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Sunday, 16 October 2011


Modern DNA research (as I've read, anyway) now suggests not a single Adam / Eve, but a population, perhaps of 1000 to 10,000 as the start of "us".

Ah, I take it you're not familiar with Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam, then? :)

And it's "us" only if you mean "without Africa", cause that's the supposed size of the group that left Africa. Even then, there's the research suggesting that the representatives of the group met Neanderthals and interbred with them.

Still, it's an impressively small number to have given the birth to all the millions and billions since then.

Perhaps, being a photographer, you need to see a photo of a god? And maybe to take it?

I was glad to see a reference to Ray Brown earlier in the comments, I heard him speak at Fordham in 1982. I thought Fr. Brown was an honest scholar and biblical exegete who stayed in full communion with Rome.

Surprised not to see any mention of Teilhard de Chardin's book, "The Phenomenon of Man", since he was a Catholic priest and renowned paleontologist who embraced evolution and saw it as the "way God did it." He saw the goal of evolution as a supreme consciousness, collective and voluntary in nature, as the "Omega point" of evolution.

I agree with the argument you make in the last two paragraphs of your post. I think God wouldn't say, "Abandon reason, all ye who enter here." Reason can be a component of faith, but religion is not an intellectual exercise. It is an empirical one. Jesus didn't want us to talk about washing each others feet, He wanted us to do it.

I don't have a problem with the contents of your post even though there is nothing new here. You're already preaching to the choir, or you're not and never will be, depending on each individual in your audience. So why bother? A consequence of your post is that you've polarized your readers, causing some to leave over something that has nothing to do with the best photography blog on the internet. I think it was ill considered.

What gets me about both creationists and Dawkins and his ilk is that they are so bloody certain.

Craig Cunningham:

"Regarding the negative feedback of some readers, I find it fascinating that some readers feel compelled to lecture you on what is or isn't appropriate for topics on YOUR BLOG."

Mike can post whatever he likes in his blog. But since it is published, to all public, on the internet, an international network, then the public are also free to criticise it. He's even provided a comments box!

Why I like this post is that opens up the topic for discussion. I love discussions. I love hearing diverse opinions. It gets me thinking. That is the beauty of this site. Sure, you will have the extremists at either end ("All religious people are irrational morons driving this world to destruction" or "Looks like its time to burn down TOP Headquarters") but in the middle there is a broad spectrum of open-minded people looking to give their 2 cents, and also willing to hear out others who may hold different views then their own. This may get people to re-thinking and refreshing their well worn opinions, which is always a good thing.
I am definitely a doubter by nature and this has led me to challenge the stale beliefs of my religious heritage and spend years reading and researching the varieties of opinions out there. I enjoyed what was said of photography recently, that you shouldn't judge your own photos based on the (varied) opinions of others. To do so is a sign of insecurity. With one's beliefs the same criteria applies: you will get nowhere if you depend on someone else to do the thinking for you. It is also a sign of insecurity when people feel the need to lash out against or mock or simply dismiss beliefs that don't jive with their own. It is hard to listen and learn if you have already been taught THE truth, and have no interest in refining your beliefs.

Take care

Part II:
One thing that I can't help but comment on is that Mike has actually stated "I'd recommend reading... at least the New Testament (although the Old is astounding and hence, really not to be missed)". What Christian could disapprove of that? (I am one and I sure don't)
I will finish with a quotation from an author(also mentioned above) that I certainly don't consider to be an irrational moron (and also I don't accept all he says as infallible). He is commenting on theological discussions, but I think it is sound advice for any debate:
"....Too much debate about scriptural authority has had the form of people hitting one another with locked suitcases. It is time to unpack our shorthand doctrines, to lay them out and inspect them. Long years in a suitcase may have made some of the contents go moldy. They will benefit from fresh air, and perhaps a hot iron."
-NT Wright

Kirk -- He'd use some gigapan variant, I expect. Sufficient resolution to note every sparrow that falls, and all that.

But just think... If I as a believer am wrong and you are right, then I have nothing to lose. But, if you are wrong and I am right, you lose you soul for eternity. Why not play it safe? :)

"But just think... If I as a believer am wrong and you are right, then I have nothing to lose. But, if you are wrong and I am right, you lose you soul for eternity. Why not play it safe? :)"

Ah, yes, but what if (as some claim) the Devil invented religion to cause mischief, and the real God is going to be cross with anyone who fell for the ruse?


"But just think... If I as a believer am wrong and you are right, then I have nothing to lose. But, if you are wrong and I am right, you lose you soul for eternity. Why not play it safe? :)"

But if you are wrong, Tim, then you have lived your only life under a veil of lies that promised hope and gave you nothing more.

Tim -- that's "Pascal's wager". And it only makes sense if all the gods are interchangeable. Since they're not (see the First Commandment), for any god I choose to believe in for self-protection, I'm risking being damned to eternal torment by every other god. This is clearly a very poor bet!

I didn't read all of the comments here, so I apologize if this has been said before.

As a believer, I agree with you. Evolution and God are not incompatible. The Bible talks about God giving His "breath" to man. Is this why we are a unique species walking the earth, discussing, and doubting, God? I believe so. And doubters have many kindred spirits on the Bible. Including, dare I say, Christ on the cross as he cried "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

In any event, well said.

"But if you are wrong, Tim, then you have lived your only life under a veil of lies that promised hope and gave you nothing more."

I don't want to put words in Tim's mouth so I am speaking for myself here. To say that a religion offers "promised hope and nothing more" presupposes that all the benefits are to come later or after death, and ignores that there may be benefits to the believer here and now. I do experience benefits in this life that are real (to me). One could claim that this is merely a placebo effect (and that is a valid argument), but a placebo effect is an effect nonetheless. If I am truly misguided and/or delusional then is it all for naught? I would say no, for I see how I am a better father/husband and more at peace when I follow my convictions. Perhaps I also live under "veil of lies", but to preclude that there is "nothing more" is, in my experience, incorrect.
For the time being, ALL that has been said on this matter is just speculation. The "veil of lies" potentially applies equally to any or all belief systems, so in that sense we are all in the same boat. There is no irrefutable proof to ease our angst.


Therein lies the rub for me, and I'm completely non-religious. I don't believe a whiff of any theology...and yet I do believe that belief in religion makes people happier.

If it didn't also intermittently but inevitably make some of them murderous as well, I think I'd get behind religion just for its psychological utilitarianism....


I appreciate your response. I can easily understand why people want nothing to do with religion. History is littered with the atrocities committed by the faithful. I guess I have tried to look past (but not ignore) humanity's ever flawed response to see if there is actually something there, something that has been perverted by mankind (often to the point where the original revelation is distorted beyond recognition).
As of late I have become very pragamtic in my approach to religion. It is either real or BS. Either there is a god who can be known or there isn't. If there is a god who hears my prayers and truly cares for humanity and desires a relationship, then there will be a response in some way, shape or form. If there is no god then there will be no response of any kind. If there is a god but this god is cold, cruel and/or unresponsive then I want nothing to do with him/her anyway.
There is either something there worth knowing or there isn't.

'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'


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