement in #11, which is your “middle possibility” number 2 above. I was maintaining that arbitrary (or “random”) motion, which I take to mean change without cause, is untenable, that such claimed effects must be due to either a misinterpretation or insufficiency of data. Consequently, I was saying that “inherently random” processes (your possibility number 2 above) was illogical, that it implied either quantum free will or divine interference.

    I am not a physicist, have scant knowledge of quantum theory, and I may very well be misunderstanding what is intended by the term “random” in that context. But if it means arbitrary, as opposed to merely unpredictable. then I argue as above.

  38. Forrest Cavalier
    September 15th, 2006 @ 11:36 pm

    Thorngod, it’s just a shortcoming, not a deliberate distortion. Although I have been posting mild taunts.

    I was thrown off by your mention of the complex patterns “good” and “evil.” We haven’t concluded agreement on the existence of “river” in the other thread.

    Knowing you admit good and evil are meaningful (i.e. are patterns) might help us to skip a lot of tedium. Thanks.

  39. axolotl
    September 16th, 2006 @ 1:28 am

    It seems to me that attempting to extrapolate random changes at the quantum level to human free will is a “bit” of a reach. Even if you accept a “hard” deterministic universe, what’s the alternative to living your life “as if” you do have free will?

  40. bernarda
    September 16th, 2006 @ 4:00 am

    Sinner Andy claims, “But those who read the Bible and see violence are not seeing God’s violence, but rather their own through their own blind deathly and violent misinterpretation.”

    I suppose god didn’t order the destruction of Jericho and all its people. god didn’t order the destruction of all the Amalek people either. god didn’t fire Saul because he wasn’t bloodthirsty enough and hire David instead.

    Maybe Sinner Andy hasn’t read 1st Samuel, or Deuteronomy.

    In Judges god ordered “utter destruction” in one massacre and the killing of 10,000 in another. Besides massacres, god ordered the cutting off of thumbs and big toes.

    god’s law also calls for stoning of non-virgins and adulterers, non-believers–especially if they are your sons or daughters–and stoning for disobeying priests.

    These are not a question of misinterpretation, these are god’s orders written down in black and white.

    The least you could expect is that bible thumpers would open up their book and read what it says.

  41. Paul
    September 16th, 2006 @ 8:31 am

    Godthorn, take a stab at answering the question in the last paragraph of post #34, and then I’ll continue the discussion.

  42. thickslab
    September 16th, 2006 @ 9:17 am

    I guess it’s too much to ask godidiots to learn a bit about quantum physics before they start posting idiotic bullshit. Honestly, comments like this are just so fucking stupid:

    an entity, whether quantum or composite, deviating from any already determined inertial path, sans stimulus, sans motive, sans any external influence whatever. This is the requirement for absolute randomness.

    THERE IS NO PREDETERMINED PATH, you fucktard. That’s the whole fucking point of quantum physics.

  43. Andy Holland
    September 16th, 2006 @ 10:07 am

    No one can destroy anyone but God allows. Amalek was ordered killed because they saught to destroy others without mercy, and when they were spared by Saul, they later crucified seven of Saul’s sons on their walls. So when God told Saul to wipe them out, it was for Saul’s sake AND FOR AMALEK’s sake. When Saul showed them mercy, they repaid him because Amalek hates life – they preferred death and cruelty. They were better off dead than furthering their aims of cruel murder – for the mercy they gave will be the mercy they get.

    From Prayers by the Lake of St. Nikolai of Ochrid, part of LXXXIV:

    Those who educate by blinding rather than by enlightening –what will You do with them, O Lord?

    They turn Your children away from You, and prevent them from approaching Your Grace, for they say: “‘The Lord’ is an archaic term of your dead grandparents. It is an old amulet, which your grandparents used to wear but they have died off. We shall teach you how to till the earth, how to fatten the body, and how to dig for gold, which shines more brilliantly than the dead Lord.” What will You do with these corrupters of Your children, O Lord?

    “I shall do nothing to them, for they have done everything to curse their own seed and breed. Truly, they have prepared a worse judgment for themselves and their people than the scribes and Sadducees. For they had the example of these latter, and failed to learn from it.

