Secularist's Favorite Body Part

For years, the appendix has been many secularists favorite body part...if you don't count the body parts you can use to abort babies.

The appendix's popularity has been mainly because the organ's perceived uselessness was thought to be evidence of a Godless universe. If God created man, they'd ask why would He have given man a useless organ. And because of this, it was evidence not only of a godless universe but it also proved evolution. Hey, at least they found a use for the appendix.

Take for example this essay on the useless organ by The Surgeon's Blog:
In the appendix, we have a thing within us of no demonstrable value, but which is capable of doing us great harm. People may argue at the edges, but there are two things we know with central certainty: the presence of the appendix kills a lot of people or makes them real sick, and its absence is of absolutely no consequence. Evidently, that's a threat to the concept of intelligent design/creationism...By its existence, the lowly and useless appendix would seem to deal a fatal blow to the idea (at least Ken Ham's version) of Intelligent Design. Slain, by that ignoble worm, that surgeons'sidekick, my midnight mistress. If you deny evolution, then you have to say the designer wasn't paying attention, says the appendix to my scalpel; or the designer acted deliberately to stick within us something which serves only to harm. Even more scary. Unless, of course, you're a general surgeon.
Ah you see, the appendix delivered the fatal blow until...this shock of shocks. It turns out that the appendix isn't all that useless. The Examiner says:
Some scientists are now saying that the appendix could be useful in battling disease. It may serve "as a vital safehouse where good bacteria could lie in wait until they were needed to repopulate the gut after a nasty case of diarrhea." Other studies have indicated "the appendix can help make, direct and train white blood cells."
Hey, you silly God-lover I know that this new science would seem to deliver a fatal blow to the useless-appendix-delivering-a-fatal-blow-to-God argument.

But you'd be wrong.

Now, the appendix's usefulness is the latest and greatest evidence of a Godless universe and of evolution.

Weird Science reports:
Poor Darwin -- everyone's always pointing out his mistakes. But somehow, his theory that animals evolved from common ancestors is stronger and more confirmed than ever.
OK. So when the appendix was useless it was evidence of evolution and when it's shown to have a use it's...guess what...evidence of evolution.

Now, I have no problem with accepting some amount of evolution among species but many proponents of the theory believe that macro-evolution makes God useless in the process of creation. That's right, many secular evolutionists see God as the appendix of the universe. We can only pray that they too one day discover God and his very real and loving purpose.


  1. I don't really see how the appendix being useless disproves God's existence nor how the appendix having a function proves it. Evolution is a question of science - the study of empirical evidence. God is not matter; His existence is a question of metaphysics. I don't see how any scientific discovery could prove or disprove God. The conclusion some people reach that an irrefutable proof of evolution would mean that all of creation is random and purposeless (and Godless) is both bad science and bad metaphysics.

    We should take this for what it is - an interesting scientific discovery about appendixes.

  2. Many secularists have no interest in science. They embrace it only when they think it backs up their political agenda.

    Look at how the argue that abortion isn't the death of a human life despite the scientific evidence that it is doing exactly that.

  3. Religious people are afraid of evolutionary biology because the evidence shows supernatural intervention was totally unnecessary to create the diversity of life on Earth. A useless god is a god that probably doesn't exist.

    In my opinion the appendix in people is not the best example of a vestigial organ. A better example are the legs, feet, and toes found in fossils of ancient whales, which is powerful evidence for the idea that whales developed from land animals.

    The most powerful evidence for the evolution of whales from land animals is from molecular biology. A comparison of DNA sequences of whales and hippos shows beyond any doubt these two species share an ancestor. Similar evidence has repeatedly shown beyond any doubt that people and chimps share an ancestor.

    Evolution is fact. The gods who were invented to solve scientific problems are obsolete, including the Christian god that people continue to waste their time worshiping.

    Not to worry. Understanding reality is many times more rewarding than believing in mythical supernatural creatures.

    "We can only pray that they too one day discover God and his very real and loving purpose."

    Loving purpose? It's pathetic that religious people think they know so much about their imaginary friend, that of course doesn't have one shred of evidence. It's all just wishful thinking and a total ignorance of modern scientific discoveries.

  4. "Religious people are afraid of evolutionary biology..."

    Actually, here is a religious person who isn't afraid at all of evolutionary biology. I support it and would even go so far as to support macro evolution AND I'm a believing Catholic.

    Just like I have no problem in believing in cosmology (which I studied in college) or for that matter paint theory while believing that a painter exists.

    Science is the study of HOW something came about, religion is the study of WHO. Whether or not evolution is true is of little consequence to the question "does God exist". Much like how "does blue and yellow make green" matters little when considering whether the painter exists.

  5. Sometimes I feel sorry for the scoffers. Every time they boldy and dogmatically (with as much fervor and sense as any fundamentalist) claim that proof of the non-existence of God is just around the corner, a story like this gives them a kick in the shin.

