Sunday, January 13, 2008

You don't

Pete, the simple answer is that you can't talk to people like that, at least not about any issues dealing with science. Science is inherently a rational process (assuming the scientists act, as a whole, rationally, which eventually the community of scientists does), and people who make "arguments" from the perfect literality of the Bible are not being rational. They're ruled by their faith, which is their choice, but it provides no avenue for discussion. Entirely too many people in that community believe that if any aspect of the Bible is demonstrably untrue, the entire text is faulty and irrelevant, and once one builds that rigid a foundation to base one's entire life on, one cannot be willing to explore any variations. These are people who diffuse cogent, well-thought out, complex arguments about inconsistencies in the Bible with a simple "If you truly believed, you wouldn't see that as a problem." What do you do with that? Obviously, you don't truly believe, so nothing you say can be relevant.

To believe as many of these people do, you have to accept God as a being which, given infinite power and knowledge, would choose to (a) create humanity as a curious, thoughtful, questioning species capable of understanding complex issues through the human creation of science and (b) produce a staggering amount of data which such a species would be inclined to accept, but which would really be a trick, designed to make us prove our faith. I'm not sure why so many are so devoted to a God which, in that model, is a complete jackass. "Hey guys, I'm going to give you the skills to use science to, say, cure diseases and travel to other planets, but if you try to use those same skills to explore anything about any of these fossils or quasars or black holes or anything like that, you'll burn in Hell, you blasphemous bastards." I mean, does that make any sense?

Of course, religion as a whole confuses me, so I may not be the best source for answers here.

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