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Monday, 3 January 2011

In Defence of A Christian Nation

By Chola Mukanga

The Preamble of the draft Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill[i] states:
We, the People of Zambia
ACKNOWLEDGE the supremacy of God Almighty;
DECLARE the Republic a Christian nation, while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person’s freedom of conscience or religion;
A number of well meaning commentators have criticised this part of the Preamble and pushed for two alternative options: a) delete the wording altogether, or b) explicitly state that Zambia is a “secular State” in line with the Mung’omba Draft Constitution[ii] . Let me say early on that I reject these alternatives as intellectually flawed. Many proponents of such a position throw one liners without much coherent explanation of their reasoning. This is not good enough when a lot is at stake for our country. If we are to move Zambia positively forward we must seek a robust intellectual position for our assertions not mere hearsay or empty punch lines.
I hold that we should maintain the current wording in the draft Bill based on four basic propositions.
Proposition 1: Not to declare Zambia a Christian nation is to declare Zambia a non-Christian nation (or secular). The central issue is not whether we should have a declaration or not, but whether we should be explicit in acknowledging what we believe. To many Christians not standing up openly for something is the same as being complicit. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act". Whether we write “non-secular” or simply remove the current wording is of little relevance. What is clear is that without a positive affirmation of Zambia as a Christian nation, we are affirming the contrary, especially given preceding debate.
Proposition 2: Secularism is not neutral. There are some that believe that declaring Zambia a secular state is a “neutral” proposition. This is an error in thought process. To demonstrate why we must first take a step back and understand what secularism is.
A secular state is a society that dispenses with religion and the supernatural. It can be seen either in a descriptive sense or a militant world view.
As a descriptive term, it portrays a society whose focus is this world rather than other-worldly. Values, meanings, concerns, morals and all aspects of community life are seen in terms of the material world as understood by contemporary science. Nothing is based on belief in God or any life other than this one.  Most western nations are said to be secular in this sense, even though the large majority of their populations would claim to have religious beliefs. In France, for example, whose constitution is secular, over 80% of the population claim to be religious, but the impact of their beliefs on French life as a whole is very small.
Seen as a militant world-view, a secular state is a state that is geared towards destroying the influence of religion in all areas of public life. Highly militant secular states tend to be dominated by atheistic thinkers who clearly have a vision of a religion free society, and work towards abolishing religion forcibly. Militant secular states would accept that religion can be a private belief and way of life. What they cannot accept is that it should have any impact on society, politics, moral, education or any other aspects of public life. All should be based on the secular world view rather than any religious world view. The rationale given for this approach is that secularism is based on reason and science while religious world view is based on ignorance on ignorance and superstition. Building society on reason and science, it is argued, will make society more secure, happy, peaceful, strong or in other words more “developed”. This is contrasted to societies built on religious beliefs, which are necessary superstitious intolerant and divisive – so they allege.
Whichever brand of secularism one would have Zambia hold, it is clear that a secular position is not a “neutral” position. To say you believe in a secular state with secular values and identity is simply to acknowledge that you have a way of life that you follow – and therefore in its own way, a form of religious worship. By declaring itself a secular state, Zambia would therefore be making a positive assertion about its beliefs and identity, not a neutral one. We must acknowledge that both secular and Christian declarations are non-neutral propositions. It is also worth pointing out the blindingly obvious – no serious philosopher believes in inherent “neutrality”. There’s nothing like a neutral view of life or any position. All reasoning is inherently non-neutral because it is circular. We all have “priors” which affects how we draw logical deductions and those priors are non-neutral because they are not supported by external validation.
Proposition 3: Zambia’s “mode” or “mean” identity is distinctly Christian. That is not to say every Zambian is a Christian or indeed there’s agreement what the term “Christian” means to each Zambian, but it is undeniable that the majority of Zambians profess the Christian faith in one way or another. If that is true, then we must also accept that adopting a secular identity is a direct denial of who we are as a people.
Proposition 4: Identity and culture is crucial for development. If we accept that Zambia’s identity is profoundly Christian in outlook, the logical question is, does it matter for development? Unquestionably, yes! There are those that think that development is merely about economic growth and consumerism. The other view is that development is about the freedom to live your way of life to its full potential. Government policy should focus on increasing these „freedoms‟ be they economic, social or political. Culture, religious and traditions define who we are as a people and therefore shape the importance we place on certain “freedoms”.
To illustrate: If you asked me, which is better - a society full of high economic growth, but with no moral basis or a highly moralised society with mediocre growth? My answer to that question will depend on what “freedoms” I value most. Is it freedom to live in a society where everyone can be trusted and talks to their neighbour, or a society in which I can drive any car I want? These are the questions that are intrinsically personal, but they demonstrate why identity and culture are vital to meeting people’s aspirations for development. This is why development needs to be a local concept, because different local societies value different freedoms. It is also the reason why we must not abandon who we are in the quest for economic numbers and acceptance from secular states and institutions that run the world system. I shall not be labour this except to note that Sen and others have gone a long way to show us this obvious proposition and it demands no further text.
In light of this, it therefore seems right to me that the Preamble is maintained. What is needed is that we ensure that State and religion are kept separate and the religious beliefs of non-Christians are preserved. I believe the current wording fulfils these goals. There’s no reason why Zambia cannot continue to acknowledge her cultural and religious identity, without necessary absolving religion within state functions.
I end by noting the parallel importance of Article 144 of Part VII:
The State shall direct the policies and laws towards securing and promoting Christian values, beliefs, ethics and morals consistent with this Constitution, and shall prohibit any religious practices that de-humanise or are injurious to the physical and mental well-being of a human being.
Retaining this clause is vitally important as it goes some way to answering the question raised by opponents of the Preamble. Namely, how can we continue to claim to be a nation when we pursue policies that contradict these values? Granted, critics have failed to grasp that Christian values, beliefs and morals though absolute are dynamic and throughout history have benefited from debate as scientific and theological consensus is brought to bear. In short, holding Christian values does not mean we will have a common view on the death penalty, but it does anchor our world view. This is important, as James Hunter writes in his recent book, To Change The World[iii], “law infers a moral judgement. Policy implies a world-view”. It is simply intellectual folly to assume that we can have a Constitution devoid of any world view. The question for our people is not whether the draft constitution Bill has a worldview but whose worldview are we espousing? I believe the NCC was right to make it clear that Zambia’s world view in 2011 is of a Judeo-Christian nature as balanced with other aspects of our culture. May be this may change in 2100, but for now it is right and proper.


Chola Mukanga is an economist and founder of the Zambian Economist which provides independent economic perspectives on Zambia's progress towards meaningful development for her people

Copyright: Zambian Economist, 2013

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91 comments:

  1. reject that which keeps you down, religion included. declaring a religious state favoring one religion in particular is divisive from the very inception. keep religion in the home and out of politics - it ruins everything.

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  2. HIV 14.3%
    rural poor - 85%
    what education?
    corruption
    roads, what roads?
    what has jesus done for Zambia? the only ones better off thanks to jesus are the money-grubbing pastors and preachers.
    why do Zambians keep clinging to this white man's distortion?
    time to stand up! Stop being afraid of the dark and take responsibility for your own destiny.

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    Replies
    1. Life without Jesus is like lungs without air. Madam/sir, don't get carried away by the doctrines of science and fake theories of evolution. Jesus is real and he is coming soon. VIVA JESUS, ZAMBIA FOR JESUS.

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  3. The UK has been an increasingly secular society since the late 1950's, notably so in the Swinging 60's of 'Permissive Britain'. Unfortunately I believe/ feel according to experience that the losses have been more than the gains.

    I was delighted to visit Zambia and find no access to pornography on shelves in the local newsagent, to not have to be bombarded with sexually explicit imagery on TV and to feel that a degree of morality still mattered and the excesses that we can participate in unchallenged in the UK like drunkenness, overt promiscuity etc etc were things that would be frowned upon in Zambia.

    The UK has many things to commend it and I love my country and her people but I know that I would prefer my grandchildren to grow up somewhere like Zambia where they will learn respect, the importance of elders and the community with an expectation of decent behaviour.

    It is increasingly hard to instil values of those kind in young people in the UK, a country which is fairly dysfunctional with many social problems including the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe - my parent's generation opened the flood-gates and now we are reaping what they sowed.

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  4. you have to ask however what goes on behind closed doors in Zambia - there is often a large disconnect between what is preached in public, and what actually happens. The amount of unmarried young women in Zambia who have children from 'incidents' in their youth is shocking. The UK may have terrible social problems, but so does Zambia. The difference is the UK is less hypocritical about these problems ( it admits them openly ) and has the wealth and relatively honest government with which to address them.

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  5. Agreed, I am under no illusion about Zambia as I saw both sides of the coin while I was therand have experience alongside NGOs, church groups and Zambian people at all levels of society - but there are certain behavioural expectations and standards in Zambia still being maintained, albeit generally or perhaps nominally, that we lost in the UK decades ago and we now suffer as a society as a result of this loss.

    Once standards are lowered and boundaries removed it is very hard to reinstate them, even if they prove to foster or engender irresponsibility etc over the long-term.

    A lot of the UK problems can be argued to be about too much 'relative wealth', too many freedoms and too little responsibility-taking - I would suggest that we have got ourselves into a kind of moral malaise that will take more than government activity and pronouncements to address or resolve.

    However I agree that admitting them to ourselves as a nation, as with any problem, is that first part of solving them.

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  6. The question now becomes ; how do you get this moral fibre back ? I would argue that unfortunately religion is now neither capable of, or appropriate for doing so. Because religion has so often been on the wrong side of science, and because of the hypocrisy of many of its disciples, it is now a discredited value system. It is also a value system that tends to lead to, and justify conflict.
    Understanding ourselves, perhaps through the science of psychology, will perhaps be a more useful tool. For instance, one cultural problem now in the UK is the refusal to accept that effort and practice are necessary for success. Scientific evidence that redresses this and is applied through the educational system and parenting advice may do more to rectify the problem than trying to convince people to go back to church.

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  7. The question must begin with WHY.

    Without establishing the PURPOSE and REASON for a moral foundation, the HOW is meaningless.

    What is the point of a gigant moral quest that is not philosophically properly grounded?

    As Wolterstorff has demonstrated, without a theistic framework even the very notion of justice meaningless. For on what basis can anyone be just without an external moral law giver?

    The grounding must precede the solution. 

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  8. Reason can create a morality. The golden rule makes perfect logical sense even from a self interested view. There is no need to invent a God, and particularly a thought system that encourages irrationality and clashes with other viewpoints.

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  9. Forgive me, I don't think your answer is good enough.

    This website does NOT encourage just throwing ideas without proper explanation.

    Can you please address the SUBSTANCE of the points raised above? 

    1. How is it logically possible to have OBJECTIVE moral values across society that are internally generated among moral agents?

    2. On account of (1), on what moral basis do you establish the existence of NATURAL justice ?

    Our nation will never develop until we start thinking objectively and deeply about issues.

    I say this not to cause offence. There are other Zambian websites for people who aren't prepared to think through complex issues. This one isn't.

    I trust you understand.

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  10. I think religion is the last place to look if you want objective and logical thinking.
    The Golden Rule is simply ' Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. It is a common thread amongst most religions, and could be considered the most important and logical basis of morality. Internal agents can agree on rules like this once dogma has been removed, and the motivation to do things in the belief of a 'second life' has been removed. ( doing things to get into heaven, as opposed to because they are truly correct ). Even if, as Hume asserted, morality is merely subjective opinion and nothing is 'wrong', there are still practical reasons for morals based on empathy and the Golden Rule.
    Kant gave a similar analogy to traffic lights ; you don't like waiting at red lights, but you accept that there are practical and logical rules that need to be followed so that people can live with each other ; you wait on red, and sometimes so do other people so society can function.
    You behave according to how you would like to be treated so that others will be more likely to treat you the same way. Natural justice and objective moral values are thus established out of the recognition by rational beings that following the Golden Rule is in your own interest.
    Imposing an outdated value system on people can be hardly be considered 'objective'.
    I'm afraid your tone is coming off a little like someone who has been raised a Christian and cannot stand to have someone criticize religion.

