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Anthrage
2004-Apr-05, 07:55 PM
The discovery of life, or significant evidence of past life, elsewhere in our universe has often been characterized as something which would have dramatic ramifications in the context of the traditional christian belief system, as well as general reverberations of a spiritual nature.

Assuming this is true, I'm wondering - for those who have beliefs for which discovery of life or evidence of same would be 'an issue', what would those issues be, and what level of discovered evidence would be required for these issues to present themselves?

For example, possible ranges of manifestation of said life could be living or dead (fossilized evidence of) microbial life, higher forms of life or artifacts of advanced life and related systems. I have read the bible several times and while not a believer myself, I have examined these questions in that context - however, interpretation is a large facet of (the) belief, and individuals may have their own specific points of contention or concern. I'm looking for some opinions on the issue from those for whom it would be of significance in this regard.

jawajedi
2004-Apr-05, 09:32 PM
I think conclusive evidence of life beyond the earth, either microbial, or big and just bit the head off the red shirt guy, would rattle alot of cages about peoples religious views. I use to work with a guy who in fact belives that happy little angels are pushing metors out of the way from hitting the earth, he was a jehovas witness and a bit off touch with reality. I could see were proof of this would kick the legs out from his mental processes and present him with major mental issues. But then again, there are those who still belive the face on mars is made by aliens and untill you drop the big pile of rocks that it is on their head, they continue to stick there head in the ground.

JonClarke
2004-Apr-05, 09:33 PM
Anthrage

Seeing the Christian faith is something I can claim some knowledge and experience of, I will have a stab at your question.

The discovery of life on Mars or elesewhere would have no theological significance, beyond being another example of the power of God is making the universe. This has certainly been the view of the vast majority of those who have reflected on extra terrestrial life over the last three centuries.

The confirmation of extra terrestrial intelligence, or more specifically extra terrestrial moral beings, would raise some very interesting questions. Lost of possibilities have been discussed but the relatively small number of theolgians and philosophers who have written on this, but the majority view is that there are no a priori problems.

There is some luiterature out there I can point you in if you are interested.

Cheers

Jon

Anthrage
2004-Apr-06, 12:34 AM
So it sounds like you are saying that life itself would be a non-issue, but that intelligent beings with souls - 'soul-capable life' - would be another matter. Or I suppose, advanced forms of life without souls...that would also be something of note I would think.

I would be interested in seeing any references to developed opinions and such you might have online - my offline reading is pretty much spoken for. :)

In my opinion, any belief - be it scientific or religious in nature - reveals much about itself and it's 'validity' through it's assimilation of and relation to new information and accepted fact, perhaps more than it does from it itself. I have always wondered what the precise nature of the supposed crisis would be should other living beings be discovered. While some may be obvious, I have been fairly sure I was missing something. Anything that would help cast some light on this particular issue would be appreciated.

As an aside, finding intelligent beings out there somewhere with their own belief systems - their own religions, their own gods - has the potential, as I see it, to both 'hurt or help'. Surely if so-called aliens are found to worship the same god that christians do, it would be strong evidence supporting their beliefs. Not that they feel it is needed mind you. Nor does it rule out such things as convergent evolution...but it is an interesting prospect.

Hopefully no matter what an individual's personal beliefs are, they will not fear or fight the pursuit of increased knowledge. One of the most exciting prospects to me is the idea of having another data set. The more data we have, the better an understanding we can hope to achieve, and hopefully, get closer to the truth - which, for those who are not convinced that are already in possession of the truth, is I think a very good thing. :)

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 07:56 AM
Personally I think it's a pity that we can't get to the stars. I'd love to find another "Earth" complete with all the kinds of creatures we have here except Man just to see the panic that would overtake most Evolutionists as they attempted to rationalise the exact same "random" changes being passed through all the creatures on two totally different planets, lol

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 08:18 AM
Personally I think it's a pity that we can't get to the stars. I'd love to find another "Earth" complete with all the kinds of creatures we have here except Man just to see the panic that would overtake most Evolutionists as they attempted to rationalise the exact same "random" changes being passed through all the creatures on two totally different planets, lol

And the chances of this happening?

"Billions and Billions" to one.

Keep dreamin', but please mention some references before you start throwing around assertions like that.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 08:30 AM
Personally I think it's a pity that we can't get to the stars. I'd love to find another "Earth" complete with all the kinds of creatures we have here except Man just to see the panic that would overtake most Evolutionists as they attempted to rationalise the exact same "random" changes being passed through all the creatures on two totally different planets, lol

And the chances of this happening?

"Billions and Billions" to one.

Keep dreamin', but please mention some references before you start throwing around assertions like that.


I'd say that an Evolutionist would probably put the odds as higher then "Billions and Billions" to one. Creationists would put them at about oh somewhere in the range of....... 100%

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 09:11 AM
Personally I think it's a pity that we can't get to the stars. I'd love to find another "Earth" complete with all the kinds of creatures we have here except Man just to see the panic that would overtake most Evolutionists as they attempted to rationalise the exact same "random" changes being passed through all the creatures on two totally different planets, lol

And the chances of this happening?

"Billions and Billions" to one.

Keep dreamin', but please mention some references before you start throwing around assertions like that.


I'd say that an Evolutionist would probably put the odds as higher then "Billions and Billions" to one. Creationists would put them at about oh somewhere in the range of....... 100%

I have proof:

www.talkorigins.org

Where's yours?

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 09:23 AM
I have proof:

www.talkorigins.org

Where's yours?


I really have no idea what you're going on about. If you are trying to claiming that Evolutionists wouldn't have a problem with discovery another "Earth" with identical life on it as here, well yeah, I'm sure that most would try and come up with some sort of excuse, if you are saying it'll never happen, then well, that's your opinon.

As to having Proof, why do I need any proof of anything? I was suggesting what I would find rather neat, not stating that it was a fact, the only proof I need is the proof tht I do indeed find it a neat idea.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 09:30 AM
I have proof:

www.talkorigins.org

Where's yours?


I really have no idea what you're going on about. If you are trying to claiming that Evolutionists wouldn't have a problem with discovery another "Earth" with identical life on it as here, well yeah, I'm sure that most would try and come up with some sort of excuse, if you are saying it'll never happen, then well, that's your opinon.

What I am claiming is that what you suggested is, if not impossible, at least extremely unlikely.


As to having Proof, why do I need any proof of anything? I was suggesting what I would find rather neat, not stating that it was a fact, the only proof I need is the proof tht I do indeed find it a neat idea.

And what I am saying, is that I don't find your maligning of Hard-Working Scientists, to be very neat at all.

Simply put, Scientists don't Panic, they're rational people who usually hold very strongly to their Sanity and Discipline.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 09:35 AM
What I am claiming is that what you suggested is, if not impossible, at least extremely unlikely.

Only from a Evolutional point of view, from an Creation point of view, it is highly likely and if it occured, would not be a problem. I believe that as you yourself have pointed out, that such an occurance WOULD be a problem for evolutional scientists and so you seem to be agreeing with me here.



As to having Proof, why do I need any proof of anything? I was suggesting what I would find rather neat, not stating that it was a fact, the only proof I need is the proof tht I do indeed find it a neat idea.

And what I am saying, is that I don't find your maligning of Hard-Working Scientists, to be very neat at all.

Simply put, Scientists don't Panic, they're rational people who usually hold very strongly to their Sanity and Discipline.

