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Thread: The Ever Present Problem of Atheism (HOF thread)

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    Originally posted by itsjustdave1988
    Well, I'm sure there are many factors for rejecting Theism. I would expect the main factor would be an underlying personal experience (negative), just as often the case for accepting theism (positive). Pure rationalism rarely brings about much conviction.

    I for one don't see many proofs, by the strict sense of the word, for either atheism or theism. However, I've come to accept theism, not because of proofs, but due to many converging clues.

    I'm an engineer and a military member. I look at things methodically and, although I never have complete information, I'm often called upon to decide a course of action with incomplete yet trustworthy evidence. Wavering in indecision rarely allows you to advance in any endeavor. Thus, I've decided for theism. Have I taken the wrong road? I dunno. I don't think so. I believe the converging clues support the road I've chosen.

    The goal of Religion, I believe, is "the attempt of man, conscious of his helplessness, to unite himself with the powers which do actually dominate." (R. B. Perry, "Religion. An Introduction"). So, given this definition, I'm seems far better to me to be religious rather than irreligious. Atheism seems a relatively new and novel idea of man compared to all the ideas of history. What are the odds that this new path is correct? What happens if I take a chance on theism and I'm incorrect? Do I face a different fate than the atheists in the end? On the other hand, what happens if I choose atheism and I'm incorrect? What a blunder that would be!

    I like this article with regard to understanding the "heretical imperative"* of choosing either to be religious or not:

    Religion. An Introduction - Lectures on the Harvard Classics (1909-1914) by R.B. Perry (http://www.bartleby.com/60/221.html)

    *From the title of a book by Sociologist Peter Berger. He uses the original root meaning of the word "heretical", that is "to choose." I recommend his book to all atheists and theists, although, it's not an easy reader, as he's a sociologist, who by nature do not write simply.

    God bless,
    Excellent post. Perhaps Zakath will think about it.
    Jesus Loves You

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    >>The goal of Religion, I believe, is "the attempt of man, conscious of his helplessness, to unite himself with the powers which do actually dominate." (R. B. Perry, "Religion. An Introduction"). So, given this definition, I'm seems far better to me to be religious rather than irreligious. <<

    However, it means that all the gods invented by those theists are not real, but rather figments of their imagination. As we understand the "dominating" powers more clearly, we see that they do NOT posess the randomness of a human personality, but rather obey strict natural laws.

    >>Atheism seems a relatively new and novel idea of man compared to all the ideas of history. What are the odds that this new path is correct? What happens if I take a chance on theism and I'm incorrect? Do I face a different fate than the atheists in the end? On the other hand, what happens if I choose atheism and I'm incorrect? What a blunder that would be! <<

    So, you have a choise: be a atheist or be a theist. When you choose to be a theist, then choose your religion.

    Should you choose theism and you choose the incorrect religion, then the effects are just as bad as being an atheist. However, atheists will have at least ONE life that isn't wasted, as they tend to follow their own ideals, and not some religious ideals.

    As there are very many religions on this world, the chance of choosing the correct one (if there is any ofcourse) is small. The chance that one religion in particular is "correct" doesn't depend on the amount of followers. So, since we cannot predict in any way that our current choise of religion is true, why not be an atheist in the mean time? At least you get to CHOOSE this life as you see fit. In the case of theism, you stand a very good chance of having NO choise of life.

    Should, for example. Hinduism with its idea about reincarnation and Karma be true, then it wouldn't particularly matter if you are an atheist or not. Rather, what WOULD matter is your choise of "morality" in life. I tend to believe atheists have a far more social choise of morality than most theists, mainly because to a atheist people are the ONLY important things. Theists tend to believe that their god/gods are more important than people and thus neglegt the importance of people.

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    Shima,
    However, it means that all the gods invented by those theists are not real, but rather figments of their imagination. As we understand the "dominating" powers more clearly, we see that they do NOT posess the randomness of a human personality, but rather obey strict natural laws.
    I disagree. What evidence do you have that brings you to this conclusion? On what do you base the claim that atheists see the "dominating" power more clearly?

