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'Explore as much as we can': Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes on evolution & intelligent design
UC Berkeley News ^ | 06/17/2005 | Bonnie Azab Powell,

Posted on 05/16/2007 6:54:51 AM PDT by SirLinksalot

Charles Townes is the Nobel Prize Physics winner whose pioneering work led to the maser and later the laser.

The University of California, Berkeley interviewed him on his 90th birthday where they talked about evolution, intelligent design and the meaning of life.

I thought this would be good to share...

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BERKELEY – Religion and science, faith and empirical experiment: these terms would seem to have as little in common as a Baptist preacher and a Berkeley physicist. And yet, according to Charles Hard Townes, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics and a UC Berkeley professor in the Graduate School, they are united by similar goals: science seeks to discern the laws and order of our universe; religion, to understand the universe's purpose and meaning, and how humankind fits into both.

Where these areas intersect is territory that Townes has been exploring for many of his 89 years, and in March his insights were honored with the 2005 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Worth about $1.5 million, the Templeton Prize recognizes those who, throughout their lives, have sought to advance ideas and/or institutions that will deepen the world's understanding of God and of spiritual realities.

Townes first wrote about the parallels between religion and science in IBM's Think magazine in 1966, two years after he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work in quantum electronics: in 1953, thanks in part to what Townes calls a "revelation" experienced on a park bench, he invented the maser (his acronym for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission), which amplifies microwaves to produce an intense beam. By building on this work, he achieved similar amplification using visible light, resulting in the laser (whose name he also coined).

Even as his research interests have segued from microwave physics to astrophysics, Townes has continued to explore topics such as "Science, values, and beyond," in Synthesis of Science and Religion (1987), "On Science, and what it may suggest about us," in Theological Education (1988), and "Why are we here; where are we going?" in The International Community of Physics, Essays on Physics (1997).

Townes sat down one morning recently to discuss how these and other weighty questions have shaped his own life, and their role in current controversies over public education.

Q. If science and religion share a common purpose, why have their proponents tended to be at loggerheads throughout history?

Science and religion have had a long interaction: some of it has been good and some of it hasn't. As Western science grew, Newtonian mechanics had scientists thinking that everything is predictable, meaning there's no room for God — so-called determinism. Religious people didn't want to agree with that. Then Darwin came along, and they really didn't want to agree with what he was saying, because it seemed to negate the idea of a creator. So there was a real clash for a while between science and religions.

But science has been digging deeper and deeper, and as it has done so, particularly in the basic sciences like physics and astronomy, we have begun to understand more. We have found that the world is not deterministic: quantum mechanics has revolutionized physics by showing that things are not completely predictable. That doesn't mean that we've found just where God comes in, but we know now that things are not as predictable as we thought and that there are things we don't understand. For example, we don't know what some 95 percent of the matter in the universe is: we can't see it — it's neither atom nor molecule, apparently. We think we can prove it's there, we see its effect on gravity, but we don't know what and where it is, other than broadly scattered around the universe. And that's very strange.

So as science encounters mysteries, it is starting to recognize its limitations and become somewhat more open. There are still scientists who differ strongly with religion and vice versa. But I think people are being more open-minded about recognizing the limitations in our frame of understanding.

You've said "I believe there is no long-range question more important than the purpose and meaning of our lives and our universe." How have you attempted to answer that question?

Even as a youngster, you're usually taught that there's some purpose you'll try to do, how you are going to live. But that's a very localized thing, about what you want with your life. The broader question is, "What are humans all about in general, and what is this universe all about?" That comes as one tries to understand what is this beautiful world that we're in, that's so special: "Why has it come out this way? What is free will and why do we have it? What is a being? What is consciousness?" We can't even define consciousness. As one thinks about these broader problems, then one becomes more and more challenged by the question of what is the aim and purpose and meaning of this universe and of our lives.

Those aren't easy questions to answer, of course, but they're important and they're what religion is all about. I maintain that science is closely related to that, because science tries to understand how the universe is constructed and why it does what it does, including human life. If one understands the structure of the universe, maybe the purpose of man becomes a little clearer. I think maybe the best answer to that is that somehow, we humans were created somewhat in the likeness of God. We have free will. We have independence, we can do and create things, and that's amazing. And as we learn more and more — why, we become even more that way. What kind of a life will we build? That's what the universe is open about. The purpose of the universe, I think, is to see this develop and to allow humans the freedom to do the things that hopefully will work out well for them and for the rest of the world.

