The Designed Body

by Brad Nelson   3/11/15

Howard Glickman is in the middle of publishing a weekly series (called “The Designed Body”) about cell basics over at Evolution News & Views (associated with Stephen Meyer’s Discovery Institute). I can’t find a page where these article are organized, so I’ve provided the links below, starting with the first in the series and ending with the latest as of 3/11/15:

How the Body Works: Intelligent Design in Action

Each Cell in Your Body is a Walled City Besieged by Enemies

Diffusion and Osmosis: Twin Perils in the Life of the Cell

Pumping for Life: What the Sodium-Potassium Pump Accomplishes

Enzymes and Their Dynamic Role in the Cell

This is an interesting primer that doesn’t go too fast for a layman such as myself. By the time you get to the fourth one (about the sodium-potassium pump), it becomes quite apparent that a cell could not spontaneously assemble itself by chance.

I’m sure you all know the standard just-so story from neo-Darwinists about the right chemistry finding itself inside a naturally-occurring cell-wall structure of some kind and — boom — you then have a cell. Well, there are millions of sodium-potassium pumps in a real cell wall just to keep the cell chemistry at a level that is workable and to keep the cell itself from exploding from naturally absorbing too much water via osmosis.

I’ll continue to add links to the weekly articles as they are published.


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I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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29 Responses to The Designed Body

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, I looked at the second item (on cell structure); this has been an extremely bad day for Internet access (I consider it remarkable, and no doubt a disappointment to the malevolent monkeys infesting Microsoft IT, that I didn’t have a stroke), so it was late before I got the chance. I notice that the internal material is now considered a solution instead of (when I studied biology) cytoplasm. There probably is little real difference beyond terminology. I assume the purpose of this particular piece is to set things up for the later articles.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      When you get internet access again, it might be worth reading. The article notes that “cytosol” is the name for the fluid inside the cell.

      The author notes that the plasma membrane (the cell wall) serves to separate the two different solutions (the other being what is outside the cell wall) from each other. Outside it is too salty for the cell. Inside it is higher in potassium and protein.

      Yes, this is definitely setting up the next couple of articles. Where it goes from here, I don’t know.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I have access, it’s just been very sluggish at best.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I think everyone’s internet goes in and out at times. We joke about it around here because it happens often enough (especially with email). We assume it’s s some kind of attack by al Qaeda. Ya never know.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I read the last 2 items, and also found them interesting. We had some of this in high-school biology; for example, I recall that osmotic pressure can be useful in killing bacteria (which are prokaryotic cells, without organelles). This is why people gargle with salt water. The difficulties of eukaryotic cells in dealing with sodium-potassium imbalances was definitely NOT something that came up (in fact, the terminology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes came later).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The essays get better as you go.

      The natural law working here is that the more you know about biology, the more you can see how stunningly complex it is. When the cell was but a giant grey area of formless “protoplasm,” it was easy to imagine Darwin’s theory could work. But the integrated systems, multilayered networks, and highly fine-tuned micro-machines make a joke out of the model of mutations/natural selection. These things were designed.

  3. GHG says:

    Nice bite sized chunks, easily digestible. Building blocks of understanding.

  4. Bell Phillips says:

    My life has been pretty rotten over the past several years, and I have begun to really question my religious upbringing (Baptist). Lately, I have started to lean very hard in the deist direction.

    During all of this, though, I have only solidified my conviction that we are not here by accident. Every time I learn something new about biology and medicine, I am more and more astounded that anyone (particularly anyone educated in those fields) could possibly swallow the absurdity that life as we know it is other than designed.

    As to the designer, it’s hard to make solid arguments about that, but it definitely wasn’t entropy.

    • GHG says:

      Bell, while both deism and theism check the designer box, the divide is the purpose for which all of this was created – either it’s an impersonal chemistry experiment or the creator wants a relationship with us. I think the answer to that question lies in the difference between human beings and the rest of creation – the “beings” part. We have something that the rest of creation doesn’t have – a consciousness to not only be aware of ourselves, but also right/wrong, love, beauty, truth. These are relational aspects found only in human beings, they’re not found or needed in fish or trees or any other created thing. For me, this is evidence that the creator endowed us with this special thing for the purpose of having a relationship with us.