    Certainly a theist is allowed to use figurative language to describe the attributes of God without then making God a figment of the imagination. If I can describe the sun as setting and rising without scandal, then certainly I'm allowed to describing God as "Father." My choice of wording does not prove God is an imagination any more than it proves the sun is not real. My religion is not opposed to Natural Law.
    Should you choose theism and you choose the incorrect religion, then the effects are just as bad as being an atheist. However, atheists will have at least ONE life that isn't wasted, as they tend to follow their own ideals, and not some religious ideals.
    False dichotomy - either I choose a religious life which is a waste, or I choose atheism and my will is free. This is a false dichotomy because you haven't proven that a religious life is a waste. You also imply that religious people are not following their own free will. I am.

    Also, how are the effects of choosing the wrong religion "just as bad" as being an atheist? You must be mixing me up with some other theist who believes in exclusive membership to their religious denomination as a requirement for salvation.

    I have merely decided in accordance with my free will, based upon the available evidence for religion versus irreligion. I'm admitting that man is not the power than dominates, and I'm choosing to seek to unite myself to the powers which do actually dominate.

    That is, I am living my own ideals as I have adopted a way of life which brings joy into my life like I never had before, whether it's the "wrong" religion or not. Like R.B. Perry concludes in the article I referenced,
    Thus it is fair to conclude that religion is universal in two senses. On the one hand it springs from a universal need. On the other hand, it possesses a universal value, and cannot fail, however much of error or blindness there may be in it, to elevate and dignify life. True religion is better than false, but it is not less certain that religion is better than irreligion.
    Religion is a "win, win" situation. If merely seeking to do God's will pleases God, even if I goof it up along the way, then there's hope for any theist. If the atheist is correct, I have nothing to lose. Where's the down side again?
    As there are very many religions on this world, the chance of choosing the correct one (if there is any ofcourse) is small.
    I've studied all the mainstream world religions and the choice seemed pretty easy for me. One stands out among the rest. However, the point is I haven't mentally closed the door to religion, and so I could continue the endeavor to seek the power that does dominate. The evidence does not suggest that the power that dominates is man.

    Also, even if choose the incorrect religion, I am seeking God through reason and faith, and doing my best to do his will. I've put myself on a path toward something greater than my selfish needs. Seeking to do God's will can only please God, no matter what blunders I make along the way.
    The chance that one religion in particular is "correct" doesn't depend on the amount of followers. So, since we cannot predict in any way that our current choise of religion is true, why not be an atheist in the mean time?
    Let me give you an analogy. I took Quantum Physics in college. We know that we are not correct. There's something incomplete about the prevailing theory of physics. Also, we know that in our lifetime, we probably won't figure it all out. However, does that stop us from trying? I sure hope not. Because, no matter how much our theory of physics is in incorrect, however much of error or blindness there may be in it, we know that it can serve to improve our human existence. Just because it's unlikely that we have all the answers of physics, doesn't mean I should stop trying to figure out physics. Likewise, it doesn't mean that physics does not have value to humanity. And although we don't have all the certainty we wish we have, we're pretty confident that the choices we made thus far have lead us down the right path in physics. The same could be said of theology.

    We know we don't have all the theological answers. However, despite not having all the facts, we choose to reject some opinion in favor of others. Do you stumble through life with that much doubt about your day to day choices? If not, why do you assume that I've made choices which I cannot say with more confidence than not that they are true?

    Atheism is one among the plurality of choices that you speak of. The chance that the form of atheism that you chose is correct is no greater than form of theism I chose. A specific form of atheism is just as much a rejection of all the other choices as a specific form of theism. We have a heretical imperative. As I said before, I'm methodical and must choose, as indecision gets you nowhere in any endeavor. I took a top down approach to theology. I looked at the evidence and concluded that atheism was a dead end choice. What ever is right, I believe it's behind door #2, that is, theism.
    At least you get to CHOOSE this life as you see fit. In the case of theism, you stand a very good chance of having NO choise of life.
    You must have had a very bad theistic experience in your life. Because I cannot even relate to what you are saying.