How do you categorize your religious beliefs?

I'm a Protestant Christian, I would say a very progressive one. This has different meanings for different people. But I'm quite open minded and willing to consider all kinds of new ideas and to look at new things. At the same time it has a very deep meaning for me: I feel the presence of God. I feel it in my own life as a spirit that is somehow with me all the time.

You've described your inspiration for the maser as a moment of revelation, more spiritual than what we think of as inspiration. Do you believe that God takes such an active interest in humankind?

[The maser] was a new idea, a sudden visualization I had of what might be done to produce electromagnetic waves, so it's somewhat parallel to what we normally call revelation in religion. Whether the inspiration for the maser and the laser was God's gift to me is something one can argue about. The real question should be, where do brand-new human ideas come from anyway? To what extent does God help us? I think he's been helping me all along. I think he helps all of us — that there's a direction in our universe and it has been determined and is being determined. How? We don't know these things. There are many questions in both science and religion and we have to make our best judgment. But I think spirituality has a continuous effect on me and on other people.

That sounds like you agree with the "intelligent design" movement, the latest framing of creationism, which argues that the complexity of the universe proves it must have been created by a guiding force.

I do believe in both a creation and a continuous effect on this universe and our lives, that God has a continuing influence — certainly his laws guide how the universe was built. But the Bible's description of creation occurring over a week's time is just an analogy, as I see it. The Jews couldn't know very much at that time about the lifetime of the universe or how old it was. They were visualizing it as best they could and I think they did remarkably well, but it's just an analogy.

Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?

I think it's very unfortunate that this kind of discussion has come up. People are misusing the term intelligent design to think that everything is frozen by that one act of creation and that there's no evolution, no changes. It's totally illogical in my view. Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it's remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren't just the way they are, we couldn't be here at all. The sun couldn't be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.

Some scientists argue that "well, there's an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right." Well, that's a postulate, and it's a pretty fantastic postulate — it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that's why it has come out so specially. Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It's very clear that there is evolution, and it's important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they're both consistent.

They don't have to negate each other, you're saying. God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion, But that's not what the Christian fundamentalists are arguing should be taught in Kansas.

People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they're saying, "Everything is made at once and then nothing can change." But there's no reason the universe can't allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that's a bad word to use in public, but it's just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it's very misleading.

That seems to come up when religion seeks to control or limit the scope of science. We're seeing that with the regulation of research into stem cells and cloning. Should there be areas of scientific inquiry that are off-limits due to a culture's prevailing religious principles?

My answer to that is, we should explore as much as we can. We should think about everything, try to explore everything, and question things. That's part of our human characteristic in nature that has made us so great and able to achieve so much. Of course there are problems if we do scientific experiments on people that involve killing them — that's a scientific experiment sure, but ethically it has problems. There are ethical issues with certain kinds of scientific experimentation. But outside of the ethical issues, I think we should try very hard to understand everything we can and to question things.

I think it's settling those ethical issues that's the problem. Who decides what differentiates a "person" from a collection of cells, for example?

That's very difficult. What is a person? We don't know. Where is this thing, me — where am I really in this body? Up here in the top of the head somewhere? What is personality? What is consciousness? We don't know. The same thing is true once the body is dead: where is this person? Is it still there? Has it gone somewhere else? If you don't know what it is, it's hard to say what it's doing next. We have to be open-minded about that. The best we can do is try to find ways of answering those questions.

You'll turn 90 on July 28. What's the secret to long life?

Good luck is one, but also just having a good time. Some people say I work hard: I come in on Saturdays, and I work evenings both at my desk and in the lab. But I think I'm just having a good time doing physics and science. I have three telescopes down on Mt. Wilson; I was down there a couple nights last week. I've traveled a lot. On Sundays, my wife [of 64 years] and I usually go hiking. I'd say the secret has been being able to do things that I like, and keeping active.

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'Faith is necessary for the scientist even to get started, and deep faith is necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks. Why? Because he must have confidence that there is order in the universe and that the human mind — in fact his own mind — has a good chance of understanding this order.'