      I hope this didn’t come across as holier than thou or that I’m Mr. Answer Man. I wouldn’t be able to know your experiences even if you were to tell me in words as best you could and the experiences that led me to believe what I wrote may not resonate with you, so I wouldn’t presume to think I can wave my magic words over you and you’ll turn back toward Jesus. But I hope you do.

      • Bell Phillips says:

        “either it’s an impersonal chemistry experiment or the creator wants a relationship with us” – this might be the most succinct expression of my present quandary possible.

        I know a lot of people turn to God as a source of strength to get them through the tough times in life. I’m quite the other way – when things are going good, I tend to be thankful to God for my blessings, and when things go bad, I ask “why are you doing this to me?”

        When you start asking that question, the potential explanations are often pretty uncomfortable. Is God powerless to do anything? Is He not good, and in fact capricious? Did He exit the scene long ago (dead, moved on to other things, whatever)? Is it somehow for my own good or part of a bigger plan? Or is that just rationalization? Is He simply not interested? Do I just not understand the situation? Am I being punished? What did I do that is so much worse than any one else?

        As to not understanding the situation, that’s almost certainly true. But I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the things I’ve been taught, and sometimes, like for most of the last 10 years or so, it looks like those things I’ve been taught might be wrong. So I’m left asking what the true nature of God is. (This is a good time to note that I know I’m not the first and probably not the last to ask. And also that a truly definitive answer is unlikely forthcoming. And that it’s one of the major themes of this web site.)

        Deism is a position that is not opposed by any of my observations and I don’t feel any reason to challenge. It also represents a “minimum feature list” for an entity that might be called “God.”

        On the other hand, the shepherd from Psalm 23 doesn’t really jibe with what I see here on the ground. Yet I still can’t dismiss the Biblical picture altogether. If for no other reason than the overwhelming success of Christian morals and ethics. Atheists don’t have that going for them. Buddhists, tribal religions, ancient Greeks, etc, might – but I don’t know enough about them to say just how unique Christianity is in that regard.

        I’d like to say “in conclusion…”, but I can’t. So I’ll just go back to reading and hoping that someone will say something that just clicks for me.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          When you start asking that question, the potential explanations are often pretty uncomfortable. Is God powerless to do anything? Is He not good, and in fact capricious? Did He exit the scene long ago (dead, moved on to other things, whatever)? Is it somehow for my own good or part of a bigger plan? Or is that just rationalization? Is He simply not interested? Do I just not understand the situation? Am I being punished? What did I do that is so much worse than any one else?

          Good questions and observations. A plausible explanation is something like, “God is not my butler. My job is to share in God’s nature.”

          Real Christians ought to act like St. Francis, not like those who go to church once a week to listen to groovy progressive music and back-slap each other about how “tolerant” and “inclusive” they all are. What I understand is that to be a Christian means to figuratively carry your own cross. God is not there to be your butler. He’s there to provide an overall template and presence to join with (err…at-one-ment).

          The world itself is highly deistic and obviously so. It’s wound up and plays out as it plays out. You can be good all your life and still be run down by a bus. The laws of nature run with clockwork precision and don’t give a crap about you. That’s real.

          But that may not be all there is. There are two extremes on this scale of “WTF?” in regards to the inherent (and it is inherent) harshness of the world. One is a universal sort of deism, where there is no interaction of any kind with the Creator, not even second-hand with a person drawing inspiration and direction (through prayer or otherwise). The other is somewhat like the nutso religion of Islam where not a bloody thing happens that is not “Allah’s will.”

          The reality is likely something in between, that we live in a clockwork universe that also has a direct line to the Creator. To read too much into day-to-day events is crazy-making. To read nothing at all into them is crazy-making. To know what involves inspiration and what involves coincidence is rarely certain and normally a matter of what we want to read into things. But maybe if we remove our proverbial pacifiers from out mouths and treat the idea of a Creator seriously, and ourselves as co-creators seriously, it all makes a little bit of sense.

          Life is an exposition, in part. But it’s also built with purpose, in part. And for reality to not be just a glorified ant farm or chemistry experiment, it means adopting the tone “I am not a victim. I am a player.” Beyond that, who the hell knows?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Fredric Brown, a superb writer of mysteries and science fiction, once made the point that although nto himself religious, he nevertheless admired “whirling dervishes” and the like. His view was that if you really do believe in any religion, it should be the focus of your life. He was critical, therefore, of those who are really mere pretenders, treating religion as more of a social affair.