    “In their old age, they will hear sabers rattling at their threshold, and will be dying of hunger, bald and gaunt, and they will not dare to poke their heads out of their door to warn their students. How will they warn them, when My name has been expelled from their brigand hearts? What will they even say to warn them, since they prepared their students for this in their own abysmal stupidity, which accompanies everyone whom I do not accompany?” What will happen to them, O Lord?

    “It will be worse for them than for the Babylonians, when in their might they used to worship blood and gold, and used to teach their children to worship them also.

    “First will come hunger, such as even Babylon never knew. And then war, for the sake of plundering bread, from which they will return defeated. And then an internecine slaughter and burning of cities and towns. And then diseases, which the hands of physicians will not dare to touch. And the teachers will be flogged with whips and goaded to be the gravediggers of their students, whose stenchful corpses fill all the road-ways.”
    ——————–
    These judgments which come are from a Universe that God created, a Universe that has rules. If you jump off a cliff, you’ll be harmed – so too, if you judge for yourself, and expell God from your midst, crime, polution, folly, murder will increase until you destroy yourselves. It is only a matter of time.

    But continuing later in the same prayer:

    O Great and Fearful Lord, all Your ways are grace and truth. What will You do with those who were blinded, misled, deceived and despoiled?

    “I wait, to see who will cry out to Me — and I will respond.

    “As long as there is crying out on earth, there will also be an echo in heaven.

    “I am the One who is closest to everyone on earth. I give Myself to everyone who desires Me; I withdraw Myself from everyone who does not acknowledge Me. Without Me the world is a pile of ashes. And without Me people are feebler than ashes.”
    —————————-

    andy holland
    sinner

  44. Godthorn
    September 16th, 2006 @ 10:52 am

    Paul, I think I answered you in #35. The quote from me that you chose to attack was out of context. The actual position I was taking was equivalent to your “possibility number 2″ in your #34. Is there an excluded possibility between determinate and indeterminate?

    Thickslab, I suspect you know a hell of a lot more about quantum science than I, though I’ve seen no demonstration of it. My dispute is not with QM or QED as such, which I admittedly am not qualified to argue, but with any contention of uncaused “random” motion. –And if you were including me in your reference to “godidiots,” you have made an immense faux pas.

  45. bernarda
    September 16th, 2006 @ 11:48 am

    Sinner Andy is dumber than a stump, “Amalek hates life – they preferred death and cruelty. They were better off dead than furthering their aims of cruel murder ”

    In fact, they were defending their land from “the chosen people” who were johnny-come-latelys. When they did capture a town, they spared everyone, didn’t even enslave them. That too is in the bible Andy. But Andy’s god laid down strict rules of how to deal with slaves, particularly virgins which god’s men had the right to rape.

    Anyhow, Andy doesn’t seem to mind stoning and cutting off of thumbs and big toes.

  46. bernarda
    September 16th, 2006 @ 12:02 pm

    I just thought I would add from 1st Samuel.

    “And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.

    3So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.

    17And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.

    18And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.

    19And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

    So the Amakeks loved death Andy? This behavior at conquest was far better than what the jews did during their conquests.

    This is what Andy’s god order the jews to do in 1st Samuel,

    2Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

    3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

  47. choobus
    September 16th, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

    Andy Holland, Shitlord, sinner MORON.

    Thickslab is right: there is some ridiculous bullshitting going on here. What it amounts to is people who don’t know anything about quantum physics trying to argue the case for a hidden variable theory (probably without knowing it, so great is the ignorance). Practically all theoretical physicists have dismissed this idea, and explicitly accept that random events do occur, and that these events follow probability distributions. However, if some poorly educated hicks have a more profound insight then that is indeed impressive, and they should write to the Royal Society and the American Academy of Sciences immediately to inform them of this breakthrough.

  48. Erik
    September 16th, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

    Andy Holland,

    In #19 above, you mention that God gave us free will. On the other hand, you defend the destruction of the Amalekites, because they were “better off dead”. Really? How about the “infant and suckling” mentioned in 1st Samuel, quoted by Bernarda in #44?

    If God knew ahead of time that they would simply become cruel murderers such that it was better for them that Saul slaughtered them, then what exactly is the purpose of free will?

