Evolution versus Creationism

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Evolution versus Creationism

I believe in Evolution
88
80%
I believe in Creationism
7
6%
I believe in Itelligent Design
4
4%
I believe in Theistic Evolutionism
11
10%
 
Total votes: 110

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-08, 11:53

Massimiliano B wrote:There are in effect some values that everyone shares: rape and paedophilia are abominable crimes and everyone agrees about that (even though someone considers the latter normal - what a sick world!).

So everyone agrees about these things except those people who don't. Got it.

Massimiliano B wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Evolution is not teleological. Every group of humans around today is equally "evolved". After all, they've all been subject to competitive pressures for precisely the same length of time.

We cannot say that evolution is not teleological. We don't know whether the teleonomy in nature has been wanted by a divine architect or not.

We can't say for certain, but there's absolutely no compelling reason to think there is. As it stands, the theory of evolution does not need a "divine architect" or any other external directing force to account for the phenomena observed. You need some other sort of evidence in order to make that case.

The point is that "more evolved intellectually" is a scientifically indefensible statement.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Varislintu » 2014-10-08, 12:40

Massimiliano B wrote:The transition from the consideration of what is to the consideration of what ought to be is inherent to a world which is determined by the evolution.


I'm somewhat familiar with this line of thinking. I follow the discussions in a place online called The Skeptical Zone, which is originally intended as a forum for people to discuss evolution and intelligent design, but a lot of the discussion that arises between representatives of these two positions actually often ends up being about morality and specifically with this argument --- in other words intelligent design proponents claim that if evolution (or "materialism", or "Darwinism" as they like to call it) were to be considered true by a person, then that person would be obligated by rationality and logic and consistency to also think X. That X, as they argue, pertains to morality and is usually some form of "everything goes, there are no rules". (The follow-up argument is then that since evolution-accepters do not think that "everything goes, there are no rules", that they need to recognise this contradiction and let go of their erroneous premise, i.e. that evolution is a real mechanism (and also, that objective morality doesn't exist).)

I've read through quite a few of those debates there, and I think there is a profound difference in thinking that underlies the formulation of this argument, which is pretty interesting in and of itself. To many non-religious, evolution-accepting people who don't believe in objective or absolute morality, I think this argument comes across as a strange jumble of ethics and naturalistic reality. Those two spheres don't mix or depend on each other in the world-view of that type of person. Whereas for someone who bases their view of the world on (a possibly religion-based) objective morality those two spheres (ethics and naturalistic reality) are linked by necessity. Already in the formulation of the argument is there an underlying world-view difference that is hard to overcome. The debate easily derails into "What are you even asking?" and "Why are you pretending not to understand?".

Anyway, I feel a bit like this when I look at your sentence above. Why would that transition be inherent?

Massimiliano B wrote:Even the capacity of thinking about values and imaginary worlds have to be seen as properties that have been selected by evolution.


They are properties that have come about through the evolution mechanism, yes. (Not necessarily selected for by natural selection, though.)

Massimiliano B wrote:The evolution legitimises any kind of outcome of its process


I'm not sure what you mean with "legitimises". Evolution is the process. What comes to be through it is just what comes to be through it. It doesn't have a goal beyond a drive for alive things to procreate and stay alive. It can lead to shitty outcomes (shitty from the point of view of someone), like HIV or parasites or too narrow birth canals.

Massimiliano B wrote: - and any kind of value which one can have.


Any kinds of values that occur in people are factual occurences, yes. But we must decide what to think about them and how to, well, value them.

Massimiliano B wrote:Therefore, I don't understand why one should consider the equality as the only and the highest value to be pursued.


It's not, objectively. This is where we hit upon that world-view rift again. You seek something I have even difficulty understanding as a theoretical concept. Objective values. When you say the above to me, I shrug and feel a bit baffled, and say "It's not the highest value, objectively. But it can be, for you, subjectively. And if it's not, others may try to convince you of it. You may be convinced. You may not. Many people never start valuing equality. This is a factual occurence. I don't really understand what you are asking." :P

Massimiliano B wrote:The problem is that if a value has been selected by the natural selection, we could not rationally uphold a value.


