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Evolution reigns supreme in the educational institutions of America and Europe. However, there are major holes in the theory that remain even after over a hundred years of intense efforts to fill them in not to mention the billions of research dollars spent along with some of the careers of many of the finest scientific minds of the 20th century. Even so, alternative theories of how everything came about are routinely ostracized, ridiculed, and rejected without investigation. Ben Stein has done the leg work to track down this anti-freedom conspiracy and expose it for what it is: good old fashioned fear–fear of being wrong. Click the play button below to watch the trailer for this upcoming movie due to hit theaters this spring.

34 Responses to “Expelled: Ben Stein Takes on Evolution”

  1. on 24 Feb 2008 at 3:58 pmJohn Paul

    I really love Ben Stein. He is a funny, intelegent and deep man. I heard some marvelous quotes from him in the past few years:

    Herewith a few confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking
    clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us
    constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often
    ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and
    Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who
    they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important?

    I don’t know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about
    Tom Cruise’s wife.

    Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a
    subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are.

    If this is what it means to be no longer young. It’s not so bad.

    Next confession:

    I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it
    does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful
    lit up, bejewelled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I
    don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas
    trees.

    It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry
    Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready
    to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are
    all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It
    doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a
    key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a
    crèche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards
    away.

    I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew,
    and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being
    Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of
    getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came
    from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in
    the Constitution, and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

    Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we
    should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren’t allowed to worship God as
    we understand Him?

    I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too.

    But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came
    from and where the America we knew went to.

    Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

    Not one prayer or moment of silence for those who have given their lives. And they complain about (falling box office numbers). Stop spitting in the face of Americans and maybe we will go to the movies.

  2. on 24 Feb 2008 at 3:59 pmJohn Paul

    The last 2 paragraphs were supposed to be 2 separate quotes.

  3. on 25 Feb 2008 at 5:55 amSteve

    I sure hope this movie will make it to Australia.

  4. on 25 Feb 2008 at 11:59 amFrank D

    After watching the trailer and reading through the blog comments on the movie web site, all I can say is “WOW!”. I find it very enlightning how angry people can be when people challenge a personal foundational belief. This just re-justifies (IMHO) that man wants to live in sin and never even consider that there ‘might’ be a God. Evolution has long been a weapon of the secular progressives and they don’t like it being challenged.

  5. on 28 Feb 2008 at 6:30 pmRon S.

    I just wanted to echo Frank’s comment about all the blog comments on the movie’s own website. About the first 100 are pure negative and outright HOSTILE. Check them out for yourself at: http://www.expelledthemovie.com/blog/2007/08/21/bens-blog/

    But there are some very positive ones here and there as well (for every 10-20 negatives ones). Here are just a few I liked.

    I started reading all the posts with much interest and I can see alot of mentally blind people around bagging somthing they haven’t yet seen..(but that’s the same with a lot of things even science)..but the title alone causes their blood to boil. Some of these people haven’t examined both sides of the debate and that is obvious by their crude uneducated comments spouting forth Dawkins and others like a well trained parrot. Shouldn’t science keep an open mind to all things (dare I say even God). It seems funny to me that even when science stumbles on its own laws and boundaries as long as the answer agrees with darwinisum it’s accepted. If you don’t agree with me please answer how science explains the second law of thermodynamics in relation to evolutional THEORY. I’ll save you some time it can’t. But the FACT that it is a LAW of science doen’t stop evolutionists ignoring it. Face it evolution is as much a religion as the Christian, Muslim or any other religion.

    Ben, I’ll reserve judgement until I see the film…I do hope it’s comming to Australia….I’d love the debate it will obviously cause judging from this blog.

    As to all you blogsters….peace, good will and love to you all.

    Okay, let me get this straight. Since when was evolution testable? I want to see the monkey turning into man in the lab. It takes more “faith” to believe in evolution than it does to believe in God. If science can explain where the “big bang” stuff came from then maybe there’s a debate, but something can’t come from nothing. If you want to believe the universe started from something, than something had to create it, period.

    Mr. Stein,
    It is wonderful to see someone take up this noble and worthy cause. Far too long have the misguided been taking the lead in the scientific arena. I say it is high time to go back to the beginnings, the beginnings of the scientific revolution where God in His omnipotence bestowed upon some of the greatest CHRISTIAN minds (Galileo, Kepler, Newton to name a few) the ability to see beyond themselves and to think beyond the obvious to begin what we know now as the scientific revolution. You see, science is not the antithesis of God, only His fingerprint. And when you are able to see our world as God’s beautiful creation, then your eyes will be opened much, much more than you could ever imagine. Thank you for this film. I will use this as a springboard to teach not only my kids, but the kids in my church bible seekers, the youth, and any other child that will listen that what is taught in the public schools is not truth…that truth is found only when you are able to open your mind to the possibility of God. And I encourage other mothers, educators, Sunday school teachers, mentors, preachers, everyone to take up this cross. The poison has been in our schools for far, far too long and I intend to do whatever I can.