  6. Christina, that's good that you accept the facts of evolution. That means you're an educated person.

    But now you have a bit of a problem. If you really understand evolution, then you know that people are one of the modern ape species. Therefore all humans are apes, an ape with a very large brain, but still just an ape. So of course Mr. Jesus Christ was an ape. Therefore you worship an ape. Why?

    By the way, I'm a bit less hostile towards Catholics than I used to be, because I'm currently nuts about a young Catholic lady I work with. She also accepts evolution and our evolutionary relationship with the other modern ape species, but she still, for some strange reason, thinks there is some separation between human apes and the other animals. Lots of wishful thinking in my opinion.

  7. Bobxxxx,

    Since you're so proudly an ape, do you spend your time in trees, picking lice and eating bananas?

    Why ever not, if we (apes) are all the same?

    Can you produce one example in nature of an entire species developing an advanced communications network that can reach all over the world and into space? Can you produce an example of a species that is able to cure almost any disease to their species on the macro level? An example of a single species whose greatest predator is, in fact, the species itself? How about a species who continually construct buildings that will last for thousands of years?

    And, btw, I don't think it's going to get that young lady to jump into bed with you ('cause isn't that really all apes are interested in?) to call her an ape. You could try it, though.

  8. "If you really understand evolution, then you know that people are one of the modern ape species."

    Yes, according to evolution our bodies come from the ape species, which was begotten of primate bar-amoeba. However there is something different about these human primates; they have tools and art and this strange concept of "ought". While other species may have tools (the monkeys use sticks to dig for ants), art (a birds elaborate nest), or a concept of instinct; none of these come even close to a three year old human's ability and testiness.

    What does this difference come from? How does evolution alone explain the opposition you feel to "worshiping an ape" as you put it? How does evolution explain evil?

  9. The most fascinating thing about evolution, besides the logical inherent impossibility of Darwinian evolution (adaptation is not proof of evolution, natch), is how all of the evidence really can be used for either side. We are all connected by DNA, therefore evolution exists. Or, you know, Intelligent Design exists. So what makes the difference in viewing the evidence? Arrogance. Like Bobx (sorry Bobx, I'm just going off your posts here) who thinks, "The world is not how I would have created it if I were God, therefore God does not exist."

    The Evolution debate, at its heart, is really just the natural world manifestation of the problem of evil. Not that I mind, it's a problem that Christianity can face but not truly conquer on this side of existence, and so always worthy of respect in those that doubt the faith. I just wish people would understand that this makes Evolution a philosophical good time, and stop sullying the good name of Science.

  10. Mouse asked a good question: Since you're so proudly an ape, do you spend your time in trees, picking lice and eating bananas?

    When I was a kid I climbed trees all the time. I still eat a banana every day. Fortunately I don't have any lice problem, but millions of people have had this problem, even in America. Human apes are not so different from our chimpanzee ape cousins. We have just as much in common as we have differences. For example, altruism has frequently been observed in chimpanzees. Also, chimps can occasionally be violent, which unfortunately is a common problem with human apes.

    By the way you are correct to say I'm proud to be an ape. I can't imagine anything more interesting than to know I'm just an animal who has distant cousins who live in forests and oceans. I'm glad I'm part of nature, and not separate from it.

    William wrote about "The Evolution debate".

    Sorry William. There is no debate. Evolution is as much a fact as our planet's orbit around our Sun. Ask any biologist if you don't believe me.

    Christina asked "How does evolution explain evil?"

    The evolution idea only explains the development of new species. I don't think it says anything about evil, except I noticed people who are annoying and disgusting were raised by their parents to be that way.

    Christina also wrote "However there is something different about these human primates; they have tools and art and this strange concept of 'ought'."

    Chimps have been observed using a stick (a primitive tool) to extract termites for their lunch. Our species does not have a monopoly on intelligence. Perhaps dolphins are as intelligent as we are, but they don't live on land and don't have hands. We have what it takes to do some amazing things (which unfortunately includes destroying the planet and wiping out entire species) but we are still nothing more than apes.

    Our ability to visit the moon, cure diseases, and understand how our species developed, does not make us anything more than an animal.

    Back to William who wrote "the logical inherent impossibility of Darwinian evolution"

    This is why religions are so harmful to people. Just look at William. He thinks he's smarter than all the world's biologists, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. Religions are good for nothing but slowing down human progress. The sooner the world rids itself of these medieval superstitions the better.

  11. Bobx,

    You conveniently ignored most of my post. I've copied the relevant parts for you to respond to.

    Can you produce one example in nature of an entire species developing an advanced communications network that can reach all over the world and into space? Can you produce an example of a species that is able to cure almost any disease to their species on the macro level? An example of a single species whose greatest predator is, in fact, the species itself? How about a species who continually construct buildings that will last for thousands of years?

