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About mitchellmckain

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  1. These are probably acquired characteristics due to changes in diet, and as you should know acquired characteristics are not inherited or a matter of genetics. You need to look a little beneath such superficialities for the real evolutionary changes. This is true and it is more than just acquired characteristics because inheritance is all about information and the information we pass on to the next generation isn't just genetic any more. We can no longer ignore the impact we are having on the earth and that awareness is the first step towards the evolution (in human communication and social terms rather than genetic terms) of the self-control that we need. That is a science fiction myth. Random radiation damage is NOT what drives evolution or genetic change. It is true that more primitive organisms do make use of this as a source of genetic variation. But for more complex organisms which have evolved their own means to introduce genetic variations in their genome, such random damage when it succeed in overwhelming our rather efficient repair mechanisms, is just cancer, radiation sickness and death and not any kind of productive genetic variation.
  2. A lot of things have changed in the minecraft world since the beginning described in the OP. A lot of things have changed very rapidly in the year that I have been playing the game. Yes it has kept my attention that long. I made a foray into online games for a while before that but I have come to despise the cheap tactic of blackmail that it uses to keep you playing. Play regularly or everything you have built just falls apart. I loved Shores of Hazeron for the open ended sci fi game of building cities, spaceships and stellar empires is any sci fi fan's greatest fantasy, and I clung to it for half a year through several devastaing changes such as when the pirates introduced into the game wiped out all my ships and space stations keeping me cowering in my cities for a long time. But in the end it became a job rather than a game to keep my empire alive.But on to the reason minecraft has kept my attention so long. The answer is a large community that is constantly developing the every kind of modification you can imagine. I do not have one minecraft game, I have hundreds and each of those is a combination of many mods that different people have made for the game. All different kinds of weird technology, magic, monsters, dimensions, friends and even alterations of the basic mechanics of the game itself. And the basic game itself has been changing rapidly as well making the multiplayer features of the game more and more accessible to people and the modders. There are bouts of hilarity also such as when one guy furious at how lame one update to the game was made his own very elaborate mod "Better than Wolves" making fun those changes to the game.In short Minecraft is so successful because it has created an outlet for the creativity of many people, both the players who can build their own house, garden and city as well as the modders who can create their own unique game on the minecraft platform.
  3. I quite agree that any God worth believing in would not be knowable in the sense of a scientfic specimen which you can define, measure and manipulate. But I don't think that captures the totality of the meaning of the word "know". Another meaning of the word has to do with how we know another person which does not neccessarily have anything to do with defining, measuring and manipulating them though I acknowledge that this may indeed what it means to some people in that context. I would suggest that what gets closest a person's identity, more than anything else, is the choices he makes -- what he chooses to see as important and what he devotes his life and time to. It is not in the circumstantial things that have been handed to someone, that we find the real person, but rather in what he decides to do with all of that. In any case, if you can understand what I mean by knowing another person which does not require such things as measurement and manipulation, then I would propose that knowledge of God is possible in that sense. In fact I would suggest that God has a purity of choice, purpose, motivation, and integrity as well as a lack of inner conflicts, confusion that makes him in some sense more knowable than human beings are. It is why many people find Him so reliable and well worth "knowing".