  49. cumchugger
    September 16th, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

    Thickslab:
    I guess it’s too much to ask godidiots to learn a bit about quantum physics before they start posting idiotic bullshit. Honestly, comments like this are just so fucking stupid:

    the only problem is you are referring to a godlessidiot. Idiots come in all shapes and sizes.

  50. thickslab
    September 16th, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

    My apologies, godthorn. You are, as cumchugger states, not a godidiot. You are a godlessidiot.

    Re: your comment that I am more knowledgeable than you about quantum physics is true. I’m an electrical engineer and I deal with quantum effects every day in my job. I am by no means anything even remotely approaching an expert even on a good day, but I do know what quantum physics is and some of its most basic principles and implications.

    Godthorn writes:
    My dispute is not with QM or QED as such, which I admittedly am not qualified to argue, but with any contention of uncaused “random” motion.

    Which pretty much translates to “My dispute is not with quantum mechanics … but with [quantum mechanics.]”

    Quantum physics implies randomness. Period. End of story. Anyone who has studied a first year university physics course knows this, and there is no point in arguing it.

    BUT HEY – if you can come up with a better theory than quantum physics which explains our world and which doesn’t include randomness, by all means, submit your name to the Nobel committee, because you’ll have answered a question which stumped Einstein and which will be the greatest discovery in physics since the beginning of time.

  51. bernarda
    September 16th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    Thank you Erik for your comments. I have been an atheist since about 16, but being raised in a xian family, I learned the bible.

    In a debate with jesus freaks, I can site chapter and verse better than they can. But more importantly, I can put it into context. That is something I have never seen one of them capable of, including bible-thumping preacher, TV or others.

  52. Godthorn
    September 16th, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

    Well, boys, I will fold my hand for the time being and once again concede my shortcoming, even as one of you has conceded his. I understand that even some renowned physicists remain baffled by this or that. At the inner ultimate there is a great fuzziness, and at the outer ultimate a great frothiness, and you and I remain forever the victims of ignorance and vanity.

  53. Erik
    September 17th, 2006 @ 6:24 am

    Bernarda,

    Apologetics being what it is, believers spend a lot of time trying to insert context into Biblical passages where the plain meaning could hardly be clearer. (The rationalization of the slaughter of the Amalekites is one of the plainest illustrations.) That is how they end up with the truly bizarre notion that god intends that only a minority of people will actually get the “true” message.

    I have been an atheist as long as I can remember, and lemme tell ya, the Bible reads to the outsider like the strange ramblings of crazed ascetics. Reading it for the first time (around 13 years old), I constantly got the image in my head of Byzantine depictions of saints — wild-eyed, stern, unyielding, merciless, judgmental.

    This strangeness is only matched by the efforts to incorporate something like quantum mechanics into the discussion. In my view, QM has utterly nothing to do with religious discussions at all, other than to underscore the complete failure of theology.

  54. Lily
    September 17th, 2006 @ 8:00 am

    Erik, et al.

    Apologetics has nothing to do with defending the descriptions of ancient warfare and everything to do with justifying, in the case of Christianity, our belief in Christ.

    We have often spoken here in this venue about the Bible; the relationship between the Old Testament and the New. To my constant amazement, it never seems to have any impact on the thinking of the “regulars” here. I just cannot understand it.

    For that reason, I will merely allude once again to certain facts–

    The Old Testament is a serious of ancient writings that reach back to the iron age in several different languages and in a variety of genres, mythology, poetry, stories, history, law, etc.

    Those writings record the understanding of the Jews of their ancient history, how they became a nation, etc. It records the good and the bad. Does one really need to point out that the Psalmist who celebrates the “dashing” of the heads of babies against the rocks, is reflecting the practice of tribal warfare in his time? And that it is a *bad* thing to do?

    Theology has not failed. It is worth the effort to incorporate our understanding of the natural world into our understanding of theology since both are enriched by the effort. If you don’t find it persuasive, so be it. That leaves matters where they always have been.

  55. Paul
    September 17th, 2006 @ 9:30 am

    Godthorn, all you did in #35 was to reassert your position, not provide logic for it. Please quote the exact part of #35 that wasn’t a re-assertion.