    And, btw, I don't think it's going to get that young lady to jump into bed with you ('cause isn't that really all apes are interested in?) to call her an ape. You could try it, though.

    As you your being an ape, does this mean you don't have a paying job, because you're so busy being an ape? Your simian cousins don't have careers or deadlines or responsibilities, so why should you, if you believe yourself so close in nature to them?

    Thanks in advance for responding to all my points. (do your ape cousins type?)

  12. Bob XXX, how does such an atheist as yourself describe the origens of love and exceptional altruism as is sometimes seen in the case of complete strangers coming to the rescue of someone in need?

    Other species have similar traits to us, yes, which is why I believe (and rationally think) evolution is a great explaination of the HOW of things, but WHY this perfect storm of intelligence, coordination and social structure which is so abundantly present in our species?

    It's not the how's that I'm interested in, it's the WHY. How do you explain your reason for existence, your purpose in life and place in the universe? How do you explain your own uniqueness and individuality (even other species contain individuals with their own personalities- ever own a dog or cat?)? If we're all just a pile of apes, what reasons (WHYS) do you tell yourself in the darkest night that give you the strength to push on in the next day?

    Religion and science should never have to disagree- both at their heart are the pursuit of truth. Truth in science is the great HOW. Truth in religion (atheism is a religion- you have your own set beliefs and tenets you hold to be true) explains the WHY and the WHO behind everything that is in existance.

    Also, how would atheism exist without the original theism it apothesizes?

    Please answer- this debate is very stimulating!

  13. Bob,

    "The evolution idea only explains the development of new species. I don't think it says anything about evil, except I noticed people who are annoying and disgusting were raised by their parents to be that way."

    So then how do you explain evil? Give me an explanation for Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Abortions, etc. What is atheism's explanation for the revulsion I feel when I hear of children being rapped in Africa (unconnected with my blood line, tribe or group). Or the old and frail or sick (who weaken the genetic lines) being left to die. Why does my stomach turn - what genetics are a play when I feel guilt and shame for doing nothing?

    Catholicism gives me an explanation, and it's truth cuts deep and I don't like it all that much. It hits home too much, it forces me to look inside myself for the answer to evil.

    Is Atheism's only explanation a virtual shrug? A passing of the buck to all religions? Where does religion come from? If we evolved to need religion - isn't removing it a bad thing?

    What answers does Atheism have, again I ask, what answers can you give?

  14. Yes, point well taken, Bobx, religion is evil. Whelp! I think we're done here. If I wanted to have a conversation with an arrogant young punk, I'd find a mirror. It'd get just as much done.

    ...this is especially funny because I've written a play about Darwin since I think it's unfair he's never had a definitive dramatic work, I just decided to stop pursuing it because having it published by a Conservative Catholic who believes in Intelligent Design would just confuse the heck out of everyone.

    But the man was a bridge between Science being for men of faith and Science being for men without it, and it's very fascinating to see how being a "Gentleman," bridged the gap.

    If any regular reader of the blog is interested (and has the time to read a rough, still has a couple of holes work), I'd pass it along. There's no bias to it (do you trust me >_> ?), really it's more of a cliffnotes to the definitive two thousand page biography, which got pretty much everything right about him except for the importance of his last words, "I'm not afraid of death, and you were a good wife," but there's actually a lesser known book that supplements the understanding of this while debunking Lady Hope's "Deathbed Confession," Spoiler: He said he appreciated Christians, not that he was one, and the Americans got confused after that.

    Uh... I'm going to stop now. This will only get longer.

  15. Sarah asked: "Also, how would atheism exist without the original theism it apothesizes?"

    In a perfect world there would be no need for the word "atheist" because there would be no theists.

    Christina asked: "What answers does Atheism have, again I ask, what answers can you give?"

    Atheism only means "not theism". Atheists don't believe in any gods. They do not necessarily have anything else in common, except perhaps the ability to recover from religious indoctrination.

    So atheism says nothing about everything else. Atheism is just an acceptance of reality.

    You keep talking about evil. All I can say is it's a bad thing. I like to think I'm a good person, so I don't think I'm part of the problem. For people who don't care about anyone else, and for people who are willing to commit crimes just to make a buck, we have police, courts, and prisons. Perhaps it's easier for chimps, who would probably just kill another chimp if he was disrupting the lives of others.

    The reason I'm an atheist is because I'm convinced that all gods were invented only to answer questions that can now be answered by scientists without the god hypothesis. Also, "God" is just another word for "Magic", and I think it's a bit childish to pretend magic can be real.

    William, religions make some people evil. Just look at the never ending violence in the Middle East. Throw out all religions, and they wouldn't have such an easy excuse to kill each other. They might kill each other anyway, because they're stupid, but religion just makes everything worse.