On a side note: natural selection is not the only mechanism of evolution, and nowadays scientists actually think it may be overshadowed by other mechanisms like neutral drift. I am not an expert, but I think in light of this we can't attribute to natural selection anything as complex and fickle as values that human beings hold. I'm mentioning this because natural selection is often thought of as the mechanism with a purpose, and many mistakenly think this means that whatever properties that survive it, are good. But those properties are only good by the metrics of the mechanism of natural selection, i.e. better short term survival in an ecological niche. That's all they are. However, values in particular could also be the result of neutral drift, and that makes their only accomplishment that they haven't particualrly hindered survival. That's all.

So I'd like to read your sentence more like "If a value has appeared through the processes of evolution, we could not rationally uphold a value." And I don't understand what you mean by that. :hmm: As in, why not? And rationally how? As opposed to what?

Massimiliano B wrote:The strongest group of people would impose its worldview and all its values by forces.


Well, you are pretty much describing what is. That is how it works. Also if God is the source of the ultimate values, that is how it would still be. However, I'd like to point out that inner values can't be imposed. You may be forced by social consensus to act outwardly according to some dominant values you don't hold, but inside you would still have your own moral compass. It is also possible to change inner values through introspection, persuasion or brainwashing, I suppose (the latter I'm not sure of, I'm not a psychologist).

Massimiliano B wrote:On the other hand ,if you want to rationally assert your position, you have to be ready to go against the principle of natural selection.


No problem. The most accurate models for what is does not have much to do with what ought ot be.

Massimiliano B wrote:There are in effect some values that everyone shares: rape and paedophilia are abominable crimes and everyone agrees about that (even though someone considers the latter normal - what a sick world!).


I mentioned earlier that I struggle to understand what objective values mean on a theoretical level --- and here that bafflement comes up. Because what you say is not how it is. Absolutely not does everybody share those values. :?

Massimiliano B wrote:Also the assistance of terminally ill persons, of disabled and old people, are almost everywhere considered moral duties - together with equality. What leads us to consider these people to be worthy of our respect? Why do we need to help them? Is there a rational ground for all these values? If the answer is "yes", then I don't see how could they derive from natural selection. This model can explain well the origin of our body, but the origin of the capacity of rationally thinking of good and evil is out of reach of it.


Why is it more rational to hold a value if it isn't natural in origin, than if it is natural in origin? I'm intrigued especially since you use the word rational, and not for example important, or good. Arguing that they are more important or good or ultimate or something, if they come from outside of us (like from God), would seem easier.

I think you are thinking about natural processes too uncharitably, so to speak. :) You have something that you find beautiful and good: philanthropy. You feel this is so good it must be a pinnacle, and something really special. Then you look at what science thinks is the likely path through which it came to be, and you find that that's just not special enough. But why? The ability to reason and empathise and see the big picture (well, compared to animals) is something human beings have ended up with. We can also talk to each other, communicate ideas and feelings, and organise in societies. Why cannot those abilities be trusted to arrive at some pretty good values? What is so unacceptable in the idea that humans also display a pretty large variety in values, and that inevitably this leads to some values being dominant in certain places and times, even if there is not full consensus on them? Why is it so unacceptable that we who may have good values, only have that opinion subjectively, and that we can still justify trying to make those values dominant in our society?

Massimiliano B wrote:We cannot say that evolution is not teleological. We don't know whether the teleonomy in nature has been wanted by a divine architect or not.


If we cannot know, then best act as if there was no divine will. Anything else would be mere guesswork and makebelieve. That's how I see it.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Ludwig Whitby » 2014-10-08, 15:22

Massimiliano B wrote:I have a question about evolutionism. If it is true, then evolution is still in action. If it is still in action, it's likely that somewhere around the world there are (or there will be necessarily) groups of people more evolved intellectually and culturally. If there is (or there will be) at least one group of people more evolved, all the human beings are not (or will not be) biologically equal. That is, different human races do (or will) exist. If they exist (or will exist), differences in rights and duties between them are (or will be) admissible - as they are between men and animals.

