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Old 11-19-2006, 11:15 AM   #1
Empire
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Typical conversation with a moderate christian.

Quote:
me wrote
Why do you believe in god?
Quote:
them wrote
Life, and the world in general, is just too complex to have arisen without a creator.
Quote:
me wrote
How do you go from there being a crator, to imposing upon the creator the typical characteristics of the judeo-christian god?
Quote:
them wrote
It's a matter of faith.
The reason I put this under Science, is because I'd like a concise way to explain the complexity of life. I know some of you are a lot more experienced with this stuff, and would like to hear how you would summarize it.

Also, when someone brings up the "it's just a matter of faith" objection, how do you usually deal with that? A lot of the moderate Christians I speak to bring up the fact that believing in God and afterlife gives them guidance, and the hope that they won't have to die. I never quite know what to tell them, because if having faith gives them happiness, even if my opinion is that happiness is based on a delusion, who am I to deprive them of the comfort and happiness christianity gives them.
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Old 11-19-2006, 08:51 PM   #2
Baphomet
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Think about the economy for a second.

It's incredibly complex. If you want to buy one thing, HUNDREDS of different forces have to work properly and together in order to allow for the exchange. The economy is incredibly complex, but did it suddenly appear on it's own? No, it didn't. It started with something simple, barter, and eventually it became more abstract and more complex with thousands and millions of components all interlinked and relying on one another. It's an incredibly compley pattern and network.

Evolution is very simmilar. Although there are incredibly highly organized forms of life, that doesn't mean they were "created" as they were. It's just like the economy, they started simple and evolved. What worked continued, and what didn't work, no longer continued.

This is just a basic example of how complex patterns and systems can evolve naturally.

Also, keep in mind that "complexity" is a very subjective term. How can one really determine the complexity of anything to begin with? If our computers were a million times more complex than they are now, then the computers we have now wouldn't seem so complex in comparison.
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:12 PM   #3
Empire
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Thank you for your insights Baphomet. That's a great analogy and I think very relateable, I'll definitely see how that one goes over the next time I get the life being too complex reasoning. I think perhaps a lot of people just like the convenience of "goddidit", because then they don't have to think about life and it's meanings, and just live it. However, I tend to agree with Epicurus in this case in that an analyzed life is essential for happiness.

Cheers!
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:34 AM   #4
GaryM
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Quote:
Empire wrote
I'd like a concise way to explain the complexity of life.
Quote:
Richard Dawkins wrote
The world is divided into things that look designed (like birds and airliners) and things that don't (rocks and mountains). Things that look designed are divided into those that really are designed (submarines and tin openers) and those that aren't (sharks and hedgehogs). The diagnostic of things that look (or are) designed is that their parts are assembled in ways that are statistically improbable in a functional direction. They do something well: for instance, fly.

Darwinian natural selection can produce an uncanny illusion of design. An engineer would be hard put to decide whether a bird or a plane was the more aerodynamically elegant.

So powerful is the illusion of design, it took humanity until the mid-19th century to realise that it is an illusion. In 1859, Charles Darwin announced one of the greatest ideas ever to occur to a human mind: cumulative evolution by natural selection. Living complexity is indeed orders of magnitude too improbable to have come about by chance. But only if we assume that all the luck has to come in one fell swoop. When cascades of small chance steps accumulate, you can reach prodigious heights of adaptive complexity. That cumulative build-up is evolution. Its guiding force is natural selection.

Every living creature has ancestors, but only a fraction have descendants. All inherit the genes of an unbroken sequence of successful ancestors, none of whom died young and none of whom failed to reproduce. Genes that program embryos to develop into adults who can successfully reproduce automatically survive in the gene pool, at the expense of genes that fail. This is natural selection at the gene level, and we notice its consequences at the organism level. There has to be an ultimate source of new genetic variation, and it is mutation. Copies of newly mutated genes are reshuffled through the gene pool by sexual reproduction, and selection removes them from the pool in a way that is non-random.

What makes for success in the business of life varies from species to species. Some swim, some walk, some fly, some climb, some root themselves into the soil and tilt green solar panels toward the sun. All this diversity stems from successive branchings, starting from a single bacterium-like ancestor, which lived between 3 and 4 billion years ago. Each branching event is called a speciation: a breeding population splits into two, and they go their separately evolving ways. Among sexually reproducing species, speciation is said to have occurred when the two gene pools have separated so far that they can no longer interbreed. Speciation begins by accident. When separation has reached the stage where there is no interbreeding even without a geographical barrier, we have the origin of a new species.