    Ben, thank you, thank you!! It’s about time someone stepped up and suggested that freedom of speech is being squashed. The responses to your blog are wonderful. Even the fools that deny God are paying attention. When the Creation Museum opened it also sparked a lot of controversy. For me, it took pure hatred before I finally humbled myself to God’s existance.
    Whether these people believe in God or not, they should be happy that here in America we can all express our opinions without being jailed or killed.
    To those that don’t believe in God, and are actually reading this blog, a world without God is even more hopeless than one that would allow pain and suffering. Anyone that’s a parent knows their child must stumble before they walk. As adults, don’t we need to stumble too so we learn how to succeed? Yes it may be painful, and yes innocent suffer, but the time we are alive is brief, in the light of eternity the pain we feel today will vanish.
    God is love and no matter what, we are called to love everyone even if they are foolish.

    There are many other posts, but you get the idea that even though the muckrakers post more (and are certainly spewing tons of vile and bitterness), the open-minded and God-fearing are still there as well.

    Peace!

  6. on 28 Feb 2008 at 6:56 pmJohn Paul

    Wanna see some hostility? Click here at our brother Victor Gluckin’s Blog where me and JohnO have been engaging with an atheist for the past few days.
    http://highergroundonline.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/expelled-ben-stein-takes-on-evolution/
    The guy is obviously very smart, but unfortunately very arrogant.

  7. on 18 Mar 2008 at 8:21 pmBlake

    I really liked this movie from the time I say the trailer.
    Being where I am, I am constantly confronted with the problem of evolutionary theory. God has proven faithful and helped me through even the hardest of times though.
    I deal with debating people very often in my school. It’s usually me and one other person, but eventually it becomes me and five or more others. Yet God is STILL wiser than they, and still gives me a small sample of that wisdom to use when speaking to people.

    Can’t wait to see the ExPelled movie

  8. on 18 Mar 2008 at 9:23 pmRay

    Dear Blake,

    God bless you in your standing in the truth. Keep praising God.
    I find that when I do that, he gives me more light. When we
    are in his anointing we are effective. God gives seed to the sower.
    As we sow, God will give us more. I remember the parable of the
    talents. May God promote you as you promote him. May he keep
    you on top and moving higher in Christ.

  9. on 19 Mar 2008 at 6:54 pmRay

    About evolution:

    Today I was at the zoo.
    At the gorilla exhibit I watched as six of them walked past on
    their knuckles. It’s not because of any genetic curse or anything
    like that. I think it’s a genetic blessing of God. It’s the way they’re
    supposed to walk.

    I wonder what might happen if someone were to do something
    ignorant like handcuff the papa gorilla or something to cause him
    to have to walk on his legs only. Maybe the others would develop
    a tic or something, but I think as soon as he was let free, he would
    go back to walking normal, as he should.

    I wonder how long those gorillas have watched people walking around daily but have never decided to walk as they do.

    Evolution theory doesn’t make sense. I can live without it.

    Evolution theory doesn’t give me peace, doesn’t make me wise,
    doesn’t give me health, doesn’t take care of me, doesn’t teach
    me about the right way to live, doesn’t give me hope of eternal
    salvation, nor does it give me strength when I need it. It doesn’t
    comfort me when I am down, nor build me up when I am weak.
    It doesn’t feed me nor clothe me.

    I can live fine without it.

  10. on 19 Apr 2008 at 7:04 amSean

    Last night a few of us went out to see this movie. It was excellent. For a documentary, it was surprisingly engaging and filled with clever bits of humor while making a powerful point. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the evolution controversies of our day.

  11. on 19 Apr 2008 at 7:46 amKaren

    I haven’t seen the movie, but you should know that there are some basic problems with it, such as the fact that it apparently suggests that Dr. Sternberg lost his job at the Smithsonian because of intellectual discrimination, but neglects to tell us that he was not actually an employee, but rather an unpaid research associate who was at the end of his three-year term. He was going to be leaving anyway.

    I have no doubt that people have been fired for the views they hold…but in academia that’s true of just about every field. People fail to get tenure all the time for all sorts of reasons.

    I also understand that the movie links evolutionary theory to the Holocaust. Anti-semitism existed long before Darwin, and the factors that led to the Holocaust are rooted in the history of western Europe, its wars and its religious attitudes, not a scientific theory. Read the history. I might also point out places like Rwanda and Darfur: is evolutionary theory to blame for those genocides as well?

    I’m leery of anything, no matter its point of view, that doesn’t get its basic facts straight. Books or movies that do this don’t serve the cause of Christ well.

  12. on 21 Apr 2008 at 12:06 amDan Elton

    Hey,

    I was looking over at the higherground blog.. I don’t have time to read the earlier arguments but I found Sean posted some basic questions. I don’t want to start a big debate or anything, but I figured I would post my answers here, just people here can get a different viewpoint. I’ll try to keep my responses as concise as I can.

    As an atheist how do you account for the origin of the universe?
    The origin of the universe occurred 13.73 billion years ago according to the most precise observations. It is not fully understood what the universe was like back then. It if it is the case that the universe is closed in a certain sense then the origin could be fully explained by natural law. In fact, general relativity (our best, but incomplete picture of the universe) says the universe must have a beginning. Currently there are a number of improved theories that should help us understand more about this, open to empirical testing.

