Reasons to Believe

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Levi
Posts: 1294
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 am UTC

Reasons to Believe

Postby Levi » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:52 pm UTC

I have had no apologetic training and I'm sure a lot of people could do this better than I can.

1. I am certain that evolution is incorrect for many reasons (Please just accept this as a starting point), which means that there must be a higher power.

2. The Bible is historically accurate.

3. I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Christians or losing their faith.

4. While I have not actually seen any miracles, I have heard about them from trustworthy people.

I'll add to the list whenever I think of something. If you have any reasons that support atheism or another religion, go ahead and post.

User avatar
Jebobek
Posts: 2219
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:19 pm UTC
Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Geohash graticule

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Jebobek » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:59 pm UTC

There are a multitude of other threads dealing with religious belief. This one I think may be the most related:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=27406
Image

User avatar
Levi
Posts: 1294
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 am UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Levi » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:07 pm UTC

Sorry. I was asked to tell on another topic and I figured that it wasn't quite on topic. Is there a way for me to delete this?

psyck0
Posts: 1651
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:58 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby psyck0 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:08 pm UTC

You do realise that posting in a forum full of scientists, nerds, and very, very intelligent people, and saying that you are certain that evolution is wrong, is likely to end very badly for you and completely derail the thread, right?

Also, I don't see how evolution being wrong means that there MUST be a higher power. Even if the tens of thousands of scientists who have studied the issue and documented tens of thousands more examples of places where evolution has been observed, is likely to have occurred, etc, etc, were wrong, it could still all be a matter of chance. Chaos theory and all that. If natural selection did not favour the more useful traits, chance could just as easily allow random ones to dominate. Unless you dispute the genetic mechanisms by which evolution occurs, rather than evolution itself.

qbg
Posts: 586
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby qbg » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:11 pm UTC

There is already a religion thread, BTW.

Levi wrote:1. I am certain that evolution is incorrect for many reasons (Please just accept this as a starting point), which means that there must be a higher power.

Incorrect how? And even if evolution is incorrect in some significant way, that does not imply a higher power.
2. The Bible is historically accurate.

How historically accurate? Are we talking Adam & Eve as being historically true or something less?
3. I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Christians or losing their faith.

Doesn't mean Christianity is true.
4. While I have not actually seen any miracles, I have heard about them from trustworthy people.

Trustworthy people can be deceived and can be wrong.

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Kachi » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:02 pm UTC

If you actually are looking for reasons why people don't believe, there are many sites that archive the answers. godisimaginary.com is just one of which that springs to mind.

If you're thinking you'll convince people here, especially with such nebulous assertions as "evolution is wrong," or "the bible is historically accurate," I'd advise you to think again.

And for all that testimony is worth, I used to be a Christian and agreed with the points you just made, but then I actually made an effort to educate myself beyond what I wanted to believe. I'm also much happier now than I ever was as a Christian, and I'd contend that I'm also a better person.

User avatar
Andrew
Posts: 619
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2007 9:59 pm UTC
Location: Manchester, UK
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Andrew » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:12 pm UTC

Levi wrote:2. The Bible is historically accurate.

That's not a reason to believe. That's the thing you are justifying believing.

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby SlyReaper » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

Levi wrote:I have had no apologetic training and I'm sure a lot of people could do this better than I can.

1. I am certain that evolution is incorrect for many reasons (Please just accept this as a starting point), which means that there must be a higher power.

2. The Bible is historically accurate.

3. I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Christians or losing their faith.

4. While I have not actually seen any miracles, I have heard about them from trustworthy people.

I'll add to the list whenever I think of something. If you have any reasons that support atheism or another religion, go ahead and post.


1. Even assuming that evolution as we understand it is incorrect, I don't see how that implies the existence of a higher power. There could be any number of natural mechanisms by which we arrive at the physical and genetic diversity we see in the world's animals.

2. You're going to have to prove that one. The bible was written hundreds of years after the life of Christ (and yes, I will concede Christ probably did exist) by men with their own political and religious axe to grind.

3. That doesn't actually prove anything one way or the other.

4. How trustworthy? Even if these people truly believe that what they saw was a miracle, it is distressingly easy to deceive the human mind. Can you actually describe these miracles?

One reason NOT to believe in God: life, the universe, and everything appear so much more wonderful when viewed as the product of a long chain of cause and effect. We start with a "Big Bang" or whatever it was that started the whole thing, hydrogen atoms gravitated towards each other, some fused to helium and heavier elements, the dust of heavier elements condensed to planets. On our little rock, complex molecules formed proteins, and eventually a basic form of DNA. This ability to self-copy then started the whole evolution process resulting in the abundance of life we see today. It is true that God could have set all the pieces in place right at the beginning and pressed the proverbial "go button", but that simply begs the question: "where did God and his go button come from?"

Conversely, if you suppose that God simply magicked the universe into being just as we see it today, it seems clumsy. Regarding the universe as the product of a long process is a far more elegant solution.

And yes, this is a forum of mostly scientists and geeks. You'll find very few people here who agree with your world view, so discussions on religion are going to be very one-sided.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

User avatar
If Chickens Were Purple...
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby If Chickens Were Purple... » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

You do realise that posting in a forum full of scientists, nerds, and very, very intelligent people, and saying that you are certain that evolution is wrong, is likely to end very badly for you and completely derail the thread, right?

This sentence is patronising and elitist and threatening and annoying.

If natural selection did not favour the more useful traits

I don't think he's doubting that natural selection favours useful traits ("good at reproducing = reproduces more" is an incredibly difficult claim to argue against). I assume he meant natural selection doesn't sufficiently explain the great complexity/variety/harmony/whatever of life that exists today.

even if evolution is incorrect in some significant way, that does not imply a higher power.

Incredibly complex and convinient things with no known natural explaination imply a higher power very strongly, just like every other unnaturally complex and convinient thing we come across. There are arguments against the implication, but you're going to have to make them.

