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Although I agree more with Romney’s policies than Obama’s, I didn’t vote for him.  That’s partly because, thanks to our antiquated electoral college system, he shouldn’t need my vote to win Texas.  But that’s also because I haven’t seen anything to lead me to believe he actually leads with conviction, or that his policies are guided by any deep philosophical beliefs about what type of government action (or inaction) encourage the best behaviors in society.  In fact, I get the impression that Obama leads with more conviction and integrity than Romney, even though I think most of his conclusions about how to solve the nation’s problems are misguided.

And I think this is the problem with the Republican party these days.  It’s not that their policies are fundamentally inferior to the Democrats’.  I generally believe the opposite is true.  But the Republican party doesn’t know how to explain why they hold the positions they do, especially not in a way that appeals to anyone but the base.  To take a few examples…

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It occurred to me today that any naturalistic argument against supernatural beliefs is inherently flawed from an angle I hadn’t considered before.  I came to this conclusion while listening to some Christmas music and reflecting on the beauty of the seasons and how well they meet the human desire for variety and our appreciation for both cold and warm weather activities.  I was thinking about how awesome it is that God designed the earth’s precessional rotation in this way so that nature could undergo its seasonal changes and so humans could enjoy them.  But as I often do when considering supernatural ideas, I also thought of what other explanations there may be for this wonderful pairing of nature and human pleasure.  As I considered that natural selection could have tuned our minds to appreciate this cyclical pattern much as the plant and animal kingdoms do, I began thinking of other places this line of thinking can lead.

This led me to consider the idea that religion, too, is the product of natural selection.  This isn’t a novel idea, but I thought about what it means for naturalists who like to argue against religion on the grounds that it has caused a great deal of harm to humanity throughout history.  If there is nothing but the natural, as they purport to believe, then religion too must have been naturally selected.  But if religion is as harmful to humanity’s development and progress as naturalists claim, then why hasn’t it been naturally deselected by now?  Certain religions have fallen by the way-side, yes, but humanity’s collective choice to embrace the idea of a supernatural has hardly diminished throughout our short history.  In fact, it is alive and well now as ever, despite the best efforts of naturalists to fight it.

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Today as I was browsing Hulu I came across the following clip from Nightline.  It focuses on a central character in the growing movement of vocal atheists – one who’s not at all afraid to mock those of differing beliefs.

Now if I were an atheist I’d probably be fairly upset with this bit of reporting by Nightline, mainly because it does come across as biased toward religion by focusing on a character (Edwin Kagin) whose methods of anti-evangelism are hard to distinguish from the fire-and-brimstone religious evangelists he’s trying to mock.  It’s by no means a thorough or fair treatment of the deeper discussions which divide atheists from theists, and really just makes this group of atheists look silly.  Still, the interview with him brought up some important distinctions, among them the fact that a moral argument (which many modern atheists are trying to use against religion) is nonsense: there are “good” and “bad” believers and unbelievers.  The fact that atheists like Stalin do not represent the larger body of unbelievers is no different than the fact that medieval crusaders do not represent the example of Christ nor the theology of Christians.  And of course, an atheist making a moral argument is itself a bit ridiculous: their belief system denies moral absolutism.  To a true naturalist, right and wrong are at most subjective conventions, and at their core nothing more than natural selections toward iterative improvement, where the end justifies the means.

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A recent blog post of mine was the beginning of an online exchange between myself and a friend and coworker, Marcelo.  Marcelo and I disagree on the subject of God’s existence, he being a naturalist while I’m a Christian.  But we also enjoy a good, reasonable discussion, and thought that even if we don’t end up changing each other’s beliefs in the matter, it could be a mentally stimulating exercise that could broaden both of our perspectives.  If you’re interested in this topic, I encourage you to follow along on my site and on his.  The following is in response to his post linked below.

Response to “Religious Worldview: It Doesn’t Suit Me

Marcelo wrote: One set of rules tells me that questioning is bad and that I’ll go to hell if I even think about questioning it. The other one tells me that if I question the rules and find something interesting, I may even get a prize for it and perhaps be recognized in history as a smart person. It also doesn’t require me to “believe” anything, for everything is discoverable. If I want, I can try to prove it all by myself, and unless I make a mistake, or find an error in their rules, I’ll arrive to the same conclusions. Needless to say, I’d rather spend 60 years trying to understand the Big Bang than reading a story that must not be tampered with, or I’ll forever roast in a pit of lava while others rejoice.

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As an engineer, I work with a lot of smart people who are logically- and scientifically-minded.  I share this perspective, so it makes for a comfortable and enjoyable environment for me.  However, many at my workplace and in the larger scientific community hold to a naturalistic worldview akin to that espoused by its more vocal proselyte, Richard Dawkins.  While I do not intend in this post to present a complete rebuttal to this perspective, I do want to explain how I, a self-considered “reasonable” man, can be both a devout Christian and an honest lover of science.  I’ve already presented much of this in a video series that I’m almost done uploading (ran into a snag with Blip.tv and I’m migrating to Vimeo), so feel free to check it out.  But I thought it’d be valuable to give a more succinct summary in writing.  I considered writing an original post, but then read through an exchange I had with an atheist friend of mine a while back, and thought I’d just post it.  I’ve paraphrased his comments so as not to reprint them without permission.

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