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  • Reconciliation Issue

    I normally don't start threads, but this news article intrigued me.

    How does one reconcile the issue of Biblical tenets and scientific evidence in light of scientific testimony from a major scientific contributor?

    Le's look at how Albert Einstein might have felt about how strictly removed each side is on the issue.

    NEW YORK – A Bible with an inscription from Albert Einstein has sold for $68,500 at an auction in New York City.

    The Bible was part of a fine books and manuscripts auction at Bonhams on Tuesday. The German-born physicist and his wife signed it in 1932 and gifted it to an American friend named Harriett Hamilton.

    The auction house says Einstein writes in the German inscription the Bible "is a great source of wisdom and consolation and should be read frequently."

    The Bible's final price far exceeds its pre-sale estimate of between $1,500 and $2,500. The final price includes the auction house's commission.

    The auction house hasn't said who bought the Bible.

    Einstein formulated the theory of relativity and won a Nobel Prize in physics. He died in 1955.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/...#ixzz2XW76CMpY

  • #2
    For some of us, we reconcile our faith with science by NOT taking the Bible as the LITERAL word. We go further to accept the belief / statement that the Bible was written by people influenced by their culture and environment, and the Bible should be read with that understanding.

    In high school, I read Genesis and story of the creation of Adam from sand. I looked at it and felt that if I were to try to explain single cell evolution, I would use sand to eventual human as an excellent analogy.

    Comment


    • #3
      >>>>How does one reconcile the issue of Biblical tenets and scientific evidence in light of scientific testimony from a major scientific contributor?<<<<

      A surprising example how this can be done comes from the Catholic Church:

      http://www.vaticanobservatory.org/in...us/cat-history

      From persecutor of Galileo to sponsor and facilitator of cutting-edge scientific research - too bad it only took 350 years

      Comment


      • AZMike
        AZMike commented
        Editing a comment
        It didn't exactly "start" with the "persecution" of Galileo, Blancmange. You only have academia and a university system because of the Catholic Church. You have the preservation of Greek science because of the Church. The Church was doing cutting-edge research in the sciences - in fact, pretty much the ONLY group funding and doing cutting edge research in the sciences - because of the belief that the Universe is ordered, that it operates by standard rules, and that it is good and worthy of study ("For God so loved _the world_ that he gave it his only begotten son.") You have the scientific method and sciences like geology, volcanology, lunar mapping, seismology, genetics, the Big Bang Theory, and lots more, because the Church has always given people time and money and encouragement to study the sciences. Galileo was an anomaly in Church history who ran afoul of Italian power politics because he was in the middle of Medici factions, because he insisted on publishing theory as fact (consider what happened a particularly brutal form of the academic review process at the time) well before the supporting observations were available, because he insisted on commenting on a science that was outside his field of expertise, and because he was prickly enough to insult another powerful Italian male (formerly one of his best friends and patrons) in public by calling him a simpleton (the whole incident was a lot more like a subplot of "The Sopranos" - "He said THAT about ME?!" - than an instance of some supposed never-ending battle between religion and science.) It was an example of the adoption of Biblical literalism in the face of the Protestant Reformation that made some (by no means all) Catholics adopt a biblical literalism that was never part of the Church before (heck, even St. Augustine said Genesis should be read metaphorically). Galileo was never tortured, never executed, never imprisoned, and his sentence was stay in a friend's house to rebuild his strength and sample his wine cellar. No, he never said "It still moves!" either. He continued to receive the sacraments and remained a Catholic.

        Any other scientists that were persecuted by the Church? I can't think of any, but can think of lots of scientists that were actually tortured and executed by secular and atheist regimes...not to mention those that have been slandered and lost their funding because their research results weren't in accord with secular social beliefs.

    • #4
      The argument between science and religion is driven by zealots on either side. Science seeks to explain HOW something comes about/works. Religion teaches and explains to me WHY I should act and live a certain way. Two different questions all together. As for creation vs evolution, etc. You call it science, I call it the hand of God. It's all good.

      Comment


      • #5
        People believe what they want to believe. When one side sticks ardently to a position that an individual eventually comes to recognize as just plain self serving bunk it can lead to a very critical questioning and likely rejection of everything else. This happens on both sides. The result is we have one political party the now has the reputation of hating science and another that has a reputation of hating religion. I don't believe either of these perceptions is in reality is true, but it gets played out that way on nearly every divisive issue. In the political arena the answer is not for one side or the other to win. The answer is to stop the gerrymandering of congressional districts and return to competitive races where the strength of ideas will hopefully win out. There will always be safe districts, but they should look more like the states themselves and not a cup of coffee you spilled on the floor.

