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From Atheist to Catholic (‘Unshakable’ Rationalist Blogged Her Way Into the Church)
NCR ^ | March 16, 2009 | Nona Aguilar

Posted on 03/16/2009 1:24:55 PM PDT by NYer

‘Unshakable’ Rationalist Blogged Her Way Into the Church

Jennifer Fulwiler “always thought it was obvious that God did not exist.”

Fulwiler grew up a content atheist. Having a profound respect for knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge, Fulwiler was convinced that religion and reason were incompatible. Not surprisingly, she was also emphatically anti-Christian and, especially, anti-Catholic. “Catholic beliefs seemed bizarre and weird,” she says.

Fulwiler would have been astonished to know that she and Joe Fulwiler, her husband, would come to embrace those “bizarre,” “weird” beliefs. On Easter 2007, they entered the Catholic Church with deep joy and a sense of coming home — and a blog aided their conversion.

Register correspondent Nona Aguilar spoke to Jennifer Fulwiler about the couple’s unexpected journey.

There is always a first step that leads to belief in God. What was yours?

Thanks to meeting and knowing my husband, I learned that belief in God is not fundamentally unreasonable. We met at the high-tech company where we both worked. Joe believed in God — something that, fortunately, I didn’t know for a while.

Why was that fortunate?

To me, belief in God was so unreasonable that, by definition, no reasonable person could believe in such a thing. I felt I could never be compatible with someone that unreasonable. Had I known that Joe believed in God, I would never have dated him.

What was your reaction when you found out?

It gave me pause. Joe is too smart — brilliant, really, with degrees from Yale, Columbia and Stanford — to believe in something nonsensical. I also met many of his friends. They, too, are highly intelligent — some with M.D.s and Ph.D.s from schools like Harvard and Princeton — and believed.

None of this made me believe in God, of course, but I could no longer say that only unreasonable or unintelligent people believe.

What caused you to consider the question more seriously?

I have always been a truth-seeker, which is why I was an atheist. But I had a prideful, arrogant way of approaching questions about life and meaning. I now realize that pride is the most effective way to block out God so that one doesn’t see him at all. Certainly, I didn’t.

The birth of our first child motivated me to seek the truth with humility. I can’t emphasize this point enough: Humility, true humility, is crucial to the conversion process.

Most atheists are unchanged after their children’s births. Why were you so affected?

First, I had already begun thinking about the possibility of God’s existence. After our son’s birth, I wanted to know the truth about life’s great questions — for his sake. For the first time, I was motivated to seek truth with true humility. For example, I began reading, studying, and thinking about the great minds. Most, if not the majority, believed in some other world, some higher power, a god or gods — something. Even the great pre-Christian thinkers like Plato, Aristotle and Socrates believed.

Another avenue of exploration: I always revered the great scientists, including the founders of the significant branches of science. Very few were atheists. Indeed, some of the greatest were profoundly believing Christians.


It could be argued this was because they were steeped in the Christian culture and beliefs of their times.

That ignores a larger question I began asking myself: Is it really likely that great minds like Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Descartes and others didn’t know how to ask tough questions? Do these people seem to be men who didn’t know how to question assumptions and fearlessly seek truth? Of course not.

Was your husband a help in this process?

Eventually, but not at first. Religion wasn’t something we talked about. Joe was a non-churchgoing Baptist, which was fine by me. In fact, since I was an atheist, I considered not talking about God to be a good compromise. Our lives were completely secular — just like our wedding.

No church wedding?

Definitely not! I wore a purple dress; we married in a theater with a friend officiating, using vows we wrote ourselves. The ceremony took seven minutes, then we all partied all night long. In fact, we didn’t even technically get married at our wedding: We did that at city hall a few days before.

Was there ever an aha moment that finally made you abandon atheism?

Several, but one in particular actually shocked me.

I asked myself two questions: What is information? And: Can information ever come from a non-intelligent source?

It was a shocking moment for me because I had to confront the fact that DNA is information. If I remained an atheist, I would have to believe that all the intricate, detailed, complex information contained in DNA comes out of nowhere and nothing.

But I also knew that idea did not make sense. After all, I don’t look at billboards — which contain much simpler information than DNA — and think that wind and erosion created them. That wouldn’t be rational. Suddenly, I found that I was a very discomfited atheist.

Is that the point at which you began to believe in God?

No. But now I was a reluctant atheist. I had lots of questions but knew no one who might have answers: I had always consciously, deliberately distanced myself from believers. So, coming from the high-tech world, where did I go for answers? I put up a blog, of course! I started posting tough questions on my blog.

One matter stood out from the beginning: The best, most thoughtful responses came from Catholics. Incidentally, their answers were consistently better than the ones from atheists. It intrigued me that Catholics could handle anything I threw at them. Also, their responses reflected such an eminently reasonable worldview that I kept asking myself: How is it that Catholics have so much of this all figured out?

Was your husband helpful to you at this point?

As I started telling Joe some of the answers that I was getting, especially from Catholics, his own interest in religion — and Catholicism — was piqued. We have always been a great team, so it was wonderful that we were exploring these issues and questions together, especially since we were so anti-Catholic.

Both of you?

Yes. I thought the Church’s views on most things, but especially marriage, contraception and abortion (since I was then ardently pro-choice), were simply crazy. Joe’s anti-Catholicism, while different, was stronger and more settled. He didn’t understand any Catholic doctrine or apologetics, so he fell into a stereotyped view of Catholics, thinking that they made idols of the pope and Mary, etc. Also, it never really occurred to him to take seriously the idea that Jesus founded one Church. He just assumed the way to pick a church is to find one that fits your personality.

