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Old 08-19-2005, 06:14 PM   #151
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Sweeney's SF Chronicle interview (see above) can be read on SFGate at:

URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg.../findrelig.DTL
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Old 08-19-2005, 07:06 PM   #152
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From John Carroll's column in today's SF Chronicle:


Friday, August 19, 2005

One of the standard rules of traditional journalism is that it is good and virtuous to present "both sides" of a given issue. Most issues worth their salt have a lot more than two sides, but the idea is a good one nevertheless. The media can never be unbiased, because they are human institutions, but they can strive to be fair. Alas, the best benchmark of success in fairness is being attacked from both ends of the political spectrum.

Most of us wear these attacks as badges of honor. I get worried if I go too long without a screed from the left denouncing me for something or other. Fortunately, my support of warship museums has given me quite a bit of room.

The thing is, people savvy in manipulating the media have figured out the "both sides" rule, and sometimes they create another "side" where one barely existed, so the two sides can be seen to be in conflict. Obviously, giving equal weight to a fringe idea just lends unwarranted legitimacy to that fringe idea -- a fringe idea like "intelligent design."

"Intelligent design" used to be called "creationism," but some of the wackier creationists began alleging that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time and that the Earth was only 6,000 years old, and that sort of stuff made even the theocrats nervous. So "intelligent design" was born.

Intelligent design is not science. It is not even a field of study. It is a belief system wrapped up in "scientific" language. Scientists have been studying the origin and nature of life on earth for at least 4,000 years. In that time, they have come up with a number of hypotheses. Then new evidence has been turned up, and the old hypotheses have been discarded, often reluctantly.

Scientists, like all humans, really hate to discard ideas that they have defended for years. The history of science is a history of unhappy people reluctantly changing their minds. Imagine the person who first realized that the sun was just another star. Terrible, terrible news. It's the universe saying, "You're not special."

The intelligent design people have never suffered such a crisis. They have never changed their minds based on new evidence. That's because they started with the desired results and worked backward.

Scientists have taken the time to study all forms of life -- mosses, flatworms, slime molds, fruit flies, sharks. What they have learned has been incorporated into the body of knowledge and sometimes has resulted in a change of assumptions.

The intelligent design people don't do mosses. They don't spend 17 years in a laboratory with a glass case full of earthworms. They are indifferent to the symbiotic relationships that create lichen. The intelligent design people are not interested in studying; they are interested in preaching. They do not present papers; they present sermons.

It's not an equal struggle. It's the world scientific community against a few guys with some Web sites and a lot of political clout.

Science has been wrong before -- the intelligent design people will stress that. Science cannot explain this bit or that bit. And it is true, science has been wrong, and science does not have all the answers. But here's the thing: In all the instances when science has been wrong and has had to change its mind to accommodate new data, never once has it done so because it failed to account for the intervention of a supernatural entity. Not once.

Here's what it's like. Suppose there were a conference on child development and parenting. And some people are saying that children should start early on a rigorous academic program, and others are saying no, they should have real childhoods and be allowed to develop their creative abilities naturally. And some people say that children should get regular allowances, and others say, no, children should always do chores to get money. And some people say children should get complete sex education and access to birth control devices as soon as they reach puberty, and others say no, that just encourages promiscuity and reinforces our society's unhealthy preoccupation with sex.

And then someone says, "We should throw pingpong balls at them. All day, every day, we should throw pingpong balls at our children. It just seems like the right thing to do."

That's the role of the intelligent design people in serious discussions about the nature and the origin of life. They are the pingpong-ball people. They're not even talking about the same thing. They have an agenda. They want to change the subject.

Even their most basic premise is false. The theory of natural selection does not deny the existence of God. It has no opinion on the matter. The theory of natural selection arose from a series of observations and experiments by people who were, for the most part, believing Christians. Faith and science can live very comfortably together, if only someone would give them the chance.

I look at a sunset or a dog running in a field and I think, "How could all this exist without a creator?" And then I think about the infinity of stars and planets, and I think, "Pretty easily, actually."