    I have studied atheism and theism, and practiced many theologies in my quest to learn the truth. To freely choose any one of these theistic beliefs is an improvement over atheism, in my experience. I choose this life as I see fit. I choose theism. And, when I look back at my choice, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
    Should, for example. Hinduism with its idea about reincarnation and Karma be true, then it wouldn't particularly matter if you are an atheist or not.
    I believe a Hindu would certainly disagree with you. When I studied Hinduism, I believe it's attempt at bringing some meaning, some sense and spirituality to the world and our relationship to it was much better, in my opinion than the "life is absurd" theory described by the atheist, Albert Camus, for example.
    Rather, what WOULD matter is your choise of "morality" in life. I tend to believe atheists have a far more social choise of morality than most theists,
    False dichotomy, again. A theist or atheist can live a moral life. I depends upon the kind of atheism or theism chosen and upon each individual choice we make in our lives. Morality matters. However, I don't believe it is all that matters.
    mainly because to a atheist people are the ONLY important things.
    Yes. And in my experience, I've found this conclusion to be incorrect. People are important. But I see no evidence to suggest that people are the ONLY important things.
    Theists tend to believe that their god/gods are more important than people and thus neglegt the importance of people.
    I disagree. My experience is that people who think of themselves as NOT the ultimate power in the world tend to aspire toward a life of selflessness. There are no doubt exceptions to the rule in both atheism and theism. Most successful religions are "ethical" religions. For example, hospitals were not the invention of atheistic communities (have the ever really been any?), but instead were invented by Catholic monastic communities.

    A question for you Shima or any atheist...

    Do you believe Man is merely the most fortunate animal on the planet? It is obvious to me that man has the upper hand with regard to controlling his environment. However, do you believe that man is merely enjoying the fruits of mere random chance?

    God bless,
    Last edited by itsjustdave1988; March 30th, 2003 at 04:46 PM.
    Dave

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    Originally posted by Zakath
    Truly said. Lack of evidence is just that - NO EVIDENCE!

    Without evidence, all that's left is to either say that something doesn't exist or to fill the perceived void with comforting fantasies...
    Absence of evidence isn't the same thing as evidence of absence. Surely an intelligent fellow such as yourself understands this.
    Last edited by One Eyed Jack; March 31st, 2003 at 01:27 AM.

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    Dave wrote:

    Do you believe Man is merely the most fortunate animal on the planet? It is obvious to me that man has the upper hand with regard to controlling his environment. However, do you believe that man is merely enjoying the fruits of mere random chance?
    Fortunate? I don't think that's an appropriate word. It just is, apparently as a function of self-awareness, intelligence, and language, and opposable thumbs.

    Yes, many of us enjoy a life of comfort with a long (for our species) life expectancy, and the assurance of care to ease our passing when it comes. But there are far more of our kind who will live short and hard lives, in many cases rooting around in the garbage of those more fortunate than themselves. And, although we have the ability to indefinitely postpone the predictions of Malthus, I do not believe we have abrogated them.

    Is having the upper hand on your environment evidence of fortune? What if you were slowly but surely squandering your fortune through overproduction? Surely existing and surviving multiple extinctions over hundreds of millions of years is a better example? I'm not, as you can tell, enamoured by this word "fortune".

    Now, if by "fruits" you mean the world, its life and its resources, then that's a different question. I would say it is the outcome of chance, but not purely random chance. Nature doesn't work like that. To give a basic example; some chemical reactions have better chances than other kinds depending on the environmental conditions. That is not purely random.

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    I think, by fruits, he's speaking of man's position as the dominant life form on the planet. Do you think we just happened to be the ones to end up there?

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    One Eyed Jack:

    We have not achieved dominance in the sense of numbers, or in longevity of our species. Our dominance is in the sense of the ability to change to world around us, and to learn more about it.

    It didn't "just happen". Certain factors, some of which I already identified (language, opposable thumbs, etc) were required to ensure our dominance in this area. Perhaps the key random event I would identify is the extinction event that removed the dinosaurs from the equation.