If you actually are looking for reasons why people don't believe, there are many sites that archive the answers. godisimaginary.com is just one of which that springs to mind.

He was trying to start a discussion here about why people hold the religious beliefs that they do, he wasn't looking to be told where he can discuss it elsewhere.

My puny irrelevant opinion: this is a nice thread with a better defined purpose than the hideously monolithic and massive 'Religion' thread which I will never be able to even approach.

I am an: agnostic, because I haven't had the right cultural or personal experiences (yet) to give me the faculty of spiritual wisdom that tells other people about God and the afterlife and what have you, and because no argument for the non-existence of god/whatever has ever made any sense to me.

JoshuaZ
Posts: 401
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:18 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby JoshuaZ » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:45 pm UTC

Levi wrote:I have had no apologetic training and I'm sure a lot of people could do this better than I can.

1. I am certain that evolution is incorrect for many reasons (Please just accept this as a starting point), which means that there must be a higher power.


Well, I'm not sure I can accept that as a starting point because it isn't clear to me what you mean by evolution. Do you mean by evolution the modern synthesis? Do you mean common descent? Note that "evolution" as generally used by biologists is a very narrow set of topics. Often creationists use "evolution" to mean a large variety of different subjects. I suspect given your above that your notion of "evolution" involves at a minimum abiogenesis which most biologists classify as a separate topic.

But let's say for now that abiogenesis, common descent and pretty much all of modern biology for life on this planet is false. How does that mean there must be a higher power? To give other examples: life could have existed eternally. Or life could have existed at some point and then gone back in time to start life in a self-consistent time loop(stolen from Hitchhiker's Guide). Or life could have been created/designed by some other intelligent alien species which actually did evolve. And these are but a few possible examples.

2. The Bible is historically accurate.


First, Define "the Bible". Christians don't even agree with each what books are in this document or which texts are the correct ones. Get a Roman Catholic, an Evangelical Protestant, a Mormon and a Jew together in the room and they will all have different answers of what texts are contained in "the Bible". (And before anyone starts an argument: My particular sect is correct about what should be in the Bible and you are all wrong. Don't even try to argue. You're wrong).

Second, what do you mean by "historically accurate"? Do you mean that the rough outline of the Bible(whatever that is) is correct? Do you mean it is correct down to every single word? (Note that those are very different claims). Obviously there are historical details in some of these texts that are correct. Some of them are simple amazing and almost awe-inspiring such archaeological confirmation of the names of specific advisers to the kings in Jeremiah while others simply don't fit with other archaeology or other groups near contemporaneous records, such as those of the Persians and Greeks.

3. I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Christians or losing their faith.

And I've seen this occur with Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. I've also seen lives be changed by people becoming atheists or agnostics. People's religious beliefs can have profound and pervasive effects on their general attitudes about the world and how to interact with the people around them. This isn't an argument for any specific religion. This is an argument possibly to brainwash the masses.

4. While I have not actually seen any miracles, I have heard about them from trustworthy people.

A common mistake when people assert that they have heard about miracles is to claim that the sources are trustworthy. People rarely doubt the trustworthiness of sources. That doesn't mean they weren't deceived or weren't subject to some psychological aberration. As someone who experiences sleep paralysis occasionally with on a fairly regular basis I've seen ghosts, demons, aliens and even the Borg. No matter how trustworthy you think I am, none of those observations are useful grounds for claiming that any of those beings exist. And the capacity of deliberate deception of trustworthy individuals is massive. Uri Geller for example managed to convince Senator Clairborne Pell of his psychic abilities. Now, I have great respect for the late senator and believe that Pell was completely sincere. He was also wrong. Sincerity of an observer has little weight.

But
I'll add to the list whenever I think of something. If you have any reasons that support atheism or another religion, go ahead and post.


I could put an argument for atheism here but I have little doubt others will do that quite well. We do seem to have quite a few atheists on this forum. So instead I'll stick in an argument for a specific religion. Today's religion I'm pushing is The-ism (this is not to be confused with "theism", note the hyphen and capital T). To understand The-ism one needs a bit of background. Certain Hindu groups believe that repeating a certain phrase containing the name of their deity one will be worshipping that deity whether one intends to or not (or even if one does not wish to). Thus, certain Islamic and Jewish groups when discussing these Hindus avoid saying the name and will generally modify it or deliberately mispronounce it as something like "Kare Hishna". Now, The-ism believes in a series of deities (in some versions a large cardinal number of deities) which are all worshiped whether one means to or not by saying the word "the". Now, there's one argument for practicing The-ism: if one gets enough worshipers together then the Muslims and Jews will respond by not saying the word "the". Bwahahah!

Edit: Grammar and a few minor clarifications

Mane
21th Century African?
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:56 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Mane » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:54 pm UTC

Levi wrote:1. I am certain that evolution is incorrect for many reasons (Please just accept this as a starting point), which means that there must be a higher power.

Two problems;
First, you can't start off an argument saying that "I certain that X is wrong, but I'm not going to present any of my evidence even though I'll be basing my whole argument on it"
and two;
if evolution is incorrect, this doesn't mean that a higher power exists, it just means the current working theory is incomplete or inaccurate.

2. The Bible is historically accurate.

Proof?

3. I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Christians or losing their faith.

I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Hindu/Muslim/Scientologist, or by losing their faith too... What makes your God the one true God.

4. While I have not actually seen any miracles, I have heard about them from trustworthy people.

Like Conservapedia?

People are rarely trustworthy.

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:58 pm UTC

Also note that evolution is not even about creation... it simply explains the diversity of the live forms around us and how they developed. Evolution does not discount creators and/or gods.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
qinwamascot
Posts: 688
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:50 am UTC
Location: Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:17 pm UTC

Levi wrote:I have had no apologetic training and I'm sure a lot of people could do this better than I can.

1. I am certain that evolution is incorrect for many reasons (Please just accept this as a starting point), which means that there must be a higher power.