        Comment


        • #6
          It all becomes easier to recognise when you take a step back and consider what the bible actually is.

          It is not one text. Instead it is a collection of 68(?) individual texts that were put together in an anthology in order to tell the story of man, God and their relationship with each other as Christians believe it. Yes there are common themes that the reader is intended to derive from it, but when each individual text was written down it was for a different purpose. Some are books of law, some are histories, some are letters to individuals or letters to groups of people. Some have purposes which are unclear. Most were written down many years after the events which they actually recount having been passed on by word of mouth before that. They were written in a variety languages, including some which have died out in recent years. Like any texts they were naturally influenced by the culture, politics and events of the day and need to be seen in that context.

          Once you understand and accept all those things it becomes much easier to see that there is more than one way of interpreting any individual passage and just because the literal English translation of a given passage seems at odds with current scientific understanding it doesn't need to create a massive problem.

          Comment


          • #7
            This is my take as a conservative Christian. The Bible is not a science textbook. It's about the relationship between God and man.

            I compare it to the way I answer my preschooler when he asks "Where did I come from?" I tell him, your Dad and I love each other very much, and we wanted a son to love, too. Is it a full scientific explanation of how my son was conceived and born? No. Is it true? Yes. It is appropriate to his age and level of understanding.

            The first books of the Bible were written pre-Bronze age. It makes no sense to me to expect writing for that audience to fully explain 21st century science and technology. The Bible wasn't written to give a scientific explanation of our world. It was given to explain how we got here, how to live in peace with each other, and to let us know that we are God's beloved children.

            I do not expect to ever fully understand God's creation from a scientific standpoint. I enjoy learning about it, but ultimately, I don't think I'm capable of ever wrapping my human mind around all the things God can do. I would make more sense to me to expect an ant to understand how and why I do things as a human. The gulf of understanding and capability between me and God is far greater than the gulf between the ant and me.

            Isaac Newton was a faithful Christian, and had many good quotes about the relationship between science and God, including this:

            "Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done."

            Newton often said that the purpose of science is to begin to understand God's creation. I agree with him.

            I often wonder that modern science has room to believe in 11 dimensions, membrane universes, and life on other planets, but no room to believe in God. I find the more I understand about science, the more support I find for God's existence.

            Faith is something that has to be experienced with an open mind. I see evidence all around for God's existence and his love for me: in my husband, my children, my friends, and my life. It does require a willingness to believe.

            I compare it to my relationship with my husband. I believe my husband loves me. I see all kinds of evidence that he loves me. I choose to accept that belief. Can I ever definitively, scientifically prove that he loves me? No.

            If I chose to nitpick, I could come up with all kinds of "evidence" that my husband is a jerk who never loved me at all. He makes mistakes just like I do. If I chose to try to disprove God's existence, I could nitpick it to death and come up with plausible evidence for that theory.

            There will never be a definitive way to prove or disprove God's existence. That's why it's called "faith".

            Thanks for asking,

            Georgia Mom

            Comment


            • SR540Beaver
              SR540Beaver commented
              Editing a comment
              Well stated! My view has developed over the years to this. I believe God exists and is the creator. Is the Earth 5000 years old and was it created in 6 days? Science says no. Could a Biblical creation day be a billon years? Sure, why not. I don't concern myself as much with the how as I do the who. I won't deny science and I won't deny God. They can and do co-exist quite nicely.

            • ThomasJefferson
              ThomasJefferson commented
              Editing a comment
              Your quotes actually work against you, I'm afraid. We can exactly explain how the planets were set in motion. And we have known that for a long, long time. As gravity begins working to pull matter together to form a star system, rotation naturally begins occurring because of the laws of momentum. The matter around the new star begins to move as gravity pulls it, and this is what sets that matter, which becomes planets, in motion.

              Perhaps if Newton had not been religious, he would have easily seen this, and humanity would be more advance today than it was then. Newton's religion was in fact a huge block to his furthering scientific research, and it stopped him from considering all possibilities.