The main differences between humans and apes can be attributed to a process of neoteny. Since Humans are the most neotenized apes and Asians are the most neotenized humans, you might argue that Asians are 'more evolved' than the rest of us and could lead the way towards the next step in the evolution of hominids.

As far as intellectual and cultural evolution is concerned, I don't think there is an objective way of measuring that.

Massimiliano B wrote:This is just the situation of our world: a small part of the population is very rich and has a life expectancy of 80-85 years, while the rest is poor and has a life expectancy of 50-60 years. Should I consider these differences as a proof of validity of the evolutionary theory and accept them as a necessary consequence of it?

I think that's a consequence of a long list of factors, almost all of which are external and random.

Massimiliano B wrote:Nazism would not have existed without Nietzsche, whose theories about the Übermensch ("Superman"), in turn, whould not have existed without Darwin. How can we mantain the faith in evolution and at the same time the conception of equality of all men and women?

Übermensch and the way Nietzsche understood evolution is quite different from Darwin's theory. Nietzsches Superman isn't biologically different from modern day humans.

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-08, 16:17

Ludwig Whitby wrote:The main differences between humans and apes can be attributed to a process of neoteny. Since Humans are the most neotenized apes and Asians are the most neotenized humans, you might argue that Asians are 'more evolved' than the rest of us and could lead the way towards the next step in the evolution of hominids.

Highly relevant: The mismeasure of man by evolutionary biologist Stephan J. Gould. He documents (among other things) how neoteny became popular as a proxy for human intellectual development in the 20s because it bolstered the case for White supremacy vis-à-vis Negroes. Once it was demonstrated that, according to this measure, "Orientals" were even more "evolved", proponents of Caucasian racial superiority naturally began shifting their gaze elsewhere.

This is the reason why I'm deeply sceptical of any proposed hypothesis of racial or cultural superiority. Somehow, no matter what the criteria, it always ends up "objectively" favouring the race and/or culture of the precisely those who are the ones espousing it.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Johanna » 2014-10-08, 18:12

Isn't there some (allel of a) gene that can give people from sub-Saharan Africa, or people who descend from there, a disease, but it also gives the carriers, but not the sufferers, protection from at least one form of malaria?

Sure, you wouldn't want your kid to be born with that disease, but you'd love the perks that comes with being a carrier.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-08, 19:52

You're thinking of the HBB gene which is implicated in sickle cell trait (where symptoms of this debilitating disease are not present) and sickle cell anaemia (where they are).
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Massimiliano B » 2014-10-09, 14:12

Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:The transition from the consideration of what is to the consideration of what ought to be is inherent to a world which is determined by the evolution.


(...) Why would that transition be inherent?(...)


I just meant that if evolution is the way by which we have been shaped, then it's likely that someone may think that evolution is still ongoing and try to operate for the realization of an ideal world that we may think of as the best one. There are for instance some fertilization techinques that are already used as means to build a perfect person (intelligent, tall, etc..).


Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:The evolution legitimises any kind of outcome of its process


I'm not sure what you mean with "legitimises". Evolution is the process. What comes to be through it is just what comes to be through it. It doesn't have a goal beyond a drive for alive things to procreate and stay alive. It can lead to shitty outcomes (shitty from the point of view of someone), like HIV or parasites or too narrow birth canals.


Granted that evolution is not a fact, but a theory - which I think is probably true - I allow that ethical sentiments may have evolved, but I don't think that this provides a basis for morality. A moral sentiment may have evolved, but also immoral sentiments did evolve. Thus, there is natural sanction both for moral and for immoral sentiments. A philanthropist follows his or her sentiments as much as a killer does. Why do we think that the former behaves well, while the latter behaves badly?


Varislintu wrote:Any kinds of values that occur in people are factual occurences, yes. But we must decide what to think about them and how to, well, value them.


