Religion and science are not comparable.

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tstorm823:

I'm not saying that something else bad would magically pop into existance. I'm saying that what we think of as ultimate suffering is the worst thing we can think of. You may say things like "why doesn't God snap His fingers and get rid of natural disasters" but if He did, and there weren't natural disasters, then there would be something else that's the worst thing in the world by virtue of said disasters being gone. Why not get rid of natural disasters? Why not get rid of disease? Why not get rid of war? Why not get rid of hatred? Why not get rid of allergies? Why not get rid of that music I don't like? No matter how many layers of bad you get rid of, you'll only ever be aware of the things that exist, and of the things that exist, there will always be a worst thing. So if you say "Why wouldn't God get rid of the worst thing in the world?" it inevitably leads to nothing existing.

This simply doesn't work. The next worst thing may then be the worst, but it still wouldn't be as bad.

For example, I can imagine something worse than anything on earth. But, the fact that it doesn't exist doesn't make what there is any worse than it is. What there is is still less bad.

So, of the layers you mentioned, say the worst one remaining was allergy. Allergy would be "the worst thing", yes, by definition. It still wouldn't cause anywhere near as much pain as would the war, the disasters, the diseases that are gone.

Silvanus:

This simply doesn't work. The next worst thing may then be the worst, but it still wouldn't be as bad.

For example, I can imagine something worse than anything on earth. But, the fact that it doesn't exist doesn't make what there is any worse than it is. What there is is still less bad.

But if the worse thing did exist, everything else would seem less bad. For example, centuries ago (or just different places in the present), people weren't freaking out because of how horrible it was to be bullied at school. They were lucky to even go to school at all and were more worried about things like starving to death. Now, kids commit suicide over bullying and people talk about it saying things like "I can't imagine their suffering." Yet there's only room for that ultimate suffering because worse things made room.

So, of the layers you mentioned, say the worst one remaining was allergy. Allergy would be "the worst thing", yes, by definition. It still wouldn't cause anywhere near as much pain as would the war, the disasters, the diseases that are gone.

And now your "still not as bad" claim diminishes the severity of most people's suffering, because worse things have and do exist. Suffering is certainly relative because in an absolute scale, you disregard peoples claim to pain. I tellyou, if allergies were the worst thing in the world, they'd recieve the same scorn and resentment as earthquakes and hurricanes do now. Nobody would stop and think "I'm less miserable that I would be if the ground swallowed me whole" the same way you don't think "I'm much happier than I would be if it was raining fire right now."

tstorm823:

But if the worse thing did exist, everything else would seem less bad. For example, centuries ago (or just different places in the present), people weren't freaking out because of how horrible it was to be bullied at school. They were lucky to even go to school at all and were more worried about things like starving to death. Now, kids commit suicide over bullying and people talk about it saying things like "I can't imagine their suffering." Yet there's only room for that ultimate suffering because worse things made room.

That doesn't mean bullying causes as much suffering as war. It can be awful for those involved, and that was always so. The lesser frequency of war, and the polio vaccine, have not somehow made it more bad.

tstorm823:

And now your "still not as bad" claim diminishes the severity of most people's suffering, because worse things have and do exist. Suffering is certainly relative because in an absolute scale, you disregard peoples claim to pain. I tellyou, if allergies were the worst thing in the world, they'd recieve the same scorn and resentment as earthquakes and hurricanes do now. Nobody would stop and think "I'm less miserable that I would be if the ground swallowed me whole" the same way you don't think "I'm much happier than I would be if it was raining fire right now."

I'm not diminishing anything; I'm recognising the horrors for what they are, and not trying to rationalise the suffering they cause as somehow necessary. My point was simply illustrating that the existence (or non-existence) of other problems has no relationship with the suffering caused by unrelated problems.

To wish a problem gone is not to diminish the problems of those who suffer other problems. That's just ridiculous!

Silvanus:

I'm not diminishing anything; I'm recognising the horrors for what they are, and not trying to rationalise the suffering they cause as somehow necessary. My point was simply illustrating that the existence (or non-existence) of other problems has no relationship with the suffering caused by unrelated problems.

But you haven't illustrated it because it isn't true. The existance of other problems absolutely changes the suffering caused by things. If your significant other leaves you, you suffer. If later that day you break your arm in an unrelated incident, at least for the moment you're not so worried about the break up because theres something worse to deal with. Once the broken bone stops hurting so much, you're back at the break up completely undiminished. The unrelated problem very much changed the suffering. Because suffering is relative, not absolute. You can't get rid of any one thing and absolutely reduce human suffering.

tstorm823:

But you haven't illustrated it because it isn't true. The existance of other problems absolutely changes the suffering caused by things. If your significant other leaves you, you suffer. If later that day you break your arm in an unrelated incident, at least for the moment you're not so worried about the break up because theres something worse to deal with. Once the broken bone stops hurting so much, you're back at the break up completely undiminished. The unrelated problem very much changed the suffering. Because suffering is relative, not absolute. You can't get rid of any one thing and absolutely reduce human suffering.

Say there could have been a fire, but it was avoided. The people who would have died did not die. They did not experience the physical agony of the burns, and their families were not bereaved.