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  11. Anonymous,

    I repeat :

    How do you get OBJECTIVE moral values that vary with time and place ? Also how do you get INHERENT human rights that underpin NATURAL justice through consensus?

    I think I know the problem.
    You see seem to be using a different meaning of words. So let's try this - please define for me your PHILOSOPHICAL understanding of the following words :

    1. OBJECTIVE
    2. MORALITY
    3. VALUES
    4. INHERENT
    5. RIGHTS
    6. NATURAL
    7. JUSTICE

    Once you have done that we can have a conversation. Otherwise we may be in danger of wasting each other's time. It appears to me that we may have a different understanding of those six words.

    My tone is someone who has limited time on his hands. This conversation is actually off topic but I am keen to help you communicate in ways that help all of us learn from each other.

    My questions are not religious. They are merely logical.

    Please define those words then I will tell you whether they are consistent. Until we speak with the SAME meaning of wiords - its pointless.

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  12. You're right. The key misunderstanding here is probably the semantics over the word 'objective'. By objective, you probably mean fixed forever ; eg. Leviticus exhorting us to stone people who plant different crops next to each other is a moral rule that should be followed for all eternity.
    I mean by objective ; a relevant, thought out and agreed upon moral rule that has been proven to be beneficial to society as a whole, and is free of bias that is culturally rooted in religion, and in fact emphasizes the common ground of religions. Religions are a useful starting point for ethics, but cannot be the end. They are dangerously prone to extremism, divisiness, and irrationalism e.g denying evolution or that the Earth is round, and executing transgressors.
    A useful introduction to logical and humanist ethics might be Tremblay's ' The Code for Global Ethics'.
    http://www.amazon.ca/Code-Global-Ethics-Humanist-Civilization/dp/1426913591

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  13. But you have not defined the other six?

    I cannot give you an answer until I understand your level of understanding of these issues.

    I know what you define as 'objective'. I will explain to you why that definition does not provide a foundation for morality. But before I do - please define the other six.

    You don't have try to be disparaging to religion. It makes you sound angry. I know that is not your intention. Let us have a thoughtful exchange.

    I await your six.

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  14. Who says evolution is a science? Evolution is not a science and doesn't even qualify to be classified as a scientific theory. Allow me to clarify:

    According to die hard evolutionist - Mark Isaak,

    "A theory is a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena."

    We know that a phenomenon is observed behavior of matter or energy. But what class of phenomena is evolution aimed at explaining? Well you might say speciation. If indeed since the time of the ancient Greek up to date, nowhere has speciation been observed in nature then it means that there is no observable phenomenon. If there is no observable phenomena, then it follows that there must be no theory. A scientific theory only is demanded and indeed arises to explain for that which is observed. What can you explain for that which does not exist? So you see that evolution is not a scientific theory. It's a religion of speculation and conjecture accounting for that which is not observed. It aims at nothing and achieves nothing other than corrupt the morals of society. True science betters living standards of people. Tell me, has evolution benefited humanity in anyway? Absolutely nothing!!!

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  15. microevolution is observable in our own lifetime, hence the classic example of the moths changing color in industrial england. Macroevolution, by definition cannot be observed in our own lifetimes unless perhaps applied to very short lived organisms. To say that it it has not benefited us is ridiculous. The advances in medicine ( particularly with the use of bacteria ) have been fantastic. The treatment of HIV ( an epidemic in Africa which the church has greatly exacerbated through its doubt of condoms and hypocritical teachings ) will advance through the study of how the virus mutates and evolves ( as will TB and other infectious diseases). If you really feel this way about evolution and other cornerstones of science, then go and live in a cave somewhere and stop using all technology.
    ' Evolution is a theory, just like gravity'

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  16. or rather ' Evolution is just a theory . like gravity '

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  17. ANONYMOUS: “microevolution is observable in our own lifetime, hence the classic example of the moths changing color in industrial england.”

    POTPHER: Natural selection is the differential reproductive success of varieties in a population: What Darwinists mean, I think, in so far as they mean anything, is that what, it is important because of its consequences for the differential survival of genes in gene pools. It depletes varieties in a gene pool. It does not yield species. A yellow pig can be selected while a blue one becomes less frequent in a population but ultimately the yellow pig is still a pig. Actually what you sited is just a colour example in nature: It is infact natural selection's most famous example, the peppered moth, which has turned out to be based on bad science. The "evolution" of the peppered moth, Biston betularia, was preached that a new species has evolved from light coloured moths into dark-coloured moths.

    The colour change that peppered moths underwent during the 1800s is an example of natural selection at work. Before the Industrial Revolution took place in Britain in the late 1700s, light-coloured peppered moths that blended with the lichen-covered bark of trees were far more prevalent than dark-coloured peppered moths. However, pollution from the Industrial Revolution killed the lichen on trees, leaving their dark bark exposed, and the contrasting light-coloured moths became easy prey for birds. The dark peppered moths, easily camouflaged on the dark bark, soon became far more common than the lighter varieties. Now that pollution is less, the light-coloured peppered moths are increasing again. There was no speciation. This study simply shows microevolution, or change within a kind, not a new kind coming into existence. It boils down to: when the trees are white, there are more white moths - conversely, when the trees are dark, such as from pollution, more of the dark moths survive to pass this trait along. The moths are still moths. They don't become a whole new creature.

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  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  19. ANONYMOUS: “Macroevolution, by definition cannot be observed in our own lifetimes unless perhaps applied to very short lived organisms. “

    POTPHER: If it cant be observed then its not a phenomena and there is no need to derive a scientific theory. If it is observed, then please give examples.

    ANONYMOUS: “To say that it it has not benefited us is ridiculous. The advances in medicine ( particularly with the use of bacteria ) have been fantastic.”

    POTPHER: There is no macroevolution but microevolution of bacteria. It’s just as usual that from a variety of bacteria, some have genes to survive in a changed environment. That’s simple natural selection as in peppered moths. Even bacteria that is believed to have evolved to start decomposition of oil, it is a small number of special bacteria that existed where there was no oil but multiplied as it thrived in oil while the ordinary bacteria gets extinct in that population.

    ANONYMOUS: “ The treatment of HIV ( an epidemic in Africa which the church has greatly exacerbated through its doubt of condoms and hypocritical teachings ) will advance through the study of how the virus mutates and evolves ( as will TB and other infectious diseases). If you really feel this way about evolution and other cornerstones of science, then go and live in a cave somewhere and stop using all technology.”

    POTPHER: That’s why up to now there is uncertainty in the scientific world as to classify viruses as living things or not. So if I were you, I wouldn’t try to convince anyone about macroevolution on the basis of a mutating complex organic molecule.

    ANONYMOUS: “Evolution is a theory, just like gravity”

    POTPHER: In your dreams indeed it is so. But gravity is observed to pull things down. Macroevolution has never been observed. LOL

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  20. ANONYMOUS: “Macroevolution, by definition cannot be observed in our own lifetimes unless perhaps applied to very short lived organisms. “

    POTPHER: If it cant be observed then its not a phenomena and there is no need to derive a scientific theory. If it is observed, then please give examples.

    ANONYMOUS: “To say that it it has not benefited us is ridiculous. The advances in medicine ( particularly with the use of bacteria ) have been fantastic.”

    POTPHER: There is no macroevolution but microevolution of bacteria. It’s just as usual that from a variety of bacteria, some have genes to survive in a changed environment. That’s simple natural selection as in peppered moths. Even bacteria that is believed to have evolved to start decomposition of oil, it is a small number of special bacteria that existed where there was no oil but multiplied as it thrived in oil while the ordinary bacteria gets extinct in that population.

    ANONYMOUS: “ The treatment of HIV ( an epidemic in Africa which the church has greatly exacerbated through its doubt of condoms and hypocritical teachings ) will advance through the study of how the virus mutates and evolves ( as will TB and other infectious diseases). If you really feel this way about evolution and other cornerstones of science, then go and live in a cave somewhere and stop using all technology.”

    POTPHER: That’s why up to now there is uncertainty in the scientific world as to classify viruses as living things or not. So if I were you, I wouldn’t try to convince anyone about macroevolution on the basis of a mutating complex organic molecule.

    ANONYMOUS: “Evolution is a theory, just like gravity”

    POTPHER: In your dreams indeed it is so. But gravity is observed to pull things down. Macroevolution has never been observed. LOL

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  21. The old Neo-Platonist idea of a Great Chain of Being, with single-celled life at the bottom and humans just below the angels, has evolved into neo-Darwinism. Plato of 428 - 347 BC), Greek philosopher, is still one of the most creative and influential thinkers in Western philosophy. Now when I say that natural selection and mutation is no more than a bullet shot into an engine of a car with the hope of improving engine performance or a computer program relying on copying mistakes to give it better functions and conclude that evolution cannot have craft perfect organism from imperfect organism, the evolutionist retaliate by saying that evolution does not necessary cause perfectionism because they don’t want to be associated with Plato. However when they turn to past animals and the fossil record, it is theoretically respectable at least to ask whether there is progressive change over time. From this perspective, progress is undeniable. I mean according to them, before a certain date, all life was prokaryotic. After that date there was prokaryotic and eukaryotic life. Another watershed date separates a time when all eukaryotic life was unicellular from a later time when it was both unicellular and multicellular. Later watershed dates separate purely aquatic life from aquatic and terrestrial life, then aquatic, terrestrial, and aerial life. Whether or not average brain size has increased, it is obviously true that maximum brain size has increased. So what is wrong with saying evolution is about perfectionism? The truth is that it is shallow thinking to assume that the best traits are a result of mutation and are selected resulting in perfect organisms.

    I know of a German scientist, Haeckel, who was trying to disprove creationism but in the end his ideas discredit evolution. He attempted to use embryological development to prove evolution. Amazingly he even tried unifying theory of biology, science in general, and even religion. According to Haeckel, each animal retraces, during its embryological development, the evolutionary steps that led to its place in the natural order. Thus, a human foetus begins its development as a single cell, just as life must have begun. About eight days later the cell grows into a hollow sphere (the blastula) that is similar in morphology to the sponges. The embryo then invaginates to form a two-layered, cup-like structure (the gastrula) that is similar to coelenterates such as jellyfish and the corals. The human embryo next begins to elongate, and within 30 days it has passed through stages with gills, a tail, and fin-like limbs typical of fish and amphibians. Soon the embryo takes an obviously mammalian form, but only after two months is it clearly seen to be a primate. In Haeckel's words, “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” literally translated as embryonic development and evolutionary development.

    Although a great deal of evolutionary imaginations can be found in this most famous of Haeckel's conjectures, his attempts to reconstruct evolutionary lineages on the basis of embryological development led to phylogenies now known to be wholly inaccurate. But here is one that must be accurate: Comparative Anatomy Theory that states that like features inside two different creatures moans that they are distant cousins on the evolutionary tree, many features that the scientists use to prove like ancestry usually come from different areas on the DNA strand. According to Darwinists logic, we conclude then that they are not ancestors. Furthermore Comparative Anatomy Theory, at molecular DNA strand level, dispels ramous about vestigial organs.

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  22. But natural selection is the mechanism by which gene mutations/changes survive and lead to the creation of new species.
    In the case of plants there has been many instances of macroevolution in our lifetimes.Lately there has been evidence of even speciation in lizards and birds in our own lifetime.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/still_just_a_lizard.php
    and
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8393443.stm
    ( the beginning of macroevolution )
    Whilst macroevolution cannot usually be observed in our lifetime, this need not discredit it as a useful theory with a basis in science and EVIDENCE. It could be seen as the accumulation of microevolution. It certainly has a great deal more evidence for it than some word of mouth and contradictory scriptures that were brought to Africa by colonial oppressors.God is not an observable phenomena.