Your conversion has impacted your daily life. What change, in particular, stands out in your mind?

Community! There is nothing like it in atheism. I never understood what people meant by members of the Church being part of the body of Christ, but now I really get it. By being part of the one, holy Catholic Church, there is a palpable connection I now have with other Catholics, even people I don’t know. It’s been amazing to experience that connection and community.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Skeptics/Seekers
KEYWORDS: atheism; atheist; catholic; conversions; quidestveritas
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1 posted on 03/16/2009 1:24:55 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
To me, belief in God was so unreasonable that, by definition, no reasonable person could believe in such a thing.

For us it is just the opposite.

2 posted on 03/16/2009 1:26:12 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: NYer
The best, most thoughtful responses came from Catholics. Incidentally, their answers were consistently better than the ones from atheists. It intrigued me that Catholics could handle anything I threw at them. Also, their responses reflected such an eminently reasonable worldview that I kept asking myself: How is it that Catholics have so much of this all figured out?

Ha ha. Welcome home.

3 posted on 03/16/2009 1:30:59 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: NYer

Good for her, and God bless.

SnakeDoc


4 posted on 03/16/2009 1:31:36 PM PDT by SnakeDoctor (Jack Bauer -- Sarah Palin, 2012)
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To: NYer

Anyone have a site on conversions that involved some aspect of internet communication, blogging, evangelization going on online, etc.?


5 posted on 03/16/2009 1:32:44 PM PDT by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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To: betty boop
Was there ever an aha moment that finally made you abandon atheism?... Several, but one in particular actually shocked me. I asked myself two questions: What is information? And: Can information ever come from a non-intelligent source? It was a shocking moment for me because I had to confront the fact that DNA is information.

Sound familiar?

6 posted on 03/16/2009 1:33:28 PM PDT by marron
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To: NYer

Agreed.
I actually am reading two books that touch on this theme.

One is “A Grain of Wheat”, a collection by theologian Hans Urs von Baltahsar that contains a large selection of short aphorisms. Given to me by and strongly recommend by an eminent Catholic thinker and priest.

The second is “The Risk of Education”, by Luigi Giussani. Given to me by and strongly recommend by an eminent Catholic thinker and layman.

(Msgr. Luigi Giussani was the founder of the ecclesial movement of Communion and Liberation. At his funeral in February of this year, both John Paul II and then-Cardinal Ratzinger noted how deeply Giussani’s life revolved around education, and indeed much of his life and work can be summarized as a sort of pedagogical method, one that has been having a significant impact on Catholic education at all levels throughout the world. Much of that method is synthesized in Giussani’s small book, THE RISK OF EDUCATION.)


7 posted on 03/16/2009 1:36:51 PM PDT by Notwithstanding (OneBigAssMistakeAmerica)
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To: NYer

“Information” is the fly in the ointment that renders evolutionism untenable!


8 posted on 03/16/2009 1:45:14 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware of socialism in America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: NYer
I wonder if she was really an atheist? I've come to believe that true atheism is rather uncommon and that many people who call themselves "atheists", are in fact, just obdurate agnostics for whom the bar is set rather high when it comes to evidence required for God's existence.

Despite her skepticism, she still possessed a certain openness and honesty and this is usually absent in atheists. Atheism is like a religion in itself. It is not just unbelief. It is a positive faith in the nonexistence of God.

Anyway, what does it really matter? She's found faith and God bless her on her continued journey toward the Promised Land.

9 posted on 03/16/2009 1:50:18 PM PDT by marshmallow
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To: NYer
It was a shocking moment for me because I had to confront the fact that DNA is information. If I remained an atheist, I would have to believe that all the intricate, detailed, complex information contained in DNA comes out of nowhere and nothing.

But I also knew that idea did not make sense. After all, I don’t look at billboards — which contain much simpler information than DNA — and think that wind and erosion created them. That wouldn’t be rational. Suddenly, I found that I was a very discomfited atheist.

This was essentially the same intellectual path that I followed on my way back. The idea that DNA was created by the random action of weather and radiation upon dirty water just seems ludicrous to me. If that's what the data suggest, then we're obviously interpreting the data incorrectly.

I mean, imagine if a team of astronauts found a functioning digital calculator buried in a million-year-old stratum of the surface of Mars. Would they conclude the calculator was designed by some intelligent creature, or that the calculator was created accidentally by the effect of billions of years of weathering upon Martian stone? Would they try to find more finished artifacts, or would they start looking for fossil electronic devices demonstrating a gradual progression of calculator ancestors beginning with the first primitive transistors created by chance from the non-living minerals of Mars?

Of course not. The calculator in all its complexity and purposeful design would be seen rightly as incontestable evidence of the presence of intelligent life on Mars.

And yet a single biological cell is fantastically complex -- much more complex than any calculator...

10 posted on 03/16/2009 2:02:45 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: marron
Is it really likely that great minds like Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Descartes and others didn’t know how to ask tough questions? Do these people seem to be men who didn’t know how to question assumptions and fearlessly seek truth? Of course not.

"Sound familiar???" Yes indeed, dear marron. Still, I've never been an atheist in my life. So it wasn't a condition that I had to "outgrow." I started out "religious," from the tot stage forward. No religious view was then formed by any particular religious training/indoctrination. [Which I never had, BTW, after preparation for First Communion.] It just was, based on my observation of the splendor and order and beauty of Nature. It was all so magnificent, to my child's mind, that God HAD to be "behind it."

Then, the longer I lived and studied, I more I found out that my original "instinct" or intuition was absolutely correct.

