An argument for the existence of God: First formulation…


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Message 1233002 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 20:36:54 UTC - in response to Message 1232979.

Do you recognize that higher breeding rates of a population provide selective advantage over a population that breeds at a decreased rate?


This can be true regardless of a religious or scientific group. If you're asserting that a religious group breeds more than a scientific group, I would like to know what your frame of reference is.

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Message 1233017 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:03:32 UTC - in response to Message 1233002.

There has been a lot of data collected for some time on this. Here is a very interesting publication:

God’s little rabbits: Religious people out-reproduce secular ones by a landslide
- Scientific America
[url]http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/2010/12/22/gods-little-rabbits-religious-people-out-reproduce-secular-ones-by-a-landslide/

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Message 1233020 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:08:11 UTC - in response to Message 1233017.
Last modified: 18 May 2012, 21:20:00 UTC

Where is the control in the experiment? Where have they observed a completely secular society without religion that doesn't mass-breed?

Moreover, in many religions, and in Catholicism specifically, practitioners are forbidden from using any sort of birth control, and that the "spillage of seed" anywhere other than the woman's womb is almost a sin.

I've heard some Ministers or Priests say to a woman who's uterus was half-destroyed in a car accident, that if her husband wanted to have a child, she must be willing to give up her life, even if the child won't make it through birth.

How is this an example of a better natural selection provided by religion?

Message 1233027 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:32:28 UTC

P1) Natural selection is a driving process behind the success of a species
___Wrong. 99.9% of All Species since Life Began are Extinct. NA is sucessful for Evolution not an Individual Species.

P2) Humanity is the most successful species in known history
___Wrong. Modern Humans 150,000 years. Many Other Species, millions to 10s of Millions to Hundreds of Millions. Most Species last, at most, a couple million years.

P3) All human populations have fostered a sense of religious belief and have developed religious systems
___Wrong. Unless Superstitions are considered Religions. Or Fear.

C1) From P1, P2 and P3- Religious beliefs or the cognitive underpinnings that form into religious beliefs have had a positive effect on the selection of humans as the dominant species

___Wrong. Wouldn't call 7-8 Billion People Dominant. A Non-Religious Microbe could wipe us All Out today.

P5) Religious structures tend to enforce and enhance hierarchies
___Wrong. Lowest Common Denominator is Of The Low Rung of a One Rung Ladder.

P6) Populations with strict hierarchies tend to the execution of war better then less strict hierarchies
___Wrong. One Powerful Leader and The Rewards of Pillaging is Not Hiarchical.

C2) From P5 and P6 - More religious populations, will fight war more effectively than less religious populations
___Wrong. General, "You Got What I Want/Need" and We are Going To Take It From You has no need for A Religious Push.

P7) Human populations that are more religious breed at a higher rate than less religious populations
___Wrong. After Plague, Starvation, War, Natural Disaster, etc., Let The Bumping Uglies Begin.

C3) From C2 and P7 – More religious human populations will have a selection advantage over less religious populations.
___Wrong. Sounds Lamarckian to me. Double Wrong!

P6) A key element of a species in its ability to survive is to properly perceive the world. i.e. The species or individual that is aware of the tiger is less likely to get eaten by the tiger etc.
___Wrong. Arms Races between Species "Balance" out. When The Antelope runs faster and bounces higher, The Tiger adapts very nicely thank you much.

P7) Proper perceptions of the world are a key element in the formation of workable mental models.
___Wrong. 99.9% Of All Species Are Extinct. P7) is Dead on Arival.

P8) The more a mental model or construct represents the actual world, the more likely the individual or species who possess that model has a chance for selection.
___Wrong. See Above.

C4) From P6, P7 and P8 - Those species or populations that have a better model of the world will be more likely to be selected
___Wrong. See Above.