-Charles Townes, writing in "The Convergence of Science and Religion," IBM's Think magazine, March-April 1966

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Who created us? U.S. vs. UC Berkeley beliefs

A Nov. 18-21, 2004 New York Times/CBS News poll on American mores and attitudes, conducted with 885 U.S. adults, showed that a significant number of Americans believe that God created humankind. UC Berkeley's Office of Student Research asked the same question on its 2005 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, results for which are still coming in. As of June 8, 2,057 students had responded.

CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE TABLE THAT SHOWS THE RESULT


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: charlestownes; evolution; fsmdidit; gagdad; id; intelligentdesign; templetonprize; townes
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To: ahayes
Many people with revelations not from the Judeo-Christian God have been quite sure it was God speaking to them

Actually, Christianity claims that all TRUE religious experience is within the scope of 1) Jesus Christ (recorded in the Bible) 2) the rest of the Bible (most of which is about Jesus, either preparatory or celebratory) and 3) general revelation in nature congruent with 1 and 2 above. Anything outside this triumvirate is willing self-deception, and a desire to satisfy the "image of God" element in men which instinctively worships, while in fact, fleeing from the true God.

Harsh, ain't it?

401 posted on 06/11/2007 9:39:30 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: ahayes; betty boop; hosepipe; .30Carbine; Dr. Eckleburg
You say that your revelation is the true revelation because you've felt it so deeply...

I didn't say that.

You're basing your opinion on what absolute truth is on a subjective experience not shared by most people.

As to objective Truth, it should be obvious to everyone that only God can reveal it, because only He is capable of speaking from the aspect outside of Creation, i.e. "all that there is."

If it were possible for me to "mind meld" with you and share the revelation that Jesus Christ is Lord, I would.

But God didn't make it that way, His choice of a family is rather selective. It is a straight path and narrow gate and few will find it.

Jesus Christ could have revealed Himself to everyone and ushered in the new heaven and earth some 2,000 years ago from our space/time coordinates. But that was not the plan from the beginning - First Cause, Final Cause, Alpha and Omega. There is a family to be gathered.

Look, God the Father has revealed Himself in four ways:

1. Through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. When you know Jesus, you know the Father.

2. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He leads us into all Truth.

3. Through Scriptures, His recorded words.

4. Through the Creation itself, both spiritual and physical.

If a person cannot receive any of these revelations, I cannot help him.

402 posted on 06/11/2007 9:48:00 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: ahayes; Alamo-Girl; DreamsofPolycarp; RightWhale; hosepipe
Likewise, my sister felt her experience was real, but I have no way of judging whether it was or not.

It seems to me that you are not looking for truth, but for certainty (verifiability), ahayes. Other than the certainty of our own mortal death, I don't know where you're going to find certainty in this world.

403 posted on 06/11/2007 9:49:33 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: DreamsofPolycarp

Again, “My truth is true because I say it’s true.”


404 posted on 06/11/2007 9:55:29 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: grey_whiskers; Alamo-Girl; ahayes; hosepipe
The scientist seizes upon a word originally made by the common poet and endeavors to restrict it to a single, definite meaning that shall be the same in every context.

LOL, if there be such a thing as a "common poet," can there be such a thing as a "common scientist?"

Surely you don't mean to suggest that poetry is now illegitimate, because it does not use the severly reduced language of science? That I should immediately stop reading T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Donne, Homer, Hesoid, Aeschylus, Euripides, et al.???

I get the distinction between poetic language and the language of science -- the latter of which usually ends up being translated into the language of mathematics anyway. Each is up to doing its job in the field it addresses. Do you mean to suggest that one is intrinsically "better" than the other -- in general?

If the difference boils down to the difference between savoir and connaitre, bear in mind that our English word connoisseur is based on the same root as the latter. A connoisseur is someone who possesses knowledge and awareness of a field that goes beyond mere technical competence.

Thanks for the excerpt from Dorothy L. Sayers, grey_whiskers, and also for writing!

405 posted on 06/11/2007 10:04:35 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: Alamo-Girl
I didn't say that.

You've described it as powerful and personal.