Are you telling me that the fire may as well not have been avoided?

Silvanus:

Say there could have been a fire, but it was avoided. The people who would have died did not die. They did not experience the physical agony of the burns, and their families were not bereaved.

Are you telling me that the fire may as well not have been avoided?

With regards to humanity's perception of pain, yes. Certainly it makes a big difference in those people's lives and has all types of unpredictable consequences, but some other problem, probably many other problems, just went out of people's minds. There are so many hypothetically primative people with lower standards of living who are as happy or happier than those better off because happiness and misery are less determined by the eeriousness of a person's problems than by their attitude in the face of them. Some people deal well with their lives going up in flames, others lose control from an annoying neighbor. It's all relative.

tstorm823:

With regards to humanity's perception of pain, yes. Certainly it makes a big difference in those people's lives and has all types of unpredictable consequences, but some other problem, probably many other problems, just went out of people's minds. There are so many hypothetically primative people with lower standards of living who are as happy or happier than those better off because happiness and misery are less determined by the eeriousness of a person's problems than by their attitude in the face of them. Some people deal well with their lives going up in flames, others lose control from an annoying neighbor. It's all relative.

It's relative to what they themselves have experienced, not what else exists in the world. Those who lose control from an annoying neighbour will do so regardless of whether natural disasters or polio exist elsewhere in the world.

If the building burns, people suffer terribly. If it doesn't, less suffering happens.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

Catholic doctrine is not, however, Deist. It states that God is good.

See Catholic Catechism: "604 By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us
is one of benevolent love"

If it is conceptually impossible for God to be evil, as you seem to indicate, then it is also conceptually impossible for God to be good-- it's one spectrum. So my mistaking your "Catholicism" for Deism is more of an indication of your inconsistency with Catholic beliefs than it is an indication of what Catholic beliefs actually are. Your Catholicism appears to be unique-- and that's fine. I'll be the first to say that Deism is far more defensible than theism.

Nooooooo. The statement "God is good" not only doesn't mean God can be evil, it necessarily implicates that God is never evil. Assuming something isn't good and evil at the same time, God will never be evil so long as God is good. And we don't say that God is good sometimes or occassionally, we say "God is good." Therefore God can't be evil. It's not that complicated.

Coming to the conclusion "God is good" requires God's morality to be evaluable. If God's morality is evaluable, then it depends on His actions. If God's morality depends on His actions, and God is responsible for the nature of the universe, then the nature of the universe and its impact on human suffering is a reflection of God's morality. Free will may as well be a defensible way to respond to human actions causing human suffering, but it does not absolve God of natural disasters-- because natural disasters in the paradigm of a Creation mythology are rather more directly supernatural. The earthquake of Lisbon was a providence.

tstorm823:

Seanchaidh:

Causing suffering to others, however, is not excused by "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." :)

Well I wasn't trying to suggest that cliche fixes all suffering. I was just giving an example of suffering taken in a positive light. It's not uncommon for a person to suffer deliberately on the path to a difficult goal.

This view is not often shared by those in actually terrible pain from severe injury-- the effects of muscle strain can seem pleasurable in some ways, even while painful, but losing an arm or leg is just horrifying.

There's been a sort of distortion of history among many atheists lately with the belief that scientists throughout history were all secretly atheists who only pretended to be religious because of social climates of the time. It's the idea that people in the past really wanted to be us that we're the epitome of what people in the past wanted to be,

I often find this belief to be disingenuous to dismiss the motivations of these people because it does not fit with how we currently believe the mindset of scientist should be (which we are also often wrong about.) The truth is that religion and science come from the same need for human being to understand their environment, to make sense of the world around us. Astronomy has historically been linked to attempting to understanding the heavens since the ancient Egyptians. Isaac Newton was motivated by his research to understand god. In fact, the first research into cells was because the catholic church wanted to prove to people the faeries did not exist and did not live in trees because those beliefs were against god. So they had to find out just what trees were made of.

I understand that there's been a breach between the sciences and religion in recent years but historically religion and science were interchangeable. Those doing research into biology, mathematics, astronomy, and even preliminary physics were often part of the church or religious caste.

So my point is that it's a bit disingenuous to say they are not comparable when quite often their goals are the same, to understand the world in which we live.

tstorm823:

If you live all your life on a tropical island, and then suddenly get dropped into the arctic winter, you'd be suffering in the cold. But if you lived your whole life there, you might not think that way. If I told you that you're only alloed 3 foods for the rest of your life, it might be suffering. I'm sure people in the past wouldn't have had the same opinion and were happy about what they had. Suffering is relative to your expectations.

Yeah, I get that. What I mean is that once a person does suffer, their suffering is just a fact, and as such absolute. You can no longer look at that person and subjectively decide whether it is "suffering" or "not suffering" (as you could with "this is bad" or "this is good"), and you can (theoretically) put an absolute number on the quantity of suffering. All from an empirical standpoint, of course.

Silvanus:

It's relative to what they themselves have experienced, not what else exists in the world. Those who lose control from an annoying neighbour will do so regardless of whether natural disasters or polio exist elsewhere in the world.

If the building burns, people suffer terribly. If it doesn't, less suffering happens.

