God’s work?

I sure as hell don’t think so.

The highest court in the United Methodist Church yesterday defrocked a lesbian minister in Philadelphia and reinstated a Virginia pastor who had been suspended for denying a gay man membership in his congregation.

The nine-member Judicial Council also rejected a declaration by Methodists in the Pacific Northwest that there is a “difference of opinion among faithful Christians regarding sexual orientation and practice.” The court said the declaration was a “historical statement without prescriptive force” and had no bearing on church laws.

  • Angelos

    Rabble rabble hate hate!!

  • Angelos

    ShakesSis asks what’s wrong with conservatives:

    Anyway, The New Yorker introduces 1996 novel called The Apprentice by none other than recently indicted scumbag, Scooter Libby, as another in a series of questionable novels by prominent conservatives, and notes:

    “Like his predecessors, Libby does not shy from the scatological. The narrative makes generous mention of lice, snot, drunkenness, bad breath, torture, urine, “turds,” armpits, arm hair, neck hair, pubic hair, pus, boils, and blood (regular and menstrual). One passage goes, “At length he walked around to the deer’s head and, reaching into his pants, struggled for a moment and then pulled out his penis. He began to piss in the snow just in front of the deer’s nostrils.” ”

    Eugh. And it gets worse. The passage “He asked if they should fuck the deer.” is quoted, to which, The New Yorker notes, “The answer, reader, is yes.” And then there are the old stand-bys of conservative fiction writers:

    Homoeroticism and incest also figure as themes. The main female character, Yukiko, draws hair on the “mound” of a little girl. The brothers of a dead samurai have sex with his daughter. Many things glisten (mouths, hair, evergreens), quiver (a “pink underlip,” arm muscles, legs), and are sniffed (floorboards, sheets, fingers).

    Perhaps the most disturbing, however, is this passage:

    “At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest. ”

    What kind of mind comes up with this shit, dreams up scenarios where children are raped by animals to train them in prostitution? Oh, right. A conservative one. One that has toiled under a lifetime of repression, and spent its time dreaming up legislation designed to control the sexual freedom of women and gays. It isn’t enough that men like Scooter Libby must repress their own sexualities; they have to oppress anyone who doesn’t succumb to exhortations to do the same.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    One joins a religion voluntarily (at least after the age of consent).
    Thus if one doesn’t like the rules of the religion one is free to leave. I don’t understand why people continue to belong to an organization that doesn’t represent their beliefs.

    A marjority of Catholics in the US use birth control and a fair percentage support abortion, yet they stick with the church and complain about it. Why?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Who’s to say what the Methodist Church should and should not tolerate? It’s a matter of custom. Look at the Catholic Church – priests don’t marry. They deny themselves a fundamental natural need to express affection physically, yet preach to married couples as to how they should lead their married lives. Bonkers you might say, but nevertheless a tradition that has endured for countless generations.

  • http://www.jobasto.com jobs search

    i will say shut down all Curches and thats it ;-)

  • paladin

    Those who believe that homosexuality is a sacred rite can become Episcopalians. It’s a free country people, if you don’t like what your church teaches, you are free to join another, or none at all. We don’t have state sponsored religion here, no matter what the liberals say.Those who huff and puff about what this church or that church teach are just morally vain. Get over it and move on.

  • Mike

    So Jeff, who gets to decide certain religious policy if the high court of said religion can not?? You?

    Last I checked one is not subject to forcible teachings or following of a certain religion.

  • http://www.laurencehaughton.com laurence haughton

    Noel
    If I remember right Mark Spitz’s swimming coach didn’t swim. Equally bonkers? He won 7 gold medals with that bonkers coaching.

    Also I’ve been told sex is not the only physical way to express affection. Repeatedly.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com Tish Grier

    For the most part, Church structure is meant to encourage families and keep communities of families together. Dealing with issues of homosexuality is new to every single denomination out there, and for secular society to put pressure on churches to change according to the rhythums of society (which are often like children leaping into mudpuddles) is myopic.

    Churches will wrestle with the question of homosexuality because of what underpins churches–both the New and Old Testament. Jesus had no firm teachings on sexual orientation because it wasn’t an issue in his time as it is in ours. And while the Old Testament does indeed have very strong teachings about homosexuality, some of those teachings, such as those about the Sin of Onan, are questionable. Further, with the Old Testament, it can be debated that some of its teachings are merely the Laws of the Hebrews and should not foreshadow the teachings of Jesus….this is only a fraction of what churches wrestle with. Couple it with the teachings of most sect leaders–John Calvin, John Wesley, George Fox, Joseph Smith–and you’ve got a real philosophical stew to muddle with!

    As for Scooter Libby’s perverse writings–well, they do sort of follow the vein of one of the world’s most famous philosopher reprobates, the Marquis de Sade. Perversity, though, is an expression of something more than just political or sexual orientation, and tells us a heck of alot about the secular world more than it does about liberals or conservatives. Think of it this way: in most perverse fictions, including Libby’s, people are commodities. They are objectified, trained and traided to suit the needs of individuals who have decided their fates. The world of Perversity is a world of Men who have decided they are Gods on earth and have the Divine Right to exploit others to suit their appetites for sex, money, and power. There is no freedom, love, or compassion in the underground worlds of perversity.

  • the dude

    Am I on the air?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Laurence, I like that story and hope there’ll always be exceptions.

    Sex may not be the only way to express affection, but I think it is a natural and necessary one. As for those other physical ways of repeatedly expressing physical affection that do not directly involve sex … priests have gotten into trouble for that before.

    I’m joking of course. I show affection to my children physically. I cuddle them and so on, but I do think it’s unnatural for an adult to resist the normal impulse to enjoy sex with another adult. It’s part of life, as much a part of life as eating or sleeping or washing or expanding your mind.

    That said, I wouldn’t insist the Catholic church force their priests to marry or have flings with arbitrary adults. If they want to remain celibate, well that’s their custom. I can think it’s bonkers and my solution to the whole thing is not to become a Catholic priest.

    And if you are a lesbian and wish to become a priest, as per an earlier commenter, leave the Methodists and join the Episcopalians. And if you don’t want to celebrate Christmas or birthdays or anniversaries, or have any fun in your life, become a Jehovah’s Witness. And when you die you can enter the lottery to become one of the 166,000 or whatever Jehovah’s Witnesses who get to go to heaven. Vegetarian? Try Hinduism. Or become a Hare Krisna. For those of you who like more obscure cults, there are thousands that will take your money, shelter you and never let you leave.

    That’s one of the great things about religion … there’s always something for everyone.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Tish, I agree that the thing with Libby has nothing to do with being a conservative or a liberal, but entirely to do with his mind.

    I’d like to point out though that virtue is not the sole preserve of churches. Throughout history you can find as much perversity in churches as you can in the secular world.

    I’m a family man and I’m a family man not because my church taught me to or because I’m afraid God is watching. I’m a family man because I love my wife and my children and our home.

    Being secular doesn’t automatically mean you are perverse anymore than saying you walk with Jesus automatically means you are virtuous.

  • newc

    Certainly not necessary.

  • greg

    Actually, Ms. Grier, sexual orientation was very much a significant issue in Jesus time. If you read the New Testament you would know that. Your words echo an argument that is a favorite at gay parades and rallies. Invariably, when the gay Christian movement is represented, someone in their group will hold up a sign saying, WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY: ______________. The idea, of course, is that if Jesus didn’t specifically forbid a behavior, then the behavior mustn’t have been important to him. Stretching the point further, you assume if Jesus wasn’t manifestly concerned about something, we needn’t be, either.

    The idea of a subject being unimportant just because it wasn’t mentioned by Jesus is foreign to the gospel writers themselves. At no point did Matthew, Mark, Luke or John say their books should be elevated above the Torah or, for that matter, any writings yet to come. In other words, the gospels – and the teachings they contain – are not more important than the rest of the Bible. All scripture is given by inspiration of God. The same spirit inspiring the authors of the Gospels also inspired the men who wrote the rest of the Bible.

    You assume the gospels are more comprehensive than they really are. Not only are the gospels no more authoritative than the rest of scripture, they are not comprehensive, either. That is, they don’t provide all we need to know by way of doctrine and practical instruction. Some of the Bible’s most important teachings, in fact, don’t appear in the gospels:
    — The doctrine of man’s old and new nature (outlined by Paul in Romans 6);
    — The future of Israel and the mystery of the Gentiles (hinted at by Christ but explained more fully in Romans 9 11);
    — The explanation and management of the spiritual gifts (detailed in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14);
    — The Priesthood of Christ (illustrated in Hebrews).

    All of these appear after the accounts of Christ’s life, death and resurrection (and I haven’t even mentioned the entire Old Testament). Why would you imply that none of these doctrines are important because they were not mentioned by Jesus?

    Or, put another way, Ms. Grier, do you really believe that Jesus didn’t care about wife beating or incest, just because he said nothing about them? Aren’t the prohibitions against incest in Leviticus and 1 Corinthians, as well as Paul’s admonition to husbands to love their wives, enough to instruct us in these matters without being mentioned in the gospels? There are any number of evil behaviors that Christ didn’t mention by name; surely you don’t condone them for that reason alone. Similarly, Jesus’ silence on homosexuality in no way negates the very specific prohibitions against it which appear elsewhere, in both Old and New Testaments.

    You also presume to know all of what Jesus said. The gospels don’t profess to be a complete account of Jesus’ life or teachings. Whole sections of His early years are omitted; much of what he did and said remains unknown.

    Luke wrote his gospel so Theophilus would “know the certainty of those things wherein he had been instructed” (Lk 1:4). John’s motives are broader: “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing, you might have life through His name” (Jn 20:31). But none of these authors suggested they were recording all of Christ’s words. John, in fact, said that would have been impossible (Jn 21:25).

    If that’s the case, Ms. Grier, how can you be certain he said nothing about homosexuality? No one can say, though there are other equally important subjects left unmentioned in the gospels, but expounded on in detail in other books of the Bible. Homosexuality, while absent from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, is conspicuously present in both testaments and, just as conspicuously, it’s forbidden.

    You also assume that because Jesus said nothing specific about homosexuality, he said nothing about heterosexuality as a standard. Jesus referred in the most specific of terms to God’s created intent for human sexuality: “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mk 10:6 9).

    In this passage, Jesus was presented with a hypothetical question: Is divorce lawful? Instead of giving a simple yes or no, he referred to Genesis and, more specifically, to created intent as the standard by which to judge sexual matters. By repeating the Genesis account, he emphasizes four elements of the created intent for marriage and sexual relating. Independence was one – a man was to leave his own home to establish his own family with his wife; a “one flesh” sexual union was another; and, of course, monogamy. But the first element of created intent Jesus stressed was the complimentary factor: it was to be a union of male and female, man and wife.

    Granted, Ms. Grier, homosexuality may not have been mentioned by Jesus – many other sexual variations weren’t, either. But he couldn’t have spelled out the standard for sexual expression more clearly: male to female, joined as God intended them to be. He cannot be assumed to have approved of anything less.

  • Donna Simmons

    I was raised in the Methodist church. The consistant message in my church was a celebration of ones personal relationship with God as it related to ones own life. There were no rigid doctrines and fire and brimstone were not hurled at the congregation from the pulpit every or any Sunday. Homosexuality never came up, either pro or con. Our church organist was an openly gay man. The defrocking of this Philadelphia minister was the first I realized that my church had such policies. I’m not so proud to be a Methodist any more, but I’m not ready to abandon the church that taught me to be tolerent, acccepting and welcoming to all souls. I pray that they will realize how un-Christian this intolerance is.

