1/2/09

Michael Shermer and the Greatest Miracle

FYI: this post has been moved here.

22 comments:

  1. Mariano: I personally don't know any atheists, or anyone at all for that matter, who believes in "future human omniscience"- do you? And I personally don't need to know everything before I would believe in God: any good evidence at all would be enough- provisionally, of course. Do you know of any evidence for the existence of God? By that, I mean something that can be explained better by the existence of God than by science. I sure don't know of anything, unless you consider "Goddidit" to be an "explanation.

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  2. OMG I think my brain just exploded from reading that.

    The premise, at least, merits some comment:

    "How does he propose we resolve the infinite regress which is set on its tracks by the assertions of a previously existing universe giving rise to the one in which we live?"

    I have a suggestion: by not asserting that the current speculations about the universe are anything but exactly that, speculations, until there exists some empirical backing for any such claim. You are trying to force an "answer" to "assertions" which are not assertions at all but merely speculations - that way lies absurdity.

    (It's roughly equally idiotic as forcing Dawkins to put a number on the probability of the existence of God when there exists no basis for calculating such a number; by forcing one into existence anyway it can only be beleaguered with absurdity.)

    Of course I understand that that's exactly the effect you and other theistic apologists are hoping to achieve, but by no means is anyone required to play along in such asinine and meaningless wordplays. That the theistic position is absurd can't be helped, but atheists should know better than to allow theistic absurdity to dictate the terms of the discussion.

    I wish I could believe your concern regarding the "maturity" of science to be genuine. But it's not like there's a competition between two explanatory paradigms, and science is in a little bit of trouble, so as to warrant your concern. There is no competition - science is the only game in town. When are religions going to mature far enough to realize that their supernatural paradigms up until now have had no explanatory power whatsoever? Science, at least, allows us to speculate (without making assertions or needing to commit to an answer) about the universe by extrapolation from things that we do know about it. Science will take the time it takes; theists are in no position to make demands on science. If you think that setting a deadline is the way to arrive at knowledge, then why don't you be a good sport and just go ahead and do that.

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  3. "Is this “one answer”? It is as much of an answer as theorizing that our universe is inside of a marble with which an alien child is playing."

    There are major and significant differences in these two 'possible' explanations. The black hole speculation is based on pretty solid knowledge and constrained by strong theoretical constraints. The marble 'explanation' is just a pretty image but with no actual evidence to support it.

    We are pretty darn sure that Black holes exist and the physics and mathematical models that explore their nature and properties are very sophisticated. The possibility that black holes are involved in the process of 'universe' formation is not just an 'inebriation idea'.
    It is very likely the case that black holes are not involved but at this point they are still a viable suspect.

    Conversely, the 'marble explanation' is really much more akin to supernatural 'explanations'. It is not fact, observation or theory based; it is emotionally evocative; and, lacking any theory, it is incapable of making any predictions. Like all supernatural explanations, there is no there there: no real content, no real information, no real understanding and no real value (except as a pretty picture to put at the end of a fun movie or as rhetorical diversion in a religion debate.)

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  4. "and constrained by strong theoretical constraints."

    Opps, my bad. This should just be: "and has theoretical constraints."
    Constrained by constraints is redundant and, I'm not sure if the theoretical constraints can be labeled as 'strong' or not.

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  5. Thanks for the comments y’all.

    Zilch;
    Let us not get into that Goddidit thing because I could show you plenty of scientists and atheist who say that timedidit, chancedidit, matterdidit, evolutiondidit, imaginationdidit, itjustisdidit, etc., etc., etc.

    I am not sure what you would consider provisionally qualified evidence for God’s existence.

    As far as something that can be explained better by the existence of God than by science. This is falsely dichotomous. But, playing along, I would say: life, the universe and everything.

