Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Reasonableness of Faith

One thing I seem to come across more and more as I go about my daily business is the number of times people say that faith in God is crazy or senseless. I am very much a geek. I also loved the philosophy class that I took in college. Couple with that the fact that I fall under the Myers-Briggs INTJ personality classification, and you definitely get the idea that I'm both an intellectual and not one to just blindly put my trust in anything, let alone something I can't see. The Christian faith is something that is reasonable, not the realm of blithering idiots.

God loves us all more than is imaginable, but He wants us to choose Him. I don't know about you, but if everyone somehow knew for certain that He exists, there would be a huge number of people who'd follow Christ just for "fire insurance." Faith could be put into the realm of playing make-believe without some form of evidence. If I were in His position, I'd sure put in enough signs to point to me but still make it impossible to definitively prove my existence.

If you look at Wikipedia's entry for Intelligent Design, you'll find, unsurprisingly, information which does not try to present information impartially. Study some of the topics important to ID scientists, such as the parts of a flagellum in single-celled organisms, and while you won't find proof, you will find something to ponder.

Understanding a bit about philosophy and logic helps understand a little more about science. I wish that more scientists chose to remember more about logical reasoning. Many times they are not aware of premises that they bring with them when constructing hypotheses or devising experiments. A premise, for those unfamiliar, is an idea which you take as fact without question. Each premise a person chooses force constraints that lead to a conclusion. What if a premise is somehow colored or biased? It will likely lead to a biased conclusion. If , for example, I assume that the evolution is true, then I take certain concepts as fact. However, if I assume that neither ID nor evolution is true and just go where the evidence leads, then I may find that it takes me to an uncomfortable conclusion. When proponents of evolution call to time and chance to put together amino acids or something else, they should also keep in mind the minute chances that they are referring to. It takes a great amount of faith to trust in probabilities like that. Perhaps greater than what it takes to believe in God. It's something to think about.


  1. Are you serious?

    I think I'd like to tackle this issue with you.

    Belief in Christianity is most certainly not reasaonable. All of its foundational claims rest on provably false claims about the natural world we live in. The age of the universe, formation of our solar system and planet, the formation of life on Earth and our own origins. The bible gets all of these issues and more wildly and provably wrong.

    This extends further into claims about the origins of the Jews (the Exodus narrative), the flood story, Joshua's conquest of Canaan... none of which fit with the historical evidence we actually do have, and in the case of the flood story, are provably false beyond a doubt as written.

    As such, we know for a fact that Adam and Eve never existed. We know that Original Sin never happened because they weren't there to commit it. Provably.

    So whatever claims are made about Jesus dying to pardon us from that Original Sin, as clarified in Romans 5, it provably didn't happen. The point is moot.

    You're making claims about a particular god and what "He" thinks and feels etc... but these are nothing more than baseless fictional assertions from a millennias old book predicated on provably false claims about the natural world which are meant to establish the power and authority of a bronze and iron age middle eastern deity.

    Further, it seems that you confuse abiogenesis with evolution... you also fail to understand that chemistry isn't just a matter of time and chance. It's not just throwing a bunch of car parts in a closed garage and waiting for them to assemble into a car. These are things that are operated on by understood physical principles... atomic bonds, etc which lead to complex molecules... organic molecules, etc... and these are in turn acted upon by those natural forces in a sort of selection pressure. There are a number of ways that are demonstrable in science by which life could have originated (abiogenesis). It's just a matter of trying to figure out which was responisible. But it is provably very much possible and understandable.

    Further, evolution is a proven fact. It has been repeatedly observed in laboratory conditions (see the Lemski E Coli experiment) and in nature. That is happens is a simple fact.

    It doesn't take faith to understand these things. It merely takes education and understanding of information that is there already and quite extensively understood and documented.

    Failing to learn these things or refusing to look at them, and persisting in the idea that your position is valid would be intellectually dishonest, so I'm hoping you're open to look at the actual evidence and gain that understanding.

    It doesn't take more faith to believe in small chances when considered in geological time scales in relation to physical processes which we know exist, understand, and know continually happen... vs believing in something that we not only have no proof whatsoever for, but which stands in violation of essentially everything we do know to be objectively true about the world we live in. Asserting otherwise is either a failure to understand the issue at hand, or is dishonest attempt to convince both yourself and others of an argument that simply does not reflect the facts.