    As to what your original or actual position is, you’ve got me confused. Please clarify.

  56. Erik
    September 17th, 2006 @ 9:54 am

    Lily,

    I would love to agree with you, but you’re just dead out flat wrong. First of all, I am not addressing your view of Christianity, but Andy Holland’s.

    Second, I cannot recount to you the number of times someone has tried to justify some atrocious passage of the OT rather than take the more reasonable tack that you take. Andy Holland did so in typical style in this very thread. I have had similar debates with high school kids who are, for lack of a better term, practicing apologetics on the atheist, as it happens to be one of the classes in their school (private, of course). This may not be “apologetics” as you call it, but I am fully justified in calling it for what it is — rationalizing to deal with uncomfortable facts, which, in a word, is apologetics.

    My beef with Andy Holland is not about what I believe the Bible to be, but what he believes it to be. I accept the fact that the OT is a collection of ancient myths reflecting ancient tribal attitudes. Andy, however, seems to think it is all actually true.

    Then you seem to be taking a most interesting view — that is, if I don’t agree with your view of Christianity, then I am wrong about it, I haven’t learned properly. (Hmmm… Where have I seen that before? Oh, that’s right– every freakin’ place in the world.) Well, you better tell Andy Holland he’s got it all wrong.

    And I’m really sorry, Lily, but our understanding of the natural world is not enriched one tiny bit by theology. Not once, not ever, with the possible exception of understanding the human propensity to believe things that are not true. But in that case, theology is the case study itself, not the method of understanding. At best, theology has stayed out of the way. At worst, it is an impediment to understanding. The notion that understanding is enriched by theology is not only unpersuasive, it isn’t even demonstrable.

  57. Noah Nywno
    September 17th, 2006 @ 11:41 am

    Eric,

    I’m going to defend Lily on this one point concerning theology enriching science (if we can agree that science is what we’re talking about here).

    There was a time when men of science, including Newton, engaged in science as a way to better understand God’s creation. Now, this doesn’t mean God was a major component of their science (after all, Newton said F=MA, not F=MA + God), but it was a major motivation for DOING science, at least for them. So I can definitly understand how Lily and others see the two as not necessarily incompatible.

    I don’t believe in Lily’s theology, but it is interesting (at least to me) how well theology works as motivation for some.

  58. Choobus
    September 17th, 2006 @ 12:58 pm

    Noah, I usually like what you have to say but in this case you’re full of feces. Scientists from the past were able to discover things about the world around them despite religiosity not because of it. The fact that they may have identified themselves as religious is simply a reflection of the consequences of not doin g so. (And, in the case of Newton many of his writings were severely critical of the church, and were only discovered after his death beceause he was wise enough to know what happens to a cambirdge prof. who dissents [cambridge was basically a seminary in those days). The bible (and religon in general) is as useful to science as an Auger Electron Spectrometer is to a goat.

  59. Lily
    September 17th, 2006 @ 1:08 pm

    Well, Noah, you are exactly right, as usual, but I would go a bit further. Belief in God was more than just motivation for the scientists of the past– without belief, it is hard to know how long it would have taken for modern science to arise. Only because previous generations of scientists believed that God was rational could they believe that that the universe was orderly, i.e. worked according to discoverable laws. Of course, those laws could be discovered by us because we are also endowed by our creator with some portion of His reason (we are made in the likeness and image of God, after all!).

    Erik, I haven’t said a word about my “view” of Christianity. I have spoken here only factually about the Bible, as a piece of literature. Your anger at Christianity is clouding your reading of my comment.

    Beyond that, I can’t speak to Andy’s views. I haven’t had occasion to read very many of his comments. What I mainly am struck by is his bravery in speaking the language of believers in this forum. That, unfortunately, invites misunderstanding and ridicule.

    You are right, though, about some of the less sophisticated apologists you have encountered. There are many naive (i.e. less thoughtful, sometimes less educated) believers who do think that they have to take everything in the Old Testament literally for fear that not doing so, somehow undermines Christianity. That ends up forcing them into some untenable corners. But even so, Andy is right about one important fact– life and death are in God’s hands (hands=metaphorically speaking, of course).

