From: Bill Nitardy

Dr. Korn,

I came across your web site when I was trying to find a list of false scientific beliefs such as bleeding patients as a cure.

I found your web site very interesting for a variety of reasons. Some are as follows:

1. Just the mention of the word "truth"
2. Speaking of caring for truth, justice and other people
3. Recognizing that real problems are caused in the world by lies or belief in them
4. Identifying the causes of belief in lies
5. Identifying the consequences of belief in lies
6. Expressed concern with the civility of arguments.
7. Your general rational approach

I commend you on your passion and commitment to truth which I believe you are sincere about.

I am also passionate about and committed to truth. I reserved and paid for a domain name called "" for several years. I never actually put anything up on the site because I could not figure out how to display a diagram / table that was critical to what I was trying to convey.

Currently, I am toying with the idea of communicating my ideas with a book. A descriptive title I am considering is "Parallel, Opposite and Profound". The title refers to two worldview philosophies. If one is true, the other is false. Since they are the only two on the radar, I am presuming one is true.

My approach is rational and scientific and uses theoretical models verified by empirical evidence.

However, I believe we may be more on opposite sides of these two philosophies than on the same side. In my mind that is a good reason, excuse or whatever for a initiating dialog with you on both your thinking and mine. This should include identifying presuppositions and making a rational case for them.

You may have no interest in such a dialog or you may not have time. I am a just a retired Bachelor Degreed Chemical Engineer. Perhaps my intellect is no match to yours. However, from my standpoint I would look forward to sharing information and/or having a civil debate on important fundamental issues where we differ.

Congratulations again on your passion and commitment to truth.

Bill Nitardy

(Two short letters omitted relating to posting the discussion)

Dr. Korn,

I will try to minimize attached files in our communication. I will to try keep this overview as concise as possible to keep it as compatible as possible for posting.

Your website addressed the issue of lies in our society and described the harmful effects when those lies are believed. You rejected the postmodernists' overall relative truth view, but I believe you accepted their moral relative truth view. In either case you offer many terrific methods that can be useful tools in separating truth from falsehood. However, what you didn't offer was a foundation of truth or analytical tests to identify truth. Is this a fair assessment?

What I would like to offer is a supplement to the tool kit found in your website that would provide a theoretical model of reality supported by empirical evidence and therefore a predictive model of truth and a foundation of truth.

Although we don't generally recognize it, we have two parallel and opposite worldview philosophies that are polarizing our world. We are somewhat familiar with them. However, we need to clarify them by clearing away misleading word definitions and misframed arguments that cloud the real argument, malign the truth and confound the model.

One such argument is the science vs. religion debate where religion deals with subjective values and science deals with the real world stuff you can count on. Even if this were true, it's just a distraction or a smokescreen to hide the real debate. The problem is that some of our science as well as religions are religious. This statement probably demands an example.

One example I can give included statements by Michael Ruse, one of the world's most productive and prestigious philosophers of biology and a prominent defender of evolution. As a result of Michael's interaction with Berkeley professor Phillip Johnson, Michael Ruse admitted the following in a February 1993 speech at the annual AAAS meeting in Boston. "I must confess, in the ten years since I performed, or I appeared, in the creation trial in Arkansas, I must say that I've been coming to this kind of position myself." Ruse explained that those in academia especially "should recognize, both historically and perhaps philosophically, certainly that the science side has certain metaphysical assumptions built into doing science, which---it may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law---but I think that in honesty ... we should recognize this."

Ruse then explained his agreement with Johnson on another point---the quasi-religious role of Darwinism for some scientists. He reviewed the history of science to show that "for many evolutionists, evolution has functioned as something with elements which are, let us say, akin to being a secular religion."

We know that science has been redefined. If you take a dictionary from the early 1900's you will find that science was a search for truth and the definition contained the word "truth". Look up science in a current dictionary today and it will not contain the word "truth". Classical science has been changed from a general search for truth to a more limited realm of natural science.