My question is: the evolution of the cosmos, from the Big Bang (or whatever the beginning is) to the human being may tell us how good inclinations and bad inclinations have arisen, but it cannot tell us why we prefer what we call 'good' inclinations and hate what we call 'bad' inclinations.


Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:Therefore, I don't understand why one should consider the equality as the only and the highest value to be pursued.


It's not, objectively. This is where we hit upon that world-view rift again. You seek something I have even difficulty understanding as a theoretical concept. Objective values. When you say the above to me, I shrug and feel a bit baffled, and say "It's not the highest value, objectively. But it can be, for you, subjectively. And if it's not, others may try to convince you of it. You may be convinced. You may not. Many people never start valuing equality. This is a factual occurence. I don't really understand what you are asking." :P


You say that a value can be the highest value, for me, subjectively. This means that it happens that, without any reason, I think that a value is the highest for me. That is, I think by accident that that value is the highest for me. So, that I possess it is just a brute fact. I think that X is good, but I don't know why. I can only say that X is good because I think it is good - and I can think it is good because evolution has created me and my particular values. There is a natural sanction for any kind of system of values. That's why I say that evolution doesn't allow us to rationally defend our moral beliefs.


Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:The problem is that if a value has been selected by the natural selection, we could not rationally uphold a value.


On a side note: natural selection is not the only mechanism of evolution, and nowadays scientists actually think it may be overshadowed by other mechanisms like neutral drift.
(...)
So I'd like to read your sentence more like "If a value has appeared through the processes of evolution, we could not rationally uphold a value." And I don't understand what you mean by that. :hmm: As in, why not? And rationally how? As opposed to what?


I wrote "natural selection", but I wanted to write "evolution".

"Rational" is something that can be universally proved to be good or true - or universally wrong or bad.


Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:The strongest group of people would impose its worldview and all its values by forces.


Well, you are pretty much describing what is. That is how it works. Also if God is the source of the ultimate values, that is how it would still be.


Imposing a worldview depends you. No worldview have to be imposed to anyone.


Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:There are in effect some values that everyone shares: rape and paedophilia are abominable crimes and everyone agrees about that (even though someone considers the latter normal - what a sick world!).


I mentioned earlier that I struggle to understand what objective values mean on a theoretical level --- and here that bafflement comes up. Because what you say is not how it is. Absolutely not does everybody share those values. :?


Objective values are universally true values, even though just one person possess it. "Don't kill an innocent person" is one of them.

Varislintu wrote:Why is it more rational to hold a value if it isn't natural in origin, than if it is natural in origin? I'm intrigued especially since you use the word rational, and not for example important, or good. Arguing that they are more important or good or ultimate or something, if they come from outside of us (like from God), would seem easier.


I said before that all our inclinations may well derive from a process of evolution. What I don't understand is why we consider a philanthropist a good person, while an assassin is considered a bad person. You may say that the reason for it is that the survival of the human species is good. But what I just want to know is why do we consider the survival of the human species as a good thing. Why? It happens that we think it's a good thing. What if it happened that everyone thinks that it's not a good thing? Would we committ a mass suicide? Would it be the best thing to do, since everyone would subjectively think it's the best choice?
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby hreru » 2014-10-10, 10:31

I’m confused by these questions, too. Nobody can answer them to you using evolution theory, Massimiliano B. Evolution doesn’t deal with moral issues; ethics does, or religion. It’s not a theory that would explain everything; you won’t ask a mathematician how much esthetically pleasing his equations are, it's not his branch. Evolution says what mechanisms influence long-term changes in living organisms, not if the changes are right or wrong, only if they are advantageous under current conditions.

Are objective values universally true even if there's nobody who'd accept them? :wink:

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Massimiliano B » 2014-10-10, 13:27

That is what I want to say: there are some limits that the theory of evolution cannot overcome.


hreru wrote: Are objective values universally true even if there's nobody who'd accept them? :wink:


Yes, they are - if all the population is victim of an illusion. Isn't it possible?

