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An Explanation of the Big Bang and Evolution that doesn't exclude God.

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Rouge Null, Nov 28, 2004.

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  1. Undomiel

    Undomiel Jedi Padawan star 4

    May 17, 2002

    They're using its fuzziness to create cryptic communication systems (, if the system doesn't "observe" the information it can't be seen by snooping devices that look for the "observation" within the system to reveal the communication). The concept was derived from the "schrodinger's cat" paradox. Edit: Once the observation happens, the information changes "form."

    You said:

    Attempting to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs in one's head at the same time is a good reminder that we don't know everything there is to know, and that "there are stranger things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    My response:

    Which is precisely the reason why I brought it up. Some hard core scientists believe they aren't involved in fuzzy logic instances or concepts outside concrete proof, but that's becoming more and more a case of self-deception than anything else. Believing in something you cannot see because you can observe its effects on some "x" factor, is pretty much the same as religion.


    You said:

    Edit: I'm a little confused. Are you just suggesting that religion plays a role in science too? I won't deny that--I think it plays a role in everything. I won't try to convince non-theists of it, since I don't think you can argue someone into faith, but personally, I don't deny it at all.

    My response:

    Yeah, that and science can't claim it doesn't engage in similar activities to religion, as they are attempting to answer the same questions that religion does, just on different topics, related and marginally-related to each other.
  2. Undomiel

    Undomiel Jedi Padawan star 4

    May 17, 2002

    You said:

    (but I would not mind saying PPOR to your clam that it happens with carbon dating, not so much doubting you so much that I want details).

    what else are they going to do with it? it isn't of any use. perhaps they suspect its been subjected to atmospheric changes that have depleted the carbon 14 at a different rate than it would normally.. who knows. but it's useless to evolutionary theory if it can't be dated to support evolutionary theory. ya know?

    Carbon-dating only serves one purpose - to support evolution, which mainstream science already believes in so firmly, that any variations in carbon-dating are seen as anomalies. they only use carbon-dating to support what they feel is a solid theory in the first place.

    there's an article out there from some science magazine that covers the processes fossils are put through to determine their age. i'll see if i can find it and link you.
  3. Shroom

    Shroom Jedi Youngling star 2

    Apr 3, 2004
    I was going to write a longish post, particularly to refute a number of points raised in a recent post by CitizenKane, but to be honest I had trouble getting enthused enough, so I'll just pick the final point as it irritates me every time this misconception is aired:

    "The evolutonist says that tornado whipped through town, took all those pieces of debris,and somehow managed to arrange of Boeing 747. The Christian says a person with logic and design created the Boeing. Which is more logically sound?"

    This is nonsense. Evolution says no such thing, and if you've got that impression either it hasn't been explained properly to you, or you've misunderstood.
    For evolution to magically assemble a complex organism like a tornado making a 747 would certainly stretch anyone's belief. This is why evolution works in increments.

    Every tiny change is one which can be anticipated as being within the range of genetic variation and mutation that you can expect to see when organisms reproduce. Some of those tiny, tiny changes give a very slight advantage to individual organisms, because for whatever reason, in the competition to successfully reproduce they have a slight benefit that those without the variation do not.

    This advantage only needs to be very slight, but across the population as a whole, statistically the variation does better than its counterparts, and is passed on to the next generation.

    Lets use the junkyard analogy if we really have to. Imagine for the sake of argument that if any 2 tiny bits of the 747 were correctly attached to each other, this was somehow more 'useful' than two pieces which were never meant to go together. Now imagine that all those bits in the junkyard are constantly being flung together by that tornado ('mating').

    If two bits which are meant to go together happen to combine, you get a 'hit' and they stay together. You'll expect to see little 'two-piece' combinations starting to crop up all over the place, then three pieces, then four. You're not asking the tornado to arrange a plane in one go, but if something works, it sticks, and you keep going. Over the geological time in which evolution takes place, the probability of making your 747 suddenly becomes very achievable.

    Another way of understanding it is if you had to guess a 10 digit code. If you keep trying, and I just say yes or no, it isn't going to happen. If instead I give answers like "you're wrong, but the digit you've guessed for the second number is the right one", you'll get that code quite quickly.