You see it your way I see it mine. I see others saying the same about Creationists all the time and do you see me getting upset?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 10:04 AM
You see it your way I see it mine. I see others saying the same about Creationists all the time and do you see me getting upset?

I would be.

If they were the hard working People Mainstream Scientists are.

As it is, they contribute nothing to society, and make the rest of the world, think that Americans are Idiots.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 10:07 AM
Only from a Evolutional point of view, from an Creation point of view, it is highly likely and if it occured, would not be a problem. I believe that as you yourself have pointed out, that such an occurance WOULD be a problem for evolutional scientists and so you seem to be agreeing with me here.

You're putting words in my mouth.

What I said, was that what you suggested was a Falsifiable Proposition.

As such, said occurance would be a problem, if it were first proven to exist.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 10:14 AM
Only from a Evolutional point of view, from an Creation point of view, it is highly likely and if it occured, would not be a problem. I believe that as you yourself have pointed out, that such an occurance WOULD be a problem for evolutional scientists and so you seem to be agreeing with me here.

You're putting words in my mouth.

What I said, was that what you suggested was a Falsifiable Proposition.

As such, said occurance would be a problem, if it were first proven to exist.

How am I doing that when we are agreeing on that part? We are saying the same thing, that under the evolutional model such a find (and if we did find one then it would be proven to exist) would be a serious problem.

However under either an Intelligently driven Evolution, or Creation of Kinds, it is not only very possible, but in fact highly likely. Thus such a find would not hamper, but would confirm what those people think. Which is where my first point was, that finding life elsewhere doesn't have to be a blow to those that follow religion, in fact depending on how it occurs, it could be exactly the opposite.

However, since so of yet we can't explore the stars, the whole thing is obviously conjecture and speculation.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 10:36 AM
Only from a Evolutional point of view, from an Creation point of view, it is highly likely and if it occured, would not be a problem. I believe that as you yourself have pointed out, that such an occurance WOULD be a problem for evolutional scientists and so you seem to be agreeing with me here.

You're putting words in my mouth.

What I said, was that what you suggested was a Falsifiable Proposition.

As such, said occurance would be a problem, if it were first proven to exist.

How am I doing that when we are agreeing on that part? We are saying the same thing, that under the evolutional model such a find (and if we did find one then it would be proven to exist) would be a serious problem.

However under either an Intelligently driven Evolution, or Creation of Kinds, it is not only very possible, but in fact highly likely. Thus such a find would not hamper, but would confirm what those people think. Which is where my first point was, that finding life elsewhere doesn't have to be a blow to those that follow religion, in fact depending on how it occurs, it could be exactly the opposite.

However, since so of yet we can't explore the stars, the whole thing is obviously conjecture and speculation.

We are not saying the same thing, for one reason:

Idle Speculation has no place in a discussion such as this.

What also has no place, is your insistence that such speculation, is on an even footing with well thought out theory, and in fact, makes a mockery of the very people who are someday going to build the Starships that test your theory.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 10:47 AM
We are not saying the same thing, for one reason:

Idle Speculation has no place in a discussion such as this.

What also has no place, is your insistence that such speculation, is on an even footing with well thought out theory, and in fact, makes a mockery of the very people who are someday going to build the Starships that test your theory.


So I guess those that speculated on Neutrenos, Neutrons, on black holes and deep space fields. Those that speculted on atomic structure and DNA and just about ever other thing that has ever been found in science shuld never have been given any considertion.

I mean come on, EVERYONE knew that an atom considered as a globe of Protons in an electron soup and ANYONE that dared suggest otherwise must have been a moron that was mking a mockery of the very scientists that knew they were right and that no one else could possible be, right?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 10:59 AM
We are not saying the same thing, for one reason:

Idle Speculation has no place in a discussion such as this.

What also has no place, is your insistence that such speculation, is on an even footing with well thought out theory, and in fact, makes a mockery of the very people who are someday going to build the Starships that test your theory.


So I guess those that speculated on Neutrenos, Neutrons, on black holes and deep space fields. Those that speculted on atomic structure and DNA and just about ever other thing that has ever been found in science shuld never have been given any considertion.

I said, "Idle Speculation," for a reason.

All of the things you mentioned were, and are still being, tested extremely stringently, for even a tiny amount of error, and also have a basic underpinning in their Mathematics.


I mean come on, EVERYONE knew that an atom considered as a globe of Protons in an electron soup and ANYONE that dared suggest otherwise must have been a moron that was mking a mockery of the very scientists that knew they were right and that no one else could possible be, right?

Exactly.

And then Niels Bohr came along, and through hard work, and even harder number crunching, Discovered that there was more to it than that.

And then, Quantum Mechanics came along, and showed that even Bohr had some thinking to do.

You see, therin lies the difference:

Scientists are never satisfied, thinking that their Pet Idea is 100% Accurate.

Instead, they are constantly picking, and striving to understand even a small portion of the Universe wherin we reside.

When they stop doing that, they cease to be scientists.

Usually this only happens after they retire, at which point they are gently patted on the head, and told to relax a little.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 11:07 AM
The thing is that without speculation, whether it be idle specultion, or thought out (and all of the things I stated started with idle speculation, and then proceeded to the hard work stage when the person involved thought that hey, this might actually have a point, they didn't have the thought and start working on it instantly) there would be no science. To discard an idea or a possiblity simply because it doesn't fit with your view of the world is not only foolish, but highly unscientific, yet this is appartently what you want to do. Suggesting that things might turn out radically different from wht minstream science thinks is not making a mockery of anything, it is an attempt to stretch people's thinking beyond the box and what they have been taught at school.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 11:11 AM
If it isn't Testable, it can never be right.

It also can Never be Wrong.

That's the problem, idle speculation leads only to Tautology.

You have to know when to abandon a line of research.

I'll give you a hint, when the rest of the World starts making fun of your Country, that may be the time to stop, or at the very least, actually go out and test your conjectures.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 12:30 PM
The way I see it, should we figure out a way to get to and explore an inter-stellar planet with the same conditions as Earth, then we'll find one of 4 things.

1) Nothing, that it will be barren and without life, though it has plenty of water etc.

This would be a serious problem to Evolution, but there as numerous fall back positions such as not enough time, wrong conditions for life, that life is rare and doesn't happen all the time. For Creationists it'd be a boost, but not game winer.

2) That it has life, but not as we know it. Perhaps it will have copper or zinc based blood, maybe it might require right-handed sugars and protiens rather then left-handed, maybe it might have a silicon/carbon based structure. Whatever, it would be totally different to Earth based life.

In this situation it would be a mssive boost to Evolution and blow to Creationists, though once again not a game winner because Creationists can claim that it was created too.

3) Life as we know. Creatures and kinds that are different to what we know on earth, but with a similar biology to the creatures on Earth.

This is sort of the tied game. Evolutionists can point to the different species as proof that living on a different planet with different cirumstances lead to different creatures than Earth. Creationists would point to the complexity of the life forms and that the same DNA structures, biology etc all point towards a single Creator/Designer. We'd be no better off than before.

4) It's Earth 2. All or a good potion of the specises found can be found on Earth. From trees, grasses and shrubs through to the birds, insects, reptiles and mammels, all of the kinds we have on Earth are represented.

This would be a extreme problem for Evolution because under that model, it would be so close to an impossiblity that it might as well not exist. That doesn't mean that the model can't be modified, it would most likely be moved to a situation of showing that only certain genetic mutations are stable and that these will always lead to the same result over time. For Creationists this result would be a major boost as they'd claim that at two planets with identical life is the ultimte proof.

It seems to me that you would rather only that situations 1-3 are speculated about which seems foolish to me because you are blinding yourself to possiblities because they don't agree with your ideas.



As to your idea of:


If it isn't Testable, it can never be right.

It also can Never be Wrong.

That's the problem, idle speculation leads only to Tautology.

You have to know when to abandon a line of research.

Perhps it might nt be provable as wrong, but that doesn't mean that it can't be speculated on. I believe that it took about 30 years from the speculation of Neutrenos to being able to test for them IIRC. Should that idea have been dropped because the technology wasn't available to test it? Of course not. We should instead strive to better our technology until we have the ability to test it. Until then we just have to be open to the possiblity that the final results aren't going to be what we expect and thus we should remain open to speculation and possibilty, as long as we understand that is all it is, and don't attempt to make it a hypothesis unless we get more evidence.

Iain Lambert
2004-Apr-06, 12:38 PM
Idle Speculation has no place in a discussion such as this.

Actually, Zaphod, I've got to disagree here. The whole proposition in the initial thread is a "what if?" scenario of how the various different religions might be affected if we found extraterrestrial life. While I can understand you reading a motive into PhantomWolf's suggestion, its actually an interesting proposition that a planet with genetically identical animals present would cause more upheaval for biologists than it would for religious leaders.

Like you, I think that it is monumentally unlikely, but the original poster did say this:


For example, possible ranges of manifestation of said life could be living or dead (fossilized evidence of) microbial life, higher forms of life or artifacts of advanced life and related systems.

Its pretty clear that how different types of evidence, and different types of life affecting the outcome is a central point of this. Common DNA (actually, even the use of DNA, I'd suspect) would suggest a common origin, and then we'd need to figure out how.

However, as far as non-sentient life goes, I would suggest that strange forms would cause a Christian no more problem than the discovery of another planet with life; we are constantly finding new species here on Earth that aren't described in the Bible, but this isn't seen as evidence that God has been sneakily hiding something from us.

Iain Lambert
2004-Apr-06, 12:42 PM
Creatures and kinds that are different to what we know on earth, but with a similar biology to the creatures on Earth.

I don't suppose you're the one person who knows what a "kind" is, are you? Every time I've seen someone try to get a proper answer out of a Creationist on what they mean by "kind" has failed miserably.

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 12:50 PM
Creatures and kinds that are different to what we know on earth, but with a similar biology to the creatures on Earth.

I don't suppose you're the one person who knows what a "kind" is, are you? Every time I've seen someone try to get a proper answer out of a Creationist on what they mean by "kind" has failed miserably.

The way that'd I'd understand it from a science point of veiw would be that Felines would be a kind, Canines another, etc. Not being on expert on DNA and chromosone count, I guess that if different groups inside those have different numbers then there would be a case to reduce them further (ie Humans have 46 chromosones whereas a Chimp has 48 and so though both classed as primates, they would be a different Kind.) Does that help?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 01:12 PM
The way I see it, should we figure out a way to get to and explore an inter-stellar planet with the same conditions as Earth, then we'll find one of 4 things.

1) Nothing, that it will be barren and without life, though it has plenty of water etc.

This would be a serious problem to Evolution, but there as numerous fall back positions such as not enough time, wrong conditions for life, that life is rare and doesn't happen all the time. For Creationists it'd be a boost, but not game winer.

2) That it has life, but not as we know it. Perhaps it will have copper or zinc based blood, maybe it might require right-handed sugars and protiens rather then left-handed, maybe it might have a silicon/carbon based structure. Whatever, it would be totally different to Earth based life.

In this situation it would be a mssive boost to Evolution and blow to Creationists, though once again not a game winner because Creationists can claim that it was created too.

3) Life as we know. Creatures and kinds that are different to what we know on earth, but with a similar biology to the creatures on Earth.

This is sort of the tied game. Evolutionists can point to the different species as proof that living on a different planet with different cirumstances lead to different creatures than Earth. Creationists would point to the complexity of the life forms and that the same DNA structures, biology etc all point towards a single Creator/Designer. We'd be no better off than before.

4) It's Earth 2. All or a good potion of the specises found can be found on Earth. From trees, grasses and shrubs through to the birds, insects, reptiles and mammels, all of the kinds we have on Earth are represented.

This would be a extreme problem for Evolution because under that model, it would be so close to an impossiblity that it might as well not exist. That doesn't mean that the model can't be modified, it would most likely be moved to a situation of showing that only certain genetic mutations are stable and that these will always lead to the same result over time. For Creationists this result would be a major boost as they'd claim that at two planets with identical life is the ultimte proof.

It seems to me that you would rather only that situations 1-3 are speculated about which seems foolish to me because you are blinding yourself to possiblities because they don't agree with your ideas.

No, because they deserve a passing glance, and then a push aside.

This is because, no where in all of this have you listed a game over, for Creationism.

I'll grant you that #4 is an irreconcilible speculation with regards to Evolution, however it is only that, Idle Speculation, show me The Data.

Also, when would a Creationist admit defeat, and agree that the other side is right, what is your Testable Conjecture?


As to your idea of:


If it isn't Testable, it can never be right.

It also can Never be Wrong.

That's the problem, idle speculation leads only to Tautology.

You have to know when to abandon a line of research.

Perhps it might nt be provable as wrong, but that doesn't mean that it can't be speculated on. I believe that it took about 30 years from the speculation of Neutrenos to being able to test for them IIRC. Should that idea have been dropped because the technology wasn't available to test it? Of course not. We should instead strive to better our technology until we have the ability to test it. Until then we just have to be open to the possiblity that the final results aren't going to be what we expect and thus we should remain open to speculation and possibilty, as long as we understand that is all it is, and don't attempt to make it a hypothesis unless we get more evidence.

Neutrinos were never idly speculated upon.

The Theory for them emerged out of the following observation:



p

n -----------
\
\
\
\
e+


Clearly a Violation of the Law of Conservation of Momentum, or is it?

Theory dictated that there had to exist an unknown particle that was being emitted towards the upper-right of the track.

It also had to have three characteristics:

1. It had to be Electrically Neutral

2. It had to be a particle, not an anti-particle, and

3. As it was not yet observable, it had to be almost, if not entirely, Massless.

As such, its traits were known, even before its discovery, when the track, looked like this:



p

Ve
/
/
/
/
n -----------
\
\
\
\
e+


However, even this is not the end of the story, thanks to the Electroweak Theory, and backed up with Cloud Chamber Results, we now know that this is what actually happens:



p

n ----------- W+

Ve
/
/
/
/
n -----------
\
\
\
\
e+


Along with its Opposite:



n

p ----------- W-

Ve(bar)
/
/
/
/
p -----------
\
\
\
\
e-


Edited: even I don't get the coding right the first time, everytime.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 01:23 PM
Idle Speculation has no place in a discussion such as this.

Actually, Zaphod, I've got to disagree here. The whole proposition in the initial thread is a "what if?" scenario of how the various different religions might be affected if we found extraterrestrial life. While I can understand you reading a motive into PhantomWolf's suggestion, its actually an interesting proposition that a planet with genetically identical animals present would cause more upheaval for biologists than it would for religious leaders.

True.

Although I did, and still do, find the thought of Rational Scientists running about in a Panic, to be a slap in the face after everything they've done for us.

Support your Local Scientists, they apparently deserve a lot more respect than they get.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 01:24 PM
Creatures and kinds that are different to what we know on earth, but with a similar biology to the creatures on Earth.

I don't suppose you're the one person who knows what a "kind" is, are you? Every time I've seen someone try to get a proper answer out of a Creationist on what they mean by "kind" has failed miserably.

The way that'd I'd understand it from a science point of veiw would be that Felines would be a kind, Canines another, etc. Not being on expert on DNA and chromosone count, I guess that if different groups inside those have different numbers then there would be a case to reduce them further (ie Humans have 46 chromosones whereas a Chimp has 48 and so though both classed as primates, they would be a different Kind.) Does that help?

Ah huh

Young Earth, or Old Earth?

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 01:24 PM
No, because they deserve a passing glance, and then a push aside.

This is because, no where in all of this have you listed a game over, for Creationism.

I'll grant you that #4 is an irreconcilible speculation with regards to Evolution, however it is only that, Idle Speculation, show me The Data.

Also, when would a Creationist admit defeat, and agree that the other side is right, what is your Testable Conjecture?


Actually if you looked at it none of the 4 give a conclusive Game Over for Evolution either, in fact I gave a plauisible agument that an evolutionist can give to explain number 4. I am sure given time that it wouldn't be hard to come up with others. Sure it would be harder to come up with them than for the others, but not impossible. By contrast, I doubt that anything really could be a game over for Creationist theory because the obvious answer is always "Because God wanted it that way." There would be things that would serious damge the case, but I am just as sure that they would work out a reason just as Evolutionists would if God arrived and waved to them.


Neutrinos were never idly speculated upon.

So you are suggesting that the first person to think of a Neutrino decided straight away that this was the answer without any evidence but that Beta particles acted strangely. That they didn't sit around and throw out several possible reasons for this and see which one seemed to fit the facts best, but instantly knew exactly what it was without any deviations of thought, just instantly coming up with the theory?

[edited to fix typos]

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-06, 01:31 PM
Ah huh

Young Earth, or Old Earth?


Comets, Fumeroles or Evapourate?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 01:45 PM
No, because they deserve a passing glance, and then a push aside.

This is because, no where in all of this have you listed a game over, for Creationism.

I'll grant you that #4 is an irreconcilible speculation with regards to Evolution, however it is only that, Idle Speculation, show me The Data.

Also, when would a Creationist admit defeat, and agree that the other side is right, what is your Testable Conjecture?


Actually if you looked at it none of the 4 give a conclusive Game Over for Evolution either, in fact I gave a plauisible agument that an evolutionist can give to explain number 4. I am sure given time that it wouldn't be hard to come up with others. Sure it would be harder to come up with them than for the others, but not impossible. By contrast, I doubt that anything really could be a game over for Creationist theory because the obvious answer is always "Because God wanted it that way." There would be things that would serious damge the case, but I am just as sure that they would work out a reason just as Evolutionists would if God arrived and waved to them.

Oh no, you can have number 4, no Rational Scientist would touch it.

Further, that's why Schools do not, and should not, Teach Creationism.

At any time you can just say, "G-d did it."

How do I know The Universe didn't magically appear Last Wednesday, with everyone's memories, made to look as though they were older; I don't, G-d must've done it.


Neutrinos were never idly speculated upon.


So you are suggesting that the first person to think of a Neutrino decided straight away that this was the answer without any evidence but that Beta particles acted strangely. That they didn't sit around and throw out several possible reasons for this and see which one seemed to fit the facts best, but instantly knew exactly what it was without any deviations of thought, just instantly coming up with the theory?

[edited to fix typos]

No it took a coupla nights over a few beers, but as soon as the idea the Law of Conservation of Momentum might be wrong, was thrown out for sheer unwieldlyness, the Theory that an Unknown, Neutral, Nearly Massless Particle just might exist, was deemed to deserve further study.

Which it was given.

And thus, the Neutrino was discovered, not through pluck and happenstance, mind you, but through an Experiment, specifically designed to Detect it.

If it hadn't been, well, back to the old drawing board ...

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 01:55 PM
Ah huh

Young Earth, or Old Earth?


Comets, Fumeroles or Evapourate?

You know what I mean.

Was there a Flood, as described in Genesis, or not?

George
2004-Apr-06, 03:58 PM
At any time you can just say, "G-d did it."

How do I know The Universe didn't magically appear Last Wednesday, with everyone's memories, made to look as though they were older; I don't, G-d must've done it.

"Last Thursday" is the phrase I've heard more often.

However, what kind of god would pull a stunt like that? I think he would be subject to extensive ridicule and coming from nearly infinitesimal objects like ourselves (relative to the size of our universe -other p-brane universes not withstanding), that would be rather embarrassing, IMO. Scientists have revealed vast wonders in the understanding of the "works" of life, space, matter and energy. I do not think a creator would suddenly prove irrational if his works are so amazing.

I can not imagine any condition that would negate our ability to have faith in a transcendent creator. We can always ask "why" or "how did this come about initially". However, if the Bible is shown to be very false, it would be more than a discouragement. Usually, reinterpretation steps in to reveal the real truth. Geocentricism was never really in the Bible but it sure seemed logical for a couple thousand years. Minor reinterpretation was all that was needed but people do not like radical changes especially when they feel smaller (since the universe gets bigger).

The Bible is an amazing set of books. Whenever you ask "what if" questions (i.e. life on Mars), you can expect different answers based on their own interpretation which, hopefully, is open to reinterpretation but often is not.

[spelling edit]

Irishman
2004-Apr-06, 07:09 PM
ZaphodBeebleBrox said:

And what I am saying, is that I don't find your maligning of Hard-Working Scientists, to be very neat at all.

Simply put, Scientists don't Panic, they're rational people who usually hold very strongly to their Sanity and Discipline.

I don't know, I think if we did happen to find another planet with exact duplicate life forms to Earth, there would be a lot of shrugs and head scratches. Perhaps "panic" is an exaggeration, but I do not think it maligning to state they would be mighty perplexed.

Frankly, it feels like you are overreacting a bit. PhantomWolf made a comment about something he would find interesting, not a statement of fact. Although his wording does suggest he considers it a likely occurrence, it was still a statement of opinion.

And really this conversation is mostly idle speculation. We don't exactly have a lot of data to go on (just the handful of planets around here, and nothing glaring from the nearby systems we're beginning to make out). Heck, the whole concept of the Drake Equation is idle speculation. It's not like we can fill in real values for many of the terms. Heck, we have enough trouble getting agreement on what terms are needed.

As far as the OP, the speculation on the effects of finding extraterrestrial life to religions is curious. The big thing to remember is that religious belief is essentially the culmination of the attitudes of the people at large. The religious structure can provide guidance and hint, and sometimes even do more forceful things, but in the end the practices, teachings, creeds, and dogmas are malleable. Look at the variety of subcultures within Catholicism, for instance, and the effects the various absorbtions have had. For instance, Vodoun and the cultures of the Caribbean that intermix the two. Look at the shift to accept heliocentrism (and later the "growth" of the universe) in the mainstream religious belief. Heck, look at the numbers of self-identified Catholics who do not conform to strict teachings of their church - divorce, birth control, abortion, etc. While certainly there is a large proportion, perhaps even majority, who do conform, there is a substantial amount that do not.

I think the conflicts within christianity against extraterrestrial life are not so much strictly from the Bible as much as from historical theologians and the accummulation of interpretation. Sure, the Bible didn't really mention other planets, but that can easily be ignored (it was only concerned with God's relationship with us humans), and I'm sure the creative ones can find a way to tie it in and say it is mentioned in Genesis.

I think there will be some subset of believers who find it upsetting and therefore will fight against acceptance, like with evolution. But I think the majority of believers and theologians will accept the undeniable and adjust their views to accommodate the changes.

I think the trickiest issue is finding other sentient life forms, i.e. moral agents. The notion of the soul is still the strongest defining line for most christians on seperating the importance of humans. Finding some other beings that are clearly our equals, not just chimps or dolphins, would be the biggest sticking point and could perhaps lead to severe tensions that make the abortion debate look like a thumbwrestling match. Talk about issues of racism and arguments over whether they have a soul or not and whether they are Gods children or not....

Kaptain K
2004-Apr-06, 08:29 PM
However, what kind of god would pull a stunt like that?
Loki?

mike alexander
2004-Apr-06, 08:30 PM
And for those who haven't already done so, one science-fictional treatment of this question can be read in James Blish's A Case of Conscience.

SciFi Chick
2004-Apr-06, 08:47 PM
Back when I was a Christian, I figured if aliens turned out to be real, I wouldn't believe anymore. However, I ended up not believing anyway through other circumstances, so I don't know if I'm a good example.

As for finding a planet with exact duplicates, it would be fascinating. Scientists would immediately start hypothesizing about how this affects the theory of evolution.

Not one scientist would decide that this somehow proves the Genesis account.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 09:37 PM
ZaphodBeebleBrox said:

And what I am saying, is that I don't find your maligning of Hard-Working Scientists, to be very neat at all.

Simply put, Scientists don't Panic, they're rational people who usually hold very strongly to their Sanity and Discipline.

I don't know, I think if we did happen to find another planet with exact duplicate life forms to Earth, there would be a lot of shrugs and head scratches. Perhaps "panic" is an exaggeration, but I do not think it maligning to state they would be mighty perplexed.

Frankly, it feels like you are overreacting a bit. PhantomWolf made a comment about something he would find interesting, not a statement of fact. Although his wording does suggest he considers it a likely occurrence, it was still a statement of opinion.

True.

Although, in my experience, I have found that unless they are told they are mistaken, with facts to back it up, Creationists tend to simply get bolder, and go from merely making opinions, to trying to Convert everybody.

And, I don't know what it's like where you are, but I've gotten tired of Little Boys in Bavaria, all thinking that Americans are Idiots, who wouldn't know the Scientific Method if it bit them on the nose.

JohnOwens
2004-Apr-06, 09:48 PM
And, I don't know what it's like where you are, but I've gotten tired of Little Boys in Bavaria, all thinking that Americans are Idiots, who wouldn't know the Scientific Method if it bit them on the nose.
Oh, there you go. Fight nationalist stereotyping with nationalist stereotyping! That sounds like a winning formula. :roll:

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-06, 09:53 PM
And, I don't know what it's like where you are, but I've gotten tired of Little Boys in Bavaria, all thinking that Americans are Idiots, who wouldn't know the Scientific Method if it bit them on the nose.
Oh, there you go. Fight nationalist stereotyping with nationalist stereotyping! That sounds like a winning formula. :roll:

Not so much that, as from what I hear, American Creationists have made the News in Germany, rather often.

Personally I don't like anybody laughing at anybody, especially children.

George
2004-Apr-06, 10:31 PM
However, what kind of god would pull a stunt like that?
Loki?


In most Norse myths, Loki is portrayed as a prankster and a trickster . His misadventures often involve creating great problems for the Norse gods and for the inhabitants of the other worlds.

from >>> here (http://www.stemnet.nf.ca/CITE/v_loki.htm) <<<

You may have solved the Cydonia Face issue! That rascal, Loki! I'll let you inform Mr. Hoagland. :)

aurora
2004-Apr-06, 10:43 PM
However, what kind of god would pull a stunt like that?
Loki?

In most North American native stories, the trickster was either Raven or Coyote.

Anthrage
2004-Apr-06, 10:48 PM
...things sure went somewhat wild for a while there, but eventually found their way back to the intended points. :)

One of those points, thankfully underlined by others before I got back to this thread, was the role of interpretation and faith in both science and religion, and that how in both 'worlds', discovery of life or significantly developed life could easily be explained and accepted.

While there are possible discoveries which could pose problems for either camp, I don't see how 'another earth' would be one which would be problematic for scientists and/or those who believe in evolution. Given that ultimately, in either a direct or indirect sense, our environment is celestial or cosmic in origin, there are many possible reasonable explanations for such a discovery. Those with an understanding of the nature of matter, how information manifests in the universe and how complex systems can arise from very simple rules...well, it follows quite naturally.

One thing that might be useful would be establishing some neutral frame of reference, unbiased methodology or middle ground between the two apparent viewpoints that would provide a balanced position from which to make assessments of the data and discoveries that would not rely to heavily on interpretation or faith. Some might call this the scientific method...which I suppose, it not altogether inaccurate - but clearly, those on the other 'side' would find fault and bias there. Perhaps someone of that camp could outline possible objections in the scientific method, or suggestion a possible approach that did not rely on faith?

Those of us who've been dealing with the drake equation or fermi's paradox, to name just two examples, have long asked ourselves questions about life and intelligences other than that found on earth. In our lifetime, we should be able - even while keeping in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - make sufficient quality observations to begin to have good cause to worry if other biological systems are not found.

While I have no doubt the next generation or two will have some differences from this one, it is certain that religion and science will be a major part of it's belief system. It may not be entirely beyond practical use to ask ourselves how various discoveries, or lack there of, will be received by the general population - and how it may be reacted to.

In thinking on these things, I am reminded of Sagan's Contact, and in some instances at least, it's quality manifestation on film. When Ellie faces the questioning as regards her qualifications, and it comes to light that she does not share the belief of the great many who if she is correct may be described as sharing a mass hallucination, it marks starkly and clearly a very inescapable reality.

By the majority of definitions, the two camps - including or represented by evolutionists and creationists - are incompatible. At present, while wars have been fought for different religious beliefs and by different groups of believers, we have not seen any such conflict between those who believe in god/a god/a higher power and those who do not; at least not over that point of contention. I think if it were not something that would require a civil war it would likely have occured, as it did in part at least in some conflicts in the last 50 years (godless communists etc.).

As evidence comes in that is, or will be used as, conclusive in some fashion, I wonder if the peace between these two groups will continue. Hopefully, some basic understandings can be shared by the parties as regards to an objective foundation for the analysis of discoveries, so that things are not immediately adopted as proof for or against any position, but have a legitimate life of their own before being co-opted. The eye-catching headlines and media-hype aside, often used in regards to fields such physics, genetics, cosmology and of course space exploration/astrobiology, we are not too far from the time when some fundamental questions will begin to have recognizable answers...and I worry what may happen if some do not like the answers they are given.

George
2004-Apr-07, 12:47 AM
...While there are possible discoveries which could pose problems for either camp, I don't see how 'another earth' would be one which would be problematic for scientists and/or those who believe in evolution. Given that ultimately, in either a direct or indirect sense, our environment is celestial or cosmic in origin, there are many possible reasonable explanations for such a discovery. Those with an understanding of the nature of matter, how information manifests in the universe and how complex systems can arise from very simple rules...well, it follows quite naturally.

True, IMO. From the science camp, this makes sense as universal biological laws, although not well known, can conceivably produce similar life. The SciFi shows already make this beleivable. However, since Christianity involves a Savior who was literally sacrificed for mankind's ungodliness, it would be odd for Christians to expect him to go planet to planet taking their punishment, too, (assuming sentient lifes that sin). The "Creationists", as the term is being used extensively at the BABB for the strict literalists, would seem to be harder pressed to account for life out there if it all started, in their view, down here. I don't think most Christians feel this way, however, as there are good arguments that the context of scripture yields the right meaning over some passages that have been taken as literal. I can't say how other religions would see it.



One thing that might be useful would be establishing some neutral frame of reference, unbiased methodology or middle ground between the two apparent viewpoints that would provide a balanced position from which to make assessments of the data and discoveries that would not rely to heavily on interpretation or faith. Some might call this the scientific method...which I suppose, it not altogether inaccurate - but clearly, those on the other 'side' would find fault and bias there. Perhaps someone of that camp could outline possible objections in the scientific method, or suggestion a possible approach that did not rely on faith?

Possibly the only hope to reconcile the two is to reinterpret scripture through greater understanding of the context and perspective of the author. I believe science could be supportive here. "Creationists", who rightly weigh all the evidence, will have to hope for some major upheavel in science to justify their strict interpretation, IMO. However, any action to minimize faith in the Creator Himself will be rightly met with strong resistance by anyone with faith. Make a way that science reveals soundness in scripture and faith will not only be allowed it will be strenghtened. I personaly believe this is possible with some existing scientific knowledge, especially as it can be applied to Genesis 1.


Those of us who've been dealing with the drake equation or fermi's paradox, to name just two examples, have long asked ourselves questions about life and intelligences other than that found on earth. In our lifetime, we should be able - even while keeping in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - make sufficient quality observations to begin to have good cause to worry if other biological systems are not found.

Yep. There does not seem to be any scientific reason for life not to be found somewhere out there. If, after several hundred likely life bearing planets, no existing or extinct life is found, I am sure there will be some soul searching. I go with the idea that...whatever glorifies God greater is usually the best plan. George's razor? For instance, 100 years ago if you were given a choice of 1 galaxy or 150 billion, which would the razor cut? This doesn't mean an infinite number is better, however, nor life on every planet as we don't appreciate the "haves" except for the "have nots". Balance is key. Life on other planets? You bet and it could even be for our future enjoyment too.


While I have no doubt the next generation or two will have some differences from this one, it is certain that religion and science will be a major part of it's belief system. It may not be entirely beyond practical use to ask ourselves how various discoveries, or lack there of, will be received by the general population - and how it may be reacted to.

That's another good point. Education will sure help. The truth and honesty must be mandatory but discretion is important, too.


By the majority of definitions, the two camps - including or represented by evolutionists and creationists - are incompatible. At present, while wars have been fought for different religious beliefs and by different groups of believers, we have not seen any such conflict between those who believe in god/a god/a higher power and those who do not; at least not over that point of contention. I think if it were not something that would require a civil war it would likely have occured, as it did in part at least in some conflicts in the last 50 years (godless communists etc.).

As evidence comes in that is, or will be used as, conclusive in some fashion, I wonder if the peace between these two groups will continue. Hopefully, some basic understandings can be shared by the parties as regards to an objective foundation for the analysis of discoveries, so that things are not immediately adopted as proof for or against any position, but have a legitimate life of their own before being co-opted. The eye-catching headlines and media-hype aside, often used in regards to fields such physics, genetics, cosmology and of course space exploration/astrobiology, we are not too far from the time when some fundamental questions will begin to have recognizable answers...and I worry what may happen if some do not like the answers they are given.

You make good points. Looks like at least one group is not too happy already. When someone's faith is under attack, they should get unhappy. But there is a point when reinterpretation is needed to handle the significant evidence against any position. I suspect there will be a growing intolerance, however, toward men and women of faith. The way the word "creationist" is used is one indicator of improper generalilzation. Nevertheless, I am sympathetic to both sides as I understand both, I think.

[edit, changed "for" to toward in last paragraph to clarify]

PhantomWolf
2004-Apr-07, 03:25 AM
Firstly I want to say thnks to those that have stood roughly in my corner, and acknowledged my right to hold an opinion even if it disagrees with their own. I think the comon sense and sanity finally prevailed.

Secondly, to Zaphod, my point in asking you "Comets, Fumeroles or Evapourate?" was to point out the irrelevance of your question. Just as it has absolutely no bearing on matters if you believe that life evolved through comet seeding, that it began about fumeroles or if you are a believer in the primordial soup which evapourated and formed protocells, it has absolutely no bearing on the topic what I believe. I might believe that God took 13 billion years to create the universe, then made life in a day, or that it took 7 days, or that He merely guided everything, or that the universe was created when God sneezed and we are all now just waiting for the day of the great white handkerchief, it doesn't matter it is irrelevant to the topic, and so I'm not going to answer it.

I have no plan to "covert" you or anyone else, what you believe has zero affect on me, just as what I believe has zero effect on you, and never will so why should I care about it?

Coyote203
2004-Apr-07, 04:04 AM
No, because they deserve a passing glance, and then a push aside.

This is because, no where in all of this have you listed a game over, for Creationism.

I'll grant you that #4 is an irreconcilible speculation with regards to Evolution, however it is only that, Idle Speculation, show me The Data.

Also, when would a Creationist admit defeat, and agree that the other side is right, what is your Testable Conjecture?

Again at the beginning, you don't give them a chance. Evolution is a theory. Creationism and Intelligent Design (together) are theories. You cannot prove yours and I cannot prove mine. Yes evolution is going on. I can agree with that. Is that part of an intelligent design though? I think it is. You apparently don't. Do I think the world was created in 7 days? Not as far as Earth days are considered, but there is a design to it. When dealing with theories, a true scientist does not discount other theories that are possible just because they don't agree with them. There are serious flaws in the Evolution theory. Can it be fixed? Maybe but that still doesn't mean that there is not a design behind it. Take a look at the start of this thread. It was created with someones intelligent design behind it. Did that person control how the thread would go? No. The thread evolved afterwards. That is the nature of posts on boards. Someone could have set up the world and let it evolve. Can I prove it? No. Can you? No. Can we test it? No. Can you? No. Will we find out. When we die, we will know. I feel I am prepared.

Anthrage
2004-Apr-07, 04:37 AM
Amen. (To PhantomWolf, not Coyote. I see no point in enflaming things further)

I think it can be fairly acknowledged that of the two sides - recognizing again that the specific labels used and the overall generalizations are flawed, imprecise and woefully lacking - it is the believers who have taken the most knocks. From being called weak-minded to morons to, pardon the pun, god knows what else...let us try to give each side some respect, and take for granted that everyone has a right to their beliefs, and while they also have a right to their opinions, insulting the former or the holders thereof while expressing the latter is not something that will benefit this kind of discussion. It's a very old argument that is not going to be settled here. :)

I myself do not happen to believe in the christian god, as such, and have gone so far as to develop my own belief system. I have my own opinions on the matter, but will not get into them in the context of this discussion except to say two things. First, I myself have not, and do not believe any well-intentioned, right-minded person should, discount anything - including a set of beliefs - without 'trying it on' first. Whether doing so is purely a mental exercise, or something more involved, is up to the individual, but one can only truly understand something - and someone in tbis case - until they have done so.

The second and relative thing is that in my case, while the christian, as-depicted-in-the-bible-God as no place in my beliefs, nor in my universe, a somewhat less anthropomorphic manifestation of some sort is not out of the question. Seeing as we human beings are nearing on being capable of creating life, and the stars, moons, planets and all right down to the basic building blocks of matter are foreseeably comprehensible in at least a functional sense, I can hardly reject the idea of at least the practical aspects of god being manifest in some form. Like a wise man once said, "I have no problem believing in god, it's all that religious nonsense I have trouble with.", I do not see the basic elements of the two 'worlds' as incompatible.

So, in theory, no matter what the discovery as regards life beyond earth, different people will find a way to make it acceptable to their belief system and to themselves. The problem, I think, will truly arise when one side is, through whatever interpretation of a particular discovery or bit of 'evidence' comes to be dominant, left with little to justify their continued belief - not to themselves perhaps, since it is not required in that sense, but to the resulting more confident 'opposition'.

As things stand now, there are a number of unresolved issues at the societal level that are directly related to the true nature of life, and/or the existence of god. Violence, the most visible example of these conflicts, does occur in relation to these issues. Unless everyone, regardless of belief, adopts a less invested approach to these things - or one less affected by the opions of others, even if they are labeled as 'facts', or purely as faith - the coming wealth of information in the form of data, knowledge and discovery, could be the fuel that will turn these burning embers into a full-fledged blaze.

Beliefs and their manifestation through a culture or society are a dangerous, powerful thing, as we have seen throughout history, some of it very recent, and very very painful. We have seen what happens when the holders of one idealogy, a religion, a political system, an economic agenda or any of the range of human 'beliefs', presses toi hard into the other's domain, not leaving them 'their space' - or resists and presses back. Manifest destiny, a specific term that can be applied generally to any claiming of 'this is correct, ordained and should be', can be a problem. Hopefully the coming generation will be more enlightened, more willing to let others have their beliefs - regardless of what their interpretation of the evidence is.

Of course, it can never be that simple. What one is willing to give another in their private life, will have manifestations in public life, and where that is in places of shared domain - schools, laws etc. - there will be conflict. I just hope it plays itself out more often on message boards than through murderous bloodshed. :)

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-Apr-07, 05:11 AM
Hear Here.

And I will appologise if I said anything uncouth to you, PhantomWolf, but of course it matters if we're talking Old Earth, or Young Earth, Creationism, especially if you're going to bring up Created Kinds.

As to your response, according to current thought, each played its part, at the moment the exact proportions are somewhat cloudy.

What we do know is, a. Comets contain Long Carbon Chains, including simple Amino Acids, b. These Carbon Chains have an affinity for Layered Clay, and c. Under-Sea Vents would have provided the earliest available source of Thermal Energy, possibly even before the Sun itself entered The Main Sequence, and stopped being simply a Proto-Star.

However, as to your question of why we should care about what the other ones believe, well that does demand further study.

This is because, there has to be some common ground, common ground that can be reached without villifying each other.

Irishman
2004-Apr-07, 04:01 PM
SciFi Chick said:

Back when I was a Christian, I figured if aliens turned out to be real, I wouldn't believe anymore.

Interesting. What was your justification for that position?


Not one scientist would decide that this somehow proves the Genesis account.

Be careful with blanket statements. After all, scientists are people, too. We all have our preconceptions, our blind spots, our areas of pigheadedness. There are scientists that are christians. There are several who are actively trying to incorporate religion into their work. Check out the Templeton Prize and the folks it has awarded. I would not be surprised if some scientists took that as a sign. However, I agree there would be plenty who started to look for naturalistic explanations.

Anthrage said:

One thing that might be useful would be establishing some neutral frame of reference, unbiased methodology or middle ground between the two apparent viewpoints that would provide a balanced position from which to make assessments of the data and discoveries that would not rely to heavily on interpretation or faith. Some might call this the scientific method...which I suppose, it not altogether inaccurate - but clearly, those on the other 'side' would find fault and bias there. Perhaps someone of that camp could outline possible objections in the scientific method, or suggestion a possible approach that did not rely on faith?

That brings up the question of just where and how the conflict arose. Scientists might argue the conflict comes from religionists not being able to accept the findings of science that seem to conflict with their foundational dogmas. Religionists might counter that the start was when Darwin and his supporters argued Evolution as a direct assault on creationism, and thus religious belief.

The problem is that when Darwin (and Wallace) proposed Natural Selection, Creationism was the prevailing paradigm. Thus, in order to argue for Natural Selection, he had to address creationism. He had to explain why evolution by natural selection was an explanation.

The conflict over creationism vs. evolution comes from the extremes on both sides. Evolution could be the process used by a creator. There's no way to disprove that. What Evolution disproves is the 7 days, instantaneous pop into existence. But there are plenty of christians who don't have a problem with that. So what if Genesis is poetry, a tale woven to tell a story about the purpose of humanity, not a true explanation of the facts? However, it is argued that evolution leaves less and less room for a god to play a role. This is a philosophical argument, and is outside the facts of how evolution works, and how it explains the method of the origins and development of life.

The real source of the conflict between science and religion is fundamental. In a nutshell, science is about explaining - discovering how things work. Religion is about believing without, and sometimes even despite, any explanation. Thus the inherent conflict.

Madcat
2004-Apr-09, 07:31 PM
I don't see why it would alter many people's religious views. The way I see it, there are three groups involved here:

People that believe in evolution and have religious faith should not have any objections to life developing elsewhere by the same mechanism which developed it on Earth.

Creationists won't care because evidence doesn't matter to them anyway, :wink:

And atheists won't care for much the same reason as the people that have religious faith but accept Evolution.

SciFi Chick
2004-Apr-09, 07:48 PM
SciFi Chick said:

Back when I was a Christian, I figured if aliens turned out to be real, I wouldn't believe anymore.

Interesting. What was your justification for that position?



It would negate the whole point of the Bible. After all, based on the Bible, God created humans because he was lonely.

Also, if there are other creatures in the universe, I could not reconcile that with the idea that Jesus had to die.

Obviously the Bible can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. One verse speaks of humans being the first fruits of God's creations, so he is obviously free to continue creating, but it just didn't reconcile with what I believed because it would eliminate the specialness of the relationship between the God of the Universe and us. I mean, the story goes that he sacrificed his ONLY begotten son. That's kind of a big deal. Having other creatures out there messes it up.


Be careful with blanket statements. After all, scientists are people, too. We all have our preconceptions, our blind spots, our areas of pigheadedness. There are scientists that are christians.

Okay. I should have said good scientists. :wink:

JonClarke
2004-Apr-09, 11:25 PM
Wow, I go away for a few days because of the real world and wnat happens? This thread explodes and moves off into the all to familiar evolution vs creation exchange. Sigh.

OK, a couple of comments before a move back to the original questions I was asked by Anthrage.

The extremes on both sides are as bad as each other. A plague on the houses of Ham and Dawkins.

Creationism (as opposed to acknowledging God as maker of heaven and earth) is not only bad science, it is bad theology. While Dawkin's science may be good, the metaphysics he draws from it is both suspect and ideological, hence my comment above.

Historically, young earth creationism is a construct that would have been utterly alien to the majority of Christian thinkers through the past 300 years (let alone before). For that matter, it is alien to the writings of the original fundamentalists, some of whom, James Orr for instance, were supporters of darwinian evolution.

My own personal position on this is that evolution, as a description of process and creation, as a statement of relationship, are complementary.

Back now to the original questions by Anthrage on Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:34 am.

From the history of the discussion life is certainly true that bilogical life as such is a non issue. As for soul-capable life (great expression) for advanced forms of life without souls I don't see this as an a priori problem as such, but certainly would raise some interesting questions to be worked through.

For the history of such discussions, there are interesting summaries in Steven Dick's "The biological universe" (Cambridge University Press, 1996), especially chapter 1 (for the 16th-19th century) and 10.2 (for the 20th century). In the 17th century the highly devout Kepler and Bishop Welkins argued for the purality of inhabited worlds. Although his faith is not mentioned in this book, so did Huygens. In the 19th century the Rev Thomas Chambers argued strongly for the neccessity of a plenitude inhabited worlds. The polymath Canon Whewell argued against it, but on scientific not theological grounds (Dick is in error on Whewell on this point, relying on only one work). The astronomer Procter was enclined to a plurality of inhabited worlds on theological grounds, but found the scientific evidence weak. The 20th century writers on the subject were mere concerned with specific theological issues, such as the nature of salvation in a university with a plurality of soul capable beings. They have included the cosmologist Milne, the SF writer and popular theologian Lewis, and theoligians Delano and Mascall. As a general rule, people outside the Christian faith (Paine, for example, or Puccetti), saw the problem as larger than those inside.

More generally, this book is an excellent review of astrobiology in science and culture. The timing of its publication was unfortunate, as it predated (just!) ALH84001 and the discovery of extra solar planets, the absence of reference to these does date some aspects of the book.

General agreement on the tone and content of the rest of your post.

Cheers

Jon

lpetrich
2004-Apr-11, 10:47 PM
I mean come on, EVERYONE knew that an atom considered as a globe of Protons in an electron soup and ANYONE that dared suggest otherwise must have been a moron that was mking a mockery of the very scientists that knew they were right and that no one else could possible be, right?
Ah, yes. The Monday-morning-quarterback school of the history of science.

There were indeed some who proposed other models, like Lenard's dynamids (pairs of negative and positive charges inside of atoms).

Though it is true that nobody had expected the positively-charged part of an atom to be much smaller than the atom itself -- what reason had there been to consider that possibility before Ernest Rutherford's experiments?

(neutrinos being proposed 30 years before they were detected...)
So what?


The way that'd I'd understand it from a science point of veiw would be that Felines would be a kind, Canines another, etc.
How does one determine what is in a "created kind"? I've yet to see any creationist give a clear answer to that question. Let's consider what the cat kind might be.

The domestic cat, Felis sylvestris catus
With its closest wild relatives, Felis sylvestris
With other small wildcats, Felis
With other felines, Felidae
With mongooses, civets, hyenas, etc., Feliformia
With dogs, bears, weasels, seals, etc., Carnivora
With other placental mammals, Eutheria
With marsupials and monotremes, Mammalia
With mammal-like reptiles, Synapsida
With other reptiles, dinosaurs, and birds, Amniota
With amphibians (frogs, salamanders, etc.), Tetrapoda
With lobe-finned fish, Sarcopterygii
With ray-finned fish, Osteichthyes
With sharks and other jawed fish, Gnathostomata
With lampreys and hagfish and other jawless fish, Vertebrata
With amphioxus, sea squirts, etc., Chordata
With hemichordates and echinoderms, Deuterostomia
With protostomes (mollusks, annelids, arthropods, etc.), Bilateria
With cnidarians (sea anemones, jellyfish, etc.) and ctenophores, Metazoa
With sponges, Animalia
With choanoflagellates (collar flagellates)
With fungi, Opisthokonta
With other eukaryotic organisms, Eukarya
With other cellular organisms, Biota (all of the Earth's life)


I guess that if different groups inside those have different numbers then there would be a case to reduce them further (ie Humans have 46 chromosones whereas a Chimp has 48 and so though both classed as primates, they would be a different Kind.)
However, some organisms, like domestic mice, have "chromosomal races" in their species with different numbers of chromosomes.

(the Universe being created with the appearance of greater age...)

However, what kind of god would pull a stunt like that?
But that is second-guessing God, right?


Geocentricism was never really in the Bible but it sure seemed logical for a couple thousand years.
News to me.


Historically, young earth creationism is a construct that would have been utterly alien to the majority of Christian thinkers through the past 300 years (let alone before).
News to me. Ask Archbishop Ussher and other Biblical chronologists of past centuries, who have typically concluded that the Universe is between 5500 and 6000 years old.

JonClarke
2004-Apr-12, 03:42 AM
Hi lpetrich

Let's be fair to Ussher and his contemporaries. Ussher wrote before there any of the tools available to study earth history. He was wrong but he used a rational method using what he thought as the best data available. Criticisng ussher for not anticpating a future science and its tools is like criticising Artsitole for being a geocentricist. However, it is worth noting that even at the time there were those, such as Burnet, who had a somewhat different understanding of the chronology of Genesis. This was based on textural rather than geologic grounds, however.

It was not until Steno a few years later that the basic stratigraphic methods were developed, and not until the 18th century that the great antiquity of the earth gradually began to be realised. In Britain at least many of the late 18th and early 19th century many of these were clergymen who saw no conflict betwen their faith or their discoveries of an old earth. Sedgwick, Conybeare, Chambers, Buckland, Fleming, Whewell, and Miller all being examples.

Even in the 19th century the age of the earth was uncertain over many orders of magntitude, from a feqw 10's of millions to quadrillions. It was not until the advent of radiometric dating in the early 20th century that there was any real hope of a quantitative measurement of the age of the earth.

Cheers

Jon

lpetrich
2004-Apr-12, 09:19 AM
It's certainly understandable that Ussher and others would conclude that the Universe was created around 3500-4000 BCE, but it does show that the theologians of previous centuries had beliefs similar to those of present-day young-earth creationists.

lpetrich
2004-Apr-12, 09:42 AM
And on the main subject, I think that the only ones likely to be bothered are some of the farther-out Christian fundamentalists; there are some of those who maintain that the Earth is the only inhabited planet in the Universe.

I think that big theological troubles would only result from the getting lengthy, detailed messages from ET's or visiting ET's making contact -- but that may be part of the overall culture shock that may come about from analyzing these messages and conversing with those ET's.

JonClarke
2004-Apr-12, 09:46 AM
I would argue that there is a world of difference between 17th century theologians and the 20th (and 21st) century young earthers.

First, those of the 17th century recognised a range of positions, including 144 hour literalism (e.g. Ussher), chaos-restitution (e.g. Burnet) with the 6 days preceeded by an unspecified put probably siginficant length of time, and followers of Augustine who saw the cration period as instantaneous.

Secondly, there is a huge difference between maintaining a position in the absence of evidence and holding one in the face of evidence. Ussher and his ilk (such as Lightfoot) used the evidence they saw relevant. Modern young earthism maintains its position in the face of almost 300 years of research to the contrary.

The 18th, 19th and 20th century theological successors of Ussher et al. had no problems with an old earth. Even the fundamentalists of the early 20th century accepted an old earth. Modern young earthism has little connection to these, instead Modern its roots lie in the folk religion in a fringe group in the United States, the Adventists.

Cheers

Jon