  4. Yes we have removed a lot of the natural selection that played a role in our evolution, but to think that this simply means that we stop changing is a rather naive conclusion. The fact is that the gene pool of the human race is changing more rapidly right now that it has for millions of years. Why? Because as was the whole point of the OP, we are changing the rules which govern our development. We no longer survive as individuals but as members of a community. Members of our race who would never have survived to reproduce ten thousand years ago are now doing so all the time. And this affect has accelerated as our science and technology has accelerated. None of this is speculation. It is simple fact. Now another naive conclusion is that the removal of the previous criterion of natural selection that played a role in our evolution means that we will de-evolve. But this is ONLY true if you have the bad taste to call the handicapped inferior. We have rejected this Eugenics type of thinking to reaffirm the humanity of the handicapped and work toward improving their lives and ability to contribute to society. In short we have chosen to compensate for their disabilities with the technology of the community as much as we are able to do so. The point of the OP is that an analogous thing happened in the development of multicellular organisms where the same kind of protection of its weakers members enabled comunities of cells to evolve specialized cells that cannot survive on their own anymore but which play valuable roles in the community environment which it had created and thus enabled the whole community to do things which the individual cells never could. Adapting our environment is hardly unique to human beings. It very old trick employed throughout the diversity of life on this planet. It is a well known fact that life has completely altered the composition of the atmosphere of this planet. "Natual instincts" to develop a harmony with one environment is frankly a myth that has no basis in reality. No such instinct exists. Either balances are found or things change, and both of these can be found throughout the history of this planet. The truth is that the human race is the only species on the planet that has ever been aware of and concerned itself with the ecological balance of the earth. Our survival may well depend on the development of that awareness and concern, but that just means that with our power to affect the balance of nature comes the responsibility to do it wisely for the consequences otherwise may be our own extinction. But we are allowing the for the adaptation of our own physical forms. But you are wrong to see this as so terribly important because the fact is that our survival no longer rests upon our physical form any more. Our technological capabilities far exceed such considerations. The question of whether we end destroying ourselves isn't a matter of genetic evolution any more but of how we use our technology and how well we adapt to our new reality as a world community.
  5. You cannot edit your own posts anymore? This does not follow. Just because you cannot prove/verify something does not mean that you cannot know it. The cowardly might retreat to such safe grounds, but I have no inclination to make a virtue out of any cowardice. I repudiate the way fundamentalists make a virtue out of the cowarice of capitulating to the intellectual blackmail of a God that says "believe or else you will suffer for eternity". But I also repudiate the way that excessive skeptics make a virtue out of cowardice when they imply that they will not believe what they personally experience simply because they might be scorned by those who don't believe them when they cannot prove it. And I say the opposite. If you can verify the existence of your god, then I will no more worship it than I will worship idols or money or quarks. For within the ability to verify is the abiity to manipulate and thus such a god will be your tool. No thank you indeed. In taking to heart the truth that knowledge and proof are disjoint, I refuse the arrogant affectation that diversity of belief is a product of mental deficiency and instead assert that diversity of belief gives strength to human thought in much the same way that the diversity of species gives strength to the ecosystem and diversity of the gene pool provides strength to a species, by providing them all with greater adaptability -- a kind of group manifestation of creativity. And so in support of this view I embrace the idea that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality which lends an aspect of diversity to truth itself. Yes, I am a pluralist.
  6. This does not follow. Just because you cannot prove something does not mean that you cannot know it. The cowardly might retreat to such safe grounds, but I have no inclination to make a virtue out of any cowardice. I repudiate the way fundamentalists make a virtue out of the cowarice of capitulating to the intellectual blackmail of a God that says "believe or else you will suffer for eternity". But I also repudiate the way that excessive skeptics make a virtue out of cowardice when they imply that they will not believe what they personally experience simply because they might be scorned by those who don't believe him when he cannot prove it. And I say the opposite. If you can verify the existence of your god, then I will no more worship it that I will worship idols or money or quarks. For to within the ability to verify is the abiity to manipulate and thus such a god will be your tool. No thank you indeed. In taking to heart the truth that knowledge and proof are disjoint, I refuse the arrogant affectation that diversity of belief is a product of mental deficiency and instead assert that diversity of belief gives strength to human thought in much the same way that the diversity of species gives strength to the ecosystem and diversity of the gene pool provides strength to a species, by providing them all with greater adaptability -- a kind of group manifestation of creativity. And so in support of this view I embrace the idea that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality which lends a definite aspect of diversity to truth itself.
  7. And yet there is a sense in which science is the extension of sight. If we cannot see it with the naked eye we nevertheless have a means to tangibly verify the existence of some things. If we have knowledge of God, it does not come from even this extension of sight by the objective means used by science. I think what we must acknowledge is that life cannot be confined to objective observation, and thus in the pursuit of subjective participation in life where our desires cannot be dismissed many find personal experiences of God and find that they cannot live without the meaning and value that these experiences give to their lives.