Even if you could prove that less suffering overall happens (which would require full knowledge of all causality), this would still not answer the question of whether that is "good" or "bad" for humanity overall, the latter being a value judgement and hence by definition unrelated to empirical facts.

Strawman McFallacy:
There's been a sort of distortion of history among many atheists lately with the belief that scientists throughout history were all secretly atheists who only pretended to be religious because of social climates of the time. It's the idea that people in the past really wanted to be us that we're the epitome of what people in the past wanted to be,

I often find this belief to be disingenuous to dismiss the motivations of these people because it does not fit with how we currently believe the mindset of scientist should be (which we are also often wrong about.) The truth is that religion and science come from the same need for human being to understand their environment, to make sense of the world around us. Astronomy has historically been linked to attempting to understanding the heavens since the ancient Egyptians. Isaac Newton was motivated by his research to understand god. In fact, the first research into cells was because the catholic church wanted to prove to people the faeries did not exist and did not live in trees because those beliefs were against god. So they had to find out just what trees were made of.

I understand that there's been a breach between the sciences and religion in recent years but historically religion and science were interchangeable. Those doing research into biology, mathematics, astronomy, and even preliminary physics were often part of the church or religious caste.

So my point is that it's a bit disingenuous to say they are not comparable when quite often their goals are the same, to understand the world in which we live.

Is there really?

For one it wouldn't really matter because doing so would be an appeal to authority, a logical fallacy, so it doesn't really matter what the religion (if any) of notable scientists was. Equally the fact that scientists throughout history were religious is equally unimportant.

Secondly, you're claiming this is happening but haven't actually shown that it is happening or why if it is happening it should be a major concern.

As for the rest of your post, you're incorrect and seem to be conflating very different things and then quickly skating over one of the myriad differences.

Religion is just one of a thousand possible reasons for someone to want to find more things out about the world.

Science is the method used to find factual information about the universe.

You can't use religion to tell you anything about how the universe works. You should be comparing religion to curiosity, a desire to become rich, a sick relative, an upbringing which directed someone towards academia, etc, not science.

Lastly I've done a little digging and can't find any proof to back up your claim about research into faeries.

Stephen Sossna:

Even if you could prove that less suffering overall happens (which would require full knowledge of all causality), this would still not answer the question of whether that is "good" or "bad" for humanity overall, the latter being a value judgement and hence by definition unrelated to empirical facts.

It would require full knowledge of all causality to say with 100% certainty, just as every statement ever does. That's a very flimsy get-clause. I can say it to 99% certainty. The possibility that less suffering happens when the building burns than when it doesn't is negligible.

"Good" for humanity is subjective, yes. According to my judgement, unnecessary pain is bad. I never claimed these were objective terms (I actually said the opposite).

This is another flimsy get-out clause. We pass judgement on subjective matters all the time.

Silvanus:

It would require full knowledge of all causality to say with 100% certainty, just as every statement ever does. That's a very flimsy get-clause. I can say it to 99% certainty. The possibility that less suffering happens when the building burns than when it doesn't is negligible.

Generally, yes. But hypotheticals of the "what if" kind are always problematic, because there is a high amount of variables by default. While it is certainly possible to say that there will be less suffering for the duration of the event, or even one or two days afterwards, it gets harder and harder to make a convincing prediction as time moves on. And this is only one event. Saying that there would be less overall suffering in a world without natural disasters is not a statement you can convincingly make.

Silvanus:

"Good" for humanity is subjective, yes. According to my judgement, unnecessary pain is bad. I never claimed these were objective terms (I actually said the opposite).

This is another flimsy get-out clause. We pass judgement on subjective matters all the time.

It is a get out clause, and we probably should get out of this discussion, because it's ultimately irrelevant to the problem. The original statement was that suffering is bad by any reasonable definition. Which raises a couple of questions: For whom is suffering "bad" by any reasonable definition?

For the current well-being of the person suffering? Certainly, but that is pretty much just repeating the definition of suffering.

For the total well-being of the person suffering? Questionable, as it depends on how you think "suffering" adds up during a lifetime, and how you even quantify overall well-being.

For the well-being of the human race? I think you can see where I am going with this.

It kinda leads back to a very basic problem of moral philosophy, is it the intent that counts, or is it the result?

Stephen Sossna:

Generally, yes. But hypotheticals of the "what if" kind are always problematic, because there is a high amount of variables by default. While it is certainly possible to say that there will be less suffering for the duration of the event, or even one or two days afterwards, it gets harder and harder to make a convincing prediction as time moves on. And this is only one event. Saying that there would be less overall suffering in a world without natural disasters is not a statement you can convincingly make.

What likelihood is there that there would be more suffering without natural disasters? That's not really a likelihood worth pursuing.

I'm sure you're in favour of relief for the affected, after all-- almost everybody implicitly agrees that suffering should be alleviated. The only time the argument comes out that "it might be good!" is in order to defend the existence of God.

Stephen Sossna:

It is a get out clause, and we probably should get out of this discussion, because it's ultimately irrelevant to the problem. The original statement was that suffering is bad by any reasonable definition. Which raises a couple of questions: For whom is suffering "bad" by any reasonable definition?