  • Eileen

    Hello, Donna,

    I was also raised a Methodist and ditto re all of your early comments. Jeff’s efforts to paint this brand of Christianity as halefire and brimstones ain’t gonna cut the mustard. People know better.

    I no longer call myself a ‘Methodist’. In fact, I became an agnostic for 30 some years before I became a spiritualist…..broadly expansive and accepting of all faiths/beliefs in the Divine which aren’t based in darkness. Most importantly, I’ve come to know ISLAM as a dark faith, and it is therefore no longer ‘acceptable’ to me.

    I am torn regarding homosexuality. On the one hand, I could give a flying fig what two Adults wish to do with each other as long as one isn’t harming the other.

    On the other hand, after many years of friendships with gays……..and hearing their ‘tales’, which always seem to focus on evangelical entreaties to become gay like them, or ‘share’ my (ex) husband (who, you know, they ‘knew’ was really, really gay like them, because all of us are really gay when it comes right down to it)….and after recognizing that the gay community is really akin to Shakers because they’ll all end up in the same place; i.e.: DEAD, unless they go through very contrived means to implant eggs or adopt or or or or or………I’ve come to *really* believe that homosexuality is unnatural. It has nothing to do with religion.

    I think it’s unnatural. So more power to the Methodist church for putting its foot down in the direction of NOT fostering it. As Noel and others have said, To Each in their search for religious customs and dogma which work for them.

    Beyond that, who really cares? Ten minutes ago I turned on the tv to Boston Legal to find a guy in a pink, fluffy costume…quick click and it was gone – out of my face – just as quickly.

    The media are sicko. And those who push homosexuality or ARE homosexuals? I haven’t yet met one who I didn’t observe to have some screws loose (literally and figuratively). To each their own; kindly just don’t shove your *whatever* down my throat in the process.. And don’t presume your homosexuality is *THE WAY* to goodness and light.

    Are homosexuals part and parcel of the Divine? I’m sure they are. It is not for me to judge, yet it is also not for me to have those who would end the human race, much like the Shakers, determine ‘the way’ forward, either via the media or any church or…

    And I am indeed, curious. Why is the media such a magnet for gays? Did someone pass a memo?

  • http://ruthcalvo ruth

    Curioser and curioser. Not only, why exclude practicing gays and not, say, spouse abusers? But also – Is there any scripture that this is based on? As noted in an earlier post, Jesus didn’t have anything to say about the acceptance or non- of gays. But he did enjoin the rabble (thanks Angelos) that whoever was without sin to cast the first stone, when they were about to stone a woman taken in adultery. Note, nobody suggested stoning the man (we assume) involved? Jesus talked a lot about the unholy nature of the church of his time, and said ‘you have made my Father’s house a den of thieves’, certainly a timely note.

    Isn’t it a message about the anti-gay campaign so prominent in the ‘religious’ right wing, that it is not based on Jesus’ teachings, and Jesus informed them that he came to fulfill the scriptures? Wouldn’t this be a good time to ‘be about his Father’s business’?

  • Bill Henry

    The Republicans are probably correct, in a biblical sense, about condemning homosexuality. Although their super hero Jesus Christ, AKA The Prince of Peace, says nothing directly about the subject, maybe we can deduce his position from his alleged statements: Luke 19:27- But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me……Matthew 10:34- Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household…..Luke 12:47-And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes…..Luke 14:26-If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple……..The evidence is in! Obviously he would hate gays and want ‘em put to death. God said it, We believe it. That settles it! Thank you Jesus!

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    For those of you who like engaging in theological discussion I suggest a visit to the Sam Harris forums.

    You will find lots of threads discussing issues of religious dogma as well as the interaction of organized religion and politics.

    The link:
    http://www.samharris.org/forum/index.php

    (For those who are not familiar, Sam Harris is the author of the current book “The End of Faith”).

  • Bill Henry

    Be careful of that Harris guy! He uses reason, logic, and factual evidence, with plenty of common sense thrown in the mix! Word on the street is he beat up pretty badly on the twin sisters Faith and Fable. I think he may be charged with the crime of blasphemy fairly soon. He’s not to be trused around decent god-fearing Americans!

  • lonesome loon

    The ACLU will target him you can bet they will want him removed they will take action aganst the church with the help of our imperial courts

  • Lynn

    Bill, I am not well versed in the Bible, but even I can recognize that parable meaning some would choose Christ and some would reject him, and families of the times would become split over it.

    The one of Luke 14:26 speaks of death to self and selfishness. These are parables. They are not literal.

    Christ hated sin. He never hated any sinner, then or now. Christ never
    preached to commit violence or death.

    I don’t have time to go one by one, but even at quick glance….the Luke 19:27 startes out even STATING it is a parable! The story Jesus told was about a man and his servants and the words you’ve quoted were the words from the mouth of a character in the story.

    You, Bill, either completely misunderstand the New Testament and the parables, or have deliberately blasphemed and distorted God’s word by taking them out context.

  • Lynn

    Re: the original topic of JJ post.

    If homosexuality is a sin, a practicing homosexual Reverend has no more business in the pulpit I would think, than a Reverend actively and openly keeping a mistress.

    Just like the rest of us, all Reverends sin. But aren’t Reverends in the pulpit expected to lead by giving the example of at least trying to live according to God’s Word?

    Would not engaging an ongoing lifestyle plainly against God’s Word, reasonably disqualify either a practicing homosexual Rev. or a Rev. whose lifestyle indicated it was OK to keep a mistress, of leadership of others in the keeping of God’s Word?

  • Amaud

    Actually the word hate, or miseo in greek, can mean “to love less.” So the verse may instead be implying that those who do not love Jesus greater than their father, mother, etc., are not worthy to be disciples. In the context of the aforementioned religious text, one would have to hold to Jesus’ teachings above other ideals, otherwise the force of such a beliefs as a system of doctrinal living would be for naught. Furthermore, the following verse contains the words ‘come after me,’ so the preceding verse – when understood contextually – appears to say love Jesus greater than one would love family, friends, or self. Obviously, this is aimed at those who are seeking to believe in such doctrines.

  • Lynn

    Arnaud, … You explained it far better.

  • Bill Henry

    Lynn, I knew that some apologist would come out of the woodwork to defend the indefensible! Didn’t you know that blasphemy is a victimless crime?

  • Lynn

    Bill….It’s true that it isn’t God that will be the victim.

  • W.J. Jones

    Mr. Henry says to “be careful of that Harris guy” for using “reason, logic, and factual evidence.”

    Hmmmm….My wife and I stood beneath the stars this week to watch for shooting stars. It was overwhelming to look up into the blackness and see stars so far away that no mortal man will EVER reach them. I feel so small and tiny compared to all of that. Maybe insignificant is the right word.

    While everyone certainly has a choice to make in this short life, maybe it comes down to this: either we concede that someone much wiser than us created those stars and everything between them and me, meaning we, too, were created by the maker of the stars, or, on the other hand, since we can’t see the creator nor know where the creator came from, then we will never, ever believe that we are a creation.

    I sleep well at night believing the first choice and am repeatedly comforted when the creator shows that he is working daily in my life.

  • deb

    “I’m not so proud to be a Methodist any more, but I’m not ready to abandon the church that taught me to be tolerent, acccepting and welcoming to all souls. I pray that they will realize how un-Christian this intolerance is.”

    They aren’t saying that a gay person couldn’t GO to church, but to have someone that is actively embracing and living a lifestyle that the Bible says is a sin, how could you then have that person the ‘Head’ of a congregation?????

  • W.J. Jones

    You nailed it, Deb.

    My pastor reminds us all the time that our church exists to reach “Joe Six Pack,” which means making him feel welcomed, loved and respected. That does not mean, however, that we pat him on the back and tell him his life is fine as-is, meaning we don’t “judge” him.

    I go to church each week because I want to learn to be a better husband, employee, friend, son-in-law and neighbor. My pastor does an excellent job of challenging us to leave the service a better person than when we arrived, and for the past few weeks he is speaking about marriage and the unique way that men and women differ. My, doesn’t that sound old fashioned?

    If the pastor stands before us Sunday and says, “Divorce your wife if you see something better,” “Don’t worry about being an example to your children,” “Life is about making yourself happy,” and “Don’t feel guilty if you cheat your employer,” then maybe that’s what people want to hear. But I don’t.

    Why do we seek advice from our bosses, friends and relatives about marriage, finances and raising children yet the church is supposed to be “tolerant” and not tell any of us how we should live?

    Again, did I miss the memo on why the church exists?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    W.J. Jones, I have good reason to suspect that the only entity directing the show is a blind, uncaring one; no one, apart from ourselves, has the slightest interest in our production.

    Richard Dawkins’s book, ‘The Blind Watchmaker’, supports this view and does it more eloquently than I can. The watchmaker part of the title is borrowed from a famous treatise by an 18th century theologian called William Paley. His ‘Natural Theology – or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity Collected from the Appearances of Nature’, (a mouthful, I agree) published in 1802, is the best known exposition of the ‘Argument from Design’, always the most influential of the arguments for the existence of a god.

    Paley begins ‘Natural Theology’ with a famous passage:

    “In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever; nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place. I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there.”

    Paley then points out the difference between natural physical objects like stones, and designed and manufactured objects like watches. He explains the precision with which the cogs and springs of a watch are made, and the intricacy with which they are put together. If we found an object such as a watch upon a heath, even if we didn’t know how it had come into existence, its own precision and intricacy of design would force us to conclude:

    “that the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.”

    Dawkins say that “nobody could reasonably dissent from this conclusion.” But Paley goes on to say that that is exactly what the atheist does when he contemplates the works of nature, for:

    “every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature, with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.”

    Paley “drives his point home with beautiful and reverent descriptions of the dissected machinery of life, beginning with the human eye, a favorite example which Darwin was later to use. Paley compares the eye with a designed instrument such as a telescope, and concludes that “there is precisely the same proof that the eye was made for the vision, as there is that the telescope was made for assisting it.” The eye must have had a designer, just as the telescope had.

    Dawkins says that “Paley’s argument is made with passionate sincerity and is informed by the best biological scholarship of the day, but it is wrong, gloriously and utterly wrong. The analogy between telescope and eye, between watch and living organism, is false. All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics, albeit deployed in a very special way. A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with a future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.”

    Douglas Adams said that “God used to be the best explanation we’d got, and now we have vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining.”

  • W.J. Jones

    Noel,

    Thank you for that explanation, which is mostly devoid of needling, personal attacks and vicious inversions. It’s a refreshing change from, say, most.

    The story reminds me of the man arguing with God about creating man, and the man stoops down to scoop up the dirt to begin the competition, to which God says, “No, you must first invent your own dirt.”

    Mr. Adams’ statement at the end is exactly what I was alluding to in an earlier post. In his own fumbling, he reinterates my main point: the more we learn about this amazing universe, the more we decide to either be prideful of our discoveries, as if we are the actual inventor of gravity or DNA, or humbled by the thought of a scientist far more wiser than we.

    Mr. Adams’ statement is akin to Columbus saying there is no other seafaring world traveler because he doesn’t see one, meaning that Columbus is not just the discoverer but must be the inventor as well. The irony is that he’s setting foot on the very ground made by the unseen inventor.

    I believe C.S. Lewis pointed out that the sin of pride is at the root of most other sins. Mr. Adams, in his scoff at God’s existence since we are smarter today than yesterday, helps to reinforce the notion that man’s greatest folly is believing that he is a god.

