Introduction + Cody's Thread

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Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby Codelios » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:34 am

Hello,

My name is Cody and I wanted to make this post to introduce myself and lay out some thoughts that have been bouncing around my head for a while regarding Christianity.

Hopefully this is the right place for this. There's not too many sections so I think this fits best. I'm thinking that I will use this thread to catalogue some thoughts so I don't fill up the forum. It can also be a place to ask questions to me publicly or respond to whatever I've written. I don't think I need any special rules.


Some very broad strokes about my background:

I didn't grow up very religious but I learned I wasn't baptized around age 12 and decided this was not okay so I did catechism for a while and got baptized. I gave that up pretty quickly though as my brother teased me and honestly I wanted to do things I wasn't supposed to. I pretty clearly remember sitting on my bed and thinking, "Nah, God doesn't exist. I can do whatever".

Around age 14, I got heavily into atheism after reading arguments about really going on the internet for the first time (remember /r/atheism?). I really didn't understand evolution that well but I still would say things like "I don't know how anybody doesn't believe in evolution." I learned a decent amount of arguments against God and had some debates. I was a pretty typical new atheist in high school. Later on, I kinda gave up on atheism as an ideology and while I didn't believe in God, it wasn't like I thought about God much. I was just kind of ignorant of Christianity for a while.

Then in college, I read a book called Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. Its main point is about that we live out a life based on our self-image and that we have the power to change that image. Maltz lists a few bible verses and I was pretty astonished by them. I still am pretty astonished by the words of Jesus in the gospel. Anyway, I read the book and felt like my life was really changing. But I thought that if this book had stuff from the Bible in it, maybe I should go to the Bible and see what it actually says?

So I read the gospels and I was floored. I don't think I had really ever heard the parables of Jesus before. I was astonished at how powerful these stories were and how 'correct' they seemed. I remember meeting up with a buddy and telling him about the saying Jesus has about the beam and the mote and he was astonished as well.

So I kept reading the Bible and also watching videos. I had the goal of finding a church to start going to. I found one and started attending pretty regularly. I met with a pastor often but I was still doubting a lot. He encouraged me to 'jump in', so I did. I got baptized again and became a Christian at age 20.

It wasn't too long before I would just start to doubt. I would read articles like '50 sciences creationists have to deny' if they want to be YEC etc. etc.

After about a year, my church attendance slowed down and then I just stopped going. I couldn't even make myself go since I couldn't get myself to believe.

I don't want to make it seem like I didn't do anything to keep my faith, I met with many people and asked a ton of questions, but ultimately I just wasn't motivated to keep searching or too tempted to do things I shouldn't.

Anyway, here I am back again 'knocking', 'searching', 'seeking', whatever you want to call it. I want to figure out what the truth is. I want to do what's best. Knowing myself, I can't leave any stone unturned. I think I need a really deep seed if something is going to remain within me.

I have a tendency to take things to extremes and to give up on things quickly. I'm also pretty impulsive by temperament. In addition, I'm very 'open' to new ideas, meaning I'm very much willing to change my mind if something seems better. But the openness combined with impulsiveness leads to a very hectic lifestyle where I change life philosophies too often to really ever get my bearings and build something.

So this makes me believe that if I'm going to figure something out, I need to work really hard and hammer out every question so I don't regress.

So many bible verses are coming to my mind right now: counting the cost, the seed that withered because it wasn't deep enough, etc. etc. They make so much sense, but there's something dangerous about wanting to believe I think. I think wanting to believe is a way to delude yourself and being rational creatures, we recognize we have deluded ourselves and then stop believing.

I don't want to do that so I almost have to not want to believe, even though I do, at least some part of me does, the part that is writing this at least.
Codelios
 
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby Codelios » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:46 am

Okay, this is my second post and this is going to be a meta-post about searching for the truth and what the correct thing to do is.

I think I need to make a plan. One of the issues with dealing with these very abstract and metaphysical questions like does God exist or is there an afterlife or will we be judged or "Is Jesus God" is that not only are these questions complex and hard to understand on their own, but we also have to figure out the answers to these questions while we are in the world. It's not like we are floating out in the aether pondering existence. No, we have bills to pay, work to do, relationships to maintain, food to buy, homes to clean, etc. etc.

Therefore, I need to come up with some system, and maybe others will have good ideas about how I can *break down* this issue. Because lumping these issues into a single big issue is grounds for procrastination. It's just too hard to answer all of the questions I have at once. So I'll sit down at the computer ready to do research and have no idea where to begin and then probably end up doing something else because it doesn't seem that real to me.

