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13 Oct 2010 23:20 | misc religion

Readers of my local newspaper debate whether faith or science provides a better foundation for understanding how the world works.

This is the reader feedback section of The Advertiser for Wednesday, October 13, 2010 - South Australia. These comments are taken from page 18.


My belief is enough

I WRITE in regard to Tory Shepherd's article (The Advertiser, yesterday). I read her articles often, not out of finding agreement with what she says, but purely to see what she will say next.
    I believe in God. This, by her standards (and those of many others), makes me ignorant.
    I know I am not the most intelligent person, but I know what I know.
    If this makes me ignorant, let it be known that I am peacefully and blissfully so.
    I am convinced of what I believe in to be true, just as Ms Shepherd is convinced of what she believes in to be true. She has faith as I have faith, the only differences being, I have faith in God, she holds faith in man and mankind's achievements.
    I find my faith to be the assurance of things I hope for, the evidence and conviction of the things I cannot see. My faith is enough for me, but at the same time, I find in science, not contradictions to my faith, but instead things that complement it.
    I know my world view is fading fast in this day and age, but I think true believers must get involved in discussing these things, otherwise we are only left with people who think like Ms Shepherd does: That science is the judge of all truth claims, and then our faith is cast aside as superstition, and God himself is omitted from the discussion.
    We need open discussion on this, otherwise we are left only with loud voices and arguments instead of conversations.
    We do need to examine the relationship between science and faith, but in a way that builds and benefits all - not just those with biases, or pre-determined outcomes.
    Yes, I have a bias, but at least I admit what it is and I can come to a point of listening to another person's opinion.
    We need to put God back into the conversation. I don't expect Ms Shepherd to change her mind or opinions, but I do expect her to consider her own faith that she defends so strongly and allow room to consider God in her thought process.
    At least consider Him. I will pray that she does so.

LUKE J. WATTS, Nairne.

Divining philosophy

REGARDING Ian Olver's study of intercessory prayer (The Advertiser, yesterday) it seems apt to paraphrase the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus (changing "evil" to "disease"): Is God willing to prevent disease, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh disease?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

RUBY LENNOX, Blackwood.

A bet each way

TORY Shepherd claims "Belief without proof is one thing but science is the only way to understand how the world works".
    She refers to a study which found cancer patients who were prayed for had a better quality of life and emotional wellbeing.
    In religious circles when it is claimed a prayer has yielded sensational results, it is sometimes called a miracle.
    Less sensational or negative outcomes, on the other hand, are simply regarded as God's will. In gambling circles, this would be called "having a bet each way".

NEIL LONGBOTTOM, Minlaton.

Keep the faith

WHILE scratching my head on how to answer Tory Shepherd, I glanced across at Insight section of Marty Smith's daily column and read: "Truth isn't altered by how many believe it". Or in Tory's article, how many do not.
    Science does not prove that God did not create but how he did. But in our limited knowledge of how he did, we can find we have huge gaps in our knowledge and always will on this Earth.
    When it comes to faith, what in all creation are the atheists upset about when to them there is no God?
    So why do atheists condemn believers if they think there is nothing there? Keep praying, fellow Christians.

B. V. HAMILTON, Bordertown.

Power of prayer

PRAYING for arch-atheist C. Hitchens, who wrote God is not Great, may help him, according to a study (The Advertiser, yesterday).
    But another study in the US showed quite the opposite, and if he knew he was being prayed for, he would have 14 per cent greater chance of complications.
    Maybe his affliction is some form of divine retribution and prayers challenge the will of God.

STUART JARDINE, West Hindmarsh.

Seeking a miracle

TORY Shepherd, why don't you write something useful on health, such as fluoride in our water supply, instead of atheist codswallop? Now that would be a miracle.

PHYLLIS RILEY, Wynn Vale.

A free gift

TO Tory Shepherd, belief or faith in Jesus is a free gift. Some will accept it, some will not. If science is the only way to understand how the world works, why does it have to change all the time to make it fit?
    Even the chemicals used in medicine are created by God.

J. LEHMANN, Modbury.

Shift the focus

PLEASE, please, no more rampant free advertising for the Roman Catholic Church.
    Who cares about canonisation, sainthoods, et al, when massive child abuse has still not been properly addressed.

ELDERT HOEBEE, Torrens Park.

The previous message from Eldert Hoebee referred to Mary MacKillop, Australia's first canonised saint.

Children need God

CHRIS Judd, 2010 Brownlow Medal winner, after receiving the award, remarked that football should show "the type of person you and your teammates are".
    Good thinking.
    Are we Australians letting sport destroy our children? In every public park, every Sunday morning, children gather for hours.
    For what? To hit balls, kick balls, run …
    Do their parents really want them growing up little atheistic robots? Children need a reason to exist. Nobody is telling them one - no, not even on Sundays.
    Children need to know about God: that he exists, that he loves us, that he wants us to live in obedience to him here on Earth, and finally to live with him and enjoy him forever in heaven.
    Children need the sacraments of the church to empower them to resist the culture of emptiness being constantly rammed down their throats.