Page E - 20
URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...DG86E95R11.DTL
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Old 08-20-2005, 08:34 AM   #153
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COMMENT

From The Talk of the Town, in this week's New Yorker:

---------
MIRED
Issue of 2005-08-22

How did we—not just Americans but human beings in general—come to be? Opinions differ, but for most of recorded history the consensus view was that people were made out of mud. Also, that the mud was originally turned into people by a being or beings who themselves resembled people, only bigger, more powerful, and longer-lived, often immortal. The early Chinese theorized that a lonely goddess, pining for company, used yellow mud to fashion the first humans. According to the ancient Greeks Prometheus sculpted the first man from mud, after which Athena breathed life into him. Mud is the man-making material in the creation stories of Mesopotamian city-states African tribes, and American Indian nations.

The mud theory is still dominant in the United States, in the form of the Book of Genesis, whose version of the origin of our species, according to a recent Gallup poll, is deemed true by forty-five per cent of the American public. Chapter 2, in verses 6 and 7, puts it this way:
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Mud is not mentioned by name, but you'd have to be a pretty strict Biblical literalist not to infer that mud is what you get when you add water to dust.

A competing theory is that people, along with the rest of the earth's animals and plants, evolved over billions of years, beginning as extremely simple organisms and, via the accumulation of the tiny fraction of random mutations that turn out to be useful, developing into more complex ones. This view has gained many adherents since it was conceived, a century and a half ago, by Charles Darwin. It commands solid majorities in most of the developed world, and, thanks to the overwhelming evidence for its validity, has the near-unanimous support of scientists everywhere. Here in the United States, according to Gallup, it is subscribed to by about one-third of the populace—still running second to mud, but too large a market share to ignore altogether, especially in some of the battleground states.

On the one hand this, on the other hand that. George W. Bush is not normally the type to endorse shilly-shallying, but this time he went for it. At a “round table” with Texas reporters, the President was asked to comment on “what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design” and whether “both should be taught in public schools.”
THE PRESIDENT: I think—as I said, harking back to my days as my governor—both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

Q: Both sides should be properly taught?

THE PRESIDENT : Yes, people—so people can understand what the debate is about.

Q: So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

THE PRESIDENT : I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting—you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.
Looked at one way, this colloquy is an occasion for national shame, albeit with a whiff of the risible: here is our country's leader, the champion-in-chief of educational standards, blandly equating natural science and supernatural supposition as “different schools of thought.” Looked at another way, it represents progress of a sort. Twenty-five years ago, Ronald Reagan, then the Republican candidate for President, endorsed the teaching of “creationism”; five years ago, George W. Bush did the same. “Creationism” holds that dinosaurs and people coexisted, and that the fossil record is a product of Noah's flood. Next to that, “intelligent design” represents a scientific advance, or a tactical retreat, or maybe just the evolutionary process at work. I.D. recognizes that the age of the universe is measured in billions, not thousands, of years; that fossils are evidence, not divine tricks to test believers' faith; and that organisms change over time, sometimes via natural selection. This is tantamount to an admission that the Genesis story is poetry, not history; allegory, not fact.

But I.D.—whose central (and easily refuted) talking point is that certain structures of living things are too intricate to have evolved without the intervention of an “intelligent designer” (and You know who You are)—enjoys virtually no scientific support. It is not even a theory, in the scientific sense, because it is untestable and unsupportable by empirical evidence. It is a last-ditch skirmish in a misguided war against reason that cannot be won and, for religion's sake as well as science's, should not be fought. If the President's musings on it were an isolated crotchet, they would hardly be worth noting, let alone getting exercised about. But they're not. They reflect an attitude toward science that has infected every corner of his Administration. From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group—one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That's why the White House-sometimes in the service of political Christianism or ideological fetishism, more often in obeisance to baser interests like the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and defense industries-has altered, suppressed, or overriden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention. It has grossly misled the public on the number of stem-cell lines available for research. It has appointed unqualified ideo_logues to scientific advisory committees and has forced out scientists who persist in pointing out inconvenient facts. All this and more has been amply documented in reports from congressional Democrats and the Union of Concerned Scientists, in such leading scientific publications as Nature, Scientific American, Science, and The Lancet, and in a new book, “The Republican War on Science,” by the science journalist Chris Mooney.

