Another James Randi rant

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by ChurchBoy, Jul 25, 2003.

  1. ChurchBoy

    ChurchBoy
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    For those who do not know who James Randi is, he is the founder of James Randi Educational Foundation. He is a a former magician who is now a professional debunker exposing faither healers, dowsers, physics, etc. He is an atheist who beleives all religion is irrational. He writes a dialy commentary mainly dealing with what is on his mind or exposing frauds. His most recent commentary however was a response to religion. I just wanted to get people's response to the article...

    http://www.randi.org/jr/072503.html
     
  2. Helen

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    He has a lot of faith in his own ability to reason, eh? At any rate, here is a large part of the article cut and pasted here with my comments in italics where I think comments are called for:

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    The structure of Science itself is also in a constant state of development; ideally, it does not have an "orthodox" state into which it settles down comfortably and complacently. It only takes something like a new statistical standard or an observational innovation to change its approach to any event or decision with which it was formerly — tentatively — satisfied, but the true scientist does not regret nor refuse such improvements in approach or technique, rather embracing them and adjusting to the new-and-better understanding of the world that is now available.

    I have not seen this to be the case. Whether Galileo (who was fought by the scientific establishment of his day, by the way...) or Wegener, or any of a multitude of others, science does tend to settle into a 'comfortable' paradigm and resists changes to it most heartily and, sometimes, nastily. As long, however, as the new evidence and changes can be integrated with the existing paradigm, there is no problem, and science is said to be 'self-correcting.

    Religion, in contrast, is repelled by honest doubt, preferring naïve, unquestioning acceptance.

    In contrast to that statement, I would have to say that most of the people I know who are devout Christians have had fierce internal wrestlings regarding the validity of their faith. They are not repelled by honest doubt, are not naive, and most certainly did not accept unquestioningly. I cannot speak for other faiths.

    It is the willingness to adjust that provides a genuine glory to Science, in my amateur opinion.

    Glad he recognizes it as amateur. It is also somewhat uninformed.

    It is in distinct contrast to the axioms of religions, which proudly flaunt their inflexible "truths" to demonstrate that they "know" certain things with certainty.

    I don't know about 'proudly flaunting', but I do know that one of the main foundations of most religions is there there are primary, unchanging truths. Actually, science also operates this way, but with a different set of truths. This is something Randi is not recognizing.

    Yet, the Earth is round, not flat, nor is it the center of the Universe; those revelations were promptly accepted, absorbed, and applied by science — as primitive as it was at that moment in history — and no pain was felt by those who incorporated it into their world-view, though in many cases there must have been some discomfort and surprise, followed by delight.

    Promptly? Except for the fact that the 'flat earth' idea was made up in the early nineteenth century (I think it was), showing that Randi is really ignorant historically, major changes in science have come about after major struggles and often only after the generation opposing the change has died off!

    "Eppur, si muove." Even if he didn't say it, I'm sure he wanted to....

    Yes, I'm a materialist. I'm willing to be shown wrong, but that has not happened — yet.

    I do really appreciate the way Randi has exposed so many fakes. But the idea of all having a material cause is something that itself defies logic.

    And I admit that the reason I'm unable to accept the claims of psychic, occult, and/or supernatural wonders is because I'm Iocked into a world-view that demands evidence rather than blind faith, a view that insists upon the replication of all experiments — particularly those that appear to show violations of a rational world — and a view which requires open examination of the methods used to carry out those experiments. The decision to be a materialist is my own, I made it after many years of consideration of what I observed, and after reading Bertrand Russell and others. Since it was not a mere reaction to incoming information, but the result of examining that information, I'm proud of my decision.

    While I understand his decision after what he has spent his time exposing, it is like declaring all education false because kindergartners don't have calculus under their belts! He has dealt primarily with the false. I wonder if it has ever occurred to him that the only reason false can exist is because there is first that which is true.

    (Aside: I'm proud of being an American, a skeptic, and a bright. I only take pride in those things that I accomplished, not those that I was born with or was given. I chose to be an American, and I earned that distinction, I became and remain a skeptic though it was difficult and still gives me problems, and being a bright is flying in the face of those millions who label me inferior because I'm not superstitious like they are. I don't care; I know and accept the real world.)

    Is it just me, or does he sound terribly defensive there?

    As a child, I was told to believe that savages were doomed to boil in molten sulfur if they did not accept the "merciful" deity that was described to me, even if they had no opportunity of knowing about him/it! That deity, from what I was told, suffered from many serious defects that I was told to avoid. He/it was capricious, insecure, jealous, vindictive, sadistic, and cruel, and demanded constant praise, sacrifice, adulation, and ego-support, or the penalties could be very severe. I found, early on in my observations, that religious people were very fearful, trembling and wondering if they'd committed any infractions of the multitude of rules they had to follow. They were — and are — ruled by fear. That's not my style.

    I think if I had been raised being taught that, I would have rejected it, too. I wonder if he ever actually read the Bible. All of it, cover to cover...? He evidently got raised by some sort of hell-raising, legalistic, severe parents/group. That is too bad. Nevertheless, God has, I am sure, allowed him to see certain important truths for himself, which he has evidently rejected. Maybe not....maybe there is still something there? God knows his heart.

    But it was the incredible stories I was told, that really made me rear back in disbelief. For examples, they told me, some 2,000 years ago a mid-East virgin was impregnated by a ghost of some sort, and as a result produced a son who could walk on water, raise the dead, turn water into wine, and multiply loaves of bread and fishes. All that was in addition to tossing out demons. He expected and accepted a brutal, sadistic, death — and then he rose from the dead.

    It's hart to know whether he is simply making fun of Christ or if this is actually the way he learned it. Even if it is the latter, however, he has had plenty of time to read the truth for himself and actually look into things...

    There was much, much, more. Adam and Eve, they said, were the original humans, plunked down in a garden to start our species going. But I didn't understand, and still don't, that they had only two children, both sons — and one of them killed the other — yet somehow they produced enough people to populate the Earth, without incest, which was a big no-no!

    He clearly here has not paid attention to what the Bible has said and indicated in these several areas. Adam and Eve had a number of children, and incest was not a problem and not even defined or forbidden until the time of Moses.

    Then some prophet or other made the Earth stop turning, an army blew horns until a wall fell down, a guy named Moses made the Red Sea divide in two, and made frogs fall out of the sky….