  • Bill Henry

    OK, I’m not going to get into a discussion re the existance/non-existance of god, because both camps just bang heads together and end up entrenched in their original positions. Been there done that. But the GOOD NEWS is I found a lovely Christian church in Kansas that provides a wealth of specific info re god’s “loving” relationship to gays:

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    WJ, I’m not sure it was pride on Douglas Adams’ part.

    He was asked: “How long have you been a non-believer and what brought you to that realization?”

    Here’s his answer:

    “Well, it’s a rather corny story. As a teenager I was a committed Christian. It was in my background. I used to work for the school chapel, in fact. Then one day when I was about eighteen I was walking down the street when I heard a street evangelist and, dutifully, stopped to listen. As I listened it began to be borne in on me that he was talking complete nonsense, and that I had better have a bit of a think about it. I’ve put that a bit glibly. When I say I realized he was talking nonsense, what I mean is this. In the years I’d spent learning history, physics, Latin, math, I’d learnt (the hard way) something about standards of argument, standards of proof, standards of logic, etc. In fact we had just been learning how to spot the different types of logical fallacy, and it suddenly became apparent to me that these standards simply didn’t seem to apply in religious matters. In religious education we were asked to listen respectfully to arguments that, if they had been put forward in support of a view of, say, why the Corn Laws came to be abolished when they were, would have been laughed at as silly and childish and – in terms of logic and proof – just plain wrong.

    Why was this?

    Well, in history, even though the understanding of events, of cause and effect, is a matter of interpretation, and even though interpretation is in many ways a matter of opinion, nevertheless those opinions and interpretations are honed to within an inch of their lives in the withering crossfire of argument and counterargument, and those that are still standing are then subjected to a whole new round of challenges of fact and logic from the next generation of historians – and so on. All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated, and well-supported in logic and argument than others.

    So I was already familiar with and (I’m afraid) accepting of, the view that you couldn’t apply the logic of physics to religion, that they were dealing with different types of “truth.” (I now think this is baloney, but to continue…) What astonished me, however, was the realization that the arguments in favor of religious ideas were so feeble and silly next to the robust arguments of something as interpretive and opinionated as history. In fact they were embarassingly childish. They were never subject to the kind of outright challenge which was the normal stock in trade of any other area of intellectual endeavor whatsoever. Why not? Because they wouldn’t stand up to it.

    So I became an Agnostic. And I thought and thought and thought. But I just did not have enough to go on, so I didn’t really come to any resolution. I was extremely doubtful about the idea of god, but I just didn’t know enough about anything to have a good working model of any other explanation for, well, life, the universe, and everything in its place. But I kept at it, and I kept reading and I kept thinking. Sometime around my early thirties I stumbled upon evolutionary biology, particularly in the form of Richard Dawkins’s books ‘The Selfish Gene’ and then ‘The Blind Watchmaker’, and suddenly (on, I think the second reading of ‘The Selfish Gene’) it all fell into place.

    It was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, naturally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life. The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

  • Bill Henry

    Hmmm, in my previous post the URL for the church which has a “special relationship” to gays never made it. Let’s try it this way: godhatesfags.com.

  • J

    I’d be interested to hear what Jeff has to say about all of these comments, but I agree with those who say the Methodist church can do what it likes. If you don’t like the church’s actions, why are you a part of it? It has no obligation to bow to and be influenced by society, just as society has no obligation to bow to and be influenced by the church. ANything else is just rhetoric.

  • Jim S

    deb says that they are just saying that gays can’t be ministers, they aren’t rejecting them from the church and W.J. Jones agrees with the statement. Apparently they both missed the part that said “…and reinstated a Virginia pastor who had been suspended for denying a gay man membership in his congregation.”. So yes, they do agree that it is acceptable to reject gays from a congregation.

    Nothing turns me against certain kinds of Christianity than those people who claim to be practicing it.

  • Kim

    WJ Jones- Regarding your statement “I go to church each week because I want to learn to be a better husband, employee, friend, son-in-law and neighbor.” What has always puzzled me as a child and into adulthood now about religion is that society seems to harbor this inner morality from hearing these words from a pastor, preacher, reverend, etc. I do not consider myself a religous person but that does not mean I do not have morals, ethics or the know-how to go about my life with the same regard as wanting to be a better spouse, employee or freind to one in need of my assisstance.
    I have a hard time with religion and its acceptance(nonacceptance really) of those with alternative lifestyles. Whom are they hurting? Just because someone is gay or lesbian does not make them any less moralistic or indifferent to basic human nature than you or I. I guess I have never seen a correlation between religion and manners or morals or teaching my children to become the upstanding young adults they are today.

    I am not saying religion is a bad thing mind you, I am not one to tell anyone to change their beliefs. What I would like to understand is why there is so much negativity generated on the basis of religion. Why does one try to trump the other on the basis of who said what in the bible. Why can’t we as citizens gather in unity instead of always fighting against what is claimed to be “good”? I don’t need a bible to tell me that stealing is bad, honesty is a good thing or tell someone that I made a mistake and I’m human. My parents did all of that without religion and so did I.

  • Lynn

    Noel,

    Many scientists versed in the logic of physics still have not discounted a Creator.

    Didn’t Einstein conclude a creator to be a better probability than evolution?

    UC Berkeley professor Charles Townes has a Nobel Prize in physics for work in quantum electronics.

    He upset fellow scientists by saying that religion and science were converging. Now he’s been given the $1.5-million Templeton Prize on Wednesday for progress in spiritual knowledge. The L.A. Times quoted him as saying: “No greater question faced humankind than discovering the purpose and meaning of life – and why there was something rather than nothing in the cosmos.”

    Then there is Stephen Meyer, Director at the Discovery Institute.
    Stephen C. Meyer has annoyed the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Stephen, with his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University loves science. His undergraduate degrees were in Physics and Geology.

    Here’s the problem. Meyer wrote: “An experience-based analysis of the causal powers of various explanatory hypotheses suggests purposive or intelligent design as a causally adequate–and perhaps the most causally adequate–explanation for the origin of the complex specified information required to build the Cambrian animals and the novel forms they represent.”

    While their education may not be allowing them a definitive yes, neither is it telling them no.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, Einstein said something to the effect that even if science came to explain everything about the universe and everything in it, the mystery of life would still remain. Since he turned to religion more towards the end of his life I suspect this was his opinion rather than proven scientific fact we can rely on.

    Intelligent design is creationism dressed up. The movement that has sprung up suggesting ID be taught as part of science and be taken seriously, as seriously as evolution, is curious. Here’s some of what Richard Dawkins said about ID:

    “Intelligent design is not … a scientific argument at all, but a religious one. It might be worth discussing in a class on the history of ideas, in a philosophy class on popular logical fallacies, or in a comparative religion class on origin myths from around the world. But it no more belongs in a biology class than alchemy belongs in a chemistry class, phlogiston in a physics class or the stork theory in a sex education class. In those cases, the demand for equal time for “both theories” would be ludicrous. Similarly, in a class on 20th-century European history, who would demand equal time for the theory that the Holocaust never happened?

    … If ID really were a scientific theory, positive evidence for it, gathered through research, would fill peer-reviewed scientific journals. This doesn’t happen. It isn’t that editors refuse to publish ID research. There simply isn’t any ID research to publish. Its advocates bypass normal scientific due process by appealing directly to the non-scientific public and – with great shrewdness – to the government officials they elect.

    The argument the ID advocates put, such as it is, is always of the same character. Never do they offer positive evidence in favour of intelligent design. All we ever get is a list of alleged deficiencies in evolution. We are told of “gaps” in the fossil record. Or organs are stated, by fiat and without supporting evidence, to be “irreducibly complex”: too complex to have evolved by natural selection.

    In all cases there is a hidden (actually they scarcely even bother to hide it) “default” assumption that if Theory A has some difficulty in explaining Phenomenon X, we must automatically prefer Theory B without even asking whether Theory B (creationism in this case) is any better at explaining it. Note how unbalanced this is, and how it gives the lie to the apparent reasonableness of “let’s teach both sides”. One side is required to produce evidence, every step of the way. The other side is never required to produce one iota of evidence, but is deemed to have won automatically, the moment the first side encounters a difficulty – the sort of difficulty that all sciences encounter every day, and go to work to solve, with relish.

    What, after all, is a gap in the fossil record? It is simply the absence of a fossil which would otherwise have documented a particular evolutionary transition. The gap means that we lack a complete cinematic record of every step in the evolutionary process. But how incredibly presumptuous to demand a complete record, given that only a minuscule proportion of deaths result in a fossil anyway.

    The equivalent evidential demand of creationism would be a complete cinematic record of God’s behaviour on the day that he went to work on, say, the mammalian ear bones or the bacterial flagellum – the small, hair-like organ that propels mobile bacteria. Not even the most ardent advocate of intelligent design claims that any such divine videotape will ever become available.

    Biologists, on the other hand, can confidently claim the equivalent “cinematic” sequence of fossils for a very large number of evolutionary transitions. Not all, but very many, including our own descent from the bipedal ape Australopithecus. And – far more telling – not a single authentic fossil has ever been found in the “wrong” place in the evolutionary sequence. Such an anachronistic fossil, if one were ever unearthed, would blow evolution out of the water.

    As the great biologist J B S Haldane growled, when asked what might disprove evolution: “Fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian.” Evolution, like all good theories, makes itself vulnerable to disproof. Needless to say, it has always come through with flying colours.”

    You can read the whole article here.

  • deb

    Bill,

    “Hmmm, in my previous post the URL for the church which has a “special relationship” to gays never made it. Let’s try it this way: godhatesfags.com. ”

    This is hardly a ‘mainstream’ church view, any more than the ‘militant gay bath house members’ is a mainstream view of gays. We can both point out the extremes on either side…. it’s a gotcha game that is self defeating.

    Kim,

    “I have a hard time with religion and its acceptance(nonacceptance really) of those with alternative lifestyles. Whom are they hurting? Just because someone is gay or lesbian does not make them any less moralistic or indifferent to basic human nature than you or I. I guess I have never seen a correlation between religion and manners or morals or teaching my children to become the upstanding young adults they are today. ”

    It’s not about ‘accepting’ alternative lifestyles, it’s about worshipping God, the creater of ‘everything’. You either have faith that Jesus was the Son of God or you don’t, if you do then you try to live your life according to the Bible, which is supposed to be the ‘Inspired Word of God’ and should be used to further your understanding of God and His expectations of how you should try to live your life. If you accept this as God’s Word, then you also try to live that way, and part of that is to spread God’s Word and Blessing to those that haven’t expierenced it yet.

    If you are living the life of a Christian you aren’t ‘judging’ anyone in that you shouldn’t actively ‘punish’ anybody for legal behavior, but you aren’t supposed to pretend that it isn’t a sin either. If you do ‘pretend’ that it isn’t a sin then you are encouraging the sin to continue, and sin always builds on itself and spreads when a ‘society’ comes to ‘accept’ it.

    I am a Christian, I believe homosexuality to be a sin, however I would never treat anyone in a rude or derogatory manner because I know that it is a sin that isn’t any greater than the ones that I commit in God’s eyes…. the difference is that if you are ‘embracing the sin’ you automatically turn away from God to do so. It’s your choice and nobody else’s.

    It is not hateful to not ‘endorse’ a sinful lifestyle, it is hateful when you use it ‘degrade’ someone instead of using the Bible to help someone trying to overcome a sinful lifestyle.

  • Lynn

    Thank you Noel: Einstein said something to the effect that even if science came to explain everything about the universe and everything in it, the mystery of life would still remain. Since he turned to religion more towards the end of his life I suspect this was his opinion rather than proven scientific fact we can rely on.