              Newton's statement is cited by atheists as a case against religious belief because it closes the mind. Anytime God is the explanation, you've given up trying to find out the truth.

              This common religious claim that Religion and Science coexist nicely used to drive Carl Sagan crazy. He was so diplomatic, but considered these superstitions as blunting the minds of American youth to scientific inquiry, curiosity, and the advancement of the human race.

            • packsaddle
              packsaddle commented
              Editing a comment
              I can't resist. TJ, so please explain exactly what gravity is...exactly. I'm asking about gravity because that's what you mentioned. Please explain what it IS, not what it does.
              Last edited by packsaddle; 07-12-2013, 05:35 PM.

          • #8
            Jblake: Interestingly enough, Einstein identified himself as an agnostic.

            Comment


            • #9
              I do not think Herr Einstein "identified himself as an agnostic" :::.:
              ":Ich glaube an Spinozas Gott, der sich in der gesetzlichen Harmonie des Seienden offenbart, nicht an einen Gott, der sich mit Schicksalen und Handlungen der Menschen abgibt.".
              • Translation: I believe in Spinoza's God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.
              • And....."Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the "old one." I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice."

              Comment


              • packsaddle
                packsaddle commented
                Editing a comment
                Well, he was wrong about quantum mechanics. And while I never heard him play I have been told he 'sucked' at playing the violin, as if that is relevant to anything.

              • ThomasJefferson
                ThomasJefferson commented
                Editing a comment
                I don't think a public figure like Einstein or Carl Sagan were stupid enough to publicly come out and speak ardently against religion. They carefully phrased their disagreement the same way I do in public around scout buddies to prevent myself from being identified. Christians react very, very negatively to opposing viewpoints. To say, "There was no Jesus. There is no God." to a Christian is tantamount to asking your family be ostracized in a community. They knew this.

                Atheism vs. Agnosticism: There truly is no difference. Atheism is the lack of belief. Agnosticism is the indifference to the existence of God. One says they do not believe there is one. The other says they don't care if there is one because it doesn't matter if there is. Really you're just splitting hairs when you go down that road.

                That's the sort of nonsense a table filled with astro-physics majors will argue about for three hours. The same way scouters will argue about knots on their shirts or should gays be allowed.

            • #10
              I read a book that to me is one of the best books written on this topic. it is written by a rabbi who happens to be a physics professor. The book is the science of god:

              http://www.geraldschroeder.com/ScienceGod.aspx#

              Comment


              • #11
                Science is the collection of evidence, observations, experiments, and testing your ideas to see if they prove out under stress.

                Religion is just a story someone wrote.

                There is no comparison. One is a fiction book. The other is the real world.

                I am happy that I do not believe anything that is in the Bible. All of the stories in the bible are just recycled stories with different names and slight twists from earlier cultures. Very little of the Bible to me is good advice or comforting. I find most of it brutal, horrific, and scary.

                God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, but two thousand years prior was so pissed off that he nuked two cities and the surrounding areas because his creation had run amok. This speaks to an angry, flawed God with a temper who apparently cannot control man or create beings he is satisfied with. I can't remember if this is before or after this apparently non-innovative and highly flawed super being flooded the world to rid it of sin but somehow stupidly could not see that the people he saved would breed out randomly and result in there being sin again.

                The entire bible makes no sense. I read it to my kids to see if they were interested. We got through two books, and they were sitting there mouths open. "Poeple believe this nonsense?" I told them, "People do not read this nonsense. People say they read it, but really they only listen to surgically plucked phrases and quotes while never actually reading it."

                I've read the entire book cover to cover - unlike any other Christian I am aware of. Reading it as if reading a novel left me with my eyes bugging out at the goofy things I was reading and horrible advice I received.

                It's not extremism on both sides. Only religion is extreme. The rejection of it is simply to not believe it. It isn't anything. It's just a state of not purchasing the idea of a God. You are not an extremist if you don't watch TV. You are simply choosing to not watch it. Perhaps extremism on the other side would be calling for burning of churches and the banning of religion. Atheists don't really do that. We mostly ignore it and quietly tolerate religious behaviors around us without outing ourselves for fear of being judged and preached at by confused believers.

                The science of God is simple. People saw scary things, attributed thunder, lightning, comets, etc to Gods. Then a smart guy in the tribe saw opportunity and became the "priest" as a way of taking power without being chosen. If the chief was uncooperative, the medicine man said "The Gods have spoken. He is evil!" It's still done today by people claiming that God wants this and that when really it is just them who wants it.