            Oddly, Brown periodically included religious references in his stories, including a scene in the mystery Knock Three-One-Two involving Satan and a minion discussing the temptation one of the main characters was about to receive. In one short story, a man offers a skeptic a bet that his skepticism isn’t total — and when the man takes him up on it, he writes up an agreement offering the skeptic the amount of the bet in return for his soul, to be used as the new owner would wish.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              he nevertheless admired “whirling dervishes” and the like. His view was that if you really do believe in any religion, it should be the focus of your life. He was critical, therefore, of those who are really mere pretenders, treating religion as more of a social affair.

              Hey, I can relate. No one likes a holier-than-thou. And people are very attuned to those who take religion no deeper than a social function. Believe as you wish, but don’t try to fool me with your BS, many surely think. And this has nothing at all to do with hypocrisy which has become a modern ramped-up Leftist attack on religion. The ol’ Alinsky tactic. Use people’s own standards against them. (There is every possibility that evil wends its way in and through the Left.)

              All people are sinners. And if one is a sinner, one belongs in church. Therefore church will contain a lot of sinners. Only ignoramuses (or Leftists and atheists) can’t figure this out, or pretend they can’t figure this out.

              So what I’m talking about is what Fredric Brown is talking about. Yeah, if you believe in your religion, then it ought to have some real effect on a person. I think St. Francis, for example, actually believed in his religion. And mirroring the Catholic idea of the necessity of both belief and acts, he mixed both to near earthly perfection.

              Not everyone can be a St. Francis. In fact, I would said that the truly good Christians and Jews out there aren’t trumping their goodness to everyone. They are very quietly going about the business of their faith. Although history is full of many saints whose blood ran hot with holy passioin, there are likely equally as many stories of saints whose sainthood was not established by being a metaphorical whirling dervish — full of religious fever and enthusiasm.

              I believe it is typical, if not the majority status, that a pilot light burns in many people who eventually settle down into a routine, even mundane, life. I think Mother Teresa, for example, often spoke to her spiritual director about her struggles with faith. Hey, like being in love, it’s grand when one is filled with big emotions, but such a state is fleeting, inherently unstable, and somewhat untrustworthy. Bet your bottom dollar on the steady, if low-power, pilot light that keeps burning. It’s not for nothing that Jesus mentioned the parable of the mustard seed.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Real Christians ought to act like St. Francis, not like those who go to church once a week to listen to groovy progressive music and back-slap each other about how “tolerant” and “inclusive” they all are. What I understand is that to be a Christian means to figuratively carry your own cross. God is not there to be your butler. He’s there to provide an overall template and presence to join with (err…at-one-ment)

            I was just reading some comments on parables and this thought stood out to me.

            The fruits of falsehood produce an easy religion which takes the iron out of religion, the cross out of Christianity. Any teaching which eliminates the hard sayings of Jesus, and which push the judgments of God into the background and makes us think lightly of sin is false. How do we avoid falsehood? By being true — true to God, his word, and his grace. And that takes character! Those who are true to God know that their strength lies not in themselves but in God who supplies what we need. The fruit of a disciple is marked by faith, hope and love, justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance.

            There have always been sheep and goats, bearers of good and evil fruit. But I wonder if today’s technology and obsession with self and comfort have not amplified the tendency.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              But I wonder if today’s technology and obsession with self and comfort have not amplified the tendency.

              I can’t help but think that that is a contributing factor, Mr. Kung. Whatever the case may be, it’s my judgment that Judaism and Christianity have both substantially lost their mind.

              First off, I’m not talking about anyone here. This crowd tends to be quite thoughtful. And I’ve been immersed in the rich thought of some truly outstanding Catholics. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare the finger-painting of a Kindergartener to Michelangelo, but why not have a high standard in mind for something like this? After all, we’re not talking sport, politics, or even women but about the Ultimates.

              The current Pope is a great example of the Catholics, in particular, having lost their mind. And Protestantism offers no few examples of just the kind of kumbaya-laced, nonjudgmental feelgoodism of so many churches of today. Having done a fair amount of reading and corresponding with various Michelangelos, for me it would likely be a regression to go to a typical church (although surely there must be some good ones out there somewhere).