    Incredible ignorance here. This, folks, it the epitome of the 'straw man' which he builds in order to knock down! It amazes me that he can be so careful about his investigations in some areas but accept this kind of nonsense in rejecting the Bible.

    I needn't go on. And that's only a small start on one religion! The Wizard of Oz is more believable. And more fun.

    I wonder how many who read his column will recognize his either intended or accidental ignorance of what he is talking about.

    I keep hearing, from the parapsychologists, the religious, and the occultists, about this unwillingness they point to, a reluctance by certain skeptics to consider the evidence. There may well be skeptics out there who match that description, but I don't know of any. I've heard that the skeptics' postulated refusal to believe, parallels and even exceeds the dedication of the most ardent reincarnation enthusiast, spoon-bending buff, or UFO devotee. I've also seen attempts to delineate the more or less nonrational bases that underlie such extreme positions.

    It's said, quite correctly, that the human mind needs to form an understandable picture of the universe in which it lives; pattern-seeking is a basic survival technique hard-wired into us. We also seek to have an understanding of our own existence, and we often find that adopting what can be described as a religious or a "religious-metaphysical" world-view seems to make it easier to make sense of the perceived riddle of existence. I find that skeptics, generally speaking, eschew belief in metaphysical, untestable, unscientific hypotheses, but credophiles prefer to believe that — when pressed — we skeptics will confess to having adopted at least some degree of metaphysical outlook. This can only be the credophiles' desperate attempt at wishful thinking, a declaration that they cannot believe that not everyone is credulous. It's just something they can't relate to, nor accept.

    Here he is denigrating the beliefs of others while elevating his belief in his own ability to tell the truth about things. This is actually self-idolatry, I think, and when you see it that way makes it appear most absurd. At least to me....

    Here is how the credophiles see us skeptics, and how they try to make themselves appear rational, in contrast to our giddy ways: They will admit that many of them have adopted unorthodox religious positions — and they may include in that list such obvious and ridiculous straw-men as Theosophy and Scientology, just to show that they're not totally bereft of common sense. They say that while many skeptics disclaim any religious proclivities, yet, they add, upon careful examination, they too may often be seen to have a profound belief in what the credophiles see as the "metaphysical doctrine" that they call, "materialism." This doctrine, they say, denies the existence of such entities as minds, souls, and spirits, and asserts that the physical universe constitutes the entirety of reality. They point out that as materialism cannot be said to be scientifically or philosophically proven, this embrace on our part may be due to a reaction to certain events and trends in the history of science.

    This is a cart-and-horse inversion, in my opinion. To digress momentarily, let me provide here a view and an approach that I have given before. Readers will be aware of the million-dollar prize that is offered by the JREF. Many — a majority — of the applicants for that prize challenge us to disprove their claim(s). We point out that we make no claims, and we only require them to prove theirs; we do not, and will not, attempt to disprove that which they claim is true. Similarly, skeptics do not attempt to prove materialism. It is simply the best, most logical, reasonable, explanation of the universe. That's using parsimony. And materialism can be tested — a feature the credophiles often say is not acceptable nor necessary within their supernatural world-view.

    It is not the most reasonable or the most parsimonious view, actually. It posits that complex thinking and analysis, such as he attempts, comes from blind material causes. If that is the case, then how on earth can he know that his thoughts are even rational, let alone logical or parsimonious? He has nothing to compare them to, in his worldview, that is not also of blind material causes. Logic then becomes an accident which cannot prove itself true. He has painted himself into a philosophical corner here.

    Skeptics do not allow the invention of convenient but untestable situations or entities to establish a claim, nor do they accept that mental or spiritual properties can be ascribed to physical matter, which is the origin of the idea of holy relics and locations. Buddha's tooth, the Shroud of Turin, Lourdes, the Black Stone of Mecca, are examples. Aristotle, upon whose teachings much of Christianity is based, taught that there were "crystalline spheres" that carried the planets and stars on their celestial voyages, and that they were associated with incorporeal, undefined "movers" that provided the forces that kept them in motion. He thought that these "movers" were spiritual in nature, and that the relationship of a mover to its sphere was like that of a soul to its body. This view was amplified by later interpreters of Aristotle such as Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century who taught that baser matter was likewise conceived to have psychological properties.

    His history is abominable where religion is concerned. Judaism vastly predates Aristotle, and Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism. Roman Catholicism may fit part of what he is talking about there, but biblical Christianity certainly doesn't! The Jews considered the Greeks dogs! There is no way they would have based the early Christian faith (upon which the rest of Christianity is built) on anything Greek, EVER!

    Aristotle wrote that a terrestrial object fell to the ground due to its "aspiration" to reach its "natural place." This animistic view of the universe is also found in the work of William Gilbert, the English physician. He endorsed the ideas of the Greek philosopher Thales, who attributed magnetic attraction to the action of a "magnetic soul" in the naturally magnetic mineral known as lodestone, the attraction brought about by the emission of a "magnetic effluvium" by the mineral. Gilbert also believed that the Earth itself had a magnetic soul. In its position so near the Sun, he said, the Earth's soul perceived the Sun's magnetic field, and reasoned that its one side would burn up while the other would freeze, if it did not act, thus it chose to revolve upon its axis, and then decided to incline its axis at a slight angle in order to bring about the variation of seasons.

    Do not err by condemning Aristotle and Harvey as poor thinkers; they were not. Other matters they wrote about were well handled. It's likely that if they'd had access to the improved knowledge that was developed after their period of existence, they would have accepted and celebrated that input; they were scientists, though the strict discipline of that profession had not been arrived at when they declared their conclusions. The fact that these fantastic animistic views of the matter constituting the Universe have now vanished as a result of scientific advances, must not lead us to disdain the ideas of the ancients; they did the best they could, and because of the freely-created inventions of their religions — virgin birth and loaves-and-fishes stories always spring to mind — they found no difficulty with their arguably less fanciful assumptions. However, it seems high time for the paranormalists, occultists, and religious enthusiasts of today to accept that their own assumptions are also no more, and no longer, acceptable. We need to grow up.

    I have a feeling he is in for a few nasty surprises in his future. The fact that the virgin birth was accepted as fact while the woman was still living, and that there were, literally, thousands of witnesses to the other miracles -- and that none of these people disputed the accounts -- should make him think a little more carefully about what he is saying.