    We cannot explain away that bad things happen to good, as well as bad, people. Some of us try to but I personally believe that it is better to be an agnostic about those things we really cannot understand and to remember that this life is not the end of the story.

  60. choobus
    September 17th, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

    Oh dear Lily, that is trite and unworthy even of you. Made in his image? How arrogant, and at the same time idiotic. If a being even close to what you call god exists it must surely be nothing like humans (who are “designed” for this particular planet and mot much else). Do you really think that if atheism was the norm science would not be where it is today? If you do this is evidence either of a lack of scientific awareness or a very distorted view of religious motivations. Wheter you believe it is made by god, leprechauns or a giant question mark, the natural world is what is is, and understanding it is an entirely seperate endeavour from posturing about where it came from. IF you can’t understand this you are the victim of a mental condition, like the stockholm syndrome. The Bethlehem syndrome?

  61. Lily
    September 17th, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

    Chooby:

    I have all kinds of respect for your knowledge of physics; which, by the way, I take on faith. Is that irrational, I wonder?

    However, as a philospher or historian you really aren’t up to snuff.

    I think if we look at where science is in Islamic countries we must be struck by dismay. If we look at science among animists, among people who practice voodoo, we are similarly dismayed. Is there a large body of Hindu science? There may be, I plain don’t know.

    If, indeed, there had only been atheism (which is, soberly speaking, preposterous and unimaginable), it is hard to imagine what the quest to “know” would have looked like or how it could have developed. I will have to leave it to those with more imagination than I to figure it out.

  62. Sirius
    September 17th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    The religiousness of past scientists was hardly beneficial. Religion only served to inhibit these people and never did much of anything to aid in scientific discovery. Pascal for example, originally was not very religious at all. That was until his “religious experience” where he then, with the exception of one sleepless night, left science and math in favor of theology. He went from making great contributions to trite like pascal’s wager.

    On the contrary to what you are saying, any atheist society would probably be more interested in science because they don’t have some old book that claims to have all the answers. Thus they are left with more curiosity about the universe and they would know that they would have to find the knowledge themselves. Just take a look at how many atheists consider themselves truth seekers. It is not a coincidence that so many scientists are atheists.

  63. Lily
    September 17th, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

    Is it a coincidence that so many scientists are Christians?

  64. Sirius
    September 17th, 2006 @ 4:24 pm

    I think it would be more reasonable to ask why so few scientists are Christian. First lets take a look back in time, say eight decades ago. At that time, only forty percent of scientists expressed belief in a supreme being. Now at the present, that number has shrunk to SEVEN PERCENT. Now what was the percentage of Americans who were Christian again? Oh, about eighty percent. This isn’t just a small tendency towards atheism, this is an overwhelming tendency. Even eight decades ago scientists were mostly atheist. Doesn’t this say something?

  65. Choobus
    September 17th, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

    It is very easy to test your hypothesis Lily. As the world becomes more and more secular (as it is, thankfully, despite what is happening here in the USA)) then the advancement of science should grind to a halt. Oh no, wait a minute it is growing exponentially! Looks like all those atheist scientists are actually able to function after all. It’s a miracle!

    And your points about muslims and hindus only proves that those religons area bit better at stifling free thought than christianity. And let us not forget that those cultures have been badly assfucked by other (mostly Christian) nations in the past. Stealing a countries natural resources does not generally aid in their development, even if you do teach them how to play cricket and drink gin.

    At every university I have ever worked in the vast majority of professors I have known personaly were atheists. I will try to find out is there is any actual data on this, but from my experience most scientists are atheists. You might have a skewed perspective because you live in the land that time forgot.

  66. Choobus
    September 17th, 2006 @ 4:55 pm

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

    “Sir — The question of religious belief among US scientists has been debated since early in the century. Our latest survey finds that, among the top natural scientists, disbelief is greater than ever — almost total.”

    Table 1 Comparison of survey answers among “greater” scientists
    Belief in personal God 1914 1933 1998
    Personal 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
    Personal belief 35.2 18 7.9
    Personal disbelief 25.4 53 76.7
    Doubt or agnosticism 43.7 29 23.3
    Figures are percentages.