Firstly, if you're so sure that evolution is incorrect, I'm equally as sure that Christianity isn't correct. The fact that you don't believe something has no bearing on if it is true. If you can provide some reliable evidence of this, I might accept it, but I doubt highly that any exists.

Secondly, even if evolution is incorrect, that doesn't imply any higher power. I don't see any reason it would. If you could elaborate on why a causal relationship exists here, that would be helpful for the debate.

2. The Bible is historically accurate.


I don't know about this. A lot of the bible is historically inaccurate (for example, modern science predicts that the first woman was alive before the first man. But you don't believe in evolution, so this is likely unconvincing to you). In addition, in places the bible is mathematically inaccurate. So there are some historical accuracies, which men would have possibly known about, but there are also inaccuracies which men would not have known about, but a god would have.

Conclusion: the bible was not written by a god, but by men.

Even bringing up the historical accuracy of the bible doesn't really help your case, because even if it was entirely accurate, which it is not, it could still have been written by men who just knew some history.

And if you're talking about some stories, like a story of a great flood, then those stories appear in world religions across the globe. So one specific religion knowing about it isn't convincing at all.

3. I've seen and heard about how lives have been changed by becoming Christians or losing their faith.


Lives can change from a variety of things. In this case, it isn't from god or whatever other nonexistent being blessing or cursing the person. Changing a belief system is a psychological change of a large magnitude, and has repercussions on a person's life. In short, it's a placebo. I can tell you, my life has been a lot happier since I stopped believing in fake gods and other nonsense.

4. While I have not actually seen any miracles, I have heard about them from trustworthy people.


And certainly, they also heard about them from other people who were trustworthy, and so on. Can you really say that the primary source, compounded with all the obfuscation from person to person, makes it a trustworthy source?

Also, mathematically there are certainly going to be unlikely events occurring frequently. It's simple probability, and any elementary course in combinatorics is enough to show that a person who experiences one event every second for a month will likely see a result that had less than 1 in 1 million probability in that month. Is that a miracle?

Also, the chances for winning the lottery are quite low. Does winning it and being that single person who must win it make it a miracle? Does god come every year and decide "this person has prayed especially well, so they will win the lottery"? I highly doubt this is what you imagined.

A miracle is, in my book, something that could not possibly occur unless a god exists. So people miraculously overcoming diseases are not miracles--they're lucky.

And I'm sure you've heard this, but praying actually does not help medically. Not even as a placebo. In fact, those who did not believe in anything and did not pray statistically do better than those who pray. This is actually a psychological conundrum, because we'd expect those who pray to at least get a placebo, but they don't. Ergo prayer does not work. [/quote]

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:Incredibly complex and convinient things with no known natural explaination imply a higher power very strongly, just like every other unnaturally complex and convinient thing we come across. There are arguments against the implication, but you're going to have to make them.


If a system can't be explained in a simple way, then it implies that it has to be explained in a more complex way. But it doesn't imply we have to make some ludicrously complicated explanation, with angels and a god and Adam and Eve and two trees with fruit etc. Plus, you are mistaken to think that Evolution is the only was scientifically that we can explain life; it's simply the easiest, and thus the most likely one. It is certainly not the only one.
Quiznos>Subway

JoshuaZ
Posts: 401
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:18 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby JoshuaZ » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:28 pm UTC

qinwamascot wrote:I don't know about this. A lot of the bible is historically inaccurate (for example, modern science predicts that the first woman was alive before the first man. But you don't believe in evolution, so this is likely unconvincing to you)



Gah. No. Not what science says. Mitochondrial-Eve was the last common female ancestor of all of humanity. And Y-Adam was the last common male ancestor of all of humanity. Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Adam are not the "first man" or "first woman". Don't criticize people for their science if you don't understand the basics.

User avatar
If Chickens Were Purple...
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby If Chickens Were Purple... » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:43 pm UTC

If a system can't be explained in a simple way, then it implies that it has to be explained in a more complex way. But it doesn't imply we have to make some ludicrously complicated explanation, with angels and a god and Adam and Eve and two trees with fruit etc. Plus, you are mistaken to think that Evolution is the only was scientifically that we can explain life; it's simply the easiest, and thus the most likely one. It is certainly not the only one.

Firstly you're making creationism sound more complicated than it actually is:

angels and a god and Adam and Eve and two trees with fruit etc.

Were there any angels in Genesis? I don't know but I don't think so. Someone tell me. Anyway, "Adam and Eve"? Is that a ludicrously complicated idea? Are fruit trees...? God is the only real leap of faith in the whole process, and not believing in evolution is enough to make someone who can't see any better natural explaination take that leap.

Which leads me on to clarifying what I tried to say earlier: I didn't mean evolution is the only natural explaination, but the other ones all seem dodgy. I'm talking about things like 'it could all have happened by chance' or 'probably aliens did it', because I haven't heard any better ones (that I remember). Have you? What are they?

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Kachi » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:51 pm UTC

He was trying to start a discussion here about why people hold the religious beliefs that they do, he wasn't looking to be told where he can discuss it elsewhere.


If you had bothered to check the site, it's not a place to discuss it. It's a FAQ, in a sense, that explains 50 common reasons why atheists don't believe in god. If one actually wants to know why most atheists believe the way they do, a comprehensive guide, rather than a discussion forum, would be more convenient. Reading the responses here will be subject to many redundant, incomplete, and off topic points.

I was doing them a favor.

'probably aliens did it'


Honestly would be more likely than god. At the very least, it fills in every gap that those who doubt evolution have, and is more logically sound.

JoshuaZ
Posts: 401
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:18 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby JoshuaZ » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:57 pm UTC

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:
angels and a god and Adam and Eve and two trees with fruit etc.

Were there any angels in Genesis? I don't know but I don't think so. Someone tell me.


Yes. See the end of Genesis 3. God places angels (or an angel there are translational issues) to guard the Garden of Eden.