    Another problem with religion, the problem I'm most interested in, is the tendency of many Christians to reject any scientific discoveries that conflict with the insane gibberish in their worthless Bible. How is this nation ever going to keep its lead in scientific progress if we are teaching students to throw out modern biology because it conflicts with the childish creation myths in Genesis?

    Look it guys and girls. I work 7 nights a week. I would like to continue this, but I might have to wait until tomorrow because I need to get some sleep.

  16. And Mouse said..... something you didn't have a glib answer for. Got it.

  17. Dear Bob, you fail to make a compelling argument. You say that evolution means we worship an ape. But we already scandalously worship a man as God - so what's your point? You can't out-scandal the incarnation - it's pure blasphemy and idolatry.

    I don't know why you think evolution would in any way change a Catholic's faith. Catholics are free to believe, disbelieve, or be agnostic toward evolution as they see fit.

  18. I don't really see how the appendix being useless disproves God's existence

    Right, the appendix could well have had a use before the Fall.

  19. And then, of course, there is the fact that Christianity lies at the root of modern scientific thought in the very notion that the world is rational and subject to scientific enquiry, as MB Foster argued in Mind in 1930, and as others (Christians and non-Christians: See for an example of the latter, Amos Funkenstein's Theology and the Scientific Imagination) have since shown in varying levels of detail with just about every single scientific theory of the last few hundred years.

    One of the most fascinating episodes in the history of physics is the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, which is both thoroughly theological, and thoroughly scientific.

    Part of the point also is how one can maintain any notion of evil if one has no external reference. I mean, pain is just pain, and botches are just botches, and death is just death, and violence just violence. People killing each other in the Middle East is just people killing each other in the Middle East. What makes it good or evil? "Facts" (though I don't want to buy into the empiricist version of the word) are not good or evil. They are just "facts", and ideas of good and evil deriving from one particular point of view or another (and in the modern world they are incompatible, mutually hostile points of view) cannot be imposed. To impose my view of good and evil on someone else is merely an arbitrary exercise of the will, unless there were some transcendent good and evil: A child's death, or a rape, or mindless violence, is a tragedy, not a "fact." And tragedy is intrinsically a religious concept.

    One can likewise make an argument about beauty. It is, to my mind at least, patently ridiculous to insist that Andy Warhol is just as beautiful as Rembrandt, or that Britney Spears is as good as Bach. And again, no amount of listing of facts will explain "why" these facts add up to anything at all.

    And lastly, one can make the same argument about Truth, as I realized paradoxically, reading Quine's Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Scientific theories in the modern sense don't make large scale claims about the truth of things. They don't need to do so, and indeed in some sense, their incommensurability, and incompatibility argues against such claims. What is necessary is that they work. They add up. But then there is the odd question: Why do they work? Is the world reliable, and regular? Does it have a point?

    To all of these questions, one can indeed answer that there is no truth, or beauty or goodness, and I can't "prove" to you that such an answer would be a bad one. But the alternative is reasonable, and I think more so. In the end, faith is a gift, and reason leads to it. Reason neither subsumes it, nor is it itself subsumed by it.

  20. By the way, neither Huxley nor Darwin were consistently atheists, agnostics perhaps, certainly not orthodox Christians, but not atheists in the same sense as Dawkins. Many of the strongest of the supporters of evolution were Catholics (William Seton, for instance, or Bishop Hedley in England, or John Henry Newman, or the French Dominican, M-D Leroy) or orthodox Anglicans (Charles Kingsley), and some of the people who found evolution most difficult to accept were of a secular background. The eminent geologist, Charles Lyell, for instance, had refused to accept evolution, precisely because it implied a developmentalism, a kind of Christian providential world-view. See, for this, Hookyas, Natural Law and Divine Miracle, Fact, Faith, and Fiction in the Development of Science, and Religion and the Rise of Modern Science. Even Wilberforce's main problem with evolution was that, as it then stood, it didn't have a mechanism, and didn't seem to be substantiated by the evidence provided. See, for a discussion of this JR Lucas' Wilberforce and Huxley: A Legendary Encounter And guess what, it was a Catholic Augustinian friar, Mendel, who provided the mechanism, just as it was a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, who came up with the Big Bang theory.

    And by the way, far from asserting God as a "scientific hypothesis" to solve natural problems, the major stream of Catholic theology, coming from Augustine to Aquinas, and down to Newman, argued that God was not a thing in the universe, that God is (as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 said) unlike anything we picture him to be (or in technical terms, "between the Creator and the creature there cannot be a likeness so great that the unlikeness is not greater"). And it was Catholics like Aquinas and Augustine (which is of course, not to deny the work of Jews like Maimonides, or Islamic philosophers such as Averroes and Avicenna) who held to the validity of natural causes, the explicability of the world, the need for natural sciences, a sphere of autonomy for the natural sciences, and so on. So, any scientist owes some thanks to the Church. There!