    Yes, as I understand it he found the “scientific” theory a mathmatical improbability to such a degree as to really be impossible.

    Thanks again for the article. Certainly it helps us non-scientists to understand, as you mentioned you came to, what must be proven and how in order to be considered science.

    But it makes me marvel even more, that one of the the most brilliant scientific minds to ever exist, who well understood the parameters that must be met for something to be declared “fact”, – along with other top scientists so informed – declared neither side has met them, and winds up personally “opining” the existence of God!

    In a former post, there was mention of the disillusionment with the teachings (Douglas Adam’s story). I confess, that has been my reaction many times as well. I’ve found a rather refreshing website where the guy has studied original scriptures, and what he has found certainly has taken a lot of that away for me.

    He goes back to original scriptures to expose inaccurate translating…for instance, the word hell was translated to it’s current horrid meaning in error. It was mistakenly translated from hades or shoal, and only meant “grave”.

    Our current meaning of eternity came from eons, and only meant “ages” not “without end”.

    So that “eternal hellfire” was not the concept meant to be taught…etc.
    Interesting site at http://bible-truths.com

  • Lynn

    P.S. Noel…Sorry for the run on…I realize that my former post is really on two different subjects…one talking about science and the other about faith -the first post should have ended after Einstein

    “winds up personally “opining” the existence of God

  • W.J. Jones

    Lynn,

    I think your post is most helpful in that it points out that believers don’t profess that we have everything figured our about the universe, evolution, and how we got here.

    I’m still learning and re-learning, and find myself changing my mind at times at what I believed as a teenager and a young man. I don’t believe that God is literally sitting on a throne, for example, and Christ is seated beside him.

    And for the record, my immediate boss at my former job was a lesbian and had a “partner” that she lived with. What she did with her life was her business, but she was smart enough to know that going into a church and demand that the church change to suit her was a foolish, selfish idea.

    On the subject of creation, the problem facing the agnostics and atheists, is that they can’t budge one millimeter from their belief in God’s non-existence. If they do, admitting at the very least in some sort of creator, then the rest of the puzzle they scoff at falls most easily into place.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, I’m the one who’s been running on here. ; )

    I don’t know why Einstein turned to God, but I do know that the idea of God can be a great comfort, especially as we get older and have to face death and have come to understand how big and impersonal a place the universe really is.

    I have no problem with people wanting to hold onto two-thousand-year-old customs and traditions. These things are part of our history. Wanting to believe however, that there is truth, absolute truth, in 2000-year-old myths and fables, and wanting to give those ancient ideas equal billing with proven knowledge about life we have collectively accumulated since then is willful ignorance.

  • Bill Henry

    Noel, Right on! The concepts of Noah’s Arc (no was arc), a talking snake, and virgin birth always lighten up my day! Hey, BTW, did you hear the one about some woman turning into a pillar of salt? When I get in a real giddy mood, it’s always fun to turn to the writings of George Carlin. Before you do so I suggest you make sure the floor is clean around your computer because you might be rolling on it! Hope this URL posts OK: http://www.valleyskeptic.com/george.htm

  • Lynn

    I don’t know why Einstein turned to God, but I do know that the idea of God can be a great comfort

    Still, Noel, one would think a brilliant scientist like Einstein would be unlikely to turn to something there was no basis to believe in, even for comfort.

    The huge holes in evolutionary theory leaves it far from proven. Among them the theory of Irreducible Complexity, (which even Darwin admitted the complexity of the human eye supports) and the fact that the supposed various stages of man from Lucy to Cro-Magnon Man – were disproved and false.

    I have no problem with people wanting to hold onto two-thousand-year-old customs and traditions. These things are part of our history. Wanting to believe however, that there is truth, absolute truth, in 2000-year-old myths and fables, and wanting to give those ancient ideas equal billing with proven knowledge about life we have collectively accumulated since then is willful ignorance.

    Amazing isn’t it, that, even with it’s ancient ideas, it is perhaps the only Book in the world to survive 2,000 years AND yet may be the most widely read book today. Perhaps it takes some sort of divine intervention to make a journey like that. :-)

    Much of what we consider correct science now was given in the scriptures 2,000 years ago, when the science of that time had no way of knowing it.

    The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – the earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22)
    Science then: The earth was a flat disk
    Science now: The earth is a sphere

    The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – Creation made of invisible elements(Heb:11:3)Science then: ignorant on the subject
    Science now: Creation made of invisible elements (atoms)

    The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – Light moves(Job 38:19,20)
    Science then: Light was fixed in place
    Science now: Light moves

    The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – ocean floor has deep valleys and mountains((2 Samuel 22:16;Jonah 2:6)
    Science then: The ocean floor was flat
    Science now: Ocean floor has deep valleys and mountains

    The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – air has weight (Job 28:25)
    Science then: Air was weightless
    Science now: Air has weight

    There are many, many, more facts of science that couldn’t have been known back then that were revealed 2,000 years before modern man discovered them.

  • Lynn

    I’m still learning and re-learning, and find myself changing my mind at times at what I believed as a teenager and a young man.

    W.J. Jones: Absolutely! Me too. :-)

    That Bible-truths.com site has made a big difference in my understanding of the hereafter.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, Einstein stepped out into the vacuum of space and studied the mathematics behind physics. It would be similar to you or me physically climbing into a spaceship and seeing the earth from the outside. I would think this would be a very thought-provoking experience because having stepped away from our little planet, we are forced to accept that we are not the center of anything’s attention except our own, that we are one of several planets orbiting a sun, one of billions of suns in our galaxy, and that our galaxy is one of billions in the known universe. This is a very cold reality. Even a brain as small as Einstein’s (he is known for having had a small physical brain though a great mind) must have had trouble accepting the impersonal nature of the universe. Whether he did or not, turning to religion was his opinion and not one that I agree with. I would also like to point out that he could offer no proof for the existence of God, though he offered many proofs to support his theories for science.

    On the “huge holes in evolutionary theory”, if you’re speaking about the fossil record, then naturally there are gaps because the circumstances required to form a fossil are very rare. But evolution as a process has most definitely been proven. All you have to do is look down a microscope and watch a virus evolve; the flu virus or the aids virus or other microscopic creatures like bacteria whose life cycles are must shorter than our own with the result that we can see evolution in action.

    As for the bible being the only book to survive 2000 years:

    a). we don’t have the original. We have the telephone version, that is, it’s been handed down from person to person, language to language and generation to generation. It’s like that old story from WWI where a message was passed through the trenches to HQ by one soldier whispering it to another. It started out as: “Send reinforcements. We’re going to advance.” It arrived at HQ as “Send three and fourpence. We’re going to a dance.”

    and,

    b). there are books in China, for example, the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, written six centuries before Christ was born.

    On your claim that much of what we consider correct science first appeared in the scriptures … this is not true. Let’s go through your examples one by one.

    1. The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – the earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22)

    2,500 years ago. Ancient Greeks. Pythagorus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Parmenides: the earth is a sphere. Pythagorus went so far in his mathematical craft that he touched on calculus.

    The church 500 years ago – “the earth is flat, Galileo. Anyone says different and we’ll set fire to them, capiche?”

    Science now: the earth is a sphere, not though hearsay, but through proven scientific fact.

    2. The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – Creation made of invisible elements(Heb:11:3)

    2,500 years ago. Ancient Greeks, including Aristotle, Empedocles and Lucretius who all lived and wrote books before Christ appeared (who incidentally never actually wrote a book himself) believed in evolution, that life started in the sea and that changes happened to animals when they moved to dry land. The Ancient Greeks realized that fossil shells were formed in ancient seas.

    Democritus, another Ancient Greek, espoused that all matter consisted of “atoms”, smaller than could be discerned by the eye.

    Science now: we’ve seen these elements and seen inside them.

    3. The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – Light moves(Job 38:19,20)

    2,300 years ago. Euclid, the ancient Greek, wrote (please note this word. People didn’t say he said this. We have his manuscript), Euclid wrote Optica in about 300 BC in which he studied the properties of light which he postulated travelled in straight lines.

    Science now: light moves. And they say it now not because they believe it to be true, but because it has been proven to be true.

    4. The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – ocean floor has deep valleys and mountains((2 Samuel 22:16;Jonah 2:6)

    2,500 years ago. The Ancient Greeks understood the rise and fall of the ocean floor. They lived on islands and knew that the ocean floor was not flat.

    Science now: not only does science understand that the ocean floor has valleys and mountains, but they have mapped them. Plus they know that earthquakes are not due to the great god, Cracken, but to plate tectonics. Even the Greeks still had their gods which is understandable considering there were things they could not explain about the physical world. We have come to a level where we also cannot say we have all the answers either, but we are not so afraid of what we don’t know that we have to invent benevolent or demonic superbeings to fill the gap in our knowledge.

    5. The Bible 2,000 yrs ago – air has weight (Job 28:25)

    2,300 years ago. Ctesibus, you guessed it, the Ancient Greek, realized through experimentation that air was a substance. Through his work, he is known for his improvement of the water clock, a mechanism similar to that used in 20th century flushed toilets which relies on the understanding not only of air and water pressure, but also on the relationship between these two substances. He also invented a water organ, purely frivolous, but he couldn’t have done it without his work on the properties of air and water.

    Science now: we know that air has weight. We know how much it weighs and how much pressure it exerts depending on our elevation (or how close we are to the vacuum of space). We don’t know this because God told us or because someone who claimed they spoke for God told us. We know this through experimentation and the use of our reasoning mind.

  • Bill Henry

    Noel, Christians are always the biggest revisionists along with those who deny the holocaust in second place. How many times do you hear them spouting off about the US being a “Christian country”. They seem to forget the Treaty with Tripoli of 1797, passed by the US Senate and signed into law by President John Adams: Article 11 As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
    Noel, you don’t expect them to know anything about the ancient Greeks and Romans when they are so lacking in understanding of our own history, do you? When a man in a robe or suit stands in front of them waving a bible and promising the scam of everlasing life, the twin beacons of common sense and reason are quickly extinguished.

  • http://celestial-reasoning.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    This is hysterical! They allow all the gay child molester priests alone in the catholic church but they punish this poor woman.

    Religion should be outlawed.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Bill, in understanding this desire people have to to overlook evidence in favor of blind faith and ancient superstition, I wish I could put it better than Richard Dawkins:

    “I have had the predictable spate of letters from faith’s victims, protesting about my criticisms of it. Faith is such a successful brainwasher in its own favor, especially a brainwasher of children, that it is hard to break its hold. But what, after all, is faith? It is a state of mind that leads people to believe something – it doesn’t matter what – in the total absence of supporting evidence. If there were good supporting evidence then faith would be superfluous, for the evidence would compel us to believe it anyway. It is
    this that makes the often-parrotted claim that ‘evolution is a matter of faith’ so silly. People believe in evolution not because they arbitrarily want to believe it but because of overwhelming, publicly available evidence.

    I said ‘it doesn’t matter what’ the faithful believe, which suggests that people have faith in entirely daft, arbitrary things, like the electric monk in Douglas Adam’s delightful Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. He was purpose-built to do your believing for you, and very successful at it. On the day that we meet him he unshakingly believes, against all the evidence, that everything in the world is pink.

    I don’t want to argue that things in which a particular individual has faith are necessarily daft. They may or may not be. The point is that there is no way of deciding whether they are, and no way of preferring one article of faith over another, because evidence is explicitly eschewed. Indeed the fact that true faith doesn’t need evidence is held up as its greatest virtue; this was the point of my quoting the story of Doubting Thomas, the only really admirable member of the apostles.