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-10, 16:19

Massimiliano B wrote:That is what I want to say: there are some limits that the theory of evolution cannot overcome.

Just as there are limits that theism cannot overcome. What's your point exactly?

Evolution accounts for the observed evidence both in living organisms and the fossil record far better than any alternative theory. What does it matter that it has nothing to say about morality? Theism has a lot to say about morality, but is pretty damn useless when it comes to accounting for natural phenomena. "God made it that way," is not a useful answer, it's just a dismissive wave of the hand.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby hreru » 2014-10-10, 17:11

Massimiliano B wrote:That is what I want to say: there are some limits that the theory of evolution cannot overcome.

I agree,the theory does have its limits indeed but it's not that it can not overcome them, it doesn't try to, it doesn't want to. It deals with a specific issue which is biodiversity and its development throughout the history, and on that field it's pretty functional. You can't criticize it for lacking replies to questions it's never aimed to solve. :nope: Generally science solves how-questions, not why-questions; that doesn't mean the answers are incomplete, they're sufficient if they answer the question asked. You say: „evolution may tell us how good inclinations and bad inclinations have arisen“ – that's a misunderstanding, it can't, it only can say „these inclinations have arisen“. „Good“ and „bad“ is a cultural concept; true that values are based on how the mankind has been shaped and many are shared by different cultures but I wonder if any is universal. It's culture; or, if you will, it's cultural evolution that's in charge here, not biological one.

Massimiliano B wrote:
hreru wrote: Are objective values universally true even if there's nobody who'd accept them? :wink:


Yes, they are - if all the population is victim of an illusion. Isn't it possible?

You know, that's the approach barrier Varislintu mentioned: to me, how can a value even be a value if there's no one at all to support it?, there's no value as such, it's always up to who values.

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Varislintu » 2014-10-10, 17:37

hreru wrote:You know, that's the approach barrier Varislintu mentioned: to me, how can a value even be a value if there's no one at all to support it?, there's no value as such, it's always up to who values.


Yes, yes, exactly! (By the way, ohai Hreru! :wave: :))

One thing that sets apart subjective moralists and objective moralists is that subjectivists always place thoughts about values into the perspective of someone. What I mean is that a statement like "This is bad" is always accompanied in their minds by a "from person X's perspective". The person X may for example be themselves, or likeminded people, or different-minded people. Their understanding of the world makes them incorporate a perspective position into ideas about values. Objectivists approach it differently. They express ideas about values without really adding that piece of information, about who values. I presume this is because they think of values as located not in human perspectives, but in the foundations of the universe. But this often makes the questions unanswerable to subjectivists, for whom values don't exist without someone who holds them. Sometimes this difference in approach makes it hard for people from the two positions to discuss smoothly.

But what I just want to know is why do we consider the survival of the human species as a good thing. Why? It happens that we think it's a good thing.


Here we need that "by whom?" Not everybody thinks it's a good thing. So your question becomes, filtered through my subjectivist world-view, "Why do I think the survival of the human species is a good thing?" And that can't have an objective answer.

What if it happened that everyone thinks that it's not a good thing? Would we committ a mass suicide?


I guess so. If everybody suddenly thinks suicide is the right thing, I guess they would all commit suicide.

Would it be the best thing to do, since everyone would subjectively think it's the best choice?


The best thing according to whom? :) For those people? I guess so. From my perspective? No.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Massimiliano B » 2014-10-10, 17:52

So, why does a lot of people discuss about how rights are not respected in some countries? Why do you think that the law which forbids abortion in Ireland is wrong? The majority of the Irish people think it's a right law. Why does someone think that homosexual couples have the right to adopt children?
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Varislintu » 2014-10-10, 17:57

Massimiliano B wrote:So, why does a lot of people discuss about how rights are not respected in some countries? Why do you think that the law which forbid abortion in Ireland is wrong?