Anyway, "Adam and Eve"? Is that a ludicrously complicated idea? Are fruit trees...? God is the only real leap of faith in the whole process, and not believing in evolution is enough to make someone who can't see any better natural explaination take that leap.


On the contrary. There many "leaps of faith". Most obviously there is a talking snake. Then there's the inconsistencies in the underlying text and the textual evidence of redaction and editing. Then there's the fact that it describes a world n where the basic laws of biology and physics aren't at all like the ones we know about. Then there's the issue that we have no reason to prefer this over any other creation story. The bottom line is that if one accepts this story as anything further than metaphor it quickly becomes difficult to believe.

User avatar
If Chickens Were Purple...
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby If Chickens Were Purple... » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:05 am UTC

If you had bothered to check the site, it's not a place to discuss it. It's a FAQ, in a sense, that explains 50 common reasons why atheists don't believe in god. If one actually wants to know why most atheists believe the way they do, a comprehensive guide, rather than a discussion forum, would be more convenient. Reading the responses here will be subject to many redundant, incomplete, and off topic points.

I was doing them a favor.

Okay sorry.

Honestly would be more likely than god. At the very least, it fills in every gap that those who doubt evolution have, and is more logically sound.

I think it doesn't fill in all the gaps, I think it depends on what the gaps are. If you believe it's logically impossible for life to have developed naturally on it's own, then the alien thing doesn't solve anything, because where did the aliens come from? The only issues it resolves as far as I can see are 'I don't believe planet Earth can support the evolution of complex life from a starting point of no life' and 'I don't believe complex life could evolve as quickly as it has supposedly done on planet Earth'.

On the contrary. There many "leaps of faith". Most obviously there is a talking snake. Then there's the inconsistencies in the underlying text and the textual evidence of redaction and editing. Then there's the fact that it describes a world n where the basic laws of biology and physics aren't at all like the ones we know about. Then there's the issue that we have no reason to prefer this over any other creation story. The bottom line is that if one accepts this story as anything further than metaphor it quickly becomes difficult to believe.

There's that stuff I guess. I guess I don't really know whether I was defending the whole of Christianity or just the "God made life" bit? But yeah I accept that each of the Bible's factual claims have to be defended separately if you want to do it at all, and that I don't want to do it at all.

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Kachi » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:16 am UTC

I think it doesn't fill in all the gaps, I think it depends on what the gaps are. If you believe it's logically impossible for life to have developed naturally on it's own, then the alien thing doesn't solve anything, because where did the aliens come from?


I think if that's your issue with it, then you have to defend how it's logically possible for a God to pop into creation on their own. Where did god come from?

It seems far more likely (to me at least) that somewhere in the vast, entire universe, a single celled organism happened to come to be when the right materials were combined in just the right way, than an all powerful, all knowing god popped into existence and said, "Hey, let's make a universe, but also make it kinda crappy." I mean, as far as I can tell, the Christian god is kind of a dick.

User avatar
If Chickens Were Purple...
Posts: 38
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby If Chickens Were Purple... » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:38 am UTC

It seems far more likely (to me at least) that somewhere in the vast, entire universe, a single celled organism happened to come to be when the right materials were combined in just the right way, than an all powerful, all knowing god popped into existence and said, "Hey, let's make a universe, but also make it kinda crappy." I mean, as far as I can tell, the Christian god is kind of a dick.

He is kind of a dick, but it's not like he hides it. Also his blatant dickness isn't an argument for or against his existence (or even an argument that he condradicts himself, since you can still intentionally hurt someone you love (even though an omnipotent god in its simplest form shouldn't have to, christian God doesn't interfere with free will, we're told)).

I think if that's your issue with it, then you have to defend how it's logically possible for a God to pop into creation on their own. Where did god come from?

The throwaway answer is that God exists outside of time, space, and everything within the laws of physics and logic in our reality (obviously since he made them all). But I don't think the throwaway answer is as stupid as it sounds in this case, because: if you've come to the conclusion that the laws of our universe don't allow for (or even seem to prevent?) the emergence of life, then life must have come from something outside of our universe. Once you get to that stage, of course, any sort of crazy undescribable thing could have made us, but so long as you attribute intelligence to that thing, I think you're free to call it God.

(Just like to reiterate that I acutally do believe in evolution as the origin of life, but if I didn't, I'd probably say something like the above)

User avatar
qinwamascot
Posts: 688
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:50 am UTC
Location: Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby qinwamascot » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:41 am UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:
qinwamascot wrote:I don't know about this. A lot of the bible is historically inaccurate (for example, modern science predicts that the first woman was alive before the first man. But you don't believe in evolution, so this is likely unconvincing to you)



Gah. No. Not what science says. Mitochondrial-Eve was the last common female ancestor of all of humanity. And Y-Adam was the last common male ancestor of all of humanity. Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Adam are not the "first man" or "first woman". Don't criticize people for their science if you don't understand the basics.


Don't assume you know what I'm talking about. Suffice it to say, what I was talking about was not Mitochondrial-Eve. But it doesn't matter either way.

My point is that there are some minor historical and, more importantly, mathematical inaccuracies in the bible. Even if you don't like this one, or whatever, there are others. So I'll concede this point, but it doesn't hurt my argument at all, that a god would not make such errors.

God is the only real leap of faith in the whole process, and not believing in evolution is enough to make someone who can't see any better natural explaination take that leap.


To me, any god is an enormous leap of faith. You're saying that there are no laws of physics that govern our universe, and instead that god's will governs it. You have to posit something outside our own universe. Relative to even the most complicated theories it's still a huge leap of faith. I'd go so far as to say that the idea that there is a god is infinitely more complicated even than the idea that all matter behaves randomly, and we've just been lucky enough to see it behaving close to the laws of physics we know.

So sure, it's only one leap of faith. That doesn't make it a small one.
Quiznos>Subway

psyck0
Posts: 1651
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:58 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby psyck0 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:43 am UTC

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:
You do realise that posting in a forum full of scientists, nerds, and very, very intelligent people, and saying that you are certain that evolution is wrong, is likely to end very badly for you and completely derail the thread, right?