    Faith cannot move mountains (though generations of children are solemnly told the contrary and believe it). But it is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly. It leads people to believe in whatever it is so strongly that in extreme cases thay are prepared to kill and die for it without the need for further justification … Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr’s death will send them straight to heaven. What a weapon! Religious faith deserves a chapter to itself in the annals of war technology, on an even footing with the longbow, the warhorse, the tank, and the hydrogen bomb.”

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Jeff, I don’t mind religion being kept around once it’s kept in perspective. Traditions and customs that go back generations give color to the cultures of the world. And it’s always useful to have a reminder that we are capable of believing in the most preposterous things. ;-)

  • Lynn

    Noel,

    I was quoting from a book compilation that said that those sciences quoted in the Bible differed from the accepted science of that period.

    Beyond that, being neither an expert in science nor the Bible, I do thank you for sharing the accomplishments of those extraordinary pre-bible ancients.

    It started out as: “Send reinforcements. We’re going to advance.” It arrived at HQ as “Send three and fourpence. We’re going to a dance.”

    I’m told the “Dead Sea Scrolls” manuscript has remained miraculously unchanged, but it does seem that Bible text words like “aeons” and “shoals” have had meanings mistranslated that mirror the unfortunate results indicated in your above quote.

    Re: fossils etc. Dogs do not produce cats. Cats and dogs do not have a common ancestry. Dogs began as dogs and are still dogs. Though there is variety in species, monkeys make monkeys and man makes man. Each creature brings forth after its own kind. Why then should we believe man came from another species? Fossils such as Cro-Magnon man, New Guinea man…etc. have already been discredited.

    As US News & World Report claimed years ago – “New scientific revelations about supernovas, black holes, quarks, and the big bang even suggest to some scientists that there is a ‘grand design” in the universe”.

    Most likely we will never know the complete answers to these things. Though my beliefs may align more with Einstein’s opinion, I have enjoyed your input into my ongoing education, and do thank you Noel. You are a most pleasant person. :-)

  • Lynn

    Whoops! I was quoting a quote…that should probably read..”an article” in US News & World Report…

  • W.J. Jones

    Alluding to religious people being idiots and fools shows you have a funny way of using logic and reason to make your case. Apparently a good debate isn’t complete without ridiculing the people you’re debating.

    Wow, it’s working great.

    And just who are you, Jeff, to suggest that a “gay child molester priest” is such a bad person? This dialogue started over the rights of gays and lesbians to apparently do and say what they want where they want without opposition from people of faith, and now you’re apparently judging the child molester as some sort of monster.

    Please answer this: In your world view of right and wrong, where there is no God and no church to condemn and judge, shouldn’t the so-called child molester be allowed to legally have sexual relations with, say, a 17-year-old if the minor consents. What about a 15-year-old? A 13-year-old? 10? 9?

    Who got to decide one day that “child molester” was a bad word? And if life is about being happy, then who decided that “cheating spouse” is bad, too?

    And what right does a parent have to forbid their child from having sexual relations with that child molester? What law makes the parent the ruler over the child and strips the minor from all rights to make their own decisions?

    If a 13-year-old child should have the right to an abortion without parental knowledge, what about sex with a grown man? If you write a law forbidding consensual sex with an adult, aren’t you guilty of judging another’s actions?

    A great way to reach that point is to rid any mention of the Bible and its archaic stories from our courts of law and the public square, and when it’s mentioned in private, to ridicule its words and those who believe them.

    After all, those Old Testament laws forbidding the Jews from participating in incest and sex with animals are, to quote Noel, “part of our history” but are merely “2000-year-old myths and fables”

    “Wanting to give those ancient ideas equal billing with proven knowledge about life we have collectively accumulated since then is willful ignorance,” Noel also said.

    If our knowledge about life tells us that being homosexual is quite natural, then who says we must stop the brakes right there? You? Me? God? The Supreme Court? A preacher?

    Who are you, Jeff and Noel, to condemn the freedom of your children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren from sleeping with an old man or a sheep or five college boys in their frat house?

    “Thou shalt not judge,” Jesus told us.

    So how about you allow your child to spend the night with an alleged child, defending your action by explaining that no church, pastor, district attorney or no one else is going to dictate to your child what he or she can or cannot do because life is about freedom of choice. And neither Billy Graham, W.J. Jones or a street corner preacher can decide what is right for each of us.

    You go ahead and do that, fellas. The rest of us, however, will continue to be judgemental and willfully ignorant.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Well, actually, no. All mammals, including cats and dogs, evolved from a common ancestor. To understand evolution, it is easiest to look at the cellular level because it is in our cells that we find DNA. DNA not only explains physically how we form, but there are also instructions in our genes for when genes are switched on and when genes are switched off. For example, we share something like 60% of our genes with the sea cucumber and 80% with the house fly. When genes are turned on and turned off determines how many arms and legs we have, where they grow from and what size they become. Our closest relative on earth today, as far as we are aware, is the chimpanzee, varying only in a minor way from our own DNA.

    It is worth noting that Europeans were unaware of apes and monkeys before exploration in Africa and the Far East began, and if you look around and see cows and horses and mice and cats, but no other bipedal creature with hands like ours etc., it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that we are unique. But when you see a mama chimpanzee holding her baby with its fingers wrapped around her finger, and see her put its little fingers to her lips, exactly the way I have seen my wife hold our little babies and kiss their fingers, it is much easier to believe in the genetic connection, a connection that has been scientifically proven. (I’d like to clear up a point here – we can trace through the fossil record man’s evolution from the bipedal ape Australopithecus).

    Every human being has a slightly different genetic code and different races share different genetic characteristics. For example, a black man in Africa has more pigment in his skin to protect him from the harsh rays of the sun at the equator than a man from Norway with blond hair, blue eyes and very little need, owing to the way the sun’s rays are angled and weakened toward the poles, for pigment in their skin. A cursory glance around the world’s peoples shows that we have evolved to suit our environments. Nevertheless, there is too little to separate us into different species.

    Evolution happens gradually over time – subtle changes, little by little with the birth of each new baby. This has been proven. You can have a sudden change, which is essentially a mutation, for example when an albino is born – they are missing the information which allows them to produce pigment. This is a change in the DNA – an evolution. But would you say that an albino is inferior to us? Would you say that I am inferior because my eyes are brown and maybe yours are blue? In the same way we cannot think ourselves superior to any of the earth’s creatures. We have all evolved together and we all began from common organisms in the sea that decided over time it was convenient to work together and form larger cooperative units or multi-cellular creatures like fish, and eventually, human beings. To deny evolution is to deny the very fabric of your being and also to deny yourself the pleasure of reveling in all of the multitudinous varieties of life on earth.

    Everything is constantly changing, but on a time scale that is difficult to appreciate since our life-span is so short. Who knows what changes will be in the future for us and for all of the earth’s creatures? I am only sorry that I will be dead long before they come about.

    Thank you Lynn for your very kind words. I too have enjoyed this conversation and hope that I have been clear in explaining my point of view.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    WJ, I am a family man, not because I am afraid of God. I live naturally and it is my natural instinct to beat the living daylights out of any molester who dared to go near my daughter, be they priest or not.

    I do not need the church to tell me the difference between right and wrong. That’s something parents teach their children. As for abortion for a 13-year-old without parental consent, I agree with you. They are my children, not the state’s.

    I don’t recall Jeff or me ever suggesting that we would like our children, nieces or nephews to sleep with sheep, gangs of college boys or dirty old men. We don’t need the bible to tell us this is an unacceptable form of recreation. Like I said above, being secular does not automatically mean you are perverted anymore than being religious automatically confers virtue. After all, ordained priests have been guilty of child molestation and you don’t get more religious than an ordained priest, God’s mouthpiece on earth and married to the big invisible guy himself.

  • W.J. Jones

    Noel,

    You seem like a kind person and a caring father, and you have been very thorough and patient, but you miss my point. Please read it again.

    I’m not saying whether the priest should prey on your child, which you and I both know is wrong, but rather whether a set of morals, laws and standards should be in place that state whether the molester can have relations with your daughter and certainly whether you have the right to interfere.

    The bigger point is that your decision to “beat the living daylights” out of that pervert shows you are making a moral decision. If your neighbor, also a family man, allows his daughter to be molested, is he wrong for that?

    And who gets to decide to judge?

    Boil down your belief that we are all soulless animals who emerged from an evolutionary pool and you have absolutely no right to judge right or wrong, good or evil, sin or not sin.

    In other words, you want the right to protect your family but still hold the belief that the family you love and cherish is merely the latest step in an evolutionary change.

  • Bill Henry

    Noel et al , Maybe we should not be too critical of the molester priests. After all, if we examine scripture we find the “word of God” is much more severe than a little priestly “diddling”! Psalm 137:9 “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” and again in Hosea 13:16 “Samaria shall bear her guilt; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword; their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.” Damn, there goes the churches argument against abortion, too! Actually, Noel, I probably screwed up this biblical interpretation. I’m sure the “correct” translation, according to the apologists, of the original Greek or Hebrew reads more like “Happy shall he be that taketh thy little ones to Disneyland” and “they shall fall down and go boom! “Thier infants toys shall be dashed to pieces and their women with child shall have her hem lines go up.” We Atheists just take things too literally, I guess!

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    …you want the right to protect your family but still hold the belief that the family you love and cherish is merely the latest step in an evolutionary change.

    WJ, there can be no question that everything alive today is “the latest step in an evolutionary change.” That is scientific fact. In no way does it imply that one should therefore not bother protecting their family. I do not understand the logical leap you are making there. A cat will protect her kittens. Even a mother octopus will protect her young and that is her last act in life before she dies. I could go on giving you examples of mothers and fathers protecting their babies. It is a natural thing to do.

    I used to wonder why people resisted change so much when it is evidently the one thing that is natural to all life. And my wife solved the puzzle for me. She told me that when we are children, change comes naturally to us. We adapt to it well. As we grow older, we get fixed in our ways, and want things to remain the same – familiar and safe. Unfortunately this is in opposition to the natural state of life which is all about change, evolution being just one example of it.

    If your neighbor, also a family man, allows his daughter to be molested, is he wrong for that?

    Yes. Under the secular law we live by, a court of law would judge him guilty or at least partly guilty for the child’s molestation. If he was proven to have sanctioned it, he would be an accessory to the crime.

    And who gets to decide to judge?

    The courts of course.

    Boil down your belief that we are all soulless animals who emerged from an evolutionary pool and you have absolutely no right to judge right or wrong, good or evil, sin or not sin.

    Why can’t I as a human being judge another human being? Why do I need to be religious to have this right?

    Think for yourself WJ. And trust yourself a little more. I’d say you are a decent man.

  • Lynn

    All mammals, including cats and dogs, evolved from a common ancestor.

    We have all evolved together and we all began from common organisms in the sea that decided over time it was convenient to work together and form larger cooperative units or multi-cellular creatures like fish, and eventually, human beings.

    Well, Noel, I follow the theory, but still have to agree to disagree. DNA theory has yet to definitively trace humans back to a different species, and as you mention, our human differences are to slight to cause forward splitting into still other species.

    I’d like to clear up a point here – we can trace through the fossil record man’s evolution from the bipedal ape Australopithecus).

    “It is now recognized widely that the australopithecines are not structurally closely similar to humans, that they must have been living at least in part in arboreal [tree] environments, and that many of the later specimens were contemporaneous [living at the same time] or almost so with the earlier members of the genus Homo. ”

    Even if evolution could be proved without a doubt, there is still the question of the beginning. After all the science, realizing it could not have happened randomly, Einstein came to the conclusion of a Creator.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, evolution is something that happens very slowly over time. And as it is occurring, there are crossovers between species – an offshoot branches off into a different direction while the other retains more of its current characteristics. Some die out, like the neanderthals who as you know had a very heavy bone structure and very large skull. There is fossil evidence to show a crossover between neanderthals and homo sapiens, that they were close enough genetically to mate, and that they did.

