November 3rd, 2007


Continued From Last Rock Part 1

This is a local copy of a post I just made in 365jesus. I just wanted to keep my own copy.

To avoid confusion, this is a continuation of this discussion started in this post. When greeneggsandtam started responding to this, she found that she had to break up her response into 6 fragments, and so suggested we continue in this community.

I'm going to need to support my statements with a certain amount of research, so I'm likely only going to be responding to part 1 here.

1) The phrase "I'd rather be wrong in the end by believing than taking a risk by not" has a slight hint of Pascal's Wager to it. The cited article does a better rundown of the problems with the concept than I could, but I'd simply like to point out the usual fallacy in this type of argument: Most people will think of the question of following their own set of beliefs - or not.

For example, a Catholic would see the wager as a reason to go to Mass, while a Muslim would see it as a reason to always perform the five requisite daily prayers. From which one can begin to see that the problem is one of "betting" on one of a nearly infinite number of possible beliefs, most of which contradict each other.

The wager becomes something more like a dart throw from a plane about a mile up.

As far as the whole thing about "feel" is concerned - that's probably the best word. If I understand what you're saying, you feel anchored, and have an absolute frame of reference for the world. While there are emotional components, I'd say that's more of a sensation than an emotion.

You've largely described one of the huge advantages to having any type of dogmatic viewpoint: That sensation of knowing precisely where you are and what you need to do. I've read in a couple of places (I unfortunately don't have the citations) that this is a possible reason for an evolutionary advantage to religious belief. Social groups bonded by such beliefs tend to show more altruistic behavior, resulting in benefits for the group as a whole.

2) There are Christians and Christians, m'dear. This country accounts for quite a number of biblical literalists. For example (from that same article), 47.8% of evangelical protestants and 11% of mainline protestants believe the bible is literally true.

Those numbers are a little fuzzy, because pretty much all Christians pick and choose to some extent. Again, from the same article, few people believe the earth is flat and sitting on pillars. I hope.

Still, I will agree with you that most Christians are not literalists, and believe that the stories in the bible are largely allegorical. Which I think allows for a much saner mind - just for an example, I gather Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order of creation. Attempting to reconcile that sort of contradiction does things to one.

And there are quite a number of Christian scientists (As opposed to Christian Scientists, which are another breed entirely...). Though I have to say... Irreducible Complexity? Really, dear? It's amazing to me how a few fanatics can call themselves scientists, repackage creationism by labeling it "intelligent design" (which, though not even matching the definition of a hypothesis, is somehow a "theory"), and sell it to a credulous public that will then go on about a "multitude of publications." There certainly is no such multitude in any of the serious peer-reviewed journals.

You can read about the evolution of the eye here. If you're tired of me quoting Wikipedia (One does need to take them with a grain of salt, but somehow they have the most understandable articles), you can try here.

If the eye were the result of a designer, by the way, we would have some right to complain about the engineering. The nerves that carry the signal to the brain reside, for no good reason, on the top of the retina. They're reasonably transparent, but because of the position, the bundle has to punch through the retina somewhere to join the optic nerve. Hence the blind spot.

You can follow up on some of the other details of I.D. (Incompetent Design) here.

And that's all I got for today. Even I have to sleep sometime. I'll hopefully be able to get to items 3 through 8 shortly.
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Here's the only photographic evidence of the dress I wore for the show on the day after Halloween:

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sjgrrrl kindly provided me with a copy. Though it doesn't show all of the skirt portion. A short flouncy thing that swishes quite nicely.

It's probably for the best.
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