This sentence is patronising and elitist and threatening and annoying.


And true. Look how much the thread has derailed to evolution already. I was trying to warn the OP off of saying that if he wanted his questions discussed.

User avatar
Levi
Posts: 1294
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 am UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Levi » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:43 am UTC

Could you please stop trying to disprove Christianity? I was just trying to answer the question of why I believe, not argue with people about whether or there is a god.

Mane
21th Century African?
Posts: 224
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:56 pm UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Mane » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:55 am UTC

Levi wrote:Could you please stop trying to disprove Christianity? I was just trying to answer the question of why I believe, not argue with people about whether or there is a god.

Beliefs are, in many ways, irrelevant.

Arguments on the other hand... They're something to talk about. An Opinion is worthless unless supported by an argument, even if that argument is terrible.

JoshuaZ
Posts: 401
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:18 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby JoshuaZ » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:56 am UTC

psyck0 wrote:And true. Look how much the thread has derailed to evolution already. I was trying to warn the OP off of saying that if he wanted his questions discussed.


It hasn't been derailed there have been a few comments about evolution but most of the material has not been about that. Your concern at least as described above seems unwarranted. I do think however that your initial comment was by and large accurate. Telling a group of nerds that one is "certain that evolution is incorrect" is asking to get ground into the ground. Or at minimum not asking to not be treated that seriously.

Levi wrote:Could you please stop trying to disprove Christianity? I was just trying to answer the question of why I believe, not argue with people about whether or there is a god.


Did anyone ask you why you believed? So why are you so upset that other people respond by explaining why your unasked for answer isn't so great? Are you actually interested in discussion or do you want a free forum in which to preach?

User avatar
qinwamascot
Posts: 688
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 8:50 am UTC
Location: Oklahoma, U.S.A.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby qinwamascot » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:03 am UTC

Levi wrote:Could you please stop trying to disprove Christianity? I was just trying to answer the question of why I believe, not argue with people about whether or there is a god.


Why are you posting if you don't want discussion? No one asked you specifically why you believe in christianity, and even if someone did you didn't need to start a topic about it. So by doing so you open up the topic for discussion. Honestly, what did you expect people to discuss in this thread, if not christianity? If there is something else, I'm missing it from your first post. To the contrary, actually, you wrote:

If you have any reasons that support atheism or another religion, go ahead and post.


so you'd have to naturally expect this to become a debate over christianity and atheism (and other religions). What more is a debate than people posting reasons to support one position or the other?
Quiznos>Subway

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Kachi » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:23 am UTC

He is kind of a dick, but it's not like he hides it. Also his blatant dickness isn't an argument for or against his existence


It does raise many questions about how an all-knowing entity can be such a dick. I mean, I'm only really smart, and I wouldn't be anywhere near as much of a dick. So is dickliness next to godliness?

(or even an argument that he condradicts himself, since you can still intentionally hurt someone you love


I'd argue against this. Particularly if you're omnipotent (but even if you aren't), love is measured in action, not feelings. It doesn't matter how much I believe I love my wife if I go home and beat her every Saturday night-- I very obviously don't.

christian God doesn't interfere with free will


Which is a whole nutha can of worms, because no one has ever made a passably reasonable argument to me (and believe me, there have been efforts), that an entity can be both all-knowing and all-creating and design a creature with free will, and at least not be completely responsible for everything that they do wrong.

The throwaway answer is that God exists outside of time, space, and everything within the laws of physics and logic in our reality (obviously since he made them all).


Even so, you're contending that something already exists prior to an act of absolute creation. So god exists in his own little world. Fine. How did his world come to be?

if you've come to the conclusion that the laws of our universe don't allow for (or even seem to prevent?) the emergence of life, then life must have come from something outside of our universe.


And see, if you just replace the word "universe" with "world," then aliens explain everything. And there's no reason to think that the laws of our universe don't allow for the emergence of life, because there is so much of the universe that we haven't seen, and it is entirely theoretically possible.

Well, I appreciate you playing Devil's advocate :d

User avatar
roc314
Is dead, and you have killed him
Posts: 1356
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 12:48 am UTC
Location: A bunker, here behind my wall
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby roc314 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:28 am UTC

@the OP: reading what you wrote, I can see how with those premises, you would conclude that Christianity is true, although I think that your logic is flawed some (especially in 3 and 4); I do happen to disagree with your premises, however. My question is what particular sect of Christianity you think is correct? There are many, some of which claim that all others are wrong. Do you believe one is correct, all are, or none? And could you please expound on why you think that (IIRC, you started this thread in response to another in which people asked you what your logical reason to believe in Christianity is; I'm simply asking for more details).
Hippo: roc is the good little communist that lurks in us all
Richard Stallman: Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won't leave you alone.
suffer-cait: roc's a pretty cool dude

psyck0
Posts: 1651
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:58 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby psyck0 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:42 am UTC

Levi wrote:Could you please stop trying to disprove Christianity? I was just trying to answer the question of why I believe, not argue with people about whether or there is a god.


If you're not comfortable with thinking about and questioning your own beliefs regarding religion, don't start a topic on it. This is what I was trying to tell you. On the other hand, your actual question of why atheists are atheists has been more than competently answered, so the thread may as well go in another direction.

EmptySet
Posts: 1196
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:33 am UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby EmptySet » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:21 am UTC

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:If you believe it's logically impossible for life to have developed naturally on it's own, then the alien thing doesn't solve anything, because where did the aliens come from?


Time is cyclic, and all life was created by a precursor. The beginning is not an issue because there are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time.
OR: Time extends infinitely back from the present, and all life has a precursor. Again, the beginning isn't an issue because it doesn't exist.
OR: Life just happened through sheer chance. There was no process of evolution or selection.
OR: Our universe can't support the development of life on its own. However, our universe is just one in a multiverse, and the aliens were colonists from the universe next door.