Two additional words that muddy up the water are "secular" and "religion". "Religion" will be addressed after I identify and define the two worldview philosophies. The word "secular" means non-religious and consequently has a connotation of a neutral or non-value laden realm. The problem is with many uses of the word "secular", it does have definite values implied or included. One example of this is the common phrase, "secular humanism". As I will show later, humanism is not a neutral or non-value type realm.

I think we are ready to introduce the parallel and opposite world view philosophies. Remember only one can be true.

The two philosophies are Humanism and Theism. By Theism I mean a belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible especially beliefs in the main themes and concepts.

By humanism or humanism / naturalism I mean a belief in what is incorrectly called "secular humanism" at the core with other related beliefs which are identified in the 3 Humanist Manifestos or other anti-theistic beliefs. The correct adjective would be "religious" humanism. The following quote from Lloyd Morain, former editor of “The Humanist” which is the quasi-official journal of the American Humanist Association will support this assertion.

"Humanism does not include the idea of a God and as such is considered a philosophy rather than a religion. In a way, it is an alternative to all religions. However, whether one looks to humanism as a religion or a philosophy to live by or as a way of life is, we believe, largely a matter of personal temperment and preference. Those caught up by its religious aspects know that it provides a vibrant, satisfying faith. Those who think of it as a philosophy find it both reasonable and adequate."

Another way of identifying or analyzing the religiousness of humanism is to ask "is a philosophy that is 100% opposite to a religious belief" also a religious belief?

By religious beliefs I mean strong dogmatic beliefs in something not necessarily based upon supporting evidence or truth. The use of the word "religion" has done much to denigrate Theism.

With this background, I can now better define the word "religion" that will reflect the realities of what it really is.

The concern is the confusion between religion, Christian or otherwise, and Theism. Christian religions have done much to oppress and coerce people, as has Islam. Theism has not. Nothing Jesus did or said was oppressive or coercive. A typical example of a non-coercive statement is "Behold I stand at the door and knock... Another example is when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus and Peter cut off the ear of a solider, Jesus rebuked Peter.

Consequently, a Christian religion should be defined as a composite of Theism and humanism. The percentage can vary between 0% and 100%.

Although Christian religions have Theism as a significant part of their belief, the humanism part has in the past and currently done much damage to their reputation. The problem is that Theism is being blamed for what humanism has or is causing. Also, we should not hold up religions as exemplary or as something that should be in our public square. However, if a case can be made for its truth, Theism should be displayed and embraced in the public square.

I hope you don't  take offence to my next analogy. I am talking about my religion as much as yours.

Rat poison is made up of 99.99% good food and 0.01% poison. I don’t think anybody would classify it as good food. Even a very small part of bad stuff makes it bad. It is the same way with our Christian religions. A little humanism makes it a bad religion!

Now, Dr. Korn, I bet you immediately associated religions or at least Christian religions with Theism when I identified the two parallel and opposite worldviews. Based upon what we just covered, I would have to classify most religions as falling under the humanism umbrella. The Bible further supports this conclusion by identifying it is not Theistic to add or remove anything from the Bible.

This may be a good stopping point to let you take a breather and see if any of this makes any sense to you. Understand, at this point, I really have not begun to lay out my case.

Let me know how I am doing? I am very interested in hearing your thoughts.



First, please call me Bob instead of Dr. Korn. I'm wary of titles because sometimes people assume a degree of authority that isn't justified. My comments should be judged on their own merits, not on the basis of my degree.

You say I address the issue of lies in our society. That's true, but I want to emphasize that there are a lot of problems other than lies, such as deceptions, self-deceptions, and all kinds of mistakes. Many of the people who tell us false things are mistaken, not liars.

I don't accept postmodernist's idea of moral relativity. As I understand it, they say all moral systems are equally valid. I don't agree. My personal view is described in the appendix on morality and is roughly that we should work for the betterment of humanity. "Responsible Thinking" is not intended to promote that view however. Most moral systems agree on enough that we can cooperate effectively on most things. What moral system is CORRECT however is a very difficult question beyond the scope of my website.