    It is also interesting that [url=http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm] the vast majority of prisoners (98%) in the US are Christians,[/url] while a tiny fraction are atheists. So, it has been shown that if you are a Christian it is much more likely that you will end up with a felony conviction than a degree! Praise Jesus.

  67. Lily
    September 17th, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

    What nonsense Choobus. Let’s settle for just dismissing out of hand the notion that science would grind to a halt, if the world became totally atheist.

    At this point that is quite impossible, since the underlying rational priniciples have long since been confirmed, reaffirmed, tested and found valid. Since the mechanics are all in place, nothing of the sort you are positing is the least bit likely.

    Your prisoner statistics are as bogus as your atheist scientist statistics. I want to know who designed the study, how large the sample was, who determined who are “real” scientists (/Christians) and who are not, etc. Since you yourself dubbed Francis Collins a “Shitlord of the Week”, when you discovered that he is a Christian, you will forgive me for doubting the lack of bias of those who do these kinds of studies.

  68. Choobus
    September 17th, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

    As is says in th elink I provided, the scientist studies were carried out by

    Edward J. Larson
    Department of History, University of Georgia,
    Athens, Georgia 30602-6012, USA
    e-mail:edlarson@uga.edu

    Larry Witham
    3816 Lansdale Court, Burtonsville,
    Maryland 20866, USA

    similarly, the prisoner data were, as is mentioned in the link I tried to include (I’m sure you can figure it out) supplied by

    Denise Golumbaski
    Research Analyst
    Federal Bureau of Prisons

    Nature is a high impact journal with very rigorous referees. Please tell me why their study is bogus. And why would Denise send out fake statistics? What have you got against Denise. Is your criterion for deciding is data is bogos or not based on how much they suit your cause?

    As I’m sure you know, you are using the same tactics that tabacco companies used, that oil companies now use, and that the Bush admnistration cronies use all the time, which is to claim everything is “junk science”, and pick out one toady who is willing to sell out and claim what they want so they can say that there is “debate” when among those who actually know, there is none. (cf, global warming).

  69. Choobus
    September 17th, 2006 @ 5:45 pm

    mea culpa, I should have said 98% of prisoners are theists. Only
    74% are Christian.

  70. Lily
    September 17th, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

    What tactics? I asked because I am interested and didn’t have the energy to look it up. Now I have and what I have learned is that her numbers were based on ca. 98,000 prisoners in 1997, which is a rather small sample.

    A similar compilation of stats in 2002 is available based on 93,000+ prisoners out of a total population of 2 million, or 4.6%. The discission about this compilation is very interesting (http://forum.physorg.com/index.php?showtopic=6919&st=30&#entry96900) and far more nuanced than your simplistic: religion=criminal, atheism=law-abiding.

    According to the author, most prisoners disclaimed any practice of religion prior to incarceration. They were not church goers, members of churches, etc. Atheists were represented at far higher rates than the older study indicated… But you can look it up for yourself, if interested. I did too superficial a review to do the discussion justice.

  71. Sirius
    September 17th, 2006 @ 7:51 pm

    I find it interesting that they lumped atheists with unknown. That gives such an accurate picture on the percentage of the prison population that are atheists.[/sarcasm]

    As for the statistics on scientists, I’m still waiting for your reply on that.

  72. Godthorn
    September 18th, 2006 @ 12:01 am

    Paul, I had about decided not to continue this, but since I’ve caused considerable confusion here, and encountered my first experience of being dubbed an ignoramus, I’ll try to restate my contentions in their simplest forms.

    1- Stuff, however rarified, cannot arise from “nowhere.” Any that appears to do so can only logically be said to eminate from “we know not where.”

    2- No iota of stuffness is a free agent, uncaused and unaffected.

    These are the premises from which I was arguing. My extrapolations from them provoked an unexpected tempest. If my first premise conflicts with soeone’s concept of virtual particles or such, or my second with the quantum principle of randomness, so be it. (And, Choobus, I am well aware of–though not educated in–the quest for hidden variables.) Finally, beyond the facts that have been established, there lie further facts by which those now known will be better elucidated. We are not yet down to that last turtle.