    My only proviso to these analogies is that they suggest there is a final end point that evolution is trying to 'guess', a complete 747, a 10 digit code. this isn't the case at all. Evolution is only ever blindly selecting those attributes which best fit at any particular time, so you could have a 747 today, but in another million years, it could be a submarine.

    (I'm no scientist, so if I've made any glaring errors in trying to explain that, I'm sure you'll let me know!)
  4. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Jun 25, 2002
    It's not my habit to try and "convert" non-theists, and I'm not trying to do that here. However, CK's analogy is better than you suppose, Shroom. It has nothing at all to do with the speed with which evolution takes place, and everything to do with the fact that evolution is the one force in nature that we've ever run across which seems to counteract the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law states that the disorder in the universe is eternally increasing. Evolution runs the other way--from disorder to order. The analogy of expecting the forces of disorder (a tornado) to create something that has a high degree of order (a 747) is actually very apt, and one of the better ones for intelligent design.

    I happen to believe that you can't prove God's existence from the observation of nature, since A) if you could, you'd think we'd all be believers by now, since there's been an awful lot of nature-observation going on over the years, and B) proof of God's existence negates faith, and replaces divine revelation with an attempt at the scientific method. I'm not willing to allow the quasi-religion of science to so coopt my view of things that I seek scientific proof for beliefs that ought to lie outside the realm of science. Scientists don't pretend that they can prove everything--particularly not things related to qualitative human experiences. Why should I pretend otherwise?

    Of course, if you're a theist who is looking for traces of the touch of God's hand in the natural world, evolution is a good place to start.

    If you're just dying to know, evolution is dependent on self-referentiality--collections of amino acids that modify themselves, and appear to "know" they exist. You can replicate the effect with computer code that logically folds back on itself. This is what creates fractals, by the way, which often look startlingly like things from nature--leaves, frost patterns on the window, etc. Self-referentiality isn't the same thing as self-awareness, but it's the beginnings of it. An argument for intelligent design? Not necessarily, but it is a thought of stunning simplicity and beauty. I don't discount the existence of rare miracles--events that run counter to the usual laws of physics in ways we almost never see. God performs these when they're absolutely necessary to his plan--such as the Resurrection. But why dismiss the power of everyday miracles, such as order spontaneously arising out of disorder? While I claim to prove nothing, I get a strange, spooky feeling while watching a fractal program draw its organic shapes on a computer screen. It suggests that somewhere down there in the math at the base of physics, there's something alive.

    This is the seed of a Julia fractal, which can be fed into a graphics program: h(n+1) = f(h(n)) + p

    You iterate that formula--you feed the results of the formula back into itself again--and you get strangely organic self-similar shapes like [link=]these[/link].
  5. Shroom

    Shroom Jedi Youngling star 2

    Apr 3, 2004
    Ophelia, the beauty of evolution as I see it is that fantastic complexity can come about through just a few very simple starting premises.

    In this case, replication, variation, and the differential selection of variation through natural selection. Pass this on to a new generation and repeat, and you can explain all the organic complexity we see today.

    Entropy I think is a much misused principal, particularly when it is raised as a findamental stumbling block to evolution. Next time you walk along a pebble strew beach pause to consider it. You'll notice that rather than being all mixed up together, from the tiniest grains of sand to the larger stones, they are actually 'arranged' in size order. This is a natural consequence of the force of the sea, very much like using a sieve. For those who cling to entropy as an immutable law, one would expect the constantly shifting material to be utterly chaotic. Surely any order would suggest intelligent ordering? Doesn't the formation of a snowflake also represent far more coherence than the water molecules in their gaseous state?

    In each case complexity can come from the repetition of a very simple process. Darwin's genius was to see the same principal applied to life itself, in its marvellous variety.
  6. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Jun 25, 2002
    For those who cling to entropy as an immutable law, one would expect the constantly shifting material to be utterly chaotic.

    No, I don't expect that it ought to be now, I expect that it *will* be. Like evolution, the increase of disorder occurs over time, and if you stand around waiting to see Yeats' vision of the Second Coming, in which "things fall apart/ The center cannot hold," you'll be waiting a long time. However, entropy *is* an immutable law. Whenever a machine generates waste heat or an object rolls down a hill and slowly stops, you're seeing entropy in action.