You say I don't offer a "foundation of truth". That's correct, because I'm primarily dealing with practical questions, not religious ones. Questions like "Is this person trying to cheat me?" or "Will wearing a seatbelt help me avoid getting killed in a car crash?" or "Is this candidate more likely to do what I like that that candidate." I think Responsible Thinking ought to be applied to religious questions, but I leave that for individuals to work out for themselves. I'm happy to discuss them with you, however.

I agree with you that science and religion are not as fundamentally different as some people would have us think. Either Moses parted the Red Sea or he didn't. Either the Koran was actually written by Allah or it wasn't. Either prayer works or it doesn't. These questions may be very hard to answer and may have some ambiguous features, but they are basically questions of fact. I don't think that science has a hidden anti-religious agenda, although that may be true of certain scientists. By and large, the purpose of science is to construct models of reality (figure out what is true) by examining reality. People don't go into science because they want to echo somebody's dogma. They do it because they want to discover new things - correct things. If what they discover confirms something in the Bible or some religious teaching, then it is their job to report it that way. I think very few scientists would do otherwise. Of course most of the time they are not looking at questions that relate to religious issues.

You give the case of Michael Ruse as an "example" of science acting like a religion, but you only give his assertion that it does. I have never heard of Michael Ruse, and such an endorsement means little. There have been many people who have gone from evolutionists to creationists and from creationists to evolutionists. If Ruse has a specific complaint indicating in what way science is not open to some ideas, we could discuss that.

I don't know if dictionaries actually define science differently now than they did 100 years ago, but if they do it is probably a stylistic thing, perhaps because the word "truth" is so often used by people pushing dogmatic, poorly supported beliefs. From what I see scientists normally seek truth in a careful and sincere manner.

Your choice of the words "Humanism" and "Theism" to describe the two opposing philosophies strikes me as very poor. In both cases your usage is entirely different from the conventional usage. If I understand you correctly, you are using the word "Theism" to describe Biblical literalism. The normal definition of theism is belief in any god or gods independent of specific theology. Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, idol worship, or belief in Roman, Greek, or Norse gods all qualify as theism. To call anyone who is not a biblical literalist a "humanist" is just as inappropriate, particularly if you equate "humanist" with "secular humanist". The Taliban, while not, I'm sure, your type of "Theists", are by no conventional definition "Humanists". While it is a standard practice to define your own terms for use in a limited context (like this dialog) I think it is confusing (or perhaps downright deceptive) to use them as you are. I will use "literalist" and "non-literalist" unless you suggest something else we could agree on.

I am familiar with secular humanism, and in fact I consider myself one. You say it is incorrectly called secular humanism. The term "secular" is used to indicate a lack of belief in the supernatural. As I understand it there are people who believe the same thing who call themselves "religious" humanists (perhaps including the former Humanist magazine editor you mention). The word "religious" is used to indicate that humanism plays a similar function to god based religions - it does involve a set of values. The people calling themselves "secular" humanists typically don't like the word "religious" because they feel that others will assume it means belief in God.

As so often happens, this discussion is made confusing because different people are using somewhat different definitions of a word, in this case "religion". Religion has implications of (a) values, (b) dogmatic beliefs or beliefs not based on evidence, and (c) belief in a god or gods. Secular humanists have values, don't believe in gods, and generally are opposed to dogma. Science is neutral on values except for an expectation of honest research, is neutral on gods and should always avoid dogma. Hopefully things can be made a little clearer by specifying what it is about religion we are concerned with when making our points.

I am curious about your equating literalism (what you call theism) with non-coerciveness. I agree with you that Jesus stands out as opposed to coercion and presumably that it is ironic that so often through the years coercion has been practiced in his name. The Old Testament had many highly coercive sections, for example Numbers 15:32-36 where God commands that a man be put to death for gathering sticks on the sabbath. Even in the New Testament Paul did not seem to be opposed to coercion - he pushed rules about women being subservient to their husbands.