BTW, I do agree with Mrs. Fulwiler's observation that Catholics are particularly good at formulating "answers [that] were consistently better than the ones from atheists. It intrigued me that Catholics could handle anything I threw at them. Also, their responses reflected such an eminently reasonable worldview that I kept asking myself: How is it that Catholics have so much of this all figured out?"

Thank you ever so much for writing!

11 posted on 03/16/2009 2:03:59 PM PDT by betty boop (Folly is a mental disease, and of folly there are two kinds, madness and stupidity. — Plato)
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To: NYer

God bless her and her husband.

God is indeed great when the eyes of such an staunch atheist can be opened.

From one Catholic convert to another - welcome home.


12 posted on 03/16/2009 2:18:50 PM PDT by Brytani (Obama's Hope and Change - Hope for terrorists and Change left in our wallets)
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To: ImaGraftedBranch

Ping of interest. Of particular note is the bit about DNA.


13 posted on 03/16/2009 2:19:20 PM PDT by Ultra Sonic 007 (To view the FR@Alabama ping list, click on my profile!)
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To: HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
Anyone have a site on conversions that involved some aspect of internet communication, blogging, evangelization going on online, etc.?

You will find several here.

14 posted on 03/16/2009 4:05:13 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: Notwithstanding
What an interesting collection of books! Hope you will have the opportunity to post your impressios at some point in time.

I am currently reading The Story of a Soul - the autobiography of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. It is not at all what I expected.

15 posted on 03/16/2009 4:09:54 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: betty boop
I asked myself two questions: What is information? And: Can information ever come from a non-intelligent source? It was a shocking moment for me because I had to confront the fact that DNA is information.

This was the part I thought might sound familiar to you.

16 posted on 03/16/2009 4:45:51 PM PDT by marron
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To: LiteKeeper

Creation is considered a completed act of God. However we are not God and don’t live in God’s time. We are living inside the creation and view it while it’s unfolding. Hence the human view is one of the evolution of the world. That DNA evolved is not the question. It’s WHY it was created in the first place.


17 posted on 03/16/2009 4:46:31 PM PDT by Varda
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To: betty boop
It just was, based on my observation of the splendor and order and beauty of Nature. It was all so magnificent, to my child's mind, that God HAD to be "behind it." Then, the longer I lived and studied, I more I found out that my original "instinct" or intuition was absolutely correct.

Beautifully said.

18 posted on 03/16/2009 4:47:18 PM PDT by marron
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To: B-Chan
I mean, imagine if a team of astronauts found a functioning digital calculator buried in a million-year-old stratum of the surface of Mars. Would they conclude the calculator was designed by some intelligent creature, or that the calculator was created accidentally by the effect of billions of years of weathering upon Martian stone? Would they try to find more finished artifacts, or would they start looking for fossil electronic devices demonstrating a gradual progression of calculator ancestors beginning with the first primitive transistors created by chance from the non-living minerals of Mars?

Just like the billboard description in the article above, there's a huge difference between a macroscopic object and a microscopic one. For starters, the latter is affected by far more number of fundamental forces, than the latter.

When you take two baseball-sized objects, the forces beween them would be negligible. When you take two atoms, you will have to take into account electic, perfect-elastic, nuclear, etc. forces between them. The entire game-plan changes in the microscopic world.

To that, add the billions of years, trillions of interactions each day of each year, additive, gradual processes, polymers like proteins that fold, and allow additions to their branches, etc., the entire situation differs from a "wind eroding a rock into a calculator" scenario.

Just because one can't comprehend these processes and to give up and declare that a god entity, or several such entities must have been involved in the design, gives a hint that the person might really have not been an atheist, in the first place.

Only deep, personal, divine intervention can ever convert a real atheist.

19 posted on 03/16/2009 4:55:23 PM PDT by MyTwoCopperCoins (I don't have a license to kill; I have a learner's permit.)
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To: LiteKeeper
“Information” is the fly in the ointment that renders evolutionism untenable!

No, its what drives evolution. Diesel engines evolve; they evolve according to a plan. All it takes for a diesel engine to evolve from a lump of iron ore is heat and pressure and thousands of manhours of engineering. Older models give way to better models over time and again, all it takes is iron ore, heat, pressure, and thousands more manhours of engineering.

Anyhow, thats how I see it...

20 posted on 03/16/2009 5:02:28 PM PDT by marron
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To: betty boop
It intrigued me that Catholics could handle anything I threw at them. Also, their responses reflected such an eminently reasonable worldview that I kept asking myself: How is it that Catholics have so much of this all figured out?"

This is precisely why I reverted back to the Catholicism of my youth once I determined the Bible was insufficient to provide the guidance zealous evangelicals claimed for it.

21 posted on 03/16/2009 5:04:08 PM PDT by papertyger
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To: marron

Do you understand the role of “information” in your scenario?


22 posted on 03/16/2009 5:05:24 PM PDT by LiteKeeper (Beware of socialism in America; the Islamization of Eurabia)
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To: NYer

**Joe’s anti-Catholicism, while different, was stronger and more settled. He didn’t understand any Catholic doctrine or apologetics, so he fell into a stereotyped view of Catholics, thinking that they made idols of the pope and Mary, etc. Also, it never really occurred to him to take seriously the idea that Jesus founded one Church. He just assumed the way to pick a church is to find one that fits your personality.**

I think many Protestants think this way.


23 posted on 03/16/2009 5:18:34 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: marron

I just finished “Come Be My Light” by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Am starting “The Seal” 9of Confession) by Father Tim Mockaitis about his confrontation with the State of Oregon and having a Confession taped. They wanted to use it as evidence. Didn’t happen as far as I have gotten.