P9) From C1, C3 and C4 – Members of more religious populations seem to be selected more so than members of less religious populations
___Wrong. ZZZZZZZ

C5) From C4 and P9 - More religious populations must view the world more correctly then less religious populations
___Wrong. ZZZZZZZ after I've ROTFLMAO.

C6) Therefore, if religious constructs can effect a population negatively or positively as it relates to natural selection, those constructs must have an object to model from. Thus God must exist.
___Wrong. Darwin's Daughter Died. And Galapagos Say: Sorry Charlie, No GODee.
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Message 1233030 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:35:49 UTC - in response to Message 1233027.

Hehe, I think that has to be the best Dullnando post ever ^^^^

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Message 1233032 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:37:46 UTC

Not bad, not bad, 7/10

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Message 1233035 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:40:19 UTC - in response to Message 1233020.

I am getting the feeling you are not open minded on this topic, and that is fine. So you are denying that secular populations have a lower birth rate than religious ones? If wish to do so that is your prerogative.

Per the uterus comment these priests, if they indeed said this; do not understand their own theology and the Doctrine of Double Effect. Which is theology 101 for any decent seminary. I cannot speak for the ministers of non-Catholic churches without knowing the denomination, but most Christian churches follow the principal of double effect in medical ethics…

[http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/double-effect/][/url]

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Message 1233038 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:42:12 UTC - in response to Message 1232973.
Last modified: 18 May 2012, 21:43:58 UTC

On P 2 & 3 - would you go for
[...]
When a healthy religion is not adopted by the population, an unhealthy one or ersatz form of it will take root and may take hold of the population. This was the case with both Nazi Germany and Communist Russia.
[...]
Can you please elaborate on comments P7 and C5?

C6) admittedly a leap… not sure I can bridge the gap but giving it a shot. Thanks for the input.


P2) There are many ways to measure success, from an evolutionary perspective I suspect any currently extant species with a sufficiently large gene pool is as successful as any other extant species with the same. Another way to look at it is everything alive today is the end result of 4 billion or so years of evolutionary pressures. So what do we mean by "success"? Technological achievement would certainly appear to favor homo sapien sapien.

P3) seems to me that the "control group" aspect is a tough one to get around. Are there examples from history of societies where there was no organizing religious or "ersatz" alternative belief system?

On the organizing aspect of P5, it was not my intent to argue that totalitarianism was a "healthy" alternative, only that there are alternatives, and it is unclear whether all alternatives will be unhealthy.

P7 and C5. I. Evolution has given us the most suitable camera eyes that can be achieved so far from the starting point of being a vertebrate. Cephalopods had a different starting point, and their camera eyes evolved in parallel with vertebrates. As a result of the different starting points, there are some differences, one being that cephalopods do not have blind spots, which is a "feature" of all vertebrate eyes. There may be a similar deficiency in our model of the world, that we have not yet realized as we do not have another species with which to compare models.

P7 and C5. II. It could be that non religious societies have an objectively better model of the world, though this may not be sufficient to overcome the advantages of religious societies in terms of reproductive capacity, hierarchy, etc. That is, "model of the world" may only be a differentiator when all else is equal.
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I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that ...

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Message 1233049 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 21:49:54 UTC - in response to Message 1233035.

I am getting the feeling you are not open minded on this topic, and that is fine.


So arguing an alternate view automatically brings you to the conclusion of a lack of an open mind?

Quid pro quo: does that mean you are not open-minded on the views contrary to your own?

So you are denying that secular populations have a lower birth rate than religious ones? If wish to do so that is your prerogative.


No, I haven't denied it at all. I asked, in a very round about way, if there were other factors involved in a secular society's reasoning for having lower birth rates other than religious views or lack thereof? The article you linked to was simply an observation, but by no means is indicative of empirical data due to the fact that there are several other factors not taken into account.