These are all naturalistic explanations which would allow life to exist without evolution being involved at any point (at least, in this universe). Not that I'm suggesting they're actually correct, of course...

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:
I think if that's your issue with it, then you have to defend how it's logically possible for a God to pop into creation on their own. Where did god come from?
The throwaway answer is that God exists outside of time, space, and everything within the laws of physics and logic in our reality (obviously since he made them all).


Can't you equally state that time, space, and the laws of physics are internal to the universe, and thus the universe itself exists outside those laws? I suppose you could call the universe god in such circumstances, but I don't think that's the conception most people have of a god. Yes, yes, I've heard of deism.

There's also the question of whether you can meaningfully define something as existing outside logic, physics and all dimensions. If something is beyond logic, how do you assign any attribute to it, existence or otherwise? After all, logic and physical laws are, as far as we know, the only thing barring mutually exclusive propositions from being true at the same time. If God is above logic, surely it is (and is not) a morass of contradictions which are all true and false simultaneously, but never at the same time? Do true and false, fact and fiction, even have any meaning without logic or physical reality?

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:He is kind of a dick, but it's not like he hides it. Also his blatant dickness isn't an argument for or against his existence (or even an argument that he condradicts himself, since you can still intentionally hurt someone you love (even though an omnipotent god in its simplest form shouldn't have to, christian God doesn't interfere with free will, we're told))


It is an argument that God is not both omnipotent and omni-benevolent, unless He defies logic itself, in which case I question how anyone can say anything meaningful about Him. Free will doesn't solve anything; God is omnipotent and omniscient, thus it must be within His ability to create free will without suffering. Otherwise, how does heaven work?

++$_
Mo' Money
Posts: 2370
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:06 am UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby ++$_ » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:40 am UTC

EmptySet wrote:It is an argument that God is not both omnipotent and omni-benevolent, unless He defies logic itself, in which case I question how anyone can say anything meaningful about Him. Free will doesn't solve anything; God is omnipotent and omniscient, thus it must be within His ability to create free will without suffering. Otherwise, how does heaven work?
Heaven contains only the people who don't cause each other to suffer. In other words, your username.

More seriously, the God of the Old Testament is not omnibenevolent. He describes himself as "jealous," which was not a good thing last time I checked. Also, he kills all the firstborn children of Israel (even the innocent ones, and the firstborn of the livestock). Now, if you think this is omnibenevolent, the only reasoning you can possibly have is that what God does is good by definition. But then the problem of evil disappears, because everything in the universe is done by God, and therefore is good by definition. (Sure, it doesn't look so good from a mortal point of view, but that's because we have an imperfect conception of goodness.)

Sure, there are some people out there who believe in God but don't believe that he did the things described in the Old Testament. But be aware that not everyone is in this category. The "problem of evil," therefore, is only a problem for certain philosophies.

User avatar
yy2bggggs
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby yy2bggggs » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:46 am UTC

Is there a non-Freudian reason why this is in SB and not Science?
Image

EmptySet
Posts: 1196
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:33 am UTC

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby EmptySet » Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:15 pm UTC

++$_ wrote:More seriously, the God of the Old Testament is not omnibenevolent. He describes himself as "jealous," which was not a good thing last time I checked. Also, he kills all the firstborn children of Israel (even the innocent ones, and the firstborn of the livestock). Now, if you think this is omnibenevolent, the only reasoning you can possibly have is that what God does is good by definition. But then the problem of evil disappears, because everything in the universe is done by God, and therefore is good by definition. (Sure, it doesn't look so good from a mortal point of view, but that's because we have an imperfect conception of goodness.)

Sure, there are some people out there who believe in God but don't believe that he did the things described in the Old Testament. But be aware that not everyone is in this category. The "problem of evil," therefore, is only a problem for certain philosophies.


This is of course one of the recognised ways of avoiding the problem of evil. However, many Christians do in fact believe that God is both omnipotent and omnibenelovent. In this particular case I was responding to the suggestion that even though God clearly allows suffering to occur when He could prevent it, He is still omnibenevolent, and is excused from the apparent contradiction because He is holding back so as not to interfere with free will.

User avatar
Aikanaro
Posts: 1801
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:43 pm UTC
Location: Saint Louis, MO

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Aikanaro » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:02 pm UTC

On the topic of comparing evolution to creationism....

Okay, now I realize that, as the second poster mentioned, this could end badly for me, but it could also get some answers to questions I've had for a while. I've heard Dawkins covers them, but didn't have much luck hunting for good explanations online.

First off, I'm Christian, but I also believe in evolution. I figure God likes to delegate, and there's no reason he couldn't have set up the big, shiny system of evolution as his means of creating life, man, etc.. That said, the thing I have a bit of trouble believing is evolution WITHOUT divine intervention.

Now please note I'm not saying it's impossible, but I've had one or two questions regarding this. Here's two main questions I'm wondering if anyone can answer for me, my other atheist friends have said that they know they've been answered, but haven't themselves studied it closely enough to remember it.

Question one: I've heard that Dawkins covers things like eyes existing, etc., in the Blind Watchmaker, comparing it with the Watchmaker argument. Okay, I'm cool with that. I can see Eyes gradually appearing and increasing in usefulness over time. Maybe it starts out you can tell day vs. night, then can pick up shadows of motion, etc., etc.. The problem I have is when you have an evolved trait that's actually a HINDRANCE until it reaches a certain point.

Take birds and their wings (not to mention hollow bones) for an example. How does that start out? Maybe extra flaps of skin, which just get in the way? A skeletal structure more susceptable to breaking, and one that doesn't knit as well, due to hollow tubes for bones? I would think that any creature that started down this evolutionary path, would actually reproduce LESS until if and when it finally hit that point where it was capable of gliding and/or flight. How does evolution account for these "one step back for two steps forward" changes? Shouldn't each change generally result in immediate benefit, or else the creature would be passed up by its more (immediately) better-adapted cousins?