    Religion is behind so many of the major tragedies of humanity. A new book by Jon Krakauer is titled, "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith." The current perception of Islam as a particularly militant religion — officially fanned and embellished to justify our presence in Iraq, in my opinion — invokes horrid memories of the Branch Davidian cult fiasco and the Aum Shinricko nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway of a few years ago, and of the 1978 "doomsday" suicide of the faithful in the Jim Jones' People's Temple sect. These are just a few dramatic instances of the effects of religious zeal that made the more conservative believers recoil and perhaps even doubt — momentarily — the wisdom of their faith.

    That which is false does not invalidate that which is true.

    It need not have taken such sudden, bloody, high-profile events to call our attention to this problem. Other more pervasive, ongoing situations to which we seem to have become accustomed because of their constant presence in our lives, should command equal alarm. The Israeli-Palestinian tragedy, the Catholic-Protestant war in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka's Tamil-Sinhalese feud, and the Hindu-Muslim atrocities that daily take lives and bring terror and agony to so many, are only continuations of the ages-old confrontations between varieties of religious delusions. Desperate efforts to sustain — by any means — the rule and power of in-place religious systems that insist they have The Way to salvation and eternal life, as so well demonstrated in the bloody Catholic Inquisition that released us not too long ago, illustrate equally well that so much of our conflict is a direct result of the presence of religion. And, in cases of such minor events as local elections, the religion card can and often is played, with great success. We cherish our mistakes, and we defend them. Often to the death.

    As it appears he will be doing. I would want to tell him that it is very hard to distort a truth unless there is a truth to distort. He has chosen to attack the distortions in large part. Has it occurred to him that there is something they are distorting?

    And the attitude that superstitious beliefs such as religion are harmless, is quite wrong. Richard Dawkins recently observed, in www.thehumanist.org/humanist/articles/dawkins.html:


    I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. Faith, being belief that isn't based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.

    That is not the definition of faith that I know and which I live in my life. Rather, faith is based on the EVIDENCE of things not seen; it is 'being ure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.' That's a little different from what he is claiming. Faith is walking by what you believe to be true. He is doing the same thing in claiming to be a materialist!

    And who, looking at Northern Ireland or the Middle East, can be confident that the brain virus of faith is not exceedingly dangerous?
    I have always differentiated between "blind faith" and "evidence derived faith." From now on, I'll use the word "faith" and not insert "blind." Rather than "evidence derived faith" I'll use "confidence." I have confidence in the rising of the Sun tomorrow — or, more correctly, the turning of the Earth to face the Sun! — and I have faith that George W. Bush will eventually cease appealing to a deity or invoking prayer in every one of his public appearances....

    Maybe Bush has confidence in the reality of a God who listens!

    The credophiles try to establish a parallel between science and religion. This is a useless pursuit; these ideas are exact opposites of one another. No, as Dawkins also writes, "Although it has many of religion's virtues, [science] has none of its vices. Science is based upon verifiable evidence."

    Science has its place, but it depends upon man's ability to reason and understand and put together the evidence correctly. There is no guarantee men are doing this at all! The vice of science is an over-dependance on man's ability to know and conclude. This is actually a very dangerous vice, for it is not only a prideful one, it is one which can and has hurt thousands of people in the process.

    We find religion in so much of our history, our philosophy, our everyday lives, and our legal system. Miscegenation was banned based on Biblical rules, slavery was justified by the same book. It's convenient to have an ancient set of rules to back up odious actions and behavior, especially when it can be argued that a certain amount of "interpretation" — though never outright denial! — is necessary for them to properly be applied to any given situation. In that regard, I reject the tired arguments that try to excuse perfectly obvious errors and blunders of religion by insisting that "it doesn't really mean that." It means what it says, and no amount of alibi-ing and explaining will convince me that they didn't intend the faithful to actually believe that the Universe was created in seven days. Make up your mind: either it's right, or it's wrong.

    He's right about that! The writing and meaning and truth of that are clear. It is a choice people make to believe men instead of God there.

    Spare me the argument that we owe so much of our art and culture to religion; that's a misattribution. The great architecture, paintings, music, and sculpture that poured forth in adulation of saints, deities and their offspring, and the blessed deceased, were commissioned, sponsored and paid for by those who offered them as sacrifices, penance, homage, and public relations. Those offerings were items of insurance, appeasements, and bribes, to neutralize transgressions or to obtain a better position on line. They were prompted by fear. I agree that we're better off for the wealth of creative work that we're able to share as a result of this apprehension, but I often think of how much better it could have been if the work had been directed to, and designed for, our species — rather than for mythical beings in the sky or under the ground.

    He brings up some interesting points there... [​IMG]

    Well, I thank the mythology for giving me Handel's "Messiah," but that doesn't make up for the suffering, grief, fear, and the millions of dead that need not have been....

    He's making a false connection there, and given his lifetime of work in uncovering falsehoods, he should know better.

    Consider: a man believes — beyond any doubt — that his god is the only god, is all-powerful and all-knowing, has created him and the entire universe around him, and is capricious, jealous, vindictive, and violent. That same god offers the man a choice between burning in eternal agony in a fully-defined hell, or living forever in a variety of paradises — some of which involve streets of gold and others an ample supply of virgin delights. Is there any choice here? Will the man fail to carry out any command or whim of this deity? How can we doubt that religion is a compulsory system that absolutely rules its adherents? It's a tyranny, a trap, a disaster of infinite size and scope. I'll have none of it.

    He will not have a choice about having some of it. The point that is important is that it has either been badly misrepresented to him or he is misrepresenting it himself or possibly both.

    Examine the notion of a "loving god." This god only loves you if you follow the rules.

    Definitely not true.

    No questions, no doubts, no objections, are allowed.

    The Bible also disagrees with this statement.

    "Because I said so, that's why." He/she/it loves you as a farmer loves a draft-animal; you're useful, you obey, and you're docile.

    Hardly. That's a total straw man!

    If you stray, your firstborn will be murdered, if you don't follow a capricious order, you're a pillar of salt. This is "love"? If so, I'll take indifference.

    Total misrepresentation or misunderstanding. He's old enough to know better. He's had time to read and research for himself. He should have done so before writing such obviously nonsensical material.

    Unlike the religious, who have it all cut-and-dried, predigested and served up to them, I'm willing to be shown.