Because that's my understanding of ethics. I think I'm right. And I know that other people share those values, too. I want to make my (big, important) values dominant. Others want to make theirs dominant.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby linguoboy » 2014-10-10, 17:58

Massimiliano B wrote:So, why does a lot of people discuss about how rights are not respected in some countries? Why do you think that the law which forbids abortion in Ireland is wrong? The majority of the Irish people think it's a right law.

If you think that, then you haven't been following the debate. Less than 20% of the population thinks the law is okay as it stands and more than half the population are in favour of holding a referendum to repeal the constitutional ban on abortion (although such a referendum would still probably fail).

But what does any of this have to do with evolutionary theory?
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Massimiliano B » 2014-10-10, 18:07

Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:So, why does a lot of people discuss about how rights are not respected in some countries? Why do you think that the law which forbid abortion in Ireland is wrong?


Because that's my understanding of ethics. I think I'm right. And I know that other people share those values, too. I want to make my (big, important) values dominant. Others want to make theirs dominant.


Why do you want to make your big and important values dominant? Didn't you say that everyone has his/her value and that you respect them? Why do you want to universalise your position and impose it to all the population?

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Varislintu » 2014-10-10, 18:18

What is the pope doing when he comments on issues? What is missionary work? What was Catholicism-based social work in Ireland? All of that is attempts to make one's own values dominant.

That's humanity. We have to live on the same planet, even if we don't share values 100%. It's a constant values battle, although it takes place in slow-mo a lot of the time.

Massimiliano B wrote:Why do you want to make your big and important values dominant?


It probably varies a bit from value to value. But mostly it's in some way related to me thinking my values are the ones which bring on the least suffering and most amount of fairness. That's probably related to the specific way in which my brain handles empathy.

And I can be wrong, mind you, about the effects of my values. I need feedback from the society just as much as anyone else.

Massimiliano B wrote:Didn't you say that everyone has his/her value and that you respect them?


Respect them? I don't recall us talking about that here, at least. Depends on what you mean by "respect", but I don't respect all values. I have a hard time, for example, respecting the value system of those who find a fetus more important than me, a fully developed adult.

Massimiliano B wrote:Why do you want to universalise your position and impose it to all the population?


Because then society would be more palatable to me, and people who share my values.
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Massimiliano B
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Massimiliano B » 2014-10-10, 18:23

hreru wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:That is what I want to say: there are some limits that the theory of evolution cannot overcome.

I agree,the theory does have its limits indeed but it's not that it can not overcome them, it doesn't try to, it doesn't want to. It deals with a specific issue which is biodiversity and its development throughout the history, and on that field it's pretty functional. You can't criticize it for lacking replies to questions it's never aimed to solve.


There is still someone who thinks evolution can explain everything - even morality.


@Varilsintu
Pope and Catholicism think that there is a universal truth. You don't.

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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Varislintu » 2014-10-10, 18:31

Massimiliano B wrote:@Varilsintu
Pope and Catholicism think that there is a universal truth. You don't.


But I'm not commenting on why they are doing it. My point is that they are doing it. Just raising a child is doing it. Coming up with laws, in some cases, is about imposing values as well. It's what humans do, most of the time.

Nowadays, thankfully, there is also spreading in humanity, at least in the West, the value that one shouldn't be an asshole about imposing values. Like taking someone's children or land or beating them or murdering them or making them publically say things they don't believe (well, except the Pledge of Alliegance in schools in the USA :twisted: :P). This isn't a fully dominant value yet, but spreading because people who hold it are trying their best to convince others of it.
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Re: Evolution versus Creationism

Postby Massimiliano B » 2014-10-10, 18:49

Varislintu wrote:
Massimiliano B wrote:@Varilsintu
Pope and Catholicism think that there is a universal truth. You don't.


But I'm not commenting on why they are doing it. My point is that they are doing it.


They are doing it because they believe in a universal truth. So, why do you imitate them?

I want you to comment on why you are doing it. What's the reason? I know that the fact is that you do that like others do that. You are surely free to do that, obviously, without giving any reason for that.
Last edited by Massimiliano B on 2014-10-10, 18:59, edited 2 times in total.


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