    Why do something exist rather than nothing?
    This is a meaningless question. It is an axiom upon which any logically consistent philosophy must hold (including, I believe Christianity, “why does God exsist rather than nothing?”). Existence exists.

    Why did the universe come into existence?
    As I said earlier, a beginning is mandated by general relativity, there is probably more to the story we are still learning. And in a broader sense, existence exists.

    What caused the universe to begin?
    I just told you in the last question. A more fundemental question is why does the universe have the natural laws it has. We may never know, or perhaps it is necessary, or perhaps there are other universes with different natural laws. But if we can’t find a way to observe these other universes, we just won’t know.

    How did the first life begin?
    Through various physical and chemical reactions, about 4 billion years ago.

    You aren’t going to tell me that it rained on a rock for millions of years and then “poof” life sprung into being (considering the incredible complexity of even the simplest life)!
    No, I am going to tell you that there was rain and lightning and lots brownian motion and comets raining biological materials and all other sorts of interesting stuff for about a billion years and then the first microorganisms arose from simpler self replicating chemicals. There is much more information available on this and people are discovering more things every day.

    How can you be sure that God doesn’t exist? Do you claim to have exhaustive knowledge?
    Of course I can’t be sure. But I can’t be certain there isn’t a teapot orbiting around the sun (invisible to all the worlds telescopes), and yet I find that highly unlikely, so I say I don’t believe that either.

    How do you account for my friend who had severe terminal brain cancer and then after intense prayer it was miraculously gone?
    I can’t account for it. I can guess, but it would be my own limited speculation. But I don’t have to account for it. The burden of proof rests on you in this case. How are you going to get evidence that it was God? You can’t. But there are plenty of ways to get evidence that would verify an explanation via natural law.

    Are you really prepared to say that everyone who doesn’t believe like you is completely delusional?
    Of course not. I am at least partially delusional myself. But I have every right to argue that Christians are deluded and I am prepared to do so.

    If God does not exist then there is not any standard for morals. Thus, you as an atheist cannot say that it is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it.
    Of course I can. It is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it.

    A few other things I wanted to say are this :

    1. People have every right to be as angry as they want about this movie.

    2. With regards to Evolution causing negative social change, it may or may not have. But either way, this says nothing about whether the facts of evolution are true or not. Same thing goes for if I was going to argue that the Bible is wrong because it caused the Crusades. It doesn’t logically follow. I.E. in these cases the consequences of a belief are unrelated to whether the belief is correct in the first place.

    3. With regards to “the conspiracy against dissenters”. Say it exists. This also has nothing to do with the truth value of Evolutionary theory. I don’t believe such a conspiracy exists. Intelligent Design, so far, is not a scientific theory. No one has come yet up with a different theory and found evidence for it, only various modifications to the basic Darwinian theory. It should be taught in a philosophy or religion or maybe and English class, but certainly not in a science class, unless you are going to show why it is not science.

  13. on 21 Apr 2008 at 5:01 pmDan Elton

    Also, I just wanted to point out that this video says that scientists say we came out by “accident” and “random chance”. This is exactly not what science says. It says there are rational, objective reasons why we are here.

    We are important, beautiful creatures.

    Open your mind! 🙂

  14. on 21 Apr 2008 at 6:24 pmSean

    Hey Dan,

    Before, I respond to your answers, can I ask you a question. This goes for Karen as well. Did either of you watch the Expelled movie? If not, why not? There is a lot in there besides just one guy at the Smithsonian. There were dozens of interviews. I would urge you to watch it before believing all the hype (on either side).

    The origin of the universe occurred 13.73 billion years ago according to the most precise observations.

    Could you unpack this statement a bit? What precise observations. Surely you are not saying that someone observed the universe 13.73 billion years ago?

    it is the case that the universe is closed in a certain sense then the origin could be fully explained by natural law. In fact, general relativity (our best, but incomplete picture of the universe) says the universe must have a beginning. Currently there are a number of improved theories that should help us understand more about this, open to empirical testing.

    The last time I checked they were saying that the universe was unbounded but closed, though that could of course change. Why is it explainable by natural law if it is closed? Something (or someone) still needs to begin it.

    Why does something exist rather than nothing?
    This is a meaningless question. It is an axiom upon which any logically consistent philosophy must hold (including, I believe Christianity, “why does God exsist rather than nothing?”). Existence exists.

    You could just say you don’t know. Or you could say, because a quark farted (i.e. random, quantum undulation or whatever). Or you could say that it is all a random set of coincidences. But the question is not meaningless.

    Why did the universe come into existence?
    As I said earlier, a beginning is mandated by general relativity, there is probably more to the story we are still learning. And in a broader sense, existence exists.

    What caused the universe to begin?
    I just told you in the last question.

    Did I miss something? You answered what caused the universe to begin? All you said was that GR requires a beginning. But this is not what caused the beginning. We are not going to say that the universe caused itself to begin? Something (or someone) must have caused the big bang to bang…right?