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  23. There is also symbiogenisis, by which all organisms are thought to have evolved from bacteria. Darwinism is only one view of evolution. The overwhelming mass of evidence points to evolution, be it via natural selection, mutation or other means.

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  24. ANONYMOUS: “But natural selection is the mechanism by which gene mutations/changes survive and lead to the creation of new species.”

    POTPHER: Mutations do not lead to new species when acted upon by natural selection. Just to highlight my point as usual I quote an evolutionist: “In Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species, biologist Lynn Margulis argued later that symbiogenesis is a primary force in evolution. According to her theory, acquisition and accumulation of random mutations are not sufficient to explain how inherited variations occur; rather, new organelles, bodies, organs, and species arise from symbiogenesis.”

    ANONYMOUS: “In the case of plants there has been many instances of macroevolution in our lifetimes. Lately there has been evidence of even speciation in lizards and birds in our own lifetime………..Whilst macroevolution cannot usually be observed in our lifetime, this need not discredit it as a useful theory with a basis in science and EVIDENCE.”

    POTPHER: How can you claim that speciation is observable and again you shoot yourself in the foot by admitting that it is not observable? That’s pathetic and I shouldn’t be debating with a person like you.

    ANONYMOUS: “It could be seen as the accumulation of microevolution. It certainly has a great deal more evidence for it than some word of mouth and contradictory scriptures that were brought to Africa by colonial oppressors. God is not an observable phenomena.”

    POTPHER: Macroevolution is not accumulation of microevolution. Microevolution is about allele frequency and their assortment in a gene pool over time. Macroevolution is speciation. You don’t know what you are talking about yet you argue without knowledge. Please go back and do a research on the subject.

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  25. MARK: “Here is also symbiogenisis, by which all organisms are thought to have evolved from bacteria.”

    POTPHER: Do I have to teach you evolution? Please, symbiogenisis is not a theorem by which all organisms are hypothesized to have been formed from bacteria. It’s just a hypothesis by which most unicellular organism are believed to have evolved. But I agree that Evolution is very contradictory and has many theorems. The most popular mechanism of evolution is the "modern evolutionary synthesis" also called neo-Darwinism, emphasizes competition as the main force behind evolution.

    MARK: “Darwinism is only one view of evolution.”

    POTPHER: Very right. It’s just an old hypothesis and is old fathioned and no modern scientist believes in Darwinism: Modern scientist believe in modern evolutionary synthesis also called neo-Darwinism. Even this “theorem” is not fact.

    MARK: “The overwhelming mass of evidence points to evolution, be it via natural selection, mutation or other means.”

    POTPHER: Those are just mere words. I can also say in the same manner that the overwhelming mass of evidence points to creation, be it via the Biblical account, Quran or other means”

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  26. As was first realized by the British mathematician G. H. Hardy and the German scientist W. Weinberg, there is no inherent tendency for genes to disappear from the gene pool. Sexual reproduction and genetic recombination due to crossing over see to it that genetic variation is rapidly distributed and recombined in the gene pool hence preserving the variations in a population. Even dominant phenotype in its genome carry with them recessive alleles in a hypothesized small founder population. Thus in nature it is impossible to wipe out any allele from a population because Dipolidy hides alleles for future exhibition. Diploid character of eukaryotes hides a considerable amount of genetic variation in form of recessive alleles in heterozygotes. The recessive alleles (assumably harmful in a present environment) can persist in a population through the propagation by heterozygous individuals. For example, if 0.01 is the frequency of recessive alleles, then 0.99 (99%) copies of that recessive allele are protected in heterozygotes, and only 1% recessive alleles are present in homozygotes. The conclusion is that the rarer the recessive allele, the greater the degree of protection afforded by heterozygosity. You should understand that we are dealing with large numbers here in a population.


    Even if certain genes were to disappear in a small population through a mind-blowing gigantic Genetic Drift collegial with nerve-tilting enormous catastrophic event, it does not cause speciation. Stephen J. Gould’s “evolution by jerks” and old-fashioned Darwinists’ “evolution by creeps” does not yield speciation.
    A whale with no legs is still a whale. By no means I’m I suggesting that whales had legs. A flying beetle and a non-flying beetle are both equally beetles. However sexual reproduction keeps the genes shuffled, and it is in this sense that the long-term habitat of a gene is the gene pool. Any given gene in a gene pool exists in the form of several duplicate copies. That is what is meant by gene frequency in the gene pool. Some genes, such as the albino gene, are rare in the gene pool however they come to be expressed even if the immediate parents or grand parents are not albinos. Other genes are common.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Lamarckism: Developed by Lamarck (1744-1829). He believed that there was some intrinsic force in organisms that leads to improvement or evolutionary change.

    Darwinism: By Charles Darwin (1744-1829) Pure Darwinism is also known as natural selection and says that adaptation is the cause of evolution. Darwin was blank in genetics.

    Mendelianism: By Mendel (1822-1884) He believed that all species originate from macro-mutations and that a new species is formed at once by one individual in a population by becoming the first representative of the new species.

    Neo-Darwinism: This is the latest theory that attempts to explain the origin of species. It basically modernization of pure Darwinism by infusing genetics. It says that adaptation and the origin of diversity are the two major components of evolution. It is also known as evolutionary synthesis because the architects of the theory unified evolution theories in paleontology, taxonomy, genetics and botany while accepting Darwinism.

    Dr Ernst Mayr is one of the architects of evolutionary synthesis (neo-Darwinism) of the 1930s and 1940s. Dr. Mayr argues that geographical speciation also known as allopatric speciation is what causes new species to appear. He believes some founders, a few individuals establish a new founder colony beyond the existing species boarder. He believes this new founder population rapidly changes genetically and acquires the reproductive characteristics that are needed for becoming a different species. There it is again - "THE PRIMITIVE PEOPLE MUST HAVE HAD SPROUTED WINGS IN THEIR BACKS". Well then he continues that then the "evolved species" can still remain so even if it meets again with the "original species". He claims that that is probably why gradual origin of new species is not found by paleontologists. The trouble is that no one has see or witnessed speciation. He further says that then the species enters a stage of stasis (unchanging) for many million years until finally becoming extinct. Like all neo-Darwinists, he opts to believe that speciation is a rare occurrence.

    First of all, the question is what is a species? It has been generally accepted that a species is a population that can not interbreed with another population though they occur in one environment at the same time. This means they are reproductively isolated or in short - speciated.

    Having said that, let me go into the analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  28. ANALYSIS:

    New alleles originate by mutations. A mutation affecting any gene is an accident that is rare and random. Now all scientist in genetics agree that most mutations occur in somatic cells. These are cells that have nothing to do with reproduction. Thus these mutations die with an individual. Geneticists estimate that in humans an average of only one or two mutations occur in each cell line that produces a gamete and these are only mutations that can be passed to children. Now we see that not all evolutionary change is necessarily adaptive. At the molecular level, in particular, there is growing support for the idea that most evolutionary change is actually neutral. It is also known as anti-Darwinism. The “neutral theory of evolution” has been most effectively championed by the distinguished Japanese geneticist Motoo Kimura. The neutral theory is not about genes doing nothing useful. It about stating that different forms of the same gene are indistinguishable in their effects. Therefore a mutation from one form of the gene to another is neutral in that the change has no effect upon the phenotype where natural selection could act upon. In short a mutation is in the dark. Chance determines where it will strike and how it will alter a gene. So the idea that a new founder population rapidly changes genetically is here by dismissed and rendered null and void.

    Most point mutations (those affecting a single base) in DNA are harmless. I say so because much of DNA in eukaryotic genome does not code for protein products. In this respect most of them have no effect on the organism.

    Even mutations of structural genes (those that code for protein) may occur with very little or no effect on the organism because of redundancy in the genetic code. Of coarse I agree that a single-point mutation can have a significant impact on phenotype (what is expressed) as in for example, sickle-cell anemia.

    Every biologist knows that over 99% of mutations that alter a protein enough to affect its function are harmful. Could you kindly tell me of a mutation that is beneficial? In this respect what is the overall net contribution to a gene pool? NEGATIVE contribution!!!. Now, natural selection only favors the best from the available variations in a gene pool of a population. Strictly speaking new alleles do not arise on demand. Therefore it is not scientific to think big muscles of one who works with a hammer will have children with big muscles. It is equally unscientific to presume that the giraffe's neck is a result of stretching its head high to get leaves from tree branches. Though organism could be refined products of thousands of generations within a population, a random change in gene is not likely to improve the genome any more than firing a gunshot blindly through the hood of a car is likely to improve engine performance.

    Another point I would like to make is that survival of the fittest and elimination of the unfavorable ones hypothesis as in Darwinism is measured only by the relative contribution an individual makes to the gene pool of the next generation. But does that mean the species gets extinct due to this hypothesis? No! Not at all. Does it mean there are special genes that yield ideal characteristics among the available ones in a gene pool of a population or a founder population to make adaptation perfectly suit a species to an environment? Again No! not at all.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Duplications of chromosomes or segments thereof are also mostly harmful. The examples in humans are:

    Down's syndrome (mongolism) which results of chromosome pair 21 failing to separate during meiosis.

    Philadelphia chromosome (Ph1) this is a result of translocation of one of the long chromatids of chromosome pair 22 during meiosis. This is translocated to chromosome 9 causing chronic myeloid Leukemia

    Some examples of diseases resulting from abnormal genes (mutant genes) are: hemophilia, sperocytosis, acute intermittent phorphyria, cystic fibrosis of the pancreas, galectosaemia, phenylketonuria, haemoglobinopathesis, etc.

    There are a number of mechanisms that have been scientifically proven to be responsible making the species not to change. I will ride with you through some of them.


    Recombinations:

    Though mutations are a source of new genes, they are so infrequent at any locus that generation to generation, their contribution to genetic variation is negligible. I mean members of a population owe nearly all their differences to the unique recombinations of the existing alleles each individual brawls from a gene pool. In this respect, sexual reproduction within a population recombines old alleles into fresh assortments every generation thus preserving the varieties within a species.

    Preservation Of Genetic Variation

    What prevents natural selection from extinguishing a population's variations:

    1. Diploidy: Diploid character of eukaryotes hides a considerable amount of genetic variation in form of recessive alleles in heterozygotes. The recessive alleles (assumably harmful in a present environment) can persist in a population through the propagation by heterozygous individuals. For example, if 0.01 is the frequency of recessive alleles, then 0.99 (99%) copies of that recessive allele are protected in heterozygotes, and only 1% recessive alleles are present in homozygotes. The conclusion is that the rarer the recessive allele, the greater the degree of protection afforded by heterozygosity. You should understand that we are dealing with large numbers here in a population.

    2. Balanced Polymorphism: The example of such is heterozygote advantage such as in sickle-cell anemia. Here for instance a specific recessive allele at the locus causes sickle-cell anemia in homozygous individuals. However, heterozygotes are resistant to malaria. This is an important advantage in tropical regions where the disease is the major cause of death. Surprisingly in Africa (where I'm living) the frequency of sickle cell anemia is generally highest in areas where the malaria parasite is most common. Some study was taken that showed that in some tribes, if the recessive allele accounts 20% of hemoglobin loci in the pool and this is a very high frequency for gene that is disastrous in homozygotes. At this frequency (q = 0.2), 32% of the population consist of heterozygotes resistant to malaria (2pq), and only 4% of the population suffer from sickle-cell anemia

    3. Hybrids of Crops: It has been proven scientifically that crossbreeding of varieties within a species increases immunity to various diseases. So the very natural selection postulation can be detrimental while none natural selection could be positive.

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  30. CONCLUSION:

    In summary what was I saying? Organisms are locked into historical constraints. Neo-Darwinism in its postulation does not scrap anatomy and build each new complex structure from scratch. It merely opts for existing structures and adapts them to new situations. Gene constraints preserve the species.

    Natural selection can be detrimental to progression of new species. This is not to say that I admit that new species do form or did ever form. Adaptations are often compromises. For example, a seal spends part of its time on rocks, it would do better if it had legs. We humans owe much of our versatility and athleticism to our flexible limbs that make us prone to sprains, torn ligaments and dislocations.