    This opened up new opportunities for mammalian species. But only the primates had/have the shorter term potential to develop the traits that we know contribute towards this dominance.

    Did it have to be Homo Sapiens? No, not necessarily. However, it is highly likely that any other contender would have to be a primate - the other intelligent species that we know of are evolutionarily far removed from tool use. In fact, our closest competitors in terms of intelligence appears to have been a hominid known as Neanderthal Man. In the end though, it appears as though H. Sapiens (or other factors yet unknown) removed any other hominid competitors from the equation.

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    Originally posted by Flipper
    One Eyed Jack:

    We have not achieved dominance in the sense of numbers, or in longevity of our species. Our dominance is in the sense of the ability to change to world around us, and to learn more about it.
    Yeah, but isn't that the only way that really matters?

    It didn't "just happen".
    Could it have been guided by some unseen intelligence then? If not, then "just happened" is pretty much your only option isn't it?

    Certain factors, some of which I already identified (language, opposable thumbs, etc) were required to ensure our dominance in this area. Perhaps the key random event I would identify is the extinction event that removed the dinosaurs from the equation.

    This opened up new opportunities for mammalian species. But only the primates had/have the shorter term potential to develop the traits that we know contribute towards this dominance.

    Did it have to be Homo Sapiens? No, not necessarily. However, it is highly likely that any other contender would have to be a primate - the other intelligent species that we know of are evolutionarily far removed from tool use. In fact, our closest competitors in terms of intelligence appears to have been a hominid known as Neanderthal Man. In the end though, it appears as though H. Sapiens (or other factors yet unknown) removed any other hominid competitors from the equation.
    So basically what you're saying is it just happened to be man. Now that might work for you, but I don't believe in evolution. I don't see how life can even come into existence in the first place without an intelligent designer, much less evolve into more complex forms.

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    One-eyed-Jack:

    Yeah, but isn't that the only way that really matters?
    Not if we become extinct.

    "Just happened" is pretty much your only option isn't it?
    It's not a very useful way at looking at things. There are, I feel, probabilities that can be attached to different events. When ice forms, does it "just happen", or is it because certain criteria were met in a specific environment?

    So, in an environment of 100 degrees centigrade, the probability of ice forming is effectively zero.

    Your "just happened" takes all sorts of possible configurations, reactions, and events over time and condenses them into one rather glib phrase. For example, selective pressures seem broadly directional and don't, I feel, fit comfortably within a "just happened" category.

    And you do believe in evolution (I suspect). Just not the kind that leads to new taxa.

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    >>I disagree. What evidence do you have that brings you to this conclusion? On what do you base the claim that atheists see the "dominating" power more clearly? <<

    Science, mostly. The world is dominated by disease (biology), weather (physics), earthquackes (geology). These are not random forces, but can be accurately described by science. The only other dominating force (humanity) can ALSO be described using psychology. And I did NOT say that ATHEISTS see the "dominating" power more clearly.

    >>Also, how are the effects of choosing the wrong religion "just as bad" as being an atheist? You must be mixing me up with some other theist who believes in exclusive membership to their religious denomination as a requirement for salvation. <<

    Suppose Islam is true. Then your belief in Jezus will not save you from hell. Neither will my atheism save me from hell.

    There are two kinds of religions in this world: one which requires BELIEF in the right deity to be allowed into heaven, and one which requires a certain amount of "good" actions from a person to be allowed into heaven/reincarnation etc.

    If one of the first kind is true, then it would ONLY matter to a theist if they choose the "right" religion. If they didn't, they go to the same place as the atheist. If one of the second is true, then it would NOT make one slight bit of difference if you were a theist or an atheist.

    >>True religion is better than false, but it is not less certain that religion is better than irreligion. <<

    In what way is theism BETTER than atheism?

    >>Religion is a "win, win" situation. If merely seeking to do God's will pleases God, even if I goof it up along the way, then there's hope for any theist. If the atheist is correct, I have nothing to lose. Where's the down side again? <<

    Nope, religion is NOT a win/win situation. As I said before, you presume that either christianity is true or it is not. If christianity is NOT true but Islam IS true, then are you STILL in a winning situation? Nope, I didn't think so either. Or, what if Hinduism is true? Would I be in a losing situation? Nope, didn't think so either.