    A more fundemental question is why does the universe have the natural laws it has. We may never know, or perhaps it is necessary, or perhaps there are other universes with different natural laws. But if we can’t find a way to observe these other universes, we just won’t know.

    A good question indeed. The scientists who discovered these natural laws did so because they were theists. They expected the universe to evidence a certain order because of their belief in God. This of course does not prove God exists, it just proves that belief in God has historically been beneficial, in some respects, to science.

    How did the first life begin?
    Through various physical and chemical reactions, about 4 billion years ago.

    You aren’t going to tell me that it rained on a rock for millions of years and then “poof” life sprung into being (considering the incredible complexity of even the simplest life)!
    No, I am going to tell you that there was rain and lightning and lots brownian motion and comets raining biological materials and all other sorts of interesting stuff for about a billion years and then the first microorganisms arose from simpler self replicating chemicals. There is much more information available on this and people are discovering more things every day.

    Uh…you forgot to put the word *poof* in between “then” and “the first”….like this…”I am going to tell you that there was rain and lightning…for about a billion years and then *poof* the first microorganisms arose…” You still have a *poof*. Apparently you do not believe in the alien hypothesis like some atheists? …or do you? In other words, there is no naturalistic mechanism that explains how life could originate.

    How can you be sure that God doesn’t exist? Do you claim to have exhaustive knowledge?
    Of course I can’t be sure. But I can’t be certain there isn’t a teapot orbiting around the sun (invisible to all the worlds telescopes), and yet I find that highly unlikely, so I say I don’t believe that either.

    How do you account for my friend who had severe terminal brain cancer and then after intense prayer it was miraculously gone?
    I can’t account for it. I can guess, but it would be my own limited speculation. But I don’t have to account for it. The burden of proof rests on you in this case. How are you going to get evidence that it was God? You can’t. But there are plenty of ways to get evidence that would verify an explanation via natural law.

    My evidence for God in the case of Jay Kline’s tumors is that he had lots of them in his head. He was going to die. They were documented. Through prayer they suddenly disappeared. Sure if one wanted to be silly he could say that the boogy man ate them, but in all likelihood God to whom he prayed answered his prayer. And, Dan, this is not the only miracle. There are lots of stories of healings through prayer. How does naturalism account for them?

    If God does not exist then there is not any standard for morals. Thus, you as an atheist cannot say that it is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it.
    Of course I can. It is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it.

    Since you are asserting that it is wrong (an absolute) I would like to know why you think it is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it?

    Can I ask you to watch a lecture on youtube of Timothy Keller speaking at Google about God’s existence. I wonder if what he has to say would make sense to you. Also, out of curiosity, did you listen to any of the William Lane Craig .mp3s I put on your ipod last summer?

  15. on 21 Apr 2008 at 6:42 pmKaren

    I haven’t seen the movie because I don’t like giving money to propaganda films. I feel exactly the same way about anything made by Michael Moore. These are films made to gin up their adherents; they don’t do a thing to change people’s minds.

    I would be delighted to see a serious documentary about evolution and ID/creationism. But Ben Stein (like Michael Moore) is a polemicist, not a serious documentary filmmaker.

  16. on 21 Apr 2008 at 11:33 pmDan Elton

    Uh, I will probably end up seeing the movie sometime, but right now I don’t have time. I also don’t have much time to give lengthly responses.

    Sean, what I should have said is based on observations and theory, the universe is that old. You know what I’m talking about. I just take the universality of physical laws as an assumption (there is some big name for this i can’t remember), and I have good reasons for doing so, and then it follows from the microwave background radiation levels. And there are lower limits on the universes age based on other stuff like radioactive decay and the cosmic distances and other things I can’t remember right now.

    With regards to the closed/vs open bit, I don’t believe the issue is settled, but generally people lean towards the hypothesis that it is closed. According to something I read by Stephen Hawking, if it is closed, then it could be fully explained by natural law. I will have to defer to him on that for now.

    Its unrelated, but I strongly believe the overall effect of religion on science has been negative.

    About the “why is there something rather than nothing?” question.
    OK I don’t know why the universe exists rather than not exists, but the axiom that it exists works. Maybe “it works” is a reason.. would that be pragmatism? Its like asking why does A=A instead of A is not equal to A? Because A=A obviously works! It is necessary for anything to make sense. Anyways the point is existence exists is an axiom. You can’t explain why an axiom is true.. thats the whole point of an axiom! You can’t do any better, because I can ask you “why does God exist rather than nothing?”. You have to take as an axiom that God exists rather than nothing. I do the same thing, but I stop at just saying the universe exists rather than nothing, and not an additional God behind it.

    “there is no naturalistic mechanism that explains how life could originate”. Actually, you ae wrong here. I would say there are several proposals on the table. They are currently being tested in labs all over the world. The whole point of science is that there are no “poofs”. Everything proceeds according to natural law. But lets assume YOUR case that there is no possible natural explanation and that God just poofed into being. How could you ever prove that? Your the one with the poof, not me.

    This actually leads into the case of Jay Klines’ tumors. Say it was a miricle.. a “poof”. How are we ever going to know if that is true? By definition, miricals can’t be replicated, so they can’t be tested empirically.