Your poison analogy is bad in many respects. First, even with poison, dosage is important. Iodine, in a small dosage, is beneficial rather than harmful. By far, the usual rule is that if you combine things, the result has characteristics between the two substances being combined, closer to the substance there is more of. A drop of hot water does not make a bucket of cold water hot. Further, you seem to make the assumption that everything that is not "pure" literalism is in some sense poisonous. Secular Humanism, Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, and New Age are far from all being the same things. Very far. We'll see what sort of case you make for this. It doesn't seem at all plausible at this point.

To describe literalism and non-literalism as opposite, is, of course true. To describe them as parallel seems wrong. Literalism is very narrowly defined, while non-literalism includes a huge number of utterly diverse views. To call it "a" world view strikes me terribly distorted. Remember that an Islamic extremist could do the same thing - label everyone in the world a Theist (Islamic Extremist) or Humanist (everybody else). You would be a Humanist by his definition. This is oversimplifying the world in a very undesirable way.

Do you have a verse that corresponds to your statement that the Bible says "it is not Theistic to add or remove anything from the Bible"? I'm pretty sure the word "Theistic" isn't used, and the one spot I've found, Revelations 22:18-19 seems to refer only to Revelations, and hardly supports the idea that most religions fall under the "humanism umbrella".

Of course the important question is whether you can make your case, apparently that literalism (that you call Theism) is correct. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say.



Thanks for helping me to address you the way you prefer. When in doubt, I prefer to error on the more formal naming just to make sure that I maintain the proper respect. I also would like to be judged by my thoughts and your note was certainly in that spirit.

Thanks also for your thorough and candid response. I value your comments because I believe you can either help me validate my thinking or help me correct it. Also, if my thoughts can be validated, I will be gratified by sharing my truthful thoughts with you and others.

Regarding lies, I cannot dispute your statement implication that intent and possibly responsibility are not involved in many falsehoods. However, I just want to make note that you appear to emphasize the minimization of responsibility and intent on the part of those telling falsehoods in both your clarification and in general on your website. My concern and emphasis is directed more toward identifying profound, black and white, huge lies that act as a foundation for other lies and affect our beliefs and who we are on a national and global basis.

I was thinking that only two positions existed regarding truth and morality. They included absolute and relative. You correctly pointed out that at least regarding morality, three positions exist including: 1) All moral positions equally valid, 2) unequal, but relative (political or consensus) and 3) Absolute. You stated your position is #2 which is what I meant. Your views on morality are also expressed under "The Nature of Truth". There you state "Postmodernists' views seem more reasonable when applied to things like art and morality, where there are no widely agreed ways to determine what is true." I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that that doesn't put you back to position #1.

Regarding a "foundation of truth"; wouldn't it be good for both practical and religious (actually Theistic) questions if it existed? Remember, although I can relate religion to truth at the boundary condition of 100% Theistic, I can't relate the word "religious" to truth ever. I don't believe in a schizophrenic world. Both your Responsible Thinking tools and a "foundation of truth" if it existed should be applied to religion or any other realm. As far as letting individuals working out their religion for themselves, I agree except in the same way as letting them work out their flat earth ideas. I have no desire to coerce others to believe the truth. However, I would like to expose them to it and have them chose what to believe.

Regarding science vs. religion, we agree that they fall within one realm of truth and in that sense are similar. I don't know if you read Stephen J. Gould's book "Age of Rocks", but he argues that they are complete different stratum.Although we agree on that point (not Gould's), that is not what I really meant. I really meant that this debate is a smoke screen, a disconnect or a strawman agreement designed to discredit Theism not religion. Nobody disagrees with established classical science such as Newton's laws of motion, gravity, the electromagnetic spectrum etc. Where the disagreement and polarization exist is in the realm of natural science where creation vs. evolution, values and presupposition exist. The debate attempts to cloak natural science in a classical science reputation and defends itself against some ill-defined entity called religion. The outcome is a slam dunk. But it is the wrong argument.

I am sorry that my specific example of Michael Ruse didn't even slightly convince you that natural science has strong presuppositions that discredit its conclusions. His statements were not so much assertions, but admissions. He did not convert to a creationist. He is still an evolutionist. That is what makes his admission credible. Michael Ruse was saying that his presupposition was not open to a God or creation. You said you would be willing to discuss this further. That would be great.