    Evolution actually increases the net disorder of the universe just as much as anything else--the energy we use to stay alive eventually ends up as heat, which is the lowest state of energy. Life is actually profligate with energy--who knows by how much we've shortened the life of the universe simply by being alive? (Assuming God holds with his pattern of having consistent physical laws--and we don't discover any new ones--which would mean the universe will likely end as a great diffuse nothing at a uniform temperature.)

    However, the fact that order should arise out of disorder at all, even at a net increase in disorder, is very strange. You are correct, by the way, that spontaneously-arising order is seen outside evolution. Fractals--and ice crystals on a window-pane, for that matter--are evidence of this.

    Surely any order would suggest intelligent ordering? Doesn't the formation of a snowflake also represent far more coherence than the water molecules in their gaseous state?

    My personal belief is that something more profound and strange is going on than the classic watch-maker God winding the universe up and letting it go, if that's what you mean by "intelligent design." I think that the forces that make us human are embedded in the framework of the universe, part of a self-similar pattern not unlike a giant, four(?) dimensional fractal. It represents, in a sense, a single simultaneous act of creation, since each part contains the "seed code" for every other.

    This is the opposite of a "random forces" model of the universe. (Does that make any sense anyway? How do we get from initial random forces to increasing disorder?) It suggests that whatever it is that lies "at the bottom of the garden," to misappropriate Adams' phrase, it's not strange and alien and inhuman, but very much "alive" and intelligeable. When and if we discover God's seed-code for the universe, it will probably be very small, self-referential, supremely elegant, and recognizeably "intelligent." If you want some proof of that, listen to fractal music, which is generated by an iterated equation like the one above, and not composed by any person. It *sounds* intelligeable and "human," however, even though it's only math.

    Apparently "The da Vinci Code" is partly about a similar concept, involving phi--a ratio of 1.618 . . . (blah, blah, infinity, blah) that shows up over and over in nature. Artists and architechts have used this ratio as a composition basis for their works since ancient Greek times, because, like fractals, there's something strangely organic, even familiar, about it. If nothing else, this suggests that we are intimately connected with the rest of the universe in a fundamental, almost spooky way. Either there is something intelligent out there behind fractal music and nautilus shells and the proportions of the Mona Lisa, or our intelligence is part of a self-similar pattern that underlies the universe. If you accept that, it leaves you with a choice between something like traditional theism and something like deism--take your pick.

    The most accessible page on [link=]phi[/link] I could find. Wikipedia on [link=]phi[/link].

    [link=]Fractal music[/link], in case you're interested. Nobody "wrote" this music, although fractal music creators arranged it. (They decided whether a vio
  7. dizfactor

    dizfactor Jedi Knight star 5

    Aug 12, 2002
    The moment we managed to create a branch of science called "Cloning," was the moment we gave up the argument that such a thing as intelligent design was impossible.

    i don't think anyone's arguing that lifeforms cannot be intelligently designed. obviously, there's no real reason you can't create life in a test tube designed to your specifications. the question isn't whether that's possible, but whether we (homo sapiens) are the result of such an experiment, and there's no reason to suspect that we are.
  8. im_posessed

    im_posessed Jedi Youngling star 3

    Nov 13, 2002
    However, entropy *is* an immutable law.

    Just a word on entropy, it applies to a closed system, which earth is not, we're constantly getting a feed of energy from the sun, so entropy does not always apply

    However, it is possible to view the universe as a whole as a closed system, so entropy would apply there (as can be seen in the slowing of expansion)
  9. Jediflyer

    Jediflyer Jedi Master star 5

    Dec 5, 2001
    Every single star in the universe starts off with only hydrogen and helium atoms and ends its life with much heavier elements.
  10. Undomiel

    Undomiel Jedi Padawan star 4

    May 17, 2002

    there's lots of reasons to suspect that we are, and as i mentioned before, this is one area that science has failed us. it's so focused on one theory, it can't see past the end of its own collective nose. instead of giving any weight whatsoever to all the experiences of all the people down through history, their writings and wisdom, they pitch it all in the garbage and claim the people were hallucinating or simply in need of a security blanket.
  11. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Jun 25, 2002
    im_possessed wrote: Just a word on entropy, it applies to a closed system, which earth is not, we're constantly getting a feed of energy from the sun, so entropy does not always apply.

