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Dear Fundamentalist Christian

July 2011
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Dear Fundamentalist Christian,

There is at least one Christian position which I respect, but yours does not meet this standard. Let me try to outline it so that you can at least be aware of it when you form your arguments among secularists and atheists.

The proposition, that God exists, cannot be disproven. But it has not been proven, either. Fully embrace this claim, and call your position faith.

But faith can have no authority, except insofar as the faithful would consent to a leader or a doctrine.

When in a debate with a secularist, say something like, “I don’t know if there is a God, but I live my life as if there were. I love the idea of God, and this is why.”

Understanding that you can provide no evidence, but only an account of what it is like to live according to the idea which you love, you would do well to acknowledge that atheists, agnostics, and secularists love ideas, too; and that they may have profound reasons for why they believe as they do.

But not all ideas are equal. We–you and I, however much we disagree–must acknowledge that ideas which have predictive power are greater than ideas which have less or no predictive power.

Astrology claims to have predictive power, but the evidence that astrology’s predictive power is at all accurate is weak at best.

But Ptolemaic Astronomy has great predictive power, which works even today. We can sail ships and get home following Ptolemy. Indeed, entire societies could be structured around Ptolemaic Astronomy. But the range of prediction is radically limited, especially with respect to the kind of predictions we need today.

The Copernican Astronomy does much better; and Newton brought that revolution to a powerful fruition, to be usurped by Einstein’s theory. The accuracy of Einstein’s theory is far greater than what came before; but yet it depends on all that came before–even, remotely, astrology–for, all theory begins with a question.

Until Darwin came along, there were a great many things that we could not predict, such as the proposition that, introducing small doses of certain harmful genetic strains into a system can bring about the conditions of immunity–ie, immunization.

Darwin’s theory is as firmly established as the Copernican hypothesis. Granted, there are anomalies; and granted, science may come up with (and hopefully will come up with) a greater theory which usurps (yet depends upon) what Darwin taught us–which is a lot.

I don’t think your criticism of Darwin’s theory is honest. You attack it because of your commitment to a form of Christianity. Therefore, I cannot take either your arguments or you seriously. It is as if you argue for Ptolemaic Astronomy because you prefer Dante’s vision, and the rights of monarchs.

If we accept the kinds of reasons which you present, we risk losing all of the predictive power we have gained. It may be the case that we will find a better system with greater predictive power, but it will not put the Earth back in the center; and it will not negate the proposition that one species evolves into another by natural selection.

When I set out to understand what is true, I was open to Christianity, and even loved Jesus. I was baptized as an infant. I have not had my boy baptized. But I was not so committed to my Christianity as to be stultified by it. Had I been provided with good arguments and presentations, I would have gone that way. But that was not the case.

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