Natural selection is quintessentially non-random, yet it is lamentably often miscalled random. This one mistake underlies much of the sceptical backlash against evolution. Chance cannot explain life. Design is as bad an explanation as chance because it raises bigger questions than it answers. Evolution by natural selection is the only workable theory ever proposed that is capable of explaining life, and it does so brilliantly.
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Old 11-20-2006, 03:39 AM   #5
Sternwallow
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Quote:
Empire wrote
Typical conversation with a moderate christian.

Quote:
me wrote
Why do you believe in god?
Quote:
them wrote
Life, and the world in general, is just too complex to have arisen without a creator.
Quote:
me wrote
How do you go from there being a creator, to imposing upon the creator the typical characteristics of the judeo-christian god?
Quote:
them wrote
It's a matter of faith.
The reason I put this under Science, is because I'd like a concise way to explain the complexity of life. I know some of you are a lot more experienced with this stuff, and would like to hear how you would summarize it.

Also, when someone brings up the "it's just a matter of faith" objection, how do you usually deal with that? A lot of the moderate Christians I speak to bring up the fact that believing in God and afterlife gives them guidance, and the hope that they won't have to die. I never quite know what to tell them, because if having faith gives them happiness, even if my opinion is that happiness is based on a delusion, who am I to deprive them of the comfort and happiness christianity gives them.
We do not have a way to measure complexity, partly because it is incompletely defined.

You might say that this pattern "0123456789ABCDEF" is as simple as possible, given the list of symbols and their assigned values. So we would probably say that "0123456789ABDCFE" is slightly less simple and therefore slightly more complex "0123FEDC4567BA98" is less simple yet, though it has a discernable pattern. At some point we get to "419DA3F76C205B8E" which would be maximally complex, but it would also be random. Obviously this kind of complexity cannot characterize the structure of DNA. It is highly complex, but not too complex.

Suppose that the universe had a creator. The most frugal definition for this creator is a tiny spark, just enough to break an unstable equilibrium between space and no-space. It doesn't have to be big or powerful or omnipotent or intelligent or have a personality or embody lofty attributes like love and justice. It only needs to be a tiny nudge at most. Like popping a soap bubble. If nothingness is intrinsically unstable, as some theories hold, even a nudge may not be necessary for it to collapse into a full-blown universe.

"Those who most loudly proclaim their honesty are least likely to possess it."
"Atheism: rejecting all absurdity." S.H.
"Reality, the God alternative"
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Old 11-22-2006, 02:56 PM   #6
Empire
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Thanks for the copy paste GaryM, every interesting read.
Sternwallow, how'd you got to be so knowledgeable? You always have an intelligent response for every question, and it's always complex yet easy enough for anyone to understand. I'm sure you've read a tonne of great books over the years, but if you could narrow it down to the top 5 most useful books you've read, what would they be? I'll be gone for a week or so, I've got a big exam coming up and not much free time I'm afraid. I'll be sure to pick at your brain some more when I return. Take care.

Cheers!
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Old 11-22-2006, 03:10 PM   #7
Christ
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Quote:
Baphomet wrote
Think about the economy for a second.

It's incredibly complex. If you want to buy one thing, HUNDREDS of different forces have to work properly and together in order to allow for the exchange. The economy is incredibly complex, but did it suddenly appear on it's own? No, it didn't. It started with something simple, barter, and eventually it became more abstract and more complex with thousands and millions of components all interlinked and relying on one another. It's an incredibly compley pattern and network.

Evolution is very simmilar. Although there are incredibly highly organized forms of life, that doesn't mean they were "created" as they were. It's just like the economy, they started simple and evolved. What worked continued, and what didn't work, no longer continued.

This is just a basic example of how complex patterns and systems can evolve naturally.

Also, keep in mind that "complexity" is a very subjective term. How can one really determine the complexity of anything to begin with? If our computers were a million times more complex than they are now, then the computers we have now wouldn't seem so complex in comparison.
That's a really good analogy Baphomet. I've used this argument too, except with modern appliances. Always, when you look at the end result, it is very complicated. Something as simplistic as cleaning one's room. Sure, everything seems complex when the room is clean, but it didn't just appear that way. You had to put one thing away at a time, probably starting with the clothes. Gradual changes happen all the time. Anytime you look at an end result, of course it's complex. Everything changes little by little, it's the nature of the universe.

Good analogy. :cheers:
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