    Shown what? That the Bible does not say what he says it does? That there is a non-material cause to things? What is it that he is willing to be shown?

    But I will not entertain the argument of threats and fear, I will not fall for the "we don't know everything" throw-down, and I haven't the time to argue the endless anecdotal tales of which the faithful are so fond.

    Even courts accept eyewitness testimonies!

    What do I believe in? I believe in the basic goodness of my species,

    How does he, or CAN he, define 'good'? If we are basically good, how can religion have provoked such horrid things as he has mentioned? And religion is not even the half of it, really -- the grab for land and power have done ever so much more in terms of violence and damage to people and civilizations.

    I also wonder if he has ever had a child -- had a two-year old who threw tantrums without ever being taught; had a teenager who lied and sneaked in order to get his or her own way? Had a boss refuse to pay him or fire him on false pretenses? Those who have been involved in these daily occurrences are probably not so likely to agree with him about the basic goodness of man. If we were basically good, we would not need laws, actually, for we would be able to operate in terms of our own natures rather than have to learn the self-discipline to control those natures we were born with!



    because that appears to be a positive tactic and quality that leads to better chances of survival — and in spite of our foolishness, we seem to have survived. I believe that this system of aging and eventually dying — a system that is the result of the evolutionary process, not of conscious effort — is an excellent process that makes room for hopefully improved members of the species, in an increasingly limited environment. I believe that if we don't smarten up and get a sense of reality and pragmatism, our species will do what they all eventually do: it will cease to exist, prematurely. I also believe that we will get smart, because that's a survival technique, and we're really pretty good at that....

    He's using his own standards here. How does he know they are right or even real? They are the products of the very forces we seem to spend so much time fighting through science!

    I also believe in puppy-dogs and a child's sparkling eyes, in laughter and smiles, in sunflowers and butterflies. Mountains and icebergs, snowflakes and clouds, are delights to me.

    Believe in what about them? Believe they exist? No argument there. Believe they are cute or beautiful? That is his opinion, and others have a right to disagree with it. Believe in WHAT about these things? That's fine that they are delights to him. He has never had his best chair chewed up by a puppy, or perhaps never been deceived by that lovely child's sparkling eyes. People who have been frostbit have a different opinion about icebergs and snowflakes possibly... It's all a matter of opinion. What delights one person can terrify or bother another. That has nothing to do with belief. Maybe he just believes in his own ability to be delighted by certain things? Or perhaps he is just trying to declare his own humanity? I didn't doubt his humanity from the beginning anyway!


    Yes, I know that this perception is the result of hard-wiring in my brain, along with the added input of experience and association, but that does not subtract a bit from my appreciation of phenomena. I know that others, both of my species and not, may not share my awe and acceptance of these elements that so please me, because they have different needs and reactions. A cloud is a mass of condensed water-vapor in the atmosphere, I know. But it can be a sailing-ship, a demon, an eagle, if I allow myself to be a human being, and though many will doubt it, I frequently do.

    Author Krakauer, in his book "Under the Banner of Heaven," dealing with the premise that violence and fanaticism can be found readily available in religion, writes:

    Although the far territory of the extreme can exert an intoxicating pull on susceptible individuals of all bents, extremism seems to be especially prevalent among those inclined by temperament or upbringing toward religious pursuits. Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a critical component of spiritual devotion. And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God . . .
    "Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a critical component of spiritual devotion." That says it all.

    Faith is the ultimate in reasonableness, actually, unless one has to prove to oneself everything one does each time one does it! Or thinks it. Or says it. Our lives operate on faith at least 95% of the time! It just depends on faith in what. For Randi, the faith is obviously in himself.
     
  3. Elena

    Elena
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    EF LOL, Helen has more patience than I do. Randi is expressing his opinion. Much of it is right on the money. Religious obsession, has led to many ills (I count ye-creationism as a religious obsession). However, religion has also led to much good in the world. It's only when religion is perverted into some socio-political agenda that we do harm. When we attempt to legislate Christianity (or some cultish version of such), we are doomed to fail. When we teach love, care and understanding, we make great strides in leading others to a healthy religious viewpoint. IMO, ye-creationism is anathema to what Jesus taught.
     
  4. ChurchBoy

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    Elena,

    You just had to take a shot at YEC didn't you? :rolleyes: Oh, well...Mr. Randi doesn't seem to have read the Bible much. He missrepresents Christianity, probably on purpose to mock God, IMHO.
     
  5. mdkluge

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    Churchboy wrote:
    Well, SOMEONE had to tie in this thread SOMEHOW to Creation/Evolution...

    My considered response to Randi's article is BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORING.
     
  6. Helen

    Helen
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    Thought this would be interesting to add to this thread:

    ==============

    Stephen M. Barr is a theoretical particle physicist at the Bartol Research
    Institute of the University of Delaware