Per the uterus comment these priests, if they indeed said this; do not understand their own theology and the Doctrine of Double Effect. Which is theology 101 for any decent seminary. I cannot speak for the ministers of non-Catholic churches without knowing the denomination, but most Christian churches follow the principal of double effect in medical ethics…


I've heard it from many priests. Also, the general attitude from the Catholic faith seems to be that the woman's body is nothing more than a breeding ground for a man. Is this indicative of a better natural selection society?

Another example would be when my girlfriend's sister got married, the priest asked of my girlfriend during her affidavit if "Kathy was willing to bear children with her husband?" to which she replied "Yes, Kathy wants children!" and the priest replied "It doesn't matter if she wants children, and that's not what I asked. She must bear children if her husband wishes to, and she cannot deny him marital coitus if he wants to."

Are these the attitudes that bring about a better natural selection in a society? Or a better society as a whole?

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Message 1233095 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 22:45:53 UTC - in response to Message 1232924.
Last modified: 18 May 2012, 22:46:06 UTC

Admittedly it is a stretch. But are you both denying that part of the argument that religion provides populations with selective advantage? That I will argue more firmly… and I think it is completely demonstrable.
But the believer in science only, then has a problem, and the problem is something like this.

1) Scientific knowledge should lead to an accurate models of the world
2) Religious people, are inaccurate in their model of the world
3) Yet, religious populations may have advantage in being selected
4) Therefor an inaccurate view of the world provides selective advantage
5) Therefore a strictly scientific view of the world may put a population at a selective disadvantage.

This conclusion would seem to be anathema for most believers in science no?


4 does not follow 3, an inaccurate view of the world might coincide with other attributes that provide selective advantage (e.g. a religious mandate to go forth and multiply). Coincidence <> causality.

For similar reasons 5 does not follow.
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Message 1233097 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 22:48:26 UTC - in response to Message 1232953.

religions have a way of "swallowing" up traditions and beliefs as they spread.
Rites of Spring/Fertility give way to "Easter(Festival of Esther)" with symbols such as rabbits, eggs, and so on.


Easter could also be named from the Anglo-Saxon/Pre-Christian Germanic Goddess, Eostre. She is/was a Patron Goddess of children and women in childbirth. She had a pet rabbit who laid colored eggs, which she hid on the hillsides of villages for children to find on Ostara Morning (morning of the Spring Equinox).
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Message 1233105 - Posted: 18 May 2012, 22:55:43 UTC

P2- By most successful you mean in numbers ,longeveity or technology? The cockroach has been around since well before the dinosaurs went extinct., and in greater numbers.
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Message 1233173 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 1:48:30 UTC - in response to Message 1232948.

Hey Skildude,

P6) Per the argument I would say that both executed war very well due to fairly strict hierarchies compared to the neighboring civilizations. However there was a lot of infighting on both sides and this probably favored the Crusaders somewhat in the earlier Crusades and the Muslims in the later ones.

C2) See your point. I completely concede to the fact that the trained soldier is superior to the Zealot. However, I think a Zealot will train more on average, and take orders better than one who may not believe. The Spartans were considered the premier fighting forces in the ancient world and to some the most elite throughout history. Their culture was probably the most religious, if not the most religious of the Greek states. Their devotion to religion and the military training tradition were two sides of the same coin…

P7) We will have to respectfully disagree on this one entirely. The Romans were extremely religious. As a matter of fact they called the Jews “atheists” because they only had one God. In the “Dark Ages” or the “middle ages”, we developed universities, hospitals, legal systems, banking systems. This age was called the middle ages by enlightenment historians who decided that between the fall of the Western Empire and the Enlightenment the world ceased to do anything valuable. It is not an accurate portrayal of the historical period. Rome never totally fell until the Muslims conquered Constantinople… The Byzantine Empire is also a manufactured term... they called themselves Roman, not Byzantine…
Per the comments on Islam you are absolutely right and this is why being literate in religious history is key in understanding today’s world and its future.