                I was raised with religion. I am happier and my children are happier in a home with no ghosts, no alien abductions, no bigfoot, no lochness monster, and no God.

                This chart shows that the US is alone except for the third world in its religious fervor:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ga...Index_2009.png

                Here's a study showing that as a nation's average IQ goes up, the tendency toward atheism in the population also increases:

                http://davesource.com/Fringe/Fringe/...Lynn-et-al.pdf

                The chart from that study:

                http://hypnosis.home.netcom.com/iq_vs_religiosity.htm

                There are well-studied links between growing up conservative and growing up with lower intelligence and fewer resources:

                http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/0...r-counterparts

                I believe religion is something that humans still feel they need, but eventually will just outgrow. No earth-bound religion will survive the arrival of a superior alien species or man's spreading out through space to other worlds. Once all of the events in the bible are easily explained with technology we possess ourselves, it's no longer going to interest anyone. It's all just a matter of time.
                Last edited by ThomasJefferson; 07-11-2013, 09:46 PM.

                Comment


                • ThomasJefferson
                  ThomasJefferson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  the majority of 'good' ideas that scientists have had over the centuries have turned out to be wrong.
                  That's factually incorrect - what you see as a flaw is in reality its strength!!! Science was always wrong before and will be wrong again? Not exactly. Scientific ideas are proposed, tested, observed, experimented with. As we learn more, we expand our knowledge, and the idea is clarified, additional detail is added, and the explanations improve over time.

                  Example: We once thought the Universe was 7 billion years old. We now have better technology and analysis and know it is at least 13.7 billion years old. We weren't wrong before. We knew it was AT LEAST 7 billion years old. We now have a new, bigger number that we know is AT LEAST the age of the universe. We could learn next year through some new means that it is AT LEAST 70 billion years old.

                  But, that is probably not going to happen, as in recent years we've uncovered the remains of background radiation of the universe reaching it's outer edges - we think. But we only think that. We don't say we know it. We say "It looks that way - we need more information."

                  Religious "knowledge" never says that. It is never questioned, changed, refined, improved, tested. Rather, religion just keeps on keeping on being nothing.

                  Look around you. What do you see? Electronic devices? Cars? Roads? Houses? Bridges? Lights? Cameras? Phones? All produced by science? What has religion produced that shows it works and that we know how it works?

                  Nothing. What evidence is there that any religion has any facts in it? None. There are no facts in religion.

                  While I congratulate anyone who seeks to morally better themselves, I would point out that morals are largely cultural constructs, and that they change with the times. The first commandment tells you to not make any image of anything ever. You are using a computer. You are breaking that commandment.

                  If you are female, you are violating Timothy 2:11.

                  "Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)"

                  Are you going to put me to death? God commands it. Oh wait, no, your morals don't come from the Bible? Or do they?

                  This statement is right alongside others you find comforting.

                  I submit to you that scientists are comfortable with their ideas being reviewed, corrected, found wrong, and going back to the drawing board.

                  But what religious leaders do is pick and choose what they like and ignore the rest.

                • packsaddle
                  packsaddle commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Heh, heh, from your later comment, "Simple physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you help someone, that's what you get back. Call it karma or whatever." I'm fairly certain that if this is your idea of how physics structures social interactions, you have a profoundly flawed understanding of human behavior as well as flawed understanding of physics, especially if you think physics can be compared to "karma or whatever", lol. But I guess you DID refer to it as 'simple' physics.



                  So show me the 'facts' about how the majority of scientific ideas have been correct. Be sure to enumerate all the failed hypotheses that were rejected during experiments and led to whatever current understanding we have. If what you claim is true, then there should be fewer rejected hypotheses than 'accepted' ones. So show me the 'facts'. And remember, the failures usually don't make it to publication. Everyone of my colleagues whom I've known over the years have had the opposite experience to what you claim. This has been particularly true for my field.