    &gt;Book Review
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Modern Physics and Ancient Faith
    &gt;by Stephen M. Barr
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Reviewed by Thomas P. Sheahen
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Scientific materialism has had the upper hand against religion for
    &gt;about two centuries. It's always had critics, and now has a very able one in
    &gt;Stephen Barr, author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. Combining an
    &gt;in-depth knowledge of physics, mathematics and logic with his careful
    &gt;reading of Biblical texts and interpretations over the centuries, Barr
    &gt;shows that (contrary to popular supposition) it is religion that has
    &gt;the more plausible and coherent understanding of the universe, life,
    &gt;and mankind.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Barr's balanced and accessible book looks closely at the debate
    &gt;over what it means to know something. His central thesis is that the
    &gt;scientific materialists have got it all wrong, and their viewpoint is
    &gt;incoherent. Initially, they based their attacks on a misunderstanding
    &gt;of Judeo-Christian religion, and then formulated "facts" that were
    &gt;really just beliefs of a different kind. By the end of the 19th
    &gt;century, most scientists presumed the universe to be totally
    &gt;deterministic, which gave scientific materialism its dominance.
    &gt;However, 20th-century science has swept away the most basic premises
    &gt;underlying that viewpoint.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Barr first presents the arguments of the scientific materialists,
    &gt;and points out where there is merit in their position. He concedes
    &gt;that absolute proof is lacking on both sides, and asserts that the
    &gt;contest is for credibility and plausibility. He concludes that
    &gt;religious faith presents the most complete picture, and that scientific
    &gt;materialism ends up denying the validity of its own methodology.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Modern Physics and Ancient Faith is arranged in five parts:
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;1. The Conflict between Religion and Materialism
    &gt;2. In the Beginning
    &gt;3. Is the Universe Designed?
    &gt;4. Man's Place in the Cosmos
    &gt;5. What is Man?
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Part 1
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; The history of the antagonism between science and religion is
    &gt;sketched here. Early on, science saw itself as the debunker of
    &gt;religious superstition, and by the end of the 19th century, determinism
    &gt;seemed very convincing. Then came five "plot twists":
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Relativity and the Big Bang supported the idea of a beginning.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; New physics theories came along that stressed the beauty and
    &gt;symmetry of equations, perhaps taking physics into higher dimensions.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Anthropic Coincidences were found.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; There are realities not made of matter; and materialism is
    &gt; inconsistent.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Because of quantum mechanics, determinism is out and free will is
    &gt;restored.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Each of these "plot twists" undercut an oversimplified materialist
    &gt;assumption. Barr walks carefully through the arguments favoring
    &gt;materialism, and shows that the core belief of materialism amounts to
    &gt;"Materialism is true because materialism must be true." He ends part 1
    &gt;with a very clear statement of purpose: "I am claiming that on the
    &gt;critical points recent discoveries have begun to confound the
    &gt;materialist's expectations and confirm those of the believer in God."
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Part 2
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; This deals with the beginning of the universe. Scientific
    &gt;materialism wants the universe to be eternal and have no beginning - it
    &gt;should just always "be." Late it the 19th century it might have seemed
    &gt;so, but 20th-century discoveries have shown that there was a beginning.
    &gt;Barr cites a number of ancient writers, including St. Augustine, who
    &gt;asserted that God created space and time together. Indeed, God is not
    &gt;just a cause within "time", but is the continuing cause of everything.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; It is a standard part of anti-religion myth that religion is
    &gt;hostile to science, but it's not so. To make this point, Barr quotes
    &gt;from the Psalms and other biblical texts to demonstrate those authors'
    &gt;understanding of God as an engineer. He also introduces the reader to
    &gt;the notion that symmetry in equations is a form of beauty, which
    &gt;demonstrates a level of sophistication in the design of the universe
    &gt;that had previously escaped attention.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Part 3
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; "Is the universe designed?" first presents the Argument from
    &gt;Design for the existence of God, and then presents various attacks upon
    &gt;that argument
    &gt;-- the most familiar being natural selection. Barr carefully follows where
    &gt;this line of thinking leads, and concludes "How ironic that, having
    &gt;renounced belief in God because God is not material or observable by sense
    &gt;or instrument, the atheist may be driven to postulate not one but an
    &gt;infinitude of unobservables in the material world itself!"
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Barr provides an exceptionally clear presentation of the way
    &gt;symmetry principles are so important in contemporary physics. He leads
    &gt;his reader through the changes in physics-theory that took place during
    &gt;the 20th century; the phrase "we took something for granted" stands
    &gt;out. He uses a very relatable example of marbles to convey several
    &gt;concepts, including free energy; the mathematical concept of a group is
    &gt;likewise presented very clearly.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Continuing about symmetry in the laws of nature, Barr presents
    &gt;several examples of symmetry, often hidden, such as the Golden Ratio.
    &gt;On page 100 he explains SU(3) symmetry with great clarity. He briefly
    &gt;mentions superstring theory and M-theory, and emphasizes that these
    &gt;very modern developments are based entirely on symmetry, motivated by
    &gt;physicists' strong belief in symmetry.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Incidentally, chapters 11 and 12 can even be of enormous help to
    &gt;students striving to learn physics. Nowhere has this reviewer seen
    &gt;important concepts about symmetry in physics presented as well.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Subsequently, Barr directly confronts materialist assertions about
    &gt;natural selection and chance by distinguishing between "symmetric
    &gt;structure" and "organic structure." Even if Darwinian chance and
    &gt;natural selection explain the observed organic structure, it can't
    &gt;explain away the symmetric structure of physics. Barr says that he
    &gt;will accept natural selection for biology, rather than argue the point.
    &gt;Evolution happened, but it doesn't explain everything in biology (such
    &gt;as the Cambrian Explosion.) He insists that we should keep an open
    &gt;mind about how evolution happened. To address the "blind watchmaker"
    &gt;argument, Barr points out that the factory that cranks out watches
    &gt;needs explaining!
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Barr's main point running through chapters 11, 12, and 13 is that
    &gt;the symmetry and order that you can see is based on a deeper and more
    &gt;profound symmetry. Further, it is that pattern which points to a
    &gt;designer. Barr avoids the term "intelligent design," (probably because
    &gt;it comes with so much baggage these days), but there is no question
    &gt;that he finds design in the universe at a very profound level.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Part 4:
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;"Man's Place in the Cosmos" begins (chapter 14) with a brief summary of
    &gt;the materialists' expectations: "This idea of the progressive
    &gt;'dethronement' or marginalization of man by scientific discovery is
    &gt;perhaps the central claim of scientific materialists. It lies at the
    &gt;core of their view of reality. The question is whether it is justified
    &gt;by a dispassionate examination of the scientific data, or is based on
    &gt;their own philosophical preconceptions."
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Eleven examples of Anthropic Coincidences are given in chapter 15,
    &gt;although Barr invites the reader to skip over some where the physics
    &gt;might appear foreboding. Again, his writing style and ability to
    &gt;communicate ideas makes this material more accessible than some other
    &gt;writers. His explanation of the "three-alpha" resonance is very clear
    &gt;and does not suffer from oversimplification.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Chapter 16 deals with objections that have been raised against
    &gt;giving significance to these Anthropic Coincidences. The objections
    &gt;are rooted in the desire to avoid falling back into "Teleology" -
    &gt;attributing a purpose to everything -- which delayed the progress of
    &gt;science long ago. There is widespread confidence that there will be a
    &gt;scientific explanation of all these coincidences somewhere, someday.
    &gt;Barr goes through each major objection and examines it carefully, never
    &gt;asking for absolute proof, but rather asking what is the most plausible
    &gt;conclusion to draw.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; The alternative conclusions that can be drawn from the Anthropic
    &gt;Coincidences are stated in chapter 17: a) they are total coincidences,
    &gt;nothing more; b) there is a purely natural scientific explanation; c)