Question two: The frailties of humans compared with other animals. Let's say we evolved from creatures that were not as smart as us, but had other useful physical traits to compensate for it. Thicker hides, more muscle mass, etc.. Over time we've lost these traits, presumably because they're no longer necessary; our ability to use tools has replaced it. But the thing I don't get is, just because they aren't NEEDED, doesn't mean they aren't USEFUL.

Hypothetical situation: Let's say we have two tribes of proto-humans: both of which are intelligent, can use tools, etc., but one is PHYSICALLY more like apes (muscles, hide, etc.), while the other looks like us. Assuming all other factors being equal, wouldn't the ape-like tribe be more successful? Even if you say the manlike tribe can use things like hides for armor, that doesn't mean the apelike one can't, it's just it would be in ADDITION to its own natural advantages. Having a thicker hide would mean that, say, a hunting accident would be less likely to result in death, or the creatures would be less likely to freeze during winter, etc.. I would think that the apelike ones would become dominant, and would both increase their capicity for tools, AND maintain their physiological advantages. So why has man lost these traits over time?

Polite, reasoned answers are welcomed--this isn't meant to be an argument or attack, just questioning. I assume there ARE answers to these, but I haven't heard them yet, and I'm curious.
Dear xkcd,

On behalf of my religion, I'm sorry so many of us do dumb shit. Please forgive us.

Love, Aikanaro.

psyck0
Posts: 1651
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 5:58 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby psyck0 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:17 pm UTC

Aikanaro, I'm not an evolutionary biologist and can't give you the answers to your specific questions, although I am certain that google can. You have to remember, though, that "I don't understand how it could have happened" is not a valid argument against evolution (or anything else.) Dawkins calls it the argument from personal incredulity, a term I like.

I guess what it boils down to is that you can accept that it is impossible to know EVERYTHING, and that there have been enough specific examples of evolution creating really weird, seemingly-impossible things that appear irreducibly complex but in fact aren't (and computer models have also evolved these things under the most realistic constraints we could impose.) The other option is to say that, because only SOME of the specific examples have been explained naturally, evolution is incomplete and thus you're not going to believe in it. I take the former approach and consider it more reasonable, but there is nothing inherently wrong with following the latter- it's just a bit silly to refuse to believe everything until every one of your individual nit-picks with it have been answered to your satisfaction.

From your post, I would guess that you fall somewhere in the middle, and accept the theory that we may one day be able to explain everything, but are still somewhat anxious about the things we haven't figured out yet.

User avatar
Azrael
CATS. CATS ARE NICE.
Posts: 6491
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:16 am UTC
Location: Boston

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Azrael » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:21 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:That said, the thing I have a bit of trouble believing is evolution WITHOUT divine intervention.


So you have tried to rationally mix evolution with the existence of a divine presence, great. But where'd God come from again?

User avatar
Aikanaro
Posts: 1801
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:43 pm UTC
Location: Saint Louis, MO

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Aikanaro » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

Actually, I wasn't attempting to sway anyone either way with my post, I was just curious as to what the answers were, and I figured this would probably be the best place to get them. A forum full of highly intelligent, primarily atheist, nerds and scientists, etc., seemed like the logical place to get good answers to questions about evolution.
Dear xkcd,

On behalf of my religion, I'm sorry so many of us do dumb shit. Please forgive us.

Love, Aikanaro.

User avatar
telcontar42
Posts: 430
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2008 10:33 pm UTC
Location: Davis, CA
Contact:

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby telcontar42 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:51 pm UTC

If Chickens Were Purple... wrote:The throwaway answer is that God exists outside of time, space, and everything within the laws of physics and logic in our reality (obviously since he made them all). But I don't think the throwaway answer is as stupid as it sounds in this case, because: if you've come to the conclusion that the laws of our universe don't allow for (or even seem to prevent?) the emergence of life, then life must have come from something outside of our universe. Once you get to that stage, of course, any sort of crazy undescribable thing could have made us, but so long as you attribute intelligence to that thing, I think you're free to call it God.

On what grounds can you attribute intelligence to that thing? What does intelligence even mean in something so radically different from anything we know that it doesn't even follow the laws of this universe. Something beyond our universe is so unknowable that we really can't justify attributing any traits to it. The only reason that I can see for claiming that the thing is intelligent is that it makes the thing similar to us. This makes it more understandable, and therefore more pleasant to think about. Convenience is usually not a good reason to believe something.

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Oct 27, 2008 3:28 pm UTC

Aikanaro wrote:On the topic of comparing evolution to creationism....

Okay, now I realize that, as the second poster mentioned, this could end badly for me, but it could also get some answers to questions I've had for a while. I've heard Dawkins covers them, but didn't have much luck hunting for good explanations online.

First off, I'm Christian, but I also believe in evolution. I figure God likes to delegate, and there's no reason he couldn't have set up the big, shiny system of evolution as his means of creating life, man, etc.. That said, the thing I have a bit of trouble believing is evolution WITHOUT divine intervention.

Now please note I'm not saying it's impossible, but I've had one or two questions regarding this. Here's two main questions I'm wondering if anyone can answer for me, my other atheist friends have said that they know they've been answered, but haven't themselves studied it closely enough to remember it.

Question one: I've heard that Dawkins covers things like eyes existing, etc., in the Blind Watchmaker, comparing it with the Watchmaker argument. Okay, I'm cool with that. I can see Eyes gradually appearing and increasing in usefulness over time. Maybe it starts out you can tell day vs. night, then can pick up shadows of motion, etc., etc.. The problem I have is when you have an evolved trait that's actually a HINDRANCE until it reaches a certain point.

Take birds and their wings (not to mention hollow bones) for an example. How does that start out? Maybe extra flaps of skin, which just get in the way? A skeletal structure more susceptable to breaking, and one that doesn't knit as well, due to hollow tubes for bones? I would think that any creature that started down this evolutionary path, would actually reproduce LESS until if and when it finally hit that point where it was capable of gliding and/or flight. How does evolution account for these "one step back for two steps forward" changes? Shouldn't each change generally result in immediate benefit, or else the creature would be passed up by its more (immediately) better-adapted cousins?