    If I were an evolutionist, I would say neo-Darwinism has failed to explain the origin of species. Look at this: When a storm blows insects hundreds of miles over an ocean to an island, the wind does not necessarily select the best genes from a gene pool so as to be better suited to a new environment. In this respect, not all alleles fixed by genetic drift in a gene pool of a small founding populations are better suited to that environment than alleles that are lost. So similarly the bottleneck effect can cause non-adaptive or even mal-adaptive evolution.

    World Population Growth Rate of humans in recent times is about 2% per year. Practicable application of growth rate throughout human history would be about half that number. Wars, disease, famine, etc. have wiped out approximately one third of the population on average every 82 years. Starting with eight people, and applying these growth rates since the Flood of Noah's day (about 4500 years ago) would give a total human population at just under six billion people. However, application on an evolutionary time scale runs into major difficulties. Starting with one "couple" just 41,000 years ago would give us a total population of 2 x 10 to the89th. The universe does not have space to hold so many bodies.

    The various nucleotides essential for building RNA and DNA molecules require radically different environmental conditions for their assembly. Cytosine and uracil need near boiling water temperatures, while adenine and guanine need freezing water temperatures. Thus, it seems highly unlikely that under natural conditions all four building blocks would come together under adequate concentrations at the same site.

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  31. With all these hiccups of neo-Darwinism theory, it is only fact to say that it remains a mammoth task for evolutionist to dives new theories for we can not expect the present postulation to have craft perfect organisms. Natural selection only operates on a better than basis yet genes remain the stubborn constraints to any present or future theories. Time is running out. Who knows Jesus might come soon before you make anymore theories on the matter.

    I know for sure that man has never answered the question of why did the life come into being. If the preceding question of "how" seems too difficult: if "how" seems to be at the borders of scientific method then the question "why" is clearly beyond scientific method. One notable scientist of evolution, Mark Twain once argued, "Why shouldn't truth be more stranger than fiction?" "Fiction, after all has to make sense." A scientist refutes the story of creation on account of failing to answer the question of "who created God?" Listen, God does not exist, but He is the existence. All things that exist have an origin and are but created. God has no beginning and no end and He is Spirit thus the laws of science can not apply to Him. Why do evolutionists find it easier to accept that the universe is limitless in terms of boundaries and yet fail to attribute omniscience to God? Why can't they go a little further and ask: what was the source of the energy at the center of the universe before the first big bang since all things have sources and beginnings? It's comforting to know that a true scientist will admit that the laws of science and gathered facts do not support evolution. Why then do so called men of knowledge believe in evolution? The answer is that I have already told you: - "THE PRIMITIVE PEOPLE MUST HAVE HAD SPROUTED WINGS IN THEIR BACKS". Then I m' not wrong to claim that evolution is based on belief and not on laws of science and thus Evolution (Cosmic Evolution Biogenesis and neo-Darwinism) is a religion and not a science. Unfortunately evolution requires more faith than creation. Evolutionists have plenty of faith but no ears so they won't here the facts that are shouted into their face. Yes, absolutely no ear but plenty of wasted faith.

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  32. I really don't think that word of mouth and scripture can be put in the same class of evidence as fossils and all the other evidence for some sort of evolution.
    I'm pretty sure that symbiogenesis posited that current organisms on Earth evolved due to their absorption of bacteria, which became the organelles in their cells. In this sense, we are in our current form, much evolved from bacteria. I think you dismiss this a little quickly.
    On a related note, it seems recent DNA analysis has revealed that much of our DNA was adapted from viruses.
    I think by macroevolution being observable/not observable, Anonymous said USUALLY not observable ( i.e as our knowledge grows we may find more and more instances of the lizard, bird and plant examples leading to new speciation, but at the moment evidence is still scanty ).

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  33. I find this argument fascinating. There's anonymous who run away from serious questions from important and relevant questions and retuned on issues about evolution. And now joined by Mark.

    What I will say here is simple. Any framework that seeks to explain life must explain the origin of information (the basis for DNA coding).

    Every credible chemistry or biological expert will tell you that the evolutionary theory is inadequate because it cannot explain the origin of information. That is the HUGE monster in the room.

    I recommend a book all must read "Signature In The Cell" by Stephen Meyer.

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  34. I would not dispute that the ultimate origin of life is 'up for grabs', although increasing evidence points to bacteria and water being brought to Earth by meteorite. Of course that still leaves us with the question of the origin of that and so on....This is not going to be a question or issue that will be resolved anytime soon ! I'll admit my qualifications here are inadequate and resign from this debate !
    As a parting aside, I am aware of Meyer, and that he has been criticised for his lack of experience in biology and chemistry ( what science qualifications he does have are in undergrad physics ) and that his work is not accepted by the scientific community.

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  35. Mark,

    My point was about the origin of INFORMATION in the DNA coding.

    As for Meyer, he did get his PHd in the Philosophy of Science from Oxford after all.

    I encourage you not to practice ad hominem but to read with an open mind. Also try and focus on the key question. Here the key question is whether the evolution model can explain the origin of information. It will do you well to research this matter. But research with an open mind. Meyer is one of the world's leading expert on that vital question. It is very critical.

    Frankly, I don't care about the evolution debate because the matters of God's existence is presupposed in order itself. Without order there's no rationality. Without God there's no order. Atheists presuppose God in their conduct and argument. Because if it is all random - what is the point of this debate?

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  36. after u realise neo-Darwinism has been refuted, u shift the goal post to fusion of bacteria without explaining how bacteria evolved from none living matter thru a naturalistic process. i'll soon post my thots on abiogenesis to show that life cannot evolve from none living matter.

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  37. I have not said neo-Darwinism was refuted, and I'm sure many people would say it has not been ! ; Mark suggested there are other models of evolution. Science after all itself evolves as our technology and knowledge grows. Unlike religion, science admits that it's theories must be falsifiable and subject to revision.

    These are all impressive arguments you make, and you marshal them well, but I can't help feel we should leave such matters to the experts who actually have Phd's in the related field ( biology not philosophy )

    Darren Faulk looks like an interesting example of a Christian who is an expert in Biology and disagrees with Meyer.

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  38. On the population growth, it's true that scientists were puzzled by the lack of genetic diversity in humans given the average rate of mutations, until they realized the evidence suggested we almost died out a million years ago. In fact one of the surviving pockets of populations was in on the southern african coast ; interesting article here :
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=early-human-population-size-genetic-diversity

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  39. Darren Falk, not Faulk excuse me.

    ReplyDelete
  40. I guess in the end, my problem is this : can you really look at Christianity and say your reasons for believing this doctrine are based on evidence and logic ? Why does this doctrine seem a more convincing way of explaining the world than science does ?
    If there was any logic to religions I would say that the 'latest ' revelations and Messenger would be the most relevant and therefore Christians should convert to Islam.

    ReplyDelete
  41. What is life? What do we mean by life? Spiritually speaking, life is a status. Scientifically, life is not a status, but a process - a series of chemical reaction using carbon-based molecules, by which matter is taken into the system and is used to assist the system's growth and reproduction, with waste products being expelled. I shall restrict myself to discuss this subject within the scientific broad view definition of life.

    A virus can not qualify to be a living organism because matter is not taken into a system and waste products are not being expelled out of a system. It is for this reason that biologists disagree on whether viruses should be considered a form of life. A cell is a biological system in which the processes occur.

    Early experiments suggested that it was relatively simple to produce some of the building blocks of life such as amino acids, the components of proteins. However, the euphoria of the Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 has given way to a paradigm crisis of 1993 in origin of life research. The wishful, yet workable atmosphere of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor has been replaced by the more realistic, but stingy atmosphere of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen cyanide. This is the vernon that volcanoes vomit. These are poisonous to life. This atmosphere poses a much more difficult challenge. Molecules relevant for life would be much rarer. Even more damaging is the possibility of the presence of molecular oxygen in the atmosphere from the break-up of water vapor induced by UV rays. Molecular oxygen would poison any reaction leading to biologically significant molecules. As we see it now, it is evident that the much talked about Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 has currently been thrashed aside by new data that indicate a more realistic, but stingy atmosphere of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. These are the gases that volcanoes vomit out and we all admit that. The wishful yet workable atmosphere of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor that Chemist S. L. Miller used can not find place in the origin of life in the light of what volcanoes belch out. Worse still, even today's experiments in which researchers try to simulate the early earth have been severely crippled. These experiments generally use purified reactants, isolated energy sources and exaggerated energy levels. These are procedures that unrealistically drive the reaction toward the desired product. Another thing to lament about is that the products are protected from the destructive effects of the energy sources that produced them in the first place. It is thus unthinkable to conceive that life could have evolved in the deep ocean vents. How about at the surface, precisely the more promising ponds that have special clays that act as catalysis for formation of organic molecules? What one needs is just to answer the question: what are the effects of oxygen gas on organic molecules? The sure answer is oxidation of the very thing we hypothetically want to achieve. If we presume an atmosphere that has no oxygen then we ought to bear in mind that the ozone layer is a product of oxygen. No oxygen means no protection from deadly UV. Worse still some of the water vapor molecules will be broken down by UV rays resulting into Oxygen gas, which causes oxidation of organic molecules. Dr. Klaus Dose once wrote:

    “More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance. [From Interdisciplinary Science Review 13(1988): 348-56.]

    ReplyDelete
  42. Again, in 1983, evolutionist researcher C. Ponnamperuma announced that all five of the critical organic compounds called "bases" (Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine, Uricil and Adenine) that are responsible for coding genetic information in the DNA and RNA of living cells were synthesized in a Miller-Urey type of experiment.

    But firstly, it should be noted that experimental results are totally different from natural results as earlier pointed out in my preamble where I did say that these experiments generally use purified reactants, isolated energy sources and exaggerated energy levels. These are procedures that unrealistically drive the reaction toward the desired product. If asked I can elaborate more.

    Secondly, what was achieved in the experiment were bases and not and an array of bases that can depict a gene.

    Thirdly, but all of these difficulties together, as staggering as they are, are not the real problem. A harpaharzedly and arbitrary arrangement of a simple array of such bases can not be equated to the complex DNA molecule and its numerous highly specialized codes for synthesis of proteins.

    The major difficulty in chemical evolution scenarios is how to account for the informational code of DNA without intelligence being a part of the equation. DNA carries the genetic code - the genetic blueprint for constructing and maintaining a biological organism. DNA is "transcribed" into RNA; RNA is "translated" into protein; geneticists speak of the "genetic code". All these words imply intelligence, and the DNA informational code requires intelligent preprogramming, yet a purely naturalistic beginning does not provide such input. Though chemical experiments may be able to construct small sequences of nucleotides to form small molecules of DNA, this doesn't make them mean anything. There is no source for the informational code in a strictly naturalistic origin of life. The simplest possible cell, according to recent theoretical analysis, would need a bare minimum of 256 genes coding for the required enzymes, which are long polypeptides. And it is doubtful whether such a hypothetical organism could survive, because such an organism could barely repair DNA damage, could no longer fine-tune the ability of its remaining genes, would lack the ability to digest complex compounds, and would need a comprehensive supply of organic nutrients in its environment. Indeed the major difficulty is linking up the building blocks at all, let alone in the right sequence. This is because thermodynamic considerations show that long molecules like proteins and nucleic acids tend to break up into their component monomers (amino acids and nucleotides respectively). Any undirected energy input is more likely to be destructive rather than constructive, and to increase the variety of undesirable side reactions possible.

    Again which one evolved first between DNA and RNA? You need DNA to make up RNA while you need RNA to make up DNA. Genetic information does not just spontaneously arise from random DNA sequences. The informational code, the relevant molecules, all catalysts and a "house" constitute a complex irreducible system that needs all it's constituents to be present and functioning. The terminology "irreducible complexity" was coined by Professor Michael Behe. One time I was privileged to watch him on TV and this is what he had to say:

    "A system is irreducibly complex if it is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. Life at the molecular level is replete with such systems, and biochemists do not even attempt to explain how any one of them could have come into existence by the Darwinian mechanism.”