    Adonais;
    Prof. Dawkins was forced?—alrighty then :o)
    The lesson is obvious: if you really do not feel comfortable making a certain statement it is better to not make it.
    As previously mentioned, Populärwissenschaftliche Magazin place the probability at just over 62%, “using mathematical formulae devised to determine plausibility and probability. Researchers started with the hypothesis ‘God exists’, then tried to analyse the evidence in favour or against the hypothesis in five areas: creation, evolution, good, evil and religious experiences. The scientists applied the formulae to calculate how statistically probable different answers were to questions such as ‘How probable is it that the evolution of life took place without God?’, and ‘How probable is it that God created the Universe?’ Their conclusion will be cheering to many, although not, perhaps, Richard Dawkins.”
    This is from Bojan Pancevski, Did you hear? – God probably exists, The [London] Times (November 20, 2006)
    Although, the article does not state much more than that. We will have to get someone who knows German to check out the original article for us—I think that a commentator does know German but I do not recall whom.

    I must confess being flummoxed about the false dichotomy you propose between theism and science—I just do not get it, unless you are a victim of the atheist myth about warefare betwixt the two.

    Jdhuey;
    Fine, I certainly do not mind a good ol’ fashioned theory. I just want to make sure that I understand correctly: the possibility that objects which are not known to exist are involved in the process of “universe” formation is not just an “inebriation idea.”

    As for theism, here Judeo-Christianity, not making any predictions, here is just one: the first law of thermodynamics.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  6. Mariano: while there are certainly cases of people merely saying "evolutiondidit", often in the form of so-called "just-so stories", such are not considered science until they have some evidence behind them. If you do some reading about evolutionary theory, you will find that the claim "evolutiondidit" is followed by "evolution did it in such and such a way, as shown by this and that piece of evidence". And as has often been said here, the lines of evidence for evolution, converging from many independent disciplines, are overwhelming. If your knowledge of the claims of evolution is limited to such sources as Expelled, then I understand your position; but there's a bit more detail to evolutionary theory than that.

    In contrast, the usual evidence proffered for "Goddidit" is "The Bible (the Koran, etc.) says so". For me, this is a bit undewhelming, especially given the known fact that people make up religions all the time, and for obvious reasons: no one wants to stop living, so they make up realms where they don't have to stop, and Gods that take care of justice and uncertainties to boot. Sorry, that's not enough for me.

    We will have to get someone who knows German to check out the original article for us—I think that a commentator does know German but I do not recall whom.

    Uh, Mariano, hello? How often must I say that I'm living in Vienna? I tracked down the original article in P.M. for you. It's written by one Thomas Vasek, who is not identified as a scientist. He starts with a probability of 50/50 that God exists and goes from there; trying to establish, by means of Bayesian probability calculations, a "reasonable" percentage likelihood for God's existence. As you say, he comes up with a figure of 62% positive for God.

    Two problems: one, why start with a 50/50 likelihood? That's biasing the calculation from the start- it's like saying "without looking at the data, we can start from the assumption that there is a 50/50 likelihood that unicorns (or whatever) exist". For this reason, I find Bayesian calculations for the probability of one-off phenomena (such as the existence of God or unicorns) suspect.

    More seriously: all the data considered is simply assigned a weight for or against God, apparently based on nothing other than Vasek's personal feelings.
    There is no protocol or justification offered for the judgments. Thus, this is a case of "garbage in, garbage out": the number "62%" is meaningless, even if it sounds good in German.

    cheers from sleety, German-speaking, Vienna, Austria, zilch

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  7. Mariano wrote:

    Jdhuey;
    Fine, I certainly do not mind a good ol’ fashioned theory. I just want to make sure that I understand correctly: the possibility that objects which are not known to exist are involved in the process of “universe” formation is not just an “inebriation idea.”

    As for theism, here Judeo-Christianity, not making any predictions, here is just one: the first law of thermodynamics.