                  Edit: OK, so it's evident that you're not going to meet my challenge. So I'll add something else. Here is an actual scientific paper which also supports my claim: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/...l.pmed.0020124
                  I remember when it came out back in 2005 and it made a strong impression at that time. At first I was incredulous but when I dug into the idea, I began to appreciate how many bad ideas we've had over the centuries. I suspect things haven't reversed during the ensuing 8 years or so. The author made a sufficiently credible study of the idea that most of us, on reflection, have to shrug and admit that he has a point. More to the point, however, is an acerbic statement made in 2010 by another observer who responded to the Ioannidis paper: "Summary: Yes, that is the conclusion from a remarkably large body of research. Bad news for those who consider science a religion (at least when it agrees with their beliefs)."
                  Worth considering the possibility, I think.
                  Last edited by packsaddle; 07-14-2013, 04:01 PM.

                • Sentinel947
                  Sentinel947 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thomas Jefferson, lets start with the fact that everything I say will be dismissed because your atheism is far more intellectually superior to anything my pea sized mind can comprehend.

                  Some Christians, myself being one of them, believe that Science and Religion are compatible. Science tells me how I live, how the world around me works, and how to improve my life and the lives of others. But Science cannot inform me as to why I live. What is my purpose? What should I do with my life? Religion does that.

                  Look at all the scientific inventions that were created by Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other very religious scientists. Maybe even many of the devices and inventions you listed.

                  Where does your Secular Humanistic beliefs have any facts in them? Simply put, your argument is full of straw. You are creating a false dichotomy of Religion vs Science, so that you can use the appeal of Scientific fact against religious beliefs you despise.

                  In the end you use the "All religious people are hypocrites, and therefore I'm right" argument. To give you a bit of theological background, The Old Testament is the law of the Jewish religion. Christians study it because it is of historical relevance to us, and some of our beliefs come from it. However Jesus, in the New Testament, is the fufillment of Jewish laws. Some of those Jewish laws he does away with, while others he reaffirms. Your blanket suggestion that all religious people are hypocrites is another straw fallacy. Where you create a position for all people, so you can hammer a concept, irregardless of the actual facts as to what some religious people believe.

                  For example ""Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)" Old Testament.

                  Jesus frequently argued with the Pharisees in the New Testament. Jesus did not smite them all down for being arrogant enough to reject Jesus's judgment.

                  And since when is a computer a graven image? Do I worship a computer? What kind of argument is that? Where'd you get that one? That's not the highly educated logic I'd expect from someone looking to bash down on the "evils" of religion.

                  This does not follow with the summary of your rant. "I submit to you that scientists are comfortable with their ideas being reviewed, corrected, found wrong, and going back to the drawing board." Which while being idealy true, is not always true. Scientists who proposed Global warming early on were ridiculed.

                  In closing I love Science. I love God. I don't view them as being idelogically separate. I'm sure you will disagree. That's your choice, but at least it's not scientific fact.

                  Respectfully yours.

                  Sentinel

              • #12
                Originally posted by ThomasJefferson View Post
                I am happy that I do not believe anything that is in the Bible. All of the stories in the bible are just recycled stories with different names and slight twists from earlier cultures. Very little of the Bible to me is good advice or comforting. I find most of it brutal, horrific, and scary.
                Actually, that is how I became an atheist. Around age 12, about a year after having been baptized, I decided that I needed to get serious about this religion business. So I started to read the Bible. Pretty soon, I realized that I quite literally could not believe what I was reading. Well, since I couldn't believe what I was supposed to as a Christian, then it was time for me to leave.

                That was half a century ago. I'm not sure how far I had gotten, but I'm pretty sure that I had not gotten to the part where Lot's daughters got him drunk so that they could rape him, because a pre-adolescent boy would not have forgotten that! And, of course, I had proceeded from a very possibly false premise, that my church would have required a literal interpretation of the Bible. That particular element came nearly a century later, when the "Jesus Freak Movement" suddenly swelled the ranks of fundamentalist Christianity circa 1970. By that time, as a "fellow traveller" (like McCarthyism's "fellow travellers" of Communism that they sought to ferret out), I learned a lot about fundamentalist Christian beliefs and realized to my very great relief what a wonderfully correct decision I had made to be an atheist.