  73. Godthorn
    September 18th, 2006 @ 1:00 am

    You guys don’t have a chance in hell of weakening Lily. She’s a true believer. Intelligent people like Lily and Wm F. Buckley are already well educated, and you cannot re-educate them. Their religion occupies a separate complex in their brains and cannot be undermined or superceded by their rational thought processes.

    Lily, the historic records support your contention that many early seekers of empirical knowledge were inspired by their belief in a rational god, though there were certainly quite a few pioneers who were agnostic and atheist. And you are right that a godless human race is unimaginable. If we discover intelligent beings on another planet somewhere, we will find that they also evolved in a religion-soaked world. It was not a god, but our belief in a god or gods that created human beings. We created gods, and our gods then declared us human, and above the other beasts. Like it or not, my fellow atheists, it was our gods that diciplined us and made civilization possible. Without them we would have remained far longer merely superior beasts, and those goddamned dark ages would probably still lie ahead for us.

    I can live with Lily. She’s a lovely believer. There are many true believers, mostly Moslem, who want to sever my dear head from my fucking body.

  74. bernarda
    September 18th, 2006 @ 2:50 am

    Science and the culture of science developed in “xian” countries in spite of religion, not because of it. For example, St. Augustine argued against the study of math and natural phenomena(the word science didn’t exist yet) saying that they were dangerous to salvation. It was better just to believe.

    The Catholic Church opposed the introduction of the number “0” –which came from India by way of muslim scholars to Europe–saying that is was a devilish sign. Read Robert Kaplan’s, “The Nothing That Is”.

    Lily, “The Old Testament is a serious of ancient writings that reach back to the iron age in several different languages and in a variety of genres, mythology, poetry, stories, history, law, etc.”

    The Old Testament was actually begun to be written about 700 BCE and often revised to meet evolving political interests. The tales are mythology, thankfully. See Finkelstein’s and Siblerman’s “The Bible Unearthed”. A comment by the authors.

    http://www.bibleinterp.com/commentary/Finkelstein_Silberman022001.htm

    Technically speaking that would be towards the end of what is considered the Iron Age, but it gives the impression of making something look older than it is.

    The New Testament is also a collection of mythological tales. It is a snycretic conflation of Greek and Mid-East myths revised. A large part is just the invention of one man, St. Paul, who made it up from his “visions” and “revelations”.

  75. Erik
    September 18th, 2006 @ 4:58 am

    Sorry I had to miss so much while I was away.

    Lily,

    I don’t doubt that many scientists have been and are still beleivers and are motivated to learn in order to better understand what the believe is a design of the Creator. I just don’t see how their theology actually advances the ball.

    I seriously doubt you will be able to find that scientists who are or were Christian or Buddhist or Jewish or Muslim (or Greeks or Egyptians or Mayans, for that matter) were any more motivated to understand the structure of the universe or the atom or DNA than scientists who are atheists. The ancient Greeks, for example, did more to advance scientific thought than anyone around them, but I don’t think you’ll find many examples of Greeks motivated by an overwhelming desire to understand Zeus. Therefore, I don’t think you can point to the beliefs or theology of an individual as a particular engine of learning.

    On the other hand, what you can find are plenty of instances in which a scientist posited that God would have created a perfect universe, so that, e.g., planetary orbits simply had to be circles. Or that geological strata would simply have to demonstrate that Noah’s flood actually occurred.

    It’s rather ironic that you wondered in one of your posts about the state of scientific inquiry in predominantly Muslim countries. In the Middle Ages, residents of those countries would have wondered about the state of scientific inquiry in Christian countries, and they did. Curiuosly enough, it was a time in Europe when Christian belief was at its peak.

    Every indication to me, particularly in the last couple of centuries, is that science would have advanced much further without the pervasiveness of religious thought. You can see this plainly in the debate over evolution, although calling it a debate is being outrageously generous to the detractors. The amount of time and energy wasted on this debate is tragic.

    And you have to wonder why that is, although you have already alluded to it, by reminding us of the Christian belief that we are made in God’s likeness. The problem with theology is simply this, Lily: it is a very short step from the belief that God exists to the belief that humans are a special concern of God’s. This has the unfortunate result of regular denial by the believer of evidence to the contrary, until the evidence is ultimately so overwhelming that only an idiot would deny it, and even then it still happens.

