Business of Faith

Mike and I have started reading (or in Mikes case, listening)  to “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis.

From the outset, Mike has noticed something with which he disagrees. That of course, led to pretty neat discussion.  I’m going to provide the quote Mike is referring to, then our discussion as it was (with fixed spelling, etc.myself).  Please feel free to ask Mike anything that you would like to know.  Also keep in mind we’ve been discussing these very things intensely for over four years.  So, if it seems like we’ve jumped over some things it’s because we’ve already covered it. However, I am confident the issues of morality, the beginning of life and the like will be revisited since we’ve not been able to agree on them.  So sit tight- this is what one quote out of a massive book can spill out in our minds!  Are we nerds? Yup.  Do we research this stuff and come back weeks later with a reply?   If you’re like us, get the books or follow the links to the articles and research alongside us!

” Every one has heard people quarreling. Sometimes it sounds funny, and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: “How’d you like it if anyone did the same to you?”-“That’s my seat; I was there first”-“Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm”- “Why should you shove in first?”-“Give me a bit of your orange; I gave you a bit of mine”-“Come on, you promised.” People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups. Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man’s behavior does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: “To hell with your standard.” Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not go against the norm, or that if it does there is some first excuse. He pretends there is some special reason in this particular case why the person who took the seat first should not keep it, or that things were quite different when he was given the bit of orange, or that something has turned up which lets him off keeping his promise.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Chapter 1, The Law of Human Nature

Mike: The part where he says “show me a man.” He is very wrong. He doesn’t understand atheism. He claims that if we don’t agree to some universal morality, that we have no reason to keep a promise. He is dead wrong.  It’s a classic argument that we atheists have no source for our morality, and that we will break a pledge readily, that we don’t know “right” from “wrong” nor do we have any sense of “decency,” basically we are some savages.

Beth: Right, I know exactly what argument you are talking about because it’s that’s common. What is your reply to that?

Mike: As we evolved and became more complex, we became less able to survive without the cooperation of others. Those beings with the strongest ability to bond and work with others survived at a higher rate than those who tried to function alone. Ultimately, we evolved into a species with strong emotional ties to each other, and a need for each other’s love and respect. This need gives rise to such feelings as sympathy and empathy, etc. Morality, as we call it, leads to a stronger civilization and a greater likelihood of survival. This is fundamental in evolution. Those beings best equipped to survive do survive, resulting in a stronger species. This is right among animals as well. Not uncommon to see animals that live in groups to enhance their likelihood of survival. Those animals that didn’t have the social needs did not mate as frequently and were, over time, eliminated. The concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, are by-products, simply terms we’ve invented for convenience. They have no real meaning in the universe. If I make a promise to you, I seriously want to keep it, because I want to be the kind of human who has strong ties and bonds with others and keeping promises is part of what allows that. It makes me healthier, and it is consistent with nature, as we have evolved.

He also makes a distinction between “wanting to help another in need” and “believing you SHOULD help another in need.” I think he is drawing a distinction that doesn’t exist. Nature has created us to have a desire to help others. All discussion as to whether we SHOULD is based on a moral code that is an invention of man. We WANT to help others. That’s good enough, and it’s real. It’s how we are, and it simply is meaningless to talk about “should.” That’s the atheist view, anyway.

Beth: You use the word created, so nature created itself? Or am I misunderstanding?

Mike: We evolved. We were created, but not by any intelligent beingI probably use the word carelessly, but the truth is that no one knows how everything got started, or even if it did. There are a lot of things no one knows, and I’m comfortable with that. We are here. Therefore we were somehow created. However, that doesn’t mean our creation was planned, any more than an icicle is planned. It is created when water is dripping off the roof, and it freezesOne might argue that God plans and creates every icicle and I couldn’t prove them wrong. But it’s sure not how I see it.So., we are fancy icicles.

Beth: I just got all caught up, sorry. We had Red River Carpet Cleaning doing the carpets again. Pretty sure they are my favorite people on the face of the planet. I bet your favorite people are Willmar Carpet Cleaning, huh?  One question I have is why do people then, in your opinion, do bad things? Where does ‘evil’ or the notion of ‘bad’ come from?