  8. There is a whole spectrum in science from the hard sciences to soft science, from the theoretical to the experimental to the purely observational, and from the foundational to the more complex. The most foundational is the purely theoretical science of mathematics whose assertions can actually be proven and require no experiement to verify. Then there is science of physics which is all about determining the mathematical relationship between measurable quantities, and that makes it highly ammenible to both theoretical and experimental methods, but there are areas of physics like astronomy which can be mostly observational. In chemistry we start to see how complexity can be the source of emergent phenomenon and an unending number of species to observe and study making it much more of an experimental and observational science than a theoretical one. When we get to biology, theory is very hard to come by and that is one of the reasons that the theory of evolution is so highly prized (I believe that a worlking theory of abiogenesis may be the next great theoretical break through), and before evolution and genetics, biology was almost purely an observational science of categorizing the endless species and their characteristics. By the time we get to sociology and psychology we are in the softest of sciences, where experiments are statistical and theories are highly speculative with very little means to verify them and it is here where Kuhn's paradigms and scientific revolutions are quite descriptive.
  9. In chapter 5 "Flag of the world", I think Chesterton is very much on to something, but that he comes at it from the wrong end. His blasting of the suicide as the greatest crime is all wrong because of this approach from the negative rather than the positive -- with the stick rather than the carrot so to speak. The suicide is more of a victim rather than a criminal and deserving more of compassion than condemnation. If the suicide has sneered at life then it is only because all of the rest of us have failed to demonstrate that life is worthwhile. This problem with his approach to this topic is found from the very beginning when he looks at embracing life as a matter of patriotism and loyalty as if failing to do so were treason. But in what Chesterton is trying to communicate, I have great sympathy because in it is found the roots of my own faith in God, but from a more postive approach. For me embracing life is not a matter of patriotism and loyalty but a matter of faith. You will find on my blog that I only began to find some meaning in the word "God" when I saw an equivalence between a faith in God and a faith that life is worth living. This is something that I think goes both ways -- not only does a real faith in God give you guarantor that life worth living in the face of adversity, but I also think that having faith that life is worlth living is in some sense a faith God (the reality rather than what any religion says about God), because it means that you value what God values and embrace what God strives so dilligently to give, "that you may have life and have it more abundantly".I was not very happy with Chesterton's condmenation of the Quaker idea of the spark of the divine in every human being, and I certainly do not agree with his attempt to equate this with a worship of self. The Quakers are one of my two most favorite historical religions and the testimony of its impact on modern society, transforming us from the barbaric treatment of fellow human beings is nothing less than a manifestation of the divine in human history. It is one of my amusements in discussions with atheists to suggest that it is in Quakerism that we find the true origins of humanism, which I very much see as positive thing -- for not everything non-Christian idea/movement has to be seen as an attack on Christianity as if Christianity were about world domination rather than world transformation.On the other hand, I was very happy with Chesterton's point about Christianity dividing God from the cosmos and explaining why this was so important, for I have certainly come to the same conclusions. The fact is, that I see many strains of Christian thought straying over the line into pan(en)theism all the time, in such things as Christian mysticism, absolute predestination and divine sovereignty, and even in the pious attempt to say that without God we are nothing. An overdependence upon God and excessive control by God reduces His creation to the status of a mere dream in the mind of God, which I think is indistinguishable from pan(en)theism. A true act of creation is necessarily an act of self-limitation, and a sacrifice of absolute sovereignty is required to support the autonomy of life and free will. I in fact, believe that love itself requires such a sacrifice of absolute sovereignty and contol. The love that I see in God is not the prideful love of an artist for his work, or the indulgent love of an owner for his pet, but the self-sacrificing love of a parent for his child. So He came to us in order "to serve, not to be serve" (Matt 20:28).In chapter six, "Paradoxes of Christianity", I think Chesterton makes too much of the hypocrises and contradictions in the criticisms of Christianty. Just because ones critics are wrong does not mean that you are right. Nevertheless his basic idea about not only balancing but also embracing passionate extremes as the right way to find balance is I think right on the money. In fact I have found something very similar in the nature of the process of life itself, which is not simply a balancing between sensitivity to the environment and independence from the environment (avoiding the twin deaths of stagnation and dissolution) but a matter of finding through complexity a means to simultaneous seek both greater sensitivity and greater independence without limit.I think he takes this "Christianity as truth in paradox" a little too far at times. Not all contradictions are paradoxes that should be embraced (I am open theist and I think that absolute predestination is just wrong), and I think that the example of balancing pride and humility in Christian doctrines involving seeing man as a sinner is a little bit TOO much of a pragmatic approach to Christianity. Christianity does not look at man as a sinner in order to find some sort of psychological balance in his emotional states but because this is an unfortunate fact about our existence. That particular aspect of Christianity is about truth not technique.However, I am quite delighted that he finds that he has this idea that orthodoxy is about balancing because in this I see a lot of similarity with my own ideas that orthodoxy was always about the inclusivity of retaining all the dimensions of the Christian experience and resisting the attempts of sects to cut it down into something smaller and thus more exclusive.