About 1000 years ago, a huge debate occurred in Islam. It was a debate about reason – and the fear that the teachings of Aristotle would undermine the true faith. The Christian concept of God is one of a creator of a rational universe, where even God does not change the rules. However, the school that won out in Islam was the irrational, as it was felt that a consistent and rational universe limits the will of Allah, that Allah should be able to change anything to be any way at will without regard to anything but His preference. In my opinion this is what explains the fall of Islam. To the Muslims Allah is pure Will, to Christians God is the Logos. This is why science died out in Islam and flourished in the West. As the Church embraced Aristotle through Church Fathers such as Thomas Aquinas and has always taken the position that faith and reason are necessary complimentary, you cannot have one without the other.

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Message 1233181 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 2:00:40 UTC - in response to Message 1233049.

Well then my feeling was incorrect, I apologize if I misinterpreted.

I have and can easily argue for a universe without God or a Creator but I find it internally inconsistent so I do not hold to it personally. And that argument would not get much of a challenge here. For the record I think the strongest argument against a God as conceived in the Western world is the Existence of Evil argument, but there are arguments to counter that I find compelling. Your challenge is appreciated if you really want to engage in a discussion where either of us can learn. Continuing to say “Catholicism” is bad because a priest said this or said that is anecdotal. I have answered with reference to doctrine, and a scientific article and that is what I would constitute as publicly verifiable data towards the conversation. We could go back and forth sharing personal anecdotes about a good priest did this and a bad priest did that… I would only argue the tenants of the faith, not the frailties of its members. If you want to point to specific doctrine that treats women as property, I am happy to engage in a debate on Church teaching. Is the Church perfect, no, it does not claim to be.

Even assuming there is no God, I find it much harder to argue for a world without religion as I just cannot imagine what that looks like. It is such a large part of the development of us as a species it is kind of like saying “Imagine a shark without fins, a tail or teeth”… somehow it just would not seem to be a shark if I did… it would seem very impaired and not able to survive well in even the most ideal of oceans.

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Message 1233184 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 2:12:08 UTC - in response to Message 1233105.

Yes yes... you guys are helping see a potential circularity here I may have in the overall argument. I am thinking as success in the sense of cognative abilities and the ability to model the world correctly. So... yes this is a key point in a reformulation. I think this has to be broken out into another set of premises and a conslusion.

So... lets say that there are two parts to this that were implied. The superior cognative ability of humans. And the fact that this cognative ability is the key factor in humans success as it relates to current species on the planet.

This also relates to us having the capability to colonize the solar system. Changing our environment, much like the first tetrapod walked onto land from the sea. I have to give this more thought.

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Message 1233199 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 2:57:21 UTC - in response to Message 1233181.

Your challenge is appreciated if you really want to engage in a discussion where either of us can learn. Continuing to say “Catholicism” is bad because a priest said this or said that is anecdotal. I have answered with reference to doctrine, and a scientific article and that is what I would constitute as publicly verifiable data towards the conversation.


Part of my point was not only to show personal examples of the "frailties" of the individuals ordained by the Catholic religion, but to also show you that anecdotes is not the plural of data. While you may have offered an article (and I would argue whether it was truly scientific), it was nothing more than anecdotal itself.

I would only argue the tenants of the faith, not the frailties of its members. If you want to point to specific doctrine that treats women as property, I am happy to engage in a debate on Church teaching. Is the Church perfect, no, it does not claim to be.


As a former Roman Catholic, I'm afraid the revisionary teachings of the Catholic church aren't that great, but rather than focus on "attacking" a single faith, which is not necessarily my intention, I would rather focus on what my true argument is: an attempt to show that stating a society with religion is better than a society without religion is merely an opinion without any way to really test all parameters of the claim. I find the claim rather baseless and one of the last few bastions of the Faithful in their fight to remain relevant in today's age of Information.

Even assuming there is no God, I find it much harder to argue for a world without religion as I just cannot imagine what that looks like. It is such a large part of the development of us as a species it is kind of like saying “Imagine a shark without fins, a tail or teeth”… somehow it just would not seem to be a shark if I did… it would seem very impaired and not able to survive well in even the most ideal of oceans.