    The result of biochemical investigation of cellular mechanisms, according to Behe, "is a loud, clear, piercing cry of ‘Design!’"

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  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  44. HOW DID LIFE ORIGINATE?
    By Potpher Mbulo


    If life did "evolve" into existence, how did it come into being? I know that evolutionist do not have to discuss abiogenesis to work in Neo-Darwinism. After all Neo-Darwinist do not even attempt to explain how any one of the many biological systems at molecular level could have come into existence by the Darwinian mechanism. All we hear them say is that we evolved from ape like creatures. Is it too much a thing to ask them to explain at molecular level how an eye evolved? But you should know that abiogenesis is a branch of Evolution, and Evolution can be defined as continuous naturalistic, mechanistic process by which all living things are hypothesized to have arisen from a single living source which itself assumably arose by a similar process from a non-living, inanimate world which (non-living matter) in turn “evolved” from energy which hypothetically has always been from eternity past.


    It thus follows that such a pure naturalist misconstrued “theory” encompasses the Big Bang hypothesis, Abiogenesis, Neo- Darwinism and whatever naturalistic hypothesis you deem fit or have been proposed to replace the incumbent misconceptions of the general “theory”. If one part is defective how does the rest of the system (general “theory”) work? Worse still in your case, the whole system has no single workable mechanism. At every point its all trash!!!!


    As scientists, we cannot confidently talk about mutations and adaptations if we deliberately ignore the question of how life evolved in the first place. Most evolutionists shun the topic relating the origin of the first building blocks of life. To make matters worse, the issue of how information coded in DNA arose is a thorn in the fresh of evolutionists. If the question of how did life originate has not been answered yet, those of us who are prudent, shall never accept the hypothesis that claims that a single organism did change into an infinite array of creatures. An erected scientific theory is that which is based on a solid foundation. We shall always entertain it as a hypothesis. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said:


    "It is a mark of an educated mind that entertains a thought without accepting it."


    The controversy surrounding the origin of the first organism in this far-advanced ere of science today proves that Neo-Darwinism has no base. I shall in this thesis show that indeed this is the case.


    What is life? What do we mean by life? Spiritually speaking, life is a status. Scientifically, life is not a status, but a process - a series of chemical reaction using carbon-based molecules, by which matter is taken into the system and is used to assist the system's growth and reproduction, with waste products being expelled. I shall restrict myself to discuss this subject within the scientific broad view definition of life.


    A virus cannot qualify to be a living organism because matter is not taken into a system and waste products are not being expelled out of a system. It is for this reason that biologists disagree on whether viruses should be considered a form of life. A cell is a biological system in which the processes occur.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Early experiments suggested that it was relatively simple to produce some of the building blocks of life such as amino acids, the components of proteins. However, the euphoria of the Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 has given way to a paradigm crisis of 1993 in origin of life research. The wishful, yet workable atmosphere of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor has been replaced by the more realistic, but stingy atmosphere of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen cyanide. This is the venom that volcanoes vomit. These are poisonous to life. This atmosphere poses a much more difficult challenge. Molecules relevant for life would be much rarer. Even more damaging is the possibility of the presence of molecular oxygen in the atmosphere from the break-up of water vapor induced by UV rays. Molecular oxygen would poison any reaction leading to biologically significant molecules. As we see it now, it is evident that the much talked about Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 has currently been thrashed aside by new data that indicate a more realistic, but stingy atmosphere of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. These are the gases that volcanoes vomit out and we all admit that. The wishful yet workable atmosphere of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor that Chemist S. L. Miller used can not find place in the origin of life in the light of what volcanoes belch out. Worse still, even today's experiments in which researchers try to simulate the early earth have been severely crippled. These experiments generally use purified reactants, isolated energy sources and exaggerated energy levels. These are procedures that unrealistically drive the reaction toward the desired product. Another thing to lament about is that the products are protected from the destructive effects of the energy sources that produced them in the first place. It is thus unthinkable to conceive that life could have evolved in the deep ocean vents. How about at the surface, precisely the more promising ponds that have special clays that act as catalysis for formation of organic molecules? What one needs is just to answer the question: what are the effects of oxygen gas on organic molecules? The sure answer is oxidation of the very thing we hypothetically want to achieve. If we presume an atmosphere that has no oxygen then we ought to bear in mind that the ozone layer is a product of oxygen. No oxygen means no protection from deadly UV. Worse still some of the water vapor molecules will be broken down by UV rays resulting into Oxygen gas, which causes oxidation of organic molecules. Dr. Klaus Dose once wrote:

    “More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.” [From Interdisciplinary Science Review 13(1988): 348-56.]
    Again, in 1983, evolutionist researcher C. Ponnamperuma announced that all five of the critical organic compounds called "bases" (Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine, Uricil and Adenine) that are responsible for coding genetic information in the DNA and RNA of living cells were synthesized in a Miller-Urey type of experiment.

    ReplyDelete
  46. http://potpherthinkingaloud.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-did-life-originate.html

    ReplyDelete
  47. If life did "evolve" into existence, how did it come into being? I know that evolutionist do not have to discuss abiogenesis to work in Neo-Darwinism. After all Neo-Darwinist do not even attempt to explain how any one of the many biological systems at molecular level could have come into existence by the Darwinian mechanism. All we hear them say is that we evolved from ape like creatures. Is it too much a thing to ask them to explain at molecular level how an eye evolved? But you should know that abiogenesis is a branch of Evolution, and Evolution can be defined as continuous naturalistic, mechanistic process by which all living things are hypothesized to have arisen from a single living source which itself assumably arose by a similar process from a non-living, inanimate world which (non-living matter) in turn “evolved” from energy which hypothetically has always been from eternity past.

    It thus follows that such a pure naturalist misconstrued “theory” encompasses the Big Bang hypothesis, Abiogenesis, Neo- Darwinism and whatever naturalistic hypothesis you deem fit or have been proposed to replace the incumbent misconceptions of the general “theory”. If one part is defective how does the rest of the system (general “theory”) work? Worse still in your case, the whole system has no single workable mechanism. At every point its all trash!!!!

    As scientists, we cannot confidently talk about mutations and adaptations if we deliberately ignore the question of how life evolved in the first place. Most evolutionists shun the topic relating the origin of the first building blocks of life. To make matters worse, the issue of how information coded in DNA arose is a thorn in the fresh of evolutionists. If the question of how did life originate has not been answered yet, those of us who are prudent, shall never accept the hypothesis that claims that a single organism did change into an infinite array of creatures. An erected scientific theory is that which is based on a solid foundation. We shall always entertain it as a hypothesis. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once said:

    "It is a mark of an educated mind that entertains a thought without accepting it."

    The controversy surrounding the origin of the first organism in this far-advanced ere of science today proves that Neo-Darwinism has no base. I shall in this thesis show that indeed this is the case.

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  48. What is life? What do we mean by life? Spiritually speaking, life is a status. Scientifically, life is not a status, but a process - a series of chemical reaction using carbon-based molecules, by which matter is taken into the system and is used to assist the system's growth and reproduction, with waste products being expelled. I shall restrict myself to discuss this subject within the scientific broad view definition of life.

    A virus cannot qualify to be a living organism because matter is not taken into a system and waste products are not being expelled out of a system. It is for this reason that biologists disagree on whether viruses should be considered a form of life. A cell is a biological system in which the processes occur.

    Early experiments suggested that it was relatively simple to produce some of the building blocks of life such as amino acids, the components of proteins. However, the euphoria of the Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 has given way to a paradigm crisis of 1993 in origin of life research. The wishful, yet workable atmosphere of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor has been replaced by the more realistic, but stingy atmosphere of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and hydrogen cyanide. This is the venom that volcanoes vomit. These are poisonous to life. This atmosphere poses a much more difficult challenge. Molecules relevant for life would be much rarer. Even more damaging is the possibility of the presence of molecular oxygen in the atmosphere from the break-up of water vapor induced by UV rays. Molecular oxygen would poison any reaction leading to biologically significant molecules. As we see it now, it is evident that the much talked about Miller-Urey experiment of 1953 has currently been thrashed aside by new data that indicate a more realistic, but stingy atmosphere of carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. These are the gases that volcanoes vomit out and we all admit that. The wishful yet workable atmosphere of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor that Chemist S. L. Miller used can not find place in the origin of life in the light of what volcanoes belch out. Worse still, even today's experiments in which researchers try to simulate the early earth have been severely crippled. These experiments generally use purified reactants, isolated energy sources and exaggerated energy levels. These are procedures that unrealistically drive the reaction toward the desired product. Another thing to lament about is that the products are protected from the destructive effects of the energy sources that produced them in the first place. It is thus unthinkable to conceive that life could have evolved in the deep ocean vents. How about at the surface, precisely the more promising ponds that have special clays that act as catalysis for formation of organic molecules? What one needs is just to answer the question: what are the effects of oxygen gas on organic molecules? The sure answer is oxidation of the very thing we hypothetically want to achieve. If we presume an atmosphere that has no oxygen then we ought to bear in mind that the ozone layer is a product of oxygen. No oxygen means no protection from deadly UV. Worse still some of the water vapor molecules will be broken down by UV rays resulting into Oxygen gas, which causes oxidation of organic molecules. Dr. Klaus Dose once wrote:

    “More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.” [From Interdisciplinary Science Review 13(1988): 348-56.]

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  49. Again, in 1983, evolutionist researcher C. Ponnamperuma announced that all five of the critical organic compounds called "bases" (Cytosine, Guanine, Thymine, Uricil and Adenine) that are responsible for coding genetic information in the DNA and RNA of living cells were synthesized in a Miller-Urey type of experiment.

    But firstly, it should be noted that experimental results are totally different from natural results as earlier pointed out in my preamble where I did say that these experiments generally use purified reactants, isolated energy sources and exaggerated energy levels. These are procedures that unrealistically drive the reaction toward the desired product. If asked I can elaborate more.

    Secondly, what was achieved in the experiment were bases and not and an array of bases that can depict a gene.

    Thirdly, but all of these difficulties together, as staggering as they are, are not the real problem. A harpaharzedly and arbitrary arrangement of a simple array of such bases can not be equated to the complex DNA molecule and its numerous highly specialized codes for synthesis of proteins.

    The major difficulty in chemical evolution scenarios is how to account for the informational code of DNA without intelligence being a part of the equation. DNA carries the genetic code - the genetic blueprint for constructing and maintaining a biological organism. DNA is "transcribed" into RNA; RNA is "translated" into protein; geneticists speak of the "genetic code". All these words imply intelligence, and the DNA informational code requires intelligent preprogramming, yet a purely naturalistic beginning does not provide such input. Though chemical experiments may be able to construct small sequences of nucleotides to form small molecules of DNA, this doesn't make them mean anything. There is no source for the informational code in a strictly naturalistic origin of life. The simplest possible cell, according to recent theoretical analysis, would need a bare minimum of 256 genes coding for the required enzymes, which are long polypeptides. And it is doubtful whether such a hypothetical organism could survive, because such an organism could barely repair DNA damage, could no longer fine-tune the ability of its remaining genes, would lack the ability to digest complex compounds, and would need a comprehensive supply of organic nutrients in its environment. Indeed the major difficulty is linking up the building blocks at all, let alone in the right sequence. This is because thermodynamic considerations show that long molecules like proteins and nucleic acids tend to break up into their component monomers (amino acids and nucleotides respectively). Any undirected energy input is more likely to be destructive rather than constructive, and to increase the variety of undesirable side reactions possible.