24 posted on 03/16/2009 5:25:14 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: marron

BTW, the penitent was a death row inmate in the Oregon Penn.


25 posted on 03/16/2009 5:25:59 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: LiteKeeper

I see information on two levels. One is the transfer of information within an organism, like a control system. When the transfer of information stops, the organism is dead. That could include the transfer of information by which its life systems control themselves, and communicate among themselves, and then information coming to the organism, by which means it finds its food, and adapts to a changing environment.

Another level of information is the plan or intelligence by which the organism was developed in the first place.

Neither of these two kinds of information can be separated from the organism, and neither can be purely mechanical or material even though information is transmitted by material means, its content is not material.

The holy grail for programmers is a program that can modify itself. I sometimes think that if an evolutionist saw such a program he would imagine that there was no programmer behind it, whereas I would look at it and marvel at the talent who wrote it.

At the heart of creation I imagine a beautifully elegant formula that over time brings what we see into existence. That God is the author of that principle or formula, and that creation continues and we play a role in it. I’m not a deist; I believe every thing we do and everything we experience is shot through with God’s presence and bears his thumbprint. When God spoke life into existence I envision an injection of intelligence into a material universe, or perhaps present from the first moment, maybe inseparable from it. On a small and narrow scale we do it all the time, injecting intelligence into the material. God does it on a grand scale. Our projects have to unfold rather quickly; God’s can go fast or very very slow, depending.

What evolutionists describe as evolution is an apparent transition from one level of complexity to the next. I look at the apparent transitions and I see intelligence driving it. I look at the cells that make up any living organism and I see a tiny organic machine with moving parts, on-board processor, and an electrochemical control system. Genius.

Hey, I know I’m an amateur in this kind of thread. Be easy on me.


26 posted on 03/16/2009 5:54:27 PM PDT by marron
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To: LiteKeeper; B-Chan
The idea that DNA was created by the random action of weather and radiation upon dirty water just seems ludicrous to me. If that's what the data suggest, then we're obviously interpreting the data incorrectly.

I mean, imagine if a team of astronauts found a functioning digital calculator buried in a million-year-old stratum of the surface of Mars. Would they conclude the calculator was designed by some intelligent creature, or that the calculator was created accidentally by the effect of billions of years of weathering upon Martian stone? Would they try to find more finished artifacts, or would they start looking for fossil electronic devices demonstrating a gradual progression of calculator ancestors beginning with the first primitive transistors created by chance from the non-living minerals of Mars?

Of course not. The calculator in all its complexity and purposeful design would be seen rightly as incontestable evidence of the presence of intelligent life on Mars.

And yet a single biological cell is fantastically complex -- much more complex than any calculator...

I think B-Chan said in his post 10 what I was trying to say much better than I said it with my rather lame parable about diesel engines

27 posted on 03/16/2009 6:21:17 PM PDT by marron
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To: NYer

All very interesting. Especially noting the absence of the usual creationist-evolutionist wrangling. Why? Because the author has set forth the classic unassailable argument: that complexity (or as she puts it “intelligence”) does not arise spontaneously from chaos.

This, I suggest, is a more powerful line of argument to pursue than arguing over missing links & other “details” of evolution. As others on this thread have pointed out, the understanding that design requires a designer is so deeply and profoundly written within each of us that a child intuitively grasps it.

I cannot resist responding to the individual who suggested that evolution on the atomic level is much different (and much more plausible) than the illustration given of finding a calculator on Mars. This argument claims that evolution actually involved a incomprehensibly large number of miniscule developmental steps over an incomprehensibly long period of time. Viewing evolutionary development as lots of very tiny changes supposedly makes it eminently rational and probable.

But this is based on a false assumption, for two reasons. First, “breaking up” the enormity of the “task” into a near-infinite number of individual changes that in themselves may appear to be more likely does not reduce the overall probability that the entire sequence of necessarily-linked events actually took place. You simply cannot theorize about any single developmental change and assert that you have now demonstrated how the entire magnificant and supremely-complex edifice that is the hallmark of all Creation - beginning with the DNA code - came into being.

Secondly, evolutionary probablility theory ignores the truth that only a very limited level of “complexity” can occur through blind chance - and that does not change by simply adding more time and more matter. The classic illustration is that of a roomful of monkeys tapping away at keyboards. The necessary evolutionary assumption is that, given enough monkeys and enough time, eventually they will type out the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

In fact, eons of time will not produce anything of the sort. I would be surprised if the entire collection of monkeys could produce even a comprehensible sentence. This is because a roomful of monkeys is composed of individual monkeys, each of which will unfailingly be unable to produce a significant level of complexity. As one poster put it, no matter how much direct energy in the form of lightning is applied, oceans of “dirty water” cannot spontaneously produce intelligence and living organisms.


28 posted on 03/16/2009 7:19:17 PM PDT by tjd1454
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To: MyTwoCopperCoins
Only deep, personal, divine intervention can ever convert a real atheist.

Oh, I agree completely. You'll note that I was talking about my intellectual path back to belief. I didn't make the final leap of faith based on reasoning, however -- it took a sort of "personal encounter" to accomplish that. No, I didn't have a vision of Jesus or anything so dramatic; I would have been unaffected by that (because I'd have assumed I was going nuts!). Apparitions are for pure people anyway, people like St. Juan Diego -- folks with the clear sight and open heart of a child. I'll never be mistaken for a saint, and I'm much too hardhearted and myopic to be worthy of seeing our Lord. However, I did have a kind of Damascus Road experience; the scales fell from my eyes later as a result.