    &gt;they show that we were "built in from the beginning." The Weak
    &gt;Anthropic Principle says it's just dumb luck that our planet is
    &gt;habitable, and we are here to observe it all. This leads to the
    &gt;hypothesis that there must be a "multiverse," and Barr follows down
    &gt;that path of reasoning. His close scrutiny brings us to this
    &gt;conclusion about the multiverse: "It seems that to abolish one
    &gt;unobservable God, it takes an infinite number of unobservable
    &gt;substitutes."
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; The question "Why is the universe so big?" is the subject of
    &gt;chapter 18, and here we are back into physics again. It takes 1.5
    &gt;billion years for life to evolve, and in all that time the universe has
    &gt;been expanding, which is why it is so big by now. With exceptional
    &gt;clarity, Barr argues that man is the "right size" at the geometric mean
    &gt;between {the size of the planet} and {the size of an atom}.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Part 5
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; The final part of the book, "What is Man?" is the place where all
    &gt;the pieces come together. Chapter 19 contrasts the religious view and
    &gt;the materialist view, presents the materialist arguments fairly, and on
    &gt;p. 174 states the real issue: can intelligence and free will be understood in
    &gt;purely physical and mechanical terms? The rest of the book is devoted to
    &gt;"two ... discoveries, one in physics and one in mathematics, that seem
    &gt;very much to strengthen the case against the materialist view of this
    &gt;question and to weaken the case against the religious view."
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Free Will is the subject of chapter 20, and it explains how quantum
    &gt;mechanics and indeterminacy provide an opening for free will to act. There
    &gt;is no incompatibility with free will in the human brain. There really
    &gt;are ways in which the things we know intuitively are correct
    &gt;perceptions - if you're too skeptical, there will be nothing you
    &gt;believe in at all. Barr looks at the materialists' explanation that
    &gt;free will is an illusion, and concludes that the materialist denies too
    &gt;much - even his own freedom.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; Chapter 21 looks at intelligence and reason, and discusses how
    &gt;humans can think abstractly. Barr uses the number pi in several
    &gt;examples to illustrate that it is possible to have certainty. The
    &gt;notion that "it's all just neurons firing" is inadequate and circular
    &gt;reasoning. The question "what is the intellect made of?" may not be a
    &gt;coherent question, because the intellect might not be material at all.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;The question "Is the human mind just a computer?" is posed in chapter
    &gt;22. Barr answers "No." He presents the Lucas-Penrose argument, which
    &gt;deals with logic - as contrasted to mathematics - and relies on Godel's
    &gt;Theorem. For most people, these concepts invoke a glaze-over effect,
    &gt;but in this book the reader will find a clear explanation of some very
    &gt;important concepts: the distinction between consistent and
    &gt;inconsistent formal systems is used to show that consistent systems
    &gt;contain propositions that are undecidable within that system. To
    &gt;decide, you must go outside the system. A human can show that a
    &gt;statement is true, but the computer can't prove it. A key distinction
    &gt;is that humans are fallible but not inconsistent. An associated
    &gt;Appendix C presents the argument in greater depth. This reviewer (a
    &gt;physicist) found chapter 22 to be the most difficult in the book, but well
    &gt;worth the extra effort required.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Chapter 23 goes on to examine what the human mind has that computers
    &gt;lack. Barr uses the example of a person looking at a maze from above,
    &gt;seeing all that someone inside the 2-dimensional maze cannot see; this
    &gt;is reminiscent of Flatland. The human mind goes beyond the formal
    &gt;rules and gains insight into the rules themselves. The essence of
    &gt;understanding is to grasp the simplest unifying principle of something.
    &gt;By contrast, materialists fail to do so, and they presume atheism and
    &gt;then dismiss facts.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Next, Barr shows that the human mind cannot be reduced to physics.
    &gt;Quantum theory is incompatible with materialism. In quantum theory,
    &gt;you start with probabilities, but these turn into facts via
    &gt;measurements. There has to be an observer - a link between mind and
    &gt;matter. Thus, you want to describe both the observer and what he
    &gt;observes; but you can't do so, because the observer cannot be totally
    &gt;described by physics. The observer is definite and real, not described
    &gt;by a wave function Psi and probability Psi Squared. Measurement is the
    &gt;key concept of this chapter. A change in the wave function Psi
    &gt;represents a change in our knowledge of the system. The observer must
    &gt;be outside the system of quantum theory. The observer's mind is the
    &gt;place where the decision is made that one state actually did occur -
    &gt;that is where probability is changed into fact.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Alternatives to traditional quantum theory are the subject of chapter
    &gt;25. Here Barr is being polite and inclusive by describing theories he
    &gt;himself doesn't believe in - the favorite theories of people who don't
    &gt;like quantum theory. The "many worlds" theory is consistent with
    &gt;quantum theory, but you must pay a high price: zillions of "yourself"
    &gt;of which you have no cognizance.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;In a final chapter, Barr assembles the many threads of argument that
    &gt;dismantle scientific materialism. He writes "To bring all the mental
    &gt;processes of a reasoning being within some finished mathematical
    &gt;description proves to be impossible." and "The materialist seems to be
    &gt;forced to assert of himself not only that he is a machine, which for
    &gt;most people is absurd enough, but that he is really an infinite number
    &gt;of inconsistent machines ...." The basic supposition of materialism is
    &gt;that everything is reducible to laws and equations - to understand
    &gt;something rationally is the same thing as to understand it through laws
    &gt;and equations and quantities. Barr asks rhetorically "But what gives us
    &gt;the right to expect that all of reality is reducible to such
    &gt;mathematical treatment? How often are the questions we ask in life
    &gt;answerable by equations? ... Is all of wisdom, all of morality, all of
    &gt;beauty, all of understanding a matter of numbers and laws?" He closes
    &gt;by stating clearly that the argument for materialism is completely
    &gt;circular, of the form "materialism is true because materialism is
    &gt;true." That's not good enough.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Summary::
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;The central accomplishment of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith is to
    &gt;show that the deterministic and materialistic viewpoint that dominated
    &gt;science at the end of the 19th century has been completely swept away
    &gt;by the science of the 20th century.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Two major assets of this book are the clarity of writing style and the
    &gt;coherent organization of the sequence of topics. From the historical
    &gt;perspective given in chapter 1 to the detailed logical reasoning of
    &gt;appendix C, Barr gently leads the reader upward at a comfortable pace,
    &gt;avoiding the tendency to leap into the domain of specialists.
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;When someone studies and understands a field in depth, they also
    &gt;understand its limits. Stephen Barr, equipped with an exceptionally
    &gt;thorough knowledge of physics and mathematics, is able to see the
    &gt;limits of physics, and sees the flaw in "the idea that all of reality
    &gt;is nothing but physics." A lot of people well-schooled in philosophy
    &gt;and theology (but not in science) cannot do that, and hence have been
    &gt;intimidated by the assertions of materialists. Consequently, for 100
    &gt;years they have regarded science as their enemy. With this book,
    &gt;religiously-inclined thinkers have received a gift from within the
    &gt;field of physics - a gift that says "Materialism is a false god; we're
    &gt;back to square one. You certainly can have something to say, and need
    &gt;not retreat from the playing field."
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt; On rare occasions, a book comes along that considers seriously
    &gt;what it means to actually know something; the books Insight by Bernard
    &gt;J.F. Lonergan and Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi come to mind.
    &gt;Stephen Barr thus joins a very elite company by looking so closely at
    &gt;the concept of knowledge, and its association with the mind/brain
    &gt;problem. Despite the considerable "physics" content of Modern Physics
    &gt;and Ancient Faith, Barr's skill at writing and explaining concepts
    &gt;makes this book a pleasure to read. It is accessible to the diligent
    &gt;first-year college student who cares enough to think about the question
    &gt;"What is Man?"
    &gt;
    &gt;
    &gt;Who should read this book? All those who want to see what is wrong
    &gt;with scientific materialism. The prerequisite is not to have advanced
    &gt;knowledge of physics, math, and logic. Rather, it is to bring an open
    &gt;mind and a willingness to re-examine notions that were too easily taken
    &gt;for granted. Basically, that is exactly what 20th-century science did
    &gt;to 19th-century science. In the 21st century, we would like to see
    &gt;religion and science move forward together as partners; Modern Physics
    &gt;and Ancient Faith provides a very solid foundation from which to begin
    &gt;that progress.
     