    Is there even a casual connection between the act of prayer and healing? This has been tested, and prayer when the subject does not know he/she is being prayed for brings no benefit. I believe that when people pray for themselves or know other people are praying for them this (at the least) reduces stress, which can lead to a faster recovery. Prayer probably helped, but you shouldn’t have to jump to a supernatural “non-explanation”.

    Why do you think it is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it? – I just said that I believe it is wrong to torture a child. I never said it was an absolute. In fact, I don’t see how there could be an absolute right or wrong. Now lets look at what you do. You say “it is wrong to torture a child because it is written in the Bible”. .. What if someone doesn’t believe in you or the bible? And what if most people don’t believe in what the bible says? Your screwed! And then there are many issues that can’t even be answered clearly with the bible as a guide. But I see your idea of absolute morals in a way.

    I have my own reasons for saying whats wrong and whats right. Mainly, I wouldn’t want someone to torture me or my future children. I wouldn’t torture a child, even if I found it fun. I care about other people. I respect life. In addition, if I said it was ok, then I would be rejected by society. Its a social standard.

  17. on 22 Apr 2008 at 12:06 amDan Elton

    I almost forgot to mention, I did listen to a little bit of one of Craig’s lectures. He is a good debater, but he mainly had the usual arguments. His presentation on the cosmological argument was probably the best i’ve heard. I didn’t find many of his other arguments very convincing at all. And yes, I can watch that video you mentioned, but not this week. Certainly starting this weekend I will have time to.

  18. on 22 Apr 2008 at 6:48 amSean

    Uh, I will probably end up seeing the movie sometime, but right now I don’t have time. I also don’t have much time to give lengthly responses.

    Dan, I am glad to hear you are willing to at least watch the movie and form your own opinion. As for time to make long responses, I totally understand…life is busy. We can also talk on email if you prefer which would be less pressure for either of us to respond quickly.

    About the “why is there something rather than nothing?” question.
    OK I don’t know why the universe exists rather than not exists, but the axiom that it exists works. Maybe “it works” is a reason.. would that be pragmatism?

    My whole point by asking this question was that as an atheist one cannot say that the universe should exist rather than not exist. In other words, if there is not a necessity for the universe to exist then it is really just a coincidence that all the various pre-conditions of the big bang were met so that space-time “banged.” From you point of view, either the universe had to exist or it is a coincidence. Which do you believe?

    “there is no naturalistic mechanism that explains how life could originate”. Actually, you ae wrong here. I would say there are several proposals on the table.

    I would be interested in hearing what these scenarios are. Life is an incredible complex thing. We need a ton of things in place (finely tuned?) in order for even a bacterium to actually live. Do you think aliens did it?

    But lets assume YOUR case that there is no possible natural explanation and that God just poofed into being. How could you ever prove that? Your the one with the poof, not me.

    For me it is not a poof because if God exists then there is another “law” in the universe. I put it in quotes because it is not really a law but a person who can do things that break the law. If one accepts the existence of God then it makes it possible to accept miracles without the poof. When I say, “poof,” I’m saying that something came about for no reason. If God exists and desires to create a world and life upon one of the planets, then this is no poof. Just like you deciding to eat chocolate icecream is not scientifically quantifiable but it is not a poof. Maybe we should just drop the poof conversation?

    This actually leads into the case of Jay Klines’ tumors. Say it was a miricle.. a “poof”. How are we ever going to know if that is true? By definition, miricals can’t be replicated, so they can’t be tested empirically.

    Ok. Back to the fascinating subject of miracles. First of all, we can empiraclly test whether or not a miracle happened because we can investigate the facts. In other words, if the miracle is documented then of course we can go back and see empirically what actually happened there. The better the documentation the more certain the miracle. But, in this case, you can actually talk to the person. If you want, I can give you Jay’s cell phone and you can ask him yourself. Or perhaps you would like to talk to my dad whose back was miraculously healed. He was told he would not be able to walk by the time he was 30 and was even excused from fighting in Vietnam after he was drafted because of it. Then someone prayed for him and he was healed, he ran the NYC marathon! Naturalism cannot account for any miracles and the result is an incredible burden of proof placed on the one who says, “everyone else is crazy because they believe in miracles.”

    Why do you think it is wrong for someone to torture children for the fun of it? – I just said that I believe it is wrong to torture a child. I never said it was an absolute. In fact, I don’t see how there could be an absolute right or wrong. Now lets look at what you do. You say “it is wrong to torture a child because it is written in the Bible”. .. What if someone doesn’t believe in you or the bible? And what if most people don’t believe in what the bible says? Your screwed! And then there are many issues that can’t even be answered clearly with the bible as a guide. But I see your idea of absolute morals in a way.