  10. I found this book delightful and intriguing. I will not defend the logic of his arguments, but I think that I am not what Chesterton would call a lunatic -- for although I am skillful in the use of reason, I am not one who is so confined by reason that they cannot see beyond its limitations. In fact, I think this connects somewhat with my usual argument that life cannot be confined to objective observation but must include subjective participation where what you want to be the case cannot be ignored. Every living thing has to pursue what it wants and this has to color its understanding and perception of itself and the world. There is nothing objective about living your life, because however great tool science may be, trying to reduce life to science is foolish.I was a bit annoyed by Chesterton's equivocation of "believing in oneself" and "believing in oneself blindly" for one can equally criticize "believing in God" on the basis of examples of those who "believe in God blindly", if you know what I mean. I know that he wants to argue that believing in God has an important advantage, but that is not something that I even believe is universally true, and I think this fact is an important part of the seperation between man and God. I also cringed at his mention of the apostles creed because I do not support this creed which had no eccumenical approval but would stick to the more minimal definition of Christianity in the Nicean creed as it was first agreed upon in the first eccumenical council. I would argue that the earliest consensual and most inclusive definition of Christianity is the most orthodox one and that heresy should indentified more by the way in which it limits and reject rather than by its deviations.Chesterton's idea about the shift of humility/modesty from ambition to conviction was quite interesting. I have often found myself in a battle with people over something quite similar, because I feel that boldness given by faith applies not only to doing good works but also to do with conviction. I quote the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) to explain to Christians that this fearful and miserly way of seeking the truth by sticking to the literal word of Scripture alone is not an example of good faith at all. However, I think Chesterton over-reacts to the admission that one can be wrong and I definitely think he overplays his hand with this idea that the role of relgious authority is the defense of reason, which continues to show such an extreme disregard of the significance of science that I am given to wonder if he is in the Flat Earth society.His criticism of materialism as stopping thought is too extreme, for I think that the most we can says is that we have some cause to see truth in the claim that materialism is to some degree self defeating -- which we must admit is a rather subjective judgement. Having heard this kind of extremism with regards to materialism, we cease to be surprized when we hear his attacks on evolution, existentialism and pragmatism as well (though in each case we can agree that these have at times been taken to absurd/distateful extremes). His argument that evolution is an attack thought itself is rather bizarre and it makes me wonder if he has made the same mistake of Aristotle to confuse the elements of language with reality itself, for thingness does not depend on arbitrary lingustic categories for a thing can be a dynamic entity whose changes cross such boundaries. To make "choice" (which is another name for free will) a central concept in ones philosphy is not to worship it, though I quite agree that Nietche has gone right off the deep end in his pursuit of will for its own sake.However Chesterton's claim that every act of will is a limitation, points to an oversight on his part. For an infinite God this would in fact be the case but for finite beings in a process of growth and learning this misses the mark, because in the latter case every act of will is also an act of self-creation. Thus we can distinguish between acts of will that narrow and destroy ones range of choices and potential for development and those which expand them. Good habits increase ones choices and opportunities and bad habits (sin) decrease ones choices and eventually destroy free will itself. I certainly reject the idea that salvation and heaven is a matter of sacrificing ones free will to become a slave to goodness. It is evil and destruction that must end in the monotony of nothingness where there are no choices left but goodness and creation is an exploration of infinite possibilities. Free will really isn't about a choice between good and evil, but about being able to get the most out of life and what goodness/creation has to offer.In the fourth chapter, Chesterton certainly has a unique and interesting view of things, but I find it to be a little extreme. However, I have learned in science of all places, just how instructive extreme cases can be. Often it is by looking at extremes that one can uncover the fundamental elements of an equation.I had come to the conclusion that one of the key difference between the religious and the non-religious is in what sort of events they are willing to see as significant. But I was still quite surprised to see such a clear example of this in Chesterton but in reverse of the usual case. The atheist cannot see any truth in relgion because he does not see any