As to objective Truth, it should be obvious to everyone that only God can reveal it, because only He is capable of speaking from the aspect outside of Creation, i.e. "all that there is."

Apparently he's chosen not to reveal himself to a heck of a lot of people while they've received revelations of other Gods.

My point is there's no way of qualitatively distinguishing a Christian divine revelation from any other religion's experiences.

406 posted on 06/11/2007 10:04:59 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop
It seems to me that you are not looking for truth, but for certainty (verifiability), ahayes. Other than the certainty of our own mortal death, I don't know where you're going to find certainty in this world.

I question the utility of divine revelation as a standard for ultimate truth, then, since it is so barely attainable and even then unverifiable.

407 posted on 06/11/2007 10:06:16 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: ahayes; Alamo-Girl
I question the utility of divine revelation as a standard for ultimate truth, then, since it is so barely attainable and even then unverifiable.

Then in all probability, you will not find ultimate truth. Alamo-Girl has suggested (if you were listening closely) that truth is something that finds one (for God is truth), not the other way around. But if you've got your mind closed to God, then that door is shut.

408 posted on 06/11/2007 10:10:50 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: betty boop

Well I guess that serves me just right, then.

I could have sworn I was a true Christian for more than 20 years, I guess I was mistaken. *roll eyes*


409 posted on 06/11/2007 10:15:18 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop; ahayes; DreamsofPolycarp; RightWhale; hosepipe
Other than the certainty of our own mortal death, I don't know where you're going to find certainty in this world.

It appears our correspondent would like to put God under a microscope or observe Him with a telescope - or have His words subjected to authentication by scientific methods.

God authenticates Himself. The creature cannot authenticate the Creator.

410 posted on 06/11/2007 10:17:12 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: DreamsofPolycarp; Alamo-Girl; ahayes; hosepipe
Without a whole gaggle of philosophical assumptions about the universe, the scientist cannot make a statement more comprehensive than "I think this just happened."

Great observation, DreamsofPolycarp! Oh, so true....

The very first philosophical assumption a scientist makes is the the universe is intelligible, and therefore is completely, exhaustively knowable by man. Another is the assumption of the universal validity of physical laws. A third very common philosophical assumption is that the universe is made of "building blocks" called matter, and nothing else (i.e., the philosophical doctrine of materialism).

Not one of these assumptions is based on direct observation and experiment.

Scientists "do philosophy" every day, just to do their jobs! They just seem not to realize it....

411 posted on 06/11/2007 10:18:37 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: ahayes
I could have sworn I was a true Christian for more than 20 years,

true Christians get confused, don't they? [grin]

412 posted on 06/11/2007 10:19:00 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: Alamo-Girl

So you accept something as the ultimate standard for truth which you admit you cannot verify and expect others to respect that? That’s the definition of gullibility.


413 posted on 06/11/2007 10:20:02 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: DreamsofPolycarp

Don’t worry, I sorted it out in the end. Maybe you will too.


414 posted on 06/11/2007 10:20:35 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop
LOLOL! What a beautiful post! Thank you!

BTW, I do believe mathematics is the best "language" for science because it is highly portable from generation to generation, application to application, culture to culture, etc.

But what a loss it would be not to have all the other languages and word concepts.

415 posted on 06/11/2007 10:20:38 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; ahayes
It appears our correspondent would like to put God under a microscope or observe Him with a telescope - or have His words subjected to authentication by scientific methods.

Looks that way, Alamo-Girl. But it ain't gonna happen: God is not an "object" that can be studied by science at all. Science's mission is with the physical world. God is not a datum of the physical world.

416 posted on 06/11/2007 10:24:18 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: ahayes; betty boop; hosepipe; .30Carbine; Dr. Eckleburg; cornelis
Apparently he's chosen not to reveal himself to a heck of a lot of people while they've received revelations of other Gods.

With the following correction, yes:

Apparently He's chosen not to reveal Himself to a heck of a lot of people while they've received revelations of other "gods."


417 posted on 06/11/2007 10:25:47 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop

If I were you I would be a bit concerned to have to admit my divine revelation cannot be qualitatively distinguished from a psychotic episode or drug-induced hallucination.


418 posted on 06/11/2007 10:26:23 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: Alamo-Girl

Once again, what criteria do you use to determine your God is “God” and their God is “god”? You have none!