    Science has used DNA to trace people’s ancestry. Different people from different parts of the world have general differences in their codes and each and every one of us have smaller differences in our codes. We’re all diifferent. And it’s always changing, but it’s important to remember that while there are little changes over each generation, it takes millions of years to see a visible change occur in a species so that it can be said to have evolved, or branched off, into a new species.

    Look at the difference between a flying squirrel and a gray squirrel. One can glide from tree to tree and therefore avoid snakes; the other cannot, but essentially they are both squirrels.

    A fish has a heart, intestines, a liver, a brain, spine and ribcage, and eyes just like we do, but it continued on its evolutionary path in the ocean while our ancestors climbed out of the water and onto land. And to see a perfect example for this transition from water to land, look at amphibians: frogs, for example. An adult frog has lungs, liver, brain, intestines just like we do, but when it’s a baby it swims in the water and breathes through gills. It is as they mature that they develop lungs and live on land. The point is that when you look beneath the surface of life on this planet, it is obvious that we all developed in a beautiful variety of ways from the same ancestors.

    On the question of the beginning, some interesting evidence has come to light. DNA, which is in every single living creature, including germs and is in fact the one thing you share with everything alive, is a collection of protein strands called genes which are made of amino acids. The argument which supported creationism to a degree was that 4 billion years ago during the meteor bombardment of the earth, delicate strands of amino acids that were present in the primordial soup and that would have had to form into proteins in order for life to begin on earth, would have been destroyed from the impact of the meteor showers and the seismic explosions occurring under the oceans in the earth’s crust. Therefore, the chances of life forming in the primordial soup were infinitessimal.

    It was also the argument against life on other worlds because the chances under those circumstances of life ever forming are practically zero.

    This is what was believed … until an interesting experiment. Scientists decided to test this theory of amino acids being destroyed under the force of the impacts of millions of meteorites and seismic explosions. They recreated the primordial soup with little strands of amino acids (but no proteins) floating in the chemcial composition they discerned would have existed at the time. They then subjected this mix to the impact force of a substantial meteorite and expected to find precisely nothing. To their surprise, when they analyzed the results of their experiment, they found that the impact had not destroyed the delicate strands of the amino acids, but had in fact forced the amino-acids to bind together to form proteins. This means two things:

    1). it is not at all surprising that life formed during the meteor bombardment of the earth. In fact, the chances of life not forming are now very small

    and,

    2). it means that in all of the billions upon billions of planets orbiting suns in our galaxy alone, the chances of finding at least microscopic life on some of those planets is possible. Not in our lifetimes perhaps since we have no way at the minute of travelling those distances, but maybe one day if we stay on track and don’t destroy ourselves or throw away the knowledge we have gained in order to cling to ancient superstitions.

    I enjoy the thought of my descendants, or the descendants of the great antelope, or any other members of the brotherhood of life on this planet, having the chance to see the universe in all its glory.

  • kat

    Bill Henry–we all know over 90% of the so called molester priests are molester gay priests. Take the gays out of the priesthood and problem solved. Let the normal ones marry a wife.

  • Lynn

    it is obvious that we all developed in a beautiful variety of ways from the same ancestors.

    Noel, I find that would take a bigger leap of faith than believing in the Intelligent Design theory. None of us are gliding from trees with others earthbound. We humans are all the same, (aside from minor differences in color, much like various colors of cats and dogs of the same species) with the only evolution in sight one of attitudes.

    I am intrigued about the proteins bonding in the primordal soup. That is information I’ve not been exposed to. At what point can we expect a life force to enter these little fellas?

  • Lynn

    Some die out, like the neanderthals who as you know had a very heavy bone structure and very large skull. There is fossil evidence to show a crossover between neanderthals and homo sapiens, that they were close enough genetically to mate, and that they did.

    Re the Neanderthal skeleton

    At the Int’l Congress of Zoology (1958) Dr. AJ.E. Cave said his examination showed that this famous skeleton found in France over 50 years ago is that of an old man who suffered from arthritis.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, neanderthals are not our ancestors (though some people may have a little neanderthal blood in them!). Neanderthals simply branched off from the same line we did, as did chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. If you’re trying to dispute that neanderthal man ever existed … so many skulls and bones in so many places have been found that to deny their existence is pointless.

    We evolved from apes and are still apes, less hairy maybe (unless you originated from the mediteranean where your beard grows up to your eyes and your eyebrows up to your hairline and even the women sport a thin moustache) and more ingenious, but apes nonetheless. That is the family of animals we belong to. Some of us still live in trees. I dare you to look into the eyes of a gorilla, a champanzee or even a baboon (which is not an ape, but a monkey) and tell me you do not see intelligence there. All of us in the ape family shared a common ancestor and through the slow process of evolution, branched off in different directions.

    Evolution is at work all the time. In the next few million years our strain of the ape family, Homo Sapiens, will gradually and then perhaps suddenly, evolve and the changes will reflect our environment, whatever that environment is – hotter, colder etc. If we cannot adapt to it, we will die out and something else better suited to the environment will take over. If the earth warms up and we run out of air conditioners, tropical creatures maybe. Global nuclear war? Cockroaches will take over.

    To answer your question, “at what point can we expect a life force to enter these little fellas?” as soon as they cease to be random bits of amino acids and start being little fellas that feed, grow and reproduce.

    I have a few questions for you:

    1. Creatures, it’s been proven, have lived on earth for hundreds of millions of years before man arrived. The great dinosaurs, for example, lived from 200 million years ago to 65 million years ago. Why haven’t people been on earth since the dawn of time? Why did it take God so long to get around to suddenly making people? Is it that God keeps having failed experiments?

    2. Why has God chosen a planet orbiting a star in the far outer edges of the Milky Way galaxy to do his work? Why wouldn’t he pick something in the center of the universe?

    3. What is it that gives you confidence that we are the chosen ones, the apple of God’s eye?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Found this highly scientific link on David Weinberger’s blog and thought it would help clear up any doubts, any doubts at all, concerning the legitmacy of the evolutionary process.

    Takes a moment to load …

  • Bill Henry

    C’mon Noel, 65 million years? The earth is only about 6,000 years old. A man waving a bible on TV said so. How can you argue with the “Word-a God” especially “As seen on TV”?

  • Lynn

    Noel wrote:I dare you to look into the eyes of a gorilla, a champanzee or even a baboon (which is not an ape, but a monkey) and tell me you do not see intelligence there.

    You’ll get no argument there from me, but that has no bearing on our evolution. (I live with a large Alaskan dog of considerable wolf ancestry. It pains me to think of all the intelligent creatures living lives in cages. I feel I betray her everytime I must put a leash on her. Inwardly, I consider her my friend, not my possession.)

    as soon as they cease to be random bits of amino acids and start being little fellas that feed, grow and reproduce.

    What will be the catalyst for that?

    Re questions: Noel, I know next to NOTHING about either the Bible or Evolution. Even the most learned amongst us probably only knows about 1% of what there is to know, if that, and either position requires opinion and/or faith.

    Here’s is what I’ve found tho since you asked me those questions.

    Creatures, it’s been proven, have lived on earth for hundreds of millions of years before man arrived. The great dinosaurs, for example, lived from 200 million years ago to 65 million years ago. Why haven’t people been on earth since the dawn of time? Why did it take God so long to get around to suddenly making people? Is it that God keeps having failed experiments?

    Noel, that hasn’t been proven. Regarding the age of the earth, no man knows the exact age.

    There are scientists who think the earth is 4.7 billions years old and a growing body of scientists that are concluding that the earth is relatively young and in the range of about 7,000 years given the amount of meteoric dust on the earth’s surface, the quantity of nickel in the oceans, and carbon-14 build up.

    That would be in the ballpark Biblically, adding up lifetimes of the patriarchs as given in Genesis 5 and 11. As far as the Bible is concerned, we can not date the earth with accuracy. It must be remembered that Genesis presents the earth as being created mature or aged (Gen. 1: 20 ff.).

    There simply are matters scientists and theologians do not definitively know as to the age of the earth.

    Why has God chosen a planet orbiting a star in the far outer edges of the Milky Way galaxy to do his work? Why wouldn’t he pick something in the center of the universe?

    I haven’t a clue!

    What is it that gives you confidence that we are the chosen ones, the apple of God’s eye?

    I’m not comfortable with that term “chosen,ones”. I’m hoping there is a place for all thinking creatures who have suffered here on earth. I often wonder that a God would want to bother with such selfish, self-absorbed creatures that so frequently do the evil things the humans species does. Perhaps it’s all part of a preparation that we need to recognize evil in order to know good.

  • Bill Henry

    Lynn, You said “……and a growing body of scientists that are concluding that the earth is relatively young and in the range of about 7,000 years……” OK, who are these “scientists”? Graduates of schools such as Oral Roberts and Bob Jones Universities? Man, that god of yours sure does a great job of fooling dummies like Noel and me! Why doesn’t he just arrange to have a modern human fossil show up in a precambrian era fossil layer? That would shut up Noel, and me, along with all the “mistaken” scientists from loser schools like MIT, Cal Tech, Harvard, Yale, etc, who keep perpetrating all this EVIL-oution and “billions and billions of years garbage.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, no. Bill is right here. No reputable scientist thinks the earth is 7,000 years old. At least no reputable scientist alive today with access to modern technology – carbon dating for example – which is very reliable and precise allowing us to date fossils and prove that dinosaurs lived from 200 million years to 65 million years ago. We have found rocks on earth that are 3.9 billion years old. It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s proven scientific fact.

    You have asked me what is the catalyst for amino acids turning into proteins and then forming cells. The answer is Ribonucleic acid or RNA, especially the discovery of Ribozymes, RNA molecules that catalyze a chemical reaction. Specifically, Ribozymes have the ability to string amino acids together.

    We know this now not because we read a 2000-year-old book many times translated and re-interpreted, a book originally compiled by people who did not even know what caused disease, who did not know what the stars in the night sky were, who had never left earth or even had the chance to fly through the air. How lucky we are and what they would have given to see the world as we now understand it. We do not have every answer and maybe never will, but what we know we have learned through exploring and investigating the world around us and having the courage to test our theories and prove them, true or false.

    I was impressed by your tenacity and feel a little let down by your admission that you know “next to nothing” about the bible, yet you quote it to support your point that the earth is 7,000 years old. If you know next to nothing about the bible, then based on what do you believe in God? And based on what do you believe your point of view is correct and mine wrong when you are unable to defend your point of view?

    Why not test your theories. Take a course in biology or physics or astronomy or geology. Perhaps learning about the origins of life from a scientific point of view won’t change your convictions, but you’ll learn so much more about the wonders of the world and of life than you will ever find in the bible which while entertaining and containing some insight into human nature, is not a substitute for the knowledge we have gained over the two thousand years since the new testament’s first edition scrolls. ;-)

    It may be, Lynn, that you have never really had the opportunity to explore the other side of the question. I think a sharp mind like yours deserves the chance.

  • Lynn

    Noel, an enormous number of folks since time began have believed in a Creator, some were even those who’ve never read a Bible or belong to any religion.

    Even some people who’ve attended biology or physics or astronomy or geology classes and wound up with degrees in them, ….have wound up still believing in a Creator.

    I wasn’t trying to prove myself right, or you wrong. Simply having a discussion about it.