    Black Holes have not been observed directly, in fact, by the nature of a Black Hole they can not be directly observed. And, the fact that there is not yet a Theory of Everything, a theory that successfully combines a Theory of Gravity and Quantum Dynamics means that everything is not yet known about Black Holes. However, as is often the case in science, just because everything is not tied down precisely doesn’t mean that that a lot isn’t known. Based on models derived from theories of gravity (primarily, General Relativity), the unique interaction of Black Holes with the matter that surrounds it gives predictions that have been verified to the point that the existence of Black Holes is pretty well accepted. It is just that I am a bit reluctant to use a word like ‘known’ when referring to an object that is at the extreme edges of human comprehension and whose nature is still being explored.

    So, is the cosmological speculation about Black Holes as a source for “universe formation” just an “inebriation idea” ? Well, I think not. There is a great deal of theory that backs up the idea – it is an idea that is consistent with what is known to be true and consistent with what is suspected to be true. There is enough there for speculation to warrant serious consideration. The same can not be said for ‘inebriation ideas’

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  8. Zilch: "why start with a 50/50 likelihood? That's biasing the calculation from the start- it's like saying "without looking at the data, we can start from the assumption that there is a 50/50 likelihood that unicorns (or whatever) exist"."

    I'm a little confused regarding your claim that beginning a calculation with a 50/50 chance likelihood of x existing is biasing the calculation. If we begin the calculation with a 25/75 chance of something existing, or with the assumption that the likelihood that x doesn't exist is greater than the likelihood that x does exist, then you're obviously biasing the calculation in favor of x not existing, which is a much greater bias than beginning the calculation assuming that the odds that x exists and the odds that x doesn't exist are equal. It seems to me that beginning the calculation with a 50/50 likelihood would be the most *unbiased* way to begin.

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  9. Logan,

    Bayesian methods are very easy to misuse and the most common mistake is that of choosing a 'prior' probability that unduly biases the solution. The example that I try to keep in mind when thinking about 'prior' probabilities is that of a court of law. At least in the US system, the presumption is that the accused is innocent. This is, in essence, telling the juror to assign a prior probability of guilt to be near zero. Only when the evidence is considered should that probability change. A guilty verdict should only be delivered when the evidence has increased the juror’s assessment of the probability of guilt such that it meets the prescribed burden of proof level.

    The validity of this approach can be made clear with a thought experiment. Suppose that you live in a city of 1 million people and that police just pick one of those people at random to try for a crime. The probability that they got the right person is thus one in a million and very few jurors would think that a one in a million chance qualifies as 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt'. However, the police didn’t just pick a person at random (we hope) and when the evidence that led to the persons arrest is presented then our prior probability of a million to one changes rapidly.

    Now, it would be very wrong to start out with a prior probability of 50/50. For example, if the prosecution proves that the crime was committed by a woman and then points out that the defendant is a woman then that is information that increases the probability of guilt. However, if we start out with a prior of 50/50 then based on this completely unconvincing evidence we are forced to say that the person is more likely to be guilty than not.

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  10. Zilch (followed by Jdhuey);
    Please sir, I studied Darwinian evolution for over a decade and continue to read peer reviewed science journals. My problem is that when I read the so called proofs I can readily discern between actual observation and imaginative "evolutiondidit" style worldview adherence.
    Moreover, I do not know anyone who does not hold to evolution but know plenty who do not infer atheism from it. Also, my post was about the origins of the universe ergo, evolution is irrelevant to the context.
    To state that "Goddidit" is in keeping with what an observation of the universe and our contemplation of it imply to us. The Bible gives plenty of predictions about the universe. When we want to know the specifics of “how” then we engage upon the scientific method. By means of the scientific method we have found that the Biblical predictions are accurate.

    Ya vol! Sorry about that, it is hard to keep everyone straight sometimes. Does he explain why he began with 50/50? Yet, I was bringing that up to counter the even more meaningless, baseless and biased 1% number offered by Dawkins (which I believe we agreed was better not even stated).