419 posted on 06/11/2007 10:27:05 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop; ahayes; Dr. Eckleburg; .30Carbine; hosepipe
Alamo-Girl has suggested (if you were listening closely) that truth is something that finds one (for God is truth), not the other way around.

Precisely so.

420 posted on 06/11/2007 10:28:20 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
The very first philosophical assumption a scientist makes is the the universe is intelligible, and therefore is completely, exhaustively knowable by man. Another is the assumption of the universal validity of physical laws. A third very common philosophical assumption is that the universe is made of "building blocks" called matter, and nothing else (i.e., the philosophical doctrine of materialism).

Not one of these assumptions is based on direct observation and experiment.

Scientists "do philosophy" every day, just to do their jobs! They just seem not to realize it....

Excellent. Deserved repeating.

421 posted on 06/11/2007 10:30:48 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; grey_whiskers; ahayes
But what a loss it would be not to have all the other languages and word concepts.

Indeed, my dearest sister in Christ! Scientific language cannot evoke matters pertaining to the spirit. That's the baileywick of poetry, belles lettres, myth....

422 posted on 06/11/2007 10:31:33 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: ahayes; Alamo-Girl
If I were you I would be a bit concerned to have to admit my divine revelation cannot be qualitatively distinguished from a psychotic episode or drug-induced hallucination.

Actually ahayes, it is possible for one to distinguish the difference at the very same time it is happening to one. The Presence is unmistakable (and absolutely unforgettable). The problem is, like "qualia," the experience cannot be directly shared with any other person, let alone be validated by the scientific method.

423 posted on 06/11/2007 10:36:13 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: betty boop

Once again, how do you determine that your religious experience is true and my sister’s religious experience is false? There are multiple contradictory divine revelations out there and they all have their proponents saying their experience is unmistakable and unforgettable.


424 posted on 06/11/2007 10:38:52 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop
Actually ahayes, it is possible for one to distinguish the difference at the very same time it is happening to one.

This means, I presume, that you've had hallucinations that were not divine revelations. Perhaps you could write a book about how to distinguish them. You could also explain how people who have not shared your "qualia," how to distinguish between others who've had divine revelations from those who have had hallucinations.

425 posted on 06/11/2007 10:41:11 AM PDT by js1138
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To: ahayes
Many people with revelations not from the Judeo-Christian God have been quite sure it was God speaking to them.

We have a conundrum here. The Bible says they are deliberately believing lies, and have a nature predisposed to do so. They say they are sincere truth seekers. I take it you accept the testimony of the people over the Book?

426 posted on 06/11/2007 10:44:03 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: ahayes; betty boop; hosepipe; Dr. Eckleburg; .30Carbine; DreamsofPolycarp
So you accept something as the ultimate standard for truth which you admit you cannot verify and expect others to respect that? That’s the definition of gullibility.

LOLOL!

Gullibility is a suspension of reality, like watching a television show and forgetting about the cameramen, directors and such. The gullible one forgets it is not "real" and becomes obsessed with the actors, believing that the person is or is like the role he plays.

Of the four revelations of God the Father (Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Scriptures, Creation - spiritual and physical) --- taking 1/8th of it, the physical Creation, and using that as the measure of, or in lieu of, the whole ... well, er, that is gullible in my book.

427 posted on 06/11/2007 10:45:40 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: DreamsofPolycarp

In general, yes, but if you like I can oblige and believe you to be deliberately believing lies.


428 posted on 06/11/2007 10:46:08 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop
God is not a datum of the physical world.

Indeed, dearest sister in Christ!

429 posted on 06/11/2007 10:47:27 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl

There are other religions that have their own holy Scriptures, and all religions have the universe. There is nothing about your religious experience that you can point to and say is demonstrably unique.


430 posted on 06/11/2007 10:48:02 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: DreamsofPolycarp
We have a conundrum here. The Bible says they are deliberately believing lies, and have a nature predisposed to do so.

A rhetorical tactic worthy of Big Brother.

431 posted on 06/11/2007 10:49:21 AM PDT by js1138
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To: js1138

Christianity can be remarkably convenient. People do not believe Christianity is true because they want to believe in lies. People who leave Christianity left because they were never true Christians(TM) in the first place.