    Faith isn’t the sort of thing one can prove. Not even to oneself, much less someone else.

    Nor can someone else demand you have it. Until the end times come, it will never be proved. At any given time, one either feels there is a God and a Spiritual presence, ….or not.

    It’s not like science where the experiment is successful and then all the observers believe, or at least they do until new or contrary evidence is available from the next experiment.

    Christ teachings appear in the Bible, (I believe most scientists do not dispute Christ’s existence even if they don’t believe him God) and we learn more about God from Christ’s Parables therein, but reading it won’t prove or disprove God’s existence, or even the age of the earth.

    When the pupil is ready to seek, somehow the teacher appears. Maybe for today it was you that became mine as it was your questions that had me reading in new areas. I’ve never been much of a Bible reader, as I alluded to before (November 4th, 2005 at 2:58 pm) but today you asked me a question I had never considered….not having much time in the past to ponder things…..and so I searched a bit on the Internet and also in a Book explaining Bible stuff, to see if the Bible mentioned how old the earth is.

    All I found is only what Bible scholars figured it to be from all the begets and begots.

    So far, it seems what science has been written into the Bible, eventually matches up with “real” science, – so who knows what could someday become in “sync” with science. Perhaps something happened that raised or lowered temps dramatically for an instant, and affected the aging of materials, or perhaps a “day” in pre Biblical times was much longer than now….whatever.

    By the way, I clicked on your website…now THAT is quite different from anything I’ve seen before! What corporation will it be about?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Lynn, I think religion has served a purpose over the centuries – it has given people a code to live by – but I also think we can have a code to live by without being religious.

    It’s true lots of people have believed in a creator without any evidence to back up their belief. Usually, not always, it starts in childhood. It’s easy to get children to believe in magical, unseen forces. Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny spring to mind. The difference is that when they get to be a certain age, their parents tell them the truth. With religion, no one dares. Perhaps it’s a carryover from the Inquisition when people were burned alive at the stake by the church for daring to question the church. Imagine if George Bush started doing that, justifying it by telling everyone it was a matter of national security.

    As for monotheism, believing in one God, that is relatively recent in our history. People long believed before that in many Gods. I have more tolerance for this perspective since they at least understood there was a force causing the wind to blow or the rain to fall or the fire to burn. Of course, you and I now know that praying to the God of wind is not going to stop a hurricane, but at least they were believing in something they could feel, touch or see. Why have faith in something you don’t know exists?

    Christ did exist, but science never agreed he was the son of God. We know very little about him and what we do know is hearsay told by people after he had died. There is no question he was charismatic. At the time he came along, the Jewish religion had become very rigid and in need of some loosening up. There were thousands of people preaching around the time of Jesus – he is the one who is remembered most, martyred in a public execution, with loyal followers there to witness his horrible death and keep his name alive. Doesn’t make him literally the ‘Son of God’.

    Fact is, nowadays when people ‘speak to God’, they are put on medication, like the people who think they are Napoleon or Bugs Bunny. Just because somebody 2000 years ago who claimed they spoke to and for God decided arbitrarily that the earth was a few thousand years old doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, we know for a fact that it isn’t true. Denying it or inventing ways that it could be true is unnecessary and denies the progress we have made since the bible was first published.

    There is one telling difference between the scientific view and the religious view and it is this: science does not arrogantly claim to have all the answers, including those of the hereafter, if there is one. Religion arrogantly does, based on no facts, no evidence, no proof, nothing. I prefer the more humble view of science which understands better our tiny place in the universe. What science does understand it has studied and tested, unlike religion which just proclaims it and then insists we believe. We are born with minds and whether you believe God put them there or they evolved naturally, they are there to be used.

    You are free of course to believe what you want. I’m not saying you have to see things my way. I think it might be a good idea if you’re really interested in the subject to look a little deeper into both sides of it, but only if it suits you.

    Thank you for arguing your point of view so tenaciously. The best way to sort anything out is through open, honest discussion where there are no taboo subjects and no fear of causing offence by exploring every possibility.

    The book we are publishing details corruption, or at the very least incompetence, at the highest levels of corporate America. The name of the company involved however, is being kept secret until the book is released, currently at the printers and on schedule for December 2005. :-)

  • Bill Henry

    Noel, I agree with virtually everything you say re our invisible celestial friends, except for your statement: “Christ did exist, but science never agreed he was the son of God. We know very little about him and what we do know is hearsay told by people after he had died.” Here’s a page from East Bay Atheists that provides an excellent thesis to the contrary. Oh, and and Lynn, you can always read it too! Warning: It might be dangerous to your faith!
    http://www.eastbayatheists.org/jesusneverwas.html

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Bill, I think there’s always some truth behind legends and it seems reasonable to me that there existed a real person upon whom the story of Jesus is based, as there probably was a real person upon whom Robin Hood is based, or King Arthur, or even Santa Claus (a turkish priest of means who was kind in his day).

    I do not think Jesus was the Son of God, born of a virgin, flew up into heaven, turned water into wine (unless he had a sideline in magical tricks) or any of the other supernatural powers and affiliations he is credited with. It’s human nature to exaggerate, a tendency that is one of the more entertaining aspects of human nature.

    I can be entertained by these exaggerated stories without believing in them, just as I can pop down to my local pub for a Guinness and hear Tall John recount for the 30th time that time he knocked the stuffing out of 74 muggers on his way home from late night bingo. It started out as one 50-year-old arthrithic toy gun wielder with a cane and an eye patch who fled the second he said boo, but never mind.

  • Lynn

    Lynn, I think religion has served a purpose over the centuries – it has given people a code to live by – but I also think we can have a code to live by without being religious.

    Even the best of sailors need a fixed star to navigate by. As we’ve seen in the translations subsequent to the earliest records of Christ’s teachings, distortion happens in the best of translations. One need only look around to see how quickly evil can morph and masquarade as good. It’s a slippery slope indeed.

    Having that code is a sort of impetuous to keep drilling down, to keep trying to be less sinful tomorrow than one may be today, rather than continually accepting the lessor evil – as you may have even have seen happen in your corporate studies.

    science does not arrogantly claim to have all the answers, including those of the hereafter, if there is one. Religion arrogantly does, based on no facts, no evidence, no proof, nothing.

    I can almost see that as reversed Noel. Science does claim to be the place for all the answers, and rightfully so. They just haven’t discovered all of them yet.

    On the contrary, my faith is in that which I haven’t all the answers, in the “powers that be”. If we strip away the term “God” and “heaven” etc. and put in “hereafter” and “higher power” I get the feeling it’d be a concept you’d see more possibility in, as you wrote the word if

    the hereafter, if there is one

    so perhaps you haven’t totally discounted that.

    There do seem to be “natural” laws of good and evil ie: making good choices in life usually will lead to living a more rewarding life than bad choices.

    Christ contributed to our Spiritual health, scientists like Jonas Salk, and Louis Pasteur contributed to our physical health. We know of no way to prove a higher power had a hand in any of it, and no way not to.

    Maybe there won’t ever be. Then again, maybe science will someday prove the existence of something other than our physical selves.

    A year or so ago, I read an article where a women had been clinically dead on an operating table. I don’t remember the details, but the article explained that the usual hallucinations could not take place, because the state the woman’s body was in was akin to a computer being denied it’s electrical source. They got her back and when the woman woke up, she clearly reiterated exactly what had been done, and when, where and how on her leg….(a part of her body which had not been part of the scheduled procedure but from which they had taken something to use somewhere else I think), and which she could not have physically seen or felt. She described watching the entire thing from outside of her body while she lay “dead” on the table.

    We don’t know what we don’t know.

  • Bill Henry

    Noel, From what I’ve been able to research, there were a LOT of Christ-like preachers running around in those days, many proclaiming “end times” scenarios. Jesus was most likely a composite character drawn from these people. If we examine the writings of St Paul and the other epistles, we find that there are no eyewitness accounts of JC, just “visions” and hearsay. Thanks to a couple quirks in history, Emperor Constantine in 325 adapting Christianity as the state religion after having had a “vision” of Jesus in a battle the previous year, and Pope Leo 1 and the church getting credit for the death of Atilla in 453, Christianity got its grip on Europe. Atilla was poised to sweep into and destroy Rome that next Spring but he happened to die that Winter with Leo attributing it to JC and Company. Had things turned out differently, we might still have Zeus or Baal today! Personally, I like Beezelbub; just LOVE that name!

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Even the best of sailors need a fixed star to navigate by.

    I think the “fixed star” comes from within you, stemming mostly from what your parents or other people who cared about you taught you when you were growing up, but mostly stemming from your own character. It is the values you live by, the things you would or would not do. You can live by a personal code without having to subscribe to a religion.

    There do seem to be “natural” laws of good and evil ie: making good choices in life usually will lead to living a more rewarding life than bad choices – and – One need only look around to see how quickly evil can morph and masquarade as good.

    There is a suggestion here that if you profess a religious conviction, you have the right to judge and condemn people who do not see things your way. Lynn, there is nothing evil about using your mind and preferring knowledge over fairy tales.

    “Science does not arrogantly claim to have all the answers, including those of the hereafter, if there is one. Religion arrogantly does, based on no facts, no evidence, no proof, nothing.”

    I can almost see that as reversed Noel.

    Science offers evidence, religion offers none. The statement is not reversible. Science does not claim to have all the answers. It is searching for them, but it accepts it hasn’t got all of them. Religion believes, based on no evidence or facts or proof, that it has all the answers, but refuses to debate those answers based on evidence or facts or proof because it does not have any evidence or facts or proof.

    My faith is in that which I haven’t all the answers, in the “powers that be”.

    You are the “powers that be”. An old woman once told me that the secret to the universe is contained within each one of us. It just takes a little confidence in yourself to bring it out and it always helps to starts with the facts.

    If we strip away the term “God” and “heaven” etc. and put in “hereafter” and “higher power” I get the feeling it’d be a concept you’d see more possibility in.

    Changing the terminology doesn’t really change anything, at least nothing substantive. It could just as easily be space aliens who “intelligently designed” life. What I would like to know is who or what this “higher power” or “intelligent designer” is, what exactly it is supposed to have done and why exactly he is taking an interest in our moldy little planet?

    … you wrote the word if “the hereafter, if there is one” so perhaps you haven’t totally discounted that.

    As the Christian (and other religions I am aware of) understands it, yes, I have discounted it.

    We know of no way to prove a higher power had a hand in any of it, and no way not to.

    I can think of a way – all the creator has to do is make an appearance, say on the McNeil-Lehrer NewsHour and answer a few direct questions, one I’d like answered being: Why did God make Abraham feel it was necessary for him to be willing to kill one of his own children to prove he loved God?

    On your story about the woman declared clinically dead, I am sure there is an explanation and am also sure we do not know what it is yet, but at least science investigates these things. For example, scientists photographed a leaf and its electro-magnetic field. They then cut a piece out of the leaf and photographed it again. In this second photograph, the electro-magnetic field of the leaf was whole even though it was missing a piece. They kept photographing it. A few hours later, its electro-magnetic field shrank to the new size of the leaf. There is no question that when something dies, be it leaf, germ, or person, the binding energy leaves and the body decays. This does not mean we go to heaven or hell. This does not mean there is a God. All it means is that while we are alive there is energy within us that leaves and dissipates when we die. For those of you who like ghost stories, one could claim that occasionally the imprint of life sticks around for a while in some cases.

    We don’t know what we don’t know.

    Too right, but at least science investigates it, like in my previous example. Here are some of the facts we have discovered in this discussion:

    Fact 1: Exactly how evolution occurs is a matter of debate, but that it occurs is a scientific fact.