    Well . . . the net state of energy in the universe should be continually dropping to lower states, even if some parts of the universe experience continuous feeds or increases in order. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is like a loan shark--it may give you a dollar, but it wants a dollar and a quarter back.

    I actually can't figure out how this would work in an open, eternally-expanding universe. I guess if everything's expanding into the equivalent of the vacuum of space, no air to provide friction, etc., maybe the Big Bang would provide enough energy for the universe to keep on expanding forever . . . However, you'd think that gravity would put some kind of drag chute on it, and if the expanding stuff interacted with other expanding stuff, the impact would cause some of the kinetic energy of both kinds of stuff to drop to a lower state, wearing away the universe's ability to expand by slow attrition. By that logic, sooner or later, we'd still end up with a universe of chaos. Sometimes people talk about an unknown "repulsive" force driving the galaxies apart . . . other than that, I don't know.

    Just for what it's worth, an article on the philosophical/theological implications of open universe vs. closed universe (I don't know that it's very good, but at least it keeps my post on-topic):[ul]Theological Implications

    When it comes to theology as such, we find a somewhat different situation. Whereas philosophers try to depend on sheer reason or logic to establish their claims, theologians generally claim to work from the "data" of revelation, only depending on reason to better explicate or defend their beliefs. It was Pascal who reminded us that "the God of the philosophers is not the God of the prophets" -- thus reassurring the theologians that they have a corner on the market for eternal verities. But this does not excuse the theologian from the task of keeping up with science. Indeed, it is because the philosophical tools employed by the theologian depend, to a marked degree on the world-view or cosmology assumed by a particular philosophy, that it becomes all the more vital that the theologian be fully aware of the latest findings of science -- much less be distainful of scientists who seem to be increasingly venturing into theology themselves.

    Thus, no matter how the theologians may wince at seeming flippancies as Lederman's "God Particle" or are perhaps are put off by those who would describe higher mathematics as revealing "The Mind of God" (the title of a 1992 book by mathematical physicist Paul Davies, who also wrote "God and the New Physics" and "The Cosmic Blueprint"), still, they would do well to play close attention to what is happening in the world of science, particularly cosmology. After all, despite Einstein's refusal to believe in a God who plays dice with the universe, the seeming contradiction between quantum-level fluctuations (chance) and the seeming transformation such chaos into large scale events describable with mathematical precision could give theologians some powerful clues. But this is only if they would read the book of nature as assiduously as they read the book of revelation -- which one would think they would do if believe it is the same God who wrote them both.

    In this case, what would an "open" universe tell them? For one, rather fortuitously, it would seem to confirm the intuition of the Western world-view , with its roots in the biblical sense of history, that things happen once for all, and that this world, despite occasional impressions to the contrary, is not primarily a cyclical or endlessly self-repetitious phenomenon. But if this is true regarding the fate of the universe, what about its beginnings?

    It would also seem that now, for the first time in history, theologians need not find themselves in the old position held by Aquinas, who held that the idea
  12. ben_07

    ben_07 Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 8, 2002
    We are not nearly done with science, there is still much more to be discovered.

    I believe that eventually science will reveal absolute evidence of God, which is objective.

    How? I don't know so don't ask, because I just said it won't be discovered for, probably, quite a while!

    But I have faith that it will.

    God has already "revealed" himself to prophets and others like the Indians, Buddha, Abraham, Muhammed, Moses, etc. (As a Christian I believe that Christ was the son of God, that God revealed his entire purpose of love to him because he was born special and was the only way to see the true revelation, to spread it to others)

    God was trying to save us all this time by just revealing the meaning of the universe to us through these prophets, you just have to have faith in the belief that love is supreme. But some didn't believe and have made discoveries. But I think it will all eventually lead us up to the same conclusion revealed by ancient prophets and Christ, which all say the same thing. God was just trying to save us the time of trying to prove it all through sciene.