432 posted on 06/11/2007 10:51:32 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: ahayes; betty boop; .30Carbine; Dr. Eckleburg; hosepipe
As betty boop has already pointed out, revelations are like qualia (pain/pleasure, love/hate) - they can be experienced but they cannot be conveyed to anyone else.

The proof exists. God lives. But the only way you'll know Him, is He gives it to you to experience that first divine revelation, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Shutting your eyes, holding your hands over your ears, stomping the ground, gritting your teeth and saying to yourself over and over again that Jesus Christ is Lord is not a divine revelation.

433 posted on 06/11/2007 10:53:07 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138; Alamo-Girl; ahayes; hosepipe
This means, I presume, that you've had hallucinations that were not divine revelations. Perhaps you could write a book about how to distinguish them.

Actually I don't recall ever having had a hallucination. I did work a couple of summers as a nursing attendent at a state psychiatric hospital during my college years, and witnessed quite a few hallucinatory experiences by others. Though this hardly makes me an expert of hallucinatory experiences, it was clear how dark, and troubling, and frightening these experiences were for the patients who had them. No God there! No light, no love, no light -- just darkness, horror, and total isolation of the self....

434 posted on 06/11/2007 10:53:21 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: js1138
The problem with your post (which is quite good although you might be surprised to know you are neither the first person to raise it, nor have skeptics been the only ones to wrestle with it), is that it puts the onus of distinguishing on the human mind and reason. This simply will not work for two reasons: 1) We are sinful and fallen and do not wish to believe face the implications of biblical truth. Our emotions trump our intellect every time. It is far better to believe lies than to stand morally naked and filthy before a holy God. Men will do ANYTHING mentally possible (and impossible) to escape those implications.

2) Revelation of the infinite to the finite by definition has to run one way. God is "responsible" not only for the revelation itself, but for the "certificate of authenticity" if you will. Reception of these are by definition subjectively received, and not available for public display or scrutiny.

If you read that and don't have REAL problems with it, you either didn't pay attention, or you have biblical faith. The biblical message is simply that God's revelation is self authenticating, AND that the authentication is predicated (in some measure) on a receptive heart. That is not to say that there is not tons of really good supporting evidence from history, logic, observation of men, and other things. It is just saying that when all the clutter is out of the room, those willing to know the truth will "get it."

435 posted on 06/11/2007 10:55:28 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: ahayes; Alamo-Girl
There are other religions that have their own holy Scriptures, and all religions have the universe. There is nothing about your religious experience that you can point to and say is demonstrably unique.

Jeepers ahayes, didn't you just tell me a few moments ago that you've been a Christian for 20 years? And yet I gather you find Christianity indistinguishable from the other religions? These remarks do not square with each other. FWIW

436 posted on 06/11/2007 10:58:01 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein)
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To: ahayes; betty boop; hosepipe; .30Carbine; Dr. Eckleburg
There are other religions that have their own holy Scriptures, and all religions have the universe. There is nothing about your religious experience that you can point to and say is demonstrably unique.

Your objections to God's ways don't improve with repetition.

Of course it is demonstrably unique - the power of God - as I have mentioned before.

But I cannot demonstrate it to your satisfaction, because you have not received - or perhaps, have rejected - the divine revelation that Jesus Christ is Lord.

But to my brothers and sisters in Christ, some of whom I am pinging to this post, it is only obvious! We share in the same Spirit. We are dead and yet alive with Christ in God. We have the mind of Christ. We are different.

437 posted on 06/11/2007 11:01:46 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
Actually I don’t recall ever having had a hallucination.

It is interesting that Tim Leary’s defense for using “hallucinogenic drugs (LSD) “ was that LSD was not “hallucinogenic” at all, but rather “psychedelic.” His argument was that he was not “seeing things that are not there” but rather experiencing a level of reality that is truly “there” and observable to those under the influence of mind altering drugs and in meditative trances. He was, in fact, challenging the epistemological basis of western culture. His challenge was brilliant, I thought. The response of the Dept of Justice COULD have been that this is a society founded on the prepositional basis that God created a knowable universe, accurately observable without drugs or mind altering techniques, and that “other realms” are in fact “witchcraft” (pharamakeia is the GK word for witchcraft) and thus forbidden. That would have pissed off an entire intelligentsia and launched a wave of ignorant mockery, so they just did what you expect law enforcement to do and locked him up without responding.