    Again which one evolved first between DNA and RNA? You need DNA to make up RNA while you need RNA to make up DNA. Genetic information does not just spontaneously arise from random DNA sequences. The informational code, the relevant molecules, all catalysts and a "house" constitute a complex irreducible system that needs all it's constituents to be present and functioning. The terminology "irreducible complexity" was coined by Professor Michael Behe. One time I was privileged to watch him on TV and this is what he had to say:

    "A system is irreducibly complex if it is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. Life at the molecular level is replete with such systems, and biochemists do not even attempt to explain how any one of them could have come into existence by the Darwinian mechanism.”

    The result of biochemical investigation of cellular mechanisms, according to Behe, "is a loud, clear, piercing cry of ‘Design!’"

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  50. As a contribution ; I believe symbiogenesis refers not specifically to bacteria, but to microbes in general. The discovery of the giant, unusually complicated ' Mimi' virus in recent years has prompted some scientists to claim that viruses are the common ancestor. At least they may be intimately involved in our own evolution, and in particular the development of nucleui in cells. The Mimi virus may have once been self-sufficient ( not a virus in the modern sense ) and then later become dependent on host cells.

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  51. I am concerned with the reasoning about human population growth - How does a creationist explain the mass of fossil evidence and the carbon dating that suggests humans and the earth are much, much older than the Bible suggests ? Evolution and the mechanism by which it works may be largely circumstantial evidence, but the basic physics and chemistry of carbon and radioactive dating are hard to argue against.

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  52. In response to What good evolution has done us ?; Dawkins makes the point in his seminal work ' The Greatest Show on Earth : The Evidence for Evolution ' that if we had been more 'evolution literate' we would have anticipated better the growth of anti-biotic resistant bacteria. Indeed we underestimated the speed at which evolution can occur. Perhaps given that we have created new species ourselves via domestication of animals and vegetables, we should have realised bacteria of all creatures were capable of macroevolution in our own lifetime.
    By studying the evolution of viruses, we may be able to create a virus that can more effectively deal with cancer. Ultimately as the depth of our understanding of evolution deepens, the applications to improve life on Earth could be limitless.

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  53. I haven't the time to read your endless peregrinations around micro and macro evolution-two things that do not exist. So I will state this simply: there is no instant in which a new species magically appears in place of the old. Instead we get change along a continuum, evolution is a continuous process. Language is the perfect example: a Latin speaking mother did not one day give birth to an Italian speaking child. Instead Latin changed over time to give us an entirely new language that is distinct from Latin; but at no point can we say 'This is the instant at which Latin ceased to be and Italian began'. It is the same with evolution of species: archaeopteryx is an ancestor of modern birds but it is VERY different from them, so different in fact that it is a different species. Modern birds are not merely a form of archaeopteryx, they are species in their own right, so we have two distinct species connected by a continuum of change in which each generation resembles the previous and next generation to a greater degree than it resembles archaeopteryx. Evolution makes no sense if one believes that there is only the innerrant word of god, which is why we end up with all these confusing terms trying to obscure the point into oblivion. If you believe in the Bible simply state that, rather than trying to muddle a theory that makes perfect sense with uninformed arguments.
    That is not to say religion is intolerable, it is possible for it to be a good thing but only in its moderate, informed, and private manifestations. Christianity should stick to arguing about faith and that which cannot be seen or proven, that is the only arena in which it has the upper hand; as soon as you start to wade into science with Christianity you get arguments advanced by Christians that claim to be science but make no scientific sense. There are some intelligent Christians who can reconcile some aspects of science with their faith but they are sadly very few in our country and will lose to the extreme forms of Christianity peddled by the likes of John Hagee.

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  54. As for the idea that making Zambia a Christian nation(albeit with freedom of conscience and no discrimination) will be beneficial I have only this to say: when was the last time that a state that explicitly stated its religious affiliation was a happy, virtuous and peaceful nation? The US is not Christian, it simply states a belief in god. The UK has disestablished the Church of England and while it had an official church it burned a large number of 'heretics' and built a vast empire (which included our country) that was known to be brutal. Russia has a state religion and is it a happy place with peace (the Caucasus? Chechnya?) and equality? (Russia has religious freedom so one cannot argue that their religious violence is motivated by intolerance) Apartheid South Africa had an official church, and I do not need to explain how bad a nation that was; if you talk to many Dutch Reformed Church members you will find that they are pretty much the same in their beliefs as every black, brown, yellow or pink Zambian Christian-obviously Christianity played no moderating role there. Portugal supposedly also benefitted from the moral lessons of Christianity and waged bloody wars in Angola and Mozambique and could justify state racism, and that was a VERY religious regime. Iran has a state religion and they are renowned the world over for peace, freedom and democracy; Saudi Arabia is also a country with a state religion and it punishes women for being raped. Need I go on to illustrate that having a state religion, with or without tolerance, does not in any way guarentee a better nation? Having a Christian moral basis will make us no different than the Portuguese or British empires as they had the exact same bases as Zambia would have, it is our HUMAN morality that will make us a better nation.
    By saying that Zambia is a Christian nation because it reflects our identity we would then exclude all non Christian Zambians from helping to form our identity. We would be saying they cannot contribute because they are not Christian. It would take a very small step to go and say that because we are a Christian nation only Christians are Zambians, what then happens to our Muslims? To our atheists? To our Hindus? It would be better to simply state that we are a nation composed of Zambians, people who meet the criteria for membership in the nation and who have the ability to define their identity in any way they wish. As a non Christian Zambian I have always accepted that I will encounter a certain amount of hostility for my lack of faith, but to live in a nation where I am officialy excluded from being able to help form the national identity based on my beliefs is repellant as it implies that I am not Zambian, if I were Zambian I would be counted in forming that identity. This whole argument is a slippery slope and spills ink that should be spilled addressing more pressing concerns. The simplest solution is to leave religion in the church and the mosque and behind closed doors, along with homosexuality, wife beating and pornography.

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  55. I apologise for my bitter tone. I see that things moved on from micro and macro evolution. Science cannot explain an awful lot but it does a far better job of explaining what it can than religion does. Being unable to answer something does not mean we should reach for god to fill in the blanks, it means we should try harder to find something reasonable.
    As for the authority of scripture: it seems that there is no copy of the NT dating from before the 3rd century, and in light of the problems of copying the books by hand and innumerable translations and even the existence of multiple versions of several books it seems we have no accurate version of what Jesus is purported to have said. With these conditions how can we even begin to believe that god's word, we'll leave his existence aside, as it is in the bible is what he actually said? That is not to mention all the historical questions that cannot be corroborated by other records (something essential for historical accuracyas something that cannot be corrborated cannot be accepted solely on its own merits, it must be treated with extreme caution) or that are contradicted. The bible's internal chronology and geneaologies are inconsistent (we have two different lineages for Joseph, we have differing accounts of the reason for the birth in Bethlehem); Roman and Jewish records are at odds with many events chronicled, for example the earthquakes and tremors when Jesus died and the dead rising up (something the Romans would notice?). It also makes no sense to believe a book is true just because it says so, I could write that I am god and no-one would believe me, just because it is written does not make it true. If we claim it is the word of god we can only substantiate that claim by turning to the source we are trying to legitimate in the first place. We have a logical problem here, no independent verification. I just question whether it is possible to believe what is written in the bible simply because it is written.
    If the foundation of Christianity is so dubious when we rely solely on literary and historical analysis the outlook is even more grim when we take archaeology and geology into account. The only defence for Christianity is Faith, which cannot be countered with reason or science. It may make people happy and sometimes make them better people (if not more annoying for their continual attempts at converting me) but it requires willing blindness and that is not a good thing to embrace in a constitution, unless we want to have to write another one, which will probably happen in any case.

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  56. Richard,

    I suppose some of what you have said can be considered offensive and possibly violates our preciously guarded "comments policy".

    BUT this is a special case because as a Christian I would say I serve a God who came in human flesh and took all offence, was abused at the hand of sinful man such as yourself and I and died on the cross for us. Rather than judge you for that he chose to absolve by taking the shame of the cross. God loves you whether you are bitter at him or not. After after nothing surprises him since he saw you in your unformed substance.

    This is why Jesus is different and it is why real Christians must tolerant.

    On the substance of your comments. I think you have not addressed the substance of the article. I make four specific propositions and not one of them have you addressed. I am happy to respond on the substance - as and when you comment on it.

    The side points you make I can also address them if I want, but ASK the question and I WILL ANSWER.

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  57. Proposition 1: To not declare ourselves a Christian nation would indeed be to say that the state is secular. Mathew 22:20 states 'Render unto Ceasar the things which are Caeasr's'. This has long been interpretted as saying that there is a seperation between what the state does and what God does, it does not say that the state is godly or needs to be godly even from the point of view of Christians. By trying to make Zambia a Christian nation we would be concerning Christians with things of this world when by building social networks and providing Charity Christians would be far better able to affirm their identity. In short, the state does not have to be Christian if its people are Christian, they merely have to live Christian lives in order to be good Christians. Jesus doesn't say the state must be Christian and urges a Christian life without reference to the state. One could say a Christian state would make it easier to be Christian but most Christian thought has always been wary of the relationship between church and state (Calvin, Knox, various Popes including Gregory VII)because of the potential for corruption of the church through contact with things of this world. The state is required to lie at times or bend the truth, are we going to expect this to stop?

    Proposition 2: Benign state secularism is neutral in the sense that it does not privilege one faith over another nor does it seek to suppress faith. It leaves the choice to individuals and social groups while keeping the potentially dangerous topic of religion out of national politics. It may not be neautral from a belife system point of view but state secularism is neutral from the point of view that it will neither support nor oppose anyone. We were founded as an inclusive nation that embraced non-racialism and allowed freedom of worship (unless you were a Lumpa, and that incident illustrates the deadly cocktail of religion and politics). I would believe in a state that embraces the ideal that all of its citizens are free to hold any views they like (obviously with the exception of extreme views like racism)and in which the state does not try and push an ideological agenda, that is up to political parties. So saying that state secularism neccesarily leads to a secularising agenda is erroneous, it simply leaves religion and all thought up to the individual.

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  58. Proposition 3: I answered this to some extent before. I am Zambian but not Christian (or anything) and as such do I not constitute a part of Zambia's identity? I support Chipolopolo and drink Mosi, do these also not constitute part of our national identity? Why should I be excluded from our nation based on my religious beliefs? I may enjoy full political rights, equality before the law, equal social rights. But in the constitution I would be second class because in just one case I would be excluded, and excluded on a point of contribution to the nation and it is through contributing that I enjoy my rights (at least in my mind). If I do not contribute equally with my compatriots I am not equal to them. Is it possible for us to be equal if some of us are excluded?

    Proposition 4: If I drive any car I want it does not mean I will not talk to my neighbour or be a nice person. It may be culturally important to Zambia that 'we' are a Christian nation; but Islam has been present a lot longer and has also had an effect, should we not also nurture this part of our culture equally? It is possible to be moral without a religious basis. There is no doubt that culture must be kept but the thing about culture is that it changes over time, often going in different directions to what we would expect; it makes no sense to try and constrain future generations with 'our' definition of a just society. Culture is not dependent on state support and thrives in spite of it, if we look at the USSR where the state supported Lithuanian culture we see a very poor quality of cultural output(really bad books, though some gems). Britain also protects its culture and does not give preference to the CofE because it aknowledges that while Anglican beliefs are important to its cultural basis so are many other aspects, such as the monarchy or literature. It would make as much sense for Britain to declare itself Shakespearean in order to protect its culture as it does for Zambia to be a Christian nation.


    My feelings are that we are talking about the nature of the State and not society or political parties when we write a constitution. If people wish for a Christian outlook then let them elect a Christian party to power that will govern in accordance with Christian principles but that will be bound by a constitution that provides for the physcial and intellectual/mental/psychological wellbeing of all citizens. The relationship between a Christian and God has always been personal, it is about your soul. God will grant you his grace based on your life, he does not require you to make your polity Christian, he merely requires your faith.

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  59. Richard,

    Thank you for your specific comments. Its the only thing I ask of readers – to focus on substance not go off tangent.