              But church is way over-rated anyway. It’s a social function. And one thing I may have finally learned, Mr. Kung, is that everyone does it a little different. Church may not be that way (a mere social function) for some. I talk about my experiences and perhaps comment on the thoughts of others. But I’m long resigned to the fact that whatever “religion” I have is not the kind that pleases others, so I don’t look for any high-fives because, LOL, I know they won’t be forthcoming. But given that God is Great, and the mob is still just a mob, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I’m more of a stoic of sorts anyway. I’m not given to running off in flights of emotion. For me, the metaphor of the small pilot light is more apt, and one that often threatens to go out completely.

              But I’ve just seen too many religious people who, sadly, are creepy about it. Who knows what is real? But too many people to me seem like they’re engaging in superstition and are addicted to their emotions. Perhaps that’s the best they can do. I don’t know. But my threshold for belief regarding these types of things runs more toward the “show me” with a deepening appreciation for mystery and a lessening of a need for anything to make concrete scientific sense.

              But back to your initial notion. My own view is that a large percentage of people — Christian, Jewish, agnostic, or atheist — have absorbed the Left’s materialistic world view. That Prager article I linked to a while back (too lazy to look for it now) where Dennis noted that the Pope was parsing things through a strictly economic lens, not a personal conduct lens, was stunning. And certainly not at the top of the list for most Christians or Jews is avoiding sin and building character. No, the one-size-fits-all ideology now is various anti-poverty initiatives. The point now for many Jews and Christians isn’t the centrality of their faith. It’s the centrality of economics.

              That’s why I say that much of Judaism and Christianity has lost its head. And certainly this materialistic emphasis is consistent with an immersion in technology. Perhaps that’s why I feel the strong pull to get out in nature and away from all that.

              • GHG says:

                In my opinion too many people have the wrong idea about church. They think church is what they’re supposed to get out of it. If the sermon doesn’t happen to resonate then it was an unpleasing experience that particular Sunday. They don’t realize (or purposely ignore) that what they think of as church is nothing but a God stroke for them to feel good about themselves on the ride home from church before leaving their shallow piety to the side until it’s time to put it on again the following Sunday.

                I believe hearing the message is important, as is fellowship and whatever else you get out of church. But that stuff isn’t the primary reason for going to church. The primary reason isn’t what you get out of it – it’s what you give and I don’t mean the offering plate. It’s worship and praise to God. That’s what we are supposed to go to church to do. It’s supposed to be God focused – not self focused. It’s a humbling and blessed privilege to stand en masse and sing praises to the Almighty. Whether the sermon is inspiring or a let down.

        • GHG says:

          I don’t have many answers. I have faith.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ditto to what Mr. Lesser (aka “GHG”) said.

      Mr. Phillips, I thank you for your honest assessment. I’m also a deist, of sorts. But by studying biology, studying the theory of Intelligent Design, and studying the mostly creepy and dishonest apologetics of neo-Darwinism, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is indeed a designer of some sort. The question probably central to the labels of “deism” and “agnosticism” really has to do with, “Okay…a god is certainly possible, but what has that got to do with me?”

      This subject is truly massive. But let me say one thing first: Richard Dawkins says that anyone who disbelieves in neo-Darwinism (which has little evidence to support it) and who believes in a Designer or Creator is “Arguing from personal incredulity.” I think this whole subject has so obviously changed poles as to which should be the default position.

      I believe that those who insist on natural processes (or, at least, neo-Darwinian processes) are the ones arguing from personal incredulity. The complexity, integration, and sheer raw data storage of the cell are consistent not just with reasonable personal intuition but reason and evidence as well. There is no known process, other than an intelligent agent, for creating these extremely complex and fine-tuned systems. Yes…fine-tuned. As one essayist in “Uncommon Dissent” noted, the micro-machinery of life is very precise and minimalist in its design. This is not the stuff of a thrown-together random process.

      Granted, not being a dogmatist myself, nor one to argue (as Dawkins does) on a trumped-up and inflated assessment of one’s personal authority, it still could be possible that there is some unknown process or even some “force of nature” that we do not know about. But that is alway true regarding anything. You can’t prove a negative. But any reasonable assessment of the inner workings of the cell (and David Berlinski notes that the human brain and nervous system dwarf even the cell in terms of complexity) will assume purposeful design as a starting point. Not a dogmatic, never-can-change, starting point. And not a starting point meant to forever and always prove one’s religion. But a starting point based upon the most reasonable assumptions at this point.