  7. Helen

    Helen
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    I must admit to not knowing what a "Bright" was, which Randi refers to himself as. This website, however, explains it. Don't be drinking or eating something at the same time, please, as I am sure anyone of any pursuasion will find something in some comment to choke on!

    http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000239.html
     
  8. ColoradoFB

    ColoradoFB
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    James Randi has done a great service to Christianity by exposing the fraud, Peter Popoff, for what he is.
     
  9. Helen

    Helen
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    I totally agree with you there.
     
  10. mdkluge

    mdkluge
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    Oh dear! Another word (Bright) being lost to the English language. That's a terrible word to lose.

    As that Bright Humanist Isaac Asimov lamented, the appropriation of the word "gay" by--well--gays, has impovrished the English language. Gay was such a great word, and our language shouldn't be without it. One proposal was to call gays by an appropriate synonym that the English language could do without. "Fabulous" was the preferred choice. It had to be an extraordinarily positive word, but one that the English language could get by without. Unfortunately "fabulous" never took off, so we are still constricted in our use of "gay".

    But maybe we'll succeed better this time with "Bright". My Word Processor's thesaurus lists as synonyms: brilliant, vivid, intense, dazzling, light, clear, intelligent. Only vivid and dazzling are sufficiently extravagant. Which one will we give up to rescue "bright" for the English language?
     
  11. Steven O. Sawyer

    Steven O. Sawyer
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    People like Randi do perform valuable services (I believe the exposure of the charlatan Peter Popov was mentioned as a service to Christianity - I agree). But he and others trained to think only in terms of naturalism as the limit of reality cannot accept other possibilities.

    Let me take one example... dowsing. Randi has debunked dowsing for years as not being any more statistically meaningful than chance. The problem is that if you KNOW there is something to it from personal experience, then all the statistics and all the debunking experts and all the false dowsers in the world that are exposed will not convince you that there is not something to it. After all, if you've done it yourself, you KNOW it's true and all the scientific knowledge and all the naturalistic expalnations won't change that.

    I dowsed in my pre-Christian days... back when I was an atheist myself. There is nothing quite like watching a Y-shaped stick beging to pull down the closer you get to a water source and then bend over so forcefully that the bark literally started to come off because you were gripping the branch so tightly and were TRYING to twist the branch back to the upright position because you thought dowsing was bunk and your atheistic worldview was being challenged. In other words, it wasn't some subconcious nervous twitch lowering the brach towards the ground... it was more like holding a limber fishing pole with a 5 pound bass hooked on the other end... the branch was BENT OVER from an unseen force.

    Naturalists, please explain THAT one to me!

    Years later I became a Christian and I now believe dowsing is occultic and I would never do it again nor do I recommend that anyone play with anything occultic. But that experience made me begin to question my atheistic worldview when I was about 20 years old.

    Just because scientists deny the "wierd" as well as Biblical statements about a 6-day creation does not mean they really know what they are talking about when it comes to the real reality because God exists and interacts with His creation and other supernatural beings, both good and evil, also exist and interact for the souls of men and women.
     
  12. Elena

    Elena
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    EF Oh my! Actually, this explains a lot regarding your creationist beliefs. Reality is not constituted by our beliefs. You don't make something true because you believe it to be true. Think of all the visions of psychopaths, they are certainly 'true' for the people having the delusions, but they do not constitute reality. Dowsing 'works' because there is always a source of groundwater (even in the hottest deserts) at some depth. In humid regions, the depth to groundwater is much more shallow that in dry regions, but eventually a driller is going to hit water. If you want to show that dowsing is anything better than a random guess, then I suggest you demonstrate this scientifically. For example, what physical or chemical explanation can you give why a Y-shaped stick (in particular) would point toward the ground when it encounters subsurface water? I would also like to take you to an unknown region, ask you to dowse and then also indicate (to within a few feet) the depth at which the water table would be found and the approximate flow rate of the groundwater. However, first things first, explain the physics and chemistry of dowsing. We should be able to test that in a laboratory.
     