Regarding the change in the definition of science, even if I got further documentation for you, you don't seem to have a open mind on this issue. I would just like to note that on issue of lies, Michael Ruse's admission and on the change in definition of science you are dismissing or minimizing any responsibility or intent by anyone.

In your paragraphs 8, 9 & 10 you make some very good points and helped me understand that I need to better define some words and concepts. First I would like to address your correct criticism of the word Theism. The definition you provided is correct. I need to narrow the definition to "Christian Theism". I either need to clarify this at the onset or use the correct definition throughout. I checked several internet sites and they used Theism in the same way that I did. One clarified it later as Christian Theism. Although, you are also correct in assuming that what I would call Christian Theism is the same as what you call Biblical Literalism I prefer not to use your term for two reasons.

The first is that I do not want to identify the people that believe in "Christian Theism" as a fringe group that should be pigeon-holed. If someone reads your doctorate thesis and told you it was very good and they believed the meaning was as stated, would you call them a literalist. I think that when one reads nonfiction, the default should be to believe the meaning as stated. The exception should be those that read something different into it. The second reason is that one purpose I have is to show that in fact (in reality) that the "Christian Theism" model finds its parallel and opposite philosophy in what you call "secular humanism". It is interesting that you state that this analysis is particularly inappropriate. We will need more discussion to get us on the same page on this issue.

Actually, the "parallel and opposite" concept really only holds strictly for "secular humanism". Non-literalists (Christians that read allegory into the Bible or pick and choose which parts they accept), are not even close to being opposite to literalists on everything. However, you made me aware that I need to redefine humanism as what you call "secular humanism" at the core and other humanistic beliefs related periphery or just associated. The association is by replacing God on the throne with man.

Other definitions that are keeping us apart are religion, religious, secular and dogma. From a rational standpoint, I don't know of anyone making a case for the truth of their God and their Theism other than Christianity. Nobody else has a claim that their god is rational, that he died for them and rose from the dead with credible documentation. As indicated earlier, I need to define religion as a composite of Christian Theism and humanism (man as god) to avoid strawman arguments and to represent the reality of the situation. These strawman arguments like to relate all the horrible religion related problems to "Christian Theism".

The normal definition of the words religion or religious you provided is also basically correct in my mind with several caveats. The two definitions are rectalinear and do not conflict. The caveats are as follows: 1) we use the definition of dogma below, 2) add "not necessarily" based on evidence, and 3) that a belief in God or gods includes man as a god or elevated to godhood. Alternatively, we could eliminate #3 completely.

The word dogma when associated with "Christian Theism" and removed from "secular humanism" also provides an opportunity for the usual strawman argument. This is basically the religion vs. science argument. Dogma should be defined the same way as religious. Religious dogma is redundant.

You stated that "The term 'secular' is used to indicate a lack of belief in the supernatural".  The various definitions I have looked at didn't refer to the word "supernatural". It was more non-religious or non-clergy related. I would like to define secular as non-religious and also value neutral. That is how the word is used today. It is commonly understood that secularism is void of dogma and value neutral. That is why "secular humanism" is incorrectly not considered to be under the establishment clause. With this definition, there are no "secular humanists", only "religious humanists" Do you agree?

You brought up the "science is neutral" issue. I agree completely in classical basic science. I somewhat agree in classical applied science. Here the problem is, as you have to know, the pressure is always there to give them what they want or want to hear. We receive pressure to minimize real problems that may not help success and embellish the desirable part etc. One example of this is in the drug industry where once a drug goes through the costly approval process and the law allows it to be marketed into for other applications that it wasn't approved for. Do you really think that the technical person can be completely objective on their assessment of its applicability for other uses?

However, when it comes to natural science where worldview values are at stake, I don't believe science is neutral or objective. I gave you the Michael Ruse example. Perhaps more examples will convince you of my assertion. Here are four more examples.

John J. Dunphy, in his award winning essay, The Humanist (1983), illustrates this strategic focus, "The battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: A religion of humanity -- utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to carry humanist values into wherever they teach. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new -- the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism."