      Life systems were designed. Now, they may well (and probably were) designed to evolve. And much of that evolution is going to be driven by a feedback loop with the environment. So “natural selection” isn’t as dopey a theory as one might suppose. It just doesn’t have the power on its own to do much of anything. What we can deduce further from all this (David Berlinski is pessimistic of our ability ever to know) is another thing.

      Careful science and careful philosophy are very difficult to achieve in this environment where, frankly, everyone is trying to prove their religion and so few are honoring the integrity of facts or reasonable suppositions. If it works out that as we learn things it all points to the literalism of the Bible, then fine. But I think we are hamstrung to begin with that assumption, just as we are hamstrung if we begin with the assumption that the universe is somehow the product of random and undirected forces.

      So, frankly, I don’t see deism as a terribly bad position to take at this point. Still, one must note that there is a distinct and important difference between the religion of atheism and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Atheism is a religion of grievance as opposed to hope (and the hundred million dead last century due to atheist regimes shows the danger of basing a philosophy on negation and grievance). In fact, as others have noted, neo-Darwinism itself is built directly upon (and dependent upon) an idealized and somewhat ridiculous view of God. God is the whipping boy that neo-Darwinists constantly trot out to prove their theory by default by saying, “A God would never design things this way.”

      I’m actually sympathetic to that view. The nastiness of life keeps me wondering what God has to do with me. Still, unlike Dawkins or any of these extremely obnoxiously egotistical Darwinists, I believe the universe is far bigger and more mysterious than I can imagine. Who the hell knows what a Designer has in mind? Heck, these rocket scientists on the Left can’t even figure out what drives Obama.

      • GHG says:

        “The nastiness of life keeps me wondering what God has to do with me.”

        Where does “nastiness of life” originate? Is there a purpose for it? Can there be right without wrong, love without indifference, beauty without ugliness, truth without falsehood?

        If this life is all there is for us, then the question of origins matter little more than an intellectual stimulation for me, and a deist position would be reasonable. But if our spirit or some form of our consiousness survives our material death, then the theist position seems more logical to me. And isn’t that the nub of it.

        If there is life after death, then I believe your answer to the question “Do you want a relationship with God or do you reject it?” becomes your eternal destiny.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Where does “nastiness of life” originate? Is there a purpose for it? Can there be right without wrong, love without indifference, beauty without ugliness, truth without falsehood?

          The possibility does exist that this is all one big ant farm or chemistry set. There is plenty of evidence to support this outlook. Just look around.

          I’m definitely conservative in regards to these things…in the sense that I’m not quick to sign up for Jonestown. I see in religion a lot of personal zealotry. Kookiness and losing one’s mind has never been a draw for me, even if it is labeled as something else.

          So call me a sober-minded theist, and one who isn’t too quick to read into things something that isn’t likely there. But with the evidence of the cell (and aspects of the “fine-tuned universe”), it pushes credulity way too far to call this random. It’s designed. There is a Designer. But I hesitate to buy into too many myths or stories from there.

          Why is there pain? Because we’ve sinned? Sure, sometimes. But sometimes (very often) bad things happen to good people. Can misfortune and pain shape a character for the better? Yes, without question. But it can also warp a character.

          The difficult (and interesting) thing about reality is that it’s hard to pin down purpose even if purposelessness can be dismissed as absurd or unlikely. To some extent, we are free to make our own purpose, which is no small miracle. As for larger purposes, it seems we humans tend to take our aspirations and start Writing Them In Capital Letters to try to make them grand or real. I’m not so sure this works though.

          As for life after death, I’m pretty sure that’s not the point. Life beyond the temporal, oh, sure…that’s very possible. But if all one is looking for is an extended tour of one’s present ego and personality in order to avoid death, I think one is barking up the wrong tree. I think that kind of thinking is way too involved in wish fulfillment.

          But to give your life to protect another. To give your life to the service of the Good. To center yourself beyond the small bounds of the ego and the profane, I say that’s all good, even if we don’t know all the rules of how things work or all the purposes that may exist.