    Ok. You said the statement, “It is wrong to torture children for the fun of it.” Then you said it was not an absolute. So which is it? You cannot assert an absolute and then say it is not an absolute. Dan, is it absolutely wrong to torture children for the fun of it? Yes or No. I assert that as an atheist you have no emprical grounds to justify saying yes. If you are a naturalists then don’t give me stuff about feelings. I wouldn’t like someone to do this to me…etc. Give me proof! If it is wrong then demonstrate why it is wrong! My solution is to say that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong because there is a Law Giver. Furthermore, we don’t have to believe the Bible is true in order to know, generally speaking, what’s right and wrong, because God has hardcoded this basic information into our conscience. This is the argument of Romans 1.18-21 & 2.12-16.

    One more question: Dan, would you prefer that God did exist or that he did not exist? I’m not trying to make a point here, just curious.

  19. on 22 Apr 2008 at 8:14 amJohnO

    Just a note on empiricism. In these debates it is often leaned on extremely hard by the scientific side as the *only* way by which we can know things. This form of knowledge is being increasing left behind by philosophers as even the main way by which we know things (epistimology). Even Dan’s claim about “it is wrong to torture children” is not based on anything empirical.

  20. on 23 Apr 2008 at 12:33 amDelton

    “…an atheist one cannot say that the universe should exist rather than not exist”
    – Really, this is getting out of hand. My point was that the universe exists is taken as an axiom. Now you said “should” exists. Its like the is-ought problem. The fact is the universe exists. Thats all there is all there is to say about it. And once again, you cannot say why God should exist rather than not exist. We are just arguing around in circles. The whole point is I take “existence exists” as an axiom on which I base my philosophy, and I believe you do to.

    “We need a ton of things in place (finely tuned?) in order for even a bacterium to actually live. Do you think aliens did it?”
    No I doubt aliens did it; sure it is possible, I don’t think its supported by any evidence. We haven’t found any aliens, for one thing. And what are the chances the aliens would have arrived relatively short into earth’s history? (the first billion years, out of 4.5 billion). Also, note that there are bacteria that live in nearly every nook and cranny of the earth. Under the antartic ice, in boiling water, in dark steam tubes on the ocean flow, deep within the earth, etc. There are lots of places that life could have begun.

    It is also possible that life evolved on mars or elsewhere in the universe and was carried to earth on a piece of debris ejected when a meteor hit. Martian meteorites have been found in Antartica which came from mars. And the leading theory is that mars was once warm and very wet like the earth during the first billion years or since it was formed.

    With regards to morality, we could spend a lot of time discussing this. Moral questions seem always to be complex issues, and they are not something I pretend to understand fully. I do have a few points, though. First point is maybe we should separate belief in God and belief in an absolute moral code. From what I have heard there are religions which do not believe in God but believe in an absolute moral code, and vice versa. One does not necessarily imply the other. It is possible to be an atheist and believe in an absolute moral code.

    Next point, I said “It is wrong to torture a child for the fun of it.” Let me try to explain what I meant even more. First, the fact that I said it makes it relative to me. Other people could very well believe otherwise. So moral statements are always relative to an individual or group. There is no cosmic enforcing agency ready to strike people with lightning bolts. So in that sense my assertion is not absolute. Not everyone believes it or follows it. But there actually more senses in which it is not absolute. In the first sense it is because there is no absolute moral code, metaphysically speaking, (you could also say no God, no higher power, enforcing agent, universal “oversoul” or anything like that). Also note that depending how we define God, they may just have a lot of power, and is not necessarily do whats right. Take for instance Descarte’s evil deceiver.. thats the case of an evil God. The polythiestic religions are littered with evil gods. Theres a related example: what if someone says God told them to kill someone, or even worse, start a war? The question becomes, what God are you talking about? I know there are probably arguments why God must be good, and why your God is right about everything, but I’m just saying, you have to factor those kinds of things in.

    The second reason I say it is not absolute is that you can always construct some crazy scenario in which it would be ok (rational, in a person’s self interest, what uplifts their life instead of threatens it) or at least the moral question would be “grayed out”. Granted, you picked a good example, I have not been able to think of a good scenario… since you limited the case to “having fun”. Like in some cases, it might be ok to torture a child if it was the only way to get information which would save yourself and lots of other people. Some cultures might torture their children to toughen them up. Or the famous example if you were stuck on a desert island with one other person, you might have to eat that person to survive. But in the case of doing just for fun, especially in this case I don’t see it as being helpful to a person, or ever being the right thing to do. I’m not exactly sure why I believe that, but thats what I believe.

    “Dan’s claim about “it is wrong to torture children” is not based on anything empirical.” I disagree with that. It is based on my experience of being a part of this world. To come up with my moral principals I use rational self interest, based on what I have learned about the world. I also use my inner conscience as a guide, which is a product of evolution. And instinct, which also comes from experience. Morality can be studied by science.

    Alright, well i’ve got to get to bed now.

  21. on 23 Apr 2008 at 6:15 amSean

    Fascinating points, Dan.

    It is possible to be an atheist and believe in an absolute moral code. Next point, I said “It is wrong to torture a child for the fun of it.” Let me try to explain what I meant even more. First, the fact that I said it makes it relative to me. Other people could very well believe otherwise. So moral statements are always relative to an individual or group. There is no cosmic enforcing agency ready to strike people with lightning bolts. So in that sense my assertion is not absolute.