                Originally posted by ThomasJefferson View Post
                The entire bible makes no sense. I read it to my kids to see if they were interested. We got through two books, and they were sitting there mouths open. "Poeple believe this nonsense?" I told them, "People do not read this nonsense. People say they read it, but really they only listen to surgically plucked phrases and quotes while never actually reading it."
                I have heard an explanation for this and it brings us right back around to the "Jesus Freak Movement". Traditionally -- and I mean back to the turn of the last century, around 1900 -- , Fundamentalists and Baptists (not necessarily the same thing back then; that changed circa the late 1970's) pretty much kept to themselves. You were pretty much born into the faith and studied the Bible your entire life. That meant that there was a study plan for each individual that spanned multiple decades. Then circa 1970, there came the "Jesus Freak Movement." 1960's hippies burned out on drugs suddenly "got hooked on Jesus" (a catch-phrase of the time). Suddenly, small fundamentalist churches saw their numbers soar overnight and they became mega-churches; our local example in Orange County, Calif, was Chuck Smith's small Calvary Chapel on the corner of Greenville and Sunflower in Santa Ana, which grew to a circus tent in a vacant field at Fairview and Sunflower, which became buildings and a Christian high school built in that vacant field.

                The problem is that this religion called for many years of Bible study, but now you had most of the congregation unschooled in the Bible and needing to be brought up-to-speed very fast. Which is what happened. So instead of careful methodical Bible study, everybody had to be given a crash course. What replaced the normal course of Bible study was a system of telling them what the beliefs were and here are the isolated verses to support that.

                Now, there was a very long Baptist tradition leading up to this point. Actually, it goes back to the Reformation. In the Catholic Church, the priest told you what the Bible said. For the first millennium, lay-persons weren't even allowed to try to read the Bible for themselves (literacy disregarded) and there are stories, possibly true or not, of punishments meted out to those Catholics who dared to try to read the Bible for themselves. But with the Protestant Reformation, it now became the duty of Protestants to read the Bible for themselves. When BBC TV journalist James Burke treated this issue in his Connections series, he pointed to the art work in the churches. Catholic churches had very vivid artwork depicting the stories from the Bible. But that wasn't artwork, but rather learning. You had all the lessons memorized, so the artwork would remind you of a particular Bible story and that would trigger your memory of the actual story. In contrast, the Protestant Reformation was coincident with Guttenberg's printing press -- for that matter, it has been argued that Martin Luther's 99 Theses would have remained local had someone not have used a Guttenberg press to run off immense copies to distribute throughout Europe. The primary difference in the Protestant Reformation was that everybody was expected to read the Bible for themselves. Certainly, this marked the start of the modern German language, since it was based on Martin Luther's translation of the Bibel into German -- instead of just using Latin terms, he translated the Latin stems into their German equivalents -- (eg, express became Ausdruck and impress became Eindruck, words that are still used in German today). But you also saw it in the "artwork" in the Protestant churches, in that there was no longer any artwork. You didn't need to be reminded of the stories of the Bible, since all you had to do was to read them for yourself. In another note, the first Sunday Schools were intended mainly to teach members of the congregation of all ages how to read so that they could read the Bible.

                Originally posted by ThomasJefferson View Post
                I've read the entire book cover to cover - unlike any other Christian I am aware of. Reading it as if reading a novel left me with my eyes bugging out at the goofy things I was reading and horrible advice I received.
                And I trust that you also could see where the same stories were being told over and over again.

                Admittedly, I have not made it through the Old Testament, nor at the age of 61 do I feel inclined to (not when I have so much to write about BSA and about network programming). But I did read through the New Testament a couple times through. I have also read thePirke Avoth ("Sayings of the Fathers", part of the Talmudic tradition). I found the teachings of Jesus himself rather good, especially when he agreed with the Pharisees (spirit of the law vs the letter of the law, especially regarding the Golden Rule), but Paul's reinterpretation of Jesus into The Christ was very troubling and, most unfortunately, that is what Christianity is based on.

                Originally posted by ThomasJefferson View Post
                People saw scary things, attributed thunder, lightning, comets, etc to Gods. Then a smart guy in the tribe saw opportunity and became the "priest" as a way of taking power without being chosen. If the chief was uncooperative, the medicine man said "The Gods have spoken. He is evil!" It's still done today by people claiming that God wants this and that when really it is just them who wants it.
                Tja! (please pardon my German -- there is an almost completely horrid movie, "Iron Sky", about Nazis on the far side of the moon, but then so much of the dialog is in German, though in one scene where all kinds of weird stuff is happening and a black astronaut from earth whom the Nazis had "albinocized" (Ich vergesse wie man das auf Deutch ausdruckte) could do nothing more than to say, "Na ja!")