significance in the events upon which such convictions are based. Chesterton is quite right in seeing that science is based upon looking at patterns in objectively observable events and therein is what science accepts as significant. But it is the first time I have encountered someone who not only sees other types of things as significant (as all religious people do), but who also cannot see any significance in the things that science does.Thus Chesterton becomes a counter-example to the view that the religious are simply those who see significance in too much, getting false positives in an over-active capacity to see patterns in life. Thus it is proved that it really is a matter of choice about what one thinks is important and thus in what sort of things one is willing to look for patterns. Most of Chesterton's life including when Orthodoxy was written, is before the discoveries of quantum physics which would ultimately bring physical determinism crashing down. Thus it is science itself which finally brought an end to the era of materialistic fatalism that was so similiar to Calvinism in that respect. Thus perhaps today, Chesterton would not feel quite so much aversion to science as he expressed in Othodoxy.
  11. Obviously my understanding of Genesis chapters 2&3 are far from a literal one. I would see Genesis 2:7 "formed man of dust from the ground" as representing the process of evolution and the breath of life as refering to God's parental instruction or "inspiration" (the divine breath). What I certainly DO NOT believe is that Adam and Eve were products of some kind necromancy that made them golems of dust and flesh.
  12. This was interesting, not only because I am always interested in what the Catholic Church has to say (I bought a copy of the catechism for a reference), but because "monogenism" was a term that I had not heard before. Perhaps you will find my position interesting. You see I believe that the human mind is a living organism in its own right, with its own inheritance (transmitted via human communication) apart from the biological inheritance of our body (transmitted via DNA). Because of this I can hold the two different positions simultaneously, monogenism with regards to the human mind and polygenism with regards to the human body. With regards to the human mind, I believe not only that the human race is descended from the single human couple, the Adam and Eve in the story of Genesis, but that we are in fact descended from God Himself. But our body is just a primate, 97% the same a chimpanzees, and so biologically we are bretheren to all the other living creatures on the earth. In other words, although Adam and Eve had biological parents, it is God who raised Adam and Eve as His own children, and from God they learned what it is that makes us human. Another way to think of it is, that our first religion was our humanity itself, which was not limited to biological descent but only by human communication, and after the flood it spread over all of the earth. Biblical evidence for this view, by the way, includes the fact that Cain was afraid of other people in Genesis 4:14, and Genesis 6:1-4 which can be understood as an answer to the age old question of who did Cain and Seth marry. The sons of god refers to Cain and Seth, while the daughers of men refer to females of their species, who joined the human family by marriage. And in 6:4 it explains that their children became the leaders of human civilization, "mighty men that were of old, men of renown".
  13. I am a scientist and a Christian. Science is not about belief but about training in a methodology. There are those with no such training with the ridiculous idea that they are the "true scientists" because they have made a life commitment to always think in empirical terms. These poor deluded people have indeed turned science into a religion. But to say that they worship science as the only God is still a rather queer thing to say. Regardless, recognizing the rather obvious fact that science is the best means that human beings have ever devised for getting at the truth about the world around them IS NOT in any way shape or form worshipping science as a god let alone the only god. Furthermore the fact the science understands when it is wrong is a great part of its power. Religion rarely even agrees on what is correct let alone recognizes when it is wrong. Now I am very much a believer in the necessary importance of religion in human life, and very much a critic of the rather aburd idea that science is the be all and end all of human life. I not only know that the objective methodology of science is incapable of determining the truth about all things, but I believe that there is an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality. But by that very belief, I am thoroughly convinced we have to accept that diversity is one of the unavoidable characteristics of religion. It may indeed get at truths that work for those that find them. But belief and desire is an essential part of it and its methods are subjective, so it is unreasonable to expect that everyone is going to accept the validity of any such approach. Personally, I do not believe in reincarnation. All of the so called "evidence" can have all sorts of other explanations both scientific and non-scientific. Creepy indeed! The spiritual posession of a child by some old creep is rather disgusting to me.