438 posted on 06/11/2007 11:04:14 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: Alamo-Girl
Your objections to God's ways don't improve with repetition.

Your inability to defend your religion as uniquely true does not improve with repetition!

Of course it is demonstrably unique - the power of God - as I have mentioned before.

Others have experienced the power of a different God. You are no more able to declare their experience as invalid than they are to declare yours invalid.

It boils down to a person's individual faith. Unfortunately this renders a person's choice to declare their religion as leading to ultimate truth pretty meaningless. When there's not much to choose between different religions and all claim to have the Truth(TM) but are unable to show why their truth is better than someone else's, it makes it all seem rather pointless.

My truth is that the Judeo-Christian God does not exist, based upon his character as depicted in the Bible. The only way I have been challenged on this is by being told I am seeking to believe a lie (for what possible reason?), told I am close-minded (no, if I were close-minded I wouldn't have changed my mind!), and that I was never really Christian in the first place (I was).

439 posted on 06/11/2007 11:17:08 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop
Jeepers ahayes, didn't you just tell me a few moments ago that you've been a Christian for 20 years?

Yes, before I decided it was a man-made religion.

These remarks do not square with each other.

The "was" was past tense. I haven't believed in God for going on two years.

440 posted on 06/11/2007 11:18:44 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: betty boop

I have worked in nursing homes for many years, and have seen many people having hallucinations, very often a result of a reaction to a drug, or a problem with getting the right dosage of the drug...some of those halluciations were as you describe, dark, and troubling and frightening...but that was not the only type of hallucination that I witnessed...I witnessed hallucinations where the residents was happy, and joyous, and actually believed that they were in the company of loved ones that had passed on...it was only when that they came out of the hallucination, that they were sad, and troubled, and frightened...

Hallucinations run the gamut...it is not at all true that hallucinations are necessarily as you have described them, as being dark and troubling and frightening...

I took care of my own mom for many years at home, with Alzheimers...in the late stage of her disease, she was also prone to hallucinations...some were quite troubling, as when she thought robbers had burst into the house, and were trying to rob her...yet she had hallucinations which gave her seemingly great joy, such as when she thought she was fishing with my dad at the Mississippi River, and we kids were just little kids running around and having a swell time...in truth, my dad had died, my brother had died, and I was all grown up...but to mom, in her hallucination, all was well, dad and my brother were stil alive, and I was still a little girl...you could hear her talking in bed, in her room, talking and laughing and seemingly having a swell time with her hallucination...

It was only when she came out of it, that she realized that dad was gone, my brother was gone, I was grown up, and she was ill and bedridden...

So not all hallucinations are as you describe them..perhaps given that those people you spoke of, were already in a psychiatric hospital, and therefore obviously already had grave mental problems, is the reason why their hallucinations were so grim...

I am sure, just as in real life, hallucinations run the gamut from delightful to horrid...


441 posted on 06/11/2007 11:20:39 AM PDT by andysandmikesmom
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To: ahayes

You are seeking an objective display of a subjective confirmation. By definition that is an absurdity. Start asking for a square circle instead.


442 posted on 06/11/2007 11:35:12 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: DreamsofPolycarp; ahayes
WHOOPS! should read: You are seeking an objective display of a subjective EXPERIENCE. The confirmation is objective. The experience of it is subjective.

Note to self: Enroll in coherency class before instructing others to square their circles.

443 posted on 06/11/2007 11:38:08 AM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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To: ahayes; betty boop; .30Carbine; Dr. Eckleburg; hosepipe; cornelis
I do not know what God has in store for you – or whether you ever experienced that first divine revelation that Jesus Christ is Lord or whether you experienced it and then either quenched the Spirit, forgot, became distracted by the world or flat-out rejected the blood the Christ.

That is between you and Him. But you are in my earnest prayers.

Notwithstanding all of that however, as an obviously intelligent person you should realize that God cannot be subjected to the scientific method, logic or any other such analytical tool known to man.