    Jdhuey;
    Now, let me back up: I have no reason to doubt the existence of black holes.
    Is there not an interesting correlation between black holes and God?
    Black holes: objects which are not known to exist, are involved in the process of universe formation, have not been, cannot be directly observed, based on models derived from theories of gravity (primarily, General Relativity), the unique interaction of Black Holes with the matter that surrounds it gives predictions that have been verified to the point that the existence of Black Holes is pretty well accepted.
    God: object which is not known to exist, is involved in the process of universe formation, has not been, cannot be directly observed, based on models derived from theories of gravity (primarily, General Relativity), the unique interaction of God with the matter that He fine-tuned gives predictions that have been verified to the point that the existence of God is pretty well accepted.
    Ok, so, the theist would say that some of these arguable and it is a sloppy correlation. Since there are scientific predictions in the Bible and the universe implies a creator and even some of the creator’s characteristics we can formulate a theory of some sort. By I must state that “how” is uncovered through the scientific method which was formulated, in large part, in order to uncover God’s handiwork.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  11. Mariano- greetings from icy Vienna. You say:

    Please sir, I studied Darwinian evolution for over a decade and continue to read peer reviewed science journals. My problem is that when I read the so called proofs I can readily discern between actual observation and imaginative "evolutiondidit" style worldview adherence.

    Please sir yourself: although I am not a biologist, I do have some background in evolutionary theory (a minor in paleontology at UC Berkeley, hundreds of hours in the field and lab, also lots of reading and field work since then). If you have studied evolutionary theory for over a decade, then you must realize that although there are many gaps, the big picture is compelling. One question: do you believe that mammals evolved from reptiles?

    Moreover, I do not know anyone who does not hold to evolution but know plenty who do not infer atheism from it. Also, my post was about the origins of the universe ergo, evolution is irrelevant to the context.

    While even most (but not all) fundamentalists are willing to concede "microevolution", or in their terminology "variation within a baramin", many Christians do not believe in the big picture: common descent. What about you? And I never claimed that one must infer atheism from evolution, although many do. And I brought up evolution because you did, remember? From your first post here:

    Zilch;
    Let us not get into that Goddidit thing because I could show you plenty of scientists and atheist who say that timedidit, chancedidit, matterdidit, evolutiondidit, imaginationdidit, itjustisdidit, etc., etc., etc.


    Moving on:

    To state that "Goddidit" is in keeping with what an observation of the universe and our contemplation of it imply to us. The Bible gives plenty of predictions about the universe.

    Name one.

    The author in the P.M. Magazin article you quoted says this to justify starting with a likelihood of 50/50:

    Vorsichtshalber könnten wir von einer 50:50-Chance ausgehen – in der Wahrscheinlichkeitstheorie bedeutet dies einfach nur völliges Nichtwissen.

    "To be on the safe side, we could start with a chance of 50/50- in probability theory, this simply means complete ignorance."

    Notwithstanding the fact that I am no expert in probability theory, I don't agree with him. To start with a probability of 50/50 of the existence of something is not being impartial: it is loading the dice. What if I were to use the same argument for the existence of a teapot in orbit around Jupiter, and then follow up with around five arguments for and five arguments against its existence- this is about what Vasek had in his article. I can easily imagine that we might well come up with some sort of figure, using the same kinds of arbitrary weights that Vasek did, with a likelihood for the existence of a teapot in orbit around Jupiter, starting with a 50% likelihood and working downwards, of around 1%, or maybe 0.001%. It doesn't really matter: in any case, we will end up with a much higher number than is remotely plausible. And the same is true of the existence of God.