For the current well-being of the person suffering? Certainly, but that is pretty much just repeating the definition of suffering.

For the total well-being of the person suffering? Questionable, as it depends on how you think "suffering" adds up during a lifetime, and how you even quantify overall well-being.

For the well-being of the human race? I think you can see where I am going with this.

We should all be concerned about the suffering of others. That's the basis of sympathy and empathy, and it motivates us to alleviate the suffering of others.

The well-being of the human race is quite meaningless unless we define what measurements we're using. Most criteria, I'm sure, wouldn't be served by unnecessary suffering.

Stephen Sossna:
It kinda leads back to a very basic problem of moral philosophy, is it the intent that counts, or is it the result?

The intent counts when we're classifying something as "moral" or "immoral", certainly. A natural disaster cannot be called either, I agree with you there, that was always my position.

Religion,
A man in a black robe tells you God did this, or told him this.

Science,
A man in a White robe (Ok a Lab coat...) tells you that his science proves this.

Unless you do the Science, or a God talks to you, your going on the Faith you place in the individual telling you the "Truth".
So What color Robe/Coat do you prefer? Honestly that's the only difference.

Silvanus:

What likelihood is there that there would be more suffering without natural disasters? That's not really a likelihood worth pursuing.

This is a good point. On the other hand, I feel that Tstorm is right when he says that if you take a source of suffering away, you get another "worst" thing in place of it. That is, taking a source of suffering away does not necessarily reduce the suffering. But maybe you are right, and for things like natural disasters, this no longer holds true.

Silvanus:

I'm sure you're in favour of relief for the affected, after all-- almost everybody implicitly agrees that suffering should be alleviated. The only time the argument comes out that "it might be good!" is in order to defend the existence of God.

Yes, but I am not sure how this related to the discussion, since it concerns my intent to do good, not whether or not I am actually doing good. Though I agree that now that I am writing it, it seems a little stupid to assume one thing when I am acting, and another thing when considering the world as a whole.

Silvanus:

We should all be concerned about the suffering of others. That's the basis of sympathy and empathy, and it motivates us to alleviate the suffering of others.

Sure, but that seems unrelated to the discussion?

Silvanus:

The well-being of the human race is quite meaningless unless we define what measurements we're using. Most criteria, I'm sure, wouldn't be served by unnecessary suffering.

I agree. Which is why I dislike the thrust of the argument as a whole, because the "well-being of the human race" is ultimately not a good thing to argue with (or about).

Silvanus:

The intent counts when we're classifying something as "moral" or "immoral", certainly. A natural disaster cannot be called either, I agree with you there, that was always my position.

But doesn't this mean we need to shift focus when discussing an alleged personal diety to the intent of that diety's actions, rather than the result? In which case, you can very easily argue that even if the suffering would be a net positive, it would still not be good intent to subject intelligent creatures to said suffering without explanation, which is arguably what a deity would be doing.

Stephen Sossna:

This is a good point. On the other hand, I feel that Tstorm is right when he says that if you take a source of suffering away, you get another "worst" thing in place of it. That is, taking a source of suffering away does not necessarily reduce the suffering. But maybe you are right, and for things like natural disasters, this no longer holds true.

The next worst thing becomes the worst, aye, but only by definition. Nothing becomes any worse.

So, say somebody is suffering from a debilitating disease, and somebody else is suffering from an even worse debilitating disease. If we cure the worse one, the first one then becomes the worst.

But we've still cured somebody. Fewer people are suffering. Whether the disease is now the "worst" or not, it doesn't matter-- it doesn't matter to the guy who's been cured, and it doesn't matter to the guy who still has the disease, either. There's just one less guy in pain.

Stephen Sossna:

Sure, but that seems unrelated to the discussion?

I brought it up to point out that the "well-being of the person suffering" is the most meaningful measure, and should be the one at the forefront of everyone's minds.

Stephen Sossna:

I agree. Which is why I dislike the thrust of the argument as a whole, because the "well-being of the human race" is ultimately not a good thing to argue with (or about).

Aye, I agree there.

Stephen Sossna:

But doesn't this mean we need to shift focus when discussing an alleged personal diety to the intent of that diety's actions, rather than the result? In which case, you can very easily argue that even if the suffering would be a net positive, it would still not be good intent to subject intelligent creatures to said suffering without explanation, which is arguably what a deity would be doing.

Well, this is why I find the position so absurd. There's no meaningful reason at all to think there's a net positive, and it's only ever floated as a possibility when people are trying to justify a deity.

That means they're taking the conclusion (God) as read, before evaluating the evidence (disasters) on this issue. That's not how rational conclusions are reached. If we take everything we know about natural disasters, without presupposing anything, and it's clear they're at odds with the "all-loving, all-powerful deity" hypothesis.

Overhead:

Is there really?

For one it wouldn't really matter because doing so would be an appeal to authority, a logical fallacy, so it doesn't really matter what the religion (if any) of notable scientists was. Equally the fact that scientists throughout history were religious is equally unimportant.

Secondly, you're claiming this is happening but haven't actually shown that it is happening or why if it is happening it should be a major concern.

As for the rest of your post, you're incorrect and seem to be conflating very different things and then quickly skating over one of the myriad differences.