"In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it, and many are prepared to 'bend' their observations to fit with it." (H. S. Lipson, FRS, Professor of Physics, University of Manchester, UK, "A Physicist Looks at Evolution", Physics Bulletin, vol. 31, May 1980, pg. 138).

Yet Evolution has not been proved. Sir Arthur Keith, a famous British evolutionary anthropologist and anatomist, confesses, "Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable." In fact, it seems that the Theory of Evolution is contrary to established science.

George Wald, another prominent Evolutionist (a Harvard University biochemist and Nobel Laureate), wrote, "When it comes to the Origin of Life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!" ("The Origin of Life," Scientific American, 191:48, May 1954). 

Moving on to the coerciveness issue, I will try to answer your questions. You mentioned that "it is ironic that so often through the years coercion has been practiced in his name." You raise a very, very interesting question. You are probably thinking of the crusades, the Inquisition or the Catholic church burning people at the stake or perhaps the pedophile problems in the Catholic church today. These are all horrible, but let's not forget that Jesus was actually a victim of the religious leaders of that time. In Matthew 23 Jesus really gives it to them. As you know the Jewish religious leaders were experts on the old Testament, they effectively removed the suffering servant Messiah scriptures from the Old Testament. They blinded themselves because they wanted to be influential and powerful. They wanted to be gods unto themselves. Because they disregarded part of scripture, they were not Jewish Theists.  They were humanists. Keep in mind that religions have no monopoly on coercion.

All the explanations I have heard involve a defense of religion. My explanation does not involve the defense of religion. My answer is what I stated earlier as a parallel rectalinear definition of religion. Religion is a composite of "Christian Theism" and humanism. It can range from 0% to 100%. In the case of non-Christian religions, they are 100% humanism. i.e. man is his own god. This includes the situation when through mans' religious beliefs he believes he can accomplish his salvation or some utopia exclusively through his own efforts, thus making him a god unto himself. By the way, this is also true for many Christian religions and what you call "secular humanism". I am not trying to defend any specific religion or religions in general!

Let me speak to the other Biblical examples of coercion you mentioned. The coercion or force I am speaking of is individual not governmental. God approved of governments enforcing capital punishment. Paul or any of us pushing rules without any threat of enforcement is not coercion. This may be more distasteful for you because you don't agree with Paul it rather than thinking he is actually being coercive.

Sorry you didn't like my poison analogy! Nothing you said contradicted the fact that when a highly toxic material is added to something, a little goes a long way. As the addition/subtraction scripture indicates and the effects of the Jewish religious leaders eliminating a very little scripture indicate, the rat poison analogy applies. Yes, you are correct. I am saying that everything that is not pure "Christian Theism" is in some sense poisonous. Do you think that all the problems in the world come from us loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as our self? Also, if we can show that Christian Theism is true, certainly the list of religions you listed are all false and very toxic. In my opinion, anything that is a diversion or a smokescreen to keep us from knowing the truth is toxic and tragic. That is why I find the search for truth exciting and the propagation of it a pleasure. I hope you feel the same way.

You stated that "To describe literalism and non-literalism as opposite, is, of course true." In a trivial sense they are opposites when one takes everything literally and the other takes none literally. However, in reality, one takes the whole Bible literally and another many pick and chose some parts as non-literal. Depending on how much they agree on they may be more similar than opposite. What is parallel is "Christian Theism" and "secular humanism".They are parallel because they both address origins, values, how we should live, and our destiny.

In your comments about the various religions, I believe you are assuming they are all equally valid or true. Then reciprocity in your relative logic make sense. Only a true documented Theism could be used as a theoretical model and have the empirical evidence support it. The concept of why "secular humanism" is opposite of "Christian Theism" is in the documentation of the Bible itself. The other religions do not have such documentation and do not adequately explain our world.