  21. Good post Kiran - I was just going to list all the Catholic scientists I knew of, but yours is better.

    As a follow up to Bob, I keep talking about evil because I KNOW it exists and atheism just doesn't give an answer. It can't explain why it exists, why it's bad, why it even matters at all. That's a major short coming in your belief.

    The reason I'm a Catholic is because it's TRUE. I studied science and had several atheist professors, all their arguments (and yours) are based on bad history, bad theology and bad logic. I looked to Catholicism and I found Truth. Truth that fit with history, Truth that fit with logic and Truth that actually fit with what I had experienced in life.

    Among my Catholic acquaintances I know 2 chemists, 1 physicist, 1 bio-physicist, 1 partial astrophysicist (me - bachelors only), 3 astronomers, 1 neurosurgeon, 1 doctor (unknown specialty), 3 nurses, 1 pharmacist, and about half a dozen engineers off the top of my head. It's hard to say that all these scientists have rejected science.

  22. Actually, Darwin was an atheist and his theory was indeed born out of a desire to make sense of the "Tooth and Claw" nature of the world. The fact that his friend Charles Lyell withheld full endorsement of evolution was always a disappointment to him.

    This isn't common knowledge because the Darwin family chose to hide the fact since, as an atheist, Darwin wasn't an exceptional one, just run of the mill "I saw the world and knew God was dead" stuff. They didn't release personal letters that addressed the fact until his granddaughter decided to do so in... the 1960's, I believe, but there's the collaborative evidence of his funding American atheist pamphlets "just for fun" since he didn't care about his reputation over here. When his family decided to keep his "faith" under wraps... oh, who was it, Francis or Lenard... well, one of his sons requested that the groups stop using his name.

    However, Darwin was never a fan of the atheists that knocked on his door and socially was very Christian in his thoughts. He was terrified of what would happen to his daughters in an atheistic society.

    ANYWAY we're on "Teh Internets" so it won't be easy to back up my claims. Nor do I have a serious interest in proving them. Instead, I'll leave you with the very easy to google fact that Thomas Huxley in fact GAVE us the term "Agnostic," used originally to define his views while defending Darwin. In fact, I think Huxley's book on Evolution was little more than a dire penny novel at the time, exciting the audiences with tales of "Horrifying Gorillas" attacking this and that. But I might be crossing people there, so, you know, feel free to enjoy a grain of salt with that tidbit too.

  23. Oh yes. Huxley did come up with the word agnostic. Actually, Darwin's original book, and I even think his notebooks, show a kind of vague Deism. He did later gradually eliminate such Deism, and the intrinsic finality that existed in the early versions, but that was just a case of bad theology being replaced by none. That said, I don't think his initial motivation had anything to do with the problem of evil. This became a big issue later on, and implied a move away from aesthetics as well as from theology. If he did become an atheist, I don't think he started out as such. He started out as a Paleyan, who slowly got rid of more and more aspects of Paley.

    Christine, you are welcome. I am actually giving a talk on this subject soon, so the information was at hand. I was thinking this afternoon, that one of the reasons why I accept evolutionary theories (which are much wider than Darwinism, which again is something else than what Darwin initially came up with: Darwinism like any other scientific theory has evolved since its initial presentation) is precisely because, as an Augustinian Thomist, I hold to the validity of natural causality. Even if the world was created in 6 days, 6000 years ago, one would still need to give an account of how this happened. Actually, before becoming Catholic, I tended to take evolutionary theories very sceptically. It was Thomas who convinced me, not of the truth of evolutionary theories, because I don't believe it makes sense to say of a modern scientific theory that it gives us truth (and this holds just as much of QM and Relativity, and Newtonian Mechanics, and Thermodynamics, and everything else), but of its explanatory validity. And ultimately, it is Catholicism that makes sense of the incredible truth that the world makes sense. In my own day-to-day life teaching undergraduates, I find that Catholics are just about the only ones who believe this any more, who also know a bit about just how messy the genesis of scientific theories can be.

  24. I should add that before I came to the Faith, I was an Anglican, and before that an agnostic, and before that, an atheist. So, I don't hold the Catholic Faith, which I do through the mercy of God, because I don't know the alternatives, but simply because I found the alternatives either incomplete, or wrong.

    And I suppose that there was something of right in all the alternatives, even atheism: The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who became incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead, and left us his Holy Spirit in His One, True, and Holy Church and Himself in His Sacraments, is not the god that atheists deny, for instance. And that God thunderously affirms something which I am sorely tempted (not out of humility) sometimes to deny - that I have a fundamental dignity, both as a human being, and as a Christian, and so does every human being: Because each of us is beloved of God.

  25. Kiran,

    You rock!

    Do you do this sort of thing for fun?

  26. Christina said... "As a follow up to Bob, I keep talking about evil because I KNOW it exists and atheism just doesn't give an answer. It can't explain why it exists, why it's bad, why it even matters at all. That's a major short coming in your belief."