                An opportunist priest could make sense, but in reality there was a very real social purpose served by the priest. In our modern society where we have some scientific knowledge, a opportunistic priest would be such a charlatan. But in the ancient societies, he would have served a very real purpose. But let us move ahead a couple/few millennia to the mystery religions. These had a secret teaching in their "Inner Temple" that was known only to those initiated into the mystery, while most of the celebrants were part of the "Outer Temple" where all the religion's teachings were presented to them in the form of obstruse symbols and [parables whose meanings were not known to the masses, but rather only to the initiates "who had eyes to see and ears to hear." Does that sound at all familiar from Mark? Where Jesus taught in parables so that the multitude could hear but comprehend not. And then he drew the disciplines off to the side to explain to them the "mysteries of heaven". Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

                Originally posted by ThomasJefferson View Post
                I was raised with religion. I am happier and my children are happier in a home with no ghosts, no alien abductions, no bigfoot, no lochness monster, and no God.
                About a decade ago, I had a lunch with a friend from church. He had been a fundamentalist Christian for many years. He described how he had to live each day of his life, surrounded by so many things that directly contradicted his fundamentalist Christian beliefs. He described how he had to every day turn a blind eye to all those things, to try in vain to deny that they existed. That sheer amount of denial is a very heavy burden to have to carry and eventually it became too much. One day, he decided to apply the Matthew 7:20 Test to Christianity -- "by their fruits, you will know them". Yes, there were some things that Christianity did right, but then there were also so many things that it did completely wrong. As a result, my friend became "a complete atheist and a thorough humanist" and as a result he says that he is now so much happier and so much spiritually fulfilled than he ever was before as a Christian.

                Originally posted by ThomasJefferson View Post
                I believe religion is something that humans still feel they need, but eventually will just outgrow. No earth-bound religion will survive the arrival of a superior alien species or man's spreading out through space to other worlds. Once all of the events in the bible are easily explained with technology we possess ourselves, it's no longer going to interest anyone. It's all just a matter of time.
                So many think that religion is about finding answers, but that is not true.

                Religions is about seeking answers. More specifically, religion is about finding the right questions to ask.

                Os as our minister preached, the ultimate religious question is, "How, then, am I to live my life?"

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                • ThomasJefferson
                  ThomasJefferson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  "How, then, am I to live my life?"

                  Kill Homosexuals
                  "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

                  Kill Witches
                  You should not let a sorceress live. (Exodus 22:17 NAB)

                  Death for Hitting Dad
                  Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

                  Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God
                  Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him." (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

                  Apparently that is how you are to live your life.

                  Science is not an answer to how to live your life. It is the method through which we explore the universe and try to understand how it works and why.

                  However, science does explain why people want to life a "good life." Because of evolution. We evolved into social animals. And social animals all have interdependencies, that when violated, lead to the death of the tribe. You don't need religion to tell you it is wrong to steal. You know it is wrong to steal. Because when you steal, the pack/tribe/troop/herd attacks you and punishes you for it.

                  If you got rid of all of the religions of the world, and wiped everyone's memories, a new religion would be crafted up. I believe that. Would that religion look anything like religion today?

                  No. That's all I need to know that religion is just a story. Religions are invented by people.

              • #13


                There are only 4 options in life:

                1) I believe and there is a God. - Well in that case I have it made in the shade.
                2) I believe and there is no God - In that case I've wasted a lot of time and energy in this life, except maybe I was a bit more "moral/ethical" than I would not normally have been.
                3) I don't believe and there is no God - It's a wash, life was good/bad or indifferent, but that's all there is to it.
                4) I don't believe and there is a God - I'm screwed.

                Everyone takes their chances. How's it working out for you?

                Take all the scientific knowledge we possess and lump it all together and still the human mind has no idea of how this masterfully intricate existence has coincidentally came into being. There is far more we don't know than what we do, scientifically. Our high-tech medical knowledge/practices will be barbaric 200 years from now just as it was 200 years ago.
                Science is not the journey, it is only a wayside along the route.

                If I have a balloon in my hand, one can never scientifically tell if it will rise up, float away or fall to the ground until AFTER they have analyzed, probed, and tested it. Well we have not yet been able to analyze, probe and test everything everywhere. Until then one has to place their faith in what I say the balloon will do.


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                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Well, feel free to write your book anyway you want, after all it's your book.