Regarding adding or removing anything from the Bible, let me explain. You have identified the Bible verses to which I was referring. You also identified that the verses can be construed to refer directly to the book of Revelations only. I admit I really do not have an air tight case on this. My explanation is that if not directly, I believe that indirectly it refers to all of scripture. Remember that book of Revelations is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ and the Bible states that all scripture is inspired. Jesus completely supported the scriptures. The punishment for changing Revelations corresponds to the same for not following the plan documented in the rest of the Bible. Besides if you were God and you wrote a book and you were all powerful, how would you feel toward people who changed you book of truth for their own selfish reasons. I think I would error on assuming it meant the entire Bible.

I think that we should come close to getting us on the same page on what we covered so far before proceeding.

Thanks for your thoughts and your patience.



I'm a bit concerned that we'll never get to your main point since I'm not optimistic about resolving these preliminary issues, but they raise some interesting questions. I'll skip a few of the minor ones and group some by what I feel are the underlying issues.

You have a good point that I said postmodernism is more plausible for art and morality, and you are right - while I find it more plausible for morality, I still don't agree with it.

It probably isn't important, but I didn't understand what you were talking about when you talked about "Jewish religious leaders eliminating a very little scripture...". What scripture did they eliminate?

You said "when one reads non-fiction, the default should be to believe the meaning as stated." I am uneasy about this because I feel that, by far, more problems are created by people mistakenly believe falsehoods than are created by people who question things that are true. If a the truth of something is easily determined, not controversial, and made by a source that would be damaged if it were shown wrong, then maybe believing is a reasonable default. For example, if the New York Times says President Bush went to Baghdad for Thanksgiving, I would believe it. It is easy for them to determine, it is not controversial, and the Times would be embarrassed to be wrong about something so simple. If a sensationalist author says space aliens showed the Egyptians how to build the pyramids, I'm going to be a lot more skeptical. Saying "I don't know" is usually the safer and wiser choice.

Your opinions about other religions and other points of view seem very strange to me. In particular, your statement: "In the case of non-Christian religions, they are 100% humanism. i.e. man is his own god" amazes me because you seem to have no concept of what non-Christian religions believe. Islam is non-Christian, and they worship Allah (sometimes fanatically) who is basically the same god you worship. Hindus have numerous gods. I don't think it would be fair to say Buddists worship man, and Native Americans, from what little I know, seem to worship spirits or the "Great Spirit". Even those of us who actually call ourselves secular humanists do not see man as "God". Humans aren't perfect or all-knowing or all powerful, nor do we worship them. Lacking belief in a super-powerful god, we basically agree with Jesus's second commandment that we should love our neighbors. I would be interested in knowing where you got this information that all non-Christian religions see man as a god.

It seems likely that you get your information from sources that are very "polarized" (see Polarization) toward what you call "Theism". I have run into the idea before that most of what is bad in the world is the fault of "secular humanism", so I'm pretty sure the idea didn't originate with you. As usual with polarized situations, people look at things in black and white terms with themselves as the good guys. Rather than simply disagreeing with people with dissimilar views, they paint them in the most unfavorable terms possible (such as comparing them with poison).

I took the link to the website you referenced under "Spontaneous Generation" and got to some other pages that promoted your "Theism" point of view. Do you regard what you read in places like this as reliable? If so, why? I would guess that you got your anti-evolution quotes from this or a similar source. I have to imagine that such quotes are very carefully selected from tens or hundreds of thousands of possible quotes, many of which might support the opposing view, but of course they will only publicize the ones that promote the desired cause. It is OK to look at one-sided sources, but you should never rely on them to tell you the whole story. If you want to know what secular humanists think, go to a genuine secular humanist website or read some of their publications. If you only learn about secular humanists from people who despise them, you will get an unfair view. Even if your are reading quotes made by humanists you are not going to get a realistic view of humanists if the only quotes you read are ones hand-picked by their enemies. The same for Catholics, Jews, Muslims, or anyone else. Don't learn about liberals from Rush Limbaugh or about conservatives from Michael Moore, or for that matter, about Theists from secular humanists. Secular humanists are polarized too. While virtually everyone is polarized about one issue or another, it is a problem we should constantly be wary of if we care about the truth.

