Good post.
 Re "We are here, but that tells us nothing about what lies behind that fact.":
It tells me that the universe is where I belong - I am not a alien stranger but 
a natural growth out of a benign background.

 Re "Complex design can arise out of very simple conditions":
 Yes, but the complexity must have been *potentially* there in the initial 
 Also - "consciousness" - or "awareness" - can't arise. Awareness is subjective 
- any scientific description of the universe is objective. You can't leap from 
one to the other. You really can't - you delude yourself if you imagine 
otherwise. (The Greeks knew that!) That's why apologists like Daniel Dennett 
try to persuade us that we are not really conscious at all. Pull the other one!

 "Consciousness" can't be explained by science because it is fundamental. Any 
ultimate explanation has to come down to some essential elements - otherwise 
you have an infinite regress. I claim that "awareness" is just such an 
irreducible element and so can't be explained in terms of anything more 

 The only alternatives to materialism are pantheism; pan-psychism or idealism. 
I have a soft spot for the latter. But I'm definitely *not* just a lump of 
organic matter.


---In, <anartaxius@...> wrote :

 The counter argument to this is the anthropic principle: 

 'In astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle (from Greek anthropos, 
meaning "human") is the philosophical consideration that observations of the 
physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that 
observes it. Some proponents of the anthropic principle reason that it explains 
why the Universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary 
to accommodate conscious life. As a result, they believe it is unremarkable 
that the universe's fundamental constants happen to fall within the narrow 
range thought to be compatible with life.'

 'The strong anthropic principle (SAP) as explained by John D. Barrow and Frank 
Tipler states that this is all the case because the Universe is compelled, in 
some sense, to eventually have conscious and sapient life emerge within it. 
Critics of the SAP argue in favor of a weak anthropic principle (WAP) similar 
to the one defined by Brandon Carter, which states that the universe's 
ostensible fine tuning is the result of selection bias: i.e., only in a 
universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings 
capable of observing and reflecting upon any such fine tuning, while a universe 
less compatible with life will go unbeheld. Most often such arguments draw upon 
some notion of the multiverse for there to be a statistical population of 
universes to select from and from which selection bias (our observance of only 
this Universe, apparently compatible with life) could occur.'

 So that the universe seems fine-tuned for us would be an illusion, multiverse 
or not. The conditions for us exist in this universe, and we are here, but that 
tells us nothing about what lies behind that fact.

 Dawkins is hardly gullible though I think he would hardly be as popular if he 
were merely indifferent to theism. People like a good scrap. Complex design can 
arise out of very simple conditions, as some mathematicians have demonstrated. 
The idea that design is the result of deliberate intelligence is an analogue to 
the way we think of ourselves and our creative abilities, but that does not 
mean such a view applies to the universe as a whole. Darwin led the way in 
showing how design can arise without a designer, by blind and impersonal 
forces. Now, 155 years later quite a lot of evidence has been marshalled for 
this view.

 Other than the fact of its existence, what may or may not lie 'behind' this 
universe of ours is a mystery. Maybe we will never know, but not knowing, it is 
infantile to make up explanations when in fact we do not know, unless there is 
some factual reason to speculate. Enlightenment tells us nothing about this 
either, all it can show us is that it is here, and of course we already know 

---In, <s3raphita@...> wrote :

 When I first looked into the question of whether something approximating to 
"God" existed, my intuition told me that the idea that conscious, intelligent, 
moral beings - like my good self - could arise as result of an accidental Big 
Bang was so obviously absurd I couldn't understand how supposedly bright people 
(scientists) could accept such a conclusion (even throwing natural selection 
into the mix). 
 In those days the "argument from design" for God's existence was pooh-poohed 
by philosophers. Since then we've been struck by the amount of "fine tuning" 
that must have existed at the time of the Big Bang to allow for the development 
of life as we know it. Check out the details: the ratio of the strengths of 
gravity to that of electromagnetism; the strength of the force binding nucleons 
into nuclei; the relative importance of gravity and expansion energy in the 
Universe; the cosmological constant; etc; etc. Any slight variation = no life.

 This has led defenders of atheism to postulate we inhabit a multiverse. If 
there were an infinite number of worlds then we don't need "God" as an 
hypothesis for why we find ourselves living in a human-friendly environment. 
That's true - but here's the thing: the idea of many worlds didn't come up back 
in the day when I had my "intuition" - everyone assumed we were living in a 
one-shot, one-off universe.

 If the multiverse theory is correct (a big if) then, yes, it means we don't 
need God, but it also shows how gullible Dawkins and co were to have rejected 
the original design argument.




---In, <anartaxius@...> wrote :

 ---In, <jr_esq@...> wrote :

 There appears to be a common misconception that science and religion cannot 
mix.  That's not necessarily true.  

 But usually it is true because the mind set one needs for science and the one 
needed for religion are poles apart; science is sceptical, questioning, and the 
argument from authority simply is an impediment to finding out stuff. Religion 
is accepting often to the point of total gullibility. Science deals with facts, 
religion generally prefers to avoid them. Since the rise of scientific thought, 
religion has been backsliding against the onslaught of knowledge ever since. 
Things once thought exclusively in the realm of religion are now solidly in the 
realm of science.

 Some call themselves atheists, but they don't know what it really means nor 
have they logically thought out the arguments for atheism.

 Actually we do know what it means, and we have thought it out to the extent 
that logic is possible. But in the absence of evidence, logic has nothing to 
manipulate — all is airy speculation in the void where no facts exist. Atheism 
is really a matter of probability in comparing what we know about the world to 
what is stated in religious documents about the reality of the world, and most 
of the time, the probability that such and such is true seems slight. 

 The non theist position is not absolute because in the absence of facts you 
cannot posit a definitive statement, only a sliding scale of probabilities, 
that leads the non theist, or the post theist to the conclusion that the 
religious arguments lack sufficient merit to spend time pursuing. If more 
substantial evidence shows up, then the matter can be reconsidered. If 
something is not known, a non theist does not have to make up something to 
explain it. If we do not know how the world came into being (assuming it came 
in to being) we can let it ride until more information is available.

 On the other hand, there are some Christians who use the bible as a scientific 
proof for the history of mankind.  They fail to understand that the Bible is 
not a scientific document.  Rather, it is a book of wisdom which attempts to 
convey how Consciousness evolved in nature which resulted in the development of 
a consciousness being, which is embodied in the human mind and physiology.

 There is a lot in the Bible that has some value, but there is also a lot of 
stuff that is pretty dumb; it is extraordinarily inconsistent because it is 
hobbled together from the writings and editing of many many writers, compilers, 
and revisers who had many different viewpoints. There is some nice poetry at 
least in English translations. 





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