Earlier I've thought about making plans like these but I've never made them public. I wonder if that will make a difference.

I think the first issue I need to tackle is evolution which is very fitting seeing as we are here at creationevolutionuniversity.com. Even that seems like too big of a topic to handle though, so I might need to break that down even further.

Here are some initial questions about evolution:

Did humans evolve from single celled organisms over millions of years?
Or in other words, is the general story that scientists tell us today correct? Can we put a probability on it being correct?
Is evolution even theoretically possible?
Is it possible that there is another explanation for our origins, e.g. creation?
How much can we really know about evolution?
How could such a complex organism such as a human or even a rabbit come about through mere recombination of DNA and mutation?
How could the first single cellular organism or DNA come about?
How can organisms vary a lot laterally e.g. all the different species of dogs, but all that variation works and doesn't cause bugs in the system? (Obviously there are some)
Is there something scientists are missing or some reason to believe that they are being untrustworthy?

Okay, so after laying out some initial questions with evolution I'm off to the races. My next step is to try to read about and understand evolution and take note of all the questions I have.

To Do:
* Purchase a popular book on evolution and read it, taking notes (Ordered Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne)
* Come back here and share my thoughts
Codelios
 
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby stcordova » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:14 am

Thanks so much for reaching out.

Actually this is a perfect place for you and I to interact as there usually aren't that many people here.

Also, since you are the thread author, you can choose who and who cannot participate.

I will respond some more when I have time. I will be praying for you.

Thank you for also for this exchange in public. Perhaps others will be blessed to read what we write!
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby stcordova » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:23 am

Actually I just realized who you are when you mentioned Maltz book. It was one of my favorite. I also recall I figured out your question on Gambler's ruin. It actually has relevance to making decisions with incomplete and often confusing information.

It's good to be skeptical. It's a quality I valued in people who worked for me. It begins with being skeptical of our own knowledge and ability. We have a mix of both confidence and skepticism.

I will write more, but I read what you wrote, and perhaps after some sleep I can give you some better thoughts.

God be with you.
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby Codelios » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:04 am

Hey thanks for the reply Sal. I'm surprised you remember our chat!

I remember our conversation and I'm still interested in that idea.

In fact, I made the decision to err on the side of God existing while I search this out and try not to sin. Pascal's wager is actually a really rational argument when it comes down to it. I basically am split on the God issue and being split, I should err on the side of caution if I am going to be rational.

So I'm cutting out some obvious sins and generally trying to do better. If you could pray for me that I could keep my momentum and motivation going, I would appreciate it. As I said before, I tend to lose interest in things pretty quickly.

I remember you're pretty focused on molecular biology. I did some reading today on sexual reproduction and gene recombination. I wanted to understand how variation in genes work, because I find it pretty profound how much animals are able to adapt to their environment while also keeping their base structure / staying functional. I wonder how it is that that process is intelligent enough to change things that are changeable but leave core structures intact.

I want to learn more about gene recombination though. I still don't have the best mental model on how it works exactly. I'm a software engineer so I think if I come at this from the genetic side, I'll have some confidence in figuring out if evolution is true or not.

That book on evolution will be coming soon too so I'll be learning about it from a high level view in addition to kind of sporadic reading on the topic.

Also, it's pretty cool we are doing this publicly. It will be a nice record of our discourse for ourselves and others.

God be with you as well.
Codelios
 
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby stcordova » Fri Jan 11, 2019 2:57 pm

I commend your interest in the creation evolution controversy. As far as time spent learning, with your level of ability, rather than creationist books, I suggest a path of learning a little biochemistry.

A typical University Course in Biochem would be 1600 hours of study involving lectures and homework and reading in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry. But most of what you need for Creation/Evolution can be learned in about 1% of that time or 16 hours of study, unless of course you become a chemist or biologist or medical doctor.

I'm starting a 12-minute weekly biochem lesson on reddit with some videos. I can cross post it here at Creation Evolution sometime, but you can see them here:

www.reddit.com/r/CreationistStudents

For creationists, I actually recommend studying 100 parts biochem and 1 part evolutionary literature. As I think evolutionary literature is most persuasive the more ignorant someone is of biochemistry and mathematics and physics and engineering. The more one studies biochem and engineering, the more persuasive the case for design becomes. That's just my view. :D
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby stcordova » Fri Jan 11, 2019 3:05 pm

Regarding gambler's ruin and wagering beyond the Kelly Criterion, as in wagering EVERYTHING on an outcome, you were concerned that this leads absolutely to gambler's ruin.