    So, I’m still confused here. As an atheist do you believe in absolute morals? Do you believe that some things are really wrong and others are really right? Is it wrong for Christians to enforce their religion on others against their will? Wouldn’t you say that is absolutely wrong?

    If you do say this or that is wrong, then we come to the next question. Why? Evolution is a cold, pitiless process in which morality = might is right. In other words, whoever is stronger wins and passes on their genetic information. (note: when I say stronger that includes intellectual capability, not just brute strength). So if this is where we came from then why should we invent a morality at all? Everything should be relative. Take Christianity for example. If Christianity survives (by whatever means, including violence..uggh) then it’s the fittest. The morality for an evolutionary atheist should be more in tune with survival and reproduction than anything else. Otherwise we must presuppose some sort of absolute standard by which we can judge what is really right and what is really wrong. If there is an absolute standard, how did it get there. The laws of nature surely don’t presuppose morality. So there must be a Lawgiver outside of nature…

    Also note that depending how we define God, they may just have a lot of power, and is not necessarily do whats right. Take for instance Descarte’s evil deceiver.. thats the case of an evil God. The polythiestic religions are littered with evil gods. Theres a related example: what if someone says God told them to kill someone, or even worse, start a war? The question becomes, what God are you talking about? I know there are probably arguments why God must be good, and why your God is right about everything, but I’m just saying, you have to factor those kinds of things in.

    Two things. (1) The Christian God tells us to love (even our enemies). (2) If the Christian God is reasonable. There are instances in the Bible in which people argued with God and God actually changed his mind (i.e. Abraham re. Lot in Sodom; Moses re. golden calf; etc.).

  22. on 24 Apr 2008 at 5:13 pmRon S.

    Very interesting discussions going on here. Though I must say that I do find it a tad odd that athiests would feel the need to come to a small, left of center pro-theism site such as this to defend and/or attack. But it does make for some very interesting debate.

    In Sean’s post #18, I thought he asked a very good question at the end. And I am curious to hear Dan Elton’s (or any of our other visiting atheists) answer to that question.

    The question was: “Would you prefer that God did exist or that He did not exist?” And I would add/ask – Why or Why not?

  23. on 25 Apr 2008 at 8:04 amMorse

    “One more question: Dan, would you prefer that God did exist or that he did not exist? I’m not trying to make a point here, just curious”

    As an atheist, I’ll answer. Though it might be a little disappointing, as I’m going to answer with this question: Which God?

    And I want to follow that up by saying that I would have no problem believing in a god that I didn’t like. My like or dislike for a particular deity has zero relation to whether or not I think that deity exists.

    So describe to me which god (or gods), what attributes they have and what they do, and I’ll tell you whether I’d like them or not.

  24. on 25 Apr 2008 at 8:53 pmJohn Paul

    Morse,

    You seem like an intelligent guy. I don’t think i need to tell you that there are many many perceptions of God out there because you yourself say that with the question. You however are trying to buy time.

    This blog is not just an entity on its own, nor is it a general multi-faith collective of people thoughts on how there versions of God are really all the same one God with different names or something like that. You have decided to engage in a discussion on a Christian Blog, so naturally when the person who runs the blog asks the question about God, you can safely assume he is talking about his God. You really didn’t need this explained to you did you? Surely you have heard of the God of Jesus Christ have you not? Just answer the question in the context of your understanding of that christian God. If you have not, please take the time to search around the Kingdomready.org website to see what our perception of that God is (which is probably quite different from yours.)

    You didn’t answer the question like you said you would. You tried stalling the question by asking for clarity on a particular aspect where clarity was not really needed. But ill give it to you anyway.

    Would you prefer that God (YHWH, God of the nation of israel, and of those professing Jesus Christ is the risen Son) did or did not exist.

    ~JP

  25. on 25 Apr 2008 at 9:08 pmMorse

    “You however are trying to buy time.”

    Given the fact that I posted my response this morning and have been checking your blog all day for a response, I most assuredly am not trying to buy time.

    “You have decided to engage in a discussion on a Christian Blog, so naturally when the person who runs the blog asks the question about God, you can safely assume he is talking about his God.”

    True. But I have talked to many Christians, and each one’s definition of god has, surprisingly, been different. Some believe in the harsh God of the Old Testament, and Jesus is merely an extension of that despite all the talk of love. Some believe in the kind, forgiving Jesus, and that if the Old Testament God did exist he would only act the way he did in the world of the Old Testament, and never again.

    Some believe that to get to Heaven you need only beg Jesus for forgiveness and be born again. Still others think that works are more important than being saved, and many non-Christians will go to Heaven because of that.

    So I was asking a real question. There are over a thousand denomination of Christianity, and so “Christian” is really not as clear an answer as you think it is.

    But fine. I’ll go literally Biblical on you.

    If the Bible is taken literally and God described accurately, I would not want that God to exist. There are several reasons, but probably the strongest is Hell.

    Anyone who advocates eternal punishment for finite crimes is evil. And I would prefer that evil things didn’t exist.

    Does that preference mean that that god doesn’t exist? Not at all. And it’s not the reason I’m an atheist.