I welcome a "religious-less" future if it means less senseless violence in the name of God. That said, I would never wish to take away someone's right to believe in a God or gods, and I would never wish to take away someone's right to honor/worship their chosen God or gods in whatever way they wish so long as it isn't harmful or forced upon others.

I find that religion has attempted to fill the gaps in primitive man's severe lack of understanding the Universe around him, similar to how a child will use their imagination to explain things they cannot understand. Now that we, as a race, are getting smarter and learning to understand the Universe, we don't need those made-up answers anymore. Religion has fulfilled its only limited purpose, now its time to let go, especially if it gets rid of the so-called "moralistic" teachings they claim to instill.

So while religion in general has helped shaped humanity, both for better and worse, we're entering an era of de-mystification. I can see no favorable argument to keep religion around, or a belief in God/gods. It seems to only impair us as we move forward, and I don't think we'll survive if we do - like a fin-less, toothless shark.

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Message 1233216 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 3:49:24 UTC - in response to Message 1232924.
Last modified: 19 May 2012, 4:19:57 UTC

Admittedly it is a stretch. But are you both denying that part of the argument that religion provides populations with selective advantage? That I will argue more firmly… and I think it is completely demonstrable.
But the believer in science only, then has a problem, and the problem is something like this.

1) Scientific knowledge should lead to an accurate models of the world
2) Religious people, are inaccurate in their model of the world
3) Yet, religious populations may have advantage in being selected
4) Therefor an inaccurate view of the world provides selective advantage
5) Therefore a strictly scientific view of the world may put a population at a selective disadvantage.

This conclusion would seem to be anathema for most believers in science no?

For this argument to be valid, we would need to have a sampling of civilizations that developed without religion. And those, I do not think exist in our recorded history. This is starting to change, as larger percentages of populations are becoming openly atheist. I think the reason religion has been such a basic facet of all civilizations is (as Soft said) simply lack of explanation of various phenomena, explanations which have been coming to light, most specifically in the last two centuries and especially the last 75 years or so.

On a side note, I really wonder what happened all these years back, because something must have happened. All these civilizations have stories of people coming down from the skies. Something must have happened, however I still see no real evidence of a "great being" unfortunately.
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Message 1233226 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 4:26:48 UTC

larger percentages of populations are becoming openly atheist


Wrong. In The Past, people were Ostracized, De-Socialized, Shunned, Banned, Exiled, or Otherwise Ignored if they Spake Out with Their Atheist Beliefs.

We Live In A Slightly Different World Now. Just Slightly. Where One can BlahBlahBlah and Someone Else seeing This BlahBlaher Speak Out, will have Courage To Speak Out Also.

And The Consequences Lessened To Possibly Nil.

This does not Change The Numbers. It's about Same Same As Always. It is Easier To Disagree, even with Polarization Rampant. More so because of it. The 'ole Choosing Sides Thingee.

Non-Believers should not Get All Giddy. Humanity is still Full Of Humans. And The Change Is Not Here. Not In American. Not In The World.

But, if you want to Glad Hand and Back Slap your Fellow Atheist, then Party On Broheim.

Just Remember The Mirror knows The Truth.

GOD is On The Bus. Not Under It.

ReflectiveDullNanDo
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Message 1233240 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 5:17:52 UTC

I would argue that it is too soon to say that humans are the most successful species to inhabit earth. We have only been here for just under a million years whereas the dinosaurs ruled for millions of years. Yes we are more intelligent but I'm not sure intelligence can be equated with success.
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Message 1233262 - Posted: 19 May 2012, 5:44:30 UTC
Last modified: 19 May 2012, 5:46:18 UTC

I second that Bob. There is a huge number of species that were here first and will be here long after we're gone.

And @Dull. There are plenty of statistics that show atheism is currently growing.
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