I don't want to dramatize it; the closest I can come to describing it is that one day when I was driving home from the post office in Sherman Oaks, California, I became acutely aware that I missed Jesus, in the same heartsick way you miss your parents when you're a homesick little kid. I didn't miss the Jesus I'd been brought up with as a Pentecostal, who was kind of mean and scary, but I "missed" the Friend that I'd always known in the bottom of my heart, the One who'd been there with me through my tormented and pain-filled childhood. At that moment, I knew I had to go back to being a Christian, and made the leap of faith. That's really all there was to it.

That was eleven years ago, and despite the fact that I'm his most disobedient servant, I love Jesus more now than ever. I'm glad He came back for me.

29 posted on 03/16/2009 7:58:16 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: NYer

An amazing story. Thanks for posting. It does give one hope for family and friends who’ve (seemingly) turned their backs to God.


30 posted on 03/16/2009 8:11:51 PM PDT by fortunecookie (Please pray for Anna, age 7, who waits for a new kidney.)
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To: tjd1454
Because the author has set forth the classic unassailable argument: that complexity (or as she puts it “intelligence”) does not arise spontaneously from chaos.

Since early childhood, I need only look up into the nighttime sky to realize there is a Creator. Why is this not the case for a scientist? Look at a garden or the woods or lake, river or ocean ... how does one not marvel at the amazing 'universe' and recognize the existence of God!?

31 posted on 03/17/2009 5:57:03 AM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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Ok well I have a problem with the use of the word “truth” in this article. Nobody can actually say that the bible or any religion is “truth”. It’s an opinion. There is no concrete solid evidence in anything regarding religion or god. And to all of a sudden find “God” just means to me that she was looking for something to hold on to. Hey to each their own, but using the word truth to me is ridiculous. All religions think that their way is “truth” and this is the problem. If everyone just realizes it is all a matter of opinion, there would be less fighting and bullshit over it. The biggest problem with this world is organized religion. It causes too many wars and fighting. And there is too much corruption. If there wasn’t so much bullshit surrounding religion, there would be less people leaving it. People are starting to realize what organized religion really is. A money making machine with nothing but fighting and hate.


32 posted on 03/17/2009 6:23:10 AM PDT by Jerrybaby
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To: marshmallow

I’m pretty sure this is the same Jennifer:

http://www.conversiondiary.com/

I’ve been reading her blog for a while now. She’s a terrific writer, a real thinker with a natural warmth and humor.

She used to blog as an atheist. I don’t know the title of that blog, but apparently she caused quite a stir.


33 posted on 03/17/2009 7:14:45 AM PDT by Lorica
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To: NYer

it’s like watching hamsters on a wheel. eventually they get tired and give up.


34 posted on 03/17/2009 8:42:21 AM PDT by the invisib1e hand (Wall Street: Built by dropouts and misfits, destroyed by the Ive League's finest.)
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To: marron; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; YHAOS; MHGinTN; DallasMike; GodGunsGuts
This was the part I thought might sound familiar to you.

That DNA is "information!" To be honest, I don't know whether DNA itself is the information of life, or whether it is the "facilitator" of information from another source "higher up the hierarchy." But what does seem very clear to me is that, as George Gilder writes, "the word has primacy over the flesh":

As I pondered [the] materialist superstition, it became increasingly clear to me that in all the sciences I studied, information comes first, and regulates the flesh and the world, not the other way around. The pattern seemed to echo some familiar wisdom. Could it be, I asked myself one day in astonishment, that the opening of St. John’s Gospel, In the beginning was the Word, is a central dogma of modern science?

In raising this question I was not affirming a religious stance. At the time it first occurred to me, I was still a mostly secular intellectual. But after some 35 years of writing and study in science and technology, I can now affirm the principle empirically. Salient in virtually every technical field — from quantum theory and molecular biology to computer science and economics — is an increasing concern with the word. It passes by many names: logos, logic, bits, bytes, mathematics, software, knowledge, syntax, semantics, code, plan, program, design, algorithm, as well as the ubiquitous “information.” In every case, the information is independent of its physical embodiment or carrier.

Biologists commonly blur the information into the slippery synecdoche of DNA, a material molecule, and imply that life is biochemistry rather than information processing. But even here, the deoxyribonucleic acid that bears the word is not itself the word. Like a sheet of paper or a computer memory chip, DNA bears messages but its chemistry is irrelevant to its content. The alphabet’s nucleotide “bases” form “words” without help from their bonds with the helical sugar-phosphate backbone that frames them. The genetic words are no more dictated by the chemistry of their frame than the words in Scrabble are determined by the chemistry of their wooden racks or by the force of gravity that holds them.

This reality expresses a key insight of Francis Crick, the Nobel laureate co-author of the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. Crick expounded and enshrined what he called the “Central Dogma” of molecular biology. The Central Dogma shows that influence can flow from the arrangement of the nucleotides on the DNA molecule to the arrangement of amino acids in proteins, but not from proteins to DNA. Like a sheet of paper or a series of magnetic points on a computer’s hard disk or the electrical domains in a random-access memory — or indeed all the undulations of the electromagnetic spectrum that bear information through air or wires in telecommunications — DNA is a neutral carrier of information, independent of its chemistry and physics. By asserting that the DNA message precedes and regulates the form of the proteins, and that proteins cannot specify a DNA program, Crick’s Central Dogma unintentionally recapitulates St. John’s assertion of the primacy of the word over the flesh....