Mooney's book is more judicious than its move-product title, which, as he acknowledges in an opening chapter, is not meant to apply to moderate Republicans past (such as Dwight D. Eisenhower) or present (such as John McCain). Anyway, a few small fissures are beginning to appear in the stone wall. Bill Frist, M.D., the Senate Majority Leader, has broken with the White House on stem-cell research. The White House science adviser, John H. Marburger III, evidently embarrassed by his boss's evolutionary equivocations, told the Times that “intelligent design is not a scientific concept.” And the cover story in the current National Journal, a well-informed and relentlessly nonpartisan Washington weekly, reports that growing numbers of Republican politicians and corporate chieftains “who once dismissed as unproven the idea that the burning of fossil fuels is causing a harmful rise in Earth's temperature have now concluded that global warming is real—and very dangerous.” As a result, the magazine says, “Advocates of muscular gove_rnmental efforts to slow or reverse global warming predict that the United States will eventually take strong action—but they doubt that such action will come on Bush's watch.” In this White House, science's name is mud. And, unlike those intelligent designers in the sky, all this crowd knows how to do is sling it.

— Hendrik Hertzberg
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Old 08-23-2005, 07:39 PM   #154
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Gee, hi Smarty! How 'ya doin'? Been posting lately?

I've been busy building a float for a parade to represent Riversgate church during "Multnomah Village Days," (as in "hey, you're a theatre major - so you know how to build that sort of thing, don't you?" ).

We put a bunch of kids, and the church's band on the float - the lead singer and guitarist is this young guy and he really is so good - and did an amazing cover of "Oh Happy Day," the old Edwin Hawkins Singers gospel hit from the seventies. Lots of rainbows and clouds and a big globe surrounded by white crepe paper doves hanging on fishing line around it. Cheesy but very pretty and colorful, I think. It was a hit. We threw candy at the hordes and beach balls that looked like globes. We even made some "ribbon dancer" things and gave them to the elderly ladies to twirl so they could walk alongside the float with them. I think they were the cutest.
People along the route were waving and clapping and dancing along and had huge grins on their faces - they seem to really appreciate our effort. It's a very liberal neighborhood, and usually whenever people in it get together, it's for a peace rally or a candlelight vigil or a fundraiser for Neighborhood House, a local charity. It was refreshing to just be able to think about something frivolous and fun for a change, and people commented about that. I'm glad I was involved, and the kids loved it.

What was really cool was how everyone showed up to help put the thing together the night before - about fifty people, which is about a fourth of the church. We had a barbeque, and rows of little girls lined up to make crepe paper butterflies and the boys were cutting lengths of crepe paper for moms and dads to glue onto cardboard while others were outside wrapping a 16 ft flatbed trailer with a mile of - yes - crepe paper. Everyone was laughing and joking and getting to know each other that much better. I was a little stressed with keeping things organized and fielding questions, but it was so satisfying in the end to see people get together and pull it off.

The next day at worship the mood was truly celebratory - lots of new faces were there as well. I love my church, the people in it, and I love how it pulls my community together once in a while. It's also a chance to do a little street/performance art that challenges people's assumptions about religion - especially when there are so many different colors of people involved together in an otherwise racially-charged city.
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Old 08-25-2005, 05:31 PM   #155
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That's funny because the pharasee's (spelling) were also experts...remember what jebus said about them? Huh?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Coffee
oh...and...I suppose it would be helpful to know if you are an "expert" on Christianity or if your answers are a layman's understanding of his faith. Did you attend a bible college? Do you have credentials, or an enthusiastic amateur? It would be helpful to know that to guage how much salt to add to our reading of your answers.
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Old 08-25-2005, 09:01 PM   #156
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Yeah, he said they were like white-washed tombs. I think he also called them a "brood of vipers." It pissed him off because the prideful Pharisees placed all these heavy burdens on the people to fulfill every single jot and tittle of all the complicated Jewish laws about every aspect of their lives (diet, cleanliness, sacrificial offerings, strict observance of special days and yearly cycles) but had no mercy, love or forgiveness in their own hearts.

They take an especially heavy hit in Jesus' parable about the good Samaritan. One of them crosses the road to avoid a wounded man, ultimately leaving him in a ditch to die, for all he knew. Jesus pointed out that it took a despised, "unclean" Samaritan to do the right thing - beautifully cutting through the dogma and religiosity to illustrate that it doesn't really matter how you worship God - that God is pleased and glorified by these acts of kindness no matter who is performing them.