    So, yes, I will stick by my contention that theology is utterly useless.

    As far as Christianity goes, you bet I’m angry at it. From the standpoint of the atheist, Christianity is hypocritical, arrogant, psychologically degrading, mysogynistic and a whole lotta other big bad words. Frankly, Lily, I’m still trying to understand why women ever subscribe to this pack of nonsense, in no small part because I am a little uneasy about the possible answers. The only thing going for it is that other belief systems aren’t much better.

    Sorry if this sounds so harsh. The fact is that I am not particularly angry at Christians themselves, except for evangelistic types.

  76. Andy Holland
    September 18th, 2006 @ 7:41 am

    God judged Amalek – not man. You judge what you do not know. You do not know man, but you judge man. You do not know God, but you judge God.

    Amalek did evil things and were ordered to be wiped out including the infant and the suckling. So even small sins are to be destroyed – there is no place for sin.

    When David spared Amalek, when he did not utterly purge sin from his heart, he committed adultery and murder. So Amalek is a type to be utterly destroyed – even wicked thoughts are to be opposed and utterly destroyed, the sucklings and infants.

    Anyone who looks on a woman in lust has committed adultery with her already. Looking on a woman in lust reduces her to object, and the man who does so lets Amalek rule in his heart.

    Amalek is a people, a wicked and cruel people that were to be destroyed and God would judge them in the final judgment. But Amalek is more importantly a type – a type of sin that the study of the Scriptural passages reveals.

    But you do not know things spiritual, so you don’t know how to read the Bible, nor do you know how to differ judgment to God who created the Universe, but rather you judge for yourself – and your judgment is false.

    andy holland
    sinner

  77. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    September 18th, 2006 @ 8:02 am

    Interesting discussion and then comes Andy Holland :)

    Does this guy every say anything besides regurgitate bible-babble ?

  78. Noah Nywno
    September 18th, 2006 @ 8:42 am

    Well, I’m sorry to have caused a shitstorm on this minor issue. I thought I put enough qualifiers in my last post to render it reasonably moderate. Personally, I don’t care if Newton prayed incessantly or secretly cursed God every chance he got; it in no way hinders his vast contributions to science.

    I’m just pointing out that SOME (maybe even many) have been motivated by faith. I wouldn’t speculate as to whether or not they would have been motivated by something else in absence of that faith. Some folks CAN NOT operate without it. If there are those who need it, and still give society great things, then I’m glad they have it.

  79. JUST_ANOTHER_PRIMATE
    September 18th, 2006 @ 8:58 am

    Though I do concur with those who don’t give religion much credit for scientific advances. I have to admit – it would be a shame to not have some of the great sacred music from Bach, Shubert, Mozart etc …..

    On the other hand I’m sure they would have written other great music (and did) not influenced by their spirituality. But some of those most influences by their belief in god it great stuff.

  80. Dada Saves
    September 18th, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    Good news for Choobus: He finally got some anal.

    Bad news for Choobus: He had to assfuck Lily to get it.

    Gawd Alltighty that was some reaming.

  81. Erik
    September 18th, 2006 @ 11:17 am

    noah, I think we’re actually saying pretty much the same thing.

  82. Dada Saves
    September 19th, 2006 @ 12:18 pm

    What’s the problem here? You can’t say ‘assfucked’ in the comments section now? What are you, a child?

  83. Choobus
    September 19th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    Raise your hand if you have ever studied quantum physics at even the undergraduate level.

    If you have not raised your hand but have been banging on about quantum physics insert your index finger into your anus. Then sniff that finger. That is what your arguments pertaining to the quantum world are like to those with a minimal education in thematter.

  84. Dada Saves
    September 19th, 2006 @ 12:55 pm

    What should I do if I’d had my finger up my ass already?

  85. choobus
    September 19th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    savour the moment

  86. Brian Macker
    September 24th, 2006 @ 10:04 pm

    RA,
    “The reason I implied yesterday that there was something mind-like about the physical laws was to see whether some atheist would invoke quantum theory to attempt to deflate the thesis.”

    Setting traps for atheists now? Ever hear of compatibilism?

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