    You're forgetting that I don't have any beliefs. I demand strong evidence before I accept any idea, and your god creature doesn't have a shred of it.

    Not believing in your Magic Fairy doesn't say anything about evil or anything else. So what? I know what to do with evil. I avoid it. If I can't avoid it, I'm willing to kill to defend myself. There really isn't anything else to say about it.

    Kiran, I was starting to think you were pretty smart until I read this idiotic insane nonsense: "and on the third day rose from the dead".

    You got any evidence for that disgusting idea? I mean besides some dead gullible witnesses?

    Christianity is a death cult, and it's probably the most stupid invention in human history, or it's at least equally as dumb as Judaism and Islam.

    Just imagine the Jesus ape decomposing for three days. The smell must have been horrible. And, you, Kiran, for some extremely strange reason, believe this stinking corpse came back to life.

    It's just horrible what religions do to people.

  27. A question for believers in Mr. God, who also accept the facts of evolution.

    Where do you hide your god-of-the-gaps? In other words, what scientific problem do you invoke your magic fairy to solve it?

    Some god nuts like to stick their magic man just before the Big Bang, knowing that it's safe there, at least for now.

    If you don't invoke your invisible friend for anything, why do you bother with it?

    Also, do any of you ever doubt some of the more insane ideas of Christianity, especially the Resurrection, which is really nothing more than a belief in zombies.

    I'll check in later. Thanks.

  28. Bob,

    RE: "I know what to do with evil. I avoid it."

    I'm not asking what to do about it, but how atheism explains it. If we're nothing more than evolved apes then why don't we all do what we ought to do? Or, if we are doing what we ought, why do I feel any sense of evil? At most I should feel a sense of self preservation and move away from a threat. The repugnance I feel makes no sense.

    RE: "God of the Gaps"

    I think you're forgetting that you're talking to Catholics, we don't believe in a god of the gaps. Perhaps an analogy would help.

    Lets say there is a painter painting a great picture. There is a scientist nearby who is carefully recording, measuring and analyzing how the painting is being made. He can describe how each muscle is being moved, how the paint colors being mixed create new, the theory behind putting a chalk line first, etc.

    Now, there are some who might worry about where the painter comes in, who try to put him in his brain (until that is explained) or regulate him to the air between the brush and the canvas. However, it's silly to try to sever the painter from the act of painting.

    In a similar way, Catholics see God as intimately involved in creation. We don't see him as a fairy or a invisible friend, but a creator. Science can sit and describe HOW He is creating all it wants, it's fascinating. In fact, we believe that God uses creation to create - so the Catholic scientists are constantly seeking to understand the laws and process by which God creates (ie - evolution, gravitation, cosmology, neurology, etc). Kiran mentioned St Thomas - you should read up on him and learn more about our God, for the god you describe isn't who we worship.

    RE: "rose from the dead"

    Yup, we believe that. It apparently bothers you that someone as smart as Kiran believes in something that seems so bizarre. There is actually quite a bit of evidence for it. Here is an article from This Rock that discusses some of the evidence.

    One thing to keep in mind - if someone is logical and intelligent and then says one thing that seems insane, perhaps it's better to approach it from the standpoint of "I wonder what their reasons are for believing this insane thing - perhaps it's not as crazy as it seems" rather then "I guess they aren't so smart after all".

  29. Bob, I'm going to set aside the deeply insulting language of your posts to answer your "questions" posed on non-personal, scientific level.

    If you like science and look for scientific proof of the Ressurection, do some serious study of the Shroud of Turin. The scientific studies were done by a team of scientists headed by a devout Jewish scientist who did not hold to the divinity of Christ and frankly would have liked to disprove it in anyway possible. He's still Jewish to this day- just to show you his objectivity (obstinance, however you look at it).

    If the Shroud will not prove to you Christ's divinity, at least I hope it offers some scientific theory or explanation for the Resurrection- enough for you to use more respectful language about it.

    As to the stench of His body after three days in the tomb, have you ever heard of the incorruptible bodies of saints? Do a google search on it- these folks were very holy, lived very altruistic lives faithful to the Church. I think the most famous is St. Catherine of Sienna (died before modern embalming practices- sometime in the 1300's) who remains uncorrupt to this day. If people we hold as mere mortals were allowed to remain incorrupt for hundreds of years (without mumification), it stands to reason there is a possiblity that the holiest Person on earth could have remained free of decay for three days.

    Remember too- Christ was not a zombie when risen- He ate bread and fish with His disciples (he even throws a bbq for Peter at the Sea of Galilee). What zombie do you know of cooks and eats with his friends?