    Anyway... I look forward to covering these issues with you as I go through your Haiku programming guides, which I thank you for. :)

  2. Sorry my "Are you serious?" comment sounded rude. :(

    Here's some information to help explain the points I was referring to.

    Age of the Earth
    Human evolution
    Timeline of human evolution
    List of human evolution fossils
    Timeline of evolution
    List of transitional fossils
    Modern evolutionary synthesis
    Ring species
    Tree of life
    Evolution of the eye

    Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup ... which leads into terms like Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam, which the Christian mindset of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias instantly tries to mold into their mythology of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden... but these figurative individuals share their name no more than naming the planets after the Roman gods made those gods literally real.

    I think you can understand why they chose the names. ;) Not to mention that both of these individuals lived far down in Africa, and many thousands of years separated from each other... and were not the first humans either, but merely the earliest common ancestor genetically we can find due to the way Y chromosomes and Mitochondrial DNA are passed down through generations etc.

    Matrilineal Ancestor explanation graphic

    That image shows simply how that early ancestor, while not the only person around, ends up passing her particular mitochondrial DNA on to everyone else...

    As a matter of fact, just read "Common fallacies regarding Mitochondrial Eve" to clarify these points.

    Formation and evolution of the Solar System
    Geologic time scale
    History of the Earth
    Radiometric dating

    (continued next comment)

  3. Further...

    E.coli long-term evolution experiment
    Philosophic burden of proof
    Intellectual honesty
    Wishful thinking
    Reification (fallacy)
    Confirmation bias
    Cognitive dissonance
    Appeal to emotion

    And so on.

    Having been a Christian myself for over 20 years and a youth minister, and having continued to study science and theology and other religions and cultures etc for almost 20 years since, I consider myself well enough versed on the issue from both perspectives. I would like you to at least do me the courtesy of reading over the wikipedia articles on the relevant topics to get a passing understanding of the issues at hand before we really dig into this, as I'm going to expect you to at least understand what I'm talking about so that I don't have to waste my time and energy retyping them out for you. (If you would like a further explanation about a given point, that's understandable and I don't mind. I just don't want to have to repeat everything that is already explained in those articles.)

  4. As a final note for now, you might want to take the time to watch this video about the Intelligent Design movement.

    NOVA - Judgment Day -- Intelligent Design on Trial

    Further, that goes along with "The Wedge Strategy", "Teach the Controversy", and so forth.

    Now I consider you to be an intelligent person, so I'm hoping that you'll take the time to look over this information and get a better understanding of it so that we can move forward with at least a basic mutual understanding of the topics we're dealing with.

    Thank you in advance.

  5. Oops, one more note... forgot a link.

    Why NOVA covered the issue of Intelligent Design

    That's worth a watch in regards to the documentary they did on the Kitzmiller v Dover case. It explains why they chose to tackle such a contentious issue and how they tried to present it in as unbiased a manner as possible, sticking to the court transcripts etc.

    (Personally I have some issues with her explanation even, as it touches on another point we might get into... that of the distinction between a general deistic view of god and the Judeo-Christian god specifically... but we'll leave that for now.)

    Sorry for the length... I just want to be up front about where I'm coming from to give you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the issues. Thanks again.


  6. Hello, again "DarkWyrm":
    I'm really glad I found this.
    Maybe we can help each other.
    I'm definitely a 'believer', but it can be difficult to speak about the True God, specially to some who consider themselves to be of a scientific mind.
    Here's a thought:
    The average person may know that we live in a three dimensional universe.
    But the best science says that there must be at least 10 or 11 dimensions, total. That means that we can't detect or perceive the other 7 or 8.
    In researching the fourth dimension online, I learned that the theoretical fourth dimensional person could perform acts that would qualify as "miracles" to anyone unable to explain those actions 'rationally'.
    In my [Christian] world, I see our 3-D universe as a special construct, particularly as Scripture specifically states that God created the heavens and the earth' and that it was created for the purpose of providing a 'home' for mankind.
    Also, I think that God, and his angels, are all of higher dimensions, compared to humans.
    I have some other ideas, too, but that's enough for now.
    What do you think of this?
    BTW, "Justin Stressman" clearly has NO idea what Scripture says RE: some of the things he mentioned. His first paragraph is totally false, because the Bible doesn't even mention most of the things he cited.

    Have a GREAT day, Neighbor!