To do so is to anthropomorphize God - to create a small "god" the mortal mind can obtain. A lot of people have done exactly that over the years - and among them were some theologians, sad to say.

God is not a hypothetical. He is. That has been our theme throughout this sidebar.

Consider this: every measure that we use to judge another person will be used in judging us and we will be found guilty. (Matt 7, Romans 2) Judging God is even more perilous. (Job 38-42)

444 posted on 06/11/2007 11:40:03 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
Though this hardly makes me an expert of hallucinatory experiences, it was clear how dark, and troubling, and frightening these experiences were for the patients who had them.

Perhaps this is why these people were hospitalized. But I know people, some very closely, who have hallucinations that do not require hospitalization. One such person accepts them in the same way you might accept seeing spots due to a medical condition. Another person has spent hours arguing that his reality is true, and I am missing out on it.

There are several large offshoots of Christianity in this country based on revelations. I'm curious what you make of them and why.

445 posted on 06/11/2007 11:43:43 AM PDT by js1138
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To: DreamsofPolycarp
God's revelation is self authenticating...

Then the part that is authenticated is not the part that conflicts with reality.

At the risk of oversimplifying, I see two kinds of believers: those who think the message of God is to love others as we love ourselves, and those who enjoy threatening others with hellfire if they deviate from doctrine. And of course, the threateners have the one true doctrine.

446 posted on 06/11/2007 11:48:24 AM PDT by js1138
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To: DreamsofPolycarp

Exactly. This is a subjective experience and cannot be proven to be true or false. That makes it just a bit arrogant (funny, from reading your past posts I would have thought you would object to rank arrogance such as you’ve shown) to say that other people experience other revelations because they are seeking lies and utterly corrupt. You can’t even provide a reason why we should accept your experience as true, yet you insult others with experiences that are equally grounded.


447 posted on 06/11/2007 11:53:54 AM PDT by ahayes ("Impenetrability! That's what I say!")
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To: ahayes; DreamsofPolycarp; RightWhale; omnivore
DreamsofPolycarp has already said in so many words that you, aheyes, are in no better position than anyone else--religious or not. The question you've put about competing claims is not resolved by getting rid of religion. I said the same to omnivore earlier. A jackboot solution isn't a solution. Both you and I need something to decide among competing claims--where choices really matter--and whatever we decide, I think it is a bad policy to amputate a part of the universe in order to make it sensible.
448 posted on 06/11/2007 11:54:45 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: Alamo-Girl
Notwithstanding all of that however, as an obviously intelligent person you should realize that God cannot be subjected to the scientific method, logic or any other such analytical tool known to man.

It is good to hear this from you. Now as soon as theists in general quit pretending that they can find God in the laboratory, the better off will be both science and religion.

449 posted on 06/11/2007 11:57:11 AM PDT by js1138
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To: js1138
Then the part that is authenticated is not the part that conflicts with reality.

Of course not. But then one would have to define "part(s) that are authenticated" and "conflicts with reality." I believe that God, who is that author of all reality, cannot make or speak something which conflicts with that, because "God is truth, and in him is no darkness...."

At the risk of oversimplifying, I see two kinds of believers: those who think the message of God is to love others as we love ourselves, and those who enjoy threatening others with hellfire if they deviate from doctrine. And of course, the threateners have the one true doctrine.

There is a lot of truth in that. I prefer to let God threaten with hellfire (and He does). I try to remind the threateners (and myself) that GOD, not me, has the "true doctrine." I believe in propositional truth in a book, but as I have grown older, I am convinced that there are fewer things I know with certainty, and yet those things I do know are the core and most important.

The definition of loving truth is hating lies. I believe in a God who is love, but not love which is God. In other words, God is a God of justice, truth, righteousness, and is committed to drive evil completely out of His presence. He began that by suffering the penalty for it (If you could wrap hell up into a pill, then Christ swallowed that pill on the cross). The rest is mopping up (no matter how excruciating that "mopping up" appears to us) and will result in a great division of creation between those who say "thy will be done" and "my will be done." May we both be on the right side of that divide on that happy and awful day.

450 posted on 06/11/2007 12:03:55 PM PDT by DreamsofPolycarp (Libertarianism: u can run your life better than government can, and should be left alone to do it)
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