    Also, as an engineer (materials engineer) familiar with thermodynamics, quantum theory, theory of relativity and evolution, I find there to be few gaps in my scientific education for which I would need to use God as a crutch. (Not claiming mastery of these theories, but familiarity of them,) Again, it's not the HOW that originally interested me in the faith, it's the WHY. All my long quest through my college education in science for the ANSWER to the WHY we're here and what is our purpose could not be fully answered in Science. (I've only been Catholic for 5 years now- I was an agnostic previously.)

    In other words, reason lead me to faith for the explanation of our purpose on earth- love. I'll take love over avoiding evil, eating and procreating like a mere purposeless ape.

  30. I have a favorite atheist whose name I will withhold, who is a Rhodes scholar and absolutely riveting to listen to as he expounds on politics and history. I happened to catch him in a conversation with a couple who asked him about his faith if any. He mentioned that he was married to a Catholic, and intends to allow the children to be raised Catholic. He attends Mass every Sunday and even reads the readings beforehand (how many Catholics can say they do that?!). But then he said, after all that, at the end of the day, when he asks himself if he believes any of it, the answer that comes back is no, he doesn't. He also made the point that he didn't think his wife was stupid for believing it. He simply didn't believe. He did a lecture on how Jews attitudes toward God changed from Egypt to Babylonian captivity that had obvious implications, but he stuck to evidence and reasonable argumentation and never gave a hint of hostility to faith.

    This is what a reasonable atheist should look like. So, when one comes on using insulting language and straw man arguments, it indicates that something else is going on rather than a mere disagreement.

  31. Bobx,

    I don't expect you to answer this, since you conveniently ignore me.

    However, I would like to ask if you can provide one concrete example of evolution on the micro level, since you so ardently believe in it?

    I can, without even trying, but I want to know if you can see it, too, or if your faith rests on something you cannot prove.

    Also, can you explain this circumstance to me scientifically, since you are oh-so-enlightened and it's a true story.

    A 23-year-old, on their birthday, was driving down a major highway on her commute to work, in a freak blizzard that all the weather outlets had failed to predict. The temperature dropped 12 degrees in 10 minutes and there was a lot of snow and wind. While passing a semi, the driver was going 60 miles per hour in the left-hand lane. The car, an SUV, went into a spin. The driver tried to correct the spin and lost control of the vehicle. The SUV rolled over the highway median and into on-coming traffic, snapping off a large section of guardrail on the other side. The SUV came to rest, driver-side down, in the middel of on-coming traffic. What would be your predictions for a) the driver of the SUV and b)the on-lookers, and why?

    I know this is a true story because I was there.

    Looking forward to your answers.

  32. Actually, Kiran, you're correct on two accounts. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that Darwin hesitated to publish, but finally did because of... whatever that guy's name was. He deliberately decided to couch his terms carefully, even going so far as to letting a pastor write his preface. He didn't become more bold in his assessments until "Descent of Man" when he was getting annoyed at what people were bringing to his theory. Funny enough, people had already put together the dots and weren't very shocked at his book. Also, as long as I'm speaking on this, let me say that there is absolutely no evidence that Anne's death affected Darwin's worldview, despite what some romantic biographies would have us believe. He was a Scientist, after all.

    But what is much less wider known is that he was indeed a half-believing Christian during his voyage on the Beagle, and was known for praising God in his letters to his sisters. He didn't come to not believe until years later after reading books in his study and reflecting on his journey (Including the South American tribe that Fitzroy famously had bad luck with). But like I said before, he always deeply respected what religion did for society, so the overlap of his beliefs does make for interesting stuff.

  33. Dear Bob, what's your scientific explanation for the existence of the universe?

    I'm sure, that since we're both science-loving folks, we both accept that the second law of thermodynamics means that the universe can't be infinite - it must have had a beginning.

    You mentioned the big bang earlier, if we use that as our working theory for the beginning of the universe, we can theoretically trace a cause and effect to show how the matter and forces present in the big bang resulted in me typing at the keyboard today. Great, that's an awe inspiring thought. Question is, what was the cause of the big bang? What made the nothingness explode with matter?

    My hypothesis is that there must be a non-material Cause of the big bang. Do you have some other way of explaining matter coming into existence from nothing?

    P.S. You said that you have no beliefs. That's absurd. We can't know anything without at least having first premises. You have beliefs, you just haven't realized it yet.

  34. And as Kiran said Georges Lemaitre, a Catholic priest, invented the Big Bang theory.

    In fact, with Mendel, Georges Lemaitre, and Newton (yes, yes, Arian, but still) it seems that men of God have a lot more stout in the halls of Science.


    Great posts, by the way guys. Makes me proud to be the dumb one.