Religion is just one of a thousand possible reasons for someone to want to find more things out about the world.

Science is the method used to find factual information about the universe.

You can't use religion to tell you anything about how the universe works. You should be comparing religion to curiosity, a desire to become rich, a sick relative, an upbringing which directed someone towards academia, etc, not science.

Lastly I've done a little digging and can't find any proof to back up your claim about research into faeries.

The faeries thing is from my history of science textbook which is... somewhere in this mess. If you don't want to believe me, that's fine.

However there is still enough evidence throughout history that religion has been a motivating factor throughout history and to dismiss this would be doing a disservice to our understanding of history.

Seanchaidh:
Free will may as well be a defensible way to respond to human actions causing human suffering, but it does not absolve God of natural disasters-- because natural disasters in the paradigm of a Creation mythology are rather more directly supernatural. The earthquake of Lisbon was a providence.

Natural Disasters are a result of free will. There were no natural disasters in the Garden. The choice Adam and Eve made in the Garden to disobey God, tainted the whole universe, from the smallest atom, to the largest galaxies.

Natural Disasters come from that fallen world, not from on high.

(There are a handful of extremely rare cases in the Bible, where God sends a "super-natural" disaster to either kill people who are ALL evil (Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah), but in every case he sends warnings in the form of prophets or Noah or Lot, everyone gets the chance to hear the message and change their ways (As Nineveh did in Jonah, and was spared)).

To recap
1) Massive warnings beforehand
2) Everyone was evil
3) God got anyone out who wasn't evil.
(Even in these supernatural events, we still see God honoring free will. People have the choice to repent and be spared, or to choose to live their evil ways and suffer the consequences)

These were very unique events and very different then normal Natural Disasters. Do not mistake one for the other. A lot of people have mistakenly called natural disasters "God sent" yet they contain none of these three criteria, and are not supernatural.

skywolfblue:
1) Massive warnings beforehand
2) Everyone was evil
3) God got anyone out who wasn't evil.

What about little children born to evil people? What about babies still in the wombs of evil women? What about the other animals? I think you're making it a little too easy by just declaring everybody who died justly punished.

Natural Disasters are a result of free will. There were no natural disasters in the Garden. The choice Adam and Eve made in the Garden to disobey God, tainted the whole universe, from the smallest atom, to the largest galaxies.

Who built the entire Garden setup, created these creatures with free will and knew beforehand thanks to omniscience how they would behave if given temptation? Who put the tempting tree and the tempting snake there?

...not to mention that my arguing here is based on even acting like any of that stuff happened in the first place rather than merely being metaphor and fable, like most Christians view it. But I like a hypothetical every now and then.

skywolfblue:

Natural Disasters are a result of free will. There were no natural disasters in the Garden. The choice Adam and Eve made in the Garden to disobey God, tainted the whole universe, from the smallest atom, to the largest galaxies.

Natural Disasters come from that fallen world, not from on high.

Why was the earth created in such a way that it would all fall apart if an apple was picked? That's a fairly unintuitive- and terrible- design.

Strawman McFallacy:
However there is still enough evidence throughout history that religion has been a motivating factor throughout history and to dismiss this would be doing a disservice to our understanding of history.

Yes, it has been a motivating factor.

That doesn't make it comparable to science, it makes it comparable to other motivating factors like a person's desire to get a comfortable career in academia to have a decent living or to follow in the footsteps of a parent who was a scientist or to pursue science because they were brought up with a respect for science, etc, etc.

Ekibiogami:
Religion,
A man in a black robe tells you God did this, or told him this.

Science,
A man in a White robe (Ok a Lab coat...) tells you that his science proves this.

Unless you do the Science, or a God talks to you, your going on the Faith you place in the individual telling you the "Truth".
So What color Robe/Coat do you prefer? Honestly that's the only difference.

Which one comes with electric power, skyscrapers, the internet, and spaceships? Color, to be sure, is not the only difference.

Ekibiogami:
Religion,
A man in a black robe tells you God did this, or told him this.

Science,
A man in a White robe (Ok a Lab coat...) tells you that his science proves this.

Unless you do the Science, or a God talks to you, your going on the Faith you place in the individual telling you the "Truth".
So What color Robe/Coat do you prefer? Honestly that's the only difference.

No...

Well, ok, yes, there are any number of people in white coats claiming science wants you to buy their product.

However, there is a peer review thing, other scientists can shout them down if they are wrong. Or you can yourself, if you've done the research.

Secondly, as mentioned, time will tell if they are correct or not. Even if you personally couldn't understand why measuring shadows proves the Earth is round, wait a bit and people are circumnavigating the world.

Seanchaidh:
Color, to be sure, is not the only difference.

Although at least the scientist could claim to be "Scientist of Many Colours" since their white coat contains the entire spectrum; so that's another boon, besides all that reality-based stuff like producing actual results.

Skeleon:
What about little children born to evil people? What about babies still in the wombs of evil women? What about the other animals? I think you're making it a little too easy by just declaring everybody who died justly punished.