    Science will NOT eventually lead the non-believers to proof that there is no God and make the believers look like idiots, but it will lead to proof that there is a God and the believers have known his secrets all along by faith, and the non-believers will be the jealous ones.

    MY opinion anyways.

  13. cal_silverstar

    cal_silverstar Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 15, 2002

    That's a fascinating article. I read a Time magazine article a few years back that stated that all evidence points to an open universe which will eventually perish in a heat death. But this differs from what I'd like to believe. I'd like to believe that we exist in a closed universe that repeats itself in a continuous cycle. But why worry about such things?
  14. VoijaRisa

    VoijaRisa Jedi Master star 5

    Oct 12, 2002
    Einstein believed God. There I said it.

    IMO, physics should only be used for one purpose: to prove or disprove the existence of God.

    1) Einstien did not believe in god. In fact, he disliked religion quite a bit.

    "I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own
    creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. [He was speaking of Quantum Mechanics and the breaking down of determinism.] My religiosity consists in a humble admiratation of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance -- but for us, not for God."

    -Albert Einstein, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side"

    In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests....
    -Albert Einstein, address at the Princeton Theological Seminary, May 19, 1939

    "I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the kind that we experience in ourselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual that survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fear or absurd egoism, cherish such thoughts.
    -Albert Einstein, "The World as I See It"

    "I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it."
    -Albert Einstein, "The Human Side"

    "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a
    personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our
    science can reveal it."

    -Albert Einstein, 1954, from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side"

    "What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of "humility." This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism"
    -Albert Einstein

    "Although I cannot believe that the individual survives the death of his body, feeble souls harbor such thought through fear or ridiculous egotism."
    -Albert Einstein

    2) As for your second point, Science does not and cannot prove or disprove God. It does disprove (or at least cast severe doubt on) several claims in the bible. But this in and of itself cannot "disprove God". It can only hurt the credibility of one of the sources supporting it.
  15. Lord_Darth_Vader

    Lord_Darth_Vader Jedi Knight star 5

    Jul 13, 2001
    One Nation Under God

    A college professor, an avowed Atheist, was teaching his class. He shocked several of his students when he flatly stated that there is no God, the expression, "One Nation Under God", was unconstitutional, and further, he was going to prove there is no God.

    Addressing the ceiling he shouted: "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!"

    The lecture room fell silent. You could have heard a pin fall. Ten minutes went by. Again he taunted God, saying, "Here I am, God. I'm still waiting."

    His countdown got down to the last couple of minutes when a Marine just released from active duty and newly registered in the class walked up to the professor, hit him full force in the face, and sent him head over heals from his lofty platform. The professor was out cold! At first the students were shocked and babbled in confusion.

    The young Marine took a seat in the front row and sat silent. The class fell silent...waiting.

    Eventually, the professor came to. Shaken, he looked at the young Marine in the front row. When he regained his senses and could speak he yelled, "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?"

    "God was busy. He sent me."

    God, I love that joke ;)

  16. EnforcerSG

    EnforcerSG Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 12, 2001
    But religion CAN, in the same fashion that science CAN. You simply have to search it out. It's the same in both instances but one tries to claim that the other has no proof, because they haven't experienced the proof. That's not the basis for anything. I haven't experiened the workings of a particle accelerator first hand, nor have I seen the behavior of quarks with my eyes. I have to have faith that the scientists who study these things, know what they are talking about, become a scientist myself to prove it, or else, disregard it entirely.

    If you had the desire, and money, you could go get the education required to use a partial accelerator, convince all the people you have to go and use it, order the materials and in the end test things till your heart?s content. I agree it is practically very hard, I have never disputed that, but it is still possible. You can trust the scientists and take it on 'faith' but you don't have to.

    I don't know how to reply beyond that. You say that science and religion are the same, that they cannot be tested and experimented upon, and that everything MUST be taken on faith. I agree that religion must, but not science.

    And the PPOR thing was asking for a specific situation. Not just a general idea of what may happen.

    As for Ophelia

    You do realize that the second law makes no allowances for intelligence. That, (incorrectly) according to you, complexity is forbidden no matter where it comes from, either from an intelligent mind or naturally. So you must doubt my ability for children to clean their room (well, not too far from the truth in some cases :p ).