Another statement that bothered me was this: "The other religions do not have such documentation and do not adequately explain our world." I'll bet you didn't get this from the other religions involved. I'll also bet you didn't get it from a neutral source. The Book of Mormon was supposedly translated by Joseph Smith from golden plates brought to him by the angel Moroni. According to Mormons I talked to, twelve repected members of the community signed affidavits to the effect that they personally saw the golden plates. Personally I don't buy the angel business for a minute, but the Mormons understandably think the have great documentation. I suspect this is true of other religions as well. As far as explaining the world, I'm sure every religion assumes it does it the best.

I don't know of any reason to think that the Bible is absolutely true (except a lot of people say so because other people told them so). In fact I know of some good reasons why it is not; for example it contains numerous contradictions. They start right near the beginning - chapter 2 of Genesis contradicts chapter 1. In 1:24-27 God made the animals, then he made man. In 2:18-19 God made man first. When I first heard of this (and many other interesting problems) in a college religion class, I felt like I had been betrayed by the ministers in the church I had grown up in. They probably knew about problems like these, but they apparently chose to keep their members in the dark. Tell me if you know how to resolve this contradition. There are quite a few other serious problems I could ask you about.

At one point you ask "Do you think that all the problems in the world come from us loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourself?" No. I can't imagine why you would think this was my opinion. It sounds more like an insulting accusation than a serious question.

I expect your underlying motivation for calling secular humanism a religion and your criticism of science is that the theory of evolution contradicts Genesis. If you can convince people science is promoting the "religion" of secular humanism, that would be grounds for banning the teaching of evolution from being taught in public school on the basis that it is teaching a religion, so I can see why you would want to do that.

Given that you apparently believe that Genesis is absolutely true, I can see why you are forced to conclude that science, at least on the issue of evolution, has abandoned its search for truth in favor of pursuing a biased agenda. Of course you are not alone in this. There are a large number of highly motivated creationists who work tirelessly to dig up evidence that science is wrong. I don't find it at all surprising that they are able to unearth the occasional quote from a scientist that sounds incriminating or various errors that scientists have made. Scientists are human and therefore imperfect. They have biases, occasionally say dumb things, and occasionally do dumb things. Compiling a laundry list of complaints against scientists doesn't indicate to me that scientists have, as a whole, an improper "religious" agenda, especially when the people compiling the list do have an obvious opposing agenda.

While quotes generally don't impress me, I would like to call attention to the one by Gerald Wald that had the link to the spontaneous generation web page. He says that spontaneous generation was proved impossible a hundred years earlier (presumably by Pasteur). The link describes the type of experiment that was performed, which showed that things like maggots, mold, and bacterial decay did not spontaneously appear unless there was some outside contamination to provide a source of the organisms involved. Be aware that the "spontaneous generation" needed to start the evolutionary process would only require the accidental assembly of a single reproducing molecule somewhere in the universe over the course of billions of years. The fact that fully formed organisms do not appear in a test tube within a period of days hardly constitutes a proof that a "starter" molecule could not form ever in the universe. I would hope that people sincerely seeking truth would think their arguments out a little better than this.

There is, of course, an alternative explanation to the idea that scientists are part of a massive anti-"Theistic" conspiracy. Perhaps scientists are merely doing their job and the reason their findings are contrary to Genesis is simply that Genesis is wrong, at least as far as God creating plants and animals is concerned. This to me is by far the more likely situation. Genesis was written by primitive tribesmen whose identities can't be determined thousands of years ago based on stories previously passed down verbally (there are good reasons to think Moses did not write it, despite traditional beliefs that he did). It contains fantastic stories of talking snakes, magic apples, and the like. Why would we consider this to be reliable evidence?

Still, you seem to be claiming that you can show the Bible to be entirely true. This seems to be the crux of the matter. If you succeed, I will have to back down in my defense of science. Unfortunately, you don't seem to want to present your case until I agree that science is pursuing a religious agenda and that all of the religions of the world, from atheism to fundamentalist Islam, comprise a single philosophy "parallel" but opposite to yours. I can't see that happening, so I hope you will present your case without my having to meet that requirement.