Genesis 18:
23 Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
26 The Lord said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?"
"If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."
29 Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?"
He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it."
30 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?"
He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."
31 Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?"
He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it."
32 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?"
He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
33 When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

The Bible states over and over again that God knows the states of people's hearts. The question "but what about the children? Surely they are innocent!", makes some flawed assumptions.
(Were there children in this case? We do not know.)
(Were those children innocent? We do not know.) But God knows.

Here we see Abraham plead with God "if there are X number of righteous people, will you destroy the city?", he goes keeps going down and God still says "I will not destroy it". More important then just the number 10 is the confirmation that God will spare the righteous (even lonely Lot/Noah and their families amidst a sea of wicked people). I believe that also includes innocents like the unborn.

I believe that God saves the righteous from his supernatural wrath. (But not from Natural Disasters that occur due to the fallen world)

Skeleon:
Who built the entire Garden setup, created these creatures with free will and knew beforehand thanks to omniscience how they would behave if given temptation? Who put the tempting tree and the tempting snake there?

Silvanus:

Why was the earth created in such a way that it would all fall apart if an apple was picked? That's a fairly unintuitive- and terrible- design.

The Bible says that God is Love. The whole reason that Christ comes to die to save us is loved us too much to see us remain lost. The greatest commandment is "Love God, and Love your neighbor". If they're one thing that God is excited about, it's Love.

What is love without free will? If you love someone because you have no choice, you're a zombie, that's not true love! So in order for God to create a universe that expresses the awesomeness of love, he has to create free will, and that includes the choice of "Not Love".

God tells them up front what the consequences of eating from the tree of knowledge and evil would be (Death = A Fallen World). He does not "tempt" them by putting it there, he offers them a choice.(Even the snake offers a choice between his lie and the truth that God said, and sadly Eve chose to believe the snake over the God she forgot to love and trust). God loved them too much to turn them into robots by taking away that choice.

If it were a Garden with no choices, only slaves who puppet love, that would be horrific. Moreso then our current world of turmoil, for at least here there is real Love to be found.

So the apple is eaten, all of Adam and Eve's line, and all of nature suffers the consequences of their choice. God foresaw this. That is why he sent his son to offer himself in our place, to provide a way for humanity to choose to love him. Despite all that humanity does to reject God, there are a few who love him. And those few, were worth every. single. second.

As to the probably coming question: Why must the righteous suffer (include natural disasters here) then?

Because:
1) We must live in the fallen world to spread the news of love. This is why Christians aren't zapped to heaven immediately on conversion.
2) Love is often strengthened in the face of adversity. Someone who only loves because it's "Cozy and Safe" is what we call a "fair weather friend". Someone who's bound to the stake and about to be burned, who still loves, now that is a love precious and dear.

Skeleon:
...not to mention that my arguing here is based on even acting like any of that stuff happened in the first place rather than merely being metaphor and fable, like most Christians view it. But I like a hypothetical every now and then.

I do not believe the Bible is metaphor or fable. Even the parables are to point to a truth.

If the Christians you've met view the Garden, Adam and Eve, and the Fall, as mere fable. Then what was the point of Christ coming to die in humanity's place all for? (If we did not fall, why do we need a savior?) That seems rather strange to me. Every Christian I know believes firmly in every one of those as the truth, Adam, Eve, the Garden, the Fall, and Christ.

Overhead:

Strawman McFallacy:
However there is still enough evidence throughout history that religion has been a motivating factor throughout history and to dismiss this would be doing a disservice to our understanding of history.

Yes, it has been a motivating factor.

That doesn't make it comparable to science, it makes it comparable to other motivating factors like a person's desire to get a comfortable career in academia to have a decent living or to follow in the footsteps of a parent who was a scientist or to pursue science because they were brought up with a respect for science, etc, etc.

But it's only recently that we have actually started to consider them separate things.
I'm not saying I disagree with you but I think it's important to keep in mind how science and religion have been perceived throughout history. I think there's more factors that make it seem like religion and science are these two battle forces as religion is often used to control uneducated masses, thus there's an element of anti-intellectualism that may challenge some beliefs derived from these religions.

I mean le us not forget that many of our old prestigious educational institutions were also religious institutions. You had to go to school to become a priest or member of the church, before any person could grab a bible and declare them self a reverend, which is how you have creationists.
Sure they studied the universe under the narrow scope of a religious bias, but believing that we are not studying the world under any bias is in and of it's self a bias.

If religion and science has been and can be thought of the same thing then perhaps they are more connected then we currently think they are. Maybe you're right, it's simply a motivating factor but I would argue it's more than that. Other factors like curiosity or greed have not been thought of as the same thing as the concept of science its self. The only thing that has, as far as I know, is religion and that must mean something about how humans have thought about the pursuit of knowledge.

This is sort of a non-opinion of mine, I actually don't have an answer. I just thought I would add to the conversation with something I've been thinking about in recent years as I have an interest in philosophy of, history of and study of science and technology.

Strawman McFallacy:
If religion and science has been and can be thought of the same thing then perhaps they are more connected then we currently think they are. Maybe you're right, it's simply a motivating factor but I would argue it's more than that. Other factors like curiosity or greed have not been thought of as the same thing as the concept of science its self. The only thing that has, as far as I know, is religion and that must mean something about how humans have thought about the pursuit of knowledge.