    ”Proposition 1: To not declare ourselves a Christian nation would indeed be to say that the state is secular. Mathew 22:20 states 'Render unto Ceasar the things which are Caeasr's'. This has long been interpretted as saying that there is a seperation between what the state does and what God does...”

    You are confusing the issue. What I say in Proposition 1 is that there are no neutral propositions. To say you are secular is the same as to say you anti-Christian. This is simple logic and accords well with Christian Orthodox teaching on “belief” propositions.

    As a separate point, your quote of Matt 22:20 is out of context. It deals with how believers relate to the State – it does not prevent a group of people coming together to subject themselves DEMOCRATICALLY under the Lordship of Christ.

    ”Proposition 2: Benign state secularism is neutral in the sense that it does not privilege one faith over another nor does it seek to suppress faith. It leaves the choice to individuals and social groups while keeping the potentially dangerous topic of religion out of national politics. It may not be neutral from a belief system point of view but state secularism is neutral from the point of view that it will neither support nor oppose anyone”

    I have addressed this point already – and you need to challenge my reasoning directly, which you don’t. I repeat :

    Whichever brand of secularism one would have Zambia hold, it is clear that a secular position is not a “neutral” position. To say you believe in a secular state with secular values and identity is simply to acknowledge that you have a way of life that you follow – and therefore in its own way, a form of religious worship. By declaring itself a secular state, Zambia would therefore be making a positive assertion about its beliefs and identity, not a neutral one. We must acknowledge that both secular and Christian declarations are non-neutral propositions. It is also worth pointing out the blindingly obvious – no serious philosopher believes in inherent “neutrality”. There’s nothing like a neutral view of life or any position. All reasoning is inherently non- neutral because it is circular. We all have “priors” which affects how we draw logical deductions and those priors are non-neutral because they are not supported by external validation.

    You seem to create a false dichotomy between “belief” and “behaviour” which I don’t hold. All actions are derived from an inherent worldview or belief system.
    Separately you say:

    ”I would believe in a state that embraces the ideal that all of its citizens are free to hold any views they like (obviously with the exception of extreme views like racism)and in which the state does not try and push an ideological agenda, that is up to political parties. “

    No one is proposing to ban other religions. We are saying that Zambia is making a DEMOCRATIC declaration of what it regards as the principles and values it wishes to be guided by. It is that what you need to challenge.

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  60. ”Proposition 3: I answered this to some extent before. I am Zambian but not Christian (or anything) and as such do I not constitute a part of Zambia's identity? I support Chipolopolo and drink Mosi, do these also not constitute part of our national identity? Why should I be excluded from our nation based on my religious beliefs?”

    Again there’s confusion here. No one is rejecting your identity. We all hold many opinions on many issues. We are here asking what is our general identity as a people and how should that affect how we go forward? The Constitution protects your rights – you are sounding like tomorrow you will stop drinking Mosi or you will be forced to attend Church. That is not what the Declaration is about.

    The key here is DEMOCRATIC process. We all have many visions for Zambia, but what is vital is that the future of Zambia reflects the will of the majority, minus the tyranny. Declaring Zambia a secular State violates the will of the majority.

    Proposition 4: If I drive any car I want it does not mean I will not talk to my neighbour or be a nice person. It may be culturally important to Zambia that 'we' are a Christian nation; but Islam has been present a lot longer and has also had an effect, should we not also nurture this part of our culture equally?

    This is confusing. I am surprised you even challenge Proposition 4. Your question is meaningless because Proposition 3 already deals with that.

    ”It is possible to be moral without a religious basis”

    Absolutely NOT!

    The reason is actually quite simple – to have morality you need OBJECTIVE moral values. OBJECTIVE standards are always external to the natural order. In other words HUMAN BEINGS cannot generate morality because it is not morality if it is decided by ME. Also if I decide what is moral and you decide what is moral, how do we know who is RIGHT?

    As Nicholas Wolterstorff has demonstrated, without a theistic framework even the very notion of justice is meaningless. For on what basis can anyone be just without an external moral law giver?

    One man’s right will always be another man’s wrong.

    SO to have morality it requires EXTERNALLY generated standards. By EXTERNAL I mean outside our PHYSICAL UNIVERSE.

    I urge to serious think through these important questions. It is now acceptable by main philosophers that MORALITY can be internally generated by definition.

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  61. A correction to the last sentence :

    I urge to seriously think through these important questions. They will change how you view the world. It is now accepted by main philosophers that MORALITY cannot be internally generated by definition.

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  62. 'To say you are secular is the same as to say you [are] anti-Christian.'

    This is not true, to say I am a militant atheist is to say I am anti Christian and even that is wide of the mark as I would then be anti all religion. I am saying I am opposed to a publicly stated government position on religion. Secularism is not opposed to religion, as the OED puts it (definition 1 is the relevant one): 'denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis'. According to this secular just means dealing with what is of the world and the constitution of a country is most definitely worldly, it does not say it is anti Christian. By focusing on the world the government is neutral on religious matters, it simply does not go there, it allows people to choose, it teaches all sides in school and lets people decide for themselves.

    My quote is a little out of context, perhaps John 18:36 may be more relevant. I was merely making the point that in order to be Christian you do not need a Christian state, and according to a prominent strain of Christian thought for the last 2000 years (Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Gregory VII) it is detrimental to Christianity to be involved in politics.

    Article 144 of part VII quoted in your article would seem to indicate Christianity becoming a state ideology. It is the part about 'promoting Christian values' that worries me as it could be interpreted very liberally. And judging by the legal gymnastics our governments engage in it is not unreasonable to expect some creative applications of this article.
    Very well: this constitution is inherently undemocratic. It has been managed by the party and its government from day one, they have made it very hard to include the opinions of the people, especially by refusing a referendum (one would think we would want one as the constitution is the single most important thing in Zambia, it makes Zambia). The creation of the NCC also stripped away any vestige of democracy as it included undemocratically appointed unelected members. I know the site is meant to be non-partisan but it is not partisan to point out the obvious.
    So the decision to make Zambia a Christian nation is not democratic, it is imposed. It may be in line with people's desires but unless they are asked it is not democratic.

    The constitution may reflect the will of the majority, but the majority in what area? The majority of our people are poor and uneducated, still mostly rural and very young. Does the constitution reflect these realities of Zambia? Hardly. Does it address the desire for electricity or for more childrent to survive to their fifth birthdays? No, so saying it answers the will of the majority rings hollow; it is the elite who are writing this consitution earning points.

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  63. Proposition 4 is problematic because of all of the other elements that are as important in determining Zambian culture such as pre-Christian thought, our history and ethnic makeup. Why choose Christianity over these as THE definition? It is obviously not the definition because there are many Zambians who do not behave in a Christian manner; we are simply Zambian and that may incude Christianity but is not determined by it.

    As for the assertion that I cannot be moral because I have no religion I am at a loss for words. I have always tried to avoid harming another based on the principle that I would not like it done to me; that belief requires no religion, just knowing thyself. I am quite satisfied with my morality as it means I am predisposed to judgement of my fellow man, I can judge them based on their human merits; if there is a god I am unable to judge their spiritual worth because only god could.

    As for state religion: I feel that something pressing that has not been addressed is the problem of what has happened throughout history when religion has been brought into politics. Here I refer to the Thirty years war, the German peasant's revolt, the conquest of the Americas, Russification in the Baltics, England after the reformation, the USSR (where it was state atheism, a form of belief whereas secularism is the absence of any belief); the list is endless and simply highlights the dangers of adding something as explosive as religion into the mix. Even the US had the contend with the Mormons and violence against Natives and Blacks based on religion. We have already had religious violence in Zambia (the Lumpas and a lovely riot I got caught up in on Cairo Road outside the big church by the south end roundabout) and I wonder if it would best to avoid even the slightest possibility of us having to contend with charismatics trying to evangelise the state or even creeping discrimination against other faiths. The constitution may not provide for these but its translation into practice has to be borne in mind.

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  64. Richard,

    A couple of points. I think we are getting a few points confused here.

    1. The question is whether it is intellectually  defensible to declare Zambia a Christian nation. I have shown that it is provided the process is  DEMOCRATIC.

    2. You have argued that the process is not democratic. You should know very well from all the posts on this website that I agree with you - but that does not violate the PRINCIPAL argument. Me and you agree that the declaration can only be applied through democratic means. 

    3. Separately you argue from John 18:36 from Jesus's response. Careful exegesis would reveal that the context is DESCRIPTIVE not PRESCRIPTIVE. Jesus is responding to Pilate on specific charges. That verse does not prevent nations from coming together and to ask to be guided by biblical principles. In fact I would go further - the bible does not forbid a Constantine figure. If you read early Church history e.g the Cappadocian Fathers you will see great support for such arrangements. But of course I  am not proposing that. 

    4. Your appeal to the Reformed tradition (Luther, Calvin) is fascinating, but limited. Nicholas Wolterstorff has shown us that properly understood the Reformers had a broader view of Church and State. It was after all the Puritans who argued to clean politics in England. In the Puritans we see Church & State embrace. My point is that we can all argue anything from tradition. What is important is to reach our own conclusions.

    5. Secularism - I have been clear. That which does not declare Lordship to Christ is by definition anti-Christ. That is what ST John days. 

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  65. On the issue of neutrality you seem to be saying that either you are religious or you are not. This is largely true(there are some mystical people somewhere in the middle). So in that sense being secular would make us non religious in our state but does not mean society is not religious. Secularism, however, is a 'no comment' situation in which we say we are simply not going there and will give people the option to chose personally with complete freedom. In that case I fail to see how Christianity is attacked.

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  66. On MORALITY :

    I fear you have misunderstood me : 

    As for the assertion that I cannot be moral because I have no religion I am at a loss for words.

    That is not what I said. I said you can't have internally generated objective moral values - because objective morality logically demands moral law - which in turn  implies the need for a moral law giver.

    I  have always tried to avoid harming another based on the principle that I would not like it done to me; that belief requires no religion, just knowing thyself

    As per above, I am not saying you have no principles. I am just saying we cannot know whether that golden rule is 'moral' with external validation.

    I hope that makes sense. 

    if there is a god I am unable to judge their spiritual worth because only god could.

    That is interesting! Yes and No.
    God being the moral law giver of course is the ultimate judge of himself because he has a greater information set. 

    But God through the Bible (special revelation) and creation (general revelation) had revealed his divine moral standard. That is your basis on which you apprehend God's moral structure. Romans 1 makes all this clear.

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  67. On NEUTRALITY.

    Perhaps let me explain it like this :

    This discussion is really about RIGHTS TO A PUBLIC VISION OF OUR COUNTRY.

    You hold those rights are NEUTRAL - I hold they are not.

    Rights by nature are ZERO SUM games. WHEN I forbid PUBLIC WORSHIP I discriminate. When I allow it, I also discriminate against those offended by seeing public prayers.

    Same with the DECLARATION.

    My point is if there are Zambians who want to be guided by Biblical principles and they shown to be in the majority through a democratic process, forbidding the declaration is not only an offence but it undermines nationhood and the essence of development.

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  68. 1. The US should give us a good example of a case where one can declare a loose religious allegiance; this is far more defensible than being explicit. If you are approaching this matter from a Christian perspective it is defensible, if you come from my perspective it is not. I know I will have to submit to the will of the NCC/GRZ/MMD.

    2. I am aware we are in accord on some things and this is good. But the democratic process does not validate anything. While I know there are large differences in context I will use the obvious example of the election of Hitler: it was democratic but does that make it right? At times democracy can fail spectacularly and when it does fail it tends to be worse than when tyranny fails. I am ambivalent on the merits of democracy as our new best friends China demonstrate a remarkable ability to get things done without it while the US is very able to do horrible things in the name of democracy. In effect it is not the system that makes the country good but its people.