    Besides, what will God think of that rather calculating reason to believe in Jezus? Why not be an atheist for your entire life and convert 5 minutes before you are about to die? THAT would be a win/win situation.

    >>I've studied all the mainstream world religions and the choice seemed pretty easy for me. <<

    Its somehow always easy for every believer. Its just that other people come to different conclusions than you. Are they blind, or are you? Since most religions are orthagonal to all others, its pretty clear that they cannot ALL be true. And thus this raises the question: how do you KNOW that your religion is "correct" while all others are not?

    >>One stands out among the rest. However, the point is I haven't mentally closed the door to religion, and so I could continue the endeavor to seek the power that does dominate. The evidence does not suggest that the power that dominates is man. <<

    They ALL stand out. Yes, some things are unique to christianity, like there are unique things to Hinduism and Islam as well.

    >>Also, even if choose the incorrect religion, I am seeking God through reason and faith, and doing my best to do his will. I've put myself on a path toward something greater than my selfish needs. Seeking to do God's will can only please God, no matter what blunders I make along the way.<<

    Yes, but it will mightily DISPLEASE Allah for seeking such an obviously "false" God.

    >>The same could be said of theology.<<

    Nope. Science works by measuring real data. Thus, while we know that certain parts are incomplete, we nevertheless know that some parts ARE a very good description of reality. This does NOT apply to theology, mainly because there is no way to verify which parts are "true" and which are not. Therefore, while science works towards a complete description, theology merely works towards a different one. But the problem is that it is impossible to verify if the different one is more "true" than the others.

    >>We know we don't have all the theological answers. However, despite not having all the facts, we choose to reject some opinion in favor of others. <<

    In theology there are no facts, merely assertions and belief.

    >>Do you stumble through life with that much doubt about your day to day choices? <<

    Sometimes yes, mostly no.

    >>If not, why do you assume that I've made choices which I cannot say with more confidence than not that they are true?<<

    However, day-to-day choises involve things like crossing the road. I've established as a pattern that it takes a certain time for a car to cover the distance between its place NOW and my place NOW.

    The effect of christianity can only be seen when you are dead. The so-called effects that are there when you are ALIVE are not unique to christianity.

    >>You must have had a very bad theistic experience in your life. Because I cannot even relate to what you are saying.<<

    My negative experience with christianity can be seen all over the TV at this point. Somehow, most christians just ASSUME that their opinion is somehow "God inspired" and thus "true" while all other opinions are not true. I've seen someone who was able to free herself from christianity, and it was THE most important step in her life. Christianity has some very dubious moral values, and this world would be better off without it.

    >>The chance that the form of atheism that you chose is correct is no greater than form of theism I chose. A specific form of atheism is just as much a rejection of all the other choices as a specific form of theism.<<

    'xcuse me, but how many forms of atheism do you think there are?

    >>I believe a Hindu would certainly disagree with you. When I studied Hinduism, I believe it's attempt at bringing some meaning, some sense and spirituality to the world and our relationship to it was much better, in my opinion than the "life is absurd" theory described by the atheist, Albert Camus, for example. <<

    In what way will my reincarnation be influenced by being an atheist rather than a christian? I don't think life is absurd, but I don't think life is all about God either. You have some strange ideas about atheism my friend.

    >>Yes. And in my experience, I've found this conclusion to be incorrect. People are important. But I see no evidence to suggest that people are the ONLY important things.<<

    Yes. You would add "God" to that list.

    >>I disagree. My experience is that people who think of themselves as NOT the ultimate power in the world tend to aspire toward a life of selflessness. There are no doubt exceptions to the rule in both atheism and theism. Most successful religions are "ethical" religions. For example, hospitals were not the invention of atheistic communities (have the ever really been any?), but instead were invented by Catholic monastic communities. <<

    I tend to think that, since there IS an ultimate power in the world, christians do not really care about this world.