  35. Bobx, Umm, wow! You must be the world's best psychiatrist to diagnose my insanity from the other side of the world! What can I say? Well, in actual fact, becoming a Christian and a Catholic did help get rid of my depression. I think you might find that calling people names doesn't get you anywhere. It only convinces people that you don't have any rational arguments to offer for your belief. And considering that this is what you require of other people, that reeks of hypocrisy. And by the way, as Brian Walden said above, there is nothing any blasphemer could say that is anywhere near what Christians dogmatically believe, that the God who created heaven and earth became man, slept among smelly and noisy and dirty cows and sheep, that this same Incarnate Deity hung upon the cross, was beaten and spat upon, and died. It don't get no more yucky than that. Hang on. It does. Let me point out what you are saying: You are saying in contrast, that this putrefaction, this evil, Hitler and Pol Pot, and all the rest, just "are." There is no further aspect to them, no explanation, and no call for one. If Hitler had succeeded that would have been perfectly fine. It is just one human ape killing a whole lot of other human apes. What makes it particularly bad, or worth talking about? Who really cares if you get shot in the head? I prefer to concentrate on my rare steak with chips and pepper sauce. To say this, and to believe it is far more disgusting than anything Christians believe.

    Oh, and I should say, materiality, dung and sex and all the rest isn't disgusting. Christianity is a very material religion.

    Yes. I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Why? On the one hand, I suppose, not to believe that Jesus rose from the dead is on some level to admit that injustice and evil and putrefaction is all that there is, which is frankly depressing. On some level, evil is the strongest evidence for the existence of God. On the other hand, one can argue from the unbelievability of death, understood as annihilation. It is a strange thing for me to die, and of all the odd things I have ever come across, one thing I cannot believe in is that "I" am going to die forever and ever. But then again, I am a materialist, for me to survive, it is not sufficient for some kind of disembodied "rationality" to survive. Somehow, there has to be a Resurrection of the body. Notice that such belief predates Christ by some 200 years (2:Maccabees 7:21). Of course, we have no right to expect it, but God is good.

    Also, there is no reason why miracles couldn't happen. It is not as if physical laws are binding in the same way that logical laws are. I mean, the world could have been different. At any rate, empirically speaking, physical laws are completely unknown to us in any kind of transcendent sense. You can keep on repeating your belief in the world as it is, but in reality, all you have is perspective, as Quine argues. And by the way, Quine didn't, I don't think, believe in God, but I think he does point to the fact that empiricism is necessarily nominalistic. To believe that, outside of physics and biology and chemistry as practised here and now, there is some kind of underlying substratum of truth, requires a metaphysical commitment.

  36. Oh by the way, have you ever read Nietzche? I highly recommend Nietzche, particularly On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense as therapy for overindulgence in the drug of scientism. Let me quote two particular aphorisms:

    "No genuinely radical living for truth is possible in a university."

    and a little later in life:

    "What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins."

    In contrast to this, I can only offer Thomas Aquinas: "Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true." You are welcome to take the second alternative, but to pretend that truth is out there in some kind of perspective-independent way, and that there is no God is, after Nietzche, a huge act of faith, compared to which, Christianity is relatively minor.

  37. Mouse, thank you. I do enjoy it, but I suppose that fundamentally, I believe (nay, I know) that Christianity alone can make people happy, if only they would try it. When I started out, that was all I was doing it: giving it a try after all else had failed. But also, I think we have a vast intellectual heritage, and have no reason to allow ourselves to be bullied. I mean, compared to Augustine and Aquinas and Newman, modern atheism is a child throwing a tantrum. Indeed, modern atheism doesn't even have the grandeur of Huxley, or the self-knowledge of a Nietzsche, or the ability to land on a serious philosophical problem like Hume or Russell. It is a blind faith clinging to a crumbling edifice, abandoned by those who constructed it.

    Christina, thank you for the compliments, and also the very nice statement of what historians call the "charity principle". In all honesty though, I am merely expanding on Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry. Jaroslav Pelikan on Creation and Causality is a good place to find the arguments about what Christians mean by creation, and how this eventually got misread in the reformation debate over the sacrifice of the Mass. The Thomistic part of it is very well presented in Thomas Crean OP's God is No Delusion.

    William, thank you. I am only really incidentally interested in Darwin, though both Darwin and Huxley had Christian and Catholic friends (in case of Huxley, the Wilfrid Wards and Kingsley) in whom I am very interested. Apart from that, my concern is only that (a) Catholics aren't irrational, and indeed, Catholics did and do science as part of who they are. (b)Modern science is intimately tied up with Catholic theology, and (c)Catholic theology isn't a fairy tale. It carries with it a very real anthropology as well as a metaphysics, and consequently an epistemology. But beyond all this is God, before whom all human knowledge is straw, dumbness if you will, but dumbness with a point.

    Scott, thank you very much for that very nice anecdote. I also know numerous very reasonable agnostics and atheists.

  38. Man, Kiran, You rock. I wish there were more like you; the world would be a much awsesomer place.

  39. Awww...

    It looks like the little troll picked up his toys and went home.

    Hope he read all ya'll's final arguments first. ;-)


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