    3. It may be a specific case and nowhere is there a prescription on building a Christian nation. I am just wondering whether, if we are going to follow Christ's life, we need to do things he did not do nor advocate. It seems to be an idea concieved of by man to prove to other men that he is pious. I am saying that from the point of view of a Christian (and I have studied an awful lot of religion at universtiy, the things studying the Reformation will do to you) it is not neccessary so why do it? It could be said to smack of hubris because surely only God could make a nation Christian just as he made the Jewish nation Jewish. Your argument seems to be: why not take it further because there is no prohibition? In this case it may be relatively harmless but it is a dangerous principle to embrace.

    4. I am currently studying the Reformation, both the Protestant and Catholic. It would appear that the overall trend on the continent was towards seperation. England was very unique in the formation of its Church and politics was accordingly unique, it remains the odd child of Europe. I also mentioned Pope Gregory VII who thought that the State would contaminate the church; as did most monastic orders who withdrew from the world. There is thus a very rich tradition on both sides arguing against the mixing of religion and the state. The majority of historical arguments seem to confirm that while some have always wanted the association of church and state (and these tend to be secular(in this sense worldly) peoplee) there is a strong current right up to the present advoacating seperation. On that point it is interesting to note that our established churches do not seem very keen on the Christian nation, it is the Charismatics. If they are the ones who want it they are also the ones who will exploit the declaration the most and we will see one brand thrive at another's expense. Again I refer to history to give us an indication of how well that works.

    5. Your definition of secularism is a Christian one and not one in the Oxford dictionary, hence we will have to agree to disagree. I know it is a lost cause, and hopefully moot now as the bill was rejected and a revision may drop the declaration.

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  69. Banning public worship is not a neccesary component of secularism, it is not offensive to most atheists. Ensuring equal freedom for all faiths to worship publicly would be a secular priority. At the same time giving atheists the right to 'proselytise' would be a secular concern. See? The secular government is not prohibiting one or the other, it shows no favour. In schools it does not exclude religion but rather teaches about all religions and discusses the critiques dispassionately so that people will learn ABOUT the other views rather than just learning that they are wrong. The secular government would enable its people to chose their beliefs, something that Article VII may not do when it says the state should use every means to promote the Christian identity. It allows all to enjoy their freedoms and avoids making some uncomfortable as the declaration will.
    When using your definition of secular and neutral, an inherently Christian definition, all of these points fade away and we come against the wall of faith which cannot be penetrated. Using that very specific definition that anything that is not 100% and explicitly Christian is therefore anti-Chrisitan (really inflexible, but such is religious thought. And that is a fearsome thing as it can be used to justify almost anything. I understand that YOU may not want to stone me as an infidel but what is to say one of your more enthusiastic Christian brethren will not use the shield of scripture to kill me? And then claim that yes, he killed a person, but that person was evil because he denied Christ. Tell me that is not possible in our courts) means that we have to drop the argument because I am the first to admit that I cannot beat faith with reason, I've been trying with my grandmother for years.

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  70. I DO generate my moral laws internally. When I got hit in the playground I didn't like it. Generally I decided not to get hit again by hitting people first, as I matured I figured out that I didn't need to do so, I should take the hits and chose for myself that I would not inflict pain on others. How is this not internally generated?

    I get your point on external validation, I just think it is unneccessary. I am capable of behaving in a way that is harmless and viruous(the jury is out on both of those) without the need for external validation. Any external validation I need comes from my fellow man who will through many mechanisms tell me I am a good person or a bad person. If I am good I am sufficiently moral. I could always be more moral but in a world which will end when we are swallowed by the sun what good does being very moral do me or anybody? I suppose my lack of belief in an afterlife makes it very hard for me to need validation as everything I do will be erased by time.

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  71. Practical experience says there is a case to be said that religion, or at least Christianity, makes people less moral. It encourages people to take less responsibility for their own actions by focusing on redemption (' it's ok to commit sin because you can be forgiven' )and externally given morality. If people are forced to internally generate their own morality and agree on it by willing consensus, they will likely stand by it more, as opposed to if they have had religion imposed on them by upbringing and culture. History and experience shows that those freer societies which think for themselves tend to be more moral, and vice-versa. We do not need philosophers to tell us this. The inconsistency and hypocrisy of religion usually leads to 'cherry picking' in morality and a lack of reasoning which, again, practical experience shows leads to more immorality. The most religious countries and institutions ( in their proclamations of faith ) tend to be the least religious in terms of actual behaviour. Why for instance are so many Catholic priests child abusers, and why has the Church protected them ?
    In the end, people should be judged by their actions, not their beliefs, and Zambia should focus on practical problems instead of arguing about what is the official religion. In the end, a wealthier and more free thinking Zambia will be a more moral Zambia.
    If humans need faith in a God to be moral, then we will always fall prey to 'false prophets' and war because we will never be thinking for ourselves in a rational manner.

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  72. The essence of wanting to have none of God is the primary reason why anyone should substitute the idea of a creator to self evolution. In short, since man's fall in Eden, he has always sought to be completely independent of any higher authority besides himself. In short fallen mans focus is to convince himself and others that there is no greater moral authority besides himself = sin.

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  73. The essence of sin is self determination. But it is simply unachievable. Man can not determine his fate, man can not realistically be free from moral responsibility whether he knows it or not just as inert beings cannot out of no cause become living beings.

    This whole argument about Evolution and bacteria, ape origin is just an excuse sinners have to prove their right for self determination. Well, the REALITY IS PLAINER THAN THAN ANY DISTORTED ATTEMPT TO CONCEAL TRUTH.

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  74. But true, there is no greater evil (danger) than false religion. But that is no excuse to replace the reality of a creator with self determinist distorted untruths just because of this.

    'Man remains restless until he finds his rest in God' Augustine.

    The Prosperity of Europe in a very real way is partly attributable to their Christian historical values. Now that Christianity is fast ebbing out, there is no telling what could befall them. No standard for morality means no responsibility: These virtues - trust, hard work, faithfulness, honesty, respect, fairness can not be self realized. They are something of the 'image of God in man'.

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  75. And as soon as you attempt to throw God out through the window, what in fact happens is that unless God relents, God forsakes that person, that people, that nation. And soon even as they claim to be wise, they lust and burn after their own kind and do despicable deeds beyond the wildest imagination. See the extent they are prepared to go just to prove that they are free agents! The highest cause of suicide in certain God forsaken countries is failure to marry their own kind - shocking as it is, but in their wisdom justifiable.

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  76. The Sceptic,

    The outward church (religion) has the greatest masqueraders. As paradoxical as it may sound, after my above statements, your position is still simply an excuse to eliminate restrictions to your 'personal self-determinism' philosophy.

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  77. Anonymous, how would you explain the fact that Europe began to truly develop as Religious thought began to recede? How would you explain Europe's current wellbeing when Europe is a very secular and, in many countries, atheist place?
    And it is not 'self-determinism' because as The Sceptic pointed out morality can be derived from the body of society, there is no self there only the rest of humanity. We agree on rules that work for people, we agree on behaviour that best suits us, which can be justified based on human needs and desires. Not a book whose veracity and accuracy is VERY much in doubt.

    I agree with The Sceptic that religion is a great cause of immorality, but atheists can be as immoral. I would be inclined to say that people are ultimately animals and thus no amount of religion or philosophy can truly change us, one man is much like another; I could commit a horendous crime and say that there is no God so I don't care, or I could commit the same crime and say God will forgive or that he wills it. All I would be doing is justifying my actions one way or another. The problem is that Zambia will not be able to get on with practical matters as long as we have people who are essentially intolerant and obstructive(here I do not refer to the established churches who tend to be more reasonable), so we also need to tackle fundamentalism in order to deal with many other matters.
    And wealth and free thinking do not lead to morality: just look at our politicians.

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  78. All good points, what i meant by wealth and free thinking was that a certain minimum standard of living and more equality would lead to a more moral society. The healthiest and happiest societies like Canada and Scandanavian countries tend to show this, even though they are secular now.

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  79. Then we are in agreement, I'm studying in Canada and as far as I can tell they have built one of the best societies on Earth, albeit on the bones of the natives. On the whole they are adequately moral, just somewhat different as old people may not get as much help from strangers in Canada while they would in Zambia but Canadians treat their pets better. There is no doubt that being better educated makes you better able to consider your own morality critically and it is that which makes us more moral, unfortunately my experience of a religious school makes me question how good a religious tinged education is at improving morality.

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  80. Richard,

    'how would you explain the fact that Europe began to truly develop as Religious thought began to recede?'

    You choose to see things from your own perspective. Who says so? Empirical evidence does show that most of the greatest inventions this earth has seen occurred right in the middle of the great awakening. Whatever technological advances we are seeing today, across any divide, can trace its success from that period.

    The problem with your approach is not so much that you cannot see but that you ignore what you see. How can you place man at the same level as an animal? How come I have never heard of a single lion being taken to court for the murder of so many fellow animals? Silly as it may sound, so does your statement.

    The simplicity with which nature is ordered is yet beyond the comprehension of the most astute among men. But simply because a man can breathe, does not mean that he knows it all. The problem that man has is simply spiritual. Put simply, man wants to be God, so that he could determine for himself what is good and bad. But where does he start from?

    Richard, you say 'they are adequately moral' which standard of morality? Yours, from your own high mindedness, or by consensus with others? How do you begin to judge?

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  81. I never knew such an interesting site exists. The levels of analysis are amazingly high though I am of the view that independent free thinking is lacking. WHAT I see are replications of materials accumulated over years of specialized study. I believe the contributors are very intelligent people who are capable of putting their own free thoughts like a new inventor would. I see bigotry at play with contributors dug-in. Isn't development a result of fresh thinking based on fresh ideas MOULDED by old ideas. A Christian nation... if it means a nation guided by Christian Values will not harm anyone because Christianity is quite tolerant of divergent views except for threatening non-believers like me with some eternal punishment. One thing for sure is that such a declaration does not seem to stop the all-powerful from grabbing other peoples' wives and dipping fingers in the treasury...

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  82. To come back to speciation, im sure there are instances, at least in birds, lizards and flies where genetic drift has occurred due to populations isolation over time. As a result the species can no longer breed with each other when they do meet again..

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  83. Dont just speculate. Show us evidence of speciation.

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  84. "Three species of wildflowers called goatsbeards were introduced to the United States from Europe shortly after the turn of the century. Within a few decades their populations expanded and began to encounter one another in the American West. Whenever mixed populations occurred, the specied interbred (hybridizing) producing sterile hybrid offspring. Suddenly, in the late forties two new species of goatsbeard appeared near Pullman, Washington. Although the new species were similar in appearance to the hybrids, they produced fertile offspring. The evolutionary process had created a separate species that could reproduce but not mate with the goatsbeard plants from which it had evolved."

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  85. In animals we have the examples of fruit flies ( Drosphila ) an easier example to prove due to small number of genes and short life span.

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  86. for me what is important is that the politicians do not use public funds to support in any way the prefered religion. no matter how sweet it appears

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  87. Part of the problem we have in Zambia is that we tend to be experts on the history of religion, ethics, philosophy, theology, etc. disciplines which take years and advanced learning to acquire. I am sure an economist would raise issues with a person not trained in economics to pen an statement on economics. I am not saying people not trained in these fields should not express their views, rather try to acquaint themselves with the issues in the discipline. If I am going to argue about economics, at least I should know the difference between GDP and GNP right?

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  88. so, we're talking here about non-scientists arguing about science ?

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  89. i think its not fair to observe one side of a coin and conclude its appearance,its like travelling to france for a day then you come back to zambia and write a journal on the french..GROSS foolishness..philosophy or ideology can not be built on people who in the first place are not open minded,two people who do not even understand the metaphysical relations of science and religion...by the way darwin hard a degree in theology but derived theories based on observations from tiny islands and called it Evolution,Mainstream science disqualifies such thinkers because mainstream scientist appreciated religion and have brought us this far e.g Newton,beethohoven,einstein,galileo..

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  90. The problem is we are arguing about a statement made by a notoriously corrupt President ! Why spend time debating this, why not get on with the practical business of fixing schools, hospitals and roads. Then you might catch up with secular societies !

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