    Like I said before about the second law (but to Citizen Kane), the heat transferred in making something more complex (whether in the formation of atoms, or in life) is more chaotic than the structure is complex.

    It is exactly as you said. A cell is a dollar of complexity, but entropy takes back 1.25 in the form of heat or other losses.
  17. Hades2021

    Hades2021 Jedi Padawan star 4

    May 29, 2003
    Some people's religion can be "proven" though. They feel the spirit tells them it is true, so it must be.
  18. VoijaRisa

    VoijaRisa Jedi Master star 5

    Oct 12, 2002
    That's not proof.
  19. Hades2021

    Hades2021 Jedi Padawan star 4

    May 29, 2003
    But it's real, is it not? It is real to them.

    And I still believe you can prove or disprove God through physics.
  20. IceHawk-181

    IceHawk-181 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 1, 2004
    How would one prove God?s existence through any means?

    Assume that God does exist and is indeed an omnipotent creature.
    God does not wish to be verifiably identified as in over 3,000 years of human history it has never once proved its own existence.
    Thus, if God is all-powerful, and does not wish to be discovered, his powers over the universe will make it impossible for us to find him.

    However, if God does not exist, we will never be able to prove his existence.

    Do you see the problem?

    Humankind can only observe what its senses allow it to. We create sciences to examine and explain the natural universe.
    As we cannot conceivably create a science, which can prove or disprove the existence of a God we can conclude only one thing.
    Either God exists and has made it impossible for humankind to prove God?s existence, or God does not exist.

    The conclusion is that the only ?proof? that God exists is that the vast majority of humankind believes God does.

    Recognizing this as the logical fallacy known as an argumentum ad populum, we must therefore acknowledge that there exists no verifiable proof that God does indeed exist.

    If we cannot come to a logical conclusion on the existence of a God we cannot include an ?intelligent design? into our sciences.

    To do so would be to allow logical fallacies to substitute for the scientific method, thus transforming science into philosophy.

    If you want to liken the scientific explanations of the universe with the will of a God creature it can only be done in a philosophical sense, as there are no scientific groundings for its inclusion elsewhere.


    BLACKJEBUS Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 9, 2002
    I find it oversimplistic to categorize everyone into two camps such as Evolutionists and Creationists. There is far more to simply being either an "evolutionist" or "creationist" than people realize.

    There are so many steps in between. I have personally met people who are:

    Young Earth Creationists - believe the Earth is less than 10 000 years old, and the depiction of creation in Genesis is literally accurate. The universe now is exactly the same as it was when it was created.

    Old Earth Creationists - the Earth is billions of years old, but the depiction of creation in Genesis is symbolically accurate, each 'day' representing a period of millions of years. Mankind and all life was created in its present form.

    Progressive Creationists - Genesis isn't literally accurate, the Earth is billions of years old, but God creates creatures in increments (dinosaurs, mammals, etc.) over periods of millions of years as he sees fit. This is how the fossil record was made.

    Theistic Evolutionists - The universe and its laws all are guided by the hand of God in real-time. For example, God is actively involved in causing mutations in the DNA of populations of organisms so they can evolve.

    Deists - All of our scientific knowledge of the universe, the Big Bang, and biological evolution is accurate. God made these laws of nature and implemented them in the Big Bang and has not significantly intervened since. We are merely spectators of the results.

    Atheistic Evolutionists - There is no God or gods, and the physical universe is all there is, was, and ever will be. Everything - the Big Bang, formation of planets, galaxies, physical laws of nature, and the origin and evolution of life is a purely physical process that occurred by chance.

    There are probably people who share attributes of several of these descriptions.

    I teach biology courses and I often get the question "What do you believe? I want to know because I am a creationist." The first thing I always ask them is, "What kind of creationist?" Then I explain to them what I mean.

    I think it's a good way to approach the overall subject because anyone can figure out where they sit on the spectrum and there are still details to be worked out between the different kinds of evolutionists and kinds of creationists.
  22. jiabaoyu

    jiabaoyu Jedi Youngling star 3

    Sep 29, 2000
    If anyone asks about my "belief" on how we got to our present state, I'd say that the only 'theory' I ascribe to is the heavily substantiated theory of evolution. However, it is not a belief, it is a unifying scientific theory that binds multiple disciplines, and it is constantly being modified as we accummulate new information.