After 100 years or so of attempted philosophical leveling, however, it turns out that the universe is stubbornly hierarchical. It is a top-down “nested hierarchy,” in which the higher levels command more degrees of freedom than the levels below them, which they use and constrain. Thus, the higher levels can neither eclipse the lower levels nor be reduced to them. Resisted at every step across the range of reductive sciences, this realization is now inexorable. We know now that no accumulation of knowledge about chemistry and physics will yield the slightest insight into the origins of life or the processes of computation or the sources of consciousness or the nature of intelligence or the causes of economic growth. As the famed chemist Michael Polanyi pointed out in 1961, all these fields depend on chemical and physical processes, but are not defined by them. Operating farther up the hierarchy, biological macro-systems such as brains, minds, human beings, businesses, societies, and economies consist of intelligent agents that harness chemical and physical laws to higher purposes but are not reducible to lower entities or explicable by them. — "Evolution and Me," National Review, July 17, 2006; itals added for emphasis

Moreoever, as the philosopher Eric Voegelin wrote, "A universe which contains intelligent beings cannot originate with a prima causa that is less than intelligent.”

Similarly, it seems to me there can be no "information" absent an intelligent source. For as it is increasingly acknowledged nowadays, physics and chemistry do not generate information: With physico-chemical processes, you never get more information out of the end of the process than you had going into it at the front-end.

The above description is about where I sit regarding these issues nowadays, FWIW. It's a "work in progress."

In it all, I clearly see God's providence working in Nature.

Thank you ever so much for writing, marron!

35 posted on 03/17/2009 10:41:34 AM PDT by betty boop (Folly is a mental disease, and of folly there are two kinds, madness and stupidity. — Plato)
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To: betty boop
Thank you oh so very much for sharing your insights, dearest sister in Christ! And thank you for that wonderful excerpt!
36 posted on 03/17/2009 11:47:13 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Jerrybaby
What religion did the Viet Cong practice?

What religion did Democratic People's Republic of Korea promote?

What religion did the USSR practice and promote?

What religion did the Nazis promote?

What religion did Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Germany etc... practice and promoted during WWI?

What religion did the North and South (United States) promote?

What religion did Napoleon promote?

What religion did the rebellious colonists (Against British North America) promote?

May I say you are a huge ignoramus especially in regards to how violent and bloody wars were started in the last 200 years or so as well as Christian/Judea history.

I take it your next pathetic rant will be on nation States. Good grief, "let's just succumb to the UN" will be your conclusion (If your honest enough to get at the "modern" day root causes of violent warfare in the recent huge wars)

I will give you the Muslim angle but you don't have much after the 30 Years' War when it comes to huge religious outbreaks ON BOTH SIDES (Israel is a secular State unless your are a blind hate filled collectivist who is too dumb to realize that many Israeli politicians are agnostic or atheists.

37 posted on 03/17/2009 12:20:45 PM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
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To: Jerrybaby
Nobody can actually say that the bible or any religion is “truth”. It’s an opinion.

Aren't opinions statements about truth? Only liars and the insane state opinions about something they know to be untrue.

38 posted on 03/17/2009 12:27:56 PM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: rollo tomasi
I will give you the Muslim angle but you don't have much after the 30 Years' War when it comes to huge religious outbreaks.

Well, that's a HUGE angle; an angle pretty much responsible for most of the conflict on the globe, and it's strictly a religious issue.

But you've still got the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Crimean War, and the conflict on the Indian subcontinent after the British left; those are just a few that come to mind.

Granted, authoritarian socialism and Marxism picked up the violence and bloodshed where religion left off, but people like Stalin were able to capitalize on the credulity of a religious populace (The Tsar was considered a demigod) and shift its focus to the state rather than the church.

Christian violence died down after the 30 Years War as the West became more secular. Do you think religion has helped Europe become a more peaceful continent in the late 20th century?

Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-Sung, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler did not murder millions in the name of Epicurus, Spinoza, Jefferson, Robert Ingersoll, or Einstein.

39 posted on 03/18/2009 11:21:54 AM PDT by GunRunner
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To: GunRunner
“Well, that's a HUGE angle;”

For them (For over 1300 years) but what religion is the other side promoting? The fact that Western civilization has tolerated as well as wanting to work with Muslim states is continually met with resistance. Their fault not ours.

“But you've still got the Troubles in Northern Ireland”

Wow, I thought it was about the Irish wanting to be self-autonomous in N. Ireland. Of course you have the Catholic/Protty element but the core is not religious.

“the Crimean War”

Great Britain was a Catholic bastion and an ally of not only France but the Vatican at the time? Wow! Was basically a mixture of religious as well as acquiring/preventing of strategic land masses (By Russia).

“Christian violence died down after the 30 Years War as the West became more secular.”

ROTFL

Wars between countries over religion died down but Europe after 1648 was hardly secular. Nation States absorbed religious pluralism, tolerance grew somewhat and the Enlightenment “freed” the individual but people still worshiped along with “the State” well into the 18th century in several countries.

“Do you think religion has helped Europe become a more peaceful continent in the late 20th century?”

No, forward-deployed weapons that could annihilate cities with one shot is what keeps “the peace” and prevents serious hot wars from occurring. Lack of faith in God will lead to decay from within and history will repeat itself again with...

“Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-Sung, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, and Hitler did not murder millions in the name of Epicurus, Spinoza, Jefferson, Robert Ingersoll, or Einstein.”

They just filled the void from a population which turned their backs on God. Same like today, some central authority will “stimulate” the reprobates.