    Fact 2: The earth is not 7,000 years old. It is approximately 4.5 billion years old.

    Fact 3: Science strives to prove its theories. Religion does not.

    Fact 4: The bible is a collection of stories from a time when we as a race were for the most part ignorant and afraid of the things we did not understand. What knowledge there was resided with a very small percentage of the population. It wasn’t like today where anyone can buy a bible or a book by Pythagorus on Greek Math, or even if they could, be expected to know how to read it.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    Bill, I’m all for Thor. There’s something about a big angry Norwegian with a hammer striking down those who make him even angrier with a bolt of lightning. It has to be true. You can’t make this stuff up. ;-)

  • Lynn

    re: a “hereafter”

    As the Christian (and other religions I am aware of) understands it, yes, I have discounted it.

    As religion understands it, you have discounted it. That seems to suggest a way you have not discounted.

    Just curious Noel…what would that look like?

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    I do not believe in a hereafter, however I cannot honestly say I will know the truth until I die. It may be that there are other dimensions. It may be that there is nothing. As James M. Barry wrote Peter Pan saying: “To die would be a very great adventure.”

    Now let me ask you a question. Based on what can you say for certain that there is a God?

  • Lynn

    however I cannot honestly say I will know the truth until I die.

    Nor will anyone. And, if there is no higher power, we won’t even get to know it then either.

    Now let me ask you a question. Based on what can you say for certain that there is a God?

    As they say, nothing is certain…..

    But, I find it more preposturous to think the DNA, the blueprint so to speak of the world, and it’s patterns, order and complexity, all just designed itself randomly, than the alternative explanation that a higher power exists.

  • http://www.bloodandtreasure.com Noel Guinane

    I find it more preposturous to think the DNA, the blueprint so to speak of the world, and it’s patterns, order and complexity, all just designed itself randomly, than the alternative explanation that a higher power exists.

    You find this preposterous, but you don’t have a knowledge of science. You can’t write things off without understanding them first. Wanting to believe something, in the absence of any evidence to support it and despite plenty of evidence to dispute it, is willful ignorance.

    Would you like us to be like the mullahs in Iran and turn the clock back to the dark ages?

  • Lynn

    Is what you are saying Noel, that unless we are scientists, we cannot make a decision on that? I’m not a theologian either.

    Should you ever need a surgeon Noel, will you not put your life in his hands even though you are not learned in his field?

    And as long as there are learned scientists who have studied all this stuff, and STILL believe in God, along with learned theologians….well, surely I won’t learn more than they about the subject in the small amount of time I have left on this earth.

    One of them, Michael Behe, is in Court in Pa. arguing this subject, even as we discuss it here.

    Noel, I’ve been a little busy in life, filling four roles instead of two…..mother,father,breadwinner and homemaker, (and was a business owner of a 15 hr a day, seven day a week business I built to support it all) Growing up in a farming family, I was not allowed the benefit of college.

    There are many fields I have an interest in and skills I’d like to learn, some of which relate to computers. First I must dig my way out of the situation I find myself in after an embezzler hit my business, thus destroying the free time I had promised myself during this time period of my life. Unfortunately, rebuilding something else might take up a good chunk of the rest of my life. I’m tired, very tired.

    Science has never drawn me, as it seems to fascinate you. I hope someday to have the luxury to study some subjects, but even then I doubt science will be one of them.

    God isn’t a science. He is a presence some of us accept on faith, as has been done before the dark ages, thru the dark ages and into the present.

    Tomorrow, new discoveries could completely change the THEORY of evolution.

    Three scenarios:

    Accept God and die….and there is no God, no other dimension.

    Accept God and die, and there IS a God.

    Reject God and die…and there IS a God.

    I don’t care for that third option, nor do I care to reject a presence I feel strongly. Even scientists have made startling discoveries following their intuitions. Perhaps I can’t prove them in this lifetime, but I’m following mine.

  • W.J. Jones

    Lynn,

    Notice what Noel said in an earlier post: “The bible is a collection of stories from a time when we as a race were for the most part ignorant and afraid of the things we did not understand.”

    And what race would that be? The Bible is mostly the history of the Jews, written by them and for them, and only in the last thousand years or so has it reached the Gentiles. Who is the “we” in that sentence?

    If I’m following him correctly, that borders on anti-Semitism to call the Jews an ignorant race of people when, in fact, the holidays they celebrate today — Yom Kippur, for example — were carried down from thousands of years and hundreds of generations. Apparently their ancestors were never really imprisoned in Egypt — lots of fables and stories, right?

    It was also telling that Noel scoffed at your on-target message about DNA and its incredible design and detail. While there was a time when religion and science were competing for followers, it seems that science today is the very tool that shows God’s awesome wisdom. Yet even as science shows us the fingerprints of a creator, the creation is running around in the dark, stumbling and tripping over each other to explain away the amazing world we live in.

    There was a time when the scientist asked some priest in the Dark Ages to explain again why the world was flat when the evidence pointed against it. Now those roles have reversed, and it is the scientist insisting that the world is flat and holding on to a foolish faith despite the evidence in from of him.

  • http://gumbopie.blogspot.com Steve Teeter

    Lynn, your little conundrum is called Pascal’s Wager, after theologian Blaise Pascal who found it a convincing justification for belief. But there’s the problem with it, the fatal flaw: belief in what?

    To show you what I mean, let me add a fourth scenario:

    Spend your life believing in and devoted to Christ Jesus, die….and find that Allah is not happy with you at all.

    Or the other way around.

  • Lynn

    science today is the very tool that shows God’s awesome wisdom

    WJ… agreed.:-)

    As well:

    I am not a leader on these issues but a follower. Not a scientist; not a theologian. I do not have to qualify myself as either to be a believer or give an opinion (that’s what we look to priests, Reverends and scientists for). In the case of science I’ve choosen to look to those scientists who have taken the course and still believe in God, for guidance in that area.

    We all have limited time in this world to study and work, and one cannot re-invent every wheel.

    Seems Noel would require I would learn more, or prove more as a lay person on religion, science, medicine, …every subect…than they, or be termed “wilfully ignorant”.

    Perhaps Noel has led a very privilged life that allowed him a degree in every subject and now is wilfully ignorant on none of them. Even so, whose to say his learning on the subject exceeds that of the scientist Michael Behe, amongst others..who have their degrees and do believe in Intelligent Design.

    The Case of Behe vs. Darwin
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-behe5nov05%2C0%2C7440396.story?coll=la-home-nation

  • http://gumbopie.blogspot.com Steve Teeter

    But, but,…. Lynn, I followed the link to that article, and the very first lines feature biochemist

  • http://gumbopie.blogspot.com Steve Teeter

    Mm, excuse me. Hit the post button by accident.

    As I was saying, feature biochemst Behe having to admit on the witness stand, under oath, that his colleagues think he’s an idiot. Or at least that they consider his work and writings unscientific, and coming from fellow scientists that’s pretty damning commentary.

    You’re really not helping your argument with citations like that.

  • Lynn

    Which lines, Steve?

    Even some of Behe’s strongest critics believe he may have scored important points in his mid-October court appearance. His detailed presentation might have given intelligent design the appearance of credibility it had been struggling to achieve, they said.

    “Behe does not convince me in the slightest,” said Michael Ruse, a Florida State University philosophy professor who wrote “The Evolution-Creation Struggle” and is in the Darwinian camp. “But he’s a genial, personable guy, and he comes across as a very serious man. I don’t think you can dismiss him as a crank. He is a real scientist.”

  • Bill Henry

    WJ, The story of Jews in Egypt IS another biblical fairy tale! If they were there for anywhere near that length of time, you would see similarities in Hebrew from Arabic as spoken in Egypt. It would be sort of like the “TexMex” we have on the border where the two cultures co-mingle. I suppose you believe the Red Sea story about it opening up for Moses and his people to escape, then drowning the Egyptians? Man, if a story like that appeared in the Koran or other religious book, you’d die laughing! BTW, that Passover story is another in a long line of bloody events brought about by bloodthirsty Jehovah. Actually, come to think of it, at least when Jehovah killed you off, that was it. It took his “son” Jesus, AKA Prince of Peace” to follow you into death and torment you for eternity! But I digress……….

  • Lynn

    http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=10049

    Dr. Lemaitre was the first physicist to establish that the universe and everything in it were created out of nothing, that time and space had a beginning, and that the universe expanded from an infinitely small point.

  • W.J. Jones

    Bill,

    Like I told Lynn, it sure is funny to watch unbelievers scoff at each and every scrap of evidence that exists. I imagine that the imprisonment of the Jews is easily proven as a part of their history, though since I’m not Jewish nor a Jewish historian I’m not the person to take up that issue with you. Did Jesus even exist since the Jewish historian Josephus mention him briefly, or was Josephus an invention, too? Did the Jews even have historians?

    Let’s say that I had the evidence of the Jews in Egypt to say right now — pow!! — there’s the evidence from a source such as a National Geographic expedition, a reputable university or some such source that you would trust.

    Even after that, my friend, you would move the goal line once again. And that’s why playing ball with you is boring — you can’t even agree that the history of the game we’re discussing is even the least bit legitimate.

    It’s like the Gospel accounts of Jesus: since they’re not similar, then we should discount them since they disagree on the details. If they were almost exact in word and paragraph, then they’re just copies of each other.

    Keep moving the goal line, Bill. You’re doing a great job — I sure am laughing out loud…but not at the Torah.

  • Bill Henry

    WJ, We went thru that bit about Josephus before with you here on another blog subject a month or 2 ago. The brief mention, smuggled into his writings at a later date, has been largely discredited, even by the Catholic Chruch. Josephus was obviously a historical person, unlike the mythical Jesus. As far as Jews in Egypt, sure there have been Jews in Egypt for a LONG time, but no where’s near in the numbers that the bible states. Look up Exodus in the wikepida encyclopedia for some good info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus

    No, we Atheists aren’t the ones moving the goal line! We’re just trying to cross it by getting thru all the “blockers” who promote a rigged outcome of the game. The promoters of this “game” have been employing invisible players with imaginary powers. The fans have been fooled for centuries! We members of the “A” Team know their play book and are moving the ball up the field. Who knows, we might even start to win over some of their huge fan base!

  • W.J. Jones

    Bill,

    You said earlier the “story of Jews in Egypt IS another biblical fairy tale!”

    And now, hours later, your’re admitting that it’s a historical fact: “sure there have been Jews in Egypt for a LONG time, but no where’s near in the numbers that the bible states.”

    So let me get this straight: first you scoff at the notion that the Jews lived in Egypt, then you retreat and say, “Okay, they were there but not in the numbers the Bible says they were.”

    This is too funny. Like I said earlier, if archaelogists find evidence today that the Jews travelled in the numbers the Bible records, then you’ll just discount that and move on to the next atheist-inspired “but.”

    But. But. But. Your stumbling arguments make for good fodder.

  • Bill Henry

    WJ, Once again you TWIST everything to make Sky King and Company smell like a rose! I said the STORY, get it ,STORY of Jews in Egypt is a fairy tale! The STORY claims about 3 million of them in the Sinai. There is no evidence to support this biblical claim whatsoever. Here’s a line out of the Wikepedia article on the Exodus story: “Archaeologists have found no evidence that the Sinai ever hosted millions of people, nor of a massive population increase in Canaan during this time period.” You can read the whole thing if you want but I’m sure it won’t change your mind. Anyway, go ahead and take you best shot, I’m done with this thread since it’s getting buried under a ton of other stuff. I’m sure we will go at it again when the right blog subject comes up down the road!