    Moreover, as I said, and jdhuey corroborated, this is a misuse of Bayesian probability: to assign a probability to a one-off phenomenon, such as the existence of a teapot or God, is meaningless, imho. It's not like a coin toss which is repeated, and about which one can meaningfully say that the likelihood of heads is 50%; God is either 0% or 100% existent, no where in between.

    cheers from snowy Vienna, zilch

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  12. Gee. This guy's analysis is on a par with (perhaps even equivalent to) Unwin's Bayesian argument which Dawkins had already dissed in The God Delusion (ch. 3 - Bayesian Arguments). Here's a link to a synopsis complete with a PM Gottesformel calculator (at the upper right):

    P.M. Gottesformel

    You have to put in two numbers, the prior and a "God Indicator" (GI), and you're of course free to pick both numbers just as you wish. Naturally, you can get any number between 0 and 100% and call it "scientific," but of course it's complete rubbish. The GIGO principle applies eminently, just as zilch (and indeed Dawkins) already stated.

    Sheesh already.

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  13. Thanks for the link, adonais. I went to the forum and put in my two cents' worth about the value of such calculations, although many had beat me to it: most of the comments there that considered the math at all were also skeptical.

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  14. Mariano wrote:
    Jdhuey;
    ”Now, let me back up: I have no reason to doubt the existence of black holes.”

    Well, there is certainly enough evidence supporting the claim that any reasonable person would feel compelled to accept it. However, that acceptance is also attached to the standard disclaimer that all any scientific claims come with. You know the one: subject to change based on future observations or revised theoretical understanding, etc. etc.

    ”Is there not an interesting correlation between black holes and God?”

    Simple answer: No, it not interesting. At best, what you present is semantically similar sentences; however, there is no correlation between the concepts.

    “Black holes: objects which are not known to exist,”
    As we both agree, there is ample reason to accept the existence of Black Holes (BHs).

    “God: object which is not known to exist,”
    On this statement I agree, but I’m surprised that you would characterize ‘God’ as an ‘object’.

    “Black holes: have not been, cannot be directly observed
    God: has not been, cannot be directly observed,”


    Again, true but for very different reasons: BHs can not be directly observed optically because of very nature of a BH but there are other real properties that could be observed under the right circumstances. Observing something that fits the bill for God has philosophical issues that are too wide ranging to go into here. Suffice it to say, that the problems with the idea of observing God, is profoundly different than the problems with observing BHs.

    “Black holes:
    , based on models derived from theories of gravity (primarily, General Relativity), the unique interaction of Black Holes with the matter that surrounds it gives predictions that have been verified to the point that the existence of Black Holes is pretty well accepted.”


    No problems here.

    “God:
    based on models derived from theories of gravity (primarily, General Relativity), the unique interaction of God with the matter that He fine-tuned gives predictions that have been verified to the point that the existence of God is pretty well accepted”


    Whoa Nelly. There is no unique interaction of God with matter. If there is some interaction with some putative God, that interaction has NOT been defined. There two presuppositions here (and I mean presupposition in the linguistic sense, not the religious sense.) The first is the idea that the Universe is ‘fine-tuned’ is an accepted fact, it is not. In fact, the very idea of ‘fine-tuning’ is a bit bogus because it implies that we know the whole scale of possible values that a physical constant can take. We don’t know that range, so it is meaningless to declare one parameter as super-sensitive and another not.

    Second, that God (whatever that is), is responsible for the ‘tuning’ of the Universe. Given the total lack of a good definition of God, it is impossible to infer anything about it’s possible actions, history, influence or anything.

    “Black holes:
    are involved in the process of universe formation,
    God:
    is involved in the process of universe formation,.”


    I put these two phrases here at the end of the answer because these ideas are more or less phrases that started this part of this tread. The point I was originally making was that when cosmologists conjecture about some process (i.e. universe formation), it is based on some ideas and information that are based in the real world. The idea that ‘God’ is involved in universe formation is based on just tradition, myth and wishful thinking.