    And the "ethics" of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus is "better" than that of atheists?

    There is a REASON why christianity has so much influence: POWER. The church was THE most powerfull group around the middle ages, and USED that power to spread its influence and make war (in one form or another) on all other religions. Therefore, being an atheist was NOT a survival trait in western europe at that time. There were no atheist communities for one reason: the church would slaughter them like dogs, all the while screaming that THEY have they have the ONLY "true" religion and that everyone should be converted by pain of death. Pretty easy to see why christianity would establish the first hospital.

    >>Do you believe Man is merely the most fortunate animal on the planet?<<

    Yes. We have evolved into contiousness.

    >>It is obvious to me that man has the upper hand with regard to controlling his environment. However, do you believe that man is merely enjoying the fruits of mere random chance? <<

    Yes. Some evolutionary elements added to our survival. One being that SOCIAL groups tend to live longer. Also, because there are social groups we could evolve our intelligence.

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    >>So basically what you're saying is it just happened to be man. Now that might work for you, but I don't believe in evolution. I don't see how life can even come into existence in the first place without an intelligent designer, much less evolve into more complex forms.<<

    Well, that you don't BELIEVE in evolution doesn't mean its not true. Evolution has a tremendous amount of evidence speaking for it, which is more than can be said for most religious "creation" myths.

    Science as yet doesn't understand how life can come about. Science is making progress, sure, but we are a long way from producing life ourselves. And even if we did, it wouldn't be PROOF that life on earth actually began that way, because it may be just one of many possibilities. It WOULD disprove the notion that life REQUIRES intelligent design.

    Evolution has a lot of evidence for them, and again and again the mechanism of "mutation" and "natural selection" DO produce what some have described as "specified complexity" or "information". That this has certain religious implications, especially for christianity, is the main reason that the theory is opposed by some people. Strangely, these people do NOT oppose science itself, nor most of the other knowledge that science has gathered, but only those that prove that their literal interpretation of the bible cannot be correct.

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    Probability conditioned upon prior events is still probability. If man came to have the upper hand based purely upon the laws of probability, without any outside intervention, they why is man an outlier, statistically speaking?

    For example, if man is in first place with regard to the ability to dominate this planet (either positively or negatively), then where's the second place species? Man, it seems is such an outlier statistically speaking that it brings Darwin's theory of evolution by random processes into doubt. I believe there's plenty of evidence to suggest we have evolved to where we are now. However, I don't admit that random processes can account for the statistical outlier called "man."

    We have been to the moon. I would think the second place species would have at least discovered how to harness and exploit fire by now.

    I love science. I've been a missile systems engineer and spacecraft engineer for much of my military career. I launch things into space. It's a blast

    It is my study of math and science which confirms in my mind that there is a God, a universal first cause, an intelligent designer. The mathematical improbability that the outlier called "man" came to be an outlier without some other influence is as of yet unsatisfactorily explained by science. Opposable thumbs fails to convince.

    Probability, even event conditioned, doesn't support the gap between first place (man) and a second place species.

    God bless,
    Dave

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    Shima, I'm still reading your stuff. However, my office insists that I do some work now and then.

    God bless,
    Dave

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    >>Probability conditioned upon prior events is still probability. If man came to have the upper hand based purely upon the laws of probability, without any outside intervention, they why is man an outlier, statistically speaking? <<

    Because, given enough events, there are ALWAYS outliers. Yes, it could have been the dolfins, in which case we were NOT here talking about it.

    >>For example, if man is in first place with regard to the ability to dominate this planet (either positively or negatively), then where's the second place species?<<

    There is NO second place species at this point. It would be an amazing coincidence if TWO contious species would emerge at any given moment in time. The dominant species quickly alters the environment to ensure that the second one doesn't arise, if they take just that little bit longer. Given that we are talking about 8 million years of evolution, and a dominant position for less than 10,000 years, the chance that TWO species emerge at exactly the same time in opposite ends of this earth is remote to say the least.

    >>We have been to the moon. I would think the second place species would have at least discovered how to harness and exploit fire by now.<<

    No. It requires a great amount of evolution in the right direction to ensure this. Apes and monkeys lack the stimulating environment to do so, unless we put them in cages and mess around with their environment.