Question two: The frailties of humans compared with other animals. Let's say we evolved from creatures that were not as smart as us, but had other useful physical traits to compensate for it. Thicker hides, more muscle mass, etc.. Over time we've lost these traits, presumably because they're no longer necessary; our ability to use tools has replaced it. But the thing I don't get is, just because they aren't NEEDED, doesn't mean they aren't USEFUL.

Hypothetical situation: Let's say we have two tribes of proto-humans: both of which are intelligent, can use tools, etc., but one is PHYSICALLY more like apes (muscles, hide, etc.), while the other looks like us. Assuming all other factors being equal, wouldn't the ape-like tribe be more successful? Even if you say the manlike tribe can use things like hides for armor, that doesn't mean the apelike one can't, it's just it would be in ADDITION to its own natural advantages. Having a thicker hide would mean that, say, a hunting accident would be less likely to result in death, or the creatures would be less likely to freeze during winter, etc.. I would think that the apelike ones would become dominant, and would both increase their capicity for tools, AND maintain their physiological advantages. So why has man lost these traits over time?

Polite, reasoned answers are welcomed--this isn't meant to be an argument or attack, just questioning. I assume there ARE answers to these, but I haven't heard them yet, and I'm curious.


I think I can give possible solutions to your two problems (although they are almost certainly not unique). I am not a biologist, so I may be incorrect - my point is that solutions exist.

Wings: wings started out as forelimbs. It's thought that birds evolved from dinosaurs who most certainly did have forelimbs. We see with some dinosaurs such as the T-Rex that these limbs were often vestigial. That is, they served a purpose earlier on in the evolutionary chain, but not any more. It is perfectly conceivable that these "useless limbs" could have migrated backwards on the body until they were located on the back - after all, the creature with arms further back than others is no less successful than those creatures with arms slightly forward. In fact, they may even have offered partial protection from attacks from the side.

These limbs would then have gradually increased in size. This is not entirely useless even if the limbs are too small to allow flight. I don't know if any of the land based dinosaurs were able to swim, but if they were, back limbs would almost certainly have helped. They would also provide increased agility in running in much the same way that a tail does. Especially if flaps of skin were to form between the limb and the back, creating sail type structures. Thus, bigger back limbs creates a more successful animal. Eventually, these limbs would have been large enough to allow flight. Hollow bones would have evolved later to increase speed and agility while in flight.

Losing useful traits: as you pointed out, once mankind reached a certain level of intelligence, thick hides and the like would have not been needed any more. Thus, a person with a thin skin would have been no less successful than someone with thick skin. In fact, the thin skinned person would be MORE successful because he is more able to adapt to changing conditions such as the weather. During cold weather, he would wrap up warm in a thick fur coat. During hot weather, he would have gone naked. The thick skinned person would have suffered during the heat and been less able to exert himself during those times. As for muscles, humans aren't really that weak. We are able to exert as much strength as we need to, and if a task requires greater strength than we possess, we either get others to help or use a lever. Having bigger muscles would have made you slightly less successful because you would have been physically bigger, slower and less agile.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

Kachi
Publicly Posts Private Messages
Posts: 781
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:53 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere except SB.

Re: Reasons to Believe

Postby Kachi » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:02 pm UTC

I am not a biologist, or even especially versed on evolution, but I think I can adequately address these in laymen terms.

The problem I have is when you have an evolved trait that's actually a HINDRANCE until it reaches a certain point.


Genetics and evolutionary theory do not say that all good traits will be selected for and all bad traits will be weeded out. Natural selection kinda goes out the window off and on depending on reproductive success. If within a certain ecosystem, a bunch of horribly malformed, inferior mutant creatures are given many opportunities to reproduce, they will.

I'm not so sure that wearing my balls on the outside of my body is actually that great of a thing (perhaps it somehow improves reproductive success, but they could at least be in some kind of bone casing), but maybe some day men will be able to pull their sack over their heads when it's raining.

How does evolution account for these "one step back for two steps forward" changes?


Evolution is random, luck of the draw mutations. Natural selection isn't a perfect system. It's just the way things work.

Shouldn't each change generally result in immediate benefit, or else the creature would be passed up by its more (immediately) better-adapted cousins?


No, you can see all around you examples of lesser fit creatures still meeting with almost equal reproductive success to their stronger counterparts.

Question two: The frailties of humans compared with other animals. Let's say we evolved from creatures that were not as smart as us, but had other useful physical traits to compensate for it. Thicker hides, more muscle mass, etc..


Well, we likely didn't evolve from anything with substantial benefits that we didn't retain.

Over time we've lost these traits, presumably because they're no longer necessary;


Whether or not they're necessary wouldn't matter. We might lose things that weren't necessary by chance mutation, but not by some kind of unselection.

But the thing I don't get is, just because they aren't NEEDED, doesn't mean they aren't USEFUL.


Evolution isn't our good buddy that tries to make us stronger. It's just a messy process of growth. Very messy.

Hypothetical situation: Let's say we have two tribes of proto-humans: both of which are intelligent, can use tools, etc., but one is PHYSICALLY more like apes (muscles, hide, etc.), while the other looks like us. Assuming all other factors being equal, wouldn't the ape-like tribe be more successful?


They would probably both be very successful in reproductive terms and live for many millenia. Or, they might live in different regions of the world, and the ape group dies by some disease or at the hands of a natural predator, whereas the other lives.

So why has man lost these traits over time?


Just in case you were asking this outside of the hypothetical example, we never had them to begin with. We didn't necessarily evolve from creatures with any definitive advantages or traits. If we DID lose something, it was just because a random mutation started to meet with greater reproductive success.

And I could be wrong on a number of technicalities, so I'd appreciate it if someone more learned on the issue would chime in.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests