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Re: Pope prepares to embrace theory of intelligent design

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  • Richard Baker
    ... Well, it seems to me that religious people talk quite a lot about human dignity and humanity being made in the image of God in some sense, and it seems
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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      Andrew said:

      > "inevitable" is a word which is loaded in itself, and as to
      > "outcome", I don't think we're quite at the end of the river yet.

      Well, it seems to me that religious people talk quite a lot about
      "human dignity" and humanity being made in the image of God in some
      sense, and it seems that in the Islamic/Christian/Jewish religion God
      has some kind of special interest in humans (or perhaps He is also
      supposed to send prophets and messiahs to chimpanzees and squid and
      so forth...) and that humans have some centrality in God's universe.
      This being the case, it seems to me that these religions imply that
      humanity was supposed or intended to exist in the universe.

      On the other hand, although one might make the case for certain
      traits such as intelligence or bipedalism being likely to arise, it's
      vanishingly unlikely that humanity would appear in its current form
      if evolution had had even a very slightly different starting point or
      been subject to very slightly different perturbations along the way.

      The juxtaposition of the religious idea and the scientific idea
      suggest to me that people who believe that God started off life and
      then watched it unfold must also believe that God chose very, very
      specific initial conditions. This is what I was implying by my use of
      the word "inevitable". Which then further suggests the question: why
      would God bother with this rather elaborate scheme rather than
      creating humans directly?

      I can't help but say that it looks to me like religious people
      struggling to hold onto vague and metaphorical versions of ideas
      whose exact and literal versions have been shown to be extremely
      unlikely indeed by the progress of science.

      Rich

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    • Ritu
      ... Have you read Steinbeck s _St. Katherine_? :) On a related note, Vishnu s incarnations, though mostly meant to sort out the problems of the bipedals
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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        Rich wrote:

        > Well, it seems to me that religious people talk quite a lot about
        > "human dignity" and humanity being made in the image of God in some
        > sense, and it seems that in the Islamic/Christian/Jewish
        > religion God
        > has some kind of special interest in humans (or perhaps He is also
        > supposed to send prophets and messiahs to chimpanzees and squid and
        > so forth...)

        Have you read Steinbeck's _St. Katherine_? :)

        On a related note, Vishnu's incarnations, though mostly meant to sort
        out the problems of the bipedals [though not just humans], take the form
        of a fish, a tortoise, a boar, man-lion hybrid etc. And one of Shiva's
        incarnation was in the form of a monkey, and he was a prophet to the
        monkeys.

        Ritu

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      • Richard Baker
        ... No, I haven t. I ll look out for it. ... I didn t know that last part, which is quite cute. But of course I knew that some other religions are less
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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          Ritu said:

          > Have you read Steinbeck's _St. Katherine_? :)

          No, I haven't. I'll look out for it.

          > On a related note, Vishnu's incarnations, though mostly meant to sort
          > out the problems of the bipedals [though not just humans], take the
          > form
          > of a fish, a tortoise, a boar, man-lion hybrid etc. And one of Shiva's
          > incarnation was in the form of a monkey, and he was a prophet to the
          > monkeys.

          I didn't know that last part, which is quite cute. But of course I
          knew that some other religions are less humano-centric.

          Rich

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        • Ritu
          ... Its a short story and the collection is called _The Red Pony_. A lot of good stories in there. :) Ritu _______________________________________________
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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            Rich said:

            > > Have you read Steinbeck's _St. Katherine_? :)
            >
            > No, I haven't. I'll look out for it.

            Its a short story and the collection is called _The Red Pony_.
            A lot of good stories in there. :)

            Ritu

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          • Andrew Crystall
            ... You won t actually get many Rabbis willing to hold forth on pure theoreticals like that, just like not many will hold forth on life- after-death.
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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              On 2 Sep 2006 at 19:28, Richard Baker wrote:

              > Andrew said:
              >
              > > "inevitable" is a word which is loaded in itself, and as to
              > > "outcome", I don't think we're quite at the end of the river yet.
              >
              > This being the case, it seems to me that these religions imply that
              > humanity was supposed or intended to exist in the universe.

              You won't actually get many Rabbis willing to hold forth on pure
              theoreticals like that, just like not many will hold forth on life-
              after-death. Essentially, though, Judaism is not threatened if Aliens
              exist, even intelligent ones.

              > On the other hand, although one might make the case for certain
              > traits such as intelligence or bipedalism being likely to arise, it's
              > vanishingly unlikely that humanity would appear in its current form
              > if evolution had had even a very slightly different starting point or
              > been subject to very slightly different perturbations along the way.

              That's why I brought up many-words/multiverse - in that, we are not
              unique snowflakes at all. There are at "alpha" versions of you, for
              example, if they're true. I'm not going to get into transinfinites,
              but if it's true then we're NOT unique, NOT unusual.

              I refer you to John Brunner, _The Infinitive of Go_

              > the word "inevitable". Which then further suggests the question: why
              > would God bother with this rather elaborate scheme rather than
              > creating humans directly?

              We're getting into perceptions now. Okay, if people KNEW they'd been
              created then it's change our perspective of G-d. If we didn't know,
              well, then...I'm going to refer you to Brin's _Heavens Reach_.

              How does the quote go..something like..

              "All the simulations have been run and discarded, what we call
              existance is merely an illusion of elapsed time".

              > I can't help but say that it looks to me like religious people
              > struggling to hold onto vague and metaphorical versions of ideas
              > whose exact and literal versions have been shown to be extremely
              > unlikely indeed by the progress of science.

              Maybe and maybe not. But please don't confuse Christianity and
              Judaism's approach to science.

              Gallelo is the perfect example.

              He had years of trouble with - was called a Heretic by - the
              Catholics for advocating Copernician theory (although calling the
              Pope a simpleton in print did't help either).

              The Jewish astronmers of the day were not convinced by Copernician
              theory either, but there was no threat to their religious views - the
              important observations of the sky for the Jewish religion would not
              change if the idea of heliocentric movement was true. What mattered
              was not scientific theory but the specified observations.

              Time after time, where a Christian finds historical views have
              changed within the Church, there has simply not been a conflict in
              the first place for the Jews.

              AndrewC
              Dawn Falcon

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            • Dan Minette
              ... Well, if Wheeler is right, that s by definition because the universe requires a primitive act of registration. :-) Other intelligent beings would produce
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                > Behalf Of Richard Baker
                > Sent: Saturday, September 02, 2006 1:29 PM
                > To: Killer Bs Discussion
                > Subject: Re: Pope prepares to embrace theory of intelligent design


                > This being the case, it seems to me that these religions imply that
                > humanity was supposed or intended to exist in the universe.

                Well, if Wheeler is right, that's by definition because the universe
                requires a primitive act of registration. :-) Other intelligent beings
                would produce different interfaces. All one really has to do is take the
                original intent of the passage in Genesis and extend it.


                > I can't help but say that it looks to me like religious people
                > struggling to hold onto vague and metaphorical versions of ideas
                > whose exact and literal versions have been shown to be extremely
                > unlikely indeed by the progress of science.

                But, the literal version, at least within the Judaic-Christian tradition,
                has never been intended to hold statements like "man was made in the image
                of God" to imply a God with two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two arms and two
                legs. God, by definition, was transcendent.

                Let me give two good examples of this in Hebrew Scriptures: the first is the
                anathema of Israel creating an idol of Yahweh. The second is the mockery of
                those who have a concrete understanding of God in Isaiah.

                Going to the general topic, I'd be very surprised if the Pope would embrace
                intelligent design. It would undo over 100 years of Catholic teaching on
                the subject of evolution. It would also contradict a very recent official
                article in the Vatican newspaper which regarded a cardinal's support of
                intelligent design as "unfortunate." Cardinals, on occasion, speak out on
                their own. Vatican officials do not publish in the official Vatican
                newspaper on their own. The latter is usually considered policy.

                Finally, only one papal pronouncement has been declared infallible since the
                existence of papal infallibility was declared at Vatican I, in the 19th
                century. The rest of the statements didn't meet the requirements.

                Dan M.


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              • David Hobby
                Andrew Crystall wrote: ... ... Andrew-- Going with this whole Jewish thing, I m thinking you may mean aleph . : ) As in: There are at least aleph-null
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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                  Andrew Crystall wrote:
                  ...
                  > You won't actually get many Rabbis willing to hold forth on pure
                  ...
                  > That's why I brought up many-words/multiverse - in that, we are not
                  > unique snowflakes at all. There are at "alpha" versions of you, for
                  > example, if they're true. I'm not going to get into transinfinites,
                  > but if it's true then we're NOT unique, NOT unusual.
                  ...

                  Andrew--

                  Going with this whole Jewish thing, I'm thinking you may
                  mean "aleph". : )

                  As in: "There are at least aleph-null versions of you, for
                  example, if that's true." On do I have any idea what you
                  were trying to say?

                  ---David

                  Cantor got to name them, Maru
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                • Andrew Crystall
                  ... Bleck, yes, aleph. Heh. As a further note, it s also somewhat explored in Ian Macleod s _Learning the World_, but I consider it quite clumsy in comparison.
                  Message 8 of 19 , Sep 2, 2006
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                    On 2 Sep 2006 at 20:04, David Hobby wrote:

                    > Andrew Crystall wrote:
                    > ...
                    > > You won't actually get many Rabbis willing to hold forth on pure
                    > ...
                    > > That's why I brought up many-words/multiverse - in that, we are not
                    > > unique snowflakes at all. There are at "alpha" versions of you, for
                    > > example, if they're true. I'm not going to get into transinfinites,
                    > > but if it's true then we're NOT unique, NOT unusual.
                    > ...
                    >
                    > Andrew--
                    >
                    > Going with this whole Jewish thing, I'm thinking you may
                    > mean "aleph". : )
                    >
                    > As in: "There are at least aleph-null versions of you, for
                    > example, if that's true." On do I have any idea what you
                    > were trying to say?

                    Bleck, yes, aleph. Heh.

                    As a further note, it's also somewhat explored in Ian Macleod's
                    _Learning the World_, but I consider it quite clumsy in comparison.

                    AndrewC
                    Dawn Falcon

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                  • Charlie Bell
                    ... ...apart from all the major ID spokespeople have said at various times that the designer is God, and a number of them are YECs who were convinced that
                    Message 9 of 19 , Sep 3, 2006
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                      On 02/09/2006, at 6:41 PM, Andrew Crystall wrote:

                      >
                      > Further, ID has very little to do with belief that G-d created the
                      > universe...

                      ...apart from all the major ID spokespeople have said at various
                      times that the designer is God, and a number of them are YECs who
                      were convinced that pretending that there's a scientific way to
                      discern the existence of God was the best way to further the
                      creationist and dominionist agenda. ID has *everything* to do with
                      belief that God created the universe.

                      > I, as many Jews, believe that G-d created..evoloution, and
                      > set in chain the process which lead to Man.

                      This here is theistic evolution, not ID. Theistic evolution is
                      indistinguishable from secular evolution at the level of science.
                      It's only a matter of whether one is a believer in God or gods or
                      not, not whether one thinks evolution happened or not.
                      >
                      > Conflict? WHAT conflict?

                      The conflict is between people who think science should be science
                      and religion should be religion, and if you're religious you can
                      understand God's universe by studying it, and those who think that
                      studying it is anathema because we already know all the answers
                      through revelation.

                      Charlie

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                    • Dan Minette
                      ... I don t know if you know who Billy Graham is, Charlie. He s the most famous American evangelical preacher of the last 50 years. A friend of mine is
                      Message 10 of 19 , Sep 3, 2006
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                        > -----Original Message-----
                        > From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
                        > Behalf Of Charlie Bell
                        > Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006 9:36 PM
                        > To: Killer Bs Discussion
                        > Subject: Re: Pope prepares to embrace theory of intelligent design
                        >
                        > The conflict is between people who think science should be science
                        > and religion should be religion, and if you're religious you can
                        > understand God's universe by studying it, and those who think that
                        > studying it is anathema because we already know all the answers
                        > through revelation.
                        >
                        > Charlie

                        I don't know if you know who Billy Graham is, Charlie. He's the most famous
                        American evangelical preacher of the last 50 years. A friend of mine is
                        sending me an email quoting Billy stating that evolution and Christianity
                        are fully compatible. He falls in the first category. I always thought he
                        was a fundamentalist, but its clear now that he isn't.

                        Dan M.


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                      • Andrew Crystall
                        ... Ah, kinda missing my point, Charlie. It s not to do with that, but rather that they haven t been able to get creationism taught as science, so this is just
                        Message 11 of 19 , Sep 3, 2006
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                          On 4 Sep 2006 at 5:36, Charlie Bell wrote:

                          >
                          > On 02/09/2006, at 6:41 PM, Andrew Crystall wrote:
                          >
                          > >
                          > > Further, ID has very little to do with belief that G-d created the
                          > > universe...
                          >
                          > ...apart from all the major ID spokespeople have said at various
                          > times that the designer is God, and a number of them are YECs who

                          Ah, kinda missing my point, Charlie. It's not to do with that, but
                          rather that they haven't been able to get creationism taught as
                          science, so this is just another shot at the pie.

                          > > I, as many Jews, believe that G-d created..evoloution, and
                          > > set in chain the process which lead to Man.
                          >
                          > This here is theistic evolution, not ID. Theistic evolution is
                          > indistinguishable from secular evolution at the level of science.
                          > It's only a matter of whether one is a believer in God or gods or
                          > not, not whether one thinks evolution happened or not.