          As for “Having a relationship” with God, that’s where I’m more like Job’s not-so-understanding brother. I’m not sure what it would really mean to have a “relationship.” And my own opinion is that it’s in the fuzzy and obscure penumbras that one gets closer to the truth rather than personifying that which likely is so far above us and unlike us. My “relationship to God” is to wonder at nature, explore knowledge, and pursue creativity. If God ever wants to start an actual conversation, I’ll listen. I really think for a lot of people to move from deism would require a God who is more communicative.

          Thanks for your thoughts, Mr. Lesser. They were good ones.

          • GHG says:

            Does God intervene in the affairs of people and nations? Are there miracles? I believe He does. I don’t know to what extent and I don’t know why sometimes and why not others. In fact I don’t know a whole lot.

            I’ve prayed many times for many reasons. I don’t know if any prayers were answered in whole or part except for two. I know that God twice answered a prayer of mine. Once when I was in my late teens and the second time when I was in my 30’s. Both times I was at my wits end. I was as low as I could be with no options and nowhere to turn – the proverbial hitting bottom. Within a split second of turning to God in prayer, I went from overwhelming despondency to an overwhelming assurance that it would be OK. It couldn’t have been clearer than if I had heard an audible word. Both times it evoked an emotion that welled up within me and spilled out my tear ducts, an emotion that I’ve felt only those two times. The first time took months to completely play out, but it did. The second time was with one of my children and there was an immediate result.

            I realize this kind of talk, or witness, sounds like a bunch of hooey to some people – a snake oil salesman level of malarkey. But, for me, it’s real beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don’t live a life worthy of my beliefs, but God has been there for me when I needed him most and I have faith that He will be again.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I realize this kind of talk, or witness, sounds like a bunch of hooey to some people – a snake oil salesman level of malarkey.

              No, not loony. That kind of stuff is the nature of the beast, so to speak. We’re talking about an epistemology that is decidedly non-materialist (or at least not constrained to materialism), is inherently personal and subjective, and also inherently fuzzy. But if one knows that one has had a walk on the Holy Side, then I just suppose one knows.

              It took me a while to figure out (still figuring out) that God is not my butler. I was never an atheist. In fact, I’ve long had a sixth sense about the bareness and stupidity of secular/socialist/atheist culture. Call it a gift (or just naturally obnoxious and anti-social). The Left side pines for Utopia. And when God does not bring it (atheism is inherently a grievance-based theology), then to hell with God.

              And I understand that. I’m sympathetic to that. And if there is a God, surely he understands that if you put people inside reality, sometimes in hellish conditions, with chaos and uncertainty all around, how could a Creator not expect people to doubt his good intentions (assuming good intentions, of course). Surely God is more complex in his mind than a libertarian.

              So anything we’ve thought of, you can figure a Creator has thought of too. Still, the whole thing is one big clusterf**k of a mystery. Given that the alternative is grievance, nihilism, or despair, and given that there is some purpose to this universe, faith is not an illogical position. But it’s one that is a curse, not a blessing, if one is eternally trying to find proof of one’s faith in this world. This world is one whole lot of mean hurt sometimes, Mr. Lesser.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I was raised to accept modern evolutionary theory, and never had any reason to doubt it. I have a considerable library of books on various aspects of natural history and evolutionary theory. But as the evolutionists have started trying to suppress dissenters and grossly overstate their case (such as claiming that all of biology is dependent on evolutionary theory, which is blatantly ridiculous), I have come to regard them much as I regard the zealots of global warming aka climate change aka climate disruption.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That element of ultimate design is why, some years ago, I gravitated back from agnosticism to deism. I think there has to be some sort of ultimate source. How much was designed, I’m not sure, though it wouldn’t surprise me if at least the prokaryote cell was designed.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The “design” question is ultimately of the type where it makes little sense to say that one is “a little bit pregnant.” Design, in the case of life is *everything*. And how much of the design allows for unguided adaptation to the environment is a good question.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The primary reason isn’t what you get out of it – it’s what you give and I don’t mean the offering plate. It’s worship and praise to God. That’s what we are supposed to go to church to do. It’s supposed to be God focused – not self focused.

    I think that’s a good way of looking at it, Mr. Lesser. And I agree with Joseph Campbell, of all people, that the Catholics, for instance, did a disservice to this aspect when they lost the Latin in the mass and turned the priest toward the congregation. Campbell said they lost that sense of transcendence, of being about something outside ourselves.