    >>It is my study of math and science which confirms in my mind that there is a God, a universal first cause, an intelligent designer. The mathematical improbability that the outlier called "man" came to be an outlier without some other influence is as of yet unsatisfactorily explained by science. <<

    Ofcourse, but these calculations assume that this EXACT organism must evolve into something contious. What you do NOT calculate is the chance that SOME organism can become dominant and contious. Its the same as the difference between calculating the chance of exactly ONE throw of 4D6 rolling 24 (1/1296) and the chance of rolling 24 at least ONCE given 10,000 dice rolls (99.96%). So, taking exactly ONE organism is the wrong approach, but taking the ENTIRE organic population and THEN calculating the odds of ONE outlier produces entirely different results.

    >>Probability, even event conditioned, doesn't support the gap between first place (man) and a second place species.<<

    The rise of the FIRST species rather spoils things for the second one. You are assuming that the arise of one dominant species will NOT alter the rise of a SECOND one. However, odds are that mankind has rather spoilt things for most other organisms because of our influence of the environment.

    Besides, our own history is about 10,00 years old and only for the last few 100 years have we really been exploring this world. What are the odds of TWO species emerging at EXACTLY the same time (200 years or so) and EXACTLY the same evolutionary "depth" AND at opposite sides of the globe (so we would not have met them before they become dominant too). Given that our evolution took about 6-8 million years, these odds are rather small.

    As you are well aware, one event is very little evidence either for or against a theory given that the arguement being used is CHANCE. We need MORE events (like life on other planets) to assertain what the chances of life evolving and intelligent life evolving may be.

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    Shima,
    Because, given enough events, there are ALWAYS outliers. Yes, it could have been the dolfins, in which case we were NOT here talking about it.
    Given enough events, the distribution fits the process. Pure random processes may have a normal distribution, for example. Extreme outliers, from my study of prob and stats, always have to have a cause. Random processes do not result in extreme outliers like the one called 'man'. Therefore, man's status as first place is no mere result of random variation, otherwise I would expect a distribution with the second place species as an outlier, but less than that of man. Where is the second place species? How come we can go to the moon and the second place species have not yet navigated its way across the Atlantic, or in the case of Dolphins, found its way toward exploring the land masses?
    There is NO second place species at this point. It would be an amazing coincidence if TWO contious species would emerge at any given moment in time.
    What do you suppose the statistical distribution is? Normal curve? Poisson curve? In all distributions that I am aware of, there should be a close second, unless there was some extreme outlier which has some other external influence that was not affecting the others. I believe man is an extreme outlier. All the evidence suggests this. Therefore, I conclude that there's some external influence which is the cause, which is not affecting the rest of the pack.

    As I said, I'm trying to approach this methodically, given the tools of math and science which I've come to believe. Darwin's theory is based upon random variation. It should then match the laws of probability. Why the extreme outlier? I read "Beginnings" by my favority atheist, Isaac Asimov. He does a great job explaining evolution. However, his explanation lacks an answer as to why man is the quintessential extreme outlier when compared to all other animals on this planet.

    Life finds away to adapt and overcome. Your theory that "man" as the first place species is keeping the chimpanzee at a distant second, for example, and not allowing the random variations to work its way forward is unconvincing. Compare man's dominance to the status of all species before man. Before man, was there an extreme outlier? Sure there was a dominant species, however, it doesn't seem that they were so dominant that they were clearly an extreme outlier. This is not the case with man. We're not like the best dinasour. We are much better equipped, more advanced, etc.

    In short, there is no biological precedent compared to man in pre-human existence. Random variation would not have resulted in such an extreme outlier. Check all known probability density curves where random variation is the supposed influencing process. The gap between first and second is never great. An extreme outlier always indicates some other influence. Always. If I'm going to stick to what I learned in probability and stats, I must admit this conclusion.

    God bless,
    Last edited by itsjustdave1988; March 31st, 2003 at 01:04 PM.
    Dave

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