  13. The Galatian

    The Galatian
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    It's been tested. Randi has set up a controlled experiment with a number of dowsers, and their results were no different than one would expect from chance. Yes, it's easy to fool yourself, because a tiny change in direction of the force on the "handles" is multiplied by the lever action on the rod itself.
     
  14. Helen

    Helen
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    YOu see, Steve, eyewitness testimony is good in court, but not with evolutionists. They are TRUE BELIEVERS!
     
  15. Elena

    Elena
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    EF Eyewitness testimony does not trump a controlled scientific test in this case. Eyewitnesses, as you should well know, can be highly unreliable. I don't dismiss that what Steve says is true anymore than I dismiss the love affair John Hinkley had with Jodie Foster. However, dowsing has no demonstrated physical or chemical evidence to support it, dowsers have been tested repeatedly and shown not to do any better than random chance and underground water is everywhere. The choice is then (a) dowsing works by some miraculous means despite the contrary evidence or (b) dowsing is pseudoscience. It's no surprise that creationists choose (a), but that doesn't make it science.
     
  16. ColoradoFB

    ColoradoFB
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    Eyewitness accounts are the least trustworthy kind. Eyewitnesses often contradict one another. It is not a matter of belief. I am sure the dowsing experience is real to someone who does it...however objective investigation would prove there is something else at work. We believe many things that are not so. People believe gypsys & fortune tellers and could give you a persuasive eyewitness account. John Edward, the scammer of "Crossing Over" has many true believers.

    'tain't necessarily so!
     
  17. Steven O. Sawyer

    Steven O. Sawyer
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    I didn’t say I made something real by believing in it. I did NOT believe in dowsing when I actually did it. I wasn’t hallucinating or on drugs or having a psychotic episode. I was in the presence of a couple of my relatives who were trying to find water and had already dug 4 dry wells. I thought they were trying to pull my leg when they went about with a stick in their hands. When they handed it to me, I said, “OK, I’ll try it, but this hocus pocus stuff can’t work.” But, it did. It really shook me up at the time.


    I guess I’m a psychopath or a liar now, eh?


    There were 4 dry wells previously dug… they didn’t want to go for 5. And whether or not there was water there really doesn’t explain what happened with the stick.


    THERE IS NO PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL EXPLANATION FOR WHAT HAPPENED!!!!! That’s the point! Dowsing seems to work for only a few people, it does not work for the majority of people. The stick is not even important. Some people use metal rods. Some use an object like a pendulum and dowse over maps. The object to look for may not be water, it can be almost anything. I believe there are spiritual reasons for that… but that’s getting off the subject. I was an atheist when I dowsed. I did not believe in anything supernatural at that time and I certainly was not “projecting my desires” to accomplish some sort of psychokinetic feet even if I had wanted to or believed in such. I absolutely did NOT want the stick to move. I figured that, at best, there would be some sort of subconscious “twitch” of the stick making it move. But the stick BENT DOWN FORCEFULLY in my hand. I tried to keep the stick up, but could not. As I said, there was so much force bending the stick down that the bark was twisting off in my hands because I was resisting so much the downward pull. The stick BOWED OVER… it BENT… is that clear enough. There is NO naturalistic explanation for what happened that day. I was clearly shaken by the experience… but the crack in my atheistic beliefs was irreparable.

    After realizing that maybe there WAS something odd going on, I at least became more open minded towards “spiritual” things. I did not like Christianity at that time, I leaned more towards the Eastern religions. It was not until years later that the Holy Spirit got a hold of me and convicted me of my sin and the truth of God’s Word. I believe in Christianity because it is true. It is not true because I believe in it.

    Reality is NOT limited to our scientific understanding of nature. Events are not always the results of naturalistic processes. The early founders of science knew this. They recognized science for what it was, a tool to study the creation of God, not a tool to make the creation god. In the real reality, there are supernatural forces at work… just like the Bible says. They are usually very subtle and not apparent at all, but they are there. Again I think that dowsing is occultic and does NOT come from God, even though I have known Christians who practiced it (but I can’t help but wonder why).

    Well, you won’t take ME anywhere to dowse for any reason. I still have enough sin in my imperfect life without defying God to His face by dowsing again. But you might do some research on how Bermuda got its fresh water wells.
    Again, I could care less how many fakes can be drug up to show dowsing is statistically irrelevant. I know science cannot accept my simple testimony… but, again, that just goes to show that not everything is really testable by science.

    Just to let you know, I am NOT a “Charismatic” and I think most “faith healers” are at best quacks (but I usually have a much lower personal opinion of them). Most should be jailed for practicing medicine without a license or just sheer malpractice. Jesus healed people with all kinds of illnesses, not just the psychosomatic temporary “healings” you see on TV. I would like to see a “faith healer” heal all the sick in a hospital, or make a bald person grow hair on the stage, or make a person grow an arm or a leg that has been removed. I do advocate a healthy skepticism of such practices because they are such perversions of God’s truth.

    [ July 28, 2003, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: Steven O. Sawyer ]
     
  18. Steven O. Sawyer

    Steven O. Sawyer
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    Well, you only have my word that I am not lying, but I'm not. Please give me SOME naturalistic explanation for what happened. I would really love to hear it... I have looked for a long time now...

    So, what would you do if it happened to you? What would you do if a stick you were hold just suddenly bent over with enough force to tear the bark off in your hand? How would your worldview deal with it?
     
  19. The Galatian

    The Galatian
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    It's really too bad you retired, because James Randi will hand you a fortune if you can make a dowsing rod work.

    All you have to do is tell him precisely under what conditions you know it will work, and then he'll do the rest.

    You show him it does what you say it can do, and he hands you the money. This is no creationist scam; he has the cash, and everything is out front.

    Maybe you could tell me of someone who knows how to do it. I'd like to get some of Randi's money.
     
  20. Helen

    Helen
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    I'll tell you under what conditions it works, Galatian -- under the conditions that the person is open to being influenced or controlled demonically. Keeping in mind that another intelligence is at work, why should that intelligence cooperate with Randi?

    Steve is telling the truth. There are plenty of professional drillers in these hills who swear by dowsing rods -- men of intelligence, experience, sobriety....and not of God. That is the telling point, and one Randi would never be able to deal with. That is why Steve said that this happened before he became a Christian.

    What Randi is skilled at doing is exposing human-caused deceit. He knows nothing about demonically-caused deceit because he is so heavily under its influence.
     

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