    Not having actually attended church for at least 45 years, my accounts are second hand. But it seems that a great many churches have morphed to some brand of “inclusion” and “tolerance” instead of preaching right and wrong. Some are better than others, but it’s my general impression that fire-and-brimstone preachers or priests are few and far between.

    Anyone with a child understands how much of a parent’s time goes toward saying “No, don’t do that” and instilling other morals. Does anyone seriously believe that a God in Heaven (in the role of parent) would have any less need to do so? So I’m underwhelmed by the nicey-nice Christianity that has morphed into the kind of vapid taste of saccharine and turns church service into a feel-good rock-and-roll session.

    And many churches have joined the “prosperity church” movement which (along with the poverty focuses of so many churches) accepts the premise of materialism.

    All of my operatives inside of churches across this great country have noted how flippin’ marketing-crazy the leadership of the churches have become. An anecdote (even a few of them) doesn’t a rule make. But one of my friends (a really good and old-fashioned Christian) told me about how she felt the need to do a little more and get involved in the leadership of her church. Long story short, she found a lot of petty back-biting politics, of course, which hardly made her blink. She knows people. What she was truly surprised at though was the focus on growth for growth’s sake. And the leadership had all kinds of plans and schemes for how to market the church. And she was of the idea that if you just authentically preached the gospel that people would respond to that. She was looked upon as a rube for saying such a thing. She quickly got out of trying to help.

    Assuming Christianity is true, something is deeply screwed up in the church. You’re more likely to find multi-thousand-dollar media and sound systems than sound doctrine and advice.

    As for worship and praise to god, I suppose I do that in my own way, if only by using my mind and asking questions and making observations. I’m of more of the disposition of a hermit in a cave who is more than willing to tell any random passerby to “Beware of Obama and other false prophets.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It sounds like you stopped attending church about the same time I did, or a bit later. I’ve attended various funerals and weddings at churches, and many events with Elizabeth at St. Matthews Baptist, but not regular services, since about late 1967.

      As for marketing, note that Jeremiah Wright’s church sold tapes of his sermons (which is how his extreme hatred of America as the Obamas’ pastor got out).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        It sounds like you stopped attending church about the same time I did, or a bit later.

        Brother Timothy, I stopped attending church when I stopped being forced to go. The parents, in retrospect doing what I think was the right thing for their children, forced us to go. But I think around the age of 12 or so, we stopped being forced to go. The details are fuzzy because I was not privy to any of the discussions for why to go and why to no longer go. Had I been asked, I might have gone once and then never again. I was bored out of my mind by it and nothing made any sense.

        Yes, like you, I’ve attended various funerals and a few weddings. And I did attend (by my own choices, the first and only time) a Catholic Christmas Mass about 25 years ago with my older brother. (I’ve actually done some business with that church lately, which is neither here nor there.)

        To me it all seems an artifice. Maybe I’m just inherently of the unbelieving type. But if we’re really talking about the Creator of the universe, it seems to me that people trivialize this idea in a millions ways, including sending out expensive 4-color mailings and stuff like that. Let me see….in the Bible it mentions Jesus with a microphone, a giant multimedia display backdrop, and crystal palace overhead while giving his Sermon on the Mount in stereo with CD’s and DVD’s available for purchase on your way out.

        Or did somebody just forget to write that all down?

    • GHG says:

      It’s not surprising that many churches have followed our culture in the primary focus of entertainment. Note the “followed” part of that statement. Many, if not most churches have rightly determined that the only way to get masses of people to come to church is to give them a good show. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, most churches remain true to their beliefs (whatever they may be), but the rationale is you can’t lead the sheep if they’re not sitting in the pews. So they focus on entertaining and slide in a little evangelizing here and there, so long as it doesn’t ruin the show.

      And therein lies the problem. It is called a worship service, after all, not a “feel good show”. Every journey starts with the first step and if the first step isn’t in the right direction then the journey is off path. The first step, the primary focus, must be on God. If it isn’t, then the church ends up where we find it today. The church (body of believers) are supposed to be salt and light, but the church (institution) has surrendered to the culture and decided it’s more important to keep their business afloat than to hold their members accountable to the principles they’re supposed to teach.

      It’s a sad state.

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