    However, if someone were to ask me about my belief in god, science holds no answer for me. From all the evidence I see, I tend to lean toward Deism, a belief that a higher power created the mechanism which was used to get us to our present state. I have no proof of it, and like any good scientist, it's a hypothesis I'm willing to discard if shown contrary evidence. :)
  23. Lord_Darth_Vader

    Lord_Darth_Vader Jedi Knight star 5

    Jul 13, 2001
    Man! I can't believe you all!! You went passed a perfectly good joke! Only J-Rod appreciated it! Sheeesh! :p
  24. poor yorick

    poor yorick Ex-Mod star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP - Game Host

    Jun 25, 2002
    Yeah, LDV, it was cute. :p

    Maybe I shouldn't import this question, but it was one that got a lot of board time on a different message board I visited for a while.

    On free will: If God knows everything that's going to happen before it happens, and he created the initial conditions of the universe, he essentially "created" everything that will ever happen all at once. Therefore, he created all our choices for us, and free will can't exist. (This was what Einstein was talking about in his quote posted earlier in this thread.)

    A variant: God is outside time, so "before things happen" has no meaning where he is. In this sense, the entire universe *was* created all at the same time. In theory, this leaves God as surprised as we are by what happens, since he doesn't know "ahead of time" what we will do. However, it still doesn't solve the problem of free will. In this model, God is surprised at *his* creation, not at any creation of *ours.* It still hasn't been established that we're independent agents making decisions on our own.

    The pro-free-will answer assumes that God deliberately limited his power in some areas of creation, in order to allow us to exercise our free will. When designing strong AI, we limit our power to predict what the program will do. A little shell script is really just applied formal logic: if A, then B. If B, then C. Barring bugs or serious computer malfunctions, we know exactly what the script will do. That predictability can be handy, since you want your computer to deliver your e-mail to you exactly as you tell it to. You don't want it to be like a kid, who will go out to get the mail and get distracted, then wander off to go play. With strong AI (and weak AI to a lesser extent) we limit our power of control in exchange for flexibility and decision-making, at least on a basic level. If we can do it, why can't God?

    But what is the mechanism God uses to preserve free will? Is it unknowable, or could we figure it out? If we *could* figure it out, true artificial intelligence would become possible, and C-3PO and R2-D2 would be real. (How cool would that be?) In "Society of Mind," AI researcher Marvin Minsky writes that no unified "mind" exists. He describes instead a collection of hardwired "agents," almost little on-off decision-making routines, that work together in concert, or occasionally struggle against one another. These agents are sort of small personal mandates, like, "I want to go to sleep" "I want to get up and find something to do." An analogy for how the agents "live" with one another is an ant colony. According to Minsky, the mind consists of "swarms" of "agents" that carry out the functions of daily life all together, including driving, going to work, watching TV, etc., even though each individual agent is, basically, as dumb as an ant. Minsky is a strict materialist, and while he sees "emergent properties"--properties the group has that no individual has, also meaning "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts"--in the swarm of mind-agents, he believes that consciousness as it is usually defined doesn't exist, because there's no single "I" to claim consciousness. (If anyone was wondering what I was referring to earlier in the thread when I said that intelligence was an experiential phenomenon that can't be proven to exist by falsifiability, I meant this. Actually, I meant "consciousness" rather than "intelligence," but I figured that would make people scream that I was claiming the whole world was unconscious.)

    The reason Minsky and other AI scientists believe all this is that intelligence is approximated in machines by creating a system of separate but interdependent "agents" like the ones Minsky describes. You can't prove a theory of consciousness by falsifiability, but you *might* be able to prove it by direct experiment. The theoretical "gold standard" is the Turing test, in which a person in a divided room can't tell if the entity they're conversing with (presumably over IM or something) is human or a computer. If we could
  25. _Darth_Brooks_

    _Darth_Brooks_ Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 27, 2000

    Luv the joke.

    It is also known as David and Goliath. ;)
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