That is ONLY the case if there are repeated trials. As the number of trials approach infinity, wagering everything with each trial, even if you have an edge in Expected Value, you'll hit ruin. But if you only have one life to live, ruin isn't inevitable, at least mathematically speaking.

Look at it this way, say you have only a 1% chance of winning, but the payoff is infinite. Let's say you go to such a hypothetical casino and place a wager. 99% of the time you lose, but 1% of the time you win infinity. So let's say on your first try you win infinity. Well, you decide you want more, like infinity X10! :mrgreen: So you wager everything again. Well, from basic probability, the probability of success becomes 1% raised to the Nth power where N is the number of trials. As N grows large the probability of success becomes effectively zero:

P(Success) = 1% ^ N = 0 as N approaches an infinite number of trials

or equivalently

P(Ruin) = 1 - 1% ^ N = 100% as N approaches an infinite number of trials.

The moral of the story. If you get the big jackpot by getting into heaven, don't make Pascal's wager again! Thankfully the Christian God won't let you make the wager again anyway.
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby stcordova » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:36 am

Did humans evolve from single celled organisms over millions of years?
Or in other words, is the general story that scientists tell us today correct? Can we put a probability on it being correct?
Is evolution even theoretically possible?
Is it possible that there is another explanation for our origins, e.g. creation?
How much can we really know about evolution?
How could such a complex organism such as a human or even a rabbit come about through mere recombination of DNA and mutation?
How could the first single cellular organism or DNA come about?
How can organisms vary a lot laterally e.g. all the different species of dogs, but all that variation works and doesn't cause bugs in the system? (Obviously there are some)
Is there something scientists are missing or some reason to believe that they are being untrustworthy?




Since you have a computer science background I think I can show you how some of the probabilities could be calculated. They are astronomical. You'll have to study a few of my biochem courses, maybe about 4 of the 12-minute lessons I'm posting on reddit r/CreationistStudents. I'll make the next two lessons oriented toward teaching you how some of the probabilities could be calculated.
stcordova
 
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby Codelios » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:27 pm

Just wanted to make a quick post to show I'm still here.

I've been reading and taking notes 'Why Evolution is True' by Jerry Coyne and I have a thought I'd like to express.

A lot of the evidence for evolution is not really evidence for molecules to man. It's more evidence that species change over time and adapt to their environments. For example, Coyne writes that there are birds that have lost the ability to fly but they always have remnants of wings. This is evidence of vestigial structures and thus evolution.

I agree it's evidence of micro-evolution. Animals vary genetically and natural selection is a real thing. However, he makes the argument of something like "Why would God make birds have wings and then let them become useless? Therefore there was no creation and there was no God." It doesn't take a genius to retort here. A very reasonable response would be God created birds with wings which had a purpose in flying but also gave them the ability to adapt to their environment. So there's no contradiction.

Also, atheists often say that they can point to poor design as evidence against a God who created the world, but also state that you can't argue that the universe was designed because we don't know what good design is, objectively.

It's a little disheartening that there is so much support for evolution because it's such an antithesis to God and theism. If evolution is true, there is no top-down definition of human nature. Therefore, there's no definition of what a 'good' human is. If God exists and created humans, then we have an end and we have a good to shoot for, which makes life a lot more bearable because we have meaning and purpose.

I've personally decided to live as if God exists and believe in him until strongly proven otherwise. Basically I'm invoking Pascal's Wager but it's not as if I don't think there's a good chance God exists because I do. I have strong intuitions towards it but I don't necessarily have all the reasons and evidence to support that belief.
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Re: Introduction + Cody's Thread

Postby stcordova » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:35 am

Actually there are reasons God would make designs that eventually break down. It's a good reminder to humans that they aren't God, and given that so many evolutionary biologists think they know better than God how to run the universe, I think it's good that God humble them by making them mortal in a universe which they are incapable of correcting themselves.. The birds and other creatures going extinct is a sign of God's curse on the world because of Adam's sin.

God made it possible for Adam to sin so that Adam could express his true love of God based on free will. True love after all isn't something that is forced on anyone, but is a free choice.

May God grant you the faith you are seeking. Feel free to keep visiting!

I hope you'll look at some of my biochemistry lessons.
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