The simplest answer for this is that people regarded their religions as providing knowledge-- truths of cosmology and such. It's no great mystery that they would conflate scientific knowledge and other things they regarded as knowledge-- it's all just knowledge to them. Where religion and science start to diverge in history is where scientists and philosophers of science start being rigorous about what they regard as knowledge.

Seanchaidh:

Strawman McFallacy:
If religion and science has been and can be thought of the same thing then perhaps they are more connected then we currently think they are. Maybe you're right, it's simply a motivating factor but I would argue it's more than that. Other factors like curiosity or greed have not been thought of as the same thing as the concept of science its self. The only thing that has, as far as I know, is religion and that must mean something about how humans have thought about the pursuit of knowledge.

The simplest answer for this is that people regarded their religions as providing knowledge-- truths of cosmology and such. It's no great mystery that they would conflate scientific knowledge and other things they regarded as knowledge-- it's all just knowledge to them. Where religion and science start to diverge in history is where scientists and philosophers of science start being rigorous about what they regard as knowledge.

That's a good point but if it's a disagreement over what constitutes knowledge does that not still make them comparable?

Strawman McFallacy:

Seanchaidh:

Strawman McFallacy:
If religion and science has been and can be thought of the same thing then perhaps they are more connected then we currently think they are. Maybe you're right, it's simply a motivating factor but I would argue it's more than that. Other factors like curiosity or greed have not been thought of as the same thing as the concept of science its self. The only thing that has, as far as I know, is religion and that must mean something about how humans have thought about the pursuit of knowledge.

The simplest answer for this is that people regarded their religions as providing knowledge-- truths of cosmology and such. It's no great mystery that they would conflate scientific knowledge and other things they regarded as knowledge-- it's all just knowledge to them. Where religion and science start to diverge in history is where scientists and philosophers of science start being rigorous about what they regard as knowledge.

That's a good point but if it's a disagreement over what constitutes knowledge does that not still make them comparable?

I actually don't disagree that they are comparable-- they can be compared. The crucial difference is reliability. The scientific method is the pursuit of knowledge distilled to its essence, whereas religion has been quite a bit less rigorous-- to the point of most of its unique assertions intended to be regarded as factual (rather than a matter of value) having very little or no rational foundation. The clear superiority of the scientific method has led many religions to back away from making claims that could possibly conflict with future scientific discoveries. Others have tended to try to sidestep[1], distort[2], or deny[3] our current scientific understanding.

The religious contribution to scientific discovery lately has ranged from "there isn't much reason to regard this as true" (theistic evolution) to "this is almost certainly false" (young earth creationism). So I think they can be compared, it's just that religion doesn't look good in the comparison.

And I will say that if there is a suitable role for religion, it's not going to be as an alternative to science. It absolutely needs to back off of that if it's going to stay relevant.

[1] the Catholic insistence that God is necessary for the presence of "the soul" even though evolution by natural selection is true
[2] scientology
[3] creationism

skywolfblue:

I believe that God saves the righteous from his supernatural wrath. (But not from Natural Disasters that occur due to the fallen world)

So, your position is that god does not directly interfere with this world? And how does one tell a "supernatural" event from a natural one?

skywolfblue:

Because:
1) We must live in the fallen world to spread the news of love. This is why Christians aren't zapped to heaven immediately on conversion.
2) Love is often strengthened in the face of adversity. Someone who only loves because it's "Cozy and Safe" is what we call a "fair weather friend". Someone who's bound to the stake and about to be burned, who still loves, now that is a love precious and dear.

So is going to heaven just a natural consequence of loving god, or has god made it so that you need to love him, or else be damned?

skywolfblue:

I do not believe the Bible is metaphor or fable. Even the parables are to point to a truth.

If the Christians you've met view the Garden, Adam and Eve, and the Fall, as mere fable. Then what was the point of Christ coming to die in humanity's place all for? (If we did not fall, why do we need a savior?) That seems rather strange to me. Every Christian I know believes firmly in every one of those as the truth, Adam, Eve, the Garden, the Fall, and Christ.

I seems to me you misunderstand what a fable is. A fable is quite precisely something that "contains" truth, i.e. a message about how live is, without actually recounting "true" events. You can consider humanity in need of saving without believing that Adam and Eve were actual persons.

dyre:

...but let's not pretend the whole thing wasn't just a big PR exercise for NPR and perhaps the scientific community. And I guess maybe they found a creationist gullible enough to join in, or desperate enough for 15 minutes of fame.

Actually it was the other way around. The debate was proposed and hosted by Ken Ham and his organization Answers in Genesis, likely as a PR stunt to try to save his failing Ark amusement park project and generate more interest in his "museum" which has seen a steep drop in attendance.

"The roots for the sold-out debate were apparently set in 2012 when, as TheBlaze previously reported, Nye lambasted creationists in a Big Think video and proclaimed that teaching ideas contrary to evolutionary theory is damaging to both children and society.

At the time, Ham and his organization, Answers in Genesis, responded with video critiques of their own. And when an Associated Press reporter contact both Ham and Nye to discuss the back-and-forth, Answers in Genesis asked the reporter to inquire whether the "science guy" would be interested in going head-to-head with Ham.