    It is the reason, however, that if that god existed, I would certainly not worship him.

  26. on 25 Apr 2008 at 11:08 pmJohn Paul

    Morse,

    Thank you for your response.

    I also pointed out that there are many resources on this site to help you understand where many of the believers on this site are coming from and what our concept of God is. But you responded with your own concept and that is just fine.

    Since you said you would literally go Biblical, and that if the Bible is taken literally you would not want him to exist is mostly because of the concept of hell. I would like you to find a part of the Bible that describes hell as an eternal place of torment/punishment. Literal is your word not mine. Please find me the literal part of the bible you are referring to.

    Of course, you dont have to. I realize im asking you to discuss theology now, and don’t expect you to be comfortable doing that. You have answered the question and I think it has been helpful.

    To find this ministries doctrine and beliefs of what they feel about the judgement you may find this link very helpful.
    http://www.kingdomready.org/topics/death.php

    ~JP

  27. on 27 Apr 2008 at 3:43 pmMorse

    “I would like you to find a part of the Bible that describes hell as an eternal place of torment/punishment.”

    Alright. I’ll give you a few.

    ‘And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched’ Mark 9:45

    ‘In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

    Just two examples.

    But hey, if you don’t believe in a Hell, that’s fine. And if there is a god, and he’s the most wonderful thing ever, and he loves us all, and won’t punish people merely for differences of opinion, that would be lovely. I might even be convinced to worship that god.

    But I see no evidence for that, or any other god, existing. So the point is somewhat moot.

  28. on 28 Apr 2008 at 9:39 amJohn Paul

    Well, just to clarify, in Mark 9:45, its the fire that isn’t quenched.
    What happens to people that are placed in a fire? they get burned up right?

    In 2 Thes, if something is destroyed forever, is it eternal torment?

    I asked which literal part of the bible you were refering to before when you said you would literally “go biblical” on us. You have not done this. Im sorry.

    This might seem all moot to you. A simple question was asked. You could have said that you would prefer that God would not exist, but you tried qualifying it with a theological critique on the ethics of God.

  29. on 28 Apr 2008 at 9:50 amMorse

    It wasn’t a critique. It was my reasoning. And for every Christian like yourself who doesn’t seem to believe the bible speaks of a literal Hell, there are dozens who do.

    Which is fine. Have whatever theology you like. This is the reason I asked “which god” in the first place, because each person interprets the bible differently.

    Just to be clear one last time, my atheism doesn’t rest on whether or not I like the god involved.

    I find Jesus to be an overall good figure. Many good things are attributed to him, and many good ideas. Many bad ones too, but no one is perfect.

    My like for Jesus has no effect one way or another about whether I think he is or was a god.

    I want to make that clear, as that seemed to be where the original question was heading. If not, then I apologize.

  30. on 28 Apr 2008 at 10:21 amJohn Paul

    I want to make that clear, as that seemed to be where the original question was heading. If not, then I apologize.

    OK thanks alot. i was wondering why you kept on making that point. Sean did say in the original question in post 18 that he wasn’t trying to make a point… he was just curious.

    It would be a silly thing for anyone to come on this thread and point and say “see he doesn’t even want there to be a God!!!” it would indeed prove nothing.

    The reason I was so adamant about you finding a place in scripture for hell being a place on eternal torment is because you presented your opinion in such a way that you thought you knew what you were talking about. You said you were going to literally go biblical. That implied you were going to use scripture as a foundation for you reasoning. You analyzed (is that better than critique?) what the bible says that God is going to do with sinners and reasoned that you would prefer that such an “evil” God did not exist. Well thats when you got me curious and was wondering which bible you were using. And this is not a matter of different Gods here either. the doctrine of hell or the eternal soul does not make the God a different person. We are still talking about the Christian God in either instance.

    To prove that point, (in an odd sort of way) I’ll leave the Jesus being God thing alone (because yes, that would indeed be a moot point in the context of this conversation.)

    To reiterate… This whole conversation probably would not have happened if you didn’t make the claim that you were using scripture for your reasoning.

  31. on 28 Apr 2008 at 10:25 amMorse

    Sorry.

    But the fact is, I was using scripture. I was just using an interpretation of that scripture that you happen not to use, and many Christians I know do.

    Forgive me for assuming.

  32. on 28 Apr 2008 at 1:13 pmJohn Paul

    Its ok, its a common assumption.

    I was looking for a literal interpertaion. Im sure if you seach you will find it quite hard to find hades (devils with pichforks running around dealing ironic punishments to unbaptised babys and such) in the Bible.

    You might find it fun to point out to your christian friends that such a place is more steeped in anicient greek folklore than in the bible. Its kind of hard to find a place to tell you that the point of life it to go to heaven when you die as well (again hard to find.)

    So this wasn’t really your interpretation of this scripture. Gotcha.

  33. on 28 Apr 2008 at 1:20 pmMorse

    “So this wasn’t really your interpretation of this scripture. Gotcha.”

    I try not to have an interpretation. I try to read what it says and, if I argue with anyone, I argue their interpretation. Which goes back to my essential meaning when I asked “which god?”

  

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