Mike:  They don’t do “bad” things. They just do things. They are only “bad” in the view of (some) other people. But why do they do things that would not make you or I feel good? It’s because the system isn’t perfect. Nature isn’t perfect. As wonderful as this system is, it has flaws, and some people are exceptions. Over time, those exceptions get removed from the species, so they are in the minority, but they still exist in small numbers. I’m talking mainly about people who are mass murderers, rapists, etc…the worst. You can find the same thing in the animal kingdom. An animal will kill another animal seemingly without purpose or cause. It’s hard for humans to interpret animal behavior, but in some cases, an animal will behave outside of its norms inexplicably. Perhaps this is the animal equivalent of sociopathic human behavior. But again, “bad” is an undefined concept, which not all humans agree on the meaning of. Without people roaming the earth, it has no meaning whatsoever.


    Beth: So you believe all animals/people evolved? What did they or we evolve from? Or, if you aren’t sure..what just your thought or theory? And were there ever any animals that didn’t NEED to evolve? Were there any species perfect the way they were? Serious question lol! And I’m not trying to be mundane…I have somewhere I’m headed with this…but you are usually always a few steps ahead lol.

     Mike: Nothing is “perfect.” Things are always evolving, but there are species that haven’t changed much in many eons, as their environment hasn’t changed much and they are well adapted. We evolved from more primitive forms of life. I don’t know if any of those forms of life are still around or not. Dawkins would probably know that.  Perfection, unfortunately, is not part of nature….or the universe.

     Beth: So, the giraffe. Have you heard this one?

    Mike: Not sure.

    Beth:  Essentially, creationists say it’s impossible that the giraffe evolved. It had to be created because of it’s complex system it needed because of it’s neck.  To drink water, the head goes below the heart, but to eat it goes above, all day, so the heart system or whatever (I’m so scientific) is specifically designed.

     Mike: Demonstrating once again that creationists don’t understand the difference between “impossible” and “unlikely.”

     In nature we find all kinds of such examples that one would think MUST be designed by an intelligent being. That is where our mind instinctively goes, but that is far from a scientific approach. There are probably tribes in Africa who see airplanes go overhead and consider them proof that God exists because it seems so impossible.

    Beth: But scientifically, giraffes couldn’t have survived without starting off exactly how they are now. So how did they get here?Remember, I’m science dumb. And I’m sincerely curious, people have used this on me before, and it makes sense to me, but I know you will have another thought.

    Mike: I would ask you to support your assertion that giraffes had to start exactly as they are.

    Beth: I have a link explaining it, it’s long lol! Do you want that?

    Mike: That’s an excellent article. I have no reason to believe that it is misleading or deceptive. What it says is that the giraffe is not real evidence in support of Darwin’s theory of evolution and that many problems exist in current explanations as to how and why the giraffe exists as it is. In other words, we don’t know. Perhaps it makes no sense that the giraffe’s neck evolved as a device for foraging high branches. I don’t know, and according to the article, neither do scientists. However, this is a LONG way from saying the giraffe did NOT evolve. Perhaps we don’t have evidence to support its evolution, but this is by no means proof of anything. Science is comfortable with “gaps” in knowledge. That’s just what they are…..our brains are limited, and while we are always learning, there are many things we still don’t know. How the giraffe got here may very well be one of them, but that in itself is not support for creationism either. At this point in the discussion, all we can say, based on the article, is that the giraffe is a mystery to humans.

     The article challenges evidence. This is exactly what science does. I’m not sure what “evidence” exists to prove that the giraffe was created, but that evidence would be challenged as well.That’s not a scientific leap. They can’t say it did not evolve. They can merely test the current theories on how and why it evolved, and point out that it can’t be used to support Darwinism. If they want to make a case for creationism, they need to provide more support than just “there are problems with the theory of Darwinism.”

    Beth: I ‘think’ I understood most of it lol! That’s fascinating!

    So, readers, what do you say? Are we just “fancy icicles?” Did giraffes evolve, or have they always had that long neck they are famous for? Speak up in the comments!
    (There’s quite a bit more from this one discussion, but there’s a lot of information in there for those of you that are following the links provided! Within the next couple of days, I’ll post our discussion on the Cambrian Explosion, Fossils, and wherever that leads. And of course, more from, “Mere Christianity).”