                          Yes. Gets back to the book _Genesis and the Big Bang_.

                          > > Conflict? WHAT conflict?
                          >
                          > The conflict is between people who think science should be science
                          > and religion should be religion, and if you're religious you can
                          > understand God's universe by studying it, and those who think that
                          > studying it is anathema because we already know all the answers
                          > through revelation.

                          Again yes...I'm saying that as a Jew, I don't see the conflict.

                          "those who think that studying it is anathema"

                          ...are not Jews. Judaism has allways had a strong scientific
                          tradition, and no theory is thrown out purely because it "conflicts
                          religious beliefs". To do so it so limit what G-d can do. One
                          considers scientific facts seperately from religious ones.

                          I have no fondness for any form of fanatic, especially ones pushing
                          religious and philosophical arguments as scientific theories.

                          AndrewC
                          Dawn Falcon

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                        • Charlie Bell
                          ... No, he s just an evangelical. And he seems to have avoid the power and money traps so many evangelists fall into (along with the fundamentalist leanings
                          Message 12 of 19 , Sep 3, 2006
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                            >
                            > I don't know if you know who Billy Graham is, Charlie. He's the
                            > most famous
                            > American evangelical preacher of the last 50 years.

                            ...and I've seen him evangelise.

                            > A friend of mine is
                            > sending me an email quoting Billy stating that evolution and
                            > Christianity
                            > are fully compatible He falls in the first category. I always
                            > thought he
                            > was a fundamentalist, but its clear now that he isn't.

                            No, he's just an evangelical. And he seems to have avoid the power
                            and money traps so many evangelists fall into (along with the
                            fundamentalist leanings that are so easy to use in that "us vs them"
                            way that the real greedmongers and loopers do.

                            Charlie
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                          • Charlie Bell
                            ... Ah, I see what you mean. I thought you were making the very European mistake that assumes that ID *is* theistic evolution and therefore can t understand
                            Message 13 of 19 , Sep 3, 2006
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                              On 04/09/2006, at 5:58 AM, Andrew Crystall wrote:

                              > On 4 Sep 2006 at 5:36, Charlie Bell wrote:
                              >
                              >>
                              >> On 02/09/2006, at 6:41 PM, Andrew Crystall wrote:
                              >>
                              >>>
                              >>> Further, ID has very little to do with belief that G-d created the
                              >>> universe...
                              >>
                              >> ...apart from all the major ID spokespeople have said at various
                              >> times that the designer is God, and a number of them are YECs who
                              >
                              > Ah, kinda missing my point, Charlie. It's not to do with that, but
                              > rather that they haven't been able to get creationism taught as
                              > science, so this is just another shot at the pie.

                              Ah, I see what you mean. I thought you were making the very European
                              mistake that assumes that ID *is* theistic evolution and therefore
                              can't understand all the fuss... :-)

                              >
                              >>> I, as many Jews, believe that G-d created..evoloution, and
                              >>> set in chain the process which lead to Man.
                              >>
                              >> This here is theistic evolution, not ID. Theistic evolution is
                              >> indistinguishable from secular evolution at the level of science.
                              >> It's only a matter of whether one is a believer in God or gods or
                              >> not, not whether one thinks evolution happened or not.
                              >
                              > Yes. Gets back to the book _Genesis and the Big Bang_.

                              The Gerald Shroeder book? If so, that has big problems too, by trying
                              to tie the science too closely to the Genesis order of things. In
                              fact, most of the ancient history of the biblical texts is
                              archaeologically and scientifically dubious, there's a fair bit of
                              myth in there. Which I don't think any reasonable person should have
                              a problem with, as it's not supposed to be a history text any more
                              than stories of the Lightning Man or the halls of Valhalla are.
                              They're stories that bind a people culturally, that provide an anchor
                              to their identity.

                              >
                              >>> Conflict? WHAT conflict?
                              >>
                              >> The conflict is between people who think science should be science
                              >> and religion should be religion, and if you're religious you can
                              >> understand God's universe by studying it, and those who think that
                              >> studying it is anathema because we already know all the answers
                              >> through revelation.
                              >
                              > Again yes...I'm saying that as a Jew, I don't see the conflict.
                              >
                              > "those who think that studying it is anathema"
                              >
                              > ...are not Jews. Judaism has allways had a strong scientific
                              > tradition, and no theory is thrown out purely because it "conflicts
                              > religious beliefs". To do so it so limit what G-d can do.

                              Precisely the reasoning I have used when arguing that ID creationism
                              is not only bad science, it's rotten theology too.

                              Charlie
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