(Dr) ARNOLD JAGO, Mildura.

Missing Muslim

A MEMBER of the Islamic movement, the Saviours of Mankind, is reported missing in Egypt (The Advertiser, 2010-10-08).
    Mr Safaa Al Awadi, visiting the North African nation to take part in televised religious debates, may have upset clerics and the Egyptian Government, resulting in him being accused of being a terrorist and spreading a false religion.
    He has not been heard of since Semptember 27. Presumably Mr Al Awadi was aware of the perils of speaking out on controversial religious topics in Muslim countries.
    It is to be hoped that his family and friends, together with Centrelink, will care and provide for his wife and seven children until his safe return to his Australian home.

JOHN STEVENS, Hyde Park.

Centrelink is the Australian Government's human services division, disbursing social security payments to Australians that need some help with their income.

What do you think?

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  • Do you agree or disagree with any of the opinions posted above?
  • Does science support or dismiss belief in God?

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05 Nov 2012 05:30

When it comes to faith, what in all creation are the atheists upset about when to them there is no God?

In the U.S, there are some very religious leaders that are pushing for a theocratic nation. As a matter of fact the Democratic party recently voted themselves in as a theocratic party. Additionally there are some leaders that want to revoke atheists fo their "citizenship" and bar them from marriage. Then there are is the Muslim Brotherhood that openly declares that their god wants them to kill all the infidels. So yes, there are quite a few atheists upset over the notion that they are second hand citizens that don't deserve the same liberties as everyone else and should be killed. Aside from that, the pursuit of truth also matters to a lot of people.

Somehow, the question always comes down to whether one believes in faith or science. The real question comes down to faith and faith: Faith in God, or faith in Evolution. ~ Timothy Foster 14 Oct 2010, 19:50

If that is the direction the debate takes then someone has decayed it to that point because as an atheist I can easily say that my atheism does not depend on evolution or the big bang, or any other scientific theory put forward. And while there may be individual atheists that believe in those theories, atheism has has no such tenets or requirements regarding them.

There are difficulties with the theory of evolution; it is still a theory and not a law. ~Timothy Foster

In the scientific food chain, and in terms of explaining how things work, there is nothing higher than a theory. A scientific law is a description of an observed phenomenon. Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion are a good example. Those laws describe the motions of planets. But they do not explain why they are that way. That's where the theory of relativity comes in. The same is true for evolution, we know factually that there is diversity of life and the theory of evolution explains why. This 10 minute video explains why the theory of evolution is so well accepted.


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07 Nov 2012 00:18

Whane The Whip: If that is the direction the debate takes then someone has decayed it to that point because as an atheist I can easily say that my atheism does not depend on evolution or the big bang, or any other scientific theory put forward. And while there may be individual atheists that believe in those theories, atheism has has no such tenets or requirements regarding them.

Do you agree that atheism also requires faith? i.e. faith in your own beliefs being correct?

Quite often faith is misunderstood as being an aspect only held by people that follow a specific religion.

Technically atheism is also a religion. One that requires faith in the fact that there is no God (as opposed to faith in the existence of a god(s)).

Whane The Whip: In the scientific food chain, and in terms of explaining how things work, there is nothing higher than a theory. A scientific law is a description of an observed phenomenon.

Agreed. There are many scientific theories out there, for many different circumstances. Some have greater weight and acceptance than others.

Even things that we take for fact today could potentially be unravelled in the future when something else is discovered that challenges that theory (or at least, requires us to change its rules slightly).

Imagine eventually developing warp-style spaceflight, and being able to cover great distances very quickly. The human race may discover things that challenge both existing scientific and existing religious theories/beliefs.


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09 Nov 2012 18:41

Do you agree that atheism also requires faith? i.e. faith in your own beliefs being correct? ~ leiger

No. Atheism is not a belief system, atheism does not say "I believe I'm correct". It is a response to the claim that there is a god, the response is: "Prove it" and until then I will adopt the default position; the same position anyone adopts before proof is presented.

Technically atheism is also a religion. One that requires faith in the fact that there is no God (as opposed to faith in the existence of a god(s)). ~ leiger

Saying atheism is a religion is like saying off is a television station. Not believing in something does not require faith and non-belief is not a religion. If that were true then every non-belief system would be by definition, a religion. Atheism makes no claims, it is not a "belief" and it is not a world view.


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10 Nov 2012 05:31

No. Atheism is not a belief system, atheism does not say "I believe I'm correct". It is a response to the claim that there is a god, the response is: "Prove it" and until then I will adopt the default position; the same position anyone adopts before proof is presented.

The default position would be 'agnositic' - the point at which you either haven't made up your mind, don't care, or don't know.

People make a choice to declare themselves as theistic or atheistic.


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10 Nov 2012 20:09

The default position would be 'agnositic' ~ leiger

It could be argued that I'm an agnostic atheist, though I'm not brave enough to make the claim that something is unknowable. I don't believe because there is no proof (atheism) and I see no reason to justify the belief in a god (agnosticism) but I don't agree with the claim that we can't know (an agnostic view).


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