  14. I just want to say that this nonsense is NOT a "Christian perspective", it is an ANTI-SCIENCE perspective. These WACKOS like the Flat Earthers just want their own self-righteous cult that excludes scientists. This makes me rather angry because I am a scientist who became a Christian, and I very much thing that this kind of narrow minded exclusivity that cuts Christianity down to a door which only they themselves can squeeze through is a rather nasty self-indulgent cultish behavior. It is no more possible for me to take this anti-evolution nonsense seriously than it is take this Flat Earth insanity seriously. Their behavior makes it abundantly clear that they simply don't want there to be a scientific theory for the orgins of life or the species. They want God to be the explanation for everything. That is is not faith but willfull wishful thinking.Now as a Christian I can understand a great deal of their point of view. I don't fault their priorities. Life and life everlasting is more important by far than all the activities of science. I don't expect everyone to share my interest in science any more than I expect them to share any of my other interests. Furthermore I DO see quite clearly that it is the rhetoric of aggressive atheists that is largely responsible for this anti-science cult. It is the continuous spouting of absolute nonsense that science disproves God that can ONLY have this effect of convincing Christians that science must therefore be wrong. It is complete foolishness on the part of these atheists to think that this rhetoric could really succeed in convincing people that their point of view is correct. In addition the use of evoution to justify the most horrid philosophy of social Darwinism, not only played a key role in motivating modern fundamentalism but is something that will take a rather long time to forget. God as an explanation for everything and the Bible as the source of ALL truths was fine for the middle ages perhaps, but I do not want to live in the appalling squalor of the middle ages. Frankly far from explaining everything, I don't see that God explains ANYTHING. I really don't see God offering explanations for things. I don't see God even in the business of explanations at all. I DON'T think that is what Christianity is about at all. But the activities of men are ones that are in a continual process of specialization, and the first fireside story tellers combined all the activities of science, history, philosophy, religion and entertainment. So trying to characterize anything from 2000 years ago as a failed attempt at one of these specialized activities of modern times is just absurd."Because the Bible says so" is the most absurd argument imaginable. Why should anyone take that anymore seriously than quoting Star Trek to say that faster than light travel is possible? Some people like myself come to the conclusion that the Bible is a work of God because we read in it things that change our lives for the better. But the Bible was written long ago in a setting of vastly different social conditions, and there will always be issues on which we must show a little discernment. The slaughter of people in a war by protagonists in the story does not condone such behavior to day. The practice of slavery and polygamy back then does not condone the same behavior today. Misogynistic attitudes in the Bible does not mean that we should not condemn these attitudes today. And I certainly do not think that any of the stories in the Bible should be taken as proof that the findings of science are wrong.
  15. This is not quite correct. The quantity involved is called the cosmological constant NOT gravitational constant, and here is the correct explanation of what happened: When Einstein derived his gravitational field equations in General Relativity he realized that the solutions of these equations would not not be stable and so going with the standard scientific dogma of the day that the universe was in some kind of steady state (i.e. always existing) he added a constant to his field equations in order to make a stable solution of them possible. When it was discovered that all distant object were receding from us and thus that the universe was apparently expanding, Einstein naturally kicked himself and said that this was the biggest mistake of his career -- and so it most definitely was indeed. He accepted the assumptions of the scientific community rather than going with what his own theory was telling him straight to his face and if he had only taken this seriously he could have really counted a really big coup on the scientific community by predicting that the universe was either contracting or expanding.
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