                  Welll then knowledge is also a useless term in your dictionary as well. Like any theory, myth, story, or whatever you wish to use, if it's not proven, it is an accepted belief. Once it is provable then it moves from believing it true to knowing it is true.

                • Merlyn_LeRoy
                  Merlyn_LeRoy commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I don't use a binary system of true/false belief. I can hold beliefs as "possibly true" or "almost certainly true" or "maybe true but from a dubious source" or "probably false" and all kinds of shaded truth values. That's why I disagree with your statement that "Belief is something that someone accepts as true even when complete knowledge is not available" because I often don't accept something as "true" but as a more complex truth value.

                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  It's called fuzzy logic.

                  Scoop up a handful of sand. You now have a handful of sand. Take off one grain. Do you still have a handful of sand? One can argue the point endlessly and never draw a conclusion one way or another. Not very scientific, but most people will believe you still have a handful of sand, but you can fool the people if you don't tell them what you did.

              • #14
                TJ, Science is infinitely deep and always changing. What is true today will not be true tomorrow. But science has little guidance on how people should interact. One of the most important holidays in my religion deals with atonement and forgiveness. Spread throughout my bible is the concept of human dignity and how it can trump all of the harsh rules you complain about. Science does not give any hint on how to balance our selfish and selfless nature (high adventure and service?), my religion does. My religion encourages prayer and that creates calmness and other healthy benefits (scientifically proven, by the way). My religion also recognizes that character is a skill and it requires constant practice (Scout Slogan?). Science doesn't talk much about these things.

                That's not to say that any religion doesn't have its problems. Where it falls down, and it appears to me that this is where you're unhappy with it, is when the religious take it upon themselves to, let's say, encourage others to follow them. This can be extreme, such as at gun point, or passive aggressive, as in complaining that you don't pray correctly, or even among the Boy Scouts that require you to have some faith. I stay away from the guns and ignore the rest. What's left is a vast collection of wonderful ideas and stories that I can learn from. I don't read them as history or science. Just one example: The number 7 in the Bible means something is good. So, the universe was not created in 7 days, but it was a good thing. One thing about my religion that I am absolutely, positively clear about, is that I will never have all the answers.

                To be honest, TJ, you've insulted the vast majority of the population with what you wrote. I doubt that was your intent. As you said, you quietly suck it up and maybe you're tired of doing that. I suck it up every time someone asks me to remove my hat to pray, I don't, and they glare at me like I'm some sort of hideous atheist (just joking). Someone on this forum once said that religion and spiritual insight is a journey and it's different for a lot of people. Wise words. I wish you the best in your journey. At the same time, I hope you can respect mine.

                Comment


                • MattR
                  MattR commented
                  Editing a comment
                  TJ, you're just looking for a fight. I'm looking for consensus. That's incompatible. So let's end it.

                  I've now started a fight with both extremes in this forum. Is there a knot for that? Maybe it should be black and blue.

                • ThomasJefferson
                  ThomasJefferson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You state your opinion, and it is looking for consensus.

                  I state my opinion, and it is looking for a fight.

                  See how that works?

                  One day, in the future, I believe people will recognize what they were doing was wrong, and will stop attempting to silence atheist belief and expression as an attack when they realize that religious expression and belief are just as much an attack as it is.

                  Either that, or they will silence all on either side for the sake of silence. That would be sad.

                • MattR
                  MattR commented
                  Editing a comment
                  My opinion is that there are multiple opinions, different things work for different people, and they should all be accepted. If it didn't come across that way then my apologies.

              • #15
                MattR, first there's no way you can possibly know for sure what drives T.J. to write what he writes or to react the way he seems to react. What you can know for sure is how you react to him. If he seems to you to be just as absolutely certain about his 'beliefs' as a fundamentalist Christian is of the literal truth of the Bible, then that hardly makes him anything more than 'human' doesn't it? You too? All of us?

                Comment


                • MattR
                  MattR commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Pack, that's the wrong question for me. What I'd like to know is how can the fundamentalist Christian and the atheist find a spot for each other within the BSA? If we can answer that then the BSA would drop off the culture war radar and be seen for what it is.

                  My approach is failing. I'm open for suggestions. In the meantime, I'm going to buy some fishing gear.

                • ThomasJefferson
                  ThomasJefferson commented
                  Editing a comment
                  The road is already paved: Do scouting as they do it in the UK.
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