    “Ok, so, the theist would say that some of these arguable and it is a sloppy correlation. Since there are scientific predictions in the Bible and the universe implies a creator and even some of the creator’s characteristics we can formulate a theory of some sort. By I must state that “how” is uncovered through the scientific method which was formulated, in large part, in order to uncover God’s handiwork.

    Yes, it was such a sloppy correlation that it would have been better to have not made it. The most of the definite factual statements made in the Bible regarding the nature of the Universe have been shown to be just plain wrong. For example, there simply is no ‘firmament’. The existence of the Universe does NOT imply a creator as I stated above that is just tradition, myth and wishful thinking.

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  15. Zilch;
    Just how icy and snowy is Vienna right now? I just turned up my heater but have hardly seen any snow.

    One Biblical prediction about the universe: it had a beginning.

    Jdhuey;
    What do you mean, “The most of the definite factual statements made in the Bible regarding the nature of the Universe have been shown to be just plain wrong.”

    I think that this was simply a grammatical error, I do not understand “The most…” Did you mean “Most of the…” or simply “Most…”

    What do you mean about the “firmament.”

    The existence of the Universe does imply a creator.

    It is absolute materialism that is just tradition, myth and wishful thinking. You know very well that beautiful and accurate models can be found, at some point at least, to have been utterly false. You know: subject to change based on future observations or revised theoretical understanding, etc. etc. :o)

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  16. Mariano- It's icy enough in Vienna to go skating on the Alte Donau anyway. Where are you?

    You say:

    One Biblical prediction about the universe: it had a beginning.

    So, given two possibilities, that the Universe had a beginning or the Universe had no beginning, the Bible guessed right. Not impressive, especially given the number of things wrong in Genesis. I won't list them, as you probably know them too. Now you: do you believe that mammals evolved from reptiles?

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  17. Mariano,

    Your right about the grammatical error: I had two ways to say what I wanted to say but they merged and I didn't say either one. What I wanted to convey was the idea that if you try and take the Genesis creation stories as literal factual statements about cosmology then those statements have been shown to be wrong.

    This is clearly the case with the idea of the 'firmament'.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firmament

    This conception about how the universe is constructed is just plain incorrect.

    So, if you want to take the book of Genesis as literal Truth then you are simply wrong. If you want to interpret Genesis as figurative Truth then that is something that is totally different.

    Well, I suppose that the existence of the Universe does imply the existence of a Creator in the same way that the existence of trees implies the existence of wood nymphs and the existence of volcanoes implies the existence of Pele (not the footballer, the god).

    Replacing a scientific explanation with a better explanation is not a problem, it is a strength.

    With respect to the Biblical 'prediction' that the Universe had a beginning, I think that it is important to point out that there are many creation myths that also 'predict' that the Universe had a beginning. So, as evidence of the correctness of the Bibles cosmology, I'm not impressed.

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  18. Shalom aleikhem to one and all.

    Zilch;
    Donde estoy? Por favor mandame un correo electronic (encontralo en mi perfil).

    I just want to make sure that I understand: when you perceive that the Bible is wrong about something that discredits the Bible. But when it is right about something it does not accredit it.

    You had asked for one Biblical prediction about the universe, I gave you one and it is correct regardless of how you want to explain it away. Here is another: the first law of thermodynamics.

    Let me guess, the amount of energy/matter is either constant or not—so lucky guess :o)

    Did mammals evolved from reptiles? It does not seem like it. I have no problem with observation based evolution, I have more of a problem with interpretive proclamations that fill the space between A and Z with nice stories, and much more of a problem with purely philosophic or worldview “evolution.”
    I am always open to learning in this area and will be glad to read peer reviewed science journals in this regard—but I reserve the right to question what I am reading, parse between evidence and worldview adherence and keep conducting research beyond what I am told to read. I find that the best way to refute what an atheist activist tells me about “evolution” is to read the peer reviewed science journals.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Jdhuey;
    By “literal” do you literally mean “literal”? :o)
    I understand “literal” to mean “as it is intended” which surely can be difficult to discern at times seeing as we are so removed in time and culture from the grammar, idioms, figures of speech, symbolism of those times. There is also something to be said about how people took it as opposed to what it actually stated or even what we can later understand since subsequent knowledge can throw light on certain issues.