I think it was a Pharisee, anyway. Not being an expert, I'm far too lazy to check on it right this moment. I prefer to just shoot my mouth off, thanks.
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Old 08-25-2005, 09:03 PM   #157
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That reminds me - was Ron Price "Tiki Stanley" in disguise?????

Last edited by Brynn : 08-25-2005 at 09:09 PM. Reason: Hell, Billy, I dunno!
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Old 08-26-2005, 07:15 PM   #158
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I have one question. Actually it is a dilemma. I've been to 3 churches in my life. They all taught different doctrines. For instance, the church that I go to now is a tongue-speaking church, but I remember both of my past churches having called tongue-speaking churches cults. Also, those two church's doctrines conflict also. One says that people should be baptized by leading the person's head backwards into the water while the other church says that it should be done by leading the person's head forward. I'm confused. Which church has the right doctrines?
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Old 08-26-2005, 08:07 PM   #159
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It IS hard to keep track of the discrepancies, and then to know which doctrines god actually wants you to follow, ain't it?

Perhaps this short video will help you understand how various churches treat at least one major topic of transgression. All the best of luck with your dilemmae!

This Week in God - "Compari-Sin"
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Old 08-27-2005, 06:16 AM   #160
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^^^Saw it. I love that feature of "The Daily Show."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcpon
I'm confused. Which church has the right doctrines?
Does it really make a difference? I mean, why the fuss? I've got my preferences, but it's largely cultural more than anything.
Personally, I think it's bogus to go around telling people that this practice is "cultish" and that practice is "wrong" and oh - "the Catholics are just idolators" and "the Episcopalians are just lazy Catholics" and "everybody's wrong but us - we're the only ones doing it the right way." That kind of focus is on anything that will distract someone from communioning with God in whatever way is easiest and most meaningful for them. Do you really think God cares as long as the intentions of the heart are sincere?

The Gospel is simple - and it's been simple ever since Christ was delivered by a virgin in a dirty barn. Believe in your heart that he paid the price for your wrongdoings with his own spotless life, and that God raised him from the dead "and you shall be saved." Unless I'm reading the Bible wrong, that is it. It's a bare minimum kind of thing. A person's also got to own it and confess it publicly instead of skulking around secretly and playing both sides of the fence.

I'm tired of people from one group or another making pronouncements about who they think is probably going to hell. It's none of their business, and they really have no say in the matter when all is said and done, do they? If you like to pray in tongues, pray in tongues. If you prefer to sprinkle instead of dunk, you've got your reasons, for crying out loud. God's grace is big enough to cover all of it, I would hope.

When Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at the well, she tried to draw him into an argument about how the Samaritans worshipped vs. the Jews and what mountain was holiest. But Jesus cut right through that crap and basically said "You've got bigger problems in your life to worry about than that. You've been married five times, and the guy you're with now isn't even your husband. What's up with that? Let's go get that stuff in order first."
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Old 08-27-2005, 11:53 PM   #161
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What happend to the guy who started this thread?

What happened to the guy who started this thread?
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Old 08-28-2005, 02:44 AM   #162
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God smited him, the poor putz.

You be careful now, Mcp. Don't upset the Big Guy.
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Old 08-28-2005, 09:00 AM   #163
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynn
The Gospel is simple - and it's been simple ever since Christ was delivered by a virgin in a dirty barn. Believe in your heart that he paid the price for your wrongdoings with his own spotless life, and that God raised him from the dead "and you shall be saved."
and that's the problem, i can't believe in those things. you might just as well ask me to believe in the flying spaghetti monster. and because i can't believe in something so illogical i am not to be saved. it doesn't matter to me because i don't believe it, but it's a problem when people who do believe it start to make decisions that affect my life.

and what about parsley? what's up with that?
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Old 08-28-2005, 04:32 PM   #164
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!!! You don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster Craig?! Infidel! You are sooo going to stick together with other non-believers in the great not-quite-boiling-yet pot deep in the ground. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the "spirit" not quite manifest of the Great Pasta Maker. Those that believe in him shall be al dente.

I believe, with out proof, and thus shall be al dente, and smothered in the sauce of goodness of Great Pasta Maker when I am dead and dried and put away till it is my time to boil.
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Old 08-28-2005, 07:03 PM   #165
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