40 posted on 03/18/2009 12:20:25 PM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
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To: rollo tomasi
Wow, I thought it was about the Irish wanting to be self-autonomous in N. Ireland. Of course you have the Catholic/Protty element but the core is not religious.

The Catholic Protestant facet of the Troubles is not an 'element', but a root cause; THE cause in fact that led to every other element of the conflict.

Without Catholics fighting Protestants, and vice versa, there is no conflict.

Great Britain was a Catholic bastion and an ally of not only France but the Vatican at the time? Wow! Was basically a mixture of religious as well as acquiring/preventing of strategic land masses (By Russia).

It was a war for control and sovereignty over the Holy Land; a religious war between Eastern Orthodox and the Western Christian powers.

Wars between countries over religion died down but Europe after 1648 was hardly secular.

They became more secular. I didn't imply an instant shift, but a gradual secularization between then and the late 20th century. It's undeniable.

No, forward-deployed weapons that could annihilate cities with one shot is what keeps “the peace” and prevents serious hot wars from occurring

I'll take the 'No' as an agreement.

They just filled the void from a population which turned their backs on God.

Sure, and it was an easy transition; it's very simple to morph religious authoritarianism to secular authoritarianism. It's still authoritarianism.

Find a society based on the ideals of those in that latter half of the sentence, and tell me which one has slouched into poverty, repression, and dictatorship.

Don't look long because you won't find one.

41 posted on 03/18/2009 1:58:49 PM PDT by GunRunner
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To: GunRunner
“Without Catholics fighting Protestants, and vice versa, there is no conflict.”

Umm, tell that to the un-spirtual “Catholics” (Ever been to Northern Ireland) who want the English GOVERNMENT out.

“It was a war for control and sovereignty over the Holy Land; a religious war between Eastern Orthodox and the Western Christian powers.”

Bwahahahaaa... That is how it started “bubbling” but wait.... why did Great Britain “join” the Vatican/France. What RELIGION did Great Britain promote? It certainly was not Anglican as their intentions were FAR from “religion”.

“I didn't imply an instant shift, but a gradual secularization between then and the late 20th century.”

Right, after Nazism/Communism. 300+ years with the Great Awakening thrown in was a loonnnnggggg time between a COUPLE of aggressive atheistic States. Good grief.

“I'll take the ‘No’ as an agreement.”

Jesus said it was not going to be perfect. Just because someone fancies a belief in God does not immune oneself from temptations of desire, covet, power, lack of self-control etc... Also, humans have never used Christ name in vain by their actions./s Pretty easy to spot the frauds if you are “filled” with Holy Spirit (Which a lot a people claim to be).

“Sure, and it was an easy transition; it's very simple to morph religious authoritarianism to secular authoritarianism. It's still authoritarianism.”

Which is why countries that experiment in personnel liberty (Not talking about genitals) often lose sight of the God given free will which the powers that be do not respect. United States had a good run, too bad it is fading. You seem to imply the teachings of Christ to some earthly institution, big mistake.

“Find a society based on the ideals of those in that latter half of the sentence, and tell me which one has slouched into poverty, repression, and dictatorship.”

So it's “religions” fault for secular authoritarianism, is that what you are implying. I got it, lol. Gee, the Greeks never let religion (Although they had rites, religion was not an important player in politics in most poleis) get in the way of their city States, Romans to some extent who Greece was easy pickings, whole host of African societies, Persia namely Iran before Islam and in between Islam, United States is falling fast, better watch out, etc...

I am still trying to find pure “secular societies” (Whose populous is mostly agnostic) that last, the work ethic involved is pretty nonexistent.

42 posted on 03/18/2009 3:03:07 PM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
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To: NYer
"I asked myself two questions: What is information? And: Can information ever come from a non-intelligent source?

It was a shocking moment for me because I had to confront the fact that DNA is information. If I remained an atheist, I would have to believe that all the intricate, detailed, complex information contained in DNA comes out of nowhere and nothing.

But I also knew that idea did not make sense. After all, I don’t look at billboards — which contain much simpler information than DNA — and think that wind and erosion created them. That wouldn’t be rational. Suddenly, I found that I was a very discomfited atheist."

So she made a major life decision based on grotesquely stupid creationist talking points. Awesome. You guys can have this one, we don't want her.

43 posted on 03/18/2009 3:39:17 PM PDT by oldmanreedy
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To: oldmanreedy
So she made a major life decision based on grotesquely stupid creationist talking points.

Question: Can you make something from nothing?

44 posted on 03/18/2009 3:51:41 PM PDT by NYer ("Run from places of sin as from a plague." - St. John Climacus)
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To: tjd1454
I cannot resist responding to the individual who suggested that evolution on the atomic level is much different (and much more plausible) than the illustration given of finding a calculator on Mars.

One thing I have noticed is that ardent evolutionists have not investigated their own philosophy.

Let's take a much simpler approach. Say a silver chain was found on mars that was only 3 links long. It's obvious that it didn't come there by "natural causes", but an evolutionist would tell you that a living bacterium (significantly different from Earth bacteria) a million times more complex is obviously there by natural causes. The reason is because the chain must go through the steps of purification, molding, and linking to come about, which are human actions, but to the evolutionist, the natural process of organic chemistry is enough to produce a bacteria. Of course it is, because unlike the chain, the bacteria is capable of reproduction.

