Well let's address for a moment the issue underlying Dave's letter... the validity of Christianity in the first place.
We know for a fact, based on a vast wealth of objective evidence that we can actually verify through empirical observation and testing etc, we know that essentially every single claim made in the Judeo-Christian Creation story is provably false.
Since we know these things... that for instance the Earth is not flat, nor 5,700 years old, nor is the sky overhead a physical dome holding back a second ocean above just like the one here on the ground, in which the bible claims that God opened floodgates to allow it to pour in to flood the Earth for Noah's flood, etc... but most importantly that we know for a fact that human beings did not originate in Mesopotamia 5,700 years ago. Not by several orders of magnitude and not even on the same continent.
Because we know that such claims as made in the bible are demonstrably, provably false, based on the wealth of real world objective evidence we actually have, we know that Adam and Eve were never in the mythical Garden of Eden as claimed. They weren't there to be tempted by a talking serpent to commit the Original Sin. And since they weren't there to commit it, it never happened. And since it never happened, the very act which Jesus claims to be dying to gain our salvation from never happened in the first place, thus rendering moot the argument that we should be worshiping him for that supposed deed. The best that can be argued is that he died for a noble, but misguided gesture. And remember, we actually have the vast wealth of evidence to back that position up, which is profoundly more valid than the mythological claims of middle eastern bronze age tribesmen from a culture that was one of the most scientifically illiterate and primitive in the region, essentially the known world, at that time.
The burden of proof should one try to refute all that actual modern day objective evidence we have lies soundly on their shoulders. But we can prove that the very core claims of the Judeo-Christian bible that were meant to establish the power and authority of that God provably never happened and that what actually did happen involved different processes, different differentiation between the things created, vastly different spans of time, forms of life not even listed because the authors were ignorant of them, different orders of events, different locations, and on and on. Every single aspect of creation was profoundly different, and provably so, than the authors of the bible literally claim, and upon which literal claims the authority and power of God is derived, and from which the tale of Original Sin comes, which is later relied upon as a literal truth for the subsequent literal claims of truth of Jesus himself about being the son of God... and in Romans explicitly linking the requisite literal truth of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve to Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:12-21 (NIV):
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And of course we know these things thanks to the overwhelming extent and accuracy of the knowledge we have accrued and refined over the convening centuries through the greatest method of establishing objective truths and gaining knowledge based thereupon ever derived by man; The Scientific Method.
"Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses."
Which has led us to such things as, to only barely touch the tip of the vast iceberg of knowledge we now have...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_mitochondrial_DNA_haplogroup ... which leads into terms like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Adam, which the Christian mindset of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias instantly tries to mold into their mythology of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden... but these figurative individuals share their name no more than naming the planets after the Roman gods made those gods literally real.
I think you can understand why they chose the names. ;) Not to mention that both of these individuals lived far down in Africa, and many thousands of years separated from each other... and were not the first humans either, but merely the earliest common ancestor genetically we can find due to the way Y chromosomes and Mitochondrial DNA are passed down through generations etc.
That image shows simply how that early ancestor, while not the only person around, ends up passing her particular mitochondrial DNA on to everyone else...
As a matter of fact, just read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve#Common_fallacies to clarify these points.
"The unequivocal consensus in the scientific community is that intelligent design is not science."
And I could go ON and ON....
Evolution is an objective, empirically observed fact. The only thing really up for honest debate these days are the mechanisms involved... eg; sexual selection, epigenetics, punctuated equilibrium, horizontal gene transfer, and so forth.
But that it happens is none the less a fact, and one that many Christians seem to have such a profound problem with only because it contradicts their provably false ancient mythological explanation for things that we do actually have a fundamentally vastly superior understanding of today.
You could say it's much like the law of gravity versus the theory of gravity. That gravity exists is a fact, one that we can observe and study. Why gravity exists and how exactly it works is still an area of intense scientific study.
People inventing those Judeo-Christian creation myths in one of the most scientifically illiterate cultures even of their time, thousands of years ago, at least had a good excuse for their beliefs... they had no way of knowing any better. Christians today do not share that luxury.
And we can only assume that those who would promote those claims as "truth" and "fact" etc, in spite of the wealth of evidence to the contrary, are so profoundly ignorant of the actual scientific facts because they must focus on sites like "The Institute for Creation Research", "Answers In Genesis", "Discovery Institute", and so forth if they even bother to consider the matter at all, which most intentionally don't... (most Christians never really consider the conflict between their modern scientific understanding of the world around them and the profoundly different standards by which they judge (or rather don't judge) the mythological claims of their religion. This is a form of psychological compartmentalization as a means of avoiding the forementioned cognitive dissonance etc... but we'll leave that for later as this is getting much too long as it is.)
These are sites that persist in peddling false information in spite of it being shown to be profoundly wrong over and over again because they are more concerned with how effectively they can fool the scientifically illiterate faithful into believing them, not in actually proving any of their points honestly based on real evidence etc.
One might want to read the following: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy
To understand the motivations of the people they seem to be so eagerly taking as honest and truthful promoters of "Truth" with a capital T etc.
And so forth.
This is not a message of religious intolerance, it is a lesson in well supported facts and the sound reasoning based thereupon.
When we have established all these facts, the nature of what C3Exhange is doing becomes rather moot, because in reality they are hardly any less valid than Christianity itself, both having been provably invented based on the wishful thinking of human beings, and neither offering any objective evidence to support themselves, and both relying solely on subjective emotional appeals and a willful denial of evidence and reasoning to the contrary of either.
So don't get me wrong, I'm not a real fan of way C3Exchange promotes unsupported happy feelings as somehow establishing some sort of "truth" about the objective nature of the universe we live in, in spite of the actual real world facts and logic to the contrary... but it's a little beside the point in the context of this opinion piece since the author has no more of a sound footing to be standing on himself to be preaching such intolerance at Ian and his congregation.
"Wishful thinking is the formation of beliefs and making decisions according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of by appealing to evidence, rationality or reality."
Now I can certainly expand upon this discussion vastly, go into greater detail if need be, and lay out more specifically the logical fallacies etc involved in arguments by those such as Dave Stroebe (the author of the opinion piece above) as well as Ian Lawton and many of his "faithful" etc. While I find both to be invalid, I at least have a little more forgiving attitude toward Ian for being more progressive about the whole thing.
Some of the most common issues that arise in these discussions are the following;
Slightly more subtle, but fundamentally important points...
Objective – is a statement that is completely unbiased. It is not touched by the speaker’s previous experiences or tastes. It is verifiable by looking up facts or performing mathematical calculations.
Subjective – is a statement that has been colored by the character of the speaker or writer. It often has a basis in reality, but reflects the perspective through with the speaker views reality. It cannot be verified using concrete facts and figures.
And even more sublte ones such as;
And so on...
That should be more than enough for now to establish the foundation of sound reason and evidence behind my assertions. Sorry for the length, I figured I would just get a lot of the heavy lifting out of the way right off the bat to hopefully save myself the trouble of having to type it later.
Color me foolishly optimistic. ;)
If you've made it this far and actually read and thought about all of that, I sincerely thank you.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I was recently pointed in the direction of a letter on MLive.com ("Letters: Church has lost its core beliefs" by Dave Stroebe) via The Muskegon Chronicle regarding a "church" that some friends of mine attend. I'd written the following response to the author of that letter where it appeared on MLive.com, but I'm guessing that either due to the size of the comment, or the links therein, that it was held for moderation. So in the meantime I'm going to post it here and try to create a "non-link" to it in a comment there so that it can be read in the meantime.