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John Simkin

Science or Religion

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Oh dear.

The bible is the word of God?

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron that in all future generations, his descendants who have physical defects will not qualify to offer food to their God.  No one who has a defect may come near to me, whether he is blind or lame, stunted or deformed, or has a broken foot or hand, or has a humped back or is a dwarf, or has a defective eye, or has oozing sores or scabs on his skin, or has damaged testicles.  Even though he is a descendant of Aaron, his physical defects disqualify him from presenting offerings to the LORD by fire.  Since he has a blemish, he may not offer food to his God.  However, he may eat from the food offered to God, including the holy offerings and the most holy offerings.  Yet because of his physical defect, he must never go behind the inner curtain or come near the altar, for this would desecrate my holy places.  I am the LORD who makes them holy."  (Leviticus 21:16-23 NLT)

or

If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.  (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

or

All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense.  (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)

Now I think most Christians do not take this literally but you can see that regarding the Bible as the word of God does pose certain problems. One of which is that atheists often know the Bible quite well.

Ah... but there's a difference between knowing of and knowing that, as I'm sure you're aware! Cultural issues are at stake here. Read the whole Bible - it is the revelation of God. That is to say, the Old Testament was pointing towards Jesus. Which is why I'm allowed to eat lobster...

B) Doug

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the Old Testament was pointing towards Jesus. Which is why  I'm allowed to eat lobster...

B) Doug

And indeed make it up as you go along :lol::lol:

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Doug -

You state humans are the only creatures with souls, because they are different - made in God's image. Science offers a different perspective. It is clear from comparative morphology, biochemistry, ethology and fossils that humans differ from other animals in degree, not in kind. I think you will find it difficult to name one characteristic of humans that is not exhibited to some degree in some other animal.

Science tells us that humans are not really different from other animals. Of course, it can tell us nothing about the existence of souls in us or anything else. But there is no scientific support for your contention that humans are "different"

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I really am going to bow out of this debate now. Having been an unbeliever (and living in an extremely secular society) and now a Christian I believe I can see both sides of this debate. Some, however, are unwilling to even entertain the possibility that they might be wrong and have dug their trench. So be it! I'd like to coax you out of it, but I'm not going to ram Christianity down people's throats. It's counter-productive. :lol:

B) Doug

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Doug writes:

That is to say, the Old Testament was pointing towards Jesus. Which is why I'm allowed to eat lobster...

I CAN'T eat lobster as I'm EXTREMELY allergic to all forms of shellfish and can go into anaphylactic shock if I eat shellfish accidentally. I am not Jewish, but I feel safe asking for a Kosher meal when eating out in a restaurant or on a plane. Fish with fins and scales, such as salmon, halibut, flounder, are Kosher. Bivalves, shellfish or scaleless fish like eel, sturgeon and catfish are not Kosher. I guess the Rabbis of long ago knew about the dangers of eating shellfish - which can be very dodgy even if you don't have an allergy.

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OK Doug, I take your point, I am a born-again atheist myself and unlikely to change. I still find the Bible's justification of dismissing disabled people, stoning adulterers and executing children who curse their parents a little excessive. I understand that most Christians do not take them literally, however this cannot co-exist with a belief that the bible is the word of God. God changed her mind between testaments?

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I ran across a great passage from Leopold's A Sand County Almanac.... It is from "Song of the Gavilan" (a river in the Sierra Madre):

"There are men charged with the duty of examining the construction of the plants, animals, and soils which are the instruments of the great orchestra. Thes men are called professors. Each selects one instrument and spends his life taking it apart and describing its strings and sounding boards. This process of dismemberment is called research. The place for dismemberment is called a university.

A professor may pluck the strings of his own instrument, but never that of another, and if he listens for music he must never admit it to his fellows or to his students. For the construction of instruments is the domain of science, while the detection of harmony is the domain of poets.

Professors serve science and science serves progress. It serves progress so well tha many of the more intricate instuments are stepped upon and broken in the rush to spread progress to all backward lands. One by one the parts are thus stricken from the song of songs. If the professor is able to classify each instrument before it is broken, he is well content.

Science contributes moral as well as material blessings to the world. Its great moral contribution is objectivity, or the scientific point of view. This means doubting everything except facts; it means hewing to the facts, let the chips fall where they may. One of the facts hewn to by science is that every river needs more people, and all people need more inventions, and hence more science; the good life depends on the indefinite extension of this chain of logic. That the good life on any river may likewise depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive, is a form of doubt not yet entertained by science.

Science has not yet arrived on the Gavilan, so the otter plays tag in its pools and riffles and chases the fat rainbow from under its mossy banks, with never a thought for the flood that one day will scour the bank into the Pacific, or for the sportsman who will one day dispute his title to the trout. Like the scientist, he has no doubts about his own design for living. He assumes that for him the Gavilan will sing forever."

I have not been to the Gavilan, though I've been to somewhat similar places. How can our pursuit of "progress" avoid the fate described above?

Edited by Mike Toliver

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It appears to me at least that Science vs Religion is one of the oldest debates that still rages just as hotly, and as usual, it's a false dichotomy. I've seen plenty of religious dogma in the most science-minded, and plenty of scientific theorizing in many religious folk. It's like debating Sci Fi vs Fantasy, they both meld into each other after you've read enough books, and it's more than rare to find one that is Sci Fi to the exclusion of all Fantasy elements and vice versa. I'd say, check out Bill Moyer's take on Religion, then apply it to Science as well. Both have their uses, but are struggling to continue being totally relevant to the worldviews today.

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