In this case, perpetuation of a population is a natural process, but bringing about the population in the first place? Well, even an evolutionist will say that you're not talking about evolution anymore. So then they have it both ways, evolution explains the origins of all modern life while sweeping the pesky details of ultimate origins under the abiogenesis rug. In fact, whatever was the initial "chain" of life for their creation story is no longer in existence and therefore can be speculated to be anything with an infinite number of improbable happenings creating it. So even if we have a theory of engineered origins that precisely separates the natural from the engineered, you have nothing to compare it against, because an evolutionist will argue that anything that can reproduce using organic chemistry could have ultimately been created by a natural chemical process.

Evolution is truly the enemy of scientific inquiry because it hides in unknowns. The less known about life and origins, the better for evolution. As more DNA is found to be necessary for an organism, as more discoveries are made about how complex the simplest reproducing life form must be, and as we find the limits of genetic algorithms in software, the closer we come to realizing that evolution and materialism is impossible.

45 posted on 03/18/2009 6:23:05 PM PDT by dan1123 (Liberals sell it as "speech which is hateful" but it's really "speech I hate".)
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To: NYer

bump


46 posted on 03/18/2009 6:26:34 PM PDT by PatriotGirl827 (Pray for the United States of America!)
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To: rollo tomasi
An un-spiritual Catholic is still a victim of the religious conflict that started with the Battle of the Boyne. Getting the "English Government out" is a very simplistic understanding of the conflict. There are Irish Protestants in case you didn't know, and the Unionist and Protestant paramilitaries and political groups aren't going anywhere, even if the English government still leaves. It's undeniably a religious conflict that has branched out into fighting over geography, territory, and politics, but its religious nonetheless.

Bwahahahaaa... That is how it started “bubbling” but wait

So wait, are you laughing because I'm right? I'm a little confused.

It started as a religious conflict over Holy Land sovereinty. The fact that Anglican Britain joined France and the Vatican against Moscow does not change that it was a religious conflict. QED.

Which is why countries that experiment in personnel liberty (Not talking about genitals) often lose sight of the God given free will which the powers that be do not respect. United States had a good run, too bad it is fading. You seem to imply the teachings of Christ to some earthly institution, big mistake

I call your attention again to the non-theist personalities I used as examples. They didn't need God to believe in personal liberty and freedom.

So it's “religions” fault for secular authoritarianism, is that what you are implying. I got it, lol.

No, that's actually what you did to non-believers earlier when you listed murderous authoritarian governments as if all non-believers somehow have to answer for them. I believe in secular governments, which by their nature do not enforce religious intolerance. Stalin's Soviet Union, with his requirements of unending praise to the state and the dear leader, his miracles (Lysenkoism), and his Inquisition (the Gulags) was not secularism.

The Constitution of the United States and its government are secular. God and Christ are not mentioned anywhere in it, and the government is expressly forbidden from interfering in religious matters, establishing a church, and prohibiting anyone from practicing their beliefs. We're accountable to no church, priest, pope, or any other religious body, and should aim to keep it that way.

47 posted on 03/19/2009 7:03:49 AM PDT by GunRunner
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To: NYer
"Question: Can you make something from nothing?"

Please give precise definitions of: 'something', 'nothing', and explain exactly what 'make' means in this context.

Also, please explain why you responded to a criticism of a silly argument based on 'information' with a question about 'something from nothing'.

48 posted on 03/19/2009 1:24:49 PM PDT by oldmanreedy
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To: GunRunner
You have "southern" (Different mind you) denominational Irish Protestants all over Ireland mingling happily with "southern" Irish Catholics why? Could it be that the northern Irish Catholics feel a little repressed with English "occupation"? Why is it that northern Catholics in Ireland have a different POV as their "brethren", the southern Catholic Irish individual? Religious tolerance in the south but not in the North, hmmm....., wonder what the difference is?

So wait, are you laughing because I'm right?

No, I am laughing at the ignorance of the superiority complex of a secular "know it all" who thinks the Crimean War was started because Napoleon the III wanted a set of keys to some Churches. Also that the Crimean War was fought between "western" Christianity against "Eastern" Christianity even though Turkey (Muslim, Bwahahaha...) declared war on Russia which really got the ball rolling. You see, it was about Nationalism when the smoke cleared. Economic interest (Vital Black Sea trade) far outweighed religious "intentions". What religion was Britain and Turkey promoting again? You can say Napoleon III's excuse was to play politics with several powerful Catholic groups he was trying to appease, but that was not the main intention (To break Russia's stronghold). Turkey became involved because they wanted to spread "western" Christianity, again, bwahahaha... what the heck are they teaching in history classes....

They didn't need God to believe in personal liberty and freedom.

But Jefferson had no problem teaching with a Bible. I guess he thought morality (Which the State should not be in charge of promoting) should come from somewhere that was State sponsored (Jefferson was often a hypocritical creature at times).

The Constitution of the United States and its government are secular.

True but how many State Constitutions directly mention God or imply God? What is the religious makeup of the US? How is "secularism" (Wiping out God in the PUBLIC square) enhancing the US? How come Christianity was welcomed in the PUBLIC square until some oligarchy perverted Original intent and created some "establishment clause"?

Also why did you avoid all those secular societies that decayed from within because of well, secularism. You would be surprised at the influence the founders found in Ancient Greece about setting up a government. What did they modify and conclude Greeks' problems were?
49 posted on 03/22/2009 6:11:54 AM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
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To: marron

So your stated belief is that the ‘thousands more manhours of engineering’ are devoid of any information or knowledge?

Then we should be able to extract working diesel engines from iron ore veins so long as they’ve been exposed to sufficient pressure and heat, yes?


50 posted on 03/22/2009 10:41:28 AM PDT by FormerLib (Sacrificing our land and our blood cannot buy protection from jihad.-Bishop Artemije of Kosovo)
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