    I empathize with the ease of doing an internet search for “firmament” and just giving me the URL of the first thing that shows up (I actually cannot believe that this is the very definition of modern day skepticism, but alas) Yet, that article is faulty. There are two usual English translations “firmament” and “expanse.” The point of raqiya/raqa is the concept of spreading such as when it is employed to denote spreading the sky or clouds. Did you not think that their quotation from Job was an odd choice?

    Interestingly, I was just reading a book published in 1932 which referred to Eddington as “one who has studied the firmament professionally for many years” must have been written by a solid-spherist.
    How do trees imply wood nymphs and volcanoes imply Pele? We know from whence these come.

    The Biblical scientific prediction that the Universe had a beginning is evidence of its correctness regardless of whether someone else knew it or not. See just above for another scientific prediction.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  19. The interpretation of the word given in the Wikipedia article seems to coincide with the definition given in the Catholic Encyclopedia at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06079b.htm

    I think that my point still stands: the cosmology of the Hebrews as described in the Bible if taken literally is simply wrong. What is describe there just does not correspond to the way the Universe is.

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  20. @jdhuey
    For different than Catholic Encyclopedia see Purported Errors in Scripture (search for The Waters Above the Firmament topic).

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  21. Mariano- as jdhuey said, many creation myths say that the Universe had a beginning. Am I to take it that we should also credit all these other religions with more belief because they "got it right"?

    And saying that Genesis "predicts" the FLOT is just silly. Sorry, but this is like saying that Moby Dick predicted the fall of the USSR, because the White Russians (the white whale) fought the Red Russians (Captain Ahab, "red" because of his leg being bitten off), and although they initially lost (in the Revolution/being wounded by harpoons), they ultimately won (the fall of the USSR/sinking the Pequod). In fact, since my analysis has more points in parallel than yours, I would say that it is more likely to be true.

    Sorry, that's just silly wordplay, not much better than using one of those search programs to spell out ex post facto predictions about 9/11 or what have you, by taking every 359th letter of the Bible and getting "building fall bush" or some such message. Do you know the word "eisegesis"?

    So you don't believe mammals evolved from reptiles. Since you studied evolution for over a decade, I won't bother to put up any links: you must be familiar with the excellent fossil record of what seems very much like a transition between reptiles and mammals, nicely spaced in time and anatomy, such that any line you draw between "reptiles" and "mammals" is arbitrary. How do you explain this smooth sequence, if not by evolution? Where exactly would you draw the line between reptiles and mammals in the fossil record, and why?

    cheers from snowy Vienna, zilch

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  22. I hope to find you all well. Thank you for your comments and general participation on this blog—your presence is appreciated.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Jdhuey;
    Genesis 1:8 - God called the firmament [raqiya] heaven [shamayim].
    Genesis 1:20 - fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament [raqiya] of heaven [shamayim].
    Deuteronomy 4:17 - fowl fly in the air [shamayim].
    Textually and or historically, I am not aware of any indications that the ancient Hebrews believed that birds fly through, on or in a solid surface which is what Genesis would be telling us if you, Wiki and Newadvent were right. Thus, the understanding in expanse, expanded.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Zilch;
    Any creation myth that postulates a beginning to the universe got it right. From there we can put each to further tests and see which comes out on top.

    Sorry, but you are simply mistaken. The context is creation and it is clearly stated that at a certain point God ceased form creating. FLOT states that energy is constant, no more is being created.

    You have pinpointed what I mean: “the excellent fossil record of what seems”—perfect!
    I am also told that archaeopteryx is a transition yet, the peer reviewed science journals also say that it is not--pick your cherries.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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