Nye inevitably agreed - and more than a year later that debate is slated to become a reality." http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/02/03/science-guy-bill-nye-vs-creationist-ken-ham-who-will-win-the-big-debate-over-darwinian-evolution/

skywolfblue:

As to the probably coming question: Why must the righteous suffer (include natural disasters here) then?

Because:
1) We must live in the fallen world to spread the news of love. This is why Christians aren't zapped to heaven immediately on conversion.
2) Love is often strengthened in the face of adversity. Someone who only loves because it's "Cozy and Safe" is what we call a "fair weather friend". Someone who's bound to the stake and about to be burned, who still loves, now that is a love precious and dear.

Those who do not experience natural disasters are as capable of experiencing love as those who do. Many millions throughout history have lived their lives without even knowing natural disasters happen-- and they were perfectly capable of love.

I'd also like to ask why natural disasters are so unequal-- they batter some countries time after time after time, while others hardly ever get hit at all. If they have a purpose, and God (of course) allows them to occur, why the massive discrepancies?

Come to think of it, if there would have been no natural disasters without the Fall, that must mean the moon's gravitational field would work differently, there would be no plate tectonics, etc-- these disasters are connected directly to the natural state of the planet and moon. Do you believe the entire earth was remade after the Fall?

Strawman McFallacy:

But it's only recently that we have actually started to consider them separate things.
I'm not saying I disagree with you but I think it's important to keep in mind how science and religion have been perceived throughout history. I think there's more factors that make it seem like religion and science are these two battle forces as religion is often used to control uneducated masses, thus there's an element of anti-intellectualism that may challenge some beliefs derived from these religions.

This falls apart on so many levels.

For one, you're trying to stick the label of science onto something which does not fit. Science as we understand it today didn't exist until a few hundred years ago where, thanks to developing hand in hand with the dual revolutions of industrialism and liberalism, it was typically very anti-clerical.

For two, it seems to be a very Europe centric view, with the the contributions of, say, China where Buddhists and Taoists were less predisposed to conflate religion with learning and where Confucianism was a popular secular belief being ignored.

Thirdly, even in Europe that the ancient seats of learning were typically religious was a product of it's time. With the advent of public education in the 19th century, that no longer applies. Any connection between learning and religion didn't just happen by magic, it was a connection brought about by specific circumstances which has since been shattered and cannot be relied upon in a modern comparison. If every single secular place of learning were to disappear and we once again had to rely on religious orders, you might have a point.

Fourthly, while I'll agree learning and religion were connected, this doesn't mean that people at the time were unable to differentiate the two. At the moment wealth (both personal and as a nation) go hand in hand with a higher and better education and a higher scientific understanding. This doesn't mean that wealth and science are comparable, as despite their being a correlation between the two they are patently different. This is something you actually need to show to make your arguement work.

Fifth, although you haven't actually shown that learning and religion were viewed as comparable, just said that it is with no evidence, it is easy to show for a fact that they often weren't. Going back to some of our earliest records of this, there were many notable individuals (Socrates, Epicurus, Anaxagoras, Democritus, etc) who were notably atheist or agnostic to various degrees as well as entire movements dedicated to understanding the universe in a way which challenged belief in religion (Notably the Sophists). At best (if you back up your statements with evidence) then you'll be able to state that learning and religion were sometimes related and sometimes not.

Sixth, science is an evolving process. It's based upon the objectively tested nature of reality, which changes as more is tested. People a thousand years ago don't have the same knowledge or understanding of how the universe works that we will today. By it's very nature the reality shown by science will change over time as more is discovered. For all we know next week science could discover indisputable proof that Hinduism is real and lies at the root of every scientific discipline. If that happened science would be inextricably linked with that religion.

What people historically thought when they had none of the knowledge and understanding that we do today isn't especially relevant.

Lastly, this is all in the distant past. We don't assume that two things are comparable today just because they happened to be connected a few hundred years ago (but not even necessarily comparable, as you still haven't shown that). You seem to be ignoring the very real factual reality of the world as it exists today.

After all, would you agree that the people of the North American Continent are pre-industrial people descended from the Paleoamericans who crossed the Bering Straight some 14,000 years ago? If not, why not? After all, inhabiting North America has been directly connected with being a person in a pre-industrial society descended from Paleoamericans who crossed the Bering Straight pretty much since the continent was inhabited up until a few hundred years ago. By your reasoning the factual reality (North America not being full of pre-industrial natives, science and religion not being comparable, etc) should be ignored because there was a connected at one point in history.

Overhead:

Sixth, science is an evolving process. It's based upon the objectively tested nature of reality, which changes as more is tested. People a thousand years ago don't have the same knowledge or understanding of how the universe works that we will today. By it's very nature the reality shown by science will change over time as more is discovered. For all we know next week science could discover indisputable proof that Hinduism is real and lies at the root of every scientific discipline. If that happened science would be inextricably linked with that religion.

I disagree with the "science" itself evolving. The scientific worldview evolves, but the scientific method remains constant. Even if the scientific worldview would completely match up with the worldview of a religion, the scientific method would still not be that religion.

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